Just went through a write up of Director Shekhar Kapoor titled “I am just so middle class”. Needless to say I found myself nodding along to what he had say. Yes, I am just so middle class too and I remain firmly in the middle class, both socially and financially, and the mindset, ergo, would be hardpressed to change. I am so middle class that I can bargain for right market price with raddiwala till I don't get convinced or buy vegetables with a doubtful mind may be the sabziwala is tampering with the weight and overcharging me or having a lots of clothes but still think twice before discarding when I find it is not in best but in a good condition. Well these are all middle class mentality but at the same time sensible also ,looking at zooming living cost today. But as Shekhar ji says Middle class is not always is a monetary judgement.Middle class is how you think, feel and make judgements about other people, but mostly about yourself. So I am ending here and switching over to his write up :
I am just so middle class.
Middle class is not always is a monetary judgement. Middle class is how you think, feel and make judgements about other people, but mostly about yourself. Middle class in India is a mindset. A mindset that looks for stability over enterprise. Continuity over change. A fear of that which could cause society to change.
Middle class is a fear of borrowing money. An arrogance of being debt free. Middle Class mindsets is what banks survive on. Taking low interest interest deposits from middle class mindsets, offerring them a false sense of security, and lending to those not imprisoned by the middle class mind set. Never mind that they would never pay it back.
I have always been Middle Class and struggled with it. For a while after the success of my films I flirted with the elite. I felt like the ball in the Pin Ball machine, bounced by one elitist group to another , unable to settle, and finally thrown back to where I belong. Mostly because inside me I felt I did not deserve it. Middle Class meant that you did not deserve to be extraordinary.
That was certainly true in my generation. We still meet and talk about how the nation has changed for the worse. Moralizing at those who, rightly or wrongly, morally or otherwise, proved to be game changers. In houses priced so far out of the range of anything we could afford now. For our parents built those houses when land was cheap and the speculators and real estate companies had not stepped in. At that time having house simply meant that. I cannot remember talk about increase in property value and assets.
The middle class. It meant knowing you were consigned to a high moral ground but otherwise to ordinariness. That you would forever be a job seeker than a job creator. That job creators in India were those that has thrown caution and morality to the winds. And actually turned out to be your employers ! Yet middle class meant seeking jobs in foreign multinationals, for their sins were unknown to you. They happened so far away that you assumed those sins did not exist.
Middle Class also meant a certain frugality. The Mochi came to repair your shoes, and you did not own more than a couple of pairs a year. You were not expected to. Too many clothes were considered flashy and consigned to the so called business community. In fact the business community was not even allowed to join the Delhi Gymkhana Club. Not till they became so rich that they bought their way in and pushed the Middle Class out ! The middle classes that rose in protest with Anna Hazare, were finally responding to the frustration of the nation changing beyond their comprehension.
I still struggle against my own middle class mindset.
Creativity to me is always a struggle to break my middle class boundaries and barriers. When I look back at Masoom, I realize that I was looking at my middle class moralities. I did not even realize it then.
And I am writing this from Venice, where I am the Chairman of one of the Juries of the film festival. See how strong the middle class mind set is ? For I am not sure I deserve being here.
I am sure hundreds will disagree with me, as they should. For I hope they are right. But I do ask them. Why is it that middle class boys and girls that went overseas were more prone to become entrepreneurs and game changers than those that never left the shores of India ? Would I ever have had the courage to break the shackles of being middle class if I had not gone to London to study ? Would I never have become a director if I stayed back in India ?
Who knows, but its a question I always ask myself.