Lyrical Love – Part V

Back to writing about the two things that could keep me awake and on a high permanently in life – Love and Music :) 

The last time I featured (previous editions in this series : 123 and 4) 3 Malayalam songs and this time, I’m switching to another language – Tamil. These three phenomenal songs have been on a loop on my phone and laptop for the whole of last month and I cannot stop. Here goes:

—–

So I’ve watched this movie Goa (Tamil), and only because this song Arabic Sea playing on the TV had piqued my interest because I loved Goa the couple of times I’ve been there and even a movie situated in Goa can transport me into a romantic world of my own. After all, who can blame me?

But I never kind of “noticed” this song, and it had to wait for a couple of years for my ears to discover it – and never want to stop listening after that. I stumbled onto it while researching Andrea Jeremiah (she starred in a Malayalam film Annayum Rasoolum and I was kinda checking her out :P)  and heard her croon this song in a video. Wondering why I had never noticed it, I find the actual song on youtube…

…and realized just *why* the hero of the Malayalam movie Fahadh Faasil fell in love with Andrea (yes, in real life – they are together currently).

Whatay voice!! But oh, what a song.

This, is a woman’s song. A powerful woman’s song.

A woman who can look straight into the eyes of her lover and not hesitate to tell him that she loves him and what thoughts of him do to her. Sensual, bursting with life, and yet fluttering longingly around the senses to create a kind of excitement that makes you want to touch, and yet, stop inches before you do.

Andrea’s voice is magic. Throaty and raw, she brings life to the piece and I’ve heard several renditions of the song after that, but there is truly only one Andrea.

Ajeesh – a reality music show find, is the perfect foil for her. Muted and melodious, his rendition of Dhegam ippodhu unarndhadhu, Thendral en meedhu padarndhadhu, Mogam munneri varugudhu munne makes me want to stretch my arms à la SRK, and forget everything else that exists around me. A fine find indeed!

While I am waxing eloquent on the choice of singers, it’s not just them but the music and the perfect lyrics, particularly for the situation in the movie. You can find a (poetic attempt at) translation for the song Here.

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Song: Idhu Varai
Movie: Goa
Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja
Lyrics: Gangai Amaran
Singers: Andrea Jeremiah, Ajeesh

YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGztE6CDn08

Idhu varai illaadha unarvidhu
Idhayathil undaana kanavidhu
Palithidum annaalai thedidum paadal kettaayo…

Moodamal moodi maraithadhu
Thaanaga poothu varughudhu
Thedamal thedi kidaithadhu ingey… (2)

Inge oru inbam vandhu niraya
Eppodhu en unmai nilai ariya
Thaangamalum thoongamalum naal selludhey…

Illamale nitham varum kanavu
Kollamal kolla, sugam ennendru solla

Nee thunai varavendum neenda vazhi en payanam…

Ange ange vandhu vandhu kalakkum
Venmegamum vennilavum pola
Endhan manam, ennangalai, yaar arivar…

En nenjamo un pola alla
Yedho ore maatram
Nilai puriyadha thottram

Idhu nirandharam alla
maarividum mananilai dhan…

Manadhile ullorum unarvugal
Malarnthadhey muthaana uravugal
Piranthadhe thannale kadhavugal namakku munnale…  (2)

Dhegam ippodhu unarndhadhu
Thendral en meedhu padarndhadhu
Mogam munneri varugudhu munne…  (2)

—–

I kid (pun intended) sometimes that the only thing one gains out of Facebook is the tiredness from having to like and ooh and awww these oh-so-adorable pictures of infants & toddlers (offsprings of one’s classmates & colleagues – hmph,  this is probably the problem with this generation I belong to: eminently fertile and prone to gushing about one’s own babies :P).

Sarcasm aside :), once in a while this difficulty brings along with it some surprises. I came across this song from a video one of my friends had posted, of her lovely little 2 year old, trying to lisp a song – apparently taught to him by his grandpa, and the only Tamil that comes out of his mouth for now. The attempt was very cute and so I tried to check out what the real song was like. I mean, if the grandpa wanted this to be the first Tamil words the kid could speak/sing, it probably meant the song was a favorite, right? I was thinking this would be one of those 50’s classics or so. Surprise, surprise – a 2012 number!

It took me just one watch to decide I wanted the song on my iphone playlist. Now that’s a commitment, guys – and I’m usually not one to make commitments so easily :P.

A few hours of listening to the song on loop followed and after that, there’s not been a day when I can stop at listening to it just once. If I could describe the song in one word, that would be:

Nirvana.

Haricharan, hitherto unknown to me, suddenly added a die-hard fan to his account. I must have spent atleast half a Sunday, researching him on the net, and listening to everything else that he lent his golden voice to.

The song sets your heart soaring as soon as the first beats emerge. The tinkling bells, and Haricharan’s voice rushes into your being like an incoming tide as he sings Ayyayayo … forceful, deliberate, and leaving you gasping. And just as you’re submitting yourself to his force, he’s touching silvery notes, almost whispering into your ears with a yearning “karai sera neeyum kaiyil yendha vaa” and all you can do is melt.

I’ve believed that only A R Rahman could create music that evokes the senses of the elements… until I heard this song. The song is perfectly matched by the visuals in Kumki – the brute force of an elephant, gushing water, the denseness of the forest … and the spirit of love.

nirvana

Song: Ayyayayo Aananathame
Movie: Kumki
Music: D. Imman
Lyrics: Yugabharathi
Singers: Haricharan 

YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB1VSViOaC4

Ayyayayo aananthame, nenjukulle aarambamae

Nooru kodi vaanavil, maarimaari seruthae
Kaadhal podum thooralil, thaegam moozhgi poguthae

Aedho oru aasai vaava katha paesa
Ayyayayo…

Unnai muthalmurai kanda nodiyinil thanikulla vizhunthaen
Andru vizhunthavan innum ezhumbala mella mella karainthaen
Karai sera neeyum kaiyil aenthava, uyir kaathalodu naanum neenthavaa..

Kangalil kandathu paathi, varum karpanai thanthathu meethi
Thoduthae.. Suduthae.. Manathae….
Ayyayayo…

Kangal irupathu unnai rasithida endru solla piranthaen
Kaigal iruppathu thottu anaithida alli kolla thuninthaen
Etharkaaga kaalgal kaelvi kaetkiraen, thunai saernthupoga thaethi paarkiraen..

Netriyil kungumam sooda, ilanenjinil inbamum kooda
Methuva.. Varava.. Tharava….
Ayyayayo…
—–

There are probably no words of mine that can laud the greatness that was these two people – Padmini and Sivaji Ganesan. I still remember the moment I saw this song as a child – I would have been about 7 and I was mesmerised. Not by Padmini (even though she is mesmerising in this song) but by Sivaji Ganesan. Watch from 2.04 to 2.07 minutes of this video and the way he looks at her – yep, this is what did it. (those eyes, oh, those eyes!!!)

It’s hard to recollect another song in cinema that could have captured how two people, surrounded by countless others, could be completely immersed in each other and where the words of the song could have captured the subtle dynamics of their relationship. Padmini is the kind of dancer who could have inspired the countless dancing sculptures on the facade of temples in India. Not petite, her proportions belie the grace and ease of movement that she has and there isn’t much else you can watch when she’s on screen – her craft is best seen in her navarasas (watch from 2.43 to 2.53 in the video).

My favorite portion of the song is not that though. It’s the

Engirundhaalum unnai naanariven, unnai ennaiyallal veru yaar arivaar 
Paavai en patham kaana naanamaa? Undhan paattukku naan aada vendaama?
Maanava, venava, maayava .. Shanmuga!

Watch from 4.20 to 4.25 – the exchange between Mohanmbal (Padmini) and Shanmuga Sundaram (Sivaji Ganesan) – the hide and seek, the play on the name Shanmuga (to the audience, intended to be the name of the God; to him, a hint hat she knows he’s watching) and his reaction – pure thrill.

[I’m trying to find a good translation for this song somewhere – will link once I find it]

dancer

Song: Maraithirundhu paarkum
Movie: Thillana Mohanambal
Music: KV Mahadevan
Lyrics: Kannadasan
Singers: P Susheela

YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPwCtBidy_8

Maraithirundhu paarkum marmam enna… swami
Maraithirundhu paarkum marmam enna
Azagar malai azagaa, indha silai azagaa … Endru
(Maraithirundhe paarkum…)

Navarasamum;
Mugathil, navarasamum malarnthirukkum mugathil navarasamum
Chekka sivanthirukkum ithazil kani rasamum… Kandu
(Maraithirundhe paarkum…)

Engirundhaalum unnai naanariven
Unnai ennaiyallal veru yaar arivaar (2)

Paavai en patham kaana naanamaa? (2)
Undhan paattukku naan aada vendaama? (2)

Maanava, venava, maayava .. Shanmuga!
(Maraithirundhe paarkum…)

Naathathiley thalaivan kuzhal ketten (2)
Andha naanathile ennai naan marandhen (2)
Mohathiley ennai mozgavaithu (2)
Oru orathiley nindru kalvanai pol

Maanava, venava, maayava .. Shanmuga!
(Maraithirundhe paarkum…)

Maan aada malar aada mathi aada nadhi aada, mangai ival nadanam aada
Vaan aada mann aada kodi aada idai aada, vanji ival kaigal aada
Suvaiodu naanaadum enainadi ithuvelai viralvinil thunaiyaaga odi varuvaai
Thooyane maalava maayane velavaa
Enai aalum shanmmuga vaa
(Maraithirundhe paarkum…)

to be continued…

Closure

 reel

Life never really warns you enough for what you have to face. At some point you find yourself stumbling over the most profound questions and you realize that you never knew the answers. You never even knew that you would have to find answers!

And then there are those answers that you seek because they would help you understand. It’s important to know, isn’t it?

But life stuns you by telling you that you can’t have them. No matter what.

So you’re left in the lurch. Puzzled. Confused. Stuck. In a rut. (sounds familiar?)

——

As conscious, rational human beings, we crave a sense of control and order. Life instances have to go in sequence. Incidents must have meaning. There has to be a reason behind action. Everything must “fit”. You know that feeling of having watched a movie where some scenes didn’t just connect or characters didn’t have meaning, and you didn’t like it?

Yep. Life according to many of us, like a good movie, must connect all its loose ends, have a reason behind every scene and every role, and must have a moral.

Not dangling pointers :|. Garbage collection – is a must. (#techiespeak, sorry)

Or as it is popularly known,  Closure.

By definition, closure indicates a need to have information that allows one to conclude an issue. I’d summarize it as that feeling that prevents you from moving on past something. Because you need to understand, you need to clean up, and you have to settle scores. Right?
 
So here’s how it goes: Find yourself in an unpleasant situation. Figure out what went wrong, explain why it was wrong for you, assess what triggered that wrong, examine in sequence from the trigger to the outcome, factor how that affects you, explain your stance, get heard out, listen to the other end(s), conclude on why it happened the way it did, and finally, shake hands. Or say, “we agree to disagree”. Once every piece fits in the jigsaw puzzle – that’s when you know you can move on. You’ve got closure.

The only problem is: life (and people) doesn’t quite give you the chance to close all open doors. Sometimes, doors are just meant to be left open. Not all scores can be settled. Maybe, just maybe… you don’t even know what the score is.

And maybe, you’re the only one wanting closure. The rest of the world has moved on :).

——

There is only one kind of closure: the one you seek from yourself. The one whose limits you define.

Ask yourself, what it is that hasn’t ended for you. Give yourself permission to acknowledge it, and observe it without judgement. See if there is more to your need beyond the need to be right, and to explain and justify. If there is more, see if you can do anything about it (see Minimal Effective Response)

Rewind, or forward through the movie and give yourself permission to watch it till you feel you can stop.
Moving on is not walking out on the movie. Moving on is stopping it, rolling the reel and putting it into the case, carrying it with you, and going to watch other movies.

Moving on is knowing that that particular movie is already part of your life. And knowing that while there is a story there, the moral you seek may not be in there.

Because actually, life does have meaning. Everything does connect. Just that you haven’t seen how it does. Maybe the movie that played out was a different kind of movie altogether and you never knew!

Stop interpreting. Just watch. The show will go on :).

Endurance

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Photo Credit: rebekah.campbell via Compfight cc

A colleague recently told me of how badly his last one year had gone. He summarized it saying “I did so much in the last 12 months, that I can’t even talk about what I did anymore”.

It wasn’t that he didn’t do anything worthwhile – rather, he’d tried his best to save a project that was going haywire, and had stuck on despite adversities of all kinds and amidst colleagues who were quitting because they couldn’t handle the stress. His problem was that whatever he’d done in the last year weren’t his real responsibilities. He’d done whatever came across his table because there were many people who relied on him and he believed he had to plug the leaks in a sinking boat.

As I heard him out, a word crossed my mind: Endurance. And for a few moments, I wondered if I had the mettle to go through what he had, and whether I’d have survived like he did.

So yes, the year had been stressful for him and he’d probably hated each minute of doing what he didn’t want to do but had to. He also probably couldn’t put any concrete learning on his resume because it was difficult to articulate the situation, and a lot of what he did eventually to save it, didn’t gel with the rest of his profile.

Besides, “key expertise in fire-fighting” doesn’t look quite good on an IT resume :|.

But (I think) he could probably discover the benefits of the experience much later, provided he acknowledged it – acknowledged and understood that he had, over the year of immense stress, built his capacity to endure.

Life throws us a lot of opportunities to build aspects of ourselves. I often relate this process to constructing a building. We’re busy constructing the building that is us and while we’re at it, it helps to consciously take time to build in favorable characteristics into our structure – characteristics such as reliability, sturdiness, capability to weather difficult climes and (obviously) a rock-solid foundation.

A while ago, I wrote about the Patience Muscle. Endurance is an organ.

You create it over time through adversities and it becomes part of your body. And once it is in you, you can acknowledge it’s presence and breathe through difficult times.

Because you know you’ve been through worse and you’ve come out through it and you have survived. Because your endurance organ stretches and scales. And because your first baby steps in enduring and developing endurance will eventually help you sprint up the steepest slopes.

We’re all familiar with physical endurance and that physical capacity building develops mental endurance.

However, I also think it is important to look at experiences in life as building your mental and emotional endurance, even if they are just thrown at you and you react badly and flail and see yourself as an utter failure. Infact, I would think it is also important to seek out experiences that build emotional endurance, accept that it’s a work in progress and therefore, never give up or believe that it’s all a waste of time and energy.

You see, the thing with emotional endurance is that it surprises you with its ability to pop out in circumstances that you were not expecting it to make an appearance. It hones your skill in getting back to your feet after suffering a beating – you’re not just lying pulverized on the ground. There’s a certain power that gets attached to your intent, and that forges through your attitude, appearance and words.

Endurance shows. Endurance makes people rely on you. And it makes you rely on yourself.

So build it. And while you are at it, have fun :).

Existential Happiness

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She watched him as he lay sprawled on the couch, his muted snore being the only sound in the room. No judgment, she thought to herself. He’s here, and that’s all there is.

A few minutes later, his sleep-weary eyes opened and carefully averted her. She did them a favor by looking away and pretending to be busy.

“You’re very busy?!”, he called out to her a couple of hours later as she wiped the kitchen counter top for the 5th time. She needn’t have done so, it was already clean. But she was nervous and wanted to keep at something so that she could forget how much she wanted to sit by his side.

She let out a nervous giggle (“ugh. Do you realize how stupid you sound right now?”, the alter-ego admonished) and said “Not really, just finishing up here”. She walked over to the couch, and sat down gingerly a couple of feet away from him, smoothing her skirt as she sat. He was typing away at his laptop, his eyes focused on the screen and didn’t look up.

She watched him, enveloped in a soft halo of golden light that filtered in through the lace-curtains, and breathed in his essence: his masculine energy, his smell, his lazy physique and his easy dominance of the environment.

Tranquil beingness. That was how she would describe him.

She willed the image of him to be imprinted in her mind. For those days when life became too much for her. She would take out that picture of him in her mind then, and let these feelings bloom in her heart.

It wasn’t “love”, was it?

Love implied a right of possession. She didn’t want to possess. She wanted to let him be. Be in his element and be HIM. Because that’s what she marveled at. That’s what caused her to feel what she felt. Gratitude. Yes, that’s what it was.

Almost on cue, he looked up and their eyes met. She felt a ripple of fear inside – she hoped her eyes hadn’t betrayed her. He was saying something, narrating a story and the ripple died out. It was fine. She carefully matched the tone of his voice and it was then, just a conversation between friends. No other implication.

Her alter-ego grinned evilly.

In the after, there was a moment. She picked up the cushion that had been nestling close to him, and caressed her face with it, taking in the scent of his presence that was gone by then.

“Existential happiness”, she told herself. Happiness in that which exists.

* * *

Just if anyone is wondering, yes, this is inspired from real life :). And also this song (not the visuals, just the words and the singing):

TEDxIIMB 2013

tedlogo

Sometimes there are things that you do because you get this wave of inspiration that’s impossible to ignore and the impulse tells your normal discerning process to go to hell.

In the last week of December, I experienced something similar when I saw the notification for TEDxIIMB – “Live The Dream” in FB. Minutes later, I had paid Rs. 1500 for a ticket and it was probably one of the fastest buys I’ve ever done in my life.

As an engineer though, one needs the comfort of hard logic even if one is prone to occasional bursts of spontaneity. And so, the next few minutes, I spent in justifying this as follows: “well, you’ve never been to TEDx and it would be interesting to find out what that is like”, and “it’s in IIMB. Would be lovely to be back in that auditorium and chew on the nostalgia”, and finally “Live the Dream – sounds exactly what I need right now in my life!”.

Then again, I need to ask myself why I needed additional justification. After all, sample the speaker list: R Balki, Boman Irani & Rahul Bose (no introductions needed), Shaheen Mistri (Founder of Akanksha foundation and Teach For India).

Anyways… the event was in a mid-work-week, and I made elaborate plans to ensure I could get out of work on-time. The universe must have been conspiring in my favor, because while I had to skip a sit-down lunch to allow last minute discussions, and opt for a take-away bowl of Upma so that I could get out atleast at 1 pm (leaving just under an hour to navigate the ECity-Bannerghatta route; those who know Bangalore traffic and its perils, will agree how impossible this is), within seconds of standing outside my office gate to catch an autorickshaw, this phenomenal woman driving (what looked to me) a huge swanky car, stopped next to me and asked me if I wanted a lift.

Now I’m not one to take lifts but then if an opportunity (to avoid sweltering heat and haggling with auto-wallas) presents itself along with a fabulous woman who’s a sight for sore eyes, all niggling doubts fly away with the wind. I found myself in her car, happily chatting away and realizing that I would indeed make it in time, while she graciously dropped me at Silk Board after we exchanged numbers, and found to our mutual delight that we shared a sun-sign. After stepping out of the car, in addition to thanking Anjali for being the wonderful human being she is, I looked sky-wards and said “Thank you” :).

After 5 hours later that day, I did it once again.

TEDxIIMB 2013 will be special to me because of the experience of being in a room and watching and listening to 3 gifted and truly amazing people who reinstate faith that the world is indeed a wonderful place to be in.

What makes these people phenomenal is how human they are and yet how humane they are. You hear the stories of their struggles and how life hasn’t exactly handed it over on a plate to them. You hear of their vision and their unwavering belief in what needs to be done, and you see it in their persona – the ability to create miracles and change the lives of other people.

A Muruganantham (The Man Who Wore a Sanitary Napkin)

Muruganantham with his limited vocabulary of self-taught and Indianized English, started his session saying “I will speak in my English” and instantly warmed everyone’s hearts because he had discerned the unspoken question that probably several people had in mind when his turn came up after distinguished speakers on the platform. A few minutes into the session and we discovered a man far beyond the limitations of language – a master at (black) humour. He has honed the delivery of his story to perfection (the video above is of an earlier time and his articulation has improved vastly since), but the story itself moves you to wonder how men like him get made. Three points from his presentation that I hope to never forget:

  • “Finding opportunities” is an age-old adage. “Creating opportunities” is what we need to do today.
  • There are plenty of opportunities in the “Black and White” world – the B&W is his take on the bottom of the pyramid (“colors don’t exist in our world, those exist only in yours”) – exploiting these opportunities does not eat into the business of any mainstream company because of how different the needs are and how oblivious (or uncaring because of the low profit margin possibility) these companies are to that need.
  • Innovation lies in your ability to find problems, not solutions.

At one point in the presentation, he pulled out cash from his pocket and threw it on the ground dramatically, saying “That is where money should be! Don’t chase it. Mahalakshmi (goddess of wealth) will chase you when you don’t want her. Look at sustainability and how you can create, to benefit the lives of as many people as possible”.

Touché.

Shaheen Mistri:

Do you remember what you were doing at 18 years of age? Most likely not. But Shaheen does. Because what she created when she was 18 has today, far-reaching consequences in the field of education of under-priviledged children – the Akanksha Foundation, and later, TeachForIndia.

I’ve often noticed how people who spearhead causes are brilliant orators – not because of their vocabulary or accent but how their words can flow without pauses and pour straight into the hearts of those listening to them. As Shaheen, petite and beautiful, talks on stage, you get glimpses of a woman weathered by pain and suffering, and driven by hope and belief in the power of people. You cannot be the same person you were after you listen and distil the implications of her work.

Shaheen showed us a video of classroom impact: examples of the change that Teach For India fellows – people who’ve left successful careers to pursue for 2 years, a life of being responsible for educating a class of children who negotiate the terrain of being part of the underpriviledged class and eventually learn what it is like to have dreams for the future – are making in India. A child, Anushka, spoke about “choice”. It moved me to tears. Here’s the video: – watch from 2.36 onwards to listen to her.

Boman Irani:

Boman Irani is a star. He’s a star not because of his box-office status but because he shines brightly and lights up every room he walks into. A man with a booming, delectable voice that justifies his booming presence, he walked into the IIMB auditorium and wished everyone he saw on his way, acknowledged each and every member of the audience. At the end of his 20 minute talk (a cruel duration for a man who loves to talk), he bowed to each side of the auditorium as everyone stood up to give him a standing ovation. One word registers in your mind: Performer.

The TEDxIIMB 2013 publicity material noted happily about “Virus returns to college” and Boman started his session with “It’s not very often that I can say I’m returning to a stage that I’m familiar with”. It was clear as we saw him pace / gesture / act animatedly over next 20 minutes, that this was a man in his element – the rest of the world just fades into darkness around him when he’s on stage.

His story of success is a popular one; of a potato-wafer-seller turned photographer turned theatre artist turned film actor, experiencing real success at the age of 40. What inspired me though wasn’t the story or the journey, but what was evident throughout it: a nice, refined human being, and a God who made an example out of making life work for a nice human being, and thereby tells us it IS possible.

After all, if a boy who was raised by women (father expired 6 months before he was born and he makes a joke out of it saying he is always 6 months late for everything in life) and therefore, wet his pants when he heard a male voice for the first time because he had never heard anything like that before, who lisped and therefore wouldn’t open his mouth till the 9th standard, who managed his dad’s potato wafer shop and one fine day decided that “I am a photographer”, whose first trip with family outside of Bombay to Kodai ended up with him looking at a zero-watt light bulb in a dark, dilapidated & seemingly haunted hotel (that he had unwittingly booked as accomodation) and think that “this is me. I’m a big zero”, and who was told he had no talent (for theatre/acting) … can make it in life and be, STILL, a man of honesty and good character and kindness, then isn’t this proof that God exists?

There were again, 3 points that I carry with me after his talk and narrated to two people on phone on that very night (so you can gauge the extent of my inspiration here):

  • Take Control of Your Life: The day he decided that he is a photographer (notice that it’s not “wanted to be a photographer”), he stood on his dining table, spread his arms and declared his intention to take control of his life – and this, he said is imperative to ensure that we kick-start the process of what we want to happen to us. Those of you who have read The Alchemist or even otherwise, believe in the power of the universe to make things happen for you – will understand what this means. For others, well, try it :).
  • Not “Professional”, but “Inspired”: This almost knocked the wind out of my sails with how contrary to normal perception this is. He told us a story of how he had performed for an event held to commemorate a renowned person, much beyond what was expected and even what he expected of himself because he was immensely moved by the person he was performing for. At the end of the performance, he was told that it was very “professional”. As he was telling us the story, he took a pause, and I sensed a moment of angst and didn’t quite understand why because I assumed that the point of him telling the story was to tell us how much he was being commended for what he did. But then he explained how he took exception to being told he was professional, because for him professional meant that a person had done what he was supposed to do – a 9 to 5 job for a specific salary. For him, it was more important to be  “inspired” – because that meant that you did something beyond expectations and nothing – the effort, the time, the money, the outcome – nothing mattered beyond the best you could give and do. After I’ve heard him say this, I can never think of the word “professional” in the same way as I did before, ever again.
  • The Value of Honesty: He narrated a story about how he had taken photographs for a Norway newspaper, of an event that happened in India. It was one of his first events as an official photographer, and he had no idea how much to charge for photos (being an amateur), so he told them (acc. to him, the wisest thing he’s ever done) that he charged at “international rates”. He was expecting (for him, at the time) a princely sum of $300 for 3 pictures and the anticipation & desperation of getting a potential Rs. 12000 led to a heroic effort on his side. Incredibly though, the newspaper paid him $900 dollars instead. Further, they chose to send him $900 dollars, 4 times after that, for reusing his 3 photos (in his words, clearly, someone up there loved him!). But the reason he narrated this was to say how this… THIS act of honesty by persons in a faraway country, who’d never met him face-to-face but chose to reward him and honour their commitment to him even if they could have easily done otherwise … is what he attributes to his unfailing belief in being honest and its value. Several times in the past few months, I have personally wondered whether honesty was just a compulsion (so you’re being honest because you can’t be otherwise) because in the “real” world, it seemed people got along fine without it. Listening to Boman talk about honesty, I felt like someone was asking me to sit up and take notice.

TEDxIIMB had also 5 other wonderful sessions even though I don’t mention them here. Balki, in particular was rousing; his foray in advertising/films was a story about a man who fulfilled his purpose in life i.e. “making films”. He began by saying he didn’t understand the use of the terminology “dream”. Acc. to him, this is just “future reality” that shouldn’t be termed as a dream (which is seemingly unattainable) because we all should want it to come into existence sometime. Clearly, #FTW.

And so, now you know why I said thanks later that day, and more so, why I today tell myself I should listen to my inspiration-voice much more! The event nicely fit into a life-track that I have been pursuing of late and so, it feels like booking the ticket was indeed an inspiration from the heavens. Having gotten the inspiration, sitting on my butt and letting these realizations go to waste, would now be criminal so I’m executing my first change strategy by writing the blog post and “encoding it” for future reference. The next step would be to think deep and plan hard for how to let this change my life.

Afterthought: I realize that it is really easy to sit in your ivory tower and justify that what you’re doing is the best you can do and the most important thing for you to do. The only thing however, that one needs to master while doing this is to handle the slight discomfort that creeps in during those rare moments when the ivory tower fades and you realize you’re suspended in thin air.

Arike

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Just watched the malayalam movie Arike (So Close) by Shyamaprasad.

Now I’ve not been a fan of Shyamaprasad’s previous endeavours. I’ve always felt that while he does have his heart in the right place and knows how to weave in humor in unexpected ways, his movies often skim the surface of what he really wants the viewer to feel – thereby missing the point completely.

Arike however, is good. Languid and unhurried, a summer afternoon movie that let’s you soak in lives that could be just about anywhere in the world, and yet resonate with you. There’s no overt attempt to benefit from the Kerala/Malayalee background (script is based on a bengali short story) and that’s (for me) a huge plus.

There are subtle hints about relationships that are mostly just a scene and a few words: a father whose expectations from his daughter and obsession with fatality narrows down to a man who lives with the fear of having almost lost his raison d’etre: his wife; a guruji who’s compassion towards a beautiful child reflects in his outpouring of joy in her presence – there’s a message there – true spirituality is unconditional love; an indulgent mother who hasn’t been able to make her daughter grow beyond frivolousness perhaps because she is guilty of the same; a boy who feeds on perceived weakness of those around him using them as a channel for his anger at being deprived…

In most movies, not devoting enough time and space to develop the ethos of the characters often makes them seem hollow and unnecessary in the script. In Arike, Shyamaprasad manages to avert the danger smartly, without spending reel and air-time. I would put it to his skill as a director in extracting unspoken words out of the actors and using their body language to the maximum – works beautifully here.

This is not a review btw, and is just my appreciation of the movie, so I won’t belabor on the plot per se. Mamta Mohandas stands tall in her role – strength in softness devoid of feminity. It’s something I didn’t think could be shown on screen, but she does it and how. Muted and yet intense without needing either dialogue or action. There are scenes where she could just merge into the background and yet, the story flows through her. I’ll probably have to watch this movie again to see how that’s done.

There’s Dileep and he proves my belief yet again that he’s an actor who can rise above the crass and comic when he needs to. He’s almost feminine energy in this movie – in movement, words and emotions. The scene where he realizes that the woman he loved chose not to be with him – there’s denial, trauma, a hint of anger, helplessness, and finally a revelation w.r.t what she & her friend meant to him – all in a few minutes. I watched that scene closely because that is something that could easily suffer from a casual treatment and emerge dramatic or worse insensitive – no dialogue can really convey the intensity of the loss if the character was really in love. But here again, the cleverness of the director and the actor scores.

Samvritha: in this movie she’s like little silver bells; pretty, enamored by herself and the state of being in love, and obtuse about everyone else. As a character, there is intentionally nothing that draws you to her – she’s eye candy and that’s it. Maybe there would have been merit in exploring just why she changes her mind at the end, but I don’t grudge Shyamaprasad for his slightly meager treatment of this considering the rest.

Having spoken about everyone else and everything else in the movie, I come to the one reason why I’m writing this post first of all. Vineeth and his cameo. The cameo is crucial only to divulge why Mamta’s character is what she is and even with the first hint of his presence, one could easily guess what follows. But Vineeth bursts through the screen with a presence that is at once magnetic and repelling, and is riveting in the process.

I’m just marveling at how he managed to nail it like this with the brief that he got. Here emerges a man for whom no one else exists in the world but he. And yet, he manages to reach out and make the person next to him feel glorified. You know exactly what he is upto and Mamta’s character, sitting next to him – you know she knows to say no if she wants to, but she doesn’t. His occasional sighs, the shower of abrupt laughter, the inappropriate casualness, breaching personal boundaries without a flicker of worry, and throughout it all, conveying that his lust is the most natural thing in the world. There’s a dialogue that, when loosely translated, is him telling her “I want to make love to you”. It’s said with so much ease that the implication doesn’t even register in the consciousness. Because it just seems right that a man would want to appreciate a woman of beauty and flawlessness with all the love in the world!

Gautham Menon needs to take a page out of Shyamaprasad’s diary on how it’s not enough to have these words in the script for the shock-value but to express it’s real worth :) (remember Vinnaithandi Varuvaya?)

For me, Vineeth is really the pick of the movie. And as a movie that explores with honesty several facets of love and lust, and makes no attempt to be complicated in the process – I really enjoyed Arike.

Kudos, Shyamaprasad!

Happy 2013

It’s a *brand new* New Year, and how I love that feeling of being able to write a new number one fine day :).

For several reasons, 2012 has been a tough year for me, and at the end of it, the most profound realization I carry with me is that nothing in this world can bring me as much happiness as being with and Being ME.

It’s what Kareena says in Jab We Met.

“Main apni Favorite Hoon”

It’s a lovely line, right? :).

Everyone should be their own favorites. And if they aren’t, they should figure out how to get there. And do whatever it takes. After all, YOU’re the only person you spend every moment of your life with!

I’ve spent years on this journey, and it’s not easy. Every day is a new experience. There are new thoughts to distil, new discoveries about myself (not always pleasant :P), and choices to make – not necessarily with enough time to allow you to reflect and choose. And then there are consequences.

As 2012 comes to a close, I realize that there are a few realizations that have helped me make peace with this process and move forward:
~ Negative emotions – fear, anger, sorrow, guilt, regret, helplessness – can make you experience a lesser person than you really are, but can never make you that.
~ Patience is not a virtue, it is a muscle. Exercise it intentionally, and keep it supple. When all fails, patience and the knowledge that time erodes even the biggest mountains – that’s what is going to keep you ticking.
~ Change – yours, and of others – is always voluntary. There is merit in trying to attempt change and being a trigger for change, but… BUT… You need to know when to try, and you need to know when to stop.
~ In the midst of all the evolution and choices and complications of life – it helps to maintain a stock of a few key aspects about yourself that you consider as the Essence of You. Could be anything… something you consider a core value that you live by, or maybe something about yourself that gives you a high… as long as it is what identifies you to you. Every once in a while, take out one of those aspects, have a good long ponder over it, mentally polishing and lovingly going over the feeling of that as you. If it is possible, find new ways to explore the aspect and to engage the energies that it generates inside of you.

I did something such, a few days ago as I was trying out (yet. another. social. networking. platform.) Pinterest. It occurred to me that creating a Board was a fun way to explore and unravel something that I consider an aspect of myself… and what better than a visual reminder?

An aspect of me (that I love) is my ability to evoke a sensual pleasure in everything in the world – touch, feel, sound, taste, see, breathe, and experience. (ahem, I also scored a 93% on the Sensuality test, so there. *cheeky grin*).

As I thought about topics for my board, there was a resonance when I thought “sensuality” and it took me a few hours to put together a board that was my kind – Here it is:

The process of searching for the right images and compiling this was great because it wasn’t just about being the Me that I know about, but about Remembering the me that I am.

The outcome was even better because I realize now that dormant energies that are awakened and directed towards your SELF – it reinforces you from within. And that, my friends, is Power.

So, on that powerful note, let me wish all of you a Wonderful Year of Self-Belief, Contentment, Discoveries and most of all, Happiness from being your own favorite :). Happy New Year!!!

2013