Monday, September 29, 2008

Damn! (not being Victorian enough to say anything else)

Pic courtesy: MK
I am feeling damn! today, for no particular reason. Oh before I rant, I love the above picture that says so much. I love eyes that speak and this man's eyes say a lot. Well, I know though that he was, at the moment of taking this picture, not as angry as he looks. He was curious, a little irritated even, at the departure from what was prosaic for him. Some people like that word, status quo, I guess.

I wish I could say that. I am irritated with...I am not sure what. I am angry, a bit with the world, a lot with myself. I am cynical, sarcastic when I speak of the universe I have around me, not the whole wide one with the millions of people and stars and planets, but the one that I have around myself, my life and the people who make it my very own universe. I feel like jabbing a closed fist at the rest of the world and saying Damn! I am angry at some things that will never change, at things that have changed, at things that will change. I hate monotony, yet I hate the change. I do not want to smile, or cry, or do anything at all. Would the world allow me to escape to a secure, warm, cozy little thing called a shell? Or would I be dragged out half way through and told to behave and be good to the world? I know I will drag myself out, the world has to only give me a hard look and I shall cower under its gaze.

Sometimes, even cynicism and a great deal of sarcasm is not self-defense enough to protect me from the rest of them. Why do I seek protection, from whom, when "them" are all actually my very own. Am I being philosophical here? Mere play of words that spill out again? Cynical again? Or plain not ok with that word, status quo?

I don't know. I don't want to. Like the man in the picture, my eyes supposedly speak. And are open. But like someone said, what others think about me is none of my business.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Write on Sunday Morning about a Wednesday

Ok, all agreed, A Wednesday is a great movie by normal Hindi commercial movie standards. There is this fantastic clash between the two titans, Nasseruddin Shah and Anupam Kher. Made me realise how underutilised they are in all the other movies they normally act in. Two fine actors. Great looking and great acting cast. Fast editing, great cinematography. But A Wednesday is a movie I stop a little short from saying "that's a great one".

The first half is beautiful though. The suspense builds up, the background score is great, very professional and all that. But to me, the tempo simply did not remain in the second half. It was...well, not exactly preachy but maybe a tad too idealistic. I thought of Rang de Basanti and that fantastic plan to kill the defence minister, an idealistic solution to the country's corruption. A Wednesday is much more subtle, but too stereotypical for me. Kher, towards the end, talks of how he would never reveal the common man's name because with the name, you tend to recognise the man's religion and subsequently, attach an entire perceived identity and a host of stereotypical ideals to him. But previously, there are the terrorists, all Muslims. That was what irritated me the most.

"Manufactured Consent", Noam Chomsky called it. I love that term because it explains in a phrase the entire hogwash the world is fed with, the explanations that you are forced to read, the thoughts your mind is told to think by the media, the powerful, those others with all vested interests. There is this gross generalisation in the film, the terrorist rants on about "their country and their people and their fight", chiding the police officer of not being on his side. A religion is automatically supposed to give you an entire set of rules on how you are to think, about how you are to perceive your position as regards to the "others".

Isn't that the world view? They are bad, everyone else is good. Watching the movie reminded me strangely of certain intimidating issues. Last week, on assignment, I was passing by this minority populated area. Every few feet, there was a saffron flag with the Om on it. I am a Hindu, by birth. My introduction to even fundamentalism goes back a long way, though i strictly do not subscribe to it. And yet, it intimidated me, made me think of how the others would perceive it. If a white robe, a green shawl, long beard and surma on the eyes could make most people look away or at least inwardly cringe, wouldn't a saffron flag do the same. When it can strangely intimidate a person of the same religion, what would be the effect on the others?

I generally avoid the issue of religion. This is one topic you can never really get right. You can only be politically incorrect. I have never been religious either. At best, I believe in God, at my worst, I forget to remember God. Am I secular? Not always. There are times I cringe too, and I write this with a tinge of disgust, on myself, for being part of that manufactured consent on what I am supposed to think. But that engineering of views that remodels itself every few decades and sets the agenda for the policies and opinions you have on people other than your own selves is something that you cannot really escape from. Isn't it easy, an act of terrorism, blame it on fundamentalism. The 'ism's that crop up are the perfect excuse its perpetrators have to explain their actions to the world and in a way justify them. We all do that. We cringe, nod our heads in silent consent at the typifying of actions, of dastardly acts.

We walk out of a movie, all praise, technically great, yes, but a consent factory still. Silently views we are supposed to see the people of the world are reiterated. It is too subtle to note. Yet manufacturing consent is that continuous process, the survival of the greats of the world, the strength of absolute power and subsequent corruption depends on this. I refuse to think the way I am told to. And yet, I manufacture consent. Doesn't that make them the winners?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Playing now....

[A post because I wanted to post something but did not have the time to write a long one!]

I used to think I was not much of a music person until I discovered the FM radio stations and off late, after I got my iPod. I love music now, cannot work with it. And I say it literally. To me multi-tasking is my iPod plugged into my ears, once in a while a little web surfing and work.
I love how tiny my little iPod is, love it that it can hold so many songs. There are some 200+ songs on it now, but the ones that I search for the most are these:

* Nee bandu nintaaga, nintu nee nakkaga, sothe nanaga: One of the most perfect songs I have ever heard from the film Kasturi Nivasa, sung to perfection by the golden voiced P B Srinivas and P Susheela. The lyrics, the tempo, the way it flows, perfect!

* Maathinalli helalarenu, rekheyalli geechalarenu: From the new film Bombaat. Beautiful lyrics, lovely voice.

* Tum ho tho, gaata he dil, tum nahi to geet kahaan: From the movie Rock On. Amazing film, great song, words that will remain in my heart for long.

* Jo pyar tune mujko diya tha, wo pyar tera mein lautaraha hoon: Sung by Mukesh, an eternal favourite of mine. I never fail to cry when I listen to this.

* Teri Deewani: By Kailash Kher. That man has the power to melt hearts with his voice.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Of Passion and Everything Else in Between

I once told ma, that when I took the decision to be a journalist, I also took the decision to not have much of a social life. Come to think of it, most people I know just do not get it that my work hours are not fixed, that I actually begin to seriously sit down to file stories when the rest of them are winding up for the day. Seen from an insider's perspective, I must say that it irritates me no end sometimes. But then again, there was a time when I picked up a newspaper and glanced through it, not really knowing exactly what goes into it. Trust me, now that I know, I have great problems making others understand it. All my salutes to my parents here, who went from "how can you even think of being a journalist, its not for girls" to totally understanding the crazy things I do, defending my timings, the places I go and the strange people I meet.

After a point of time, I just gave up. There is really no point you know, trying to explain what I do every single time, it is best to...I don't know, I am yet to discover what to do about it.

But you know, it is all worth it at the end of the day. The functions missed (never liked them), the books unread (to put it very cornily, life is the best book you could read), the plays and movies that go unwatched (I know I am not missing much), the other things. For the other things that I don't do, there are hundreds of others that I do get to do, experiences that only a very few get to live through. Like sit and pose inside a helicopter, be close to part of the country's defence weaponry, meet ministers and commoners, nut cases and the super talented, go to slums one day and to a fancy hotel the next, listen to a million stories and be affected by them, travel to new places and see things differently than as a regular tourist....never having a normal day with normal hours...routine and monotony being alien terms...never being able to plan more than a few hours in advance...not knowing where I shall be at what time the next day... No, I would not swap all of this for anything in the world.

I remember reading somewhere, 'I want to live, live, live till I die'. Yes, there are things I miss out. But a word of appreciation, that little byline, that story I hear but would not, cannot write in my reports, those experiences, the people I meet, the fellow travellers in my chosen path, the one that is less travelled by, all of that makes my life worth everything else. Perhaps, compressed into a single word, this is what passion is all about.