Saturday, June 15, 2013

WeChat - Six People I Would Like to Chat With

There are quite a few celebrities we admire, about whom we’d like to know a bit more, yet, we hold ourselves back because there never has been a platform to interact with them. With this WeChat contest, we could atleast get our creative juices flowing and bring together motley of people, fictional and non-fictional, whom we admire into the same chatroom. Thank god for creativity, it helps us break the shackles and go to places within our mind which we never knew existed.

I have always wondered how it would feel like to jump from high above the sky with nothing to hold you back. What goes through your mind when you are traveling at the speed of knots? How prepared would you have to be to pull off a stunt with such daredevilry? What drives you to do such breathtaking acts, that if gone wrong could result in your death? When I read of Felix Baumgartner’s astounding achievement last October, it made me think of all that the human body can accomplish only if it controls its mind. Felix Baumgartner had set the world record for skydiving when he had jumped from the stratosphere, having broken the sound barrier by reaching an estimated speed of 1357.64 km/h jumping from a distance of 39 kms into the stratosphere. His Wikipedia page may have well captured the numerical details of the jump, the distance, the test jumps, the dreary side of it. Yet the Wikipedia page misses the human element of the jump, the emotion that Baumgartner would have gone through, the feeling of ripping through the clouds like Superman – is that a bird? Is that a plane? No, it’s Felix Baumgartner! What did it feel like to be plummeting into earth on a wing and a prayer, Felix?

What we would talk about

What drove you to do something so ballsy? What was going through your mind when you were piercing the skies? What is it with this death wish of pushing your mind and body over the limits that it could handle?

Has there in recent times been any storyteller who has been able to capture politics, betrayal, vengeance and carve myriad characters – each more engrossing than the last – as successfully as George R R Martin (GRRM)? His fantasy fiction epic Game of Thrones was first published in 1996, the story takes place in the fictional lands of Westeros and Essos with a narrative that covers the events in various Houses or dynasties. Larger than life, gripping, and awe-inspiring, GoT is as ambitious in its storyline as its characters, now adapted into a television program for a larger audience, GoT has become a pop-culture phenomenon that has received bouquets and brickbats, has won over audience from all demographics, and even left ardent lovers of the television show heartbroken and enraged by killing off what were seemingly main characters with calculated brutality. GRRM is not just a storyteller, but a visionary whose magnum opus is not just characters written over paper, but a literary leviathan whose fan following is growing every time GoT trends on twitter. Unlike many writers these days, who tend to portray women in weak stereotypical roles, GRRM’s writes women of substance, graceful under pressure.

What we would talk about

As baffling as the narrative structure is, I would also like to quiz GRRM on what made him choose the fantasy fiction genre to pen his saga, what makes him at the age of sixty-five – when people hunt for retirement homes – get out of bed and create mythical lands and layered characters? Also, from a writer’s point of view, I would also like to ask him how he gets out of the rut if and when struck with writer’s block.

Ask any movie buff and he’ll tell you the impact that Spielberg has made in international cinema over the years. Spielberg’s movies have always covered a huge canvass – be it war, or the Holocaust, or alien invasion, or huge prehistoric creatures walking the earth, not only has he captivated the audience’s imagination with the grandeur and jaw dropping visuals of his movies, but also has always managed to win their hearts by always telling a compelling story. The bloody and brutal realism shown in the opening sequence of his WW-II drama Saving Private Ryan had even the real WW-II veterans squirming in their seats during a special preview for them. His not charging a single dollar for making Schindler’s List shows us that Spielberg is not just a filmmaker who makes movies to rake in the moolah at the box office, but is also a philanthropist who via the medium of cinema likes to tell stories of all the injustice and struggles that humanity has gone through. (Read Amistad, Color Purple, Empire of the Sun).
Having GRRM and Steven Spielberg in We Chat’s group conversation would be any bibliophile and movie junkie’s dream. If I am lucky I could even spark off a collaboration of sorts between these two giants, a movie written by George R R Martin, directed and produced by Steven Spielberg – given their love for monumental storytelling, it won’t be a surprise if the movie lasts for three hours stretching till five parts!

What we would talk about

Making a movie is no child’s play, and to make Oscar contenders year after year even drains the energy out of a grown adult. What has gone into all the effort that has translated into some of the most stellar moments seen on screen? Which was his toughest movie to make, and why? Who has been most favorite actor, and if there were any movie that he shouldn’t have made, which would be it? And as with every artist who secretly wishes had painted a piece of art that he never could, I would ask Spielberg of that one screenplay which he couldn’t get to direct.

Why Mr. Bond? Because he was one of the first movie characters who had left an indelible impression on my young mind back in the day. Fast cars, cool gadgets, gorgeous locales and femme fatales, all that even at the age of 40! What wouldn’t we all be willing to part with to have a life like that? But let’s not forget that with great power comes great responsibility, and Monsieur Bond’s responsibility is greater than what you and I have – that of saving the world. You certainly didn’t imagine that charming the folks at MI-6 would get you everything that James Bond had, did you? Apart from being suave and charming and blessed with good looks, James is also a skilled assassin, a sharpshooter who is also adept at hand to hand combat, and has the cojones to pull off acts of daredevilry like skydiving, car racing and jumping off and on speeding trains!
Well, isn’t he the complete package! No wonder he gets the ladies.

What would we talk about

Having faced megalomaniacs all over the globe, with each one tougher than the last, I wonder who Mr. Bond rates as his most formidable adversary, a perfect question to ask during the WeChat conversation. He has toured to some of the most exotic places we wouldn’t even know about, and has had flings with a bevy of beauties, as a perennial 40-year old I would like to know when he is going to settle down. Has Vesper Lynd’s death hit him so hard that he has decided to roam around the corners of the world preventing it from destruction, but still come back home to an empty apartment?
What was his favorite assignment? From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, who has played his role better? And what is his secret for staying a 40-yr old for more than fifty years now? These are a few questions I would like to shoot at Mr. Bond, let’s see how good he is at dodging these bullets!

In an industry where men have been calling the shots for decades, Meryl Streep seems to be one of the few women who has clout to dictate terms, and why wouldn’t she? With 17 Academy award nominations, having won thrice, she is regarded as one of the most complete actors of our times. Have a sample of her filmography and you’d nod in agreement. From playing a woman estranged from her husband and child to a cold hearted boss, to a Catholic nun to Margaret Thatcher–Miss Streep has essayed all her roles with aplomb. And for someone who will be turning 64 soon, she doesn’t look it either.
She has strangely not been cast by Spielberg in any of his movies, a strong character actor, she could easily have a literary character tailor-made for her by George R R Martin, she would even play M in the James Bond movies with much conviction. And given her acting talent, with some good makeup, she could even play Felix Baumgartner if ever a biopic was to be made. It would be great to see the men in the chat group sell their ideas to Ms. Streep.

What we would talk about

Being an actor who has played so many roles that have garnered fame and awards, I would ask her of what her most favorite role was till date. How does she prepare herself to get into the skin of the character? If there is any personality, dead or alive whom she would like to play, who would it be?

To invite a tough-as-nails character as Lisbeth Salander to a group chat would be no mean feat. Having grown up with a troubled past that contributes to her trust issues, the heroine from the Millennium Trilogy is a wild child who lives life by her own rules. She prefers leading an isolated life, and is unwelcome to all those who have ever tried getting close to her. Never the one to seek compassion from others, she is adept at solving her own problem through any means necessary. Do not be fooled by her punk rocker look that is punctuated with tattoos and piercings, her rough exterior exactly does what it’s supposed to do: to ward off people. Your first impression of her may be of a girl who has lost her way and wrecked her life for good. But little do you know of her prowess as a brilliant investigator and a genius hacker who has helped solve cases in Sweden that were left unsolved for decades. With a keen eye for research and deduction, she is the perfect foil to journalist Mikael Blomkvist, the only man whom she respects, and also has hidden feelings for. In this day and age where women are looked down upon and treated with no respect, with a rising increase in violence and crime against them, Stieg Larrson’s Lisbeth Salander is one woman you’d root for. Cross her once, and you will pay for it.  She is the kind who wouldn’t flinch while shoving down your crown jewels down your throat. Independent, combative, and someone who could held her own in the face of adversity, Ms. Salander might as well belong in GRRM’s universe.

What we would talk about

I would measure my words before asking any sort of questions to her, for fear of having my computer hacked, or worse, be subjected to her violent actions. As she possesses a brilliant investigative acumen, and I being someone who likes to read a lot on crimes and mystery thrillers, it would be natural of course to ask her about which unsolved case would she like to dig deeper into, the Zodiac Killer maybe? And, with James Bond in the chat group, she could always be a great ally to the smooth and suave Bond, from solving crimes she could go on to do bigger things like saving the world from nuclear annihilation. A bit of training is required but I am sure Bond can take care of that.

A novelist, a movie director, a diva, a superspy, an adrenaline junkie and a street-smart urchin from the literary universe, my WeChat group sure is an eclectic mix of people – living and imaginary – from all walks of life.

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