Saturday, December 29, 2012


The scent of your skin
The texture of that fabric
The site of those flowers
The fragrance of those words
A beautiful history
The prose of your arms
The poetry of your eyes
The expansion of those moments
That stillness of silence
I hope
You remember
The kiss that slaughtered us
The breath that glued us
I hope
You still treasure
The rose I sent you
And the ink we spilled over
The words still dance
Around My feet
The bulbs even dazzle
About my side
The chocolate beans
The broken bangle
And the bitten skin
The healing glance
The gentle whisper
And the goodbye tears
Are locked inside
Stamped sealed
Stacked in a box
That Beatles record
You brought me once
Still stuck at
Where we left
Creaks sometimes
To play again
The damp of those several
Rusts plastered on the walls
The sobs
And cries
Resound enmeshed in air
The windowpane you
Loved to touch
Cracked some days before
The blue pencil
The sketch of the boy
You made on wood
Is learning to talk
It even complaints
Since you forgot to give
It the hands
The lipstick
The rubber band
The long muffler
You brought from
Tibetan old lady
With a wrinkled face
Is still wrapped
Around the teddy
The book of stories
The coffee mug
The butts of cigarettes
You smoked that day
I went inside and smoked
Them again
They still taste like your lips
Finally I could you kiss again
The day we made love
We both became both
You can go away
And manage not to answer
The question I asked you
You don’t need to come
And respond the way people do
I still hold you
You are there
I can feel you
Touch you
Hold you
Love the way I have
Always loved you…

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Taking the discussion further, Mani Kaul was a filmmaker who tried to oppose each and every structure of filmmaking through his unique methodology. Even the structures which are extremely basic to the filmmaking process were brusquely shattered by him. From the best to the worst of filmmakers of world, everybody consider script to be the backbone of a film. And every effort is made to follow the script in detail. Recently, Indian filmmakers have also started giving too much importance to the script which is something new to Indian cinema. Masters like Raj Kumar Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Amir Khan, Vishal Bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap, and Dibaker Banerjee spend majority of time in writing the script as opposed to the actual filmmaking process. Undoubtedly, this has changed the way our films look nowadays than they used to ten years ago. This has also contributed to the improved standing of Indian cinema internationally as well as in film festivals. Even the film schools in our country have started giving a lot of stress on teaching script writing to the students in their courses. The amount of justice done to the script while making a film actually decides the quality of final product. When Mani Kaul had planned his first full length feature film ‘Uski Roti’ based on Mohan Rakesh’s short story, he wrote a twenty five page draft of the script along with the author. Mohan Rakesh wrote the dialogues mainly, besides working on rest of the script and Kaul had explained what and how the things were to be done. But when Kaul used to reach the location, he always worked according to his own way. The way Rakesh had planned the script used to change completely on the set. Finally when the film was done, there was very little from the script which actually became a part of the creation. According to Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr who works with DNA, Mani Kaul did not mean to convey the intent and tone of Mohan Rakesh's story, which was more about the emptiness of rural life. He admitted that earlier he used to believe whatever is there in the script must be incorporated in film also. But in later years his perception and method altered completely. This lead to difficulty in finding sponsors for the films. No sponsor was ready to invest in a film without a script. He always believed in innovating rather following the order of script religiously. Kaul considered it a method of bringing polychromatism (anekta) in a creative product. Recently, Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra starrer ‘Barfi’ became an instant worldwide success. The maker of the movie, Anurag Basu explained in an interview that original script of movie was written in about ten pages. Rest of the movie was made through innovation on location. The actors used to arrive on the sets completely oblivious of the scene they were going to shoot and the director used to come and innovate the entire scene along with them. This is how the film finally evolved from a rough draft to a masterpiece. 

Kaul made a virtually plot-less cinema during his career. There was a very little almost non-existent story in his movies. On asking how his technique was different from other filmmakers, Kaul expressed that during the process of editing, his shot used to be very mobile throughout the film. Since there was no big story inside the shot, no concrete context and no special place where the shot must be placed, it could be easily taken anywhere. Due to the inherent mobility and impartiality, one shot could be easily placed in three four different places. Since there was no strict serial number of the scenes as is usually the case in most of the movies, the same shot could be taken to scene no 3 and scene no 9 at the same time. He was accustomed in taking the shot in such a way that rather than being special it could be mobile and at the same time it was not very regular also. The shot taken in some context could be used in some other context while editing. For him shot was primary and the context (sandarbh) was secondary. This juxtaposition of shot with the context is a chance factor or sanyog according to Kaul. This was possible because he worked in a manner which could allow randomness to enter the structure without much hassle. He was a one filmmaker who not only understood Mahabharata but also tried to interpret it through action. His cinema demonstrated the magic and exceptionality of Mahabharata which is not only an epic but also a way of living in itself. The mobile shot in his cinema could be interpreted to be a representation of Krishna who appears in the epic at different times, completely dispossessed from the bondage of time and space. Similarly this time-space concept has been violated many a times in Mahabharata. Sanjay, an advisor and charioteer to Dhritarashtra, blessed with gift of seeing events at a distance granted by sage Vyasa, narrates to Dhritarashtra the action in the climactic battle of Kurukshetra, which includes Bhagavad Gita also.  He is actually violating the concept of time and space here. Mahabharata illustrates that consciousness can be present at more than one place at the same time. Mani Kaul was fortunate to comprehend this reality very early in his life so he made it a part of his creative and personal journey also. 

The second structure which is considered very significant to a film is the character (kirdar). Those actors are usually chosen who can play that particular character and even if they can’t, good actors prepare themselves to suit the role. Some lose their weight, some gain extra, some undergo rigorous training sessions, some go for speech therapies and some even opt for method acting. The aim is to fit into the sleeves of character. Meryl Streep, a renowned American actress is well known for her ability to imitate and master foreign and domestic accents. In The Iron Lady, she reproduced the vocal style of Margaret Thatcher, from the time before she became Britain's Prime Minister, and after she had taken elocution lessons to change her pitch, pronunciation and delivery. Streep believes in the dictum, ‘How could I play that part and talk like me?’ Christian Bale starved himself for over four months and lost almost 60 pounds to play the role of a man suffering from chronic insomnia in a psychological thriller ‘The Machinist’. According to Kaul there is a context (sandarbh) to everything. Whatever we do and whatever we are, is in relation to some context. Otherwise there is no meaning to it. When an actor says, “come here”, then is it the character who is saying this or is it the actor himself? A character is simply a context, nothing more and an actor is just representing that context. He cannot become the character. Secondly while shooting, if the actor is simply portraying the character, then the shot would have greater mobility. But if it’s otherwise, then the scene would have a definite position while editing and couldn’t be placed anywhere else because the scene assumes a different form when the character is strictly enacted. Kaul says that when an actor is performing, he is expressing his nature (swabhav). And it would be great if he stays close to his real nature. Most of the times, an actor struggles to become the character by parting away from his real self. An actor playing the same character at different times if liberated from the actor-character bondage would be able to express it more easily. This would end the concept of typed casting also. He further elucidates that Peter Brooks, an English theatre and film director, while making the stage adaptation of Mahabharata did cast those actors who had no resemblance to the physical personality of characters. He selected a very thin lean man in the role of ‘Bheema’ who actually was very tall and muscular. Kaul says that Bheema is a nature which can be there in anybody. One need not be physically huge to play Bheema. Therefore Kaul always refuted the concept of character because it negates the possibility of polychromatism (anekta). 

Mani Kaul believed that cinema is not a hundred page script, nor it is a medium to say stories or a stage for performing actors. Cinema according to Kaul is a unique interplay of image and sound which actually should create a magic. Cinema is a beautiful canvass on which we try to paint the reality of life. But most of the times, it has been browbeaten as a medium to bear the burden of fiction. More than ninety percent of cinema till date has been fiction and nothing more. Only a small fraction of it has managed to be something beyond. Cinema of Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Godard, Luis Buñuel, Robert Bresson, Tarkovsky, Kieslowski, Mani Kaul, Kumar Shahani, Béla Tarr was a colossal departure from the fictional enslavement which majority of cinema is subjected to. Their aim was to narrate the story through images and sound. These nonconformist filmmakers endeavored to create a multi-layered, multi-dimensional, polychromatic visual impression, which at times even trespass the confines of time and space. Kaul used human face as a landscape and music as a vehicle to transport the emotions of character. Fiction as my brother, Prof Sunil comments is the worst addiction. Fiction after a certain point of time is a dead weight which most of us carry throughout our lives. It is a ‘mayajal’, which doesn’t liberate us from the illusion of body and mind. Once caught, we are carried deeper and deeper without even realizing the futility of whole trap. The worthlessness of this obsession would be realized only in a moment of darshan. But since the fixation with order and morality is so strong, we are not able to appreciate this truth. We are always stuck up in our individual fights. Similarly, a modern man is always trying to represent somebody else. He is always performing the role of some other person (kirdar). The futility of context is never ever realized. In this process he forgets his real self. He keeps on moving away from himself until a point is reached where his true self gets completely eradicated. The real self gets substituted by some fake mysterious identity. The grooming and conditioning of the society facilitate to reinforce this identity even more. Gradually an ego is created which disguises itself as our true self. In Michael Winterbottom’s latest work ‘Trishna’, the protagonist of the movie Jay (a wealthy young businessman) asks Trishna (a waitress and mistress to Jay), that in Kamasutra sex is permitted with only three women – a single woman, maid and prostitute, then who real Trishna is out of these three. Torn by the question and inability to identify her true self, she brutally murders the man. A woman though plays different roles in her daily life, needs to apprehend that she is a pure, unscathed and all pervasive reality, a conscious being first, then anybody’s wife or mistress. Tattered inside the jungle of spurious egos and identities, a modern woman needs to find herself. An ego is nothing but a veil which masks the true self with glitter and glamor. True self is hidden somewhere beneath the pile of these fake egos and identities. It would be identified only if we try and move a bit from our positions. We need to realize how much damage has been inflicted upon us in this pointless war. The real self is still lying intact in this chaos. We just need to liberate it from ‘kirdar’.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


The Joker: Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan". But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds! Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It's fair!
                                                 – Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight’

The battle between order and disorder is not a last night affair. It has been going over for centuries and would continue for many more until the cause is identified and cured of the illness. This forum indeed, is too small for this battle and I am so incapable of handling the issue all by myself. Any effort made would just be a small, may be a futile attempt and nothing more. I never opted to be a participant but it was destined to happen. I am really getting a morbid feeling that I have touched a big fat monster. But since, I have dragged myself into it, so I am ready for all the flak. 

There were a couple of issues and places in the last post which need a further clarification. Since this conflict is already big, it should not be complicated anymore and all efforts must be made to make the things a little simpler. Order when we say, is a structure which has been erected over centuries and evaluated by all existing parameters. Basically it is a time tested formula which just cannot fail and scatter given the trickiest of situations. Order has been a result of sweat and toil exerted by the elite, intellectual section of society. It is an outcome of a huge sacrifice of limb and life made by the proletariat class over a long period of time. It is an institution which has been approved by the law abiding, law enforcing, and law establishing community responsible for safeguarding the moral code of society. Moreover, it is stamped by the administration of religion and culture and has been passed on tenderly from one generation to another. It is a part of our rich glorious heritage which everybody is so strikingly proud of. So ‘order’ is basically a nicely garnished and aesthetically served, thickly priced pudding of a resplendent luncheonette. But we want to know if it’s sumptuously delicious too. 

A disorder on the other hand is an evil ghost which nobody wants to encounter. It’s a ‘shaitan’ who just cannot be permitted to enter at any bargain. It’s an unplanned, random event which can create chaos in a system. It’s an anarchy which would not let peace and harmony establish anywhere because it is fundamentally a violent, brutal and vindictive axiom. 
When we talk about the clash between order and disorder, some destruction is bound to happen. But it is not destruction in totality. It’s a unique combination of creation and destruction. The old dies and new happens. As stated earlier also, Mani Kaul makes it clear that essentially there are two possibilities. When a disorder drops into an order either the disorder would create mayhem everywhere or it would itself get transformed into an order. There is a third possibility too which can be seen in Tarkovsky’s works like ‘Mirror’ and ‘Solaris’ where nothing gets transformed. Both order and disorder stay together, uninhibitedly related to each other and create an experience (anubhav). There is a space for both sacred and profane in Tarkovsky’s earlier works. Disorder as per Kaul shouldn’t be perceived through any conventional definition and experience. According to him, it’s actually a possibility, an accident, a chance (sanyog) which can lead to experience (anubhav). An experience is basically interplay of jagrata, swapan and sushupti. And for the totality of that experience, for the enjoyable interplay of these three human states, randomness should be allowed to enter the structure. All divisions in that case, for the sake of a beautiful experience, moral-immoral, right-wrong, sacred-profane, order-disorder, and structure-anarchy are not required for a moment. They can be dropped off and left to the destiny. Mani Kaul says that he himself used to believe in the preservation of order during the first year of film school. Until he had not met Ritwick Ghatak, he used to worship the realistic framework of Satyajit Ray. But when he got introduced to the cinema of Robert Bresson (a French filmmaker), his perception changed completely. Bresson used to believe that accident (randomness) is the only hope. He used to retake the same shot fifty times. Sometimes, only one shot a day. When everything used to proceed according to the plan, he always preferred to stop and not move ahead till the accident used to happen. Until and unless the structure was broken, he never Okayed the shot. Kaul admitted that earlier, he used to control a lot. But in later years while making ‘Nazar’, ‘Idiot’, like Bresson, he also left control of the events around him. And surprisingly, even after parting himself from the control, everything used to fuse perfectly, as if it has been cautiously planned.

The disorder when I try to question myself is a fear of unknown, fear of death which has been molded into a giant in kalyug. It is imagined as a narrow alley which would lead us to dungeon. The matrix of materialism blinds us from reality. The contemplation and realization of death is an enemy of materialism. Materialism makes survivalism the only necessary battle to be won in lifetime. And even if love and happiness are to be sacrificed, it should be acceptable. In order to meet the demands, it makes death a rival. It spins the web thread by thread until the entire trap is ready to be spread. A man hassles the whole life to earn his bread and butter. And his economic standing remains much the same despite a better income and better resources. The pauper remains a pauper throughout. A middle class man always remains in the middle only. The aristocracy enjoys the best and keeps on aiming for more and more. Everybody remains caught in the thought and thirst of money only. Further, order is made necessary to be followed for the survival of materialism. A code of morality is created to deal with crimes of materialism. Gradually, the morality itself turns into an impenetrable structure. The enclosure of materialism which has been engineered brick by brick over years doesn’t allow the thought of death to enter the structure. The meditation of death is deliberately and astutely made impossible. Since one never meditates, darshan never happens. The entire process becomes a vicious circle. One leads to another and the chain continues. It’s only death, chaos, randomness which can break the chain and guide us to new hope (aasha). The deliberation of death can lead to creative transformation and anubhav.

The conflict between order and disorder is not simple as it may appear in words. What should be done and how much should be done remain a matter of concern. If the disorder is left free, it would be a state of total lawlessness. According to Mani Kaul, total disorder is as ignoble and petty as total order. Basically a negative vow, pratigya. A balance is required between the two, otherwise darshan won’t happen. This balance would lead to anubhav, an interplay in which not only the three states would exist together but also one would lead to third and vice versa. Jagrata could be taken to sushupti directly and also otherwise. The balance between order and disorder would make this conversion possible and practical. While explaining to Mita Vashisht (actress) on the first day of shooting of ‘Siddheshwari’, Kaul asks her, what a frame according to her is. For instance if there is a frame of an empty wall with a girl sitting below at one corner, and suddenly she lifts her hand slowly and slowly upwards, then what would happen to the rest of the dead space? Kaul explains that the girl is jagrata, the dead space is sushupti and the movement of her hand is swapan. The dead unconscious space becomes conscious when the swapan enters the frame. Basically a cinematic frame is a beautiful interplay of three states. Similarly frame of life should also be an aesthetic coaction of these three, rather than a dull and wrinkled lonesome one.
This is an issue of concern in the best of world cinema today. Despite best of the production values, script writers and technicians, it follows a very linear approach. The polychromatism, the layered framework is missing on the whole. The ‘New extremism’ or the ‘New Wave’ cinema of the west is accentuating savage violence and sexual ugliness. Mentioning about some of these movies like Claire Denis' Trouble Every Day (2001), Patrice Chéreau's Intimacy (2001), Bertrand Bonello's The Pornographer (2001), Marina de Van's In My Skin (2002), Leos Carax's Pola X (1999), Philippe Grandrieux's Sombre (1998) and La vie nouvelle (2002), Jean-Claude Brisseau's Secret Things (2002), Jacques Nolot's La Chatte à deux têtes (2002), Virginie Despentes, Coralie Trinh Thi's Baise-moi (2000), Alexandre Aja's Haute tension (2003), Christophe Honoré's Ma mère (2004) and the cinema of Cronenberg, Gasper Noe, and Catherine Breillat, Tim Palmer who is an Associate Professor in film studies describes them as a ‘cinema of the body’. There is a total of lack of humanity and darshan in the best of world cinema today. These filmmakers are able to picture the collapse of defunct structures but they are not able to visualize any alternative methods of liberation and hope which would rescue the humanity from this stage of violence and sexual perversion.

This is an age where many new things are happening together. The old structures are falling apart. There is a disharmony is the existing establishments. Everybody needs some space. The old must give way to new. The hope needs to come from within. Nobody would emerge with a torch in hand to show us the way. The concern needs to be emphasized. The obsession with order and morality needs to be dropped. We need to find a meditation zone in our vicinity where the issues can be contemplated upon. Otherwise, the war (Mahabharata) is inevitable and huge destruction is waiting ahead.  

At the end of the post I would like to ask people who might read my blog someday, do I wish to proclaim myself as an agent of chaos by emphasizing the need of disorder? Is it what I intend to do so? Am I somebody who doesn’t like peace and order? Am I an atheist, an anti-god who wants to dethrone good with bad? Am I a twisted pervert who has an inclination and predilection for serial killers, flesh and cadavers? Or am I just somebody with gift of the gab who would blabber and die out someday of my self-righteousness? Or am I somebody who wants everyone to stop, think and introspect that have we made right choices and can we just move a bit from the positions we have taken for so long? Who am I?