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Archive for August, 2010

Break the bonds

And yes, I am at it once again – film reviewing! And thinking aloud on how closely connected these three things are – movies, dreams and life…

I was seeing The Truman Show after a gap of over 12-13 years maybe. Not only was I aware of my new perceptions of an old movie, but happy too that some things need not change so much! Like the way I still applaud the movie and Peter Weir. Or its actor Jim Carrey, who plays a serious role unlike his routine slapstick comedies. And yes, recognising my old fave Ed Harris (who had not registered in my faculty then!)

The movie goes like this: the entire rights to Truman’s life have been sold over to a broadcasting corporation even before he is born.  Every thing he does is beamed to an audience the world over and beamed 24×7. The world around him, the tales around his upbringing and youth have all been staged so well that Truman is not aware that he is being stage-managed through life. Till one day, he wakes up…

Which brings us to the question that I now see central to the movie: When Truman accosts his ‘creator’ Harris, what the latter says is this – Well, the world outside is also full of lies and deceit. At least here you have no fear.  As he points out, we believe and live in our perception of our world, what we are led to think.

How can you or I be sure we are not being stage-managed? What if everything we have believed to be real is unreal, the truth all false? What if we cannot see the invisible cameras placed around us by a creator playing with us?

Ask no questions and you can live and die happily ignorant. Ask questions and you may end up cast away in stormy seas with no helping hand. To be truly free, is that a figment of imagination? Is that not better than the cosy comfort of ignorance?

For me I prefer the exhilaration I saw on Truman’s face as he sets out on a stormy sea, in what he thinks will bring him freedom from manipulation. No matter the sea ends abruptly at a blank wall of the studio.

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Pages of my life

Every other person I meet these days is either writing a book or seriously considering doing so. I wonder if something is wrong with me, given that I have no such intentions. And then I try analyse why this is so. Is it because I have nothing to say? Well, the few people who have been visiting this blog (and pestered by me to do so!) will at least agree I have some things to say, even if some sound like crazy nonsense.

No, its not that I am at a loss for words, but maybe because I lack the focus to stick to a theme that writing a book requires. My fevered mind keeps hopping around on a hundread ideas and thoughts to be pinned down to a few rivetting pages.

Perhaps, I also wonder if I have anything worthy to write a book. After all, a book should either entertain or educate. The latter has few takers these days. People prefer to browse for info. As to entertain, I guess I simply dont have the fingers for tickling, even if I get tickled myself fast!

Of course, books can inspire one to take certain paths. Even there, I fail. Besides inspiring a few people to chuck their comfortable jobs and lead spartan lives (still not there!), I have no pages to boast of.

And yet, books are what give me the most joy, after my dreams! From books, I have been able to visit faraway places and live unfamiliar cultures. Books have spirited me away to grand places of imagination. Books have made me laugh by myself. Thanks to them, I have lived a little of all that I wished to be, but didn’t dare to be. A vet traipsing Yorkshire meadows, a conservationist living in close proximity to gorillas, a cowboy in the Wild West shooting at cattle thieves, a lawyer winning a case of the One-eyed Cat, a detective who can read people’s grey cells, a spiritual seeker walking on the razor’s edge, a little girl who gets postcards from past and future, …

I have laughed, cried and lived a many lives in this lifetime thanks to all those wonderful books. And from all that I read, I have drawn no small consolation that humans are the same, no matter their colour, language or nation. Often I have been wonderstruck how a writer from across the continents with whom I share nothing but the same language (English) can echo my thoughts almost like he has been mind-reading me!

It only strengthens my belief that somewhere invisible to our senses are the myriad links that connect us to every other living being. Just like the superstructures out there connecting universes.

Now tell me, do I need to write a book, when so many of them are at it?

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My stagnant pool

It was a trip to the hills that set me thinking again – what is real development? And at what cost do we invite it to our lives?

The locals of this region are largely poor though some ‘benefactors’ claim to have made their lives much easier. The wages would fall below Rs 50 a day. And quality of life in terms of health and employment have not really advanced much in this place some 250 kms from Bangalore.

Children attend schools but the story is the same – a long walk, teachers absconding… which is why perhaps many kids prefer to while away time at the lily pond or on the road waiting with a few stolen jackfruits for tourists!

But, wait! These kids look so much happier than the ones we see in our cities. They have no performance pressures. Sure their parents hope for a better future but they are not constantly driving the kids.

The adults too, while complaining about the poor life, actually look more at peace than their city counterparts. Maybe its the pure air that compensates. Or living life, one day at a time. Or simply the lack of complications that rule our city-bred lives.

Not to make a virtue of poverty but … set me thinking wistfully how readily I would trade places. To be free to live as I wished, at my pace. To work the soil for food (ultimately is that not what we struggle for?), nurture trees for peace and fresh air, to live every moment to the full without deadlines and targets, to live by my convictions.

What fun.

So why dont I do it? Buy a piece of land and go live there? Because .. because I have got so used to fitting in, to the comfort of living in a hell which I am told by a majority is heaven. Because I am worried for my ‘kids’ future’. Because I simply lack the guts.

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Thank you

Kishore Kumar would have been 81 today. And I bet, singing as effortlessly and passionately as ever. As I think what tribute

Kabhi alvida na kehna

to pay to a singer who has given me so many moments of joy unlimited, I am wordless!

A genius, an eccentric, a mad man, a gifted singer who could get under the skin of the character, Kishore was definitely more than a voice. He was the song, he was the poem, he was the beauty (of nature he so admired), he was the pathos of a broken heart, as also the soul of one in love, he was the easy meditation one sought, he was pure joy to listen to.

I could go on stumbling, not finding the right words. They fail us, dont they, when we seek to capture an emotion undefined?

Much is known about the life and times of Kishore the maverick, or Kishore the madman. He could not be chained by conventions, just like his voice that soared high. But as a fan, all that one knows is the joy he gave to a listener. And for that, no thanks will ever be adequate. As long as generations continue to revere this maestro, and tapes and CDs and what-nots capture his voice for posterity, we the fans are blessed. Kishore’s voice lives on, and will live on… hum jab na honge to ro roke duniya dundenge mere nishaan…

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