Dreamer, Reviews, Uncategorized

Cafe Society – a Review.

Hollywood – a topic that’s been coming up in my life a lot, lately,thanks to all the writers living in and chronicling about Los Angeles. I dim all the lights, shut the rest of the world because I’m excited to watch this new flick (relatively) and its a Woody Allen product starring Steve Carell; Blake Lively, Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and some other great actors I discovered after watching the movie. Of course there are expectations when you sit to watch a Woody Allen. He has given me a bunch of favorites right from Annie Hall to – silence – Midnight in Paris. He supplies images of Paris, New York and Los Angeles rendered in his eccentricity and yet old-worldly charm. And I lap it up like a greedy kitten – as all dreamers do.

The starting looked promising – oh wait, have I revealed too much, already? – with Phil Stern (Carell)- a Hollywood power-broker – getting a call from his sister (who almost seems estranged because she has to remind him that she’s his sister and that Bobby is his nephew). And one fine morning Bob (Jesse) lands up in Hollywood hoping that it will provide him the break he needed from working in his father’s jewelry-making business. And there he has to wait almost a month to just see his Uncle who seems pretty reluctant in offering him any substantial position at all but agrees to introduce him to people and give him odd-jobs to keep him going. And that’s when he meets Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) and things take a sharp turn (expected) as he falls in love with her as they eat cheap mexican dinners and drive around L.A. They joke up about the stars and the hollowness of it all. Bob is soon left dry by Hollywood’s prospects for him. So he decides to join Ben – his mysterious (not to us) who starts a Nightclub in the Big Apple. He wants Vonnie to join him and asks her to marry him (in the most un-movie-ish way). Here, I’d like to mention how refreshing it was to see a man not taking the trouble to wait for the opportune moment- by which time the girl has totally lost all hope that he’ll ever ask her and ends up proposing herself out of pure exasperation – which has become a fashion. I have no qualms with the woman taking control but its just that that theme has been used too much, already) and telling the love of his life what he plans for them. The only trouble (there has to be one, right?) is that she is still not over her ex who had broken up with her because he couldn’t break his 25 year-old marriage. But poor Bob has not a clue that she is having major second thoughts because the ex is a magnetic personality and his charm is well, too charming to simply let go. As it ends out – things don’t work out and end half-hearted-ly. I can’t divulge anything more without spoiling it for you. And what happens then? Does he move to New York and start again or remains a lovelorn – fidgeting loner trying to get something meaningful done?

 

You must be wondering where Blake Lively makes an entry, right? Well, she does – even though for short bursts – her fabulous presence can never be under-stated.

So basically its Woody Allen overstating his qualms about religions and the sanctity of human beings and their decisions. He chose Hollywood and New York (his favorite city, undoubtedly) as the backdrop to portray how people are faced with to be or not to be situations and the fact that not all decisions are thought-through. You just make them with a whim and you live with it in all its entirety. Regrets ruminate in your mind till you start looking dreamy-eyed. Dreams remain dreams. Your ideals dwindle. But the lights in these big cities come back to life at dusk.

Critics applauded Kristen. Maybe I’m just a bad critic and I haven’t watched enough Stewart movies but isn’t shy-weird-confused her natural state? She plays it best every single time. Its her comfort zone. So why are we calling Jesse’s- who’s portrayal of Woody’s alter-ego is on-point- mediocre and fidgety compared to someone who is just doing what they were born as? Guess what – that’s how he was meant to act like. But the performances that really shined through were those of Bob’s Jewish family  who keep debating about all things political, religious, ethical – actually just about everything.  Jeannie Berlin (Mom) and Ken Stott – please take a bow. Right from their conversations and cursing to the they kind of stitch Bob’s life by coming in every now and then.

So, Cafe Society shows us a glimpse of the 1930’s – on two canvasses – one is the glamour of Hollywood attracting dreamers to its hollowness; golden beaches and sly embrace and New York where the life of stocks and its people are moving at a pace no one seemed to comprehend in that age. It was a time when thugs and high society mingled in glamour (wait, am I living in a deja-vu era because isn’t it happening even now?). The movie shows a beautiful contrast between the two cities and struggles of human conscience but falls short in its predictability and un-digestible pace.

Its not Woody’s best but it did have his madness in it. I know all his movies end up becoming about himself. Now, there’s a real artist who makes you stop and look.

Parting comments : Dreamy, makes you expect more but falls short on delivering a movie that can be applauded.

Reviews, Uncategorized

Suicide Squad

So you enjoy watching trigger-happy people blow up the place (for good, of course) and intense passion for nothing but being oneself? And people who live for love?

Then you’re going to love this movie. Don’t bother looking at that the star-ratings (I have never believed in them). This movie was not made for people who are hypocrites and who are looking for something artsy. Its for the hard-core, comic-loving, thrill-hungry people who cheer for Harley Quinn swinging by a pole and Deadshot firing holes into monster-heads. Its for the people who believe Joker and Harley Quinn are the real lovers and that Lois Lane and what-his-name are just a mess.

The casting was fabulous and that’s what makes this movie so strong. Of course you have grand expectations when you have Viola Davis, Will Smith and Lovely Leto. To add to it Robbie did such a good job that I can’t imagine any other face as Quinn. The surprise cookie is Cara Delevingne who really made up for her performance in Paper Towns.

I’m not giving any spoilers here but yes, the movie is fast-paced as felt by my friend Sabhari who accompanied me. And I have to agree with it but I guess that’s what keeps the rush going on. The tiniest of jokes and touchy-feely scenes came through to the audience.

This movie goes onto show that sound background work really helps create the premise for a good movie. The story-line is pretty okay but Waller really dangs the shit out of everyone. And I wish they had worked a little more on actually making us feel the Enchantress was hard to kill.

At the end of the day, I was still hooked onto my seat enjoying Twenty One Pilots’ Heathens when suddenly – there was another surprise. So yeah, hang onto your spot until the screen goes black, okay?

Go for the movie. Joker has some surprises up his sleeve. Thank me later.

 

 

Architecture, College, Uncategorized

Piya Milan Chowk

‘Bhai, PMC mein milna theeke na?’ translates into Brother, meet me at the junction where lovers meet.

And where is this PMC? Well its at the center of my college. And its like the cerebrum of all activity. Its a roundabout before the Admin block which is where all the main college-streets lead to (in some way or the other). And that’s where friends were made, watchmen slept, meetings were held, people were eyed, Girls’ Hostel Buses were parked etcetera.

We were about five thousand students belonging to more than a dozen departments. And PMC was where we’d gather. There were other places – the BBC (Basketball court), the LTC (Lawn tennis court which was actually a chewed-out clay court), Coffee-shop (which is just a tiny stall which sold instant-coffee and junk food to meet varying collegiate needs), Back-Gate (which qualifies to be an adda) and the canteen (where the ground-floor was dedicated to those who actually ate and the first-floor mostly had people who had nowhere else to go and didn’t want to run into the faculty). Oh we did have a library but it wasn’t such a common meeting place unless and until you planned to study (or sleep) in the Annex.

I wonder why I’m writing about it today. Is it because half of the people I met there (definitely not as piyas) have drifted to faraway continents or are in the process to do so? Is it because I will never forget the day my Dad and I walked into the College (well, the never-ending infinity road starting from the main-gate directly leads you to …no reward for guessing…the PMC) and I had finally realised that my twelve years of education led me to this place. Ah, that kid then. Or maybe the pictures clicked there on various ethnic days will never be clicked again (or found – I’m sure I’ve lost most of them in miscellaneous drives), the mosquito-filled evenings we’ve spent waiting for the second bus to pick us up or the fountain that worked only once in a blue moon with its colorful lights. I’m sure most people graduated even without seeing it in all its glory due to its rare usage. Or perhaps I yearn to walk under the ever-spreading canopy of the Umbrella Thorn Trees (at least that’s what I called them and fooled my friends for four long years).

I’ll never meet Aryan in his baggy clothes waiting to meet us whenever he dropped by college. I’ll never see the cute-guys (like one out of five) play basket-ball in the court across the road. I’ll never walk by the juniors waiting for the bus with my troupe of cackling monkey-friends who were probably laughing at some seriously retard joke I must have cracked. I’ll never see Komi fly his balsa wood planes with his team there. I’ll never get to sit there with my friends as we’d see daylight turn to dusk as we’d wait for something else. I’ll never ask the auto-wallah to take a left from PMC to reach my departments, I’ll never run by it with arms-full of sheets with my classmates and I’ll probably never stand in a sari with my two best friends, Rhea and Mouli, clicking our last picture together before our final speeches on behalf of our departments. Ah PMC did hold a lot of meaning in its own way. I will never know why it was named so but I think I’ll never forget the happiness it brought on my face when my friends and I would decide to meet up there to hatch some new craziness after college.

Arrividerci SIT and its survivors.

 

 

Art, Uncategorized

Theatre : the stint

I still remember sitting in the balcony seat with Mom as we saw Shreekumar Varma Sir’s play : Ganga at Rishikesh being performed by artists from Stray Factory in the Hindu Theatre Fest. Madras Players performed, too. At that time, it was another world. Even while riding out of the venue I remember being completely taken by the lights, the laughter, the excitement and the people. It was so much more than cinema – and yet it works on you the same way. Only, its so much more real and absorbing, in the sense that at a certain point the change-overs begin to matter less – the opinions you form and performers keep you riveted or well, looking around, instead.

At college, I worked with a small yet very enthusiastic team of actors – whenever we got time, with roughly-edited plays; depending more on improv than real emotions, subtle details and strong scripts. We performed to thoroughly entertain the rest of the college – with cheap props and makeshift sets. Nobody had the upper-hand, the director was usually the script-writer who may or may not have understoodd his/her own play, completely. Casting was based on availability and the capacity to bunk extra classes that were held after 5:30pm. Performances only happened alongside college fests, the odd culturals in another campus or as an opener to an event. Practices led into flat-made dinners and night-outs intended to work on scripts usually turned into a lot of laughter and tom-foolery. We would collect a hundred bucks each to buy the odd prop or paint – we even had an account and a manager of it. There was one designated person (usually a bright child with a good pointer) who would be in-charge of getting the Principal’s signature in permission letters. Well, now that college is done, I can tell you the story of how Eason, my senior and the Captain of our troupe – Black Pearl (what did you expect?) – sneaked in my name in the medical register to get me attendance. Well I’m sure the resident doc found out because the name had no serial number and was scribbled above the margin but he let me go, anyway. That was for Survey and Leveling, I guess. I hope you don’t go tell on me, now.

But after college, things changed (in the past month, that is, not some major past) – and I got the opportunity to play the part of Julie in The Blind Date at the Short & Sweet Festival – South India Chapter. I knew about S&S before – I’d seen Stray Factory perform in the East and win accolades. I knew this was something very different. Well things got real the day we (the cast and the director, Charan Saravana) met at Alliance Francaise which was also the venue of the shows.

Introducing the cast:

I played Julie, yes. And she had a Grandmother : J.J who Sharada played (who is a fellow blogger who writes poetry, erotica and is an outgoing woman who is currently writing her next script, perhaps) and a date, Dave played by Prakash who is also an actor in Tamil Cinema and you should see him when he speaks about how much he likes acting. My favourite character though is : The Waiter (Sravanth – a mime-artist and fabulous performe who is equally funny, if not more, in real life) who started out to be a witty American but then transformed into a Mexican and then an Indian (Tamil, to be more precise) immigrant who fakes a Mexican Accent.

Practices lasted weeks together and I’d drive to the venue which is a nice spot under bel and mango trees and has so many other artists practicing and frolicking about that you’ll never spend a dull moment there. Eating at the bajji stall and the nearby sweet-shop – practicing lines, putting up with tantrums, being difficult, eating up lines, cracking unbearably stupid jokes (mokkai or blade jokes), talking in my incomprehensible Tamil and well, just spending time with a bunch of dreamers and performers is what I did until the show week arrived.

We had two technical rehearsals and then it all happened:

Ten plays- with mixed genres and actors coming from all backgrounds and walks of life – some hoping to compete and some, like us, just wanting to be a part of the theatre festival. I met so many people and interesting is an understatement.

Back-stage is where all the drama really happens with the backstage staff comprising of Char-less and his boys trying to find props on time and keeping actors from smoking in the toilet and maintaining decorum. Well, what do you expect if you put three dozen performers in a small, dark room along with adrenaline and make-up? But it was in no way horrible – it was pure fun. Every person was upto something, if not unusual, then funny. So much comedy. From props getting lost to lights being turned off when actors put make-up to people losing their costumes to actors going missing a minute before their play! Its a party in there.

The silent minutes in the small ante-room next to the stage which is the actor’s entry spot – where you await your turn to perform. You can see the other play from the tiny window. You can hear the audience and yet you’re not out there. The lights haven’t caught you . Do I remember my lines? Will he remember what to do when the cue is right? Will the spotlight light up at the right moment? Will the audience get our jokes? Will we exceed the 10  minute limit? And the the stage goes dark and the blue lights turn on – your props are being set and the audience knows you’re next. And then your fellow actors go out there and do their part while you await your entry cue : and at that precise moment you enter – pretending to be unaware of the two-hundred odd pair of eyes watching you and listening to your every breath. The show goes on – you play your part. The light is so bright that all you see before you are silhouettes but you play your part. And you’re exhilarated when the audience responds to your performance – they did get the joke! That feeling on-stage is a big responsibility –  towards the time you’ve spent gearing up for this, the people you play a part with and those who have come to honor your effort. And then the lights go off and you walk back to the ante-room where you wish luck to the other performers hidden in the dark – and escape into the green-room which is bustling with silent activity and you see smiles. A quick exchange of comments and then you go downstairs for the scrumptious chocolate cake and lemon tea at the canteen. I think I also had a keech and chicken-rolls (if that’s how you spell it) one day.

I met a lot of people – some great performers, some good-nature’d folk and I had some friends come over to watch my play and that felt quite nice – them seeing another side of me. The last day, I just absorbed all that energy and looked at all those smiles before I left with my Mum who watched all of my shows and probably knows every play by-heart.

I may or may not do theatre again but this chapter in my life has already been written.

Arrividerci.

 

 

College, Dreamer, Uncategorized

I’m in Chennai

Enslaved by internet speed and storage-space in mobile phones and devices such. That’s what life has come to. Office got over a while ago but here I am waiting for In Which Annie Gives… to buffer. Yes, that’s what its come to.

So, I thought I’ll visit the space I’ve been meaning to but not getting time (mind frame, actually) to attend to. There’s 8 hours of office and two hours of travel along with 7 hours of sleep. To add to it I joined a short play with well-meaning friends some of whom are serious thespians and actors. I’m just learning, really – experiencing, rather. I was always drawn to the theatre- well, now I’ll really get to know if I make the cut or whether theatre makes the cut for me.

Well if you happen to be in Chennai (or live here) – come catch us live at 7pm  (be there on time because we perform first) – Alliance Francaise, Nungambakkam. Its made with love, really – the other kind, you know. It has a lot of laughter and goof-ups, bajjis and lemon tea behind this play being performed. For me, maybe because of the people I’ve been around with – architects and writers (of sorts) – the Process is always more meaningful than the end. Well that’s what I believe in, for now, because I haven’t really completed anything of importance. Perhaps if I ever get a project (writing, art, audio or whatever) done – I’ll tell you.

Damn, the internet is slow. I’m still here. The office is almost empty.

Well, I hope to see you at the play should you drop by – do say hi. And, I miss my leisurely days, really. And I long  to go back to my hostel-mates and do the things we used to do. I miss my single-bed and the best room-mate, ever who loves cats, books and strangeness alike. We could exist parallel-y, peacefully and interact at a comfortable wavelength without any awkwardness and in these times, that a real miracle, you know. If you happen to read this : I miss you Gurangutan and all our erratic, crazy and lovely times. Making videos, playing with Peter, walking walking walking, eating together, watching favorite movies. You will be my best friend forever – without definition. I hope we stay in touch like our mothers and their best friend in college did. I hope to come there and meet your cats and little brother – go with you to all the places you mentioned. Someday. I have another set of special friends apart from my classmates – the Chicchar Gang. No, I will not translate. Its best left like that. They hailed from Meghalaya, Ranchi and Jamshedpur. And they were my closest friends by the end. I can’t even start telling you our stories. Because, well, not all of them are mine to tell.

Ah, well, Dad inquired why I’m still in office. And its getting dark outside. I must leave now and leave you with patchwork-memories.

 

Quote-worthy

Keyhole

Life is as infinitely great and profound as the immensity of the stars above us. One can only look at it through the narrow keyhole of one’s personal existence. But through it one perceives more than one can see. So above all one must keep the keyhole clean.

Kafka

Found this quote in Sakshi Nanda’s most recent post : Ordinary. Extraordinary! 

Poetry

Unstrapping

573d7f321558a03edfa8ecc6b7834abc

Deserving affection is

now a thing of the past.

What ties we make,

for long, don’t last.

Its not because we cannot

Love to our heart’s content.

Its not that I’ve reached

an exhaustion in feeling.

Its the prejudice and pride

the malice in our mind.

Its the worry of a future

That is incomprehensible.

Its the voices of the people

whom you’ve been allowing

to have a say or at least have an 

opinion, in your life.

 

Its the suffocation of distance.

The pangs of jealousy

The fading of the novelty

that alas, never lasts.

Its the stories of the past

of crisis and betrayal

that keep you from 

taking the leap of trust.

I don’t blame myself 

for feeling the need for

unstrapping Myself from Us

because it was holding me back.

I knew I couldn’t give back

what I’d taken from you:

the reassurance, the trust and 

the implicit love (that I never trusted)

For I know, if both the ends

of the bridges don’t meet

then the two of us

are headed for a fall.

I never stop hoping

for a zesty romance

but it doesn’t have to be a 

person, necessarily, it can

 be a Passion or a Chance.