Why Meet Behind Veils When We Both Are Human?

January 18, 2012 at 9:15 PMJan (Cinema, Literature, Media, Musings, Poetry, Slice Of Life)

I couldn’t read the autobiography of Balwant Gargi ‘Purple Moonlight‘ completely. I stopped half way through. There comes a part in the autobiography where Balwant Gargi along with a few friends, including Gulzar, is having a light moment over the table. Something happens, which cannot recollect now, and Gulzar screams, “Behanchod.”

That was it. I did not read a word more than that.

As a teenager, still quite conservative, I couldn’t accept that my hero Gulzar could “fall down” to the level of using abusive words like “Behanchod.” How could the man who used words like “Saundhi” “Gulposh” “Aayat” etc use a word like “Behanchod”? No my mind, those days, could not take it. The book offended me. I stopped reading it. Had it not been a library copy, probably I would have even torn it apart.

Now I laugh at myself when I think of the reason why I stopped reading the book half way through.

Over a year ago while in Heggodu I broke into a random conversation with Shamik Sir. After touching upon quite a lot of topics the conversation came to Ritwik Ghatak. Speaking of his tryst with Ritwik Ghatak, Shamik Da spoke of how Ghatak wrote the article ‘Sound in Cinema’ for a magazine that Shamik Da was editing. As the conversation continued I mentioned about the thesis ‘On Cultural Front’ submitted by Ritwik Ghatak to the Communist Party of India and asked why should have that thesis cost him the party membership, when the thesis did not differ much from the party lines of those days. That is when Shamik Da said that Ritwik Ghatak was held guilty of a creative crime! My eyebrows tightened out of disbelief. “Yeah” said Shamik Da, to reassure realizing I was shocked, and repeated his words.

The conversation ended there, for that day.

Next morning when I met Shamik Da for breakfast I told him that I had not slept the entire night thinking of what he had told me about Ritwik Ghatak. Shamik Da smiled. “No Sir, he is my hero. I worship him. You shouldn’t have told me about it,” I said in a depressed voice. “He was a normal human like you and me and made mistakes like you and me,” said Shamik Da and added, “but in spite of all his limitations, as a human, he was an unmatchable genius.” I did not look convinced so Sir continued, “His mistakes does not make him a less genius. His creative works are before us and reflect his genius. But because he was a genius it doesn’t mean he was a superman. He was also a commoner like us bound to make mistakes and he did.”

As said by Kahlil Gibran every man has it in him the capacity to rise to the heights of a saint and to fall to the lows of a criminal. If Ghatak could rise to the creative level of making exceptionally brilliant films, writing short stories and plays he also had it in him to commit some creative mistakes. The trivia unveiled by Shamik Da grounded Ritwik Ghatak on earth in my world.

When Shamik Da explained to me that Ghatak was a common man as much as he was genius I revisited my experience of reading Gargi’s autobiography and leaving it incomplete.

Now these two incidents come back to me when the saffron brigade has attacked Prajavani and Dinesh Aminmattu for the article that was written by Dinesh Aminmattu in Prajavani on Swami Vivekananda based on the book ‘The Monk as a Man’ speaking of the other and unknown side of Vivekananda, like him being a non-vegetarian, a bad teacher- thrown out of an institute for the same, having a weak health, willing to have food in the house of a bhangi, opposing brahminism etc.

Tu Khuda Hai Na Mera Ishq Farishton Jaisa,
Dono Insaan Hai Toh Kyun Itanaey Hijaabon Mein Miley.

[You are no God nor is my love like that of an angle
Why meet behind veils when we both are human?]

                                                                                                      – Ahmed Faraaz

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