Thoughts on Life Itself

A realization has dawned upon me that all the words in English language, or for any language for that matter, fail to express even the minuscule of what one actually feels, for they are nothing but sounds designating concepts and these concepts are more or less frequently recurring and associated group of sensations, basically – just arrant commonness and our emotions happen to be beyond that. Another duly realization is that through incessant use and reuses, the phrase ‘life-changing’ has lost the ability to refer to anything but itself. So when I thought to open this piece of writing with the words ‘Roger Ebert changed my life’, I realized it was an obligation on my part to point out the trappings of language my feelings would be inscrutably confined to. Words cannot possibly let you, my dear friend, to fathom the love and admiration and gratefulness I have towards the man. Yet try the best I must, fully knowing that only failure awaits me at the end of this endeavor, for as Ernest Hemingway once said ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down and bleed’ and all this bleeding for cinema in this blog would be an exercise in utter futility if not to have bled for the very man who inspired me to start this blog in the first place. So, having made a daft effort to confirm that all the inadequacies you will find in the article set to follow are legit, I conclude this prelude and begin :-

Roger Ebert changed my life. Not how I live it obviously, but rather how I look at it, which I believe is far more important. And having warded off from using hyperbole for some time now for the fear of getting indigestion later from eating my words (which has happened more often than I care to admit), I have made hell sure that this statement holds irrevocably true and I believe it does, for whenceforth I have discovered them, movies have been my life and Ebert has changed how I look at them. I still remember that me from three years ago, teary-eyed, prancing around with a never-before experienced euphoria after just having finished watching Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation at two in the morning. That was the first Ebert review I read, and believe me, Roger made sure with it that it wouldn’t be the last. The ending lines of that review were, and I can still quote it from memory ‘Do we need closure? This isn’t a closure kind of movie. We get all we need in simply knowing they share a moment private to them, and seeing that it contains something true before they part forever’. I remember clenching my fists after having read it, trying helplessly to stop the inevitable downpour of tears set to follow at the realization that someone had the exact same experience at that scene where Bob and Charlotte part which I had felt previously was only privy to me.

That’s what made Ebert a band apart. I have come to read multitudinous pieces of film criticisms in my life, with quite a few of them possessing apodictic prosaic beauty. Yet all of them seem to be centered on what is ‘right’ and what it is ‘wrong’ in a movie. Now as important that may be to some, in the bigger picture, I cannot think of something of lesser significance for what is ‘right’ for me may very well be ‘wrong’ for you. It isn’t what the movie is that forms its appeal, but rather what it invokes and no one knew that better than Ebert. Every review of his was like a portal of the sorts found in Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich (a movie he so dearly adored) for it lead us straight into his mind, engulfing us in every minute emotion which flooded into his brain while watching the movie.

There was a beautiful sentence with great truth to it that I came across and has stayed with me every since in Micheal Cunningham’s The Hours which said ‘One always has a better book in one’s mind than one can manage to get onto paper’. And when I ponder on that, I wonder what would have that piece Roger wrote for Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (in his Great Movies collection) sounded like in his mind ? Whenever I read it, and I do that quite often, it means something different for me every time, yet every time it always means something to me. It is as if he poured his whole heart in it with a child’s breathless disregard of the consequences.

It so often happens that the greatest events and thoughts are comprehended last, the generations which are their contemporaries do not experience such events – they live past them. It is in this respect that Ebert becomes truly epoch making in the literary circle, for in most cases genius turns out to be incommunicable and reluctant, blowing cold on the passerby. Yet, with Ebert, even the very naive was aware of his unparalleled mastery of his craft and lapped it up wholeheartedly.

Film criticism from the heart is like the Penrose stairs. We seem to be eternally damned with the failure to express what we truly feel at the end of a great movie, so we are clueless on where to start or end, ending up rummaging around our ideas, as if separate paragraphs can shed light on each other and form a comprehensive whole. Roger Ebert, an indisputable giant of American letters, came as close as one possibly could to describing the indescribable.

Great artists incite an interest towards appreciating their body of art, while the greatest incite an interest in mastering it. I know of no other who has inspired such a legion to love movies and write about them than Ebert. He was and is and will be, for me and countless others, the greatest of them all and the only rating I can possibly give Life Itself if two thumbs up. The tragedy is that the thumbs are mine, and not Siskel and Ebert’s. The reassurance comes from the fact that all those who love movies do consider it a tragedy.

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Punyalan Private Limited Review

 I don’t film messages. I let the post office take care of those – Bernardo Bertolucci 

One of the many legit complaints I receive about this little blog of mine is my nonchalant attitude towards contributing in it. One of the major reasons for this (except my ever prevalent writer’s block of course) is that I can only write about a movie once , and most of the movies which hit the theaters are the same movie being made and remade again and again with a different cast and settings to mask this fact up. Punyalan Private Limited is another addition to this array of films, an exercise in borderline mediocrity which crusades as the public opinion to redeem itself. Unfortunately, it takes only the opening five minutes to see through the act.

When Punyalan Agarbattis hit the theaters four years ago, my admiration for it was, and still is apodictic. It wasn’t a movie trying to be anything except than the tale it was telling, and in doing so, spoke for everyone who was watching it. On the other hand, this sequel is like a puppy wanting to be petted by everyone. Movies, just like people, end up being only what they truly are at the end, and what Punyalan Private Limited is at the end of the day is just a vehicle scampering on the last residues of glory its predecessor amassed and its viewer’s miserable existence.

And that last part is my major issue with this movie. Every scene feels tailor made to make space for a mass dialogue which feeds right into the hate accumulated in the viewer’s heart towards the system. It’s not just the exploitation of the viewer’s insecurities that bothers me, it is of the character’s as well. If characters are mere caricatures to get a point across, how could one possibly relate with them ? Jayasurya is fabulous in his role, yet do we know anything more about his character when this movie ends than we knew from before it began ? For all you know, I could have played the rest of the characters in this movie and it still wouldn’t make a difference. And I happen to be a terrible actor.

Whatever it sets out to do, it crashes egregiously at. Yet, there is an underlying sense of irony that the movie which sets out to proclaim everything wrong with the system ends up being everything that is wrong with the medium which it has chosen to explore. This brand of cinema is not entertainment, it is spoon-feeding, giving the audiences what they want, when they want it and dumbing their taste to utter mediocrity. Punyalan Private Limited says all that the common man of India (me included) would like to say about the fallacies of the system. But think about it, isn’t paying to hear what we say to ourselves everyday a really stupid deal ?

RATING :- 4 / 10

 

 

Wake In Fright Review

Wake In Fright is a hell of a movie, and I mean that literally and figuratively. It has often been wrongly described as the inability of a man to escape the clutches of a town which seem to tighten on him every passing day. Like every great work of art, it is about something deeper than it cares to admit and at its crux, Wake In Fright is rather about the inability of a man to convince himself why he needs to escape. Free food, free beer, free housing, free sex and a great time with mates while doing absolutely no work. Now what could possibly be wrong with that ? Bundanyabba does seem to be a paradise on Earth. Yet show it to a 10 year old kid and even he would fish out the moral murkiness the happenings of the movie are surrounded with.

Is it the town that is insane for housing tenants who seem to have been raised in zoos, educated only to the base instincts ? Or is it John Grant who is insane for yearning to be a part of this savagery forsaking all sensibility ? Or is it we that are insane for having made moral order synonymous with the mundane, raising brows and coughing disapproving sighs when everyone happens to be just having a good time ? If it is the answers to these questions you are looking for while watching Wake In Fright, I believe you will be terribly disappointed. Like all great horror movies, it tries to evoke rather than supply.

The premise is stark plain and quaint. John Grant, a laid back schoolteacher  in an outback town in Australia travels to Bundanyabba by train during vacations. He plans to stay there for the night and set out in the morning to the airport to board a flight to Sydney to meet his girlfriend. Yet, trouble ensues in gambling as it always does, leaving John stranded penniless in Bundanyabba, a town where waiting for a bus would be inscrutably bound with thoughts of whether it has a darned bus line or not. The problem with most movies is that the premise seems to gradually develop into the plot, yet in the case of Wake In Fright, saying that the movie is just about these above lines would be like looking at a brick in the Great Wall Of China and saying that’s all there is to it.

Most films, even great ones, evaporate like mist once you’ve returned to the real world; they leave memories behind, but their reality fades fairly quickly. The terrifying part of Wake In Fright is that once it ends, it seems the reality of the movie has transcended into that of the world and it is this macabre that the viewer seems to be walking into. We realize that John Grant was just a vessel and it had been us, the viewers, that where his mind and soul all through.

Another stratagem of looking at Wake In Fright is through the prism of Jungian transcendence. John becomes conscious of the shadow and his anima through the course of the movie. The denouement hints at a possibility of self-realization as well, a sense of heightened understanding of how all of our days and ways are a fragile structure perched uneasily atop the hungry jaws of nature that will thoughtlessly devour us. How life is a spread of limitless ennui, interrupted briefly by insanity. Yet, no hints are given on whether John becomes conscious of his archetypal spirit. Is it to catechize whether the ordeals sustained and sacrifices made for enlightenment are worth the price of one’s soul ?  We don’t know. Kotcheff doesn’t say.

Michael Haneke while talking about his Funny Games once said ‘Anyone who leaves the cinema doesn’t need the film, and anybody who stays does’. If the very same can be said about Wake In Fright, I am darn sure no walkouts will ensue when it plays. We do need this movie, and to be frank, we need it very badly. And considering how it has emerged from all ruination and shambles to its past glory, I guess it needs us too.

THANKS FOR READING. IF YOU HAVE LIKED/HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS / HAVE ANY  DOUBTS, PLEASE SHARE. I WILL RESPOND TO IT AS SOON AS I CAN. AND PLEASE SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE. YOU CAN FOLLOW ME ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE TOO https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011549616628YOU CAN ALSO E-MAIL ME ON castlebang786@gmail.com OR favebook2011@rediffmail.com

Photo Rights : Google Images, Wikipedia

Copyright : All written content on this site, unless otherwise noted, has been created by the website owner. As such, the content is the property of the website owner. This content is protected by Indian and international copyright laws. If you wish to reproduce, re-post, or display any of our content on your own site please only do so if you also provide a link back to the source page on this website and properly attribute authorship. Our preference is that you seek our permission before doing so. If you see anything on this website that has not been properly attributed to its originator please contact me. In response, I will attempt to correct the attribution of the offending material or remove and/or replace it. All material on this website is posted in accordance with the limitations set forward by the Information Technology Act, 2000. If a documented copyright owner so requests, their material will be removed from published display, although the author reserves the right to provide linkage to that material or to a source for that material. As a website devoted to discussing and reviewing movies and television I will at times, for illustrative purposes, present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always be specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available  for purposes such as criticism, comment, and research. The website owner believes that this constitutes a “fair use” of any such copyrighted material because the articles published on this website are distributed for entertainment purposes

Blade Runner 2049 Review

With a movie so much about memories at hand, I would deem it the most inappropriate to not let you, dear reader, to not partake in one of mine while we are talking about it. While I was six of age, I was standing in a line to get my book checked by my English teacher. In front of me was a girl, and by God, she was the most beautiful thing I had laid eyes on till then. Quite unacquainted in these quandaries (as I should have been at six, and unfortunately, as I still am), I took the approach which had been tried and tested and had the indelible approval of Bollywood on it – I dropped my books. And guess what ? Cliches exist for a reason. She did bend down and help me pick up those worthless books ! I thanked her and smiled, and the motion was duly reciprocated. I introduced myself and so did she, and that was all that took for me to fall in love with her. And then ? Nothing. I never could muster the courage nor an approach to use it for, and as it always does, life happened. A decade later, she has shifted to far away, has a boyfriend and as far as I know, is quite happy with him, and I, well, I am talking movies to y’all. Over the years, I have revisited this above memory now and then, or to put it more correctly, this memory has revisited me now and then. For all the disappointment it holds, I still treasure it for the singular perfection is seemed to hold and the promise of much more. But more than that, it is that feeling of it which transcends words, so rare as if in the likeness of one of those misty halos that sometimes are made visible by spectral illumination of moonshine. This memory is what K (Ryan Gosling) would have died for, for in all its messiness, it is still as profound as the sound of bells in a Christian county. All that pain is all there is to be human.

With a pace reminiscent of a river eroding a rock, 2049 is beauty in the midst of all imperfections. It is a hybrid of science fiction, film noir, detective thriller, bounty hunter, western and a love story, that is to say it hasn’t strayed a bit from its origins. I could never write a proper review for the predecessor, instead resorting to hide my inadequacy in a mishmash study of its groundbreaking world with that of Cuaron’s Children of Men. So it comes off as no surprise that I can’t write a proper one for the sequel as well, yet for wholly different reasons. In the original Blade Runner, it was the imperfections that drew me in. I have rarely revisited it for its heartbreaking climax or for the ambiguity on whether Deckard is a replicant or not. No, more often than not, I find myself switching off my sound system when I watch Blade Runner and just let that eclectic visual style wash over me.

The towering skyscrapers of  2049 strain upward, gasping for air through the polluted skies. Sinister alleys and dark, cavelike crannies conceal unspeakable crimes against humanity. Nature has gone berserk, deluging the teeming city with an almost constant downpour. Smoke, steam and fog add to the fumigated congestion. It is a city of dreadful night, punctuated by neon signs in day-glo colors, cheap Orientalized billboards and a profusion of advertising come-ons with hunks of long-discarded machinery littering the landscape. The music by Zimmer provides no relief from the oppressive gloom, throbbing with eerie sounds, echoes, pounding pistons and the noises of flying vehicles shuttling through the poisonous atmosphere. Yet, through the eyes of the great Roger Deakins, the settings can be sinister and terrifying, or strikingly beautiful like an enchanted landscape depending upon the character focused on.

Denis Villeneuve, who has ascended to the ranks of Hollywood elite in a sparse amount of years, has incited criticisms for a number of reasons but character development has never been one of them. The love story, unlike its predecessor, stays with you, deeply involving us in the struggle of these lovers to feel love. When the Deckard angle enters, it does not feel like a forced attempt to cash in on the nostalgia of the original but rather to relieve it, and even better, comprehend it a bit more.

But the question here, and I am sure you are rather impatient about it by now, is whether it is as good as the original or not ? Objectively, no. Subjectively, yes. And this is because ignoring all the faults I singled out, which are too technical and boring to jot down here, I find a reflection of me in these characters longing to love yet finding no one to. I am not too sure to advertise my opinion since it is too fickle, but it is what it is and that is all I can manage to get onto a paper as well. Well, I guess I am only human.

But regardless of whether my judgement is a fallacy or not, go to the biggest screen you can find and experience 2049. Whether you like to admit it or not, the return of the world of Philip Dick to the screen is not just another movie, it is a cinematic event. So recline in your seat, forgetting the overblown air conditioning, that annoying couple getting to second base behind and the ever meddling Censor Board. Recline a bit more and let the lights, the sound and the emotions wash over you, and find yourself in the midst of the city choking on its own technology.

Personally speaking, as I always am, 2049 is everything I have wanted science fiction to be :- universal in its scope and personal in appeal.

THANKS FOR READING. IF YOU HAVE LIKED/HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS / HAVE ANY  DOUBTS, PLEASE SHARE. I WILL RESPOND TO IT AS SOON AS I CAN. AND PLEASE SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE. YOU CAN FOLLOW ME ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE TOO https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011549616628YOU CAN ALSO E-MAIL ME ON castlebang786@gmail.com OR favebook2011@rediffmail.com

Photo Rights : Google Images, Wikipedia

Copyright : All written content on this site, unless otherwise noted, has been created by the website owner. As such, the content is the property of the website owner. This content is protected by Indian and international copyright laws. If you wish to reproduce, re-post, or display any of our content on your own site please only do so if you also provide a link back to the source page on this website and properly attribute authorship. Our preference is that you seek our permission before doing so. If you see anything on this website that has not been properly attributed to its originator please contact me. In response, I will attempt to correct the attribution of the offending material or remove and/or replace it. All material on this website is posted in accordance with the limitations set forward by the Information Technology Act, 2000. If a documented copyright owner so requests, their material will be removed from published display, although the author reserves the right to provide linkage to that material or to a source for that material. As a website devoted to discussing and reviewing movies and television I will at times, for illustrative purposes, present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always be specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available  for purposes such as criticism, comment, and research. The website owner believes that this constitutes a “fair use” of any such copyrighted material because the articles published on this website are distributed for entertainment purposes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magnolia Review

I am sure that all those who write about movies have an inherent hesitancy about writing about their absolute favorites as I am sure that ten dimes make a dollar. It emanates from an n number of factors, ranging from the fear of not doing justice to their love for that work of art to not being able to delve into the technicalities while keeping emotions at bay. But most importantly, it is that dread of giving away too much of yourself to the reader, for in the imperfections of one’s favorite songs or movies or books lies the hard-hitting truth to the base of one’s own existence. It is this very trepidation that has delayed this post long overdue as well, but I realize I cannot go through a single more day without my conscience haunting me for not talking about Magnolia. My movie.

Clocking in at 188 minutes, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, like all great movies seems too short. It is a mosaic of a plethora of characters suffering from Capgras delusions with their own identities, with emotions building up in a whirlwind to a point where they all seem like a full cup that the least motion might overbrim.

A more conventional director might have assigned these endlessly fascinating characters at his disposal with a hard-lined plot, confining them to a cumbersome narrative with all their motives laid out and their behavior explained. Paul Thomas Anderson, who is one of the greatest directors to have ever lived, is a breath of fresh air. He knows how fast audience thinks and how emotions contain their own explanations. Here Anderson appears almost naked before his audience, a man unable to conceal the depth of his own vision.

The structure furthermore contributes to our lack of satisfaction in whatever answers we think we encounter. But the hint at a snap solution is too broad and juxtaposition too obvious. We instantaneously reject any easy putting together of two and two and suspect a five. But time and time, Magnolia makes a gesture to itself as a source of discovery and meaning. The response of the audience is a suspicion of an invitation to start figuring out and putting together the enigma with the camera’s collaboration. Yet can one possibly attribute a final meaning to it, or is the very absurdity of a rain of frogs a shout-out to the human mystery that can never be solved ?

The world of Magnolia and the characters which firmly inhabit it are an illusion of their own. Most would find it hard to appreciate it in their first viewing, being misled from the crux of it by the facade of coincidences and chance and rain of frogs and what not. Dissatisfied by a movie that would rather evoke than supply. But what Anderson does here, and does only to the knowledge of those who see through the act he is putting up and destroying simultaneously, is an attempt to reach more deeply than that: to reach beneath the surface, and find the soul in need. I have always understood the elusiveness, and over the years even come to respect it as well, for there is an evident semi-autobiographical vein here. It is no secret that the frames belong to the storyteller and one would only want the most understanding to be held worthy of having a pert of oneself. When it draws towards commencement, Anderson’s world seems complete, and all the viewer can bring to it is his admiration.

At the end of the day, it is a movie about pain. About a bunch of souls trying to convince themselves over and over about the identities the world has imposed on them, yet breaking away from it as they do so and being understandably, petrified of the thought of finding themselves. It is about parents for whom the children are the abusers and they, the victims and about children who know better. It is about those who live without love and how it devastates them. It is thankfully also about a few who thank God for their good lives and forgiveness if they ever happen to not love it enough. It is about the entirety of ‘life’ and all that the word encompasses.

Love stories are about those who find love in happy times. Tragedies are about those who find love in unhappy times. Magnolia belongs to the latter, yet when it ends, it leaves me exhilarated about my existence, greedy for living it for it so bluntly reinforces the truth that we try to evade – that all that we take with us when we die is the regret for all that we could have done when we were alive.

There are very few times when the vision of a director works on the same wavelength as yours, striking a chord which leaves you with an out-of-body experience at the theater. When Magnolia came to its denouement, it was the closest I had ever been to knowing what a complete stranger truly feels, as if Paul Thomas Anderson was an individual I had once acquainted and then long forgotten. I believe it is primarily why it is my favorite movie of all time, and will continue to be in the future as well. The moment it ended, with that heartbreaking smile of Claudia’s, was the closest I had ever come to a communion with God. I was aware of his existence then, of his presence in every human being, and such a moment has evaded me long since then. I look for it every time I watch a movie, finding traces of it in some, yet the entirety of that experience still remains alien to me. If I was ever given the choice of carrying a moment of my life to the grave, I would most probably choose the very one which has found its way in the above lines.

It is the general belief, and a correct one too, that writing works which end with a quote work better. Whatever you have to say in closure, almost all the times someone else has said it better. Here, I quote Francois Truffaut, who while talking about Jules & Jim said all that I think Paul Thomas Anderson could have about Magnolia – “I begin a film believing it will be amusing — and along the way I notice that only sadness can save it.”

RATING :- 10 / 10

THANKS FOR READING. IF YOU HAVE LIKED/HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS / HAVE ANY  DOUBTS, PLEASE SHARE. I WILL RESPOND TO IT AS SOON AS I CAN. AND PLEASE SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE. YOU CAN FOLLOW ME ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE TOO https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011549616628YOU CAN ALSO E-MAIL ME ON castlebang786@gmail.com OR favebook2011@rediffmail.com

Photo Rights : Google Images, Wikipedia

Copyright : All written content on this site, unless otherwise noted, has been created by the website owner. As such, the content is the property of the website owner. This content is protected by Indian and international copyright laws. If you wish to reproduce, re-post, or display any of our content on your own site please only do so if you also provide a link back to the source page on this website and properly attribute authorship. Our preference is that you seek our permission before doing so. If you see anything on this website that has not been properly attributed to its originator please contact me. In response, I will attempt to correct the attribution of the offending material or remove and/or replace it. All material on this website is posted in accordance with the limitations set forward by the Information Technology Act, 2000. If a documented copyright owner so requests, their material will be removed from published display, although the author reserves the right to provide linkage to that material or to a source for that material. As a website devoted to discussing and reviewing movies and television I will at times, for illustrative purposes, present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always be specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available  for purposes such as criticism, comment, and research. The website owner believes that this constitutes a “fair use” of any such copyrighted material because the articles published on this website are distributed for entertainment purposes

 

 

 

I Lost It At The Movies

How can I fall in love with movies?’

I think you will find it a bit hard to believe, but more often than not, this is one of those persistent questions which I am plagued with in almost all the comment sections of every cine-related article I have ever written on the internet. And even after taking into account the bountiful trouble the process of answering such quaint questions are inscrutably bound with, I have ascertained this aforementioned query to be my favourite question ever, period.

Why? For a cinephile to understand, all he has to do is look at his sprawling commentatories on cinema and think to oneself ‘Why take all this trouble? Who cares?’ and if his love for his cinema is true, I believe the heart echoes ‘You do stupid.’ Isn’t everything we do a way to be loved a bit more? In that way, every film passionate (I abhor the term critic) writes because he loves cinema and wishes others start to as well. Cinema is introspective, yet all the written word about it is didactic, serving at its crux only one true purpose – to make people fall in love with movies.

So when one asks, straight-forward, how he/she can fall in love with movies, I believe it makes my job a hell lot easier than hoping them to anatomize my written word so as to find the underlying purpose behind it all. For one to love cinema, or for that matter anything, one has to content himself with the realization that nothing in this world can ever be perfect and cinema is no exception to this. But believe me, imperfections, however glaring, become endearing quirks once you have tumbled on the heartstrings.

For a better comprehension of cinema as an artistic medium than sheer entertainment, I have to get into some nitty-gritty of film theory which might seem taxing and boring on the surface, but believe me; I won’t wade in these waters so long that God forbade we come across stuff like mise en scene (and by the way, French isn’t a language you shouldn’t mind getting the gist of if you want to explore the expansiveness of film studies) and all. Just a few basics, which will make you understand why cinema has shaped out to be like you see on the silver screen.

Cinema is divided into three branches: – realism, which was the first to come into inception, swiftly followed by formalism, which eventually merged to form classicism. Realism’s illusion is an objective mirror of the actual world. For eg. Take movies like Ship of Theseus or Pather Panchali, where it becomes hard to ascertain whether what you are seeing on the screen is a fragment of someone’s imagination or a documentary.

Formalism on the other hand is expressionistic in nature, where visual presentation is heavily stylized. Take works like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which is about a man who realizes his ex-girlfriend has erased him from her memories) or Inception (about a gang of dream-stealers who specialize in obtaining information for clients by entering the subconscious of other individuals), where only the very naïve would assume the affairs of the movie for the real thing.

The third style of cinema is where majority of the works you see in the theatres fall into – classicism. Classicism is a mishmash of realism and formalism, where there is a plot which has at least a surface plausibility and a style which rarely calls attention to itself. Take even the recently released Bareilly Ki Barfi or Shubh Mangal Saavdhan for example. The affairs both of them concern themselves with are a slice of real life, yet you know that what you are watching is a movie, or more implicitly, you are made aware of it, by say routine dance numbers which are precisely choreographed. It is also one of the reasons why you only see those who ooze of sex appeal even at their most distressed in leading roles. Most of the times these stunning beauties like Rita Hayworth or Patrick Swayze (or more closer to home, Katrina Kaif or Siddharth Malhotra) are never much of actors or actresses, yet their beauty provides a gradually imposed realization that what are you watching is a work a fiction, and on a more obvious note, keeps the ticket counters ringing, for the allure of the carnal and the aesthetic has always been and will be a compelling aphrodisiac to any art. As Kenneth Clark rightly points out, even in painting and sculpture, eroticism is fundamental to an appreciation of the nude.

Bringing these concepts back to the point, the reason why most of us cannot love cinema is because all we are exposed to are the cheapest form of classicism. Just take a look at the recent money-minters like Badrinath Ki Dulhania or Jab Harry Met Sejal. In the true cinematic sense, they belong to a niche of their own, called the personality star genre. What is it? These are the movies which are tailored for popular stars to highlight those qualities that made them the stars in the first place. These traits are recycled and repacked to basically give the public what it wants, always following the same generic pattern. Such movies kill creativity; for they put the director and writer (the actual visionaries) in the backseat and let the actors drive the project.

So, the first step in loving cinema is to evade these works. Instead, delve into director-centric movies. For the initial viewer, I would suggest the works of masters such as Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas), Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List), Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), Christopher Nolan (The Prestige), Paul Thomas Anderson (Punch Drunk Love), Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men) and Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity). These directors have one leg in the formalistic world and another in the expressionist world. What results is the perfect blend of both, appealing to the mind as well as the heart. They are masters of the moving camera, with spontaneous eruptions which destabilize the visual materials, infusing the action with a surge of energy, almost a kinetic high. Among these, Scorsese and Tarantino have often been attacked for the coarse nature of their movies, yet what these critics fail to understand is that a sanitized version would be a form of aesthetic dishonesty, totally at odds with their subject matter’s nasty edge of realism.

Once neck-deep in the beauty of classicism, wade the waters of formalism and realism. Andrei Tarkovsky (Stalker) and David Lynch (Mulholland Drive) are the masters of the former, while Satyajit Ray (The Music Room) and Michael Haneke (Amour) are the masters of the latter. But at the end of the day, what bugs most of the viewers of pure cinema is I suppose the pace of such works. What one has to realize is the intention behind it. The works of these masters are on surface about a certain theme, yet once you look beyond them, their style deals with ideas – political, social, religious, philosophical – beyond the façade of the plot they put up, as if these themes remain privy to only those who truly seek it. What one can do in those moments which appear plodding is to introspect on what has transpired before. Film, at its purest, isn’t just entertainment. It is an experience, and for the time the projector and the screen establish a relationship, the objective is to drown out the viewer from the squabbles of his life and warp him or her in the world of the movie which is set into motion before him. The pace is slowed deliberately, for plodding is the very nature of our own existence, so as to synchronize the world of the movie with that of the viewer’s, than run parallel to it. In an abstract work, I would suggest not to attribute a final meaning to what you see, but rather try energetically to figure out what the director is asking you to experience than understand.

Loving movies, dear reader, is a glorious experience, for the love seems to be truly one’s personal discovery, never before apprehended in quite this way. What one has to keep in mind is that the medium of motion-picture has an extraordinary range of expression. It has in common with the plastic arts the fact that it is a visual composition projected on a two-dimensional surface; with dance, that it can deal in the arrangement of movement; with theatre, that it can create a dramatic intensity of events; with music, that it can compose in the rhythms and phrases of time and can be attended by song and instrument; with poetry, that it can juxtapose images; with literature generally, that it can encompass in its soundtrack the abstractions available only to language. To summarise it, what I mean to say is that cinema is the culmination of all of art, and to love cinema, is to love art in its entirety and as you know, Earth without art is just Eh. I hope you have a glorious time with movies, knowing and loving yourself more and more with every passing movie you see. I guess I will see you at the movies.

P.S. How will you know that you have fallen in love with movies? Just remember, people who like movies have a favourite. People who love them couldn’t possibly choose. When you are that stage, you will be sure.

Farewell To The Ordinary

[So dear reader, this is a not-so-short short story I wrote which ain’t cine related. But, if you would give it a read, it would be a great honor of mine]

For all the experience I have amounted to by travelling in the Mumbai local trains for a not-so-enviable period of one and a half months, there is only statement I feel I can make which comes close to veracity and which I feel will be met with uncontested opinions and sullen nods from even those who have had only the slightest brush on travelling on the aforementioned mode of commute – that there isn’t a single day on these trains which seem devoid of the hustle and bustle which one so naturally associates with them.

I am one of those rare quaint ones who looks forward to travelling on this mode of transport which my other fellow commuters abhor (and with good reasons). One might say it is because I get to reach my destination without any hassle all the others have to endure, since I board from the starting station and wherefore, get a seat every day. Now this reasoning may be true and I haven’t bothered to go to any lengths to prove the contrary by offering my seat to someone and standing till Sandhurst Road (i get off at C.S.M.T., but the train gets almost empty by Sandhurst Road). But, I believe this enjoyment is beyond the mere convenience I partake in everyday. For me, the reasons which seem to have brought about this fascination of travelling in overcrowded bogeys with other’s butts in front of your face for the entire duration of it is very reminiscent of falling in love, for once someone tumbles on your heartstrings, his or her imperfections, however glaring, become endearing quirks. I am fascinated by the nonchalance with which the experts who board running trains look upon the swiftness of their glide, as if it was the most ordinary of things. I am fascinated that every damn bogey has an individual who no one remembers to have ever got a seat, who always ends up standing near the window and arranging the bags of the fellow passengers with such an unparalleled display of organizational prowess, that if one fine day some dexterous mathematician actually considered the numbers of bags accommodated and the area demarcated, I am pretty sure various mathematical concepts wouldn’t seem to hold quite right. I am more than all fascinated by the profanities folks hurl at each other when one of those timely fights breaks out in the compartment, for in some of them, I see glimpses of literary genius in them (i have once heard a comeback which involved almost all the blood relations of the person at the receiving end along with cannabis, cows and the latest Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie in the same sentence, with all the elements in perfect harmony with each other), and also because at the end of the day, there seems to be nothing bad about these bad words. They just seem to be words folks use and most of the times, they don’t mean nothing by it.

Another fascination is the seeming broadcast of a daily commuter on a wavelength that only the other daily commuters can pick up, a kind of a pirate radio station of the heart. So, being one of those privileged but not exquisite (considering that almost 90 lakh people travel on Mumbai trains on a per day basis) club, the wavelength at play today seems to be of unco turbulence. Neither is Sahil sitting on the steel benches near the Handicapped bogey sound indicator, watching Narcos (no, wait a second. he finished Narcos two days ago. it is the Leftovers now). And neither is Manish, untying and tying his laces, to make sure they do not pose a quandary to his getting his beloved window seat (and this routine is working quite well too it seems since i haven’t seen anyone warm their behinds on that except him). Today, everyone is standing together, with neither headphones shoved in their ears, and not with papers held in their armpits. And suddenly it strikes me. Today is the 8th of September. Today is the day

A peremptory silence meanders when everyone boards the train, a striking contrast to any other day, and it shrouds the bogey even after two stations passed. Nobody can think of anything to break the ice today, for this is the day when Kaka will be travelling with us for the last time.

Kaka, as he is fondly called, means ‘uncle’ in Marathi. Kaka works in the Railways, and has for forty long years, and is considered unanimously as the founding member of our train group. Today, the September of 8th, is the last day of his service, i.e. in other words, the last time he has to go through the ordeal of boarding the first class compartment of the 7 :45 Dombivli – C.S.M.T. train.

Finally finding this silence, which had brooded over as though the tearing pace of the launched Earth had suddenly become audible, unbearable, it is Uncle (the second oldest in the group after Kaka, and whose fond designation if compared with that of Kaka’s, i believe provides an insight into changing times) who decides to speak up, a notion all of us were as sure of him making as we were that ten dimes make a dollar. The conversation topic is the venue for the farewell party for Kaka on Sunday. Nandi Palace is the venue decided after much deliberation, yet this denouement is overthrown the moment Rajesh points out is situated on the highway (and the new law prohibits you to crack open a cold one with the boys there) and the new and seemingly concrete conclusion to this discussion seems to be Regency Hotel. The questions about Kaka have now begun to arise like thirsty men drink, ranging from till when does his first class past last (ninth of october), what will he do in his free time (rotaract club and yoga classes), and whether they have found someone already to take up his position (a fumbling intern). Stations pass and one-by-one, the members of our group have to get off, with their destinations as inscrutably bound to them as destiny. They all stand by the windows and talk to Kaka as long as the motorman gives his brief approval, and the train keeps moving on till I and Kaka are the only ones of our train group left in the compartment. I am sitting next to him, with him brooding over the WhatsApp messages his near and dear ones have sent him congratulating him on this milestone of his and deleting them after a read or two. One of the traits you seemingly acquire if you travel in trains long enough is that you realize when the eyes of the person sitting next to you are on you and for one who has traveled in them for forty long years, it isn’t much time before Kaka’s eyes rest on mine and just like the sudden whim of a sick man for food or drink once tastes and long since forgotten, I find myself blurting out those very questions which had been burning up inside me from the moment today’s date had struck me :-

Me :- Won’t it feel weird from tomorrow ? Not following the same routine ?

Him :- I don’t think so. I will be busy 

Me :- Has anything changed all these years ? 

Him :- I don’t think so. The trains ran then and they do so today.

And he rose up. Bewildered by this motion of his, I look outside and see the reason behind it. We had already reached C.S.M.T.

We say our due farewells to each other and walk in our separate directions, yet my eyes meander on him. A man, no taller than I was, with a worn out Jensport bag, grayed out hair and yet at this moment, larger than life. And in a motion which came about as quietly and swiftly as near insanity comes to men, he looked back at me, smiled and went on. My emotions, which were at this point like a full cup that the least motion might over brim, come pouring out and I realize I will miss him. 

Yet this realization ushers in all kinds of doubts about why I would do so, for I had always felt we miss only those who we envy. I miss Bhagat Singh, for I can never be as brave as he was. I miss Roger Ebert, for I can never talk about movies as he was. I miss Virginia Woolf for I can never have a prosaic style as enchanting as that of her. So, why would I miss Kaka ?

Maybe it was because I would never have that reality he was inhibiting in. I am pretty sure I will never be confined by the shackles of a desk job, having looked down upon those who content themselves with one as far as I can remember, yet here was a man who had spent forty years of life on a ticket counter and yet was contented with it. Or maybe it was knowing that I could never feel what it would be to be retired. One of my biggest fears is that what I am feeling right now or will in the future, will be lesser version of what I have already felt. It is the reason fellas that you remember your first love, for when it had transpired, love and ideas seem to be truly one’s personal discoveries, never before apprehended in quite this way of yours, with the beloved in question happening to you all over again every time you meet.

Maybe it was all this and maybe it was none of it, yet what I felt was as profound as anything can be. One might ask (and to good reasoning) what this tale amounts to. Well, I don’t like the fact that, nowadays, it feels like it’s not permissible to leave something unresolved. I mean, what is closure? Some people never get that. Why can’t there be a tale of the triumphs of the ordinary ? Why aren’t their victories as important as others ?

I might also say something to on the lines that ‘if there is no final meaning, my work may be itself about that impossibility’. But to be honest, I don’t know myself. I believe a writer writes because he has doubts and hopes that at the end of the day, the answers to them translates on the page. Yet most of the times, just like in this very piece you are reading, they don’t and to good measure, for one always has a better tale in one’s mind than one can manage to get onto paper.