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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Movies, Books, Me and the Original Sin

Blogger's Golden Rule : "All posts need not be funny and all funny things need not be blogged".

Disclaimer : I know you are here to have some fun and get a few occasional laughs. But I'm afraid I am serious at times and this is one of those rare occasions.



Movies and People



A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a story conveyed with moving images.

Movie is not just an art of story telling. There's more to movies than just song and dance. It gives people ideas, emotions, entertainment and inspiration. Most importantly, it sets you free. Free from those work tensions, free from your wife/husband, free from the parents, free from the problems of life, free from anything that is bothering you. For those 2 or 3 hours that you are there -you are transported to a whole new world where anything is possible - you can fly, you can walk in space, you can be the top secret agent licensed to kill, you can be Prince Charming or you can be Cinderella.

Now matter who you are in real life, for the length of that movie - you are unstoppable. You cry, you laugh, you think, you dream, you sing, you dance, you fight and you love. You experience so much in such a short time. It's amazing what you can feel by just sitting in a theatre and letting your senses go wild.




Movies Vs Books



Now, this is an interesting discussion. To judge the contest between Movies and Books - we need to first understand how they communicate with us. As crazy as this sounds - it is true they do communicate. After all they are both nothing but a medium of communication.

How does this communication happen?
Books communicate through language (i.e. text) while Movies communicate through audio-visuals ( i.e.motion picture). You experience this communication in your own way.

What constitutes this Experience?
If you take a sentence of any language - it generally has three parts i.e. Subject, Object and Verb/Action. Similarly, if you take an experience - it can probably be broken down into three similar parts stimulus (Subject), Senses (Object) and Perception/Imagination (Action). I'm not throwing fancy terms here but just trying to understand (along with you) what really happens when we read a book or watch a movie.

To understand the experience, we need to understand the constituents first :

Stimulus is a detectable change in the internal or external environment.

Senses are the physiological capacities within organisms that provide inputs for perception.

Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of sensory information.

Imagination is the ability of forming mental images, sensations and concepts, in a moment when they are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses.


To summarize you experience a book/movie based on the stimulus that it provides to your senses which causes you to perceive/imagine something.

For me, Books are one dimensional in the sense that there is only text while movies on the other hand are multi-dimensional with audio, video etc. And the new age 3D movies make the experience almost a complete feast of senses. Movies work with more senses than just plain text in the books. For e.g. If you see a child walking - you not only see the child but the environment surrounding the child, the way that the child is walking, whether the child is happy/sad, the time of the day and the bells ringing in the background etc. There's a lot of detail that is captured in the movie that is not possible to capture in text.


But if you take your imagination into account. Books guide your imagination and do not block it. For e.g. If I write the following sentence -
"The child is walking alone on a bridge"
For you - the bridge could be a wooden bridge on a river, for someone else it could be Golden Gate bridge, for someone else it could be a very small rope bridge across a stream.
The child could be Black or White or Chinese or Indian depending on who's reading it.
The child could be male or female
The child might be happy or sad or limping or jumping while walking.

So, the same book might create a whole different perspective for each reader. They do not share the same visuals or sounds that their mind creates based on their individual preferences.

Movies block Imagination with the visuals and audio. You are surrounded with sound and bombarded with visuals. For e.g. If you see a child walking alone on a bridge - You only see that bridge and that child and walking with that expression and you will only hear that background score. There is not much room for imagination. The choices are already made by the film maker. You just witness the creation.

Movies are more stimuli and hence the experience is more perceived than imagined. Books have fewer stimuli and hence more imagined than perceived. Now, it's an individual preference which one is better.

As a lazy bugger, I prefer movies to books anytime because
1. Movies are over in 2-3 hours and you can get back to your life knowing that the story ended unlike books which I never seem to be able to finish even after years and I am still curious to know what happens in that novel I started reading when I was 18.
2. Movies do not require a dictionary for you to understand what the heck is going on as you can clearly see when two people are fighting as opposed to reading any of the following words that can describe a fight - "battle, combat, duel, struggle, tilt, war, wrestle, fight altercation, bicker, clash, contention, controversy, debate, difficulty, disagreement, dispute, polemic, quarrel, run-in, spat, squabble, tiff, word, wrangle, contend, dispute, quarrel, quibble, spat, squabble, tiff, wrangle, bellicosity, belligerence, belligerency, combativeness, contentiousness, pugnaciousness, pugnacity, truculence, truculency, fistfight, fisticuffs, scrap, scuffle, tussle" and a million others.
3. You can watch movies with your friends. Well, you can argue that you can read books with friends at book clubs or whatever but who does that really? Have you ever read a book cover-to-cover with any of your friends? If you did, may god help you and your friend.
4. If it was such a good book, then it must have been made into a movie by now right? And I can get that great story in just 2-3 hours as opposed days/years. Speaking of which, I cannot wait for this movie Atlast Shrugged as my Russian friend handed me the printed version of it that has 1170 pages and the first thought that came to me was - maybe there is a movie already? let me imdb it. (Trivia: How many dates end with her handing you a HUGE book on capitalistic ideology? You must be thinking none but think again - I am still here! )




Movies and India



Indian Cinema is one of the largest centres of film production in the world. Movies are the ONLY form of entertainment in India after Cricket (or is it before Cricket?). It not just a livelihood for a few but it decides how, many people lead their lives. Let me tell you an example of how much Indians love movies. While shooting the movie Gandhi (1982), 300,000 extras appeared in the funeral sequence. About 200,000 were volunteers and 94,560 were paid a small fee (under contract). The sequence was filmed on 31st Jan 1981, the 33rd anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's funeral. 11 crews shot over 20,000 feet of film, which was pared down to 125 seconds in the final release. We loved Gandhi and we love movies, so when they were making a film about Gandhi - everyone in that locality showed up.

As a Kid growing up in India, you either play cricket or watch movies for entertainment. There is not much to do otherwise. If Sharukh Khan (Brad Pitt of Indian movies) or Sachin Tendulkar (the best cricketer ever) ran for government, I am pretty sure, they will win unanimously. There is no national religion of India but if there has to be one then it would be Movies and Cricket combined. Ok, if you are wondering if there is a point to all this... there is.



Movies, Me and Christianity



John till age 15, sucked pretty bad at cricket as all my friends were dicks and they would never let me play. They would just let me play coz they needed someone to field the ball ( but now, I rock at it ofcourse - not that I have better friends now { I still am friends with the same bunch of idiots, some people never learn} but I just got better by practicing). So the only other thing left to do was to watch movies. However, my family is pretty Christian, actually as christian as it gets ( Note. Indian Christianity is completely different from Western Christianity, just so you know). As Indian Christians, we are banned from watching Movies - Movies are bad, movies teach you nonsense, Movies are the devil and whatnot. Needless to say, my parents did not take me to any movies whatsoever. That's not true actually - my Dad took us to a couple of movies in my lifetime - If I remember it correctly, he took us to watch the following movies: (He was a huge hollywood fan too)

1. Jaws
2. The Spy who Loved Me
3. Thuderball (I think we saw it, but I am not sure)
4. Jurassic Park
5. Batman and Robin

So, correcting my earlier statement - According to Indian Christianity - It's ok to watch movies under parent supervision and on television but not with your friends -OMG, that is such a sin! You could go straight to hell for that - ( I never get this statement - "straight to hell" - like there is a stop in between where you party and then go to hell - what's with that? really? )



Movies and Me - The Original Sin



This is the sin that lured me the most as a kid and there were plenty of sins to choose from like not showering after school, eating without washing hands etc. I call it the original sin as this caused the fall of me - i.e. fall into the dark side (movies). Also this was the most perfectly planned sin of my childhood although it ended up being a disaster. I had to wait till I was 12 to have the balls to lie to my parents and go watch a movie. It was not that kind of movie (you pervert -we were kids) but a bilingual blockbuster hit in Telugu and Tamil called Prema Desam. I came up with a master plan to commit my first real sin. Here's the plan :

1. Get my brother involved coz then the punishment would be less if we get caught. Somehow, parents think the elder is to blame even when I do all the shit. Also, I love my brother. He was my hero. ( He was also my Wikipedia. JetLi can walk on water, Jackie Chan can climb Mount Everest - guess why? coz my brother said so. And I completely believed him. There's no other answer to any question after my brother enlightens me with an answer. PERIOD!)
2. Steal money from dad's secret locker - I never stole anything from others but just from my own house. The way I looked at it is, it's the family's money and I am family so its my money - isn't it? ( Once I took the last 100 rupee note in the locker and my mom asked me if I found any money lying around coz we really need it and that made me realize what I did and then I never stole again. She could have beaten the shit out of me and took it but she did not and hence the change in me.)
3. Come up with a story for being late from school - that was easy - Tutoring! In my school time, I've had more tutorials than actual classes in school but my grades DID NOT get any better though. (FYI, I was in the top 3 always so it was not such a big deal)
4. Catch a train back home from the movie theatre as we live right behind a railway station and the movie theatre is just a minute away from the next train station - Who buys a ticket for a train really? It's government property - In democracy, government is a servant of people and I am one of the people so the train is actually ours i.e. mine to ride for free whenever I want and to wherever I want.

It was a difficult job to get my brother into the whole grand scheme of things. He is not that big fan of Telugu movies - he likes action flicks and hollywood stuff. Convincing him to watch a Telugu romantic movie was the hardest part. After that was accomplished, everything else fell into place. We lied and we went to the movie - had so much fun eating a Re.1 popcorn packet - it actually lasted for a whole 2 seconds and the samosas we bought were gone before we started eating it. My brother still thinks I ate it all - and he's right. I am such a pig sometimes. Well, if you had one of those - you will be too.

The movie was really good, it was about friendship and love triangle basically Pearl Harbour without the war and without someone disappearing for a while and without all the cool graphics and without the love scenes. It was a classic. Like all movies, even this movie although a classic came to an end and then reality sank in. We had to go home.

We were singing the songs from the movie while walking back to the train station little did we know that this night was not over yet. As always, my fate interrupted and the train was delayed by an hour and half. Now, we were going to be in deep shit. Our parents were surely waiting for us to get back home and we were in soo much trouble. FYI, when Indian parents are mad - the kids have scars. Not that they are necessarily evil but those scars are reminders for us kids of the bad things that we have done. I am now such a good person coz my parents used to beat the shit out of me when I tried to even think of doing anything evil. Even today, I think of my mom before doing something crazy. Don't worry it's a good thing. Trust me!

Anyways, getting back to the story - we reached home at 11:30 in the night. We were stupid enough to think that we could just sneak in and wake up next morning as if nothing happened. But as soon as we snuck in, all the lights in the house came on. My mom was standing right in front of us. I still remember her face very vividly. She had this expression that I have never seen before and I normally manage to squeeze out a lot of expressions out of her. I knew I was in shit deep up to my neck - heck even my brother's neck (he was taller than me at the time but now I have out grown him ) for that matter.

I was ready to get crucified and say my last prayers when I saw my Mom bring out my Dad's BIG leather belt. That was the ultimate weapon. Anyone who sees that belt must have done something really, really bad. I was pretty sure I deserved it and that my funeral will have my own meat curry. I once saw my Dad hit someone with that belt, I do not remember who but I remember that he cried for days. So, THE BELT was gonna be used on us anytime now and there was no escape. My Mom was standing at the only exit to that room and she had a weird look. I knew it was the judgement night and my first sin ever awakened the evil in my Mom. I closed my eyes and prayed that it ends with the least amount of pain and scars.

One minute passed and nothing happened. Two minutes passed and nothing happened. I opened my eyes looking to to see God or the Devil as I was pretty sure I was dead and was actually happy that I did not suffer at all. But to my surprise, it was my Mom. She was handing us the belt and she said "Go on, take it and hit me!" I could not believe my eyes and ears. How was this possible? I mean HOW? A minute ago, I was pretty sure she was gonna kill me and now this? What is going on? This must be a trap. What do I do?

Amidst all this confusion, she spoke again. She said "It was my fault to raise you like this. It was wrong of me to trust you and give you the freedom. How stupid was I to think that my sons would never lie to me? blabalababla ..... more blalablalba ..... even more blabalalbbla...

My ears shut down at that point and I was brain dead already. If you think I am a dramatic, you should meet my mom. If I am a soap then she's the opera. And a grand one that lasts forever. Needless to say, there were dialogues, punchlines, tears and a lot of promises that we made. Fortunately, there were no scars from that night. No physical scars at least.



Movies and Me - The Original Sin (Aftermath)



From that day on, I wish I can say I never lied to my mom but who am I kidding? I did lie even after that, I did go to movies even after that, I did sneak in even after that but I just made sure my mom would not catch me again. May be she knew but she did not bother. Well, that was my first sin folks. My first movie without permission. And since then I have become a huge movie buff and even now I watch a lot of meaningless crap and continue to enjoy it.



THE END

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