A Simmering Silent Protest For Mithun Which Has The Potential To Grow Into An Angry Scream
(Thoughts I Am Forced To Think By Admirers Of Mithun Chakraborty On His Being Overlooked For The Padma Awards, Once Again)
Ali Peter John
I woke up to feel some painful pinpricks in my heart and my mind when I read an angry post on my Facebook asking me why I was being silent about Mithun Chakraborty. Cruelly, not being considered for any of the Padma awards once again. The post was written by Mr. Rupen Narayanan who I have always known as an unabashed admirer of Mithun Chakraborty since the time I was a cub reporter in “Screen”. Rupen was sounding very angry and deeply hurt, so angry that every word he wrote hurt me and made me feel extremely uneasy for several hours, especially the first line where he asked me why I was being silent. There were several answers coming to my mind instantly, but I didn’t want to answer a sensitive and yet strong fan like Rupen by giving him an offhand answer, because there would have been too many answers and so many answers would not be able to satisfy any die-hard fan of Mithunda, who I have been knowing ever since he first came to Bombay as starving, struggling actor with his background as a naxalite preceding him. If there was one film personality who deserved at least the fourth lowest civilian award of the Government of India, the Padmashri, it should have been Mithun Chakraborty for nothing else, but his sheer contribution to cinema, to humanity and even to animals, but as it happens in our mahaan Bharat, these are the very people who are sidelined to make way for the pampered sons and daughters of celebrities and those who are the Prime Minister silly questions, whether he likes mangoes and how he keeps his face glowing, as if that is going to change the fortune of this thousands of years old country. Before I get more angry about the way things are happening in a country where we once had leaders like Nehru, Shashtri, Dr. S Radhakrishnan, Rajendra Prasad and even Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had their head on their shoulders and love for their country in hearts and we now have leaders who are goondas, tadipars and chowkidars who are determined to decide our destiny. Let me make one gallant attempt to plead the case of people like Rupen Narayanan and many other who strongly feel that there is a biased against their Mitnunda or why should a Padmashri be given to an Ekta Kapoor or a Karan Johar and shockingly even to an Adnan Sami whose credentials are highly questionable……
If an educated man who is also talented in many other ways has to face a very grim struggle and has to face the bullets of the police on the one hand and face the fire in his belly on the other side and still manages to survive to tell his unbelievable story of success as an actor is not considered worthy of the Padmashri, but more what would he need to tell or show the once in power who take decision that deserved a Padmashri.
If the same young man had to depend on all kinds of aunties for his ordinary lunch and dinner, to keep his struggle to be known as an actor going was not an example worth emulating by other young men. Was it not a service he was rendering to many other young men for which he was building himself to be considered as a winner of the Padma in the near or distant future.
What if the young man who had absolutely no features who could show him any hope to make it as a hero in a world where chocolate-faced heroes ruled and still could win the National Award for his very first film, Mrigaya, directed by Mrinal Sen could not think of making it big in Indian cinema one day and aim for a place on high and eve win a Padma, what could be wrong with his thinking like that?
If he could walk around the offices of film makers and magazines and newspapers’ editors with his gold medal which he had earned at the FTII and been taken around by a part time PR man called Dinesh Patil who did not know a word in English and who ran a flour mill as his full time profession and had great faith in Mithun becoming a star one day and Mithun depended on his faith in him and following wherever he took him, never giving up hope in himself, telling himself in Bengali that he had come to Bombay to win and not to go back ever as a loser.
If the gold medalist who had won the confidence of a maker like Mrinal Sen had a basked in his ego and had not accepted tiny roles of just walking around in a bigger scene with stars like Rishi Kapoor in a film like “Phool kile hai Gulsan Gulsan” and with Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha in Do Anjaane, would he be able to know how very difficult it was to reach where Amitabh had reached after facing a humiliating struggle which in many ways was more grim than his own struggle and know how it was important not to give up the struggle.
If there was no time in his struggling days when there was darkness all around and his dancing skills were recognized by the legendary dancer Helen who was facing tuff times and doing shows and had taken him as one of all dancers in her show and he had taken on the name of Rana Rez and a film maker called B Subhash, saw in him his star for his next film, “Disco Dancer” and that became the beginning of one of the biggest success stories of a star who rose from rag to riches and then rose not only in India but in different parts of the world where he is still known.
If Mithun was only a dancer, he would not have excelled as an n actor in the films make by the zealous from the south, J V Iyer who made two films with him for both of which he won the National Awards. He was brilliant in films like Hum Pinch, Agni path, Jag Utah Insane and many other films made in different languages. If all this was not the contribution of just one actor, what more could those who defined contribution when it comes to Padma awards look for?
If Mithun did not have the qualities of the leader of the people he would not have been elected the President of both the cine employees union and the cine artistes association and the kind of welfare schemes that were worked out during his tenure as the Chairman has gone down as a Golden period in the industry and ask any of the artistes and the employees and the ordinary Amador and they all say whatever good has happened is because of Mithunda.
In the late 90s Mithun had some problems in Mumbai and shifted to Ooty and literally started a parallel industry in and an around the hill station. According to his new found roles, he would only shoot in Ooty and in the south and there was no question of his shooting in Mumbai. This one decision of his gave employment opportunities to thousands of artists, technicians, and junior artists and he was called the savior and the monarch of Ooty.
This was also the time when he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha. It was also the time when he who had two sons had adopted a baby girl from the streets of Kolkatta and had decided to give her same rights and privileges that his sons had. He had now gained the status of “Mithun the Mahatma” even though he hated such titles.
Mithun who seemed to have some kind of a politician in him had the easy knack of making friends with some of the most powerful politicians from different parties, whether it was Pranab Mukerji who went to become the President of India, Jyoti Basu, Bal Thackeray, Vilas Rao Deshmukh and Mamta Banerji besides the many other local and regional leaders. He could have easily used them to get him a small thing like a Padma award, like many others have done and still do, but knowing Mithun AND as I do I know that he would have felt it would be below his dignity and even insulting to his fans in powers to ask for such a petty favour and so he had keep waiting…. And waiting.
And now after going through the whole gamut of life, he is back to Mumbai and he is trying his best to get his sons and daughter settle down and frankly, if you ask me, he is more concerned about the 20 odd dogs of the different breeds for whom he has built kennels on his farm house in Madh island. He has a kennel for every dog and a team of veterinarians to take care of them and dieticians and many other workers to look after their welfare. Whenever he has the time, he himself takes them out for long walks and there is silence all over the Madh Island . I once asked him about his great love for his dogs and he said in Hindi, “yeh kuthe, insane no say bahut zyada wafadar hotey hai”. Mujhe insaano ney kata hai, in kutho ne sirf pyar diya hai.
What are those powerful men in power who take all decisions and have thermocol in their hearts and dry grass in their heads have to say about this man who is more than a man? I know will never ask, lobby, use influence or weave pressure groups to get him an award, but isn’t it in the fitness of things to see that the man who truly deserves what is his due gets it? Or should the likes of Rupen Narayanan and his other fans live with broken hearts which can sometimes erupt into a silent flame which can be much more dangerous than the flames in the wild fires or a forest on fire?
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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News, Mithun Chakraborty