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."

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.

Thanku.

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

Smitten

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.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Dear Waheedaji

They say happiness is nothing but the lack of sorrow. This definition does not apply to me because happiness to me is just watching you without mattering whether you are happy, sad, naughty or angry on screen. Recently, a friend of mine said he could watch a movie with just Katrina dancing around. At the time, I had thought him to be crazy. However, while watching you overshadow Dev Anand in Guide yesterday simply with your ebullience, I realized what my friend was feeling. I did not fast forward over the songs that featured you, and given the fact that I know very little about dance, it is nothing but evidence that I am hooked.

I used to tell people who would listen that you are my all time primero uno beauty, followed by Parveen Babi and Sharmila Tagore, in that order. After yesterday, I have realized that Ms. Babi and Shamilaji are much lower on the list since with you occupying the first position, the next few positions are forced to be unoccupied - a testimony to not only your sheer beauty, but also your poise, elegance and optical intelligence.





When you put on that nose ring and danced to Piya Tose Naina Lagey Re or performed that classical yet sultry Nagin dance, I must shamelessly admit that I went a little weak in the legs. You may well have been referring to a red sweatered Dev Anand as your fellow traveler and asking him to accompany you and to never change with the world, but in the vast strawberry fields in my head, it was I, who was running with you holding your hand, stopping at times not to catch my breath, but just to stare at your mind numbing face and expressive eyes.

If the Genetic Theory is to be believed, there should be more classical beauties like you, Ms. Babi and Sharmilaji walking around on the sets of Indian cinema, but all I see in Soha on the horizon. If you have any granddaughters or even grandnieces, please let this muse-seeking starving poet know. It might solve the problem of the alarmingly low number of strawberries in his basket.

Warmest Regards,
An understated admirer

Image Credit: moviewalah.com

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Shattering Myths ... about Realism

Yuri Gagarin said "I could have gone on flying through space forever." Jaggu Chan, our beloved disciple of Prabhuji Mithun Chakraborty who has done much to propagate the 'faith' first in the East and nowadays even in the West has made this something of a motto for his entire career. Inside sources in the Hong Kong mafia claim that it was Jaggu's childhood ambition to soar the high skies and whistle at air hostesses, but unfortunately, he could not meet the height requirement of pilot school.

The Myth features him in his most mature role to date - an urbane archaeologist with a dashing bachelor pad complete with a moving roof overlooking the sea and yet you find no honies on any of his bean bags, mainly because of his narcolepsy. He falls asleep at odd times of the day and starts dreaming of a life lived centuries ago. A princess with a questionable choice in men, ignores royal passes and instead lusts over Jaggu, who is a general in the royal army but his only job is to protect the princess. What is special about the dreams are that they are as episodic as Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan. Also please note Jaggu's subtle ode to Satyajit Ray's Sonar Kella here and flirting with the classic debate over rebirth. The princess reinvents a new CPR technique which involves disrobing the woman's upper garment and hugging the dying male. This stable boy-rich Lady taboo love affair reaches unimaginable unidirectional proportions though when the princess decides to sit quite pretty on a carriage about to slip away to oblivion as Jaggu ties himself to the carriage when he is interrupted by a sword fight seeking enemy soldier.

Like every great story, The Myth also has a femme fatale - the irrepressible Mallika Sherawat with her chest that shares the same quality. Essaying the role of the rustically foxy and curiously named Samantha - a character who exclusively forces the story to move to a South Indian village with heinous extras who could crack mirrors with just their looks, brandishing shiny swords like children's toys. Incidentally, they do not use alarm clocks in rural South India. Men wake up to women practicing some form of suggestive aerobics style dance routine in minimal robes. The script did not explore how women wake up. Samantha's other vocations include teaching an elephant called Lakmshi how to give her a bath by spraying her with water and making a case for Ms. Sherawat as an entrant for the Miss World Wet Tshirt pageant, and emulating Reena Roy's Nagin dance moves. India is shown to have progressed from being a country of monkey brain connoisseurs in Temple of Doom to flying sadhus in 2007. The most memorable scene of this landmark film for me was an action sequence on a tarred floor in which Ms. Sherawat first strips herself partly and then Jaggu helps her finish half the job - all in the name of saving her life. Don't get me wrong. The scenes have been very tastefully shot, as every fan of Ms. Sherawat's assets will vouch for, because Jaggu only makes movies for the whole family.

Jaggu ends the movie with odes to two cinematic greats - Kulbhushan Kharbanda and George Lucas. The villain of the movie dons what can only be deciphered to be a Chinese version of the bandhgala that Mr. Kharbanda was wearing in Shaan as the inimitable Shakaal. If rumors are to be believed, Surf Excel has approached the actor playing the villain's part as he miraculously manages to maintain the whiteness of his attire after beating up half a dozen good guys in mud - the sight of which would be enough to elicit inconsolable scolding from all mothers around the world. The last half an hour or so of the movie pitches the charm of science fiction in a historical setting - something even Lucas had not dared to explore in his Star Wars series. Jaggu borrows the climax straight out of the general script of Priyadarshan's comedies but colors it with a serious touch. The combination of all the influences produces scenes never before seen outside the Bhojpuri film industry - a flying villain, clay horses, temperamental gravity and Jaggu's very own constipated facial expressions.
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