The eternal question that has perhaps plagued the soul of man is whether earning one’s livelihood by means that betrays all that is sacred, or worth possessing, whether that be one’s conscience, peace of mind, or lofty virtues, is a livelihood worth earning at all. After all, what is the worth of the tools to live, when the life being lived, does not merit a lofty purpose? What is the use of having the means to live, when the life lived is bereft of all that humankind holds sacred? What indeed is the purpose of a mirror when you can’t look into it without a cringe?
A man’s soul is revealed by the causes he espouses. By what he extends his voice to, and what he stays silent on. By what he protests, what he condemns and what he relegates to the dark corners of his subconscious, never to be spoken off, never to be thought of, because the burden would be too much, the repercussions, too severe.
Save for ideological pigmies. The animalistic crop that hasn’t reached too far in the process of evolution. The ones that still cater only to their basal needs. It is the way of the world that those who have the luxury of livelihood abound, run only after livelihood the most. And perhaps this basal, animalistic, primal mentality, is what Saroj Khan alluded to today. The lofty ideals be damned, virtues be damned, it indeed all boils down to Roti.
Saroj Khan, one of the giants among the ideological pigmies today made a telling statement. She said, “at least Bollywood gives Roti. Doesn’t rape and abandon”. And she is right. No matter what, if one leaves their soul at the entrance, Bollywood does give roti, even if it murders the soul, robs conscience and violates the body.
Right From Shahrukh’s “Tu haan kar ya na kar, tu hain meri Kiran” to “Raziya gundon main phas gayi”, often Bollywood paints a pretty picture of all that is wrong with the society, because ‘roti’ is what drives the stars, not pesky little lofty principles that a society should uphold. Why else would the harbinger of virtue, Swara Bhaskar, defend the glorification of stalking in Ranjhanaa if it wasn’t ‘Roti’ that drove her? While she pretends to uphold the rights of women, in a movie that features her, even stalking can be branded the ‘naive charm of a man in love’ because livelihood is what drives not just her, but most.
Everything that the Bollywood does betrays the sense of morality. Perhaps that’s why they don’t pile up on sexual offenders of their own ilk, Roti it boils down to.
Bollywood loves bad boys. Bad boys like Khilji. What is wrong with it, after all? The idea of benevolent dictators is enticing. As Saroj Khan said, the crime itself becomes a far lesser evil if it can be compensated with ‘Roti’ later. The thought of a benevolent dictator is an appealing concept for most ‘Roti’ chasers. Because the tyranny of dictatorship can be long overshadowed by his benevolence.
And then, when the tides turn and the script changes, they protest against the very ideas that they personally wouldn’t mind glorifying on the silver screen, and it turns into a matter of grave concern. They look angry and hold placards. Demand justice. Until the next release. Until the next Khilji.
Because It all boils down to ‘Roti’.. that basal, animalistic urge, to hunt.. but eat.
That pretty much sums up the way to of the ideological pigmies. But one can’t only blame Bollywood for this dwarfness. It is often said that Bollywood is a manifestation of the society. That reel often imitates real. And if that is true, one must also look at how some sections of the society, often driven by motivated politicians respond.
The discourse in our political arena too has been fashioned around the basic urge of amassing livelihood, instead of earning an honourable livelihood.
Why else would politicians reinforce the idea that getting 15 lacs deposited in the people’s bank account is far more important than say the protection of sovereignty or even a nation’s cultural identity?
That a Lalu Prasad can be a convict who robbed the country of millions, pushed a state back decades, and unleashed a reign of terror, but boy did he know how to keep his supporters happy. And thus, Lalu will always be tomtomed as the upholder of the rights of the downtrodden.
Or how Arvind Kejriwal can spend crores on refreshment, on his personal treatment, openly support anarchy, and focus on everything that doesn’t matter to the last man on the ground, but the 500 crores spent on Media makes him a messiah for the mango man. Because roti.. it all boils to.
What else would motivate a political party that wishes to be entrusted with the responsibility of the lives of billions of people, to demolish democracy by asking a dubious foreign firm to manipulate its people into voting it back to power? What would motivate a party like that to frame people, brand innocents, terrorists, shield actual terrorists, light a fire and watch the country burn? It is the urge to secure livelihood.. the urge to amass means with which they can luxuriously live their empty, hollow lives, sans virtues, sans ideals, sans sanctity.
One wonders if it weren’t for the jungle instincts of survival, convenience, and livelihood, why would these self-proclaimed liberals be allowed to propagate lies after lies with impunity, without consequences, all the while holding the torch of virtue?
And this misplaced discourse then manifests itself on platforms made for public discourse.
Where the very liberals who perpetuate this mentality believe that if someone is supporting an opposing ideology, they must be paid, because why would anyone say or do anything for anything other than ‘Roti’. And if they don’t like what is being said, if it inconvenient to them, to what forms of the basis for their ‘roti’, the only response is to ensure the other person’s livelihood is taken away.
It is indeed the way of the jungle.. the fittest survive.. because they can hunt.. hunt and eat. Everything, from ideological support to means to oppose must boil down to means of livelihood.
Mankind evolved, but the trace elements of the jungle remained. Never bite the hand that feeds. Uphold the interests of the ones who feed.
For most, it is not the luxury of not cringing while looking into the mirror that counts, it is the means to own a mirror that matters. The treachery of our times lies in selling our souls for pocket change. The treachery of our times lies in letting men who would sell the people to secure their seats at the high table, rule the discourse.
The treachery of our times lies in chasing livelihood, and not an honourable livelihood. Where even the ones who win the rat race, unpurposefully, mindlessly, soullessly, remain rats, after all.
It is indeed unfair to chide Saroj Khan for what she said. What she said is a reflection of the principles Bollywood functions on, and the liberal society it chooses to mirror.
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017