Thursday, July 23, 2015

On original thought

What is originality?This is one of the fundamental questions that very few people bother to ask.What is an original thought and what is its importance?What people think and believe is affected by so many things that after a point it becomes really difficult to separate the adopted thought  from the genuine.

The fact is that there is a general level of acceptance about certain things like if a politician says that women should not have voting rights he would be shred to bits on prime time news because the general acceptance in the society is that men and women are equal at least that is what everybody in principle has  to pretend no matter what they think in their private lives.But  if the same politician had said the exact same words a 100 years back they would not have evoked sharp criticism only raised brows may be and if he had said the same thing 200 years back it would have uninteresting even dull responses because he would be stating only the accepted norm of the  society. So the point  is that there is a certain unwritten common  code of acceptable behavior which the society follows and it cant be codified

But fast forward 200 years and the accepted norms are changed.The question arises how do these changes arise and why do we as a citizen blindly follow the accepted norms the prevailing society.If for example a person holds the opinion of equality of men and women because it is what everyone says .Should that person get credited for holding such broad views about women or is he merely a function of the society that he is born in ?.It raises the serious question whether  our thought is only reliant on the prevailing society or are capable of independent thought process of our own?And if so where does our influences end and original thought begin?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

On Freedom

I don't know what kept me from writing for so long...i guess it was the lack of readership or rather lack of interaction which disinterested me in writing posts.And i think it hits everyone who blogs at some point of time when  you don't seem to have the motivation to blog but here i am giving it another go.
For some time now i have been thinking about freedom and what is it actually.Now it being an abstract concept it is very difficult to come up with an exact definition for it and yet wars have been fought, massacres have been committed, people have have been killed  for this very abstraction.

But are we really free??Us the people who are supposedly free now that the British have left(Obviously i am referencing India only because it is unlikely that the six people who would be reading this post would have a US passport).Do we make the choices that we want to make?Or are we just following the existing structure of the society because that is what we are supposed to do and that is what is easy to do??In that respect are our choices the function of our surroundings and if so than where does the freedom lie?Isn't it all an illusion of freedom under the chains of societal norms.?

What i believe is that freedom is a huge responsibility.Freedom makes us feel lost.Freedom makes it difficult to decide because there is no guideline to follow.Freedom can make life hell.And so we have devised several contraptions to give us a path to follow which includes religion.Now religion in itself can be a very broad term but the one here is the ugly organised religion of evangelism and conversions.This is the religion of the priest in the grand inquisitor(Brothers Karamazov) where the priest rebukes Christ for having given the curse of freedom to the people and says that he is no longer needed.The chains of church would provide the salvation to the common man.

But i don't want to go into how freedom is suppressed.I want to talk about are really free???anywhere at all??anyone at all??what is true freedom?I think true freedom would lead to us gratifying our needs.And in all possibility in the order of Maslow's pyramid.But to be able to know ones desires,that in itself has become a big task because of the years of influence of the existing society wherever we live.To be absolutely free of the shackles of society that is something that i think about.The people who meditate possibly Buddha or Mahavira might have come across this only.They might have been able to delve deeper into themselves and see beyond what was being projected on them by their times.

If we make free decisions,where would that lead us to?Not just big decisions the daily life decisions that we make.How do we spend the 24 hours that we are provided daily?Eating ,sleeping, performing daily routines beyond this how do we decide what to do with our time?Most would be doing a job.But ultimately it is something that we do for money?So is that what should be our driving force??Is that what our freedom has led us to??And there is no denying the value of money.But if we are free to do anything what would we to do?

Monday, April 01, 2013

Desiderata- A poem

DESIDERATA(by Max Ehrmann)

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender

be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Moral of the Armstrong story.

The scandals of Tiger woods (who had squeaky clean image) Bill Clinton and even more recently and closely the spectacular fall of Rajat Gupta make one wonder whether the proverb "you can fool some of the people all  the time,you can fool all the people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time", is really true at all.These were people who had everything most people think or dream of, they were the epitomes of  a public image and what we come to know in the end is that they were just fooling all the people all the time.

We need heroes.There is no denying it.there is almost a natural tendency in humans to look up to someone,to pull you up in tough times and Lance Armstrong was born for it.The great American hero, the cancer survivor ,seven time Tour de France winner, philanthropist, a larger than life image, a fairytale  too good to be true, a living legend.

That is why his fall from grace hits even harder.

I remember we used to have a moral science chapter about real life heroes and Armstrong was it looks odd (for lack of a better word) that we used to study his heroics as apart of our syllabus.I don't know if the book is still on but consider a boy who has just read about him and learns of his doping....

The fact that he could fool so many people for such a long period of time is really awe inspiring.Armstrong never accepted that he doped even when people wrote books about it or when his team mates alleged it,he even sued people for alleging doping on him.One can not help but feel  hatred for someone who harassed other people for speaking the truth,who used to visit children and deliver inspiring speeches when he himself was the God of sleaze.The amount of goodwill,trust and hope that people invested in him, in his image was tremendous and his fall has affected many not in the least the patients funded by his Livestrong foundation.Now that he has been caught he emerges a mere mortal, the deconstruction of his image shows a fallible human who did whatever he could to save himself.Even now; going to Oprah and making a show out of his confession does not improve his credentials,because thats what trust is about ,when you break it and at this level ;even the Queen of confessions can't save you.

The moral of the story in our moral science book was that hard work and strong will conquers all but the way things are this appears to be very far from truth.The moral seems to be that deceit and treachery wins all,that in this world you can get away with any thing you do,and that even a 7 time cycle champ cant be trusted to be honest and real,that this world has come to such a point that when we look for inspiration what we see as role models  are just carefully cultivated charades of people with money and a good PR agent.

Or that moral can be that while looking for inspiration we should not look up to someone but to our own self,to the innate belief in one,that we should not judge other people simply because its an impossible act to perform,that when we decide our morals we should not need the help of someone else.Whatever Armstrong might have done in the races the fact remains that he did beat cancer fair and square,that what he achieved still remains something most people fail to do, that his will and determination did indeed succeed at something,that he did raise $500 million for cancer patients.

May be the true moral is somewhere in between, somewhere between the extremes, somewhere between black and white, somewhere between the pessimism and the optimism....... like everything else in life.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The outrage and the country.

The latest thing to have caught the mood of the nation after the corruption protests is the heinous crime on the 16th of December. The lawlessness of this country was once again displayed for the world to see.The fact that it took one week for the prime minister of this country to speak up on the issue while the president of the united states made a public statement on the very day of connecticut shootings requires another post.For now it is about this incident.The crime was dastardly ,make no mistake about that but what intrigued me was the outrage that followed it.

What beats me in the outrage is that people react only when a such a crime is committed in the tier 1 city and that too in a "decent" area.Does any one know Thangjam Nanao Singh?.Not many.No one cares for the brutal cases that occur in the hinterlands of this country or in city slums.No vigils are held for them ,no one raises a voice for them.In short, no one gives a damn.

Moreover the knee-jerk reaction is what surprises me the most..Does any one remember the  Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes case?Not many.The outrage,the facebook groups squared up to zilch.This has become a sort of a cycle.,an incident in a metro, outrage, rally,provocative emotional images and graphics(at times with background score) on news channels, candlelight vigils,facebook likes groups,change the t20 match of India....sehwag scores a ton....whatever happened to the incident.

This is seriously sad. 

I don't have a problem with death penalty or castration or whatever you wanna do with the culprits but the problem in this country are not laws but their implementation ,the required amount of police personnel,their training to deal with such incidents,the patriarchal mindset of the society .

The offender does not feel free because of lack of laws but because he knows that the girl will herself not speak up,even if she does the social and parental pressure will push her down,if she does manage to reach the police station the insensitive police would not cooperate and if the culprit is influential,might simply refuse to make an fir. Supposing she beats all odds ,the pathetic judicial system makes sure the remaining glimmer of justice is quashed.

Call me a cynic but this " 'like'-this-to-bring-a-change","click-here-for-revolution","change-dp-to-to-change-the-nation" kind  of armchair slacktivism makes me squirm.A similar kind of "activism" was shown during the corruption protests when many went to the jantar mantar to get a pic with Indian flag to make a dp because it was the new "in-thing".Teaching your maid's kid a new word every day can bring more change than this.A false sense of altruism is all one gets most of the times.This comic by Garbage Bin shows the hypocrisy.

Not that there is no hope for this country ,the repeated protests and anger in this country do indicate there is a silver lining for this country after all.But this system needs massive changes.This rape incident and the lokpal issue point to  the larger need of police,judicial,electoral and  administrative reforms.There have been countless committees for them but it is only when people get on the streets for them when the politicians would bother with them. Till then the politicians are happy making more committiees and the people are happy creating a new page to like.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Wasseypur saga (Spoilers Galore)

When i first heard about GOW i was very excited about it as AK had come as a revelation to me  recently when i had watched Gulaal and i was blown off by it.I thought that AK's  take on small town gangs would be interesting.So in a way i was already biased in its favor before watching it.I travelled 40 km to see the movie so that i could enjoy the movie in its full flow and magnificence.And it didn't disappoint.

It has AK written all over it and it is fitting that he be compared with QT .

Strangely Humour is the first word that comes to mind when thinking about GOW.It is really odd that a crime film with so much amount of gore and violence and abuses should invoke humor as a first word but i could not stop laughing during the film.AK's humor is not your regular slipping on a banana peel slapstick it is wacky, it is black, observational, situational almost to the point of being cruel but stops short of it.I don't know if there are words to describe his humor.

GOW is full of such examples two of my favorites are the operation in the dark scene in the first part where the fearsome sardar becomes unreasonably caring for his son who barely has an  injury.Another is the one where ramadhir asks his son which "cinema" he went to see the day before and JP sheepishly tells DDLJ.The look of disappointment on Ramadhir's face,the guilt and embarrassment on JP's face are all priceless.AK manages to takes such funny situations out of daily lives and portray them on screen, which is brilliant..The one where Durga puts a loaded gun her sons bag and asks him not to get into a fight with a straight face is another gem.One other  priceless scene that comes to mind is the one with Abhay Deol and the Aunty with a bus Ticket in Dev D, that scene had me in splitts for a long time.

The music plays a great role in setting the mood of the film and it has been dealt with carefully.AK has done a great job here with the an innovative soundtrack by Sneha Khanwalkar, Piyush Mishra, and the background score by GV Prakash.Barring the song Moora which i believe is pretty uplifting and leaves a impression, but doesn't work well in the film as a sort of strength giving track for Faizal Khan, all the songs help in taking the story forward. 

The way the woman characters were given a backseat along with Asghar and Farhan could have been done away with.The way Nagma Khatoon's character was shaped up in the first part, much more was expected then a one time riling up of her son, also the character of Mohsina doesn't have a major say in the scheme of things other than singing a song and a few hilarious scenes.

Death becomes commonplace in the city and is almost trivialized by the sad songs sung by Yashpal Sharma of which he keeps track by counting the beats on his fingers. In spite of this, the climatic death along with the epilogue does leave you a bit poignant.Also it leaves the space open for a Wasseypur series if not soon then may be 10 to 20 years later but the saga can be continued and may be till then the real life inspiartions would give more fodder  for the story.

Although the two films individually have their own place but the best way to see GOW is as one movie which surpasses the individual films.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Not just another show

One of the things that i dislike is the use of  someones emotions for one's benefit especially the emotion of sorrow.The awkward silences, polite talks, solitary tears  all just make me cringe and i just  loathe these kind of methods.
So when on the sunday morning i switched on the tv  like millions others ,one can imagine the disappointment when i saw aamir calling assorted ladies and hearing their sad stories.I thought  aamir too had fallen prey for the tears-for-trp business even though he did it in a more subtle manner and  gracefully showed the tears and horror of the audiences but still it looked stage managed and it probably was.But as the show went by, it appeared to become bigger than just use-and-throw of the emotions of people for trps.The research,the  travel, the experts , the intent ,  the decision to participate himself to lead the way forward to the solution and most importantly the effort to encourage people against the female foeticide cause  made the show more than  a exploitation-of-the-emotions show.
But herein lies the catch; in making his show different from others aamir has taken a really major decision by himself participating in causes , he must understand that just doing celeb lip service to a cause will bring major flak and criticism to him.He has made it more than just trps and as he intended it to be; it  is not just another show not only for the audiences but also for himself he can not get himself away from it just by shooting for it.It will or at least should take a significant portion of his time.
The major criticism for the show is that aamir has no magic wand and that there are activists who have been leading the cause for decades and that aamir is being listened because he is a star and that his efforts are only giving pr to the cms and they will do nothing more. But i think  aamir himself made it clear on the show that  it is the people who have to change and no amount of regulations can help unless people change, secondly this should not be one up manship that he is a one day wonder and that others have worked for decades, the "activists" should look at it as another helping hand.It must be understood that what he brings to the table is attention to the cause and that the battle would still be long but more people will join in.Lastly it is too early too comment on the show ;how the show fares will largely depend on how aamir takes the issues forward in the future; it is too early to be cynical about it or question his intentions;he has a long way to go but at least he is the only who has made the step in the right direction .It is not just another show ;not for the viewers and if aamir is not acting it certainly should not be for him..........