Humans Are Not Like An Arrow…

October 28, 2012 at 9:15 AMOct (Activism, Cinema, Friends, Literature, Musings, Poetry, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy, Theater)

While speaking of Mani Kaul and his films Shama Zaidi, in class, remembered an incident from the past involving her, Mani Kaul and B.R. Chopra. After some award function, she said, B.R. Chopra made a comment on Mani Kaul saying, “You make money by takings funds from government to make films.” To this, she remembered, Mani Kaul responding by saying, “We at least make films. You only make money.” This response angered B.R. Chopra and on the next day made him burst out in the presence of Shama Zaidi saying, “What does he think of himself? What does he know about me? I was a peasant leader in my village during pre-partition.” Listening to his words Shama Zaidi said, “I almost fainted listening to him.”

Narrating this incident Shama Zaidi said she later mentioned about it to another senior actor who was also in the present Pakistan during pre-partition days. On listening Shama’s narration of the incident in a comic manner the senior actor said, “Yes, he used to be a peasant leader,” which Shama said shocked her completely.

“You never know what kind of history people have and how they can change,” said Shama Zaidi and quoted the example of Ramanand Sagar who once upon a time was a member of the Progressive Writer’s Association and whose novels were appreciated as progressive writing. Ramanand Sagar later went on to make the Ramayana tele-serial in the earliest days of the aggressive waking of Hindutva fundamentalism.

Yes, we never know how people change. It makes us uncomfortable when the move of the difference is slide down. While working on my M.Phil thesis on the theater movement in Karnataka i.e. Samudaaya I was re-reading the autobiography of Siddalingaiah, an important Dalit poet and activist in Kannada. His autobiography gives an account of his life his struggle as a Dalit individual and gives a glimpse into the world of Samudaaya theater movement too. His aggressive struggle narrated in his autobiography is a moving account and so is the account of the activities of the Dalit movement in Karnataka then. But in the days when I was revisiting his autobiography Siddalingaiah had become a part of the system and lost all the fire inside him and in one of those days had also given a press statement saying, “We need to learn a lot from Bhagavatgeeta too,” which the Siddalingaiah who we come across in the autobiography wouldn’t/ couldn’t have said.

A similar example from the Marathi scenario would be Namdeo Dhasal who moved from the aggressive Dalit Panther to the Thakre team.

One of the poets from Nepal named Bhupi Sherchan can be another example. I remember how much I loved his poems when my student friend Prasith introduced me to the works of Bhupi Sherchan by translating his works from Nepali to English for me. I had also translated the poems to Kannada. After years when I chanced upon a book on Bhupi Sherchan during my days in JNU, it was quite disappointing to learn that the revolutionary Bhupi Sherchan in his last days almost became a man of the state and system which also got reflected in his poems.

Once I had discussed this matter with one of my mentors, taking the example of Siddalingaiah, Dhasal and Bhupi. What my mentor told me was interesting. He said, “None of us are like an arrow that takes flight from the bow. An arrow has an aim, a purpose. Humans aren’t like that. There is no path or an aim for life. It finds its own path. It has no purpose so thee is no missing of the aim in life. What we need to understand is that though they all moved away from the values that we believe in, at one point, they gave their energy their strength to the movement to the cause that we believe in, in their own manner and thus strengthened the movement. While they believed in the cause and movement they stood by it. When their beliefs eroded they moved away. There is no ‘digressing’ in life because humans are not born with a single aim in life a bull’s eye which s/he has to reach. There is only being and nothingness. In the becoming one can move in any direction and many direction for s/he is no arrow that took flight from a bow and has to reach a specific destination (aim). Their contribution to the cause the movement is valid, though they moved away.”

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