Monday, September 12, 2005

HAMARI HEE MUTTHI MEIN AKASH SARA...

I encountered yet another instance of a song that was deeply embedded in my psyche but then got lost somewhere during the march of time. I was wading through random blogs and came across this blog, where the author has described a time when she was returning home in a busy and typically cramped Mumbai local train. The train stopped for a few moments near a station, and her attention was diverted to a hutment where a family among the millions of exceptionally poor families in Mumai resided. The notes of a song wafted out through the hut...it was Humaree hee mutthi mein akash sara from the movie Prahaar. The song got the author to think about the condition of the hut dwellers, its inspiring lyrics, and whether it is inspiration or irony that the song existed in such a place at such a time, for such impoverished beings. Later on, she wondered whether, for the people in the hut, the stars and the heavens were really within their reach, or whether it was just an ironic quirk of fate that it was singing false hopes for them.

As far as I was concerned, it immediately took me back to my school days many years back, when we had sung and played this song for the annual social. It is a simple and very inspiring song, that tells us to blaze our own paths, to forge our own destiny, to keep going inspite of all odds, and to wade on alone if nobody else comes with us. A sample:

"Hamare piche koi aae na aae,
hame hee to pahale pahuchna waha hai,
jin par he chalana naee pidhiyo ko,
unhi rasto ko banana hame hai.
Jo bhi saath aaye, unhe saath lele,
agar na koi saath de to akele.
Sulga ke khudko mitade andhera,
disha jisse pehechaan sansaar saraa..."


The lyrics, the haunting voice of Manna De, and most importantly the movie Prahaar, made sure that this song will always live in my memory. Listen to the song on Musicindiaonline here.

Prahaar was a very good movie. It talks about an army officer who resists a group of threatening goons in his locality, finally fighting them and giving up his life for his principles. This army officer was a top commando who had lost his legs in a raid to rescue children who were kidnapped by terrorists. His commanding superior officer (Nana Patekar) is a man of principles, who is aghast on learning about his death, and tries to bring it to the attention of the police and press so that they can do something about it. He also tries to appeal to the dead man's neighbours to appear as witnesses in court, because they had actually seen him getting killed. But all his efforts are in vain. Finally, because of the complacency, the corruption and the hypocrisy, the selfishness, and the sheer indifference to human life that he witnesses, he goes into a frenzy and kills all the goons singlehandedly. The movie was quite riveting, and it was vintage Nana Patekar stuff, with his role and the story appearing to be custom-made for him.

In the ensuing years, Prahaar's message became somewhat cliche, but the tag line still rings very true, and the question it raised still is a profound one- while it is easy to fight an enemy in war because his identity is a definite one, what does one do about 'internal' enemies, citizens of his own country who are bent on abusing their previleges and destroying their nation? In the first place, it can be difficult to identify them. But most importantly (and this is a point not belaboured in the movie), many of them are not actually breaking any law, but are weakening the integrity of their nation through sheer complacence and indifference, and their flaunting of the rights which their government has conferred upon them. They are as much of culprits as armed goons who destroy the peace. What does one do about them? There is no infrastructure erected to 'bring them to justice'...In this age of terrorism without borders, this question is among the cardinal ones that we face, and while the answer is not simple at all, I think it has to do a lot with one phrase- international cooperation.

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