A take on Kamal Haasan’s ‘Epic’ views!

In a TV channel interview last week, Tamil actor Kamal Haasan was sharing his views on the Indian society and how a society, that’s based on a book that glorifies the pawning of a woman in the game of Chaduranga, is expected to treat its women badly. I wasn’t surprised at his views. Frankly, it’s a view held by many, and quite fairly. In fact, I recently was hearing the same argument in a song from the Kannada film Urvi!

Well, India has indeed become intolerant in 21st century. More intolerant than ever in history. The power that people have gained through electronic media and now social media is immense. It has given a voice to every Tom, Dick, Harry (and me??).

I’m a fan of most of Kamal’s works. I even like the fact that weaves his communist ideologues so well into his stories. But, being an ‘intellectual’, there’s little value addition to the society when people like him, directly or indirectly, fan the flames of radical Hinduism (and only that) through their (mis)directed comments on Hindu ideologues.

No, I don’t have an iota of problem in him saying any thing against the Hindu society, Hinduism or even the Mahabharata. But, people like him can be more rational and weigh their words before they come out of their guts!

There’s another channel called ‘Epic’ which used to air this show called “Dharmakshetra”, a courtroom drama where the events of Mahabharata are dissected and debated on by Mahabharata’s own characters. It’s a beautiful show which can be cited as one of the many examples of how the Hindu society (yeah, there are such types and they are the majority) is tolerant and is not all “Modi, modi” or “Holy Cow!”.
There are those who may disagree with you and debate, but they won’t beat you up for saying something against their Gods or Holy Texts. But, thanks to Modi and his haters ( mostly the latter), the fringes who have now entered mainstream. The latter has helped polarize the society by making statements that are veiled in the guise of rationality, yet are actually bigotry.

Frankly, I don’t think even 10% of our society knows the Mahabharata or even Indian history that well. Our value systems have changed to a large extent. We, the generations in their 20s, 30s and 40s are people who watched Ranjit and Shakti Kapoor raping women on the silver screen. But again, can we hold them responsible? Or the directors and producers and script-writers of such tasteless movies that glorified manhood and ‘izzat’? The movies surely had a role to play somewhere in influencing the minds of the people. But, why is it that we always want to fix the blame elsewhere when the fault is in our stars!! Oops!

Mahabharata is a beautiful treatise on politics and life. The Indian society (yeah the Hindu majority society), reveres the book not because Draupadi was used as a pawn or because she was stripped off her sari in the King’s courtroom. Mahabharata is a commentary on rights and wrongs, how right and wrong can change based on where you stand. Nowhere does it even closely ask its readers to rape, molest or demean a woman! Yes, it has described many incidents that can be construed as a crime in the modern society. Some of those would be treated as a crime even in 2nd millennium century BCE. But, it also talks about what’s right and wrong in a war, talks about friendship. Frankly, Mahabharata also gives a voice to Draupadi who sarcastically laughs at all the men and their manhood, men who were present in the court during her disrobing. She shouts out loud and accuses them of being imbeciles. So, shouldn’t the Indian society also take a leaf from that incident and stand up for women’s rights?

Mahabharata is like truth. Truth, if you know, has multiple layers to it. India is a progressive nation, that’s truth. All’s not well with Indian society, that’s truth too. Mahabharata too has multiple layers and it’s for the one who reads it to realize the truth hidden in each of its layers. It gives you the choice to grasp what you can and what you want.

Even Ranjit’s and Shakti Kapoor’s movies used to give that choice to you. By bringing in a brother or a heartbroken lover who would stand up to them and fight them, even punish them for their crime. So, would it be wrong to say that our society made the choice of following Ranjit and Shakti Kapoor’s onscreen roles (sad that I keep taking their name) instead of making an Amitabh Bachchan or even Mithun Chakraborty their role models?

The movies too offered us a choice. It’s like Morpheus offering you a blue pill and a red pill. It’s your choice as an individual what to make of it. Like, Mr. Kamal Haasan made a choice to single out a small but significant event from an epic that has 18 mega-volumes. That was his choice! And, it’s a perfectly right choice from where he stands. But, like Mahabharata didn’t preach, if such people don’t resort to preaching their version of the truth, our not-so-educated masses will be saved from feeling disoriented yet again. Otherwise, they will start worrying which God to pray to instead of turning atheists. Oh, if they get really inspired, they can turn even Kamal into a God and start to worship him!



4 comments on “A take on Kamal Haasan’s ‘Epic’ views!”
  1. Vikki says:

    All points taken, his words are what this society needs against all the ‘cow is the only animal to exhale oxygen’ or ‘april fool was invented to make fun of Indians’ bullshit that’s being peddled. Even if people get agitated, he’s done his bit to make them think. Instead of bigwigs licking politicians’ asses, here’s one celebrity who doesn’t have a problem standing up against the ‘man’. It’s equally necessary in a society that’s being fed lies after lies every minute. If people take offence to it, it’s people’s problem that they can’t properly think about it. In actuality, it’s probably only just part of what he said that was published. In my view, it’s dumb to write a long blog on what someone assumed someone said or meant with what he said.

    If you can look at it putting your bias aside, he’s just appealing to the better side of the country’s human beings. It wouldn’t be the sum, but only a part of what he would have said.

    Either way, I wouldn’t get into a debate on who’s the better of Batman and Superman, because it’s too irrational. But if someone makes either one of these the basis of their debate, then rational people like Kamal would be forced to take a side just to make people understand. He can’t help the immature among the most immature.


  2. ConfusedHead says:

    Funny! If I’m biased, you and Kamal too are. I’m plainly expressing my displeasure at different people, including him, taking a small part of a big story and highlighting the lack of morality. Like you are pointing out that what he said could be just a part of what he would have actually said, I’m pointing out that what he picked on was also a part of an entire 18 volume story, and not the sum of what Mahabharata put across.

    In my humble view, there’s no bias here, except that I am only claiming the book to be almost a masterpiece. Not a bad thing to say. You like a story and defend the story when someone else points out a flaw in the story-line. It’s like watching Sholay, some like, some don’t. And I do defend the movie, because I like it. I think, as free-thinking humans, we all have the right to do that and the same or any leanings need not be labelled bias. It’s a war of ideologies. It’s historical and it’s core to human nature.

    Linking a piece of a story or history, whatever one deems it to be, to the current demoralization of the society isn’t very rational. But, one doesn’t need to be right always! I’m not even closely trying to be politically right , just like Kamal isn’t.

    Which is why, it’s not really dumb to write this long blog assuming Kamal meant what he said.


  3. I think the modern society bases their opinion on someone elses opinion of a book or article or even their thought process. Like you said, if read carefully, the epic is not about what to do or what not to do. Its layers of perspectives on various subjects of life.
    This society has started to look at intolerance as a virtue. It doesn’t care about a solution, rather how can an issue be escalated at levels beyond their own and garner a few minutes of fame. Its all about likes and stars.
    I sometimes wish technology hadn’t advanced to this extent, providing half knowledge into the hands of half witted people.
    Great article though.

    Liked by 1 person

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