April 24, 2008

On The Success Of ‘Race’ – A Few Thoughts

Filed under: bollywood,India n Me,Movies,opinions,Random,Truth of India — Kaveeta Oberoi Kaul @ 1:20 pm
Tags: , , , ,

So ‘Race’ the racy, thriller, has grossed over a 100 crores worldwide, a thumping hit, its acceptance without a shadow of doubt an established fact. ‘Good going’.. I’d say..well well. But wait a minute, what exactly is it that we are gloating over? The success of a film or the tacit acceptance of values it ‘enshrines’.

I have seen the film, enjoyed the spirit of its mood, liked the visual treat it offered, despite the fact that in South Africa you can place the camera randomly and you’d be sure to have captured some enticing scenery, noticed the belabored look of its actors, summarily thought it to be ‘paisa vasool’ to a large extent, thus sharing in the opinion of a large mass of the audience.

Hypocrisy and doublespeak are traits I cannot boast of having mastered . . So lets get to the point without further ado. There was a time in our filmdom when every film just as it essentially comprised of songs and dances, also comprised of a hero, heroine, villain, vamp and comedian/comedienne .

Over the years comedians found themselves hopelessly out of job with the advent of Govinda and David Dhawan’s hillarious cinema where Govindas perfect timing and innate gift for comedy made him a huge star thereby making it incumbent on almost all future heroes to now display, along with dexterity in horse riding and martial arts, dancing and finally acting, comical histrionics as well, if general acceptability, read success was to be gained.

So far so good. Humor is an ingredient that is vital to our well being.. so ‘lage raho Munnabhai’..the next Big Comic Hero with a heart of gold and a mind full of simple wisdom made his way into our lives and hearts.

To cut the chase,much in keeping with the film in question, ‘Race’ has now done away with villains and vamps as well. All the four main protagonists are characters who worship Pygmalion as the goddess of Money sanctimoniously placing the acquisition of which, a virtue to be revered and in no way aberrant, contrarily wholly acceptable. Therefore the end justifies the means..and each is endowed with a mean streak that would make the devil seem holy.

And…we have accepted this film and its characters without any major discussion, debate, dissent or discomfort. In doing this we have sans platitude bestowed our vote for a class of humans where values/ morals/ethics/ are boring words, completely anachronistic in todays times. Money is the great leveler.. it transports you to another level of being where mundane moralities snick off ones aura as if de magnetised.

This is not meant to be a sardonic take on the film whose makers correctly recognised the viability of this project and timed it perfectly. It mirrors the scenario we live in. It is a reflection of ‘us’ as we are today.. maybe hyperbolic and caricatured but that can be excused as cinematic license. Nevertheless, the fact that we do not cringe at the characterisation, instead transform it into a blockbuster, speaks volumes.

Good..Why? the ‘sine curve’ syndrome presumably, will hence come into play, in a few hundred years 🙂 When ‘abundance’ of the material kind, will fail to yield peace, reverting to days of yore where happiness was a state of mind and not a bank account..this and such like truisms will come to the fore. Sweden is supposed to be the most affluent country in the world.. Do inhabitants go around with smiles plastered on their faces and peace exuding from ever pore?

Either we imbibe this truth or ..Till then… carry on ..feeding children with values that suggest ‘riches at any cost’, a rubric dictating decisions, a goal to live by.

So Race on.. to perdition.


Disclaimer: This is not a review of ‘Race’. it could have been any film with any title but a first in Bollywood where there wasnt a single redeeming character morally..So Path breaking in that sense.

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  1. How true..i agree with every word..did not think of it this way but now that i read this it seems so correct..paise ke naam pe kuch bhi kiya..murder, sex, cheat, even brithers..but yeah today sab chalta hai.. only Money speaks.

    Comment by Neha — April 24, 2008 @ 3:16 pm | Reply

  2. I agree with the fact that today the society has become too much money minded.. The words like values,morals are fast disappearing.. Things were much better in our father’s generations.. atleast in those days, people valued those things..But nowadays it has become more of a fashion to break the customs, laws and have no remorse for that.. Such is the situation that nowadays religion/gods are used for garnering support/votes.. I think this situation has arised becaused of the increased competition for everything.. Increased competition has ensured that every child has a lot of worry right from 10th till he retires.. This has resulted in increased stress and while running in this rat race, people are getting more inclined to break rules and look for easy success rather than work their way through the system. This has also created a system where one sees examples of people who made quick money by any means and it acts as a deadly lure for others to follow.. so in a way the desires are never stopping.. and there are only a few people who are caring to stop for a moment and pondering on what is the purpose of this life etc.. Those who do that are getting benefitted.. others are getting lost in the ruthless world of money and only money.. One possible solution could be introduction of some sort of religious education during the formative years.. But again the question is how? because in today’s india, the moment one speaks of religion, it immediately attracts power seeking individuals who are ready to cash in on it. This has ensured that nothing can be done on a larger scale.. so it is left to parents to imbibe the appropriate things in children..

    Comment by Rajeev — April 24, 2008 @ 8:43 pm | Reply

  3. Well said kaveetaa. Our children are facing huge challenges today because we want them to be school, college, career, ..never heard of so many suicides as taking place today by teenagers. Money is important but not The most important. Bending rules is ok..keeping them is that you are a nerd.

    Comment by Krishnan — April 26, 2008 @ 4:32 pm | Reply

  4. My dear Kav

    In my dreams, invariably I find myself to be a bird in paradise sitting calmly & content on a tree therein. Needless to say on nights when I go to bed in a even more purified state, I feel like my soul has been cast inside the Green Bird of the highest paradise, and I nibble to my heart’s satisfaction on the fruits of “Firdous” and even sip bliss from “Al Kawthar”.

    However, reality is harsher. One cannot look for the joys of heavens in the hell called earth. I see that you are still struggling to accept that the twain shall not meet. I recommend, as I have always done, to render unto Caesar what is his. While it is true that “Race” and most of our recent movies are not the bliss we dream about, but it sells and therefore it will be produced.

    Anyway, just saying a brief hello while passing by your always wonderful site.

    Comment by Shaan Khan — April 28, 2008 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

  5. Yeah speaks and how!! right from media to college admissions, from govt postings to jhunka bhakar stalls, its only money that speaks..including the judiciary!!

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — April 29, 2008 @ 5:26 pm | Reply

  6. Yes Rajeev.. I agree the solution, if one is to be simplistic may lie in education. The point however is that parents themselves have as if given up on values that elevated humans from a crass existence to one of class. Today the demarcation between right and wrong is only a signature, that of your bank account and the balance it shows. Lines have blurred, and times are challenging.
    We lack role models…We need to know those who have given up a life of luxury and wastefulness to embrace something more meaningful..either a way of life or a vocation.It is such people who need to be highlighted by the media and celebrated. Instead all we find is stories of a little girl being raped by her father, or a son killing his mother over a property dispute. How the media loves these bytes!! I have almost given up reading the newspaper or watching television news.

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — April 29, 2008 @ 5:32 pm | Reply

  7. Dear Shaan,

    Thanks for stopping by..I would definitely like to say you have been missed.Your dreams and your reality metaphorically as well “like the twain shall never meet” confusing as ever.

    As usual I disagree with “One cannot look for the joys of heavens in the hell called earth.”

    Heaven and hell are but our state of mind.I dont believe there is a ‘firdause’ save for a level of being that we create for ourselves out of our selves. If that is to be achieved, then it can be got right here and now..or then never at all.

    I dont object to films like Race being produced..Cinema is a business like any other and needs to prosper. One only wishes that films which also spoke of moralities and values be equally in the loop of audiences choice.What struck me was the fact that this was the first film which had all four characters almost characterless :)and then goes on to becoming a stupendous hit!!

    Good and bad have always co existed and always will.Its important however to express ones dismay at floundering ethics in the hope that people dont get too carried away with seemingly attractive lifestyles, inherently empty.

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — April 29, 2008 @ 5:41 pm | Reply

  8. A very good site, contains good info on yoga, meditation,bhagwad gita, upanishads ..

    Comment by Rajeev — April 29, 2008 @ 7:47 pm | Reply

  9. Kav

    Try someday to dream of yourself as a bird sitting on a tree (just sitting there doing absolutely nothing) in paradise. I understand that if you do not believe in the existence of paradise then this will be a difficult task. Nonetheless, please try. If you achieve that even for a moment, you will know from then onwards the taste of true tranquility (Peace/nirvana…). From then onwards (I assure) you will understand that God all almighty has put just through this harsh grind of reality so that he can weed out the decent folks and rewards them with something truly blissful. Heaven exist as a promise. It is in our ideals and our dreams. The pursuit of this heaven keeps us sane on this earth. Blessed are those that can dream.

    Unfortunately while we look for morality in cinema halls our religious institutions (temples, synagogues churches, masjids, gurudwaras) have been hijacked by misguided morons. Some day we will collectively wake up and realize that we cannot look for baby’s milk formula at Irish Bars. We will realize that we cannot find wisdom & intelligence in our movies, but in classrooms and at universities. That day we will take back our masjids and our temples from masqueraders. That day we will also realize that movies are a source of entertainment for some and revenue to others. Movies are just a vent, a temporary relief, a safety valve, for those that are struggling to have dreams to live for.

    I wish you all a dream of bliss. I wish all if you the ability to spread your wings and fly in Firdous.

    Comment by Shaan Khan — April 29, 2008 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

  10. Typo in previous, the last line should read, “I wish all of you the ability to spread your wings and fly in Firdous”

    Comment by Shaan Khan — April 29, 2008 @ 9:00 pm | Reply

  11. Rajeev.Thanx for the link. I had heard of the organisation.

    I am a pledged Vipassana practitioner. This is Buddhas path to enlightenment and which finally got Him His Nirvana..I have just about taken by first baby steps from about 9 years ago.

    You can also google for it..They have centers all over the world for a free 10 day course. I would strongly recommend it, if so inclined

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — April 30, 2008 @ 10:21 pm | Reply

  12. know there is a story to do with Advaita philosophy (non dualism).Let me try and narrate it to you. There was this little bird sitting on the branch of a tree..having come there for a breather after a harrowing day. He looked up and saw on the uppermost branch a beautiful Bird, much like him..only that he was all aglow, peaceful and tranquil..sitting there in all his majestic glory. the little bird looked at him and sighed.. if only he could be like him ..he thought. To have a closer look he jumped up, a branch higher.

    Soon it became a practise. He would return to the tree, immensely stressful, then catch a glimpse of the Bird and kept perching himself higher be as close to him as posssible.

    When one day he reached directly on that same Branch.. what did he find? There was no other Bird..He had been looking at himself..That was who he truly was. The idea was to merge his perceived self with his illusionary..or the real with the illusionary.

    We all have forgotten who we are. We are all part and parcel of HIM…we chose to be deceived..chose to create a universe with our little egos and little-r desires, having forgotten that true bliss was ours and is there for our asking.

    I believe in heaven as a state of in nothingness…If it is only an extension of our perceived sense of bliss, as imagined with our limited knowledge, how can it be heaven? It is just a slightly modified earth. When one reaches a state of complete peace, there is no desire for heaven either..

    Gosh..we have travelled far from Race. the point is that there is nothing stopping us from at least replicating or attempting to have a world of Perfect people. It is sad that we all consider ” Movies are just a vent, a temporary relief, a safety valve, for those that are struggling to have dreams to live for.”

    Wouldnt it have been so much more heavenly to look for solace in a person who inspires you, in an act a deed that relaxes you, makes you feel this world is a safe place, there are no threats, All are your friends? I dont know it would mean a lot to me feel loved, safe, cared for, by all and make all those who come into contact with me to feel much the same.

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — April 30, 2008 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

  13. Kav

    A profound story, something to think about. I agree that many a things in lieu of the movies would be way better. But as a movie fan I am not that unhappy about the way things are either.

    But about your little bird, it must have been one of those that deny the truth, because good deeds and success for someone who denies the truth is a mirage, an illusion. Morale of the story, find an honest bird to gain wisdom from. LOL

    Comment by Shaan Khan — May 1, 2008 @ 1:11 am | Reply

  14. Kaveetaji. Here is a book by San Franscisco SIdewalk Astronomers famous John Dobson.
    Dobson was the inventor of Dobson Telescope. A self taught man. wrote a masterpiece on Advaita Vedanta , a monograph style. If I am not wrong he is still alive and 93 yrs old.
    Here is web site to download the book. it is in Zip format.

    See below, “down load in Zip format”. If interested download. There are many chapters , but interesting ones and discussion are there in it.

    Comment by gajanan — May 1, 2008 @ 9:08 am | Reply

  15. Once you become a Sadhak or a seeker or question ” Who am I” , then you will not race to movies (like the recent ones), but engage in social work, helping others. concentrating on your work and trying to cook your own food which takes a lot of time and cleaning really well afterwards. First , question ” Who am I”

    Comment by gajanan — May 1, 2008 @ 9:14 am | Reply

  16. Shaan wisdom is a result of self study. It cannot be ‘gained’ from best one can be guided By Buddha, Krishna, Christ, Allah. But we have to walk our own path, solitary, but not necessarily lonely, if one believes the Divine is with us every step of the way.

    Gajanan ji,

    ‘Who am I’ is the quintessential conundrum that has faced and will face mankind till the end of this Bhrama cycle. WE all have our own modes of enquiry, our own karmakshetras as tools to analyse, and realise the truth. Some after millions of births are born into situations where mediatating in the Himalayas is a choice they easily make since situations are conducive.

    Others like say Baba amte are made to progress in the path of self service. Many others like me are born in situations where worldly ties and bonds are part and parcel of my life. My karma kshetra is my home, and kids. Any evolution if it has to take place will have to be stirred up from within this churning of my life within its parameters.

    I therefore try and operate from my karma Kshetra, live a true life, try to be noble in thought word and deed, tried my utmost to be a good mother, wife, daughter-in law, child, and am now trying to live up to what I feel is expected of me, spiritually.

    I realise that life is only an excuse to gain spiritual advancement. How quickly and how much is entirely dependant on our thirst for it.

    One day a disciple seated with him on the banks of the river, asked Sri Ramakrishna.. “when will I find God?”

    Sri Ramakrishna, in his own inimitable and simple style, without resorting to pravachans, and discourses, took him by the hand, immersed his head under water for a while and when the man came up gasping, breathless and choked, Ramakrishna said’ when you want Him as badly as you feel the need for air like now,you will find Him”.

    One is yet constantly falling between two stools, so to speak, worldly compulsions and the cry of the soul. TRying to find the perfect balance..hope to in this lifetime reach some conclusion.

    I appreciate your advice in spending time in fruitful, non violent pursuits above all else. I am seriously thinking the first step is to to completely stop seeing television news and reading the newspapers. They do nothing but either titillate nervous excitement or depress and derail your positivity.

    What do all of you have to say on this?

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — May 1, 2008 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

  17. Thanks kav for suggesting the dhamma site. Though it is not feasible for me to devote 2 weeks currently but will try to do join it at a appropriate time.. Here is a good article on the difficulties of a spiritual seeker

    Also, I read an article from by swami sivananda, who was the founder of divine life society.. In which he has mentioned that in leading a normal life which we call grishthashram.. apart from meditation and study of religious books, we should reduce our desires.. eg:- if one is having say 10 dresses then in one year try to reduce it to say 7-8 dresses etc.. Then another is abstaning from alcohol/smoke or meat.. I am a non smoker but i used to have a drink occassionally now in the past 1 year, I have completely stopped it.. Also I used to eat chicken or fish about once a week or fortnight but in the last 6 months I have just had it twice.. that has helped me a lot in keeping my mind calmer.. So I think we cannot suddenly renounce world and surge towards realization but if in day to day life we start with these small-2 things then they would surely help towards the final goal.. Let me know your thoughts on this..

    Comment by Rajeev — May 1, 2008 @ 9:08 pm | Reply

  18. “Darwin popularized Evolution generally, as well as making his own special contribution to it. Now the general conception of Evolution provides the humanitarian with a scientific basis, because it establishes the fundamental equality of all living things. It makes the killing of an animal murder in exactly the same sense as the killing of a man is murder. is . . . this sense of the kinship of all forms of life is all that needed to make Evolution not only a conceivable theory, but an inspiring one. St Anthony was ripe for the Evolution theory when he preached to the fishes, and St Francis when he called the birds his little brothers. Our vanity, and our snobbish conception of Godhead as being, like earthly king- ship, a supreme class distinction instead of the rock on which Equality is built, has led us to insist on God offering us special terms by placing us apart from and above all the rest of his creatures. Evolution took that conceit out of us; and now, though we may kill a flea without the smallest remorse, we at all events know that we are killing our cousin. No doubt it shocks the flea when the creature that an almighty Celestial Flea created expressly for the food of fleas, destroys the jumping lord of creation with his sharp and enormous thumbnail; but no flea will ever be so foolish as to preach that in slaying fleas Man is applying a method of Natural Selection which will finally evolve a flea so swift that no man can catch him, and so hardy of onstitution that Insect Powder will have no more effect on him than strychnine on an elephant.” – G.B. Shaw

    I do not want to make my stomach a graveyard of dead animals.” George Bernard Shaw

    This part above is for Rajeev.

    And now

    GB Shaw was one of the finest writers and was a member of the Fabian Society which created the concept of social welfare , medicare etc by the govt for the people ( the govt has to be sincere). The Fabian Socialists created this to keep a balanced view of society not giving into the hands of religious fanatics or the atheists who were on the other extreme of the society. GB Shaw took Britains class system to task when he wrote Pygmalion ( My Fair Lady) and the medical profession by its horns when he wrote the Doctor’s Dilemma. The impact of Shaw’s work had a big impact on society and there was introspection by govt and ruling class.

    The unfortunate thing now is the way Soviet Union was made to collapse, by using religion and the post 1995 globalisation scenario has made all nitwits and lobbyists and none great visonaries and thinkers. There are very few good writers now and the novels they write is not at all analytical and most of them are provocative. Even painters, paint to hurt , and not to analyse. This analytical aspect is missing on fear of loosing the job or not making money. The present food crisis is all the result of the lack of analytical thinking.

    How can one imagine USA diverting 1/3 of their maize produce to produce alcohol. Biofuels , Wah!! Wah!!!.

    So if people want maize , let them drive cars.

    Yaad Hai woh French revolution ki kahavath

    Dana nahi hai tho cake eat karo , Beta aur betiyo.

    Probably Yanks do not know the Mumbaiyya addage ” Chalti ka Naam Gadi , Rukhti ka Naam Katara” Agara Khana Nahi milega , tho yeh aadmi Katara, Gadi kya Chalayega. Phir thum kahoge , Piyo Alcohol Piyo. Agar alcohol piyega , tho pet me kuch nahi hai tho liver ka kya hoga” Liver kya , river me khudh pado is the solution many Indian farmers have taken to”.

    I may have gone a bit Zasbading , but one gets upset with the goings in the Duniya. What a way we have been reduced to. This is the reason I wrote about GB Shaw and the Fabian Society.

    Economy , technology, aur economy aur technology, paar , your social base is getting dilla, dilla as Raj Patel says in
    ” Stuffed and Starved” , we have 1 billion obese people and 850 million people trying to get do waqt ki roti”.

    The reviews of the book have been uniformly good. “It is rightly provocative, because it sends you thinking analytical after a long time” says a reviewer. I have not read it. Would like to read it.

    Here is the blogspot.

    Please surf the blog well and read in it.

    Comment by gajanan — May 2, 2008 @ 6:03 am | Reply

  19. Kaveetaji , you should start a sperate section on ” World Food Crisis” . I wish all webbers enough strength to vent their feelings on this issue , even with Nimbu Pani.

    Comment by gajanan — May 2, 2008 @ 6:10 am | Reply

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