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Posts Tagged ‘Guide’

Background

In this series, we consider some more 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 cover the following personality traits: Progress, Courage, Goodness and Generosity.

Progress

This could be of several kinds – material, spiritual and social. Most of us keep chasing materialistic goals in our lives. Some who feel a nagging emptiness within despite outstanding success on the material plane get awakened to the possibility of a spiritual growth. Few others try and work on such social ills as corruption and hygiene.

Guide (1965) showed us the transformation of an ambitious Raju (Dev Anand) from being an ordinary tourist guide to a successful businessman, thanks to a talented dancer Rosie (Waheeda Rehman). What followed was a web of commerce and misuse of funds, leading to a jail term for Raju. Eventually, upon nearing death, he experiences an awakening of the soul.

 

Invictus (2009) captures the manner in which Nelson Mandela endeavours to overcome racial prejudices not only in his team of personal assistants but also in his country, using the unlikely sport of rugby to make progress. The movie sets an inspiring example of achieving social harmony by dismantling apartheid through a spot of out-of-box thinking.

When it comes to progress on the social front, several movies have touched upon the issues of corruption, regressive attitudes and sexual exploitation.

 

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983) and Well Done Abba (2009) addressed the issue of corruption with dollops of humour.

 

 

Toilet – Ek Prem Katha (2017) and Padman (2018) championed the cause of hygiene.

 

 

Gulaab Gang (2014) spoke of various ills plaguing the Indian society.

 

 

Mardaani (2014) and Lakshmi (2014) were both hard-hitting but highlighted the challenges one faces while battling human trafficking and child prostitution.

Movies which focus on social attitudes are often preachy and negative. But these serve a useful purpose by telling us where we are going wrong, thereby hampering our own progress.

Courage

The hero who shows courage by bashing up a bunch of goons to save the honour of his beloved on the silver screen gets lauded enthusiastically by a cheering audience. But here we shall touch upon the courage which manifests in many other ways, mostly utilized to achieve a higher goal in life.

Pyaasa (1957) depicted the courage of a poet Vijay (Guru Dutt) to denounce a corrupt and materialistic world. Unable to tolerate the hypocrisy in the society, he decides to start a new life with Gulabo (Waheeda Rehman), the woman in his life.

 

Lakshya (2004) takes us on an inner journey of a happy go lucky but aimless Karan Shergill (Hrithik Roshan) who joins the army during the Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan. Death of a close friend leads him to discover his aim – that of capturing Point 5179, a strategic mountain peak on the border by ascending a 1000 feet high rocky vertical cliff.

 

A Wednesday (2008) shows the extent to which a common man (Naseeruddin Shah) can go to meticulously avenge all the terrorist attacks some people had helped carry out in Mumbai and other major cities of India, specifically the 2006 Mumbai train bombings.

 

Life of Pi (2012) shows the kind of courage it takes to survive and do well in life. The search for an identity becomes a voyage extraordinaire. The movie has a touch of sentimental spirituality.  Pi survives his great adventure of crossing an ocean in the company of an adult Bengal tiger!

 

Neerja (2016) is a tribute to Neerja Bhanot (played by Sonam Kapoor) who laid down her life while protecting passengers on a hijacked Pan Am flight 73. The film ends with a tribute to Neerja, who was eventually honoured posthumously with the Ashoka Chakra, India’s highest military decoration awarded for peacetime valor, courageous action or self-sacrifice.

Goodness

When we overcome our greed and our prejudices, and when we learn to radiate love and display concern and empathy, we practice goodness.

Parakh (1960) was about an award from an anonymous donor of Rupees 5,00,000 to any resident of a particular village who will use it for the benefit of the entire village. Villagers decide to use democratic methods and favour an election where the winner gets the money. Each candidate tries to woo the villagers by being sympathetic and by becoming a cheerful giver to all by offering various sops. Goodness, however superficial, prevails. Eventually, the decision comes from the benefactor who lives in the village in disguise. At a deeper level, the movie highlighted the limitations of the concept of democracy.

 

Satyakam (1969) introduced us to Satyapriya (Dharmendra) who tries to live a truthful, honest and good life. Even in great adversity he doesn’t let go of his ideals. A fatal illness leads to his death and the grandfather (Ashok Kumar) who had sworn him to a path of righteousness realizes that even though he has spent his whole life studying religious scriptures and philosophical books as well as practising many rituals, he still had much to learn about the nature of truth. He overcomes his moral prejudices and vows to take care of his daughter-in-law (Sharmila Tagore) and the grand kid.

 

Raincoat (2004), based on O. Henry’s short story ‘The Gift of the Magi’, brings together two ex-lovers Mannu (Ajay Devgun) and Neeru (Aishwarya Rai). The former is unemployed and has limited means. The latter is now a housewife leading a frugal life. Each boasts to the other about their successful life but realize the hollowness of the other’s claims. Mannu ends up paying Neeru’s overdue rent for many months whereas she slips in two of her gold bangles into the pocket of a raincoat he has borrowed from her.

 

Patch Adams (1998) was all about the importance of laughter, empathy and concern for patients who are often treated in a soulless and mechanical manner in the medical world. The hero’s conviction of his own approach never waivers, except when his companion dies in unfortunate circumstances. But he soon recovers and reverts to his practice of goodness, dedicating his work to her memory.

Generosity

Many of us have occasionally had a helping hand from someone who went out of the way to offer support when it was badly needed. Those who are kind, empathic and compassionate could be said to be of a generous disposition. Somehow, life always gifts them with generous bonuses – whether financial or in terms of a cult status.

 

Schindler’s List (1993) portrayed the efforts of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist, who saves the lives of more than a thousand Polish-Jewish people from the Holocaust. When World War II is declared to be over, the workers give Schindler a signed statement attesting to his role in saving Jewish lives and present him with a ring engraved with a Talmudic quotation: “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” Schindler is touched but also ashamed, as he feels he should have done even more. In a scene which is deeply touching, he breaks down sobbing, and is comforted by the workers.

 

 

Erin Brockovich (2000) was all about a legal clerk motivating a group of sufferers to stand up against a large company and get suitable compensation awarded by a court of law. Her identification with the cause and her perseverance – both are worth emulating. She does not expect any personal benefit in return, though she does get suitably rewarded for her services at the end of the movie.

The generosity showcased in these movies is neither feigned nor artificial. Both are based on actual incidents, restoring our faith in the innate goodness in people.

(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/2020/08/24/some-movies-with-a-dash-of-spirituality-part-4-of-4)

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What is it that makes us label a movie as a classic? A unique blend of enchanting visuals, a rich story line, fine acting, lilting music and captivating lyrics are some of the features a successful movie invariably has. However, to be considered a classic, it would also have a multi-layered narrative with a social message which connects with us at a deeper level. Its theme would have an underlying timelessness, often brought in by the values it espouses.

Values which happen to be eternal in nature. Family values. Faint stirrings within a society to transform itself. The need for a soul to be free and joyous. The assertion of independence which demolishes societal norms of the time. The harmony in working towards a jointly shared goal or ambition. A meteoric rise in terms of materialistic goals. The frustration of having hit a plateau of sorts. The complex interplay of human emotions. The gradual transformation of relationships. The downfall arising out of human greed. The introspection. The burden of guilt. The beginning of a spiritual awakening. The search for a utopia. The redemption.

Here are some movies released fifty years back which remain as fresh as ever in one’s mind.

GUIDE

Released in 1965, this movie, directed by Vijay Anand, was based on a novel of R. K. Narayan, The Guide. The U. S. version of the movie was written by Pearl S. Buck.

The heroine, Rosie, walks out of a loveless marriage, so as to be able to pursue her passion of dance. The hero, Raju, helps her in achieving stardom. The song ‘Tere mere sapne’, though four minutes long, had merely three shots, each helping the heroine to gradually overcome her hesitation to accept the offer of reassurance and love from the hero.

The movie had great dance performances by the inimitable Waheeda Rehman. Other than the snake dance, we got treated to the six-part extravaganza – ‘Piya to se naina laage re’.

With success comes the fading away of love, which gradually gives way to self-interest. The transformation of tender love depicted in ‘Tere mere sapne’ gets eventually replaced by an emotional chasm between the main protagonists, so delectably captured in the song ‘Din dhal jaaye’.

The movie had a female lead character who was ahead of her times. The climax was rooted in superstition, though. The hero attained a spiritual enlightenment of sorts.

The charm of this landmark movie remains undiminished even after fifty years of its release, proving the immense possibilities of artistic collaboration.

The Sound of Music

Based on the memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp, the film is about a young Austrian woman studying to become a nun in Salzburg in 1938 who is sent to the villa of a retired naval officer and widower to assume charge as a governess to his seven children. She brings love, spontaneity and music into the lives of the family through kindness and patience.

The manner in which mutual respect and affection grows between the naval officer and the governess is delicately captured in this tender piece.

The governess ends up marrying the officer. Together with the children they find a way to survive the loss of their homeland through courage and faith.

The musical scores stand out for their richness and the way in which they advance the plot of the movie. The heroine, though plagued by self-doubt, shows ample pluck and resource to win over a bunch of defiant children and their disciplinarian father. Characters of all the kids are well etched out and enamour us no end. Underlying the whole narrative is the value of family togetherness, delicate love interwoven with the need for discipline, and the loyalty towards each other.

Even after fifty long years, the movie does not fail to cast a spell. Watch any portion of fifteen minutes and one would come back refreshed and invigorated.

Chemmeen

Even though one is not familiar with Malayalam language, one has heard a great deal about this movie. Released on August 19, 1965, it acquired a cult status in the minds of movie buffs.

The success of this movie is said to be due to its heady combination of social-realistic melodrama, bolstered by high production values. It had creative inputs from some of the most talented persons from the Indian movie industry at that time – music by Salil Chowdhury, editing by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, cinematography by Marcus Bartley and lyrics by Vayalar Rama Varma.

The tale of Pareekutty and Karuthamma is a tragic romance. It makes one cry. It gives one a feel as if one lives close to the sea-coast, listening to the incessant roar of the waves, rising to the cries of fishermen and joining their yells of glee when their catch is a bumper one.

At a deeper level, in a muted manner, the movie argues for social transformation. It portrays the problems that arise when an Araya girl falls in love with a Muslim trader. This is a chasm that most of us are still grappling with.

This New Year eve, one would be tempted to curl up in bed to soak in the delectable cinematic brilliance on offer in any one of these movies. As the New Year rings in, we could be joining the Von Trapp family in its trek across the Alps, looking ahead to the future with hope, faith and goodwill!

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