Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Prediction for Spaniard

I'm not ashamed to say it: the second thing I do with the newspaper every morning - after scanning the headlines - is to turn to the horoscope page. On days when the trainee journalist who's predicting my day has nice things to say, I believe everything the stars tell me. On days when it is clear that those who were responsible for setting the page can't tell a fire sign from a water sign, I read them all to see which horoscope is really mine.

I read my Tarot predictions on Facebook and never ask why they only have cards from the major arcana (or whatever); when I want something really badly, I see signs everywhere; I wish on mail vans; I leave nothing to chance and everything to interpretation.

This morning, via (of all places) Harriet, I find this thing called Oblique Strategies. So far I've got 'What would your best friend do?" (I don't know. How do I find out who is my best friend anyway?), 'Cascades" (very enlightening), "Just carry on" (thanks very much. Just when I was planning to wallow and/or live in the past) and "Give the name away" (interesting it should say that. Who was it who just pointed out to me that we need more than one name in our lifetimes? [no, don't tell me. I know who]. At any rate, since I can't give the game away, I'm ready enough to give the name away: now who's volunteering? Who's had enough of their name - ??!, you stepping up to the plate?) and - wait for this (because it took me three hits on the random button) "Do the washing up". Thanks a bunch.

It's only 7.33 am. I could do this for the next several hours.

I'll make one prediction that OS, the horoscope and the Tarot are not going to make for me that is going to be completely accurate: if I don't get off the net and back to work, I'm not going to meet my deadline.

This foretelling the future is so easy.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bringing the audience in

, by Shivajee Chandrabhushan, is finally being screened in a commercial theatre. It is one screening, so nobody should get their hopes up or anything.

if you want to see it, "Just drop in at the Cinemax gate at 9:45 and ask for Triparna or Sumit," says the director.

The Passion for Cinema link above has lots of You Tube clips. In a eparate post, Danny Denzongpa is interviewed.

Please, please go watch it. I promise to be suitably jealous. (Bah. I already am jealous. I hate all of you who've already seen it. And I never got that photo of Tony Leung Chiu-wai to make it up to me. Bah.)

That's tomorrow, 10 am, Cinemax Infiniti Mall, Versova. Be there at 9.45 if you want to watch it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Not A Muse Anthology

Poems in the forthcoming Not A Muse Anthology, though you'd have to click on the link to see my name on the full list of contributors.

I've developed a bad habit of not remembering, offhand, what poems I've sent where. That's mostly because I haven't been writing very much poetry and everything I've written has already been sent somewhere and they're all coming home to roost or have sunk into decent obscurity.

The anthology also has poems by Mani Rao, Anindita Sengupta and Nitoo Das.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What Dreams May Come: Luck By Chance

For the first time in nearly ten years, I can find the tiniest little regret that I decided to leave behind the world of film making. It's not a serious one or even one that will last the week out but watching Luck By Chance, I was just a little bit sad for the choices I had made and thankful that that relentless cheerfulness in the face of everyday failure need not be mine. All that ambition, all that networking (what a polite word it is), that resentment, pushiness, and keeping an eye on the main chance - so exhausting.

Banno says:

A filmmaker friend recently said to Teja, "I'm going to make only commercial films now." Yes, you can make a choice to make commercial films, if you know the stars and the CEOs of the production houses. But if you don't, can you do anything but make a low-budget film without stars and probably, without release? Or worse, sit at home, wondering what you should do with yourself.

Corporate job, alcohol, table tennis, blogging, cricket, poetry, teaching, video rental store, general store, accu-pressure, yoga, drugs, sex, affairs, violence, drudgery, tantra, mantra, rings, numerology, boredom.

All that and more besides. It must be - it is - a film that cuts too close to the bone for everyone who is or ever was a part of it. My favourite bit (apart from Farhan Akhtar, I need hardly add. I now officially have a crush on him) is the title sequence with its patent affection for every bit of this mad, separate universe and those who people it.

Madhur Bhandarkar should watch (with his scriptwriter, of course) this film and learn something -anything - from it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dev D: Nothing like a review

Just back from watching Dev D. No time for a proper review, so some general points of interest and thinking aloud will have to do.

What fascinated me most about this reworking of the tired old story of an essentially annoying character is one of perception and drama and how the two are connected. Let me explain: the Dev(das) character is a feckless, annoyingly self-absorbed, addictive personality who has, inexplicably, the love of two strong and very likable women. I have never been convinced by why this should be. For the first time it seems that there might be a way to see this character in a new way.

In Dev D, the three main characters are frequently seen reflected in mirrors in key scenes*: when Dev rejects Paro and she returns to her room, we see her reflection (we don't see her; that is to say, there is only one Paro in the frame and that is the reflection) and we watch as she observes her grief turn into anger and then resolution. Likewise, Chanda is often seen in the mirror watching her own transformation every day from a school and then college-going girl into a call girl who allows herself to be transformed into whoever her clients want her to be - nurse, school girl, dominatrix.

The first evidence we have that such self-awareness is not given to Dev is when he returns from London and we see him with his back to the mirror, looking at something (I've already forgotten, can you imagine!) in his hand. He doesn't look at himself; only we are aware that he is doubled, both himself and his reflection. Through the film, we will see him reflected many times in mirrors, or infer his reflection (as when we see him in his Paharganj hotel room, from the side, as he bends over the washbasin. We don't see the mirror but we know it is there) but we will notice that he never looks at himself with the attention that the women give to their own faces.

What we do see, however, is Dev's face transformed and distorted. Twice he puts his head under water and as if from a different medium, as a different life-form, we observe his face bloated and bubbled-over with his breath**; at other times, he takes a deep drag from his joint but it is our perception of him that becomes distorted and unreal, as if we had inhaled instead of him.

With Paro and Chanda, we are kept at a distance, aware of the separateness of the drama of their lives; with Dev, we are complicit in it; we are transformed by his drama, because we - like him - can't always see him clearly.


There were two or three missteps that for me diluted the impact of the film. Strangely enough, it wasn't the supposedly dragging second half - I didn't have a problem with that at all; I thought every bit of it necessary.

The missteps:

1. The scene on the bus where (SPOILER ALERT if this is important for you) he eats the woman's ticket because she's going on an on at him. It's a lift from a German short film. (Will put up the name and director and all later, once I've looked for it among my DVDs.) Now this is unlikely to be a homage because it's not a well-known or much-watched film. It's a lift. One that might go mostly undetected, but I've seen that short film and I feel a teeny bit disappointed.

2. The one sole voice-over in Dev's own voice when he's picking up a bonanza of one rupee coins from a faulty PCO and is almost run over by a driver who's as drunk as he was when he killed people just a couple of reels ago - it's totally out of character.

3. Does Paro really have to wash the man's clothes for him?

4. Chanda takes her name after watching the Bhansali Devdas. To have a character who's watched the film and yet remains oblivious of the connections seems a little odd to me. I mean, if there was anyone who could have pulled it off it would have been Kashyap, so that was a little disappointing.

5. The ending. I mean, please. Couldn't there have been some teeny little thing to indicate that that was a false trail? (It was, wasn't it? Please say it was. I mean, if it wasn't, where was the sunset?)


I can't get over how well the film was cast, especially in its main characters. Just superb.


Statutory Audience Watch:

One kid behind us who cried during the interval. Another one elsewhere who cried soon after but whose parents wouldn't leave the hall.

Two whole rows of young lads who had already seen the film, knew the dialogues and insisted to letting the whole theatre know they knew.

A hall full of giggling men and women during the cane field scene.

One idiot who, once the film was over, celebrated by scattering the remaining popcorn over his friends like confetti.

*Even as early on as when Dev and Paro are children, and the father decides to send him away to England to study, we see Paro's reflection standing behind Dev even as she stands in her own person in front of him; but it is in the reflection that we see her expressions.

**And what a shot it is! Blue and surreal until you begin to notice the water tinged with red around the nose and then the mouth. Then, when he pulls his head out of the water, you wonder if you imagined the blood and why it felt so plausible.

Monday, February 16, 2009

not the Dev D review

Why was I so foolishly certain that we would get tickets for the 1.30pm show of Dev D? Why did I assume that people would be at work, that I didn't need to book tickets in advance? We watched the last four tickets being bought by the person in front of us. Later, I went in to find out if the net booking people had no-showed but they had and we booked tickets for tomorrow instead.

But the screw up is, tomorrow is an unexpected holiday for my son and a 1.30pm show (for which we have tickets) clashes with his holiday as horribly as ice cream does with dosai molagapodi.

And you know why he has a holiday? Because 50 kids from his school (class 8 and up) are going for a Right to Walk event from their school to the Goethe Institut. What is this in aid of? Reclaimng the road, basically. Anyone who walks from where the flyover descends back past the British Council down the GHMC road and AdarshNagar to the GZ knows that there is no footpath and some very chaotic traffic. There are other issues than pedestrian safety involved; there are issues of gender - that the kids are going to be made aware of.

All of which means the younger kids get the day off.

So Dev D tomorrow and some hand-wringing about where to put the kid.


In the meanwhile, the one good thing that happened today is I finally got my copy of the South Asian Review (28: 3), which has three of my poems. No link, I'm afraid. I'd almost forgotten which ones.


Ranjit mails to point out that 'The Randomiser's Survival Guide' (the poem, not the book), which I didn't find links to in October, is now up on the Green Integer blog along with a few other poems. Go read.


Also, the things I haven't linked to are legion but it's too late now: the KGAF and the Caferati Contests; the Almost Island Conference, now in it's third year (the good news is that there'll probably be a juicy issue online soon); and oh - god knows what else. Lot's of interesting stuff.

Anyone here a member of this 70mm thingy? They promise to deliver films to your doorstep, claim to have some amazing catalogue but when I asked if they had some film the girl said she'd call me back and never did. Is this what I can expect for 299 bucks a month? Or does someone have a heart-warming tale to share?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin's Legacy

To mark the 200th anniversary of Darwin, a series of lectures available on YouTube, from Lecture 1 through to Lecture 10. [via]

Apologies to those of you who've already seen/heard this. I'm just beginning. And I'm going to ration myself.

KM, happy?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A lizard...

for Amit

(even if it's too little too late).


Don't stop me even if I've said this already, but I kind of like the lizards - geckos, actually - at home. This has to be the only family of lizards I've ever met that has evolved out their suction cups on their feet. So what they do is scurry across the floors with no thought thought to or fear of these huge creatures with flat feet that might crush them.

(I crushed one such lizard on the kitchen floor the other day. What was I to do? I was cooking and the stupid creature was getting underfoot. I felt it crack through my chappals: a shudder-inducing synaesthetic experience it was too.)

But in general this family and ours are great friends. We politely make way for each other on the steps - I stand by and watch as they flop from one stair to the next (if they're going down) or heroically risk verticals (if they're going up).

Like the lizard in Amit's forthcoming book, I suspect we actually talk to them - I know I do - and despite not getting one word they say, some real understanding exists.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Resul Pookutty on Slumdog

I thought doing the sound for the show that we shot in studio is going to be easy for me.
It’s a television show, everything is controlled, two people sitting and talking. It’s a film based on the show, the show is so huge and popular. They did not want to change anything about the format. That posed an incredible challenge as we cannot shoot a film the way you shoot television and he wanted to shoot everything live. That’s how they shoot the show in television. It’s in one take. Danny wanted to do it in a similar manner. There are nine video cameras running, at the same time there is live switching going on; there are other scenes in the movie between which the show is coming in –so its part of the whole film- so shooting live for the television, at the same time its being covered by film and digital cameras. So we had to record sound on television camera at one level and digital camera at another level.
It’s a Dolby digital film, needs to be recorded in 5.1 surround. In that situation, I had to do a television mix, mix for an editor, so I ended up having 17-18 tracks of recording, which is unheard of. I had to create a pulley system where I was swinging microphones, opening up computer screens, putting microphones there. We recorded the shoot of the television show in surround, something no one has done in the world.
On the first day, I was crying. I used to feel very frustrated. There was a lot going on -fighting with people in Dharavi, humungous amount of crowd control, fights on locations with team. It was a total chaos.

More here.
Thanks, Praba.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

gather ye pink chaddis while ye may

and send it to the mugs at the Rama Sene.

Here's how.

Update: This is where to send your contribution.

The Pink Chaddi Campaign,
C/O Alternate Law Forum,
122/4 Infantry Road
(opposite Infantry Wedding House)
Bangalore 560001

Contact person: Nithin (9886081269)

There will, apparently, be a deadly serious press conference (with all the pink chaddis piled up before being sent off) where solemn statements will be made.

This is when I regret not having included Nisha in my pink Rockin' Girl Blogger badge handing-out session.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

okay, slumdog

So what's the fuss about, really?

Here's what I think:

  1. Danny Boy is going to make one crawling through shit scene a signature of his ouvre; you just wait and watch. That's going to be his Hitchcock contribution to the world of cinema.
  2. Not sure about this, because I may have imagined the whole thing, but did the guy pretending to be Amitabh Bachchan sign an autograph with his left hand? Is Aby a leftie? And I don't mean politically, of course.
  3. So that chase through the slums. In case you weren't paying enough attention to the title, that crazy tilting camera has one shot of a mongrel curled up in the path, looking askance at this line of ragged kids being chased by cops.*
  4. Those cuts away and away to show the size of the slum did nothing for me. Is this a fun chase sequence or a recce for Google Maps?
  5. In fact, let's say it here and have done: the whole film did nothing for me. Not the characters, not the music, not the structure, nothing. I was bored.
  6. Except when I was being indignant with those out-synch bits. How come no one's mentioned those yet? Or do they just take it for granted?
  7. Not sure if the Hindi version would have worked better. I suspect it would but I'm not watching it again to find out.
  8. You want feel good? Go watch Oye Lucky Lucky Oye.
  9. Update: Not sure why I forgot to mention this: under the general heading of Opportunities Lost comes two versions of a dialogue Danny Boy didn't use from our Great Indian Tradition. This concerns a scene at the end, when Jamal finally meets Latika at VT and they kiss.
Version 1.

JAMAL sees LATIKA across a train. She turns and also sees him. JAMAL crosses the platform, across the tracks and climbs up to where LATIKA is. They fall into each others' arms and the camera begins to circle around them.

LATIKA (drumming her tiny fists on JAMAL's shoulder): I hate you! I hate you! I hate you! (whispers) I love you.

JAMAL kisses LATIKA.**

Version 2.

JAMAL sees LATIKA across a train. She turns and also sees him. JAMAL crosses the platform, across the tracks and climbs up to where LATIKA is. They fall into each others' arms and the camera begins to circle around them.

JAMAL: I love you.

LATIKA (drumming her tiny fists on JAMAL's shoulder): Kiss me, you fool!***


Update 2: Here's Kiran David with a bottle of acid.

*For the best, the definitive chase sequence involving Bombay slums, watch Kashyap's Black Friday. That is a brilliant sequence, one that Danny Boy would have done well to have studied.

** Of course, this scenario is rather inexplicable, given the circumstances but that oughtn't to have discouraged Danny Boy, seeing as so much of the film already is.

***They actually went with this version but left out the crucial 'you fool'. Everyone knows millionaires are not fools.

Monday, February 02, 2009

'F' Words

Re-ordering our bookshelves yesterday, my son and I discovered a Dr. Seuss book I don't remember buying for him. Oh Say Can You Say is like Fox in Socks, in that the books are essentially a series of increasingly more complex tongue-twisters.

I have to confess that I've never had any problems in reading aloud either book. I don't stumble or mix up the words but then I'm not a 5-10 year old. There's no reason for this flush of pride that I can see creeping up my cheeks.

On the other hand, I noticed that though I didn't disgrace myself, I did have the teeniest problem with the chapter titled 'Fritz Food'. For those of you who don't know, this is how it ends:

"I'm a Fred-fed Fritz,
Fred's a Fritz-fed Fred."

And this in turn reminded me that I am supposed to have routinely substituted an 's' for an 'f' when I was a kid. (This is not something I remember by myself-it constitutes one of those memories that you think are yours only because someone's re-told something so many times to you.) Most especially, I used to say 'san' for 'fan' but have no memory - it not having been reinforced - of saying 'sather' or 'suppose I sought with you today, does it mean we are kattis sorever?'

I also don't remember that second 'f's were a problem. Which means I most certainly did not say 'sulsilled' though it is not clear whether I said 'sulfilled' instead (as in, 'Amma, I have fulfilled the bucket'.*)

We all have our fumbles with the language, and it's all fascinating.

All of this caused a friend to wonder if I did the reverse - substitute an 'f' for an 's': 'Fing a Fong os Fixfence".

No, I didn't! That totally sucks, don't you think?

*This is true and it is not cute, though I admit I may have put it in just so someone can say it, in which case I might - though only secretly - curl my lip a bit.)

word of the day


Meaning both 'shady' and 'full of indignation'. A, how shall I say it, courageously diverse word. The bonus is, it sounds totally made up, like something a precocious kid might come up with to use up the scrabble tiles any which way.

Related word (which I did make up in a story I wrote for my son long ago):

Debricious: Full of debris and looking good with it.