Friday, June 18, 2010

Lessons in Rajneeti

It could have been a scene from a Bollywood film noir but Prakash Jha is not amused. He is quite incensed that a bunch of lawmakers — BJP MLAs hurriedly corralled in a five-star hotel outside Jaipur — did not think twice before breaking the law. Given the tenor of most of his films, that detail should hardly have caused him shock.
But, clearly, the nature of the MLAs' most recent criminal act took him utterly by surprise. Had the MLAs done the usual stuff that powerful political players do to get their own way in Jha's films — murder, rape, pillage, assassinate, subvert, bribe, torture, transfer, etc — the gritty director would surely have been unfazed.
That's what Jha's portrayed them to be, time after award-winning time, after all. But the lawless political class's latest infraction is something else: they watched his latest and typically cynical take on prevailing heartland politics, Rajneeti, on a pirated DVD.
Rather than carp about the loss of revenue from this particular criminal act, Jha should actually be thrilled that his target (if not his audience) has an abiding interest in his oeuvre; they could have watched an Election Commission documentary on Rajya Sabha polls instead, considering the MLAs were reportedly incarcerated for that very purpose.
The greenhorns among them, at least, would have emerged informed and enthused by the great democratic exercise they were to take part in. Now they have undoubtedly come away with a rather colourful presentation of how conflict resolution in a state can be achieved in the shortest if not the neatest or most democratic manner.
That should give the BJP high command some food for thought, as Jha's films rarely end with the bad guys getting their comeuppance. And that could give the sequestered MLAs something to mull over as they mark time in their hotel rooms!

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