There is always a light

There is always a light
Don't be afraid if you are alone or surrounded by darkness. In some part of the world, the day has just begun. There is a always a light waiting for you to find your way to touch its radiance.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In Retrospect

By Pritha Lal
Springville, Utah, USA

Date: January 26th 1979
Location: Raj Path, New Delhi
Time of day: Mid morning, sunshine and the cool Delhi winter breeze
My little brother and I sat awestruck by the wonders of the various tableaus that were a part of the Republic Day celebrations. While our parents sat at the back on chairs, Jayant and I were like 2 little eager beavers upfront, right next to the long ropes that cordoned the main road of the parade from mere mortals like us. The wonderful men and women of our armed forces, the glory and splendor of agriculture and industrialization in our nation, the showcasing of the geographical beauty of the country, all interspersed with beats that gave you goose bumps and made you feel proud of your country, your people, almost in a childish naive sort of way but was heady nonetheless. Then we saw her, as if a vision of an alabaster sculpture, strong, proud, dignified, the signature hand loom sari beautifully draped, a hint of the tuft of white hair showing from under her “ghunghat”, a small glimpse of the rudraksh around her neck…Mrs. Indira Gandhi – the Prime Minister of our nation at that time. We had read about her, written essays about her father, were waiting to see what her sons would do so that all our schools would have computers. It was a proud, poignant moment for me, something that I thought of often, wrote in my next “Republic Day Parade” essay in school.
Date: January 26th 2010
Location: Broadway Theater 5 – Salt Lake Film Society – Salt Lake City Utah
Time of day: Cold, wet, wintry evening, standing in a wait-listed line for tickets to Peepli Live ( India’s first entry in to the Sundance Film Festival) , getting in to the theater, and making to the only seats left there.. the VERY FIRST ROW.
My husband Indraneel and I decided, if we sat on the first row along the side section, we would see things LARGE but at least view the entire screen without having to play tennis with our eyeballs. Settled down to watch the movie and then interacted with the director and the producer and the cast of the film during the Q&A session of the movie. 2 hours later, I felt this was one Republic Day I will remember for a verylong time. This time I didn’t have to write an essay for my English teacher, but my blog demanded my attention and here I am obliging.
What was interesting for me in terms of yesterday was that it was the 60th Anniversary of the birth of the Indian Republic; it is evident in the world community of nations, the role India plays or is seen to have the potential to play. It was a matter of huge pride when we talk about the Indian technocrats who rule different disciplines of the sciences and arts at a world arena. At a very up close and personal level, on this momentous day, a phenomenal Indian movie was screened at one of the most prestigious Film Festivals of the world. The director Anusha Rizvi made her debut as the director with this movie. The producer Aamir Khan apart from being everything that he is, has also been nominated as the recipient of the Padma Bhushan. 30 years after that vision of Mrs. Gandhi, this Republic day will remain indelible for this haloed effect of being the company of a great people in a great setting. I was under the euphoria of the feeling all through our drive back and gradually the poignancy of the day dawned at a very different level.
Bypass the glamor of the day, and once you get to the movie Peepli Live, that was an eye opener at so many different levels. A lot of readers of this page (read my sad captive audience) may not have seen the movie yet and I would hate to ruin anything for them. So in the humble attempt of adding my 2 cents worth, I will not stray from what the Sundance website says about the movie. The film does tackle a very difficult subject rampant in rural India. The starkness of the characters and the reality of the situation are made even more gut wrenching by the satirical handling of the entire issue. The humor is simple, and spontaneous but the smile it leaves after the laughter has died down, will invariably turn into a thoughtful process of introspection for anyone who enjoys this film.
The director and the producer made no lofty claims of changing the world with this movie, but merely use this platform to bring an issue out into the open.
It was not one issue though; it was a plethora of political, bureaucratic, social-economic tentacles that form the quagmire of this tale. Watch for Natha, played by Onkar Nath, who made his debut in acting with this movie. There is nothing I could say to describe the superlative nature of his performance. Watch of Raghuvir Yadav in the role of Natha’s elder brother. Natha’s wife and mother will leave your spell bound as will various other entities in their film and the role they each play or don’t play. Watch Hari Mahato and you will question who is this movie really about. It is a seamless, effortless presentation of facts, of census statistics with a story; a story real, honest, and brutally relevant in a nation that celebrated 60 years of being a “sovereign democratic republic”
So am I at cross roads about whether I feel pride or dejection about India after the movie? Well there is no question there. How can you not feel proud about being a part of a nation that thrives on the paradoxes she does? How often do you get to be part of the world community both as an example of excellence and a source of inspiration?
That is what the evening was for me.
On a very, very, very personal note, getting several smiles up close from Aamir and getting to see those warm brown eyes.. does tickle the senses at a very different level too.
Signing off for now with the sincere wish that each of you find joy and inspiration from things around you and continue to be the same for those around you.

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