Enough of Too Many Fractured Realities

In the time of multiple perspectives, we need stories, images and messages that come from a place of honesty

Published: 06th October 2015 05:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th October 2015 05:27 AM   |  A+A-


QUEEN'S ROAD: We all have Rashomon realities. We may be living one story but those watching us maybe seeing something very different. The Rashomon effect of course is the offshoot of a Kurosawa classic where colliding interpretations swirl around a crime.

Not hard to see why Vishal Bhardwaj would choose the same technique to tell the story of Talvar that of course revisits the horror of Aarushi Talwar’s murder. The initial reports said the screenplay had been written without the express permission of the Talwars. Now, many of their relatives are praising the film for its courageous portrayal of the flawed justice system that possibly persecuted the parents for a crime they did not commit.

So whose version is the film relating? Or maybe, that is really not the point here. Maybe the point simply is that we will never really know the truth about the truth or its many versions. The film was first shown in a foreign film fest to encouraging reviews which then were mirrored more or less by Indian critics. Most of them praising the film for showing us just how inept the law enforcement agencies are.


In a country that has millions of undertrials languishing in prisons, where men suspected of a certain food habit can be lynched, dalits can be killed for daring to enter a place of worship, lower caste girls can be raped and hung from trees, rationalists can be shot and acid attack victims struggle to get medical attention and legal help,  we sure needed a film to tell us just how inept the legal system and law and order are.

This is a system that the director of the film knows a thing or two about because she escaped it when her alleged hit and run victim in 1989 was convinced to not press charges and got nothing in lieu of 11 fractures and three surgeries. But the film is great, so why are we digressing? The Rashomon effect is a great cinematic tool but when applied to our lives, it can throw up some uncomfortable truths.

It would be nice at some point if Bollywood could make an equally gritty film about how influential celebs get away with hit and run accidents because they can. 

Journalism at its purest is about presenting all sides of a story but as we know or atleast suspect by now, most of what we read and consume today is about one convenient, majoritarian view that satisfies some vague, indefinable sense of righteousness or an emotion that we cannot put a finger on.

That is why it is reassuring when stories are told without any profiteering motive. It is reassuring when the community correspondents of Video Volunteers get together for a meet in Goa to celebrate in a small way, the impact their reporting has made on over 1.5 underprivileged lives. It is reassuring when Brandon Stanton, without any political agenda or rooted bias, gets the whole world to see that humans, be they in New York or Pakistan or Syria or Iraq, are the same and are well, human. Recently, he posted on his famous page, “For the next several days, I’m going to be sharing stories from refugees who are currently making their way across Europe. Additionally, I’ll be spotlighting some of the people who are attempting to help facilitate their immigration and asylum.”

With this simple announcement Brandon, an American photographer living in New York, tore the blinkers off the eyes of all those who do not see tragedy for what it is. A shared experience where all of us must stand for and with each other in dark times, regardless of our nationalities and beliefs.

He alone has sparked off a movement world-wide with photographers and narrators capturing moments in their cities that are about ordinary people living extraordinary stories about struggle, survival, love, loss, hope and redemption.

He is today not just a  blogger but a perception changer and prejudice destroyer and we need more like him. More representatives of truth in this world and more images, more stories, more ideas that come from a place of honesty. We need more messengers of sanity like that little girl who in a viral video told her divorced parents, “I am just trying to be nice...if I can be nice... anyone can be.” We need more images like that one in Humans of Chandigarh, where an old couple is looking in companionable silence at Sukhna Lake and the photographer, instead of interrupting their moment, clicked them from a distance and walked away. We need more moments that are not cinematic ploys. But real, authentic and transparent.


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