Saturday, December 17, 2016

La La Land

This is definitely going to be an all time favorite film.

I'm so jealous of youth.  And starry-eyes.  And the slow flush of fresh love. And the beauteous search for meaning. And how love often means nursing your lover's dream, even as life chips away at it.

But here's the what-if twist - whither ambition when love is at your heart-step?

La La Land is lyrical, sumptuously accessible, filled with the cynicism and jazz-filled dream of Ryan Gosling, the liquid soul-mirrored eyes of Emma Stone. Emma embodies everybody's confusion, ambition, power and weakness. Both of them love each other so dearly that they desperately want the other to achieve. But what fuels incipient dreams also powers them to places they never thought they would reach. But then, isn't that the very purpose of life?

When both of them stop to catch their breath, to settle down to a simple meal, to figure out what their prodding the other led the other to, truths tumble out. Alas, as is the human norm, the only truth he sees in her mirror are the stories he's told himself.

Such is the persuasion and charm of this fabulous film, that in our involvement with the characters, we absorb the sublimal sub-text by almost missing it - longing for love or life can often take us to different places - both good, both compromised, both tragic, both qualifying as success. In the end, preciousness is what we have, and learn to treasure. However big the regret.

This is pure cinema, in its ambition to help us soar beyond our ordinary lives - without forgetting that the miniscule inside our hearts is an empire for each one of us.

This a movie to learn and love. One for the ages.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


To me, this is a film about choices and communication. Communication - it's lack, it's contradictions, it's compulsions, it's limitations - and what it does to us.  Subtly, slowly, the film pulls us into its myriad ironies and it's questions.  And choices - the ones we make in spite of knowing everything - because life is lived in the pleasures of the moments and not its tragedies.

The communication channels are opened with aliens, and the attempt is to garner from them their intention of coming onto the earth. And the irony is that the communication expert called in is single - and haunted by personal loss - fatal vis-a-vis her child, and vacant vis-a-vis her partner.

And as she and her physicist companion slowly unravel meanings, all around people are misinterpreting meanings. Perceptions, fear, tension - all internalise interpretations which were never there. It's the way we jump to conclusions, day in day out. Cooperation and more communication is called for - and is not forthcoming.

And as my friend Avi, explained - it is reality in its own way - it's my reality, yes, but it is also a part of the larger canvas  - the world exists because we perceive it, even though it is only as we see it.

And it's our failure to understand that these differences are all part of the same tapestry, is what causes grief.

More intense is the dilemma of choices. What if you knew the future and it's grievances - would you still live the road to surefire tragedy?

And since this is sci-fi, there are twists. And one which is sumptuous.  The emotional tug of the mother and daughter interaction, which also gives the perspective to so many of the film's philosophical underpinnings, is the way to life's many solutions.

And seeing into the future is a film plot, but pursuing your heart is life's.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Kapoor & sons - victims and survivors ~

In the universe of pain, we hurt family the most. Our privilege of having seen their souls makes it easy for us to tear into them, ruthlessly, often without remorse. We seek solace in our family, know it be our sanctuary, but have no compunction in taking it for granted: we do not think twice before burning our homes down. 

We become sensitive to every inflection of voice, every turn of phrase - and then sit back and wonder why would we be so continuously hyper about them who have no reason to hurt us?

And there lies the irony of family ties: "we will take you for granted but not have you treat me the same way."

Who amongst us is not haunted by the questions of who is mother's favorite, of why the phone call first went to younger  brother, of why he gets away for all his crimes. In the familial manure, grow our first intimations of jealousy,  privilege, discrimination, hurt. And the shadows stay inside. And lengthen outside us in those inflection points when we lose our heads and our worlds seem to be collapsing around us.

But in between are the good times. When you can be yourself.  And be given space for being yourself.  To learn to be touchy -feel with your mum, to understand the quiddities of your dad, and to discover - often with shocking results - that they are also human, and it's not strengths but frailties which make the man.

Far, far away from home, you miss your mother's admonishments, close to her you hear only the stentorian tone. You grow,  look back and realize that love for siblings can never be equal: it's not a mother taking sides, but one human being being more comfortable with another - and struggling with the choice.

Our capacity to give pain is only matched with our ability to carry it. But when there is a cloudburst, dams burst and there is a deluge. There is a purge, there is remission, there is contrition, there is realization.  There are also hurts.

And the facade of a 'happy family' melts away and the hypocrisies are there for all to see. And for people who would have sworn that they would have died for each other, the stark reality stands in front of them - they could very well have killed each other. 

Love only has victims. Family only has survivors.