If it is due to you it will come to you no matter what – or who – comes in the way!
Our close friend Sruti Harihara Subramanian’s feature documentary, A Far Afternoon – A Painted Saga by Krishen Khanna, (watch the trailer here), won the National Award in two categories yesterday – for Best Arts/Cultural Film and Best Music for a Non-Feature Film (for the composer-sound designer duo Aravind-Shankar)! A Far Afternoon, to me, is a masterly effort that showcases on film how the Life and craft of celebrated artist Krishen Khanna are intertwined. My wife Vaani and I saw the film when it was privately screened in Chennai – even before the rest of the world got to see it! I must confess that I showed up cold for the screening – I have never understood art the way connoisseurs do, I didn’t know anything about Krishen Khanna up until then (quite shameful, I admit) and I don’t generally watch documentaries; so I went literally for ‘Sruti’s sake’! Yet, the film left me in awe of the subject (art), of the protagonist (Krishen Khanna) and of the film-maker’s mind. There’s an endearing simplicity to the film-making and story-telling process that makes the viewer believe that he or she is with Krishen at the moment, in his studio, hearing his heavy breathing, hearing the clock tick and witnessing his genius mind at work. I told Vaani – and Sruti – when the film got over: “This is truly a world-class film!” While I am delighted surely for Sruti, I am not at all surprised that she got a National Award for this one.
Yet, to be sure, A Far Afternoon was a film that almost never got made the way it finally did. First, Sruti always wanted to make a feature film and never a documentary. Then when she began working on this film, she had a vision for a short 10-minute documentary. The final film is 73 minutes long! Important, when she began shooting Krishen, he was 89 years old (he will be 91 this July)! So working with him, during the shooting of the film, involved factoring in – and overcoming – several imponderables given his advanced age. Then, when the film was canned, a quirk of technology led to a substantial part of the footage ‘going missing’ from digital storage. In this time Krishen broke his arm, which meant re-shooting that part of the film, was never an option. Following several anxious weeks – and nerdy efforts – the missing footage was retrieved, again, interestingly, owing to a quirk of technology! I have seen Sruti hang in there through that difficult period. If she often felt lost, defeated, devastated, she didn’t show it. Yes, she was anxious. Yes, we knew the ‘poor thing’ had lost ‘some data’. But no, we didn’t fathom then that she had lost the footage of A Far Afternoon; the enormity of what she may have gone through while making the film – working on retrieving the missing footage and thinking of the possibility of her film remaining ‘unmade’ – struck us only after we watched it. When the National Award came her way yesterday, I realized that one of Sruti’s strengths is that she’s a ‘quiet pusher’ – someone who deals with her everyday issues of anxiety and stress, but quietly keeps pushing at her vision, going after what she’s thought through. She blushed when I made this assessment of her this morning and said, “A Far Afternoon, I discovered through making it, has a Life of its own. It was meant to be the way it turned out to be.”
And there lies the big learning for all of us in Life. What is meant to be will always be. No matter how far it is, how far-fetched it is and no matter what – or who – comes in the way. So, the best way to live Life is to go after what you believe in, your vision, and be that ‘quiet pusher’ – teeing away every single day, chipping away at every obstacle on the way. If you can, learn to drop your anxieties and let the path forward unfold, allowing Life to take over. If you must worry, go ahead and worry, but keep ploughing on without giving up. Actually, when you give yourself up to Life, you don’t have to do anything other than do what makes you come alive. If you are feeling alive doing what you are doing, then Life leads you on. And if it is meant for you, it will come to you!