Saturday, April 29, 2006

Mr. and Mrs. Iyer

When I watch movies like this and then think about what I want to write about, I feel like I'm a completely different person than the one who squeals about Akshaye Khanna and uses bright pink. I certainly don't respond to the movie in the same way - becuase it's not the same kind of movie. Okay, that said, this was amazing. I loved how quickly it flipped between magical and harrowing, sweet and harsh. Somehow the quiet gentleness with which the whole story was told made the horrifying things in it seem all the more frightening. When the militants broke on to the bus, none of us knew what would happen. I was really worried for all those people; since I'd already seen a bit of each of their lives, I felt like I knew them a little.

This movie is a lovely example of a story created and told with care, which is the kind of movie I find myself responding to most in the last few years. I feel this way about Wes Anderson movies, for example. And of course we have the protagonists, who exemplify caretaking.

As a "lapsed Presbyterian,"* as I usually call myself when asked my religion, the idea that I might be on a bus ride somewhere and then have to identify my religion in order to save my life is something between** horrifying, impossible, and unreal. But after I turned off the DVD and went to bed, I kept thinking about that very question. What would I have done if I had been on that bus? What would have been the right answer? And while that violent a level of prejudice doesn't make itself visible around here too often, what goes on in more subtle ways everyday, all around us?

My favorite moment in the whole movie was when Meenakshi was standing outside the forest house and an elephant walked by in the background behind her. She never turned around, she never knew it was there. She was worried about safety, understandably, and Raja hadn't yet encouraged her to look at the magic and details of the forest. I think this is what they gave each other, in addition to safety and companionship (which is an affection of its own kind; I'm not sure I think they felt romantically towards each other outside the dramatic setting they were in): he encouraged her to look carefully, and she showed him the sweetness of being with other people. Neither of them was ignorant of these joys without the other, but I think they brought these traits out in each other.

* That isn't the whole story - I'm not just lazy - I deliberately stopped going to church as soon as I started college becasue somewhere in high school I realized I didn't believe in the major tenets of Christianity, and as I studied the reformation in college I got even less certain of what I thought made any sense. I enjoy thinking and talking about religion, as long as people don't get pushy. I admittedly have some strongly-held opinions myself, mainly based either on what I feel is the right way to treat other people or on my experiences with individuals who are members of certain faiths, but I know I need to look for chances to be challenged on those and not oversimply what people believe and why.

** Technically that should be "among," I think, since I listed more than two things. But it felt really weird.

2 comments:

Danielle B. said...

Hello Beth,

I'm a new convert to Bollywood, and found your blog, and your amazing trove of archived reviews!

I just watched Mr. and Mrs. Iyer tonight, and had to see if you wrote anything about it.

When I read your words at the beginning, how the movie made you feel like a different person, how it made you thoughtful...I was surprised, because that is exactly how I felt as well.

I consider Christ as my Lord, and I too was horrified at the brutality of the sectarian violence portrayed...it was so affecting, all without showing any blood...amazing.

What theme stood out to me, was Meenakshi's taste of another, freer life that she;d never had the opportunity to experience, but she did with Raja. Especially at the end, as Raja is going away to his exotic photo assignment, and she is standing there, holding her baby. The movie so *beautifully* communicated her longing for another life, or just that contact...if anyone was romantically involved, of the two, I think it was on her side mostly.

It left me feeling so pained for her, but also glad that I could have come along on the journey with the characters. I also loved that Raja's and Meenakshi's dialogues were in English, so I never missed out on any subtleties.

Wow. A beautiful film, which was made excellently, and was so very Indian, even without the big, showy numbers.

Thanks for letting me get all that discussion off my chest! I know this is an old post, but thanks for letting me comment!

Beth said...

Hi Danielle - Please come by anytime :) This is a film I'd really like to watch again - I think having learned more about India since my first viewing will help me get even more out of it. (My parents just watched this, actually, and they really liked it too.) It really was an amazing journey, wasn't it? What starts our looking a bit like it might be a road trip film - that sort of classic idea of strangers on some sort of transport - and ends up being about so many other kinds of movement.