Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cockroach in Cocktail

Vaishaka Sandhye


Is there a better depiction of common man and his dreams in Malayalam screen, I really doubt. Leaving all the intellectual masks if there is one sincere outlook towards the very commonness of a basic Malayali mind, he is or she is none other than the one who lives on the joys of their reality, love and companionship experienced from their partner and a life fighting with the gentle truths of life. I can confidently approve on this song and its visualisation as the mind of a true Malayali. A very sincere song sequence without any exaggeration to the possible reality of the protagonists of the film. Kudos to the makers who realised it. One million times I personally felt, well why can’t my life be like this - simple and quiet, close to anything and everything that pulls me keeps me to my reality and inner essence.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Black Angel

“The novel that you are reading now isn’t about me.” Her hot breath whispered in my ears. I closed the book and turned to the thirst of her lips and thrust of her breasts. Another cold night perished quietly in her arms drifting me away from the warmth of my angel who stood awake talking to herself in vain. The practicality and reality of wife (life) kept clashing and colliding on the walls of a world only we understood. She, the black angel, isn’t a seductress but definitely not like my mistress who pressed more stress. The times I used to spend long hours looking at my wife's eyes and called them deep as ocean has faded away. Now it is my painful known truth that they are in deed deeper and treacherous as an ocean. We live together, if togetherness is only about the money we shared and the smiles we wore on every single day for past many years.

The history of black angel was still a mystery yet her misery, in a week, became mine too. I haven’t seen her but kept learning about her and her daily life. Her baby has no father, but she is breast-feeding him without questioning about his origin. Among the four (or more) men who shared her skin on a cruel night would never fight with each other to take her back to their life for that child. None of them would claim for fatherhood. She knew that fact. Today what is important to her is that fatherless baby than anyone else in this world. No baby can be born without a father. That is the reality. But in her case such a reality stays out of its value. Being a mother at the age of 16 and roaming in the streets for survival is her destiny - if destiny is the definition of all such disasters that has no specific solution or future.

I found her and took her with me last week as I knew that she was in need of my hands. To be honest, I bought her from the street in spite of my wife’s disinterest. Being a woman I thought she would understand her and spend some time with her and her little one. Instead of that she looked at her for a few times and laughed so wild. ‘The black angel’ was her biggest question. “How can a bitch be an angel and that too BLACK angel? Have you heard of an angel who is black?” she questioned me, as I stood silent holding the angel in my arms. I mumbled to myself, “Please, Oh please stop it. She is listening.” Since her arrival, I have learnt to believe in the purity of woman in its true sense. I adopted her baby as mine. He has a charm that my own children who are away in boarding schools don’t have. His smile is so beautiful. It is not easy to get hold of him as the mother always keeps him so close to her warm chest. Her dreams are about him. He is the reason for her very existence today. In her words, “At one point of time I kept the poison tablets in my mouth. Before I could swallow them I vomited revealing that there is a fresh tiny life in me and I am not alone anymore. Why both had to happen at the same time, I really didn’t know! I saw both death and life in front of my eyes. They both looked like twins and I heard a baby’s cry in my womb. Someone kept hands on my head and ordered that he is not a devil’s child but mine.”

On one occasion I was drunk with a BEST buddy talking all nonsense. He took my mobile phone and browsed through all the pictures and started laughing like mad. Then he told me a theory called ‘The ear-ring theory’. He said, “I can understand a woman changing her ear rings when they are single. But why do they have to do it after marriage?” I didn’t understand a shit. He continued, “Look carefully. Your wife is definitely an attention seeker. Even after having you in her life and having four children, she kept showing up with weird earrings. Brother, now listen to the great ‘Theory of Ear-rings’. Earrings do force attention on face. Amidst all the other women I noticed her face only because of her earrings. I became mad for her face because of her earrings. I made love to your wife because of her earrings. Don’t trust earrings.” He fell down on the floor and I fell down in front of me. I just walked out from the pub. It wasn’t his mistake but I left it as my mistake and assumed it as the mistake of her earrings. Even that night I slept with a seductress, my wife.

The black angel must have felt lost without my company. I dreamt about her whole night and woke up late with heavy eyes. The coffee was cold and the newspaper looked much older than me. It was clear that my wife was away. I didn’t care about her for the first time in my life but grabbed that muddy second hand copy of ‘The Blank Angel’ into my hands. Definitely she had passed through many such hands before reaching me. I really didn’t know where I stopped the previous night but continued from the page that opened in front of my eyes. There she was, smiling at me with her innocence, charm and purity holding her baby close to her chest. I kissed her tight.

I whispered to myself, "Yea, this novel is not about you- my wife."

On the back cover there was an image of the writer of 'The Black Angel'. He had a different beard and moustache on the back cover of his previous novel. Well, he does that all the time.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Skimstone- Exhibition, Screening & Awards

Doing


Doing is Art
Done is Achievement
Done is not the end
Doing is what I meant.

Photo: A man fishing at a temple pond in Bhubaneswar

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Acting Profile

Being a celebrity actor is not the aim, but to be the part of a good film realising a character that probably suit me is definitely one of the aims. I made this profile to send it to a friend who asked me for stills for a character. Thought I will make it appealing for him, even if it may not serve his purpose. I used a few stills with different colour schemes to suit the mood and expression - like authoritative green, cool blue, brutal red, earthy brown, vintage grey etc.- as used effectively in cinema to create mood.
I did the first bit of acting in school Nirmala when a set of seniors didn't find a candidate to do an old farmer woman character. They found me beside their makeup room and forced me to do that character. I didn't have any dialogue to deliver but stay at one corner doing the action of harvesting paddy. Thus stayed on stage for five minutes covered with mud holding a sickle.
The second stage performance was for a comedy play at Arena multimedia during graduation days in Hyd. Ironically it was again a female character but as the central character Anarkali. In the climax of play I had to throw away the Anarkali outfit and show that I am a man who came as an actor for their play. I just had to be quite natural on stage being freaky and goofy and it was hilarious to make people laugh. It worked well. I remember my best friends then, Yamini and Dileep following me to the changing room laughing and making fun. I remember Yamini shouting "Please let me in, Just want to see Anarkali one more time before he changes". Crazy goofy days. But that wasn't the best remark I had for Anarkali. Almost four years later I went to Hyd for a visit. There were no familiar faces in Arena except for an old maid servant of Arena. She recognized me and the words came from her mouth surprised me a lot, "Anarkali Beta, Kaise ho". (Anarkali son, how r u?). She remembered me as Anarkali, not with my name. Felt so good and gave her a hug. The image given below is of that performance.If you look carefully the old woman who is standing behind my character in brown sari on the steps is her. I found this pic in an old CD and kept it carefully coz of that memory.
I have acted in many of my own short films starting from My Mirror. I did it mainly because cheap benefits like I need not be paying myself for a role, I enjoy doing it and that I am never bored of undergoing any number of retakes to improve. But direction and acting together is really a painful task. The worst is when I have to handle the camera myself too. Well, I feel things are getting better these days and I am trying the best not to fancy doing characters that doesn't suit me but discover new actors around.
Recently at skimstone my friend Chris Hall forced me into a funny character called Lord Mongomery Smithers as his character had a Chaplin shade and he knew very well that I'm a hardcore Chaplin addict. Thankfully it went on well and yesterday for the screening at Newcastle Art Centre, I received good remarks from viewers from North East.Not bad, they laughed for sure.
http://skimstone.org.uk/yac/the-old-code
I really don't know whether I would ever take acting as a career but sure to continue to do it once in a while when someone offer a good character. More than anything else I thoroughly enjoy the process of it. I love the acting workshops at Skimstone and at MCC. Also remember a good day at Marathi Theatre club Sudarshan Rang Manchan in Pune once trying to do theatre exercises with young professional actors there. My director friend Titty told me to stop acting after my first short film 'My Mirror'. After 2-3 years he told me that if I have had a little more height he would have taken me for acting. But interestingly today he msged me in FB that he will have a role for me in a film sometime in future.
If life is to surrender for something then I don't want to live at all. Life might not take me to any heights but it will definitely make me better in confidence as a common man. So let me just act and live the moment now :P

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

With mad Naranath and a mad writer

Till today I have never heard a word from his mouth than his silent surreal deeds through which meanings are moulded. Peeping into his world is assuring that words are meaningless and language is at a lower level. Isn’t language a nasty tool forcing someone into a specific path murdering his ability for wider interpretations and innovations that signs and actions could have encouraged in man? It is said about film editing too. His actions speak louder than words. That looks like his philosophy.

He is a short dark man with lean body and no muscles. I am not sure whether black brown is his actual colour or not. He sleeps peacefully on the burning sand and hard rock as if the hot summer sun is a shade. Only the monsoons can give him a bath in the entire year. Those days he stays wet even for a week or more until the sunrays eventually suck the water drops to its collection for next monsoon. He eats like a beast when he is truly hungry unlike other human who are open to grab a feast at any hour of the day and chew betel leaves in between those feasts. He seems to compare the process of chewing the cud among all the specious. I heard that he once did the same with his Brahmin brother Agnihothri and the cow at his cowshed. He fishes for his own reflection in the temple pond when nobody is around. As he finally stands exhausted, the ripples too seems to stop their naughtiness revealing his image. He then smiles at his mindless-lifeless-hopeless lifelong companion showing his dirty teeth in the belief that he is still growing with his growing beard. That looks like his philosophy.

He weeps in happiness and laughs at sorrows. Ironically neither the happiness nor the sorrows are of him but of others. For that matter he hardly has any emotion or preconceived notion about anything. He never meditates to know the reason about his existence to himself or questions about his birth to his mother Panchami or breaks his head blaming his father Vararuchi. He always hesitated to accept his relation to all of them, as he actually had no reason to understand its meaning. Yet all his ten brothers and one sister knew its meaning and they all keep smiling at him with immense love whenever he appears in front of them. The only brother he can relate in its true sense is his last brother who died by birth, Vayillaakkunnilappan. The mouthless dead boy Vayillakunnilappan is the only one who talks to him and he does reply back in silence to all his silly questions. He too smiles - or rudely laughs - back to all the others fancying their dress, teeth, eyes or even their mouths stuffed with betel leaves. He seems to enjoy the way the green betel leaves turning red with the mix of lime, tobacco, arecanut and saliva. That looks like his philosophy.

He is not a dumb man though he keeps his silence in agitation to the words. There are a lot of wise men who heard him speak to himself or to just nothing on unpredicted occasions. Why I need to say just others, I myself have seen him doing it at various moments in our journey together. To be honest we never travelled with each other with such an intension. It’s written on my forehead that he is meant to be my co traveller for no reason. Today it’s written in this story too by the writer without any academic proof or argument about him or me. The story itself is the result of his escapism from that spiral staircase of arguments and proofs he is dealing with these days in his thesis on films. That looks like his philosophy.

Once the wise men heard him talking to goddess Kali of cremation ground. For some reason Kali was so impressed by some of his action. As he was trying to sneak out without a word she forcefully stopped him and told him that she cannot leave him without giving a blessing. He stood scratching his head for nearly seven hours. The impatient Kali was forced to stand quietly until he opened his mouth and said, “I need one day less in my life.” She was surprised. Shaking her head in a big ‘No, no’ mode she replied, “Sorry it's not possible by me. Ask for something else.” He didn’t have to think much at that moment, “Ok then give me one day extra to my life.” Kali didn’t know what to say, but she had no choice but to say no again, “Sorry son, boon for birth or death is not in my hands. Please ask for something else.” By then he was so irritated. He gave a nasty look at her as if she is such a waste and that she was unnecessarily trying to waste his precious time. Kali was adamant that he must not leave without taking one blessing from her. He stood looking up for the next two hours and then looked down smiling at his feet. He asked, “Mother, there is a little ailment on my left feet, can you shift it to my right feet.” On that moment Kali became confused. But from that moment he didn’t leave Kali until she actually gave him that blessing. With an ailment on his right leg he struggled to walk out of the cremation ground with a happy face. That looked like his philosophy.

As I keep climbing every single hill or mountain he joins me from nowhere. He smiles at my trekking costume and shoes. As I struggle to climb he too does the same alongside me pushing a huge rock with bare foot and bare hands. Naturally the smart I always reach the top faster than him. By the time I finish and relax with the water from Aquafina bottle or a cigarette he touch the top point with the massive rock dragged from the bottom of hill. As I throw the cigarette bud or empty bottle down from the hilltop, he too drops the rock with a wild laughter. As it rolls down faster and faster at each stage making loud noises through the surface of hill mocking back at the pain he took while pushing it up, he gets high with claps and laughs. That looks like his philosophy.

As always I have to say, “Naranath, you are MAD.” He then smiles with his dirty teeth.

“Well, I don’t know whether you are mad, Naranath” I always have to contradict with words. That was always been my philosophy.

I guess the writer also has no argument or proof to define our madness and analyse it like in his film theory and definitions. Today in his heart he is busy hugging her tight and travelling with her to her baby's grave. He started loving both. That looks like his new philosophy.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pravasam


Pravasam is actually a journey with the symbols of mother land in heart.

I designed this short film with the shots taken from my trip to Kerala & the poem was written during school days that has a little story of its own. I can share it with you some other time. :)

Life in the UK

It has been a year and two months since I came to the UK. Yesterday, my flatmate Tanweer and I had a good discussion about what we learnt or achieved from our life abroad after I received an email from British Council. I can confidently say that the last two years in my life was the most productive and creative time with regard to the academic and professional front. Leaving that apart I would like to talk about my personal life that took a new turning point, which I realised only during my visit to Kerala this January.

The simple things that I kept ignoring in yesteryears that I managed to adopt as the needs of today’s life here in UK seems to push me forward to be more confident on nearly everything that I was been longing to do in life. You might find it silly but I can bet that almost 80% of my confidence generated from a newfound love for cooking. In future I can be a loser at a lot of other places and activities but I am sure I will stay an achiever in kitchen. The most relaxing time I spend after work or studies is in kitchen with stupid experiments on what could be a truly new tasty dish. It is like painting or making a film. Well, the dishes might not fancy everyone but at least a few could have a positive opinion about it. J It’s been true about my films too. So far I haven’t followed any recipe. It is like writing without proper grammar and spellings or filming without script. I remember a long fight on phone with a good friend from English literature background Susan Deborah on my immediate and important need for a new word ‘fourbile’ or probably ‘frible’ in English that can follow the sequence of ‘single, double and triple’. Naturally it is not practical but I love this experimental way and I don’t think I ever looked for any takers whether it is film or food for good. I will give you an example of an experimental dish from the kitchen that my sister liked a lot - a curry with ivy guard, mustard, aubergine and boiled eggs. Have you heard of this combination before!

In spite of my dad’s words, I never thought of exploring ‘cooking-as-a-need’ for years, though I had all possibility for that during my stay in Chennai. I thought it could be time killer and hence wasted money at restaurants. Now that notion has been proved wrong. I cooked for my mother on most of the days I spent at home. I enjoyed intruding into her territory that she cherished for many years. For the food and me there were some interesting remarks from family. The funniest was my uncle’s, who said that he now truly agree and support to my plan of a single life as I proudly proved to him that I can cook a good meal, enjoy it and wash my plates all alone.

Let me get into my second achievement. I guess I have learnt to live with people now. From that loner of Chennai who was cocooned inside his own room marking it his only world, he had grown to a 99% social being. I used to believe that I could never share a house with someone else. For that reason I lived in a single room in Chennai for almost four years. Like my notion on cooking it is proved wrong. I am terribly happy with my two flatmates here who are more like brothers. I guess I was more selfish and self-centred during my lone life and I feel better with this new change. It feels good, funny and freaky.

This time in Kerala I designed the most satisfactory film I ever did, my sister’s marriage video. I was not with her on her engagement. On that day while video chatting with her she asked me for a promise that I would stay with her throughout the day of her wedding. I gave her a little plan that I remain at her side shooting her marriage video so that no one calls me for any other task. It worked and she smiled at me all the time I stood with the camera in front of her. Today, my parents know only two of my films - My Paper Boat (because of the prize) and Aakkutty’s wedding video. I feel more addicted to Kerala and my family than ever before. I realise the need of happiness as a family, for the family and I need to get back home for my parents.

Today if I feel confident to create something new at kitchen and share with my flatmates, I am equally confident to do a film and share with audience. Art of cooking and life with my flatmates surely contributes to all the films I probably do in future. I got an email from British Council that they are sending a certificate for a letter I wrote for a competition conducted on ‘Life in the UK’. I shared only the academic and work life that the judges of the competition called highly commended. What I never mentioned was the other learning in personal life and social life that I will cherish for this lifetime as my confidence.

I just cooked something quick for breakfast. Would you like to try? - A mildly spicy omelette with desiccated coconut, tomato and tiny slices of chicken ham along with a few slices of bread and a pint of Apple & Raspberry Squash. Give it a try…

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Oormayai


On my visit to Kerala, I found this video I did ten years back as a project for my course in Multimedia. Like everybody else my interest in film started with the idea of doing a music video. As I didn't know how to handle a camera then, the visuals were created in animation softwares like Flash and 3D Studio Max. Also a foolish attempt to make a song by myself. Kindly ignore it as an amateur's attempt.
My only creative partner for this video was the pune of Arena Multimedia, Vinay. He used to stay back until late night as I was stuck to the computer to finish this work. Late night, as everybody leave, we used to record in the silence using pocket Walkman and the basic sound editing software Sound Forge. After finishing this video - truly my very first video ever – we both sat down watching it putting it in a loop for at least fifteen times. Being a Telugu guy, he didn’t understand not even a single word in the lyrics. Yet I remember how much he cared for my love for this project. We used to close the shutters of Arena and walk home late night talking all nonsense.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Voices of Victims








While I entered the Clark’s Inn canteen for dinner, a woman of my mother’s age folded her hands with watery eyes and said ‘Thanks’ in colloquial Hindi. I had to struggle to make her understand that I came for that event only as a documentary videographer for a friend. Yet she continued, “Beta, the only thing I know is that you are doing something good. My son’s father is still alive with us.” Thankfully Kurup sir entered the room and she moved to him with the same words. I sat down watching at the struggle her husband had to put in to eat food.

I was in Delhi for two days in February with retired High Court Judge, Justice Narayana Kurup - who banned smoking at public places by law for the very first time - to videograph his speech at an anti-tobacco seminar at Deputy Speaker Hall of Constitution Club Delhi. It was an event titled Voice of Victims organized by two doctors from Tata Memorial Hospital in association with Salaam Bombay Foundation and Voluntary Health Association of India. The event saw cancer victims voicing their concerns against tobacco lobbies to the public, media and politicians.

More than anything else what fascinated me the most was the words of the wives of the male victims. They spoke boldly with their husbands who stood beside them covering their cancer-affected mouth, about their battle for survival. In two of my blogs I talked so passionately about the film 'Yesterday' and the African wife/mother of the same name as of the film who faced life with courage in spite of her illness of AIDs. Hearing each of them was like watching that film again and again; there are still more ‘Yesterdays’ around me that I am yet to discover. The woman who folded hands to me was one among them. There was so much of simplicity and courage that made each of them special. The men who cried standing beside them on the podium were real. Those women were real. I wasn’t seeing any cinema there. They didn’t generate any sympathy towards them, but hummed a new tone of life.

While travelling alone in the flight from Delhi to Chennai I had mixed feelings in my mind. There was immense excitement to see my best buddies from Chennai and to spend some lone nostalgic moments roaming in my most loved city to those good old corners that gave and took memories from me. It was great walking through the corridors of MCC with my twin-soul Swarna and having lunch with her, Deepu and Barath. Chennai changed but not the people. It was nostalgic to recollect the memories of Kanchipuram with Sunder who had a few tears when I left NFSC. He hasn’t changed either. As always, it was equally exciting to hear long intellectual words of Muthu sir and Mohanamma’s long chat about her two sons. I could make all of them smile the same way I used to. That was a success. While leaving I carried a wonderful photography book created by my good friends from NFSC, about the art form Sarikala Chhau. Later at home, I was glad to see my father seeing it with interest. Value of good work!

The next day I walked around searching for Hope Foundation at Medavakkam area to see my baby girl Joshna, but nobody in the locality knew the new location of the AIDs home. It showed the stigma common lot still carry for AIDs infected people. I remembered Joshna’s mother’s words about their struggle of relocation because of people’s behaviour.

I had to leave the search mid-way and return back for my bus to Kerala. What else I have had done.

After two days there was an exciting shoot on anti-tobacco campaign organised by Kurup sir, with the medium of traditional Kerala art form Kadhakali. The same day I had a very promising chat with actor Captain Raju who was so down-to-earth to voluntarily spend time helping me shoot Kathakali visuals.

Life’s journey… continues…

Saint

A tiny dewdrop that lost its grip over the leaf slipped and splashed on the laps of raw land. In seconds, it was sucked in silently by the surface leaving hardly any trace of its existence. Detachment is as addictive as attachment. A journey that never started has no ends to achieve too. The hermit stood static confused both at the hell and the heaven with a heavy heart. Can there be a story about him for the world? Definitely no… He is none other than a coward living calmly in claustrophobia accepting his incapability to differentiate the barrier between the rights and the wrongs. The truth is that his phobia is towards dreams and decisions. The clouds came down and touched the land only in his dreams. Actually there was neither a cloud nor a decision to determine an opening to his caved mind. A cocoon called ‘character’ he cherished as his confidence crushed bleaching all the beauties that surrounded him as success. It can be defined as the thinking time or meditation. After a few days, intelligence knocked him down setting him mobile. A journey that commences has an end to achieve too, though it carries certain curves and uncertain cuts. Can there be a story about him for the world. Definitely yes… Forecast of future is worthless… Let him live in sainthood with open eyes and open heart. Attachment is as addictive as detachment…

Friday, March 04, 2011