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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014
AAP: The Godzilla in the room that won't go away
Pathikrit Sen Gupta
New Delhi, May 26, 2014
First Published: 14:01 IST(26/5/2014)
Last Updated: 14:33 IST(26/5/2014)

On the way to the theatre I was still ruminating about the promos – what was Bryan Cranston doing here anyway? Would he, à la Matthew Broderick in Roland Emmerich's rendition, dispense gobs of fish for Godzilla to gobble, only spike them with crystal meth so the kaiju would keel over? Two hours later, I forked up the 3D glasses to an attendant, surrendering with them my pre-movie fantasy of sitting on a dharna outside director Gareth Edwards's home.

For, while the ending is mediocre, Cranston's screen time is fleeting, and Ken Watanabe meanders through the film with a set pained expression on his countenance (I suspect it came from looking up his part in the script), this Godzilla is a very different beast from the 1998 version. The legacy of Ishiro Honda's 60-year-old Gojira has been upheld. Then, a half-torn AAP poster sticking religiously…err, secularly to a paan-and-pee-stained wall at a street corner caught the eye. And the mind began to wander.

Before overrunning the human race, the kaijus (or daikaijus) were much like aam animals (in Emmerich's vision Godzilla was a mutant lizard), keeping their heads down, living life in virtual somnolence – almost no one knew they even existed. But a taste of power (nuclear radiation) awakened and animated them. Suddenly, folklores had become facts – massive, gigantic facts. The bitter truth is the promises offered by myths are rarely realised once they become real. The lure of power can turn even a seraph into a scamp. And the kaijus throw plenty of tantrums whenever they hit a roadblock to quenching their hunger.

The rise of the Aam Aadmi Party, and India Against Corruption (kind of a chrysalis from which Arvind Kejriwal and his motley crew emerged) has been important for India. And, like it or not, AAP was the harbinger of change. Just not the change it was hoping for. Admittedly, its debut in the Delhi assembly elections was spectacular. Grabbing four seats in its first Lok Sabha polls is exceptional too. But, a lot has altered in the interim. The masses have witnessed their 'redeemer' laid bare as an imperfect mortal.

When Godzilla takes on the two MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms, though one of them flies) – let's call them Corruption and Communalism – the creatures lay waste to large parts of San Francisco. Before the end credits roll, the King of the Monsters walks into the sea, hailed as a hero by the extras. However, looking back at their city, would the denizens have felt as relieved – realising that most of them would now have to rebuild their lives?

Though hardly an enviable task, the allure of breaking down an existing system is overwhelming. But a greater challenge is to become a part of that system and strengthen it from the inside. Also, in its attempt to arise as a nationwide factor, AAP spread itself too thin. If not just restrict itself to Delhi, had it pooled its limited manpower and resources at 20-30 Lok Sabha constituencies rather than contesting over 430, the outfit might have become a force to reckon with. Instead, now the party has lost a large chunk of its supporters, and members, because of its history of hysteria and histrionics. The muffler and the off-the-cough statements may be gone, but Arvind Kejriwal is still speaking the same language – defiance, dharna, referendum. In walking the revolutionary road, perhaps, the AAP has hit an evolutionary dead end.

Clearly, neither Godzilla, nor AAP are without flaws. What Edwards and Kejriwal need to appreciate is that you can stick 3D glasses on people's faces and get them to watch your show – with a dash of panache and gimmickry. You can even sell some tickets. And a good performance stays with you longer than its span. But, when people go back to their real world with real problems, they regain their indifference very swiftly. And, the last time I checked, electors didn't wear 3D goggles inside voting booths. So, the directors must realise that they need to get their act together – acquire an improved script, and a superior cast. Because we all deserve a better sequel?


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