I had picked up A Lone walk to Freedom but it is a huge volume and I gave up soon.
I did however watch the movie Invictus thrice in a row. I was mimicking my daughter to whom I had recommended ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’, based on the life of Michelangelo. She smartly watched BBC videos and came back to quiz me on the topic. It goes with out saying that I scored poorly.
I cannot but be amazed at my own ignorance of the people who lived in our times, their greatness, their deeds and their legacy. Was I not curious enough? How could I not know enough about the movers and shakers of our world,of at least these recent times? For that ignorance I know I have no one to blame but myself.
But here I am redeeming my pride by watching the best in the cinema, or at least consciously trying to and listening to the best in the music and hoping to visit the best of the places while munching up on great food… now that’s a beautiful dream…isn’t it?
The beauty of a well made film is that it goes straight to your heart and leaves you changed. That is what ‘Invictus’ did to me. With some great acting by Morgan Freeman who impersonated,Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Francois Peinaar, Adoja Andoh as Brenda, Mandela’s assistant make the film memorable. I particularly loved Brenda’s swaying her hips as she waltzed in and out of the presidential office, some times a friend, sometimes a confidant and even a strict governess to the man. She stood out as the most graceful woman in the entire film. The best acting of course is by Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. The maid at Peinaar’s home also deserves a special mention.
I must also say something about the poem Invictus by W.E Henley of whom I had first read about in Maxbeerbhom’s essay ‘Speed’. That was long time ago, but the poem is something I go back to for the rugged feel of mastery over life, especially when you read out the lines,’I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul’.
So it turns out that the poem was Nelson Mandela’s corner stone in his 27 years of imprisonment. 27 years of imprisonment in a narrow cell where you are humiliated and ill treated can turn any one insane, but Madiba as Nelson Mandela was called by his clan, emerged strong enough to put an end to apartheid in South Africa and also set the country on a course of progress and togetherness.
While he did so, he stood alone, his family was estranged from him for what they perceived to be his bowing down to those who perpetrated unimaginable crimes and violence upon the black people for years together.
Yet, this man, Nelson Mandela stood strong and with conviction in his vision for a rainbow country steered the course, amidst violence, distrust from the blacks as well as the whites and used a game, rugby, to bridge the gap.
Call it strategy or mere accident, by striking a friendship with the Rugby captain, Peinaar and egging him on to connect to the black people, Mandela created a momentum that eventually catapulted the South African team to win the Rugby world cup in their homeland.
What makes such men? Where does such conviction come from?
Most of us lose the courage on receiving a bank notice or losing a job or failing in love, yet men such as this rare as they are stick to their goal and are relentless in pursuing what they set out to achieve.
Mandela goes on to become Peinaar’s first son’s god father. In an interview, Francois Peinaar recalls how his second son at the age of five had walked up to Mandela to ask’ Will you please be my godfather too?’.
The film makes a case for sports and its phenomenal ability to create connect against deeply set apathy among people.
India should take a leaf from the South African example. We should free our children from the burden of heavy books to the freedom of the play ground so that they emerge stronger, with a better discipline and a clearer vision of life itself.
We should play more to connect on the field and off the field because the bonds are stronger and lasting in nature.
About the film, need I say more, it is a winner and needs to be watched again and again.