Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas musings

We watched Mausam yesterday afternoon. I loved the first hour; it reminded me of movies from the 90s, when the hero would lead his suitably secular gang of friends (with the token fat guy always there to be made fun of), creating a ruckus as they roamed around town, then with the heroine making an appearance and stealing his heart away, and so on.

And then the movie went downhill. I liked the idea of the movie. Communication really wasn't that easy before we all got mobiles and access to the internet, but geez these people were stupid. I mean, why would you leave a letter for the man you love with a woman who loved him at one time, rather than Gulzari, who knows your family and his? Have you not heard what Congreve said about a woman scorn'd?

It was both interesting and overdone, the links to events in India and the world. Ayodhya, 1992. Mumbai, 1993. Kargil, 1999. Gujarat, 2002. I didn't see why 9/11 had to be brought in; that was both forced and unnecessary. The rest... well, they could have been done better.

What annoyed me most about the movie was the way it looked like it had been produced in the 90s too. Movies look very different today; the scene where Shahid Kapoor's plane is on fire looked like a poorly animated comic movie. Why?

And much as I like Shahid Kapoor, he disappointed me. He was fine as the happy-go-lucky village boy, but the grim, almost-angry Air Force pilot left a lot to be desired. I'm not sure if he was trying to channel Rajesh Khanna or Shah Rukh Khan, but he didn't do a very competent job of it. And Sonam Kapoor - well, I've realised she does a reasonable job if she has nothing more to do than alternating being cheerful and sad, and she did a very adequate job of both in this movie.

What struck me about this movie was how it kept bringing up incidents over the past almost two decades, incidents that never touched me when they happened, that happened in cities far away from me, and yet impacted the way I see religion and politics. How many times this country's burned, all in the name of religion, and for what?


I went for a Christmas Eve service yesterday evening. I've gone for several in the past, in India; this was my first in the US. Not so different, truth be told. I loved it just as much. The same things appealed to me, and the same things turned me off.

What I always love about church services is how simple they make it for people to understand what they're telling us. I'm agnostic, technically, but the rituals of Durga Puja have always drawn me; every year, I go and give Anjali, and every year I'm frustrated that I have no idea what exactly we're saying or praying for when we repeat those mantras. And it's not just about English vs. Sanskrit; not enough priests in Hinduism make the effort to explain what the mantras mean, which I feel is sad. Church services on the other hand - at least, the ones I've been to - take what's in the Bible and interpret it for the followers in a way that can be understood and made a part of their lives.

What I don't like about church services is how they always say that the simplest way to go to heaven is simply to accept God as a part of your life. That it doesn't matter how much you sin; if you make the Saviour a part of your life, you will receive salvation. When the pastor said this yesterday, the first image I had in my head was of a fat Indian man praying in the morning and then going and either receiving or giving a bribe. Big deal, he's accepted God in his life, innit?

Maybe I'm oversimplifying what I heard, but it just seems like they're saying once you've accepted Jesus as your Saviour, a lot of the responsibility for being good is off your shoulders. You know what I like best about Hinduism? The fact that every single one of our gods is flawed. All of them. They all did something that made them imperfect, more human. And they all regretted it, and tried to make up for their sins. They owned up. And while I may not know, or even like, much about various religions, I like that about the one I was born into.


I really shouldn't blog about religion. It makes me ramble more nonsense than usual. Or during cricket matches. No one's going to read this.

Merry Christmas.