When I was young, I used to hear many stories from elders, read a lot of Tamil novels and watched a lot of Tamil movies. One thing was common in all these: In the end all good people had all their problems solved and the bad people were either killed or reformed. The good and bad were always clearly defined and there was never any doubt. All those living at the end, lived happily ever after.Thinking back, it was clearly not realistic.
As I have grown to be on the wrong side of 50 now, It is difficult for me to believe that the people were actually very different from the people we are today. However the stories that I was aware of largely ended this way. I am now wondering if there was an unwritten rule that every writer followed. Stories are supposed to motivate everyone and you cannot have a bad person winning in the end. Perhaps, I was not well read and there were realistic stories that I was not aware off.
Then I read a novel by G. Nagarajan ‘நாளை மற்றுமொரு நாளே (Tomorrow is just another day). This novel described one day in the life of a person who is born poor and is not certain if there would be breakfast. It was disturbing but one can sympathize with the hero. I watched Jayakandan’s ‘யாருக்காக அழுதான்’ (For whom did he cry?). It was a beautiful movie with the famous comedian Nagesh as the hero. He comes as a room boy who is accused of stealing a golden chain from a lady staying in the hotel room. There was no evidence but there was no need for any evidence. Who else but the poor room boy could have taken the golden chain? Everyone asks him, threatens him, beats him and he replies them all with a smiling face: I did not take that chain. In the end, the lady finds it safely in her possession but had forgotten. She says sorry and then he starts crying. There are stereotypes here but a bad man does not still win in the end.
Recently, I watched the Hollywood blockbuster King Kong. A ruthless, money minded movie maker cheats a whole lot of people, takes them to an island to shoot a film against their wish. He finds the giant chimpanzee, King Kong and all kinds of deadly animals. Many of his crew die in this adventure and the King Kong and the heroine become unlikely friends. He manages to capture King Kong and brings it to New York to be displayed in a show. King Kong tries to get out, destroys some parts of the city and is finally killed despite the best efforts of the heroine. The movie shows the ruthless man watching the body and walking away. No remorse, no punishment and life goes on for him. I did not feel good.
One of the super hits of Amitabh Bacchan from the 1980s was Don and Rajni Kant made it in Tamil as Billa. A villager looks like a lawless Don and they both end up in an hospital simultaneously. The don dies. The villager goes to the mafia in disguise and eventually helps the police win the mafia. These movies were remade recently in Hindi with Shah Rukh Khan and Tamil with Ajith as heroes. While the Tamil movie did not change the story line, the Hindi movie made a dramatic twist. The don survives and the villager dies. May be more realistic? In the end he cheats the police and everyone else to survive and live happily ever after. It did not feel good.
Tamil movies in the recent years have several talented new comers who make brilliant films. One such movie is சூது கவ்வும் (Evil engulfs). I thoroughly enjoyed this movie which could best be described as ‘irreverence at its best’ (One of my cousin had probably used ‘irreverence’ to describe this movie earlier). This is satirical and describes the story of some small time kidnappers who try to pull off a big one and get caught. In the end, an honest politician (who is not smart enough to make money) is replaced by his son who makes money happily ever after. It should have been as upsetting to me as King Kong and the Hindi remake of Don but may be as it was satirical, it did not feel that bad.
World has perhaps always had good, bad and ugly people. Some good ones may have lost and some bad ones may have won, temporarily or may be eventually. I am just wondering. Are stories in which the bad man wins in the end, are they new today? Were there stories in the past in which the bad man wins in the end without any remorse? Have we come to Kaliyuga, which is described as the end of one cycle in Hindu philosophy, if not the end of the world!
PS. Varnakuzhappam (racial mixing) is supposed to precede this end and that I can see happening. However, I personally feel racial mixing is for the good. Much of Europe today has citizens who are mix, half French, quarter German and quarter Polish and so on! May be such mixing of population between states of India would help India too! or is my thinking influenced by the Kaliyuga and we are really heading towards the end. I believe not.