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

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Film Year !

Without doubt, this was the film-year for me, although I was not able to see as much films as I intended to. My target was an astounding 200 movies this year, but I finished somewhere around 170 movies. But, I am more than satisfied and the quality of films was nothing short than amazing. I covered more or less all the directors that I wanted to watch and I will cover others (Werner Herzog, Douglous Sirk, Roberto Rossellini, Alain Resnais, Fritz lang, Mikio Naruse) shortly. Now I want to take on a much more difficult task, to compile a list of ten best movies, I saw this year. Also I will like to thank my friend Alok for guiding me in my movie choices. This type of guidance is very essential when you are just starting out.

This list will also be the list of my all-time favorite films as I came in touch of most of the excellent cinema this year only. One more thing, these types of lists are very dynamic, films keep falling off the list and some new ones push hard to secure a place, but I feel quite sure that most of the films in this list have a very stable place and some are extremely difficult to move. Lastly, as a usual customary, I am taking only one film per director. Here the list goes.

10. In the Mood for Love

In the Mood for love is a masterpiece in several ways. First and foremost, it creates a mood which only few films can aspire for and probably a fewer can even attain. Secondly, it touches the most dear theme of Wong Kar-wai, love-longing-and-lingering pain, in a way that is visually/thematically opposite of his other fast-paced films like Chungking Express and Fallen Angels. While Chunking express shakes on the music of California dreamin', In the Mood for Love just amorously sighs at every passing musical note. Thirdly, In the Mood for Love is an extremely big achievement when we talk of style in movies, and this style is so unique that even Kar-wai will flinch with a thought of copying it. This is one of those films that I would like to watch on big screen and allow myself to flow into that mood all over again.

9. The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

I am not putting this film here because there should be one by Fassbinder, there are other profound reasons for that. Bitter Tears breaks clichés while its characters speaks them. While the characters fake love, loyalty and friendship, each and every nobler emotion is let bare in all its harrowing nakedness and the insult inflicted to these emotions by the people who practice them and invariably use (or misuse) them. Stylistically this film is a marvel of film making, set in a claustrophobic apartment of a fashion designer, Fassbinder looks for a made-up world in every nook and corner, revealing the ugliness in all its beauty.

8. Naked Lunch

Cronenberg's Naked Lunch is a meditation on insanity we live in and live by. We need it and at the same time we abhor it. Naked Lunch struck the right note when it went over my head and started questioning my rationality. While the characters are drawn from one mystery to other, and put in 'bizarrest' of situations and commit same horrible mistakes again to get into unending cycles, at a point the film seemed to suggest that sanity is overrated, human rationality is cannot cope with its irrationality when put in such situations. In a true Cronenbergian style, without going over the top, the film invites you to a horrible world, which is probably the world we live in.

7. A Taste of Cherry

Earlier I was fan of Abbas Kiarostami's Close-up, which is an excellent movie, but after seeing A Taste of Cherry, and after contemplation of both the movies, I got hooked up to the later more. It might be the theme of the movie that drew me closer to it. A Taste of Cherry talks about life and death, but unlike a Bergman film, here all the philosophy comes out quite naturally though common man uttering the words of wisdom. As always, Kiarostami reduces all the style and acting tricks, the films focuses on a man's journey to search for a helping hand to put some soil on his grave. His interactions with people from different strata of society, although don't reveal much about the man in question but they give profound insights on how people view life and death and that's where it gets a big nod from me.

6. Winter Light

When we think of a filmmaker busy with god, arguing about his absence and the suffering of people due to that, we picture Ingmar Bergman instantly. Bergman, who had a strict religious upbringing, became more skeptical about god as he grew up. Winter Light, thus seems to be his story of struggle with god and faith. This film, perhaps the best outcome of Bergman's tussle with god, almost perfectly explores the man-god relationship. It lacks the sweet optimism of Wild Strawberries, the grand set up of The Seventh Seal, the easy solution (Love is God and God is Love) of otherwise brilliant Through a Glass Darkly or the modernism of Persona, but Winter Light stands on its own where its characters look at each other with desperation and help and Bergman scrutinizes them. According to Bergman, his best, Winter Light, is masterfully crafted film with a stark black and white set up which brings out coldness of emotional isolation and distances between his characters and god.

5. Red

The final film by the Polish master contains all the thematic and stylistic flourishes he is known for, and works wonders as a final chapter. When I talk of optimism and goodness and how they both are essential to existence, I think of Red. Red talks about optimism in a very dark way, here optimistic outcomes are just a matter of probability, a coincidence, your goodness probably don't play a role in you being happy. But it may play a role in you being content. So its not that you can expect that things will go right if you are, but if you are good, you might feel satisfied that things probably will not go wrong because of you. Actually its complex to determine the reason for we being good and helping but what Kieslowski wants to say is that this complexity of life should not deter us from being good and helping to others. This is a theme which can fall in the mushy category by even a single mistake, but Kieslowski deftly brings the point of human connectedness and life's unexpectedness so tangentially that we see a rather cliched ending with awe and wonder.

4. Blue Velvet

Blue Velvet kicked out my long-time favorite movie, American Beauty off the list. Though based on similar themes, Blue velvet explores the subject matter much more deftly and darkly where evil lurks in everything which is possibly harmless and the Lynch-patented red curtains swing sonorously to the sound of Blue velvet, creating a hysterical atmosphere where anything dark is possible. All this surrealistic set up bring out the vast realm of unknown and the hidden and break apart the mush and goodness that the films shows in its fairy tale starting and the ending. Blue Velvet creates a everyday mystery of moral rot which is as shocking as it can get.

3. Nights of Cabiria

Fellini's direction, Masina's acting and a sublime climax makes Nights of Cabiria a ultimate experience for any cinephile. It was one of the films that takes you to character and hold you here and in the end makes you smile through tears as the character do. In a way Nights of Cabiria brings together two of Felini's other masterpieces together, it looks to be set up in the world near that of La Dolce Vita's with Cabiria in foreground, who might be thought of as the lost elder sister of La Strada's Gelsomina. This films has a very special place for me for some unexplainable reasons, it has that magic that penetrates the soul.

2. Breaking the Waves

A deeply depressing fairy tale is what it is, it shakes your faith and bends your idea of love and sacrifice to the limit that even seem illogical. Although I watched Breaking the Waves long time back, I only realized how great a film it is quite later when I saw its mastery of cold dissection of idea of love, romance, sacrifice and faith that the viewer is almost baffled in the end whether Lars von Trier is for or against these concepts. The last scene of bell ringing irritated me first since it bought a element of unknown spirituality in the film, but later I released the vast idea of that scene, which can be understood the either way, to believe in cause for which Bess sacrificed her life or just a mockery of the idea of eternal romance by a mortal. Breaking the waves, by no means is an easy watch and not particularly entertaining but everything is paid off when this masterpiece provide you transcendent moments and undiluted food for thought that you can chew long after last reels have rolled off.

1. Tokyo Story

Ozu's Tokyo story is the best film I watched this year, and I am quite sure it will remain so in years to come. I have watched Tokyo story five times this year and every time I watched it I found it deeply profound with all emotions understated and always pointing to the universal truth in the simplest of ways. At times this films looks like a preservation of past moments without the overabundance of sentimentality, at times it directs to the fact that everything is bound to change and at other times it shows the vicious cycle in which we are locked in. Every time we come close to Tokyo story we see the mastery of simple compositions where even the smallest of details is exactly right, generation break down with Ozu's extreme compassion to all his characters and small thoughtful moments, all done without any pretense or preaching. At this point I would like to go to the extreme to say that if you want to watch only one film in your lifetime, let it be Tokyo Story, others will surely follow.

Low on Reading !

This is a dumb post and I already feel stupid in doing so, but I will do it for the sake of showing to myself that if there is need for any new year resolution, it has to be reading more books. Here is a list of literature, I read in 2005.

1) Metamorphosis by Kafka (Re-Read)
2) In the Penal Colony by Kafka
3) A Hunger Artist by Kafka
4) Crime and Punishment by Dostoevski (Re-Read)
5) Ecce Homo by Friedrich Nietzsche
6) The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy
7) Animal Farm by George Orwell
8) Short stories by Saki

This is all I read in 365 days and I feel sorry for myself.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

How to write a Self-help book.

I recently read some self-help books just to find out why people everywhere are happily becoming slaves to them. Here I would like to find out how self-help gurus do the job of making people numb to facilitate injection of self-help gyan into their veins. Not that it is a difficult job to create self-help but if there exists any method of breaking the self-help code, people can just find out that it is a easy assembly of distorted common sense that they could generate by themselves. By the end of this chapter you should be able to write one for yourself :)

There are some basic pillars on which any self-help is based. One of the pillars is to attack the rationality or to attack on the ability to think, because the manipulator always knows that if there is rationality left, he can't succeed in selling the shit. For this to be more effective, we need to bring a factor of unknown, black-box-tried-and-tested experience. This is like to support your argument that god is there by saying that you have met him, although no one has seen you both together. Ok, there is nothing wrong that you believe god because you say (true or false) that you had breakfast with him the other day. The problem comes when the manipulator generalize it to say believe in god because HE has met him. There is sure a broken link but since anything said with conviction in self help books require one more thing namely faith or power (or weakness) of believing, which is invariably baseless, makes most of the self-help logic work. Here comes extrapolation of rendezvous with god. There can be two logic here. I met god so I believe in god, or I believed in God so I met him. The second one is likely to be used by a successful manipulator because it's least susceptible to any checks and here faith comes priori. The first one will be considered a skeptic's approach and the concerned person will be given doses of faith till he becomes numb to come to the second logic or he will be deemed worthy of lacking in faith or humanity or whatever. So the point here is a manipulator proves using solid assumptions, here result come first and it can be easily explained with minor manipulations.

Since we are on this my-experience you-follow thing, there are interesting bits to observe. Some of the manipulators claim things which can't be verified like living in Himalayas or going for a long spiritual journey. The key is to quote the most unverifiable and the most mysterious experiences one can possibly have or just think of. This experience domain also involves using experience of others (preferably dead or mythological characters) and interpret them with your own dead logic which is indeed based on weak astrology or Feng shui or numerology or just faith. Now when you find Aristotle or Einstein being quoted by the manipulator, take a deep breath and cling to your own faith :)

A related thing is cause and effect, which can be used very effectively by a manipulator. For this we can take a random example. "A hungry child happily ate a loaf of bread". Now coming to self help domain, we can play with cause and effect with almost infinite possibilities. This simple sentence will be twisted as follows "If you give a loaf of bread to a child who is hungry from two days, it makes him happy and that positive energy in turn makes you happy and helps you to shine in the world of stress and competition". Effectually I can fight stress by a loaf of bread. Now this can be further extrapolated with special effects of faith. This becomes "If you believe that giving a loaf of bread to a crying homeless child who is hungry for several days , makes the child happy, and that happiness in turn will radiate back to make you happy and content then this belief with lead you to bear any stress and competition in the world and will eventually make you successful". See this is even better as now we don't spare a loaf of bread, belief and faith can do wonders.

Since all this need to be dumped to people, an able manipulator will direct it to the masses. For doing so, try to find out what people want, they want instant relief from the problems they are facing or if they are not facing any tangible problem the poor souls just want to be happy or happier in any given scenario. Self help can be for two different segments, one who feel they are ill and the one who are potential patients. Lets cover only potential patient here, not only its more interesting, but its takes care of the currently ill people also. Now try to fabricate a recipe to make people happy. For this a manipulator will make a stereotype and break it by making another stereotype which he will vehemently claim, is better suited for happiness based on some statistics, or research or personal experience or just faith. First make people believe that the problem is universal so that they can take any general remedy. It is even better to let the people believe that if they don't think about the problem, it will die its natural death. By now, in 50% cases problem will not even exist, it must have taken form of some other problem or left to die in darkness, for those people who are too dumb to still look for some solution, give them a dumber solution, like think positive, inhale positive energy, keep positive attitude, choose the right person and do the right thing and while doing all this don't forget to believe in yourself and follow your dreams and be happy till the there is love and insatiable positive energy floating in this universe.

Now we know how problems are fabricated and all-purpose answers are assigned to them. Here comes the part which is automatic, implementation of the solution. The best solution in self help is one which need not be implemented, just reading it should do. Lets see some classic implemented solutions. You must have seen people uttering such lines on the back pages of the best selling self-help books. "After reading this book, I felt that there is so much happiness in this world, we just have to reach out for it" or "This inspirational tour-de-force brilliantly manages to capture the truth of life and the basics of happiness" or "I found real spiritual pleasure in reading this enlightened discourse which is recommended to every one who want to know the little secrets of success" or 'Upon Reading this book I realized all the hidden potential within me and a deep feeling that refuse to be a victim". I can go on and on. The crux here to make the recipes feel-good two-minute cheesy tricks and their implementation just another way of restating the problem itself, which the crazy-to-be-happy-people will happily play on themselves.

You must have got it by now, self help starts with a premise that every problem has a solution. Then they go to the extreme to say that there are some generic solutions. But the worst part of all this crap is it stops us from thinking for ourselves and acting according to it. We start to work on some shitty so-called tried and tested formulae, and stop our top floor processing just for day-dreams of happiness and comfort. A manipulator is a guy who can make fortune out of mediocrity and we let him do that, trying to climb ladders of success by feeling good, trying to work out a relationship with fitting in the self help guru proclaimed stereotypes or by using Feng Shui scented paper roses, or trying to fight world hunger by having a balanced diet. The next time you catch hold of a self-help book, tear every even numbered page, it will make the same stupid sense as it made before. You can use these torn pages to clean racks to stack some real books.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

While my TV gently weeps...

I haven't posted for quite some time mainly because I have nothing to post, although I may give many tangible reasons such as I was on leave and went to my hometown or I was not feeling well. Anyway, in this duration I watched lots of television, and I must say that the idiot box has came a long long way. Earlier TV was just a bitter-sweet tiny bitch but now, in its new incarnation, is a compelling whore, who is master of all those tricks for which she is eternally known for. TV now can get on your nerves, more often than before, and is trying 'real' hard to capture 'real' people in 'reality' shows and every news channels have their 'self generated' news, trying to find so-called truth. Gone are the days when news was about happenings and events, now its about anything that you can fabricate. News and entertainment are so mixed together that sometimes I am baffled whether to believe or just get amused. The systematic injection of self-help is also put into TV veins where all the winner invariably proclaim that they believed in themselves and preach the same too. They also give wet-eye-oscar-speeches thanking their whole family tree, one of them has gone far enough to thank her unborn child, now that's pretty far-sighted.

Now there is a new category of people in TV, they are the reality show judges and game show hosts. They may not be perfect but they all thrive for perfection and scold and shout at each other and the poor participants and that's where my sadistic instincts kicks in and I get hooked to their gross exchanges. The time is near when we will have awards for 'Most Fierce Judge' and 'Most Emotional Host'. The other day I was seeing some of the judges sobbing when some participants where thrown out of the show, that reminded me of the fact that unless until every one in the show and those who are watching the show have not dropped a tear or two, the purpose is not fulfilled. These funny weeping shots are now part and parcel of any TV channel, turn on the TV and it will start weeping in all its capacity. Either the participants who lost will cry or those who win will and there are some special purpose people on the show who will weep every time someone else in the world will laugh, just to keep the emotional balance intact. They are usually kept as a contingency plan, but they seem to work full-time. If these tears are not able to satiate the producers and viewers some of the game show hosts will try their best to tickle the tear glands and the directors will simultaneously pass orders to play the saddest of the music of the world to indicate the participants that time has come to show their emotional talent. Tears are the ultimate criteria of the reality we witness in our bedrooms. Sometimes I see the full show without a tear and I notice a fall in the TRP ratings the next day. Gone are the days of Saas and Bahu, they look pretty harmless and meek now. Shortly those serials will be named classics, I already feel so.

As the tears go by, we see how easily we are manipulated whenever possible by any Tom Dick and Harry and how happily (of course with tears) we do so. To do so, now every show has the 'junta' deciding who will be the winner apart from the sore judges. We the people, at last, have the right to vote and decide. One of my relatives has a huge SMS bill and she believes that she has played a major part in the crowning the Indian Idol, now she is busy buying CDs of the same, I think she was relatively harmless in the past when she used to record her favorite serials to watch them till eternity. I don't know where all this will end, if at all. Last week I found a dubbed Japanese show on Pogo, called Takeshi's Castle where people are hit hard but they never weep or cry, I think I will stick to it. You know now what I meant when I said I have nothing to post.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Tarkovsky on Art

Before defining art or any concept, we must answer for the broader question, what is the meaning of man's life on earth? May be we have to enhance ourselves spritually. If our life tends to be a spritual enrichment then art is a means to get there. This of course in accordance with my definition of life. Art should help man in this process. Some say art helps man to know the world like any other intellectual activity. I don't believe in the possibility of knowing. I am almost an agnostic. Knowledge distracts us from the main purpose of life. The more we know, the less we know. Getting deeper, our horizon becomes narrower. Art enriches man's own spiritual capacities and he can then raise above himself to use what we call "free-will".

Monday, November 21, 2005

Grace of Bresson.

After reading about Robert Bresson for a week, I finally had the first taste of him in The Diary of a Country Priest. Quiet unexpectedly and quiet effortlessly (if I may say so), I was deeply moved by the plight of a Priest subjected to intolerable hostility and humiliation, and his spiritual journey to gain some grace, which in my opinion he ultimately finds and so does the film. The early parts of the movie reminded me of Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov, his uneasiness, weak health and more importantly his solitude. Also the young Priest's life seemed to give some pointers to the early life of Pastor in Bergman's Winter light and Bergman, for sure, was inspired by this film a lot. The acting is top-class, especially of the young priest (played by Claude Laydu) and how in a small happy scene, he transforms into a young-at-heart soul, is both delightful and heart-breaking. There is one episode which can be called the marvel of film making, the dialogue between the countess and the priest about faith, god, love and peace.

There are plenty of things to talk about in this film, like lighting, subtle sound effects, scene cutting (this reminds me of Ozu, where lot of action happens offscreen) and Bresson's way of dealing with actors (like he wanted only a devout believer for the role of the Priest and his way of talking to the actor on telephone before going for a screen test because for Bresson sound is more honest, intelligent than deceiving plain images), which I save for a latter day. Bresson called himself an agnostic, here takes a very universal stand on faith, giving equally powerful contentions for either side in this restraint visual painting, and this is at this moment, Bresson found grace as a cinematic master in my eyes.

In a particularly touching scene, where distressed priest go to see the dead countess and give his last blessings of peace, he responds, "How can one give something that one doesn't have, miracle of an empty hand".

Friday, November 18, 2005

Bressonian Donkeys

It looks like actors and directors, although working for a common goal to make a good film, have different ways to meet their ends. An able director wants to direct an actor in the way he likes, whether or not s/he is aware of what he is doing and an able actor wants to know what he is doing so that he can perform it to the fullest. Its not the question who should succumb to whom in this tussle of knowing, not knowing and acting, not acting, but its very interesting to look from the director's and actor's point of views on that, especially directors'. Acting sometimes reminds me of playback singing, where the singer is really on the mercy of music director, lyricist and the sound engineer. Some of directors go by some must-have qualities for their actors as Fellini once famously said, For me a clownesque talent in an actor is the most precious gift s/he can have, others don't go by any particular talent.

Sometimes all this gives us reasons why some of the directors have a chamber of actors with whom they want to work with, looks like they have made peace in the conflicting requirements or why some of the directors go for non-actors, freshers, just not to let the actor's acting skills and some acquired persona to meddle with their own vision or why for some directors actors are like props which just fill the frame as a building or even light, or why some directors go for suffocating close-ups of the talented actors or why acting is not always about acting, its is at times about not acting too.

Maggie Cheung, one of the stars of Wong kar-wai films, seemed baffled by the way director works and how she is given no knowledge of what she should be. In the special features of In Mood for Love's DVD, in a small press interview with lead pair of the movie, Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung, Maggie seemed quiet unhappy by the way Kar-wai was working and in the way Kar-wai eluded any questions that Cheung asked about her character, though in public, she tried to show all the respect for the director's vision and craftsmanship. On the other hand Tony Lueng seemed ok with Kar-wai unexplained ways probably because he has worked on many films with the director but Maggie Cheung was working after a gap of 10 years, previously they worked together in Days of Being Wild, when both the director and the actor were almost new. Here is an excerpt from an interview where Maggie explains the funny way Kar-wai worked.

Q:How was Wong Kar-wai while making the movie?

MC:Sometimes he has to switch the camera to slow motion but we don't even know it because the camera is far away and we don't even hear the machines going. He will see a shot and then suddenly he will picture it as a slow motion shot and he'll just say, let's try one of those, and then he'll just do it, without us even knowing.

If you have seen Bowfinger, apparently it seems like War-kai is doing the same, but he is surely trying to achieve much more than that.

Also there are cases where actors (even reviewers) complained after seeing the movie that they (actors) have been 'used'. One particular example is The Last tango in Paris, where Maria Schneider, after seeing the film, told that she has been raped, and I think similar comments are made by Marlon Brando too. And what about Roger Ebert's furious uproar after watching Blue Velvet and his well-known sympathy for lovely Isabella Rossellini . Here is what Maria Schneider has to say.

MS: When I read Last Tango In Paris, I didn't see anything that worried me. I was 20. I didn't want to be a star, much less a scandalous actress - simply to be in cinema. Later, I realized I'd been completely manipulated by Bertolucci and Brando.

On the other hand some directors will like an actor to act as gently, as naturally and at times at remotely as possible. Here what Antonioni has to say about acting.

Michaelangelo Antonioni: The film actor need not understand but simply be. One might reason that in order to be it is necessary to understand. That's not so. If it were, then the most intelligent actors will be the best actors. Reality often indicate the opposite...His reactions on the character he is playing, which according to the popular theory should bring him closer to the exact characterization, end up by thwarting his efforts and depriving him of naturalness. The film actor should arrive for shooting in the state of virginity. The more intuitive his work the more spontaneous it will be.

Some of the directors altered the whole concept of acting, by using non-actors. Robert Bresson used people from street who don't bring any acting baggage with them and calling them 'models'. His views on acting are very novel and very extreme.

Robert Bresson: The actor learning his part presupposes a 'self' known in advance - which does not exist.

Bresson has gone to an extreme to take a donkey in the lead of his well known masterpiece Au hasard Balthazar.

There will is a tussle to act by knowing the part and to be the part by not knowing it and actors and directors taking their stands somewhere on this line-- the closer, the better. With all this, it seems I have a soft corner for the Bressonian Donkeys, which I do and all this vaguely reminds me of a scene in The Seventh Seal, where in response to Death coming for him, an actor responds, Is there no exemption for actors?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Buñuel on love.

I saw this book called An Unspeakable Betrayal: Selected Writings of Luis Buñuel from Google print.

Here is this interview of Luis Buñuel under the heading Surrealist Writings in the book, aptly titled On Love.

I. What sort of hopes do you place in love?
L.B.: If I am in love, all Hopes. If not, none.

II. How do you view the transition from the idea of love to the fact of being in love? Willingly or otherwise would you sacrifice your freedom to love? Have you ever done so? Would you consent, if you felt it necessary in order to be worthy of love, to sacrifice a cause that up to that point have considered yourself bound to defend? Would you agree not to become what you might have been, if at the price you could fully savor the certainty of love? How would you judge a man who would go so far as to betray his convictions to please the woman he loves? Can such a pledge be asked of him and obtained?


1) For me nothing exists for the fact of being in love.
2) I would gladly sacrifice my freedom for love. I have already done so.
3) I would sacrifice a cause for the sake of love. But the remains to be seen in the moment.
4) Yes.
5) I would judge him favorably. But nevertheless, I would ask this man not to betray his convictions. I would even go so far as to insist on it.

III. Would you acknowledge the right to deprive yourself for a time of the presence of the person you love, knowing how exhilarating absence can be for love, yet aware of the mediocrity of such a strategy?
L.B.: I would not like to separate myself from the loved one. At any cost.

IV. Do you believe in the victory of admirable love over sordid life, or that of sordid life over admirable love.
L.B.: I don't know.

Monday, November 07, 2005


A mirror shone several rays,
The beautiful, ugly and the dead.
Reflections of life onto its past,
Silent though, nothing left unsaid.

Sweet smell of far off fields,
Wet nostalgia of yesterdays.
Minced with sickening warmth,
Affectionately flaming all todays.

Flaring love for forgotten yore,
Longing for a far winter sun.
Dangers of lighting new fires,
And fears of having all undone.

Flawless arms around my neck,
Told to stay by longer and rest.
Dying dreams of late mornings pleaded,
For the lost quest to rest in the nest.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Nirmal Verma

Noted Hindi Writer, Nirmal Verma, passed away on late tuesday night. I have read some of his short stories at my school-time from my Nana's library because I got to know of something called Nayi Kahani from my Hindi Teacher. I don't even remember how I felt then but today when I read about him, his writings and some passages from his short stories and novels, I understood why his works broke new grounds in Hindi Literature.

Here are some excepts from his famous works for those who are as ignorant as I was.

Antim Aranye

.....Jab kuch log kehte hain ki woh ek din ke baad doosre din mein rehte hain, us samay unka matlab ye hi hota hai, ki woh ek hi din mein rehte hain, jo chalta rehta hai. Jab main chota tha, tab ek baar maine apni garmi ki chuttiyaan ek chote se kasbaati station mein gujaari thi. Vahah mere chacha station master the. Main dekha karta tha ki rail ke dibbe jo puraane ho jaate the, unhe ek choti line par kada kar diya jata tha. Rail gadiyaan aati aur unhe chodd kar dhardarati hui aage badh jaati. Un khaali dibboon mein hum luka-chippi ka khel khelte the. Kabhi kabhi vahah hume anokhi cheeje mil jaati. Kissi aadmi ka muffler, seat ke neeche dubka kissi ladki ka sandal, ek baar to mujhe ek musafir ki phati puraani notebook bhi mili thi, jis mein paanch rupiye ka cheekat note daba tha, par sabse vismayekaari smrite syam us rail ke dibbe ki thi jo rail ki patri par khada hua bhi kahin nahin jata tha.

Raat ka reporter
.....Us raat woh theek se nahin so saka. Darwaaze par thoda sa bhi khatka hota to woh chonk jata. Jeene ka darwaja kholkar woh bahar jhankta, to saari gali sunsaan dikhaayi deti. Sirf kahi door andhere mein chowkidaar ki lathi ki
thak-thak sunayi deti, woh laut aata, apne kamre main aane se pehle ek baar maa ke kamre mein jhaank leta. Gulmul si chadar oodh kar farsh par leti thi, sirhaane ke paas surahi aur peeche sandook jo unki kissi puraani peeli saari mein dhake the. Maa ne un sandookoon ko chippa kar ek ooche shinghasan mein badal diya tha. Shinghasan par unke thakurji viraajmaan hote the, jo nirantar us pariwaar ki oonc-neech dekhte aa rahe the. Kintu ab unki chutti door nahin thi. Ab thakurji kafi aashwasth dekhayi dete the, kyunki unhe maaloom tha ki yeh antim peedhi hai, iske aake kuch nahin dekhna padega. Rishi apne kamre mein laut aata aur bina batti jalaye apne bistar pe baith jaata. Lait jaane ki himmat nahin hoti, makaan ke khaali kounoon se aati har aawaaj ek andesha jaan padti thi. Use puraane note, reports, lekh aur patr itne khatarnaak nahin jaan padte the, jitne woh bedh jo har puraane makaan mein ekkathha ho jaate hain, hum deeri deeri unke saath rehna seekh lete hain, lekin har bhed ka ek suraag hota hai, jaise taale ki taabi, jisse koi bhi bahar ka aadmi khol sakta hai, khol bhi le to kya dekhenge, teen-chaar gujri huyi zindagiyoon ka ateet, jo ek makaan ki char-deewari ke beech daba tha.

Read more on him here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Art and Emotions.

Before coming to the topic, lets ask ourselves a question on our emotional sensibility and its need to us. The obvious answer will be yes, it is very essential attribute of being human. One need to be emotional to be human, will be the most common response. The next question that follows this will be, should we express our emotions publicly to let others be effected/influenced by them. Most of us will say intentional display of emotions is usually bad. Now comes the bigger question that if any form of art effect you emotionally, is it doing as bad a job as a person doing to get some attachment and sympathy for his/her cause. Here the question becomes complex because our definitions of art and emotions may vary and our tolerance limit towards may vary too and also art manipulating our emotions can be seen as its only effect on us. Art effect us, but the question here is, what is the actual need of it and if it effects us emotionally, how should it be doing that. Does art need to be emotionally extravagant to be effective.

First of all we all need to come to some basic definition of art. For me art is something that brings me closer to the truth that too not by any sort of spoon-feeding, but by giving subtle pointers which may result in innumerous interpretations, all of them as strong as the others and this ambiguity giving a thinking space and for me its the beauty of art, where we can paint colors ourselves giving subjectivity to absolute truth. So art need to give me space and should never close or capture me. Yet another way to define art is to say that it brings realities forth. One more addition to this definition is to include that art also brings forth alternate realities or may be fantasies or images of imagination.

We here revert back to our question of art effecting us emotionally and if so, is it right and if it is not, what else it could do. Showing a starving child from a third world country to squeeze emotions out of you, doesn't qualify for being an art, although its moving and does bring some reality with it. It's not like that I hate children, or I am too rich to hate poverty. Its probably because these images generate pity and sympathy in the most direct and useless form. These images can distort my face but can't change my mind. Now moving on to the final question, should art be detached. Now what I mean to say is not that art should be emotionally-sterile but should art raise itself above emotions . Should art create a mood or leave us under trance. Should not a real art let us decide ourselves of itself, not just guide us through a decided road map. Otherwise, being in vicinity of art will like being hypnotized, where not only you can't think and act, but the effect is gone once trance is lifted. But if art doesn't effect us emotionally how should it effect us. For me showing emotions in the name of art is not bad, but that should not be all. Floods of emotions blind us to see beyond them. I want web of feeling in my head not a thick rod to cut it through. These cutting edge rods work more for heart, and so all this emotional extravaganza will deeply effect you but you can't gain anything over and above it.

One more thing that comes up here is the questions of real or fake. To make it clear, I am not talking of any fake emotions. They don't deserve to be talked about. It is because it is not the emotions that are real or fake, it is the way they are used. A mother caring for his son, or a boy in love with a girl or even a girl bitching about the other, are all real emotions, but the cheap, easy and abundant way they are used, may cause all the embarrassment and hate towards them.

People have come up with several ways to deal with emotions. The first and the most commonly use way is to use them with restrain. The best example is Ritwik Ghatak's Meghe Dhaka Tara. It is a emotionally draining film where Ghatak rations emotions. Another way out is not to use them or to use them for name-sake. One of the example in this case is Fassbinder's Effi Briest. People call Effi Briest emotionally-restraint, but for me it went to a level of emotional-dryness, it do have a brief breakdown scene towards the end, after so much anguish and pain is faced by young Effi. Yet another way is to show emotions as usual but to show their fakeness side by side, the best example for this is Fassbinber's The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant. Bitter Tears is a story of a fashion designer, where Fassbinder breaks apart all noble emotions apart, giving Petra no respite till the mildly-hopeful end. Yet another way to deal with emotions is satire and comedy, one of a few movies that keep their intellectual ability intact and yet work as comedies include Bergman's Smiles of the Summer Night. It is a story of love and betrayal set in Swedish Summer. Yet another way to deal with emotions is detachment. One of the example for this is Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt. Its a highly intellectual movie, where you are detached as soon as you tend to attach with the film. A better example is Abbas Kiarostami's A Taste of Cherry, where in the end the lead character and director are shown talking to detach the viewer from the film and think above it.

Sometimes I think it could have relieved me immensely if Ozu had shown the Noriko on sets, chatting and laughing, or Fellini could have shown Cabiria smiling without tears on the set of the film. But on a second thought it looks like I enjoyed being mesmerized by them. But again, art is not all about enjoying it, its also about understanding it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Atheism and Pessimism

It is just a matter of my wilful thinking that I am finding a relationship between the two, but it looks like there ought to be some. I can't say it is based on my experience because I am neither of them in full sense but like both the concepts immensely and in my own stupid ways strive for them. As far as experience goes, it seems atheism and pragmatism go well, but on a second thought it emerges that they cannot go for long and on a third thought it comes up that pessimism doesn't go with anything seamlessly. So why it looks like pessimism might gel well with atheism. One thing pushing them together might be that both are anti-faith concepts, if we go by dictionary definitions, it looks like atheism does believe in a faith that there is no god, but a pessimist is more free, free not to believe in anything as mystic as god. Pessimism simply say nothing is going to be good. It may be called a faith but it is as bad as faith can get. A pessimist seems to be following some feelbad-faith, which is true to some extent but I don't care if people say pessimism is a way of life that makes it less-risky or less-disappointing because a pessimist will always assume bad things and what ever little good happens will bring smile to the ever-sealed lips of a pessimist, that should never happen, for a pessimist any good or bad is harbinger of bad and a true pessimist is also not happy about this, because if he is so he must be termed evil, he feels bad but in a detached sort of way, you will never find a pessimist going over-sentimental in a reality-TV sort of way.

But how I went about to get any link about being atheist and a pessimist. An atheist has made peace with the concept of god by not believing in it. For this moment let us not belittle god and his strong-bastion, religion on the basis of logic or rationality. Its a well proven fact that God-theory falls flat on that and taking about it will be beating god in the same stick which all the god lovers are so accustomed that they take it in a Gandhian-slap sort of way or reject it as a non-issue. If we see the concept of God in other light and try to analyse why it is so popular and so very soothing, it might help. The concept of God relieves us of our own burden and acts as a sandbag to blame/pray/aspire/request to. The best (or worst) thing that the concept of God do to us is to relieve us of ourselves, a similar thing done by self-help demigods, where they say don't worry, everything will be all right by my general-prescription. Some of the bestsellers novel-cum-self-help books use language with fancy frills to say that world will 'conspire' against us to get us to our goal. All this feel-good aura is based on the postulates of faith and hope and assumption that someone is there somewhere who is all-good and all-intelligent to take care of this messy world. On the other hand, atheism relieves with lot of worldly burden, but loads us of our burden. A atheist can't look to someone to do a favor if he or she reads few line beautifully set in tune with full faith , dedication and immense hope. The point what I am trying to make is that all the pep-talk about positivity is based on a concept of Godly faith in one way or the other.

Some people might think that atheism starts from desire to rebel against the imposed institutions, in some cases it is but these rebellious desires are not enough to sustain atheism, because the next unexplainable thing happen in our life, or any insolvable desire arises, we revert back to god for help and our wish fulfilment. Also some of my friends say people are atheist because it a fad now, now they might be right but a real atheist will be very biased on this subject not like a trendy atheist who will use it just for T-shirt slogans. To some extend same is the case with pessimism, we cannot mistake pessimism with indifference, again a pessimist will be biased. But I think that pessimism will never became a fad, given the selp-help tsunami erupting everywhere. Sometimes I have seem people talk of positive-atheism, anyway I didn't get the concept much. The few things that I get of it show that it is not sufficiently logical and hence ruled out. Although the creative minds of people can make a concept like Spritual-pessimism that may join the broken link between God and everything going wrong, but as of now I don't want to be that imaginative, but sure god will be in a big soup if that kind of thing ever comes up.

At this point of time it looks like atheism and pessimism are not exactly same but they do share lot of common space and I think they come close ideologically. Again my views on this need to taken with a spoonful of salt, but putting in a very simplistic way, an atheist is cynically pessimistic about existence of god and a pessimist may be considered as an atheist who lost his memory of god long ago. I will save the introduction of an additional variable of morality for some other day, it will sure mess up things all the more.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Kiarostami on films

Abbas Kiarostami, the well known intellectual director from Iran, is a critics favorite. I saw his A Taste of Cherry (Winner of 1997 Palm D'or at Cannes) last night because I was feeling an intellectual viod for sometime and was in immediate need to fill it up. I liked the film, in a very Kiarostami-c style, the film contemplates on the complex questions of life and death, though the ending may not be liked by some. Before that I have seen his celebrated masterpiece, Close-up. I plan to write about him and his films sometime later, but for now I will put a piece of his interview that I found in the DVD of A Taste of Cherry.

Abbas Kiarostami about films.

AK: Its not conscious, but now that one can see all my films as a body of work, it seems like they talk about the same things. Someone once said that every filmmaker basically makes only one film in his lifetime but cuts it down and offer it in cinematic installments to his audience over a period of time. Its difficult to talk about things that I like because you see them in my films. Its easier for me to talk about things that I don't like. What I don't like you don't see in my films, but in all I don't like to engage in telling stories, I don't like to arouse the viewer emotionally or give him advice. I don't like to belittle him or burden him with a sense of guilt. Those are the things I don't like in movie. I think a good film is one with lasting power, and you start to reconstruct it right after you leave the theater. There are lots of films that seem to be boring, but they are decent films. On the other hand, there are films that nail you to your seat and overwhelm you to the point that you forget everything, but you feel cheated later. These are the films that take you hostage . I absolutely don't like the films in which the filmmaker take their viewer hostages and provoke them. I prefer the films that put their audience to sleep in the theater. I think those films are kind enough to allow you a nice nap. Some films have made me doze off in the theater, but the same film have made me stay up at night, waking up thinking about them in the morning and keep on thinking about them for weeks. Those are the kind of film I like.

Read Sense of Cinema's profile on Kiarostami here and read here what Guardian has to say about him and here is an interview.

Monday, October 03, 2005


I saw Ozu's heartrending Tokyo Story for the fifth time few days back. Again, I am speechless, again I am mesmerized. Writing about this film will not do any good, any analysis is superfluous, any interpretation will not suffice. So, I will just put a dialogue and a still (Noriko's) from the film. Try to find it and do see it at least once in your lifetime. I can't recommend it more.

Kyoko: Isn't life disappointing?
Noriko: [smiles] Yes, it is.

Tokyo Story quietly stands like an oldman remembering a simple story of generations, family and people, but it is stunningly contemporary. Heart ruptures silently after watching this masterpiece, cinema seldom satisfies you this much, simple images don't resonate better than this.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Sins of the red hand and regrets of a loser,
Came closer in the night of doom.
Joy of living and the anguish of being,
Joined hands in the hour of gloom.

Hope seemed a foolish self justification,
Faith bade its last good bye.
Broken links stopped praying for lost cause,
Heart burst without a single sigh.

For us, there is no death, cried in refrain,
For us, there is no life either.
For we, the children of dust and lust,
Nor mind can kill us, heart neither.

Fell in the array of dim bright lights,
Saw the confusion in every passing breath.
Closed little light in my feeble fist,
Before the final dance of death.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

This Day, That Year.

Today my blog completed a year. A year back I started it with a moderate amount of enthusiasm, probably just above the critical mark required for it and started burbling. What I gained, if anything ?, I think nothing substantial which cannot be done without a blog. On the flip side, I do neglected my regular work and worked on weekends to write long babbling on movies. Do I feel bad about it. No, on the contrary, all those posts in all their naivety and stupidly look immensely dear to me, like a slice of time, a slit to past, little but intense light coming through them. I was almost sure that this blog cannot go for long ( I bet to myself for three months and I happily lost). The question is what kept me-the-lazy-pig posting at least once a week and sometimes more so. When I look it in some perspective, lot of stupid observations come up. For the best or worst for my blog, I started with negative reactions from almost all who knew me and read my blog. The main reason for it was my blog is very different from what I am. The people who knew me, found it too distant and pretentious. They all found it a farce, to some extent it was too. But as I moved on and I made it a point to write what ever I feel like and don't model it to any particular reader's taste except me, I whole-heartedly decided to be self-indulgent, again I don't know it was for good or bad. My love for movies, and hate of plethora of other things gave me some ideas to jot down the thoughts every now and then. It looks on some more contemplation that I forced myself to some extend to keep blogging against the tide, and mainly because to change the idea that I am not only pretentious , but I am consistently so and probably there is some truth in it and this is more near to my actual self.

I would not like to think what would become of this blog a year hence. I never thought it will be my-movie-mouthpiece when I started it, actually I didn't post anything on movies for about three months or so. What I feel good is that there is so much to see, experience and write on the things I love, and there is so much hidden in the past posts to rethink.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Kafka's Metamorphosis

I feel so very small to write anything about it, I sense a deep sense of fear plunging in, that sometimes say what if you said something that refers to something stupid to a piece of art that you revere in totality, a piece of art, so horridly blurred with nightmarish fantasy and so clearly delineated, so powerfully behold the spirit of a poor fellow, a black and white story, so very elegantly painted, so meticulously done. Gregor Samsa turns to a gaint bug one fine morning. This happens in very first line of Metamorphosis. What else, so what, please don't ask these stupid questions. A poor guy has every right to turn to what ever filth, he wants to. Let him do that. Pity is a first emotion that Metamorphosis evokes, pity of entrapment and alienation, a pity of ritualistic living, a pity of powerlessness, a pity of how a beautiful body gets transformed to a heavy, grotesque bug, an insect of no respect. what a shame, what a pitiful sight. Gregor, the sole bread winner has to get up and go to work, earn money for the family, so that they can survive. The family of a Gregor has ghostly appearance more than the transformed Gregor himself. They look at Gregor as a old circus animal entrapped in four walls through three doors, calling and pounding doors at him to perform to bring them some pennies to them. No one think of Gregor and his new persona and why it happened, why he transformed into a bug, by his will or by some force. What does this all signify, if at all. Why are we subjected to the details of the nightmare that Gregor is having, why should we, Gregor should be let alone to die in peace, but a reader can be on any side of the wall, outside the room with Gregor's circus family, or inside the wall with Gregor. The power is such that we tend to move either side. Those who somehow cross that boundary are, in my humble opinion, great readers. I did cross the line, but not very consistently, not very frequently though.

On whole of the story, a feeling of entrapping hovers. The first indication is Gregor's job that he hate and want to leave, but to pay his family debts he continues. Second is the transformation (rather entrapment) of Gregor into a insect body, and third is Gregor's imprisonment in a dark room. These all signify a sense of solitude that Gregor is experiencing and how this solitude grows and become more painful and fatal.

Metamorphosis very clearly describes how we become increasing indifferent to others pain with time if it becomes even the slightest hurdle in our so-called daily routine and how our neglected pain can grow exponentially wasting us altogether. Gregor's sister, Grete is a very interesting character to understand in that respect, part from Gregor. A loving sister, transforms into deaf and blind lady unable to connect to Gregor. One of themes of Metamorphosis is inability to express oneself, Grete, mother and father are so horrified by Gregor they just stopped seeing and communicating with him, Gregor, too, on the other hand, being turned to an insect is unable to express himself, it was fully supplemented by neglect shown by the family. All the characters show their repressed feeling in one way or the other. Especially father, whose anger results in the 'Apple incident', which ultimately become calamitous to Gregor. Kafka uses Gregor's transformation as an indication of transformation of all the characters involved.

From one perspective Metamorphosis looks the analysis of transformation, from other look it seems like deconstruction of society in general and a family in particular, but from all angles Metamorphosis is a scrutiny of being human being pushed to live and survive. When I read Metamorphosis for the first time, I was more taken over my Gregor's plight and his family's increasing indifference to him. On the second time, it reflected much more, the feeling of insecurity and fear of every character and the longing of Gregor to get his position back in the family resonated. There is a very brilliant scene in Metamorphosis, one of my favorites, the violin scene, where Gregor comes out to hear the violin his sister,Grete is playing. It may be the most emotional [not melodramatic in any sense] scene of the whole story. The reaction of the family to Gregor's return from dark room brings more rejection for him and a final fatal unanimous decision by family. This scene shows Gregor's last effort to gain some love from his estranged family. What makes this scene and whole story so riveting is that fact that how misunderstood and helpless, speechless and loathsome Gregor is, and this feeling vibrates all over the story but culminates into this episode.

The end of the story is nothing short than perfect and stoically yet brilliantly breaks apart all the mush and goodness attached to the concepts of society and family. While coming to the end, I had a feeling that the story also started with a unwritten paragraph about normalcy of everyday life, the sweet weather and bird chirping. This full cycle gives, Metamorphosis a completeness, an integrity of structure and sense that everything is fine on surface and lots of Gregor's are trapped in dark chambers.

For more detailed, coherent and intellectual discussion on Metamorphosis, read Vladamir Nabokov's notes here ( These notes are very interesting, detailed and incisive, although I cannot disagree more with him when Nabokov says ...[Music] belongs to a more primitive, more animal form in the scale of arts than literature or painting..., I think music in the 'Violin sequence' is used mostly because it is the sound only that Gregor can register in his dark room and it can take him out. In fact sound plays a very important role in the whole story.]

All of those, who haven't still read it, can find it here. Here is a nice animation of story.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Its long time that her affair has come to a logical end. Time heals most of the wounds, mental, physical, metaphysical. Now she feels a tickling feeling all over the body, full of nostalgia, full of childlike titillation. Has it ended, or just buried, what will happen if she meets him again, near a shopping mall, while buying those red flowers for gift to some unknown acquaintance. Nothing will happen, nothing should happen, mind is now occupied with all types of worldly worries, all types of domestic desires, all the layers of happiness, all the air of busyness. Yet at night, one or twice in a blue moon, she adores her affair like a scented secret. It all looked pleasant, all looked so very childish. Never will she be able to feel the anger in such a raw form, everything is ordinary, subdued, life is slow and sweet, a life of stagnation can give rest and this rest may be seen as pleasure, pleasure of simplification of life.

That day when it was a relatively bad weather, she was crossing the road, she realized that she just wanted to run, run as hard as she could, but she just stopped and laughed at the stupidity of the thought, madness of yesteryears was good to laugh at and giggle to, but not worth practicing. Her one hand is full of packets of newly bought clothes, and the other with a light colored purse that helped buy them. She was thoroughly occupied with stuff, which may look mundane, but that is necessary to live. There were times when she wanted to weep like the wind that brings rain with itself, it all calmed down now.

Later at night, one of those blue moons appeared, she thought of those days, they looked so distant, and therefore so sweet, she thought to her, how all the bitterness is gone, how she has hold herself upright in those days of pain and agony, it just looked like the reminiscence of some previous life or a dream she was once part of, where she was given a bitter part, but that's all she could have done. She opened a book near the table lamp and tried to close her eyes, she saw his youthful face with anger and love mixed together, she cannot figure out what this all mean to her now. She switched off the lamp and later put it on. That night she slept with lights on.

The Death of a Blog

I have not written on any of the movies I am seeing and I really feel bad about it. Bad, not because my blog seems dying but because when you see one movie after the other and don't jot down about the previous movie, the virgin experience of movie viewing is lost all together. We can always see those movies again, and if they qualify to be good movies, they should give us more and more insight onto themselves on repeated viewing, but the first pure experience is lost some where and its difficult, rather impossible to recollect it once its two or three days past, given that you have moved to another cinematic experience. All in all it is not a good feeling to leave what you love and not even leave the traces of it on your blog so that at a latter day, when you see that piece of art again, you can reflect more clearly with greater pleasure. Also once I see a movie, I cannot hold myself to read the good, bad, ugly or whatever reviews I can find and it corrupts your pure (which may be incorrect or naive) views on the movie and this leads to a concoction of world wide views, necessarily not yours, and you loose interest in due course too. Again you feel bad.

I thought I will write about The Trial the day I saw it, but I couldn't gather much time (rather initiative) to do so and now I feel totally lost to write about it. I am planning to see it gain shortly and write about it then, but I know it will not be the same, I have lost all my thoughts and messed them with other in the meanwhile and therefore I feel so bad about them.

One more movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed and even started to scribble about was Red, but I refused to post it then, decided to post it when I will complete the Color Trilogy and now its all lost somewhere. I feel that I have lost my rustic thoughts, and did severe injustice to them. One other movie which I loved to the core, and wanted to write about was Nights of Cabiria, but I consoled myself just by writing a poem and a post on Cabiria. There are several more such type of instances where my laziness pushed my thoughts to their natural death.

For some time, I am reading some extraordinary stuff, I felt so good the day I read Kafka's A Hunger Artist, but I couldn't gather much thought to write about it, see this is a different problem from one discussed above, here I am falling short of ideas at the first place. This is my second concern, the dearth of ideas to write upon, I thought to write about some topics like 'the meta-movies I have seen', and 'the relationship between films and literature' (Although I feel acutely uneducated on this), 'the genesis of an idea', 'the endings of commercial cinema', 'Calvin's Philosophy' and so forth but nothing materialized, I have uncompleted drafts of some of them which I consider unworthy of posting even on my stupid blog. Of late, you must have seen me, pumping oxygen though silly poems to my blog in coma :)

Lets see, if I am able to break out of this circle of void and scribble something, that at least I can enjoy !

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Unseen Drop

Has the color of color died or the paper was too smooth,
Poor fellow tried to show all what he could see with naked eyes.
He again painted with different colors, may be it would show,
Is it color or paper or the dead soul, that refused to register.

A voilin cried in perfection all night to symphonies of masters,
No one stopped by to drop a tear or eye to its passion.
They all danced laughing to the screams from the other side,
Voilin played the music feeding his soul, fasting all night

A penman scribbed his absurd agonies on parched paper for ages,
He thought to store them in a place, away from heat of the sun.
Wisemen came with sweet lullabies, wrote on stone in calligraphy,
Penman died someday, thinking of a story, in the heat of the sun.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Something that is locked in the vast fantasy of our heads and yet to come out is a dream. There are chances that once it comes out of your mind, it may be turn into what it is supposed to be or to something totally different, but most of the times it loses its lustre by coming out of womb. We, the mother of the dreams, bearing the pains of nurturing them, feel, is this my dream, so horribly different from its perception and conception. Dreams walk just one step ahead of us, you can't catch them by running on skates. You can possibly get them if you stand still and let them reveal themselves. When people say 'Follow you Dreams', it looks nice, but probably it has most dreadfully misunderstood cliché, just beaten by the oldie 'Believe in Yourself'. What are we supposed to mean when we say a flamboyant banality like 'Follow your Dreams', is it to follow whatever lead to your dreams, go grab it from neck till they suffocate and succumb to your fist. Before moving on, let me make clear that when I talk about dream, I am not talking about aims, ambitions or aspirations, first of all they stink of corporate jargon and second, dreams are as fragile, as uniquely colored and as elevating as an air bubble ever to share the same closed space as ambition. Aims and ambitions looks only like a constrained/trivial solution of the equation of dream.

For me 'Follow your Dreams' means enjoy your dreams with a responsibility to nurture them, let them grow up in your tiny heads feeding them with some reality so that they can survive on being delivered. But this simplification also doesn't help, especially in those cases where dreams are driven by the labor pains of passion or the other times when your dreams become too heavy to carry, sort of a extended pregnancy with rotten fetus. You need to take it out, at times to save you, other times to relieve you from pain, yet other times to satisfy you. Dreams are born babies only, they have to take the weather by themselves. They lose their form, their baby smile, their innocence very soon and can't be called even a dream afterwards. Its reality, a grain of dust in the enormous stadium with crazy crowd and razzmatazz. Even though your dream is not dead, it is lost. So what you get by having a dream that is going to get lost or turn into a something grotesque anyway. Apparently you get lots of pain and disappointment, but you have your share of, what I can call, happiness, the peaks of pleasure. Dreams teach you to look inside, to create, to understand, to observe the pain, to comprehend the real world, to search for the beautiful truth, to sometimes die in peace, and to live with hidden smiles of the courage that you have ever dreamt !

For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come -Hamlet

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Tiny Blades

The gates of tiny blades, the light on the green grass
The dirt of earth below, a foot pressed it all

The soul of night and the son of darkness, sang together
The spirit of dawn, the sister of light, spoiled it all

The unrest of mind, the buses of thought, wandered, waved
The necessity of life, the ruler of might, aligned it all

The burning hearts, the turning clocks, around my side
The whorl of fire, those two stones, flamed it all

Sunday, July 31, 2005


I am listening to Beatles for some time now (thanks to my Die-hard Beatle-fan friend, he even calls his blog B-Log, Beatles Log, like one of my Proust-fanatic friends refers to Remembrance of Things Past, when he says Novel, with capital 'N'). I am enjoying the swinging 70's and a mild philosophy of their songs. After listening to some 100+ songs 5 songs have struck and the B-log guy says I am picking up well but I need to mature and move to more of Lennon, it seems I am stuck with too much of McCartney. I feel quite naive to write anything on Beatles or their songs so I will just put some of the lyrics of some my dear songs.

Coming to the songs, their is one which is I think not a very popular song like While my guitar gently weeps or Its a hard days night but has something that is really sweet and sad. Its called Piggies and its a bit allegorical in its lyrics which is always to my pleasure. Here is a sample of lyrics.

Have you seen the little piggies
Crawling in the dirt?
And for all the little piggies,
Life is getting worse;
Always having dirt to
Play around in.

Have you seen the bigger piggies
In their starched white shirts?
You will find the bigger piggies
Stirring up the dirt
Always have clean shirts to
Play around in.

The other song which is love-stuck and nostalgic and its called Girl. Its the first song that really stayed on.

Is there anybody going to listen to my story
All about the girl who came to stay?
She's the kind of girl you want so much
It makes you sorry
Still you don't regret a single day.
Ah girl! Girl!

The other one is called Eleanor Rigby. Its a true Beatles song with all the characteristic beatles sounds and instruments. I love this song.

Eleanor rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from ?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong ?

I will write more about it the songs when I sink in some more but now I will listen to Its a hard days night with my eyes closed, I think it should be made the anthem for all the software professional slogging :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Suffering !

My Favorite dialogue from one of the best movie of all time, Bergman's Winter Light.

Sexton: The passion of Christ, his suffering... Wouldn't you say the focus on his suffering is all wrong?
Pastor: What do you mean?
Sexton: This emphasis on physical pain. It couldn't have been all that bad. It may sound presumptuous of me - but in my humble way, I've suffered as much physical pain as Jesus. And his torments were rather brief. Lasting some four hours, I gather? I feel that he was tormented far worse on an other level. Maybe I've got it all wrong. But just think of Gethsemane, Vicar. Christ's disciples fell asleep. They hadn't understood the meaning of the last supper, or anything. And when the servants of the law appeared, they ran away. And Peter denied him. Christ had known his disciples for three years. They'd lived together day in and day out - but they never grasped what he meant. They abandoned him, to the last man. And he was left alone. That must have been painful. Realizing that no one understands. To be abandoned when you need someone to rely on - that must be excruciatingly painful. But the worse was yet to come. When Jesus was nailed to the cross - and hung there in torment - he cried out - "God, my God!" "Why hast thou forsaken me?" He cried out as loud as he could. He thought that his heavenly father had abandoned him. He believed everything he'd ever preached was a lie. The moments before he died, Christ was seized by doubt. Surely that must have been his greatest hardship? God's silence.
Pastor: Yes...

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Hog Day !

Yesterday was my nth birthday, I ate all day and night. Its for all you missed the 'gluttonous-debauch' :)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Those Characters...

I have always wondered which characters would appeal people, the characters who are like them or the characters who are unlike them or some mathematical mix of both or in a cliched sense, those characters whom they are able to relate to. On a different note, when will Kafka be delighted, if someone is inspired by him or if someone will resonate with same emotions after reading a piece that Kafka felt while writing it. Kafka will better die than give any inspiration. I always remember one of my friends comment, "I hated that novel, I almost felt like I have murdered someone !", after reading Crime and Punishment. What more appreciation Dostoevski will ask for, more than his readers becoming his characters. So its a matter of resonance, these waves do require a medium to hit you, but this medium is a matter of your choice, and its what we call Art. Coming back to my chosen medium, films, and the appealing characters we started with. I have chosen three characters which I really like and resonate with feeling of the masters who created them, at least to some extent.

3. Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley, American Beauty): Ricky is a young drug-dealing boy next door who see beauty in seemingly petty things. American Beauty is one of my favorite film which to some extent explores the meanings of beauty and ugliness, tearing off the everyday farce of out lives. Ricky is rather a strong character of all in the movie, which might not have gone to my liking but as the movie progresses, we see lot of beauty through his eyes, the beauty as he sees it, the uncommon beauty in common things. He finds happiness in recording these beautiful things on his camcorder. What I always wondered about beauty are two things, its fleetingness and its unattainability. Beauty looks like a concept and it has generated lots of discomfort in me lately. May be 'my' beauty lies only in dreams and fantasies. Real world is not good enough to be beautiful. Ricky do something to seize the overwhelming beauty of real world , although a bit figuratively, he records this subjective surreal beauty on his tape.

RICKY FITTS: Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in.

2. Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro, Taxi driver): Travis Bickle is a character which intrigues you to the core and at the same time amazes you with its simplicity and commonness. Travis is a 26 year old, ex-marine who drives Taxi at night to fight insomnia, disillusioned by the norms of the society, is a lonely man. As I started to see Taxi Driver, Travis seemed to me shallow, naive and just like any other young guy as he gets attracted to smart-and-beautiful Betsy and stupidly takes her to a porn movie on their first date. But as the movie progresses we see Travis more clearly, we start understanding the misunderstood Travis and the intent of his actions and above all his loneliness. Robert De Niro gives a mindblowing performance as disturbed Travis result of a much more disturbed society.

Travis Bickle: Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man.

1. Cabiria (Giulietta Masina, Nights of Cabiria): Cabiria is infinitely dear character to me. When I saw Nights of Cabiria, I was amazed by Masina's tragi-comic performance, her character and master Fellini. The last reels of Nights of Cabiria are the best 15 minutes you can ever see on celluloid. Cabiria is a naive prostitute, wandering on the road of Rome, in search of love, one who goes to shrine holding candles in search of some answers, one who bares her deepest desires when hypnotized. Cabiria, who trusts people easily, who is betrayed and robbed again and again, one who is afraid of what will became of her, seeking meaning to her existence, but one who is hopeful of things to come. Something happened in the final moments of Nights of Cabiria that made me feel hopeful in the honest and unassuming way. This is what we can call a true testimonial of hope that is all real and that comes from the unflinching nature of human spirit but not from some phony crap. Cabiria is such a heart-breakingly real character, Fellini's most human and fragile creation. Fellini has gone on record to say that of all his characters, he worries about Cabiria the most. I feel the same.

Cabiria : Kill me! I don't want to live any more!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ghatak on Art

Ritwik Ghatak on Art in an essay, Film and I

The word 'art' in films is much abused, both by its friends and its foes... whatever is pretentiously dull or breathtakingly spectacular is not necessarily art. Art does not consist merely of ambitious subjects or outlandish propositions or extensive use of a newly available extreme wide-angle lens. It does not consist of montage and manipulation of filmic time and de-dramatization solely. Rather, it consists of bursts of fancy. Whatever the genre, art brings with it the feeling of being in the presence of living truth, always coupled with enjoyment.

Friday, July 08, 2005


Closing the night, sweet slow lullaby, singing to myself
Finding an alibi, messing the life, talking to myself

Making sea in sink, hoisting the flag, raising to myself
Painting hands on walls, every line clear, waving to myself

Making memory of today, thinking slow, creating by myself
Keeping the silence, thinking aloud, living by myself

Making castle of mud, washing hands, all by myself
Hiding the sweat, showing the disguise, all by myself

Monday, July 04, 2005


I don't write about social, political or religious issues. Here also I will not write about it but will just draw the attention. There are basically two reasons I want to do this.

1) This incident is a classic example of victimizing the victim and brings out the horrors of religion in this so-called civilized world.
2) This incident happened in my hometown, otherwise famous for kidnaps and killings.

The question here is who raped Imrana, her father-in-law or religious heads.

Read the Hindu editorial on the issue here.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Being a Writer...

This is one of the dialogue from Chekhov's play Seagull, that I saw during my Bombay visit. The following part comes in Act 2, where an accomplished writer, Trigorin talks about being a writer when asked by our heroine, Nina about the pleasure and beauty of being a writer.

TRIGORIN. I see nothing especially lovely about it. [He looks at his watch] Excuse me, I must go at once, and begin writing again. I am in a hurry. [He laughs] You have stepped on my pet corn, as they say, and I am getting excited, and a little cross. Let us discuss this bright and beautiful life of mine, though. [After a few moments' thought] Violent obsessions sometimes lay hold of a man: he may, for instance, think day and night of nothing but the moon. I have such a moon. Day and night I am held in the grip of one besetting thought, to write, write, write! Hardly have I finished one book than something urges me to write another, and then a third, and then a fourth--I write ceaselessly. I am, as it were, on a treadmill. I hurry for ever from one story to another, and can't help myself. Do you see anything bright and beautiful in that? Oh, it is a wild life! Even now, thrilled as I am by talking to you, I do not forget for an instant that an unfinished story is awaiting me. My eye falls on that cloud there, which has the shape of a grand piano; I instantly make a mental note that I must remember to mention in my story a cloud floating by that looked like a grand piano. I smell heliotrope; I mutter to myself: a sickly smell, the colour worn by widows; I must remember that in writing my next description of a summer evening. I catch an idea in every sentence of yours or of my own, and hasten to lock all these treasures in my literary store-room, thinking that some day they may be useful to me. As soon as I stop working I rush off to the theatre or go fishing, in the hope that I may find oblivion there, but no! Some new subject for a story is sure to come rolling through my brain like an iron cannonball. I hear my desk calling, and have to go back to it and begin to write, write, write, once more. And so it goes for everlasting. I cannot escape myself, though I feel that I am consuming my life. To prepare the honey I feed to unknown crowds, I am doomed to brush the bloom from my dearest flowers, to tear them from their stems, and trample the roots that bore them under foot. Am I not a madman? Should I not be treated by those who know me as one mentally diseased? Yet it is always the same, same old story, till I begin to think that all this praise and admiration must be a deception, that I am being hoodwinked because they know I am crazy, and I sometimes tremble lest I should be grabbed from behind and whisked off to a lunatic asylum. The best years of my youth were made one continual agony for me by my writing. A young author, especially if at first he does not make a success, feels clumsy, ill-at-ease, and superfluous in the world. His nerves are all on edge and stretched to the point of breaking; he is irresistibly attracted to literary and artistic people, and hovers about them unknown and unnoticed, fearing to look them bravely in the eye, like a man with a passion for gambling, whose money is all gone. I did not know my readers, but for some reason I imagined they were distrustful and unfriendly; I was mortally afraid of the public, and when my first play appeared, it seemed to me as if all the dark eyes in the audience were looking at it with enmity, and all the blue ones with cold indifference. Oh, how terrible it was! What agony!

Monday, June 27, 2005


It was almost ten summers they have met, they still remember the first summer they spent together. Both of them felt that summers have gone bitter since then. It is probably the only thing they will agree now. Both have tried their best to get over that summer in their own furtive ways. A decade of bitterness and distance seemed to fall short to wash off their first touches. It pained now to the level it soothed then but they have moved on in their lives, better to say in their careers, trying to forget the little life has offered to them. Love is hard to pursue, even harder than to forget. This must have given both of them some respite, they were in the easiest of the two most difficult worlds. Everything changes once you touch the fire, pure and white fire.

She was not very sure why she decided to meet him, she even called him but cannot utter a word as she sensed the same bitterness in his voice. She didn't want to open up old wounds, also deep in her little heart she dread that some may heal too fast, the last bit of him may disappear. She doesn't want to look back at that summer too, for she is almost bored by doing so. The same situation, the same analysis, the same conclusion, the same insult, the same guilt.

When he called her, it was not for sake of curtsey or something to level things up, its because he still loved her, although he in this lifetime will not agree to it because his heart doesn't say that anymore with enough force. With time the loudness of love decreases but frequency increases. It just cuts you mildly but vitally.

The day after the meeting, they both decided never to do that stupidity again and not to hinder their sole goal of moving on and out of it. But that night they realized that nobody is perfect and love is not about finding and expecting perfection. Probably imperfections keeping it going. Perfection and any attempt to be so spoils everything. They both talked little, rather very little, just searched their little corners in each others hearts, trying to see if even their frequency of pain resonate or not. There were very conscious efforts to avoid any eye contact, leave alone the contacts. It was painful for both of them. Seemed those two hours just refused to past. It is more painful sitting near a dying dog than a dead one. You wish he could die soon, stop clinging to life. There is nothing horrible than the sights of dying lives.

With so much of memories in her big bold eyes, he expected that she will at least weep alone in her home, just to wash everything away. This may be the only thing that their love deserve now. She did weep the whole night and expected he will call her to say the last bye, the last words. He never called her since. They never met since then. They both moved to pursue their goals, also trying to find some easier relationship, although not that deeply felt. Something mild should do.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

So Sweet !

Be quiet when I am talking to you, her eyes said that
see me when I am listening to you, her eyes saw mine

Hold my hands when I am walking with you, we walked
close your eyes when you kiss me, its all fine

Don't see that, don't speak this, she spoke lightly
don't touch this, don't hear that, said all in a line

Be with me as no one was, see me as no one has,
I was no one in a moment, was it just another sign

Love must be tender, touches sweet, she silkily rustled
Whispers of warmth or shrills of distance, must I resign.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Dancing with bent knees, she realized she could have done better
Keeping her pain to herself, she felt she could have gone wetter

Days and nights may loose limits, weeks may pass like this
Time goes by, all she dreamt is to be burnt by a kiss

A flash of light, a peck on the cheek is what you may give
But how long it will last and how long you will live

Full submission is loss and no one will love to lose
Who dare show commitment and let him open to abuse

She wants the things that people usually trade for money
She dreams she could find someone, but its not too sunny

She deserves nothing as her demands are insanely high
She needs to learn to live in a world of hi and bye !

In Vain

The senselessness of being numb, numb to highly incisive personal pains and laughing to the pleasures that don't belong to you, keeping eyes, as they are seeing the world that has tormented you for long, not touching the torment a bit, always trying to get into the darkness of shivering bodies, never able to get into the shiver, catching up with the race of being and losing the sense of being, always flirting with life, never making love to it passionately, always searching for an illusive silver lining, never the enormous cloud, searching something to be happy about, to smile at, to open your heart with, to smell the flowers of past, to dream about the ones that will never bloom !

Friday, June 17, 2005

Yasujiro Ozu

I entered the world of Ozu this week. His world is like my world and your world, ordinary people, daily-life, same suffering and same everyday sadness. Like Fassbinder, Ozu is blamed many a times for repeating the themes and even the same stories. He actually made a remake of his own film since he liked the idea too much. Ozu is also blamed to be a minimalist, which is again very disturbing as Ozu's art is very detailed and very complicated if anyone has the right senses. In a very prolific career, Ozu made some 54 films (only 36 of them exist today), out of them lots were in silent era and he was torchbearer of silent cinema till late 40s and all this love for images and the composition of rich frames shows in his talkies too.

Although the pet theme of Ozu's Cinema is about family life, he himself never got married. Also Ozu is not much interested in plot details, most of plot details are not shown directly but through some references, most of the screen time is reserved for 'greater good'. The most celebrated masterpiece of Ozu's career is a movie called Tokyo Story which invariably figures in top 10 lists of critics across the globe. Tokyo story is the only Ozu Movie I have seen, and which had a great impact on me and all the recognition received by this movie is deserved to the last decimal place. I will write about this movie in detail later but for now I will continue about Ozu and some of the observations that I gained by watching the masterpiece.

The popularity of Ozu's work in Japan is well known; it came to the wider world audience as late as 70s. Other notion about Ozu's work was that they are too Japanese, that is as baseless as saying Bergman's work is only for philosophers as it is too philosophical. Any work of art ought to have the smell of region where it comes from, isn't Ray's work talk about Bengali sensibilities. It is more beautiful and soulful that way. One more thing that make Ozu's work very dear and approachable are the themes they deal with, if you are living you are sure to have experienced them, and Ozu handles these seemingly simple situations and plots with soft yet incisive acumen, never going melodramatic but always baring the right emotion and hitting the most fragile nerve with remarkable insight to it. And then there is camera-work, which is done with very small tripods to give a low angle and full view of the scene as characters move in haze-maze of Japanese houses, the compositions are like frame into frame into frame, very theatrical. The images of contrasts show the ever widening generation gaps, the visual of ordinary countryside juxtaposed with fuming chimneys of Tokyo. But all this cannot work if there is nothing that touch the heart in a true sense, not that we are looking for any emotional extravaganza or any commandments on morality, or for the matter, any commentary on society. Ozu's cinema is a cinema of change and the people and how people cope with it and can they ever cope up with this race.

Here Ozu seems like a soft pessimist, not complaining, not rationalizing, not moralizing and not even creating any bias or fake-sympathy. Ozu just looks at people sufferings in this world and shows it with no pretensions, with aloofness, with a sense of certainty those things and people change and how nothing is as pretty as it seems. With all the loneliness, goodness and evil in society, we are sure to fall on every side of it, its inevitable, we will simply succumb to it. Although Ozu's work revolves around families and social rules and the common man trapped in them, they make a big statement against them, all this commonsense pragmatism and worldly-wise wisdom is ridiculed in the simplest of ways. The art of Ozu is smooth, deeply pensive, devastatingly incisive and over all universally true. Ozu is must-dope for any cinephile. Go enter the world of Ozu and meet yourself.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Alma Speaks...

Its the closing monologue by 'Alma' in Bergman's Hour of the Wolf. Its simple and sensitive. I really liked it. Here she directly talks to the audience and asks some questions.

Well, there is one thing I've wondered. Are you in a hurry...? I'd like to ask you something. Its like this. Isn't it true that when a woman has lived a long time with a man, isn't it true she finally becomes like that man ? Since she loves him and tries to think like him and see like him. They say that it can change a person. Was that's why I began to see those ghosts? or were they there anyway? I mean, if I'd loved him less and not bothered about everything there around him... could I have protected him better then ? or was it that I didn't love him enough that made me so jealous ? Was that why those 'cannibal' as he called them... was that why we came to such a grief ? I thought I was so close to him. Sometimes he said he was also close to me. One time he said it with certainty. If only I could have followed him, all the time. There is so much to keep pondering.. so many questions, sometimes I don't know which way is which, and I get completely....