Monday, September 15, 2008

The Triumph of Evil

Ever since I can recall, every story I’ve heard, every book I read and every play and every film was about the triumph of Good over Evil.

Think about it. It’s the oldest, most-clichéd plot in the world. And continues to be spewed out. Orally, on papyrus, in print, celluloid, MS Word, whatever. Kalidas did it. Enid Blyton followed. Lee Falk, Ian Fleming, Ms Rowling, Javed Akhtar…

Even old Bill the Bard. Though he did make a feeble attempt in Mark Antony's speech after the assassination of Julius Caesar:

“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;”

But, eventually, even the playwright played to the galleries and allowed Good to triumph. Why is it that everyone follows the same safe path? Is it fear of rejection driven by commercial compulsion that compels literary works to pander to a populist, consuming class? Or is it an innate inability to accept that eventually it’s Evil that finally triumphs? And I’m not referring to the “…bad girls go places” line of thinking; even though it may be true :-)

Go back to every contest that’s been crafted on paper or stage or film where a hero faces a villain. And flash your well-conditioned mind back in a disruptive state to compare the characters in each of these works. While mothers will extol the virtues of Ram to little boys, it is actually the ten-headed Ravana who captures mindspace. As a character, Ram is as flat as a six-month old bottle of Kingfisher sold in a seedy Gurgaon booze shop. Ravana’s my man any day. So is Rastapopulous and Lady Macbeth and the villains of all the James Bond films… 007 is predictable, his enemies are wonderfully imaginative and surprisingly fiendish. Think of Darth Vader versus Luke Skywalker, the Clown versus Batman, Gabbar Singh and Vijay… why is it that we remember nuances, dialogues and faces of all these villains long after the chocolate-box heroes have faded away?

Is it because Good is uni-dimensional? It will always do the right thing and be sickeningly appealing in a pre-formulated manner. Good cannot do anything out of the ordinary, away from the predictable. The moment it breaks the pattern and the cliché, Good seems to cross over to the dark side.

And Evil is everything that good cannot be. Unpredictable. Deviously creative. It defies logic and follows no set path. Every villain is different from the rest; all comic-book heroes do the same old trick – and even end up wearing underpants outside their pants!

If, after all this effort to tell the world that Good is what triumphs, how come we remember the villains better? Why is it that the world talks so much about The Clown in Dark Knight and not Batman?

In fiction, Good may be victorious. In the mind, Evil wins.

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