Arts & Culture

Movies Beyond Screen and Time

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Thinking of revolutionary movies our screens found two movies released at a gap of 22 years but even after years telling the distraught and torn state of the land of hypocrisies and diversities, the land that is our nation. 

“Pandit Nehru made a horological mistake. At the stroke of midnight when India awoke to ‘light and freedom’, the world was not asleep. It was for instance, around two-thirty in the afternoon in New York,

This is how a 2005 film by Sudhir Mishra Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi begins. Set in the background of the Emergency period and the rise of the Naxal Bari movement in India. Another movie, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro by Kundan Shah from 1983, irrespective of its backdrop the movie can be located in any time frame except for its humour which has decayed to some extent. 


Jane Bhi Do Yaaro takes us on a ride of satire, social reflection, old-time comedy and the corrupt trio of media, corporates and administration. Two common men who set up a Photo Studio wait for their fates to take wings as they sit in Old Bombay’s Haji Ali area waiting for their customers. Upon getting hopeless, Naseeruddin Shah accompanied by Ravi Baswani sings “Ham Honge Kamyab…Ek din”. The hymn is followed by words, “Work which is done with utter determination always yields to good results.” Something we often hear on Sundays while lying around doing nothing. But the question that follows this dialogue sums up the fate of lacs of people in India, ‘When’? 


Setting aside my procrastination, this is a huge reason why I have given up on the self-help genre. Various problems faced by so many generations don’t spring up from waking up late or being hazy at work. Or maybe I have learnt the art of putting the blame for everything on societal problems. What follows the dream of these two photographers in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro can be called a theatrical mess enveloped with satire but a true picture of my beloved country. 


Meanwhile, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi follows the life of three individuals, Siddharth, Geeta and Vikram set in a love triangle. Both of our male leads open their character lines with letters written to Geeta. Siddharth, the son of a Muslim man and a Bengali woman coming from a highly privileged background has been radicalised as his ‘beliefs have strengthened’. He says ‘We have to change the world and change it fundamentally’. It’s not so hard to locate a Siddharth in today’s Delhi University as well. A person of high class talking about revolution, saying life is not all about English education while talking in English. He holds the bravado at the start and doesn’t restrict his craving for revolution only to words and slogans, he goes to Bhojpur, in the heart of the action. 


Vikram on the other hand is a child of the middle class whose father is a Gandhian socialist. He says his father’s main profession is to worry but it would have been great if he would have worried about his children. He goes on to become a fixer, involved with corrupt politicians while being madly in love with Geeta. Geeta, believed to be the strongest character, isn’t really an ideologue as Sudhir Mishra himself says 


“Geeta is a person who doesn’t expect the world to change because she wishes it to. That’s why she is the only one left sane and standing in the end. ” 


The movie tries to show the side of left radicalisation which remains only in slogans and talks and is highly romanticised. The movie begins in St. Stephens where Siddharth and his mates come up on a stage and tell students about the ‘new world order’. Such politics exists in university spaces till now, and at the start, it looks the most revolutionary and ‘world changing’, only until you realise they are just words for many.


The street play societies indeed can be an example that is thriving in front of us all. The plays might talk about dozens of problems in society with shining metaphors. Still, the same societies run on strict hierarchies and maintain the status quo that they wish to dismantle in their plays. When his life is in extreme danger, Siddharth returns to his father to the same class that he feigned about. 


Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro on the other hand showcases how two common men find themselves trapped in the corrupt trio that holds the power to dictate lives. The media that lures and threatens to reveal the truth or deceit, isn’t hard to relate given the extremes we have seen in our media channels in the past few years. The two men discover the murderer of an official and think of the media as their allies while they are being entrapped in deceit. The last scene brings them all on a stage where Saleem and Anarkali meet the scenes of Mahabharata while the curtain falls on two men being held guilty for being two common men. In between the dazzling costumes and humorous exchange, lie the words Satyamev Jayate at one corner under webs and dirt. 


Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi brings in the ideological dilemma and the wish to change the order in the forefront. Many might watch it for Swanand Kirkire’s melody Bawara Mann while for many it’s a radical movie to be watched so as to become a part of the revolution talks in their groups. Many might watch Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro just for young Naseeruddin Shah (guilty). But both of these movies attempted to showcase something both in their content and in their cinematic form. 


Writers like me might act at the shock value delivered and write something pessimistic about the country’s way of being while humming notes of “Hum Honge Kamyab”. To call these movies revolutionary or not, cannot be decided by an article, for some say even 3 Idiots changed their way of thinking, so was it revolutionary, in any way? The words of Siddharth in his letter to Geeta have stayed with me for they in a lot of ways describe our generation as well.


Who do we think we are? Strutting around, sprouting a radical jargon. A little politics, some rock and roll, but mostly shock value.


Kashish Shivani

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