Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

Samsaram Adhu Minsaram

Wikipedia provides an excellent summary of the movie that may inspire one to go out and watch it, despite revealing the entire plot. This isn’t a typical Bollywood movie within a bajillion (or kabillion!) songs, but the few therein are mellifluous. It contains many potent quotables, often in the form of couplets, and they manage to retain their essence even when translated from Tamil. For instance, when referring to the education disparity between his sons, Ammaiyappan summarizes:

I sent the first to a college
And the other to a garage.

Samsaram Adhu Minsaram literally translates to Family Life, That’s Electricity! and might best be described as a study of those electric interactions within a family, from the static shocks of petty squabbles to the sparks that simultaneously make a family run and can simultaneously be cataclysmic when overly stressed. The stresses arise from a mismatch between one’s expectations for kin and the reality (e.g. educational prowess, marital prospects, etc.) and can be exacerbated by financial or social pressure.

What I like most about this movie is that it doesn’t try to place the blame squarely on external factors as so many other movies (and people, myself included) sometimes do. Oh, it’s not me, it’s the economy, the government, in-laws! In this movie, the daughter-in-law, far from being a villain, actually saves the day, and it’s a daughter’s childish behavior that leads to her problems.

I recently had a conversation with a friend whose family I met recently. The friend admitted to feeling a bit self-conscious, but then I mentioned I felt a little self-conscious a month earlier when the situation was reversed. Samsaram Adhu Minsaram is a reminder that the dysfunction many are self-conscious of in their own families may be more common-place than the idealizations one might expect from seeing the Huxtables or Donna Reeds on television. One might even summarize that sentiment in a couplet:

Samsaram,
Adhu minsaram.

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