31 May 2005
There are many games that have only two outcomes - one either wins or loses. Many games involve no risk. Some games are fraught with danger, but the probability of fatality is very negligible. In all these cases, it is easy to find out the motivating factors for the players. But, what prompts people to play games - as these guys did - that involve putting life itself at stake, and in which the probability of losing life is as high as 0.5?
A crooked understanding of the word adventure?
A tinge of insanity, even if temporary?
A combination of poor decision-making and high degree of adherence to the ideal of keeping one's word?
Displacement of the death wish?
Unreasonable fixation for fantasy and movies?
Some inexplicable bent for experimentation?
Escape from boredom?
...or, is such a proclivity determined by genes?
24 May 2005
I have known him all my life, and now he is lying dead. Everyone he loved are beside him, some watching helplessly and some in tears. His mother, with a shattered look on her face, is caressing his forehead just as she must've done when he was born. His dad, old himself, is holding his cold hand and pleading him to wake up. Just once, if at all. But he is immune to everything in the human realm now. The swift, infallible cut of Fate has now taken him into the infinite distance. His wife is sobbing inconsolably. His two sons are still trying to come to terms with it. Tears flow, hearts plead for forgiveness but nothing wakes him up.
He lived all his life with ideals. As reality continued to disappoint him, and he refused to part with his utopian delusions, the chasm between him and the world only widened. The ideals were someone else's, the beliefs were put forward by some ancestors, the insights were just concrete forms of the conclusions he had borrowed from dead thinkers - great or otherwise... in retrospect, like most others, he lived someone else's life. He lived someone else's life, but died his own death. To heck with the concept of immortal soul, to heck with life after death, to heck with salvation, to heck with God; nothing saved him from the utter loneliness at the moment of death despite with his loved ones beside. No courtesy calls, no SMSs, no e-mails, one vanishes just like that! Life betrays and Death doesn't give a hoot to anything. Yes, one vanishes just like that!
True, no worse shatterer and better enlightener than Death. One lives someone else's life, but he dies his own death. Better to live one's own life, else he may not have lived at all.
An inisght into Death gives insight into everything else - Life, love, relationships, etc.
Reminds me of the shot when Amitabh sings to the world in Muqaddar Ka Sikandar:
Zindagi to bewafa hai
Ek din thukraayegee
Maut mehbooba hai apne
Saath lekar jaayegi
May his soul rest in peace!
20 May 2005
One cannot put him in the same league as Satyajit Ray, but Mani Ratnam has his own style of filmmaking. Few would disagree he is the best in India today. Yes, some filmmakers - Ketan Mehta, Kundan Shah, Vinod Chopra, etc - started with great promise but lost their way. Shekhar Kapur is seen talking about making films more than actually making them. Aditya Bhattacharya had been making a film for more than a decade, and I'd be happy if it gets ready for the next generation. Nihalani doesn't come up with his magic touch any more. It's too early to say anything about Farhan Akhtar. Only Mani Ratnam has been consistent in maintaining excellence.
Astute camera work, brilliant screenplays, and inimitable use of music distinguish Mani Ratnam. And he is unbeatable at picturising songs. For all his skills, he has the knack of screwing up his work by minor and avoidable diversions and excesses. No wonder the National Award has eluded him thus far.
A brief take on his filmography:
Pallavi Anu Pallavi - forgettable
Mouna Ragam - compelling performances by Revathi, Mohan and Karthik. The take-off of the song 'Manthram Vantha' is like an ace in a tennis match.
Nayakan - the best movie India has managed to send to the Oscars till date. One of the best performances by Kamal, first-rate work by Sriram and Tharani. Such perfect screenplays come just once or twice in a decade.
Agni Nachatiram - although not quite acknowledged, this is a path-breaking movie, in that it made every filmmaker realize how important cinematography is for a movie. Ilaiyaraja at his best, brilliant screenplay - with some avoidable comic scenes though, and who can forget those songs!
Gitanjali - some of the best background scores of Ilaiyaraja, great camera work by Sriram again. Could have been just another love story, but Mani Ratnam's magic shows. Right from poster designs, the title font, the imagery - it's a lesson in branding.
Anjali - Ilaiyaraja excels again. With a baby as the centre, it demanded deft and innovative camera work, and Madhu Ambat pulled off brilliantly. Borrowed a lot from ET, yet did it leaving no room for complaint.
Dalapathi - more a Santosh Sivan's movie than Mani Ratnam's. Ilaiyaraja again comes up with great scores. A couple of songs are, not surprisingly, visual treats.
Roja - screenplay stands out. Made measured use of mush to good effect. Outstanding work by Santosh Sivan and, yes, Rahman.
Thiruda Thiruda - fun movie, for a change. Some impressive numbers by Rahman, and equally good work by Sriram.
Bombay - excessively mushy. Disappointing work, going by Mani Ratnam's standards. Managed to attract good acclaim though.
Iruvar - brilliant script, impeccable camera work by Santosh Sivan. Intricate storyline and screenplay made it difficult to follow.
Dil Se - passion runs from the first frame to the last, in the lyrics, and Shahrukh reflects it in his performance. Santosh Sivan at his best yet again.
Alaipayuthey - the sweetest of Mani Ratnam's movies. Great screenplay in years, some timeless numbers by Rahman, and non-pareil work by Sriram. Songs are a delight to watch. Any time.
Kannathil Muthamittal - magnificent work by Ravi Chandran. Some fantastic songs timed by flawless screenplay that has now become characteristic of Mani Ratnam.
Yuva - idealistic theme proved a drawback, although screenplay was again brilliant. Barring great work by Ravi Chandran and compelling performance by Surya, it was below par for Mani Ratnam's standards.
( * - movies I have not watched)
Goes without saying then - waiting eagerly for his next movie.
20 May 2005
The Scene: Woody Allen has a dream in which he is Socrates, awaiting the sentence. Eventually, Allen is told he has to drink hemlock. But, unlike Socrates, Allen is damn scared about death and doesn't want to die. The discussion, titled My Apology - written in parallel to that in Dialogues of Plato - then takes an interesting turn. The result is an absolutely hilarious piece.
An excerpt (taken from Complete Prose of Woody Allen):
Agathon: But it was you who proved that death doesn't exist.
Allen: Hey, listen - I've proved a lot of things. That's how I pay my rent. Theories and little observations. A puckish remark now and then. Occasional maxims. It beats picking olives, but let's not get carried away.
Agathon: But you've proved many times that soul is immortal.
Allen: And it is! On paper. See, that's the thing about philosophy - it's not all that functional once you get out of class.
14 May 2005
You walked away
To the unreachable
And I stood destitute
On the ground barren
The murky sky roared
And the dusky clouds poured
Melancholy was the song
That tore my heart
The last glimpse of yours
Faded into the dim distance
And with it, vanished
A thousand dreams
Life looked distraught
With gloom was everything fraught
World moved without care
As I searched for myself
This was the road
We walked on together once
Two souls on a journey
To the land of Bliss
Alone am I standing now
And you are nowhere to be seen
Neither a trace of happiness
Nor sorrow gnaws every moment
Fragrance of your memories
Fills the still air
With tear-dimmed eyes,
I ask, "Where hast thou gone?"
13 May 2005
"Hate the sin, not the sinner" is among those million other sentences that sound hollow and downright illogical. Besides taking compassion too far, it propogates sham among all those ardent believers in cultivated virtue. For, if I were a believer of this tenet, I would not sit and understand the mechanism of hatred, but simply change the object of hatred from sinner to sin. And if the sinner happens to be the driver who makes that deliberate cut to inflict a fracture on my leg, confining me to the hospital bed for months, it's easy enough to see that the very act of trying to change the object from sinner to sin makes the suffering all the more worse. The situation gets more intolerable if the sin happens to be homicide or rape.
Sin, simply, is just an action - a wrong one, by definition, and powerless left to itself. It needs an external force (a person) for it to have any effect. Take out the actor and the action does not exist. If there is delicious food on the table, and a chap gorges on it and dies as a result, do we blame the food for being tasty or the chap for being stupid? Yes, the tenet actually refers to the inclination of the person to commit a certain harmful deed and not specifically to the deed itself, but that does not make it sound rational either, for the argument that the inclination is non-existent without the exploiter still holds good.
It appears to be the effect of misinterpretation of advaita school of thought. Whatever, such statements do more harm than good. For a person who is Buddha, the problem of hate never occurs because he operates at a totally different plane. So, for him the tenet is meaningless. He doesn't need it. For those who are not, hatred is a reality. A reality that begs acknowledgement, not careful packaging in some spiritual balderdash. So, when one is not free of hatred, what's the point of merely changing the objects? It's a simple displacement of the focus of the problem and not a solution.
Man is unbeatable at his ability for inventions for escape.
6 May 2005
At a stupid monitor
All day long
Made a morgue of my mind,
What with cadavers reeking
At every unattended corner,
Of wishes conjured
And ambitions conceived,
Gaping and Simpering
At my unenviable emptiness!
With decaying corpses
That remain dead,
Half as trying as
How things would be
When the dead ones rise!
- Vijaykarthik S
4 May 2005
The Earth smelt of blood
Despair filled the air
And anguish stared in my eye
Alone stood I amid
The whilrwind of hopelessness
Red flowed on the road
Every leaf writhed in pain
The little baby smiled no more
The ground beneath,
Reverberating in shock,
Craved for calm
The silence of Death
The resignation of Life
The tear of God
Watched in patience
The wily smile of insanity
Unspoken remained the words
Many a path left untrodden
As love and brotherhood
Ebbed away into
The rumblings of War
Shattered dreams, frigid corpses
Strewn all along
Fire of anger burned within
As I walked alone
Among the remnants of civilization
2 May 2005
Conscience, Life, and Mind. Location: Barista.
Conscience: I agree I'm the youngest. I cannot exist without either of you. I'm petty, and I enjoy it. I take delight in troubling this chap. He is so dumb he complicates everything. He is the slowest learner I have ever seen. I want to chill and enjoy, and he never lets me. He relies on me blindly and I exploit him. But I'm more powerful than both of you, because I rule him with the stick of guilt. One strong blow, and he drops dead. Neither of you can save him.
Mind: Consy, I appreciate you. Although I'm your elder brother and have more experience than you, you have impeccable and unbeatable strategy. And what the heck, I don't really see anything wrong with your decisions. I feel claustrophobic sitting inside this dumb chap's skull, so I enjoy it too when you play with him. He doesn't allow me to rest either. I feel so pissed off I make him feel more restless. I make him feel he is the master. It makes the game more fun, you see. I always wait for our big brother Lify to kick him off so I can take a holiday. When are you doing it Lify? Want some more coffee?
Life: No, thanks Mindy. When am I doing it? As you know, I believe in spontaneity. I will kick him off when I feel like it. It could be tomorrow, it could be after another twenty years. I want to show him the most beautiful works of art in the universe, but he never takes me seriously. He admires your illusionism school of art though. I suggest him to walk slow, but he runs. He takes me for granted, he doesn't even greet me. And, interestingly, when I ask him to go, he suddenly feels homesick, clings fast to me and cries for my help! He is such a jerk!
You know what? Maybe you are right. Let's just dump him and go on a holiday.