No one can alive, and having ever watched a cinema, can claim to be oblivious to the phenomenon of Amitabh Bachchan. People of my generation, who started understanding cinema when Mr. Bachchan was already past his absolute best, are also his great fans. But there is a qualitative difference between the fans of Mr. Bachchan who made him the phenomenon in the seventies and early eighties and people who are just connoisseurs of good cinema of a previous era – the generation in seventies was personally invested in the “Angry Young Man” screen persona of Mr. Bachchan.
In an article in the Crest Edition of Times of India, the circumstances in which the “angry young man” – Vijay – was born is chronicled thus: “the imposition of Emergency, the stifling of dissent, and social policies calculated to arouse the opposition of the poor. However, the malaise that afflicted the country was much deeper: industrial production had slowed down, the labouring classes were in a militant mood, shortages of essential commodities were palpable, and unemployment was rampant. Azadi had wrought little;the dream had soured.” The dream of 1947 was shattered in less than 25 years and Vijay became the vehicle through which the common man expressed his rage, frustration, anger and fury at a system which had betrayed him. Individually, the common man could not go and bash up the corrupt police officer or gun down an entire corrupt cabinet – collectively they outsourced their anger to Vijay and reveled in the revenge Vijay extracted. For the generation of seventies and eighties, Vijay did all that the common man wanted to do personally but circumstances did not give him the opportunity to do so.
Let us look at the circumstances that led the birth of Vijay once again -does it not look like an exact description of the situation as it exists in 2013? The seventies generation outsourced its anger to Vijay – the 2013 generation has Arnab Goswami.
As the Congress led UPA government set about destroying everything within its sight – GDP growth rate plummeting from around 9% to almost 5%, stagnating industrial growth, stagnant agriculture since a decade, halt in infrastructure projects, sky rocketing inflation, bust in housing boom, the muddle in telecom industry – the dream which India had in 2004 had become a nightmare by end 2012. If this was not enough, the gigantic loot in 2G, Coalgate and CWG games added further fuel to the fire. The simmering anger against those in power, who had brought upon this condition, needed and outlet. In came Arnab Goswami. There is now even a name for his style after Abhijit Mukherjee was dented in Times Now studios – the ARNAB MASH UP.
Consider the following assemblage of tweets of journalists. These are not people with no recourse to any medium to shape the narrative. Yet, even for these people, each night, on the topic of the day, from hate mongering Owaisi to buffoonish Asharam Bapu – Arnab becomes the vehicle through which the nation expresses its outrage. Make no mistake about it – much of it is impotent rage, but rage nonetheless. Abhijit Mukherjee has demeaned the women of India, let us see how Arnab treats him ; Owaisi is escaping the clutches of law by complicit Congress government – let Arnab ramp up the outrage and how long can they avoid it ; Congress is planning to do a deal on Siachen – will Arnab allow it ; and so on it goes.
As news came in on 8th January evening that Pakistan had violated the line of control and mutilated two Indian soldiers, the nation again looked up to Arnab and his show – for there was going to be no succor from a deaf and dumb government. And Arnab did not disappoint. When Pakistani guests on the panel talked of bombing Dwarka, Arnab reminded them of 1971 surrender, when a deranged Pakistani Admiral branded the nuclear threat, Arnab reminded him that Pakistani soldiers like him were mostly rats. The nation was happy that at least someone “stood for us”.
What else can we do? Who else will stand for us? A Congress government which gave visa to Dawood Ibrahim’s closest relative? A government which was talking peace with Pakistan within months of 26/11? A government which lathi charged and tear gassed innocent boys and girls on the streets of Delhi who were merely demanding a safer city? A government which played footsie with venom spewing Owaisi? A government which looked the other way as Assam burned? A government which has almost brought India to junk economic status? A government where the whereabouts of the leader of Congress party, at time of any crisis, are national secrets? Do we expect such a government to stand up for us against Pakistan, which reciprocated the hospitality we gave to its cricketers by beheading our solider?
But it is not about the Congress government or Arnab. It is about us. It is about we, who vote for the Congress party and then rage in impotent fury as we are duped each and every day. As long as we vote for Congress party, we will need Arnab Goswami to stand up for us. Just as the nation grew out of needing Vijay when it voted out corrupt governments of seventies and eighties, we too will grow out of needing Arnab Goswami the day we vote out the Congress party. The choice is with us.