Saturday, April 15, 2006

Of Bangalore...And Thus, Of All India

To disgruntled Americans, India is a country comprising basically one major city. The world of Information Technology and jobless Americans sees just Bangalore and nothing else - a city of call centers and IT firms which specialize in robinhooding international business and giving it out to Indian masses willing to work for peanuts and a glass of milk. Bangalore is hailed as the focal point of Indian economic growth, the hub of the IT industry, the this and the that. A place where the educated youth can work hard to earn big, where new ideas and innovative schemes are watered and taken care of, where the layer of bureaucracy over everything is thinner than in the rest of the country. Bangalore, Bangalore, Bangalore, Bangalore, Bangalore and..Bangalore. The word 'bangalored' has even entered dictionaries as a term to describe the loss one's job due to business outsourcing.

Amidst all this adulation, respect and endless praise, Bangaloreans go and make a mess of everything. Rajkumar, an innocent if highly gifted actor, died at age 77 on April 13th. He passed away surrounded by his family and loved ones as he died peacefully in his sleep. And the city just erupts.

Now, how in the world does the natural death of a superstar, excite an entire city to go around destroying things? Bangaloreans of all sizes, raging at God for doing such a dastardly act as well as at the police which stopped hordes of them from rushing in to get a last glimpse of the superstar, go on a rampage. Vehicles on the roads are overturned, buses are burnt and buildings are attacked. Policemen are seen running as civilians chase them in droves throwing stones.

Bill Gates and his minions, in their foolishness, had built a glass structured Microsoft building just next to Rajkumar's residence. Now obviously if you put so much glass in front of rioting mobs, you're just asking for it. Bangaloreans all just chorused "Jinke ke ghar sheeshe ke hote hain, woh - " in Kannada, and even though they couldn't really complete this sentence, they went ahead and threw the rocks.

How? Why? Seriously, why? Its not like the doctors pricked needles into the guy's skin and tickled him to death. No jealous rival actor tripped him as he was trying to negotiate a nasty flight of stairs. He didnt have food poisoning, tennis elbow, twisted ankle or even a fever. He died, like I said, of natural causes peacefully and I suppose contentedly. Maybe if someone had told him his fans were going to mourn in a violent sort of way, he would have fought a bit harder. But now its too late.

Sifting through the pages of history, we see countless instances of people doing strange things for even stranger reasons. When Dan Brown shouted "liar liar, pants on fire!" at the Church he received at the worst a lot of condemnation and a few lawsuits. But Islamic fundamentalists, still in Crusades-mode, choose to issue fatwas and ask for the head of Danish cartoonists simply because they suffer from extreme insecurity of their God's sanctity. George Bush goes to war in Iraq citing reasons of peace and security for the world, when all he actually wants is to complete his Daddy's dream of having oil for free. And then they re-elect him. These things happen, however inexplicable and meaningless they seem.

But is there even any such flimsy or weak justification for these riots? Why on earth do you do something like this? An entire city full of people just go berserk and play 'terrorist-terrorist' for absolutely no goddamn reason. Newspapers try to make sense of it by saying that people are mourning violently in Bangalore, but this does not explain the childlike innocent joy in the faces of these mourners as they torch buses and hurl bricks at cars. Similar things have happened before too in Bangalore's colourful recent past. When another great actor died a few years back, there were cases of similar riots and mobbing. Some women couldn't see reasons to live anymore, so they commited suicide. Then when this same actor Rajkumar was abducted by late Mr. Veerappan and taken away to his jungle abode, Bangaloreans erupted again. They were going to go and burn down the whole forest only, but that didn't work out thankfully.

Its tough to really find any sense in all this commotion and crazy rioting. But we can see perhaps a bit of an explanation to what prompted people to adopt such an...umm...'expressive' form of mourning. India is a volcanic nation, waiting for a reason to erupt. Every region of India has its own cache of causes that need to be fulfilled for riots and senseless bloodshed to begin. West Bengal has Mamata Banerjee who usually supervises all this while screaming from her mic, Mumbai has dons being the underworld capital of India, and Kashmir has Pakistan.

Bangalore is similarly a volcanic city. In between all the highrise buildings, the rapid development and the honking traffic, you have hidden a frustrated and highstrung society. People who live in a dream world, to which they have access only through the magic of cinema. Cinema stars become megastars and idols, helping people through their daily toils and silent suffering. When these life-supports are taken away, you see recoil in the form of blind anger lashing out at everything in its path. Rajkumar was an actor who shunned countless offers from Bollywood to focus on Kannada cinema, to continue to portray the dreams and aspirations of the masses who considered him above all else. There is a lot to be seen in these riots. They represent frustration at the abrupt ending of a dream, and white-hot anger at the sudden closing of portals through which one could escape one's sorrows and tribulations.


Vipul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Vipul said...

Let me correct you , ahem .. Bangalore is NOT ONLY known in the United States of America as a centre of excellence in IT and IT enables Services . Bangalore was the name given to the large,slender sticks of dynamite that were used by the Allied and Axis powers in World War II to blow up large holes in the steel wires around a major fortification thereby saving the lives of countless soldiers ( mostly American since the Germans were the ones seated comfortably behind a HMG in the fort placing bets on as to who would shoot the most number of American 'hunden' ). Anyways Mr.Hope-I-Win-A-Booker-Prize-With-This-Shitty-Blog , please keep your facts accurate.