Well, as they say, movie is a religion in India (by the way, who the hell are "they"? ;)) I think its very hard to find a person who is completely uninterested or ignorant about movies. I was just thinking about how my movie journey has been. As a kid, it was just the occasional movie we were taken to during some sundays. I dont remember feeling any movie as "bad" at that time. Typically a movie would have a hero and a heroine. All we needed was a "hero" who could fight. And we used to come back home and replay that fight with my granny's soft pillow, visualizing a villain in that. Then came television, and the sunday movie got added to our basket.

During our pre-teens, our movie watching was pretty much restricted to Sterling and Skyline. These theatres used to screen only English movies then. Apart from an occasional Ten Commandments or a Mackenna's Gold, our syllabus consisted mainly of action movies. Our movie world was full of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Van Damme, Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris etc etc. School time discussions were mainly about Arnold's biceps and how he uses the sword in Conan the Barbarian!

I feel we had had enough of "action" in the pre-teen period. Teens were dedicated to Bollywood masalas. Our school/college was at a strategically good position, where there were more than 10 cinema halls within 2 km radius. What was it that gave us more pleasure - bunking the classes to prove that we were longer kids, standing in the queues for hours discussing filmi trivia or just the thrill and achievement of first day first show. I dont know. During my PU days, I was a regular reader of 6 film magazines every month and thats where I learnt words like "gotcha", "wanna", "gonna". It finally took the most crappy movie of that year called "Raja Hindustani" to enlighten us that movies can be really "bad". I guess probably that was the time when I started viewing the movies critically. The first day first show - standing in the queue craze was gone, as I had started judging the movies.

Surprisingly, the movie viewing intensity had reduced during my BE days. There were the occasional visits to the cinema halls, but we used to be very discreet in our selection of movies. Then, there were VCDs of course. It was the time I started watching some very good international movies (though in very small numbers) like Schindler's List, Life is Beautiful and Good, Bad & Ugly to name a few.

After coming to Bangalore, movie watching became a routine weekly activity. Any movie released that week, lets go. Just for timepass. Its so boring otherwise. Oh yes, that was the logic. I had even seen a lousy movie called 'Muskaan' (yes, I am still ashamed of it!) It was after 'Muskaan' I guess, I decided that I would rather devote time to do other things than just watch movies for timepass. I was growing!

And then the trip to US changed my whole outlook towards movies. Lot of time at hand, heavy snowing outside - I had to take refuge in movies. I watched the movies of Scorsese, Hitchcock, Tarantino, Copolla, Woody Allen, Kurasawa, Bergman etc. etc. Noir movies, existential movies, surrealist movies - french, italian, spanish, japanese I had ventured into almost all categories. People who have interacted with me in the last two years would have realized how obsessed I have become with movies and how I cannot continue a conversation without bringing reference of a movie (my room mate recalls now that for almost a month, I used to say "Whhoo-aah, liar liar your pant is on fire" like Al Pacino, while brushing my teeth) To me, movie is no longer a timepass. Its an art, its an expression and its an adorable obsession! A movie should touch me, challenge me, haunt me, teach me something new or it should at least make me think. Yes, I now watch movies only for that cinematic experience!

Why I wrote this painfully long writeup? (And I am not done yet!) As I look at myself, I realize that I have grown from a kid who used to fight with pillows to an objective greedy cinegoer whose expectations have soared. I sometimes expect the whole world to be mature. And I am thoroughly disappointed. Why? I was reading some blog, where that author had criticized the movie "Sivaji". And he was getting lot of hate comments and his orkut account was also attacked. Now, you can like someone very intensely, but what prevents you from listening to an alternate opinion (you just need to listen, you need not agree) Now, if someone comes and tells me that Al Pacino was a bad selection for Godfather or Annie Hall was the worst comedy movie of all times, I may argue with him, but I would definitely allow him to express his opinion (though I would rate him as a cinematically dumb person in my mind!) Now, why do these "fans" behave that way? Why do they think that their "idol" is God and beyond criticism? Why do they want some "idol" in the first place, whom they want to emulate? And why is this idol worshipping a very south Indian phenomenon? As these questions start popping up in my mind, I remember this quote from Voltaire - "I strongly disagree with what you say, but I'll die to defend your right to say so". Why cant we be like that?

Astronomical Doubt

Whats an year? - The time taken by the earth to complete its orbit around the sun.
Whats a month? - The time sun spends in one constellation.
Whats a day? - Time taken for earth to revolve once on its own axis.
Whats a fortnight? - Time taken for the moon to go from new moon state to full moon (and vice versa)

Well, whats a week? I dont know! I have no clue as to how this time slice is arrived at. I have asked this question to lot of people and all I have got is sheepish smiles (and sometimes "dont-bother-me" stares) Some are creative enough to answer that 2 weeks make a fortnight. But I am not convinced. If you want to split up a fortnight, why 2 weeks and why not 7 "2-dayers"?

You have any idea as to whats the rationale for defining the time slice called "week"? Even if you dont know the exact answer, any thoughts on this are absolutely welcome. And wrong answers carry no negative marks!

Cheap Corruption

I got down from the bus at Majestic. The cool breeze made the overcrowded platform much tolerable. I was thinking about something else, when I heard somebody yell at me - "Surpass"! What? What did he just say? Was he really talking to me? What does 'surpass' actually mean? May be I am dreaming, I said to myself. No, I heard 4 more people tell the same thing to me within 20 seconds. 5 more persons and 30 more seconds later, I realized what they were asking, when a man in faded jeans and a fake Nike cap asked me again. Now, it was clear. It meant "Sir, pass?". Within a minute, 10 people had asked me if I had a daily bus pass, so that they can get it from me and save some cost!

I think it was not too long ago BTS came up with daily passes. It was very useful for people who would take 3-4 buses in a day. And just a couple of weeks back, I had seen a slogan inside a BTS bus that said something like this "Dont share your passes with others. Its a crime. It amounts to cheating with the BTS". And now I realized how rampant this 'crime' was! Which made me think about what makes people corrupt - and corrupt to this level. I can understand two kinds of corruption. First is extreme need, when you need something very badly and you cannot afford it. Second is extreme greed, people tend to become corrupt when the returns are very high and they can make tons of money. But, the kind of corruption I witnessed belonged to neither of these categories. None of those ten people who asked me for a pass looked like very poor who could not afford a bus ticket (anybody who can afford a fake Nike cap can surely afford a bus ticket!) and a ticket would cost less than 10 rupees, and a desperate attempt to save that money, standing there and confronting lots of people like me was miserable.

The same I have seen with auto drivers. I am okay with auto drivers who look at you with pity and shake their heads, when you ask them if they can come to Jayanagar. I am even okay with auto drivers who demand double the fare upfront. They may be dishonest and irritating, but they are at least honest about their dishonesty. But, if someone deliberately miscalculates the amount multiplied by 1.5, I get irritated. He is trying to be dishonest very subtly (he is not even being honest about his dishonesty ;)) and he is insulting my basic arithmetic skills. Its unacceptable!

And the bus conductors! If the ticket costs 8 rupees, I feel like hitting them when they tear out the ticket, turn it, take out the pen from their pocket (or worse, on top of their ear!) and scribble some illegible numeric notation to represent the change to be given (There is no other rationale for not giving the change instantly. It takes very less time to just give the change than this complicated procedure) And I love to see the disappointed look on their faces when they realize that I have not forgotten to get my change. Some are dishonest to such an extent, that they give 1 rupee change and act as if they thought they had given 2 rupees change. Disgusting!

In all these cases, its not the money that makes me very sick. Its the attitude that I hate so much. Excluding the extreme-need and extreme-greed corruption, is there any other country other than ours that has this levels of 'cheap corruption'? Does this 'cheap corruption' irritate you as much?

Suicide

I had stumbled into a blog yesterday afternoon. There was a post on happiness index and suicide rate country-wise. It had lot of interesting statistics (like China is the only country where women outnumber men in committing suicide etc. etc.).

Yesterday past midnight, I randomly picked up a scene to watch, from one of my favorite movies Annie Hall before going to bed. It was a stand up comedy scene where Woody Allen says "I was depressed at that time. I was in analysis. I was suicidal as a matter of fact and would have killed myself, but I was in analysis with a strict Freudian, and, if you kill yourself, they make you pay for the sessions you miss."!

Traveling by cab today morning, I was reading Godfather. It was the chapter where Sonny gets killed. And Lucy Mancini tries to commit suicide by taking an overdose of pills.

Its a strange coincidence that the topic "suicide" appeared from 3 different sources in less than 24 hours. I had a quick breakfast in the morning and started wikipediaing on this topic. Wikipedia had a very elaborate article on this topic. The details were overwhelming:

  • Men outnumber women in committing suicide.
  • Women attempt suicide more than men.
  • Caucasians die by suicide more often than Africans and Hispanics.
  • Suicides happen more during summer and spring, though its a common misconception that suicides happen more during winter etc etc.

I just wondered how the mode of suicide is so culture-specific. One of my American clients used to say that he would slash his wrists if he is asked to work on a very slow laptop. I just wondered how to translate "slash my wrists" to Kannada. And then I realized that slashing the wrists and lying in the bath tub is so much of a western phenomenon and I guess its the most common type of suicide there, along with taking poison and using a gun I guess. I have never heard an incident where an Indian has tried to commit suicide by slashing his wrists. We seem to be more of hanging, drowning and self-immolation types. Can you give an equivalent translation in English for "Naanu Kere no Bhaavi no nodkotheeni" or "Naanu seeme enne surkondu saththogtheeni"? Nah!

I personally believe that suicide is a stupid thing. Whatever the reason be - personal, political, honor (like those samurais) - it is stupid. I think people who realize that anything in life is very trivial compared to life itself will never even think of committing a suicide.

On a lighter note, if suicide is considered a horrendous crime (as some religions and countries believe), can suicide survivors be killed for that offense? :)

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