Thursday, 16 October 2014

Why haider Does Not Work For Me

I actually wanted to watch haider, but I decided to give it a miss. That's fine, really...you don't need to be able to lay eggs to know how to make an omelette (just as you don't need to know shit about Hinduism—the religion, the way of life, call it what you will—to make seemingly-erudite posts on 33 crores deities on social networking sites). Similarly, one can comment knowledgeably on a movie based on 35 years of movie-watching experience without actually seeing it.

As a film, haider is possibly quite good. When he adapts Shakespearean tragedies, vishal bhardwaj actually does a good job (at other times, he just makes esoteric shit like matru ki bijlee ka mandola, which is what he makes most of the time). Apart from the gripping narrative Bill had written 400 years ago, haider boasts of some of today's finest artistes like Tabu, Irrfan Khan, Kay Kay Menon, and Shahid Kapur. But a good film is not the same as a blatant political statement filled with...well, lies.

The most flagrant of the lies in haider is the one that chooses to ignore/discredit/label as a myth the genocide of the Kashmiri Pundits and their subsequent exodus from the state. It is as much a truth as was the genocide of the Sikhs back in 1984, and an even bigger one than either that or the much-abused Godhra incident—which, as many are loathe to recall, was triggered by the Sabarmati Express Massacre. But then, this is not surprising coming from a man who wrote an open letter to the citizens of India repeatedly urging them to not vote for a certain candidate (who need not be named here) in this year's LS polls so that the "secular" and "liberal" fabric of the Indian society could be maintained.

Much has already been said and written about the film's merits, which are many, and demerits, which are probably even more, though I still maintain that haider simply as a film is, probably, quite good and watchable. I do not wish to spend too much time and energy on this, but for those who are interested, here is some good reading material:
Just a small question to bhardwaj: "Sir, would you have the same guts to show someone dancing to the chant of 'Ram Ram' on the steps of babri masjid just like you showed someone dancing to the chant of 'bismil bismil' on the steps of the Martand Sun Temple? And would you make a film based on 'Our Moon Has Blood Clots'?"

And yes, that bit—a dance number picturized on the ruins of a once-revered, brutally-desecrated temple—did hurt. Quite badly too.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Is ratna pathak shah For Real?

Dear (not really) Ratna Pathak Shah,

I am not criticizing/appraising/analysing your comments "Satyajit Ray was barely tolerable" and "SHOLAY is extremely embarrassing". I am simply trashing them. So here goes:

1. Personal opinions are fine, as long as (a) the opinions are informed and intelligent and (b) we agree that our lack of appreciation of something might be a result of lack of understanding of the subject, or sheer stupidity, or simply an attention-grabbing technique. I may not like poetry, but if I say something like "Tagore just didn't know how to write poetry", that would indicate utter idiocy.
2. Both your husband—who, incidentally, shares your views on the topics you have remarked on—and you are fine actors. But comments like these only serve to establish the fact that being talented in a particular field and having a deep, intelligent, empathetic, and analytical understanding of that field are two different things altogether.
3. Evidently you have a profound Maya Sarabhai-esque "oh-I-am-so-intellectually-evolved" disdain for mainstream cinema. That is fine. A lot of us arty-farty types do. But while criticizing SHOLAY, the Citizen Kane of mainstream (Indian) cinema, you have very cleverly chosen to overlook the fact that the man who started off with Junoon, Sparsh, Aakrosh, Masoom, Trikaal, Mirch Masala, Ijaazat, Khamosh, and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro was rather quick to criticize the very kind of movies that won him fame and acclaim and moved on to award-winning, timeless classics like Daava, Lahoo Ke Do Rang, Takkar, Misaal, Zulm Ko Jala Doonga, Tehelkaa, Kasam, Lootere, Hasti, Dand-Nayak, Lakshmanrekha, Asambhav, Bombay Boys, Jackpot, Sona Spa...while your own bio-data now boasts of Khoobsurat. Even Sonam Kapoor doesn't want to talk about it! Selective judgementalism? And why, pray, was SHOLAY "embarrassing"? Did Ramesh Sippy make an indecent proposal to you while you were watching it??

Your comments are clearly nothing more than a lame attempt to generate the paying public's interest in Khoobsurat. Sorry, it's not working. You can outrage in Anurag Kashyap/Sanjay Leela Bhansali/Mahesh Bhatt/any venerable Bong director of today's style that your film is for the intelligent ones and not the hoi polloi, but guess what? People are still sticking to reruns of the extremely mediocre, unflattering, embarrassing SHOLAY and Ray films while giving Khoobsurat a miss by a mile.

In effect, therefore, your comments are evoking nothing but scornful mirth and ridicule for your intelligence. I actually feel sad for the scribe who interviewed you and hope someone brings this post to your notice.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Enraged At A F---tard

I understand dissent. I understand criticism. Hell, I can understand fanaticism as well [I'm a bit of that myself in some regards].

But what I do NOT understand is: what kind of a vermin uses terms/phrases like "India - you can go f*** yourself" and "Jai F***ing Hind"—the full words, mind you, not the asterisk-ed versions I've used here—to express his feelings on a public platform just because he is unhappy with the outcome of a national election? Is this the new Liberal/Secular/Patriotic benchmark now? And yes, this fellow is an Indian.


A lot of people have been crying themselves hoarse over 'fascism', 'Nazism', and such bullshit. I want to ask them: is it you guys who should be scared, or the huge majority of Indians who voted for a change? Should we still be debating over who's the Nazi here?

Please let me know. Waiting to be enlightened.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Happy Birthday, Kiara

The Kolkata night dividing 1st and 2nd May eight years ago was sweltering. As my Parents and Sister slept a light sleep, I stayed up all night, catering to a pregnant female who was due any time now.

And at 3.45 AM sharp, on 2nd May 2006, my job as a midwife began, lasting for five hours, as Kuttush popped out five miniatures on my palms, which I held cupped between her hind legs, as my Mother tended to the Babies, wiping away the placenta and washing them in hot water and Dettol, and to Kuttush, cutting the umbilical cords with sterilized blades. My Father and Sister mostly jumped around with joy.

As Kiara turns eight today, I sense Kuttush's lingering presence beside me, looking at my Daughter and saying: "Well, this one isn't turning out too bad either. But thanks for taking such good care of my Little One, Bro."

Happy Birthday, Kiara. All the love in the world for you.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

She Sleeps In Beauty

Her Majesty has not been keeping well. A host of minor ailments have joined forces against Her.

Cartoons fail to cheer Her up. Song-&-dance routines, which She normally responds to rather enthusiastically, don't work. Nursery rhyme videos don't impress. Dinner is a disaster.

She deigns to be carried by Her humble and faithful minion. Ten minutes and three lullabies later, She is spent and fast asleep.

And the world, all of God's creation, has shrunken into that one infinite moment: a tiny fist clutching my finger, a plump little hand around my neck, and a small head crowned by damp, curly hair resting on my shoulder.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Beauty. Romance. Enigma.

When I was born, my Parents used to live in a rented apartment. The landlady had no grandchildren of her own and had taken to me, then a toddler, like fish take to water. My Parents called her 'Mashima' [aunt], which became 'Maasha' on my toddler's tongue. She was the one who introduced me to the magic of the Most Romantic Celluloid Couple Ever, 'Guru' [Uttam Kumar] and 'Gurumaa'. Today, Maasha is enjoying not only her Guru and Gurumaa's films in heaven, but their company too.

As for me, yet another link to my childhood has died, with the passing of 'Gurumaa', also known to the world as Suchitra Sen. There is an indescribable sadness that lingers, even three days after her death.

Because Suchitra Sen was not a mere film actress. She was a veritable goddess for whom my Father and I were rivals in love. That's who Mrs. Sen was.

Dear Rama-di, please say hello to Uttam Kumar from us, while we strive to refresh the golden memories with Harano Sur.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

For My Daughter

She sleeps next to me, an arm across my chest, face buried in my shoulder, peaceful and safe in the knowledge that She will always have me next to Her.

I lie awake and unmoving, careful not to wake Her, secure in the knowledge that She will always trust me.

A nook of Heaven in a corner of the bed.

A drop of my blood. A piece of my soul.