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The Kannada Context: “Gandhigiri”, nADahabba and Everything Else

Categories: South Asia, India, Arts & Culture, Economics & Business, Film, Freedom of Speech, History, Humor, Ideas, Indigenous, Language, Literature, Media & Journalism, Migration & Immigration, Music, Politics, Protest

Gandhi Jayanti (Gandhi [1]‘s Birth Anniversary) was observed yesterday in India and elsewhere. It was celebrated the most by the electronic media, of course. What was different this time, however, was that, a lot of them talked about “Gandhigiri”, the new phrase, and supposedly the newly revived way of life. Curiously, a mainstream Hindi movie, which proposes “Gandhigiri”, seems to have made a fairly big impact – Lage Raho Munnabhai. While, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the news channels juxtaposing the movie and Gandhi Jayanti, the narrow notions that the channels project is irritating. No doubt, sensationalism sells. But it does not last. It's a consummable and gets consumed very soon. So, what do you do to counter this? Simple. Wait for another sensational piece of news. Right?

Well, sarcasm aside, Sudarshan writes an outstanding review [2] of the superhit Hindi movie, Lage Raho Munnabhai. The review puts light on the contemporary social and economical context in India and the world, and talks about how the movie raises some important questions and also hints at solutions in a healthy manner. In fact, much healthier a manner than its predecessor (Munnabhai MBBS). This review of the movie is much more intricate than a lot of other one-dimensional reviews that I have read about the same movie. There are many subtle hints in the movie, Sudarshan thinks, that do well. For example, some “Post Modernist” intellectuals always tend to draw a very simplistic and romanticised picture of Gandhi as a non-modern person who supported some superstitions. Here, “Gandhigiri” vehemently opposes kundalis (horoscopes) and such stuff.

He also talks about Ritvik Ghatak's movie Suvarna Rekha. It is a realistic movie that records the changes in the Gandhian values across different eras, without directly bringing in Gandhi anywhere in the screenplay.

Although Lage Raho Munnabhai is a good movie, Sudarshan warns, unless we are discerning enough about the subtle messages, we would fall prey to media driven sensationalism. As the media is already projecting, the Indian common man is ready to receive Gandhi only if he is adequately comically clad! That is not true. Sudarshan also feels that the movie could have depicted more of Gandhian forward looking ideas.

An epic ought to have eighteen kinds of descriptions. Or descriptions about eighteen fairly distinct and well defined entities.

ವಾರಿಧಿ ಪರ್ವತಂ ಪುರನಧೀಶ್ವರನುದ್ವಹನಂ ಕುಮಾರನಂ
ಭೋರುಹವೈರಿಮಿತ್ರರುದಯಂ ಋತುನಂದನಬುಕೇಳಿ ಕಾಂ
ತಾರತಿ ಚಿಂತೆ ಮಂತ್ರ ಚರ ಯಾನ ವಿರೋಧಿಜಯಂಗಳೆಂಬಿವಂ
ಸೂರಿಗಳಂಗಮೆಂದು ಕೃತಿಯೊಳ್ ಪದಿನೆಂಟಮನೆಯ್ದೆ ಬಣ್ಣಿಪರ್
(ಸೂಕ್ತಿ ಸುಧಾರ್ಣವಂ ೧-೭೬)

The above is a representative example. It says – oceans, mountains, cities, kings, chariots, children, sunrise, moonrise, seasons, watersport, romance, worries, dialogue, military intelligence, journeys, enemies, victory et al. All these are to be detailed through poetry for the perusal of the Pandits.

Murthy talks about an interesting classical gem [3]. He goes further to explain how, for example, seasons are detailed in epics. He talks about how the “arrival of spring” (vasaMtAgamana) is expressed in poems, and how this remains a timeless notion with poets from all eras showing enthusiasm about the spring.

As september ends, Antarangi, who's situated in New Jersey, talks about the beginning of fall [4]. An eventful september it was with the first week consumed by the World Kannada Conference (vishwa kannaDa sammELana) and the last one by the Dasara celebrations. It also reminds him that we are nearing the end of the year. End of september marks the end of the third quarter and there will be increased activity in Wall Street. Perhaps a lot of big and interesting things will happen in the US and the world, but the immediate need is to remember to start using his overcoat to protect himself from the cold.

Mala Rao maintains a nice blog called chitra-durga [5]. Her posts are usually ruminations of some old poems or songs that get linked to a present incident. For example, she remembers some old movie songs and a shloka [6] on the day of Saraswati Pooja during the Navaratris. By the way, Navaratri is the nADahabba (Festival of the Land) of Karnataka. Dasara celebrations here are very famous, specially the Mysore Dasara celebrations.

Manaswini says she can never compromise [7] when the Kannada language is at stake. In other words, she will never follow Bangalore's legendary phrase, swalpa adjust mADkoLLi (adjust a little, please).

Phantom writes a poem expressing his displeasure [8] about people forcing Hindi. Indeed. It is bizarre that people use the “national language” argument to force Hindi down others’ thorats. They also want Hindi to be used in banks and other business places. What is even more bizarre to me is – when someone champions regional languages, it is considered to be narrow and retrogressive; but when Hindi is being forced, we don't see much rebuttal.

Saraswathi writes a poetic plea to help in finding “a child that is lost”. The child is lost in the concrete jungle, or among those software machines, or in the various noises of Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi et al.. She's talking about Kannada [9]. A good poem actually.

Srinivasa talks in first person as a crow [10]. A crow from Sollapur (Maharashtra) travelling to Bangalore. The crow does not need a ticket, is unbothered about the border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka, and has very simple and natural needs. Unlike we humans.

A few years ago, we used to have nice political satires presented in the colloquial tongues of rural Karnataka, in some Kannada weekly tabloids. I don't know if we still have them as I have stopped following these tabloid magazines for a while now. They all have becomes gossips galore. I stumbled upon a blog that does a good job at political satire – kAlachakra [11]. We live in such times that almost anything seems unreal. So, just add a little bit of humour and vitriol to it and you get a nice satire. I don't even know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Heh.

majAvAni classifieds gives a catchy advertisement. They are looking for people [12]. “An esteemed Protest Management Organisation is looking for fasting experts and experienced suicide experts. Interested candidates need apply along with 13 passport size photographs and a Police Certificate [translated]”. A very sharp, but absolutely necessary, ridicule about some political parties that survive on such gimmicks alone.

Birth, when eyes open
Death, when closed
Isn't blink the only journey? [Translated]

It's a translation to English from Kannada from Telugu [13]. So, everything cannot be intact. Hopefully, you still get the idea. In fact, Sriram has a blog for “Poems that are not mine” (nannadallada kavite) [14], that feature his translations of poems from several poets and several languages. Very good effort.

“Kannadiga” spends a day at the Registrar's office trying to register a site he has bought. His account uses uncany imagery and evokes humour and angst [15] at the same time, and understandably so: the sweat due to numerous people there reminds him of the Vrushabhavati river; the people on the other side of the people look like Vajramuni, an old Kannada movie baddie.

Avi talks about the power of time, kAla. How a minute can change things [16]. Indeed. Why are we so obsessed with the past? Why are we so nostalgic [17]? Asks Sree. She would rather be intimate with the present.

The cool breeze that that blows gently
Would you saunter near my friend a while?
Not a surprise if she renders you cooler.

Soma writes a fairly mushy poem for his friend [18]. The above is a translated excerpt. There is a Kannada Videos blog [19] that has a lot of videos, mainly of Kannda movie songs. Venu has a few [20] good poems [21] on his blog.

That's about it for this time. See you soon. Goodbye!