Monday, October 13, 2008

A week of great films…

It has been a terrific week!!! I have watched five great films that have dazzled me; everything or atleast more than two things are superlative about each of them. And all of them have unfortunately left me doubtful of my own abilities as an aspiring filmmaker… Anyways, there’s a lifetime to find out if these doubts are justified or not…for the time being, I will talk about the movies;

The week started with ‘Adaptation’; It was a late Monday night and I was so goddamn sleepy but also hell-bent on watching this flick so with reluctant eyes but more than an eager heart I set out to see it and from the opening monologue itself, I was completely hooked on…The first dialogue of the film was something like this

Do I have an original thought in my head, my bald head?
Maybe if I were happier my hair won’t be falling off
Life is short; I need to make the most of it
Today is the first day of the rest of my life
Huh, I am a walking cliché
I really need to go to the doctor and have my leg checked; there’s something wrong with the bone
The dentist called again, I am way overdue
If I stop putting things off I’d be happier
All I do is sit on my fat ass
If my ass wouldn’t be fat, I would be happier
Then I wouldn’t have to wear shirts with the tails on them all the time…like that’s fooling anyone…fat ass…
I should start jogging again…5 miles a day…really do it this time…
Maybe rock climbing….I need to turn my life around
What do I need to do? I need to fall in love..

When I was hearing this, I couldn’t stop laughing because I could so easily identify with the chaos that the scriptwriter character, Charlie Kauffman was going through…I mean this is what I think about most of the times; things like ‘how I lack an original thought’ and ‘how I need to do this or that to improve my life’…it was all so hilarious, I replayed it thrice before seeing the rest of the movie.

The rest of it was also so great; it is a story of the scriptwriter, Charlie and his twin brother, also aspiring to be a scriptwriter and who is more interested in writing the ‘psychological thriller of split personality serial murderer who’s also the cop’ kinds. Charlie meanwhile is a loner struggling with mid-age crises, low self-esteem, intimacy issues and above all, a restless urge to write a completely original script. For this, he decides to adapt a novel about orchids and then his story, the novel writer’s personal story, the story in the book and the process of his writing the script all become a part of this film’s story.

It talks about so many things and yet manages to remain coherent and emotionally satisfying…the film debates about what makes a good script, the volatility of relationships, orchids, how passion directs or misdirects people, taking control of your life and so much more. There’s comedy, romance, adventure, suspense, drama, some unexpected action, tragedy, hell even some scientific ‘gyaan’ on evolution and orchids and all of this is neatly done without any spill-off or loss of track. It is one crazy brilliant script, accompanied by some great performances especially by Nicholas Cage in the dual roles of the scriptwriter twins and that of Chris Cooper as the enigmatic ‘orchid thief’ John Larouche. Coming from the man who wrote the path breaking ‘Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind’, this is a rare movie for all to watch and enjoy…I thoroughly loved it and has become one of the few movies that I don’t mind watching more than once…

Next I saw Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Lolita’…again the setting was midnight on a tiring Tuesday but more about this and others in the next blog…I am off to sleep now…haven’t slept properly for most of the nights this week…but its been fun…

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A thousand little things to ask…

Normal people are supposed to have 60,000 thoughts every day…In case of my hyperactive (and often clumsily immature) mind that doesn’t rest even for ten – millionth of a second, its safe to presume that atleast a billion of thoughts must be clashing into each other every single day. And out of these many, many, many, many thoughts, quite a few are open ended silly questions for which I almost never have answers…

Like at the top of my head now; I wonder where Superman hides his enormous cloak when he is dressed as Clark Kent, with the neat suit and the normal pants?

Why am I always hated by my ‘likeable’ roommates? Do I have something called as ‘Roommatophobia’ which turns on some subcutaneous glands that emit some foul, repulsive secretion that excites the ‘hate’ hormones in them….I mean, come on…what’s the deal with me almost never having a great roomie? It is like I am cursed for this sort of scarred life….

Next on my list…why did I (instead of all the rich and all the mega rich people around me) have to lose my N95 (which incidentally was also a gift)?? And that too on the third day after getting it…

People like Van Gogh, Mozart, Nietzsche, Baron, Poe were fascinatingly original and brilliant in their work and truly unfortunate in their lives….Is blinding talent and unfailing misfortune a part of God’s package deal for every other genius? Or is terrible suffering the only one true inspirer?

Was 2/3 rd of the Spiderman 3 movie directed by an alien masquerading as Sam Raimi? Or did Sam Raimi think that SFX was more important to the movie and sat all along in the Sony VFX lab asking his juniormost AD to direct the film? I mean what went wrong there?

Why don’t I ever have my camera on me when there is actually a great ‘Kodak’ moment?

Is morality ever linked to spirituality? Can you be immoral and spiritual at the same time?

Why does a pimple make a preposterous appearance on my face exactly two days before I really need to look good for an event? And why does it always have to get bigger the day before?

Why is it that on days that I don’t apply the sunscreen, the sun just wistfully decides to turn a full-intensity glare on me? Whereas on days when I am actually fortified and dare the sun to come out, it is just pleasantly cloudy or rainy…

Is having short stature and big feet the next step in evolution?

How stupid and ignorant we must seem to the Powers watching over us as we fight for the terrain that isn’t ours, for the resources that are meant for all of us using the fragile excuses of religion and race, indicating a weak (though scientifically evolved) mind that is unable to conjure up a better reason for war….Is global warming and all its side-effects such as hurricanes, pole reversal, melting glaciers and rising sea levels an indication of the judgment day approaching?

Which kind of movie wins at the Cannes? The esoteric, unpredictable, innovative abstract kind or the emotional, predictable, slow but life affirming kind?

If ‘the secret’ [as indicated in the book ‘The Secret’] to having anything in life is just based on imagining that we already have it and believing strongly in it then why don’t I have the Oscar already? I give my acceptance speech almost every day… L

Is love the greatest myth of all times?

Another Superman one….If we have Superman, why do we need all the other superheroes on the Justice League? I mean, how many people could you possibly need just to keep the stone of Krypton away from Superman? Nine???

With just this little trailer of my erratic-thought-superhighway mess, one can imagine what a mad house it must be inside my head most of the times. With this valueless insight, I come to the end of the silliest blog I have ever written….but you must understand that I gotta put down my load of stupid inclinations somewhere…now that it is offloaded here, I will get back to my serious (read: boring) musings and introspections about everything and nothing…and hopefully next time will have something less brain-damaging than the above…

Saturday, October 04, 2008

High on music…..

My life is full of passions and obsessions; quite a few that border on the edge of insanity. One of those passions is music; not that I say that I am deep into chords, strings or that I can recognize an A - major from a D - Minor at the first beat itself but it is just that I respond to music better than anything else.

Music changes the air around me; filling it with the vitality that its rhythm dictates and this very change affects me; affects me so much that I lose track of the time and space around me. Cliché, but true. I have to make a deliberate attempt to stop myself from dancing to or emoting the way the song requires me to. Sometimes when I am in a mood to chill out, I let myself go even if I am in the midst of friends often ending up facing them red cheeked when I come back from my musical trip. They find it amusing; I find it an embarrassing but difficult to control phenomenon.

Many a times when I am not listening to a record being played on a player, I am atleast running one inside my head, if not singing it out loud. I am not a great singer but I try and put my feeling in it. When a song plays, several images run through my head; sometimes they are those that I have seen on the video, sometimes they are my own but there is almost no time when there’s none. Music stimulates imagery in me; some known some out-worldly….like revealing a part of me to myself that I didn’t know before. I feel things I never knew existed or some others that I thought I was incapable of comprehending in just a beat. Sometimes when I hear a beautiful song and the singer’s soul touches mine; it almost feels like love at first sight, fleeting and arresting; breathtaking and grounding; knockout and uplifting all at the time. With few of my favorite songs, the ‘love at first sight’ keeps repeating over and over again…

Music thrills me; entices me, fills up the bottomless void inside of me atleast for a while. It inspires hope, nudges my dreams, stirs up dormant desires, makes me wanna fly…Most of all it makes me feel alive...It is about the only thing that helps me shed my inhibitions completely and it is the only high I will ever need – rest of the stimulants being pathetically incomparable (Not that I have tried any but then never felt the need for them). Music is my addiction; not that I’d die without it but I sure feel like I stop living when it isn’t around…

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Putting my pen down

For a long time now, I haven’t wrote….Not because I haven’t found anything worth writing about, also not because its not my ‘thing’ anymore but for the simple reason that I didn’t feel like it…

I wonder why? Why don’t I feel like I want to write anymore? Is it the fear of exposing to myself what I have metamorphosed into over a period of time that hasn’t been entirely uneventful? Or maybe is it is the fact that life has thrown so many experiences at me that I haven’t been able to reflect on any single one before I have to juggle another? Could it be that I am just not bold and honest enough as before to acknowledge the chaos inside and try and find a solution by confronting my demons by writing about them? Or is it just plain laziness?

I should stop asking myself so many questions and breathe enough to let my mind come up with some plausible answers. Phew!! Ok, maybe it is some rare planetary alignment of all of the above problems that’s causing this weird ‘block’ in my mind and almost paralyzing all my perceptions. My thoughts are just fluttering around like migrating birds caught up in bad weather, unable to find their way home. Flung between torpedoes of changing moralities and conflicting interests, they try to make sense of the real and the surreal. Someday may be they will flock together; maybe they will find the right direction but till then my pen will keep scribbling around hoping to find its flight of imagination….

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Reaching out in the dark

Its amazing how everything in life can be picture perfect but yet something so obviously fantastic to others can be so damning for you.
We keep striving all our lives to achieve these impossible goals hoping that when (if ever) we get there, we could allow ourselves to relax, to smile, to be happy and to chill out for a while. But sometimes, I think we get so used to this strife that life without it doesn't really seem like a life at all. It seems like a waste of time and so we further our ambition and set another Herculean goal for ourselves so that we can (masochistically) strive to achieve that too...again promising our tired soul of salvation once it is done. But of all the promises you make, the ones you least honour are the ones you make to yourself. And thus the vicious circle continues....ambition, strife, achievement, dissatisfaction, new ambition and so on...
I wonder if we ever shall find the elusive happiness that is actually (and unpompously) the reason why we enter the vicious circle in the first place. I don't know if I ever will; because I know that I can tick off objectively all that my ambitions from the to-achieve list once I am satisfied but I am yet to find a singular thing that can fulfil me.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

At the Asiatic

Following are some of the pictures that I took at the Asiatic Town Hall, Mumbai

God is dead

This startling philosophy (and to a God-fearing person like me, this is almost blasphemous) is one of the pillar stones of the ground breaking and surprisingly insightful work by German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. Since having watched the movie ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ where the brother character is heavily influenced by Nietzsche, I was interested in finding out about him and when I did I couldn’t help but be quite impressed by it.

Take a look at some of his ideas:

The basic one ‘God is dead’

Since Nietzsche’s work is open to multiple interpretations, none of which can claim to be a thoroughly accurate version of what he intended to say, this particular line could be interpreted in many ways. One is the obvious – Nietzsche with his love for ‘aphorisms’ and his ‘Anti-Christ’ polemics could have meant that God is literally dead. But scholars believe that it could mean that the universal view-point is lost. No one views an issue with the ‘big-picture’ mentality any more; every one has their own selfish, narrow-minded outlook towards issues and its resolution is done only for the benefit of oneself; not for the universal good of the society or the world as a whole. No wonder we have so many wars, genocides and hate-crimes. None of us really think of what we are doing to the world; all we are bothered about are our own short-term, thoughtless and self-centric goals. So true!

The will to power

In Nietzsche’s opinion, this will to power is the prime motivation for all our actions and ambitions; contrary to the belief that ‘will to live’ or ‘will to unite with good/God’ or even ‘will to be happy’ could be the motivating factors and I totally agree with him. Nothing motivates like will to dominate; the will to have power, honor & glory. Else why would we be risking our lives, our reputation and many a times the savings of a lifetime for that one elusive prize? Power is all that we seek. And that’s what keeps most of us going, consciously or sub-consciously. So if you think you are not one of those in the rat race for power and authority, think again….you just might realize the painful truth about yourself.

Eternal Recurrences

This one actually takes the whole Hindu philosophy of ‘reincarnation’ to a whole new level. Nietzsche’s idea of ‘eternal recurrences’ is interpreted as the possibility of all of us having to live this same life eternally, time after time and all the reason why we should live it in the most vital way we can.

Now I am not completely convinced that we have the same life over and over again but I do believe that we must live it in the best way we can. And not because we will need to repeat the same again in the next life but because I don’t think we will get the same chances again ever. So actually while agreeing somewhat with Nietzsche on this, I have to partially disagree too. But all said and done, what I am most awed by are Nietzsche’s originality and courage in taking a firm, anti-Christian stand against the reigning beliefs and the philosophies of acknowledged heavy – weights like Plato, Socrates, Kant and Schopenhauer. Man, what guts!!

The irony of his whole life was that it seems that the cause of his death was supposedly ‘his disillusionment and mental maladjustment with his own philosophies’…

Fly me to the moon

Fly me to the moon
Let me play among with stars
Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars
In other words, hold my hand
In other words, baby kiss me

Fill my heart with song
Let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for, all I worship and adore
In other words please be true
In other words I love you

Could the art of speaking your heart out get any cuter and charmingly disarming than this? That’s the magic of Frank Sinatra and his eternally imitation-worthy poetry of love and life. But just the words aren’t enough. You have to listen to the voice behind this; classic, sexy, gentlemanly and so…so alluring….it is almost magical..

Frank Sinatra, the ‘greatest entertainer of the 20th century’; what a voice, what a talent! His songs 'The way you look tonight', 'Night & Day' etc. are a crash course in how to cast a spell on women.

I, for one, am already on my flight to the moon...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A little less conversation…

‘….A little more action please’, Elvis Presley’s immortal lines from one of the most popular songs of all the times. Remixed as JXL feat Elvis Presley, this chart-topping hit is one of the greatest dance numbers and personally a huge favorite. Is also heard as the background score for the smart, witty and clever ‘Ocean’s Eleven’. But more than its racy beats, its foot-tapping rhythm, it is the sound of Elvis Presley’s voice that’s hypnotic, especially when he says, “Come on baby, I am tired of talking…Grab your coat, let’s start walking”. Elvis Presley: the rebel, the enigma, the charisma, the controversy, the magnetic stage personality, the style that provoked a trillion impersonations and a smoldering sensation that ignited a million musical ambitions.

Elvis’ life and times are the stuff that makes legendary folklore. Through personal setbacks and destructive exploitations of his musical genius, he continued making music that still rocks the charts and keeps him at the No. 1 spot of the highest earning deceased celebrities. It is no wonder that Elvis pulls off this astonishing stunt posthumously year after year because he has spent a lifetime inventing the shocking and achieving the extraordinary; his on stage-antics (a.k.a “anit-Christian, sexually provoking” dance moves) had the conservative Church authorities condemning and banning him, his introduction of the so-called Black music into the mainstream line was disturbingly original, he was the first real popstar with his electrifying movements, the trademark white costume, white shoes, fashionably large glasses mesmerizing overbooked concert stadiums and flooring young and old alike, he defied convention to put rock-and-roll and blues together, he entertained audiences with a fervor and vigor that was considered vulgar and almost superhuman, his love life was hyped and discussed and contemplated about yet in his own confession it was singularly non-existent, he was the subject of the greatest ridicule, criticism and polemics ever written and also the object of everyone’s overwhelming love, undying admiration and blind devotion. Elvis was in short, one for all, all for one.

While listening to his music, I found that his voice had an unusual quality of sounding tender, strong, booming, low-key, playful, sad, loving, condemning each at different times; sometimes sounding all of these at one go. Listen to the shivering “Fever” sung with a minimal musical accompaniment that makes you wanna feel love as ‘a lovely way to burn’ and the classic, drenched-in-honey love anthem “Can’t help falling in love with you”, sung with such deep, surreal passion that it melts the strongest defenses of your heart. From the rebellious, fun-filled “Jailhouse Rock” to the lifting gospel “Amazing grace”, from the heartfelt, genuinely warm “Sweet home Alabama” to the emotionally engaging, heart rendering and defiant “I did it my way”; Elvis’ unmistakable voice reigns supreme. In today’s world of synthesized sounds and oft- indistinguishable voices and strains, an Elvis oldie will stand out as strikingly different and instantly recognizable due to its sheer style and vocal quality.

His gradual decline into drugs and uncontrollable obesity (the videos of some of his last concerts show him as being sick and unable to perform but still holding on is heart breaking to watch them) became a media spectacle for ridicule and speculation and his untimely death was an inconceivable shock (some fanatics believe he is still alive and the person who was buried was his twin brother…there are many such theories) but what live on are the legacy of his timeless music and his indelible charming impressions as one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century.

Elvis, to me you are the original rockstar, everyone else is just a derivative. For the world of music, you might have checked-out of the building but you can never truly leave. ‘The wonder of you’ will always stay alive…I love you dude, you rock!!