Saturday, July 8, 2017

Love and Love alone

He remembered a question some had asked him once', 'Have you ever REALLY loved someone ...ever?'
The question had brought a smirk on his lips back then. But not any longer. For him, back then, love wasn't far from the loins and he didn't cry when they left him.
Still love has been a undefined emotion for him. He was trying to name some deep enchanting emotion he had been feeling for the past few weeks. The college days were over a decade ago. Mid life crises was looming in the horizon. Any 'normal' people would term him crazy, when they giggled incessantly, stole secret glances, smiled broadly, feigned anger or jumped into empty elevator together.
When did he realize he was in love?  He had heard of someone moving into his office from Bangalore. He had hoped for someone stylish and single. What caught his eye was someone tall with broad shoulders glistening in sweat and salwar with back cut low. He had always been a fan of the blouses with open back. He sat there dreaming of the sweat when she turned up to show her buttoned nose and smile that lit up the entire universe. He didn't get much chance to break in and she was married and pregnant. She did catch him more than once staring shamelessly and must have thought what a jerk was he to stare at a pregnant woman.
Soon she moved into another floor. Goodbyes were exchanged. The meeting would, from now on be, random and serendipitous bumping on in crowded canteen. Life went on until he got a call from an unlisted number. He hated picking unknown numbers to say it was the wrong number. He thought for a few seconds and made the decision that changed his outlook for love, forever.
Although it was for a lost wallet, they became thick friends from that evening. Tea was planned, dark secrets and smiles were exchanged. He started wearing his best to office when she said one day that she liked his shirt. She came onto the secluded washroom area, when he said how much he missed her.
But when did he realize he was in love. For him love attained  a strange meaning when he felt himself burning with jealousy. She once told him about a guy who made her so special and the unforgettable night she spent with him. It took a few moments for him to  feel himself burning with passion. He couldn't stand the fact that he was not the unforgettable person in her life. Will he be able to give her a atleast a minute she wouldn't forget. As the passion left him after a sleepless night and tears, just like the fire after consuming a dry forest, he realized he had to be her special man. Someone she would never forget. Someone she would tell her kids, when she grew old.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Why Kashmir

.Why Kashmir? Is a question everyone asked, when I told them of my travel plans. Srinagar was not a safe option, with regular stone pelting, covert operations and unfavorable weather on top of it. There are safe ‘tourist’ spots, where you can get a good time, depending on the size of your wallet.
But then for me, the question to be answered was ‘Why do I travel’ rather than the ‘Where’. I always hated to do the same things rest of the population did. Mediocrity is my most feared enemy. I wanted to do things a little differently. Moreover I wanted to know and talk to the people, treated indifferently by rest of India.

The trip wasn’t very easy to do. Just hours before take-off my friend suddenly remembered that pre-paid mobile connections doesn’t work in Kashmir. That was a gentle warning of things to happen-  One place where the ordinary man is denied rights to access privileges enjoyed by rest of the country. The moment we touched the airport at Amritsar, I heard someone talking about a possible flight cancellation. There was a heavy rainfall in Srinagar accompanied by snow. The pretty girl in the check-in counter seemed to have fallen in white paint and seemed to be happy about it. I was quite worried about having to return home without cutting a name off the bucket list. We waited at the airport. I scanned the motley group and few of them were from the armed forces (judging the physique), some of them were tourists (judging the luggage) and some were traders.
The airport staff were not ready to give any assurance and we waited on for a couple of hours. And suddenly out of nowhere we were rushed into a flight and took off in no time.  After 15 minutes of rumble and tumble we touched down at Srinagar airport. From a temperature of 45 degrees we stepped straight into temperatures touching zero.

Later on I started to realize how the image runs so parallel to the life of a average Kashmiri. The biggest error Indian administration did was proclaiming implicitly a national integration based on religion. And further to it, hugely adorned but shallow ‘religious tolerance’, which is nothing but depravity of choice.

I understood how far removed our concepts about the valley are from the real situation. Sitting in the lush comfort of my office and worrying about how to get back home without getting soaked, will not help me in making fair judgment on a community for whom a heavy downpour can mean flooding and lose of livelihood. If weather is worse, the state administration was even worse. I had never seen such pathetically administered state capital and one main reason being the power tussle between the army and democratically elected civilian administration. This administrative failure is the very root cause for the ills in the valley. The economic gap is so visible and prevalent. This in turn reflects in different forms of life including lower standards of life, lesser economic opportunities and separatism.

The people although friendly, view the mainland Indians as nothing more than walking wallets. Any attempts to befriend them is met with certain suspicion and wariness. The daily struggle to survive cannot be comprehended by the tourist population. I had particularly noticed that the tourist crowd, never stepped out of their comfort zone or strayed out of the ‘tourist’ path to talk or interact with a  Kashmiri. I did also notice the strong inter link between the Kashmiris where they  knit themselves to each other for better possibility for survival.

Here when we talk about survival, we are talking about how a small drizzle can turn itself into a flood or heavy snow, casting the crowds into abject penury. While on a visit to the magnificent Mughal Gardens, I met a famished guy who earned his living doing manual labour. He was telling me how difficult it is to find regular job in the valley. His plight was echoed by many.

The difficult living conditions and the insecurity results in a closer bonding and tight knit structure to facilitate survival. My taxi driver and guide was persuading me for the boat ride through Dal Lake. He said it was a heavenly feeling. I said a firm no, considering the zero degree temperatures. Finally when the sun shown through we got off in a boat. The boat owner had quoted unbelievable rates, claiming he will show us around 8 points.  As soon as we started handful of merchant boats started circling around selling everything from flowers, fruits and hot drinks. To my dismay, I found out that the 8 points were nothing nut 8 local shops. (I strongly dissuade anybody from doing a Dal Lake trip).

As I sat at the airport, brooding over the misfired trip, two little mynahs flew around the waiting lobby hunting for food. They were unmindful of the innumerable security checks or gun wielding military. They flew around nonchalantly. Kashmir looked the same. Nonchalantly and unmindfully struggling against Indian nationalistic obsession.




Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sairabanu: The story of a dead Bengali

Unlike the years gone by, movie artists have to sell their image and their work outside the medium more than inside. Manju Warrier is one such artist who understood the nuance and has been very conscious of the image she projects to the public. If you glance through her body of work, after the noisy comeback into the movies, you can see a pattern in the roles she played. Divorced, independent, wronged, fierce, single, mother and all these do reflect in the image she projects about her personal life through various social media platform. Well it wouldn’t be fair if I simply quote her name alone, but today most of the mainstream artistes have professional PR people to sell their work to the unassuming public.

This has been much very obvious in recent times when a rising star of Malayalam movie, suddenly changed track and went on to do a testosterone loaded role with a liberal dose of misogyny. The movie went on to do huge business and made a lot of money for the star.
In a very much result oriented world, professionalism is synonymous to profit a business generates. Hence the risks are to be avoided and maximizing the probability has to be focused upon. Manju has been very sure about her image, role and cinema she does. As a female actor, well past hey youthful days, she knows her opportunities are very limited in a male dominated arena. And it is not a fault to ensure the success of ones work. But in the long run screenplay and script are the two areas which have lost to this instant mix for success.

Malayalam Cinema had enjoyed a huge array of artistes, suited for playing varied roles and characters. This did lent a multi-dimensional hue into our scripts for years. There was  a possibility of many layers and complexity could be woven into a conflict. Today our scripts are very unidimensional. Within minutes of a film opening, we will be hit with a sense of multiple deja-vu and a fair good idea of what’s happening in the next 2 hours.

The real challenge for the script writer is to bolt the viewer to the seat with what is known as ‘twists’.  Now the effect of a twist in a shallow script is like masturbating to a poorly done porn movie. You will be left wondering ‘Why the hell’.

The characters themselves will be wearing a monochromatic hue, resembling a plastic toy, with even the appearances being very boring. They get off by being populist and catering to the perversions of the bourgeoisies . The characters mouth the dialogue an average viewer wants to hear and acts in the way he wants him to. The whole process creates a negative creativity and spins off chauvinism and misogyny. The relationships are defined in a very peripheral perspective and in the end the hero winds up the whole saga with a dose of morality.
Well this sums up the entire ‘Sairabanu’ in a nutshell. Nevertheless, it has been the story of many popular movies released recently. The Malayalam cinema has consolidated itself after a brief stint of anarchic period of what we call- period of new generation. The good part being, we inherited a team of brilliant technicians. The Sairabanu has some very brilliant sequences and the good part of the film ends there.The film caste two heavyweight female actors in the lead and bends down miserably from the sheer weight of projecting them in a feel-good light.

Most of the quality time is dominated by the two heavyweights and in an attempt to satiate the egos, the whole story falls shallow in the end. The hollow script becomes so evident from the beginning as many sequences looks forced. There has been no real groundwork on the characters and as for an example it’s been particularly traumatizing to see students from law college ask very childish questions to an imminent lawyer during a interactive session.
I wouldn’t want to elaborate further on the weaknesses of this particular film, as I’ve been trying to point out the malice evident in this mainstream art as a whole. This is an art form majority of the population relates to. And hence it turns gangeric when there’s an attempt to make it exclusive

Summing it up I felt like the unknown ‘Bengali’ who was conveniently left for the dead.















Monday, March 20, 2017

Encroaching Gods


Years ago many of us thought science, education and development would pose a serious threat to religion. We saw empty churches and priests begging for food, but it was not to be. The religion in turn has proved a serious threat to humanism and civilization.
Today we see an erosion of humanism and rationalism from our thought process. Instead various religious dogmas creep into every space of our lives. We have various religious speakers blaring through in our living rooms, palatial places of worship filled to the brim, huge religious festivals which ensures a few people are sent to heaven in stampede. The satire is not to be lost when we realize that the increased religious fervor has not made the world a better place at all.
 
An even disturbing trend is seen when the governance and state machinery is encroached by religion. Not so long ago the chief minister of a state made a huge donation to the tune of crores to one of the richest temples in the country. Now here, we didn't see much protests or intellectual discussions. How illogical it is to think of wasting tax payers' money for some non existent mythical beings? And to consider this happening in a part of the country where the marginalized are presented with noose of a rope rather than a few thousands of rupees to repay their debt.
 
Religion and castes are important agenda for the political parties today. Today we have children growing up in India with a  narrow mindset and view towards different faith and characters. If you don't believe me check the Facebook friends of your kids and make a rough calculation on number of friends who doesn't belong to his 'class'. Or 'belief'.
 
A few weeks ago, my friend insisted on witnessing a a religious procession. The belief is witnessing the procession grant your wishes. I agreed to witness the spectacle. People were lined up on the sides of the road. Police were deployed for the smooth flow. As the procession approached I was stunned to see throngs of small children accompanying ahead. They were very small and not used to walking long distances. I wondered if the parents would have allowed these children for a peaceful march concerning issues on society.
 
More recently I have been to a pilgrimage centre, happening to be a small church in Kerala. There a holy image is displayed once a year when throngs of people risk stampede to witness the spectacle. I saw people rummaging wastes to collect containers to carry back holy oil.
 
Nonetheless , very recently the capital city celebrated its annual festival of Pongala .Even basic amenities were closed as women lined up in the streets under hot sun to offer Pongala. In a city faced with draught, tonnes of litres of water was wasted. Small and tired children were happily dehydrated to earn the pleasure of the Goddess. The state machinery itself spent crores of rupees for the spectacle.
 
I happen to hear a Panditji speaking the glory of the Goddess. Strangely irrespective of religion the basic  idea of benevolent God is same today. Still, the Pongala Goddess is angered over only one thing- CRITICISM.
 
I am cutting this boring, stupid post short. I want the few of you, who read this to analyse how much of your thought process and decisions you make are based on religion.

Monday, March 6, 2017

JUDGED-2

I asked a good friend about an opinion on my last post, with a vain feeling of impressing her with my intellect. She dashed my hopes with a single word- “pointless”. But then why do we take pain to draw a clear picture out of random points. In other sense, in a pointless world drawing a conclusion out of every issue can cause loss of finer elements.

Issues on sex and  different aspects of sexuality has been a topic of discussion in the Malayali diaspora. We have had very crude form of sexual oppression, some matriarchial societies, rigid attitude to sex, liberal view on sex, better opportunities in various walks of life irrespective of sex and even sexual hypocrisies. The various conflicting views and opinions have earned our society a better self realization and in my opinion a good place for the women compared to other parts of the country.

I was in a argumentative mood when I posted a food for thought in my Facebook account. Although I didn't elaborate the issue in detail, the seed germinated from a documentary video, narrated by a girl on the sexual relationship with her father while she was in high school. Although the narrator stopped short of expressing any anger or extreme emotion about the incident, she  briefly enacts the trauma through student silence, lighting a cigarette and wiping off the tears.  Interestingly the protagonist goes on to use terms like 'getting wet', 'orgasmic' and doing it repeatedly until she entered into a new relationship.

Now in my post, I wondered aloud if it's right to brand the adult, if the girl in question had entered into a consensual act. The wider narrative is teens are mature enough to make their own. Most of the parents doesn't question their food, ideas, relationships or clothing. I knew a person who had a daughter watching porn in her early teens. The act was diplomatically termed as 'curiosity'.

I am not trying to justify any sort of perverted sexual act on children. But indeed, we stand at a crossroad where some unpleasant questions have to be answered. I did face some harsh reactions to my post. A good friend went on to issue a barrage of heated words and went ahead to block me. This reactive attitudes stem from insecure beliefs.

We are in eternal conflict with ourselves. We have to pacify our own beliefs against the raging perversities that has gained a social approval right from our arts, food, religion, clothing and relations. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

JUDGED - 1

It was a peaceful Sunday and my siesta was rudely interrupted by a phone call. An old friend, who went way back to school, had lost his father. He was with me right from school to college and the news was a little emotional. I rushed off to his home, which was a agraharam  right in front of the temple. Crowds were gathered already. The space was already small and everyone was nearly standing on the toes  of the other. Priests with bare torsos  and the traditional strings moved around nonchalantly. Soon the mantras started and we moved outside where there was a little fresh air.
I joined my old college mates. We started chatting about the life we ended up living and soon  the conversation veered off to the latest trend topic- the young actress who was molested recently in her own vehicle by her former driver. The incident had happened two days ago. Although the news did not catch much traction initially, it picked up steam soon with the media and stars expressing their ‘huge shock’. And here we were, in the middle of a cremation, talking about the molestation. There were wild guesses and suggestions of the people behind the incident. People made suggestions about the contents of the video and how soon it is going to be released. Probably the actress would have never experienced such a huge hype even over any of her movies. I went back home, lost in thought over how a melodramatic scene shifted to much racy topic.

The discussion was heard all the way to tea-stalls, bookshops and beer parlours. Most of the male population seemed to be eagerly waiting for the ‘video clip’. The next day at the office, the friendly sweeper lady remarked innocently about the film star on whom shadows of doubt had fallen, ‘He is already married twice. Why did he have to do this’.

The common man who didn’t enjoy the privilege of any personal protection or support from the film stars & who had to risk daily travelling late hours among unknown people started making their own inferences.

To have a driver is a luxury in itself. To appoint a person with criminal credentials is a luxury as well as arrogance. The actress  who represent the arrogant girl of new generation crossed her line in roaming around with a criminal. Bhavana who came into movie as the innocent sister for the big star, who get ditched for lack of good looks suddenly transformed herself into the torch bearer of new generation. The cool image although had its share of success, didn’t go down well with our Sanskari clan. Well it’s still okay for guys to drink and smoke, but it’s totally forbidden for women. They have greater responsibilities like child bearing and child rearing.

Now this, at the outset, sounds as an issue which we can sit back and make judgements upon. But looking at it again don’t our women face the same issues in a different intensity everyday. To some extent, yes a woman can collectively counter the offense by a unknown attacker at a public space. But can the same narrative be used in a  workplace, where her promotions, relations and outfits are out to constant scrutiny and judgement.

Sexual shaming is a powerful tool. It is actually easy to counter every allegation except the ones involving sexuality. It is not confined to women alone and many institutions have used the weapon to confront unruly elements. Now you may recall during every student agitation the first allegation to come out would be the sexual anarchy. The public digests it happily and without reasoning.
Sexual depravation is another factor. The effects of liberalization has moved from economy to social life. If you look at the recent works in mainstream movies, which are used as a benchmark for culture, the common theme loudly proclaimed is if you have enough money, you can enjoy women, drinks and drugs sans any moral limitation. And if you can’t afford  a woman, you have every right to stalk her and assault her. The spurt in recent killings of women, who refused the advances of men, is a grim pointer.

I am winding this up here for now…more to follow


About Me

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Shakespeare,Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Lincoln never saw a movie,heard a radio or looked at TV. They had loneliness and knew what to do with it. Thay were not afraid of being lonely because they knew that was when the creative mood in them would work.