“Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble. What it does mean is that you’re mature enough to understand your fears and overcome them”– King Mufasa
When you are fortunate to grow up reading Rapunzel, Cinderella, Puss in the boots, Hansel and Gretel, Frog prince, Peter Pan and the like, you are already conditioned to bat your eyelids and float in the wondrous world of characters, their realm of dilemmas and decisions, greed and charity, sacrifice and seize, and how eventually the good triumphs over the evil. Characters that absorb and groom you, without your knowing that that besides entertainment, these delightful yet fictitious personalities actually emboss values and lessons of life.
At a few years to fifty now, I have lost count of how many times I must have watched the Walt Disney Feature Animation film , The Lion King since its release in 1994. Directed by the brilliance of Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, produced by Don Hahn, with its screenplay accolade to Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, and Linda Woolverton, the epic songs were written by composer Sir Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice, with a score by Hans Zimmer. ‘Circle of Life’ is actually deeply spiritual reminding one of the laws of nature,’ nothing can get more romantic than ‘Can you feel the Love tonight’ and the eternal ‘Hakuna Matata’ liberally gives one the right to feel truly free.
When Simba, a cute adorable cub is born to the majestic King Mufasa and the Queen Sarabi , Rafiki declares the heir is born, and the peaceful perfect kingdom of Pride Rock revels in celebration. The father is shown coaching his heir in the duties of a righteous king, just as ideal king should, “there’s more to being a king than getting your way all the time”. Their perfect world comes to an end when the King Mufasa falls to the conspiracy of his unfairly ambitious and deceitful younger brother, Scar (so rightly named). However, during the course of the story all Scar’s vile and stupid supporting team of hyenas fall apart. Zazu, the loyal Hornbill who is caged by Scar, acts as a scout and advises Simba on royal protocol. .Simba meanwhile explores the world of adventure, makes loyal friends like Timon and Pumba, finds support and love in Nala, his childhood friend and also has an awakening about the purpose of his life, after heeding her word. He has to introspect, gather courage, remember the lessons of his father, believe in his resolve and right and fight and end Scar’s tyrannical reign to win the back his rightful throne.
What a roller coaster ride the story-line is! You become a participant side character in the film and experience all the euphoria, jubilation, subjugation, bonding, pain, fear, oppression, manipulation, loneliness, adrenaline, gallantry and conclude in a satisfaction of our favorite theme that goodness always wins over greed and evil.
Some few punch lines stay with you forever… Mufasa preaches the law of universal respect with “Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.” The story reminds us that our loved ones always look upon us from the heavens and guide us, that is when Mufasa’s ghost appears in the night sky and advises a young, disoriented Simba to return home. At another instance, Rafiki travels to the jungle where Simba lives with Timon and Pumba, and teaches him lessons about learning from the past: “Yes, the past can hurt but, the way I see it you can either run from it, or learn from it“. Zazu’s lechery on imprisonment and his adamant loyalty towards the end is natural survival tactics. Simba’s character displays how normal it is to flee from pain, guilt, and insecurity, about the thirst to wander, explore the world, falling for its distractions, and – don’t worry; be happy kind of revelry. Simba also endorses friendship and its advice ‘It’s important to always look where you’re headed rather than where you were! He displays warmth and respect towards his mate by listening to her loving and realistic advice, but is brash enough to walk away from it too. When every adolescent is on the threshold of maturity, there is introspection, self-discovery- just the thing Simba undergoes when he rises again with a sense of purpose and direction. In the end he sticks to his teachings by his father, spares Scar’s life and instead does justice by banishing him from Pride Rock. Scar, the usurper, gives us more. How blind ambition can destroy everything around you, how and why it takes much more than power to be a true leader, why it is important to have loyal and intelligent advisers and supporters, how betrayal and bitterness reaps only disloyalty, how an evil heart can never be at peace and so on. The sentiments are human, so is the story, the characters endearing, and the messages so enriching…
Its Lion King’s day today, August the 10th and the wealth of all these words buzz in the ears. The images from the movie play before the eyes. The depth of the words brings out a new perspective each time you watch the movie. Ultimately what keeps resounding is….
“Remember who you are…” as concluded King Mufasa.