Chalo Jeete Hain: Inspired by Narendra Modi's childhood, this short film has a strong social message

Ajay Singh

Jul,26 2018 19:31:31 IST

A 32-minute short film titled Chalo Jeete Hain, screened on Wednesday (25 July 2018) at the GMC Balayogi auditorium by vice president M Venkaiah Naidu, is more remarkable for the social message it carries than the fact that it is inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s childhood days.

The film is essentially centered on deep-seated caste prejudices that glaringly exist among Hindus, much to the discomfiture of a young lad called “Naru” (the abbreviated name of Narendra). It revolts Naru’s sense of justice to see a boy from a scheduled caste denied education on account of his penury. The travails of the members of the scheduled caste and society’s apathy towards them is boldly depicted in the movie.

But the beauty of the movie is that it is not seditious.

The ‘peela phool’ (yellow flower) offered to the gods in Hindu temples is used as a metaphor for social reforms. In fact, “Peela Phool” is also the title of a play written by Modi during his school days and staged in Vadnagar town where he spent his childhood days. The play is essentially a commentary against the orthodox Brahminical order but avoids commenting against the caste system directly.

For instance, the movie is replete with instances of even upper caste people coming to the support of those considered 'untouchables' by the higher echelons of society. The faith in the inner goodness of society is emphasised quite forcefully when the protagonist of the movie manages to collect enough contributions to fund the education of his friend, who belongs to the scheduled caste. One can see Naru's satisfaction when his friend is shown walking into the classroom.

Still from Chalo Jeete Hain. YouTube screengrab

Still from Chalo Jeete Hain. YouTube screengrab

This short film breaks the mould on various counts. It carries a very profound message without spreading any rancour against anyone. Though it is apparently inspired by Modi’s childhood, it does not convey any political message and exclusively focuses on social reform. What is particularly outstanding in this short film is the deep empathy felt for one another by those living on the margins in the suburban milieu.

Naru’s family also lives in stark poverty and economically they are only a shade better than the scheduled caste family, though they are not so ostracised socially. Yet Naru could easily identify with the travails of the other boy both economically and socially. He seemed quite conscious of the humiliation one faces on account of not only economic marginalisation, but also social inequality. In one scene, the hero accompanies his mother who does domestic chores in a rich neighbourhood to eke out a living.

Chalo Jeete Hain portrays society’s fault lines while reposing an unremitting faith in its collective strength to overcome it. The film may not be a work of revolutionary story-telling in the subversive sense — it is conformist to the core. This may expose Chalo Jeete Hain to the charge of being an exercise in public relations by the Prime Minister. It may also be seen as a prelude to image correction in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign. Without contesting these charges, there is no denying the fact that this short film is a socially audacious enterprise in a scenario where a biopic like Sanju gets a big draw. In this case, the protagonist of the movie, Naru, would have to bank on the collective goodness of society to make this movie a vehicle of (disseminating a) social message — and not just entertainment.

Chalo Jeete Hain is directed by Mangesh Hadawale, produced by Mahaveer Jain and Bhushan Kumar; presented by Aanand L Rai. Watch the trailer here:

Updated Date: Jul 26, 2018 19:31 PM