Sab Kuch Likha Hua Hai

Everything in Life is interconnected with the other and everything happens for a reason!
I am reading a fascinating new book: “Written by Salim-Javed: The story of Hindi Cinema’s Greatest Screenwriters” (Penguin, Diptakirti Chaudhuri). It is the most thoroughly researched book on the lives of the famed writer-duo Salim Khan (father of Salman Khan, Arbaaz Khan and Sohail Khan) and Javed Akhtar (father of Zoya Akhtar and Farhan Akhtar). Between 1971 and 1987, Salim-Javed wrote 21 of the finest stories ever told in Hindi cinema – including Seeta Aur Geeta, Yadoon Ki Baraat, Zanjeer, Deewar, Sholay, Trishul, Don, Kaala Pathar, Shaan and Shakti. The book looks at the evolution of not just the Angry Young Man as a character, but also of Amitabh Bachchan, as a Superstar, who is considered Salim-Javed’s protégé.
Author Diptakirti Chaudhuri quotes Javed Akhtar in one of the chapters thus: “Life is strange. Sometimes if you look back, you feel like editing your Life, rewriting it. You want to change Scene 12 which is less pleasant, but the story is so well-knit, you realize Scene 32, which is the highlight of the story, will also have to vanish. It is not possible to retain Scene 32 because it has some connection with Scene 12.” Analyzing Akhtar’s quote and his lifetime’s work, Chaudhri writes: “What Javed said about his Life is also true for Salim-Javed’s scripts. Even in the weakest of their scripts, a Scene 32 would not have been possible without a Scene 12, in which it had its genesis. And it wasn’t only the links between the scenes….every motivation had a backstory.”
So it is true about each of our lives. Every motivation in your Life – and mine – has a backstory. Indeed. Everything has happened with a reason. For a reason. Everyone in your Life has come at the most appropriate time to serve that reason. The beauty – and pity – of Life is that you never know why something is happening when it is happening. Only when the event has past, only when you pause to reflect does the cosmic design become evident. As Steve Jobs (1955~2011) famously said, “You can only connect the dots backwards.” When you do connect those dots and recognize why you have gone through an experience, why you have met someone, you realize, as someone famously said, that Life’s Masterplan has (had) no flaws. And yes, as Javed Akhtar pointed out, you can’t go back and edit your Life!
Here’s a little exercise you may want to do. Take out an hour today. Sit back and think about your Life. Can’t you connect the dots today? Could you have connected them when an event was happening in your Life? Can your Scene 32 ever have been possible without your Scene 12? Didn’t person X, who you disliked so much, teach you the art of living, even as person C, who you met so very briefly teach you how to give selflessly? Doesn’t, when you look back, everything in your Life seem so well ordained, so well fitted in its own place – like a beautiful jigsaw puzzle?
Whether you review your Life with the poetic perspective of a Javed Akhtar, or whether you dissect it like the way Chaudhuri has analyzed some of the greatest stories told on screen, you will conclude that your Life too can be a movie script. There’s magic and beauty, miracle and tragedy, in your Life too. Except that your Life’s end, at the moment, is unpredictable. The climax of your story remains unknown to you even as you know that your story will end, certainly, with death. So while the end is certain, the road to get there remains uncertain. Yet, if you learn to deal with your Life, the way you will watch a movie – where you will get up and come away when the movie is over, with no attachment to the movie’s plot or the characters – you will forever be able to anchor in your inner peace.
This awareness that everything’s ordained, everything’s part of a larger plan which is beyond your control, does not mean you should not act. This is not a call to inaction. This only means that don’t fret and fume about the Life you have – or about the characters that inhabit your story. Just learn to appreciate and value everything, and everyone’s presence, in your Life. So act in every situation, but don’t get attached to the result. Do whatever you can and do it well. Just don’t complain if you don’t get what you want.

The key to intelligent living is to live with the total understanding that everything in Life happens for a reason, to complete your Life’s experience and learning. So, don’t be impatient with your Life. Go with flow. Because, as the classic line from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Zoya Akhtar, 2011; Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol, Deepika Padukone), rendered by Arjun (Hrithik) on-screen in a Spanish bar, goes, “Sab Kuch Likha Hua Hai” – “Everything’s Written”!
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Be alive in each moment in Life

Merely breathing is not being alive. Being alive is when you are in the thick and swirl of Life and are enjoying each moment! Being alive is when you are living each moment as if it were your last!
In the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011, Zoya Akhtar), there a beautiful poem by lyricist Javed Akhtar (rendered by Farhan Akhtar), that talks about what it means to ‘Be Alive’! I am sharing here the original Hindi version (in English script!) and the English translation – courtesy indicine.com.
Hindi Version:

Dilon me tum apni betabiyan leke chal rahe ho,to zinda ho tum

Nazar me khwaabon ki bijliyan leke chal rahe ho,to zinda ho tum

Hwa ke jhokon ke jaise aazad rehno sekho

Tum ek dariya ke jaise lehron mein behna sekho

Hr ek lamhe se tum milo khole apni baahein

Hr ek pal ek nya sama dekhe nigahein
Jo apni ankhon mein hairanian leke chal rahe ho,to zinda ho tum
Dilon mein tum apni betabian leke chal rahe ho,to zinda ho tum

English Translation
If you have eagerness in your heart, it means you are alive,

If your eyes are filled with dreams, it means you are alive
Learn to be free like the wind, (copyright indicine.com)
Learn to flow freely like the river,
Embrace every moment with open arms,
See a new horizon every time with your eyes,
If you carry surprise in your eyes, it means you are alive,
If you have eagerness in your heart, it means you are alive…

To be sure, you can be alive to the moment even when you are in enormous pain, as long as you are not grieving! Grief is a killer. Just as guilt, anger, worry or hatred are! When you welcome each moment, no matter what it brings with it, with open arms and are willing to accept it for what it is, you are alive!
Wishing you a wonderful and ALIVE day today!
Enjoy the original poem rendered by Farhan Akhtar here…

The Milkha Singh Inspiration: Make your Life unputdownable

Yesterday I watched ‘Bhaag Milka Bhaag’, a film inspired by the Life of ace Indian athlete Milkha Singh. Made by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, the film was, as it was intended to be, a personal story of true grit and human spirit. Mehra says that he started developing the story after meeting Milkha Singh at the National Stadium in New Delhi (where Mehra used to swim) a few times. The primary theme that appears to have inspired Mehra was the key takeaway from Milka Singh’s Life between ages 13 and 28 – Zindagi se bhago nahin. Zindagi ke saath bhago!’ meaning “Don’t run away from Life, run with Life!”

This theme is what you come away with after watching the film (Farhan Akhtar’s portrayal of Milkha Singh is absolutely brilliantly!). Afterward, as I researched on Milkha Singh, my awakening was further enhanced. Here is a person who had to face unimgaginable strife as a child, had to overcome temptation to focus, had to deal with a venomous opposition, and yet triumphed only because he refused to get bogged down by anything. Neither by circumstance nor by people. Neither by failure nor by success. He just kept his focus on the one thing that he knew how to do very, very well – his running.

For much of his after-track Life, Singh has been leading a quiet Life, preferring to stay away from the limelight even when it was pointed at him. Even now, as his Wiki Page and the movie’s Wiki Page reveal, Singh is believed to have sold the movie rights of his Life’s story to Mehra for a token Rupee 1. Singh instead has asked for a share of the profits the film is making (and it is raking it in!) for the Milkha Singh Charitable Trust which was set up in 2003 to assist underprivileged and talented sportspersons. Singh believes that if the film could “inspire young Indians to aim for and secure that elusive gold in an individual Olympic track event”, that would be reward enough for him. All of Singh’s medals, won in championships across the world, have been donated to the nation and are on display at the Indian sports museum in Patiala. Although Singh and his wife Nirmal Kaur (a former captain of the Indian women’s volleyball team) have three daughters and a son – the famous star golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, the couple adopted, in 1999, the then 7-year-old son of Havildar Bikram Singh, a soldier who laid down his Life in the Battle of Tiger Hill, during the Kargil War.
Milkha Singh: The Flying Sikh

I am just too moved by Milkha’s Singh’s story. For it is not often that you encounter someone who’s Life is his message! Whatever cinematic liberties Mehra may have taken with his biopic, the fact remains that but for his vision and effort, many of us__you and me included__will not pause in our rat races to draw inspiration from the Life of a man like Milkha Singh!

I am reminded of these immortal lines by the famous Urdu poet Mohammed Allama Iqbal (1877~1938): “Khudi ko kar bulund itna ke har taqdeer ke pehle, Khuda bande se khud pooche, bata teri raza kya hai!” It basically (not literally) means: “Make your Life so unputdownable (through selfless living) that before your next (lifetime) destiny is cast, the Creator pauses to ask you for your wish (intent)”!

Wah! Milkha! Wah!!