Though we may not necessarily look at it that way, the lack of a strong role model is the greatest issue facing young Indians today.
At a recent book launch, software icon N R Narayana Murthy pointed out that ‘the number of role models our youngsters can look up to is decreasing’.
The corrupt, he said, are slowly but surely becoming the only role models for young Indians.
‘Our youngsters don’t have role models to look up to and therefore and sadly because of corruption, some of the people who are doing exactly the opposite, dishonest, deceit, ‘chalta hai’ and all of that… they are becoming more and more powerful, they are becoming wealthier. Therefore, our youngsters are getting the wrong signals. They think maybe this is the way to succeed. I don’t blame them,’ he said.
Saida Raval agrees, “There is little that children have around them to be inspired by. I can’t see a lot of people having role models. I don’t come across kids who say they want to be like person x. That also makes them a little more lost. Parents are always trying to get their kids disciplined but rarely do they see what comes out of this discipline, what is the result, who they can be! There is no such towering figure in that sense for this generation that can drive them towards single-mindedly achieving something.”
Raval’s point does strike a chord with me. Surely there is Anna Hazare you may say but, I am a little sceptical of calling him the icon of my generation, not so much because of who he is but because of who we are.
In fact, when you think about it, you don’t see too many towering figures in fiction too. For what they were worth, our parents and their parents had their set of heroes. Be it Jay Gatsby or Atticus Finch or even Feluda or Devdas. In films too, you had Anand, ‘Mother India’ and Bhootnath.
It isn’t a surprise then that many of our filmmakers are steadily turning to classics, attempting to remake them and reinterpret them for our generation.
Of these, the one film that stands out is Anurag Kashyap’s Devdas. The intelligent interpretation of the story and indeed the characters sees Kashyap’s Devdas giving up his Paro and choosing to go back to Chandramukhi.
Unlike Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s protagonist who burns the candle from both ends going out all guns blazing, Kashyap’s modern Devdas returns to his little room, back to his little life and a conventionally happy ending.
That in more ways, speaks to me not just about our heroes but also about our generation — that loves to arrive with a bang but almost invariably goes out with a whimper.