"I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be 'happy'. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter and to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all."

- Leo C. Rosten

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Belief


"Scientists were rated as great heretics by the church, but they were truly religious men because of their faith in the orderliness of the universe." - Albert Einstein


These pictures are from my archive of many pictures that I had taken of the very same church that I had talked about in my previous post. I hope you would like them and feel good. 'Faith', I believe is an important thing that determines most of the things that happen to us. Our beliefs tell a lot about us. 



"This is what I believe:
That I am I.
That my soul is a dark forest.
That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest.
That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back.
That I must have the courage to let them come and go.
That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women.
There is my creed."  - D. H. Lawrence

Monday, January 12, 2009

Prayer and Peace



This picture was shot on Christmas Day at a very famous church. I was captured by this mood. If you are a sensitive person, I believe you can link this picture in many ways to the previous picture. I would like to know from you how you link these two significant and thought-provoking moments from life.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Unnoticed


I took this picture at night on the streets of Chennai. I was extremely hurt by this scene. I may be a novice in photography. But my request to the reader while looking at this image is not to look at it as a photograph, but as a question on our so-called 'developed' and 'modernised' society. While the busy traffic passes by with it's 'important' engagements, another face of India stays unnoticed and in need of help.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ghajini: An Evaluation


Directed by A. R. Murugadoss and produced by Allu Aravind, Ghajini is one of the countable few contemporary movies of Bollywood that is worth seeing. Some might disagree with me, though none has been able to give me concrete reasons for disagreeing. But many do agree that it is neither a waste of money nor a waste of time. But I also do not deny that I might be talking through my hat if I say that it falls in the category of the best of the movies that the world has seen. Certainly it does not fall in the category of movies that are to be remembered, though Taree Zameen Per was. None the less, Ghajini does qualify as a very good movie.

For those who do not know the story, here is a synopsis of the story.

The protagonist of the movie is Mr. Sanjay Singhania, who is the chairman of a national mobile company. A very successful businessman as he is, he is a well-known personality. He falls in love with an upcoming model called Kalpana, whose role is played by bollywood d├ębutant Asin Thottumkal. Kalpana is a young and vivacious girl who is a struggling model. By the peer misunderstanding and pressure of her boss in the advertising firm she works, she proclaims herself as the girlfriend of the successful entrepreneur and quickly climbs up the ladder and promotes her firm. Infuriated by this scandal Sanjay Singhania decided to settle matters with this girl called Kalpana whom he had never even seen. But the movie took a turn when on the way Sanjay sees a kind hearted girl on the road helping disabled children to cross the gate of a museum because at the gate there were grills laid on the ground and the crutches of the disabled children got stuck in the gaps. It was not long after that when Sanjay met Kalpana and realised that she was that very girl. Sanjay disguises himself as Sachin and relates to Kalpana. Slowly the relationship grows from friendship to love. Kalpana, not knowing that Sachin is Sanjay Singhania himself, falls in love with him.

But the movie takes a big turn in its story line when kind-hearted and morally conscious Kalpana becomes a target of the notorious business tycoon Ghajini and his henchmen after she foils their plot to sell girls into prostitution. Kalpana is brutally killed right in front of Sanjay and then Sanjay was hit hard in the head that subsequently caused him Anterograde Amnesia. After rehabilitation, he becomes obsessed with avenging the murder of his beloved and has tattoos spread all over the torso to remind him of his intensions.

One has to see the movie to get a good grasp of the story as it is very hard for me to portray the movie in the reader’s mind by words. There is a lot of detailing in the movie and one has to keep his eyes open to notice every minute detailing. And with this detailing is woven a chain of small events that make the complete structure.

As the movie deals with the psychological turmoil of the protagonist, a lot of care has been taken to give a vivid idea of the kind of life that Sanjay is living. As a result of memory loss after every fifteen minutes, he keeps an alarm clock with him that rings an alarm after every fifteen minutes. When the alarm rings, he realises that he has forgotten everything and brings out several photographs that he had taken of his doctor, his manager, his apartment, different streets, buses, auto rickshaws, and of people that he is supposed to remember. And by seeing those pictures he decides what he is supposed to do next. At the end of every fifteen minutes he forgets what his purpose is and his mind becomes blank like a white sheet of paper. He does not even know his name. Imagine a man living like this for years at a stretch. All because he was hit hard by an iron rod on the head and he does not even remember what happened to him, leave alone who did and why. His room is filled with exhaustive detailing – the kind that you do not see generally in ordinary movies. Sheets of road maps with photographs attached all over to remind him where to go, how to go, and the reason to go. The walls are cluttered with graffiti “Kill Him”. But he forgets every fifteen minutes whom to kill and why. He screams and cries out of terrible anxiety. He struggles all day. His tables are full of boxes with details written over them of what they contain. One has his wallet, one has his watch, one the photographs, so on and so forth. In the bathroom, it is written on a paper: Open your tee shirt. As he opens he sees the tattoos and is reminded that Kalpana was killed and that he is to take revenge. He grows mad at the sight of his torso and cries and struggles all day trying to remember what had happened and whom he is supposed to kill. The videography of the movie is of such excellence that I can guarantee that it is one of the best. The environment of his apartment and his anxiety has been blended so well that it seems that you are yourself there present in the room with him and witnessing the trauma. It pains the viewer to see the condition of the protagonist – a very important characteristic of a good movie. And along with such spectacular effect comes the brilliant acting of Amir Khan. I can claim that very few present actors of Bollywood come anywhere near to the talent of Amir Khan. There is no doubt in the fact that even King Khan does not come anywhere near to him. The expressions of Amir Khan, the portrayal of the character, and the exuding of anxiety of the character could not have been done better. I was simply amazed and emotionally charged in the scene where he was able to take his revenge finally on Ghajini. It was a very touching scene where he was engaged in a violent encounter with Ghajini. But while being violent he was crying pathetically and wiping his tears away from his face with blood stained hands. The agony that the character was going through hit the heart of the audience. One is left with several questions in one’s mind on what could have been going through the mind of the protagonist when he was taking the final revenge.

But my favourite character in the movie was that of Kalpana. She is the kind of character that brings colour to any story. Bright, vibrant, child-like enthusiasm - all blended into one simple soul. One is charmed by the kind-hearted and childish Kalpana. While she helps an blind old man cross a busy market, she narrates to him every interesting event taking place in the market: children singing, a woman beating up her husband with vegetables, the chiming of the temple bell, the radio screaming out Bollywood numbers at a shop, so on and so forth. One is simply charmed by such a beautiful character. The character makes us question on our own characters. It teaches us the necessity to be happy and lively no matter what happens and work for the good. The child-like enthusiasm teaches us how beautiful a human can be. The very framing of her sentences shows her as a very straight forward girl who is very concrete in her thoughts and exudes a lot of self-confidence. One is amused by how she is able to save several young girls from the hands of women traffickers on a Goa bound train. But as the rule of the world goes, the good never survives for long. The price of being a good man was crucifixion about two thousand years ago. And that has not changed much. Kalpana was brutally killed by Ghajini, who was the mastermind of the entire trafficking system. And at this point of the movie, the entire hall was spell bound and terribly anguished. The videography of the movie is such that it pains you down to the depth of your heart. A very important aspect of photography or videography is to show the ambience from the eyelevel of the subject. That might sound easy. But trust me it is a very difficult task to do. While Sanjay was lying on the floor weeping and his head bleeding, the movie showed our dear Kalpana being brutally murdered from the eyelevel of Sanjay. A scene like that was very hard to accept for a soft hearted person like me. Imagine a scene where a girl of a gentle and kind soul lying on a pool of blood on the floor, trembling with pain and extending her arms for help from her beloved who is himself lying half conscious and bleeding. And at that moment Ghajini comes and hits the head of the girl hard with a rod of iron in the way you hit a ball with your cricket bat. And imagine yourself seeing all these from the eyelevel of Sanjay who is lying on the floor half conscious and seeing his love murdered. In very few movies, I had been forced to close my eyes for a few seconds. This was one such. And I simply could not take it. But I can claim that the portrayal of this situation was far more than extraordinary and deserves wide applause. It was beyond words.

After seeing that one can realise the mental turmoil Sanjay had to undergo. Imagine yourself seeing your friend, or wife, or daughter being murdered like that. And you have faint glimpses of that memory and forget that in every fifteen minutes. And then you scream and cry like anything until by seeing every odd picture and graffiti all around your room you realise that someone was killed and that you have to kill the killer. Such psychoilogial turmoil is a very difficult subject for any work of art and calls for great talent and hard work. And I am happy to say that Ghajini is not merely successful in this, but has done very fine artistic work.

The most brilliant part of any work of fiction, I believe, is the catharsis. Catharsis is very important because it is terribly unfair to leave the audience or reader in extreme pain. A balance has to be struck between joy and pain and that is very much necessary as that not only proves the level of dexterity of the writer or the crew making the movie, but also comforts the reader and audience to a great extent. And the catharsis of Ghajini was one of the best I have ever experienced. The catharsis was at the end. The very mood of the movie changes after Sanjay had taken the revenge. He celebrates the birthday party of an orphan at an orphanage named after Kalpana. A medical student - who had helped him in taking his revenge and had helped his to recover his memories - gives him a gift. When he opens the gift, he is rendered spell bound by the sight of that slab of cement on which Kalpana had taken their footprints when they had entered their new apartment. While seeing the slab, Sanjay’s thoughts go back to Kalpana and he can almost see Kalpana sitting beside him and smiling at him. He holds her hand close to his heart and the camera shows a 360 degree close-up view of the two souls simply sitting there quietly and looking into each other’s eyes. The background instrumental music was one of the finest that I had ever heard as it blended so brilliantly with the mood that one hardly finds words to portray it. Your heart almost throbs at the same pace as that of Sanjay and you go through a spectacular catharsis. And I, being a soft hearted man by nature, was in desperate need for something like this after having witnessed a lot of turmoil in the movie.  

The movie is divided in two parts. One is the current state of things. The other is a flash back. I strongly believe that the two has been blended very well. Some might argue that the flash backs were too long and have ruined the movie. But I would beg to differ with them. To me, the flash backs seemed necessary for the movie and seemed to blend well with the present.

The tracks are good. But not all of them. The track ‘Ay Bacchu’ was of a different kind and was a funny one. It had a good blend of rock and carnival-type music. And choreography was also finely designed with no stupid and unnecessary elements. The track ‘Behka’ may seem a little bit stupid. But the choreography is very different and has some unique features like 90 degree rotation of the lens, duplicate characters, and vibrant colours. The most amazing videography can be observed in the track ‘Guzareesh’. The sand dunes and the placing of subjects on the dunes were simple and spectacular. It was a good artistic endeavour. Now if you come to the quality of music, it can not be better than that of the theme music – Kaise Mujhe. Of course there are far more laudable tracks in the world of music. But this one is not far behind. It captures the mood of the story very well. But I do not feel like listening to it as it reminds me of all the pain in the movie. But that does not mean it is not worthy to be heard. In fact it is worthy to be kept in your collection. The track ‘Lattoo’ was a worthless one. No doubt about that.

As far as the violence is concerned, the videography had been excellent. But there are certain things about Indian movies that just can not be digested. One of them is the weird super human type of fighting. Whether it is Sholay or Ghajini, it is very hard to digest how can a man still stand up and fight after a rod had passed through his tummy or diaphragm. Medical Science obeys no boundaries in Indian Movies. That is very much unacceptable.

Apart from this negative aspect of the scenes depicting violence, the over all appeal that the movie makes is laudable and makes it a ‘must-be-seen’ movie. I would give it a rating of seven out of ten.