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.

Those hours.

This Valentine’s day my uncle (periappa-mom’s side) passed away.

It is coincidental that while I was reading the lyrics of (while listening to) Meshuggah‘s Dancers to a Discordant System , he took his last three breaths. Three long, sweaty breaths before he passed away in bed with my periamma at his side with a teaspoon of Gelusil in her hand and a face full of utter confusion. Futile.

My six hours from Trichy to Pondicherry was made bearable only by Hosseini’s Mariam in Thousand Splendid Suns. Time seemed to flow as smooth as a fresh tear on her cheek. It was almost as if the news hadn’t hit me. But thinking about it , I questioned on whether what I should feel. Sad? Broke ? Shocked? I thought maybe if I reach the house I could muster things inside to respond. A cheek flex maybe. But no. Nothing happened.

I reached at the street filled with plastic chairs and the samiyana spread on top. I remember how much I paid the auto guy. Rs. 60. I remember walking into the house filled with relatives looking urgently at me , like they all were waiting for some sort of distraction. All those swollen eyes glared at me. But after a second they seemed to look astray. Were they telling something to me ? Then, I looked at her. She was sitting there almost not existing , though people around her were chanting her name , wailing at a loss they could not even begin to understand, claiming God’s explanation at a disaster they were not even part of and crying rivers for something they could not even feel. She on the other hand, her eyes  shut open. Omnipresent in a social gathering where usually she would’ve been the life and centre.

I remember this and I also remember this has happened to me before . 5 years ago , another uncle (chithappa-dad’s side) of mine passed away due to acute diabetes , again young age. I remember myself feeling nauseated and had dried up my throat . I remember my eyes getting wet and not able to see clearly . I remember I felt. What happened in between these years can be justified in variety. But the face of death can change a person. (2 years ago, a close friend of mine had died). It is only fair that witnessing it affects.

Now this time I could see but not really feel . I could actually say I vicariously felt more when I was on the way to her house, but arriving there seemed unreal. I remember seeing women crying by the call of a second and for a span of hours. He had 5 brothers . Every single one of them cried. Then, then an interesting thing happened. People whom I see like once a year, the pseudo relatives all seemed to gear up for a mourning contest. Invisible to the clothed eye. A cry-o-meter was used by all these visiting aunties to detect the emotionless visitors and scorn at from inside. After the body was taken to the crematorium (where I also went, with his son heading the faction) People around kept changing , gossips replaced cries on day two, banana leaves were spread where an ice box was before, water sprinkled and hot food was served to make grief replace hunger and suddenly all of a sudden a person was forgotten.  And she . She had her eyes shut open. It was like she was in a soundproof room singing the most beautiful elegy the world is yet to hear and the world seemed to be outside the room shouting for her to emote more visibly.

I remember her lacking the strength to cry. More correctly put, I remember her will not to cry. I remember her wail incoherently in gibberish when his body was taken. I remember her getting shy when he used to mock her . I remember her sudden living at those hours of silence. I remember the evenings they used to spend together during my conventional visits (well, who was I kidding, I’m a pseudo relative too?) , talking and pulling each other’s legs like second-grade children. I remember her not willing to let go of him when he was being taken away.

My periamma is an amazing cook. She can make delicious food for hundreds in the quickest time possible.

But in those hours her life was shut open.

Faces of Fear.

via-clapsandboos

Half a century ago, a British film was released just a few months before the famous Psycho. It was called Peeping Tom.

It rarely peeped into anything after that. This movie is considered to be both Powell’s beginning and end to finding himself in cinema wizardry.

This is why.

Sadly ,this movie is so ahead of its time and sense that it got severely boo-ed from the theatres and into sickening dark corners of movie libraries ,where , Psycho was in the limelight and frequently borrowed for aesthetic references.

Powell subsided himself from creating anything drastic after that. It is no doubt that Psycho was a cinematic genius.

But it gets interesting when it is known that Scorsese was one of the well known,very few admirers of Powell’s work.

The early 60s paved way to great asthetic knowledge of lights and montage cinema from both Hitchcock and Powell.

Peeping Tom was reacted with such disgust since it suggested looking rather than mere watching/seeing.

Scopophilic Macabre Voyeurism.

Peeping Tom.

Mark Lewis is a shy photographer who is working to become a director some day. But as a hobby he takes pictures of hookers on top of an agent store, which sell these pictures to people for penis pleasure.

One day in his own house,he meets Helen who lives downstairs (he lets out rooms)with her mom on her 21st birthday and she nearly meets him, his heart and his deranged mind.

Mark’s dad (played by Powell) was a brilliant man.

A scientist who studied the faces of fear.

He was amidst a study of the nervous system and its stimuli for fear.He used his own son as a subject and recorded his reactions for shocks.. Such as waking him up from sleep by flasing light on him, throwing a lizard on bed etc.

Mark’s childhood miseries were recorded and voyeured to every minute sensory detail. But he is soon obssessed with the camera ,his dad gift’s him.

Its an inane part of him now.

A tool to help him continue what his dad had seen and studied.

He studies the faces of fear by killing people while simultaneously recording their faces . (He has a knife/sharp-end arrangement at the foot of his tripod)

Powell achieved intangibilty by making the audience see what he saw and this is real psyche study he has done.

Mark Lewis and Helen.

It was groundbreaking and literally made people sick not for his implied murder scenes, but making the audience enter Mark’s head and vision. Implying horror might be easy , but implying the audience into a part of a sick voyeur is ingenius.

There is a scene where Helen sees what Mark has been doing . For all this while, the camera which had been telling us a story via the screen in Mark’s room ,turns a complete curve and fetches the face of the horrorstruck Helen. We are/become Mark for that instant and witness pure horror.

The movie crosses the boundary of aesthetic rules ,and mere implications and suggestions have become a brute reality.

Peeping Tom achieves the unachievable.

Mark’s dark screening room where he sits and watches his movies is similar to the dark theatre where we sit and watch.

Films are repeated acts of perspective shifts .

Theater is the dark place where we voyuer on the people we see, we hear and listen .

We are quiet while we witness it.

Now ,even though all this was not recognised in his time ,it was repeatedly and passionately tried to revive by Scorsese.

He remastered and re-released some of Powell’s earlier lost works. Scorsese’s editor Thelma Schoonmaker (won 3 oscars) who later fell in love with him and his work , was married to him till his death.

Scorsese was/is also one of those who believe that film-making is a violent practice and that photographing someone is like taking a part of that someone’s soul.

That is why ,he makes movies as though his life depends on it. In his commentary in Goodfellas Blue ray , Thelma Schoonmaker the editor says that Marty used to worry so much about each and every thing that he rarely used to sleep.

Both in Roger Ebert’s book about Scorsese and in James Lipton’s guest in the show Inside the Actor’s Studio, he was questioned about his deep involvements in his projects physically , mentally and psychologically and Scorsese was seen quietly nodding with guilty acceptance.

This is where Peeping Tom transcends in to more than just film

No wonder why his movies release such energy. and Michael Powell was his infamous idol.

So if anyone is interested in how he managed to paint the roads of the Taxi Driver or from where he learnt his lighting tricks in Mean Streets,

Peeping Tom is your source.

“Whatever I photograph, I always lose.”

Uncertain waters.

Why does the Graduate make sense even after so many films made after it?
Why does it cringe you to accept its one of the best films ever made?
Why does it baffle you, everytime you see it?
You got to see it for youself .
It is such a perfect imperfect movie that it reminds you of how uncertainity can cloud the brightest times .
Benjamin Braddock is a character lived through centuries .
He ,has graduated in a respected family ,has been force-willed into doing almost anything, say here, to perform ‘daring feats’ in a scuba diving gear under 6ft in a swimming pool on his birthday in front of a crowd.
He is celebrated.
He despises it and by default has gotten , a worry.
A worry about the future he says to everyone he meets.
He dislikes to be centered and the claustrophobic camera in the family party seems to be tense and eager to get a bit of Benji.
The film sets stage for the young meat ,identified through the ‘funny feelings’ of the prey, swallowed with a drunken elegance by predating cougars,who make a subtle sticky irresistable web.

Benjamin Braddock and Mrs.Robinson.

He is soon smoothly pulled into a seduction (which has been talked about for the past forty-three years )set by Mrs. Robinson ,wife of his dad’s closest friend and business partner .
Anne Bancroft was 36 ( Hoffman 30) when she did the role but somehow she takes the effort in extending the gap, through her removing-earrings bit which was a celebrated cult in TV.
Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft.
Benjamin Braddock was/is in no doubt in doubt.
He wanted to do and not to be told what to do.
He wanted to grab the future of his age and wanted it to be different.
He leaps for it , he comes through choices but is slapped by uncertainity.
Symbolisms,
When he opens the door for a group of old exiting the Taft Hotel , he sees a group of the young entering at the same time.
He hears the sound of silence as how the fishes inside the aquarium hear.
He often plunges into deep waters in his swimming pool , into a peaceful isolation.
People watch the fishes , but rarely can they hear them.
Their cries for suicidal freedom.
He says,“I am 20 , I’ll be 21 next week” and Mr.Robinson reminisces and replies,“Thats a helluva good age to be.”
Weirdly it this crux, the film transcends to explore.
There is a scene where Benjamin asks Mrs.Robinson to make a conversation and after an useless rebuttle he figures he still got to be in the uncertain waters.
He says , “Lets just not talk anymore” and undresses.
It is the uncertain phase that the film concentrates and that has what made the film an unforgettable one.
Things change when Benjamin meets Elaine, Mrs.Robinson’s daughter.
Mrs.Robinson asks him not to take her out, so Benjamin now, has to take her out.
She tries to straddle him with fake threats of announcing the affair out-loud to make him stop meeting her daughter.
This not only angers Benjamin but just clears his reason to do what he wanted.
He falls for Elaine all of a sudden.
Falling into an illusion of farewell-hope mixed with innocent deadly love.
He wants to be normal, not to have an affair with a person twice his age.
He feels free.
He announces to his parents, “Iam going to marry Elaine Robinson.”
He himself is not sure of what he said and what he meant.
A beautiful textbook reads out loud, during the second act, where a romantic comedy unfolds with a touch of the 60s realism intervening and supporting each scene.
Allthough , what surprises me the most is how it was edited, that it would be a cult for all the hundreds/thousands of romantic movies that would come and entice you with their romantic humour , those dual dialogues and the heroine’s inevitable kiss before she leaves a lovestruck hero.
Katharine Ross as Elaine is a fellow fish in the sea, confused and dazzled at Benjamin.
A fellow ,default-rebel .
At the climax,she turns at her parents ,who curse at Benjamin when he interferes with her wedding and that is all what she needed.
She decided ,she is going to run.
Ben and Elaine.
She is going to marry Benjamin and not the make-out king.
More importantly to her was ,she is not going to do what her parents told.
The question of purpose has been eluded and the answer to her rebellion peers , celebrated.
An illusionary , senseless freedom.
The film is being worshipped and you would have no purpose in watching the latest romantic , 500 Days of Summer, not because it has loud connections with the Graduate , but because the twist in the movie was answered by the film itself without being explained.
Such is the gravity of the Graduate.
And the Climactic build was least said , a song.
It had Hoffman yawning into a clear uncertainity, again.
The people in the bus, they got on ,stare at them , like the audience .
Are they gonna make it in the future?
Is it Happily ever after?
Music , a major reason that made the film reach the cult, I would say.
Later on , Wes Anderson was one of the many celebrated artists, who romanticised/inspired it in many of their movies.
But the Graduate is still one of a kind .

“How are you Benjamin?”

“Am fine , thank you , Mrs.Robinson.”

Visit. (Beware of senti-shit)

It has been quite difficult for me to blog ,with my laptop given away for service.
Hp , battery fail within a year.
What ya expect?
Anyways I’ve always wanted to rant about this play of frequent occurence in any Indian/any sane,sober orthodox societal country , “The Visit”.
The Visit is often casted by precariously curious aunties, whom you might have randomly been introduced during a marriage somewhere sometime with often big eyes (or they make it look big).
Jabber Devils they are , with new leather handbags swaying away to glory for attention ,supported by the headlines of the new dearest gossip filling the air and ears of the lady host.
This is often punctuated by the big , short uncles with bountiful bellies just enough to make their presence felt in a comparitively small hall once they arrive along with their sense of humour which is by the way unquestionable because of their self-ignited laughter which goes on about a minute interrupted only by an occasional fart stressed for a long time and this creates more humour as if there is something missing already.
Gastric problem , they claim and start laughing again.
These are just the post-food entertainment guys.
Let me bullet it out.
The Attendance.
Greetings by the stench of an arbit Arabian perfume (NRI relatives) pulls you out of your room and just when you are about to say WTF?!! , you are compelled (or rather forced) to silently smile back at their already beaming white faces.
The attendance in this play , instead of raising hands in a classroom , is either a firm handshake (for uncles) or the widest smile you can stretch (for aunties) to make your presence felt. You better make the attendance exact otherwise you will be  filed with a complaint of concern from the lady visitor to her respective counterpart.
If the Visitors are accompanied by Children you are in for some shit my friend.
This Kid is the real deal .
He is the only entertainment factor in this play.
They start searching toys not to play with but to throw .
Sometimes a slipper comes flying across if he/she is angry due to lack of attention or an apple on the table to aim at his/her own mother or better sometimes a host member.
The attendance for the kid is quite normal.
You just need to ask him which grade he/she is in .
This is usually reciprocated with the kid just not replying and running off to grab the nearest familiar leg ,meanwhile ,you must continue smiling and make remarks romanticising the baby’s cuteness , eyes so on and so forth.
In some cases the kid might just utter gibberish and ask what are the videogames you’ve been playin.
Then you are supposed to escort him to the laptop/pc which at that exact moment might be decorated with a sexy Scarlett Johansson flaunting her curves.
Shut it!
The kid starts crying and you are left fumbling with the fucking keypad.
Even better if the kid is smart, it won’t cry ,it will just stand there staring at your stupid face or in some weird cases at Scarlett Johansson.
The visitor aunties come to the rescue and then start questioning on your future and fortune.
What are you planning to become?
MBA, Ph.D or GR-fucking-E ?
and when you start talking she keeps staring at you lost in something else.
suddenly she breaks conversation and turns to the host mother “He looks so much like you.. “.
That is when you realise you are just a character in this play.
In this beautifully set-up ,brilliantly performed orchestra of human actions and expressions.
I am in awe.
The purpose of a visit is never important in “The Visit”.
It is a gathering of the most trained thespians.
Masks fit so tight that people have forgotten there is a mask.
They have become the inevitable , to be.
The play nears the intermission when the members of the host and visitor are left with their respective counterparts.
You are left with your siblings(if you have any) and these people will be waiting to fuck with you only just at this time.
It is mutual , actually.
You also tend to be in the fuck-around mood with the visitors.
The Offer.
This may range from food to forcing the visitors to stay over in the house for a day or two.
It doesn’t matter whether they are your distant cousin’s wife’s fuck-up-brother-in-law or your persistantly cheerful uncle’s new son-in-law or even your worst enemy,  The Host has to OFFER.
There is a saying in Tamil (Thirukkural) which substantiates this social and conversational default.
It would be poor of me to state that in English.
Declining the Offer.
With the offer laying about it is also a signal for the visitor to the get the F out of the Host’s house or in other words ,Its about time.
The play has reached its finale.
The offer in return is declined and you will be in awe on how subtle it is dealt with.
It in itself is an art.
Reasons are put forth first in an arbit fashion.
Then the reason’s take shape and weight gradually.
A heater has to be fixed.
The paper guy has to be paid.
The kid has tuitions.
Then the offer’s gravity is praised with promises of another visit which, they are sure ,will extend longer.
The Withdrawal of the Offer.
Just when the host observes the declination he persuades the visitor even more and this makes the visitor make more reasons and this battle goes on for a while.
Silently the offer is buried among the hugs and the wet kisses exchanged symbolising departure.
Here again if a small kid is present , he is tortured with cheek pinches , anti-gravity stunts and sometimes even bites (usually from overtly hyper uncles) that make marks on the skin.
That poor kid.
Again as said, the purpose hardly matters.
But visits are always fun.
And it is like when people leave or die that we feel their absence.
The cars take off and you stand there ,waving your hands as vigorously as possible .
Happy you are, that it is all said and done with.
You turn to your host parents for a sign of acknowledgement.
There is none.
You find them to be genuinely happy.
You beg to differ with them.
I asked my dad ,why all this? ,he bluntly said,
“People need people.”
Yesterday was my dad’s birthday or so that is what he made us think all these days.
This is For a man who doesn’t remember his birthday.
It is all in the play .
It might be, but it is often amazing to me that people come in/with different forms and faults.
…friends , families and so many different kinds of them…
Each one makes everything about themselves interesting.
By the way ,I came across this Canadian movie,
C.R.A.Z.Y 2005 (French)- about 5 brothers in a family.
Pretty crazy, try watching.

Boards and the Bullies.

A year back ,Kapil Sibal as his first act as the new HRD minister wanted to scrap the tenth board examination.
He made it optional , but due to the inevitable urge of each and every aspiring student , no sorry, parent, that didn’t work out quite well.
So , he then told , Marks will be there but students will be judged on grades and that has hit the jackpot.
Oh, the relief and freedom.
Women especially from where I studied ,become evil soap artists as public exams near.
Every evening you can watch Clash of the Aunties on my school road.
Just before the school disperses , you can see the silent assembly of Elite Moms .
Elite Moms are those whose Kid/Kids are topping a class for 2 years minimum continuously.
A group of hyenas silently waiting and hating each other’s presence but always together picking on that day’s model examination’s problem and wondering how her son/daughter would have tackled it.
It is a battle out there.
Yo yo yo..
“Yo Son is so fat you haveta roll over twice to get off him.”
“Yo Son is so stupid that he can’t even calculate 789*373 in his head.”
And mind you this starts during Eighth grade.
Pride is also a drug , apparently.
Hissing like snakes they avoid the other not-so-elite moms.

The inside politics is so cruel that if you have under-performed this may reflect when you are back home after school expecting a tasty evening snack and what you get is Dry Dates and a loud voice disturbing your SWAT KATS time.
True story.
But lucky me, it stopped with this.
The Toppers are the ones that get mothered.
ha!..
The Elite Moms behave in subtlety.
The most common example is the 99 crisis .
It is when you have scored 99 out of 100 in a Math paper and you had wished that this day wouldn’t come.
I mean WTF!
I have seen many of my classmates (class toppers) go beserk after seeing their paper when given out.
The teachers say, “Ah, 99 . Well done ,Arun.
And the guy gives the I-peed-in-my-pants look ,“What have I done?
Because You see ,there is no other shame worse than a 99 crisis that you can bring to an Elite mother.
It is like you are second best , finishing second in a Grand Prix.
Now, who likes that?
The next few periods he thinks of a plot.
A plot to escape the routine.
A fake stomach ache?

9th period is about to end.
The school bell rings.
SHIT.
He reach the school gates .
It is the Gates of Hell.
I am thankful for once that my mom wasn’t/isn’t the elite kind.
Still for all the 10th standard kids out there.
You ,Lucky Devils.

Seriously ,thanks to Sibal for common sense and humanity.
Phew.

Oh , these Danish .

The Danish Dogme is one of my beloved fascinations in film.
A style of film making that has managed to clear that translucent link between what is theatre and film.
The two most important figures responsible for this were,
Lars Von Trier– A Danish autuer who literally showed the finger to Hollywood when called by Speilberg to direct a magnum opus.
Thomas Vinterberg- Again a Dogme specialist.
Now what is Dogme?
In 1995 , Von Trier and Vinterberg got together and signed a manifesto called the Dogme 95 ‘Vow of Chastity’.
Preservation of Art , to keep it short.
There were a set of rules to be followed during the process of filmmaking.
  • Filming must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in. If a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found.
  • The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. Music must not be used unless it occurs within the scene being filmed, i.e., diegetic.
  • The camera must be a hand-held camera. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. The film must not take place where the camera is standing; filming must take place where the action takes place.
  • The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable (if there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).
  • Optical work and filters are forbidden.
  • The film must not contain superficial action (murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
  • Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden (that is to say that the film takes place here and now).
  • Genre movies are not acceptable.
  • The final picture must be transferred to the Academy 35mm film, with an aspect ratio of 4:3, that is, not widescreen. Originally, the requirement was that the film had to be filmed on Academy 35mm film, but the rule was relaxed to allow low-budget productions.
  • The director must not be credited.
There, What else do you need ?
Not kidding .
There,
It was a polarising move making all filmmakers think again on the purpose of filmmaking.
Energetic Hollywood bashed out on The European counterparts.
But not all,
Nicole Kidman , Willem Dafoe and Paul Bettany thought otherwise .
Embraced the practice and made films that stood out stibbornly among others.
Examples,
Dogville 2003
Manderlay 2005
Anti-Christ 2009
Allthough, one of the best Dogme’s that got global attention were,
Breaking the Waves 1996- stuns you.
Dancer in the Dark 2000 – breaks you.
Two of the very best I have watched.
People who have something against subtitles , don’t worry both are english.