Gallery, conventionally defined as the segment who buys the exaggerated version of a product, has always been a factor which makes or breaks a film. Especially, in Indian Cinema, where the gallery is comfortably called the “masses”, most of the films which get churned out of the Bollywood machinery target this segment. Few online sites define gallery as a group of lowest common denominators.
As the movies got popular, the politicians, insecure of their own theatrical performances, began challenging the movie actors from the podium of their election speeches. The speeches started being the mimicry of what we call a “masala” movie. The election rally, ideally a platform to appeal for votes has now become a stage where the politician, trained by a set of professionals backstage, is now mocking his opponents through the language of movies. The one liner gets more attention than the entire speech. Recently, at a rally, Telangana CM, Chandrababu Naidu, while attacking his opponent, Jagan Mohan Reddy, said, “He is a ganja plant in the middle of tulsi garden”.
Populism has taken over idealism. The sudden rise of theatrical politics in the past few years makes me wonder, are they playing to the Gallery?
The Gallery here isn’t just the lowest common denominators; it includes even the privileged denominators.
The three personalities, who currently fascinate me in Indian politics are largely driven by their already perceived image – Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi and Arnab Goswami.
Arnab Goswami has grown to be an important figure in the politics from a merely loud sounding, high decibel journalist. Arnab Goswami and Rahul Gandhi, years ago, shared a moment which went onto define their perceived image for the next couple of years. That interview, which seemed like no less than a mirror image of my viva exam in one of my forgettable engineering semesters, had Rahul Gandhi bring out the not-so-smart side of him and in turn made Arnab Goswami, the hero who asks tough questions. Was it really a hard interview? It’s been five years and I wonder had that interview not been aired, these two gentlemen would be as irrelevant as they were then.
Another thing which stung Arnab was the UPA corruption scandals his team at Times Now claimed to have exposed. He saw himself as the younger version of Anna Hazare but sitting in an AC room. We, the audience, back then, saw him as a journalist who questions the establishment but only to realise, after five years, that he is yet to come out of his own image of himself. Imagine a day, where he doesn’t shout in his debates, where he talks in a tone as the rest of his colleagues, where he makes sense, how out of character would that be?
The one who is trying hard to come out of the perception is Rahul Gandhi. We all know him as the person who would make us laugh from the Whatsapp forwards and his occasional speeches at forums. The politician turned comedian we knew seems to have been making attempts to brush that image under the carpet and be more relevant. He sure has succeeded to some extent, but is not been able to convince the mass, the Gallery. They want him to make dumber statements every day. That’s the Rahul Gandhi they crave for. His campaign should have been to promote his older self. May be it would have helped him in bagging few seats in the election.
His attempt of coming out of the largely convinced image of himself is appreciable, but has the transformation been authentic and believable?
He has made his entry to the theatrical politics where his opponent, who he embraced in the parliament, is a master of. Even now, after the much thought out attempt, he seems to be out of place. He is trying to please the people who have already been pleased by the other leader. It seems like that film “Bullet Raja” where Saif Ali Khan tried to woo the already devoted audience of Bhai. It didn’t work and it won’t. Rahul Gandhi has come a long way from being the one who would be laughed at always to being the one who would be laughed at sometimes.
Speaking of who is laughing at Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi, traditionally seems to be the fan of theatrical politics. His predecessor, who was instrumental in bringing BJP from two seats at the Lok Sabha election to bagging a complete majority of 282 seats, LK Advani was one of the firsts to employ the kind of speeches we hear now.
Modi, before coming to the national politics, was projected as the best chief minister to have governed the state; thanks to few facts and social media. His first speech, after being the Prime Minister, thrashed all the perceptions of him being communal. He only spoke about the development. He was, after a long time, a PM who spoke sense. “Acche din aayenge” slogan reverberated in the ears of the common man. The theatrical politics returned after a decade of silent politics of Manmohan Singh.
Perceived as the one who would save the country from the mess created by the previous government, two years into his term, he would be seen battling between the perception of himself and his organisation.
While campaigning for the 2019 elections, the PM is seen speaking the language of his organisation which is very much a necessity for them. Had they not spoken the way their “masses” want them to, they would lose a major chunk of votes and had they not spoken about development, they would fail to swing their opponent’s vote bank.
In a country where the gallery defines the success of films, the victory of a political party, what do you do sitting in the balcony? You sit back, relax and enjoy the theatrical politics and coming out, you criticize the same thing you enjoyed a while back.
The lines between the Balcony and the Gallery is blurring out and making way for the perceptive politics.