World Themes for Indian Cinema (Part 6 of 8)

Co-Blogging Series – Anand C and Lazy Geek


The title of this theme comes from four separate sub-themes or recent events that all lead to one question… (it is taken from the refrain in Richard Bach’s “The One”, which goes – “I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth it?”)

1. Febina Mathew sent over details about her upcoming dance adaptation of Tagore’s Chitrangada… a short synopsis:

Chitrangada is an ancient legend of love and war brought to life with Tagore’s songs, semi-classical music and dances from India. Based on the mythological character of Chitrangada, princess of Manipur, it tells the story of a woman’s urge to transform her to impress Arjuna, the man she loves.

Chitrangada gives up her warrior image, her valor and manly attributes to embrace a feminine grace under the blessings of Madana. Her transition from Kurupa to Surupa undoubtedly enchants Arjuna. But in the end Arjuna expresses the need to meet the real princess after he learns of her courage from the villagers.

Chitrangada realizes it is not just beauty but one’s qualities that make a woman liked and loved by a man.

2. Chitrangada’s conflict and question if the change she went through was worth it,
is also the theme of the Temple of Fine Arts’ Taj Mahal, which asks -“What if Mumtaz gave up heaven to come to earth and see the Taj Mahal?”– would she eventually give up immortality and continue to live as a mortal in order to experience the monument built for her by Shah Jahan? Was it worth it?

3. The theme is similiar to Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle, who a lot of us have undoubtedly read about in school. After 20 years of falling asleep in the Catskill Mountains, he wakes up to a whole new world… kinda like a olden day version of Austin Powers getting used to the 90s after being cryogenically frozen since the swinging 70s 🙂

Rip Van Winkle’s dilemma, as he comes back in after twenty years:


As he approached the village, he met a number of people, but none whom he knew, which somewhat surprised him, for he had thought himself acquainted with every one in the country round. Their dress, too, was of a different fashion from that to which he was accustomed. They all stared at him with equal marks of surprise, and whenever they cast their eyes upon him, invariably stroked their chins. The constant recurrence of this gesture induced Rip, involuntarily, to do the same, when, to his astonishment, he found his beard had grown a foot long!….

He had no courage to ask after any more friends, but cried out in despair, “Does nobody here know Rip Van Winkle?”


World Themes for Indian Cinema (Part 5 of 8)

Co-Blogging Series – Anand C and Lazy Geek
jay leno

If you think the conventional take on everyday events is mundane and monotonous, you’ll enjoy these recent quips on George W, on a 45-second stretch in the Tonight Show (NBC, weeknights, 11:35 P.M):

Q: Why was the president surprised at “Meet the Press”?
A: He heard that he would also be asked questions! (since it was “meet the press!”)

Q: Mr. President, were you ever AWOL in the army?
A: No, always used Earthlink.

Leno: For the rest of the world it’s “D-Day”. In the president’s house, it’s “report card day”.

Q: What connects the death of Jesus with the war on Iraq?
A: Lack of credible intelligence in the Middle East.

The man behind the humor – Jay Leno – is probably the best known stand-up comedian today and host of “The Tonight Show”. Jokes are oxygen to Leno. It is his peculiar talent to pick over jokes, news items, and tidbits of information – he gets about 200 to 300 submissions a day – select the funniest of the crop, and fashion them into an 11-minute monologue that will persuade millions to stay up later than they probably should for a humorous take on the events of the day… few perspectives on his life and work (Source: FORTUNE Magazine):


World Themes for Indian Cinema (Part 4 of 8)

Co-Blogging Series – Anand C and Lazy Geek
classical dance montage

“If I worship thee for fear of hell, burn me in hell; if I worship thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise. But if I worship thee for thy own sake, grudge me not thy everlasting beauty!”

This hymm from Sufi saint Rabi’a sums up an artist’s approach to the arts (‘ars gratia artis’ or ‘art for arts’ sake’), the essence of Theme 4 of this series [story so far]. True artists are said to draw inspiration from their own experiences. A.R Rahman‘s “Thee Thee” from Thiruda Thiruda comes to mind as an example where the interweaving of the loud & pacy male voice and the soft & melodious female voice seems to subtly reflect the criss-crossing influences of Hinduism and Islam in his own life.

Classical Music and Dance are un-ending sources of inspiration. The mystical and symbolic nature and its ability to express subtle, multi-layered human emotions succintly is an excellent theme to explore. Traditionally, some memorable characters have been portrayed on celluloid. Sankarabaranam, Salangai Oli, Sindhu Bhairavi, Taal. And yet, some eminently forgettable characters (who can’t shake a leg to save their lives!) have come and gone, bringing down the genre with them (Ramarajan’s world record for the most make-up per sq. cm of skin notwithstanding). It’s time for a revival!


World Themes for Indian Cinema (Part 3 of 8)

Co-Blogging Series- Anand Chandrasekharan and Lazy Geek

Fire-fighters, investment bankers, engineers working on outsourced IT projects, doormen – thousands lost their lives. The untold outrage, the genuine sorrow (and the political photo-ops) aside, one of the most vivid memories of September 11, 2001 is tens of people jumping down from a burning tower.

man falling from tower

When people are struck by tragedy… when they are jumping out of a burning tower… are they jumping from jobs and lives they loved?

Parts 1 and 2 of this series focussed on real people (Srinivas Ramanujan and the unsung hero Dr.V) whose lives make inspiring themes. This attempt (in verse) is more abstract and philosophical and tries to relate to the mindset of the victim when tragedy strikes and one’s life flashes before one’s eyes…

Our parts, our roles, they’re all perfect,
So prim nobody would suspect…
anything astray, anything out of the ordinary,
Performances simply extraordinary.
As we live life, donning our make up,
Through every “Howz it going”, thru every “whatsup”,
Do we stop to think, to ponder?
To look for a moment, yonder…
At the man in the mirror, he lives…
Reflections, ruminations, dreams, beliefs!
Listen to him, for he would introduce,
That person, given a choice, we’d choose…
Be him, and life would not be sour,
Even if one’s jumping from a burning tower.

My Take on this – Lazy Geek
He stands high at the 102nd floor of the burning tower, struggling what could be his escape route. He can probably jump and hope he can survive. Flashes of his wife, children, parents, friends come before him. Should he jump? I am worried about him.

They may call it sensational stuff, paint it grey or even complain it as cashing in from a nostalgic tale, but the man from the falling tower is certainly the concern of the theme.

Movies like Mahanadhi have captured the toil a man undergoes for no mistake of his. The way families get destroyed because of one small mis-judgement. It irritates you. You can never stomach that. You can’t even agree to this fact. It is one of the few times that we have reality striking before our eyes.

Didn’t the reality strike on 9/11? Didn’t that reality strike us with the incidents that happened in India? Every time it happens we forget it in less than a week as the news about those incidents decreases exponentially. But thinking back after a couple of years, they get reduced to few images we saw on CNN that night, in India.

Movies have long standing impact on people life. Genuine Ones. This could also be one genuine one if at all someone was willing to be genuine enough in crafting this movie. It needn’t be as lavish as Titanic, as sober as Schindler’s List. Just a honest depiction. Indian directors are changing to the new style of Multiplex movies. This, however, cannot be a multiplex movie. By all means, this has to widely watched like Lagaan.

But that man at the 102nd floor, waiting to jump, still worries me.

World Themes for Indian Cinema (Part 2 of 8)

Co-Blogging Series- Anand Chandrasekharan and Lazy Geek

Dr. Alan Grant: There are two kinds of boys – the ones who want to be astronomers and the ones who want to be astronauts. The astronomer, the paleontologist, gets to study these amazing things from a place of complete safety.
Young Eric: But you never go into space.
Dr. Alan Grant: It’s the difference between imagining and seeing.

Notwithstanding this thought-provoking conversation from Jurassic Park III, probably the only situation where seeing is more valuable than imagining is when you are blind.

The first post in this series focussed on biopics and the life of Ramanujam. This one carries that thread further, focussing on a life that has vision – literally! Affectionately called Dr.V on more than one occasion, it’s the story of Dr.G Venkataswamy.

Dr.G Venkataswamy