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

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Circle of God

Yesterday news channels were filled with two recent religious news. Sea water in Mumbai has turned sweet and in North India, Lord Ganesha and other porous deities are thirsty again. I still remember the first Milk Drinking event when I was in my hometown and everyone rushed to the temples and sewage turned white, the good ol' Ram-Rajya has come back, "jahan doodh ki nadiyaan behti thi". One of my aunt said to her relative, who claimed that Ganesha didn't drink when she offered milk, you need to offer from heart. I was really confused because I believed what my grandmother always used to say about god, "Bhaav ka bhookha, Bhaat ka naahi" (Hungry of devotion, not of rice). Sometimes I feel, believing in such miracles comes as an exercise in abidance, like the hereditary baggage of religion itself and at times I wonder the necessity of religion in our empty lives, what if there are no ceremonies when people are born or when they die, no godly sand bag to hit on, things like that.

Recently on my trip to Hampi, I saw a similar thing. Inside Virupaksha Temple, there is a circle curved out of stone and who so ever can encircle his/her hands around it, is considered Bhagyashaali (the fortunate one). When I went to see it, there was a group of women trying their luck with it. The first lady tried to cup her thumbs and index fingers to enclose the circle of divinity She did it like a magician, swiftly and thanked her gods. She was a clever lady (I think she cheated). The other ladies saw her as if she is goddess of 2 min fame and the craze to try it and be the auspicious one, gripped the other ladies. The next lady started to cup the stone circle but was not able to. Either two thumbs will move apart or the index fingers, the loose skin joining the thumb and fingers stretched out. She removed all her rings and tried again, hard as if she could squeeze the stone with two fingers.

Someone in the crowd whispered, pray to god, remember your deity. The lady who did it successfully, came to her and said your heart should be pure and should have devotion to god. Think nothing but god. Pray. The other lady closed her eyes and started praying. Her faced filled with helplessness, took deep breath with every chant to god. The ladies behind her started closing their eyes and started praying for their friend in despair. Little ones were just curious of the result. She opened her eyes with a godly grace and cupped her small palm again around the circle and tried desperately. Closed her eyes and called for god to save her. Some people standing nearby chuckled and the embarrassment grew. Now her face turned into despair as if her lord has left her.

Nevertheless in devotion, she lowered her head on the stone and thanked god again and moved away. May be next time the circle with shrink or her palms will expand or her heart will be purer. No other lady from that group touched the stone again, till the next group came by for their share of disappointment and luck. The circle carved in stone stood there, some people passed the test, some failed, it stood there as a mark, a ritual, a trial of humanity, a circle of endless conformity.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A Tale - 2

In a dark silent room of ones mind, with just enough light to see one word at a time, enough thought to form one sentence at a time, someone sits, word by word, truth is woven, the light in the room increases, the darkness is at time understood or at least acknowledged. No shouts of rhetoric will ever spoil that word of small truth, no god will ever pray for it, it will exist and it will survive. Several such pages will color a book, a picture of life might emerge, another image of life may get shattered, there is enough pain in the room and there is slight truth in that, and there is little joy in the room and there is ample truth in it. Someone sits, smells and sweats of imaginary, touches the real, sleeps on the paper and shits near by.

A written word transpires out of the living flesh, that is sure of its demise, that is sure of others demise too, it is sure that written will outlive him, even though that decaying body writes, flesh writes to raise above fleshiness, to put spirit to matter, to put some being into non-beings. Its not above anybody, it just raises onto itself. A win, a very personal success.

A thousand spoken words will not erase a single word that is written, not shout will ever blow the paper away, no book can imitate life but some will rise above it, will become portals to those silent rooms where they are written, word by word, flesh to spirit, puff of smoke to fire. No book will be greater than life but some will breathe like life. No book will ever move, but some will spread their fragrance. No book will ever speak but some will be put to tune, paper to sound. No book will ever capture the whole world, but some will capture the inexpressible. No book will change the world, but there will be some that will point to the problems and say it should be. No book will ever stop the people for interacting or expressing them but some will express and interact as no human can. No book will ever substitute any of your senses but some will become the extensions of them.

A though lying for eternity, unattended, unsaid, is there for a book to pick up, someone will pick it up and put it as it is on the paper by himself, devoid of himself.

The girl with decorated locks thought about the lie she told to the fish. There is no such book. A book that reveals all. Filled with memories of the unchained past, a love that never consummated, she took a pen and a pale paper, sat on the bare hills to fill the pages. A book may emerge, it may not. Fish of the far seas, went to the far seas, in search of the book of revelations, it found nothing, but swam the pacifics and atlantis, may be it can write something about the experiences sometime, the upstreams and downstreams of fresh water rivers, the salt of the sea, the world and its waters.

A Tale - 1

A frozen sea. Snow melts. Color changes. White to blue. Sun shines, painting yellow and sets with red smearings. Dark night, cooler than the day, quieter than the noon, slower than the dusk. Sea roars and breaks itself on shores. Life lives near by, it dies nearby too.

On the far side of the blue waters, a big boat with small people with books in little robed hands arrived, the boat was painted blue to match the sea waters, it had drawing of wild life, lofty hills to match the terrain and it had its peaceful music which didn't match the wilderness of the place it arrived. That peace obstructed the vastness of the wild, the music was no noise but no better than that. A stream of logic came with them, the sun should rise in east and should set in west, and an apple falls down. The oral truth became a written passage, more stringent, less fluent. The greens of forest, the dark greens of rocks and the colors of sea remained as they were. The truth has not changed but now it howled at them. The blue boat anchored. The little men walked on the sand with shells of gray white color, shells camouflaged to hide the pressure of foot that pressed them, the people lived there, and they died there too.

Little palms with books of wisdom touched the dirty hand of oral verity, Midas touch changed everything to words, note them down, no rote, no communication. A book opened the face of its folks, it said its art, it said its truth, and it said it's all. A garland around the neck, over the beautiful beaded breast, curved and dark, colorful flowers, was decorated. The suns of different seas saw it, changing their colors, falling in west every night without fail. A poem missed its tune, and the air missed its noise, better than the music.

A girl was asked to tie her hair because they fall too much. They spoil the cleanliness of civilization. They are decorated with flowers of the hill, the braids of locks married the words of books, the fragrance of the flower was fabricated, the smell ceased to grow, the girl rarely spoke, her hair became her identity, a mix of art and beauty, revealing some obscure truism, far from the noise of the wild. Smell, like that of the unwritten paper, is now killed by the precisely written word. It is not smelt, it written in some book, incisively, its an experience to read it, it reaches near the smelling sensation, can it ?

Sun of bigger truths now rises every day, without fail. The Gods of untied hair and oral truths have lost their noisy tune. At times, a fish from the far away sea comes to the shore, looks for the girl with untied hair, looks for the dark green of rocks. Once it made an effort to talk to a girl with a waist band of gold shining against the rocks behind that covered her deep dark navel, girl told her that fish lives in water, asked it to go back to waters and didn't answer anything about the untied past. She told the fish that whenever it sees someone with sweet voice and big ship, try to ask them about the past, there is a book which reveals it all. Fish never came back from waters, may be it read the book, could be.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Not so bad !

I saw KANK yesterday and I must write about it asap because it is one of those movies which you forget soon, and with all honesty that I can gather, I must say it is not a bad movie that I thought it would be, given the big constraints it has, it has Shahrukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee - together, its directed by Karan Johar. As in one of the interviews, I heard SRK saying that it is Karan's most mature effort. Actually it is, and the most honest too. This honesty at times tips the movie to the other side which Karan Johar may not have even desired. Those of us who have seen Karan Johar movies (or its types) know that they are shot with excesses, everything is much more than required, the great Indian family throbs in every frame, love is too pure to handle, movie runs for hours, SRK overacts, every frames is lush green or blood red - color coded, excesses everywhere, and when it come to what we call substance, they have passionate confessions of love to parents or lovers and excessively choreographed songs. There is no denying that KANK has it all. We also know that a Karan Johar film is a cliché extended for hours. Given all that the question may become how well rounded the cliché is, but it is also not the case. So when I say KANK is not bad, what I want to say.

First of all, KANK has some decent performances, mainly Preity and Abhishek, it may not make the film any good but balance the Rani Mukherjee tear tub drill. I stopped hating (that doesn't mean that there is any love) SRK after Swades and here too amidst all the mandatory overacting, he gives moments, and more than that he is not a god here, he is ordinary man, a bit abnormal too and people may say (as the girls sitting behind me said), he is a loser, and he remains so till that supposedly happy ending. And here comes that honesty bit I was talking to before, to show his lover such a loser, bad tempered soul, KJ shows great courage. Perpetually irritated SRK is an opposite to his good old charms that irrirated us for years. KJ does suffer from Substance Syndrome, but at times he delivers too on a commercial scale. There is another bit about this honesty part, the spouses are not only shown loving their partners but their sides are presented equally, if not well. Actually when Preity Zinta slaps SRK (yes, she do), the whole theatre burst into clapping, this might not be the response KJ expected. Actually KANK puts Abhishek and Priety's arguments against the monumental Chopra's hogwash of love, reason against emotions, and in an unintentional, almost self destructive way, puts that evertrusted love in despair of disbelief, even KJ's reel romance looks anti-romantic, although in the later part of the movie, director tries to undo the damage but fortunately it was too late by then.

Apart from some good jokes that go to Abhishek, the humor is KJ types, lot of butt jokes and toilet sort of humor, its cheap but it works for me. At one point SRK's character even says something like "cheap is good', I totally loved the scene following it, it's cheap and done is bad taste, but it works for me. Actually, these are not the things that pain me in KJ type movies, its their smugness on paper-thin wisdom that kills me. 2/3rd of KANK is manageable in that respect; it has its paper thin wisdom but not so much of smugness. Its the last third where Rani Mukherjee starts to cry to dehydration and director starts giving her every filmic toy to console, the film drags and drags and at last SRK and Rani weep together (Rani's cry is inducive) and the film eventually ends. Is this film really a mature film, yes, for KJ, its really so. It is naive if one says that it shows honest efforts of saving marriages, but it does work to some extent if one says that it shows such efforts fail, surprisingly so.