06 April 2007

"Kundun" by Martin Scorsese

In 1985 I was hosted by Dr Tom Bailey and Dr Judy Bailey in Rochester Hills, Michigan in a student exchange program. Judy is a lawyer (truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth) and Tom is a dentist (tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth).

World was divided then between two super powers. Ronald Reagan was talking of "evil empire" and "star wars". Mikhail Gorbachev was tinkering with "peretroiska" and "glasnost".

Judy had just then returned from a tour of the Soviet Union and was presenting her photographs at the local church on a Sunday evening.

One photograph would stay in my mind forever. It showed a very small group of people congregating to pray; and a nice small Cross in a well decorated alcove. Sixty eight years of an atheistic political rule could not destroy religious faith and emotions.

The ability of human faith to stay alive across generations when such a faith is denied a chance to exist is amazing! Someone somewhere always keeps tiny little sparks alive for causes forced to be forgotten.

Therefore, Tibet has hope.

No matter how many years China rules Tibet; no matter how many Chinese settle down in Tibet and convert Tibet into a Chinese territory, someone somewhere would keep tiny little sparks alive to keep Tibet's identity as a peaceful serene temporal/religious system.

Kundun is the story of Dalai Lama.

The young boy is discovered to be the reincarnation of the earlier deceased Dalai Lama; is taken to Lhasa and coached in the ways of Buddhism. How does the peaceful wise leader of a non violent nation fight the aggressive plans of an ambitious, efficient and modernized army of Red China? Is the nation important? Or is "ahimsa" important? It is exceptionally difficult for a young Dalai Lama to decide.

In the end, Red China occupies Tibet and Dalai Lama is forced to move to friendly India and form a government in exile. He is yet to return to Tibet.

Tibet is forgotten by World because the aggressor does not play by its rules and the offended would not resort to terrorism.

However, nations never cease to exist. Someone somewhere keeps a tiny spark alive. Martin Scorsese's 1997 movie: Kundun is one more spark for Tibet's continued existence.

The movie stays away from melodrama. China is not portrayed as a villain. The way some Chinese narrate how Chairman Mao brought justice to their life is likely to win respect for communism. The young Lama is portrayed in life like terms: a vivid mixture of curiosity, anxiety and mischief. The maturity of the young adult Dalai Lama is nicely portrayed when he tells his mother that women cannot stay in the monastery after dark in a stern affectionate tone.

Lovely movie.

1 comment:

Baraka said...

"Are you the Lord Buddha?"

"Dalai Lama : I believe I am a reflection, like the moon on water. When you see me, and I try to be a good man, you see yourself."