Sunday, March 9, 2014


Pic.: Sherry Haridas

There is a scene in the latest Hollywood movie, 'Captain Phillips'. A gang of Somali pirates have kidnapped Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) from his cargo ship - MV Maersk Alabama, and are now heading towards Somalia with the objective of extracting millions of dollars in ransom. There are four heavily-armed pirates, all skinny and young - one of them barefoot and others who look starved and wretched. They have held Captain Phillips as a hostage in a fiber-glassed life-boat and are speeding towards their homeland, where their gang leaders are sheltered…
Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi) is the leader of the four-member gang of pirates. He is arrogant, fearless and ruthlessly hell-bent on carrying out his mission. Before the gang abducts Captain Phillips from the vessel, they are offered thirty-thousand-dollars cash, which is there in ship’s safe, and leave the ship and its crew alone. But, Muse has no interest in such a small catch and he says, “We want millions of dollars.”  Captain Phillips reminds Muse that American Navy will not allow that to happen, and it’s a lost battle for the pirates…

It makes no difference on the hardened Muse. He arrogantly boasts before Captain Phillips, saying, “Last time, I hijacked a Greek ship for ten-million dollars.”

“Ten-million dollars?” Captain Phillips asks Muse, “What are you doing here, then?”

The movie is an extremely-gripping thriller and keeps us pinned to the edge throughout. I loved the philosophical message concealed in the above scene…

Muse is an idiot. He is so blinded by his ignorance and arrogance that he thinks he has accomplished a great feat in his life by risking and hijacking a Greek ship for ten-million dollars! He can not see the wretchedness he lives in, how his gang-leaders have been exploiting him, fooling him… He doesn’t know, someone else has made those ten-million dollars using him as their tool… He believes, like a dumb idiot, that he has accomplished a great feat!

I like the question Captain Phillips poses to Muse, “What are you doing here, then?”

This is very much our own story… This is very much a question posed to each one of us…

What have we held hostage?

What has held us hostage?

Who are we making those ‘then-million dollars’ for?

And, yes, what are we doing here, then… in this wretchedness?


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