Of Leitmotifs and Offensive Notes
“Leitmotif”- the word is partly self-explanatory thanks to the presence of “motif”, which refers to something that has symbolic significance or a theme or a salient character. A recurring musical theme is called a “Leitmotif”, it is also used in the context of recurring themes that are associated with people or ideologies.
For instance, minority victimhood is the “leitmotif” of the Red Gang, referring to the idea of “India” in exasperated derision for the benefit of her brethren in the Valley (are we sure the feelings are filial?
Don’t we all know how “complicated” and “forbidden” the feelings of the fraternal twins Rahel and Estha were?) is the leitmotif of the creator of Ammu, Rahel and Estha (Oh you know, Ms. “A” Roy of course, of the “dark triangle” fame). Some would say excessive abuse of alarmist hyperbole regardless of the issue, too is one of her leitmotifs. But come on, let’s be fair, she has to remain visible after all, since her books are not worth being counterfeited anymore.
Inflating the figures of Gujarat riot victims and falsifying affidavits before the Highest Court of the Land are the leitmotifs of the “syncretic couple”, Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand.
Representing the “Urban, Secular, Moderate, Educated and Chic (please feel free to add any encomium(s) of your choice)” faces of the “victimised minority” is the leitmotif of the super-couple from Bollywood, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar (let’s give them a Brangelina-esque portmanteau and call them “Sha-ved”).
Calling Lord Rama a thief and painting the most vulgar verbal caricatures of the Gods in the Hindu Pantheon is the leitmotif of the Grand Old Man of Tamizh Naad (my apologies, its “Tamil Nadu” for the linguistically challenged). I am sure the man, who is verily the reservoir of kindness, would love to be oh so kind to some of his “iftaar brothers” by passing a snide comment or two about Hindu Gods and Goddesses just to warm the cockles of their hearts and make their day.
This gentleman’s virtuosity in painting obscene verbal caricatures of Hindu Gods is matched in its zeal and effectiveness in offending the impotent sentiments of the majority, only by the fluid strokes of that “misunderstood” and sadistically-gifted wielder of the brush- Peace Be Upon Him “M” “F” Hussain (please do not be vulgar- “M” and “F” stand for Maqbool Fida)
Painting Mr.Pramod Muthalik and the successors of Dr.Keshav Baliram Hedgewar with the same brush and pejoratively branding them all “the Saffron Brigade/the Sangh Parivar” is the leitmotif of Ms.Radhika Roy’s miserable half, and the face of the Radia Tapes- Ms. Barkha “I will never forget my duty to my alma mater Jamia Milia Islamia” Dutt. One would think it isn’t brain surgery to separate the stallion from the jack (FYI, “jackass” is a pleonasm) but then, why am I even looking for integrity, depth and patriotism from the stalwarts of an opportunistic elitist anti-Bharat clique?
That’s beside the point, my apologies for the digression.
I don’t think I have made my point yet, I refer of course to demystification of the word “leitmotif” in simple words using relatable illustrations and characters. Oh how dare I forget the “Aryan Invasion Theory” and “5000 years ago fair-skinned central Asian tribes invaded India on horse-back” leitmotif of the Two-time Padma Bhushan declinee Ms.Romila Thapar? And Mr.Irfan Habib?
Another classic example of a “leitmotif” would be the caricature of all “right-wing” Hindus as fascists and assassins of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the barely-veiled suggestion being that “conservative Hindu” and “assassin of Gandhi” can never be mutually exclusive. So much for democracy and diversity of ideas/”wings”…
The latest example of a leitmotif would be the generous use of the non-existent bogey of “Hindu Terror” by Diggy Raja and his chum from Chettinad, Mr. Chi-Tam-Brahm. By the way, the credit for the wordplay “Chi-Tam-Brahm” goes to E.V.Ramaswamy Naicker’s ardent disciple and devotee Padmashri Kamal Haasan‘s character “Christian Fletcher” in the movie Dasavathaaram when he refers to the Temple Town of Chidambaram as “Chi-Tam-Brahm”.I am sure it was a coincidence or my ears were acting up as usual.
Trivia of the day- both Ramaswamy and his Bhakta Kamal Haasan hail from devout Vaishnavite families. Narayana Narayana…
Thanks to this late hour, I think I have run out of examples for “leitmotif”, but I am sure by now our readers would have caught the drift. It would be wonderful to hear and read a few illustrations of “leitmotifs” from our readers, just so that I know that I was at least partially successfully in explaining the import of the word.