As is the case during these pandemic times no one is in a hurry to get to bed and good films watched are now discussed threadbare with a mug of the last masala chai of the day…
The Greyhound is one such film that brings to mind past war epics that we have seen, enjoyed and still remember. The expanse and depth of cinematography makes the film so nail-biting real where Tom Hanks as Navy Commander Ernest Krause, displays his exceptional skill and craft.
The story is of a U.S. Navy Commander Ernest Krause assigned to lead an Allied convoy across the Atlantic during World War II. His convoy, however, is pursued by German U-boats. Although this is Krause’s first wartime mission, he finds himself embroiled in what would come to be known as the longest, largest and most complex naval battle in history: The Battle of the Atlantic.
Plagued by self-doubts, personal demons, his ability or inability to command a ship this most unlikely hero finds solace and comfort in his Bible.
From the first scene in the film to the last Commander Krause reads the Holy Book, quotes relevant verses to the momentous events that he faces and the responsibility of ‘shepherding’ the ships under his command.
The character is portrayed as a good Christian who rises to the task given to him and performs exceptionally.
Based on a 1955 book, The Good Shepherd by CS Forester which I had last read in my 20s touched me differently as a film.
First, the choice of the book’s title made me see it with new eyes. It also brought forth the trajectory of one’s own journey and one’s own beliefs – from being benignly incidental to my faith to an interested and more invested one.
How naturally, how easily and how unapologetically Tom Hanks character portrays a good Christian.
Could we ever make a film and depict the commander of a ship, or an officer leading his men to war, as a good Hindu in his personal life?
Forget about seeking answers in the Bhagavat Gita, quoting it, but even hurriedly muttering a prayer or bowing his head to a deity?
Yes, we can imagine a Sikh character doing it, a Muslim spreading his prayer mat, a Christian making the sign of the Cross …. but a Hindu?
We tried to recollect any one war film, not that we have more than a handful … but couldn’t think of a name.
In fact, the recent web series on various platforms came to mind and the depiction of Hindus left us cringing.
In our mainstream films, Hindu women can go to temples, ring bells, perform Aarti but the Hindu man has been sacrificed at the altar of Secularism.
The good Hindu male must keep his own faith hidden while showing respect for all.
Yes, he can show disappointment to his God, berate him …but worship? No, that would be Hindutva, whatever that is supposed to mean.
Because the man who practises the Hindu faith in our films wears a janeu, a mark now of disrespect, a distinctive flaming tilak, a saffron scarf and plays a conniving priest, a hate mongering politician, a Bahubali or part of a lynch mob.
When and where did this image emblazon itself on the cinematic consciousness of a nation predominantly Hindu?
When and where did this villainy characterise a faith?
When and where did each belief and festival become an opportunity for an actor to show his/her derision and the celebration of another faith a badge of honour?
And why is it those who do so, know little about that, they mock and ridicule?
When did we define Secularism with disdain for one faith and tiptoeing around the others?
This confusion, this convoluted sense of self-worth has shown to be self-defeating and has cut off one section from the other.
And once more the biggest lesson in the last decade has been that the problem lies within.
Not in the kitchens where the hands that serve meals and clear the dishes…. because they understand who they are, where they come from. But in the sheen of drawings rooms with their titter of English and high education.
However, make no mistake even in these rarefied climes lies a distinct difference between one chandelier, Kashmiri silk to the next – a reality one cannot escape from.
The warp and weft of the Sikh, Christian, Muslim binds them through liens to the core they belong to.…except for one the segment who with the pretensions of being cosmopolitan reveals a nowhere-ness in thought and belief.
This self-hating segment sell out their own, in history books, in films, in stand-up comedies, in so called avante-garde art and leave the ordinary Hindu to face the consequences of their shameful capitulation in the next riot.
No amount of mellifluous wine can wash that crime or blur their compliance to a devious agenda since Independence.
With due respect to George Orwell –
The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their own faith ….