Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Ram-Leela

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is unduly criticized ... His movies are very theatrical and that doesn't suit everyone's taste. Also in projecting scale he ends up missing out on depth (an exception perhaps was 'Black' with stellar performances by Rani Mukherjee and Amitabh Bachhan)

The movie 'Ram-Leela' wasn't a bad movie at all, with spirited performances from the entire cast - Supriya Pathak stood out, with the feel of her character quite 'Shakespearean'! The beginning is straight out of 'the absurd'. The Indian kitsch was quite stylized. 

With focus entirely on Gujarat I could see overtly covert political messages in the movie. 

Few songs were memorable, choreography was top notch. Although some places the pace of narration was so high as to feel artificial, overly-dramatized and flawed. The ending could have been different. 

Nonetheless, overall a vivid, colorful and creative entertainment package especially worth watching once, on the big screen!


In the movie 'Ram-Leela' Sanjay Leela Bhansali has a done a great job as I feel this movie has a through and through if only covertly politically laden message behind it. Let me try and explain ... What do you do if you want people to shun a behaviour? You ratchet up the level of that behaviour to the extreme (violence) and portray its ill-consequences to them ala Anthony Burgess's 'A Clockwork Orange' (which was a violent guilt trip for both parties). Gujjus are not violent per se but that is what is depicted here as hyper-violence in order to perhaps send out a message that don't turn violent under your leadership (hat-tip to Modi who else - the finger cutting and all that brutality) ... If you shun cycles of revengeful violence against each other "Toh Rann mein phool khilenge" as the dialogue by the little boy says (2 communities could as well have been Hindu-Muslim). But here the irony is that both groups are Gujjus indirectly saying that violence is not something to embrace and as a result it spreads like plague even within communities (Shias-Sunnis? within Muslims). This is the gist so I think it has many other components but this aspect made me realize it was intelligent film-making albeit wrapped up in Bhansali colors... 

At one point the movie has a dialogue: "Abhi aage elections aa raha hain, judge well!!". The right people need to decide and shun the path of violence!! Do you agree or am I imagining things ...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Randomness of Life.

Does what happen in life depend a lot on chance or randomness? Many connections between incidents in our life will be random. Random or chance events can often decide or trigger what we come across and what we follow or choose to do or don’t do. Life is a combination of events some well planned some chance occurrences that can lead to a particular life-state based on the corresponding transition followed – ‘wave collapse’ as stated in quantum physics.

Causality is connected to chance or the other way around? Does the causal link actually sever or is it a figment of our imagination given the probability associated with possible outcomes in every case? We try to associate meaning to an event or a non-event based on our state of mind trying to justify what happened!

For example a book is often a cause for many important decisions in our lives; at least that has been the case or so I perceive, with me - so I’ll vouch for it. Sometimes we are forced into a situation as we are not acting with great foresight. It is a decision we take without much thought. Some may attribute it to God or a higher power, but it could be a quirk of fate, an impulsive decision or a pure chance event or even something positive but for a temporary period - a choice nonetheless.

Are there underlying patterns or a network that makes more sense if seen in total? Everything around us is part of a larger whole, including us or our self! As a complex system we are supposed to be entities that follows certain rules and gives rise to emergence of a larger property or behavior or society etc. Then there is the many-worlds hypothesis – the multiverse. All possible options are in there in some other universe.

What happens when entities in a complex system start to defy rules? The mavericks, revolutionaries, the ones who will not fit in! Do they change the outcome? Do they tweak the final outcome from the most possible outcome to a lesser probable one? Will one entity be sufficient or will it/she be snuffed out? Here persistence, influence and whole lot of other interactions within the network comes into play. To reach what is possibly a tipping point. Also let us not discount the slight changes the system undergoes (a tipping point is not always necessary is what I am stating) which might led to a totally different state of being for an entire species or the limited system we are focusing on.

Yes sometimes things might go horribly wrong too like the brain that goes out of control and cannot cope with excessive inputs (or the information within) leading to mental disorders or madness. The brain has internal states that are sometimes infinitely more important than what any external stimuli can provide. So we need to provide enough time for the brain to think, churn the innards of neuronal networks perhaps – make connections, skim through memory and engage in synthesis! By chance some random connection might happen and you may gain a fascinating insight or creative thought that might cascade onto something unforeseen! So keep your mind's windows open to diverse, random fields, ideas and concepts ...

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Haridwar - Yamunotri - Gangotri - Tunganath - Haridwar

May 25th - Left Bangalore reached Delhi by GoAir flight
May 25th - Reached Haridwar by Jan Shatabdi
May 26th - Haridwar stay at Rajasthan Guest House
May 27th - Leave for Yamunotri (via Dehradun, Mussorie)
May 27th - Night stay at Sayanachatti
May 28th - Yamunotri trek (8:45 AM to 7:15 PM)
May 28th - Night stay at Kharadi
May 29th - Travel to/night stay Uttar Kashi
May 30th - Travel to Gangotri via Harsil
May 30th - Return to Uttar Kashi
May 31st - Travel to / Night stay at Tilwara
June 1st - Travel to Ukhimath (at 7:30 AM) - Visit Omkareshwar Temple
June 1st - Visit Chopta - Reached around 9:30 AM
June 1st - Chopta-Tunganath Trek (12:40 PM to 7:30 PM)
June 1st - Night Stay in hut at Chopta
June 2nd - Return to / Night stay at Devparayag
June 3rd - Return to Haridwar
June 3rd - Stay at Haridwar
June 4th - Whole day stay at Haridwar
June 5th - Haridwar to Delhi by Jan Shatabdi
June 5th - GoAir flight - Delhi to Bangalore

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Of life, ‘Draamebaazi’ & ‘Nautanki Saala’

We all feign, act and portray certain behaviors at some point in time in our lives, even if we are not truly what we are portraying ourselves to be. What is true (especially mental states) and what is not is again subjective, it depends on your inner state of things. Say you are nervous and feel low in confidence - is it really so or is it that your mind is auto-suggesting itself that you are low on confidence when you are actually confident (could be the opposite too). Pretension and faking/falsehood are not really positive aspects of any personality especially if the motive is ulterior, as in the case of professional swindlers. However at times we have to 'act' in order to get something done! Act pricey, act polite, act hurt - acts that we play out everyday.

The movie ‘Nautanki Saala’ seems to have this underlying thread of fake it till you make it within the movie along with several aspects of the acting that we do. Act righteous, act nasty, act good and act bad to achieve our own end, and drive our own agenda! Sometimes good and bad are mere symbols and nothing more. Based on the day and age, culture and which side you are on - we can portray anything as good or bad! Ram and Ravan have both been prescriptive models / symbols of good and bad, but sometimes you can flip the story and the good becomes the bad, and the bad the good! Notwithstanding flaws in the acting, story, pacing or the direction and all the melodrama, the movie has some nuggets of inherent wisdom cloaked in comic shades that only the medium of cinema can bring forth to a discerning audience. And the music is mostly apt and fun throughout!

For example sometimes we quite unconsciously act out a role based on our mental model. Acting like a victim – unknowingly. It is perhaps a psychologically comforting factor that we may not even be aware of as driving our day to day behaviors with others. Our own mind creates a persona for ourselves based on this mental map and we get caught in the loop and behave irrationally or as helpless beings like one of the protagonists. We decide it is a choice albeit sometimes unconscious or subconsciously. So such mental models can be easily changed and we can act or fool our own mind into believing certain things. Although the flexibility is more in some and less in others due to the views or notions that we imbibe and reinforce right from childhood. Some have to adapt to the changes around and other may not have to, so that is something which becomes essential for some.

At other times we depend on the opinion of others or enact a certain behavior to please someone else, get brownie points or just keep a pleasant rapport. Are we being true to ourselves at these times? This can take chronic overtones as we become sycophants or timid personalities trying to keep others happy or act as righteous beings. There are ethics and principles that each of us follows however some may continue to suffer or behave in a certain way that is hurting their own selves and also not helping anyone else instead alienating others. Maybe we as humans are tuned to be natural actors like the bard states ‘All the world’s a stage’ and as per age, requirement, situation and our wants we enact, such great actors that we are! All it takes is a little tweaking of our mental models and we can act and be what we truly want to. And sometimes we have this desire for a seismic shift, through an overwhelming dramatic turn of events in our lives!

The movie through its comic appeal generates a lot of ‘food for thought’ and stimulates our cogitation! So as the movie states there is drama in each of us and in our lives: "Tu bhi Draamebaaz, Main bhi Draamebaaz, Saale Draamebaaz sab yahan … "

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Listen, It Sounds like …

All this noise

Leaves us numb!
I’d rather be
Deaf and dumb!

Sometimes it all sounds like laughter,

Sometimes like a loud blast of shrieks!
The cacophony distorts the real.
As some solitary confine we seek.

Am I being too pessimistic?

Sound often gets masked out by visual delights.
Listen for those moments of lows and highs!
And wait. Just sit still, now.

That heavy, creaking iron door,

Makes sounds,
Like some distant child
Wailing, hurt!

Ah! The vegetable-vendor hawking

Booming sounds - like from some scuffle.
Not cries of despair in a riot actually,
But perhaps excitement over his greens!

What do they speak, shout, bad-mouth about?

Gossip or some pressing, important debate?
Adda over coffee, on cricket and gang-rape.
No maybe a social movement taking shape!

Sparkling sounds of stainless steel kitchen utensils

Sounding like drums - rock and roll.
And then there is Music;
That sounds like the Universe, whole!