Prof Mahul Brahma launches new book Mostly Missing: Be Silly Be Slow

Academician and Author of The Luxe Trilogy and The Mythic Value of Luxury unveils his seventh book and talks to Journapost about the mantra to reclaim life with slowness and silliness. Edited Excerpts:

When one goes into life, with the wandering alleys of the times, one tends to forget the raison detre of the birth-death cycle – to live.

And that is what goes missing…mostly.

In the daily humdrum of days of our lives, we tend to miss out on living.

And what goes mostly missing is to consciously experience our days and our nights.

The two critical aspects that go mostly missing in experiencing our lives fully as we become more and more mature are slowness and silliness.

There is not much literature on these two vital aspects of our lives that is mostly looked down upon in a world dominated by speed and seriousness, or the act of it. Yes, being dead serious or acting is the only acceptable solution if you want to be taken seriously by your family, friends and peers. Along the way your professional life has been mixed with your personal life …earlier they were two peas in a pod and now it is in a plasma state, hard to distinguish. The concept of work from home has eliminated the blurred line between professional and personal space. It was blurred, yes, because the work-life balance was unbalanced to begin with.

The natural outcome was the change in demeanor at home…seriousness finds entry into a space that is meant to be silly, and the fast pace enters a life that is meant to be slow. Slowness and silliness thus have no room left in your office-home space.     

It’s need of the hour!

This book, in two parts, explores these two vital elements that are on the verge of extinction in our lives…that are mostly missing! #BeSilly #BeSlow


On Silliness

Years of conditioning and the decreasing patience of the ecosystem has made you accept the action definitions that are “appropriate for your age”. Thus any act that does not fall within the well-defined age-appropriate norms is not acceptable or rather silly.

If you define your life in terms of socially-acceptable norms, then believe me, only death is acceptable. You will not be called names only if you are dead.

Life is beautiful and dynamic, and you are unique. Your acceptable norms are unique.

This socially-acceptable definition also holds true for passion as well.


Passion is Silly

Let me explore a few facets of passion and the silliness necessary to pursue them for life.



For a filmmaker being silly is a strict no no…till the time you are successful and the silliness, in this case craziness, makes you a rich man. Then you become an integral part of their identity. Till then…you have to bear with “You think you are Satyajit Ray? You think Cannes Film Festival will invite you? Why are you wasting your life?” Till one day, maybe years later, you actually get an invitation from Cannes. How silly of them!  

Comparison, rather a serious comparison, is a fool-proof method to kill passion. Filmmaking is no different. While greats always inspire but when you are in your initial years of filmmaking, trying to figure your own core, a constant reminder of the Everest you have to climb is not helpful. If you are in the base camp then you have to always keep your mind’s eye on the summit, it is inspiring because you have already made to 4130 meters, a little less than half way is already covered. But when you are at sea level…the story is very different…inspiring but intimidating too. 

So first a filmmaker needs to find his genre and that really takes lots of “rather silly” sacrifices and then create a body of work with a consistent passion as if it is your first film. Yes, I agree it sounds silly to remember and recreate or rather replicate the passion of your first film in all your films…but it is critical. 

Filmmaking is a technical craft and so with the technical expertise that you gain, combined with passion, a dash of silliness and dare to tell your own story…the summit is not far.

Satyajit Ray’s films create an authentic atmosphere through their unobtrusive camera work and lighting. While shooting Pather Panchali, he had to use a new cameraman, Subrata Mitra, who was a still photographer and had never handled a movie camera before. That was because all the professionals said that they could not shoot in rain and outdoors with continuously changing light.

He had an intense dislike of “slick” light effects and became devoted to “bounce lighting”, originally developed by his cinematographer - Subrata Mitra. Rejecting the methods of studio lighting then accepted world-over, Ray and Mitra evolved this lighting style which we take for granted today.

Ray described it in an article – “Subrata, my cameraman, has evolved, elaborated and perfected a system of diffused lighting whereby natural daylight can be simulated to a remarkable degree. This results in a photographic style which is truthful, unobtrusive and modern. I have no doubt that for films in the realistic genre, this is a most admirable system.” (Reference:

It was then labelled by convention custodians as silly for an amateur director to have a cinematographer who is actually a still photographer and had never handled a movie camera. In his award-winning movie Aparajito on the making of Pather Panchali by Ray, director Anik Dutta had portrayed this incident and the labels that the world is quick and eager to give. I was a part of the movie as an actor.

Such silliness makes history!


Imagine if Pablo Picasso thought it is really silly to represent the side that a painting can’t depict? Cubism would have never been born. I had the opportunity to observe quite a few works of the master at The Albertina Museum in Vienna. Every canvas was a statement of pure passion and excellence. 

Picasso did not feel that art should copy nature like his predecessors. He felt no obligation to remain tied to the more traditional artistic techniques of perspective, modelling, and foreshortening and felt two-dimensional object. Picasso wanted to emphasize the difference between a painting and reality. Cubism involves different ways of seeing, or perceiving, the world around us. Picasso believed in the concept of relativity – he took into account both his observations and his memories when creating a Cubist image. He felt that we do not see an object from one angle or perspective, but rather from many angles selected by sight and movement. As a result of this belief, Cubism became about how to see an object or figure rather than what the artist was looking at. (Reference: MFA Masterworks)

I loved to paint when I was in school. I had won several awards at national and state levels. But in class nine I had to give it all up as it was eating into my study time. It was time to get serious. And that was it…two decades had passed.

When I decided to take up painting again…in my mind it sounded most silly. I was my biggest roadblock. But I started again. There was a difference though. This time there was a lot of pressure on the “quality of the end product”. Unlike my school days, we have social media now and so I will have to make sure the art is of a certain standard. This creates stress and you eventually convince yourself that it had become an added pressure to the KPIs and KRAs in the office. And so you let your passion die a slow death…or not. This is when I realised silliness has been eradicated from our system due to years of conditioning…it needs to be reinstalled. I should paint only for fun! Let my artwork just be a pile of evidence of my silliness.

So for artists, the biggest challenge is to look beyond the unkind remarks of the ones closest to you first and then those who are not so close. The key lies in keeping your trust, not in the market demand, but in yourself. Since the time you start taking your passion seriously…your silliness begins. People are always quick to find faults, play the role of art experts, and more so career planners. They will be quick to tell you, rather than keep telling you the opportunity cost and all that you could have done if you were not pursuing art …so silly!

Art needs to be for art’s sake. While it sounds silly but believe me, I am dead serious.


On Slowness


Milan Kundera says speed is the form of ecstasy the technical revolution has bestowed on man. As opposed to a motorcyclist, the runner is always present in his body, forever required to think about his blisters, and his exhaustion; when he runs he feels his weight, his age, more conscious than ever of himself and of his time of life. This all changes when man delegates the faculty of speed to a machine: from then on, his own body is outside the process, and he gives over to a speed that is non-corporeal, nonmaterial, pure speed, speed itself, ecstasy speed.

Does speed, like any drug, provide an escape? Does speed help escape from a high-stress job or even relationships? Does it help escape from the societal pressure to cause social envy… The pressure to showcase ‘happiness’?

The act of showcasing happiness has become a trillion-dollar industry…from tourism, hospitality, expensive phones, DSLRs, exorbitant camera lens, makeup and beauty, wardrobe, cars and bikes…and whatnot! Collectively they serve the purpose to showcase a good life on social media.

It looks like the entire global economy is running on the social envy pill…the one that makes others jealous of your success.

French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu defines social capital as “the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance or recognition”. Thus the race to increase social capital … a constant urge to stay on top of the social ladder. A natural fallout is social envy…a bigger car, a higher-paying job, a bigger house, foreign trips, 5-stars…and the list goes on.

Look at the tendency of using superlatives…the one-upmanship…is a never ending story.

A quick story of old Calcutta on the competition between two Zamindars on how expensive their open-top phaetons (horse carriages, modern day convertibles), were. So these two Zamindars started adding horses, one after another as a mark of their power and prosperity. One the adding of the horses rose to an unviable level, one of them replaced the horses with zebras!

And Checkmate. The roads of Calcutta have witnessed zebra-drawn phaetons. Such is the legacy of social envy. 

Horse has always been a symbol of speed …even today…with super luxury car companies like Ferrari or Mustang using it as their logos as a signifier of the need for speed. The irony is that in ancient India, an animal that is majestic, and powerful but slow…the elephant, has always been a signifier of class, prosperity, and luxury.  

It was only the Maharaja, and later the Zamindar, who could afford an elephant. Even maintenance was pretty exorbitant. That is the beauty of slowness…the elegance…the real class of Gajagamini. 

In the day and age of fast food, we have indeed forgotten to savour the lingering richness. Life is on the go and we don’t have time. Now if we don’t have time and we have surfed

over 800 platforms and channels, isn’t speed a necessary and sufficient condition? But why do we need to surf over 800 platforms and channels? Is information overdose knowledge?


Amazon link:


About the author: Prof (Dr) Mahul Brahma is a Professor and Dean at Adamas University, India and a Visiting Research Fellow at Bath Spa University, UK. He has authored seven books including The Mythic Value of Luxury, Quarantined: Love in the time of Corona, and The Luxe Trilogy - Decoding Luxe, Dark Luxe and Luxe Inferno. He is a former Chief Editor and TEDx Speaker. He has won several awards including Sahityakosh Samman in 2022. He is former Head of corporate communication, branding, CSR, and publications for a Tata group company. He is an actor and has recently acted in Anik Dutta’s biopic on Satyajit Ray “Aparajito”. He is a golfer with seven handicap.

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