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

Monday, March 27, 2006

Funny ... aint it ?

When exactly 90 minutes of movie have passed, one of the tormentor turns towards the viewers and asks with sadistic fun, "We haven't even reached feature film length, yet" and goes on with more fun and gives the viewer more "gratification" that movie has not finished yet, it will continue and so do the inescapable violence for the audience who has seen it all, enjoyed it in the plethora of hollywood slick flicks and to say the least have become immune to it as long as it is not directed towards him, and is shown using a number of euphemisms. One more time, quite early in the movie, the clever tormentor, blinks his eyes towards the audience to show that the game has started and its so much fun in tricking the one who is searching for someone dead as is done many of the million-bucks directors, in this case it was just a dog, so we console ourselves with the fact that we can take that much and probably this scene was put for someone weaker at heart, quite unaware of the game we are put in.

And it all apparently starts over a few eggs, which probably a viewer is not used to digest because violence is supposed to have bigger motives and for that we soon realize that there are people like sadistic bastards and psychopaths (this reason-finding attitude of the film-consumers is also mocked at when reason why one of the tormentors turned so is fabricated by the other) and we are happy to find a reason but what about the plot. For this our (we can say this for sure) tormentor, again turns to us and quips "Don't you expect a plot" and again finds excuse to be more violent, the more the better, he is killing us with our own mantra of entertainment value and what people call "Paisa Vasool". I may go on and on to say how queasy I felt, how sick was the violence, how bad were the psychos and I will miss the whole point. This movie is not supposed to make you so (although it does so) but to test you in a way, its like asking how much you can take, and how much you can enjoy and in doing so it doesn't make fun of violence which movies like 'Pulp Fiction' do and hence it doesn't reduce the magnificent tension that it builds.

One more interesting thing about the movie is the background score or rather dearth of it, its a fun of those movies that use accentuated sound effects to heighten the tension, there are occasional burps of music and that too diegetic most of the times and all this excellent-excellent use/non-use of music is shown in the opening sequence where the couple play a music game and their soft music is overshadowed by some metallic rock. Also those who consider that all this is done by any cheap trick and by pulling on unexpected turns to keep us engaged, should understand that you can't find a better director who respects his viewers, there is nothing unexpected except if you base your expectations on the history of violence in movies. And here Haneke comes with a brilliant scene where what a sick-of-violence-and-full-of-revenge viewer will expect comes first, and then our tormentor rewinds the time and shows us what exactly happened, and it slaps the respite-hungry (by now) audience in a very positive way, what else for, a director will do that, if not for the respect of his crazy viewers. When we are talking about cheap tricks and sensationalism, you should see how coldly (?) Haneke deals with the killing of a child, the after-shot, that runs for more than 10 min reaffirms our faith in the sincerity of the director.

Just a kind, non-violent appeal to who-so-ever got to read it, "If you consider violence to be of any fun value, please see the movie"... ohhh I missed the name, its called Funny Games.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Childhood Tale

I read a story when I was kid, and I think everybody had because even if it is not read, it just get passed onto generations like the evolutionary gene, you learn so many thing like that, which are not said or explained, they are just put in air. The story was about a young, (of course beautiful) princess, who, for some strange reason had forgotten to laugh or she is just suffering from some teenage syndrome, that Freud can explain in details, given the relevant data and a scope of extrapolation. The important point is that it is not good for a princess to be sad, because she is princess and its its bad to have a sad face. For all of us, face is nothing without a smile and you can't potentially smile with heads or legs, though some poets have tried to attribute smile to eyes with partial success, but for most of the time and for all practical purposes, it is attributed to lips and some area around it. So the little princess was not using her lips for what they are made for, and it is really pissing off the onlookers, they want to see her happy, desperately.

The princess too sensed it but was not responding because this is what you do, when you are a princess, try to be indifferent, and if you fail, just show that you are. So with the king presiding, all of the friends and officials (who are by default friends) gathered, to picture this you can imagine it as a corporate meeting with well defined but never explicitly exposed hierarchical relationships and people discussing a trivial matter with unwarranted importance. When I was a kid I imagined it as a big courtroom with silver chandeliers and all of the friends in their royal robes looking really royal and also worried whether the meeting will come up any good solution and also wondered what would it be. The kids who read the pictorial version of this story were refused of that imagination but those kids, now young professionals working here or there, will rightly argue that even my imagination would have come from some other pictorial book, but I will say, I was free to choose.

But now, with all the commonly and worldly wisdom that I have gained, I picture it less dramatically and also don't worry whether or not the solution will solve the problem but I now have a fear what the solution will be, will they assign the task to a over-ambitious Mantri who will catch someone and probably assign him the task to make princess smile in 5 days, or if he is benevolent, one week or so and that will make both, the life of that man and the princess miserable, and probably by the end of it man will also forget how to smile, although that will give him relevant and worldly experience which he can use in his other professional pursuits and if he is of any artistic type mortal, he may even write poems about the pain of smile, at least he has suffered it. All in all a classic lose-lose situation will emerge and probably in the end princess will smile with sick desperation and the Mantri will get promoted to a slightly higher level and friends will definitely be happy about the princess newly-found smile.

In the childhood story, they came up with a very elegant solution, which I now consider really sensible on the part of the creator of the story, they actually announced in the whole kingdom that who-so-ever will make the princess laugh will get half of the kingdom ( the king really loves his daughter because money counts) and will marry the daughter (now the we can doubt king's intentions). The last part of the solution has greater benefits and repercussions, for the romantic kind of readers, it may be said that the one, who can make the princess laugh will always keep her happy forever, for the more enterprising readers, it looks like the king had a clue that clowns can never be good administrators and he can get his half-kingdom back easily, for the feminists activists, if we remove the chance of a girl marrying a girl then this competition will turn out to be guys-only and it also points to an arguable fact that girls can not make you laugh, which might be right, but I am unable to comment because of lack of any solid experience but I still think they are sort of funny, for the more fatherly readers, it removes one from the tension of marrying their daughter, the sooner the better, the tension should go. Anyway, the solution is elegant at least in one way, its based on free-will, no one is forced except for their hunger for money or their libido, which to a certain extent sounds fine, at least in a childhood tale.

Also from the perspective of a storyteller and entertainer, its a dream come true, you have a entire kingdom of strange characters to choose from and made them do hilarious stuff, which might not make the princess happy but can make the readers laugh. When I read that during my early years, I really found the same pleasure that the kids (also grown ups who are into kid stuff) of this generation find in their potters and harries. So now in the kingdom, full fanfare was going on. People who wanted to showcase their talents came from all the parts, even though they knew that it is quite a high dream to make a princess happy but they can go and see the extravaganza and be part of it and probably be happy for themselves. While all this reality show went on, suitors came with huge smile and confidence and left with sullen faces.

After few days of this effort to challenge the sadness of princess, this sadness spread all over the kingdom. During childhood I wondered why a princess was sad, of course she is a princess and everybody want to be so, then I thought it to be a story trick, I thought that in real life princess can not be sad but if the princess in the story is not happy, how the story will progress. Now I think how can a sad princess ( for that matter any person) be made happy by people jumping in front of her and saying 'Be happy', for what I can imagine it would make her irritated and she will try to cover that irritation with a plain face and since a plain face doesn't have any smile, she will again be considered sad. Now readers can wonder why she didn't fake a laugh just to get rid of the buggers but you should understand that there is a thing called ego and we should respect our ego, otherwise who we are, at least a princess should maintain some decent levels of ego.

Now that the fun fare has ended and people have started thinking that they are done enough for the sad girl and they have other works too, and life is not making everybody happy and couple of more convincing things like that, they stopped caring. Once in a while princess girl friends will make sad faces to pretend to be a princess and a word flew that princesses are usually sad. By this time princess is also getting bored by her sad face and the lack of attention, and she got into some serious thinking to get her smile back.

Now as any serious story reader and any famous story teller know, there is no story without a happy ending and all the authors and readers don't love Kafka that much. So here it goes, at the same time when our would-be happy princess decided to get her smile back and decided to brush her teeth properly before she do it, almost at the same time a clownesque young boy thought he should also try his luck and put a late entry into the reality show. These type of chances are rampant in our daily lives, but we accuse the poor story tellers for fabricating them. How many of you have met a pretty girl on flight? all...see... As they say it is important to be at the right time at the right place with the right person or may be vice versa. So at the sunrise, after brushing her teeth properly, she came to balcony to see the sunrise and wow, here she sees a man in a clown dress jumping like pig, not with the faintest thought that the upcoming smile will cost her a life long porky feeling, she stretched her facial muscles and a just-average smile came up, which made the guy jump more vigorously, and to make the coincidence sure and proper, a gardener saw all this which he proudly termed as, 'Love at first sight', and the news of princess laughing and getting married to a clown spread, to borrow an overused expression, like a jungle fire.

A smile costed her a fortune. Although with hardcore royal grooming, the pig with turn to a virile stallion but even then. As a child my heart throbbed in the final sequence, and to picture the pearly smile of princess was very satisfying. Now I think why this fairy tale is told to kids, I seriously think it may harm the innocence of young girls and they can even get struck by sadness, which, as I said earlier, Freud only can explain. Like this the story ends, on a seemingly happy note, but I think we should ask the princess first, on an average a princess do get a smart guy with blue eyes or may be pink horse in the end, sometime even animals turn to handsome and rich princes but even though our princess was the princess of the fairy tale she got just a smiling moment and that too resulted in serious after effects but as always let us assume for now that she lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


This is one of the entries from the Diary of Kafka, about a dancer, Eduardova.

The dancer Eduardova is not so pretty outdoors as on the stage. Her pallid color, those cheekbones stretching her skin so taut that there is scarcely any movement in her face, her large nose—rising as if from a deep hollow—which can’t be made into a joke, like examining the hardness of its tip or grabbing it lightly by the bridge and pulling her this way and that, saying, “Well, come along now!”, her broad figure with its high waist in far too pleated skirts—who could like that?—she almost looks like one of my aunts, an elderly lady; many people’s older aunts look like that. In fact there is no compensation at all for these disadvantages in the dancer Eduardova outdoors; aside from her quite good feet, there is really nothing that might command rapture, or amazement, or even respect. And so I have very often seen Eduardova treated with an indifference that even gentlemen who were otherwise very elegant and well-mannered could not hide, although they naturally made great efforts to do so for the sake of such a well-known dancer, which, after all, Eduardova was.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

K for Kafka

One problem that we encounter while reading Kafka is that we can not mark any single line or a paragraph by the sheer merit of its brilliance, the words are simple as black and white, and sentences usually unkempt running into paragraphs and his characters going through day-light nightmares. For the first time, I was more disinterested than baffled. Gregor became an insect in the first line and Joseph K was arrested in the first sentence, what else do you expect next? After the 'main' action had happened, we are allowed to enter to a world which we dread and gaze with flicking eyes at first, and then with eyes that have recently lost their lids.

After you have roamed through and touched its pillars you have a inscrutable urge to write about this spooky building, its like a virus you want to propagate, which has been considered ill even by those who are infected by it and a word of dread is usually put into the ears of every passer by of that doomed castle. Writing about Kafka and writing about Kafka's creation sometime seem to converge at a lonely room in the same building with white walls and dark floors where Kafka made Gregor to crawl for pages, we wonder if he too had crawled on the same floor or we are all crawling while trying to climb up the white walls and falling off our weight. We wonder and wonder, and we crawl and crawl.

The most interesting thing about writing about Kafka is a dual effect you go through. Its like not getting the write word or right sentence or the right expression to express, and getting a sense of dark failure and fear ahead, and at the other moment realizing that it is what Kafka is all about. To write, to re-write, to destroy, to search and find nothing but feeling of great misery passing or a strong smell of impending danger of void and an excessive obsession to scrutinize Kafka, the scrutiny that Kafka pursued all his life with greatest zeal that borders on boredom. The world of Kafka is not weak but the inhabitants are frail and falling, not because of some crime of their own but the collective crime of being the part of all this, probably that's why we call such a rich world, dark and fearful. What we reject to be nonexistent and hyper-ugly and only tend to shamefully view from corners of eyes, Kafka see with full blown eyes, without the fear of burning them but with the fear of its dreadful existence, and thus Kafka shows us what he sees so clearly, so passionately, so solitarily. And sometimes what we consider normal and everyday, unfolds deep dangers when handed over to Kafka's pen and ink.

Being a fellow spectator with Kafka is a difficult job, much difficult than being the part of the world which, people say, Kafka has created, but, which actually exists. When you read about the characters penned by Kafka, you have a feeling that if you talk to that person he will deny every bit of it, and if you talk to him for long, probably he will accept every thing. These are the things which at times we know but never be able to put in words, and Kafka does that for us. These might be the things that can suit to anybody but we will keep denying them till our death, only if no Kafkas were ever born.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Give a moment of grief,
A handful of such moments
closely-knit, no air, no light

Make them stay here,
not a puff of smoke,
A whole pack, packed tight

Don't give an age of joy,
not even an orphan slice,
loose and earthly, very bright

Not the void of lips parting
Or an up-tight bond with destiny
just two closed eyes, no sight

May be it will work
May be it should work
Lethal, but it may be right

Don't lose your divine vision
Never stop this plight
Believe us as we do
We will always be dead quiet
and we are always here to say
Alright Alright !