Thursday, October 11, 2007

Errata: The movie that I wrote about in my previous blog entry is called Saraansh and not Sangharsh. The error is regretted.

I realised I made a mistake when I was reading a critical text this afternoon sitting on the very same bean bag I had mentioned in my previous blog. To take a break from reading, I looked at the ventillator and the name came to me.

There is a movie called Sangharsh too but I don't remember whether I have seen it and who is in it. I guess I'll get some info about it if I google it but then who cares? When you don't remember it, I guess, you didn't find it worth remembering.

This mistake however is a good case of Freudian slip. There is so much sangharsh in Bhatt's movie that I am not at all amazed that I remember that as the name of the movie.

By the way, I don't think I figured out, ever, why that movie was called Saaransh. This word loosely translates to the word 'essence' and in Hindi it is used most frequently in the phrase jeevan ka saaransh which can be replaced in English by the often heard, rather resigned, rhetorical question "Is this what life is about?" I remember one of my brothers, aged about 20 then, was hugely disappointed and visibly upset when a friend of the family, whom we were are all rather fond of, chose to call his newly built house Saaransh. Being a graduate student in a competitive English department then, I promptly wondered about intrepretation and misintrepretation but somehow my brother and I never got around to talking about that again.

In our Hindi speaking consciousness this word has a negative tinge if not a totally negative connotation. Just as most English speakers are uncomfortable with the word 'clever' becuase they promptly associate it with 'cunning' and not with 'intelligent'.

Now the question is, why did Mahesh Bhatt choose to give this title to this movie? Especially when the last shot is of the old couple sitting on a park-bench in soft sunlight and the pleasant cliche of their son's ashes turning into grass after all those grey and dark frames of a bleak corridor, ventillators and ceiling fans? Bhatt must've been a rather young man when he made this movie. I would say somewhere in his mid-30s. The question I'd like to ask Mr. Bhatt, if I ever meet him, would be this: Why call that movie Saaransh?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Well yes, when all the regular hibernators must be preparing their cosy nooks to go into hibernation, I am coming out of hibernation! And you would think that I would have some earth-shatteringly significant announcement if I chose to come out of hibernation. Never fear! It is just me with my random observations about life in general and things in particular.

We have recently created a makeshift dining space in our new home. This is not only a dining space it doubles up as a pleasant space to sit around and chat or pontificate. On a rainy morning, when the weather was totally uninspiring for anything but whiling time away, I was sitting on my beanbag reading the capers of a boy who was created in England between the two World Wars. Now, however well written mischief is, you either have to be a mischievous child or have to be have been one to read William's doings with rapt attention. My eye wandered to the ventilator above the door. I was sure I had seen that ventilator before. I mean the same patter on glass as was set in that ventilator. No, not some time previously in the same house and no I don't mean deja vu. Having nothing better to do I let my thoughts wander toward the sighting of that very same pattern in a ventilator. Was it a photograph? Was it something on a screen? Well yes, it was on a small screen. In a flash, a la Bollywood, I knew where I had seen. In a Hindi movie of course. And not at all the typical Bollywood movie. This movie was made by Mahesh Bhatt and it launched one of the best actors in Bollywood - Anupam Kher. It was called Sangharsh and was an account of the crazy struggle of a retired schoolteacher trying to get the typically corrupt officials of some government enterprise to release the urn that contained the ashes of his son who was killed in an act of racist violence in the US. This movie was made before globalisation and before Indians migrated to the US in planeloads. And if you think that was enough to depress you, this movie also dwelt upon the power of politicians, ideals of youth, star-crossed lovers, right/desire of a woman to have a baby conceived out of wedlock and madness. Wow! Quite a list that! That is ten movies even for Vishal Bharadwaj!
I saw this movie on DD when the goras who we saw were the ones heading from the airport to the only two luxury hotels in our town and was not old enough to read about racism and the various theories and ideologies it generated. So, the movie left a huge impact. I think I can recall every frame if I set myself that exercise.
How is that my middle class home has the same ventilator glass that was there in a movie? Well, yes the movie was set in Bombay (it was Bombay then and not the relatively new Mumbai) and it was about a man who must have put in his life's savings to buy that flat. Also, I always suspected Mahesh Bhatt shot all his movies in actual homes and not on artificially created sets or hotel rooms. However, the uncanny resemblance was firmly ensconed in some back recess of my mind. And I started noticing ventilators in various houses. Most of them looked like mine!
So, if you are living in Bombay and you are not Amitabh Bachchan then you live in a flat, in a building, in a colony. Even you cannot pick either your flat or even your building among all the others for having some unique quality. If living in Delhi is like living in a sarkari colony, living in Mumbai is living in a sarkari colony minus the amenities.
For more on Mumbai, look at this space every once in a while!