Friday, December 14, 2012

Of The Bet, Pukar, Mom and B, Team 9, Sidin, Creativity, Rani, Koshish and Saathiya...

Hmmm... long time no see... this time it is really long time no see! I was busy with the exams on my head for the last two-three weeks. They got over today. What a relief. I don't know about the grades though. I always give my best effort, rest all is not in my hands no? The grades will be out in one or two days. I have so many small small topics to write about. I must have forgotten some of them. I will try to recall as much as I can. 

As you all know, Ajmal Kasab was hanged a few weeks ago. As always, it started this old debate on the validity of the capital punishment. I read some thought provoking articles on the same defending and condemning it. One of the pieces that I really liked was by Pratap Bhanu Mehta. I have always been a fan of his writing. In this article, he presents some points against the death penalty. I loved his article but I confess, I did not get it completely. Some of it was too deep for me to understand. But these lines were so amazing.

The argument that the death penalty deters crimes is empirically untenable. The most complex moral argument for it was Immanuel Kant’s, who, paradoxically, thought that the death penalty was a way of recognising the humanity of the perpetrator. For Kant, the most important aspect of our humanity is that we are responsible agents. Punishing perpetrators in accordance with their crime, under the principle of ius talionis, is attributing responsibility to them, and therefore acknowledging their humanity.

I am no expert on the topic and my views do not count on it much but this whole issue reminded me of one of the stories in Class 12 English - The Bet by Anton Chekhov. It was an excellent story. Perhaps I might not have completely understood its significance at that time. When I think today, I realize it is still so relevant. Essentially, if I recall correctly as well as with some inputs from Wiki, The Bet is a story of a lawyer and a banker who have different opinions on death penalty. The banker believed that capital punishment is more humane than life imprisonment, while the young lawyer disagreed, insisting that he would choose life in prison rather than death. They agree to a bet of two million rubles that the lawyer cannot spend fifteen years in solitary confinement. The bet was on, and the lawyer cast himself into isolation for fifteen years. The lawyer spends his time in confinement reading books, writing, playing piano, studying, and educating himself. In the meantime, the banker's fortune declines and he realizes that if he loses, paying off the bet will leave him bankrupt. The day before the fifteen-year period concludes, the banker resolves to kill the lawyer so as to not owe him the money. However, the banker finds a note written by the lawyer. The note declares that in his time in confinement he has learned to despise material goods for the fleeting things they are. Therefore, to demonstrate his contempt, he intends to leave confinement five hours prior to when the bet would be up, thus losing the bet, thereby saving his own life.

The lawyer says these words to the banker,
You may be proud, wise, and fine, but death will wipe you off the face of the earth as though you were no more than mice burrowing under the floor, and your posterity, your history, your immortal geniuses will burn or freeze together with the earthly globe.
You have lost your reason and taken the wrong path. You have taken lies for truth, and hideousness for beauty. You would marvel if, owing to strange events of some sorts, frogs and lizards suddenly grew on apple and orange trees instead of fruit, or if roses began to smell like a sweating horse; so I marvel at you who exchange heaven for earth. I don't want to understand you.

When I read this again, I am amazed by the philosophical references of the story. I still remember a question that our English teacher asked in one of the exams - Who do you think came out as a better person in the end? Who won the bet? It's fascinating no? I miss studying English. These days my reading has almost become zilch. It's the only thing I am proud of. Do read the story here. It's too good.

There was another equally fascinating story in Class 11 - Freedom  - which talked about how individual freedom must sometimes be curbed to maintain order in the society. It said that you have full right to play a loudspeaker in the middle of the night but should you actually do that? I still think our English in Class 11 and 12 was terrific. I have already written here about the The Other Side of The Hedge , The Future is Now: A Zest for Living, and Machines and Emotions. I will write about some other stories as well. I still have all the books at home :)

During the thanksgiving break, I finally watched Pukar. I liked it a lot but maybe because it was too dated, some things felt too silly. Some scenes were hilarious especially Rohini Hattangadi and Viju Khote. But I loved Madhuri who played Anjali. She is terrific in the film. She goes through a whole plethora of emotions in the film - happiness,  jealousy, pathos, helplessness, dementia, disappointment, vengeance. She did it brilliantly. What I really liked was that in the end, Jai (Anil Kapoor) forgives her misdeeds and tells her that he loves her as well. Instead of killing her and trying to do the right thing  - Jai marrying Pooja (Shilpa Shirodkar), the movie, as one review brilliantly said, listened to Anjali's pukar of love for Jai - whatever she did was to get Jai and he realized that as well. Yes, she did some wrong things but she was fooled into doing them. On the other hand, Pooja stopped talking to Jai without even listening to his side of the story. Wasn't then her love fickle as compared to Anjali's? And as Aditya said in Jab We Met, when Geet is running from the house

गीत: सच बताओ। क्या मैं ठीक कर रही हूँ?
आदित्य: नहीं, तुम ठीक नहीं कर रही हो। पर तुम ही ने कहा था - जब कोई प्यार में होता है तो सही गलत नहीं होता। All is fair. और आज अगर मैं अपनी माँ को समझ सकता हूँ, तो घबराओ मत कल तुम्हारे parents भी तुम्हे समझ जायेंगे।

But I loved Pukar's music. Each and every song. What beautiful music has Rehman given. I was surprised it didn't even win a music nomination. Kay Sera Sera, Sunta Hai Mera Khuda, Humrahi Jab Ho Mastana, Kismat Se Tum, Ek Tu Hi Bharosa. 

Sunta Hai Mera Khuda (Is it the Grand Canyon in the US where it is shot?)

Madhuri is lovely and perhaps feeling cold ;-)!

And you know whenever I speak to my mom on Skype, she makes some very funny comments. She said, "aisi koi technology nahi bani ki main yahan baithi hun aur tujhe screen ke andar se koi cheez pakda dun." I was like :} But then maybe in the future some thing like this come up no? And the other day, she made me talk to our maid - B. B is working at our home for the last twenty years. Earlier it was her mom who used to work and since the time I have been in my senses, I have seen her at our home. She said to my mom that she misses me having me around. And then she said he never used to say anything that do this, do that, come later even if he is sleeping. Aww :( That is so nice. I spoke to her and I felt very happy :) B aur Mummy ki to ladai-gappe chalte rehte hain :) 

Since the semester has ended, the teams that we were working in are now disbanded. There will be new teams allotted in the next semester. I loved my team - Team 9. I never had problems while working in our team. When I hear stories of other teams, I was like I am very lucky to have such people in my team. I have become very good friends with all of them - B, B, T, R and J. They are such nice people. We pull each others' leg as well. R and B call me Panki (I did not tell them this name, they only came up with it!), B calls me God of Truth when I explained him what my last name means :) I am going to miss this team. I have learnt a lot from them as well. 

I will say it again, I am in love with Sidin Vadukut. He is awesome. He is my idol. I want to be like him. He knows about everything. He has started this podcast on the history of the Indian Constitution. You have to listen to it. Everyone should listen to it! He says, when everyone was talking about Lokpal bill he got really interested in our Constitution and started reading about. He was hooked and he says that he continues to be fascinated by contemporary Indian history. You can listen them here. He posts only one each week and they are not more than 15 minutes. When Dork 3 came out, he had a chat session on CNN IBN and I read all his answers. He said that he has now developed a passion for learning which he didn't have when he was studying. He likes to do a lot of things and he said that you need to learn to sleep less if you want to take out time for these things. He said that as a advice to students, I will like to tell them to question a lot - don't simply accept what is being taught to you and every one should listen to Econtalk pod-casts if you want to understand the world. I wish I could be even 10% as good as him.

And you know in the Organizational Behavior class, we discussed about creativity. According to research by T.A. Amabile, creativity has three components - expertise, motivation and creative thinking. Creative thinking is the innate ability of how creative the person is. A combination of his expertise, motivation and skill create a creative person. I started applying it on myself. Am I a creative person? And the answer came out to be a no. I don't have the innate creative thinking skills that come up naturally. I might have the motivation to do it but I realized I do not have the imagination required for a creative person. Perhaps that is why I am always left behind. And one of the misconceptions that people have is that creativity is all about artistic things!! It means the ability to come up with a new approach for a different problem or new ways of thinking. 

Then someone on Twitter posted this, talent is highly overrated and sometimes used as an excuse for not going out for something. Anybody who has enough passion to succeed in any field, can with consistent effort become more 'talented' than those who are definitely more talented today in that field. So if you've enough patience and enough passion, just go for it and become super-talented :)
Author Geoff Covlin talks about it in much detail in his book - Talent is Overrated - after going through extensive research on world's most successful people in different fields who are wrongly called "naturally" exceptionally talented like Mozart, Tiger Woods etc. But I still think some people are naturally gifted. Remember this:
I really wish I was a creative person :{

Shubhra Gupta of Indian Express wrote a fabulous piece on Rani Mukherji. She wonders whether our film industry has roles written for an actor of Rani's caliber. I loved every word of it. Rani remains one of my favorite actors. Love these lines:

In the films that Rani did after (Ghulam, Mann, in which she had a cameo, and Hey Ram), she proved she had that thing that all leading ladies need to make it in Bollywood. She could do glamour as well as plain-and-simple. She could dance. She could be funny. And yes, she could act. She wasn't just an able foil to her hero. She was a person in her own right. The rasp in her voice made her stand out from the clutter: you knew it was her a mile off. She managed to get the roles which allowed her to get under the skin, and not just show skin.

More than anything else, Rani could deal with being grown up on screen. She didn't have the curse of having to be bubbly, like poor Preity did. Because Rani started with drama, we accepted her in tears. We believed her when she wanted to leave her husband and go off with another man ( KJo’s Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna). We liked her even when she exaggerated her inner Chaplin to play the girl-with-special-needs in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s baroque Black. And one of her best parts was the one she plays in Shaad Ali’s Saathiya, as a married woman coming to terms with the fact that love can vanish. It was a demanding role that needed the actor to be unpleasant, for the anger to be unforgiving: she played that one unflinchingly, and excellently.

Rani is awesome no? I really like the point that Shubra writes on Saathiya that love could vanish. Can it really vanish? That is topic of another blog. I will write someday about Saathiya as well. The must-read article for all Rani fans is here:

And you know what somehow I got reminded of this serial Koshish. It used to come on Zee TV and was made by Ekta Kapoor. It starred Sandhya Mridul and Varun Badola. It was about this girl who was tricked into marrying a mentally challenged guy but later she falls in love with him. Varun Badola brilliantly essayed the role of Neeraj and Sandhya Mridul was equally good. I don't know why I got reminded though! I loved it. Its title song is still on my lips. Beautiful lyrics talking about hope or koshish.

वो आशा है वो अभिलाषा,
 वो अपनेपन की परिभाषा, 
वो साथ चले बन के साया, 
उससे जीवन बनता आया, 
वो दुःख सहती, सुख देती है, 
वो आंसू भी पी लेती है,
 हर पल को मधुर बनाने की, 
जीवन भर साथ निभाने की, 
यह एक कोशिश,
 हाँ एक कोशिश, कोशिश....

Listen to it. It is awesome. You Tube says it is Sony. Koshish wasn't on Sony, it was on Zee. I remember very well. Sony had this another Sandhya Mridul show - Hubahu - about twin sisters, unhappy with their lives, secretly exchange life for a week but things go out of control. I am such a big soap junkie no? Hubahu was so so good. I still remember its climax - open ended and left you guessing. I miss those days when TV was good :( Now I don't even have a TV. I will definitely write more about Hubahu soon :)

I wrote a lot today no? I will write another blog post soon. I still have a list of five-six topics that I thought of writing. Maybe I will write in another day or two before I forget. Would love to hear other's opinion on the topics I wrote today :)

Dialogues of the Day:

Favorite scenes from Saathiya

Friend: अरे यार, नाम कद,वजन कुछ नहीं मालूम और 1 करोड़ बीस लाख की जनता में से एक लड़की को ढूंढे को कह रहा 
Aditya: मुंबई की आबादी
Friend: 1 करोड़ बीस लाख
Aditya: औरतें कितनी होंगी
Friend: 50%, 60 लाख समझो
Aditya: 60 लाख में से college जाने वाली कितनी होंगी
Friend: Hardly 10%
Aditya: चलो 10% मान लिया.. 6 लाख में से medical student कितनी होंगी
Friend: अच्छा तो मेडिकल student है ..1% चलो मान लिया.. 600.. नहीं नहीं 6000
Aditya: अरे तेरे number बड़े गड़बड़ है.. 600 में से लोकल ट्रेन में कितनी travel होंगी, only in Bombay
Friend: Doctory पढ़  रही है तो कार से जाती होगी. अगर हम बस, टैक्सी और ऑटो छोड़े भी दे, तो कम से कम 1% तो ट्रेन से जाती होंगी
Aditya: तो कितनी हुई
Friend: मुश्किल से 60
Aditya: 60 medical students में से एक लड़की का पता लगाना मुश्किल है क्या?

Dina: किसे ढून्ढ रहे हो? उस लड़की को? जो कपडे उतार.. जो रस्सी से कपडे उतार रही है.. उसका नाम मालूम है? सीटी बजानी आती?
Good शरीफ आदमी लगते हो ...ज़रा भुर भुर करो?
अरे bike को race दो ना।।
(Aditya does bhur bhur :D and Suhani gets angry)
देखा it worked.

Suhani: दी, तू वहां क्या कर रही है?
Dina: इन्हें रास्ता बता रही हूँ..भूल गए थे बेचारे...


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