Guzaarish- A Paraplegic Film

November 21, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Cinema, Media, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

Light beam enters through the large windows, when glamorous curtains are drawn. The light illuminates the royal looking furnitures placed on spotless floor of the palatial hose where Ethan, the protagonist of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s latest film Guzaarish, lives. Ethan has met with an accident 14 years ago, while performing a magical trick and turned paraplegic. After being confined to his room for 14 years Ethan demands for euthanasia and filed a petition in the court.

As the case is fought in the court we get to know that the palatial property of Ethan is pledged. Now this is interesting! Because if the protagonist has so much of property, in the film, it doesn’t support his case in the court and if he lived in a small house (because he is under financial crisis) Bhansali couldn’t lit up the screen the way he wants to. So he takes this path of making his protagonist live in a palatial house under debt with the palatial house being a security. (What an idea Sir ji!!!)

Isn’t that interesting? So finally there you get to know that Bhansali is more concerned only with illuminating the frame and not adding depth to the story, adding flesh and blood to his characters or giving them a proper ground to stand on. His first preference is to make the film visually appealing (note: i say appealing and not rich or good) adn he would do any kind of compromise with the story for that!

Anyone would demand for euthanasia because (s)he is suffering, is in pain, is struggling with life. Common sense. And it is only the intensity of this suffering, this pain and struggle which will justify their demand for euthanasia. But in Guzaarish the suffering, pain and struggling of Ethan doesn’t come across at all. In the court Ethan, saying he wants to perform a magic show, makes the prosecutor suffocate within a box and says, “This is how i have lived all the 14 years.” When Ethan says so it  appears like a big lie for nowhere has the director shown such an intense suffering of Ethan.

Of the 14 years Ethan 12 years he has been taken care of by Sophia who is against the decision of Ethan for euthanasia. His decision is also opposed by his lawyer Devayani and his doctor. Their love and objection becomes justified but not the demand of Ethan for mercy killing. Could a film have a bigger hole in its script? Was Bhansali blind like Michelle of ‘Black’?

To give that extra sugar to the character of Ethan he is made to host a radio show where he speaks of life and the beauty of life. Probably Bhansali thought it would be “cool” to make this man demanding for death speak about life and colours. May be he thought it is also “cooll” to make the protagonist pass on his knowledge to a young boy even when he know that the young boy is the son of the man who is responsible for his condition. These all look like lame attempts by Bhansali to add that extra sugar to his character and gain the sympathy of the audience towards Ethan. But all these attempts fail because what he fails to do is justify the demand for euthanasia.

People like David Dhawan are at least honest to the subjects that they chose (how much ever pathetic the subjects they chose are, which in itself is a dishonesty towards art and life. But they are honest to what they chose as their subject and makes it obvious that their films are stupid) but Bhansali is so dishonest to the very subject he choses. He selling his cheap sentimental saga diluting the seriousness of the subject he choses…

In Bhansali’s films only his protagonist and people associated with the protagonist are in focus (technically on the screen also) and his film characters live like there is no world outside, which justifies the technic that he uses of keeping the rest of the world out of focus. In total the world that he creates has no gravitation…

The most disgusting part of the film is the part where Ethan decides to marry Sofia soon after he is promised by her to assist him in killing himself.  Sofiya, a nurse, whose appearance is more of a model modeling for some dress, than a nurse, has a broken marital life and manages to liberate herself, at the end, through divorce, only to come marry the man who wants die within the next 24 hours! Did Bhansali think it was romantic to marry at the threshold of death? How idiotic! How chauvinistic! Bhansali said that his mother loved the film. Wonder what she thought about the treatment given to the character Sofiya!!!

Bhansali also said that his mother loving the film is more than enough for him and would take all other opinions with a pinch of salt. Fine then Mr. Bhansali, why did you have to release the film in the theaters? We also would have loved it if you had not released such a film, which is so confused that it doesnt know what is it celebrating, life or death!

The film Guzaarish draws greatly from the oscar winning film The Sea Inside. I don’t want to compare Guzaarish with The Sea Inside, not because it is a bad attempt in re-creating The Sea Inside, but because i think drawing inspiration is perfectly fine. (I don’t want to get into ethical debates, here, whether stealing the idea of some other films in the name of inspiration is right or wrong. I also dont know what to call it, stealing or inspiration.) My problem with Guzaarish is not when placed it with The Sea Inside but looking at only Guzaarish without comparing it with The Sea Inside also doesn’t give a good experience. It fails to impress even when not compared with The Sea Inside.

My prayer, now is this: Like Ethan teaches his art to Omar Siddiqui, let not Mr. Bhansali teach his art to anyone!!!

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On ‘Pancharangi’

November 8, 2010 at 9:15 AMNov (Cinema, Friends, Letter, Media, Music, Musings, Slice Of Life)

[Here is a mail i wrote to a friend of mine on the 17 of October 2010 after watching the film Pancharangi. I am reproducing it with some changes made. These changes- rather additions- were caused by thinking and rethinking about the film in the time between writing this mail to my friend and posting it here today. This mail can be seen as my take on the film Pancharangi or my review of the film. Because it was written in the format of a mail it is being reproduced in the same format.]

 

Adaab

Yesterday I went to watch Pancharangi with Shrisha. There were mixed reactions and reviews about the film. This made me more curious about the film. I must say that i could not like Mungaru Maley for i found it to be a very chauvinistic film. When Gaalipata was released I did not bother to watch the film because Mungaru Maley had angered me. But very recently I had to watch Gaalipata for some good reason and I liked the film, though I felt that the ending was abrupt. I have been wanting to watch Mansaarey but have not yet. It was with this baggage that I went to watch Pancharangi.

When the film opened, it felt like Yogaraj Bhat was in a hurry. He gave no breathing space. Within no time things shift and progress. But he relaxes soon. But by then it appeared to me that the reviews branding the film, “heavy with dialogues” was true and seriously, i felt, that the opening title card should have read ‘Waak-Devi’ and not ‘Waagdevi Creation Presents”‘. But soon I realized that the strength of the film is not dialogues as believed popularly. Y. Bhat proves that he can do even without dialogues in the temple scene where Ambika kisses the hero. The Director goes for a slow motion shot letting the intense moment seep into us. The mood is enhanced by the sudden flow of Shreya Goshal’s magical voice singing, “Nee Bhetiyaadanta Yaavude Jaaga, Jeewada Bhaaga,” taking the audience into complete grip. Ambika runs and rings the bell and the audience slip into intense involvement in that scene. There is so much of silence in the following scene of the hero returning from the temple, letting the audience ‘feel’ the feel of the unspoken relationship. I wonder why the film was branded as dialogue heavy. There is silence in the film, there is silence in the relationship between Bharath and Ambika. The scene where Ambika reveals her heart to Bharath by the beach is equally moving. There too, though the expression is through words, the revealing is through silence. Even the last shot of the film is about a fight between silence and words. When we hear “Naanu barteene” in Bharath’s voice, we don’t see his lips move. Did he say that or did he not? Was it a speech act? Or was silence screaming? There is so much of silence within the words! I think this is where the strength lies. (May be I am wrong. Correct me if I am wrong) This is why the film appeals, it appears to me.

As everyone has been speaking the film does not have a story as such. I remember reading an open letter by Jogi to Y. Bhat where I got to know that a story-less film is something which Y. Bhat has been wanting to do from a long time. Now, looking at his Mungaru Maley and Gaalipata, I feel he was attempting it. But I think with Pancharangi he has moved much further in creating a story-less film. Though Mungaru Maley and Gaalipata, did not have a strong story-line as such and was strengthened by its narration than narrative, they did have a much ‘constructed’ narrative when compared to Pancharangi. In Panchrangi there is no constructed story as such. Things just happen, like it happens in life. Like the unknown nomadic philosopher (played by Ananth Nag) who arrives from nowhere and goes somewhere, things just come and go. In Pancharangi the ‘life inside Pancharangi’ is not aimed at the camera’s lense in a strictly determined order. It doesn’t appear like the life inside Pancharangi is waiting for Director’s instruction. Life there keeps flowing and it appears like the Director has just shot the flow but has intervened less in the course that the life inside should take. So, life inside Pancharangi is not ‘constructed’ as such. It is like life where things just happen. Life doesnt obey any script. And even the life inside Pancharangi, though scripted, is scripted like an unscripted life. Things occur by themselves and do not try to forcefully fit within the frame that the script writer-Director has invented. The story-less story of the film also flows in this manner like there is no script that is scripting its course. So, i felt “Lifeu Ishteney,” in a way is ‘life as it is.’

Though life is continuous, it is made of fragments and unrelated stuff. These unrelated things come together to make a complete. It is like a collage. Life has no meaning and purpose as such. It is being and nothingness. Similarly the film Pancharangi has stringed the fragments of life. Intersecting lives come together in a space, making an impact on each other. Every fragment is complete in itself but still a part of a larger body, like those unusual shots by the beach in the presence of Ananth Nag, which appear broken but still belongs to the very same scene. Though those shots, at times, appeared jarring, looking at it as a technical expression of the philosophy of life as a collage of broken images, the shots appear convincing.

But in the flow of speaking for and of the younger generation did Y. Bhat take the anxieties of the elder generation a bit lightly? The scene where the parents of Bharath breakdown, there is an immediate entry of the newly wed couples. This sudden shift made the entire theater laugh. Don’t mistake me as standing in support of the attitude and stand of the elders but I felt that their anxiety their melancholy- however wrong they were- should have been given more space and thus respect. The sudden entry dilutes their sorrow, as if it had no emotional value. Again I say, mistake me not for standing in their support. Even if they were wrong and responsible for their melancholy, I guess it should have been respected a bit more.

But in that very scene something unusual happens. Probably for the first time, we get to see a non-protagonists becoming heroes… The maid and the driver who are not the central character as such in the film become the hero by living a more meaningful life, according to their hearts will. The brother of the maid becomes more respectable than the parents of Bharath.

My complaint about the film is the editing. The editor should have given some breathing space between several shots in the film. These quick cuts not only make registering of certain moments in the mind and seep in, but also irritates because the mind cannot run in such a fashion.

I will surely not call the film a classic or something in those lines. But the film is an important film. What thrilled me the most was the innovative and imaginative way that Y. Bhat takes always in filming songs. Take any of his films, he has shown newer ways of filming songs. Be it the grand, “Na Dheem Tana,” of Gaalipata or the song “Ello Maleyaagide,” from Manasaarey where he makes the barren land appear so beautiful! Even in this film, the way he has filmed “Udisuve” is so imaginative…And yeah in this film Y. Bhat has given commentary to the film at regular intervals. Was he trying to involve the Yakshagana style in the film like the Bhagawata who takes the story forward with his interventions? I thought so because the film is located in Mangalore!!!

Eager to know what your reply would be…

Peace

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What Is CSR?

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Friends, Media, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

Once while walking on a narrow road in Mangalore i saw a few stones kept in a circle… As i went near i saw a manhole without the lid… I stood there thinking some repair work is going on… A man coming out from a nearby house later told… me that someone had taken the lid away (don’t know for what joy) in the night and had kept the stones so that the vehicles get to know that they need to avoid that area… It was all weird… Why would someone take away the lid of a manhole? Why would the thief be so concerned about those who will be traveling that road later? If he was really concerned why did he take away the lid? All questions came to my mind… But with all these questions that day i found a perfect image for CSR… keeping the stones was an act of CSR… shall we give the thief a pat on his back?

(Reacting to the question ‘Is Corporate Social Responsibility the human face of capitalism?’ posed by Lakshmi Shenoy on facebook)

31 October 2010

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Dharmayuddha and Jihad

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Activism, Friends, Letter, Media, Musings, Slice Of Life)

Here is a slice from a mail that Ramjan Darga Sir wrote to me. I had a short conversation with him on his writing in kendasampige (http://www.kendasampige.com/article.php?id=3818) The discussion later continued in mails. Here is a slice from his mail…

Dear Sahil,

…Conscious Hindus should start Dharmayuddha against Hindutva through spreading humanism.’ Vsudhaiva kutumabakam’ (Entire World is a Family) is the real message of Hindu Religion. Conscious Muslims should start Jihad against terrorists and fundamentalists who are creating hell in India in the name of Islam. ‘Sari Duniya Khudaka Kumbha Hai’ (Entire World is the Family of the Allah)

Our duty is to make people realize this reality and live happily with the sense of Universal cooperation.

Regards,

Ramjan Darga

27 October 2010

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Chronicles Of Poetry

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Friends, Literature, Media, Musings, Poetry, Slice Of Life)

Amrita got me the complete collection of Ahmed Faraaz poetry. Heart, mind and soul is intoxicated as of now. The book has made me revisit Salma Agha singing his ghazal ‘Zindagi Yun Thi Ke Jeeney Ka Bahaana Tu Tha.”

The most moving moment in this video clip of Salma Agha singing Ahmed Faraaz, for me, is the poet being moved to tears while listening to his own words. The song makes him restless and without noticing the ‘no smoking’ board in the studio he lights the cigarette and smokes. Every time i watch this video i wonder what brought tears in the eyes of Faraaz saheb. Was it the voice of Salma Agha or was it his own words?

We all have heard of Pandith Nehru crying while listening to Lata Mangeshkar singing ‘Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon’.  But in the Salma Agha singing Faraaz video we see a song making its own creator cry. The poet sheds tears listening to his own creation. Poetry moved not just the listener but also its writer!!!

The story of Nehru being moved to tears while listening to the song ‘Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon’ is one of those repeated stories for the construction of the idea of a nation.

Iqbal, the one who wrote ‘Saarey Jahaan Se Achcha’, wrote a lengthy poem titled ‘Shikwaah’ which is Iqbal’s dialogue with Allah. While introducing this poem to us, the translator of the poem Kushwanth Singh draws our attention to an interesting fact. He says, “Shikwaah mey be regarded as the first manifesto of the two-nation theory which was later elaborated in detail by Chaudhari Rahmat Ali and accepted as the basis of the foundation of a separate state for the Muslims (Pakistan) by Mohammad Ali Jinnah.” In 1904 Iqbal had written ‘Saarey Jahaan Se Achcha’ and in 1909 he wrote ‘Shikwaah’. The latter one, as said by Kushwanth Singh, became the seed for the two-nation theory the earlier one still remains to be one of the tool for creating the idea of nation in India.

Long ago a friend of mine was telling me that Pandith Nehru had written in his diary the lines of Frost, “I have miles to go before i sleep,” the night he died. Listening to this another friend made a remark, “Oh my God! The poem killed him???” and we all had laughed.

Recently i remembered this incident while reading the obituary of Kee. Ram. Nagaraj written by my teacher H.S. Shivaprakash. Few hours before his death Kee. Ram. was  making a “passionate speech” about his beloved poet Da. Ra. Bendre. It is said that Kee. Ram., that evening during his speech, declared “poetry is powerful therapy thanks to which he had regained his strength to make the speech, his poor health notwithstanding.” Mentioning this H.S.S. wrote, in Prajavani, “It appeared like even death dared not to touch Kee.Ram. with its icy-hands when he was speaking of poetry. He proved that though poetry cannot defeat death, it could at least postpone death by a few hours.”

16 October 2010

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Lost And Found…

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Friends, Musings, Slice Of Life)

After a long walk with two fine minds i.e. Sundar Sarukkai and Gopal Guru from Neenasam campus up to Prasunna’s house and back to Neenasam campus in Heggodu, I was overjoyed. I totally forgot, in my joy, that I had to go back to the room and collect my note book, pen, bag and wallet before entering the seminar hall.

After the first session during the tea break I went back to the room to collect my note book and pen. I also wanted to have tea so had to collect my wallet and my small diary inside which i had also kept my ATM card. I picked up my bag which was lying on the bed. Inside it was my note book and pen. I turned towards the window to collect my little diary and my wallet. I had kept on the window frame my wallet and my small diary the previous night after changing. My wallet and diary was not to be seen. I had seen it that morning while going to take bath. But after bath i did not bother to carry it with me because I thought I would collect it as soon as I am back from the morning walk.

The plan was to go for a walk with Zalina. But Zalina was late by ten minutes and by then Sundar and Gopal Guru asked me if I wanted to join them for a walk. It was an offer which I could not reject. I went for a walk and was high over spoken words. In that intoxicated state of mind i had forgotten to go back to the room and directly went to the seminar hall, after the walk.

When I returned to the room, my wallet and small diary was missing! I checked inside the folded blanket to check if I had rolled it inside, in my absence of mind and also checked it inside my bag. No, my wallet was not to be found anywhere. I checked under the bed, under the cot and where not. But could find nowhere. I got worried. Not much about the ATM card because I literally have no money in my account. The diary had important contacts. And my wallet had the cash required to reach back home. Apart from that it also had two important sheets of paper. One a poem by Prashith in his own handwriting and a poem of Ahmed Faraaz in Faizan’s handwriting on which Faizan also has a small personal note for me.

I immediately rushed to the office and informed them that my wallet and diary was missing. They too got worried because I was their guest. They immediately took me to the room and asked me to show where I had kept my belongings. They asked me several questions like, “When did you last see it?” and similar ones. The room boy was called for. But the information came that he wasn’t around. Another boy was sent in search of the room boy. By the time he could go search for the room boy, the office people and I went around a bit in search of the room boy. He wasn’t found anywhere. When going in search of him Neha alias Koosu kept asking me, if I wanted tea. I was worried and just kept avoiding her. I badly wanted tea at that point but couldn’t think of it as I was more in need of my wallet and my diary.

After a while the room boy came. He directly entered the room, when I was standing near the door. I walked in soon after he did. Pointing at the exact position where I had kept the wallet and the diary he asked, “You had kept it here, isn’t it?” I said, “Yes” feeling a bit relaxed because by the way he asked, I was a bit sure that he knew where it was. “The man who brings hot water for you saw it lying over here like an orphan, so he informed about it to Mukund Sir and handed it over to him fearing that someone might just walk away with it. It is with Mukund Sir.” I felt relieved. At the same time I felt ashamed of my irresponsible behavior. The room boy left the room saying, “Be careful Sir.”

I went in search of Mukund Sir. I was sharing the room with Mukund Sir, his son – one of my dearest friends- Prateek Mukund and Karthikey. Mukund Sir was having tea when I met him near the tea stall. He had seen me running around and had kept quite making me learn a lesson the hard way. When i went and said, “Sir….” he asked, “Have you realized you mistake?” and I held my ears, to say, through gesture, that I had made a mistake and was ashamed of myself. Taking my wallet and diary from his pocket, he said, “See if you had lost the wallet it would surely have been a loss. But not a big loss when compared to the loss of faith on human beings around you which the missing of wallet would have brought in you,” and asked, “Dint you start suspecting people around when you realized that your wallet was missing?” I put my head down, in great shame. “See, that is a much bigger loss,” he said while handing over my wallet and diary to me and added, “be careful here after.”

Yes, if the wallet went missing what I would have lost is not just the wallet, but also trust on human beings around… What a loss it would have been. More importantly there would have been a greater loss that of someone else (in all probabilities the room boy) being held responsible for the missing of the wallet calling it his irresponsibility, when the act of irresponsibility was mine!!!

My wallet was lost… I found it… Along with it i also found a new teacher in Mukund Sir… and a new realization and new wisdom…

13 October 2010

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Ayodhya Gaatha

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Friends, Media, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

Ruhi messaged me just now saying, “Baithak kahatam. Ayodhya per do baje faislaa aaney ki sambhawana.” My soul shivered. A week ago the verdict was to be announced. But it got deferred. And it was a momentary relief for all of us. That evening my mother called me up and while speaking she mentioned, “They had announced holiday tomorrow (24) and day after (25) but now they have canceled it.”

As she said that i remembered the morning of 7 Dec 1992. I was in class three. My dad woke me up and said, “its holiday for you.” There was shine in my eyes. I woke up quickly and asked my dad why was it a holiday. “They have demolished Babri Masjid,” came the answer. That was the first time i had heard about Babri Masjid. Without bothering to ask why they had demolished or what the matter was, i started off with my celebration. Narendra, Sandeep all of us gathered to play within an hour, heart in heart feeling good about the demolition of Babri Masjid. Holiday prolonged for many days. We celebrated on all the days. One of our seniors named Samartha (who i liked a lot just because his name was closer to my name) son of an editor of a leading Kannada daily, later started saying us that if BJP came to power we would get 3 months holiday because Ram Mandir had to be constructed at Ayodhya. So pressing on our parents to vote for BJP we all became a hardcore fan of BJP just for those holidays.

Today when i recollect all those days, i feel very ashamed of myself and i scream heart in heart saying, “main sharmindaa hoon.” As i type this i can hear azaan from the near by Masjid. I feel like saying it aloud once, like an azaan that, i am ashamed. It had taken very long for me to realize that 6 Dec 1992 was a dark day, which we had celebrated. By the time i realized it 2002 March was at the door. Those days Niyad had become a part of our group. I still remember some of my friends calling him a “terrorist” when the Gujarat riots was at its peak. He had tears in his eyes. It was a strange situation for me. I could not agree with what my friends said. But neither did i speak in favour of Niyad then. Today i want to go hold Niyad’s hand and say again, “Main sharmindaa hoon.”

Few years later i.e. 2005 i came across one of the finest gentleman i have know. Faizan Khan. Apart from having our usual sher-o-shayari sessions at times we also got into some serious discussions. Once while we were sitting at K.C. one of his classmates started making vulgar and fiery statements against Muslims. Faizan had silently walked from the location. The next day i met Faizan and spoke to him of the previous night and told him not to take the words of our common friend seriously and just ignore it. That was when Faizan narrated me the day of 6 Dec 1992 in his life.

The matter was getting worse. Fear had gripped all of them. Staying separately was scary. So the family of Faizan had moved to one of their relatives house in a less sensitive area. He had recollected how he saw the moving images of the Babri Masjid demolition on television. He also spoke as to how they had all stored food fearing that no food would be available. When he narrated the incident i could sense what a bitter taste that day had left behind for him. I could sense that fear of a young Faizan even in a grown up Faizan. When he narrated i did remember how i had celebrated on that day when at the same time in some other part of the world Faizan was sitting and watching television while intense fear had gripped him.

Few days ago i casually called my friend Pankaj. After our usual talks Pankaj said, “arrey bhaiyya 24 ko verdict hai.” After i expressed my fear he said, “My dad was caught in the riot that followed the demolition in 1992.” I never knew about this. Pankaj and i had never discussed the matter earlier. I was shocked to know and so asked for details. “My dad was working there those days and he got caught in the riots. You know what, he was sheltered by a Muslim family then.”

Today the same Pankaj messaged me, saying, “Hope humanity triumphs.” And as i read it i remembered the display of humanity by an unknown Muslim family which sheltered a Pankaj’s father those days. Because of them, today i can still hope…

28 September 2010

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Fear And Momentary Relief…

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Cinema, Friends, Media, Musings, Slice Of Life)

A cloudless morning woke me up. Faizan took me on his bike for breakfast. We had tea at Varma ji’s stall. Went to the University travelling on 740 and 615. Had lunch with Srajana and Anisha. Met Shiv Sir. Went to his house. Had a nice discussion on the literary scenario of Kannada. Got a pat on my back from him. Listened to his talk on ‘Pre-Modern Indian Aesthetics’ at the philosophy center. Met Srajana again. Had tea. Saw three peacocks while having tea. Went for a walk. Sat under a tree near chacha Nehru’s statue in the campus. Saw Sanil and Gopal Guru. Came back home traveling on 615 and 740. Before coming home had dinner at Balco market. The day went fine. Now sitting at home, listening to Faiz Ahmed Faiz, reciting his own poetry, i ask myself, “Wasn’t this the day which we feared?” Yes, this is the day. 24 September 2010.

Discussions and debates had begun at home among Faizan, Shoaib and me from the beginning of this month about the Ayodhya verdict. Fear had not yet knocked the door. Friend Himadri had sent an e-book which enveloped several scholarly articles on the subject of Babri Masjid and Raam Janmabhoomi. This added to our discussion. Neeraj called and started discussing the issue with Anand Patwardhan’s documentary Raam Ke Naam in the center. Fear knocked the door for the first time on Sunday the 19th. After watching the documentary Ayodhya Gaatha, we were almost about to have lunch when Faizan got a call saying, “Firing near Jama Masjid.” Having no television at home kept us in dark about what exactly the matter was. We thought it was a precursor. Internet was not working. News unavailable as to what exactly the matter was. We feared it was a precursor. I quickly messaged some friends to watch tv and inform what the matter was. Ruhi confirmed that there was firing. So did Divya Lad. Prithvi called and asked, “Is it because the Ayodhya verdict is nearing?” while confirming that there was firing.

Heartbeats were growing fast, echoing in every breath of ours. We started discussing if we Shoaib and Faizan should go to the office on 24 or not. Should i go to the University or not. There was silence in every word that we spoke. A fear filled silence. We had lunch and then Ruhi sent a message saying, “Minor blast at the same spot near Jama Masjid.” Fear increased. We sat silently for a while. I said, “You both go open the door is Muslim fundamentalist groups come and if Hindutva people come then i will go open the door.” Though we laughed at this, we knew that it was a serious plan. In a state of fear i wrote a poem, “Zamine Hilney Lagi, Rooh Kaampne Lagi…” That day passed.

The next day i woke up when a truck passed near our house. I heard some people crying slogans. I woke up in fear. I ran out to the balcony to see who they were. The truck had gone far. I couldnt see who they were. I stood there listening to my own heartbeat which was i dont know beating or shivering. After a while i came in. Sitting on the bed i started wondering what future had in its womb. Suddenly i realized that it was my cousins birthday. I called her early in the morning. After i wished her my aunt took the phone and started speaking. When i told her how we spent the previous day, she asked me to be careful and not go out on 24. My dad called me later to ask if we were fine. He must have gotten to know about the firing and the blast only while reading the newspaper. My mom was worried and so was my dad. While speaking to them, i remembered Mangalore and Udupi, about which i was not able to think because of the over powering fear. I asked my dad not to go out on 24 because i know that Mangalore-Udupi is extremely sensitive. I remembered all my friends in Mangalore and Udupi. Fear had seeped in so much that i started thinking, if i will see all of them when i return or not.

Tuesday passed. Wednesday arrived. Neeraj called to inform that Headlines Today was screening Anand Bhai’s film Raam Ke Naam on Wednesday and Thursday. It was Thursday. Smita Kaikini messaged asking us to get food, in advance, for two days. Rahmat Tarikere sent a lengthy sms on communal harmony. Anand Bhai sent a message about his film being screened. When i called my dad to tell him that the film is being screened he said, “Karnataka is very tensed. Holiday has been announced on Friday and saturday.” When i called a reporter friend of mine in Mangalore he said, “We are all tensed. Looks like something is going to happen.” That night i called Aravinda. He said, “Be careful. Delhi is quite sensitive.” I said in return, “you too be careful becaue Hyderabad is also sensitive.” While going to sleep from a distant past i heard the voice, “jump jump jump…” It was the voice of Mariyam, my dear friend Abid’s younger sister. She was around 3 years old when she was running all around the house saying, “jump jump jump…” memory of which is still fresh in my mind. I remembered her, i remembered Abid, i remembred Abid’s mother. I remembered all those victims of communal violence whom i had met as a reporter…

Thursday morning Faizan, while leaving for office said, “please get maggi and other eatable stuff for two days.” Fear was in air that we were breathing. As i was typing down my research proposal i started it by saying, “My generation has not seen any progressive movement. All we witnessed was the regressive Ram Janmabhoomi movement. As i saw the movement hammer democrasy and humanity i always wondered why we do not have any strong left movement. This question drew my interest towards this research topic which i want to explore.” As i was typing my proposal Ruhi sent a message saying, “Judgment postponed.” What a relief it was…. But it did not take much time to realize that it was just a momentary relief….

25 September 2010

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Yamuna [Live]

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Media, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

All Characters, incidents mentioned here are aboslutely non-fictional (if ToI has reported the truth) and any resemblance to anything living or dead is purely intentional.

 

Scene one:

Residents clung to trees. In the distance all one can is rooftops going under water.

 

Scence two:

Matorna looks on helplessly as a large wooden trunk floats far away with her belongings. Young Mithlesh jumps into the water to save the box. He swims in the high current against the pressure of wind. He manages to reach the trunk and pushes it against the wind before a rescue boat reaches him just in time. People watched with bated breath.

 

Scene three:

A boat reaches the embankment and unloads men women and children.

 

Scene four:

The traffic movement is slow as commuters stop to take snaps of the river. Some even decide to park and take a break along the waterfront.

 

Secene five:

The weekend crowd flocks to the banks to see a sight it is not accustomed to. Icrea-cream and chaat stalls apear. The owners seemed happy as visitors left only after a mouthful of golgappas and spicy chaat.

Families step close to the water to feel the clean Yamuna for a change. A 21 year old Deepak gets drowned while he watches the river.

 

Scene six:

Water has entered the creamtorium. Grieving relatives pray for the water to recede.

 

Secene seven:

Jaspal Singh (35), a businessman from west Delhi tells the media, “Yamuna is considered a dead river. We hardly get to see water in it. This is a rare sight we did not want to miss. I saw the water levels on TV and came out, along with my wife and children, to savour the moment.”

Anjali, who was moved to the bank from a submerged area told the media: “Water never reaches this kind of a level. Even though the water started rising on Friday night most residents stayed put thinking it would soon recede. But panic struck the settlement around midnight when the farms were knee-deep in water. On Saturday everything was submereged.”

Sandeep Arora, a student said, “It is beautiful to see the river flow like this. Otherwise it is more or less just a filthy drain. I feel sorry for those who live on the banks of the river; but they should have been more careful.”

 

[Note: These incidents were reported byTimes of India, New Delhi on 12 Septmeber 2010. I just selected these incidents from different reports from the newspaper and knitted them together in this structure.]

 

Prayer: Yamune, ellara mele irali karune…

12 September 2010

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Peepli Live: A Comment On Itself?

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Cinema, Media, Musings, Slice Of Life)

Celebratory reactions for the film Peeli Live made me hold back my initial reaction to the film. I started suspecting my own reading of the film. I suspected not just because of the celebratory reactions and reviews but also because of the noisy crowd that made viewing of the film not so easy. I also decided to watch the film again, but the film moved out of the theatre within a week giving me no second chance to watch the film. Many days have passed since i watched the film and i still feel what i felt soon after watching the film. So finally i decide to write it down and voice my opinion, making way for discussion and also learning, in case i am wrong.

First of all, though the film projects itself like a film on farmer suicide, it is not one. It is another film on media insensitivity. It speaks of how, for media, only sensational issues are important, like that of Natha’s suicidal thoughts, but not daily struggle of farmers, like the unknown farmer digging the earthl. But how much space does the film give to the struggle of farmers? How much does it speak of the condition which pushes the farmers to take the step of suicide? Why should it, one might ask when the focus of the film is on media insensitivity. By not showing (it only knocks at the door but doesnt open it) the film becomes like one of those several media that it is critiquing. It becomes a comment on itself, it appears to me. The camera, by going for a slow motion, mourns for the death of a journalist but remains quite indifferent to Natha and his plight. But in the end by giving statistics on farmer suicide the film poses like it was all about farmers.

Satire is not a joke. Creating a work of satire is not at all a joke. Slight mishandling can make it insensitive to the subject it is handling by making the work appear as a mockery of the subject it is handling. Many complain of the majority being unable to understand that the comedy is superficial and tragedy essential. Yes, but are we giving the director a margin through these comments by making the larger public the criminals? Couldn’t it also be a slight mishandling by the director which makes the satire slightly insensitive? I personally thought the Director did not handle the genre of satire quite well. That is why the audience laugh, it appears. Like the light on the screen that also falls on the audience the insensitivity on the screen also falls on the audience making their faces visible, i think.

Saying this i must say that it is a nice attempt, of bringing the marginalized on the screen again, for which the Director deserves an applause. But i think the film is overrated.

02 September 2010

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