Monday, March 30, 2009

pigeon shit let's see

If nothing else should deter you from the film, this poster should. Read my rant on rickshaws, pigeons and 'Aa Dekhen Zara' at Upperstall. Image courtesy Upperstall.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

uncle, make-up and films

Guaranteed to banish the doldrums is Jacques Tati's 'Mon Uncle' (1958). Google Search throws up 4,190,000 search results for the film, so am not going to add my 2 bits about it.

But here's a photo of my make-up box. Brought for me by those migratory birds that come in from Paris every year. Placed on Dhanno's dressing table which is way more stacked than mine. Shot by Teja.

Make-up is yet another thing that makes me happy. Well, no, just a kohl pencil and a pink lipstick, really.

While Dhanno and I watched Tati yesterday, and marveled at how each frame tells a story all its own, I remembered a film I saw at IFFI, Goa last year. Milky Way/Tejut (2007) by Benedik Fliegauf, Hungary. Curiously, the review I link to, mentions Tati too.

Fliegauf puts together  a series of sketches within a frame. None connect to the other in narrative and yet weave together seamlessly to create an experience of time and space. When Pu and I came out of the theatre, I jotted down a few sketches that I remembered.

1. An old woman walks across a playground, swing in foreground. She sits on a bench, then starts moving back. Midway, she collapses. A neighbor comes to look at her. He picks her up and carries her back.

2. A woman walks across a boat jetty with a pram. She leaves the pram and walks back. A boat comes towards the jetty. A man gets down and looks at the pram. The woman comes back and takes the pram.

3. Two cyclists practice on a pile of rocks on a mountain top. They stop to look at a crane working down below. Dogs bark somewhere. The cyclists disappear below frame.

4. A man walks out of a tent on a field at night. He walks across the field and pees. He walks back to the tent. There is a lot of wind. Two men come out of the tent and struggle with it. The tent flies away. The men chase it and disappear bottom of frame.

5. A truck enters an open ground. Two men get down. They unload big rolls of plastic, red, green, yellow. One man sets up a table. The other man starts pumping up the plastic. Soon, there is a plastic playhouse. A little girl and an old man enter. They pay the man on the table, and enter the playhouse. They lie down on the floor and disappear from frame.

6. Two boys practice dance on a rooftop overlooking the city at night.

There were more, the images striking enough to have stayed with me after these many months.

What stayed with me also is a conversation I overheard while I scribbled - between two film students, a Mallu from FTII, Pune and a Bong from SRFTII, Kolkata. Both chose to speak in Hindi.

"Yeh film kya thee?" (What was that film?)

"Isko samajhne ke liye akkal chaahiye thee." (You needed brains to understand it.)

"Accha hain, tu idhar dekh lee thee, udhar tere ko dekhne ko nahin miltee thee." (It's good you saw it here, you wouldn't have been able to see it there.)

All those who know a Bong and a Mallu in real life will know what's funny about this conversation. They are prone to mix up their genders in Hindi. Everything is feminine, usually.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

humpty- dumpty

There are some days I just collapse. And I don't know what to do.

There I was, a pretty, silver balloon bobbing along with a few other balloons held snugly in a woman's lap riding pillion on a scootie on Ellis Bridge one afternoon in Ahmedabad.

If it had been a prank played by a child, maybe I could have laughed. How exactly does one laugh though, after one has popped?

What made it worse, that it was the deed of a lout, a common one, like many others you see on the street.

There was no question of laughing. And there has been no bobbing back.

Maybe if I had been a boat bobbing on the Sabarmati I'd stand a better chance. But no, I'd have sunk for ever more. Have you seen how dirty that water is?

What if I had been a duck? Would I have done better at bobbing then? No, that's too same to same as above. I'd just have been slain, and that would have been that.

The only thing that comes to mind is a phoenix. But a phoenix is too grandiose, and is it even real?

So while I figure out what I could be that would guarantee a bobbing back after an out-of-sorts except being a phoenix which I certainly could never be, you could have a look at some photos of Ahmedabad which may make more sense than my words.


Rakhiyal, March 2009


Painter Atul's stall, March 2009
Rakhiyal GIDC, March 2009 

Sabarmati Station Road, March 2009

 Ellis Bridge, March 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

what am I doing here?

Alone at noon in a theatre, I feel disoriented. It is curiosity about Anurag Kashyap's work after seeing 'Dev D' that has brought me here, as I am sure it has the others in the auditorium.

Continue reading my review of 'Gulaal' at Upperstall


Image courtesy Upperstall

Friday, March 13, 2009

India on the move

For those of you in Canada or with access to CBC, please watch an exciting series 'India Reborn' on March 15, and March 22, 8 pm.

It's a 4-part series, and I worked on the episode 'India on the move', as the Indian producer. After a long, long time, I did documentary work that was purely journalistic in its approach. It helped that I was working with hard-core veterans, Neil Docherty and Sarah Spinks, idealistic, fire-brand producers rarely encountered in present-day television. A lot of television programming now is 'reality TV' in one form or the other.

For me, it was a personal challenge, as for a long time, I had been working on shows that hovered around Bollywood or Mumbai. I wanted to be a part of the episode on the economy, a subject I hadn't much thought about before this in an academic way.

It was a mad time of flight-hopping, huge treks through the countryside on bumpy roads, travel, travel and more travel, stories of extreme wealth and extreme poverty. But what came with the sense of sadness at so much that is wrong, was also an immense sense of pride. As Sarah rightly says on the website,

"This is a hard-working country that has continually confounded the predictors of gloom"

For more on the series, check out the CBC's website


Monday, March 09, 2009

Viewed the book

Teja likes to switch on his night lamp and open a book the first thing he gets into bed. He started doing it first to impress me. Now it's a habit.

The other day, I walked in and he was holding up a book. I rolled up his 'charsa' and put it over his eyes. He continued holding up the book.

I said, "You are still reading?"

He said, "Yes."

I said, "I've covered your eyes, and you are still reading?"

He said, "Yes."

I gave up, and removed the 'charsa' from his eyes.

I said: "How?"

He said, "I've decided to give 30 seconds to each page. That's it. That's the only way I'll ever complete a book."

I said, "So whichever line you are at, when 30 seconds are up, you move to the next page, is it?"

He laughed.

He said, "You are very funny. What's it got to do with the lines?"

I said, "What do you mean?"

He said, "How would I know 30 seconds are up when I am reading?"

I said, "Yes, how?"

He said patiently, "Obviously I cannot read the lines. I keep my eyes on the page, and I count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 up to 30. Then shift my eyes to the next page."

I was tongue-tied.

He said, "I sense some things on the page. And make up my own story."

I said, "Hmmm. Nice."

He said, "Look, this last page, I know there is a girl waiting at the bus stop, it's late at night, she was at a disco earlier. Maybe, there will be a murder, maybe something else."

I said, "Seems as good a way of reading as any."

'Boi Dekha' or "Viewed the Book" is popular Bengali slang for watching a film. So, Teja is in good company, as Punjab-da-Puttar would affirm.

Later, at dinner, Teja missed an entire conversation between Pu, Sesh and me. After the Ramayan was over, he said, "You know there was this story about Ram."

I said, "Teja, where have you been? We've been talking about this for the last 10 minutes."

He said, "Oh, I was talking to Sesh."

I said, "You were not."

He said, "Yes, I was. Without saying anything."

It didn't matter that Sesh hadn't heard him.

We all agreed that Teja is moving to greater philosophical heights than we are yet aware of.

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