Bicycle Thief or Birju?

Indians are very emotional beings. No point in proving it because it stands proven in every action of ours, whether it is a concerned Patil criticizing terror attacks on prime time television or Lalu criticizing Patil himself for his soft stand on terrorism. Both exhibit perfect streams of emotions for their position and votes respectively. Thus one fine day when I decided to drown myself into melancholy stories of poor helpless men turning into bad men, Birju clicked with me instantly. Even Ricci was almost fine if one keeps in view the fact that this actor was no actor rather a factory worker whom Vittorio De Sica chose to play an angry young man who turns bad .

But still, Ricci failed to make me cry which I did amply for Birju. Don’t term me as a jingoist but I cannot deny that Bollywood teaches better how to wipe off tears while still maintaining the vision.
The Bicycle Thief is a neorealist film based on the depression facing Italy post World War-II. It is story of a poor man with responsibility of nourishing a family of four, who gets a job only because he has a bicycle which gets stolen. After searching around for it in the entire Rome, he finally settles to steal one himself and turns the famous ‘Bicycle thief’ or Ladri di biciclette. Compare this to Mother India, a film centered on Nargis as a tough woman who sails through hard waters to bring up her two sons one of whom turns into a plunderer to avenge her mother

While making The Bicycle Thief director has included all the points, which seem to shake human conscience but such is the way of their inclusion that they look more pasted than involved. Infact, the story could have done better without them. But Mother India is perfect from the first scene to last scene and shakes you at every right moment.

Shamu searching for chances to make love to Radha is far more romantic then Ricci forcing his way on Maria. In the same way Ricci treating his child with pizza and wine cannot compare with Radha searching for food from under the flood ridden land while trying to protect her sanctity from the moneylender at the same time.

The way Mehboob has told the story is just about perfect. Even Bicycle Thief is a great story especially if one keeps the time span in view because a movie based on a single day in a very ordinary person’s life cannot be better than this. What Mother India does in so many frames Bicycle Thief has done in one-third of it. What it just didn’t do is that it did not manage to evoke sympathy for the protagonist. Events happen as if they had to happen. Screenplay is nothing but like metro, which never takes a turn.

If one terms me a Bollywood addict, no issues with that but just for once see both of them and even you will realize the same. Maybe we Indians are so used to our usual stuff that nothing could make us cry except the hero dying in his mother’s arms. And yes nobody dies in The Bicycle Thief. The only satisfaction I have after seeing them is that if Mother India didn’t win the Oscar then even The Bicycle Thief didn’t.

Monica Verma

[Image Source:]