That Day After Everyday

The demons outside lurk everywhere and in every turn.For a huge majority of women, this is a reality they have to contend with everyday, every hour, every minute.

We talk about issues when they become incidents, but what of the millions of just-missed incidents which don’t ignite the collective furor of the society but leave an indelible mark on the psyche of a person. Strangling her each day, little at a time, till she’s a shriveled up shell who gets startled at every unbidden glance, the beginnings of a whistle, a dress material getting tangled somewhere, a hand which comes too close.

“Eve-teasing”,is an ubiquitous term we encounter in newspapers and everyday life. Interestingly, its a relic from the post-colonial era, with ‘eve’ implying a temptress who can seduce men and hence, insinuating women in it’s very double-edged euphemism.

Sexual harassment of women in public is not only about sex or lust, but also about masculine aggression and domination in a patriarchal society. It’s about simmering frustrations, inferiority complexes coupled with a complete lack of social/ethical/family values.A way to display that a fledgling has earned the rite of passage to become an adult in front of his equally depraved peers.The glamorization of these acts in films just fuels the lunacy further.

We, the urban women, have the luxury of being cocooned to some extent by the comforts afforded by our social strata.For a woman who doesn’t have the privacy of her own vehicle or can ill afford to live in relatively safer localities, it’s an everyday tussle.

Today I would like to present this 22 minutes short film “That Day After Everyday”, which is directed by none other than the brilliant Anurag Kashyap and is written by Nitin Bhardwaj. In spite of it’s very somber theme which can get under your skin, its not a depressing movie. It’s movie about three women who learn to fight.

Do their methods seem practical ? Maybe. It definitely seems fraught with nebulous risks. Is it positive ? Yes. I loved the way the film ended. And it made me ponder about the movies which are too real-life like to leave the viewer with any succor. Treated as an art movie or as a conduit to awaken public conscience, they are great.But in a world that is full of depressing news, where every fight against injustice seems onerous, a little hope is like water on the parched earth. We definitely need more movies which depict somber themes but leave the viewer with the after-taste of hope.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” –  Desmond Tutu

Advertisements

Haircut

“Akka, can you please buy the pavadai for me from the mall. I cant go in there but I will pay for it” – My help requested me the other day.

The chasm that divides the have and have-nots is so abysmal and vast, that having the necessary financial resources is trivial in the whole scheme of things.

I recently watched an award winning Tamil movie called “Kakka Muttai” (Translated: Crow’s Eggs) which is about two slum kids longing to eat pizza and their unrelenting quest for it. Written and directed by M Manikandan, it’s a marvelously simplistic plot yet rich with serious undertones.

For two very enterprising boys whose life’s goal becomes tantamount to biting into a succulent pizza, their simplistic conjecture, that acquiring money for the pizza was all that was required,was rudely shaken when they face a barrage of hurdles.For a moment, my naivity almost made me make the same mistake.

The simple act of walking up to a pizza shop and eating a pizza seems like a gargantuan task.The invisible shackles that a society enforces is a thought that often escapes our mind when we see only well-dressed folks in a mall.The film is superb in how it translates such a simple aspiration of kids into such deep societal questioning and our so called “normal” way of living.

The Times of India gave the film 4 stars out of 5 and wrote, “Manikandan’s Kaaka Muttai is multi-layered; on the surface, it is all warm and inviting — a feel-good film about two kids and their simple desire and the earnestness in the filmmaking invites comparison with Iranian films like Children of Heaven…there is a hard base to it as well and from time to time, the film turns into a commentary on the class divide in our society and how it is exploited by wily politicians, an allegory of the effects of globalisation, and even a satire on media’s obsession with sensationalism”

For me, the best stories are the ones which leave things unsaid. The simple and relatable ones but which are delightfully multi-layered. Kakka Muttai is a movie that’s going to remain with me for a long time. I couldn’t find one with subtitles but if you do get a chance, this is a movie that you shouldn’t miss.

Along the same lines was this succinct 9 mins short film called “Haircut” by Anand Tiwari and Sumeet Vyas. A film about a man from an economically disadvantaged section of the society, who goes to get a haircut at a fancy salon.Unlike Kakka Muttai, the protagonist does manage to gain access to the hallowed precincts of the salon but, the chasm is still too wide to be crossed. And interestingly, is it time that we shouted that the emperor isn’t wearing clothes 🙂

Emil’s Enemies

Our knowledge on Nazi atrocities is quite voluminous but very little is known about the German resistance which took the lives of approximately 77,000 people. The loosely bound resistance could not muster an organized strength to pose any serious threat to the Third Reich, but it did carry out about 30 assassination attempts on Hitler.

Notable among these conspirators was a Lutheran pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his brother-in-law ,a lawyer by the name of Hans von Dohnányi.Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a protestant theologist who rose against the Church’s unequivocal support to the state and sought to distance religious affairs from state influence.While he was opposed to Hitler’s philosophy right from the beginning, it was due to his brother-in-law Hans von Dohnányi, that he got more actively involved in the resistance. As he moved away from pacifist ideologies of the church, he believed that a true follower of Christianity also needed to act on it. “..the church must “not only bind up the wounds of those who have fallen beneath the wheel” of the state “but at times halt the wheel itself.” – (sic) from his essay “The Church and the Jewish Question”.It was this thought which helped him to cross the critical divide from being a mute spectator of evil to actively stopping evil and somewhat assuage his moral dilemma .

Equally and if not more courageous, is the story of Hans von Dohnányi – the man responsible for rescuing almost 14 Jews and also engineering several assassination attempts.Hans and Dietrich were men who showed great moral integrity and exemplary courage at one of history’s most difficult times.Both of them were eventually caught, tried by the SS courts and condemned.They were executed by the painful method of being hanged using a piano wire.

-000-

The story of Hans,Dietrich and others at the German resistance are stories that need to be told. To condense such a vast history,context,characters into the confines of a time-bound theater play seems daunting,but this is exactly what the play “Emil’s Enemies” sets out to do.A famous play by American playwright,Professor Douglas Huff,it portrays the last assassination attempt on Hitler (code named Emil) by Hans and Dietrich. The play is a result of 10 years of diligent research by Prof. Huff where he has endevoured to bring out the essence. Directed by the renowned theater personality Prof. Vijay Padaki and presented by Bangalore Little Theater, I got a chance to watch the play at Ranga Shankara,Bangalore yesterday.

13052609_1282508171763438_1137389075_o
Col. Raeder and Lt. Creutzfeldd of the SS – Emil’s Enemies

It is a 95 minutes play without interval and comprises of 12 scenes.Scenes of Dietrich writing his memoirs and readying for his execution alternate with events that lead up to the capture of the conspirators. The acting by the cast was quite commendable.Their capacity to enact and bring to life such complex characters,shows the enormous effort that’s been put in.With all the pre-reading that I had done on the subject, I was expecting to see Dietrich as the central character, and hence was pleasantly surprised to see both Hans and Dietrich being accorded equal importance. The play also brings forth a more human aspect of the characters, wherein each one faces a dilemma of some sort or the other, but in the end abides by their inner conscience. For such a somber topic, the humor in the dialog provide a welcome distraction. I did however feel, that audiences who did not read up on the history, might have found it a bit difficult to follow and keep track between the swiftly alternating scenes. The lines of some of the characters were delivered a tad bit too fast and it’s possible to miss out on some crucial conversations. I would definitely advice audiences to pre-read on the history before watching the play.
If you haven’t watched it yet, here’s a chance for you to catch up on the play in Bengaluru on April 21,April 29-May 1 and May6-May8.

FB : https://www.facebook.com/events/368196763304068/
Book My Ticket : https://in.bookmyshow.com/plays/emils-enemies/ET00040622

-000-

I end with this hymn that was written by Dietrich Bonheoffer in the concentration camp, shortly before his death.

By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered,
And confidently waiting come what may,
we know that God is with us night and morning,
and never fails to greet us each new day.

Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented,
Still evil days bring burdens hard to bear;
Oh, give our frightened souls the sure salvation
for which, O Lord, You taught us to prepare.

And when this cup You give is filled to brimming
With bitter suffering, hard to understand,
we take it thankfully and without trembling,
out of so good and so beloved a hand.

Yet when again in this same world You give us
The joy we had, the brightness of Your Sun,
we shall remember all the days we lived through,
and our whole life shall then be Yours alone

-ooo-

Disclaimer : I was invited by BLT to watch the play

 

Teaspoon

“Life is difficult
this is a great truth, of the greatest truths.
It is a great truth because once we truly
see this truth, we transcend it.
Once we truly understand and accept it –
then life is no longer difficult.
Because once it is accepted,
the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

 – M Scott Peck, The Road less traveled

Life is definitely not smooth sailing but how does one negotiate the troughs of life. Mental conditioning with liberal doses of spirituality, positivity , stoicism,meditation and learning from other’s experiences are great coping strategies. Recent research has shown that repetitive mental activity can rewire and physically change the structure of the brain. So in effect,reinforcing and repeatedly being positive in day to day life,definitely goes a long way towards strengthening the neuron synapses. That throws up interesting possibilities, as it might be possible to condition oneself for being positive even in preparedness for an event ,that is yet to occur.

To maintain equanimity as age & time deal a hard blow, requires great inner fortitude.To suddenly find your physical strength deserting you,to be trapped within your own body, can be intensely traumatic and despite all the mental preparation, one can precariously totter on the verge of a complete collapse. And while the tide of destiny sweeps away the tenuous hold on a patient’s physical well-being, equally and if not more exacting is the role of a caregiver in taking care of a terminally ill or a bed ridden patient.

The Gita says – “If you only enjoy the gifts of the Universe, the life-giving sun, the nourishing rain, the fertile earth, the lofty mountains,the flowing rivers and not put your own shoulder to the wheel, offering your effort back to the Universe, you are no better than a common thief”

Duties need to be done, just like nature performs its role unerringly.Our own body,with its rhythmic heart beats infusing us with life-giving blood,is no less an inspiration. And no duty can be more urgent,more righteous than filial duty. Dwelling on this thought might help in cultivating the huge amount of energy,that being a caregiver entails. Being human and having a conscious choice in matters, weighs us down with enormous responsibilities. That,in which lesser men and women have been known to fail.

And so, we must not forget that a caregiver too is a human and unfortunately carries the burden of human fallibility. Most of us sympathize with the patient but few spare a thought to the continuous toil of a primary caregiver. And just like a mother,who becomes a primary care giver for a baby, needs support and needs to take a breather once in a while,so does a caregiver. Rachna wrote this beautiful post on a caregiver’s side of the story some time back.

The greatest strength lies within oneself and so does our greatest weakness. And it is times like these that truly test our mettle and although each step forward might be excruciatingly hard, the day will come when we can look back without regrets. There’s no weight that’s heavier to bear than a troubled conscience.

Presenting this beautiful 2015 short film today “Teaspoon” (Running time: 20 mins) by Aban Bharucha Deohans.

Advised reading after viewing:

The plot of this film was really rich with myriad perspectives. The overall direction and acting was quite good other than the slightly jerky acting by the husband. But what I loved was the theme, which has been explored with all its nuances. I give full points for the story and the masterful ending, leaving open possibilities which were left unsaid.

Viewed in a different light, what if the lady had actually been imagining things and had actually become unhinged.But in retrospect, there were teaspoon marks by the bedside. Our mind plays weird games and it doesn’t take long for the lines of imagination and reality to quickly blur. The story brings out the need to be compassionate to all. It’s also quite possible that, for the want of a bit of compassion from the husband, a tragedy could have been avoided.

Overall a beautiful and a very thought provoking film.

Do watch and tell me your thoughts about the film !

Little Terrorist

There was an interesting article in The Hindu recently quoting Rabindranath Tagore on nationalism. To quote Tagore’s words –

“I am not against one nation in particular, but against the general idea of all nations. What is the Nation? It is the aspect of a whole people as an organised power. This organisation incessantly keeps up the insistence of the population on becoming strong and efficient. But this strenuous effort after strength and efficiency drains man’s energy from his higher nature where he is self-sacrificing and creative. For thereby man’s power of sacrifice is diverted from his ultimate object, which is moral, to the maintenance of this organisation, which is mechanical.

Yet in this he feels all the satisfaction of moral exaltation and therefore becomes supremely dangerous to humanity. He feels relieved of the urging of his conscience when he can transfer his responsibility to this machine which is the creation of his intellect and not of his complete moral personality.

By this device people who love freedom perpetuate slavery in a large portion of the world with the comfortable feeling of pride of having done its duty; men who are naturally just can be cruelly unjust both in their act and their thought, accompanied by a feeling that they are helping the world in receiving its deserts; men who are honest can blindly go on robbing others of their human rights for self-aggrandizement, all the while abusing the deprived for not deserving better treatment.”

Nationalism can often come into conflict with humanism. And when it does, which direction should the moral compass point to. Should one choose to be a nationalist or a humanist, even if is at the cost of being deemed unpatriotic.It is far easier to be a rightful nationalist as one confines to a set of rules and enjoys the luxury of limited options.The blind following of rules for national identity sometimes leads to catastrophes like the disaster of the German camps. While more than a handful of people who orchestrated the whole machinery, could be classified as zealots and sadists, what can be said for the vast majority of SS people who blindly followed orders. How were they able to justify the atrocities they were committing ? It was probably easier to hide behind the cloak of moral responsibility as the rightful guardians of their nation than it was to face their conscience in the sunken eyes of their hostages.

When a country’s security becomes a machinery, it can no longer afford itself the luxury of humanity and innocent people caught in the cross-fire of border conflicts are often collateral damage.With this heavy backdrop, who would have thought that it was possible to capture so many emotions through a delightfully light short-film about a small child. I present this beautiful short film “Little Terrorist” (Running time: 15 mins), written and produced by Ashvin Kumar.

Advised reading after viewing:

I loved the way such deep aspects have been brought forth so delightfully in such a simple movie.The acting was polished and it was therefore, a surprise to know that not one of them was a seasoned actor. Zulfuqar Ali who played the part of Salim was a street child, Sushil Sharma a clerk and Meghna was a 12th student when the movie was shot.The movie was nominated for the 2005 Academy Award for Live action Short film.

The bonds that united and the bonds that divided, both have been woven intricately. Both present and undeniably woven into the fabric of their personalities and yet, ultimately it’s a victory for humanity.

There were slight inconsistencies that mildly rankled the “realism” bit, but these were easily overshadowed by the beauty of this wonderful piece of art.

Do watch and I would love to hear your thoughts on it !