Sunday, May 18, 2014

The great Indian rock opera


Not content with outsized newpaper headlines and celebrations in the streets, the Indian public apparently now wants to know what's going to happen next! Patience was never our virtue, was it!!

I can tell you with complete confidence that I don't know what's going to happen next, and nor do you. We have a new government and its job is to govern. Some opinionated individuals are completely certain that it's going to be a huge success, others are equally certain it's going to be a gigantic failure. Again, I can tell you with complete confidence (where do I get all that stuff from?) that it's going to be somewhere in between.

India is very much a nation of conflicting demands. For many decisions the government has to make, there will be some group that benefits and is pleased, and another that loses out, and is unhappy. There is, however, one kind of person who's in for a severe disappointment. From the tone of some of the blogs/emails/tweets going around these days, a number of people believe our new PM is going to solve their personal problems ("Dear Modi-ji, my neighbours are renovating their flat and the drilling noise keeps me awake on Sunday afternoons, so could you please...."). These people are not likely to get their wish. For obvious reasons the following lines from a wonderful rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, have been rattling around in my head:

Christ you know I love you
Did you see I waved?
I believe in you and God
So tell me that I'm saved

Jesus, I am with you
Touch me, touch me Jesus
Jesus, I am on your side
Kiss me, kiss me Jesus


It may not please Mr M to be so closely identified with a leading figure of a different religion, but the feeling is certainly in the air. And the analogy actually gets more interesting. The above song continues with the apostle Simon the Zealot persuading Jesus to incite the masses against the Romans:

What more do you need to convince you
That you have made it and you're easily as strong
As the filth from Rome who raped our country
And who've terrorized our people for so long?


There are all too many candidates for the role of Simon in today's India! My own favourite choice would naturally be journalist Tavleen Singh. How surprising that she didn't dig up these lyrics when there was still time to fling them at the family she hates so much - especially given some uncanny resonances...

What seems most unlikely though, is that Mr M will respond the way Jesus (in the rock opera) did to Simon:

Neither you Simon, nor the fifty thousand
Nor the Romans, nor the Jews
Nor Judas, nor the twelve
Nor the priests, nor the scribes
Nor doomed Jerusalem itself
Understand what power is
Understand what glory is
Understand at all


No, if there's a person of Jesus-like modesty in our government then he is presently vacating an office, not moving into one.

3 comments:

ahannaasmi said...

I thinking seeking an end to the power of the Gandhi family in the Congress is a rather worthy goal to have at this point. I would bet that if the party was not being led by Rahul Gandhi, and if they had let the outgoing man with "Jesus like modesty" do his own stuff and then proceeded to contest the elections in his name (as they did in 2009), they would have fared much better. If India has to have a relevant opposition, this fiefdom model of the Gandhi family where a person with no administrative experience is considered a better candidate for the PM's post than all the assorted former CMs, economists and technocrats in the party has to go.

Gautam Menon said...

Another line from Jesus Christ Superstar might also be relevant - I'm going from memory here, though:

"We are occupied,
Have you forgotten how put-down we are ... "

Sunil Mukhi said...

Yes this opera just keeps on giving out gems, doesn't it! The song you quoted (correctly) also has:
"You have set them all on fire,
They think they've found a new messiah,
And they'll hurt you when they find they're wrong..."