has jas any

It was during college, during one of those rainy months, when I open the “unwatched” folder to venture into that one film that didn’t instantly seem interesting, that I came across Sweet and Lowdown. It was about a fictional jazz guitarist, Emmet Ray, calling himself to be the second best guitarist, his eccentric ways. The film had the usual Woody Allen sentimentality in relationships along with Sean Penn’s one-tonal way of a jazz musician’s characteristic reminiscent of the coke-sniffing character he played in Carlito’s Way. But what stood out was the gypsy-jazz music of Django that had seemingly inspired Allen and of course, Emmet. I had quickly made a copy of Django’s list of songs, a remastered version of sorts and from then on, the songs have been transferred from PCs to hard discs to travel bags to USBs to mobile phones, but never deleted. It is this ear of jazz I was familiar with.

It’s hard to describe jazz (once you begin to have an ear for it) without sounding like an annoying white-saviour like Sebastian in La La Land.

I was reduced to describing a track to a friend yesterday as maddening, delightful and all the time fun. Perhaps, it’s this inbuilt energy to render (tedium like) words useless that makes jazz a bit more alive (there you go again!). But then words can sometimes be relentless boomerangs that keep hitting your face from directions you don’t remember to have set them free. Or in this case da ba dee ba doo bappaaaba dee ba doo bapaa – 

While watching La La Land, perhaps what mildly bothered me was that it wasn’t a black person playing the lead at the end. I found that it had much to say (rather Emma had much more to give) about Mia’s story, punctuated by richly creative “someone in the crowd” and “the fools who dream”. It was Mia who was consistent in sticking to her dream of telling stories, temporarily shook up, but never wavered. The scene outside the theatre after she realizes her play was a failure has enough say that this film is about her. Here’s where the suggestion of writing/enacting them becomes a way to seek creativity. Mia realizes her creative freedom by writing her own roles, but is (“waiting to be”) found via her acting on the stage. But later, the casting director calls out confidence on to her story telling. This inter-disciplinary and participative perspective of the creative process, (a larger story-telling process) from one-step behind, is what jazz inspires. Try listening (only listen) to Brazil (“Peche a la Mouche”) without bobbing your head. Django doesn’t want you listen without participation. A constant chance for one to be set entirely free to create. Perhaps her realisation seems to have come from Sebastian, but the entire career-conversation felt so casual that I felt Mia always knew what she wanted to do or perhaps Gosling never works for me, not more than a pretty Bollywood actress there to spit a few lines and be cutesy (seriously what’s up with Gosling’s hand-gestures, the way he holds a glass of water is unnecessarily exemplary).

Coming back to the black-rep, interestingly the black person who joins mid-way is the contemporary dialogue in the film, the innovator. In Hip-Hop’s context (Hip Hop Evolution), the West coast (LA) has always been innovative (Ice Cube & NWA, Dr. Dre) in their approach to music (or be anything) as compared to what originally began in an East coast basement. So perhaps it is more to do with LA, the place and it’s culture (Damien does suggest that from a whiny white jazz musician’s perspective, which was presumptuous) and it’s here where the reception of “The Messengers”  that I found mildly troubling, like Damien was giving a message. The irony, if he’d land up an Oscar in this heavily self-conscious #OscarSoWhite Oscars, is not so glaring since La La Land is The Messenger just posing as Seb’s. 

My favorite song in the film was “city of stars”. It was magic, being lost and found at the same time.

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Mango Pickle

I’ve read some amount of women literature and it seems to me that without myself realizing I may have already been 50% operating feminist. I may even like CNA.

However, I sense a half-doubt in the same hard-winning and impenetrable earnestness that’s part of CNA’s disposition in her infamous TED Talk. There is a displeasure I feel with the way she argues for the same subject (and it’s neither the intent/content that bothers me) that Zadie articulates with such zest and elegance. Maybe I’m a fan of fluid perceptive prose that encourages fictitious anecdotal evidence over CNA’s self-narrative evidence that characterizes people.

But I figure these are just different cuisine interpretations of the same dish. CNA’s more grounded, rooted and virginal approach bothers me because on the surface it appears closed to me. This could be my persistent expectation from people, educated or aimless, leader or follower, rich or poor, famous or stranger to accommodate the concept of dichotomy or opposing views whenever a discourse exists. CNA’s tone, however is so sure of herself that it quite terribly invites my skepticism. But this surety in itself is testimony to the solid conviction and enduring nature of her approach.

In many instances she reminds me of the 50 year old relationship specialist, Tracy McMillan, who got divorced thrice and now, teaches everyone to love themselves. At some overlapping instances, both seem to be “full of themselves”. In fact, in a heartfelt exposition of inner beauty, CNA smiles (just like Tracy) and quite literally asserts the importance and validity to be full of one-self. But again I wonder, whether this could be a curse of a leader, a person who has completely envisioned the world he/she wants and wills to live in.

Perhaps, it is this pardonable solipsism that feminism requires to take forward the prescient madness of Woolf into what could be the future normative for societies. After all what is insanity if not sanity that hasn’t ripened enough. Imagine mangoes.

However, I maybe in a pickle now about my feelings for CNA.

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Thumbtips & Digital Solipsis 

I’ve been told that writing facilitates, if not create, a strange shade of companionship when travelling alone, hence this diary was an effort of me trying to venture the same, but not one with a book and a pen, but just my phone.

The other day while crossing the road to catch a taxi that I had booked via an app, the reduced labour in hiring a taxi bothered me for a more uncommon reason. While the taxi apps may have successfully tried to marry supply & demand, the earlier process of “hailing for a taxi” has been compromised. Yes that moment of furiously waving at a taxi from afar only to realize that someone’s been seated at the back is rarer now as you have a taxi for sure to yourself. Has the variation in the act of doing things affected/related to the intention? A lot of taxies do get cancelled. I thought I’d type this out. This in turn took me to screen-writing. Nope, not the movie thing. But writing directly into the digital space invited by the ever-blinking cursor. Zadie’s critique on the intention behind the word (in her book Occasional Essays) might be related to the way one has been writing for ages. From the cave scribble to the velvet brush to the swift pen, our minds have been directed, herded or in general play, disciplined to write what we experience be communicated as colourfully and as painfully true as possible. However in spite of all the help that language can provide, we still find its instruments hollow. We use catalytic phrases “To put it correctly”, like as if we admit that the preceding effort was incorrect or in cases of extreme catharsis “I have no words..”, as now, I really don’t. These self-doubts are part of the process of writing. They are, aren’t they?

However the latest shift of the medium to the screen needs a desperate enquiry as to how this transition is made while we digitally help each other contour our communicative landscapes. The typewriters clink-clunk that was a rhythmic audible punctuation and the brass nib’s urgency on the paper that were small scratches of accomplishment are now replaced by our thumbtips whispering to the captive screen, better yet with a swype feature enabled by predictive text, this fearless, dabs of empowerment of the mind to the hand to the fingers to the fingertips to the screen has become a silent spectrum of powerful activity. From sport, to mirrors, to professional work and personal rooms, large matrices of social and personal spaces have become possible to create in tight places be it in a rickety bus, in the loo or a crowded airport. This modality of secret solitude has been easily promised to the screen generation. If your battery is low, you just need a charger. And with respect to writing, the earlier mentioned companionship has become an easily accessible one and an easier one to conjure.

But wisdom pleads that an easy companionship is a matter of convenient acquaintance, similar to the ready-made kindness mustered when asking directions to a stranger in a strange new town and not one that’s nourished with purposeful labour like that of the positioning of a writing table at the right corner in your study or the time taken to buy a new refill ink bottle at the right shop or the clip used for the canvas or grooming the pigeons that used to carry your messages or to put it bluntly sometimes even cursing yourself for forgetting to sharpen your pencils at an important a sentence. Almost all the effort has been transferred to our thumbs and an algorithm.

But to balance this dramatis ridicule, we must know there is a touch of failed seriousness to all this. We do cancel our taxies lightly. We must take what we put out there lightly because if treated otherwise we may be entering our own thriving digital solipsism.

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Silessence

Early last year in January, when thought accidents were occurring at rates with which I couldn’t keep up with, I met up with an old friend. At that time, I didn’t know I was in for a short jaunt into the edges of Western India. I rode on a camel for the first time. There was salt around everywhere. The sun was sinking itself into this wide bowl of salt that lay in front of us hiding Pakistan, just a giant scoop of Orange ice-cream melting hot, as we discussed the Operational differences between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on a football field. It was an argument consisting collective evidence regarding the broad differences between subjective being and objective doing as approaches to the sport. The idea originally took it’s obsessive toll on an off-kilter net-surfing moment on football when I had paused a muted video in which Messi had a football under his feet and I asked people to guess the direction he was going to steer it the next second. I couldn’t predict it the first time I watched. Quite tough as compared to a more straight forward, lean and efficient approach, that of Ronaldo. As Ronaldoes the Messier it becomes.

Of course, on a more sensible scale, one could ask, why would anyone try and predict the designs of the beautiful game? I presume such things, naturally occur to a species that primarily evolved and survived itself solely on its pattern-recognition ability and the deeper argument was why does detecting “how the process of goal-scoring” mattered versus the more objective result-oriented outlook of “how many goals were scored”. But clearly someone wasn’t getting laid enough or someone was battling with emotivism because of a stupid book. Almost accurately one of them is me. Please pause your judgement, like I did with the video.

Conversations weren’t as tedious just because we were sitting on salt because soon enough, the topic digressed into feminism for some reason. There should soon be a name for this digression among the likes of Godwin’s law. Also, feminism is a great subject to disagree on a lot of things as it thrives on disagreement and weirdly so, promotes it onto different subjects. On the car-ride to a nearby beach, after disagreeing a lot on diverse topics, we became silent pondering about how important pacing oneself is. Just like in a sprint, a sportsman or yes, music. This was of course, a borderline annexure to one of those pot-plots back at my place, the place were we left from, when we tried to logically de-construct the origins of language and after a few laughs (not much to disagree on, when you are high) quite quickly settled at a proposition that, the birth of the vowel preceded the consonant which led to the assembly of both as we gradually ran out of unique sounds that could be placed next to each other and that, we needed a quicker solution to keep up with the new additional things that occurred important enough to us to communicate to others and and that, there aren’t many differences between a song and a sentence but that of essence and and and that, the silences left between every “alphabet-phonetic” created a pronunciation (essential essence) which is no different from a song. In other words, songs are aesthetically designed sentences and silences help chisel the medium fundamentally. A boring ancestor would’ve preferred adding the sound of consecutive ands instead of the elegant comma’s hiccup. In daily life though, when two people are communicating, they often forget to paint those silences. Among today’s clutter on the screen-generation, in the ever-thickening attention-time continuum, meanings are often warped. To be precise, silences help clean a conversation and attain clarity consistently. Imagine a windscreen wiper when it’s raining. There was nothing revelatory in all this, but yet, it was a long time since we hadn’t Google-d anything and proofread our own existence with only thought and pot.

Earlier in the morning before we reached the salt bowl, we had stopped at a tea stall near the railway station at 4 am for a smoke and a cup of chai. The stall was manned by a 17 year old Saddam Khan whose dreams, we tried to encapsulate into a memory with the help of whatever little light our smartphones could spit at that moment. However, Saddam spat a lot. He was born last after his 7 siblings and all his hard-work to run his enterprise went unnoticed by a father who was punctual in skimming money from it. Saddam kept pointing a finger up the sky, indicating that there’s someone watching us all from above and whatever’s due will come and he will work even harder, earning more money, investing it back in his tea stall , remodel it into a canteen and further expand it into a hotel.

We listened in silence as Saddam grew visibly confident with his dreams. He stopped pointing his fingers up the sky. As we left, he grew silent. This silence was content and it was getting fat. We had to politely bid adieu to Saddam leaving the chairs we sat on, empty.

Most of it makes and has no sense, but there is definite essence because of all the silence.

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Mandatory

I thought I shouldn’t begin the new year with a rant, but what the hell, it helps sometimes.

I’ve figured what the problem is/was (Yes, I’ve finally graduated. I now have a PGDM and my convocation is done too, this post was sleeping in drafts from early this year) at college. My college life. It’s just too much of it. I’ve had it. I’m done with it.

I’m done with all the hostel life one can cherish for four hundred and sixty lives yet to strike this planet, click pictures of food and upload it up on instagram, build a start-up, become rich, write a book and the many more thousand and eight expectations that can be set by any conglomerate education system and motivated by a proud family. Especially if you are a PG it’s like “oh dude, just enough of this already” *cries*

I’m done with all the mindless drinking through endless nights, talking mindless and endless shit with the worst part being, having to put up with all that mindless shit, and clean all the shit (Lays american cream onion chips packets and half-opened and half-attended aloo bhujia ones because let’s face it, no one can eat just one) that gets littered around mindlessly, the next day. Enough.

In many ways, if you have been a hostel being, things don’t change much from UG to PG. There are the same premature beards vomiting premature thoughts with premature bravado, only difference in PG being the overgrown beards (manly things) vomiting overgrown thoughts (ego) coming out with overdone (excessive learning and rationalization begins) bravado. It’s like  until we permanently turn silent, we never learn the importance of silence.

We want to recreate experiences, the same people who we made friends by addressing them as sister/mother fuckers, the same visualization in winamp, the same South Park joke, the same old Akshay Kumar song we cherish because we listened to it when pappa and mamma took us to Shimla (because, you know, we need to keep reminding ourselves that we are Indians, especially when we are drunk- we drink responsibly) and the same Led Zeppelin song when you are hopelessly slurring and somehow the purpose of drinking is to make sure you keep establishing the fact that you are never, ever, god-Sachin forbid drunk, yes, but sooner or later you get to know the act behind all of it. During the initial months of UG, there is this Spring Breakers moment (watch the film, its hilarious in more ways than one) which makes you think oh this is where we were supposed to find ourselves or some crap? Well, guess what, things don’t stay poetic any more.

Dudes just start getting weirder and weirder. Everyone has got to do their drinking bit, talking loud and talking out of their ass.People are just the fucking same and we all end up trying to act nice about it. You know, the marriage-hungry women in rom-coms keep coyly saying, “men are funny, aren’t they?” whenever someone acts like a doofus?, nope, it isn’t. It’s not funny when 85% of conversations don’t sustain without a Honey Singh song in the background punctuated by Sunny Leone’s tits suffocating in something very unhealthily tight on a cum-stained Lenovo screen and believe it or not, I’m supposed to be genuinely interested if not entertained in such subject matters (without focussing on the cum-stain, because hey, that’s how cool we are bro) to be rechristened daily as a boy-man/man-boy. Yes, we boys need reaffirmation everyday, in some 5-6 inch measure at least and if you resist to involve yourself in those matters with a perspective/opinion/taste you are first thought of as a kill joy, then a sophisticated punkster who just isn’t desi enough (yes, that’s a crime) and then finally a faker/wanker (not necessarily in that order).

I feel 722 years old and all the unsaid, unassailable and untarnished rancour has begun to creep and stand taller than ever in front of me, limiting my self into an ever-diminishing dot. There is no personality any more. No act. I totally dig Imitiaz Ali for saying, “I’ve always been interested in women. I find them/expect them to be more intelligent”. I get that. Ofc, expectationsaresubjecttosubjectsrisks.

Escape.

I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while. How do you reason with people who only believe in dichotomy? See, for example, there only two kinds of people, the ones who believe in dichotomy and the ones who don’t and of course this is an endless argument because the latter kind wouldn’t agree there are only two ways to go about it and also if you see where am heading with this you’d also agree with me there is only a certain extent to which we can question the things that are the actual question, i.e., a scope to philosophize and just when I think this is all mad, Mr. Context comes grappling at me saying, wtf man, where’s your head at, when I’m there. I’m always there. Always stick to me. Stick to a context, if not many and bear the logic.

yeah? well, fuck logic.

Carax’s Holy Motors

<Don’t read if you haven’t watched the film>

Yes, Holy Motors is inexplicable.

It can go both ways or any way for that matter (like the extent of its character’s tiresome practises to conjure up something holy for its audience to get entranced) and yes, it’s avant-garde.

But the “beauty of the act”, as reasoned by one of it’s actors for not giving up yet, (who is also a multi-purpose protagonist in the film) helps all the stories to be crafted into an entertaining phantasmagoria, that it is hard to dismiss it’s unconventional method with an uninterested eye. After all, the beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, heh. One of those films that opens an endless debate.

Carax

A film about film as made obvious to it’s proud French New Wave roots (casting Edith Scob and Michel Piccoli) and several questions about the medium itself (although he sensitively opposes that very idea here), Carax’s Holy Motors is a provocative story about a man who has many lives in a film that manages to create it’s own strange fictional world. Carax uses his actor(s) in a way to encapsulate moments from familiar stories, (stories/”appointments” that are strange, beautiful, unrequited, painful, deceitful and familial) that emanate from the screen to engage audience who wish to lose themselves in that moment (read: who don’t fuss about context/thickening the plot). In this repeated exercise it is suggestive that this actor gets tired of these appointments (a deeply contemplating Oscar stands tentatively outside his house’s door before his last appointment for the day) i.e., these human moments that we as actors stage upon ourselves (only difference being) in the absence of any cameras. Surreal, isn’t it? Or a wee bit confusing probably.

In fact, the snippets of stories in the film, as disconnected as they may seem, becomes (only obvious) one, that by the end we tend to relate them, for example, From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the shadowy life of Monsieur Oscar..” says IMDB.  Ah, how easy we would like things to be? But such readings have shortcomings that leave you far from what the film aspires to be.

But the real high point (for myself of-course) of Holy Motors is how it doesn’t try to get sentimental about the medium through which it is mediating (i.e., no standard plot, character sketches, etc.) and yet manages to engage the viewer. Ruthlessly unapologetic. Several instances the film acts like a suggestive  roman à clef from Carax like how he feels about the changing ways with which films are being made these days. In fact, the first scene is Carax waking up from his restless sleep in a dreary room to see what is going in films these days resonates with him trying hard to make this film from the 13 year break since Pola X as told by himself in every uncomfortable Q&A session he had to attend-

– A lingering sense of worry exists till the end and it seems heavy-hearted. Be it an old woman walking alone with confused discomfort in a busy street. Even the limousine cars have lives that they are worried to be replaced but goes about praying “Amen” in the end. Even a dying character after completing an “appointment” with high emotion, gets up and leaves unruffled but not before kindly asking the “real” name of it’s character’s nephew Lea (only to be joined with Kylie Minogue later for an unrequited love song). Probably films are an episodic appointment where we come for therapy to revive ourselves (?)- The audience seemed lost in the first few scenes.

Carax is strangely naughty when he is asking such doubts. There is a literal scene when Michel Piccoli questions Denis Lavant (who is named Oscar, which is actually Carax’s name in real) “Isn’t this nostalgia (about the size of cameras to believe in the medium) a bit too sentimental?” (This shot specifically, as many other shots in the film, is shot from inside a tight limousine corner by what could possibly be a camera whose size could only be lesser than that of a human head). Piccoli goes on to interject the film with a daunting morbidity about film being a surreal paradigm “Thugs don’t need to see the security cameras to believe in them” and raising a horrific doubt to the medium- what if there is no beholder to get mused by the beauty of the act? In simple words, are we living a film in which we just can’t possibly see the camera? Just possible isn’t it? Absolute.

The final song by Gerard Manset, “Revivre” sums up this feeling to the best.

{http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oq0OxtM93mk}