Thursday, March 1, 2007

Eklavya... A trip to Bollywood

Tonight we took a trip to Bollywood, though not your typical song-and-dance number. The movie is called Eklavya, and is a modern day rendition and extrapolation of an ancient fable from the Mahabarata, to the best of my knowledge, the Homeric work of Indian folklore (Maha=great).

Eklavya was a gifted archer of low-caste beginning who studied archery in only the presence of a clay image of Arjuna's great guru. Arjuna, the archer hero of the Mahabarata, feared that his preeminence in archery would soon be surpassed by the low-caste Eklavya, and asked his guru to remedy the situation. Drona, his guru, demanded Eklavya's right thumb as payment. When asked to recuse himself from a future in archery, in deference to duty, Eklavya obliged and had his thumb cut off to make way for the great Arjuna.

Although complicated, and in HINDI (thanks Ruksha for the translation!), the movie Eklavya overturns and makes amends to the ancient fable of duty. I found my first Bollywood experience to be wonderful. Driven by powerful images, vivid colors, emotive physiognomy and expressive eyes -- perhaps more impactful because I understand little Hindi -- my first trip to the theater, seeing the Big B (Amitabh Bachchan) on the big screen, was a cultural couple hours in great company.

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