Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj

A person who says he is beyond desire and fear sure deserves my undiluted attention (alas! were it feasible this instant)

But to pick and choose from wikipedia

* He talked about the 'direct way' of knowing the Final Reality, in which one becomes aware of one's original nature through mental discrimination

* His words are free from cultural and religious trappings, and the knowledge he expounds is stripped bare of all that is unnecessary.

* Summed up in the words of Advaita scholar and a disciple, Dr. Robert Powell, "Like the Zen masters of old, Nisargadatta's style is abrupt, provocative, and immensely profound -- cutting to the core and wasting little effort on inessentials. His terse but potent sayings are known for their ability to trigger shifts in consciousness, just by hearing, or even reading them."

* "The life force [prana] and the mind are operating [of their own accord], but the mind will tempt you to believe that it is "you". Therefore understand always that you are the timeless spaceless witness. And even if the mind tells you that you are the one who is acting, don't believe the mind. [...] The apparatus [mind, body] which is functioning has come upon your original essence, but you are not that apparatus."

The Sense of "I am" (Consciousness)

When I met my Guru, he told me: "You are not what you take yourself to be. Find out what you are. Watch the sense 'I am', find your real Self." I obeyed him, because I trusted him. I did as he told me. All my spare time I would spend looking at myself in silence. And what a difference it made, and how soon!

My teacher told me to hold on to the sense 'I am' tenaciously and not to swerve from it even for a moment. I did my best to follow his advice and in a comparatively short time I realized within myself the truth of his teaching. All I did was to remember his teaching, his face, his words constantly. This brought an end to the mind; in the stillness of the mind I saw myself as I am -- unbound.

I simply followed (my teacher's) instruction which was to focus the mind on pure being 'I am', and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with nothing but the 'I am' in my mind and soon peace and joy and a deep all-embracing love became my normal state. In it all disappeared -- myself, my Guru, the life I lived, the world around me. Only peace remained and unfathomable silence.

- - Nisargadatta Maharaj


Osho on 'Fuck'; or should it be 'F**k'

The squeamish need not go further

Namak Ishq Ka (The Salt of Love)

Salut 2 Gulzar the lyricist, 2 Rekha Bharadwaj the singer and Vishal Bharadwaj, the director of Omkara

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hindi Cinema

Is Hindi film escapist? Sure as hell is for me. Surely all cinema is escapist in some sense, enabling you to disappear into another world where time is speeded up and multiple worlds unfold around u. It doesn’t really matter if it is Mike Leigh or Manmohan Desai, Lukas Moodyson or David Dhawan: they all present other worlds where things just don’t happen the way that they do in real life – but perhaps should. What is wrong in affirming the possibility that good might well triumph over evil, and that given the right conditions people might just burst into song in the mustard fields of the Punjab and kids might grow wings and play football on the roofs of Russian tower blocks? We all have times in our lives when we want to leave the reality that we live in and let our minds escape into other possible realities, be it at the Curzon Soho in London or the Eros cinema in downtown Mumbai. For the rickshaw driver whose life is endless traffic stress, abuse and exploitation, what could be nicer thatn seeing an ordinary man take on the world and win both respect and the girl? I have often escaped into five-star hotels, exiting my life in London and entering the sparkly world of the famous where everyone is beautiful and shimmers. 

……………….We all take a little of the energy of the film we have seen out with us, making the world we live in just that bit more bearable for a while. Of course it needs topping up as the harshness of life crashes down again upon our heads, but is this such a bad addiction?

- Jessica Hines in Looking for the Big B. Bollywood Bachchan and Me


Indians say that their gift is for synthesis. It might be said, rather, that for too long, as a conquered people, they have been intellectually parasitic on other civilizations. To survive in subjection, they have preserved their sanctuary of the instinctive, uncreative life, converting that into a religious ideal; at a more worldly level,. They have depended on others for the ideas and institutions that make a country work.

- V.S.Naipaul in ‘India: A Wounded Civilization’

And do thy duty, even if it be humble, rather than another’s, even if it be great. To die in one’s duty is life; to live in another’s is death

- Bhagavad Gita

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

- T.S.Eliot in The Four Quarters

You are your deep driving desire
As is your desire, so is your will
As is your will, so is your act
As is your act, so is your Destiny

- Kathopanishad

Friday, July 11, 2008

Movie Review: Gumraah (Astray) – 1963 (Hindi film)

A rather well-built Mala Sinha and a slightly overage Sunil Dutt (who plays an artist/singer in the movie) are, we are led to believe, just out of college and madly in love. They are about to reveal their infatuation to the elders when tragedy strikes. MS’s elder didi succumbs to a surprisingly scratch-free free fall from a mountain and dies. In true Indian sacrificial fashion, the younger sis marries her jijaji so that her young niece and nephew get a mother.

MS’s husband is Ashok Kumar, the successful French-spouting (if my guess is right, his accent is terrible) lawyer: loving but not the lover-type. Work keeps him away from home. The inevitable happens when MS is on a holiday back home (without the hubby) and bumps across SD. The old fire ignites at both ends.

Just when the going is about to get hot, AK arrives for a short visit. Its when the 2nd time around pa-in-law is playing cricketing shots on the golf links with the son-in-law, that AK gets introduced to SD. The acquaintance develops and SD gets access to their house. The illicit relationship continues all the way back to Mumbai (where MS, AK and family reside), develops into a blackmail plot and ends in an i-see-the-light drama.

Gumrah is quite daringly forward for the times it was filmed in; though not by Hollywood standards. The image of Sita (Ram’s wife) was the template for the depiction of all womanhood in Hindi films in those times. But Gumrah strays in that sense. And because it strays, it appeals. Because it covers a facet of human behaviour that Hindi cinema frequently overlooks. The melancholic SD who turns a darker shade towards the obsessive side, MS who plays the wife who strays into infidelity are creatures we don’t frequently come across in Hindi films.

Gumrah depicts the pangs of infidelity in a totally different light (in Hindi cinema at least). MS is no Sati Savitri. She consciously strays and how. But the directors one concession to Indian womanhood is that he is careful to avoid any reference of a physical relationship between MS and SD; although there are quite a few sensual shots.

Watch this film, for some crisp/mature editing, some beautifully framed shots especially capturing the beauty of Nainital and its environs in the lap of the Himalayas. Not to mention some good public shots of Mumbai when it was livable / watchable.

It would be easy to generalize saying that MS is no great shakes as an actress. But the truth is that in some scenes she is very ordinary while in others she rises to much much better heights. Perhaps its her ordinary acting in some scenes that makes it easier to accept her fall in the movie J . I must admit that MS has an angelic beauty and some of the admiring shots really do her beauty, justice. AK is competent as usual except when he is spouting badly accented French. Sunil Dutt didn’t appeal much to me mainly because his mannerisms didn’t appeal.

We see Deven Verma in a very early incarnation as a Brahmin cook eyeing the Christian maid. But the director never really develops that angle in the movie. Maybe it fell victim to the editor’s scissors

But to turn to the key songs which are minor classics

* Aaja Aaja Re Tujhko mera Pyar Pukare
In which Munnabhai’s Pa prances with Mala Sinha (the one with the curious dance moves) to the backdrop of the Nainital Himalayas (some stunning views there). A delightful song. And there is a happy version and a sad version of it

And in the last verse of the sad song, observe the guys in the background. You’ll see a funny sight there. A man in sherwani twitching a cigarette from ear to ear quite oblivious to the gravity of the shot

Some of these extras in the films of yore have a mind of their own. You have to keep a sharp eye out for them and you might come across some unexpected delights

Ye Hawa, Ye Fiza

Chalo Ek Baar Phir Se Ajnabi Ban Jaye