What do you do amidst a family feud? You redefine your family. Even as unkind observers giggled at Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s parivar, the patriarch torn between his son and UP chief minister Akhilesh and his brother Shivpal, the former has redefined his own parivar. The UP CM’s office recently released a video clearly for family viewing — in the short film, shot lovingly amidst lush green lawns and plush marble floors, Akhilesh appears with his wife Dimple, three young children and several adoring babus, supplicants and cops, but minus pitaji Mulayam, with whom Akhilesh has hit a not-so-mulayam patch, and sans chacha Shivpal, frequently blamed for the bitter family fall-out.
But Akhilesh’s video avoids bitterness and focuses on what makes family life so sweet. Starting with Akhilesh putting back a champion’s breakfast with his nuclear clan, Dimple looking lovingly at him over the morning puris, the young CM moves into a laal-batti car that deposits him — after driving by crowds of cheering citizens — at his gorgeously wood-panelled office. Here too, work is fun as meetings are punctuated by more cheering citizens literally in the corridors of power, cameras capturing the CM’s shy smile. Some more meetings and chamchas, sorry, cheering parties later, the CM heads home where he finally tears himself away from power-play to play cricket in the garden with his kids — whose granddad and grand-uncle are clearly bowled out.
Akhilesh’s video shows the elasticity of how we define family itself. From a warm, fuzzy embrace, a family could easily deliver stabs in the back and hence, flexibility — swinging nimbly from sprawling, joint clans to cosy little lots — is vital. Akhilesh’s video isn’t just cute. It’s brainy too, evading the family feud by evading the feuding family itself, the film ending instead with a mouthy little punch — “Uttar Pradesh mera parivar hai”. Now, let’s see if the good folk of UP — some appearing here in aesthetic poverty — reciprocate this parivarik pyaar.