Anand Patwardhan’s award winning documentary “War and Peace” was being screened at Eliots beach and I decided to go watch it, more out of a curiosity to see something in my ‘backyard’, than any deep passion for Leo Tolstoy or absorbing interest in watching award winning documentaries. There was a decent crowd (a few hundreds methinks) ; the setting was amazing, under the stars, with a light breeze blowing. After A.P. introduced himself and the topic, there was a song against the atom bomb. It had a nice kishore song(‘aa leka chalna’) as background music; a very apt accompaniment to the telling visuals, and most amazing of all, it was a hindi song which didn’t have the words ‘dil’,’pyaar’,’mohabbat’ or ’ishq’!
Then came the documentary which was good – started off with Gandhi’s assassination, then India in 1998 exploding the atom bomb, a variety of interviews with the aam aadmi, scientists and villagers near Pokhran, the effects of the fallout, then Pakistan exploding the atom bomb, then their aam aadmi and scientists, then Japan after the atom bomb, then USA and why it decided to explode the atom bomb.
It was all very thought provoking and conveyed a strong message. Fittingly, it ended with Gandhi and the suggestion that non violence was the way out, though without a clear indication of how to accomplish this in order to ensure world peace (which is surely what every young guy, including me, ponders about twenty four hours a day; the main reason why I decided to watch the film in the first place.). Needless to say,documentary filmmakers have to take potshots at politicians and here AP broke the matka with a few powerful blows.
Then there was a question -answer session which brings me to the subject of this blog. Wherever you go, there always is a Bozo Unafraid of Shooting Himself/Herself in public (whom I will refer to in future as B.U.S.H); you know, the kind of asses who make fools of themselves in public by asking ridiculous questions or doing something stoopid deliberately.
There is this old B.U.S.H who comes to quizzes, mainly to win an audience prize. In fact, whenever Derek O’Brien asks him an audience question, this guy tells him he knew his father in 1965, thus exposing himself to a jibe from quickwitted DOB. B.U.S.H grins widely at the joke and takes in the applause like an Oscar winning Best Actor too tonguetied to give any speech. Every answer will elicit a loud explanation from him( one answer given by the quizmaster was something Kapil Dev so B.U.S.H tries to attract the quizmaster’s attention by saying “Ah Yes! the Indian cricketer ” and acting as if he had been born with the answer in his mouth). Nowadays, I go to these big quizzes more to watch B.U.S.H than with any hopes of winning any prize.
So,in the Q & A with AP,there was this B.U.S.H who comes and says “You screened it in Alliance Francaise where there was an elite crowd, now you are screening to the masses …”he stops as he realises he has insulted the crowd in calling the crowd which consisted mostly of college students,retired guy and a few working professionals. AP corrects him. Then he asks when he plans to show it to the masses. AP cuts him down to size by saying that it was clearly explained in both English and Tamil earlier in the program that they were in the process of translating the docuentary to Tamil so that everybody could understand. Sheepish grin from B.U.S.H and exit left centre.
Enter B.U.S.H jr. who thankfully started of with a “ I know this may sound dumb” then went on to elevate herself to B.U.S.H status by continuing with
”Did the Shiv Sena threaten you in Mumbai?”. To those who have not seen the documentary, AP criticises the BJP and the Shiv Sena throughout, showing how their volunteers signed their names in blood after the bomb, blocked peace rallies and so on. So, dunno what B.U.S.H jr. expected the answer to be. No,the Shiv Sena are amazing sporting types. Love a good joke. pukka sahibs all. In fact, they welcomed him with aartis wherever he went and promised to build a temple installing him as the principal deity.
However,all things considered,the documentary was good;definitely worth watching. And, the world, thankfully, is not populated with too many B.U.S.Hes.Yippee!