Saturday, 13 July 2013

Boring Road- Amitava Kumar revisits Bihar

Amitava Kumar has written a line worthy of Naipaul-
'In conversation, Leela would speak of herself as a journalist and an actress. I felt that she mistook ambition for achievement, and I began to like her less.' 
But Naipaul wrote as a foreigner, a journalist; Kumar & Mishra et al, aren't foreigners, they are Biharis. Amitava was just a few years older than Leela, he probably had relatives or colleagues who had been 'Communist Party workers' and thus it was perfectly natural for Leela to ask him for help in getting a scholarship to train as an actress. What possible 'achievement' as opposed to 'ambition' could Leela  have had as a recently married woman in her early 20's?
When Naipaul writes of 'mistaking ambition for achievement' it is within a larger framework of passing judgment on a Development model of a specific Rostovian 'Nation Building' kind. What wider framework underpins Kumar or Mishra's Naipaulian cadence? Is it the reflection that jhollawallah types in Patna are somehow even more pathetic and ludicrous than jhollawallah types at J.N.U or Ivy League?
Kumar invokes Rashomon. Why? Has this something to do with Kurosawa's own political beliefs? Or is it just that a b&w film from 1950 is the proper lens through which to view Patna because...urm... well, Bihar is just so damn backward yaar. They have just this one mall and it's located on Boring Road. Seriously. That's the name of the road. Every other alleyway and cul de sac gets renamed M.G. marg or J.P chowk, but when you have an actual great big thoroughfare called Boring road, the Biharis refuse to change its name to something more boring yet. Is it just me or do other people think mebbe them dehati bhaiyyas, with their exquisitely Buddhist sense of humor, have been laughing at us all these years?

1 comment:

rschenchu said...

Amitava and his ilk are the scum of India paid by foreigners to dismantle the country. Make no mistake, such venal creatures are promoted even in the hard sciences and sent back to the "elite" institutions in India. Scientific activity is almost non existent and of a purely imitative and decorative character here.
It is a well organised and deeply funded by all three of our civilizational enemies who have come together in the past few decades.