Sunday, July 6, 2014

Understanding "The Godfather"!

“Every man measures his own greed.” …Mario Puzo.
Recently one of my good friends read the Mario Puzo's all time great “The Godfather” & shared her views with me about the novel. Well, a diehard fan of the character, the sharing started wheels of my thought process about the novel & more about the character. In last thirty years I have read it at least fifteen times & finally I am at level where I say I am fan of the character & not the follower! Now I am at the stage where I can understand the difference between being a fan of a character & being a follower of the same. It has had great impact on me & it’s been reflected on many fronts of my work as for Godfather rarely anything was personal than his self pride! Here is some outcome of the churning of my thought wheel...

The Godfather!

The name itself brings image of a man in our mind that is matured, wise, caring yet extremely ruthless, calculated & who loves to have everything around him under his sole control! He pretends to fear the God yet tries to be one by himself for the people who are around him. In Christen Religion Godfather is the person named after, at the time of Baptismal & who becomes your life time care taker. But the term has been wrongly taken up by the Mafia Lords as it seems to be the best cover or mask under which they could get sympathy of common man.

I read the novel at age of thirteen & it may be very wrong age to read such stuff! As any philosophy to adopt it without understanding both sides of it is a danger, especially "Everything in this world is at sale, one should know the price" types! And once you know the price of the sale then comes, another one, "I will give him such a offer which he won’t be able to refuse"! Well very impressive logic to survive in the world but then one has to know every deal has two sides, same way every offer has two ends. When you say everything has a price then that means you are ready to pay any price to buy that piece! When you say I will offer him which he won’t be able to refuse means you are ready to offer whatever you have or even whatever you don’t have! But you will see that he gets whatever you have offered. Why a kid but even how many grownups can understand the real danger in this deal or offer is the main question! The Godfathers’ offer is not a threat to the other person but in a way it’s a threat to him as he can & he will go to any level to make the deal he wants to do.
He is caring & affectionate yet when it comes to kill even his close ones he justifies it as removing gangrened part of the body! But then who else but he himself decides the extent & existence of gangrene! If every one of us starts to be a Godfather then that will be a barbarian age again; as at the end it’s the powerful & most ruthless will rule. Yet he is smart enough to comaflauge his all these acts under the term of peace for the common man. Isn’t every ruler in the world has said same thing justifying the wars which has take lives of millions? But then that’s the success of Godfathers’ character as he represents desire of maximum living men around. I have delebretly used the term men, as women never has liked Godfather as a character. It’s the nature’s difference between the gender of man & woman which isn’t just physical but is more mental & in attitude towards the life. Where on one side every man will love to be a Godfather, but not many women will love the idea leave apart becoming one! As ruthless a lady can be much more than a man but it’s for some cause or purpose. No way can a woman be by nature ruthless just to rule the world around is what my personal thinking is & history proves me right. A woman may want to rule every man around but her ways will be different surely not the Godfather way, call it wisdom or foolishness of the lady! Though there always are some exceptions but we are speaking on general category.
The caring & loving side of the Godfather projects him larger than the God for those who are under his awe. He can go to any level to protect those who he considers his own but somewhere in the back of his mind which is like a balance sheet, keeps record of every smallest of this protection act. There is a famous saying in Hindi, "Bhagwan ke ghar der hai par andher nahi" which means God does delivers justice, may be bit delayed but he always does. Here with Godfather there is instant justice but the cost of that justice is also there; one may have to pay it after years or one may not ever but its surely there. Nothing comes free with a person like Godfather as the man for who there is a price for everything, how his services can be free!

Yet some where Godfather is dearer to many than the system in which we live & it is because the system has failed to deliver as per the expectation of the common man! Godfather has emerged now nearly fifty years back but unfortunately we haven’t learned anything from the success of the Godfather that in actual its defeat of the entire society that we need a Godfather around to protect us & give us justice. Rather the term Godfather is so common that right from Politics to Business to Bollywood, everywhere we hear the term very frequently & many successful people admits that they are there because of their Godfather! Well they even may not know the meaning of what actually Godfather means, yet the essence is same. We are losing faith is our own capabilities & the system & don’t believe that something like natural justice exists & that’s why we need a Godfather for us to succeed.  Actually the Godfather didn’t have any Godfather for himself, he became one as he saw the opportunity of being one by himself. The Godfather characteristics one can’t acquire, they have to be within us & it only surfaces when they see an opportunity for the same. By acquiring one can’t ever be as cunning or ruthless & calculative about everything like the Godfather is; a person is born with these. It’s an attitude which becomes a philosophy of life once you accept those principles for living.

Though something has to be admired about the Godfather & that’s the importance of running an administration for the business he is in. His strong belief in the system & understanding of his own business which is crime in actual. He knows the importance of commitments & gives everything to follow them. He knows that once you fail in following your own commitment then you fall down in the eyes of your customer & for him every person around may it be his own lieutenants or the dealers or the system’s officers he dealt with even the common men who comes to him for seeking justice. He will think twice before committing & once he commits then stays committed to that!

Another important aspect of his character is though his business is crime yet he understood the thin line between right & wrong rather I will say wrong & more wrong! As while saying no to the huge profit making business of drugs, he takes the cover of a social cause of threat of damaging the whole young genre of the society with addiction; but real reason is he knew by entering in that business he will be in bad book of the parents of those kids, which is in a way killing the image of the Godfather. This I consider as understanding the risks & having wisdom as well courage to give up your desire to earn more money. I have seen many top guns in the business who has miserably failed due to their over greed & ruined their well running business in chasing up something more profitable! This is sure an eye opener for any businessman who is already successful in whatever he is doing & with good image of his own. This is in a way realization of our own capacities & limitations also which very few are capable of! And then keeping public relations & never forgetting to pay the tribute to those who has served him & that too at right time, is one fine quality which makes him special in the eyes of people.

Long back my one good friend once asked me over a debate on the character & his ways of money earning, that if there is a robber who is very wealthy & has earned a lot in his business which obviously is crime; and the village he comes from needs a hospital. So if he offers to take on responsibility of all the funding required for the hospital & without any expectation such as of even naming the hospital by his name, shall the villagers accept it? Till today I am unable to reply firmly, as the hospital is a sure need for the village but then is it right to accept the money which has been generated by looting the people. On the other hand what better use from the looted money can be there if not hospital! Well the dilemma is same while accepting Godfather as a philosophy

Lastly something very interesting, friends do you know Marlon Brando who played the character in the epic movie based on the novel Godfather, by same name, refused to accept the Oscar for his role because he didn’t want to promote the glorification of crime! Well again like the question asked by my friend about the robber & the temple, I am not sure what Brando did is right or wrong, yet the act suggests that The Godfather wasn’t perfect after all!

Any healthy society doesn’t need a Godfather around. Rather it’s the presence & success of such character is symbol of our failure as civilized human beings who actually should believe in individuals talent as well acknowledges & respect the same. Till then there will be The Godfathers who will be successful in their own way & will keep ruling every aspect of our life, even we ever knowing about being ruled by them!!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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