May 25, 2003

Who's playing the lead?
(A rather existential and egoistic thought)

Film: Chasm-é-Baddoor
Director: Sai Paranjpye
Scene: in the compound of the building where Siddharth (Farooque Shaikh), Jomu(Ravi Baswani) & Omi(Rakesh Bedi) live)

Jomu is kicking away at his unresponsive motorcycle to try and start the black motorcycle (which makes a further appearance as the eponymous kaali ghodi in a song later in the movie). He has a curious style, one foot presses at the starter, the other is off the ground to provide additional thrust. In vain. Omi takes a shot at the mechanical beast, but considering his roly-poly proportions just about surviving the vigourous exercise he exhibits early in the film, the mission is doomed. Sidharth, in customary 70s-80s big, black glasses comes down. He mocks at his friends who just a moment ago refused to wait for him. One kick and the vroom-vroom of the bike indicates his position in the cast. This is amply borne out by the next piece of dialogue from Rakesh Bedi who knows why they couldn't do it.

Hero hai na!

That delightfully self-mocking sequence and the jokes at the expense of the film industry are representative of many more throughout this wonderful film, but it does pose an intellectually comic (if one is in the mood and is affected by films) question: Who is the hero of my film?

Think about it. If you had a camera trained on you and someone in charge of the story of your Life, The Film. Someone viewing your actions, expressions, voiceovers giving people insights into your thoughts, flashbacks, the works. And add to it the cliched plots of "hero always triumphs" or atleast most of the times. When fate has two choices, it turns the way of the hero. The hero is badly tested and tempted by fate, but ultimately, life pans out decently. So when things go badly or not to the script that I believe would be ideal, I wonder if I am the hero of my film, atleast in the current scene.

Some times I am not: someone else is coming-back-from-behind to win, someone is suffering and taking away all the sympathy leaving none for me, someone is getting all the adulation, someone is doing something better than me, someone has the mannerism that interests others, someone else is having all the luck. At this point, I have to come to the conclusion that I am just a supporting actor in someone else's movie, hopefully I'll atleast have a cameo that someone will notice in a sidelight.

(Rather pretentious and worthy of the Total Perspective Vortex so far?)

I can expound on this subject further, but suddenly words escape me. This is what comes of watching too many movies. It is obviously not the fantastic movies that contribute to this, I am not The One (not as far as I know), but the slice-of-life middle class movies that contribute to this. They take incidents from real life, plausible snippets that you can relate to. Then if you're unhinged enough, you wonder what's the difference between that story and mine? I wish someone thought my life was fascinating enough and tried to empathise with the little incidents that happen to me, and chug along on the roller-coaster of my emotions. But then everyone has their own movie to star in, and I am not special enough for them to pay the price of suspending their own screenings to peek at mine.

Let me continue to play unrestrained elation, muted romance, stoic sorrow, supportive friend, raging crusader and those many million shades of emotion for the audience of me and myself.

Post Script
A thought harks back to the delightful story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty that is somewhat apt to this post. While on the subject, Spielberg will be making a version soon with Jim Carrey in the lead. Jim Carrey starred in The Truman Show. If you know its storyline, you'll understand the significance to this post. And of course, a piece from Walter Mitty makes its way into Basu Chatterjee's Choti si Baat, part of the middle-class film movement.

This is the price one has to pay for being a quizzer: too many facts that can be correlated.

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