Do you remember the answer Chantigadu gives to Suchitra aka Suchi when she says that she is the daughter of Police Commissioner as a way of warning the hero of the consequences of stalking her? Don't commissioners' daughters get married? won't they get spouses? Pat comes his response. This exchange may look like a hero elevation scene with a sharp punch dialogue. What most missed here is the (pop)cultural significance this scene holds. It is the beginning of a true-blue Puri Jagannadh hero.
To call Puri Jagannadh films cultural phenomena is an understatement. If not all, some of his films represented the change in the attitude of society, especially the lower-middle-class youngsters. With the opportunities pouring in, and the world - open before them, there is nothing like elite and privilege. It’s all about ability. Surprisingly for often scoffed at characters by the so-called elite critics, Puri Jagannadh heroes epitomized integrity and courage. Courage, all right! Integrity which forms an integral part of his heroes.
Three of his heroes - Chantigadu from Idiot, Pandugadu from Pokiri, and Ustad iSmart Shankar - represent these values that society must value in these changing times. While other filmmakers, who, in general, made films about society have shown protagonists as people they are, Puri’s heroes are always represented as people they should be. An undercurrent but loud satirical tone is often the mask they wear. Yet still, they are the men who upheld the values we must all aspire for. Let’s see this by decoding Puri Jagannadh’s Scamp Heroes. It’s all about Puri Jagannadh’s Scamp Trilogy.
What Is This Scamp Trilogy?
Unlike traditional trilogies where the stories of each film interconnected, this is a trilogy where the protagonists share the same spirit - about life, love, and everything. They are rugged. They are carefree. They appear careless on the surface. They are the alpha males. They are labeled rogues. Scamps. And are mistaken for Alpha Males. But they have moral integrity and a consistent philosophy of life of their own. And they are courageous and believe in the motto Never Fear!
- As long as we value our values, we'll get value as a human being, at least.
- If you lose your values, you lose value as a human being.
- Values and integrity are of foremost importance in one's life. Especially in these changing times.
He is the man. A man of integrity. His moves may appear aimless. He may appear careless. But he has an internal logic behind his every action. He is a quick thinker. So much so that... when his friends tell him about the girl who saved his life, he decided her thought process and decided then and there that she is the right person for him. Not just for him. But also for his family of three which contains still fashionable father character who always scolds the scamp of a hero. And still a fashionable mother. Who always supports the son no matter what. And then there is the ever helping sister.
Whatever his father might say about his son and the number of times he scolds his son, deep down he knows what his son is and is capable of. Why? Integrity.
What is integrity? You may ask.
The Oxford Dictionary gives three definitions.
- The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
- The state of being whole and undivided.
- Having internal consistency and lack of corruption
Being a youngster, or by design itself, Chantigadu is aggressive, may appear arrogant. But he has values. He knows his strengths and weaknesses. Yet, he fights without flight. Take, for example, the way he punishes the inspector who insults his father before his eyes at his home. The love for his father is unmitigated. Whatever counter he may give his father in all matters, but when it comes to his honor and self-respect, Chantigadu never compromises.
And his love for his girl Such is also the same. Whole and undivided. Deep down he knows that Suchi knows his integrity and she loves him subconsciously. Not because of the Stockholm Syndrome. She knows deep down who Chantigadu is and it is a cerebral rendezvous that was the route cause of their love for each other. The jumping from the building setpiece is just the threshold point their love has to cross. From then onwards, it is all love. Unbound love. I Do Ishq Only Tum Se!
It is no surprise that by the end of the film we know Chantigadu who is actually very capable in his studies becomes an IPS officer. To weed out the criminals. To be an agriculturist.
For the Society
After solving his personal life, or even sorting out his personal life, Puri Jagan's scamp's next logical step is to sort out society. Of weeding out those who are not needed. The criminals. Those who kill the spirit of society.
Here the Pandugadus never hesitate to act. When something is in grave danger, the first thing anyone has to do is to act. Puri Jagannadh's Scamp's act. Because they can think on their own feet and can think quick. They are so capable that they can take decisions quick. After all, decisions are made quick. The more important the decision, the quicker. They act beyond the system. They don't need the system. But they uphold their values and never lose their integrity. That's the reason Pandugadu's father is so proud of him. Just like Chantigadu's father was and should.
The best characteristic feature of both Chantigadu and Pandugadu is they know themselves inside out. The man who knows himself inside out is the only one who is capable of giving. A state of unprecedented Nirvana. Then comes Aham Brahmasmi!
Enter iSmart Shankar!
... And A Phenomenon
iSmart Shankar is not at all Puri Jagnnadh's best film. We couldn't even say (as true fans who should be as honest as puri's heroes know) he's back! But he has completed the Scamp Trilogy. With iSmart Shankar. The Siva. And The Shankara. It takes time to sink the feeling of what has happened at the box office. And like the actors who played Ustaad iSmart Shankar's brothers-in-spirit - Chantigadu and Pandugadu - Puri Jagannadh reinvented the wheel for the actor who played the role.
It is not about how the heroes are portrayed that matter. After all, cinema is business and many things run through the minds of the makers. It is only at the end of the chain, i. e. at the moment they know the box office success of the film the makers could relax. It is about the spirit that Puri's Scamp heroes carry and the way they uphold their values and integrity that matters.
After all (of course, again!), as Ayn Rand says...
Art is the selective recreation of reality according to the artist's metaphysical value-judgments.