{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Top Fives

This is almost year-end and I had an interesting idea to put my top fives in movies (Ten will be too much of rating others :)).
Of course, it is a stupid thing to do but someone has to do the 'dirty' job ;).

I am restricting to what ever Indian movies I have seen in 2004. Also I haven't included Mughal-e-Aazam, as it will be too hard a competition for others.

According to me, the liking for a movie is very subjective. I also regard the fact that as a movie-lover we are always ready to take some amount of illogical stuff and when it comes to Indian cinema this amount is not that small. Therefore logic don't guide you here in totality. At times you watch movies to get a fulfilling experience, at times you cry for realism and at other times you believe in a fantasy to be real.

For sometime now, I have tried to judge a movie by the honesty of the effort, and it does give fairly good results.

Coming to this year, I will not say it is bad year because 2003 wasn't great either. There were only countable good movies ( Bhoot, Dhoop, Jhankar beats, 3 Deewarein, Waisa bhi hota hai...) in 2003. The criteria which I followed include:
1. Honesty of effort
2. Minimum Cliché and Minimum melodrama
3. Innovation in theme/presentation
4. Performances
5. Would I like to see it again ?

So here the lists goes on...
Top five 2004 movies
1. Maqbool (Excellent Performances by one and all, interesting story-telling and good direction)
2. Ab tak Chappan (Good Dialogues and real characterization, end is little bit filmy)
3. Chameli (Kareena's performance and creation of a great rainy-night-with-two-strangers ambiance)
4. Naach (A true musical)
5. Hum Tum (Saif's performance)

Those who can't make to the list but are worth a mention here:
1. Morning Raga (For Music, Shabana's sincere work, Perizaad's beauty)
2. Yuva (Good direction and performances)
3. Khakee (Thoroughly entertaining stuff and Aish as Vamp)
4. Dev (Solid performances by Amitabh and Om Puri, and excellent kiss between Kareena and Fardeen)
5. Madhyanam Hathya (Very realistic, cinema which doesn't take any sides)

5 movies I regret, I didn't watch
1. Shwaas (So much hype !)
2. Chokar Bali (Mixed reviews, Heard Raima Sen has done an excellent work)
3. Phir Milenge (Revathy movie, I missed 'Mitr' too)
4. Raincoat (Looks like some sensible cinema)
5. Meenaxi: Tale of three city (They say its poetry on screen)

Now coming to worst 5 and it has all the competition, but fortunately for some I haven't seen many movies this year.
Five Worst movies
1. Vastu Shastra
2. Main hoon na
3. Dhoom
4. Gayab
5. Paap

Also this year was not any big step forward in Indian Cinema. It hasn't stopped its ways of making duplicate movies if one works ( 'Murder' followed by 'Hawas', followed by 'Girlfriend', followed by 'Julie', followed by 'Ab Bas'... and many more to come). If I try to get a trend, the only one which I can think of is item numbers. Every movie should have at least one, by hook or by crook. Another trend is kissing on screen. The only Kiss which conveyed some real passion was seen in 'Dev', otherwise all this kiss-business is so fake. All the Yash-chopras and Karan-johars still keep fixating on family values (which is nothing but dancing, loving and marrying), saccharine romance, deep melodrama and 'sarso ke khet'.

Hope 2005 is better. Hope to see Karan Jahar make a song-less murder mystery and Ram Gopal Verma a family drama.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Dreamy, Scary War :)

This weekend was again a movie weekend, movies that I saw include:
The Dreamers
No Man's Land

Lets go one by one.

The Dreamers. I am still not sure why I saw it, no one recommended it, I was actually searching for 'Last tango in Paris', one of those controversial movies by Bertolucci, But it was out, so I thought why not 'The Dreamers'. I had read a review of this movie, which was OK types. Now the big question is did I like it. I will say 'No' and there are some reasons for it. One of the most obvious reason is, it deviates too much from the point and comes back to the point again when the viewer is not interested in it. The sexual escapades of the twins and their American friend are given more weight age than the unrest of 1968 France. There is whole lot of talk of movies and some interesting quizzes about movies too. But, as I said there are too much distractions to get into the plot.This film interests you when it deals with the youthful idealism, breaking of social fences imposed on them by elders, interesting discussions about movies and when it try to recreate the socio-political structure of an era. But this interest dwindles down as Bertolucci enters the sexual side of characters.

Ju-on (The Curse). I have seen one of the Japanese horror movie sometime back when a series of such movies were shown on HBO, so I thought to see one on DVD at night with some DOLBY effect. But this one failed to interest me, or rather scare me. The story was told as a chapter for each character in the movie, and they were not chronologically shown. I admit that I didn't get lot of story and the horror associated until I watched some of the 'Special Features' in the DVD, but by then it was too late. I was able to get the ending when I saw 'The detailed alternate ending' under delete scenes. May be I am too dumb for spooky stuff.

No Man's Land. I saw this movie for the second time and what a treat to watch it. Its like watching 'Catch-22' on screen, except that the situations are more real. There may be two types of war movies, one which glorify war and its heroes and the ones that expose the sheer futility of war (In India, unfortunately, we have only seen the former type). No Man's land is a powerful anti-war testimonial. Director, Danis Tanovic, served in Bosnian army, side by side shooting footage of war and after completing his military services, went on making 'No Man's Land'. No Man's land acts at several different levels, one is the deep-rooted hatred. second is the role of UN, third is about the role of press, and fourth is about the absurdity of above three. The tension (or rather helplessness) in the movie is interestingly shown as soldier lying on a "bouncing" mine which will explode if he gets up. With all this going on there is first-rate humor in explosively funny dialogues.

Soldier I: Hey, do you know the difference between a pessimist and an optimist?
(The soldier II shrugs as if he couldn't care less.)
Soldier I: A pessimist thinks that things couldn't be worse. An optimist knows that they can be.

Next week I am going to Bangalore so there will be no weekend movie-watching. But I have bought something for the weekdays. This is the recommendation which I got for this movie from one of my movie-buff friends:

"One very beautiful movie that I'll recommend is "In the mood for love" by Wong Kar-Wai. See if you can get it. There isn't much of a narrative here but if you talk of "mood", movies don't come better than this."

Last days...

I have seen not less than 3 last days in my life. The first one was like a whisker which I wasn't even able to experience fully, the second one was a jolt and the third one was a conciliation to the fact that there will be more such days to come in my life. These last days are more related to professional life than to personal. On pure personal fronts I had my share of last days too, but that's a story for any other day.

My last day at school was not of much fuss, as deep inside I am quiet clear that none of friends is going to run far away, and they will be here for at least one more year. I don't even remember the last class as there were more important things to do like to prepare for exams and competitions. The urge to leave my hometown was more than the desire to have fun at school with my friends. As far as fun is considered that ended with class 10th or so. I cannot recall me having real fun after that, because of our so called careers-building in progress. I didn't even go to our farewell, just to revolt against the principal decision to wear uniforms during farewell. We had a get together at a restaurant much latter, when we all have some free time left after boards.

My last day in University of Roorkee was a sudden change in life. Although packing baggage and getting no dues did offer a cover to pretend to be busy, but actually we had no assignments to copy and no class to bunk. Its a sudden break in the pace of life from slow to very slow. I remember writing hundreds of slam book and writing about me, my friends and some abstract questions like 'What is love'. But I am sure that I was totally unaware about what I or my friends were really. I cannot give the right answers even today but I have come to a state where I can prove those false. I had a fuzzy perception that I am going to a 'world of all' from a 'closed community of friends' and no one will ever give a proxy for me. This me-alone-in-the-world idea scared me, amused me at that point.

My last day at Wipro was dull like any other corporate event. I had my circle of friends at Wipro but I was aware that I can meet them, call them, mail them, whenever I want to. The bonds were not weak but were less emotional. After about 3 years of work exp in s/w, I am sure that there will be more such last days to come and I should not mind them.

It is true that any event whose frequency increases with time no longer leave an impact on you. Also, if you fail (or may be ignore) to fathom the intensity of events, they are not going to effect you that deeper.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Operatic Comatose

Last night I watched another masterpiece, my first encounter with the famous director. From the very first scene, where in a stage show, a woman is wandering here and there, as if under spell and a man is rushing to remove obstacles (chairs) from her way, I was pretty sure about the intensity of things to come my way. Its about two men nursing their beloveds, now in coma.

'Talk to her' is a tale of love, devotion, loneliness, longing, miracles and probably hope too. Unlike what I thought initially, it is not grim tale but has its moments of humor and images on screen are rich in style. It shows two men (A nurse (Benigno) and a travel journalist (Marco)), happily devoting their lives to the care of someone (a ballerina (Alicia) and a metador (Lydia )) who may never know about it. As you can see, there is a bit role reversal here, a lady bullfighter and a male nurse.

I am not able to fully understand the relation between Marco and Lydia (second viewing should help) and in the movie it looks truncated at a point but the unusual relationship between Benigno and Alicia is the one which is dealt with operatic beauty. There are no dialogues (almost nil) between the two, there are only monologues between them and we get to know much of their story through flashbacks and the deep discussions between Marco and Benigno.

This movie is about complex, unsaid emotions, the emotions here are moving to an extent that you feel all the sympathy for Benigno, who has raped a girl in coma, for he had said much earlier in the movie that "These last four years have been the richest of my life." and shown all the dedication to his words.

The DVD also contained a trailer of 'All about my mother', which I suppose is the next Almodovar movie I am going to watch.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Movie Week(end)

This was the week, which I can easy call a movie week. Although I saw only two movies but both were rich experiences and worth talking about. This week also qualifies to be movie week, as I bought a DVD player (Philips 642 K). Saturday was full of mood swings. It started with a desire to buy a DVD player, I called one of my friends (specialist in electronic field) and told my desire. We went to buy one at about six in evening. What instantly caught our eye was the one we eventually bought but we wanted a reasonable price (some sort of discount) so we went from shop to shop. We also need to hurry up as I wanted to go 'Cinema Paradiso' to get a membership and rent a DVD (which I thought of in the morning) to see at night. Again membership fee was a bit alarming and yet again when I saw the movie titles there I succumbed to pay it. The drama is not yet over. After having dinner I reached my home to see the movie (needless to say, I was dying to watch it from the morning), but we didn't know about the bigger problem awaiting. Yes, the region thing. My DVD player can play only 'ALL' or '3' regions but the movie I rented was of region '1'. It was very frustuating as it was about 12 at night. We need to wait for tomorrow to resolve it. I thought about the basic Murphy laws of things going wrong. He went and I started watching 'Mission Impossible', just to test my DVD player. I made up mind to get an exchange for my DVD player to something that gives multi-region support. But at 1:30 am , my friend called up to tell that he has found a hack over net to convert it to multi-region. To my surprise, it worked fine and at about 2:00 am, I started watching what I wanted to.

Its a movie by Darren Aronofsky. Its a movie with dynamite performances. Its the movie about addiction of any kind ("Its not only about drug addiction", as Aronofsky puts in an interview). Its a movie which is rich in style and substance, that stays with you long after the brilliantly hard-to-take finale is over. Yes, it is 'Requiem for a Dream'. Its a story about dreams of foursome and journey into 'their' addictions and a grand climax of dreams, told in three seasons Summer, Fall and Winter. Spring never came or it was before Summer, which was never shown on screen. This motion picture becomes harder to take as it moves, it disturbs you to the core, it never-ever has a preachy or pretty tone, it uses hiphop montages to show the effect of addiction and to connect different stories. As you might have heard before too, the last fifteen minutes are hardest to take which may seen as a horrifyingly painful 'Requiem'. About at 4:00 am, I finished the movie. Some might say its 'Nightmare' but that doesn't disqualify it from being a 'Dream'.

The second movie which I saw was at 'Hyderabad Film Club', was pole apart from what I saw on Saturday. Garde a Vue (Police Custody) may not be an exceptionally brilliant movie, when it comes to style and plot, but it excels where few can make it. Its an elegantly restraint cinema. There are no show off, no big sets. Solid performances and thrill sheerly based on dialogues. Its about a a police investigation (rather interrogation) of murder and rape of two 8 year old girls, where the a prime witness becomes prime suspect. The movie is confined to a police station, and mostly to one interrogation room. And there is almost a spark like chemistry between the Inspector and Prime suspect and there exchanges range from the murder, to failed marriages, to divorces, to their general dislike about each other. It too makes a point on police methodology during investigation. Though the prime suspect was not treated badly (as one would expect in India), because he was an influential person, but there was always pressure on him to confess the crime. There was a little 'twist in the tale' at the end but in my opinion what stands out in this movie are strong performances, sheer elegance and intelligent dialouges.

I wish to see more such movies in days to come and I have a huge wish-list.

Friday, December 17, 2004


One of my friends (unfortunately, whose opinion counts) told me that my blog looks like a self-help book, I am so shattered, rather scared. I feel like someone has told me that you behave like Shahrukh Khan and your life is a farce as 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gum' and what not. Looks that you are caught by viral fever when you always preferred dying. I am so scared to write anything. Life slaps you in such unexpected ways.

As you might take it, it's a really serious issue. I do think that I have not crossed 'the thin line' but I am not sure of this too.

Only possibility of escape is that he himself doesn't know what self-help means, as the wise men say when there is benefit of doubt, take the benefit, give the doubt... or as Mr. Calvin says, when in doubt, deny all terms and conditions.

I am somewhat confused, can someone explain me what selp-help means but please leave the 'task' to decide whether my blog belong to that genre to me. I can't take more abuses.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Pain is a reflection of our emotions when inflicted with some form of discomfort. Its is a difficult feeling, but at the same time very vital. Pain is normal and even natural. Its purpose to to inform us and we need to learn from it. Also without it we will not be able 'really' appreciate the feeling of pleasure. How much we want to run away from pain but in any form of reality, it is sure to exist. Physical pain is rather easy to bear as we have our reasoning intact, and this type of pain is simple to understand, it pains because it’s bleeding. Emotional pain is more difficult to cope with as it directly affects our ability to think objectively. Body easily surrenders to such pain. Sometimes physical pains can be pleasurable, a classic example is childbirth. But emotional pain is almost always painful, but we cannot say it’s harmful. Pain leave deep imprints on you, they live with you, they change you. Even if we think of physical pain, the wounds heal with time, but the emotional trauma attached to it haunts us long after the physical scars are gone.

Pain becomes far more dangerous when we are not able to express it; this soundless pain is a slow and painful killer. There may be many reasons why we cannot express it, one is fear, other may be we are not sure whether to express it or not and if yes, how? One of age old recipe to abase the effect of pain is to express it. But it is not of much help, at least in the latter case. One more cure, which can be implemented, is to find the cause of pain and try to kill it. This works fine for physical pain when we can think objectively, but in case of emotional pain, things are not that straight. Other cure is to take some help from others. Here also, help means correct help, not any help. Now how to find whether it is a correct help or not. This again is dependent on some rational thinking. Probably, a help will qualify to be a correct help if it helps the person to solve the problem, not solves the problem for him/her, also it should not be any imposed help, and it should not solve by obscuring the problem and by giving some comfortable, yet false solution. These types of fake-helps will defeat the purpose of the pain inflicted.

There may be many different theories on why we experience pain. Some of the pains are self-inflicted, and others are attributed to forces not under our control. As far as, self inflicted pains are concerned they are more complex in nature and more painful to bear. Pain coming from external source is easier to bear because we never own the cause, so it’s easy to disown the result too. But in case of external pain sometimes the frustration that we are not able to change the factors that effects us give us more pain than the actual case. In that case too, the internal pain is still more difficult to bear, because the frustration not to control oneself is more hurtful.

The cause of pain range from a direct discomfort to us to a remote discomfort to someone else (this ' someone else' can be a loved one or any stranger from any geography), from wrong done to you to the wrong done by you and the guilt associated, from an external flush of emotions to an internal civil war. Seems like we are going through a complex mixture of pains at any point in time. Some people/philosophies also say that our associations with external world result in more pain. This can be true but what can be done with the internal pain and is it fine to run away from the world because it is painful to be with it. Sometimes, this running itself results in internal pain.

Also, pain is very personal experience. Pain is conceived and experienced differently by everyone. It’s mainly because we react to different situations differently. Since it is such a personal thing, people (other than who is experiencing it) tend not to understand it fully and hence cannot provide the correct help.

When it is even difficult to understand a pain that you experience, its seems childish to write about it in general. But there can be a general consensus on some of things like pain hurts, its quiet normal/natural/essential and there is no escaping it.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Listen this...

I am currently listening to a new Punjaabi album, 'Rabbi'. It is sung/composed/written by Rabbi Shergill. Its is really nice stuff. Almost all the songs are good in terms of lyrics and music, which is so rare these days. Flooded by the similar sounding Punjabi pops, it is a welcome respite. It do break into the bhangra beats, but very decently and there are always good lyrics and music to back it.

Here, you can hear 'Baba Bulle Shahs' Sufiana 'Bulle ki jana' and an excellent 'Heer'. 'Ishtihar' is also good but probably it sounded bit slow to me, but the lyrics are just too good to make for the pace (you can feel when you hear 'Sonni fabbat'). Apart from Bulla ki Jana (Baba Bulle Shah), 'Heer'(Varis Shah) and Ishtihar (Shiv Batalavi), all the lyrics are by Rabbi Shergill, no less beautiful than the others.

And there are more to this album, you have 'Tere Bin' and 'Ajj Nachhna', very hummable. But one of the best songs is the last song called 'Jugni'.

Teri bin sanu sohnia, koi hor nahio labhna,
Jo Dave ruh ko sakoon, chukke jo nakhra mera

Those who understand Punjabi, its a treat to listen this album, for those who donot understand the language, there is so much else to hear and feel and there is an illustrative inlay card. For I fall someway in between and have a repo of listening to Tamil and Malayalam songs, I felt at home.

Side by side, I am listening to Mughal-E-Azam, some of the songs which didn't appear in its colored-avatar are not to be missed. They include 'Aye Ishq yeh sab Duniyawale' and 'Humme Kash tumse Mohabbat'. Again lyrics are treat to ears.

Aye Ishq, yeh sab duniyawaale,
bekaar ki baatein karte hain
Payal ke gamoon ka ilm nahin,
jhankaar ki baatein karte hain

Mr. Sameer, are you listening ?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

History and you

How does history effect you ? Is history (as you know it) the 'truth' ?. Can we somehow find out the 'true history', Can past be verified ? If we are never sure about the history, what is the use of referring to something that itself is debatable ? Does this vagueness or uncertainty about history make it more interesting, more thought provoking ... or more subjective and illusory. Certainly, fuzziness of the subject matter give it several dimensions but there are always risks of mis-interpretation (based on ignorance) and mal-interpretation (based on bias and prejudice). So lets start with what we mean by history, history is an interpretation of the past in present for the future based on facts.

Now coming to the truth in history. Lets see it this way, if truth is to be truth, truth must be absolute, independent of any point of view. Keeping this in mind, does history concur to the any levels of truth, and if it doesn't, how can it effect us. But then, does only truth (or the absolute things) effect us. Also this means that 'Jaliawaala bagh massacre' or 'Boston tea party' or 'a 1978 movie release in Europe' don't effect me, as I donot know any truth about them. Here emerge theories like 'Present is everything' and 'Live for Now' but they look baseless and stupid to me (One of such theory can argue that everything is present: present-gone (past), present-still-to-come (future) and momentary flash that is nothing but 'now'..., but these type of arguments try to overemphasize the importance of 'Present').

The point here is not that 'your' past effects you or not (It definitely does) but does the past other than yours have any influence on you. Yes it will, but may be not in a way as you expect probably because you do not know about the history and its interpretation (an exercise to find the truth).

Sometimes I feel that interpretation of history is our duty simply because it effects us (its a big statement, but I do feel it many-a-times). But the problem here is the accumulation of facts and reaching on something objective. Yes, there are lose ends, broken links and lots of interpolations required, but a sincere effort will try to do away with any bias or any reinterpretation on the basis our ever changing prejudices. I am not sure we will ever touch the line of truth (what really happened) but will definitely tend closer to it.