25 Jun 2012

Review: My greatest teacher

Hay House documentary series, Tales of everyday magic, shows us that ‘magic’ is possible in everyday life. It doesn’t have to be some momentous event that changes the course of the entire world. It is magic even if it changes the course of one life, your life, my life.

Dr. Wayne Dyer’s ‘My greatest teacher’ is the second documentary in the series that I got a chance to watch. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to not just watch the documentary but also to review it. So here’s my two cents.

For most of us, the word ‘teacher’ brings forth the image of someone who taught us in school or college. For those of us on a spiritual journey, it may bring to mind a guru who has guided us along our spiritual path. Many would consider Dr. Wayne Dyer himself one of their greatest teachers. But how many of us would consider our parent(s) to be our greatest teacher(s). And yet, they are. This particular creation by Dr. Dyer tells the viewers of his own story of his longing for his father whom he had never seen in his entire life, except on one occasion. Yet, he was obsessed with finding and getting even with him. He wanted his father to know how it felt to never have a father or never experience the fatherly love his whole life. He felt that his father was the greatest culprit of his life. Although the story is semi-autobiographical, it would make each one of us think. Our story might be the same or might be different. We may have ‘issues’ with our mom and not with dad. However, the documentary compels us to introspect and see whether we are living our life from the place of love or fear. Are revenge and getting even the drivers of our lives?

The end shows the son finding out that his dad’s no more and visits the graveyard where he’s buried. After the wave of anger and loathing for this man he never saw or experienced, comes the clarity in which he sees his dad for who he really was … his greatest teacher. The documentary also brings in the flavor of comparison between the eastern philosophies (which Dr. Dyer has studied in depth, follows in his daily life and propagates to his readers and listeners) and the western way of thinking. Forgiveness is the answer. However, before one can forgive, one needs to acknowledge and feel the nasty feelings one has about a person or a situation. Then, from the depth of fear and anger, springs forth spontaneous clarity and forgiveness.

Director Michael Goorjian has once again done a fabulous job in showing all shades of emotions in his lead character. The forgiveness that the son feels for his father and the acknowledgement that he was the greatest teacher brings about profound change in his entire demeanor and the way he lives his life. It is truly a tale of magic that can happen every day in everyone’s life.

6 May 2011

नमन नटवरा, विस्मयकारा

 The golden, ornamented frame that borders the screen at the beginning makes sure you know that, what is going to unfold on screen next is going to be grandiose. For the next couple of hours, the movie Balgandharva more than fulfils this expectation. For someone like me, who has never seen the Sangeet Naatak era in Maharashtra, the movie definitely has a charm of its own. Although its not nostalgia, because I’ve never lived in those times, it makes me want to go back there. The movie succeeds in showcasing not just the life but also the times of Naaraayan Shreepaad Raajhans a.k.a. Baalgandharva.
The movie depicts the characters, the culture and the historic details extremely authentically. The director and the movie team hasn’t fallen prey to over-dramatising any part of the script. Finding faces that match the real persons of the time is never an easy job but it has been executed with perfection in case of this movie. Right from Nitin Chandrakant Desai himself playing Lokmaanya Tilak to Prachi Mhatre as Gauhar bai, everyone seems to be just cut out for the role. I have seen some of the characters only in photos or portraits but my mother has seen many of them in real life when she was a kid. According to her, there could be no better Raam Ganesh Gadkari than Manoj Kolhatkar and Ajay Purkar as Bhaaskar bua Bakhle is just perfect!
Of course, the highlight of the movie is Subodh Bhave in the role of Baalgandharva. Or should I say the highlight is his stree party get up, his costumes and his body language. I have never seen a transvestite so beautiful! It may be that the make up and camera techniques have played a part in it but for me, Subodh actually looks much more womanly than any stree party ever, even Baalgandharva himself. However, credit goes to the director in maintaining the balance between the on-stage, female Baalgandharva and the off-stage, masculine Naaraayan. Subodh Bhave has done a great job of limiting the femininity to the scenes in which he is on stage, acting and then reverting to male behavior in others. There’s a scene where Naaraayan is seen with his wife in a stree party costume because his wife insists on seeing him wearing one. This scene could easily have become a weird romantic scene with a lesbian-esque quality to it. But it doesn’t and that’s where the expertise of Ravindra Jadhav as director and Subodh Bhave as actor, lie.
One complaint I had about Ravindra Jadhav’s previous masterpiece, Natrang, was that it claimed to show authentic Laavani performances which was simply not the case. The songs were good but the choreography was no where near real Laavani performance. Younger generation that hasn’t seen the real Laavani has come to think of the Natrang-version as the real stuff. However, in case of Balgandharva, the team has maintained the authenticity of the music, lyrics, stage performance and  costumes from the old Pada (पदं). Hence, it would be a renaissance for the Naatya Sangeet if the music of this movie goes on to become popular with the younger crowd.
Ravindra Jadhav has also done a great job at only subtly hinting at a controversial aspect of Balgandharva’s life which was his conversion to Islam. For those who do not know his life and times, this might not even figure as what is being shown. After his involvement with Gauhar bai, it is said, that he changed his religion. The mix qawwali-bhajan number, Parvardigaar, does a great job of hinting at this possibility extremely subtly. It is not made into an obvious part of the script, thus keeping the focus on Baalgandharva as a performer rather than on his personal life.
All in all, the movie is a great masterpiece, very apt as a tribute to probably the greatest performer on Marathi stage, Naaraayan Shreepaad Raajhans a.k.a. Baalgandharva.

30 Mar 2011

Ind vs Pak today!

I’ve been restraining myself from writing anything about the touchy topic of the ICC Cricket World Cup for last few days. I know that most of the people in this world have a hard time respecting other people’s opinions if they don’t match up with their own. They sincerely try to ‘convert’ the others by arguing to the point where the other gives in and accepts their own opinion. I know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Opinions are just that, they can’t be right or wrong. So let me say at the outset that whatever your opinions are about what I’m going to write today, I completely respect them as long as they’re your own and you stand for them!

That said, let me explain the title of this post. It is definitely going to be about today’s match between India and Pakistan but it is going to be about much more. I’m using this title as a good marketing gimmick to attract maximum readers because that’s what the world is about these days, marketing gimmicks. The post is going to have a lot more questions in it than answers. Because it is going to mirror what’s been going out in my mind in last few days. I haven’t been following the media too much (thank God?) but FB does a perfectly good job at showing us what goes on in the world and in people’s minds. Also, since my father’s closely involved in the preparations for the final on Wankhede, unfortunately, I’m privy to a bit more info than others regarding the same. All this input has triggered many questions, some anxiety and a bit of sadness in me today. So I felt the need to express myself and hence the end of self-imposed moratorium. For the most part, I’m writing this post for my own sake and so, if the marketing gimmick of the attractive title fails to get this post any readers, so be it! Enough said, to the main points now.

Today there’s a match between India and Pakistan. Yes, it is a match. It is not THE match, a war, a jihad, a question of anyone’s life and death, or at least it should not be, in my opinion. Of course, the media has made sure it is made to feel like all of the above and we, the people, are more than happy to feel so. Every time there is a cricket match between these 2 countries, what I call ‘the negative definition patriotism’ of Indians (and may be Pakistanis, I don’t know) pours forth with all the gusto. Let me explain the term. It means “Its not that we love our country or anything, but we sure hate those bastards to the core!” In last few days, I’ve seen all the wiseass, cynical comments about the Pakistan team on FB, people calling our neighbours Fuckistan and all that jazz! Today I saw that MaNaSe (it’s a political party in Maharashtra) has built a podium in a street and is going to have a huge screen put up to show the match live in the street. Yes, I know this is done in many other countries, especially for football/soccer matches. What I find objectionable is, why wasn’t this done for all the matches or at least all the matches India played? Aren’t we ourselves giving the so called ‘most hated country’ a special status by doing this? This is sort of like one of the aspects of feminism to me. By imitating the haircuts and attires of men, aren’t women increasing their importance and implying they are imitable? How is that supposed to work to boost women’s self-esteem? Similarly, if we hate Pakistan so much, why do we want to watch them on big screen? “Well, dummy, because we want to watch India crush them!” I hear you say. But then we didn’t have so much enthusiasm in seeing any other country being crushed? Notice that the enthusiasm, in this case, is about watching Pakistan lose than watching India win! You know that’s true! That’s what I call ‘the negative definition of patriotism’.

So that was about the cricket. Now let me come to the social aspect. You may or may not know how many security personnel of all sorts have been arriving in Mumbai in last few days. There’s the local police, the RAF (Rapid Action Force) and thousands of them. There are 184 CCTVs installed. There are security drills going on every day. The personnel concerned with managing the event, the ground staff, the officials, everyone got their fingerprints taken and photos of their eyes (irises) taken yesterday. They’re being issued an ID card only after that. They are to arrive at MCA the day before and stay their overnight for security purpose. So no coming to the venue on the day of the match for those who have access to ‘sensitive’ areas. It feels like a freakin’ warzone! Or an emergency! Or at least, it definitely doesn’t feel like a sporting event! What kind of a city, country and world are we living in? We need thousands of army men so that we can enjoy (?) a game? Of course, I’m sure we will enjoy it and call it the invincible spirit of Mumbai. Does Mumbai even have any spirit left in her? Do we have any spirits and sensitivity left in us? Do I even want to go to Wankhede through this entire circus to watch the match?

May be India will win the World Cup, Indians will get ever more involved in Cricket, the sponsors will mint ever more money via these ever more addicted consumers, and we will get ever more distracted from things that are called life. Because cricket is our life, we bleed blue and we’re proud of it!

6 Oct 2010

Bring Back the Earth

The guest post below has been generously contributed by Eco-learning Legacies. Founder Candia Lea Cole outlines the mission as follows, “As an eco-visionary, I envision a future on earth in which all people are conscious of their role in protecting and sustaining the living ecology of people and the planet and they wholeheartedly embrace the wisdom for everyday living and learning rituals that honor their innate eco-intelligence.” Their company is currently in a contest for the best idea to help humanity. Votes can be received up until October 17th. Here's a link to the voting page: http://www.bestideaforhumanity.com/register.cfm

Lately, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the probability that my children, and my children’s children, will be here long after me. I’ve been trying to envision how the earth will function in another 20, 30 or 40 years, and whether or not the branches extending from my family tree will be green and thriving.
To be perfectly honest, I have my moments of doubt. I am tempted at times to indulge in the cynicism of our age. Yet, just as the doubters and critics are about take over, I realize that it is up to me to determine how I will survive amidst the terror of environmental waste, pollution, and destruction. It is up to me to find strength. It is up to me to find resolve. It is up to me to see the hidden blessing that my situation is bringing me.
In today’s world, millions of us are feeling the pain of being imprisoned by our current reality upon earth, where the cries of hunger can be heard day or night around the globe, and the ice caps are melting, and the rainforest is burning to the ground.
It is hard to know where to step next, what to do next, and how to think about our place and purpose in the grand scheme of life. Yet what is becoming increasingly clear to me and others, in the face of this chaos, is that each of us needs to try and remain calm. We just need to take a deep breath.
As human beings, we are equipped to handle even the direst emergencies in our lives. As long as we have faith in each other and our surroundings, have the loving intention to live well and give ourselves permission to reclaim the innate eco-intelligence we were born with that guides us to live well. The truth we must all come to terms with is that we may never live on a planet that is entirely free of problems and dangers. What is essential is to not create any more problems, but try to fix the ones that already exist by living in an eco-intelligent manner.

Imperfect Circumstances are Perfect for Our Learning and Growth
There are hundreds of circumstances on Earth right now that seem less-than-desirable, but actually are perfect circumstances from which we can all learn about our place and function in life. These perfect circumstances represent one of the rarest opportunities in our history as a human species for our growth and maturation.
They represent one of the greatest opportunities that our bodies, minds, and souls will ever know for learning about how to function in greater harmony and balance with the rest of life. It also presents the need of each and every person to shift their everyday beliefs, actions and choices in the world, to support an ecology of personal and planetary well-being, rather than an ecology of disease. In essence, our perfect circumstances on earth today present us with an opportunity for healing and an opportunity to “bring back” the earth that we depend upon for our life and survival. 
Though I realize that some people on earth are set in their belief that our long-term destructive relationship with the earth cannot be healed, I cannot agree with them. The reason for this is that I have seen and experienced the power of healing in my own life.
If you’re saying to yourself, “What exactly is the power of healing?” I can help you to understand what I mean. The power of healing is the power to “live whole.” It is the power to set right the things that have become lost, injured, or unsettled in the course of life. It is the power to focus our energies in a direction that does not dissipate our vital life force. It is the power to avoid the kinds of internal and external conflicts that hurt our health and separate us from our true spiritual natures.
Ultimately, HEALING is about exercising the ability and willingness to live connected to the greater whole of life and to cultivate the kind of healthy relationships with the earth. It is about honoring our innate potential for integrity through eco-intelligence.

Eco-Intelligence Empowers us to Live Well in Today’s Eco-Challenged Times
In today’s eco-challenged times, it is our ECO-INTELLIGENCE that I believe will empower us to live well, because it is based on the common-sense idea that we are part of a living whole and we are meant to live in balance and harmony with the whole. Our eco-intelligence represents the intuition about “why we are here” on earth, and it validates our need to be in a relationship with life! When we are guided by our eco-intelligence, we stop believing the lie that there is separation between ourselves, each other, and all living things. We start to remember that what we do and what we think affects all life.
When we are guided by our eco-intelligence to live well in the world, we live with a clear sense of what it means to be connected to the earth. We live guided by a clear sense of what it means to be connected to global continents, nations, and cities, as well as people of different races and religions.
We live with a clear sense that we are not just bodies walking the planet, but bodies who share a connection with our minds, emotions, and spirits. By connecting with our innate eco-intelligence, we become aware of the fact that life is supported by the exchange and flow of positive energy. Energy is the key to health and the key to life!

21 Sept 2010

Peace Day 2010