The original title of this post was John Adams, Savarkar, Vivekananda and 3 Idiots(the film based on Chetan Bhagat's book) but I was concerned that some irate readers may misinterpret that I was referring to the aforementioned esteemed individuals as the 3 idiots in question. Unlike a certain blogger I try to avoid click bait incendiary titles.
As what these gentleman have in common, well please read on.
I saw 3 Idiots with my parents when it had released in 2009 . Watching it with your parents was interesting experience as I was subject to the same pressure of most other Indian middle class kids ie major in engineering, get an MBA and find a good job abroad. In my case I was bit a goof off in college especially as an undergrad in America(so many distractions..)so I while I was smart enough for engineering I wasn't quite disciplined. And if you are not disciplined you aren't going nowhere in engineering no matter how smart you are. Ultimately I ended up in MIS and Business and touch wood am making more than I would've if I pursued engineering(of course since I am self employed, this comes with certain caveats)
This brings me a tiff I had with the depiction of Aamir Khan as a born genius. As Einstein said, genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Yet we rarely ever see this seemingly smart alek study or exert any academic discipline and yet he is always tops his class.This is what annoyed me about another movie featuring a blue collar genius- Good Will Hunting. Will Hunting(ably though a bit smugly played by Matt Damon) didn't seem to exert any effort at applying his seemingly superhuman genius except showing off to get women.
Both movies are beset by post 60s sentimentality and a therapeutic culture(in GWH ,Will Hunting goes as far as to hug his psychiatric at the end). Which is what is really wrong with our culture as well. We seem to be a unholy mixture of cold calculating pragmatism and sappy syrupy sentimentalism which often masquerades as idealism. As a result we get the worst of both worlds.
And neither are our leaders ,academics or entertainers exempt from this dysfuntion.
Rajkumar Hirani achieved fame with a remake of yet another Robin Williams(who himself was notorious for routine dissemination of formulaic schmaltz) film Patch Adams which we know as Munnabhai MBBS. We are sagely informed by this lovable street thug that we shouldn't be so unfeeling as to treat a patient as a moving part on an assembly and a good number of the worlds problems can be solved by a jaadu ki jhappi( a bear hug)
As an aside, how many lovable thugs do you know? What is with this Rousseauan love of lowlifes and criminals amongst filmmakers?
Of course the much demonized Dean (deliriously played by Boman Irani) is correct. It is impossible to function ably as a physician if you get too attached to your charges. A certain level of detachment is crucial in order to perform your duties. And isn't it understood that if it weren't for compassion, most of those who practice medicine wouldn't spend years of rigorous training in medical school and internship?
Hirani's former boss Vidhu Vinod Chopra and producer of MBBS suffers from the same disease of post 60s sentimentality. One of his first films(as a writer) was Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron - a hilarious satire of the corruption and incestuous politics of real estate kingpins ,media and municipality in Mumbai which includes a not too subtle reference to Shobha De(shobhaji). Often the hapless duo Sudhir and Vinod (in a self homage to the writers Sudheer Mishra and Vidhu Vinod Chopra) break out into "hum honge kaamyab" a desi version of the Vietnam era hippie song "We shall overcome some day"(which in turn was misappropriated from the civil rights movement and gospel music)
VVC ditches whatever subtlety he was holding and ended a gritty gangster flick Parinda with a bunch of cuddly children in angel attire singing the same some towards the end.
In his next film 1942 : A love story , the protagonist played by Anil Kapoor repeats another clichéd crie de couer of the lovelorn youth of yore when confronted by his beau's admittedly unreasonably father about how he could he think of love during a time of revolution "If everyone loved each other what then is the need for revolution".
Sappy long hair neer do well in Haight Ashbury San Fransisco circa 1968 couldn't have put it better themselves
In Mission Kashmir, he went as far to indulge in their own secular propaganda that the REAL victims in Kashmir were not Kashmiri pandits who were hounded out of their own state but good natured moderate Muslims who were unfairly castigated as terrorist sympathizers.
Philip Lutgendorf , a professor of Indian popular culture and not unsympathetic to Indian seculars , feels fit to mock the sappiness that oozes through the screen
"While plotting to blow up Sufi’s transmission tower, Altaaf takes time out to dance exuberantly in her televised spectacles of National Integration. These might be auto-parody, or just incredibly bad taste: they conjure up a Never-Never-Kashmir, literally Made For (and of) TV, with “lakes” formed of glass blocks that resemble sets, upon which colorfully-costumed “natives” sing souped-up Kashmiri folksongs about bumble bees and communal harmony, with all the enthusiasm of, say, Chinese extras in a Beijing musical about life in Lhasa…. To be fair, the film makes brief, sporadic efforts to complicate its own picture: its secessionist militants are sympathetically shown as good-natured, tea-drinking boys who have simply fallen into Bad (Islamic fundamentalist) Company—though this furthers the depiction of Muslims as errant children who need to be straightened out.
Reborn after a purifyingdubki (immersion) in Dal Lake, his boyish dreams are no longer of unavenged massacres, but of (what else?) an Astroturf cricket pitch. Itself a Great Indian Metaphor—that other, less-sanguine battlefield for Indo-Pak rivalries, and lately for the revision of colonial history
He goes even further to degrade traditional norms and sense of duty in his stately but ultimately hollow Eklavya where the prince ponders about like Hamlet about the insanity of duty ,honor and tradition while his own father in the end is guilty of dereliction of duty when he refuses to kill his son.
Say what you want about the rather corny Kamalahassan film Indian where he plays both , an idealistic Kalari practicing INA veteran turned vigilante as well as his corrupt and glib government servant son. The former's killing of the latter made sense morally and narratively while VVC as always indulged in a sentimental copout in Eklavya
And so I hope the reader realizes how thoroughly marinated in regressive liberalism of a Western bent is the entertainment. Packaging Western hippie values in an Indian context does far greater damage to our youth than any subliminal Rothschild propaganda.
Rajkumar Hirani and Chetan Bhagat have to little to offer our youth except "follow your dreams" and everything will be ok. Following one's dreams led many young people in U.S to major in such esteemed degree such Transgendered roles in 1950s popular, Fijian pottery and Gay and Lesbian Black studies.
As you may have guessed the employers are not exactly swarming towards them with job offers. Whats even worse is these young students are now chained by student debt they have taken to pursue their worthless majors. So much for following your dreams.
Theodore Dalrymple aptly notes that most of the revolutionary unrest since the 20th century was not started by the poor but by college educated middle class youth who felt they were not given the appropriate jobs,monies and prestige to which they felt entitled.
Rancho in 3 Idiots counsels his friends when they do poorly in engineering that they do what interests them ie photography and writing. At this point , my eyes were rolling so far behind my socket that I looked like a horror movie prop.
Who DOESNT consider himself a good writer or photographer. I remember buying a very expensive camera planning to become a photographer part time. And trust me, photography is just much a discipline as an art. There is just so much to learn with the aperture,flash, timing, zoom, framing ,lenses, optics and god knows what else. I eventually sold the camera and moved on.
Similarly writing is not a talent that one can acquire overnight. In the movie the character with the penchant for the pen is shown as a successful blogger?!!
In short the guy who did well in engineering was a born genius who didn't do a lick of studying. The photographer simply picked up a camera and started clicking and before you know it he had his own book on wildlife and the writer now runs a successful blog...once again -??!!
Is this really the type of message we want our children to learn?Even a prosperous country like U.S struggles to provide employment for its humanities graduates, what scope is there for a country like India?
But wait you ask," isn't humanities- the study of art,literature, music and sculpture the jewels and ornaments of a civilization? Sure we all need STEM but we crave the humanities." Why yes. I will go as further as to say that humanities are the soul of a country if the STEM is the body.
We need both.
I believe ideally it is the very rich whose offspring should pursue these pleasant occupations because well they can afford to. Full stop. And we cant be rich if we don't have a generation to sweat it out for its offspring.
Therefore need STEM and entrepreneurs and more of it first. This brings me to Founding Father and U.S President John Adams. I believe this was his response as to why he wasn't a renaissance man
The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts.I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture,navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children
a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary,
tapestry and porcelain.
One wonders if he meant it literally as John Adam's son, John Quincy Adams later became president ( a fact not lost on George Bush 41 who used to refer to George Bush 43 as "Quincy" while prepping him to be President) himself though he didn't quite have the luxury yet of studying mathematics or philosophy. He studied law and through his impeccable diplomacy greatly expanded the size of the United States.
Our forefathers Patel,Rajaji,Bose, Savarkar,Nehru,Gandhi have done their duty studying government and law.
We are have not kept up our end of the bargain for the last two generations and are already willing to throw in the towel and move on to the more pleasant and stress fee distractions.
As early as 1910 Savarkar lamented that even back then too many Indians were attracted to the humanities which he saw a sign of escapism. He went as far as to state that Indians were Shudras ,at best Vaishyas and hence they should take up trades such as the engineering and hard sciences. At the same time he observed that the British and Americans were the equivalent of Kshatriyas and therefore were now suited to study the Vedas.
Vivekananda went even further and stated that a person who plays football is closer to god than someone who studies the Gita all day. He despaired that Indians were so physically weak . He believed also that much of heavily introspective and melancholic Indian music of the era enervated and demoralized the populace. "Are there no drums in this country"? He once asked cheekily.
"For gods sake stop swinging your arms like lassoes" implored a Indian student in Cambridge, a certain Subhash Bose, to his fellow compatriots.
Such type of populace as described by Vivekananda, Savarkar and Bose were not ready for war. War being an extension of politics which students were supposed to study. It was no less than Plato who stated the scholar should also be an athlete. These three individuals also recommended that we put aside our taboo about meat and consume the necessary protein at least for the sake of country.
How far we had fallen from the Vedic ideal where the students were taught dandaniti(governance) and prajatantra(politics) irrespective of whether these elites students owed their allegiance to a monarchy or republican state.
It is hard to believe that a religion that was so fixated on the myriad of ways the human body can approach the divine was lacking in a physical culture.
No less than Charak and Sushruta(who recommended beef) insist on daily exercise and no not just for Kshatriyas!
Alas just as Gandhi discovered his pacific Hinduism from second hand inaccurate sources such as Tolstoy,our youth are indulging in silliness such as self actualization and "finding myself" via 1960s Western liberalism which came about due to events in which we had absolutely no stake.
I wish I was exaggerating when I say the real religion of India today is Bollywood. I remember speaking to some youth last year when I visited India and they didn't know who Chandragupta Maurya or Chanakya were. But they were more than willing to share with the going ons of Big Boss and the latest escapades of Sunny Leone.
Should we encourage this lot to "follow their dreams"?
On a positive note. I will end by saying that I am very pleased the Chinese youth are big fans of 3 Idiots. I look forward to its Chinese remake. Indeed the Indian government should fund the production.
It will do more damage to the future Chinese power than those scores of Axis leaflets had done the Allied morale.
Our surplus humanities graduates will need all the jobs they can get. Even as factory hands....