Saturday, August 30, 2008

ajantrik . killer of sheep

ajantrik got me thinking about the machine. or rather it mirrored ideas that were slowly forming in my head regarding the machine. perhaps it was the cyborg project in the second year where the distinction between the mechanical and the natural is being explored in this city through random associations. it could also be the argument for the home as a prosthetic worn to navigate the city. a body extension. then there was the deleuzian concept of the abstract machine and the concrete assemblage. desire that can only be made tangible through the material at hand. this is reconstituted, reassembled in constantly shifting forms, taking on new meanings constantly. these assemblages mime the body, its movements- provide mechanical extensions to us. our relationship with these assemblages goes way beyond the practical. they become brothers, sisters, parents, children. they get animated. maybe love can only happen then. when the concrete is sought to grasp the abstract machine. and then when these machines break down the pathos is one of losing the loved one- or a part of oneself. pathos merges slowly into nostalgia as rust eats metal and moss gathers on the walls. kausik’s work and ghatak’s film breathes new life into this residue and somehow resuscitates in them desires unfulfilled. the chaplinesque comedy of the machine’s movement is always sad. bittersweet.

as an aside - what happens when these relationships mediated through mechanical – i.e. tangible form are replaced by the digital? what is the concrete then?

in ‘killer of sheep’ a 1970s film about the black middle class experience in los angeles, there is no attempt at a story in the conventional sense. a series of ordinary moments of unusual beauty are strung together to draw a portrait of a time and place we have never seen. the beauty is that of everyday life and therefore always touched by some violence and sadness.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

monday jury at aa . art in town

the views from the terrace were of the landscape of a transforming mill lands towards the east, while on the west the atrocious siddhivinayak temple spire. if there was a crime on skylines and street edges it is this building.
inside were crimes on humanity as housing projects across the city, in the most attractive areas for architects- read as historic precincts, defunct industrial lands and slums, were shown in a jury. if ever there was a case to disband the entire architectural profession it came also from here. horrific environments presented as natural. the question one asks when looking at housing is always efficiency and never one of domesticity. just goes to show just how complicit architecture is in reinforcing existing imaginations of horrific habitats.
but later in the day was a farce on heritage conservation. the reactionary bureaucrat recreated a neoclassical facade on an existing rcc building to 'go' with the area; while the reactionary artist made curtain wall buildings to appear contemporary. very daring. especially considering that these are masters students.
and maybe the art world is a little better? still repeating cliches, at least to my uninitiated eyes, the 'everything is war' exhibition where everyone says the same things in the same way. but at least it is not as scary as some of the stuff that architects churn out. bharti kher's hybrids brought to mind our cyborgs and shumona's installation in colaba the problem of the domestic.
and some images.
kb house view of pdp
mansion on napeansea road
and chowpatty

Sunday, August 24, 2008

gokulashthami - borivili highway


ganpati pandal at thakur being made

truck painting. a road and a sail at andheri. like deeti's premonition in amitav ghosh's sea of poppies. soon she is on a boat on her way to mauritius.

i dont want to sleep alone

the city is slowly enveloped in a smog in the back streets of kuala lumpur where migrant labour from all around the world finds a home and work. tamil film music glows off tv screens in shop windows, a river flows below a bridge where love can be made, the roads are empty but for a few passing cars and lonely men looking for some kind of connection. a man takes on two avatars where he forms the object of love and care. in one version he is beaten up by goons and left for dead when he is found and nursed back to health by a migrant from bangladesh. in the other, he is in a coma being cared for by the women in his family. somehow the two stories meet at end in a somewhat unnecessarily dramatic moment. but otherwise the erotic is perpetually present in the beautifully constructed long still frames. a mattress, a construction site and a glowing electric bouquet bind the two stories together and in the last frame all three meet in an over the top symbolic scene as the smog descends. gorgeous film.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

shahani at prayoga

while watching ‘the bamboo flute’, i tried to go beyond the irritating italicized hindu mythologizing; or the national geographic style orientalism but only succeeded when the music was beautiful or the dancing- which luckily there was enough of- almost. sonal was annoyed by the essentializations that ran rampant throughout the film- whether they were about ‘nature’, ‘art’, ‘woman’. like they exist as pure somewhere in ‘our ancient culture’ or in the ‘simple life of tribals’. the manufacture of this kind of identity annoys me a lot in architecture and should also in film. but maybe i am more forgiving when i don’t understand anything…

the other films were ‘the glass pane’- a strangely beautiful journey into the city from a funeral in a small town; a terrible digital film on akbar padamsee and a short sweet exercise that he conducted with students at the srftii- whch looked nice but was in bengali- and so i still did not understand anything…

Thursday, August 21, 2008

bachna ae haseeno

the conceit of it all is unbelievable. the guy acts like a complete jerk the first half of the film- first kissing and telling with glee and next dumping the girl who loves him on their wedding day. then in the second half, he gets to feel even better about himself by apologizing to them and in the process making their lives even better- bringing love back to a frigid marriage and taming the shrew film star. khuda jaane is a nice song, lucky boy – not so much. ranbir kapoor gets better with each of the stories. minissha lamba is annoying and ugly , bipasha basu is very good in the first half and wooden in the second, deepika padukone is terrific throughout- she looks great and is not bad at all in her second film as an actress. the real star and she has the shortest storyline.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

happy independence day from maushi

earlier on friday morning as shweta and sonal decide to do the salsa on a bridge at charoti naka they are accosted by maushi who reprimands them for not standing straight on independence day. she was stone drunk.

and there is a video...

bordi / usgaon

there was no form of water body in the area that we (rupali, Prasad, chitra, ameya, sonal, shweta and i) did not get wet in. first it was the beach near goolkhush resort at bordi. black sand and muddy water did not stop any of us from slapping mud pies on each others shoulders and hair. shweta started it all. goolkhush is run by an eccentric parsi family who serves fabulous food irritably. the swimming pool in the compound was where we dipped ourselves next. the water was cold until you started swimming and then it rained. lying on your back as the rain hits your upturned face is divine. mutton for lunch, chicken for dinner. A walk through the town at night took us past open wood doors through which we saw deep green and blue interiors with televisions on. On the dark street silhouettes of conversations in verandahs.

omelettes for breakfast before which we had already finished another round of strokes in the pool. on the way back usgaon dam was overflowing. we swam in the lake and sat under the waterfall as the lake overflowed to the stream running through the center of the valley.

even after two days of intensive partying and holidaying the story did not end there as we drove directly to gyans house for a nice warm dinner party. i had to leave early though. my stomach was killing me and mukul was waiting.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

singh is kinng . peeyush

if akshay kumar was not so incredibly bad looking- or if he could act even a little bit this might have not been completely boring. it looks like his face has been sandpapered and is red and sore, like the last face lift was so tight that he cant smile anymore. but why blame him- even om puri is shrill and grating. the few good one liners are only effective when some bit player delivers them. the only two good things about the film- that make the film even moderately watchable – are the music (the title track and both the egypt songs- the love song and the bhangra); and katrina kaif- who is breathtakingly beautiful and still not a touch me not diva.

before we stepped into piramal’s to see peeyush’s china photographs of everyday people staring into the camera at china’s tourist spots.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

recap - the week that was

its been a week for listening to the strange disjointed fragments of madvillain or the incredible spartan beauty of the clogs. the hindi film song retrospective all the way to pune and back seemed a little grating to me. but it was definitely more entertaining for my company- paul, prasad, rupali and akhtar on a day of disaster after disaster. first the tyre burnt out after a puncture just as son as we got off the expressway into pune. and then as we were on our way back paul left his laptop at the restaurant and we had to head back all the way from the toll naka to chandni chowk. luckily the lap top was still although we had quite a scare on the way back as two cars decided to suddenly stop and quarrel in the middle of the road, and if it were not for my quick swerve to the left we would all be in a hospital right now. it was a terrible day- and to ward away any other mishaps we bought a new tyre after many stops and drove back through an ice cold cloud in lonavala.

The apartment on the 25th floor at goregaon looks all the way from the national park to the mangroves ; while in pune in one direction is hanuman tekdi and the rest of the city while on the other on the edge of the clubhouse peacocks dance. a marketing poster enumerates all the paraphernalia of choice for the nouveau riche.

but what about the rest of the week?
this is from the end of the first year detective stories workshop.

meanwhile i have been reading and watching films- as usual. ‘brick lane’ by monica ali was very overrated i thought. a bangladeshi woman has an affair with a younger man as she is bored by her older husband. every cliché that can easily be sold to the west exist in the book and the language after reading someone like zadie smith seems clunky. the cross cultural encounter seemed pallid and stereotypical when compared to ‘a passage to india even though i kept wondering whether forster was overcompensating. persepoliswas wonderful. i haven’t seen the film yet, but the book was moving, interweaving the political history of the country into a coming of age tale. i actually felt choked up while reading a comic book after years. a graphic novel- rather.

the new mummy film should not have been made. again and again jet li is hung from wires and scowls as a warrior from ancient china. michelle yeoh cuts fine karate chops but i am sick of this airbrushed beauty of china although always threatened by evil megalomaniacs.

speaking of china fireworks dazzle the world as the birds nest implodes and dancers move in improbable unison. all the time i wonder what if one of them falters and the patterns are disturbed. the presence of a regime of spectacular violence is not much hidden by the incredible spectacle. instead it seems more apparent.

surabhi showed truffaut on friday. ‘shoot the piano player’. violent and gentle at the same time. bumbling heroes and villains and gorgeous women who die saving the hero. i kept connecting the sudden brutality that breaks the mundane in a tarantino film to the almost mistake-like crimes in the truffaut film. I preferred truffaut’s love to tarantino’s smugness.

and earlier in the week, the first of this years departures – namrata left for berkeley.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

lokhandwala market

crumbling residential buildings from the 1980s whose ground stories are taken up by boutiques and shops selling all colours and textures of material; an entire universe of leather, chiffon, velvet, black roses, floral curlicues, fur lined pockets, rexene, red glinting madness. small time tv actors and other tinsel town residue choosing the strangest clothes on earth modeled by mannequins from another planet fashion. who designs these and makes them? the fashion victims hold handbags daintily as the get off the chauffer driven marutis waiting outside with a cell phone on one ear. there is always a friend to help choose- slightly more dowdily dressed. and all the salespeople are men. ‘ madam bahut accha dikhega’ latest hain’ as we also bought we watched. the best shopping place in the city where you don’t need to buy anything.