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Some Gandhi

An industry that's a world beater in producing movies can't score high on the quality front. But it can't be an all-crap producer either. The occasional jewel does come your way...and Lage Raho Munnabhai happens to be just one such jewel.

The plot in enthralling without resorting to ridiculous make-believe maladies and their solutions though I'm hardly convinced on the efficacy of Gandhism in the situations his ideals have been pitted against. The gaping flaws are all around you. How can a thug who makes a living by breaking bones and kidnapping hapless people suddenly gain enlightenment by reading books on Gandhi for three consecutive days? If the overwhelming benevolence of real-life's myriad manifestations have failed to influence him in all these years, could reading a few books help cleanse him? I think not. Is knee-jerk Gandhism sustainable? I think not.

People hallucinate, but not in the way as portrayed in the movie. Gandhi's views on non-violence have their limitations and are just not applicable in many situations. A son confession to losing money in shares would surely incur the wrath of his dad who may have just lost his life's savings. A radio DJ can't lay siege to a show just because she has a personal score to settle.

Sending flowers to someone who has forcefully thrown you out of your house is equally incredible. Your adversary could start a tertiary business selling all the flowers being sent to him! In fact, he could be tempted to throw even more people out of their homes. Had I been the erring adversary of Munnabhi and had he resorted to his brand of candy-coated non-violence to win the house back, all I had to do to defeat his schemes would be to turn a deaf ear to his antics. Surely nonchalance couldn't hurt me. Instead, it would only frustrate Munnabhai's efforts. And who would finally win? Take a guess!

The turning point in all this sweet antagonism was the wedding ceremony. The bride returns to confess on her dad's guilt of lying about her status as a manglik, a crappy figment our omnipotent fraternity of astrologers has invented to stay in business. Munnabhai and his sidekick do a splendid job in ridiculing the astrologer and his clairvoyance...or the lack of it. The only thing the high voltage drama proves is that astrology is a big lie. Where does Gandhism come into the fray? The groom holds the key to bringing justice to the much-wronged bride...which he does with great aplomb. Munnabhai's adversary (the sardar, whatever his name) finally has a change of heart...not because of Gandhi but because the bride isn't penalized for being truthful.

But we have too many weak links here. What if the bride hadn't been manglik in the first place? Or what if the bride hadn't decided to rebel against her parents? What if the groom had been as superstitious as his father? What if the astrologer hadn't been there at the ceremony? I don't think Gandhi's ways are as universally applicable as is often made out to be. Gandhism is more about winning the subtle battles within than winning everyday battles against your neighbor.

Ours is a nation of idol-worship, not ideal-worship. Our fixation is with Gandhi-the icon & not Gandhi-the idealist. In being enamored by his spartan lifestyle, we fail to the see the principles he lived and died for. Our myopia limits us to him and we fail to see beyond him...the realm he always steadily marched towards.

Lage Raho Munnabhai can be excused for all the flaws in its script given that it's exceedingly tough to send a social message to a people long divorced from the basics of love and compassions. In its own little ways, LRM manages to momentarily sway its audience into believing that there are better ways of doing things if we overcome the great barrier of evil that's resident in us all. How long the conviction remains remains to be seen.

I only hope the lingering can be prolonged till eternity.


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