MASAAN: Of Burying and Letting Go

The song Mann Kasturi that soothingly coalesces the two lives of Deepak and Devi as they converge on the ghat, stranger to each other yet connected by a similar experience of life, symbolizes the homecoming of a realization. The realization that the tragicness of life can only be lived through acceptance and letting go. Devi and Deepak’s bitter experiences jolted them from inside to the point that neither of the two could come to terms with their loss. They wrestled with their emotions and inner turmoil, often desperately latching onto little memories of the one who had left them so that they can perhaps taste again the presence that eluded them. When a desperate Deepak dives into the Ganga to fetch Shalu’s ring that he himself had thrown after having grappled with the emotions surrounding it only to come out in vain, he finally comes to the understanding that life is ever fleeting and cannot be captured or contained. That it’s only the memories that one can hold onto and cherish. In that moment he gained a lot even after losing what was dearest to him. 

Devi on the other hand was battling it out not only against the outside world that saw her as a supposedly “defiled” woman, but more so with her own self. The conundrum of being responsible for the life of her lover had paralyzed Devi with guilt. She had never imagined that she would have to pay such a heavy price for loving someone. Her love was innocent and sincere. They say true love demands sacrifice. Did Devi’s love fall short of the mark or did it cross over the line to have meted out such a cruel fate? Maybe Love also at the end of the day is a privilege reserved only for a chosen few. Devi’s moment of closure arrives when she truly accepts that while love can be an individual choice, the course of life is universally unpredictable and uncontrollable. It surfaces differently for everyone. In her case a very catastrophic one! 

And so as Deepak and Devi march towards the infinite possibilities of life, connected by the thread of a shared sense of pain, they are now conscious and aware that the scent of musk that the Kasturi is desperately seeking outside actually lies within. That THE ONLY WAY OUT IS IN.

Article 15: An Expedition Into The Known and The Unknown

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A film that puts forth more questions than it answers and spreads itself into the social fabric of our society, making for a very compelling narrative. Anubhav Sinha’s ‘Article 15’ is a tale of the complexity that pervades India’s socio-political setup. It is not merely the caste based discrimination that the movie engages with, but also the politics of unequal social hierarchy and vested interests within the same caste. It portrays with chilling starkness the wide chasm that exists between the lives of privileged urban class people and the downtrodden rural one. Nishad’s case vis-a-vis  Ayan’s gives an insight into the dichotomy of the haves and the have-nots, where Ayan belonging from the upper strata of society, having studied in one of the prestigious colleges in India is able to have a fruitful relationship with Aditi, Nishad on the other hand is so entangled in struggling and fighting for the rights of his community that his personal life (relationship with Gaura) takes a backseat and never really flourishes. This is vividly exemplified in his outcry of not being able to dip his feet in the river for five minutes or experience true happiness with his ladylove for a few moments. The have-nots (in this case Nishad, who is representative of his community) are far away from enjoying such simple pleasures of life because their lives are a perpetual struggle for survival and equality, whose denial has left them on the fringes of society. The discrimination rooted within the same caste (Kanyakubj over Saruparin) in case of Brahmins and (Chamar over Pasi) in case of Dalits, raises an eye over how deeply entrenched and intermeshed this whole social template is. How this unequal social template has led to the creation of vested interests in certain Dalits, who feed on the misery of their own community by being a part of this degenerated system when in power and playing the victim card when in opposition. The movie is essentially a study of such problematics as it pushes us to think, unthink and rethink.

Genius at Play

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“There’s a point at 7,000 RPM… where everything fades. The machine becomes weightless. Just disappears. And all that’s left is a body moving through space and time. 7,000 RPM. That’s where you meet it. You feel it coming. It creeps up on you, close in your ear, asks you a question. The only question that matters. Who are you?”

As these words of Carroll Shelby hits your ears you sit back, pause for a second and reflect on the richness of the moment. The existential feeling it brings about as you ponder over the fundamental question that humanity has grappled with for years. While you’re doing that Ford vs Ferrari catapults you to the moment of reckoning, to Ken Miles, a champion in action effortlessly caressing his way through those race tracks of Willow Springs. Miles is one of those rare individuals who plays out a moment beautifully and makes himself a sheer treat to watch. However he reserves his best for the grandest of stages. The 24 hours of Le Mans, one of the most if not the most challenging sporting events in the world. Miles, as Shelby said was a “pure racer”. Someone who understood himself so well which thereby enabled him to know his craft of endurance motorsport racing in and out. He had the understanding that a machine also needs care and love just like humans and when provided with the right nurturing makes you soar to those hawkish heights. Miles, played out to perfection by the versatile Christian Bale, wasn’t just any racing champion. He made racing look like poetry in motion. His uncanny ability to play out in bursts was his hallmark. Miles’ understanding of time was unparalleled. He could sense when the tide was turning and there he would be hawking onto the moment, capitalising on it to edge out an enthralling finish that bordered on the dramatic. What Miles did at the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1966 wasn’t just a sporting spectacle, it was pure art, emanating from an artist who had a profound understanding of himself and his environment around him. An unflinching belief in his own ability, an undying passion for his craft and an immaculate sense of timing is what separated Miles from the rest. That’s the sign of a genius. 

And so as you ask yourself the only question that matters, try reflecting on what is it that you love most. What is that thing that makes you feel alive and gives you immense joy. For the way to knowing who you are goes through what you truly love.

Here and Now: Grabbing the Present

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The spinning totem (that doesn’t stop even though it tends to stop) at the end of Inception, as the shot cuts out is in my opinion one of the most baffling endings to a movie. It has divided opinions on whether Cobb was still dreaming or whether it was reality and he actually made it across the dream sequence. One can never know for sure. Nolan refuses to answer it and with his refusal this secret will forever be buried deep down. However what’s important is that this enigma challenges the very notion of reality or dare I say Absolute reality. It drives home the point that the line between what’s real and what’s not is blurred, and at the end of the day we all believe in our own subjective realities. To each person his own. Perhaps Cobb went with the same dictum. Him not looking back at the totem meant that he no longer was bothered by whether his current moment was still part of his dream or not. He chose to believe in the current spacetime he was occupying. This became his reality. We measure reality through our sensory perceptions and for every person that sensory experience differs and is very unique to that individual. So whose experience is the absolute real? Can we say for sure? Maybe more than obsessing over finality and imported belief, a trust in our own unique experience will take us a long way in helping us understand ourselves and in unraveling the subtler aspects of life. Our unique experience does not lie in our pondering past or in our expectant future but in the ever booming present. The past is ever fleeting and even as you’re reading this the moment is gone and gone again. There’s no past, there’s only this moment. Everything is here and now.

T.S.Eliot put it best:

“Time past and time future, what might have been and what has been point to one end, which is always present.”

It’s time to reclaim the PRESENT !

I N T E R S T E L L A R : A Cosmic Love Affair

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Rarely do you come across an artwork that touches your soul and blows you off your mind. I am sure you might have come across many such different things in life, be it a Picasso masterpiece, Beethoven’s symphony, a diminutive Messi footworking his magic or a Shakespearean classic perhaps. We all crave for such moments of magic, don’t we? Something that’s created out of the ordinary, the mundane and made into something larger than life. Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ in many ways typifies that artistic gem. For some people it just might be another visual entertainment but for all cinephiles and art lovers out there, Interstellar goes beyond a mere film and caters more to their sensibility just as it does to me. It makes you marvel at the possibility of what lies beyond the immediate, the gamut of phenomena that’s occurring out there. As Coop rightly said “We are explorers, pioneers”. Humanity’s greatest task lies in fathoming the unknown and viewing ourselves in relation to it. To not get fazed and fearful by the magnitude of it (a human being essentially fears what’s unfamiliar and unknown to him), to not go gentle into that “good night” and most importantly to learn to adapt. 

Nolan’s mastery lies in how deeply personal his films pan out to be. A father-daughter relationship lies at the heart of Interstellar. One of the most heart wrenching scenes in the film, where Cooper listens to a grown up Murph’s messages calling out to him as he bursts out in tears captures human emotions in its most raw and real form. To not see your children growing up and then suddenly see them as the same age as yours is a very absurd prospect. One wonders whether it is terrifying or sad. 

Interstellar tries to fathom one abstract entity (Time) through another abstract one (Love). Two potent forces that govern our life yet so mystifying to us. Love is perhaps the most defined, often corrupted word in the world. Most of us claim to know what love means but very few understand what it truly is. Brand understood it even if her sacred scientific temperament didn’t vouch for such a notion of love. She understood that love goes beyond physical dimensions encompassing a reality that is not within our grasp yet but still out there. I guess the biggest facet of love is that it brings about an unflinching belief in you and makes you hope against hope. An iron will is the very bedrock of love. The watch that Coop gave to Murph beautifully symbolises the unification of Time and Love. Their love found expression through a time instrument. A love that ventured beyond the three physical dimensions to survive the ravages of the fourth one. 

Connecting all these threads was the music of Hans Zimmer, a modern legend. The abstract nature of Zimmer’s score perfectly captures emotions and sensations that at times cannot be described by language. It feels as if his music is sort of a teleporting machine that transports you into outer space. The sheer intensity of the docking scene is a sight to behold. You feel the force of something that’s way bigger than you. In that moment you realize how you’re just a small part of this creation and not the big inflated figure that you tend to think of yourself. The beauty of Interstellar is that it humbles you. When Nolan juxtaposes the supposedly “big” human being as against the rest of the creation that is all inclusive and dynamic, you realize that you are not the centre of the universe but just a part of it. The only way forward to knowing what’s out there is to be all inclusive. To “wonder at our place in the stars” we must, for that is the path of the seeker, and not “to worry about our place in the dirt”. Amongst the stars is where we shall venture for that is interstellar.

The Unwantedness

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What is it like to not feel wanted. What is it like to not have those passionate emotions within you equally reciprocated. What is it like to come so close yet so far to the thing you’ve always desired in life. What is it like to suffer rejection time and again knowing that the hope within you just doesn’t seem to go away especially when you so badly want it to leave. What is it like to stand on the edge of the cliff knowing that the fall might kill you, yet hope of taking the leap of faith. What is it like to lose a part of yourself every time you decide to give in. What is it like to experience all this spurring of emotions knowing that you’re being consumed by it and that you are unable to help fix it.

A sort of helplessness seems to hover above. Restlessness and dejection takes over and all you’re left with is those tiny drops that just doesn’t seem to come out but get stuck somewhere right at the periphery. With the head hanging down reminiscing of the numerous possibilities, you just sit there and think and hope that SOMEDAY your day will come. The ray of hope does find a small way amidst the despair only to disappear a while later and you just keep swinging between the intensity of these varying emotions hoping to come to a resolution.

My Soul is marching on

The grinding wheel of time hath crushed full many a life of moon and star, And many a brightly smiling morn; But still my soul is marching on!

The flowers bloomed, then hid in gloom, The bounty of the trees did cease; Colossal men have come and gone, But still my soul is marching on!

The aeons one by one are flying, My arrows one by one are gone; Dimly, slowly, life is fading, But still my soul is marching on!

Darkness, death and failures vied; To block my path they fiercely tried. My fight with jealous Nature’s strong, But still my soul is marching on!

An Ode to the chosen one.

It’s the way your eyes glitter that makes me go weak.

It’s the way your hair curl and fall down that makes my heart skip a beat.

It’s the way your lips curve when you smile that makes me lose my senses. 

It’s the way you speak that I feel like listening to you for eternity.  

It’s the way you think that I feel like creating a world of us in those thoughts.

It’s the chill down my spine I sense when our lips coalesce together in a beautiful blend of ecstasy, the fragrance of which lingers for long.

It’s the way you make me feel that I actually stop feeling and plunge into an ocean of passionate love.

It’s the way you depart that makes the world sink in my eyes.

 It’s the way you call out to me that I fall in love with my own name.

 It’s the way you love that makes me fall in love with you again.

 It’s the way you are that life seems beautiful once again!