I’ve a reason to be happy about my Autumn Leaves video. It has already received over 4,900 visitors and been favorited 38 times .
Today, one Rainmanontour flattered me saying this was ‘best video ever!’ Thank you Rainmanontour.
I didn’t know what to do that night. So, I went on the roof and started shooting wild flowers. That’s it. Nothing to boast about it. I think it’s getting visitors because of the soundtrack- Autumn Leaves, Miles Davis & Cannonball Adderley.
February 29, 2008
I’ve a reason to be happy about my Autumn Leaves video. It has already received over 4,900 visitors and been favorited 38 times .
After a very long gap, I’m listening to Hindi songs today.
Actually I chanced upon sansoko sanso mein dhalne do zara while returnin home last night… love that song (the film too)… and decided to randomly listen to my brother’s favourite hindi songs collection…
I’m only listening and not doing anything else… But I dozed off after two or three songs. Do I need to say I’ve stopped listening to new Nepali music (not all though). Most of them are crap. But I do listen to old gazalu ti and yeutaa bhool garey maile period songs now and then…
Isn't it funny those who hate Madhesi leaders and Prime Minister speaking in Hindi love to sing the Hindi songs?
Two of my favourite songs:
Nadiya k paar- Kaun na disa mein le k chhala re
Abhadoot Gupte- Khamakha
After playing a football match for the first time (yes- a football match), we just wanted to get back some breathes. And empty mind is Sabin’s workshop, you know… Here is his translation, while I was somewhere doing push ups, push ins and finding right moves to inject in the right place!
Koi jab tumhara hridaya tod de in English
When someone breaks your heart
When someone leaves you in pain
Come to me, my dear, then
My doors are open and will always be for you
When someone breaks your heart
Right now you don’t need me
You can get lovers many
Right now you are ocean of beauty
As many lotuses as you want will flower in
When the mirror starts to scare you
And your beauty starts to deceive you
Come to me, my dear, then
I bow my head and will always bow to you
When someone breaks your heart
When someone leaves you in grief
There are no preconditions in love
But you love in your terms
When stars glinted in your eyes for a while
You began to quell every clay-lamps in your sight
When you fall down in your own eyes
When you hem in your own nights
Come to me, my dear, then
This lamp is burning and will always be for you
When someone breaks your heart
When someone leaves you in pain
Feb 29, 08
Translation of the hindi lyrics from Purab Aur Pachhim
February 28, 2008
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala (centre) addresses the nation after signing the eight-point deal with the United Democratic Madhesi Front at Baluwatar in the capital on Thursday. Maoist Chairman Prachanda, UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar
Photograph Narendra Shrestha © Kantipur Publications
Here is the full text of the agreement between the Nepal Government and United Democratic Madhesi Front. This is the unofficial translation of the ‘historic’ agreement. UDMF leader Thakur hailed the agreement as the first step towards regaining the lost glory of Madhes.
Agreement between the
The following agreement has been reached between the Nepal government and the United Democratic Madhesi Front honouring the people’s aspirations and wishes put forward by the Madhesi people of Nepal during the regular protests and agitation to ensure equality, freedom and justice to every citizen across the country and to ensure Nepal as a federal republican democratic state with multi-party democracy system for government by ending all forms of discrimination effective immediately.
- The government will declare martyrdom for those killed during the Madhes agitation and provide proper compensation for the injured who haven’t been compensated yet. Similarly, expenses will be provided for treatment for those injured during the agitation, one million rupees will be provided as compensation to the family of those killed during the agitation and those arrested will be released immediately.
will be a federal republican democratic state by accepting the wish of the Madhesi people for an autonomous Madhes state and wish of people of other regions for a autonomous state with federal structure. There will be distinct power sharing between the centre and the region in the federal structure on the basis of list. The regions will have complete autonomy and authority. The elected Constituent Assembly will devise a way to apply the formation of such states and the rights attributed to the region and the centre while keeping national sovereignty, unity and integrity intact. Nepal
- The current 20 percent legal provision mentioned in Article 7, sub-article 14 of the Constituent Assembly Member Election Act-2054 will be increased to 30 percent.
- The government will compulsory appoint, promote and nominate Madhesi, indigenous communities, women, Dalits, backward areas and minority communities to ensure proportional participation in security bodies and all organs of the state.
- The entry of Madhesi and other groups into the Nepal Army will be ensured to give the army a national and inclusive structure.
- The government along with the UDMF urged all armed agitating groups in the Terai to join the peaceful political process and come to talks to resolve all problems. The
government will take immediate steps to create a favourable environment for the same. We appeal everyone to conduct the April 10 elections in a peaceful, fair, non-violent and terror-free manner. Nepal
government will immediately implement the agreement reached with the Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) on August 13 last year including releasing those under police detention, dismissing cases against MRPF leaders and activists. Nepal
- All the agitation programmes called by the UDMF will be immediately withdrawn.
The Nepal Government will be responsible for the constitutional, legal, political and administrative (aspects) of the above mentioned subjects. The government will form a high-level monitoring committee comprising government and UDMF representatives to implement the agreement.
The following signed the agreement:
Rajendra Mahato, National Chairman, Sadbhavana Party
Upendra Yadav, Central Coordinator, Madhesi People’s Rights Forum
Mahantha Thakur, Chairman, Terai-Madhes Democratic Party
Girija Prasad Koirala, Prime Minister, Nepal Governemnt
February 27, 2008
Mumbai, February 27, 2008
Neelesh Misra, Hindustan Times
They are all over Bollywood – in their dark glasses and business casuals, making offers you cannot refuse.
Not the new mafia, they are Bollywood’s new corporate honchos, the new age producers transforming the movie industry. And from two opposite ends of the city, two men are watching.
Over three decades, Mahesh Bhatt, Bollywood’s master of reinvention has set benchmarks for Hindi movies. But to stay ahead in the new Bollywood, Bhatt’s company, Vishesh Films, is about to begin a new journey of its own. It has tied up with a major international company and will make something it has long scoffed at — big budget films.
“The dream is the same, the dreamers have changed,” Bhatt said.
A two-hour drive away in the seaside money district of Nariman Point, editor-turned-producer Pritish Nandy meets visitors in a conference room lined with nattily designed posters of his films. Nandy knows a thing or two about this new Bollywood. After all, he helped invent it.
And somewhere midway on this long drive, in the neighbourhood called Mahalaxmi, is the swank office of Sandeep Bhargava, now betting on a new breed of cinema.
Bhargava is the chief executive officer of Studio18, one of the leading corporate players in the film business. With deep pockets, legal money and a new way of working, corporate houses like UTV, Studio 18, Reliance ADAG, Mahindras, Adlabs and Eros are changing the face of the business. Hollywood majors — like Warner, Sony Pictures and Disney — are jumping in too.
But moviemaking was a messy game years ago when Bhargava was pursuing his management degree in the American state of Ohio. Movies wasn’t where MBAs went to work those days. “The culture was dominated by the underworld and petty shopkeepers. Some were a pretty sick lot,” said director Sudhir Mishra. “Now, the nature of financing has changed.”
Much else was changing all around. Even after the Vajpayee government gave Bollywood the status of an industry in 2000, corporate majors watched from the sidelines, just releasing Hollywood films in India. Nandy, bored with his work in television software, decided to move in that year to his new home: the movies.
“There was a belief that only ‘mainstream’ movies — the formula movies — worked. And I did not believe that,” he said. “We wanted to do mainstream films — not what was called parallel cinema — and try and transform it inside out.”
The year 2003 brought two landmark films for both Bhatt and Nandy. Jism, written by Bhatt and produced by his daughter Pooja, introduced John Abraham and made him and Bipasha Basu stars. It became one of the biggest hits of the year with an audacious edginess and a pushing-the-envelope sexuality.
Later that year, came two small films produced by Nandy, Chameli and Sujoy Ghosh’s Jhankar Beats.
By the end of that year, the word “corporatisation” was doing the rounds of Bollywood. Then headed by Bhargava, Sahara Motion Pictures led the way, putting on the floor about 40 films. “In the early days, the cost of production was not very high. Artistes were not charging a lot, and not a lot of corporates had come in with deep pockets… (but) transparency was a big concern,” Bhargava said. “But by 2006, just about everybody was entering here.”
India had swiftly changed too. Malls and multiplexes were coming up, incomes were rising, and ticket sales were soaring. Viewers were returning to theatres, experiencing the joy and comfort of film viewing with the family.
Bhatt realised it was time again for the only constant of his life: change.
“At Vishesh, we have survived for three decades, but with the corporatisation of the media, we are finding it difficult to stay afloat,” Bhatt said. “We have tied up with Sony-BMG. Budgets will be much more scaled up. We will cater to the indigenous audience but hope it will stand shoulder to shoulder with world cinema.”
In another part of the city, meanwhile, Nandy was winning his own small and big battles. “The mainstream industry tried its best to ignore us… till it could no longer do so,” Nandy said. “People were watching these movies, people were waiting to see more of this stuff.”
The corporates made lives easier for a lot of people. Payments were clean. Financing was assured. Once it was in the works, there was certainty that a film would be made. Films began to be sold well, and new income avenues emerged — including mobile phones, the Internet, cable television.
“Theatre revenues are going up by more than 17 per cent every year, but less than 50 per cent of revenues are now coming from theatres,” said Bhargava. “To an extent the conventional wisdom that all films lose money is being turned on its head.”
Every time that happens, Nandy says, “It not only reaffirms my faith in the Indian audiences’ quest for good cinema, but also redefines Bollywood.”
“Remember me?” I tried to test her memory.
“There last Sunday, we waited for the bus no 18 for over half an hour,” I said ending her speculation, laughing in my earnest way. I’m very simple creature. As I laughed I kept on staring her. She didn’t smile nor did she reply. Just stood still like a statue.
I thought she’d remember me, recognize me. I had helped her catch the bus. In that crowd, I’d managed to take a seat but ended up letting her take it. She looked so tensed. I pitied her woeful face. I thought she’d say ‘thank you’ but she didn’t.
“Ha, ha… No problem, it’s alright.”
As I said these words, it pinched me whenever she looked at me. This stranger is a very strange person. I can remember the number of times we meet here at the bus-stop. I’m always talking. She’s always a statue. But she smiles at my pranks. I’ve noticed it in her tightly sealed lips. Her deceiving eyes. And I cry—
February 26, 2008
February 25, 2008
Neelesh Misra, Hindustan Times
It was the summer of 1988. A young man keen to become a writer and director was doing the rounds of producers in Mumbai, walking into offices that thousands had walked into before, and thousands would later.
His name was Salman Khan and he was about to become one of India’s biggest movie stars.
Not too far away in the same neighbourhood of Bandra, Aamir Khan had just zoomed to new stardom. Two other New Delhi men, outsiders in Bollywood, were preparing to begin their journey as actors. They were called Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumar.
Years later, those four men are still the crown of the small clique of stars of Hindi cinema. But the whirlwind of change in Bollywood has not left these icons of entertainment untouched. They are adapting as well.
Actors are turning producers. Actors are turning directors. Actors are also writing films. They are turning businessmen — devising new, innovative ways to own the intellectual property of their films, from ownership of the film print to the ancilliary rights like those related to the Internet and mobile phones. They are working with new directors and themes.
“There was a time when we ourselves never used to watch our own movies. But actors are now thinking – what to do next, what’s the kind of film I want,” Salman Khan told the Hindustan Times in an interview.
“The game has become big … Audiences have changed. They have become impatient."
We are sitting at Salman Khan’s sea-facing apartment in Bandra on a rare day – he is home early after a half day’s shift. All around us, on the walls of the living room, are paintings done by Khan himself. Acrylic and charcoal.
Khan has just had an afternoon siesta. There are two bowls of cherries before him and he slowly picks on a few. “I think in another two years it will be a different thing altogether,” he said.
“Films like Taare Zameen Par, Chak De are all interesting films. I make it a point that my films …try to give that feel good cinema,” he said. Then he whistled and his cook knew the actor wanted coffee.
“For an average filmmaker, it is very difficult to get a hero on board,” said director and music composer Vishal Bhardwaj. Bhardwaj has no such obstacles though – he is part of Bollywood’s elite league of directors who most actors and producers and desperate to work with. That, too, is a reflection of the new Bollywood, with top actors keen to do unconventional themes with trend-setting directors like Bhardwaj.
“Fees in Bollywood are slowly inching towards Hollywood levels – if a Shah Rukh Khan does a film he will take at least US$6 to US$7 million – in comparison, Johny Depp will charge US$20 million,” Bhardwaj said. “Every actor has his own production house and if you have to cast them, you have to co-produce or work for those production houses.”
The top names – Amir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Suneil Shetty, Ajay Devgan, and most recently, Sanjay Dutt and Saif Ali Khan – all have or are set to launch their own production companies. Salman Khan – whose brother Sohail Khan is a producer – thinks it is a bad idea. “Being a producer is a different thing altogether,” he said.
The top actors are rumoured to charge between Rs. 25 crores and Rs. 30 crores per film, with other benefits to follow.
But there are few options – the shortage of saleable actors is so acute that there is a mad scramble whenever there is a new, promising face. Director Sriram Raghavan’s Johny Gaddaar threw up a new actor – Neil Nitin Mukesh, who was immediately snapped up by production houses, even though there are reportedly no scripts yet for most of them.
“We are short of talent...We are surviving on a whole lot of incompetence. You cannot make films against gravity,” Salman Khan says.
Ram Mirchandani, senior vice-president with UTV Motion Pictures, one of India’s major production houses, is one of the men trying to push forward change.
“The star system has got its own challenges. There are no more than 10 stars in Bollywood. And since there aren’t too many, prices have gone up,” he said. “The economies have changed and the waiting period has gone up.”
At the same time, Mirchandani points out, many of these stars can be relied upon to steer a film through its crucial first week.
But the dynamics of star power in Bollywood still begin and ends with male actors, a phenomenon that frustrates acclaimed directors like Sudhir Mishra.
“This (boom) will last only as long as the realisation among the promoters that the big star films are making big bucks. There is an absence of release-ability for non-star cast films,” said Mishra.
“In a country as huge as India, what I find ridiculous is that you cannot make a film with a female star. You can keep blaming the producers but the audience has something to answer for,” he said.
Bold & brainy: Bollywood’s new thought leaders
February 25, 2008
Neelesh Misra, Hindustan Times
Twenty years after class got over, the three men met and hugged each other outside a movie theatre, telling each other the story they had never told anyone: all they had touched since had turned gold.
That, of course, would have been the Bollywood version of the story of director buddies Raju Hirani, Sriram Raghavan and Rajat Kapoor. Hirani created Bollywood history with the “Munnabhai” films, Raghavan just joined the A-list with the cracker Johny Gaddaar, and Kapoor proved his point on his kind of film-making yet again with the just-released witty thriller Mithya.
But for almost 20 years after they studied at the Film and Television institute of India (FTII) in Pune, the reality was more like a 1970s arthouse movie. Armed with just their ambition and talent, they wrote scripts and planned movies and patiently heard producers say “No”.
Until now — until they ran into the new Bollywood. The three friends are now among a small group of Bollywood’s new thought leaders — audacious directors helping define the new Hindi cinema. They are being wooed to make the kind of films no one would touch a few years ago.
“This is the best time for filmmakers like us,” said Raghavan, now working on his next film with John Abraham and Aishwarya Rai. After that, he directs Saif Ali Khan. “We did not give up — but we did not know it would take this long.”
We are standing outside the box office at Fame Adlabs, one of Mumbai’s earliest multiplexes, on a noisy February evening. Director Sudhir Mishra (Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi, Khoya Khoya Chand) joins in. A small crowd gathers as the HT photographer takes pictures, and a teenage autorickshaw driver walks up to the reporter to show off his knowledge: he knows all the four directors and their films.
That is the new Bollywood — where good, intelligent cinema is also the cinema of the masses, and not labelled condescendingly as "parallel" cinema.
“After the release of the first Munnabhai, a director — I won't name him — said in criticism: ‘you broke every rule — you took an action hero and made a comedy, you shot indoors, there are no outdoors’ … but now, people have stopped believing in all these pre-conceived rules that they thought worked,” Hirani said.
Not too far away, at a small coffee shop where the movie types hang around, director Sourabh Narang takes another sip of his coffee and lists what else he sees changing around him.
“Just look at the kind of people coming in from non-traditional pools — there are doctors, lawyers, former bankers. They want to be assistant directors,” said Narang, who directed Vastushastra, is now doing a film for UTV.
“When I came to Bombay eight years ago, the profile of the assistant director was different. There was a big city focus. Now we have people from Kanpur and Meerut — and they wear it proudly as a badge,” Narang said.
But in this melee, some see the spectacle of the proverbial fools rushing in.
“It is a very slippery street. Opportunities are many. There is a temptation to rush in without proper experience or qualification,” said Milan Luthria, director of films like Hattrick, Taxi No. 9211, and Deewar. “If at all we see a dip, it will be because of this.”
Young men and women, some in their twenties and thirties, are being signed up as directors. Many directors have multiple film deals from corporate filmmakers.
“There seems to be too much money around, people signing three-film and five-film deals with actors and directors. There is a level playing field to some degree,” said Raghavan, his bag slung over his shoulder. “But I hope to guard myself against getting trapped in the ‘big film’.”
Hirani is buzzing with optimism: “This a great time to make a different kind of cinema.”
Hirani grew up in Nagpur, where he did theatre and grew up on the work of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and other favourites, and finally, after film school, came to the city where all dreamer and filmmakers finally aspire to come. He worked on several advertising films, began working with Vidhu Vinod Chopra, for whom Hirani made the genre-setting Munnabhai MBBS.
“Raju Hirani Munnabhai!” someone mumbles in the small crowd around the autorickshaws.
A huge poster of Mithya looms behind the three FTII buddies. One of the evening shows is on now. A young woman walks up for autographs of the directors.
That image is a long journey from many images of the past two decades, when they made documentaries — and lived through frustrating times when even if a good film was made, it had no hope of being screened.
“We all ended up doing nothing for a long time. I used to make a documentary and it used to sustain us for three months,” said Raghavan. He often watched films at the Topiwala film theatre near his home in Goregaon. Films aimed at the single-screen theatre, films that could please all, were the films being made back then. “Earlier, films were being made only for the front-benchers. Now the films are made only for the balcony viewers, as it were. Now there is no front bench,” Raghavan said. He assisted filmmaker Mukul Anand and briefly worked for the Stardust film magazine as a trainee reporter but would go and watch shoots, come back and write nothing.
“I was thrown out in four months,” he said.
Some other small film jobs and the film school diploma later, Raghavan made a short film on the serial killer Raman Raghav in 1993. It got him attention and a toe in the door, but it wasn’t until 2004, when he made Ek Haseena Thi, that he would be pampered by attention from producers.
Meanwhile, the movie-watching world had started transforming. A new kid arrived in the city. It was called the multiplex, the saviour of filmmakers like Kapoor.
At 21, after breaking up with his girlfriend, Kapoor had taken to theatre in New Delhi to fill the void. He would get before the arclights once again, years later, when he began to get work as a model during the excruciating wait for someone to help him become director.
“For about 10 years I made no money at all,” Kapoor said. “For eight years I took Mithya to every possible producer — between 1998 and 2006. They said ‘mindblowing! but can't produce it’ — and it is understandable."
Kapoor and some others like him are shooting entire films in as little as nine days, turning the entire production model on its head — in a good way. The hugely successful Bheja Fry, in which Kapoor acted, was shot over 12 nights at just 16
locations. When he directed Raghu Romeo and was short of Rs 25 lakh, he began sending out e-mails to friends, urging them to donate Rs 10,000 each, which he would return later.
“My friends got it, then their friends, and before I knew it, I was getting mails from complete strangers, from all over the world. Many gave money as well — and I had what I needed,” Kapoor said.
“After the success of Bheja Fry, I was getting a call from a producer every second day. Me — who has been going around with a script, begging people — ‘please make my film!’” he said. “Now they have woken up to the fact that you can make a film in Rs 60 lakh and still make pots of money.” And even the single-screen Topiwala theatre, near Raghavan’s former home, is turning into a multiplex.
February 23, 2008
Neelesh Misra, Hindustan Times
To meet the new Bollywood, you need to get out of Mumbai. We found it 125 km down the highway from Mumbai, next to a bicycle repair shop and a tea seller, in a large village called Neral.
The only theatre here, the single-screen Mahesh Talkies, was on the brink of being shut down before being reincarnated last year. It now downloads films on a satellite link, using a technology that few have begun to use across the globe.
From themes to work ethics to the way films are written, sold and distributed, the world’s most watched movie industry is going through its biggest transformation ever. In ways visible and invisible, this change will touch the lives of millions of people across the globe — including those who watch it and those who live off it.
All that, however, would have could come to nothing if theatre owners like Srinivas Dasrath Dhule in Neral did not ride the new wave. People like him will begin to decide the destiny of flop films which could break even or make profits through digital theatres. In the process, they will also avoid the death that threatens thousands of humble single-screen theatres across India.
And how. From Aurora Cinema in Doomdooma (Assam) to Shyam Chhavi Grah in Churu (Rajasthan), and Zeenath Theatre in Alwaye (Kerala) to Amar Mahal in Katra (Jammu and Kashmir), hundreds of small-town theatres are screening films digitally, in languages such as Hindi, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Tamil and Kannada. Of India’s 13,000 film theatres, at least 1,500 are already using digital technology.
In Neral, a village surrounded by craggy hills and shrubby plateaus, the leap of imagination by the owners of the 310-seat Mahesh Talkies is showing results. The theatre is winning back viewers by screening films the same day they are released — not a month later, as it used to do earlier. It does not pay Rs 60,000 to buy a print and then transport it in heavy metal boxes on bumpy journeys from Mumbai.
Instead, it pays just Rs 4,000 upfront and an average of Rs 200 a show to screen the film. It is winning the battle against piracy. The films have great sound and picture quality. There are big savings on electricity and equipment. And it is making good money — despite raising the prices of tickets, 70 per cent of the seats are sold out, up from 40 per cent earlier.
Shiny new seats have been placed. And Mahesh Talkies now has a Dolby sound system. “We were deep in debt. We could only show scratched prints of old films. By the time we got prints in Neral, everyone had seen pirated copies,” says 40-year-old owner Srikant Dasrath Dhule, sitting in a room full of the strong fragrance of sandalwood incense. “Now, things have transformed.”
It is a fitting statement on how the village has aligned itself with the world: the film being shown at Mahesh is a new Hindi dubbing of the Thai film Chai Lai’s Angels — a takeoff on the Hollywood hit Charlie’s Angels. Hours later, an even more popular offering will play — Rambo 4.
Outside the theatre, a few lanes away, the swiftly globalising India was making a footprint in the village — a leading international motorcycle maker had brought a road show, showing off gleaming new models from a truck amid loud music.
In the earlier format — still alive in most theatres across India — two attendants braved thick carbon fumes and placed huge spools of film every half hour in the projectors, and had to connect negative and positive carbon rods to produce the flash that illuminated the screen. Now there is a small glass cabin built on the side and a split air-conditioner keeps the satellite-connected computer cool. The two attendants lost their Rs 5,000-a-month jobs, but it saved dozens of others from getting fired.
Last Friday, Mahesh Talkies witnessed something unimaginable even a year ago. Villagers who often travel two hours by the train to watch films here saw this season’s big-ticket offering, Jodha Akbar, the same day as the rest of the world.
An idea born of desperation
Dhule grew up in nearby Badlapur, enjoying action movies and comedies like most other friends. Then he made movies his profession. But the world of cinema viewing was swiftly changing. Hundreds of thousands of jobs around the country were at risk as theatres began shutting down to make way for shopping malls and office complexes.
Soon, the monster was on Dhule’s doorstep. One day, a theatre closed down in Karjat, an hour away. “The day that cinema closed down in Karjat, I realised I had to do something... I had to change while there was still time,” he says. He did a quick survey — there was no other theatre nearby, and he could potentially draw thousands of viewers from 56 villages. All he needed was the right idea.
Armed with information from some other theatre owners, Dhule travelled to Mumbai, where a handful of companies such as UFO Moviez, Real Image, Pyramid Saimira and Adlabs are providing the software and the hardware needed for digital projection.
Before films are released, they are brought to such a company. Any leakage could mean huge losses to piracy. Expectedly, it thrives on a detective agency-like secrecy. One owner of such a company was once barred by guards from entering the area where the prints were kept because he did not have the authorisation.
At UFO Moviez, a security guard travels in the van that carries the print from the producer to the lab where huge spools are converted to digital D5 files, which look like big VCR tapes. It is then brought to the UFO ‘Capture Centre’ under tight security, with the van driver’s time of departure and arrival monitored to ensure the film has not been illegally copied on the way. Only the fingerprints of a few people can help open the door at the capture centre, physically linked by a 2,300-km optic fibre to a New Delhi satellite hub, which downloads a digital version of the film to the member theatres.
Dhule soon had all he needed: a digital projector, a server called Cineblaster attached to a satellite link, an uninterrupted power supply set, and a high-speed phone connection for data transfer. Better still, the company gave it all for free.
Using all that could sound like rocket science, but if the company’s cooks could use it, surely could Dhule. “When we started out, we first called our cook and asked him to download a movie, reading from a pictorial chart we give to all our customers,” says Sanjay Chavan, the UFO Moviez chief technology officer, who was earlier with the Indian Air Force. “Until all the five cooks in our office could download films without our help, we kept refining the chart.”
Now, every Thursday, UFO engineers download the upcoming film to the computer at Mahesh Talkies and 1,000 other theatres across India. Every film, about 2,500 gigabytes in size (on an average, the storage capacity of 125 home computers), is compressed to an encrypted 10-gigabyte version. The download takes real time — a two-hour movie is saved on the theatre’s computer in two hours.
However, someone like Dhule cannot screen the film until the scheduled time on Friday morning. And when he does, he uses a pre-paid card or a numeric key that has to be used to show a film.
For now, all seem to be gaining from digitisation.
“On an average, there will be an increase of 15 per cent to 20 per cent in tickets sold per movie — that is, if the shift from traditional screens to digital screens happens,” notes a Confederation of Indian Industry study.
“For a hit movie from a mid-sized production house, the average domestic gross box office collections will increase by about 40 per cent (from Rs 20-25 crore to
Rs 30-35 crore), while for a flop movie the gross box office collections will increase by about 15 per cent (from Rs 5-5.5 crore to Rs 6-6.5 crore). This will help some of the flop movies to break even or even make money,” the study predicts.
And as theatre owners such as Dhule dream big, companies such as UFO are dreaming bigger. They want to now reach out to the US, where the penetration of digital films is only 2 per cent. Hollywood mostly delivers its films physically to theatres, on hard disks.
Attempts to digitise films in the US began in the 1990s, but did not take off because the technology available there is extremely expensive, says UFO’s Chavan.
“We will now take Hindi content to the US theatres — we can even beam Hollywood content to American theatres if they are willing to share,” he says.
But back home, the new Bollywood is still dealing with the glitches of the India out there, which is often not a Bollywood fairytale.
“There are huge power outages in small towns. The UPS runs for only 15 minutes — we have had several burnt projectors,” says Chavan. “And there are satellite link breakdowns at the local level. Sometimes the cable is loose, at other times the rat has eaten the cable."
The new reel
Markers for the series
The Indian film industry is expected to be worth $5.1 billion in 2011, a three-fold increase in five years.
The coming of corporate giants has made deals cleaner. Mafia money does not rule. Payments are mostly done by cheque.
There are 500 multiplexes now, expected to increase to 3,000 in a few years. Viewers are back at the theatres.
Actors and directors are signing multiple film deals — but there is a severe shortage of scripts and stars.
Coming up: movies on mobiles and IPTV and games based on movies.
February 25, 2008
I was like 'high' last night and when I finally drowsed off it was already three. That’s the only reason I was drowsy all day. Got off to gym at eight. Didn’t know what to do at home due to load-shedding. So holed up some two hours while Sabin busied himself in a game in his pc. After a long gap (years?), I was dreaming. I don’t remember any of my dreams. The noise of the game cast my mind into a virtual gaming world. I was fighting with machine-like creatures, aliens and skeletons. It was not all scary, I enjoyed it. I don’t play games- I know it’s so addictive. Suman dai is a living case.
After nine months, I was in the field. Was supposed to enjoy my friends playing in a local tinkune kuleshwor tennis-ball cricket tournament. After the first match, I wanted to play. Sabin took rest and I took his place in the Coke-baazi match. My batting was satisfyingly well. Sailesh’s over was a little expensive (three straight fours in one over). Suman Kazi missed few catches. We enjoyed watching him hit off all the balls in the first game. Newroad Paachak team- that was Kazi’s surrogate for the Yengal team. And he was captain himself in both of the matches. He bowled well but couldn’t deliver his best in the last over. They needed two runs to win off the last ball of the game. He bowled a wide and the next ball was but an easy knock. And we lost the match which we were sure to win.
Nevertheless we enjoyed the game. It was perfect entertainment (in Ram dai’s word). We were sure to win the first match too, but I don’t think anyone took it seriously. It ended in a draw. Even if we’d lost the game, our place in the next round of the league (semi-finals?) was already secured.
After the game, I was thinking about going Thamel. But Sailesh didn’t want to go. Met Dhanu at Ombahal. And, then after having some snacks there we departed. Sabin and Sailesh went to Sigal, I was on my way to meet Deelip. Sundar was with him waiting for me at the mall. From there I went to meet Shamir. He didn’t forget to surprise me with his gift. I spent my day with my old and new friends. Missed some. This year for the first time, it’s been a little different. Daya is in Lamjung. Nitesh in Balaju. Rohan in Pulchowk. And, Aishan is out of contact. Anup…
There was another serious fling. A part of me still loves to live in the past. But we’ve to move on…
February 24, 2008
Born to be wild
In every human heart, isn’t there a desire to escape from everything, everyone who knows you? Sometimes, I imagine myself walking somewhere in some dark alleys, in some unknown streets, unbeknownst to the world. Being anonymous. I long to travel. Study people. It’s my wildest of all dreams to roam freely like a beast someday.
Read American travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux’s interview in Magazine, The Hindu.
One last question. A standard one: What would you tell aspiring writers?
“I would say: Go away from home. College doesn’t matter. But read. If you come from Chennai, go to Assam... The first thing is to go away. You need to be independent... Don’t stay home and take lessons on writing. Every night, your mother will say to you: “You are a great writer!” or “Get yourself a real job.”…
Writers associated with colleges and universities tend to have a very different career. I am not saying that it is better or worse. But it helps to go away. More precarious but, in the long run, more satisfying.”
And, I’ve had similar feeling for a long time now. Didn’t know when I started longing to explore the world. Fortunately, I’m not afraid to be nobody today. I was telling Deelip that that way over 90 percent of people could relate to me. Life’s a battle. But not even the thought of failing scare me. The greatest victory is to survive.
Everyone’s a winner. That’s what I’d like to believe in. But a line from my latest poem 'contradicts' me:
Those who fail are either dead or living.
I love people falling in love. They look graceful, lovely, happy.
It’s always nice to know them, be near to them. They are full of love. And, that is the best thing to know, to get and to live with.
Ah, I could only imagine a musical night with my partner. I envy. But am happy. To see my good friends in good, it’s the best, mood…
Singing papako mummi se mummi ko papa se pyaar hai…
Hai na bolo bolo…. hehehe
I will miss them all, these are the best days of my life so far…
Today, a lot of people (actually three) commented on my new look (actually it’s my Godfather hairdo). “You look handsome !” kaan taras gaye thhe, yeh sunne ko… unfortunately, all of them were guys. But I saw that golden hair waali cute dalli again. Couldn’t take my eyes off her. I feel like I’m in love. She looks so beautiful. Aaaja chhahi ali badhi nai herey uslai… Sigh.
Rajendra wrote after a long time, thank you buddy. I burst out laughing when I read your message. We miss you yaar, a lot! I’ve cast off the spiritual persona. I’m all clean shaved these days yaar… I also joined our local gym four days ago, you know, muscles matter k. My whole body is aching for the last three days. Even started dancing yaar. Sing for at least two hours everyday. Of course, my neighbours are having hard time these days… Office ma pani kaam chor bhairakheko chhu hehehe… I needn’t worry, Sanjeev dai, Manisha and Biplov take care of everything. God bless them !
Here’s our V-day shot. Good luck!
Its not as hard, hard, hard, as it seems ...
People who don’t understand me think I’m mooned. They don’t see logic in my ideas and opinions. I exert myself too much to prove my points. And, that’s my one of my strength (for you it can be my weakness). People who don’t even know me properly make assumptions and futile attempts to get under my skin. I choose not to talk my mind, most of the times, only saying things that even I don’t believe. I’m such a sceptic. In this way, I’m oftenly trying to get into their heads. I think about obvious things too much because everyone cannot and do not think like me. Because of my casualness, they think I’m just another guy out there. And I like it that way. But sometimes, when I try to be myself- there is hullabaloos. I do understand this. But I like to manipulate emotions, no matter the result of these gimmicks often backfire.
Sometimes I try to cross every limit. The only problem with people, with me and everyone, is that they are their own favourites. But I try to give space to everyone around me. And sadly, I give them too much personal space that they end up hurting me. Everyone. It’s in human instinct. In the last two years, I’ve tried to limit myself. I don’t meet many people. I don’t believe in building public relations. I’m an artist- most of the times my room is more than enough. I can be happy with myself. I’m satisfied with myself. I’m proud of myself. But it’s people that ruins my happiness.
There was a time I wished to be all alone in a distant land, a vast forest, away from all human faces. When I try to understand people, they try to underestimate me. Obviously I’m aware of my shortcomings, but there are certain times that I choose to be ‘aggressive’. That’s a wrong way to influence or inspire people. So most of the times I prefer to be on their mercy. I’m lazy, moody, abnormal. But none of the people around me inspire me. But they do influence me. I try to be cheerful most of the times. Carefree.
But when I look at my work, I’m never satisfied. Obviously, I won’t be satisfied with anyone other’s work this way. I hate mediocrity. But I’m writing another bad, mediocre post. I don’t want to be too harsh. Don’t want to hurt anyone anymore. I love people around me. I do my best to forget what happened in past and look forward with a heavy dose of optimism but a little self-guarded. Most of the times I’m vulnerable to external influence.
People should learn to respect others feelings. I’m trying my best to recognise and correct my weaknesses and excesses. But I really hate people taking me for granted. Am I here in some competition? But I know my strengths. For me journalism is not for granted. People, most of my journalist colleagues, now and often make comments about online media/blogging that clearly show their ‘level of understanding’ to me. I aspired to study New Media (and chances are still very high). But what makes me mad is people who don’t even know what new media really is, what cinema, literature or other serious arts mean but try to show me their rich treasure of knowledge through their poor yucky comments.
I respect people who know more than me about certain things. I flatter them by saying so. But then if they start treating me like a kid, that really upsets me. I think I should start maintaining safe distances. This is the last thing I’ve learned in past few months. People aren’t going to take you seriously, until you act so. But I guess that’s no fun. I’ll be me. It’s just that someday I’ll get more insights about them, perhaps, I’ll even know them better. People hide their weaknesses, and we can easily identify those weak spots. We should try to help people to improve themselves in the most respectful way possible. We are all human beings, we should learn to love.
No matter what I did, now I look forward to improve and learn things from my ‘teachers’- it can be you or anyone else in the street. It can be someone I read in newspapers today or a magazine some other day. But I guess the real challenge is choosing good teachers from bad ones. For someone I can be a good one, and for others another. But trying doesn’t kill, I agree. I’m thankful to god that I am a good student. But I really don’t agree with those ‘teachers’ who want me to repeat yes sir after each and every line. The last decision should be mine. And, I leave your decision to you. We’re in a fucking free country. It’s democracy. But please don’t forget the world, don’t debauch my decency.
Art, Self-Portrait, 2004
February 22, 2008
Fatalism And Development
Extracts from Dor Bahadur Bista’s Fatalism And Development, Nepal’s Struggle for Modernization, 1991.
History of Caste System (the extract from pg 36-38 from the second chapter, the Caste System in Nepal of Fatalism and Development) tries to explain the influence and power play of the Bahun-Thakuri-Chhetri castes, among others, in Nepal. Bista says, on basis of Kirkpatrick, a British east Indian Company official who visited Nepal in 1973, recount of the Gorkhalis, that “native egalitarianism, and not the hierarchised social order of the hierarchic caste system” was prevalent in Nepal largely due to the legacy of Gorkha King Ram Shah. This came in muchs later to the Gorkhalis, specially after the introduction of the legal code of 1985. (pg 46)
“Historically, it appears that the caste system has its greatest success when called upon to help establish the legitimacy of a partcialuar regime. With the destruction or elimination of the first millennium, the Bahun pundits have become the sole vehicle of erudition. They are the writers, the repository and the interpreters of history, and for appropriate consideration have been quick to document the ancient illustrious status of any new reign. The last incident was when they had Jung Bahadur Kunwar, a Khas, adopt the title of Rana, developing a fictitious ancestry of Rajput origin from the southern plains. Certain similarities in language and cultural traits exist between the Khas people and those of Rajasthan and Gujarat, all of whom are believed to have migrated across the Karakoram during the prehistoric period and to have spread over the western Himalayas as well as the Punjab, Rajastan and Gujarat (Sharma, Janak Lal, 1982:243). This made it easier for the advisers of Jung Bahadur Rana to posit a connection with the Rajputs of the plains, even though any study of ancestors of Jung Bahadur Rana leads to the conclusion that the Ranas were Khas, who took the tile of Kunwar (prince) during the medieval period but had no connection with the Indian Rajputs (Whelpton, 1987).
A sense of insecurity among certain Pundits have led them to concoct fictitious genealogies for any ruling dynasty they want, who then have been deemed to be of Indian origin. If this were true, it would be seem that the Nepali people are, as a whole, incapable of ruling themselves. There has never been a conquest of Nepal initiated from within India, so from the interpretations of history we are forced to infer that these so-called Indian dynasties must have secured their position through invitation, as a result of their personal superiority over anything that Nepalis had to offer. It is very hard to believe that Nepalis, with their reputation for an independent spirit and martial qualities, could not produce their own leaders but had to wait for fugitive nobles to arrive from India and paid homage to them as soon as they set foot in the hills. There is evidence suggesting that such Indian pedigrees for the Thakuri-Chhetri are the artifacts of their own sycophants.
In all my research I have been unable to discover any genuine evidence that any Thakuri (aristrocratic) family has its origin in India. Instead there is some evidence of distinctly Nepali origins for most Thakuris and Chhetris. For example, Nepali people have clan and family tutelary deities with clearly indigenous origins, and these deities have their own ritual practices and even their own local (typically Shamanistic) priesthood. An Indian family is extremely unlikely to have created for itself such a non-Brahmanic tutelary deity and is further unlikely to have it attended by non-Bahun priests; so that the presence of such a deity, with non-Bahun priests, may be taken as indicating an indigenous origin. The Shah Thakuris have been given a Rajput ancestry by few historians, yet all their clan deities and family tutelary deities are worshipped and cared exclusively by Magars- by Bhrahmanic standards a polluted low caste ethnic group; the Gorkha Kali, Manakamana, and the goddess at Lasargha, a re in the exclusive care of the Magars. (1) This trend has been the major means by which the Bahun pundits have attempted to gain influence and expand the hierarchic caste system. The main consequence has been a major distortion of Nepali history, belittling Nepali achievement while reorienting the culture evermore towards that of the Gangetic plains.
After the Bahun and Thakuri, the next highest caste group is that of the Chhetri. Various people of high status from among those groups that played an active part in the unification of Nepal took the title of Chhetri shortly afterwards. But not all Chhetris come from this background, and the proportion that do is ever decreasing, particularly within Kathmandu Valley. Those others that have the title of Chhetri are the children of Bahun fathers and indigenous ethnic mothers. As Bahuns move into new areas, these mixed Chhetri children form the nucleus of the caste community. Such children differ from the local Matwali children in being given an education by their fathers, and often tend to be successful economically and socially. These Chhetri then become the clients of the Bahun priests, with their economic success providing the basis of their economic support. Their educational and economic distinctiveness faciliatates their elevation to high status within the local community, which then influences the infusion of fatalism and hieratic caste principles into local ethnic life.
A majority if the Bahun priests are the descendents of caste Brahmans who came mainly from the plains, though with some smaller groups form the Deccan during the miedeval period. A few may have come to the Nepal region for purposes of prosetlyising but most were fo5rced to emigrate from hostile invasions of the plain states. In particular, there were to be many who were running away from the religious persecutions of the Moslems. These people did not bring any religious mission with them but an excessive concern fro self-preservation which was to affect their relations profoundly with the inhabitants of Nepal and Nepali culture. The preservation of caste culture required that they did not succumb to Nepali influences nor in any way diminish the purity of their cultural treasures. The defence of their culture lead readily to the depreciation of the cultural lifestyle of the Nepalis. Benares and other scared cities if India representated, for them, the ideals of urban civilization, and Kathmandu’s culture was denigrated. The river water in Benares continues to be treated as holier than the clean and fresh water of all of the Himalayan rivers of Nepal. As the Muslim occupation of the south continued there was a general lapse in orthodoxy. What persevered was a continuing denigration of Nepali culture and Nepali people in general and an exaggerated adulation of the fatalistic caste culture of the plains with their religious centres such as Benares being treated as the holiest places of pilgrimage. This denigration of Nepali culture has become an inherent aspect of the developed Nepali form of Hindusim with a fatalistic hierarchy as interpreted by Bahun priests.”
It is interesting that much earlier than Jung Bahadur Rana, some Magars took the title of Rana. Today no-one takes seriously the suggestion that Rana Magars are of Rajput origin because they did not succeed in securing power and wealth as was done by Jung Bahadur, his brothers and their descendents.
The last section from The Caste System in Nepal (pg 55-60) aids in understanding the capital society, the ethnic rights movement, the mentality of the third generation of Kathmanduties. Bista foresaw the political upheavals that we are face today and felt it was essential.
Caste and Ethnicity
The Thakuri, Chhetri and Matwali people in the far western hills of Npeal are not divided rigidly by caste cleavages. Economic or political considerations tend to divide people rather than caste distinctions. All the major groups of people rather than caste distinctions. All the major groups of people eastward from the far west are defined ethnically rather than by caste, such as Magar, Tharu, Gurung, Thakali, Sherpa, Tamang, Sunuwar, Thami, Rai, Limbu, Danuwar, Dhimal, etc. Increasing agitation by pundits in support of nationwide extension of the caste system had had a direct influence on consolidating the thinic identity of these various groups within Nepali society. This increased sense of ethnic solidarity is a result of the defensive reaction against the intrusive and dominating activities of the Bahun-chhetri. The various groups of people who do not have caste groupings have no way of maintaining group solidarity other than through their ethnic groups. This leads to the emphasis on ethnic identity.
Ethnic Matwali groups are aware that once they identify themselves as Hindus they will be placed at a low social status and will be at a disadvantage. As a result we are beginning to see the assertion of ethnic organizations for political and economic rights. There has been some exploitation of this ethnic dissatisfaction by political activists and some members of the various ethnic groups are rallying under the slogan ethnic rights to fight the high caste Hindu domination. But this development is not unique to Nepal. It is quite common where ethnic minorities feel that they have been discriminated against. Clifford Geertz, who observed this particular phenomena in areas around thee world, states that it is the manifestation of a ‘desire to be recognised as responsible agents whose wishes, acts, hopes and opinions matter and it is the desire to build an efficient, dynamic modern state; it is a search for an identity, and a demand that the identity be publicly acknowledged as having import, a social assertion of the self as being somebody in the world’ (Geertz, 1973). (1)
Many Nepali intellectuals are beginning to echo the same opinion, as will be clear if we look at the viewpoint expressed by Prayag Raj Sharma. He suggests that ‘a new basis of national integration will have to be found to give the country a new strength of unity… Our true search should be to continue to find harmony in group relationship, but the values on which they are to be based must be compatible with the time’ (Sharma, 1986).
Within Kathmandu, social relations between the dominant caste groups and ethnic minorities are complex. As will be fully elaborated in later chapters, social life in the capital is greatly infleuenced by key caste values and interpersonal styles, and prominent among these is the requirement of membership in appropriate social groups that are called afno mannche. For one to make any kind of social progress or get things done, one must have the correct afno mannche connections. These afno mannche connections are not necessarily caste based, but the membership to them takes time, knowledge, and the right kind of support elsewhere. These resources are rarely available to the ethnic minority member newly arrived in Kathmandu from some remote region, and hence this kind of person will always tend to be excluded from an effective social and political life there. This is not so much matter of discrimination because of memberships of an ethnic minority group, or because of low caste status, but is a form of social exclusion in the absence of other qualifications necessary for group membership. Ethnic minorities, then, are disadvantaged and excluded in Kathmandu by default.
Ethnic minority members attempting to make their way into the modern world also prone to experiencing special forms of acculturation. As will be seen in the chapter on education, ethnic minority families are typically very poor and dependent on their children’s labour for survival, and cannot afford luxury of spending them to school—which tends to be reserved for upper caste or upper class children. Those that do get an education are therefore from elite families. Ethnic minority members who are able to go to graduate school tend to adopt high caste attitudes, as the permeability in the Nepali caste system offers the hopes of caste mobility. A hierarchic attitude is often developed, and part of the process essentially requires the rejection of low caste or ethnic background. As a consequence the ethnic community looses the ambitious and mobile, who still have a long way to go to be accepted in a higher caste, and which may be possible only for descendents. The ethnic minority member, therefore, in some kind of social and existential vacuum, having tenuous, repressed connections with ethnic antecedents and a dubious position within the caste society of the capital. The high caste attitude at that point provides the only immediate and even remotely accessible social reality, which again forces the individual into reorienting to a hierarchic caste perspective. As an objective the higher status will always be unattainable. A consequences is often the eventual breakdown of the defence mechanism of the ethnic individual, with demonstration of erratic behavior and a loss of motivation. Few ethnic Matwalis are successful, and even when this is so they often have frustrated, bitter, and difficult personalities. Most turn their grievances into political activity of an essentially revolutionary kind.
The typical indices of failures in acculturation and ethnic conflict are largely obscured in Nepal. Delinquency is ignored or even not recognised. There is little awareness of the existence of mental illness, other than psychotic breakdowns. No generally useful statistics has been collected for measuring the pervasiveness and form of failures in acculturation. It is therefore difficult to examine the extent to which these different ethnic groups are prone to alienation and what the social cost of this alienation is to the nation. Though it is obscured, it is nonetheless there. To some extent, the absence of visible alienation and social conflict is the consequent to the economic nature of Kathmandu, which does not have many industries and is really not seen as a place of opportunity, except for those who have administrative ambitions. Hence there is little urban drift to Kathmandu, and there is no developing slum area of rural migrants who have left their homes hoping for some opportunity to improve their lot. Kathmandu attracts mainly prosperous and upper class people. Those with economic ambitions among the various ethnic groups go to the Terai, or even to India. Becoming an expatriate is a common alternative for the frustrated but ambitious ethnic group member.
Geertz further suggests that there is no single established method or strategy that the minority people would adopt in order to make their point of view heeded. There are several ways of doing this. An extract from his text will make the point clear:
When we speak of communalism in India, we refer to religious contrasts; when we speak of it in Malaya, we are mainly concerned with racial ones, and in the Congo with tribal ones. But the grouping under a common rubric is not simply adventitious; the phenomena referred to are in some way similar. Regionalism has been the main theme in Indonesian disaffection, differences in custom in Moroccan. The Tamil minority in Ceylon is set off from the Sinhalese majority by religion, language, race, region and social custom; the Shiite minority in Iraq is set off from dominant Sunnis virtually by an intra-Islamic sectarian difference alone. Pan national movements in Africa are largely based on race, in Kurdistan, on tribalism; in Laos, the Shan States, and Thailand, on language. Yet all these phenomena, too, are in some sense of a piece.(Geertz, ibid:256-257)
You might need this sometime, at wrong times…
Ella Fitzgerald singing 'It’s Alright With Me' with Nat King Cole in this 1949 video. Thanks spacedream27 !
One of my instant hits… the lyrics are superb!
It's the wrong time, and the wrong place
Though your face is charming, it's the wrong face
It's not her face, but such a charming face
That it's all right with me
It's the wrong song, in the wrong style
Though your smile is lovely, it's the wrong smile
It's not her smile, but such a lovely smile
That it's all right with me
You can't know how happy I am that we met
I'm strangely attracted to you
There's someone I'm trying so hard to forget
Don't you want to forget someone, too?
It's the wrong game, with the wrong chips
Though your lips are tempting, they're the wrong lips
They're not her lips, but they're such tempting lips
That, if some night, you are free
Then it's all right, yes, it's all right with me
From Cole Porter Songbook
February 21, 2008
Notes about a different day. Personal.
YESTERDAY, I behaved awkwardly at work. Peeved everyone. Was regretting.
I was still asleep when Dhanu called this morning. “I’m outside.” And, I lazily moved out of my ‘bed’. Dhanu was meeting me like this after nearly two years. Around the same time then, he had come to me and asked me to paint something for his crush.
I thought the chapter was closed. “She called me after one and a half year a few weeks ago.” That's why he remembered me. “Do you remember you made a (greeting) card for me?” I don’t. He gave me few photographs of a beautiful girl. It was obvious- he wanted me to paint her. “Her birthday is on March 3rd.” Oh, not again! After awhile, Sabin arrived. He was so causal today, carefree. Dhanu was laughing at my home productions (videos). He liked the songs I played for him. “Keti haru lai yo geet sunayo bhhane patinchha bujhis!” He took it seriously, before departing my childhood buddy was happy, “You’ve improved a lot… You used to write kabita-sabita… now it looks good. Everything.” But he was trying to ask me ‘something’. He wasn’t done yet. I know he wanted to tell me a thousand things about her. I had little time. Reading his face, I felt obliged to tell him that I don’t know if I’ll paint her. I’ve not painted for a long time now. But I do want to paint. If I get into the mood, I’ll. But don’t expect, be sure to be hopeless. This is how I assured him. Poor chap got into ‘love’ again. “Antim chino! Yehi ho last maile try garne…” Love doesn’t go away. This is a proof.
I remember one day he asked me to accompany him to a place. "Just for a few minutes." But there we were waiting for something I had no clue about. After waiting for nearly half an hour, I asked him what were we doing there on the roadside. “Waiting.” I know that. For whom? “Someone.” Oh, how foolish I was. He was waiting for the girl. He had started to wait there everyday for her. She would pass by in her car and wave at him and give that smile, you know. But that day, she didn’t come. I must have got him after that. Love is such a funny thing. If someone you know gets infected, you’ll have to get by its side effects.
I tried my best to flee. Sabin and I have become thinkers. We were always thinkers, but only after my vipassyana, we have started to call ourselves if anything but ‘thinkers’. Unfortunately, we think too much! These days, we try to get into other’s mindset. We try to analyse reasons behind a particular behavior. We try to identify our system. Why we are sad or feeling tensed? If we are talking about chicks, we try to go to depths of our subjects. Even if we don’t arrive at a conclusion, we make sure our analysis is fun. We experiments so much with real people. Study our behavior. Ridicule ourselves turn by turn. And so on. Today after getting away from an ‘infected’ buddy, we went to get infected ourselves.
At Tri Chandra, we started our observation. Analysis of every human behavior. “Why are we here? She must’ve already left.” She is just a pretext. We should be thankful. At least we’ve a reason to be here and watch other beautiful creations in the world. Actually we never do such things. For the first time, like we’ve done a number of for-the-first-time things, we conducted Rohan’s Experiment in open. But the experiment didn’t go well.
Sunday, I was in the zoology class. Sitting beside a girl, asking stupid questions. Borrowed her pencil to write my class observation. But didn’t notice her face as much as I did her shoes. Today, three girls stood beside us. At first, it didn’t occur to us that they were the same girls. But after nearly half an hour’s careful observation, we both reached the conclusion- yes, they were all same. But I’m not sure whom that brown-jacket waali was looking at? We made a number of jokes about them. And we wondered if they even noticed us. Were they talking about us? If not us, what? Sabin said, “We’re laughing right now. Soon their boyfriends will come, and they’ll be laughing at us.” Kaali jubaan! After a while, they went with two boys and intermingled with a gang of twenty! Today’s experiment was over. Yes. Then we headed to ASCAL- another college, you know!
Classrooms were closed at ASCAL. But there was antique-hindwares inside its tiring-room. It was not difficult to find the restroom, your nose will effortlessly land up there in no time. It was already quarter to five or so. We went to the tongba-chhe! Spent two hours there. It was the time for the thinkers to give rest to their brains- to each cellular mechanism. The enchanting effect lasted nearly two hours. We took nap at Nitesh’s house. Everything was going great. He was actually saying that it was Roshana’s birthday. Then Sabin reminded me today was his birthday as well. Both share the same date. After we finished singing a birthday song, I received a SMS. Then everything was over again.
My SMS read happy birthday too. But today wasn’t my birthday. It’s a few days later. And then I willy-nilly came to his place. I responded her. I didn’t know what to tell her. Sabin is sleeping. I’m listening to Da Capo Players’s The String Quartet. Writing. Telling you today’s story. Manisha wrote me. Asked me to take care and get well soon. Well, I didn’t tell you I was ‘unwell’ today. Biplov called me too. I should take things obviously. “Don’t think too much.” He reminded. I love these guys. I just love them. It’s just that I was again getting disturbed for the last few days. Her sms was healing. Something that I really need to aid my mindset. Now that everything’s good, why I miss one thing. I really wanted to check my email. I’m going to be late to reply again. (Fortunately, didn’t need to worry.)
One of the funny things about human behavior is our indulgence. We end up getting close to those who really listen to us. Who try to understand or seem interested to ‘dissect’ us. She is one of those people who, I think, is like me. Perhaps, she wants to do some crazy ‘experiments’ on me! I wrote her an annoying mail last night. I’m giving her too much trouble. Everyone knows I’m a big trouble maker. Nothing seems obvious. As I write her, I try to tell myself about me! And what could ever be good about me? In a way, I’m trying to understand myself. I analyse myself. While her emails are like suggestions, conclusions of my tiring quasi-analysis! Don’t know what she is thinking about all this. But I think it’s fun as long as we keep it that way. But I’m afraid this is going to be a serious ‘study’ for both of us. She tells me not to be afraid. But I’m can’t help. We should not be ourselves with everyone. (Fortunately, she isn’t ‘everyone’. Why? Because she just ain’t.) We’ve a lot of things in common. But that’s obvious. We’re all just the same. But, but I want to continue this thing for a longer time. It feels good, actually great. As long as it’s all right with her, it’s all right with me…
You can’t know how happy I am that we met
I’m strangely attracted to you
There’s someone I’m trying so hard to forget
Don’t you want to forget someone too
This is one of my favourite songs these days, Ella Fitzgerald’s It’s All Right With Me from her Cole Porter Songbook…
Time to kip, good night!
12:37 am, Feb 20-21
February 17, 2008
Excerpts from Akira Kurosawa’s Something Like an Autobiography, Vintage NY 1983:
I don’t really like talking about my films. Everything I want to say is in the film itself. ... If what I have said in my film is true, someone will understand.
What is cinema? The answer to this question is no easy matter. Long ago the Japanese novelist Shiga Naoya presented an essay written by his grandchild as one of the most remarkable prose pieces of his time. He had it published in a literary magazine. It was entitled “My Dog,” and ran as follows: “My dog resembles a bear; he also resembles a badger; he also resembles a fox. . . .” It proceeded to enumerate the dog’s special characteristics, comparing each one to yet another animal, developing into a full list of the animal kingdom. However, the essay closed with, “But since he’s a dog, he most resembles a dog.”
I remember bursting out laughing when I read this essay, but it makes a serious point. Cinema resembles so many other arts. If cinema has very literary characteristics, it also has theatrical qualities, a philosophical side, attributes of painting and sculpture and musical elements. But cinema is, in the final analysis cinema.
With a good script a good director can produce a masterpiece; with the same script a mediocre director can make a passable film. But with a bad script even a good director can’t possibly make a good film. For cinematic expression, the camera and the microphone must be able to cross both fire and water. That is what makes a real movie. The script must be something that has the power to do this.
Many people choose to follow the actor’s movements with a zoom lens. Although the most natural way to approach the actor with the cameras is to move it at the speed he moves, many people wait until he stops moving and then zoom in on him. I think this is very wrong. The camera should follow the actor as he moves; it should stop when he stops. If this rule is not followed, the audience will become conscious of the camera.
I think...that the current method of lighting for color film is wrong. In order to bring out the colors, the entire frame is flooded with light. I always say the lighting should be treated as it is for black-and-white film, whether the colors are strong or not, so that the shadows come out right.
I changed my thinking about musical accompaniment from the time Hayasaka Fumio began working with me as the composer of my film scores. Up until that time film music was nothing more than accompaniment – for a sad scene there was always sad music. This is the way most people use music, and it is effective. But from Drunken Angel onward, I have used light music for some key sad scenes, and my way of using music has differed from the norm – I don’t put it in where most people do. Working with Hayasaka, I began to think in terms of the counterpoint of sound and image as opposed to the union of sound and image.
I am often asked why I don’t pass on to young people what I have accomplished over the years. Actually, I would like very much to do so. Ninety-nine percent of those who worked as my assistant directors have now become directors in their own right. But I don’t think any of them took the trouble to learn the most important things.
From the moment I begin directing a film, I am thinking about not only the music but the sound effects as well. Even before the camera rolls, along with all the other things I consider, I decide what kind of sound I want. In some of my films, such as Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, I use different theme music for each main character or for different groups of characters.
Much is often made of the fact that I use more than one camera to shoot a scene. This began when I was making Seven Samurai, because it was impossible to predict exactly what would happen in the scene where the bandits attack the peasants’ village in a heavy rain-storm. If I had filmed it in the traditional shot-by-shot method, there was no guarantee that any action could be repeated in exactly the same way twice. So I used three cameras rolling simultaneously. The result was extremely effective, so I decided to exploit this technique fully in less action-filled drama as well, and I used it next for Ikimono no kiroku (Record of a Living Being). By the time I made The Lower Depths I was using largely a oneshot- per-scene method.
Working with three cameras simultaneously is not so easy as it may sound. It is extremely difficult to determine how to move them. For example, if a scene has three actors in it, all three are talking and moving about freely and naturally. In order to show how the A, B and C cameras move to cover this action, even complete picture continuity is insufficient. Nor can the average camera operator understand a diagram of the camera movements. I think in Japan the only cinematographers who can are Nakai Asakazu and Saitô Takao. The three camera positions are completely different for the beginning and end of each shot, and they go through several transformations in between. As a general system, I put the A camera in the orthodox positions, use the B camera for quick, decisive shots and the C camera as a kind of guerilla unit.
Editing is truly interesting work. When the rushes come up, I rarely show them to my crew exactly as they are. Instead I go to the editing room when shooting is over that day and with the editor spend about three hours editing the rushes together. Only then do I show them to the crew. It is necessary to show them this edited footage for the sake of arousing their interest. Sometimes they don’t understand what it is they are filming, or why they have to spend ten days to get a particular shot. When they see the edited footage with the results of their labor, they become enthusiastic again. And by editing as I go along, I have only the fine cut to complete when shooting is finished.
February 16, 2008
“The actual movie is made inside the cutting (editing) room,” Suman dai said, “One or two men- cha-cha-cha- here, there, that’s how a film is made.” Of course, actors, acting is an essential part of filmmaking, but the real filmmaking is more than that. I was reading about film directors yesterday (and there’s just so many of them).
Read Shabana Azmi’s BFI (British Film Institute) interview today. (We tend to fear people we don't understand, so we condemn them.) Wanted to research a little more about our South Asian (Indian) Cinema too. I know soo little…
When asked, “Obviously you've worked with a number of different kinds of directors, like Shyam Benegal, Mrinal Sen, Gautam Ghosh... For you, what is the quality you look for in a director?” Azmi said:
“I like being directed. I don't like being left on my own. I sincerely believe that film is basically a director's medium. Cinema is really a very collaborative art, but finally it is the director who is captain of the ship. Unless I get direction from a director, I find it very difficult to do things on my own, however well-written it is. But rather than have someone tell me that this is exactly how they want it interpreted, I enjoy being allowed to participate and allowed to interpret. Then being held back if I'm doing something foolish. Now why I enjoy working with Shyam Benegal a lot, is that I know I can take many more risks in a performance with him. I know he'll stop me making a fool of myself. So instead of depending on studied gestures that I know will work, I will attempt to do something different. I must have a relationship of trust with my director, and I don't like unpleasant vibrations on the set. I work best when people are happy around me.”
Tried to get the script of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. Don’t remember exactly when I watched the movie (4-5 months ago?), but I still remember some of the scenes in “full detail” (!). And, yes, the dialogue (my tongue)- “The farmers have won again.” Today, I watched another Samurai film, Masaki Kobayashi’s Hara-kiri/Seppuku (1962). The first hara-kiri (a Samurai suicide by self-disembowelment on a sword) was ‘disgusting’, the second one really ‘admirable’. Liked the story told in flashback (much like most of the Korean movies that I’ve watched recently), but the cinematography of the sword fight between Hanshiro and Hikokuro was ‘incredible’. In fact, I found that was the most exciting part of the film.
Few days ago, I watched Deepa Mehta’s Water. Before you start grumbling “So late?”, let me tell you I didn’t even finish it. I left it somewhere when John’s telling Lisa about his Calcutta plans in a carriage. Lisa was a delight (I liked ‘Kasoor’ so much…), she looks so delicate, so beautiful, you know, I just couldn’t think about watching her moaning, crying, shedding tears and committing suicide. But I’ve ever since been all praise for Mehta. I’m resolved to sit and complete her trilogy someday (soon), until then ‘no’ more ah-ah-ah-ah-ahhhh for me, really!
Shabana Azmi’s interview
An Introduction to Indian Cinema
my sense of air- freakyflicks.tk
February 14, 2008
“hi, m in ktm! Aja hami natak herna jaane gurukul ma. Timi ni aaune ho? sharp dekhi start hun6 show start. Ghanchakkar natak ho.”
I couldn’t manage time that day. Later I wrote her, “Drama kasto thiyo?”
“Heriyena! Sayad timi sanga herna jurya raichha kya re! hehe bholi bhetau gurukulma ma sharp ma natak suru hun6. aauchhau?”
“Suti sakyau? Hehehe goodnight bhanne mann thiyoYCL le barbad garyo.. aba ta naya din pani bho… but still 17 hours to go b4 I can see you! Oh wht a long wait…”
“Salik, b in gurukul at 5:5 hai. C ya.”
After meeting her.
“Sorry yaar maile bore garey jasto lagyo.. but I really enjoyed your talk. You have changed. But this (*_*)* is better than the first one. Hehehe I think I can understand you!”
“Haha. Malai ni timi sanga ek din purai kura garna mann chha. Pakha na. mera problem ta sort out hun. Ma ta timro jiskyai ni enjoy garchhu. Ma ta ui (*_*)* hun. No changed!”
“kasto gafadi manchhe yaar. Mero dimag timro kura samjhera ghumirachha… bore lagyo yaar aba chhai. ‘Tyehi’ aaum kati dherai kura sunauna mann lagna thalyo. Hehe” 7:
“But see this is reality. I enjoyed your company. Now should I feel sad 4 not havin you here with me or enjoy this momo? Hehehe very tough choice? You or momo? Ummm kaslai rojau?”
“You were more honest this time. I saw that in your eyes after you took off specs. I saw that in your face.. I mean your beautiful face. Ab tyo 1 din kahile aaune ho khoi?”
“Au6 sathi, tyo din awasya aaucha. Ma ktm ma hunjel jaile ni bhetna sakchhau samaya milayera. Ma jaile ni bafadaar hune kosis garchhu. Timle aaja matra dekhya? Hehe”
“I prefer imaandar than bafadaar. “Only dogs are faithful!” my eng teacher told me. N b honest 2 yourself than me. Hehehe k ho hamro guff pani hai? Tum bore to bhayenau (hai)?”
“Chaina, ra hundina pani.
Two days later.
“Sometimes I wonder why I just can’t stop being ME. Byatiwaadi (she saw that trait in me) bhayo bhanne dherai dukkha paainchha. Kaha ho? K bhai rachha? 1 girl torturing me again, I think I HATE her! Kasam” 12:13 am
“Who is that girl?... gudnite, m dog tired. Hafta sleep, gud nite!”
“Chha yaar eutaa (bitch) bhootni! Hehe …. Haha gudnite.. kaslai mann ko bhadaas pokhu jasto bhaira thyo! Hehe now feeling better! Hehe sorry la disturb garey!”
She is my good friend. Yes, I can be ‘just’ friends with a beautiful girl as well. I hope she won't frown at this... Please, keep this a Top-Secret hai...
February 13, 2008
This poem reminded me of my own poem on a similar theme- rose and thorns. It was on an unfolding bud, “you left me before I could fully bloom into a rose”…
He planted a tiny sampling
and surrounded it with a fence
made of thorny branches.
It was the plant’s own fault
that it grew up
what else could the thorns do
but pierce it?
Translated from Hindi by Aruna Sitesh and Arlene Zide
Archana Verma is a poet and an editor with the Hindi literary magazine ‘Hans’. She teaches in Miranda House College, Delhi.
Published in the latest (gender?) edition of The Little Magazine.
February 12, 2008
It just happened!
Most of my videos are so funny. I’m a shy type, you know… But forget that, enjoy this… A short mental exercise!
February 10, 2008
(wrote another poem last night... failure) Saturday. wrote first poem (feels like in years) looks like finally started writing (poetry) Suman dai suggested to write metres (anyone can write freeverse) it’s so difficult, of course, requires much effort (than necessary)! Lazy- I started writing poetry because wanted to make it fast (occasional, spontaneous) style didn’t matter? often just jotted down few words, few names, hints alone… (and they’ll have their day) but ‘noted’ nothing more about life look at the piles of diaries (really), those countless loose sheets, exercise books, writings— but there’s naught (!) and remember started writing in English because Nepali was soooo lonnnnggggg.
I think I’ll never paint a Mona Lisa because I can’t wait that long! It was tiring and my Nepali handwriting was ‘so bad’ (I know these are only excuses)… I don’t know when but I decided not to write in Nepali anymore. But it’s just a matter of practice. Trying everything. (“Don’t try.”) Not a big deal anymore (so I doze off pass time). Let ‘em bask in self-glory. I’m just learning what I need to know- how to live, eat, sleep, talk, work and yeas, yeas… that too.
Er, I sometimes (frequently) think about this devil between my legs, It surely bothers even real dudes’ dude. “But chopping It off won’t solve your problem,” a wiseman cautioned me before I could do that and ask somebody to eat It like the woman who make her husband (who had killed her lover) eat her dead lover’s cock (this for sure is an exaggeration) - the body decorated in god-knows-what like a tandoori chicken and ‘served’ right before him! (I’m talking ‘bout Peter Greenaway’s 1989 film “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover”. “Hyaaaa, kasto film herna deko?” my friend complained after watching the film. Nudity and dark humour was typically Greenaway- the ‘essence’ of the “art-house cannibal film”, they said. “Some people like that, some don’t,” Suman dai told me. Of course, he likes such films! But it was so dirty, disturbing, I detest its beastly cinematography. But the climax just (shook) took me in.) So I guess It’ll ‘hang on’- I wish It could wither and drop off soon. Please pray for me like I pray for all of you and for ‘that’ too.
Sense of Space. I remember Donald Burgy’s Checkup was brilliant. It was such an eccentric but intellectual experiment… Have a look: Checkup, 1969/1970
Edinburgh University Film Society
lens culture (surfin')