Monday, February 10, 2014

The Longing

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” 
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
I always wondered if the above statement is true in every case. I can't help but feel that a lot of deserving people meet failure everyday. When you think about it logically, we are just a collection of atoms held together by a complex balance of forces. So, when a human(collection of atoms) does a bunch of stuff, is nature supposed to know that this  "human" is doing something that is useful for itself and reward this "collection of atoms" with a certain action or item in the future which would provide this "collection of atoms" a sense of fulfillment and achievement?

Load of bullocks.

The complexity of our universe is so huge that every human action may not get its equivalent karmic reaction. So many factors weigh in - Butterflies have to flutter, the chaos of the world has to be made sense of and hopefully, the universe follows the laws of physics at every continuous moment without fail. After all these variable factors are taken into account, it is with wonder I look upon the fact that if humans (and not any other animal, mind you) get what they deserve. So, I guess when a human does get what (we think) they deserve, it is something to behold.

If you noticed, I did not take one other factor in my above paragraphs - God. Oh, how I wish an all knowing omnipresent God existed and would give people what they deserve.  It would make the world so much easier. Everything would be black and white. Every decision would be easy. What you do is either right or wrong. No shades of grey in between. Oh, and how astoundingly boring such a world would be.

I guess I am writing this because I want something in my life right now. And I don't know what it is and don't know what to do. Oh well, I know I cannot depend on the universe to help. It seems to be quite a moody thing.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Need for a Hero


As a child, I enjoyed cartoons like any self respecting pre-teener. You know which cartoons caught my fancy? Yes, cartoons with heroes in them. I would imagine myself in the shoes of Batman and superman(sometimes, I still do) and save the world. Other times, I just sit and watch the world being saved. They were infallible. They would rise from the dead. They would plan for everything the villain had in store for them. They could almost never lose. Even if they lost, another hero would emerge to take the mantle. These heroes gave me a sense of security and hope. I'd like to imagine that some of you also felt the same way.

As my childhood unraveled and I realized that there are no superheroes. The heroes you saw on TV, read in comic books and books as a child would lose some of the magic it had on me. But I craved for heroes. Someone I could depend on to swoop in whenever I was in trouble. As the train of life kept chugging along, the craving turned to desperation and then, to a strange sense of serenity. The logical part of me had known all along, but the child in me still thinks there's a hero somewhere out there, infallible, and saving people.

What about heroes you see on the news you ask? Real life heroes who are actually doing(or did?) real life work. Yes, they are inspirational. But the cynical in me destroys the human hero. A small failure, a mistake here or there would reduce the real life hero to an ordinary human who makes mistakes.

The media doesn't help matters though. Take for example Raghuram Rajan, the new Governor of RBI. `The man who could do no wrong` as one of the news outlets so eloquently put. He is the man who stopped the free fall of the rupee. We want him to be that hero who saves the rupee.We want him to make the rupee better than the dollar. We know he might never do it. But I want him to do it. I want to believe that he is that hero. I believe some of you do too. Some of you might want to be that hero.

Sachin Tendulkar used to be my hero. Don't mistake me, I'm his biggest fan, but I realized he was nothing but human in recent times. Rajnikanth, the Tamil superstar used to make me believe I could do everything he did in his movies. But then, I grew up. I realized he had superpowers only in movies.

I don't know if my thoughts above resonate with yours. I hope some of you could at least relate with it. But I know for a fact that I am not alone in the endeavor to find that hero, however illogical it may seem.

I believe the dictionary definition 'hero' allows for human heroes. Hopefully, the definition of 'hero' in my mind allows for humans in mean time. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Da Vinci's Demons

Da Vinci's Demons is a TV show I got to watch recently. It is a different spin on the life of Leonardo Da Vinci. The critics say that the show has many inaccuracies. And from what I have seen of the show, it does seem to be inaccurate, but it seems to revel in its inaccuracies. The show takes place during the Medici's rule of Florence during the 1470s. The Pazzi conspiracy of assassinating the Medicis is also major story arc. However, Da Vinci's role in these story arcs are fictionalized and brought to light. Reading some of the Wikipedia entries of Da Vinci, Count Riario and the Medici's showed that the show is following the major story arc accurately enough, but straying wherever it can, creating a kind of alternate history. The show brings some of its own elements to the fore like what the plot of the game Assassin's Creed II did, which also took place in the same time period.

To be honest, if it were not Assassin's Creed II, I would not have been as interested in Da Vinci's Demons. Interestingly, there exists another show called The Borgias. The Borgia family also played a major part in the plot of Assassin's Creed II. What fascinates me is the mixture of real history and conspiracy theories which throw up some intriguing possibilities and ideas. I owe my (little)knowledge of Renaissance Italy and Rome to the games Assassins Creed II and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood.

What is really interesting is that, even with it's inaccuracies and fallacies, I enjoy the show for what it is. Occasionally, I read the Wikipedia entries to know what actually happened so as to not disillusion myself.

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They say one's roots are important. They identify you. I do not know what to feel when I say that my knowledge of India's rich history is not that great. From the Pandians, Cholas to the Mughal Empire, I do not know a great deal about them. I sometimes wonder how a show involving the Mughal empire would be. The invasion by Babur, the intricate politics of Akbar's court, the fall of Aurengzeb and there are many more stories which can be told in a very interesting way. Maybe include Birbal as a lead character like Da Vinci? Explore the secret world of the Mughals? Or even why restrict ourselves to the Mughals, we can explore the other kingdoms of India too. Maybe create an alternate world like Game Of Thrones? I see so many possibilities. We can take a leaf out of the European/American TV show model and create wonderful shows with history and fiction mixed in the right amount. I would watch that kind of show. And yeah, help me be aware of Indian history by forcing me to read Wikipedia entries about it whenever I suspect inaccuracy which would in turn benefit me, although in a convoluted way.

That is me just dreaming there.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Cynicism of Adulthood

I remember this old interview. I watched it when I was a kid. In it, Harsha Bhogle was interviewing Sachin Tendulkar. Harsha asked this question about experience, about whether it matters or not. Sachin replied by saying that with experience, you start to know the ways things can go wrong and with inexperience, you just go and do your stuff without much thought. I remember it in a little jaded way but that was the gist of the interview.

When I was young, I used to think I could change the world. Don't get me wrong, I still think it is possible. But I don't have the same enthusiasm about it. Where did I lose this enthusiasm? As life tends to kick your ass in its own way, you learn that people don't change as quickly as you thought. Frankly, movies and TV tend to create false hope that things can change, for a fleeting moment. Then you realize things aren't as rosy. If you think about it, we always descend down the stairs as we grow up.

Recently, I learnt that a debate is of no use if people are not ready to change their mind. It becomes a quarrel and then before you know it, it becomes a full blown hate/revenge story.  When you are a child, your opinions are not considered. During teen years, your opinions are considered hazy and foolish. And when one becomes an adult, one just stops having opinions because they know it is dangerous. When you do have an opinion, you are expected to stand up for it. If you don't, you are considered spineless. And if you do stand up for something, you bloody well make sure there are people standing behind you because if you do stand alone, you are sure to become a martyr for a cause that might be forgotten after a while.

I maybe wrong, but hey, it is an opinion. My cynical side has shown up I guess.

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I am sometimes pessimistic. I like tragic stories. I must have been Greek in my previous lifetime(No, I don't believe in reincarnation, but you do get my point, don't you?) .

Even through all my pessimism, I still believe that change is possible when enough work is put in. It just takes enormous strength. Oh, how I wish listening to "Eye of the tiger" refilled your virtual strength "meter". As you gain experience, I am sure you'll learn of ways how many ways you can fail. Just don't let it bother you.

By the way, those Rocky movies were damn inspiring. Seriously, if you are looking for inspiration, even for a little bit, watch the original Rocky. It will give you hope.

A Night at the Norah Jones Concert

Music. Without it, life would be utterly boring. Movies would be so utterly flat without a good musical score. I enjoy music as much as the next person. I don't listen to music for the sake of it. I listen to music in the interstices of my daily routine. I guess most of us do that. I started listening to Norah Jones when someone I knew mentioned that she sang too slow. I was intrigued when I heard "slow songs". I started listening to her songs and have been hooked ever since. Enchanted, exactly.

I didn't have much company for this concert.  Only a few people I knew had even heard of her. And very few were even interested to go for it. I normally wouldn't have gone. But I just had this urge to go and watch her sing live. Her songs are serene and melodious. The kind of songs you would love to listen to on a long winter night. There may be others as melodious as her, but I like the consistency in her albums The Fall and Little Broken Hearts. I listened to them again and again. And oh yeah, I love her smile.

The concert kicked off with M.Ward singing. The crowd was starting to swell. In about half an hour he was done. Everyone was waiting for Norah to occupy the stage. After another half hour she with her band showed up. She started off with Happy Pills and covered most of her best songs. She had the crowd going along as she was sassy with comments between songs. "I love it when you shout at me!" was her response after the loud cheer after one of her songs. A guy yelled "Marry me" in between. She was like "Marry me?" and laughed it off.

I was delighted. It was a beautiful experience to hear her sing live. For me, music has been more of a personal experience. We like songs based on our moods and emotions. Her songs meant a lot to me and getting to listen to them live from the person itself was a wonderful experience. If I had to describe the concert in one sentence - It was beautiful.

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On a separate note, I was noticing the crowd for the concert. Quite a lot of people from various parts of the world. I also got to see some of the "upper class" of Bangalore. It was interesting to see how easily people got along when fundamental comfort is not an issue . I guess it's a topic for another post.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Stuck in a Rut

That feeling of being stuck in a rut. The same mundane chores. The same routine every single day. It happens to all of us without any of us even realizing it. In the Dark Knight Rises, Bane says to Batman "Peace has cost you your strength! Victory has defeated you!" When you get too comfortable, that is when life hits you the hardest in the face. I have felt it far too many times to shrug it off as coincidence. There is something about suffering in the human facade. Without it, we undermine and neglect everything.

I am not talking about the physical suffering. I am talking about the mental suffering. That hunger to do something. When you ignore it, the fire to do work also starts to weaken. This is where the mundane in life kicks in.

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Again, I am going to use a Dark Knight Rises reference here. If you remember, there is a sequence where Bruce Wayne(Batman) is stuck in a pit, which is also a prison. There is a reason Christopher Nolan chose to show him suffer the way he did. Because when you rise after going through all that pain, something primal in you tingles you, gives you goosebumps. It inspires you even if you don't want to be emotionally manipulated by a movie. The story of rising after going through such a fall, the rags to riches stories which are told everywhere in the world are there for a reason. We humans like the satisfaction that comes after it. Rajnikanth has such a mass following him because his origin is also a factor. He fortunately (or intentionally?) acted in movies which portrayed the rags-to-riches stories in his own style.

As you rise(sorry, last Dark Knight Rises reference. I promise) from any suffering you have currently, you will notice that the hunger to do work also increases. Ambition starts to take shape and takes center stage. I love it when that happens!

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By the way, I received an anonymous compliment today. I was gleeful. It was that compliment that spurred me to post this.  

Apparently I need to change the way I walk. Interesting. I guess I'll consider the advice.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Alternate Cinescope

Imagination is something that fascinates me. It is what fuels art and it's various forms. Even science is dead without imagination.
Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. -  Albert Einstein
Movies are something I hold in the highest regard for the power it wields in the manifestation of imagination in all its visual splendor. I believe it can have an immense emotional impact as well. At least for me. I usually get an emotional high even if I watch simple movies like Bridge to Terbithia, Fish Tank, The Cement Garden to The Godfather, The Matrix, The Dark Knight and more recently, the spectacular Life of Pi.

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From the experience of movie watching, I tried my hand at movie making. I recently made three short movies. One of them was not that well planned. It was a spoof('Stalker') on an old Hutch advert. I believe people found it mildly amusing. The second and third shorts had actual scripts written for it. Our college has a course called 'Ethics and Values' which had a short movie as a part of the curriculum. I had not taken the course, but being the enthusiast that I was, I tried my best to get involved in the movie making scheme of things.

I co-wrote both the scripts. Interestingly, both of them revolved around women and the injustice against them. The first one was called 'Lost Fire'. It had a pretty extensive script. It was 19 pages long. If a script is nineteen pages long, it would mean that the movie would be roughly 18-20 minutes. We did not need that long of a story. Hence, when the shooting started, I decided to remove a few scenes to make the movie around 13 minutes.

We had around seven actors for the movie. The problem was each one had a different schedule of classes. Hence, getting all of them together was a huge pain. Thank god we did not have too many scenes with all of them involved. The shooting took us four scattered days, with around one to two hours of average film shooting each day. I learnt a lot about how hard acting can be. Imparting believabilty to a role turned out to be very difficult. I tried what I could. When it came to editing the movie, I realized the movie needed voice dubbing very badly since the dialogues were not heard properly over the background noise. Unfortunately, it had to be submitted the next day, and we did not have enough time. I also realized on  more thing though - the background music makes a world of difference.

The second movie was called 'Withering Away' (Couldn't think of another name, honestly), This short had around three acts. I wrote the middle act while my friend wrote the other two acts. This was a much smoother experience and was shot within two days. The movie was around 10 minutes long. Also, this time, I made sure the actors spoke loudly enough for the dialogue to be heard. It worked and I was happy.

The subject matter of the movies were pretty dark which included eve-teasing, female feoticide, rape and molestation. It was a touchy subject and everyone involved actually felt strongly about the subject matter. It helped a lot in the shooting process, especially in 'Withering Away'.

Overall, co-writing scripts and directing three movies made me feel very good about myself. It also made me realize how difficult it is to imagine and direct at the same time.




I haven't uploaded 'Withering Away' yet. Might do it soon. :)


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Excluding the above short movies, I was also involved in a video called 'Love Language' which was actually a remake of another video of the same name. A colleague of mine did most of the direction while I played part with the camera and a few tips.

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As I mentioned earlier, movies always manage to evoke an emotive response from me. Most movies make me feel as a part of the world it tries to capture( and most good movies do). As an amateur short movie maker, I tried the same.

Movies are also a form of legacy and art. It is hard for me to imagine how people would look at the current crop of movies from a hundred years from now. It would represent our generation.