Tuesday, November 28, 2006

12 Angry Men



This is what I think I am best at writing – reviews of movies that I have watched. After coming to the US of A, this has been “THE Thing” that we had been doing most of the time. Read up about old movies on the imdb website and place holds for those movies in the public library and spend all free tea-times, lunch/dinner times and weekends watching these movies.

One movie that I accidentally placed hold for was “12 Angry Men”. We were in a comedy spree watching Jack Lemmon’s movies and somehow I misread that this movie featured Jack Lemmon. But, after watching this movie I felt that I was so lucky to have made a “mistake” else we would never have watched this absolutely superb and gripping classic tale.

The whole 1 and 34 minutes of the movie, except for about 3 minutes, has been short in a small, dingy and closed room. The tale begins on a hot and sultry summer evening with the judge requesting the 12 jurors to come up with a unanimous decision based on the proceedings that they had been a part of the past 7 days. The case is about a teen kid of about 18, from the slums beaten, trodden upon and ill-treated all his life, is accused of murdering his tyrant father. All the men come in shuffling into a room, few of them muttering that it should be a quick decision to make. One of the jurors takes up the responsibility of consolidating the decision and suggests that they take a quick vote. The mode of the entire movie sets-in , as 11 men vote the accused “Guilty” and 1 person “Not Guilty”. The other 11 are shocked to find that one of them could even consider the possibility of “Not Guilty”.

Henry Fonda plays the role of this juror who believes that there could be a “Paasibility” (it sounds like this when he keeps repeating the world possibility all thru the movie) that the boy could be “Not Guilty”, with great elegance and absolute conviction. He is not sure if the boy is Guilty and at the same time does not have proof to his innocence, so he requests that the other jurors participate in a discussion by which they can confirm their decision with facts. Reluctantly the others agree and the narration proceeds to show how each single clue presented in the case is analyzed to check its validity. The initial apathy of the jurors changes slowly, as does the audience’s, as each lost point in the trial comes to light in favor of the accused.

What I liked most about the movie is how close it is to real life. The characters of the 12 people are so realistic that you can easily identify yourself or your friends in them. Juror 1 is the calm cool person who acts as a mediator and keeps the group in harmony – a born moderator. Juror 2 is the typical shy type who will give into accepting another person’s opinion instead of standing against a group of bullies to put in his point. Juror 3 is the typical arrogant, loud mouthed person who feels that all he knows is right and that if he pronounces the verdict Guilty it cannot be that others disagree with him. Juror 4 is totally convinced by the facts of the case that prove that the kid is Guilty – he is emotionless and is moved only by the truth of facts. Juror 5 is prejudiced against teen kids because his own turned out to be ungrateful by running off. Juror 6 & 7 are the ‘i-don’t-care-what-is-happening-I-will-just-support-the-majority-group’ type.

The fact that a person’s life is totally dependent on their decision does not sink into the heads of most. After all, they are not related to the person in anyway and he is just one another slum boy, whose race itself is full of murderers and robbers. One or two of them are more concerned about a game ticket that they purchased for the evening or getting home in time for dinner.
The director and script writer have done a great job in bringing these small faucets of characters to light.

I am a sucker for character analysis & suspense, which is why Agatha Christie is one of my favorite writers. For somebody who is like me, and for all others also, this one is a MUST SEE!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Shell

It is nearly a month since I blogged. We had been to a “Dream” vacation to the happiest place on Earth – Walt Disney World – Orlando & SeaWorld for about a week (3 weeks ago). After coming back from the vacation, instead of feeling rejuvenated, I started feeling depressed, home-sick, dull and whole lot of other negative things. I guess it was as one of my friends rightly put it – “A Person who is back from vacation is the one who needs a vacation the most”. I went into some kind of a stupid shell and hibernation. There were scores of emails to reply to, dozens of calls to return to, zillions of photos to organize and upload for those eagerly waiting loving friends – but the heart was not set in doing any of these.

Then finally I gave into the persistent inquires of my lovely friends as to why I was not blogging! Thanks dear ones – your inquiries made me feel so much wanted. I felt so happy that here are these darling friends who visit this URL often and want to know more of my thoughts, it touched me a lot. And so here I am, re-inspired, about to embark on another journey of keys & html Pages (aka papers and pens) to ramble about happenings around me and what I feel/think of them.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Strangers And "Apne Log"

He drives the big machine in the corridors of the place where I sit and never fails to give me a broad grin and call out “Happy Monday/Tuesday…” (based on which day of the week it is). I don’t know his name; just know that he is a mechanic working in the same area where I sit. He might be an American, Mexican or some other race – I don’t know. There is another “he”, who waves or slightly nods in acknowledgement when he crosses my place and catches my eye. On Days when I am sad / blue / thinking of something bothersome when one of these two smile/wish me – for a moment there I feel so cheerful. I have heard often and got many forwards that say “A Smile can change the course of day / A Smile is a curved line that sets things straight” – it is in these moments of cheer that I feel all that is so true.

And that sets me thinking – there are zillions of Indians working in this place (in fact at lunch you see such a crowd that you wonder if Americans are at a tourist spot in India) – and atleast 10 people in my area whom I cross almost every single day – but not one of them has ever smiled at me or said so much as a Hello. I always thought that belonging to the same race/religion/state/community gave one a feeling of togetherness. When we lived in Vizag, we would often find so much solace in finding a fellow Tamilian. But, coming to the US of A made me realize that it is not so – or atleast from the experiences I had, or my friends shared with me. Why do Indians run away from fellow Indians in this country? Why are they so wary to even share a small courteous smile or “Good Morning”?

For nearly 90 days, I took the same ferry from Newport across to New York and each day I would see this trio of Indian girls – talking and giggling. I am not a person to go out of the way and start a conversation – I am too terrified to do that. But, after a month or so – I decided to take the bold step (especially after hearing snatches of conversation in Telugu from them) and talked to one of them – that too in Telugu. All I could get out of them was a “Yes” or a “No” – close ended answers that were hinting – “why the hell are you still standing here making a stupid conversation?” I was not asking them for money, nor was I threatening them and neither do I look that bad/dull/boring – then why this cold shouldering? Even the other day, here, I tried smiling at 2 girls who walk past my suite for lunch – and then tried to squeeze out a half baked smile before hastily turning away their eyes.

When we trekked in Smokies, every single American/Chinese family that crossed us said “Hi” and few of them would smile and remark – “That is one wonderful trek”/”Boy! You have a long way ahead”/”Hang on – you are half way up already” – something nice, polite and charming. Then comes this Indian group/Couple and the moment their catch us, they either start furiously searching for something they “lost” on the ground or start admiring non-existent flowers high up the trees. Hey! Mister/Miss – why happened suddenly? Don’t I look familiar? Coming from the same mother land as yours? Will smiling at me reduce your bank balance by 1000$? Oh! I give up! A couple of years ago – on my 1st and 2nd trips to this country – this bothered me a lot – but now I guess even I don’t care!

My day started off well today. This German person, Michael was trying to take out something at a Vending machine, close to where I sit, and his Dollar would not work – so he caught me on the way back to my seat to ask if I could exchange my Dollar for his. While walking to my place, he started a conversation – inquiring which part of India I was from. He told me about his visits to India – where he went and how he liked the place. He is never going to meet me again for all that I know – what was the need to talk to me? He could have just taken his dollar and walked off! But that small conversation with him was nice – just humane.

Before I end off – though I have seen this typical behavior of Indians avoiding unacquainted fellow country men, I was pleasantly surprised one day in the Gym – when this elderly Indian person started a casual conversation with me – of this and that. Maybe things are changing .... for good.