Who loves Adolf Hitler?

On a no-news day comes the news that veteran actor Anupam Kher has pulled out of the title role in a film on Adolf Hitler to be directed by an Indian who is reported as saying – I am really appalled – that Hitler is responsible for India’s Independence!

Kher, of course, thought that as an actor there was no harm in playing any role but then the angry reactions of his fans prompted him to give up the offer. I do not have any opinion on Bollywood but I wonder which Indian actor now will find the guts to play the role of Hitler – if the film is to be made someone has to play the role and I have a suggestion: Bal Thackeray. I think he might relish that role of a lifetime, as it were.

Not only was/is Thackeray a dictator in real life, he has had no qualms about Hitler and has often spoken in admiring tones about the man who Nostradamus described as one of the three anti-Christs (third one yet to be identified – could it be Osama bin Laden?) who would be responsible for a lot of bloodshed, killing and anti-human activity.

Thackeray, an ignoramus as any, only ever saw Hitler’s so-called nationalistic zeal and his hunger for lebensraum as a patriotic activity rather than the ruthless trampling down of all nationalist sentiments of other people – and he did not even know (I believe he still does not), that Hitler, while a leader of Germans, was not even German or that he came in from neighbouring Austria (that’s like having Hafeez Sayeed lead India!).

Of course, India has had a modern-day Hitler/Nazi in Narendra Modi but one must thank God for the fact that India is a thriving democracy and has enough of a cultural mooring to never allow the evil designs of people like Modi and Thackeray to ever succeed.

Yet, recently, in a conversation with some colleagues, I was startled when one of them – a liberal by any and all standards – mentioned in the passing that Maharashtra has had a succession of the weakest chief ministers to make any good of the state (they deal with coalitions, as democratic an activity as any, and so are weakened by their coalition partners as Dr Manmohan Singh is by the DMK’s A Raja). And that Bombay can become the financial capital of India only if some one like Bal Thackeray is made the CM.

Of course, there was also mention of Narendra Modi’s absolutely dictatorial skills in ensuring development in Gujarat that is bringing him kudos (while still not absolving him of his alleged role in the massacres of Muslims eight years ago) and I wondered what it is that makes us as Indians secretly admire and seek out dictators whose most remarkable achievements are more negative than positive.

I have said much about Modi in the past and would not like to add to those comments at this juncture but when it comes to Bal Thackeray I know that he would not even have Modi’s intelligence to ensure that Bombay becomes anything good (in fact he will end up making it worse and miserable to live in), let alone the financial capital of India — you need a lot more intelligence to be able to deliver on development than just a need driven out of a desire for personal aggrandisement. That’s all Hitler was. That’s all Modi is. And that’s all that Bal Thackeray will ever be. And all three have blood on their hands, different centuries and different decades. And no amount of patriotism can ever surmount that unpalatable and irrevocable truth.

So I was very outraged when I came across a bit notice in one of the newspapers mentioning that an Indian was making a film on Hitler called My Friend Hitler (friend?!) because he thought Hitler had brought about India’s Independence. That, I should emphasise, is not just the glorification of a monster but the complete negation of India’s foundation of ahimsa, satyagraha and sadbhavna on which we have built our national ethos and which were the basis for our Independence, not some anti-Christ dictator taking the lives of a minority community somewhere far away in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.

That director should go back and read his history, particularly Mahatma Gandhi who had once most famously said that it was non-violence alone that was the weapon of the strong, seeming to work painfully slowly but there being nothing else that worked more surely or was more lasting. And that the roots of violence were wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice and politics without principles.

Unfortunately, all of those reasons he listed for violence are predominant in Indian society today. And that is why we cannot get over admiring the likes of Modi and Thackeray – or even Adolf Hitler!

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