All of last week, social media giggled and rippled faintly about the NaMo youth anthem. Some newspapers published wide-eyed reports on the fan who had made and posted this video. A news channel ran a story online coyly titled ‘Narendra Modi have you seen this?’ As if.
People said the song has gone viral. Well, there’s viral and there’s viral. In five days the video had 100,000 plus hits, or a little over a lakh. Compare this to the viralisation of Kolaveri Di -- three-and-a -half-lakh hits within a week, and there’s some catch up to do, proving that your odd poetry can go viral but stuff about love possibly works better than stuff about fascists. Jai Ho.
I listened to the song somewhere between giggling and gagging. It was a little too appalling to even be put in the so-bad-it’s-good category, though it borderlined. But on the whole I could not help but feel a little bad for Narendra Modi.
I mean think of Hitler, often idol of fascist folks in India. In his time, he had the likes of Leni Reifenstahl make Nazi propaganda films.
Reifenstahl, a diva, a photographer, actress and film director, became famous with a film she made chronicling the Nuremberg Rally of 1934, which Hitler titled Triumph of the Will. The film went on to win much international recognition and is generally considered one of the most significant documentaries made, owing to its very impactful aesthetic and frequently leads to a discussion of how tremendous craft can be employed in the service of great evil.
Meanwhil NaMo has come up with slim pickings in this regard -- first he gets Mallika Sherawat trying to channel Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday to Narinder (sic) Modi spectacularly off-key and sadly laughable.
And now the youth anthem. ‘Who’s gonna mar em? (NaMoNaMo)! Who’s gonna scar ‘em?’ To be fair, perhaps the song does realise how unbearable it is because it also asks the question, “Who’s gonna bear us? (NaMoNaM)!” Good then, because it ain’t me babe.
Is this what it means to be a country of young people? If so, frankly we’ve got worse problems than Narendra Modi becoming NaMoPMGo (as per the song). What does it say about someone if the art they inspire is so uninspired? It’s something to think about surely. Art is a fundamental cornerstone of human understanding. It is necessary to human life as way of expressing our aspirations, as well as what we sense but have not yet articulated. People may dismiss aesthetic as a surface quality -- but in fact the way something is said or made says more about its intention and quality than the content.
So is this the sense Modi’s fans have of him, is this the aesthetic he calls up? Nonsense lyrics (Cogent Man Moment Man Exponent Man -- what does this mean?
This liberetto as the ‘fan’ Krishna Sugavanam calls it, should come with a kunji, yaar.
And while he’s doing that he could also explain who the “them” that Modi, of the physicality and genialty, is going to mar and scar), cut paste video (in this media age), and music that one commentator said is going to make it his new workout song.
If this song is a vision of the future then it is one in which we will hold ourselves up to no excellence, only a kaam chalau, depressing degradedness. The consistently poor aesthetics Modi indicates an absence of vision, a lack of larger ideas, a philosophical basis for difference that should concern his fans when they’re done rhyming shyming.
Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at www.parodevi.com.
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.
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