Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Rashomon is a Japanese movie by the celebrated director of the history Akira Kurosawa, released in 1950. It is a story about complex and contradictory interpretations of the murder of a man that takes place. As the movie proceeds, we get to observe different versions of the truth through the eyes of different characters in the movie. The evolving nature of different characters with varied narratives is equally evident.

Plot of the movie:
This engaging work of Kurosawa is strong in imagery, emotional intensity and with elements of theatrical conundrum. Rashomon begins with the three people; a priest, a woodcutter and a commoner taking shelter from the rain who thereby start sharing the story of the most horrific crime that they have heard. From the beginning till the end of the movie, we see anxious faces of these three people as if extremely disturbed by something bothering them, and as the movie proceed their anxiety and confusion is also seen as reaching a crescendo. As they share, we get to know that the murder involves three protagonists: the bandit Tajumoru, the lady and her husband.

The trials of the courthouse begin with the most rudimentary and simple statements from the Woodcutter who found the body, the Priest who saw the Lady and Man passing by and the man who captured the bandit. The story then acquires tempo with the versions of the three protagonists presenting them in totally different light in comparison to other’s stories.

In the first version, the bandit describes how he gets completely mesmerized by the Lady’s beauty and thereby plans on to get her. He proceeds by luring the man into buying swords and gets him to follow him to a hill top, where then he captures him and ties him to a tree. While initially the lady tries to defend herself with a dagger, she eventually gives in and yields to the bandit. The lady however is overcome with shame with two men knowing her dishonour and provokes the two men to fight. The man in this version is thus shown as killed by the bandit in the sword fight between the two, while the lady runs away. When in the court he is later asked about the lady’s valuable dagger with pearl inlay, he says that he almost forgot about it in the frenzy of the entire situation.

The second version of the wife’s truth, she presents herself as a loyal, helpless wife who has been dishonoured because of the bandit after being raped. The bandit is nowhere to be seen, the lady pleads her husband’s forgiveness but the cold look in his eyes stupefies her completely. The man’s look of loathing is so disturbing for her that she faints with a dagger in her hand. When she regains consciousness she is shocked to see the dagger in her dead husband’s chest. She could not remember how she left the woods and landed near the pond at the foot of the hill, where she even tries to kill herself several times but fails.
As the movie proceeds, we further see how characters are transformed and viewed in multiple perspectives through different versions of the same incident. The dead man narrates his side of the story through a medium. The man talks about his suffering at the hands of his wife’s command of having him killed before he flees away with the bandit. The bandit is equally shocked and he is ready to either kill the lady or save her because of her scathing comments, as per the command of the man. The lady however runs away, the bandit is unable to chase her and eventually comes back and frees the man. The man however is struck with pain. The emptiness envelops him, and kills himself with the wife’s dagger.

The last version of the truth by the woodcutter is also interesting in the way it reveals the intentions of people. He shares with others how he had lied at the court to avoid getting too involved with the crime. According to him he witnessed the incident wherein the bandit was seen begging the lady to marry him, while she frees her husband. The two men are unwilling to fight, following which the lady criticizes both of them lacking in their manliness. She is seen talking about passion and finally provokes the two men to fight for her. The bandit and the man engage in a cowardly fight, while she sees them anxiously hiding behind the rock. The bandit kills the man with the sword and woman runs away.

The movie reaches its climax when the three men sharing the story hear the crying sound of a baby. One of them finds the abandoned baby and starts to take away the amulet in the kimono in which the baby was wrapped. The priest and the woodcutter reproach him for stealing the only thing left probably for the baby’s protection. The commoner however firmly expresses how every man in the world in driven by selfishness which is essential to survive. He figures out that the woodcutter too was hiding his story because it was him who stole the valuable dagger. The woodcutter and the priest are left there reflecting on themselves. Finally the woodcutter reaches out for the baby. The priest who initially suspects him of his intentions eventually places his “faith in man” and the woodcutter willingly takes the infant agreeing to take care of it along with the other six children he already has.


Rashomon is a movie laden with passion, tragedy and questions of morality. This black and white movie starts in a backdrop of a heavy downpour that continues throughout the movie. There are many instances of cinematic techniques that have been employed to denote the eeriness, the conundrum and the mosaic of emotions displayed by the characters in the story. The unstoppable rain, the imagery of dead hand, the camera focus on profiles and faces of the characters especially the eyes are all indications of the conflicting emotions being experienced by the characters.

The opening dialogues of the movie itself are a subtle introduction to the audience of the central theme which is of figuring out the Truth. “I can’t understand...what it means” is actually a dialogue that may fit after listening to every version of truth discussed in the movie, as it gets more and more confusing and convoluted for the viewer. The three people who are sharing the story with each other can thus be attributed with the role of audience themselves. The movie is woven with interludes of conversations between the three people and they aptly resonate with the feelings of the spectator at multiple points in the movie. This technique of collaboration of the audience and the three men being the judge of the situation is further made explicit as one never sees the Real Judge in the courthouse trials. The cinematic technique employed is such that it is the audience gaze that had been directed to the one being tried on, probably allowing the audience to be the ultimate judge of all the stories?

It is equally interesting to note the symmetry of characters employed by the director such as number three. The people taking shelter and sharing the story of horrific murder are three, the initial trials of the people introducing and making the audience used to the procedure are three (the woodcutter, priest and the man who captures the bandit) as well there the three main protagonists in the movie (the Lady, the bandit and the man).

As the movie proceeds, the complexities and transformative nature of the characters, as well as their intricate emotions emerge through every version of the story. For instance, the movie begins with the very petite docile presentation of the lady evident from the camera work of the visual shown as her resting by the woods in her netted hat, seated courteously; her warrior like instinct of fighting with the bandit; and progresses to the different shades of shame and guilt that make her operate in different ways; sometimes making her fight the survival instinct and escape from the situation by forcing the two men to engage in a duel, while at other times she overcomes with emotions and decides to kill herself.
Every version of the story reveals something new about the character, sometimes focussing on their actions and sometimes on their emotions.

For instance, the “ferociousness of the woman” impresses the bandit who catches hold of her and forces her to yield to him in front of her husband. While initially the lady resists, the camera works shows how the strong rays of the sun almost hypnotize her and she willingly gives herself to the bandit. Her role in the movie shifts from being a victim of objectification to the one who is ready to stand for herself in times of crisis.

Furthermore, in the wife’s version of the truth where there is less focus on who killed with man, one sees that this version truth was an intimate perspective on the complex emotional expressions of the characters, especially of the husband-wife. This version brings out an extremely guilt stricken and tormented personality of the woman protagonist, and the cold loathing inner state of emotions of the man. This is evident from the dialogues when she says “Even now, when I think of his eyes, my blood turns cold in my veins. What I saw in them was neither anger nor sorrow; but a cold light a look of loathing.” She is struck with affliction and doesn’t want to be looked like that by him. She persistently asks him to stop, frees him and asks him to rather kill her than look her with those cruel haunting eyes. This shows how petrified she is with the look in the man’s eyes thus suggestive of the director of the impact of intensity of emotions that one can experience with just one’s eyes! The constant camera focus on eyes of the man and woman further makes the viewer drown in the soul and nature of each of their characters. This version of truth is one of the most interesting as it leaves the audience with a lot of seemingly unanswered questions. The theme of shame and honour are represented with much more intensity here as the wife narrates her story driven with guilt of having failed to kill herself and live with the haunting look in his husband’s eyes for the rest of her life.

The dead man’s version of the story is also emotionally intense story and more theatrical in nature with occult like setting and music score making the audience reflect on whether the man really killed himself or if the woman provoked in him the feelings of self mortification. This perspective shows a completely contradictory nature of the characters where the wife is seen as a sinner causing the darkness and suffering of the man who narrates the story in extreme anger and rage, while the bandit is momentarily viewed in positive light as he is willing to kill the lady because of her acerbic comments of having the man killed and later when he comes back and frees the man. The man here is shown as tormented with pain, with piercing nature of her wife’s words. He feels helpless and is shown alone embracing the emptiness and silence around. This version of truth is more surreal and existential in nature, reflecting the utter bitterness of woman’s character and rage and pain turned inwards for the man.

The woodcutter’s version is also interesting in the way it displays the dynamics of men and women and later for the larger issues that it raises. The lady here is initially shown as a victim of unfair treatment by the opposite sex. The notion of weakness of the sex has been discussed here. In this version we also observe how the character of the lady momentarily hopes for an escape and “hope of coming out of the daily farce in order to be saved” at the hands of the bandit. Furthermore the men have been shown as displaying a weak presentation of themselves, fighting clumsily rather than heroically as shown earlier in the sword fight.

After the versions of truth and various perspectives have been shown to the viewer the viewer is left in a quandary to think and decide which of the versions is an accurate version of the Truth. The three people act as narrator as well as help the audience in judging and addressing the larger issues at hand, that of inevitable subjectivity, selfishness, honesty and intent! While it is in every way possible that each of the three protagonists shared a different version arising out of their own subjectivities that suited them, what is important is not perceiving them as right or wrong, but only as they are! The story is a narrative on human nature and the emotions that drive them to indulge in particular act. This is evident from the priest’s initial dialogue in the movie “human life is truly as frail and fleeting as morning dew”. Moreover the relativity of innate goodness and badness of things have also been discussed indicated by the commoner’s dialogue “is there anything good... goodness is just make-belief. Men want to forget bad stuff and remember only the good”. Thus according to me, the three men are there to integrate and weave the stories into a whole and subtly bring out the message to the audience. While we have the commoner willing to steal from the baby’s kimono, it is also he who brings out the hypocrisy of the woodcutter and shows a mirror to his own character. It is his sermon of the inevitable selfishness driven in the world that the viewer connects to.

Underlying all the perspectives that seemingly talk about vice and virtue is a subtext of the most important lesson that the director leaves the audience with, which is of Intent. It is easy to ignore this theme which only faintly finds a mention at the beginning of the movie through the bandit who repeats several times that he never intended to kill the man. If all the characters are viewed in the light of intent that they had, one may not see the characters in black or white, right or wrong but simply as they were. It is the range of intentions of the character that one comes across. For instance, when the lady’s intent has been of survival, her actions of running away are justified. When she is seen fighting, she is being true to her intent of being loyal to her husband. When she intends her Self to be free of guilt, she wishes for her husband’s death. When she intends to get free of her dishonour of being with two men, her wish of being killed is justified.
Similarly, the commoner’s intent of stealing is justified out of his own context of survival that he was operating from. Same is the case with all the other characters.

This interpretation is a direct reflection drawn from my personal experience and the high regard I place on intent in my own personal life. When one starts viewing people and their acts from this lens, they start appearing less of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and more in shades of grey. Thus, for me, intent is not right or wrong, but higher or lower. One acts according to one’s intentions and thereby bears the consequences of those actions or thoughts performed. The aim then is to keep working to reach higher and higher levels of intent and acting with integrity in accordance with it, whatever it may be.

The answer to the final question raised in the movie “who’s story is believable” is thus that all are. There is no one truth. There are multiple truths in the movie Rashomon but the highest truth is the truth that upholds the intention of understanding one’s soul, acting out of compassion and gratitude; and shifting one’s position from being selfish to Self-ish giving the movie the perfect ending it required reinstilling faith in man of operating out of higher intent as in the movie with the rains finally subsiding and there is hope of a distant sun to shine on.

Every truth is like a painting coloured in different colours. What colours people use may vary from person to person, but that does not render a particular painting as good or just is! What may vary is the intensity and depth of every painting...
Moreover as can be observed, I have interpreted the movie less in terms of notions of Justice and more on the rainbow of emotions displayed. Such focus also arises out of personal experience and journey that I experience life in. Since art is an inevitable part of my life, the emphasis on eyes being the soul of the person is but unavoidable. Eyes are more than the organ for visual perception. Like every eye in my piece of art may vary and express different emotions whether they are the ‘empty eyes’, ‘romantic eyes’, ‘soulful’ or ‘joyful’ eyes, similar is the focus of camera on eyes of the man (loathing eyes), woman (terrified and sad eyes) and the bandit (crazy eyes).

The quagmire in Rashomon is similar to the famous Heinz Dilemma in moral development. It is important to note that one cannot see the notion of truth and justice in isolation. The emotional understanding of the character and the context in which they are operating are equally important to be considered in order to progress with the judgment or contradictory testimonies in a more mature manner and then arrive at a conclusion rather than just seeing the world in black and white.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Do It Yourself!

Are you someone like me who is obsessed of earrings? so much so, that you have too many of them without any idea where and how to keep them?

Then this post can be of some use to you.

Furthermore are you like me who is obsessive compulsive of order and arrangement in whatever you do?

Then you may continue reading...

Or are you like me who loves to mend broken things or work on old things just to pass time and create something new?

Then definitely you must continue reading!

Sharing a process of making your own jewellery (especially earrings) box with all things FREE FREE FREE! ain't that awesome?

Step 1: Find an empty box. ( I NEVER throw Wedding boxes and wedding cards, it just amazes me how people spend so much on a stupid box which are oh-so beautiful and fancy! ). Yes we will recycle every inch we can ;)

Step 2: Get an egg tray from any shop (ofcourse the shopkeeper will give it to you for free! It's garbage for him!)

Step 3: Cut the egg tray of appropriate size of your box

Step 4: Cut the bulging tops of the egg tray with a blade or a cutter to create hollow protrusions (also as per the height of the box, cut more or less)

Step 5: Make a solution of fevicol and water and paint the egg tray with it completely. (This will make the tray more stiff than before.) Let it dry...

Step 6: Paint the egg tray in whatever colour you want! Let it dry...

Step 7: Arrange your earrings which shall not get mixed up anymore the way you used to dump them all together! ;)

Step 8: Have fun and decorate your jewellery box (front and back) the way you want! Personally, I love adding mirrors.

Step 9: The second box i got had space on the other side as well, which i didn't feel like wasting. Added shelves to make it multi purpose! (Why waste space ?! =/ )

Step 10: Marvel at your creation! And show it to your girlfriends and make more if you feel like! xD

PS: Initially the idea of egg trays would look weird and funny to you, but trust me, it serves a wonderful purpose, so go create your own from scrap. DIY! =)