Thursday, November 18, 2004

Random Ramblings

* Last week a friend had come down to Chennai so the two of us went around the city with two other friends from IIT and had a blast. It’s weird but these guys had never had booze in the afternoon. So I introduced them to the pleasures of getting drunk in the afternoon, something which I have been doing very regularly of late.

* Saw Ram Gopal Verma’s Naach the same day. I liked the film because it was bold and different but it was really slow. Another problem with the movie was that it was very monotonous and had no comic relief at all. There was not even a single light moment in the movie. It was intense all the way. Of all the pathetic actors we have in Bollywood, Bachchan Jr and Antra Mali are the only promising ones. Here are my two cents on acting for the two of them – stop clenching your jaw muscles when you want to show anger. Doing it over and over again undermines your overall performance. There are many other ways of showing anger. Maintain eye contact with the camera and for crying out loud don’t blink at the wrong moment, it destroys the whole scene. Look at Samuel L Jackson. The guy doesn’t blink at all during a monologue and his stare is so captivating you can’t take your eyes of the screen. Practice looking in the mirror while reading your lines and don’t blink without reason. Our actors are extremely poor with non-verbal communication. Every action, every movement has to have a reason and should convey something.

* I am dying.

Ok I am being over dramatic.

But I am dying to meet you.

Can’t believe you are so near and yet so far.

* Went to the airport today. I love all these places which have a huge mass of humanity – railway stations, bus depots, libraries, etc. I think these places are really romantic. But Chennai airport (and especially the exit) is the single most unromantic place I have ever seen. A graveyard has more romantic potential. I simply cannot imagine a guy, who has just landed, running all the way to meet his babe and give her a kiss and a hug and just take her in his arms for ever and ever. The architects must have been warned in advance about the possibility of something like this happening and designed the exit in such a way that it would be impossible for the couple to do PDA – public display of affection.

* Why do people hate clichés? I love them, period. One day, I am going to write a book on clichés. It will be the most comprehensive study of clichés ever.

* Been watching this cartoon channel called Animax very regularly. It’s a Japanese channel and mostly has animated stuff based on mangas (Japanese comic strips). I simply love this series called Inu Yasha. More on this later.

* I have already told babe about this so I don’t care now about letting the cat out of the bag. These days I am going against everything the Horrors stood for. I joined a gym and have been working out very hard and very regularly. Gained 20 pounds but it doesn’t show yet, maybe in a couple of months when I cross 200 pounds.

* Attended a Beatles celebration concert at the British Council. It was alright, could have been better. They didn’t play ‘When I’m 64’ so I was disappointed.

* Been missing my IIT buddies a lot these days. A lot of stuff has been happening with them and it hurts that I can’t be a part of their life any longer. I mean of course I am a part of their lives. But it’s not the same. Babe called the other night and it’s the happiest 20 minutes I have spent in the last 4 months. I am turning into a softy. We homies got to keep it real.

* Been listening to Alice in Chains – Jar of Flies (also Rooster from the album Dirt) non stop for the last three days. I love this group. Thanks Shravan for introducing me to them. Reminded me of my fifth semester when I went through a depression for nearly six months. Broke all the cardinal rules of boozing back then – drank when I was alone, drank when I was sad and drank with people I didn’t trust. I never thought that a mature level headed guy like me would stoop so low and make mince meat of my so called self esteem. When you are in love with the idea of a person rather than being in love with the person, expect a kick in your balls. Punters call it a crush. I call it stupidity. Your mind plays games with you and makes an ordinary (down right pathetic) human being seem like an angel. I am not being vindictive (dude remember you said this to me) but it’s the truth. I am glad I got that out of my system, even though it’s been ages and life has become so much better.

* Been trying to sing like Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World – almost matched his voice.

* I have nothing left to talk about with my parents. I mean I love them and everything but I can no longer relate to them on any subject – the only draw back of coming to IIT. It has made me too independent. I think I need to get out of Chennai for a few days and take a break from life. Bangalore has great weather these days – cold – exactly the way I feel these days.

* Enrique’s ‘Don’t turn Off the Laaaaeeeeghts’ just started playing. Hate these random jumps in Winamp. Aha – Strangers in the Night – Frank Sinatra is amazing. Been singing Strangers before every performance to clear my throat and get myself high, works each time.

* Met the girl with the ear piercings again today. She is such a sweetheart. Just feel like cuddling her.

* Clairvoyance – the supposed ability to perceive things that are not in sight or that cannot be seen. This word has been on my mind for a long time. So has Nonchalant.

Friday, November 05, 2004

The 8150 Days of Me

I remember this rather dull night, at the peak of north Indian winter, some six years back. I had been trying to solve a particularly tricky problem of mechanics from Irodov for nearly four hours. The solution was quite elusive and required a very subtle trick which my tired mind was unable to comprehend. So I kept the problem aside and decided to approach it with a fresh mind the next morning. I was also distracted because of this particular book I had acquired a couple of days before that – The 120 Day of Sodom (or the School of Freedoms or the School of Libertines) by Marquis de Sade. The book tells the story of a bunch of old men who enslave a group of teenagers and perform various sexual perversions on them and eventually kill them. All this is done while listening to stories told by old prostitutes.

Bored with my physics problems and unable to sleep I decided to read this book. Back then I had this principle of not leaving a novel unfinished and so I read this gruesome book throughout the night. When I finished reading, in the early hours of the morning, my mind had gone numb and an all pervading feeling of disgust settled over me. I didn’t eat anything the whole day because of fear of remembering the details of the coprophilia described in the book.

Fast forward to the present – I finished seeing Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom based on original text by Sade but set in the Fascist Republic of Salo in 1944. Here is how the film is described on the back cover of the DVD I viewed (released by the British Film Institute):

Banned, censored and reviled the world over since its first release in 1975, Salò has rarely been shown in its complete form in Britain and did not receive BBFVC certification until late 2000, when it was passed uncut. In 1994 its US video release prompted the prosecution of a bookshop, and in Australia the ban on Salò was lifted in 1993, only to be reinstated in 1998 after questions were raised in their national parliament.

The film Salò is based on the Marquis de Sade's novel 120 Days of Sodom, with the setting transposed to an empty Lake Garda mansion in Mussolini's miniature Fascist Republic of Salò, Italy in 1944. Four wealthy and powerful libertines gather in a palazzo to organise a gluttonous, theatrical series of sexual tortures to be inflicted upon a terrified collection of subjugated young men and women.

The film's content and imagery is extreme, and it retains the power to shock, repel and distress a quarter of a century on. Pasolini was murdered shortly before the film's release, when a casual sex encounter on a beach outside Rome went tragically wrong. The reaction to the murder ensured that the public perception of Salò was tainted by the score-settling indulged in by his enemies on both the Left and the Right. Yet it remains a cinematic milestone - culturally significant, politically vital and visually stunning. The DVD release features a poster gallery, an on-screen director's biography and a director's foreword read by actor Nickolas Grace.

The film was even more gruesome and graphic in its presentation of violence then the way I had visualized it after reading the book. Nothing shocks me these days, but this movie was like a thunderbolt, waking me from a reverie like nothing else has ever done. Why did Pasolini make this movie? More importantly how did he accomplish the task of making such a harrowing movie?

As disgusted and revolted as I am after having seen the contents of the movie, there is still only one word which I can use to describe the movie – beautiful. It is sheer genius – the light work gives a very surreal detached feeling, colours are used brilliantly and direction – the best I have ever seen. I highly recommend the movie to every film aficionado, but don’t watch the movie on a full stomach and if you can’t take the violence – stop immediately. The weak of heart should not watch this film.