“Wow, never thought a film on Gandhi could be so interesting. Munna and Circuit should get awards for their performance. Excellent movie…” These are the praises that the movie Lage Raho Munabhai, starring Sanjay Dutt as Munna and Arshad Warsi as Circuit, has garnered.
It is the story of a lovable goon Munna and how his encounter with Mahatma Gandhi changes him into a non-violent, truth loving individual who promises to cure all violence with ‘Gandhigiri.’
Everyone loved the film. And the phenomenal success of Lage Raho... had me thinking: Can we not make this movie and many others like it, a part of our curriculum in schools and colleges? The more I thought of it, the more the idea appealed to me. Why not, I reasoned.
Lage Raho has managed to do what years of boring history lessons could not — give Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi his due. The teachings of Mahatma Gandhi were all but lost in the 21st century.
And I am not talking about students only. I came out of the theatre with a smile and the thought “Gandhiji mein dum tha”. Indeed, Lage Raho has revived Gandhigiri — which include the principals of truth and non-violence — and made them immensely popular, both with the young and the old.
If Sanjay Dutt can teach us the values of truth better than our teachers and parents, so be it. The NCERT, school boards and all educationalists better pay attention. Students are willing to listen to virtues being propagated in a novel and interesting manner.
And a new breed of young and courageous directors in Bollywood are willing to give us memorable films that make these age old virtues fashionable. The biggest hit of last year — Rang De Basanti — was also about a message. It talked of standing up to one’s right and fighting injustice.
Heavy issues shown in a modern, relevant manner. The protagonists of Rang De Basanti inspired the youth of India and fired their imagination. Protests became the norm and a normally complacent janta suddenly wanted to make a difference.
The story of a deaf and dumb boy making it to the Indian cricket team filled millions of hearts with hope and inspiration. Nagesh Kukunoor’s Iqbal was the story of every young Indian who wanted to succeed in life.
Iqbal told us that success comes after perseverance, hard work and a lot of patience and we willingly heard. Sanjay Leela Bansali’s Black was the struggle of one blind girl and her teacher.
The audience struggled with her, willing her to learn her alphabets and cheered when she finally passed her exams in college. But the most important factor was that Black was about respecting the disabled.
The audience cried with Rani and came out of the theatre with a different kind of understanding for the visually challenged. A few years back IIM Indore decided to include Lagaan as a teaching aid in its module on leadership. So why can’t we do the same in schools?
These movies have made redundant concepts fashionable. Truth, politeness, hard work and sensitivity towards the differently able are values we drill into children, hoping they will make them a part of their character. When Bollywood is extending all help with dynamic movies that will catch their attention like nothing else, we must grab the opportunity.
Lage Raho might just be a feel-good film for adults, but to young impressionable minds, it will definitely mean a lot. The humour and simplicity with which Ganhigiri is practiced by the protagonist will touch the heart of every child.
And the next time you teach them Satyagraha and talk of a frail Indian who was the key to winning India’s independence, students will listen with a new kind of respect and interest.