'Chalo Jeete Hain' raises issues of caste, poverty, inequality in a quietly radical way
Ajay Singh | July 28, 2018 | New Delhi
A 32-minute short film titled ‘Chalo Jeete Hain’, premiered at a screening hosted by vice president M Venkaiah Naidu at the GMC Balayogi auditorium on Wednesday, is more remarkable for the social message it carries than the fact that it is inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s childhood days.
The film is essentially centered on deep-seated caste prejudices that glaringly exist among the Hindus much to the discomfiture of a young lad called “Naru” (the abbreviated name of Narendra). It revolts Naru’s sense of justice to see a boy of scheduled caste denied education on account of his penury. The scheduled caste’s unending travails and society’s apathy is boldly depicted in the movie.
But the beauty of the movie is that it is not seditious. The ‘peela phool’ (yellow flower) offered to the gods in Hindu temples is used as a metaphor of social reforms. In fact, “Peela Phool” is also the title of a play written by Modi during his school days and staged in Vadnagar town where he spent his childhood days. The play is essentially a commentary against orthodox brahminical order but avoids commenting against the caste system directly.
For instance, the movie is replete with instances of even upper caste people coming to the support of those considered untouchables by the higher echelons of society. The faith in the inner goodness of the society is emphasised quite forcefully when the protagonist of the movie manages to collect enough money through contribution to fund education of the scheduled caste friend. One can see the satisfaction on the face of Naru when he sees his friend walking into the classroom.
This short movie breaks the usual mould on various counts. It carries a very profound message without spreading any rancour against anyone. Though it is apparently inspired by Modi’s childhood life, it does not convey any political message and exclusively focuses on social reform. What is particularly outstanding in this short film is the deep empathy felt for one another by those living on the margins in the suburban milieu.
Naru’s family is also living in stark poverty and economically they are only a shade better than the scheduled caste family, though they are not so ostracized socially. Yet Naru could easily identify himself with the travails of a scheduled caste boy both economically and socially. He seemed quite conscious of humiliation one faces on account of not only economic marginalisation but also social inequality. In one scene, the hero accompanies his mother who does domestic chores on a rich neighbourhood to eke out her family’s living.
‘Chalo Jeete Hain’ is also a classical portrayal of society’s fault line while reposing an unremitting faith in its collective strength to overcome it. The movie may not be a work of revolutionary story-telling in the subversive sense – it is conformist to the core. This may expose the movie to the charge of being an exercise in public relation by the prime minister. It may also be seen as a prelude to image correction in the run-up to the election campaign for 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Without contesting these charges, there is no denying the fact that the short film is a socially audacious enterprise in a scenario where a biopic like ‘Sanju’ gets a big draw. In this case, the protagonist of the movie, Naru, would have to bank on the collective goodness of the society to make this movie a vehicle of social message and not just entertainment.
[This comment has appeared on FirstPost.com]
Close to 48 lakh migrant labourers have been able to reach home from the cities they were working in, as the Indian Railways have run a total of 3,543 “Sharmik Special” trains from May 1. Following the home ministry order regarding the movement by special trains of migrant worker
Before the novel coronavirus hit it, Mumbai about 10-12 lakh labourers from elsewhere had made it their home. The figure for the state of Maharashtra was another 18-20 lakh. As the pandemic spread and the Maximum City emerged as the worst-hit place in India, all economic activities came to an end, and with
For the rest of the world, it is not easy to understand China when it comes to politics or economics. Under pressure from the international community, it has accepted to open the country for a “comprehensive” probe into the origin of the deadly coronavirus. But it is not clear whether the Asian
Even as humanitarian support is pouring in to help distressed migrants amid Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown, civil society organizations and NGOs are working for sanitation of community toilets which have become breeding source of virus infection. Every community toilet has 20 seats. Each
India, completing about two months of lockdown to protect against the spread of the Novel Coronavirus, has made good use of the time to improve health infrastructure, the government has said. Countering media reports “about some decisions of the government regarding the lockdown implem
As India begins to learn to live with Covid-19 and come out of nearly two-month long lockdown, regular train services are set to resume from June 1 in a graded manner, even as more ‘shramik’ special trains are planned. The railway ministry, in consultation with the health ministr