Friday, 22 December 2017

What should be one's take away from Velaikkaran?

Before I start off, let me put a clear disclaimer. I'm not writing this with the perception required for a review, criticism or whatever you call it. The movie is good to watch, it has a lot of positives, some logical loop holes, a mind-blowing set of a slum on a near perfection scale and many other technically brilliant elements, but, the forthcoming write-up is not about these aspects of the movie. This is not about Sivakarthikeyan, Nayanthara, Fahad, Anirudh, or even Mohan Raja, but it's about the crux of it and my understanding about the movie. I hope, I had the same understanding that every other spectator who shared the seats with me today, had. If not, I want the readers of this write-up to take a bit to learn what Velaikkaran has taught me. Still, I ensure this is totally spoiler-free.

Since I had been to the early morning show of the movie, which was over only by 8.30 am, I had to 'rush' to my office to be on 'time', to be precise, 9 am, my reporting time. So my learning from Velaikkaran started right from here, aptly from the words 'time' and 'rush'. I work for a media house basically. The first thing, any employee out there, irrespective of the profession, needs to learn when joining a job is 'time'. And, if you fail time, the you've to 'rush'.

Taking this into the first person account. I have to place my thumb impression before 9 am. If I fail, the biometric device marks me under 'SRT' category (colloquially, time shortage). This follows me till the end of the month, when my immediate boss calls me and establishes the statistics of my attendance. Some 'n' number of days I would've been marked under SRT by a lifeless biometric device, that gains more trust and respect at that point, than myself in my office. This is going to be common across all other small, medium and large scale industries round the globe. But, the point to be noted here is, no biometric device, that marks 'SRT' is going to mark you under 'EXT' category if you reach early (I am personally adding this term to dictionary. In my definition, EXT refers to Excess Time). And, no boss is going to appreciate you for that. Because, you've to be before 9 am, no matter what. And no one cares if you're earlier to office, at 8.30, 8 or even if you stay all night at your cubicle.

Coming back to my drive from movie to office. When I was rushing, I was struck in traffic. This time, traffic is the next hurdle for me. Traffic irritates me a lot and I'll starve inside, for fellow motorists on road to understand my situation and leave me way. Let me break my first person account here and stand out of this traffic. I could see that every other person on road was rushing, of course, to be on 'time'. Because, each one has to check-in to a biometric device, sign on an attendance log or at least wish their boss 'good morning' before time. From this perception, all I see is that, it's another Santhosh Mathevan who is standing next to me in the booming traffic, who as well wants me to leave way as he is equally irritated like me.

So, its not the traffic or the attendance that is pressuring us, but 'time'. It's all because, time was devised to do so. Let me illustrate.

When I almost reached office, I had to cross a busy bus terminal that's close to my office. There'll be a small service road branching out from the main road near this bus terminal. The obstacle for me here is, the share auto stand of the bus terminal is along this service road. Since the service road is cramped in terms of width, if two share autos go down the lane at the same time, the passage will be totally blocked. And this happens most of the time. Having my office at a distance of not even 300 meters, my irritation doubles. This has sometimes even led me to involve in verbal altercations with share auto drivers, obviously, with abusive words from both sides. But, from the point of a share auto driver,  to what he does is no lesser to what I do. He runs for his life and I run for mine. We both are under the same constraint, 'time' and 'demand'. Only if he plys his vehicle between 8 to 10 in the morning, he could fill his pockets and tummy for that day.

For him, Santhosh, as a third person is a hurdle he has to face during his routine. On a larger scale, he needs to face a lot of Santhoshes everyday. On his entire work-time of any day, blocking a service road for just five minutes is totally negligble. But for Santhosh, this five minutes is so significant, as he might fall under SRT. In simple phrase, our 'times' are influenced by each other and the 'demand' of his customers and my newspaper. Means, there is no difference between a fellow motorist, a share auto driver and me with regards to rushing-to-be-on-time aspect. Abusing him on an accurate caliper means, I'm abusing myself. This is Velaikkaran all about.

The back end of the movie defines this theory deeply, that one has to understand its layers not just as a spectator, but as a person, who runs for livelihood, fearing 'time' and 'demand', the two factors that actually need not exist at all.

When I discuss with myself any number of times on why should I fall in the time-trap, the only conclusion I could infer was, 'time was not created to ease me, but to slave me'. Apparently, becoming a time's slave is not becoming slave of a third party, but within.

Let me take my own scenario. Why am I expected to be at office on time? Because, I work for an English evening daily, which has to reach the shops and stalls by 3 pm. For making this happen, my colleagues and I have to work from 9 am to 2 pm. In a parallel life-cycle, consider a food product company's sales executive, who has to deliver a carton of biscuits to a super market. Both of us, are labours for five to eight hours a day. But for the rest of the hours, we are consumers of each others products.

The salesman, during his consumer-hours buys an eveninger at a newspaper stall. At the time, he picks the first newspaper he finds at the stall. And so, my boss wants our newspaper to be the first one in stalls, for which I've to be on time at work to satisfy the readers demand. On the other hand, I, during my consumer-hours go for shopping to a super market, to buy a biscuit pack. This time, I look for a biscuit with a specification, say a 'wheat biscuit'. Because, that's my 'demand', as, my doctor advised me to have wheat, as it fights back diabetes (This is just for the article. I'm all healthy). So, this salesman, who does not really know the original composition of the biscuits he sells, markets it as wheat biscuit as instructed by his company's production department and, to be on par with a customer's demand. This also is due to the factor 'time' - since, he has to achieve his target of 'n' number of biscuit cartons to be sold every month.

Imagine, if the salesman does not need to know his news from the first newspaper he finds in the stall, or if I really do not need a wheat biscuit. Irony is that, both of us really do not have the discretion over our time or demand. Why should one know a news first? Will a news expire if it reaches late? Or why should I prefer wheat biscuit? Is that biscuit really made of wheat? What made my doctor to suggest me wheat?

A news is a done piece of history that is going to have a lifetime validity even if it comes first or late. On the other hand, wheat has the same amount of carbohydrate that rice contains, and it eventually ends up giving you diabetes, if you really believe rice causes diabetes. So, why a news or wheat product is forced upon us? And, Velaikkaran answers these questions. I'm the consumer whom I want my paper to be read by. The money I earn as a seller, is spent by me as a consumer to another seller who is my consumer. We are stuck literally in a web knitted by the capitalist community, that wants us to toggle between this demand and time factors by making our wealth to stay back in the web but not with us at anytime.

If I do not need a wheat biscuit to fight diabetes and if you do not need a newspaper that reaches first to the stalls, only then this web loosens and eventually fails. And, it's on our hands, says Velaikkaran.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, Dec 22, 2017.

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