Life, one movie at a time!

Of late I’ve realized that my love for cinema has grown by leaps and bounds in Mysore. Having a multiplex across the flat (or what we call a Chummery) certainly helps, but there’s also a feeling that my appetites have changed and what excites me more now in cinema is not the same it was a few years back. And trust me, there has been a seismic shift in my preferences. From heavy critic appreciated stuff, I now look only for fun!

I’ve always felt that the Journalist Jai Arjun Singh has maintained a great blog, in fact it was one of the early influences that made me take up writing back in 2009. A lot of his work. Is on cinema, and it’s actually a treasure trove.

All of these feelings can be over-simplified and encapsulated in two words, ‘Growing Up’, but there’s something more to it. While I love cinema from across the world, I was advised by a friend recently, that blog posts shouldn’t be as ambitious as the previous one, so this post will be dedicated to Indian Cinema. So, all the Oscar winning movies, you’ll have a post for you soon too!

In my previous post, I’d written about Swades being an all time favourite movie, and while that still stands, its a feeling that’s emerged from my ideals, and not from what entertains me. But this post is going to put ideals on the backburner and just take you through some of the movies I’ve found extremely entertaining.

21srk12

Some of my early memories of Movies are at the Sapna-Sangeeta cinemas in Indore, and two movies I distinctly remember watching are Jurassic Park and Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. There was a different feeling about going to the cinemas once in while with parents, in those single screen theatres. But the real movie buff in me woke up somewhere in class 9, when I was studying in Bombay. It was somewhere around that time I saw Shahrukh Khan’s Main Hoon NaaA Cheesy, masala, bollywood flick had me thoroughly having a blast, and even today, whenever it is on television, I make an attempt to steal a glance at the stunning Sushmita Sen. I think her character in the movie set expectations really high for any teacher I was ever to encounter in the future. Needless to say, no one ever lived up to them! What made the movie appealing was the fact that it was a lot of fun. And while a lot of movies such as Lakshya, Khakee and notably Mani Ratnam’s Yuva came around that time, Main Hoon Naa remains a treasured memory.

gur15e

A few years later, as I was in my initial college days, I finally saw a Mani Ratnam movie for the first time that I was able to comprehend properly. Guru was a movie that introduced me to the genre of Biopics, and business leaders, but two things I loved about the movie were the opening credits, with names being printed on polyester, with Maiya Maiya in the background, as well as the inquiry conducted by Roshan Seth. Simpy brilliant.

As I stepped into college, a lot of my personality was shaped by choices of the peer group who liked offbeat cinema, and treated Indian Cinema with disdain. Peer pressure gets to grown men too, and I was an 18 year old teenager. So my fondness for movies such as Dabangg, 3 Idiots and Taare Zameen Par became hidden secrets, as I rattled of names like Fincher and Aronofsky, while secretly watching entertaining Hindi movies too.

As I started working at GE, there was not a lot of time I spent on watching movies, but some movies like Rajneeti did catch my fancy. Another movie I thoroughly enjoyed was Vicky Donor, which, I’d seen with the entire GE team, and it was followed up with a sumptuous meal at Karim’s. These memories become etched in your minds, because there were so many shared jokes and laughs, which made the experience a worthwhile one.

Time flies, and I moved to Bombay, where, slowly, now I think of it, the change in the kind of movies I like watching started happening. I was a member of the Placement Committee back in college, and I started looking at movies as a way of releasing stress. Somehow, it wouldn’t feel like a movie, if the ending credits did not have a big smile across my face. And as I started working for ITC, that belief has only been reinforced more and more. Having seen almost all movies that have come out in the recent weeks, Pyaar ka Punchnama 2, Neerja and Piku remain special.

m_id_391566_yehjawaanihaideewani-1

I spent the afternoon today watching Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani for the first time, and I finally agree with the people who’ve told me it is unadulterated fun. Had me smiling from end-to-end, with small poignant moments once in a while. And to top it all, it had Farooq Sheikh, someone whose acting I’ve always liked, had one of his last performances in the movie. A happy, yet thoughtful, free spirited, yet based on friendships kind of a movie, it had me miss, recap and reflect on a lot of things in life. Have I had the right amount of fun? Every refused party, cancelled trip to a bar, unrealized holiday plan feels like a lost opportunity. And with the spectre of a six day week looming large over my head for the foreseeable future, it seems like there are going to be lesser opportunities of having fun.

Maybe, there will be a day when I’ll quit the trappings of a corporate job and make moe time for myself. But until then, the next Sunday belongs to a jar of Nutella and the movie Tamasha (Yes, I’ve not seen it yet!).

‘Yaadein mithai ke dibbe ki tarah hoti hai … ek baar khula toh sirf ek tukda nahi kha paoge’ – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

We, the People.

Today was an interesting Sunday, a day that gave me some time to peacefully think about a few things in this post.

After a very long time, I had a conversation with a close friend that I really enjoyed. From favourite movies to work, weddings, it was an hour of bliss. Probably, the only thing I miss in Mysore is a few friends. People close enough to share conquests, joys, sorrows and anxieties with. I live with the hope that 2016 will be kind to me, and send some fun people along.

But lets put all of that aside, and come to the point of this post. I saw my favourite movie today, Ashutosh Gowariker’s Swades. A 2004 film about an NRI who comes back to see what India really is. A movie that I try and see once in a while on a Sunday when I have the time. (Not to forget, the movie is 3 Hours and 7 Minutes long, so watching it as often as I would like is a luxury I do not have.) A movie so entrenched in us, that almost every time people do a triple ride on a scooter, it is inadvertently referred to.

 wall_1024x768_9

India is much different from what it was when I first saw the movie in 2004. And so are Indians. Having been in a generation which knew about the existence of villages and associated hardships, the movie was believable, and a reminder of how the villages of India are. Back then, I would also visit my ancestral village way more often than I have in the last 12 years, and somehow, the Village Halwai (Ram-bharose, If I remember his name correctly) and his Samosas still bring fond memories. Memories of watching my Grandfather and his friends play a game of cards in the porch of our residence, the village children, running and screaming behind my father’s car screaming ‘Collector Sa’ab’  playing cricket with the children of the neighborhood are still fresh in my mind.

When I see the Indians of today, growing up in Metropolitan cities, oblivious to the realities of the country, it makes me feel uneasy. Maybe, a few months back, I’d also conveniently forgotten the fact that there are millions of people, without access to basic amenities in every part of the country, divided by caste, creed and religion.

In one of my assignments with ITC, I’d visited a few villages in the Mysore region with my colleagues and it was there where I felt that the convenience with which I’d forgotten what India truly is, even today. With multi-million salaries, cities that have every comfort imaginable, we have become a generation that only knows of issues that are #trending. Somewhere, I feel that we’ve become a generation that is using technology and progress to become increasingly amnesiac and blind to what our duties really are. Yes, Odd and Even was important, but so is the plight of millions of malnourished children. Warming ourselves up with a shot of vodka at Hauz Khas Village in Delhi winters is what we all love, but what about the thousands freezing in winter shelters?

11822336_10153524056814222_5511330479660821967_n.jpg

At this point, my head is more full of questions than answers. What am I doing to make a difference? Am I really making a difference? What can I influence others to do? Why do we check if NGOs where we contribute are entitled to IT exemption under section 80 (G) of the Income Tax Act? Where is the Indian in all of us? The Indian, who stood behind the Mahatma as he peacefully drove Britishers out of India. The Indian who helped heal the wounds of the Partition. The Indian, who told Governments that merely a dynasty does not give them power to be self-serving. The Indian who is resilient, strong and caring.

As we increasingly become a part of this hashtag generation, somewhere I feel that we’re leaving a lot of people behind us. There always have been two Indias. the India of the haves, and the India of the have-nots. But there always was a connect between the two. But somehow, I now feel that these two Indias are strangers to each other. From We the People, it’s soon becoming Us and them. And somewhere, the Indian in me wishes that it is my thoughts on the subject that are incorrect, and it is not reality. There is a cry of anguish, somwhere deep inside, and I’m scared that it will die out some day, like a candle in the wind.

 “Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity”

–  From the Preamble to the Constitution of India

Ishiguro’s Love

” When we are scattered, afar and asunder,
Parted are those, who are singing today
When we look back, and forgetfully wonder,
What we were like, in our learning and play
Oh, the great days, will bring distance enchanted,
Days of fresh air in the rain, and the sun
How we rejoiced as we struggled, and panted,
Echoes of dreamland, Hailsham lives on. “

–  Rachel Portman,  Never Let Me Go OST.

The lines above were not written by Ishiguro, but they are exactly like his writing. Because Ishiguro’s writings about love aren’t complex, but so simple, they’re heart rending and they’re funny and they’re inexplicably tragic.

A post by a friend on Social Media prompted me to open all my Ishiguro’s and give them a read. And somewhere between ‘When we were orphans’ and ‘The Remains of the Day’, this post was born.

For the uninitiated (Oh, poor soul you’ve missed out on life itself!), Kazuo Ishiguro is a Japanese-British Novelist, the winner of the Booker Prize in 1989 and the author of seven wonderful books, some of which I’m going to talk about today. Two of his books have been made into excellent movies, The Remains of The Day, by the fabled Merchant-Ivory productions, and Never Let Me go, by Mark Romanek.

The Remains of the next few months?

The Remains of the next few months?

Ishiguro’s writing style is unique. Instead of consciousness awakening to the natual world and its immediacy and immutable nature. subjective memories and thoughts are opened, in a way, layer by layer to expose consciousness. His writings are like ramblings that try to fill the wide chasm of existential angst that has opened up in a being, like a sinkhole, sucking everything, even you, into the vortex.

Ishiguro’s Love is the most pristine, pure and beautiful ever written. Man is often destroyed by the ideas upon which he has built his life. Sometimes, I think we are so occupied by the “greatness” we wish to achieve, and this notion breeds deep resentments for anything that comes in the path, and it is the inarticulacy of emotions that destroy love.

Ishiguro writes the most nightmarish novels I’ve ever read. I read these books the same way as I wake from a disturbing dream with feelings of disorientation and anxiety. Ishiguro says that love has a proper time, a time that may be lost or missied, and then, the rest of our lives we’ll spend wondering. what could have been. That’s  thought which is nightmarish and Ishiguro tells us this with simple sentences, from the words of Stevens, or Kathy H. Very few books can evoke the feeling of Despair. The kind of despair that makes you want t break things, or go out for a run so you can let out the agony bubbling inside you.

The Master Storyteller

The Master Storyteller

His books are about the near impossibility of our being understood by others and yet our endless desire for such understanding. His books are always written in the simplest of prose, but reading them isn’t easy. The beauty of his books is not in the plots, but in its execution.

I’m writing this post in the morning after having a vivid dream, which was very disturbing. It was my subconscious, watching me make all the wrong decisions I did, and all the mistakes I made and struggle helplessly, because the outcome of future events that would transpire were known. It never occurred to me that those people, with whom my life was interwoven, could unravel with such speed. If only I’d known, I’d have kept a tighter hold of them. Being in that dream was like being in an Ishiguro book. Descending down the flight of stairs where she told you, you weren’t the one, and resolutely walked ahead, her steps growing longer than yours till she was past the the horizon. Like those memories buried deep down, where people would sit on rooftops, hands together, their silhouettes drifting apart in dim light, and talk of there being the right time, the right place, the wait.

And then suddenly, when everything falls apart in front of you, you realize what Ishiguro’s Love is. This post is also a commentary to Meera & Vikram, two characters I frequently write about in different settings, two people, who are inexplicably, to their own misfortune, in Ishiguro’s love.

I’m very jobless these days, and this solitude I’ve grown to like. I like curling into a good book, and knowing I’ll have my daydreams, a cold breeze, and test cricket commentary for company.

The Timelessness of Hindi Music

So the last two posts have been works of fiction, and just for a bit of a change, here’s the latest idea that caught my imagination. As my friend Anurag and I were sitting and listening to old Hindi Music (Hemant Kumar, Mohommed Rafi, Geeta Dutt, and the types), when we started talking about the actors, the cinema and what made movies of that bygone era worth a watch.

Concerts and Names of a bygone Era

Concerts and Names of a bygone Era

This takes me back to the days when I’d sit with my mum and try and figure out what kind of movies did she like when she was young. While my mother’s favourite star remins Amitabh Bachchan, she’d always find my interest in Black & White movies surprising. Her obvious questions would be, “Why’re you bothered with things way before your time?”

Conversations with my Dad would be a little different. He’d tell me stories of how Guru Dutt’s acting would be something the new Khans and Kapoors could not even come close to.

So, after recapping these conversations, I thought, why not dedicate the post to the music Old Indian Cinema, and voices of the iconic performers who were able to draw hordes to theatres through word-of-mouth, and not retweets and favourites, paid previews and critic reviews.

I’ve seen quite a lot of Rajesh Khanna, and the way he serenades Sharmila Tagore in Aradhana is something all of us closet romantics would want to do, at some point of time. After all, there’s an honesty in the lyrics, an honesty that ‘Kaka’ conveys through slight shaking of his head, blinking of his eyes, and fighting for the wheel of the Jeep with the famous character actor, Sujit Kumar. A song that wouldn’t even be areound if R.D Burman and Kishore Kumar wouldn’t have collaborated together to come up with one of the most timeless tunes, ever

The Rise of a Star.

The Rise of a Star.

Another favourite was the movie Anand, where it is said that the superstar Rajesh Khanna realized that the next superstar was waiting in the wings, as Babumoshai. A transition that was poetic, with Amitabh Bachchan following up his stupendous performance in Anand with the angry young man in Zanjeer a couple of years later.

Hai Apna Dil, to Awara

Hai Apna Dil, to Awara

But if we rewind the clock a few more years, some beautiful music was pictured in Black & White on Dev Anand. A man who in the words of my grandfather ‘could light up souls with the mischievous twinkle in his eyes’, was a fantastic actor to actually watch. One of my favourite songs with him is ‘Hai apna Dil‘, where Dev Anand brings an entire train compartment to life by singing to Waheeda Rehman, with the beautiful melody of a mouth organ as the only distinctive music. A song sung by Hemant Kumar, there’s a nasal twang, along with the unadulterated Indian accent that puts this song above the songs that star our contemporary artistes.

Lakh dukhon ki ek dawa hai..

Lakh dukhon ki ek dawa hai..

A lot of us would have heard of the ‘Champi’ song starring Johnnie Walker, sung by Mohammed Rafi from the movie ‘Pyaasa’, a Guru Dutt masterpiece, but few of us know, that Johnnie Walker got his name since Guru Dutt loved his acting of drunk characters and named him after his favourite whiskey. Johnnie Walker being a teetotaller was a small detail Guru Dutt chose to ignore.

Since we’re talking about Mr. Walker, another song that all of us will connect to is ‘Ye hai Bombay meri jaan’, which resonates with all of us even today, trying to make it big in this city of dreams. After all, how different are we from Johnnie Walker on marine drive on a tonga singing away to his fortune, his misfortune and the indomitable human spirit, and the indomitable spirit of Bombay.

Cinema. At its best.

Cinema. At its best.

Kishore Kumar’s versatility has never needed introduction, but if you really want to see it on the screen, watch this video, of him absolutely lifting your spirit, just through his actions, and making you want to fall into the old fashioned kind of love. The love of the fifties, not the simple excuse that Aditya Chopra and Co. sell us today, for a fortune. A beautiful song from an iconic movie, it makes you want to spend an evening with your rain drenched sweetheart in a garage, doesn’t it? With the perfect increase and decrease in tempo, like crests and troughs that come together like a range of emotions in your heart, its a song like no other.

‘Mili ek ajnabi se, koi aage na peeche, tum hi kaho ye koi baat hai?’

When you look at legends like Guru Dutt, Meena Kumari and Geeta Dutt, their genius could never ever get them to have a happy personal life. All three of them died near their forties, consumed by alcohol, depression and a lack of love in their lives. The love that they so effortlessly portrayed on screen through, was never present in their lives. Guru Dutt was a strict disciplinarian professionally, but never maintained it in his personal life, ultimately dying at his own hands. Similarly, Meena Kumari’s life was a tragedy, that she tried expressing in poetry, but it never gave her an escape the way alcohol did, and she died a few weeks after her masterpiece, Pakeezah was released.

Just to save the best for the last, I doubt there’s anyone who’s not heard ‘Pyaar Hua Ikraar Hua‘, in the simply stupendous voices of Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey, with the acting brilliance of Raj Kapoor and Nargis giving unforgettable images to the melody of those words. Simply magnificent.

There are so many legends, so many movies I haven’t even seen, and this post in no way does any justice to anyone of them, but by writing about them, maybe I’ve been able to adequately express what I feel about them.

A birthday, not too far back!

A birthday, not too far back!

I’m also going to use this post to wish a belated Happy Birthday to one of my closest friends, oldest confidantes and the person who can guess my likes and dislikes with surprising ease, because they match as much, and she likes them as much as I do. Right from Authors, to Music, to the choice in drinks, its all the same. And all brilliant. She’s been a strong bedrock in my life for the past few years Here’s to many more years of awesomeness.

Happy Birthday, Annima.

To close this post, I’m gonna insert 3 videos, which are my absolute favorites. Do listen to them when you can!

1. Hai Apna Dil To Awara – Solva Saal (1958)

2. Mere Sapno Ki Rani – Aaradhana (1969)

3. Pyaar hua Ikraar Hua – Shree 420 (1955)

“Kehta hai Dil, rasta mushkil, Maaloom nahi hai kahaan manzil’

Patriotism and Humour

‘This is…a  large crisis. In fact, if you’ve got a moment, it’s a 12-storey crisis with a magnificent entrance hall, carpeting throughout, 24-hour portage, and an enormous sign on the roof, saying “This Is A Large Crisis”.’

– Captain Edmund Blackadder

Blackadder has, and will remain one of the greatest Comedies of all time. And the Fourth Series (because it was shot when the word, Seasons wasn’t as Popular) remains the funniest and the most poignant of all, in its brutal, yet funny retelling of the First World War. And that brings me to the subject of today’s post. And for all those who’ve seen Blackadder, while the humor does have racial / regional tones to it, in no way is it malicious or derogatory (mostly!).

I’m half way through a month long vacation, and, as expected, I’ve been watching a lot of TV. Now, before the Internet Police jump on me, and the supporters of our Prime Minister start reporting my post as anti-national, there’s absolutely no connection between Patriotism and Humour as I’m going to write about it. So please, go easy.

Honour , Glory & War

Honor , Glory & War

I happened to watch Fury today, and my, my, after doing cinema like Killing them Softly, and The Tree of Life, Brad Pitt felt, he needed to get his hands on a .50 Cal and let some rounds rip into Nazi scum. Excellently made, and a shining example of why the War Film Genre is a money spinner in the West, and non existent in India. While advertised with the Tagline Honor, Glory, War, honor and glory are short in supply in the movie. The crew’s morals are mutable, and the honor is non-existent. It portrays a violent transformation of Logan Lerman’s character, Norman, from an army typist, to a seasoned killer. A movie that is, in all aspects a finely made war film, but not a jingoistic advertisement for America. Their war-cry is not “This is a great adventure for the American motherland” or “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Hitler we’re coming, Berlin or Bust” but a very simple line which is “Best job I’ve ever had”

Overt displays of Indian Patriotism have, of late shifted to how much we hate the neighboring country, and not how much we look into our own failings as a nation. Case in point here being the reaction that Vishal Bhardwaj’s masterpiece, ‘Haider’ evoked. Heated debates, accusations that the movie was anti army, pro sepratism, anti India, pro India were found to be a major part of the repartee surrounding the movie. And if we look at the core argument which formed, it was mainly based out of strong jingoistic rhetoric. Nobody wishes to discuss, the simple truth, which is staring us in the face, that the insurgency put J&K back by decades.

Our nation needs to rise up, and take its place on the world stage, not by being a warmonger, or a nation ridden with distrust for a particular community. We have, of late seen Eunuchs (a wrongly maligned section of Indian Society) step up to stop Communal Violence in the borough of Trilokpuri in the National Capital, and we have seen violence re-emerge in another region of Delhi for the first time in years! This calls me to question the very definition of Patriotism we have assimilated. A lot of people in my generation had their first exposure to Patriotism through J.P. Dutta’s famous movie ‘Border’ and to a certain extent through his failed magnum opus, ‘LOC : Kargil’ and the same jingoistic emotions that form the crux of why a soldier fights a war, cannot be the crux of the reason why a civilian loves his country.

After all, they have to protect, so we can prosper. Our duty as citizens is to make the nation prosper, and not look for enemies within. The same jingoistic fervour, that serves the forces guarding our borders well, need not be how we view nationalism. As a very dear friend of mine, after reading a lot about Kashmir said ‘Our interests in Kashmir are strategic first, and national pride comes in later.’

And organizations are playing upon this card, simply have, on their own, decided to brand India, the nation, as Bharat. While nothing may be wrong here, I do believe that we are proud Indians, and staking claim to ‘Bhartiyata’ does not belong to any one group.

Now, since that’s done, I better run for cover.

Blackadder! The best, ever.

Blackadder! The best, ever.

The second bit I wish to write about today is Humour, and how the moral high ground has made people less likely to laugh. Jokes, historically have been cracked on the basis of idiosyncrasies of races, sects, groups and in a lot of cases, religions (Didn’t all of you, who watched Happy New Year, laugh at Boman Irani’s mother?). Any simple attempt to crack a joke today must be gender, race, religion and class sensitive, otherwise you’re branded a racist. . While I do not advocate the creation of a class divide or a gender bias through jokes, I also believe that everyone who makes fun of the amazing capacity Punjabis have for alcohol, or the anger a wife may have for a habitually late husband is not out of malice, but moment of humour. We need to start taking life a little less seriously. The racial divide and hate emerges, sometimes (especially among the young), when someone, takes a joke seriously. Heath Ledger immortalized those words, “Why So Serious?”, and maybe, they were probably the wisest words ever written for him.

“I remember Massingbird’s most famous case: the Case of the Bloody Knife. A man was found next to a murdered body. He had the knife in his hand. 13 witnesses had seen him stab the victim. And when the police arrived, he said “I’m glad I killed the bastard.” Massingbird not only got him off; he got him knighted in the New Year’s Honours List. And the relatives of the victim had to pay to wash the blood out of his jacket!”

– Captain Edmund Blackadder

Two Things.

Purgatory and Paradise.

‘Spiral path leads through the maze
Down into the fiery underworld below
Fire breathing, lead the way
Lucifer was just an angel led astray’    

Fact of life? There’s a good and a bad in everyone? If Angels can be led astray, aren’t we mere mortals? I was reading a beautifully written book by Manu Joseph titled ‘The Illicit Happiness of Other People’ which says that ages back, there was a war between good and evil, and good suffered a humiliating, complete, absolute defeat. Evil being, well, evil, split itself into two parts, evil and apparently good. Fair argument I’d say. There is no absolute good in the world anymore, with people giving into what is good for themselves, or what is good for society. But there’s always a loser, a victim, a disappointed man. For people like these, descending into the fiery underworld is not difficult at all. The Spiral paths, the mazes all clear up. Because the road to evil is not tough, its easy. It is Paradise that’s hard to find, and everyone must pass through Purgatory before that.

In search of Paradise

In search of Paradise

I have days when things get unbearably hard, or unbearably easy. Last night, a friend jokingly pointed out my lack of social interaction. While I’m sure she meant it as a joke, it made me introspect a lot of decisions I’ve taken in life, and all of them have been about running away from people, not talking about what’s in my head, and simply put, not forging those strong friendships or relationships.  Introspection is playing your own devil’s advocate, and its not easy. However, there’s always hope, for after Purgatory, there is paradise.

Rebecca, a haunting tale about  lady who faced her own demons.

Rebecca, a haunting tale about lady who faced her own demons.

For someone who spent a lot of his childhood growing up alone, I’ve found a lot of meaning in music, literature and movies. I’ve always written about love as a theme on this blog, because my notion of love is shaped from these. Bruce Willis dying to save the planet his daughter lives on (Armageddon), The fascination of Walter Mitty and his adventures (The Secret life of Walter Mitty), the craziness of the Manderley estate in Rebecca’s tale (Rebecca) or the brilliance of Atticus Finch (To kill a Mockingbird), these have all shaped me up into the person I am, in some way or another. Though I did get screamed at by Dad for reading Nabokov’s ‘Lotlita’ in my quest to apply meaning to life, I  have had some great experiences while reading. I immerse myself in the situation, such that the girl I have a crush on becomes Jamie while I see myself as Landon. Its a beautiful experience, the ability to see patterns in real life, the smiling to yourself at something endearing someone does, the walking alone humming songs by John Mayer while your insides jump with joy.

‘Who says I can’t be free
From all of the things that I used to be?
Rewrite my history
Who says I can’t be free?’

Everybody Dies.

Everybody Dies.

But then, there’s a catch. There’s a simple underlying philosophy to life, that most human beings are inescapably alone, and therein lies their tragedy. This is further reinforced by Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of Dr. Gregory House, where he simply says, ‘Everybody Lies’ and ‘Everybody Dies’, simply reinforcing Richard Yates’ thoughts from his masterpiece, Revolutionary Road. I’ve mentioned in a couple of my earlier posts how I find the movie ‘Love Actually’ one of the finest romantic movies ever, because it has this same theme of loneliness running though it.

I’ve been told that the Insides of my head are scary, but then, the demons are mine to face, and the purgatory is mine to trudge through, for the paradise is mine to find.

‘Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide’

Vacations, Redux.

True Beauty : From the Cover of Vikram Chandra's 'Sacred Games'

True Beauty : From the Cover of Vikram Chandra’s ‘Sacred Games’

The reason you see a beautiful woman on the left is because I wish to announce her as my girlfriend to the world. Met  her recently at a Reception Barack Obama hosted for me the other day. Right. How I wish the reception bit were true. As  a very dear friend of mine puts it, my palm shows strong indications of fame (or infamy, and knowing me, it’s probably  the latter). With regards to the woman, beautiful as she may be, my tastes are better, and different.

The photo is of an unidentified model on the cover of Vikram Chandra’s Magnum Opus, ‘Sacred Games’, and what I love  about this picture is how effortlessly it captures the beauty of the woman. No jazzy dress, no over the top make up, just  plain simple perfection. Perfection lies in simplicity. Harder to screw up when you’re just a very simple person, isn’t it?

After a hectic semester of having people around me, all the time, in committee meetings, in impromptu soirées, I’m  finally getting some time to myself, and while it feels alien, it’s in no way unwelcome. I’ve however had some beautiful  conversations, in the most unlikeliest of places and situations. Whether it be giving a pep talk to people before crucial  interviews, or it be staring up at the stars, talking about the sem gone by, I think I’ve had a few intense, gripping,  enriching conversations I’ll forever cherish and be grateful for.

The MBA season is kicking off again, and a lot of students out there are thinking whether they’re good enough or not.   Trust me, unlike IIT-JEE (yeah, I’ve been through the painful 2 years of Engineering Coaching, absolute nightmare), MBA   preps are simple. There’s no intellectual difference in people who score a 97 & a 99 percentile, in my opinion. However, the sins of your past shall continue to haunt you. For me, it was the grades I got in class 12, which did me in for a lot of colleges. I still managed to ace the CAT, get through a few top colleges like SP and MDI, and still choose TISS over the rest. This is not self glorification, but a realistic portrayal of the kind of influence luck has on selection. Your panel, your test, your atmosphere, none of it is under your control, only your preparation is. And writing these exams back to back can be tough, as one of my friends told me, that in her final year of college, going in and coming out of papers was what she found the toughest thing to deal with. And it can get nauseating towards the end. The same kind of questions, the same scramble against time, the intense amount of concentration needed for a mock, all of these things, simply put, are exhausting.

So, now that I’m done dishing out advice, I’ll go back to talking about vacations. Vacations are by far one of the worst times of the year for me. The lack of something going on to keep you occupied gnaws me from the inside. One day of being alone, and I’m already restless, have gone through one book at breakneck speed and have been looking for things to do around the house. Simply put, vacations suck. However, I also use vacations to cut off fro the world I’m a part of for most of the year. There are some times when you need to get away from everything, whether it be your responsibilities, whether it be your friends or whether it be your family. And unless people are persistent, I can be difficult to trace down. So yes, in a lot of ways, I’m a bundle of contradictions.

No boundaries of language.

No boundaries of language.

The last movie I saw was ‘Love Actually’. A little to soft for someone who writes entire blogposts about Pacific Rim & Marshal Stacker Pentecost (love that name), you’d think, right? But there are some beautifully wound up love stories in what I’d call Richard Curtis’ masterpiece. The one that struck me the most was Jamie (Colin Firth) & Aurelia’s (Lucia Moniz) love story where they fall in love across the boundaries drawn by languages. Sometimes, love can be so heart warming, that the inadequacies of the other person don’t put you off, don’t make you unsure, but more determined to carry on. Life’s gt a strange way of throwing up challenges, and humans have a stranger way of answering them.

Also, October’s been a good month for this blog, with this being the 4th post for the month. While not in the same vein of intensity as the other posts, I think this post talks about a different side of me. And why shouldn’t it? The real me is on Holiday.

‘I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
This is our lives on holiday’

Cancelling the Apocalypse, the TISS way

 ‘Today we face the monsters that are at our door and bring the fight to them.Today, we are cancelling the apocalypse!’

                                                                                 – Marshal Stacker Pentecost

Inspiring lines from the movie, Pacific Rim, delivered with absolute calmness, fortitude and brilliance by one of my favourite actors of these days (especially after Luther), Idris Alba, but more on that ahead. At TISS, we have a phrase, ‘building the context’, so lets do that, hall we?

There’s always been curious story between exams and me. I’m not very nerdy, and I get most of my studying done before exams. However,my creativity scales new heights in exams, with ideas, storylines, opinions coming into my head at an alarming rate. And before I know it, the book by Levin and Rubin is shoved aside, and here I am, typing away furiously towards the next blog post.

So what’s this about? Exams? TISS? Pacific Rim? A bit of all three actually.

This semester’s drawing to a close, and before we know it, the exams are upon us. However, there’s a difference in the exams of a masters’ course. No frantic running around for guidance, no fierce competition to be the class topper (yet). Actually, it a little more relaxed than the last few weeks when all assignment submissions were due, people were going crazy balancing events, classes and field work. Now that all of it has somewhat come to a close, we’re slowly spending time, prioritizing which subjects get us marks, and which don’t. In the words of my dear friend Damahe, we’re figuring out which subjects are, ‘Give Up‘.

I’m known to be a romantic in my beliefs, but I’m not going to call TISS life changing yet. Having said that, being at TISS is a decision I am very happy about. I have  totally new perspective about a lot of things, whether it be the various socio-economic problems plaguing our country, or how Human Capital is India’s largest asset.  Exams are known to be apocalypse for students all across the country, multiple times in a year, but we, like Marshal Stacker Pentecost are going to cancel it.

Del Toro's Kaijus

Del Toro’s Kaijus & Jaegers

That brings me to Pacific Rim. A brilliantly laid out monsters vs robots movie, with the entire world as Guillermo Del Toro’s canvas, this movie runs across the breadth of the world with Kaijus destroying coastal towns, from Sydney, to Hong Kong. Our saviors, the Jaegers fight them across the skyscrapers in cities and depths of the Pacific Ocean. Science fiction, thrown in with amazing action and larger than life visuals, what more could a boy want before his exams?

Del Toro with the Jaeger Pilots!

Del Toro with the Jaeger Pilots!

The brilliance of a neural bridge where Pilots use the left and right brain to control the respective sides of the Jaegers, adds a bit of emotions to what is characteristically a ‘boys’ movie. With an amazing background score written by Ramin Djawadi of Game of Thrones fame, I guess there’s not one moment in the movie where you’d like to take your eyes off the screen.

I’m having another show of the movie tonight, with a few of my closest friends. If you like Chicken, Coffee and Monsters, you’re more than welcome to join us. Who cares about exams anyway?

In the words of Marshal Stacker Pentecost,

‘Haven’t you heard Mr. Beckett? The world is coming to an end. So where would you rather die? Here? or in a Jaeger!