Having missed the theme reveal post as I was late in waking up to the AtoZ challenge, I hope this post would compensate for that.
In almost all Indian languages, a village is called a Gramam or any of its minor variations. Same way the word palli and its minor variations (like in Kannada it is halli) is used to mean a rural area in many parts of India. In spite of India being a multicultural country, there may be marked similarities among different regions of rural India, majority of rural population being associated with agriculture. Of course not the way Bollywood would like us to believe.
Mera Gaon Mera Desh may remind many readers of the eponymous movie. Some of you must have seen this it. Mera Gaon mera desh, literally means: my village, my country. Of course the movie is not an overall representative of our country. Maybe, the title justifies the old saying – ‘India lives in its villages’. But again the movie is also not an overall representative of pan Indian rural life. It is just that the story unfolds at the back drop of a rural India of a particular region.
Inspired by the success of this movie and other movies like Sholay, the 1970s and the 1980s saw a plethora of movies revolving around dacoit leaders and gangs. Dacoits were romanticised and were given local flavours as many regional language movies adopted such themes.
A bunch of artists from my locality too woke up to the clarion call. Their film was widely publicized to be based on the life of people of our locality and it was shot extensively in my native area. I remember this movie because it was the first movie whose shooting I saw. In the final product the movie turned out to be a poor remix of Mera Gaon Mera Desh and Sholay. I was not the only one who wondered, “Hey when did we have such gun totting dacoit gangs in our area”. The movie lasted a day or two in the box office. Ironically the movie was named Alibha Daag, meaning the unerasable mark.
From all those movies in different Indian languages one would have got the impression that Indian rural life was infested with gun totting horse riding dacoits. On the other extreme, Indian villages are not so utopian as portrayed in many of the Indian movies. Then Bollywood and its regional siblings have a way of generalising the occasional and romanticising the mundane.
In this series of articles, I write about various issues related to India. I also write about some places in India I have been closely associated with. The places I have chosen are either villages or very small towns that have retained a kind of rustic charm, like the one about Bellaguntha.
There is a reason why it is said that India lives in its villages. When we say the culture of any region of India, it is basically the culture found in its villages. Cities, after some years, become a hotch-potch of different cultures. More so, if it has a large migrant population. If India has retained its ancient cultural roots in spite of being under alien rule for over a thousand years, a large credit goes to its villages. The invaders, be it the Mughals or the British, confined themselves to the cities they created either at new places or by destroying the old cities along with its cultural symbols.
India is a multicultural country. A bigger and more populous country like China speaks one language and its differences in cultural elements are so muted, as if those differences do not exist. But this is not so in the case of India. Its regional differences are so much distinguishable, one may often wonder if one is visiting the same country.
It is not that it became a multicultural country due to the Mughals or the British. It has been so since ancient times. However, India’s multiculturalism has an eastern flavour. Surprisingly, unlike the Mughals, the British did not try to impose their culture in India with evangelical zeal. They were content with financially looting the country. Of course they left their imprints.
Since then we have seen many elements of western lifestyle making inroads into our lives, even in rural areas. I have no objections to our adopting good western values like honesty, scientific temper and adventurous spirit. But unfortunately, we have restricted our imitation of western elements to superficial things like clothing, food, or the use of the F word in every alternate sentence.
PS : This is the seventh post of my April A to Z challenge 2020. My theme this year is ‘Mera Gaon Mera Desh’ where in I explore various facets of India and also some places and events of India I have been closely associated with.
All posts of the AtoZChallenge can be accessed here.