NEITHER BIRDS NOR FISHES, RAY-BANSALI TEACHES

Shingita Ghosh

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A girl. A seventeen year old girl. A seventeen year old middle-class girl. Like her contemporaries, she too wants to make it big in life. She is middle-class by birth, but she refuses to be the same in her living. A bird flies because it knows that it is made for the air. A fish swims because it knows that it is made for the water. However, she did not know what she is made for. Maybe she never truly tried to find out because she was too afraid of being the bird that tried to swim or the fish that tried to fly. Maybe she thought that she did not have the capacity to do either. Then a change swept her life. She went to a place where there were no birds or fishes. She found herself among beings that did what they liked and were great at it. For the first time, she realized that it was okay not to know, that there were others like her who were eager to find out their domain. It does not matter who you are, where you have come from or what is expected of you, as long as you are good at your work and enjoy it too. Above all, she found people of her own creed. The knowledge that you are not alone, that there are many others who share your beliefs and fears has ignited hundreds of minds in the past.

Our childhood hunger is the one that never leaves us. It follows us through our adolescence, our adulthood and finally our senility if we don’t pursue it. She wants to pursue her hunger. What is her passion? What is it that she loves and would continue to love all her life? What does she envisage herself doing in future? These questions always left her at a loss. Their answers were easy and came flowing one after the other. Cinema was her passion. She has grown up watching movies. That is all she did and all she could do. Good movies make her ecstatic, bad movies disgust her. Sometimes she hates them for having such a power over her, but she also loves them for the same. Cinema is where her heart lay, although she was too foolish to realize it at first. Veteran director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Devdas’ tells the story of a man of blue blood Dev (played by Shah Rukh Khan) who makes grave mistakes early in life, only to realize his folly much later when he has succumbed to alcoholism and knows not the way back. The women in his life Paro (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) and Chandramukhi (Madhuri Dixit Nene) share his tragedy as both love a man (and the same man) whom they can never have. She has watched the movie only once. Despite having loved it, she could not make herself go through the moroseness that it left her with the first time she saw it. She has been watching Satyajit Ray’s movies since a time she did not even know what a genius he was. Watching his masterpieces—–‘Pather Panchali’— a family’s struggle against penury and ‘Charulata’— the self-discovery of a lone girl— cinema —that has been her silver lining in cloudy days, her walking companion in stony ways and her voice of silence in rowdy bays. All of us have to embark on a journey that will take us to our destination—to the future that we want to make our present. Her journey has just begun. She does not know where she is going to end up, but she does know that she is going to like the ending.

Borrowing from Amitabh Bhattacharya’s pen, Zidd ke maare, bhole bhaale, Manmarziyaan… Be-adab si, par ghazab si, Manmarziyaan…

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