Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dhanno likes reading the girlie books by Meg Cabot, Jacqueline Wilson, Georgia Byng. Why deny it, I do, too. The other day, we had a big row because I read a new book before she did. What's the big deal, I thought, a book is a book, the older the better. I like old books, library books, stolen books, stinky-smelly musty books, falling-apart books, long-forgotten books, books that are liable to give me thousands of germs. But to Dhanno, the book was a shiny, new thing which I had somehow spoilt.

To get her back on me, she said, "You won't even remember the story in a week's time". I said, "Well, I can tell it to you now." She screeched. She said, "Tell me the story of the book you read last week - Avalon High". I said, "It's about a ... school." She rolled her eyes and said, "Tell me something that is not so obvious." I rolled my eyes and made funny faces to get out of a sticky situation, but she was not letting me go.

"Ok, tell me about that book you liked so much - Double Act". "It's about twins", I said facetiously. "Oh yeah, and what about that book - Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism". "Oh, I remember that, it's about this girl, Molly who knows hypnotism, and becomes a model, and very rich, and there are all these other kids who are imprisoned, and she rescues them, and they all run away." She said, "NO ONE runs away in the book."

"Fine, so I confess I am a book-binge-r, and hardly ever remember what I've read. That's why I think it's really good you read so little, but read it well, and remember it," I said, to make peace.

At the FTII hostel, with Dhanno, a little infant, curled up beside me in bed, I'd be reading, lost somewhere, and then suddenly she would kick the book, and I'd look at her, and she'd look back with an angry scowl. No wonder it took her years to bother with reading a book, unless she was told to.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

When Banno And Teja met O, the French journalist

It's only when O, her eyes half-shut asked, "So is there anything at all that you like about Indian cinema?", did I realize that Teja and I had been ranting about what one of our seniors, KS, from the Film Institute calls the "Bandra school of film-making".

I immediately said, "Oh but, I grew up on Hindi films, and I still need my weekly fix of them." To cover my embarrassment I asked her, "And you, what do you think about it all?" She said, "Well, I see everything I can, and I like it all, from 'Devdas' to 'Mr. and Mrs. Iyer' to 'Kabhi Alvida na Kehna'. And I cannot be objective about it, even if I know what's good and bad, because it's all so different to me, so exotic. In fact, it's French cinema that I am fed up of."

I guess that's true of us as well. I'm ready to accept almost any kind of narrative form, pace, technical finesse, in a foreign film, but am much more critical when it comes to Indian films. Even when she asked, "Which are the films that have influenced you the most?", the names that come most easily to mind are the films of foreign directors, Fellini, Ozu, Truffaut, Zhang Yimou, etc, etc. But I suspect that is only a pat answer.

In truth, I am more influenced by the films that I've seen the most, and those that I do love, from Guru Dutt, V Shantaram, Bimal Roy,K Asif, Manmohan Desai, even at times David Dhawan. I like the films made by Sunil Dutt, Manoj Kumar, Chetan Anand, Vijay Anand, Nassir Husain, Mehmood, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Shakti Samanta, BR Chopra. I don't instantly like Karan Johar's work, but I've watched 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' and 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam' several times on TV, and I do love watching his TV show. The same goes for Sanjay Bhansali's 'Devdas' and 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam', even though I hate his retrogressive chauvinism. I liked Farhan Akhtar's 'Dil Chahta Hai' and his 'Don' with all it's glaring mistakes, more than the original one.

I love the old Muslim socials like 'Mere Mehboob', the mad hatter films like 'Padosan', 'Tere Ghar ke Saamne' and 'Chupke Chupke', and even some of the early Jeetendra films like 'Farz'.

And I am not even talking about Ray and Ghatak and some of Mrinal Sen, and Mani Kaul, and even some of the old Marathi black and white films I used to watch on Saturday evening Doordarshan, including some old Dada Kondke films.

This list-making could go on for another year, by which time I'll have seen many more films. Makes me wonder how much of my life I have actually spent watching films, as compared to doing other things.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

guava juice and pomegranates

Two private screenings of "Lilkee" last week. One to a small group of Gujarati women writers, Abhivyakti with a full farsan turnout, including lovely red guava juice from Bhavnagar. The second to a film club of 8 and 9 year olds at Shishuvan School in Matunga, organized by the Pomegranate Workshop.

I cannot yell if my life depends on it, so it was Dhanno who took over the noisy, excited children and their scores of questions.

"Did Lilkee really live in the village? Was that her real mother, her real sister? Where are they now? Where are her friends?"

Seeing Dhanno's cell phone peeping out of her pocket, one child asked, "Where was her cell phone in the film?"

One little girl wanted to know how we had got a shot of the beach from so high up. A little boy answered, "Oh, they must have done it from a helicopter." I said, "No, there was a hill, and a fort, and we took a shot from the top." To which he replied, "Oh, you could have done it from a helicopter".

An important scene in the film is when Bittu, the baby swallows a bead, and the children take him to the doctor, and Tutu comes home and does not find the kids at home. After endless queries about Bittu's welfare, and whether he had really swallowed the bead, and whether he was really crying, a couple of the kids wanted to know why in the film, we don't actually see the children going to the doctor. One of them piped up, "Because they did not find an actor to play the doctor." Another said, "They did not want to show the operation." A third said, "Because the children did not go to the doctor at all."

Each one of them had their own favorite moment in the film, for someone it was when Lilkee went to school, for someone else when the girls went to the beach, for a boy when they all played football, and for another boy when Dadaji told Anushka that you should always do what you think is right, even if no one else agrees with you.

Dhanno had to sign 50 autographs and give her cell number to all of them. She was feeling very pleased with herself, certainly. And she had her two best friends along to show off to.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

errant cells

At midnight, I started reading "Twelve Tissue Remedies of Schussler" which Teja had got off his table-tennis mate, and which I had promptly Xeroxed (yes, I know it should be photo-copied, but I'm pretty sure it was Xeroxed, or actually Modi-Xeroxed).

It was reassuring to learn that all my problems including my laziness, my inclination to procrastinate, my over-active paranoiac imagination, my crankiness, my reclusiveness, etc, etc, were due to the "disturbance of the molecular motion of one of the inorganic tissue salts", and the subsequent loss of cell equilibrium, in my body.

Later at night, unable to sleep because of my errant cells, I went blogging as usual. I've decided to buy myself some cell salts over the counter, but in the meanwhile, I did find some funny blogs, through my friends and friends' friends'. The usual route.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

a cup of tea

Since Teja is away foraging for food, and I'm left in charge of home and hearth, I promptly curl up with a book. Dhanno is at school, Teja is not around demanding lauki juice, and I have enough food to last Dhanno and me through the day, so I ask Tai to go back home. I emerge only when Dhanno does.

She thwarts all my attempts to get her to make my tea by looking through me stonily. I don't assert a mother's rights as I usually do, by stamping my foot, because Dhanno's shoulders are hurting with all the education she is getting.

As I boil the water, to make my own cup of tea, I miss Teja for the first time, in the day. But I don't call him immediately, for a glance at the clock, will tell him what it is all about. 4.30 pm, time for afternoon tea.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The summer holidays are over

Very hot. But stomach-full of mangoes, and stomach-full of sleep, specially in the cool green-blue room.

Last night, I told Dhanno, "Your face has become quite round, like when you were a baby. Why don't you not go to school, stay home, and become nice and fat?" She said, "Hmm, this I must tell my friends. My mom wants me to stay home and become fa-at." I sighed, "Yes, but, you were so lovely then, so round, round, no?"

I'm always thinking of reasons why Dhanno should not go to school. And what's better than a break on the first day of term, itself?

But Dhanno, being more sensible than me, woke up today much before I did, and trotted off to Std. IX C

Tuesday, June 05, 2007