I watched Om Puri on a TV panel discussion with awe and admiration. Awe because never have I heard such gibberish in my life. Admiration because the man underscored the Indian madness over film stars. If he wasn’t a film actor, he would have been indicted for sedition with twenty times the evidence we flung at Kanhaiya Kumar, JNU Students' Union leader.
Om Puri did not cross the LoC of common sense. He trampled it with contempt and derision for Indian soldiers and talked such utter nonsense that it was difficult to grasp at even a tendril of common sense.
There wasn’t even a hint of the threadbare ho hum stance of intellectual pretension like we see in Salman Khan and Karan Johar and their tribe...here is the Defence Minister of Pakistan saying he will fling nuclear bombs at you and a cricketer like Javed Miandad telling the world that every child in Pakistan will rise up against India and if we could just keep a dignified silence, that would be fine but no, we have to denigrate ourselves and babble on about our being nice guys and art being separate.
So is sport, Sport, and I do not see the Miandads playing by the rules.
But this is all small beer compared to the drivel spouted by Om Puri. It was so breathtakingly anti–Indian that only in democratic India could he be in a position to go home, have a drink, eat dinner and sleep peacefully without being accountable to the state.
Some years back, he acted as General Zia Ul Haq in a film called Charlie Wilson’s War. Clearly, he hasn’t stepped out of his role.
After this absurd display of hubris and conceit, I think it is time we told Bollywood and all its other ‘…woods’ to put a sock in it.
To an extent, their excesses and their pretensions to grand intellect are our fault. We put them on the pedestals, venerate them, come out into the heat of the night to pay obeisance, turn them into demi-gods, carry their photographs, want to touch them, make huge posters and cutouts and give them space to believe they are philosophers who eclipse Socrates and Plato.
No wonder then that they believe they can afford to be outrageous and still be loved.
Take this Om Puri guy. Great actor whose self-delusion borders on the ridiculous. He babbles on about the armed forces, repeats some nonsensical litany of turning the subcontinent into Palestine and Israel like he had discovered the cure to cancer and embarrasses himself beyond belief.
If Bollywood is truly the great free spirit and vat of grand thought it pretends to be, let’s have the Salman Khans and the Karan Johars come out into the open and tell us that Om Puri had egg on his face and made a laughing stock of himself while indicting the whole film industry.
Will they do it? I doubt that very much. We live in perilous times and our nation is under attack. Wake up and smell the coffee, bitter as it is.
We do not need opinion, we need solidarity.
We don’t need placid pacifism, we need alertness.
We don’t need to kneel, we need to walk tall.
And we also need the Om Puris of India to zip it.