White noise is a random signal (or process) with a flat power spectral density. In other words, the signal's power spectral density has equal power in any band, at any center frequency, having a given bandwidth. White noise is considered analogous to white light which contains all frequencies.

Who am I?

Neo-hippie cinephile. Follower of the great Jim Morrison who once said "If the doors of perception are cleansed, everything would appear to man as it truly is, infinite."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Heart to Heart

This is based on the following scene from Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket. Of course, completely, different scenario.


Anthony and Mr. Henry are jogging along railroad tracks in
the warehouse district. Anthony wears a blue T-shirt and
shorts. Mr. Henry looks like a boxer in grey sweats with the
hood up and a crisp white towel wrapped around his neck and
tucked into his sweat top. He's wearing black Chuck Taylors.
They've both got smooth running styles, though every twenty
yards or so Mr. Henry rolls his shoulders and gives a quick
flurry of punches. An older woman rides a bicycle across the
tracks. She's not pretty, but she's got a strong face.
Pioneer stock.

Look at that woman. She's what?
Fifty? Fifty-five? But she hasn't
let herself go. I appreciate an
older woman who has a commitment to
her body.

So do I.

They watch her ride down the street.

Tell me something. What the hell
kind of name is Dignan?

I'm not really sure. I think it's
Irish. Or maybe --

I guess what I'm trying to say is
what the hell kind of person is
this Dignan?

What do you mean what kind of
person? He's a good person.

Sure, sure. He's a great person,
and I'd call bullshit on anybody
who said differently. But I wonder
if the kid has the goods
(taps his temple)
up here.
(long pause)
I don't think you're giving him
enough credit. I know sometimes he
doesn't think an idea through. He
gets too excited. But --

As far as I can tell he hasn't
thought his life through. He'd be
fine cutting my grass or parking my
car. But business?
(looks at Anthony)
You I can work with. You I could
groom. Dignan's not going to make it.

Anthony stops running. Mr. Henry stops ahead of him and
looks back, jogging in place.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Floydian Joker

The Lunatic is in my head. The Lunatic is in my head. That's probably why I want to do a little short about the Joker with Brain Damage playing in the background. It all started a week or so ago when I chanced upon Brain Damage on the radio. It was love at first, well, sound. Didn't know the song was called Brain Damage. Had to send a Morse Code across the Atlantic to Red and he helped with the name armed with only some amorphous information as words like "the lunatic" and "grass". Have been listening to it since then, trying to make sense of it.

Fast forward to the day after Halloween. The New York Film Academy grapevine had it that one of the acting students who I have worked with twice in the past already dressed up as the Joker and did a damn good job of it. Our next assignment is the Mood Film, where the story isn't really important and one needs to set the mood using the camera (visual stuff and all). To use an analogy I heard again recently, 2 times 2 times 2 made 16 in my head.

I don't have a script yet, but I have the actor booked with makeup and wardrobe for next week. The music is locked. All I need to do is figure out what the Joker will be doing. Torturing a little insect like an ant with fire is what I initially had in mind, but looking for an ant seems too trivial and flippant at the moment. Plus, it itches like a bitch when they get helpless and bite your giant fingers.

Friday, October 03, 2008

"Expecting to Fly" - A Mujik Bhideo (Updated)

This is the updated video. I discovered there was something wrong with the music in an important part of the last version.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The First Day of October

I am tired. Got home at 11:30 to a cold, frozen dinner, hearing the refrigerator's song after 14 hours. You see this is Hollywood and everyone has talent here. Our refrigerator is no different. So, she tries her hand, or should I say, voice, at singing once in a while at frequencies only attainable by her kind, especially, when the rest of the house sleeps. Shyness and these amateurs, I tell you! I am sure if we had a dog like the rest of the neighbors, it would dance to her song. Whatamadhouse, as if the tenants themselves are pinnacles of sanity!

But but but, I am not unhappy. I am tired yes, but hunger didn't distract me as I realized everyone else had left the editing lab as I was trying to sync up my actors' griefs to Buffalo Springfield's "Expecting to Fly". The music video should be ready tomorrow. I am finally making this mockumentary that I had wanted to make for a long time, albeit with a few tweaks, mainly from the perspective of the Balaji character. They are all American of course - Stan Garibaldi. B&W, no dialog; only voice over are posing minor challenges, but will soon be ironed out. Almost went to Vegas tonight. This other crew from my class is planning to shoot the next one there. So they went location hunting and I was to tag along with the blissfully calm aloofness of a hitchhiking vagabond. My impulsiveness almost paid off but my well-known inherent laziness could not pass up on the huge bait to sleep in late tomorrow.

I taught my American crew member this dialog (obviously in its original angry young version) today, and even he agreed the original sounded way cooler than the translation. I think I miss those you know. Having that someone who is still bound by that invisible umbilical cord. The desi theater is only 30 minutes away, but without a Shotgun occupant, it seems farther away and I haven't gone for a while now. I was craving Indian food the other day. It's been almost a month and even here, in the US which boasts of "Authentic Indian Cuisine" at every intersection, that is strange. So, my new gluttonous friends and I are checking out the lunch buffet at the Bollywood Cafe 2 on the only Sunday off since the first weekend.

Saw Kairee by mistake yesterday and somewhat quelled my fears of Amol Palekar's directorial skills after Paheli. SuGu had recommended Shwas to me and the name somehow got mixed up in the cobwebs of my mind along with juvenile characters in both movies. I really recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the so-called parallel cinema movement. Also, saw the well made Dylan biography - I'm Not There where 6 different actors play Dylan, portraying the different phases of his life. Cate Blanchett as the Dylan who visited the UK with the Beatles was awesome. I think I got 70-80% of the movie, which in itself is a decent achievement, considering the complexity of Dylan's enigma that loomed large on the extremities of the American psyche, like a hang over two days later, for around four decades, inspiring the last post on consumerism. Reading Walter Murch's "In the Blink of an Eye" - recommended by my editing teacher, who looks like John Cussack and talks like Conan O'Brien. Murch is probably history's best editor (Dulal Dutta was unassumingly up there). He edited such Copolla masterpieces as the second and third Godfathers and my all time favorite film Apocalypse Now. He started out as a Sound Designer (as well as Editor) of the critically acclaimed Gene Hackma-Copolla project 'The Conversation'. Interesting stuff. Trying to incorporate it as much as I can in my work in order to enhance the overall quality, but I guess you'll have to be the judge of that.

Till next time ...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We Shall Overcome

Have the robots won? Have the worst fears of crazed, paranoid Sci-Fi writers come true? Are we shielded from the good ole' organic truth? Or has the unreal simply been enlarged and "enhanced" so that it is a giant in comparison. No? Then why is the natural stuff hidden somewhere in a little corner among the neon signs. Hah! It's almost ironically poetic - like some archaic pot of gold in an ancient fable that you have to go through at least a couple of hundred pages before you discover lying, waiting for you to sample and brand as the elixir of life, thus doing nothing, but playing into the mechanical hands of those very robots, that has turned your existence into a quest.

Or are there short, pudgy, red, sweaty fingers that are pulling lesser fingers to pull cables on those mechanical arms - kind of like the Godfather poster, but not as subtle and not as well back lit? You can't cut them off since that would only force them to multiple. Asexual reproduction I am sure. Machines, or even fingers that control them are not capable of love you offer yourself as consolation. But maybe, they have bought out the subtly as well. Artists need to drink too.

Don't give me any of that world hunger crap! If you think these fingers care about that sort of thing deep down inside, depression will drown me. You are a brother - albeit a sleeping one, blissfully unaware of mechanical arms, wallowing in your Utopian dream sets. Heck these arms have a hand in our dreams too nowadays. Even Bobby D would agree that is meddling of the worst kind. And like most sleeping young things, you are beautiful and we are ugly, but beauty is the last thing on our priority list at the moment.

We will not bow down without a fight. We will fight from our dark corners, wide awake that we are, and be the change we want to see in the world. We will wake you up with our darkness so that you may help us prepare a tomorrow as pure as the new, young sleeping things that will arrive unannounced. Maybe I will not live to see it happen, but as Pete Seeger said, "We shall overcome some day".

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Helping Hand

The theme was exchange and it had to be silent and B&W. Shot this in an hour and a half.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hitting the Nail on the Head

Why do nails grow as fast as they do? I mean how much can one's teeth take, right? And those of you prim and (sic) propah ones don't give me that crap about it being bad manners and all. I think it is a sign of a thinking being. If I had my way, I would recast The Thinker to portray him biting his nails. It's almost as if Rodin (according to Wiki) wanted to do it that way (notice how his fingers curl towards his mouth), but then the purists threatened to start burning his effigies and declare his wife a witch or something and for the sake of martial bliss, The Thinker is what it is today.

If only the same applied to hair! Yeah, yeah, I know, those of you who have hair growing out of the middle of your foreheads and shampoo everyday and shake your mane in slow motion like some newbie, eager-to-impress shampoo model, every time you go into an inhabited room, tell me how expensive barber shops have become these days, but I would rather be poor and good-lucking than well, whatever the opposite of that is.

Don't base your image of me from the now infamous cult Mimicry video. That seems (sic) light years away at this point in time. I had an extreme haircut soon after and have had plenty of shaves since then. As a result of the uniformity of the extreme haircut in all directions, hair is now growing out of the sides like spaghetti out of the dish of some overestimating Italian housewife when she calls guests over. A hat (cap for all you British English freaks) makes me think I possess the curls of a Greek God (not the European ones, but American fraternity brothers), and then I need to start biting my nails again, to appear more intellectual (scratch the more).

A simple question for all my nail "biting" (notwithstanding the content of this blog on most occasions) readers out there? Is it just me, or do all/some of you love to nibble on the area where the skin transforms into nail. I assume it's a lot like visiting Kanyakumari (which by the way is a super sexy name; I always envision a lady with a dark Mermaid-type body, with luscious lips and a South Indian accent when I hear the name) - the southern most point of India - you just wished you could go further (no vulgar pun intended, only the clean type in this case).

At most times, I am blamed and subsequently reprimanded (yeah yeah even now, just the people have changed from one generation of family elders to the next and now to Ms. R) for something as blase (I don't' know how to get the accented 'e' on Macs and I am too lazy to look around) and general as "biting your fingers" when in fact, I am striving for a bit more in Kanyakumari (again, only the clean type of pun intended) or just stoking my "exploristic" ego by caressing my naturally manicured nails with the edge of my teeth. Think about it. It is like taking your greater sensitive index finger and actually going over the borders of the Deccan Plateau on a 3-D terrain map of India. Actually, when people say they need some alone time, or for the pinker ones "me time", I suspect they just want to, yes, touch themselves, but only on the ridge of their teeth.

I will leave you with a question that I am sure will shape your nails and file them too. If Columbus or Magellan had ever been stopped in their tracks such, do you think GPS companies would be naming their products after these guys today?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Too Saggy

They say sequels suck and there are popular exceptions of course like Godfather (though personally I liked Part 3 more than Part 2 overall) and more recently, the new Batman movies (isn't it lame that most of my comparisons are cinema related? Oh well, that's what you get for hanging out in this blog for too long!). Unfortunately, Upamanyu Chatterjee's "The Mammaries of the Welfare State" is not in that clique.

The title in itself sums up its digression from the first novel. It is too wordy when compared to "English August" and has vast passages on the Welfare State that made me drowsy, which may have been Chatterjee's intention to begin with, but such portions of the book are not interesting reads. My unabated obsession with the first book stems from the fact that it was a lot more personal, with the spotlight almost always on Agastya, or his friends, whereas here that is hardly the case. The book starts out wonderfully however, dedicating a chapter to our incorrigible protagonist and the blooming of an interesting love affair, but soon delves headfirst into the matters of the state.

The entire book is a lesson in satire writing and has its brilliant moments, mostly connected with Agastya or his new horrific boss, and the very relatable nickname gifting to his boss and his Home "ministry", or his attitude towards a venerable senior's marriage proposal of his daughter. Some of his equally incorrigible friends like Dhrubo and the hardly utopian Madna are back but are lost in the crowd of a bevy of new set of loony characters. I missed Sathe from the first book.

An August (or Chatterjee, so to speak) fanatic like me shouldn't miss out on this one. It's just that it may take you much longer to finish this than "English August" and you may find yourself wandering away to other levels as you read this, much like Agastya daydreaming through some dormant gorment meeting. I will obviously read the third book of the trilogy - "Weight Loss" to find out what happens to my dear August as he gets even older, but it will have to wait for a while.

PS: I haven't seen Dev Benegal's movie "English August" with a cleanshaven Rahul Bose made circa '93-'94, but if I had to make it today, I would cast Kunal Kapoor.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I am here and LA reminds me a lot of Bombay - the evil skyscrapers still leaving a piece of the sky to reach out to, the horrendous traffic, the proximity to the ocean and yet miles away from it, hell even the weather and of course the film industry with its beautiful people, and not that beautiful on the inside crap that beauty contest winners subscribe to, but pure physical charm that you can get a front seat view of at any Starbucks or participating locations: "Hello. Give me all your money for a 'tall' analgesic (no pun intended) and a chocolate dipped atom and feast your eyes on your beautiful fellow suckers."

Almost all Indian restaurants in the area are owned by Bangladeshis. They lure you in with names like Madhuban Tandav or something very creative like Bollywood Cafe 1 and Bollywood Cafe 2. You go in expecting some obscene non-eastern Indian accent and then they buflax you with their eastern charm. The food's a wee bit pricey, but simple, non-rich and yet tasty. The W would have freaked out here, in a good way.

I am shooting my "mis-en-scene" this weekend. I was thinking of being the high fart intellectual and leaving it at that and letting you guys figure it out using Wiki, and then I felt sorry and I like to reward loyalty (some of you have been reading this junk for a while), but then a college buddy just messaged me from seven seas away and since he knows me longer, he takes priority. Plus, Agastya's waiting too - the last eigthy or so pages - like a high speed burn on the last leg of a five hour drive. So I am not even proof reading this post.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


It's been so long that Blogspot's changed her Dashboard, much like the Blue Lady - the rainbow colors, when the sun storms off like a Diva with all her light, plus the flexibility of 255 RGB component values so that you don't have to whine about not getting your mera wallah turquoise or whatever exotic color strokes your artistic ego. The Blue Lady has hit puberty - the 30K smear on her track record, and as if to exhibit her newfoundstatus, proudly juts out the scar on her rear end. Ahem...is this a family blog??

I am doing it. Tiptoeing behing the White Rabbit down the hole, past uneaten mushrooms of the corporate world and escaping from an evil Red Queen with a carnal love for voleyball, not chess. Did Gandhiji ever play chess, I mean it is war you know and does involve violence? I just don't want to end up like Alice one day and realize I had fallen asleep at some planning meeting and dreamt the whole thing up. So, after milking the mushroom making corporations off bittersweet honey, till the last possible date, the Blue Lady and I set out for the 'Promised' Land with stars in our eyes and a scholarship and a loan on our minds to be taught art by guys who have IMDB profiles.

The apartment's almost emtpy. The W's gone. So has 42 with her musicians. The slut's adorning the wall of some other least suspecting parsimonious technophile, but for how long? It's just me and this screen, where the dreams look smaller, and the black leather recliner that has the gait of a man beliegured by piles as it opens up its leg rest - one that is literally sticking to me with its leather skin in this heat with a severe but of Stockholm Syndrome. And Agastya! Yeah, he is back again. I carry him to work. Don't talk to him there, but I guess we are in that comfort zone now where we just don't need to talk. This sort of line and behaviour would probably piss the f!@# outta him. He would probably secretly nickname me Chipku or Sweaty Leather or something and avoid me like the Madna plague, but whattodo, I am the sole King of this unfurnished pad now! He has no choice but to lie next to me on a discomforter and a sleeping bag, and watch the bugs sample me for a late night snack and imagine watching my 72 mm dreams, projected onto the opposite wall where 42 used to be. Adios.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Pining for a Smoker

The space has its emptiness back again
Much like most corners of the heart.
The walls are bare white again
Devoid of your tobacco coated smile.
You can hear the hollow within again
Bouncing off into the light.

The sunlight is no match for you
And the fresh clean air only dampens my spirit.
Those obese white pillows in the sky
Only remind me of you blissfully chugging away
At a habit that is killing one of us
And saving the other a little bit every day.

I know you will be back soon,
That most goodbyes are never really that,
That there will be that familiar disgusting smell
To fill up my space and my world again.
But until then, I must wallow in this insipid cleanliness
With a sound body and a not so sound mind.


Saturday, August 02, 2008


This was done a while back. The Ajit isn't that good, and this doesn't have my favorite one - Amol Palekar.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Worst Kind of Sadness

The Bay Area traffic scene is not a terrain I would recommend for people with malignant hearts or impending pregnancies. Thus, the introduction of tears in such an environ is like wearing green to Bal Thakerey's birthday party. The tears flow south, colorful specks like discarded bile in an acid infested tummy pass you by east and west and the sorrow wobbles on in every direction. It's a high unparalleled by that of any drug - a sorrow without a source you can completely pin point.

I had watched Gonzo: Life and Works of Hunter S. Thompson over the weekend, and while the experience had touched me, I wouldn't say it had moved me a considerable amount at the time. Hunter S. Thompson is the God who wrote the novel version of the Depp starrrer "Fear and Loathin in Las Vegas" where Depp plays the jouno/author himself. It is a scathing, sarcastic commentary on American consumerism and greed as Duke (played by Depp) and his attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) set out in search of a 'phony' American Dream under the heavy influence of "every drug known to mankind since 1540 AD". Anyway watch the movie for a brilliant performance by Depp and director Terry Gilliam's twisted vision, reinforced by some psychadellic camera work.

Hunter even ran for mayor of Aspen, Colorado and to everyone's surprise managed to rake up 160K votes (the winning block of stone got 213K or so) with his ludicrous yet sane manifesto which included legalizing drugs. He was a stauch supporter of George McGovern in the '72 presidential elections who wanted to pull out troops from Vietnam immediately, and thus lost out to Nixon, chronicled in "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail". There is a point in an interview in the documentary when Hunter breaks down in anger and hatred for Nixon. The Bush re-election finally drove him to take his own life in 2005 at the age of 73, which is a shame, because I agree with his friends who feel that he could have weilded a pretty effective sword with his Gonzo journalism on today's events. People like John Stewart and Colbert are but modern day minions of Hunter.

Maybe it was the songs on the soundtrack CD of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" that I bought yesterday in San Francisco's Hippie Haight-Ashbury area, where Hunter hung out a lot, or the sudden realization of the loss of sanity and clarity that has descended upon us, or a looming personal tragedy that triggered the tears, but I cannot say for sure. All I can say is that it was the worst kind of sadness.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Spicy Spam Kabobs

I am considering a switch of careers. No, no, not becoming a full time filmmaker, well not just yet anyway, but I have realized that I am completely wasting my real "talent" in the Semiconductor industry. I am sure Captain would support my decision with extreme understanding, that is if he believes me. I don't know if any of you with Gmail accounts have noticed, but the Spam messages have gotten more colorful and varied than just repeated implorations to increase the size of your primary and secondary sexual organs (depending on your sex).

Yes, I'll go ahead and admit it. My life has changed. With an addiction that would make members of the ACA (American Caffeine Addiction) support group proud, I religiously check my email every morning, even before I perform my morning ablutions. Obviously, not the uninteresting section titled 'Inbox' where there are not too many mails anyway, but the stashed Spam section. I'll be man enough to admit it. It makes me feel wanted when for example, I see 69 emails in my Spam box as opposed to a measly 1 in my Inbox (from my mother usually). You wouldn't understand. Oh the insecurities a straight twenty-something man has to encounter in today's cosmos!

The messages are uplifting, ranging from political subjects like 'France Prez denied green card', to entertainment - 'Jack Nicholson dies from viagra abuse', to art - 'Italian painter uses only body fluids for new paintaing', to history - 'Reserach reveals Hitler was a cock-fighting junkie', to sport - 'Cricket becomes the first sport to build a temple for followers of its faith', to health - 'Cheetos can cause growth of extra nipple', to fashion 'Ponches now chic says Ralph Lauren', to travel 'Bermuda Traingle latest #1 getaway for honeymooning couples', to religion 'Pope converts to Paganism', to environment 'Al Gore opposes the use of latex condoms', to lifestyle 'Take her to the zoo for your first date', and finally to career 'Blogger becomes professional Spammer'. From time to time, you do get the usual boring 'See Angelia naked' messages. In fact, I have a conspirary theory that she bribes Google executives in order to receive some free advertisement. Why else would we not be tempted with nakes images of other stars? This favortism would smarten even the cheeks of the BCCI committee of the 90's.

If you notice the 'From' section in your Spam box, the names are increasingly changing. Eariler they would range just from Evan Smith to Rashawd Johnson. Gradually, these changed to something more hybrid - 'melting pot' and all that jazz - Ali Johnson or Chitralekha Robinson, and eventually, now if you look closely, you do find names like Pinky Walia. This, I believe is India's greatest achievement since independance. Who cares about Rakesh Sharma moonwalking with Russians, or eleven men in whites getting the better of some giants in a game of gilli danda, or even us testing some fireworks in Pokhran. In this age of subconscious solitude, there is nothing more gratifying than to reach every human's email box and bring a smile to them.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Eternal Sunshine on Polka Dotted Boxers

It is 10:34 am and I am sitting in my second successive meeting of the morning. The caffeine has thankfully started taking effect and I don't feel like I have been hit by a meteorite anymore. Let me go ahead and crib a bit. Thursday is the only day that I have a 9 am meeting. It's usually 10:30 am when I drag my feet into work on other days. Now you might envy me after knowing this, but c'mon, it's not fair to expect me to be at work by 9 when my body is conditioned to wake up after 9. OK OK. Cribbing over.

There is another reason for my lack of beauty sleep. No, there are no cricket matches on at ghastly hours, nor am I in a saat samundar paar long distance relationship, and no, I am not forcing amnesia, no, nostalgia, arrey I can't remember the word, that sleeplessness condition, on myself, to appear pseudo-intellectual. I am fun editing. The phrase hasn't made it to the Oxford dictionary yet, but if I have my way, the Queen's English will be violated a little more by the next release. So, I am working on this 20-25 minute short film as an AD and partly as Lighting Designer (and partly as Cinematographer when crew members vanish into thin air, no not after dieting too much, they just leave: "I have a family emergency", "proctologist's appointment", "I am henpecked and my wife is from Bush's, I mean Hitler's, lineage"; you get the idea), but I recently got Final Cut Pro 6.0 (industry editing software) and so I am playing around with the footage. The first night I got the software, I created this sequence of the protagonist in the bathroom (shower and hair gelling only, in case you kinky ones were getting excited) with the only footage I had at the time - bathroom shots and cutaways of a fire alarm. Go figure!

Watch Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na for very good acting by an ensemble cast so fresh, they still possess that new car smell. Standout cameo performance from Prateik Babbar, product of Smita Patil's mistake with a random bloke. Watch Aamir for a very visual few opening few sequences, directed by Anuraag Kashyap's AD. Watch Wall-E for that good feeling you get after eating dessert (please beware; this feeling maybe exclusively a Bengali thing, but you can relate to it I am sure; as my probashi friend SuGu says, everyone is Bengali anyway, moreso French footballers - MalouDa, Saha etc. etc.). It's already #19 in IMDB's all-time top movies. I am in a Kurosawa-Mifune phase, partly because I was reading Donald Ritchie's The Films of Akira Kurosawa after I heard about it at Jabberwock. Red Beard is their best work till date that I have seen. Beats Rashomon and Seven Samurai for me. Mifune's restrained performance was a revelation. Its a pity that he couldn't shave his beard and thus had an argument with Kuro since he lost contracts of films from other "directors" at the time, and never made any more films with him. Probably for the best. I don't think I would have liked to see him in color (Red Beard is Kuro's last B&W film).

Received a lot of messages since this blog was on standby (OK fine, just two, but you know who you are; thanks - makes a difference in this age of individualism). Read Aamir Khan's and Amitabh's blogs and realized they write very often despite their busy schedule. So, I should not disappoint my "fans" either. OK boring meeting over.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tashan - You Cannot Review Greatness

Every once in a while a movie comes along that forces you to stop and ponder about the banality of your middle-class holistic existence. And any movie that can stimulate such soul searching thoughts, automatically carves a place for itself in the threshold of the Hall of Fame, where the Lord presides over his court of lesser Gods with nether-worldly masochism and unparalleled rustic charm.

Tashan is Saif Ali Khan's first investment in the Roulet machine titled 'Bollywood' in gay glitteraty. And from the look of things, his start is as promising as a new groom in bed. Tashan's greatness lies in the fact that it takes the Lord's message, packages it in some reflective party gel and just as you are about to dismiss it as an overpriced masala flick, it does a Jack in the Box with the lead 'actors' in wigs of colors that fat Gujarati businessmen die their graying hair to, crooning such metaphorical lyrics as 'Tohre dil ke thaeter ma dil deewana advance booking mare re", almost as if making a promise spanning several births, for the film to continue running house full in all theaters of the land. Surely, even Sir Winston Churchill would agree that this is globalization at its peak - the very idea of white people singing in Bhojpuri. If only the makers of Mangal Pandey - The Rising had seen Tashan before, they wouldn't have had to incur such heavy losses.

The simplicity of the script catches you unaware as you walk in twenty minutes late (probably because you didn't get tickets to any other show and then took your time before deciding that you were ready to completely open yourself up emotionally to Tashan). There is a taboo love story brewing between the handlebar mustached Jimmy (Saif), who only taak Englis, waak English becoj Englis is a bhery phunny language, and the anorexic Pooja (Kareena), who has given up food to save up to repay the overtly avuncular don Bhaiya Ji (Anil Kapoor), trying to be overtly brotherly, who [Spoiler Alert] wears Rupa underwear and overtly porous Rupa banyan. Inside sources claim that inspired by the great Toshiro Mifune, who had based the movements of his character in Kurosawa's Yojimbo on the lion, Kapoor spent several months in isolation with alcoholic sloth bears with a penchant for tharra, made in the heartland of the country - UP.

The omnipresent Amitabh Bachhan makes his usual appearance, but this time only lending, no not his voice, but his name to Bachhan Pandey (Akshay Kumar). Bachhan is a PhD student doing his thesis on 'The Virtues of the Dark Side". His current semester projects include studying what really went on in each of Ravan's ten heads when he realized he was more in love with Ram than Sita. Needless to say, he has no funding, and thus needs to help dons with extortions and shadow batting for the Delhi Daredevils to maintain his fit body.

However, like all good samaritan masala movies made in this millennium, Tashan has a twist. Of course, it is still a love story, but the key players change. I would not like to spoil it for any of you and reveal the exact permutation of the two out of these four characters that take us on a pedophiliac, yet voyeuristic journey of their childhood and show us how coolness in Kanpur is defined by how much electricity you can steal.

The film's overall feel and brilliant hamming by Anil Kapoor is marred by some good comic timing by Kumar, but overlooking that and some refreshing cinematography, especially during the songs, the film is consistent with a thrilling, logic-redefining climax, that involves a cycle rickshaw decked up like Mrs. Teja during Lodi. The very deliberate trashing of logic as we know it, gives birth to a new school of editing and sets a new benchmark for directors who shoot lackluster, dull action sequences (in comparison of course) movies like Gadar and Kill Bill.

The songs are OK, but what will make the music album fly off the shelves is the poetry - an hors d'oeuvre of the characters repeating their respective tashans, including a rendition of Anil Kapoor's imagined version of Kabhi Kabhi in Bhojpuri. Daft that I am, the significance of the repetitiveness of the tashans eluded me, but soon the child next to me, with a visage and voice as peaceful as Dharamputr Sunny, asked his creator, "Mummy, what is Tashan?", and she, with the dismissive laziness, only matched by the gait of a Bengali who has just had lunch, in her voice, much like the Dream Girl, said "Shut up and go to sleep". It is then that I realized that no one can tell you what tashan is. You have to discover it for yourself. Some may discover it in the lazy afternoon swings of cows' tails they are trying to milk, in the coolness of a cowshed somewhere in the heartland, while some may discover it in the shrillness of Bapi Da's high notes, even others while their SO refuses that extra spoon of sugar in their morning coffee, and for some, sitting through the entire film without a single break.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Snippets from an Autobiography in Progress

If you are still around, yes you, ardent reader of White Noise, you will realize posts have started appearing with the efficiency of an Indian Gorment employee, still endeavoring to smart from all the red tapism. Why you ask? Cuz it's my bloody blog, and you may be my customers in a business sense, but my entrepreneurial skills are like Dravid's T20 skills. So, what's happening on the western front, you ask?

The IPL has disciplined me more than the fear of an exclusively broccoli diet and I wake up promptly at 7:30 each morning to some destructive batting (unless of course Bangalore is playing) and some death mass sermon for bowlers, of all shapes, sizes, pace and turn. Some turn on one another and bitch-slap each other in full youtube view, and then get slapped bans. Others probably just go home and cry each other to sleep, in the process wetting each others' pillows.

I have been meaning to write a post about the antras of old songs, especially, Kishore's ones. I realized that I like them more than I like the mukhdas. Essentially, both - lyrics as well as the music, maybe cuz the mukhdas have been played to death But a friend has my Kishore collection and isn't returning it. So whattodo. In a Rafi phase starting yesterday. I finally drove the Blue Lady through a dilapidated, creaky carwash while providing the chorus for Pukarta Chala Hoon Main. What's up with the gas prices?? I spent 60 bucks filling her up today and the W says that Billua Clinton, prospective First Gentle(have to ask Monica about that) man says I will be paying 105 by next year! I need to contact Icarus for those wax wings to fly to San Francisco. In any case, I can fly on the alternating icy cold days, yes, yes, I know its summer, but Gillette f!@#ed up the ozone layer, na. I just had a vision of God, stroking his carefully shaped white goatee, saying, "Good Ol' Spice! I told you so". Oh, wait, maybe it's Vijay Mallya, but never mind, there is no stud in his ear.

Just saw the Pianist. Very good. Roman Polanski. Adrian Brody acts with his eyes and body and hardly has any dialog in his Polish accent. What a transformation the character goes through. Saw Shyam Benegal's Mandi a few days back. The script is a lesson in character development. Each actor, with their varying amount of screen time, give each other competition. Om Puri, Naseer, Smita, Shabana, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Anita Kanwar, Neena Gupta, Ratna Pathak Shah. Aah, and that delicious Hyderabadi accent. Always makes me hungry and reminds me of biriyani. Talking of which, Captain's moved here. Aah, I must also emoblackmail Mr. Dandi to make his biriyani, but I need to meet him first. Yes, I have been a bad friend, but whattodo, I have a life now, after Sultana Daku.

PS: Someone said I look like Dhoni today from the left acute angle under sunshine. I am sure my boro pishi is feeling vindicated now. I did not even have long hair back then! And then his next question was if I play cricket.

PPS: Also, meant to blog about this Zakir Hussain Masters of Percussion concert I went to. There's a great story to it. Got a front row dead center celebrity seat after waiting for an hour to get in after the concert started. The concert was awesome. I fell in love with the sitar and bought a Ravi Shankar CD on iTunes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I fell into a Deep Deep Well

As that man in black with the voice of a God sang, "I fell into a burning ring of fire". Just that it wasn't a ring of fire so much as a deep deep well, with the same intensity though. It's happened before and I had hit myself hard against the rough dry cruel base of the well so as to shake up my gray matter. I even knew that this well (in Ms. Robinson's backyard) was dry and not even that deep beforehand, meaning the impact would be soon and hard. And yet, I jumped in, just to see if I could pump out some water while I was falling, with my Wifi charm, just enough to shield the fall. Aah, if only supposed ebullience could cut through the ever-protective earth.

Denial avoids me like the plague as I lie among the remains of my gray matter in a mess, meaning I have far from retired from the subconscious vocation of our generation - the excavation for the elixir of life. Tell me is it possible to rise through wells? Possibly, in a matrix free from expectations and ambitions and gravity. Huh, wells, you say? Shit, the pseudo-intellectual feminists would be screaming for my nuts, after this. Castration - that defeatist weapon in the hands of the superficially weak. I wonder if the word stems from that Cuban dude. I would be very pissed if it does. Meaning the US is a feminist state? F@#&ing paranoid public opinion, I tell you.

Aah, it all makes perfect sense, no? A response in a typical hangover from the times when that little man was marching up and down that big country across the Atlantic with the flag of his fatherland flying like the wavy blond hair on the head of a true Aryan. Chauvinists and their infatuation with homosexuality! I mean what's the big deal? I obviously see the pseudo-intellectual charm of it all, but to name a band of long haired tenors to appeal to the younger superficial generation taking to ugly jeans and white sneakers; that's very shameful, even for pseudo-intellectuals.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Lime Green Nails

Sunshine on lime green nails
Tapping against steely untuned strings,
Singing of sad sad tales
And of false hope they bring.

Vibrations of dark dark wood
And questions blowing about.
Rich smoke maintains the mood
That the answers would never be out.

More street corners and more nails
Red, blue, yellow, magenta
Asking about dead dead quails
About changing the agenda.

But the man is color blind
And supposedly very very deaf
As more mothers lose their mind
Wallowing in emotional troughs.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Have You Seen My Guitar?

Have you seen my guitar?
Bright as Floyd’s crazy star.
I don’t even see her shadow at home.
Might have hiked to Paris or Rome
Or to the dark craters on the moon
And I fear she won’t return soon.

My room is empty and hollow
And I can’t but cry and wallow
But the tears can’t fill her space
Since my baby’s gone without a trace.
All the pages are clean and yet
Are little boats so that I am not wet.

The three little birds are not at the door.
They were hungry and so sing no more.
They have real proper jobs now,
Something my soul will not allow.
So tell me have you seen my crazy star
My lost homeless vagabond guitar?


Thursday, March 20, 2008


The narrative statement shall be a mature and self-reflective essay (2-3 typed pages) detailing the applicant's reasons for pursuing a degree in the motion picture arts. The essay should take into account the individual's history, formative creative experiences, contemporary influences and inspirations, and personal artistic dreams.

Orson Welles once called the middle class the enemy of society. My father's life bears testimony to Welles' rather politically incorrect observation. As a young man in his unsettling twenties, Dad wanted to make films, but the pressures of a middle class existence in the Indian city of Calcutta, especially that of putting food on the table for the family prevented him from following his dream.

Around this time, Indian cinema, particularly Bengali cinema was undergoing a transition from predominantly escapist story lines to tackling more socially relevant issues, led by the master directorial eye of Satyajit Ray. Dad is a great admirer of the work of the filmmaker and it would be no exaggeration to suggest that I grew up watching his films.

Dad is also an amateur photographer of considerable repute and thus, at an age when most boys play with GI Joe's, I was experimenting with a point and shoot camera.  Gradually, Dad started allowing me to borrow his Canon SLR with growing regularity and eventually, gifted me a Nikon SLR as I became the President of the Photography Club of my high school. Photography served as the formative creative experience in shaping the filmmaker in me as I learned to tell a story using an image, which was the basic essence of film making in its infant silent era.

Satyajit Ray talks about a couple of films in his book 'Speaking of Films', which I have watched since reading the book. The first is 'Battleship Potemkin' , a Russian silent film about a revolt on a submarine with very moving images. The other film is  'Bicycle Thieves', an Italian neorealist film about post-World War II Italy, with very little dialog and yet showcasing a wide range of emotions. I had always been an admirer of character driven plots, and after watching 'Bicycle Thieves', I was infatuated with the concept of neorealism.

What followed was watching the films of other neorealist directors like Michaelangelo Antonioni, Frederico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman, each of which is proof of the power of images. I am especially in awe of Antonioni's 'L'Eclisse' and its opening scene. The scene features a man and a woman in a hotel room and there is no dialog for a good three to four minutes, raising questions as to the mood of the scene in the viewer. The rest of the film is filled with such scenes that more than speak for themselves, including a long unspoken ending sequence that relays a sense of loneliness that few words can match.

A few days back, a friend suggested Wong Kar-Wai’s 2000 film 'In the Mood for Love' to me. It is a period piece set in 1960's Hong Kong about two neighbors – a man and a woman, who with their growing friendship discover that their respective spouses are cheating on them with one another. What makes this film special is that it is a love story that is so subtle that there is not a single scene where the protagonists are shown in traditional romantic liaisons and yet, the sense of togetherness comes through. Kar-Wai uses rain, vivid colors and unorthodox camera angles in narrow hallways of a Hong Kong apartment building to achieve this.

I was very heavily influenced by neorealism and particularly, 'In the Mood for Love', while writing the script for my short 'The Wet Cigarette'. Certain decisions like  setting the events in an environment where it has just rained, having just one line of dialog and casting an ordinary looking male lead, were results of this influence. There are also certain aspects of magic realism like the female character's attire and the sudden appearance of her beau, ostensibly to surprise her, meant as tributes to Fellini's 'La Strada'.

Unfortunately, one hardly sees any neorealistic films being made these days and it saddens me that future generations may become forever oblivious to cinema of this beautiful sub-genre As an aspiring film maker, my ambition is to reverse this trend by making more movies that fall into the sub-genre of neorealism and to tap the human element of the middle class, the very class Welles had criticized, as a source for stories.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Having lived through painful years of Social Science, Biology and Organic Chemistry in school, I have a severe phobia for remembering lines (latest Hindi film song lyrics are always exceptions). Hence, acting is a huge no no, especially in theater productions, but I do enjoy the whole experience (especially, hanging out with equally crazy liberal folks) and like to be involved in less perilous authorities. And smaller theater groups like Naatak don't have assistant directors (AD's), especially for nautankis. So I signed up for the production team and went for the rehearsal one sunny Saturday, hoping to talk about such lifeless things as props and backdrops.

About twenty people running about chaotically. Apparently the pizza had just arrived and I would later learn the hard way that if you didn't run around chaotically and conquer slices, you would have to rehearse on a hungry stomach. The director and producer both drop their slices in perfect harmony as they see my entry and start singing Aerosmith's 'Dude looks like a Daku' in Acapella mode. The director then serenaded up to me, made an L and an inverted L with his index fingers and thumbs and said "Aathuthuthu kya thobda hai!" in Mehmood from Andaz Apna Apna style. "Assistant daku (AD) banega?" On learning my name, he expressed immense disappointment. We had communicated through email before and my unheard first name and obviously sexy last name had convinced him that I was a free spirited pseudo intellectual woman with horn-rimmed glasses and long flowing silky hair - the ones that would turn down a shampoo commercial simply because the shampoo industry was becoming too capitalistic in nature. Thus, disappointment as my disheveled stubbled self with droopy eyes (sharabi ankhen), with sleep clinging on to them, wafted in. Curiously, this is not the first time I have been expected to be a hot woman solely by the strength of my name.

I couldn't turn him down, especially after he told me I had been born to play a daku and that I did not have a single line but only had to repeat chorus lines in a couple of songs. "Shakal hi kuch aisi hai." There was another reason. Red was there pacing up and down with a heavy looking single barrel rifle resting smugly on his right shoulder. Of course he didn't want to break from character and refused to recognize me. But then I realized Red was on the other side of the Atlantic, trying to get over beer induced hangovers with fish and chips. Later, during a break, he came up to me and much like the protagonist of those Hindi movies that propel the concept of rebirth, he looked at my college (that's where I met Red) sweatshirt with a far away look of hazy recognition (or Joey's "smell the fart acting") and asked me if I had ever lived in Atlanta. Incidentally, he had lived there for almost a decade.

Much like this man, I am a method actor, yes, even for my really big role (I do have to stay on stage for most of the scenes). Since being cast, I have watched nothing but the performances of Viju Khote and MacMohan in Sholay as the gregarious Kalia and the introverted Sambha respectively - two very contrasting approaches to similar roles. The director wants my character to be "brute force" - a mean mofo, who doesn't bat much of an eyelid even when sultry nachanias nuzzle up close and deliver seamless thumkas. Little things like scratching the dhoti, forever pouting the lower lip a la V.D. Chauhan and generally scowling and giving mean looks (khunnas) at all times. So, if you bump into me at work (where I have made a lot of progress off late by staying in character) and find me a little meaner than usual, you know the reason, that is if you recognize me with my work in progress - a handlebar mustache, for the role of course. At the end of the day, anything for art, isn't it?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Don't Waste Your Time Reveling in this Self Indulgent Post

There seems to be some kind of contagious tag epidemic going on in the blogs I visit and mathematical probability has caught up with me after all. Dreamy has sneezed this tag into my lungs and the only path to recuperation is to pass it onto lesser suspecting bloggers. More on that later.

Life Ten years ago

The world had still not started preparing itself for the terror of Y2K and I was steaming in to terrorize batsmen, who weren't allowed to hit too hard so as not to hurt the fielders awaiting their turn to bat, right before class. The carefree air of not bothering about sweat before the first period even as classmates had started dating (this used to mean something else when you were in class 8 in the last century by the way) one another is what I look back most fondly at. Oh, and I remember feeling this novel emptiness as I heard about that nice Lady's car crashing in a Parisian tunnel and her subsequent death. C'est la mort, I guess.

Life Five years ago

Running through the deserted wet streets of the campus and attracting weird looks from the few chapta PhD students on a cold Saturday morning amongst delirious cries from fellow demented souls, waving the tricolor, after Sehwag and Tendlya had uppercut Akhtar and co. out of the World Cup. And then a week later, depression and the morning after nap in the underground gymnasium cum lounge of a friend's dorm after Dada's minions had let the butterflies win.

Life tomorrow

As Morgan Freeman said in The Shawshank Redemption, same shit different day, but it is Friday. So, SSDD with a movie thrown in.

Five locations I would love to run away to

Words like 'run' are blasphemous to me and the laziness in me revolts with alarming activity, but if I could be airlifted from my Lazyboy, I would want to end up in
  1. Kashmir
  2. Amsterdam (not for the tulips or windmills)
  3. Those lost mountains Che goes to in The Motorcycle Diaries
  4. That place in Africa where Nick Cage breaks down all his guns in The Lord of War
  5. NYC

Five bad habits I have

It's going to be hard to choose just five. The others might feel bad, but ...
  1. Very rigid in my likes and dislikes when it comes to people. If I don't like you, it's gonna stay that way even if you save the world and if I like you, it'll be that way even if you rape and pilferage the whole of El Dorado.
  2. Too transparent.
  3. I like challenges when I am taking someone's case. If they don't like it, I find myself getting villainy and stepping it up a notch.
  4. Too laid back.
  5. Wisecracks in movie theaters, especially during sessions of extreme hamming.

Five things I will never wear
  1. VIP Frenchies
  2. Suspenders
  3. Kolapuri chappals (they look swell, but hurt the soles of my feet since childhood)
  4. Collarless shirts
  5. Shoes with strings

Five biggest joys at this moment
  1. Dhoni and Ishant
  2. My cousin who is fat and is called Joy by his Dad
  3. Obama
  4. Macbook Pro (just ordered one!)
  5. Sunshine and the impending advent of summer

Something to achieve by next year

To break out of this cocoon - comforting, yet so stifling.

Something that impacted me last year

The weaning off her and the advent of regular blogging.

What will I miss about 2007

Tina and the original members of the Boise Wela Group.

Five things I want to do before I die
  1. Give an Oscar acceptance speech for Best Foreign Film where I end up thanking no one.
  2. Spend a week in bed like John and Yoko.
  3. Teach myself to play my acoustic guitar.
  4. Smoke a joint with Papa.
  5. Hire someone to shave me regularly and drive me around.
Now to pass on the virus. Unfortunately, among the few bloggers who read this blog, two have already been tagged, one is on vacation and something tells me the others write about topics that are too serious to write a post like this. So, Puranjoy, not forcing you, but you are most welcome to jump in. Rohmen, please save my nose and accept this tag. SS, you bloomed into the blogosphere just the other day and so HAVE to comply to my bullying tag slapping.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


As I pulled up to my usual parking space in the nondescript back alley of the building with unprecedented punctuality, I must say I found myself a little blue to find it conspicuously empty. I entered the building through the usual back door and walked up the endless gray steps one last time to embrace the cocktailed aroma of fresh baked cookies and Mexican diligence emanating from the little hole next to the studio that calls itself a bakery. The cinefan in me cannot help but gush about how the building is set up exactly like the one in which Somnath starts his business in Jana Aranya with its array of letter boxes signifying businesses ranging in a rich variety from Chinese clothing manufacturing businesses to Tekwondo lessons to our studio. Another similarity is the elevator, albeit minus the creaky, black oiled grills and its operator, seemingly a victim to the harshness time, both dripping with old world charm.

There was a nice little reception laid out - complete with wine and cheese - the diet of the aantels (pseudo-intellectuals) of this world that involves more chewing that eating and more sipping than drinking. I was still belching from my Mysore Masala Dosa of an hour or so ago and the near morbid thought of driving back in searing rain stood like a filter between my jittery nerves and the drink of the Gods (or is it the French?). And then they started pouring in with their unfamiliar faces and disruptive facial hair or handbags, brushing off drops of water from their waterproof jackets onto one another and rubbing their feet on the life expectancy of the huge fiber carpet, probably a product of the handicraft shop down on the second floor. I should have been happy to see all sixty or so of them, but suddenly the exuberant thudding of my heart drowned all ambient sound.

The familiar faces were far and fewer, shining like crazy diamonds, hugging me, pecking me, introducing me to names I wouldn't remember and making me shake alien hands, some firm, others not, but all of them rough to the touch. My actors had come too, discussing the Kuleshov Effect with each other and amongst their other brethren. A couple of aspiring actresses trying to flirt their way into the cast of the next film and hell, I could tell they were good at their job. I felt like that kid in school whose parents didn't come to the annual exhibitions.

Technical problems even though "we only use Macs here". I was third last in the schedule. Seems like they had bunched up all the black and white films together at the end. I would see my camera work sooner though, in that film about guns and shooting, whose name I can't remember completely. Kind avuncular introductory words. Darkness. Then they started rolling. One after the other. Some self-indulgently long, like this post, others choppy, some rip-roaringly funny and others just too beautiful for words, but all of them reeking of five weeks of passion and labor.

Audiences at film screenings tend to be polite. There was applause after every film, the only difference being in the duration of the response. The film about guns and shooting was shot differently. Hopefully, people would not term the hand held technique as utter amateurism. The ending was a shock, even to me, simply because of the sinisterly amazing editing. Applause, as always, but after three seconds of stunned silence. It was almost as if the director had jumped off his seat and slapped each and every one of us. An interval, very much in keeping with the short film theme, that lasted but a few seconds.

The moment was drawing near. Some Sci-Fi flicks whizzed by and over my head. And then, and then that all too familiar pitter patter of the rain against text I had read a million times by now it seemed. People were watching. I was watching them. A couple of 'What?!''s at the intro from behind me. The next scene and realization quietened them. What was I doing? Why was I watching the screen? I knew I would only be sniffing out faults like a constipated old bloodhound. Magnification has its demons. Then the music - sweeping everything away, but was it powerful enough? A couple of 'aww''s in female voices, not completely unexpected. Now the credits were rolling. As always applause. Female hands were petting my right leg and hugging the left part of my body. Sheepish smile in the darkness. As She said, "Thank you".

A couple of films (including my favorite film of the screening - a Black and White Spanish film, though a little too long maybe) later the lights were back on. More applause. All ten of us were standing up. I was nodding my head at different corners of the room and smiling my lopsided Steve Waugh grin, trying to look intelligent, while my palms were engaged in foreplay with one another - a Scorcese touch, I would tell myself on the drive back home. The eyes looked genuine, but hell, how should I know; most of them were actors.

More hugs. Some snaps. Some roses. Some brickbats after the demand of honest opinions, but thankfully there were more roses, or my instructors are really nice. I don't know, you decide.

PS: Compressing the digital HD format to a more manageable size for Youtube has ruined the resolution completely and this looks nothing like it does on the DVD :(

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I am nervous as a schoolboy
Just before a significant test.
And I don't know why
A melancholic tune keeps nagging my head.
You hold me with your steady stare
And send me into fits of uncontrollable coughing
With copious passive smoke
From your guiltily lit yet necessary Marlboro Light
On a windy balcony with the backdrop of a hopeful, almost vermilion horizon.

Needless apologies follow
That only heighten the tension;
That take me back to furtive farewell hugs
In dirty San Francisco back alleys.
Suddenly you ask me my favorite color
Waking me from my reverie.
After unprecedented moments of thought
I realize it is the grayness of a cloudy sky
That touches me most.

I have made up my mind
To let the gray rain clouds shower today
After growling, contained thunder for so long.
Then you nonchalantly rest the back of your head against me
And tell me about your virtuous woman
And the sunset at your last holiday together
And how she adores bright vermilion
For the passion it brings into your lives
As we watch the sun set on my frozen gray lips.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

V for Vendetta

Its that time of the year again when all single people around the world use humor as a defense mechanism and appear uber-nonchalant licensed by their bachelorhood. So, let me tell you about the most eventful V-day I have ever had, next to going for a Desi Buffet with 15 other Indian males on February 14, 2004 of course. Oh, almost forgot. Ad Libber wants the single people who aren't depressed and binging on chocolate-strawberry ice cream and reality television at home - the ones that venture out, to wear black on the 14th in memory of Mr. Wodehouse. I shall comply since I can't tolerate reality television for more than four hours.

I was in first year of college. She was in the third year. As you all know, I am a super deep person and so, the detailed reasons for seeking an older woman at that point of time in my life are too complicated for even me to grasp completely, let alone the average reader of this blog. However, a simplistic Freudian explanation would be the surfacing of the Oedipus Complex as a result of being away from home for the first time in 18 years that made me reach for a more mature caress than the girls in my class could provide. Anyway, I had been seeking Her, staving off competition from men, some mustached, some not but all of them elder to me. One of my closest (read only) friends at the time was this super nerd, someone who actually made me look like an illiterate male model. Let's call him Sam. So, Sam found this e-card somewhere on the World Wide Web (or maybe his imaginary online girlfriend sent it to him). It was supposed to make women's hearts and knees go cookie doe since it had this obese little champ in pink diapers holding some sort of equally obese, bloody red obscene orb that looked like Hidimbi's heart with some sonnet that would have made Shakespeare blush. Incidentally, these have now evolved to become the display pictures of anti-feminists on Orkut. I thought it was decidedly Gothic, but apparently women couldn't seem to see beyond the pink diapers.

Not having the time to train the messenger pigeons, unlike Bhagyashree, I emailed it to Her, thus playing hard to get and not actually meeting up, unlike mustached and otherwise seniors. Then there was the waiting period, like a nervous expectant father when his wife goes into labor, or the more relatable scenario of waiting for your classmate to email you the individual project in the nerve-wracking few minutes before the submission deadline. Checking my email had become way more draining than checking my board exam results online just the previous year. My roommate was disbarred from using our land line to order a late night pizza, but much like in Antonioni's films, nothing happened.

Three days had passed. I was beginning to seriously consider gifting a razor to one of the girls in my class for her upper lip as a backup option when it arrived. Naked, unflinching, and composed in the harsh Plain Text format was Her email. It started off ominously - she said she absolutely ADORED the card. Damn, now I would have to buy Sam lunch, which was just Skittles and Coke really. Focus on the email, Clint (that's what my imaginary friend likes to call me sometimes, as in Eastwood). Experience had taught me to search for that dastardly conjunction in such mails - but. We are very impressed with your application BUT we have already filled our first year seats here at Berkley. Focus, focus! Wait what! You have got to be kiddin' me. Serves me right for listening to that technophile Sam. Incidentally, the email had been too big for our university mail server. So, the server had conveniently broken it down into 13, yes 13, attachments and sent it to Her, and then sent her the original mail anyway. Needless to say, She wasn't very happy with the spam. After than, I got student government orders to never email Her again, not even G rated Sardar jokes in plain text format.

I learned my lesson and stopped hanging out with Sam. The letter V, in my life, has now come to stand for Vendetta against all cherubic little humans holding anatomically misshaped organs. Also, I am very proud of the fact that since then, I have stopped using technology of any kind to show my love for the fairer sex and have thus gotten rejected only in person each year on February 14, sometimes even by different people on the same day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A BIG Thanku ...

to everyone who voted for my poem Incoherence on poetry.com. They tell me it is a winner and enters the next level of judging, becoming eligible for the 2007 Annual Grand Prize that will be awarded in February.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Suspicion and Rebecca

The Stanford Theater played host to me twice this weekend as I found myself there watching Hitchcock's earlier 1940's films - Suspicion and Rebecca. It's a classical theater in every sense of the word. What differentiates it from the run of the mill AMC's and Regency theaters sprouting up in suburban America everyday is its plush maroon carpet and the concept of the Balcony section, something I miss after moving here. As the guests poured in, hobnobbing with each other in the excitement preceding the watching of a Hitch flick, a pianist entertained them on a three layered piano that looked like it had been stolen from the Adams' family home.

Both films starred the delectable Joan Fontaine, in not too different roles. In Suspicion, she played the suspicious wife of the super smooth Cary Grant, who as I would imagine was intended in the script, completely stole the show, with his ability to talk himself out of any situation. In terms of appearance, Grant could make George Clooney look like a rustic transvestite. What differentiates this film from Hitchcock's other movies, is the lack of the overbearing temptation of the director to scare his audience. Instead, the efforts seemed a lot more subtle here to me with the script playing out a lot of precarious scenes rather than the camera.

Joan Fontaine plays a simple girl in Rebecca who ends up becoming the second wife of a tycoon who can't seem to give up his love for his deceased first wife. I must confess I was hugely disappointed initially seeing Lawrence Olivier, or maybe Cary Grant was still dominating my imagination of a male hero. However, gradually, as the film progressed, and Olivier delivered line after line with utter nonchalance to effortlessly produce comedy, I realized why he was so sought after in his day. The film also showcases romance in indelible form. There are these sequences when the couple go on rides where nothing much is said, but the emotion comes through appropriately. In terms of the genre of horror, this film is lot more of an insider with a smart script, packed with twists and turns and spooky looking character actors.

What was common to both films, and possibly to all films of the era, was this almost unapologetic putting down of women. For instance, Fontaine's character might well have worn this sign around her neck in both films that said "Oh where are you my man? I can't live without you" whereas the men were shown to be these cool cats with smart lines. Also, there were no funky camera angles that has come to be associated with Hitchcock. Maybe, these were films made before he found and developed his style. He didn't make his trademark brief appearance in either film. I still think the guy is overrated and don't consider him a great filmmaker, but a smart one. Maybe that's because my admiration for neorealism and directors like Bergman, Antonioni and Ray and master-craftsmen like Kurosawa leave little space for directors of the horror genre and for the most part, the theatrical acting of their cast. However, that doesn't mean I wont watch Foreign Correspondent and Spellbound next week.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Hitch Fest

At the Stanford Theater for any Hitchcock fans or fans of classical cinema in the Bay Area. I am not a fan of Hitch, but I have decided to give the man another chance, especially with the big screen. Will try to catch Rebecca and Suspicion this weekend. Incidentally, I came to know of this through some spam snail mail. See, spam isn't always bad for you!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Allah ke Naam pe dede Baba...

FSM tera bhala karega. So, poetry.com wants to train amateur poets to be beggars. I guess beggars' income do rely on good meaningful poetry after all and since poets have no real financial future, all of it makes perfect sense. Anyway, the website is telling me that my poem 'Incoherence' has been chosen as a finalist (for history, please see previous post, especially the comments section) and that I should get extended family, in-laws, fellow commuters and neighborhood pets to vote for me here. Since, I am too unsocial to maintain relations with the above mentioned beings, I'm just relying on the readers of my blog. Please keep in mind that you ARE to use your entire emotional quotient while voting and impartial subjectivity has NO place in this process.


Monday, January 28, 2008

The Softer Side of Capitalism

Facebook had an advertisement for a poetry contest on poetry.com a few days back. I had submitted one poem, a few years old, before, to poetry.com, but not as an entry for any contest. So, I said to myself, "What the hell" and decided to give it a shot. The website rejected the first four or five choices from my collection on grounds of length, even after much formatting by removing empty lines in between paragraphs. Finally, seeing no way out and with my resolve to submit something getting stronger with each rejection, I fed the website 'Incoherence' - a title that somewhat salvages some random musings written for this short film, which it gobbled up. I didn't care if I won anymore (and certainly didn't expect to, with the shoddy quality of the submitted poetry) and was just over the moon to be even able to submit something.

I was a little surprised that the website didn't email me confirming the acceptance. Later, as I was rummaging through my Spam folder to make sure Gmail didn't label any of my acquaintances as a Spammer, which you may think is a symptom for some eccentric OC disorder, but let me justify by saying that this has happened in the past, and if I have learned anything from such episodes it is that history repeats itself when it comes to technology, looking at me, sandwiched between a message trying to sell me Viagra and Cialis for discounted prices and one from Shauntelle telling me that she was lonely, was the message from poetry.com. At the time, I didn't think much of Gmail's divisional practices and just brushed it aside as spamophobia.

As I was performing my regular spam filtering routine on Friday, I noticed another email from poetry.com with the subject starting with that favorite word of spammers around the world - 'Congratulations'. A little surprised, I opened the email to find that the poem has received
the Editor's Choice Award. I suddenly felt very kicked, at once forming a blog post in my head on how best to show off to my readers, and then I noticed that the email came with a 'prize' - The 2007 Editor's Choice Published Poet Ribbon Award Pin, Watch, and Medallion. My happiness intensified, I pinched myself a couple of times and continued with the rest of the beauty pageant winner routine. It hadn't even complete sunk in when I saw the number 119 somewhere in that sea of praise of an email. A closer look told me that poetry.com was so impressed with my poem that they were giving me the opportunity to own some jeweled watch whose maker had his hands cut off moments after creating this masterpiece, for a 'minimal fee of $119 only'. The email went on about how this watch, much like the holy ring in the LOTR movies (none of which I have watched BTW) alone could get me laid more often, which is apparently a challenge for even the luminaries of the poetic world. The icing on the cake was that the medallion and the pin were 'completely free' if I were to avail of this offer and the complete bling set was known to have alarming effects on hot women who acquired sensitivity and other similar such feelings when exposed to the glint of the bling set. Anyway, if you are a hot woman, here is the poem in question.

As if that was not enough to make one realize the price on one's head, or rather hand, I was told by San Francisco's Caltrain later that day that I would need to pay 'only $500' to get a shooting permit in order to shoot in any of their stations, even though I was a student and not planning to sell my film and would be shooting on a Sunday when there were hardly any people anyway. It would be Communist, I mean criminal, to end this post, without standing up erect and 'hailing' Capitalism, with its discerning soft quality of making embracing citizens feel so wanted and uplifting their otherwise morose moods, by giving them such bloated price tags, much like products they can only admire though shop windows under expensive studio-like shop lights and its all encompassing hug to include petty little vocations like poetry and film. I have deduced a secret piece of information from this little anecdote - Gmail, and thus by extension, Google is Communist. Don't be surprised if my efforts are successful and Google is shut down in the coming few weeks. I also want to clarify that this post was in no way sponsored by the good people over in Microsoft.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Calm Old Man vs. Angry Young Man

Tyler Durden said in Fight Club "We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact." This realization hit the members of a secret society in the netherworld of the capital of Indian cinema long before Durder, or even Brad Pitt was born.

The greater fraction of Indian cinema frequenters in the 70's sought escapism in Indian cinema like a pimple faced straight male teenager seeks Playboy. Thus it should be no surprise that Amitabh Bachhan with his Angry Young Man image, fighting the parasitic system was considered nothing less than a God to the average Joe, or Jai, in this case. However, not too many living people are aware of a cult that thrived in the underbelly of civil society back then - one that worshiped another great persona, possibly greater than any screen persona Mr. Bachhan could ever conjure up. The mere fact that this star's popularity has stood the rigid test of time, even as Mr. Bachhan needed to grow a goatee to win back his fans, is testimony to his unfaltering luminance.

Anyone who has followed Avtar Kishan Hangal's career closely, will agree to one thing without a doubt - the fact that the man's visage, and thus by extension, the man himself, is timeless. A recently discovered memoir of Mrs. Hangal, found in the ruins of modern day Sialkot reveals much about the young Avtar. Mrs. Hangal remembers the overcast day in 1917 Sialkot when the entire neighborhood had gathered at the Hangal shack to behold the newborn baby with so many lines on its forehead and wrinkles on its face that it resembled a cross and zero board. Over time, the lines and wrinkles only increased and Avtar's childhood friends started calling him Babyface, an ironic nickname that has stuck on since. Avtar was only 14 when Alam Ara was released, but he was dumbfounded by the imagery depicted by the leopard skin and bear fur costumes used in the movie. This is what spurred him to become a tailor. The Archaeological Survey of India reveals that he had been a tailor for more than thirty years before deciding to try his hand at Indian Cinema and that Rishi Kapoor actually apprenticed under him to prepare for his role of Akbar the tailor in Amar Akbar Anthony. All I can say is that the tailoring world's loss was a gain for Indian cinema.

While Bachhan was creating social unrest with his roles, Hangal was carrying the torch of Gandhigi into new decades, long before the term had been coined. He was teaching the downtrodden Indian man of the 70's to lay on his back and suffer the beatings of the powers that were, and the power of tears to the sister of the Indian man of the 70's who always provided her honor to the same powers on a platter, because the common man and his sister, are by design, helpless. 1975 was a landmark year for Indian cinema with the release of its blockbuster Sholay. Gabbar Singh's dialogs, glittered with creative rustic swearing, made it into the musical collection of every warm-blooded Indian adolescent. Hangal had his fans too, but nothing sums up his low-key style more than 'Itna sannata kyun hai bhai?'

Don't let the quietness of the man fool you. Hangal has political connections that will make a Dalit leader proud. Former PM P V Narasimha Rao is widely rumored to be his identical twin in political circles, albeit from different mothers. The very fact that Balasaheb Thakerey, that modern day Sherlock Holmes when it comes to identifying the inner goodness of people, had screamed for a boycott of his films in 1993, for wanting to visit his birthplace, which happens to fall in Pakistan, proves how much he unconsciously undermines the Balasaheb's authority with his mild visage and generally calm exterior in his very own cage, err, den.

He has completed 131 films which is more than what Bachhan has done if you don't include his beardless, post Sridevi era, and can even be seen providing well-meaning advice to great-granddaughters-in-law on TV serials these days on topics ranging from marital bliss to political empowerment of women. Hangal's favorite poem is Tennyson's The Brook, and much like the subject of the poem, "for men may come and men may go, but he goes on for ever."

Image: Chakpak.com

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I sat there listening to Peter Sarstedt as he asked his Lovely where she went to when she was alone in her bed on repeat, in one of the non-HOV lanes of a highway that connects San Francisco to San Jose willing the traffic to move faster than the hands of my watch. Rule #8 of the Student Handbook of the San Francisco School of Digital Film Making states "Students arriving 15 minutes after class starts shall be marked tardy for that session" or something conservatively official like that. The IPU finally heard my inarticulate prayers and started clearing cars off the highway with amazing speed and I managed to be just twelve minutes late on only my second day to class.

Like the main professor, today's professor also had that intellectual trait of the gray beard. He took a dig at the late comers with that weapon used by the great conversationalists of this world - humor and I didn't mind. He introduced himself as James Savoca - a Sicilian storyteller, like the great Francis Ford Coppola and said he was going to try to teach us screenwriting. While clearing out the basics, he kept going off on interesting tangents which told me this guy knew what he was talking about, like when he said "The only thing I know about you all is that you love to take risks in life and I respect that." or when he was saluting democracy by making an attempt to respect the decision of the people who have elected the Legend in the Oval Office today, albeit with a touch of Eastern philosophy.

His preference of character driven scripts over plot driven scripts further enamored him to me. Then I asked him if an event was absolutely necessary to qualify a script as having a conflict. He said "Great question" and I think my ears got bloodier than Mary. After answering, he took a closer look at me and asked me where I was from. I threw out "India" as if I was wrapping myself in a Pashmina shawl. He said, "Have you seen any of Satyajit Ray's movies?" "Big fan. We are from the same place in India", I blurted out. Like an infant welcoming the familiarity of his mother's breast, James said "Oh, you are Bengali" with a slow-rising lopsided grin. What followed I can only imagine to be a few very long minutes for the rest of the class as we dived headfirst into a not very pertinent discussion of Apur Sansar or The World of Apu and eventually Ravi Shankar and the tabla. I was about to ask him about the Calcutta Trilogy but then felt sorry for everyone else and decided to confront him after class.

Almost all examples after that had something to do with Ray. After class I found out he had become a fan of Chhabi Biswas after watching Jalsaghar recently. He was a bigger fan of Kurosawa and I had just missed a screening of Rashomon by a mere two weeks. He told me his bookshelf boasted of a few of Ray's books on film making like My Years with Apu and Our Films, Their Films and I told him about Biswas' lack of a musical ear, an unbelievable fact considering his larger than life performance in Jalsaghar from my reading of Speaking of Films. He then lamented the fact that not too many of Ray's work was out on DVD in the West. It was almost as if Manik Babu was standing over us and we were conversing in the enormous shadow of his 6' 5" frame. I also explained to him how despite her good acting skills, Taboo was an incorrect choice for the role of Ashima Ganguly in Namesake because of her utterly non-Bengali looks.

The only other time I was this smitten by a male stranger was when this American aviator had visited our school and his adventurous life had been a colorful dream to my juvenile mind. In fact, this smite might make me take up the Screenwriting Workshop he is teaching in April and has produced this late night post neglecting the pitch for the script of my film which is due tomorrow. I guess I'll get down to it now.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Indecent Proposal

Prologue: ArSENik twiddling this thumbs. ArSENik playing footsie with himself. ArSENik twiddling his thumbs AND playing footsie with himself. The phone rings shattering the silence only rivaled at dusk in zoos around the world.

Prof: What are your plans for 31st?
ArSENik (to himself): I have a date with the ghost of Lady Di.
ArSENik: Hang on. Lemme check with my PA.

More thumb twiddling and footsie.

Prof (to himself): Saala Pheku.
ArSENik: Haan looks like I am free.
Prof: Great. Ghar aaja. Party sharty karenge aapa.

Cast: ArSENik, Prof, Snakeman, Snakeman's wife Snakeeyes and a confetti of the Prof's friends who are not as important as the rest of the cast to the plot.

Scene 1: Dec 31, 2007 8:07 pm at the Prof's residence. ArSENik arrives seven minutes late for the party sharty but doesn't need to act guilty since there is only one other guest apart from the hosts and that too because his wife is visiting India, ruling out possibilities of tardiness. Time is passed watching almost nude women grooving to remixed tracks of classical Lata hits on B4U over some very strong ready made Mojito, which makes time fly. All the guests have arrived by 10:09 pm and so has the Glenfiddich. Everyone is greeting the guests while ArSENik rushes to break a little ice with his old buddy Glen.

Some buzzed or Punjabi men have taken to the dance floor. Glen makes the Punjabi folk beats
mellower than any self respecting Punjabi singer can tolerate. At some point ArSENik gets sucked into the whirlpool of moving well-muscled hairy limbs and starts dishing out his Bengali version of drunken Bhangra.

Snakeman (referring to ArSENik): Iss bande ko bahut Bhangra ke steps aate hain.
Prof (taking away Snakeman's drink): Is Snakewoman the DD tonight?

More alcohol, more drunken snake dancing...

Snakewoman: So where are you from?
ArSENik: Terebithia.
Snakewoman: Where is that?
ArSENik (rolling his eyes): Oh, that's a district in Calcutta. They have changed the name now though, to Jadavpur.
Snakewoman (with uninhibited glee): Oh, you are Bungali. Do you like posto?
ArSENik pinches himself and clears his ears. He is just about to enter his flirting mode when he realizes she is happily married assuming dancing liaisons are accepted as an indicator of marital bliss.
ArSENik (smiling like a gardener who has just been offered lemonade by his female employer): Are you kiddin'? That is probably the dearest thing to me among everything that is legal outside Holland, but how do you know about posto?
Snakeeyes: My stepfather is Bungali too.
Pregnant silence.
ArSENik: Oh. Umm... I think Bouthan needs help with that bottle opener.
ArSENik runs away.

Scene 2: Jan 3, 2008 12:11 pm at the office cafe during lunch. ArSENik and Prof have placed their trays of bland food on the table not so long ago and ArSENik has just placed a spoonful of mashed potatoes into his mouth.

Prof: Tere liye rishta aaya hai.
ArSENik (not the upholder of the best manners, talking while chewing the potatows, which he realizes aren't that mashed anyway) : Rakhi ke liye toh bahut time hai iss saal.
Prof: Abbey Nautanki. Bol karega?
ArSENik: Kisko karna hai?
Prof: Shaadi. Snakeeyes ki Bungalan saheli hai.
ArSENik chokes on some otherwise mild potatoes. After a little water, regains his usual air of serenity.
ArSENik (not realizing it's been three years since he has been of 'age'): Isn't that illegal?

After lunch, Prof and ArSENik use Orkut to stalk the prospective bride by using deduction that would have made Holmes and Bakshi proud, all on the company's time. Luckily for them, Snakewoman has only one Bungalan friend who isn't married or hasn't changed her name to "check new pics" or something equally exhibitionist. Prof is impressed by the 'freshness' of her face as most non-Bungali men are when faced with Bungalan visages. ArSENik is unimpressed about the fact that she only chooses to display her face. "Zaroor moti ya langdi hai, ya dono!" he proclaims with utter disregard for political correctness in the workplace. Then he sees 'IIT Kharagpur' in her communities and starts daydreaming about the realization of his secret fantasy - living off the SO's earnings before letting the pessimist in him win with the argument that IIT-K just proves that she is moti or langdi or both.

Prof: Abbey saale! Achhi hai.
ArSENik: Accha pooch khaana waana banana aata hai ke nahin.
Prof (almost as excited as he was moments before his Bachelor Party): Abhi poochta hoon.
Prof is about to log into Gmail.
ArSENik: Haan aaj kal waise bhi The W ki dal kha kha ke pak gaya main. Biwi ki position toh nahin hai lekin ek bawarchan accomodate kar sakta hoon main.

By this point Prof is puffing out smoke from all openings on his face and suddenly ArSENik can see him take Snakewoman's form. The following is the dialog that ensues between ArSENik and his imaginary friend TP, who is actually a mute and communicates using ASL, but for the benefit of the readers, I have reproduced his lines in English here. Needless to say, as with all translations, the original impact of the profound thoughts are not entirely retained.
ArSENik: I think marriage is a club.
TP: Yeah, it's called Strip Club. Marriage strips you of all liberties.
ArSENik: Abbey no. This one has that pyramid business style structure - remember all that Ambay jazz? The more people you induct, the more points you get. Arrey that same one where you have to sell like 50 soaps to each of your contacts in a month. Why do you think that is so?
TP (with a faraway look in his eyes and in an Ajit voice): Vary simple. Joh mazaa khushi lootne se milti hai woh sirf ghum baantne se hi mil sakti hai.
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