Friday, April 29, 2011

Thassu Saheb thinking out loud, 1947

Cross-posted at my other Blog.
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From  Baburao Patel's Q/A section in FilmIndia, August 1947 issue. ( via a collection shared with me by Memsaab Greta)

Lot of thinking going on there (what's that thing about J.P ji ) but I am amazed by question posed by O.N. Thassu of Srinagar, whose progenies probably now live in Bombay and would probably readily buy the answer from Baburao Patel of Bombay (we know who else bought that answer only a year later endorsing it in a Court trail about a murder). Baburao Patel was known not only for his biting wit  but 'let's bite some, any heads' attitude towards what he considered blackheads on Bhart Mata's beautiful face. He voiced opinions what would probably now be considered concerns of pragmatic-Hindu-middle-class. And he often did it in a very pragmatic Indian way, this particular (and many around that that) issue was in fact full of eulogies in praise of Gandhi. A pragmatic: He had Muslim friends, a fairly large readership (at least in the beginning) consisting of Muslims, naturally he was an expert at defining difference between 'good nationalist Muslim' and 'bad Muslim', he was a good Hindu, naturally he knew a thing or two about similarity between 'good nationalist Hindu' and 'good Hindu', he liked-dis-liked Nehru, liked-dis-liked Gandhi, liked, thought highly of Sardar Patel, liked Bose (as he believed 'dead don't disappoint'). One could say that naturally qualifies him for the modern 'thinking Hindu' type of our mundane times. But to his credit he was also open to criticism, and would often allow this criticism on his own platform. That certainly is not a modern trait. Still, it does not surprise that he was one of the first journalists to join politics and get elected to Lok Sabha on a ticket from Bhartiya Jan Sangh, the old avatar of 'Bhartiya Janata Party' - the platform, in its best form, advertised as a place for sensible Hindus with a burning love for the burning country.
Knowing Kashmiri attitude towards written word, and knowing the writings of Baburao, it should not surprise anyone that in early 50s, maybe to the much annoyance of Thassu Saheb, FilmIndia was banned in Kashmir. And it should not equally surprise anyone that the he actually thought of Kashmirs as lazy buggers, back-stabbers and that India would be lot better without Kashmir, and that his 'Indian Muslim Brother' would have (pose?) no problem. Now where have we heard that pragmatic solution and views before in recent times.

Time a quite a thing.

From being the pioneer of film journalism, by 1970s Baburao Patel, his FilmIndia run-over by Filmfare, was running a publication called 'Mother India' (a copy of which I have managed to get my hands on) and in it selling slogans like 'Hindus of the world arise', 'Stop it mod-women'  and in between these slogans he was selling all kind of ayurvedic churans for every known human disease.

All said and done, I would not have been surprised if on any other day, in any other situation, to any other question, Baburao Patel would have simply told Thassu Saheb of Srinagar, 'My friend, it is well-known advise, never take the advise of a man who at the end of the day is selling you a magic Churan of his own make.'

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