Ideas, Masks and Men

When I say this is my blog, I mean just that. It is Mine. As such I am free to write about whatever catches my fancy, and I can write just about anything on those subjects. However, there have been a few topics on which I have repeatedly thought of writing, and yet, every time I have tried, I have sat looking at a blank screen and then given up.

What have kept me is the serious doubt whether I can do justice to the topic or not. And when I say that, I don’t mean Einstein’s Theory of Relativity or Shahid Afridi‘s age. I mean everyday things that anybody can experience. Books that I’ve read and loved, movies that I have watched and enjoyed, music that has touched my heart. Now common sense indicates that such things would be relatively easy to talk about. Also, since I have liked them a lot, that appreciation would ensure a decent enough job of writing about them. This, sadly, is not always true.

Here’s what and why :

atlasshrugged71Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand : This book changed my life. It changed my idea of the world, shattered a hundred stereotypical misconceptions that I had, and most importantly, gave me an entirely new conscience. It made me proud of things I used to be ashamed of. It made me question and then contemptuously discard a dozen misplaced myths that I used to consider gospel truth. I have got so many things to say about this novel that I could never figure out where to start and where to finish. Read it, please, if you haven’t. It’s long and boring at times, and you might end up hating the philosophy Rand preaches. In either case, I can assure you that the idea will stay with you for life.

Here’s one of my favorite lines from the book :

“I never found beauty in longing for the impossible, and never found the possible to be beyond my reach.”

v-for-vendetta-poster2V for Vendetta : This 2005 movie told the story of a shadowy freedom fighter known as “V” in a fascist Britain of the future. We Indians are inevitably brought up with an overdose of patriotic movies, music and literature. Ironically, it was a story set in Britain that shows the idea of freedom like I’ve never seen before. It shows how freedom is not just a political idea but an intensely personal one as well. What becomes of life and society when things we take so easily are taken away from us : freedom of speech, expression, thought, choice. How supreme sacrifices can and should be made for beliefs, ideas and ideals. As I write this, I can see that I am making a mess of describing it. Well, that’s why I never wrote anything on the movie. I am not capable of putting that much of fierce, untamed power into words. There’s…something in that mask, all that sinister poetry and that completely unshakeable conviction that keeps you awake at night, gives you goosebumps, makes you wonder.  After all, as “V” said,

“Behind this mask there is more than just flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea… and ideas are bulletproof.”

The-Dark-Knight-posterThe Dark Knight Trilogy : Okay, I know this would sound odd, especially because of the previous two. Some people would holler that those are freaking superhero movies, for God’s sake, and as such should not be taken so seriously. With the utmost respect, I would like to suggest that you should have paid a little more attention. It is also my humble opinion that the best thing in the trilogy wasn’t the near perfect Joker played by Heath Ledger. It was the human side of Batman, Nolan’s depiction of the tortured man beneath that mask. It was the endless conflicts that Bruce Wayne faced. It was in the way Christopher Nolan made every single character face their own demons and make choices that would come to haunt them for the rest of their lives. Again, I never did it because I was afraid I would either make it too short or too long. Best line from the trilogy? Easy. The Joker said it,

If you’re good at something, never do it for free.” 


26349 Pan_Shanataram_cov.inddShantaram, by Gregory David Roberts : The best thing about this novel is the incredible story. The next best thing is the message of love and faith that is weaved beautifully within the storyline, not once sounding preachy. It’s the story of an escaped convict’s life in India, mostly in and around the city of Mumbai. First of all, the story is so incredible that it’s got to be true. Critics will smirk and say that the amount of truth in a story is irrelevant. But you wouldn’t say that, especially if you have experienced India in any way. Indian slums and beggars are something numerous foreign writers have written volumes about. This book, among many other things, tells you about the men and women who live there. It doesn’t try to show us their plight or misery. It chooses to show us how they can find happiness and purity even in such a place, fighting impossible odds. With this book also, the problem has been one of choice. There’s nothing that’s too small to leave out. And if I want to cover everything, I will end up writing a small book myself. My favorite part of the book is the very ending.

For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other… Think. Act. feel…. Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day…. For so long as fate keeps waiting, we live on.” 

If you’ve read this far, I’m sure you are already thinking of things which have left a similar impression on you. Would love to hear about them. As for the above, someday I’m gonna talk about them, and I’m gonna talk a lot.


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