Between a Film and our Reality: Insights and Hindsights

The Morbi Bridge collapse was tragic. The pain of the loss of innocent lives is still hauntingly lingering in our minds and hearts. It appears to be a criminal act of negligence and corruption of the highest order. We seem to be not learning our lessons from the past. The loss does not seem to be enough for our authorities to bring to book the big fish that is really responsible for the tragedy. Several voices have expressed dissatisfaction about the preliminary investigation. Others have questioned the need of giving an overnight facelift to the hospital that was treating the survivors. Still, others have questions of opening the bridge without its safety being certified. Some others question the contract being given to a manufacturer of clocks who has no expertise and who then subcontracted it to a welding unit. There are several questions that remain unanswered. The line of culpability is very long. But it does not seem to be reflected in the preliminary investigation.

It appeared that the ruling benches converted the tragic event into a photo event with none other than the visit of our Prime Minister. The tears of the people seem to have become the fears of the ruling BJP in a poll-bound Gujrat. Hence, its leaders of every rank and file switched to damage control mode. Politics on all sides seem to be fast and quick to convert the tragedy of the people into political capital though Rahul Gandhi rightly refused to politicize the same.

While we are still coming to terms with the tragic event, a 1983 movie, Jaano Bhi do Yaaro seems to offer us a profound insight ( Hindsight) to understand the unfortunate incident. It is a satirical black comedy. Even after four decades after its release, the film seems to be perfectly picturing the state of our society. It is clearly depicting the nexus between Big Business, Media, and Politics. Today this nexus has grown to the hights of monstrosity and we are haunted by its axis of deception that is hiding behind cultural nationalism. We are still haunted by unemployment and different sets of rules for different people. We can see it in the way its main characters Vinod Chopra and Sudhir Mishra are hit by the tides of the plot. We can also identify a sold-out media house as the plot unfolds while putting up an appearance (mask) of fighting against corruption trying to expose the scandalous life of the rich and the powerful. The Movie centers around corruption deals between unscrupulous builder, Tarneja and Municipal Commissioner D’Mello as well as the business rival Ahuja.

The Movie, Jaano Bhi do Yaaro has all the masala of a Hindi film which also involves a murder and the collapse of a flyover. This is why one can draw a parallel between the movie and the tragic incident of the fall Morbi bridge. The way the movie ends by putting all the blame on the innocent Vinod and Sudhir sends shivers down our spine because it triggers a fear that we may also not have the real culprits punished in the case of the man-made tragedy that hit us in Gujarat. As the FIR so far has only named only those who seem to be remotely connected with the incident and the real culprit who had the power of making the decision and who apparently seem to have criminally abused it are left scot-free, the Gujrat tragedy seems to be ending the way the movie Jaano Bhi do Yaaro ends.

The final scene in the movie is heart-rending. It shows that innocent Vinod and Sudhir are released after several years of being in jail. They still roam in prison dress manifesting not just abortion of justice and truth but proclaiming an important plain truth that even though we think that we are free but our bound to chains. What we think is freedom is actually unfreedom. We are in a maya that we are free. Maybe we have to ask: are we really free? What Rosseau had taught: ‘man is born free but is in chains everywhere’ is our truth. Hence, it is time that we open our eyes and come wakefully aware and resist this politics of unfreedom that enslaves us.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao