Saturday, September 19, 2009

Floral scars

Unsung notes hover from

A mad woman’s song .

She walks with a white cloud in her palms

Heavy moments inside.

Orange jasmines trapped in

The mud walls of her home.

Brittle petals and floral scars.

The dung polished floor wafts up

With orange acridity.

White marble glistens

Like a pale diffidence

Forced into a solid pretence of confidence.

Yamuna caresses it like a watchful governess

Trying her best to convert

The weak marbling into

A precipitated, curdled monument.

Lotuses , jasmines,

Tendrils and rubies

Capsized into the moments of curdling and age.

Symmetric symphonies in frieze.

As she walks into her muddy domesticity

Smelling of orange twilight and curd,

The jasmines are tender again,

Blooming forth from mud packed walls.

She picks them out

One by one from their walled captivity

And tucks them in her hair.

There on the banks of Yamuna,

The marble mausoleum

Stands naked.

The capsized rubies have conspired,

The emerald leaves have rebelled,

The flowers on walls

Have fallen like shattered glass.

Paused in space.

Hung in suspended action

Awaiting a bearer to walk by.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Makhmalbaf’s Silent Song

Sokout ( the silence) , Iranian film maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s 2007 release, leaves one surrealistically floating in twilight hues. Through an intensely affectionate door, we walk into a little boy Khorshid’s dark world of sweet sounds , silent waters and crimson cherries, while his little friend Nadereh dances to dulcets with petalled petunia nails and a porcelain chastity so ethereal, that one fears for her fragile beauty.

While Khorshid tunes his master’s delroba, Nadereh prances with the cherries dangling on her ears and hands swaying to the waves of his untuned stringed notes. The effect of the scene is ephemeral. So are most of his other imageries in the film. Just when we think we know what we see, the moment turns into a surreal canvas where we no longer know. The beauty of the film lies in this shift in our state of mind where we move from a bourgeois information seeking state to the state where we no longer feel the need to know or be informed. We simply surrender to its experiential spell.

Replete with metaphors , the film takes on a poetic liberty typical of Makhmalbaf.Perceiving a world through blind Khorshid’s ears, the movie captures sound in its most beautiful visual form. Sights that we see, he hears.Little Khorshid , however, hears only sweet sounds.. be it losing his way in the market following a folk singer, or teaching pretty schoolgirls poetry from their own textbooks. So he is made to stuff cotton in his ears, lest he be distracted on the bus and lose his way . Silence for Khorshid , sounds like the lapping waters of the stream where his mother catches fish for a living.

With childlike naïve optimism and with a brazen outlook of an observer of life , the director takes us through a rich canvas of light, colour and texture, and turns them all into sounds for the boy. The boy lives in poverty. He works to support his lonely mother. They face eviction at the hands of their landlord. Time , as always, is cruel in running faster in the face of such situations. These are factual stains of their lives. And the director leaves them untouched with a dignified silence. What he does is to show us the beauty, the wonder, the love and the innocence of purity. The affectionate love of the director towards this boy is embodied in the tone in which Khorshid's mother calls out to him every single time,'Khorshid... Khorsheed jaan!'

Khorshid needs only his sounds, his music and Beethoven’s fifth symphony to make him feel complete . Nadereh , needs only her mirror to make her a queen at the banks of the stream. The street singer needs only his instrument to play out his loneliness for him. Makhmalbaf needs only this silent song , to make us hear the sound and colour of silence.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Gora , by Rabindranath Tagore , stands as a vast discourse by Tagore for a society which is highly aware and sensitized towards a higher spiritual goal, that surpasses a mere individualistic cocooned frame of life. Tagore, talks through his key characters of the book, and evolves a story of two households that symbolize two schools of thought and religion of Colonised India in the 19th century. The intellectual and ideological turmoil of the Brahmo Samaj and the Hindu Samaj sets the stage for the story, of seemingly normal middle class families which transcends its mediocrity through its highly evolved and critical characters. Binoy and Gora are the two indispensable friends, who’s bond is very beautifully elaborated by Tagore through the story, being sensitive to many little details of typical human nature , be it their follies, faults, their shortcomings or their morality. In fact, Gora emerges before us, not as a flawless protagonist but as a case – study of man’s many dilemmas in his struggle to realize the essence of his existence. He is the symbol for the constant , undeterred anguished struggle that every human conscience undertakes at some point of his or her life , to place himself in the bigger scheme of things, to define his locus within societal co-ordinates.

However, the stimuli to the actions in the story are its heroines, Sucharita and Lolita. Having been brought up in a Brahmo household, and encouraged to freely discuss personal opinions,(as opposed to the traditional Hindu woman of those times) , these step – sisters are the igniting spirits of the story , who by entering into the heroes’ lives brew up a storm between principles of the head and logic of the heart.

What strikes about this work, is the immense consciousness of the theme. In today’s times, a book based on one ultra patriotic soul urging his fellow men and women to act in a way, as to keep in mind, always, the higher goal of a united ‘Bharatvarsha’ , may seem highly improbable. Yet, the theme stands its ground, speaking from the pre- independence days to this very generation of today. The ringing notes of an individual’s awareness of life as it unfolds in terms of events, of self and of those connected to him, turn into an intense personal churning.

Gora , gradually , succumbs to the trap of an extreme individual identity. Unknowingly , he limits his vision into conventional shackles.His desperate urge towards societal acceptance and an idealistic vision of an efficient social machinery, leads him to embrace dogmatism blindly. He is victimized by himself. However, with the fact of his birth and origin being shattered, that he is in fact of a British parentage and only raised in a Hindu household , Gora is liberated in his state of non-identity. To be one and to be all. Not belonging to any set of beliefs but to be a maker of one’s own.

Gora , is an intense journey. It raises so many questions in your head, answerable and unanswerable, that once through, one cannot but be a changed mind ; in outlook as well as in conscience.