Thursday, December 30, 2010

Even today; Yesterday

There are two essays in a row that I need to finish before heading back to India. I've finished with the first one that is on ‘widescreen cinema and close to reality ambience.’ It was so exciting to read about the systems like Cinerama, CinemaScope, VistaVision, Tod-AOO, Cinimiracle, Technirama etc that fascinated audience in 50s and 60s with screens much bigger than today’s. I really do miss watching a 3D film in Cinerama; probably the ultimate experience of living in visual space. In future, I'm keen on seeing a film in OMNIMAX too. My second essay is on ‘Spaghetti Western films of Sergio Leone’ concentrating on the ‘Dollor Triology’. Thanks to my professor, Russ Hunter, who introduced me to the genres of films other than the ones of belong to the great Neorealism movement in Italy. To be honest until this module by Mr.Russ, I never thought that there is a genuine need of studying the commercial genres of cinema too. Now I agree that I was wrong.

Well in this post I want to write about something else- my concept of woman icon in cinema and may be in my reality too. I have already written about it in another post previously. But today after seeing the same film again, I must admit that I fell in her charm more intensely. She is 'Yesterday'. Since the day I saw her, I'm in love with her. Can any woman be so simple as a dove and at the same time as bold as a rock? Yesterday is the name of an young African mother played by South African actress Leleti Khumalo in the film by the same name ‘Yesterday’ directed by Darrel Roodt . I would rather call her a goddess of simplicity and a symbol of will-power for humanity. There is a scene in which the doctor wonders at her health and says, ‘Yesterday, your body is so strong’. As reply she points at her head and say in a simple smile "It’s all here. I’m not ready until my daughter ‘Beauty’ goes to school”. On another occasion a local schoolteacher calls her a ‘strong woman’ and she tells her “Sorry, I’m not. But that is the way things have to happen.” There is so much of simplicity in her nature and an ambition to live for, which is unique. Fighting with life and survival was a small part of the routine of her day... She never longed for anyone's help or believed in miracles. Her way was to deal with it, as she did with all other situations. The film was much appreciated with awards in many festivals around the glode, including Pune Film Festival.

I am ready to die after seeing at least one such woman in Indian screen or in real life who is not an escapist, whom people don't whistle at - consider as a subject of visual pleasure - or sympathise. It is difficult to see that combination of simplicity and boldness, at a time. There must be a lot of simple woman in Indian screen as nurturing mothers, ideal wives and dedicated daughters. But very few of them are shown equally bold to face reality; rather they are all shown in a way 'dependent or desperate'. There were attempts to portray bold woman too on Indian cinema. But most of them remain bold to the core as if they lost all soft feelings because of the society and people; that make them still the same – desperate and dependant. Hence to both the kind of woman, audience has only one feeling – sympathy, which is ridiculous. Very recently I saw a Malayalam film called Kadha Thudarunnu, in which actress Mamtha’s character was quite appealing as ‘bold and simple’. I enjoyed watching both the beginning and the end of the film, where the creator kept her with that identity. More than generating sympathy, she remained an icon. At the same time I hated the portions where she was shown dependent too.

The lady ‘Yesterday’ in 'Yesterday' is an icon. She never took any sympathy from audience. They rather treated her with dignity. She thus inspires spectators of both the sex on equal levels; she makes them feel that life is so simple and nice. Life has more meanings to it.I am sure nobody sympathised at her neither worshiped her as rebel to the crimes on humanity. They all would prefer to walk with her talking to her holding her hands, sharing moments of daily life. Well, that is what I felt I would do if I happen to see her in real life. Sympathy is probably the only feeling I would prefer not having for anyone. It is disgusting; I can hate someone instead. Recently I was telling a friend that I'm trying to revisit the good things I admired even in my worst enemy, only not to have any sense of anger or sympathy to them, because I know that that I'm capable enough to make my life and their life a disaster with such feelings. Instead of calling someone a ‘bastard’ or ‘bitch’, isn’t it great to say ‘be good’, understanding people (that includes myself) as victims of situation who ironically justifies 'own' actions as well as 'own' decisions on those situations with 'own' logics; leaving the ultimate truth being selfishness. Those who have balls survive reality, others don’t. Escapists die with an identity crisis, that remained nature's will that no one survived yet.

I never liked to leave a theatre space sympathizing at the characters of film; in reality too. Rather, I always enjoyed to be inspired by them. I like to shed a tear of happiness and not sorrow. Till date, no other woman inspired me as much as ‘Yesterday’; both in films and in real life. It's the truth.

I guess I need to get back to my essay now. Catch you soon. Hugs.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Birth at funeral

I would have said that I am the happiest man under the sun, if it was yesterday morning. Today I’m not sure whether I am under the sun or not. I am pretty much surprised at the events I witnessed today at home. Instead of blaming the lorry driver I would rather hug him tight. I’m also upset at the mad people who threw stones at him as he was trying to run away from the spot. Everybody including my parents is cursing him for everything without knowing the fact. How do I tell them that the stray dog that was saved by his kind behaviour is lying near the corner teashop feeding her newborn puppies with sweet white milk, without knowing anything about her saviour’s situation. His wife is in a confused state, not knowing what to do. She is weeping with her baby close to her breast looking at her husband who came home late at night with a bleeding head. He was shivering badly. She was about to cry loud, but he quickly covered her mouth and whispered “Don’t give me to anyone!” As she stood in a frozen state he dissolved in the state of coma hugging his son on the floor. I was with him yesterday whole night since the time I found my body dead. It took a few minutes for me to accept the reality that I am no more a part of the blood and flesh that protected me from the real world. I followed him immediately. Ironically today is my birthday too.

I attended my funeral today morning. Unlike every other good and bad events that happened at my home, this is the only time I experienced myself as a silent spectator to the expressions of the people who came to see me. My body was the filthiest thing I had even seen in my life. Being a doctor I had seen many such bodies in front of my eyes and I was always been famous for being so merciless. I could be the best actor in the world for that matter. I kept my emotions so passive towards the newborn babies who opened their eyes to me and to the old men who closed their eyes to me. I felt like a God inside and behaved like a man outside. In psychiatry they say that the brain registers every single image that comes in front of our eyes forever. I always carried this pride inside that all those babies must be retaining my face in their subconscious minds as their first connection to the world and the old men having my face as their lost connection to the world. While closing the eyes of the dead bodies of those old men, I saw myself there. Both the babies and the old men said, “Thank you.” I suppose…

You must be wondering why I thanked the lorry driver. It is because of him I could revisit everybody who was been in my life, as a third person. I attended every single conversation they had among themselves. I could read their minds too. My wife never cried until an old friend who happened to be our best buddy in Medical College came to see me from America. I heard their conversation. Heard from him why he never told me the reason for living as a bachelor even today. Whenever I asked he gave a quick look at her that I never noticed when I was alive. But it is strange that she who remained my twin soul and back born in every single moment of my life, kept it as a sad secret. I am not sure how I would have reacted to it even if she had let it out. Today morning as he came in, she ran to his shoulders and cried like a baby. I saw the same face I fell in love, in the corridors of medical college that I lost sometime somewhere in later point of time. Nurses from the hospital whispered, “He used to be their best friend since college. Isn’t he smart?” There are many moments I regretted for making her my wife from a friend. She was good as a friend. Wasn’t she struggling as my wife? Yet, we remained ideal husband and wife for our parents, son and society. We belonged to the same ‘caste’ and ‘religion’ and our horoscope had a good match. Moreover ‘I loved her', nobody asked whether she loved me, including me…

My parents kept crying whole the time since yesterday. Well, how do I tell them that I am feeling happier than ever before in this state. May be they are the next to smell this aroma of incarnation. When I was alive I always had a concern about their life. Old age was eating their body and mind. Like everybody else I could not have imagined parents leaving me on a day that cannot be written by me even as a doctor. I was too worried about such a state. Now as I float around in an invisible animated ‘some’ form that I'm neither solid, liquid or gas with no sense of touch or smell. I am in a state of no ‘state’. I have no surface. I have no depth. I have no future, present or past. My only state is ‘happiness’ – complete happiness that I always kept searching for when I was alive. How do I tell this to my parents? I am not worried about you any more like any other ‘living’ human being.

I saw my son playing with friends of his age from the kinder garden. He was found so happy to see all his cousins at home. Right now, I want to hug the writer of this story and say that my son is the only one who is enjoying my present state of mind. I wanted to tell him that he doesn’t need to be worried about anything. I saw my son acting smart in front of other children as he always did. He was searching for everyone’s attention that brought smiles even to the face of my crying parents. He was also worried that his American uncle didn’t get him chocolates. He hated the silence around. He was not worried about his ‘sleeping Daddy’. His little mind found the reason for the silence - ‘Daddy is sleeping’. He remembered his mother's voice, “Shhhhh……. Daddy is sleeping.” as always.

Unlike every other occasion in Kerala there was good discipline in people’s behaviour. They all came in a perfect queue that stood long to the road. I saw a Minister and a priest too somewhere in the queue. The minister was showing people the meaning of democracy and priest, his decency. Both of them had a mask - only I could see! I saw the unhappy face of Mr. Avarachan too, who helped me with some money. He looked at the half finished house at the next compound that was a dream for me till yesterday. I am not bothered about it today… They all had flowers in their hands and varied expressions on their faces. The nurses who fancied me, on purpose, kept the flowers over that part of my body they wished to see… but missed… as always. They missed me because I was a sensible human being till yesterday and today I was seen as a senseless human body. My life or death didn’t serve any of their fantasies.

Tomorrow my wife and child might leave to America; my parents might have to spend rest of their life in an old age home; the minister might be winning another election; the priest might become Pope; the little babies might grew up as young men still retaining my image in their subconscious minds; the nurses might continue to fancy my photograph and get naughty; the people might be standing in many more queues with flowers… and the puppies might grow up as annoying stray dogs that leave many more lorry drivers in coma… all that doesn’t make any difference in the system of life and society. They still carry stones in their hands. I am not concerned about any of them.

At present I have only thing do - stay with the lorry driver who saved the dog. If the God willing to give me a chance to enter another body as a new life, I would rather choose his body… and continue his journey… protecting many more dogs... Wish you happy birthday.

* photo - Abey Abraham

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Majority of the Malayalam films that are being celebrated, as cult art films by critics did not fascinate much for one reason, their thematic detachment from current society or their too much attachment to literature. Adaptation of film from literature is definitely acceptable, but while the world is moving towards a cinema of ‘today’- cinema of the truth of today- it is an irony to see the celebrated art filmmakers of Kerala trying to do and redo cinema of and for certain period in the history, vanished in memories following the literature of a certain period. The problem is when they look too much into the accuracy of the visualisation of those periods, more than the theme and their closeness to reality of today, meeting the objective of speaking a truth for the current generation or their situation.

I was seeing Shaji N. Karun’s, Piravi’ yesterday. Unlike many of the cult films from Kerala, that I was always been forced to read as ‘a story happened sometime, somewhere in the history of Kerala’, ‘Piravi’ immediately took to the state of ‘present day’. Arguably, now it is difficult for me to enjoy any other Malayalam film in future, as there arise a natural tendency for a comparison with the standard of this film. The only other film that was rooted on its closeness to reality and the very meaning of a journey of existence could be John Abraham’s ‘Amma Ariyaan’. Living people, life on land, light of love,

the simplicity, the touch, the smell, the attachment to the reality of life as a component of nature and culture of Kerala – these films have no pretentious state to represent or a proud statement of solution to make, but present you with a reality of ‘being on the earth’.

Forgetting all the stubborn statements that ‘Cinema is all about camera movement’, ‘cinema is all about montage’, ‘cinema is all about literature’, ‘cinema is of and by auteurs’…. Well, who is bothered on ‘what cinema is’ and who the hell are we to judge or define ‘cinema’. Considering it so down to earth as a basic ideology of representation of a theme in an artistic manner to the society we live in, what other goal cinema is promising to achieve? Cinema is not about giving solutions; cinema is not about ‘that’, it being called today. As a celebrated cinematographer once said ‘cinema is not a place of worship’ nor it is a ‘factory’ as titled by a known director. It is neither an industry nor mere communication media. At the same time it is all of this at a time for each. Every single person associated with cinema has his own definitions about it. For sustaining our life, we all have our own definitions and reasons. Being human had become the twisting of truth for convenience like a piece of clay. Making various models with same clay and call it ‘This is truth’. Well, each of those models stay as individual truths, with the ultimate truth being the clay. Greatness of an artist is not in his choice of making ten bad art works and one good one, but the choice of not making any of those if they are not from heart in any sense...

This could be the weirdest statement about cinema and I don’t know whether I am eligible to make it. But let me just say this, I consider cinema to be mature as a medium and art, when people identify that there is no experience/environment of difference between the reality they live in and the screen reality. At that moment they might even identify that they don’t need a cinema anymore for their life and happiness. The death of cinema is the maturity of cinema…

Monday, December 13, 2010

To my sister

I'm here with my 100th blog with a special post for the one who I care the most... The one who remains my biggest support... and best companion... and a good reason for my very existence... My sister, Athira - Aakkutty, as I always called her. Missed you lots... on your engagement...

On one of the holidays days back at home during my graduation time in Hyd, using an old walkman, I recorded a song my father used to sing as a lullaby for me and Aakkutty. Since then, it remained with me whereever I have gone... With the sweet memories of this song, memories of our childhood is yet more strong...

My hearty congratz to you and Arun.


Arun Chettan

Sunday, December 05, 2010


He belonged to the sea...

“He belonged to the sea... loved her more than me... & I always left him go. Today too…” Emma told Habeeb in a bold voice, steady and stubborn like the South Shield sea wind. “Today, I know that he won’t be back again ever. Let’s go… Habeeb, It’s freezing. There can be a snowfall anytime from today on...”

She sat down whispering something to herself or to her alterego who just vanished from her vague vision to the darkness of night and the serene layers of salt water underneath. Waves swayed the boat, in a way new to Habeeb who has been listening to the melancholy of Mother Ocean ever since he was born to his fisherman father. His great great grand father belonged to Akhdam community among the Yemini Arabs, who travelled as slave for an Arab merchant to the North East of UK centuries ago. Neither Habeeb nor me the writer have any information on how he happened to become a fisherman for living. No more slavery today, Habeeb is a very respectable individual of the society of South Shield who owns a boat he calls Jannah.

Habeeb started the boat, looking at that old woman aged 87 sitting under a beam of moonlight that intruded in through a hole on the roof of the boat just by the intention of creating a hallow around her head. “Is it a miracle?” Habeeb asked himself. That old woman whom he knew since his childhood looked someone different and unknown. Definitely she is not the same who travelled with him from the shore. Her eyes were shining like never before. He, on purpose, deviated his thought and vision and turned the boat, sailing towards the direction of shore. But then, thoughts cannot be caged… that is the reality of existence…

Emma is of his father’s age, a mother figure for him since his childhood. He who lost his own mother at the age of four found her warm chest as his safest nest. Emma thus became momma for neighbour’s son.

Listening to a seagull’s cry from a distance, Habeeb remembered that ‘surprised little Habeeb’ who first saw the man who came from nowhere to his momma’s life on a warm sunny day. Till then he was a lifeless old photograph in Emma's shelf. Little Habeeb never thought that a photograph could come alive. Since then he carefully cleaned his own mother Saleena’s photo, because he didn’t want her to feel bad if she ever be back again. But she never returned like Emma’s man Richie. After many months Little Habeeb himself found his answer “For photographs to come alive, we must be praying to God for that.” Little Habeeb never prayed to Allah for Saleena to come back. In fact, he never felt the need. He was much happy with Emma. “Emma’s man came back because she prayed for him every day.” He was clear.

Once Richie called Habeeb, “Little devil” with a smile as he understood how far he had gone from Emma and how close Habeeb have been to Emma. He must be jealous. For Emma Richie was God. But her God was the admirer of the vastness of ocean more than that of her eyes. He went sailing again immediately after three months of his stay on land, to the ‘Unknown’, as he always said and done. Emma became alone again.Time scrolled slow for Emma but faster for Habeeb. He became an young man in no time.

The photo at the shelf got life again. But by then, young Habeeb was intelligent enough to know that dead people cannot come alive. At the same time, he was confident that Emma’s Richie cannot die because of her prayers. He came back as an old man to his wife on a pleasant Christmas day. They both looked at each other and laughed for hours looking at the wrinkles on their faces. Emma laughed at Richie’s bald-head while he did the same looking at her hanging breasts. There was laughter again.

Young Habeeb over heard their private talk. Emma lying on Richie’s hairy chest asked “Did you ever make love to any other girl in your journey?”. He replied, “I saw many beautiful women in India, Mali, China and Costa Rica. But I was committed to a woman whom I care for.” Kissing her lips he continued, “ Emma, your deep mystic eyes make me feel that I am still in sea, I have never seen the same in anybody else’s. The sea that I can touch… it gives me unknown targets… an unknown goal to go for… that sea set me moving… to the unknown as unknown… sea loves me and I love sea. Yea, other than you I made love to that sea. Unlike other sailors I never longed for a shore. I never felt you away from me when I was with sea.”

Emma said, “Richie, sorry… I made love to someone too. I made love to the sky when you was away. Sky never had anything to hide from me like you. He was more sincere. He was never been far like you.” Richie held her tight to him as she continued, “Every time I looked up, he showed me clouds or the stars. I tried to forget you. I knew that you must be looking up too, for your directions. One day I realised that each time I lifted my hands to touch the sky, it went much higher and higher.” Emma kissed him all over, “Richie, you know you are very lucky. You can touch your sea whenever you like, forgetting everything. But I cannot touch the sky. In stead, it makes me remember everything. Richie, you kept happy forgetting us. But I remained happy remembering us.”

Sea called him again. Richie left the shore leaving Emma with her sky and Habeeb. Unpredictable English weather changed again. It started snowing cats and dogs. After five days the sailer was found lying on the frozen shore with the waves hitting his feet. Emma ran like a rat to the beech, hugging him tight passing the heat of her chest to his skin.

Richie never left the shore again. He grew older and older with Emma. Most of the time he was at the beech whispering to the waves…with Emma lying beside him on the sand staring the sky. Sometimes she lifted her hands like a baby trying to imagine the clouds in her finger tips by closing one eye, while he was found struggling to bend down to touch the waves that kept competing with each other to touch the feet of their lost companion. They both were partners, but they had their own partners too. Richie once pointed his fingers towards the horizon. He started laughing, "Emma, look. Don't you think your sky and my sea are meeting and mating, so openly. I sailed to see their meeting point." Suddenly Richie became serious. He held Emma's face close to his eyes, "Now, don't you think we both were the victims of illusions... Let us accept the fact..." Emma hugged Richie in a way she had never done before. They made love on the beech forgetting their age, place and time.

Together, with each passing moment, they became older and older... One day the old Richie told introduced Emma to Habeeb, “If sea is love, she is sea & If she is love, she is sea. Its true...'young' devil”, Young devil smiled. He felt a father in Richie.

A silent wave lifted the boat in its hands. It started snowing lightly. “Habeeb…. It is bad weather. We need to reach home before everyone arrive.” Emma woke him up from his thoughts. Suddenly the reality they had to face the next day placed Habeeb in a confused state. To that state of mind Emma continued, “Habeeb, my sailor husband never knew to swim. He actually feared the water he loved and he was never been satisfied by any of his journey on the waves. Richie loved sea, scared sea and respected sea. The sea that washed him to the shore during the snow was his true wife. In a way, my life with him was her decision. He always dreamt of diving deep down to the bottom of her laps like a fish. He once promised me to send him there. I was scared to do that when he was alive. But not today… I am leaving him free to his dream destiny...that no one can deny him, including me...”

Habeeb got up from his seat and went beside Emma. He hugged her tight as her eyelids left a few drops of tears that fell fresh on his hands. Habeeb imagined Richie’s body touching the bottom of the ocean.

That was the only time he saw Emma cry and that was the last time she cried too…

Friday, December 03, 2010


Today is a wonderful day for me, true to my journey with Claire, Pete and the young people at Skimstone Studio, started since January this year. Finally our new website shaped up in its fresh new look and feel, all thanks to Andrew for designing it. As I was telling Claire today, “There are two kind of visitors for any website. The ‘quick-look-visitors’ and the ‘close-look-visitors’. I guess this site has visibility and appeal for both.” With a new air of freshness, we are starting… this fresh new journey of vision and mission, together… Cheers

Beyond, Beside and Beneath

While walking to Rasa yesterday, I was thinking of an interesting story my Malayalam sir, Devasiya told me when I was in 6th or 7th standard. Those who studied Malayalam would definitely know the German missionary Hermann Gundert, who compiled the first Malayalam grammar and dictionary. Once a native from Kerala seeing Gundert’s cat eyes made fun of him without knowing his knowledge in Indian languages – “Ganapathi Vahana Ripu Nayana” means ‘The one who have the eyes of enemy (cat) of the carrier (rat) of Lord Ganesaha”. It seems, in seconds Gundert responded to him in a his humorous manner “Dasharatha Nandadana Sakhi Vadana” – “ The one who has the face (monkey face) of the best friend (Hanuman) of King Dasharatha’s son (Lord Sriram).

The history and culture of Kerala always fascinated me, ever since the time I read the whole collection of Kottarathil Shankunni’s ‘Aithihyamala’ from Swamiji’s library. My mother being an avid reader of Mathrubhoomi Weekly that always carried quality articles- both informative and critical- inspired me to read nonfiction and semi-fiction more than fiction. My mother’s favourite book ‘Parayi Petta Panthirukulam’ could be the novel I have read the maximum number of times in my life. There is a sense of pride in understanding the importance of the land, the people born in that soil and the events that made that South West strip of India so different from other places. Protected by the Western Ghats at the East and Arabian Sea at the West, the birth of the landscape was believed to be a gift of the axe of Lord Vishnu’s immortal saint avathar Parashuraman.

While serving Travancore Chicken Masala and Thalassery Chicken at the restaurant, I do think about all that I learnt in my childhood about the division of provinces of today’s Kerala during king’s era. Kerala, is the first state of India that voted a communist government under E.M.S. Namboodiripadu. In Orissa, I while doing the documentary film on Gond and Kondth tribes I met an elderly ex-naxalite leader who changed to core Gandhian, who happened to tell me a lot of stories about his friendship and work with E.M.S.

May be it is madness in the name of caste and creed that made Vivekananda call Kerala, a Mental Asylum, but beyond that it is a place where many religions co-existed for many centuries. Kerala is a rare region where there the pilgrims to a Hindu temple (Shabarimala) start their journey visiting a Mosque. Today’s Kerala and India are under the clutches of politically religious and religiously political bastards. Amalgamation of religion and politics is the worst sin faced by the nation and the state today. Well, isn’t that the true ‘Divide and Rule’ policy we kept blaming the colonial rule in our own social studies text books for many decades.

I was watching the film Kuttishrank by Shaji N. Karun that represented the past of three different divisions of Kerala in an effective manner. I thoroughly enjoyed the sequences of the arrival of Kerala’s traditional ‘Pathemari’ (wooden boat) at Northern coast, from Cylone with a bunch of Buddhist monks who were travelling to Bodhgaya.

While coming to UK the only book I carried with me was “Kerala Charithram (The History of Kerala)” by A. Sridharamenon that showed how rich was the trade relation the Keralan landscape had with the other nations around the globe. The region hosted both the traders from the East and the West with the same interest at varied time periods that clearly say that Kerala was never been an isolated space in the history of mankind.

I haven’t started with this blog in the objective of an NRI way of spitting his nostalgia. Well, for that matter, I have never considered myself an NRI. When my parents asked me what is the difference between the people in UK and Kerala, I was confused. I don’t really think emotionally and sensibly anyone is different. Except for color and culture, I wouldn't be able to judge anyone from any land based on emotions, senses, ethics and aesthetics. The rights, wrongs and choices might be different according to the geographical origin but then who are we to judge the rights, wrongs and choices.

While starting with the blog I was thinking of elaborating on the philosophy of identifying one of the smallest creature of the world, rat, for the bulkiest God of Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha who has the head and structure of an elephant as represented in epics and art. Isn’t it very ironical and philosophical? Isn’t it the truth of life. The little one’s carrying the bulkiest’s. I guess that is the beauty of life... again.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Now, more snow...

I was high on a lone adventure yesterday night. Reached home at 3.30 AM. Muzammil and Soma was still awake. True to her understanding of me, Soma had a clear guess where I could have been and she was right. I was at Leazes Park, lying alone on a bed 10-inch snow near the frozen lake amidst the naked trees holding the feathers from the heaven hearing to the wind and the ‘slient’ movement of swans and ducks. Soma was so clear in mind that I was there. Well, my best friend she is. Snow, snow wasn’t an illusion. It belonged to me and will stay mine, silently. It will vanish in no time, with a promise to be back again. The whole scenery looked so alienated from the city space holding the look and feel of a frame from some Dracula film.

After work, when we left the restaurant it was 12.30 Am. It was snowing heavily and the whole road was blocked. Naturally no taxies were around, Thanks. So we all decided to walk home. The white features of sky and the festive mood of night at Newcastle was so seductive. So mid-way, I said good-bye and turned towards ‘Sinners’. Well, ‘Sinners’ is the only pub I visit here in this city coz of its row nasty dirty ambience, cheap beer and my lone corner to move to the music. As always I stopped with a pint and walked out to hug the snowy night.

While walking back playing with the snow ball and photographing the white carpet around I encountered the emptiness of Leazes Park waving to my solitude. There is genuine reason for my addiction to lone, silent, haunted spaces being a metaphor to me myself. Through the 10 inch white carpet of snow I scrolled towards the lakeside. As expected, the view was breath taking. For a moment I did miss someone to share it with. I walked around the lake and lied down on snow for a while. Photographed in that low light, as much as possible. The snow was still virgin, untouched and smooth, straight form the sky. I touched the water in the lake. It was frozen. The bed of snow had a florescent feel to it reflecting the mild light still trapped in the sky.

I cannot explain the view that I enjoyed with mere words. I tried to capture it on my mobile cam. But trust me, it has no life. I was telling Soma the other day. “I guess snow is the only thing that I am not confident to capture on camera with its real charm and flavour. On camera the white reflective colour keeps everything flat to the eyes of audience. ”As I got out from the Park, met three Chinese guys and a girl whom I could make friendship with. It was good fun.

It was a great memorable day, started with an adorable status msg from my best friend Swarna in facebook. “Swarna miss UK. All thanks to Arun Bose” for that I replied “In UK, Arun Bose miss UK too, all thanks to Swarna.” The day ended with a night at Leazes Park whispering to my solitude and snow… It was worth living… Life is beautiful.

Seeing my short film “No More Snow”, filmmaker friend Matthew Burge from South Shield and his partner Melanie said, “the English way is to enjoy when the sun is out, snow happens every year.” The problem here is, “I am not born English. Naturally I won’t be able to behave English. I’m meant to be mesmerized by snow… Now, more Snow….”


It was the first day of Soma at studio with me. I liked that surprise look on her face, seeing the unconventional collaborative process-led way of filmmaking that was new to her. As always we got into some serious action plan together. Everybody together worked on our new animation film plans and sketched. I could be a kid again plunging into the ocean of colours with Claire's paintbrushes. As always ended up crafting the same old Keralan landscape familiar to heart...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My flatmate and brother, Tanweer Ahmad told me that I sometimes end up degrading myself in front of others while going to all extends of making friends. He said this to me on the day after Halloween party night at university. I asked him “How?” He said, “I don’t know, but in your drunken state, yesterday night, you were communicating too much with that street musician.” After hearing this I asked Tanweer, “Can you remember his name?” For that he nodded “No”. I asked Soma and Muzammil, who were with us then, the same question. The answer was still “no”. I said, “He is Tim.”

This is something crazy that happened with me on Halloween night. While returning back home after the party at late night we met this cello musician at Northumberland Street. He was playing music to the street for money. In my drunken mood I dragged my friends towards him and asked them to listen to him. I don’t remember everything fully but I do remember inviting young girls and boys who were returning home from various pubs to listen to his music. Tanweer told me that I created a crowd around him and made everyone talk to him. I was sitting with him and talking about his music until my friends pushed me away. He was as a warm and friendly gentle man to talk with. He then told me his name, “Tim”.

On next Friday, at 4.30 pm, on my rush hour from studio to the restaurant, I met Tim near Monument. I called him. We had a good chat sitting at the street again. He shared his life, experiences, music and most interestingly a lot of inputs about his other job – puppetry. He seemed so excited talking to me about himself. While leaving he gave me a card showing his puppet models and shared his phone number, promising that he will some day do music with me.

Yesterday I met Tim again. He smiled at me. He tried to remember my name “Let me remember your name, Aaaroon right”. I said “Yes, but you can call me Arun insteadJ”. He laughed. As usual, Tim was playing at Northumberland Street for money. Yet, he didn’t let me put any coins in his tray. On the other hand talked to me about his plans of buying a new mobile phone. Asked my suggestions on what model to get with the money he gathered. I felt so touched. Isn’t that true friendship? God gave me so many friends… He has no other business but shower friends all around me. J Well, God is definitely my best buddy. He is Eric, he is Tim. He is you…too…… if you are there in my life. Let me stay addicted to your smiles.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Choice to choose

Its 2.00 AM now. I’ve just finished watching one of my favourite film ‘Rock On’ with friends Soma and Tanweer sitting in my room. I’m not feeling sleepy yet. Today is a day I could learn two things about myself. The first is that my joy in filmmaking is not about the choice to make a film, but the choice of not doing a film. The second was that good feeling of hearing something from Pam, my friend Carlene’s mother.

I was chatting with a filmmaker friend from Kerala regarding a new concept I have in mind for a project that has possibilities of developing into a full-length film. He liked the concept and immediately responded that he can try getting me a producer and facilities to fulfil it, if I could do a compromise on script by changing it from my key idea of a theme centric story to a character centric story, where then the presence of a known actor can be explored for marketability. The whole idea of film is based on a very familiar English word. After a cup of a coffee I told him that I would rather wait with the same concept than doing a change. I did say this, “I'm happy that I still cherish the freedom of not doing this film”. My friend had a tough time to understand. He repeated the same question a few times, “What is that 'freedom' you are talking about?”

At studio after the screening of short film 'The Old Code' to cinematographer Chad, my friend Carlene’s mother came and told me that she recently purchased a collection of Laurel and Hardy after seeing The Old Code. She said that she never appreciated slapstick comedies during her younger ages and seeing Old Code was gaining her attention towards that genre. I naturally felt so blessed to contribute to the idea of Chris.

Life is all about choices and freedom of choices. I guess, the output follows on how sincerely one embraces his or her inner sense. I am now placed in the dilemma on a situation triggered by a phone call from Kerala. I hope everything end positive.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

System of chaos

Once while staying with my good friend Rayson at Camp Road Chennai, looking at the condition of our house and his room I argued that his disorderly nature has to be corrected. It was always been a situation of chaos and confusion for me there. For me everything was everywhere and nothing was anywhere. I told him that it is difficult to manage at such a condition together. Rayson was a person who threw stuff everywhere and I used to be the opposite. My mind is always indulged on some thought, hence I had to make it clear that my purse is at one corner and watch is at another corner. Every object that is related to me had to be in a specific place. If misplaced, that means, my day is gone. I strongly argued with Rayson that being systematic is very essential.

Rayson smiled and said, “Who told you that there is no system here? Chaos also has an inbuilt system. Ask me to pick up anything in this house, even a small needle. I can get it for you.” That was my first lesson on the system of chaos. Later I understood it through various experiences. I must admit that since then I always tried to correlate Rayson’s idea of the ‘system of chaos’ to a lot of other situations.

Looking at my country India, it is chaos everywhere. Probably, the only nation in the world that has so much of diversities to handle under the same rule. Naturally to place any system in place at a national perspective is not easy at all. I was actually trying to understand the very systematic Britain to the chaotic India. It is quite interesting to see that in India too things keep happening on time and according to the need, but not steady or systematic though. To be honest the most annoying thing for me here in UK is probably the lack of personal communications. Anything and everything end up in a call to a call centre.’ I agree that things do happen smoothly in UK through call centres. But there is something missing in between, the joy of eye to eye communicating with someone in person. In India too things keep happening... without any call centres but passing through various stages of chaos.

“Chaos has an inbuilt system”, today I agree with Rayson. System and chaos are two sides of coin – Choas has a system & the system has chaos too. Societies that live on chaos co-exists with the one that has system in place.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


Best evenings with my best friends... Swarna & Soma . I still keep calling Soma, Swarna :) by mistake, even now, since the time I have known her. Riding cycle beside Tyne river at Quayside is the most peaceful time today... It was nice touching the river. In fact I took a tiny sip of water, salty water. People say it is dirty... but I wanted that experience.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Coconuts..., But Where !!!

A few weeks back, one evening, while carrying some sacks of coconut on my head to the kitchen store of the restaurant for which I work, I thought about my village days. My father used to be so adamant that I must do everything by myself. He used to leave me at our ancestral home on weekends to take care of the farm. I used to spend a lot of time alone cleaning rubber sheets that had fungus or gathered coconuts, nut mugs, pineapples etc from the farm and carried on my head. He always used to leave the motorbike with me to go out and call autorickshaw to transport the coconut, pineapple or rubber sheets to the local store and do the sale. There were very few lucky Sundays that I could manage to finish work and return back home to watch the Malayalam film that started at 4 pm in television. Either I had to miss early morning Hindi film music program Rangoli or the evening Malayalam film, though I had an addiction for both. My Sundays had a disturbing end if by chance the electricity go off during my favourite program of the day, Surabhi at night 9.30 pm.

Though I hated the work at farm during my childhood, later I developed immense love for the art of agriculture. My stay away from home since the year 2000, never allowed me to have the same feel of soil and water again. But each time when I was at home on a holiday, my father made it a point to take me to the farm and get me involved in some activity. The agriculture scenario is not the same anymore as it was once. At those places where paddy or pineapples plants stood waving to the wind, there are concrete houses. I have seen this transformation in past ten years being an occasional visitor at my own land.

While carrying the sacks of coconut, I read the words written on that. “Made in Srilanka”. For a moment I was curious to know where there is any coconut exports from the land of coconut, Kerala. Producer to a consumer state- the transformation that is happening today could be an expensive scenario tomorrow. I must be blaming anyone including me for this. Where is that Arun who roamed around freely in the farm cutting pineapples and climbing nut mug trees? He had wounds on his hand caused by the thorny pineapple leaves. He always had sweat on his face. Last December before coming to UK, while I was at the village, I did climb a nut mug tree to the top chewing the flavour of its leaf.

With all my gains in life, I am sure I am missing a lot too… Yet in this journey of life, I have never came across anything better than watering a plant at the farm. Only for that feel, I do maintain a plant in my room wherever I stayed. There is a little money plant near my window that smile at me each time I sprinkle some water on her face.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Afternoon I got a msg from an young filmmaker named, Dwarakh Anath in Face Book,
"My short film "UNKNOWN" got selected to the final round in Minibox International Short filmfest.. You guys need to help me as every viewer counts me a hit.. so pls help me WATCHING THE FILM 'FULLY' and putting ur valuable FEEDBACKS. Thanks."

I truly enjoyed watching this film for the very peppy feel of the concept, music and dialogues. I could relate to it so well. Three months back, in Newcastle, I could save a love-relation that would have got spoiled completely because of distance. A friend who was at the point of break up, called me out for a coffee at night to have a chat about it. Her eyes were wet. Ironically, I was going through a similar state of mind. Yet, I told her a lot of things that came to my mind that I was been telling myself though my actual thoughts never came out as actions. While leaving back home, she told me that she could remember only one sentence that came from my mouth, "Poor fellow is busy and you are confused. If the one who knows him leave him today on a momentary thought and misunderstanding, who else would understand him tomorrow." When I said this, I hardly knew her boy friend. I also told her that, in case she is confident at her decision on break-up, that must not happen over an email or a phone call, but face to face on a friendly talk sharing what is going on in their minds so that they need not have to be hiding their faces from each other in future. The decision to live together was taken together, then how could one person alone decide on a break-up. Three weeks back, an early morning, I left her at National Express bus station, Newcastle for her bus to Heathrow for her flight to India. She give me a tight hug before getting into the bus and today I am so excited to know about their marriage in December, on a day that happens to be my birthday too. There is a crazy commercial film on dance, music and romance that came decades back in Tamil, where the guy tells the girl to count till ten before making her choices. That included the choice to hug him too. Though it sounded awkward then, today it seems to have some meaning to it. Decisions in life are always difficult to define. I can now reveal a weird habit I do follow during such tuff moments in my professional life. At the peak of a situation beyond my control, I quietly sneak in to the toilet so that nobody see me for five minutes and free myself of all cloths and make it feel "I came alone like this to earth without anything. I am not taking anything back too. Let me face this silently, sincerely." Trust me that always worked. I could look at the same task as a different person then. I am not asking anybody to try this, I know it sounds weird. If it is possible I would rather stand naked in the middle of an empty ground to make myself understand how small I am. My best friend, my twin soul and the parter of my loneliness, messaged me "Guess my body doesn't like me anymore. Don't know how long I can be with you. Please learn to live yourself." I said this, "Promise, I'll live for sure - laughing and making people laugh."

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Old Code

My best friend for past seven years, Deepu always says, “Macha, Be a villain or a hero, but don’t ever become a clown. I prefer me as a villain.” For that I always had this reply, “People can forget the hero and the villain, but not the clown. I would rather be that clown. I'm addicted to smiling and smiles.” Till date, neither he accepted my point nor I accepted his point. That was always been my relation with him. 100% a true Liberian-Sagittarian one. Our friendship happened from the college with his routine cigarette break outside the campus. Deepu and me are from two extremes fighting with each other on anything and everything, every single day since the very first day of our friendship. But the result of our togetherness was always been magical. At MCC we did projects together. The documentary we did on Bishop Heber Hall was more than a college project. It is the first video document on Hall Life in MCC. With the screening of our the film ‘Forever Heber’, at Heber Hall day 2003, we set a new trend of video screenings about Hall life in halls on their respective Hall Days, that is being followed religiously since then. From ‘Forever Heber’ we now reached ‘My Paper Boat’. Still busy in our arguments, strong as ever before. I was on phone with him, few minutes back. Blame it on our zodiacs - He is water and I’m fire. I do remember the same with my cousin Sharath too and somebody else who is special to me.

I wanted to write a blog on the film “The Old Code”, but after talking to Deepu his statement on clowns came to my mind. Even now I stick to my opinion and I thoroughly enjoyed performing as a clown ‘Lord Fredric Mongomery Smithers’ as called by the Director Chris and team. Well, more interesting was acting with my adopted daughter Char and brother Stuart, here in Newcastle. I also enjoyed being directed than direction, stepping down from all the tensions carried by director’s hat. Hence I had more than enough time on the set to fool around with everyone, the activity probably best suit me as my identity.

Of late, I had this realisation that most of my friends admire for me being crazy and goofy and expect me to be that way. For one or two months I was not been myself, this year. But the very moment I was back updating a status message ‘I scream, you scream we all scream for ice cream.’, I got a reply from a good friend “Oh God, you are back.” followed by the next one that gave me goose bumps “Walking with you grantees that I will have an extra year to live. You have no right to go.” More than understanding those comments on its surface level, it did realise me about my responsibility as an individual. It was a state of incarnation to recognize what I am probably good at and what I could be doing in future and what others admire me for.

Till now, I never pampered my sister, but she relate to me more with my craziness. Once at Dakshinchitra, while watching a dandiya performance by a Gujarthi community club, I saw my sister quietly following the steps in her mind. Without even telling her I pushed her into the group and asked her to follow what her intuition says. For the next half an hour she was dancing dandiya. Following her, a few other women joined from the crowd. My sister was silent while returning back, but she had a surprised smile on her face that I cannot forget for this lifetime. I have never gifted anything to my sister except for a few such moments and that is what she probably expects from me too. Two days back while returning back from the Hallooween party, late at night, I dragged my friend Soma to the middle of empty Nunsmoor Park and asked her to look at the stars. Well, how many of us are missing such views in life. we returned back touching all possible yellow leaves on the ground. At home once while the music of Yanni’s ‘Adiago in C Minor’ was playing I closed her eyes, spreading her hands, whispered in her ears, about my experience of watching the Atlantic sea from the tip of a cliff at Jurassic Coast. Soma did follow me so well, that she said she felt the ocean in front of her. I was making fun of her saying, I must teach her fiancĂ© the same trick to take it to another level :).

Actor/writer Srinivasan once said, “ The characters's tragedy is what we call audiences’ comedy.” My role model Chaplin (Deepu hates me for that) said, “I wish to cry in the rain so that no one see my tears.” I am not satisfied as a performer or an individual unless and until, I could make someone special smile… that might not happen ever again in life.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


In my last module on Film Studies, Gender and Sexuality in Cinema, I have done an essay based on the study of three short film on eros, in experimental omnibus film titled 'EROS' by three directors Wong Kar-Wai, Steven Soderburgh and Michelangelo Antonioni. All the three directors had their varied view on love, lust and eros in cinema. My introduction to the essay is as follows,

Love and Eros are paradoxically two widely contrasting yet closely connected terms. Love can be erotic but all that is erotic need not be love. There always remained the question that whether or not an erotic art form is also a representation of love. Victorian semi-nude sketches and paintings to the old historic sculptures crafted on the postures of sexual pleasure based on the book Kamasutra are considered erotic, yet a true representation of affection and love. The French film critic and filmmaker Ado Kyrou, in his book ‘Amour-Erotisme Et Cinema’, argues that the traditional ideology is based on the isolation of tender love and respect from lust and libido.

The new short film ‘Love’ that I shared in facebook was a deliberate attempt to understand the perception to the above-mentioned notion on EROS. Since the moment I wrote the essay, I was thinking on how differently people think about a lovemaking scene in film. ‘Love’ was a little experiment with the audio-visaul art form I strongly believe in. I’m sure I’m not causing any public or private harm. Neither the film had protagonists who are naked nor there is an erotic seductress in the film. There aren’t any explicit sex sequences, except of half lighted floor and camera angle that is contributing the voyeurism of audience, a poetic rhythm and a piece of music to which the performer react to his guitar as his partner in love.

Love: A chapter and a metaphor to Love. It is an attempt to realise a virtual ambiance of love. Thanks to my flatmates for sharing thoughts on this. I have reasons not to title it Lust. Good experiences make it a divine feeling called love and the bad ones make it devilish lust. Love is when mind and body together REACT and lust is when the body alone 'ACT'.

I guess this is one of my most successful lab-experiment, with lighting, music and performance, looking at the variety of comments I received. A lot contributed to what I read and wrote in the essay on EROS, and I find it true too. Thank you guys. It was a excellent learning experience.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beyond colours...

“I was hurt when someone told me that a shot in the film I worked was fantastic. He said he was so thrilled at the camera angle and lighting of that particular shot.” Cinematographer Madhu Ambat told the audience. I was attending the Lights On session at Sathyam Theatres, Chennai two years back. For the surprised look of audience he continued “It was like saying “wow” that particular line in the novel was so touching. Until cinema is treated as a complete art work, what is the point of praising one shot and its excellence? As a technician I was happy but not as the creator.”

My cinematographer friend Anbu very often says “Machi, the chain of beautiful frames I see in a film is such a torture, after certain point of time. Is life that beautiful as they represent in films? Definitely no, then why do we create such spectacular visuals? ”. Listening to them, I learnt a lot from the veteran and the beginner on equal levels. Both of them are right. Recently I read the same from texts on Neorealist filmmakers and French critics. Last week my Professor, Dr. Jamie Sexton was taking a session on how IMAXs came decades back and how it failed to continue to excite people after the initial excitement. IMAXs are definitely back for sure. But I bet it will stay as a powerful medium only if the cinema remains an authentic piece of art and not a visual spectacle made only for that.

Without knowing anything about cinema, during my college days I asked Anbu whether the theatre can be in the shape of an egg and the audience can feel the screen all around them as if the are in reality. What if the theatre make you feel like you are in a battle field and from one corner a horse rider approach you and shoot an arrow right above you to the other end of the space where his opponent warrior stands. Even today I would like to see a cinema like that, but if and only if it is rooted on aesthetics and principles true to its essence and common sense. I am not talking about rules, which I never believed in. For that matter I dont think any art is cocooned inside a set of rules.

All that disturbs is exaggeration beyond imagination, as long as an art claims to be the representation of societies, cultures and landscapes. My say has nothing to do with fantasy tales. I am still an admirer of comic books. Still read the Malayalam children magazines Balarama, Poompatta, Bobanum Molliyum and Pico classics with the same passion and enthusiasm with which I read them in my childhood. I still do watch Walt Disney cartoons and fantasy films. I was watching the Padmarajan film Njan Gandharvan with my good friend Soma yesterday. It was still a magical experience, like a dream that leave you dream more... Andre' Bazin's concept of realism was very interesting to hear. Professor said that in Bazin's point of view cinema has a privileged relation to realism.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010


It was so exciting to talk to Sundar today. When I called him, he was in bus passing through the village Dusi, where we together documented the Tiraupati Amman festival last year. He too got so excited and shouted back, “I was thinking of the devil and there u r on phone talking to me. Is it magic?” What more to say, “I do miss you brother.” I remember the terrace of that lodge we stayed in Kanchipuram when you first talked to me all about ur life and hugged me tight with tears. That was the first time you called me brother. The afternoon when I left NFSC, I knew that you just vanished for lunch only because you could not see me leaving. It was on purpose that I didn’t go finding you to say a Good-bye. Sundar is the best ‘people management’ person I had ever met. He can be emotional at various levels, but at the same time he can perfectly balance the levels of it to the practicality and situation. He is so talented at reading the mind of the people who he works with. A perfect quality for community based projects.

The village Dusi was our first field trip together, when we hardly knew each other. Interestingly, on the second day of the field trip I called the office and said I have a serious problem working with him. Ironically, on the third day I called again to say that I would like to continue to work with Sundar. What I understood from the first day was that before doing research work with Sundar, I must do my basic research on Sundar. Thus I took him to the open terrace of the lodge at night and talked to him holding his hands. The rock melted. In an hour, I understood who is Iyer, who is Sundar and who is Manivannan, thus that man who is admired by people with all these names.Since then we were together since I left NFSC. We worked day and night, travelling like nomads in search of the essence of community we worked with. His ‘little’ presence was important than his ‘complete’ presence. While shooting the festival he used to vanish from the spot for many hours, but the moment I was tired and in need of a quick nap, he were there behind me smiling, to take over the camera.

Though a lot of hick-ups happened between us - A LOT OF TIMES - I always considered him as the leader of the project every time we travelled to work with a community. Hence in all documentaries I did with him, I have him credited as co-director without measuring to what extend his contribution was, as strongly believed that none of those films would have shaped so well without his skills with people and community.

Sundar’s experience of working with the people helped me a lot to mingle with the community. He knew how to get the right result from the mind of a person. I used to leave him as the interviewer stepping aside as a cameraman coz it was great watching him doing that with perfection. In case he missed something, I just had to give a little hint for him to grab the question. Moreover he equally understood the commitment we had for the community and artists as we went on studying them. More than an ethnographer, being a humanitarian is equally important while working with a community. He had seen the struggles of Therukoothu artists throughout his life. Those months when they have absolutely no performances, they live on the little wages from other jobs. As I have seen, it is the passion that drives most of the artists to their art more than monitory benefits. But it was difficult to understand who were actually in need and who were not. For Sundar I did frame a few funding proposals to help the artists. Still there were many occasions that I felt Sundar behaving like a rock to some people’s emotions and tears. When I asked about that he said, “Not all those actors are poor and needy. You need to recognize the actors of life too. Let us support the needy not the greedy.”

There is good example of his intelligence in this space. After documenting the festival at Dusi we promised that we would give a copy of the whole 44 tapes we shot at the village. According to the promise, we went back after a few months. Interestingly the villagers themselves had forgotten about our promise to them. When I was about to handover the DVDs to a well-known person in the village, Sundar called me back and announced to the entire crowd that there would be a ceremony at village temple where NFSC would be sharing the whole 44 tapes to the village-head in the presence of all villagers along with the screening of best moments of the event. He also announced that if anybody wants to see the videos in future, they could contact the village-head and collect it for free. I was shocked about the plan of such a big event, but then the last line Sundar said made me realise his logic.

On our way back Sundar said, “Why would we let one person have the control of all DVDs. What if he put it for sale and makes money for himself alone? Moreover after a ceremony, every villager would be confident that we were not trying to exploit them.” Dusi is now a home for me because of Sundar. There are a lot of people who recognize me there. I do remember that little girl who walked with me to main road, asking me to take her as a sister to Chennai.

In Chennai, Sundar was always “Sundar” to me and I was “Arun Sir” for him. But the very moment we entered the vicinity of Kanchipuram I called him “Iyereeeee…” He then gave a quick grin and then switched on to a fake serious look and said, “Deiii…”