Tuesday, August 16, 2005


The concept of freedom has varied interpretations.

I watched the long-awaited Aamir Khan starrer ‘Mangal Pandey’, fittingly, on India’s 58th Independence Day. There’s something to be said about the concept of freedom. And patriotism. How it awakens the hardworking-but-publicly insensitive citizen and apathetic resident alike. How the sacrifice of a life for the sake of an ideology can make you feel that you just have to get out of your seat and do something more meaningful with your own life. How you feel intense hatred for politicians today who have made these sacrifices seem nearly meaningless, because 90 years on they play with the freedom of others nonchalantly.

I kept drawing parallels between ‘Braveheart’ and this movie as I was watching it. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I watched ‘Braveheart’ for the second time around very recently, and Mel Gibson as the Scotsman, William Wallace had a lot in common with Aamir Khan as the Indian, Mangal Pandey. Both fought for freedom. From tyranny, from oppression. For a chance to let the people rule. Both took years to achieve their objectives – objectives which were realized years after their deaths but which were ignited BY their deaths.

‘You may take our lives, but you can never take our freedom’.

58 years on, India has achieved a lot. But no matter how much I try to appreciate that fact, the Aruna Roys, the Baba Amte’s, the thousands of uncelebrated individuals who struggle relentlessly for the sake of the oppressed, I keep coming back to the fact that everyday you have reports of corruption, of bribery, of assault, murder, every single day in modern India – a lot of it that can be contained if only people did not abuse the power vested with them. And that is a murder as well. A murder of faith. They play with people’s freedom. And their lives.

And when the government and the legal system prolong this murder of freedom, they are partners in crime.

And that is not worth forgiving.

Don’t talk about freedom if you can’t uphold it, dammit. That’s why I feel tears rolling slowly down my cheeks when I see these kind of sacrifices. Even in Bollywood movies. And I refuse to feel ashamed.

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