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Posts Tagged ‘Equality’

Background

In this series, we have tried to look at some movies through the spiritual lens of 12 personality traits mentioned by The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry in India.

Part 1 had covered the traits of Sincerity and Humility. Part 2 had looked at movies which touch upon such traits as Gratitude, Perseverance, Aspiration and Receptivity. In Part 3, we had checked out some movies which could be held to be representing the following personality traits: Progress, Courage, Goodness and Generosity.

Here is the concluding part, which covers the remaining two traits, namely Equality and Peace.

Thank you for joining me in this exploratory journey!

 

Equality

Here is a rare virtue, seldom practiced, whether at an individual level or in a society. Walls of race, caste, colour, creed, gender and financial well-being keep going up. The notion of ‘I’ takes precedence over that of ‘We’. Deriding ‘the other’ often satisfies our ego more readily. In many parts of the world, even some professions get looked down upon.

 

Boot Polish (1954) brought home the point that one’s self-respect is paramount, that polishing shoes is better than begging and also that work of any kind is dignified.

 

Shree 420 (1955) showed us how Ponzi schemes trick ordinary people into parting with their hard earned money. The stark contrast between the haves and the have-nots of the society formed the backdrop of the movie.

 

 

Meri Surat Teri Ankhen (1963) and Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978) both highlighted the need for giving more importance to inner beauty rather than the external appearance of a person.

 

Rudaali (1993) touched upon the plight of social discrimination, based as it was on the tribe of women of a lower caste who are invited as professional mourners when a person from higher caste passes away.

 

Philadelphia (1993) covered the trials and tribulations of someone who suffers from AIDS and is a homosexual. He is sacked by the legal firm he works for on made-up work-related grounds but fights for his dignity and his rights.

 

Article 15 (2019) is a telling commentary on the perils of the caste system prevalent in the Indian society.

 

Several movies have touched upon the issue of racial prejudices. Schindler’s List (1993) and Munich (2005) are some examples.

When it comes to gender equality, our dream merchants appear to have kept the issue under focus for a long time, much before the #MeToo campaign gained popularity.

In Aandhi (1975), we meet a couple who get reunited after a long time, but decide to keep pursuing their different career paths

 

Arth (1982) and Luck By Chance (2009) had the heroines walking off from a relationship.

 

If Abhimaan (1973) touched upon the balance of power between a couple, Ki and Ka (2016) showcased a role reversal between the husband and the wife.

 

 

Parched (2015) narrated the story of four women breaking through the shackles of rigid practices of patriarchy. Thappad (2020) highlighted the issue of patriarchal attitudes and the lack of gender equality within the ambit of marriage.

 

Peace

Many movies depict the gory details of a war to highlight its futility. Here is but a random sample of the ones which drive home the importance of peace in our lives.

 

Life Is Beautiful (1997) made us feel not only the pangs of separation of a couple but also the blossoming of a special bond between a father and his son when they are held in confinement in a concentration camp. When the war gets over, the son, unaware that his father has met his death, excitedly tells his mother about how he had ‘won’ a tank, just as his father had promised if he played the game between them right.

 

Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002) was a poignant tale of the kind of affection which develops between two strangers in the midst of chaos and uncertainty caused by communal riots.

 

Veer Zara (2004) narrated the travails of star-crossed lovers. The Indian Air Force officer Veer (Shah Rukh Khan) sacrifices his freedom to protect the honour of the Pakistani heroine’s family. The latter, Zara (Priety Zinta), after a failed marriage, decides to support his elderly parents in India. Both get reunited, thanks to the efforts of a lawyer (Rani Mukherji). Not a single bullet gets fired. Nowhere does a prisoner get tortured. Yet, the message of peace between two warring nations gets delivered.

 

Life Is A Miracle (2004) had the backdrop of the Bosnia-Serbia conflict. When the hostilities break out, Luka’s wife goes away and love blossoms between him and Sabaha. His son is conscripted in the army and is then taken a prisoner of war. The dilemma faced by Luka is that of an exchange between Sabaha and his son Milos. Family gets reunited in the end.

 

From Heartless to Heartful

The movies mentioned here were not necessarily made for any spiritual purposes. These appear here simply because a part of theirs touches upon the 12 personality traits under discussion. In fact, some of these – like Saving Private Ryan and Lakshmi – have graphic violence which often creates revulsion and intellectual indigestion. Perhaps these are designed to hasten our progress from practicing heartlessness to heartfulness!

 

Almost all of these have an underlying streak of spirituality. These affirm the positivity of life, hold human beings as sacred rather than expendable, depict the practice (or otherwise) of human values and encourage the audience to ponder over their existence more deeply than they would in the course of their day-to-day routines.

Another common trait of these movies is that these do not promote a sectarian or religious worldview. Rather, the focus is on highlighting what, in essence, our scriptures and spiritual masters tell us.

Movies with a streak of spirituality stand in sharp contrast to the kind of inane ones which win popular appeal by using item songs, soft porn, obscenity, graphic violence, sadism and torture for sport. This virus, to be dreaded more than the current pandemic, has already spread into video games, kids’ cartoons and gaming applications, polluting the minds of the coming generations and promoting a shoot-first-think-later culture.

We also get hooked by the car chase/big explosion flicks like Fast & the Furious series; high-tech gadget movies like the Mission Impossible franchise; nationalistic movies like Independence Day; heist-based movies and web-series like Ocean’s 11 etc, Money Heist and Jamtaara which do not feel shy of using cuss words; and high school sex-obsessed, gross-out films like the American Pie franchise. Thrillers like Sholay, Khaki, Kahaani and Mom also keep us glued to our seats. But so do such movies with socially relevant themes as Gulaab Gang, Padman and Toilet – Ek Prem Katha.

Perhaps there is an emotional disconnect between Mother Earth and its denizens. Perhaps we are bringing up a bunch of bleary eyed kids glued to their screens – oblivious of the joys of human interface; in the process, dehumanizing them.

Rays of Hope

But we can find some solace in the fact that movies with a dash of spirituality do keep turning up. These keep illuminating the world outside and within us, restoring our faith in the basic goodness of Homo sapiens. Even though these may be few and far between, our producers, directors and script writers have a sharp eye for public tastes. The fact that these are getting made is a positive sign in the first place. There is hope.

Moreover, there must be several others which do not boast of popular stars. We would have never heard of the same. All these, in regional and other languages, must be out there, waiting to be discovered by a receptive audience.

Different approaches to spirituality could lead us to yet another set of movies. But the challenge of choosing the right movies on one of the media platforms we subscribe to would always remain. More so in times which are highly uncertain and when the fear of contracting a disease keeps nagging us from within.

To change and enrich our taste of movies – from heartless to heartful, from mindless to mindful, from hopeless to hopeful, from gory to glory and from demonic to angelic – may not be that easy, unless our own mindset changes. When that happens, our craving for a deeper meaning in our movies would get a leg up. Producers and directors would then offer juicier flicks. Once a ‘critical mass’ is achieved, our collective consciousness shall start changing its contours.

This could be our own humble contribution to some desirable changes in the society at large.

(This series of posts is dedicated to Ms Usha Bhatia, my late wife. Inputs from Mr Sanjay Mohan and Ms Gargi Banerjee are gratefully acknowledged)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/08/13/some-movies-with-a-dash-of-spirituality-part-1-of-4

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/08/16/some-movies-with-a-dash-of-spirituality-part-2-of-4

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/08/20/some-movies-with-a-dash-of-spirituality-part-3-of-4)

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Few years back, when Lord Emsworth had been invited to be the Chief Guest at the Indian Republic Day parade, I had been persuaded to accompany him to India. It was good to see the kind of warmth and affection with which my master and I were treated then. I had been lovingly fed and Mr George Cyril Wellbeloved had ensured that I never miss my daily rations designed as per Wolff-Lehmann feeding standards. I was even garlanded and paraded around, after some red powder lines were drawn on my forehead. Wherever I had to make a public appearance, I had been greeted and applauded by those present.

The new secretary of Lord Emsworth, Mr Rupert Psmith, came over to my den today morning and told me that yet another trip was being planned to India pretty soon. As a President of Plumsville, the Lord has been invited over to India, to preside over the annual general meeting of the Wooster Institute of Chivalry, which works towards the goal of preventing sexual violence and other misogynistic challenges being faced by the members of the tribe of the delicately nurtured in India and elsewhere.

He wanted to know if I would be interested in accompanying the Lord’s entourage. This has left me all of a twitter. There are many reasons for my reluctance. Permit me to share these with you.

In Praise of the Cow 

  • Indians, I am told, revere cows. This tribe of quadrupeds rises above the narrow confines of religion, caste and creed, holding aloft some of the basic principles – such as equality, freedom and fraternity – upon which the country’s constitution is based.
  • Cows have individual vocal characteristics and change their pitch depending on their emotions, according to a study done by Alexandra Green and others at the University of Sydney. They know how to keep asserting their individual identity all through their lives. It remains a mystery as to why the legislators in India have not yet thought of including mooing in their list of official languages. I wonder if any cow can comprehend my body language, my unique smelling capacity and even my oinking.
  • While pottering around on congested city roads, they enjoy full liberty.
  • Unlike billionaires from USA or elsewhere, they do not gobble their food greedily. Rather, they chew their daily dose of vitamins leisurely. Thus, the lining of their stomachs is almost always in the pink of health.
  • As long as they are in their productive age bracket, they get tended to very lovingly. Thereafter, their fate is determined by their individual Guardian Angels.

Given this scenario, I am certain that my popping up in the country in its present mood, when some constitutional and democratic matters are getting hotly debated, might be taken amiss. The cows themselves may look askance at someone from my tribe being shown the kind of attention and care I would attract. Sure enough, even some of the cow-protection groups might be offended by my sheer presence. Had it been China, I could have been more positive, since the Year of the Pig is yet to get over there.

Security Concerns

  • I learn that some protests are going on there. If these turn violent, visitors face an inherent risk to their lives and limbs. Next time Mr Psmith passes by, I shall check if the Lord’s entourage could secure protection by the Scotland Yard while visiting India.
  • In case my stress levels go up owing to this trip, my daily ration of 57,800 calories might get compromised.

A Drive Against Size Zero

  • World over, females of all kinds inwardly aspire to attain what is euphemistically alluded to as Size Zero. India, I am sure, is no exception. However, I am grounded in reality and have no such ambitions. Those who keep a track of my dietary habits already know that I am a hearty and boisterous feeder. Many of them are well aware that I live to feed. I prefer to drink deep from the fountain called Life. I do not care if I look like a balloon with two ears and a tail.
  • I daresay that I am a role model for all those who wish to live a blissful life without bothering about their Size Infinity looks. This is the one reason I would feel happy about visiting India or any other country.

The Noise

  • One thing I did not relish on my last visit was the crowded and noisy streets of New Delhi where everyone appeared to believe that honking a horn was a fundamental right conferred on the denizens by the country’s Constitution. Any restrictions on the same were treated with much contempt, as if their right to free speech was getting denied. I was elated at having been transported back to my own den, enjoying the bliss of solitude and regaining my sang froid, so to say.

I am surely on the horns of a dilemma. I am inclined to think that some tact would be needed to convey my concerns effectively. If so, satisfactory results may ensue, leaving me in peace to enjoy my life in my own sty. I am hopeful that Lord Emsworth would not like the prospect of my getting upset about anything, thereby running the risk of my losing out on a medal at the upcoming Shropshire Agricultural Show and instead being relegated to the mean obscurity of an ‘Honourably Mentioned.’

Flowers would then be in full bloom, birds would be twittering and trees would be swaying in a gentle breeze. In other words, God would be in heaven.

What would you advise?

 

(Illustration courtesy www)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/01/17/lord-emsworth-gets-invited-to-the-republic-day-celebrations-in-india)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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