Monday, May 24, 2010

Scattered Remains and The 'T'

I come from a very scattered space while writing this piece because the weekend was schizophrenic, kind of abstract. Whether on or offline, what resonates within is the din outside and finding peace of mind to give one thought enough space to understand itself before unfolding into meaningful result, is impossible.
And I think it is the chaos and noise hounding every head, which converts itself to product that at first gets marketed, then released and finally failed before everything comes to a standstill and everyone begins to discuss in whispered tones that our industry is in a mess and something must be done about it, ignoring the fact that there are already many more comets unleashed in the skies of blitz, fleshed and ready to be released to an audience who gives not a damn because at the end of the day it is too busy saving its own skin at wherever it is.
Deep pockets be damned here because in this cine world the rush of money is not for those who sit back and think, rationalize and prepare for a tomorrow, it is for the krieg that flashes its bright so blindingly strong that all who decide reel under the impact of a star who walks past them.

In Talegaon where I was this weekend, there was a wedding going on in vast open spaces where crackers were being burst echoing back at us from another end, and my stoned mate said, 'Isn't it lovely that there are crackers bursting everywhere?' We had to remind him that crackers were bursting at one place and the sound was echoing back to us from everywhere.
That is how pot induced our film industry is without a T of marijuana at its disposal.
Because a film like KiTes with a big T, forget the K, as the mystery of its sound bears no miracles anymore, was actually meant to make it for us to Hollywood because there was this Greek God Hrithik Roshan with toned flesh, who when set against the Mexican SUN, skin matched to TAN, could not be ignored by a world audience which is globally bereft of style, looks, talent and dance, sorry class?!!!
Then that part of the industry which believed that the miracle of the T would make us cross over, while nobody else gave it any credence, went berserk cursing social media and making mixed annoucements of conflicting results of the film having got the second highest openings ever, refusing to accept that the Indian stunt brewed in romantic whiff when churned to motion picture and edited apart for a white audience with the highest ever desi skin show, had recieved a dismal response and gone without a single blow of the spliff.

While the weekend was spent biting into scrumptous food bought from a wayside dhaba which was better than the best that Indian food restaurants can provide in the metropolis, the strain was about the plane crash in Mangalore and nobody dared go close to a TV set for the tweets on twitter rang with lament for the visuals being shown by a media which deserves no medals.
On my return I dared to put on the TV last night and was greeted by the familiar sound of a program I regularly watch on Ndtv 24/7 on Sunday evenings at 8.
Discussion and debate went on and on about whether young Indian politicians should stand for change and in the middle of it all was youthful MP Navin Jindal who kept justifying himself for wanting to take the voice of the Khaps who endorse honour killings of boys and girls who have the courage to fall in love and get married to each other despite belonging to the same village or cluster of villages in India, to the parliament.
An intelligent Kiran Bedi who could help with solutions was made to shut up again and again by an intoxicated Madhu Kishwar who thrives on Television debate because of her untiring skill to become the center of all middle paths when it comes to women's issues.
Madhu Kishwar is not just plain obnoxious or rude but drunk on some kind of power she weilds and every time I see her invited on Barkha Dutts of Sagarika Ghosh's shows, two women of India I admire a lot, I tend to doubt my opinion about them.
Why do they have to 'have' such a crazed tripper on their shows? Who is she sleeping with?!!!
I step off the show on to the 'So u think u can dance' floor, one series with serious talent which gives some respite, wondering why nobody cared to ask Navin Jindal what his stand on the issue was and why everybody accepted that he being a politician representing his constituency is bound to carry all voices to the parliament and leave it to some God with a K or a T to wave HIS wand which will miraculously resolve the issue. What is to be resolved here?!!!
Tradition or no tradition, crime is crime and law should take its course irrespective.
Or is democracy only an illusion created by politics to address and appease those in every nation who fight tradition and want to break free of the shackles?

The Aviation Minister wants to resign after the air crash, as though the IPL controversy wasn't good enough reason and the black box is yet to be found so it can be that human error could be a cause for the crash as the pilot is dead and will never be able to speak for himself.
Even if he was suicidal, why would he want to take 168 passengers with him?
My mate in Talegaon said that all of them must have been connected somehow and therefore destined to die together, as though he was Jim Morrison himself, lounging at Morrison Motel.
Relatives fight over charred bodies, and the Prime Minister comes on to a presser finally, making no committments, giving no solutions and taking no stands as he is the best leader we have ever had and there are polls fhat have already swung into action on social media to figure out whether we have anybody more able to take over from him in case he decides to step down.
My vote would go to Chidambaram who I think is trying hard despite a limited mandate.

I'm telling you, we are living in the bliss of bizzarre where its a miracle that life which continues to exist still goes on and where all questions ever asked have no answers and yet we all roam around like we all know best and also whats good for us and mankind as a whole.

I dive to the DELL where marketing is discussed, democracy is discussed and honesty within corruption in politics and story telling is discussed in the land where there is no hope.
People die and those who escape the jaws of death every day continue to live on.
Young turks float hope mirages which get crossed over unlike bollywood over-confidence, and men and women give birth to children in a world where gay rights are yet to be understood and digested.
On the freeway there are trucks and oil tankers driven by drunkards who got licenses without a test and are therefore clueless of speed and lane regulations.
Totalled cars lie strewn across the landscape making you thank your stars that you are still alive and yet, there is still a dhaba out there that gives you a whole tandoori chicken cooked better than any at the biggest and best in Mumbai, at Rs. 120 a piece.
A simple story waiting to be told remains understudy in the wings of a dilapidated theater which flogs its dead horses to take stage and make star performances for an audience which would rather not be there, for the money it costs them to feed the demons can and should be put to better use.
Charred remains of our fractured past haunt the screens and I am left to wonder how we will ever leave it behind, and if I will be dead or alive at the time that we finally do.

Friday, May 7, 2010

WINDS OF CHANGE

Mahesh Bhatt always makes a lot of sense.
And I love reading him and listening to him. I think he was perhaps the only man who spoke to my generation while I grew up, through school and college, then as a aspiring film maker in Mumbai.
His Arth, his Saaransh, Janam and the list goes on and and on till Zakhm.
There were many in between which I found not coming from him but from his needs, but for all his work which resonated with our sensibility, he was forgiven eternally.

There were three Indian Films, amongst many Indian Art and World Cinema, that I came to Mumbai under the influence of. They were Arth, Saath Saath and Mausam, not necessarily in that order.
I had the sheer luck of having worked closely with the directors of all three films.
At first with Shekhar Kapur, rather briefly, then Raman Kumar for a long time  and finally with Mahesh, brief and on and off on many things from Television to everything else.

The fourth, the greatest of all influences on me, was a brief stint with film maker Mainak Trivedi along with an intense relationship with him, even if one sided, as I was the one desperately involved.
His is an inspiring story, especially in the sense as to why he still has no full length feature to his credit and is a story which I'm grappling with myself to finish writing as a script for a motion picture.
His existence in itself was something I absorbed a lot from.
A relationship it was which I never got over, although he had taught me a lot, which was also enough to take me through this lifetime as I crossed many hills and dales, and rivers and streams, daring stormy oceans and when in danger, often falling back in reference to my conversations with him, many pieces of which saved somewhere in my subconcious rescued and showed me the way at every convoluted turn.
At least one thing was sorted. I knew everything I shouldn't do.
Or so I thought.

The journey of every creative person in the world of entertainment is hugely complexed. It starts from where each person comes from, and everyone comes from different places. I don't mean it literally, but it's no secret that those who market storytelling, right from time immemorial, even from when religions and constitutions in different parts of the world were first written, have been fighting a losing battle in trying to pigeonhole spaces, so that they can block minds which think and write and form and create in numbered boxes which can be refered to at quaking times when phenomenons surface.

Every generation has its own beats, not beat.
Time and space play the most crucial roles.
It is the politics of time, socio political realities and aspirational notions, what make people act and react emotionally and which the radar of a sensitive mind picks up to nuance the stories he tells, even if the same, differently.
There are also many worlds within the world we live in and the impact of the differences and contradictions is what motivates creativity.
The intention may not be to change the world, but everyone is changing constantly and a reflection of that ever changing mind altering truth cannot be negated from any creation.
Therefore it is a misnomer to assume that when entertaining, you don't have the desire to posture your thoughts in a manner that you think that the world watching your work should percieve things.
It is a denial of a hard and harsh reality which you may or may not have the courage to dare to confront.
This, because, we live in a world where violence, brutality, perversity, pain, anguish, trauma, blood, gore and filth are as entertaining, if not more, as humor and sensitive portayals of our beliefs are.
Where, what one creates, goes and hits, and what impact it has, is not in the hands of the creator or the marketer. It is all lying hidden in secrecy, in the mysteries of the isms which the people at the recieving end are surrounded by. And by the time a full blown reaction of a stereotype we don't even know we have created comes and strikes us in the face in the form of terrorism, extremism and violence, from the smallest to the largest quarters, from brutality inside a home to that inside a nation or clusters of them, we have changed and moved on, securing ourselves from monsters we have created with more defences each time.
We have to admit, that in the numbers game, we, the industry of entertainment, which cannot be dileanated from the industry of information and communication, are no less than the politicians whom we curse for playing the vote bank game, at the time when we feed hungry lions what they love to eat and justify it.

I'm inspired to write this peice, first from a tweet by Mahesh Bhatt, which said that it is a blunt fact that there is always a heavy demand for mediocrity and that in every generation the least cultivated taste has the largest apetite, and then from excerpts from an interview of Dibankar Bannerjee which I saw on CNBC TV18, in a program called Beautiful People where Anuradha Sengupta was talking to him and where he said that he has no desire to change the world in any way when he is creating his works.
While both these facts hold a truth hard to digest, I am moved with an emotion to react to them on basis of an observation. An observation which makes me realize that in all of the developed world, the mouthpiece of their cultures which is their entertainment, has succeeded in avoiding the mainstreaming of mediocrity.
The developed world has gently drawn the line between the right and wrong, the mainstream and the underground, leaving it to the people of their world to make their choices because even they know that there is precious little they can do about it otherwise. And since all art is appreciated by every artiste, both, the mainstream and the underground in the developed world co exist, lifting strains from each other every now and then to add to their works. Ironically, it is always a desperate need of all underground artistes to mainstream themselves, also making many underpriveledged mainstream artistes take the underground route to global success as well.
There is no arguement to the brutal fact that there is an apetite, a hunger and a desire to swallow huge pieces of meat soaked in the blood of mediocrity, a nonvegetarianism which makes man justify his dark side and brings the numbers, but we have to be conscious that there may be multitudes of people who do not recieve what we do in the form of education and opportunity, and are therefore dependent on shaping their lives by following the characters we portray and justify.
In India it is because we make C grade cinema and mainstream it as A grade, and because the chief players and actors are Stars and movies with Stars cost humongous amounts, that we are losing the plot.
The expenditure of the mind cannot be measured in terms of money spent. It is dangerous to do that.
Fatal to continue playing the numbers game.
Isn't it high time we learn from the developed world and start steering our impulses in a direction which will bring a positive change in our parts of the world, yet leaving choices in the hands of the people who consume our work?
Shouldn't the corridors of distribution and marketing be more aware of their roles in sensing the difference between the mainstream and the underground instead of leaving lines blurred for the sake of the ringing registers?
Just like it is time for politics in developing countries like India and Pakistan, to draw a line of distinction between mainstream politics and underground politics and stop pandering to vote bank policies, it is time for the industries of entertainment, communication and information to do the same.
The numbers game is going to lead us to destruction with no road leading us back and if we don't get it now, especially those of us who hold in our hands the pen which can ink the future, we are hurtling towards regret.

The journey of some of my inspirations are here as I put them in perspective to the politics of distribution of content which lie entrapped in the chains of numbers.

Shekhar Kapur - From Mausam to Mr. India to Bandit Queen to Hollywood and now back in India to make Paani, which he believes will educate us to respect what we have been given by God. Uncompromised creator who could perhaps afford it, and also swing it.

Mahesh Bhatt - From Arth to Zakhm relentlessly drawing from the well within himself and whatever he framed resonated with those who grew up in those times. Never made a film post Zakhm but continues to produce mediocrity which was all that sold in the market of thieves and now when I talk to him these days, I can see him ressurecting himself as the winds of change touch him as well.
I really won't be surprised if he is to annouce a film which he will direct soon.

Raman Kumar - Lost his way like Faroukh Shaikh, the protagonist, did in his first film Saath Saath, and went on to make whatever came his way irrespective of the consequences on his own psyche. Can see him struggling to find his way and hoping that he does so with the next film which he is making.

Mainak Trivedi - The best artiste amongst them all. Dreamt but never dared.

I put these obervations in perspective because I know and have been an integral part of the terrible times we have been through in the last 20 odd years of expression in India.
I have taken a ride on various storms of change and succeeded.
Then I have failed miserably and fallen in an abyss of darkness when it became incomprehensible.
When I should've compromised, I didn't, and therefore today I struggle to continue from where I had left of with my last film White Noise.
And as an artistes journey never ends, I must go on till I die.