Monday, October 30, 2006

Lazy Poetry

Old woman sighs
In winter solitude;
A baby’s cry shatters it.


Rain falls ceaselessly
In its pitter patter.
The walls form a prison.


I wait.
The phone rings
And silences my thoughts.


Old age shivers
Middle age covers it with a shawl
The young look away bored.


Framed photographs and
Fresh flowers beside.
The decay smells.


Friday, October 27, 2006

#9 Dream

By David Mitchell

I don’t know what it is with the books I choose…Japan seems to be a big theme. #9 dream was the only David Mitchell I hadn’t read so far. And now that’s done too.

This was Mitchell’s 2nd novel – after the success of his debut novel Ghostwritten, he had huge expectations to fulfill. I loved the book. Better than his first, in fact. His cleverly constructed multiple narrative style in the first book gives way to a single story – that of Eiji Miyake and his Tokyo sojourn. Yet, he does manage to slot in different narratives even in this single story. A World War II diary of a kaizen pilot, Miyake’s sometimes Matrix-like dream sequences and a book of off-beat short stories Miyake comes across in a safe haven. There is a touch of Murakami in here (even the title is a Lennon song…Murakami’s Beatles mania at work?) and I will not be surprised if Mitchell admits to some influence here.

The lead character is Eiji Miyake, a 20 year old from an outlying Japanese village who comes to Tokyo in search of his father who he has never seen. His mother, who he despises, was his father’s mistress. Abandoned by his father when she bears him twins (Eiji and his twin sister Anju), she leaves her kids with her mother, takes to drink and becomes mentally unstable. The book is about Miyake’s discovery of Tokyo, the Japanese mafia, new friends and loves. And a re-discovery of who and what truly matters in life – not his disappointing father who never cared, but his mother who is too afraid to care, the memory of his dead twin and a new found love. It is Miyake’s journey into adulthood, into reconciliation with pain and disappointment.

Mitchell writes beautifully. His clever way with words and narratives can be quite intoxicating. He is currently my favourite writer and my newfound mission is to introduce him and his books to friends. A David Mitchell fan club is in order.

Friday, October 20, 2006


To be honest, I was disappointed with Maqbool. Maybe, coming into it from Omkaara, I had pretty high expectations from Vishal Bharadwaj.

The thing is, Maqbool lacks a hero. The closest anyone comes for me is Pankaj Kapoor as Abbaji. He is a powerful man who knows his power, inspires loyalty in at least some of his followers and is shown to have some principles when it comes to business (that his business is the Bombay underworld and what he refuses to do is smuggle arms into India for an ISI-like character is beside the point).

Irfan Khan or Mian Maqbool, the lead in the movie is to me a completely flawed character. While overweaning ambition is his fatal flaw, his susceptibility to Abbaji’s mistress Nimmi (played by Tabu in an excellent performance) and his complete paranoia after his crime of murdering his boss Abbaji make the viewer view him with something less than sympathy.

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is the basis for this Vishal Bharadwaj movie (he does have a knack of getting the settings right – the fight for the Scottish throne is transplanted to Mumbai’s underworld while later he would transplant Othello’s Venice to the heartland of UP). If you know of Macbeth, this movie resonates better. The 3 witches are superbly transplanted as 2 clairvoyant police officers in cahoots with the Abbaji gang – Naseer and Om Puri as usual are brilliant. Banquo’s ghost does not appear but Lady Macbeth’s famous speech of blood on her hands finds a parallel with Nimmi’s increasing loss of mental stability.

While individual pieces of the film are pretty brilliant, the overall effect is underwhelming. It is certainly less slick than Omkaara and lacks its star power as well. But that notwithstanding, the movie does stand out among the movies that get churned out of Bollywood.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The number of apps for Flickr that abound are amazing. Here is a mosaic I created with my Flickr snaps.

This is a calendar I created.
A fun movie poster I made with an old Uttaranchal trekking photograph (it was truly a physically exhausting trek!).

A watercolour framing of an old Taman Negara snap.

I feel like a kid with a toy with these tools. I love it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

V for Vendetta

This is a ripping good movie – haven’t been entertained like this in quite a while. The Wachowski brothers tell a darn good story. They had a tough act to follow after Matrix, but they come good.

Of course, they have it in for Mr. Bush and that is pretty obvious. The England they portray, somewhere in the not-so-far future is a good estimate of what the US could be in 20 years time if the neo-conservatives had their way without any opposition. It’s an extreme portrayal, but if you can ignore the agenda, and just watch the movie as a movie, you can come away pretty satisfied with the experience.

The story is set in an England ruled by a Chancellor Sutler (John Hurt)who oversees a police state. He bans the Koran, torments gays and fosters a climate of fear. People who protest disappear overnight in camps that seem like Aushwitz but could as well be an approximation of Guantanamo Bay. V (Hugo Weaving whose face is never seen in the movie) is a Guy Fawkes mask-wearing former victim of the camp who is out to create a revolution. He spouts Shakespeare, leaves a rose as his signature in death scenes and is holed up in an underground Bat-cave-like hide-out filled with all things banned in the state outside. Evey (Natalie Portman) is the girl next door who is caught up in V’s grand plan – he starts off by blowing up the Old Bailey on Guy Fawkes day and announces his plan to blow up the Parliament buildings on the next 5th of November, inviting people who believe that they are living in a freedom-less world to join him. He has some pretty powerful lines – ‘a building is a symbol’ he says, when asked why he sets out to blow up buildings. After 9/11, that is a brave statement to make in a mainstream movie. I liked another line of his – ‘what is a revolution without dancing’, he says.

V gets the revolution he wanted – in a series of stylish, perfectly co-ordinated action sequences reminiscent of and yet distinct from Matrix. Leaving behind another classic line as a reminder to his by now vanquished foes – about how a man may die but the idea he represents will not. And a politically mature Evey to carry out his final grand plan.

I thought it was a brave movie made in an age of terrorism(one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter, after all). It drew flak from a lot of people about the kind of messages it sends out (the original author of the graphic novel this book is based on, removed his names from the credits – his setting was Margaret Thatcher’s England) but as a pure entertainer, it is quite one of the best I have seen in a long while.