Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Of opinions and Bollywood.

Here's the thing. It has probably been ingrained in every upper -middle-class Indian's head that Bollywood is the epitome of mainstream, and that it's meant to be detested. The invariable conversation starter, and the final resort to save a lifeless not to mention an awkward confabulation - Bollywood. And I'm referring to the new age plethora of forgettable Hindi films.

"Oh she just can't act!"

"Can't stand him. Kaise ban gaya actor?"

"I think that film was a total rip-off."

"The movie had some potential but the story fell flat. Pch."

Though these are a few snatches from a typical house party banter , I think the most pathetic one till date is the last one. It saddens me to hear to constantly hear the word potential tagged to Bollywood movies. On one hand, a banal plot line (or the lack of one, usually) can hardly qualify as potential. On the other, there are those films that just seem to have it all - a good plot, a good cast, good dialogues - technically speaking the film is right there, waiting eagerly to be appreciated, but that annoying yet extremely significant X factor seems to be amiss. That's when 'it is' turns into an 'it-could-have-been'. It is tragic, considering all that potential slowly fades into oblivion, only to be known as crap.

You seldom find a  Bollywood film, that makes you want to sit and ponder long after the film is over. Or one which makes you sigh in the end with the thought that three worthwhile hours of reel have finally come to an end and that it's time to greet the real and cacophony instead of background music. Even if one does come long, it usually gets lost in a sea of mind numbing mediocrity that includes many  Munnis, Sheilas, Dabaangs, Gundaays and the like.

Ah well, I'm done with my preamble. I finally managed to watch a movie that sort of defies the above said things. "Highway" was a breath of fresh air, with the perfect blend of simple yet excellent cinematography, a minimal yet great cast, soulful music and above all moments that were poignant enough to replay constantly in my head long after the film was over. I'm not here, however, to delve into details and provide an in-depth movie review. I think there are way too many of those on the internet. But of course, if you were to sit and analyse the script, there would be flaws, as it seems from the lack of a staunch plot. However, the film itself is along the lines of an introspective journey, which isn't about reaching the final destination. I suppose the whole point was to just enjoy various delightful aspects of the film, rather than being a Freytag stickler for a good story-line.

My sister and I barely spoke on the way back home. It took a while for me to come back to the ennui of a hot February afternoon. Right then, I got a call from a friend, and I'm still figuring as to what exactly got me all choked up on the phone instead of sticking to my customary "What's up?". I guess it was a classic case of post-movie feel. In that case, hats off to Imitiaz Ali, the director of the film.

I'm glad that there are such Bollywood films to look forward to, bordering along parallel cinema. There is going to be an eternal bunch of ravenous critics of course, waiting eagerly to pounce on every blip and glitch in a film, and probably write it off entirely with the paradigmatic use of "the plot falls flat" phrase. Well, each to his own.

If you happen to be one of them, do take this one lightly. "Highway" has made use of all that potential, collecting dust under the red carpet.



Saturday, 15 February 2014

Pictures in my mind

There are times when I open my blog feeling inspired, but then end up staring blankly at this box because inspiration seems to have disappeared in the blink of an eye, or isn't there to begin with because it probably must have been something I imagined.

Frankly, I'm not inspired to write today. I am writing because I feel like I should, and I am hoping I will get some inspiration along the way.

The year has begun on a tedious note, with academics and more academics, and one messed up entrance examination for a Masters degree in IIT (something which I had been looking forward to since the past six months). I know I'm beating myself over it;  I feel regretful and disappointed. I should have worked harder. I should have done this. I should have done that.
And these thoughts run a vicious cycle.

Sometimes, I wonder what is it that attracts to me to this institute. Is it the prestige? Its grand campus? Or the course structure? The crowd? I can picture myself studying there, but does the picture truly hold any meaning? Is it another chunk of my whims and fancies? I would like to say I don't know because it's convenient, but I do know. Let that be a secret.

Three months ago, I indulged in a counselling session with Mum. Yes, she was the counselor, and a good one that too. For those two hours, it wasn't my mother who addressed me. It was a counselor who had a third person perspective regarding my career and interests. We spoke about what worried me the most. I remember talking about dropping Biotechnology as a career option, and instead opt for a media-related field, something along the lines of photojournalism. And then began the tumult of questions.

"Why are you confused?"

"What appeals to you more?"

"What made you think about this?"

"Have you jotted down the pros and cons of both options?"

"How do you picture yourself in each field?

"Do you see yourself enjoying the field you've chosen?"

The first three questions seemed pretty straightforward, but the latter got me thinking. Imagining. Picturing. Maybe, the picture I had in my head wasn't going to be the real thing. I mean, it felt great (it still does) to see myself as a photographer, waltzing with a camera in hand and clicking pictures on-the-go . The flip side being monotony, extensive travelling, low stipends, and lack of creativity on a daily basis, was hard to picture. Not to mention, unpleasant to analyse. And yet the real thing is a mix of both. I just liked the former.

I had a stereotyped image of a career in biotechnology. I think I still do. I'm not too fond of wet labs, and research is something that doesn't appeal to me. On the other hand,  I haven't explored the field, and sticking to the stereotype seems to be a more convenient option.

I find myself asking the same question each day. What is it that I really want? Am I scared of flip sides and cons? Do I expect too much out of everything and everyone? Or do I just prefer seeing those pictures that I want to see?

One reads stories, hears rumors, swallows what the Internet has to say,  absorbs opinions flying around, or probably gets influenced by others, that invariably creates a slideshow of scenes in one's head. What are these scenes? Do they reflect the actual circumstance? Probably not.

Then again imagination always runs wild. It maybe positive. It could be negative. Rationality is something else altogether. And where imagination is, illusion exists. Illusions are unidirectional. Almost dreams.

"All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” 
- Edgar Allan Poe