In the year 2001, a Bollywood flick titled ‘Nayak: The Real Hero’ hit the cinemas. A remake of the Tamil movie Mudhalvan (1999), it was directed by Shankar and starred Anil Kapoor as the main protagonist.
Now, I could go on detailing the rest of the crew, the lavish song cinematography, its box office performance and more importantly, the critics review, but in doing so, I would not only be trivializing this article but also wasting precious space and indeed, words. I’d rather cut straight to the main sticking point; its story.
The plot of the movie in itself is fairly simple enough even for an average melodramatic Indian movie. It tells the story of a normal journalist who goes on with his daily mundane life, until he confronts the Chief Minister of his state in an interview. Upon posing some unpleasant yet truthful questions about dire aspects of the governing administration, to which the respondent has feeble answers, the journalist finds himself challenged. “You sit here asking me questions and expect me to answer all of them? Do you know what it is to be a CM, how many challenges and tricky prepositions that I need to encounter…. If you will, try to be the CM for one day and then you will know.”
The rest as it eventually turns out is history. Presently that history has repeated itself. The leader of Aam Aadmi Party, (roughly translated as Common Man Party), Arvind Kejriwal was recently sworn in as the seventh and youngest Chief Minister of Delhi, and I took the opportunity to revisit Nayak.Â Agreed, while the script may subtly differ, the essence remains same. An outsider, coming from nowhere, assumes the top most post and tries turning the existing universe upside-down.
The movie captures rapid governmental changes enacted by the ‘one day’ Chief Minister, much to the insecurity of other politicians, leading to the arrest of the constitutionally elected CM within the end of the former’s twenty-four hour tenure. From then on, it is a typical fare with the hero overcoming all odds, triumphing over evil, getting permanently elected, and promising real change and last but not the least, uniting with his girlfriend.
In our country where everyone likes to talk about politics but no wants to indulge in it, comes this long awaited change of a man who finally walked the talk, but can it be really true?
Even as Kejriwal was being administered the oath of office at the Ramlila Maidan, which incidentally is where it all started for him in the form of the anti-corruption movement two years back, I was having a conversation with Surender Solanki, a freelance photographer, over a cup of tea. In many ways, Surender’s forthcoming views resembled that of countless optimists living in this country.
Twinkle-eyed with the immense promise held by Kejriwal for the 25 million residents of India’s capital city, he said, “I assure you that while this government may have well started counting its days, they are going to whip a hurricane of changes.”
And, that’s exactly what transpired immediately. One of the very first moves enacted was to ban officials and ministers from flaunting red beacons on top of their cars. For long held as a fort of the rich and powerful, Delhi was yearning to be given back to its rightful holders, its citizens.
The jury is still out as to whether the party can fulfill all its promises and indeed, replicate its maiden electoral success all over the country. For its part, Delhi was literally on the streets, voicing its unlimited concerns and not shying away from seeking a change of guard. Â It’s been nearly 2 weeks since taking charge (he had also promised to put in place a system to resolve public grievances by then) andÂ , and we are now witness to reports of Kejriwal doing U-turns and his party proving to be novice when it came to issues needing much more than a public referendum. But then, that is something which Surender acknowledges. “I am afraid this (AAP project) is for the long term. Thus, for anyone to expect instant results would be rather unfair.” Nayak, increasingly seems to be an unconvincing reference point, but not before I witness the climax scene wherein the hero rather regretfully says, “At last, they have made even me a politician.” DÃ©jÃ vu, anyone?