நீ நீயுமாய் நான் நானுமாய் புதிரிகளைத் தீர்த்துமாய் புரியாததைப் பகிர்ந்துமாய் சிரித்தும் அழுதும் அடித்தும் அணைத்தும் தனித்தும் கூடியும் தனித்துவத்தை மதித்தும் இன்றுபோல் இல்லாத நாளை நோக்கி நம்பிக்கையுடன்
“Life is a beautiful story, your story, and the best part of that story is when it changes.”
And who better knows how to write good stories than Kamal Haasan?
Six months ago, if someone had asked me if I would be writing a blog post on Kamal Haasan’s politics and his political entry in February 2018, I would have not only laughed it off, but also ridiculed the person for fabricating such a scenario.
Looking back, to be specific, looking back at the past two to three years of Kamal’s life, both on screen and off screen, mostly off screen (since he hasn’t been doing much work on screen anyways), I am not surprised that we are at this transition point on February 21, 2018, the day he officially starts his political journey as a ‘practicing politician’. As I string together the missing pages & connect the missing links, it is clear that after all, this is not such an emotional, sudden, and a path breaking transition for him. If you notice the transition now for the first time, you realize that the change has been going on for a while. Like the breaking of sunlight in the morning or boiling of water on a stove.
There have been enough hints in the past six months or so about his eventual political entry. But like many, I had chosen not to take them seriously or perhaps was blinded by my primary pinhole through which I have always been used to viewing Kamal Haasan, the influential movie star, the actor, the director, the literary connoisseur, the poet, the rationalist, the social commentator, and the passionate humanist. When it became very clear that the transition is for real, the rooted Kamal Haasan movie fan in me was very disappointed.
I was worried for the man and his eventual failure in politics.
True. I didn’t want someone I consider as a pragmatic intellectual and someone I have lot of respect for, being dragged into the kind of political dialogues and tricks that I am familiar with as the norm in Tamil Nadu. I wanted to protect the man from the operational rules of the political game and in general, how things work in Tamil Nadu politics.
Then I decided to give up on my selfish possessiveness as a fan. I didn’t quite accept the transition yet. But I was hoping that this would be more of a political commentary & social critic avatar that he would take, but in a structured way, much like the Voltaires of the world. All the while, keeping his cinematic connections very much alive. A bit more political than a hardcore activist, but a little less bounded by the rules of the game than an electoral politician. I was fascinated by the thought of how he could pull off social vigilantism using simple tools, effecting micro changes which all could add up. I was dreaming and I even imagined a few mechanisms using which he could pull that off.
That dream bubble burst in November 2017, when it seemed very clear that he was actually serious about a more direct political route. One that involved building a party ground up and eventually contesting in elections. The exact kind of politics that I didn’t want him to get into.
Fast Forward to January, 2018.
I began to feel that may be my uncertainty around embracing Kamal Haasan’s political entry was completely uncalled for. It had become abundantly clear to me that Kamal has in fact been chalking out this path for a while. All the signs of him merging with mainstream politics were always there. But I just didn’t want to look at them. These signs were in fact all the more evident in the past two-three years or so, when I try to look at his life closely.
The man is 62 now. He has gone through a very challenging and an absolutely tragic two-three years. Separating from a partner, losing his professional mentor, losing his personal mentor & brother, surviving an almost life paralyzing injury, battling with the government politically for the release of his movie, etc.
These are enough to drain a man out or enough to make a man analyze his life.
“What have I achieved till now?”
“What is left that I want to achieve?”
“And what in it is possible to achieve in my lifetime?”
It makes complete sense to me that for a man like Kamal Haasan, someone who has never been shy of voicing his opinion on societal issues, what those questions may have meant when he asked these to himself during the past 2-3 years.
Fast Forward to February 21, 2018.
Even though I am leaning towards Kamal Haasan picking February 21, 2018 purely as a matter of convenience considering all other logistical details, knowing the kind of writer & movie maker who likes to play with metaphors and symbols, that he is, I can’t help but wonder, why choose February 21 for the launch?
February 21, 1953 – It was on this day that Francis Crick and James Watson discovered the structure of DNA-molecule. The Watson-Crick model is the basis for understanding human genome. (They went ahead with sharing this information officially in a public manner only on Feb 28).
February 21, 1848 – It was on this day that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published “The Communist Manifesto” in London.
These are the two historic events that may symbolize Kamal Haasan choosing this day for his launch. Kamal being a staunch rationalist, and a strong proponent of science, there is every reason to believe that the DNA structure has a significant evolutionary symbolism as far as he forming a party & giving it a structure goes. And as for the communist manifesto, it’s quite obvious to correlate the significance.
But beyond the symbolism that the day brings, for me what is truly refreshing is to see his distinct approach to the launch of his political journey thus far. I can list many things to differentiate his approach thus far, but the one thing that has been acting as a huge inspiration and the one thing that has brought Kamal Haasan’s political journey closer to my heart, is his attempt to adopt villages and model them for future. I am sure I will have many things to say about that attempt, as that concept evolves into action.
For now, the very fact that a Tamil Nadu politician has dared himself to show results of his social consciousness and concern, without contesting in an election is reason enough for me to wish him well. Not as a fan. But as a keen political observer & as a social justice seeker.
And yes, I am no longer worried for the man and the man’s eventual failure in politics. Because I now understand that he wants to rewrite the definition of “failure” in politics.
So, a friend posted this poem on his FB wall and the moment I read it, I visualized it in a slam poetry format. Of course, this being about BITS PIlani, I connected with it right away.
The result is this experimental slam poem attempt.
(Soundcloud link below the lyrics)
Slam Poet: Vivek Misra
Programmed/Arranged by: Ganpy
white hot yellow sands
dance, myriad mirages
tribes encoded saffron
pink red orange
turbaned hardened warriors
gaze from grey eyes
at grey skies
rain of life
pitter patter pitter patter
lustfilled suns heat
sheet the land
with water cool
smell of earth
and muddy feet
rings that dissipate
the smoker thinks
camels snort, spit
at minoltas clicking
the oohing the aahing
and fair skin
versus smouldering dark eyes
the mirrors reflect
on life outside
the red-orange veil…
cows the sentinels
of nighttime bus-stand
tested and sure
while watchers watch
and smoke, their thoughts
a refrain floats
on chill air
and musky breath
“…a brilliant red
hop skip jumping
to samosas and tea
goldflake! thanda! moda!…
5 am high….
Shadow of Friendship
Between the shadow
And the light
Between the smile
And the grimace
Lies our Friendship.
Between the smoke
And the dust
Between the rubber
And the road
Thrives our Friendship.
பாரதியின் 96வது நினைவு நாள்…
A fluffy tiff with a stranger in the park
A bloated thought in a corner that’s dark
Sweet, Sugar, Love, and the Link
Cotton, Candy, and the Vision Pink
A Bike Ride
There is a bike I like to ride
Off to a place where I could hide
To ignore those who have an urge to comment
And to get caught in the blur of the moment
Having a Ball
This ain’t no fight
The ball is never outta sight
Just heeding our call
And blithely, having a ball
The Lone Keeper
Inside the Lone Keeper
A war rages on
For Inner Peace
What’s the point of living through a whole life and attaining wisdom, if you can’t share it with others? It’s utterly useless, if you ask me.
I presume, it’s that exact premise which prompted me to write this blog post.
I have decided to share my wisdom. The wisdom that is all about being in a state of uselessness and why that’s not a bad thing, as long as you are wise enough to realize that you are useless.
Before I dig myself deeper here, let us qualify uselessness. And answer some basic questions.
1) What is being useless?
2) How difficult is it to be useless?
3) Can you really be useless?
Firstly, useful or useless is a relative thing. We often associate being useful with an act that is beneficial to ‘others’. That’s where the problem begins and it’s all to do with our society. We live in a society where if we do nothing, by being still or silent and absolutely void of any stimuli, there is a negative stigma associated with it. The implication is that one is being useless. But in reality, by doing nothing, by creating that void for your mind and body, you are being extremely useful to yourself. Neuroscientists would agree with me when I say that the benefits that come out of being useless are tremendous for your own personal health.
How difficult is it to be useless?
The short answer is – It is very difficult. It needs extreme training and rigorous practice of doing nothing before you can perfect the art of being in a state of uselessness.
I am not kidding.
It was before the birth of Internet. A time when you would walk to the street and stop at the first restaurant to get food and didn’t have to look at Yelp for the 25 different choices you had within a 5 min walk radius & didn’t need to rely on the 256 reviews, before deciding to hail a cab to go to a restaurant 29 minutes away from home.
It was a more adventurous time, if you were up for it, or if you were the kind who didn’t want to torture yourself by processing information, then I guess you resigned everything to fate. Either way, this was also the time, when you could sit and stare at a tree while sitting on a park bench, and do absolutely nothing for hours together. There were no notifications or alerts to prompt you or remind you to check your phones. It was during this time, I practiced my skill. I am not saying that it was easy to be useless back then, it was a bit easier. I often had long periods of time before someone realized how useless I was. So, that kept my determination going. The bottomline is, it is much harder to be useless these days. Almost impossible. Unless, you become a Buddha and walk away from everything. Then you can try to become useless.
Can you really be useless?
I think the answer is yes. Although I am a bit split on this question. By answering this question, if I am being useful to you, then the very premise of this question is flawed. I think that somehow makes this state of being in utter uselessness a distorted reality. May be it doesn’t exist. Even when you are being useless to others, you are being useful to yourself. Right?
That makes me think.
Wait..wait..I know, I know..
You the reader, you are one step ahead of me. I know what you want to ask.
Before you ask me, let me clarify this. You are going to ask me if I thought Buddha was being useless.
I would say – YES. Buddha was able to attain all his wisdom, only after he forced himself into a state of being utterly useless. I would imagine his whole exercise would have turned useless, if he had tried to do something instead of nothing.
Buddha attained wisdom. His wisdom entailed the beauty of doing nothing and why being in a blissful state of uselessness provides one happiness. But, What did he do after all that?
He shared his wisdom with everyone.
Damn!! He became useful.
I think I have lost my own plot here. Never mind.
As Bertrand Russell says, there is much pleasure gained from useless knowledge. Hope you gained much pleasure reading this.
You can read my other posts “On such things”, right here.