Making Movies

April 30, 2012

I might start by stating the obvious, but the anticipation associated with the Oscars is massive, it’s grand and far-reaching. In fact, for a large portion of the audience, the Oscars are determinants of the finesse that a movie is made with and whether or not the makers have comprehended with indispensable clarity that art of Making Movies. While watching the 84th Annual Academy Awards, I was reminded yet again of how good- looking and well- behaved Hollywood is. This rainbow of sophistication is then whitewashed in the next flashing thought when I think about the Filmfare Awards (and of course, the limitless family of Indian Award ceremonies) and how they are akin to the mischievous third cousins of the Academy Awards. This piece, however, is not to sadden you, dear reader, of the worn out gullet that Bollywood has cultivated into. It is a little more thought-provoking as an attempt to place “entertainment” aptly in a brewing socio-economic context. And just to remind you, that is exactly how the deal is struck, the money is made worthy and the cinematic experience is deemed good or bad.

I will remember the 2012 Academy Awards as the illustrious example of the acceptance of Global Cinema. It becomes pertinent to indicate that the conglomerate of American Cinema is capable of applauding the caprice of Paris (Midnight in Paris), the colorless brightness of France (The Artist), the need to lift the face of Pakistan (Saving Face) and the humanitarian heart of Iran (A Separation).  And then to see Rahman in the Oscar Superband, almost toning Hans Zimmer’s composition, made me think that Rahman is India. Aptly, India. Sans any misrepresentation. The Oscars this year were glorious in a sense that they were more inviting, that they became unrestricted and in a way, a lot more participatory.

Complementing this is of course the fact that India has also pro-actively joined this Global milieu. Most of the Oscar nominated movies have been up in theatres. This comes as an incredible attempt to escort the Indian viewer to literally travel the distance, reach the unexplored paradise and then also be cynical about the beauty that is on offer. To my mind, the fact that an average Indian viewer feels that the money spent on a dialogue-free movie, is “worth it”, is truly is splendid leap.

Talking about no words and no color, the movies this year were clearly emerging out of a distressed nation, tackling an intensive economic slowdown. Therefore the fact that most of the Best Picture Nominees ended in a smile and few even ended in pride, qualifies as a sane analysis. So that ‘Needs Assessment’ that the maker of the movie probably did actually came in handy because the Need for a Happy Ending came at the right place and the right time. In a similar tone, The Artist also sees Jean Dujardin delve in anxiety and ‘depression’ with much ease and then rush out of that state with an almost an effortless alleviation. Are you thinking positivity and optimism?  Viola Davis walking out of the house as caretaker and maid Skeeter, has a stance of pride and satisfaction. The maids saw heaven in hell and what came to them in the end was a big fat publishing deal. Are you still thinking positivity and optimism? Even while I was watching The Descendants, I saw a family of three that stuck together to fight off the sorrow of the fourth member who was essentially, only there in spirit.

The Movie Maker of 2011 sent out a loud message and amplified it further. The volume was decided by the confidence in the person who gave birth to the idea behind the movie, the confidence that he was making the audience listen to exactly what they wanted to hear.

The Oscars this year brought together the Vintage and the Contemporary and fused them joyously. The lens was coloured as vibrantly as possible, the tear was wiped off in the end and the chair in the theatre was vacated by everyone who now had a different version of reality. I mean even for a movie that centered on Baseball (Moneyball), the director made sure that everyone in the audience who does not know the game, forgets that they do not know the game.

Hollywood displayed a strange ingenuity which clearly worked perfectly well. And, that reassurance that the guys in LA take their cinema seriously and display absolute professional propriety is just enough to know.


Raising a toast.To Change.

April 30, 2012

Raising a toast.To Change.

As I swung my vision, I felt closer to the sky. Quite literally, it was my having traveled to a much higher altitude. As thoughts pranced, I was acknowledging my refined ability to embrace change. Losing my mind in the process, yes. But being picked up and transported to several other destinations didn’t unnerve me.

In a more realistic context, its strange how each one of us has progressively become comfortable with the idea of change. And in a sea of existential muck, we’re only waiting for it to arrive.

I’m confused about the processes causing change. Whether or not its easy. Its inevitable, I know. But the causes keep shrinking at times. At other times, they’re lengthy and not as productive.


April 27, 2012

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The pictures were clicked in March 2012 while on a seven day visit to Jammu. This included Nagrota, Chanderkot, Dharmund, Arnora, Doda, Bhagwah, Bhaderwah, Jaighati, Ramgarh, Udhampur and Kud.

As an Indian Army initiative, the visit gave 16 students of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi an opportunity to research, explore and videograph various themes relevant to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. And, culminate the process with a 10-15 minute documentary which documents the theme successfully.

My attempt, called Maqsad, is a 10 minute documentary exploring the ’cause’ associated with militancy. It explores the common perceptions, as constructed primarily by the media; personal accounts of currently surrendered and apprehended militants affiliated to the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (which has been legally operating as Jamaat-ud-Dawa since 2007, renamed further as Tehreek-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool) and their families. This is complemented by a segment which attempts to consolidate the ’cause’, as directed by their respective Tanzeems.

Its debatable to say that these were rebels without a cause. And lived experiences paint a new picture which has fewer hues of red and black.

On Two Ends of my Plate

April 23, 2012

I have mastered the art of separating cabbage from the noodles. They don’t belong together. The problem with the combination is that it was created overlooking the absolutely unavoidable pre-requisite. Taste.

Why eat on an orange plate and place a yellow bowl on top? Why are the white Corelle’s, with the flower patterns on the circumference, slowly heading towards extinction?

Try laying a table before a meal. Place the right kind of cutlery. The jug of cold water. The Borosil glasses, waiting to be upturned. And withing this method, find a match.

“When you’ve won her heart, you don’t need to win every argument.” Read More


August 27, 2011

When today started, I thought I was content and happy. I woke up in the morning to the shining cheeks of a 26 year old brother who sported a pink shirt and gelled hair and I thought maybe he did that so that I would wake up with a smile on my face, amused at the consistency of his “look”. Breakfast was almost ideal. Toast, butter, omellette, ketchup, milk with chocolate horlicks. I do believe that if each day began with good food, I’d be more optimistic, on the whole.


The funny thing about a bath is that with the promise of hygiene and the associated “freshness”, you could still feel really dirty and stale. (Or is that just me?) I don’t know whether its the product used to develop a pointless lather or the fragrance of a particular shampoo or the temperature of the water or the adequacy/inadequacy of the shower spray, it really is very difficult to get a bath right. Things get worse if you have bad skin because you just don’t feel that every little speck of dirt on your body has been washed out. That way, dim lighting in a bathroom works really well. Stepping out of the bathroom into an acceptable atmosphere is of equal essence. You don’t need construction dust in your room, you don’t need too much sunlight, you don’t the blow of heat to meddle with all that toil you went through to clean yourself up. Picking a perfectly ironed piece of clothing is like after-sale service, you know, the kind that you expect your car to undergo when you send it for servicing.
Mornings are exhausting that way. More so, because I’ve slept my way through so many of them. But things are changing now and my stamina is slowly on the rise.
I’ve begun to do some volunteer work. And fortunately, its linked to music.
My dad bought these flavoured Mentos gums from Dubai and boy are they keeping me busy. I can taste Orange now even when there are no peels or nothing that matches the colour around me. Also, isn’t the thought of “feeling” a colour exciting?
My parents just came back from a vacation they took to Leh. So I was made to sit down after lunch to view the various pictures that had been clicked. And like Mehvash had said a couple of days back, a still picture clicked in Leh can never be a bad picture. You just need to go place your camera and click anything to bring glory to the frame. The colours keep changing. What an effortless way to incorporate dynamism into a life which would otherwise be hopeless and dull.
I might sound very conventional when I say that I believe in a family sitting around a table and eating a meal. When my mum was out, I was getting dinner together for 4 people. And, trust me its much easier to feed people with great palettes and a good appetite. Obviously, its easier to feed them or serve them if they’re all sitting together and enjoying. Save your moods for later, really.
I know I suck at maintaining a flow with most of my posts. I know I started out by reminding myself about how brilliant my day was when it began, how I’d long for a day to start with good breakfast and it had finally happened today. So progressively, I should have moped over how people around me decided to manipulate with my mood (not that the hormones weren’t doing a good job at that already). I forgot about all that. That’s how superfluous the mind is. Its not a watertight theory. Nothing is compartmentalized. You just need to follow the flow. Don’t swim with it. Walk by its side, waver a little. Then come back to following it. With all purposes fulfilled, I am going to go watch Larry be a nincompoop when he’s 40 plus. (Watch the Curb Your Enthusiasm if you don’t already).
Also always remember, there are people who stop talking to you. And then there are those who block their walls on Facebook. The latter is a joke. The former always happens for the good.

Maut, Jeene ke liye zaroori hai yeh!

May 17, 2011
Osama’s death has emerged to be a scavenging truth, addressing questions on the nature of his death. Whether or not, the character of a human being decides the brutality of his death, or allows others a “piece of his flesh” is a great debate. When you read articles about the astounding loyalty his multiple wives have shown towards him, both before and after his death, try and follow the age old activity of putting yourself in their shoes. I’m not trying to assert a highly absurd assumption here, but have myself received abundant clarity over what family can mean to anyone. Shield or not, the wife at the compound could very well be a committed partner in marriage, which by the way, is better, if not worse, than being in love with an asshole.
One could talk about religion in the same tone. I’m going to sound factually obscure but for more than half of the Jihad-driven population, turning against an Indian who has been inflicting “pain” on a Kashmiri Muslim in PoK, qualifies for hatred. If one separates the word “religious duty” from the meaning of Jihad, then they could very well fit into, not eating non-veg on a Tuesday, not sleeping on a bed after a death in a family, not allowing women in a crematorium and other such, irrational actions prompted by religion , and religion alone. It was Jihad which led Maulana Masood Azhar’s brother to hijack IC 814. His brain might have found adequate logic in hoping for a family re union. This emotion overtook three-fourth of his sensibility. The remaining quarter saw Jihad coming to his rescue. Incorrectly driven, but mostly in emotion.
Obviously, I’m not defending the terrorists. And I’m no Zakir Naik sitting on National Television backing inglorious crimes in the name of religion. I am not waiting for Kasab to come and tell me why he did what he did.
However, I do believe that the emotional construct of all human beings, criminals, terrorists and the innocent, is alike. While some are vigorously tampered with, others resort to more humane ways of channelising them via suitable and more importantly, non-violent mediums.
The effect is never the same. A cellphone flung in aggression and a building brought down to crumble. The cause, however, remains the same.

Pending Rent

March 17, 2011

So as a part of our one of our Papers, we’re studying Margaret Atwood’s poetry. As far as nationality is concerned, Margaret is Canadian and her poetry, along with Pablo Neruda and Derek Walcott, is categorised as the poetry of the Americas. I have to say I prefer Neruda and am becoming progressively drugged and addicted to his writings. He’s so effortlessly expressive. He’s like the Magpie, I’d want to talk to. He’s like the Magpie, I’d use to communicate with my clan. Such subtle extraordinariness in his Love Poetry.

“I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.”

(Tonight I Can Write…, Line 26)

Even in his nightmare like dilemma, he’s at ease. Even in his awkward uncertainty, is this hint of clarity. The discernment glosses over all doubt. Must read Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1924), to have a greater insight into Neruda’s indescribably smooth and effectively communicative poetry. Begin following for the same reasons. I can’t wait for Il Postino’s screening coming Wednesday. I know the admiration and the “simple liking” will quadruple.

 Atwood, is differently luring because of her convincing feminist stand on receiving equality in expression. Till now, I’ve concluded that amongst other endeavors, she wants women to be a part of the surface reality. I think the fact that there needs to be a consciously emphasized theory on “feminism”, makes her shudder. Just a personal reading. In all its oddity, reading her poems, have accelerated me to have this faint image of her. I haven’t googl-ed what she looks like. But I’m going to do it now and see if it matches. This is not physically descriptive, to say the least, but Atwood looks sensible. She looks like she’d say reasonable things and doesn’t look like the kind who’d make hollow statements to prove her insignificance.

Pardon my going off on a complete tangent, but this whole idea of measuring every tangible and visible aspect of an individual makes me want to slit someone’s active brain and lay it on the table of good looks. If your appetite is like mine, you’d probably want to hog on the brain and let all the herbal and good smelling make up kit behind.

So today in class, while everyone was busy jotting down every monosyllabic or polysyllabic word that the professor said, I was re-reading and re-re-readingThe Landlady. While reading Atwood’s poetry, one must keep in mind her incessant chant of speeding the journey of a woman, of placing her achievements at the same focal point as other gender-based accolades, of letting the talent of the woman float in her accepted swimsuit with the corresponding trunks, and not let it drown. I don’t think she’s looking for a forced excavation into a woman’s ability. In fact, she doesn’t even feel the need to establish that a woman is able and equipped. That has already been foregrounded. I think her quest is to accentuate greater acknowledgement of that talent.

The following poem is particularly interesting because if you choose, you could plunge into more relevant meanings of time and age.

The Landlady

This is the lair of the landlady

She is

a raw voice

loose in the rooms beneath me.

the continuous henyard

squabble going on below

thought in this house like

the bicker of blood through the head.

She is everywhere, intrusive as the smells

that bulge in under my doorsill;

she presides over my

meagre eating, generates

the light for eyestrain.

From her I rent my time:

she slams

my days like doors.

Nothing is mine.

and when I dream images

of daring escapes through the snow

I find myself walking

always over a vast face

which is the land-

lady’s, and wake up shouting.

She is a bulk, a knot

swollen in a space. Though I have tried

to find some way around

her, my senses

are cluttered by perception

and can’t see through her.

She stands there, a raucous fact

blocking my way:

immutable, a slab

of what is real.

solid as bacon.

The Landlady is this stock hurdle in everyone’s life. She’s like this blob of ice you’re expected to consume by sucking into it with a straw. She’s like this horrible stomach cringe, which you experience when you laugh unendingly and just can’t seem to stop.

There’s an escapist in all of us. Some of us remain in denial of this fact, while others are in a polar state of omniscience. There’s something unpleasant and unappealing about all our lives. If you’re disagreeing, you belong to the more dangerous category of remaining in denial. Snap out of it. And, encounter this unpleasantness. This Landlady is your sheet of jumbled and asymmetrically aligned words. Solve it. At least, try. Handle her. Adjust with her interference. Help her loosen up instead of tightening your own presence.

The Landlady, is an ordinary piece of bacon, she’s a part of your everyday meal, she’s the side order, she’s the sidekick to a wholesome and sumptuous exotic meal. She might be your annoying daily breakfast, but the fact is that, breakfast will always be the most important meal of the day. You got to eat it. The luxury of being seduced by the exotic meal is not your reality. It’s a one-time pleasurable experience. So alter your quest and make do with the routinely slab of bacon. It’ll fill your stomach even though your taste buds are complaining of monotony and and unwanted dry existence.

The underlying oxymoron in “…my senses are cluttered by perception is promising. Notice it. And comment on it because I want direction and clarity in my perception of it.

Who would’ve thought that the frustrated, ever curious and inevitable Landlady would be much more than the frizz in her hair!