Monday, March 26, 2007

A Little about me

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….

More about the 'little' me later.

Being 'Cached' - the introspection

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 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 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 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 that my conscience will give me a break atleast for once...

Being ‘Cached’ - The intrigue

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…..

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Meeting Danny Pope

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)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The ‘Matrix’ Dilemma

I know what you’re trying to do—

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?