My two sons, Darryl and Derek, have been spending their school vacation watching video films made by different political parties. Yesterday, they were watching a BJP propaganda film in which Mr. Advani was ween sitting in a diesel-driven chariot, a plastic bow and arrow in his hands, a lotus flower in front of him, from which messages kept floating out: "Ram aur Roti, Ram and Roti."
"If you want to see something like this, why don't you watch Mr. Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan," I said.
"That is all old hat," said Darryl, my elder son, "nobody watches Ramayan any more. This is so much more contemporary.
"My younger son, Derek, said: "More people in UP and Bihar have by now watched the BJP film than they did Ramayan and Mahabharat combinet."
The screen was getting filled up with an army of godmen in saffron, carrying trishuls and other weapons. The commentator's voice had risen to a high-pitch and people were shouting: "Vote BJP, vote BJP." Then the lotus in front of the picture grew and grew, became larger and larger, and occupied the whole screen.
"What technique," said Darryl.
"You better switch off that, it is not good for you," I said. "If you want to see technique see Hitchcook, that is technique."
"What century are you living in!" said Derek. "Where is Hitchcook, some 19th centuryfilm-maker, and where is Dr. J.K. Jain, the undisputed genius of the political film with a message."
In any case, they changed the cassette. The few one had Mr. V.P. Singh riding on the pillion seat of a scooter, his head on his long neck nodding away as they traversed bumpy road somewhere in the outbacks of UP. Then the scene switched to a mosque with the faithful bending down in prayer, and Mr. V.P. Singh's face superimposed in a moon, looking down on them.
"That single shot should get million votes," said Darryl, looking ecstatic. "Truly a triumph of the film media, the manner in which the message has been conveyed."
"I think it is crude," I said, "putting somebody's face in the moon, like they used to do in the old 1930s Hindi films Ė Court Dancer. If you want to see how a message is conveyed, see Attenborough's Gandhi, how he conveyed Gandhiji's message of peace and nonviolence to the whole world."
Another cassette was put in and Mr. Chandra Shekhar was shown, flying about in air force place and talking freely to everybody in his cultivated no-nonsence style. In the next shot, Mr. Devi Lal was shown, flying in another air force plane and doing more or less the same things."
"I did not know the Samajwadi Janata Party had money to spend on videos," I said. "I wonder who is financing them. In any case, why are you not seeing Congress's videos?"
"Why waste time seeing Congress videos," said Derek. "In another month, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi will be prime minister again and then we will be seeing him on Doordarshan all the time."