If you've been on Facebook this weekend and happen to be an MITian, you must have heard or seen about the video "Hitler Being Told That MIT Manipal's Sutta Point Is Evicted".
The video in question is a parody of a notorious scene from the German language movie "Downfall", or "Der Untergang" which details the last days of Hitler's life as Berlin fell to the Soviet Army in the closing stages of WW2. The movie itself was critically acclaimed and earned a nomination for Academy Award For Best Foreign Language Film.
The film has a particularly powerful scene, where Hitler is told that his situation has become hopeless, and in his rage, proceeds to berate his top generals and finally realizes to his despair that he has all but lost the war. This scene has been subject to a huge number of parodies, as can be seen on YouTube. Famous parodies include, Hitler's reaction to Rebecca Black's "Friday", on Oasis's break-up, on being told the end to Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows beforehand, and so on and so forth. Feel free to browse YouTube to see these videos.
So, a few days back, a huge controversy had erupted on the MIT 2014 batch's Facebook Group. Apparently, one Vivek Khalko, had posted a petition urging the authorities to vacate Sutta Point, a location that happens to be beyond the toll-gate at Kamath Circle that features shops that sell cigarettes and cold drinks, among fast food items and others.
Now, I have not seen the post in question as it was deleted by the group's moderators. Why, you ask? Apparently, the post had become a wildfire of angry and abusive comments from other members, and I'm told that it virtually became a scenario of hundreds of ardent Sutta Point fans, against one person, who was bombarded with every maa-behen gaali known in the world. The comments were apparently so abusive, that Vivek has not posted in the group ever since.
Some of you among the readers might wonder, was the matter blown out of proportion? The real answer is, a big YES. Vivek might have just posted the thing to garner attention, as some insecure people tend to do on Facebook. For all I know, he would never have dared doing such a thing in real life. It would have made him a sitting duck for unabated ragging. Not that it hasn't by posting the petition. Quite a few members did not think in a calm and rational manner. Perhaps I'm exaggerating, but you never know when ragging, be it physical, mental, or cyber ragging, can go a bit too far.
Now, you might also feel a stab of pity and sympathy for Vivek. After all, smoking kills. No two ways about it. You may lead yourself to believe that Vivek was just a person with his heart in the right place, who didn't have his brains set right. I too had this sentiment, until I got the biggest shock of my life. Vivek had apparently been caught smoking in the hostel on an earlier occasion. And a notice regarding the same was posted on Facebook. Yes, Vivek, it was pretty hypocritical of you, but that still doesn't mean that people had to bully you and batter your self confidence, if you had any, into a pulp. Nothing ever justifies prolonged bullying, no matter how stupid or unpopular a person may be. But nothing justifies the stupidity of your decision to post the petition either. It was a classic situation of "Aa Bail, Mujhe Maar".
You may think that I'm also being a hypocrite by defending Vivek while having made the video at the same time. Let me explain. All this halla had inspired me to create a parody of a hypothetical situation- God forbid, what if the higher-ups actually had SP shut down? What would people do then? To capture this rage of an average MITian, although in a humorous way, I decided to make my very own "Downfall" parody with Hitler as an MITian. I spent six hours in total, getting the raw video and then deciding the script, toning down the offensive nature of the video while keeping the humor intact, and then burning the subtitles, and posted the video on Facebook, just to make people take a chill pill. What I didn't expect was the video to get this wildly popular, and lead to all the praise it has gotten.
Let me make myself clear. I am a non-smoker, but I am an ardent fan of Sutta Point, only because of some hare-brained policies that led to cold drinks getting banned from within the MIT campus, combined with the bad food at the Food Court, leading to Sutta Point being the only shop that sells Cold-drinks and fast food at a decent price within a reasonable distance of the campus. And besides, what was the point in closing it down, for all I knew it would take another one or two months for a new shop to come in its place. Besides that, SP is an icon of all things MITian, where countless generations of MITians had their smokes, cold drinks, puffs, and had their routine gup-shup after a long day's classes. It would be a shame if no one ever let shops stand where Sutta Point does now.
Also, I'm a member of the school of thought that humor is the best medicine. Any situation can be defused with humor, provided that it is in the right taste. The video is not only meant to poke fun at Vivek's stupidity, but also the rabid over-reactions of some of the persons who went overboard in abusing Vivek. Both sides might want to claim that India is a country where freedom of expression is a fundamental right. Yes guys, freedom of expression is a right, but don't swing ur hands wildly and hit a person in the process. Be mindful of the other person's sensitivities. Non-smokers, don't hang around with smokers if the smell offends you, or whatever. Smokers, don't get worked up, and blow smoke onto others faces. Shoving your ideas down the other sides mouth never works. It's not a perfect world, but Live and Let Live is a better approach than pointless comment-wars and abuse.
To conclude, Vivek, I do not know who you are, nor do I want to. My prayers are with you, and I hope sincerely that you survive the remaining three years of college life that are ahead of you.