Wednesday, June 22, 2005

B & B & B

Yeh world hai na world, there are two types of people in it. One who love watching mad caper movies and spend money doing so and the other, who love making such movies and also end up making a lot of money out of it. As you can imagine, the smart ones are those who move from the first category to the second category.

After a long time, I gotta watch a real no-brainer with an entertainment value totally worth the money. Right outside Rex cinema (where I watched the movie), I can imagine a box saying, "Please leave your brains here before you go ahead and watch the movie". As the credits start rolling and you see the Biggest B rapping by waving his hands Eminemsque, you know what to expect out of the movie. Whatever initial doubts you might have about this movie being an emotional drama seeing the first confrontation between Baby B and Babbar (another B) is quickly put to rest once Rani mukerjee makes a tongue in cheek remark at Kareena on screen.

And from then on, for a long time to come, the movie moves like a music video. Every con job they accomplish is shown in glimpses between songs that are belted out in quick succession (though no one is complaining because they are really hummable numbers). And then enters Big B, who's now perfecting the art of playing a whacko (The scene where B swears that he will catch both Bs and shoots the glass pane is so 70ish, you almost hear kitne aadmi te kalia in the background!)

On the scales of creativity, the film is a lowly 3 on 10 - None of the con jobs are creative; even the romantic scenes lack imagination; the characters are quite two dimensional and the situations et emotions cliched. But what makes the canvas come alive is the amazing chemistry between the small ~B and the only non-B (the bubbly babli). They light up the screen like a khan and a ~K did a decade ago. They have an amazing repertoire of expressions which will leave you in splits even before a word is uttered (watch out Junior B's expression in the climax). Abhishek is good, no denying that. The woodenness of his face and movements is still there but has reduced substantially. He exudes confidence on screen and personifies mischief. There's not much acting that he's forced to do and that suits him fine. But, it's Rani who steals the show right from under his nose. She's so adorable (even with those extra pounds that she's put on) and lingers on the screen even after the lights are off.

Everyone involved in the movie has been stressing the point that the movie is a tribute to the 70s bollywood. Thankfully they did. Of course, one can spot the sholay link when b & b wear identical costumes and ride the bike doing the same antics as "Yeh dosti hum nahin ...". But if the tacky sets for the scenes in the train were in any way a tribute to the movies of the yesteryears - the only way they could have made it obvious was by placing subtitles explaining their intention. The one guy sitting next to me was wondering aloud why YashRaj films was trying to save money by putting up sets like these for the simplest of scenes (I am still not sure if it's any cheaper but I could understand why he thought so. Tacky is the word!).

The music is awesome; really peppy - Just the kind of songs that make even the dullest of assignments at work worth working on. And yeah, Aishwarya rai - I loved her (though ~M didn't). It was then I realized that 5 minutes is exactly the amount of time she can be on screen without letting it dawn on you how fake she actually is.

In summary, Bunty aur Babli could have been a helluva good movie with a little more thought. But the way it is, is still a good paisa vasool (God! I sound so much like those guys whose reviews I hate to read!).

Monday, June 20, 2005

Epiphany at midnight

Somewhere around midnight, on the bus to chennai did this epiphany strike me - a vague analogy that I have taken a fancy to. About how life is so much like poetry. I have been trying it to put it down to words. But somehow, what I want to say is getting lost in translation :(

Let me try ... again.

Poetry is probably one of the most all-encompassing work of art - be it in form or substance. And if one were to map poetry in the axes of structure and substance, we end up with a two by two matrix with the following squares.

Structure Major and Substance minor

A poem that is written by the book - with rhyming last words, the right beat and oxford's chosen words for public etiquette. The words bounce on and off like a nursery rhyme and proud mothers would read them out to tea time friends. These poems don't search for a greater truth, nor define an epoch. They are daily observations, travel diaries and corner jokes.

Like so many middle class lives which are lived by the book. There's a fixed template for every life - as to how someone should be named, nicknamed, the school he should go to, the engineering or medical degrees he has to get, the age has to get married in, the house he has to build, the children he has to tend. Hundreds of millions of people can live their life adhering to this template, this rhyme and rhythm and not even once bother about the purpose of all of it. about a greater truth, about how far this rabbit hole can go. I envy the bliss of ignorance these people bask in - and trust me, everyone around them is completely content and happy with this life. Like my mom was with my poems in sixth standard - innocous, rhyming and look-my-son-can-write statement of pride.

Structure minor and Substance Major

Go back to all the songs that linger, all the words that sting and all the metaphors that haunt you and make you think - lines beyond rules, driven by this burning desire to express something that's so stifling, so strong, so overpowering that existence stops and starts again with every punctuation. A form of art where structure is considered a constraint, a useless wall in the way of a gushing stream of thought.

And so many lives that come to my mind that fight tooth nail with these questions and answers all their lives; Lives that search for a purpose; Lives that find the norms of the society, the trends of the pseudos suicidal; Lives that hurt themselves and scream in pain not out of a masochistic drive, but because the void that fills them is much more painful than the scars and wounds

Lives that went wasted and destroyed because there was no place to go, nowhere to begin, nowhere to end. Lines that rambled and shrunk into a huge, decisive dot before they could end, before they could say what they wanted to. Lives that flew beyond infinity for they lacked the one thing they couldn't live with - Structure.

Structure minor and substance minor

Poems that were too lazy to conform, and too shallow to have any truths to confirm. Poems that are devoid of structure because it's hip, because it's a transcendental trip, because it's a whole lot of gibberish that no one can relate to and hence question. Poems that can fake the style, quote the lines, choose the words from the 16th century dictionary but can never infuse the soul, the pain painted in the abyss of the eyes. Poems, people, that never go anywhere, say anything, and never even wanted to.

Structure major and Substance major

And those that know how far this rabbit hole goes, how futile every breathing moment is, how all these words by themselves form a paper palace waiting to be destroyed by the next whiff of thought. How without purpose, this huge edifice (structure) is such a collossal waste of time and lives (not just yours but many more). But still hold onto it, work within it and make every moment count because that's all they have got.

Lives that are grounded by reality - at least a part of it that they choose as indispensable, inevitable. Lives that have realized (knowingly or unknowingly) but still don't use it as an excuse to fly away, to escape. Lives that don't abhor life for its emptiness but spend a lifetime trying to make it count. Trying to touch lives. A lifetime of tightrope walking where you take turns to question either ends - the structure or the purpose - wondering if all this is worth it, but go on in the hope that in the end, when everything's over, you have at least said a few words that count, done a few deeds that matter or left a thought in the wind for some soul to sense.

I don't know if I am making any sense to you :) But, that's all I gotta say about Life and poetry.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A quick update and I am gone!

I have been quite haphazard with my blogging habits in the last two months - blame it on the increasing sense of responsibility at work or other endeavours that have been taking my time :) Anyways, my server's starting right now, which gives me enough time for a quick post before I get back to work.

I have ranted enough and more about the play now. One last time and then, Closure :)

The play went well. We had a sellout crowd three out of four days (rain spoilt the plans on thursday) and the general feedback seems to say that people enjoyed the show. We had some glowing reviews in Indian express (and one in another newspaper I am not sure I can mention, that never saw the light of the day). What we are very happy about it is, out of the three plays everyone had their own personal favorites and all three seem to be equally popular.

A personal thank you (so much!) to all of you who could make it to the play. You were a fantastic audience to peform to. Thanks so much once again!

Personally, my parents gave me a very pleasant surprise by coming down to bangalore without prior notice to watch their son on stage (after 8-9 years). Kickass it was :) And you know the entire experience is complete when, the lights are off and stage is dismantled,you feel a sense of belonging not just towards the set and the masks but towards every soul that you held hands with during the last three months.

Back to work now - Super ted has been working like crazy since the beginning of this week. Super ted logged thirteen hours yesterday in a desperate attempt to save humanity from close encounters of the third kind. And guess what, Super ted's lovin' it. Off to chennai tonight after exactly three months - A very very special person is leaving for the US after a wonderful wedding in tirunelveli and these are occasions one shouldn't miss.

And my blog's celebrating its birthday 2 weeks from now and I am pretty kicked about it too :) Chalo. will get back to work now.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I have been tagged

I have been tagged! I am not sure how this works exactly. But from what I could gather, here's a list of books that I am

Currently reading
  • Searching for certainty - John L Casti
  • Bono on Bono
Just Finished (in the last one month)
  • Fermat's last theorem
  • Alchemy of Desire
  • One hundred years of Solitude
On the list to read
  • Jim Morrison's biography
  • Sidhartha - Herman Hess
  • Brave new world - Aldous huxley
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Orchid thief (the book, the movie "Adaptation" is based on)
  • Swami and Friends - RK Narayan
Favorite books (not in any order)
  • Fountainhead - Ayn rand
  • Animal Farm - George Orwell
  • To kill a mockingbird - Harper Lee
  • Green Mile - Stephan King
  • Alchemy of desire - Tarun Tejpal
  • Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Captain Corelli's mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
  • India Unbound - Gurcharan Das
  • Games people play - Eric Berne
  • The Goal - Elijah Goldhardt
  • Godfather - Mario Puzo
  • Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
  • Dark Nature - Lyall Watson
... and probably lots more that I can't remember now.
The ones I tag are people who aren't blogging actively during the recent past. Yet, are three people with a lovely taste in terms of books.

Strayed moment - 4

11 June 2005
11:00 am

An open window in the extreme left corner of the hall letting in a lone ray of light. An unused piano hiding under a velvet veil. A forlon stage. Empty seats. Lots of souls. When the chatter stops and lights are dimmed, when the makeup is off and the actors are asleep, the voices start talking. I truly believe, anyone who enters a hall leaves a part of his soul there for the rest of eternity. Be it an actor who crucifies his soul every evening for the rest of them to watch; is born and dead like a firefly which shines and dies within a blink of an eye. Or the audience who laugh, smile and cry with him; leave a baggage that they brought along and take back fresh ones. And forever these baggages live there unclaimed within those four walls.

And on lazy saturday mornings, when you slip in while no one's watching, take your seat next to the lone window and the unused piano, you watch them perform and you realize that you are a part of something that so much bigger than what you are; that when you are there on stage performing, it's not just you that the audience hears, it's all the voices that perform with you, revel with you in the bliss of glitz. That you are just a puppet with just a part of your soul to offer - a tiny indiscernible pixel in the canvas of perfection that the audience appreciates. Another subatomic soul that shall forever live between those walls.

Just another pixel.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Strayed moment - 6

12th June 2005
5:30 pm

I am not sure if it was my mom or my cousin Manu who woke me up - For a second, I had no idea where I was or what time of the day it was. I sleepwalked into the drawing room and sat there half sleep, the voices of my parents like an endless, indecipherable drone playing into my ears. I was trying to recollect a dream I was having, about something I had to do as a part of the play making process but didn't. I remember having the dream over and over again all through the two hours I had slept. But I couldn't place my finger on the exact details and was dissecting every moment in my mind to spot the link.

And that was when it stuck me that it was all over. Not like a jolt or an emotional upheaval. But like prick of a needle on numb limbs - a state where one can watch one's own blood trickle without any pain or horror. The last four months of my life ran like a black and white mute movie before my eyes. flash. snap. flash. darkness. smell. touch. smile. sweat. lights. sounds. applause... Silence. I closed my eyes and suddenly could feel the small drawing room closing into me, the indecipherable sounds becoming a pounding beat - I shrunk into a little dot inhaling stale air, gasping for breath feeling utterly claustrophobic. I rushed out of the house, into busy roads and bustling shops, into chaos, into anonymity and lost myself there.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Memoirs of rain - Part I

I am not sure how old I exactly was - must have been in my early teens or on the verge of it. I remember the khaki half trousers, the white shirt and the orange badge, the red color backpacker that didn't stay with me for long. I remember it to be a november evening, close to 5:30. I remember our school clearly and the bus stop opposite to it. I remember the deserted road that evening that was being belted by rain incessantly. I remember the two (or was it three?) boys, one of them very clearly, who were with me. We were waiting for quite sometime for the rain to stop. But it looked like that was not going to happen - You should have seen it rain in Madras to know what I am talking about. The tempestous rains have a touch of armageddon to it. Anyway, in this fine evening in question, when it was raining like there was no tomorrow - we decided to leave together and I, as usual, was supposed to tag along in someone's cycle. As I was coming out through the huge blue gate with only a polyethene sheet for cover, the rest of them got onto their bikes and told me that they will wait on the opposite side of the road. I said yes, looked back to see if the door was closed and turned around to find all of them gone. Vanished in thin air! Through the veil of rain water I could see some white and khaki specks cycling for life. I was too numb to even react - I had no money for the bus (some change wouldn't have changed anything coz there were no buses running); there were no phones at home; my house was a 25 minute walk from school on a sunny, peppy day and all I had was a flimsy polyethene cover.

Left with no other choice, I started to walk. I couldn't see straight because knives were materializing from thin air and slitting my skin. My jaws were doing rock and roll and my knees were giving away. Every inch of my academic paraphernalia was wet and the polyethene sheet was plastered to my head. I reached half way after about half an hour after which someone in the road shouted me for walking in the rain and dragged me under a tree. By divine provedence, my dad came searching for me and found me under an obsure tree amidst all the haze. He later told me the only thing that saved me from his anger was that I was white as a sheet when he spotted me. He said I looked scared - far from it, that was most the exhilirating walk of my life. There's something so liberating about walking in the rain, about the touch of rain water on your skin - makes you feel free, adventurous, more alive than ever - an inexplicable excitement that can only be felt. And that too - not those sulky, two cent showers, but real rain - the rain that will one day mark the end of this world.

Since then - I have been doing it everytime. During those rare chances in pilani while the whole insti waits in the corridors of FD-II, I walk out feeling like the king of the world. That one time during PS-1 while I got out of a running bus in mount road to get drenched in the rain for sometime and realized my blunder only when I walked like a duck, leaving a trail of rain water on the floors of the bank. And during those few uninteresting rains, fascinating snow falls and fatal hail storms.

And day before yesterday.

(Will be Continued ....)

Friday, June 03, 2005

Play Updates

Just a few updates from the play side
  • We are selling tickets tomorrow at Tunbridge High school from 10 o clock in the morning to about 8 in the night. The school is on infantry road (the first building on the road) and is right opposite to Safina plaza. So, please drop in anytime to buy the tickets.
  • A quick favor - if it's not too much of a trouble, can you please post a copy of the Curtain raiser of the three plays (present in the same page) in your office bulletin boards or forward it to your friends in bangalore. Even if you are not able to make it personally, you will get the goodwill of a lot of souls by passing the word of mouth :) Thanks so much in advance!

Conk week

It’s been a long time since I enjoyed this luxury – sitting in a corner seat in barrista, with a lap top on, waiting for a cup of coffee. The day finished early today, which is funny because we have so many more things to do. It’s raining cats and dogs in Bangalore – the monsoon is out with a vengeance wrecking our sets every evening.

Yeah. I miss my glasses. I so miss them that till today I never realized how much I have become dependent on them. Every once in a while, when I am at home, I spend about five minutes searching for where I left them. My hands reach for the bridge of my nose as I work to help myself think well. It takes me an instant, when I stare at myself in the mirror, to realize I don’t have my glasses on.

And what a way to lose it! One fine day, super ted was rushing for a meeting, running inside his mind, his first words and a firm handshake. So engrossed was he that he literally walked into a glass door, that was so clean that it looked non-existent. His glasses took the brunt of the hit, split into two, scarred his face and left a nerve on his temple swollen making him feel like a squint. Since then, super ted has been walking around like our 60 year old tinu mama, narrowing his eyes to give some shape to the haziness around him, and staring hard into his computer screen the whole day to make sense out of hazy little curves, sitting on screen in a straight line.

What’s frustrating is how insecure lack of glasses makes me feel. The fact that I can’t see clearly somehow dulls my entire outlook towards a day in the morning. I have stopped reading; I don’t recognize people until they are at arm’s length, giving my worst dumb-and-dumber smile every time I go through the “Oh-It’s-you” epiphany just before they are going to walk past me. And much to the amusement of the security guard, every time I enter or leave the building, I grope for the door like a blind man, even when I am absolutely sure the door is open. Can’t imagine myself getting hit again!

It’s been a funny week though – first my glasses. Day before yesterday, I got drenched so badly that my mobile conked off and started acting weird. I can scroll up the address book but not down; I can receive a call but never cut it; The keys for 0 and 9 don’t work and if ever my mobile key pad gets locked, I can’t unlock it without dismantling it and putting it back together again! No – Please don’t knock my door requesting me to sell such a master piece. I am not entertaining any buyers!

Ok. Let me go get some sleep now. This is the only part of the day that I see clearly now – my dreams!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Alchemy of Desire

You know you have read an amazing book when, once you have read the last page, the last word and the syllable, you feel it's complete. Some like the feeling of being left there in the vacuum, the suspension suddenly removed leaving them grappling with the reality all of a sudden. I don't - I love the feeling of emotional closure when my senses, my imagination and my curiosity are satiated; where the emotional high is not a moment but a state that you revel in for sometime, sometimes for a long time; That moment in a quiet room when I close my eyes and feel the book sinking into me, into my very being, my creativity, thought process and into my every form of expression. I felt it day before yesterday.

Alchemy of Desire.

I have been dissecting the book in my head for the last two days trying to understand why I liked the book so much. I have always believed that a novel is in the end about saying a story - a plot that stands on top characters you can distinguish, connect to and cry or smile with. This book has a super wafer thin plot - like two cameras 50 years apart taking turns to showcase life as it is, in a 2x fast forward mode. Life that's as predictable as a walk to the bathroom on the dullest days of the month. Fizz is the only character that stays in mind while the rest are just a blip in the radar. So, plot can't be it.

Style? To a large extent Yes. Refreshingly original - be it the metaphors, the similies, the expletives and the exaggerations. The choice of tone, language and expletives is strictly defined by the mood and the impact and not by any effort to rhyme or rhapsodize. Disjoint phrases, Trailing sentences, sometimes just words say so much more than long winding sentences that refuse to end (like the ones in my blog). One word and you understand the subtlest of emotions that traveled all the way to the nib of the pen from the abyss of the heart.

Sex? As the author says in the beginning of the book, Sex is the strongest bond - I am sure the spending front benchers, the showering dhupias and thriving bhatt barons will vouch for that. Sex is the prose, punctuation and raison d'être of the book. Every detail, every form and style (pre-marital, marital, intellectual, self love, homosexuality) is described in vivid detail. But for the first time - I found truth in the argument of sex as a work of art. The prose reflects a man who not only is comfortable writing about it, but also living with it - and experiencing it as any other emotion like happiness, thrill or pain without distorting it into a forbidden fruit adorned in gaudy lights weighed down by the cultural, moral, and religious dues. Of course, after sometime one gets the feeling that, no pun intended, sex does suffer from overexposure by a wee bit.

Love? As the characters exit, the style blurs and the sex rises, falls, whimpers, whispers and lies there wistfully what binds them all together is love. Love that expresses itself through every stroke of the pen, every pore in the paper - love so real and so complete that you can touch the sheets and feel it in your soul. Fizz (or Fiza) is not just a character - She becomes that one person who wished you had met, the one who left a heart shaped hole in your life, touched you for an instant and found a place in your heart for a lifetime or for the few lucky ones, is the one they wake up next to everyday and find true happiness watching her sleep like a child.

Sex is not the strongest bond. Love is - And Alchemy of desire is a standing proof - a very well written, touching proof at that.