Monday, 30 March 2015

Take Me To Church—A Breakdown

First off, if this video hasn’t swept YOUR screen yet, here’s a little preparatory homework.

Now that everyone reading this has watched the video (you’re welcome!) you can deduce for yourself whether it went viably viral; or in the same, undeserved manner as the ‘I Can Has Cheezburger?’ Lolcatz nuisance. My stance, however, is as solid as The Hulk’s gargantuan, green chest: I. Love. is. The song and the video. Independently and together.
And the song shook me especially when someone offhandedly compared me to the man’s lover in the song. It was a compliment I did not want—nor felt I warranted. The idea of being worshipped is almost narcotic in its intoxication… but the thought of having someone at your service is equally frightening. The lyrics, every time they’re sung at me, remind me of this essential dilemma often comes to the fore—power, and how quickly it turns to this liquid evil. Something I want on multiple levels, and yet do not wish to bear the brunt of.

(Still From The Video)
I went for this play in January called Venus In Furs, an interesting Matryoshka doll-esque concept. In this play-within-a-play setting, we saw the two leads, and the characters playing them, shifting the dominant-submissive sexual dynamic between them. I truly believed that I’d love that degree of power over someone—to have them kiss my shoes, run to me as I summoned them. But I also came to the swift and sharp realisation that I wouldn’t have the heart to put someone through that. That maybe I’m too weak for power that potent.

I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I'll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife

Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life
(Still From The Video)
I remember, once, watching Polanski’s Bitter Moon, a movie that (in order not to spoil it for everyone that may hopefully watch it) exhibiting in the most sensual, fluid form the deepest levels of cruelty between two people in love. The idea that love and torture were a packaged deal was something I had presumed from all the tragedy forced down my throughout via literature and the cinematic arts. But to see it inflicted so intentionally, so callously was something I wasn’t getting. If this was love, on any level, with any explanation, the world was deeper and darker than I wished to comprehend.
Opening up that thought-wound is bittersweet, one that incites both a grateful and hateful part of me every time I listen to Take Me To Church. It bothers me profoundly, but I love it.
The video is equally stirring in an altogether different fashion. It’s the most heartrending commentary on homophobia, blending seamlessly with—and detaches repeatedly from— the audio stimulus in a perfect harmony that drives home the point it’s making. 
The line She tells me "Worship in the bedroom"/The only heaven I'll be sent to/ Is when I'm alone with you syncs perfectly with the two boys kissing, cut quickly by the angry mob descending on one of the boys’ houses. The video ‘shows instead of telling,’ a trick every writer aims to learn to better their craft.
(Still From The Video)
 One of the most crushing moments is when we see the boy’s face, contorted with anguish, in the mini-screen of a handicam. The fact that someone is filming this shows just how deep the rot goes. It no longer becomes a righteous quest to ‘correct evil’—The vindicativeness tears through the seams of the (already flimsy) defence of ‘God’s Will,’ and the hypocrisy floods in.
I am well aware of how the video has resonated with everyone that may have been through/ known someone who’s been through this struggle with society. I can only hope it resonates with people that have never been brave enough to imagine it.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Cinema At the Gym-Ina! (So It Can Vaguely Rhyme)

#Funtimes #Khet #Mom # Bros4Lyf
 Still: Karan Arjun (1995)
In an attempt at being a more fulfilled human being, I have bought into the most popular stock option available to ‘young women my age’—going to the gym. This new found gym-rat avatar bodes well for me—it gives me an excuse as to why I’m tired and sleepy at 11:00 p.m. (there is no actual reason for this. Sometimes I am tired after having slept a full nine hours post doing nothing), and it’s my one reasonable claim to actually ‘taking care’ of my body—lathered by vats of cream-based desserts and unapologetically fattening meats.
So I am swathed daily in a sea of my own sweat and a thick coat of feel-good pheromones that are washed away by a hot shower as I emerge my shiniest, happiest self and begin the workday. I am inordinately proud of this un-extraordinary achievement, mostly because I am forced to battle the same terribly boring stimuli on deadbeat-repeat. These consist of
1)   A playlist that’s been looped so often it would make scratchy vinyl sounds if it were the old days.
2)   A TV with no sound that plays a Hindi news channel that unwaveringly reminds me of my lengthy stint as a schoolgirl, struggling to read words like Pratirodh and Paraadheen.
3)   Countless Health-In-Your-Face posters of unnaturally hot women like Nargis Fakhri and Lisa Haydon (who ought to be banned in general for the infinite damage she’s done to the female psyche simply by existing) on the cover of Healthy! Healthy! Healthy! Magazines with tips for a ‘Bang-able Bod’ or how to go from ‘Fat To Flat in 15 Minutes’ or whatever.
At some point that Zor-Laga-Ke Do-It-Do-It vibe started to get to me, and my inner couch potato sought counsel with my new work-out wizard self. We came to an understanding—I stay on the cross-trainer, but try to get them to change the channel from goddamn Hindi News/Sports.
And so, I used all 200 grams of charm I possess and got them to switch over to…’well anything else, really’, were my exact words. They informed me that, regardless, the soundtrack of Death By Trance needed to continue, attaching the phrase ‘gym policy’ and a fairly polite shrug of the shoulders. Ergo, I had to find something with subtitles, so I could read the TV (working out both brain and brawn, eh? Plenty smart.)
Alas, the one English language channel they possessed (AXN) had no signal. In a mild effort to help, they flipped it to Zee Cinema (my ‘I’m Truly Doing Nothing With My Life’ channel), which was playing Karan Arjun, a film whose original reel should’ve been lost at the godforsaken Mela instead of it’s duo-Khan leads.
As it happens, watching some Bolly Masala on volume zero is more educational than you’d imagine. I managed to watch a whole 45 minutes of this muted melodrama without being distracted by the dearth of sound. Turns out, watching this film without the chaos of sound effects and dialogue let me focus on about a million other aspects of the film that would never otherwise have come to the fore.
Like, how much villainous men need to move their heads in order in emphasize their points. Or how their echoing laughter while they mess around with an aging Rakhi conveys how truly evil they are, because, you know, Laughter + Someone’s Else’s Tears + Old Person Angle = Full-Time Bastard.
I loved how dream sequences had a healthy mix of Shah Rukh tossing and turning, his lower jaw glazed with sweat, on his charpai interspersed with NFAI archived footage of what looked like Jalianwala Bagh (but I’m guessing was the Kumbh Ka Mela judging by a stray Ferris wheel I saw in one half-shot). The footage, treated with the gloomiest black and white and stilted screen movement, was reminiscent of the Civil War documentaries Discovery used to make way back when (and could easily be mistaken for it without the dramatic soundtrack).
All You're Going To Do Is Talk? Excellent! Still: Before Sunset (2004)
So, to keep from making this a film studies dissection of various frames, I’ll stick to the basic fact I took away from this experience—we care too much about what’s going to happen. It breaks my heart when somebody says “I don’t care if it’s well written—as long it’s got a good plot”. Because, my god, I’m so far gone the opposite, I’m no longer relatable. I’ll watch the swill of the plot world—just because it’s written brilliantly. I don’t care if a movie doesn’t leave a room—in case you’re wondering, yes, I loved the Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight films—so long as the conversation is amazing. I don’t mind if a character doesn’t grow, doesn’t learn… just that he wastes away beautifully.
And I realised, with film, you’d think the dialogue was the way it was written. But really, it seems only the vehicle to carry forward a melodious cacophony of sounds, visuals, expressions, body-movements... The dialogue has us so hooked on what’s next we forget to focus on what’s right now. And watching Karan Arjun on mute amidst the perspiring walls of the office gym taught me what six months of a film class could not.
If it helps, Anuradha ma’am, if you’re out there. I finally think that Cinema as a Language makes sense—and isn’t eye-rollingly pretentious.
…Well, maybe the pretentious part is still true.

Monday, 9 March 2015

The Singles Club

 Also known as The Illusion of the Duo-Toned Lawn (and Why the Grass is Always Greener)

Sadly, this blog has come to a point where I can’t shy away from exploring the most-flipped-to section of my magazine—relationships. Today, I have no 101 tips to Blow (his mind), nor 80 positions That’ll Kill Your Back (But Will Keep Your Passion Alive). No, I have nothing useful—I have but myriad ramblings, packaged pretty in large words (and some small, but super-intelligent words like frisson) for some kind soul’s reading pleasure (or to be a page to skim while a YouTube video buffers). I have nothing to give except shady vibes and scrambled thoughts, attempting to sort through the age-old myth—that a relationship is the ultimate goal of a love life.

This might seem a natural assumption—do we not all want our cartoon cat to snuggle with, marathon hilarious sitcoms with, crunch on chips and popcorn with? Yes, our ideal is the man/woman who will not scamper off in frighten at our bleached faces or hole-in-the-bottom boxers, and will love us through every coughing fit, crusty nose and bout of emotional hara-kiri. We figure, we find ‘em, and we can officially start getting fat and letting our moustaches grow. 
It’s easy to coast toward this goal, to believe that this quintessential paragon of relationship joy will swoop in announced, and that it will be a happy change because, heck! What is the life we’ve worked for thus far but a way to pass time till perfection takes over. 
No, this is not a discourse on the aftermath of finding that relationship. I will not tut-tut about disillusionment, about the lovable little oddities turning irksome, of the sheen of passion fading to unveil time-worn machinery that can’t function without a hint of a scraping noise. This little rant is less poignant, far less relatable and far more self-indulgent.
It’s essentially just Single Girl Nostalgia.
A quick word in my own, pre-emptive defence—I wouldn’t trade my happy relationship for the world. I love it. I love fall asleep to the rhythm of someone’s breath, coming home to have someone wrap me up in their arms, subjecting someone to my Suits reruns. I love every part of it. If my boyfriend is reading this, I love you. 
And NOW that I’ve stuck that blinking disclaimer at the top, I’d like to say that being single is terribly underrated. It’s got this Cathy comic bad reputation of high candy intake and sorrow and drunken sex and it’s so unfair because it’s much more than that. The wide-held belief is that people that yearn for singlehood are people that are unhappy in their relationships; but my theory is somewhat atypical.
Ah, To Be Young and Trashy Again. (Circa 2014)
It’s sort of like choosing an ice-cream flavour. You try a bunch before you settle with one (unlike back in the day, where taster spoons for a few sneak-peak molecules weren’t handed out willy-nilly) and no matter how good that Peanut Butter Brinkle is, you miss that you’re not having chocolate. You don’t exactly want to switch your scoop in, but still, you can’t help but miss it.
 Sadly, singlehood/relationships don’t have a double-decker option (a sexual double-decker…not as appealing somehow).
I miss the boredom of coming home with nothing to do. I miss that sting of desperate hope that an attractive man might catch my layered eyes (new phraseology for glasses).  I miss going out with girlfriends and going home together, falling into one of our beds together instead of our own beds, without each other. I miss cooking for one, unashamed that my dinner will be bourbon biscuits and cheese. I miss having someone pop round in the a.m. and decide they want to use my bathroom, have a drink and leave. I miss being able to change my mind and head out after just stepping foot in the house, just because I’m not yet done with the gorgeous weather. 
I miss that. But not as much as I’d miss my cartoon cat.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Why Girls is breaking my heart (Spoiler Alert!)

Girls was always this show that sounded shallow and chock-full of lipsticks and love affairs—a vicinity I avoid like the plague unless it comes in the cinephile approved wrapping of Truffaut film. But, on closer inspection (i.e. religious fandom), over the last three years, the HBO original has bust that myth wide open. The show is gloriously white, over-analytical and over-privileged, not letting its narcissism be bogged down by ‘deeper’ concerns (like racism, sexism, et. al) to which we often find a token throwback on many shows of today.
And so, the show became something utterly flabbergasting and fresh in its strange, convoluted characters, its incredibly unappealing (but so real) sex scenes, and it’s first world problems. It received critical acclaim for numerous reasons; teetering at the top of that list: Lena Dunham’s unabashed flashing of all her parts at the ready. I became an ardent aficionado, following the show and tapping my feet in Hannah Horvath-esque impatience for the 4th season to come out.
I was waiting to see what was next for the muddled Hannah-Adam equation, what with her going off to Iowa and all (a decision I wasn’t fully comfortable with never actually having been exposed to Hannah’s writing, just being repeatedly programmed to think it was ‘really good’—much like Hank Moody of Californication) I wanted to know how much more fucked up Jessa could really get, what Shoshanna shenanigans were on the rise, whether Marnie was about to make an idiot of herself for yet another douchey-artistic type, etc etc. I also wanted to know to know if the beginnings of the rot I noticed in Season Three Episode 10 (Role Play) would spoil the fourth season bunch.
Ah, So Si Triste.
French for ‘It’s So Sad’. At least, that’s what Google Translate tells me. I thought a foreign language would make for dramatic impact, but I have come off being pretentious and pointless.
Much Like Season Four.
I have to make the same disclaimer I did for Sex and The City: I adore this show. I have marathoned episodes with my best friends to the point that we mouth the dialogue whilst exchanging wry giggles. I feel it’s only fair to comment at length on things I know, and know well. For instance, you’ll never catch me on a heated diatribe about 2 Broke Girls, because, really, who cares? I have felt the blood pulsing beneath the skin of this show, and since I know what it can be, I realise when it’s trying too hard to be.
Perhaps it is because the show has squeezed the life-affirming juices from its zany character circle. Perhaps its because it became noted the (English-speaking) world over that it was doing something honest and bizarre—so much so that it fell over the edge and lost the plot. Perhaps it’s because Lena Dunham was so busy writing her brilliant auto-biopsy that she forgot to write the show. 
Back when the show was hot like sauce
 Maybe it’s all the ‘perhaps’ piled up, but the show has lost…something. A certain element has evaporated with its success, and the honesty that came to it naturally is now wrung out via shock value. The characters have gone from odd-but-believable to caricatures of themselves. The cardinal traits of Hannah and her Holy Trinity have been exaggerated to the point where there is little to them beyond that (with the mild exception of Marnie).
Coming from a college that truly put the ‘liberal’ in liberal arts, over-exploration of every emotion, and the passing off every half-ditch attempt at creativity as ‘art’, doesn’t faze me. I have seen a garbage bag hung on a tree and called an ‘installation about poverty and injustice’ and I have let that go. But, man. Really? I shouldn’t have to deal with that kind of douchery in the arms of my beloved primetime drama?
Like Jessa, whose hint of wild-child has gone off the charts into size-16 infant (the pissing on the street incident? What an unhappy chapter in her otherwise alt-rockstar life!). Or Shoshanna, whose speed-typist way of talking now doesn’t amuse quite as much when slowed down to a human pace. Marnie seems to be growing in some miniature way, but enter Love Interest Desi and the fondness dims significantly.
Like Hannah’s writing workshop at Iowa—on the some level, J’Adore! (More French. More Fancy.) It mocked the over-indulgent nonsense I was constantly slapped with by the faceless ‘artists’ that frequented the halls of my university. So much ‘process’, so much ‘struggle’, so LITTLE productivity!! Could someone please write something, was the thought that came to the fore often as I watched the creative-energy circle cluster and talk their writer-ly emotions out to death.
But Hannah was ONE of them! Spewing one self-indulgent sentence after another! Writing sardonic apology notes, closeted-ly snarky and rife with how the ‘negative energy’ was blocking her ‘creative energy’! She had become that which she had loathed, and it wasn’t even a character turn! It was just a natural extension of her ingrown narcissism, bursting forth full-blast after festering for years. This was Hannah—we’d just never realised! She had become so self-obsessed, so pretentious, so unproductive that she was no longer even vaguely sympathetic. She was a screen annoyance, and you were sort of sadistically happy when Adam found someone else. Because he, apart from Ray, is the only person on the show worth caring about anymore. Still real, still trying. Still odd, but feasible. Still several notches above our protagonists, because at least they have some redeeming qualities.
Sigh. Even as the most feminist person I know how to be (I don’t want to castrate anyone, but I have no intention of having my dinner paid for)—I think this show ought to be repurposed into a saga of Ray getting in touch with his inner old man, as Adam finds a place to plant his love stick.
I’m thinking Boys. Anyone?