Monday, January 31, 2011

Dange-fasad ke baad (nazm)

Wo mazhabi tahammul, jane kahan wo pyaar gaya
Hoti khalish tujhe jo mujhko chubh ke khar gaya
(Earlier if you would get hurt by a thorn (sorrow), I would feel the sting (pain).
Now, where did the religious tolerance and love vanish?)

Jane nahi mafoom-e-sayaam, us masoom par vaar hua
Farzand-e-baafand-o-Ramullah ka kaha hua bekar gaya
(Even the innocent child who didn’t even know the meaning of religion got attacked.
All the preaching of Jesus and the weaver’s son (Kabir) went in vain.)

Na goonji aazaan-ba-masjid, sunsaan khaDa hai butkhana
Dauran-e-qitaal qanara ne naya g.ul akhtiyaar kiya
(There was no sound of aazaan from the mosque, even the temple was deserted.
The butcher’s shop had a lot of noise during the riots.)

BaDe itminaan se khaDa sochta hai qaafir
khanjar-e-khoonchka kitne jigar ke paar gaya
(The atheist thinks with great satisfaction that how many people
he slaughtered with his blood-stained dagger.)

Ki dariya ke paani mein aaj behta tha laal lahoo
Dekh kar muskayi ajal, jazba-e-hasti sharmsar gaya
(Red blood flowed in the river’s water today, seeing which death smiled,
and the spirit of life was ashamed.)

Bata kis ki ibadat tu karta hai zahid
Tera maula wo jo jeeta ya jo haar gaya
(O religious teacher, tell me whom do you worship.
The God who lost or who won during the riots, which one is your God?)

Dair-o-haram mein ab kise dhoondte ho ‘gulfam’
Use kal koi dang-e-fasaad mein maar gaya
(Gulfam , who do you search for in the temple and mosque now?
Somebody killed him in the riots yesterday.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


मोहब्बत के मिजाज़ बदल गए अख्तरी
उस झील के पानी में
जब भी डूबने को जी चाहा
खुद को घुटनों तक के
पानी में खड़ा पाया
उस झील के गंदले पानी में
डूबूँ तो कैसे
मय का असर भी
आजकल कुछ और ही है
खुमार होते ही सीने में
किसी की याद की चिंगारियां
आग पकड़ने लगती है
बात ना करूँ तो धधकती है
बात कर लूँ तो बुझ जाती है
तेरी आवाज़ के सिवा अख्तरी
अब डूबने को और बचा क्या है
तुम ऐसा करो कि आ जाओ
या मुझे बुला लो अपने पास
मैं तुम्हारे लिए
पान बना दिया करूँगा
तुम्हारी सिगरेट जला दिया करूँगा
और हाँ, तुम्हारे हारमोनियम की
धूल साफ़ कर दिया करूँगा मैं
तुम मुझे अपना पास बुला लो
क्योंकि तेरी आवाज़ के सिवा अख्तरी
अब डूबने को और बचा क्या है

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dry on emotion

I have chamfered
the corner of my eyes
I have blocked
the vent of my sighs
I have run myself out
dry on emotion.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The bamboo hat

A woman passed in front of me to head into the university office. I am left enchanted by the hat that adorns her head. It's a big, round, conical hat made of bamboo, the kind of which I have seen only in the movies. I exclaim almost involuntarily, "What a beautiful hat!" It won't be much to say that instead of the word 'beautiful' complimenting it, it is the hat which has imparted a new intensity to the word 'beautiful'.

She emerges out of the office door a few minutes later. I say to myself, "I wish I could have it." My eyes follow her fading figure, as she goes farther before finally taking a turn.

I sit there for quite some time unable to think about anything else. While I am still looking in that direction, the hat reappears from round the corner. While she passes in front of me yet once again, I wait no more to tell her that it's a beautiful hat. She smiles. I express my predilection for such a hat, asking her where to buy it. She is regretful at having to inform me about its unavailability since she brought it from her country Vietnam.

I guess that the wistfulness surfacing on my face must not have been difficult to read because she picks the clue and offers it to me. I am gratified way beyond words. However, a sudden hesitation hinders my instinctive reaction to grab it. I don't understand this. Why would she like to part from such a valued possession from her land, that too for a stranger? Of course, she is not being formal, as courtesy doesn't demand this much from someone. On top of it, she doesn't say if I would like to have it, rather she asks in a mildly apologetic tone if I won't mind taking her old hat, as if I would be doing her a favour by accepting it.

With my eyes still fixed on it, my little sense of societal norms and courtesies forces me to murmur reluctantly, "No, it's okay. How could I take it?" She insists on my keeping it. At this point, the mature guy succumbs giving way to the craving child. The hat is mine.

What price could I pay for it? Firstly, I would have to go to Vietnam to get another one like this. Secondly, the more you desire something, the more you are ready to pay for it. My limitless desire justifies any price for it. Thirdly, it's her personal possession and not merely an article. This gives her the right to demand any amount for it.  

I fear that offering to pay her might look arrogant and offensive, but I still wonder that did she just part with it without expecting anything. If not, not paying might mean to be impertinent. So, I ask her how much would I pay for it. She is quick to refuse anything, remarking, "You like it. So I gift it to you." Wow! this is definitely one of the best gifts I have ever received. I introduce myself to her and ask her name. She is Sister Taing - a nun from Vietnam.

As she leaves, I look at her with incredulity. I had only heard of people possessing something without being possessive about it. Today I saw it. How she could own, admire and love something and yet remain so untouched so as to be able to gift it to someone without a pinch!

I come home with the hat. I do my photo session with it. Now it lies in the corner of the sofa opposite me, and I still don't seem to have enough of looking at it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The ruins

Why the ruins enamoured me,
I could never comprehend
I would go there time and again
Entranced by a magic wand

Seven rooms lined up adjacent
In that old deserted building
Shattered window panes peered
Out of walls gradually crumbling

Probably a market or school
Abandoned since long ago
Twilight years ruminated ruefully
In a gleaming past's shadow

Sitting on the steps of the porch
I looked at the sprawling  trees
And bathed in the moonlight
Filtering through dark leaves

As the smooth breeze whispered
In my ears a nonsensical rhyme,
The revelation took hold of me
The ruins had lost a sense of time

Practical sense disavowed existence
Of this building, so dreary
Nothing left undisposed, it just
Stood there wild and free

As if it had always been this way
As if it would stand there forever
It was all but so whole in itself
Isolated from the worldly clamour

Emanated from the nothingness,
I adored, its beauteous reflection.
Encapsulated in a glassy cocoon,
I was unstirred by any distraction

Things projected them to me
Through the glassy membrane
Rid of their superflousness,
What if existence were in vain.

Water gushing, leaves rustling
Traffic din and children's play
To my ears floated every sound
Distinctly even from miles away

Liability for meaning deliquesced
On seeing the face of existence
Things exist, they exist anyways
To exist became an acquiescence

Moonlight cascaded onto the ruins
An oceanic moment, I was diving
No pain or relief, no joy, no grief
I sat there on the steps smiling.

Friday, January 21, 2011


F Star Star Star
I wonder what you are
Rampant in the world
at a rate so high
Yet the word is tabooed,
I wonder why.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sponge rasgullas

News Bulletin : 18/01 : 09:00 pm. The famous sweets' reviewer Vijeta Dahiya has come up with his much-awaited latest list announcing the best rasgullas in the city. 'Laxmi dairy and sweets' has bolted out of blue and notched the top rank in this list for its awesome sponge rasgullas. The said product is priced at a staggering 20 percent higher compared to those in other shops, but well justifies its cost owing to its high quality. The winner has surpassed the previous record set by the famous 'Aggarwal Sweets'. The latter shifted to two places lower in the list losing the second place to 'Bittoo Tikki wala' which diversified into making sweets around an year ago but achived real success in it only this time around. Following the review, sweet lovers have already started queuing outside LDS to get a taste of the best rasgullas in the city.

The boy with the machine gun

I was sitting on the bench in the park reading Orwell’s ‘1984’. I see women treading the path which runs around the park. A group of boys stands leaning against the railing on the outward corner of the park, smoking and laughing a laugh which is recognizable as the one typical to gossiping. Some children are playing cricket. Although there is a lot of action happening around, yet I experience a certain monotony in it. It lacks any dynamism probably because of lacking spontaneity while totally conforming to a pattern of the normal activity in a park. I further read about reality control, conditioning of minds and then the internalizing of these conditionings so as they seem to be the absolute truth.
Suddenly I hear a sound of ‘dh dh dh’, or was it ‘dsh dsh dsh’. I look up and see a young boy holding a virtual machine gun, and firing virtual bullets through his mouth. He constantly moves to and fro, firing and more interestingly, even escaping all this while from bullets being fired at him. Probably he’s assumed a romanticized view of thieves after watching the movie ‘Dhoom 2’ or maybe he’s doused in patriotism after watching ‘LoC’ or ‘Border’. The reason fails to draw my curiosity. Whatever it might be, what’s actually more enchanting is his conviction in the act.
The precision with which he seems to hold a gun and fire bullets is nothing less than watching someone actually firing with a real gun. The act reaches its next level, when a bullet hits him. His chest and shoulders shake at two enemy shots. He limps for a while before finally falling onto the ground. Then as if garnering some last remnants of life in him, he lets out a yell of undying valour, and staggers back to his feet to fight the enemy, and this time with greater furiousness than before. He is totally incognizant of his surroundings – a whole world in himself.
The next moment, our eyes meet for an instance. I am afraid that this might make him uncomfortable owing to shyness and cause him to stop. A smile on my lips transpires and appears on his in an unknown form. It’s definitely not that smile of awkwardness in instances when someone catches you doing something eccentric or personal. He confirms this the next moment by stepping back from the brink of his world back into it and losing himself into it once again.
I wish I could make him stand atop a towering pedestal where he could do it in front of the whole world. This strikes to me as an act which could swipe an entire civilization off its feet turning to dust its labyrinthine traditions of a thousand years. This dynamic conviction consisting of spontaneity and self-consciousness seems capable of overthrowing the dominion of several Big Brothers. As for him, it could let him achieve anything just the way he conjured the gun, bullets and wounds out of nowhere, but only if it doesn’t get despised, curbed or maneuvered forcefully in other directions at home and school.  
This reminds me of an article by Osho in which he talks about meditation in his centre where everyone is asked to shed every distraction and just do whatever they have always wanted to do, without any pretensions.
The act reaches its climax when he eventually succumbs to his injuries and dies. An old man, probably his grandfather, lifts him off the grass and takes him home with him.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Come when you want to (poem)

O death, I really won't mind
Come whenever you want to
I would welcome you dearly
Ready to walk with you,

As I try not to procrastinate,
Started doing what I love to.
I'd leave behind everything,
There is no packing to do.

But expect me not to wait
Just come when you want to.
Stop bothering me until then
I've got many things to do.

The man on platform 8

I fondly remember a story by Ruskin Bond which we read in class IXth titled 'The woman on platform 8'. A teenager Ravi is going back from home to his hostel by train. The train is late, and he's got to wait for some three odd hours. A serene lady draped in an equally serene white saree approaches him, talks to him, and takes him with her to eat jalebis. Then comes his classmate Satish with his paranoid and practical mother. The woman in white saree assumes the role of Ravi's mother so that he doesn't have to feel embarrased about the fact that no one came to drop him to the station. Satish's mother once says, among all other worldly wisdom of hers, that the world is bad, and one needs to be beware of strangers. Ravi cuts her short avowing his likeness for strangers. When the train comes, she asks her son Satish to take care of sundry things, giving him some food stuff to eat on the way. The woman asks Ravi to take care of himself. Ravi acknowledges her affection by kissing her on the cheek and saying, "Goodbye mother."  

In the discussions we had in the class over the reason of the woman's benevolence and shower of affection upon Ravi, the conclusion that was put forth was something about the woman having lost a son of about that age, and seeing him in Ravi. Now I feel that this conclusion almost does away with the whole purpose of the story. The story, as I perceive it, is more about a universal form of affection and love that transcends all barriers.

I was on my way from Mumbai to Delhi, boarded on the Indian Railways. I felt quite bored after listening to and talking the conventional middle class talk with a family, whose son is an engineering student in IP college. They insisted that their son talk to me to obtain some tips for placements. I counselled him. When I realised that it had been quite enough for me and the boy, I climbed the upper berth to put myself to sleep. I see these young, naughty girls perched on the side upper birth, constantly laughing and fighting among themselves. I casually say hi to them, and get introduced. The elder one, aged around 11, is named Saba. I can't remember the name of the other one who is around two years younger. They are going to their maternal uncle's place with their mother and a still younger sister, an infant, seated right below.

The conversation takes no time to catch up. They have had an argument over a G.K. question which appeared in the little girl's test in school. They ask me for the answer. When the little girl discovers that she did it wrong, she animatedly lets out a sigh of disappointment. They tell me about their favourite tandoori chicken with such vivid expressions of relishing even the thought of it, and their favourite place in Mumbai being some Thakur's Mall at Meera Road. They tell me about their visit to Red Fort and Qutub Minar. I ask them if they have been to other places in Delhi like Tajmahal. They point out that the Taj is in Agra. I counter them saying that it's been shifted to Delhi. They look confused for a moment. Then when the smile emanating from the corner of my lips gives it away, they burst laughing, declaring that they are not going to get fooled and that they know for sure that it's in Agra. A pantry guy roams the alley with shouts of 'garam chai' (hot tea). I get a tea for myself. To amuse the kids, I surprise him by saying 'muhtaram ka inayat ke liye shukriya' (thank you monsieur for your kindness). He looks me into the face nonplussed. The girls, who I rightly guessed to have inherited some knowledge of Urdu from their brilliant mother, grasp the meaning quite a bit and chuckle for long at his perplexity. I explain the meaning to him before he heads to the next compartment.

I have gathered from whatever I heard their mother speak while sitting down that she is deemed absolutely fit to play the role of Satish's mother, and anytime, she would blare a siren asking the girls not to talk to me. I think that I would fend her off on account of some kind of a right induced by a strong universal affection which I feel for my sweet young bubbly mates. I would tell her not to bother us, and go to sleep while letting us enjoy our chit-chat. At this moment, she looks up. Probably my feeling gets commuted to her in a mysterious manner because she says nothing and resumes playing with the infant in her arms. I catch a glance of 'Moby Dick' and 'The wizard of Oz' in a corner of their bag. Saba takes out 'The wizard of Oz' and starts reading it out, asking me the meaning of the difficult words she comes across. I avoid  her the trouble by taking the book, and reading it out to them. I explain it to them with voice modulations and gesticulations of my hands. They listen to me entranced, their enamour showing itself in their looks of surprise, awe or giggles as the story progresses. By now, the paranoid unrest broiling in the mother seems to have reached a high level. She vents it out through an excuse that other people are getting disturbed in their sleep. Considering her having made an excuse instead of directly telling me to stop or telling them to sleep, I realize that I was not wrong about the silent communion of my feeling to her. I insist on completing the chapter. After I have finished, they are still in no mood to sleep, but the mother's order bids them to lie down willy-nilly. Yet the little girl silently moves her lips to say something to me. I point with a finger on my lips and then my hands under my bent face, motioning to her to keep quiet and sleep. She keeps peering from under the blanket making faces. I also make faces at her and  the muffled sound of her laughter keeps coming from under the blanket. Finally I suggest to her that let's meet Dorothy, the protagonist in the novel, in our dreams. The idea catches her imagination, lulling her to sleep.

Yesterday evening I watched Philadelphia. Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks), a successful lawyer is a homosexual. He is fired from his firm on some petty excuse, when they discover his sexuality and the terrible disease AIDS he is afflicted with. Miller (Denzel Washington) refuses to take up his case on account of his bias against homosexuals. However, when he spots him later in a library doing research on AIDS and the corresponding laws, to fight his own case, there is something that stirs in Miller. He argues the case for him, and makes the employers pay the punitive damages. The movie takes its toll on me. It moves me. It makes my heart heavy partly because of the amazing portrayal of sentiments, and partly because of that scene. I am enthralled when I see Tom Hanks in that scene when he is distressed, listens to a song and gets completely immersed in it. It's definitely one of the best scenes that I have watched in any of the movies I have ever seen, and Tom Hanks is, for sure, unbeatable. It sends that craving of acting down my spine and makes me realise how far I stand from something like being in this wonderful scene. So, I go to a park, rethink my thoughts and strategies, and reassure myself about being on the right track. 

Tents have been erected in the nearby apartment. The dj is blaring out loud music. I guess it to be someone's wedding. As I march down the road, I see many such celebrations, and realise that it's Lohri. People are warming their hands sitting near bonfires, eating revdi, gazzak and groundnuts. They are laughing and dancing on the drumbeats. Several trays with sumptous food are lined on the table waiting to be devoured. I feel sad like a little child around whom there are lots of lights, lamps and crackers burning on Diwali, but he's got just nothing. I look at them, and walk the road so as to pass from near them in the stupid hope that someone would stop me and say, "Hey boy, why are you standing there, huh? Come on, join in. I am sure you know how to dance a beat or two." But they nullify my hopes while standing upright on my expectations. So I plan to excuse myself of my regular eating place, and decide to go out to have good food.

I reach a restaurant (or shall I say dhaba). As I am about to take my seat on a table, I feel someone tugging at my jacket. I look back to find a kid looking at me. He murmurs something I am not able to make out. I bend down to bring my ear near him. He says, "....Goodday...". I find it slightly incomprehensible, since the yearning in his soft quavering voice makes it clear to me that he is not intending to wish me a good day. He points out to the sweetshop in front, on the other side of the road and says it again trying to be clearer, "Good day biscuit. From that shop." Ahh! I look at him. It's nothing like begging. He isn't even requesting. It's something totally different.  He well exerts his right holding my hand to walk with him to the shop. I worry for an instance if he's not lost. I ask where his parents are. He points to a stout woman with a white cloth tied on her head, standing on the outside of restaurant, remarking that mother has got no money. Since he wants to eat goodday biscuits and mother has got no money, I should get it for him. I have never heard an argument more logical than this and he puts it forward in such a natural, nothing-out-of-the-way manner that it's just not possible for me to refuse. As the shopkeeper shows me the packet, he literally jumps with joy saying, "Yeah, this is the one." He flashes a beautiful immaculate smile while taking hold of it, and runs away.

I am so happy that he hasn't learnt saying 'thank you'. I don't understand why people think that they could call you after a long long time, say that you've forgotton them, beat around the bush for a while asking about your well-being, then tell that they've got some business with you, and expect you to do it for them in return for a formal, courteous, dried-out 'thank you'. My shrewdness gets awakened on their touch. I tell them not to worry, and that I would do it, while I say in my mind, "To hell with you, man." I wish someone could hold a mirror for them to gaze at their own impertinence. May be I would do something for them if they spare the shrewd, extra-friendly part and merely tell me what is it that they want. Well anyways, I saw this surge of life in this little kid, and I found myself becoming a part of it.

As I return on my table, his mother is getting her order from the restaurant packed. He is standing beside her, and tugs on her sleeve laughing and pointing to me, to show me to her as an acknowledgement. But his grim mother has grown too old to understand this small thing - this affinity of ours. I am relieved that she doesn't look at me. Who knows, she might conclude that I did it out of charity, or she might be embarrased of her inability to get biscuits for him or still worse, she might think that I have lost a son of about that age, and see his face in any kid. I am scared that she might say 'thank you' and spoil it all. Well, she doesn't look towards me, and leaves with the kid after receiving her complete order. 

This day, I am the man on platform 8. At other times, people have done heart-touching things for me without expecting anything in return. On my first five-day wandering, I was an amateurish backpacker. It din't even occur to me to get a blanket with me in the month of January. So, on the second night of my journey, I am lying on the wooden berth freezing, trying hard to sleep. I wear a pyjama on top of my jeans, and another shirt on my pullover, but my teeth won't stop cluttering. I just lie in a half-trance with my eyes shut and my body bent double.

The faint sunshine wakes me in the morning. I have slept well owing to a blanket I find myself covered with. The man sitting below sees that I am awake and smiles at me as if to say 'good morning'. While I am still puzzled about the source of the blanket, he casually remarks that the night was quite cold, and I was shivering. I hand out the blanket to him. He just did it out of sheer concern and affection, which I don't want to repay, because I know I can't, with a 'thank you'. He is anyways a villager from Rajasthan, and doesn't know this language. His wife is there with him. I sit with them and talk about various things. I reach Jodhpur next night. Another guy, who I got acquainted with in the train, offers me shelter for the night. He entreats me with food and in the morning, he, a cousin of his and I eat sweets before I say goodbye to leave for my next destination Jaisalmer.

It's a great feeling - meeting men and women on platform 8, and sometimes being in that position yourself. In such a case, you are never lonely, as the whole world moves with you. A wise old Indian saying of a thousand years sums it up in a nutshell - 'Vasudhaev Kutumbkum', meaning to say that the world itself is a family.

It's not that strange but a bit that a singer from the west understands and echoes this sentiment from the east so perfectly. A few lines from John Lennon's song 'Imagine' -

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The jinx of lower class

I go for a walk in their colonies and parks. I see them cleaning the drains, picking junk from the garbage dump, fighting over petty matters, making a 'joint' of ganja (drugs), playing gilli-danda. Everything about them reeks of their common 'low class' characteristics - the expressions in their eyes, their multi-coloured clothes, their dingy houses, the kind of songs they listen to, the films or TV channels they watch, the filthy alcohol they gulp down their throats, the cheap cigarettes they smoke, their actions. I wonder if it has left any void of individuality even in their minds. Or do they think of the same things, that too in the same way. At least, they seem to talk very much the same. So, you never know. There is nothing unpredictable about them. Nothing that is just that person's, and doesn't give out his low-class status.

I look at those kids - the only remnants of some dynamic life and uniqueness, which is constantly fading . I think where are they headed to. I feel sorry for them - the high conhesive force would let them go nowhere. They would keep rotting in these slums. I wish I could shout it out to them. They sit in their fathers' teashops, they go to those schools which fail to make them see dreams, their potential, the benefit of education, they would drop out after a few years, and then continue with making tea or at the most, find some rickety job, unless something happens.

But what could possibly happen? Their eating places, cinemas, schools, parks - everything is different from those of the middle class or high class people. It's like a small, non-polygonal closed world in which they keep loitering. They are jinxed.  The outside is virtually blocked to them, and on the inside, there are only rooster coops binding them. Where could the inspiration come from? This sad realization dawns on me, and sadder than that is the fact that they are not in a position to even realize or understand it.

Books seem to be the only solution. A gateway to the world outside. A door which, sitting in their room, could let them foray into an arena of thoughts reaching outside their drudged life, enable the formation of individual, unique thoughts, opinions and dreams. Rumi said, "Give a child a beautiful poem to read, and he would never be a slave." But they would spend money on anything but novels and poetry books, to which they have had no exposure since ages and which would seem to them to be something futile. Thinking of either distributing books among them, or to form some kind of reading club.

Leave the kids alone

This photo is from six-day Iztema organized at CST, Mumbai to teach women how they must behave as per rules of Islam. The little girls could not save themselves from religion imposing itself upon their young minds and innocent childhood. They walk in a sullen and paranoid state with their faces covered when they should have been merrily playing around trees, their laughter reverberating in the skies.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Not everyone could possess the imagination so as to able to either see His face in the stormy wind, the surging waves, or the cascading moonlight, or to listen to His voice in the chirping of birds, rustling of leaves or the roaring waterfalls. So they build an image of him to keep in front for convenient communication.
This is still God-worship.

The problem occurs when they get so attached to those buildings of brick, lime, mortar and cement called temples, mosques, gurudwara, synagogues and churches that they fancy them to be the abode or rather the cage of God forgetting that He is everywhere.

They spill oodles of milk and water on the idols which then runs down the drain. They light lamps and incense sticks in front of it. They organize satsang (devotional gathering) and dance in front of it. They do so much for the stony idol but nothing to appease God. They turn a blind eye to His poor needy beings; they destroy His nature and increase greed and restlessness in His beautiful world. This is the blind idol-worship.

The conflicting objectives of film-making

Cinema could be spoken of as a manipulative representation of real life on a reel. The two important elements of manipulation and reality evidently seem to be in conflict. But then cinema essentially encompasses both of them.
The real element –
Movies have been a mirror of the society and the world. They have exposed us to the world around us. The changes in the world are, to quite an extent, reflected in the movies.
They have helped us in forming opinions. They have to their credit much contribution in the evolution of cultures.
Portraying reality becomes essential for the viewer to relate to the movie.  The film might be wishful or realistic, but the background essentially comprises of places, people, things and emotions experienced in everyday life.
The manipulation element –
If we place the camera and let it record the events, then what we get would be more appropriately described as a recording. The movie is made of scenes, which consist of sequences. The sequence, in turn, is an array of shots, taken from various camera angles and positions. So the lucid continuous flow is actually a combination of discrete shots – the illusion having been created by observing continuity. This manipulation is responsible for the visual appeal of a film.
The movie covers a span of days, weeks, or even years and generations, but length of any film is a maximum of 3 hours. Remember ‘Gone with the wind’, ‘Ben Hur’ or ‘Deewar’, which are sagas of a lifetime. This manipulation of the condensing of time forms one of the core elements of film-making.
In life, we never hear the beating of drums or flutes in the air to coincide with our happy state, or any sad music to describe our blues. But the movie has a background score to it, which echoes the ongoing emotion. This manipulation is at work in sensitizing the viewer and internalizing the sentiment within him.
There are various other additional manipulative effects used to create emphasis or dimensions. Remember Salman smashing Sonu Sood’s skull with his hands in Dabang, in red colour, or Neo (Keanu Reeves) sending all the agents of Oracle toppling with a single blow of his hand in slow motion. A highly dynamic action was given an effect for the audience to have time to appreciate it. And sure, no one minded the slow motion.  In fact, the bollywood people loved it so much that they copied it into their movies. Another often used effect is ‘black and white’ for showing the past in several movies, even though the world is never black and white.
But these are mainly the manipulations in technique which are justified by cinematic conventions which even a layman knows after years of watching movies, and hence no objection is raised in his mind.
The conflict –
However, there occur situations when both these elements of reality and manipulation stand face to face, none of them ready to easily give in.
Only the essential things or random nature of things – The world is random. May be the randomness is a part of God’s bigger schemes like destinies, but to us, it’s totally random and spontaneous. If we sit in a blue line bus, the FM could be playing ‘Munni badnaam hui’ or ‘Dil jalta hai to jalne de’ without depending upon your mood or interest. While walking on a road, you might encounter a thief being chased by a crowd, and who knows, the thief fires a bullet and it hits you leaving you dead on the spot. But in a movie, things need to be pieced together to form a tale without any distractions for the viewers to be engrossed. However, many directors do take care to include this randomness treating it as a must for creating the life-like semblance. Not everything needs to be symbolic. Yet things could be pitched together with help of a small narration or effects to suggest some sort of symbolism.
Keeping it crisp or letting it be organic growth – The hero’s friend might be required in a scene just to let out the emotions of hero. However, if the friend meets him, they would first ask each others’ well-being, probably have tea, and then the hero would narrate his broodings. If we leave out all of it, and keep just the main thing, it might look very superfluous, and steal what is called as ‘organic growth of an idea’. It might look like ‘throwing away information’. Another disadvantage which might prop up is the breakage of scenes quite before the audience could feel a part of any of it. This is something which I realized through getting irritated by a sense of mood discontinuity while watching ‘Don’ (of course the new one). On the other hand, including all of it would dilute the scene and take away the keen sight of the audience. Two best examples of dealing with it that spring into my mind are the scene from ‘band baaja baraat’ where the hero’s close friend comes to him; realizes on seeing his mellowed face that something is wrong, and asks him about it, and the scene in ‘The Last Lear’ where Amitabh Bachchan approaches Arjun Rampal to ask him for the permission of doing a stunt scene himself. We catch the action halfway on a neutral shot giving the notion that already much has been said, and now they are talking on the main point.   
Cliched or seemingly confused character shades – Every person has his virtues and faults. The ‘halo effect’ by which people group together certainly qualities, and imply another on seeing one of them, has been adjudged as a flaw in unbiased perception. A guy who respects his elders might still be a dishonest man. A bookworm could be a savourer of alcohol. A rich guy could be humble. A poor guy might be arrogant. Many guys from villages are rational, smart and soft-spoken. Showing the qualities not grouped together, as per halo effect, in a person might create a real character shade but which fails to draw strong sentiments of sympathy (for hero) or hatred (for villain) from the audience. Gabbar Singh, Mogambo, Geet (Jab we met) and Anil Kapoor in ‘Wo saat din’ are fine examples. However, keeping it this way might create clichéd characters which are more like paper puppets with no unique individuality of their own with all their actions and words defined, and fails to bring even a small tinge of freshness in the characters or the storyline (Reema Lagoo, Ajit, Alok Nath, the tall, lean guy with an angular face who plays inspector in almost every other old movie, hero’s friend, lately Akshay Kumar). On the other hand, be it the idiotic Scarlet from ‘Gone with the wind’ (as opposed to the ideal Melanie), John Nash in ‘A beautiful mind’, Dev in ‘DevD’, Norman in ‘Psycho’, Heathcliff in ‘Wuthering heights’, the hero being a corrupt inspector in ‘Dabang’, the greedy, materialistic yet affectionate brother Shahid plays in ‘Kaminey’ and the most recent – intelligent, smart protagonist who is so mean with his friend - Mark Zukerberg in ‘Social network’, there are several examples of characters breaking from stereotypes and becoming immortal on basis of their confused but true nature.
Only one or the various facets of life - Every person has various facets of his life. Happiness and sadness come in packages. A love-bitten heroine might have a friend sulking with her, or a brother troubled with his life and seeking support, or parents who love her a lot and spend time asking her about herself. Now, including all the facets might again snatch the tautness of the main thread. However, including everything would create a wonderful life-like semblance and a sense of depth in the situation. Wonderful examples are ‘A single man’, ‘Joggers park’ and ‘American Beauty’ which have woven the thread so neatly through all the facets that you feel to be a part of it.
The binding narrative or life and its strange ways – Neither all learning comes walking on a single road, nor a road gives only a single learning. Generally a movie’s major purpose is to induce into the audience one central idea. Dev realizes that he should be saner than that. Tees Maar Khan proves himself suitable for his acronym by looting the train and escaping, which anyone would have guessed from the very beginning. 3 idiots well suggest the pursuit of excellence instead of running after success. ‘Border’ tells the story of gallant soldiers fighting on border. In life, so many different realizations dawn on us any time, and that too after a series of this or that. Keeping one straight binding idea gels easily with the audience, since they have nothing to worry their minds with thinking. A new idea, when spoon-fed, sells. However, it might take away the possibility of twists, subtle conflicts and a true probing into the situation. An egregious example is ‘Into the wild’, where the binding force is not one dawning conclusion, rather the protagonist’s conflict, which grows into an organic manner so beautiful, that by the end of the movie, the conflict has transpired into you forcing you to think over it real hard. It stirs a hornet’s nest in your mind whether or not to be in this society. Some other such movies are ‘A beautiful mind’ which shows the surge for intelligence, the unfailing love of a wife and undying support of friends altogether in a frame which could well adorn the wall of your living-room. ‘Confessions of a dangerous mind’ is painted black and sinewy with the constant new revelations of the life of a television guy. ‘Saving Private Ryan’ projects itself to be true to the core by showing the exhaustive set of emotions of soldiers - those of fear, loneliness, their feelings of feeling futile in risking their lives to save one man, their inspiration and their courage, the binding force being the expedition itself undertaken to save private Ryan. ‘Offside’ by Jafar Panahi propagates the idea of women being discriminated, but doesn’t overlook any of the ideas encountered in the way like the security guard’s (a common man) unorthodox attitude, but having to stop the women from viewing the football match on the pretext of his duty, and his pitiable life.
A well-planned blend of both the elements surely makes for a great movie.
Good luck viewing.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Abstract meanings (poem)

Burn the dictionaries
They reek of ambiguity
Whenever I want definite answers

I am not talking of things
Things are themselves
Whatever one might call them
The words being just
A convenient reference.
If any confusion hovers,
I see, I hear, I smell
or taste and touch well
and once I know them,
I know what the word means
because it means them.

What actually puzzles me are
those things, oh not things
But whatever they are
In the creases of doors ajar
Love, friendship, Emotion
Life, Happiness, Ambition
Individuality, idealism, divinity,
Freedom, truth, meditation,
Ethics, desire, mystique and so on
Whatever I take them to be from here on
They turn out to be something else
My mouth has turned so sour. Like
Love is care, commitment, forgiveness
Then I discovered possession,
Space cringes, romance, cheating and pain
Life is beautiful and ugly
Some bright guys say it’s vain
By default; discover your meaning
That left the bishop constantly fretting
He said there was a purpose, God’s.
On Friendship, I read several quotes
Suggesting sharing, helping and affection
but it was tinted with envy
Doused in many a practical concern
Even truth was not absolute
It was relative and manipulative.
Happiness was the most evasive -
Being in the moment, love and care,
Pursuing your dream or crude pleasure
Serving humanity or spontaneity.

The grim mystics and the philosopher
Exhale clouds putting it all to subjectivity
Then when some schmuck
Comes with those airs of certainty
And talks of literal meaning
I wish I could fire him.

What meaning do I take,
Meanings mean these things
From which vagueness springs,
Rendering the meanings meaningless.
So much more in societies
which go on wandering aimless,
Although walking ahead -
Since we don’t walk backwards -
But in which direction, no clue they had
And they have stopped caring
Some routines they keep murmuring
And caution about not thinking much
That's why I speak such
That let's burn the dictionaries
Because they reek of ambiguity
Whenever I want definite answers.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Don't feel for you that way

Among friends, they say, there are no secrets. One could even give one's life for one's friend. That implies a lot of care and (platonic) love. Talking in terms of a girl and a guy - when one of them says that you are a very dear friend of mine, but I don't feel for you that way, what is it that they find missing.

What is that element of mystique in love and lovers, that they are so ambiguous about? Do they not know or don't want to say that what is it. Is love and care not enough to be lovers? Which is that 'that way'?

Were they talking implicitly about sex? That they don't feel sexually attracted to them. Oops, what did I say? I din't mean it "that way".