By Hriday Ranjan Aug. 02, 2017
A perplexed commerce student pens an honest letter to Christopher Nolan after watching Dunkirk.
ear Nolan saar,
Hope you are in good health by the grace of god.
You might not know this, but you have a huge following in India. Since the days of World War 2 (when we were the Alis in the Allies), we have been obsessed with English language and movies. Your film Dunkirk is being hailed as a masterpiece by critics, and my IIT friends are explaining the film’s nuances on their walls. Under such enormous pressure, I went to watch the movie.
Honestly, I didn’t understand too much of it. But I’m too scared to admit it in public. Acknowledging that I did not understand a Nolan movie amounts to intellectual hara-kiri, so I just clapped loudly.
But the truth, Nolan sir, is that as a commerce student, your films put high pressure on me. When Tom Hardy was running out of fuel and writing things down on the dashboard, I was wondering why he didn’t use a pink chalk for better visibility. When the heroes are given a beer and apple in the end, why are they sad? Your films are not very easy to understand, sir, and the music is too much. I was listening to Hans Zimmer the other day and ate paani puri worth ₹50, sir. I had to run to the nearest cafe to save my prestige. Why can’t you have simple music?
In India we have Anu Malik and Nadeem-Shravan, who have five songs each in a movie. One “hero introduction” song, one happy song, one sad song, one family-wedding song, and one item number. An item number, sir, is when a girl dances with very less clothing with aspirational names like Sheila and Munni and lifelong aspirations like badnaami and jawaani. During happy moments, the happy song is played in slow motion. During sad moments, the sad song is played in slow motion. It is so simple, sir. Even a commerce student understands it.
You must be wondering what I mean when I say “commerce student, commerce student” again and again. In India, we are asked to choose a stream of education after Class 10. Our parents do it for us, of course, because matru devo bhava, pitru devo bhava. There are three options: Science, commerce, arts.
But commerce, Nolan sir, is special. It is taken by people who don’t know what they want to B.com in life.
It is like the Sorting Hat at Hogwarts, but here our parents shove the hat on our heads. Science is for those with aspirational parents – scientists who will advance the frontiers of knowledge, engineers who will help American conglomerates save some cash. Arts is chosen by those with no aspirations and all the patience to sit and deconstruct the world, to paint it in beautiful palettes of isms and ists.
But commerce, Nolan sir, is special. It is taken by people who don’t know what they want to B.com in life. They pump their fists to the great Indian rapper Honey Singh and also try to talk to girls at the chaiwallah outside their accounts tuition holding placards saying, “Keep calm and date commerce student.” We might not be very smart or artistic, but we are very hopeful, Nolan sir.
As a commerce student, I grew up on a steady diet of Govinda and Jackie Shroff movies. I learnt about mergers and acquisitions from Dulhe Raja, when Govinda takes over Kader Khan’s hotel empire by wooing his daughter. Or diversification when he marries both Tabu and Karisma Kapoor in Saajan Chale Sasural. So when your heroes entered the third dream within a dream in Inception and a nearby IITian was explaining it to the whole theatre (in India, IITians do everything), I was still stuck in my first-level dream, dancing with Govinda and Karisma. As a commerce student, the only thing I understood about Interstellar is the money it made worldwide.
But we are getting some help nowadays. Our own intellectual, Aamir Khan, took two of your movies – Prestige and Memento – and broke it down for us as Dhoom 3 and Ghajini. Dhoom 3 even had an item number by your country’s best import to India: Katrina Kaif. In the song sir, Aamir, who wrote, directed, shot, and produced the movie even brings in Interstellar in the song “Kamli”, where Katrina is dancing and the bulge in Aamir’s Filmfare-winning pants is trying to fight gravity. That scene has everything – emotion, drama, action, and dancing, sir. It’s the only way a commerce student can understand Gravity, and if you think with a dirty mind, it is funny also. Hehe.
That brings me to the question, Nolan sir, why does Dunkirk have no comedy scene? Comedy scenes are important; they make the hero seem more heroic in comparison to a fat sidekick. Why don’t you introduce your heroes with their names? Like in Ek Aur Ek Gyarah, where the characters are simply called Tara and Sitara.
When you add some comic scenes in your next movie, can you also please decrease the philosophy bit? “The hero Gotham needs, but doesn’t deserve!” We never ask such questions, sir. When Abhishek Bachchan fought the villain in Drona, we didn’t ask if he’s the hero we need or deserved. We understood that the producer is Abhishek’s friend and went on with our lives.
In conclusion, I would request you to make simpler movies for us, sir. When I tell people I didn’t understand Dunkirk, they look at me like the day they looked at me when I told them I was a commerce student. With sad eyes saying, “Tujhse na ho paayega.” The reminder of our past and intellectual simplicity is too much to bear, like our personal Dark Night, but it never ends, just like your long movies.
We also want to be cool, Nolan sir. Help us. It is a humble request!
Secretary, All India Liberal Commerce Students Alumni Association