Posted February 19, 2007on:
A Jeep screeches to a halt in a crowded marketplace, its occupants, grimy fat goons with gruff voices and bloody toad eyes which threaten to pop out any second, jump out and rush inside a shop. A scared murmuring crowd gathers around the entrance, as the goons drag out the struggling, writhing, pleading shopkeeper. The lead goon walks to the jeep and hauls out a, believe it, sledge hammer and a, horror horror, chest nail. He ominously walks to the still groveling victim-to-be, his kajal lined eyes all ablaze, his pan reddened mouth shaped in a menacing expression. The pleadings rise to a desperate pitch, and the crowds murmur drops to a terrified silence, as he places the nail on the victim’s skull, and with a swing of his arm brings down the sledge hammer, WHAM!
SPLATT! The perpetrators face is splattered in bright red.
That is the opening scene of the popular blockbuster “Shiva” for you, directed by the critically acclaimed (so they say) Ram Gopal Verma. That is Bollywood for you. That is subtle Indian moviemaking for you. And that is what seemingly appeals to the Indian audiences.
Although I laughed away as I watched the movie, even I realized It was not funny.
The theme of Indian movies is again and again, “Violent Revolution”. Violence to overthrow the perpetrators, violence for right. But you start to get the feeling that it is more to it than just violence for right, and there is almost a pleasure in this violence, as the protagonist hits the perpetrator again and again, over and over. As the perpetrator falls through the wall, through the glass door, over the wooden table, down the balcony, the protagonist seems to derive a deep instinctive pleasure out of every blow, ever thud of fist (or leg or elbow) meeting jaw/groin/flesh, a primal delight as the villain’s face gets bloodier and bloodier, his clothes more tattered, and his groans heavier. This foreplay of violence rises to a pitch and in a moment of orgasmic fury – BANG (or KHUCHHH) the perpetrator is relieved on his misery.
You get a sense that the message is not, in itself dubious “Violence for Right”, but is reduced to merely “Violence”. Will a populace which is fed on such a constant dose of violence, become somewhere fixated to it, and start glorifying it and at some point, emulate it?