27 December 2011

The Black Swan

I saw this movie immediately after watching this clip, which basically warns against falling for narratives or stories. But how do we do that? We are all made up of stories and spew them by the minute. Yet, he (Tyler Cowen) has a point: when we tell a story, we inevitably tell it through our filter. So, any story leaves off something off the 'original' and takes on a little of the teller. A story also becomes in some way 'of' the story-teller.

So, it was in this frame of mind that I watched Black Swan. Saying anything about good vs. evil narratives is quite a self-conscious effort, post-Cowen's clip. But here goes.

The movie The Black Swan is all about white and black; good and pure juxtaposed against evil and sinful/lusty. But only until a point – after which good melts into evil and vice versa.

Nina needs to play both characters – the white swan and the black swan – equally well. She is a natural at playing the white swan, but when it comes to its dark counterpart, her performance pales, freezes. Because, however vulnerable her public, white self may be, it exercises great control over her self-mutilating, repressed side. This side can only come to its own at night, or when she is safe from the prying eyes of her over-protective (and perhaps abusive?) mother.

The role is a challenge to Nina quite simply because in real life, she is the white and black swan. With much difficulty, her white swan-self has kept the black swan out of her public, conscious reality. If she must play the black swan to perfection, she must come dangerously close to her hidden, tucked-away side. And, that’s a risk, and she knows it.

The best stories (hope Mr Cowen is not listening) or at least the ones I fall for are those that leave you with no answers, that meld white and black to an indistinguishable point.

Take Macbeth, for instance. Is Lady Macbeth entirely to blame for her husband’s deeds, or was she just the spark that kindled the murderous rage within Macbeth himself?

It is also a sad commentary on the temporal nature of show business. Youth-beauty-talent-the quest for perfection and eternal fame – and the descent into depressing reality.

Nina, of course, has her cake and eats it too. She delivers a perfect performance – black and white – and then dies – just as the plot requires. She does not live to deliver a lesser performance. Considering the toll that the black and white swans take on her, it’d be perhaps difficult for her to ever play the role again – let alone with perfection. Eternity is perfect, and her role was to remain eternal.

As with most personal, non-work things I write these days (or don't), this too requires much more elaboration than that in this post. But here I must end for lack of time.

31 July 2011

Delhi Belly

I watched the movie a month ago but found the time today to blog about it. I enjoyed the movie immensely and was surprised to find people scandalized and shocked by it. So, here's my quick defence of the movie:

Why do you like Delhi Belly?*
Its spontaneity, creative dialogue, and, of course, its celebration of oral sex, especially that rendered to women. Let the tribe of 21st century men grow!

But, DB is full of swear words! How can you like it?
Grow up. And, if you haven't done that yet, don't go to movies labelled 'A'. And please give adults their space, too!

What if children hear such words or see the movie?
I read my first adult fiction when I was perhaps in Class VI. Many of us have peeped into the forbidden adult world way before we were supposed to. It didn't hurt us, I should think. At least, it didn't hurt me. Children are not supposed to see this movie, of course, but if they do so sneakily and they will, there's no stopping them. It's a difficult world to grow up into, no doubt. But before we get too worked up about children learning adult stuff from a movie, what about the endless violence and mind-numbing zombie-like make-believe world celebrated in our movies? That's family entertainment, eh?

Why is the movie in English?
Why shouldn't it be? But DB has a Hindi version, too, which has done much better than the English one.

There's hardly any Delhi in the movie.
Meaning? Did you come to the movie expecting a quick tour of Delhi? Not that they didn't show any Delhi, either. So, cheapskates, get your free Delhi ride yourself!

*These were actual questions I heard discussed on various forms of media.

16 June 2011

Time is fiction.

Where do the minutes and hours, rolled up into days go?

What is memory, but traces and hints of these mysterious days?

The bane of memory. If not for it, there’d be no search for the absentee days.

If not for memory, everything’s hearsay. Subject to incredulity. For, beyond belief it all seems.

Why such consciousness of the self? Why not be unburdened by existence?

Why is the past such a comfort sometimes? Even when it is inexplicably lost.

Why does the past seem simpler? Definitely more decipherable, more manageable than that to come.

Why can’t the minutes and hours just mind their business and stay where they are?

Get real: time is but fiction. A tragicomedy at that.

17 February 2011

Rajib Das and his death

After a long time of seeing and hearing about killings in Bengal, this one made me really sad, depressed, angry, and restless. Even as I write this, I realize our individual impotencies, my own even. But if all I can do is write out my angst, than so shall I.

Rajib Das, a teenager, died in Barasat, suburban Bengal, sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning, from the injuries he sustained when he was fighting for his sister. He was fighting goons well within the sight and hearing of police constables. None of them helped her, as she wailed and begged. They told her they were on duty protecting the powers-that-be, so they couldn't possibly leave their post to come to the siblings' rescue.

Oh, there's more details to the story than I can bear to fill you in on here, please see the link. This incident is conclusive proof, if you needed any, of systemic failure in Bengal. In fact, now I know what they mean when they say, it is the system.

There is a corruption of morals and minds of the people that has seeped through and through. Forget about elections, people cant take their daily routine lives for granted in Bengal. Newborns can get eaten up by rodents, whole villages can be held at gun-point, lies can be told without batting eyelids... 35 years, and this state is screwed to the core. If you are alive, you should be more than grateful. I usually am not cynical and pessimistic, but this state does surely seem beyond hope.

One night, and it all changed for the Das family. And, people still ask, what is the alternative? I ask them, if this is not chaos, if this is not anarchy, what is?