Recent bollywood flick 3 idiots, was a mega hit because it had a message. Message that whole nation loved it. Nation laughed, cried, wowed that at last the movie had finally convinced them of a message that we as nation are the idiots. Idiots because all our achievements, success, happiness is measured in terms of numbers.
But I am not sure if this euphoria of the message had any impact on our minds. I believe that we as nation are obsessed with number. And so deep is our obsession that we may not even realize its cultural, social or psychological implication.
Our TV channels gives us a list of top 10 of everything. From top 10 stocks to top 10 brands to top 10cricketers, and top 10 stars. You give them a category and they will number it for you. Everything is numbered. Graded and evaluated with a verdict. And don't we love the stories of happy verdict?
Take the case of cricket which is like a religion in India. How many times we have heard that Tendular's is number one cricket player in the world. No one doubts or disputes that. But to make you beleive that he is the number one cricketer, an endless statistical data is given to prove his position. Does this mean that if Tendulkar had scored less centuries he would have been lesser significant player? Or those other players who have not scored as much as Tendulkar are of no significance. And what if tomorrow any other cricketer scores more centuries than Tendulkar? Does he becomes less successful or even his achievement get stunted by some one else's success? Why our ideas of greatness or success are linked with numbers ?
I think this whole number game is not only ridiculous but dangerous for the society. And what frightens me is, as I see, that no other nation indulges in such games as much as we Indians do.
Height of this ridiculous game was the recent grading of the contemporary artists of India in the leading national daily. 25 artists were named to be the 'top' artists of India. Newspaper took the' informed' views of the so called panelists such as collectors, art enthusiast, critics, and those who had contributed articles for the issue and created top 25 names, which was topped by M.F. Hussain. Of course news paper did not give what was the criteria, methodology used in compiling the list . Obviously it was just opinionated list of the few people . What came a s a surprise was how can we judge Ravi Varma's contribution as against Souza's ? How can we measure Abanindranath Tagore with Nalini Malini by the same yard stick? and how can we say Subodh Gupta is more significant than Nandal Bose or Somnath Hore?
I have no intention to take away the success of any of the artist mentioned in the list. But what I am objecting is the way they have been listed and graded as number 1,2,3.... To number the artists in such manner is not only creating another faulty system( Already the Indian art world is debating the phenomena of price=value and its impact on the artistic merit) but to undermine the whole intellectual and creative process of art making that each artist has contributed to the Indian art . It is again a trap to limit the whole debate of art process to few individuals and issues. Such trends can only contract the canvas of possibilities of ingenious artistic processes, in terms of success and failures. And this is frightening.
Finally what do we achieve by creating such a number game?
Or does this only prove that we as nation are the idiots... Let Amir have his last laugh!