Monday, April 22, 2024

A movie for Middle Class who hope to escape the Trap

Every morning it is the same all over the National Capital Region – and probably in many other parts of India – a small army of mostly men, with bucket and rags, are working hard at washing car tyres and then using the same cloth, which by now has the consistency of ultra-fine sandpaper, to rub the body of the same car. Thereby achieving a huge negative effect on tyres and vehicle.

I have never understood this logic. Why is it so important to wash car tyres, especially when the person who is washing the said car tyres, has to buy water at whatever cost the landlord of the tenement where he lives charges him. Often on a “per bucket” rate. And the tyres get as dirty as they were before within a few hundred metres anyways. Note – I have taken a brief survey, none of the people who get their car tyres washed, offer bathing options to the car tyre washer.

In many ways, this is the story of middle-class India, trying to leave its roots behind in their efforts to pole vault into upper class India. Upwardly mobile. It starts with trying to pretend people below them in the totem pole do not exist, except for the tyres being washed, and where it ends, nobody knows, but those are the subtle and not so subtle similar frames in the feel-good movie doing the rounds on the cinema circuit online lately – SHARMAJi NAMKEEN. 

The laundry person invited for a tasting menu. The fruit seller forced to cut a watter-melon before purchase. The darker and shorter servants in houses full of fairer and taller people. The security guards being treated as nothing. The “typical” small shop-owners discussing world prices of gold. The upward bound wears t-whirts with collars. Those getting there wear collar-less t-shirts. And more. This movie is connected to the ground and for a change, so are the actors – hats off especially to Juhi Chawla for doing a solid portrayal of a West Delhi upward bound.

Starring SharmaJi ver 1.0 as Rishi Kapoor, SharmaJi ver 2.0 as Paresh Rawal and Mrs. Manchanda as Juhi Chawla, the movie has been reviewed enough already for the main storyline. But it is the side-stories and scenes and quick glimpses which bring out the Director’s connect with the Great Indian Middle-Class (Urban) Trap (GIMCUT) and its ongoing efforts.

And the efforts of The System to keep pushing the GIMCUT back where they came from.

The Bent Builder who does not deliver the promised apartment until GIMCUT reacts. The Mighty Law Enforcers who collaborate with the System to put the GIMCUT back in their place (men inside the lockup, women on a bench outside the lockup, everybody keep quiet). The kulfi which drips down the mouth of Lady GIMCUT. The bag that is dropped from the upper floor apartment to pick up stores. The long shot of Delhi Metro with snazzy skyscrapers in the background and an empty field used as a garbage dump in the foreground. The South Delhi poppet whose parents with attitude have upgraded to a snazzy apartment in Gurgaon. The cake with HBD as an option. The kitty party in lieu of aspirations by gym going mama-sans. The down-to-earth consultants scattered throughout the movie. The large number of water tanks on common shared roofs. 

The movie in itself is technically brilliant. Almost as crisp and good as something edited in, say, Kerala or Karnataka. There are episodes where Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal come and go multiple times as SharmaJi 1.0 and 2.0 without the viewer being distracted – the Nagin Dance at the Kitty Party on the “smart” television for example at the same time as Rishi Kapoor’s birthday is underway at his home.Juhi Chawla in a role which, after VENTILATOR (Gujarati), brings out her talents as a seriously good actor who can do serious stuff like normal human beings.

But most of all, the way the movie connects with the Great Indian Middle Class (Urban) Trapped people and their constant attempt to upgrade, when it is increasingly becoming clearer that the only way out of the middle class trap in India is to –

  1. Return to rural India.
  2. Emigrate abroad.
  3. Get religion.
  4. Go nuts/cuckoo.

If any reader knows a 5th way to escape the Great Indian Middle Class (Urban) Trap, do let the writer know, please? And do see the movie too. It drops many hints therein.

(Veeresh Malik was a seafarer. And a lot more besides. A decade in facial biometrics, which took him into the world of finance, gaming, preventive defence and money laundering before the subliminal mind management technology blew his brains out. His romance with the media endures since 1994, duly responded by Outlook, among others.)

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