Tuesday, 6 September 2016

episode 334 not just love... meaning

to be sure, man's search for meaning may arouse inner tension rather than inner equilibrium. however, precisely such tension is an indispensable prerequisite of mental health. there is nothing in the world, i venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is a meaning in one's life. there is much wisdom in the words of nietzsche: "he who has a why to live for can bear almost any how".

~~~ viktor e frankl ~~~

i remember being extremely moved by this book, man's search for meaning, from which that quote comes, when i read it a few years ago. the thoughts and work of an eminent psychiatrist who had lived through the hell of a concentration camp. his inspired observations about human nature in that state of extreme suffering and humiliation. and his ever steadying belief that those who survived were the ones who had a sense of purpose, a "meaning" in their lives.

i have forgotten most of what i read.

but in the relationship of asr with his sister anjali, i felt that search for meaning; that need for something to live for... in a very young boy suddenly cut off from stability and a sense of "normal" in his life.

di was not just someone he loved... di was the one because of whom he found the urge to live... to conquer... to show "himmat".

when di felt happy, he felt everything was alright... he had said the episode before. a moving look into the character of an apparently cold hard arrogant man.

i'd written in 333 that perhaps khushi, the one we had met initially, had sensed his non-negotiable need for his sister. how fundamental she was to his sense of well being... of his "normal". because nothing really was normal in his life that night onward. yet, brave and arced toward overcoming odds, he had held onto the one thing he could, his sister's responsibility... and forged ahead.

when he broke down before khushi and said he was a failure for not having succeeded in protecting his sister, i'd hoped she would show her ken and say things that heal him, love him, tell him he has succeeded, in his own way. just by doing what he has, he has done that... that even though it might not seem so at the moment, yet, he has not really failed.

"aapke amma babu ji ke saath jo kuchh bhi hua... di ke saath jo kuchh bhi hua... aap unhen nahin badal sakte hain, arnav ji..." she said instead, eyes streaming, her voice neat and pert and at a distance from her words.

such pat words. what happened to your parents and to your sister... you can't change them, arnav ji.

and so sanctimonious too... also utterly wrong. neither is the content accurate nor the timing conscientious.

when a man who has tried with all he has, is vulnerable, that's not the time to lecture him or tell him he can't influence things. a complete insensitivity from a beautiful woman when the person who has grown to trust her needs her most.

and if we take an attitude of "nahin badal sakte hain," can't change a thing... where would we be?

it really doesn't matter what a tv serial says and yet it begins to matter when something in it feels so right, so worth spending time on, pondering.

the attitude to life of one asr... who shows himmat... who grapples with vicissitudes, who refuses to accept defeat, just makes me want to do so. today he reminded me of people who have faced great suffering and overcome.

words like magnificent are reserved for elevated, exalted characters of high literaure. maybe because i was never clever enough to get the high stuff, nor patient enough to linger and find out what made them high, arnav singh raizada had to come into my bedroom one midnight. the witching hour.

tv serials don't have a philosophy and yet... they really do.

i disagreed vehemently with this part of the episode.

i have severe problems with talk of fate and "bhagya" unless it is done in a considered wise manner, this was in defeatist vein... as far as i am concerned and to use my aching hero's word, this is "galat". not "sahi" at all.

"di ko aise haal mein nahin dekh sakta..." can't see di in this state... said the man who keeps things real and even in failure seems to triumph. aristotle's tragic hero aroused pity and fear... he made an error of judgement that led to his downfall. even if i'd never read anything about the greek tragic hero, i'd have known through all i have seen and right now in the hoarsely whispered sentences, the tortured look, the refusal to give in, that sense of something larger than life, a call to the deepest human traits, the most gorgeous, to rise and prevail no matter what... that here indeed was a "hero" and his failure would really be a tragedy.

he achieved this without a trace of sanctimoniousness or know all holier than thouness. by just being a man. a human with all his humanness. if that isn't breath taking, what is.

most "heroes" have soliloquies, "quotable quotes", chances to hold forth... or they have salim javed dialogues at the very least. here he rarely says anything specially special, hardly speaks. usually a couple of words, sometimes a sentence, maybe two. and yet he says so much, paints a fascinating character with mere gazes, pauses, body language, tone of voice, a no nonsense air... and yes, action. always sharp, focussed action; taken because he believes he needs to take them... taking responsibility for his every act in the deepest sense. never blaming another or expecting life to come and somehow get things done for him.

i do believe the actor made asr much more than anyone thought he would. he found the man within the words and dialogues... he found the parts that were not written about and filled in the blanks and by doing so he created an unforgettable man.

it was very clear in the narrative that asr loved his sister beyond a point. but why and exactly what she meant to him i think was revealed by the actor... by understanding why she mattered so much...

i was looking for mami's deadly dialogues in 43 and 44 when i saw this scene... he was a little astonished when he saw the laughter filled family scene in the kitchen, then he smiled... happy to see anjali carefree and so in love with shyam... and even as he watched, a change to a tender expression, almost a helpless one. when something is priceless to us, when we almost can't live without it... i'd imagine that's how we'd look.

when khushi had been completely broken by her father's paralytic attack, he had come running but not been able to somehow give her what she needed. he'd pondered the issue, felt extreme pain and perhaps remorse that he had failed. and the next day when unwittingly he'd made her feel helpless, he had gone back... again that smart sharp focussed action... to help in a concrete way, a way he understood... and paid all the bills. and when she had started fraying before him again... he had walked right up to her this time and consoled her the way he perhaps didn't know he could, bit this time he didn't want to fail her. he wanted to be there for her... and he was.

if i'd expected sensitivity from khushi here, can i be blamed? this was iss pyaar ko and it sparkled with inspired moments, after all.

and their hold was so binding that even after more than hundred episodes of things going strange, we still hoped. almost every episode... right up to the end, i had thought, maybe now, now at last things would take a turn and we'd get ipk back.

bhagya talk apart, the writing also veered the way of all serials. suddenly khushi has to give him the strength, give "vada" that all will be well, have "vishwas" he can do it. really? does he need all that to get things done?

instead of mahaan bharatiya naari, had they let khushi be khushi, she may have come up with far more valid ways to express her strength and indispensability in asr's life at this moment. 

off we went to heavy duty reentry of shyam... director is in utter love with baddie. i think this "sweetening" of the not so goodie hero is telling on the director... he needs his bad boy fix. gah, so do i so do i, mr director... and shyam doesn't even know the first thing of what makes a bad boy really bad.

shyam plunged into all his natak. while khushi said to asr, "aap jaaiye hum aapke saath hai... hum dono milkar di ko sambhaal lenge..." you go, the two of us together will tackle everything.

huh? so now he can't even handle his sis alone? oh he needs khushi he needs khushi... she the ultimate mahaan heroine of hindi soap. all i can really say is, what the.

i needn't have worried about asr though... barun sobti made sure whatever little the writers were willing to grant him, he'd turn into gold.

while all waffled and "acted", he just went about being real... and really angry.

"how dare you!"
through clenched teeth upon seeing shyam. hand was out and grabbing a collar before anyone could say anything...

"yahan aane ki ijaazat kissne di tumhe..."
who gave you the permission to come here, he grated... "mere di ke paas aane ki himmat kaise ki tumne?" how dare you come anywhere near my di...

di is his responsibility, no one messes with that. he has been fooled once. will he be again... i think. yeah, actually, even this round, i wanted to see if even for a moment he was taken in.

one tight slap was given and i had my answer.

no, never again will this man be fooled. he is shatir, he might have been fooled once but he learns his lessons. that makes him a hero to me, a sharp one, a human one. to never err is just unreal... even gods make mistakes.

"baap hain hum..."
i am a father... wheedled shyam trying to turn the tide.

"kuchh nahin ho tum.  d'you understand that?... kuchh nahin,"
you're nothing, replied asr. hardly any words, yet each one apt... and delivered in a way, one will never forget.

"iss aadmi ka mere di par koi haq nahin hai... aaj di ka jo halat hai woh sirf  inki wajah se hai..."
this man has no right over my sister... if my di is in thsi state today it's because of him and him alone... he told his rather irritating and obnoxious grandmother.

he beat up shyam despite all the drama from dadi and khushi's frankly not at all understandable "don't do it" looks.

"jab tak main zinda hoon, yeh insaan mere ghar mein kabhi kadam nahin rakhega..."
as long as i am alive this man will not enter my home. i wanted to maaro seetee and hug the chap. of course, his own lover will betray him and then he will have to apologise... ah well.

but for now... yay asr, way to go.

my smart man can sense a game.

he strides into his di's room, a purpose propels him, he is no longer falling apart and unsure. meaning... it always centres him.

he has found the meaning in this moment. his duty. he needs something to focus on too... di must go home. shyam might get here without anyone's permission.

of course, he has no idea his sister herself has already started cheating and lying about shyam.

ah, i feel for this man.

and i am touched by his open large mind, when he holds nothing against khushi and anjali even after knowing what they've done.

"koi bhi, and i mean it... koi bhi shyam ko iss ghar mein wapas laane ka baat dobara nahin karega... and i mean it." no one, and i mean it, will speak again of bringing shyam back to this house... he tells everyone at home, glaring specifically at dadi. he possibly doesn't even remotely think khushi needs to be told this.

"never again." interestingly those are words connected with the holocaust, there was something much more than a tv soap going awry in this episode.

when he goes back into anjali's room and looks at her... again that need, that vulnerability. i wonder now, did anjali ever know how much she meant to him? and maybe because he loved her so much, he could forgive her that easily?

a new piece of music as he looks at di lying unwell and sits by her, remembering... loving...being himself.

soon after writing this, i read a piece by columnist frank bruni on higher education and its need... its contribution to growing us, in ways hard to quantify. he speaks of a teacher of his who threw all of herself into teaching "lear". her delivery of three simple words, "stay a little," words lear says to his dearest daughter cordelia as she slips away, linger in his mind and he recalls how her way of teaching let him get the maximum out of the texts...

"'stay a little.' she showed how that simple request harbored such grand anguish, capturing a fallen king's hunger for connection and his tenuous hold on sanity and contentment. and thus she taught us how much weight a few syllables can carry, how powerful the muscle of language can be.
she demonstrated the rewards of close attention. and the way she did this, her eyes wild with fervor, her body aquiver with delight was an encouragement of passion and a validation of the pleasure to be wrung from art. it informed all my reading from then on. it colored the way i listened to people and even watched tv.

it transformed me."

i thought of barun sobti and his asr. his way of saying the simplest of words having understood and internalised the meaning of them, their entire context and content... did touch me and maybe even transformed me. it's such a wonderful feeling to know and marvel at a character, a man who doesn't exist... takes you places; maybe even the loony bin. but i suspect it enriches you even then.


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