saw "Lage Raho Munna Bhai" once again 2 days back. and remembered my reaction of the day i'd first seen it. here's what i wrote more than 2 years ago but it didn't see the light of day (didn't get published). so "Gandhigiri" never worked for me. anyway. happy reading!
“Lage Raho Munna Bhai……” bagging national awards had brought back memories of the film and how it seemed to affect people when they saw it. Our “Father of the Nation” had suddenly become the most talked about phenomenon, leaving “Globalization”, “Knowledge-Economies” and “Terrorism” in the background. For those unaware of who we’re talking about, it’s the Mahatma- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
Gandhi had assumed proportions larger than ever before and popularity out-shining most famous film-stars. One never heard so much about him all these years and such attention paid to his teachings or ‘non-violent-truths’. In fact he never made so much news, hogging headlines in newspapers and TV-channels. This was more than evident on 2nd October of the year of release of the film. We’ve probably never had so… much respect being paid to him, by so… many people. And credit for all this ‘Gandhi fervour & fever’ goes to “Lage Raho …………. ”.
Well, please…. ‘Carry on Munnabhai’, because you’ve created more awareness on the Mahatma than any book, film or material on him ever. You’ve made him ‘common man’s ideal’ . “Gandhigiri”- Gandhian way of life - has really caught on. People from all walks of life, all strata of society and all age-groups are emulating this. “Gandhigiri” seemed to have become the latest fashion in India today. Whether it works or not, atleast people are ready to try it out. one example being the Delhi cops giving gifts to traffic rule defaulters.
Well, that’s a welcome change in mindset trend. But the big question is – does “Gandhigiri” really work? If it does, whom does it work with? Would somebody actually stop spitting “paan” on his neighbour’s wall if he was made to “feel”? This depends on two things- first, the wrongdoer has a heart and will eventually “feel” and he also has a conscience to make him “guilty”. Subject to these, there’s a chance of his behaviour changing.
My experiences portray it just never worked. It didn’t work with the lady in our building in Jaipur, who kept snatching my “bai”. Neither does it work with servants whom I am good to, help in their need and pay well. It never worked with the society-maintenance body in the pink city, whom we paid a hefty monthly charge. We kept telling them to get our corridors cleaned properly everyday and get our flat’s inherent faulty switchover repaired. They came, they saw and did nothing except religiously sending maintenance bills, which went on increasing further. It doesn’t even work with siblings who you let take your small possessions, thinking these are stupid things, because their “Dadagiri” graduates to taking bigger things, firmly believing that you “won’t really mind”. “Gandhigiri” or politeness doesn’t work with birds or animals either. My experience with pigeons, who continue using my nice balcony as ‘their maternity ward’ just because unlike others who had no qualms about having their eggs thrown into the garbage, I’d patiently wait till their little ones flew off before I’d get the mess cleared up, shows. My repeated shooing away has little impact and they continue to litter my balconies.
Neither does it work with numerous people who cheat, misbehave, pose threats to our security and peace, malign our culture, demean our values, who destroy our heritage having no passion for our traditions. “Gandhigiri” doesn’t and will not work with them. You must have a heart and a conscience to respond to simple principles of great men. If you do, you’ll “feel” others’ pain and “feel guilty” on doing wrong. In that case, you don’t need to be taught this message. And please don’t expect people to be sending roses to everybody because these days, nothing comes cheap. If rose demand goes up with more & more people taking to this fad, rose prices will rise further and we’ll need roses to be sent to the “Rosewallahs” too. The director could afford it, everybody can’t. So let’s find a practical solution.
Why is there so much death, destruction & violence in the land of the Mahatma?
With all those with no spare time to look for their hearts and listen to their conscience, only “Dadagiri” works. In a city like “Dilli”, logon mein “dil” hi nahin bacha! The very fact that Gandhian principles to be relevant today needed the suffix “giri” to make them contemporary, we need to come out with a formula which works with people without a heart and a conscience. They’ll go on cheating, looting, killing, destroying peace and threatening security if you keep tolerating.
Time has been witness to this fact even in Gandhi’s era, for what else was evident in the gruesome ‘violent-end of the non-violent Mahatma’!