Friday, 25 December, 2009

Christmas and Avatar

It was a usual Christmas... Worship service in the morning, heavy lunch and the guests throughout the rest of the day. What was unusual though, about this Christmas was the plan for the evening that we friends had instantly charted out. No, it wasn't about 'Kankaria Carnival' (though even that could have been interesting). Nelson, Roger and I decided to go for a movie. Somewhere in its corner my heart screamed, "How in the world can you plan a movie on Christmas day? Blasphemy... that is blasphemy." But then in the same breath it inquired, "Well, what is wrong with that?" I had nothing else to do. I followed my conviction and decided to go for a movie. The movie selected was James Cameron's much awaited 'Avatar.' So we were off to theatre at 9:15 pm for the last show.

As we settled down in theatre, we watched the preview of "My name is Khan." And I heard a dialogue from Shah Rukh Khan, "My name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist." And the very second, I thought to myself, "oh no, one more movie on the same theme. Another 'New York.'" Actually, I got annoyed, and a thought came, "Will we have movies presenting the case of Hindus in Kashmir, and Christians in Iran? or religious minorities in Islamic countries as well?" But I had not come here for discussions and so I stabbed that lingering thought to death. I was interested in Avatar. And so the movie started.

Only in theatre, I came to realize that the movie was dubbed in Hindi, and that put me off for sometime. But as the movie started, my mind was diverted to understanding the seemingly complicated story and the scientific, technological, biological, 'chemistriological,' vocabulary. It seemed to be a sci-fi movie. I hate sci-fi movies, or perhaps I am too dumb to understand them. So I kept waiting for something interesting to happen. And it did. By the time of interval, I was completely into the movie. And after the interval ... it was a Christmas treat. I was entirely taken by the movie, its script, the idea, the story, the technology, cinematography, just everything, so perfectly delivered.

The story revolves about man's hunger to take over the 'pandorum' planet, inhabited by the 'Navis.' Its about man's use of his unbriddled strength and mind to destroy the weak and feeble. And not only people, but also animals, trees and the entire environment. For me it was a story of man's destructive spirit, and yet thankfully there are at least some (and I am surely there will always remain some), who will choose to make right choices, morally upright choices. Finally, the weak and feeble win because of the strong will of such people, but also because God is on their side. That triggered in me a strong idea of connection between the movie and the message of the Christmas, but again, I though that was reading too much into the movie, and yet I could not deny its possibility.

I should also not forget to mention at two annoying things. Firstly, the 'oohs' and 'aahs' I could hear from people sitting behind us, every time the hero and heroine would carass or kiss each other (oh gosh, we still find such people even in multiplexes) . I tend to think that such people would have never kissed their wives in such a passionate manner at home, and thats why they find it very unusual and exciting. And the second thing was a comment by a person at the end the movie, who said it was a 'cartoon film.' That was hilarious but also irritating at the same time.

Anyway, at the end of it all, thanks to James Cameron for a good Christmas treat.

Tuesday, 3 November, 2009

ગુજરાતી અક્ષર સાથેના મારા પ્રયોગો

મને ગુજરાતી લખતા શીખવાડવા માટે આશિષનો આભાર... પ્રભુ તને હજુ વધુ આશિષ આપે....

Saturday, 24 October, 2009

Jai Hind

Today, for the third time, I watched the movie 'Swades,' and I must say it is as inspiring as ever. May we contribute all that we can, small or big, to this beautiful country of ours. May this sleeping giant break free from the shackles of jaat-paat, from evils of corruption and rise as a nation where love, freedom and justice can reign. Couldn't help remembering the famous 'Gitanjali' by Rabindranath Tagore.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up
into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action---
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Jai Hind.

Tuesday, 28 July, 2009

The Idiot

Fyodor Dostoevsky has influenced many a great thinkers and writers of the Western world through his quality works of literature. “The Idiot” is a masterpiece that he wrote during 1868-1869.

Prince Myshkin, the hero of the novel, though considered an ‘idiot’ by everyone and who rightly was so in his childhood, has not only charming persona, but also such an amicability that even his enemies would, perhaps unconsciously or otherwise, develop an irresistible fondness for him. On his journey from Switzerland to Petersburg, Russia, he meets Rogozhin. Rogozhin speaks to him of his passionate love for Nastasya Filippovna, a notoriously infamous woman and mistress of Totsky. The second chapter introduces several other characters, one of them being General Epanchin, whose wife, Madame Epanchin, actually Myshkin had come to meet. Then, there is a brief introduction of Adelaida, Alexandra and Aglaia, General’s three daughters. Myshkin also happens to meet Ganya, who works as a secretary of General Epanchin. Also, for the first time here Myshkin sees a portrait of Nastasya Filippovna, and instantly proclaims her to be ‘wonderfully beautiful.’ Myshkin soon discovers of Ganya’s plans to marry Nastasya Filippovna, but for a different reason, that of the huge amount (75000 roubles) of dowry he would receive from Totsky. Ganya awaits Nastasya Filippovna’s answer. Myshkin, in some way, ends up in a party thrown by Nastasya Filippovna (in fact, her swayamvar), where she intends to pronounce her final decision as to whom she would marry. To everyone’s surprise, Nastasya asks Myshkin if she should marry Ganya or not. Myshkin struggles to answer but finally asks Nastasya not to marry Ganya. Suddenly, Rogozhin, a thorough drunkard and another strong contender, arrives with his violent bunch of friends from nowhere. Rogozhin offers a hundred thousand roubles for marrying Nastasya. While everyone awaits the beautiful Nastasya’s final answer, in yet another strange gesture of his, Myshkin proposes the lady for marriage. He also declares of a letter that suggested Myshkin to very soon inherit an immense fortune. Despite the best of his efforts, Nastasya decides to go with Rogozhin. Myshkin goes back to Moscow to receive his fortune. During next six months, Nastasya Filippovna comes to Myshkin, but while they decide to marry, she runs away with Rogozhin. Strange as it may seem, soon she runs away from Rogozhin too. Myshkin comes back to Petersburg, looking for Nastasya, but meets Rogozhin instead. Here Myshkin discloses his true feelings for Nastasya Filippovna before Rogozhin, saying that he loves the lady, ‘not with love, but with pity.’ At Pavlovsk, Myshkin gets in touch with the Epanchins once again, and eventually falls in love with Aglaia Epanchin. Myshkin proposes to marry her, but Aglaia, very timely, reveals three letters written to her by Nastasya Filippovna. In each letter Nastasya had asked Aglaia to marry Myshkin, since he too loved Aglaia. However, Aglaia finds these letters confusing and wanting to clear every doubt that surround the strange relationship between Myshkin and Nastasya, she takes the risk of calling the notorious lady for a face-to-face meeting. Their meeting turns out to be full of blames and accusations and even violent after Nastasya, once again, goes wild. In her anger, she challenges that given an option Myshkin would, any day, choose her over young Aglaia. Aglaia runs out of the building, and quite contrary to our expectations, Myshkin stays with Nastasya, or at least stays back to catch her fainting flesh. Aglaia is broken. Myshkin wants to talk about ‘everything’ to Aglaia, but is allowed no opportunity to do so. Myshkin and Nastasya Filippovna prepare for their marriage. And yet again, perhaps as expected at least by now, on their wedding day, Nastasya elopes with Rogozhin. Myshkin is shocked but remains disturbingly quiet. Looking for Nastasya Filippovna, Myshkin comes to Rogozhin’s house. In that dark, gloomy and graveyard like house, Rogozhin takes Myshkin to Nastasya Filippovna, lying in front of them, quiet and pale, no more wild. All the efforts of Myshkin to save that beautiful and infamous lady seem to have reached a dead-end as he stands in front of her murdered body. Rogozhin confesses his crime and is arrested, while prince Myshkin returns to his former state, that of being an ‘idiot’.

Having finished the novel at about 11:30 pm, I threw it on my sofa, greatly disappointed with the conclusion and perhaps quite angry with Myshkin for his decision to stick with Nastasya Filippovna. My resentment continued till I realized that Myshkin does not love Nastasya Filippovna as a passionate lover like Rogozhin does. He does not love her the way he loves Aglaia either. His love for her is beyond the confines of passion and romance. It is love out of ‘pity,’ or perhaps I should say ‘compassion.’ In this, Myshkin is presented as an idealistic figure, just like Jesus. It is strange that figures like Myskin and Jesus are often appreciated by everyone around them and yet they remain isolated beings and mere ideals because of the very idealism they are appreciated for. For some others, they are fools. Myshkin’s is a story of a struggle that an ideal person passes through when he lives in this perfectly imperfect world, the valley of the shadow of death. What happened to Myskin, they did to Jesus. As the novel ends, one just waits for Myshkin to rise again, just as Jesus did, but Myshkin is no God.

“The Idiot” is neither a mere love-story, nor just a thriller. It is both of it together. Yet more than anything else, it is about Dostoevsky’s efforts to search through human heart, to explore the intentions of it. He does explain mundane things, and yet goes beyond them to gauging motivations that lead them. Dostoevsky's courage to generously convey his Christian convictions, especially against atheism and nihilism, is also praiseworthy. One of the statement that I could remember is: "Friend of humanity with shaky moral principles is the devourer of humanity" -

One of the most fascinating passages in the book is Ippolit’s explanation of the picture of Jesus that he saw at Rogozhin’s house. It is certainly very well put. Well, at the end of it, I have become great fan of Dostoevsky and have started reading his famous ‘The Brothers Karamazov.’

Wednesday, 1 April, 2009

Thus saith Albert Einstein:

"A Ship is always safe at the shore – but that is NOT what it is built for.”

Tuesday, 13 January, 2009

Beginning New Year with Hansi

Finally, 2009 has begun. A lot has been happennng here in Gujarat, and in my life as well.

I began my year with Hansi. Ok, before we go further, a small clarification: Hansi is the name of a novel written by Maria Anne Hirschmann, that I completed recently. Its a story of a German girl brought up under the influence of Nazism in 1940s. Hansi becomes a blind devotee of Nazism, and thinks that it has got solution to all the problems in the world. Then she meets people who have walked on similar path dicouraged and full of grievances. She does not want to give up. For her, Hitler and his ideals are everything. She does not understand why Hitler has to suicide, but does not waver an inch from her convictions. Finally, she falls in the hands of Russian soldiers and flees for her life. For quite some time, she plays hide and seek with death, but each time escaping it. She manages somehow to flee to West Germany which is a safer side, and begins her life again. One fine day, when she meets Jesus she realizes that her life held a purpose. A purposeless life suddenly finds a reason to live. By the time the book ends, Hansi has discovered God's purpose for her life, as she surrenders herself into His hands and God starts using her for drawing others near Him.

What was interesting about it? - an innocent girl with a desire to change the world, her failures to realize her ideals, struggles to find the love of her life in the middle of war, her simple questions and difficulties to understand God.

A good book to begin my year with. I normally don't begin my year with resolution, but I wish I spend a little more time in reading this year.

Sunday, 26 October, 2008

Tryst with Movies

In last two months, I have watched more than ten movies. Does than make one movie buff? If it does, then a small revelation: I think I was lying when I said in the last blog that I am not a movie buff.

Three Hindi movies: Bachna Ae Haseeno and Rock On. I must confess that I have never watched a movie worse than BAH. We thought it would be a good stress-buster, after a long day. But, sadly, I could not reach even 'time-pass' category. Thank God, we reached a little late to theater. The jokes in the movie hardly made us laugh. Absolute boring. '1920' a horror movie was 'comparatively' better, which I watched later.

Our dissatisfaction led us to a new business of 'movie-hunting' for next few weeks.

A week later, "The Quest" reached its destination, with "Rock On" in theaters. I must say after BAH's complete disappointment, 'Rock On' was complete 'Paisa Vasool.' Unlike Bipasha's latka-jhatka, in BAH 'Rock On' had no 'masaledar' songs or scenes. And yet, it appealed more. Perhaps, because it has a simple story-line, less artificiality and great application. Music is just superb. It was a job well-executed. So thumbs up to these guys.

And now, some movies from Hollywood section. Two Chinese movies: Fearless and The Forbidded Kingdom. Both has Jet Li as the lead actor, and in the later Jackie Chan is an added attraction. Both movies are ok. 'Fearless' speaks much about the use and misuse of Kung Fu, and so a moral lesson as well. 'The Forbidden Kingdom' has jaadui fights and mysterious story-line. So, 'Fearless' is a better option.

Two other movies from Hollywood section are: The Bank Job and The Dark Knight. The former is based on true story and is quite interesting. The Dark Knight is a successful effort to resurrect Batman. Mind-blowing stunts and character steal the show. Hats off again.

Conclusion?- May be I should start another blog about my tryst with movies. Just a thought.