Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Write on Sunday Morning about a Wednesday

Ok, all agreed, A Wednesday is a great movie by normal Hindi commercial movie standards. There is this fantastic clash between the two titans, Nasseruddin Shah and Anupam Kher. Made me realise how underutilised they are in all the other movies they normally act in. Two fine actors. Great looking and great acting cast. Fast editing, great cinematography. But A Wednesday is a movie I stop a little short from saying "that's a great one".

The first half is beautiful though. The suspense builds up, the background score is great, very professional and all that. But to me, the tempo simply did not remain in the second half. It was...well, not exactly preachy but maybe a tad too idealistic. I thought of Rang de Basanti and that fantastic plan to kill the defence minister, an idealistic solution to the country's corruption. A Wednesday is much more subtle, but too stereotypical for me. Kher, towards the end, talks of how he would never reveal the common man's name because with the name, you tend to recognise the man's religion and subsequently, attach an entire perceived identity and a host of stereotypical ideals to him. But previously, there are the terrorists, all Muslims. That was what irritated me the most.

"Manufactured Consent", Noam Chomsky called it. I love that term because it explains in a phrase the entire hogwash the world is fed with, the explanations that you are forced to read, the thoughts your mind is told to think by the media, the powerful, those others with all vested interests. There is this gross generalisation in the film, the terrorist rants on about "their country and their people and their fight", chiding the police officer of not being on his side. A religion is automatically supposed to give you an entire set of rules on how you are to think, about how you are to perceive your position as regards to the "others".

Isn't that the world view? They are bad, everyone else is good. Watching the movie reminded me strangely of certain intimidating issues. Last week, on assignment, I was passing by this minority populated area. Every few feet, there was a saffron flag with the Om on it. I am a Hindu, by birth. My introduction to even fundamentalism goes back a long way, though i strictly do not subscribe to it. And yet, it intimidated me, made me think of how the others would perceive it. If a white robe, a green shawl, long beard and surma on the eyes could make most people look away or at least inwardly cringe, wouldn't a saffron flag do the same. When it can strangely intimidate a person of the same religion, what would be the effect on the others?

I generally avoid the issue of religion. This is one topic you can never really get right. You can only be politically incorrect. I have never been religious either. At best, I believe in God, at my worst, I forget to remember God. Am I secular? Not always. There are times I cringe too, and I write this with a tinge of disgust, on myself, for being part of that manufactured consent on what I am supposed to think. But that engineering of views that remodels itself every few decades and sets the agenda for the policies and opinions you have on people other than your own selves is something that you cannot really escape from. Isn't it easy, an act of terrorism, blame it on fundamentalism. The 'ism's that crop up are the perfect excuse its perpetrators have to explain their actions to the world and in a way justify them. We all do that. We cringe, nod our heads in silent consent at the typifying of actions, of dastardly acts.

We walk out of a movie, all praise, technically great, yes, but a consent factory still. Silently views we are supposed to see the people of the world are reiterated. It is too subtle to note. Yet manufacturing consent is that continuous process, the survival of the greats of the world, the strength of absolute power and subsequent corruption depends on this. I refuse to think the way I am told to. And yet, I manufacture consent. Doesn't that make them the winners?


Karthik L G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karthik L G said...

no point in rathod holding the name of the'common man' when all the terrorists had muslim names.. I agree with you too on this.

'manufactured consent' what a string meaning these 2 words give.. reading the reviews of movies by these famous critics on these newspapers and then deciding wether to watch a movie or not too is a form of this..isnt it?

i truly enjoyed this movie.. fast paced. powerful acting by every one especially 'common man' rathod and arif khan .. the first two are under utilized as u have observed
saw another movie minutes b4 watching this one..phoonk - though a failure I liked sudeeps acting. wht du say?

NAhai said...

You really put it well... Check out 'A Wednesday' for more...

NAhai said...

Checkout the review here...