Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A quick roundup

If you are on my Facebook friend-list and log in periodically, you might have seen some of my attempts at lighthearted, humorous poetry. Most of these are hastily typed down in a minute or two, and therefore exhibit awkward structure and meter.

Still, I'm fond of them. Lightheartedness is a good excuse for laziness - I can get away with the excuse of parodying wannabe poets.

Penny-a-word poets:
Sudipto Basu wants to create rhythm but rhyme,
but can't find a word more fitting than slime.
Boy, these rhymes for a dime 
are just not worth his time.

On falling down from a bicycle:
Sudipto Basu is having much fun.
As much as can be done
with a painful hurt arm;
A silly book's done the harm!

Footnote - a book in a big bag hanging from the handle got stuck in the wheel. Hence, a bad fall.

To this, K-da added:
And with raging fever
It’s more than a shiver
that keeps you off
from FB and all the cine blokes you dare to scoff!

But which is the buck
You’d like to pass;
That created this fuss,
the book, tyre, muck
or a little less than luck ?

So get better soon.
You can’t set for a greater boon.
A half-way spoonerism this, it’s then a spoon!
For want of an apt ender,
I’ll rather take this bender
And settle for my LB’s lampoon!
Footnote - LB is for little brother, which is how K-da often calls me. The fall was soon accompanied by high fever.

On writing infrequently:
Sudipto Basu needs to write more often,
His writing skills mustn't soften.
Sayantani added:
Love your couplets,
Nice mind-outlets.

To which I rejoined:
Writing a couplet ain't hard.
For an easy going two-line bard.

Self-referential fun:
The other day I wrote
something of eminent note:
"Writing couplets ain't hard
for an easy-going two-line bard."
A couple more I want to fix,
In place of four, now I have six.
Two lines more I want to frame.
But can't, oh what a shame!

The Basics of a Trivial Art:
A writer of lighthearted verse
Must make his lines terse.
Succumb to the prolix curse
and your rhymes become worse.
Hold your tongue tight, and your words tighter.
That adds to the humour, makes the verse lighter.

(Lines three and four contributed by Sudhang Shankar. The in-joke is that I've often been susceptible to the prolix curse. Sudhang's couplet might also be a word of warning to me.)

Bad mess food:
"How does it feel?, how does it feel?"
Well how should I feel without a meal!
The mess serves gooey broth.
Good reason for fume and froth.
The first line is of course lifted from a famous Dylan song. This is one of my laziest rhymes, which prompted Karn Kaul to announce that I'm going mad.

The Humourless:
A man who's serious and sombre
is almost as deadly as a mad bomber.
The self-serious man refuses to understand humour,
His earnest unfunny-ness keeps growing like a tumour.
In case you're wondering, this is exaggerated verse.
Don't sulk so much, it could have been worse.
Inspired by a post on Jabberwock's blog which goes by the same name. Funny thing he responded to this facebook status! Reason for writing: professors earnestly asking students to make movies with social relevance at a screening of short-films. This, when some of the films being chided were excellent parody/mockumentary stuff. And a "socially-relevant" film scripted by one of the professors in question prone to turgid seriousness. As you can see, I also did a good job of plagiarising two rhyming words from 'The Basics of a Trivial Art'.

The last one in this post is a playoff started due to a friend who called K-da "a great cine buff". Anyway, here goes Film Conversations.

Beginning with K-da:
"A great cine buff?!"
If that isn't a bluff,
I'd have to leave the place in a huff!
Lest Mr Sudipto Basu chortles
With a violent sneeze and a non-phlegmatic cough!

To which I said:
It isn't very tough
to be recognised as a cine buff.
Some acquaintance
with films of great importance
should be enough
to make you a cine buff.

And K-da replied:
Now, it's a piquant call,
when K-da's having a pit-less fall,
to try and give him a prop,
and in the process go for a crop,
of all those virtues that a buff so deserves,
Insight, vision and the mental reserves,
And, Mr Basu at this age,
Matches a feat that envies the sage,
And this is the fact without any toss
needs to be driven sure across,
to all those friends, don't be cross!

My sagacious rejoinder:
A film buff requires vision and insight
to be able to look into the plight
of fellow men and women.
All that is accepted, but then
(here to your assumption i'll say no
a true cineaste mustn't be so)
mental reserves are a dent
to a film buff's temperament.

To those confounded with this playful reverence, K-da has unusually high opinions of people he likes. Don't be fooled!

Some explanation owed for the "mental reserves" bit. A friend of K-da opined that once someone starts appreciating the masters of world cinema, locally acclaimed film-makers start looking pale in comparison. So much so that one doesn't even want to watch Indian films anymore. (Personal opinion: untrue.)

P.S. and N.B:
1.) A few of the verses begin awkwardly with Sudipto Basu because facebook statuses, as you may know, begin with the poster's name.
2.) Some lines have been modified here and there. Still there is minimum editorial interference.
3.) Prosaic explanations ironically required.
4.) Due acknowledgement to all the greats: Ogden Nash, Edward Lear, Piet Hein, Carroll and Sukumar Ray.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Dulaali's Tale

(Translated from a poem by Joy Goswami.)
Which land were we headed to
What land were we leaving behind
Crossing hills and hollows
Dew-wet trees and barbed wire
Down we went through the plains
On we went through the rice fields
My little sister, Ma, Baba
And all the village folk.
Walking beside them was I
Or Priyobala?
Parents called Dulaali at home,
Priyobala was the name at school.
I had only recently begun to go to school.
Someone from the village said,
“Flee this place, ho, flee!”
So we fled.
With the entire village.
Ma, Baba, two sisters,
We fled.
Making our way through bushes and wild weeds,
Making our way through brooks and creeks,
Made our way sleepy hauling
Our sleepy thatched-roof,
Our sleepy bamboo fencing,
The sleepy bottle gourd,
Laid on the yard the sleepy cart-wheel,
The sleepy plougher.
The shiuli plant on the portico,
The moon hidden half by the limp neem tree.
We moved on without making a sound.
A twig touched down the forehead and the head,
Cold in dew, wet and calloused,
The folio of a tree is so like the folio of a hand.
After crossing so many many fields,
We rested under the shade of the trees.
Each of us unpacked our sacks,
For jaggery and puffed rice.
Eyes drooping down from slog.
There was a sudden scuttle,
Fire had broken out in villages.
“O Aaduri!”, “O Dulaali!”, “Where are you two?”
Ma, Baba called for us.
I was found.
But Aaduri was lost.
Nobody knows where she has ended up.
We all crossed the barbed wire boundary,
We all.
Heads down, necks down.
We also passed through the book.
The book of Immigration.
We travelled on the steamer,
On the train.
The path was torn into bits.
Where was the land we’re headed to,
In past?
In future?
What an age we left behind!
“Dulaali, Dulaali!” “Priyobala, Priyobala!”
The name is lost on the road.
Some part of the name is lost in the rice meadows.
Some part is lost in the waters of the streams.
Some part the school has taken away.
Some part is lost in the riots along the way.
The trees under which we rested,
Some part of the name is lost to those trees.
Some part of the name the dew-drops of the fields took away.
Some part has gone to the neighbours of the night.
Some part got caught in the bamboo fencing.
Some part is hidden away beneath the thatch-leaves.
Some part is stuck in the barbed wires.
Some part is gone to the Immigration book.

One age I left in that country,
One age was taken by my man,
One age passed by to raise my son,
It is by my son’s name that I’m known today.
I was a part-time maid,
Now full-time.
Meals and clothes I get here as part of pay,
Son has separated after marriage.
I stay here only.
Sitting here, I, Nanda’s Ma,
Don’t think of my son.
Neither of my man.
I just remember,
We were going
To some land.
We all were fleeing.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Down the memory hole...

I look on a little aghast
As I erase a bit of my past.
The tyranny of small minds,
In its devious way grinds
The sweetness of yesteryears.
Blood ties confirm fears
Of being misunderstood.
On this, let's not brood
Anymore. Laugh a little
At the pettiness of moronic piffle.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

A cut-out case

This report thrilled me. Not only did the eight Congress workers get themselves photographed with a cardboard cut-out of Rahul Gandhi, they also “apprised him of the problems of Agra, particularly of those dealing in leather business”. I think this is a giant step for mankind, even though it must've been a small one for the concerned eight. As the ad-line goes, let me show you how!

How often do we hear complaints from film reviewers that characters seem like cardboard cut-outs with the sole intention of mouthing a few lines, shaking a few legs and populating the frame? Often, very often. I propose future directors to take the criticism literally. Think about this: won't a well-designed cutout of Aishwarya Rai be enough for her part? One, the beauty is there. Two, so is the wooden acting. Three, the deadpan dialogue delivery is "naturalistic" (I mean, get the voice dubbed or something - learn something from Rituparno!). And it's cheap. This could well be the next big step in low-budget film-making after the invention of digital photography. What more, the director can take a cue from the Egregious Eight, and release the following statement in his press conference:

It was a very challenging role for Ash. Her role required restraint. A lack of emotion was the very key of her character. During the shoots, she'd often consult with me if she should underplay her expressions even more. For example, in the climactic showdown, we required seven takes to get her passive expression right.

At the preview screening, there may a few doubts regarding why there were no profile shots of Aishwarya, but the director can dispel them with his explanation.

The role demanded that we see only one 'side' of her character. With my extra-ordinary ability to be literal-minded, I formulated a plan to do this. I would take shots only from the front.

Once some behind-the-scenes footage is accidentally released, the media will go into a tizzy reporting this latest development in the world of entertainment. There will possibly be several critics of this extreme step, but noted film-academician Roger Abhert will defend it. In his words:

At one point in Godard's History of Cinema, he anticipates the death of cinema (He apparently asked Henri Langlois to burn the archives). Death, so that it can rise again from the ashes. “Art is like fire. Born from what it burns.” says Godard and that is precisely what he desires – Cinema to go down with all its exploitations and restrictions and rise in its purest form. Back to infancy, so that it can learn everything out of free will, without rules and without vanity.”

In a world of boring 3D cinema like Avatar, it is worth considering going back to basics. From 2D to 1D. I congratulate whoever thought of using cutouts as actors.

And why only films? Soap serials can also consider taking the step. In fact, they can have several cutouts having different stock expressions - angry, sad, shocked, evil-smiling, sweet-baby-like-smiling, thoughtfully romantic, etc. And all the budget saved from actor salaries can go to more grandiose sets and designer apparel (for the cutouts, of course).

Consider also the tremendous impact this may have on politics. Mamata Banerjee calls a hunger strike - you do or I die - opposing an industrial project and sends a cutout to her dharna. A careful angle of exposure to mediapersons along with an army of aam-janata guarding the cutout can keep her tummy filled; and the project stalled forever.

I think this may also prevent a lot of warfare. Countries can keep their borders lined with cutouts of soldiers. On both sides of the divide. No one fires a shell (since it is difficult to figure out if it's a real soldier or a fake from great distances). Both countries stay "on the alert for enemy-action". Forever.

A last proposition: the Egregious Eight must be given the Idea Cellular "What an idea, sirjee!" award for excellence in brainstorming. Also, I wait for the day when a Dalit feeds a humble Rahul Gandhi cutout in his house.

(NB: Part of the Roger Abhert quote taken from this excellent review of Inglourious Basterds.)