THE BIG YEAR
THE BIG YEAR
That is the name of the movie that I saw during my Air India flight to Kozhikode (formerly Calicut) from Delhi. It is truly a hopping flight: two stops over at Mumbai and Coimbatore (the Tamils still have not changed its name, or if they have, I am not aware) and in the process takes 6 hours to reach from Delhi to Kozhikode; in the same time you may reach at least a few destinations in Europe, and all in the destinations in Gulf area as well as all over Asia. Normally I avoid seeing movies on plane; one, that the screen is too small and too close for my comfort, secondly, most of the times, these are highly abridged, and third, not less important, the hearing phone plugs do not fit my ears. I am seriously thinking of buying good quality external earphones, which you don’t have to insert inside your ears. However, I keep the screen alive to see what is happening, or sometimes I steal a glance over other passengers’ screens to know what are their choices. For example, when we were flying to Zurich very recently, the young boy sitting diagonally opposite, was watching some kind of a horror movie, the story of which seemed to have been lifted straight from ancient Indian and Arabian stories. The demon in some far flung area has an extra head on his shoulder, can penetrate wall of any thickness, and is at ease whether running, flying or swimming deep under the ocean. And he is indestructible by any weapon. Only fire could annihilate him in the end set up by the young hero. And what was hero’s reward? No prize in guessing; of course, the young beautiful princess.
Well, on my flight to Kozhikode, I resumed reading ‘Paths to Glory’ by Jeffery Archer, the book I started on my flight to Zurich. If you do not know about this book, I will tell you some other day.
When breakfast came, I switched on my inflight entertainment programme, just to watch visuals, without the bother of listening to dialogues. I stopped at one channel when I saw Steve Martin shooting birds, what else, but with a camera. I had thought I would just enjoy his comical acting while having my breakfast, but then, the birds caught my attention, and I decided to watch the movie with all audio and visuals. The movie was about 3 people, who are birdies: the passionate bird watchers. Steve is a successful business tycoon who started from his garage, but now controls an empire, and is fiercely competitive; Harris is a young man who at 36 is divorced, and does not have a steady job; Baustik is another young and successful guy who is happily married to a beautiful and devoted wife, and the couple is keen to have a child, for which wife is under treatment at an Infertility clinic. They are unknown to one another, and had decide to take a year off, the ‘big year’ from their respective work. During this year, they and many other bird watchers would travel all over the US to spot, sight, and photograph as many birds as possible, and to achieve satisfaction of being a winner. Each wants to be a winner, because winning would bring them some glory and recognition. Doing ‘Big Year’ is not just following a hobby for them any more. What was just a passion becomes another nerve wrecking competition.
Steve and Baustik have no problem with funds, but when Harris goes to his parents for a loan of $ 5000/-, his retired father retorts about him not doing any worthwhile job, and wanting to erode their old age savings to pursue his useless hobby of bird watching, and giving a fancy name ‘The Big Year’ to his vacation. His mother comes to rescue at the last minute, and drives recklessly to the JFK for him to catch his flight to a bird sanctuary about to receive migratory birds. These three meet in the sanctuary, but would not tell one another that they all have taken this as their ‘Big Year’, though all suspect each other, and a fierce, but un-spelt competition sets among them. The story is about how they try to stay ahead of the other, how they handle their own demons and relationships, and how they learn some important lessons of life.
In between the year, Steve’s office begs him to come to office from his vacation to clinch a deal with a tough client; he resists initially but returns to NY just for 4 hrs. But then, misses his chartered flight to Alaska, and there is none for another week. So he lags behind in his number game, and feeling very frustrated, decides to give up on completing his Big Year. Then his wife reminds him that bird watching was his hobby, why he is taking it as another business deal or rivalry. He should complete his ‘big year’ enjoying watching and photographing birds, not just counting them. Harris comes close second, but he ends up getting a girl friend, and more importantly he learns the importance of relationship in life, when he abandons a field trip to return to look upon his ailing father in the hospital. His father understands his son’s passion, and gifts him funds to complete his year. Baustik comes up as the winner, but in the process loses his wife; she finally decides to leave him because he misses all the important dates at the clinic, and she realizes that she is only at a second place in his life, and how much he himself abhors the idea of coming to second place in the ‘Big Year’. After losing his wife, the value of relationship dawns on him when sitting alone in a park he sees a young couple walking with a child.