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Posts Tagged ‘Khamoshi’

Summary

These days, as a pandemic stalks us, people are hooked to movies of all kinds, even while supposedly working from home. The cumulative effect of using high-definition gadgets, lockdown ennui, death tolls and binge-watching movies is that of a higher level of stress. The lack of freedom to venture out on long drives further compounds the problem. 

To avoid landing up in a loony bin, we could cut off our daily diet of depressing news. We could ensure interacting only with those who radiate positive vibes. We could also think of consciously changing our movie-watching palette so as to start appreciating flicks which have a deeper layer in their themes.

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

Introduction

When the upright good guy defeats the morally deficient bad guy, we cheer. Think of the James Bond franchise, courtesy Hollywood.

When a movie ends on a positive note, we applaud. Imagine any movie from Bollywood where the hero and the heroine finally walk into the sunset on a sandy beach, with a romantic song playing in the background. The unstated assumption is that the couple lived happily ever after.

When the outcome is negative but the movie is well crafted, we may sulk but still carry a favourable impression of it. Go back to either Titanic or Mughal-e-Azam. Both were tragedies but mounted lavishly, with excellence in almost all the departments of film making.

But once in a while comes along a movie which touches us somewhere deep inside. The script may carry a key message. Or, it may showcase certain values which we cherish ourselves, thereby creating a deep resonance within. We experience love. We feel hopeful and uplifted in a somewhat deeper manner. The soul gets awakened.

If we were to muse upon the theme much afterwards, we could say that such movies had been conceptualized with a dash of spirituality. These are movies which inspire us to live through and face difficult situations in our lives. We could think of classifying these in the genre of what we could refer to as Conscious (or Soulful) Entertainment.

Of a Spiritual Streak

Think of such movies as Shawshank Redemption, Avatar, Contact, Gladiator, Schindler’s List, The Sound of Music, Lagaan, Jagte Raho, Swades, Guide, Abhimaan, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, Veer Zara and many others of a similar ilk. What do all these have in common? Yes, most of these are big hits. Yes, they have A category stars. Yes, all are well made. But these are not their most important features.

When we go back to the first time we watched one of these, most of us would recall having felt uplifted and hopeful. We would have felt compassion and love for the entire humanity. Our hearts would have felt much enlarged. Much like the short sequence from Mera Naam Joker where the hero’s heart goes on expanding and no one has a clue as to how to solve the problem!

We would have felt like living much longer, drinking deep from the rivulets of unalloyed joy that life offers. These films are but a few in the genre of ‘Conscious’ or ‘Soulful’ films which have the potential to change lives, inspire choices, and elevate human consciousness.

One of the spiritual lenses available to us to view such movies has been offered to us by The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry in India. She has mentioned the following twelve traits which are essential for the spiritual progress of an aspirant:

Sincerity, Humility, Gratitude, Perseverance, Aspiration, Receptivity, Progress, Courage, Goodness, Generosity, Equality and Peace.

Some movies which touch upon Mother’s 12 traits

 

Sincerity

The sincerity with which an individual takes up a challenging task and executes it well, even while risking his or her own welfare,  generates a swell of positive emotions within the viewer and sets an example of achieving perfection in the discharge of one’s professional duties.

Do Aankhen Baarah Haath (1957) which captured the valiant efforts of a jail warden Adinath (V Shantaram) to rehabilitate six dangerous prisoners released on parole to persons of virtue in an open jail experiment. Besides demonstrating how concentration, perseverance and hard work can make one realize one’s goals in life, the movie also drives home the point that if people focus their energy on a worthy cause in a sincere manner, success is easy to come by.

Maria (Julie Andrews) who is a free-spirited person lacking in self-discipline and self-confidence assumes the role of a governess for the seven children of Captain Georg von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) and ends up winning the hearts of the entire family in The Sound of Music (1965).

In Khamoshi (1970), we meet nurse Radha (Waheeda Rehman) who loses her own mental balance by being so sincere in discharging her duties as a professional as to neglect her own emotions of love towards two of her successive patients, Dev Kumar (Dharmendra) and Arun Choudury (Rajesh Khanna). A key lesson underlying the storyline is that of cultivating a sense of detachment in one’s profession, as highlighted in the Bhagavad Gita as well.

Think of Debaraj Sahai (Amitabh Bachchan) mentoring Michelle (Rani Mukherji) in Black (2005). The movie was inspired by The Miracle Worker (1962).

Humility

Here is a quality which covers such personality traits as purity, charity and obedience.

Gladiator (2000) captures the saga of General Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russel Crowe) who is devoted to Emperor Marcus Aurelius and works throughout his life to keep the Roman Empire safe. When offered the throne, he declines the offer, preferring instead to return to his village. Before he dies, he asks for political reforms, for his gladiator allies to be freed, and for Senator Gracchus to be reinstated. Maximus’s friends and allies honor him as “a soldier of Rome”. His character represents not only the purity of his intentions and loyalty to the empire, but also humility.

When denizens of planet Earth soar into space, they have this humbling experience of realizing how infinitesimal Homo sapiens happen to be in the overall scheme of a vast universe. We may be rooted in our prejudices and may be overly busy, what with our ego-skirmishes with others over petty matters and a relentless chase of the materialistic goals in our lives; yet, we are merely a fraction of a speck in the divine arrangement.

Watching movies like Apollo 13 (1995), Gravity (2013), and many others leaves us humbled in more ways than one.  

(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 Post:

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

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/08/24/some-movies-with-a-dash-of-spirituality-part-4-of-4)

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In a majority of movies churned out by Bollywood, doctors and nurses have only been on the fringes of the narrative. But there are some which have highlighted the professional trials and tribulations faced by our healers. Few have even commented upon the complex challenges of poverty, malnutrition and scarce resources faced by doctors and nurses in a developing country like India.

Keeping in tune with the times, the depiction has also undergone a major transformation. As our society has become more self-centered, so has the general character of the doctors and nurses shown in the Bollywood flicks. The self-sacrificing doctors of yesteryears have slowly but steadily given way to glamorous ones playing second fiddle to a mostly romantic script at hand.

Risking Their Own Lives

In the pre-independence era prior to 1947, we had self-sacrificing doctors who rendered their services in alien lands, serving the Poster Dr_Kotnis_ki_Amar_Kahanipeople affected by war and plague. Old timers may remember Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946, V. Shantaram, ‘The Immortal Saga of Dr. Kotnis’) which was based on the true life-story of Dr. Dwarakanath Kotnis who was sent to China during World War II. Dr. Kotnis helps the people of China during the Japanese invasion. Rendering a selfless service, he marries and settles down there itself but eventually dies of plague.

Post-independence, we had Dil Ek Mandir (1963, C. V. Sridhar, ‘Heart is a Temple’), where the doctor performs a successful surgery but ends up collapsing due to the tireless effort he puts in preparing for the same. Aman (1967, Mohan Kumar, ‘Peace’) was inspired by the story of Dr. Kotnis. The hero gets inspired to serve humanity after meeting Sir Bertrand Russell and goes to Japan to serve the victims of nuclear holocaust.

In Selfless Service  

In movies like Anuradha (1960, Hrishikesh Mukherjee) and Khushboo (1975, Gulazar, ‘The Fragrance’), the heroes are doctors Poster Khamoshiwho decide to serve poor villagers in the interiors of India. Risking their own health and welfare, they keep busy with their work and neglect their family and personal lives. In Anuradha, the wife eventually ends up sacrificing her urbane musical ambitions to support the husband. In Khushboo, the wife does so but not before she has questioned his lack of initiative in inviting her to live with him. Both movies had finely chiseled performances by the lead actors – Balraj Sahni, Leela Naidu, Jeetendra and Hema Malini.

Khamoshi (1969, Asit Sen, ‘Silence’) had the inimitable Waheeda Rehman playing a nurse in a mental asylum. She falls in love with a patient who gets well and moves out without reciprocating her sentiments. Impressed by her success, the doctor-in-charge entrusts yet another patient to her care. She falls in love with him as well but loses her own mental balance when he is cured. The moral of the story: a medical professional should not get personally involved with a patient. Easier said than done!

Battling the Big C

In the 1970s, Bollywood came out with several movies which had a medical problem as the cornerstone. In quite a few movies, cancer took over from TB as the real villain. Most of these movies tugged at our heartstrings. One, there was the inevitability of death. Two, the sheer helplessness of a doctor made the narration even more poignant. Audiences loved them nevertheless and often came out of theatres with drenched handkerchiefs.

Safar (1970, Asit Sen, ‘The Journey’) had a doctor facing the charge of intentionally killing someone dear to her. The story was Poster Anandessentially a love triangle. The underlying theme was that of jealousy of the doctor’s husband, guilt of the doctor wife and reconciliation with the fact of impending death by the wife’s close friend who is afflicted with cancer.

Anand (1971, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, ‘Bliss’) was a landmark film which touched upon several facets of a doctor’s life. Indian health care system’s discrimination between the haves and the have-nots of the society was one of the facets. Yet another was the transformation of an atheist doctor into someone who starts  believing in the power of prayer to heal. The need to have a positive attitude towards life, howsoever short it may be, was the basic message of the movie.

Commercial and Legal Dilemmas

Tere Mere Sapne (1971, Vijay Anand, ‘Your Dreams, My Dreams’) narrated the story of a doctor who migrates to a city after Poster Tere Mere Sapnehaving suffered professional as well as personal setbacks in a rural setting. His transformation into a money spinning professional in an urban environment is well captured. Eventually, he migrates back to the village and regains his sense of good values and ethical practices in healthcare.

Achanak (1973, Gulzar, ‘All of a sudden’) posed an interesting dilemma faced by a doctor at times. Does it make sense for a doctor to strive hard to save the life of a convict who is to be sent to the gallows? The movie answers this question in the affirmative.

The Fringe Benefits of Healthcare

In Silsila, we had a hapless doctor (Sanjeev Kumar) trying to figure out how to handle the post-marital affair of his wife (Rekha). In Satte Pe Satta, we had the heroine (Hema Malini) playing a gutsy nurse, though only in the first few reels.  Salman Khan in Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya, Abhishek Bacchhan in Dostana, Kareena Kapoor in 3 Idiots, Vidya Balan in Pa and Aishwarya Rai in Guzaarish were all glitzy characters playing to the gallery, with their medical talents appearing only on the fringes of the main narrative.  

Healthcare with Bear Hugs

Munna Bhai MBBS (2003, Rajkumar Hirani) was a hilarious take on the medical profession. It touched upon the mixed up Poster-Munna_Bhai_M.B.B.S.priorities in hospitals where patients lack a personal healing touch and where procedures take precedence over urgent medical issues. Quite a few of our aspiring and practicing doctors would have drawn inspiration from the movie to improve the healthcare system by according better priority to compassion, empathy and liveliness in treating patients!

Summer 2007 (2008, Suhail Tatari) raised the issue of lack of awareness amongst medicos about the social ills and absence of any healthcare delivery service in India’s rural areas. Greedy moneylenders and power-hungry politicians rule the roost. A group of medical interns attempts to cope with the daunting challenges facing villagers.

Waiting for Medical Blockbusters!

The wide variety of healthcare related issues touched upon in these movies is commendable. However, one still waits for an in-depth poster comatreatment of the field of medicine at the hands of Bollywood. There is immense scope for medical thrillers based on patent rights of gene based therapies, moral dilemmas raised by the new frontiers of medicine, whistle blowers exposing corrupt practices in the pharmaceutical industry, shortages of critical vaccines and contemporary challenges on providing universal healthcare services in India.

In the last decade, Bollywood has demonstrated its capacity to make shorter movies based on innovative themes. Hopefully, the field of medicine would also get better attention with script-writers and directors coming out with a Coma, a Strong Medicine, a Virus and, possibly, even an Erin Brockovich in not too distant a future!

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