January 31, 2008

Heath Ledger

Death has a way with things. Many cultures are of the opinion that everyone should witness a few deaths besides their own and learn something from the experience.

Heath Ledger might not have been the greatest actor of all time, he wasn't even my favorite but his death came as a shock to me. First and foremost I never knew that he was just 29, I thought he had seen it all and must be pushing 40 (but that's a different story). I think it was the manner in which I got to know of this actor's death that caused me to stop and think about things around me.

I was checking my e-mail on my PDA and an alert from New York Times revealed that Heath Ledger was found dead. I remember feeling a little queasy. It might sound a little strange but it was as if someone I knew had died. The mind played a few tricks and hit the refresh key on all the deaths that I witnessed over the years. I was 10 or 11 when a very close family friend died. I remember hearing the news and wondering how'd one feel when life leaves the body? That made me realize that things will come to an end some day. My maternal grandfather had a second lease of life after a kidney transplant and carried on for almost 6 years before dying. He did some of his best work during that period which he called ‘second life’. His death made me realize that very few people get a second lease so one must make the most of the ‘one’ life. My paternal grandmother succumbed to illness after a long battle. Her life made me believe that one ought to live a full life even in the face of adversities.

Mr. Ledger's death affected me in more ways than I could even imagine. For a week after that I was thinking about his films. I read up a lot about the last few days of he lived; he was a very brave actor. In addition to a career-defining role in The Brokeback Mountain, Mr. Ledger was all set to reprise The Joker in the new The Dark Knight, Batman film. The Joker is no easy role mind you, for one you have to deal with the ghost of Jack Nicholson who portrayed Joker with such élan that anyone filling in his shoes would be fighting an almost lost battle. According to reports not only is Mr. Ledger's Joker different, it's darker and some believe even better than the real thing. Brilliance often commands a heavy price and the role took its toll on the actor. Mr. Ledger stayed alone in hotel for a month and didn't speak to anyone in order to prepare for it. No wonder critics were considering him the Brando of a new generation. Once the filming got over depression took over adding to the sadness of loosing his daughter after he separated with his partner. He resorted to anxiety pills almost 7 different varieties were found in him.

Was it really required of Mr. Ledger to push himself to the limits for a mere film role? He considered his work to be of poor quality and wanted to push the envelope a little more. His Bob Dylan in I'm Not Here stands out even as there are 5 other actors who portray the same role in the film. In his death I, for some strange reason, have realized the importance of being happy and getting along. Everyone wants craves normalcy around them selves but no one wants to be normal for wasn't normal supposed to be boring.

Now you will not swell the rout

Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

To an Athlete Dying Young- A. E. Housman

Image Courtesy: www.thedarkknight.com

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