JHUND: On Extra Baggage and Flying

March 9, 2022 at 9:15 AMMar (Cinema, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

In Nagaraj Manjule’s JHUND, at a very early stage of team building, Vijay Borade, the coach of the yet-to-be-built team, is having a freewheeling discussion with the team members, and an airplane flies over their heads. Breaking away from their then happening conversation, Vijay takes a detour and explains how airplanes fly. He explains, “There is a life lesson in this knowledge of science,” and without much underlining, very casually tells how it is important to go against the force to be able to fly.

After nearly an hour after this scene, we see one of the key players of the team, and the film, Don, played very beautifully by Ankush Gedam, is unable to board the flight that promises a tour that can change the course of his life. The hurdle in the path is partially because of his past records, unmistakable caused by the uneven order of things in the world, and also partially by external forces which are structural. Somehow he, with the support of his friends and well-wishers, clears some of the hurdles and gets his passport, only to be stopped at the checking. Here the narrative moment turns into metaphor and sheer poetry… Don is now expected to overcome a hurdle within, externalized in the narrative through a weapon, which signifies rage and the need for revenge, without which the gate to liberation will not open. He is stopped and also made to go back. He has to throw away the weapon and only then the doors will open. When it does open, the gates of a damned fate open, and also the gates of the until then dammed tears. It lightens the chest and lets the wings open. Don flies.

Restoration of the self, by getting rid of the rough edges created by the unequal world becomes more important than retaliation.

kyun rehati hai tu
dhoop kay mausam ko kosti
behtar hai karley zindagi
baadal sey dosti

jeena hai toh aur jahaan bhi dhoond ley
saahil na sahi tinka hee dhoond ley

Beyond the structures of the world there lies a human self, and human will. Though this self gets shaped by the world outside and the interaction of the self with the world, it, in spite of all despairs, still has the ability to fly. For that to happen, it is important to fight the forces and go against the wind, like it is for the airplane, as explained by Vijar Borade. But the writer-director goes one step further and through the narrative says, it also requires to give up, or rather throw away things kept/ built within us, (the weapon kept in the secret pocket and the rage built up in the body-mind) even if it is kept/ built (consciously or unconsciously) for our own defense in an unjust and unfair world. The weapon and the rage both cut two ways and it is this which makes the vulnerable seem violent and also clips their wings. This extra baggage within makes the flight impossible- suggests the writer-director in this extremely Manjulesque scene. To overcome this also becomes important, says the film, along with collectively going against the force.

It is here that the writer-director’s vision, not just as a creative artist but also as a thinker belonging to a long intellectual history following the likes of Phule and Ambedkar, becomes evident. This vision which existed in all the previous works of Nagaraj Manjule becomes visible, observable, and extremely clear in this defining sequence from Jhund. It is for this vision of the writer-director and the person Nagaraj Manjule, that Jhund is a film that we all need to welcome with all our hearts and celebrate, despite some of its limitations.

Nagaraj Sir, please accept my salutation and a warm hug! Love you till the end of eternity and the end of the horizon!

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