Friday, July 31, 2009

Of Careless Decisions.

This day, a year back, I became a blogger.

It was a carelessly made decision, and it showed. I didn't care, there was no one to read it and I definitely intended to keep it that way. Then I realised that other blogs existed in the blogosphere too and I started to read. Reading made me comment and somewhere down the line my blog started being read too. The initial comments made me wonder. Comments were commented on the readable. So I tried my hand at better expression, and to another wonder, I was not as inarticulate as I considered myself to be.

This blog has seen me through a terrible year, and after a brief high of April-June, the slide has seemingly begun again. So it is only fitting that I remember its first Birthday. (Ah! the selfish alter-ego intervenes: you need it to see you through another long time.)

Happy Birthday, dear blog, and may you live for evermore.

"Through language we explore experience, emotions, the very essence of our existence. Unless all that we think and feel can find expression in natural, coherent words, we have not come of age."

All the growing up that is left, I'll do it with you.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Yet Again.

Two more friends leave. Kolkata is fast becoming a lonely place.

And surprise oh surprise, a phone call was missing. I do not doubt that it shall come in whatever number of days it takes to reach Bangalore from Calcutta by train along with the words 'packing' , 'hurry' and 'sorry', but it is a terrible thing. To be the only one left behind as it were, while the other parts of your world march off. And march off together.

I am told that I'm often too hard on people. I suspect that it is usually on friends. And I fear that jealousy forms a large part of it.

Makes me feel very, very, small.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Brokeback Mountain

Somehow, I had missed Brokeback Mountain when the world seemed to be enraptured by it, and so after a conversation with a friend I finally sat down to it.

After the first watch, all that remained of the movie was a collection of images and a realization that never before had I been so utterly moved by a love story, for that is what it is, titles of a gay cowboy movie be damned. It is the story of a shared love, love that is not once called love through a lifetime, because it yet does not know its own name and also perhaps because it is denied by its own preperator.

The second watch still left me dazed , the sheer power of Lee's imagery is incalculable. Jack and Ennis barely speak, their dialogues, especially Ennis' are at a bare minimum and yet they wash you totally with a deep, gnawing, longing.

After the third watch to-night, I think I can finally begin to understand the different layers on which this movie is fleshed out.

What is truly heartbreaking is Ennis' tragedy of not knowing himself, He is as stoic as the mountains among which he had come to love, and in his confusion he has learnt to lock himself within his eyes that do not once overflow. He is unconnected and out of sync with the world, and in his happiness with Jack we discover his vast pain. It's not easy being different, and Ennis' difference nearly bleeds him out. 'Its a film about hearts - broken or otherwise. It's pure romance.'

There is something forlorn and broken about Ennis even as we see him in the opening scene, and he walks with a head bent forward, weight on his sturdy shoulders, all his worldly possessions in a brown paper bag. The brown paper bag would re-surface at the end, when again, he carries all that he has in this world in a brown paper bag- Two shirts, remnant of the only love he had ever experienced .

And he has an enormous capacity for love, coming even from his abandonment. Through his life he makes terrible sacrifices for jack, quitting jobs and forsaking his marriage, not mentioning about his jobs for nearly 20 years, and claiming , when Jack turns up after his divorce that "It's a mistake."

As the story opens, in the silence of Jack and Ennis for so long after they first encounter each other, we see a foreshadow of the course which their love shall run- silent and intense. They are
actually placed in the role of a husband and a wife by the foreman who employs them; Ennis is the camp tender, while Jack is the man, who goes out herding sheep and instructing Ennis "No more beans." But because of Jack's complaints, their roles are more effectively reversed to that which suits them more. And indeed , in Jack we see tenderness and affection, and in one of the most haunting scenes of the movie, watch out for Jack's expression when he dabs Ennis' wounds with hot water.

One late evening, over whiskey, as they always have it,
Ennis speaks of his bringing up and slow abandonment by
his siblings, and though he bears no bitterness, its understandable enough that Jack is the first person he's ever mentioned this to. ('Hell it's the most I've spoken in a year.")
Perhaps there is a consciousness of having spoken too much, for Ennis seems partly ashamed of his now exposed brokenness. There is a ghost of a smile that never does come, inhibited like all other emotions in him. Yet he shall soon learn to open up to Jack, however briefly or rarely.

Four years after they went their own ways, they re-unite to a heart- wrenchingly beautiful kiss, this time initiated by Ennis. And Ennis chalks out a plan for them to able to keep meeting over fishing, making it obvious by his easy lie to Alma "We was fishing buddies" that he had thought about it long before he heard from Jack. Ennis' plans, unlike Jack's adheres more to practicality, and gives their relationship scope to exist in midst of cruelty that Texas, even today, meets out to Jack and Ennis. But Ennis' practical plans can never quite fulfill Jack's longings and he blames Ennis for a half-life in the climax of the movie, a climax were vividly Ennis' confusion of himself is brought out.

The two parts of the movie were Ennis is faced with the reality
of losing Jack, draws extreme physical reactions from him.
The first time , he breaks down sobbing uncontrollably in
an alley, the second time when Jack states " I wish I knew
how to quit on you " Ennis falls down to his knees, both
trying to escape from him and cling to him. Ennis might be in a state of cognitive dissonance , or denial, but sure as hell Jack wasn't to blame- "Its because of you that I am like this. I'm nothin, I'm nowhere. " This is Ennis' fear in seeing a murdered homosexual as an 8 yr old. He has painfully tried to carve out a safe path for himself and jack and nowhere does his scarred psyche and need for Jack become as vividly apparent as here.

Here also, there is a flashback, and those who have read the story would understand it in all its enormity:
Proulx writes, "What Jack remembered and craved in a way he could neither help nor understand was the time that distant summer on Brokeback when Ennis had come up behind him and pulled him close, the silent embrace satisfying some shared and sexless hunger. ...Later, that dozy embrace solidified in his memory as the single moment of artless, charmed happiness in their separate and difficult lives. Nothing marred it, even the knowledge that Ennis would not then embrace him face to face because he did not want to see or feel that it was Jack he held. And maybe, he thought, they'd never got much farther than that. Let be, let be.

This is a saga of an intensely complex emotional relationship, at the end of which we are left crying for the broken survivor: Jack is lynched to death as Ennis had feared he might and the closing shots are wonderful in their duality.

Ennis, finds a shirt of his which he had 'forgotten' on the mountain, in Jacks closet, still smeared with his blood, and within a shirt of Jack, also smeared in his blood. And in one of the rare moments of luxury when he allows himself to release his emotions, he feels jack's shirt with his cheek. We find the same pair of shirts in the very final scene of the movie, only, this time, the order is reversed, and it is his shirt which encloses Jack's. Perhaps Ennis is at last ready to commit, and maybe even protect Jack, but it comes a tad too late. Both times, their shirts, and metaphorically, their relationship, hangs within a closet, from which it could never emerge, and perhaps their only rightful place in those times.

Beside the hung shirts, we find a picture of the Brokeback mountain, framed within a postcard, which for Jack, is almost a pretend place, "where blue birds sing, and there's a whiskey spring" ; and just beside, framed within the frames of the window, is the landscape of America, certainly and cruelly real.
Both these frames are enclosed within another frame, that of the screen, and we realise that the movie is offering a choice- we can choose any of the two frames.

All through the movie, Jack and Ennis' love is shown against the background of the river, sometimes running and frothing, other times, calmingly present, yet immeasurably large and always pitted against the squalor and mess of Ennis' home and the lack of freedom in Jack's.

There is no doubt that the movie is a powerful lobby, and because it appeals to our hearts with images, rather than mind with words, we are left just all the more vulnerable.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Notebook.

I have been coming across many good movies, all one after the other and I wonder why. This Isn't quite like how things happen to me.

Watched 'The Notebook' , a conventional romance in every way except that its so much more beautiful. At the end of the movie I wanted to stand up and award Robert Fraisse with the Oscar for best cinematography except that he probably wouldn't attach too much importance to it even if I e-mailed him one. There aren't any layers to this, and watch it simply for a visual treat, or maybe when you are down and out and low and lonely.( So in hindsight I probably watched it at a wrong time)

What is it with the Romances? Hindi or English, they are all the same and yet they never fail to bring a spring in my step. And oh, did I mention that it's set in the early 1940's? and again, what's with me and the past? Period Dramas or Historical plays I lap it all up.

I remember S suggesting I see '13 Going on 30', but the future and their projected sciences merely intrigue me, they don't captivate me, enthrall me, make me wonder at what once was.
There is certainty and comfort in the past, the future brings mere doubt.

It rivals 'A Walk To Remember' and that, my friends, is saying something.

Watch it, and discover what it is like to long to visit distant lands and want to see beautiful places, hold them in still pictures and yellowed albums.

Monday, July 20, 2009

17 Again.

One of my very late night movies, and loved every moment of it. There's something about no honks, loudspeakers, mothers popping in forever for just that little errand or a younger sibling asking "aisa kyun hua?" (why did this happen?) that makes a late night movie on a small screen memorable. But this did go beyond the 'Me Time ' I always keep craving for and getting so little of.

For those who havn't watched it, as I know most of you havn't ;) this tells the story of Mike who as a high school Basketball champion, now this was also one of the reasons I loved the movie- I used to play basketball in school, and it still remains close to my heart though alas I play it no more, but I digress. So to continue where I trailed off, Mike was a star athlete with a full college scholarship imminent. He seemingly had it all, when, right before the championship game, his girlfriend Scarlet informed him she was pregnant. In that moment, he made the decision to throw everything away (including basketball and a chance at a scholarship) and proposed to her, only to regret it 20 years down the line when bitter at his professional life he thinks that he might have had a better chance at life had he been to college.

So enters a mysterious janitor who gives him an opportunity to live back his life but "To do it right." Mike , transformed back into a 17 yr old lives a part of his high- school again, setting many things right ,before finally at the same basketball match, he throws it all once more for Scarlett.

And so we realize that maybe the best decisions are the ones made by the heart.

And at the fag end of my life, I will want to have lived my life like Mike. Knowing that if I am given the chance to be 19 again I will not have done anything differently.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

To See Eternity In An Hour.

(The luminiscent dial of his watch told him it was 3.00)

It wasn't easy. Returning home after another futile day . Endless rounds of begging had almost ripped him apart. If only he had money for a drink. All images of him worming would blissfully fade away. Rather like those streetlights which seemed to stretch on forever into nowhere. Or maybe like those stars that seemed to be looking at him, twinkling down sadistically.

Those stars, and a decade went swishing past. The twinkle in Annanya's eyes far outshone anything heavenly. Some years blurred.... Sayan, and the same twinkle. He would be there at his doorstep too. There simply wasn't enough courage to face that faith.

"Baba....ekhono chakri pao ni? chinta korish na.... kalke to sure"
( Papa... you still didn't get a job?? don't worry. Definetly tomorrow)

Some tomorrows never come.

Every drunken laughter mocked him. Every smile made him cringe. When had he lost it all? And why?

Sayan..... he felt repulsed.
An old man lay shivering. He passed on.
The cold air knifed at his lungs, rather like his grief that cut through him, slicing him, wounding him, over and over.


He was passing through the beach now and he could feel the coarse sand grinding beneath his shoes, his last pair. He thought he spied a couple in the distance, and muted voices carried through the waves brought him words like 'love'; 'forever' and a jaded, cynical smile spread over his face.

He passed on.
Perhaps, over the sounds he had taught Sayan to hear in a sea-shell, he could hear Ananya's recital, A 16 year old voice speaking at an elocution:

To see the world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour

He understood what that meant once. Not anymore.

The world, maybe in another world might have been his to see and show Sayan.

Eternity...Rather like the vast sea before him, streching on, changingand mutating with each new wave. Rather like the world around him that transformed with every new beat of his bleeding heart. Rather like every ray of the Sun, each that brought more light to the forsaken.
Rather like Sayan his only Hope and Love.

And Love?

Ananya could yet come again

A fiery red broke out on the horizon.
He would wait till the red faded into full daylight.

(Beyond the fog, the could barely make out the steeples from which the church clock was striking four)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Thought.

Its often only after the very tiring days that so many little reflections on life hit you. However its not always that you realize that these little nuggets were always there, right behind in the recesses of your mind and that it has just come to the fore in definable clarity and that there is no newness to it after all.

Que Sera Sera : Whatever will be will be.
There was a fly fallen in the ink pot of the Boss.He takes it out from the pot and places it on a fresh piece of blotting paper, to watch it dry itself and prepare itself for flight. But just before it flies off the Boss places another blot onto the fly, so that this time the task of drying itself is more arduous.Yet the fly like all mortals fights for its survival and raises itself for another time before a third blot wipes out its existence.
The fly has no consciousness of the boss and the blots are for it bolts of fate that keeps striking him down, with which he is utterly incapable of fighting, yet he fights unknowing that his existence is being overseen by a stout robust man over him.
We are different. And for us the knowledge that the ink blots shall drop on us are more terrifying than the drops that do eventually fall.
So we live our lives from one blot to another.

Whatever you can do:
There is this thing about your life just starting, you, very much like the fly think that you are responsible for your future and are filled with an overwhelming sense of enthusiasm and drive. You are determined not to make the wrong choices, you are determined not to slack off, you are determined and willing to start putting so many things on the backburner. Then you look around you to the many friends who have already gone off chasing dreams and your resolve turns stronger.

Then what happens??

'Hota wahi hai jo manzoore khuda hota hai.'
(only that which the God shall will will occur.)

P.S : Refernce to the fly taken from a short story by Katherine Mansfield

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Of New York and just a little more.

I wanted to save up New York to watch it with my friends, but that was not possible, and so I watched it alone, feeling lonely right through Junoon. And then 9/11 took over and I no longer missed anyone.

There are better movies made to depict racial profiling by the USA after 9/11. And there are better movies made on songs of friends. If I want to watch the earlier,I'd watch Khuda kay liye. And if I want to watch the latter, I'd watch Dil Chahta hai.

Speaking of Dil Chahta hai, there comes a time, and sometimes far, far too soon than u've ever imagined when you feel that your friendships aren't quite what they were not too long back. The differences that provided such newness and sparking conversations have just been reduced to frustrations at not being able to put your points across and you find yourself increasingly biting your tongue on a late night phone-call because your brain is numb with 12 hours of learning and you still have another 4 hours to go before dawn when you can finally go to get some sleep before it starts all over again.

Not that you like it. You were the one who would take joy in all your differences and say " Friends don't have to be alike . They have to know how to enjoy their differences together." Not to mention newer friends with whom you find it easier to converse, simply because they seem more on the same plane. And you are ashamed of yourself because, in your hearts, this is traitorous and you don't have the guts to talk it out with your friend because of the unsureness that you have been feeling for nearly a year now.

We find comfort in those who agree with us. Growth in those who don't.


P.S : Just when John's finally learning how to act, along comes another to claim his discarded crown.
P.P.S : Isn't it the same new york which KJo shoots??

P.P.P.S: For my readers:- In school our classmates named the three of us Amar, Akbar and Anthony. We however named ourselves differently. After DCH- Akash, Siddharth and Sameer.

Who am I ?