Today in the newspaper, I read that Rajkumar Santoshi is planning a film on the play, Jis Lahore Nahin Dekhya, Woh Jamiya Nahin. I've watched this play twice, once in the Jai Narain Vyas Auditorium (popularly known as Town Hall) in Jodhpur and then at IIM Indore. Both the times, I was very much carried away by the theme and the characters; not to take away any credit from the artists.
Jis Lahore Nahin Dekhya (placed in the times of partition) is both an emotional story as well as a strong comment on the then prevalent socio-political scene. It starts with a character named Sikandar Mirza who migrates to Pakistan, and is allotted a Haweli by the custodian. He and his family are shocked to find the old hindu landlady Ratan ki Maa – still in the house who didn't leave for India like many others did. A victim of hate, violence and tragedy, she had lost everything but not the ability to give love and affection. The story charts the relationship of Ratan ki Maa with the Mirza family at one level. At another level, the story shows us how goons try to use religion against Ratan ki Maa for ulterior motives and how priests are wood to get legitimacy for their intentions and actions. The story progresses on these lines and it is really difficult to capture the feel of the play in a blog post, and it becomes impossible when a mortal blogger like me attempts to put-through an immortal story. Anyways, to continue with the story, one day the old lady dies and this is when the narrative reaches its climax demonstrating the clash of greed and fundamentalism versus sanity and love for fellow human beings.
Jis Lahore nahin dekhya is a poignant story of the dark time called partition; a partition that stood testimony to hatred, intolerance and fanaticism; thousands were attacked and killed, a generation was rendered homeless with a total loss of national identity. The story tried to define what is the pain of losing your place, losing your identity and what is the pain of falling prey to the dividing mentality of few people at the top. The story explains home as a place which has all your precious memories, a place where you feel at peace, and a place you would never want to give up for anything because you are so deeply connected to it that you can't probably imagine yourself without that place.
Well, I found the play a parallel (though not-so-brilliant) to the current sentiment against so called 'Non-Mumbaikars'. The other day I was talking to someone who born and brought up in Maharashtra. Not only this but according to him, whenever the flight arrives at the Mumbai airport and he inhales the air filled with smoke and dust he feel that he is finally at home. He has read not only about Shivaji but he is also a great fan of pula deshpande and for him, gateway is the world's best place to hang out with his girl friend. So when someone says that he is an outsider, he feels not only hurt but also confused. He is not sure why he is still considered a Madrasi when the language he is most comfortable with (after English) is Marathi. He doesn't understand how Mumbai is not his home despite the fact that his memories from school to college to job to his sister's marriage, all have been associated to this place. What I believe is, this is as much his home as theirs; his ancestors not living here doesn't dilute the fact that he has spent the most precious years of his life here and he feels as much for this land as any 'Marathi Manoos' does. In fact what I believe is, even if somebody has not spent his entire life in Mumbai deserves to call this place his home if he thinks so.
And most importantly he (and a lot many so-called-outsiders in mumbai) belongs to India and thus belongs to Maharashtra. Whichever part of the country I go to I never feel lost and actually I should not. The dirty roads, the narrow by-lanes, the beggars, the buses, people helping you out with directions, the chai/pan shops and even the lecherous men :) It's all the same. So how can someone stop me from living in any part of the country when the whole is mine!
This is a question which may not look very relevant today, in the presence of issues like terrorism and economic recession but its significance is growing with every passing day. This is important and equally alarming because it forms the basic foundation of a nation. If we can't allow a person from other state to earn his/her livelihood in ours, then we can't be a part of the same nation. The roots of this nation are shaking, this is the time to think and act.