Thursday, May 03, 2012

Fascinating autobiography of Balraj Sahni

here via See also his 1972 convocation address at JNU. He is very frank about his shortcomings, compromises and seems to be asking Indian to think; he indicates that during the later part of his lihe he was too busy with films and did not have really time to cotinue with his earlier programs. There are many references to communism and Marx and at one stage, he says "In effect, Marxism is 1 philosophy which can analyse every aspect of worldly life from the scientific point of view." (I do not know what 1 signifies here). I heard about this 'scientific' bit before but always got stuck in my attempts to understand Marxism. I am either stuck at the 'thesis, antithesis' stage or find concets changing meaning as one proceeds. Everytime, I have to google and try to find what Marxism is. There seem to lots of insights as explained in this article by Peter Boyle,but sometimes it seems like a theory of every thing. More often, it seems to me to be a model which can explain some situations, for example some of the current struggles in Latin America, but generally there seems to attempts by some to explain everything in terms of some Marxism.
In spite of a fairly successful film career, Balraj Sahni seems to think poorly of Hindi films. I myself think that lots of them are crappy but I still love some of the films from forties and fifties that I have seen and by dance and song sequences even from the crappy ones. I do not quite understand the reasons why I like them. Partly, what one sees at a young age tends to be a part of oneself. Partly, these films may be in some ways a continuation of the Indian theatre which had lots of music and dance sequences coming from earlier folm forma and also influences from Parsi and Marathi theatre. And there were lots of writers, actors, produced and others exposed to various ideas and struggles during the Independence movement and also the influence perhaps apolitical stars like K.L. Saigal which indicated what could succeed with the public. Perhaps exposure and experimentations with the new medium, the desire to entertain people and make money (which was again part of the tradition) and coming together of a number of talented people and who knows what else all played a part. Whatever the reason, I still love old Hindi movies and listening to songs. My granddaughter Ava who is now three and half usually listens with me. But recently I was away for a few weeks and fooling around on the internet, she found an Aishwairya Rai- Shah Rukh Khan video song and now I have to listen to it few times a day. What has changed? Who knows? Balraj sahni with his frank biography wants us to think. But there is a danger of taking ourselves too sriously.

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