Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy - Review

This was a two act play written by Pradeep Dalvi based on a book writen by Gopal Godse (Nathuram's brother,an army man, author and a co-conspirator in the assassination of Gandhi) 'May It Please Your Honor'. The play was not given permission to perform publicly in 1989. It tells the story from Nathuram Godse's point of view and how he chose to end Gandhi's life because he believed that Gandhi was appeasing Muslims - was responsible for the partition of India and the subsequent genocide and suffering, ensuring Pakistan got a purse at the time of partition etc. Nathuram Godse (in the play) feels that act is justified by saying that he killed Gandhi because he felt his being around would be detrimental for India and Indians.

I tried my best to understand and follow Marathi in the play. The character who played Nathuram Godse, Sharad Ponkshe, gets a lot of space and time and does a fine job. A debate or a dharna does not work any longer he feels, so he shot Gandhi dead. I do not agree with what you have done so I shot you. And by shooting you I become part of history and the representative of all who oppose your thought. Or what I think is your thought.

A thought versus a bullet. The question remains, can a thought be silenced by a bullet? Does a thought end with one person's death?

It's a provocative piece of work and does provoke much thought too. Godse believed he was right in doing what he was doing. Just as Gandhi believed that whatever he did was the right thing. The decisions taken at the larger scale obviously will not be as transparent as we would like them to be - somehow we like a simplified version of everything. We love stories. We love heroes. Gandhi versus Jinnah - Gandhi lost. India versus Pakistan. Hindu versus Muslim. But up there, at policy making and decision taking level, we do not know who comes with what agenda and why. Who comes with what bias and why. And someone fits in what they think is the best formula for what one believes is the greater good. Sometimes it is the right one. Sometimes not. But one way or another one has to trust the leadership and go with him or her. In many ways they represent the people, us. The many thoughts in us. But so many times leaders, political and apolitical, have been assassinated because people did not like their thought, action or many times, inaction. Many times their actions are scrutinised centuries after they are dead and gone and used to further some other story.

In the final analysis it comes down to this. Gandhi was the symbol of all that went wrong for Godse and he killed him. Obviously there were more than one person at the table when partition was decided upon. Why was only one man killed? Gandhi had a thought, pursued a principle. What is important is the time when we think that a thought must be countered only by a bullet. That a thought must be silenced before it is fully played out. But that's another story. How a thought must be countered. How your own counter-thought could be countered too.

At one point Godse says in the play - Gandhi wanted to live for his principles, I am prepared to die for my principles. He differentiates between 'hatya' (murder) and 'vadh' (killing an enemy as in war) and says his act is one of  'vadh'. Godse says that Gandhi never uttered the words 'Hey Ram' when he died and merely said 'Ahh'. He believes that some people wanted to make a saint of Gandhi and put that line in. He says he appreciates the good work Gandhi had done but he felt he had to do what he did for India and end Gandhi.

The play goes along those lines.

The conspirators of the assassination were Nathuram Godse, Narayan Apte, (both hanged), Madanlal Pahwa, Digamber Badge (who turned approver), Vinayak Savarkar, Vishnu Karkare, Shankar Kistaiya and Gopal Godse (writer of the original play and  brother of Nathuram). Gopal Godse served in the Armed Forces in the Second World War and fought in Iran and Iraq. After the assassination he served sixteen years in jail. he lived mainly on the royalties of his writings on the assassination and Gandhi and died in 2005. 

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