Macchars don’t wear sweaters

Archive for November 2010

Posted on: November 28, 2010

Do you know what it is like?

to talk to a wall?

cold, unmoved and silent

all that you plead and call

 

Do you what it is like

to be ground to dust?

respect and dignity held close,

like a cigarette butt crushed

 

do you know what it is like

to have wasted many a midnight tear?

when your own echoes

are all that you’ll hear

 

do you know what it is like

to always carry a question?

which you know has no answer

what could i have done?


The Backdrop

Guzaarish was 3 hours of relentless “koi….kuch….bbolta..kyon…nahi..hai..bhai” moments in A.K Hangal (of Sholay) terms, or “HA HA HA HA HA…..babumoshai….HA HA HA HA HA” moments in Rajesh Khanna (of Anand) terms (remember when your blood froze from that most morbid cackle). Matlab melodrama ki Maa, tragedy ka Taya, dukh ka Dada.

Bollywood’s idea of a sensitive movie is to choose a character of various disabilities – deafness, muteness, blindness, paralysis, cancer – and strut it and parade it till the audience is drained of every last tear. Remember when Rani and Amitabh hobbled their way to our hearts with their heart rending “aiiiiiiiiiii……..aiiiiiii……aiiiiiiii”s in Black.

Similarly, Hrithik drools, wheezes and flops around his way into our sentimental hearts, as a wheel chair bound Quadriplegic, who is fighting for his “right to die”.  After 14 years of epic-heroic struggle with the disability, in which time he started hosting his own inspirational radio show, wrote a book for fellow Quadriplegics, we finally find him cooped in a medieval looking house (the movie is shot at various locales in Goa, like Italy, France and Portugal), surrounded by close friends who specialize on getting teary eyed at every single pretext, and giving “awwwwww…….bichara beemaar puppy” looks.

The Cast

Aishwarya Rai is Hrithik’s dedicated nurse, who has single handedly kept him going for 12 years, and wears the most European looking ghagra choli in the entire land. She doesn’t want him to die in typical “tumne mujhse pooche bagair itna bada faisla le liya…jao mai tumse baat nahi karti” style, but understands his suffering. A middle aged female hottie with a nice smile (naam nahi pata) is his best friend and lawyer, who fights for his cause in the court like the saccha but gullible insaan that she is, and tries her best to convince the judge with her sincere doggy expressions. Rajat Sharma (of Byomkesh Bakshi fame) is the prosecution lawyer who contorts his eyebrows at impossible angles to look villainous. Suhel Seth, finally shifting careers from being a professional NDTV debater, plays Hrithik’s sympathetic doctor, who cries like he is mocking the very act of crying. Finally, that nonogenarian sex-bomb Nafisa Ali plays Hrithik’s mother, and delivers a speech which convinces us of the right of her son to die “mere beta ke jaan lene ko hak tumko nai, court ko nayi, unki mummy matlab humko nai, siraf hrithik khud ko hota, samjha man?”.

Unfortunately, Hrithik loses the case, but Aishwarya saves the day by agreeing to marry him and kill him. Hrithik organizes an official death party with all of his closest friends and a few professional clappers to make the room look bhara bhara, and dies happily ever after.

Analysis

Hrithik in his misty eyed, smiling, cool cripple avtaar, hopes to finally topple Aamir Khan aka “Lallan” and “Nikumbh Sir” from his seat of the most noble guy in tinsel town.

Afterword

I did in fact like a couple of scenes in the movie. Like the scene where Hrithik’s wheelchair is parked against the edge of the waterfront with waves lapping up against it, and he imagines himself standing up and walking towards the waves.

though we’ve barely just met,
how do i feel so comfortable around you?
is it that we knew each other in a last chat lifetime?
when i romanced em ‘ in the Romance room as sincereguy8,
and you were the talk of 20s Love as sassycowgirl2?

While I was doing my Chomsky post last night, I chanced upon a new video, that kept me up for most of the night. It is a BBC video interview about Linguistics with Chomsky, his field of expertise. The first thing that struck me is the lucidity with which this subject of mind boggling complexity was discussed.

Linguistics is a study with far reaching implications for almost every sphere of human endeavor in addition to Language – Science, Philosophy, Music, Maths.

What I could understand of Chomsky’s theories is as follows. Humans have an inborn genetic endowment, which helps them quickly acquire language. This is evident from the fact that in-spite of the extreme paucity of experience, humans achieve a high degree of competence in language. And we can use this ability to create totally new structures, thoughts, and concepts which are accessible to other humans. Therefore, there is an underlying genetic endowment, or structure, that guides and determines our understanding of language, and concepts formed through language.

A further implication of this is, that since everything is guided and determined by this structure, our ability to form concepts is also limited by this structure. Which implies, our understanding of the universe is limited by this structure, and there are areas which are forever inaccessible to us. This immediately sets limits to Science.

As the interviewer pointed out, this is similar to Kant’s conclusions, according to whom the mind is not a passive recipient of stimuli from an external Universe, but actively participates in forming a coherent picture of the Universe. Space and time are not attributes of the Universe, but attributes of the mind to structure and order the stimuli which come from the Universe. The dark and mysterious Universe-in-itself is forever inaccessible to humans.

In addition to the faculty of language, the mind seems to have other inbuilt endowments, common to all humanity, which are not learned from experience – Maths, Music, Science (the seeming ability to unravel the universe) (Humor?). New structures are constantly built in these areas, and are accessible to all other humans.

Chomsky goes on to say that he does not believe that these mental faculties came to be through selective evolution. Many of these abilities don’t seem to have a clear survival advantage, so are most likely subsidiary effects of other evolved abilities.

These set of universal mental endowments can be roughly taken as the “human nature”, and one can speculate that our sense of right and wrong, and even justice could be embedded embedded in this human nature.

 

My current obsession with Chomsky must be well known to the readers of this blog by now. I have seen almost every last one of his political videos online, and can almost lip sync him by now. It was refreshing to find a video series of him speaking on Humanism, and related subjects, subjects that interest me a lot these days. I often find myself agreeing with him. He symbolizes a rational, reasonable, sympathetic and tolerant view of things. I have to keep stopping myself from quoting him too much, lest i come across as a fawning disciple who can see no wrong in his Master (Chomsky ki jai).

A few brief comments on the contents of the video, before the videos themselves. The first comment he makes is on science and the human condition. He believes that the subject of human nature is almost inaccessible to Science, considering its tremendous complexity, and that more may be learned about it from literature than exact science. This is a great counter-weight to contemporary thinkers like Sam Harris and Michael Shermer, who believe that humans can be adequately studied by sciences like evolution, neuroscience etc; and almost relegate subjective experience to an inferior plane. It is possible that in the decades or centuries to come, science may be able to describe human behavior and emotions, but this does not recognize the irrational element in the human state. Humans must also be defined as how we would like them to be, not just as how they are.

He rejects religion as an important factor in his life, but concedes that it “means a lot to a lot of people”. “If someone mourning the loss of a child finds hope in the thought of afterlife, its not my business to challenge them. In fact, i think they’re lucky to have that belief”. He holds that the overall effect of religion on polity has been bad, but it continues to mean a lot to individuals. This is a lot more reasonable than believing that religion is the cause of all human ills.

Regarding Evolution, he feels that “we know very little about the evolution of humans in any relevant sense”. Evolution may be able to describe lower processes like the visual system etc, but there is barely much to work with regarding the higher processes – mental and cognitive, especially considering we are an infant species.

I like this about him that he does not overstep the mandate of science, that thinkers like Harris, Shermer and Hitchens do. Science is ultimately a tool, and a more important question is the question of living.

On free will, he says we do not know enough, or ever will, that our sense of free will, our most immediate experience, and an objective fact in the structure of the universe, or an illusion. He then quotes Bertrand Russell, who stated that we should have three levels of confidence in our belief system – the highest that of our immediate experience, the second in the experiences of those around us, and the third in the reports of scientific apparatuses. By that measure Free Will is as real as can be.

Going further he goes to say that like other animals on the planet, we are animals to, and our cognitive capacities have to be like our other biological capacities, which “have their scope, and have their limits”. I think this is a profound statement of our place in the Universe, and our sense of having the faculties to unravel the universe.

Chomsky for me epitomizes wisdom, which has to be more than just a strictly rationalist view of the world.

The sky was rosy pink
with the vivid scheme of an opal
Twilight flooded the landscape
with the mellow hues of a pearl
The world was at rest
and the air mild and tranquil.

The birds stirred in their nests
high up in the swaying trees
The daffodils nodded their heads
in th scented puffs of morning breeze
A bunny popped out of its warren
and chased the drowsy bees.

But over all was the wonderful
hush of day break.
When all was calm and quiet
in the day’s fresh wake
and for the venture of the sun
waited the earth, the sky and the lake.

In the deep valley below
the mists lay grey and cold.
But away on the horizon-
on the very margin of the world
countless peaks and coral red clouds
were beginning to be tinged with gold.

Up came the sun at last
driving away dark shadows
and changing rosy shades to gold
revealing the green of meadows
the scattered farms, the orchards
and the flat green hedge rows.

The birds began to sing
as the sky changed to blue
The flowers fluttered to dry
their garbs soaked in the silvery dew
The cowbells began to ring
and soon the shephards were in view.

The pageant of the sun’s return
had merged into the glory of full day.
As the rainbow tinted aurora
blurred into one bright ray
to flood the world
and welcome spring=and the month of May.