Swatantrya Veer Savarkar: Exposing Sub-Colonial Perspectives of Colonial Agenda

Swatantrya Veer Savarkar: Exposing Sub-Colonial Perspectives of Colonial Agenda

While the ritualistic and performative semiotics of Gandhian non-violence gained immense popularity, the heroes of the armed struggle had to fight the British as well as the cold-shouldered moderates

Prasanna Deshpande Avi SharmaUpdated: Tuesday, April 02, 2024, 10:10 PM IST
article-image
Randeep Hooda in Swatantrya Veer Savarkar |

Perspectives unmake and visions make the world. That India gained independence primarily because the doctrine of non-violence is a perspective substantiated by historians, but the truthful vision of collective participation of those who executed armed struggle always remained on the periphery of historiography as a saga of misled patriots. The mainstream narrative of the success of the Indian Independence movement is founded on the perspective of gauged up charisma and projected efficacy of the so-called non-violence ideal. It was injected in the collective consciousness of the Independence-seeking multitudinous Indians who lived in those times. MK Gandhi appropriated the Indian doctrine of ahimsa while benchmarking different titles of Bapu, Rashtrapita and Mahatma. He became the obvious hero of politically manoeuvred narratives of the Indian struggle of Independence. In the post-Tilak era, Gandhi’s leadership, posed by the then British rulers of India as the only acceptable Indian leadership, counter-produced a historiography-driven oblivion and atrophy of the revolutionaries and other freedom fighters. These revolutionaries did not consider the tactics of the armed struggle, risking their lives, as an evil act. While the vision of history is a testament to the historically relevant political pragmatism of the revolutionaries, the exclusivist perspective of historiography which exalted Gandhian non-violence as the sole saviour of Indians subjugated under the British rule evaded the revolutionaries’ just, pragmatic and rational response to colonial dominion. In this political-historiographical schema of colonial rulers and their emissaries, Indian revolutionaries were not only denigrated and disowned, but their martyrdom was disparaged. Post-1947, the Anglophile sub-colonial emissaries continued with this anachronistic animosity against revolutionaries. In independent India, public display of respect for the altruistic and ideological legacy has been a target of this predatory animosity.

The sub-colonial narrative of the supposed political de-colonisation procured, invented, adapted and appropriated a semiotic trajectory of charkha, the staff, the prayers and releasing pigeons. While the ritualistic and performative semiotics of Gandhian non-violence gained immense popularity, the heroes of the armed struggle had to fight the British as well as the cold-shouldered moderates. On the other hand, the semiotic trajectory of the revolutionary struggle for independence was either misrepresented or misconstrued as extremism. The revolutionaries were denigrated and were compelled to feel guilty about the need for an armed revolution. Whereas, the semiotics of “bina khadag, bina dhaal” were established in the popular imagination leading to a performative deification of Gandhi. The performativity of this Gandhian ahimsa narrative was concretised by rituals such as dandi march, hunger strikes and prayers. Post-independence, decisive agents of popular culture, academic narrative and institutional machinery atrophied the revolutionary vision of Indian independence struggle and propagated a pacifist-idealist historiographic perspective of freedom struggle. The post-Independence generations, due to this historical amnesia and interpolated collective memory, never truly understood how we as a nation earned our independence. Such people are akin to a bedazzled baboon who looks at the sky with twinkling eyes (yet no vision) and wonders how we received our freedom from the sant of Sabarmati who did a miracle (kamaal). Indeed, India won independence against British rule not without ‘Khadga’ or without ‘Dhaal’ but with a precisely penetrating tactic of armed revolution. Unfortunately, this holistic vision of the efficacy of armed struggle for independence could never become the insight for many generations born in the post-Independence period. Sadly, these generations only received this knowledge as nonchalant Indians for whom the manifestation of the vigour, strength and power of the revolutionaries, who lost their precious lives, only remained as misled and wayward extremists.

The latest release of Swatantrya Veer Savarkar, which is not just a film but a long-awaited breakthrough facilitating the vision of the Indian Independence Movement, has turned the tables with its extremely revealing historical footprints of Savarkar, revolutionaries of the India House and Abhinav Bharat, and Gandhi as well. Tons of congratulations to Randeep Hooda and the crew of the film for exposing this colonially-driven selective tradition of politically glorified hero-worship of the mainstream heroes of the freedom movement. The entire movie is a brilliant persuasion of a single idea, which Savarkar breathed and lived — “The perspective needs to be changed” (Drishtikon Badalna Hai). Initially it appears that the movie might only manage to narrativise the conflict between the moderates and the so-called extremists by showcasing the battle of perspectives among the seekers of freedom. Yet, as it leads, we are driven into an extremely engaging revelation of the massive discrepancy between a perspective and a vision. After all, the Drishtikon, that is point of view, only offers a limited view of the entire reality whereas the 360-degree view of the reality alone can offer a vision. Needless to say, the reality of Savarkar’s heart-rending tortures and ordeals are no perspectives of history, nor are the life-sacrificing acts of the revolutionaries a mere impulsive breakthrough of misled extremists. The entire movie is a wonderful array of persuasive retelling of the manifestation, consolidation and execution of strength, bravery, courage and power of the revolutionaries who consciously chose the path of waging a war against the oppressive foreign rulers who had become the enemies of Indians for the sheer want of a mind-freezing and brutally executed expansionist agenda of colonial dominion of India. Only the politically conceived perspectives of freedom struggle do not make a nation. They may be utilised to contextualise national character in the backdrop of struggle against colonial rule. Yet, the truthful vision of history can alone build a strong foundation of civilisational as well as national character. Randeep Hooda has not only succeeded in showcasing the change in drishtikon of history, he has also changed the way the Indian film industry understands our history. As for Swatantrya Veer Savarkar, the nation bows before this combative visionary one more time for his vision of India’s selfhood as an undefeatable leader.


Prasanna Deshpande is Associate Professor, Fergusson College, Pune. Avi Sharma is Assistant Professor, DES Pune University, Pune

RECENT STORIES

Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Voter Turnout Decline in Western Uttar Pradesh Raises...

Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Voter Turnout Decline in Western Uttar Pradesh Raises...

Analysis: The Climate Finance Conundrum

Analysis: The Climate Finance Conundrum

Analysis: Public Concerns Over EVMs Must Be Heeded

Analysis: Public Concerns Over EVMs Must Be Heeded

Editorial: Tackling Climate Change Has To Be On Political Agendas

Editorial: Tackling Climate Change Has To Be On Political Agendas

Editorial: Dubai’s Underbelly Exposed

Editorial: Dubai’s Underbelly Exposed