The Soldier’s Job

Republic Day India

Does the soldier really spend his time and energy pondering over whether or not Pakistani artists will feature in Indian films or not? Does he – who has the most crucial jobs in India – care as to which actor bags which role in which production? No. He continues to do his job. A job that he has chosen with full knowledge of the obstacles, setbacks and brickbats. I think a little less of this feeble squabbling could embolden and motivate him on this path.

My father was a War Veteran, having been part of the famed Killers of the 1971 Karachi Attack. He saw many more turmoils for more than 30 years after this war. Each time his silent passion was one of a soldier’s – of fierce belief in the Indian armed forces, an uncompromising patriotism that sought victory for justice rather jingoism and the omnipresent and omnipotent sense of humour that ensures a soldier’s survival in bleak times of strife. What else works, when you have a job that implies leaving your family behind to defend a million more? My father was in the middle of the sea, when he received news via radio that his mother had died.

Republic Day IndiaIn the face of all this debate, drama and viral vehemence of country coming first, professions and careers and commerce coming later, a soldier’s sense of humour would have him smile silently and make jokes on this mass in-communication. After the silencing by bombs, the buzzing all around is uncontrollable.

Who acts in what film: this determines solidarity. That’s how flimsy our idea of human progress is. Perhaps this saddens the soldier even more. That his people think campaigns to obliterate an actor’s next big fat cheque will create a radical change in a system that has no tally for peace at any level. The organisation, the industry that he works for has become a puppet in the hands of selfish people seeking personal gain.

Yet, withstanding government and organisations that can do precious little to resolve a 70-year-old conflict, the soldier would still like to just do his job and have everyone know that they need to continue to do theirs too. In the same manner of diligence and dedication that he does. Without much say as to what lies ahead – the prospect of another war, the beckon of duty amidst regular festivities, the family that has to standby now.

An actor will make a few calls and get many more roles, including that of a soldier’s. The soldier can make no calls, and has just one role – one that he can not dramatise. Let’s get on par with him and get real. Let’s get to the real issues and beyond the haziness of the reel ones. And if this seems far too much for us to do, let’s just stand up for the soldier, rather than anybody else now.

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