Monday, May 23, 2005

Bomb blasts in Delhi

Bomb blasts in theatres in Delhi Theatres over the movie 'Jo Bole So Nihaal'.


A movie is made that is offensive to your community. You therefore bomb theatres that will most definitely not have anyone associated with the film there. So a few inncocent people get injured and some probably die and what...you've proved your point?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Parenting

It's true what they say, 'Having a piano doesn't make you any more of a pianist than having a child makes you a parent.'

A lot of people, especially in today's ambitious times, tend to bite off more than they can chew. This could be in areas of their work, or marriage, or investment, or religion, maybe. Sometimes that works and sometimes that fails. But the one area one shouldn't be taking chances is with a child. There are way too many instances where children grow up in an environment feeling unwanted. I have seen mothers yell at their three-year old girls to get out of their ways. I've seen fathers snap when children ask to be taken to the bathroom during a movie.

Well, to all those parents - there was a time when you could be selfish and that time is over. Sure, life is not the same after a child and it wasn't meant to remain that way. The whole point about good parenting is not that it recognizes taking care of children is a big responsibility, but that it doesn't smear the child's face in the forced martyrdom that parenting has come to be associated with nowadays. (Yes, long sentences mean I rant.)

Yes, so you had to give up your dead-end job that you thought was going to take you places. Yes, you don't sleep as much and you don't go out as much and your vacuous friends don't keep dropping by so often. But then, deal with it - in your own head
without berating an innocent child who wouldn't have chosen you for parents had he or she had the chance.

Parents keep focusing so much on the fact that they've had the baby that they forget that the baby has them - and the latter is the more sombre aspect of this whole deal. Some growing up is definitely in order - but for the baby, that's natural; for the parents, it's imperative.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

And the difference is...?

I have a friend who is looking for a girl to marry. Encounters should begin with a date and culminate in a marriage. He makes no allowances for any other possibility. First Date, then marriage (the casing of the two events represent the tone in which he talks of both) - natural, inevitable progression. If it does not work out that way, then it only means that the boy and girl were not right for each other. As he puts it, in his inebriated Goan accent (a achievement of some sort because he isn't Goan and never inebriated), 'the people must be correct.'

Did I mention he was a friend? This is despite the fact that he is extremely picky and generally a pain in the tooth (I have not known greater pain than that.) He will send back coffee if the whipped cream touches the rim of the cup. The cream must must be delicately balanced in the centre of the coffee like an extravagant bouffant. Or else, it's not worth having. (We
don't go to Barista or CCDs much, you can imagine.)

Okay, by virtue of the fact that he is particular and also by virtue of the fact that I'm a girl, he has asked me to hook him up with someone. (Because single girls always know of other single girls who are looking to get married.) She must be 'hot' OR she must be 'sexy.' There is, he explained to me, a considerable difference between the two attributes. Here's what he had
to tell me. 'Say, a girl walks into a room and you want her to stay...she's hot. But let's say this girl walks in and you want her to leave so that you can follow her...she's sexy.' I can't say that I understood completely; in fact, it would be safe to say that I didn't understand at all. But I decided to give it a try.

So, as we were having our second cup of hazelnut latte, I looked out the cafe's dirty picture window and saw a girl getting out of a car. She was slim, tall without clunky heels and had silky hair that was highlighted with tasteful streaks of aubergine. No crass body piercings, no shimmer on her perfectly tanned skin...she was chic and classy and definitely hot! I mean, sexy...i mean...well...one of the two.

As she walked in the door, I pointed her out to my friend who was considering the gustatory ramifications of rim-touching whipped cream. He turned around, looked her over, and shrugged his shoulders. 'So, is she hot? Or is she sexy?', I asked.

'Neither', he replied, but later conceded, 'But she's cool..'

The girl took her coffee cloaked in quiet elegance.

A few minutes later, the chic gamine creature rushed in again. She had forgotten her book at the counter (a book! I was impressed. Usually one expects this breed to leave behind a packet of cigarettes or a mobile.) Her face was flushed a little bit - a soft hue of dusty rose, her dark eyes searching the counter, and on finding her book, she smiled an elfin, open smile.

At that moment, my friend happened to be turn back. He saw her, turned to me, and said, 'Check her out! She's hot!'

This time, I shrugged.

Not 'hot', not 'sexy', my friend.....just good old fashioned 'beautiful'. That's what she was.

Friday, May 13, 2005

We thought he'd play

I had read somewhere that if Shakespeare lived in today's times, he would never have written Hamlet. He would still be promoting Romeo and Juliet. This notion became clearer when I went to watch Joe Satriani at Planet M last evening with a couple of colleagues from office.

Truth be told, I had not heard of Joe Satriani before a colleague of mine, (I'll call him A since I haven't asked him if he'd like to be written about on my blog) rhapsodized over how great a guitarist Joe Satriani was. He could make the guitar come alive and play chords that shifted the centre of your soul, etc. etc. Both attributes, to a non-musical person like myself, seem wholly undesirable but then I don't know any better.

So I got curious. Apparently, this musician is a rather big deal because his biggest influence is Jimmy Hendrix and has been the teacher of other musicians such as Steve Vai. So, basically he has learnt from the best and the best have learnt from him. A sort of musical Socrates - Plato - Aristotle triangle going on here. Then I met several other people who learnt their guitars after listening to Satriani. This man had obviously shaped and solidified the aspirations of many many people. Therefore I went.

There were, umm, some people - in terms of numbers, I've seen a larger crowd at a Planet M sale. Several knew of him, several were just there hanging around because seeing a rock star is a really big deal, and very few people, like the people I'd gone with, really really knew about Satch's (by the way, this is what he's called) craft.

And Satriani didn't play...at all. He spoke, giving inane answers to assinine questions, 'How do you find India?', 'What do you think about Mumbai?', 'What's the best part about performing live?', etc. etc.

Oof! I'm not even a fan of the guy, but shouldn't a musician be playing music instead of holding a mike spouting platitudes? Okay, okay, so he'll be playing at the concert that one needs to pay for. But come on! A few chords wouldn't have hurt, would it? I mean, it was like little children being let down by Santa.

After all, what connection did these people who held up their guitars like pseudo-musician warriors have with the person on stage they kept referring to as 'god', 'Guru', etc. etc.? It was music. And yesterday, at Planet M, a musician did not play any music. By doing that I think he refused to acknowledge that connection that had brought all these people together. Okay,
it may not have been his idea but, and this is a big but, how can an artist possibly turn away from the patrons of his art?


I dont know about music or about this particular musician, but I know disappointment when I see it. And well..there were several disappointed people there. A was considerably let down and was not appeased at the explanation that this was only a promotional gimmick. He, very
woundedly replied, "Satriani doesn't need promotional gimmicks."


Well, as I'd read somewhere else, 'If commerce is the dog, art is the tail..and the tail never wags the dog.'

Joe Satriani plays today in Mumbai - Friday the thirteenth. The coincidence, I think, is fitting.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Age

I saw a movie the other day, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. Translated in English, it means ‘A thousand desires such as this.’ I think the significance of the title can best be understood in terms of the backdrop the love story is set against, rather than the main plot. The backdrop is a post-independent India that is trying to find its version of democracy between 1969 –to late 1970s. And the post-independent India that is trying to do that is the educated, urban, affluent youth. This is the youth that seems to be afflicted with ideals and very knowledgably so. They know about Tilak and Rousseau, and Cuba and pot, and willing to take on the ground realities right where they arise, which refreshingly is not the coffee table. This movie is the story of 3 people who grew up in these times, and loved, lost and desired…a thousand things.

When I watch movies or read books or hear stories that are set in a particular period, I naturally think about the age I live in. I suppose its because time is a continuum. The times that we are living in now were conceived in some other age. Therefore the past can never really be very distant. As I watched ‘Hazaaron…’, I wondered if there is a collective gripe that my ‘age’ shares. Sure, we think about money, we think about direction, we think about where we’re headed, but I feel that the scope is still individual. I think if anything, my age can be characterized by a lot of individuals and their issues. There may be a consciousness that is common, but I don’t think it is common enough to be collective. If a movie such as this is based on my times, I wonder what the backdrop would be.

Getting back to the film: there are two men who love one woman. One of the men, Siddharth, is the son of a respected judge who decides to change India. The other one, Vikram, comes from a lower economic strata. He decides to stick on in the system that is battered and corrupt, and use it to serve his purpose. The woman, Gita, first experiments with a conventional life, gets married to an IAS officer or someone as acceptable in society then, and later chooses to follow Siddharth, her lover, in his mission.

So, there you have it - two people who decide to opt out of a system they don’t believe in and another one who stays in the system simply because he knows he can use it to get rich and perhaps powerful later. You’d look at Vikram as the black sheep of the group – as the guy who sold out.

In fact, there is a scene when all three get together by a river and Vikram makes a joke about peasant unrest. Siddharth being the intense idealistic outlaw doesn’t take too kindly to this and gets up to leave. Gita is also suitably offended. Vikram, simple, superficial Vikram, appeases them and naively proposes a toast to the peasant uprising. Gita and Siddharth don’t join in and Vikram sits shamefaced with the bottle in his hand. (there’s mirth and laughter the very next minute but that’s not the point.)

So you have two people with very noble ideals looking down upon a man with very pedestrian ones. Vikram doesn’t have an ideological commitment and doesn’t think much of those who do. But to make a couple of pals happy, he raises a toast to the principle they live by. Sure, it’s not deep but it’s genuine.

Then there are these twists and turns in the movie where Vikram is called on to help Siddharth and Gita…and he does, because he loves Gita, always has. In the process, he loses out on so much that it’s heartbreaking. Siddharth decides to leave the country after he’s had enough and Gita, who embraced an ideology initially because of her lover, goes back to the village to continue changing India. The mantle of the idealist has passed on. By that time, Vikram is mentally ill but even in that state, there is still one thing he is certain of – that he loves Gita.

This is a very simplistic gleaning of the movie’s message; you really need to watch it to hear what it tells you, but it got me thinking on several things.

The first is that some of us are so superficial – the people who arrogate themselves to believe that just because they are ‘deep’ they can look down on those who aren’t. Siddharth was deep. You admire him, you fall for him, you follow him wherever he goes striding confidently. Then he changes tracks and with equal depth, his dark eyes would gaze into yours while he leaves your hand and tells you that he’s going away. This guy would look down on someone like Vikram. We all would – he is the street smart maverick who can’t be bothered with principles. But Vikram stuck around for love. He always knew he’d do that, and that’s what he always did.

Then there are people like Gita, who move from one person to another like an empty vessel waiting to shaped by their imprints. Then one day, they come into their own..they say their goodbyes and move in the direction they first followed and later chose.

I don’t mean to look down on any of them but I know that I am. The paradox is that I look down on Gita and Siddharth because they looked down on Vikram. And I wonder what gave them the right to do that. After all, he didn’t alter the course of his path, he didn’t waver from the one ideal he had – love for Gita, yet in the course of the time they all spent together, he was the target of upturned noses and high-brow sophistry.

Then the next thing that struck me is that at a personal level, one can be so shielded from massiveness. There’s a line in the preface of Eric Segal’s The Class that sums this up. (I don’t remember verbatim, but it’s along these lines) ‘We lived in an age when sex came in a packet, when freedom came in a matchbox, when psychology was all in the mind...what we did not know was that we were a generation.’ I too do not know what it means to be a generation.

I suppose if a movie is made 20 years hence, the backdrop of the film could be this disconnect; this world where there were a lot of individuals with a consciousness that was common but not collective. This disconnect would perhaps be, as Nicholas Sparks put it in This is the Schoolroom, the indictment of our age.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Still there

An evening sometimes feels
Like grainy coarse sand,
It slips away just as gently
From an unwilling open hand.

Eternity seems like an unlikely place
For memories to dwell
They roll away slowly
Like dew drops on a shell.

Haunting and mysterious,
Are the colour's sounds,
In the strokes and swirls of art,
Symphonies can be found.

Motes of dust and floating feathers
And pollen and fizzled flames
Flimsy and whimsical and solid and there...
A dying day's remains.