Sometimes I feel I’m grabbing at a chimera.
And then I realize I’m grabbing at a chimera.
Sometimes it’s the other way ’round.
The title is irrelevant. It’s just the name of a song with falsettos and lots of tapping, and I felt I simply HAD to mention it on the blog coz I’ve played it 100 times in the last week(!).
So Albus Perceival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore has come out of the closet. For the uninitiated, read this.
Hmm.. I wonder why this comes out now. I can already see Harry Potter book sales zooming high in the next couple of weeks; or people re-reading their copies of Potter 1 to 7 looking for clues that would indicate that Dumbledore was gay, and was smitten by Grindelwald.
But Why? Was this just a routine admission, or was this a well-orchestrated publicity stunt to ensure JKR stays in the news for a few more
weeks years to come? All evidence points to the latter – coming out of the closet is not something people are lax about. And JKR very well knows what impact any admission about any character in her series can have – everyone’s so interested in James Potter’s childhood (He was an only child, born pretty late to his parents and hence was a very pampered, boisterous boy), in Ginny’s real name(Ginevra, not Virginia), in the dates of Ron’s and Hermione’s birthdays (March 1 and September 19), in the shape of Snape’s patronus (Doe)…. and revelation of someone’s sexuality is enough news for the press for the next couple of weeks at the very least – What’s the betting ToIlet Paper comes up with a chronicle of gay characters in fiction in the next one week, with expert opinions from Bobby Darling?
Another issue this throws up is her utter lack of social responsibility. Kids the world over are going to grow up this week, if they haven’t already. But how ready are they? The age of the average reader ranges from age 7 or 8 to ten times that… and it’s the younger ones who have HP memorabilia… and who surf the Net googling for “Harry Potter rumours”.
More so, how ready are their parents to explain the concept of alternative sexuality to these kids? Most chances are, they’ll end up passing their prejudices on to their kids.
But then how many kids would even ask their parents? They’d probably google for it. Or ask their better-informed(?) friends. Disaster yet again.
How far we’ve come since the days of Satyajit Ray throwing up his hands in despair and telling his wife he’s had enough of writing Feluda mysteries, coz it’s so hard to write smart detective stories for children without crime passionel, without illicit love, without romantic undertones! (but always, always coming back and penning yet another awesome story).
I wonder what’d be the reaction of the gay community to this bit of news? Initially I guess they’ll cause a zoom in the sales of the HP books. With this, JKR joins the league of Karan Johar who keeps the world guessing about his sexuality (“My sexuality is my business and no one else’s”), neither affirming nor denying anything, and putting not-so-subtle jokes targeted at the community in his movies. Kantaben has found company.
This is what happens to marginalized sections of the society. They become vote banks. And niche markets. How I wish they stand up to such exploitation and stereotyping by the media. But no, not in India, coz that’d mean coming out of the closet. And more and more publicity agents will take a leaf out of Karan Johar’s book, and hell, for all we know KJ might be secretly married (to a woman) with three kids.
And misinformation and stupid stereotypes will be the norm. People with a “liberal” sense of humour will tell jokes like “Two gay robbers broke into my house, rearranged the furniture and left”. Gay characters in movies will always be explosively so, or repressed ones coming out of the closet in an extremely explosive way. And they’ll never be the main characters.. they’ll only be providing comic relief. Or at best, caricatures, like Mrs. Subramaniam Iyer in Mr. And Mrs. Iyer (Iyer women are NOT like the character Konkona Sen played, take it from me), or Sridevi in and as Malini Iyer (Her “father-in-law-jee” was too much to take for me).
Ms. JKR, the next time you want to publicize yourself or your series, just simply let the pages of your new manuscript fly apart at Times Square, or tell us what happens beyond the veil, or that the politics at the Ministry of Magic is based on Watergate, or that your series is inspired by Star Wars.
You can also memorize the history of The Beatles and start a “JKR is Dead” publicity stunt. If in case you’re sick of all the publicity and want to retire in anonymity, you can always say you’re more popular than Jesus.
But please, do us all a favor…. Just leave innocence alone, pretty please?
I read somewhere that the people with the most to choose from are the ones that are most unhappy. And in my case, it comes with parents who tell you “you can be anything you dream of, we’ll support you”. And choosing what to be is a tall order for someone like me, for whom Aboriginal History is almost as interesting as Embedded Systems (Which, by the way, is very interesting). But then, choose I did, and now at the very least, I can “be” a software engineer, if all goes well for the next six months.
There were a lot of things I dreamt of, and the IT industry was one of the last places I wanted to be. Reminds me of that joke that goes like “Why are things always in the last place I look?” ” ‘Coz once you’ve found what you’re looking for, you stop looking further”.
I know this is where I want to be, I know nothing else might fit me like a glove, I know I wouldn’t want to pursue anything else other than as a hobby, but in moments of frustration, I do wish I was elsewhere…. I mean, like Pi Patel says, “A tie is a noose, and inverted though it is, it will hang a man nonetheless if he’s not careful”.
So here’s a list of possible places I could have been:
- News Reporter/Newsreader: I grew up watching Usha Albuquerque on DD News. For a while, I idolized Mrinal Pandey. Then NDTV hooked up with Star and I used to be hooked the entire day to Star News, watching Rajdeep Sardesai (this was when he used to be low profile, and not as explosive), Sreenivasan Jain (I’d written him a long mail once, complimenting his excellent reporting, all in perfect English, double-checked for grammatical errors, and he sends back a one-line thank-you note, in sms lingo!), Prannoy Roy, Maya Sharma and Jennifer Arul. And this ambition of mine reached a crescendo during the Kargil War when Barkha Dutt went all the way there. There wasn’t a more glamorous career back then.
- Print Journalist: This started at a time when city-specific news reporting was at an all-time high. The sarcasm, the bite, the use of local lingo in a NEWS paper stunned me. This was where I wanted to be, right (I was eleven-twelve and didn’t know better)? I even began a long-standing correspondence with Allen J Mendonca, then the Chief Reporter of ToI, Bangalore, where he advised me on my writing and stuff like that. And suddenly he went out like a light. And when he came back, he said he’d quit ToI ‘coz there were some political issues or some such things; end of ambition.
- Ad-film maker: This one’s quite recent. It seems to be quite a challenge to sell something in thirty seconds or less. Sometime, I must do a post on the most memorable ad-campaigns.
- Copywriter: Similar. Though I’d really like to do something like this for an extended period of time just to see how long it’ll take me to get sick of it.
- Film-maker: It’s one of those things that happen when you read an excellent novel, like say, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and you wonder how it should be made into a movie, what parts should be cut out, how each shot should look…. no wonder I never like those movies made out of books. Or say, you listen to a song before you see the video; or to a song which doesn’t have a video. You wonder about a storyline. One that’ll fit the mood of the song. And then, when you listen to that lovely song over and over again, fine-tune in your mind what the video should look like. And then you watch the actual video and curse those unimaginative idiots who made it. Like they did with that song in Yaadein, sung by Kavitha Krishnamurthy. And with all the Euphoria songs. The same thing makes you marvel at Lucky Ali’s videos (except that one where he’s crooning while two young things cavort around the airport)… I think there’s an entire post on this one. The marvelling, I mean.
- Detective: Too much Nancy Drew, nothing else. Oh, and also a bit of all those idiotic detective shows on TV, more notable of which was this one on some Kannada channel called “One Teaspoon Suspense”.
- Lawyer: My mum hates lawyers. That’s why. And also due to overdose of Perry Mason and Henry Cecil novels. Mason’s grandstands, and his getting the better of Sgt. Holcomb and Lt. Tragg really had me impressed, and the legal technicalities involved in Henry Cecil’s novels along with a generous helping of British humour fascinated me. Now I do Devil’s Advocacy on the most humungous of arguments.
- Marine biologist: I liked the mighty manta rays. And baleen whales.
- Psychologist: My mother’s area of expertise. She, however chose to make a career out of completely different things. And unfortunately, so did I.
- Historian/Archaeologist: I was one of those kids in class who didn’t flinch in history class. I didn’t see it as just a collection of facts. The Indus-Sarasvati Civilization fascinates me. And the opening shot of Hey Ram was too much to take (the one where SRK and Kamal Haasan are excavating Harappa). I watch any program on Discovery/Travel and Living that deals with stone structures over a hundred years old. History Channel, someone asked? I only watch it when they show History Rocks; you don’t get such good-quality replays of Queen and Beatles concerts anywhere else.
- An agent in the Research and Analysis Wing: To any educated Indian who asks what this place is (I know a few who did ask me), kindly renounce your citizenship. I wanted to get into the Research and Analysis Wing once upon a time. Just like M. It later mellowed down to CBI, aided by Preity Zinta in the desi adaptation of Silence of the Lambs (Sangharsh), where she’s walking hurriedly into a prison, flashing her ID, saying “Reet Oberoi, CBI Officer”.
- Radio Jockey: It was 2001 in Bangalore where and when Private FM Radio made its debut in India. “Everyone’s rocking at 91 FM. Are You?”. I thought at first that was a new pub. When I did turn on the radio, the first thing I heard was Suresh Venkat’s mellow baritone. That moment, I decided I wanted to be like him. When quality of radio, and the Indian media in general started dropping, I wanted to be this media magnate like Rupert Murdoch. I wanted to have a finger in every pie in the media. Hmm…. is that still an option?
- Astrology: I don’t think astrology is a pop-science meant only for fools and sages. The way people like Bejan Daruwalla and Linda Goodman go/went about it, yeah, maybe. But I’ve discovered there’s a whole science behind astrology. It can be systematically learned. It involves a lot of math, a lot of astronomy. The cloak-and-dagger sort of stuff like dreaming of a tragedy and it happening is best left to the clairvoyant. This is a science for everyone. It involves slog. It involves work beyond imagination. It may be vague, but is definitely not guesswork if it is practised the way it should be.
- Doctor: This was the one I went furthest with before rejecting it. It was basically inspired by Dr. Devi Shetty, and Dr. Sudarshan who’s known for his work among Soligas of BR Hills. Legend goes, Dr. Sudarshan was one of the candidates suggested to Veerappan for kidnap and haggling. He refused point blank, saying that he couldn’t do it to such a good, altruistic man who worked hard for the welfare of tribals.
- Chemistry: My accidents in chemistry lab are the stuff of legend, ask anyone. I still don’t know why I rejected it.
- Mechanical Engineer: Navier-Stokes would have been an everyday chant, not an episode from a forgotten past. It was one of the closest calls, choosing IT over Mech. For which I’m thankful to her.
- Novelist/Screenwriter: I want to take a course that teaches me how to write dialogue. Coz I’ve discovered I CAN’T!! That apart, I’ve discovered being a novelist isn’t the sort of thing portrayed in pop culture. You need to be meticulous, organized, do your research, choose your words with care, network, and tune yourself to a creative process that works at your will. It can sure as hell be a 9-to-5 job. Which 9 and which 5 is for you to choose. And this is still an option… you don’t luckily need a certificate from a recognized university saying you can write novels.
It’s not like choosing one career shuts the doors on all others…. Like Sam Pitroda said at Engineer-’05, “You need to do atleast ten different things at one time, otherwise you’ll get bored”. And there are some things that need to be pursued as a fulltime job, and a lot of others that need to take your time as hobbies, or sidetracks – otherwise the seriousness needed for the fulltime job is lost, as would be the fun element of the hobbies.
One person who comes to mind is S. Rangarajan, engineer at Bharat Electronics who pioneered the design and supervision of Electronic Voting Machines, and who is also known more popularly as Sujatha, the dialogue-writer for films like Roja, Iruvar and Boys, apart from being the author of detective series Ganesh-Vasanth and various other writings in Tamil magazines.
And another is Brian May, who recently completed his thesis for a PhD in astronomy, more than thirty years after he started the academic paper. The reason for the long gap? Well.. he was too busy playing the guitar for Queen!
Writing’s this cheap, escapist thing I do in order to keep myself sane. I, and no doubt others, doubt it is working, though.
This is the form I choose to give my thoughts. The other alternative would be to blubber on, but I don’t think such patient listeners exist. Tuna has had enough of the blubbering on for the one week we weren’t anywhere close to a comp, so much that we avoided each other for a couple of weeks after that. Our respective roommates have a threshold beyond which they go deaf, and this threshold is lesser for the rest of the general populace.
Which brings me to thank all those who read us at The NITK Numbskulls Page. Blogstats say there are a good number of you; but we know of only a handful. Would y’all lurkers not mind introducing yourselves? ‘Coz Blogstats says another thing, that this is our 100th post!!! And we’d really like to know who bothers to read us; who’ve kept us going for 100 posts!!!
It’s not a new achievement, I know. People have reached their 100th post much earlier, some have just done it in a matter of weeks. But, for us, every one of the 100 posts has been special, some place where we’ve poured out a bit of ourselves. We don’t primarily write for people to read. And neither do we write as we would a diary. We write stuff we would like to read ourselves, though I must admit, some of the results weren’t quite what we expected.
As I said before, my writing is a form of escapism. It’s what a psychologist would call a defense mechanism. Others choose to bury themselves in work. Or have a drink. Or talk their heads off. Or watch movies. Or listen to music. Or sleep. I write.
And I must really thank every single person who reads this page for giving me the confidence this is worthwhile at some level, and spurring me to write further, coz the other options of escape don’t seem as great, or as fulfilling.
I used to wonder what makes a movie successful. Is it the presence of stars? Can’t be…. there are movies like Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai. Hot-looking leads? Then how come people gather to watch Monsoon Wedding? Don’t tell me it was for Vijay Raaz or Shefali Chhaya, coz Parveen Dabas and Vasundhara Das aren’t exactly great-looking, not by conventional standards anyway. And in that case, why do movies like Asoka fail?
Strong story/concept? Mmm… not quite. Remember Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai. Music? How about Jeans?
Well, yeah, let me come to the point now and say it out once that I think dialogues are what make or break movies.
More than anything else, it’s only when the audience identifies with a character, or with a plot, that (s)he tends to like it. Acting, mannerisms and all that can only take you so far in talkies. “K-k-k-kira-a-an” is a better indication of a psychotic lover than if the director had asked SRK to twitch his nose and dilate his pupils. And face it, mannerisms become downright irritating – Most people can only groan when they see Vikram’s shifty eyes and dilating pupils when he transforms from Ramanujan to Anniyan. But Dei Baadu became an overnight hit.
Sholay wouldn’t have been as poignant if it hadn’t been for gems like Toh tumhara naam kya hai, Basanti? and “Kuttey! Kameenay!!!”, which are parodied to this day.
Talking of Sholay, I’ve grown to obsess about the movie of late, and I’m quite surprised… the story is the last thing that would appeal to me, and I don’t think it makes a brilliant watch. I’m not awed by Gabbar… but thing is, Basanti! In kutton ke saamne mat naachna and Aadhey idhar jaao, aadhey udhar jaao, baaki mere peeche aao stay stuck in the mind for a good while. And some have this way of finding their way into everyday conversation ["How on earth do you get to know so much gossip??" " *chuckle* Humaare jaasoos chaaron taraf hain", or "You stood me up for lunch! Hell, I'm so starved, now I dying, pulees coming, roomie going jail, roomie chakki peesing, peesing, peesing"].
Perhaps one of the best latter-day tributes to Sholay is Sujoy Ghosh’s Jhankaar Beats. All the hit dialogues of Sholay [oh, what the heck, all the dialogues of that movie were hits in their own ways] find their way into the movie. Like Shayan Munshi says “I’m just going to commit suicide”, to which Sanjay Suri replies with “Yeh su-site kya hota hai?”. And Sanjay Suri is a crazy RD Burman fan in the movie [He and Rahul Bose refer to him as Boss(!)], and he asks his wife to guess what he’s planned to name their son; She asks the baby, “Toh tumhara naam kya hai, Rahul?”.
The movie’s also replete with discussions about Sholay. “Basanti danced to save her skin!”, maintains Rahul Bose, while Sanjay Suri disagrees… “She danced out of love for Veeru, yaar.”.
Jhankaar also has its own great dialogues. Well, not exactly great, but definitely poignant and the sort you reminisce about. Like the one where Rahul Bose is supposed to present a one-liner which he has no idea about – “Yessir…. the one liner…. here it is… Kyunki. Yeh. Mujhe. Pasand hai!”. Shayan Munshi tries a classic “Aapko pata mere daddy kaun hai?”. Rahul Bose retorts with a “Kyun, tujhe pata nahin, kya?”, and follows it up with “Listen… I hope he found out who his daddy is … And Basanti did not dance for Veeru”.
Then there’s his divorce scene where he’s asking his wife to return his audiotapes, and his absent-minded divorce lawyer instructs her to “return my client’s cellotape, please”. He later says he was very distracted as he was going through his own divorce!
Shayan Munshi’s trying to ask Riya Sen out, and is being pepped up by Sanjay Suri. Rahul Bose chips in with “Sex ke baare mein kuch mat bataana“, and then distracts him with a “Hey, look at that bald guy, doesn’t he look like our client?”. When he finally approaches her, she thinks he’s an employee of the store, and asks him about a dress, he replies with a rushed “Main us takle ke saath sex karna chahta hoon”.
Then there’s the crazy neighbor who says “It’s all about control!”, and who finally supplies the much-needed one-liner for their ad campaign – “Better safe than worry”.
Mani Ratnam movies have always been known for their dialogues. Especially Alaipayuthey, which had a good number of new-age pickup lines, and romantic rantings. Like Madhavan tells a shy Shalini, “Shakti, I don’t think you’re good-looking, I’m not falling in love with you, but I’m worried whether this might happen”. And when he goes looking for her in a remote medical camp, and finally finds her, she asks him why he took so long to turn up.
Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi had a strong script and concept, and very normal-sounding dialogues. There’s one where Kay Kay Menon says of Shiney Ahuja, “I used to wonder in college whether he was an idiot or a clown, now I know he’s both”.
Weirdly, no Hollywood dialogues come to mind immediately. I guess the comedy in those movies is more sequence-oriented. However, one from Notting Hill does strike me… Hugh Grant says to Julia Roberts, “I live in Notting Hill, you live in Beverly Hills. The whole world knows who you are, my mother has trouble remembering my name”. And also to his best friend, “My whole life is ruined because I don’t read Hello! magazine?”.
It would take an entire website to cover the multitude of awesome dialogues in Rowan Atkinson’s dark comedy series, Blackadder. Some excellent samples include:
- “Oh, sir, I’m as bored as a pacifist’s pistol”
- To Hugh Laurie in drag: “Personally, I thought you were the least convincing female impressionist since Tarzan went through Jane’s handbag and ate her lipstick, but clearly I’m in a minority.
- “Irony is just like Goldy, or Bronzy, only, it’s made of iron”.
- “The path of my life is strewn with cowpats from the Devil’s own Satanic herd!”
- “Oh, no! What a mad, blundering, incredibly handsome young nincompoop I’ve been!”
- “Baldrick, that’s the worst plan since Abraham Lincoln said to his wife, ‘I’m bored of sitting around the house, let’s catch a show’ “.
- “Well, Baldrick, I just would like to say how much I enjoyed your company and friendship, but we both know that would be an utter lie, so sod off and if I ever see you again, it will be a billion years too soon.
There’ve been many, many more movies with punch dialogues, more notable would be the innumerable Rajnikanth flicks with their hard-hitting lines like “Naan oru dhadavai sonna nooru dhadavai sonna madhiri”, but they don’t seem to have made much of an impact on me… the dialogues are too explicitly worded so as to strike a chord with the audience.
The best dialogues are delivered without much fanfare, completely catch you by surprise, yet are so in tune with the context that you either completely identify with them, or are completely amazed by their brilliance. They stick to your mind, find their way into your conversations, get quoted and misquoted again and again, and if they really do catch on, get parodied widely.
To sum up, I’ll misquote Lord Edmund Blackadder – Talkies without great dialogues are like a broken pencil – pointless.
So, tell me… What’s Your Dialogue?
I s’pose 90% of the people chancing upon this would have at some point of the other seen the ad for Glad Bangles…. er… Mad Angles. I’ve just returned from a nice, long week at home, spent mostly in front of the TV, watching ads that teach me Tamil [Vaango, Pongo, Ukkarungo] and countless other [V]-ishtyle advertizing strategies to convince me to buy Bingo. Convinced I was, but sis opined that Lays is better any day, and hence wouldn’t let me endanger my health and taste buds with cheap imitations, no matter how flattering they were.
Anyway, back at S’kal, I thought I’d give it a try, sis or no sis. And so was walking back from Co’ps with a pack of Mad Angles in my hand, munching busily.
The evening was young. The mood light. The weather was balmy. A silent breeze blew across my face. The leaves lightly rustled. A koel sang in the distance. I saw a hint of a peacock behind the trees. The sun set. The streetlights came on. It was a lovely half-light.
I realized I wasn’t alone in enjoying the balmy weather, the breeze, the young evening, the light mood, the mellifluous note the koel held, a hint of blue amid the green trees that turned out to be a shy peacock…. there was someone else sharing it all with me.
Er… actually, there were a whole bunch of people. They grouped in twos.
Personal Digital Assistants are too small to use, the keys are not comfortable on my fingers – I use touch typing and typing with two fingers is something I’ve abhorred since age 13 – reduce my typing speed, and I need to squint into the screen.
Basically, I abhor PDAs.
Anyway, I refused to be disgusted and shamed by all that, and walked with my head held up high. Rather, I was forced to.
By then, 90% of the populace of Girls Block had decided it’s too dark, and all the lights have to be switched on. 90% had decided it’s too warm an evening and switched on all the fans. Suma, who takes general care of the place, switched on all the corridor lights. Now that 90% includes some who simply do not listen to this guy who simply asks us to switch off when not required. And there exist a good number who will simply not listen to the rest of us who tell them not to use immersion coils after dark. The confluence of all these ensured that overload ensued, and GB was plunged into darkness. As also the area around it.
Now I have heckuva lot of trouble in shoe shops finding something that fits me coz I’ve been told I have two left feet.
Combination of all these circumstances ensured that I slipped on a tricky piece of earth, and fell headlong, at a very mad angle.
Something… no.. someone cushioned my fall.
I’d fallen in love!
Actually… in the midst of a couple who seemed very much in love.
Tamil-knowing readers, I’ll safely say this: Enn college-la vazhikki vizhunda couple. And no doubt you’ll agree after reading this.
Good thing it was dark, I could just about slip away unnoticed.
And Mad Angles? For once, I’ll have to agree with Sis. Especially after they left me biting the dust, leaving a bad taste in the mouth.
PS: I simply do not know what makes me post like this, in such a long drawn out fashion about absolutely nothing at all. But then maybe this is what it is like to fall in louv.