Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Afganistan will be Obama’s Vietnam

No one has a won in Afghanistan. For there is nothing to win. The country has been ravaged by a centuries of invasions and attempts to control the irrepressible tribes. All there is left is the fierce pride of the people. And the British, the Russians, the Americans have all failed to control that sense of pride and independence. All that the US will achieve by sending more troops to Afghanistan (as Obama has promised) is to embroil Pakistan into the regions violence. And then for the next decade the war will go on. President Obama says that “the US cannot allow breeding grounds for terrorists to stay free to attack the US”. But this military intervention will cause the region and Pakistan too to become an even more fertile breeding ground for younger terrorists. The motivations are completely unclear as Osama Bin Laden after 9 years of 9/11 is more a myth than an enemy. Is it worth destroying the social structures of a whole region to search for one man ? What needs to happen for the US to have completed its objective ? What is the objective ? The Taliban will live as an idea after you have killed the last standing man in Afghanistan, and will explode again unless the young men of Afghanistan have hope of better and more prosperous lives. For at this moment the only way to earn a living in Afghanistan is to either pick up a gun on behalf of the highest bidder, or grow poppy. The wealth generated from drugs is one thing that keeps the generals of Pakistan Army and the Taliban tied together, not just fundamentalism.
The Talibanization of Pakistan is going to be one of the biggest problems facing India over the next decade. The shifting of the IPL to a foreign country is just a sign of things to come. We will have a Vietnam on our doorstep and we will get embroiled in the conflict.

true grit

I am in Udaipur filming here, and surrounded by great stories of the Rana’s and the courageous warriors of Mewar. Fascinating stories that make me wonder what true courage really is ? Does true courage need an enemy to provoke it ? Does honor need something dishonorable to fight against to bring it the fore ?
We often do courageous things driven by passion, by desire for change, or in the service of others. Gandhi ji had the courage to lay his life down for freedom. People make courageous films. But in each case there is an assumption of an opposing force. Is that something that is inherent in establishing courage ?
To me courage is the ability to live. Courage is the ability to be quite ordinary and yet be content, and not see life as a huge burden. Ambition or what we call drive is often driven by innate anger, which can turn completely negative.
But beyond all that true courage is the ability to be comfortable with the unknown and welcome it as the natural order of the universe. It is not just the acceptance of death, but also the acceptance of control as the great illusion. True courage is the ability live in the moment fearlessly and with immense love with no opposing force.

Bad films justifies harrasment of young girls ?

Here is a comment by Brahmshastra, which I would like to open out for discussion. Bad films (with some good ones too) , and a level of moral corruption throughout every activity in India (including corporate India, Indian justice system, Indian administration system, Indian political system, Indian religious systems) does not justify harrassing young vulnerable girls that are trying to become part of the economic system in India rather than sit at home. It does not make hooliganism moral. But perhaps Brahmsastra has his own point when he says of Indian Cinema and the Indian corporate sector, which we should discuss :
“And of course, the hooliganism you talk of excludes the progressive bunch of Bollywood directors, corporations and such who are ‘abusing’ women on a daily basis by taking advantage of and steering them in one way or the other into promoting lust and materialism in society, and are making all this possible with money from the underworld, while probably cheating on their taxes and engaging in bribery of government officials on a daily basis. Morality is a double-edged sword.”

Hey Roger Federer ! Big boys dont cry

I saw Roger Federer’s tears as he lost the Australian Open to Nadal. It was quite heart warming to know that behind all that professionalism lay a little boy still trying to prove himself. And once the tears came so publicly, there was no stopping them. Even Federer could not help smiling at his own emotional catharsis. And he gave an insight into the years of struggle that led him to being a world champion.
I have always envied women for their ability to shed tears easily, and not be embarrassed by them. I am too conditioned now with all the training to be able to do that. Even though I as a film maker keep trying to go beyond the viewers intellect, or through their intellect, into something far deeper, into their subconscious, their own mythology, to get them to be emotionally react to what is happening on screen. And usually a provocation so deep is expressed /sublimated in tears. But in order to do that, I must explore that myth, that hidden deeper consciousness in myself. Somewhere assuming/hoping that we have common consciousness and common mythology that I have been able to tap into.
But then I am silently exploring my own hidden tears too, aren’t I ? And what is the emotional cost of keeping them hidden and only expressing them through creative work ? I wonder. I often wonder if I should express myself more openly, not worrying about containing myslelf in order to use ‘hidden tears’ for artistic expression. Poets and musicians have it better – their expression is quicker, a film takes soooo long.
But I guess in one way that is exactly what I am doing right now. Finding public expression to bubbling emotions and trying to make some sense of them as I express. In a way discovering myself and expressing myself in the same moment without too much analysis. Some logical sense yes, but not so much that it gets too logical, too mundane, too analytical.
Anyway back to tears. I do cry incidentally. I go to the Cinema and quitely shed tears in the darknes where no one can see me. That is what makes me go to Hindi Cinema every wekend in London or NY. I actually get an emotional catharsis. So ‘Jai Ho’ to all those Bollywood Melodramas !!
i was reading the NY times today and it said that while the world believed that tears were a great way to relieve deep seated stress, a large part of that depends upon your childhood. Tears are a way for children to express helplessness, and more than anything it is a way for a child to ask/plead for attention, for comfort. If in childhood the response of the parents/others to crying was immediate attention and comforting, then through their lives crying is seen as a comforting and stress relieving activity. But if not – then crying – or the learning ‘not to cry’ leaves emotional wounds that are expressed in other ways throughout one’s life.
So please pity us boys/men that were taught that to be a man meant not to cry. That to be tough meant not to cry. For we are trained to sublimate crying into achievement and competitiveness. No wonder Roger Federer finally broke down. Or footballers routinely sob when they are defeated or they win. We need extreme activity to give ourselves an emotional catharsis.
But do you also notice how different cultures react differently ? Western cultures, where emotional expression and catharsis is much looked down upon, express themselves far less. Is that why the West were the great colonizers ?

Is Pub Culture really destroying the fabric of Indian Culture ?

Excuse me, but where does this moral culture really exist, except in the fantasies of those that the media are hyping up as India’s moral brigade. In the small towns and villages of India ??? Where 10 times more women are raped and molested, abused, physically assaulted and mutilated for the mere crime of being a woman or a low caste ! There is no pub culture there. But there is a huge problem of alcoholism nevertheless.
Where young men are killed and hanged and young women are killed by their own families just because they fell in love and wanted to marry out of their caste. There is no pub culture there.
Alcoholism is a problem. No doubt. But there is more alcohol related domestic abuse against women in India by their husbands in their own homes than anywhere else. If any of the supporters of the moral policing would just care to g to one of the shelters for domestically abused women, they will know that the real problem with alcohol is not in the pub culture but at home.
And if India is progressing towards a country where men and women stand equal in jobs, status and financial independence, where we have had women as our Prime Ministers, Chief Ministers, and Cabinet Ministers, then why should men and women be treated as any different ? If drinking alcohol in a pub is immoral for a woman, they why is it morally OK for a man ?
I have seen too many families destroyed by alcoholism to be able to make a stand for excessive drinking. So what should one do ? Ban alcohol ? Lets get real. the very people who form the moral brigade will probably not go for that. Corrupt pockets are fed with that. State coffers rely on taxes on alcohol. And banning alcohol merely drives it underground, and gives the underworld goons a god sent opportunity to make money. Tourism collapses.
There must be checks and balances. But the answer is NOT to target the physically weaker sections of our people. Women. That is not moral policing. It is sheer cowardice.
And I cannot understand why the Chief Minister of Rajasthan has a problem with a girl and a boy holding hands ? He does not seem to have such a problem when the same hand raises itself in violence rather than affection.

Shekhar Kapur is an Animal Abuser

Check this out. it’s really funny


I do
because I want things done
but the more they are done
the more I want done
i ask
what did i really want to do ?
and what was really done ?
for the drug
called ‘done’
is a finishing line
that i am constantly
and breathlessly
running towards
that seems to run
away from me….


Madrid, Jordi Molla and El Greco

No, not at the zoo, but the show window of a fish restaurant inviting you to a gourmet dinner !
A view of Madrid from my hotel room
I am in Madrid to talk about a movie (tell u about that one later) but also to see my friend Jordi Molla, who played King Phillip in Golden Age. We have been great friends since, and despite being a big star in Spain, Jordi is one of the humblest persons I have ever met. We keep promising to do a film together again and even a short film would be great. Something we could shoot in Barcelona maybe, in about 20 days. Madrid is a vibrant cultural city. Cinema, art, Theatre and Opera. And then there is the food. Oh my God, by the time you have finished lunch people are already discussing dinner. Have to get away before I become a balloon.
I have been to Madrid before but every time I come, I have to go to the Prado Museum. It has some of the best works of Rubens, Goya, Rembrandt, Rafael and others. But mainly I come to see the paintings of El Greco. Yu cannot stand in front of some of his paintings and not be moved by the emotional turmoil contained in them. The only other artist that has that effect on me is Van Gough. The Prado has the largest collection of El Greco in the world. I find Greco fascinating and even at a time where expressionism in religious art could put you squarely in prison, El Greco was painting dark fantasies (he apparently went through a very dark period himself) using religious iconism. And some of his art where he broke free of the strictures of religious iconism, is amongst the most beautiful of expressionistic work I have seen even in the great modern artists.
“Art is not submission and rules, but a demon which smashes the moulds”

Mumbai terror attacks – this gets more confusing

Sitting in NY in my hotel room, trying to work out what is actually going on ! I woke up to search the internet and understood that it was all over. Now I am watching CNN and watching images of the battle still going on ! And now I am getting texts of people I or my friends knew that died in the attacks. How come such a small group continue to hold the Indian armed forces and Mumbai’s security and police force off ? And what are all the people doing hanging around watching the goings ? There is something completely tragic and surreal about what I am watching.

Nutrition vs the Karma of the food you eat. Is food cooked with love better for you ?

Sitting in the airplane on my way to New York, trying to decide what to eat, my mind wanders. I am not a vegetarian, though I would like to be. Not because it is healthy or because being vegetarian is environment friendly, but because I believe that the food I eat effects us far beyond its nutritional value. The food I eat carries the karma of the violence of the slaughter house. It carries the karma of the pain of the animal slaughtered. And I am not separate from the karma of that animal, and all the karmas of each process/person involved in getting the food to my table. Add to that Karma of my own self, the attitude and thoughts I have as I eat that food. Phew ! that is a is a lot to think about as I am chewing my food !
Perhaps the extreme yogic philosophy of eating only the fruit that has fallen off the tree, encompasses other loftier ideas of humility and harmony with nature. But why is food cooked with mother’s love always tastier and better for you ? Is there something we still have to discover about food that goes beyond the analysis of its nutritional spectrum and the daily doses of supplements we consume so massively ?
Does a prayer before eating actually make food better for us ? – I think so.