Rahul Bose on Bollywood Bole Toh: The pointlessness of pursuing power
My friends have been agog about the new season of Game Of Thrones, a series that leaves me cold
Why do we pursue power and revel in watching power struggles on television?
My friends have been agog about the new season of Game Of Thrones, a series that leaves me cold. Then I remembered how boring, and at times revolting, I find House Of Cards and after analysing my reaction to the two series, I realised what it is that deeply puts me off these two beautifully produced, excellently acted, well-written series — they both focus on the pursuit of power. I don't know what fascination people have for power, but at best, it bores me, at worst, repulses me.
The definition of power is pretty simple: the ability to make people do what you tell them to, whether they like it or not. I cannot think of a more debased, shallow impulse to live. Why on earth would you want people to obey your command against their will? How does that make the world a happier place? If everyone agrees the definition of progress is how we, as a planet, evolve to a more peaceful, compassionate, emotionally rewarding place, then power only destroys this quest.
Lest you think I'm getting all touchy-feely and warm-fuzzy about the world being one big family, let me ask you directly: what kind of a world do you want for yourself and your family? Surely a world where they feel safe at all times? That's what peace brings to a society. Would you not want people to stand and applaud without any jealousy or resentment when you perform a task admirably? That's what it means to live in an emotionally rewarding world. Where then and what then does power have to do with any of this? Why do we pursue it fanatically and revel in watching power struggles on television? Struggles that take people into negativity, fear, jealousy, intrigue and murder. How does any of this make for a rich experience?
Every year, some publication or the other calls me and asks me to nominate my '10 Most Powerful People in Bollywood' or 'India's Top 50 Powerful People' and I always decline. What does being on these lists mean? Simply that you can have your way in society, others be blessed or damned. But shouldn't society be a place where you work together, where there are no power structures, where the importance of the spot boy making tea on the set and the production designer making a castle out of plaster of Paris is the same? Where both have the right to call up the director and critique the film after it has released? Look, I accept there is invariably a first among equals, even on a film set. But that doesn't mean the rest have to be put under the cosh and made to follow one woman or man's diktat without any discussion, any attempt to forge consensus. Because that is what is happening all around us today in India.
In every field, every sphere, I hear the words: 'To get things done, you have to crack the whip', 'She runs the company like a tyrant, that's the only way to be number one', 'I tell you, we should have a dictatorship in this country, then things will run smoothly.' Sure, things will run smoothly, but at the whim of one woman or man, and let me see what you have to say when that whim is the polar opposite of what you think is right. And how you will react when your child is picked up in the dead of the night and killed because she dared to speak out against some great leader. No, power bores me at best, generally repulses me and makes me ever vigilant when I smell it.
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