Great films that I have neglected to write about still linger in the shadows of my consciousness, though I realize I cannot write about every great offering by committed people that arrives on the screen. And it is also true that until now, when there appears to be more time, I was not likely to be found in front of the television. Some offerings have haunted me: Click Bait, for instance; and Dopesick. I remember making a note about them: that they were presented by people, and especially by the persons acting in them, as a prayer. That this level of artistic expression has something of holiness (the good kind) about it.
And that is true also of recent offerings, two astonishing Indian Films: The White Tiger and RRR.
“Iqbal,* that great poet, was so right. The moment you recognize what is beautiful in this world, you stop being a slave. To hell with the Naxals and their guns shipped from China. If you taught every poor boy how to paint, that would be the end of the rich in India.”
― Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
*Muhammad Allama Iqbal 1877–1938
I watched White Tiger first. Blown completely alert to a view of poverty in India that is not an advertisement to travel or to meditate. But moved beyond imagining by discovery of a poet of whom I had heard nothing, Muhammad Allama Iqbal. Who wrote the above line which is worth repeating even in this small space, because it is so overlooked and true: the moment you recognize what is beautiful in this world, you stop being a slave.
You may still be poor as dust but nothing can prevent you realizing the freedom you exhibit in being able to recognize wonder.
So this led to RRR, of which I had heard not one word! Though apparently much of the world raved about it a while ago. This film is indescribable, really. And seems to be in a way what film was made for: incredible feats of imagination, terrifying battles between good and evil, the search for goodness or even sanity during centuries of British Colonial rule in India where there was not even common sense. A wonderful lampooning of the English who were so dreadfully used and misguided by their leaders, the kings and queens back home in England!
And beneath it all, a stout reliance on ancient Hindu myth about who one’s guru can be. For truly, are we not always looking?
An unforgettable film with many memorable moments but none so welcome as when the wild animals leap to the side of the humans worth standing with; and we are left gasping at this spectacle of solidarity between us and them that leaves us, after all our damage to animals, hopeful. A miraculous vision.~aw
“Let the People Decide,” Bob Moses of SNCC, The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, to Black People in Mississippi, USA 1960s.