Gujarat: they have nazzies

Harry and I recently shot a brief scene together. Hari Nair, the cinematographer, shot it beautifully as always. It was surreal to watch the playback of this gorgeous feature film footage with me and Harry hamming it up.
We two evil British officers were discussing the push for independence. Gandhi got a mention, needless to say, but also a little-known contemporary of his, Subhash Chandra Bose. Bose also wanted the Brits out, but where Gandhi used passive resistance, Bose preferred a bit of the old ultraviolence. For the gringos, think of him as Malcolm X to Gandhi’s Martin Luther King.

The line about Bose and his party was not in the script, but was made up just before the take. We found it hard to decipher the handwriting, so one of the numerous assistant directors read it out to us. But we were still baffled by the phrase “they have nazzies.” After some discussion, we translated this to “they’re supported by the nazis.” Turns out he was on Hitler’s side.

On a tenuously connected note, a confronting sight around Bhuj for the uninitiated Gora is the profusion of swastikas. It’s actually an ancient Sanskrit symbol. Hitler chose it because number one, it looked cool. And you’ve got to admit, it does. Like Sarah Silverman says, “Nazis are a-holes. Although they’re cute when they’re little, I will give them that. They’re sooo cute. Why can’t they stay small?”

swastika roof

But number two, the Aryans came from India, believe it or not. So to Hitler the swastika was a symbol created by white men who conquered an inferior race.
swastika plate
Now to us, and especially to Europeans, that episode has irrevocably tainted the symbol. It’s only used by maladjusted schoolboys who want to shock someone. But to Indians, it remains just what it was: an ancient symbol. And when I say ancient, I mean ancient. It was already ancient when imperial Rome was the latest thing. To indians, the fact that the symbol was coopted for just 12 years of that time, by a failed painter on the other side of the world who was short on graphic design ideas, just doesn’t come up.
swastika box


  1. Mapooz R. Brown

    March 19, 2007 @ 7:19 pm


    Sarah Silverman is always right… Steals ‘The Aristocrats’…. I had a student two years ago who used to use the swastika when he needed a variable in an equation… Was still in his ‘maladjusted schoolboy’ stage… Got ammo though if he be a furture poli… Keep well….

  2. Swastika

    August 27, 2010 @ 5:26 am

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