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, 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?

3/26/2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Narrative

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

AD

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?
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