I am here in Chennai to meet Shridhar for the last time. Went to his house last night to meet his family who are in shock and grief. As he lay in the centre of the gathering he looked peaceful, almost as if he were just asleep. I met his parents, brothers, wife and sons who were all very dignified in their moment of deep pain.
Shridhar was one of the finest technicians of our industry and a dear friend. We have worked together a number of times, and very closely during Lagaan. He did the final mix of the film, which is the last and most crucial creative process in film making. A close associate of A.R., he has worked together with him on a majority of his songs and background scores. In fact he was in A.R.ís studio until 4am yesterday morning working with A.R. and Murgadoss on our film. By around 8.30am he had passed away in his sleep.
The sudden news of his most untimely death came to me yesterday morning when I was still trying to pull myself out of the depressive state of mind I had slid into post the attacks on Mumbai. It left me shattered.
As I had expected various politicians have tried to use this traumatic and tragic attack to their advantage. I only hope that people see through them this time.
Quite clearly both the major political parties have failed to tackle terrorism. There have been repeated attacks on us during both their reigns which neither has been able to either anticipate or deal with well. While what happened in Mumbai recently clearly exposes the incompetence of the Congress, the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight 814 during the BJP rule shows them in even worse light. They actually NEGOTIATED with the terrorists and RELEASED 3 dreaded terrorists from Indian jails. All the 5 hijackers and the 3 terrorists released from India by the then BJP government were allowed to escape to attack us another day.
I think the first lesson to learn from this is that we MUST NOT NEGOTIATE. No matter what, the next time round around, and lets not fool ourselves we must be alert and prepared for more attacks, we MUST NOT NEGOTIATE. All potential terrorists must get a very clear message that INDIA DOES NOT NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS. What that means is, that in the future if there is a situation where me or my kids are held hostage by a bunch of terrorists then I must be prepared to tell our government - to hell with me and my children just go in there and kill the terrorists. I am prepared to sacrifice myself and my loved ones for the larger safety and security of the country but DO NOT LISTEN TO AND NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS.
I personally hold both these political parties, and in fact other regional political parties across the country, responsible in one way or the other, for fueling terrorism in the first place. And please remember that the definition of terrorism is not restricted to AK 47 toting maniacs. It includes the spread of terror by other means like stone throwing, beating up of innocent people on the roads, and rioting, etc. Any means, in fact, to spread terror in the hearts of ordinary citizens.
The other important thing we need to remind ourselves in this time of anger and hurt is to stay calm and take sensible steps, and not give in to thoughtless knee jerk reactions. I heard someone say on television that we should all stop paying our taxes as a show of protest. Havenít heard of a more silly idea than that. If we stop paying our taxes then we wonít have an army and NSG to save us next time around!!! Instead we should all START PAYING OUR TAXES. We demand so much of our leaders but are we fulfilling our basic responsibility? Can we say with honesty that as citizens of our country we are all honestly paying our taxes? If we are not paying our taxes can we blame the government for being inefficient? If we are corrupt then how can we expect our politicians to be honest?
I have a very important thing to say to all the various people going around arbitrarily throwing accusations at the politicians. These politicians are not from Jupiter or Mars, they are one of us, from our very own society, selected by us through a democratic process. So now think for a moment, who really is to blame? We can only blame ourselves guys. Half of us donít go to vote. The half that does vote has selected these guys.
In my opinion, you really want to change things? Change yourself. Each one of us needs to take a very honest look inwards and rectify and work on what we think is wrong with us. If each one of us does that individually then there will be a sea change in our society at large. I have to promise myself that I will not be corrupt, will play my role in society with honesty and sincerity. Doctors, lawyers, judges, people in the IAS, police force, media persons, businessmen, job workers, labour force, everyone. We have to stop thinking of our own individual gain and loss and do what is honest, true and right, and think collective. It calls for personal sacrifice in this time of chaos but from chaos will emerge clarity. Even if we donít manage to achieve this for ourselves we will achieve it for our children.
What I would really like to see emerge from all this is the youth of this country starting a political party. A group that stands for strong, clean, honest and fresh leadership. A group that we can all support.
And finally, if we really want to make sure that terrorists fail in achieving their end, then these terror attacks should not take us towards hate but instead towards love. If we react with hate we are succumbing to these terror attacks, and if we react with increasing love and peace in our hearts then we squarely defeat the terrorists. Allowing love, peace and trust to grow within us is not a sign of weakness but a sign of immense strength.
With appreciation and gratitude to the security forces who acted with courage, and with a prayer in my heart for those departed.