02 June 2009

"ONCE" Upon a Time!

“Once” , within the first five minutes, makes you forget whether you have an extra pair of clean socks for tomorrow’s work or whether you should leave the vessels in sink postponing dishwasher duty. 

It transports you into the streets of Dublin making you a part of struggling guitarist life playing for money as well as testing his skill in music. You smell the streets he is playing in and you feel the pain in his songs. The movie is shot in handheld camera which adds to the power of this extraordinary storytelling. 

The protagonist is not given a name, neither his love interest and you realize that you don’t care as you understand them at a deeper level in your heart. The story of “Once” is about a struggling guitarist’s friendship with a Czech woman who plays the piano and helps him with his lyrics. This friendship starts with the mutual admiration of talent with the guitarist asking at the end of first date if he could sleep with her. It is in this scene that you realize the depth of the characters, the awkwardness, elegance and our choices in times of loneliness.  The Czech lady rejects him without angry outbursts or sad storming out from his room. She tells him a simple, firmest, NO. The character of Czech lady is that of a simple, extremely straight forward, self contained,honest hardworking,realistic woman.  Marketa Irglova, the lady who plays the Czech woman, transcends beyond her nationality and reminds you why we watch movies. 

Having removed sex from the equation, the guitarist makes up for his lapse wanting a true friendship, learning she has a daughter and mother living with her. She helps him with his lyrics and they develop their unpretentious love for each other. 

Is it Love ?a shoulder to lean on each other ? creative energy  and mutual admiration of each other ? or just plain companionship in the lonely world ? Perhaps its a mixture of all those things that makes this movie GREAT! And every mood is captured in the songs they sing whose lyrics make you pause, reflect and quietly stirs your melancholy. 

Perhaps the Greatness of this movie lies in the fact that it is so strongly rooted in reality with the Guitarist still pining for his lost girlfriend and the Czech lady knowing she has a husband back in her home country,yet, you see this rare, connected, untarnished friendship that can be called nothing short of love develop between these two artists who has portrayed it so honestly that you are right there with them in every scene. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova truly lives their characters making you believe them every moment on screen and making you yearn for them to be together. 

The Guitarist records his album and goes to London for better opportunities. The Czech lady’s husband comes to Dublin. Their love lingers in their music through the piano the Guitarist gifted the Czech lady and you are left with a lump in your throat at the end yet you are happy for having been a part of their lives. 

Art is best when it imitates life! Life is empty without Art!

“Once” is pure art reflecting hard Life, hard choices, capturing tender moments that sink deep into our hearts long after the movie has ended! 

It is a rare gem that happens only “once” in a very long time!


27 May 2009

Nodding Chair!

Nodding Chair! I used this phrase for first time, trying to explain the 20 members in the meeting room that it was not the sound of cuckoo being strangled by its neck but my chair scratching its butt..more precisely its leg on the floor!

For the rest of Hanuman tail meeting which is basically a meeting to talk about what we will do in future meetings, which is scheduled after three hours from this meeting, i wondered about “Nodding Chair” phrases. “Sleepy couch” sounds appropriate. It doesn’t belong to “Nodding Chair” oddity in its sound. I remember when my proficiency of the english language was less sophisticated than it is at present, my favourite used to be “Rotating Head” whenever i gotta migraine. 

While the Director was fudging the numbers and showing profit, i wondered about “Piss me off”. Sometimes when u got too much time and you have no access to caffeine, the strong, often times knowing reassuring phrases doesn’t make sense. How can u piss ME off ? and why would it be an irritating utterance ? If at all, it should be Piss me ON- so there is a threat that I might unzip and piss on him. But off ? that just doesn’t sound right. I think it must just  “Piss off” asking him to hold his piss. Now..that is one filling up..torture. Cheney, forget about waterboarding. Try “Water holding”. Serves them right for “pissing you ON”!

The English language ofcourse has other enticing, aesthetic, soul filling phrases. 

“O Thou invisible spirit of Wine,if thou hast no name,let us call thee devil” (written when Shakespeare tasted a cocktail of Martini mixed with two shots of rum, one shot of vodka and three shots of tequila, which Daniel Craig borrowed in Casino Royale). The Thou..hast..thee..lines are the best cure of insomnia. I recommend reading Doctor Faustus by Marlowe if Shakespeare can’t shake your eyes. People who spoke in those times must have been very polite. Although if you go through history, more people were killed during those times. I mean they carried their weapons in their hips..and rode horses. Imagine then..jumping up and down...without automatic secure lock for their guns. Riding their horses with lashes on the back of poor animal screaming “Hyah...! Hyah.....!” and then suddenly when the pissed ON horse jumps up “Dishooom....!”.

Their last words must have been “Thou..shalt fucked ye hast no balls but gunpowder smelleth..Amen!” 

Coming back to “Nodding Chairs”, “Scrotching Underwear” comes real close to perfect phrase to explain the scratching itch! All Superheroes have that problem..except the one true hero who showed how to avoid that problem....a la..Clark Kent...Superman..who eliminated the scrotch itch by shamelessly showing off his undies in front which made for in both speed and performance(lucky Lois Lane). If ever there was a running race err...flying race between Spider Man, Superman, Han-cock(maybe there is no hyphen there) and  Batman, the winner is scrotchless itchless underwear less(but Underwear front) Superman, hands down!

The next one is “Shaken but stirred”! Made famous by Mr.Bond..himself but more appropriate for California dwellers due to the constant earth quakes. Am sure the electronic retailers can borrow that and coin “Retuned but restocking fee’d”. I am sure the married brigade would re-phrase it as “Married but screwed!”. 

Perhaps the one phrase that still rings in my head to hold on and stare at my director who still thinks i am ACTUALLY intently listening inspite of my Mungerilal expression is, “Yes I CAN, TWO MORE MINUTES for Lunch!”

13 January 2009

Rahmaniac Moments!

And the Golden Globe for Best Original Music Score goes to AR Ruumen!

They might have bungled the name. They might have been as surprised as everyone else knowing Clint Eastwood was in the nomination ballot. In the end, it was hindi music that resonated in Beverly Hilton last evening. AR Rahman representing over billion people accepted the award for his individual genius! A Rahmaniac moment that is now part of another proud Indian moment!

No! It is not an approval from west that we seek. It is more of an acceptance of talent at global level!

For 16yrs, Rahman has engulfed us with his music and strangely each one of us has our very own life moments entwined with Rahman’s music. At the end of day, it is not the awards that one remembers but how his music intersperse our very own life moments. Nostalgia wouldn’t exist without them.

I remember my first “Rahmaniac” moment.

It was 1992. For the first time in the history of my hostel, Eighty kids ranging from 7 to 17, are completely silent and transfixed at the TV screen for four minutes and twenty seconds. The song that was playing on screen was “Chinna Chinna Aasai(yeh hain chota sa)” song from Roja. A new kind of sound. A new kind of rhythm. A unique interlude. At the end of it, we were all smiling at each other. We knew we were transported into a new realm that we had not experienced before.

Every fun moment from there on with friends involved his beats, rhythms and mesmerizing tunes. There was water bottle throws with “Humma Humma”(Bombay) during India losing their world cup matches.  The blaring “Urvashi…Take it Easy”(Kaadhalan,Hum Se Hain Muqabla) from the corner tea shop directed at girls walking into college. Mindless Dancing on top of the theatre seat to “Tanha Tanha” (Rangeela) feasting on Urmila Matondkar running on the beach (a la desi Baywatch moment)! Whistling non stop to jiving girls in "Usilampatti PenKutty" in college festival! And finally, our very own “slumdog” moment with “Pettai Rap” in dorm room! College wouldn’t have been so memorable without Rahman!

When you are in love, Rahman’s melodies have a way of exploring deep into your own emotions that seems to move with the waves of his keyboard. The stillness and depth in “Nahi Saamne” (Taal), the sereneness in “Swasame”(Thenali) , the high notes mixed with aching voice in “Khamoshi Raat”(Thakshak) forms a perfect background to your own love story.

The summer of 2006 was unusually hotter in Atlanta than the previous summers. Taking refuge in the mall theatre, we settled on a heist movie, "Inside Man". There was a bunch of desi college kids who sat on the side row and wouldn't shut up even after the trailers started. However, as the movie started, there was a surreal, out-of-body experience for both of us. The sound and image on screen did not match each other. The sound was "Chaiyya Chaiyya" song going full blast in Dolby surround sound but the images are that of a van moving in Brookyl bridge with Clive Owen in it! As we looked at each other, the common indian bond stood up with pride as we clapped together, as if to tell everyone, "THAT'S OUR SONG"! 

A quintessential memorable moment made possible by Rahman! 

Perhaps the most profound Rahmaniac moment is how Rahman leaves you with a lump in your throat every time you listen to “Maa Tujhe Salaam”(thai manne vanakkam-Tamil)! After 22 years, I was displaced from my India to US . Without Rahman soothing this displaced soul with "Yeh Jo Des Hain Mera"(Swades), "Tamizha Tamizha"(Bharath Humko-Roja) and many others,life outside India wouldn’t be same!  

There are few indians who transcend and transport you by their sheer skill, patriotism and above all, weaving art from "heart"!

Tendulkar, Manirathnam and Rahman are those individuals for me! 

Go Rahman! 

Grab the Oscar for us! 

And even if you don't, A BIG Thank You for being part of our very own moments!