Cinema

Passion lives here

Actor Susan Sarandon.  

Attractive, humorous and an uninhibited speaker, Isabel Allende, the novelist and memoirist of Chillean origin, has you completely entertained in her 18-minute talk on TED talks. And when you are not looking, the punch she has packed into her talk hits you nice and proper to remind you of what she has said for the rest of your life.

Truth is not always the easiest thing to say, but said it has to be, at least at important times and important places. Isabel Allende begins by quoting a Jewish saying which asks, “What is truer than truth?” The answer is a story. Her conviction in the power of the story is evident from the words on her website, “Good fiction is not only the thrill of a plot… it challenges the reader's safety, it questions reality. Yes, it can be disturbing… With some luck, the author and the reader, hand in hand, may stumble upon some particles of truth.”

Therefore it is that the author of more than 18 novels couches her message in her story of her four minutes to fame. She was called upon to be one of the flag bearers at the Olympics in Turin in the February of 2006. She was in the company of actresses like Sophia Loren and Susan Sarandon, Nobel prize winners like Gari Maathai, (the 2004 Nobel Laureate from Kenya) and the Cambodian activist, Somaly Mam, in addition to sportswomen.

More than a joke

You may have to press the pause button every now and then for, when she cracks a joke, be sure to hear it again; she is actually saying more. Not when she says that when she ran behind the slim and sexy Sophia at the commencement of the games, she had the advantage of appearing in every paper, for naturally Sophia was the most photographed. But, she says, she often appeared in the pictures, peeping between the tall actress's legs… Nor when she says her husband protests when she says that these four minutes were the best moments of her life…

Beginning with the slogan of the Olympics which said ‘Passion Lives Here', Isabel says while luck and labour play a significant role in the success of a person, it is the passion in that person which determines his or her gold medal. “I need a passionate heart for the characters in my book…adventurers, outsiders, rebels, those who ask questions, bend the rules, take risks…Nice people with common sense do not make interesting characters. They only make good former spouses.”

Through the tales of passion she relates thereafter, she focuses on the state of women across the globe. Feminism is a word shunned by the affluent society, but she tells tales of the many women across the globe who need “feminist” intervention for they have no control over anything, even if it be their own body. And she talks of the contributions of Gari Maathia and Somali Mam and lesser known contributions of women who she came across…women like whom are found in every corner of the world.

To be poor and to be a woman is a curse. The lowliest man has someone whom he can exploit, a lowlier woman. If we have to make the world a good place and not just a better one, this is where all change must be directed, to give women their due.

Investing in women

It is very visible, she says, that the poorest countries are those where the women are treated poorly. Learn from this and concentrate on investing in women's programmes which bring far greater results than technology, design or any other idea can…a promise endorsed by half the sky. And yet one is tempted to ask, are women really better off in the developed countries? Or have we just exchanged problems?

A powerful talk not just for its contents but also for the manner of delivery.

The talk can be accessed at: http://www.ted.com/talks/isabel_allende_tells_tales_ of_passion.html

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Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 11:37:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Passion-lives-here/article16137720.ece

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