Chicken Soup for the soul from Bollywood

There are movies that make you laugh for 3 hours, temporarily forgetting all your worries. Then there are movies that transport you into a different world giving you an out of the body experience. And then there are those that elevate your whole spirit to a different level. Of the first and second kind, I can think of plenty of Bollywood movies. But of the third kind the ones I can recollect even Ekalavya can count on the fingers of one hand even after gifting away the thumb to his Guru. In this time when people are listing out their top 100 movies of all times, top 75 movies of the decade, top 10 movies of the year etc., I lay before you the 4 Hindi movies that really moved me. In my mind these 4 movies stand far apart from the rest, the only ones that could really evoke strong feelings in me.

Interestingly at a conceptual level, all the four movies have exactly the same theme – ordinary people trying to play the part of much nobler person and in the process undergoing a transformation ascending to live up to the high standards of the person they are trying to emulate. The four movies I am talking about are Guide (1965), Main Azad Hoon (1989), Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006) and Rang De Basanti(2006). The protagonists of all 4 movies are ordinary people. A lovelorn tourist guide, a penniless vagabond, a local ruffian and a group of fun loving youth. Circumstances force them to act out parts mainly for selfish reasons - women and money. The guide becomes a saint and the vagabond a social revolutionary for the want of money. The ruffian becomes a Gandhian and the youth freedom fighters for the want of a lady’s approval. These men set out to take on heroic roles. But they soon discover that instead the roles have take them on. As they are thrown into situations that call for heroes, these pretenders rise to the occasion and stand up to be counted as true heroes: leaders in the true sense of the word, who put society above self. A drought in the village gives the guide an opportunity to become a true saint fasting for 12 days to pray for rains sacrificing his life in the process. The plight of the poor farmers and factory workers converts the vagabond into a true social revolutionary who gives up his life willingly for their cause. The ruffian becomes a true Gandhian who uses Gandhiji's ideals to defeat the ploys of a corrupt builder. The death of a friend, a patriotic pilot transforms the fun loving youth into freedom fighters who lay down their lives for their country in their fight against corruption.

Movies such as these remind us ordinary people that there is more to life than our mundane day to day problems. Maybe one or two movies like that won’t immediately transform us. But definitely the idea is seeded. Who knows? The idea might slowly take root and begin to grow and one day we might blossom as full blown heroes. Till then we can only watch such films, get inspired and pretend to be heroes like the protagonists of the movies. Slowly we might imbibe the qualities of who we are pretending to be and one day when the situation arises, we could also have our day of glory. Till then we can only ‘stand and wait’ as Milton says, concluding his poem ‘On his blindness’.

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