Urban Naxals - The making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam
- Vivek Agnihotri
I got to know about this book from a colleague who has Sangh
leaning (and is quite proud of it as well). Ordered this book online, and managed to complete the 379 pages book today. A few points which I felt would be interesting to other readers as well.
I started reading the book with an assumption that the book is more like a screen play of the movie "Buddha in a Traffic Jam". This assumption had to be quickly put aside, as I found out that the book was about how this film was conceptualised and then rolled out. People who want to see the film, would have to actually do that
and the book is not a replacement for the same.
The author - a film director himself - gets associated with a group of IIM students who want to make a low budget movie. The author himself admits that during his college days he was left oriented and there were a couple of his professors who were staunch leftists and encouraged the students to become leftists as well. The director and producers then work on the story line and also try to get in some financiers (people established in the movie industry in TS etc.). The book also explains in detail the expenses incurred on movie making and how the the director & producers come up with some out of the box
ideas to reduce the costs.
The book does not explain the story line of the movie in great detail. It is about an IIM student given an assignment by his own professor to come up with a business solution to expand the business of an NGO, supposedly helping the tribals of Jharkhand sell earthern pottery. Then we come to know that the NGO is headed by the professor's wife, and the root cause of this assignment is that the Modi government went hammer & tongs against the NGOs and started trapping them on dubious financial dealings. The hero then starts understanding the old business model of the NGO and finds out that a whole lot of middlemen and shady organisations actually work behind the NGO. The money coming via purchases is siphoned off by all of them; including Naxalites, Salwa Judum cadre, and finally the poor tribal who made the pottery gets a very negligible amount. The final proposal from the student was to come up with an online platform which connects the producer (tribal) to the buyer (the whole outside world).
On further reading of the book, we understand that making the movie on low budget using some innovative ideas was actually quite easy. The bigger road blocks come when it is time to release the movie. The big time movie houses all shun the movie citing very many reasons. Most of them say that, "it will not make profit" or it is "highly controversial". It is then the movie makers decide to show the film directly at possible avenues byepassing other agents. In a couple of film festivals the movie is turned down at the last moment.
The last 25% of the book is on how the director takes the movie to various educational establishments across India and what he faced there. And this part also is quite important. This part exposes the whole world "Urban Naxals", the group of people infesting the educational instituitions and also donning the label of "intellectuals". The tactic adopted by the leftist student gangs and teaching staff in support of them at every educational instituition is highlighted. The author also calls the people watching the movie for a debate. The leftist student gang usually try with diversionary tactics first; "rohit vemula & dalit", "manuvaad & brahmanvaad"
etc, which has no relevance in the movie. Once that fails it is followed by abuses and finally attempts of physical violence. The author's most harrowing experience was at Jadavpur University, West Bengal (no guesses on that). Finally it becomes quite obvious that the so called "intellectuals" in India are all self-certified or certified by other "intellectuals" whose sole criteria is a firm belief in "communist/naxalite ideology". And that all thoughts except their own ideology should be curtailed.
The book concludes with the author's thoughts that many things mentioned in the movie actually was proved to be true later. That is arrest of "urban naxals" like Sai Baba, and police arresting some university students from a Naxal gang in Maharashtra etc.
The movie is available on YouTube @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nn3hYmgK3ek
The author of the book can be reached at:-