Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bourne Again

The most famous global citizen living in Amnesia is Jason Bourne.  Hollywood has squeezed the towel dry for every molecule of profit to be made from a most intriguing character created by Robert Ludlum.

Somewhere in between was this piece of magical movie making called “Momento”. Never seen a plot being narrated backwards so well. It also has do with a memory immigrant.  Then Aamir Khan got involved in a Hindi version and killed everything clever about it.

Yesterday I saw a movie called “Mumbai Police”, a Malayalam movie. Great flick. Also based around a memory loss premise. What happens when you suffer a memory loss on the cusp of cracking a case? 

I had a brief personal experience after an accident. I couldn't remember a thing for about 2 hours including who my two close friends were, who were with me when it happened and took me to the hospital. Its another matter that many would gladly have memory loss about having ever met me.

But this isn’t about the movies. But some observations on the memory thing.

You forget everything that happened. But the stuff you’ve trained your mind and body to do works as good as before. Its like that magic writing pad you had as a kid, just pull the foil up and everything on it is erased and you have a blank sheet again.

Most of the stress, trauma and bad stuff that makes life tough is about remembering all that. When you beat up a kid, screamed at your wife, banged the car after a big party, humiliated by the lousy boss at work..etc. If miraculously, you couldn’t remember all that...every day, wow! Life would be the same joy of a kid discovering  the world!

Plus, no one blames you for whatever happened then…once they know it! Of course, this lays you bare for certain things like that email from Nigeria about the $10 million bounty that awaits. (Also your mortage, credit card and telco services providers won’t be happy you’ve forgotten their bills).

So, the net effect is no more daily stress but with all the talents and faculties intact (hopefully physically as well). Sounds like a win-win.

The obvious question is then, why do we want that person to recover his or her memory? Our need prevails over their likely happiness?

Its like being born again. A second life without a trace of the gore of yore.

There’s something else I’d like to point out here…..

….but I can’t remember.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Bolly Good History Class

A priest interviewed at the Live Aid venue back in the mid 80s had this to say about the intersect of his chosen life and a concert featuring anarchic music.

“Just because you’re doing something serious, doesn’t mean can’t do it with a sense of fun” (or something to that effect).

That resonated. Short term, it justified the wilder side of my student life. Longer term it has stayed with me as an approach to life.

A couple of days ago it just occured to me that yet another  reason why children hate school is boring text books. There’s stuff you can’t duck - like maths. There’s other stuff that’s a battle of attrition - does the book run out or the student’s patience? Normally Sopor wins.

Let’s take an example:

Climax of Bollywood film. Hero is beating the sxxt out of the villain (of course he won’t use his gun on a guy who’s raped and killed his whole village etc). At some point, the film’s scheduled time runs out, the hero has displayed his mastery over kung-fu, swordplay and stunts - and the director wants the “kill” sequence rolling.

Villain : “Tum mujhe nahi mar sakte, Vijay*. Tumhari behen mere ko rakhi bandti hai!”
Hero  :  “Arre gadhe, rakhee ki parampara pandrah sau ke bad hi hau tha. Yeh picture to gyarah sau ka time ka hai”.
…..and plunges the sword in where it matters, to thunderous whistles and applause from the audience. Jhakaas picture, bhidu!
(Ok, ignore all factual veracity of that bit).

* alter “Vijay” to suit your vintage to “Rahul” or “Chitraakh” - these days the exotic Sanskrit names are popular.

Translation :
Villain : “You can’t kill me. I’m a rakhi brother to your sister”
Hero : “ You got the dates wrong, buddy. Rakhi didn’t mainstream till 1500 AD, and this plot is a 1100 AD plot!”

Watchers instantly pick up the original date of “rakhi”, and the fact that “rakhi” is a significant cultural thing. Its more likely to stick. The way Munnabhai shifted October 2 recall from “dry dry” to the great man’s Birth Anniversary. (“Lage Raho Munnabhai”).

At pre-University college in Bangalore, we had political science as a subject. A lot of the stuff was boring civil laws, constitution etc. Luckily we had a suit wearing, smoking, (and occasional beer) drinking Brahmin teacher. He’d just crank up the nautanki to counter the high Yawn Quotient of the course content.

Our children suffer immensely from the sheer volume of stuff to be read and remembered. Boring text books add to the pain. India has a natural cultural strength of “nautanki” - theatrics. Its why our movie industry has churned out at least 400-500 theatric movies every year for decades - way ahead of Hollywood.

We are emotional folks who relate easily to such feelings. Bringing this to text books could be a win-win.

Students will still be killing themselves to compete - they’re all smart and capable. But at least they’ll die laughing. Anyone got a problem with laughing children?