Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | September 28, 2008



One thing is for sure, generally the Indians (who have hardly ever been to India) that I have met here generally tend to publicly disown their country (despite the fact that within themselves they seem to have tremendous interest). This is true for many Asians that I have met who garner similar feelings about their own respective countries. I am surprised and I do not know whether to conclude that Asians generally possess less patriotic feelings and tend to be in a way stupid to blindly follow or identify themselves as someone else. Having said that, they tend to flock together quite a bit – shopping from markets that sell regional products and stay in colonies where people from region stay (true especially for South Asians). Is it fashionable to disown ones own country, is it hypocrisy or is it just a way adopting another culture? I do not think it is the later because in order to adopt and appreciate something different (and perhaps better) one needs to understand one’s own howsoever disgusting it may be. Sadly this is not just true about Indians but also not true about most Asians. Now this leads us to a very important question of whether it is true that any culture / race which dared to raise his head in protest have lead to militancy. To my mind, it is a vicious circle – on one hand it is true that there is an imposition of a different culture but on the other there is also a blind adoption of degraded aspects of that imposed culture! I would love Asia to evolve collectively but I wonder whether a concept like creation of a European Union is ever possible in Asia. I doubt whether Asians love themselves and their own homes that much. That collective commitment is missing somewhere!


Perhaps that is my silly justification to watching Bachna Ae Hasseno and Ugly aur Pagli along with some brilliant movies which I did not get to watch before. Before, I start talking about those movies; I must say I do like watching trashy Hindi movies from time to time while watching some of the bests of world cinema. I am not hypocritical about my preferences in this aspect and that is why I can not only demarcate a trash from a classic but also take out the silly entertainment part from a trash.


The library out here has allowed me to read some books and watch some good movies lately. Since, we have been here for just about two months and in between office we have been travelling a lot around, books are taking their own time to end. However, I am reading after a long time.


As far as movies are concerned, I have watched quite a few and shall mention some of them here. All these movies are very good but of course I may not have not liked each and every aspect all of them. However, these are undoubtedly worth a watch. I shall not divulge much of the stories since Wikipedia provide them all.


Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind – Despite watching a flawless performance of his in Truman Show, if I had any doubts about Jim Carey’s acting prowess then this movie has removed all those. Kate Winslet is of course one of the brilliant actresses of our times and together they create this magical movie. Eternal Sunshine is a unique love story that avoids the usual mush and concentrates on the eternal bond that develops between couples even though they may have the worst of fights. Best thing about Eternal Sunshine is creation of an atmosphere inside a character’s mind wherein he tries to resist the memories of his once lover getting erased. He himself was the one who chose to undergo such an exercise and it is only during the process that he revolves inside his mind. This is one love story which has concentrated on mind much more than it concentrates on heart. Watch this film for its witty dialogues, funny sequences and modern treatment.


Farewell my concubine – I wanted this film for a long time. To be precise, I recall watching a trailer of this particular movie in 1993 in a program called World This Week which made Dr. Prannoy Roy famous. This is a Chinese film that puts a politically vibrant China during 1924 to 1977 as its settings. The Beijing Opera serves as the backdrop to a tumultuous relationship between three of its principal characters. Farewell my concubine explores various aspects of human behaviour. It shows love or obsession for creative art, dependence among friends, jealousy at its worst form, betrayal and sacrifice. This is a colourful movie though it is not a happy movie. I liked the movie because it provided me with an insight on Chinese cultures and tradition. I must say the acting by the main protagonists in this film is brilliant to say the least.



Cinema Paradiso – this movie is a classic and there is every reason for it being the one. This film engaged me from its very onset despite it being a little long. Cinema Paradiso celebrates love for cinema and explores the journey of an apparently useless boy to become one of the most celebrated moviemaker. The script is very strong and I loved each and every word spoken despite the fact, they were subtitled in English. Cinema Paradiso is one of those films which one should watch till the credits start rolling at the end. Trust me; you will recall its cinematic magic for years to come.


Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring – is a Korean movie that traces the life of a child. It is a very simple movie but is rich in its philosophical content. The movie shows how an innocent child can be taught to realise his mistakes but as he grows up it is a natural eventuality that he commits mistakes which are much graver. While the man gets punished for the mistakes he commits in his youth he also gets an opportunity to redeem himself. This phase of redemption is achieved through hard work and dedication. Towards the end of his life the man is perhaps ready to give back whatever life has given him but the person he gives them back also undergoes the same cycle of life. This movie actually traces a normal life cycle through small incidents happening between a child (who grow up to become a man) and his teacher. The setting of this film is breathtaking and the film is good too where the names of the seasons in the title only exhibit phases of life.


The Piano – this is a famous movie and is a creative product of New Zealand. The Piano’s content has been apparently very debatable because of the feminist tinge that it possesses. Having said that, I thought it is a brilliantly shot and executed film. The Piano focuses on the love between a deaf and mute woman with her musical instrument. Every other incident that happens in the film are bordering on this. The Piano scales great heights in terms of its ending. Purists may find the film showing males in bad light but perhaps coming from a country like India, I could understand the woman’s plight to pursue her interests in a patriarchal Victorian society (I am sure similar stories happen everyday even now in India). I would highly recommend this film to anyone who emphasises to the plight of women and if you trust me, it is not overtly laden with feminist connotations. It is a very short film and even if it was, I could not understand the same. It is a beautiful film.


Little Children – Many people may find its content disturbing but trust me, it is a film which towards the end makes one happy. Little Children is another of those films where Kate Winslet gives an amazing performance. It is a story set in a small US suburb suffering from its usual problems of lonely children, unfulfilling marriages, paedophilia, alcoholism, discrimination and infidelity. These problems have been dealt with Hollywood in different ways in many films but what sets this one apart is this film shows how despite having an apparently attractive alternative, the main protagonists towards the end realise that it is perhaps best to sort out existing problems than really escape from them. This realisation makes the film worth watching. It is similar in some ways with the movie Crash which I thought was extraordinary.


As far as other films which I watched but did not like that much is the Oscar winning Brokeback Mountain. Long time back, I watched The Bridges of Madison County and I thought Brokeback Mountain though concentrated on similar theme of everlasting love between two people amidst other responsibilities (albeit similar gender in Brokeback Mountain), it failed to strike a chord with me like The Bridges of Madison County did. My being a bit traditional in thoughts may be the reason too but I admit I did not like this highly acclaimed film.


Among the books that I am currently reading are: Mao – The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday and Gandhi – the man, his people and the empire by Rajmohan Gandhi. I have tended to like biographies for sometime now and that is why these two books I thought I shall borrow.


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