Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Gollum Song and Taare Zameen Par

Before I begin - you can watch the Coraline sneak preview here and read up an interesting discussion on its animation here.

So ... I was inflicted with watching Taare Zameen Par again today. Not that I don't like the movie. But I don't like it enough to watch it twice! Besides, it makes me cry and want to be a child again. :((

Anyhow, I didn't discover anything new to write either. This post was very much in my mind the first time I saw the movie. This is my first attempt at doing an 'auditory' analysis. I don't know what word to use for this. It is similar to the visual analyses I do, except that it is in the domain of sound and music – and most probably rather naive and idiotic. Perhaps it is one of those meaningless connections I make like Saawariya and Sin City. But here goes ...

When I first heard the song Mera Jahaan (the one that plays when Ishan bunks school and has his day out on Bombay's roads) in Taare Zameen Par, I was immediately struck by its similarity to The Gollum Song. Mera Jahaan begins with a lone child voice singing --

A little sweet, a little sour,
A little close, not too far,
All I need,
All I need,
All I need,
Is to be free!

The voice is accompanied by only gentle, barely audible bass strings in the background. The song then picks up with a chorus of child voices singing the same lines and after that an adult male voice starts the main song. At that moment the similarity ends.

The Gollum Song has similarly performed in a childlike voice. The singer is Emiliana Torrini who is definitely adult. But the voice is childlike. And it is perfomed in a similar vacuum of any other sound. Just gentle strings accompainment in the background.

The entire soundtrack of the Lord of the Rings is a materpiece. But even among this somewhat large body of musical work, The Gollum Song and May It Be by Enya stand out as masterpieces among masterpieces. Here are the lyrics for The Gollum Song. You can hear it on YouTube too.

One will immediately notice similar themes running through The Gollum Song and Taare Zameen par. There are accusations against a child or a chillike character (Gollum), there is the resulting isolation and loneliness and the desperate cry for help. Perhaps a deep seated angst too. How these emotions are brough forth through the use of an isolated child voice in both songs in remarkable.

This connection made me wonder at two points. I have never before seen Gollum as a Childlike character. I have read that Frodo, Sam, Gollum, Merry and Pippin can be seen as the different aspects of the same psyche when one does an archetypal analysis. I can now see this as becoming a blog post in its own right.

Second, I wonder if Shankar, Ehsan, Loy did take inspiration from The Gollum Song. Mind you, this is not an accusation of copying or plagiarism. Far from it. 'Mera Jahaan' is worlds apart from The Gollum Song and the similartiy is in mere technique. The Lord of the Rings has revolutionized the way fantasy films are made in Hollywood and I have now seen a few films being heavily influenced by its visual language (300 for example). I wonder if the same has happened in the music world.

I also wonder if that is the way culture always works. We, as a society, work collectively on some cultural aspect, honing and perfecting it until we create a masterpiece. And then we get influenced by and start copying it again and again till it becomes a cliche or a stereotype and loses all meaning.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Taare Zameen Par

I had seen the trailers for Tare Zameen Par. I was quite struck by the refreshing music and stark visuals. Therefore, I was looking forward to watching this movie. But Aneesh beat me to it and came out with the verdict that the movie has been cannibalized by its own hype. The phenomenon would not be new to Bollywood. We have seen scores of movies which have been cannibalized my their own hype and if there is one thing I've learn about Bollywood it is not to walk into the theater with expectations.

And that is what I did. So when Tare Zameen Par began my mind was completely occupied by the popcorn that I was eating. But as the movie progressed I felt more and more strongly drawn into Ishan Awasthi's fantasy world.

Why was I so taken by the movie? I think mostly it was because I could so much connect to it. The messy room, that procastrination in the morning while getting ready for school, making airplanes out of household objects, playing in the bathroom while my mother was shouting at me. All that. It came back. And suddenly I found myself to be a child again. Not that I had a troubled childhood or that I gave up the pleasures of childhood under some undue pressure. And that is the beauty of this movie. It shows you the various facets of childhood which have no connection to Ishan's story at all. Like Amir has said somewhere – it is a story about children.

So while on the surface it was Ishan's pathos that was affecting me, on the inside it was the incredibly strong nostalgia of going back to school and listening to cliched phrases like - “Who's laughing?! Who wants to follow him?”.

Not that the surface itself wasn't interesting. I think where the story falters is that it is caught between the classic divide of show and tell. While on one hand it is using the visual medium beautifully to show the creativity of Ishan, it also has a long preachy session between Amir and Ishan's parents about dyslexia. Like Ma'am said, the movie was caught between interesting visuals and old cliches. But as a writer, I cannot see how they could have made it better. A little polish yes, but when you're starting off with a clear ideological agenda, it is very difficult not to be preachy. It is in fact, some very good writing that shows through some of the scenes. I think the climax 'Art Mela' scene was wonderfully done specially towards the end when Ishan takes a peak at his own portrait. That one scene packed the entire impact of Amir-Ishan relationship.

On the whole, I liked this movie. Not because it was different or pathbreaking but because it wasn't. It was the old familiar, the oft repeated that brought back fond memories and intense nostalgia – and made your heart go out for that lovely child Ishan.

I think I must also make a mention of Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy's fabulous music which breathes much of the life in this movie. After Rahman, I think they're the only genuine music directors in the industry.

Also saw the trailers for Jodha-Akbar in the interval. Doesn't seem as bad as I thought it would be. Might have to watch this one. IndiaFM reports that the movie has been delayed a bit. So it's still a long way off.

See Also:

Monday, December 24, 2007

Labels - Making It Contextual

I wrote a little bit about taxonomy and how it is being changed by the Internet through the use of labels. Ma'am had some views to share about them. Here is my reaction to her email which I think has become another blog post in its own right.

When we say something is 'both' - for example, when we say that an electron is both a particle and a wave - we may mean it in two very different ways. We may mean that it is both at the same time or we may mean that it is sometimes one and sometimes the other depending on context. Let's call these two different kinds of 'both' as 'simultaneous both' and 'contextual both'.

I don't think I ever meant to imply in my blog that we are moving beyond the urge to classify. I'm merely saying that we are moving from an exclusive system of classification to one where we can comfortably label every object with multiple labels. This labelling, as far as it applies to computers, is definitely contextual. You want you information to be available in two or more different contexts. That is why you give it two or more different labels. However, 'contextual both' and 'simultaneous both' are two ways of looking at the same thing and are easily confused.

You could, for example, say that an electron is sometimes a way and sometimes a particle and what precisely it is depends on the experiment you are performing -- that is, the context. But the human mind interprets it to mean that the electron is both at the same time. And immediately we balk at the notion. How can something be both at the same time? It is either this or that. A contextual both is just not acceptable to us.

So when we are faced with such enigmatic objects we start defining new categories. The rather funny term wavicles was invented for things like electrons. The term SFF has been invented within literature. We have Asian-americans in the US. We just can't accept that American Gods can be any of fantasy, SF and horror depending on how you look at it. Neither can we accept that the same person can be an Asian in one context and and American in another. Thus we invent new terms.

The point that I wanted to make was the this paradigm shift may make us more acceptable of a contextual both. So while categories will continue to exist, the boundaries of what goes into them and more importantly WHEN, will get blurred. As far as I can see, that should be a good things.

To summarize, the current dominant mode of thought seems to be that all both is simultaneous and (ironically) simultaneous both is not possible hence everything should be 'either/or' and if not then a new category should be invented. With 'labelling' coming to vogue I see a growing acceptance of contextual both.

See Also:

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Discworld - First Impressions

Just got hold of the first Discworld book yesterday. Read a few pages. Spent a lot more time on wikipedia reading about Discworld. It is such a huge universe that it is better to plunge in equipped with some fore-knowledge. There are thirty eight books in total, two of which haven't been published yet. But unlike Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time these books do not seem to be repetitive or boring in any sense. First of all, each book picks up some theme that it explores. For example, there is one that refers to Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series. There is another called Hogfather that analyses beliefs like Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy and how they function within our society.

Upon reading the premise of Discworld one gets a better idea of the story telling tradition that Gaiman is part of. Writers like Gaiman and Pratchett do not care about believability. They are very conscious of the fact that their story is a story. The 'story' part of it is for mere enjoyment – a writers indulgence and a readers pleasure. But the 'theme' part of it has larger meaning. It may be an allegory on contemporary society or musings about Life Universe and Everything.

Thus it is that while JK Rowling is busy going to great lengths to set her story in contemporary London and explaining how Wizards can live in the same world as Muggles, Pratchett sets his story on a clearly unbelievable Discworld. The Discworld is a disc shaped world that is held aloft by four elephants who stand on the back of a giant astronomic turtle named A'Tuin. And while one set of philosophers on Discworld believes that A'Tuin has been moving at a constant speed since eternity and will continue to do so for another eternity, there are others who believe that he is moving from Birth to the Mating whereupon more turtles and other worlds shall be born.

The point is – the setting isn't important. The kind of pseudo-realism that some fantasy and lots of SF aspires to doesn't matter. Pratchett wants us to read the story for pure pleasure and get some of the themes and allegories along way if possible.

Like Gaiman, Pratchett's work is deeply intertexual. There is a whole compilation called the Annotated Terry Pratchett which lists at least a couple of dozen intertexual references in each novel that Terry has written. You may not get most of these the first time you read one of his books. But after a few years, when you have been around the world and read up a little more, his book will make more and more sense to you on reapeated reading. No wonder then that I've been pining to read Sandman and the American Gods once more these days and I'm afraid that the same is will happen with Discworld when I'm done. Forturnately there are thirty eight of them so 'I'm done' seems to be a long, long time away!

See also

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Taxonomy – Categories vs. Labels

A large part of early scientific endeavor was what can be described as taxonomy. The early scientist spent most of his time observing and classifying things. Thus we have Charles Darwin who spent most of his time observing animals on his voyages or Johannes Kepler who spent most of his time observing starts in his observatory. Yes, we did get the Laws of Evolution or the Laws of Planetary Motion out of these observations but it was the observations – naming, cataloguing and classifying – that kept these men occupied for most of their lives.

The conventional ‘scientific’ way of classification is to put every object into a class. In this method, each object has a unique class. It cannot have more than one class. Thus, each animal is either a mammal, or a reptile or an amphibian. There is no scope for ‘both’. It is now very difficult to say whether conventional human way of classification was historically similar or not. In today’s scientific day and age this exclusive way of classification appears to be the most ‘natural’ one to us.

So this was the way we began to organize our information. We had files and cupboards in offices, each neatly labeled and marked, and each page of information we wrote had a definitive, unique location that it would fit into. We had categories in libraries and each book had a unique rack number that it could go to. This was of unique categorization was very convenient. All you had to do was learn what went where and after that, finding information was a piece of cake. However, you sometimes ran into trouble. If you wanted to locate Neil Gaiman’s American Gods where do you look? Do you look under science fiction? Do you look under fantasy? Do you look under horror? Indeed, you could even look under crime.

No wonder then, that a modern specialist in any field spends a lot of time and effort in categorizing things and also explaining and debating why that particular object should get categorized in that particular category.

File and Folders
When computers came along and digital information began to be stored in human comprehensible system of files some clever chap immediately came up with the idea of folders. Folders were exactly like office cabinets or library racks. Each file on the computer had a unique location. Once again it led to trouble. For example, if you wrote a letter to your boss asking for a leave, where do you put this document? Do you put it in folder ‘boss’ or ‘letter’ or ‘leave’. But people were so used to an exclusive system of categorization that they never complained. Silently they devised their own personal system of categorization and filed their files accordingly.

And Then There Was Searching
But then there came searching – largely through the internet. Desktop searching has always been lurking in some corner but it was the internet that made searching big. People gradually began to realize that the same information could be reached – very easily and very effectively – through a lot many ways. If you wanted to search for your document titled ‘letter to boss for leave’ you could search for any or all of letter, boss, or leave. As people began to get familiar with this paradigm of information management they started complaining about the folder system. Why should it be necessary to file this document in one folder? After all, it is not a ‘real’ document. It is virtual. Had it been real then we could not possibly have had it in two cabinets or two racks at the same time. But on a computer everything is virtual! Why not make this document just ‘appear’ in more than one folders?

Let There Be Labels
Thus labels were born. Labels (or tags) are everywhere on the internet now. The idea is simple. You can attach as many labels to your document as you want. When you search for a particular label all documents having that label appear. So my email to boss for leave can have both labels – boss and leave. Whether I search for boss or whether I search for leave, this email will appear. Indeed, desktop filesystems based on labels are being contemplated. It is rumored that the new WinFS (Microsofts new files system which they failed to deliver with Vista) will be label based. These days you don’t categorize your information anymore. You just label.

Paradigm Shift?
The advent of labels makes me wonder. Is human organization of information about to undergo a fundamental paradigm shift? Will posterity wonder no more whether tomato is a fruit or a vegetable, American Gods an SF or a fantasy, and an electron a particle or a wave? Will it just answer ‘both’ without even giving it another thought?

Or is it that labeling just is the more ‘natural’ way of organizing information and that exclusive categorization has been imposed on us by the dominance of the scientific method. So what we are doing is just realizing the simple truth and going back to a more human way of organizing data?

Related Posts:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Google Strategy

My post on the Google Strategy on Tastysamosas.

Google has recently announced its upcoming product, Google Knol, on its official blog. It is perhaps the first time that Google has talked about a product before it was launched and that too was done primarily on the Internet and not on the main-stream-media. No wonder then, that the blogosphere was replete with speculation before long and as of now there are hundreds of blogs on the topic. The move is largely being seen as a challenge to Wikipedia, which stubbornly remains non-profit and refuses to monetize its content.

I am Legend

Read my I am Legend review on Tastysamosas

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Good Omens - Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Read the review on TastySamosas!

As they say, Good Omens got written when Neil Gaiman wasn’t Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett was only just Terry Pratchett. But that does not take away anything from the awesomeness of this book. First published in the year 1990, this books preceeds even Sandman among Neil Gaimans work but is as much, if not more, of a delight to read as his other works.

I have not read any Terry Pratchett so this review would probably focus more on Gaiman. However, let me be clear that this books is real collaborative writing. The edition that I have begins, quite amusingly, with an interview. One that is answered jointly by a Gaiman-Pratchett entity. It claims that the way the book got written, no one really knows who wrote what part. Sometime Gaiman would commend Pratchett on how wonderful a line he had written and as it would turn out, it was Gaiman who had actually come up with it over a phone conversation! So much for the saying that writing is a solitary art.

Anyhow, the books is a satire on contemporary life. It narrates the tale of an Angel, Aziraphale and a demon, Crowley, who are terrified with the idea of the impending armageddon because they would have to leave the worldly comforts that they have so grown used to and go back to heaven – or hell. An anti-christ is being born and they decide to bring him up in a balanced atmosphere of good and evil so that he does not side with either side. But things go wrong and the anti-christ gets lost. He grows up as a child and like any other eleven-year-old he’s completely human.

In a hilarious turn of events Crowley and Aziraphale seek out to prevent the anti-christ from meeting the four horsemen from hell and avert the apocalypse. In a beautiful satire on contemporary religion, politics and human society, Gaiman and Pratchett drive home the message – that humans are ultimately responsible for their own sins – clearly and effectively.

The book is a laughter riot. There is witticism in every sentence and quite often it actually makes you laugh out loud. A must read!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sculpture at Samudrika

The conference that Shwetabh and I recently attended was hosted at Samudrika - the naval auditorium at Vishakhapatnam. The auditorium housed some very good sculptures whose style ranged from ancient Indian to modern. Take a look.


Dunno what



In fact, I am under the impression that sculpture as a popular artform is very much alive in Orissa. I could see some stone sculptors sitting along side the road with finished or half finished works put up for display on the footpath. Also, the squares and chaurahas were decorated with skillfully done sculpture in various styles instead of the gaudy poorly done ones that I find in UP and MP.

A Crab and a Touch-Me-Not Plant

Hi All! I'm back after a longish break. Visited Vizag, Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark and have a thousand different things to talk about. In fact, there are so many things to talk about that I'm having a very difficult time deciding where to start. I guess things would start coming out one by one. So I start with a couple of nature videos that I made on the way and just uploaded to YouTube today.

First off, is a lovely touch-me-not plant atop Dolphin Hill at Vishakhapatnam. Dolphin Hill is a Navy occupied hill looking over the Vishakhapatnam harbour and has a light house abover it. We actually got to go right up to the top of the light house and the view from there was breath-taking. So, the video and a couple of snapshots.

Flowers of the touch-me-no plant. I never knew they actually had flowers.

Vishakhapatnam harbor from atop the light house. The long line of stone that you can see are wave-breakers which are deliberately constructed so that the waves break against them and the sea in the harbor remains calm.

View of the sea on the other side.

The next video is that of a crab that we found on the banks of river Bhargavi near Konark. We stopped at the place where the river meets the sea. The place wasn't too picturesque but the tiny little crabs that inhabited the river bank by the thousands made the day. Here is the video. You can hear Shwetabh talking to a fellow tourist in the background.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saawariya Again, Refusing to Help and Going Away

Watched Saawariya again yesterday. Although most people would regard that as signs of insanity, I was glad to find out that the movie gripped me again. There was nothing new that I could see, except some things that I'd noticed earlier but forgotten about. There are so many things I still want to write about the movie! But later. Meanwhile, Aneesh has added his own ek naya paisa to the Saawariya debate.

Madam did point out some new things that I'd not noticed. She caught references to something called Windermere which, when I searched on the net, is a reference to a play called 'Lady Windermere's Fan' by Oscar Wilde. Apart from that I now think that the movie is also referring to Picasso's Blue Period in it's color scheme. But this too, later.

Was faced early morning by a cleanliness worker who used to clean my room back in second year. At that time he'd walked into my room once and said that his mother had died and he needed money for the last rites. He had started crying then. Being the poor student that I am, I lent him fifty rupees. He promised he'd return it at the end of the month. He never did. Neither did I ask for it. But everytime I met him he diligently came to me and made some excuse or other as to why he wansn't paying me back. So today he came again and did the same old routine, claimed that he needed money for the anniversary of his mother's death and started crying. He wanted three hundred rupees. Claimed that he would return it by the 25th of this month.

But this time I refused. I just could not come to believe him.

I'm leaving for the conference at Vishakhapatanam today night. Will be away for a week, so probably no posts, depending on whether there is internet at the hotel where I stay. In any case, will see you when I come back.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Vayam Rakshamah, Saawariya Music and Audioscrobbling with Amarok and

Before I begin I would like you to read this post that Headmistress wrote in response to mine.

I am reading Vayam Rakshamah by Acharya Chatursen these days. While I do hope to write a more detailed post later let me just put some preliminary thoughts in words here. Reading his introduction I was struck by how the pre-independence writers were full of a self-sacrificial feeling. Acharya Chatursen begins his introduction by describing how he has sacrificed for the past eleven months for writing this novel. He describes how he has not slept more than two-three hours a day for months, how his eyes have grown weak and how it has left him completely restless. I guess, the pre-indepence lack of glamor in writing did make this business a self-sacrificial one, especially since most writers were driven by a desire to serve the society. I do, however, wonder how it affected their writing.

Meanwhile, I'm completely hooked to the music of Saawariya. This is surprising because I usually don't get so hooked to anything not composed by Rahman. But Saawariya has done it. The effect is almost magical. I cannot help but keep humming and listening to the songs over and over again. And the most spellbinding is the leitmotif that plays in the beginning of 'Pari'.

I'm on Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon these days and am using Amarok to play my songs. Amarok uploads all my song information to which is an audioscrobbling site. It then downloads music suggestions fome and plays appropriate songs from my library. I can't even begin to describe how awesome this whole process is. I mean, I start listening to Saawariya songs, some of which are sung by Shreya Ghoshal, and Amarok picks up other songs by Shreya from my library and adds them to my playlist. Not only that, it also adds Alka Yagnik, Shaan and Sonu Nigam songs to my playlist. I begin playing Pink Floyd and after a while the playlist is playing Led Zepplin and Radiohead too. Awesome!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Usability Upgrades for Wanderlust

I've just added an About and a Help tab in the top linkbar. I hope these sections will make the use of this site more efficient and enjoyable for my readers. I've constantly tried to include features on this site that would result in an enhanced blog reading experience. Any comments and suggestions in this regards are helpful. Till then, enjoy!

Om Shanti Om
An Ode to Indian Cinema

Every era has its art. All arts – poetry, prose, painting, music, dance, sculpture, drama – have had their ages. But above them all, Cinema is the art of this age and time. Cinema bring together all the arts that man has even invented in a glorious confluence of humankinds history and culture. And it is this Cinema that Om Shanti Om proudly celebrates.

A Celebration of Indian Cinema

Om Shanti Om is a celebration of Indian cinema. It does not analyse or redefine Bollywood in any way. It does not try to criticise or elevate it. It accepts it for what it is and takes pride in it. Thus we have the stylish stars of yesteryears with their quirky body languages and also the chic, metrosexual stars of today with their six-pack abs and titillating cleavages. The bring to light the cliches and superstitions of Bollywood – reincarnations, revenge, peotic justice and happy endings, mahurats, obnoxious mothers of starlets, importance of appropriate last names, and the struggle of thousands of junior artists who roam the alleyways of Bollywood and dream of becoming stars one day.

But it does not pass any judgement of these things. It says yes, we do have stars and star directors who are at that position only because of their fathers, we have movies which make no sense at all, we have hyper unrealistic style of cinema but we like it and we are proud of it. If it makes us happy, what's the harm?

Deeply Metafictional

The movie is deeply metafictional. The movie is about a movie of the same name and the same plot that is being shot within the movie. The whole linking up of the story within the story to the overall plot has been very nicely done. Om Shanti Om is about Bollywood, its quirks and characteristics. But despite that it is a typical Bollywood movie. It has a love story that ends happily with poetic justice. That is the strength of the movie – that it manages to deliver its content while remaining within the generic boudaries of a Bollywood movie. And in one way it also shows us the potential of the Bollywood movie format. There are things that you can do with it.

The Bollywood Philosophy

Bollywood film-makers have always seen themselves as showmen and entertainers. They do not concern themselves with abstract themes or profound thought. As long as people get entertained, they are happy. As Sandy, played by Deepika Padukone in the latter half of the movie says – “I believe it when you jump from fifty floors and still stand on your feet. I also believe it when you single handedly fight a hundred men to save the actress.”

This is precisely the spirit of Bollywood and OSO is not embarrased by it. Why should it be, when it manages to deliver three hours of happiness to its audience using the same formula. It takes up a formula that is almost as old as Bollywood – that of reincarnation – and turns it into a marvelous tale that is almost as timeless as this legendary industry.

The Format

I think the kind of innovation and finesse has been shown in the making of this movie by Farah Khan ought to be applauded. Be it the creation of the '70s environment or the decision to use a '70s film-like artificial language in a present day movie – all these decisions would have taken a lot of courage to make. I liked the way she made the movie symmetric. It begins with credits in the '70s style in the beginning and ends with credits again in contemporary style. The computerized make-overs of the '70s songs in the first half was also done very tastefully and flawlessly.

Deepika Padukone

Any discussion of OSO will be incomplete without the mention of Deepika Padukone, the next Bollywood sensation, I'm sure. Not only does she manage to look ravishingly beautiful, she manages to do it in the tight salwar suits and bell bottoms of the '70s on one hand, and short skirts and bikini tops of the present times on the other. Very few bollywood beauties can boast of that. No wonder then that every young man who's seen OSO has, openly or secretly, fallen in love with Deepika.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ranbir Kapoor in Saawariya
Redefining Male Sexuality

There is one song sequence in Saawariya that is being much talked about. It is the one in which Ranbir Kapoor, playing Raj in the movie, dances around his apartment clad in nothing but a bath towel. As he gyrates to the tunes of his own song, Raj dares to bare it all in front of the audience. It is not the first time that male actors have shown skin in Bollywood movies. Salman Khan was the one who really started the trend that was soon picked up by almost everyone in the Industry.

However, the depiction of Ranbir's body is very different from, say, Salman's. Salman is the apostle of the macho male image. He displays a muscular, hunk-like, well sculpted body that projects the male body as something strong and tough. Ranbir, while he is well sculpted, is not muscular. He is firm but not violently strong.

In short, Bhansali is projecting an image of his hero that is metrosexual in nature. It is a hero who does not get embarrassed in dancing in a towel in front of his audience. It is a hero who does not get embarrassed in dancing like his female peers.

A conversation that a friend of mine had with a female acquaintance of his is interesting in this context. She said that the whole song-and-dance sequence with Ranbir in the towel was very awkward for her. She didn't like it. When I saw the sequence last evening I was thinking that it was put in to attract the female audience. But apparently, girls don't like it. At least the conservative ones don't.

So what are Ranbir and his towel doing in Bhansali's movie?

They are redefining male sexuality as depicted in Bollywood movies. The new attractive male does not care about being strong and muscular. As long as he is beautiful, he is happy. And he is not loath to flaunt his physical beauty the same way that women to. In this sense, it is also a blurring of gender boundaries at the level of how bodies are percieved by men and women.

Combine that with Bhansali's own obsession with the female side – his taking on his mother's name as a middle name; and his clear obsession with women in Saawariya – Raj is the only significant male appearance throughout the movie, and you have a very strong incidence of how the directors vision of the world does indeed get captured in cinema, albeit in a rather subtle form.

See Also:

See Elsewhere Also:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Saawariya and Sin City
Two Takes on Film Noir

The title might surprise a lot of people. I’ve read reviews of the movie on the blogosphere and not only have people failed to understand the movie and what Bhansali is trying to do with cinema, they’ve also failed to notice the various film-tradition-oriented head-nods and sub-themes that Bhansali is dealing with in his film. So, where does Sin City figure in.

Old Town
Old Town in Sin City is a section of the city reserved for prostitutes. In Saawariya we see Old Town inscribed in blazing letters on a signboard behind the bridge where much of the action in the movie takes place. In Saawariya too, Old Town is the place where the prostitutes, including Gulabji, live. Both in Sin City and Saawariya, Old Town becomes the abode of the Prostitute with the Golden Heart, a stock character that Sin City pays homage to and Saawariya subtly redefines.

Prostitute with the Golden Heart
The colors of Sin city are Black and White. This is because in keeping with the noir tradition, the moral framework of Sin City is divided into two – good and bad, happiness and sadness. The prostitutes in Sin City are into the business to earn their livelihood. On the outside they are tough and ruthless. But inside they are kind and just, even noble. The same color symbolism is used in Saawariya but it is Raj who is Black and White and who lives within a simplified moral framework. The prostitutes, on the other hand, represented by Gulabji, are indeed tough on the outside and kind on the inside, but the colors they were are a stark profusion ranging over the entire spectrum. Their moral framework is not Black and White, it is multicolored and very superficial. It is deliberately constructed to protect themselves from the kind of choices that Raj and Sakina find themselves to be making.

Therefore it is that Gulabji wears Red and sells love but she does not feel Red and remains very careful not to fall in love because the one time she falters – in the case of Raj – she has to make the choice of turning him away from her door and getting him beaten up by her bouncers.

Bhansali’s Saawariya is an amazing take on the Film Noir tradition. While it uses the same play of light and shadow to wonderful effect, it also subtly examines and redefines the language of film noir.

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Color Symbolism in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya

While other film makes are minting millions by copying Hollywood blockbusters, Sanjay Leela Bhansali is busy creating a new kind of cinema. Bhansali’s cinema is exquisitely visual, surrealistically operatic and uniquely individual – a kind that is unknown in the eastern world or the western, for that matter.

From Monochrome to Multicolor
Like his previous movie Black, Saawariya also relies heavily on its visual language to deliver the parable that it sets out to narrate. (Incidentally, I wrote a lovely analysis of Black that has now miraculously disappeared. If anyone has it please mail it to me.) However, with Saawariya, Bhansali is going several steps further. The visual language of Black relied just on the use of Black, White and a dash of Red. Saawariya, on the other hand, is multicolor. The tone of the movie is Blue, yet there is profuse use of Red, Green, Pink, Purple, Yellow and yes, Black and White.

While the use of elaborate sets and costumes is typical to Bhansali’s style, Black did use real (albeit heavily decorated) locations, outdoor sites and natural landscapes. However, Saawariya is shot completely on a set, no real locations have been used and the landscapes that have been used in isolated scenes are clearly computer generated.

Not only does Bhansali use color in this movie, he also uses the play of light and shadow. He is going back to the noir tradition in his use of stark shadows and redefining noir in novel ways.

Black and White
In Saawariya, the colors black and white can be seen to denote simplicity of emotions. It is human nature to divide life into simple dichotomies. There is happiness and there is sadness. There is good and there is the evil. This is the way our hero, Raj, defines his world. We see Raj clad in black and white because his world is black and white. He believes that there are only two feelings in this world, happiness and sadness and he seeks to bring happiness to everyone he meets. He brings happiness to Gulabji, a prostitute, and to Lillian.

His world is like a game, with well defined rules. When Gulabji first meets Raj, he is carrying a football with him. On his first day out with Sakina, he tells her that when you see sadness, you have to battle it like in a boxing match. But as Raj soon realizes, and this is the conflict this character has to face, life isn’t Black and White, it isn’t simple and well defined, it is complicated and it’s Blue.

The city that we see in Saawariya is introduced to us in a breathtaking long-shot at the beginning of the movie as a City of Dreams (khwabon ka shahar). From this first frame itself the fairy tale like, unrealistic mode of the movie is set. The city, as we see, is Blue. Blue, in this movie, is the color of life. It is a color of sorrow. Notice that I do not use the word sadness. Blue is sorrow which is a melancholy feeling that is both bitter and sweet. It is sorrow that arises because life’s isn’t simple, it isn’t Black and White, and it presents to you choices, choices that are not easy to make, yet essential to make and choices that lead to sadness even though you didn’t want them to.

It is just such a choice Sakina is faced with in this movie. She is in love with Iman who left her almost a year ago. Meanwhile she also begins to like Raj. And when Raj comes to know about it, for the first time he feels the complicated slew of emotions that real life forces us to face. After he burns the love-letter that Sakina writes to Iman, we see him clad in Blue himself, a color that he’s wearing for the first time in his life. He is faced with difficult choices himself, just as Sakina is when Iman comes back. No matter how much Red you might want to color your life with, life remains blue.

Red is the color of sensuality, it is the color of love. We see Gulabji donning elaborate Red dresses. We see Red at the tips of Lillians fingers and on her lips, indicative of her love-starved life. But most importantly, we see Red briefly on Raj and Sakina as they run around Oldtown, now frolicking, now despairing, searching the meaning of their lives. This Red is brief and furtive, like the love between Raj and Sakina, but is it strong and it stands out.

Pink, Yellow, Orange and Purple
Unlike Gulabji’s Red which branches out into Pink, Yellow, Orange and Purple because it is artificial. Her Red is superficial applied deliberately to hide the Black inside her. She and the other prostitutes use color as a mask to hide their sorrow.

Related Posts:

Diwali 2007

The reason for an almost half-a-month long vacation from blogging is Diwali. I was away from the second to the twelfth of this month and hence – no blog.

But Diwali was fun. I first went to Indore, my hometown, and spent a few days meeting school friends and running around for my mother. Then we went to Chhatarpur, where my mama lives for Diwali. My entire maternal family had gathered and there was a profusion of children. There were eight of them ranging from one-and-a-half to sixteen years of age and you can imagine the chaos in the house.

Will be away again next week for a conference so there will not be many posts this month. But let’s see how many I can manage in the little days that I have. Meanwhile, here’s wishing this Diwali brings lots of happiness and prosperity to your lives. Happy Diwali!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

अंतराग्नी '०७ का कवि सम्मेलन
Kavi Sammelan at Antaragni '07, IIT Kanpur

अंतराग्नी 2007 में अगर किसी कार्यक्रम ने मुझे रोमांचित किया तो वो कवि सम्मेलन था. इतना अच्छा कवि सम्मेलन मैंने और अतुलने ना असल ज़िंदगी में देखा है ना ही TV या internet पर. कवि सम्मेलन में मौजूद हर कवि एक से बढ़कर एक था. सम्मेलन की जान था नवोदित कवि कुमार विश्वास. मैंने आज तक किसी कवि को नए ज़माने के लोगों की नब्ज़ इतनी अच्छी तरह पकड़े नही देखा है. कुमार विश्वास के कुछ विडीयो YouTube पर मौजूद हैं. ज़रा नज़र डालिए.

कवि सम्मेलन में मुख्यतः हास्य रस के कवि मौजूद थे. कानपुर शहर की एक शायर शबीना जी भी थीं. वीर रस के कवि विनीत चौहानभी थे. पर कार्यक्रम की सफलता का पूरा श्रेय हास्य कवियों को जाता है. ये युग हास्य रस के कवियों का ही है. क्योंकि कोई और कविता अब बिकती नही. और शायद अच्छा ही है की नही बिकती.

वीर रस के कवि विनीत चौहान को ही ले लें. उनकी कवितायेँ शायद उन्नीसवीं सदी में अच्छी लगती. उनके लिए वीर रस का अर्थ था हिंदुत्ववादीराष्ट्रवाद. उनकी कविताओं का एक ही सार था - पाकिस्तान पर हमला कर दो और उसे मिटा डालो. इक्कीसवी सदी में जहाँ लोग राष्ट्रवाद तक के पुरातन हो जाने की बातें करने लगे हैं, वहां इस तरह की बातें समय के विपरीत लगती हैं. विनीत जी, चीज़ें इतनी सरल नही होती. हम बस एक दिन सो कर उठते ही पाकिस्तान पर हमला नही कर सकते. जीवन बहुत क्लिष्ट होता है. समस्याओं के हल इतनी जल्दी नही पाए जा सकते.

लगभग सारे कवि ही मुझे हिंदुत्ववादी लगे जो एक दो वाक्यों में ही सही पर अपनी बात कह जरूर रहे थे. यह देखकर बहुत दुःख हुआकी आधुनिक चिंतन परम्परा, जिसमे libertarianism या consumerism-capitalism जैसी विचार परम्पराएं फैशन में हैं, से हिन्दी साहित्य एकदम अछूता है. मैं ये नही कह रहा की जो विचार परम्परा ये कवि फैला रहे हैं वो ग़लत है या सही है. बस ये देख कर दुःख हुआ की और कोई विचार परम्परा हिन्दी भाषा में उपलब्ध नही है. फिर कोई आश्चर्य की बात नही है की हमारी ज्यादातर आबादी अभी भी मन्दिर और मस्जिद के मसलों में फ़ंसी हुई है.

सम्मेलन के बाद मैं और अतुल कवियों से मिलने IIT Kanpur के अतिथि घर पहुँच गए. वहाँ कुमार विश्वास जी से कुछ बातें हुई. विश्वास जी हमारी ही पीढ़ी के कवि हैं. एक सेमेस्टर REC में पढने के बाद उन्होंने अभियांत्रिकी छोड़ दी. कहते हैं की बुरा इंजिनियरहोने से अच्छा कवि होना बेहतर है. खैर, ये जानकर आश्चर्य और हर्ष हुआ की अब कवि सम्मेलन भी बजारू होते जा रहे हैं. IIT Kharagpur के कुछ छात्रों ने एक कंपनी शुरू करी है जो कवि सम्मेलन आयोजित करती है. विश्वास जी उनके ही साथ काम करतेहैं. इस से कवि सम्मेलनों की पहुँच बढेगी. पर हर बजारू चीज़ की तरह कुछ बुरी बातें भी हैं. विश्वास जी को हम लोगों से ये शिकायतथी की हम लोगों ने स्टेज वगैरह ठीक से नही सजाया था. मतलब, कवि सम्मेलन है, भाई! कोई फ़िल्म स्टार का शो थोड़े ही है! इतनेअच्छे श्रोता और इतना अच्छा माहौल होने पर भी कवि लोग केवल स्टेज की साज सज्जा से नाराज थे ये बात मुझे कुछ अच्छी नही लगी.

विश्वास जी की कविताओं को ही लें. मुझे नही लगता की उनकी कविता में दम है. हाँ, बोलते अच्छा है जिसकी मैं तारीफ करता हूँ. पर उनका ध्यान कविता पाठ से ज्यादा मार्केटिंग में लगता है. खैर, ये उनके अपने विचार हैं. मेरे ख्याल से अगर बाजारुपन से अगर कविताके स्तर में सुधर हो तो बेहतर है. चमक धमक हम फिल्मों में भी बहुत देख लेते हैं.

खैर, ये अच्छी बात है की नई पीढ़ी के कवि कवि सम्मेलनों की इस परम्परा को जरी रखे हुए है. ये एक ऐसी चीज़ है जहाँ हम पश्चिम सेअभी भी बहुत आगे हैं. वहां कविता पाठ की कभी कोई सभ्यता नही रही. अपनी इस परम्परा को हम बचाए रखें, ये अच्छी बात है.

Antaragni Woes

Before I start this post, let me point you to this excerpt from his novel that Neil Gaiman shares and to this 30 second scary story that he did for radio. Do listen to the recording on the site. Right, to Antaragni now.

The way the tents and lights were all up even on Tuesday this week had made us all think that Antaragani '07 would start and end with a bang. A lot of things were amazing, the POTF show and the Kavi Sammelan being two of them, but overall Antaragni this time wasn't all that fun.

The biggest disappointment, I believe was Atif Aslam's show. As many people have pointed out, calling a singer for a live performance is always a bad idea. It is much better to call a band. But Atif was worse than anyone's worst expectations. When you pay some one money of the order of a million rupees, you expect nothing less that a scintillating performance. However, the performance turned out to be insipid at best and horrible at worst. Atif lacked the lustre to hold the crowd, his repertoire of songs was limited and if a male singer needs to resort to a remix of 'Babuji zara dheere chalo' in his show then not even God can save his career.

And all this after standing for hours in a long queue, being harrased by the security people over the strange rule of no-cameras-allowed inside the Audi grounds and then the entry itself having been stoped since there were just too many people wanting to go in. That's ten lakhs of Indian National Rupees down the drain.

Why were no camera's allowed? I'm still puzzing over this stupid rule that the Antaragni security team came up with this time. What could be the possible rationale? Is it possible that they wish to increase their sales of photographs from the official photography cell?

Even worse was the cutting down of prizes in various events. For example, prize for India Inspired essay writing was slashed down by more than 80% this time. I met a girl who was given two 'Classmate' registers as second prize of a Hindi Lit event. I mean, that is shameful! Even school events have better prizes than that! I've never known an Antaragni prize to be anything less than a thousand bucks. The look of disappointment on the participants' face was evident. We may not think much of Antaragni (ghar ki murgi daal barabar) but the participants who come in have been preparing for months for some of the events. We should learn to respect their efforts and talents. Giving away decent prizes is the least we can do.

I also noticed an overall lack of creativity in Antaragni this time. I distinctly remember events like Karaoke and decors like the ones put up by people from Shantiniketan over SAC crossing. This time, as someone aptly put it, there were a lot of people around but nothing was happening! Antaragni '07 was all gloss and little substance. None of the standards have really gone up except for the budget and the average height of skirts that the girls wore.

Related Posts:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Poets of the Fall Perform at IIT Kanpur

Am just back from my first real rock concert. The Poets of the Fall, a Finnish band performed live for Synchronicity at Antaragni '07. And it was absolutely amazing!

I don't listed to much rock. Especially not hard-rock or metal etc. However, I do listen to soft or psychedelic rock like Pink Floyd. Thus, POTF should not have held much fascination for me. However, the thing about live rock concerts is not the 'music', really. It is the atmosphere. It is the crowd. And it is the stage presence of the performers.

In one word, the atmosphere today at Synchro was electrifying. The evening was kicked-off by the amateur performer/competitor rock bands who made it through yesterday's prelims. I listened to bands who call themselves Rampage and Five8. Rampage's vocalist was really good!

Next came the POTF themselves and the stage was immediately on fire. The setup was complete with fireworks, confetti, lights and smoke. The crowd was mad, crazy and out of control. We (my friends and I) did venture in once but then came out because I could not see much. This was one time that I genuinely regretted not being taller. I'm not the headbanging type but just standing there and feeling the energy levels in the crowd was something.

The performance lasted almost three hours during which neither the performers nor the crowd stopped making noise even for a second. POTF's stage presence was very energetic and they were able to pull the crowd along with them. Their compositions are good and varied.

I'm glad that I got to see such a wonderful performance at my last Antaragni on campus. Don't have any pics because for some strange (and possibly stupid) reason, camera's are not being allowed inside show's at this times Antaragni! But someone somewhere should have some photos. Will share as soon as they get to me.

Why OpenOffice is Better than MS Office

I have become bored with my Operating System (Windows this time) once more and have shifted to Ubuntu 7.10 'Gutsy Gibbon' a couple of days ago. Linux has come a long way since its command line days and today Ubuntu has made it work entirely on clicks and drags just like Microsoft's Windows. It is still far from usable for the Stupid User but at least it has reached a level where an educated, intelligent person with enough time and inclination can learn to use it and actually do use it for their day-to-day work.

The only thing that makes me stay on Windows is MS Office (apart from other software that runs only on windows). I think Office is Windows' killer-app.

MS Word

Why is MS Office Better?

What makes MS Office much better than any of it's Open Source counterparts? The Zeroth thing is that MS Office just came earlier. There were no decent Open Source couterparts for a long time.

The first thing, really, is the user interface. MS has always designed good user interfaces for office. Things are WYSIWYG which means that they can be easily learnt and used. Most office applications on other platforms have just copied Microsoft's interface ideas. OpenOffice 2.3, for example, very consciously tries to imitate MS Office 2003. This is contrary to desktop interfaces and applications for Gnome or KDE which have come up with their own ideas which are absolutely fabulous and are being copied by Microsoft. (Firefox is one example for web browsers. Internet Explorer 7.0 is a very shabby copy of Firefox.) However, Microsoft has once again done wonders with Offie 2007's 'ribbon' interface.

The second thing is inter-operability. I still remeber the time when I could not paste text from OpenOffice into the Blogger post editor in Firefox. In MS Office you can copy-paste and drag-drop anything from anywhere to anywhere. It just works. OpenOffice is not really all that great in this respect.

If Open Source wishes to win this office app war then it needs to come us with radical user interface designs just like they have in other areas. The traditional linux strategy has been to give the users every option possible which they can configure as they please. This does not work if you are targeting a user segment that does not really care much (or cannot be expected to care much) about how things function at the backend. Like the Gnome design guidelines say, things have to just work for such users.

OpenOffice Writer

Why MS Office Sucks

MS Office sucks because as against it's Linux counterparts, it is Closed Source. It has been seen time and again that the Microsoft Model of writing software does not work. What Microsoft does is that it shuts a lot of programmers up in their posh cabins. Then it feeds them with lots of corporate bullshit. They are then made to write lots of software which is shipped to users. The users themselves are seldom asked what they want. Neither is the programmer ever told what the user wants. They are told what the marketing people think the users want. And once the software gets written, there is no way to change it in any major way.

Just today I read about this bug in MS Excel 2007. Try doing the following multiplication in Excel 2007 – 850 * 77.1. Excel gives the answer 10000 instead of the correct answer 65535. A ten year old with paper-and-pencil could do better than that! Take another example. The new xlsx format is an XML based format. This means that everything is written out to a file in ASCII text that you can I can read. This means that any number that I enter in Excel should get written onto the disk just as I've entered it. But no! Excel actually converts it to binary first, then back to ASCII and then writes it in the file. Thus, numbers that don't have a perfect binary representations suffer from round-off errors. I mean, that's insane. Even a school kid would not program anything that way!!

This is shameful for a company that is the worlds biggest. It is shameful for a world that made the CEO of this company the richest man in the world. And it is shameful for those programmers who designed the $400 MS Office.

Open Source on the other hand does not work this way. Everything is open. It is tested by thousands of users. Bugs and feature requests get reported pronto. The developers actually get to hear what the people want and that is what they make. That is why Firefox is the most user friendly web browser ever. And it is not as if this model cannot be corporatized. Google has done it. They take constant feedback from users and make what the users want. Orkut, for example, is doling out feature after feature that we have always wished we'd had. Open Source softwares come up with update every week. As far as I know, Microsoft till date hasn't patched their Excel bug.

If it were up to me, I'd linuxify the entire world.

PS: This post was written using OpenOffice Writer and posted using Mozilla Firefox. :) Switch to both if you haven't already.

A Non-Post, Really

Antaragni is still going on. The Poets of the Fall perform today at Synchronicity. Am quite looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, Neil Gaiman has finally finished Odd and Frost Giants which will be published for the world book day to be celebrated in March this year. It is a childrens book, quite short and I will be looking forward to reading it. Meanwhile, I will try to find a copy of Necronomicon. I just heard Neil talk about it and about why he would like a personal copy signed by the author for himself and I cannot resist it anymore.

The Blogosphere seems to have really liked Anurag Kashyap's new movie No Smoking. Read a review here. Also, Anurag himself is writing about his movie and the reviews and criticisms that he is receiving here. I am most definitely going to watch No Smoking. The lead character is named K, which reminds me of Kafka's works. It should be interesting to see if there is any connection. It is also interesting to see that the director himself is writing about his movie. Welcome to web 2.0! I love the fact that I get to read Neil Gaiman's journal everyday and I don't have to rely on some stupid jounalist who has no idea what writing or Neil Gaiman are to tell me what he is upto. I hope this trend grows.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Antaragni is in the Air

This is just a journal like linkin-park post. Antaragni is about to kick off today. I'm going to miss the opening because my Prof is going to take us out to dinner. But better today than any other day over the weekend because fun is promised. Atul and I have started the Unofficial Antaragni Oh-Seven Blog. Do read.

Am reading Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors these days. Have barely read about fifty or so pages till now. Perhaps a more complete post about the book will follow later on. I find it difficult to write about anthologies specially ones such as Smoke and Mirrors which have the most diverse set of short stories possible ranging from realistic to fantasy to science fiction to erotica. But nevertheless, I shall write. Meanwhile, you can see Neil Gaiman receiving the Hell's Dildo at the Spike TV awards.

Also read this interesting blog about the South Asian Literary Recordings Project. Sounds very interesting. It is interesting how in world everything is becoming commercial, there is a definitive drive to make knowledge openly available. Good, good.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl is a ‘modern day scientific fairy tale’ from Eoin Colfer (pronounced Owen). It was after a very long time that I read a pot-boiler, page-turner and meant-for-entertainment only book. And I can’t say I was disappointed.

Artemis Fowl narrates the story of Artemis Fowl the Second, a twelve year old prodigious genius and criminal mastermind who is the only heir of a long line of criminal masterminds. The eponymous first book of the series narrates the story of how young Artemis discovers the existence of fairies, steals their Book to plunder their secrets and then plots a consummately crafted plot to end up with fairy gold.

However, the fairies do no turn out to be the way everyone imagines them to be. They live under the ground and there is an entire civilization thriving with is much, much more technologically advanced than humans. Not only can the fairies perform a ritual on full moon night to replenish their powers and heal instantly using their blue sparks of magic, they can also create a static-time field and use a bio-bomb to deal with any unfortunate humans stumbling across the truth of their existence.

So when Artemis and his burly family bodyguard Butler kidnap Captain Holly Short of LEPrecon (the Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance wing) and demand a ton of fairy gold (24 karat) as ransom, it is up to the die-hard Commander Root, technological genius centaur Foaly and the-convicted-dwarf-with-uncanny-abilities Mulch Diggums to rescue her and save the gold as well. The plot twists and turns at tremendous pace and takes the reader on surprise every other page. You cannot put the book down until the story culminates in a mind-blowing climax everyone is granted a little bit of their desires.

If you’re just looking for some entertainment, Artemis Fowl is just the thing for you.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Begging for More

Warning: (Possibly) mature content.

She turns on the music and removes her hair-clip, letting her hair fall lose around her shoulders. A streak of grey begins at her forehead and ends at her ear. It’s like a viper, mesmerizing me with the fear of its power. She sways and her ear rings swing accentuating the pink line of her ears. Her feet rustle softly against the floor. She comes to me and she grins.

“Remove your shirt,” she says.

I obey.

She turns me around feeing my neck, my chest, the muscles on my back. She twists my arms behind my back and holds them tight. It hurts. She takes the cord and binds it around my wrists. She binds me tight. It hurts some more. Her nails are sharp and she uses them like knives running them up and down my back. I can feel the pain searing through my skin. I can feel her fingers burning against me.

She is humming to herself. She pushes me down.

“Kneel,” she says.

I kneel down. I obey. She is my mistress. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to obey her. To hang on to each and every word that she utters and see that her will is done.

I look up to see her face. She is unbuttoning her shirt. I can see her bra now, cupping her breasts, cradling them. She kneels down herself bringing her bosom close to my face. Dangerously close. I let out a warm breath onto them. I can see that she can feel and I can see that she is pleased but she slaps me. Hard. I know that her hand must be etched across my cheek now.

“I told you not to touch them,” she says, “in any way!”

She massages my nipples with her hands. Then she lowers her head and gives me a gentle flick with her tongue. Then she bites me. I cry out.

She holds my hair and jerks my head backwards. Her face is stern. I breathe heavily. It feels that she is almost about to pull my hair off. I try to nod.

“Yes … yes, mistress,” I say.

She chuckles with pleasure.

“Now,” she says and she goes down again and bites me on the other nipple. Tears roll down my cheeks. She gets up and licks my lips in a lavish kiss. Then, swinging to the rhythm of music, she walks away. She turns facing away from me and, hips swaying, she removes her bra and lets it fall to the ground. She walks up to me again. Her tits are perked – dark brown nuts on her soft white skin. She slaps me again, harder this time. I stagger and fall face-first to the floor, my hands straining against my binding in a futile attempt to catch balance. Blood trickles down my lips.

She hold me by my hair and picks me up then shoves me at her feet.

That is all I get today. I kiss her feet, kneeling in front of my mistress. I submit. And I beg for more.

Note: I think a little explanation is in order lest the readers begin inferring things about my sexual preferences from this piece. It was meant as a writing exercise. I'm watching Battlestar Galactica these days and I'm quite enamored with the way sexual encounters between Dr. Baltar and the cylon Number Six are done. Number Six is a classic female dom and I find her to be incredibly sexy. So I wanted to write a piece with a female dom and see how it comes out. Wasn't too difficult to do and I hope it hasn't some out as distasteful. It isn't meant to be that.

The writing exercise excuse didn't work, did it? Okay, go make inferences.

Fevicol Alien Advertisement

Saw this new Fevicol ad today. Now, as I don’t watch much TV, I don’t really know how ‘new’ the ad is. Nevertheless, I really liked this one for several reasons and therefore I link it here.

The first thing I liked about this ad was that it features aliens and yet it is set in an Indian (Rajasthani) village. The ad begins with a woman chiding her husband at not confronting the stupid aliens who broke her matkis. While the woman shouts and cusses at the aliens the men watch wide mouthed. After that the aliens speak in alien-speak for a moment then realize that they have to speak in Hindi. The alien speaks in Hindi next in a nice nod to Sholay’s legendary “Gaon walon …” dialog. It seemed to me a very funny take on the whole concept of aliens speaking English in most of the Hollywood movies.

Next, the aliens begin taking away the gravity of earth. So do the villagers scream and run and shout and create a pandemonium like they do in Hollywood movies? No! They just sit and enjoy the show. What else do you do with these pair of strange looking creatures doing all sorts of antics in your village?!

The aliens finish taking out gravity and everything begins flying into space. We see a shot of Earth from space. And we see India in prominence, larger than it actually is and occupying a central position. The villagers become a little alarmed at the loss of gravity. But is it a city dwelling urban-educated scientist who saves them? No! They don’t have to run to a city know-all to get their solutions! They just trust their own down to earth, practical rural intelligence. They pour Fevicol into a well and what can bind better than Fevicol? Gravity thus is back to normal.

Excellently crafted. Absolutely loved it.