Nautanki – Drama in Politics

Nautanki – this is how we associate politics. Nautanki meaning Folk Theatres. Names and words encapsulates thoughts. Like Gandhi or Hitler are not only significant names, they are storehouse of thoughts. So when we associate Nautanki with Politics, we show our regard, rather disregard, for politics or Nautanki or both.

We look down upon Nautanki and have scant regard for politics. Yet, both are charismatic. Try any reason, still you cannot take away the glamour out of these two professions. You can deride it, you can ignore it but you cannot be unaffected by it. It is a part of your life like washing your face in the morning.

One feels, Nautanki (Folk Theatre) has faded away. Actually Nautanki has married Politics. Both are compatible partners. Both crave live audience. Together they reap good rewards. Significant achievements in Politics can be attributed to this alliance. The powers of Nautanki and Politics have merged into a formidable force.

Attributes of Nautanki are found in Politics. Spontaneity is number one. The art of contending in many tongues and many situations is an attribute of Nautanki. Nautanki teaches politics to script and enact well. It also brings into politics an art of elliptical path. Only a fool confesses he wants to be a Prime Minister. Nautanki Politicians know how to drop hints and pick-up gains. Politics needs self-advertisement. Theatre provides the ingredients.

Speech is Nautanki’s best gift to politics. Demosthenes, the Greek Orator, infused Politics into Greek population by swaying the crowd with his speech. Shakespeare’s words – “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” is a legend. It’s an example of the use of theater which changes the course of politics.

Hitler’s speech and nautanki are well known. Though we are taught to hate him, in his time, he was an adulated actor. His Nautanki was his body language, his demeanor, his mustaches. He swayed politics, conquered all of Europe (well almost) with a show-manship unparalleled in history. Hitler was not an idiot. Under his grand display lay hidden a futuristic man who innovated missiles and jet engines. Had the Allied delayed attack, we would be flying Luftwaffe today.

Gandhi was a Nautanki-Baaz (Master of Theatre). He humbled Great Britain by sipping water, making salt and burning “Peter-England” shirts. He rabble-roused and created ruckus which was enough drama to fill the English News-reels with his cause. Gandhi realised that One man with courage makes a corpse. His Nautanki created a following of a Mob. Gandhi’s Drama sent signals to the British that only an Independent Indian will wear “Peter-England” shirts. Thus he shifted the motivation. The British were compelled to see more business sense in an Independent India.

One extreme we have a Shrieking demagogue (Hitler) and the other end we have a man (Gandhi) who spoke without raising his voice. Both actors. Both effective. They are extreme examples on how stagecraft can be used for statecraft. To their adversaries, what they did was drama. To their followers, they were heroes.

So, next time when you see Rahul Gandhi sneaking into a village to project an atrocity or Mamata Baneerjee displaying her antics, you know what they are doing. They are “Playing” Politics. They are highlighting a cause with a show of exaggeration and make belief. It the nature of the game – Take it or leave it.


Movies – Black & White

We don’t see much of Black and White Movies these days. And even if we come across any, while channel surfing, we tend to fast forward the remote. Our actions mirror our racing inner wheel. Acceleration is thrill, no-doubt, but one needs pause to admire.

Likes and dislikes are subjective. Everyone has their list. I have come across few movies from the Black & White era which I love to mention. They are all simple stories simply told. The movies listed below are akin to an enjoyable sip and there taste lingers. 

It’s a wonderful life (1946, James Stewart, Donna Reed)

This is a “What If” movie. What If, you never existed? A life touches so many other lives. The movie derives its motivation from the suicide ridden great Depression of 1930’s and 1940’s.

James Stewart is a self-abnegating husband with children who is always on the Help-Mode. He runs a bank which gives cheap Home loans to the poor. His generosity provokes other Loan-Sharks into destroying his business. Some Sabotage and further helped by a collapsing economy is a last straw which kills his bank. Bankrupt and bereft, James Stewart proceeds to the river to drown himself. 

There he meets an Angel. How this Angel brings a turn around in James’s life is the beauty of this movie.

It’s noteworthy how Hollywood compares with Bollywood of that period. In our dark hours we had Dilip Kumar stricken with melancholia. Raj Kapoor impersonating Chaplin also did not fare any better. Our comic characters where only side shows. In the main plot we loved to wallow in self-pity. While we celebrated pessimism after Independence, Hollywood, with depression and World War, made optimistic movies with Laurel and Hardy, Chaplin etc. which held out a promise of a Wonderful Life.

The Apartment (1960, Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine)

If you are single and you have an apartment you better have plans to use it yourself. Or else, others will have “ideas” with your apartment. You know what I mean.

Jack Lemmon is single and solitary. He has an apartment but he can’t go to bed “in order to sleep”. His apartment serves as “sleep haven” for his bosses and their dates. While his bosses spend their amorous evenings depressing his cozy bed, Jack’s career progresses as he sleeps on the Park bench.

Jack finally puts a stop when he discovers that his love Shirley Maclaine was taken in by his highest Boss on his own bed.

Jack Lemmon’s acting is effervescent. Check out this Legend of an actor.

Sunset Boulevard (1950, William Holden and Gloria Swanson)

The central character is Gloria Swanson. She was the Superstar of the Silent Movies. In this movie she speaks. Her character typifies a Prima-Donna stuck in her past era. She gloats about her glorious silent era with her young catch William Holden. The movie also stars the legendry director Cecil B DeMille.

The Older you get the more you like to act young. Celebrities, who had seen “hay-days”, want one last gulp of youth just for the road. The movie brings out those characteristics and antics with some fatal consequences.   

Citizen Kane   (1941, Orson Welles)

This movie starts like a documentary. This made me “shelve” this movie several times before I finally made myself to see it. I am still enthralled.

Released in 1941 and probably conceived before that, this movie is the “Baap (father) of all Movies“. It has a flow which will put any modern movies shame. With the Film technology of 1940’s, Orson Welles produced and directed a movie which is truly an example for all times. We normally associate Black & White movies of the 40’s with stationary camera, dim lightings with someone playing cross-nuts on the screen. Not this one.

You would like to see this movie if you appreciate cinema. It embeds in you a yardstick.


I have to recount few historical events. It’s worth noting. It gives perspective to recent events. A nation is not the ruling government. It’s the personality of its People and their idea of nationhood.

On 27th June 1976, Air France Flight 139 started from Tel Aviv to Athens and finally Paris. When the aircraft took off from Athens, Palestinian Hijackers forced the flight to Entebbe, Uganda in East Africa.

The President of Uganda was Idi Amin Dada. This “Butcher of Uganda” had launched a “Jihad” against the Infidel West and had his own ideas to save the world. He and other rouge powers began negotiations with Israel. Israel was complying or so it seemed. But Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister had other ideas.

On 04th July 1976, a week after the hijack, 4 Aircrafts originated from Israel and flew at 100 feet (Yes One Hundred feet) avoiding detection from several Middle East and African countries and reached Entebbe, Uganda. Two C-130’s with Israeli Defence Forces landed on Entebbe Airport and rescued the hostages.

The book “90 minutes at Entebbe” recounts this heroic mission. There is also a movie. Check it out. It’s not an individual tall story. It’s an incident which shows how a nation thinks and acts at times such as these.

Now, 1972 Munich Olympics and 11 Israeli Athletes butchered. Golda Meir, the Israeli Prime Minister authorised Mossad to “List and Kill” all who were responsible. This operation continued secretly for 20 years. During this period the perpetrators started getting killed in various countries under mysterious circumstances. They were Car-Bombed, shot in the elevators, apartments. One of the terrorists was killed while breakfasting. Mossad Agents had replaced his table-top with a look-alike made of explosives.

Finally, “The Six Day War”! Israel against Egypt, Jordan and Syria fought a war from June 5 to 10, 1967. President of Egypt, Abdel Nasser, declared: “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel”. Well, within first few hours of the outbreak of this war, Israel attacked Egyptian Air force base at El Arish. Almost 400 Fighters which stood exposed on the tarmac were destroyed. After this, the outcome of the war was a forgone conclusion.

Power always cross their Zone of Influence. Good Power or Bad. But when bad powers infringe us, all we do is compensate – One Lakh to those killed and Half of that to the injured.