I felt compelled to write something as we turned 63. To be very honest, I think about my homeland a lot more when I'm away, and that's true for most people. As I started to write this without a proper plan in mind, the first thought that came to my mind was to write something about the person who comes to my mind whenever I think of the country or the national flag.
Gandhi, I suppose, would win the popular vote over here, especially among foreigners, to whom India still means the land of Gandhi (and of Mother Teresa). Whether Gandhi played a positive role in the history of our illustrious nation is still debatable; however, what cannot be denied is the fact that people all over the world hold him in an incredible esteem, and he's the perhaps the strongest representative of our nation to the world.
Buddha, the other strong candidate, might lose out on the ground that his birthplace is currently in Nepal; however, it cannot be denied that a substantial percentage of the world do celebrate his name, and the count is increasing with passage of time. If Gandhi remains the most recognised Indian face in the world, Buddha shall remain the most influential one.
On the other hand, if you really do consider the impact of an Indian individual in 2010, it would be hard to look beyond Sachin Tendulkar. Possibly the only name in the history of the nation to have been worshipped by all, irrespective of all the diversity you've read about in history books, Tendulkar is the only one for whom a millionaire stands next to a beggar outside a television shop and discuss the scores with equal enthusiasm. And then, there's the walk to the crease: I always get the feeling that an invisible tricolour is accompanying him to the centre, similar to the little one at the back of his helmet.
But no, none of the three is my Indian. Whenever I think of India, one, and only name comes to my mind: born Harikishan Giri Goswami, Manoj Kumar has exemplified Indian patriotism more than anyone else. We have dared to laugh at him, but he was relentless in directing and acting in independently and identically distributed films, one after the other, each one of them more patriotic than the previous one. He played a farmer and a soldier (of all professions, the jawaan and the kisaan possibly extract most emotions and drench most handkerchiefs) in Upkaar, and a patriot in almost all other movies he has acted in. He, more than anyone, is more Indian than anyone, even more Indian than Sunny Deol was in his magnum opus, Indian.
This video, extracted from Clerk, the only possible threat to Gunda's claim to the throne of unrivalled greatness is my tribute to his legacy.
BANNER CREDITS: RITUPARNA CHATTERJEE
A woman with the potential to make it big. It is not that she cannot: she simply will not.
PHOTO CREDITS: ANIESHA BRAHMA
The closest anyone has come to being an adopted daughter.