Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Long time coming
A proper rant! A sufficiently pungent release of pent-up gas!
I am sick and tired of newschannels; I am sick and tired of newspapers; I am fucking sick and tired of some blogs; and until I do something about it, I will become sick and tired of existence, and turn into a Niluite (or is that Nilakantarian?)
Anyway, if you want to escape this dumbed-down world filled with analysis for idiots and mastications for morons, please refer to my blogroll and get to the link marked "Discovering Music". Please click through and see what real erudition is about. You could even disagree with stuff in it, but can only be humble about it.
Most of the 'analysis' I encounter makes me merely aggressive instead.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
In fact, I find absolutely nothing wrong with giving away free colour televisions. Ok, so what's wrong even if it is to promote the family business? Every family needs to promote its own business... that's what we mean by business.
But I do have one small niggling doubt. You can watch the news on TV and apparently can enrich your mind, but I have seen one or two things that would have been ridiculosly funny, only if they were not vaguely disturbing (one of them is even illegal!)
They are cheap to produce, cater to the baser instincts of the viewer and are perniciously addictive.
AND IT IS NOT EVEN PORN.
One programme was the ever-popular north Indian teleshopping thingy that was selling some sort of medallion that would help ward off 'evil eyes'. I suppose it even had testimonials from users and mentioned one or two (and to be politically correct, from various faiths and denominations) 'gurus', who had apparently deviced the said trinket after years of 'reasearch'.
The other was a quintessentially south Indian thing (Telugu dubbed)... the sort of stuff Vivek makes comedy out of. Yellow coloured milestones with red tongues painted on them. Invariably they involve CGI snakes from outerspace, cloned images of a dancing green godess, with many hands and as many weapons, a crying woman in red and yellow and a dying husband and quick zoom-in canted-shots of the said woman's 'thali'.
Free colour television indeed... yes please!
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Testubes and Tantrums
Terrific stuff about great personality clashes in science. From Calculus to Chandra.
Being bilingual myself, I try traversing the distance between English and தமிழ்
all the time. Also being fond of both literature and film, translation as a concept, deeply fascinates me; to the point of becoming an occasional obsession. Here is a very good website from the British Council www.literarytranslation.com (via: Anita & Amit)
Check out the workshop section for some real good material, including stuff on தமிழ் in the section on translating into English from a non-European language.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
The Gonads of Paarathi (not Bhaarathi)
While the pleasures of unsolicited puking are unmeasurable, when someone invites you to puke on him, there is one offer I cannot refuse.
What Selective Amnesia forgets (not ironically), is that people who read his blog expect him to write something of his own, and not just reproduce some other guy's stuff. But that's what they say about those who cannot fuck: they read porn and masturbate.
CC himself attests to his said impotence in the last line of his post; he also attempts to cloak his purveyance of pornography with the thin veil of poetry.
Note: As I am not him, I would not try and draw your attention to the very clever multilingual pun, and textual reference in the previous line.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Joyce was a prophet
Going through the blogosphere, I am amazed by the amount of crap that's around, and even though I'd love to patronisingly dismiss most of it as being part of the necessary fabric of 'democracy', I sometimes feel like smacking some people, especially idiot commenters on my posts who do not even get the drift of what I'm talking about, yet care to abuse me and my writing.
James Joyce in the Dubliners story, A Painful Case
She asked him why did he not write out his thoughts. For what, he asked her, with careful scorn. To compete with phrasemongers, incapable of thinking concecutively for sixty seconds? To submit himself to the criticisms of an obtuse middle class which entrusted its morality to policemen and its fine arts to impresarios?
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Announcing 'Recursive Puking'
Back in the days of the VHS when American B-movies were staple stuff over the holidays, I remember this film Problem Child, followed by what else, a sequel. Now what's that got to do with a quintessentially Nilu invention? There is one scene I remember from PC2 where one kid puking on another in a themepark ride results in all the 'riders' ending up puking on one another.
These days I'm reasonably jobless, so decided to try a little social experiment where likeminded bloggers are invited to join in.
Now I post something that to me is a very important and serious idea that I want to communicate to my readers, but when I do that, I also put a little sign on it, entirely voluntarily, -r.p.c-, short for candidate for recursive puking. Now what you do is then write a post puking on my 'serious' post, and link to it as a comment to my original post.
To carry the experiment forward, the next 'serious' issue post you write 'must' carry a -r.p.c- mark to invite others to puke on it. And it goes on like that, until we have all puked on each other.
Note 1: To know what a pukefest is, please visit Nilu's blog. This means that your puke should be vitriolic, but at the same time, also be entertaining, and of some academic interest at-least.
Note 2: The -r.p.c- mark on your post is only to create an identity for 'recursive pukers', and does not in any way qualify as a 'do-not-touch-my-other-posts signal'. Please feel free to puke on other posts as well, but that would not qualify it for being part of the 'recursive pukefest'. This implies that Nilu's regular pukefests do not qualify for the 'mela'.
Note 3: The format for the 'pukefestable' mark is sacrosanct and should follow the following html code: <small><i>-r.p.c-</i></small>
The mark should also be displayed distinctly and cleary at the end of the post.
Note 4: This post features 'the mark', but in a purely germane manner, and therefore does not throw it open (some sort of pun intended) for recursive puking.
Note 5: Every few days or so, one of the recursive pukers (having decide 'who' amongst themselves) hosts a bunch of links on his/her blog commemorating a selection of notable posts and their puke counterparts.
Note 6: Start puking! With my next post of-course.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Reservations benefit the upper castes
Here is my two paise on the reservation issue. I for one do not think that this is in anyway a 'disadvantage' to the so-called upper castes of India. If at all I have anything against this policy of positive discrimination, it is that it actually perpetuates the perceived competence gap between the higher and the lower castes. The fewer seats there are available for general competitive entry into higher education, the better equipped will be the 'upper caste' candidates who get through, so if you look at it from the angle of the so-called upper castes, this policy only seems to reward the best performers among them, and discriminates against mediocre performers. On the flip side, it seems to reward mediocre performers from the lower castes (while it has no negative incentives for better performers from the lower castes either).
I have studied in educational institutions which encouraged positive discrimination, and even though there were noises being made about how hopeless it was for mediocre brahmins to get through, and how quality supposedly suffered in the larger scheme of things; in some Darwinian sense, it was actually natural selection of the fittest from the upper castes, and therefore I see no reason for the upper castes to oppose this kind of reservation.
If I were a casteist brahmin, believing in eugenics, I should silently encourage reservation, as in a sense it perpetuates the caste system, and vastly demarcates competence levels amongst the different castes. But for reasons not just restricted to a need for political correctness, I am not a casteist brahmin. And that is the reason why I am fundamentally against the current policy of reservations in higher education.
Another fallout of this competence gap I think will the perpetuation of the system of patronage. The caste hierarchy itself is based upon people receiving patronage and people acting patronisingly. Even though it is an amorphous entity called the 'government' that is the patron in this case, realistically, when there is a competence gap amongst students and professionals, and when this gap is demarcated by caste, it denies people of lesser competence a certain self-respect.
I know a dalit student who went to college with me. While he did gain entry to the course, he struggled to complete it. I had the advantage of having educated parents, a childhood devoid of nutritional deficiency, a good school, books all around me, computers and internet at home, satellite television, and what not; while he, used to go back home for the holidays, and come back to hostel with calloused hands and so many kilograms lighter.
The curse of being a brahmin in such a situation is that do you feel sorry for his misfortune? Or is that terribly patronising to pity someone? Do you feel anger at the system of your forefathers that makes this possible? Do you, with crazed romanticism want to do away with all caste identities? The reservation system does such a big service for brahmins. Apart from greatly improving their competence, it shows them the sights that their forefathers were in denial of. But does it also tell them that when they forgo a few more of their admission seats for the sake of 'their poor unfortunate brethren', they are perpetuating the system of patronage as well?
No doubt that the reservation system that got my classmate admission into college gave him a better go at life than he would have had in his village; and I am sure that his children, owing to a better-off parent would fare much better in school and college themselves. But I feel it has less to do with reservation itself, and more to do with the desire of this man to make a better life for himself on his own terms. Would he like his children to compete in the 'open market', or prefer to perpetuate mediocrity? Would our patronising government permit him to compete in the open market, by actually rewarding mediocrity?
Well the funny thing is that I am still a fucked up elitist who thinks that other people cannot think for themselves, and are merely pawns in the hands of patrons, and thus they would actually chose to be patronised. As you see, the ignominy associated with being patronised is the cornerstone of the dalit movement for self respect. My argument is that this is what is being undermined by reservations. It would be politically egalitarian if this notion of 'slavery is freedom' is extended to the upper castes as well. But this system of reservation attempts with a vengeance to do away with mediocrity in the upper castes; and worse still, confining mediocrity to the lower castes alone, by rewarding it.
Hypothetically, without reservations, competence levels amongst the upper castes (who would have lived in insular denial of their system) would actually go lower simply because they would take their status for granted. When the free market kicks in, they would be kicked out; while someone of a lower caste who would have had to prove himself/herself worthy through many trials would actually be more competent, and hence take their place.
In our country, the dalit movement found alliance with leftwing thought, and so it is perpetuated by all our political parties. And we all know what the left thinks of free markets. They believe in interventionist policies that artificially keeps certain conditions alive. Well that was what the caste system was all about—an unequal system that was kept artificially alive. Isn't there something so fundamentally wrong with leftwing thought that it actually defeats its own purpose if left to itself (i.e. in a democratic system)? Reservation is therefore the instrument of perpetuation of this artificial system, and also requires an artificial system to keep it alive. It is incompatible with the free market, which ironically is what our country seems to be moving towards.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
And now for something completely different
Some good news... No! great news. The Comeback Queen has been shortlisted for the Royal Television Society's annual student award.
Get to the web page and scroll down to the very last section. The postgraduate non-factual category. Bigger celebrations to come if we do win on the 5th of May.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Easily, the best Indian film I've seen in ages. It is a bit gimmicky here and there, but I think Homi Adajania has got what it takes to become a great writer-director. Unlike the wannabes and unoriginal copycats that populate the Indian movie scene, he seems to know his cinema.
Of course, Being Cyrus is not blemish free. Indian production values are still very primitive. The same technical issues that dog most of our films are glaringly obvious here as well. For one, the camera department needs a kick up its backside. I am sure for all the money that Bombay cinema has, it can at-least buy some decent prime lenses. The unhealthy habit of shooting every film on anamorphic cinemascope (despite not properly using the size offered by the format) means there is very little idea or effort spent on quality lenses by the industry as a whole. In Being Cyrus, the DP has chosen to use lazy zoom lenses for many shots. This means that while pulling focus, the picture tends to 'barrel' a little, resulting in a tiny change of focal length. This, despite the fact that the focus puller was possibly asleep for the rest of the shoot.
Finally an Indian film with good sound. Though Andrew Belletty seems to have had some trouble with location sound recording, Indian actors, especially those of the calibre of Naseeruddin Shah and Saif Ali Khan can be trusted to not faff around with ADR and lip-synching. Belletty has done an admirable job with location atmosphere recreation and foley supervision. (A little springy here and there, and a little too triggerhappy with the reverb—but hey, I have done worse, and have got away with it)
Coming to the screenplay, I thought it was paced very well. And I do not think, like most Indian films, its best moments were conceived as happy accidents. Adajania uses the life he knows best and it is this genuineness in capturing Parsi life that I found most impressive. Barathiraja did not show promise as a great chronicler of Tamil rural life by accident. He wrote and directed what he knew best, and showed early success. I heard quite a few complaints that people found the ending a little too contrived and obvious. I state once again that there is nothing wrong with contrivance as long as the pacing is good. In fact a post about that and Shyamalan's The Village is long overdue, and I promise to write about that sometime soon.
Of all things, I am most impressed by Adajania's direction. Yes, his shot selection at places was found wanting, and I am not entirely sure that patronising Indian filmmaking traditions permit a young director to work with 'seasoned' actors to bring out what would be best for the film; yet, he demonstrates a good grasp of the medium.
The performances were very good, but I would credit the director apart from the natural talents the actors bring in. For once an Indian movie in English where the language did not seem forced or pretentious.
I hope Homi Adajania gets to make more than just genre pieces in the future. And I hope it is films like these and not awful nonsense like Rang De Basanti that stand up to represent Indian cinema. There is no point in being the largest manufacturer of motion picture if we've got only crap to sell.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Not long ago, I made a complaint that Rang De Basanti was drenched in hypocricy. Well, so is Crash. But, to give credit where it is due, it is at-least better made.
Funnily enough, I am working on a script idea myself that borders on a similar treatment, though of a slightly different theme. Now I know what are the places where I could possibly go wrong with it.
For those who are interested in Crash, I can suggest two other movies: Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia(1999), and Michael Haneke's Code Unknown(2000). The first is certainly the more famous of the two, and it is interesting because of its circularity and closure. Haneke's film on the other hand, while having a similar treatment, goes out of the way to avoid that closure.
Magnolia also has a musical climactic moment, which, much like it does in Crash, slows down the narration, making the contrivances even more obvious. Take for example your average Hitchcock film; the reason the contrivance is not very obvious is because of the pace of narration.
Yet another gripe againts Crash is that while it seems to be a film about 'reality' and politically senstive matters, much like Rang..., it is eventually a politically correct film with a very circular and closed narration.
There are also places where the melodrama is a bit too much (the locksmith's kid is NOT what I am talking about)
I saw this film a couple of nights ago. Last night I watched Kurosawa's Red Beard and I learnt something else. There is nothing wrong with melodrama, if handled well. 'Handling well' is a rather difficult thing, and somehow only a few filmmaking cultures can pull it off. Most European cinema plainly avoids it. Iranian cinema plays with it rather well. Surely enough both Indian cinema and American cinema abuse melodrama.
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