Thursday, February 18, 2016

Chungking Express (Hong Kong, 1994)


Country Series – This will feature countries from alphabetical order, A to Z. One film from a country will be written. Next in the series will be from I...

Earlier Posts - Afghanistan, Burma, Columbia, Denmark, Egypt, Fiji, Georgia, Jamaica

Don’t ask is Hong Kong is still a country? This film came when Hong Kong was still with British.

I had always been fascinated by films which deal with multiple stories. There will be a particular place where all the stories will be connected, so we will be eager to see the moment. Films like Ameros Perros, Babel, Ayuda Ezuthu deals with multiple stories with a connecting point. I thought Chungking Express will be like the one amongst the above listed films. But it turned out to be like K BalachanderOru Veddu Iru Vasal”- a theme based Tamil film. The connecting point in the Chungking is love or getting out of the break-up phase.

What is this Chungking mean? It’s a mansion, or a group of building in the city of Hong Kong. The story is set in the hustle and bustle of this mansion, where people living in close quarters. A quick run through Wiki says, Chungking mansion has eclectic number of people with different nationalities. Bound by its anthropology the film has all sorts of characters from different nationalities- Indians (Pakisthanis, Indians, Bangaladesis), Asians (Chinese, Thai..) & Westerners.


The first part deals with a cop (No. 223) falling in love with a blonde girl. Cop 223 is already into a break-up and he is whining about it. The blonde girl, prepares a set of drug mules, but she losses them to her rival in the airport. She moves to a bar and bumps into the cop No. 223. They end up in her apartment. 

The next story is about a beat cop No. 663, who is also in his love break-up with a air hostess. He meets Faye, a waitress in a small eatery. Both the cop and Faye play hide and seek game with their love.


Every 4th scene someone is cleaning something! Is Hong Kong people that clean consciousness. There is no story; no plot develops in both the stories, no specific ending. There is no connecting point between both the stories. You might be frustrated, if you look at the film like a conventional film.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Philosopher Kings & Queens


In one of my last posts (BEEP..I like this sound), I wrote about casting of vote in elections. Continuing with the momentum on participating the democratic exercise, I had to get deep into my thoughts to find guy named Plato!!. 

Some 2500 years before, in his dialogue called Republic, he and his master Socrates overlooked democracy or popular vote to choose the ruler. Instead Plato constructed that the ruler should be a learned, wise men (women) as “philosopher-kings” or “philosopher-queens”. By any means, I’m not a western philosophy expert or even its distant pupil. I picked it here in this video.

The ship analogy holds good. To steer the ship in troubled waters, it is not enough for someone to be elected by means of popular vote, but they should have the subject matter in guiding the ship, likewise the ruler has to be incorruptible and a wise men to guide the country.

Plato must be right, but then it has been so many centuries passed, more political thoughts were evolved. Administration and judiciary became separate entities (In fact this was thought in the same Greece, by Aristotle), which was later elaborated by English and French thinkers.

Cut forward to India in 1949, with all the systems in place (most in papers!), the constitution was submitted in the Constituent Assembly. Ambedkar in his concluding speech (refer) in the assembly highlighted three important factors, which need to be adhered to maintain the democracy,
  1. There should be no civil disobedience. Every issues should be addressed via constitution
  2. "Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship"
  3. "We must do is not to be content with mere political democracy. We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well."
Ambedkar further went on to give a caution, that “On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions”. Amebdkar should be a prognostic to foresee how India will be in the turn of 21st century.

Every issue is not addressed via constitution. It needs a civil disobedience or unrest (hartals, bandh, fasting, dharna, effigy\bus\train burnings…) to get the attention of the people in power. People in power are worshiped, there is no dearth of demi-gods (not only in politics, we have demi-gods in sports, entertainment, literature, arts, administration..). With all these the social democracy is thrown in the bin. 

Quoting Ambedkar here was to highlight how the idea of democracy had been progressed from the time of Plato. The criticism of Plato’s “philosopher-kings\queens” was that it till pave the way for dictatorship (hero worship), which did happen in many parts of the world. The life of contradictions, which Ambedkar feared is clearly visible. We have the “philosopher-kings\queens” elected directly by the people in the name of elections. I know who (make it plural) I'm referring to here.

Last call – To make electoral changes. 

<May be continued>

**Above picture collage by the blogger