Mirrors Beyond Cinema

In a society where most of the time, it is difficult to call spade a spade, the one thing that is brutally honest and been so with conviction for ages, is the mirror. More often than not, what we recollect is the beauty and emotions depicted in Mani Ratnam's movies. The feel good moments sprinkled on the mirror leaves me thinking how graceful life can be, right from divine faces to colourful celebrations. These are the cases where mirror communicates to us explaining the emotional state of the characters or the ambience. 

Not long before YouTube algorithm suggested Thalaivar’s yesteryear movie Thappu thalangal, crafted by none other than K. Balachander and I did watch it to get a glimpse of Thalaivar finding his feet in his early stages. For the period in which it released, depicting the story of two people in their journey to lead a “normal” life, it was an enthralling watch. This interesting movie had a portion where the purpose of mirror was to communicate with a person indirectly without one’s presence. It is indeed spoon-fed to the audience when the illiterate Devu asks the meaning for “Meendum varuga” chalked on the mirror. Sarasu explains on how men don't forget to use the mirror before leaving and invariably will read it. For the profession she's in, the plight she goes through and the insecure feeling to tell her needs, the mirror does it for her. It was her lone personal company until Devu came in and asked her to wipe out the writing on the mirror, getting to hear it’s purpose. It does reiterate the fact that thoughts can be mirrored without one's physical presence. 

Reflection is the primary characteristic of a mirror. There's no adulteration or loss of facts when it presents the reflection. It is such a powerful tool one can possess. The mere tool, took the form of a soldier in Saving Private Ryan. When the American troops were finding it difficult to get past the Omaha beach to the main land, a palm sized mirror was the most accurate soldier they had. Of course the men were trained, but to use it to effect was sheer presence of mind. Hiding behind a set of rocks, getting the mirror placed on the edge of a knife with the support of gum, it was reporting the opponent’s positions from the word go! It just had to be interpreted to words by the Captain. Those are moments where you trust someone or something blindly, having faith in their abilities yet at times it is taken for granted. 

The trust built on mirrors can be shaken when the subject in front of it refuses the reality. There is always a tendency in us to ignore or reject our errors or imperfections. It is completely our choice to react or not react to it. But it might really hurt for a person like Lingesan in the much hyped film I. After being affected by the virus, he goes to the gym hall, full of mirrors to look how his body has transformed. When he strips his robe, the bald man with hunchback groans in disbelief. He reminisces the man he was, Mr. Tamil Nadu posing in front of those mirrors happily but not a single mirror showed traces of that now. He doesn't want to see himself and vests his anger on the mirrors instantaneously. Spur of the moment, the trust in mirrors broke. 

Here comes the part where the art of looking through the mirror comes in, perhaps a false mirror, true to one’s conscience. Towards the end, Diya turns into Lingesan's false mirror, accepting the present, reflecting beyond appearance, convincing him for treatment and giving hope to live. It was unexpected for him, to believe it immediately until she asks, “Had I become like you, would you have left me?” and finds her reflecting his thoughts. Sometimes jumping into conclusion with what is present in front can be misleading, hence look through those mirrors, the answer might well be with you!

Written by

- Prakash Bhaskharan.

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