CHAPTER 9: IN SEARCH OF MANHOOD
As the event ends, Abhyankar informs Saket that he is being summoned to come alone by the Maharaja. Ram moves away from Mythili with reluctance. Our “Guha” is also disappointed at the separation. The image of the falling Ravana is now juxtaposed with that of Abhyankar leading him to the Maharaja. Abhyankar is the analogue of Hanuman in the film and leads our Rama to “his Ravana” in the same way as Hanuman leads Rama to his nemesis Ravana via the sea between Rameshwaram and Lanka.
Rama is able to see the “sea” as Abhyankar takes him through. The wet floor transforms into solid tiles as they proceed representing the more “mechanical” version (uncompassionate) of the Ramayana is about to take place. Saket gets dizzy and faints (sea-sickness?). The effect of the Soma has reached its peak.
As he wakes up, he is taken to the Maharaja’s secret chamber where a crowd has gathered. What follows is a very instigating and intriguing surreal sequence. The Maharaja’s room is decorated with traditional Indian weaponry characteristic of the Maratha kingdom. Portraits of Hindu nationalist Veer Savarkar and racist Hitler hang on the wall. The Maharaja’s ideologies do not digress much from these historic characters either.
The Maharaja gives a briefing of the gathering.
“Gentlemen, if our Hindu soul is to survive, this Mahatma must die. The misfortune of this Hindu nation is its worst enemy is a practicing Hindu! Right from beginning, he has been taking their side and neglecting the people of his own religion. For centuries we have been worshipping the valour and its accompanying instruments He now wants us to change our form of worship and pray to a new God, himself, and a new religion, Ahimsa. My brave men, it should be done as a symbolic act and not as the revenge. But to show the world and the country what a Hindu is capable of.”
Saket is unsteady as he listens to the briefing. He recollects Abhyankar’s words about Gandhi as the equivalent images appear along with it:
“He has nurtured the young green plant to make it a tree”
Gandhiji stands in front of a green background and pours what seem to be grains of wheat onto the ground. A green thorny cactus plant sprouts up and grows out of bounds. Note here that green is the traditional colour used to represent Muslims and Saffron is the colour used to represent the Hindus.
Saket imagines Gandhi to be nourishing the green plants (read Muslims) which has grown to become a threatening issue. It is also interesting to note the whole film, especially the from the part after Aparna’s murder carries a Saffron tinge indicating the Hindu nationalist rage that has crept up into Saket.
The Maharaja stands in front of the Kali picture, the symbol of demon slaying, as he chooses a chit from a closed container. He opens it and calls out Abhyankar’s name. Abhyankar seems happy and thanks god for that. Clearly, it is the selection of men who are going to carry out the job of killing Gandhi.
The next name that is called out is that of Saket’s. As Abhyankar, bit disgusted at Saket’s marriage, points out that he is a married man and won’t get involved. Saket objects, doddering to centre stage which is appreciated by the Maharaja. As Raja speaks about the selection, Saket sees Aparna herself speaking:
“Brave men, today is Vijayadashami. It seems like it’s the will of Bhavani that it shall be a Ram who should do the job. Come, my Rams. Choose your weapons.”
Saket and Abhyankar take the guns they need. Our Rama has got his bow. He takes the pistol and fires at the image he has formed in his mind – Gandhiji sitting in front of the Pakistan flag surrounded by the statue of the three monkeys, which Saket speaks about on the flight, a Spinning wheel and presumably a Koran. The image shatters as Saket finalizes his quest for slaying his Ravana.
The shattered image leads to the Hindu Swastika (on a “green” background) transforming into the German Swastika (on a red background), as made famous by the Nazis, indicating that a Third-Reich like Hindu fanaticism is being evolved and Hindu supremacy is intended to be established wiping out the Muslims from the country, like Hitler’s extermination of the Jews.
The German Swastika later transforms into a lotus shaped figure (on an orange-ish background) which I will not assign any meaning to and will leave if for you to decipher!
Cut to the Maharaja’s palace. Saket is watching a dance as the effect of the Soma persists. As the leader of the dance troupe approaches him, he sees Aparna dancing in a similar fashion back in his house at Calcutta. He tries to touch her, but is unable to. Disappointed, he approaches Mythili. He tries to force Mythili for a kiss as Abhyankar watches on. She tries to get away. He takes her upstairs and passionately kisses her. His masculinity has returned.
Another surreal sequence begins as they get onto the bed. As Saket closes in on her, the bed collapses and falls into space and looks like it is approaching the ruins of Mohanjo-Daro. They fall through thin air making love.
He knows that it his the last time he is making love and it is the road to ruins from now on. The images of Mohanjo-Daro and free fall indicate ruining of his future course of life and his present nonchalance towards it. Saket tears off his shirt hinting his high masculine coefficient at this point as he pounces on Mythili.
He kisses her passionately. The image of Mythili lying on the bed under her blanket morphs into that of a large rifle under the same blanket.
Saket uncovers the gun and kisses it passionately. He is in love with it. The concept of the “mechanical Rama” is evident once more. Additionally, this is the transformation of Saket from a person who wants to get back into peaceful marital life into one who is in determined to carry on in his self destructive mission to satisfy his political ideologies and avenge his wife’s death.
After he has made love, Saket sits at the piano and plays it mechanically. The image of the piano in the film comes for one last time and produces a very creepy and robotic tone suggesting that this is the last time he connects to his wife and the connection, too, has been a very ritualistic and mechanical one. He stares at Mythili, who is lying on the bed in an almost-angry fashion and gets up to tie his long locks back. He is imposing in stature. Saket is now at the pinnacle of masculinity. He only has to slay his inner demons now and then the outer.
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