Our lives are made up of many small moments. There may be a few occasional monumental ones. But our lives and lives’ memories are essentially built on many small moments. And yet, we often ignore them, as in, we often don’t celebrate them or revel in them or cherish them. Why does it seem to me that we live a life now that is in constant anticipation of the next moment, thereby completely underestimating the importance of the present moment?
Departing from his usual tacit style of dealing with press, pre & post releases, Mani Ratnam, this time around perhaps felt the need to put himself out there to rationalize the movie & the script because of his past few box office failures. That this movie, OK Kanmani really didn’t need him to do that to turn the table and to become a huge box-office success is a different story altogether. Yet, it was such a learning experience to listen to him talk about his vision behind OK Kaman.
Mani underlines one point over and over in all his interviews that this movie is an attempt to look at the current generation and how it deals with their lives on a daily basis. To me there is a shade of oversimplification of the script, when he says that. And may be that is intentional on Mani’s part. He also firmly adds that this movie is not to preach any message to the current generation or to the past generation. Which, after seeing the movie twice, I can agree with.
Vasu, Adi’s brother and his wife are the in-between generation in the story. But they come across much more rooted in their cultural orthodoxy than Ganapathy & Bhavani. On an unrelated note, every time Bhavani called Ganapathy by his name, I had an involuntary reactionary echo clicking inside my mind, as this is the first movie where one of the important characters in the story has my name, one which gets used quite often throughout the movie. But I digressed for a moment there. May be it was to revel in that moment? Vasu and his wife may attribute their slightly conservative outlook to they living in Chennai. But their characters lay the bridge between two different outlooks that the two couples (Adi-Tara & Ganapathy-Bhavani) bring to their lives respectively .
Adi and Tara are not representatives of the entire current generation. Perhaps, they represent a majority of such middle class generation growing up in Metros. And their thought processes are highly indicative of the times we live in. My personal opinion on the institution of marriage may have been one of the reasons, but it certainly was one of the many reasons why I could associate with Adi’s thoughts. And even with Tara’s. Not necessarily with their persona.
Ganapathy and Bhavani are the most important characters in the film. Not Adi and Tara. Right from the first moment Adi meets Ganapathy uncle and Bhavani auntie, he is being taught the lesson of cherishing the current moment. Bhavani is a first stage Alzheimer patient when the movie starts, and she progresses to Stage II by the end of the movie. Bhavani’s untreatable disease stays throughout the movie as a thread of sadness touching us deeply, but never asking us for sympathies. If you choose to ignore that sadness that was never portrayed directly on screen but only through the subtle tones & emotions brought out by Ganapathy & the childish innocence brought out by Bhavani, then you could walk out of the movie without that thread of sadness having an impact on you.
What’s more brilliant than juxtaposing an Alzheimer patient’s joy of living in a moment (and the struggle involved with remembering or dealing with the past / future) with that of Adi’s and Tara’s decision to live in the moment as long as they stayed in Mumbai, before their professional careers took them apart wherever in future..? Just brilliant. How Ganapathy enjoys every moment he gets to live with Bhavani is the most valuable lesson he could teach Adi just by having him stay with him in his house as a paying guest. Ganapathy’s absolute understanding of an Alzheimer patient’s challenges and his unconditional love (& patience) for his wife, knowing very well that she is going to forget him one day proved multiple things to Adi. Unconditional love being the most important one.
Adi and Tara breeze through the movie in sequences of beautiful moments. Those small and beautiful moments that define their lives. And the simple emotions they exchange touch us, the viewers almost instantaneously. The viewer is made to revel in those moments. The viewer is made to cherish those moments long after he/she walks out of the movie hall.
And as the viewer walks out the movie hall, knowing very well that he/she is living at a particular moment right then, one which is making him/her think about the beauty of such small moments.
And wondering if those beautiful, small moments indeed make up their lives.
As for me, I know They Do.