Saturday, May 10, 2014

Manjunath - The Name, the Hero!

Manjunath - The Name, the Hero!

Circa 2005. Barely six months into my first 'job' (that's what most of us end up doing, few choose to define their lives and that of the surrounding ecosystem with their 'karmas') from the campus I heard the nerve shattering news of a senior alumnus from my B-school getting brutally murdered, thousands of miles away from his native place but not very far away from the very institution where he enthralled his buddies with his not so glamorous visage but with his captivating charm & endearing attitude towards life.

I never knew him personally but that handicap couldn't dilute the impact of the 'persona' I had subconsciously weaved in my thoughts over a period of time. "That's the way of leading the life, with clarity of thoughts & purpose that shouldn't wither under adverse or intimidating circumstances." He was a real life hero, for me and for scores of others. If there still was a real world, selfish dilemma over the meaning of his martyrdom merely a recall of the fact of his having roamed around the same hostel corridors and the hang out places in the dead of nights was good enough to restore the semblance.

Eight more full winters went past since that fateful cold evening when even the blood of the 'near' eye witnesses chose to remain frozen as they shamelessly denied having 'experienced' any event as loud as pumping of half a dozen bullets in the body of an officer on duty well past his expected patrolling hours. It was a real life story which deserved to be told to a wider audience. So when I heard about the release of the cinematic adaptation of it I felt like having already adorned fifty six stars and stripes on me (like all of his alma mater would feel) while our politicos are fighting over the measurement of their chest in their bid to woo the electorate of the nation.

What pained me was a bitter realization that when a certain, almost mythical figure which allegedly all the daddies and uncles of today's generation are very much more than just aware of gets a rousy welcome at the box office the real hero doesn't get more than a couple of shows across any of the plethora of multiplexes in and around Mumbai! What a disgrace!

This afternoon I couldn't wait to have a dekko at the reel Manjunath and reached one of such multiscreen theatres ten minutes ahead of the '(reluctantly) publicised' show time. To my horror I was informed that the management decided to cancel the show sighting lack of patrons for the 'movie'! What more, they suggested me to watch some other movie running in their theatre including Mastram! Such an intolerable insensitivity. Not everything in life is guided with just the money making agenda on cards. I gave them a peace of my mind and not so surprisingly none knew about who Manjunath actually was! I didn't feel any bad in putting my foot down and asking them to go ahead with the show. As a last ditch attempt to dissuade me from pushing them against their chosen comfort the manager warned that the money spent on the ticket won't be returned should I later find the movie not to my liking!

That's the state of affairs of our collective consciousness. We choose to be selectively 'conscientious' when we know that our friends are getting notification from us (on FB, where else?) as we express our anguish over secularism or corruption or propriety or blah blah. We also choose to publicly relish opportunities of someone peeping into the private life of a septuagenarian (who is still active in politics) and his couple of decades younger paramour.

Sitting absolutely alone in an auditorium with a capacity for three fifty could be nauseating as it makes one realise about one's eccentric taste but I indeed felt aghast over the lack of sensitivity on part of the cinema owners and more over the missing audience' 'interest'. Common guys! If you could have been lacking the patience while waiting for your fill of that 'Khan' (or 'Kapoor') bummer why can't you shell out half the sum of money and even lesser time to salute the hero who actually breathed in flesh & blood unlike some of the VFX dummies? And why can't the state be woken up from its slumber in making this praiseworthy project tax free?

While we can continue contemplating over some of the above uneasy questions let me share my take on the two hour long cinematic experience.

What stood out during the entire length of the movie was its understated yet profound narrative supplemented with some very fine performances with the on screen Manjunath and his mother (played by the ever so reliable Seema Biswas) taking the cherry. Sasho Sattiysh Sarathy has more than reasonably managed to get into the skin of the character he is playing. His being an unknown entity gives him that much extra edge in portraying a real life character. Made on a shoe string budget all its support cast delivers more than what you would expect them to do. Yashpal Sharma has done a remarkable job in essaying the wiley petrol pump dealer. He says to Manju, "Gandhi har koi chahta hai, magar pados me. Apne ghar har koi Golu Goyal chahta hai." (Every one wants a Gandhi but in their neighbourhood. In one's own house they secretly long for a hoodwink). That pretty much sums up the ethical dilemma most of us find ourselves forced into. There won't ever be easy guidance coming in from inside. Just a name "Manjunath" could come handy. Try it once and see if it makes a difference.

(C) Rits Original