The urban, comfort-loving, aspiring-to-be-global class is in love with fear, it seems. They watch horror movies on 6-inch screens and make memes out of God-fearing Catholic ghosts. They shudder at the possibility of a fossil fuel empty Earth and celebrate Earth Day by turning off their LED bedroom lights for an hour or so.
Despite their fear for varied situations ranging from asteroid attacks, alien invasions, to nuclear holocaust and mutant bacteria, this cosmopolitan, self-declared apolitical class of New India, residing mainly inside gated (ghettoed) communities of smart cities, puts up a terrible show when it comes to understanding the fear of persecution of the minorities. In their home-delivered lives of convenience, anything that doesn’t belong to a platter does not exist.
Anupam Dasgupta’s short film “Tu Zinda Hai” is an honest attempt to explore the political aspect of fear, the real fear surrounding us in a polarised society. It holds a mirror before us, like any sensible piece of art should do.
“Tu Zinda Hai” is about a journalist from a Dalit background who is asked to write a piece on Dalits for the special issue of a magazine. He struggles to write his views, mulling over whether he would get “full freedom” to express himself, his mind wandering across the various objects in his room, and into the realm of the virtual. He is startled and upset by a tragic piece of news and tries to get some fresh air in the streets. He comes across seemingly harmless but strange encounters that seem to arouse fear in him. And then he returns to write. Does he submit his article on time? Is he able to conquer his fear?
The first thing that strikes one after watching “Tu Zinda Hai” is the clear departure from the sentimentalist narratives of the culture industry. It is the first offering of Kartooz Films which promises to serve meaningful content relevant to our political context. The director of TZH is clearly in no mood to entertain the viewer with stories of the loneliness of city-bred millennials. The film is stoically austere in its approach. The writer’s room is devoid of urban goodies and gadgets. The film gradually builds up the point it wants to make through seemingly unconnected incidents. It makes no pretensions about political overtones. It is political, but not in the slogan mongering partisan way. And it leaves an important question to us – how to deal with this fear?
This question unites all rational, liberal artists and free thinkers today. It’s important to get talking about this creeping anxiety, instead of becoming holed up in our respective cocoons. “Tu Zinda Hai” tries to open a conversation thread on overcoming fear. It unfolds the blank canvas staring at persecuted minorities in our country, and invites us to start writing our own slogans. It urges us to shout out and break the barriers. Because there’s no point in living without believing in life.
Tu zinda hai toh zindagi ki jeet pe yakeen kar (You are alive so believe in the victory of life).