Slowly but steadily, a decade-old business around the dead and universally despised dictator Adolf Hitler is emerging as a small-scale industry in India.
Again, Westerners are aghast, but I’d bet many young Indians sincerely don’t know who Hitler was. And why should they? Can you tell me the name of any Indian political figure besides Nehru and Gandhi, who were alive 60 years ago….anything recent? No? It’s only the second-most populous nation in the world we’re talking about. Ponder that over your next hamburger….
2006. In Mumbai, a restaurant called Hitler’s Cross (in Mumbai) not only featured a “correct” Nazi swastika in the logo, but was decorated in red, white and black and an enormous portrait of the man himself was hanging inside. Again, an outcry caused the restaurant to reconsider the name. Oddly, a lot of local dignitaries and celebrities were at its inauguration, with nary a peep.
“When asked by a news reporter if he felt disturbed by the name of the restaurant, [actor Murli Sharma]: “I am not really agitated as I have not read much about the man (Hitler). However, from what I know about Hitler, I find this name rather amusing.”
Ho! Ho! On the menu: Pol Pot roast!
The restaurant is now called the Cross Café. One of the new names that had been considered was Exotic Goblet.
This is all part of the banality of Hitler in India. Consider the following two examples:
2011 – Present. Here is a daily soap opera called Hitler Didi. Why Hitler? Because Auntie Hitler is strict. Like the Hitler store guy’s grandfather.
Hitler Didi is all about the strict, tough and strong minded Indira Sharma (Rati Pandey)who is the “Hitler Didi” of Chandni chowk . She has the responsibility of her whole family, as she is the sole earner. Her life revolves around bills and the financial situation of their family. And due to the heavy burden of her family, her life has become dull and colorless and she has become a mere working machine without any emotions in her. Until one day when her new tenant Rishi Kumar (Sumit Vats) arrives, who lights up her life. He brings joy in her life, helps her at every step of life. He becomes the shoulder she can cry on, the one person she can trust the most.
2011. Hero Hitler in Love.
Hero Hitler in Love revolves around Hitler who lives in his village Ishqpura. Hitler is a man with unique and different thoughts who loves his fellow villagers and helps soul mates come together. Hitler falls in love with Sahiban, who lives in Pakistan and decides to bring her to his village. Hitler believes in solving problems by talking about them but when something crosses the line, he decides to become real “Adolf Hitler”.
So he decided to become “real” Adolf Hitler? What does that mean? He trims his mustache? Practices his elocution? Starts murdering Indian Jews?
The film also revolves around car racing. Hitler who loves to race, but when he is set up to fail in the Asian Car Racing competition he decides to take revenge. The story relates how Hitler takes his revenge and fights to win his girl and reunite the nations of India and Pakistan.
Much like Hitler “reuniting” Czechoslovakia, Austria and Poland with the Motherland, I suppose. Except Adolf Hitler, as far as I know, didn’t race cars.
Clearly, there’s some vast cultural difference to explain all this. These things would get you arrested in France and to be honest, I’m pretty sure you’d be denied your freedom of speech in the USA in these cases….can you imagine a Hitler Chicken in Williamsburg, Ybor City or the French Quarter?
It’s weird, I gotta admit. The whole Engrish thing is more than just bad grammar, it’s also a misunderstanding of Western cultural norms. And Westerners don’t get the East, either, it would appear.
I’m just waiting for a pizza joint called Mussolini’s: “Hey, whatsa matta you! Bada bing!”
I guess it could all be written off with a smirk, but in India, there is a nationalist element that admires Hitler, substituting Muslims for Jews. The article I link to is a bit alarmist, dropping figures like 100,000 copies of Mein Kampf sold over seven years as if it means fuck all in a country of 1 billion.
So, I don’t think these droplets in an ocean mean Indians have taken to anti-Semitism, it’s just one of those weird losses in translation that leaves us aghast and the Indians, for the most part….indifferent.