Sunday, 12 August 2012

How cheap is human life? - on Gangs of Wasseypur

First of all, the confession: I enjoyed seeing both parts on Gangs of Wasseypur, the second half more than the first. I admire the craft that went into the film - the flawless lighting and cinematography, the uniformly good acting from the cast, how it plays around with music and countless other details. Yet I find it problematic to accept. Or perhaps, because of it.

Kashyap has always been some sort of a prankster: whenever he can, he'll hold up the narrative for a while to deliver a joke, an ironic detail or something to break up dramatic tension (e.g. the haldi gag in Dev D). This works brilliantly for me when it is balanced with a genuine emotional core - as in Dev D - or when the world within the film is sufficiently outre to suspend expectations of reality, as in No Smoking. But with Gangs, he's made the only film in his career where the explicit intention is to blow up narrative continuity with a series of jokes.

I don't find this anarchic tendency problematic in itself. Bunuel did the same thing in his later films with Jean Claude-Carriere (for example in The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie) and I love him precisely for this subtle demolition of audience expectations. The trouble with Kashyap is that he's using humour in the same amoral way as Tarantino, only without the edge.

To elucidate with an example: the murder of Sultan, which recalls something of the Bunuel spirit. Kashyap sets up the scene as a joke - the coordinator of the hit job is having trouble tying his pyjamas while he's on the phone line with three different people - and for a moment we assume that Sultan is going to slip by in all this chaos. But the plan falls into place just in time and Sultan is murdered viciously - a sudden change in tone which ends up implicating the audience for forgetting that we're ultimately laughing about murder. This unease is why Tarantino works in films like Inglourious Basterds, the self-awareness that violence is fantasy.

By contrast, most of the other killings in the film are played out rather routinely without any emotional investment of the audience in what's going on (and Yashpal Sharma is always at hand to suitably play the ironic brass band troubadour). We enjoy the spectacle but don't feel anything at all - something which reaches its apotheosis in Ramadhir Singh's climactic death. The whole thing is pulled off so bloody impressively that you want it a second time. The difference in this and the Sultan scene is that there is nothing in Kashyap's attitude which indicates that he doesn't share the let's-have-fun-shooting-some-more feeling. It's this invitation to witness full-blooded revenge in glorious slow-motion with accompanying hip techno music that repels me (coincidentally Jim Emerson recently wrote on why he doesn't consider revenge a good plot device). A sort of shirking away from taking a moral and emotional ground, as if that's too hip and uncool. Lest anyone forget, this is the director of Gulaal we're talking about - a political film considerably drowned in pathos.

Which brings me to my theory. The only way GoW makes sense to me is as Kashyap's own vengeance saga. It's like he wants to take us on for completely ignoring That Girl in Yellow Boots (his most emotionally honest film) and show that he can make a blockbuster hit - by twisting and playing around with Bollywood's prized conventions - delivering the ultimate abstruse masala film.

So far so good. Now that he's had his field day, will he get back to the Yellow Boots zone again? Or at least the Dev D one?

Friday, 10 August 2012

Circling around the past - Vertigo

In the light of the recently conducted Sight & Sound 2012 poll results, I decided to see Vertigo again. While my original idea was to write something comprehensive on it - the film has been swimming around in my mind for some personal reasons - I've decided against it because I find Chris Marker (a master who recently died) has already said nearly everything I wanted to. In this essay.

Conventionally, the film has always been read from Scottie's perspective. I feel it is as valid from Judy's. Both of them independently think that they can bury the past. Both are consumed in it. The film's just so goddamned fatalistic and cruel. As is life.


Be kind, rewind!


Adam Gopnik also has a wonderful essay that deals indirectly with Vertigo's themes. Many thanks to Jai, from whom I came to know of it.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Escapism in cinema, baa Kaushik keno Q

In the popular consciousness, "serious films" (or "festival films") are always cracked up to be rooted in reality. One tends to divide cinema into two mutually exclusive boxes - that which is meant to provoke thought and that which helps once escape from sordid reality into projected fantasies.

But then Gandu comes trotting along happily and messes things up. All attentions focussed strongly on its taboo-breaking full-frontal scene, few people - next to no one - seems to notice this "paradigm shift". A complete break with our "parallel" film culture: which has always been strongly grounded in faithful depiction of some sort of reality, even in the formalist works of Kaul and Shahani. (Kamal Swaroop's surrealist Om-Dar-Ba-Dar is the only exception.) The most persistent criticism of the film is its haywire narrative structure - most people I know who have seen the film couldn't figure what it was about and proceeded to dismantle it from that point on. 

This inspite of the explicit hallucinogen use in the film - sign enough to resign oneself to the fact the film is supposed to be very much like an drug-trip. In a talk by Q I attended, he revealed that the dhatura scene was shot in a time of deep self-doubt regarding his place as a film-maker. Relying mostly on instinct while shooting (without a script, like most of the film), he shaped the scene largely while editing it - retaining the free-associative sensory overload one experiences in a trip. It might be argued that the sex with the kitten never really happened except in Gandu's drug-addled mind. The use of lurid, vivid colour certainly hints at that - especially when compared to Q's use of black-and-white for the rest of the film (which he calls the film's surviving link to Bengali political films of the past).

Q is open about his post-modern influences and posits that Gandu is in part about the effect of digital technology on our lives. The significance of virtual avatars, proliferation of shit and the increasing difficulty to hold on to traditional notions of good and bad in the context of internet - all of these find a way into his film. One reason why I find it difficult to judge it myself - though I understand something of what it is trying to say - is because the critical apparatus I usually employ is useless here; the film has absorbed its criticism into itself.

The elitist notion brewed in intellectual circles is one of a commercial cinema for the proletariat: meant for them to escape the drudgery of their existence. Bollywood practically thrives on this streamlined notion of what is escapism, an idea it has succeeded in embedding into the popular consciousness. What these intellectuals don't mention - even though they experience it themselves - is how a lot of "committed cinema" functions the same way for them. In a world that forces a certain sort of lifestyle upon urbane educated people, it is hard even for the genuinely caring to get out of their comfort zones and do something. By living a proxy life amongst people who are real, and emotionally connecting with their plight, they (bourgeois intellectuals) seek catharsis. An escape from the routine-ness from their lives. Their stuff of fantasies might not be gauche designer-clad cavorting in exotic locations - perhaps a more sophisticated liberal outrage against the hardships of Iranian women, for example - but it's a fantasy nonetheless. In case I seem to be pointing fingers, I'll admit it applies to me too (hence this post).

I love Calvin and Hobbes for several reasons, but the biggest might be Watterson's realization that the most interesting parts of our lives are lived inside our heads. Hobbes talking, joking and fighting with Calvin isn't a conceit, it's an essential need in Calvin's life (who is essentially lonely and friendless, if you've noticed). One needs an alternative identity to get by.

Like Q does. Imagine a guy named Kaushik Mukherjee gleefully rapping "nada nada Horihor, khada tor bada!" ("shake it, shake it, Horihor!"). Doesn't work. Too much cultural baggage to allow one to be an iconoclast. Q. Non-descript. Enigmatic. Now you can do what you want!

Q performing with Gandu Circus in The Basement, Kolkata. Photo by Shovon Ray.

Saturday, 28 July 2012


What is true evil? The trouble I had with the post-Dark Knight tom-toming of the Joker as a representation of True Evil is this vision of villainy as something larger-than-life, the work of a single man terrorising a whole city. Schindler's List ends with with Oskar Schindler delivering an impassioned speech to Nazi soldiers to go back home to their families. As with everything Spielberg, it promotes a sugarcoated vision of benevolent humanity - slightly led astray by the provocations of that epitome of True Evil, Herr Hitler. And yet, evil as I and most of us know it is banal and mundane - mostly a result of being trapped in the status quo - the evil of conformity and unquestioning acceptance.

There are several reasons why I think that Harud (trailer) might be the best political film to come out of India in quite some time. But the one reason on the top of my mind is this - it gets the nature of villainy right. In its repeated shots of rifle butts ominously hovering over Kashmir's everyday life it captures the humiliation that every Kashmiri must face without relief.

There are other things Harud gets right - its deliberate eschewing of historical explanations, and equally its safe distance from Bollywood's hyper-real aesthetic. The strength of Harud is in its lack of melodrama, its aesthetic restraint that mirrors the interiority of the characters - so that when the father breaks down mid-prayer or the mother grieves her dead son, it strikes home with an intensity that those long bouts of suppressed emotion withheld. It equally draws power from a carefully constructed sound design - the crackle of police radios, the wail of a siren, the clanging of a bicycle, and that final cathartic burst of music (which left me silent).

The film is in theatres for at least a week - if you're lucky enough to be in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore or Ahmedabad - so catch it while there's still time.

Harud (2010)
Dir.: Aamir Bashir
Prod.: Aamir Bashir, Shanker Raman
Screenplay: Aamir Bashir, Shanker Raman, Mahmood Farooqui
Shot by: Shanker Raman
Edit: Shan Mohammed
Sound: Nakul Kamte
Cast: Shahnawaz Bhat, Reza Naji, Shamim Basharat, Salma Ashai, Umar Bhat, Showkat Magray

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Demystifying Aantlami: or, How I Learnt To Get Over Limiting Reservations and Love Cinema

For those not familiar with the second word in the title, a brief explanation. Aantlami is derived from aantel: a Jadavpur University catchword that is popular throughout Bengal (and wherever else Bengalis live). Its etymological root is a corruption of the French way of pronouncing "intellectual". Usage varies from knee-jerk putdown to friendly jab, but in all shades of meaning it spells pseudo-intellectual(-ism).


The present post is to debunk some myths about "art cinema" - which is supposedly the only sort of films I watch, or so my friends believe. The boundaries of "art film" are very broad and accommodating. Anything outside recent mainstream American, British and Indian cinemas falls in that huge set.

The problem with this classification is that a significant part of the films considered so were made in Hollywood or British studios with big budgets and bankable stars, and made sufficient profits back in the day (except perhaps a few Poverty Row classics like Detour). Yet the fact that they're sometimes in black-and-white (colour films were already in vogue by the 1950s) and not contemporary to us drives people away. So here's mental roadblock #1: black-and-white. We'll come to the demystification part later. For now, let us enumerate the problems.

The second big chunk in that very accommodating box called "art cinema" is foreign language films. The funny thing about this tag is that it represents the POV of an Anglophone audience. To them, even a mainstream Bollywood film would be foreign language (assuming it is not in English). And yet we have inherited both their broad definition as well as their prejudices. So here is mental roadblock #2.

The third chunk is possibly the most ignored form even amongst reasonably serious film-viewers - documentary film. The funny thing about viewing attitudes regarding documentaries is that most of us have grown up watching TV documentaries on Discovery, Nat Geo and suchlike. And while their usefulness as learning tools for children cannot be denied, the formal and thematic stagnation and sensationalistic tone (specifically when dealing with history) virtually render them no more than passable infotainment. Mental roadblock #3.

If you consider the vast amount of cinema made throughout the world, the viewing window that remains open because of these reservations and roadblocks is so narrow it merits thinking. The average guy who says he loves watching movies has therefore kept his mind open to only about 5-10% (and that's an optimistic estimate) of the choices he has. And yet he would bravely venture to say that The Godfather or The Shawshank Redemption or The Dark Knight is the greatest film in the world. Isn't that funny?

The principal problem with these reservations is the refusal to consider cinema as a separate language. For most film-goers, even some of the serious ones, a film is meaningless if it does not tell a story. More pointedly, if it does not tell a story in the way they are used to hearing. This explains the inability to look beyond plots, simple join-the-dots sort-of explanations, answers and "messages". This also explains the outrage when some critic gives away spoilers to make comprehensive analyses.

So here is a broadly counter-balancing rule #1: cinema is not all about stories, least of all easily understandable ones, though there are several good films that tell them the straight way. If you can't have cinema any other way, Classical Hollywood and its bastard offspring, the New American Cinema (of which The Godfather is only the most famous example), should meet your expectations. Along with Italian neo-realism and its spiritual successor, New Iranian Cinema - if you're not averse to watching subtitled films. But try to look beyond just that.

One of the greatest losses in moviemaking craft is that new studio directors have largely forgotten or given up long and medium-long shots. Even the most workmanlike director of old Hollywood knew how to block a scene (i.e. direct actors on how to move with respect to the camera) in an interior space. New directors simply have the actors followed around with a Steadicam. The difference between the old and new ways is the amount of trust the filmmaker puts in the audience. Whereas a Hollywood director trusted the audience to look for the relevant detail in an intricately composed frame till about the '70s, one just assumes that today's moviegoers have such short attention-spans that they have to be fed everything the fast food way (for all my lukewarm love for Darren Aronofsky, one of the better studio directors in Hollywood today, his strategy is all close-ups). This assumption about a deteriorating audience might be true to an extent, but the larger part of the blame falls on the studios and filmmakers themselves - as Jonathan Rosenbaum has convincingly argued in Movie Wars. To put it in another way, YOU WOULD NOT WANT TO READ A BOOK WHERE EVERY LINE IS IN UPPER CAPS, BOLD AND UNDERLINED BUT YOU WATCH FILMS MADE WITH THE SAME AMOUNT OF TRUST IN THE AUDIENCE'S ABILITIES (on second thoughts, even one where this strategy is employed intermittently).

The same with editing - preliminary calculations show how average shot length has reduced to something around 2 to 5 seconds now. What possibly started as an amalgamation of Soviet montage and New Wave jump cuts into traditional continuity cutting has degenerated badly into spoon-feeding. To take an example, the old way of highlighting, say, 5 things within the same physical space would be to set up a camera and within the frame (which may be altered by panning, zooming, tracking etc.) achieve an interplay between the elements: say, one of the things to be highlighted moves suddenly in an otherwise still background. The new way to do it is just taking a close-up and cutting to the next thing to be shot. Less confidence in the viewer, in other words.

On to some of the mental reservations. #1: Black-and-white. This one I find hard to understand, given the reasonable popularity of hi-definition monochrome still photography. Several of my friends dabbling in amateur photography love black-and-white stills; yet it seldom translates into love for black-and-white films. To be completely frank, I have counter-reservations about the use of colour in mainstream films. Many directors and cinematographers have no idea how to use colour judiciously so you have movies colour-coded by genre. Laziness in thought, laziness in action. At the very least, monochrome saves us from this monotony of colour. A decently lit b&w frame does not hurt the eyes and something from John Alton makes your jaw drop.

#2: Foreign languages and subtitles. Hostility towards foreign language films is also quite baffling to me. I can think of a few reasons why one might not want to see them:
  • The sound of a foreign language is distracting/funny. This is not so uncommon though I would assume most educated people to not burst into fits of laughter hearing strings of unintelligible syllables. The only psychological reason I can assume is insularity regarding one's own origins and language. Anything outre is funny for no good reason.
  • The problem with subtitles. This is a somewhat serious problem since many have earnestly complained that they find it difficult to follow the visuals while their eyeballs keep darting to the bottom of the screen to read the dialogue. Takes some practice. Once you achieve the ability to move your focus quickly all around the screen in fractions of a second, it does not impede the enjoyment of seeing the film too much. Again, longer camera takes help - so look out for directors who make films that way. I'd hate to see a frenetically-paced rapidly-cut thriller while trying to understand which direction the narrative is heading to.
  • Are their concerns really valid to us? Yes they are. Maybe not in the immediate sense. Settings may be regional and local, but human issues (social, cultural, political) are always universal. In fact, as some have noted, the more rooted in local details a film is, the more universal its reach.
  • Will we get their cultural references? This is, by far, the most serious of the reservations. Even the most serious of film-viewers have at some time or the other been confused about their opinions of a "difficult" foreign film. So I will admit at once that some of the imagery in Bunuel is lost on me since I am not familiar with Catholic theology. Or that the Persian poets Kiarostami often quotes are to me somewhat impenetrable. Yet no one but the impatient can escape the wicked sense of humour that permeates everything Bunuel did - if you have protested against authority, conformity and organised religion at some point of your life, your greatest spokesman in cinema is probably this guy. And if you have a palate for the gentle humour and deep profundity that underlies our everyday existence, you cannot ignore Kiarostami.

Which brings me to the major stereotype - preconception, rather - which stops people from exploring cinema more freely. The complaint that "art films" are slow, ponderous, hard to watch. As the preceding points explain, not every "art film" qualifies. Classical Hollywood and New American Cinema are largely well-paced and narrative-driven. A recent conversation with a friend who has seen a few Hitchcock thrillers throws light on what I mean by well-paced. I'm recalling a part of it:
Friend: I liked Rear Window, though it started slowly for me.
Me: No way, I can agree if you say, for example, that Vertigo starts a bit slowly. But Rear Window is captivating from scene one.
The only reason why his notions of instantly arresting material differs from mine is that he possibly has Hitchcock's popular conception as a master of thrills in mind and is therefore expecting something major to happen in the first few minutes itself. (North By Northwest would probably satisfy him.) In Rear Window, the murder (SPOILER!) happens late into the film and is moreover implicit. But does nothing of interest happen at all? Only if we're looking for an instant thrill and not enjoying the little pleasures. Hitchcock is gently inviting us to be voyeurs - looking into the lives of Jimmy Stewart's neighbours even before Jimmy himself starts doing so. We get an idea of what his neigbourhood is like and develop an interest in what might happen to each of these neighbours as the film progresses. We're also wondering which of these individual stories will later get involved with the story of our protagonist - wheelchair and plaster-cast bound Jimmy. It is the classic ploy of raising questions (in the viewer's mind) and gradually resolving them. But if our only investment is in murder and intrigue, we'll miss it. And Rear Window will seem "slow".

Of course, there are films where the pace is slow - i.e. something eventful rarely happens. Antonioni is a typical example, though in his case, he has full justification for doing so - most of his characters are upper-class high-society types with unfulfilled emotional and/or intellectual lives. I will easily admit that I take time to warm up to Antonioni, reasonably seasoned cinephile that I am. Nonetheless, in some cases, I realise (on repeat viewings) that even difficult directors of this sort have a sense of humour - Blowup is pretty much a laugh on the face of the disinterested viewer who finds the film boring. It has also to be understood that a lot of modern arthouse directors (the genuinely "art film" directors, in my definition) employ extraordinarily long takes, sparse soundtracks and visual designs (Tsai Ming-Liang, Bela Tarr, etc.) as a reaction to the oversaturation - all hyper-intensive close-ups and rapid cuts - that the mainstream cinema forces on us. Their films may be something of an acquired taste but the others are quite easily accessible. Nonetheless, I believe in Bresson's dictum that it is more preferable that a viewer feels a film first and understands it later, if at all. It is only the most facile director who assumes that the world is no enigma, that every question has easily digestible answers. Patience helps.


Lastly, why cinema? Tough question, one I can't objectively answer. I'm guessing, if you have actually read uptil this point, you already have your own answer, right?


A junior had asked me to write something long time back. I'd written a draft of this down some three months before. Never had the nerve to publish then because it is preachy and explicatory to a degree. Re-read it today and found that there were useful things in there. So putting it out. Whatever you have to say is welcome. 

P.S.: The target readership is someone who's interested in knowing cinema, but unsure about the hows and whys.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Thoughts on film comedy

 Eventually all of my thoughts on comedy come back to Old Charlie and his spiritual successor Jacques Tati. Charlie's birthday gives me the perfect opportunity to write about comedy, via his ideas.

Chaplin had a gift for expressing his vision of comedy with superb economy. I found two anecdotes in his autobiography that seem relevant.

Charlie in his non-Tramp persona.
The first is a hypothetical scenario: a man goes to a funeral. Everyone is standing. The man keeps his hat on a chair beside him. When everyone sits down, the fellow next to our man sits on his hat without noticing it. No one else has paid any attention to this little incident, but between the two of them the sombreness has been lost. I have no idea if Tati ever read Chaplin's autobiography but there's a reenactment of this in M. Hulot's Holiday. The ever-bumbling M. Hulot happens upon a funeral when his car breaks down. Dry leaves stick to one of the spare tyre-tubes in his jalopy. One of the attendants at the funeral takes it for a wreath and places it by the corpse's side. As upper-class mock-sombre people pass by the deceased in a file, air leaks from the tube and the "wreath" droops. The spell of seriousness has been broken.

The second is one of Chaplin's childhood memories: a flock of sheep are crossing by his house. This delights the kid to no end, until he realises that they are being led to the neighbourhood slaughterhouse. Comedy and tragedy often live with each other in an uneasy space.

Which bring us to Chaplin's most memorable quote: "Life is a tragedy in close-up, a comedy in long shot." Virtually all comedy - and not just the distinctively visual comedy practised by the likes of Charlie and Tati - has its essence in that one line. In a strictly visual interpretation it is probably best summarised in Tati's Playtime - a film of magnificent ambition where every frame has multiple gags being played out in various planes in the foreground and background, often contrasting each other, sometimes creating a sort of magical symphony. Needless to say everything is in long-shot - most of the film's situational humour is derived from the fact that the players are lost in their own internal worlds, unaware of the other players in the frame, whereas we can see all of them at once. A classic example is the scene where Tati's M. Hulot goes to an old army friend's house - an glass-walled apartment building where every movement can be seen from the streets. While the army buddy undresses, we can also see his female neighbour watching TV. The resulting visual gag suggests that the lady is seeing the man strip!

Visual interpretations aside, all black humour also relies on the same principle of the larger picture undercutting the smaller one. Consider Dr. Strangelove. In the scene where Bat Guano is sent to Burpelson Air Base to get to Jack D. Ripper, he's confronted with Mandrake. Mandrake assures Guano that he knows that Ripper's commands mean nuclear annihilation, and only he can stop it if he can put a call through to the US President. The phone booth requires loose change - and since no one has the required amount to place a call to the President - Mandrake suggests Guano blast the Coca Cola machine and get some. Which prompts Guano's much-quoted rebuttal, "That's private property. You'll have to answer to the Coca Cola company!" As in Tati, our previous knowledge of imminent nuclear disaster provides this banter-driven scene the darkly comic tone it is remembered for.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Dashboard confessional

Part-confession, part-rationalization. How are your cultural preferences formed?

My gateway to 'artsy' Indian cinema was Satyajit Ray (like most people) - and now having travelled across the cinematic landscape of the country to some extent, and having seen some of the other world-class Indian directors - I'm still fixated with the man. If I were to name one Indian film that is the closest to me, it's Ray's Pratidwandi (The Adversary, 1971). But why - are there not more quintessentially "Indian" directors? (Mani Kaul?) Or even "Bengali" ones - like Ritwik Ghatak? Kaul's films draw upon all sorts of Indian arts in a way Ray's straight-faced realism does not. Ghatak's preferred style of acting is closer to jatra - or popular Bengali theatre - than the naturalism favoured by Ray. As is his use of grand melodrama - territory which Ray avoids as much as he can, his preferred tone being one of subdued emotion.

The answer which I've arrived at with much exploration and rationalization is this: the preference is simply a projection of my own personality (intuitive in retrospect, but... you know!). Avidly listening to Western Classical Music from a very young age, rejecting traditional religion, having an initial distaste for the sentimental aspects of the quintessential Bengali character - Ray made an outward journey from his home. He soaked in Western culture without feeling threatened by it, no doubt a result of an urban cosmopolitan upbringing. And then he sort of made the journey back home once he started with his painting course at Shantiniketan: discovering the rhythm of rural life, seeing traditional Indian art with new eyes.

Compare this with Ghatak's journey: born into pre-Partition Bangladesh with agriculture still not in decline, spending his childhood in a land of plenty, only to be ripped apart by a harsh reality and thrown into an urban maelstrom called Kolkata. A journey away from home, here too, but one undertaken without will. All of Ghatak's films - with the possible exception of Ajantrik - is therefore a pining for the home he'd never get back.

These trajectories matter because everyone - except those who are superhuman - looks for personal resonance in whatever they see, read, listen to, argue about et al. My own journey goes something like: ordinary pop culture devouring for about the first 17 years of my life, then a slowly growing appreciation of foreign cinema and rock music (Western!) and finally a search for roots - discovering and appreciating homegrown culture, primarily through artists like Ray (in cinema), Indian Ocean and Prasanna (in music) who have a foot each in both the home and the world (ghare-baaire).

Why do I feel the closest to Pratidwandi? In Siddhartha lies the closest portrayal of my own self in cinema - idealist, dreamer, pragmatist and someone doomed by character to see both sides of any question.

So the next time you're wondering aloud why I prefer the insider-outsider instead of the more authentic "Indian", you know it's a result of my own limitations. Only someone who has ventured outside and returned home with some ambiguity about rootlessness resonates with another in the same spot.

P.S.: Objectively speaking, if that can mean anything at all, there are directors, musicians, authors etc. whom I admire more from a somewhat neutral, detached vantage-point. But if you're talking about personal resonance, it is what it is.

P.P.S.: The Blogger GUI is called a dashboard, hence the title. No allusions to the band.