Sunday, August 9, 2015

Salman ko Salaam ! Review of Bajrangi Bhaijaan

By Aseem Shrivastava

Today is August 9, 2015. Exactly seven decades have passed since Washington committed perhaps the greatest war crime in the history of man by testing a plutonium bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, close on the heels (just three days) after testing a uranium weapon on Hiroshima’s innocents. I say “testing” because such weapons were new to our species and it was yet to be known precisely what their destructive potential was. These two tests in real time helped zero in on the right numbers (for that time. The remarkable thing is that we still do not know exactly how many - obviously non-White - innocents were butchered in this dual savagery. Estimates vary between 130,000 and 250,000). 

Equally importantly, “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”, as the twin bombs affectionately came to be referred to by the Allied military establishment, also enabled the Untidy State of America to supersede the rising Soviet Union and define the contours of the remainder of the century (by controlling the terms of the Cold War and its hundreds of hot proxies in the “Third” World), if not also the distant outlines of the century we now live in. 

I remember that many years ago, after India and Pakistan had conducted their nuclear tests, some words of war criminal Henry Kissinger had leaked in the media and he was caught saying that the only two countries on earth which are “nuclear neighbours” are India and Pakistan and they offer the (obviously for Kissinger, salacious) possibility of what an actual nuclear “exchange” between such powers would look like in reality (as opposed to the war-games which provide only conjectural data to military planners and strategists).  

Warmongers and leaders on both sides of this foolish, metallic, electrically charged border have done everything possible in the last 17 years to bring everyone living in this part of the world rapidly closer to the day of nuclear reckoning. I remember a cartoon from around 1998 in which India and Pakistan go to (yet another) war. Islamabad launches a nuclear-tipped missile at New Delhi. It falls short and lands in Lahore itself, decimating the ‘city with a soul’ instantaneously. New Delhi retaliates by taking aim at Islamabad but instead finds Amritsar’s Golden Temple in the way. In their enthusiastic ghost sonata, in the spirit of Stanley Kubrick’s brilliantly funny Dr. Strangelove, leaders on both sides declare victory!

“Jai Bajrang Bali ki!”

It is with this background, supplemented by the latest refinements of absurdity on both sides of the border, that the film Bajrangi Bhaijaan is to be viewed...