Reel Life – Real Life


I am quite certain I have seen a fair amount of Life. I have seen births, deaths, love affairs, flings, break ups, divorce, being jailed (not me, please. it’s too early.), being sued (not me, please. it’s too early)., cheating, disappointment, happiness, debt. And of course, there are film parallels for every experience. after all, all life, like all literature, and all pop culture, is based on one meta narrative, one meta text. Everything is but a derivation.

Remember the scene from the Dead Poet’s Society where all the boys stand up on their desks and speak out ‘Captain, oh my Captain!’ and Robin Williams smiles, salutes them and walks out of the classroom? In Class 7, my English teacher Mrs B on her last day at the school , tells everyone ‘girls, I am going. you were a noisy lot.’ and as she walks out, all of us break into spontaneous ‘yayyyyyys.’ not as inspiring, but the collective relief felt was real.

Another time, when the Man I Thought I Loved Forever decided that he wanted out, and as I broke down, in my pretty little house in Hyderabad, I was channeling all those movies dealing with relationships and giving up on people. not the best experience in life. There is a scene in keeping the faith, where Ben Stiller says Jenna Elfman does not understand his religion and it’s a sad thing because it’s a part of him and Elfman counters she loves him because of his devotion to his spirituality. It’s what makes him. Two people saying the same thing, but unable to understand each other.

In Nostalghia, in what is the longest scene without any cuts in the history of film making, Oleg Yankovsky crosses the river bed with a flickering candle. if the candle goes out, he must do it all over again. The scene was 8 minutes and 45 seconds long, and it sums up the 8 days I spent sick with a viral fever of 104, worrying about my dad who was getting open heart surgery in Apollo Chennai. Never again will I put myself up to such waiting and watching.

During my years as a teaching assistant at Akanksha, I saw kids bruised and yet getting up, kids who were 15 and could not sign their own names, and yet were willing to learn from scratch. On a particularly bright afternoon, we were in the junior classroom, shut all the doors, and we danced around and around and around to ‘sunshiney day.’ Just like how Mary Poppins sang a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down! Just like Maria and the children chasing the clouds in the mountains of Austria and shouting/singing fa, a long long way to run!

When I was in school in Visakhapatnam, I went on a trek to Dolphin’s Nose with school friends. It was our version of a road trip, because although for a day, and on foot, we bonded and laughed and jumped into the water. It was our version of going to Whitecastle, complete with the dirty toilet humor. but glucose powder replacing coke. For the longest time, Harold and Kumar were the boys I wanted to date.

And as I am writing this, I feel like Kane, recounting my life’s experiences. I just wonder which is the rosebud I will call out for.


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