What is the most basic difference between books and movies?
To me, movies have always been about watching someone’s life and books are about living that life. The essence of any book lies in the fact that I get an opportunity to imagine myself as a different person in a different set up, and analyze my reactions in those fictional situations.
Books are never about stories, they are about philosophy,culture, ethics, the time, the society,the characters and the beliefs of the author.This is the major problem I had with Shantaram. The author is not talking to me, he is telling his story. I do not know why he falls in love, what he likes about his friends, how and why he makes the decisions he makes. This lack of background or motivation for actions of all the characters is jarring. The romantic love or the fatherly love, all happens at the first sight for Roberts. He forgives his tormentors because he has to. He leaves the people he loves because- just!
Also, there is something indecent about praising yourself continuously. Roberts’ description conveys as if he is the modern day Robin Hood who meets Don Carleone. Since the novel is written in first person, it seems even more self-congratulatory.
However, the initial one-third of the book left me with some interesting thoughts on a few topics which I am listing below.
FREEDOM & SOLITUDE
Is a man free, when he is physically free to do as he desires. Or is he free when he breaks the mental shackles telling him what he cannot/ should not do.
Is the end of fear the real nirvana? What all we can realize and experience if we let go of fear. Or if the fear itself is so overwhelming that we just start taking things in their stride, knowing that nothing worse can happen than what we have known.
Does being truly free means being alone? Not just in the physical sense, but not having expectations from the people we love and loving them nonetheless. Not getting attached to any place because the entire world remains for you to explore but liking those places nonetheless.
Can we fall in love with looks, eyes, mannerisms and ideas of a person without knowing their inner values and without trusting them?
Can we actually break the heart in the right way, so that the whole worlds seeps in through the cracks?Is that what sets us free, knowing that we are the only ones for ourselves, yet the love is ours to spread to the world.
This is where the concepts of love and freedom get entwined. Does real love mean the love without hope? Do we become free when we fall in this kind of love? Is this the way of the Sufis and the Monks?
VILLAGE AND SLUM LIFE
Does the calm of village life comes from knowing the boundaries, making the decision to be content, containing your heart from being digressed, knowing yourself and realizing yourself. Can we contain the river of our heart by tying some poles, as the villagers do at the time of flooding?
Every person must live in a slum to understand how the most unprivileged in the world live, and how they find happiness and love in spite of their circumstances. It might be the one thing which will obliterate our fear of being poor and desolate from our hearts.
Almost everybody understands and believes that happiness and contentment are not associated with money but does that stop our pursuit of money and material possessions in anyway. Can we share what we have and do we actually have the intent to share for the betterment of everybody. Wouldn’t we be more content in helping a sick person than eating a meal that would eventually make us sick?
Image Credit : Mukesh Chandra