Sunday, August 07, 2005

Art and Anguish:

Saw 'Salangai oli' today. I've seen it once as a kid, did'nt find it interesting then cos it did not have any action sequences! I kept saying it was a great movie back then just so that i was not left out.

Seeing it as a grown up was ofcourse an altogether different experience. It traces the life of an extremely gifted and passionate dancer-Balakrishnan(played brilliantly by 'Kamal Hasan'), who dreams of learning all indian dance forms and evolve a collaborativedance form. It is a story of unfulfilled love, shattered dreams, lofty ambitions broughtdown to earth and drowned in alcohol. It ends with Bala getting some solace. He passes on his art-baton to the daughter of the love of his life and seeks his redemption. Jayapradha as 'Madhavi', the love of 'Bala's' life and his redeemer, looked ethereal, and acted amazingly well.While there were certain aspects of the movie i could not relate to, it had me totally involved.

Now, in a movie with a similar setting, if Bala had achieved whatever he set out to achieve in Dance, and also found Madhavi's love, the movie would'nt have been half as moving, and no one would be talking about it 22 years after its release.

Anguish, pain, sadness and suffering offer themselves to art in a way happiness and fulfilment can never dream of. They are simply much more potent realms of expression. A happy story about simple simon cannot create the kindof impact that a 'Of human bondage' or a 'Golden gate' would. A painter born in a rich aristocratic family cannot generate the kindof curiosity and interest that a penniless painter, who painted a self-portrait with a ear cut off(Vincent Van Gogh), can.

I've tried to remain a happiness-seeking optimist most of my life (re-forged at some points, thanks to influences from 'Atlas shrugged', 'Fountain head' and 'We, the living'), but, to be honest, grief is a much stronger and more persistent emotion than happiness-which is sporadic and almost always fleeting. If you aggree with this, then this is probably why art-expressions tempered with anguish seep in more easily and impact people in a very telling way. I dont say that this is universal, but i guess this would apply to a sizeable populace.

4 comments:

Kars ! said...

I can only remember a few scenes from the movie (the first dance scene where kamal interrupts and shows what "pancha bootha's" really mean, and i guess he shows the same in different dance forms, the other where he is walking on a well all drunk?).. anyways its a kewl movie, now that you mentioned it, i might watch it once again.

//Anguish, pain, sadness and suffering offer themselves to art in a way happiness and fulfilment can never dream of. They are simply much more potent realms of expression. A happy story about simple simon cannot create the kindof impact that a 'Of human bondage' or a 'Golden gate' would.//

pretty much off topic (not related to "salangai oli" in anyway), i for some reason, think the harry potter series has been a hit for this very same reason (but in this case its not art but its a kid), but many tend to dismiss it as a kid's book or way overhyped piece of writting.

i c dumb ppl said...

nice piece!
maybe its just that in the popular and critical circles, people just dont want to see others happy...it is this secret, inner sadistic thing in each one of us that the artists, directors and producers exploit?! or maybe it is this feeling that they exhibit and end up becoming popular because there are enough people who think the same way...?

frissko said...

well, i have thought on those lines..but was not convinced...i mean, i dont see myself as a sadist (secretly or openly), but movies/books where everyone doesnt live happily ever after remain more etched in my mind...i am not talking about mvies like 'Monster' where artists ate into the wounds of a sad life...i am talking about movies like 'Salangai oli' where the objective of the protaganist is achievement and happiness, but somehow things dont fall in place, or a book like 'The Golden gate' where the lead guy realizes his love for someone after she is gone. Ppl lap up to it simply because it's like real life and they can relate to it. (Very few ppl would get their ideal 'wants' in love, work, anything...and the rest embrace grief in art!)

Priya said...

I want very badly for you to be wrong. I can think of many sunny books that I still cherish and revise anually - Alice In Wonderland, Haroun and the sea of stories, Hitchhickers guide to the galaxy to name a few. On the other hand, while the Somerset Maughams of the world hit me in the gut, i avoid rereading them for that very reason. Sure, life is miserable and grief is ubiquitous but it takes more talent to engage with humour and insight than to relate a long laundry list of complaints against life and providence.

I badly want to believe what i've written!