Monday, September 07, 2009

Celebrating human helplessness!

Watched "Kagaz Ke Phool" today, after persistent recommendations from a friend. In short, the movie may be considered a classic, but I did not like it. However, this does not anywhere lessens the contention of the movie to be a great one, otherwise, why would I write a blog about it.

I don't understand, what pleasure Guru Dutt derived in portraying himself as a character , who was always misunderstood and rejected by the people. Since childhood I have this expression that his movies depict depression and helplessness of human nature. But now, when I have seen a couple of them, I realise that this helplessness is not of human nature, it is of a certain character, the protaganist, around whom all the things revolve. He has tried to create a paradox with his movies. The paradox of bringing in centre a life of a person, who has been brutally sidelined by the society.

One may argue that such characters exist in our society, who resign to their fate. My answer to them is yes, they do exist; but I am sure they are not the ones, who form majorities. Resigning to ones fate to the extent that you start living the life of a worm is definitely not that happens with a normal person. And even Dutt's own movies show that people with self-respect find out a way to die respectfully. Take the example of female lead, Shanti, played by Vahida Rehman. Did she lose anything less? She never had a family, her love was snatched away from her after giving her names, she did not have the job or the direction to live a life, yet she finds some purpose to live it. She goes to a tribal area and starts teaching students. This is what people commonly do! They remain sad.. but do not let their sadness convert into a feeling of self-pity. After all, there is a very minute difference between the feeling of self-esteem and ego.

The character of Guru Dutt may excel in terms of acting, but it has failed terribly in making me believe that some people live a life like this and they deserve to be portrayed as the protagonist. Why do we need to celebrate this helplessness?

I feel that Devdas also was a loser. Other characters like Chandramukhi and Paro, were far more substantial, real and human-like. But I don't understand why for so many decades, we are appreciating Devdas as a legendary masterpiece. Do we feel solace, when we identify that we are not the only ones, who have been knocked out by the world and yet breathing in and out, cursing the same world for its injustice. Just like madness, helplessness is also a way to reach ecstacy. Once you let the world accept that you are mad, you free yourself for doing everything, which has been critically examined by the world and whose examination has affected you badly. Similarly, once you establish that the world has done enough bad for you to struggle for anything good.. you free yourself from being accountable. For now, you are not responsible for anything that happens with you, it is this rude bad world that is doing so; and since you have already detached yourself from it, you do not want to answer or question anybody. A state of complete resignation - not to the fate, nor to the God - to this wickedest form of self-destruction.

And strangely, our old novelists loved portraying such characters, showing them mingling with an enigma, left to the audience to be solved.