1. Attack the media
2. Make brain-free action movie
3. Beat up girlfriends
4. Make sappy romantic movie
5. Hunt endangered species
6. Make saccharine family movie
7. Drunk drive and kill
8. Charge for clothing line called “I’m a good guy”
9.Make fortune off movie that says “Worth my weight in gold”
10.God status achieved.
Tag Archives: Movies
1. Attack the media
Do you know the number of times this sentence trips us up?
I was watching ‘Julie and Julia’ last night. It reminds me of the beginnings of Write Click. And it takes me back to why I do what I do, how much I love it and why I’m so blessed, privileged to have stumbled upon something that makes me feel that way.
This scene, like so many other resonates with me. I don’t know if other beginning bloggers feel this way. And if you do, let me say, I’ve been blogging for 9 years now and I still feel this way. We cripple our own flights of fancy, injure our fantasies and maim our desires with that sentence that starts with ‘I’m not a real (something something)..’.
I was lucky, so lucky, that I chanced upon blogs when blogging wasn’t a ‘thing’, when nobody was talking about it and feeding me their impressions of what it should or should not be, imposing their quality expectations on me. Blogging happened to me the way love happens – unexpectedly, suddenly and forcefully. And just like love, I don’t know how I lived without it before. Well, that’s probably more writing than blogging. But blogging took me down that adventure which led to the treasure chest of a love of writing. I am glad I had the opportunity to discover something without ‘I’m not a real (something something)’ standing in my way.
Then there are fulfilled dreams that get in the way of new dreams. Steve Jobs in his famous Stanford graduation address said,
“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything.”
Every now and then I wonder if the chance that I took in the last 4 years has been a stupid one. Then, when I hear or read the above sentence, it makes me remember why I took it – I wanted an adventure. And I got one. The lightness of starting again gave me wings.
And finally, there’s thwarted expectations. The movie Julie & Julia, is based on two real stories – the better known life of Julia Child, chef & cookbook writer and the lesser known Julie Powell. Julie Powell is a real person with an ordinary life and regular wishes. She wrote a blog, it turned into a book (how ironic that the movie starts with her lamenting about her not being a ‘real writer’ because no one wants to publish her), which turned into the movie. Along the way, the real Julia Child was asked to comment and her indifferent response disheartened Julie Powell (at least in the movie).
I find getting started on a new pursuit relatively easy but when people whose opinions matter, seem less than moved, where does that leave me? Passion but also validation and appreciation fuel my drive. I guess that’s when it’s time to remember another line from the movie.
“The Julia Child in your head is perfect.
The Julia Child who doesn’t understand what you’re doing, is not perfect.”
I guess what I’m trying to say is, ‘something something’ and everything else is just that. You are as real as your dreams.
Last week Jiah Khan, a Bollywood starlet made headlines and front page news when she was found hanging in her apartment. The story continues to expound and unravel like a meticulously formulaic film, complete with villains and half-baked plot turns. The most current news is that her boyfriend has been arrested and held responsible for her death. This is based on a number of letters and his own admission of having beaten her months ago.
There is a lot of talk right now about why women put up with domestic violence. The whole story is skewing in the direction of a poor, hapless victim, preyed on by an evil force and battered to death. But that is not the truth. The evidence clearly points to suicide, not murder. Can we take a minute and think about this first? I want to think about something I’m not hearing or reading enough about.
A relationship is not a fairytale with a surefire recipe for love, happiness and eternal bliss. It’s a complex, shifting set of personal equations. It also includes secondary associations. In a society like India, other people play a great, sometimes larger role in a relationship than the two people itself. Just look around at the number of marriages that struggle under the weight of disapproving/hostile/uncooperative in-laws. Take a look at the number of engagements and romantic relationships that don’t even make it as far as marriage as a result of parental interference.
Moreover, even if it were possible to isolate the relationship from the impact of everyone other than the two people it is between, it’s impossible to predict a success formula. Between any two people, there’s bound to be friction and discord. All human relationships are rooted in power plays and that these aren’t necessarily good or bad; they just are. Power plays involve using all the tactics at your disposal. These include an ability to convince/coerce, strength (physical and emotional), force of personality, passive-aggression, emotional blackmail and manipulation of other people. We all do it. Every relationship is a combination of chess, war and a dance that uses all of these things, both ways.
I find most dialogue about domestic violence and abuse perfunctory because it paints one party too starkly as a perperator (villain) and the other as a hapless victim. Admittedly there are relationships where one party (usually the woman) is bound, gagged and forced to do & be what the other wants. But I don’t think that constitutes the majority of such cases.
I know of a case where a couple’s fight escalated into a violent scuffle. The woman ended up more bruised because of her relative size. But she started it and kept at it, until the guy retaliated. It’s a murky, grey area about whether the guy’s actions constitute self-defense. But they do, don’t they? Just because you’re being attacked by someone smaller, does not diminish your instinct to protect yourself.
There’s another case, a marriage between two professionals, both equally qualified. The wife’s career trajectory soared faster and higher than the husband’s. Her family, high on the success of their overachiever daughter, often subjugated her husband publicly. His career suffered and so did his mental health. Three years later, they divorced. There are scars on her back that bear testimony to domestic battery. But he hasn’t been able to go back to work or resume a normal life since then, which I think indicate a different kind, perhaps less visible scarring. This had to have been a difficult pairing at best and it was shot to hell by overzealous and insensitive families.
Both cases above came down with a social gavel on the men based on the scars on the women’s bodies. Judgement was served but I don’t think justice was. I’m not saying that a violent crime within a relationship is the victim’s fault. Fault is different from responsibility. I’m saying it’s more complex than that.
A lot of such regrettable episodes stem from power plays gone awry in the heat of the moment. They are indicative of breaches that need to either be healed or made permanent with a breaking of the relationship. And I think any justice being served in a similarly heat-of-moment fashion is slapdash and irresponsible. Human relationships do not have a clear villain and a helpless victim. There really is more to a story than that.
To come back to Jiah Khan’s case, I think it is unfortunate for anybody to feel that they have no recourse but suicide. But the choice to hang oneself or not, is still a choice in one’s own hands. Everyone who takes on a goal and pursues it faces rejection, failure and pain at some point of time. Everyone who falls in love, endures these as well. Some people go through these at the same time. Not everyone decides to commit suicide.
What kind of a world was it for Jiah Khan that she felt that way? One where all the options available to her had been exhausted or shut down. She could have reached out for help, if she found it available. She could have run away from the situation (left town, quit Bollywood, changed her name or identity). She could have fought back (and dirty) if she believed it possible. If an admittedly young but still adult over 20 felt unable to do any of these, was she emotionally stable?
Her boyfriend Sooraj Panscholi admits to have beaten her. Why did she feel like ending her life would be easier than ending the relationship? What can one person possibly tell another that keeps them chained to them in this manner? No, that’s the job for a much larger universe. A possible abortion and perhaps getting dumped after that are definitely nerve-wracking experiences. But still, to feel so lonely and unloved after that to prefer death indicates a much deeper neglect.
Doesn’t her claimed support system bear any responsibility? Doting families that come forward at such a time, should they not be asked, why did your daughter feel unable to seek your help when she was in a difficult place? Maybe she did not listen. People certainly stay in bad situations, deaf to their well-wishers. But in the absolutely finality of death, there is room for every idea, any notion that could serve as a guiding light out. If she did not take it, perhaps she never had one at all?
Separately, I think the issue of domestic violence should be addressed because it is a violation, a crime, a wrongdoing. You can blame a relationship rotting on abuse. And you can pin murder on someone who has actively poisoned, slit a throat or in any other way forcibly ended the life of another human being. But how can you pin the blame of a person’s choice to take their own life on another person?
A suicide is the death of one person and the burdensome responsibility of many, many others. Let’s please stop expecting a Bollywood story out of it. It does a grave disservice to her life and to everyone else getting pulled up for it.
If you’re a cricket-agnostic in India, then IPL season is slow torture. Every television in the world is hogged by cricket fanatics. Restaurants, malls, even shops are playing matches and everybody’s looking over your head to catch the score. Even the bloody internet bandwidth is clogged by those in office, desperate to know Sachin’s stats. And if you do manage to get online, Twitter is waiting for you, hashtags bared. A movie would be a nice place to lose oneself from this mania but the multiplexes and theatres all throw up their collective hands and screen the bottom-of-barrel movies only. I guess somebody up there took pity on the minority that is me and tossed me a tasty titbit in the form of Bombay Talkies.
Released as a centennial tribute to the 100 years of cinema, Bombay Talkies is a collection of four short films, one each by a prominent Bollywood director. The shorts-format has always intrigued me and I wonder why Bollywood doesn’t do more of these. The only short film collections I’ve seen Bollywood release into mainstream are Darna Mana Hain, Darna Zaroori Hain and Dus Kahaniyan. Considering the burgeoning costs and risks in making a film, might it not be a better idea businesswise and creatively speaking, to spread that across multiple smaller buckets? I do hope the powers-that-be are considering this and that the brilliance of Bombay Talkies paves the way for more.
The first story, directed by Karan Johar, brings the expected star value by way of Rani Mukherjee and Randeep Hooda. This film is really more about gay angst than about cinema. It’s not too bad, all things considered. Unfortunately, as part of a bouquet that has the other offerings, this one is the weakest, both in terms of interpretation of the theme and the story delivery. Randeep Hooda is his versatile self but Rani (doing a Vidya Balan a la The Dirty Picture, if Silk were an affluent South Bombayite) come through the way HD made the raving beauties of the last decade look – plastic and grotesque. The one and only sweet note in this film – and it’s a beauty at that – is the street urchin’s rendition of Ajeeb daastan hain yeh. The child’s voice brings all the mood and has that component of art that reaches out from its canvas/celluloid/paper and wrings the audience’s heart.
Story two, by Dibakar Banerjee, takes us through the mundane day of a chawl-dweller and the one special event of his day. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is nothing short of superlative in his depiction of a nondescript everyday man turned magician, full of wonder and glory and big dreams, if only in his own mind. This one showed real class in such subtleties as Purandhar’s monologue with his alter ego and a surreal emu walking around in disparate scenes.
Post interval, the film didn’t disappoint either. The next story, by Zoya Akhtar dips into the LGBT bucket again, but this time with finer strokes and the rawer talent of a child. A little boy dreams of shiny baubles and dancing, instead of football and cricket. Mostly alone in a world of ambitious and gender-role rigid parents, he takes comfort and inspiration from Katrina Kaif. The climax of this film made me want to stand up and clap and just keep on clapping. Naman Jain shows talent beyond his years as he manages to depict a cross-dressing child without parody. He makes you want to laugh with him, rush to protect him from judgements that will destroy his innocence and applaud him for the star he is. This was my favorite film in the entire movie.
The last story is by Anurag Kashyap and to my surprise, not dark or gritty. It’s a fairly standard story of the God-level idolization of filmstars across India. A young man comes to Mumbai with just one burning purpose – to meet Amitabh Bachchan and ask him to bite into his mother’s homemade murabba so his ailing father can eat the other half, having felt like he shared a meal with the superstar. But the story carries you through Vijay (Vineet Kumar Singh)’s adventures and right through the twist in the end. Maybe I’d have enjoyed this film more if it had been number two or three. Placed last, it felt slightly predictable, probably because the two preceding it were so unexpected and diverse. At the start, I also had a The Terminal flashback with Tom Hanks soldiering on to get an autograph of his father’s favorite jazz player. Still, this was a very good film with the unmistakably Kashyap style of extreme highs and lows.
The movie ends with a song that fails to impress in any way. The medley through the years has been done so often in Bollywood recently, you already know how the music and even the backup dancers hips will swing. And it closes in a tacky family-photograph style ensemble of all the current actors. I was glad to walk out by this time.
In all, I’d have thought this would be a ‘festival’ kind of film, meant only for niche audiences that lived and breathed the technical language of cinema. What I found instead was a damn fine movie, that even I, a regular member of the audience, could relate to and enjoy.
I’ve been zealous through March and done a lot of reading, listening and viewing. Earlier in the year (yes, a quarter has gone by and it’s fine to say that now!) I initiated a social media clean-up across my feed-reader, twitter following, pinboards and Quora following. I was looking for great content rather than multiple connections to the same people. This may be what has caused this outpouring of great reads, viewing & listening. I’m considering making this a weekly feature from the month of April. Also, The Idea-smithy’s Facebook Page is a community and not just one person’s broadcast. I’ll be happy to take on suggestions for posts and even guest posts. Let me know what you think of all this in the comments. Here’s what glorious March was like:
- These are some very good reasons why not to and how not to – social etiquette in the digital age.
‘All the Rage: Avoiding the Angry Email‘ (via Psychology Today)
- March 1 was is global Self Injury Awareness Day. The issue of self-harm is swept under the rug because it is misunderstood, scary, “too real,” weird, “selfish,” and an array of other dismissive adjectives.
‘On Quitting Self-Harm‘ (via Thought Catalog)
- Doesn’t Saawariya have a very Barfee feel to it? It probably didn’t work the first time round and figuring nobody noticed, maybe that idea got recycled. If you don’t agree, consider this a nostalgia pick anyway:
Saawariya – The Title track
- A beautiful poem-story about displacement, love, loss, hope and fear: ‘Roots‘ (via Christina Says)
- This quirky fiction-piece about a man reborn as a dog, surprisingly, appeared on Thought Catalog. – ‘When I am a dog, I’m barking‘
- My country seen through the eyes of two Americans who came biking – and the lessons they took back from it. ‘
How India changed us‘ (via Thought Catalog)
- What gets shared in silences (via Zen Garage)
Marina Abramovic & Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.At her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, where she shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing and this is what happened.
- A delightful retort to the grammar-Nazis. I say this even as I see mirth in misspelling. (via Stephen Fry, link courtesy Ronaan Roy)
- Love & hurt in the time of Facebook & Twitter: ‘
The Un-friending Friend‘ (via Coco J. Ginger)
- Government bureaucracy that calls a nursery life-threatening. Mumbai, you’re amazing in a devastating manner sometimes:
A nursery’s appeal for help against being shut down (via Vriksha Nursery)
- Four poems from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara penned by Javed Akhtar and declaimed by Farhan Akhtar, on identity, love, pain and inspiration.
- Raw and painful and beautiful: ‘
Your Little Sister‘ (via Coco J. Ginger)
- I have to say I find it appalling that the company that brings out Fair & Lovely dares talk about real beauty, albeit through another brand called Dove:
‘Dove Canada uses Photoshop Trojan Horse to shame potential Body-Shamers‘ (via Fastcocreate)
- Who says there’s no poetry in science?
A poem by Richard Feynman:
“…atoms with consciousness
matter with curiosity
Stands at the sea wondering:
I, a universe of atoms…”
- On that most difficult and nebulous of deaths – forgetting.: ‘
Fundamentals of a Funeral Fire‘ (via Atul Sabnis)
- Let your imagination be your tour guide.: ‘
10 Imaginary Countries in Books‘ (via Publishers Weekly)
- A modern day love story. So much better. So much hope. I love, I love.: ‘
A truth, cryptically told‘ (via Neha Vishwanathan)
- The train of thoughts that a snakebite can send you on: ‘
An Article of Faith‘ (in Deccan Herald)
- How we complicate our lives and lose sight of what matters (
‘Masquerade’ by The Carpenters on Youtube)
“Are we really happy with these lonely games we play?
Looking for the right words to say
Searching but not finding, understanding anyway
We’re lost in this masquerade.”