Wednesday, March 16, 2016

15. Race

No Abbas Mustan. No Bipasha, Saif, Anil Kapoor or Ameesha. Bollywood junkies, please excuse.

James Cleveland Owens had to sit in designated bus seats, live in segregated parts of town and endure taunts of his fellow countrymen. His success on the track meant nothing to many of them. He was a pariah. Till he became the symbol of anti-racism that his deeply racist country projected on to the world stage.
Race does a great job of presenting the dilemma of a black man in 1930s America. Should he protest against his country's racism and boycott the biggest stage his sport can get? Or should he participate and make a bigger statement?
No prizes for guessing what he chose but his dilemma came out exceedingly well. That and his obsessive desire to run!

I had read somewhere (was it an article by Sandipan Deb?) that many of our cricketing heroes survived almost by accident. Harbhajan Singh could have got slaughtered in 1984 and Irfan Pathan could have caught the wrong end of a sword in 2002. But they didn't and came together to form an invincible* team that is secular, patriotic and our biggest mood-lifter.
While I was watching Race, I felt this story was also somewhat similar and America should be grateful for the accident that - despite everything - Jesse Owens decided to run and not run away.

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