'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]
The Indic Quotient: Reclaiming Heritage through Cultural Enterprise By Kaninika Mishra Bloomsbury India, 230 pages, Rs. 499 Over the past decade, India has seen a significant rise in passion for enterprise as well as pride in her
International observers will keenly watch the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee meeting next month. The central committee is the highest organ of the CCP with a mandate to execute the decision of the National Congress which is convened once every five years. Besides economy, r
News profession is organic in nature, requires responsibility and discipline, and there is no room for mistake. To maintain high standards of accuracy you need discipline and hygiene in the newsroom. Sudhir Chaudhary, editor in chief of Zee News, Zee Business and Wion, has said that a TRP-driven business m
When Dharmendra Pandey, a fruit-seller had to leave Mumbai after the imposition of the lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, and return to his village in Uttar Pradesh, he was staring at economic uncertainties ahead. Little did he know that his 16-year-old son, Mahavir, had acquired skills that would come
Wearing a face mask is the first line of defence against the novel coronavirus, along with maintaining social distance and frequently washing hands with soap. More than six months after the outbreak of Covid-19, nearly 90 percent of people in India have become aware of the necessity of wearing a face mask,
Is India finally gaining an upper hand over the Covid-19 pandemic? After weeks of new cases hitting 90,000-plus every day, the tide seems to be turning, as the number came down to 75,083 on Tuesday, and the recoveries were not only higher than that but crossed the 1 lakh mark too. The countr