Monday, March 31, 2014

Washed clean by the sands of time

A few years back, they were very close. She used to pour out her thoughts to him. It used to be a 'Stream of consciousness' kind of outpouring. Her anguish, jealousies, love, longing, frustrations, fantasies - he thought himself lucky. Every once in a while, they used to go on walks, along the clean, narrow road overlooking the calm lake. Every cell of his brain was intent on listening to her. He went into phases of such intense concentration that he frequently surprised himself. Her voice, the crushing of gravel beneath her shoes, in his spell, he was sure he could hear the wind rustle her jacket against her body. All other sounds were immaterial. They simply did not exist.

Today, some 15 months later, he recollected a conversation -

I am a very simple person

Whoever said, girls are simple! You are definitely not simple!

How do you say that?

You are very confused. You don't know who is the right person for you.

I know

No, you know you don't

It is just that I can't see motives behind anybody's actions

You have to grow up!

Don't you think I am grown up? (The suddenness of her smile caught him unaware and he had to catch his breath)

Not every guy is nice!

We have been through this

Oh God! Why am I even trying again? Do you know, I care for you? I care very deeply for you

I think so too

You think so?

Okay, I think you do

That is better. Look at these trees, they are barren

The change of seasons. I wish, there is a pattern to people's behavior too

In that case, we would not be people. We would become robots. How can you compare changing seasons to people's behavior?

Why do guys ask so many questions?

Because we like knowing answers

Some questions don't have answers. Sometimes, one just has to listen

Yeah, because girls like to talk more

Why should we always argue?

Yes, we always argue but I like arguing with you

Why don't we agree on something for a change?

If only she knew that he was ready to agree to anything she wanted! 

They were separated for a few months, time had intervened to wedge distances between their paths. She became inaccessible. He had an inkling that she was moving away, irretrievably away from him. It was beyond his control. The few times they managed to speak, there was a chasm, a void that had risen. He tried his best to figure out what could have happened. Did she meet someone? Did she sort out her confusions?

He called her every once in a while just to hear her voice. She would always have some reason to dissuade him from any conversation. "Forget the friendship we shared, we can be acquaintances, I can get to know you all over again", he wanted to say. He knew she was beyond that. The bond they shared, they jokes that lit up their days and the intense conversations that he so looked forward to, they were washed clean, by the sands of time. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cuckoo - Heartwarming realism

"Life is indeed tough for poor people and if you are blind, well...", my friend's words trailed off after the movie as he couldn't complete what he wanted to convey.

Shot on rail platforms, streets and inside trains, Cuckoo's sheer brilliance lies in the fact that it can be any blind man's love story. There is very little stereotyping which means there is no classical hero-villain sequence, no item number, running-around-the-trees routine, vulgar jokes, flexing of muscles, unintelligible lyrics and contrived sentimentality.

Dinesh as Thamizh and Malavika Nair as Suthanthirakodi fit the bill. Dinesh has done a commendable job for an upcoming actor. Malavika's beauty and screen presence at times makes Suthanthirakodi appear proud. I am sure her acting would take her places. In the scene where her liking for her reader is not reciprocated, she displays a sense of pride and self esteem that is remarkable. This scene also clothes a sharp rebuke on the camera-trigger and like-savvy FB generation that doesn't respect privacy.

Suthanthirakodi's brother tries hard to force his sister to marry his friend but she doesn't relent.The movie thankfully doesn't resort to vulgar violence here. Thamizh's friend and his street-performing troupe provide comic relief. For an audience deprived of clean jokes, this is a welcome change.

Music is refreshingly different with a prominent folk tilt. Strong lyrics, high pitched vocals and some absolutely stunning visuals together make a memorable treat for the eyes and the ears.My personal favorites are 'Agasatha' and 'Pota pulla'

As Kalyani Nair sings

Kannala Ethayum Kaanatha Ivathaan Kaneera Paarthaenae
Ini Nee Ennoda Azhaga Ponnaana Ulaga Unnala Paarpaeanae
any viewer's heart would melt at the vulnerability of the lead pair and the innocence of the love that wraps them together. Kudos to the music director Santhosh Narayan and lyricist Yugabharathi.

Cuckoo is eminently likeable because it redeems humanity's faith in itself. It shows that for every thieving policeman, there is a compassionate and helpful stranger. It repeatedly shows by virtue of it's script that mankind's natural inclination is to do good! Thamizh does good and wishes good for his friends and this is reciprocated in kind when he needs it most. It is realism at its best and fittingly ends with a strong glimmer of hope.That this is based on a true story makes it all the more endearing.

Eminently watchable. I'd rate it a 4.5 on 5.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

His and Her story

She delights in the ephemeral.
He believes in the eternal.

She prefers the objectivism of Ayn Rand.
He wallows in the sentimentality of Fyodor Dostoevsky.

She is a connoisseur of wine.
He has sampled more brands of beer than an average German.

She hates her parrot nose and doesn't wear an ear ring.
He fancies biting her nose and frequently resists pulling her ear lobes.

Her manfriday is fair, handsome and has a perfect smile.
His dreamgirl is tall, dusky and has legs to die for.

She grew up eating jalebis for breakfast.
He remembers soft idlis with chilli powder.

Her favorite evening snack is a plate of golgappas.
His choice is a plate of piping hot masala bhajjis.

She loves hiking in the mountains.
He likes sauntering along the seashore.

She grooves to the hardrock of linkin park.
He is moved by the melodies of Ilayaraja.

She knows he loves her.
He knows she wants to be loved.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Kolkata Vignettes

"With reference to the letter dated march 4, it is unfortunate that a notice has been slapped. No oportunity was given to discuss and sort out the issue..."   I could not help looking at what the bespectacled old gentleman seated next to me was writing.

I had walked in to the Indian coffee house located off college street in the first floor of a decrepit looking building. The scene before me was straight out of an old novel, small tables laid out in no particular order  and occupied by young men and women, most of them, presumably college students. Spacious, high ceilings, waiters dressed in white and wearing turbans, an old wizened man sitting on a tall chair below a large plaque on the wall that displayed the menu - it took me a while to take in the charm of the setting before I made my way to the lone unoccupied table located almost at the centre of the large hall.  

This particular gentleman walked in a few minutes later with a resoluteness that seemed at odds with his years. Seeing that I was perhaps the only person not in a group, he headed toward me and with a gentle nod that said "you wouldn't mind" and seated himself next to me. He proceeded to open his file slowly, went through the sheaf of documents carefully, rearranged it's contents, took out a A4 size sheet and a fountain pen. His manner was graceful and his every movement, so precise that one can't help wonder if he isn't the sort who regularly walks in at that hour to write important letters.  

I imagined my friend sitting with her classmates at the next table, chatting away about Anton Chekhov and DH Lawrence. It was her suggestion that had made me take a taxi to college street...

 Lined with book shops on either side of the road, college street in Kolkata is perhaps the only avenue in the country where books of every imaginable genre could be found. "Dada, dada", at every step, men called out to me seeing opportunity in the curiosity of a passerby. I could find organic chemistry sitting next to philosophy and Tolstoy. Many college students and quite a few middle aged men and women were asking for specific titles and authors...  

On one side of the street, people lined up in rows of 5 with placards. The man at the head of the gathering started shouting a slogan that was quickly taken up. Taxis, autos, a lone tonga, cars and bikes came to a stop and policemen sprung out of nowhere to regulate the group's march and the traffic.  

The previous evening, we had been to Someplace Else, a happening pub at the Park hotel in Park street. At the smoking area, another unique facet of this city was in evidence. Dense clouds of smoke and through them, animated faces were discussing Chelsea and the latest stars of the India under 19 cricket team. A band just began tuning instruments as we left the pub known for it's live music every night.

Surely, this is one city where the simple lies juxtaposed with the sophisticated, the poor rub shoulders with the nouveau riche, the wise old seat themselves next to the vivacious young, tongas and trams wait at signals, intellectuals sip coffee whilst talking to the men next door, Chetan Bhagat occupies space behind Rabindranath Tagore at book shops, men in suits come to pubs and listen to rock music played by young guys wearing simple fashionable kurtas...I can go on, suffuce it to say that it is well and truly, a city of Joy!