Tuesday, December 14, 2010

APRICOT : Do You Remember Your First Love?

Do you remember your first love?

Do you ..

Well. I think, I do.

The opening paragraph of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's splendidly beautiful novel Love In The Time Of Cholera starts like this ~

It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.

The aroma of not-so-ripened guavas always remind me of my fancy for love during my adolescence. It was a time when fairy tales were real, when innocence ruled the heart and when the clear blue sky blessed you with its beatific smile. My first puppy love was a Teacher in the primary. I was in my fifth grade then. My maiden angel descended from heaven and smiled at me. She had just joined the school. She might have completed her college then and would have been appointed by the strict headmaster to teach the kindergarden. Wearing those playful strands of white jasmine flowers on her long plait, she was spreading an ebullient mirth in the air which was fragrant all around her. She had that mesmeric wheatish complexion, which overwhelmd my infatuation. Calf love can have no bounds for its illusions. I was too sure that she took a liking to me. For there was a glow in her face whenever she glimpsed at me. I believed that her eyes became more expressive and her smile more enlivening at my very sight. All I needed was just an affirmation of my love. During those days, as were their wont, my Gods kept on conspiring against me. Until one day, they finally relented.

It was a fine morning. One such morning when you are happy enough to be born on this Earth. And feel elated for having been gifted with those eyes, which can observe the sun gleaming on the dew drop atop a blade of grass. Morning prayer was routinely going on in the school ground. Standing in their respective queues of classes, with eyes closed, everyone was parroting those lines uttered in feigned solemnity. It was the first and the last time when I had ever prayed at school. That if I open my eyes and look at the Teacher, she should do the same. My heart was pounding and my eyes were hesitantly twitching to open. I gathered my wits and slowly unlocked my eyelids. And looked at her. My Gods answered the call by opening the gates of heaven. She had not only looked at me, but also gave that soulful smile. It was an eternal glimpse that would remain etched in my memory. My first love was thus validated in heaven. But like some of those sad fairy tales, this too ended abruptly. Before any further progress, she stopped coming to school. There was a talk in the school that she was going to get married. Her moronic parents had arranged a dimwit groom and cursed my love into oblivion. My flight of fancy overcame its dismay by consoling itself that afterall it was an arranged marriage forced upon her. For I did not have any iota of doubt that if at all she was given the choice of her love, she would have definitely chosen me!

Apricot is an independant short film directed by Ben Briand. In a short span of about ten minutes, this film transports the viewer into a nostalgic trip of one's personal universe. A chance encounter with a stranger occurs for a girl with a guy. They sit and talk over coffee in a hotel. He feels intuitively connected to her. And wants to know more of her. He probes her about her first love. She prompts him back to tell about his, for which he says he was not able to remember. However, she asks him to recollect and narrate when his turn comes and goes down in her memory lane. A poetic flashback with a reverberating soundtrack follows. The conversation gets a little more personal and a rich tapestry of human emotions get woven to evolve into a relationship between them. This wonderful short film has a fabulous story telling style with the hand-held camera capturing all the myriad hues and colours expressed by  two human faces. Apricot is an amazing work of cinematic art made in the genre of short films, which is an interesting domain of experimentation for those who do not want to get compromised with the commercial compulsions of mainstream feature film oriented cinema. The artistic beauty of Apricot lies in the way in which it captures not only how the human mind recreates its past memory but also how it encounters the present much more mysteriously.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Psychopathology Of Blogging







Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Longing To Get Back Home..

Longing ~ Shaun Peck

Almost heaven,
West Virginia,
Blue Ridge Mountains,
Shenandoah River -
Life is old there
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Growin' like a breeze

Country Roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

All my memories gathered 'round her
Miner's lady, stranger to blue water
Dark and dusty, painted on the sky
Misty taste of moonshine
Teardrops in my eye

Country Roads, take me home
To the place where I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

I hear her voice
In the mornin' hour she calls me
The radio reminds me of my home far away
And drivin' down the road I get a feelin'
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

Country Roads, take me home
To the place where I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

Country Roads, take me home
To the place where I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, now country roads
Take me home, now country roads

~ John Denver

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Last Tango In Paris : Bernardo Bertolucci

Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango In Paris is a disturbing masterpiece which keeps visiting my mind during various occasions of living. Described as pornographic and obscene, this controversial film was banned in many countries. The film revolves around two characters Paul (Marlon Brando) and Jeanne (Maria Schneider). It is about experimenting with an anonymous relationship, a blind date, an one night stand, which turns into a torrid passion for both involved. In the process, the myriad colours of human love explode with all its highs and lows, its ecstasies and agonies. In this particular sequence, the fluidity of love gets depicted with an irreverential tone and tenor, apart from mocking at the hypocritical conventions of social life. It is one of the most poignant moments in the history of narrative cinema.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Heard God Laughing ~ Hāfez-e Šhīrāzī

 (Tomb of Hafez in Shiraz, Iran)



Why carry a whole load of books

Upon your back

Climbing this mountain,

When tonight,

Just a few thoughts of God

Will light the holy fire.




Is where the Real Fun starts.

There's too much counting

Everywhere else!

Go for a walk, if it is not too dark.

Get some fresh air, try to smile.

Say something kind

To a safe-looking stranger, if one happens by.

Always exercise your heart's knowing.

You might as well attempt something real

Along this path:

Take your spouse or lover into your arms

The way you did when you first met.

Let tenderness pour from your eyes

The way the Sun gazes warmly on the earth.

Play a game with some children.

Extend yourself to a friend.

Sing a few ribald songs to your pets and plants –

Why not let them get drunk and wild!

Let's toast

Every rung we've climbed on Evolution's ladder.

Whisper, "I love you! I love you!"

To the whole mad world.

Let's stop reading about God -

We will never understand Him.

Jump to your feet, wave your fists,

Threaten and warn the whole Universe

That your heart can no longer live

Without real love!

I know the way you can get

When you have not had a drink of Love:

Your face hardens,

Your sweet muscles cramp.

Children become concerned

About a strange look that appears in your eyes

Which even begins to worry your own mirror

And nose.

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness

And call an important conference in a tall tree.

They decide which secret code to chant

To help your mind and soul.

Even angels fear that brand of madness

That arrays itself against the world

And throws sharp stones and spears into

The innocent

And into one's self

Oh, I know the way you can get

If you have not been out drinking Love:

You might rip apart

Every sentence your friends and teachers say,

Looking for hidden clauses.

You might weigh every word on a scale

Like a dead fish.

You might pull out a ruler to measure

From every angle in your darkness

The beautiful dimensions of a heart you once


I know the way you can get

If you have not had a drink from Love's


That is why all the Great Ones speak of

The vital need

To keep Remembering God,

So you will come to know and see Him

As being so Playful

And Wanting,

Just Wanting to help.

That is why Hafez says:

Bring your cup near me,

For I am a Sweet Old Vagabond

With an Infinite Leaking Barrel

Of Light and Laughter and Truth

That the Beloved has tied to my back.

Dear one,

Indeed, please bring your heart near me.

For all I care about

Is quenching your thirst for freedom!

All a Sane man can ever care about

Is giving Love!


Just ask the donkey in me

To speak to the donkey in you,

When I have so many other beautiful animals

And brilliant colored birds inside

That are all longing to say something wonderful

And exciting to your heart?

Let's open all the locked doors upon our eyes

That keep us from knowing the Intelligence

That begets love

And a more lively and satisfying conversation

With the Friend.

Let's turn loose our golden falcons

So that they can meet in the sky

Where our spirits belong -

Necking like two

Hot kids.

Let's hold hands and get drunk near the sun

And sing sweet songs to God

Until He joins us with a few notes

From His own sublime lute and drum.

If you have a better idea

Of how to pass a lonely night

After your glands may have performed

All their little magic

Then speak up sweethearts, speak up,

For Hafez and all the world will listen.

Why just bring your donkey to me

Asking for stale hay

And a boring conference with the idiot

In regards to this precious matter –

Such a precious matter as love,

When I have so many other divine animals

And brilliant colored birds inside

That are all longing

To so sweetly


You carry all the ingredients

To turn your existence into joy,

Mix them, mix



Do sad people have in


It seems

They have all built a shrine

To the past

And often go there

And do a strange wail and


What is the beginning of


It is to stop being

So religious





Has known God,

Not the God of names,

Not the God of don'ts,

Not the God who ever does

Anything weird,

But the God who only knows four words

And keeps repeating them, saying:

"Come dance with Me."





Is not easy

To stop thinking ill

Of others.

Usually one must enter into a friendship

With a person

Who has accomplished that great feat himself



Might start to rub off on you

Of that


Last night,

from the cypress branch,

the nightingale sang,

In Old Persian tones,

the lesson of spiritual stations.


~ Hāfez-e Šhīrāzī (14th Century)

(Translated By Daniel Ladinsky) 


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Gandhi, Mon Amour..

Today, you have worn on your heads a crown of thorns. The seat of power is a nasty thing. You have to remain ever wakeful on that seat. You have to be more truthful, more non-violent, more humble and more forbearing. You had been put to test during the British regime. But in a way it was no test at all. But now there will be no end to your being tested. Do not fall a prey to the lure of wealth. May God help you! You are there to serve the villages and the poor.

~ Mohandas K. Gandhi on 15th of August 1947 at Calcutta

(Manu Gandhi : The Miracle Of Calcutta)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Painting : Vincent van Gogh's 'The Potato Eaters'

Vincent van Gogh : The Potato Eaters (1885)

There are things which we feel to be good and true, though in the cold light of reason and calculation many things remain incomprehensible and dark. And though the society in which we live considers such actions thoughtless, or reckless, or I don't know what else, what can we say if once the hidden forces of sympathy and love have been roused in us? And though it may be that we cannot argue against the reasoning sentiment and to act from impulse, one would almost conclude that some people have cauterized certain sensitive nerves within them, especially those which, combined, are called conscience. Well, I pity those people; in my opinion, they travel through life without compass..

What I think about my own work is that the painting of the peasants eating potatoes that I did in Nuenen is after all the best thing I did..

You see, I really have wanted to make it so that people get the idea that these folk, who are eating their potatoes by the light of their little lamp, have tilled the earth themselves with these hands they are putting in the dish, and so it speaks of manual labour and — that they have thus honestly earned their food. I wanted it to give the idea of a wholly different way of life from ours — the so-called civilized people. So I certainly don’t want everyone just to admire it or approve of it without knowing why..

~ Vincent to Theo

Friday, August 13, 2010

Television : Roald Dahl

(Peter Mertens : Kill The Television)

The most important thing we've learned,

So far as children are concerned,

Is never, NEVER, NEVER let

Them near your television set --

Or better still, just don't install

The idiotic thing at all.

In almost every house we've been,

We've watched them gaping at the screen.

They loll and slop and lounge about,

And stare until their eyes pop out.

(Last week in someone's place we saw

A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)

They sit and stare and stare and sit

Until they're hypnotised by it,

Until they're absolutely drunk

With all that shocking ghastly junk.

Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,

They don't climb out the window sill,

They never fight or kick or punch,

They leave you free to cook the lunch

And wash the dishes in the sink --

But did you ever stop to think,

To wonder just exactly what

This does to your beloved tot?










'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,

'But if we take the set away,

What shall we do to entertain

Our darling children? Please explain!'

We'll answer this by asking you,

'What used the darling ones to do?

'How used they keep themselves contented

Before this monster was invented?'

Have you forgotten? Don't you know?

We'll say it very loud and slow:

THEY ... USED ... TO ... READ! They'd READ and READ,

AND READ and READ, and then proceed

To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!

One half their lives was reading books!

The nursery shelves held books galore!

Books cluttered up the nursery floor!

And in the bedroom, by the bed,

More books were waiting to be read!

Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales

Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales

And treasure isles, and distant shores

Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,

And pirates wearing purple pants,

And sailing ships and elephants,

And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,

Stirring away at something hot.

(It smells so good, what can it be?

Good gracious, it's Penelope.)

The younger ones had Beatrix Potter

With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,

And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,

And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-

Just How The Camel Got His Hump,

And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,

And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,

There's Mr. Rate and Mr. Mole-

Oh, books, what books they used to know,

Those children living long ago!

So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,

Go throw your TV set away,

And in its place you can install

A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

Then fill the shelves with lots of books,

Ignoring all the dirty looks,

The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,

And children hitting you with sticks-

Fear not, because we promise you

That, in about a week or two

Of having nothing else to do,

They'll now begin to feel the need

Of having something to read.

And once they start -- oh girl! oh boy!

You watch the slowly growing joy

That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen

They'll wonder what they'd ever seen

In that ridiculous machine,

That nauseating, foul, unclean,

Repulsive television screen!

And later, each and every kid

Will love you more for what you did.

~ Roald Dahl (1916 ~ 1990)


Friday, July 30, 2010

Painting : George Grosz's 'Eclipse Of The Sun'

Born in Berlin, George Grosz (1893-1959) was a leading member of the Dada Movement, who later painted many caustic works criticizing the rise of Nazism. Like many artists who fled Europe, Grosz immigrated to the United States and was teaching at the Art Students League in New York. Grosz returned to Germany in May 1959 to live out his days, but died from a fall down a flight of stairs within weeks of his return.

George Grosz’s large masterpiece Eclipse of the Sun of 1926 became available only in 1968, after it was acquired by the Heckscher Museum of Art. The painting is a scathing indictment of the military-industrial complex and of materialism, featuring an industrialist, a general, and four headless members of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie, all under a sun that is obscured by a dollar sign. The donkey atop the table and the dead skeleton strewn on the floor are the tell-tale signs of modern nation-states across the world. Eclipse of the Sun is one of the most important oil paintings of the 20th Century.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Life & Death Of A Model

As life unfolded its quirks, she got used to living on a precipice. She was in and out of relationships. She fell apart from the guys whom she loved. For they ended up giving her more grief than solace. Finally she fell apart from herself. From becoming Miss Mauritius in the early 1990s to the voluptuous Kama-Sutra condom ad during the same decade, she had seen it all. Love and relationships, cocaine and champagne, trust and betrayals. She was settling down in Mumbai - an urban phantasmagoria of maddening frenzy. A city which did and undid her. Bollywood did not beckon her. She continued to struggle past her prime to establish herself. Sometime back she had started an event management company with one of her boyfriends. It did not work out. Then she embarked one on her own. And kept dabbling with fashion choreography. Only about a couple of months ago, she met another guy - much younger by age. She began to send him anonymous bouquet of flowers, while they were texting amorous sms-es. Love and passion got exchanged via BlackBerry and FaceBook. Once, he had even promised her total loyalty, to assuage her from her spiralling bouts of insecutiry. She began to nurture the obsession of matrimony in her mind. Probably as a panacea to all the ills of a failing life. As a therapy to her fractured soul.

He was just in for a fling. Being a serial-dater, he revelled in lavish parties and in the company of the bold and the beautiful. Simultaneously involved with others as well. When she confronted him head-on, he confessed her that he was not ready for any real commitment. What she might have apprehended all along would have been spelt lucidly by him in black and white. A dreaded nightmare came true, shattering all the castles in her mindscape. A bloodied altercation followed that night. He left her flat and drove his car back home, safely. After many hours of trauma and turbulence, she scribbled in her diary, 'Why are you not able to understand me..Will I've to be reborn for you to understand me..You've become dear to me in such a small time..Why can't you even give me a small place in your life..', appending his name in between those broken lines with a final sentence, 'You killed me..', before sedating herself more. Not to take any chances, she opened her gas stove on. She then took a rope and hung herself. When the door was broke open after more than twelve hours, they could immediately find only four of her six pet cats. They other two were found much later - hiding, shivering and scared. Their fond eyes carried away with them, the multiple truths and manifold tales in the life of the dusky exquisite damsel Viveka Babajee, into the eternal highway, which she had always longed for.

Modelling is no easy job. It is a tough career to opt for. The competetion is cut-throat. Slips are too many. And the speed to catch up is dizzying. The fashion industry is a complex labyrinth. Young people with chiselled bodies get caught in the whirlpool of desire to make it real big and earn a good lot of money. And not just the brawn. Even their brains are sharper. They are as clever as any fellow competitor in any other domain of modern existence and its varied markets. Many models in the post-liberalisation scenario are deft in playing the dubious game with mind-blowing ruthlessness and astonishing aplomb. They do not yell as seriously hilarious as Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Tom Cruise did in that memorable Jerry Maguire, but simply hiss into your ears with a spine-chilling sternness : show me the money! Strange but true, the archaic notions of feminism are being forcibly redefined. The fashion industry and modelling world do not simply stereotype women into the dominant narratives as stipulated and fantasised by the Western Anglo-Saxonic White male gaze. They do not dumbly prejudice the younger generation of girls, guys and LGBT to ape the unrealistic physical beauty standards resulting in a skewed relationship with their body images. On the contrary, it has opened up a plethora of multicultural spaces for the Black, the Brown, the Yellow and the Rainbow coloured to create their own stratagems of empowerment. Encompassing all the genders and the transgendered. In fact, this is the only post-modern domain where gender-bender is at its exuberant zenith!

Life is not always beautiful. In the developing Afro-Asian world, the social moorings still play a crucial role in shaping the destiny of individuals. They classify successes and failures in an insidious and topsy-turvy manner, wrecking havoc in the lives of many a sensitive beings. One should be shamelessly thick-skinned and psycho-pathologically tough to survive the prodding and the beating. Being complicit with all the murky games of existence is no easy task. To piece together the splintered self and yet to prance around with a smug smile takes a heavy toll. Body and soul. Some might be able to make it. And some might flounder and fall down on the wayside. It is not because of one's inherent strength or weakness that they happen. The question of Chance versus Necessity haunt and baffle humanity from the times of Plato's dear bete noire Democritus to Jacques Monod. It is easy to pontificate as to why Viveka Babajee should not have committed suicide. There may be dime a dozen reasons and logic as to how she ought to have continued to live like the rest of us. Probably she should have got married to a wacko and lived a dead life. Is it so Herculean to learn a few basic tricks and professionally manage the matrimonial show? I do not intend to be judgemental about her suicide. It's her life. And she has exercised her sacrosanct right to die. It is unfair and tragic. But it is her deliberate choice. So be it.  

Not all suicides are as honourable and heroic as the seppuku or hara-kiri of a Japanese Samurai. In most of the cases, it is the consequence of unbearable pain and anguish, loneliness and misery. To take the ultimate step of annihilating one's own victimised self by physical extermination is excruciating. The theoretical underpinnings of karma and reincarnation, which are common amongst most of the ancient religions, do not endorse the idea of suicide. But the tormented self, who opts for such an extreme step of suicide, might probably be longing to transmigrate into a better soul and body in the forthcoming rebirth. But I wonder if at all any longing would exist at that stage of despondency. Who knows. On this planet Earth, millions of species are born and dead during every second of the maha kaala chakra. Human species is just one of it. Nevertheless, each life of every species is precious and sacred. The mystical experience called death should happen as natural and as celebratory as life. That can be our only prayer. The least that life can expect from any responsible being is that one should not get caught in a vicious trap of one's own making in the name of some so-called love, upstart materialism and half-baked spirituality. Finally ending up vainly in such a futile exit. The suicide of Viveka Babajee disturbs us more than the hundreds of other deaths that we read everyday in the media. Naturally so. Because she is part of our aspirational middle class, with the same value systems, dilemmas and hypocrisies. She is one of us. We share similar dreams and delusions, fantasies and nightmares, successes and failures. More than that, it makes us feel indirectly guilty as well. For we have devoured the erotic images of Viveka Babajee like rodents in lurch. Objectified her body and consumed it hardcore. Her suicide has exposed certain disconcerting fault-lines in our sanctimonious double standards regarding love, sex and marriage. But we would surreptitiously camouflage it in order to go around with our saccharine deceptions. And we shall label it as successful living.  Andy Warhol, the towering figure of the pop-art movement had prognosed in the late 1960s that, in the future, eveyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes! Sadly in the case of Viveka Babajee, it has become posthumous.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Priceless (French) : A Beautiful Journey In Romance

~ Stills of the French Actress Audrey Tautou ~

It has been a long time since I had a lazy weekend. Without travelling. Without reading. Without any binges or consequent hang-overs. It is indeed fabulous to sleep on and on. To escape the tyranny of the clock has been one of the cherished longings of my life. And I could indulge in such luxuries only once in a while. It certainly helps. To reinvigorate and rescue some sanity from the maddening life. I slumbered this Sunday away and woke up in the middle of a beautiful dream which am not able to recollect. It must have been beautiful for I woke up with a smile inside the quilt. It was dark and the sound of the rains falling from the skies embraced me with a warm welcome, held my hands and took me to the real from the ethereal. Both being unusually tantalising. Like Charles Baudelaire, I was tempted to ask the wind and the wave, ask the star, the bird, or the clock, ask everything that flies, everything that moans, everything that flows, everything that sings, everything that speaks, ask them, what time it is! And the wind, the wave, the star, the bird and the clock will all reply: “It is Time to get drunk! If you are not to be the martyred slaves of Time, be perpetually drunk! With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you please.” When I saw the time with a vengeance, it was half-past One in the afternoon. A Cheshire Cat smile adorned my mischievous face, for I felt like having vanquished the wicked tickling time!

The idiot box has resurrected itself with some intelligence after the arrival of two interesting channels : NDTV Lumiere and UTV World Movies. Thanks to the marketing brilliance of Prannoy Roy and Ronnie Screwvala, we get to see some amazing movies from the world cinema. It is a real leap from those good old Doordarshan days when we used to watch the regional Indian movies on Sunday afternoons after the news for the hearing impaired and some world movies on late Friday nights after a long wait. With the advent of the DVDs, this niche market is becoming more sophisticated with the demand and supply chain veering towards a reasonable equilibrium. These days, you can acquire a Fritz Lang or a Jacques Tati, a Wim Wenders or a Fatih Akin with so much ease. This was unimaginable until a few years ago. Hope it should not take much time to get a Pier Paolo Pasolini or a Sergei Parajnov from a Landmark shop, rather than depending upon torrentz downloads and the subsequent sub-titling labour involved in the process. During the last few months, both the Tamil and Hindi film industry have started churning out muck after muck. The latest ones being Mani Ratnam's Raavan and Punit Malhotra's I Hate Luv Stories. With the kind of reviews both had got, I chose to stay indoors and enjoy the rains instead of getting into a masochistic exercise of watching some trash. Surprisingly, during such times, the rain god blesses you doubly well. That is how I got to watch the French movie Priceless on NDTV Lumiere this Sunday.

Jean works as a bartender in a hotel and pretends to be a rich man. He woos Irene, whose sole aim is to enjoy all the riches of life and make it big. She loves to be solicited by the rich and the lonely lot, by trading her seductive company. After a romantic rendezvous with Jean, Irene discovers the real net worth of Jean and dumps him. The forlorn Jean pursues Irene with a few encounters which end up becoming comic rather than striking any warm note in the heart of Irene. Jean becomes a gigolo and gets picked up by a wealthy widow. The wealthy old lady pampers Jean to satisfy her whims and fancies arising out of her need to care and to be taken care of. Jean starts leading his dream-come-true lifestyle, which is otherwise unaffordable. Meanwhile, Irene becomes an escort of a rich patron whose is again lonely and lost in the material world. Both the weird pairs come to stay at the same luxurious hotel. This paves way for Jean to meet Irene on the sly. Irene teaches Jean the art of digging more money and favours from his client. The trick works for a while but gets discovered by the smarter old lady who is a past master in the game. The old lady ends up by merely warning Jean not to act coy henceforth, as she finds herself entangled in her emotions towards Jean. Gradually, Irene and Jean start missing each other amidst their swanky and opulent lives which they have started indulging themselves. During the middle of a night, when their respective clients are fast asleep, both Irene and Jean escape to the sea shore in the vicinity, have champagne and start feeling an overwhelming intimacy towards each other. They wake up at the dawn and without expressing a word to each other, return to the hotel. I leave the rest of the story to be relished by watching the movie only.

What enchanted me the most in the movie is the way the characters are portrayed. The opulence of the rich is not portrayed as villainous and ugly. And the longing for the riches by the under-privileged is not run down over with any moral sermoninising. Both have their own charms and their own truths. Every character is handled with an empathy and a genuineness worthy of itself. Though the movie ends in a happy note with the triumph of true love over money, it has been nuanced with all the richness of the wealthy. A very interesting facet of the movie is that though both the lovers might be sleeping with their respective clients as a professional hazard, they don't moralise about it at all and their love for each other grows more and more passionate. The director has accomplished this with such ease and finesee that one may not find it incongruous in anyway! That is no ordinary feat by the brilliant director Pierre Salvadori. And the real discovery for me is Audrey Tautou. She is a wonder of a human being, encapsulating all the myriad expressions moulded into a single beautiful face. The most memorable character in this movie Priceless is Irene, which has been performed remarkably well by Audrey Tautou. Am yet to watch any of her other famous movies like Amelie, The Da Vinci Code or Coco Avant Chanel, to name a few. Hope to watch them soon.

Simple but endearing romantic movies like this are a delight to watch. Especially when it rains!

Movie Rating : 8 out of 10

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Urban Exigencies!

These are depressing times..

Let us ease it up, by enlightening ourselves on a crucial exigency!

Happy Disease-Free Life!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pic & Quote Of The Month

(Avvaiyar, Thiruvalluvar & Subramanya Bharathi At The World Classical Tamil Conference)

The Tamil language is older than Sanskrit and is "the mother of all languages in the world". More than 20 Tamil words had been found in Vedas by linguist Robert Caldwell, who coined the term Dravidian languages and first declared Tamil as a classical language. From this we learn that Tamil had an existence prior to Sanskrit. Tamil is not only an international language, it is like a mother of all languages in the world. Tamil scholar Devaneya Pavanar had established that Tamil is the primary classical language of the world. Root Tamil words exist in many languages of the world in various modifications but retaining the semantic meaning. In the world languages, it is difficult to find a basic word that does not have some link with the Tamil word. Hence, Tamil has the status of the mother tongue in the world.

~ Dr.'Kalaignar' 'Muthamizh Kavingnar' M.Karunanidhi

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rain Drops..

raindrops pouring down my window

and they remind me of teardrops I shed on my pillow

I said raindrops pouring down my window

and they remind me of teardrops I shed on my pillow

that morning when I woke up it was raining

cats and dogs

the sky was covered so grew and

I knew something was wrong

but I couldn't couldn't figure it out what

depressed my little little soul Lord

until I got that message which was freezing my blood and soul heh

she was up up and gone with a brother brother

though she told she woulda never never never never never

but the time has told the truth and I'm the stupid fool who feels blue heh

raindrops pouring down my window

and they remind me of teardrops I shed on my pillow

I said raindrops pouring down my window

and they remind me of teardrops I shed on my pillow

the tide was high the tide was low

some nights I was lonely some nights I was in love

the seasons they oh they passed by

still I felt we're living just a dirty dirty lie

but we kept it on that hurtful game

Lord it was a shame a shame a shame

'cause we were young young to see that

the things we wanted that they couldn't be and

our untouchable love now it was gone gone gone gone away

you were grabbing for more and I was playing the fool again and

raindrops pouring down my window

and they remind me of teardrops I shed on my pillow

I said raindrops pouring down my window

and they remind me of teardrops I shed on my pillow

so I shed tears and tears and tears

and they passed by the years the years

until I heard a heavenly call

to let go evrything and just fall fall fall

into love with loneliness which coulda never hurt me as bad as bad

as all the years that we've been through

darlin I am go no more I love you

raindrops pouring down my window

and they remind me of teardrops I shed on my pillow

I said

raindrops pouring down my window

and they remind me of teardrops I shed on my pillow

~ Martin Jondo

Monday, May 31, 2010

Ludwig van Beethoven : A Letter & The Eroica

For my brothers Carl and [Johann] Beethoven

Oh you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn, or misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me? You do not know the secret cause which makes me seem that way to you. From childhood on, me heart and soul have been full of the tender feeling of goodwill, and I was ever inclined to accomplish great things. But, think that for six years now I have been hopelessly afflicted, made worse by senseless physicians, from year to year deceived with hopes of improvement, finally compelled to face the prospect of a lasting malady (whose cure will take years or, perhaps, be impossible). Though born with a fiery, active temperament, even susceptible to the diversions of society, I was soon compelled to withdraw myself, to live life alone. If at times I tried to forget all this, oh how harshly I was I flung back by the doubly sad experience of my bad hearing. Yet it was impossible for me to say to people, "Speak louder, shout, for I am deaf." Ah, how could I possibly admit an infirmity in the one sense which ought to be more perfect in me than others, a sense which I once possessed in the highest perfection, a perfection such as few in my profession enjoy or ever have enjoyed.--Oh I cannot do it; therefore forgive me when you see me draw back when I would have gladly mingled with you.

My misfortune is doubly painful to me because I am bound to be misunderstood; for me there can be no relaxation with my fellow men, no refined conversations, no mutual exchange of ideas. I must live almost alone, like one who has been banished; I can mix with society only as much as true necessity demands. If I approach near to people a hot terror seizes upon me, and I fear being exposed to the danger that my condition might be noticed. Thus it has been during the last six months which I have spent in the country. By ordering me to spare my hearing as much as possible, my intelligent doctor almost fell in with my own present frame of mind, though sometimes I ran counter to it by yielding to my desire for companionship. But what a humiliation for me when someone standing next to me heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing, or someone heard a shepherd singing and again I heard nothing. Such incidents drove me almost to despair; a little more of that and I would have ended me life -- it was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me. So I endured this wretched existence -- truly wretched for so susceptible a body, which can be thrown by a sudden change from the best condition to the very worst. -- Patience, they say, is what I must now choose for my guide, and I have done so -- I hope my determination will remain firm to endure until it pleases the inexorable Parcae to break the thread. Perhaps I shall get better, perhaps not; I am ready. -- Forced to become a philosopher already in my twenty-eighth year, oh it is not easy, and for the artist much more difficult than for anyone else. 'Divine one, thou seest me inmost soul thou knowest that therein dwells the love of mankind and the desire to do good'. Oh fellow men, when at some point you read this, consider then that you have done me an injustice; someone who has had misfortune man console himself to find a similar case to his, who despite all the limitations of Nature nevertheless did everything within his powers to become accepted among worthy artists and men. 'You, my brothers Carl and [Johann], as soon as I am dead, if Dr. Schmidt is still alive, ask him in my name to describe my malady, and attach this written documentation to his account of my illness so that so far as it possible at least the world may become reconciled to me after my death".

At the same time, I declare you two to be the heirs to my small fortune (if so it can be called); divide it fairly; bear with and help each other. What injury you have done me you know was long ago forgiven. To you, brother Carl, I give special thanks for the attachment you have shown me of late. It is my wish that you may have a better and freer life than I have had. Recommend virtue to your children; it alone, not money, can make them happy. I speak from experience; this was what upheld me in time of misery. Thanks to it and to my art, I did not end my life by suicide -- Farewell and love each other -- I thank all my friends, particularly Prince Lichnowsky's and Professor Schmidt -- I would like the instruments from Prince L. to be preserved by one of you, but not to be the cause of strife between you, and as soon as they can serve you a better purpose, then sell them. How happy I shall be if can still be helpful to you in my grave -- so be it. -- With joy I hasten to my death. -- If it comes before I have had the chance to develop all my artistic capacities, it will still be coming too soon despite my harsh fate, and I should probably wish it later -- yet even so I should be happy, for would it not free me from a state of endless suffering? -- Come when thou wilt, I shall meet thee bravely. -- Farewell and do not wholly forget me when I am dead; I deserve this from you, for during my lifetime I was thinking of you often and of ways to make you happy -- please be so --

~ Ludwig van Beethoven

Heiligenstadt, October 6th, 1802

Known as The Heiligenstadt Testament, this letter was written by Beethoven in 1802. He was running 33 then. That year marked the culmination of Beethoven's personal and artistic crises. This unsent letter, addressed to his brothers, was discovered in his room after his death in 1827. Heiligenstadt is a small village located in the north of Vienna, surrounded by forests. Heeding to the advice of his doctor, Beethoven stayed at this village and took long strolls in the forests. His hearing problem became acute and he underwent a deep sense of anguish and loneliness at this failing faculty. The certainty of turning irreversibly deaf loomed large in the horizon. He realised that he would never be able to hear the sound of a distant flute or a sheperd's song again. This was an insurmountable tragedy for Beethoven as he had one of the sharpest ears in the history of humanity. At the personal front, his first love Giulietta Guicciardi turned down his proposal in the same year of 1802, as she hailed from the nobility and Beethoven was a commoner. Giulietta went away from the life of Beethoven to get married to some Count in the next year. All this led Beethoven to enter into depression and melancholy.

The mystery of life is that when one door closes, another one opens. More so, if one is bestowed with that Grace. Such a magical transformation happened during the Spring and Autumn of 1802 for Beethoven, who then emerged out more strongly. He overcame the despondency and surged out with creative flourish at the end of this disquieting episode. Shortly after writing The Heiligenstadt Testament in the form of the above letter, he completed his Second Symphony and began to work on Symphony No.3, the Eroica in 1802. During the same year, he had composed his Sonata No.14, also known as the Moonlight Sonata. It remains as one of the most beautiful of the 32 piano sonatas composed by Beethoven during his 57 years of living. Beethoven dedicated the Moonlight Sonata to his first love Giulietta. The immense energy and strength to Beethoven to continue his life's journey sprang out of the turbulence he underwent during 1802, creating masterly symphonies till his last and immortal Ninth Symphony, by which time he had become completely deaf. Out of the 16 string quartets composed by Beethoven, he aptly called his slow moving Fifteenth Quartet as a Holy Song of Thanks to Divinity, from one made well. This was one of the few last compostions of Beethoven composed during 1825, a few months before his death. Upon hearing this Quartet, his contemporary Franz Schubert is said to have remarked, "After this, what is left for us to write?".

Beethoven's Symphony No.3 was named by Beethoven himself as Eroica, which in Italian means the heroic. The work for this composition, though began in 1802, had got completed in 1804. This particular composition of Beethoven is regarded in the history of Western Classical Music to herald the end of Classical period and the beginning of the Romantic era. The Romantic musical form was the predominant musical form of the 19th Century and lasted upto the first decade of the 20th Century. The greatest composers of Romantic period include Hector Berlioz, Felix Mendelssohn, Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Antonin Dvorak, Nokolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Leos Janacek and ending with Gustav Mahler, from whom Modernism began in music during the 20th Century. To put it in perspective, the most significant composers of the Classical era of the 18th Century are Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. And the greatest composers of the preceding Baroque period of the 17th Century to mid-18th Century are Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Lucio Vivaldi. Each period in the history of Western Classical Music, starting from the post-Renaissance Baroque to the Modernism of the 20th Century, exhibit distinct attributes and unique characteristics in tune with the developments in other forms of art and human endeavour, along with the socio-economic changes in Europe. Each musical era along with their respective composers require detailed elaboration and in-depth understanding to appreciate Western Classical Music in better light. We shall try to venture into it, whenever an opportune moment emerges to do so. But before endeavouring further, one should cultivate the art of listening. One should learn how to be all ears. To nature, to human beings and to life. Then only one can listen to music.

Beethoven's Eroica has four movements in it. The four movements of this masterly Symphony can be related to the turmoil Beethoven had undergone during 1802.  The music critic John William Navin Sullivan, in his elaborate work Beethoven (1927), wrote that the first movement is an expression of Beethoven's courage in confronting his deafness, the second, slow and dirgelike, depicting the overwhelming despair he felt, the third, the scherzo, an indomitable uprising of creativity and the fourth an exuberant outpouring of creative energy. Beethoven had originally conceived of dedicating this symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte. But he got disgusted when Napoleon declared himself to be an Emperor in 1804 and tore the title page of the Symphony into pieces and threw it away. The title page of the composition was re-copied by Beethoven and then he re-named it as the Eroica. Though the entire Symphony No. 3 of Beethoven with all its four movements should be listened together to get a complete feel of it, my most favourite piece is the fourth movement of Eroica, especially the one conducted by one of the greatest conductors of 20th Century, Herbert von Karajan of Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. For me, this particular masterpiece of Beethoven signifies the triumph of Eros over Thanatos. It is a grand celebration of the joie de vivre of existence. It is the one of the most profound homages to the Divine Grace which eternally blesses life on Earth.