Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shitty Shitty Bang Bang!

The text of this post is very gross. Please stay away, if, stuff of this kind offends you. Thank You!
I dedicate this post to all the public toilets of the world.
Shitting has always been a very personal thing for me( What a profound statement to make. Isn't it for everyone else too? Anyways.), so I got and still get, though with a lesser magnitude - worked up, when I got to know that the dorm in which I had moved in had a public toilet(4 toilets for 20 people, not a very bad ratio also, although that is a different story). I had never shared toilets before. I mean, even if I had, they were structurally different than this. The previous ones, were closed ones, and this has a cubicle of sorts, which throws up a wonderful prospect of people shitting together. Literally.
Isn't it strange when you are shitting, alongside there is a guy/girl who is also doing the same(Not every time, but generally most of the times). What would he be doing at this time? Dropping and feeling relieved?( how much relieved to be precise?), or waiting to feel relieved and singing some songs in anticipation?( Rafi's Aa Jaa Aa Jaa or Britney's Baby One More Time?), he might also be sleeping for all you know or wiping his ass? Horrendous pictures of tissues painted in various shades of yellow come to mind.
Shitting is not only a biological exercise for me, but also, a physical( I yawn very loudly in Hindi, stretch my muscles, cock my head, make all sounds of noise with remote bones in my body) and an emotional one too( Isn't it? You have the all time in world when you shit. You are at peace with yourself. Nowadays, with the increasingly busy life( don't I sound like a typically sex starved working middle aged frushtoo guy?) where does one get time to think for himself? for others? When I shit I think about things close to my heart, this is the time when I'm in my best moods and is generally accompanied by singing some song. Now, when you are shitting in your home, it doesn't matter how loudly/softly sing, neither does the talent of your vocal chords. But, when you are shitting in a public toilet, you can't sing. And that irritates me. It curbs your independence, it doesn't let you be you. I could have done that in India, but, how can I in United States? It has nothing to do with the quality of people, neither to do with the quality of the country. It has to do with the quality of songs. I mean imagine, me singing ' Sarkailiyo Khatiya/Takia/whatever Jaada lage' and the guy shitting beside me gets disturbed due to that. What will he do then? You never know. These Americans are dangerous. He might scoop his head out of the common wall underneath and say, " Dude, Stop that song of yours. It disturbs my bowel movement." Now, that won't be so good. On second thoughts, will he knock the common wall before scooping his head out?
And I've a weird habit of looking here and there while shitting( I mean all around, 360 degrees) and it is kind of strange, you can only watch a guy's shoe and some parts of his shorts covering his lower part of legs. It is kind of interesting to note what kind of footwear he is wearing, and also the color of his lowers. Some colours surely put me off( though they in anyway don't disturb my bowel movements), but that is what the thing is. Then, after few minutes you hear the sound the flush produces and you know this relationship is going to end. You kind of feel bad. But, hasn't someone wisely said, 'All things in life have to end'. Now, you come out, possibly an eye contact, which might suggest a lot of things; My God! You were there for a freaking half an hour, what were you up to? Or, Get yourself a nice pair of floaters before you even think of shitting again. Or, You used a lot of tissue today, I could make out that from the squealing of the tissue paper's stand.
On the contrary, you might not think any of these. May be, you just smile and say, "It was nice shitting with you."

The common Wall I described in my post!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fountainhead the movie fails

Originally written for The article has been originally published here.

First things first. People differ over what Fountainhead represents( whether it is right or wrong) and an endless debate is ensued over this fact, I don’t want to get into any of that. I intend to talk only about ‘Fountainhead the movie’.

What was strikingly different from the novel is the depth of characterization. In the novel’s beginning, you could feel for Roark’s frustration when he laughs sitting on the cliff or his indifference to everyone to the extent that he saw no one walking in the street so much so that he could have walked naked beyond concern. That is the relationship (love or loathe) one forms with Howard Roark in the first two pages of the novel. You can feel Roark’s frustration when he is sitting in the dean’s offixe and is being unfailingly persuaded by the dean. The dialogues between the dean and the student are fantastic.( Agreed, they are filmy and a bit impractical, but, so is the whole of premise of the novel, if you may so please). The dean is furious that Howard is unapologetic, the dean can’t believe that the name ‘Stanton’ can’t shake his will, that for the first time he has encountered someone who considers an individual above the institution, that the person who is going to expel the student feels more clueless than the student who is being expelled.

Contrary to the novel, the movie begins quite abruptly with Howard being in the dean’s office and he says that he will have to expel him. For someone, who might have not read the novel would take some seconds to gather, relax what’s happening? There is no conflict of ideas between the Neo and the established, between the unconventional man and the conventional world, no groundwork has been set, you don’t feel Roark’s stubbornness neither do you see Dean’s helplessness. And that was the beauty of the novel I feel. I mean, for a second, f**k all talk about Objectivism and everything, whether you buy it or not is inconsequential. What matters is every character in the novel was beautifully etched, and you could have easily said that I hate/love this character. There is no such feeling in the movie. And that, I feel is the problem of the movie. That it never goes deep into the psyche of the characters and just sets it up on the screen. Probably for the heCk of it. Everything happens in a daze, in a nonsensixal hurried fashion that makes you sit and wonder – what’s up with the pace? And that is my grievance with the film, that it doesn’t do justice to the novel. Now, some people might say they that had they gone into the history or detailing of every character the movie itself would have been too long. Yes. I agree there too, because if you go on to do full justice to the novel the movie could well be more than three hours long which would have been a torture in itself( or may be not. Who know? Gone with the wind, Lagaan, Sholay were all more than 210 minutes long!). Also, the characters in the novel are such that they are difficult to portray on screen. It is practically impossible to take out each and every detail from a book and incorporate that into a movie. I agree. Successful adaptations of the ‘Mystic River’, ‘The Godfather’ bolster this point.

So, my point is ‘The Fountainhead’ shouldn’t have been made into a movie. At least not the way they made it. Gary Cooper fails miserably as the ‘hero’. Or, may be anyone who will play Howard Roark will fail. Because, the image that people have come to associate with Howard Roark is difficult to fathom. Isn’t it difficult to portray someone who didn’t exist? Someone who will not exist?

Gary Cooper lacks conviction while delivering his lines, may be didn’t understand most of it. (he wanted the courtroom speech to be curtailed because he was finding it difficult to memories and understand most of the lines). When Cooper (Roark) refuses the commission for a bank, his ‘No’ is a flat. It lacks the authority. When Howard Roark says ‘No’ I expect it to spit fire on screen, the ‘No’ should spit venom, have the stamp of authority and pummel the man conversing him in such an ignominy that it makes a mockery of anyone who is even thinking of trying to convince Roark . When Henry Cameroon says on his death bed, Do you want to have a similar fate like me, Cooper’s ‘Yes’ is again non- authoritative. May be I’m expecting too much? May be I’m being a bit too judgmental? May be yes, because I almost adored the novel, the power of Rand’s writing blew me and compared to that the movie was pale. The main thing about Rand’s writing is you can either love her or hate her. She doesn’t allow you to tread a middle path, but, after watching the movie my emotions didn’t tilt towards any extreme (which certainly did while reading the novel). I was plain indifferent and disappointed.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Manorma Six Feet Under: A Six Pack sexy movie!

Originally written for - The artixle has been originally published here.

If you go by the 'white is white, black is black' definition of right and wrong, then Manorma Six Feet Under is a copy of Chinatown. And it kind of bothered me a wee bit before I sat down watching it. But, not after that. Not even a wee bit. I had not seen Chinatown by that time. And I chanced to see Chinatown couple of days later, and my admiration of Manorma Six Feet increased further. Albeit inspired (or copied, or whatever), this is a good movie. No doubt.

The movie opens in a Rajasthan, where the land is as thirsty for water as is the protagonist (Abhay Deol playing Satyaveer) thirsty for recognition, success. The vast, dry land as a backdrop make for good visuals. In particular, the scenes where the protagonist is shown driving his vehicle. Simple. Captivating. SV, an engineer by profession, a pulp novelist by passion is finding it difficult to get his life moving courtesy a nagging wife, an unsuccessful job.

One day, he meets Sarika and she gives a purpose to his humdrum life. He has to click some photos for her, so that she may be able to blackmail her 'politician' husband and which may facilitate the process of divorce for her. SV soon comes to know that things are not as straight forward as he thought they were. Speeding one night on the highway, he meets her again. She is very panicky and says something to him. The next morning he reads the paper. She is dead. And she was not the wife of Chief Minister. SV is obviously startled by this sudden revelation and wants to put to rest all the confusion.

The movie moves at a good pace initially, fully in control, holding the viewer's interest, scenes tend to merge into one another comfortably. However, somewhere in the middle (and that is the movie's negative point), the movie becomes painfully slow. Everything ceases to happen. You feel you can go take a cold drink from your fridge, reply to your friend's scrap, send an SMS or two and still it won't affect you. Not very thriller like, you would want to say. May be the comatose pace in between is intentional, it contrasts well with the full of twists, exciting and a good paced climax. The sudden change of gears takes you aback. The movie's climax is icing on the cake. It moves swiftly and makes you question your judgment about every character. No one is 'noir' here in the literal sense; the grayness of the character makes a compelling climax.

Performance wise, Abhay Deol carries the movies on his shoulders. I was never a fan of Abhay Deol. But, after watching 'Socha Na Tha' and 'MSFU' in a space of two weeks, I am now. He may not be the next big thing in boll wood, but he is here to stay. In this movie, he plays the role of a frustrated man to a T. the frustration is there, you can feel it. It never comes out though, but you think it can. Anytime. That is the beauty of the character and the way Abhay Deol has portrayed it. In the movie, the guy may be 25, but looks like 35, and acts like 45. Sarika lights up the screen every time she appears and sparkles in a small role. Kulbhushan Kharbhanda has nothing special to offer, Vinay Pathak doesn't disappoint. Raima Sen is not breathtaking, but she is not bad either to spoil the movie. Gul Panag could have been a tad better with her pronunciations. I liked the way she pronounces 'Editor' as 'A-Dee-tur' in her first scene but after that her pronunciation is a bit polished for comfort. She acts pretty well though, something I was pleasantly surprised at. Background music is superb. It is slow, subtle and is faithful to the movie's pace.

This movie might not be a Chinatown. And somewhere down the line, I think the makers of MSFU knew that. Albeit an inspired story, the execution is top class. A good movie. A good tribute to a good movie. Polanski would be happy to see Manorma Six Feet Under.