Sunday, July 31, 2005

'house of flying daggers'

the men
their muse

i wonder.. aren’t the chinese sick of the way they are portrayed on screen by their so-called auteurs? disgustingly beautiful, poised perpetually for a dance like movement in mid air kicking someone in the head or avoiding a flying arrow or dagger; riding horses, making love hollywood style (which means very gracefully), fighting and dying in landscapes that look as airbrushed as a models hair in a shampoo ad. do things really move in slow motion suddenly when thrown from someone’s hand in higher latitudes? and is everyone in china called an element on nature and speaks as if it were them. “the wind stops for no one” “flowers grow better in the wild” why don’t they just say what they want to straight? chicken chilly dry, i say.. that’s what i want. not very poetic i admit but at least fleshy, greasy and very tasty, unlike the insipid delicacy so unimaginative and formulaic in this extremely overrated film. a predictable love triangle perfect for western tastes and preconceived, non-threatening ideas of chineseness, i guess.. understated anemic apolitical elegance.. but i prefer my food with a little more substance and spice like indian chinese food from uncles corner.

and meanwhile the rain outside just does not seem to want to stop. will, wont there be college tomorrow.. the tv says that schools are closed tomorrow and tuesday. do we qualify as a school ? if only we were the kamla raheja school for architecture and environmental studies and and not an institute!

writers block

it is always more difficult to end a new post to the blog than it is to begin it. the general arc of the narrative gets extremely tough to resolve. the urge for a well paced build up or a climactic denouement puts too much pressure on me and i find myself wondering where a particular piece is going. i find this aspect to writing to be very trying. also i hate reading what i write a week from when i have written it. it always seems under or over written, too silly or too pompous. i am embarrassed by who i was when i was writing the particular piece i am re-reading. how do professional writers manage? i cant even handle my little experiments here.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

the water rose till here..

3'- 8" to be exact.. when it was still. with the waves up to the place i am pointing to in the other photograph on saurabh's painting.

‘navrang’ . ‘bad education’ . ‘sideways’ . ‘before sunset’ . ‘dogville’

being at home for the past three days i have seen five films. here is a recap of them.


there is a case to be made for a straight faced voluptuous melodrama. the sincerity of belief in the form can lead to great cinema. in ‘navrang’ some wimp called mahipal plays a poet who creates an alter ego as a muse of his rather frigid wife who inspires wonderful poetry in him. the wife of course is shantarams own muse sandhya. this strange animalistic woman cant act, is quite, how should i put it, ‘unconventional’ looking and has no sense of rhythmn or grace when she dances. in spite of that she is a truly fascinating persona on screen and surprisingly it is quite easy to believe that mad brilliant images could be inspired by her.. enormous bells with apsaras on them, a half man - half woman holi dance, colored water spewing out of a womans body.. its all quite outrageous and thoroughly enjoyable. when this excessiveness is taken as a given, i could not help but be moved by the film, especially the melodramatic end. the music is amazing and the images unforgettable. ok, mukul- i agree.. the man was a genius.. perhaps, one of the insane type..

‘bad education’

i think the darkest of all the pedro almodovar films i have seen. with the usual cast of characters that walk the fringes of what constitutes the so called normal- actors, film directors, gay men, cross dressers.. ‘bad education’ tells the story of a revenge drama and a love/lust story that paints a dark and disturbing portrait of human nature.
when his childhood sweetheart ignacio arrives at his office with the story of their childhood romance which was rudely interrupted by the jealousies of the priest who also loved the delicate ignacio, movie director enrique is smitten by the man and his fond memories of the love. it turns out later that the man pretending to be ignacio is actually his beautiful brother juan (played by gael garcia bernal- who also made an exquisite che guevara in ‘the motorcycle diaries’) and then the characters are involved in convoluted sexual games and deceptions. the real story of what happened to ignacio is told later by the priest who once raped him and left me with this bitter taste in my mouth.
i am not sure whether this transformation into a fairly serious film maker from the earlier madness of ‘women on the verge of a nervous breakdown’ of ‘matador’ or even the melodrama of ‘all about my mother’ is something that i think is better or worse. i did not like ‘talk to her’ much and ‘bad education’ i did. but i remember there was a fantastic energy in the early films which used to exhilarate and entertain me. that did not happen with this film.


i had given up on oscar nominated films after watching the inflated ‘the avaiator’. the only reason i thought that ‘sideways’ would be better was because it came from and independent film maker and got all this hype as being the best american film last year. ok, so.. two men in their middle ages decide to take a week out in wine country, california before the marriage of one of them whose only intention is to get laid before his wedding.
three classic american formulas for films are rolled into one film here- a road movie, a buddy movie and a sex comedy, except that the characters are at least 15 years too old. its predictable- as any piece of fluff should be, and pretty well written. its got this ‘alternative’ language thing going where the faces are unfamiliar and the dialogue is clever and witty. ‘pleasant diversion’ is what i thought.. not bad for a rainy evening with chicken chili dry on the side..

‘before sunset’

‘before sunrise’ was one of my favorite films when i was in my early twenties. a frothy, intelligent romance where american boy meets french girl in pretty european town and they talk all night and promise to meet each other nine months later- same place- same time.
they don’t and meet instead 9 years later in ‘before sunset’ in paris when one of them is a married author and the other an environmentalist. the conversation continues as if it had never stopped and we watch it in real time falling in love with the two of them all over again. julie delpy is beautiful and ethan hawke charming. though the topics for the conversation have changed the chemistry between the two burns up the screen. its all very beautiful and very romantic- the casual banter, the streets of paris, the seine in the evening, sunlight caught in their hair.. lovely.


if i had to choose the best from the films i saw this week- this would be it- easily. ‘nicole kidman plays grace who running away form gangsters ends up in the small town of dogville where the good people give her shelter and hide her from the mob and the police. grace is grateful for this generosity but soon comes to realize that the price they are extracting from her for it. she is abused, raped, enslaved – for her own good and suffers through it all – forgiving. at the end of the film she is betrayed by the townspeople and the man who claims to love her to the mob she was escaping from. grace has her revenge at the end.
told through nine chapters and one prologue, lars von trier uses what i learnt were ‘brechtian’ techniques to distance the audience from associating with the characters emotionally. a clipped voice over, a town that is completely drawn out on the floor of a huge set, were used to keep up analytical and rational through the entire drama. righteousness and high minded morality are exposed for the shams that they are. everyone acts from a purely selfish motive pretending otherwise, except for grace who in spite of being the perpetual victim suffers and forgives them until the end.
the movie has been criticized for its misanthropy and its anti-americanism- both of which are not necessarily untrue in this case. the movie is scathing about the hypocrisy of people and of any kind of ‘value system’ that we use to define good and bad - especially the ‘family values’ of right wing conservatives that seems to be the current direction of american morality. however, besides iraq and the gay marriage controversy and other american associations i could also read the film from the puritanical morality of our own right wing.. the dance bar ban, the rss version of ‘indian culture’..

Friday, July 29, 2005


its friday.. its been three days of an emotional rollercoaster since the big rains hit on tuesday afternoon. i am sure everyone has heard all the war stories that have been doing the rounds since that day.. here is my contribution for all that it is worth.

thoug it has been very tough indeed- especially trying to come to terms with the devastation of the office (more on that later) i must admit that i am luckier than some of the other unfortunates who have lost people they love in the landslides or are missing washed away in the rivers that flowed in place of the streets or whose entire homes no longer exist.

it is one thing to apprehend these things conceptually in the abstract space of the the television screen, but quite another thing to see the aftermath on the streets in the morning after. a landscape of abandoned cars left on the streets, trees uprooted, dirt everywhere and plastic bags of every description caught in fences, branches..

kaifi azmi park near college completely destroyed

anyways my own story begins on tuesday when we were at pauls’ table discussing the ‘urban flashes’ workshop. it was three o clock and the rains outside looked ominous enough for sharmishta to crack a joke about having dinner at college. we brushed it aside of course, but as i started driving to the office i realized that it was actually much worse than i had imagined.

both access roads to the office were completely flooded and i needed to get home as soon as i could. after getting caught in a jam at fame adlabs, i deciced to try the highway and was caught for two hours on juhu versova link road in a completely stationary jam. the stories that were coming down from the junction up ahead were that there was chest high water there and the traffic would not move until next morning. so i turned around and went to rahuls house where i finally spent the night alone with no electricity and only the few snacks that they had at home for food.

by that time the initial anxiety had given way to a mad humor that was all over the streets. people were in terrific moods and joking away about their plight.

it was the same the next day when i tried to get out of four bungalows by driving through 4 feet of water in the market street. the car of course stopped. and i had to push it through the water to the nearest junction where i saw that every street out of there was completely flooded except one going towards lokhandwala. my car of course would not start so i went back to rahuls house and rested there for another hour before attempting to get back.

four bungalows market street

my car drove through this - almost..

having trudged back and forth through the water four times, the car finally started (jai maruti zen!) and i managed to get back to borivili in another 2 hours. on the way i gave a ride to two snazziliy dressed soaked gujarati kids who were on their way back walking all the way from churchgate to kandivili.

through all this the phone lines were completely dead and i could not talk to anyone. somehow i had learnt that mom was at usha maushis at powai and dad was spending the night at kurla itself. luckily mukul was at home and had not ventured out though his brother had got himself caught at thane. the last i heard from amit was when he was walking in churchgate the previous day and i was was quite worried about him.

when i got home my parents were already there, dad having walked all the way from vidyavihar to marol, and mom having changed three buses. mom had a cool story, the bus that she got into had another woman passenger who excitedly was calling up her friends to tell them that the buses had started plying, when the conductor shouted at her,” don’t go around telling people lies! this bus started yesterday!”

the next day i got a call from amit that the office was a total disaster. he was almost crying over the phone. saurabh, me and mukul got to andheri as soon as we could- and amit was right. it was a truly awful experience walking into the space into which we had spent so much of our time and care and watch it in the state it was. from the marks on the wall there had been at least 5 feet of water inside the office, which meant that all the computers, the refrigerator, the furniture, the furnishings- everything- absolutely everything was completely destroyed. there was almost nothing salvageable. a layer of brown mud was all over everything. though at that time i was trying to merely manage the disaster- a wave of sadness hit me hard later. it was not so much the money that we had spent on it, but the complete decimation of a concept that i found extremely tough to swallow. it just makes it so hard to be able to reconstruct everything again.

anyways, we cleaned up as much as we could. the monitors were taken to amits place for drying and the cpus we took to anands office in borivili east hoping that at least the data (all my music- 40 gb of it- my life) could be salvaged.

the shocking state of the office

brown slime all over the waiting area

the long arduous process of cleaning begins

amit and saurabh standing outside the office with all the stuff from within

saurabh in mukuls bac seat with our precious computers on the way to anands office

the slum along dahisar river- complete devastation

people watching the state of the slum from the flyover above

on the way back we came via the slum along the dahisar river and what i saw there was devastating. food grain on the streets, entire houses collapsed, people sitting in homes that once were- all their belongings in disarray. i got home very disturbed and was further annoyed when the electricity went. was in a very very black mood all day and spent the night at mukuls.

today morning at the insistence of paul i got to college, in spite of knowing that there would be absolutely no one there. 4 faculty members and 9 students- a completely pointless exercise that trip turned out to be. got home and decided that i was going to watch movies all day and i did. more about them later, i guess.

its been a strange few days. disasters bring out the worst and the best in people. i think all of us saw people in panic, anxiety.. people going out of their way to help others.. or not.. laughing away at the ridiculous nature of it all.. or crying at the state of their homes. i think it is only once the storm has gone that i am actually able to feel the real impact on the streets. i heard all the stories everyone told me- surreal things they saw- roads turning into rivers, people being washed away, hundreds of cars with their lights on under water, i am numb with these tales that and the images.

everyone is taking about how amazing it is that the city is back on its feet the next day. i guess that it is admirable, though i am sick of the ‘spirit of mumbai’ talk.. its become such a cliché.. i just hope that everyone is able to put this behind them quickly.. amit says we must- right now!.. i am giving myself inspirational speeches like american coaches in locker rooms.. i am hoping they work.. but right now i am also hoping that everyone i know is safe and dry..

Monday, July 25, 2005

'legend of suram fortress' / 'ashik kerib'

i don’t know whether you guys remember ‘shadows of forgotten ancestors’ that i had written about in my post on our pune trip. sergei paradzanov was the director and i loved the film so much that i was very excited that i got to see this two movie dvd yesterday with his last two films. both of these were as usual armenian/ georgian folk tales that were told through in unusually theatrical way. lavishly staged they told stories of war, betrayal and love in a completely original way. myths and histories were interwoven through a simple tale told through surreal episodes, amazing visuals, exotic folk music and dream like sets.

the storylines: ‘the legend of suram forteress’ was about the impossible-to-build surami fortress in georgia. a fortune teller prophesizes that the fortress will only stand if the beautiful blue eyed son of the lover who abandoned her is buried in its walls. he sacrifices his life for the security of the country and georgia is saved.

‘ashik kerib’- dedicated to andrei tarkovsky- the movie follows the travails of a poor minstrel who has left his beloved waiting for him for a thousand days and a thousand nights, hoping to earn enough money so that he can marry her. on his travels he suffers many injustices and is imprisoned and even once murdered until a white saint on a white horse sends him back home.

of the two ‘ashik kerib’ was truly amazing. to me it seemed that through the character and story of ashik kerib pardzanov was referring to his own imprisonment in siberia by the soviet government for 15 years under charges of homosexuality and/or defying the official party line.

perhaps these were the chains that were around ashiks chest that did not allow him to play for the sultan in his durbar. was the old man who handed ashik his new lute supposed to be tarkovsky? was the dove offered to the camera at the end an offering to him?

would such films ever be made again with the dissolution of state funding for cinema as the ‘market’ never will venture this far into the experimental? is real art cinema then dead?

saturday / sunday: an event list

dropped mom at the aiport (6.45) she was on her way to hyderabad to meet everyone after kamal aai’s death.

then at the office i began preparing the base work for the haji ali street furniture drawings. (7.00)

college discussing delhi development control regulations with paul and sharmishta (8.00)

in my structures of knowledge elective we discussed existentialism reading sartre ‘being and nothingness’. (9.30)

sketches for haji ali project while talking to many students about vasai fort (11.00)

got to know that saurabh, prajnya and harsh are the new fellows. (1.00). one seat is vacant for a ‘good’ technology paper.

bindu sujeesh at ghatkopar- they were late as ususal. the frame wall is half way up. had a debate on the right laminate. (2.45)

alumni meet at college. extremely grave and serious. was less of a party than i thought it would be. amit’s class most represented followed by ateyas and ninads. dipal, atrey and namita from the first batch i taught and schin, niket and tapan from the second. prasad, rupali, kaiwan,also there. only sonals class and nilesh / rohit / yogita’s class not represented at all. good to see chitra again after a really long time. she is looking real good. (4.00- 7.00)

at the office i was trying to finish the haji ali work when saurabh and amit began a discussion on their pan for bhopal. i had serious problems with their design and told them so. a long debate started on the appropriate response with saurbah accusing me of playing both sides of an argument. what to do- i am libran.. (7.00-9.30)

mukul and me went to vikram doctors party in bandra. alok was there too (naturally) and so were georgina and rajat.did not know any one else and was too tired by the long day to mingle. mukul had no such trouble and was happily chatting with the eclectic mix of people that vikram had called. film maker, designer, writers, architect, researchers, married, single, gay, straight.. i sat in a corner nursing the drink alok had made and made small talk with dhania from nid (sp?) who knew sachin boytoy and siddharth from nid now at idc. was completely exhausted by the end of the party and wanted to leave but was held back when a sari-clad bengali guest at the party sarted singing farida khanum and simon and garfunkel.

the next morning i finally managed to finish the haji ali presentation by 11.00 and left for bandra with mukul to drop it at abha's place- after which we went shopping for clothes. i was so out of shirts that it was getting embarassing. bought one at benneton and two at cotton world.

afternoon and evening saw those amazing paradzhanov films - 'ashik kerib' and 'legend of suram fortress'. more about them later..

Friday, July 22, 2005

meetings and the appearance of democratic consensus

a meeting at jj regarding the way in which external juries should assess the work of different colleges. paul, kaiwan, tatke, ainsley and me dutifully took part in an ‘open’ discussion as to the appropriate methodology. i love this idea of democratic consensus. we protested as much as we could to the decisions being made and we were heard- but then afterwards they went ahead and did what they wanted to anyway.. somehow with our signatures validating it. now we cant even say that we did not have a chance to voice our opinion. what an amazing tactic. i must learn more.

postscript: the week after sonal has left (she is right now on her way to leh) has been a mad rush of meetings both in college and outside college- so many things.. the above mentioned was just another one. the lunch afterwards at grant hotel opposite jj was highly recommended but completely ordinary before another meeting with mr chaini afterwards at y b chavan center at nariman point.

'maine pyaar kyun kiya'

i generally really like david dhavan films. they are mad, ridiculous and completely off on their own trip outside any kind of rules of logic. this madness is thoroughly enjoyable and govinda does it best.

salman khan was also not tooo bad in ‘judwaa’, so i thought maine pyaar kyu kiya’ would be, if not fabulous, at least funny in parts. unfortunately david dhavan seems to have completely mellowed down his act. everything looks airbrushed and well finished. that particular edginess that used to grate on many peoples nerves but i thought absolutely brilliant seems to have been replaced with a fluffy blandness- that makes you smile sometimes- but very rarely laugh. the nonsense though was there sometimes like the soundtrack doing its crazy ‘doctor doctor’ or ‘that naughty naughty pyaare’, or sohail khans ridiculous antics.. there were at the most three great one liners in the film and that is measly for a david dhavan film.

salman khan looks like he is sleepwalking through the film, katrina kaif is adorable as the innocent waif, but sushmita sen is just radiant. an amazing screen presence, a beautiful intelligent aura- she was the ‘striaght man’ around whom the humour was supposed to happen, but the film just could nto rise beyond being a fairly pleasant humdrum piece of fluff leaving her stranded in the middle of a bore.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


robert bresson’s central character in ‘mouchette’ is a young girl living in rural france in desperate circumstances. while her mother is dying, she is constantly abused by her father, and seen as strange and eccentric by the rest of the village. she is teased and taunted by the boys in her neighborhood and the girls in her class at school. still she is never presented as the docile recipient of this abuse. she is no saint- trying to give back just as much as she receives. the movie follows her through one day of her life during which circumstances collude in a peculiar way leading to her eventual suicide.

absolutely spare and elegant this story was told through minimal means. the dialogue and the acting was precise and underplayed with this kind of strange emptiness throughout. somewhere there seemed to me to be this clear cynicism about all the institutions that we take as the basis for society through the eyes of the mouchette- the perpetual outsider through the violence both explicit and implicit in the film.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

typology study :the small town fixer.

men on motorcycles, terrycot shirt and pleated pants in small towns all over the country create their own opportunities away from traditionally defined safe ‘careers’. they work as traders, contractors, businessmen, brokers- shifting between professional disciplines with ease and élan. the real skill that they have is an amazing entrepreneurial spirit, a willingness to work and an amazing knowledge of the networks that keep a small town running and a method to make these networks work. after all these sub-district centers, pit stops on major highways and market towns run on connections and camaraderie. it matters who you are and where you come from. your entire family history is present with you wherever you are whatever you are doing.

they are amazing people these small town fixers. they work as jovial, approachable mediators in between the complex machinations of a small town and the demands for the simple life outside the metropolis. we met some of them in the towns on the mumbai-nasik highway at vasind and shahpur; when amit and me went with mr ganesh to the property he bought near shahpur.

in the city a paper in a bureaucracy has a life of its own. it will find its way to the right place provided with the right amount of monetary fuel. in a small town, ganesh told me, the paper has to be associated with a face and a life story for it to go through.

the entire process was managed and choreographed by men like sandeep patil, prakash agarwal, milind gujarathi, lubricating the right sets of hands, pointing us in the right direction, helping us contact different people for different kinds of work- all merely for a small commission.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


2046 is a time and a place in a strange unattainable future where the desires of our memories are satisfied. it is also a hotel room through which women enter the life of a sleazy journalist who unsuccessfully attempts to satisfy his one true love through affairs with different women.

highly stylized- in fact often claustrophobically so- screens split in two halves, lush saturated colors, terribly beautiful women and a storyline that jumps back and forth through reality and imagination. wong kar wai’s sequel to ‘ in the mood for love’ is self consciously epic and dreamlike.

for me it falls apart when the dream is analyzed using rather trite pop psychology, or when the sponsors logo wafts in and out of the futuristic city shots and stays on distastefully like an emblem through the entire closing titles (is he being cynical- or just a slave to the system).

when the film was shown at cannes – it seems many people complained about its unintelligible structure and theme. so i guess in the new cut all ambiguity is foregone with a voiceover that leaves almost nothing to the imagination.

somewhere vaguely it reminded me of alain resnais’ ‘last year at marienbad’ which was so brilliant and played with similar themes (perhaps). enigmatic and surreal, it left so many possibilities for interpretation. 2046 almost got there- but did not.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

kamal aaji

kamal aaji- kamaltai kirloskar passed away last week at the age of 87.

she was a role model for all of us in the family- a doctor who ran a large gynaecological hospital in the heart of hyderabad, she was brilliant, dedicated, hard working, progressive, cultured.. she was working 6 hours a day until just a few months back and loved to travel as much as she could.

the photograph above is a snap of her and my grandfather (her brother) when young. what beautiful people! the kind of people we hope we can be.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

town landmark, superman, new media- aar paar, meetings, eli

a working week ends. the 'town landmark' project is complete. shall upload an image when i can- along with the text. saurabh has painted a beautiful image for the sheet, and it all looks rather joyous and happy.

superman has landed in the office. sonal got these really well made action figures that dont do much but twist at the waist. batman and superman- saurabh took the dark knight leaving the man of steel behind.

in college, 'comet media' - chandita mukherjee wanted to see whether we would be interested in a 'new media' institute affiliated to the institution. what 'new media' is and how there can be an institute based on a technique rather than a discipline was something that confused me.
this new media thing continued on thursday and friday when shilpa gupta installed the 'aar paar' exhibition in college. two plasma screen that looped alternate clips of video art from pakistan and india, including shilpa's "blame", nalini's "unity in diversity" which was shot by mukul and tejal shahs work. in the q&a that followed neha asked what exactly was the difference between film making and video art- and i thought that it was a good question. i was thinking about madhu's new films.

the question and answer session over tea with shilpa

second year kids watching the 'aar paar' exhibition

meanwhile in college there is a meeting festival- whether that is for the caa inspection, thesis, general talk, design cell... the list goes on. i thin i spend most of the time in my life talking. my mouth aches just thinking about it.

.. and eli called from the us after a long time. i was driving to school and had to stop on the side of the highway to speak to her. elisabeth paul (now matthew) is one of my close friends from architecture school in india. i remember we could speak for hours and hours straight over the phone after we had already spent an entire day together in college. after she got married she moved to bangalore and now lives in the us with husband and daughter. it was after a really long time that i was talking to her and she told me that they were contemplating moving back to india - specifically mumbai- soon. that is going to be fun.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

fire station

i must admit to being unreasonably proud of the fire station (still being completed) in spite of the grief it has given us.

our first building.. sonal, amit and me.. the most painful clients and an unbelievable list of bloodsucking consultants.. still the building turned out quite all right.

all red, sharp and glitzy. a flashy new entrance gateway piece for the refinery. the grand stair that leads to the first floor is very welcoming and the incredibly flat rear façade looks great against the huge rain trees.

of course so many of our details and suggestions were skipped like the white for the exposed walls, the pointy corner detail that we had decided that were finally chamfered, the chajja that they got wrong and then refused to cut, the staircase block cladding joinery detail... the list goes on.. courtesy the convoluted workings of a public sector project- and it could have been so much better.. next time..

here some photos- though i am not allowed to take snaps because of security reasons.. these were stolen from the outside main entrance.

Monday, July 11, 2005

weekend report- crowded public space

not much to say except for 'hawaiian shack' on saturday night and the mad malling yesterday.

went dancing after a really long time saturday night. reminded me of the times a few years back before marraige and the us broke the group up into splinters. ranjit in his hat, sonal who is still in bombay for a week, meghana without ashish, amit with tejas, nishesh and abhidnya, rahul and sushma, and me met at this ridiculously crowded nightclub in bandra 'hawaiian shack'. retro music, very smoky.. 'mustang sally' really rocked, so did, would you believe 'i wanna dance with somebody..' many more songs from my teenage years.

naturally we knew all the words and screamed them out while we were being jostled from side to side as we stood in the only open space near the door to the loo. meanwhile ranjit got sloshed as a random woman poured vodka down his throat while she danced on the bar, and one gorgeous woman winked at me while dancing and my night was made.

yesterday mom, dad, sonal and me went malling at inorbit- inarguably the best mall in the western suburbs... what happens at these places on sunday evenings is unbelievable- it was crazily crowded.people of all descriptions just walking up and down the corridors- hanging around, watching, browsing, buying. we went to buy clothes and could not find much worth spening money on. sonal and me looked around and notticed that actually people dress pretty awfully so it is tough finding good clothes.

'raghuleela' is the new mall in kandivili and was on our way back home. there were three shops open in there and still there was a half hour wait for parking. a blue lighted floor and red and yellow strips on the wall. tacky, loud, pointless and very very distrubing. we all wanted to scream and get out as quickly as we could... and unfortunately these are the only real public spaces in the western suburbs. madness.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


the great thing about the godfather for me was always the fact that we saw the violence of the mob from the point of view of the 'innocents' of the family. the women and the children… and al pacino. gradually as the film progresses and al pacino becomes more and more implicated in the business we see ourselves torn into two, watching this corruption from the sidelines with diane keaton and submitting ourselves to the inevitable brutality that is the nature of the business. the film was always for me a film about a family- its value systems, its internal tensions, rather than the mafia. being part of ‘the mob’ was just a job.

instead ‘sarkar’ focuses on ‘a savior of the masses’ modeled on bal thackerey and his sons kk and abhishek as they fight a new emerging group of gangsters in the city. everyone was surprised that the sena “supremo” let the film pass so easily. it was obvious that he would once we had seen the film because it makes him out to be some kind of god figure who is above the law, incredible upright, not at all corrupt and who uses violence only to solve social ills that formal legal systems are unable to; and we all know how inaccurate a portrait that is.

the ambiguity of who can be called ‘guilty’ or ‘innocent’ when dispensing power so arbitrarily- in fact entire discourse possible on the arbitrariness of dispensing justice- within or outside the legal system was missing. instead ‘sarkar’ became a 'good' gangster vs 'bad' gangster flick, playing it safe and ruffling no feathers. all that grit and intensity of the promos went on interminably through the film as fancy photography and a really loud background score. the acting was good enough, the film was well enough made… rgv can now do this in his sleep.. but what would have mad it out to be better was if he was willing to explore some of the complexity of the psychology of the individuals and their relationships.

after ‘naach’- which was a much superior film- this was very disappointing- and actually a little angering because it was so very terrified an approach.

some images from the past few days

tuesday- kausik and amisha meeting for the first year project.

wednesday- an aerial view of south mumbai at the udri office- great photo. the circle at the right is horniman circle with the town hall.

thursday- after the meeting bindu, sujeesh at bandstand

mukul at bandstand

waiting for 'sarkar' to begin at the banal lobby at globus.

the ceiling at hotel shringar at midc, andheri at 10 at night, mukul had to 'tele-cine' some of the rushes for madhu's film at 'prasad'.

mukul in the studio at 'prasad'.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

happy birthday shyam

shyam and me at my house- this photo must have been taken when we were both in junior college- him at elphinstone and me in nearby kc.

shyam and me have known each other since the fifth standard i think when we both discovered our common love for hardy boys, agatha christie and p g wodehouse. our friendship started with an innocuous exchange of books and its been decades now that we know each other.

he is now in the states- married with child.. its his birthday today- the 7th of july..
happy birthday love! and hope to see you soon..

shyam and me on the old bombay-pune highway during our attempts at joining engineering college after our 12th there.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

architecture and the search for the authentic man

this is a stream of consciousness tirade emerging out of a general sense of frustration with ideas regarding architectural thought. i need to think this through.. but here goes the first stab..

the regionalism debate is dead. it died of its own hand when a search for ‘roots’ found them in the aestheticised sepia tinted villages of rajasthan and the light and shadow that dappled the step wells of gujarat. it was here that the real india lay- so it would seem.. waiting to be discovered by the connoisseur- the true spiritual center of a nation where men rise up into poetic trances finding their true selves. the regionalism debate has run its ground with its dismissal of everyday life and its systems of creating meaning in favour for a more ‘real’ authentic man.

this may seem a throwback to the drug addled sixties manufactured “india” that was so hungrily consumed by a western youth hungry for some neatly packed spirituality. it was this that we gave them.. beads, turbans, mantras, yoga and more sanskrit words in italics. great old men in flowing white beards spoke in hushed whispers riddles that were so profound. this version of india gave us pride, made our identity and made us some money.

it is this india that i consumed as a student of architecture looking at the works of the apprentices of great masters. an architecture that was to be learnt firmly in the guru shishya parampara- another throwback to our ‘indian culture’ that would seem to be right wing regressive if only the proponents did not claim it to have read marx.

it is an architecture that believes in essences. true light on truer material and a master to show you its life changing beauty. in these spaces man is supposed to leave their bodies behind and connect with a deeper more whole non-human experience. the urge of the work is to uplift- not to root. it is this universal light on surface that has become the norm for architecture around the world searching deeper for what unites us and distrustful of what makes us unique.

this distrust has even found its way into a general suspicion of language. words are considered to be dissimulators- obstacles in the journey for us to find our true selves- as if that self is removed from our everyday experience as human beings. this is an architecture in the service of the spiritual and the religious. churches, temples of learning indulge themselves in the urge to lift us beyond ourselves. the ordinary has no place in this discourse. great men shall show us the real way- away from our real selves.

it is no wonder then than the blank empty spaces of minimalism have turned out to be so evocative for architects with their emphasis on pure texture, light and shadow. they transcend the complicated everyday and bring universal essences alive. but do we live in universal essences? do we desire to live in them? if either of these were true perhaps architectural discourse would not be as meaningless as it seems today.

i remember the sarcasm of ‘punjabi baroque’ when i had first read it and mistaken it for a case for everyday people and their desires as being relevant for architecture. that was until i got to the high moral posturing towards the end that scoffed at everybody who attempted to create ‘dream homes’ inspired by the vague assembly of images that constitutes the popular imagination of being “classy”. i was so disappointed by that. disappointed by the cultural snobbishness that was inherent in the position so evangelically anti-image.

to this culture images are evil.. they are not ‘true’. there is a deeper self to be explored (“beautiful from the inside”) . that is where a cultural gap exists. a generational gap.. madhushree said- "for us images are grammar- for the young they are language”

with images being the new language of world culture, and their ability to be a completely new trans-national system of communication, our denial of the language of image leaves us on the outside screaming as the world spirals out of our control.

i don’t know what- but something is missing.. i need a new lens to see.. a framework to understand.. i need to be able to formulate my thoughts.. i need to know why i currently prefer alvar aalto over louis kahn, ralph erskine over tadao ando, rem koolhas over peter eisenman, christopher alexander over rob krier.

i need a new manifesto.

Monday, July 04, 2005

war of the worlds

it is unfortunate that the tricks of the trade of quintessentially speilbergian film making are so popular. techniques and moves that he made so terrifying/ fascinating/ annnoying in so many of his previous films seem rehashed in lite mode in 'war of the worlds'. there are fragments of so many armageddon and creature films made by him and by his hollywood contemporaries found all over the place- that i almost wished it was a parody of them- except that it took itself so seriously. 'anaconda' meets 'independence day' meets 'signs' meets 'mars attacks' meets 'ai' meets..

that’s not to say that there weren’t images that were absolutely stunning. the bodies in the river, the first huge tetrapod scene, the special effects.... still largely disappointing finally- just because it could have been so much better. the cop-out end did not help.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


a rock concert in many cities around the world to forgive third world debt with its usual assortment of left wing liberal ancient dinosaurs and new age misty eyed pip-squeaks (sonal’s words) elton john, duran duran, ubiquitous u2, rem, coldplay, green day, bryan adams and bjork. bjork must be my new madonna. the real queen.

almost every rock band worth their salt have at least one song about “the human condition”.. bjork- “all is full of love”, u2 “beautiful day”, rem “everybody hurts”.. predictably they all sang these well worn classics while telling us to sign the pledge to rid the third world debt in slickly produced filler messages.
bill gates sponsored power pop politics and universal love.
bob geldof for the nobel peace prize-- sign the pledge!

Friday, July 01, 2005

after a long time away- work.

college can be too stressful sometimes for someone trying to recover from illnesses. too many people to talk to , too many people to explain the current and past state of my health thanks to everyone who cared so much- but it was tiring talking…

and so much of both my jobs consist of wonder that i am so annoyingly “loquacious” (from amits gre wordlist which he pointedly aimed at me while we were lounging on the canteen parapet)

and then my car battery died because i left the lights on, and our evening meeting took forever to get started with bindu and sujeesh.

my temper was at its worst all day. i fired mom in morning, amit at the office, dad and sonal at home.. sorry everybody…i am truly stupid today.. i think i should be silent now and watch men’s tennis on tv to calm me down. wimbledon.

and ridiculous rumour in the third year class courtesy thomas and rutwik- amitabh bachchan is gay in 'sarkar'- that is the twist at the end and the reason why abhishek leaves him. oh please!!! reimagining 'the godfather' did not mean you turn marlon brando into a queen! (huh… wasn’t he one anyways?) they insist that the rumour is confirmed courtesy a pirated dvd. right!

does anyone know what to do about a terrible chest cold and a body ache?