Friday, August 5, 2016

History is but a story of the conqueror, never the vanquished

Then do history books tell the truth? They do. But from prism of a subjective mind. We are currently living in a society where the subject has a plethora of options to share his or her opinion. Earlier it was only though newspapers, then through television and now through social media. However, is there an extent to which subjective remains subjective and doesn’t become ego. Being objective means the opposite of subjective. I disagree. This seems to be a strange phenomenon. Let me explain. 
We are subjective with the thoughts we express. These thoughts are derived from the past experience, past reading, past hearing, past viewing, past feeling and past thoughts. If these are derived from the past, then how can they be objective? They are subject to the thoughts of old. It is a difficult proposition to be objective when emotion or thought is related to it. Humans or animals cannot remain objective. 

In today’s capitalist society where success is measured by materialistic possession, and your hierarchy in the corporate value chain, it is difficult to even try to be objective. The mere thought of being objective is itself subjective. Think about it. 

This dichotomy is applicable to any facet of life. Until we express ourselves as an individual different from the universe, this dichotomy is bound to exist. Meditation is a means to be one with the universe. In meditative state, thoughts do not pertain to the individual, it pertains to the universe. Advaita Vedanta talks of singularity. So does Saint Francis of Assissi who expresses it as: “That for which they seek is that which searches.” And so does Rumi “what you seek is seeking you”. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Raman Raghav 2.0- What the Director wanted us to see

Director: Anurag Kashyap

Art as a medium of expression has unlimited powers. Art has a direct entry into your subconscious, bypassing the nervous system. The world has always been in awe of painters, musicians, craftsmen, illustrators, sportspersons among others. They yield the power of expression through art. Leonardo Da Vinci, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are some of the fine examples of people who produced awe-inspiring art.

Since the advent of large screen exhibition of motion pictures, the cinematic experience has held centre stage in the art world. Dadasaheb Phalke, who made the first motion picture in India, unleashed a thought which influences everyone till date. There have been some fine film-makers in India over the years. We need to add Anurag Kashyap to this pantheon of directors, if he already was not added.

Anurag Kashyap’s latest movie Raman Raghav 2.0 talks about the infamous serial killer Raman Raghav of the 1960s. Anurag Kashyap could have easily made a film of how the murders take place and how the police find him and send him to jail. But cinema is not about showing what is known. It is about showing a different perspective about the unknown or relating it to the current society at large.

This movie challenges the notions of good and bad in the society. We all are grey in our thoughts, behaviour and actions.

The movie shows wonderfully that there is no difference between a psychopath and a destructive mind. Raman (psychopath killer) kills people out of anger or lack of control over his mind. Raghav (policeman who is looking out for Raghav) kills people willingly knowing all too well about the action he is performing.

The last scene of the film showing the talk between Raman and Raghav. Raman talks of intelligent people with a destructive mind using religion or politics or police uniform as a means to justify their unethical and violent side. He talks of current day Syria. He talks of current day politics.

The movie shows the kind of effect drugs has on even a well-educated and well-formed human mind. It cannot differentiate between day and night. It cannot differentiate between family and enemies. It cannot differentiate between love and lust. All of Raghav’s actions depict this in the most effective manner.

At the start of the movie, it said that the movie was not about the killer Raman but about the other guy who was finding him. You understand this line at the end of the movie. And then you join the dots to get the full picture.

The movie is dark, gory and uncomfortable in various scenes. The movie had rave reviews when it was shown at the Directors’ fortnight Cannes 2016. It however, failed with the Indian audiences. Anurag Kashyap though is setting new benchmarks in the Indian film industry with the kind of cinema he is offering. He has got his due since the last few years but I am sure his best is yet to come. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

'The Revenant'- reading between the lines

Preface: There is a reason that the main protagonist’s photo isn’t shown but that of the supporting character.
The Revenant is basically a story of an injured person building a strong will to stay alive to take revenge on the person who killed his son.

Caught between practical thinking and an indebtedness to Hugh Glass (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), The Revenant takes us through the journey of the two extremes of human emotions when faced with survival decisions.

John Fitzgerald (played by Tom Hardy) can be called as a negative character but how many of us can be selfless when you have to make a survival decision. Survival, in this context, is about life. It could be survival in business or at work or survival of a relationship. Hugh Glass’ character’s will to be alive can be seen by his willingness to do anything- eat bone marrow off a carcass and raw flesh of a bison to taking out the guts of a dead horse and using the horse’s body as a cave to survive biting cold. Time and again, history is replete with examples of willpower or shall I say mindpower to survive physical extremes.

Bridger’s character (played by Will Poulter) shows the frailty of human emotions. Wanting to do the right thing yet not being able to stand up to the virtues of righteousness.

The Revenant, shot beautifully in cold, icy mountains and streams, it is a metaphor for life. Beautiful, only if you have the eyes to see it, or else, it is simply a piece of barren land.

The last scene of the movie where Glass is about to kill Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald says to Glass that he had come a long way to take revenge and now that he is getting a chance to kill him, enjoy it, because Glass, anyway, isn’t getting his son back. This is one of the most poignant scenes. Makes you think about ‘revenge’ as a reason for live. Alternatively, if Glass did not have revenge on his mind, he would have given up hope and long been dead.

Understanding this dichotomy of life and accepting it is the secret to having control over your mind.

PS: For all the love for Leonardo DiCaprio, chances are that you’ll come out remembering Fitzgerald more than Glass. Had it been any other actor in Glass’ role than Leonardo DiCaprio; Tom Hardy would have been the star of the movie. Leonardo might even win an Oscar for Actor In A Leading Role but Jordon Belfort’s character in Wolf of Wall Street was his zenith. Alejandro González Iñárritu, too, might win an Oscar for Best Director but Birdman was a better movie. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

ROOM- what the Director wanted us to see

The ‘Room’ is a metaphor of our lives. How we believe what is in front of us, and consider all other things as unreal. The innocence of Jack’s character (played by Jacob Tremblay) in the movie makes us smile when he wishes ‘good morning’ to the Wardrobe, Sink, Plant in his room. At the end, when he says ‘bye’ to them, it shows that age shouldn’t make us practical but let our emotions speak for themselves.

In one of her endeavours to try to escape from the Room, Joy, Jack’s mother (played by Brie Larson) tells her son that she had to make a story about the outside world because he was too young to understand. Now, she was un-lying because he is old enough to understand. It tells us that we need to learn and unlearn, and not take all our learning to the grave. That is ‘perspective’, the director is talking about.  

The Director wants us to understand the different aspects of a growth of child. Dr. Mittal’s character (played by Cas Anver) speaks of a tender transition of Jack from ‘being in a room all his life’ to the outside world. He speaks of cognitive-sensory level, depth perception, auditory processing. All these aspects have come out beautifully in the film. One, Jack only answers to this mother in her ear when someone asks him a question. Two, he hides his face in his palms when he sees a new person in the hospital.

Dr. Mittal is relieved that Jack has come out of isolation at an age when he is still malleable. He uses the word ‘plastic’. It fits in perfectly with the storyline where Jack is learning what is real and what is unreal.

The second half of the movie depicts the different sets of emotions that Jack and Joy go through. Jack’s emotions with the surroundings whereas Joy’s emotions with her Mother (Played by Joan Allen), Father (played by William H. Macy)s and step-father (played by Tom McCamus) . Joy feels that she always kept Jack with herself because she wanted him. She has an inner guilt that she did not try earlier to free Jack from isolation. Her predicament makes her attempt a suicide.

‘Room’ shows the entire gamut of emotions of its characters.   

Room grows on you slowly. It is almost creepy at the start. As the full ensemble of the lives of Jack and Joy show itself, you understand the magnitude of how much the story will make you think.

PS: I loved the way the movie title ‘Room’ has been put in a rectangular box. Again, a metaphor about the silos that we make ourselves live into.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Danish Girl -makes you root more for Gerda than Einar

I read a few reviews and articles about the film, The Danish Girl, directed by Tom Hooper. It pointed to the Director not staying true to the original story. I don’t want to get into the details of the actual story of Einar Wegener (or Lile Elbe) and his wife, Gerda (played by Alicia Vikander). I wish to base my understanding or learning from the screenplay of ‘The Danish Girl’.

It was obvious that Eddie Redmayne’s character will have maximum screen time. And a chance to exhibit a wide range of acting skills. He has done a wonderful job. He might even win an Oscar for his portrayal. Alicia Vikander was a pleasant surprise though. She is likeable, and has portrayed an ambitious painter without seeming arrogant.

She has been effortless in emotions moving from happiness to sadness. Her poignant looks where her eyes does all the talking. Seldom does one get affected by a character as much as you do while feeling bad for Gerda. She is so much in love with her husband, and misses him, yet allows him to be what he wants to be. Your heart aches for her. Even when she develops feeling for another gentleman, you empathise with her. In spite of everything, she stands by her husband and supports him when needed.

One of the dialogues in the movie quite simply sums up that the story should have been about Gerda and her fight with herself than Einar’s sex-change operation. Einar says that her brush strokes give him strength. He becomes what she (Gerda) wants him to become.

You can draw inspiration or analogy from Gerda’s character in real life. Be strong headed. Support the people you love. Put them before yourself.

You take Alicia Vikander with you, when you leave the movie. And I won’t be surprised if a lot of boys become Alicia’s fans. I, for one, fell in love with her.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I don’t want a Digital India

Everyone wants to make India go digital. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mark Zuckerberg (Free basics), Mukesh Ambani (Reliance Jio) and a host of other business people.  No one wants to work towards providing clean drinking water, continuous electricity of food to the unprivileged. The more infrastructurally developed we are becoming, the more emotionless we are.  Why are we as a society moving towards making ourselves so dependent on technology. Start-up India, stand-up India coined by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi is more towards online platform.  Nothing towards an offline platform.  Smart cities is another example of wrong priorities.  Why focus on 100 cities when the remaining 90 percent of agrarian population is entirely dependent on nature.  Entire focus in on the few privileged people. 

Ram Charan asked corporations to tap the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid but why will they do leg work when all they can do is set up an online facility and take support of government subsidies and encouragement.  India wants to be a super power and it is presumed that one of the pre-requisites to be considered one; is to have a bullet train.  There are positives in having the bullet train but only for the people of the two cities.  And if I talk of parameters generally considered relevant i.e. GDP, how much is saving 2 hours of commuting time convert to increase in GDP. This is a very simplistic argument I understand.  But then, does the argument have to be complex to consider it valid.  We want to compete with Singapore and Beijing and other developed cities. The question is why. Why not compete with ourselves. The kind of population we have, we need to convert our weakness of agriculture to our strength.  Just because China exported its way through cheap goods, doesn’t mean we follow it.  And we will never be able to do that because China will better you in anything you offer. India has its compulsions of democracy which China doesn’t have.

By blindly aping the western countries on mobile technology, we are missing out on our fertile land. India is blessed with abundant water resources in some states whereas others are affected by drought. Will an online revolution help us get over the lack of coherence in water distribution. I guess the answer is in negative. Then it is about time we focus on ground realities that be mesmerized by the virtual world.