Posted in Movies, Originals

Understanding The Dog and The Tail | Wag The Dog | Political Satire | Movie Review

The title of a work of art can most certainly never encompass the entire depth nor breadth of the creation. But it still gives us a direction to move in, so we can find the depths and breadths for ourselves. What the creators of this rather grand political satire chose to call their creation is where I would like to begin when talking about it.

Wag The Dog – As is explained at the very beginning of the movie, is reverted pun of the phrase Wag The Tail. It is declared that when a dog wags its tail it is because the dog is smarter than the tail. But when the tail wags the dog, we have a problem. Simply because the tail is not smarter than the dog.

This peculiarly true metaphor stays with us throughout the journey of the two men and a woman, out to rescue the endangered re-election campaign of their President by any and every means possible. We are continuously trying to decipher who or what is the Dog and what is the tail.

Literally speaking we do see a dog in the story. It is a dog that comes chasing the coffin during a military funeral, wagging its tail at the contents of the national flag enrobed coffin box. The dog is put there in the scene for good aesthetics by one of the three musketeers we met at the beginning.

It is the artist that puts the dog there. He is the creator, or as he likes to call it, the producer, of the fiction that terminates in the national military funeral and a dog. It is the funeral of a hero, a war hero, a national war hero, who has returned dead from a war that never happened. Except in the fiction made by this artist, that is sold to the entire nation on national television.

But why a dog, one may ask. For the simple reason that dogs are the receivers of probably the most irrational human love. Their watery innocent eyes and wagging tails can mesmerize an entire nation into a collective Aw moment. Even if the tail is being wagged at a cheap meat piece hidden somewhere out of the camera’s sight.

It is this collective Aw moment or more specifically, the collective sentiment, that is used in the name of human interest to tell a completely fictional tale. So that emotions continue to cloud logic, at an unbelievable scale through out the country. Much as the artist uses sympathy to keep his readers hooked to the story.

But all this still speaks only of the significance of the Dog and we are still left with discovering what is the Dog precisely, and what is its Tail.

It is not until the artist dies at the end of the movie, is the elusive meaning behind the Dog and its Tail becomes clearer. Why does the artist die? How does he die? Despite saving the re-election campaign of the national President, keeping him in power by creating the best work of art of his life?

The artist is an honest man who knows his cinema theatrics all too well. He is a movie producer and knows what it takes to create a story that sells. Nothing is too difficult for him, no antagonist is too smart for him. No situation is too overwhelming for him.

All this for the simple reason that he is an honest artist. He dedicates himself to creating the story all too sincerely. He does not care if the entire nation weeps over the funeral of a man who raped a nun, just because in his story he needs to sell the man as a war hero. He does not care if the story is being used to hypnotize an entire nation into selecting a President who has been charged of sexual misconduct with a teenager.

His art has given him the power to be able to make these impossible scenarios a reality. There is no doubt that he is an excellent producer of works of art. And he still ends up dead in his hotel room pool, unrecognized for the greatest work of his life. While the entire political ecosphere continues to walk the path his art revealed, long after his death. It is the path of deceit and delusion. But it is nevertheless the path of an artist. And so it is quite powerful.

The artist is smarter than the politician and all his men combined. He is much more strong willed than the rest of them in the face of adversities. He stands by his principles even before the most powerful man on Earth. He is a true hero. Except he is not acting like one.

The artist is acting subservient to those in power and he is doing so willingly. The simple desire for recognition of his art blinds him to serve people of such low moral and intellectual congruity. And when he asks for his recognition is quietly done away with. He killed or probably secluded to death by those in power.

The artist is the flag bearer because of his courage and will to fight out difficulties. He is the leader and visionary. He is supposed to guide those of weaker morals and strength of mind. But he ends up serving them as a special kind of slave, an intellectual slave, who has sold all of his creative integrity to a political cause. What is sadder is that he does it in exchange of just credit for his work, and he is most certainly denied the very thing, the only thing, that he asks for.

And it is not very difficult to understand that men and women of such low moral and intellectual bandwidth could never have given an artist his due recognition. It is beyond their capacities to do so. And it was foolhardy of this artist to ever imagine such a possibility. He befooled himself into thinking about what a story it would all make in the end, if he was able to sell a fictional tale to an entire nation, test his storytelling abilities in real time.

It is this artistic ambition that makes him subservient, a slave, a moral and intellectual slave. His art may have been par excellence but the motives were at great fault. Which does make him a dog that is being wagged by the tail. The one less smart, less courageous, less visionary is finally controlling the more smart, more courageous and more visionary.

This work of art, Wag The Dog, comes at a time where its significance is all the more immediate. There are loads to learn from this satire that takes a laugh at not just the ones fooling the world but also the ones being fooled. It critiques the ones placing the Dog at the center of a national Aw moment and also the people participating in it. It clamps down quite sophisticatedly at the artists who use fiction to tell a horrendous lie and the readers who buy the lie.

But it also teaches us a very simple way to fight such rains of fictional tales told for ulterior motives. Which is to carry an umbrella. To shut out the rain so we do not get wet. Turn down the volume of the TV when it stops making sense to us. Get the choir to shut the melody of a lie when we know it is going nowhere. In a particular scene at the very beginning of the movie, the volume of the TV is decreased to mute for a full 5 seconds. It is the creators of the story trying to tell us that we need to shut out the entry points of this faux pas passing as fiction that tingles at our sympathetic nerves so we can save ourselves from being fooled. So we do not help the Tails in Wagging the Dogs.

Untitled

~

Cast – Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Anne Heche, Dennis Leary, Kirsten Dunst

Thursday is the Movie Day

 

Posted in Movies

Countering Racist Criticism of Harry Potter | Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I belong to the generation that grew up in the magical, mystical world of Harry Potter. The lightning bolt scar, bold Expelliarmus spell and You-Know-Who are as close to my childhood memories as my mother’s lullabies and father’s wise cracks.

So it came as a personal offence to me when I read about some people talking against its general spirit and motive.

Questions were raised about racial inclusion in the characters of the story. They said that there were hardly any witches and wizards from Asian countries or even African countries in Rowling’s world. Basically, the characters lacked in color distribution.

I had read this criticism years ago and had not been able to counter it immediately. Because it was true that in Rowling’s canvas, there were very few Browns, Blacks and Yellows. But something about the spirit of this criticism did not go down well with my understanding of the Harry Potter series.

I felt that it was being seen through a very narrow lens. A fallacy that is made when an ocean is viewed from the other side of a wall, through a tiny hole. The amount of water visible through the hole is considered by the viewer as the whole amount of water there is. So even the ocean is falsely believed to be just another lake or a pond.

This year the series celebrated 20 years of its publishing. So I decided to watch one of its movies and reminisce what it was like to be in the Harry Potter world, all those years ago. Having chosen the Fifth part of the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I think I was able to counter this allegation of lack of inclusivity by the author.

Every Harry Potter part addressed a key issue at its heart. These issues were usually related to the age Harry was in the book and also issues related to different aspects of Light and Dark.

This particular section of the HP series was about how Dark and Light always went hand in hand, even in the noblest as well as darkest of souls. Harry was not an extraordinary wizard, but he had greatness thrust upon him because of extraordinary circumstances. He is seen as a beacon of light in a world drowned in darkness of one Dark Lord. He finds this light coming from a place of love and sacrifice that he was showered upon by his mother.

The Enemy Within

rehost2f20162f92f142f8c64c151-e79c-4159-9c34-23ac69f0b948

As a 14 year old boy, at the threshold of his teenage years, Harry is shown to fight with the Darkness that can lurk even in the brightest hearts. He learns an important lesson, as do we as readers,when his Godfather explains to him

“We all have darkness and light in us. But we are defined by what we choose to act on.”

Incidentally his Godfather, Sirius Black, comes from the Slytherin House. The House that is known to be home to the Dark Lord and in itself stands for the darker forces in a human being – ambition, ego and elusivity. But he goes on to be selected in the House of Gryffindor, to which Harry and all of his family belong. He chooses to act on his brighter side, that of courage, simplicity and friendship.

We also see one Severus Snape, the teacher Harry loves to hate, revealing his own abused and bullied side as a young school boy. We see how this cold blooded human came to be so, the reasons his darkness was triggered because of nasty childhood memories.

In the closing scenes of the movie, Harry talks to his friends about what they as young teenagers have, but the Dark Lord Voldemort does not. He says that they have something worth fighting for.

What are they, as young teenagers, fighting for, which is bigger than the motives of the most powerful wizard of all time? The answer is Balance.

They are on the side of the Balance, the same side that even nature takes. There are all kinds of forces in nature – day-night, light-dark, herbivore-carnivore, birth-death, growth-decay. And together they maintain the higher goal of nature – to maintain the Balance.

Whenever the Natural Balance is tipped to any one side, whether too much good or too much bad, they are automatically brought back in check. Too much goodness weakens the ability of a man to defend himself. Too much aggression weakens the ability of a man to remain humble and grounded.

So even though the greatest threat to the wizarding society is a Slytherin, all the Slytherin House members are not vilified. All the Houses will and must exist. And must find ways to coexist despite their differences. This is the spirit of true courage in Rowling’s universe.

So even if her characters are not balancing out the White with the Black, the spirit of her story is. The underlying spirit is what, in my opinion, should matter in the end.

Text is more important than Font on a Signboard

rowling

Stories are like sign boards. Great stories are the ones that point us in the direction of this Great Balance of our own Nature. Although the design of this ‘sign board’ is important, it is not more important than the direction it is pointing towards.

To conclude that a sign having Black letters against a White background is racist, is as ridiculous as questioning the motive of Rowling towards racism. Black letters definitely occupy less space on the White background, but that only increases legibility and ease of understanding. I think that is all the purpose of the sign board is. Beyond that what the board says, where does it point, should have more significance.

J. K. Rowling grew up in Europe, studied and worked there all her life. This simple fact is bound to reflect in her writing as well. It is bound to reflect in the universe that she creates to tell her story. But is that supposed to mean the story is one sided and biased as well.

I don’t think so. I would like to quote one, Cheryl Strayed, a survivor, an inspiration and also a best selling novelist.

…when you’re speaking in the truest, most intimate voice about your life, you are speaking with the universal voice” 

And so I think that it is the truth in the voice of Rowling, when she tells the story of Harry Potter, that counts for the universality in her stories. Even if the characters are not directly racially balanced, the spirit is and that is universal as well inclusive in every way possible.

The Potterhead in me rests her case

~

When a week has been skipped and I have a compensatory post in place of the two that were missed!

 

 

Posted in Movies, Originals, Reflections

Post-truth of Most Ugly-Duckling Transformations | Princess Diaries

When I was a little girl I saw this movie Princess Diaries and the lead role became my hero. She had undergone a transformation from being an ugly duckling to being a black swan. Being an ugly child of the house, she directly appealed to me, as you can clearly understand from the comparison above.

I wanted to be like her and find my own beauty. I desired for an instant makeover like the one in this picture here. Not unlike a lot of young girls at my age are fascinated by.

rehost2f20162f92f132f14dc892e-ef70-4c52-ae4c-57542f005ffc

But I Was Not Under The Spell of Post-Truth

But there was more to my fascination with this particular story in terms of the transformation the girl undergoes in order to be a beautiful swan. She finds out in the due course of the story that the princess in her was always there. She onyl needed the courage to bring her out. Like when a small larva breaks the cocoon to become a butterfly, the larva is the butterfly. They are the same entities, same psychological and spiritual beings even though their physicalities have transformed.

It takes a while to actually see in these before and after pictures: the same girl, the same pure eyes, the same carefree smile and the same heart of gold. As if shown in the movie in this particular scene when Mia (the girl undergoing the transformation) reads out a letter from her royal father to his royal daughter, asking her to be strong and courageous even in the face of all the fears.

maxresdefault
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear

Post-Truth Check – Ugly Duck Cannot Become Beautiful Duck

Mia’s it was not the regular kind of transformation that girls usually went through, wherein they remained in the same place that they were looked down upon and then post-transformation were given respect by the same people who disrespected her. That would actually count not as an ugly duck to black swan transformation but actually an ugly duck becoming a beautiful duck.

It is really impossible for an ugly duck to ever become a beautiful duck. Because according to the standards of duck beauty she has been deemed ugly. If she is ever to be considered beautiful, that can only be in world that has different standards of beauty. A world where there are swans and where she is welcomed to be who she already is. That is why she is a beautiful swan and not a beautiful duck really. An ugly duck is always going to be an ugly duck.

Truth of Transformation

Her only way of becoming beautiful is to find other swans and be recognised as one among them. As was in the true story of the Ugly Duckling.

The ugly duckling was born to a mother duck as she nested other eggs in her nest. It was the only one bigger than the rest. The ugly duckling was different form the very beginning. The ugly one turned out to be black and different from the pure white ducks. And was continuously ridiculed upon by the rest of the mother duck’s family and community. At a certain age, the mother duck could not take the humiliation of her baby and as a result of herself, so much so that she asked her ugly baby duckling to go away.

This act of leaving the place the ugly duckling called home ever since it learned the definition of the word home, is crucial. It had to go through a long and elaborate journey, filled with all kinds of struggles and hurdles, many of the kind that almost broke its will to live. It almost gave into cold and death. But it hung to slightest hope that it could find, the hope of seeing its dream come true. Of finding beauty in its ugly self.

And then finally one day, it lands amongst the waters of freedom. It floats away into a pool of swans that looked and sung like it. It shared music with these strange creatures of another world. It felt home like it had never felt with anyone in its real home. It was finally, truly home, the way a home is meant to be. It is a beautiful black swan, singing away the music of its soul and contributing into the universal sound – the singular verse of everything.

Still Trapped in the Post-Truth? Watch This Caterpillar Struggle To Become A Butterfly

Warning : You may feel creeped out and uncomfortable watching the video. But that is your proof that Truth is Uncomfortable and unnerving. And that is one of the ways to fight Post Truth. To put it to the test of Discomfort.

Most of the stories that we may have grown up on, or still cling to, deep down  in our dungeons of self-shame, are only clawing at these very insecurities we all nurture. They are not speaking the truth that we will need to go through a painful transformation like that of a butterfly, burst out of our small selves, burst open our tiny cocoons of minds and develop wings that will definitely pierce through our skins for us to be able to become butterflies. A larva is never turned into a flying larva but rather into a butterfly. It aches, hurts, almost dies with pain, is mostly blind to the probably future of becoming a butterfly and most importantly, constantly endangered by death altogether. And when it keeps its focus through all of these stages, does it finally turns into a independent, gorgeous, tender little independent creature we all call a Butterfly. Only then.

~

And just for the record, Post-Truth is a new age term borne of our generation pregnant with belying politicians willing to twist and turn facts to represent conclusions of their interest. It has led to the following definition of the term Post-truth

” Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief “

(Taken from Oxford Dictionaries)

Posted in Movies

Throwback to a Tale as Old as Time | Beauty and the Beast

It is a tale as old as time. The tale of the Ugly Duckling, the misfit, the circular peg in a square hole. But that is the thing about Great Stories orAncient Tales, they are the same all this while. And yet we like to return to them over and over again. There is something about them, their predictability makes us feel safe, almost. We know what comes after what and we love to know why does it come like that. Over and over again. It is almost as if we are in regulated and constant need of the same lessons over and over again. Like it was food for the soul and the soul went hungry every few hours or days or months or even years maybe? But it does go hungry again and that is when we go back to the these Stories and Tales, or find ourselves in a serendipitous meeting by chance.

This year we have given a throwback to one of the oldest tales we all have told and retold as a generation, the tale of the Beauty and the Beast. A tale of two misfits, two Ugly Ducklings coming together in a charming tale of love.

I had to go. I had to go see this movie even though I had watched it in bad print off of the torrent sites. Even though I had the older animated version of the Disney movie already downloaded and watched recently. Even though it meant I had to go watch the movie all by myself, because my parents would not be interested in the story. Even though the movie would be dubbed in my native language, at least it would be in 3D and good picture quality. Even though I would buy popcorn and cold drinks costlier than my ticket itself. I had to go.

And so I went. I went to see how was the throwback after all. Was it good enough? Did it bring something new to the Great Story, a new dimension, a new way of seeing or how did the Tale change when seen in 3D with real life characters instead of the old animated circles and ellipses? Would it touch my heart in new ways? Would it remind of the first time I read the story in a big, old yellow fairy tale book? Would it bring tears to my eyes like it always did? And most importantly would it make me Believe in the beauty of art and power of storytelling, all over again? Especially in this age of ours when artificial intelligence is challenging the very foundations of our artistic media with its

And most importantly would it make me Believe in the beauty of art and power of storytelling, all over again? Especially in this age of ours when artificial intelligence is challenging the very foundations of our artistic media with its bots who are so close to creating art and writing stories, challenging the artists to come up with something completely out of the blue or become extinct with time.

I know, a bit too much to be expected from a single art piece. But then art is known to transform the world with only a handful of demonstrations which are only duplicated for the time that follows until another transformation happens.

So the parts of the story that were already known and expected, did not quite bore me as much as I had thought they would. The elaborate musicals that followed the intensely emotional scenes were passable and not so moving especially because I was listening to dubbed lyrics and not the original ones in English. So I let it pass because with a benefit of doubt. And since I live in a small town, the 3D quality was also not quite mindblowing.

And yet the moments of magic did come. They were quietly moving and beautifully written. But they were few. So this may not be the revolutionising art piece, but it would be a reminder of the grandeur of the past that the storytellers of our generation need to prove themselves upto.

Moments of Magic | Misfits Fitting Together

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-7-51-39-am-1600x800

First, was when Belle and Beast are having a conversation, in just the company of each other, and in a deserted land away from all the square pegs of the world. Beast is quite obviously discriminated against for his horrible looks. But that is not what makes him sad. He is sad because people stop smiling and laughing in his presence. And it is not because he looks a certain way or smells a certain way that puts people off to stop smiling. It is his rage and uncontrolled temper that scares away smiles and laughter.

To which Belle replies with a dilemma of her own. Quite opposite, but a dilemma nevertheless. She talks of the laughter that ensues in her absence as well, but not that of joy but of scorning and taunting. People do not like her ways of having a dream to want something more than the small town. So they taunt her for being so naive. At the same wanting to keep their children away from her naivety, fearing it would any day turn into rebellion. They don’t let her read, her one true love in life.

That was a beautiful moment because it did not go by the regular understanding of the story where only the ugly beast is rescued by the Beauty. But they are both rescuing each other.

Moments of Magic | Sorting the Childhood Skeletons

beauty-and-the-beast-7

Then comes the time he offers a small artefact of his magical kingdom, the magical world book that could take you to any place of your choice. He asks her if there was anywhere she wanted to go. And she chooses a place from her childhood. Almost reminding me of the Skeleton Woman being discovered in Belle’s mind – an old, horrifying wish buried deep in her psyche. What happened of her mother? Why was she abandoned as a baby by her own mother? And she finds out the truth, the Skeleton is removed from its hiding place and put together in place like a real Skeleton. She finds out her mother was ill and did not wish for her daughter to catch her illness as well. So she chooses to die alone and asks her husband to take Belle away immediately. The broken Skeleton is slowly fixed. And then it was time for the muscles to form over the Skeleton. And it is the passionate heart of the Beast that does the job, as in the Skeleton Woman’s story, where the drum-like heartbeat of the fisherman is used to summon flesh for the naked bones of the Skeleton Woman.

The Beast apologises for separating her father from Belle. He apologises for thinking him to be a thief and realises his mistake. And when time comes for her to ask for being set free so she could go back to her father in grave trouble, he sets her free. His passion is put to test and he passes. It is another way of saying you set, what you love, free. But it is also about realising why did you want to cage something you loved, in the first place? He mistook her father to be a thief and punished him with a life sentence, which was taken over by Belle as a punishment for herself, in exchange for her father’s freedom. But when Beast realises there was no offense done, but just an act of pure love that inspired Belle’s father to pluck the rose, he lets her go as well. Even though now it means he was going to be condemned to a lifelong sentence of becoming a beast himself. He accepts it. And this passion gives Belle the strength to stand before a whole society, her old ways, her old townspeople as a whole and speak the truth. She confronts the evil Gaston who wanted to capture her with his misogynistic love and succeeds in returning to her true love.

beauty-and-the-beast

In return, she helps him set in place his own broken Skeleton by teaching him to face his own self as a Beast and accepting him. She does so by accepting him, herself. She drinks soup in a way he can too. She helps him realise his main problem was his uncontrollable temper, which was in his control to fix. Unlike his beast self which was beyond his power to control. She realises he is cursed because he was hurt as a child. And she accepted him because she knew people with broken hearts could become beasts themselves – morose, sulken and non-believing beasts – who are in need of love and acceptance. She sets his old, buried Skeleton back in place.

Moments of Magic | Raging Against the Dying Light

5jkfx

And then finally the magic happens when the castle transforms under the first rays of the Sun. There was dark and now there is light, at last. Both within and without the castle. The wisdom is restored to the mind that had gone astray, that of the Beast and the townspeople. The magical curse of ignorance has been lifted, with love and passion. The Sun is up in the sky again, after a long, dark night. And the words of a certain Wise Old Man, cannot help but resound in my heart and bones –

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

~ Dylan Thomas ~

~

Beauty and the Beast was a record-breaking success in its first week of release this year. Although I was disappointed to see that it did not make it my cut of a revolutionary art piece, it was nevertheless one of the most brilliant throwbacks to the beauty and power of art. And that of storytelling as well. Technology and its advances made the experience of this storytelling nothing like before. And yet there is something that is required of a revolutionary art piece, that is a revolutionary thought in the storytelling and just the language of its communication.

I think I will have to wait a long time till that revolution rises in an artist, till someone is ready to step aside themselves and let the Wilderness speak through them the words of Wisdom which will set our human race free, from the curse of the dark night of ignorant bliss.

Join me on my journey through art pieces and my experiences of them, twice a week.

 

 

 

Posted in Artists, Movies

Nina Simone and the Wild Woman Archetype

Dangerous Minds uploaded a video of Nina Simone performing a rather melancholic number. She kept improving along the performance saying how it was a tragedy that such a song had to exist. The pain of having to create a music piece, a melody, a baby, that had so much blood and tears in it was shining in her big eyes. This was my first introduction to Nina Simone.

I had instantaneously taken to liking that brutal honesty in her demeanour. She looked like a fighter to me, who was fighting all the pain you could see in her eyes, to be able to create art and put it out there to be shared. I had immense respect and love for this woman, whom I had seen only 3 minutes ago.

Pure hearted love was what she commanded out of my heart in the first few minutes of knowing her. Today when I read the stories of the wild women who let their wild natures run with the winds, goddesses of Life/Death/Life cycles, La Que Sabe – the one who knows; I imagine someone like her. I imagine that face with a struggle strewn across it, fighting against whatever she had to fight, in order to let her baby, her creative labour, exist in this world.

Vasalisa the Wise

I read stories of the wise woman Vasalisa, who went into the wild jungles risking her life, to find the fire of life so she can cook and feed herself. I see how the young woman is initiated into the rites of becoming a woman, of discovering her inner creative fires – the lessons of Life/Death/Life cycles where she lets live what must live and lets die what must die – so she can feed herself with the fire. So she can have her creative endeavours feed her stomach and her children’s stomachs. So she can accomplish the rites of becoming a wild woman of the wild natures.

vasilisa
Source – Wikipedia

And then I watch the tribute to this wonderful woman who wished to be the first Black Classical Pianist in the world. She had dreams beyond the limits of her skin and her race and the society she was born in. But she was not to be contained. She accomplishes her grandest dreams that she saw as a young woman, but not until 3 days before the end of her long, fulfilling life of a seventy years. I watch the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? and somehow the stories of Vasalisa, the Wise Woman, coincide with those of Miss Simone.

As a 4 year old child, Nina was gifted with a piano and a chance to take lessons in Classical music – a chance which was rare in the Black community. She was instantly estranged by her own, much before discovering how her own were estranged too, in the society outside. She travels into the jungles of show business with this gift of music and survives its worst nightmares. Much like Vasalisa, who is left estranged when her mother dies an early death leaving behind a gift for her, a magical doll.

Dichotomies of fame, choice between selfish art and selfless civil rights activism, the decision to build one’s career or devote oneself to those in need, being treated as a race horse, even by those closest to her, an abusive marriage and finally, her own clinical manic depression and bipolar disorder.

These are nothing less than surviving the dangerous House of the Hag from Vasalisa’s legend, where impossible tasks are laid down before the woman is to be initiated into the ways of the creatively awakened woman, the wild woman.

She returns from the jungle with what she set out to seek, the fire of creative spirit awakened, alive and burning. In the story, Vasalisa returns from the jungles with a skull on fire with the eternal fire. There is a moment of being fear by what is seen of the bright light of the creative fire. There is an urge to let it all be thrown aside, for the darkness that has been brought to light, the darkness of the society around. But she carries on nevertheless, both of them carry on nevertheless, both Nina and Vasalisa. This fire burns down the destructive demons of her own being as well. Vasalisa has her evil step mother and step sisters burnt to cinders by the eternal fire of the skull. Nina fights her manic depression, the demons of her own mind and body, picked up over the years of racial discrimination, isolation, abusive marriage and pressures of a career in show business. She fights the illness with love from her estranged daughter and the modern medicine that can recognise this illness as illness and not madness. She is cured.

And finally, as Vasalisa returns home with her fires to keep her alive and healthy, Nina makes a full circle to the point where she started. As a 19 year oild, young black pianist, she was denied an entry into the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music even after graduating from a prestigious institution in itself, Juilliard. Three days before her death, she receives a degree in music from the same institute.

~

Nina Simone (1933~2003) is a legend of both the music industry and the social activism. Her music was her way of participating in the Civil Rights revolution of the 1960s America. Her music was ahead of its time in acknowledging the importance of keeping it real and true to the soul. She let herself be criticised for being unprofessional when she dedicated herself wholeheartedly to the Civil Rights movement instead of focusing on her musical career and a politically correct image. And yet she is a legendary musician with her music encompassing a variety of genres like classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop. She is known as someone who brought the discipline of the Classical music to the spontaneity of Jazz. She is known to have a mystical, almost religious relationship to her music, so much so that even the mind numbing medication of Manic Depression could not stop the flowing waters of her music.

She quit the American dream after Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead. ‘The king of love was dead.’ she declared in her journals and also one of her songs. She made France her home in the later years of her life. But not before spending a brief time into the wild, and away from the show business, by staying in Africa. By returning to France, she claimed her music, her daughter and her self back.

The story of Nina Simone is an inspirational one, it is painful, depressing at times, aweinspiring and motivating all at once.

Stay with me here. I bring in stories that touch my heart and soul every Mondays and Thursdays.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Movies

When Death Breaks the Charm of Happily-Ever-Afters | A Little Bit of Heaven

Romantic comedies and romantic drama has been one of my most binge watched genres of movies for a very long time. Until I decided on writing deeper and more meaningful things, I did not drift away from this genre. But every now and then I turn back and spend a series of movies from the same old lovey dovey list where the movies begin with a lack of love and end with eternal love having been found.

But over the years, the genre has pushed me towards what is called a more serious kind of romance – the romance that is usually followed or preceded by a death. Either of the lovers or one only one of them, leaving my usual expectations of a happily-ever-after exposed to real life.

And actually thinking about it, it is easy to see how the greatest of love stories are indeed associated with death. Death is the greatest loss of life, its opposite, better or worse half I cannot say for sure, but its half. And somehow love is deeply connected to both of them deeply. As if love was the quality of the entity whose two opposite faces were life and death. As if love was the value of the coin, whose opposite sidees were life and death, head and tail.

These stories, they are people responding to deaths of people they knew. They cannot, would not, may not be about people dying themselves. It is about people dealing with the ideas of death as well of life, these stories. In these stories that move you to life or to death, are about real life people who moved to music that made them feel alive, or cried tears of pain at a death and converted those tears into words to become stories.

Earthbound

The movie ends with the woman and the form in which she saw her God, sitting on a couch, sipping champagne the celebration drink and moving like Gods to the wonderful music of celebration. A new child was born on the day that she dies. Feeling so much happiness and so much sadness all at once is not easy. And amazingly that is what is life. Atleast that is what the storytellers of this story want to share with us. How life is incredibly happy and incredibly sad all at once. There is life and there is death. There is life because there was death and there is death only because there was life. How does the number of souls increase because human population increases you may ask, well that is a bummer I am yet to resolve.

But until then, these wonderful stories continue to make me feel alive and grateful for being alive as is. I am with people who know what is love and what are life and death. I am surrounded by the words of some and I am surrounded by others physically, as family and dear friends!

~

Some lovely romantic drama every now and then is always a cheer up. Do watch one of those oldies that are your favourites or any new one or just the one I shared with you today, and have a tinge of the fairy tale romance in your real world cocktail!

Please follow the blog for more such stories. I put out blogs every Monday and Thursday.

Posted in Movies

How Some Book Adaptations Are Not Lies | The Perks of Being a Wallflower

A true thing, if poorly expressed, is a lie. – Stephen Fry

In Why Movie Adaptations Of Books Are Lies, the previous blog post, we saw the above words of acclaimed actor and comedian Stephen Fry come true. But there are some things that are so well expressed, with all the truth both in intention and action, that the truth is bound to come through to our hearts.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one such work of expression. Maybe we should allow more writers to direct the movies that are adaptations of their movies. Because the writer (Stephen Chbosky) of the novel, on which this coming of age movie (but is so much more than just that), is based on has also directed the motion picture. Since it was the writer itself involved in deciding what of the novel goes into the picture and how, the truth is kept very much alive during the transformation from a book to movie.

Talking about this story we are not talking about a book or a film, we are forced to talk about the real people involved. They and their stories become more important than the people who are telling the stories. Which is the way it should ideally be. The storyteller, be it the movie maker or the novelist, should lose themselves into the characters of their story. They need to shed their own personality and let the characters be seen for who they are. This is the challenge indeed which makes a story touch hearts and stay there for a long time.

Both the media of storytelling, bring you closer to the beautiful heart of the wallflower, Charlie. He is a teenager with a very unadulterated view to the world. Considering that he has spent a very crucial time of his childhood in a psychiatrist’s office, he has been kept at bay from the regular school life ever since. He has learnt to be ignored by the groups formed at school because they think he is a freak. His only friend commits suicide right before the story begins.This rather unfortunate experience has forced him to be at a distance from the world around him and hang on the wall – silently looking and observing but not participating.

The story begins when he is forced to participate, both by the ones who love him already and the ones he will come to love eventually. His psychiatrist and his family have motivated him to make a new beginning at making friends. And this brings him to the two people that will change his life forever, two beautiful souls by the name of Sam and Patrick.

Perks of being Misfits

All three of them are misfits of the school life. And honestly, as we discover as the story moves on, blessed to be secluded from it all. This is the story of how they each discover their places in the real world, the world beyond high school. That is one of the most wonderful things about being a misfit in any world, you are forced to go beyond it in order to find somewhere you can fit. You get to go beyond what you have known to be true all your life. Maybe being a misfit is a sad way out, but then sadness is the other face of happiness. They are both gifts of this life which make it valuable, like the two opposite faces of a coin.

perk-of-being-wallflower-img10

Patrick is a gay man in a world that is homophobic by default. He is the anomaly amongst the boys who are being brought up by family and the popular culture to be proper. To be a man and an honourable one. But he is a ruthless, carefree boy who wants to be everything inappropriate according to the society. He wants to love another man, to kiss him and make him feel loved. He wants to play music that touches his aching heart and wants to stay close to people who appreciate music and are not in a commercial relationship with it.

entertainment-movies-2012-08-09-perks

Sam is a young woman in the making, who has not felt the protection of a household and been abused by men in her own house as a child. She is used to finding security in men who treat her like shit. She is used to acting dumb with the men in her life, to make herself small, in order for them to feel important and stay with her. So they just continue loving her. The need for love has replaced all the other priorities. She is trying hard to find meaning amongst her loved friends who have accepted her. Her step brother Patrick, who has come to take over the role of a beloved male in her life, has also brought her solace. But she yearns for a deeper togetherness that binds her body and soul to another’s. She is a dreamer who believes in a soul mate, which she found in the most beautiful music. She wants to see her dream come true.

the-perks-of-being-a-wallflower-tunnel

As for Charlie, he is a young boy who has been a wall flower since very early in his life and for way too long now. He has forgotten what it was to participate in life and the ongoings of the room, whose wall he decorates by hanging on to it. The little nuances of each character are being seen through his sensitive eyes in the story. He understands and really sees each one. He is unbiased in his attention and then when he chooses to finally have a major portion of his attention drawn to the most beautiful thing he can find, love, it wells up our eyes. He is a sensitive soul, pure as a dew drop, capable of forming a whole river, but held by his ability to feel the pain of the mud that will wrap around his purity, if he chooses to roll down. He sees this dirt of pain and suffering in all the dew drops around, in all the souls around him. He feels the tears rolling down the face of all those who have come before him and all those who will come after him. He sees that we are all indeed in this together and yet alone in our own special way. And that we are each their for ourselves and we are each our own best bets at making through life.

This is the story of him realising this underlying unity that runs beneath the separated islands of the ocean of life. He makes the people around him realise that as well by making them feel that they are special to him and that he sees them. It often leaves them spell bound or sometimes ashamed at not reciprocating the same feeling back to him or sometimes in complete gratitude for being seen and loved. Sam and Patrick are one of those people, also his parents and siblings, eventually.

One of the most important lessons this story taught me was to take the opportunity of being broken in life, and realising that we are broken in our special ways. And we all have our own shots at being happy again, at being healed again. He is a victim of paedophilia as a young kid and because he is abused by someone he loves, his own aunt, he is forced to never acknowledge it to be an abuse. He never realises the horror of this situation until he is touched once again. but with pure love this time. That is when he realises that the last time someone touched him was not out of love but out of something ugly. It was not lust. It was a hideous grief of a woman who was abused as a kid herself. Knowing her terrible past, Charlie brings himself to forgiving his poor aunt for what she did to him. He chooses love above that grief which she could not help but transfer onto him.

Do watch the movie or read the wonderful story in its long form, to experience this young man coming of age to the deepest of things of the adult world. While some of those things maybe ugly, there are some pearls too, that he discovers in those depths. Take the journey with him atleast once, and be rewarded with what it feels like to be a wallflower!


It was one of the most tranforming experiences for me to know and live the story of Charlie, Sam and Patrick as a teenager myself. I grew up and came of age with them. I listened to their music both in the book and the movie (Heroes by David Bowie and Asleep by The Smiths). I have cried so many times with both the happy and sad parts of their lives. And foremost I have also tried to find the pearls of purity in the depths of my own life, inspired by them.

I hope that this love transfers onto yourself and you too find some value in this story. If you do, I will find my aim of writing this blog fulfilled. In closing I would like to say that another very important lesson I took from this story is that

It is not a mountain full of stone that can hinder our journey to the top, but the tiny pebble in your shoe that will hold you back. So I hope that you too focus on finding the pebble in your own shoe and take it out of your life, instead of being consumed by fear of the whole mountain.

I post in new stories every Monday and Thursday. Please follow the blog to let me share beautiful and wonderful experiences with you!

Here are some wonderful quotes from this story.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.