The Good, the Bad and the Sholay – 2015

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The Good, the Bad and the Sholay‘s Kalaa Utsavam run just ended two days ago. I wrote the play at an emotionally tumultuous time in college, when very little was making sense and I was still grappling with what I want to do with myself. Writing was cathartic and rewarding, and it became my refuge.

Unexpectedly, I seem to still have some of the same fears and insecurities I had back then, and it was only when we were finally in the theatre that I allowed myself to confront those devils. In rehearsal, you focus on the details, on the creation of drama, on characters and blocking – all the things that make a great show. But when you’re finally in the theatre, with an audience, breathing with you, anticipating, expecting, joyous – there is nothing more to create. All that’s left is to give up your defences and watch. I cried at very unexpected times, surprising myself with how affected I (still) am.

I am really drained now. I have to be honest with myself – my whole body is overwhelmingly tired from the mental, emotional, physical exhaustion of the past few weeks. When friends have asked me how I feel – tired has been my only, helpless reply.

But it’s now two days since, and I’ve had some redeeming sleep. I finally have energy enough to reflect a little.

It’s been good. It was good to have an unmoving document of who I used to be when I was 19, and to be forced to reinvestigate it. I found myself understanding myself better because of it. I’ve grown up so much in many ways, and in many ways I’m more unabashedly childish than I was then. Both have been good to understand. Both are important because I can be more knowingly comfortable in my own skin – as an artist and collaborator.

My notebook details times when I have managed to get the better of myself. Never before have I managed to be so boundless in patience, energy and optimism. Even when my whole being was terrified, or angry, or just plain dumbfounded, I somehow managed to keep calm and composed, somehow kept putting one foot in front of the other. At the end of it all, knowing that I pulled through is giving me a lot of contentment.

And confidence too. Confidence that I have it in me to keep plugging away. Bua said once, casually – “What do you mean you have no energy? One always has energy.” That’s been very true. I really have had infinite energy (which I’m paying for now, with infinite sleepiness).

The team of 8 wonderful actors who gave the play so much – looking back, I can’t believe my luck. So many random, fortunate things had to happen for that particular group of people to join forces in the rehearsal room, and it’s been such a particularly special process because of it. I haven’t had it in me to convey properly how grateful, indebted I am for their love and labor. This was a huge project for me – my (inner?) life is at a crucial crossroads – and it meant the world to me to be able to depend on their talent, their generosity, and their sense of humour. Poo-rub. Julie, Deborah, Chanel, Xin Xuan, Ghafir, Thomas, Pavan, Kubhaer – thank you all so very much.

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A lot of my life was on stage this past weekend. I’m very grateful that my family was able to come and watch. Maanavi was there, missing classes. (the beautiful photos in this post were taken by her). Ragini was there, missing an exam! I’m also so thankful for the wonderful friends I am fortunate to have, who came and watched and were there, smiling and with hugs at the ready when it ended. It’s a strange thing – because it is in the nature of this work that it is only worth it if friends and family can watch it, and enjoy it. Which is why I so sorely missed family in Delhi and Mumbai who weren’t able to come, and who might not end up reading this either. In person, I will probably not be able to tell them how much I wished they were here. Just like I wasn’t able to tell my friends who didn’t come how much I missed them…

At the moment – I’m just really, really happy. Happy to have worked on this play, worked with people I respect, admire and love, and worked so so hard. And happy also that the work was received well by friends, family and audiences in general.

Meanwhile, the world will keep spinning, and I will move on to another project too soon. I just hope that when the next thing I do comes out, I am able to say the same things – that I made no compromises, that I worked myself to the ground, that I worked with wonderful people, that I was able to share it with my loved ones, and that I am happy.

Onwards.

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Reading Godfrey Reggio’s Interview about his film “Visitors”

Here’s the link: http://www.filmcomment.com/blog/interview-godfrey-reggio/

I haven’t watched the film yet, so this is quite a difficult read.

Some memorable quotes:

  1. Q: All your films have felt like emotional warnings, more or less to the effect that we’d better learn to be human, to be gentle, while there’s still time—it’s a “Look, let’s get serious” message.A: Yeah, it is. And as you say, I’ve had that “message” through all the work I’ve done. I can see Visitors as a requiem.
  2. I was out at the gorilla exhibit in the Bronx Zoo for almost three weeks, a mind-blowing experience. Literally tens of thousands of people came to see the gorillas. It’s a very popular site. We had to shoot on a platform above the crowds. People go nuts trying to get the gorillas to go nuts! It’s unbelievable.
  3. It dealt with “isms”: scratch the surface and there’s an “ism” within us all. It was to be an anarchic, comedic piece dealing with the ideology of books, flags, walls, and screens…
  4. I couldn’t get anything more than a documentary amount of money—about a million dollars. I know it sounds ridiculous to refuse so much money, but I knew how to budget what I wanted to do, and I didn’t want to shoot a doc.
  5. The camera is showing us something our eyes can’t see. I’m told our first dreams come in black and white. A lot of words go into creating the shooting script of a film like this, deciding on the point of view, getting everybody on the same page and into one breath, one heartbeat—but at the end of the day we’re making a pictorial composition, a syntax for the eye. It’s not about text; it’s about texture. Until the film is shot, it’s just on paper; once the film is shot, the paper goes out the window and we’re left with the material of the medium—the image-in-time—and that’s what we have to work with.

Things I would have liked to understand better:

  1. tattooed on the masonry that makes up “VISITORS” are at least six bullet holes. I came to feel that that’s really what we were, and are, “visitors,” and I liked the ubiquity of the word because you can interpret it in any way you wish.
  2. The last shot is a key to the autodidactic nature of Visitors: here we are, looking at a screen, and a screen is looking back at us. Throughout, the film has been about this reciprocal gaze. Also, I believe in bookends. As soon as you put a frame around anything that is (or is posing as) art, people have the propensity to conjure meaning, because of the limit that is offered. Beginning and ending with Triska is a kind of framing.

Read Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’s Real Story – Revealed

Rudolph the rednosed reindeer,
Had a very shiny nose.
And if they ever saw him,
They would let him know it blows.

So poor Rudolph was struggling
With a lot of anxiety
He never made any good friends
And barely went to any party.

Then one foggy Christmas eve,
Santa came to say,
“Rudolph, damn, your nose is so bright,
Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

But now it dawned on Rudolf,
That the other reindeers sucked –
And if he said no to Santa,
Then, well, Christmas is fucked.

How all the reindeers begged him,
All of them had families to feed.
And if dear Rudolph wanted,
He could be their friend in need.

But Rudolph still had much anger,
Which he really had to vent –
He struck a deal with Santa
That would make the bullies repent.

“This sleighing shit is weighing me down. This is no way to spend a holiday. So if I guide your sleigh tonight, fat man, I want – early retirement, the full pension package, and immediate online transfer of the next six months’ pay.”

Santa had no other option,
But to painfully agree.
He should have listened to HR
Stopped the bullying early.

So, Rudolph the rednosed reindeer,
Never went down in history.
But he gets a gift every Christmas,
At his house in Hawaii.

Dar Dar Ke

Atankwaadi toh chalo apna kaam kar rahe hain
Par aapne kyon dar ki dukaan lagaayi hai?
Jab dekho daraate rehte ho.

Ghar pe baithe rahoge toh rozi roti kaun kamaayega?
Par khaana baahar khaoge to pet kharaab ho jaayega.
Kadam baahar rakhe toh baarish se bachke.
Aur andar baitha raha to aalas se bachke.
Local le li toh choron se bachke
Aur gaadi le jaao toh police bachke.

Vaise bhrashtaachaar ne toh naak mein dam kar rakha hai.
Mantriyon ke haathon na ye desh hi bik jaayega.
Dange fasaad, ye scam, gareebi
Ye sookha, ye baad, ye sarkaari kaam ki dheemi raftaar –
Sab in netaaon ki buri niyat ka nateeja hai.
Hindu-Mussalman ka baer bhi inhone hi beeja hai.
Par sun, suna hai nayi sarkaar thodi… naarangi hai?
Aur, tujhe pata toh hai beta, aajkal
Bhindi kitni mehengi hai –
Toh aisa kar – khaali pet se dar.
Thodi ghoos … tu bhi kha le.
Behti Ganga toh maili ho chuki, beta
Tu bhi nahaa le.

Bhookh se dar, sarkar se dar.
Ameeron ke atyachaar se dar.
Begaari se dar. Bekaari se dar.
Hindu se dar. Muslim se dar.
Goron se dar. Kaalon se dar.
Khaana accha hai toh uske masaalon se dar.
Motaape se dar.
Mugabe se dar.
Kameenon se dar.
Haseenon se dar.
Vakeelon se dar.
Ghotaalon se dar.
Chautaalon se dar.
Kashmir mein dar. Geelani se dar.
Nani yaad aayi toh nani se dar.
Jawaani se dar. Budhaape se dar.
Chaaploosi se dar. Padosi se dar.
Gharwaalon se dar.
Sawaalon se dar.
Jawaabon se dar.
Neend aa jaaye toh khwaabon se dar.
Khwahishon se dar, aazaadi se dar.
Ghulaami se dar, aabaadi se dar.
Barbaadi se dar.
Shuruaat se dar, aur ant se bhi.
Faani se dar, anant se bhi.
Jeena toh padega, toh sun, aisa kar
Ke dar dar ke jee, aur jee bhar ke dar.

Aise hi kisi din,
Gar himmat ne saath diya
Toh dar ko bhool na jaaoon kaheen.
Ud na jaaoon kaheen.