road movies.. journeys into landscapes alone or with a friend.. life changing experiences they are presented as. i took a road (or rather rail) trip when i took a train all across the states after i finished my architecture in the states. one month in a train from
i remember being completely lost and confused before the trip and much more at peace at the end. it was a strange time for me. i had made many friends whom i loved dearly in the states. my two years there had been a lot of fun thanks to mani, shamik, rohit, fau, mahua, liji, shankar.. but, something was still missing- and i’d like to think it was not the cliched longing for ‘roots’ that i disparage so much.. but maybe i cant deny it..
i kept a journal during the trip much like che guevara does in ‘the motorcycle diaries’.. when i got back i discovered that shyam my close friend was going to the states and i compiled it as a gift to him.. i still have a copy somewhere. 'snapshots' i called it.
coming back to india was a shock in the beginning- what was i thinking? that is until i started teaching and got a job with dhiru. somehow things fell into place slowly and seem slowly falling still, like leaves from a tree- or more like pieces in a jigsaw.. how come in retrospect everything seems like it has a predetermined meaning is beyond me..
‘the motorcycle diaries’ also ties up all the fragments of a journey neatly into a linear narrative- from che and his friend beginning his journey for a journeys sake, learning of the travails of the working class across the continent, to being inspired to ‘do something’ about it.
perhaps this arc is too simple and clear cut- the characterization too flat and the answer too pat- especially when it comes to coming face to face with the impoverishment and suffering of the locals, for me, the movie used too many hackneyed tools.. black and white images, stares into camera, hollowed out faces- the kind of images that we like to feel bad about so that we can feel good with our politically correct liberalism. still the movie worked for me perhaps because i understand the way in which sometimes we feel the need to explain and rationalize our actions. it was lovely looking and guevara was made out to be the classic romantic hero- determined, honest, so 'pure' he seemed unreal..
but that merely might be the danger of working with material with so much baggage.. the heaviest being the aura of the real guevara immortalized on so many t-shirts – he is almost the ‘nike’ logo of the left.. almost no one knows what he represents anymore except a general sense of revolutionary fervor and a martyrdom which is somehow vaguely attractive. more than anything i think his image (even more than him) has come to symbolize a mixture of youth, idealism and a generic revolutionary anger- an entire approach to the world which has been appropriated ad nauseum by anyone who sees themselves as having any of the above qualities.
is this movie then just another che guevara t-shirt? but instead of the stark print it is painted in lush landscapes in wide screen with a che as beautiful as anyone could conjure.. delicate and soulful. i guess so.. but can i help it if i still want to buy the t-shirt and watch the movie..