Tumhari, Sulu

The movie began. Would it be about pen pals? Love affair? Scene after scene passed by – but it didn’t feel like a movie at all, forget about the plot.
The lead actress, the supporting actors, their setting, and props – nothing looked or felt as if it was a movie. Probably for two reasons: either I had been too conditioned about what a movie should be – perhaps I expected superheroes and sirens frolicking in fantasy land. Or, and more seriously, perhaps the movie was about something so common that it didn’t come to my notice as movie stuff.
Yes, that is what Tumhari Sulu is about: an everyday story of the woman next door, whom we meet so often, whom we mock so often, who we are so much so, that we have to be sequestered into a movie hall to spare two thoughts about.
Had I not met such Sulus myself, I would have hated the movie. Instead, I watched on. I saw the woman who waltzes through her daily mundane tasks so that others can do what they can, the woman who suspects that she *can do* [it] but has had no chance to discover quite what, the autistic education system that can sense only the academic scores, collective mediocrity, movie actors as benchmarks of performance, sprouts of warmth and belonging, striving to survive in a relationship without sunshine, the pole-vaults of assertion indenting the lows of question-less submission and compliance.
Worst of all, a toxic family.
Writers, poets, and women themselves have revealed enough about the dark realms of the in-laws. But, who talks about the refusals, denials, and put-downs that come from one’s own parents and elder siblings? Some parents sound legitimate, but they actually discriminate against one child – because one (usually the elder) is bright in a regular way, but the other (usually younger) is ‘differently able’.
Experiences like that are so historically painful that they hurt without one realizing where the pain comes from.
The movie dramatizes the story by handing Sulu a job when her husband’s job is in jeopardy, while she is asked to do what is somewhat questionable. But what about other Sulus who are stopped, questioned, criticized, assaulted, branded and stereotyped, ostracized, and punished, just because they are trying to discover who they can be? Why is their struggle laughable just because they could not discover it earlier in school? Why is their discovery any lesser because it does not involve marks in schools?
Let’ talk about it.
Tumhari Sulu is not a movie, this is a slice of life from a large percentage of women you and I meet every day – and God forbid, live with.

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Bahubali2: why it gets under your skin

It irks people or pleases them. I guess why. But my guesses are hazardous: so, instead of sending them as a letter to the editor of a newspaper, I am writing a Blog.
When you say you “like” something, o when it “irritates” you, you are evaluating. That comes from your thinking part. Way before thinking though, and a much more unconscious level, we feel. The movie (esp. BB2) hooks you because it has multiple appeals to your feeling and the arational part, and therefore it has something for everyone: to love or hate. So it is so successful. Here’s about its appeal:
1. Rasa, the cream rising atop the churning of emotions: विभावानुभावव्यभिचारिसंयोगाद्ररस निष्पत्ति:।
The foremost principle of Natyashastra says that the play we watch produces an emotional equivalent of essence or nectar, which comes from the churning of emotions.
The dormant rasa resides in the hearts of all the viewers who have suitable predispositions. (Those who have not, get irritated because their emotional profile doesn’t match with what the play has to offer.)
When we see the movie, our dormant emotional profile gets stirred mainly by the acting of the Hero.
Strike-1: Bahubali (especially BB2) invokes one major emotion: Veer rasa conveying valor and enthusiasm. It has merged into another Rasa, which is Shringar. It is a mix of attraction, romance, chivalry and dedication. See how BB1 differs from BB2 here. BB1 simply shows the crude, erotic expressions and moves, like taking away the clothes of an unknown girl. BB2 has better to offer. And the second minor Rasa is Adbhuta, full of surprises. BB2 does that with sumptuous visual feasts. Whether we find them acceptable or not is a matter of thinking part, remember. The churning happens because these rasas compete with each other for our attentions, merge into each other at some time while replacing each other at some other. Therefore, you have a constant experience of churning emotions and emergence of Rasa.
Strike-2: The emotional profile of a viewer is tingled by the hero’s stage presence and acting. Must say, he is charming, tall, well-built, and intense. Who wouldn’t love a man who jumps into the water to let you walk on his shoulders to get to the boat? And there’s more of that. This hero is a lover, son, the crown prince, and more. He fills these roles within roles with smooth presence and acting.
Strike-3: The hero’s acting is given meaning by his other for every Rasa. Who wouldn’t love Devasena’s youthful character? She charms and surprises us because she beats the stereotype of a Barbie-doll princess (read dumb and good-for-nothing except when sitting pretty). And the way they mix romance and valor – like the scene where the two fight in dance-like moves in total synchronization (Did I not say, don’t judge, yet? – we are not talking about whether it is realistic or not. We are saying why people find it difficult to remain apathetic to this movie).
There’s more to Rasa, but this much will do for now.
2. Individual and social identity-ideals:
I am not talking about the unreal, the excessive or simply the unconvincing elements of the movie. The movie hooks that spot of our unconscious where we hoard the parts of the ideal identities that we wish our self or our society to be.
BB’s strength, and all that apart, the senior BB and Devasena stand up for their convictions. The queen may have lapsed in judgment, but they stand up for their values. They pay the price. And what a price…
We come out to sit in our drawing-room and blame the society, the system, or whatever. Because it doesn’t support people who take a stand. We know that taking a stand means giving up the rest of your life – or giving up the life – and fighting just for one thing, whether you will get it in your lifetime or not.
When we face unfairness, we wish we had support. From someone, anyone – but we don’t, so we evaluate that ‘flexibility is better, ideals are stupid’. But we know that that kind of society is no good. We wish we had that kind of society, but that remains as an unrealized ideal.
Anthony Giddens said (something roughly like:) that man creates the society, then society creates the man. So, in an unfair society, we reduce, dilute, restrain ourselves even when it is unfair to us to do so, and wish we could be what we could have been.
Strike-4: This is where BB2 hits at an underground level. You know that Bhallal won by treachery, yet BB kept his trust. Bhallal aNi company called him a dog, yet Kattappa kept his dedication. Or, Devasena took insults and what not for 25 years. Devasena’s parents wed their daughter to the prince of an empire, but the empire burnt them down. We will be wiser than all of these, put together, but we know that we should have not been so.
It is stirring that we are too conscious and too self-conscious to pay attention to, and therefore we just laugh at it. Or we love it.
When we laugh at the broken laws of physics [in the movie], we actually subdue the noise of broken code of fairness.
… But why to make so much of a mere movie?

Real Tears in the La La Land

*Spoiler Alert*


If you have ever chosen, if you have ever forgone, if you have loved and ever been set free, all of it might flash before you in one fraction of a moment while watching La La Land.

La La Land may have been made into a movie, it might have been fashioned as an ode to the musicals and to Jazz. It may be all of that and a reminder that love has its own longevity and its own progression of time, that love is greater than living life together. That all it needs is one glance across a hall and time in the world of love ticks as if it was just the previous moment when you had met the love of your life.

And that love takes dreams under its wings even when that dream seems to stand on its very grave.

La La Land portrays a boy’s  love although it is a love story.

Love shows up in its its own intricacy of his behaviors: loud, non-stop honking at the girl’s door, cooking after surprise visit back home, and telling the girl on face the true feelings even when they are ugly — like telling her that she was interested in seeing him low down so that she could feel better about herself.

Those searing words go in the same cocktail as his refusal to accept her resignation from her dream, setting about on a long drive to deliver the message about her audition, and pushing her to go realise her dream. The cocktail is in the movie. Shaken and stirred are your emotions.

Because somewhere it touches the ‘been there’ all around you. For example, you don’t chase your dream because you have no money. You do something else instead, because it gives you fame or success. You can’t chase what you really care for, because you are busy raising resources. But in the end, those non-dream projects fund the dreams. And you learn to wait.

Love doesn’t work that way though, says La La Land. There is never an ‘either-or’. You love someone with your soul, you meet them after years, you say, ‘welcome to Seb’s’ and play your favourite tune. The whole life in-between comes in and the ends join seamlessly.

“Had I done this….” scenarios play and rewind. Permutations unfold.

You choose for yourself: two people, two dreams, loving life spent together, one dream realised and one dream buried for the other; OR, two dreams, separate lives lived, two dreams achieved, and lives lived separately.

But no, the OR is really not the case. Once you love, you share eternity. Not sharing a few years doesn’t matter. You listen to the tune, get up, leave to go back to your life. And before exiting the door, you smile and nod in approval of a job well done. One glance – brings strangers together and parts soulmates for life. Glance to glance is the full circle of love and in-between, there is life.

‘La La Land’ can’t get closer to reality. It is real already. Like the tears it brings.




Who says sons can’t do it all?

I am sure there are many mothers out there who agree with this one here. Let’s break the gender stereotypes and groom the future men!

Meticulous son

What if you could talk to Buddha and Psychologists?

Today is the day Buddha’s soul left his body for one final Nirvana. It might take a lifetime to live even a few of his teachings, but on a totally lighter note, I wondered what it might be like to window-shop Buddha and Psychologists with some questions today. I conjecture the answers like:

Psychologists and Buddha

Psychologists and Buddha


Tagore: Eternal Dance of Harmony


Today, being 154th birth anniversary of ‘Gurudev’ Rabindranath Tagore, brings to the fore some of his songs that I love. Isn’t it amazing that someone wrote these ardent, gentle, romantic, spiritual lyrics and set their tunes as well? Rather than the philosopher in him weigh on the language, we find that he fills his expression with child-like wonder and turns the authoritative assertion into question – ever so gently, without changing the substance.

On the birthday of one of the most versatile artists we ever had, I wish his works the same eternal dance of harmony he described with such simplicity. With his choice of a single word he makes a person a microcosm of this universe.

The song, roughly translates as,

Who’s the one dancing in my mind, the rhythmic dance of  eternity? How wonderfully my body and soul respond to the beat of the Mrudanga!

Who’s this one, on whose forehead, smile and sorrow sway gently along the beat just like a TEEKA made of diamonds and Emerald! Look, birth and death dance side by side! Such a joy!!! The day and Night, Freedom and Bondage – all dance in this eternal dance of harmony.

The lyrics are:

Mamo chitte niti nritye ke je nache
Tata thai thai, tata thai thai, tata thai thai,
Tari sange ki mridange sada baje
Tata thai thai, tata thai thai, tata thai thai
Hasi kanna hira panna dole bhale
Kape chande bhalo mando tale tale
Nache janmo nache mrityu pache pache
Tata thai thai, tata thai thai, tata thai thai
Ki anando, ki anando, ki anando
Diba ratri nache mukti nache bandho
Se taronge chuti range pache pache
Tata thai thai, tata thai thai, tata thai thai