Sub: My Melacholy Blues
I’ll be back dead on time some day, one day with more of that jazz, saying “Let me entertain you!“. Not in only seven days, I hope, giving everyone the opportunity to say “Liar!“; hope this doesn’t misfire.
Thing is, I’ve been posting too frequently of late, and the number of unposted drafts have been steadily increasing, and I’m appalled by the bad quality of my writing about things as inane as parodies of Marlene Dietrich songs, parodies of the hit gaana of The Eagles, and reviewing idiotic movies. I seriously think I need to give myself, and others a break from my bad writing about topics brought on by sheer boredom, and lack of interesting enough things to write about. And I’ve found I have better things to bother about than Blogosphere.
Bah, my style is getting inaner and idioticer. I’d better shaddap and go to bed. Goodbye, for a while now.
Carrying on from here, I haven’t had a peaceful moment inside my head for ages. No time to plot and plan. There’s always been something else around the corner that has demanded my immediate attention. And inevitably, without plotting and planning, my chores – yes, that’s what they’ve become – take longer, robbing me of thinking time.
There hasn’t been a moment in quite some time where I objectively analyze my life, the universe around me, and everything else related. It’s always from the frying pan into the fire. A long series of complicated steps which have ensured that the LIFE part of my life has been on the backburner for long… sufficiently long enough for me to get unused to having a life.
Which implies I don’t quite know anymore what to do when I have a spare moment. These spare moments, usually few and far in between, get sucked into a black-hole, unused, underutilized. It seems so long since I’d hurry up and finish my work so that I could have some fun. First it was finishing up work so that I could work some more, but now work and non-work more or less overlap, sucking out the joy in both.
There’s a mad, mad screaming in my head, and I just can’t seem to quell it. I’ve kept going by telling myself my moment of glory is just ’round the corner, and after this one task, that’ll be it. But another voice in my head clutters up my work by saying I’ll be stuck doing the same thing for a long time more, sapping my initial enthusiasm. I no longer have a fire in me that wants to get things done with. A vicious cycle, there.
And there’s another voice that asks about the elusive glory I’m trying to chase, where is the manna promised so long ago? It asserts that I haven’t got my due. A sense of being sinned against, and not having sinned enough to merit it. And not wanting to, thanks to my set of principles. It only hurts more when I see lesser efforts and chicanery being rewarded more. And, to add fuel to fire, I don’t anymore feel the satisfaction I’m supposed to feel on a job I did well.
My priorities, thus, are muddled up. My sense of ethics and morals and principles are cluttered. I wouldn’t go so far enough to say I don’t know which way is up, but I’m nearly there.
I certainly have tried breaking free from this eternal cycle, but have failed miserably at that. Life has a way of making things fall into the same dull old routine, and the strange buzzing in my head doesn’t help. I first thought taking a break might put things in a new perspective, but no, things are too deeply ingrained for any major change to happen. New activities don’t help, either.
I wish organizing my thoughts was as easy as organizing my hard disk, where all I’ll have to do was defragment, delete unnecessary files, and put things in appropriate folders. Unfortunately, the human brain isn’t as easy to organize.
The Art Of Mind Control was something I laughed at a couple of years back. Why would someone want to control their thought process, I wondered. It was as beautiful as it is, going from one unchartered location to another. But the realization of an unclinging train of thought which stops to entertain everything, and absorb nothing makes me wonder otherwise.
There’s also a feeling that all this is merely temporary, that my current position will come to pass soon, and I’m going to have no relics of these moments, and it would be unwise to cling on to these moments, they don’t quite count, not worth clinging on to. I’m so inured to the kind of life I’m leading that I at first pretended not to care about the various slights and maintain an external calm, and now this poker face comes naturally to me, and I don’t quite seem to care what happens to others. It’s also a list of lessons learnt, which is, as the cliche goes, once bitten twice shy.
There’s also a whole list of things I used to be dying to do, but couldn’t, and now when I have enough time on my hands, I can’t recollect in the haze of what’s coming next, which I am sure of, if at all, in a very hazy way.
I think I’m so used to pressure that once my tail is not on fire, I go into deep hibernation.
Oh, hell, I think I’ve been too deep into Bridget Jones’ Diary and Devil Wears Prada, which, while being hilarious to a fault, has the same effect on my mind which all chicklit does – puts me into introspection mode a la American and British women all of who think only of looks and weight-loss and relationships and all the stuff sold by the first-world media. Oh, and I also talk and write in cliches and truisms all the time now, apart from snowclones.
Why the hell can’t we have decent role models apart from an ex-rocket scientist ex-president who thinks just education is the road to salvation for the nation, or a wannabe-IITian who started a mass-recruiter software co., or his wife to whom every possibly imaginable incident happens which she pens horribly into collections of short stories, or as columns in popular periodicals? Or a bunch of anorexic starlets, or overpaid sportsmen, or overhyped and underclothed sportswomen?
Something tells me this is just the calm before the storm that’s gonna drown me in so much work that I’m not gonna have time to even take a deep breath before going under.
PS: It’s 38 years of Woodstock as of today. If I ever come across a time-machine, I certainly know where I’d want to take it to. I prefer remembering Woodstock, a culture/counterculture I’ve never experienced or seen first-hand, to wishing everyone a Happy Independence Day, ‘coz you just look at Woodstock, and if you can still do something like that, and if it’d be a success, then you really truly are free.
PPS: Happy Independence Day. Revel in the joy of being able to say just about anything you want. And in doing whatever and whoever you want. We are one of the very few lucky ones across the globe to have that freedom.
There was a time when I thought Bollywood was absolute nonsense. No… I’ve always thought Bollywood was absolute nonsense. But there used to be this time when I liked all these independent films that were made in Hinglish, thought they were the Real Cinema, Artistic Expressions of the First Order, would obviously not be popular because the Indian audience wasn’t mature enough, and in any case I considered myself good enough to see the good in all these flicks.
I don’t quite know how this preference for not-so-popular films began with me, but I think it was due to the Times of India in its heydays, [when it was yet to turn into Trash of India], which targeted the younger generation and at the same time gave outrageous viewpoints on popular movies and music. Dev Benegal was venerated, and Manmohan Desai scorned. The Week as usual focussed on little-known actors and directors, more prominent of who were Nagesh Kukunoor and Dev Benegal (again). India Today had a last page full of little-known people doing little-known things which all sounded like they didn’t quite get the publicity they deserved. Sympathy with the underdog, I think, caused it.
Guess the first one to catch my attention was the Aamir Khan-Nandita Das starrer 1947-Earth. The music was by AR Rehman and (hence) too lovely for words. And it was something that turned my head when a well-known actor like Aamir of the Ghulam fame would do an art-house-ish film with the then-little-known Deepa Mehta. All those interviews with the director and lead actors, apart from the fact that it was based on an Indian English book [oh, that was another phase I went through] based on real experiences made it all the more alluring. Well, I hardly remember what I was thinking then, but I’d sure like to know! ‘Coz I read Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man a while ago, and found it obnoxious at the very least. And I caught the movie again, it failed to impress me, being but a cheap copy of the book. But the music… aah, I think it’ll take a long while more to get the strains of Hariharan singing Dheeme Dheeme out of my system.
And then was Nagesh Kukunoor, with his Hyderabad Blues. Poignant flick, I daresay. Again, reading media reports of it “being shot on home-video” by a “chemical engineer” had the adverse effect of making me sympathize with the movie. I shouldn’t blame myself too much for wanting to watch the movie; after all dialogues like “Man, he’s such a pondaatidaasan already!” and “Remember the time we were waiting for the pallu to fall?” didn’t happen in every movie, and any movie daring to have such a dialogue would have to be an Independent flick, which was, by definition Different and hence Good. But I must admit, it was quite okay, and I still liked it when I watched it a few months back.
Nagesh Kukunoor’s next offering, Rockford‘s premiere on television was eagerly awaited by me and most of my friends from school… it was about kids, right? Who have crushes and all? On a teacher at that? And it was by the Hyderabad Blues guy… it had to be good. And the music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy was nice, wasn’t it? Hummable… Well, anyway, it was on the last day before school opened for Class X, so it sort of held a senti value for some of us… some coming-of-age type of sentiment which I don’t quite get now. The dialogue delivery sucked with most of the actors, but Kailash Atmanathan as the hero’s sidekick carried off the whole flick for me. And also the various gags like the Suicide Frog, and the episode where Selva [Atmanathan] tries to give a love letter to one of the girls and just narrowly misses being caught by the Jesuit nun, just after which he’s reprimanded for his useless tries for which he says “Try, try until you succeed!”. Oh, and also the sequence where the lead actor [Rohan Dey] has his recurring vampire nightmare, wakes up scared and goes to the Warden[Brother Sebastian]‘s room, where… well….. after which Bro clutches his palms together and chants “Lead us not to temptation, lead us not to temptation”.
Then there was some flick called Snip! starring Sophiya Haque and Nikhil Chinappa, which got the same sort of reviews as the previous flicks I’ve mentioned. It was about some hairstylist who snips off the ear of a rich customer… never got to watch that, and I’m thankful.
Another barber-shop flick was Rahul Bose’s Everybody Says I’m Fine starring Rehaan Engineer and Koel Purie [daughter of India Today's editor Aroon Purie]. It’s some cryptic flick about this hairdresser-for-the-wealthy who can read the thoughts of people whose hair he is doing. It’s boring at best, and the only highlight is Rahul Bose’s over-the-top act [even that gets irritating after the first bit], and the opening track.
And then two films starring Deepti Naval, which hit the screens at around the same time. One was called Leela, and it focussed on Dimple Kapadia, while Naval had a bit role as the mother of the student of Dimple Kapadia who is subsequently seduced [the son, I mean] by her[Kapadia], in some foreign university. There was this one dialogue Dimple Kapadia had, where she’s addressing the first class, where she says “I know you all are used to call your professors by first name, but make an exception in my case; call me Professor.. just humour me, won’t you?”
The other one was by and far more likeable. One called Freaky Chakra. Here, Ranvir Shorey’s the writer who tries to have a working story for his novel. He first sketches three characters, one played by Deepti Naval who is a widowed ex-doctor who now spends her time decorating dead bodies [now don't ask why someone would want to have that done], an obsessive secret admirer of Deepti played by Sachin Khedekar, who makes obscene calls to her house, and swallows pills when she hung up on him, the third was Sunil Raoh who’s this happy-go-lucky college student. Now Ranvir Shorey fixes up Sunil Raoh in Deepti Naval’s house as a paying guest to base a plausible story. He keeps promising a Kahaani Mein Twist soon to the audience, and tries his level best to get the two to fall in love, succeeds, and subsequently fails in separating the two. The most poignant scene in the movie was the last scene where he’s succeeded in poisoning Naval’s mind against Raoh, she subsequently chucks him out of the house, and Ranvir turns up at her house with a bunch of flowers hoping to turn hero, but the script has a mind of its own… Sunil Raoh opens the door, tying up his pajamas, and a pigeon craps on Ranvir Shorey’s face. This was a Bangalorean flick, with most of the cast and crew being from the city, including Sunil Raoh. Notable among the cast would be RJ Sunaina Lall who played this perpetually turned-on girl in the elevator.
Another Bangie flick was Prakash Belawadi’s Stumble starring Suhasini Mani Ratnam, which was about the software boom and subsequent bust. Even ToI rated this bad.
Then there was this one called Mango Souffle, which was the movie adaptation of Mahesh Dattani’s play, On A Muggy Night In Mumbai. The only two things which stood out were Rinke Khanna in a leading role, and the theme being homosexuality [ToI needed no telling twice to go on at length about this].
Yet another movie which was in Hindi, or rather, Hinglish and shot in Bangalore was Bas Yun Hi starring Purab Kohli [of Channel [V] fame] and Nandita Das. Boring, at best, again.
And how could I forget American Desi? The main story was useless, but the gags masquerading as subplots were the best part, and the characters were all well-etched, my [and most people's] favourite character being Kunal Vijaykar as the very Indian Professor Gautam Rao who came late to class, cooked his own lunch, brought it in a tiffin carrier to college, ate with his fingers, and burped loudly after meals… and also taught with his fly unzipped, mispronounced the roll call ["Jesus Alvarez!" "My name is Eh-seuss" "but there's a J there!" "It's silent"/ "Onathan Smith" "I'm called Jonathan" "but what about the silent J??" "It's not silent"], referred to erasers as “rubbers”, and got punch-drunk on a single glass of champagne.
Carrying forward the Desis-abroad genre of movies, there was one called Masala, which was set in Canada, had a very weird sketch of characters, among who was the hero who kept getting recurring nightmares due to his parents dying in an air crash, and the Lord Krishna, and his brother Balram, who are pressed upon for help [reads more like hell, though] by the very demanding granny, Zohra Sehgal whose cruel, quickwitted repartees apart from the cut-throat demeanor add to the black comedy of the movie. There’s one scene where this hero’s on a flight after a very long time, the granny bullies the Gods into protecting him, and the flight turns out to be very tumultuous. Hero sarcastically quips, “Oh, no, this couldn’t be more comfortable if the gods were flying this” and the next shot is of Krishna asking Balaram a very tense “How do you fly this thing?” in the cockpit.
And then Monsoon Wedding… which I now realize was a bundle of nonsense put together with too many inane details intended to endear and strike a chord with the audience [Beta, change your underwear, no... naughty boy, didn't change it yesterday], and a series of press campaigns [Mira Nair: "My whole family has helped with this movie... we've used my family home, my family members, my family's underwear....."]
There was also a movie called Bhopal Express, which was Nethra Raghuraman’s [of Thakshak fame] debut. It was about the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. But I guess the movie is lost to the mists of time – not once have I seen or even heard of it being telecast on TV, quite unlike the other movies I’ve mentioned here. The only thing about the movie that is still remembered is Lucky Ali’s Tu Kaun Hai, off the OST of the film, with a music video that kicked ass in my opinon back then [can't seem to find it anywhere now], and a haunting melody.
As for music… I used to obsessive about Indi-rock. I listened to Silk Route, Indian Ocean, Parikrama, Colonial Cousins, Alms for Shanti, Sanjay Maroo, Euphoria, Pentagram, Anaida, Shael, Vasundhara Das, Malgudi Shubha, Usha Uthup, Strings, Sagarika, Shaan and a whole bunch of people who weren’t very well known. It was almost a crime with me to listen to any song that was hummed by more than ten people. But I’ve mellowed since then, and am open to more different forms of music. I still like most of the Indipop I used to listen to, and find it a stark contrast to the Indian music scene now, where it’s deeply lacking in quality as compared to a few years ago when there was a plethora of talent, of independent artistes who flooded music channels… There’s no bringing back those rollicking times, is there? It’ll be like trying to recreate Woodstock.
But… Independent Movies… I don’t still like most of those I used to like back then. But there are these movies which I’ve always wanted to watch, but have never got the chance to; they are too rare, and are not shown on TV ‘coz the latest edition of Munnabhai is too busy playing, and the industry focuses on the cowbelt more than the urbane audience. And such movies don’t get made anymore.
Given half a chance, I’d really love to watch English, August the movie, I’m very obsessive about the book, and think it’s a wonderful piece of philosophical fiction no matter what anyone says and no matter how horribly Chetan Bhagat or any other loser tries to replicate the cynicism and anchorlessness. Rahul Bose is said to have done a great job, just like Dev Benegal and everyone else related to the movie.
And I’d also like to watch SRK’s first big-screen role, in an Arundathi Roy movie called In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones. It’s set in the Delhi School of Architecture, and is the radical-’80s type where the idealism is a more matured and refined and evolved version of Marxism, Naxalism, Feminism, and all those -isms that were the flavour of the ’70s and ’80s.
Till a new DVD of English, August is out, I guess I’ll have to be content watching popular hit flicks on LAN, or the sort that are shown on TV. * Sigh! * Now to get back to reality, and reality TV.
We’re old. My batch in the Girls Block, I mean. It isn’t just ‘coz of being in Final Year [there is no Fourth-Year B.Tech at NITK]. We’ve been “seeing things”. Doppelgangers everywhere. And I read something somewhere that said if everything and everyone you see reminds you of something or someone else, you’re OLD.
We have a whole new bunch of freshers here, with all three hostel blocks full to bursting for the first time in the history of NITK [The college decided to start postgrad MBA, MSc and Godaloneknowswhatelse courses here this year, and they all have a high population of women]. And everyone of them seems to look like someone else we’ve known in the past.
Like there’s this girl who happens to look very much like our Girl Rep[NITK version of Reservation for Women] of two years back, and another who gets mistaken for WebClub Convener [who this year happens to be a girl], while yet another has a side-profile similar to a petite third-year. There’s also one who looks like an artful senior of ours, but methinks it’s just the frames she wears, but I’m not too sure.
But atleast this year the seniors aren’t around to have themselves confused with others. Which isn’t quite the case with me. My lookalike was here last year, and still is, which doesn’t cause enough confusion to provide comic relief, but… well…
Like the first day I was back last year..
Someone: Heya, back yesterday, no?
Me: No, da.. just this morning.
Someone: No! I saw you yesterday, didn’t I…
Someone else: Hey, no da.. that’s her First-year twin.
Mom and me were trying to make my new room habitable for creatures other than worms and lizards, when I had to run out and get some insecticide. Ma peeked out of the room, and saw a retreating back, and called out my name. She thought I was just going off to say hi to my friends who were just back, and was going to start yelling for me when “me” turned out to be the pesky junior.
“Hey, you know what?” said a neighbor of mine. “There’s a girl in first year who looks juuust like you”.
I was moved to curiosity, and caught a glimpse of this mirror image of mine. “Naaah, not my twin”, I said. But… well… in case I had to commit a quick crime by moonlight…
Further comments on that front came after information about her city and branch turned out to be the same as mine.
“Maybe it’s the way you both dress”, said Nam. “Maybe it’s your hairstyle”.
“Maybe the way you both walk”… which on a good day is a great impression of a frenzied mosquito.
“Hey, y’know what, your names sound similar, too”
“Maybe the way both of you mix your English with Kannada”… hell, no… mine has a fair amount of Tamil in it too.
“Have you like, ever been to a big fair, like say, the Kumbh Mela or something?”
“That terrible song you keep humming… I heard her humming it too… maybe it’s your family song?” No… I don’t quite think While My Guitar Gently Weeps deserves to be called terrible, and George Harrison isn’t even remotely related to me.
But the icing on the cake was a dark evening when I was walking to the mess, and two girls suddenly turned and gave me a smile on hearing my footfalls, and then turned away again.
“Man,” I heard one of them say to the other as I passed, “I SO thought that was <name of my doppelganger>”.
Now if only I had a need for a dead ringer….