NaMopium In Schizophrenic Times

April 10, 2014 at 9:15 AMApr (Activism, Friends, Literature, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

Few weeks ago in an educational town, in coastal Karnataka, a play was staged which I had the fortune of watching. It is an interesting play which dramatizes, in its first half, the poem of Vayalar in which Seeta is the daughter of Ravan. The play begins with Seeta in Ashok Van and as it proceeds we see Mandodari explaining to Seeta that she is the daughter of Ravan who had left Seeta in the ocean after listening to the prediction of the holy saints that she will cause the death of her father. Saying so Mandodari pleads to Seeta to accept Ravan as her father and stop Rama from fighting the battle against Ravan. Seeta refuses to accept the story narrated by Mandodari and we see Ravan getting prepared for the war.

In the second half of the play the man who played Ravan in the first half is attacked by Hindu fundamentalist group for he is said to be the writer of the play staged in the first half. The artist tries defending himself explaining the play is adapted from a poem and by placing arguments of freedom of speech and expression. But nothing makes an impact and finally when the fundamentalist group makes unwanted remarks on the daughter of the writer he ends up killing the leader of the fundamentalist group.

The play was interesting because the creative artist who in the play is trying to reclaim his relationship with his daughter, in the second half is trying to reclaim his creative freedom. At a deeper level the daughter can be seen as a creation and creativity as the force of creation. So he- Ravan the creative artist- is trying to reclaim his creative energy creative force and creation in an atmosphere where the Rama is trying to own Seeta and make her into his ‘daasi’ and the fundamentalist groups whose icon happens to be Rama (also, socio-political censor board) are trying to hijack the creation, creative freedom and creative force and make them its slave. Ram not being there on stage made it even the more beautiful and truthful because these forces of censorship are invisible forces.

I wrote a mail to the Writer-Director who also played the role of Ravan congratulating him and appreciating the play, though we did not know each other. Following a few mail exchanges the writer-director and I met for a cup of chai. Sitting next to a push-cart near the bus stop sipping hot chai we spoke. Expressing his desire to get into the Film Institute he asked me about my experience. As we continued we spoke about writers, especially poets. We spoke of Gulzar, Faraaz, Majaaz, Muktibodh, Piyush Mishra, Ramdhari Singh Dinker. And about the theater scenario of Delhi where both of us had spent some time and knew some artists in common.

After a point when he said how he felt good about the mail I wrote to him we entered the topic of his play. He asked me, “What is the problem of these fundamentalist groups, especially Hindu groups?” I did not know how to answer or rather where to start from. Instead I said had his play been staged in the nearby towns (Udupi-Mangalore) then possible he would have faced the wrath of moral policing and communalism. “But why?” I tried explaining a bit and then went silent for a while. When I went silent he asked me who I am supporting in the coming elections. I laughed and said, “I don’t know who I am supporting but I know who I am against.” “Narendra Modi,” he completed my lines. I nodded. I then asked who is he supporting. “There is a wave of Narendra Modi in the nation and I have flown with the wave. I don’t support BJP nor endorse their views about religion and culture but I think the nation now needs an efficient and strong leader like Narendra Modi. If Congress comes to power they will sell the nation in installments and if BJP comes to power there is the fear of fundamentalism increasing. But Narendra Modi will be the right person to lead the nation.”

There was a need for me to pinch myself to see if what I was experiencing is in real.

Someone who wrote such a nice play, a political play where he attacks right wing politics and who has strong views against fundamentalism and upheld the right to freedom of speech and expression and spoke about it even in his play, whose world view did not clash in accepting multiple Ramayanas, was telling that he is “carried away” by the “Narendra Modi wave” and that he feels the nation now needs an “efficient leader like Narendra Modi.”

Couple of weeks before this happened in the 1984 reading group started by a few friends, a Bengali boy born and brought up in Ahmedabad went on bashing the Left. When a couple of them, who knew his Left bashing politics, smiled he said, “Yes I am a Narendra Modi fan and want him to be the PM.” As he uttered this another boy tried arguing and the Ahmedabadi born Bengali boy said, “Dude I know Narendra Modi is responsible for what happened in 2002. I know he had orchestrated it. In fact a police official who took the orders had told this to me way back in 2005. I know all of it. His development might not be to the extent it is being portrayed. But he has a vision.”

My heart stopped beating. My mind went numb. Suddenly I realized that evidence about the 2002 attacks and about the flaws of Modi’s development were of no use in the times we live in where everyone seem to be high over NaMopium. Few days into this I read the piece by Thane Richard saying the moral boundary has been crossed and people had made “peace with the possibility of him [Modi] being guilty.” With great pain I had to accept the analysis.

Couple of weeks after this I meet this extremely talented writer director whose play is progressive and takes a strong position against right wing fundamentalism who tells me that his heart is with Narendra Modi.

A thought passed my mind as I went back to my cup of chai not knowing how to continue to the conversation. Many, like the Ahmedabad bread Bengali boy seem to believe Utopia is here. While many like me seem to believe dystopia is here. But the writer director whose plays are progressive but supports Modi made me feel that not utopia or dystopia but some sort of schizophrenia is here. It felt like we are living in is schizophrenic times.

Few days ago the writer-director called asking if we could meet. He said he wanted to read out his new play to me. We did meet later in the day. He read out the play. It again was a political play and a good play, I must say.

He asked me for my feedback when he finished reading the play. I sighed thinking that in a few days he will be casting his vote.


  1. shivam parekh said,

    सबसे खतरनाक वह दिशा होती है… जिसमें आत्मा का सूरज डूब जाए ….
    और उसकी मुर्दा धुप का कोई टुकड़ा… आपके जिस्म के पूरब में चुभ जाए…..
    Sorry Paash…
    अब की बार मोदी सरकार.

  2. actorishshivam said,

    Reblogged this on actorishshivam's Blog and commented:
    jab seher humara sotta hai…

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