Sunday, November 30, 2008

enough is enough

after having spent 3 full days feeling totally impotent, numbed by "breaking news" tv...a few friends n family decided to go to a candle-lit march at marine drive tonight...
but before that, m and s n i went from the taj, to leo's, to nariman house n finally to oberoi's...placing flowers n lighting candles. walking down colaba causeway, it felt like the city had been taken over once again by its citizens...out in huge numbers, curious, shocked, enraged n anguished...i overhear a father firmly telling a journo that he was here with his 6yr old daughter to demonstrate that she should not be scared n that "they" should know that we will not allow them to cow us down. later, at marine drive opp the oberoi, a class 12 boy engages me with the most astute observations he'd arrived at...he angrily denounced the politicians who've "been selling us" n wondered if a year of military rule would help fix things.
as we walk down towards churchgate, a sea of candles greet us...helplessness gives way to empowerment...strength in numbers, belief in self...the posters, banners, slogans all expressing the deep-felt anger towards the politicians.
my mind races do we sustain this energy? it has happened before and it will happen again...alain resnais implored us back in 1959 not to forget...but we are human n we forget easily...what can we do to remember?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

do we have to...?

do we absolutely have to know everything NOW? whatever unintelligible incoherent idiotic way it is being presented. do we have to thrust cameras n microphones into bleeding faces or tired exhausted souls? can't we stand back for just one time and acknowledge just once that the other is human with feelings and has a right to privacy? what is it about having a camera, being "press" that gives me the supercilious belief that i can commit this violation for the greater common good? and do we have to scream...and scream louder than the others like in a fish market auction...look i've got a better bigger catch...exclusive!

is this what we are to leave as textbooks for the next generation? to excel burkha dutt's faux pas'? as someone who's been teaching wannabe mediapersons, i share the blame...and take it as a new challenge...there's so many lessons to be learnt from the last 3days in bombay...can i be part of the healing? and how?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

do you believe in india?

do you believe in the idea of india? of the unity in diversity, of religious tolerance, of freedom, democracy, plurality, of whatever else it is that you hold dear about india...stand up n be counted...enough is enough! such a complete failure by the state to protect it's people...utter disarray n chaos i have never seen. the guardians should be hanging their heads in, not the nsg, armed forces, etc but our super-pampered thick skinned shameless politicians. off with that wimp home minister, off with the cm... if there has been an intelligence failure, it is only because we've alienated the community so much that we've killed the very sources who'd tip us off otherwise...did we have to lose our 3 top guys in less than 30mins?

after spending most of last night trying to make sense of the unfolding mayhem n pacifying anxious relatives across the globe, the morning anger had seeped in...i felt so angry that it took them over 9hrs to send the nsg in n that too after day break and even as i write, almost 20hrs later they are no where near securing the 3 locations under attack.
i took the train down to vt this morning to donate blood at st george a desperate attempt to "do something positive". the trains were up n running...empty. the otherwise bustling churchgate station deserted...i walk gaping around the silence as if in some funk...reality hits home at the hospital gates. army, police, ambulance sirens, blackboard list of the dead, worried-sick relatives...more dead bodies being brought in...stoically i join the long line to donate...there must've been another 60 of us. dentistry students volunteering thru the pouch filled, i walk back down thru the hospital thru the ground floor open morgue...more cops, more tourists, more worried relatives...still more bodies coming in.

i step out into the glare n heat...into a city barren at noon. walk across to vt station...become one of the "terror tourists" - everyone pointing for the newly arrived, " there, see that bullet mark on the wall...and over there on the column, n there up shattering that glass, n there the broken indicator."...struggling hard to keep the numbing feeling growing...i began to speak to some railway protection force jawans...pathetic n heart-rending...this guy had lost 3 of his colleagues in last night's gun-shower. all he had was a fibreglass lathi. even if they carry a gun/rifle, he informs me, they are not allowed to carry ammo. if they do carry ammo, they are instructed - one bullet, one man dead wanted! better not to carry a gun, sir, he trails off...

i hurry out n hail a cab to the heart's been bleeding seeing those images of the top floor of the old taj burn. i mean, it's not about being the most expensive suites in the country, it's our heritage, history being burned. those suites played host to the biggest and the best...heads of state, jazz greats, hollywood stars, fashion czars, name em all. by the time i go there, most of the top floor was ash...smoke still billowing heart just crumbled. more anger...more desperation...did someone ask, what next - "secular terrorism"? am seriously considering it...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

clearing cobwebs

the cobwebs grew thick n fast over the last year...obscuring any trace of progress i had made on my dad's film. on sunday, while dusting some debris off my head (not my brain, pls note;) i realised that it was exactly a year ago i had begun writing a proposal for docedge. the coincidence was eerie but significant...significant enough to want to get back to it...i hadn't shot a frame nor written a single word...some said it would happen when it happens...whatever that means...but all i know it's back on my radar, a faint blip albeit...but hopefully the venus jupiter conjunction will ignite it back to life :)
working title: in the name of the father (o how original!). gtkd - getting to know dad (cuteseely yuckk!) so help me god

dostaana & dasvidanya - such extremes!

just had to watch these two films and am glad i did...dostaana was a friend's first film as production designer and dasvidanya another friend's first film...dostaana starts off with these languorous body-caressing shots of john abraham, usually reserved for the female of the species...down to his skimpiest lil undie pulled down...nervous giggles around the almost housefull sets the tone of what was to follow...what starts off as a comedy drags miserably in the second half...wafer thin script that goes nowhere. i slept off somewhere in the second half n was rudely awakened by the very loud "gay gay" song...i mean, trust kjo to push the envelope but hopefully he'll inspire more meaningful scripts where homosexuality is as natural n common place...o that priyanka is so hot ;)
dasvidanya was such a contrast! none of the kjo ott-ness, no media blitzkrieg, no big star line-up...just a hugely big heart. and vinay pathak!...carries the film single-handedly with such ease n do actors become producers? to showcase themselves? a simple enough script reminds one of the bucket list ...but not cancer for god's sake! i liked the slow deliberate-ness of the film...but save vinay's role the others were terrible caricatures - the deaf tv serial stuck mum, the fat slobbering over food boss. rajat as best friend seems wasted...but all-in-all a nice feel good film modestly told. Go watch!

time to pull out the telescope!

The two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, are set to unite and light up the November sky.
The two planets will continue to get closer and closer to each other the more the month of November goes on.
As the month goes on though, it is believed that they are only going to be around 2 degrees apart.
This means that they will be coming together to create quite a light show up in space.
Venus will be setting at anywhere from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. throughout November, while Jupiter will be setting around 10 p.m. at the start of the month, and end at around 9 p.m. by the month’s end.

wonder if they'll be close enough to fill the frame together...o what joy that would be!

Monday, November 17, 2008

mcrc lighting workshop

i couldn't believe my ears/eyes when some weeks back, i get this email from jamia mcrc asking me if i'd be free n willing to do a week-long lighting workshop...i mean, it was what, 15yrs since i graduated from there. never felt particularly good about the place, held some grudges...but was secretly thrilled that they wanted to do something like this. we never had anything like this when i was studying there. whatever we learnt n did was often despite the faculty there...but yes, the resources we had n the access to equipment was unrivalled....
i didn't take much time to think n almost immediately said yes. no shoots happening. i had done a lighting workshop at sristi earlier this year. ended up being most intense but very satisfying. but 50 students!!! daunting, to say the least...we were a mere 27 in comparasion. they'd fly me down, put me up in the guest house n even pay me...nice, i thought!
i had been there just once since passing out...but now, as i walked in, an overwhelming sense of decay greeted me...i dunno what it was at seemed stuck in time n we had moved on...gotten worse as we got better. it bothered me but only increased my resolve to enjoy myself n get the students to have a fun time learning. very dull they seemed blinkered by their tv news presenter aspirations. what could i do to change that, i pondered...
in these many years of teaching, i've often been asked, "so how's this batch?"...i never know what to say which would be a suitable response to some expectation...i'd like to think of each group of students quite like the other. soft moist clay on a potter's wheel...tho i never thought of myself as ajay kumbhar!...we just dived in together into the deep end, splashed around, swallowed some water occasionally but came out on top, mostly.
enjoyed it immensely...tho the numbers did make it exhausting this time. i tried my best to dissuade them from coming to class. all will be marked present, everything is optional...but nothing after day, session after session, they'd be there like good dry sponges...soaking it all in. even at 6am on a cold misty winter morning! to look at available light...and till 830 at night to watch the evening film.
i'd meet friends over dinner, classmates too who're teaching...and we'd crib endlessly about the abysmal quality of students these days...yes, we too were one n twenty once upon a time, but then, our seniors said the same disparaging things about us too, remember? it seems to be a universal the problem seems to lie with us, not them. the onus is on us. yes, they don't read the newspapers, nor watch movies, are lazy lumps of undeserving @#$&...we rant on...this is exactly what drives figure how to make a connection...figure what their pre-occupations are...
they spent an entire day realising the one situation they had scripted in order to evoke a particular "mood or feeling"...what a day it was!...i hardly spoke...they experimented, slogged, skipped lunch n by the evening shared their work nervously but excitedly like it was their first film! later they told me they'd never experienced anything like this here...i've been smiling very widely since ;)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

bombay to goa my first drive

six months ago i learned how to drive rather reluctantly...hated the idea of driving in bombay's manic traffic...but that drive to taleigaon on the bom-pune expressway changed all that. goa began to appear in the horizon of my fledgling car ambitions. sent my baby for a complete overhaul n had her ready just the day before we were to leave. meanwhile, i had already figured that a full tank of lpg n a full tank of petrol would take me over 750kms! goa was well within!
we - my sister mira n her friends in their car - set off early on 31st morning. we'd decided to do it nice n easy considering this was my first time. no way was i going to do it in one go. so we planned an overnight stop at tarkarli about 540km away!
i'd always dreamed of this - to be able to stop enroute n take in those gorgeous sights which one is unable to do while in a bus or train. my fiat sienna was as happy as me to be get out of the city, open up the throttle n zip down the straights at 110kmph! but it was those vedi vaakdi valuns that pounded the heart while mira grabbed the door handle firmly trying to calm her nerves.
such fun it was, tho not so much fun when one maniacal bus driver wanted to overtake a trailer down a hairpin bend as i was revving up-ghat. many gaalis later, we continued...phew! lunch at sangameshwar, powernap n off were went. now, tarkarli was futher than i had imagined...light was fading fast n i was growing increasinly uneasy. mercifully, the turn off to tarkarli came soon afterdark...those blinding headlights totally suck!
crawled into bed exhausted n woke up eaarly to this fab mtdc resort on the beach at, clean n desolate. such bliss!... walking down the beach, in the distance there seemed to be much excitement. the seagulls were going crazy, women n children were seen filling their plastic bags while the men hauled in a mountain of tarlas...i mean, two trucks weren't enough to take this mornings bounty away!
back on the road, we decided to ditch nh17 n go down the sagari mahamarg up to vengurla n then on to the mangeshi calgutkar mandir at assnora in north goa - amol's family ka presiding deity. so many lifetimes ago, the temple chief priest had a dream that the christians were going to be coming so take her inland to save her. that explained why calangute-kars came to assnora...
the short drive to verna was uneventful...but i felt weird to be driving in goa...complete disbelief! scramble to hire a kinetic, no manoj to call for a pick-up, no thumbing a felt rather nice, in fact ;)