Saturday, October 11, 2008

Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now is Francis Ford Coppola's (of Godfather's fame) epic movie set during Vietnam War. Its not a war movie though. It is a movie between good and evil but unlike most American war movies based during Vietnam war, the good is not always American and evil is not the Vietnamese. In the movie, good and evil both are humans who happen to be Americans. Infact, the movie is more of a metaphor, good and evil exists within all of us and it is our choice, which one we eventually choose. There have been cases where people have been wronged, while some try to right the wrong by taking revenge the others believe in forgiveness. Why we choose what we eventually choose is something that we haven't been able to figure it out, despite the advances in human psychology.

The cinematography of the movie is one of the best. Even though the movie was released in 1979, it doesn't look old. The war scenes along with the shots of rural Vietnam are shot beautifully (ironic, isn't it?...ah the magic of cinema where war seems beautiful too). This was an ugly war though, which showed the ugly side of Americans but the people fighting the war on both sides were humans. The eventual losers were not Americans but humanity itself. We see the loss of humanity throughout the movie, whether it is the scene where the Commanding Officer plays an exhilarating song before assaulting a Vietnamese village almost as an ugly fetish or the boat crew killing a Vietnamese boat crew because of the fear of the unknown (in this case a small puppy).

Martin Sheen is excellent as the Captain on the mission but it is his voice and the life story of Marlon Brando's character that takes the movie to the whole new level. Brando hardly has 10 minutes of screen time but it is his story and fear that drives the movie and Sheen's boat towards the eventual end, which never arrives. The movie was criticized when it was first released because it didn't had any ending but there was an ending for me. Good had once again defeated the evil.

Warning: The movie is not for the faint-hearted.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Secret

I was very close to my Dadajee and according to jealous sources in our family, I was his favorite grandson. My cousins would always tease me that since I was the eldest son in the family, my Dadajee was always biased towards me. I am not sure if it was true or not (although it was never my fault according to him), but I got to know my Dadajee like no other in the family.

My Dadajee's side hailed from Sargoda region of Pakistan and people from that region are known as "khore" (or rough) punjabis. Their Punjabi is not as sweet as from people in Pindi or Lahore, maybe because of the roughness of the region which rubs off its people and their language. He used to write Urdu poems or shayaris and always kept a diary of his shayaris with him. He later joined the British Army and had some of the best time of his life when he was posted at Congo, Africa during the Second World War. Whenever I would get bored, I would ask him to tell me about his adventures in Africa. We would sit in our verandah under the sun and his stories will transport me to the jungles of Congo, no less than a Indiana Jones movie in which my Dadajee was always the Hero.

His last 15 years were one of the toughest after my Dadijee got paralysis. He dedicated the rest of his life to take care of her every need. It was frustrating time for him but in order to take a break from it, he would either work in our kitchen garden or tell me stories from his days during the British Raj. There was also a little secret we shared.

My Dad was posted in Meerut during those days. Meerut is known for its Hindu-Muslim riots, which starts off almost every other week over trivial matters, but it also known for its old city, its markets and its food. Me and Dadajee would go once a week to the old city market and everytime he would buy a big plate of Jalebis for Rs.10 and we both will eat it with relish. We never took any Jalebis back home as this was our little secret (although later I was told that he was on sugar-free diet during those days). We would then goto the Gurudwara and bring some parshad for everyone. Those trips were some of the best time we spend with each other as Dada and his favorite Grandson. He passed away after I moved to Canada but for me he still lives through his memories and stories.

Happy Birthday Dadajee !!

PS: Happy Birthday Dada jee (now that's my other secret)