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The divide

The divide
Bollywood, which has often been critiqued for failing to provide issue-centric stories, has been categorised into two genres for long-commercial cinema and parallel cinema. These categorisations may have given way to multiple ‘Rs 100 crore’ movies and being critic’s favourite. However, the challenge will be to find a balance between these two and still keeping the viewers entertained. 

Almost five decades after its release, Deewar (1975) may still be known of its ‘angry young man’ character along with its iconic dialogues. Although after various researches, observations and interactions on the issue of social divide, it has been realised how the film’s sequences, the characters of the ‘Verma’ family along with roles of Gangu and Chander – still exist, predominantly in the greatly divided National Capital Region, as well as our country on the whole. 

Anand Verma, a character, who has foregone his ideals in compulsion and become an escapist for life. A self confident Vijay Verma, who realises that injustice in the world can only be overcome by being in power. Ravi Verma, who not wanting to forego his ideals, still wants to try again. Sumitra Devi, a caring mother and a doting wife, stands erect as a beacon of hope in the days of poverty. 

Survivors, Gangu and Chander, who by their ill-fate, lose the race earlier than expected. Amidst all this, there also exists Davar and a cruel Samant, willing to exploit in order to gain personal benefits. Such were the characters penned down by writer duo Salim-Javed in their creative entirety amongst many others. 

The renaming of Gurgaon to Gurugram may have gathered multiple headline slots, opinion pieces and debates, mainly because of the city’s assets (jobs, real estate) and how it affects its people. Not only does the city provide the highest revenue to Haryana, one of the richest states in the country, it also possesses the office of 250 Fortune’s more valuable companies along with world class residential apartments and spacious societies. Gurugram is regarded by many as a metaphor to a rising middle-class India. DLF Cyber City can be described as being one of the best thing that Gurugram has to offer accompanied by many others. Visible from the DLF building’s terrace, Cyber City, that is neighboured by Nathupur slum area,  is believed to be an illegal encroachment. The area has also witnessed a violent tiff between the slum dwellers and HUDA authorities, in the past.

Residents of the Nathupur slum, still express their fear of being removed from the area. “We know our fate. We will be asked to leave the place in the name of development or building of roads. For development to happen in its true sense, we must be considered”, said a resident. The level of insecurity and hard conditions, faced by Nathupur slum dwellers can also be experienced in other parts of the ‘prosperous’ Gurugram. Villages such as Chakkarpur and Sikanderpur are examples of some of the first villages to have made a fortune by selling their land to real-estate giants in the name of development. The original owners of these land earn their revenue from the rents. Similar models have been adopted in other villages of Gurugram as well. Most of the tenants are labourers and blue collar workers, flowing in from neighbouring states, in order to make their living out of the economic opportunities which the city offers. Many are forced to live without their families because of space crunch in the ‘one-room-apartment’, failing to serve the promised accommodation. 

The fancy Golf Course Road in New Delhi, which is currently witnessing a construction boom, will soon see an extended rapid metro running till Sector 56 along with it being converted into a 16-lane freeway. Every morning about 500 contractual labourers assemble at the T point of the Golf Course road, the Gurgaon-Faridabad road and the Bristol Chowk, waiting to be employed for a day and earn their daily wage (dehadi) starting from Rs 250 to Rs 600 based on their respective skill level.  

“For the sake of my child’s education, my ailing mother’s treatment and looking after myself post retirement, the money in the village is just not enough”, said Gopalganj Bihar, when asked about not settling in the village despite having his own farmland. 

What is witnessed in the posh areas of Gurugram also extends to the rich city of Delhi. Twenty-two per cent of the city slums do not have access to toilets and still defecate in the open. The winter season comes in as a demon to the 16,000 people left homeless.  

 India may have superseded China in its GDP growth but the grim picture still remains on the notion of a country receiving about one million labour force every year. In 2015, the country had only 1.35 lakh vacancies, along with lopsided demand of reservations from dominant castes in Haryana, Gujarat and Rajasthan. The experts highlight economic and social pain of the lower strata of our society, which is often ignored. 

Harsh Mander, social scientist and author of the book Looking away : Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India says, “Not only is there growing inequality because of neo-liberal market-led growth policies, as well as a growing divide based on religious identity and caste. But what is even more saddening is that there’s a lack of empathy and outrage among people of privilege for those who suffer from want and injustice around us. It is unfortunate but even in modern-day India, the accident of one’s birth still determines the other’s life chances. Education, in the long run will usher them to a life of stability and security, a life some don’t know exists. This is the ultimate idea of caste. On the lack of empathy Mander says this reflects in public policies with the advent of low public investments, even in the basic of rights such as education, healthcare, water and sanitation for the poor and the unprivileged”. Professor Anuradha M Chenoy, JNU, highlights that the ancient gap between the rich and the poor is still widening. At one time, aspiration, dreams and skills of a particular section of our society were neglected on the whole, leading to an obvious backlash.

Even from a distance, the reel characters in Deewar find semblance in real life. For every maid who starts her day at 5 am and works in 10 houses daily,  there is a reflection of Sumitra Devi. For a poor man at Hanuman Mandir who has completely destroyed his body and mind peace, is Anand Verma. For a security guard who wishes to work double shifts in order to educate his child but still dreams about making it big in the industry, is Ravi Verma. There is Vijay Verma whose crushed dreams and anger often make him a scapegoat. For every child or two at a traffic signal, entertaining for a few bucks, there are Chander and Gangu. Such people who are seen, felt for and then forgotten instantly. 

The real Deewar been played out in the real world, should not be made for the sole purpose of making it big at the box office. As one witnesses a regularly ignored and serious aspect of our society, one wants to end with a positive verse from celebrated composer duo-Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s – Humari Mutthi Mein Aakash Saara from the movie Prahaar (1991). 

Irrespective of the difficulties and the shortages, the power of hope, self belief and karma must always be trusted upon.

Piyush Ohrie

Piyush Ohrie

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