Heroes & super villains

Published On: October 28, 2016 01:27 AM NPT By: Gunjan Upadhyay

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it Superman? Nope. It’s Lok-Man! If a patriotic citizen ever dreamt up a Nepali superhero along the lines of Captain America, surely a contender for the name would have to be Lok Man – ‘the people’s superhero’. After all we’ve had plazas, colleges, armies and even entire revolutions supposedly founded for the ‘people’. So, why not a people’s hero? 

Instead, we are faced with the irony of seeing the altogether appropriately named ‘Lok Man’ cast as super villain and public enemy number one.  This whole story reminds one of those Hollywood superhero films where a strand of the plot is left untied at the end of each film so that the franchise can roll on endlessly, often beyond redemption. 

This story certainly has all the run of the mill superhero film tropes. There is an undercurrent of revenge to every episode, our heroes – both willing and reluctant – fluff several chances to stop the villain thereby making him more and more evil and our politicians are forced to work with counterparts they detest giving rise to a temporary brotherhood of ‘frenemies’.  There are less genuine heroes in this story – Advocate Om Prakash Aryal and Dr KC spring to mind and more accidental and opportunistic ones, aka our politicians. But this saga is unusual because it’s not really about our heroes but our villain and that is exemplified by the wall-to-wall coverage of his notoriety in the media. 

With great power comes great irresponsibility and no one illustrates this more than Lokman. He certainly seems to tick all the required boxes to be a villain. Is he a self-serving, power hungry bully with utter disregard for anyone else? Check. Does he have a hard to access villainous lair – aka the CIAA?  Check. Does he have a prescient awareness of danger and does he seem unstoppable? Check. Add to that a perennially smug expression and you almost have the perfect package. A modern ‘Mogambo’ with a Nepal ‘topi’! 

The only thing this story perhaps lacks is the black and white nature of superhero films, the good VS evil theme because as much as you want to believe that Karki is evil, there is a lot more to this circus than meets the eye. Apart from a few people every party to this show can have their motivations questioned and, when analyzed in depth, none of them come out of it smelling of roses. 

So, who is the real villain? Is it our politicians who, in a modern take on the barter system allowed him to get elected in the first place? Or is it the man himself? He is undoubtedly a survivor (Donald Trump might have even have called him a ‘winner’) who with no 
tangible skill and a chequered history, rode successive political 
upheavals and made it to the top of a constitutional body tasked with enforcing the rule of law.

Every good villain needs a source of strength so what did he feed on all these years? Was it our silence or the fears of our politicians and bureaucracy?  It’s all well and good making him the ‘khalnayak’ now, but our politicians should remember who sowed the seeds of his villainy in the first place because they are just as culpable for this mess. I can think of quite a few ‘netas’, who now sport a halo on their heads but have been over the course of their careers just as self-centered, power-hungry and have acted with just as much impunity if not more than Lokman. It’s just a matter of time, perspective, and their interests. 

In the middle of all this you still have people laboring under the illusion that public opinion has led to his (predicted) downfall. Let’s all have a moment of silence for these naïve souls. Public opinion was just as strong prior to this appointment but our representatives went along with it just as long as their interests were served. It’s only when it ceased to serve their interests that Lokman became political kryptonite (as I write, the Nepali Congress is still deliberating whether it would benefit them to impeach him or not). It’s convenient that a particular villain unites all of us but lest we forget, in our selective outrage that there are quite a few of them roaming around – wolves in sheep’s clothing.

The downfall is already being predicted and we are apparently nearing the end of this film, but what’s the bet he resurfaces in another avatar irrespective of whether he is impeached or not. Over the last decade, we have seen stranger things happen in Nepali politics. I wouldn’t be too surprised – judging from his biography – to see him pop up in the most unusual places and posts as the result of a compromise between our politicians keen to save their bottoms in private and their faces in public. Let’s just hope that’s not the case because I think the entire nation has had enough of the endless sequels to this same story.

The writer loves traveling, writing, and good food when he is afforded an escape from the rat race. He can be contacted @ gunjan.u@gmail.com

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