A contemplative post - on the nuances of being a Second Fiddle. Recently I have been binging on Netflix - addicted hopelessly to period dramas. The Crown Season 1 finished in a day for me - and then my hungry eyes clapped onto Versailles.
Versailles - talks about the Sun King and his ambitious rise. Each and every frame captures the grandeur that Paris is, was and forever shall be. The glamour that formed the golden halo actually arose from Louis IV's golden period.
The actors are as illustrious as the set and setting. The director is able to take the creative leap back into the past - enlivening History and my own perennial love for European History.
However, when all shines bright, a rather 'queer' character creates a curious headline for himself. None other than the King's brother, Phillipe.
Phillipe - played by Alexander Vlahov - is an unfortunate case of chance going in the way of change. A cavalier at heart with Chevaliar in his heart - Phillipe makes a strong argument of how the Second Fiddle in fact is the fulcrum to the head.
Phillipe - a couple of years younger to the monarch who is famous for his line "I am the state" - had been a brilliant strategic oversight - purposely left to enact behind the scenes in the King's Palace. His sulk is encapsulated in all its truth - he is but a mere human being, puppeted and parodied on by his own sibling and the rest of court
The brotherly ties appear infrequent - the bond spoken of only in dire straits. The King appears to merely tolerate his flamboyant brother - taking for granted his heart of gold.
Phillipe - lost in the shadows, however chooses not to be overshadowed. His colourful interests make homosexuality the cover story of the court - his courting of Chevaliar despite heterosexual marriage is carried on in aplomb. His love-hatred for the King is evident through the words he utters and the words he hears back from Chevaliar. To make a mark and strike memory, he even dresses up as a woman and willingly is the laughing stock of the court.
Very seldom do his actions meet approval or thoughts find resonance. Yet he carries on with his life and duty towards the court - his latent desire to always be seen as a leader, at par with the Emperor.
In truth, Phillipe is a better war strategist - a decorated Army General and a clear headed pragmatic director of the battle-fields. His valour and astuteness is the talk of the town - much to the chagrin of the King who is seen as more of a "King on the chess board"
The Sun King does not like to be eclipsed - no matter the ties of the blood or the might of the brain to serve the State.
On reflection, I wondered. in our daily lives, how much do our lead roles need the support of the likes of Phillipe - the behind the scenes victory craftsmen.
Here are some of the common daily life scenarios
1. At workplace :
You slog like a dog on the slides - the final report credits the seniority. Hours spent with a hunchback and 2 decade old eyes crowfeet-lined : yet there is a hapless joy or a joyless sigh. Why - is the question that's TOM.
2 In a relationship :
Face it or not, the woman plays second fiddle when it comes to decision making. Men are perhaps hardwired into under-taking all major decisions regarding HOME - finances, design, layout, hygiene, - you name it, you get it. The more you harp on "independence" or "equality" men see that as femi-Nazism and instantly look down through their flared nostrils. No matter the degrees, when it comes to life-partner, there is a degree of 'second fiddle' playing up its sad tune. Of course that builds up as a grudge and wham - the household war erupts. Wonder why men are not tagged as "home-maker"!
3. Within the Famil(iar)y
Sometimes the age wizened age, when they reach a certain age, they cross the 'ok-plateau' of naked joy on seeing the dominant many. Mostly its the father, the oldest friend or the brother. Its also the mother who by power of the womb places stake on the central decision making nerve of your body. You listen - if you don't go their way - you're branded a rebel.
4. The Autowalas
Driver's seat redefined - GPS proves directionally purposive but when it comes when it comes to ethicality : you're shot to the back-seat (literally and pun well intended!)
I am sure the world over there must be so many such scenarios. Playing the unc-credited for 'second fiddle' can lead a Grudge or the Fudge -
a) Grudge - lots on mind, nothing on lips except the smile crease. Pent up emotions - volcano like. Crows feet and forehead creases. Suppression and submission. Till a point. The main reason for this many of us who are coerced to playing the second fiddle, do so in conflict of their own base nature. The base nature cannot lie low or still for long.
b) Fudge - Lack of ownership and the happy passage of responsibility from one's shoulders to a more dependable one. Happiness at not being in the driver's seat but only a pillion. Not consultative - but an executionist. Key reason being the disengagement of mind from task or lack of alacrity. Such beings rate mental contentment higher : waste no energy on forming or holding a grudge.
The second fiddle thus has his or her own motivations, needs and expected benefits from the role. The role brings no glory - instead figures as more challenging as its multi dimensional and quite layered. Complexity of its existence and enforcement brings to light the poor inter-personal understanding and the main gap of treating one another on equal footing. Eye to eye can avoid the stye.