There is nothing like reading a book like “The Godfather”. The movie is just second to ‘Citizen Kane’ in the top 10 movies of all the times (bless Francis Ford Coppola, the genius, especially for the climax baptizing scene); but the book is second to none. It is the ultimate storehouse of all the philosophies that you will need to survive in this ‘big, bad, bad world’.
When I saw the movie, I was knocked out of my senses and couldn’t believe that such a masterpiece of cinema was ever made (of course before that, the same had happened for ‘Citizen Kane’; it was unbelievably brilliant too) but after I read that book, I think my senses were not just knocked out, but when they woke up, they had a higher sense of realization and understanding of how to deal with this world, than ever before. Mario Puzo, you are a real .90 caliber pezzonovante, a real ‘Sicilian’!!
Here’s what I learnt from it and my take on it:
1. The world is so hard to live in that you need two fathers; one, your father and the other, Godfather. [My take: Even if you don’t have a godfather, read ‘The Godfather’, it will get you going quite well.]
2. Everyone needs to ‘make their bones’ [My take: ‘make your bones’ (i.e. prove your worth) as soon as possible and take off before they break your bones]
3. Make an offer they can’t refuse. [My take: If you can’t make an offer like that…read the next point]
4. Reason with them. It is all business, nothing personal. [Wow!!]
5. Obey the law of omerta. [This is the terrifying, mafia way of saying ‘Silence is golden’ and ‘Speech can get you killed!!’]
6. Get all thehorses in the big deal. [Read the book to understand this…a real phrase to know!]
7. Never take sides with the outsiders against the Family [How uncanny…In India, we have this thought too…it is translated as ‘if you want a love marriage then go to hell’] :)
Just kidding. Anyways the thing to remember is, be careful about who your ‘consigliori’ (counselor) is and try and make the right choice of ‘capo régimes’ (captains/commanders), presuming you have something under your command that needs to be taken control of. And last but not least,
One or the other day, everyone has to ‘go to the mattresses’.
(that means ‘Go to war’. War/ Battle/ Gang war /Ambush/ Street fight/ Sibling tussle / Cat fight/ Pillow fight / Cushion fight?? / Verbal (unheroic) fights, any and every form of combat imaginable)
So be ready at all the times, never let down your guard else your belongings will be found wrapped around ‘dead fish’. (Yes, even for the cushion fights; people usually fall off the bed in an unaware moment, so don’t take it that easy. Haha)
And that’s the gist of Godfather’s wisdom for you. Work for the best, be ready for the worst.
Jokes aside, it is a fantastic must-read and the movie is an absolute gem; the characters literally leap out of the book to be onscreen. I can’t believe I am reading this so late into my ‘literature appreciation’ years; but any time is good time for ‘The Godfather’ and it one of those stories that will stay with you forever.
P.S. I didn't see why there was so much emphasis on characters of Johnny Fontane, Nino Valenti and Lucy Mancini....but otherwise it was just great!!!
I see through your eyes Touch with your skin The world without, the world within Broken from you yet an inseparable part akin
I experience all you feel All you reason, all you think But by a rude word, an unthinkable gesture, a mysterious wink You take me by surprise with such uncharacteristic kink
When you wander from the right and dwell into the wrong Give in to temptations that you resisted before I can’t help but wonder, feel hollow at the core Reason behind your unpredictability unknown, doubts galore
You fill me with unknown apprehensions I feel like the life within you, but not the soul You seem to swirl out of my control Brimming with contradictions, meandering without a goal
I am supposed to be you; every little bit of you An impression, a vision, a manifestation, The clearest reflection, your finest imitation Yet at every turn you catch me unaware in meditation
I feel like an afterthought sometimes, Of random origin and unknown creed Modeled by the erratic ness of your impulsive deed Rather than the inspiration behind it; like an infertile seed
Once in a while, I identify the ‘I’ within the you And a wave of relief runs through me Like an ephemeral rainbow sight to see To justify my purpose; strengthen my bond with thee
This moment of recognition bridges our divide anew To my misfortune these moments are but a few I struggle frequently to find myself, these days In reactions and carcasses of your harried ways
Don’t let me be the lover who never knew you Having reached the deepest intimacy, still who could never touch you Let me instead be your soulmate, constantly by your side Guiding your heart, teaching your mind
Let me write your story with my integrity ink And serve my purpose of building your link To the world beyond; from where I come and to where I will go Carrying with me a precious gist called you, just the way I know
When school and studies were a priority in my life, I used to feel guilty whenever I stole time from my study schedule to watch a movie, catch a TV serial or just plainly do some mindless couch surfing. And since I had always set the schedule such that there was no time for any sort of recreation other than reading a library story book; the blame and guilt game began and ended with me.
A little voice used to keep nagging inside my head, telling me that every minute I spent in front of the TV translated to one mark that my competitors in school/ college would score ahead of me and then I would regret this minute that I wasted on fruitless audio-visual gimmickry (sounds so ludicrous now…but was a scary proposition then). I would fight against it arguing that I deserved a break from back breaking, marathon study regime and needed to relax just once in a while. I even went to the extent of justifying really hopeless serials and advertisements as being informative and educational with ridiculous arguments, just to silence that voice in my head. In fact I began to look for needle-length good in the heap of garbage that we are generally subjected to on TV, so as to support my arguments conclusively.
These defense appeals used to silence the little voice but just for five minutes. Then the nagging was resumed with full vigor. So you see I used to have these miniscule 5-min hiatus between ‘Conscience Court’ trails in which I grabbed as many visuals as possible and tried to remember them, lest I didn’t get an opportunity to see them again for a long time. The more I remembered, the more fascinated I became with each visual. I began to break it down to every miniscule detail that I could recollect about it and kept seeing it in my mindscreen over and over again. I guess this is how the whole obsession with the visual media began. And this obsession quietly grew so much that I had to give up my ‘stable, secure’ job and let it take me where it thought I belonged.
Now things are so very different. I don’t have to give excuses or make up silly arguments to watch movies or catch some crap on TV. The little voice in my head is quite silent these days. Since cinematography (and ultimately direction) is a career choice for me now, I need as much exposure to visual grammar as is possible. If it is a bad visual, I learn that I should not do that and if it is good, then I know that I can’t do that since it has already been done. Anyways the point of the tale is that my self-imposed trials for alleged misuse of my own time are over now. And I don’t have to plead “not guilty” anymore. I can’t even begin to describe what a relief it is…
Great news!! I have finally managed to get a great camera at a cool price....I recently purchased a Nikon D80, 10.2 MP, 18-135 mm lens-accompanied wonder and since then I have been clicking away to (hopefully) glory!!
My first digicam after months of speculation and contemplation and deliberation.... I am glad that it is Nikon D80....I know it is too soon to be overjoyed about it but the images are beginning to come in and they look decent. For a non-photography background like mine that is equivalent to good.
Will be posting the pics soon. They will also be uploaded on my Orkut id. Do check them out and help me improvise.
P.S I have lot of things to be posted...but just not finding the right combo...will explain later.
I haven't written in a long time. Been caught up in the daze called life. At times, I lose track of what day or time it is; the moments just seem to float about like liquid bubbles around a cryogenically frozen body.
It is both amazing and strange that this should happen because I don't feel that dead anymore. After completing the cinematography course, I am out to seek creative job options, having quit the software industry quite long before (some might like to call it 'career suicide') Life has become more interesting, not to mention, more of a struggle than before. Then why this inexplicable 'dazed' feeling?
Maybe it is because of the fact that I haven't written in a long time. I have realised that things seem more real and alive when I write about them. They seem to grow out of their passive, surrealist nature and begin to have their impact upon me when I take the time out to reflect on them, not just by thought but by action - and that action is the act of writing. When I write, the events around me begin to fall into perspective and it finally makes sense. More sense than introspection could make, much more than what mere contemplation could create.
Ofcourse I can't write about anything and everything; that's just impossible. And I ain't a great writer either; I am the kind who takes enough and more time to write about something really simple too. But even writing about a little thing each day will do for me, I guess. I realise that I need to write, not just to inform or entertain or earn but to realize, taste and feel. More than that, I need it to discover myself, hear my own thoughts loud enough to remember forever, tie up all the loose ends of my experiences and make my life seem more complete.
Funny that I should take so long to discover this...and funny that writing about it should help me discover that I really crave to write...
These are some pictures from my first outdoor shoot, where all of us (me and my classmates) went on a long trip across the fabulous ECR highway and exposed real film foootage for our shots. I can't describe the excitement that I felt when I saw the film actually flicker across the viewfinder during the shot, going at 24 frames per second. I don't remember anything that even comes close to the high I got (except maybe the bungee jumping that I did once) when I took the shot. And luckily, I got three such chances and consequently three completely different highs in one single day.
I took my first shot, right atop the water tank in Adyar. I won't ever forget that morning sun. It was more beautiful and gorgeous than I have ever known it to be. My shot was to track along a vehicle as it passed over the bridge, from one end to other. Typically it is called a 'Pan' shot and I had to do it with a 'Zoom Out' simultaneously. It was great. The negatives have been given for processing and then I have to supervise the grading and the look, before its actual acreening. But before that, here are some of the working stills from our first location.
On the bridge, we had one of the last shots of the day. I took one of them.
I had the best time when I took a handheld shot, that too with the 6.5 kg Arri 3 camera. That was the ultimate moment!! Anyways there's more to come after this, but I can hardly wait.....I am addicted to the flicker now.... the flicker of the motion picture....the flicker of the reflection of life....
This word is so hard to pronounce...one might wonder if it is the name of an impossibly complex, difficult to understand scientific phenomenon; or maybe something about measuring current disintegration rate of a decadent star from the Andromeda galaxy which was first hit about 210 million years ago.
But the truth is that it is a word that describes the most abundantly found but largely ignored social phenomenon. Koyaanisquatsi means 'Life out of balance" in Hopi language.
I was introduced to the brilliant imagery that this word could realise when I saw a movie by the same name last week. For about an hour and a half, the spellbinding usage of stop motion photography, undercranking and over cranking of film combines to produce a graphic vision of the chaotic struggle between man and nature. The movie images are choreographed to a beautiful score orchestrated by Peter Glass and took Geoffrey Reggio about 7 years to make. But the end result is so worth it. Absolutely no words, no characters. Total documentary concept with a personality of a movie. Breathtaking in its scope and stunning in its realisation, this is one movie that has to be watched to understand the true language of cinema - that of powerful and symbolic imagery; and also to realise how we are moving towards a hopeless, completely off-balance, unharminous future both within our society and with the nature as we encroach upon the beautiful wilderness with our concrete jungles.
Next on the list are the other 2 from the Qatsi trilogy: 1. Powaqqatsi (Life in Transformation) 2. Naqoyquatsi (Life as war)
Cinema is truly uplifting and awakening at times....
Critics are real ‘smart’ people….they think they know what you should have done and how you should have done it….what you should be like and how it is that you should behave….how you should talk, walk, laugh, dress up and how you should not be doing this that way or that this way etc…etc….it is their job to poke their runny noses in your work and be by your side constantly like a cursed shadow that eclipses the happiness of your living. It is hard enough having to live to critics that are external to your existence but imagine the pains in the butt that they can be when they live right inside of you. Imagine your own self torn in several pieces – one part is the creator, and several other parts are acting as critics each with a different point of view of how you should have done a particular thing. It is a nasty business, trust me.
Like for instance, there are 3 identifiable (there might be many more who surface once in a while and then disappear for a long time only to reappear most unexpectedly) critical personalities that I can name, who reside right inside my head. First is: Darth ‘Hannibal’ Vader – He is always the first to comment on how I am perfectly incompetent to handle the given assignment and tries his best to discourage me from going ahead elaborating on the number of ways that I could ruin it accompanied by similar examples of less-than-perfect executions in the past. His constant readiness for war of arguments is only equaled by his repulsive desire to constantly chew my brains when I am not in a mood to retaliate. Having him around is a continuous reminder of what a wonderful personification I am, of God’s amazing sense of humor and how Shakespeare would gladly coronate me as the full-blown human representation of the phrase “comedy of errors”.
Even if I manage to evade the Vader somehow, there’s no escape from Cruella Sugarpie. She is sweetly cruel in the way she manipulates me into thinking that every possible road that I could take to accomplish my task is laden with boulders of problems and that my tender self is incapable of fighting those enormous difficulties (again with enough citations from my past though from a deceptively empathetic point of view). With sugar coated criticism of my abilities, she begins her demolition work right from the assessment of my personality and qualities down to my traits and idiosyncrasies. And she supports it finely with her poisoned honey of concerns about the consequences that my failure would inflict on my precariously placed self-confidence. Curtly put, she is a critic in the garb of a guardian angel….
And then there is Agent Smith. Extremely articulate both in his words and deeds, mostly known to swing in action after I complete something that I could dare to be happy about. He is cold and menacing and attacks my work in clones of varidirectional criticism and since I am no ‘Neo’, I can’t even conveniently turn into superman/woman and fly away. I try my own lousy version of the ‘flo-mo’ escapism (for the uninitiated, it is the act of dodging bullets) from his criticism or the ‘freeze frame’ (the one that Trinity does superbly) counter argument kick. But Smith is relentless and I think that until I revolutionize my entire matrix of work to the ultimate perfection (which is frankly never going to be) it will be impossible to destroy him forever.
There are so many others too though not as distinct and vividly characterized as the above mentioned three, who I must say make me believe in the concept of hell. Even while writing this blog post, you should have seen the ruckus they created inside my head about the quality, the flow, the usage of words in general and the unflattering assessment of their personalities, in particular. ‘Rotten’, ‘Unimaginative’, ‘Definitely plagiarized’, ‘unoriginal’, ‘childish, immature’, ‘misrepresentation of reality’, ‘blasphemous lie’ were some of the adjectives I got for this post….just a brief glimpse of what it is like to be constantly judged…that too by the very ‘you’…..Welcome to my world!!
P.S. Darth, Cruella and Smith wish to add one must “Keep friends close and keep critics closer” and since they are with me every single moment of my life, I should consider myself extremely lucky and be grateful instead of bad-mouthing them in this supposedly-funny way. Amen.
This time I have decided to write about something silly since I have realized that in the attempt to make my blog spot introspective and interesting in terms of the issues I raise and the dilemmas that I talk of, I have made my blog uptight and serious and let’s face it – we all need to loosen up a bit sometimes and so will I in the following lines…
Do you know, the only book I haven’t finished in my life is the critically acclaimed ‘Fountainhead’? This is funny because I am the kind of person who sits through books as horrible as Danielle Steel’s ‘Mirror Image’ with the patience of a saint and the dignity of a queen. But then I managed to put aside something as powerful and radical as "Fountainhead’ without so much so as a whimper….I am still trying to figure out how and why….The longest time that I have talked on the phone has been 7.5 hours, on a single call and yet at the end of that I was ready to go on for another 10 and this comes from a person who found it difficult to open her mouth to speak a single word for the whole of a week when she was a child.
The funniest and the nastiest prank that I have ever played was on my poor, unsuspecting family members when I was five. I hid under the table in my home, concealed myself really well (which wasn’t that tough considering I was very small) and stayed right there for about ¾ th of the day. My parents searched the entire locality and were on the verge of reporting to the police when they found me sleeping cozily in my hiding spot. My back and butt still shudder at the memory of the thrashing that I received thereafter.
In the game of hide and seek, I was mostly the last one to be found. Once the rest of the gang got really pissed about this and decided to teach me a lesson. The game began as usual. Shouts of people being discovered were regularly spaced with intermittent silences as the hunt for those still hidden went on. And then there was a long silence. I began to get a little restless but decided not to give up till they actually found me, secretly enjoying the thought of how smart I was for having chosen such a good hiding spot…ahh, little did I know at that moment that mine was the pride of the ignorant moron!! When it started getting really late, I decided to peep out and see what was going on…To my amazement the spot where I had imagined everyone would have gathered by now, was creepily deserted. I couldn’t understand at first but then the truth hit a home run. I realized that when the second last person was found, they decided to quietly go home without declaring the game close; thus leaving me stranded in my hiding spot.
Deserters! Cheap skates! I swore I would have revenge, I would teach them a good lesson…but the next day, I changed my mind. I judged that it would be much better to just choose a more accessible spot rather than get into a physical/verbal fight. And I must inform you all that this was definitely not because of the physically intimidating girls in my group. It is just that I have never liked/encouraged violence much, I swear….
While in the first part, I talked more about what the movie 'Cache' portrayed, in this part I will be talking about how it disturbed me and made me think about the way I live my own life. As already specified, the movie deals with guilt conscience and the paranoia that develops once the guilt resurfaces as the forced amnesia that outlived itself, dies. In these conditions, a man left on his own, will either run away and try to hide from himself or face the conscience and seek redemption. In the movie, the protagonist chooses the former option which is ofcourse the easy thing to do but for how long? Eventually I guess you would be tired out and crouch into the temporary solace provided by drugs: prescription or otherwise thereby enslaving yourself to their command...there is another thing that could happen too...you could silence your conscience or learn to ignore it effectively but then how will you distinguish between the wrong and the right anymore? I don't know....the guilt complex according to psychiatrists is far more powerful than we think and is subconsciously capable of inflicting both physical and mental afflictions....but let's not dwell in that psychosomatic intrigue because I am not an intellectual on that subject but what I am thoroughly analytic of, is the thought process that was stimulated in me after watching that film and how disturbed I stayed for almost 2 days after that....
First I started recollecting my life and found that many a times I have been unusually insensitive, rude and uncaring and might have unintentionally hurt so many people...I might have not even realised how I affected them or made them feel about themselves or done much harm just by an unkind thought, word or gesture. Especially I thought of the days when I was in school. I topped the class always and was the teacher's pet...and most obviously wasn't much of a class favorite because of it...in fact I hardly talked to anyone much. I had only a few friends and very few aquaintances; the former category diminished with each passing year and the later well were just there for my notes...so all in all I was really alone but defiant. I was too proud to admit that I needed company and continued being alone...lonely actually and this began to take a toll on my moods. I became sulky and before long, began to withdraw in the shell of my own solitude.
Life teaches you to live somehow with the minimum that you have got and soon I began to enjoy this sadistic self-imposed imprisonment so much that anyone who even bothered to relieve me from myself for a single moment got snubbed. I snapped at anyone who dared disturb this precarious mental equilibrium of mine and in the process might have caused many an injury to the sentiment, the ego, the person. Many of them I am sure might have seriously wanted to be friends with me or help me out but I wouldn't let them. There was a guy who tried that more than once and every single time I neglected him; almost made a public display of my displeasure at those attempts....I think I hurt him....and I am sorry...I was a little kid who was trying to protect herself from the possibility of a camaraderie and the pain that it causes once it is broken...that is why I chose to have no one at all.....and in the process hurt that person who genuinely wanted to be friends with me....
Today I don't know where he is or what he is....there might have been others too that I might have hurt unknowingly and if given a chance I would to like to apologize to...bring out the hidden into the open and set it free...so that my conscience will give me a break atleast for once...
Two days ago, I had the disturbing privilege of watching Michael Kaneke’s "Cache" (French, means ‘hidden’) and what a tremendous and soul-searching experience it has been!! An iconoclastic film of a unique sort, it examines the guilty conscience of the protagonist and the emotional turmoil of his family life when creepy tapes of his house being in constant surveillance arrive at his doorstep accompanied by sinister drawings presumably of a child; suggesting a microcosmic representation of the deliberate amnesia and the redemption less existence of the entire French bourgeois when it comes to the treatment of particular ethnic communities with reference to a certain historical atrocity committed against them. Superb performances, script-e-finesse and path breaking direction come together to form a complex and intriguing work of art that shocks, surprises, thrills, horrifies and also compels self-introspection through the unrelenting gaze of our own conscience.
Personally, I feel the movie is one of the finest of all I have seen in a long time. It is deep, multilayered, emotional, human and above all real. Yet there is this element of unbelievability to it in the form of the mysterious tape-maker who is omnipresent and invisible. But finding his identity is hardly the purpose of this fascinating masterpiece even if it is a fact that he is the introducer of the story and he is the one who carries it ahead through twists and turns, finally taking it to its ambiguous end. The whole point of the movie is the message that it sends to the people of the world in general and that of France in particular about the emotional repercussions and untoward consequences of racial discrimination and hatred. The allegorical fashion in which the director presents it without being judgmental or contriving is simply brilliant. A man who refuses to admit his guilt, a wife facing emotional alienation, a boy with problems and confusions of adolescence, another father-son duo wrongfully framed, an enigmatic camera guy who creepily details a part of their lives; all set in contemporary France still nursing its social and economic divisions, refusing to accept responsibility for what happened in the past and even encouraging similar discriminatory and intolerant tendencies in the present.
With a limited set of characters and their insightful interactions, Kaneke orchestrates a moving thesis of modern life, complete with the glossy paint of luxury hiding the deep crevices in the walls of fractured relationships and the shiny, successful exterior masking the fragile, cowardly, pill-popping interior that is adamant about its innocence and refuses to make amends for its sinful past.
The film works at so many levels that it is unnerving to imagine the tremendous genius of the person who made it. I’d rather just bow to his work and pray that I come up with something as tremendously worthwhile and revelatory as this ‘Cached’ experience has been…..
It all started with our professor casually mentioning that a certain Mr. Danny Pope was going to come see us; while he was here for a few days doing a Visacard shoot. We all got a little excited since we were told that he was a top ad cinematographer from Australia who commanded a neat 5-figure per day (by neat, I mean 75+ and counting); Wow he must be some hotshot, we all thought. He turned out to be just that but in a slightly different way than we had expected. So on that day when he was to arrive; we got some extra chairs in our class to accommodate our seniors and were all up and attentive cause we were going to get it "from the horse’s mouth" as they put it. I grew a little intimidated of that ‘horse’ after getting a glimpse of his breathtakingly beautiful portfolio which was shown to us, right before he came in. There was this one thing that I had seen before and that was the famous ad with all the Rajasthanis hanging onto the bus, courtesy the "Fevicol" poster on its rear end. So he had shot it, huh? That was impressive…. and then there were these two GORGEOUS music videos, one called "1000 Kisses" with Will Smith and his wife Jaded Pinkett Smith and the other with Kelly Rowland (one from the Destiny’s Child trio). I loved the look of those videos and especially the lighting that made the ladies look like goddesses.
He was a little late; and then he just literally flew in like a breath of fresh air. I must admit that it took me some time to take his presence in completely; first because he was dressed as if he was on his way to Goa or the Carribeans, with his short khakis and bubbly blue beach T-shirt, which was so cool and secondly because he was so lively that the air literally charged up right at the moment he entered and stayed that way for the next 3 hours while he waltzed through his ‘unplanned’ lecture for us. He did such an entertaining job of it that I didn’t know what more could have been done if it was planned….he was whistling at times, singing little tunes of merriment, joking and being informative and detailed about his shoots; all at the same time so spontaneously that we were mesmerized not to mention completely taken in by his charms.
He had the enthusiasm that a little child has about his first drawing or his little science project that had the bulb glowing at the crucial moment when the teacher came to inspect and frankly it was infectious. He was enjoying the whole thing himself too; with all the fond memories as well as the not-so-fond and his spirit and energy defied his age. I mean, many of the young guys I meet are so busy acting like they are so mature, grown-up and "Mr. Know-alls" and that they end up being boring and ridiculous. But this was one guy, who was obviously so experienced and brilliant at his job yet had this unassuming attitude and absolutely down-to-earth persona that put others to ease and an authority over his domain, that is compelling without being suffocating.
That was nice; it meant you could talk to this guy and learn without feeling like an absolute fool. So at the end of 3 hours talk (which included an elaborate discussion on testosterone-high ad of "Petronas" shot in the scenic Cambodia and another rather stylish mobile phone ad, with sets like in a futuristic fiction flick, complete with models wearing the Jennifer Garner "Alias" look), it felt like while we were just making a beginning, it was already time to go. I didn’t get to interact with him on a one-to-one basis but next time he is here will make it a point to do that…hope that Pope is back real soon….(looks like I will never get over the cheesy rhyming schemes of mine J)
Morpheus I’m trying to free your mind, Neo, but all I can do is to show you the door.
You’re the one that has to step through. ….Let it all go, Neo. Fear. Doubt. Disbelief. Free your mind
As we meander through the labyrinth of our life, trying to analyze the many mysteries of life and find solutions to its problems; with our perfectly minimalist line of thought that conforms to the boundaries dictated by our inadequate if not hopelessly rotten system of education that aims at destroying every single corpuscle of original thought running through our blood stream and savagely stab every little bud of imagination that might even dare to think of blooming in the wasteland of our minds, already ravaged by the cruel soldiers of traditional, anachronistic thinking ignorantly planted by our parents and the society; very few of us are given the chance and the training to free our minds like Neo. But even if we are given that opportunity just how many of us would be able to take that leap of faith and make it in one long sweep over that deep gap of our firmly rooted beliefs and patterns of thinking? Not many of us I guess.
With our structured (read also: old and smelly) way of thinking and visualizing the world as it should be and our religious adherence to the ‘template’ form of life, it should come as no surprise that most of us are rendered almost handicapped when it comes to ‘out-of-box’ thinking. Even the choices we make are so rigid, steadfast and boringly predictable in terms of the education that we seek, the jobs we hunt, the clothes we wear, the food that we eat and the people we want to be with; that we let them restrict us from enjoying life it in its complete randomness and wandering variety. We let ourselves be such home grown ascetics that even a minute’s indulgence in the mindset of a hippie is almost sacrilegious to us, not to mention scary and unacceptable.
To tell the truth bluntly, many of us (including me) don’t have the balls to step up and question why we have to believe/accept things as they are or should be and not even make an attempt to do something different or L’Extraordinaire, meekly accepting things and hiding our own cowardice behind the pretext of destiny….or maybe we are just too lazy to make that extra effort to make a difference, think of something new and have the daring to explore unchartered waters and face the monsters that come as a part of the package deal.
Say we didn’t have the talent to set ourselves free, but somebody else luckily did that for us….what then? For example while understanding cinematography, our profs told us that there are a thousand ways to film a single shot, million colors to choose from, billion lighting patterns that could be done and a zillion meanings that a look can convey? Wow!! Imagine this… All your life you thought that there are only a limited number of ways to do a particular shot/scene and suddenly these guys open you up to the reality of an impossibly large number of combinations and permutations to do it and then they tell you the choice is yours…Your mind is set free, you no longer have to think within the limits that your own ignorance and unimaginativeness had imposed on you…it like the ocean has suddenly opened up and your little ship is expected to navigate through to reach the main land that is invisible….So what will you choose, which is the best route to take? Will you try doing something new and risk being misinterpreted or try doing it the regular way (with the standard angles and lighting) and just be one in the crowd? Will you be one of those who aim high and stand a mighty chance of ending up at the bottom of the ocean or be the one who plays it safe all the time and stay floating?
When we come to such a dilemma, it seems such an anti-climax…it is like you wanted to be free, you fought all through to find someone who could help with it, and then when you finally chanced upon your Morpheus, you began to wonder if you will find the courage to be Neo….
I don’t know as of yet…do you? or rather would you?
During the cinematography praticals, when we practice lighting arrangements and camera movements, we are required to perform different roles: that of lightman, the focus puller, the camera operator, the trolley pusher and that of the model too....ofcourse it is not that we act at all, just make the right movements so that the camera can follow us and the light can expose us.
Of all the jobs mentioned above, I find that being in the spotlight is the hardest. I cannot escape the self consciousness that engulfs me once the lights turn on and the camera is capturing every moment I make. It is weird really because these are the people with whom I interact everyday and it is not like I have to put up a performance or anything; but I cannot deny that what happens to me is a little unusual. I begin to pay attention to the way my eyes are moving, the way my skin partially reflects light, how I get up and sit down; things I never really bother about in real life. And then I wonder about the people who have to be under the scanner; the intrusive media spotlight; the unforgiving public eye for 24/7.....all of them, waiting with bated breath, just for the little slip, the big error and the egregious decision so that they can pounce on them and pull them down from the pedestal that they have put them on...
The lights literally flash out your eyesight; you can hardly see anyone....but everyone else can see you and it is this aspect of being glaringly visible but helplessly blind that constitutes the irony of the entire exercise. It is like being in the real glamour world; everyone gets to judge you but you don't know a zilch about them, their intentions, the reason for their judgements or simply why they get to tell you what you should/ should not be doing with your own life. Every little move the stars make is under the minutest scrutiny and is subject to the harshest of judgments; because somehow since they are popular, they are supposed to have an increased sense of self censor and are responsible to not just their own lives but also of those faceless, identity less people that look up to them and might be influenced to imitate the mistakes done by their idols, having supposedly lost all common sense and judgment of their own. Life is full of paradoxes I guess....or maybe that's just the price you have to pay for being in spotlight.
As a student of cinematography, I shall be learning about lenses & optics, cameras & camcorders, lighting and fixtures, film development and post production, image and editing softwares, video formats, compression techniques and much more on the technical aspect and subjects like script writing, production design, visual sense, film appreciation and direction on the creative side...whew, seems like a whole lot of things, doesn't it?
Each day dawns with the realisation of how much is to be learnt and understood and sets wearily with the dissatisfaction of how much less could be done in a day. I mean there are movies to be watched, dissected and chewed and ruminated; principles of light and lenses to be thoroughly grasped and digested;so many books that have be tasted and assimiliated; the websites sampled for their unique flavors and lots more....it is almost overwhelming at times when I think about the quality of work that has to be presented at the end of this couse...with the kind of training we are receiving it will be no wonder that we will be expected to present something smashing and I am not really sure if I will be able to stand to those expectations...only time will tell.
But the intimidating nature of the course is just one aspect of my life here. I have begun to learn the local language too. I have got a new cycle too; helps me to get around in the neighbourhood especially on the weekends. But more importantly I must say that these days, I have a strange sense of bliss within me...it is like I am finally beginning to make sense of things, my own dreams and the events that have led up to here....feels a little like heaven....it is like the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place....
I cannot completely explain what it is now but one day I will have the complete picture and know how the elements of the Universe conspired in getting me where I wanted to go....
The one thing that I won’t have to worry in Chennai is how I am gonna save time from the everyday vagaries such as bathing, having food etc. Providence has already made the necessary arrangements. Let me list them for you…
1.Bath The first ritual of the day which has to be completed in kind consideration of other people’s senses; primarily the nose and the eyes. Since the room that I live in does not come with the luxury of hot bath, I have to suffice (read: suffer & shiver) with cold water every morning. So it is no surprise that I won’t be spending too much in the bathroom from now on, previously one of my top hotspots for wasting time.
2.Lunch/Dinner Mostly it comprises of rice. And being from North India (this I have derived from the Southside definition of the division of India as North and South, very much in contrast to the Geography textbook partition of India into four zones: East, West, North and South) where rice is an option and not the regular main course, let’s just say I ain’t really into ‘leisurely eating’ these days, which some of the patrons of this blog might remember was a passion that I took time with. These days I just wanna get over with it, burdened by the thoughts of the many kilos that I will have to sweat out later thanks to the calorie rich food (read: rice and curd and banana) that I have to stuff myself with.
3.TV Only South Indian channels are watched here by the demand of the majority and since this is still a democratic country, and my knowledge of those languages is far (read: equivalent to the distance between one end of the Universe to another) from perfect, I guess I won’t be watching too much TV.
4.Bedtime I have to sleep on rubberized coir mattresses, which I have realized are a pain to my spinal cord after sleeping on them for just one night. I’d rather be awake than sleep on that bed….
So goodbye to lazing on the bed and daydreaming….
5.Staying/Strolling in the room Previously I was a world record holder (it still ain’t official) in dwindling hours before the mirror in my room and strolling around till I got tired enough to drop on my bed and go to sleep. Now my room is only as big as to let me walk three paces exactly before I bump into some piece of furniture. Standing before the mirror for long isn’t a great idea for my feet get restless after a while (max 3 min) if I have to stand on the only tile (6*6inches) available between the mirror and bed. Hopping to the bathroom is literally a matter of one hop. It is just a distance of 100 cm from my bed. So you get the picture I guess!!
So every chance to get out of this place is going to be taken by me and this way I will stop spending myself in the room and go out to get some work done.
Moral of the story: Inconvenience is a great benefactor.
From the moment that the day begins I look forward to its end For the time to collapse right in my bed To elope with my dreams and pretend That I am someone else with more purpose With a cause, a challenge, a mission to contend
And before I come to that time When things shall finally happen in reality I shall keep continuing to make my escape From this world into the alternate eternity Denying myself the livingness of the present moment Choosing to die here for tomorrow’s mortality
I feel guilty about killing my present For the future that I haven’t seen As I snuff the life out of my spirit everyday Walking about like a zombie, unthinking and mean I wonder who I am being unjust to Just me, or the folks around, or to sensibilities demeaned
Why can’t I live with what I have? Be content with the things that make my life Why do I have the urge to destroy, to annihilate? The glorious today, complete with its boredom and strife Why live like this, hoping for a better future When everything that matters is in the present, complete and ripe.
It must be my own conscience, my own soul Heaping these punishments on me To exist in the present and live in the future As a reprimand for my choices beyond the conventional key To unlock what happens to me next, feeling like I defy my destiny For just one chance at the person that I want to be.
Disclaimer: This is a poem echoing my plight in the past when I was stuck up in the wrong place. Currently the situation is much better. For more information on this, kindly refer to my previous posts.
When I was in the IT industry, I spent each day thinking what the hell I was doing there. Clearly the job didn’t excite me nor was there anything remotely satisfying for me in it. As I dragged myself out of bed everyday to go to work, I questioned me about what I really wanted to do with my life. It was painful to know that I had never ever questioned myself before; accepting whatever seemed like the right to do socially and professionally. And now I had this job and this life that seemed so not meant for me.
It was time to change things irrespective of what had seemed destined in the past. It was important to do what I felt like pursuing with irreverence to the kind of education I have had and the kind of life (read: software professional’s) that I was supposed to live. And I started trying; first figuring out what I really needed to do and then how I could actually make it there. One of the ways of making to movies was to get admitted to a film institute and I did manage somehow to make it to one. So questioning to the point of absolute irritation and frustration did help….I admit that it ruined my emotional state for about four years but in the end it drove me crazy enough to make this drastic career change.
I think everyone should try it…keep asking yourself questions until you find the answers, which most of the times are the uncomfortable truths that you have evaded for long…it makes you more of yourself than you already are…
After a grand farewell from my team mates (which included a dinner party at one of the upscale clubs, a gorgeous show piece and a beautiful Titan Raga watch), I have moved to Mumbai for a while before beginning my stint as a student of cinematography in Mindscreen Film Institute, Chennai. Quite frankly, I feel weird right now…it is the sort of transition that I was hoping to make for a long time and finally when it is happening, I am desperately looking for a sign that tells me that is going to be all ok.
My parents, sisters and friends are all so supportive of this decision that I feel like the most blessed person in this world but still when I am alone (this is my status most of the times these days since I am on a break in an off season time when everyone is at work) I ask myself “Where are you going Arch? Where are you going?”
I know I am not scared nor am I am regretful about having given up a lucrative IT job but yes the thoughts that go through me these days are a little unusual. For e.g. the following five things are few of the many that creep into my mind (something that I haven’t thought about for the last 24 years or rather 15 years because I don’t really remember what I thought about before that):
What kind of job will I be doing after this? What sort of people will I be meeting? 2.1 Will they be nice to me? 2.2 Will I want to be with them? Is this the dream that I have been waiting to realize or did I take a wrong turn somewhere? What if it all goes bad someday and I crash down face first? Was giving up something that worked perfectly well to chase something that has negative chances of working out well such a great idea after all?
I guess the idle mind is the devil’s workshop so I shouldn’t be really concerned about these random musings. What I should be concentrating on, are the things that are going to happen next and the way I am going to deal with them….that seems more like the attitude I should have. And that is the right thing to do.
So to hell with all the worries….we will cross the bridges when we come to them….right now I need to strategize, to figure out what needs to be done. Even if everything goes wrong, well atleast I will know what it means to put your life and career on the line and also what ‘clichéd catch lines’ like chase your dreams and follow your heart are really all about….