Go with the flow of Life – resisting it is pointless!

The most evident truth about Life is that it simply goes on! And you and I are like the ‘musafir’ (voyager) in the opening song of Parichay (1972, Gulzar)…we have to just keep walking…‘bas chalte jaana’…!
This is the big message I picked up watching Masaan(2015, Neeraj Ghaywan) the other day. It is the most thought-provoking, poignant film I have seen in a long, long time. It deals with a young lady coming to terms with the death of her boyfriend when the police raids their room in which they are making love. A parallel story deals with a young boy, from a lower caste (his family burns corpses at the riverside crematorium), aspiring to woo, court and marry an upper caste girl. The girl is willing but soon dies in a bus tragedy along with her entire family. The boy struggles initially to reconcile with his loss – he ends up having to cremate her body! But eventually he manages to move on. Both story arcs converge as the film ends, with the young lady meeting the young boy on a boat and together they ride onward…
Set in Benares, Masaan has been winning acclaim on the international film festival circuit. And has earned praise from critics and viewers alike.
Vicky Kaushal as Deepak in ‘Masaan’
Picture Courtesy: Internet
To me, however, Masaan portrays the ever-flowing nature of Life. The young lady has to handle her guilt, her grief, over a choice she and her boyfriend made. Her father has to live with the ignominy of her choice. Together they have to face a corrupt cop and raise a ransom amount for the charges against the lady to be dropped. She tries to seek closure by going over to apologize to her boyfriend’s family, but they don’t want her apology; they ask her to get out! In the parallel story, the young boy has his father’s support to quit the corpse-burner tradition and profession. He has his girlfriend’s assurance that she is willing to even run away – should the families disapprove – with him provided he gets himself a job. He’s almost certain of getting that job when she dies. He has to deal with his demons. His depression almost ruins his career prospects and he’s on the verge of being a corpse-burner all his Life. But he realizes that unless he moves on, he will only be trapped ‘where he is’ and remain depressed. A state that will serve no purpose, he reasons. So, with great difficulty, he picks up the threads of his Life and lands himself a job. As both the young lady and the boy move on, they meet each other…
Indeed, there are no pauses in Life. It simply goes on. As long as you are alive, you have to keep walking, you have to keep going with the flow. You may not like whatever is happening to you. But you have to face it, you have to live through it. When you hate whatever is, you will suffer. Here’s the nub: you can’t prevent Life from happening to you. But you have the choice not to resist Life. And nothing, nothing really, is the end of the road, until you are alive, until you die. Period.
I talk from experience. On December 31st 2007, when I sat with Vaani in our bedroom and surveyed our Life, it seemed impossible to go on. We had just Rs.2000/- left with us in Life. And we had over a million dollars in debt. And no work. Yet, almost 8 years on, we have survived and lasted to tell our story. We still don’t have enough work – not even enough to cover our living expenses – and our debt remains unpaid. But we move on…living each day, working hard, facing our realities – court cases, police complaints, cashlessness at some times and very frustrating material scarcity at others – and believing that all this too shall pass.

There is no other way to live Life. It is what it is. You have to accept what is, keep working on what you want it to be and, in the process, exercise your choice to simply be, well, happy with whatever is. It is when you don’t live Life with this clarity and understanding that Life is miserable. Go on, go with the flow of Life. After all, there’s isn’t any point in refusing to flow it! 

Learn to flow with Life – savoring both the highs and lows

Not everything in Life can be explained. It’s inscrutability is what makes Life interesting.

Last evening a few of us friends got together and sang songs late into the night. Among them were some songs composed by the legendary Rahul Dev Burman (1939~1994). As we sang “Musafir Hoon Yaaron, Na Ghar Hai Na Tikhana, Bas Chalte Jaana Hai…” (Parichay, Gulzar, 1972, Kishore Kumar), one of us recalled that RD composed this song, dripping wet after a shower, because he was inspired by his friend strumming a guitar in his room while he was in the bath! Everyone agreed wholesomely that RD was an unparalled genius. Someone then pointed out that it was RD’s death anniversary! It was on January 4, 1994, that RD had passed away. It was indeed a tragic, premature end to a glorious, prodigal Life!

Starting with “Aye Meri Topi Palat Ke Aa” (his father SD Burman used this song in Funtoosh in 1956) which he composed when he was just nine years old, RD ruled Bollywood through the 1960s, 1970s and the early 1980s. He composed music for over 300 films and practically every next generation, which followed him, musician in the industry had worked with RD, learning at his feet, at some point or the other. During 1984~1994, RD’s career flopped miserably. He is believed to have gone from studio to studio, asking film-makers for work. But no one wanted to touch him even with a barge pole. The disco generation had arrived and Bappi Lahiri’s music was scorching the charts. Not that RD had stopped making good music. In fact, what is ironical is that some of the music that RD scored in the 1984~1994 decade, including films like Manzil Manzil, Zabardast, Izzazat and Parinda, is considered “genius stuff” today, long after he is gone. In a fan mail to RD in today’s Hindu, Bishwanath Ghosh (who calls himself RD’s greatest fan), writes: People are usually forgotten after they die; it happens to the best of people — at the most, they are perfunctorily remembered on their birth and death anniversaries. But you made a stupendous comeback after your death. When you died, you were R.D. Burman, the composer. When you returned, you were R.D. Burman, the brand. A mortal resurrected as a magician. Today, every young composer wants to be you.”  Interestingly, RD never won a National Award in his entire career, and won only three Filmfare Awards – one of them for 1942: A Love Story, posthumously! Today, RD is revered in Bollywood. People truly worship his music and his legacy. India Post, in May 2013, even released a postage stamp in his honor!

Yet, some unanswerable questions haunt us! Why did his career flop in that painful decade? Why did film-makers who had made their millions on his music like Nasir Hussain (who had used RD for each of his films starting with Teesri Manzil in 1966, but did not use him for Qayammat Se Qayammat Tak in 1988) dump him? How is it that the music of his “flopped” films in that decade are now treated as priceless gems – a testimony to his wizadry with sounds and instruments in a non-techno era?

The answer to all these questions – and more – is only one: Such is Life! No one can ever be on top always. What goes up, has to come down. Talent, sincerity and integrity cut no favor – in fact, they offer no guarantee whatsoever – with what hand Life deals you. Even so, despite its mystical quality, Life is beautiful. Not knowing what will happen next makes this lifetime interesting and fills it with adventure. The best way to live Life, therefore, is to go with the flow – not get carried away by success nor get beaten by failure – savoring both the highs and lows!

The bigger tragedy of RD’s last years was he became bitter about the way Life had dealt with him. He died a heart-broken man, hurt that he had been ignored and shunned by the same people who had once celebrated him! RD’s story offers us this invaluable lesson: the only option we have is to live with whatever Life gives us. If we take this approach to Life, we will be better from each experience that we go through.