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Re: [karmayog-hyd] Fwd: A History - M.J. Akbar

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    It is Akbar at his best as always. ________________________________ From: Thiagarajan Arunachalam To:
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 31, 2013
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      It is Akbar at his best as always.

      From: Thiagarajan Arunachalam <thiagarajan.arunachalam@...>
      To: "karmayog-hyd@yahoogroups.com" <karmayog-hyd@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, 25 July 2013 5:45 PM
      Subject: [karmayog-hyd] Fwd: A History - M.J. Akbar


      Courtesy: Shri. KV Chari

      Subject: A History - M.J. Akbar

      A History

      By M.J. Akbar

      Life’s most traumatic cemetery is surely the memory of pain, for it is
      buried but not dead. Neither amnesia nor vengeance is a solution, although
      the timid find solace in the first and the violent seek options in the
      second. Individuals, communities, nations have to find the spirit that can
      liberate them from the bonds of past anguish, to discover a future in a new
      perspective that is something far more than a distorted reflection of fear.

      It is not often that a Bollywood film can lay claim to that cleansing
      experience called catharsis, but *Bhaag Milkha Bhaag* is a film made by
      Indians inspired by a vision of the future from the countless narratives of
      that terrible past called partition. They recognise the great dangers in
      single-tunnel truth, for it can so easily turn a script into a game of
      vindictive flames. But Milkha is not just another Friday release; its bleak
      landscape blossoms with many shades of subtlety woven into events and

      The box office is always tempted by simplicity. Good and evil must be
      caricatures. The formula is uncomplicated. Laugh in the beginning, cry in
      the middle, find relief at the end, go home happy. But this is a film about
      reality, not exaggerations. Nothing is overdrawn, nothing is underwritten.

      Milkha’s childhood is destroyed by the slaughter of most of his family in
      the Punjab that went to Pakistan. Out of this holocaust emerge real people,
      not saints and sinners. Milkha runs, reaches a refugee camp in Delhi and
      finds his way through loneliness, despair and a lost first love, before
      discovering that unfathomable elixir of indomitable spirit that turns a
      child who might have become hardened criminal into an international
      athletic superstar. His best childhood friend, a Hindu boy who trudged to a
      Maulvi’s school with him, finds survival through another process, and who
      can say that this was less agony? The Hindu lives through 1947 by
      converting. The point is made simply, without fuss, without accusation or
      praise, as a choice human beings make when torn between life and death. One
      of the great tragedies is that nearly seven decades later, the few Hindus
      left in Pakistan are still sometimes forced into such an awful debate with
      their conscience.

      There is no difference between Indians and Pakistanis; we are the same
      people, with the same weaknesses and strengths. If the two partitioned
      neighbours have evolved differently, it is because they are influenced by
      their root ideology. The ideologues who inflict violence within Pakistan
      have not understood a very simple truth: if your mission is to search for
      someone to hate, you will continue to find them. Yesterday they were Sikhs
      and Hindus, today they might be Shias or Barelvis or whoever interferes
      with some fantasy of an artificial purity.

      Filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s sensitivity and genius is at its
      nuanced best when, almost surreptitiously, he depicts violence in all its
      myriad evil, including the many forms which we compartmentalize into
      “lesser” categories. The tight, ringing slap of a husband across the face
      of a wife who did not respond to a demand for instant sex in a refugee camp
      is also madness mixed with hatred. Milkha’s girlfriend is dragged,
      screaming, into an arranged marriage while he is away, trying to prove that
      he can succeed in something more than petty crime. When he discovers his
      loss, his old friend from the mohalla puts it plainly: you know how we
      Indians treat women. Sonam Kapur, in the role of girlfriend, appears
      briefly, perhaps spanning fifteen minutes of a film that exceeds 180. Any
      commercial movie which stars a missing heroine is blessed with calm
      self-assurance. I will not mention the denouement, except to indicate that
      it will surprise those who enter the theatre with pre-conceived notions.

      Those who believe are all, in a sense, convicts of their conviction. The
      ideology of a humane spirit, soaring towards the unbelievable, is also
      infectious, and it lifts every aspect of this film. Farhan Akhtar has put
      in a performance that is beyond mere awards. The lyrics of Prasoon Joshi,
      the music of Ehsan-Loy are transformative. Both might work better in the
      film than outside, in cafes or radio, but that is an asset, not a liability.

      Mahatma Gandhi is mentioned once, as a reason for a holiday. Perhaps this
      is deliberate, because Gandhi has now become synonymous with preachy, and
      no one has time for sermons. But Gandhi left us with a lesson that saved
      India in 1947 and the years beyond; and is now resonating through the
      world. Violence destroys both perpetrator and victim.
      Violence sucks compassion out of our heart, and turns it into a barren
      desert enveloped by the mirage of rage. Even violence in the cause of
      justice, which is necessary for order and civilization, can devastate
      beyond its purpose, as the final metaphor of Mahabharata tells us with
      unambiguous pain.

      Gandhi wrote the history of the future, not a history of the past.




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