Sunday, July 26, 2009

A tribute to Yasmin Ahmad

Malaysia had only one excellent film-maker. Only one. No diplomacy from me this time, I am going to be blatantly honest. That is as much as I could give to Yasmin Ahmad as she passed away yesterday night. Of course, the country does have few more credible film-makers, but if any of our film-makers were going to travel abroad to larger and more demanding film industries and make their cut there, the only person who will make that cut is Yasmin. Hollywood calling? She could even manage that pressure. Thats how good she was.

Yasmin epitomized and easily revolutionized the Malaysian cinema scene in a way no other film maker has done before locally. She epitomized the spirit of essential Malaysian cinema and threw out of the window the idea of a secular Malay, Tamil or Chinese film, which had been the trend up to then. She was someone to look up to. Yasmin was something special not just for her films but she was indeed an inspiration for bidding Malaysian movie makers like me; because she proved that all is not lost in Malaysian cinema, that the industry is not as crappy as people make it out to be, that despite the limited resources, you could still make a world-class film (e.g. Sepet, Gubra, Muallaf).

Any person who has studied films and worth their salt in this industry and knows quality when he/she sees one would readily admit that Yasmin possesed qualities that would impress not only in Malaysia, but qualities but would take Malaysian cinema to larger global canvas, something that other film-makers in this country have dired to achieve. One breeze through the amount of international awards her films have won are a great proof about her abilities.

Malaysia has lost its finest film-maker. How will the industry cope with this?

Yasmin wasn’t only a fine film-maker, her life had its own story to tell. Many have judged her for changing her gender by choice, but she took all that criticism on her stride and kept going. Today, she is fondly remembered for the fine female film-maker that she was, and she has indeed travelled a long way in order to achieve that. A true inspiration for fighting against the odds and setting the trend.

But nevertheless, I am still saddened with the fact that many Malaysians are still ignorant about who Yasmin Ahmad was. Any Malaysian who do watch movies regularly, of any industry at all, should mourn the loss of this piece of jewel which was atop the Malaysian film industry frame. You deserved more appreciation that you received, Yasmin.

This is a funeral commercial directed by Yasmin, what I perceive to be her best commercial work, and nothing fits more than this video to pay tribute to her departure.

Thanks for everything.

Yasmin Ahmad (1958-2009)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Punch, Drunk...Love!

Ahhh. Here we are. Love. Delightful and painful in equal measures, old and new in equal measures, same old same old. For us Indians, love is a major problem, yes, a very major one at that. Just take a survey if you want on how many people lose directions in live once their love affairs do not turn out to be have a happy endings. Forget the stacked amount of suicides, even I had a dear friend to assumed right over his own life partly because of the turbulunce of his love life. It’s been almost two years now since he departed.

Think about many others who give up, who make up a sad story. For another friend, her love was one-sided, unrequited in return.

What don’t I have?

What do I have to change?

Am I not good enough?

These were her questions. To herself.

For some reason, most of us find it embarassing to be involved in an one-sided love affair. We can’t bear the thought of us falling head over heels and repeatedly thinking about one individual whom we do not know thinks even a pint about us in return. In equal measures are break-ups, a party ends up feeling cheated, and sink themselves deeply into the sea of misery for a long, long time. For them, its perfectly fine to be miserable. Why are you miserable? I just broke up! Why are you miserable? He/She doesn’t love me. Its only me!

They say love is a beautiful thing, why then does it become the very excuse for so many people to bathe in pain? An excuse for us to take our lives away. An excuse to feel pity for ourselves. I can only say one thing- stop feeling sorry for yourselves. Because you do not know love enough if you think its fine to be sunk in misery when something fails.

Many years ago, I was in love as well, and yes, it was a failure too. But for some reason, I did not cry. Many thought I’m hiding my pain. Look at that poor thing, so much pain inside pretending to be strong- they’d say. The first thing I came to terms is- theres nothing to be embarassed about. Thinking about someone who doesn’t think about you in return? Whats wrong with that. I was very young when it happened, I was finding for a calling card that would point me which direction to go in life. East, West, North, South, where’d I go? Then love came, it broke barriers, for the first time, you feel different from the world around you. You experience sensations that only you would know, its your own world. Love is a beautiful dream to live. Anaticipation, yearnings, everything about it transforms your world drastically. Then the glass broke. But I continued, I continued loving whom I loved, for two full years, until the feeling waned away.

And I realized something then that most people fail to realize nowadays. Love is an energy. An emotion of superficial power. Happiness, Sadness, Madness, Anger, Insanity, Delight, Ecstasy, all these feelings and emotions are embroiled together under the coat of Love. Its a gift if you have this energy inside you. Use it the right way, and the results would be wonderful, maybe not for your love life, but the quality of your life overall could improve the moment you realize that you can actually channel all the love you have inside you to different directions. Once I learned to channel my love, I found my enthusiasm, I loved life completely, nothing was ever mundane or peripheral again, I understood my purpose, discovered the writer inside me, discovered the storyteller inside me. Rest is history.

My dream started with love. The kind of love that the society would brand as a failure. But they can’t say so now, because I determined for myself whether it is a happy tale or a sad tale. Unless you start taking charge of your emotions and know how to use each of them to good effect, you will allow the emotions to determine the direction of your life- and they will only point in different directions- North, South, West, East, all convoluted at different times. And before you know it, you will be falling of a high cliff.

You know you need to snap put of it, you know that every negative event can be turned into a positive cornerstone, but many of us lack that essential drive to wake up. As they say, its always easier to talk than to put into motion. When it comes into transforming our words into action, many of us fail. That what differentiates the man who has conquered the tall mountain and has etched his flag at the peak and become a legend, and the man who sits at the foot of the mountain, cursing his luck and saying ‘life is so cruel to be’. If you let life’s smallest details to take charge, then yes, life will hit you hard, it will seem like everything is falling from somewhere in the sky, hard on you.

Afterall, love’s biggest details are life’s smallest details.

Yet love is the biggest detail of your life.

That’s the irony that life presents you.

“Life is not about how hard you can hit or punch, it is about how many hits and how hard a hit you can take and still manage to wake up and continue.”- Abhishek Bachchan.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What is novelty?

I had always believed in the idea of doing something significant and highly original is the exemplary way to go in life; not only to serve for one's own pride or motives or fame, but also to be able to attain the fulfillment of contributing to the society.

And thus I recall the life is of Robert Kearns, the man who invented the intermittent windshield wiper which has been used in the automobile business since 1969 up till date, the man who invented the wiper system which had enables all of us to have variable speeds on the wipers that we are using in our cars today. He may not be a famous name to all of us, not as much as Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone or Einstein's discoveries, but nevertheless he is an inventor who fought for the right of his invention.

Kearns won a highly publicized lawsuit against the Ford Motor Company back in the 70s for infringement of the wiper patterns that he had created back in 1964. Throughout the trial, the motor company had vehemently denied that Kearns is qualified to call himself an inventor, as he has, according to them, simply 're-arranged' the pattern in a new way and that it isn't actually ground breaking or inventive or original.

However, there was a wonderful response by Kearns in regards to these claims. During the trial, Kearns (who is representing himself) asked his son to bring Charles Dickens' novel A Tale of Two Cities to the court, and asked the witness in the stands (a Ford employee who made that statement of Kearns not being an inventor) whether he had read this book. After confirming that he had, like most people in the court have, Kearns recited the first sentence of the book, and then took up a dictionary and checked up each word in that one sentence. He asked the man in the stands that since all the words in that first sentence are words that come from the dictionary, would Charles Dickens' novel be considered a copy or a non-original work? Would it not make Charles Dickens an inventor? All the Charles Dickens did was, afterall, to arrange the words that were available to him in a new pattern to create this novel, and the work was definitely original. Why then, is Kearns' invention being rendered as not original enough?

Kearns added that an inventor is whichever person who manages to use what tools are available to him/her, and create something new using the tools. And in Kearns' dictionary, the bars are not too high to become an inventor- just look around you, make best use of the tools that are available, find what is your specialty and gift, and you might one day become a creator as well, and more than that, you might become a person who contributes to the society, and you would earn yourself the license to live a fulfilling life.

Robert W. Kearns won 18.7 million US dollars in that lawsuit against Ford. A 2008 Hollywood movie called Flash of Genius documents his travails in his fight to earn his right as an inventor. He rejected a 30 million US dollars out of court settlement despite his divorce and his flaundering career- just because Ford would refuse to damage their company's reputation by admitting they infringed his patterns.

He died in 2005 of brain cancer. He was 77, and dies was an inventor, a contributor to the society. Look at your windshield wiper, and this is the man who created the pattern that enables you to vary the speed of your wipers according to the intensity of the rain.