Chasing Rabbits

A place for my thoughts, important and unimportant. Just indulging myself. For my news blog, visit: http://bit.ly/1Xr1tgM

On Whitewashing

I don’t see why people get their panties in a twist whenever a cinematic adaptation of any novel, anime or TV series is announced, where the makers of the novel do not want to stick with the “right” race or colour of a particular character or characters.

The context being a recent Indiewire article titled ‘Full Metal Alchemist: Iconic Anime Getting A Big Screen Adaptation, With No Whitewashing‘. The writers refer to the discontent of the fans at the “whitewashing” of the Ghost in the Shell movie and Tilda Swinton’s character in the upcoming Doctor Strange movie, that’s supposed to be Tibetian.

Now here’s the thing!

It’s a work of FICTION. The filmmaker has every right to make his own directorial choices, the way he sees fit, and if he decides that, say, an Asian character from a comic book will be white in his movie, because of creative reasons, or most likely because of market considerations, then well and good. For instance, if you are making GITS in Hollywood (US being the domestic market), it makes sense for the actors to be Anglo-American because 1. 78% of America is white. and 2. You need to have saleable, recognizable stars who can cut across markets worldwide, like Scarlett Johansson.

However, strangely enough, people do not seem to have a problem when white characters (James Bond) or characters (who have for long been presumed to be white, such as Hermione) are played by or are announced to be played by Black or Hispanic or any non-white actor. They look at it as Hollywood being inclusive. Okay, sure, Hollywood has to be inclusive — but is the only way to go about it is give off characters meant for white actors to non-white actors? Now, wait. I just said that if it’s a work of fiction, anything goes. By that logic, everyone has the right to play anything as long the casting choice is in spirit of the character in context of the director’s larger vision.

The thing is why are people so selective when outraging about “whitewashing” specifically and turning a blind eye and welcoming casting decisions like Idris Elba playing Roland Deschain in the Dark Tower adaptation (a terrific choice, by the way) or being all-welcoming to the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters (a totally unnecessary SJW-pleasing move)? Then we go into larger questions of “Is it a crime to be white?” and “white privilege”, topics too vast and beyond the scope of what I am trying to say here, which is that, filmmakers have complete freedom to do whatever they want with the source material and the only obligation that they have at the end of the day is to make a kickass movie…end of story.

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Thoughts #2 On fear and loathing in Writing.

I have serious doubts about my capability as a journalist. I know for a fact that I’m not equipped and well-versed in all the skills and tools needed to be a competent 21st century, digital age journalist. I have to keep reminding myself that my competition is not the people I work with or will go on to work with in the future. I have to be up-to-date with the latest in news production technology and that is no easy feat. Every time I look at a good story done by a senior ACJ-alumni or by someone who’s in his late twenties, I start getting doubts about my caliber. Will I be able to write something like that? Can I produce such a detailed, engrossing multimedia story?

I think it is of paramount importance to know exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are, especially your weaknesses, and the sense and grit to not get bogged down by your shortcomings. One should always try to identify exactly what the problems are and then work on them.

For example, every time, I begin typing a sentence, I’m worried that I’m going to produce a grammatically incorrect sentence. No, my grammar is not strong —  this is something I know. Even though, I have mostly been decent with my class assignments and my writing has been appreciated by my professors, I know the honest truth about myself — I suck. I suck in grammar. The question here is where do you set your standards. I read somewhere, in some ‘Top 10 Writers Tips’-like article that if nothing is coming off the pen when you start to write, then you are NOT a writer, because a true writer will always find something to write. Speaking for myself, I don’t think there has been an instant where I have not been able to write anything at all but more often than not, every once in a while, I get stuck while constructing a sentence. I don’t know how common this is with the best of writers in the world but I’m guessing not that common. To reach there, to reach that level of confidence and proficiency needs a lot of hard work, tenacity and patience.

One of my other big weaknesses is ‘editing’.

In J-School, in the first term, we were trained in editing raw news copy. An excellent news-editor during his time, Raghunathan, who had worked in The Hindu for years was our teacher. He was a brilliant teacher and during that term, I was a little better than mediocre in class assignments.

However, when second term came, our respective stream classes began. I was a New Media (Digital Media) student so I did not have Raghunathan as a teacher anymore. He was a Print Stream professor. With New Media’s singular focus on visual and interactive storytelling, where the “experience” is more important than the qualitative density of the text, our collective English writing skills deteriorated. New Media professors were good, definitely good, but they did not worry too much about our English writing. We did not have regular news-copy editing exercises in second and third time, like we used to have in first term, when all the streams would’ve common classes. At such, the Print students, in my opinion, are far ahead in the market than the average New Media student, when it comes to English writing and news editing. Individual talent notwithstanding, the average Print student is a better writer than the New Media student. Conversely, the average New Media student is more skilled in new media storytelling tools than the average Print student. So, one would say that the game is evenly balanced. But not, really.

There is a vast difference between learning to use an app and mastering a craft for which there is no shortcut. With an app, once you know the head and tail of it, all you need to do is put in data, and off the other end will come out info-graphics, charts, maps, and whatnot. When it comes to writing flawless news copy, or forget news copy, just plain, good ol’ English, you need practice. You need schooling. You need to get your ass handed to you when you make a mistake, brutally—something that used to happen with Print students—so that you don’t make that mistake again. You need hard fucking work!

So, for a New Media student, whose interest, and maybe even strength, lies in old-fashioned text-based journalism as against interactive new-media storytelling…such as myself…it is going to be a tough ride in the news business for him if he has to become a news writer worth his salt. I have no teacher now. My teacher is going to be the innumerable mistakes that I shall make in the newsroom while sub-editing. What scares me the most is that I’m joining a digital newsroom and if even there, there’s no one as good as Raghunathan to take my case whenever I fuck up, well…

Honestly speaking, I don’t know why good writing and visual storytelling have to be mutually exclusive. I think this notion goes back to Devadas Rajaram, one of our New Media professors.

Rajaram is an interesting cat. As HoD of New Media, he had revolutionized the stream with his cutting-edge ideas and his enthusiasm for the latest in storytelling technology. He was, in my opinion, a visionary and had he stayed in the college after first term, we—the New Media students—would have all benefited and we would, at least, I would perhaps be a little more confident today with my quality as a journalist. Rajaram was seen as radical by some, mad by some, and absolutely worthless by some, and the last “some” allegedly included a few professors of my college. Hearsay was that one of the reasons for him leaving was his animosity with a few Print professors. I hope that this animosity was entirely ideology-based and it is sad from a student’s point-of-view to think that talented people would secretly bicker among themselves. Anyway, I am digressing. One of the things Rajaram would regularly say with massive confidence was that “People have stopped reading! They don’t read anymore! The focus should be on visual storytelling, how to enrich your story. Text, you cut it down. Make it short. Enhance the story with multimedia” and so on.

Now, all that multimedia jazz is fine but “people have stopped reading” is an abominable reason, on the students’ part, to ignore his/her writing skills, and on the teachers’ part, to be relaxed on that aspect just because they are teaching New Media students.

Anyway, now I am out of J-School, and to look on the bright side, I have all the time and opportunity in the world to get better at what I want to do. I am not bound by curriculum anymore.

One more problem that I frequently face—also related to editing—is switching from being a news writer to a general prose writer and vice-versa depending on the situation. With news report writing, what you’re looking for is precision and brevity. You don’t use unnecessary adjectives or intensifiers. You can’t slyly squeeze in a wisecrack or an opinion in the news story. At least, that’s what we had been taught and that is also how I feel a news report should be — tight, hard and not an ounce of flab. However, when I am writing something, say, like this, I am often stuck at various points wondering what’s the right way to write it. Should I go for brevity or should I go for flourish? Mind you, brevity is also a symbol for good prose writing, not just news writing.

These are things that are going to perpetually haunt me, irritate me, drive me mad and make me insecure for as long as I am a student of the craft and I don’t think one ever stops being a student of the craft. That said, there’s obviously miles of difference between a 24-year old me who just graduated from J-school and a writer in his late twenties regularly publishing in ScrollThe Wire and Mountain Ink, when it comes to writing. Getting better at your game is a step-by-step process. I don’t know which step requires you to blog about it but since it’s writing, well…

Thoughts #1 On starting afresh as a blogger

For years, I have tried to be a consistent blogger. So far, I think I’ve had started and abandoned at least ten blogs, on various platforms including WordPress, Blogspot, Medium, and some other places my blogger friends would suggest as “really cool” and “much better than WordPress!”. The reasons behind switching platforms every time I started a new blog were mainly two:

1. Guilt — The feeling of starting a new blog on a platform where you already have one; one that you left high and dry, whose potential you overlooked selfishly before planning to write on all your new and exciting ideas in a fresh, better-looking blog, is unbearable.

2. Somehow, I used to feel that changing platforms would have some positive effect on my writing and determination to be consistent blogger. I have done this with diaries and notebooks too. There was a time, I’d take the excess diaries that my father would get during New Year, to “write”, and after writing some nonsense or doodling on the first ten pages, I’d move on to another diary/notebook ’cause the previous one was now contaminated — a glaring example of my inability to use a brand new hardbound diary for carefully penning down interesting ideas that’d eventually come together as fodder for the literary masterpiece I’d publish at 24, which’d get me a modest 20,000 likes (more than that means I’m too popular and a popular 24-year-old writer in India means “shit”) on my Facebook page, while intelligent girls from academia in DU and JNU would write me fan letters asking if I’m single.

Now, I cannot say for sure what this trait says about me. But I’m willing to  guess — and I’m willing because I have thought about this more than I should have — that it probably means I am fickle and/or an escapist. Throughout my years from school to college, my parents, along with my close friends, have always said that I am fickle and restless and unless I settle down in my head with what I want to do in life, I’ll never succeed.

Which is actually true. Now, as I write about this, I’m reminded of other examples, of being myself.

Since as far back as middle school, up till college, at the start of every session in every year, for the first month, I’d be super-diligent. I’d study every day; sometimes, even complete the next two chapters all by myself. I’d show off in class. I think after a point, my classmates realized that iska toh aisahi chalta hai and stopped giving me bhao, and without fail, within the end of first month or middle of second month, I’d be back to being my casual, slacker self. At times, for no apparent reason, I’d get excited by something that’d catch my fancy and I’d totally make up my mind to become a behemoth genius in that field, and that’d last for a month or two, tops. On that note, since the age of five, I’ve had plans to be — off the top of my head — (chronologically) painter, actor, scientist, singer, cricketer (preferably all-rounder, and a fast bowling one, because I liked Flintoff, Cairns and Kallis, and later when I realized I can’t run so much all the time, I chose to be a left-arm orthodox bowler), cricket commentator (when I realized I’m too fat, lazy and incompetent to play professional cricket), a WWE superstar (yes, judge me), a WWE commentator (Guess why?), a rockstar (preferably, singer-songwriter-guitarist-keyboard player-mixer-arranger-and-producer. Oh and I’d write all lyrics too), a filmmaker (this is something that I’m still interested in and I always will be — more on this in later posts), a screenwriter, a copywriter (I was a copywriter professionally for a while), study MBA (I don’t know why I thought of that), a civil servant, and then finally, a journalist.

I think the only reason I stopped at “journalist” and actually stuck to it is because I’m too old to fool around with my career and my father’s money. Besides, it’s something, I feel, that comes easily to me. I like this trade and contrary to how I’d grumble in J-school regarding journalism being not my “thing”, now, I feel I can be good at this if I just focus and not jump around from one thing to another.

Which brings me to “blogging”. As you can see, I did blog here, at least thrice a month, on an average, in early 2015. If you notice, as the months progressed, the frequency of posts decreased and after April, I think, there has been no post. I think that should tell you a lot.

However, I plan to restart/reboot this blog. I already have a blog for my news pieces. That is something I have plans about. Or at least, I intend to have a plan about it ’cause if I don’t, there goes my career down the drain. As for this blog, I have no plans this time, honestly. No grand plans to win an Indiblogger award. As someone interested in wanting to improve his writing, the craft of it, to discover new, fresh ways to express myself through language, I’m going to use this blog as a writing exercise. So expect lots of nonsense and meaninglessness, if you come across this. There are chances you won’t because I will pass this blog’s URL to someone only when I want that person to read it. So here’s my first post in a long time. Hope, I’ll return here soon and write.

If not, this shall stand as a testament to my singular consistency in being, like my father says, boddo phickel minded!

Flash Fiction: A Dark Story

The elevator stops on the thirteenth floor.

She steps out with the tray of food and walks towards room number…

…she reads the chit in her hand out loud, “Six Six S..”

Suddenly the lights go off.

The elevator rings.

And she clearly hears someone walking into the corridor. And the footsteps are approaching…

Her!

She drops the tray and runs…

and runs…

before crashing into a giant wall of flesh, who switches on the torch, and on seeing the woman trembling with fear, says,

“Ma’am. Relax. I am the electrical guy, I am here to fix this dark storey“.


Number of Words – 100.

In Appreciation of Dibakar Banerjee

My body clock has decided that every night I should somehow wake up at around 2, 2:10 am no matter how tired I am.

Tonight was no different. So I decided to listen to the Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! soundtrack.

While listening to the rip-roaring electronic rap track Chase in Chinatown I made up my mind to write this.

I knew Dibakar Banerjee was a filmmaker who directly spoke to me, more than any other contemporary Indian filmmaker, when I saw Oye Lucky Lucky Oye.
Wikipedia lists it as a “black comedy”. Why the film spoke to me was because it was angry. It was angry in a way few Indian films were. It was both angry and funny.

oye-lucky-lucky-oye-19h

OLLO was about class wars and I identified strongly with the protagonist Lucky, who comes from a lower middle class Delhi suburb, to become a master thief to fulfill his upper class aspirations.

The scene where a young Lucky stares at upper class convent educated girls getting out of a swanky car with their boyfriends stayed with me.

Lucky was strongly motivated to make a name as an upper class Indian playboy type in the highly class conscious Delhi and he knew money talked. He was bitter, angry, sarcastic, scornful – exactly like DB’s films that followed OLLO.

In fact when I think of DB, I conveniently reject the fact that he made Khosla Ka Ghosla because that is NOT Dibakar’s language. That is not Dibakar’s soul. That was Jaideep Sahni’s soul filtered through a debutant filmmaker eager to please the slowly growing multiplex audience.

The real DB can be found in OLLO, LSD and Shanghai and with each film, he grew darker, angrier and stopped giving fucks as far as Bollywood conventions are concerned.
With Detective Byomkesh Bakshy’s promos (First, Second, Third) and the spectacular music album, it seems like he has reached the pinnacle of not giving fucks!

Coming back to OLLO, being a small town lower middle class kid thrust into St. Xavier’s, Kolkata, I received a strong culture shock. The liberal, up-market atmosphere…the people…the world of urbane, stylish, self-confident women, overgrown boys with myriad hairstyles with their perfect English accents, with no tinge of colloquial thickness, freely available weed and alcohol and zero inhibitions towards them, the attitude of it all – it was a stark contrast to where I came from. I didn’t realize it then but I do now – a seed of bitterness grew in my gut that probably has a lot to do with my present scorn for liberal, couch-politics today.

And Dibakar spoke to my soul.

Come LSD. Love, Sex Aur Dhokha. DB challenged Bollywood conventions yet again and wildly, outrageously. He didn’t shout out from the rooftops ten times a day about how Bollywood was trying to buy his soul like Kashyap. He never had that fan following. His films weren’t as pen-and-paper ambitious and didn’t have the veneer of classiness like those of Vishal Bharadwaj’s. LSD was a wild child, produced by what-the-fuck-was-she-thinking Ekta Kapoor and the experiment paid off; if I am not wrong, it made 9 crores off a 1.5 crore budget.

30 x 40 legs_pink_opt_

What struck me this time around apart from the anger was his attention to details. To quote Baradwaj Rangan, my favorite Indian film writer (till I find any better) from his review of DB’s Shanghai, “If God is in the details, then Banerjee’s films are certainly sky-scraping cathedrals”. There was the usual “class wars” present and how! Banerjee scratched the underbelly of India’s caste politics, masculine mentality and contemporary media brouhaha with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker and the no-body-left-alive attitude of a SS Jew killer. He spared nobody. Not even Aditya Chopra. The film was a psychological sledgehammer to my system and I, then in my first year of college, had already decided by then that Banerjee is a filmmaker after my own heart.

shanghai

Then came Shanghai. DB’s adaptation of Z. When I heard DB was going to adapt Z, I was like “No shit, of course”. The material was perfect for DB to send a Fuck-You to both Bollywood and Indian politics, albeit, in his usual snide and low-key (but not really) manner. The film didn’t make money but any strong follower of DB could see that his films have been seeped of all light. If his debut film Khosla Ka Ghosla was a cotton candy, Shanghai was charred wolf meat fit for medieval vikings. The film was like a Best-Hits-Of-Dibakar-Banerjee. Three-dimensional characters. Even the smallest characters, like the tempo driver or the funny, naive, local goonda played by Pitobash had shades that made them real. The difference between Kashyap and Banerjee is that Kashyap is a wild, reckless train who doesn’t know where to stop with his characters (or films for that matter); his films echo small town India or the seedy metropolitan underbelly as well as Banerjee’s but he seems to be in a mood to parody them. Banerjee shows them exactly as they are without additional embellishments. Banerjee has strong self-control. He knows where to stop with his characters. Shanghai was a master-class in filmmaking. In less than two hours, it said more about Indian democracy than any Indian film had in the last twenty five years. A lot of people didn’t like it, perhaps for the downbeat tone or the so called “twist ending”, but it was more than its individual parts.

The sum of its parts, Shanghai, was a black, pitch black, angry film and I reveled enjoying its menacing madness.

DB is also an exceptional lyricist. To know that you need to get hold of LSD and Shanghai’s music album and listen to the lyrics of Tainu TV Pe, Tu Gandi Acchi Lagti Hai and Bharat Mata Ki.

He is the best of Bangaliyana, the classic Bengali intellectual, without his lazy shortcomings. He is the ubermensch when it comes to the Bengali intellectual filmmaker operating in mainstream Bollywood, a place that could have been like hell to a person like Banerjee if he didn’t know how to operate there.

But he is a sly fucker, the bespectacled guy.

And now, comes Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, a Yash Raj film.
dbb

Banerjee, who made fun of Aditya Chopra’s brand of ridiculous cinema in LSD, got the guy to produce it and what a film he seems to have produced. Everything about the film is a gigantic FU to Bollywood conventions, Bollywood music conventions, but most importantly to the legacy of Byomkesh Bakshi. He has revamped the character, jazzed it u…sorry, punk rocked it up and HOW! Cannot wait for April 3rd. Cannot wait for my master to rub his charm on my belly and make me feel warm again.

If DBB scores well with the Indian audience, Dibakar Banerjee, fingers crossed, will turn Bollywood head over heels in the coming years, mark my words.

Psycho Killer

Our story begins on a stormy night like most stories do. It is a highway. Dark.

The bassline builds up.

Enter synth. A car comes up the highway. Our hero is in the driver seat.

He is out for blood tonight and he has made up his mind.

It has to be a stranger. Not Sneha. Not Rishi. Not Abhishek. Not his boss. Not the HR. Not the fat guy in accounts.

Nothing can get back to you, he thinks, they should not connect anything back to you. A random victim. A motiveless murder. A homeless person. Someone asking for a lift. 1:23 AM near Bypass. I will get someone. And I will beat his skull with the crowbar so bad and so many times, I should be able to see my piss trickling down his neural pathways.

Brain full of piss, he chuckles as he imagines the autopsy-in-charge rolling his eyes, talking to the investigators, our killer seems to have…umm…relieved himself in his…umm…brain.

The man will probably be in a cloak, crawling or limping, a loser nobody gives a shit about. Hell, even I am a loser nobody gives a shit about but that is not going to stop me.

Enter Byrne.

I can’t seem to face up to the facts
I’m tense and nervous and I can’t relax
..

Our hero nods his head to the rhythm. He checks his speakers, they are worth fifty grand and they are as convinced as he is in his mission. Bless the RJ. What a song to make a debut to, what a backdrop for my mass murdering spree. He taps his steering wheel as sings along with Byrne. A truck approaches from the opposite end.

Let’s fuck with him. Why the hell not?

He drives straight on to the truck. The headlights and the horns could’ve woken up a stillborn but at the last moment, he makes a fast swerve, the bonnet of his Mercedes getting a slight scratch. Sparks fly. Fuck! He loses focus for a millisecond before he cheers up, what the heck, I am having blood tonight.

Anyway, coming back to our victim, he continues thinking, I will drive the crowbar through his groin, puncturing his intestines. He will probably choke out blood and I’ll do this behind my car parked against the highway. And if anybody sees me, well I will make sure no one does, ’cause

Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire! Woohoo!

David should have added a woohoo at the end. He makes a mental note of making a personal cover of the song when he reaches home and he’d add a woohoo at the end of it.

A bunch of prostitutes ogle at his car. May be I can take one for a ride, rape her and leave her. Don’t most serial killers start with prostitutes? Shit, I don’t have a condom. I don’t want herpes. I am just starting on my mass murdering career for chrissakes.

He sees the homeless. They don’t seem to end. The homeless under the highway that never seems to end. The tungsten light doesn’t seem to end. The city never seems to end. But tonight he is going to burn a hole through this dungeon of sameness.. Tonight he is going to be a

Psycho Killer!
Qu’est-ce que c’est
Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better!

He presses his foot down the accelerator. 90mph. I am a rich ass boy. Driving a big ass car. Cops ain’t going to stop me. Fuck tha police!

No person in sight. End of winter. It’s drizzling. He is anxious. What if I don’t find anybody tonight? I’m not on my meds. I’ve not been on them for weeks. Mother doesn’t know. I’ve been on a paid sick leave. I have to go to work tomorrow and I have to kill somebody tonight, ’cause I am a psycho killer! Woohoo!

Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, awayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Everybody run away. Run away. Run away.

Run away ’cause our man is here. We do not have psycho killers in this city. There is bloody, two-bit politics. There is dirt. There are stupid, fat men and women. Activists. White collar fucks. Lazy policemen. A murder in broad daylight in the middle of a bazaar requires federal police. CID is such a joke. Every crime requires federal police. Money fuckers fucking the city day in and day out, political stooges, Gujaratis and Marwaris. To hell with them. Tonight I break out. Tonight will be the beginning of a new sensation in town. Listen up bastards, I will bring this city to national, wait, international spotlight. Psycho killer out on loose. Maybe someone will figure out I drive a Mercedes. Or some such car. Mysterious psycho killer on the prowl, recently escaped out of Pavlov, the most dangerous criminal ever to have walked on the streets of this city, all government officials on high alert. Please stay indoors. He can and might strike at any moment. This announcement was brought to you by the city police in public interest and safety….

We are sorry to interrupt your regular programme with this special announcement. A psychopath, a heavily armed dangerous man is out on the loose, on the city streets. He escaped from Pavlov asylum an hour ago and can be at any point and anywhere. He might be in your locality. Please stay indoors. Lock doors and windows and do not answer even though it’s a stormy night and someone might ask for help. Even if you are outside, do not respond to any stranger calling out to you for any reason. All government officials and police have been put on high alert. I repeat, please stay indoors. He can and might strike at any moment.

What is this? Am I hearing things again? This cannot happen. Why has the song stopped? A psycho killer out on the streets? Is this my mind talking to me? Am I going schizo again? I know I am a psycho. All I want to be is a psycho killer now. Please don’t fuck it up. Please don’t fuck it up. Please don’t fuck it up.

He increases the volume. There’s some static and the song is back again. Frantz slapping the bass and David Byrne’s subdued baritone brings our hero to peace. It is raining hard now. He switches on the wipers.

You start a conversation you can’t even finish it.
You’re talking a lot, but you’re not saying anything.
When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed.
Say something once, why say it again?

All I want to be is a psycho killer now. Please don’t fuck it up. Please don’t fuck it up. Please don’t fuck it up. The tool box is staring at me. Fuck you!

He opens the tool box. Gets his medications out on the seat. Prolixin. Lexapine. Trilafon. Mellanil.

Fuck off, he shouts, as he opens the window and throws his meds out. I don’t want to ever see your face again.

The demons are out. Much better.

Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better.

Why the fuck isn’t anybody out on the goddamn road? He presses the horn. Once. Twice. Thrice. There’s nobody. The road doesn’t seem to end. This way I am going to be at the border, he panics. Do I have to drive through a military outpost and kill some soldiers? They rape women. No one’s going to blame me even if they shoot me. I am a person with a history of mental illness. I come from a reputed family and I work at one of the top multinational companies in the IT hub of the town. I am an upstanding citizen and I pay my taxes. But before I die, I am going to fuck some fuckers up, that’s for sure, ’cause I’m a

Psycho Killer!
Qu’est-ce que c’est
Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better!

Damn right. Far better.

The car is shooting through the storm. He cannot hear anything in the buzz of his AC. The wipers aren’t any good even though it cost his dead father an arm and a leg. I wish I could ejaculate in his brain. Brain clogged with semen. Do they have a name for such a disorder? What if semen changes tracks and somehow ends up in your brain?

He sees a man finally. Limping. He immediately slows down his car. His neurons, fucked as they are, fucked as the doctors tell him, isn’t as damaged as they think they are. I know what to do now, he thinks, this is my chance and I won’t fuck this up. I will slow down my car. He won’t be able to hear it. It’s raining hard. I will switch off the headlights. Let the radio be. I will walk out quietly. I will get wet. Mother won’t bother to ask me tomorrow what I was doing so late at night.

I am a mentally ill individual who is slowly but surely showing improvement and soon will be able to rejoin regular society anyway.

He slows down his car. The man doesn’t turn back. He is limping and he has a cloak on him. Poor, helpless motherfucker. For a second, the milk of human kindness seems to tell our hero to not follow through with his masterplan. But

Ce que j’ai fait, ce soir-là
Ce qu’elle a dit, ce soir-là
Réalisant mon espoir
Je me lance vers la gloire!

Headlong I go for glory, he says to himself, je me lance vers la gloire. His French is bad but that’s not the point here. He gets the crowbar out. A thirty pound stainless steel crowbar. The moment it is hit on the head with the force of a hundred pound man, its teeth crashes through the cranium, cracking the skull and holds on to a chunk of the brain. When pulled out, the piece of brain splatters out on the street. The man is as good as dead at that point even though he is still standing and has half his neural system working. That way as he penetrates the limping man’s intestines, he is going to feel the pain. Unless he inflicts pain, it’s going to be for nothing.

Fame is alright. But he must be painful. Precise. And fierce.

Our hero is walking on tiptoes. Tomorrow a handicapped man will be found brutally murdered near the Bypass, on the way to the airport. What a sight, what a news for incoming visitors. The chief minister wants to make our city look like London. For a second, he wonders, what if he smears the man’s blood on her face on one of the hundred thousand placards with her face on it. He will think about it later.

Somewhere, some paces behind, the song is crashing to an end. And so will our story. David Byrne singing out to the heavens above and the hells in between –

We are vain and we are blind…

He is millimeters away from the limping man. This has been fantastic so far. He is shaking with ecstasy. His cock hasn’t been this hard in weeks. He can’t help imagine the climax as he drives the crowbar into the man’s head. White fuzz on his boxers, yes, but fuzz of peace. Fuzz of beauty.

He is out for blood tonight and he has made up his mind.

I hate people when they’re not polite…..

He raises the crowbar and screams loudly to the man’s ear, with all his guts, with all his breath, as if, if it weren’t raining, he could be heard within a hundred yards, “Madarchod!”

The crowbar aimed at the man’s skull, the man turns back at him at the speed of light, and replies, “Haan tera.”

For a moment, our hero, probably starts to giggle at the sudden reply, but he is stopped in his tracks, as the man has already thrust an iron rod into his stomach.

He feels like his heart is going to burst. His blood pressure drops. And so does the crowbar.

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh…

The sound of the rain, the storm, no more. He can hear the song clearly. It’s crashing down on the top of his head as if a skyscraper fell down on him and he is going back to dust. The bass, the synth, the crunchy guitars and Byrne are crying in the middle of the night, with no one to watch this spectacle. What a way to go. Who would’ve thought. This is such a massive joke. If I am alive to tell the story…

The limping man pulls out the rod and thrusts it in our hero’s throat. He chokes out blood. Well, he keeps thinking, my brain still works. They had given up on that. It is going to be such an embarrassment if this fucker now cracks my skull open and pisses in it.

As his eyes start to lose vision, he sees the dark soldier of death, with his dark face, and his limp, looming over his almost lifeless body, bending down to pull out the rod.

Then he hits our hero hard on the head, unspooling his brains, white fuzz trickling down his eye.

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh……..

The song ends and the RJ starts talking about post-modern relationship crisis and millennial couples suffering from urban alienation as our hero starts to go to sleep and the last thing he sees is the limping man unzipping his pants and dangling his cock out.

Oh how embarrassing.

 (A humble tribute to the fantastic song by Talking Heads – Psycho Killer)

Starting on Philosophy – Day 1

I have always wanted to study philosophy, both Western and Oriental. Mostly Western. I had Sociology as one of my additional subjects when I was in College. I absolutely hated the way it was taught, dreaded it, the teachers, the professors were awful, barring one or two. It was there where I came across a bit of Marx, a bit of Hegel, a Kant there, a Descartes here and so on. I had this fleeting wish to learn what these people wrote and what they were about more clearly, but never got down to it.

Or I would read a movie review and someone would call it “nihilistic” and “Nietzschean” which would make me google Nietzsche immediately, following it up with reading the first three pages of Beyond Good and Evil before getting bored. Thing is, I never took it seriously even though I wanted to. Regarding Oriental Philosophy, for reasons long, complicated and vague, I never really thought there was anything of value to the Gita and the Vedas and suchlike. I tried to read up a bit up on Buddhism while I was in college, then as usual, I got bored. Recently, I have been convinced by people wiser than me, that apparently, Oriental philosophy is older, far superior and richer than Western Philosophy.

So I finally decided that today’s going to be the day when I embark on a journey of reading up major philosophical texts, both Western and Oriental, in sequence (Western philosophy has to be read in sequence because each philosopher wrote in response to those that came before him. So if you randomly pick up Schopenhauer, you’ll end up nowhere), taking my time, making notes if necessary to understand the thinking of intelligent men and how they have helped the world progress, or not, perhaps a little better. Why today? Well, today’s a day as good as any and also I came upon this article in Existential Comics, where the comic writer talks about how he was unschooled in philosophy and what would be the best way to read on Western Philosophy if you have an interest in it but it’s not a part of your syllabus.

The first book in the list is Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes. The only thing I know about Descartes is that he said, “I think, therefore I am.” Anyway so I start today. Next up I’ll be talking about Descartes and what all I made of him and his writings.

Fight Club

Fight ClubFight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book is a complete descent into madness. Darkness. Oblivion. At the end of which you feel saved.

Ha! I am a big fan of the movie. I have seen it countless times and I finally got down to read the book yesterday. I’d been delaying it primarily ’cause I heard from sources, Palahniuk himself being one of them, that the movie is better. Also, I tried reading Invisible Monsters a long time ago and I couldn’t cut through Chuck’s prose. His prose is one-of-a-kind.

Anyway, to come to the first real opinion you might be looking for: I found the book better than the movie.

Is the book better than the movie? That’s for you to decide. As of now, I will only tell you why I think what I think.

(Spoilers Ahead) First of all, the book is in itself, GREAT. I hope you’ve seen Taxi Driver. If you haven’t, you won’t get what I am trying to say. Imagine a Taxi Driver novel narrated in first person where you are digging through Travis Bickle’s sick, demented, cancerous mind one word at a time, one paragraph a minute. The experience is bound to be dark, trippy and is going to make you question your sanity at the end of it. Reading Fight Club was something similar. With the movie, you all saw the events unfold through a, how do I put this, jazzed-up, glossy, distant medium. But the actual matter of this story, the insides of Jack/Tyler’s brain is so f**ked up, while you are reading and finally when you finish the book, it gives you an entirely different kind of psychological jolt that you cannot expect from the movie. Sure, the movie and the book share the same themes, the same ideas and it’s the ideas and the quotes and the cool stuff that fans of Fight Club, casual or not, to this date talk the most about, but as far as I am concerned, the juice of the book lies in Jack/Tyler’s growing, slow-burning insanity and exactly how Chuck writes it and it’s bloody fantastic!

Simply put, the book is as much a spirited, passionate meditation on insanity and depression as it is about anti-consumerism, masculine identities, anarchism and what have you.

Another reason I loved the book more than the movie is because of the endings. With the book, the way it’s progressing, Tyler reaches his inevitable end. It’s beautiful. It’s brilliant – all the support group people coming together calling out to him, him ending up in the mental institution he calls heaven, with the space monkeys surrounding him, promising that his dreams of ending civilization won’t fail… The book from start-to-middle-to-finish is perfect; there is not a single jarring note, there is not a single thing I disapprove of, all in all – Tyler reaches where he’s supposed to reach.

Whereas, in the movie, we end up with an abrupt twist (after the first obvious twist) – Jack shoots himself, Tyler disappears or rather Jack reconciles between his two selves and now both are one and they can equally handle Marla, the monkeys and himself with equal ease. People say Fincher makes dark movies but the ending is a true cop-out. It’s a forced hopeful, happy, sweet-muffin ending which in all likelihood, given the circumstances, the crazy, f**ked up circumstances, is the last thing that’s supposed to happen. A person SO mentally ill cannot recover just like that. He just cannot. You have to read the book to realize the level of insanity Jack/Tyler has drowned into and the movie kind of didn’t really capture the sickness of the novel. Nevertheless, it’s one of the greatest films ever made without a doubt, but yeah, the book is definitely a totally different animal, better than the movie in my opinion and obviously, highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Abohomaan/The Eternal (2010)

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Abohomaan [English: The Eternal] 
Year: 2010
Director/Writer: Rituparno Ghosh
Cast: Dipankar De, Jishu Sengupta, Ananya Chatterjee, Mamata Shankar

A Rituparno Ghosh film or even the man himself draws a number of varied reactions. In “intellectual” (doing that finger thing elaborately with a sneer) circles he is 1. revered by the urban Bengali intelligentsia as a demi-God or 2. derided as being “nyaka” (sissy) or a “sontushto shilpi” (self-satisfied artist). Interestingly, there’s truth in BOTH these statements as much as they are BULLSHIT!

Rituparno Ghosh was nothing if not a filmmaker that attracted tremendous discourse; love and ire, both at the same time. Similarly, Abohomaan deals with the utter indescribability of its protagonist and his personal relationships. Does the son love the father or hate him? Does the father love his family or is indifferent about it? Is the extra-marital affair in question right or wrong? Thing is, should ‘right or wrong’ even be a question? I loved this film! I belonged to the group who usually saw Ritu as over-rated. I don’t know about others but honestly it was because of the following reasons:

  • I hadn’t seen all his films; only 1 or 2 and I had formed this theory that he only deals with “fake problems of rich people MYAAAN”
  • This theory was particularly fueled by contemporary Bangla films by Tony Roy Chowdhury, Mainak Bhaumik…those ensemble urban dramas about vacuum posing as people.
  • I just loved to hate someone so popular, I guess.
  • Worst of all, I wasn’t old enough to understand the complexity of the relationships in his films.

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Such as the ones in Abohomaan. One of my friends is a tremendous Ritu fan and has grown up with his movies as much as I have grown up watching Hollywood (and consequently getting my thinking shaped by Hollywood). And we both agreed on the fact that had I seen Abohomaan in my second year of college (which is when he was constantly goading me to watch it and I was like “Fuck that sissy shit”), I would have hated it and made a joke out of it, and I can be very cruel while dissing a movie.

Abohomaan is a movie that must, MUST be watched. The last twenty five minutes is world-class filmmaking. Period. The emotional layers and dynamics of the inter-personal relationships during that time has near-Bergman-finesse. What Abohomaan says is beautiful: You cannot explain anything in broad strokes, least of all a person and his relationships. Life is complex and we should accept it and cherish it with all its differences and confusions and CINEMA, as we know it, cannot define life. Cinema cannot be a definitive statement on life as it deals in moments. The protagonist, a veteran film director lived and breathed cinema all his life, and in the process never really saw life for what it was. He stayed aloof and detached from his loved ones and yet he was a person of love, of happiness, of warmth and it all adds up moments before he is dying in a poignant scene.

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My favourite dialogue comes at the very end of the movie in a  conversation between the director (Dipankar De) and his son (Jishu)

Aniket/Director: What is a film all about?
Apratim/Son: Depends. Moments maybe!
Aniket: Moments. Amra…amra sob fleeting moments ke dhore feli jano? Boli, capture! Not fair, not fair at all. (Moments. We all capture fleeting moments. That’s all. Not fair, not fair at all.)

The Corporation (2003)

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The Corporation
Year: 2003
Directors: Jennifer Abbott, Mark Achbar

Shaken and stirred by this amazing film. It goes deep into the problem of ‘the corporation’. It is thorough and dispassionate, has interviews from both sides of the debate – philosophers, activists, protesters on one hand with CEO’s and Government people on the other and the best of the lot – the devious middlemen i.e industry insiders, whistle-blowers, corporate investigators etc.

Corporate evil is here to stay and is destined to suck the world dry. In my personal view there is no two ways about it, though the film ends with a touch of hope (well just because it has to I guess, because no matter how cruel the narrative is, what do we have except hope?), that is not the kind of hope I see sense/meaning in. Well what to seek meaning in then? I frankly do not know and I need time to ponder upon this maybe but perhaps the least we can do is to be aware at least, to be dangerously aware of the world around us, of the Moloch that we are up against and somehow in our own ways try to battle it through the way we live our lives and pass on those values to future generations.

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