Sunday, August 14, 2016

Vidyut, Tiger, Lee: The Ferrous Breed

Bruce Lee made sense – 'I am not in this world to live up to your expectations and you are not in this world to live up to mine.'  Vanilla, Make way. The Lions are here.

Many slammed doors, silent dinners and TV-remote abductions later; it has finally happened. Action has ruptured those ceramic walls of the male territory and made its way into female minds, hearts and intestines.

It may have started with Dear Balboa but it did not tap out there. Jaws may drop, dentists may be rung for, eyebrows (and who knows even moustaches) may knit into knots but there’s nothing to stop a new species of admirers from stealing the remote, the couch and the fiefdom known as ‘Hard Core Action’.

Yes, and like many other instances, the new-borns are being dismissed with cliches.  Their fresh taste and discovery of an action-hero is hurriedly explained with the number of abs and glutes he happens to have.

I would fain admit that no one actually minds a ripped torso, a chiselled chin, high-definition shoulders, rock-like pecs or for that matter brooding eyes that hide umpteen oceans in themselves – but only as the sauce that accompanies an already-tempting dish.

Let me take that back. The words sauce and dish sound too frivolous and distasteful here. How the heroes look is like a good wall for a masterpiece. No one minds it, but that’s not what the painting is about. Really.

So what is this adoration about? Why a Commando or a Baaghi or a Creed finds manicured nails being bitten along with some rugged bike-oil-greased ones? What makes a new segment of admirers watch a particular action movie twice instead of gulping down something ridiculous?

In seven simple words – Because. It’s. A. New. Kind. Of. Action.

In more, here’s what has transpired while the typical male fan was busy whistling at a gun-slinging hero walking away in slow-mo from a car set on fire.

Vidyut Jammwal doesn’t sling a gun. He slings raw speed and fierce precision. Tiger Shroff would not carry as much as a knife to kill the cruel goon. His hands, or elbows, are enough. Akshay Kumar would take out a menacing jump faster than the villain would draw a pistol. As to Stallone, he steps not backward but ahead when he sees his foe unleashed. Wait till you peel his eyes off into a pulpy mess. That’s when he rises. That’s where they start.

You know what makes all that/them so sexy?

1. It’s substance. Any fool can pull a trigger. In fact, barring an intelligent Ethan Hunt, most men would do that recklessly. Weapons are for the weak, the unsure, and the lazy.

Only when you know that a kick can smash a skull and the footwork can dodge a bullet; you can throw the crutches away and stand on your own feet. For decades women may have given emetic glances to their male companions because they struggled to fathom the obvious question – why so much pointless gore; why the need for so many bullets, chainsaws, goon-cutlery and swords?
To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.

Isn’t a real man (I would have said fighter, but then that’s not colloquial enough) supposed to fight with the minimal – his own body as a brutal weapon? That’s what Vidyut and Tiger have recently showcased brilliantly. In their world - Kip-ups replace bullet-proof vests. They cross the enemy moat armed with nothing but the instrument called one’s well-trained body. You can’t frisk their bare denim pockets for any metal. The real steel is hidden somewhere else – in their eyes.

2. No! It’s not about fancy kicks and acrobats either. The cult following that such fighters are gathering is not because they abet popcorn-sales. Quite the contrary, when a Vidyut glides effortlessly on the adversary’s neck or when Stallone surprises with a southpaw, you can’t even remember to breathe, let alone munch chips.

This juicy, surreal spectacle that such artists produce belongs to a new ether, somewhere else – precisely since it makes you believe in the plateaus that the very legend Mr. Bruce Lee mentioned while talking of physical limits. You don’t like Tiger and Vidyut because they can backflip or spin like tornadoes. You like them because they do that effortlessly and to the nail.

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own
3. What you see is not cosmetic. No cordage of cables, no number of stunt-doubles, no garage of props and no degree of special effects can show what you see in Commando or Baaghi. There’s nothing artificial about it- whether it is Akshay jumping from a cliff-height, a Vidyut cannon-balling and swimming through a jeep window or a Tiger doing the 540. Like Philippe Petit reminded amazingly – you can always sniff it when an artist is lying – whether on stage or on the tight rope. The audience can just smell it. Just the way it can smell real sweat, real blood and fractures. That brings us to the next reason.

4. “Not one novelist in a thousand ever does tell us the real story of their hero. They linger for a dozen pages over a tea-party, but sum up a life’s story with - he was now a great artist or merchant- with the world at his feet….it is in the petty details, not in the great results, that the interest of existence lies.” : Jerome K Jerome

Indeed. What we see on the screens today is a mere summing-up, a flicker of what lies deep under, a tiny corner of the whole picture. The details evade the average eye. These men have dedicated their whole childhoods (even if media reports are not enough to make that assumption, just looking at what they deliver is good enough) to sculpt their potential into what it is today. Evidently, their wings can say a lot about the pain of metamorphosis that they must have endured.

Not being tense but ready.Not thinking but not dreaming. Not being set but flexible.

If you look beneath the wings, and all that eye-popping apotheosis, there would be endless sprains, falls, slips, merciless practice, nights of pain and non-negotiable discipline. That makes you respect them all the more. No film-royalty kid crowded with make-up crews, costume-designers, same-surname producers, choreographers, stunt-photo-brushers et al can generate that particular shade of respect.
Real beats reel – any day, any age.

5. There is one more reason that sets such action-Ninjas apart. Suddenly being vegetarian, waking up at 4 am, abstaining from liquor, tobacco, and substance-abuse is the new cool. They have added swag to discipline. They have made good habits ‘happening’ again. Being polite, soft, well-mannered, humble is not weak – it’s the new ‘strong’ – all thanks to this new genre of action-champs.
I fear not the man who has practised 10,000 kicks once,
but I fear the man who has practised one kick 10,000 times.

6. Also, do you not wonder how on earth can a Tiger turn into a Bamboo or a Vidyut levitate on hands when dancing? Imagine how incredibly such soldiers extend their inner strength and X-factor so easily into any area they want – dancing, running, skull-presses, human-flags, clap-push-ups – you name it.

7. You never gild a lily. These breath-taking lilies would avoid every varnish on their own. That would ensure that even if it means less directors, fewer scripts than their neon-world counterparts have; a Lee would only do work that aligns with his Chi. Not more, Not less.

8. And despite all that has been attempted above, these demi-gods still carry some Je Ne Sais Quoi around them. Their eyes, minds and ambitions seem to be in their own secret world – where god knows what mountains, and walls still await them. They appear to understand what Mr. Lee meant when he uttered: “It's not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory. If only, the machine-gun-wielding heroes from the parallel world wrap their heads around that.

Like always, minds and muscles like Vidyut, Tiger and Stallone will draw intense respect and admiration from a select few (and thank god for that). Their movies may come and go but their aplomb and magic will endure. They may or may not galvanise hordes of blind-fans on a Friday opening (like some 200 crore-club stars do) but they will earn every buck that a true fan spends by the sheer smashing of pure over adulterated, refreshing over senseless and real over fake.

The possession of anything begins in the mind.

Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick

Hope they find more Sabbir Khans and Vipul Shahs to tap at least some drops of the vast thunderstorms that gurgle inside.

And no, they will never go out of fashion or kilter. Real muscle tends to outlast Lycra.
Trust us on that. Women can see that (if not anything else) better than men.

Perhaps, our favourite metal was never gold but Iron.
If only, someone bothered to ask.

(P.S.: Bruce Lee still screams like no one can. In his legacy of wisdom. Like every great fighter)

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