Review of Lagey Raho Munna Bhai

(This is the second movie in a sequel.  See my review of Munna Bhai MBBS before proceeding.)


This movie is not really about Munna.  It is about the relevance of Gandhi- not the statesman depicted in the Attenborough version, but the philosopher who championed non-violent individual and collective action.  At a time when the Indian government is pushing for a nuclear deal, corruption is rampant and globalization is the mantra among corporate executives,  this is an optimistic attempt at re-establishing Gandhi in people’s lives. 



This movie adds an important word to the desi lexicon- “Gandhigiri” (roughly speaking, actionable Gandhism with attitude) as opposed to the more common and objectionable “Goonda-giri” (rowdyism).  It has been interesting to see reports of the movie in the West that has largely not followed the waning influence of Gandhi among Indians.  There have been reports in outlets such as The Boston Globe (“How Gandhi got his mojo back”) and Open Source Radio.  There is even a Wikipedia page on Gandhigiri and a grassroots Gandhigiri campaign inspired by the movie. 



The movie has made Gandhi accessible to a whole generation of Indians who have largely viewed the “father of the nation” as a distant figure buried in a dull history textbook.  In utter contrast, the movie portrays Gandhi as a cool cat with interesting ideas.  Rather than focusing on historic fact, the movie focuses on conflict resolution techniques.  This is what makes it accessible. 



Munna learns Gandhigiri gradually.  His first impulse is to hit an opponent and to resolve the conflict through violent action.  Over time, he learns the effectiveness of simple Gandhian techniques and then, fully embraces them.  He even commandeers a radio show and convinces others to react to others’ negative acts through consistent positive actions.   Just as the first movie in this series, this movie operates at multiple levels.  At one level, it is an entertaining thriller and at another, it is a philosophical tale.  Viewers who liked the first Munna Bhai will not be disappointed.



December 10, 2006

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