Not knowing what "function" constitutes, if we do not admit to dysfunction then we must consider the possibility that we might be delusional. The latter, by definition, makes it impossible for us to tell.
Why procreate and leave your progeny a used up planet and insurmountable other problems to boot as legacy is beyond my understanding. Just because someone did it to you, it isn’t necessary justification to pay it forward, is it?
This year, the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film went to “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”.
At one point the protagonist raises the question “…why does the weasel go ‘pop’? does it matter? If life is enjoyed does it have to make sense?”
But then again, what if enjoyment is to be had in the inquiry, in things making sense? What if the fun is in the chase? Why is that such a bad thing?
Of all the documentaries that I have watched in recent times, three in particular stand out. Two of these were to do with “art”.
“Exit through the gift shop” was interesting, never mind the conspiracy theories about its genuineness. Whether the documentary is an elaborate hoax or not, it still gets you to think. One has never been sure about all those Warholesque Campbell soup cans or the stenciled pop-icon images bandied as symbols in or of “popular consciousness”. Like an abstruse poem, if it does not communicate, what good is it and what’s with all the arbitrary valuation? In the meanwhile that the jury is still out over whether street or ‘manufactured’ art has any cred or is worth anything, one cannot but express surprise over the market’s alacrity to pay such a disproportionately high price for it. We are never going to know what was really going on in Warhol’s mind then, or what goes on in Banksy’s mind now – even if some day we might find out who he is. I’d rather, then, be the philistine and ask the emperor to cover up already, the “artist”, if ever there was one, having long left the building.
“Wasteland” is a deeply touching film about Brazil’s “catadores” who work in the world’s biggest garbage dump. Even if there is a question mark on this kind of art, at least the film-makers have exploited the “market” constructively to better the lives of their subjects, than just stand back, film their plight and leave them to their own devices.
The third one, Catfish, about a guy on Facebook who has this relationship with a “fake” account, makes for very compelling viewing. Just like “Exit …”, as the closing credits roll however and you come to think about it, you begin to question the film’s veracity. Which brings me to another question…
One wonders just how many of these films are contrivances – feature films in the garb of “documentaries”. This “new” genre has been waiting to out ever since “The Blair witch project” did a Milli Vanilli on filmdom. They’ve got their bragging rights for sure, now that they have the eyeballs to show for it, but with the line blurring thus it is becoming increasingly difficult to box them into their correct categories. Like as if the awards ceremonies are not enough of a travesty already!
There are lots of things beyond human understanding. More often than not, the answers are the prerogative of a few, in the form of complex metaphors in religion or half truths in science. My hunch is that the few that claim they know are in a position to claim the millions that are doled out as university grants or are reinterpreting scriptures to suit their own ends. But perhaps that is being too cynical where the advances in science are there for us to see or when religion is a way of organizing for the general good of the community and preserving culture. Clichéd though as it sounds, tolerance, mutual respect, good manners to enable empathy and the like should be on the list for us to be able to “enjoy” the diversity of it all. The contrast that arises out of difference is what makes and defines each of us and we are only playing the hand that we are dealt. Why then should we want to paint everyone with the same brush? A sensible imperative is to meet others where they are without trying to make them into us, given our meager life spans, and concentrate our collective energies in bettering governance and have legislation catch up to ensure this most fundamental of all rights: To be and let be, without infringement. To be ourselves when every body and thing is trying to make us into someone else.
Recent reports about A.K. Hangal’s plight have been distressing to say the least and I agree, of course, that he should be helped by all means. Hangal sahab has acted in over 125 films, so much so Wikipedia has had to do a select filmography. Character actor or not, his last film was “Lagaan”; only a few years ago. They must have paid him something for it. He is a “character” actor or ”an actor in a supporting role”, where you stand head to head with the lead actors when it comes to the credits. Hardly an “extra” like he is being made out to be or at least so you’d think from recent reports.
He started late with films, but he’s been a working man all his life, and touch-wood it has been a mighty long and healthy one at that. It is a small minority that is lucky to be in show biz, and whatever the argument about how little character actors are paid, it does not take away from the argument that there must be some money at the end of the day to at least make a living. A.K. Hangal is nothing, if not high profile. I can’t imagine that there has ever been a time when the man has been without work. If it wasn’t films, there were always advertisements he could make money out of. He has been the quintessential face, the ubiquitous if not downright rampant, and the piñata of if not the poster for the middle class household.
The middle-non-film-working class do manage to save up for their medical bills, hospital and old age home incarcerations and the eventual funeral. Why, we even have a little something left over at the end that makes for a legacy, however humble! I find it extremely difficult to believe that he hasn’t saved a penny. Easily one of the most recognized faces among character actors; right up there with Satyen Kappu and Co., if not ahead. You’d think he’d wield some influence among his peers or would have someone to at least advise him about medical insurance. What is even more incredulous is no one from among the many “analysts” reading the news is asking or telling us why things have come to such a pass or where the man’s many years of hard earned income went. Hangal Sahab seems like someone who led a life of simple means and hardly the type who might have been guilty of drinking and gambling it all away.
It is almost as if someone were trying to hang on to the man’s bank balance whence making one last hit to milk it for what it is worth using the good ol’ emotional blackmail route. And why does this only happen to people in the entertainment industry? Bharat Bhusan, Bhagwan, Ustad Bismillah Khan …long, unending list! Just what do these guys do with all their money?
Given that the magazine is called Time, an Event of the year award to Facebook as an idea that happened would be more appropriate. After watching the Social Network, what is apparent is that Zuckerberg took the idea and ran with it, played his cards right. The devil has been more than given his due. Facebook was an idea whose time had come, and it would have happened, one way or another. Whether Facebook happened to Zuckerberg or Zuckerberg happened to Facebook is moot.