Not in balance the Force is: Why we need satire - to mock, provoke, challenge
By Abhinandan Sekhri
Mirth, consequences it does face. Bad ones. Being struck down we see warriors of freedom of speech and expression. The dark stifling pulls of power smother us do try, they do. But bring back balance in the Force the satirists will. It is why created, they were. It is their destiny.
Important satirists in the universe are. Why, ask you? Merely jokers, tellers of jocular tales? More than that they are. Tell you, I will. What they bring to the Force?
Grammar not, clearly. Talking truth to power, it is. Not always easy it is either. Often afraid of the truth power is and master Yoda has told us that “Fear is the path to the dark side”. Life’s lessons many I learnt from Master Yoda, unfortunately grammar too I did.
Even the most well-intentioned and upright journalists cannot some things say. Tell not some stories since would not stand up to journalistic scrutiny they would or sensibilities of polite society. Not appear dispassionate analysis that journalism require does. Cannot call shittyness, shittyness they can - journalists. Would be unjournalistic behavior it would, to be disrespectful, disdainful or just crass. Not sophisticated but serves a purpose, it does. Brings balance to the Force. Give Gods a gentle nudge to topple from pedestals and forget not what it is like to roll in the muck. Satire achieves that what journalism cannot. Goes into grim and smelly depths of the galaxy that journalism cannot penetrate. Can cutting commentary provide and opinion express in ways unlike anything else could articulate.
Kapil Sibal was published as a poet by Roli books, remember you do? Had poetry readings attended by high and mighty Sith lords from across the celebrity galaxy. Wrote lyrics for Bollywood too he did. Because has the wisdom, aesthetic, beauty and honesty of feeling of Rumi, Ghalib, Khusro or Gulzar? Better! Power he had. In power he was, thus a limerick not so bright made publishers see the light – it did. “The Force is strong with this one” said publishers and Bollywood producers to Sibal even though his craft with words was like yours is, young Luke with trying to look tough – dismal. But political power (religion too is politics) makes the Force warp. Makes rationality bend, is the black hole of reason – it is.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s wife Anita Singhvi performed vocals, she did. Almost held a tune for a second or two even. But listen to her for more than three minutes – you can without cringing? Worthy of doing a show Rajya Sabha TV did her talent Sang at events and attended by great warriors of the galaxy they were as the UPA held the control of the Death Star through Section 66A of the IT Act and other like it. New nightingale of India was she? Not. Power it is. Not so many publishers, literary events and musical extravaganzas do you see scrambling for them now, do you?
The Force has shifted to another colour on the spectrum but remains heavy on the side of power still. Natural it is as decisions taken by pragmatism of everyday life and business interests put powerful on pedestals – it does. They contort the Force by convincing power that it is talented, just, beautiful, lovable, infallible and all round cuddly. Thus imbalance in the Force there is and will be if power is not a notch or two brought down – by satire. Bringing the high and mighty in power down to earth with some wit, cheek, impertinence and often crassness is the job of the satirist jedi. Do that, satirists will and must. It is their destiny to bring balance to a Force warped by the servile who grovel and the inventors of talents where none exists.
Today you see power warping the Force by exerting the same pull in other directions with wives and relatives of other Sith lords as directors and consultants of not Death Star but rock star constellations – public and private limited. Will see now, you will, many from the ruling disposition or close to them elevated to similar pedestals of achievement and accomplishment. Suddenly become super geniuses they have? Suddenly their awesome IQ discovered by corporate captains to be used to power the growth engines of their enterprise and India? Ah no! It could be because the discovery of these people’s genius coincided with NDA being the political alliance in governance or it could be the distorting effect power exerts on the rationality of the Force.
For those new in power and lawmaking you must unlearn what you have learned from power of the past, from control, from perverting the pure equilibrium of the Force. Dear new comers it is possible that the Force is strong with you. The past has taught you well. What they did with section 66 A of the IT Act you can do with section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code. But with each arrest, each assault each intimidation you can’t win, Darth. Strike me down, and I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine. Thus spake Obi-Wan and thus spake each wan on us. I sense great fear in you power flyers of religion, of politics and also of law. You have hate you have anger, but you don't use them. Ahh! Hard to see, the Dark Side is. But before you can say R2D2, swallowed democracy into its sticky yucky tar pits, it has. Should be wary of that young lords, you should. But there is good in them. I have felt it. The balance will be achieved. Inevitable – it is. Democracy cannot be undone. The torrent of freedom of speech, expression and bad jokes flow in one direction, reverse it will not – be sure of that.
Satirists provide the balance so the, you're-so-great-talented-brilliant-beautiful-because-you're-powerful-syndrome does not overwhelm the cosmos and weigh it down into a black hole that disrupts the balance of the Force. Satire is the yin to the power’s yang.
We mock. We provoke. We challenge. That is what we do, or not do. There is no try. It is our destiny.