Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 30, 2010
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
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
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
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.
Sunday, December 05, 2010
“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
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.