Archive for June, 2007

But it Rained …

As I alighted from the train in Chennai, the cold morning rain slapped hard on my face. Rains in Chennai are not very common. Uncommon rains have one thing in common for me.

They always spell bad news.

Machan, bad news da. AK passed away some time back”. That was six hours ago. After that came a flurry of shell shocked phone calls. The truth was impossible to swallow. Doubt, disbelief and sadness combined in my head in proportions they never had before.

As I made my way back home, I tried to push my mind to remember what ever it could of the wonderful times that we had had together; moments that defined AK for me.

Somehow each moment always had him jumping up and down, a uncorked cracker of energy, with a voice that was always set on ‘cheering-at-the-stadium’ accompanied by a smile that could light up a few street blocks. His pants hung loose about him and his pure enthusiasm threatened to rub on to everyone within a considerable distance.

I can never put a word to describe the relationship we shared. In some ways, I felt very close to him for one simple reason. We understood each other perfectly. He’s helped me many times and I have tried to reciprocate it.

To the end, I believe that he remained how he used to be. He’d love to take matters into his own hand. He chose not to worry his friends with the bizarre details of the disease that he was battling. I am told he even reported to work the day before he was taken to the hospital.

Now that he’s gone, only one thing worries me the most is that I am not able to mourn him the way I feel I should.

Life goes on for others, even when it ends for some.
Sadness plays deep in the heart, but the tears don’t come.
Would they who passed want it this way?
Would they have wanted us to remember them one more day?
Would they have wished we mourned them some more?
Would our wanton smiles burn holes in their soul?
He was a good man, one of very few
But we now live in a world without him … a hopeless truth
We shall meet again my friend,
Your memory shall ride with us to the end.
Dear AK- May your soul rest in peace. May your laughter echo in our ears. May your memories fill up our years.
God bless you.

~ AK ~
~ 24th August 1978 – 25th June 2007 ~

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They should have built the House of Mirrors in every city in India. People would forget to work, brush, eat … much less everything else other than to pay their daily visit to the place. Oh and how enthralled they would be! They would see themselves differently! The fat would be thin! The thin would be fat! The drooped would become tall again! And the hairless would remain the hairless.

Since someone figured out that putting mirrors all around the place was not really their cup of tea, somewhere along the past, they discovered a more suitable placebo.

They decided to call it many things. But someone creativity-deprived person spake Bollywood, and thus it was born.

A little frustating etymology here: Anyone who has been to Mumbai knows that the city is known much less for its woods than its traffic and Bhel Puri. And I wonder why the Orange brigade forgot to change Bolly to Molly when they changed Bombay to Mumbai.

So it’s Mollypuri for me and everyone cares to read any further.

What does this industry give us? The answer to that question is very interesting. The next time you enter a movie theater, briefly glance back at the people in the row behind you before the movie begins. A bunch of normal squabbling, cell-phone chatting people that you would find in any movie hall.

Once the lights go out and the hero comes and bangs up some poor guy who got paid to fall over for the guy with an extra digit, turn around and look at those people in the glow of the ‘tinsel’ light.

Ah! Not the same people are they? You can see their lips smiling in unison. Their mouths would part together and the frowns would come in a rapid Mexican wave. They are transcending into a world that they know they will never be in, but something that they can live for a few hours on the movie screen.

Take my word for it! Each member of the audience can easily identify themselves with the hero and heroine easily. And in real life, the association continues. How many times have we found ourselves asking ourselves right after a movie ‘What would Aamir do in this situation’? Have you noticed that when people come out of the movie hall after watching Superman Returns, the average walking and driving speed tends to be a noticeable shade higher?

Taking a specific example, the audience did not like Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna for a variety of reasons. The said reason was that it was a touchy issue that people found didn’t quite go well with popcorn and coke. But I imagine the real reason is that there was a huge identity crisis in the movie. It was that the audience could not identify with a single character in the movie. Who was the hero/heroine in the movie after all? Who was the villain who got beaten up? Karan Johar went ahead and portrayed people as they are, shades of grey et all.

The audience had no one to look up to. No one to identify with. No one to sympathise or cheer for. They trick mirrors had been taken away. They were looking at themselves.

Nothing is more prevalent in Hindi movies than the concept of eternal, omnipresent and ever-dependable love. It pervades everything. From the posters to the songs to the theme to the title to the subtitle to the dialogues to the the fights. There are two ways to look at this over-prevalence of love in the movies of today.

Point 1. An unimaginative set of producers and paraphernalia who sit down and discuss thus
Producer: “Let’s call it Tuje Dekha Tho …”
Music Director: “That’s great. People will remember Kajol and SRK running in green and yellow fields. Acha hai
Producer: “How do we start it?”
MD: “First song – Hero proposes to heroine (melody); second song – item number – Hero’s ex at a bar; Third song – Hero’s dog dies (tragedy) and so on..”
Producer: “Wah! That’s it.”
Storywriter: “Maybe we can base it around something .. like a bank robbery?”
Producer: “That’s right. We’ll have a shot of the bank every 15 minutes!!”

Not quite, you may say. Must how many movies unfailingly stick to the same plot? If the story repeats and producers are sane, then the real reason has to be point 2.

Point 2. Love sells.

In this age of censorship, love is as far as they can go. And love is also a good enough excuse to do a lot of other things. You didn’t think we’d realise eh, Emraan? Love (and by love I refer to the a natural way of falling in love, where boy meets girl, sparks fly – you know the routine) is something that the our hypocritical junta revel in as long as its on 70mm. Bring the same drama into their living rooms and all the Oscar performances for Best Actor/Actress in a negative role wouldn’t be enough for them.

If love is such a nice thing to enjoy on the screen, why are we Indians opposed to enjoying it ourselves or letting others enjoy it? Its because the line between the reality that we are in and the reality that we don’t mind enjoying for a couple of hours is manned by one powerful man.

The ticket collector at the gate of the cinema hall.

Here’s an interesting fact (Venky are you listening?) :
The word hypocrisy derives from the Greek hypokrisis, which means “acting out”. Hypokrisis applied to any sort of public performance , hypokrites was a technical term for a stage actor.

There you have it. The next time you meet Hritik just tell that his last movie was the most hypocritic performance from him that you have ever seen so far.

Strike me down if he doesn’t blush.

Bottom line: We live in a dream. Not realising that can be injurious to the health as it is seriously associated with heart problems.

P.B. Whether or not you liked this post, did you notice that whenever I referred to the Indian public, your mind automatically went “Oh! Them! He’s not talking about me”. Good news: You’re not a hypocrite. Bad News: You just have double standards.

As for me, I’ll press publish on the screen and go watch a nice Hindi love story. I’m every bit the hypocrite!

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