Film Review: Man of Steel

When I was a kid, my favorite story was the story of Madhushudhandada. My father told me this tale once during a weekend break at Ashoka Lodge in Hazaribagh, and then had to tell me the story a few thousand times over. I knew the story backwards, but I never tired of asking him to tell it to me again. And every time he did, he would throw in new tidbits, a new character here, a twist in the tale there, and I listened with the intentness of a seeker of truth. It wasn’t till I grew up to where my father had been, that I realized that in my seeking that telling of the story over and over again, I was creating my own understanding of the rules that life deals by, learning to comprehend the playbook, and to improve my own game.

It is the same with Bhagavad Gita, the book of Genesis, Pagla Dashu or the story of Superman. Each reading reveals new contexts, new meaning and leaves you with new insights. Depending on where you are in life, you learn new ways to apply the lessons. We love these tales because they assure us that we are all paired with another end of our spectrum that is flawless and unlimited, that good will eventually triumph since that is the nature of the universe, and that the mess that we are in is there for us precisely because we can overcome it and prove that the spirit of man is indomitable. And some other things too, which I am perhaps too old to look kindly upon.

Chris Nolan set the reboot expectations high with Batman, and it is difficult to leave them aside as one takes a look at Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Like many of my generation, it was not a movie that could wait for next week, and so there we were on a weekday evening, our 3D glasses on, delving into a retelling of a story we all know too well with the same excitement with which we watch election specials on television.

I am not big on reviews, especially for new releases that I look forward to, but it was hard to escape the overall sense of disappointment that critics were voicing. But then, that is why they are called critics. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t till I started watching the film that I began oohing and aahing at the cast. The story begins with an in-depth look at the conflict that led to the downfall of Krypton, the enmity between Superman’s father and the rebel leader Zod, and the arrival of Superman on earth. The visual depiction is gorgeous. For those who have been cribbing about the overdose of CGI, well, this is a celluloid-on-steroid comic book hero, not exactly Citizen Kane. And yes, it is shot on celluloid. Henry Cavill looks like he has walked out of a men's grooming product ad and it is not till well into the film that you start taking to him. By the end of it, regardless of gender, you will admit that he is kind of hot.

Things I Am Grateful My Father Did Not Teach Me

'The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being.'  ~ Nichiren Daishonin

My dad is superman. The flurry of fathers’ days posts this weekend drove this point home to me more forcefully than ever before. Not superman in the sense of being a man of steel, but in terms of being what every man should be (not all of which is steel, by the way). More than what he has taught me, I am grateful for what he did not teach me. Here are some things he did not teach me for which I will remain eternally grateful.

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others

Dad chose to skip this lesson, and allowed me to grow up respecting all people equally, regardless of their erudition, ethnicity or economics. I was taught to treat those less fortunate than me with the respect that is due to all sentient beings, and the question of discriminating never occurred to me till I began to see it in others as I grew up.

Nothing Lacking, The World Is Yours

I bumped into Micky Fernandez on Indiblogger, and since most of his writings revolved around Kolkata and movies, I got hooked. He wrote because he needed to write, and he didn't care about what the trends were, or what the done thing was. His O&E of an Expat in India is like a breath of fresh air, and I immediately assumed he was a relic, a statistical anomaly. But his photography, his opinions and his experiences seemed to suggest otherwise. Here was someone who was not iffy about what he believed in, and was doing all he could to get others to see his point. His expat perspective made it all the more interesting. Somewhere down the line we got talking and then we met, and it was a true meeting of minds, since we were both thinking and doing the same things, trying to get at the same mother lode from different points of the cultural spectrum. As is always the case, this post has been sitting with me for a while, waiting for me to edit out those bits that I find mushy, the bits that I fear might not go well with the "broader reading public." But then that would take away the essence of this piece. So here it is, as it was written, as it was meant to be read.


Shortly after I became aware of Subhorup Dasgupta's blog, I began to admire him because not only is he a good writer but also he and I seem to share the same "less is more" philosophy. More recently, we started corresponding by emails. In a recent one, he surprised me by asking me to consider writing a guest post for him. I had heard of this concept, but I had always thought of it as being a waste of valuable time. After all, I am concerned about maintaining my own blog. Moreover, I did not know the mechanics of it; I did not know in what manner or format I could send a post to him. Nevertheless, because I felt honored by the request, I considered it.

I thought that I had two options: 1) I could ask him to replicate either My Life in Boxes post or My Life in a Suitcase post which describe my minimalist philosophy, or 2) I could write an original post elaborating on these concepts and showing how they can be applied and of benefit. After reading his Guest Posts page, I decided that the latter was more appropriate and better.

Grace and Abundance
Grace is a state of mind, of being able to see that receiving is really the other side of giving, that without one, the other cannot exist.

I realized, though, that I did not know how they can be applied and of benefit in other situations and for other people but I knew that I would arrive at a solution. I believe that I have done so now. I believe that because I believe that. I believe that it is best not to harm other individuals. If I believed otherwise then it would be incumbent upon me to change my belief. After all, why believe in something that is objectively not good, or not as good or better than something else? Moreover, I have come across some statements that verify the veracity of my approach.

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