Amidst the tumultuous events of the last few weeks, two patriots have risen from the flames, very different in their perspectives, almost mirror opposites and yet combined, they somehow complete each other (like Batman and the Joker). Or maybe the more accurate word would be—neutralize each other.
One is of course minorities minister Antulay, whose patriotic credentials were never in doubt —after all who could be a greater patriot than someone, who as a chief minister, was convicted of extorting builders to donate to an Indira Gandhi trust. The fact that such a person, even after this, can hold a ministerial post is evidence enough of how high we value his service to the nation.
If patriotism be defined as the ability to question the wounds of the country as it bleeds, to speculate on internal conspiracies without providing an iota of evidence, then yes Antulay is almost the gold standard.
Not that there has not been a knee-jerk reaction to Antulay’s patriotism. The RSS/Hindu right wing nutjobs in the press, worried that their game of blaming Pakistan and the minorities for everything has been busted, struck back through two of its most vicious spokesmen—M. J. Akbar and Javed Akthar— who have publicly lashed out at Antulay-ji.
M.J. Akbar has blamed Antulay for the most cynical of vote-bank pandering by casting doubt on whether Pakistan is involved and Javed Akthar has expressed his “disappointment, horror and shock” at Antulay-ji’s statement and condemned the minister for how he has given “leverage to Pakistan”. What Hindutva advocates like M.J. Akbar and Javed Akthar do not understand is that the honorable minister never said that Pakistan was not involved. Neither did he say there was an internal conspiracy or that the whole thing was “engineered” by other agencies. No he never said that. [He did however say in 2006, that a mysterious blast was caused in Naned by Hindus posing as Muslims]
Now you may very well reason that the mischievously full of meaning sentences he uttered strongly imply the involvement of internal agencies and casts doubt on the entire Kasab testimony and Pakistani sponsorship.
Well if you say that, that’s your problem, that’s your dirty mind that is making the logical connection.
Like when I say “Choli ke peeche kya hain” and you think of anything other than “dil” then who is responsible for the vulgarity here?
You or me?
The situation here is kind of similar to the old gent who when he hears that a girl has had her dignity violated says “In our days, shareef girls would not be out so late”. If based on this, you accuse the old uncle of casting aspersions on the girl’s character and implying that she deserved her fate, then it’s you who are drawing sinister conclusions when all that old uncle did was make an innocent observation on how things were when he was young.
The other uber patriot who has shoved himself reluctantly into the national spotlight is none other than the ex-host of Antakshari, Annu Kapoor [Factoid: In this IMDB entry he is credited for his appearance in “Raincoat” (2004) as man who wanted to use the toilet] . Nowadays he is seen on Zee TV as a judge on a reality show called “Ek Se Badkar Ek: Chota Packet Bada Dhamaka” (not to be confused with the LET training module by the same name on small box bombs) together with some of the other thought-leaders of today like Kunal Kolhi (award winning director of classics like “Hum Tum”, “Fanaa”, “Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic” and “Mujse Dosti Karoge”) and Rakhi Sawant (a patriot of no small reputation who volunteered her services for the homeland thus: “Had they airdropped me from a helicopter in their rescue operation, I would have danced in skimpy clothes and seduced all the terrorist inside and would have killed them one-by-one. I know, eventually they will also kill me, but I do not mind dying for my country.”). In the said show, pre-teens sing and dance, sometimes executing the most uncomfortable and age-inappropriate steps and expressions, with their proud mothers cheering them on while the judges give points for the performances.
In an episode of this show [Video Link], that was recorded after 26/11 one of the kids sings “Rang De Basanti Chola” . Anu Kapoor gives the kid extra points for singing a patriotic song. Kunal Kolhi objects saying that they are judging the kids based on their performance and not on song selection—-by giving extra points for just the selection of a patriotic song, Anu Kapoor is being unfair to the other children.
Caption: Saarrr, Iske Upar Naheen Bolne Ka…..
Annu Kapoor, who evidently was already in a “Thoda emotional ho gya” state, just exploded, like a man would if he had wanted to use the toilet in 2004 (when Raincoat was released if you recall) and has been waiting since. Using a tone of voice I last heard outside our neighborhood “Boy’s Club” in Kolkata when a drunk was shouting at his wife, Annu-ji stood up and bellowed, at the top of his voice, using a style that can be characterized as patriotic-tapori— ” Saaarrrr iske upar naheen bolne ka”.
Now I confess that ever since I watched “Mujse Dosti Karoge” I have always wanted to stand in front of Kunal Kohli and yell, in a similarly frothing hysterical way, ” Sarrr iske baad direction naheen karne ka” and so I found this outburst more than mildly pleasing.
Kunal Kohli, who evidently does not think that at times like this we need to shout our lungs out and wear our patriotism on our forhead, decided to walk out of the show as he was not “going to share a platform with someone who does not know how to behave himself”.
Caption: Aankhiyon se Goli maare—Shoot Me !
But our Patriot missile was just getting started. Jumping off the stage in a blur of action, he started yelling what I can only suppose were words of supreme desh-bhakti, so powerful were they that Zee TV silenced them out. He then pranced onto the stage and thrust out his chest asking “them” to “shoot him”, so ready he was to give his life up in front of some frightened children, their parents and imaginary enemies. A lesser patriot might be ready to take a chest full of bullets in the hell-hole of a Taj on 26/11 but it requires a special breed to ask for death in the most non-threatening environment possible.
The finale to this tour de force of glowing patriotism came when Annu Kapoor took the mike and with all the cameras on him started singing ” Kaheni hain ek baar hume is desh ki paheredaron se, samaal ke rahena kadam kadam par, chupe huye gaddaron se” as the children, spontaneously, start marching.
Caption: I love my country. Do you–Gaddar?
Whether the chupe huye gaddar refers to Pakistani spies or to the judge who refuses to give extra points for patriotic songs, we know not (nor do we care) but I did have a lump in my throat when this glowing ember of desh-prem concluded his song by pumping his fists and shouting “Vande Mataraam” and “Jai Hind”.
The last time I recall getting this carried away with patriotism was when I saw that famous scene from “Clerk”. [Video Link] Ashok Kumar is an ex-Azad Hind fauji who is dying of a heart ailment. One of his sons comes back from the doctor and announces with barely concealed hatred that the doctor (whose name may have been Dr. Kunal Kohli) had, horror of horrors, asked for his fees. It is then that Manoj Kumar, the greatest patriot that ever drew breath, tells the family that he has the cure for his father, Ashok Kumar. He pops in a tape of Kadam Kadam Baraaye Ja, the Azad Hind Fauj anthem and lo and behold, the patriotic electricity it unleashes inside Dadamoni bursts through the blocked arteries and before you can say “Holy shit, they actually filmed this without doubling up with laughter” Ashok Kumar is singing the song and marching to it, joined by the family.
Note the parallels between that immortal scene and the Annu Kapoor incident—both in terms of the focus being the patriotic song and the passionate marching at the end.
In conclusion, I think all of you will agree with me when I say that with patriots like this, we can be sure that we are in safe hands.