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

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


There are times when I want to write about a movie and feel deterred by very thought of it. Needless to say that the movie in question was an intense experience but apart from it, its an experience which I am not able to understand in entirety, and there lies a certain beauty in all this obtuseness of the art. This film is true art in that sense, you can get lot of things out of this movie, every time you expose yourself to it, sometimes you feel bare-all feeling after seeing it and the other times the fear of claustrophobia, a very personal intensity is what Persona delivers.

Bergman's films are not about plot or external details. They revolve round characters, or more so around the close-ups of their faces, the faces that are dissected thread by thread, till they they show all their hidden fears, all the ugliness, all the obscure beauty. Every contour is traversed, and every line of the face is read over and over again. Camera stops at the face, almost gets trapped in the eye-contact and shamelessly undresses it.

The plot details are rather simple. A distressed actress, Elisabet (Liv Ullman), who has inexplicably stopped communicating, comes to a hospital and a nurse named Alma (Bibi Anderson) is assigned to her. On the advice of hospital psychiatrist, they both move to a remote and tranquil seaside cottage. While taking care of and helping the patient, Alma tries to open up with her, telling her some secret and strange stories but finds that the actress' persona is meddling with her own and revolts to this intrusion or rather imprisonment. So with this story that seems more a tale of identity crisis, what Bergman actually want to say or more precisely what we are supposed to infer. Some pondering on this takes us into the two main characters, their persona, an intriguing minimalist character study and study of their imbuing.

To understand this, we can look into like this. Sometimes when we watch a movie or read a novel, we get involved with the characters and almost experience their pain or pleasure. Their Persona takes hold of us. Like wise in a dream, we transpose to someone else, something imaginary but really ourselves, find ourselves in some odd situation and want to get out it. The real self want to get out of something imaginary. Persona also starts with dreams like images and the images which say, Hey its a movie, beware!

If we just extrapolate it to come to real life, Persona shows the horrors of opening up, the fear of being emotionally naked in front of someone and probably give the other person an opportunity to point at the our dark secrets. Fear of losing ourselves to some stranger and probably the expectation of same warmth and frankness from the other side. Persona also hints at the malleable nature of human personality, the illusion of existence and the film image itself.

Persona works on a rather visceral level, to rationalize it will not result in anything substantial and tangible. The increasing focus on images and less on dialogues, as the movie progresses, do suggest about the ethereal elements of the movie. Those who want to 'understand' the movie may dismiss Persona as Bergman himself never gives his images any clear end, they are left as unfinished portraits or rather slightly blurred ones, giving us no definite lines to walk on, which may seem strange or distracting at times. Therefore Persona demands repeated viewing which it deserves and duly rewards too.

Persona has some almost perfect sequences, the one where Elisabet and Alma sit next to each other and the same story is told two times, once with Elisabet's face in frame and other with Alma's, and you see the purpose and the mastery of the scene at the same time. The second scene is the famous 'over-lapping merger' scene. Its horrifyingly complex. And the one where Alma tells the story about the boys on the beach. Liv Ullman has done a great pantomime without a single dialogue and not much action. Bibi Andersson is equally good who may look a well-balanced woman from the exteriors but has fears and secrets embedded inside just like Elisabet has.

I will not say its the best of Bergman, as I liked Winter light, Wild Strawberries and Cries and Whispers better than this, but I will say its most poetic work of the few I have seen and works with a dreamlike surrealism, a visceral flow of complex images and emotions which are at times not meant to understand but to experience.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


It was summer. Everything good and bad is out, people sense you, you sense them, there are contacts, senses are at all time best, mind behave erratic, heat gets us out of us like sweat, people can 'see' us, smell us, almost taste us, all human senses are put to good use. They celebrate their existence. He was just another human being, a homosapiens evolved to feel like this yet trained not to show it, but good summer is a great leveler, its brings out the best in you. With all his senses hyperactive, in this frenzy of sweet chaos, he happily submitted to fantasize heat to warmth, touches to closeness, eye contacts to longings. Climate acts as catalyst in love reactions.

He saw in her eyes and almost calculated the state of her heart. He tried to be static and rational, but golden rays of sun donot spare anyone. She looked like a goddess, a graceful golden goddess, those big eyes longing for him, its road to moonlit alleys. The spell is all over. Nature has done its homework, and it has ages of relevant experience too. What he can do is happily fall for the trap, smile at his stupidity, wonder at her gazes, see everything tainted red and green.

There are doubts, big self-doubts, he is not afraid of the moment, but of moments to come. He almost thought years ahead, months passed by, but the moment stayed. He thought of all the mushy things he had come across, and thought of the feeling which his friends talked about with bright eyes but he never felt, he sensed the smell of uplifting happiness, he was happy because he didn't cared for anything, the moment he was trapped was too sweet to leave for anything but her.

His face glowed red as a new born child and he searched for love inside, its a oscillating feeling of strength and loss, and the state of mind had never been better, it stopped working, something inside his chest is thumping heavily to take control of him and he of her and she of herself, all messed up so beautifully in love, all erratic in perfect sense, all so brilliantly sparky and all too stupidly senseless. Probably, he was expecting all this, but in a very different way. Imagination is seldom perfect, like reality. Senses numbed and intensified themselves as the moments desired, all is so systematic, probably God took care of the affairs.

Friday, May 20, 2005


She ran like a child. She smelt him. She ran as if a child finds her mother in darkness, touches her and feels warmth of comforting love instantly, love that is waiting for her in every gloomy corner. She ran in the spark of light, in light of finding him. She touched him and felt something she could only explain. It was not darkness of night, it was the darkness of crowd that makes us see hazily and lets us loose the contacts. This darkness blinds us to love.

The corners of heart may still be unlighted by love but she knew for sure that it exists, it must exist deep inside, this faith in the surety of existence is what draw her closer to him. She could even smell the same feelings in him, at least she thought so. Something resonated, she thought she even heard it.

Love may not be rational or logical and it is great not to be so. She again felt the same stroke of pleasure just by touching him, almost a tremor. This happened again, yet again and probably these tremors kept her going. Love must be some electricity or quake but she never realized it. She never thought that this running may be just another run-of-the-mill thing. She sure was in love.

On Life Lived

The Summer of Love may find itself too dry ,
The Winters and Springs either aint too great.
The Seasons of love will all be the same ,
Probably its love's only trait.

The haze-maze of life seems too difficult to follow,
The regularities of life are just same to endure.
The Lust for life is blood for we-vampires ,
The surety of death is the only cure.

The Elixir of life, the pleasure of pain ,
The Touch of Truth, the deep flights onto highs.
The misery of existence and the triumphs of spirit ,
All engraved in our experiences, rest all dies.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Summer Trip

This visit to home will be unique because I didn't go home but went lots of places where I felt home at. I almost thought of staying there at times but as always a bit of rational thinking ruled out the entire idea. I also thought that if I want to write anything substantial I need to be at any of these places to do so but again rational thinking spoiled the romance.

In short I went to two places, Hill and Desert. If it had been a movie by Antonioni, he must have used them as a backdrops for my mental picture but life is no movie, it is far more bland. First, I went to a place called Naahan (HP), near Chandigarh (Haryana/Punjab). It is the occasion of marriage of two of my friends, Divya and Chaitanya, and I attended a marriage after a long time. And I need to tell people that I am not a Telugu but a north Indian, don't know it is compliment or otherwise. I was seeing 'real' hills after a long time and I sort of traveled back to my fun-loving self till I found out an autobiography by Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo. I really found it intriguing. All the external peace went away and I again turned to the something internal. I was not able to complete it but is surely in the hit list. Apart for this I went for trekking to a fort in Naahan; it was really a nice experience as we (I and my friend Kiran) took the most adventurous route through the hills and risked our life at least twice. Risking life is a fantastic experience when seen in perspective. After we came from the trek, I and Kiran were talking and we found out the biggest fear we both had while doing this adventure, the fear that what will we tell back at Naahan, if the other person dies. It's a quite profound finding that we care at the time of risk too.

The next destination was Bahal where my sister lives; it is small place near Bhiwani (Haryana). It's near Rajasthan and looks like a desert. It's a difficult destination. From Naahan, I went to Shahabad, Shahabad to Panipat, Panipat to Rohtak, Rohtak to Bhiwaani, and Bhiwani to Bahal, took almost 10 hrs of journey by bus to reach there and this experience was compounded by the youthful sun of north. When I met my sister, there were long rounds of stupid discussions, and we told all sort of told and untold trivia to each other, as usual. I stayed in Bahal for 3 days. My sisters' house had a small balcony where I wrote this post, there were some 2 peacocks dancing and cheering me up. I again thought that this is the place you can write freely and nature can entertain you at times.

Going to home and coming back to work seems to give a good perspective on what crap you do and what crap other do. I usually don't like this idea of change (from Hyderabad to Home and back) but once I do it, I really like to think about it in several different ways and try to draw some more knowledge about how am I changing!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Classic Crap

People say I have stopped appreciating good movies and that's what happened when I declared the oft-celebrated prison drama 'The Shawshank Redemption' a classic crap. I may have walked out of the theater but I was not watching it on DVD, I registered my protest by yawning every now and then.

Now the question may be why I hated it but the more interesting question is why everyone (well almost) like it. There are many theories. Lets go one by one:

SOLUTION 1: If you like one man army destroying hundreds of men, you will like it.

SOLUTION 2: If you like the concept of hope in its most cliched form, you will endear it.

SOLUTION 3: If you have ever liked a movie where a woman is raped and she takes revenge, you are going to enjoy it fully.

SOLUTION 4: If you like zero-sum games, bad must be punished and the good must prevail at any cost, you will appreciate it.

SOLUTION 5: If you are strongly religious and believe in Jesus Philosophy, you will revere it.

SOLUTION 6: If you haven't seen wide range of cinematic art, you will fall for its mediocrity.

SOLUTION 7: If you like whatever others like, you will have to like it anyway.

It may look I am going too far to detest this reformist testimonial on pink-colored prison life, let me say I liked some of the sub-plots of movie but Shawshank Redemption never give enough space to the potential topics like the trauma of being falsely accused, the problems of prison, adapting to hostile environments and the bonding at such times. But this movie concentrates on the overtly optimistic journey of Andy from accusation to redemption. He changes the prison to a tax filling office, he punishes 'The Sisters' for their mean act, he makes everyone respect him, forces everyone to listen to Mr. Mozart, he often finds time to eat baked cakes and run a school and a library and above all dig a tunnel and what not just like a GOD in midst of stupid followers. Yes, that where I want to reach, he behaves like a god and shows all the patience in book, and emerges from the ashes somewhere near the beaches of Mexico and his followers are saved to see him there, very godlike. very hopeful, very unrealistic, a classic crap. And in the end, all what he set for has been done and he emerges as a scented lotus from a hole of shit. If this is redemption, it stinks.