Saturday, December 27, 2008

Joy of celebrating movies...

I was an year old when my mother started taking me to an open-air theater in our army cantonment to watch movies. I obviously don't remember most of the movies during those times but she would later tell me that unlike most kids I would not cry and be trans-fixed to the big screen. I believe my love for movies started during those chilly nights. Later when I grew up, we would goto movies every Saturday and my job would be to run to the ticket counter to get the tickets.

The first movie I remember watching was Superman. For a month after watching that movie, I would jump from our couches with a cape trying to save the imaginary world. One of my most memorable movie moment was when we were watching some Amitabh Bachchan's movie in an open-air theater and it started raining. The movie was about to end but everyone was so engrossed in the movie that we all held our chairs over our heads till the movie ended. There were some other funny moments during those open-air era. The screen during those times were put against an Army vehicle and there were times when the wind would blow off the screen and we would end up watching part of the movie on the Army vehicle.

Movies became a staple diet after those early days, although the cinema halls and later the multiplexes took out the romantic charm of watching movies like the old days.

So today when we watched an excellent movie Slumdog Millionaire in a 50's style single theater, Garneau theater, it transported me back to good ol' days of watching movies.

There was a certain charm at first waiting for the tickets in a chilly evening, then waiting for the curtains to open and ending the movie with a round of applause. The movie itself was worth all the applause but it was the warm ambiance of the theater that transported me back to the days when movies were celebrated.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The olive branch...

There is a very poignant scene in the movie Gandhi when Om Puri's character tells Gandhi (played by Sir Ben Kingsley) that he killed a Muslim boy because Muslims had killed his son and Gandhi tells him compassionately to adopt a boy with one condition that the boy must be a Muslim orphaned during the riots and should be raised as a Muslim. The scene shows the practical application of compassionate behavior. You may agree or disagree with Gandhi and his philosophies (I will be the first one to disagree with him) but his experiments with truth, compassion and peaceful protests, are unmatched in their practicality.

The Mumbai attacks which started on 26/11 have once again raised the debate on how to tackle the menance of terrorism around the world. The first reaction of most people was of horror and fear. The whole series of events looked unbelievable and most of us were glued to their televisions. The second reaction was of anger, anger against the perpretators of this ghastly act of violence, anger against politicians, anger against the security agencies and their lapses. The third reaction was a human chain and peaceful protests on the streets of Mumbai and Delhi.

Where does Gandhi and his experiments fit into the whole situation? Is Gandhi still relevant when trying to tackle modern-day terrorism? Gandhi once said that non-violence will only work if the opposite side is civilized and has a conscience. Are we dealing with civilized people or people with conscience here? The act of 26/11 itself will suggest the answer as "No". What can we average people do to deal with such situations which are not in our control? Can we do anything? From my perspective the answer is "Yes".

If you get an opportunity make a friendship from across the border but the friendship should be without the burden of past, without the tension of the present and without the uncertainty of future. It may not be easy in today's tensed time with both sides accusing each other of prejudiced-allegations but these are not easy times. The solution will not be practical for 90% of Indians and Pakistanis because of lack of communication tools but if 5% of bad elements can create tension between the two countries imagine what 10% of friendships can do.

I took my opportunity couple of years back and now whether it is bombing of Marriott Hotel or siege of Taj Hotel, there is a prayer on my lips for those affected by the tragedy and I know there is someone praying from the other side of the border for the same.