Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Hypocrite

Have you ever felt like beating yourself up for having watched that abhorrently made movie out of that wonderful book you loved? Join the club. The world is full of us snobs who have continued torturing ourselves with the celluloid versions of Gone with the wind, Painted Veil and Memoirs of a Geisha, to name a few.

However, have you ever watched a movie, loved it, then read the book, loved the book even more, felt guilty for having loved the movie in the first place, and then ended up dissing the movie?

No? Meet me, the hypocritical book lover.

I must have watched My Fair Lady for the first time, when I was ten. I loved “Wouldn’t it be loverly”, Eliza Dolittle’s flower girl accent, Professor Higgins’ English Language Teaching (ELT) methods and Eliza’s outfit at the Embassy ball. It was a beautiful movie, and it gave The Sound of Music competition in occupying my mind space.

I read G. B. Shaw’s Pygmalion when I was seventeen. Quite late, one would say, for an ardent book lover. Shaw is a brilliant playwright, and I am just a minion complimenting the high priest. I was awestruck by the dialogues, the flow of the story, and, most of all, the ending.

They say, the ending really makes or breaks a movie. And, most of the movie remakes of books have endings suiting the palate of the viewing audience, which isn’t shared by the reading audience; which is one of the biggest reasons book lovers hate movie versions.

Pygmalion had a logical ending, albeit heartless. While it didn’t appeal to the romantic in me, it did capture my bookish-heart. The ending sounded right, the flower girl would never have been happy with Professor Higgins; it was too much of a force-fit to marry them off to each other.

And, I finally found the single biggest reason to hate the movie I had loved; the ending is so randomly romantic, fairy-taleish and filmy.

The rationalist in me has gone back and asked the question of why I did not see this “flaw” before, during all those years I fell over and over in love again with the scene where Audrey Hepburn gets together with Rex Harrison.

I am a biased judge of movies. I think I am qualified to judge a movie as bad because I am a book lover, like the type that thinks that it is too arty and classy to love anything beneath Ship of Theseus (which movie, for the record, I walked out of, while the monks traversed the sandy, wind-mill ridden roads for ten minutes). And, the minute I walk into a movie adaptation, I start looking for factual inaccuracies and non-adherence to the book, so that my point can be proven – a point that movie makers kill books and so should be banned from adapting books into movies.

It is sad that I do not have the openness to appreciate a piece of art for what it is, disengaging it from the fact that it might be an adaptation, and accepting that creative pieces should have voices of their own, even if they are adapted.

Someday, someone is going to write a book adaptation of a movie. Perhaps, it will be of a movie I love. Inception perhaps? I wonder what my reaction would be on reading that book.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The curious case of the horn

Have you ever been irritated by that persistent honking from behind you on the freeway, when all you wanted to do was just unwind and enjoy the view while driving at a 60 kmph rate on the right lane?

I am precisely that guy, honking from behind. And, the day I come face to face with you who uses the right lane so pathetically inefficiently, you will be dead meat.

My love for the car horn goes back a long way. Dad used to work late hours, and we didn’t have a security guard at home those days. He would honk from two roads away when he was arriving, so that it didn’t disturb my sleep, and so that mom could unlock the gate from inside. Apparently, I would wake up instantly too. To me, the horn was a sign that dad was home and all was well with the world again.

Years later, when best friend M returned from the US, she refused to use the horn any longer. “I want to reduce noise pollution Kavi”, she said. Her resolution lasted exactly two months. I gave an all knowing smile when she started using the horn again. She grudgingly acceded that it is difficult to handle the pedestrians in India by just flashing headlights (for we don’t leave them with footpaths, and hence they don’t leave us with roads to drive on).

My own driving has involved a lot of honking, as you would have realized by now. It is just easier to press the horn than flash the light, you know. One press versus two or three back and forth movements of the light and all that. Also, largely, people don’t get as irritated by light as they do by sound. The last time I ferried mom’s US-settled cousin in my car, he looked all around to see who the hell was honking, and swore never to get into my car again when he realized I was the culprit.

So, what happens when my favorite car equipment goes for a toss? Does the world fall apart? Do I go mad? Do I stop driving?

Apparently, none of these. I have been negotiating the big, bad Mumbai roads without a horn for two weeks now. And it isn't all that bad frankly.

Who am I kidding? The moment I realized the horn wasn’t working, I felt like I had lost my voice. I felt incapacitated to do anything, angry and frustrated at first, and then resigned to my fate, making do with the resources available at hand. But, with time, that has changed.

There is a strange sense of calm in my driving of late. For, I know that I cannot honk that pedestrian out of my way and just have to patiently drive behind them till they figure out they need to move aside. If that driver ahead of me doesn’t respond to my lights flashing, bad luck, but life goes on. My mom claims I have started driving like an American. Oh, well, I haven’t cracked yet what she knows about American driving, but that is a different story.

For now, I don’t miss my horn as much as I thought I would. And, I have started to believe in M’s resolution of wanting to reduce our contribution to noise pollution.

Oh wait! What’s that happening on the road? Damn! I need to get into that space ahead, and the driver on the left is shortchanging me. Honk! Honk! What? Why is there no sound? Oops! These are the times I miss you most, dear horn. Come back to me soon please. For, I have no say on the road without you after all.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Some may call it love

Dear SRK,

Love is a beautiful feeling. And, it is very flattering to note that you love us so much, and want to remember us at every walk of life.

I thought it started off very well. You attempted speaking our mother tongue in our very own “Ulaga Nayagan”s movie. And then you screwed it up. You screwed it up so badly that I had to mute scenes that starred you in that movie forever afterwards. I wonder why no one gave you flak for that. We always get so much flak for not getting our ‘ha’s right in your precious language. You, on the other hand, were appreciated for having attempted what this country thinks is some remote and nondescript language.

Anyway, I thought that would be the end of it, and we would all move on with life.

But, you did not stop. You don’t seem to have understood that there is a very thin line between love and obsession. Of late, I have started worrying about your irrational obsession with us. It wouldn’t worry me so much if it was not so inaccurate and farcical.

Really? You think we have our noodles with curd? YUCK. That movie bombed. And, I hoped that was the end of you messing with our identities.

Now, you come up with this? Kathakali dances, lungi tribute to Rajini and a very irritating Deepika Padukone talking some gibberish that passes off as Tamil in a movie atrociously named Chennai Express. When the hell have you seen Rajini dancing in a lungi in his movies? And there is a world of a difference between the Tamilian Bharatnatyam and the Mallu Kathakali. By the way, one cannot stand Deepika Padukone’s Hindi dialogue delivery. What made you think her speaking Tamil would fly?

I hope this one bombs too, and while it bombs, puts some sense into your head to stop messing with us. We have enough artistes and performers doing us proud and going global, we do not need wannabe imports from Bollywood misrepresenting who we are.

Yours sincerely,
An irate Tamilian who does not reciprocate your love

P.S. Per Yogi's allegation that I have become too stereotypical and dead boring, I started out attempting humor. But, it has turned out to be an angst-filled crib session. Some people never change after all.