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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Hero No. 1?


Monojit Lahiri throws light on the biggest drama playing out, every day, in India’s political arena and wonders who will financially edge out whom in the political box office to emerge, Hero No.1?
MONOJIT LAHIRI | Issue Dated: November 10, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Shobhaa De | SRK | Aamir Khan | Rahul Gandhi | Narendra Modi | Hero No. 1 | political box office | political arena |

Renowned columnist, author – and ‘ol buddy – Shobhaa De was spot-on! Let's not pretend we stay away/ignore Personality Cults and delve seriously & studiously – all grim-faced with furrowed forehead – into causes & concerns & issues while evaluating a person’s worth.  Agreed, we don’t blindly rush into our favourite’s arms but admit it – somewhere, somehow, blind spots do play a part in our decision-making process. Be it movie-stars, cricketers or politicians, ultimately imagination rules!  Is SRK a better or more versatile actor than [Perfectionist] Aamir Khan? “Who cares?  All I know is that crooked smile, that romantic andaaz, that deadly look … mar jaawa” will be the likely response of a fan.  Yuvi may be going through a rough patch, but to a fan “his swagger, killer batsmanship & cool body language on the field – not to forget his trip from hell and back – makes him total maar daala material!”

Can Politics be far behind?  Who can forget the adored Nehru and worshipped Gandhi [father of the nation, i.e.]?!  Sure they – along with others – were towering heroes, but truth to say, there is something in the human mind that ignores all the recitation of facts & figures, solid analysis, energetic debate & discussion to succumb totally to the thrill of imagination celebrating this Personality cult.  It is something that is impossible to define but hopelessly easy to identify.  The present face-off between Rahul Gandhi & Narendra Modi threatens to pursue a similar route …

Ra Ga, born into political royalty with a dozen silver spoons in his mouth, is the dimpled darling of a large section of the masses.  His USP – according to political analysts – is his earnestness, honesty, transparency & passion when articulating his case.  His latest slogan – Your dreams are my dreams – may not be the smartest, cleverest or sharpest, but it does resonate with a constituency that believes and buys into hisone-from-the-heart outpouring.  When the moment truth arrives, Columnist De believes, the Prince Charming might just edge ahead on the strength of his “heartbreakingly naïve” style in showcasing his persona.  Sexily casual – in appearance, dress & speech – Rahul Gandhi’s cool makes up for his lack of gravitas. Further, his youthful intensity, refreshing, spontaneous passion [that is tangible & palpable] zero manipulation, hypocritical posturing or lack of cynicism makes him out to be a solid contender, according to political pundits.

Na Mo, on the other hand, has risen from a nothing-from-nowhere space to dizzy heights.  His recent coronation as the public face of BJP, [edging out the ageless L.K. Advani, for Prime Ministerial candidature] reflects his present power & glory. Moulded into a cult figure by superb P.R. machinery, his positioning – insists De – “remains an artificial construct”.  Sharp & shrewd, Modi’s thunderous, audience-friendly, rabble-rousing speeches, high on drama & rhetoric, forever milking the Gujarat model of governance as the perfect template to get India out of the sorry mess she is in, continues to find huge favour with sections on the aam junta, of which – amazingly – there are large segments of youngistan too.  Also, as social commentator Shiv Visvanathan perceptively points out “the Modi narrative of tea-shop-to-Lutyens-Delhi [much like from-the-log-cabin-to-the-White House] makes for a compelling case study in the art & science of focus, determination, ambition & achievement.  Loud,  decisive, confident & itching to stand fearlessly and take on both Pakistan & China, Modi appears to be exactly the kind of tough, no-nonsense leader the nation needs in year 2014. Evoking huge curiosity with a career graph that sounds like a continuous proclamation while reducing his opponents to appear like archival fossils, his is the politics that yells from rooftops threatening anyone who indicates dissent.  Having won over the biggest “Modi’s populism & authoritarian politics in this space takes a beating as they challenge the basic tenets of democratic India which upholds and celebrates the values, diversity, dissent and dreams way beyond World Bank Development Reports.  Sadly, the Modi message is a synthetic imagination that demands new answers.”  At the end of the day, the bottomline will deal with how India re-builds the imagination of democracy beyond the fire-spewing Modi or Rip Van Winkle opposition.

The battle lines are clearly drawn.  The action has begun.  Kaun banega hero or kaun banega zero in this thrilling political super-star-driven blockbuster remains to be seen, but one thing is certain:  It will zoom past the Rs. 250 crore mark in a flash!


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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017