A friend called and said, “I cant digest it. My father called me this morning to tell me that he expects me to write an article against JNU,” and after a small but heavy pause continued to say, “We discussed politics at home but never before it got so angry and heated.”
Just few days ago another friend was telling me about an argument she was having with one of her students over the JNU issue and how this otherwise nice boy was becoming unreasonable in this matter. The debate went on until the student ‘unfriended’ the teacher.
These two conversations made me go back in time to November when I was working for a film and as a member from the direction department was handling actors, especially local actors.
It was the time when the Tippu Sultan issue erupted in Karnataka turning things quite violent. The shooting schedule did not leave with much time for everyday newspapers. I learnt about the bandh through a child actor who when asked to take prior permission from school for a leave to be present at the set. Later when the child actor came to the sets on the following day I asked her, casually, if she is happy that she did not miss on the attendance due to bandh. The child actor said, “I am happy about it and also happy that the Hindus are not taking the blow silently like they always do.” I was shocked by the answer for this girl who otherwise was a sweet girl playing childish funny pranks had so much of anger in her tone as she uttered those words!
For some of the crowd scenes that were being shot the crowd had to be held for long without letting them get bored of the shooting process which can actually get boring. I used to engage these ‘extras’ in some conversation and inevitably the matter would move to politics and especially communal politics. The venom being spitted at the minorities shook me completely. These were students from Under Grads and PU. Some of them mothers holding the hands of their kindergarten kids.
As much as I wanted to debate and discuss with all these people I avoided it because my responsibility was to ensure that they would be in the sets and be there till the takes get over. I wasnt sure if we started to debate there would be any control over the talks and the situation for there was so much anger in the words.
These are the same people who came across days as extras to the set and having to deal with me spoke very affectionately to me as “Samvartha aNNa” (brother) and who brought sweets from home for me on deepaawali and who suggested medicines exercises and more importantly kept inquiring about my back ache which I had developed in the process of the shoot.
Sharing room with me and couple of other actors was a senior artist who we all respected for his stature and his greatness as an artist. He would wake up early in the morning daily and go for a walk and bring newspapers. When, during the Tippu Sultan controversy, Girish Karnad made a statement (with which I wouldnt agree completely) the senior artist, with the newspaper in his hand, said, “These intellectuals are too much.” There was such hatred and disgust in his tone that a fellow roommate and I felt a bit disturbed on realizing that this senior artist who we respect so much was communal deep down in his heart. But otherwise a magical artist and a graceful person. But after that statement things were not the same…
This is something that I have been sensing since the runway to the 2014 elections when almost all my childhood friends, carried away by the communal party, started appearing not just differently but also distant to the point that I would wonder if we did really share time and space in our growing up years. Suddenly the politics was not just a matter of discussion but a matter which started fracturing interpersonal relationships. It became too passionate and too personal and too vicious breaking apart human relationships or causing strain on human relationships which otherwise would have been a smooth human relationship with its differences. The aggression of the times, triggered by the fascist air, has cost us our personal lives too. It has turned the otherwise good humans into venom spitting lesser humans. Suddenly we realize that this aggressive politics has seeped in way too much into our lives and it is way too difficult to have a harmonious interpersonal relationship respecting differences without making the differences cause some kind of discomfort and distance.
Life and world is loosing warmth. This is a sad situation of banality of the communal, I guess, is one of the greatest tragedies of the times we are living in, I guess.