The perks of getting older

That urge to revisit. To take things slow. To see a film again. To read a much loved book again and not rush the process. It appears contradictory because as we grow older we realize we have less time. But really knowing something changes things, doesn’t it? I know I will never be able to read all the books I want, watch all the movies and series I want. Time is more limited than I had thought and flies far more quickly, especially when you are not paying attention. I realize being aware of your mortality is a good thing.

It is the strangest thing. On some days going through a day is hard with time barely passing, and getting to the next day is a struggle. Yet we struggle with time. If that is not a paradox I don’t know what is. If nothing life has a sense of humour. Irony is what makes the world go around.

 

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October is not a love story.

There are few movies where I immediately want to go back to the world it portrayed and my first thought after watching Shoojit Sircar’s October was just that – I have to watch it again. This is not a movie review but a discussion. Spoilers ahead.

For some reason October reminded me of The Big Sick (another movie I wanted to see again as soon it finished) even though the leads Dan and Shiuli aren’t romantically inclined like the real life couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon in the former. Perhaps because like The Big Sick, October dealt with something catastrophic happening out of the blue with humour.

I am foolish. I am naive. I am easily irritated. I am moody. I get affected by things which most people shrug off without a care. I am frequently annoying and have been known to speak out of turn when I should have kept my head down and stare at my feet. I hold on and be direct in the wrong-est of situations, and do things because I want to without thinking of returns in the hope of things working out even when there’s no chance of it. In short your typical Aries. (No better time than Aries season to embrace who I am.) So I could relate to Dan’s character in the film October more than I’d like to admit.

I don’t believe October is about a romantic relationship of any kind. Affection, connection and love are different things. But people have always seen what they wish to see. Although Dan and Shiuli work in the same hotel they had barely interacted with each other outside of work when she was conscious. Most of their interactions are after the accident. Shiuli cannot reciprocate Dan’s affection or repay what he has done for her but he continues tirelessly without hoping for much, a little (flash of) recognition maybe, and, of course, her recovery.

Dan finds a cause which changes the direction of his life. He insinuates himself into something which actually isn’t any of his business. And through this obstinacy and refusal to even admit a negative outcome or become jaded he actually gives hope to a family in a trying time, in a situation devoid of much hope.

Why did he fight for her? The world asks him why does he care so much. Can’t he get a grip on himself? Why is he so affected? To which he says how can you be so unaffected! They see him throwing his life away for a girl he barely knew because of something she said before the accident. They were colleagues not friends. It is perhaps feeling for someone who met a grisly end for no fault of her own and caring because they got the rough end of the deal which could have easily happened to him. Though I am the last person on the planet to admit this, I have seen enough of life to acquiesce that some occurrences in life cannot be explained in rational terms.

Setting the movie in a hospital is bound to connect with people. There is no one in the world untouched by sickness or hasn’t been a patient or a caregiver and dealt with such things in a family member or a relative. And though they are not happy places for me, I have made my peace with them. Knowing about medicines, chit chatting with the staff while waiting for the doctors felt like familiar territory.

Gitanjali Rao is outstanding as the mother of Shiuli trying to hold it together when faced with mounting hospital bills and imminent death of her eldest child. Her children, Shiuli’s siblings, go to tuitions and study in the hospital and she continues to take classes at IIT Delhi, sticking to their routines for the sake of sanity. I have loved her stunning short films as an animator and now adore her as an actor.

Banita Sandhu as Shiuli is especially amazing in the slow recovery and progress scenes.

The cinematography by Avik Mukhopadhyay is amazing; the quiet moments never drag but allow you to appreciate what is unfolding with an intensity that is immersive. The changing of seasons while circumstances in life’s barely keep pace with it is captured well. It took me back to a time in my life when I couldn’t do much except note the passage of seasons. This is what good cinema does, you experience the film and connect it with the story of your life.

Continue reading “October is not a love story.”

Jurassic World and the return of wonder

The other day I saw the trailer for the new Jurassic World movie and shared it with my friends. We squealed like school girls quite unlike world weary adults that we are, and decided that June 2018 was a long time to wait. This movie is special to our generation because as kids it was probably one of the first movies we saw in theatres which brought a different world alive to us. Sadly they haven’t kept the magic alive. Jurassic World was a waste of a brilliant premise. Dinosaurs paraded around like cattle. People riding dinosaurs like donkeys isn’t what we come to see in cinemas. A big mela but with dinosaurs as a spectacle for the movie going audience. Frankly I was underwhelmed.

There is a line in the movie, “No one is impressed by a dinosaur anymore and the kids look at it like it’s an elephant”, which I quite agree with. The number of herbivores roaming around in lush greenery was unbelievable. Ever heard of the phrase too much of a good thing?

Dinosaurs used for military purposes was bizarre and we actually see them hunt like a pack of wolves. Evolutionarily hounds didn’t come into picture until much later. In a movie aimed at kids there was too much violence. Or perhaps I’m just old school.

Filling in the gaps in genome with the genes of other animals (like the ability to camouflage from the tree frog) was far from believable. But some parts were shown well like imprinting, rearing in isolation and an animal figuring out its place in the food chain.

I couldn’t channel the 6 year old in me to keep pace with the 10 year olds who were watching it with me. My movie viewing was peppered with far too many questions than I’d have liked. (Note to self – never take two 10 year olds to the movies together.) The solo movie going experience is delightful and more immersive as you are left alone with your thoughts. I realized, barring a few close friends I am now used to watching movies alone and I like it that way (will wonders never cease?). But it was also quite nice. I was sneaking looks to see the expressions on their faces to gauge if they were following the story and enjoying the movie or were scared so I will be prepared accordingly. When there was a blood curling scream and my young cousin sank into her seat petrified I realized there is no preparation here, you learn on the spot. (Parents have my utmost respect.)

Continue reading “Jurassic World and the return of wonder”

Chod aaye hum woh galiyaan

When I saw the song Chod aaye hum woh galiyaan from Maachis, I couldn’t remember if I had seen the film but the song felt familiar to me and the visuals unfamiliar to me. How is this possible? I love this song and didn’t even know it existed until yesterday. Yes, you can safely say I’m losing my mind or is it something serious like going mad? Well I can hear my school mates saying, “we knew that you will end up in Ranchi”. It’s such a shame I didn’t write diary entries during  those days. It would have made mining out information so much easier.

When I was a kid I went to see films with my maternal aunt and her friends. She took me along, mind you, I didn’t tag along or demand to go with her. But I don’t remember if she took me with her to see Maachis or if it  was a recommendation by her? Guess I will have to ask her and I really hope her memory is better than mine. With Gulzar it was bound to be a double treat. He has directed Maachis and the lyrics are also penned by him. Vishal Bhardwaj is the Music Director. Now you know what I’m talking about.  I have a movie to (re)watch until then you check out the song.

Life on the other side of twenty. It’s all downhill I tell you. Nobody told me that  20 is the new 40. Well I have always been an old soul. Is that all I hear you say? I was not the forgetful sort but lately I have been having trouble with my memory and none of my friends take it seriously. They think I’m exaggerating. The bane of having self-depreciating humour is that no one believes you even when you are screaming the truth out loud. They think you are always trying to make people laugh by putting yourself down. No amount of wailing or complaining will get me my memory back or for that matter my past life. Believe me I have tried both and it’s not something you want to ever see.

A song can bring back many memories, memories you didn’t know you still had but they are there somewhere. I have a uncle who looks like Chandrachur Singh, who I had always associated with Kya Kehna and suddenly I remembered that he(not my uncle but the actor) was also in a movie called Yeh Silsila Hai Pyaar Ka. Before you roll your eyes, when I was young I wasn’t that discerning a movie watcher. I just looked stupidly at the moving pictures and it’s safe to say I have watched some pretty ridiculous and lame movies oblivious to their greater purpose. Oh wait you weren’t bothered about the movies but were alarmed by my scattered thoughts? Well  it’s not in my hands (resigned look on my face).

When watching a movie alone isn’t what you bargained for

In the darkness of the movie theatre all my worries fade, the world falls back and fades to black. It’s just me and the story. Or is it?

Of late I have come into my own watching movies alone in the theatre, so I was surprised when I didn’t want to see Fitoor alone. I had asked a friend but she was busy, so here I was. I was embarrassed that I would look like some loser (we might be  losers but we surely don’t want to look like one) because it would be the Valentine’s weekend. The worst time on the planet to be alone, bombarded by mush from all sides (you can only escape it on the moon) and the marketing gimmicks are scaled up to such levels that sometimes I doubt it’s a conspiracy against singletons (Thank you Bridget Jones!). If there was ever a time to declare to the world that I am happy watching movies (romantic or otherwise) alone, then the time is now.

My friend cautioned me not to go see Fitoor on Friday as I am not too fond of crowds. It was a Friday and a holiday so a crowd was expected. On Saraswati Puja, instead of paying obeisance at the feet of the goddess of learning, how was I to know that people will rush to the theatres and bow down at the altar of entertainment.

1146 a.m. A burgeoning crowd outside and the door is yet to open. And here we were irritated because the lift opened at every floor (nobody got in seeing how many people were already crammed inside). I could almost hear the collective sigh of frustration.

1150 a.m. I am in my seat. None of my seat mates (I don’t know what else to call them) have arrived and I wished no one would but it was the first day and the last four rows are always in demand.

I’m not the only one who came alone to watch a romantic movie before the  V-day weekend and this fact fills me with glee. There’s a guy in the row in front of me, who’s sitting alone, nearly in the middle of the row. He will be squished by unknown people on both sides. An uncomfortable proposition. I always take the aisle seat so that one side is always empty. A guy came and sat in the seat next to me and he’s flying solo too. Continue reading “When watching a movie alone isn’t what you bargained for”

A Minor Incident

A Minor Incident by Badly Drawn Boy is a song I really like. The lyrics make sense and the tune is easy to latch on to. The scenario for which it is used in the movie is quite specific. Toni Collette plays Fiona, Marcus’s mother. The song is Fiona’s plea to Marcus (before she offs herself) to carry on living without her. And that she will be watching over him from up above the clouds(provided she goes to heaven). I first heard it in About a Boy which I found really endearing. Not many people agree with me on this but as per me it was one of the more mature performances of Hugh Grant.

The movie is fun to watch, has a good dose of tongue in cheek humour. The interactions of the worldly wise Marcus(played to perfection by Nicholas Hoult)who’s twelve  with a thirty something, yet to grow up Will (played by Hugh Grant) who doesn’t work but goofs around and has no real purpose in life except perhaps finding people to date and be totally unattached. The hassle free life is his goal and he manages to live that way most of the time till his life collides with Marcus. It’s what they bring to each others lives and how they are both changed and see a new way of life, the order of things, the way they view life, through each others prisms forever alters their world views. The dialogues are funny and Nick Hornby has to be given due credit because it is based on his  novel of the same name. I have read it and I liked it but somehow  I  liked the movie better than the book. I always try to read the book before seeing the movie if I know that the movie is based on a book but I didn’t know that this time around. May be I should read it again some time.
The movie begins with these  lines-
Will: All men are islands. And what’s more, this is the time to be one. This is an island age. A hundred years ago, for example, you had to depend on other people. No one had TV or CDs or DVDs or home espresso makers. As a matter of fact they didn’t have anything cool. Whereas now you can make yourself a little island paradise. With the right supplies, and more importantly the right attitude, you can become sun-drenched, tropical, a magnet for young Swedish tourists. 
It ends on a very different note. Lemme go and watch it again. You guys have a great Sunday.
Cheers !!

Of Gates of Heaven and Angels

The song “Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen won the Academy Award for Best Original Song(for Philadelphia of course) and four Grammy Awards.But that’s not why its one my favourites. For me the song is inextricably linked with Philadelphia(the movie) and the compelling story it told. At the time I had thought that the song had no independent existence without the movie because I felt that the strong feelings it conjured up in me had everything to do with the movie and not the song itself(I was young and naive).But with time I understood the larger picture(or at least I think I have) and the song is powerful as a standalone piece,the lyrics poetry and the theme universal.

There’s something healing about the song,something hopeful and at the same time there is an element of pathos in it,bleakness descends upon you ,leaving you vulnerable and raw, yet in the end you emerge somehow stronger. These are the kind of sentences you get from my feeble pen(and might I add limited vocabulary) when I try to explain the profound and far reaching impact  music has on me(and everyone else).