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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Back from Home...

I visited my hometown this Diwali, technically I did not visit on Diwali because I spent Diwali in train but it was by and large a Diwali holiday. So this is a mandatory post, my hometown's little blue diary. Almost nothing changes there in a big way but with different events in place, it takes different flavors, like any other small town. This was the election (for Chairman and Ward president) time, which is mixed with Diwali, Eid and a few murders, in short the atmosphere was delightful, full of rumors and heated. At every Gali corner, there were small crowds which discussed the prospects of winning and losing, the weak and the strong grounds, logical voting equations based on caste, power and religion, and of course money, which transcends all evils. There were women discussing the women candidates on the basis of their husband's image, might and power. This is a fun time for children, this vacation they fired crackers and collected pamphlets and party paraphernalia, apart from watching Malaysia in Don (or Don in Malaysia). The old people cursed congress/BJP leaders and doctors/lawyers in the same sentence, they only talked with pride of the relatives who left them for bigger cities or for better countries, in short, those who are well settled, according to them. The atmosphere is filled with songs of two kinds, the religious and the patriotic, both kinds sung by Lata Mangeshkar. This is as high as my hometown can get.

I came back to Delhi on 26th Oct and got to know that the elections were by and large peaceful with couple of murders and few clashes. Also I took the DVD of Children of Heaven with me, most of my relatives loved it. I like that film too but as usual I became a little suspicious of the film when it was unanimously appreciated. I did a promise to my cousin to write about him on the blog. Here it goes: He is 8 years old. While talking about Rang De Basanti with him, I asked him what would have happened if the heroes were not killed towards the end, he replied "phir to film kabhi khatam nahin hoti, teen ghante se jyada koi film nahin hoti". Kill them to end the movie, a closure is required at any cost. It was such a plain verdict. He did even better to describe the cast, "Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan ki behan, aur ek foreigner ladki" !

Apart from this, there are few things that are on the discussion list to avoid the void of 'Aur batiyiye...'. One was Munnabhai and the other was Afzal's hanging, to balance the comic and tragic scales of conversations. I did a secret poll (secret because no one knew it was a poll) and got some astonishingly predictable results. Everyone liked Munnabhai (much better than Rang De Basanti) and everyone wanted Afzal to be hanged asap, some even wanted to execute all of the suspects and even the whole community. Almost all of them are quite sure about their decisions and gave examples from history to support it. As it is evident, there is little coherence between their two decisions, Gandhigiri and Hanging (Actually, one of the person added a twist in the tale by saying that Gandhi supported hanging of Bhagat Singh, he liked Munnabhai for its entertainment value and I think he was advocating hanging for the same purpose too, although big words like terrorism and patriotism sounds better). I don't like to insult my folks but they are much like rest of the world.

Adding few links. Read Arundhati Roy's take on Afzal's Hanging (Its a long one, I haven't read it fully yet) and Bhagat Singh's take on Love.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Isabelle Huppert

In an essay by English author Julian Barnes on Claude Chabrol's 1991 film Madame Bovary, he talks this about Isabelle Huppert.

Where other actresses give us a sort of pouty boredom that yet seek to flirt with the audience, Huppert offers severity, anger and an irritaion raised to the condition of nausea. She gives Emma a lucid awareness of her own condition: "She is a victim who does not behave like a victim." Huppert has a capacity to empty her face of expression in a way that both alarms and seduces; like Charles, we blunderingly want to make things right for her. And this harshness and frustuation are in place most of the way: She has the control and seeming lack of vanity to hold back her moments of full beauty to match those rare times (With Rodolphe and Leon, never with Charles) when the catching of happiness seems impossible.

I liked his description. Apart from her being the most enduring and intrepid actress, one thing that I always admire about Huppert, irrespective of the character she pays, is self-awareness (in lack of a better word). What ever she plays, a expert teacher or a homocidal post office worker, there is always an air of self awareness. She can never pass as a fool, even if she is playing one. Although she don't behave like a victim, she knows she is, quite well. Even in films like Ma mère, she courageously maintains that cold awareness of what she is, before being a mother, a prostitute. Although with her age, she might have lost that excruciating freckled innocence, but still maintains cold self-awareness that distances a viewer from her immediate pain for any quick sympathy and helps him/her to think about her character's condition. In 8 Women, which is all a campy black comedy, a satire and a parody, Huppert again plays her character with fearless cognizance. I will always remember the last act of The Piano Teacher, where the camera moves towards her face and the screen is filled with such pain and self-loathing that it hurts. Her harshness for self, grows into empathy in audiences, without her screaming for it.

Monday, October 09, 2006


No don't weep, keep your calm, lets take it as objectively as possible, these things happen. Lets not lose the temper. calm down... ya, thats better.

I want it extremely sentimental, sentimental to the point that it is laughable. There should be a made-up layer of imitation, easy to tear apart but difficult to ignore. It should seem as if I want to give them what they want but actually I don't. Is it clear. Any questions.

Put the ages in bracket. It might seem cold, but let it be. Don't manipulate with descriptive words. Don't say that young kids were brutally killed. Say 3 persons are killed at so and so place. Put the ages in bracket.

Your profile is better, slender neck even better. Keep those bones stretched out, sob slowly, drain all the emotions out of your face, just sob, slowly. Camera is not at your face. Don't think it is. Clear.

Touch her. Move slower as you proceed. Remember camera is synchronized with your actions. Your are being shot. The beginning of touch is her shoulder and you have to decide the destination as you move on. slow or fast, you have to decide. We will take only one take. Obviously you don't know the girl. For the girl there are no instruction. If she can manage, try to be as cold as possible. You can make that sound again. Louder... ok, leave it.

Slowly open that window and stare at the sun. Stand there for the while. Close the window fast, get in the sheets and stare the wall for a longer time. Don't close your eyes. Act like you are watching a movie on the wall in foreign language. You are interested but not understanding. Cover you face with the sheets. Still, no movement. Do it one more time.

We are not here to portray any reality. You are all fragments of a farce. You are all parts. Don't embarrass yourself by performing the real. Lets rebuke, but don't have any fun out of it.

Be as real as possible. As if you are living the moment. Express yourself with subtle emotions. Read the lines again. Don't overdo it. Think of a similar situation. Think and act. You look great. Any more questions.

Don't think. Just be. Emotion no. 341. Mild leg movement. Hands in hips pockets. Smile towards the end.