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Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Manoj Bajpai, and some dude that looks familiar but eh

Disclaimer: This is not really a review. These are just reflections that may be directly related to the movie Aarakshan…or not. Just don’t want you upset by the end of the read because you wanted a review and didn’t get one or you didn’t want a review and you think the details I shared warranted a spoiler alert.

Aarakshan, or reservations, refers to an Indian system (loosely) analogous to affirmative action in America. Except reservations in India are really not based on merit. Here, African American students may be able to land more scholarships with a high school GPA of 3.0 than a white student who might need to aim a little higher. In India, your 3.5 may be worthless next to a 1.5–depending on your caste and how many of “your kind” are accepted as per the quota system–and you might not get into a good college…

Let’s get a few things straight.

Banning the caste system–hah, whatever that means–has not been, and will never be effective so long as systems like this exist. The system furthers preexisting tensions between castes and cultivates fresh ones. It gives reason to younger and future generations to develop negative attitudes towards members of different castes. Aarakshan depicts this problem nicely:

  • Saif Ali Khan plays a hard-working student of a lower caste who is mocked and insulted frequently…even told to pursue jobs more “fitting” of his aukaad, or place (in society). I hate that word. Aukaad. Frequently used in command form. Remember your place. Disgusting.
  • A slightly tangential thought I had when watching the scene with all the “hooliganism”: No one is going to like you if you are gloating about getting into a good college with your D average while other students in the B range are not getting into any colleges. Of course this will lead to animosity…what better way to provoke a nerd than tell him he just got bested at school by someone less capable at school? My blood is boiling at the thought.
  • Oh you can pretty much purchase admission in India? Super. A real value for education you got there.
  • Um hello? Caste is not proportional to financial status. Poor Brahmin? Tough luck. You are the Dalits of today. You can clean up the streets, you can grovel for alms. Flipped the caste system upside down–how you like that? Eff creating social mobility, we just want revenge.

Morals of the story? Thank God for America. And your parents for coming here or bringing you here. After the movie, I felt particularly grateful and appreciative of all the things I’ve taken for granted in a relatively just, fair system. My hard work is never a waste. I feel like I get rewarded in life for things I have yet to do. I am given chances to prove myself constantly. And I am encouraged along the way. I’ve been cruising, and it’s been fantastic…but I can only say that because my parents dreamed of something far greater for their children than they ever had. I could tell you my parents’ story but I’ll save that for another day. I’m sure you have stories about your parents that make you proud, too. What adversities have we overcome that don’t pale in comparison? I got nothin’. Sure we’ve got problems here, but we’ve also got a lot more help and resources if we need them and our voices don’t go unheard.  I’m having a serious “I LOVE AMERICA” moment, if you can’t tell.