Friday, July 14, 2017

A Periyarist's take on communism

There's a famous scene from the 1995 Tamil film, Villathi Villain, involving Goundamani and Sathyaraj:

The scene opens with Sathyaraj working out in a gym. When Goundamani sweats in front of him, he asks, why do you sweat, if I exercise? The latter puts forth a series of rhetorical questions to him:
  • If the priest rings the bell, don't the women get possessed?
  • If poor farmers plough the land, don't the landlords get fatter bellies?
  • If labourers toil in the factory, don't the capitalists roam around in Benz cars?
  • If people vote for somebody in the elections, don't the beneficiaries (politicians) accumulate wealth?

Meanwhile, '[H]Alwa' Vasu, a sidekick, interrupts and asks him, 'Er, communism?' Goundamani retorts, yeah, this is what some people convey through 'play of puns', while some fly all the way to Delhi and blabber all this as 'Democratic socialism', and film stars lipsync to songs that praise all this in their films. He points out that the obvious similarity about all these men is that none of them are poor!

Out of nowhere, a silambam practising guy turns up. Goundamani, who stands beside him, tells him to practise (i. e., rotate the shaft) carefully so that the stick doesn't hit his eyes. While Goundamani and Sathyaraj continue their conversation, the guy turns up again only to hit the bull's (Goundamani's) eye. When Goundamani asks him, "why the heck did you hit my eyes man?", he says, "if one wants to learn something, obstacles shouldn't matter". An even more irritating Goundamani fumes, "hey, but that's intended only for the learners, why should the bystanders suffer?" THIS is where the joke ends. Now, when we look at the scene from a screenwriting POV, it does a 'full circle' and comes back to Goundamani. Simply put, the silambam practising guy and Goundamani are metaphors for capitalism and communism, respectively.

Sathyaraj, a self-proclaimed Periyarist, has won praise for his histrionic skills by playing a wide range of characters  - as a villain, a comedian, a hero, et al. He scored as a writer, too, in what happened to be his directorial debut. This scene is a testament to it!

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