Archive for October, 2009

material things

Warning: Long Post, and no humour.

This actually started out as a comment on QI’s post as a reply to Ketan’s comment. Especially, this part of the comment: “…How years of repression and poverty, makes any average person lust for power and money. How we as peoples have been attaching too much importance to perceived superiority. How we all bow down before authority with utmost respect without pausing even once to think if that respect is even deserved! We are slaves to ‘image’ as against any real substance. This creates in everyone, a desire to subjugate others, exploit them, and ‘feel’ superior to them…”

I’ve thought about stuff like this a lot of times. About what is the use of complaining and not doing anything about it; About what can we possible do; About how will an average Indian change? Just, why have we started proving Darwin’s theory of ‘Survival of the fittest’ so right? Ketan’s posts have helped me in making my thoughts more coherent so if you find this rant a little too crazy, you know who to blame.

Though it might just be just another crazy tangent but I think, the most important thing that we could do to make a lot of difference is to raise children with morals. I’ve seen children grow up in the neighbourhood in India with absolutely no idea about morals or about empathy, and I don’t get it. I don’t understand why all our education or rather schooling does is to teach us how to be successful. (Though there could be further debate on whether the schooling does even that, but let’s not digress.)  I don’t understand why the parents and teachers don’t dedicate some time to teach children that life is not about having ‘things’ or life isn’t only about scoring high marks or being successful in life.

Life is about being good – being good to your classmates, being good to your neighbours, being respectful to every human being including the maid in your house, the janitor who cleans your bathrooms and even the dumb guy in your team who doesn’t know how to hold a bat.

All parents teach kids is study well or else you’ll fail and then you’ll become like this good for nothing uncle of yours sitting at the pan shop whole day. Study well and then you’ll get a good job with a fat salary and then you can buy expensive cars.  Be brave, if someone hits you, don’t come back crying.

If kids make fun of another kid, they feel nothing. Kids just want to hop on their elder sister’s Scooty and zoom away to show off their friends as soon as they can grow up. They want to have the new shoe that has just been launched and the newest video game on the stores. Why?

Coz. they’ve seen their parents doing this all their life; slowly working their way from a small house to a big bungalow, from a scooter to a car. No, there is nothing wrong in improving your standard of living but just for once, consider the cost of uninhibited capitalistic greed on the society. I don’t have a problem with big and expensive cars but I’ve a problem with the feeling that there’s nothing more in life than being successful and success is only measured by the money you make, the car you drive and the brands you wear; That children go to school only to get a career and be even richer than their parents; That life is fun only when you own the latest Xbox or PS2 and the kid who has it all is the most luckiest kid in the class. And Parents take pride in fulfilling every wish of their child – “My son should have everything that I didn’t have when I was a kid.” Just stop and think – What kind of generation are we bringing up?

The standard of living of an average Indian has multiplied a number of times compared to when I was a kid. Majority of all the students in my class today are richer and more well off than when we were in school. And that can be said to be a sign of success of each one of them as well as the progress of the country. But with this success comes the sense of superiority. The feeling that “I’ve arrived and have done so on my own” but where is the sense of social responsibility, the sense of giving back to society? What would a parent then pass on to his/her kids? Obviously, the most important bit of their life that is – How to be successful? But who will teach their kids that it’s ok if you don’t have a lot of money? It is not the end of the world if you can’t buy a car. Why does this success bring in a superiority complex in front of those class mates who may not be as successful? Maybe because they were not good at maths or English or accounts or maybe because they did not get the opportunity as their parents could not afford to send them to college.

I guess we are just numb – numb with greed and numb of others suffering because we hardly can fulfil our own needs. We want so much – so much is available – is out there that we can see on TV but still can’t possess or own. “I just have to buy a Bentley before I retire, I just have to go for an international vacation once every year, I love the caffee latte at Starbucks.”

Every human organism in the society right from the lowest levels to the richest man in the country wants more. We slog for as many hours as possible in a day to be successful and those who slog it out are respected as hard workers and highly successful Industrialists. But why has life only become about earning and then spending whatever you earn? Have you seen one person (and that is including me and you) who thinks he has enough money and he doesn’t need any more to buy the next desirable object on his list? The sole purpose of life has become to buy, consume and buy more and nobody really does anything except for the want of money in return so that he can buy more things.

Take for instance doctors – Why does a kid grow up to be a doctor these days? Is it to contribute to the health and well being of society? Is it really to relieve the pain and suffering of a fellow human?

Take teachers – Who today has is really interested in becoming a teacher? Who thinks that I want to teach kids and make a difference in their lives? But everybody is though interested in opening tuition / coaching classes – Why?

Every lucrative profession becomes a hit with kids passing out of their boards, first it was Doctors and Engineers, then it was MBAs, later it became CA. It doesn’t matter what you like doing coz. at the end of the day, with hard work you’ll succeed. This is what our teachers and parents tell us. And with success we mean only and only the monetary kind.

Capitalism may have been a great tool to unite the world, make it a smaller place, but if we do not maintain a balance in our lives and continue to spoil ourselves silly with things, we then cannot be blaming the state of the country or our politicians. After all, at the end of the day, it is only about having more money. If we do not give our kids a set of morals and values, they’ll be blown away with the desire to have more and more and still want more.

I guess, if we are to see a positive change in society, we have to start looking at the future generation. We have to start telling them that all those advertisements on TV are just advertisements. They don’t mean the world. We have to teach them that it is ok if you are not among the top 5 in class. Daddy doesn’t really crave for that new car, a new t-shirt is not important and NO – YOU WILL NOT HAVE THAT LATEST PLAY STATION JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE ELSE HAS IT AND YOU LIKE IT.


Read Full Post »

Fresh, inspiring and awfully sweet, debutant director Ayaan Mukherji’s ‘Wake Up Sid’ is sheer genius. Inspite of a simple and predictable story, ‘Wake Up Sid’ manages to feel bright and make you smile a lot. It’s so sweet, it almost hurts.

The story is quite obvious even from the titles and the promos. Sid Mehra (Ranbir) has just finished college and is completely aimless. On the very same day, he has a chance encounter with Aisha Banerjee (Konkona Sen Sharma) who is the exact opposite of what he is. The movie is basically about Sid’s journey from the day he’s out of college to the day he’s finally found his calling. The magic is however in the small moments of his learning; in his failures and his initial denial and later in his acceptance; in his realization of love and the direction of life. Each such moment has been scripted brilliantly and the performances are just right. Neither too loud, nor too subtle, Ayaan Mukherji has managed to brilliantly balance realism with story-telling. For instance, when Sid goes to meet his mom, he doesn’t give her a hug, and that was very like him. At another place, just the expressions on a mom’s face while playing with her son for a picture perfect moment do the talking. No dialogues are said, there isn’t a heavy background score. Just a few light guitar strings and her expressions make the audience feel exactly what Sid is feeling.

Another thing I loved about the movie was that though Sid grows up in the movie, he still remains a kid at heart. He doesn’t grow up beyond his capabilities and become a hero. He just conquers his demons and for him, that’s enough growing up. And again as I said, the magic is in the nuances. At one stage, he looks at Konkona and winks. That one second scene, that subtle mannerism of his, is another step in his personal journey.

Ranbir finally seems to have dug out his dad’s innocence and his mom’s good looks from his gene pool; not to mention the acting talent. Sid Mehra’s boyish and vulnerable charm is very likeable and (I know I’m repeating this but there is no other way to describe it) awfully sweet. Konkona Sen is, as always, a class act. She plays her part to perfection. But this is Ranbir’s movie all along. He alone, is the 10 reasons to watch ‘Wake Up Sid’. And then you’ve got Konkona, and the music.

The music is another super score by Shankar Ehsaan Loy. This trio has somehow sensed the change in music tastes or maybe they are being the change themselves. Right from Taare Zameen Par to Rock On and now to Wake Up Sid, their music is starting to change the feel of movies. What was Pianos in the 1970s was replaced by Violins and Keyboards during the 90s (remember Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayi by Anu Malik) and now their music has primarily guitar strings. That is one reason why their music sounds so fresh and new.

If you’re still wondering, I’d say ‘Wake Up Sid’ is definitely a must watch. Yes, the story is predictable and we could’ve done with a little more witty humor considering it features college kids but the magic of the movie is in its feel. It comes across as nice, honest and extremely endearing, just like its protagonist Sid, and you don’t even have to switch off your brains to enjoy it.

Read Full Post »