A Calmer You: Hey, do you have a mind of your own?

‘Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice’ — Steve Jobs
Hindustan Times | By Sonal Kalra, New Delhi
UPDATED ON SEP 30, 2012 01:13 AM IST

‘Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice’ — Steve Jobs

I’ve known Shivani for many years. As a sweet, polite girl with lots of brain- and no mind of her own. The latter was proved yet again when I bumped into her at the cinema hall last week. We were both there to watch the film Barfi!. Before the movie started, Shivani said, "I can’t wait for it to begin. Ranbir Kapoor is the favourite of ‘all my friends’." During the interval, Shivani said, "It’s really good so far," at which the girl next to her in the seemingly eternal quest for popcorn asked, "But aren’t you getting confused by so many flashbacks?" Shivani replied, "Hmm, that’s true. It’s pretty confusing." Just as the movie was about to end, I could see Shivani two rows ahead, wiping away tears while pretending that something was bothering her eye. "Loved it. Amazing. Made me feel so good about life," were her words as we all left.

Within 5 minutes, her Facebook status screamed how much she loved the film. And then two days later, a video showing that a lot of scenes in the film were copied from different English movies started doing the rounds. I bumped into Shivani at the bookshop. "How horrible!" she said. I nodded. "Everyone’s saying it’s a straight lift from classic movies. Just imagine, we are sending such a film to the Oscars. Check out my status," she said, and handed her phone to me.

Her status read, "I hate Barfi!, the copycat". "But didn’t you totally love it the other day?" I asked. "Yeah, but now everyone’s saying it’s a copy," she said. "Did you love it because of how it made you feel or only because you thought it was an original?" I asked. "But everyone says…" she started to say, but I mentally drifted away. I’m sorry for you Shivani, and for the rest of you who may identify with her. Not because you liked or hated Barfi!, because you have every right to, but because your thoughts are always being dictated by this grossly useless term — ‘everyone says’.

Liking or disliking a work of art is a deeply personal thing, and as subjective. You may love or hate a film, and both are great, as long as you are doing it because that’s how you feel, and not because that’s what the world is saying. Anyway, too much

spoken about a film in which anyone hardly speaks. My point is generic. I’ve seen people shy away from expressing their true opinion about something because they are constantly waiting to see what the majority says.

Or because someone more aggressive and vocal has already put his/her opinion affront, almost as a challenge. ‘We dare not be different’ is what dictates our actions, and how utterly sad is that. If you are one of those who hesitates to speak up your mind, these may just help:

1. Don’t bother about being judged: If someone decides to judge you on whether you love slapstick comedies or serious art-house cinema, it is, frankly, their problem and not yours. At various stages in our life, we tend to like cinema of different kinds. It depends on our current mindset, our likeness for certain artists and sometimes just on our mood on the day we watch it. None of these is in anyway related to what the rest of the world thinks about it. If you like depending on the experts’ judgment or even your friends’ opinion on whether to watch something or not, it’s absolutely fine. But when you do watch and realise that your own opinion is different from theirs, don’t hesitate to express it for the fear of being judged.

Remember that hesitatingly saying ‘vaise mujhe itni buri nahi lagi’ for something that you totally loved is not being fair to that work of art. If it made you feel good, you owe it to reflect your unbiased opinion. Same if you found it to be crap.

2Don’t let overaggressive people win at the game: There are people who never outgrow the bullying streak they developed in school simply because they were not taken to task back then. So you see them very aggressively voicing their opinion about everything, with the clear purpose to drown out any opposing viewpoints.

Pity such people and retain your politeness, but don’t let their aggression colour your views. Years ago in college, there was a classmate who lived under the illusion of being the resident movie reviewer of...well, this country at least. He would watch a film on the first day, declare it shitty or fab, and then condescendingly say things like, ‘don’t tell me you guys are planning to watch that disaster?’ It would pain me to see others in his group fidget, with tickets in hand, and defensively say, ‘we felt like passing time and then there was no better choice’. One day, a new entrant to the class replied, ‘Why the hell should you go through disasters alone every week, we should do that too’ and the bully’s reign was broken. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.

3Form an opinion - it’s healthy: As long as you are not hurting someone’s sentiments, quit fence sitting and have an opinion of your own. At least about things that are in the public domain - like movies, books, politics, art. Do not, like a mindless parrot, share or repeat something that you saw several people like on Facebook or retweet on Twitter, if your own heart says the opposite. You’ll feel good being true to yourself, and who knows, you may inspire someone else to also gather courage and speak up their mind.

Ending this by quoting Steve Jobs, again, ‘Your time is limited. So, don’t waste it living someone else’s life.’

Sonal Kalra was asked if copycat Barfi! should have been sent to the Oscars. She wants to ask why you care so much about the Oscars in the first place. Because ‘everyone else’ does? Mail her at or Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra

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