Raavan: Black, White and Gray

Ramayan has been telling generations after generations about the triumph of good over evil. History is written by the winner, and we forget that between black and white there is always gray. Raavan is an attempt to bring out this gray in the mythological tale, by placing it in a modern day scenario.

Beera (Abhishek) is loved by the people, feared by the people and wanted by the police. He lives in a beautiful rocky place where there are pretty carvings in the middle of a flowing river. Beera kidnaps Raghini (Aishwarya), SP Dev’ wife (Vikram) for revenge. The SP sets out to rescue the wife with inspector Hemant for company. An alcoholic, tree climbing forest officer Sanjeevni (Govinda) joins the rescue squad.
Meanwhile, Beera and Raghini develop a bond and Raghini discovers a human side to the monster as she hears his story.

The story progresses as black turns gray and white turns an even darker hue of gray.
The story wins when the audience wants Raavan to survive as opposed to Ram. But wait, the story takes a good 120 minutes to get to this point. The pace of the film is its weakness. It fails to grip the audience to the point of understanding what is going on and why.

Aishwarya Rai manages to look pretty and rain soaked, but, honestly she does a usual ‘aishwarya’ with bewildered looks, high pitched dialogue delivery and constant crying. Abhishek has done a great job, breaking out into maniacal laughter. Govinda is wonderful as the modern day Hanuman. I was surprised to see him hang by the trees and jump around with an innocent smile. Vikram is rather stiff as the SP, and at times, goes a bit overboard with underplay.Priyamani is a gorgeous curvy damsel, who plays Beera’s half-sister and a modern day Shurpanakha. Other than showing off her voluptuous mid-riff, she hasn’t got much to do.
What really makes the film worth the 2 odd hours is the cinematography. Although it’s always raining, the green, rocky valley is a delight to watch.

All in all, decent performances and great locales can only hold your attention for a while. If the story doesn’t progress at a pace it needs to, you find yourself shifting in your seat, waiting for your cellphone to catch network so that you can tweet while Aishwarya finishes sobbing and SP finishes yelling randomly.
I say: Avoid. I wish I wish I wish I could say otherwise.

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Some Observations About Relationships On & Off Twitter

I joined Twitter on 14th September 2008. I didn’t really think much of it. I randomly saw these messages from people. I stayed away.

‘Razzdino is now following you on twitter’

Suddenly, amongst those unknown people I was following, there was a face I knew. I started having twitter conversations and sort of started liking the platform. Soon enough, I found a few interesting people to follow.
I took my time to get to know the platform, which is how it should always be. In the last one year or so, I have got to know a lot of people, made some lovely friends. There’s always a flipside to it.

When you follow someone on twitter, you know the intimate details of their life. It’s almost like you peep into their heads. Yes, you know what they eat, who they hate, which film they’re watching. You know every bit about their life as long as they’re tweeting. You end up having random conversations at odd times too. However, in the offline world, you don’t get access to such details about a person and at such regular intervals unless you literally live with the person.

You love the conversations, you love reading their updates, so obviously, the next thing you do is add these people on facebook and on gtalk. No harm done. You’ve never met them, but you do feel a connection. But what happens when you meet them offline?

I have met almost a couple of hundred people off twitter. I think I have observed enough to say this. When people who follow each other online meet offline, they end up interacting like they know each other for eons. We all have masks online, so when these two people’s online masks do not match their real-life masks, it ends up making things awkward.

Some people are just as loud-mouthed as they are on twitter, some people are as quiet as they are active on twitter, some people are far cooler in real life than they appear on twitter and vice-versa. Meeting people offline can shatter your pre-conceived notions and bajao your expectations. I agree with Bombay Addict when he says, ‘I think at some point we start expecting people to behave in a certain way. I think those expectations become a burden. I’m ok with imperfect people. I like imperfect people. They’re like me. I don’t think I can live up to anyone’s expectations and I don’t think I want to. I will be inconsistent.

How many of us have the maturity to say this, least of all implement it? I don’t. But I am inconsistent, which brings me to my next point.

When you’re friends with someone via twitter, especially when the friendship came about quite quickly, there’s an immense pressure to be something you’re not. Friendships should evolve over a long period of time. The time gives you a chance to know the person for who they are, for the flaws that they have. It took me a long time to understand this that on twitter, you tend to share, reply politely and be the warmest person ever. There are chances that you’re not like that at all in the offline world. But someone who has managed to be friends with you via twitter, will always expect the niceties out of you. It’s not their fault. They’ve never seen your flaws.

I’ve had people throw tantrums because I had the time to attend tweetups but I didn’t have the time to socialize with them. This person had made friends with me via twitter and within a matter of weeks, she had decided that I was her best friend. When this tantrum was thrown my way in real life, obviously, I reacted the way I would in real life. She couldn’t relate to it because she didn’t know I had the ‘mind your own business’ side to me. Back then, I fumed. I really didn’t know why a person would expect me to be their best friend. Now, after the detox, I understand. She saw what I showed her and she wanted to continue to see that.

It is important to understand that relationships on twitter, however rosy they might seem, are relationships based on online personas. If you want them to be real, take it slow. I have a bunch of friends whom I have followed for years, I met them a few times and our friendship evolved slowly and steadily. These friends have lasted. Because we took our time.

Too close, too soon does NOT work.

Heirloom

Soft notes of the shehnai managed to penetrate through the scarlet walls. She heard a rustle of silk as she got up to walk towards the window. She saw the fiery orange of marigold petals that were being put into buckets and smiled. She looked at the banana leaves adorning the periphery of the backyard. The house, she imagines, looked happy.  

She should have had her hair braided and face painted by now. She sat down by the dressing table. She didn’t know where to begin. Most girls begin with trying on their mother’s jewelry. She thought. Her mother’s jewelry had been locked away in her father’s room. She managed to slide the sparkling bangles over her slender wrist… One by one, she slipped on a piece of jewelry, not looking in the mirror. And then she saw them. She had last seen them on her mother, when she was leaving.

Every pearl had glistened that day… and the stones set in gold caught every ray of the sun as they had sparkled. She remembered how every two seconds her mother’s dainty fingers tucked a strand of hair behind the ear and then stopped to touch the earring as she admired the beauty they brought to her face. Her mother had been sitting in front of a mirror, just like she was now.

She picked up the earrings and slipped them on. Her kajal laden eyes, tightly shut as the stem of the earring was fixed in place with a gold clasp, her lips quivered slightly. They always did, when she was in pain. But she knew this pain was not physical.

With great hesitation she opened her eyes. She looked exactly like her mother did. She looked like a spitting image of her mother; the last image of her mother. She couldn’t bear it. She slipped the earrings out and left them on the green silk pouch that had contained them for 20 years. They belonged to that pouch.

A sudden knock at her door startled her. It was her aunt.

“Sonali, are you ready?” Sonali. Her mother had picked her name. Her father never liked the name but he had had little say around her mother. She opened the door.

“Yes, I am…” she said hesitantly.

“Why aren’t you wearing any earrings?” Her aunt tugged lightly at her bare earlobes.

“No need,” she said as she walked back to the dressing table.

The earrings weren’t an heirloom to be worn on the day you start a new relationship. Her mother had worn them, as she decided to walk out on a marriage and a daughter.

“Your father went through a lot to make sure he got those earrings back. They were our mother’s.”

Sonali glared at her aunt angrily. She didn’t need another painful reminder of her parents’ divorce. After all, the divorce had made it tough for Sonali to accept new relationships. She didn’t need to know that every single piece of jewelry she wore on her wedding day was there as a result of a bitter divorce and a bitter lawsuit. She abhorred bitterness and she abhorred the memory that brought it on. She walked out of the room. Far far far away from the earrings. 

Photograph by: Kaurwakee: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaurwakee/

Posted via email from Wordplay

Stranger Than Fiction, Closer To Reality

When I was a kid, I believed that the life we lead was actually someone else’s dream. The bad things would all end when they woke up and that none of the bad things were real. As a child, someone else always makes your decisions and you are pretty much happy that someone else steers the car for you. When you want to take control of your life, you know you’re growing up. That comforting thought, the ability to think someone else was dreaming my life for me, started to annoy me as I started growing up.

Then I started to think of myself as the leading lady of a film that was my life. I knew that no matter what mistakes I made, no matter how many times my heart broke and no matter how many times I failed, I would get up and make things right. It worked for me. It still does. The narrative of my life happens in my head, in my voice and most of the times this voice comes out as an affirmation. This narrative is a reminder that this is my life and that I am the creator of whatever happens in it.

What if I wake up and an alien voice starts narrating my life?

It would completely freak me out, despite the bizarre habit of narrating my own life in my head. So it comes as no surprise that Harold Crick, an IRS auditor gets completely psyched when he starts hearing the narrative of his life in a woman’s voice.

Stranger Than Fiction (2006) is the story of Harold Crick, who hears his life being narrated to him and then when the narration stops, Harold tries to figure out what lies ahead of him. Harold Crick is forced to break out of the monotony of his life and rediscover what genre his story falls under. Harold is auditing a deliberate tax evader, Ana Pascal. As he goes through her tax history, Harold starts to realise that he is attracted to Ana. If it weren’t for the narrative, Harold would have never noticed how he felt. I couldn’t help but wonder, how many times, we overlook what we really feel towards a thing or a person and go on to do what we think is right or what we think fits into our job description. Personally, every time I pass a shoe store, it would be cool to have a voice say, ‘She was attracted to the luminous silver sandals and the fiery red peep-toes. She found herself being pulled into the store to buy them, but as she tried the shoes on and walked to a mirror, she realised that she didn’t need them. They looked fabulous but the truth was that she was going to feel terribly guilty about buying them. Did she want to feel that guilty?’ Yes, a narrative can make you see things the way they are and no, you can’t suppress that voice.

It’s interesting to see Harold break out of his routine to live his life. The quest to find the genre of his life story becomes his life story. And he surrenders to the narrative of his life and prepares to embrace a tragic death because without the death, the narrative of his life would sound bland.  Irony.