Thursday, September 17, 2009

The collective dreams

‘Aim high’, ‘Dream big’, ’Reach for the stars’ are some of the favorite terms used nowadays. There are the inspirational writers to help you get the maximum out of you.

In a free country I can dream of anything. But in a state controlled country, like Cuba, even your dreams are controlled. You have to achieve what the state tells you. Even if you don’t meet the expectations it is perfectly fine but you cannot cross the limit they have set out for you.

So if you ask anyone where he will prefer to live, the answer will be quite predictable. Everyone will prefer a place with minimum laws to control them. Since our media filled our news space with ‘achievers’, we always aspire to be one among them. Recently I got hold of a book which had the author interviewing a few business tycoons of India. I was surprised about a common claim made by all. They say that they rose to the top without paying a single paisa as a bribe. Anyone who read it will immediately get the picture that any honest man can do a business and reach the top.
But is it the case in real life? Until the 80’s Indians idolized the common man striving to make his ends meet. Our film stars were coolies or middle class students or honest cops without getting promoted because of their ideals. We loved the ordinary politicians like Lalu. We believed in the saying ’Behind every great wealth lies a great crime.’

But soon Indians graduating from American B schools came back home to do business. As markets opened up more and more young Indians took the plunge. We developed a dream somewhat similar to the great American dream. So our ideal man shifted from the common hero to Ambanis and Tatas. Our film heroes started living in palatial homes with a helipad and pool in their home.

The Indian youths started aiming for the top slots. It became pretty ok to bypass a few inconvenient laws or influence the Finance Minister to tweak a few laws for your sake. The Indian businessmen started extending their influence in media. Media closed their eyes towards their small mistakes and started whitewashing our business tycoons. So it doesn’t matter if you have achieved your wealth through the wrong means as long as you are favorite with the media.

These two incidents happened recently:
The Andhra CM died recently in copper crash. He brought Congress back to power both in state and centre. He became the poster boy of the party and so when he died it was conveniently forgotten how he openly abetted bribes. People forgot about how his son Jagan made a fortune for the family when his dad was the CM
Down here in Kerala the young scion of a business family was killed by some goons. It was ordered allegedly by a rival hotel group from whom Paul had snatched a prime plot of land. Instead of looking into the involvement of real estate mafia behind this, media got itself busy in finding out the connection the goon had with the son of a minister. The attention of the public was diverted.

So in short nobody cares what your dreams are. Nobody cares how you chase it. What matters in the end is you have to get it. The success or failure merely depends on the end result.

I always wanted to watch ‘Requiem for a Dream’. All my friends who loved good movies had recommended this one. But it was only recently that I got a chance to watch it.

In this movie we get to see four people with a dream of their own.

The mother wants to see his son settled down and married. She gets hooked to a talk show and she dreams about appearing in it wearing her favorite red dress.
Her son, his girlfriend and his other friend all have the dreams of their own which is somewhat like making it big in terms of money.
The mother fails to slim down by dieting. So she turns to a doctor for help. The doctor prescribes pills to which she gets addicted. Her behavior changes and she is hospitalized in the end.
The son and his friends turns to heroine trade, They plan to open up a boutique with that after earning some cash. But things go wrong. His girl friend turns to prostitution for earning the drug. His friend ends up in jail and has to do hard labor and fight with the withdrawal symptoms and the son has his arm amputated.

The final scene shows all of them in bed curling in to foetal positions dreaming about their dreams.

Achieving our dreams gives us a high or in other words a sense of fulfillment. People who couldn’t get there will look for alternative means. It needn’t be drugs. It can be blogging (in my case).

While our text books and media glorify the men who scaled the heights we fail to see the people who fell by the wayside. We must be able to draw inspirations out of them.

We criticize and reject caste system. I am one among them who hates it. But I cannot stop myself from wondering about the positives of it. In a society we need different varieties of people engaged in different activities, for its self sustenance. In a free society every one aims for the top and so the people who fail is discriminated against. May be caste system was created visualizing to give equal status to everyone in society. It might be our mistake that we misused it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Smile

Hey, you guys ever thought of this. Our human race has advanced like anything. We are able to dominate any creature, any situation to our advantage. But can we prevent our body from getting eaten by worms. Not always.

I have been hearing about this book for a long time. I was trying to get my hands on it, but to no avail. This Onam exhibition as I was walking through the stalls I came across a book stall. I was just browsing through when my eyes fell on this book. I grabbed it with both my hands. Thus my dream for some time had been fulfilled even though I had to put away buying some other things I had planned for the day.
It is a Malayalam book written by K.S. Aniyan on the incidents that happened in the life of Dr. V.P. Gangadharan. He is an oncologist working with the Cancer patients. The stories in the book are enough to melt the heart of even the cold blooded. I don’t have any copyright for the thing. But since I believe this story is going to touch anyone who stumbles on my blog, I am compelled to write.
The name of the book is ‘Miracle called life’. I am just translating story here. May be I would rather say it is an abridged version.

No matter how much pain a man has been through, he will be very reluctant to leave his life. He tries to hold on to his last thread of life as his time comes. May be this world is too beautiful to leave.
But it was the first time the doctor was witnessing such a situation. As Sophiya is entering her last days she is smiling more and more. She had a cancer no woman wanted to have- breast cancer. Removing a woman’s breast was like removing her womanhood. But here he is standing perplexed. Because normally he is meant to comfort her. But here she is lying on her bed with a smile and asking for her best friend, Sunandha. Her husband was staring in to the lake through the window with no emotion on his face. That man perplexed the doctor more.
‘Even he is getting bored of this place’, she said.

When she was brought to him cancer had entered in to the most advanced stages. A wound had opened up in the breasts and worms were wriggling in the pus that oozed out. He was shocked. She has been suffering all this pain silently.
‘Didn’t u feel like coming here earlier?’, he asked a bit shocked and a bit angry.
‘Doctor, she didn’t tell anybody about this. We found out when we went for a visit.’ The nuns who brought her here told him.

What were these nuns doing here? Why she is suffering all this as if she is enjoying the extreme pain. The husband who is staring listlessly, unmindful of the happenings around him, not knowing that his wife had a breast with pus oozing out. Doctor could not draw a clear picture out of this story. He was eager to weave together these mysterious threads.

One day as he reached the room during his routine rounds, he heard a crying. He saw woman crying over Sophiya. That was Sunandha, Sophiya’s best friend and someone the doctor wanted to meet. And it was she who unfolded the clear picture of Sophiya’s life story.
‘Sophiya was brought up by nuns in a catholic run orphanage.‘

‘Although she was an orphan, she was talented and very beautiful’

‘Sophiya....beautiful???’ he could not visualize this human skeleton as ‘once up on a time..Beauty-queen’.

‘When she was married off to a well off family everyone felt happy for her. At last she is getting a secure future and a family to call her own. But she had been cheated. The family didn’t reveal that their boy was a mad man.’

‘But it was his brothers who became mad due to lust when they saw her. They dreamt about having sex with the wife of their retarded brother. One day one of the brothers beat her for refusing to sleep with him. Hearing the sound Sophiya’s husband came. The retard started beating her up, hearing the lies of his brother. This became a daily routine. Either let her brother in laws fuck her or get beaten by her husband. The beauty of hers became her curse’

Now the fog lifted. Everything became clear. She is suffering all the pain to destroy her body, destroy her greatest curse. She is smiling because from now on no one will have a lust for her, no one will want to take off her chastity. She had prevailed over all the flesh eaters who wanted her body.

The husband sat in the corridor staring into nothing.

(The story is titled as ‘Smile of fire’. The way I wrote this story won’t come even come close to the real one. So if you get the book don’t think twice. Grab it. And remember this is not a fiction a real life story.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Seasons change....Do we?

In college, my favorite pastime used to be going for movies. I waited eagerly for Friday papers to know which movie is releasing in which theatre. My preference used to be some entertainer with enough masala to get my paisa vasool.
Today, after 2-3 years, going for movies is the last thing I would do on a holiday. I love sitting at home and read or do some writing. I don’t want to go for a movie and waste some 3-4 hours. I am not saying the quality of our movies have deteriorated in 3 years. May be I got enlightened.
But recently I saw one of the best movies I ever seen in a theatre. It was none other than Shyamaprasad’s ‘Rithu’. I am not good in reviewing and nowadays I hate those category of people who does review with hidden agendas and thus churn out stuff ultimately destroying the good movies.

Cinema is perception of director on some subject. His ultimate success lies in how well he communicates his ideas. I believe the viewer has also an important role in understanding what a director is trying to say. The greatest curse today is people read the review first which most probably is a paid one or done by someone with some pre conceived notions. Cinema viewing is passive participation in the making of that cinema.
I want to list out some thoughts I got off from the movie ‘Rithu’. The perspective with which I saw might be different from what someone else has seen

Director has been careful not to portray an ideal character. He has simply painted the characters we see around today. It is left to viewers to choose his role model. Before I proceed three cheers to Joshua Newton who came up with a great thought provoking script on debut. I have read his blog and this man has shown class. Hope he goes a long way. As I said the story is a usual story but the way he transformed this story to tug at a few strings in our heart is amazing.

1. Sharath comes down from USA. He gets a better opportunity here. He comes from a family with leftist background and he himself carries a revolutionary fire in him. He calls up his friends, who are now working for different software MNC. He dreams about carrying on with his passion. Here we see a basic trait seen in us all (especially Mallus). We may have dreams and we may be passionate about them. But we make sure we don’t risk anything chasing them. We always take a safe path.
Here there is also an indication of failed revolutionary who is afraid to take the same path their parents have taken. The older generation is also afraid to commit that their path was the right one. Hence we surrender our dreams to live a ‘settled life’. With time our dreams gets polluted by materialism.
We also measure success in terms of money and other solid assets. Success has become a quantitative term. We measure a student’s performance by the marks he gets and not by the hard work he puts in. Ethics has taken a back seat. Today ends satisfy the means.

2. Sharath expects that his friends not to have changed. But he forgets to look into himself how much he himself has changed. Sunny and Ria has become more materialistic and detached from the reality. The escapism that we see in the people around is seen in their actions. But director has also stated his reasons. Sunny comes from a family with an abusive father. Varsha’s father ran away with another woman. In order to escape from this degraded system they identify more and more with the system. Among the three Sharath comes from a stable family. But in worldly terms a failed family in terms of success. Director points out the tendency to measure value in terms of success. People mistake that everything is a market commodity, even values.
The film says that the erosion of values or moral degradation is not something seen exclusively in the youths of today. The roots have come from the false values imparted from the previous generation. We are witnessing the results now.

3. Another class of people the director has painted is the ones displaced due to the internet city project. As a token they have been relocated somewhere else and were promised jobs in the booming internet city. Director uses a person to represent the whole community. The jobs they have been promised are menial ones. The director has not named the character so I am naming him as DP. DP is forced to move on from one job to another because he is not able to keep up with the pace. At last he is beaten by a gang for not cooperating with their unlawful activities. He tearfully asks ‘Why did you do this to us? At least we could have earned a honest living earlier.’ This is a question to us in large. In order to satisfy the needs and luxuries of a minority, a majority is made to sacrifice their lives. This majority is ignored by all from the ruling class to media. There are few scenes in which Sharath looks at DP. A silent stare with no words or smiles. Have we bothered to look into the lives of people living in the fringes. People who do menial labor for us. I always wonder if I can survive without the man who cleans my toilet in office. But I don’t know his name yet!

4. Then there is Sharath’s boss who dreams about conquering the empire. Her meek husband proves an ideal foil. She is aggressive, stylish and in terms of today’s world ‘successful’. But as movie goes on we come to know that they have sacrificed their family life for material success. She asks if it is worth it to bear children and sacrifice this success. The husband meekly gives in to her wishes. But asks pointed question once in a while ‘Is there any purpose in this?’. A refreshing change from normal filmy situations where men happen to be aggressive. But this situation is on the rise all around. A question to everyone in corporate world ‘Which comes first – Family or Career?’

5. Sunny is a typical character seen around. He had a dream of going abroad and he decides to sacrifice all his ethics and friendships for that. He spies for his boss against his best friend Sharath. Later he cheats the company and tries to sell a secret. In the end he is fell by his own sword. If you play by a rule get ready to fall by it. In this ‘rat eat rat’ world get ready to be eaten by a bigger rat.

6. Sharath’s parents are another set of characters representing a generation who finds it difficult to find any relevance for their principles and ideals in this world. Sharath and his family finds it difficult to understand each other. But his father persuades him to take up writing which ultimately turns out to be his redemption.

When Sharath sits alone at their previous getaway, an old man come and asks him ‘So your friends have gone and you are alone. Look at this tree. It came here in a flood. Took roots here and sheds leaves unchanged for years.’

The childhood friends drift apart from each other. They understand they changed too much to maintain their old relation.

In the end an ultimate question- Have we changed with the seasons? Have the dreams we nurtured once got corrupted with neo materialism? What are our priorities now?

My friend Matt, friend from my school days makes it a point to keep in touch with everyone from our batch. Although I feel a bit irritated at time, in the end I am thankful to him for keeping the old friendships going by acting as a link

About Me

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Shakespeare,Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Lincoln never saw a movie,heard a radio or looked at TV. They had loneliness and knew what to do with it. Thay were not afraid of being lonely because they knew that was when the creative mood in them would work.