Udtha Punjab takes the story of modernisation forward by depicting antiheroes as pawning their motherland, in the name of diaspora Punjabis, who bring back cultic forms of hip hop and addiction to cocaine to levels which are as huge as the opium wars of the 18th and 19th century. Who should we blame, ask the journalists, who follow the film maker, and with the typical courage of the Indian newspaper men and women, follow the real addicts to their various dens. The parallels between fiction and reality are extreme. Each one faces their God, the film maker seems to say, in some cases, it is science and rationality, in others it is their faith and optimism, and in yet others, it is their dealer. Mexico is the analogy, as the relation between the drug dealer and the State, whether the police or the politician is earmarked for special attention. It is interesting that television brought visuals of how rehabilitation centres in Punjab were involved in the trade in opiates, which were handed out to patients for helping them phase out, but infact were addictive too.
In Jamaica, Rastafarianism legitimates cannabis use, since it is freely available, and users refer to it as the gift of Ganga, brought to them by indentured labour. The memories of slaves from Africa and India combines in this friendly atmosphere of mutual recognition. Like Bill Clinton, it is impossible not to have inhaled in a country, where the very air is potent with marijuana. However, the inhabitants are not complaining, and what happens in Jamaica remains in Jamaica. An important musician, who had his hashish confiscated from him by a Policeman, was later returned it, because it was of such good quality, much to the amusement of both parties. The judgementality of good and evil is blurred in many cultures, because as a social given somethings may be permissible in some cultures and some may not. Cultic evil, cultic death, lodges of secret obsessive and violent behaviour are known in all cultures at all times. At New York Airport, I not only had to go through the body scan like everyone else, I was put through the most alarming check by a young police woman in a manner, which led me to ask her, “Aren’t your body scans efficient enough?”, but she prodded and pried in full public view, till I took off my sweater as well, and then, she said, after using a rubber mallet and gloves to check my body yet once again, and passing her gloves and tool through yet another scan, “You can go back to your normal life.” Oh New York! No residue on my skin, and I was sent on my way. Two women in Burkhas who had gone through the same treatment were collecting themselves in another corner, and one said to the other, in perfect European diction, “That was a very seminal examination!”
People feel cornered all the time, someone or the other is always targeting another. The feeling is so comprehensive, it can no longer go by the name of racism, or casteism or male chauvinism, since the women as representatives of any ideology can be very emphatic too. about their so called "agency".
One can imagine Gandhi refusing to be bullied by the coach inspector. There are many of us, who have gone from day to day, saying to the honey pot crusader, yes, you have an internet site from which you can hack anyone’s email id, but what the hell, you live in hell and so do I, so let’s just say, this is planet earth, and you are welcome! The most significant thing about hackers’ creative commons, is that their own fields are never accessible.
This tolerance for one another’s disadvantage is what makes mutual recognition possible. It is what makes us look at the smiling faces of assassins, who say they are doing what they do because the Lord told them, or because they feel called to do it, or it’s fun anyway. We no longer understand the rage of others, but we are moved by their ineptitude, because as very young people, caught up in one religious ideology or other, they leave such a trail of destruction behind, including their own corpses. Sociologists are trained to communicate to their students that God is a social construction, God is a social representation, when the Gods are forgotten, they die. Udtha Punjab with it’s loss of the sacred, it’s loss of the humane represents just such an entity. It shows a new generation born of the Green Revolution, either as migrant labour, or as a quasi propertied class being ransacked by it’s own incompetence. This is the generation that has spawned out of the hatred of the 1980s, and has victimised its own children by its boredom and it’s frustration. Whoever thought it would be the “white” (cock/coke as the film’s character Tony Singh puts it) cultural revolution that would kill Punjab and Haryana with its axes of being a remnant culture, where forms of feudalism would surface in new ways. Ideologies remain where they do, in the heads of people. The real truth is survival, and the codes would remain different for the people who agree to engage in some transaction. For the generation born in the euphoria of the 1950s, the culture of contemporary greed is by itself variegated, and requires its own analyses.