100421 – Meditations

Today’s post is about this restlessness in my head and heart for no apparent reason. May sound like a rant. Read at peril.

0728. Andheri.

Woke up about 15 minutes ago. Must have slept for 8 or so hours. Yesterday I was probably at the lowest points in my life. I don’t know why. I don’t know what was causing it. I literally slept through the day. It could be the house but I think I have made it bearable now. I even went for a walk and forced myself to do 10K steps. That did not help either. Oh, by the time I ended, I was so tired and breathless that I couldn’t even walk. Had to take a rick to come back. Since I needed a distraction, I saw this Malayalam film, Joji, and live-tweeted it. Here are the tweets in case. Interesting film. Good narrative. It’s one time watch for sure. I do feel that the story could’ve been better! But then my opinions may not make a lot of sense. Who am I after all? Unless I write a few things myself that are good enough for the world to take note of!

So that. On to #book2

[START]

Ankit was the dark horse of the family. Once he wanted something he wanted. By hook or crook. Or by Saam, Daam, Dand, Bhed. He could very well be the Duryodhana from Mahabharata. Often angry for no reason, often irritable for no fault of others, often at high pedestal that was accorded to him purely by his lineage, often rude when not required. When he was a child, even though his father knew where this was going, he did not believe in interfering with fate. Things that were written in the stars had to happen. Even if you used all your might, you’d not be able to stop those from happening.

So when Siddh, the Bhishma, had the opportunity to stop the young Ankit in his tracks, he chose not to. Rather he focused his energies on preparing for the hell Ankit was going to rain down on their tiny hamlet. A large part of the plan rested in finding the Krishna that would eventually goad the Pandavas into stopping Ankit. And that was becoming a problem. Each passing day he was getting older. Ankit was getting more and more belligerent. There was nothing that the old man, the father could do. Except wait. And keep others around him placated. His only hope was that he would find the savior soon. The other saving grace was that there was no sign of Indraprastha or Drauapadi. Yet. He knew it was a matter of time before Ankit would get fixated on something, someone that he would start showing his true colors.

Of course Siddh count confide this into anyone. His only companion was long gone. All he had were his books. Even if he tried to talk to others, they would probably dismiss. Being religious is one thing but being able to see the future is another altogether. People in Goa may be simpletons but they were not fools. Siddh, thus kept to himself.

[END]

So this is probably the first time I have expressed that I want Book2 to be an ode to Mahabharata and more importantly, Anjum Rajabali Sir.

What else do I want to talk about? Lemme think and write disjointed notes…

a, The lockdown for the next two days. I don’t even know how would I survive. I will try and walk around and see how it goes. Let’s see how it goes. I am supposed to go out on Sunday morning, going by the prep the cops had made yesterday, I am not sure if I’d be able to. Let’s see.

b, The mouse I ordered yesterday is here. Wireless is magic. The computer can now be perched at a distance and I and sit back and work. Well done, Mr. Garg. Why did I not think of this earlier? 😀

c, The quarterly letter that I send to mentors (archive here) needs to go this weekend. It was supposed to go last week but I could not edit it. This weekend, the letter is my task number 1. Everything else may wait. Lemme know if you want a copy!

d, Song of the day is an old favorite – So Gaya Ye Jahan. Here.

I guess that’s about it. I feel I have a lot more to say but I am unable to find the words. May be during the day? May be these morning pages / meditations are becoming a drag, a routine, and I have stopped deriving values from these? I mean I talk about how I spent the day. I talk about what I plan to do the next day. I share some of my thoughts that I don’t talk to the world about. I dump whatever is clouding my head. I almost never go back to what I have written. Except for those few days when I want to see where I was on a certain date in the past. I am not sure why I ought to continue with this. I mean, for that matter, I can question the meaning of life and all that. After all anything and everything we do while we are here is meaningless, pointless. Most of us would be forgotten within 50 years of dying. The impact we make would not last more than 100 years. We’d be lucky if things we create (companies, books, etc) live for more than 200 years after we are gone.

Reminds me of Camus and the Sisyphus. Despite not having meaning in anything that I do (including writing this post every day), the notion in my head that it keeps me going is what keeps me going!

Oh, here’s the thing. I have not read Camus. I merely know his name and what he talked about when he walked about Sisyphus. All I did was see this video to understand what he said. And here I am. Using his name like I am a scholar, deeply interested in his life. Lol. You see the problem there?

Anyhow. Enough for the day. Loads of rocks need to be rolled up some very high mountains. Oh, streaks? Here…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 118 (yesterday was 119 but today I checked and I am at 118. I made a mistake somewhere!)
  • #aPicADay – 99 (again, I checked. Today’s post will be 100th.)
  • 10K steps a day – 2
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 31
  • #noCoke – 31
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 1
  • Killer Boogie – 0

130321 – Morning Pages

Update on what’s on the top of my mind. Guess what?

6:35. Thane. Ashi and Parry’s place.

I am in Thane. At Ashima and Parry’s place. I had a meeting this side of the world and I decided to stay back. Ashima is by far the best cook chef I know and if I want to eat good food, I make the trek to Thane to get fed. That’s as far as my indulgence with food takes me. Oh, yesterday I decided that I would fast for 48 hours and reset my gut. I had forgotten that I am going to Ashi’s place. I can’t eat when am with her. Plus the weekend typically is a time when I get to meet friends and that means that I am forced to have something or the other. So it’s impossible to not eat on the weekends. I will try the gut-reset, 48-hour fast from Sunday evening onward. So that.

This is the shot from her window.

Gotham-eque!

In other news, my father got the COVID vaccine. To be honest I did not want them to take the vaccine. For multiple reasons. A, the vaccine is still in the clinical trial and no one knows the long-term effect of the same. B, the shoddiness around the way it is managed in India (the announcements, production, etc) was disheartening. But when I spoke to Kunal and Ashima (the two ports of call for everything medical), both of them affirmed that we must take it. And that’s when I consented. No, my parents don’t really need my consent. They are far more intelligent and aware than I. Plus they know a lot more people and their advisors are even more learned. So that.

This is around the same time that pandemic hit us last year. I remember the biggest thing that came out of the pandemic to me was that I could attend Anjum Sir‘s session on writing. Even though it was on Zoom, I really learned a lot about the process of screenwriting. This piece on Hero’s Journey came as a result of that and the piece made me make friends with so many people!

He’s doing those again but I am unable to attend those this time as I have a lot happening and films need to take the backseat.

Which is ok. I need to consolidate how things are going. I know that all the work I am getting is a knee-jerk response to all the pent-up demand in the businesses. I just need to capitalize and deliver a great output so that these could translate into long-term gigs. I just hate that there’s just 24 hours in the day.

I am also gonna change the way I live and work. I don’t want to talk a lot about work but lately, it’s on the top of my mind these days. So here it goes. Since I am working literally all the time now, I will have to get even more particular with how I spend my time. There’s not a single minute to waste. I have to figure an office space (my productivity goes 100X when I am not working from home and Starbucks tend to get noisy for all the calls that I am supposed to be on). The thing is, a large part of my work is now attending calls (because no in-person meetings) and I often speak and make presentations. Most days I do good with those. That’s not a challenge at all.

The problem is that if there’s some background noise when I speak, it becomes tough to get the point across. There’s anyway a lag imposed by the internet. On top, there’s the speed at which I talk. So I need to find a quiet place where I can talk from.

If I could predict these meetings and other things, I could get into the Maker and Manager (by Paul Graham) zones but most of these are ad-hoc and thus it’s impossible to plan time. This is against the very principle with which I have lived my life. I want nothing more than the independence of time. The gigs that I am on, there’s some flexibility but I’d want more. Lol. When I did not have work, I wanted work. Now that I have work, I want flexibility. 😀

So that. Let’s see what I decide. Maybe I’ll just get a fancy house (now that I can afford it) and turn one of the bedrooms into a co-working space! Or get some bungalow in Aram Nagar and convert it into a cafe. Lol. Wishful thinking ka raaja! I really have hazaron khwahishen. And that, ladies and gents, is the track of the day. Here!

Track of the day?

So, as I end this post, in terms of streaks, I did all but the walking one. I had a busy day and hence I could not walk a lot. Here’s the list.

  • Morning Pages – 91
  • #aPicADay – XX (will count at some later date)
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 2
  • #noCoffee – 4
  • #noCoke – 4
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0 (adding this from today on)
  • #book2 – 0 (I REALLY need to start on this!)

That’s about it. Over and out. See you guys tomorrow.

110321 – Morning Pages

Wore pants and shirt yesterday. Here’s a report card. And of course, chats about other things.

8:26. Andheri. So, I wore pants yesterday. Which was as terrible as it sounds. It sucked like mad. Worse was that I wore a shirt to go with it. And that shirt did not fit me. I could not breathe in it. And that’s the shirt that was like a baggy fit for me. You know, loose. The kinds where I could stuff one more person in and still stay sane. I am that unfit. To a point that even Instagram is showing me ads of fitness clubs and gyms and all that. Kya hoga mera?

Anyhow. Morning Pages.

Yesterday was fun. I recorded my second ever video conversation ever (the first was I think with Mihir (Karkare) that we never released; thank God for that). This one was with Sheba Maini. She is brilliant. She made me talk about things that I never thought I was capable of saying out loud on the Internet. And she made me agree to come on a video. Wow.

If you guys need someone to coach you and give you direction, Sheba is it! Her Linkedin profile is here. When I first spoke to her, in the 3rd minute of our chat, she could point out what afflicted me and what I need to do to get out of that. I was dumbfounded by how well she could read my mind. Over a Zoom call. In less than 5 minutes. You must consider her.

PS: Sheba is a client at Podium and a mentor so I may be biased.
PPS: If you are curious what is my problem, read this one and specifically, point #5.

Next. I met this young kid (JS) that I know from TRS days. We met for dinner (see streaks below). He is now onto his own business and set up and he seems to be on this amazing path that excites, inspires, and scares me. At 21, he’s sure where he wants to. And he’s acting on it. At 21, I did not know how to tie my shoelaces. The future is bright. Reminded me that I need to hang out with more such people. I think I am at my happiest when I see that I am making a difference in other people’s lives, especially when it comes to their work. I am a nincompoop if the conversations are around relationships and all that. I often can’t relate to what they are talking about and how to help with things. I even zone about when people talk about their lives and relationships. But when they talk work, ooh, la, la! I need to find a way to accelerate this and do this for more people.

In other news, Anjum Rajabali Sir’s next film, Toofan was just announced yesterday. This is one film that I cant wait to watch. For multiple reasons. For starters, it’s Anjum Sir’s film. Then this is about sports. Then its mass-market entertainer. Plus it has Farhan Akhtar, a guy that I look up to for his work (and nothing else). What else could you ask for? And this is EXACTLY the kind of films I want to make! Let’s see when that happens.

PSA: he’s taking sessions for aspiring screenwriters these days. See if you can attend.

So that’s the large updates from me on yesterday.

On streaks (that I started to track publicly since yesterday)…

  • Morning Pages – 89! Wow! I am surprised at myself!
  • #aPicADay – XX (will count at some later date)
  • 10K steps a day – 2
  • OMAD – 0. Had dinner yesterday with JS. Was not hungry per se but then I gave in to the temptation. Restarting the counter.
  • #noCoffee – 2
  • #noCoke – 2
  • #book2 – 0 (I REALLY need to start on this!)

I also have a sheet where I track my actions on day to day basis. Have been lapsing on it. Will get back to it. #note2self

I think this is about it. Not a lot to share. Lot of work though. Chalo, over and out. See you guys tomorrow.

Hero’s Journey for Deewaar (1975)

Prof. Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth model (The Hero’s Journey), as seen from the lens of Amitabh Bachchan’s character in the Salim-Javed film, Deewaar.

Source: SpotBoye.com

Show me a person that does not know this dialogue. And I will show you someone who has NOT lived! Not at least in India.

This is among the scores of iconic dialogue from the film, Deewaar. Released in 1975, directed by Yash Chopra and written by the legendary Salim – Javed, Deewaar is what you expect a film to be – a roller-coaster journey through the lives of characters next door. From the degradation of a righteous man who chose to take a stand for the poor (and failed at it), to the ecstasy of the new-earned wealth of a young man (who has lived in abject poverty as a kid), the dismay of a mother who’ll be made to choose between her sons, the film not just entertains you, but also makes you question your own decisions, morality, and at least in my case, life!

So, as an aspiring filmmaker, I HAD to reverse engineer the brilliance of Deewaar, learn the tenets of what went in while they made the narrative, and then, hopefully, use those when I write my scripts.

One of the things that I realised, after I attended online sessions with Anjum Rajabali was that most great stories tend to follow a simple narrative structure of The Hero’s Journey. Discovered by Prof. Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey (also known as the Monomyth) postulates that in most myths and folklores and religious texts (and thus popular culture and books and films), the protagonist typically faces a challenge. To sort it, he has to leave his current world (and often, the ordinary and comfortable one), spend time in the other (and often the challenging world) where he would fight a demon, and then come back to his ordinary world. In this journey, there are 17 distinct stages, and at each stage, he grows as an individual. A pictorial representation looks like…

Prof. Campbell’s Hero’s Journey

I first wrote about The Hero’s Journey. Then, along with Shreya (of Green Grandma fame), I did a deep dive and wrote the Hero’s Journey for Munna Bhai MBBS. And I decided that I would read and publish as many as I could to learn as much as I could.

So, The Hero’s journey for Deewaar is the second in the series of explorations that I am doing, this time, with Hemant Joshi (who I met at one of the SWA sessions).

Here we go!

The Plot of Deewaar

Deewaar starts as the story of one Anand Verma and his family (wife Sumitra Devi and two young sons, Vijay and Ravi). Anand works at a local factory and is an honest, hardworking, and righteous worker. And naturally, the leader of the union of workers.

These workers are at loggerheads with the factory owner, who in turn is, well, like any other factory owner – a conniving, scheming bastard! The workers go on a strike and mandate Anand Verma to negotiate on their behalf.

The factory owner abducts Verma’s family and asks him to pick the family or the worker’s rights. Verma, like a typical Indian, chooses his family. The workers are disappointed and thrash him, leaving him in a hospital. Verma is unable to handle the emotional turmoil and runs away, leaving behind the mess that he’s created. While Verma is drifting, his family continues to be ridiculed whenever they step out. One of these days, the elder son, Vijay is manhandled by goons in the market and they tattoo “Mera Baap Chor Hai” on his forearm.

Sumitra Devi moves herself and the sons to Mumbai where they are forced to live on the footpath and sleep under a bridge. Sumitra picks up odd jobs and is unable to meet the expenses. This is when Vijay steps up (not even a teenager at this point) and decides to support his mother with Ravi’s education and upbringing. He starts as a boot-polisher.

On one of his regular days, after he’s cleaned the shoes, one of his customers flings a coin at him. Vijay is angered and says since he’s worked hard on shining the shoes and he deserves respect. Dawar, a local goon, is accompanying the customer spots the talent in Vijay.

We take a leap in time and Vijay is now working as a coolie at the docks. Vijay strikes against the local goons (controlled by Samant) collecting hafta from all the laborers. Furthermore, he goes into their den and thrashes them.

This is noticed by Dawar (who’s another adversary of Samant) and he invites Vijay to join him in his business. His first job is to ensure that Dawar’s smuggled gold is safely brought into Mumbai. Vijay hatches a smart plan that involves duping Samant and is able to execute flawlessly. Samant pledges revenge!

Vijay’s life starts turning around – he buys his mother a better house, gets himself a better car, his clothes get better. Everything in life starts seeming better.

On the other side, the younger brother, Ravi completes his education and goes away to train for being a police officer. When he returns, his first case is to rein in Dawar’s businesses. Ravi realizes that he would have to catch his brother to solve the case. He refuses initially. In fact, he goes and asks his brother to surrender. Vijay refuses. The brothers have a dispute over this. Their mother takes the side of the righteous one, Ravi, leaving Vijay all alone in his giant mansion.

A few days later, Ravi decides to take the case again and starts catching Dawar’s men one after the other. Dawar realizes that Ravi must be stopped somehow. One of his gang’s members suggest that Ravi be killed, but Vijay stops them. Vijay tries to convince Ravi to back away from Dawar’s men, but Ravi holds his ground. 

Their mother falls sick but Vijay cannot visit her – the cops are staking around the hospital. Vijay is distressed. Around the same time, Samant, who had pledged revenge, kills Vijay’s girlfriend. Anguished, Vijay goes to the hotel where Samant is staying and kills him. In the process, he exposes himself to Ravi and the cops. Left with no choice, Ravi fires at Vijay. Vijay manages to drive away, only to hold long enough to come to his mother praying at the temple she frequents. He eventually dies in her lap.

And the story ends.

Phew!

The Hero’s Journey for Deewaar

In our opinion, the Hero of this film is Amitabh Bachchan’s character. And we would use this vantage point to explore the Hero’s Journey.

As always, before we get in, here are a few disclaimers.

  1. This is our interpretation of The Hero’s Journey for Vijay’s character. And like all interpretations and opinions, we may be wrong.
  2. If you disagree please do point out. We are always open for inputs 🙂

Here we go…

SNoBeatHero’s JourneyAdditional Notes
1Film starts with a bravery medal being given to Ravi Verma. He talks about Sumitra Devi (his mother) being the reason that he got the medal. Makes the mom accept the medal.This serves as a hook into the world of two brothers – Vijay and Ravi.
2Flashback

We see a bunch of laborers on a strike with Anand Verma leading it. He is demanding that the laborers get a better deal.

On the other side, his sons are all praises for the father. The wife mentions that kids look up to him. Anand mentions that he loves kids more than anything else.
The ordinary worldThis scene establishes the milieu. The ordinary world. And the fact that there is this huge divide between the rich and the poor.

Plus we get to know the family dynamics.
3The workers continue the protest at the factory owner’s bungalow. The owner calls Anand inside and offers a deal. Along with that he blackmails Anand and asks him to choose between his family and the workers.

Anand chooses his family and goes back to his workers and admits defeat. The workers thrash Anand and leave him bedridden.
The flaw in the character of Anand is showcased. We also establish a conflict in Anand’s life. This sets up for a larger conflict in the life of the hero – one that would eventually grow into the inciting incident for the Hero.
4The wife and two children discover that Anand has abandoned the family.

Some drunkards round-up Vijay, the elder son, and tattoo “mera baap chor hai” on his forearm.

The mother decides to move to Mumbai. She has no money and is forced to take up odd jobs and sleep under a bridge.
Challenge from the outer worldThe hero’s life, as we know it, is about to change.
5The younger brother, Ravi, wants to study.

Vijay, not even a teenager, decides to man-up and tells his mother that he would work as well so that Ravi could get a good education.

Vijay becomes a boot polisher.
Call to adventureThe hero accepts the challenge and decides to do whatever he could do to get his younger brother education.
6Dawar buys a racebook and gets his shoes to polish. Jaichand (Dawar’s associate) throws money at Vijay, who refuses, saying he is not a beggar.

Dawar asks Jaichand to pick the money and hand it to Vijay. Also, he predicts that Vijay will go on to be a winner in his life!

We see a juxtaposition to Ravi who’s topping the school.
The seed of separation between the two brothers is sowed.

This also shows us the character of Vijay where he has taken a stand without worrying about consequences; unlike his father!
7The mother is now working at a construction site. She has to face an abusive manager. Vijay sees it and hits the manager and runs away.

The mother compares the two brothers. She tells Vijay that Ravi is kind and sorted.

Vijay is angered and flashes his tattoo, demanding an answer.
We realize that the hero will stand up against anyone that does not respect him or his family. He seeks respect.

The suffering of the hero is also showcased. The wound becomes visible.
8The mother takes two kids to a temple. Vijay takes a stand for himself yet again, stating he will not enter the temple.

Time moves on and sons grow up.

Ravi asks what does mom seek from God. She says “tere liye sukh and Vijay ke liye Shaanti“.

The two brothers go their separate ways
Crossing the first thresholdThis parting of ways is both symbolic and thematic.

Plus, by refusing to go into the temple, Vijay is protesting against the injustice in his life.
9Vijay now works at the docks as a coolie. He gets a badge with the number 786 engraved. Rahim Chacha tells Vijay that 786 is a lucky number to have and asks him to keep the badge on him all the time. They also talk about the hafta the coolies have to pay to the local goons, controlled by Samant.

A coolie, Gangu gets killed when he refuses to pay the goons. Something stirs in Vijay. He says, “agle hafte ek aur coolie paisa dene se inkaar karne wala hai
The road of trialsVijay is challenged again.

Gareebi ka jurmana” is a trigger for him to fight the norm. He wants to change things.

The badge with the number 786 could be the Supernatural Aid.
10Ravi on the other hand is struggling to find work despite his numerous attempts.
11At the docks, Vijay refuses to pay the goons. Fights and comes out on top.The road of trialsAgain the same characteristic is showcased – when someone challenges his respect, he will revolt.

The path for Vijay is full of such “trials”.
12When he comes home, the mother scolds Vijay.

In response he says, “Tum chahti ho main bhi mu chupake bhaag jaata
Again, the pain is showcased.
13Ravi continues to struggle to get employment. We see that he gives up an opportunity for someone who’s struggling more than him. We see a comparison with the idealist father.

The father is spotted drifting in a train.
The two worlds of two brothers are now completely different.
14Dawar gets Vijay to work with him.

The iconic dialogue, “Main aaj bhi faike hue paise nahi uthata” is played out.
Meeting with the mentorDawar acts as the mentor who helps Vijay into this new world.
15Ravi meets his girlfriend’s father (who’s a cop) and he recommends that Ravi join the police forceAgain, the contrasting paths.

The elder brother is being mentored by a goon; the younger by a cop!
16Vijay gets his first assignment of getting a gold consignment to Mumbai. He schemes Samant in helping him do so.

We hear, “Suna hai lift ki deewar ke kaan nahi hote“.
Road of trialsEstablishes Vijay as a formidable personality. And in the process he makes allies and enemies.
17Vijay shows a giant house to his mother. She gets suspicious of Vijay’s work.

Ravi comes running and shares he got a job as a cop and goes away for his training.
Vijay starts to see success. He is getting deeper into this new world.
18At the poolside of a swanky hotel, Vijay suggests to Dawar that they plant someone in Samant’s gang. They plot a scheme to get Darpan recruited in Samant’s gang.

Darpan goes to Samant and gives out information that Vijay would be at Sona bar and they can kill him. Samant and gang plans for that.
He continues to make friends and enemies.

He is getting sucked even deeper into the new world.
19Vijay meets his future love interest, Anita at the bar. She and the lucky badge (786) save him from the Samant’s sharpshooter. This is a case of setup and payoff – the lucky badge does two things – makes him meet Anita, his love; and saves his life!
20Dawar says he wants to take a backseat and installs Vijay on the throne.

However, Jaichand had eyed this for a long time.
Belly of the whaleAt this point, Vijay is deep into the new world.

He has conquered the new world – or at least he thinks so.
21Ravi comes back home as a police officer. Vijay realizes that at some point the paths of the two brothers will cross.

He laments with Anita that Ravi and he are different.
This is the point of no return for the hero. The final battle for the hero has been seeded.
22Ravi finds out that as a cop, his top two targets are Dawar and his own brother, Vijay.

Ravi is shocked. He is initially in denial. However, an incident with a young boy inspires him to take up the case.
23Vijay buys the building where his mother worked when he was young.Classic case of “high” before the low! – Second false victory for Vijay
24Ravi and Vijay have a face-off in front of their mother. Ravi asks him to surrender by signing on the confession. He famously asks, “bhai tum sign karoge ya nahi

The word Deewaar is introduced for the first time.

Mother decides to leave Vijay alone and moves out.
25Vijay back to Anita. She mentions that she wants to settle down and get married.

The mother on the other hand tells Ravi that she loved Vijay more than she loved Ravi.
26Ravi continues his crusade against Dawar and Vijay. To a point that the gang starts thinking about eliminating Ravi.

Vijay opposes the ideas and admits that Ravi is his brother.
27The two brothers meet at the bridge where they grew up. Vijay asks Ravi to back out from the case – arguing that because of his dirty work, Ravi could get educated!

The iconic, “mere pass maa hai” is showcased.
Refusal to returnVijay has yet another chance to surrender, but he refuses to give away everything he’s earned in the new world.

He is refusing to go to his original world.
28Anand is found dead on a train. Ravi realizes it is their father when he is filing the report. He finds a picture of the family being held as hostages.

Ravi stops his mother from putting sindoor.
Such amazing symbolism!
29Ravi lights the fire to his father’s dead body, as Vijay watches from a distance – he is still wanted by the cops!
30On a call recording, Ravi finds about a meeting where Jaichand is present and leaves right away! Ravi arrests Jaichand and makes him confess about Dawar and Vijay.

Ravi arrests Dawar. However, Vijay manages to run away and goes into hiding.

On the other hand, Samant vows to avenge the loss in business by killing Vijay before the cops could arrest him.
31Vijay gets to know that his mother is unwell and wants to meet her. He however can not as the place is swarming with cops.

Vijay is lost and doesn’t know what to do.

He goes to the one place which he never would have – the temple his mother frequented. We hear “aaj khush toh bohot hoge tum…

Maa miraculously gets better. She visits the temple, where the priest tells a shocked mother that Vijay was there!
AtonementVijay realizes that he has dragged himself too deep into this new world and escaping is impossible now.

But he does want his mother to get better. This entering the temple is his atonement!

In Prof. Campbell’s journey, atonement happens before the refusal to return. We see the sequence slightly altered, but the concept holds.
32Vijay gets to know that his mother is now home.

Anita announces that she’s pregnant.

Vijay decides to get married to Anita and surrender. He also tells his mother to wait for him at the temple.
Crossing of the return thresholdBecause of Anita, he has a reason to give up everything and go back to the original world.

We find this a tad weak compared to all the imploration by his mother.
33Anita however is kidnapped by Samant.

Unknown to Vijay, who in a separate meeting is being told of a plan to escape. He tells his gang that he would not go along with them.

When Vijay comes back to Anita, he finds her dying. She in fact dies in his arms. He discovers that it was Samant that had hurt Anita.

Vijay storms into Samant’s hideout. He kills Samant’s flunkies but Samant is not there.
34Ravi gets to know that Vijay is on his way to Samant’s other hideout.

He and other cops surround the building. However, Vijay is still able to kill Samant by throwing him off the top of the building.
35Despite all the cops, Vijay manages to escape, with Ravi chasing him.

While running, his lucky badge falls off. As Vijay tries to retrieve it, Ravi comes in close and shoots at him, injuring him.

He however gets in a car and drives the car into the temple. He eventually dies in his mother’s arms!
Master of the two worldsAt this point, Vijay has conquered the two worlds – he has realized that his path of getting the respect that he craved, actually took away from his family.

Even though short-lived (since he died right after), he is briefly able to earn his mother’s respect too.

The symbolism of the lucky badge is reinforced for at least the third time!
36We go back to the opening scene where Ravi is getting an award. The film ends with a thundering applause.

So, there! 

Even though NOT all stages of the Hero’s Journey are evident in Deewaar (they weren’t evident in Munna Bhai MBBS either), the story clearly follows the structure. Enough to warrant an investigation and research!

That’s it from our side. Please do give us feedback on our interpretation. 

Also, should you want the open files and notes that we made that we have not published, please email us and we’d be touch. We have Deewaar’s script broken into a beat-sheet (our interpretation and may not be right), and various stages of the Hero’s Journey, as adapted for Deewaar. Happy to share those!

Oh, a disclaimer for the millionth time – these are our interpretations and could be incorrect. This is merely an academic exercise to learn more about Hero’s Journey! Do help us.

That’s all folks! 

So, that’s about it from us! Let us know what you think. 

Hemant + Saurabh 

Nov 2020

Oh, one more thing. Please do let us know what next film we do this deep dive on. 

Hero’s Journey for Munna Bhai MBBS

Prof. Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth model (The Hero’s Journey), as seen from the lens of Raju Hirani’s Munna Bhai MBBS.

Credits: Vinod Chopra Films

Hello hello!

You know, Munna Bhai? The film? Well, this is where Shreya and I try and decode the idea of the Hero’s Journey via how they’ve been portrayed in popular films. Read more about the project here.

For each film that we take up, we would talk about the plot, break that into a beat sheet, and then try to identify what part of films fits into what part of the monomyth structure. 

Without further ado, here we go!

The plot 

The Sanjay Dutt starrer was written by Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra

The story, set in contemporary Mumbai, is of Murli Prasad Sharma, aka, Munna (played by Sanjay Dutt). He is a Robinhood-ish goon for hire in Mumbai. As a character, he is simple and flawed. He’s all the happy-go-lucky and all he seeks in life is approval from his father. But his flaw is that he’s lied to his father (Hari Prasad Sharma, played by Late Sunil Datt) that he’s a doctor and runs a hospital in Mumbai. To live that lie, he puts up an elaborate facade everytime his father comes to visit him.

All’s well in his regular life, till his father bumps into a real doctor (Dr. Asthana, played by Boman Irani) and proposes that Munna and Dr. Asthana’s daughter (Chinki / Dr. Suman, played by Gracy Singh) get married to each other. On the day when the marriage discussions were to happen, Dr. Asthana finds out the truth about Munna. He humiliates Munna’s father and throws them out of his house. 

Hari Prasad Sharma being the man of his honor, he feels humiliated, disowns his son and goes back to his village.

Munna is aghast – the only thing he held dear (his father’s pagdi) has been attacked and he is helpless! Against the advice of his trusted flunky (Circuit, played by Arshad Warsi), he decides that he would become a doctor for real and earn his father’s respect. 

The story then follows Munna’s journey as he uses rather unconventional methods to navigate the world of medical studies. Along the way he finds his love in the very person he was supposed to get married to, makes friends across genders, cadres, backgrounds et al and collides head-on with the steadfast, moral, principled Dr. Asthana.

As the film ends, like the proverbial Hero, Munna wins all that there is to win and turns his “enemies” into allies. And, they live happily ever after! 

The plot, broken into a beat sheet. And the Hero’s Journey structure. 

Disclaimer for a millionth time – these are our interpretations and could be incorrect. This is an academic exercise to learn more about Hero’s Journey!

Also, we will use the following interpretation of the journey that places equal “weightage” to all three stages (unlike the more popular one that is skewed towards the two worlds).

Source: Unknown
Part 1/2
Part 2 /2

So, there! 

Even though NOT all stages of the Hero’s Journey are evident in Munna Bhai MBBS, the story clearly follows the structure. Enough to warrant an investigation and research. 

Please do give us feedback on our interpretation. 

Also, should you want the open files and notes that we made and have not published, please email us and we’d be touch. We have Munna Bhai’s script (found via the internet), script broken into beat-sheet (our interpretation and may not be right), and various stages of the Hero’s Journey, as adapted for Munna Bhai MBBS. Happy to share those 🙂

EndNote

What would we improve if I was asked to make the film better?

Two things…  

A. We’d make the villain a tad more powerful. 

Thing is, in our opinion, in India, we do not believe in an all-powerful, impossible to kill villain. In most of our stories, once the villain is often a lesser mortal than the hero. Of course there are parts where the villain is strong, after all we like to see fights, but Hero remains the more powerful entity. The way we go through the struggle of the Hero, we often leave that out for the villain. Compared to the West, they spend as much time on the villian – this makes the villain as loved as the hero. Case in point? The Joker! In our lores, we all know that Duryodhana was an accomplished fighter but he was blinded by his lust for power. In the retelling, we don’t delve on his good parts. Similarly, Raavana was a Pandit but we don’t really spend a lot of time showcasing that. 

In Munna Bhai, we know that Dr. Asthana is a straight-jacketed individual. But we do not go into his past to understand why he’s like that! 

B. The character of Dr. Suman / Chinki. 

The other part that is lacking in this story is the character of Dr. Suman. She has a very very insignificant role to play. She does not help him cheat, she does not get vocal against her father ever, except the last scene (which looks like a forced fit). She is even ok with the idea of getting married to a person that she’s not seen after she was a kid! 

What few things could we add to make the story follow the Hero’s Journey more closely?

Again, two things… 

A. The character of Munna had to reach the final destination by himself. And not use assistance from Dr. Suman to rally the support. 

B. We did not find an active mentor (apart from Dr. Rustom) guiding him through. 

Further Reads

Here are some things that we read while we were working on this piece. 

About Raju Hirani and Raju Hirani’s comments on Munna Bhai MBBS

So, Raju Hirani lived with the idea of Munna Bhai for 9 years. And between Shreya and I, we do NOT have that many years of experience of even watching films! We are nobodies to critique his work. All we can do is learn from the output and other conversations he’s had with people about his work. 

Raju Hirani says, “the message I wanted to convey to the doctors was to have more compassion. If they want to make money they should go somewhere else” and I think it’s amply clear in the film. Even when Munna gives up (in the last scene) and moves on, he goes back to being a compassionate goon and not a greedy doctor! 

He further says, “Cinema is all about entertaining. My principal motto is, ‘I shall entertain’. Nobody walks into the theatre to be preached to or to learn something. So I have to be sure that whatever I do, even when I have a message to deliver, it must be done in a manner that is highly entertaining. Cinema is storytelling and story telling is about entertaining. At the same time, it is a commentary on reality.” Again, something that is VERY evident in Munna Bhai. 

He adds in another interview, “Never Lock The Script: Never call anything finished, keep writing it and it keeps getting better. Sometimes an idea which is ‘good enough’ can become perfect if we keep writing some more.” I think this is where we take courage. Even if a film has been shot and loved by people across the world, there is merit in going back and seeing what could’ve been better. Of course we can not make the same film again but we can definitely take back some lessons! 

Finally, he says, “I thus realised that what Munnabhai had done for a lot of aspiring filmmakers was to give them the courage to break the rules.” We are taking the courage to break the rules and dissecting a film that Raju Hirani has spent almost a decade in perfecting. 

And of course time spent on thinking about Munna Bhai, his story, the Hero’s Journey has given us some incredible lessons!

Phew! 

Some interviews that we read while researching about the work of Raju Hirani… 

That’s all folks! 

So, that’s about it from us! Let us know what you think. 

Oh, one more thing. Please do let us know what next film we do this deep dive on. 

Shreya + Saurabh 

June 2020

Introducing, The Hero’s Journey Project

A series of essays where I will research, explore and postulate on Prof. Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth (The Hero’s Journey).

Note: Edited this on 20th June after I attended yet another session with Anjum Sir. The changes I made on 20th are marked as v2.

You know how things fall in place when you least expect them to? That happened to me! 

Lemme tell you a story. Because of the lockdown and general joblessness that I had, I decided that I would try and use this time to become a screenwriter. Now, how do you become a screenwriter? I had no clue, except maybe, to write an actual screenplay! 

Lucky Strike 1 

And while I was mulling it, luckily I spotted this initiative by writer-direction Satyanshu Singh where he got Anjum Rajabali to take sessions for people wanting to be screenwriters. I attended a couple of lectures from him (one was on Mahabharata and the other on Hero’s Journey) and the two lectures OPENED my eyes to the method you need to get your madness pouring out on a screenplay. I instantly decided that I want to make The Hero’s Journey my life’s work.

Ok, that’s hyperbole. I have a million life’s works like that. Lemme not digress. The point is, I want to learn as much about Hero’s Journey as I can. And I believe in learning by doing. But then, I was stuck. I had no freaking clue about it (apart from an academic interest I had in it) and what Anjum Sir taught me in those 4 hours. 

Lucky Strike 2

On Twitter, I bumped into Shreya of the Green Grandma fame and somehow we got talking and somehow one thing led to another and somehow we realized that we could do this together. This? Learn about Hero’s Journey! 

She of course is far more informed and read compared to me and partnering with me would be meaningless to her. But I think I played my cards right and talked her into it! 

She recommended that if I wanted to learn about Hero’s Journey, the best way would be to watch some films like Star Wars and The Matrix Trilogy that follow the Hero’s Journey to the T. 

But then we decided to check if the Monomyth structure was followed in Indian films as well! 

Hero’s Journey

For the uninitiated, The Hero’s Journey is an outcome of the work of Joseph Campbell who studied myths, lores, and stories from across cultures, times, religions, regions, places, and discovered that the most compelling and memorable stories tend to follow the same path. Their stories tend to have the same structure! And he called that structure the Monomyth. Or as it is more popularly known, The Hero’s Journey.

The chart below describes the Hero’s Journey… 

While a short-note on Hero’s Journey is literally impossible, lemme try and explain! 

A primer on Hero’s Journey 

For starters, there are two worlds…

  1. The ordinary, current, existing, comfortable where the Hero currently lives. He is unaware of trials and tribulations that await him in the other world. 
  2. The unknown, new, special, unnatural, supernatural world where rules from the ordinary world cease to exist. There are new rules, new norms, new reality. The world is full of dangers that the hero does not even know of! 

Then, there are three distinct stages of life in the Hero. Different scholars and writers have used different terms for this. I will stick to what Joseph Campbell used.

  1. The departure from the ordinary world. 
  2. Initiation into the supernatural world 
  3. Return to the ordinary world where the hero originally came from 

Of course, these stages are further divided into various substages. And each time the hero transitions from one stage to another, he has to go through a battle of sorts. Lemme explain each. (v2)

1. The Departure. So, all is well in the life of Hero. He is happy and chilling and all that. And one fine day, someone from a distant land comes over and tells him that his world is in grave danger. And he MUST undertake this journey to the unknown if he wants to save the world. He may be reluctant initially but he will get over it and take the journey.

2. Initiation. This is where the Hero gets to the unknown world. The hero overcomes trials & tribulations, faces threats & temptations, and finds allies & enemies. The entire journey in the unknown world is a step towards becoming, rather than becoming one thing. You know, the journey in itself is the destination!

3. The Return. This is where the Hero now has to come back to the original world where he started from. Just that as a result of his journey, he has become better and become a master of sorts. And like they, he’s live happily ever after. Unless he gets another call to adventure!

So yeah. That.

And if I were to tell you a story to explain the Hero’s Journey, it would go something like this.. 

Once upon a time there lived a prince in a cocooned world where he had absolutely no clue about the harshness that life has to offer (Ordinary World). All was well till one day while playing cricket, he makes a wild swing with his bat and instead of making contact with swings hard and breaks his father’s favorite vase. What more? The vase actually contained his father’s life! He suddenly is petrified. He doesn’t know what to do. And just then, the wise old courtier tells him that he can undo the damage and save his father’s life if he could go to the dungeons protected by the scariest dragons and retrieve this magic potion (The Call to Adventure). Of course, the prince is scared about it – after all, he’s been warned all his life to not even talk about those dragons! So, he is reluctant to go (Refusal to Call).

But then he has to save his father. He takes the courtiers’ blessing and a cloak of invisibility (Supernatural aid) and goes on the adventure. Along the way, he meets people – some good and some not so good (The Road of Trials). He does a lot of good deeds, after all, he is a good prince. Like while he is thirty and he just has one sip of water left, he gives that to an Eagle that has been shot down by an unknown hunter. 

As he heads towards the innermost cave where the pot of magic potion is hidden, he has to battle with the monster, the size of a Jupiter (Crossing of First Threshold). The battle is ferocious, sparks fly off in all directions and it seems that the monster will have the upper hand. And while the prince is struggling, news comes from a home that his father is on the verge of dying (The Belly of Whale).

All is sort of lost for this young prince. He questions his choices and decisions and is about to give up. Just then a beautiful princess arrives (The meeting with the goddess) with her pet Eagle, the same one that had given his last sip of water. The princess tests him by offering one of two things – a magic sword that can kill the monster or a union with her that can allow the prince to escape (Woman as temptress).

But the prince starts to understand why his father was the way he was with him (Atonement with Father). He chooses the sword and thanks to the superpowers and allies that our prince has gathered on his journey here, he prevails! In a fierce battle, he defeats the monster and gets the magic potion (Apotheosis and Ultimate Boon). All he needs to do is, now, to go back home and save his father. 

But just when he starts to head home, he gets tempted to stay back – after all, he will be a prince if he goes back to his ordinary world and here, in the extraordinary, he is the mightiest of them all – he is the one to have defeated the monster! He decides to not go back and enjoy the riches of this world (Refusal to return). He starts to settle down till he sees a picture of his father in his wallet. He pines for his affection and he decides that a kingdom is not greater than his father’s health. 

He finds a teleporter that can instantly take him back (Magic Flight) and as he is on his way, everyone of importance, including the princess, from this extraordinary world decides to tag along. The prince has no choice but to listen to his new-found followers, disciples (Crossing of return threshold).

Once he reaches his father’s palace, of course, the father is back to the pink of his health, thanks to the magic potion. Father then decides to let the prince ascend to the throne. And the young prince now rules over both the kingdoms and lives happily ever after (Freedom to live)!

Phew! 

So there are multiple versions and variations of this. If you are a scholar, you may choose the one that appeals to you the most. Shreya and I will settle for a broad framework that helps us understand people and emotions and characters and narratives.

So yeah. This is a primer on The Hero’s Journey! 

But before that, Some disclaimers… 

  1. Anjum Sir is VERY VERY VERY vocal and categorical that the Hero’s Journey is NOT a tool that you may want to use when you write. PLEASE PLEASE respect what the master says.
  2. Of course, not all stories follow the Hero’s Journey. And the stories that do follow the structure, don’t have to follow it to the T. In some stories, some stages may get clubbed, in others, the order may get changed and in some, there could be just one part from the journey.
  3. Please do note that the Monomyth is not the only structure that screenwriters and storytellers follow. There are more like the 3-act structure, the 5-act structure, and the nonlinear structure. Plus there are many more variations of this model itself. For example, there is one by Vogler that uses just 12 steps (unlike Campbell’s 17). And of course, there are more. In one line, this model (Campbell’s) is NOT the holy grail! But as Saurabh says, it does come close 😉 And Shreya disagrees. She is of the opinion that modern screenwriters do not use this at all. You decide and tell us 😀
  4. We are mere students and all text herein is our interpretation. And not the thoughts of the original writer or of Anjum Sir. So, we may be off. PLEASE DO TELL US IF WE ARE ON POINT. OR ARE OFF. The idea of doing this is to learn and your input helps! 
  5. Since we would analyze these films end to end, we would have to narrate the story end to end. So, can’t really “hide” the climax, etc. 
  6. These pieces are not film reviews. We are not here to judge the film, the plot, the story or anything else for that matter. We are here to find traces of Hero’s Journey in the story. And try and learn lessons as scriptwriters ourselves. 
  7. All the work for the posts was done collaboratively by Shreya and I. But for the ease of writing and narration, I am the one who’s writing the post. 
  8. Oh, one more thing. In everything we write, Hero is being used as a gender-neutral salutation.

We’d start soon, with Raju Hirani’s Munna Bhai MBBS (published in Jun 2020). After that, we have lined up Deewaar (published in Nov 2020) and Lagaan. What else can we take up?

Till then, over and out!

Shreya + Saurabh 

May 2020