Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dhobi Ghat - lights, camera, reality!

Last week we went for Dhobi Ghat, Kiran Rao's debut directorial baby, despite the not so encouraging reviews. For me, the one hour and forty minutes was spent well, enwrapped in a poetic meaningfulness. What could be more rewarding than watching four real people, made of the same blood and flesh as mine, battling the whims of a big bad world in search of a life? And not once did it feel like I was there for Aamir Khan. Not this time.

Yasmin, in her quest for happiness, introduces us to Bombay - the crowd; the incessant rains; the fast paced individualistic life; and finally the sea, that omniscient secret-keeper. In an eloquent narrative shift, these regular details of the city blend in and get lost in Yasmin's existential angst. Trapped in a lonely and loveless marriage, her only way of escape from reality are the videos that she records as letters for her kid brother.
Arun, an upscale artist who takes up Yasmin's old flat, discovers her video letters and some rusty keepsakes in a dusty corner of an almirah. Curious, he begins watching these videos with a regularity that can be compared to one's cup of morning tea. Divorced and reclusive, her naivety unhinges him in a haunting way, so much so that he wears her trinkets as one would wear one's faith. He is drawn into Yasmin's little world and begins emptying her essence onto his canvas in colours of hope. It is only when he watches her last video, a suicide letter, he is jolted out of the reverie.

Shai, an investment banker from New York stumbles her way into Bombay for some soul searching through her camera lens. She meets Arun at one of his exhibitions which culminates in an unexpected impulsive night. Time passes but Shai is unable to forget the moment and longs for the enigmatic artist. In such desperate times, she turns to Munna, the shy dhobi who aspires to become an actor. Together, they explore the city - he as her guide and she as his portfolio photographer.
Munna gradually falls in love with his Amriki mem, although he knows of her fixation with Arun. Worse, he knows the improbability of his own dreams. Besides the matters of heart, his closest friend, the only sense of family he has ever known, is murdered in a gang war which leaves him disillusioned with the "big city". He realises Bombay, with all its money and glamour, is heartless. Only lifeless skyscrapers can thrive in its cold bosom. Surely, this is not the place for fragile human hopes.

Dhobi Ghat is an experience, a myriad of emotions, a lyrical portrait of reality. How far can one push oneself for that tiny flickering ray of happiness? It tries to answer this one question that has been throbbing inside every man's heart and mind. And it will continue to do so forever.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just once

Pull down the fence
"It wasn't only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth, that other people are as real as you."
~ Ian McEwan, Atonement

Once, just once walk out of the confines of your narrow thoughts and you'll see how big-hearted the world is, its people are. It is a lovely place to be, this earth. Made of love, meant for love. Let not your little games scar its childlike sinlessness.

Squeeze your toes into someone's shoes. Feel every pinch, understand every bite, talk to every sore. Ask why they are there, how they were born. Others get hurt too, you know.

Do a little jig in the rain. Let your rigid pretensions run down and be one with the humble wet earth. Shove your twisted head out of that dark clammy cocoon. Breathe. Listen. Feel.

There is a truth of much more consequence and character than blood. Humanity. Everyone can't be bad. Or wrong. Cross that barbed fence of your suspicions, strip down your prejudices.

When it is so simple and so much more fun to be single-faced, why complicate your existence with two faces???

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Confessions of a pukka Virgo

This is me. Well, almost!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Musings of a snow lover

When the trees stand fearless with their stoic naked bodies and the furry friends rest in their snug little homes you know winter has arrived. On soft baby paws marches in the snow,
that magical time of the year, that untamed high of the spirits. Like every first that we cling to so dearly and in that strange unexplained fashion, the season's first snow too feels exhilarating and quite ironically, life-giving. I am a lover of snow, of the dark desolate beauty that it ushers in on the fringes of its pristine white blanket. I am a lover of seasons and their moods. One must search for and embrace the beauty in each, although the fragrance of spring and the colours of autumn remain the undisputed winners.

Few years back when I had watched the soul-stirring Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, I had nourished a very fond dream - to romp around on a frozen water body in the true bohemian spirit of Clementine. The dream took a vivid turn when we came to live by the shores of one of the five Great Lakes, colloquially known as the Third Coast of the United States.
When we first arrived in Ohio, we were greeted by many a proud tales about Lake Erie, which by its 9,940 square miles of surface area is a mini sea in its own rights. Come winter and the lake almost freezes in chunks and is also the major cause for which the Clevelanders receive the wrath of Mother Nature - copious amounts of the "lake effect" snow.
So when the sun finally showed up with a long haggard face after days of overcast gloom, it was time to visit the frozen shores of Lake Erie. And viola! The scene before us was too surreal to believe at the first glance - the forlorn scraps of snow on the sands, the wintry look of the deserted beach and most of all the frozen still shores. The vast stretch of frozen water crystals sparkled like huge pieces of uncut diamonds when the rays of a feeble winter sun fell on them. To be Indians and to have had only heard of such miracles before, we stood there in speechless admiration marveling at nature's handiwork. And to walk gingerly on that frozen chunk of an endless lake felt like a different world altogether - something like both living and dying in that one moment.

Snowy day blues can be rather stubborn, hence I resign myself to a vista of chaste flurries that fall in gentle white fluffs by the window, with a hot cup of my signature ginger tea. During these few ruminative moments the world feels like a perfect place, sane and unprejudiced. For one who has very rarely succeeded in resisting temptation, sometimes I just grab my coat and go for a walk as the tiny flakes waver around me like thousands of unfurled dreams. Surely, heaven must be something like this. A part of me also feels like Jadis, the wicked White Queen of Narnia! Whatever, despite the plunging temperatures and the shiny red reindeer nose, I am always game for a little snow walk in my weathered boots and a warm heart.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Season's greetings

A big fat toast to another year of new hopes, new joys and new beginnings.
A very Happy New Year to all. Stay happy, stay warm!

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