Even as my 100th Conversation comes up on Saturday, April 13th, I am marveling at the magic and beauty of Life.
- all of them have been non-commercial
- they represent the most consistent effort in Chennai to curate and host live, reflective, Conversations on Life and Happiness
- they have featured a whopping 164 guests in 4+ years and
- they have been curated and hosted through the darkest time of our Life – for Vaani and me!
To be sure, our 11-year-old bankruptcy endures; a phase that has often been marked by long spells of worklessness and pennilessness. Yet, each of these 100 Conversations has been therapeutic; each has helped us to learn, unlearn and share Life lessons.
So, as we host this 100th Conversation, Vaani and I are soaked in gratitude – we will remain eternally grateful to Life for this transformational experience; without the bankruptcy, we would not have understood that Happiness is really being non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering, we would not have set out to share this learning with our immediate circle of influence: through my Blog, my book ‘Fall Like A Rose Petal’ and through our Conversation Series’.
Saturday last week started with Vaani and I watching the “Petta” trailer. To us, there was nothing remarkable about it – except that he is most likely playing his age; it had all the trappings of the film ‘Rajnifying’ the audience though!
And Saturday ended for us with a spectacular, out-of-this-world, T M Krishna concert; his only live performance this Margazhi!
As #BlissCatcher Sriram Ayer (Season 1, Oct 2015), of NalandaWay, introduced the concert, he talked about how much venom had been spewed on social media over Krishna, over NalandaWay, and over the two partnering for this concert’s cause, to raise funds for the Chennai Children’s Choir. I had read some of those comments as they appeared on my timeline. They were not just distasteful, they were pathetic; they showcased how much our society – the educated lot, mind you – has got stuck with the insipid discourse on religion, caste and hatred, all of this in the name of ‘protecting and preserving culture and tradition’.
As I sipped my coffee on Sunday morning, I asked myself why do we, as a people, think it is OK being #Rajnified while it is not OK being #Krishnafied?
I guess the answer lies somewhere between what we can’t do – being like Rajnikanth – and what we don’t want to do – being like Krishna.
Rajni is an actor, a Superstar – everyone clearly cannot be that! His screen persona feeds our wannabe sentiment somewhere. We can’t be that, so we drool over him; we celebrate even his most mediocre efforts in the name of keeping his Superstardom alive – for our own aspirational needs! We can’t be that, so we need him, even if he is inaccessible and very, very distant! (PS: Having said all this, I must confess I respect Rajni for the person that he is – humble and sincere; I only wish he was not trapped in his on-screen image and truly explores his fullest potential as an actor!)
Krishna, on the other hand, is like you and me – he is ordinary, accessible, and has the guy-next-door persona. Yet, he has done what many out there don’t dare to do – not that they can’t, but they don’t want to – which is, he has followed his bliss, music; he asks questions on why irrelevant tradition must not be dumped, he works with change-makers to democratize the art form, he pauses and asks important, must-be-asked, questions to the government and, most significantly, he chooses to be himself. He has chosen not to be trapped in society’s image of who a musician must be or what a musician must do. Now, all of what Krishna is doing can be done by anyone. But people don’t want to do it. So, they spew venom; they find it easier to hate someone, who is like them, who has broken ‘tradition’!
But the beauty is, as Sriram pointed out, 1200 people made the pilgrimage to the Mutha Venkatsubbarao auditorium on Saturday evening, to show that love and unity can thrive in an environment where hatred appears to be extending its vice-like grip. And, I believe, whoever was there that evening, loved Krishna’s concert.
I surely did.
As I see it, Krishna’s is not even a music performance; he is not performing because he has an audience; or that he has to perform ‘for’ the audience. He is not in music for the living; he is living for – and because of – his music. So, whenever he sings, he is exploring the spiritual depths of ‘his’ art. How else could he have combined two (as it appeared to me) different compositions where he sang about 1. weeping inconsolably and 2. the Lord’s lack of compassion? How else could he have taken all ‘his’ time to delve into the magic and beauty of ‘Srirangapura Vihara…’? How else could he have so seamlessly blended with – the surprise of last evening – the Chennai Children’s Choir to deliver such inspiring, elevated, renditions, including the closing piece, Tagore’s ‘Momo Chitte…’ in beautiful Bangla?
In Krishna’s daring to be who he is, he is not saying that only he can do it. He invites us as a society, as people, to debunk hollow beliefs and traditions; he is suggesting, if he can, you too can: you too can partner in creating an inclusive society, where religion, caste and art are not held hostage by a few as if it were their fiefdom; you too can look at the Emperor, like that metaphorical child in the fable, and say “No clothes!”; you too can be who you want to be – and not be stuck in society’s definition of who they want you to be!
I am reminded of Rumi’s immortal line: “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy!” Vaani and I live – despite our circumstances – doing things from our soul, so we know what it is to feel that river move in us; I am sure, Krishna feels that river moving in him too…
And so, I believe, you can feel it too…you don’t have to even be #Krishnafied, just be #Youfied…love yourself, celebrate yourself, be yourself, be happy…and let us together stop feeding and/or spreading hate…
My Standard Disclaimer applies: I have no knowledge of classical music (so, I have no learned/rasika point of view to offer a comment on anyone’s performance)…all I share here is what I have felt of what was sung or said.
Intelligent living is all about each one doing their manmarziyaan and finding their own paths – and discovering themselves – in the process.
Manmarziyaan is a must watch. It is a very important film. It purposefully drives the crucial theme of the irrelevance of the institution of marriage while making a beautiful case for explorations and experiences, for companionship, for honest conversations and for relating between two people for their relationship to thrive.
No, I am not going to exactly review the film here from a cinematic point of view. As a story, as a creative effort, it is what it is. Even so, I am delighted that Anurag Kashyap made it this way – for it does allow for us, as a society, to glean perspectives for simpler, intelligent, living!
What is interesting about the story is that Kashyap’s principal characters – the Baggas, the Bhatias and the Sandhus, and Kakaji – are all real; they are all around us. Yet, in Kashyap’s world they demonstrate a higher degree of maturity, they are willing to give each other space and time; they showcase how society should really be – mature, letting everyone just be!
I love it that Kashyap’s Rumi dares to enjoy, celebrate and explore an experience with Vicky. I love it that she sees beyond the physicality of her relationship with him, that she demands something “more” from him. I love it that Vicky is dreamy, demonstrative, obsessive, romantic and yet clueless about what he wants from Life or what he can give Rumi, besides himself! I love it that she is angry enough – as people normally will be – when he dithers for the nth time and chooses to finally, finally, walk out on him and goes on to “merely please” her family. I love it that she still pines for Vicky’s presence in her Life and that she goes on to fulfil that craving even though she has married Robbie. I love it that Robbie, even though he struggles with the “uniqueness” of Rumi’s daring nature, allows Rumi the time and space to make a choice only because he truly loves her. I love it that no one – not the Baggas, not the Bhatias, not the Sandhus – judges Rumi just because she has had this explosive, open, in-the-face affair with Vicky, even when he is commitment-phobic and even when things don’t work out “well” for her – either with Vicky or with Robbie and their marriage! I love it that Rumi and Robbie decide to annul their marriage without any acrimony – and, in fact, it is only because of their choice to be this way do they open up to each other. Their long walk is a metaphor for how relating between two people really happens – it comes only from being brutally honest, consistently, over time. I so love it that Rumi and Robbie finally come together without a social framework – a.k.a marriage – governing them; without their families obsessing over them; without Rumi being crucified or having to atone for the way she once was.
Now, this is the way a mature society must be – people must just do what each one thinks must be done at a given point in time; speaking their mind; letting people around them be and allowing Life, people and events to sort themselves out! Intelligent living is all about each one doing their manmarziyaan and finding their own paths – and discovering themselves – in the process.
So, to me, Manmarziyaan is an invitation to us as a society to pause, reflect, accept, transform and move on. Let’s begin by understanding and accepting that marriage need not be central to the idea of a family. So, please, let us stop obsessing over getting our children married off the moment they become adults. Let us appreciate that once they are adults, our children have every right to explore varied experiences – physically, emotionally – and with companions whose presence they enjoy. And for heaven’s sake, neither is being virgin a virtue, nor is having sex a sin! Of course, since we raise our children with humanitarian values, we must also trust them that they will make mature, responsible choices. Over time, as they get to know each other better, it is perfectly alright too for two people to want very different things from each other or from Life. In which case, it is just as fine for them to move on. So, as you can see, marriage is neither necessary nor essential for bringing or keeping two people together. For them to continue being with each other, they must relate to each other, they must celebrate each other’s presence and they must complete each other. This can happen only when they are seeing each other, not just physically but figuratively too, naked – with no masks, no social veils, no agendas. When two people can relate to each other, they don’t need any social acceptance or approvals, then they are truly loving – this is not love; this is loving – in the present continuous! They then don’t need the framework of a marriage, they don’t need the crutch of religion or rituals, they just are happy in each other’s presence, no matter what the circumstances are.
Only such a union truly celebrates the essence of what the 13th Century Persian poet Rumi famously said about loving: “Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”