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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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