6 min read

Kaagaz: Were Pankaj Tripathi’s Actions To Achieve His Goal In The Film Ethical Or Unethical?

Vatsal Thakore

January 25, 2021

6 min


Pankaj Tripathi’s character in Kaagaz, Bharat Lal, takes numerous steps to win his battle. Were all of his steps justified?

Kaagaz on ZEE5 is a film that depicts a common man’s fight against the bureaucracy for 17 long years. Pankaj Tripathi in Kaagaz plays the lead role of Bharat Lal, who has been falsely declared dead in government records. To prove that he is alive, he takes several measures, some of which were not completely okay. Read on to know more about the dilemma of his measures.

What does a person have to do for their voice to be heard? Or what does a person need to do to get the most basic right of existing, before it gets too much? If the person has been falsely declared dead while he is alive, stripping him of his basic rights, are his actions in retaliation even considered ‘too much’? Such was the situation of Bharat Lal in Kaagaz.

A common man, who was just living his life normally, one day finds out that his extended family had him declared dead in legal records to take up his land. To solve the issue and get his ‘living’ status back, he begins a legal battle. For five years, he writes to the biggest government authorities possible, even the Prime Minister. All of them send a response that’s nothing but an empty promise. When he meets someone else who has been fighting the same battle for 20+ years, he decides to take a different path.

kaagaz still
Source: ZEE5

Bharat Lal realizes that once there is an FIR in his name, it can be used to prove that he is alive, legally. To achieve this, he ‘kidnaps’ his nephew. Now, while kidnapping is morally and legally wrong, Bharat Lal being a soft-hearted person does not harm the kid in any way. He just brings his nephew home to play with his own kids. While his actual actions were not morally wrong, the term that stuck to those actions, ‘kidnapping’, may create a debate that what he did was still a crime. After all, he does ask his cousin to file an FIR against him as a ransom, to get his son back safely. What weighs more here? In a way, his desperation to take the measure justifies it because his intentions were not harmful. For us, it is the intention behind the action that speaks the loudest.

Source: ZEE5

One other thing that makes him legally wrong but maybe not morally, is his moment of rage in court. While putting forth his arguments in court, about how stupid it is that the system believes a paper but not the living man, he enters a fit of rage and says things to the judge, like, “You only keep staring blankly like a pigeon!” While this can be morally wrong in normal cases, because the judge is a very respectable person, it is slightly different in Bharat Lal’s case. He has been in the battle since so long, his frustration was bound to surface. Also, he later says that he was only showing it so the judge can file a contempt of court on him. In Bharat Lal’s case, again, his intentions were not immoral or wrong. That was a man’s years-long frustration surfacing for a battle for his most basic right.

Also read: 6 Scenes From The Pankaj Tripathi’s Kaagaz That Left A Deep Impact On Our Minds

Lastly, when he makes a scene in the Vidhan Sabha, he gets dragged out by the security guards and beaten up. Here, he takes this step because for more than a decade no one has heard him or solved his problem. He hopes to make his voice heard in an explosive manner, by yelling in the Vidhan Sabha members, in front of the ministers and throwing leaflets about his issue in the assembly house. Though his way of making his voice heard was extremely dangerous, he was compelled to take such a drastic step.

Source: ZEE5

In all his actions to get his issue to reach the highest authority, Bharat Lal risked his life and even his image. The actions, if seen from the surface, did seem unethical but his intentions and his helplessness justified them. However, the one thing that did not get justified was that in doing all these, he risked things for his family. While he was risking his life and image, he did not think of the repercussions that may have had on his wife and kids. Maybe that is one way to look at Bharat Lal’s actions as not-so-ethical. What do you think?

For a better thought about Bharat Lal’s actions, watch Kaagaz on ZEE5.

For more such stories, stay connected to ZEE5.

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