Saturday, June 12, 2010

Heartless! Godless!! And now Godotless!!!

I have almost always abused this space by addressing my anxieties, the many 'rights' and the 'wrongs' that have been done. Make no mistake, I am a damsel in stress, not distress. This explains why I have inflicted numerous poorly articulated posts on this space without caring if at all these words will ever be read by any mortal. Enraged by the selfish nature of the writing, the space too has given me a befitting reply---a silence in which I introspect my  life and its many 'miseries'. For the last four years (ever since I started the blog), it seems that I have been waiting for Godot without knowing who or what Godot is. Is it success? Money? Love? Debauchery? Godot is definitely not success or money...these can be acquired way too easily. He is definitely not love, because he claims to come my way often. He is perhaps a debauched traveller. As perverse as you are in your emotions, but a lot more silent. Your patience is a journey too, at the end of which lies a heartbreak. In the guise of lover, he is a stranger. He is a lover as long as you are a stranger. A patron as long as you are the Petrarchan mistress. In few days, several hours, many minutes and numerous seconds, he will travel through life to find his sense of self. He will cremate you in his heart and bury you in his mind. Like a trapped soul, you will continue to wander and wonder if he will ever put his hand around your waist again and murmur on your lips, "Dearest". Your heart pounding every second and chanting "Come as you are... not as a friend but as who you were".

Next morning, when a furious sun absorbs the water on your face, Godot shall be making new memories with new strangers. His lens would see them all, it would be the mute witness of his tryst with life. You will shed a tear every day in solitude till you become perverse and say "Goodbye blue sky!"

And that is the day another part of you will quietly die.

Heartless! Godless!! And now Godotless!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Late Dorian Gray

Destined to be.
Dorian Gray.


We are no V. Woolf whose mind is a locked closet nor are we J. Austen whose truths are often 'universally acknowledged'. Unlike these women, words have stopped befriending us. Obscurity is our opium. We find our unhappiness in our bliss and find our failures in our successes. We find our refuge in our passivity and fall back on pills that keep us numb. Having conditioned ourselves in a way that makes sure we remain 'unaffected' no matter what happens, we make sure that no emotion---love or hatred---can move us. As for me, I am an obscurist. Quite often, in a moment of self-introspection, I have wondered if I am half alive or half dead...if I am living or merely existing. The answers have never come easily to me, neither to those with whom I have wanted to share the aforementioned anxieties.  I survive in the zone between happyness and existential angst. Uncertainty is my only companion.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Words Apart

The worst kind of crisis for a mind looking for redemption is loss of words. When she had words, she did not have a story to tell. Now she has a yarn to spin, but words are not her companion anymore.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Jeffrey Archer: On the Write Track (May 2008 interview, A Prisoner of Birth)

His life is stuff bestsellers are made of. There are scams, trials and of course, his favorite theme, prison. All this and more makes Lord Jeffrey Archer a man worthy of a tête-à-tête. Currently the author is travelling across the country for the first time for Landmark's Jeffrey Archer tour. He is actively promoting his latest book, A Prisoner of Birth, a rags to riches tale of a man wrongly convicted for a crime.

In a rather candid chat with HT City, Lord Archer not only talks about his latest book, but also clears the air about the rumours related to his writing, and, of course, why he wouldn't really want Hilary Clinton to be another Florentyna Kane (The Prodigal Daughter).

The rendezvous starts on a rather unexpected note. Before we pose a question, it is Archer who throws one for us. The question is --- "Have you read the book?" It's only after a loud "YES" that the chat progresses. "India is a great place. People actually read books here." This coming from a man who has sold more than 130 million copies worldwide. "One hundred thirty only? I don't know how many more I have sold in India because of the piracy," he says.

Many reviews have stated that the book is explicitly based on The Count of Monte Cristo, and Archer, on his part admits to being influenced. "Well, I's say it is a modern version of The Count of Monte Cristo. That book is 1,700 pages. It was written at a time when there was no radio, no television, and very little theatre. People read big books then. Things have changed now." Well said Lord Archer. But when quizzed about his own stint in the jail and if it had influenced the plot, the author couldn't help but get into a diplomatic mode. While trying to settle in his chair, he says, "We all use the knowledge that we have. You write about your experiences. For instance when I go back to England after spending 7-8 days in India, I would have an Indian story. Here I have come across situations and people I would want to write about." So, is this the formula for a bestseller? Apparently not. "Then you would have been writing a book," says the author unassumingly. "You write when you have a story to tell. It's a god gifted. And of course you write about what you know. Jane Austen wrote about a small village and how a couple of sisters get married. And these went on to become the five of the greatest novels ever written. Write what you know about. Otherwise there will be four pages of sex and four pages of violence, and then four pages of a story. "

He spoke about the first woman president of America in Florentyna Kane, the lead protagonist of The Prodigal Daughter. An obvious question is if he's routing for Hilary Clinton for the US presidential elections. He laughs his heart out and then responds, " Twenty years later, the Americans have woken up. I would actually like Barack Obama to win. I have followed the elections very closely. I think he is very exciting. I believe he's beaten Mrs. Clinton already and he can beat Senator Mc Cain." But what about the buzz that Florentyna Kane's character was closely modeled on Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi? " By the time I wrote the book, there had been 5 women PMs in the world. What Mrs. Gandhi, Mrs. Thatcher and Mrs. Meir had in common was their toughness. As for Mrs Thatcher, I worked for 11 years with her. So it would be difficult to write a book and not be influenced by her. By then there had been 5 women PMs in the world. In fact Mrs. Thatcher once said that to beat a man you have to be twice as good, and she was, in fact, twice as good." One of the most cherished moment: When he invited Beatles to Brasenose College to perform for a charity event. " I kept in touch with Paul Mc Cartney after that!"

While the readers just can't get enough of him, his detractors, however, have had a mixed opinion about his writings. One of the more popular rumours revolves around his wife Mary, and many have gone to the extent of claiming that she often writes for him. When quizzed about the same, Archer loses his composure and points out, "Yeah, my wife was in prison and writing the books for me. My wife could not write a book to save her life. It's been the most ridiculous statement ever made. I will tell you a little secret, when I went to prison, stupid people stopped saying that someone else wrote the books. I wrote three books from there and they went on to become number one. She's a scientist. I can't write her books either."

Moving on to a more cheerful topic (read: his blog), the author professes his love for blogging and feels it's an easier way of connecting to a number of readers. "I get 542,000 hit on my site last month and about 25 per cent of my emails are from Indians." Since he's also a cricket buff we asked if he'll be catching up on the ongoing IPL series. He was planning to watch one on Saturday evening, but confessed that Twenty-20 wasn't his cup of tea. "I prefer to follow test matches." So was there anything else that he was looking forward from his Indian tour. "England beating India, five matches in a row. But then, that's not possible."

For someone so prolific yet controversial, one couldn't help but ask if being controversial comes naturally to Archer. "Well, I have not been controversial for the past three years. I have written six books, and have been doing a lot of charity work." Any regrets in life? "No way, you've just got one life, live it as best as you can. Work hard and live your life." Now that's what we call living live king-size!

Archer's favourite authors of Indian origin

Salman Rushdie
VS Naipaul
Arundhati Roy

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Bed of Agony

Witness to the love
Long lived or long forgotten,
It stands blind and mute,
Not tall, yet firm.

Soft is the surface,
The scent is sweet.
Don’t forget the hardness
That lies low and beneath.

The warmth of the bed
Is like love itself.
It is tender and fragile,
Almost like a lover’s sigh.

The bed often growls
In a joyful pain.
Over it’s subtle top
The lovers reign.

Its sheets are often wet
With desire and glutton.
As the moonlight falls,
The bed shines with passion

No rose adorns it,
Yet it feels the bliss.
The stains fade in a day,
The memory lasts a lifetime.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Basterds, Nonetheless!

There are two ways in which you can tell someone that s/he is dumb. Either you say “You are plain dumb” or “You have been deprived of common sense”. The latter is only a subtle yet a stylistic manner of telling the friend in question that he is a fool.

In his latest Nazi slugfest, Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino has used the latter version to mock the entire exercise infamously known as Nazism. Told in four chapters, the film deals primarily with three aspects of the Nazi occupation in France---the oppressive Nazis, the defiant Basterds and the victims of Nazism. Each aspect has been embodied through characters, who in their own way, are as blood-thirsty as the leader of the Nazi pack, Adolf Hitler. Colonel Hans Landa of the SS is cruel yet dynamic, an oppressor who has a way with words. In the opening scene of the film, he kills a Jew family taking refuge in a French dairy farmer’s house. The daughter, Shosanna Dreyfus, manages to escape. Four years later, Shosanna herself assumes a new identity as Emmanuelle, heading a small but a well-known theatre in Paris. The petite and beautiful Shosanna becomes an object of fancy for Fredrick Zoller, a young war hero who is all set to star in a film that glorifies his role in killing hundreds of Jews. In the meantime, the Basterds, under the leadership of Aldo Raine continue to cause mayhem, killing SS soldiers and scalping their heads with the Swastik (as against the inverted Swastik, a symbol of Nazism). In his endeavours, Raine is helped by a famed German actress Bridget von Hammersmark.

As Zoller and his filmmaker/ Nazi propanganda minister Joseph Goebbels agree to hold the premiere at Shosanna’s theatre, the Basterds and Shosanna herself come up with their respective plans to blow the auditorium where the ‘Fuhrer’ is also expected to come. The second half of the film puts the four chapters into a perspective with a sole mission---to kill the Nazi leaders who are to attend the premiere.

The plot aside, what holds the film together is the sheer flamboyance exhibited by different characters. Alda’s portraiture, be it in terms of the appearance or the gestures, are not different from Hitler himself. His brand of anti-Nazism is as lethal as Nazism itself, except that he happens to be a reactionary. Add to this the thirst for revenge in Shosanna. So who exactly are these inglourious basterds? The Nazis, the Basterds, who, though operate in small numbers, have waged an equally bloody war against the Nazis, or the revenge-seeking Jews like Shosanna? The answer lies in the title itself and the fact that no character is spared a redemption, not even Hitler himself who instead of committing suicide (which he is believed to have done in reality), is shown dying in the locked auditorium screening Zoller’s film. This very aspect of the film is an evidence of the mockery that Tarantino very consciously plays on each of his protagonists. There are more, but I don’t intend to spoil the film for you by revealing the end.

Any discussion on a Tarantino film is incomplete without an insight into the violence that is an integral part of his films. The violence in Inglourious Basterds works at several levels. Beginning with the title itself. Obviously one couldn’t have named it ‘French Connection 3’. At another level, the nature of the social and the political context the protagonists live in are equally violent. Take this remark from Landa as an example. “What a tremendously hostile world that a rat must endure. Yet not only does he survive, he thrives. Because our little foe has an instinct for survival and preservation second to none. And that is what a Jew shares with a rat.” It is another matter that towards the end the survival instincts in Landa take precedence over the ‘Hail Hitler’ syndrome. Finally, the physical violence. Portrayed in its rawest form, the violence is aesthetic. For Tarantino, brutality is brutality. There’s no escape from it. And the finest aspect of his work is that he doesn’t even seem to keep his viewers under such an illusion.

The lead actors Brad Pitt (Aldo Raine) and Diane Kruger (Bridget von Hammersmark) put up a decent act, but an ‘act’ nonetheless. The Greek God of Hollywood (read Brad Pitt) has a meaty role in the film, but it is only in few scenes that Aldo Raine takes precedence over the star. Ditto for Kruger. In contrast Christopher Waltz (who plays Hans Landa) and Melanie Laurent (who plays Shosanna) come close to living their respective roles. The other actors do not disappoint either.

Don't wait, just bask in the glory of the Inglourious Basterds.