Monday, January 31, 2011

बंद करो. साँस.-- Stop. Breathe.

There are moments that can literally make your heart stop beating. Whether it be from beauty, shock, surprise, terror, or unadulterated awe. Each of us experiences these moments at some part of our lives. Times where we just stop for a brief moment, and reflect, thinking "oh my this real?".

Like I've said before, I've had an obsession with Bollywood films of late. My favorite one at this point is titled Devdas (the 2002 film, not 1950's). If you want an authentic look at Indian culture at the turn of the century, then this is the movie for you. It literally shows all of the hair, dress, architecture, and traditions that this culture is known for.

The plot line consists of two childhood friends, Devdas and Paro, who are meeting for the first time in 10 years--after Devdas' father sent him to London to straighten him out. All this time, they have been in love with one another from afar. When they meet, a spark happens and the talk of marriage immediately ensues in their families. However, if you are familiar with the Indian culture, they have different social classes, from which they may never move from. Devdas and Paro are members of seperate castes, and his family will not allow this union. In anger, Paro is sold to an aristocrat to be his young bride and take care of his older children.

The two are heartbroken, especially Devdas. He uses every attempt to kill himself from the pain, and eventually turns to the drink. This upsets Paro, who is still madly in love with him, even though she is now stuck in her loveless marriage.

I don't want to ruin the rest of the story for you. I truly recommend you watch it at some point (you can rent it from Amazon on Demand for just 3 bucks, or download it from for $5 to keep--English subtitles included).

But what does any of this have to do with my opening about heart-stopping moments?

The cinematography from Devdas is spectacular (until Slumdog Millionaire, it was the most expensive Bollywood project in history). The second scene is absolutely no exception.

Devdas is coming to see Paro for the first time. When he knocks, Paro runs throughout her exquisite home and hides in her bedroom. A wasp begins to attack her, and she uses a sheet to scare it away. As the music climaxes, the door opens wide. The sheet falls around Paro. And suddenly we see Devdas for the first time.

The moment is silent. When I first watched it, I was in complete awe over it. It is something absolutely beautiful to watch.

In fact, you can watch it here. Be forewarned that there are no subtitles in this clip (if you need a translation for any part, I'll be happy to assist):

I know this is a long post, hang in here with me, folks.

When I began to think about that moment in the film, and applied it to my everyday life, I realized that those are among some of the best moments in our lives.

Although I don't have the music to put to it, the moments that I met some of my closest friends stick out in my mind such as this. When I was told of my grandmother's death, everything seemed to stop for just a second. I suppose if and when I meet "Mr. Right" (more on that for another post) there will be a moment like that.

Directors and screenwriters have the upper hand in these types of moments, because they are able to use a mix of music, dialogue, and visuals (all meticulously edited) that they know will get the audiences blood pumping. But us "black and white" writers must rely on using real human emotions.

When I write, I go for the same effect as these moments provide. My current book relates very well to this scene in Devdas when my own childhood lovers meet again. Hearts stop, sparks kindle... It provides a brief release of all these emotions that we're feeling, whether in a good or bad way. I suppose this is a very human feeling, something that many of us need to have at some point in our lives in order to stop and think "Hey, this is important. This is one of those reasons for living".

Many times, this is what makes the most popular books as popular as they are. They are able to get the reader's blood pumping, fully bring them into the emotions of this story. And then BAM...give them something that makes readers go "wow".

I'm off to do some more writing, my friends. If you need more Bollywood recommendations, leave a comment. :)


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