Saturday, June 26, 2010

On Chaos, order, reflections and free will

Like a pendulum gone crazy, my moods swing hither and thither,
Thoughts emerge only to recede among the crevices; gather 
and swell, only to flounder and wither. A hundred memories juggle
for attention, few engage, many tease and mock, in a stark irony!

Here I am, waiting for time to cease, to pause and stay still. 
I need to rewind, relive; take stock, walk without the taunt of 
the next moment and the dread of another dawn turning to dusk.

As the grains of time gather in weight, the measuring glass tilts.
It is all hazy, like a train running at high speed and the rattling
windows thundering to their own rhythm. Chaos prevails!
The stop when it comes, will it be abrupt? Will I remember the 
person sitting next to me or will the overwhelming noise cloud 
out the recollection? I fear and a chill runs down my spine. 

The child next aisle was cute, the girl opposite, sweet.
Were they mirages or did they exist for real? Was I imagining
things and telling stories to myself? Was it free will or destiny,
was it fate or fortune? 

The mills of time have their own rules, slow or fast, 
harsh or gentle, His will shall decide. 
The pawns are sacrificed while the knights wait their turn.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rajneeti - A commentary on the dark underbelly of Indian Politics

Violence begets violence and hate begets more hate! - the axiom on which Rajneeti is built.

 In a country, where many states from Jammu and Kashmir in the north to Tamilnadu in the South practice dynasty politics, where rhetoric fetches votes more than concrete policies and execution, where politics has appropriated prime time television's entertainment space and where the boundaries between private and public space is increasingly a blur, Rajneeti is like a mirror, a shade more melodramatic and perhaps a shade too conspicuously violent at that. At the outset, the critics seem to have lavished generous praise on what is a typical masala movie. 

What works in favor of Rajneeti?  

  1. Fine acting by the star cast -
    • Ajay Devghan - After Gangajal and Apaharan, we see Ajay again outperforming himself in a role that was the most difficult to play 
    • Ranbir Kapoor - as a scheming brother always trying to get a "one-up" on the challenger 
    • Katrina Kaif - comes across struggling in the eye-candy scenes while carrying herself remarkably well in the weighty ones
    • Nana Patekar - a natural fit for the role he plays
    • Manoj Bajpai - good but was something wrong with his make-up? 
    • Arjun Rampal - the character you actually feel a lot of sympathy for.    
      2. The screenplay by Prakash Jha and Anjum Rajabali is pacy and raw.
      3.  A heady mix of melodrama, action and Mahabharat style rendering of story.
      4. Presenting a picture of the Indian polity as a bunch of power hungry, morally                 unscrupulous, manipulative and corrupt men.

What doesn't work?

  1. The political language employed in some sequences sounded discordant with the age we live in. 
  2. The see-saw battle within the family - cliches of rape and murders. 
  3.  Absence of songs - for an intense movie, some songs could have been thrown in...the album has some decent numbers from multiple composers, my favorite being 'Mora Piya'.
The movie was a bit of a letdown despite the fine acting on display. For a movie based on politics, there was very little realism. The effort towards basing the movie loosely on the characters of the Mahabharata was unique and one can comfortably say, successful too especially the characters of Kunthi and Karna standing out! Deserving mention is also the fact that the movie had no real hero, perhaps because of the moral dubiousness of all the characters. The costume was hard on the eye with little variety. Overall, a watchable movie with nothing great or appreciable to take away. 

On a personal level, I went for a movie with friends after a long long time. We had good fun on the way to Mayajaal and on the way back singing some memorable numbers. The oldies again ruled. We seem to have a fascination for them, no matter how modern we consider ourselves to be!!

Continue reading at your own risk:

Now that I am about to complete the first term of the PGPM, I couldn't help thinking - 

  1. Were the brand elements of the two parties shown in the movie impactful to get into the customer's (the junta here) cognitive space?
  2. Wasn't internal family battle a case of 'Prisoner's dilemma' with the two sides always competing and losing more in each successive round, never for a moment, exploring cooperation?
  3. From a philosophical standpoint, isn't the concept of Nyaya always more appealing than rigid Niti?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The passage of time

"There is such a little time that your youth will last...The common hill flowers wither, but they blossom again. The laburnum will be as yellow next June as it is now... But we never get back our youth. The pulse of joy that beats in us at 20, becomes sluggish. Our limbs fail, our senses rot. We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions, of which we were too much afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the World but youth" - From Oscar Wilde's 'The picture of Dorian Gray'. 

As I turned 24, such an extract makes me think, isn't my youth too waning with every passing day, eluding my grasp like the loose sea sand? Or is it all just a matter of feeling 20 again? Well, sitting in my hostel room with assignments and projects waiting for my attention, I better make this post small. Coming back to college is akin to feeling young all over with a renewed vigor! You are suddenly given a port-key (Remember Harry Potter) and taken back to a place that you once thought you would never see again for the rest of your life.

Here, things are happening way too fast to make sense of, in a relaxed and laid back fashion. I used to do this...take a long walk, observe every little detail on the way, come back to my room, lie down and play the walk like a picture in my mind's eye...change a few characters here and there, add a few things here and there...I had time on my side like an obedient boy doing an errand. It afforded a certain luxury that I cherished. Now, there are too many characters, too many contexts, too many things happening at the same time that the recording mechanism in the mind is not able to keep pace and do justice. 

I get the feeling that life is becoming too racy and as a consequence a little too mechanical to draw any meaning. Meanwhile, Youth - that part of our lives -with rules of its own, is slipping past mockingly and with unabashed glee. Shouldn't we slow down the pace just a little? Just enough to pause and reflect, smile without any other thought fighting for space, admire the beauty all around us and get the courage to do what our heart exactly desires, what we always wanted to do but couldn't find the courage to...? Having said that, I still love the way things are panning out for, in optimism, lies hope and liberation. We are all young in our hearts and we can always make time obey our commands if only we get around to prioritizing what we want out of life. Everything boils down to that...