Mukti Bhavan – In Search of Salvation

Mukti Bhavan and Masaan – now make companion pieces of sorts – Varanasi and the River Ganga playing a major role in both movies.

Mukti Bhavan titled Hotel Salvation for international releases is a powerful, poignant and bitter-sweet tale of the patriarch of a middle-class family and his relationship with his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in his quest for salvation.

In Varanasi/Benares/Kashi – remains a hotel called Mukti Bhavan where those who seek their final journey find an abode. Our lead character Daya played by Lalit Behl is a 77-year old man who has lived a life, well-spent, he sees a dream that foretells his death and he decides to leave for Varanasi to spend his last days. His son Rajiv played brilliantly by Adil Hussain seems to work in some kind of bank or investment firm and is seen chasing sales targets. Rajiv’s wife Lata played by Gitanjali Kulkarni and daughter Sunitha played by the elegant Palomi Ghosh also add to the perfect portrayal of the slightly upper middle-class family structure. They own a car as well as a Bajaj scooter.

Rajiv manages to secure a fortnight’s leave and accompanies Daya to Varanasi and they check-in to Mukti Bhavan. The caretaker Mishra ji is  played by Anil K. Rastogi who has some brilliant lines – “Death is a process.” “The souls here reside within the body. Once the body dies what purpose does the soul serve here.”

At one juncture, Daya falls sick and everyone feels he will die. An elderly lady at Mukti Bhavan played by Navinidra Behl adds grace and charm to the tale, she quips – ‘I have been waiting all my life here to die.” Daya apologises to his son for scuttling his son’s talents and dreams of being a poet. Some real good father-son scenes and I am sure a lot of us guys will relate to these scenes. Daya survives, Latha and Sunitha also make a surprise visit. The 15 day period comes to an end and the caretaker says – ‘Register in a new name and continue to wait for salvation.’

Daya finds a friend and companion in Vimala, then Vimala dies and Daya narrates a moving obituary that he has written for her. Daya advises Rajiv to return to his regular life.

Do watch this movie to figure out what happens to Daya.

At times, amidst all the drivel and leave your ‘mind at home’ cinema that all the woods bombard us with – small little gems like these arrive and make us fall in love with cinema and real characters. By the time the movie ended, I was quite emotional, been some time since I cried after watching a movie; Mukti Bhavan makes me think a lot. My obsession with death, salvation and redemption continue. There are no answers, neither are there any new questions. Celebrate death, embrace it, that which needs to happen will happen.

Full marks to director – Subhashish Bhutiani for an assured, confident and meaningful debut.

 

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Anger Management

 

My mother does not realize,

That pleasing 1001 gods,

Is not going to help,

Her BP or sugar,

Every single time there is a festive occasion,

Fat-laden foods in the name of prasadam,

I am not a big fan of all this,

On top of that fasting,

Rituals, decorations, and what not??

Which God demanded all this?

So many years of doing these rituals,

To what effect? To what joy??

Falling ill, making me worry to no end.

Not heeding to my warnings,

And all to what end,

Like one idiot I have to rush,

Hunting for medicines, looking for a specialist.

I am tired, I am sick and tired,

Of this repeated loop,

That I am stuck in.

How easy it would be,

To run away from all this.

A cross and a burden,

That is testing my patience,

Where is this God?

Who plays joke after joke after joke on me!

Where is He/She/Power/Energy/Light??

What blasted adjective should I use,

To describe this all powerful,

Omni-potent, all-knowing energy,

That seems to forever laugh at my antics,

As I falter again and again,

In trying to create some semblance,

Of sanity in this great gift called ‘Life’!

How long does one keep travelling,

In this tunnel, hoping to get,

One glimpse of light,

That seems to be at the next bend?

How long should I continue??

To be weighed down,

Morally, physically and mentally,

Because of decisions taken by others,

Which have ruined my dreams beyond repair!

 Depression, anger, blindness,

What word does one use,

What phrase does one create,

To represent this massive lie,

That I am being forced to lead??

I shall never find redemption.

This is the truth,

Till the end arrives,

Like a welcome release,

Continue to mock me,

Continue to blackmail me,

Continue to destroy my life.

Thank you dear family, relatives and well-wishers.

Thank you!!!

 

Come September

It is about five minutes past four in the afternoon or early evening, as I sit down to type this. A lot has happened in the last two months. Equations have changed, daggers drawn, daggers sheathed back, trust broken, trust regained, friends lost, friends gained, friends lost forever. It has been a strange two months, in more ways than one. I have shifted jobs after nearly six years of service in one organisation. At the new place of work, there is a lot to learn and implement, gain the trust and respect of colleagues, plan things, get work done, a lot of trust has been placed upon me and every single time from day one, the biggest fear has been that I will let down the ones who trust me the most. For all that I remember, the fear of failure and ridicule has driven me a lot in everything that I have done for the longest time that I can remember. I have been pushed to the corner literally and figuratively many a time and I have overcome challenges to focus on life.

This year so far has drained me out tremendously, I started the year with hope that I would set things right on the personal front, but everything that I do has returned to torment me like an evil nightmare that never stops. I thought I made peace with my past, but by some weird coincidence a bit of my past comes back and again I have to run, speak to people, calm things down. Friends have always appreciated my phenomenal memory power, but I seem to be forgetting a lot. The day I saw “Thanmatra” I was sure that I would go down Rameshan Nair’s way and like a weird premonition the memory lapses are recurring, a favourite book, a movie or a song, or an answer to a question or an important phone number, things are fading. The mirror does not lie, I try to run a bit the knees hurt, gradual exercise, patient breathing, controlled diet, nothing works, the waist expands like India’s economic debt.

For over 20 years, I have believed that I will write a novel of consequence, something that will be a treasured piece, but all I have managed to do is create a pseudo-aura of a pontificating puritan who just finds errors in what others write. When others come to me for advice, I wonder – “What do you see in me; that ensures you that you have come to the right person?” – I keep these thoughts to myself and help others.

No point in harping about Amma as she keeps vacillating between ill, very ill and forever bossing me around to get things done at home! One fine day, I am just going to stop, point at the sky, say “God told me to stop listening to you”, look at her and say, “I have a life as well”. As you know very well, all this is imagination and will never turn to reality.

Externally everything seems fine, but internally there is a deep-rooted melancholy at the inevitable tragedy that the visions foretell.

Come September,

Come embrace me,

In your comfort,

Far away in a world,

Where light and cheer spreads,

Flowers bloom and brooks babble,

Away from the madness,

Of the mundane chores,

Of an existential crisis,

And a battle for survival,

I hope to find peace.

Here’s wishing you a positive, fun-filled, productive and awesome September!

Hope and a Little Sugar

Well we are into the seventh month of 2016. A phenomenal year in many ways. More final farewells, more of marriages of friends, making new friends, separation from a lot of friends and life goes on. Cheated death again, and kept wondering, one moment was all to have ended everything! Reality of life – don’t chase a dream – a person or an ideal – that is never meant to be yours! Or rather – chase a dream – a person or an ideal – if you are sure you know them properly!

samarpanam.jpg

Nothing has changed,
I look back at,
Scribbles in my diary,
From a decade back,
The pain, the doubt,
The anger and the loneliness,
Is as deep as it always was.

Illness is taking a huge toll,
My mother’s psychological trauma,
Is manifesting into too many,
Physical worries and health problems,
The doctor says she has to stop worrying.
She says she does not worry.
She just exists!

I am at a loss for words,
Going about in circles,
From one doctor to the other,
Setting a pattern in medicines,
To offer some relief,
Nothing has changed,
Other than the fact that we are now alone.

It’s been about five years now I guess,
Dad’s in his own world,
Happy with his bottle of rum,
Wearing a cloak of divinity,
And going about on yatras!

Everyone is happy,
In their own little worlds,
Am I happy?
I don’t know.
Am I sad?
I don’t know.

When someone asks me –
How are you?
I have started to say-
“I am alive!”
It cuts down other queries.

Prayers, rituals, ceremonies,
Visiting temples, searching for tranquility,
Churches, mosques and monasteries,
Nothing offers clarity,
If there was a God,
Would there be pain?
Would innocent children die?

Rambling away and away,
Like a drunken,
Old monk – I write aimlessly,
She lies in front of me asleep,
I wonder – where did I go wrong?

Breathe in and breathe out,
And returning to reality,
All these questions are pointless,
Life has to go on.
The bills have to be paid,
The EMIs have to be paid.

No travel, no merry-making,
Point A to Point B,
Life like a pendulum,
Goes back and forth.

After so many stanzas,
You dear reader,
If you are still reading,
Thank you,
May God bless you!

Probably the annual report,
May offer a glimmer of light,
Some happiness and joy,
Instead of this boring,
Dull, dry and sad verse.
Hope….that’s all that remains!

F for Father, Where art thou?

As many of my readers know, I share a deep, unexplained feeling of hatred for my father. I have written enough on how he ruined our lives (my mother’s, my sister’s and mine). I am not going to write again about all those troubled years. This post is a reflection on what drove him to what he turned into.

A young boy in a distant village in Kerala, the first child in a family of five siblings, finishes his Class X and lands in a slightly larger village and joins a restaurant as a server. He sends money the money that he earns to his parents and then he sees an advert in the newspaper and goes to a naval recruitment fair. He clears all exams and starts his journey. Even today, when at times, I am messed up in my head and yearn for that bit of paternal affection, I take out an album, it has my father in his naval uniform with his medals. How smart and dashing he looked, I am sure many a maiden’s heart would have fluttered. He had the looks of a dashing Errol Flynn. By a weird twist of fate, his scheming parents marry him away to a young girl who studied just till Class VIII. A marriage which the  old man (my paternal granddad) thought would help his other children. Life all those eons ago would have been strange, a young couple, a cramped house, scheming in-laws, jealousy, anger, madness! It was a match made in hell.

With many years of service in the Navy and a fair bit that’s classified, somewhere my father lost it and took to the bottle. It was a life-long struggle that eventually ruined him to not even a shadow of his strengths. My father would work in many leading firms across India and even in the Middle East. A fair bit of his life in Mumbai and in Sharjah is shrouded in mystery. He would never tell us anything. Gifts, once in a while, some money wired through, a greeting card with a message would land up. When we made one final attempt at reconciliation, we knew it was doomed, but we still tried. It did not work!

I have gone on and on about him failing in his duties, as one grows up, I wonder, have I failed him too? Deep reflections within are not going to give me answers. I have forgiven him a bit for all that he has done to us. It is my destiny to remain like this and his to remain the way he is! At some point this circle will end and then I can set him free once and for all. Till then, there is no peace for any of us! That inkling of dread, that bit of fear, that phone call confirming my worst fears may come in any time. Then I would have to claim him and cremate him. The same holds true for my mother as well. With the dreaded curse, which I have of visions into the future that I can’t control, I know both their times are nearing and I have to mentally prepare myself for setting them free.

Perhaps, at least in another dimension of time; let them stay happy!

The Festival of Lights

Diwali or Deepavali,
Crackers or lamps,
New clothes or sweets,
Cashew-bites or Almond drops,
Savoury mixtures or round murukkus.
First day first show,
Or TV premieres?

Partha Periappa or Kabali Mama?*
Too many questions,
Too many answers.
Get set for the festival of lights.
Set alight lamps,
Wear your new dresses,
Burst a few crackers,
But don’t make a nuisance.

Spare a thought,
For the ill and the old,
Our four-legged friends,
And our feathered friends,
Exercise caution, have fun.
Help the less fortunate.
Spread love, spread smiles!

HAPPY DIWALI

* – Reference to Triplicane Parthasarathy Temple and Mylapore Kabaleeshwarar Temple. Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva 🙂

Post is part of the #GharWaliDiwali Contest

See this video as well 🙂

Fall Like a Rose Petal – Book Review

Title of the Book – Fall Like a Rose Petal : A Father’s Lessons on How to be Happy and Content While Living without Money
Author – AVIS Viswanathan
ISBN – 9789384030445
Genre – Self-Help/Motivation
Publisher – Westland
Pages – 322

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Description on the Amazon India website:<a
In early 2008, the author AVIS Viswanathan and Vaani his soul-mate, friend, wife and business partner were staring at a bankruptcy of their Firm. A series of business decisions had literally brought them to the brink of penury. This book is their story. It captures learnings from this excruciatingly painful, Life-changing, phase that they are still going through. It also explores the nature and continuum of Life. There is no beginning to the story. There is no end either. There are simply experiences. Of hopelessness. Of fear. Of insolvency. Of pennilessness. And also of faith, patience, love, companionship, abundance and soul. Of integrity and of leading a principled Life, despite temptations to take the easy way out of painful or messy situations. This book has been written to share how AVIS and his family have learned to be happy despite their circumstances. You too can benefit from their learning, and experience, and discover the right way of thinking, living, working and winning in Life for yourself!

About Avis:
AVIS Viswanathan (47) is a happiness curator, Life Coach, inspired speaker, author and organizational transformation consultant who leads change management, culture and leadership development mandates in the corporate sector globally.

I had the good fortune of attending the launch of this gem of a book and I finished reading the book the next day. On an average I finish reading at least two or three pieces of fiction (novels) a week. Non-fiction and self-help are genres that I read rarely. Books on spirituality and self-enquiry are a completely different box of chocolates and I do indulge myself in these treats once in a while.

This particular book – ‘Fall Like a Rose Petal’ – chronicles the incredible journey of a family; a husband, wife and their son and daughter. From being one of the top-notch entrepreneurs in a niche business area and finding success in every stream, to staring at abject penury and bankruptcy and being chased by 179 creditors. The book is an incredible true-life tale of survival, courage, faith and self-respect.

All good things come in small packages, the book has a minimalist yet powerful cover image of a single rose petal and the title of the book in black lettering on a white background. The book will definitely stand out in any store.

Sounds interesting right???? I am transferring you to my website now which has the full in-depth review. Do read the full review and please do buy the book!