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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Good Bully

I found this picture in an online journal of an independent filmmaker whose caption read “I don’t know who gets credit for it, but it says so much”. How very true. The beauty of a good work of art, acc to me at least, is that it gives its audience their own space to connect the dots, to understand the work in their own way. Be it a painting, a song, a movie or whatever. A good work of art is always open for interpretation. This blog entry is my interpretation of the highly criticized movie “No Smoking”. This isn’t a review though, so please read on even if u hated the movie.

The movie is about a rich good-looking cigarette addict who goes by the name “K”. K has a wife who hates his smoking and threatens to leave him if he doesn’t mend his way. So unwillingly K visits the “Prayogshala”, a rehab institute run by Baba Bangali. Baba Bangali is a man who wont take no for an answer and threatens K that if he doesn’t stop smoking there will dire consequences.

Now what I found of great interest in the movie was that I ,as an audience ,can never make up mind as to who is the bad guy. When the movie begins u hate K for his arrogance, rudeness and utter lack of concern for others. But midway start sympathizing with him knowing Baba Bangali has threatened to kill off his brother and wife if he dares smoke again. Baba’s intention might be good but blackmailing isn’t the way to go. Its wrong to force someone to do something even if it is for his own good
.....or is it?
Think about this last line for a minute.

Even K’s wife, who loves him so much, has taken the same route since nothing else worked. She had no options left except emotional blackmail. So who is the bad guy here? Who’s wrong?

Imagine your friend is a chain smoker like K. But he knows about its ill-effects as well as you do and still wants to continue. You have tried to talk him out of it many times but nothing has worked. What do u do now? Let him live his life his way or stop him from harming himself by forcing him to stop? How much is too much?

This is the underlying theme for the movie, I think. At the time anurag made this movie, he too was feeling the way. Anurag here is K and the people around him are Baba Bangali telling him what’s wrong and what’s not. Telling him what kind of movies should be made instead of letting him do his own thing. K’s wife , in this case, are the well-wishers around him asking him “Why don’t u just do wat these people are saying? Why do u have to be so stubborn?” These people dont mean any harm but as causing it nonetheless cause they don’t understand why anurag wants to make the films his own way. They just want him to be successful and happy not realizing that their idea of success isn’t the same as his.

The picture above captures that very idea, the very essence, of “No Smoking”. The angel, a symbol of good, doesn’t mean to cause harm but is in fact the root of the problem.If only the angel would let the man live his life his own way. If only the angel would just let go.....