Chuck it out, India!

1. I am not trying to be patriotic here.
2. I am not trying to preach here.
3. All I’m trying to do here is to be honest.

I saw “Chak De India” yesterday. Too late to write about a movie which was released almost a month ago, you may say. But who said I’m going to write only about the movie? This post is about some of my musings after watching the movie.

The movie kept intruding into my thoughts for quite some time after I finished watching it, not allowing me to think clearly about anything else. This has happened so many times before, whenever I watched a movie which was educating or expressing. Entertaining movies, even when its storyline remains in memory, won’t haunt me like the other two. Haunt…it is literally the word which best expresses my feeling after watching the movie.

“Chak de” is the typical sports movie which is completely predictable, has several moments of adrelanin rush and where underdogs come out big. But more than that, it mentions (sometimes highlighting, sometimes as passing comments) several shortcomings of the wonder that is India, starting from the suppression of women, to the tepid acceptance of the people from peninsular India and the North East, to the media playing the devil and ruining one man’s life.

Two initial scenes struck a chord for me:
1. The scene where the North-Eastern girls, Mary and Molly ask “Does it ever feel good to live as guests in one’s own country?”
2. The scene where the guy comments that Tamil and Telugu are the same.

Now, feeling alienated in a place where you have spent your entire life, is not new to me. I am an Iyer, a person of Tamil ethnicity, but nevertheless a Keralite.
We are a small community of Tamil-speaking people who have been in Kerala for generations. (Like… from my great-great-great-great-great grandfather.)
We have been in Kerala our entire life, we have learnt Malayalam, we follow the culture of Kerala. We are in most rights Malayalees, with some added culture and customs of Tamil.
Yet we are neither accepted as Keralites in Kerala, nor as Tamilians in Tamil Nadu.
My Malayalee “friend” (or is he, really?) calls us “Paandi” (A not-so-nice term for a Tamilian), and say we don’t belong there. I can speak and write better Malayalam than him. I’ve often found it amusing when a shopkeeper tries to communicate with us in half-Tamil, even if we talk to him in fluent Malayalam, as if we didn’t know that language well.
Tamilians often make fun of the corrupted Tamil which we speak at home.
Some dudes/dudettes from our community call themselves KBCT (“Kerala Born Confused Tamilian” after “American Born Confused Desi”) just to show off that they are cool. (Or is it “kewl”?)

About the ignorance of North Indians about anything south, I guess the ignorance is mutual. We too don’t know much about North, except perhaps from the history books. But knowledge is not the factor here. You can get the knowledge any time. Many North Indians look at us with a kind of fascination as if we are some exotic people. I think this mostly is a resultant of the difficulty of South Indians to talk Hindi properly, which prevents a Northie and a Southie from mingling as much as two Northies do.

The casual questions that my colleagues ask me mostly pertain to:
1. How Kerala has a lot of Christian population
2. How come I don’t eat meat. They thought all Keralites were non-vegetarians.
3. A fascinated musing on the high literacy rate of Kerala.
4. Making fun of the heavily accented English of most Mallus.
5. Whether I know how to climb coconut trees (Duh!)

I myself have asked questions to Northies which might have sounded really stupid to them. I’m not blaming anyone here. I’m just wondering, and marveling at the sheer complexity of the Indian society. Like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump says. They really go together well, but not quite.

I learned the what and why of “Unity in diversity” in India in my history lessons. But I still don’t know the answer to the How! That’s why India is a miracle to me. All Indians are bonded in the eyes of an outsider, albeit being a very loose one, but inside, it’s just a mob.

Few comments I heard from some friends and the media about the movie, almost made me laugh. The media and the vast majority of youngsters are just as predictable as the movie. For some, it was a movie that every patriotic Indian should watch. But for others, it was a movie made with the exact ingredients of a money-making movie. There was little or no third opinion.
These are the same people who have debates about India over a cup of coffee.
They can be broadly classified into two. One group, where people feel immensely proud to be an Indian, and show that only by sending SMS/Forwards which ask you to forward this to 10 people if you are a “true” Indian, blogging and proclaiming that you should watch this movie if you are a “true” Indian. I was one among them, posting once about a youtube video right here in this blog. I have moved on realizing that knowing your India is not enough, you should move your India forward.

The other group, think that India is going to the gutters, and there is no way they can stop it. So they should also live their life in the little time India has left to stay out of the gutters. Who the hell cares about India? They care only about themselves. I don’t even want to talk about this group. The reason is not their selfishness, but rather their pessimism about India.

Still, I wonder whether a patriot is someone who watches/reads about and relishes some patriotic deed done by characters in a movie.
I read a review which said that Chak de is a must watch for every patriotic Indian. What the hell does that exactly mean? How does a binary deed, that either you watched a movie or didn’t, dictate your Indianness?
While I completely agree that Chak de, or Rang De Basanti for that matter, will invigorate the love for your country in you, be honest in telling me how long does that vigor stand? One month? Or maybe two… Then after a hiatus, someone else again makes another movie, and again another round of discussions, blogs etc. go on babbling about how proud they are to be Indian.
I’m not blaming their pride. I’m blaming the ephemeral nature of their pride, which stays only in their words, and not their deeds.

People will now counter saying that this is as patriotic as a civilian can get. We can never be as good a fighter as those great people who took beatings and those who died for our country. But I’m not talking about fighting against corruption, black money and blah blah here. Those are strenuous territories to tackle. Rather, do something at the grassroots. There are much easier things that you…me…we can do, and be patriotic. A patriot (and this is not a wordweb definition) is someone who does something good for the country, or his society. And sending SMS/Forwards is not doing any good.

We can keep our surroundings, if not our city, clean. Even if it is not clean, don’t mess it up further, uttering that old engineer guy’s seemingly bright phrase, “infinity plus one is still infinity”. You can be the lone good guy in traffic without breaking traffic rules, even if it means you are taking more time to travel. A single person army cannot improve things by following rules. But do you know what it does? It will give you a sense of satisfaction that even if you’re not doing something great, you’re not worsening the situation. Does it do any good? Yes it does. Humans have this amazing nature of imitating others. After all, we were evolved from monkeys. What you do, your friends (whatever meager fraction it is) may start doing tomorrow, their friends on the day after that.

People who do these and more, are the everyday patriots. We have a fire inside us. We just have to sustain it with splinters. I can also say that you will get occasional fuel from movies.
All I wanted to convey here is that remember, talk your talk, and work your work in your India every day, instead of remembering only when “patriotic” films are released.
Now for the title. Apart from being a pun, I meant that we should chuck out our bullshitting, our bland talks and do something worthwhile, for our country. However minuscule it is, doesn’t matter. And if you got it inside you, go for better deeds.


PS: Oh, and the movie… It’s good. Go watch it.

16 thoughts on “Chuck it out, India!

  1. “I have moved on realizing that knowing your India is not enough, you should move your India forward.” – great realization. If you really believe in it… u have already contributed to talking India (not only India, I feel the world) forward 🙂

    Remember Rang de basanti, Swadesh..??

    So chillax.. get back to harry potter 🙂 pure love and courage 🙂

  2. many people dont think or realise these things. and when they do they dont want to go forward and do things.

    u realsied and so dont stop. im sure many around you will start imitating and take our country to heights

  3. Well written post, Deepak.! There has been a surge of this sudden patriotism, on watching movies like RDB, Bhagat Singh… The thing is this generation is still trying to carve an identity with patriotism of the earlier days. To bridge that gap, and create a common consciousness, perhaps a large medium like Cinema, or Music would help. But apart from that i think like you said, we should move forward as a country.. by doing whatever little we can.

    I understand your “Palghat borger dilemma” well. Though not of Tamil ancestry, i as a child still suffered when i went to kerala, as they kept teasing me calling me “Annaachi”, or “pandi”, and even in Tamilnadu, they call us “kanji”.. No acceptance there either i guess..! What to do it happens..!!!

    Have Fun, Take Care and God Bless.!

    with Best Regards,

  4. @Tanu: And that moving forward is not by sending forwards!! :p
    Thanks for the kind words.

    @raintree: This is exactly what I was talking about. Many people don’t want to go forward and do things. But anyone can do these simple things I mentioned. You don’t lose a thing if you do it.

    @Srijith: But are we? I’m urging everyone to ponder over whether they are just thinking and talking or really doing something.

    @All others: I would really like to hear all those tiny things you do which you think is good.

  5. Fantastic post man…That was really a good read.. I guess North – South divide arises more from an inherent xenophobia and influence of like minded ppl..Right from our college I’ve seen ppl from one group not even talking ( forget mingling ) with ppl from the other side of the nation..That worked both the North-South and South-North way.. I should say, the primary purpose of education should be to enable an individual to think rationally leaving behind all such preconcieved notions..Otherwise its worthless no-matter whatever u achieve.

  6. we friends follow these few things right from our college

    1. never litter any place.
    2. switch off lights n fans when not in use.
    3. say “thank you” to everyone who serve u. even auto drivers and office boys. try it and you can see the joy in their face.let them know they too have a place in this world.
    4. camps educating the poor about hygiene, diseases and thier rights and previleges.
    5. I voted , once i turned 18. must do thing. everyone should practice their rights and duties.
    6.never pay more than MRP or extra for auto if its not late hours.
    7. was (:() a volunteer for aids centre, old age home and house for mentaly challenged. i think all of us should spend some time/money for these people and make their life a little better.

  7. @Ajith: Maybe it is xenophobia. That will explain the unity of all Indians abroad, because it is a larger xenophobia. Talking in college was mostly a matter of breaking the ice, from what I know.

    BTW, Don’t utter the phrase “think rationally” in Bangalore. KP got beaten up twice, and he claims he said “you lack rational thinking” just before he was beaten up.

  8. That’s great…
    I too do many of these:
    I lecture about not littering places; of course, I never litter either.
    Another thing I do, which is quite debatable, is not giving money to beggars. I think I’m discouraging them from begging by doing that.

    Like I said, the issue of beggars is debatable. I have an experience (talking to an old lady who came begging to our doorsteps) which has made me unsure of how to go about this issue. Maybe I should write a post about this.

  9. @ Deepak- Brilliant post! Loved it…so completely relate to all aspects of it…my personal experiences have been the same…As a north Indian, I am looked at with surprise when I ate rice for meals instead of rotis, cos most north Indians are == Punjabis…:P
    Also, was recently reading a history of my native place, and its so interesting to know, how ppl developed different idealogies and how several customes/approaches actually evolved, which we accept blindly now, without thinking of why it is so… (Initially a lot of trade happ between Karnataka and Kashmir and intermarriages etc with ppl settling there n all) and now its another of those north south thingies…And its just one chapter in history which changed all that, and everyone just accepted it, without any questions…
    Also, about Patriotism, I think a lot of ppl do not understand the concept…I cant claim that I am a guru on it myself…but I see ppl judging one another for petty things, rather than getting into the backgrnd…most ppl often fail to see the bigger picture…guess it needs the right temperament nad a lot of maturity

  10. omgh..omgh..omgh!…luved it! (=
    u’ve inspired me 2 better my writin…u so have!

    warm regards
    ur ardent admirer! 😀

  11. Interesting thinking – I am always faced with the ‘you dont love india you want to stay in Uk forever’ international borders limit feelings of a nationalistic variety..
    you raise some interesting questions..though what gets me is the north south South india, most people assume if i am from North I am a Punjabi..which is weird..and when i say kashmiri…they gaze in yup its on both sides of the divide..and its called general ignorance..something which in a country the size of india..should not be met by surprise..half the italians would not know where to put paris which is not too far on the european map. Good post though..have not seen the film..i cant take any more of SRK and his wide open arms:)

  12. Interesting insight and thought provoking. Gandhi knew that he needed to change himself if he wanted to change things around him. The truth’s being there, it only takes us time to realize.

    I think we need these burst of patriotic movies now and then to inspire the young generation. We are forgetting our roots fast with the onset of globalisation, these movies will sort of help us cling on to what is left.

    It’s a blessing in disguise that we are not developed like the rest of the world in the “western economic terms. Industrial revolution is just over 100 years old and we are energy dependent at the end of it like never before. The west cannot imagine a life without energy whereas i think we can cope up with it. Only time will tell.

  13. @Ups: I came to know of some interesting and curious things about Kashmir from Wikipedia, as I have the habit of trying to learn more about places I intend to visit. (I had planned for a motorbike trip with friends in August, but I had to cancel it)

    @Ardent Admirer: I’m flattered. 🙂

    @Morpheus: So you are a Kashmiri kudi? (Sorry! Again that Punjabi thing coming in :p)
    BTW, SRK doesn’t have his arms wide open in this. Will call it his second best performance after Swades.

  14. This was an really interesting post even though I have not seen and the film and unfortunately will not get the chance to. I understood the points you are making and even though I am not Indian/Tamil etc. I can relate to them.

    These days many people are having their ‘ancestral’ DNA tested and discovering that they are not who they thought they were – ancestry wise that is.

    In Brazil, where colour really matters people who thought they were ‘white’ are discovering that their ‘haplogroup’ is not so and vice versa. So, where does that leave us then?

    Does it not teach us all a lesson to treat our fellow man/woman with the same respect regardless of what we perceive to be their race/colour/religion?

    Ahh, what a place the world would be then eh? But.. I am a dreamer… ;]

  15. You probably won’t be able to decipher much, because I assume that the reader is from India in my post.

    But you definitely made a point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *