For the 135 million people of India, Mahatma Gandhi is not just a historical figure of reverence. He is an ideology, a philosophy and a way of life. All his life, Gandhi preached to millions of his followers, the path of ‘ahimsa’ or non-violence. But in the India of today, when an attempt is made to reflect over who holds the claims to the teachings of the Mahatma, all fingers point to those who use his name and his teachings to exploit. Touttey (parrots) is a visual vignette by director Shashank Shekar Singh, based on a real-life incident when the so-called ‘followers’ of the apostle of non-violence, rough up, a group of theatre artists, who stage a play that question the reality of Gandhian thoughts and teachings in the country today.
This feature with a run time of 50 minutes glides seamlessly between the life of ‘Guruji’ the animateur of the group, and his troupe preparing for the stage event, as the actors hone their performances backstage and in rehearsal groups. The film dwells into the corruption and moral decadence of civil society and how the teachings of Gandhi have been reduced to tools that are used to exploit. The film captures in true essence, the spirit of the live performance of a staged event, even without showing the play being staged in front of the audience.
70 years after Indian independence, the film reopens the dialogue on the true meaning of ‘freedom’ and ‘independence’. It questions the right to freedom of speech and even more importantly, the freedom of thought. It questions a society, that celebrates a man who preached peace and non-violence and fought for freedom against oppression, that uses violence against anyone who dares think about questioning the oppressors of today.