Archive for January 2009
o you piece of meat,
stuck in my teeth,
i chase thee with my nail,
and miserably fail,
i detect thee with my lick,
arm myself with a toothpick,
yet thou art ever elusive,
in my oral crevasses reclusive,
misery written on every line of my face,
my own dentist, how can there be grace,
i open my mouth as wide as I can,
grimace in every expression known to man,
but thou remainest elusive, rejoice as i cringe,
the Roosters last revenge
Compare the humor below to indian laughter challenge, kya cool hain hum, etc etc. (the last one is the slapstickest but had me laughing the most)
just a few samples from endless good ones.
Luckily for me, I hadn’t really gotten in on the Slumdog hype toooo much when i saw the movie, which might have saved my thoughts from being colored tooo much. (Till the time i saw the movie, my impression was that it revolved around a character with dark shades, a slum dweller who had suddenly come into a lot of money, which is where the movie began. That seemed intriguing.)
Even so, I had to swim against the thought influencing tide of an overwhelmingly positive reception of the movie by Ebert. But my immediate personal and honest reaction to the movie remains – I did not like it, not did it feel as an instinctively satisfying metaphor of the shades and gross contradictions of Indian life.
A few things particularly struck me. The dialogue in the movie was exceptionally sparse, and created an impression of a certain disconnect, or a void. There was no spontaneity in the conversations (maybe partly because of the rather awkward coming together of English and Hindi), that would infuse life in the characters, and lend them some humanity which would give you a chance to relate to and sympathize with the characters. The utterances are almost at their bare minimum, just enough to carry the plot further, “oh, look who we have here”, “let us go, or i shall shoot”, and sometimes they just seem to be absolutely pointless deviation from movie “you will be the second person who went from a slum dweller to a millionaire, the first being me”.
The plot also seems to be equally sparse, devoid of nuances, with a blatantly idealistic and uni dimensional portrayal of characters and situations (noble lead lady who is steadfast in her love for the lead man; epitome of nobility young man, who looks the part, and manages to remain untouched by the degradation of his situation, is exceptionally knowledgeable, suavely witty and puppy eyed; mislead brother hero who ultimately comes around sacrifices himself (and goes out in style) for his noble brother; the protagonist knows all the answers of course; baddies in the background, who disappear before you can blink your eyes; and a plot which arranges for a happiness loaded, alls well with the world, feel good, grand meeting at the end which would put a “dil hai ki maanta nahi”esque girl-walks-out-of-bad-marriage-to-meet-hero-who-is-waiting-at-the-train-station-while-goodie-goodie-sidekicks-cheer-on finale to shame) and seems very contrived in parts (blind kid knows about Benjamin Franklin). I realise, the plot is a metaphor of the excesses of Bollywood – one of the brush strokes that are supposed to complete the portrayal of India.
The initial parts of the movie, or the parts which revolved around the slum kids might still have had some semblance of authenticity, but the adult slumdog was a particular annoyance. Him, and the female lead were too obviously not Indian (eyebrows too even, a manner which too obviously betrayed a good breeding). What was even more annoying was the distracted, disconnected air that surrounded the protagonist. He was obviously not there, and not even where the flashback went. He exuded the impression of being a distant observer rather than a participant. He seemed to set feet on the ground momentarily when he smiled coolly retorted to Anil Kapoor’s witticisims, but it was never long before he took off again.
One could say that the uni dimensional plot merely served as a metaphor, while the true intention was to travel through the different aspects, stratum, complexities and contradictions of life in India. It certainly seemed to have all the elements – the slum, the media boom, the police brutality, and of course, the call center (how could a western film maker miss that). But for me, the movie never really seemed to get under the skin of life in India, and I couldn’t relate to the situations, or find myself sympathize or get involved in the lives of the characters, and their ecstasies, their miseries, their desires (they seemed to have none). An immensely better metaphor on life in india, its absurdities, and how different stratum of society merge into each other (college students in elite universities with their airy ideals, the annals of power, the starkness of life in a village, the commonplaceness even of rape when youre powerless, the shameless excercise of power by lower level policewalahs) was the movie “Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi”, even though it was more interested in the upper levels of society.
slumdog felt like a sneeze that never came.
I write not from the elevated vantage point of someone who has been there, done that, moved on, and can look back and pontificate. I write as a person who has been there and is there still. There’s no denying that humans at large do have a propensity for voyeurism. You might not be, but people on the whole are. There’s always this compelling need to find out what goes on behind closed doors in neighbors’ houses, catch our fellow humans with their proverbial pants around their ankles, to know what doesn’t concern us.
This need is manifest in the tremendous success of soaps (especially the saas bahu version) which depict elaborate family politics, reality shows which grow increasingly invasive, the thriving paparazzi brigade and even “serious” media reporting on personal and frivolous subjects, celebrity magazines/shows which seek to capture and broadcast the tiniest aspect of stars’ lives, the proliferation of scandalous mms clips which spread like wildfire, or even curious crowds gathering around a fight/accident. This emerges perhaps from a deep seated need to relate our private selves to the outer world and find parallels in the environment, parallels which are hard to come across in public and social life. Or it is a primal need which cannot be deconstructed, a dark side of human curiosity.
Nowhere does the temptation to peek inside the keyhole become more overpowering, than when there is no threat of social sanction or reprisal. An assurance that “noone will know”. God knows what humanity would be like if we were all “invisible men”. And with the advent of the internet, the ability to digitally travel through the vast network of wires in the world, enter peoples homes and lives through their computers, this impulse for voyeurism has found new expression. How many of us bolt ourselves in our rooms during twilight hours, plant ourselves in front of the flickering screen, the dim glow almost hypnotic, and watch and do things which we would rather not have the world know.
Some voyeurism, I guess, is of the “consensual” brand. The desire of the voyeur to see, overlaps the desire of the subject to be seen. This would hold true in the case of most varieties of porn (minimum age of consent applies) where the players perform their acts for the very benefit of the drooling onlooker. Or social networking sites and blogs, where our profiles and pages are a self managed PR campaign. We put up details of our lives (only good things please) for everybody to see (crushes preferably), and have private conversations in public forums (orkut) (almost like a group of girls talking in loud tones for the benefit of a group of guys standing by, who are only too pleased to listen in). Us wimps, who would rather type out our profession of love than say it, have never had it better. Also reality shows, where participants seek to show the world how adorable they are in pajamas in a bedroom setting, and the world is interested. This calls for an article on “Exhibitionism and Us”, which I shall undertake if I am able to escape the barrage of chappals that shall fly in my direction for being nosy and judgmental.
The other darker, sinister brand of voyeurism, is what raises questions for us humans. Here the subject is truly unaware of being observed, and is hence completely defenseless.
I would not say the inherent tendency for voyeurism is greater or more emergent than in past times. But the conditions are certainly more conducive than in previous eras. What was seen only by one pair of eyes, can be recorded easily and be put up for a million eyes to see on the internet.
The early worm takes the bird
Always undertake endeavors where there is no risk of success
Love is hapiness in tackiness
Just because you notice your pant is phati hui first doesnt mean its not phati hui
I have a moral compass, its just pointing in the wrong direction
News is the new entretainment
Laughter may be the best medicine, but an overdose may kill u
If i dont kill you, ill be your friend for life
From buck teeth to no teeth, togather for life
True education lies in crude elucidation (a gem from de neha)
We love to complain about that which we enjoy the most
Assholes have all the fun
Im a cannibal….because i can nibble
Wake me up when i die
The height of desperation – arranged marriage, people are willing to marry to have sex
If you signed up to dance like a monkey on the stage, you have to dance like a monkey on the stage. you cannot complain about being treated like a monkey
Love is not blind…its very observant…thats why everyone falls for hotties
You know youve got a nationalist nut on your hands if he says “Freedom!!!” when he orgasms.