“Much Madness is divinest Sense –
To a discerning Eye –
Much Sense – the starkest Madness –
’Tis the Majority
In this, as all, prevail –
Assent – and you are sane –
Demur – you’re straightway dangerous –
And handled with a Chain ”
Nobody could have portrayed the madness of Dasarath Manjhi better than Nawazuddin Siddiqui. That’s what one felt as the film directed by Ketan Mehta ended.
To single-handedly break through a mountain with only a hammer and a long chisel and flatten it out to carve a 360 feet long road to remove the impasse that the villagers in Gehlour (near Gaya, Bihar) countered and to do it through a kind of insane obsession urged by the love he had for his wife who met with an accident while trying to manouvre herself through a narrow gap between the rocks , while carrying food and water to her husband working on the other side of the mountain… all that seems to be the kind of stuff myths are made up of. But this Alpha male was for real!!
He had laboured on for 22 long years and had died at the age of 73, his entire youth and energy having been dedicated to the road , now named after him. Nothing much has actually changed in that hamlet despite Manjhi’s story having found it’s way to mainstream media and in spite of it having caught the attention of the Government. The moosahari (so called because they ate rats) tribe stands somewhere quite low in the social heirarchy in Bihar and what is shown to have been meted out to them for generations cannot be too much of an exaggerated depiction. Reports say that there is a hospital there now on the land that was donated to Manjhi by the government. But the family of Dasarath Manjhi and his community is still in indigent conditions. And that is a shame!!
The film is powerful, the camera catching the terrain in all it’s formidability and it may yet be the best tribute to Manjhi’s spirit.
In the film, the character playing the journalist Alok Jha , who was responsible for breaking Manjhi’s story to the world outside Gehlour, asks Manjhi about what he felt after having achieved his goal . Manjhi replies that one should not always depend on something being done by God, for who knows God may be depending on you to do that something.
For sure Manjhi left no stone unturned.
Watch the film .
Watch this documentary to catch a glimpse of the real Manjhi