Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Curious Case of S...

"I liked most the role of Amitabh B..."

"Kya bhaiyya kitna accha to woh autograph diya tha..." (WTF bro, I liked the way he signed the

Mocked one of them with a rebellious laugh, and we were not sure whether to probe him further
for a more serious answer. Poor doting hearts of ours.

Drawing their tetchy attention for a post-movie
sitting wasn't easy at the first place. But we were curious. Maybe a little over-thought. As if whatever their reaction be, it must be an unspoken verdict, an imprimatur to our own understanding of the movie-drama-elevating-the-reality. After all they breathe at places of those kinds. After all it's raining Oscars now.

But there were others in the group, who preferred to see something else in the movie. That day...

It has ended. Coming out into the light from the faintly inspired cinema hall that was scrolling the credits by now, I could see the contended it-was-just-a-movie smiles on most of the faces. Smiles with evident forgettable casualness. No feel-goodness. And I thought "Oh, even better, maybe".

An year and more of experience with them was enough Not to surprise me on this. Who says theirs is a lesser world. Them apart, at their age we ourselves would've nicely sunk into a lot of awesomeness that we would've found in the movie - from the animated game-show glitz to the teenage looting adventures in the trains. "It was good, but fir se nahi dekhungi..." (not watch-able again) -- One muted girl among them had muted. But that wasn't all.

The yawning group sat united finally. Sunken, edgy. Fiddling with everything they could sight. Thrown to them were several lines of views -- questionnaire -- to quickly unfurl all that the theatre has dozed them with, before they could peacefully forget it. Dump it, just as they fling away most of the draggy preaching we fill them with.

And we quizzed:

All your three Scenes special...
Any Jamal around you quite real?
The character you would play,
Recall & Imagine & Recall & Say.

Etc etc.

"Salim!"..."Why?"..."Didi he was a good friend, uska dosti dikha nahi, dhoka diya bahut jagah but he was a good friend didi (unappreciated friendship, easy betrayal)"...

"I have a friend bhaiya, hero hai ho"..."Really?"..."Yes bhaiya, he din't have paisa to study. Himself earned some money. Then exam diya and topped...Accha dost bhi hai."

"So only class toppers can be good heroes? See Jamal."..."No bhaiya! Salim bhi hai na."..."But he did so many wrong things too."..."So what didi, brave tha ho, kitna daring tha usmein (Salim dared to live full)..."

And much more. Prior to all this movie-going, most of my team-mates had loved to claim: "It was something they can relate to..." But I was a little sceptical. Wrongly enough. "Just Movie? We need more around." I thought "They need an identity out of it..." Rightly enough.


There were few who had objected on screening the movie to our group of slum kids, for the outright graphic and gory content exhibited in it...content we safely consider we shouldn't have seen ourselves while being a kid. But I vouched:

That let's face it. That we are not tipping the kindergarten kids here, instead these young guns are the ones who face realities much murkier than the well-to-do 15-year-olds are consigned to be; and who need to grow more mature than their age allows them to be, unfailingly.

That further to it, consider the likes of Ghajini on one hand and Raaz on the other (which is also an A-rated movie and few kids here have already seen it, to our surprise) - these movies come with loads of good-and-evil confection - from the sumptuous display of rage by a cult perfectionist, to the as-senseless-as-sensual mystery marked with adroit performances (Bipasha).

That not that we should do the least imperative of things by mindlessly promoting any such movies to them; but undoubtedly too, this is their (kids) formative age to learn to sieve out the good virtues from the obvious bad; to see through most of the junk temptations of teenage years; and to rise through their inner poverty of self first than looking around on their street corners. While standing at the periphery, if we can enable these kids to appreciate where any such movie falls out in relation to their own life, then we have substantially met our goal isn't it? (Movie-watching is of course something all of them follow rather keenly).

That as far as Slumdog M...itself is concerned, well the movie isn't just about the fancy escapism cinema. SM is an idea, a concept that conflicts tradition, a lateral view so outreaching that - neither slum dwellers nor the elites, equally, would ever conceive of if left to themselves. SM risks of playing with the clichéd romanticism associated with poor and the poverty, but it does that with some tenderness and lyricism that can only bring novelty in the thoughts of the positive minds of tomorrow.

For the
kids, SM holds a window to the different ways of imagining their own world, to the mere idea that their struggle could bring in a glimmer to the life -- life beyond the-dispirited-self-indulgence many westerners are used to conceive of. Through SM they could watch the downfall of a gainful illusion that outsiders had about them, about India and about its ghettos -- as someone said -- that of gurus or Gandhi; that of cows or cobras; that of wedding or outsourcing... All in a Cinderella like fairy-tale and through the shtick of a film-maker.

Monday, February 16, 2009

When Rajini Isn't Miffed...

Few days back I had to hastily put down around 100-150 words just on a given word. The term was quite amusing in itself to write, if not unthinkable. Interesting it is that almost any single word shouldn't be 'interesting' in itself for someone to write on it. Instead you can make it prosper that way.

Neither should the word represent any pompous concepts like those you and your classmates used to debate in school competitions - with ready made ideas and cookie-cutter arguments:
Westernisation is modernisation without formalisation of govt. regularisation and this realization of true liberation facilitates the ideation of essential democratisation in the grand old civilization of our nation...(And my school judges in this debate will be awarding me marks for pissing off at the westernisation so that I can win the prize money and buy that red floral tube top with matching heels for my cocktail party tonight...)

OK pardon me none of my the girls debated like that in my school and fortune had it that none wore any skimpy red floral tube top with the matching heels ever, till I breathed last there.

So coming back from digression, they gave me the word 'Miffed' - yes, that old verbal cousin of 'Irritated' - and here's an extended version of what I had written down there:

Miffed: Oh! I never knew you had this quirky little thing in you...Wow you can talk to us words too!

Rajinikanth: AHaa! I can burn a fire. I can drown the fish. I can kill two stones with one bird. I can do anything. Mind it! Tell me what you need help for? Tell raja.

M: Sir I'm little worried. No a lot worried. And I am so helpless about it.

R: Aiyyo. What's bothering you?

M: I am being overtly used by some morons in this world. Shamelessly. People...I mean even the most sinless among them...have no control abusing what I mean and what I stand for...I am not the spittoon for all their miseries, and for their mercurial self.

R: I know, that doesn't sup rise me much. But why people use-abuse a little sweet-sounding word like you so much? See, I keep smiling all the time.

M: Sir you are different, there's a charm even in your angst, even when you feel me. And as for me, I am not just a word - I am an idea, an extension. I feel like I am the provocateur, the floodgate of all the evil.

R: Raja, don't torture yourself. You come as a natural thought to me, to everyone - and you are our necessity. Have you felt like this for always, for every being?

M: Not it was so always, nor it is with everyone. Even my playful cousin "Irritated" has a quite life with few minds...less bounden with the daily banalities of their affair. But not everyone.

R: Then?

M: You know, centuries back in the renaissance France, it was vulgar to look busy***. We used to live so effortlessly. No overwork, no sunken faces staying "miffed" all the time, for every penny issue.

R: Aiyyo. How come there was no evil then? I would've been unemployed there...

M: No! Not that everyone did, but it was just entrenched in their culture, in the masses - that to be composed is the surest sign of nobility and grace. Otherwise people there still hideously fought against their dignity, and fought brutal. Call it a disbelief if you would like to.

R: So remaining laid-back was in their ideology. And not all followed it...Ha ha. Do you mean that?

M: Nope. I mean it's about avoiding me in the most arresting of times, in resisting me when I am most tempting to these beings. Even so many laid-back minds stay quite mature, if you look that way.

R: Aiyyo. If I were a child I would ask you - that why do you flinch from sneaking into our feelings?

M: Because I'm a sparing treasure. I am like a rare tiny green emerald-gem that has been gifted to everyone. Effective as much less used. Ineffective without light.

R: What light?

M: Light of the smart self-knowingness in a person, that I am just a passable state-of-mind. Light of the realisation that I can't rule his/her temper long forever. And if (s)he can't remain sensible while still using me...then I am ruined...and (s)he too.

R: Uff. That was heavy. OK tell me...don't you detest "Calm" - your anti? The word that everyone just forces to love.

M: I don't know. It seems there's a cold war between us. We've never talked. Maybe she'll give all the airs of superiority to me. These citadels of goodness virtues mostly appear in biblical papers and idealism lectures. And...

R: Eh?

M: ...And there she receives a starry red-carpet reception, as if every time she is something new, in all her sumptuous revealing gown of sexy wisdom-ness. As if nobody knew her heretofore. I am the one much more moored to the reality, the one most unsexy.

R: Listen Raja. If I didn't experience you, if I haven't realized you, I would've never known how important 'calm' can be. She relies on you for all her daily bread. Raja she is your protégé in one sense...

M: Is it you who's saying so?

R: You mind it! Even all my villains know this by now. You know their standards have really risen over the time! Now they are so slick bastards with bountiful of temperament. They have this whole halo-effect around them - its their heroism, its deceit.

M: What? Even 'Calm' can be deceitful! Appalling.

R: Yes Raja. It all depends on which soul manifests you people, and your idea. Me or my villains.

M: You and your villains - you all remain different - steeped so far away from the ordinary routines. Sir I'm fearful, I don't want to become another worn-out cliché, stripped of identity in the crowd. What you say allays all my pain. Is it really true?

R: Aiyyo. I am Rajinikanth, I am truth. You worry not. You would never stand alone betrayed. 'Calm' is there for you, even if she doesn't bear it upfront. Like me and my prim moustachio, you both complement each other. Mind It!

M: Who says you are not God, Sir.

*** Refer BF's Triumph of Reason