Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ship of Theseus - A review

Ship of Theseus...

I had wanted to write many things about this movie in the initial two days after watching it. But now, when I finally got the time and setting to do it, I am trying to find what those thoughts were.

So here goes..

This movie has a lot to offer being of a different breed. It differs by miles from the mainstream movies anyway, and even from the parallel movies it differs in very subtle manners.

Outright, if you ask me if its an art movie, I would say yes and No. It does have the usual technicalities and stretching phenomenon common with all art movies. But then the packaging seems to have been done a bit differently to make it appear on the left side of the scroll bar of art films. The promotions and advertisements too have been done via social media, thereby taking away a portion of the anonymity that art movies usually get released under.

A proper promotion ensured that huge crowds of intellectuals,pseudo-intellectuals,art movie lovers, general movie lovers and general population also turned out to see what this movie is all about. The cities where the movie was to be released were selected based on social media voting on various platforms like Twitter and Facebook. A bonus for social media in generating the right image of the audience and their expectations.

140 minutes long, this movie seems quite long and unprocessed at parts, whereas many parts takes your breath away. Anyway, as with any movie which involves concepts and symbolization, the interpretation and level of enjoyment varies from person to person.

I would like to touch upon the general topic of the movie without giving any spoiler alert. Most of these you would get to know anyway from the trailers, so I believe I am not doing any injustice to the makers of the movie.

The movies is a stitch-up of three stories;stories of three different people in three different situations going through some life changing moments of their lives. The philosophical question underlying the movie is shared to the audience in the  beginning, probably to set them thinking on the same lines as the makers of the movie. There is no principle or concept, just a logical question which can be applied to anything in life and metamorphosed into various dimensions according to your intellectual interests.

The first story is of a girl who is blind from childhood who takes up photography after she loses sight. It is a mind blowing concept, watching her use voice recognition in her camera and photo editing tools to create amazing works of art. She is portrayed as being a famous photographer with her own exhibits, but is not at peace with the world. Her husband, who helps her by giving comments and reviews of her photos gets into constant arguments stemmed out of her frustration at something. Its a pleasure watching her figure out subjects around her just by using sound and clicking very profound images. Then we are told that she is getting her eyes operated and new implants from some donor are fit. She is dying with anxiety to see the works of her which she hated, but was appreciated by all. Like a child, she goes through all the works she has done from her childhood, breaking into tears realizing the enormity of the work she has done unwares. Soon she is on the same streets trying to recapture the same feelings and images, this time with eyes. But after many attempts, she realizes that something is missing and this breaks her down completely.
 She travels to get motivation for her work and the story ends when she finally comes to peace with the hard truth. That truth is something that I was personally able to relate to and I felt completely satisfied at her discovery.

The story moves onto Maitreya, a Jain monk who fights against cruelty to animals in various labs. He takes upon major cosmetic companies and is a champion of simple life. One fine day he is diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and it moves to an advanced stage soon. Doctors advice him to take medicines, but having seen the kind of animal testing done behind the medicines prescribed to him, he rejects medication and chooses to embrace death instead. The story slowly moves across various frames of his wandering, his followers, his daily life and so on. But the most engaging and interesting parts are his intellectual debates with a friend, even in his death bed. These exchanges cover all the philosophical reasoning and motivations that drive Maitreya while making the audience chuckle and laugh at the humorous puns and jibes. It keeps the movie away from the intellectual and philosophical boredom that affects such scenarios. The end of this story was questionable and left us in wonder and it took hours after the movie to be put aside.

The last story is more non exotic in nature. Its about a Marwadi stock broker who is shown as getting his kidney transplanted  He is shown as someone tied to his work, carrying his PC(mind it, not even a laptop) even to the hospital room to continue his work. His grandmother is a social activist who constantly prods him for his hunger to make money and lack of interest in being more humane. In the hospital premises he witnesses the plight of a poor family that discovers that the kidney of its sole bread earner has been stolen by some doctors in a previous surgery. Already hurt by the remarks of his grandmother, this sparks something in him to set out on a journey to track down the source of this theft and try to get the rightful owner his kidney back. His pursuit takes him to the nefarious underbelly of the medical mafia, crowded slums and even goes international to track down the massive mafia. He also has a stocky friend who keeps the humour flowing, keeping the audience's interest very much up. With some interesting moments of realizations and setbacks, his story is about the spark that  normal people get and how he reacted to it. An activist is born in him that day.

Overall the movie charms and makes up for some of its boring sequences,shots and dialogues when you consider the plot, the concept and the use of good humour to maintain the flow. The end has the answer to many questions, but raises far more questions for the audience to ruminate upon.  The other highlights of this movie is the attention given to the sounds, the depth of dialogues and the wonderful camera work. But in these days of amazing cinematography in mainstream movies, there is nothing remarkable in that department.

 I rate this movie 8.3/10. Go and watch it, you lovers of good quality movie. Let this spur on many such efforts.. Kudos to Anand Gandhi, Neeraj Kabi and Kiran Rao, among others..

Read the wiki link about the making of the movie
(all image copyrights are with their rightful owners, and images obtained from google images)

the lazy cat meows

sitting alone in my bed in our empty apartment I wonder how different my life has been from the people I see around me.

Though I am not from a very exquisite variety, the simple variations and differences that don't get appreciated in every group is what makes me unique.

The uniqueness of my character is often to my advantage, or so I believe always. But sometimes the obvious disadvantage of alienation and difficulty in connecting can be troublesome.
But as an experienced handler of situations, these just disappear.

The slightly different stroke of colours on this cat has given it a completely different life altogether.

I was reading this essay titled "What you can't say" from the much celebrated book "Hackers & Painters" yesterday night before bed. It talks about things that are considered taboo in some societies and eras whereas it is the norm in others. The essay cleverly traverses questions of the assumed morality that every era and every society wears as a mask on itself. I don't remember if I got to a point where the author asks anything to be done about it, but still a walk through the jungle of social customs is something every intellectual,every nerd, every wallflower and every introvert would have gone through.

hmmm I wonder if the previous adjectives are mutually exclusive or just inaccurate labels of people from the same pool.

As the certified "thinking idiot" around here, I can't help thinking on these silly things as well. Every simple thing around has to go through the machinery of thought process that my head dictates. Take it or leave it, it says to those who want me to change or tell me to not think about something when it has to be done with seriousness and passion. And who doesn't appreciate the pleasure of ruminating on crazy ideas that border creativity but usually get labelled as ramblings? Well, it must be those who want immediate results from the creative fellas,  but can't spare them their space or peace. Move over, give some space! duh..

well, with that junk unloaded from my head, I can focus on writing the real articles that I was targeting from weeks ..with all the tough schedules of relentless journey into the distant wooods.. which reminds me of the famous line from Robert Frost..

“These woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

I always felt these lines were pure blasphemy, but still liked and promoted people who went by it (studies have found that such people are quite sensitive in nature)

These lines are exactly those of a person tied to his/her responsibilities very tightly. On the outside such people seem heroic and morally 'correct'. But in a context where the morality of every action is to be considered w.r.t the reaction it causes, such lines of blind faith in ones' duties are troublesome.

Duties are a difficult thing to comprehend. Everyone accomplishes some or the other duties in their lives. I can write thousands of confusing lines and zig-zag thoughts can be generated about duties and rights. But here, I would just like to reflect upon one fact that duty is of two types. One is self imposed and the other is imposed by the society. Most of the people mix the two and usually the latter decides completely what the former is. But those of the readers who would have taken up duties onto themselves without any social beckoning would know what I am talking about. It is a nectar whose taste is unparalleled and no glorified duty handed down even by Lord Devendra's father Muthupattar would match the satisfaction it provides.

And to me, the woods which are so lovely,dark and deep, are naturally occurring duties. Not for sleeping in, but to live in. No promise, no responsibility and no duty is higher than being right to your conscience. Everything else vanishes into thin air in its unquestionable superiority.

And a thoughtful Dilbert piece to finish off the ramblings..

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

an unexpected tryst with art

I had been to the art exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art last weekend, with some friends. It was an unplanned engagement and we didn't know what was in store for us.
The original purpose was to visit some of Rabindranath Tagore's works of art titled "The Last Harvest".
But at the rate of Rs. 10/- per ticket we were able to view all the other standard exhibits also. The art gallery complex is very big and sprawls across many large halls and buildings. Students are charged a nominal fee of Re.1/-(can you believe that?).
The sprawling campus of the National Gallery of Modern Arts, Palace Road

Inside, the paintings, sculptures and a few other stuff which I don't know the names of were in display with appropriate lighting schemes, name plates, arrangement and layouts. The uniformed guards in the various sections were very courteous and made sure no one missed any piece of exhibit and sometimes gave some tit-bits of info when queried.

A section named "Homelands" was the first and it was hosted by the British Council. None of us bothered to read the descriptions and just barged in, just to be met with cryptic exhibits. But soon I started recognizing patterns in the photos. The exhibit claims to portray the theme , "A 21st century story of home, away and all the places in between". It contains pictures of dilapidated shacks, age-old mansions, small tents and crude huts against their natural backgrounds. Another exhibit contained a prayer mat with a compass in the centre which probably helped face towards Mecca. Some interesting exhibits covered the question of who is a resident, who is an immigrant and who really is owner of the lands. I find arts exhibitions interesting because the artists go through a lot of effort to bring out some idea or concept that usually is easily missed or ignored by the general population.

Another exhibit in the "Homelands" section had three large displays on the wall with three videos running simultaneously on them with headphones hung around for visitors to tune into. The subject was the conversations between three generations of women. Grandmother talks to daughter, daughter talks to granddaughter and finally grandmother talks to granddaughter, all in French. Though the content of their speech was indecipherable, it was clear the the exhibit wanted to capture the essence of conversations between a mother and a daughter and to signify the resemblances and differences across various generations.

But my favourite exhibit in this section was where various sheets were stuck on the walls which contained voice prints and English sentences alongside. Initially it made no sense to us and we started making random guesses. The mention of "Southern Sami" made me realize that each sheet represented one language and Sami was an endangered tribe that I was aware of. It took me some more time to register these were extinct or near-extinct languages. That discovery brought a lot of respect for the exhibit in us. What we saw were the last possible voice imprints of languages that would have been spoken somewhere for centuries. It even had a wonderful film screening where various dialogues from these languages were recorded, either in normal speech or lullabies. And they were with English subtitles wherever possible. It still gives me the goosebumps to recall the feeling of hearing a language that no one speaks now. It might sounds gibberish to us, but probably the languages I speak would sound the same to someone down the ages and this thought excites me.

I found an online atlas of endangered languages compiled by UNESCO, and found it be quite exhaustive. The data it presents is grim.
Then we followed onto the main exhibit of Rabindranath Tagore, which I didn't really appreciate much owing to his naive involvement in the business of painting. I don't care much what someone would have had in his head when drawing something unimpressive, even if its someone great as Tagore. But a Tagore fan among us was enjoying every single stroke with oohs and aahs. But to give some credits where they are due, some of Tagore's later works were quite impressive to even my untrained eyes and we spent quite a lot of time reinterpreting his thoughts and possibilities of mistakes just to irk the Tagore fan friend of ours.
There were many exhibits which are probably permanent ones from prominent artists, which are quite engaging and powerful in nature.

Overall it was fun and sent me back to the artistic corner after ages. The sense of comfort and the lack of it hits one in all its duality in such conditions :)

cheers to arts :D

Monday, July 08, 2013

Dayalu Ammal and the 2G scam - a scene out of the movies?

The news about Dayalu Ammal and her appeal to not be brought before court seems normal on the outset. An aging lady trying to be exempted from having to travel long distances and involving in legal hassles.

But given the machinery of politics and legal power play involved in the background, my CID mind starts spinning..
Lady in trouble?
An aging lady who has “abrasive behaviour, clumsy habit with sudden hitting or punching people, inappropriate talk and action and inability to take care of day-to-day activities"  but has been alleged to be involved in the key meetings where the agreements were signed. That sounds like a conspiracy to me.
But I have no way of knowing the truth.

If it is a conspiracy to prevent her statements, and if the appeal is approved, then it would be a major win to the people behind the 2G scam.

Anyway more than the possibilities of an aging lady getting involved in dirty underbelly of family politics, I am interested in the mindset of the legal setup in the country. The way things can be twisted, or made to look innocent to the public is an art. Its the art of deception, and as old as the earliest settled man! :)

chew on that..