Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Of some movies

In the second attempt we got the tickets, at a mighty 100% premium (also known as 'black' in the usual parlance) knowing somewhere that its going to be worth it. 15 minutes into the movie, I was more than happy about being inside the theater. To me, the plot of Mira Nair's 'The Namesake' (2006) is pretty ordinary...the story of anybody migrating from his / her country (read culture) of birth to another country (once again, read culture) isn't new and is definitely not the aspect that works for this movie (at least not for me).
Whats extraordinary about the movie are the performances of Irrfan Khan & Tabu as the quintessential Bengali couple and the evolution of their relationship over a period of time. Irrfan's rendition of a typical 'Bangaaali' from Calcutta with the typical 'Bangaali' accented English (if you know what I mean) is phenomenal. In the words of my father who himself is part Bengali, "Even an authentic Bengali wouldn't have managed to do justice to the character of Ashok Ganguli". From their relationship aspect, the sequence in which he calls up his Ashima (Tabu) from the hospital will remain with you forever, amongst other such brilliant sequences. Tabu as the Bengali mother of 2 teenage kids, is so convincing that one forgets that she isnt even married in real life. Im glad that we have such actors around us.
As my good friend, who sent me the DVD had mentioned, Jim Jarmuschs 'Coffee and Cigarettes' (2003) is as free flowing as Henry Miller's writings and the 11 short vignettes are like the themes from Kafka's 'Meditations'. Shot in Black & White and always over a coffee table in different contexts, this experimental and independent film is beautifully existential (and comical). It's quiet absorbing for the likes of us....if you know what I mean!
Revisiting Martin Scorsese's 'Raging Bull' (1980) got me thinking about three aspects. Firstly, about the degradation of Martin Scorsese as a director and the late and highly undeserving Best Director Academy that he got for 'The Departed'. Much has already been written about the second fact the judges at the Academy (and this time rightly) awarded the man with the Best Actor. I'm talking about the authenticity of Robert De Niro as Jake La Motta, the boxer with a stupid anger and a doubting mind.
Lastly and most importantly, I saw myself cringing at the sport of 'Boxing'...I can't believe that while we call ourselves a civilized society, we continue (and in a very blatant way) with this bloody and gruesome sport. There have been instances of death, major injuries and an infamous 'ear-chewing', while we kept enjoying it (and still do). Is this being civilized? If we consider that the armed forces of a certain superpower nation is killing the innocent citizens of a small country, maybe it is.
Coming up in my next post is an interesting aspect of Gulzar's poetry in 'Omkaara'...and yes, I remember that I have to translate Mir Taqi Mir's 'Dikhaayi Diye Yun' working on it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Words on 'Music'

Two months ago, I started on one of the most wonderful journeys of my life and the fact that its endless, makes it all the more beautiful...I began learning the 'language of music'. The idea for this post came, when I opened up one of the music theory books, the other day. The book began with some very wise words on a 'musician' by the Pulitzer Prize (yeah...they give Pulitzer for music) winning American (has to be, if its Pulitzer) composer, Virgil Thomson. While appreciating his quote, I thought maybe I should put up some of my favourite quotes on music over here. I shall begin with the one that sparked off this post.

"I've never known a musician who regretted being one. Whatever deceptions life may have in store for you, music itself is not going to let you down." - Virgil Thomson
"Without music life would be a mistake." - Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
"And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs
And as silently steal away." - HW Longfellow, The Day is Done
“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul." - Plato
"Come baby, teach me, come baby, reach me, let the music start." - Bob Dylan, Emotinally Yours
"After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." - Aldous Huxley
"If music be the food of love; play on." - William Shakespeare
"I got music runnin' in my head, Makes me feel like a young bird flyin' " - Neil Diamond, Canta Libre
"Come hear Uncle John's Band playing to the tide,Come on along, or go alone,He's come to take his children home." - Robert Hunter (Grateful Dead), Uncle John's Band
"I love you as much as I love music." - Mr Bojangles
"I dont teach Harmonica, I teach music." - Rustom Karva, my music teacher
"Music is nothing separate from me. It is me...You'd have to remove the music surgically." - Ray Charles
As usual, feel free to add to the music (this list) and have a good weekend!

Monday, March 12, 2007

My Weekend

It involved 2 night outs and 3 'art enjoyment' activities. While the night outs were about the usual spirited activities, the 'art enjoyment' activities are more worthy of a mention here.

Activity No. 1 - 'A clever exchange of letters' or 'When Mr. Shaw and the Shah's came together'
The ever enthusiastic friend (one who watched Black Friday twice) had booked the tickets almost a couple of weeks in advance for Naseeruddin Shah & Ratna Pathak Shah's rendition of Jerome Kilty's 'Dear Liar', a play based on the letters between the great George Bernard Shaw and the actress Mrs Patrick Campbell.
Despite having married lives of their own, the two had an affair for a while but their letters extended beyond that 'for a while' fact, till Mrs Campbell's death. Mrs Campbell was the one who made Shaw's famous creation 'Eliza Doolittle' on the stage at the ripe age of 49 (Phew! Can you imagine?). The sophisticated and very clever English of Mr Shaw (most consider him as the greatest writer of the Queen's language after Shakespeare) and a mind blowing performance of the Shahs makes this play, one of the finest I have seen. One just has to observe the way Mr Shah grows old with the passage of time to realize his acting genius. Don't miss this one, even if you haven't read anything by GBS...I have just read one play.

Activity no. 2 - 'A Musical Puzzle' or 'When Bach meets Beatles'
My good friend was gifted this beautiful audio CD by his music teacher and thats how I got to hear it. Those acquainted with both the styles of music can only begin to imagine whats inside that CD. Performed by a contemporary American pianist, John Bayless, the beautiful melodies of 'The Beatles' starts to sound pretty much like the soft, quick and short flow of 'The Art of Fugue'. The most interesting aspect of this collection is the puzzle part of's a while (even for a die-hard fan like me) before you get the drift of the song, Mr Bayless is playing. And when you get it, it's one of those little blissful moments. If you are interested in solving this puzzle, put up your mail IDs and I shall mail a few tracks after removing the track's name.

Activity No. 3 - 'Revisiting Water in the theater'
Deepa Mehta's finest effort so far was a delight on the big screen. Stunning visuals, a great soundtrack, tight performances from Sarla (plays the little Chuhiya) / often unsung Seema Biswas and the hope (and hence tears) inducing climax makes this one a must for anybody who digs movies. The ubiquitous yet subtle presence of Gandhi throughout the movie is beautifully executed. Thank you, Ms Mehta!