Slowly, but steadily, I found myself a new favorite Director. Defining what it takes to be my favorite Director is a whacky process. I don’t think I know clearly how I consider any Director as my favorite. I feel that it has got more to do with how I want to be viewed amongst my friends. Declaring Vetrimaran or Anurag Kashyap as my favorite Director has got something to do with the ‘fashion statement’ I am making about myself. Wait a minute – I think I’m being hard on myself. I don’t think what I just said is 100% true. It’s not just a fashion statement; Of course, they are cool enough to be called as my favorites, but it is indeed true that I genuinely like them – the topics they choose to make films on, what their characters in these films speak – their language, their world-view, how these Directors carry themselves offline. What do they say after their film releases – before their film releases? Are they honest; are they classy? I mean, it’s not just about whether I liked the film or not (In fact, I haven’t watched ‘Aadukalam’ the second time. I cannot stand to see Karuppu lose all his money). It’s this whole package.
So, where was I? New favorite Director – It’s Oliver Stone.
It’s not like I like conspiracy theories or I am being anti-establishment or anti-Republican philosophy (In fact, if I were an American, I’d have voted Republican). What attracted me towards his films were his consistent selection of the topics he chooses to make his films on. Needless to say, he likes the docudrama genre, with politics being his predominant area of interest. He has this immense curiosity to go beyond the surface and look deep into the details. In ‘W’ – he doesn’t make ‘W’ look as a plain villain. He tells his back story with complete earnestness. Of course, in the end, you tend to dislike ‘W’ – but at least, he gives you enough information about why you dislike him. Like I always said – films act like mirror to your personality. If you are careful enough to observe, it tells you a lot about you as a person. It unravels your prejudices, your pent up emotions – and if you are earnest enough, makes you come out of these and tries to make you a better person. You will try to be careful not to do what that character in that film.
As I write this, I do find a common thread between Vetrimaran, Anurag Kashyap and Oliver Stone. As much as their chosen topics are at a certain elevated level – about rooster fights or JFK conspiracy or a girl’s kidnapping – deep inside, they all tell stories of imperfect humans – like us. I know that you must be wondering – why am I taking ‘films’, of all things, so seriously? Sadly, I have never known to do otherwise. In one sense, I am the perfect audience for these directors. I believe everything they say – I truly believe them. I am that person whom they dream about telling their story to. I have this 100% suspension of disbelief. I don’t question them. I surrender to their story. And yes, in the end – they don’t tell me what to do. They don’t tell me what is right or wrong. They never attempt that. They give you the puzzle – puzzle defined by their protagonists’ actions and character traits. And it’s up to me as a person to derive what I want to.
In one way, I think their films are a different guide to spirituality. Either you learn from the perfect-true-best philosophies (like Upanishads or Thirukkural) OR you learn from imperfect characters. You can learn as much from imperfection, as you can learn from the truth.