In his seminal work “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, the great German philosopher Nietzche gave the world the concept of Übermensch or “over-man”. Widely misinterpreted through the ages, Hitler for instance used it as the philosophical underpinngs of Aryan superority, Übermensch is a notional anthropomorphization of “ultra-humanism”, a supreme being who while being infallible and possessing the power to create not just worlds but also values, is still not a God, because he is, by definition, human.
In other words,
Koi Hume sant kehta hai, Koi kehta hai farishta, Koi kehta hai Guru, To koi kehta hai bhagwan…Lekin hum toh hai sirf ek…Insaan
MSG is the film Nietzche would have made, had he been alive today and possessed verdant shoulder hair.
The connection between MSG and Nietzche could not be deeper. “Egoism is the very essence of a noble soul” is what Nietzche had once said, and MSG is three hours of nobility and egoism, on an uber (and I am not talking about the taxi service) scale.
For instance, the titular character is referred to as Pitaji. The name itself is significant, because according to Nietzche , “Whoever does not have a good father should procure one”, and much if not all of the film’s narrative is about the disaffected, the ignorant, the tired and the misguided finding a good father. Or to quote “Hum Ek Aise Baap Hai Jo Dushmano Ke Liye Akele Hi Kaafi Hai”.
Pitaji embodies the concept of Übermensch. He is infallible. Men swoon in front of him. His patented elixir Ruhani Jam cures the incurable. Beautiful women beg “Please please please let me make a documentary on you, please please”. He is God-like in that he can edit the laws of Physics like it was a file open on his desktop. Just on a whim, he bursts out of a glacier. He generates magnetic fields of great intensity using solenoid-curls of shoulder-hair, so intense that they absorb the kind of electricity that would light a city. He explodes on the stage like the Big Bang. He can obliterate a huge log with a gentle karate chop. Like Magneto, he can manipulate metal. He can make matter disintegrate at the atomic level, with simply a beatific smile. Lead bullets become flowers, and steel metamorphoses to gold that then becomes his crown. There is deep symbolism here, as any keen student of Nietzche would recognize. “I name you three metamorphoses of the spirit: how the spirit shall become a camel, and the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) and while I may have missed the camel among all the action, there were definitely many children and, also most pointedly, a giant lion with humongous wings, the wings of course symbolizing the ascent of the spirit to a higher plane.
To continue. He plays football like Pele. He gets prostitutes married off. He is a global rockstar. He takes terrorists out with sonic waves. He convinces armies of men and women to donate blood while armies dance Bhangra around them. He invents a game called Goalstick. He outwits the Nasha Mafia. He solves global warming. Plants fold their leaves and do namaskar to him. When he is bored, he careens through space-time. He drives multi-colored Batmobiles. He makes clay pots with his hands. .
Yet despite being so God-like, he is a human, as he keeps on saying over and over again, of course an evolved version, like if Steve Jobs had designed human beings or as they would call it in Apple, i-Übermensch.
I will grant you this though. MSG is a very difficult film to understand, so subtle and layered are the meta-narratives. For instance, Pitaji’s clothes, in keeping with his Übermensch-ness are shown to span the entire electromagnetic spectrum. This might seems trippy and crazy to the uninitiated, especially when he moves like a blur of color, but to the wise is deeply significant, representing as it does every frequency in the visual range of insaans, a message or should I say MSG of acceptance and equality. There are allusions galore, like when the pretty Ukranian reporter comes near a tree, partakes an apple, finds a snake curled up on the branch and right then Pitaji appears, wearing the US flag as a shirt, and subdues the snake, a thoughtful alternative narrative to the Garden of Eden parable or US intervention in Eastern Europe, take your pick.
Difficult though it be, MSG is definitely a great achievement. It’s not easy capturing the complex philosophy of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” on celluloid, and I am amazed someone has attempted and accomplished this so perfectly.
Will a film as deep as this be made again?
As the song from MSG goes, “Never ever”.