Kannada: Telling Stories is a Good Deed!

Some movie makers capture the imagination of serious movie watchers all over: Kurosawa, Ray and Bergman, for example. And when someone of that stature dies, you are bound to get great responses, poignant, nostalgic, and meditative. Abhay Simha, who is a professional director himself, a graduate from the FTII, writes a humble tribute to Ingmar Bergman. He says, true to his own metaphor of a knight playing chess with the personification of death (in the movie The Seventh Seal), the magician has finished playing the game of chess and left. Abhay takes us through different facets and anecdotes of Bergman’s life, with quotes from Bergman’s autobiography – The Magic Lantern: his fear towards his father, who was a religious leader of protestants and a martinet, his early inquisitiveness towards death and God, his love of the theatre during his Stockholm days, where he was a student of literature and art history, his jailing due to alleged tax misappropriation, which was later shown to be false, and so on. Abhay also introduces us to the behind the scene facts of several of his movies.

Anivaasi watches Bergman’s Winter Light after learning about his death. He writes:

A pastor of a small village, who has lost his wife four years ago; his school teacher girlfriend, who bothers him with her woos; a soldier vexed with the dingy happenings of the world, and his pregnant wife; a hunchbacked, insomniac sexton, who tries to forget his back pain through pain killers; the happy go lucky pianist. This is all there is to the world of Winter Light. [Translated]

Winter Light is a movie of great existential dilemmas and insurmountable angst. Towards the end, the sexton is seen to trivialise Christ’s pain when he was crucified in comparison with his own back pain. But the pain of Christ’s (at least momentary) realisation of the failure of his God must be at least as great as the pain of his own dilemma about God – the sexton imagines.

Moving on to less (or more) existential movies, Keshav reflects on the timeless battle between the “mass” vs “class” movie makers/watchers. He chooses two movies, both successful in their own ways, and lays down his argument: mungAru maLe (that continues to create a rage in the box office) and dweepa (an offbeat movie by the renowned Girish Kasaravalli). He calls the whole argument unnecessary: each one has its place. Someone who makes a successful mungAru maLe cannot make a successful Dweepa and vice versa. For example, Govind Nihalani, who made a great movie like Ardha Satya, tried his hand making a commercial movie (Takshak) and failed miserably. Arun Hegde, on a similar note, is not too keen about the opposition to successful movies in other languages remade in Kannada. All he wants is to watch good movies. He finds 73, Shanti Nivasa, a remake of the Hindi movie Bawarchi, enjoyable. Ismail is not impressed with T.N. Seetharam on the big screen. T. N. Seetharam has achieved an unprecedented success through his Kannada tele-serials. However, his recent movie Meera Madhava Raghava was not well received. Jeevishivu gives a detailed analysis of the phenomenal success of mungAru maLe. Perhaps the simple plot, without any “moral urgency” or the need to give out a “message”, a familiar but ordinary looking hero, and the lack of expectations that entailed, the freshness in music and choreography, the free form dialogue, good cinematography, contributed in different measures to the success of the movie.

Ismail also writes an excellent personal tribute to his father, who showed him the stars. He describes how his father drove his kids on his bicycle and introduced them to different constellations like the Saptarshi Mandala, the beLLi chukki or the Venus, and the celebrated Dhruva Nakshtara. The next stage was books on astronomy, a compass and a home made device to measure angles (probably serving as a sextant), using which father and the kids spent nights together exploring stars! How many times have I read a great personal essay like this and wondered how they just fall short of being a great short story!

Here is another. Rasheed talks about the joy of walking in Shillong.

Shillong is a beauty for people who love walking. There are “foot ways”, there are “step ways”, you can leave behind several new paths as you walk. If you start your walk as soon as a lash of rain stops, you can watch water percolating, shining grass blades, nodding petals, the sunny rain clouds running towards you … all this, before the start of a new lash of rain. [Translated]

Dr. U. R. Ananthamurthy writes about the reasons due to which he finds Gandhi more relevant today than any other leader – Marx, Lenin, Mao, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt et al. Gandhi said his message is his life. This cannot be said of anyone else. Ananthamurthy chides the so called “intellectual freedom” that we have attained that seems to let us get away doing whatever, as long as we say the right thing. He also argues that Gandhi has always been a challenge to most intellectuals since they could not understand him through any of their predefined frameworks logic and philosophy. Everything was an experiment for Gandhi. So, he even went to the extent of finding solid evidence to his celibacy by spending nights naked with a girl. He realised the his mistake in doing so only when Kripalani pointed it to him, says Ananthamurthy. He also mentions the differences between Gandhi and Tagore. Incidentally, Tagore called Gandhi Mahatma, and Gandhi called Tagore Gurudeva.

Odu janamEjaya is a blog dedicated to Kannada book reviews. Vivek Hanbhag writes his experiences with renowned short story writer and novelist Yashawant Chittal’s short stories. He says there are three important aspects to his story telling: The first one is that Chittal firmly believes that “story telling is a good deed”. A story is something that is designed and is suitable to reach others. This belief has created the overall form of his story writing technique. The second aspect is the (fictional) hanEhaLLi. There is no world in his stories that does not contain hanEhaLLi. It is always there as a part of the ethos that he captures. Even when it is not there directly, hanEhaLLi is present as a conscience, a value system, a measure. And the third is his attempt to establish a relation with an unknown world. He is constantly concerned about going beyond the boundary of human experiences, extrapolating the experiences to involve the unknown, the inexpressible.

Among the etcetera we have Rajesh Nayka who visits tourist places around Bagalakote in North Karnataka, and writes a series of posts with photos [Bagalakote, Aihole, Pattadakallu, Badami-1, 2, 3]. Parameshwar Gundkal reproduces a poem by Vikas Negiloni, a cinema journalist. A very nice rain poem. Sushruta is irritated with his (self-proclaimed) mediocre blog posts and decides to throw away his pen till he learns to write quality posts like some in the blogging community. He later consoles himself due to the realisation that he has to but sing in his own tune, dance to his own rhythm. Navilagari has nice romantic poetry. In one, the poet starts by addressing the clouds: you are midgets compared to my eyes/ you haven’t rained as much as tears flown out of my eyes [Translated]

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