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Monday, March 28, 2011

Learning from Munnabhai!

Lage Raho Munnabhai is perhaps the only movie that I have watched twice, the second time in the company of all my office staff, in the office and during office hours. The only matinee show within official premises replete with popcorns and coke was a pleasant surprise for all my official colleagues. The show was also unique in the fact that it was attended by the entire staff together without caring a fig for the official hierarchial system that prevents a managing director from breaking bread with his peon.

And all this without any of us feeling guilty of having wasted precious official hours that are strictly meant for file (mis)handling and being tossed around by the system.

A serious and socially relevant message was thus conveyed in a light manner. The screening of the movie within official premises was a part of a continuing attempt that most of my official colleagues would find wasteful and also laughable, an attempt to change the thought process, even if slightly of the men (and women) who constitute officialdom in the corporation headquarters. A few years back while donning my earlier avatar of the Chief of a sick PSU, I had decided to write a piece titled ‘The travails of a PSU chief” for the op-edit page of a national daily, but saner (not exactly wiser) counsel then prevailed and prevented me from doing so. Even objective criticism of the government machinery, while being a part of the system is often considered treason and this thought brought home to me by many of my “sarkari” colleagues, perhaps made me abandon the idea. The screening of the movie was therefore also an attempt, a serious one at that, of trying to reduce the travails especially those inflicted by people who work for me.

The USP of “Lage Raho Munnabhai” is that it conveys a very powerful and socially relevant message in a very light manner. Its social relevance is undisputed but I have strong reservations whether the message would be taken seriously by anyone at all, especially by those who hail from the privileged sarkari sector. That Gandhi was a leader far ahead of his times whose philosophy was relevant then, is relevant now and will be relevant in the times to come, suddenly dawned on me after the show and the popcorns were over. It is always nice to see nice things happening to nice people on a nice screen, but the majority of us always end up sermonizing that real life is different from reel life and it is wiser to be crafty than being nice in the present times. Munnabhai however left everyone thinking. Should we not always be on the right side of truth? Should we not always be ready to pay the price for all our deeds and misdeeds? Should we not always have genuine concern for all human beings irrespective of his color caste, creed or place in the society? Is the service of society not the primary responsibility of sarkari officials?

There is a scene in the movie when a girl walks out of a restaurant and also her suitor only because of the way her suitor addresses the waiter. Gandhi’s litmus test that would separate a good human being from someone not so good, is how a person treats someone from the under privileged section of the society. Having for over thirty years watched the drama over who comes on the telephone line first and how someone needs to be addressed as “My Dear” or ‘Dear Shri” despite at times there being a very inconsequential hierarchial difference between the two blokes, I stand convinced that almost all of us from the hallowed sarkari sector would abysmally fail this test of Gandhi. And therefore this screening was also an attempt to make my men imbibe some thoughts of Gandhi, that may perhaps make them a better human being than at present and in the process enhance his contribution to the society as a member of the privileged human race.

1 comment:

  1. Sir, hearty congratulations…

    The tree you nourished is blooming and giving fruits. Madhya Pradesh has once again been adjudged as the best state in terms of tourist related infrastructure and for running successful tourism programmes during the annual National Tourism Awards.

    Your “Gandhigiri” is paying the expected and desired dividends. In these times of “virtual reality” when real Gandhi and his philosophy has been pushed behind the wall and virtual Gandhis are ruling the roost, presence of people like you gives the feeling of cool morning breeze blowing serenely in the desert.

    Gandhi lived not for himself or his family but for his convictions and values. For the defense of his ideals he even meted out harsh treatment to his wife and his sons particularly the eldest. Despite all humane weaknesses he was indeed a great soul, an unparalleled epitome of simplicity and austerity…difficult to emulate!

    But we should strive for better tomorrow for the posterity, wherever we are, whatever we are …

    I remember the lines for their simplicity and message but not the poet –

    If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill
    Be a scrub in the valley – but be
    The best little scrub on the side of the hill,
    Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.

    If you can’t be a highway just be a trail
    If you can’t be the sun be a star;
    It is not by the size that you win or fail-
    Be the best of whatever you are.