Saturday, September 26, 2015

The desire to see a Pakistani film.

If you are an Indian and you are reading this, chances are that you don't have an idea about the film I am talking about. To me its more disheartening than one would tend to think. The neighbor country produces a masterpiece based on the life and works of a literary icon whose works are deeply appreciated and discussed in both countries and we have absolutely no knowledge or clue about the same. I don't know who is to be held responsible here but I am very truly deeply disappointed.

To me, Saadat Hasan Manto is much more than an iconic literary figure. He is an idea, a spirit, a fire that burnt the curtains of falsehood with which the society tried to hide its dirty truths. To me, Manto was not an Indian or a Pakistani. He was the person who saw the truth as it unfolded in front of his eyes, who was shaken to core by the cruelty, ruthlessness, misery, greed and hypocrisy of the people, who saw that the ugly truth lied much beyond religion and how partition provided the perfect opportunity to people to unleash the beast within.

I came across Sarmad Sultan Khoosat's works some months back through the wonderful medium of Zindagi channel which airs Pakistani soaps in India. I was impressed both by his direction and his acting and decided to explore his body of work. That is when I came across Manto (The Film). It was still in the making at that point of time. Needless to say, that because I have been an ardent admirer of Manto and his work, I became considerably excited and keen to watch the movie. At that point of time, it didn't even occur to me that the film is a Pakistani work. I had watched some amazing Pakistani movies like Bol and Khuda kay Liye and I believed that the sensible people in Indian cinema would realize the worth of this work and distribute it in India as well.

When the trailer was released, a couple of weeks back, I was over the moon. It was better than my best expectations. But then it also struck me that there has been absolutely no mention of this film on the Indian side and almost no one is even aware of its existence. I waited in vain, hoping that someone would announce that India is also going to have the good fortune of watching this beautiful work but it didn't happen. Everyday I see rave reviews of the film, everyday my Pakistani friends share their wonderful experience of having watched this film and everyday I burn in envy and disappointment. I don't know if its a conscious decision or just plain ignorance and I don't know on whose part but its shameful that the two countries have still not gathered the maturity to realize that art should not be contained by borders. After all, Manto's own works have been about the the communities and countries, about the misery of cleaving a nation and the suffering that ensued. Shouldn't this film be a landmark, and a tribute to him also in the sense that it should be an effort to bring the two nations and communities closer. All odds can be overcome if the people have will to do so. Had Manto been alive today, he would have surely loved this film and been proud of the work but would have also been disappointed that times since his have hardly changed and that this work did not reach India for whatever reason.

I will admit that a couple of years back I was fed on the media constructed perception that Pakistan is backward nation and its people are mostly radical and fundamentalist in their attitudes. I am sure that people in Pakistan too had a similar image about us. It began to gradually change after I met the wonderful Pakistani author, Jamil Ahmad at the Jaipur Literature Festival and read his work. After his sad demise, I came in touch with his amazingly warm family and then over the last two years I made acquaintance with many more people from Pakistan and was way beyond surprised at they were all so amazing, warm and friendly. And how they were no different from us. How inspite of being two different nationalities, we are essentially the same people. Its high time we realize it. Let politics play its games. But let us recognize that our ties are to deep to severed by a line drawn on the map by a very bothered Englishman. Let us respect both our individuality and our commonness and let not art become the victim of biases and misunderstandings. Please.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Realizations (Notes to Self)

- Emotional evolution is as beautiful as it is ruthless. It will drag you away from the illusions you have been clinging to, it will let you burn in the inferno of retrospection and then it will hold you up to let you see the site of disaster you were residing in. From this vantage point you will see the whole picture clearly. You will see how hopeless and vast this wreck was and how it has been stagnating the blood in your veins. Gradually you will begin to realize the magnitude of the decay you have been holding in the cage of your ribs. How tiredness. hurt and disappointment have seeped into the marrow of your brittle bones. And you have been wondering all this while why every part of you aches like your soul has been beaten out of you! The bright wallpapers of your delusions will begin to peel away one by one, until your truth falls naked on the floor. Look what you have done to it. Look what you have allowed the world to do to you. Look at your bare skin and listen to your scars. But amidst this carnage, be surprised to see that your fire is burning still, fighting the ceaseless waves of despair, refusing to die down. Let this fire burn brighter and allow yourself to be reduced to ashes. Resurrection begins only when the destruction is complete. You will rise with the courage to turn around and walk away. 

- Sometimes people will learn their lessons at the cost of you. They will cut you in places from where you will bleed white. They will use you as the young doctors use cadavers to learn so that they don't make those mistakes on living human beings. If that has been the case, your bitterness will be immense. But if it has genuinely made them a better person, then for your own sake, its best to forgive them. Life is shameless and opportunistic. It will sprout at the slightest chance and heal with the feeblest will. But it is also imperative to remove this person and the remnants of their memories from your system. No matter how deep the attachment has been, respect yourself, close the door, lock it and throw the key away. 

- Self pity is one of the most destructive forces you harbor within you. Its the demon you really have to get rid of. 

- Being afraid or conscious of judgement can amount to self imposed emotional and intellectual captivity. You don't owe your existence to the world and you must never feel guilty about your choices and preferences. What you like to wear, how you keep your hair, where you like to go, how you like to grow, what you prefer to eat, what you prefer to watch or what you chose to believe in should be a matter of solely your own choice and no one else. Shouldn't matter what people think of it, even the people you hold dear. If they can't accept you without customizing you, then you must give them the freedom to leave and find someone more suited to their requirements. If you are pleasing someone at the cost of subduing your own desires then you are betraying both yourself and them. 

- Humble down and pride up. Evaluate yourself realistically. Our judgement about our own self is usually clouded with biases. Accept both genuine criticism and appreciation humbly and never cease to develop yourself. No matter where you are in life there will always be a chance to go higher and the threat to fall deeper. You are usually not as good or bad as you think. :)

-  Maintain balance in your interactions with the world. Never cease to appreciate the good in people and never cease to encourage them. Make sure you have a firm and sound support system and make sure that you are worthy and efficient gear of the support systems that you are a part of. 

- Share your worries, fears, hurts and disappointments with the people who love you as much as your share your hope and happiness. Don't doubt their capacity to understand or fear that your issues will be a burden on them. The only thing it will do is strengthen your relationship with them and help in the process of your recovery. However don't let venting become an addiction and don't scream for help before trying your own strength to fight the situation. 

- There should be no shame in being vulnerable. It is one of the primary requisites of being alive. Only those who have blood can bleed. 

- No experience will ever leave without a lesson. Never without making you little older, a littler wiser.

- Time changes the significance of everything, even time itself. Accept it. 

- Make yourself worthy of the relationships you commit to. Don't take the people in your life or your own self for granted. Build your relationships on mutually acceptable terms. Learn to respect the people in your life and make respect a necessary condition for every relationship. 

- If you feel sorry about it, then apologize. There is no other way. If someone apologizes to you, then forgive them for both their sake and yours. If they don't, then forgive them for your own sake. 

- Don't be afraid to grow out of your skin. 

- There are two ways of reacting to hurt. Either you stop it right there and refuse to be the conductor that passes on the damage or you decide to perpetuate it by inflicting hurt on whoever comes in your way. Its entirely your choice. 

- Be grateful for every single positive aspect, person, or thing in your life. Gratitude nurtures positivity and positivity nurtures gratitude. Once the cycle becomes self sustaining, it leaves little place for negativity to creep in. 

- Fight for it only if it is worth fighting for and not because someone expects you to fight. 

- Kindness is your strength, not your weakness. Its a choice, not an obligation. And the first person you should be kind yourself.

artwork by ikebana-lena