Monday, October 11, 2010

The Common Man

This weekend was one of a kind: for a few hours I actually diverted my mind from the most important thing in this world: MYSELF, and focused on the bigger picture, the bigger India, so to speak.

I watched Peepli Live: probably the most brilliant movie of this year- satirical, funny, and poignant at the same time. It tackled a serious issue (farmer suicides) and yet it never took itself too seriously, it conveyed a message and yet it did not preach, it highlighted the plight of the common man and yet it wasn’t pompous. It definitely was Oscar material: it showed the darker, poorer side of India which is the defining criteria for an Indian film to get noticed at an international forum. India Shining has no takers but poverty surely sells!

But more than Peepli Live, it was “The Common Man”- a theatre based on RK Laxman’s iconic cartoon which dominated the front pages of The Times of India for decades that stole my heart. Make no mistake, I am not the arty kinds; I don’t regularly visit art galleries or Prithvi Theatre every weekend, and I definitely don’t appreciate anything which remotely suggests, ‘good taste’: classical music, instrumental, book launches and so on and so forth. In my life I have watched some 4 theatres in total, the first one being ‘Class of 84’ in my college auditorium: Sophia Bhabha Hall. So on Saturday, when I had a chance to watch Professor Ajit Kelkar (apparently he is famous) as The Common Man in my college auditorium after four years, I couldn’t refuse. While the technical glitches were embarrassing, the performance was outstanding. The 90 minute show traversed the sixty years of political history in India post independence through selected cartoon strips: the humour was subtle, the sarcasm was apparent, and the attack on politics was politely scathing. It did make me feel guilty for not voting, it did stir me out of my usual apathy towards politics, it did make me conscious of my indifference.

Call it a temporary insanity, but for a couple of hours, I was actually entertaining thoughts of being a ‘responsible citizen’, of ‘doing something to change the system’, of ‘making a difference’, but by later in the night, I was back to being myself, i.e. uploading my CV and applying for jobs.

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