There’s Hope #Movies

Potential spoiler. Not giving out the plot, but it may influence your thinking, if you haven’t and are going to watch the movie.

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I watched Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (2017), yesterday. (IMDB has got it wrong; its spelled with two a’s, unless of course, you use the ā, in place of the single a). It was everything that I didn’t expect it to be. Primarily, it was dragged to death and beyond. I am a big fan of the fantasy genre, and I enjoyed Baahubali: The Beginning (2015), a lot. In spite of some really over-the-top stuff in the movie. And given the suspense created in the first movie, I was really looking forward to the second. I’ll stop just short of saying that it fell flat. I’ll concede, however, that watching it dubbed (very badly) in Hindi was a mistake. I should have gone for the original Telugu version. I understand a few words and phrases in Telugu; but that’s not reason: there’s something very disturbing when sound and lip-movements are out of sync. It’s the effect, methinks, that’s diluted in dubbing. Subtitles are a better alternative. And when you are creating an artwork on such a large canvas, that one small thing can ruin the painting. Most of the CGI was impeccable, except for fire. They haven’t mastered that. That was very childish. This isn’t review, just thoughts. Five of my co-cinema-goers were equally (or more) disappointed, so we decided to wash down our dismay with a few beers.

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I have practiced suspension of disbelief much before I learnt what it meant. It has always helped me with imagination. Considering possibilities is exciting. And when you start considering, you can go various places. Including some not-so-nice places. Yet, it is worth the trade-off.

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After mocking the movie over a couple of beers, we asked ourselves if this is the fare that we are doomed for? I didn’t completely agree, but I didn’t say so.

Holding on

A week ago, I watched Poorna (2017). [PS: It’s available on Amazon Prime]

I am a very involved movie-watcher, and I experience the emotions that a director of a movie would like me to. If she is a good director. I laugh and cry wholeheartedly; get angry and afraid as the story asks of me. I do not watch horror movies because I do not like to be terrified. It’s not an emotion I prefer, if I can avoid it. The real-world is terrifying enough.

Poorna is the (real) story of the youngest girl to have scaled Mt. Everest. I’ll just say that. There are other adjectives to the tag line, in my opinion — they aren’t important.

The movie was a multi-layered emotional roller-coaster. The first layer is obvious: it’s her story, and in that sense, a dramatised documentary. But there’s something deeper. And without warning the layers reveal themselves. And it’s less about her and her motivations; it starts becoming about you. It touches your heart. Straight, direct, instant.

There’s hope. There’s proof. Of good movies.

Arth: A Conversation

When we smile, do we hide a lot? Are our smiles honest? It begets the question, what is honesty, really? When we express ourselves the way we want to — it is honesty. When we express ourselves without intention, that is honesty, too. Is the smile a manner of how we “are,” or how we want to “be,” or how we want to be “seen.”

Honest to whom? To ourselves, of course, I presume. Then, what we project is immaterial, isn’t it? Or is it? I don’t know. What we feel, what we think, what we want to happen, what we want others to think about how we “really” feel is all about being “happy”, with our being, in essence, it seems. So, whether we really feel a certain way of being “happy”, or we expect others to reinforce our own “projected happiness”, to be really happy with our own existence… well, I still don’t know what begets what. “Aankhon mein namee, haseen labon par” [Translation: Moist eyes; yet a smile on my lips]— we all need someone to see that moist eye, somewhere hiding behind the smiling face, I guess?

Are our tears a call for action, from the other, in that sense? When we cry, alone, are we really hoping that someone sees our tears? Not true, always, in my experience. Crying alone has its value; its virtue. Cathartic, some might say. We are to be responsible for ourselves. I am not talking of the social diktat. We have to dwell, twirl, and spiral within all that we feel. Poets, the good ones, have done injustice, for we borrow from them, the meaning and structure of what we feel. I utterly dislike poets. I have perhaps, said this to you before. As much as I love them. The sense of my feelings never seem to be my own.

We borrow, where we fail to express well. However, in essence, the point is that there’s a form and meaning to the emotions that we all feel that these poets provide, so to speak. A vehicle, in a way. But that’s besides the point, no? Are our tears, shown or not shown, a call to action for the other? Well, we want to hide the best we can what we don’t want others, including our loved ones, to judge us on, at any point of time. Point remains – any emotion , when unexpressed, is what we appreciate much more when felt by the ‘other’. As for the expression of these emotions, through those vicarious, or through some ways external to us – like these songs from Arth, are just a channel. In some sense, I feel, it’s useless in way. Because, such oral and obvious expressions are not what we’re looking, for when we expect latent emotions to be really “felt” without specific ventilation on our part. When you lose your primary audience (you know who I mean) and that medium of conversation (with those channels cut off), these songs become your emotional anthems.

So, these songs are our crutches, in some form? They are, perhaps. But, given that these songs are so beautiful, I’d rather not attribute ‘crutch’ to them. But that that’s just me. So, when the lover asks, how could I ever burn those wonderful handwritten letters of yours, he speaks of the dilemma of the beginning and the end at the same time. But the sense of burning never leaves him, for even when he submits her love letters to the Holy Ganges, he speaks of lighting a pyre in that pure water. Purity of fire, meets purity of the Ganges.

“Him”; I think of ‘me’ every single time these words pass through me. Beauty of these words, somewhere, lies in the fact that it’s so close to the feeling of a sense of loss, that you feel, is not warranted. The connection, the emotion, the whole ventilation that goes through you, is what makes these songs immortal, at least as far as I’m concerned. Despite all the things we do in our regular lives, we live for those moments that remain with us. A letter, handwritten, garnished, conceived from start to the end, in the heart of someone that values us for “just existing,” for God’s sake, is something that cannot be burnt. That age-old paper, with that ink, lost in past, with those emotions buried within those strokes of ink, lends you, your life — today. And, that’s a big deal.

“Despite all the things we do in our regular lives, we live for those moments that remain with us.” — well said. I once said, that our lives are just a count of incidents. It’s the same, when you refer to them as “moments.” And, as most corny and cheesy memes on Facebook and Twitter will tell you, it’s these moments that determine our life. I disagree. Moments are so personal, they can never be generalised to a population. When, in “Jhuki Jhuki Si Nazar” – he asks her to count the heartbeats of her young heart and asks for comparison with his own, that’s not his real question — he is seeking a sense of oneness; a sense of a shared, common existence. I go back to my question of the smile. In the song, in the last stanza, he displays braggadocio – but it’s not; he is as much scared in his expression of love as much as she is scared to admit it.

“He is seeking a sense of oneness”. Hoping. That’s what a lover ends up hoping for, and hopes for it to be the truth. I sense; a sense of optimism mixed with romanticism, with a purport of really knowing what the other person feels. You only know if it’s what ‘you hope for’, or ‘is the truth that’s being hidden behind all these facial expressions of casualness’; if you’ve really gone through it with a person yourself. Depending on where you are in any relationship, you could be anywhere in the continuum of possibilities — hope to reality. And, when things in reality don’t really converge with hope, then, you end up blurting out – “vo jo apna tha vohi aur kisi ka kyun hai, yahi duniya hai to phir eisi ye duniya kyun hai, yehi hota hai to aakhir yehi hota kyun hai…”. [Translation: That which was mine, why is it someone else’s; if this is how the world is, why is the world like this] Sometimes, it’s all about hope. Even in despair, poets find a way to find hope. Even if that knock on your door is in your imagination, you seek to open it. Oughta learn?

Are you in love?

A lover is always in.

Haha. Good one, mate. I expected another word to end that sentence of yours. But, by the stroke of slashing that word, you have described a true lover. Love is not about being loved. It is about being “in” love.

Aah, there’s my clue! Did you notice that we have two words – “Lover” and “beloved”. Loving is the action, and that’s the only one that you’re responsible for. Being a beloved is not in your hands. So, yeah, Love is about loving. As for being loved, well, keep hoping. Being loved is not in your hands. So, all you can do is love. And, being beloved? Well….

I like that. Being in love, i.e. It was Voltaire, if I remember well, who said, “it is better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all.” And I reiterate — I like being in love. The sheer essence of the feeling makes my world go round (or around, whatever the word is). May there be more who seek love, in the true sense of what it means (and that needs to be discovered, for who knows, what love really means.)

You said it – “Who knows what love really means”. ‘Koi ye kaise bateye ke vo tanhaan kyun hai,..’ [Translation: How does one know if another is lonely]. Who knows whatever ‘whatever’ means. In the end, like Jagjit Singh says… ‘Aas jo toot gayi, phir se bandhata kyun hai…’ [Translation: Why do you try and bind the hope that is broken] – It’s all about hope, mate. Whenever I listen to these songs of “Arth”, I get a sense of melancholy and hope — in love, combined, if it makes sense; that’s what matters, immaterial of the possession of that ‘you’.

I see you, and this thought comes to my mind…

~o~

PS: The above post was a “live conversation” that occurred on a shared Google Doc that I had with Ashish Bhagwat. We were together, facing each other, as this post developed. Before we started this “experiment,” we talked of much, and as a blogging experiment, we had a ‘digital’ conversation. The conversation was centred around the songs of the movie — Arth. No edits were made. This post was linear; one paragraph by him and the next by me. His conversations are in italics; mine are regular. My blogging experiments continue. If you have an idea, let me know: we should experiment more.

Ashish Bhagwat - Co-blogging

Ashish Bhagwat – Co-blogging

Freshen up: Shower or Travel?

This writing challenge is not the only challenge I’ve taken up, if you were wondering. (which is a stupid thing to say, because why would you be wondering about that!) And sincere apologies – again – for starting a post about the challenge. This post however, has nothing to do with writing or the challenge of a-post-a-day.

Parentheses /pəˈrɛnθɨsiːz/ (singular, parenthesis /pəˈrɛnθɨsɨs/) (also called simply brackets, or round brackets, curved brackets, oval brackets, or, colloquially, parens /pəˈrɛnz/) contain material that serves to clarify, or is aside from the main point. A milder effect may be obtained by using a pair of commas as the delimiter, though if the sentence contains commas for other purposes, visual confusion may result.

In school, we used to call all enclosing symbols as brackets. Later, while working as a technical writer, I discovered that there were parentheses, (hard) brackets, (curly) braces, chevrons, angle brackets, and corner brackets. And apparently each one of them has a specific purpose. I’ll ignore them for this post.  (Because this post isn’t about brackets)

For a person who likes to travel a lot, I travel a lot less. (See? How I constructed that sentence? Smart, eh? Lot; Lot less?) Definitely less than I’d want to. I had promised myself, that come what may (I promised myself this in April, not in May), I’d travel at least once a month for at least three days. I did go out in May (Just so you know, I took up this challenge in April (like I said before)), but did not in June. But then this June was more like a curse, less like a boon. (OK, I just made that up because it rhymed – there’s no rule that says there cannot be rhyme in prose.) July is a bit more relaxed, so, in July I will fly. (Yes, I made that up too). And I won’t discuss the other months, because I already know the rhymes for all the other months, thanks to April, Come She Will (We fans, call it the 2-quarter song – because it goes from April-September).

So, for a person who likes to travel a lot, I travel a lot less. I wish I travelled more. The other day, an ex-colleague of mine advertised for a job of CTO for a travel startup. I thought, hmm, that would be fun (actually, I thought, that would be interesting; not fun; but fun sounds better). Not that I am qualified to be a CTO, yet, I thought about it, for a while. I then realised that the CTO would be sitting in one place, ensuring all the code and software is written, and not travelling. (It’s like being an accountant for a perfume company, or ground staff for an airline company, or something like that) I said to myself, no way, I’d take that job. Not that I am looking for a job, I am quite happy and excited about what I do.

But the travel bug continues to bite. As I write this post, I am ignoring all the scars and the pain (emotional, mind you, not physical) of all the biting that has happened in the past several months.

People travel for different reasons, but all those who travel are enriched in some way or the other. Some travel to tell themselves, “I was here,” some travel to tell others, “I was here.” Some travel to see, some to eat, and some, to meet new people. Whatever the reason, travel is liberating. It unshackles us from the daily humdrum that we eventually begin to accept as the norm. I, for one, have never tried to analyse why I like to travel. I do show off on social media about where I am, making the then city dwellers envious. I post exotic (if you can call them that; they’re just local) photos of food that I eat. I usually do not care to take in the popular sights, but I’ll go along if my companion wants to.

No one has yet called me that, but you could call me the reluctant tourist.

A Night Street

I have rarely travelled alone, someone has always been with me, yet, I travel to be with myself. There’s something sticky about the city, that is always on you, unrelenting, an intangible gooey smear all over your self, which never leaves you alone. Of all the things that I enjoy when I travel, is the absence of that sticky, gooey thing. I do not detest it, for I am a city person, and love everything about a city. Yet, a short stint, being free of that layer is a sense of lightness that I cherish. It’s a feeling of freshness, like you have just had a nice shower. That sense of me, being with myself is all I seek. Apart from that, I really care little for what I do.

There may be some travel in July. I look forward to it.

But I won’t be taking up that CTO job. No.

Within the Folds of Our Hearts

Things will change.

In the last ten years of blogging I have particularly established that. (If you don’t believe me, you’ll have to go through the past ten years of posts; I don’t mind if you do.) Notwithstanding what I wrote, you have always known it. It is another matter whether you have accepted or denied it. Things will change.

Yet, we protect what is dear to us. Rightly so. Artefacts of the past; things that are yester-dear to us. It may be a trinket that we valued because of who or where it was from; a nagging feeling that swelled our hearts to the point of explosion; an act no longer performed that once used to bring a smile to her face. Or the other things that you are imagining and recalling right now. I don’t mind. Pause reading this post. Take time to open them up. Those things that are dear to us. We protect them in a small recess or a narrow crevice of the folds of our heart muscles. Hidden, but available. We do that, and allow for change.

Blossoms

Then, we judge the change. Compare it with all that we have hidden inside and pass sentences on the change. Often, we will accept that change, but not as a replacement for that which we have stuffed in the recesses and the crevices. We’ll allow the changes to stand in doorways that have multiple exits; if they want to leave, they can. If they stay long enough, they’ll find a place in the recess or the crevice.

We have a tendency to underestimate our hearts. That fistful of an organ is capable of holding much more than we think. An immense capacity for love, e.g. The hallways and the aisles have much space, that can accommodate all the love that is possible in this world. The recesses and crevices are reserved for the elite, though: a space that is available at all times, but has to be earned. None other may enter. And if you want to, then:

Find a way to my heart…

There’s a reason I hide my heart
Out of sight out of mind
And when I find out just who you are
The door will be open for you to…

Find a way to my heart…

~ Phil Collins, Find a Way to My Heart

You want that, right? You want someone to find a way to your heart. Well, you should do the same.

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Dear Tiger Shroff, I heard the song from Heropanti – Whistle Baja.  I think the girls of your generation find you cute and all. I’ve heard that you can do some wonderful stunts. I wish you all the best. But, blowing a tune that belonged to your father – in your v-neck t-shirt; the tune that was cultish for us, hasn’t helped you. When I listen to Whistle Baja, I automatically remember your father. So, I listen to that song for a few seconds and go to YouTube to listen/see the original. I do realise that your fan-base is different and I am not a part of it. But, try to make an identity for yourself. Avoid appropriating your father’s legacy. Even if he has allowed you that. There’s a lot of place in our hearts, but if you want to get into the recesses and crevices, you’ll have to do more.

Find a way to my heart…

 

 

Special Effect Stories

Last Thursday was heavy with work. All through the day there was much happening. So when the day busy-ness started to taper a bit towards the evening, it was welcome and the coffee that followed was refreshing. The coffee soon got over and so did the conversation – and my friend suggested we go and watch a movie. I wasn’t quite keen to travel that day, so we thought we’d check out what was playing in the nearest theatre. The last time I had been to a theatre to watch a movie was exactly a year ago, when Skyfall was released.

Krrish 3

I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Krrish 3, but I was too tired to travel, so Krissh 3 it was. We bought tickets for the last show, went home, had dinner, and returned for the show.

Krissh 3 is a good production. Which does not make it a good movie, by the way. I recall having said this when Ra.One was released and many movie aficionados  who believe that I watch good movies were quite upset. But I maintain that there’s a clear distinction between a good movie and a good production. Ra.One and Krrish 3 are the later.

Most disaster and super-hero(ine) movies require a suspension of disbelief – that’s a given. For example, if we question the key event that kids actually shrink, in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids  there is no way you can enjoy the movie. Wilful suspension of disbelief applies in equal measure whether the movie is produced in Hollywood or in Mumbai.

[Potential Spoiler Ahead]

So accepting that some kind of super air- and water-borne virus, DNA cocktails, maverick bone-marrow transplants, and multi-mirror reflective solar energy absorption is possible, is as necessary as accepting that you can influence people’s actions by entering multi-tier dream states  Now, it’s easier for us to determine whether the movie is good, and we can think of the story-telling, the acting, the sound, the direction and other such aspects of the movie.

Oxford Street, London, UK

Krrish 3 fails in many departments except the visual effects and production quality. As I’ve mentioned before – this bar was set by Ra.One. Indian movies will have to let go of the formula baggage if they have to make a “good movie” rather than a “good production.” This is not to say that you need to strip off all the emotion and drama. Superman, Batman and Spiderman have enough of emotion and drama in them. It needs to be dialled back, that is all. And just because the movie has some amazing visual and special effects, it does not exempt good acting.  And finally because you have some wonderful effects developed, you cannot keep repeating them in the climax. After two large falling concrete blocks that have been kicked to dust by the superhero, we get the idea. We do not need eleven. After the hero and villain have been dragged down a very tall building smashing all the glass, we get it. This is not an instructional video. It’s entertainment. This is where I though Ra.One did it better than Krissh 3.

Krrish 3, to my mind would have been such a wonderful film if it wasn’t “inspired” by X-Men, Hancock, and Transformers 3. The part of “multi-mirror reflective solar energy absorption” was used to good effect at the end, invoking a theme from the Bhagvad Gita. If we are to look for superhuman acts, there’s enough body of work in our backyard. But importantly, there’s possibility for original stories. There must be a million ways in which a disaster could occur. Viruses are so yesterday.

Mainstream Indian Cinema has come a long way. In almost all departments, except two: Good story-telling and convincing acting. When they get this right, there won’t be mainstream and side-stream (parallel) cinema.

It will be one long stream of wonderful entertainment.

PS: Later, we considered that 40-year olds is not the demographic that FilmKraft was targeting. It’s a children’s movie. But, I’d like children also to benefit from good storytelling and good acting, and therefore grow up watching good movies.

Standing Strong; Blue Corner

I’m a filmophile. Or a moviophile. You choose.

I love movies. I love the wonder and the world that they belong to – that is just an inch away that you can touch and be a part of it – yet is a million miles away where we can hardly find a connection. Like people get passionate about football (I mean soccer) and cricket, I feel the same about movies. I am the one who watches movies that are known to be bad films. How else will you ever know what good films are about? And yet, I have not found a (useful) rubric that defines good films, other than the sermons of a handful of critics. And most of these critics talk on an a very elusive technical plane.

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Emotional appeal is lost to them. Well, I lose it sometimes, too.

The Filmfare Awards are the equivalent of the Oscars, in India. They are a bit younger than the Oscars, but in spite of many other awards, they seem to carry some weight unlike the others. You will hear many complain that we do not have the finesse of presenting an award show. It’s usually not well planned, its offensive sometimes, and more often than not – garish. I have a theory about that, which I will promulgate in another post. I have other concerns at this time.

I was devastated when the best actor award went to Ranbir Kapoor when you had nominations for Irrfan Khan (Paan Singh Tomar) and Manoj Bajpai (Gangs of Wasseypur). If the Filmfare Awards were purely a people’s choice award, I would have let go; they aren’t – they are dual. If some kind of statistics has come into play – weight-age, summation, mean, median, mode, that’s fine; there’s no way I can argue with that. But there’s no way, people who have seen all the five films thought that Ranbir Kapoor was better than the other nominees.

As far as I am concerned, Ranbir Kapoor is Bollywwod’s answer to Harrison Ford. Both of them have a “permanently bewildered” expression for any emotion. Some actors, just cannot be The Last King of Scotland.

Blue corner redefines its ethos.

Backseat Adventures

For a while now, I have been taking photographs from the inside of a rickshaw and exploring the nuances of the rickety travel across city streets.

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This is just one of the views, for a wider exploration see the entire set. Beyond the visual, one-way conversations, there are those that involve people.

It all started with the rickshaw-driver asking me if the day was still a holiday, considering the low evening peak traffic. I said, I’d expect that people would be back at work; enough time to nurse their hangovers (alcoholic and otherwise), and added, it’s a good thing that the traffic is sparse; I’ll reach home early. No, he said, it’s a bad thing, he’d struggle to get fares.

One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.

Smaller bits of conversation ensued regarding driving sense, road quality, politics and such, and I was about to give up the conversation as the usual rickshaw banter. He was talking of being a part-time rickshaw driver. Politeness as well as curiosity made me ask him, what his day job was. He laughed, and said that I’d laugh too, if he told me. Since I was on the edge of walking away from the conversation, I said, I’d respect it if he didn’t want to tell. I could now get back to checking my mail.

“Have you heard of IPTA?”

“What?” It sounded like ITTA when he first said it and all the honking and acceleration by trucks on the flyover was not helping.

“IPTA – Indian People’s Theatre Association,” he elaborated.

“Of course, I know IPTA.”

He seemed surprised that I knew IPTA. “My day job is with IPTA.”

“What do you do there?” The default profession would be an actor, but I wasn’t going to stereotype.

“I am an actor and a writer,” he said, and went on to explain that he was an assistant to a writer, and picked up roles when he could. A brief history of IPTA was narrated and the bad influence of money on art was investigated in some detail.

“You could join mainstream and make enough money, films, television, enough avenues out there,” I said, in some part, defending the 100-crore club.

“I am not in it to make money, I want to stay true to my calling,” came the incorruptible reply. “I make enough money for me to sustain and watch movies.”

A Wednesday (2008) was cited as an example of good film-making. Titanic, and Inception got special mention. I asked, if he had seen In Time (2011). Yes, he said. Star Movies. Nuances of conceptual art were discussed. People’s over-reliance on mindless entertainment was lamented. Mumbai’s ability to make billionaires of beggars was lauded in spite of its heartlessness and bad food; unlike Kolkata, where he was from. Vincent Van Gogh featured as an artist who died without experiencing appreciation while he was alive. The role of the audience and the performer was surgically explored – the inter-dependency was confirmed.

“Two hundred rupees,” he said, as I reached home. We both felt that the traffic should have been worse and the conversation longer, but some conversations are beautiful when they are short, unplanned and have an ending.

Rush-hour traffic is a good conversation-enabler.