Friday, June 18, 2010

The Age of Stupid: Are We Worth Saving?

The European Union Film Festival continues at the Habitat Centre and this time, it's a climate blockbuster from England, which, legend has it, premiered at the solar powered cinema tent at Leicester Square. This movie starred...

  • Pete Postlethwaite
  • Jeh Wadia
  • Alvin DuVernay
  • Layefa Malini
  • Jamila Bayyoud
  • Piers Guy
  • Lisa Guy
  • Fernand Pareau

This was a movie about our future, the one we were too late to save. But were we really ready to star in it? Could we really be up on the stage, under the spotlight?

Let's rewind. In front of the Stein Auditorium in Delhi, a foreigner sat dangling her legs, a fluorescent orange figurine of the Hindu God Hanumanji in her hands. The lady in the Bohemian gown with splotches of inky red, black and blue had her hands behind her back, holding a green Sprite bottle without a label. The fat lady with a bun had her right hand clenched in a fist, pressed against the side of her head, leaning against a shelf. The guy with a knapsack was pulling the nylon tails hanging from the straps of the bag on his back. He stood straight, focussed on the auditorium doors. Most of the men had their hands in their pockets, exploring the depths and tempted to draw themselves to their full lengths to make up for the apparent discomfort with waiting. No one stood with their arms akimbo. No takers for Superman, I guess! Not when you’ve come to watch a movie about global warming, called “The Age of Stupid”. We’d been waiting for a while. And everyone from the bespectacled guy with a rolled up pamphlet in his hands to the security guards confessing to the localite (that's me) that the DVD is simply taking an unusually long time to get set up, was at one point or the other walking about in the lobby uncertainly, not entirely sure why they were there in the first place. Stupid random molecules! I was no exception. I took a leaf out of Facebook and pretended to text in this awkward situation. They have a community for people who do that. I told myself, that at some point during all the walking in circles, if I find even one person who dares to stand straight with his hands by his side, at that very moment an intriguing hypothesis would stand dismissed.

“People never know what to do with their hands”, were the words of the director of a theatre workshop I once attended.

I found the guy, though, standing in between two guys who had their arms crossed. Minutes before the wooden doors opened for us, there he was. Senior citizen. A white kurta with a blue jean collar and faded blue jeans beside which his hands fell naturally. Confident body language and fresh out of a bath with a talcum powder look on his face. Drumrolls, people; we have a winner. I wasn’t just imagining the radiance and the white hair scarcely covering that wise baldness. It might be just a guess that he knew something that I didn’t. But I was sure that he looked happy. I looked away because had he met my eyes, he would have seen no reflection. He would have seen a girl in a black kurta and faded jeans with a shock of curls that sprung up on her barely a couple of days after she got her hair straightened. And a face that struggled to communicate that she isn’t fake, just controlled.

And then, he would have been the one to blink first but it would have been my lips that twitched. And I was scared of catching that infectious acceptance of me and my ways. He stood there like an open invitation card and I couldn’t even have believed that he’s a complete stranger to turn me away from him.

I would have felt like the woman inside the hall who later sat behind me and laughed throughout. She pointed out grammatical errors. She laughed because if she believed what she saw, she would have to carry it home. That was her reaction to the movie’s accusation that consumerism has taken over. It was almost like her saying, “What? No! I’m not even consuming the crap that you’re throwing at me. I’ll laugh it off instead and get amused.” She managed the moment and diluted the arguments being made with her windchime giggles. She made me want to leave the hall and look back and blast her to smithereens.

But I sat through. I obeyed. I looked interested because this was a classroom all over again. And I was competing for the award for 100% attendance. And for once, I wish I could use my hands to break a piece of chalk and throw it at that girl in the backbench who smiled with her gums showing. She could do with a speck of white on her forehead. It wouldn’t hurt much. It tasted nice too. And I would have loved to see her cry.

No comments:

Post a Comment