Collected Blog Writings
(October 2004 – July 2009)

Bharath Murthy


For A.
First published in India, 2009, by NUMBER21PIX. © Bharath Murthy 2009. Printed in Bengaluru, India, by




Blogging, Vanity, Bildungsroman

Part One


Part Two



The Two Jomons
(A travel diary from 2002)


Foreword Blogging, Vanity, Bildungsroman


first engaged with the Internet in 1997. I was 19 years old. I was fascinated

with the idea of a 'web page'. Soon, I set about making my own web pages. I conceived it as a magazine, and called it The Actionist. I wanted to put in short pieces of prose and poetry. It didn't last long, but the word 'Actionist' remained. It became my Internet avatar. I became The Actionist. I began writing a diary from 2001 onwards. It was near the end of the Film Direction course at Satyajit Ray Film and TV Institute in Kolkata when I started writing a blog. The themes I wrote about essentially concerned my learning process. Looking back, I think I wanted to catalogue that process of growing awareness of the world. I wanted to get a grip on it. Writing was the best way to do it. Self-publishing a blog seems like the height of vanity. I am vain enough to admit it is. I publish this book simply because I know I can do it. Internet based self-publishing came into India some years ago. Though books have been self-published in India since the very beginning, the advantage of Internet based digital print-on-demand is that the author bears no expense. The book is printed only when someone orders it online. I published a short autobiographical comic called Learning to See this way, and I was encouraged by the response. While going through my old blog writing, I thought there was material there that could be reorganized as a book. I found two broad themes, 'fantasy' and 'reality', and they roughly correspond to two phases of my life in the last five years. The 'fantasy' phase is the time I was seriously considering a career in the fantasy-like Indian film industry. There were other correspondences, like my interest in SF and fantasy literature. Some entries explicitly deal with the relation between fantasy and reality. The 'reality' phase was a growing disillusionment with considerations of career. Meanwhile I started earning a living making 'real' non-fiction videos. Alka and me married. The focus of my inquiries changed. I looked for more solid ground to stand on. For better or worse, a world-view emerged. I no longer needed an avatar. I became me. In the long view, as I see it, this little book belongs to the long literary tradition of the 'bildungsroman', but in an oblique way, in that it is not composed as a novel but as seemingly random ideas and opinions. The hope is that the reader can find underlying themes and connections. – Bharath Murthy, October 10, 2009, Coimbatore.

Part One

(October 2004 – January 2006)


[21/10/2004 17:13:54] Last night a 'missing-the-train' dream where my grandmother, (who is dead) and me and a few others are going in a train. Suddenly she wants to see the small town where we stop. My mother arranges for the train to wait until we go sightseeing. It is a hilly town with a picturesque river. On the banks of the river, people are washing Formula One racing cars. Then we get lost, and I start running, trying to reach the station. I keep running not knowing whether the train has left or not. Missing-the-train has been a recurring theme in my dreams. [21/10/2004 18:06:49] October 21st a good day to start a new life in the hyperspace. THE ACTIONIST has risen from the thousand year slumber in order to report to you from the nostrils and assholes of the space-time discontinuity. Got to get my own Philip K. Dick. Everyone's been talking of science fiction as the social realism of the future. to me, it is just a narrative technique of what-is-yet-to-come, as Steven Shaviro nicely puts it in the book Connected. [22/10/2004 17:40:18] In last night's dream I am directing a play. We are just ready to start. last minute preparations. the curtain rises. the play starts. the auditorium is full. It is an adaptation of some regional playwright. Then five minutes into the play they abruptly stop performing. There is commotion. Then we start putting chairs on the stage in rows and all of us take our places there. So in the end, the audience is watching us and we are watching the audience. (In hindsight, I realize that such a scene somewhat resembles a scene in a Luis Bunuel film called Phantom of Liberty.) Gnosticism is really fascinating. Something about the gnostic cynicism, as in the belief that the creator himself is flawed, is a refreshing theological point to start with. From there all kinds of mysticism and magic can be conjured up. The basic need is to believe. I'd rather believe everything as REAL. Therefore magic becomes just another aspect of reality or another dimension. Fiction is bent reality. Read in Connected by Shaviro-someone says that meaning is a result of any response to a given verbal event.


[22/10/2004 17:49:31] A character for my imagined movie 'reverse thrust' is a gangster whose food is basically bulbs and tube-lights. He really gorges on them like Obelix munching on wild boar. Another scene I thought of for the Bahadur movie is a 'kamasutra' theme party of Bollywood page 3 celebs. Totally outlandish costumes and rave music. a nice ten minute scene with Bahadur and Bela playing the partypoopers. [25/10/2004 17:47:59] Takashi Miike doing a play of 'Yuki's Revenge' part from Kill Bill. That will be really cool. One way of doing a straight to video film is just filming a play. Do a one-act play. film it on miniDV. I think Tarantino is going to do the WW2 movie Inglorious Bastards as science fiction. It would have a real allegorical tone. With some supernatural conspiracy theories woven in. Treating history as science fiction as philosophy. I think I should write 'reverse thrust' as a kind of play. Got to get rid of the private eye angle. He would just be an ordinary writer of film reviews and doing odd jobs and trying to live in Bombay. He lives with a couple of other friends who are never seen, only heard, like in Kiarostami movies. Then he starts getting these weird emails and his past life starts appearing to him on a TV channel. Then he is caught in this web of revenge. Need some mythology to help me out with the stories. Why is it that in the 'third world' science fiction as a genre hasn't happened. Is it because we are so full of mythology anyway? The idea of the 'future' or meditations on evolution don't seem to interest most people out here. [31/10/2004 15:06:43] The diploma script is finally done. Maybe I should post it here as an entry. It is interesting the way Osama is doing mind control and witchcraft on the Americans. He exists only as a low-def electronic image. Yesterday he appeared like some timeless ghost inside American drawing rooms, doing some incantations and leaving them in a trance. Such are the ways in which Osama controls the world. He controls it by controlling America. Controlling America means controlling television, controlling television means becoming an electronic image. Perhaps that is why the Americans are not able to capture him. It is an ontological problem for them. Since he exists only as a television image, it is as if he has already been 'captured on camera'. They cannot


visualize him as flesh and blood. The American soldiers in Afghanistan are hypnotised. They are inside a videogame without knowing it. Saddam however, was a flesh and blood creature, and easier for the American government to imagine. In Steven Shaviro's Connected, he talks about a concept called 'semiotic AIDS', which appears in an SF novel. It is a disease that happens due to an Information Virus. I like the connections he draws between 'death' and 'debt' as becoming analogies in the new post-capitalist control society of networks. Bonded labour is back in a big way it seems... [07/11/2004 12:04:34] Love in Karnataka-The most romantic Indian film I've ever seen! Truly a cult film! First of all it is a 'porn' film. By that I mean the film only has explicit sex between a guy and a girl, college age and it has been distributed in porn video circuits through video shops. But thats where the comparison ends, for it is an Indian porn film like no other that I have seen so far. OK, to begin at the beginning, there are no titles in the film. It is around 50 min. and ends as abruptly as it starts. It starts with a close up of a college age girl. She wears specs and is watching TV. But we never get to see what she sees. Instead there are strange sounds of some action sequence, maybe a movie. Also heard on the soundtrack is a male voice in Kannada. They speak both in English and Kannada. She is really pretty and fair and camera shy and constantly looks into camera as she talks to her lover (who is not seen until the very end.) He trains his camera eye on the little imperfections of her body. He zooms in on her breasts, which are rubbing against her thighs as she crouches. (I really like that shot.) I soon realize that this is no ordinary porn film. She is definitely not a prostitute. There is too much care and intimacy between them. She is not so confident with her body, yet at the same time doesnt shy away from revealing it. It is clear that he wants to film themselves having sex. He fucks her and shoots her at the same time. The video camera has been put in the night vision mode, so there is the green tint in the image. This makes it all the more strange as he abruptly switches to normal mode for a brief period before he comes back to night vision. It is clear that he is more interested in her face and her body than in filming the sex, which, though explicit, doesnt take up much of the screen time. The haunting quality that I felt in the film has much to do with the kinds of shots he has taken of her. Extreme close ups of eyes, lips, arms, legs, hands and ears and stills of her just lounging about in the hotel room, shots of water trickling down her ass. It is not even so clear if it is really a hotel room.


At one point he asks her to stand in front of the window so he can take a shot. We see a big old colonial bungalow, with a huge lawn around it. Where could they be? Kolkata? A room in a club? Bangalore? Most of the voice is blurred and indistinct. Ambient sounds trickle in from the outside. The narrative plays hide and seek. The guy filming and fucking remains a voice until we first see him naked reflected in the mirror as he shoots his image for just an instant. Finally, in the last shot of the film, we see him as he emerges from behind the camera and has sex with her for the second time. Here the camera is static, framing the bed so their whole bodies are seen. At one point he even winks at the camera while she sucks his dick. Towards the end of this shot, we hear sounds of traditional drums coming from the street. A religious procession? Such are the details that make this film so fascinating. Then it abruptly ends. The interesting thing about this is that it was clearly not meant as a proper porn video to be sold on the market and yet the guy seemed to have a clear intention as to how he was going to shoot. He knows what he wants to see. There is almost a narrative. There is an intro of the girl, then sex, then a long section where she has bath and dresses up and then the final sex where he too is in the frame, but from a distance. It almost seems like he wanted to do it like in a porn film. She doesnt seem too interested. Yet she is madly in love. Who knows how the film got into the circuit. What I found most interesting about the film was the way in which it urges the viewer to make up stories around them. It is almost irresistible. It is very like a Kiarostami film in this respect. It also reminded me of Godard's Breathless, the hotel room sequence. Everyone who watches wants to know their stories. What happened to them? How did decent, fair looking, urban, educated types get into this? I even thought she looks very Kannada Brahmin type. Even the title of the film is made up by viewers. Some call it Mysore Mallika, or Sophia or Coorgi Sweety. Some say the girl committed suicide after this came out in public. Others say they are in America now. One of the unique things about this film is also the class angle. The people we see having sex are for the first time people like 'me'. By 'me' I mean urban middle-class. This brings me to the website 'Indiansex4u' where you get to see a lot of Punjabi and Malayali housewives and Bombay girls naked in their mundane home environments.


Strange pictures and very fascinating for me. I used to like it better when I saw the mosaic flooring of the bedroom, the household things lying around as they posed naked. Ultimate middle-class voyeurism. Pictures like a fat naked Punjabi woman taking something from the fridge (dont know why I remember that!) . Love in Karnataka is a very interesting video version of such pics. The kind of voyeurism in the film is not simply the one-way traffic of porn films, where there is a third person already mediating the proceedings. Here it is the fucker himself whose point of view is the viewer's. And not only that, the gaze is returned by the woman as she looks into the camera repeatedly while talking to him. This really unsettles the viewer's power over the gaze. He too is naked. Another interesting detail-- at one point in the film, she says she cant see him naked and goes on to cover him with a towel, which we see through the guy's point of view. [09/11/2004 15:16:14] Yesterday recorded the voice for LION 'the hand' for the diploma film. Very excited. Very Hindi filmi of course. But I must be cautious not to get too spoofy. Treat the characters with respect! [11/11/2004 20:35:11] diwali + 'sex is comedy' + fight with taxi driver + A's not feeling well + sleeping the day= one strange mood. sex is comedy was a good film. A nice one to start the Kolkata film fest. but right now really dull. It is 8.45 pm and I am feeling so groggy. [14/11/2004 17:18:21] Today checked out an FM radio station. 107.8 Power FM. Got to see an RJ at work. Nice location for the last shot of the diploma film. There's a view of the city from the sixth floor. The camera pans to show RJ speaking into mike. coool! Yesterday wrote something about this Olivier Assayas who everybody is divided over. French filmmaker, 90s, post-modern cool, multiculturalist, style shifting, and typically, nobody's too sure whether he's a 'good' filmmaker. Highly esoteric, idiosyncratic, almost on the edge of boredom, and yet, there's something in his off kilter strategy that is interesting. More on this later... Noticed a lot of divided opinions on many of the films this time at Kolkata film fest.


Generally a certain gang of film buffs would have similar tastes, but this time, there are no unanimous opinions on what is great (except for Catherine Breillat's Sex is Comedy which in a humorous way travesties the idea of titillation.) Very confused atmosphere. [14/11/2004 17:37:16] What's this about a Nehru revival? Today's 'Children's day', remember kids? Nehru fan No.1, Ramachandra Guha has been trying really hard over the last two three years to clean up his tainted image in the 90s, post Narasimha Rao. Right now everybody from left, right and centre blames Nehru for all sorts things. Guha, (old school JNU type academic, lover of cricket, ugh!) on the other hand goes to great lengths to separate him from the Congress Party politics, placing him as some lonely visionary. Guha claims that it was the Indira Congress that fucked up, and that Nehru never wanted her to be PM. Everybody in the 90s blamed Nehruvian socialism as the cause of the country's ills. BJP really took advantage of that. Then all the stupid debates about the term 'secularism' in Outlook magazine and elsewhere. I think the only place which contains a really interesting critique of secularism V/S religion'ism' and the entire idea of the Indian nation is the film Om-dar-b-dar (dir. Kamal Swaroop, 1989.) In the network society now, it really makes sense that the film is enjoying a renewed attention. The one shot in the film that stays in my head is a slow motion b/w shot of Nehru climbing up the stairs of a dais. Om-dar-b-dar was an oracle of a film. [16/11/2004 14:07:26] Nehru is a charismatic figure especially among the Indian middle classes. My first tryst with Nehru was as a ten year old when my father bought his book Discovery of India. At that time, the government's official history creator Shyam Benegal was making history with Bharath Ek Khoj, the TV series based on Nehru's book, with a phony Roshan Seth as Nehru. I used to watch it regularly. (everybody watched everything on Doordarshan.) It was like some FTII art-film-ethnic-chic-middle-class-liberal version of Indian history. Then I read parts of the book where he repeatedly makes the case for the unity in diversity concept, that the idea of the Indian nation goes back a long way and all that. Very catchy and romantic. but for all that soaring rhetoric, the question of religion and caste was strangely dumbed down, depoliticized. I think the 'Kashmir problem' is directly connected to this dumbing down, coupled with the fact that Nehru was a Kashmiri Pandit. Kashmiri pandits have hypnotic eyes. Thats a fact! :-)


[20/11/2004 22:13:53] Mughal-e-Azam. (Nehru contd.) We watched this legendary 1960 b&w film from Indian film history rereleased in a digitally colourized version. Watching the film colourised is really a unique experience. It looks like an animation film made out of Amar Chitra Katha drawings. Great! In some shots the background is a still image, so you see extras like a photograph. very Brechtian! The film itself (I had never seen the film earlier), is a moral parable on justice in terms of Nehruvian coalition politics. The Congress under Nehru had to deal with the nation's vast conflicting interests. Here, Akbar is the stand in for Nehru, just as Nehru modelled himself after Akbar, complete with a taste for the Rose and an interest in gardens and architecture, and of course, the syncretism in religion used as official state policy, now known as secularism. In the film Akbar disapproves of his only son Salim's love affair with a courtesan. The Hindu mother after some dialogues is OK with it, but Akbar will not budge. Father and son even fight a war over it, which the father wins. He threatens to execute his son unless he turns over his lover Anarkali to him, who has already been jailed once and rescued by Salim's lieutenant. Succumbing to the threat, Anarkali gives herself over to Akbar. He forces her to make Salim unconscious with a perfume even as he publicly orders that she be buried alive in a wall (just one of creative Mughal ways of cruelty!) but secretly he saves her, so that the public and Salim think her dead. She is banished from the kingdom. End of story. Transgressing woman banished from the patriarchal nation, but such is the magnanimity of his justice that she is spared her life. This is the nature of Nehru's coalition politics. Love doesnt win in the end, the law of the land/father does. Even though Madhubala is a cool character with the wittiest retorts reserved for her, and even though Akbar feels the guilt of breaking their love, the 'message' in the movie is everything must be sacrificed for the nation. The movie is not even a tragic love story like for example Devdas is or Casablanca is. It is about the ambiguity of the nation and of the idea of justice. (more on this later...)


[21/11/2004 18:12:46] Mughal-e-Azam. (Nehru contd.) What makes this film so different from contemporary Hindi big budget extravaganzas is that every character has his or her say in the narrative, as much as the hero does. Every point of view is elucidated, everyone has their one moment of glory. In effect, nobody is a hero, and everyone is a hero. One can say the same for Sholay actually. In Mughal-eAzam, the writers try really hard not to make any definitive statements, even though the law cannot be transgressed. The ending is proof of that. Akbar's burnt pride is really foregrounded when he feels guilty of not uniting the two lovers and falling prey to his own image. He knows that sparing her life is no justice at all. Like Salim says, what can the Law give at the most, Death. [30/11/2004 11:50:44] even more Mughal-e-Azam-Some interesting anachronisms. Islam is of course anti-idol, anti-sculpture. Yet in the film, there is an artist Santraj, a Hindu sculptor. But he wears something like a middleeastern shepherd's robe, like a biblical character. To celebrate Salim's arrival, he is asked to make the most beautiful full figure statue of a woman ever. As a 'teller of truth', he is unable to do that, so he gets a real woman and makes her up as if she were a sculpture. But the strange thing is that the fake sculpture is nothing like a period piece. In the dress and pose, she is almost like a Virgin Mary icon! So Anarkali is actually the artist's imagination, and a case can be made that both Akbar and son Salim are hallucinating. The Nation itself is a dream. Salim says, 'Mera dil bhi aapka Hindustan nahi hai jo aap uspke hukumat karen!' [01/12/2004 12:46:50] more anachronisms in Mughal-e-Azam-first strange thing-- Anarkali is carved out of stone. second strange thing-- Anarkali is imaginatively sentenced to death by burying her alive into a wall. Appropriate. Since she was made of stone, she has to go back to being a stone, but in this case a wall, since power is all about walls. The even more weird thing is, in the movie they show the workers using cement and brick, which of course didnt exist at the time. Power and desire in terms of architectural structures-- walls, corridors


windows, doors. Deleuze has written a good deal on this taking Kafka as his starting point in Kafka-Toward a minor literature. I have been to Delhi only once, and I felt the overwhelming presence of concentric circular walls around me. [01/12/2004 12:51:53] Two responses to casting for a role of a mother giving a blowjob to an anonymous teenager in a car while the husband drives. 1--'My motherly instincts would not allow me to imagine such a behaviour'. 2--'I cannot understand the psyche of the character'. Finally found a woman who is cool with it. Yet to decide though. [07/12/2004 18:40:01] Diploma production on. Feels like an extended dialogue exercise. Many scenes instead of just one. Just got to get the mood right. Rest will take care. Getting the mood right means I have to just dance and feel the vibrations and the signals from hyperspace....!@*)&#*) [15/01/2005 15:05:24] Finally back to the blog after shooting. Alka left just now. Parting blues. The shoot went OK I think, considering the fact that we were taking ages to take shots. The cameraman got into the usual trip of making up the frame as if it were some bride getting ready for marriage. The long takes should work for the movie I hope. It's almost like these one shot scenes like in the old silent movies. The one shot jawan scene will work great that way. But I am not so certain how some of the other long takes will, especially the conversation between Tintin and Zeenat at the bar. The music just has to fuse into the image to make it work. The one shot we really improvised on location is my personal pick of the best shots, the one where LION's hand is seen. That is the look of the Bahadur movie, if I ever make it. The comic book effect really comes in that shot. I am really excited about the kind of faces in the film, not only the main characters, but the extras, especially the dwarf who gets his 15 seconds of fame in the bar scene, and the guy at the ice-cream parlour, and Sanjib Saha as the guy on the wheelchair. The extras should add to the 'texture' of the thing, whatever that means! If the film can achieve the effect of a found footage collage, then that's something.


[22/01/2005 16:58:04] some short short film reviews-Swades. Shah Rukh Khan's make up van was the real star of the film. They should have just toured the country in that van and taken shots from the window and shown Shah Rukh pissing and shaving. Barry Lyndon. Kubrick's attempt at a period film. The really interesting part is it feels like a BBC historical documentary because of the voice over. So we have almost still images like the paintings of Turner and Constable while this BBC style voice over tells the story and almost ritualistic performances. Nice combo that really works for filming a historical novel. Fudoh-the New Generation.dir. Takashi Miike. GREAT MOVIE! The genius is in how he portrays the schizoid nature of identities in a post-human society-- overturning every genre convention and audience expectation at hyperspeed. Tokyo, as usual is a society ruled by warring clans of yakuzas and the wars continue from one generation to the next, except, in Takashi's vision, all metaphors are made literal to a cartoonish extreme. The manga influence is definitely one reason. So the characters behave in a two-dimensional way, which really works much better than 'real' animation because here it undermines our belief in the 'reality' we are watching. Brechtian distancing enhancing audience participation. Outrageous stuff includes a gang of armed kids (6-7 year old kids!) who are expert assassins, a really beautiful girl with a penis (a transvestite, but looks practically female), school teachers by day and gangsters by night, a school girl assassin who shoots darts from her vagina. [22/01/2005 18:44:15] Famous TV talk show host: So, tell me, how... how do you nurture your interests, how do you find your subject matter? Famous film director: It's like, I am obviously interested in some things, but more importantly, it is by being more interested in things that are not really interesting at first hearing is what keeps me driven. I am the interest, so to speak.


[22/01/2005 18:57:15] an interesting coincidence-Kamal Swaroop called me up one day and told me in his usual impatient tone that ISRO is starting a science channel and that I could talk to a Subramanya who was incharge and ex-FTII student. I said OK and forgot about it. Then I came to Coimbatore for the holidays. My mother was chatting on MSN when one Subramanya happened to log in. It turns out that it is the same Subramanya who I remember in childhood at Ahmedabad when my parents used to take me to 'satellite city' to Subbu's house where once during a dinner party he had got out his home telescope and we all saw the planets. I remember Saturn. Has the idea of of coincidence something to do with the network philosophy? [08/02/2005 14:23:23] Review of Black by Bhansali. Of course it is a hit. it will get all the awards. Rani Mukerjee has to get that Filmfare award. BUT WHAT A BIZARRE FILM! What kind of strange smelling masala has he come up with? A real half-breed mongrel bastard film . Here are my confused reactions. The movie is ostensibly set in the past, somewhere in the twenties, which only a smart guy in the audience will point out because there is a scene where we see Chaplin's The Kid running the local theatre. The place is some hill station in Himachal Pradesh. That info we get to know only because there is an acknowledgement to the Hon. chief Minister of H.P. Otherwise the setting is totally in some deranged childhood fantasy fairy tale world conjured up on reading abridged versions of Jane Eyre or some such Victorian novel with illustrations. My friend Cyrus pointed out that the story is from Chaplin's City Lights. But what a weird way to get into Chaplin when you notice that the physically disabled character has that trademark Chaplin walk. The setting is straight out of a fantasy reworking of Victorian England, and the characters speak stiff Brit English the way they do in Indian English theatre. There is no way to tell when or where is the movie happening. Now all this is not necessarily a bad thing. It is only when you start realizing that there is not the least bit of self-consciousness in his approach that you begin to wonder what kind of schizoid nature the film has. Rani Mukherjee is deafblind, but as a kid she acts as if she is possessed by some witch, as in the old Gothic horror. Then Bachchan the saviour comes and teaches the kid to eat with a spoon, though in most of the scenes where she discovers something,


it is as if some miracle has happened on its own. So this deaf-blind girl grows up and gets a bachelor's degree and all that. What beats me is the the whole approach. Why did he set it in an Anglo-Indian community? He has a tendency to exoticize communities in each of his films. Gujjus in one film, Bengalis in another. But in this film he has gone one step further schizophrenically. Sometimes the characters act as if they are in a Hollywood movie playing those people. At the same time, the dialogue is peppered with Hindi. Strangely, Rani's character never speaks in English in the voice over, even though Bachchan talks to her in English most of the time. Her Hindi is normal Bollywood Hindi. All the rest of them are into theatre English. The house is a palatial late nineteenth century bungalow. The women wear 19th cent. clothes. The men wear suits, but they are of recent design. The music is standard Hollywood John Williams style. Rani walks like Charlie Chaplin. Everyone is either crying or ecstatic at the snow falling or some other trivial thing. The images are right out of British children's fairy tales. Everything else stinks of born-again Catholicism. Bhansali has a Christian trip. He's really a Christian. Just like Gandhi. And being middle-class is all about being Christian. And the AngloIndians were the the first modern middle-class of India, and still remain a model for middle-class culture. The middle-class brand of liberalism is still the ideal thing for most people and that is represented from the beginning of Indian cinema when all these Anglo-Indian girls used to act in the movies and dance as extras and influenced Kishore Kumar with their vaudeville music. In Bengal that music is still the standard! So the people who will really love this movie are the ones who cried the most during those two hours. the aunties and the going-to-be-aunties and those desperate guys whose machismo lies in marrying and having a kid. If that kid is spastic, all the better! [08/02/2005 14:36:37] Since 'reality' in India is already mythical and fantastic, the more fantastic Hindi movies are, the more realistic they become. So, by that understanding, Bhansali's Black is pretty realistic. To do a 'real' fantasy, we have to start by telling stories that have absolutely no basis in lived experience. A real fantasy in Indian cinema and storytelling can only come from the ultra-personal and the ethnographic tradition of say Jean Rouch or the surrealists. I believe Hindi cinema is totally realistic, more realistic than even Satyajit Ray. That is why Bollywood just cannot understand Ray, because to them, they were doing the same thing as Ray, and even better than Ray at that! Ghatak approached fantasy, but lost faith in it.


[09/02/2005 18:52:48] PSBT telecast-The first work I did for a living is this really boring documentary for PSBT along with Sreejith about call centres in Kolkata. I have finally lived out my childhood and become part of the memory I grew up with. Those long hours watching DD National Network and being really bored have now come full circle. It is now time for me to unleash the same boredom to unsuspecting masses who might just by chance be watching DD on the night of February 13th, at 10.30. It is more than likely that the kind of people who will be sitting and watching at that ungodly hour are old uncles and aunties in some really small town or village, who in the depths of their unhappiness will be hoping against all hope that the half hour programme they will watch might just provide that much of nourishment so that they can go to sleep without caring too much about what the next day might bring... [10/02/2005 12:53:40] Here is Kamal Swaroop's review of Black-May be some thing to do with hydrophobia. Water... water... at least AB got Rani to kiss. Blindness. Muteness. Deafness. compensated through loudness. tear a part. fear water. Ejaculate. drown in a wet dream. Chaplin walk was sick. [10/02/2005 13:03:28] NEWSFLASH! Editing of diploma film over. Sound work to start on Friday. So far OK reactions from 'test audiences'! [13/02/2005 18:05:03] Borrowed new comix from Tintin (Bengalis have the most comical nicknames!) The first 3 volumes of The Invisibles. The new Asian Dub Foundation album Tank will be out end of this month. The diploma film will be finished by then. Tonight is screening of the PSBT documentary. Nice things to look forward to. I was speaking with Tintin about Indian English writing etc. He agreed that most were too tedious and full of hangups.


[13/02/2005 18:12:59] How about a teenage anarchy movie with three boys called OM, APU and SWAMI + a girl who is not a teenager, as in she is older than them and is the real hero of the story. All of these cause some serious damage wherever they go. A liberating road movie for 14 year olds who just cannot keep their dicks from popping out of their pants... [24/02/2005 17:57:55] I lvoe you, lala's sex vedio, paki porn etc-Lots of porn happening of late. The latest porn scandal is right next door, in the very hostel I live in. one of the students in the hostel, a really unassuming guy, taking Indiansex4u type amateur photos and posting it to his friends. It came out just like how every other porn 'scandal' comes out-- through the mass media. Here the mass media was one of those active shit-kicking investigative journo types figuring out some floppies of his where he found the photos. Only 3 of them though. So everyone saw them, enjoyed them, and promptly started condemning it. He got beaten up by the most slimeball porn voyeur of the hostel (which seems understandable, somehow.) I for one, was thrilled about such goings on. For a consumer of amateur porn images like the ones in Indiansex4u, this was like a dream come true. You get to see images on the Internet which you know were taken right where you live. You know the kind of room, its smells and sights, which is what attracted me to those Indiansex4u images in the first place. When I looked at those pictures the basic thrill was in imagining the space of that room and the kind of things going on there. I wrote about Love in Karnataka sometime ago. Now there is another amateur video to take the no.2 spot. It seems like these kind of almost self-conscious porn films are becoming a genre. As A. pointed out, these films are documentaries. More on this later... [24/02/2005 18:13:28] the no.2 porn film (sorry, documentary)-This one is a film that everyone calls the Delhi porn video, (why is it that place names become the titles?), and just like Love in Karnataka this is a couple filming their sex act and it contains images apart from the usual sex scenes, and also just like 'love in K.', it is the guy who is the director of the thing. Here, however, the couple seems like


newly-weds on their honeymoon. She has the red mark on the forehead in one shot in the car, which appears here and there as they change hotel rooms. The first scene is like a little intro which sets the mood of the whole narrative. They are in a hotel room, the camera is placed very close to the TV, (which is on throughout the film.) She asks him to switch off the camera repeatedly which he ultimately does. The TV almost becomes another character in the room and the girl is constantly distracted while she has sex. Another cool thing is that sometimes the camera is placed right next to the TV so that the TV becomes the point of view... [01/03/2005 16:11:38] The Internet is like an orgy, right-- the sex of the Net is the orgy-- its all connected, simultaneously, at all times. Everyone's famous 24 hours a day(The Invisibles.) [01/03/2005 16:19:03] India TV porn-In the channel run by the Tehelka guys, two days ago, they showed these spycam images of Bihar ministers doing prostitutes in hotel rooms. Then there was an intense media blitz to force public opinion against the politicians. They kept repeating the images for vox populi. It looked like it was going to become the next hot headline. But the next day's papers didnt carry anything about the expose. Even India TV stopped airing them. The news just disappeared as fast as it hit the screen. That was the end of some good fun. Yet another interesting addition to the currently hit genre of amateur porn images. For once, the guys are the stars in it. [09/03/2005 14:00:44] Bhang on Shiv Ratri--the best bhang trip I've ever had. Very hallucinatory, almost blacked out, cold feet paranoid scene. [09/03/2005 14:03:31] Today is the last day of sound mix of diploma film. Its come out just OK, I think. The Akira Yamaoka remix worked out perfectly as the leitmotif music. A typically weird film school product.


[14/03/2005 16:05:14] Kamal Swaroop is here. Yesterday, to provoke some German film school students who were on an exchange program on campus, he told them that Hitler was a Jew. The Germans went crazy! Ideas for comic characters-- Aam Aadmi(TM), who is a eunuch, and Running Roti, which is a roti on the run. Aam Aadmi and Running Roti are friends, though every once in a while, Aam Aadmi has the urge of eating Running Roti. Their nemesis is Ironix, which is a hot iron. Some more characters to be introduced. Will make for a cool series on Cartoon Network I think. [23/04/2005 19:35:34] In the meantime I went to Chennai along with A. for the diploma film printing. Tamilians and generally South Indians (that is south of Bombay) seem to have this strange affinity with printing technology. Right from Raja Ravi Varma onwards to the super-mega flex-print billboards of movies on Chennai streets to Prasad Labs to the generally high standard of cinematography in South Indian movies. Also in the south, there is a larger consumption of images like photographs, than in the north. I might be wrong on this, but I find too many big photo studios doing roaring business in Chennai and Coimbatore, so I say this. Some kind of cultural code is at work for sure. The entire country's posters are mainly printed at Sivakasi, a small Tamil Nadu town. paper making is a huge industry in Tamil Nadu. One of the largest paper making companies in India, owned by the State Government, is in Karur in Tamil Nadu. The diwali firecrackers are made in Sivakasi because of the abundance of waste paper from printing. To go back in history, the first modern printing presses in India were set up in Cochin and Madras (1751.) The cheap paper has also ensured a thriving pulp magazine industry in Tamil Nadu. Strange... [23/04/2005 19:38:57] Eraserhead by David Lynch-Super head trip. Watched it at last! Too exhausted by it to write immediate review-in one word it would be 'Kafka'.


[25/04/2005 19:33:50] Reading Philip K. Dick's Ubik, the first science fiction novel I am getting into, and its super amazing! I never realized what I was missing out on. Its all got to do with bad marketing of SF. Everyone thinks SF is all about techno gadgets you cant make any sense of. But Philip K. Dick is really about philosophical ideas plugged into pulp genre fiction. Like Mcluhan says, 'we shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us'. SF is about the 'tools shaping us' part, and its about a truth-thats-yet-to-become, since part of the project is prophesying, like the precog (from pre-cognition) characters in Philip K. Dick. Actually, the real precogs are the SF writers themselves and the SF guys have a better angle on REALITY, in these post-real times than those novelists trying to write 'realistic' fiction. [29/04/2005 16:15:05] Ubik-- 'death' as an alternate universe. Neil Gaiman's idea is to personify emotions and phenomena. So in his fantasy, death becomes a cute looking punk girl, always smiling in his Sandman comic. In his novel American Gods, there are Gods of credit cards and cars, and the humour when the old and new gods clash-- culture clash. Philip K. Dick on the other hand, treats emotions and phenomena in spatial terms. Neil Gaiman does fantasy, PKD does science fiction. PKD does bodies in space affected by the very space they inhabit; and that space is of technology and their controlling systems. [04/05/2005 11:10:15] Stuck in Chennai heat and dust. These Prasad Film Lab guys are too busy grading cheap Tamil movies to give us time. Meanwhile finished Alan Moore's Watchmen. Amazing book. The ethical paradox at the end was too much! Is Ozymandias the villain or the hero, does he actually save the world or what? What Ozymandias does is the very thing that caused the Allies to become Allied in WW2. The creation of a pure hate object in the Nazis. Now here Ozymandias, the superhero creates another pure hate object by creating a believable alien using the best artistic global talent. Then he kills the talent. The US and the Soviets(this was 1986) get allied again, and so a 'pure evil' ensures world harmony. Watchmen really pointed out at the post-modern moment, ie. the moment of major cultural and philosophical transition in the late 80s what the problem was-- the disappearance of the universal hate object. (Just see what happened to the Indian art


cinema people in the late 80s.) It is being felt more acutely now as the Americans fight 'global terror'. Like someone said, 'you cant wage war against a noun'. [07/05/2005 12:28:38] Didnt get a reserved ticket for Kolkata. Shit! It is a reminder that I am back in the grind. I havent travelled in general compartment since I left Baroda. I just saw this one hour BBC doc on Philip K. Dick on the Net. The Net is a better place to watch TV. You can watch content that is relevant to you instead of mindless channel shifting, which is kind of obsolete. The newest form of trash is information! PKD calls it 'kipple'. Kipple is something that just endlessly produces more of itself. Just another metaphor for trash. When everything becomes trashified, then art can only come out of the trash. Another thing-- I didnt know Samuel R. Delany the SF writer is black American. Somehow you never considered a black man writing SF... strange. I have to read his Dhalgren. It used to be there in Seagull Kolkata a couple of years ago. Might just be there now. A lot of SF fans in Kolkata I guess. My cousin Dinu in Bangalore is a big SF reader, but these guys are science & tech oriented. For them it is like a wish fulfilment. Nothing wrong with that, but PKD isnt that kind of writer. He's really like Kafka, writing parables of desire. Kafka too wrote SF in a way. Both PKD and Kafka deal with social systems as machines, and how perceptions of who we are are altered in that psychic atmosphere. Both were also trying to unravel the power of religion, of mantras and of enduring metaphors. Kafka and PKD's obsession was with power. Kamal Swaroop also keeps talking about power.. [17/05/2005 15:47:06] a little narrative about history and memory-'Habib Tanvir is a great storyteller.' The film history lecturer in Satyajit Ray Film and TV Institute, Kolkata, was lamenting about the poor quality of answer sheets that he was correcting for a film studies exam of the course in Jadavpur University. One of the questions was about silent cinema and the student had mentioned in his answer that 'Habib Tanvir is a great storyteller'. Habib Tanvir, as many of us know, is a well-known theatre person.* The lecturer was really distressed. I didn't get it. It seemed to be a correct sentence, but why did the student write that? I asked him to explain. He told me that the student wrote that sentence because during a class on silent cinema, he had recounted an interview with


Habib Tanvir, Hindi playwright, who in turn was remembering his childhood when he used to go to see silent movies in travelling shows inside a tent. Habib Tanvir, the lecturer had told the class, was impressed by the great storytellers of the silent cinema. The student, recalling a vague memory of the class, wrote 'Habib Tanvir is a great storyteller' when asked to write about silent cinema. The lecturer, with a look of resignation, lamented the sad state of film education in India. Later, thinking about this little incident, it struck me that what the student had written could be taken as a true statement. True in the sense that he was himself recounting his memory of the class, just as the lecturer was recounting an interview with Habib Tanvir, who in turn was recounting his memory of childhood. So what the student did was merely the same thing that the lecturer did and Habib Tanvir before him, which is engaging in an act of memory. The student had created a memory, and its result was the statement, 'Habib Tanvir is a great storyteller.' * Habib Tanvir died on 8 June, 2009. [23/05/2005 19:37:54] AIDS. (Ambient Information Distress Syndrome) I read about this in Steven Shaviro's book, Connected. It is from an SF novel called Ciphers, I think by a guy named Dan di Filippo. It is an 'information disease' caused due to information overload. Too much trash in the head causes physical body reactions-- loss of nervous control-- mind virus. Great idea. [23/05/2005 19:45:50] Ideas for a feature film-- Mogambo's brain has been preserved. A rag picker finds it in a garbage heap and revives it. Mogambo then creates a new sex virus where you die an immediate death if you fuck a person with the disease. The disease also carries through the Internet as computer virus(?) The beggars want to take over the country. Meanwhile Om, Apu and Swami, three teenage rebels have problems of their own. There is a Nagin woman and a reincarnation situation-- super noir movie in the style of Guru Dutt and Alphaville, but in pure colour and a lot of languages. Also a third world sciencefictionness about it. Its called 'B for Betrayal' or 'Love Triangle' or 'Maa ki aankh' or 'kill my thirst'. Should be fun writing it. Reading Philip k Dick has convinced me that I need to do something with the SF genre.


[16/06/2005 22:37:38] Got back home to Coimbatore after really hot train journey-- train like a sauna. Dreamt a dream in train. A strange squirrel-like animal but extremely thin and walking on two legs. its hands are human like but thin and long bony fingers and it wears a coat. We are sitting on the wall and this tiny creature is roaming around and I call it 'doolittle', and it turns and looks at me. Then it throws an invisible string for me to catch so that it could come up. but I never manage to catch it. Then I tell my friend that these creatures are pure souls roaming around-- 'bhatakti hui atma'. I woke up in the train and the moment I opened my eyes I saw a guy moving past me wearing a t-shirt with the number 21 on it. The number 21 is sort of like a magical sigil for me. [16/06/2005 22:50:25] Virtual Light. Reading William Gibson's novel by that name. It is a term given to a way of creating optical images without the use of light (photons.) [16/06/2005 23:40:19] William Gibson has a very film script way of writing. Sometimes description is like short hand-- like SMS or something or like describing a scene. I noticed that he gives description of costumes in super detail while spaces are more abstractly or sketchily rendered. What was really interesting was the way he jumps between thought patterns of different characters-- as in, he would return to some little disconnected thought of a character suddenly while talking of other things. What I am noticing in SF is there are no heroes, there are ONLY characters. [20/06/2005 22:24:40] The Las Vegas of Salvation – an account of a trip to Tirupati. 'WELCOME TO TEMPLE TOWN', says a huge billboard on the highway, featuring the 'Old Monk' liquor label in the centre, and below in brackets and small letters, is painted 'cola concentrate'. Such is the contradiction that makes up the wealthiest pilgrimage centre in India, and second only to the Vatican, Tirupati. The reigning deity of this temple is Lord Venkateshwara, and as with most important pilgrimage centres in India, is perched on top of a mountain, at the edge of the Western ghats near Renigunta


in Andhra Pradesh. Tirupati is actually the tourist town below the hill (Tirumala), which caters to the millions of visitors each year. This is my second visit there, the first one being when I was one year old, and got my head shaved, remembered only in faded b&w photographs.

Once you get past the huge billboards welcoming visitors and sponsored by well known brands, you realise that religion is a booming industry here. One will notice the relatively lesser number of beggars, (yet each time a beggar pleads you for money, it is always a losing battle with conscience, especially when you've just come out dropping five hundred rupees in the hundi.) The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), the governing body administering the temples (led by an IAS cadre bureaucrat, it is an autonomous body run by the State) prides itself on its efficiency and its services to all classes of devotees. Class-consciousness is nowhere more in-your-face than here. Everything is decided here by money, including spiritual gratification. The whole economy of the region is dependent on 'religious tourism' and the grace of Tirumala. When there are no visitors, it can turn into a ghost town, but of course, one needn't worry if you are a businessman in Tirupati, there's money to be made all-year round. When we went, they said it was not crowded, but still we had to wait two hours for the two second darshan of the idol. More than two seconds and you are shoved out by the authorities.


Tirupati is a place built for excess. The wealthiest and the most powerful of the country are its devotees, as are millions of Hindus (even a small number of Muslims, as I discovered, who are required to fill up a form.) Its Unique Selling Point is to cater to the degraded aspects of the human psyche, greed and its symbol, money, and the vulgarity of its nakedness. Tirupati is not your usual spiritual trip in the way, say Vaishno Devi or Sabarimala is. Those places are about the salvation of the soul, apparently corrupted by materialism, where guilt is the driving emotion, and self-sacrifice, in the form of the physical hardship of climbing, is the form of devotion. Here, excess is celebrated, wealth is endorsed with an arrogance not seen elsewhere. All you need to sacrifice here is the hair on your head, which is not giving too much I suppose, and though you can walk up the hill, not many actually do it. People come to Tirupati to bless them with wealth & health and as part of the deal, they are encouraged to give. You invest a little money in Lord Venkateshwara, and reap the rewards of His blessings, (which only means more money.) The soul then, is supposed to take care of itself. The money connection goes back to Tirumala's mythological foundations. Here is a part of the story which I found from a comic-book that was being sold*-- After much travails and a lot of detours, the marriage of Srinivasa (Vishnu) to Padmavati, the daughter of Akasaraja is fixed. But Srinivasa doesnt have money for the marriage (dont ask me why.) So Brahma and Maheshwara and others suggest borrowing from Kubera. Kubera agrees to give them money but on a credit basis. Brahma and Maheshwara are witnesses to the promisory note signed by Srinivasa. Once Kubera gives the money and gold required for the appropriately pompous wedding, Srinivasa marries Padmavati. It is attended by everyone from all the worlds. But the interest for the borrowed money is not yet paid and Padmavati is unhappy. Lakshmi comes to Srinivasa's aid in the end. Srinivasa says, 'You give my devotees health and wealth in return for the money they offer at my feet. I'll pay back with that money.' So Lord Venkateshwara pays the interest on the loan every year during the festival of 'Anivara asthana'. The original temple at Tirumala, (which has been built upon over the years), was constructed under the patronage of Krishna Deva Raya, a king of the Vijaynagar empire, during the fifteenth century. There are copper statues of him and his queen displayed. There are also statues of Raja Todarmal, Akbar's minister, and his queens who visited Tirupati. As I said, Tirupati is built for excess, and for the efficient organisation of millions of devotees who visit, some very unique arrangements have been made. Earlier, you had a -------*This is only a loose approximation of the myth.


real queue with railings which ran along the footpaths in a labyrinth that went all over Tirumala. Now, we have the 'Q ' complex. This building is shaped like a semi-circular stadium and it is built to make waiting a slightly more enjoyable experience. The complex is divided into a number of blocks. The pilgrims are shifted from one block to another as the queue moves. Every block has its own toilets and TVs (TVs are everywhere.) If you dont want to watch TV, you can spend time gazing at the garden that's built around it. All the walls in the block are built like cages. The chaiwalla sells tea from outside the cage. Once you are out of all the blocks, you get in to the main queue which leads to the shrine. Finally the two-second darshan and the football size laddu. Another innovation not found anywhere else in the world is the tagging system. For the people who want a simple darshan (ie. those who cant afford the range of other darshans depending on the money you pay), they are tied a cloth tag around the wrist containing barcoded information of the ticket number and time of darshan etc.. this is so that they needn't waste time and can join the queue only when their turn comes. The darshans come in many price ranges. If you can afford a lakh, you get exclusive time with the Lord and all the possible poojas at the same time. But even that is at 2.30 in the morning! The tickets are issued from a computerised bank counter, and of course, credit cards are accepted. The entire roof of the main shrine is covered in gold plated copper sheets, and the main kalasha is pure gold sheet. There are colonial style chandeliers everywhere. even in the main shrine. There is a queue for donating money in the huge copper hundis. During peak times, it fills up every one hour, and they say collections amount to crores every day. However much it is, one can get a sense of the wealth when you look at the counting centre. That is situated beside the shrine, and it is deliberately walled with glass, so people like me can gape wide-eyed. The money is everywhere. Thousands of coins, currency notes scattered all over the room in mounds, in green plastic tubs, in bundles. I was instantly reminded of that money counting scene in the Martin Scorsese film Casino, which was about the Las Vegas casinos. The vulgarity is there to see. Its all part of the spiritual experience in Tirupati. Finally, Tirupati comes across as a huge money changing enterprise. The rich are encouraged to give. All of the facilities have been constructed by donations from all over and people with little money get good accommodation and food at real low rates. Everyone can get something out of Tirupati. While the rich 'invest' with the wish for even more riches, the poor at least can hope for that elusive windfall. The pursuit of wealth is a virtue in Tirupati, as long as you keep coming back and keep helping Lord Venkateshwara repay his debts by making your little fateful contribution into that hundi. Here, money can indeed buy happiness.


Return to the Debt Collector—Tirupati—2005, June 19th , Sunday. Five years ago, just after I graduated from Baroda, I went with parents to Tirupati. That was my second visit. The first time was when I was a kid, and they took me there to shave my head off. On the last visit I wrote an essay about Tirupati. Five years on, and I’ve finished post-graduation in filmmaking and once more I went on the insistence of my parents. My Uncle and Aunt from Chennai also came along. This time the puja was some special thing called 'abhideyaka abhishekam' where they bathe the God in all sorts of liquids. There were TV screens so we could watch in close up—the camera hung from the ceiling and was remote controlled. In the queue, we spoke of Anil Ambani and Ekta Kapoor who were regulars here—we joked that he would have come here since the Reliance break up was final. Later in the afternoon, we saw on TV that he had in fact come there that morning, with wife and kids. My parents are fond of Tirupati. They got married there, at the Shankara Mutt, and of late, they have started making this an annual pilgrimage. Tirupati, of course is all about money and its ostentatious display. The money donated in the hundis are collected and in a strange kind of perverse display, the people can see the money being counted behind glass walls. Looking at all that money is very hypnotic, and I think the spiritual effect at Tirupati has more to do with that display than any prayer to the Lord. In Hinduism, there is no concept of sin and redemption. You don’t go to the temple to wash away sins, you go to wash away BAD TIMES. So in temples, there is a lot of BAD TIME in the air, the BAD TIMES of millions of people, but then, people go to the temple even if there are GOOD TIMES. Anil Ambani came to Tirupati on both times. In Hinduism there is no concept of guilt either. You just pay for everything, a very materialist view. Karma is bookkeeping, checks and balances, accounting. Moksha is release from accounting for lives. I read Grant Morrison’s comic The Filth to pass the time. I was supposed to be praying for the GOOD TIMES in the future. I think The Filth made sense in Tirupati. You have to pay for the Shit. That’s the debt. [26/06/2005 01:48:13] Thirld world as the space of SF-It is interesting to see how porn websites use the IP address you are surfing from inside their adverts. For example, they will say 'Have sex in Coimbatore tonight', and if you are fooled, you click that link only to find that all those girls are sitting on the other side of the world. Meanwhile, I was reading this essay about how the first multicultural


cities were the old colonial cities of the colonized world and how the first world today wants to become that colonial world city, which is exactly what is happening now to the world's mega cities. Check out London for instance- the Punjabis and other Asians have taken it over. SF movies like Bladerunner anticipated such a phenomenon. [27/06/2005 01:43:30] Was watching BBC the other day and J.K.Rowling, writer of Harry Potter was being interviewed. She was talking of her influences and she said a strange thing that I'm still thinking about. She was talking about a children's book that she loved as a child and why she loved it so much was because the author had described in extreme detail the food that the characters ate, and they ate the exact same food every time, and she says it satisfied her a lot as a child. [27/06/2005 20:35:30] There is a Muslimgauze song called Exit Afghanistan. I was playing that just now on my computer. In the song there is a Carnatic violin sample with some Afghan drums. My father heard that and said that it was raag Sindu Bhairavi. It is a very popular raag and they sing this line 'Vishveshwara, darshan karo, chalo mann tum kashi'. It is Hindu religious music and Muslimgauze, who's actually a Christian named Bryn Jones used a violin instrumental (Muslimgauze never uses vocals) of the piece in a song titled 'Exit Afghanistan' which is obviously about the Soviet and American invasion of Afghanistan. That's post-human schizophrenia for you. [29/06/2005 14:01:02] Paul Verhoeven-I have consistently seen many of Paul Verhoeven's films in the theatre but not given them any serious consideration. But that's because of the nature of his films. They are all B-grade corny cheese ball genre pics, but all of them are strangely affective. I've enjoyed them like hell. Only now I'm beginning to understand. Weirdly, Paul Verhoeven has a place in my personal mythology also. The first film I went to see in the theatre when I was 12 without my parents was Robocop. I went with my tennis coach, who insisted I watch the film. I really enjoyed the movie. And it was a violent and crazy movie. Man becoming machine and what happens to his emotions afterwards.


Now that I am obsessed by the SF genre, it is nice to know that he was the one who did Starship Troopers, again a very strange space opera, based on the novel by the great SF writer of the Golden age of SF in the 50s, Robert Heinlein. Very pop trash but it affected me deeply when I watched it in Baroda at the theatre just when my interest in movies was developing. There's something about the way he uses women-- very misogynistic, appeals to most crazy sexual instinct. Basic Instinct was really good postmodern reworking of Hitchcockian tropes, in which the femme fatale is now not just a seductress, she explicitly enjoys fucking around, and there is no mysterious allure. Only the orgasm becomes important. Now I am desperate to watch Total Recall, which I somehow missed. It is based on Philip K. Dick short story, a writer I am really enthusiastic about now. [03/07/2005 12:31:18] Last night had a dream that I was in Cuba (?) and I was looking for ganja and they were selling it on the roadside along with trinkets. and one guy was rolling a huge ganja cigar! [06/07/2005 18:19:06] last exit to Bollywood-Leaving Coimbatore tonight. I have been told not to expect any more monetary assistance from parents. Welcome to Bharath's Adventures in Bollywood... may be I ought to read 'How to Make Lots of Money in the Movie Business (and be sucksexfull in the process)' by world famous phillummaker Yash Khopdi. For now though it is back to Kolkata for a couple weeks in order to love and meditate and prepare my already short circuited brain for this New World.


[06/07/2005 11:58:15]

[23/07/2005 20:23:10] Darjeeling-Right now in Darjeeling. More women than men out here. Looks like they are the bosses here. Tibetan and Nepali girls always combing their hair. Everybody has great hair! Must be the water. Even A. said her hair felt good after a bath. This hair fetish is just driving my juices crazy—also, it is monsoon... mating season.


[16/08/2005 18:50:15] the Singularity of 2012-A strange coincidence I encountered. Terrence McKenna, psychedelic philosopher says that based on his esoteric researches, human life will encounter a turning point which he calls a Singularity which will awaken a new conciousness. His date is Dec.21, 2012. The year 2012 is the year of hundred years of Indian cinema, and the year that Kamal Swaroop is counting on for his mammoth undertaking The Phalke Project, which purports to be nothing less than a history of the 20th century, a work akin to Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project and Godard's Histoires du Cinema. Something about the date got me there. I also have this weird feeling that the dream of the 21th century was dreamt in the year 1988. (strange intuition.) Alan Moore, in the graphic novel From Hell theorizes that the 20th century was born in the year 1888, the year of the Jack the Ripper murders and a host of other developments-- one hundred years later, the awakening moment must be the year 1988. If I am not wrong, it was the year Kamal Swaroop's film Om-dar-b-dar was made. Some magic... 'Our planet is on a collision course with something that we, at our present state of knowledge, don't have a word for. A black hole is simply a gravitationally massive object, so massive that no light can leave it. What I'm talking about is something like that, except that it isn't so much gravitationally massive as temporally massive. We are soon to be sucked into the body of eternity. My model points to 11:18 am, Greenwich Mean Time, December 21, 2012 AD. ' ~Terence McKenna The year 2012 arrived at by McKenna is supposed to correspond to the cosmogony of the Mayan calender.


[28/08/2005 16:18:09] SRFTI Strike-Finally after 4 years at the film institute there's a strike by students. [31/08/2005 20:56:46] strike continues-Already a week of strike-- in between read some books. Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere --very good-- written like a movie script. Protagonist chooses the fantasy, and leaves the reality vs fantasy question dangling between doors. Samuel Delany's Babel-17. Weird SF from 60s where space opera is excuse to talk about the raging intellectual debate of the day- the workings of language. For example there is the idea of a language which doesnt have personal pronouns like 'I', 'you' 'me', 'myself' etc... can the self be erased by removing the word for it? Micheal Moorcock's Multiverse. Vertigo comics graphic novel. Good fantasy but too much useless symbolism about the war between the forces of law and chaos. These words are substituted for 'good and evil'- not so great artwork. Very confusing spaceship designs. Alan Moore's America's Best Comics. Great opening salvo introducing the new series started by Alan Moore in direct challenge to the megalithic comics publisher DC. After he opted out of DC he started this. Very smart humour. Neither spoofy, like MAD, nor boringly action oriented like much of DC 's super hero series, this is the genuine 'posthuman art' for the new century.


[07/09/2005 13:48:14] the future-Is there an idea of the future in Indian philosophy? What is the place of the 'now'? Is it possible to conceive of an Indian science fiction? If the 'future is now', how can we conceive of the 'nowplace' without getting trapped by the idea of 'all time is present'. Kamal Swaroop says that the 'future' is a vulgarity. It is an unfulfilled promise and therefore vulgar, because it is a delusion. Yet at the same time, desire springs from the promise. And how can we negate the desire? For us, is the Buddhist idea of samadhi an idea of the future? If we look at time as a cyclical concept, past and future dont exist except as a return (Nietzsche's 'eternal return'.) But in Hindu philosophy, I think there is an unfair bent towards the past. All past moments are simultaneous, but there is no future to speak of. There is astrology of course, but astrology does not have a concept of the future because it is individualistic. It is psychoanalytic. An idea of the future has to include 'everything'. It is strange that we talk of remembering past lives, but not the future lives. I am still trying to grapple with the question of why cant Hindu philosophy imagine the space of the future-- or of alternate pasts, or alternate nows. [16/09/2005 12:55:42] The Orphic Egg


[16/09/2005 16:28:14] Alka and Bharath in Delhi-In Delhi for a week at Alka's place. Ate lots of Bihari food. Really lots! Meanwhile PSBT Festival where hardly any PSBT films were there. Many war/disaster documentaries. Rwandan disaster, Congo disaster, Vietnam disaster, Afghanistan disaster. They were good. All the disasters were perpetrated by the West, mainly, America. Media Jihad was a good doc, made by Japanese, who as usual, are really interested in technology, and how the Jihadists use the uber-tech of the moment, Internet and Digital Video. So they track down the studios where Jihadist videos are made. Some nice clippings-- especially one where this guy goes into the battlefield with his DV camera and shoots Mujahiddeen in action in Night Vision Mode, and makes them into CDs overnight and the next day they are on the market! I liked the sound of his breath in the battlefield and the battle cries of 'allah hu akbar'. This is pure snuff movie territory-somehow reminded me of Mysore Mallige, the amateur Indian porn video. That too was shot in Night Vision mode. There was also stuff about how Americans are trying to shut down Jihadi websites. The judgement at the end of the film is that America just doesnt know how to handle its own propaganda and that the Jihadis are supercool about using the latest tech and they sure know how to propagandise. You watch the movie and come outside thinking what a bitch America is and you see that in the conference hall opposite, there is a seminar by the Govt Dept of IT on Cyber Security. This is in collaboration with the US Intelligence Agencies. The Weather Underground was a moving doc on these middle class white revolutionaries in 60s America who sympathized with Black movements and third world movements and wanted to do their bit. Cool thing is they bombed all these public buildings, got Timothy Leary escape from jail, and they were never caught. They just surrendered one day. It was a bunch of 5-6 anarchists. I somehow feel that the FBI didnt want to catch them simply because they were white. But anyway that reminded me of the naxalites, and how they were middle class Bengalis and Mallus and how they were wiped out. I guess our generation needs to know the whole story of Charu Mazumdar and gang and how the Jadavpur Uni. VC was murdered and how 500 (?) guys were shot dead in the Maidan in Kolkata, and how a handful of students with guns held the Jadavpur Hostel campus for three days against the Police, until they were shot dead. I have just heard these stories and they already feel like legends. There is a film here... Anyway, we were to meet Jaipal Reddy, the Information & Broadcasting minister which didnt happen for the obvious reasons. The strike in SRFTI was getting loose and I


guess by now it is a dead strike. We had lunch rubbing shoulders with all these great 'Masters', Shyam Benegal (who was talking about Nehru, as usual, to an inquisitive Delhi pseudo), Adoor (who was eating strawberry ice cream, and not talking.) Jaipal Reddy and his cronies were on one side. (and who is Paranjoy Guha Thakurta? He seems to pop up in almost any kind of debate, be it on patenting of rice or sex in Bollywood.) Rajiv Mehrotra, the Commissioning Editor of PSBT played perfect host. Me and Alka kept bumming Four Square cigarettes from Priya between talking of morality in media and loss of family values and sex in the newspapers with a concerned mother Beena Pandya. So that was the Delhi trip-- the end. [17/09/2005 08:30:37] a magickal dream and one interesting coincidence-When in Delhi in Alka's house I had been reading about magic. One dream I had is some sort of magical allegory. I am in a house and then the house starts to fly vertically up in the sky. I exclaim that the house has turned into a rocket. So it has. As the house shoots up above the clouds, I see another rocket at a distance similarly going up, leaving a white trail of gas. Then I see the moon in the clear blue sky getting bigger and bigger and I think that I am really going to reach the moon. Then all of a sudden between the clouds, there is a flyover-like road and I am running. It is fogged on the end of the road so I cant see. As I run, I notice some guys at the far end doing something. Slowly I realize that I am running the same length of the flyover again and again, and the guys are repeating the same activity in a loop. Then I see the other rocket nose down heading for earth. [20/09/2005 19:21:06] Auroville, backache-A car trip with family-- decided this time we would check out all these huge Shiva temples in the heart of Tamil Nadu. It seems the Chola kings were really big Shiva fans, and of course great patrons of dance and music. It shows in Tamil films even now. First we went to Pondicherry Shaivite temples and


and visited Auroville, which is really a bizarre place. After Aurobindo died, his superfan, a French Indophile known only as 'Mother', came up with the idea of an ideal futuristic community with a whole lot of millennial zeal in order to create a place where no nation has hold and where everyone can realize the 'Divine Consciousness'. I still cant figure what an ideal commune has to do with Aurobindo even though it has a lot to do western modernity, which is why she got Roger Anger, a disciple of famous urban planner LeCorbusier to design the ideal city, which is straight out of an SF novel. The vision is of a spiral galaxy, complete with 'Lines of Force', at the centre of which is the 'Matri Mandir', a spherical thing like a kitschy 60s spaceship from Barbarella. Inside is a space fully white from floor to ceiling and has a crystal ball in the centre. All this is some mishmash from the esoteric magic and alchemy traditions and tantra and Zen Buddhism. Aurobindo, however is a wholly different matter. He figured out magic, for one. But basically, he was a modern theologian trying to find analogies in different theological systems. Some interesting connections (after reading From Hell, by Alan Moore.) Aurobindo was in London as a 16 year old when the Jack the Ripper murders happened from 1888 August onwards. M. K. Gandhi arrived in London in September the same year to study law as a 19 year old. It is interesting to compare Gandhi's and Aurobindo's lives and philosophies because both were contemporaries (Gandhi was born in 1869, October 2nd and Aurobindo in 1872, August 15th, which is also my birthday.) But most importantly one can compare their understanding and reaction to modernity. They are like two sides of a coin. Aurobindo started off as a revolutionary, Gandhi as a pacifist. Eventually, both became spiritual gurus trapped in Hindu abstract philosophy. [23/09/2005 20:28:16] Vaishnavism vs Shaivism-OK, I admit I dont know so much of the history of Hindu religion, but here's some speculation. It is that the culture war in Hinduism is the war between Shaivite and


Vaishnavite tendencies. It is the fight between Shiva and Vishnu personalities. Shaivism reached its height during the 10th to 13th centuries, during the rule of the Chola kings over much of south India. The famous Nataraja pose became a cult icon during that time. But the interesting thing is that the pose was actually invented by the Kashmiri Shaivites. Abhinavagupta wrote this treatise on dance where that was first figured out. A Vaishnavite revival happened when Ramanujacharya started a movement and converted a lot of Jains into Vishnu bakhts. These guys were persecuted during the Chola time. Shiva is the god of entertainment, of dance, music and the erotic arts. Vishnu is the lord of luxury and wealth. Vishnu is aristocratic (he is always reclining on his snake bed and Lakshmi who is again the goddess of wealth, is massaging his feet in many iconic images.) Shiva is not into luxury, but he sure loves lovemaking. The fact is that there is NO relation between luxury/wealth and entertainment. A poor man 'enjoys' a dance or sex or music as much as a rich man. Shiva is a magician. He uses magic to create beauty and knowledge. One of his sons is Ganesha, lord of wisdom. But Shiva is also short tempered. You cant fuck around with him when he is having fun or doing magic (as in meditating.) But Vishnu is like the 'shaukeen', a connoisseur. He loves eating and generally being a patron of the arts. He himself would not DO the dance, like Shiva, who's really the master of dancing.

In one dance competition with Parvati, his earring fell off, and he used it to show off his prowess by lifting the earring by his toes and pinning it back on his ear, all the while dancing. Parvati lost the competition. She couldnt do acrobatics like that! And so Shiva's pose while wearing the earring is immortalized in numerous bronze sculptures.


(my hunch is that even bronze casting was perfected by the Kashmiri Shaivites.) The Shiva temples are full of super sexy sculptures of dancing women and goddesses and erotic images, while the Vishnu temple at Srirangam had no images of sexy women. It was all only images of devotees. The Brihadeeshwara temple at Thanjavur is awesome. It was the crowning achievement of the Cholas. It is a representation of the entire cosmos in stone! Strangely, one of the sculptures in the temple is of a man wearing a hat and a coat! Nobody's been able to figure that one out. The Shaivite celebration of entertainment is evident in today's Tamil films, where dance and music are the ultimate thing and is a hundred times better than Bollywood. Even the way Rajinikant poses is EXACTLY like Shiva posing against the bull in the background. The Shaivites knew everything about magic. They knew the secret of consciousness. In the Shiva temple at Chidambaram, when you look at the idol of Shiva (over here they have an idol instead of a linga), the priest will tell you the 'chidambaram secret'. That is, he will ask you to look at the idol and perceive the 'formlessness of the form', which is the secret! (the priest spoke a thick accented Brahmin Tamil which I couldnt understand.) Shaivism has since declined. Vaishnavism rules since the 15th century till now. They are the scientists and mathematicians and the IIT professors. You cant be a Shaivite and a rational scientist. When we visited these temples, the Shiva temples had very few visitors compared to the Vishnu ones. Tirupati, a Vishnu temple, is the most popular in the country. Ekta Kapoor is Vaishavite (Balaji Telefilms.) So paradoxically, Vaishavism rules in entertainment. It is all about wealth and luxury and making more and more money. Shiva is about mind (entertainment is all in the head.) Vishnu is about matter (paisa, dhanda, vasooli.) The Hindi film industry has more Vaishavite tendencies--Ekta Kapoor, Sooraj Barjatya, Karan Johar. Ram Gopal Varma (is there anyone else?) has Shiva tendencies. Incidentally, RGV's first film was called Shiva. [24/09/2005 09:22:34] Pain-Separation is the cause of pain. So to remove pain, an alchemy of unification is required. That is the Great Work of all the alchemists of the ages. Now, if the first being was the Androgyne, then the first and original separation is the division of man and woman. Then the separation of woman and child. But it may be that the separation of Self and Other is the biggest separation of all.


[24/09/2005 11:46:22] Nietzsche in 1888-In the year 1888, when Aurobindo and Gandhi were in London and when the Jack the Ripper murders were happening and when Hitler was conceived, the philosopher Nietzsche was at his most prolific and published the maximum amount of work in his life. The next year he had his breakdown. Here is the list of the works published in 1888-Der Fall Wagner, 1888 (The Case of Wagner) Götzen-Dämmerung, 1888 (Twilight of the Idols) Nietzsche contra Wagner, 1888 Der Antichrist, 1888 (The Antichrist) Ecce Homo, 1888 ('Behold the man', an attempt at autobiography; the title refers to Pontius Pilate's statement upon meeting Jesus Christ and possibly to Bonaparte's upon meeting Goethe: Voilà un homme!) [29/09/2005 10:36:59] Downloading-Its amazing what a whole lot of stuff is available on the Net for downloading-- rare experimental films, great comix, rare sound interviews, even novels, both latest and old. Just now downloaded John Huston's World War 2 propaganda newsreel. The US. Govt had in those days decided not to show it because it was too realistic! Also downloaded Beckett's infamous film with Buster Keaton called (what else) Film! Also downloading Betty Boop cartoons from the 1910s, b&w. Betty Boop is a unique character in animation history. She's like a 'child-sex-siren', and always her clothes seem to keep falling off her, but of course she pulls them up at the last minute. She keeps getting in trouble with all kinds of lecherous males. Weird combo of cuteness and sauciness-- supposedly created to titillate male desires, but somehow the character is such that it kind of backfires on the audience. recent books read-The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin. The high priestess of SFF wrote this in the mid 70s. Chapters start wit quotes from Tao. SF writers are majorly into Eastern mysticism, all of them. This one's about a man whose dreams can actually alter reality, and one psychiatrist (read mad scientist) tries to control his dreams with negative results.


The dreamer's girlfriend keeps disappearing and reappearing because of the reality shifts. Finally they get together and have coffee. Whats with ending with a cup of coffee?? I read two Philip K. Dick novels where it ends with the main couple having coffee. (Its the American thing to do I guess.) The psychiatrist finally goes mad and aliens are integrated into human society, though nobody understands them. However, the aliens understand dreams. Its really a short story, with just three main characters. Lies Inc. by Philip K. Dick. Great novel about information paranoia disguised as space travel story. I think that a lot of interesting SF is about creating resonating structures where contemporary issues rub against narrative protocols and interesting results ensue. Most good SF is kind of a meta-narrative. Here there's a guy who suspects that media is being manipulated on earth. Humans have colonized a new planet and at the same time invented a teleportation machine, supposedly only one way. To solve the overpopulation problem on earth the Govt. presents the planet as a utopia and urges earthlings to emigrate by teleportation. But the truth is of course something else and this guy tries to find out. The end is like he's this reluctant rebel and an intergalactic war begins. The Philosophy of Magic. Arthur Versluis. Nice intro on magic and alchemy and its analogies in different religions all over the world. 'Know Thyself' 'as above, so below' 'form is emptiness' [08/10/2005 15:44:46] Aleister Crowley and Darjeeling-In May 1905, Aleister Crowley was approached by Dr Jules Jacot-Guillarmod (1868-1925) to accompany him on the first expedition to Kanchenjunga, the third largest mountain in the world. Guillarmod was left to organise the personnel while Crowley left to get things ready in Darjeeling. On July 31 Guillarmod joined Crowley in Darjeeling, bringing with him two countrymen, Charles-Adolphe Reymond and Alexis Pache. Meanwhile, Crowley had recruited a local man, Alcesti C. Rigo de Righi, to act as Transport Manager. The team left Darjeeling on August 8, 1905, and used the Singalila Ridge approach to Kangchenjunga. At Chabanjong they ran into the rear of the 135 coolies who had been sent ahead on July 24 and July 25, who were carrying food rations for the team. The trek was led by Aleister Crowley, but four members of that party were killed in an avalanche. Some claims say they reached around 21,300 feet before turning


back, however Crowley's autobiography claims they reached about 25,000 feet. On July 21st, 2005, exactly hundred years later, Alka and me went to Darjeeling for the first time after living four years in Kolkata trying to figure out movies in a hellhole cursed by the Charminar smoking ghost of one Mr. Satyajit Ray who is the namesake for the government run film school. We really enjoyed the trip. The reason this sort of correspondence leaves a wry smile on my face is that I've been reading about magic and alchemy systems, and especially Aleister Crowley, who's THE magus of the 20th century. Alan Moore is a lot into magic. Reading his comics got me into Kabbalah (the AMAZING comic series Promethea is all about Kabbalistic/Crowleyan magic) and much of the esoteric magical systems of Europe. [11/10/2005 15:03:40] chaos magic-Last night Alka was browsing the web and she wanted to show me a site about automatic writing. But accidentally on the Google Search toolbar she typed 'aromatic writing'. Excited at the psychic slip, we decided to search that instead, and the first few links were all about the chemical benzene. The association through which Google brought benzene up is that benzene is an 'aromatic hydrocarbon'. Now we checked up benzene on wikipedia and found that it was discovered by Micheal Faraday. The structure of benzene was a major scientific puzzle of the day until the chemist Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz one night dreamt of a serpent eating its own tail. He got up the next morning and figured the structure out, helped by the image of the serpent eating its own tail. This might be a legend but it was in my school science textbook that I read it first. Now the image of the serpent eating its own tail is a major symbol in alchemy. The emblem of the Theosophical Society has it. The name for it is the 'Ouroboros' and it appears in many contemporary science fiction novels, comics etc. It is a purifying sigil refering to the circular nature of things. Carl Jung also defined the relationship of the ouruboros to alchemy: 'The alchemists, who in their own way knew more about the nature of the individuation process than we moderns do, expressed this paradox through the symbol of the uroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. In the age-old image of the uroboros lies the thought of devouring oneself and turning oneself into a circulatory process, for it was clear to the


more astute alchemists that the prima materia of the art was man himself. The uroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, I.e. of the shadow. This 'feed-back' process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the uroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilises himself and gives birth to himself. He symbolises the One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites, and he therefore constitutes the secret of the prima materia which [...] unquestionably stems from man's unconscious'. (Collected Works, Vol. 14 para.513)

[15/10/2005 20:19:31] Promethea-I was reading Alan Moore's great comic series Promethea today and in issue 5 teenager Sophie Bangs, closet lesbian and future Promethea and her friend Stacia (actually shes's the closet lesbian!), are researching on Promethea. They look up the Internet and and find many links to the word Promethea. One of them is a a book by French lesbian feminist Helene Cixous called The Book of Promethea. It is about the idea of love. Promethea is an ideal female lover character and a woman, a 'heroine of infinity' summoned from the writer's imagination. I am reading this comic on the computer, (downloaded via BitTorrent) and I also decide to search the web about Promethea, just like the characters did. I get the same results as in the comic! So I check out Google Print's site of The Book of Promethea and I am reading excerpts from that book, which is a real book and Helene Cixous is a real person and at the same time reading a comic book where these characters are also searching the web and reading Helene Cixous's book. To add to the eeriness, in the last issue of Promethea (no. 32, corresponding to the 32 paths of wisdom of the Kabbalah), Alan Moore says that he didnt know that this book existed while he was creating the Promethea character, who is a 'heroine of the Imagination', the Queen of Immaterial World, the original magician, Imagination herself. There's something about magical correspondences. When you experience things like this, you know that that the Imagination is as REAL as anything else. There is also a strange site ( which is some guy wanting to start a community of 'Prometheans' wanting to change the world based on self-interest and selfexpression. There's another site which is a personal site of an AfricanAmerican woman poet who has the flowery name of R. Flowers Riviera.


[17/10/2005 22:30:23] moving images-Two of my favourite filmmakers are Alan Moore and W.G.Sebald, and they are both not filmmakers. To me, there is truth in that statement because both of their works (comics and novels, respectively) incorporates the IDEA of the 'moving image'. There is motion and the narrative is a motion of images 'woven' together. That is not to say that words are like shots and scenes are like sentences and all that. It is not a literal correspondence, but a symbolic correspondence. The writing is such that it as visceral as the best of cinema, it imprints the mind with flickering images and sounds. The best writing, or the best art itself is totally synaesthetic, it involves all of the senses simultaneously, and the cinema symbolizes that. [17/10/2005 22:35:57] All men, in the end, what do we seek to become? the ultimate female! [19/10/2005 01:28:06] on sight-I was talking to Alka on the phone and she was telling me about a discussion they were having about sight and perceiving foreground, background and how the camera eye is different from the human eye. I was then thinking, how about looking at it from the point of view of invisibility? There's a nice passage from The Philosophy of Magic by Arthur Versluis which talks about seeing and invisibility in a totally different way. Its got to do with the ego, 'habit energy', thats our 'aura' surrounding us, or as Rupert Sheldrake would put it 'morphic fields'. He says that first of all seeing is recognizing. So without recognizing there's no seeing. Then he says that we recognize someone through the sensations of the habit energy thats emanated. A person or thing is made 'visible', that is 'recognizable', depending on the auratic energy that we can sense. We recognize a tree being THAT tree only after the habit of seeing trees as trees and the more this habit energy accumulates, the more visible that tree becomes. So as a corollary to this, you might be technically seeing things, but they'll still be invisible to you because you dont recognize it. Hypnotists and magicians have for a long time taken advantage of this phenomenon. You can for a moment forget that a tree is a tree, and it will disappear in front of your eyes. But this could also be purely an effect of language...


[20/10/2005 15:28:02] more 1888 correspondences-In the year 1888, when Gandhi left for London, and Aurobindo was there studying, and Jack the Ripper was murdering, and Nicholas Tesla was figuring the electric motor, and Van Gogh was painting at Arles, the year when all over the world there was fear that the apocalypse was about to happen, in that year, D. G. Phalke was in Baroda learning photography and art and magic. [20/10/2005 23:40:02] A titbit of comic book history-In 1754, Benjamin Franklin created the first editorial cartoon published in an American newspaper. Franklin's cartoon was an illustration of a snake with a severed head and had the printed words 'Join, or Die.' The cartoon was intended to goad the different colonies into joining what was to become the United States. Interesting. because Benjamin Franklin was a Free Mason, a Grand Master in the secret order. His parents family was from Northampton, the place Alan Moore, the great comics writer, comes from. His harnessing of lightning in the famous kite flying experiment was certainly read by Franklin as an occult ritual which led to the establishment of the United States. [21/10/2005 00:54:50] guilty pleasures-Hollywood entertainment, some of them commercial flops, that I really love-Other People's Money (1991) Norman Jewison. Nobody would have even heard of this movie! I saw this late one night in 1999 in Baroda on VHS, twice, back-to-back! I still cant figure why I liked it so much at that time. The Saint (1997) I saw this film 7 times in a row in a Baroda theatre. once everyday! It has the dubious distinction of Val Kilmer , the star of the film getting the worst actor award and it was a really hated movie. But I loved the secret society Templar connection and the Elizabeth Shue and the whole comic book feel and the still amazing soundtrack. Director Philp Noyce got the cutting edge music of the period (Chemical Bros, etc.) It was a romantic film. Robocop. (1987) Paul Verhoevan . This is the first film I saw in a theatre in Coimbatore without family. I was 11 years old and I went with my tennis coach who I admired


greatly. Total Recall.(1990) Paul Verhoeven. I saw this just a few days ago because I really love Philip K. Dick's work, on whose short story this is based. Paul Verhoeven is one of my favourite filmmakers. He makes trash seem so exciting and intellectual! Speed. (1994.)Jan de Bont. For the first time, Indians were seeing an action thriller that was so full of..uh..well.. speed! I saw it many times in the theatre. Once I rode my cycle with real speed just to catch up with the show. Terminator 2 Judgement Day. Just goes to prove that everyone likes a really good fantasy/science fiction. Even 7-8 year old Indian kids loved it, I remember. Starship Troopers (1997.) Paul Verhoeven. Something about the way he sensationalizes sexuality I really like. He has a weakness for blondes, like Hitchcock. It is based on Robert Heinlein's SF novel from the year 1959. It is still a very controversial novel, accused as encouraging fascism. [22/10/2005 01:13:02] aeromodelling as magical symbolism-Its been one year since I started this blog. Today I was just thinking about aeromodelling as to why I find it so fascinating and where does the desire lie. A few days ago I visited an aeromodeller's paradise. Prakash, a fellow aeromodeller, a TTE in the Railways by profession, and someone I respect highly, has got a chance to build and fly a lot of really cool models in the possession of Coimbatore industrialist G.D.Gopal. That family is one of the pioneering industrialist families out here. G.D.Naidu, his father, was one of the visionaries in setting up the automotive parts industry. His obsession with automobiles is what has trickled down in recent years to Karivardhan, another Naidu industrialist who built the Indian motor sport industry and then to Narain Karthikeyan,


the F1 driver. G.D.Gopal employed Prakash in his spare time to take care of his aeromodels. I was thinking about this fascination with building miniature airplanes and it occurred to me that magical symbolism might be the answer (since I'm heavily into magic these days, I feel like explaining everything in terms of magic.) The excitement for me in making and flying aeromodels is the thrill of seeing that thing fly, under my control. It was not so much about me wanting to physically fly, but just to see that model fly. My explanation as it occurred to me today is that it is a form of symbolic magic. Though I am standing there on the ground, symbolically it is me who's flying. That model there is a transmutation of my Self, and when it goes high up in the air, it is my Self that is going up into the higher realms. I guess I must have got the thrill because of that. The important thing here is that the thrill is totally in the MIND. It is mental projection, its 'travelling without moving', its what the yogis do! (or so I kid myself), its sympathetic magic. I remember when I was in 9th std, I had made a glider (called 'Gnome', a magical name) and I used to give it a little kiss before launching it and of course inevitably while landing, it used to hit something, and the pain felt real to me. And I enjoyed it, the pain, I mean.

[22/10/2005 01:17:02] more guilty pleasures-I forgot to add one more film, Full Metal Jacket, by Stanley Kubrick. Still for me one of the great movies about war, after The Big Red One. I'm sure nobody will agree with this. But the film became so personal to me because it portrayed so rawly the kind of emotions I'm familiar with in Sainik School, the boarding school where I spent five adolescent years, and which has marked me for life. [24/10/2005 10:59:17] In Bangalore since the last two days. Almost missing the comp at home! Anyway breaks from incessant downloading is welcome. Tomorrow shooting on PD170 with Kamal. Havent used the camera in a long time, so a little jittery. But I'll get used to it after initial hiccups. Just make sure the check list is done before shoot.


[08/11/2005 21:32:06] Pune-Shoot is over and finally back to blog. Lots to write about. Need to collect the experience. Tomorrow going to Mumbai-- will check DV camera prices. Everybody is telling me to buy a HDV camera. But I'm not so sure. This whole thing about 'image quality' is a vicious circle. Its driving me nuts! At a time when MTV has already appropriated the 'dirty look' of the old experimental films made on low-tech cheap cameras because the experimental artists were very poor, what sense does it make now to talk about image quality? I'm sick of images. Lets just have 'remembrance'. [10/11/2005 11:49:45] Bombay-In Bombay after 2 years-- at Priya's place, a house with a view. [10/11/2005 12:18:23] two lost books-Two weeks ago on the phone from Berlin, where Alka had gone on an exchange program, she told me she had lost her brand new Neil Gaiman novel Anansi Boys at Frankfurt airport. Yesterday, I was reading Neil Gaiman's earlier novel American Gods on the bus from Pune. We got down from the bus at Goregaon, and just as the bus left I realized that the book was still on the seat. This is the first time I have lost a book. Two lost books, both by Neil Gaiman, in the space of two weeks, while travelling. [10/11/2005 12:21:39] motto of the moment-DO YOUR OWN TIME. [14/11/2005 12:38:08] Bombay-- City of no money-When I am in Bombay I dont feel like I'm in Bombay. I get lost in the details and fall into a deep trance (which is why I lost American Gods in the bus.) I tend to look at the


skyline over the highway and say, 'hey, this looks just like Bombay!' So I am never there. The real Bombay can never match up to its mental projection, or its virtuality. In the auto rickshaw, while going from Goregaon to Vile Parle, on the highway, there was an upturned van, badly smashed. The auto rickshaw driver told me that that particular area was cursed. Many years ago a cop was killed there in an accident and ever since then there's one accident there almost every month! I told this to Priya and she told me that she herself had a totally freak accident in an auto on the highway at 5 in the morning while the road was almost empty. The rickshaw driver also told me a personal story. Once around 12 years ago, late at night a couple got into his vehicle and asked him to drive to Juhu and told him not to disturb them until they reached Juhu. So he drove and didnt hear a single noise from them throughout. When he reached Juhu he turned back to ask where to stop and he didnt find them there. He added that he hadnt stopped the auto anywhere during the journey. We decided that Bombay is full of spirits whose thirsts are still not quenched. In Bombay, money has no value. You cannot save money in Bombay. It has to flow. Time is excreted by money. Money only produces a 'waste of time', which is the only luxury in Bombay. The traffic jam, in this sense is a luxury. Only rich people in cars can afford it. While enjoying a traffic jam in the auto to Kurla terminus, I noticed couples in cars reclining in cushions and drinking and talking, while exhaust fumes flowed over the shiny black metal of the cars. Sometimes that luxury could be your undoing when you see what happened to some unfortunate souls who got caught in the floods and thought of spending the time inside the car. The electronic doors got jammed and they asphyxiated and died. Time is a killer. [14/11/2005 17:48:46] music military mythology memory magic mind matter mimicry money movement mystic-In Dharwad met a magician named Saraswati. She's an Italian who came to India, after listening to Ravi Shankar's sitar, on a spiritual quest and found a guru among the 'Veera Shaiva' community whom she married. He died leaving land and three children, one of whom is named Aranya, meaning Forest, who plays the sitar very well and is the subject of a documentary by KS. It felt good to be in a part of Karnataka I have never been before. Amazing Deccan landscape, undulating hills, and sunflower fields. Also went to Shogal, headquarters of a Veera Shaiva community of yogis who meditated in caves cut into the hill. We went inside a natural cave inside a house which itself was a


cave, where Saraswati used to live with her sadhu husband. Her father was a violin player near Venice, and it seems was one of the few who could play Paganini. Hindu mysticism is very attractive to weary Europeans. In Pune met Amit Dutta, and the first thing he told me was that he reads my blog, thanks to active promotion by KS. (Amit will smile when he reads this and the blog comes full circle.) FTII is a happening place right now, with all the heavyweights coming to teach there, and a healthy mix of good looking girls to keep the males busy when not engaged in killing each other. Met Baiju, who's the same since Baroda. A feelgood reunion after many years. Sat beneath the famed 'wisdom tree' and glimpsed Rahul Dasgupta from a distance. Rahul is a legendary alumni of FTII, and iconic victim of its ideological confusion. Basically I felt like I was doing darshan at a holy temple of cinema. There's something quaintly religious about FTII. The ascending road inside the campus is just like going up the mountain to the temple in pilgrimage. They all said I should have been in FTII, but I only feel thankful that I am not part of that spiritual asylum for cinema fanatics. [16/11/2005 10:42:33] I have written only 3 short stories in my life so far, all of which I wrote in 2000. Reading them today, I realize that time has given it a strange quality. Here is the first of them. WHAT THE STARS FORETELL Z was standing in front of Goleden Bakery & T-stall. He had to smoke, so he got himself a Wills and one T. Wills was in right hand and T was in the left. There was smoke curling out of both of them. He was still standing, slightly on one leg, just like maybe Karthik in 'Agni Natchatram' or Rajini in any film. It was a regular evening on a regular day. Goleden Bakery was where he came for T and snacks. He pursed his lips a little. Looked around. All workers chatting after a day's work. Took a drag and then a sip. His hair danced in the breeze, flies sat on his toes, sun gleamed on his face, clouds glided above. A smell of boiling oil and onion bajjis. Everything is important. The way you stand, walk, sit, worry, look at Girls, scratch your balls, the movement of the stomach while breathing etc. So, he was standing and smoking and sipping T but what he didn't know was that with every breath of his, nineteen babies were being instantly born in different parts of the world. Or that with every little movement of his eyeballs, the stars were being repositioned in the universe. Or that with every unconscious erection of his


penis, there were 786 new converts to Christianity in Ethiopia. He didn't know this. That's why I say that everything is important. The smallest details could change the universe. Now he suddenly got the idea of having a palzhampuri to go with the T. Of course the stars had to hastily realign again. One star from the Orion got swapped for the unnecessary one in the Leo. This meant that the destinies of millions of Leos around the world would take a turn for the worse. Married Leos would have the toughest time, I later found out. The palzhampuri was yet to be fried, so he had to wait for some more time. Meanwhile, the cigarette had been smoked by half. It is important to know where every bit of ash fell, because that was greatly influencing the wind patterns in the Black sea area, where the Russian President was at present camping in order to monitor troop movements in the war effort to invade the former Eastern Bloc countries. But of the wind in Goleden Bakery, no one could say anything. A sudden gush caused the last bit of ashes to fall right into the T, which z took another sip from. This was the reason, some astrologers say, and rightly, for the historical Catastrophe of the Black Sea, where huge stormy winds and rain caused widespread damage to the Russian fleet, which was just getting ready to launch a missile attack. This incident gave time to the Allied Forces stationed in Poland (where the weather was just right for war) to counter-attack. He had a funny way of smoking and having T. Since he suffered from asthma, smoking was actually out-of-bounds for him, but he was still at it whenever he had T. That was because the hot T kind of prepared his throat and lungs to take in the poisonous smoke. So he had to make sure that he smoked when his throat was hot from the just sipped T. This caused some awkward body movements in coordination of T and smoke. Some say these movements are the cause for the Indian cricket team's wavering fortunes. Presently he finished his cigarette. z's right hand was now empty, since the cigarette butt had been thrown into the gutter nearby and seventeen car bombs planted in various areas of Jerusalem by Palestinian extremists failed to explode. With his last sip of the T (total no. of sips=18), the fate of five million Danaus Chrysippus butterflies is sealed. Meanwhile the palzhampuri is hot and ready-to-eat. Millions of small and large events are created or altered as he bites into it. Even the way he chews the pieces, like allowing the sweet and soft banana of the palzhampuri to slide to the right side of the mouth and causing the glands there to secrete more saliva. This action momentarily induced suicidal tendencies in Fidel Castro, ruler of Cuba. But tragedy was averted only because z's saliva secretion was not high enough. After eating the stuff, which took hardly five minutes (but millions of years in universal time to allow for planetary readjustments), z decided to go back home in the Kinetic he had come in. It was 7.45 pm. While turning at the flyover, he was hit by a truck from the opposite direction. He died on the spot due to brain haemorrhage.


[16/11/2005 13:44:43] Gold-I like to think I have some weird talismanic relationship with the number 21. Of late I have begun to think that I share a similar mystical relationship with 'Gold' as in the idea of gold, and all its metaphorical associations. Yesterday I was watching Basic Instinct for the umpteenth time (its importance is consistently growing in my cinematic cosmology, the best movie about the erotic ever!) and I realized that my eyes couldnt get off Sharon Stone's blonde hair. Paul Verhoeven deliberately foregrounds the back of her head every time he gets a chance. I have to confess I have a major blonde fetish. When I told KS this, he refered to the fairy tale as having these golden haired beauties. Goldilocks, Cinderella, Alice, all had golden hair. Of course they are the northern races from the land of snow. But then, Tilak had this theory that the Vedas actually originated from the Arctic peoples! Perhaps connected to this is the Nazi mythology of the golden haired Aryan race.(more research required here!) The golden haired fairies could also be the Gandharvas, celestial spirits, also whores. The whore is also the Mother, and the source of Understanding in some traditions (probably the Kabbalistic.) So anyway, the blonde connection in movie mythology is huge. The man who fetishized it in the cinema was Hitchcock of course, Vertigo being the ultimate blonde hair film, with the film's spiral motif done into the hairstyle also. From there we get the blonde/brunette dialectic explored further by Lynch in Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive and by Verhoeven in Basic Instinct. Wong Kar Wai has this blonde wig in Chungking Express, which was apparently a reference to the blonde haired Gena Rowlands, actor, wife and muse of the great John Cassavetes. Even Bunuel had his blonde fetish, as seen in his casting of superbly blonde actresses. And then, his first feature was called The Age of Gold, which was my reference for the student documentary I did called Gold Factory, which was explicitly about the gold/shit/gift relationship. (The child's first gift is his shit.) Turning shit into gold is what alchemy is all about and the idea is explored in an allegorical way in the 'Gold Watch' episode in Tarantino's brilliant Pulp Fiction. 'Time is the gift, and the gift is death'. That one speech delivered amazingly by Christopher Walken contains a host of philosophical ideas. Gold symbolizes the purification of the soul in alchemy and it is the highest human realm in the Kabbalistic Sephiroth. It is the realm of gold (also beauty, truth, light) when man meets god. 'The golden light of enlightenment'. Gold is also the Sun, the ultimate giver, of energy and information. It is the Lion's hair, the symbol of the astrological sign of Leo, which I happen to be under. Finally Alka has golden hair, and her pet name is Goldie.


[16/11/2005 13:56:00] some aphorisms-1- As above, so below. 2- Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. 3- Know thyself. 4- We are not our bodies, thoughts or emotions. We are the being that has those things. 5- Angels know nothing of time. 6- Man walks through a forest of symbols. 7- The universe is not just, but it is precise. (thanks to Alan Moore and Aleister Crowley and the Kabbalah.) [16/11/2005 17:18:24] Got up this morning and the first thing my mother tells me is that last night my brother Siddharth served Bill Clinton and Richard Branson of 'Virgin' at the seafood restaurant he works in at Al Jumeirah hotel in Dubai. The word is that they spent 26000 Dirhams (that's 3,24000 Indian rupees) along with a 5000 Dirham (62000 Indian rupees) tip- thats more than the budget of my PSBT film! [16/11/2005 17:45:52] running nose-every year, during precisely the second week of November, I get a bloody cold and cough and feel feverish.


[16/11/2005 19:09:56] Once I asked Kamal Swaroop if there is a concept of the future or the apocalypse in Hindu philosophy. He said no. Since time is cyclic, there is no past and future. But I still wonder how they can talk of past lives then. Funny thing is nobody talks of the future lives. If there is no future and only past, then where we are talking from is the end of everything. In that case, the end of everything is the ever present 'now'. From the Hindu point of view, one is always at the end of everything. This idea perhaps is contained in the Vedanta, literally, the 'end of the Veda'. Perhaps Vedanta is the very idea of the apocalypse! This idea is given fillip from the fact that the director of the atomic bomb project, J. Robert Oppenheimer, a professed Vedantist, used a quote from the Gita, on the occasion of the first test explosion of the bomb.

If the radiance of a thousand suns Were to burst at once into the sky That would be like the splendor of the Mighty one... – Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, verse 12.

The Supreme Lord said: I am death, the mighty destroyer of the world, out to destroy. Even without your participation all the warriors standing arrayed in the opposing armies shall cease to exist. – Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, verse 32.


[16/11/2005 21:36:14] the waking dream-Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who only dream by night. – Edgar Allan Poe. [17/11/2005 13:05:19] more on Mysore Mallige-This whole Mysore Mallige thing gets more bizarre by the day. I was just checking the Net on it and came across 'desitorrents' website and found a whole long discussion forum on the movie. Its just so amazing how the movie has spawned a legend around it, and reading the discussion just confirmed the phenomenon. Endless speculation on the identities of the two and their relationships. It is close to becoming a new myth! It is strange how some stories and films invite the reader to into the fantasy and create a desire to live in and explore it and enlarge it. It happened with H.P.Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, where generations of readers have created more stories set in the same fantasy universe. Michel Houellebecq has analysed this in his new book on Lovecraft, called H.P.Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life. It also happened first with Sherlock Holmes, and even now, it is hard to believe that he was a fictional character. This urge to expand the mythos found recent expression in the novel The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes, a new Sherlock Holmes story by a Tibetan writer Jamyang Norbu. Now, about Mysore Mallige, there was a slanderous news report published in website in May 2002, which was cut and pasted in the forum in desitorrents. I in turn am cutting and pasting it here. Its funny that I am not able to access the website.
Amogh_Gulwady Dec 17 '04, 06:06 PM Believe it or faint, I found this vdo on a Paki porn site with the same storyline-girl, boy in college and all that shit, except with the setting replaced by LAHORE!!!!I was lmao!!!! :-D :-D They have only the juicy bits there for dling. I have one part where they talk and I thought it wasUrdu coz it was not audible properly. And then I stumbled upon this site to find the truth. To clear everyone's doubts once and for all: Mysore Mallige (The real news from the famous web site May 26 2002 Blue Film Racket In Engineering College Kodagu Girl Involved-An Awakening to all Parents SIDDAPUR, May.26: This is an extremely serious issue and is being published in the interests of all those parents in the district who send their children out to pursue higher studies. In fact the parents ought to know what their children are up to and should also learn to keep a strict tab and vigil on them. In the past there had been rumours regarding the circulation of blue films in the district with girls from


our very own district having acted in them. But all these just remained rumours as there no proof authentic enough to prove it. Here is a report that will go on to prove that the menace of blue films is very much prevalent in the district and our very own girls act in it. Parents send their children out to take up a professional course after spending lakhs of rupees but most he children go against their parents' wishes and in the end make sure that heir parents put their heads down in shame. Due to the advent of computers and technology, making a blue film has become so easy that even college going students have started producing them. A girl from a very reputed family in Siddapur who is studying in the third year at the Malnad Engineering college at Hassan along with Prithviraj a former student of this college have acted in this X rated film. The girl is the daughter of a doctor from Siddapur and is said to be brilliant in her academics. Prithviraj a resident of Kuvempunagar at Mysore is the son of the a well known architect, Ramappa. Both the girl and the boy are said to be seeing each other for the past many years and also had plans of getting married. Their affair had become the talk of the college and this couple very not one bit shy about their inhibitions. The sad truth about the whole thing is that their parents did not have clue as to what was going on and very unsuspectingly thought that their children were not coming home as they were busy with their studies. The shooting of the film: Prithviraj along with this girl was a regular at a Three Star hotel at Hassan, the place where this movie was shot. She agreed to all his conditions as he had promised to get married to her. Three months back, Prithviraj hit upon an idea to shoot a blue film along with this girl. He later booked a room at the same hotel and as per the information he had taken along with him a handy cam and stayed at the for three days, with the same girl. This newspaper can confidently say that the film was shot in Hassan as one shot in the film which is taken near the window of the hotel room shows a few buildings that belong to Hassan. During the movie the boy has provided evidence that he himself has shot the movie. In one frame when he is changing the angle of the camera he focuses on the mirror by mistake an this clearly shows Prithviraj holding the camera and shooting the girl. Here we cannot blame the boy entirely as the girl too has co-operated with him in the making of this movie. The way in which she responds to the camera is proof enough. Coorgy Sweety: After shooting the film Prthiviraj came down to Mysore and has made more copies of the CD. Being a computer freak he did not find it difficult to make more copies and later circulate them. At present around 15 thousand copies of the CD are in circulation in Mysore, Kodagu, Bangalore and Chamrajnagar. The information that was received here states that these CDs are in circulation in countries outside India also. The movie was initially released by the name Coorgi Sweety, but sensing trouble when the copies were brought down to Kodagu, the CD was renamed as Mysore Mallige. When this newspaper conducted a detailed enquiry we found that the cost of the CD was Rs 500. Although many persons had watched this CD in Kodagu, they did not publicise the issue. In fact there were a lot of murmurs and whispers about the film as a girl from Kodagu was involved in it. When the information reached this newspaper a detailed enquiry was conducted after we found out the name of the boy who had shot as well as acted in this film. Speaking to this newspaper he said that he had shot this film for his personal viewing and did not have any intention of circulating it. He also said that the copy which he shot had been misplaced and some other person had made more copies in order to circulate it. He also told us to forget about the issue as should not be making any difference and he was planning to get married to the girl. When the parents of the girl were contacted, they said that same thing and also added that some body was trying to blackmail their daughter. What is to be taken into consideration here is that the parents are unaware that their daughter had acted in an X rated movie and are under the impression that their daughter is being blackmailed as some person has got a photograph of their daughter standing along with her boy friend. At present the girl is at Mangalore and is staying with her aunt. She is totally oblivious to all the happenings in the district ever since she has left the place. As for Prithviraj, he is at Bangalore and is staying with his uncle who is a coach. All possible details have been given to the police about this case and is now their duty to arrest Prithviraj as quickly as possible. As for the parents who send their parents to colleges for studies, they should take care and also keep a strict vigil on their wards. Some parents have this habit of just washing off their hands the moment they send their parents to college. But this should not be the attitude as you never know what is happening and what is lying in store.


P.S.:Isnt it amazing how a real vdo with real ppl is 10 times more interesting than ordinary BPs?? :confused:

The crazy thing is I was in Bangalore recently and my cousin told me that he had heard that the couple was now married and settled in Australia! here it says that the guy is still in Bangalore. He had also told me that the couple were from Hassan, and the boy is the son of a PWD Officer. Here it says that he is the son of a 'well known architect'. Also, my cousin was pretty certain that the hotel is in Mysore, (since he did his college in Mysore) next to Chittaranjan palace, The Green Hotel.(strange that the hotel is called Green Hotel, because the video itself is filmed in the Night Vision mode which gives a totally green image.) But this article says the hotel is in Hassan. The discussion forum is totally hilarious, with speculation ranging from them being from Lahore to being Malayalees. To top all of that, (and this where the enlarging the mythology urge comes in), a guy named 'Bastaad', has made a Bastaad Edit which he calls Full & Final, where he has actually taken the pains to remove the green colouring and bring it to realistic colours. I am downloading the file right now! [17/11/2005 22:59:12] psychogeography-Psychogeography is supposed to be the study of the effects of the geographical environment on the behaviour and emotions of the individual. I feel it is from the idea that everything is connected, (which is also a magical idea) that this whole business starts. In that way, astrology is sort of a psychogeography too! On the other hand, it is also a really cool literary technique. Iain Sinclair's (one of Alan Moore's friend) novel London Orbital is a 'psychogeographical fiction'. The whole novel is a walk around one of London's outer highways and a meticulous record of the phenomenological experience, including history and memory the sights conjure up. Alan Moore himself uses the technique in making the free association magical performances which heavily rely on the place its performed, enhancing the ritualistic and auratic aspect. The Great Master of the psychogeographical approach is W.G.Sebald. His four novels are associations of memories and histories and emotions triggered during walks in space and time, with photographs adding to the eerie decaying and mourning feel. Actually this new term is pretty misleading. It is what the surrealists were doing anyway. Daniel Spoerri of the Fluxus group wrote a book called An Annotated Topography of Chance in 1966, where he tried to find meanings and associations and memories from the things lying on his table. The whole thing about a walk generating distraction and


sensation was what Walter Benjamin and Baudelaire talked about as 'flanerie' and his Arcades Project must be the mother of all psychogeography, nothing less than a history of the 20th century even before it had taken place, a history of the futurepast. It was Baudelaire who said that 'Man walks through a forest of symbols' . That could be slogan of all the psychogeographers. [19/11/2005 09:10:35] yet another little narrative written long ago-CHANCE AND THE COMMON MAN This is a true story. When B was a kid in CBE, he started to draw and the first thing he did was to copy RK Laxman's cartoons. His father, a middle-class Kannadiga man, encouraged him to do that and often laughed at his jokes that appeared everyday in Times of India. At that time, B wanted to be a cartoonist like RK Laxman. As he grew up, he wanted to be many things, chiefly among them a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force, but he got glasses, which disqualified him from even applying. He kept drawing and painting though. After school, he abruptly decided to take up art, against his father's wishes, who wanted him to enter IIT, just like he had done. However, B went to Baroda to study art. But there he got interested in movies and he decided he should movies. So he started watching them. In CBE, he used to watch them from a certain video shop owned by a J. J and he became acquaintances, and J had some experience in the media industry. When B was in his final year, he met R, who had joined the art school in Baroda that year. She was from Bombay. They fell in love. Through her, he met Usha, R's sister in Bombay. Usha was married. Later Usha and her husband shifted to Pune. B and R visited them in Pune. One day, there was a phone call at Usha's house. It turned out to be J, the video shop owner from CBE. (such are the coincidences.) He wanted to speak to Usha. Then Usha told B that she had once worked with him in Bangalore, where they were shooting a documentary on the Indian Air Force. Usha was now working for a dotcom company, a youth website. B had finished his course and was looking for a job in film. In Bombay he had met a filmmaker who had told him he was soon going to make a film. Now, Usha asked him to write film reviews for the website she was working in. So B started writing from home in CBE. Then he got a little confident. So he figured out a


website (from Cinemaya magazine) called DT. He wrote to them. The editor liked his reviews. So he started writing for them too. Then one day he got a mail from the filmmaker asking if B could assist him in the film without pay. B agreed, allowing himself to be exploited. It turned out that the company he was writing articles for, DT, was the same one producing that film. (such are the coincidences.) B went to Bombay and assisted. The film got made and premiered in DT Festival in Delhi. So B went to Delhi, and there he met the editor of DT. She was happy to see him. A month later, the website closed down like many other websites and the editor lost her job. B fell out of love with R. Usha and her husband moved into a more upmarket flat in Pune. B visited her new sprawling flat. Usha then told him that RK Laxman, the famous cartoonist, owns the flat below theirs. He comes down there sometimes on holidays, and that is when we dont see the his cartoons in Times of India. (such are the coincidences.) [21/11/2005 21:50:43] Muslimgauze album covers--


[22/11/2005 10:38:36] the real fantasy-Yesterday I bought a webcam and used it for the first time chatting with A. I was never a big fan of chatting, but with a webcam it is a different experience. Now I know what cinema is heading towards. The dream of seeing yourself on screen has already become real. When I saw myself and her on the screen in extreme slow shutter speed, the first impulse was to train the webcam on the screen itself, and the Borgesian screenwithin-screen effect was spectacular. So finally, we have our own private movie, where we are the stars and we are the audience. I watch you and you watch me. Who thought surveillance cameras were an invasion of privacy! When you get conscious of that cute little webcam looking at you all the time, you feel all the more at home, and wanting to perform for it. Being watched is not such a bad thing it seems! After all this, how can you take Bollywood or even 'Cinema' (with a capital C) seriously any more. Even the initial wonder of cinema that you experienced in childhood cannot justify glorifying it. Everyone is a star all the time-- talk about democratisation of images! Andy Warhol must be so contented in the afterlife (or is it afterdeath?) Bollywood cinema will be killed by its own reality-- I go further in saying that it was never a fantasy in the first place. Just as the Ekta Kapoor serials are not fantasy. They are just disguised as fantasy. This is because the reality is in the head! What they are all talking about is actually real, it must be happening in countless homes everyday. So do Bollywood stories. The meat of Bollywood stories is still about becoming wealthy. Even love is subject to that politics. How does one become rich, how do we sustain it. Thats what everyone is thinking about all of the time. Others who think otherwise will simply not be interested in Bollywood movies. The one man who really approached fantasy was Ritwik Ghatak, because he was showing not what we were thinking about, but rather what was lost to thought, or things we were about to think about. When he showed a character, it was not real in the sense of being 'realistic'. He showed the possibilities and even the impossibilities of characters and things. Thats close to fantasy, the realm of pure story. We have to keep in mind that even the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata have been stripped of their fantastic aspect. They've been boiled down to saans-bahu jhagdas. I get so irritated when Subhash Ghai has to make his heroes into reincarnations of gods. Shah Rukh Khan's character in 'Pardes' will even have the audacity to consider within the story whether he's Krishna Bhagwan or Arjun. Thats not fantasy at all. He is as he claims. In other words, he is ACTUALLY Arjun of the Mahabharata. Because the attributes of a Krishna or Rama or


Arjun are there in Real, we can just wear those attributes any time. Even when I was a kid, I fancied myself as Krishna for a while, because of that 'naughty-kid-stealing-butter' character, but then soon I became Arjun, because he was so cool with the women. Already here, I am talking reality. Reality in the sense that the very idea of something is already that thing. The Hindu gods are real, and we can wear the gods on our skins whenever we feel like it. Now Ghatak wouldnt do that. He wouldnt attribute 'characteristics' to his characters like a lot of filmmakers, even Ray, do. Most Hollywood is also in the realm of archetypes. George Lucas destroyed any possibilities of fantasy that an SF fantasy could have simply by archetyping his characters. Then they become real. Ghatak, however understood that the power of the epics was not in providing archetypes (thereby making myths Real) but in their potential for fantasy, by which I mean an escape, not 'escapism', an escape which is also a recurrence, as in, an escape which can eternally recur. That was a good aspiration for the cinema, and one which totally dissolves the argument between 'myth' on the one hand, and 'reality' on the other, the morality of 'art' and the immoral world of 'entertainment'. Om-dar-b-dar also has the aspiration to fantasy that I was talking about here. In that spirit, it is closer to Ghatak's vision than one might presume. Film school students are still caught up in the moral bind, I feel, endlessly worrying about Reality. But there is an escape. The escape could come from anywhere. Susan Sontag would say that 'everything has been photographed', but then, not every 'idea' has been photographed. For that, any technology could be equally powerful, even a webcam and a Yahoo Messenger. The debate is not between celluloid and DV, or between film and TV. Its about how well we can recognise the fantasy, the broken chappal that was the beginning and the end of Meghe Dhaka Tara. In the broken chappal was the fantasy, and she didnt recognise it. [22/11/2005 16:40:11] on Muslimgauze CD designs-Its interesting how Muslims have adopted the CD as a kind of surface for inscription. You have these sparkling CDs printed with Arabic calligraphy to be hung inside your car, which of course, cant be played in your CD player. You find it in taxis all the time. I've seen them in Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi. Maybe there is some 'radiant light of allah' which emanates from the multicolour sparkle of the CD-- you know, like the 'lazer


light of allah'. Muslimgauze CDs have referenced that style, but with modern irony and humour. Strange that this is being done by European designers, most of them Christian I am sure, but no longer faithful. Muslimgauze himself, was a white Brit, based in Manchester-- never been to the Middle East at all, not even India, and funny thing is there are songs in his albums called Priyanka tume desh chalao, Death of Jarnail Singh Bindranwale, Leave Kolkata as you see it. I admire and want to emulate this invisible strategy. His political views are only conveyed in the album design and the names of the music pieces, and there is absolutely NO LYRICS, no singing. There's only abrasive mixes of pieces he's recorded and also played. he's known to play many instruments. So, here's this guy, no photograph exists of him in public, has strong political views, makes mixes of sounds of the lands and cultures he's concerned with, which happen to be areas of basic struggles over land and freedom. He has no wish to become a Muslim. He's made some 150 albums from 1983 (year of the invasion of Lebanon by Israel, his 'idee fixe' which started off Muslimgauze) to 1999, when he died. He says, 'The change into Muslimgauze came about at the time of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. My interest, my discovery of the treatment the Palestinians suffer under the vile regime of Israel. Up to this point it was just music. Now politics are the main backbone behind all tracks.' It wasnt as if he was the starving artist. He had two record labels backing him up, and judging by the handcrafted care they put into the releases, I'm sure there is a cult audience devouring it all up. There's even a Muslimgauze appreciation club in a Moscow discotheque, where every year they have a show with all of Muslimgauze music. How do you judge this kind of artistic activity? For me, it is an ethical statement, Nietzschean in its kind of 'beyond good and evil' stance, and a kind of esoteric magic in its use of music. There is a song called Help Afghanistan grow more opium' which is just some amazing Afghani drums and tribal string instruments mixed with electronic sounds and looped. Other songs called Benazir Bhutto's hands are clean, Bengal Motorcycle death trap, Kabul is free under a veil, and another called Kabul isn't free under a veil. Richard Gehr of Villiage Voice sees it as an example of deterritorialization, a schizoid breaking of spatial and identity conventions, of the type proposed by Deleuze and Guattari in their book A Thousand Plateaus-- a kind of anti-transcendental opening up of spaces.


[23/11/2005 01:04:49] quote of the moment-No consciousness without language. [23/11/2005 11:28:46] bees-Finished reading The Glass Bees by Ernst Junger-- kind of a philosophical SF. Hardly an SF novel actually, but it has some nice tech imaginations-- like microbots in the form of 'glass bees', operating like collective consciousness. I like the symbol of the bees more than ants. Beehive, rather than anthill as the organizing metaphor for cultural consciousness. Napoleon's personal emblem was the Bee. I remember now suddenly that as a kid, I had created a cartoon character called 'Hibi, the Bee', to be used in a hand written magazine we were making and never finished, and it has those yellow and black stripes on its body, stripes which repeat now, many years later in my SRFTI diploma film. I had (still have) a strange fascination for Napoleon and the turbulent times of the late 1700s in Europe. I used to read up all kinds of Napoleon and French Revolution related writings. In fact it was my only literary interest until I was 17 years old. Once I bought Victor Hugo's Les Miserables only to read the detailed account of the Battle of Waterloo. I thought I had some weird disease, till I recently read in Wikipedia that Kafka had a sentimental fondness for Napoleon. That definitely made me feel better. Bees and the 'hive mind' are also the dominating metaphor in the most amazing film about children's consciousness and the fascination of fear ever made-- Spirit of the Beehive, by Victor Erice. [23/11/2005 13:43:20] Did you know-that DNA emits photons, particles of visible light? This has been verified by scientists. There is also the theory that this light is information-- that DNA is living information, or consciousness. When we get enlightened, as in achieve Godhead, then the aura around us is the DNA light of information-- hmm... interesting idea. The idea that you can actually radiate and absorb information/knowledge from the 'air', so to speak. Thats what meditation does I guess. Biophotonics.


[23/11/2005 22:18:35] Texts from Promethea, the final Chapter, no.32 of the comic book series written by Alan Moore, pencils by J.H.Williams III, and a few additions by me--

– – – – – –

Psychedelic means 'soul revealing'. Lucifer (the name of the snake in the bible) means 'light bringer'. Magic is a 'disease of language'. Aleister Crowley. All magic is psychedelic. Transmutation of the soul. A principle of alchemy-- 'solve et coagula' – analysis and synthesis. Religion, sharing the same Latin root as 'ligature', means 'tied together in one belief', not necessarily spiritual. Religion resembles science more than it does magic.

– –

Technology simply means, 'writings about a body of knowledge'. Consciousness, art and language happen when material organisms connect with immaterial fancies: when earthly life's DNA serpent dances with imagination's lunar spirit.

Light, the rush of photons, is the universe's foremost carrier of information. Describing spiritual information, transmitted by metaphorical light, we talk of becoming 'illuminated', either as individuals or as a species.

– –

Some cultures, believing that we always already knew everything, refer to illumination or enlightenment as a 'loss of forgetfulness'. Logos, or the Word, is our original and most sophisticated technology. Creating gods and goddesses, we tried to be like them, extending ourselves through sheer imagination.

– – –

If gods are transcendent ideas, then the idea of a god IS the god. Imagination arises out of consciousness, which itself blossoms out of language. Using language, imagination (the lunar, feminine spirit) and WILL (the serpentine, solar, male force) we create reality, moment by moment, weaving concepts and sensations, light and sound, on the loom of our consciousness. (thought reflects back on itself.)

[24/11/2005 15:21:23] Amit Dutta brought my attention to this really bizarre text called Vymaanika Shaastra which claims to be a treatise on ancient Indian flying machines or vimanas. I just read Grant Morrison's comic Vimanarama yesterday (not too good though) and I got AD's email today. The text he sent me wasnt opening and I checked up the Net. Since I'm an aircraft freak, (I used to build and fly aeromodels) this text is freaking me out. It is published by Coronation Press in Mysore and is supposedly based on some esoteric Sanskrit manuscripts acquired by International Academy of Sanskrit Research. This book is the work of a magician, a guy who sighted UFOs! These machines are supposed to run on electricity. The author Subbaraya Shastry apparently claimed that the manuscript was 'channeled' through him divinely. That doesnt discount its whacked out imagination. This is SF at its best! According to the book, there are '32 rahasyaas or secrets which should be known by pilots according to Siddhanaatha.' In the Kabbalah too, there are 32 Paths of Wisdom. Subbaraya Shastry must have definitely read some magic texts and had some visions and this must be his way of explaining them. This is an esoteric alchemical treatise sold to an unsuspecting public as an 'ancient manuscript'. This 'ancient manuscript' was actually written out in text between 1918 and 1923, the time when H.P. Lovecraft was fashioning his feverish pulp fantasies of horror. H.P. Lovecraft's mother died in 1921, after which his ill-health (he had a teenage nervous breakdown) apparently improved, and he married a woman 7 years his senior, though it broke down a few years later. In 1923, the year Vymaanika Shaastra was finished, R.K.Narayan was a 17 year old dandy at the University of Mysore digging into Byron and Shelley. It was also the year that the pulp magazine Weird Tales debuted in America, where H.P. Lovecraft published most of his fiction. Weird Tales magazine honed to talents of many other SF and Fantasy novelists, including Robert E. Howard, writer of the Conan stories, who shot himself at


the age of 30 after knowing that his mother would not recover from her coma. He and his mother were both buried together. All these early American fantasy writers were these adolescent 'mama's boys', as were the kids who created Superman, Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel, who were reading these very magazines in the early thirties. These kids were also the first 'fans' and created the first 'Fan Clubs'. 'Fandom', a peculiar modern phenomenon of the audience/reader, an obsessive symbolic relationship with the object of their attention, is today a part of mainstream marketing strategy. On TV, I see most of the characters in ads are literally schizoid fanatics of the product, and display completely obsessive behaviour. R.K.Narayan too, like Swami, his alter ego, must have been a dreamer and a 'mama's boy'. Its also interesting that the world's biggest Lovecraft scholar is an Indian S.T.Joshi, (Sunand Trymbak Joshi) who has made an academic career researching Lovecraft's work. Finally, R.K.Narayan has connection to Coimbatore, the place where I'm writing this from, as he met the love of his life Rajam here. [25/11/2005 16:04:05] discuss TV-I found a whole community on the Net fetishising sexy newsreaders. Of course CNBC tops the list. 'Discuss TV' is one such website. Avantika Singh of Headlines Today seems to be very popular. The CNBC program Young Turks is just too much! These CNBC girls flirting with hot young 'COOs' of jewellery companies and such like. There's actually a show on NDTV Profit called Hot Property! Eroticism works when it appears in the most unexpected places-- your own house, maybe, or in news footage of a 'UN Summit on Nuclear Issues', or in a children's animation program. If you spot the erotic there, thats the real thing. Its all about 'place' . 'Place' is the secret. The surrealists were always saying this.


[25/11/2005 23:51:53] severed ears-In Ernst Junger's The Glass Bees (1957), the protagonist is walking around in the garden of this zillionaire technocrat, (something like a cross between Bill Gates and Walt Disney), and he notices many severed ears among the dead leaves. These ears are of the androids that the technocrat manufactures. The scientist, a specialist in ear-making, had cut them off in a rage and thrown them in the garden. This zillionaire also manufactures microbots in the shape of bees. The severed ear is a very modern metaphor. In silent reading, there is complete divorce between eye and ear, said McLuhan. I feel that there is a tendency in modern culture to be more visual that aural. Right from the 1890s, since Van Gogh literally cut his ear off, we have this metaphor of the severed ear. It shows up in The Glass Bees, in David Lynch's Blue Velvet, where the movie begins when a severed ear is found and things start going strange when the film itself goes into the ear. Then in Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, which is such a 'talking' picture, Michael Madsen cuts off a an ear of the cop. 'If a technology is introduced either from within or from without a culture, and if it gives new stress or ascendancy to one or another of our senses, the ratio among all of our senses is altered. . . . Tribal, non-literate man, living under the intense stress on auditory organization of all experience, is, as it were, entranced.' – Marshall McLuhan. This remark contains the essence of McLuhan's originality: the notion that cognitive processes themselves reflect the processing properties of our sensory organs, particularly of the two symbolic organs, the ear and the eye. [28/11/2005 13:09:50] W.G.Sebald vs Alan Moore-There’s a lot in common between the comic book work of Alan Moore and the brooding fiction of W.G.Sebald, in terms of their approach and strategies. Both use the ‘psychogeographical’ approach, working through associations that might throw up randomly in the matrix of the cosmos and trying to find sense through them. Both writers are performance artists, in the sense that they perform their writing, and has a dimension of time, of moments adding up—piling up—accumulation of affects. Moore’s graphic


novel From Hell works through a whole world of synchronicities surrounding the year 1888, and the Jack the Ripper murders. In ambition it is similar in scope to W.G.Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn. The metaphor in From Hell is of the ‘gull catchers’, all these jack the Ripper scholars trying to find the truth. In Sebald’s The Emigrants, the ‘butterfly catcher’ is the image that recurs. The butterfly is of course, a symbol of the eternal fluttering of the soul. In the comic Promethea, Alan Moore writes, 'The Greek word ‘psyche’, to describe the human mind, soul or essence, was not a new word to the Greeks, but had previously been used to mean ‘butterfly’, or ‘moth’. The butterfly’s random fluttering from one point to another also accurately models how thought follows a fractal path from concept to concept.' Sebald has said in interviews that his preferred method of writing would be like that of a ‘dog following its nose in a field’, going where the smell takes him. Both the writers view the cosmos to be enchanted, where everything is living, even the dead are living, and time is not linear—all moments in time are simultaneous. This is different from the circular time of Hindu philosophy. Alan Moore’s graphic novel Watchmen constructs a tapestry of consciousness just like in The Rings of Saturn, where the silkworm weaving its cocoons is the recurring metaphor. The phenomenon of ‘vertigo’ that the narrator so often experiences in Sebald’s novels is similar to the trance-like ‘visions’ that characters in Alan Moore’s graphic novels have. Both writers also use very cinematic effects in their mediums. Sebald’s writing conjures up very visceral effects—as if one were scrutinizing the world through a camera—and in fact, in one of the Film Comment magazine’s Critics polls of best films of the year 2001, he had included Sebald’s novel Austerlitz. Sebald himself uses the analogy of looking through an upturned opera glass-- 'It's that sensation, if you turn the opera glass around... Curiously, although it's further removed, the image seems much more precise.' Alan Moore’s comics use all kinds of cinematic techniques-- zooms, tracking shots, dissolves—page turns often have surprises like the cuts in horror film. He does them so effectively in the comics form that Hollywood is impressed. They think, how can a comic book writer beat us in our own game—and obviously they want to adapt his comics into movies, but they fail miserably because he has already done whatever it is that they would want to do in the comics. I mean, you can’t reproduce a comic into a movie by copying it frame by frame. That would be misunderstanding of how cognition in comics works! In comics, it is at once painting and movement—it is all moments all at once. Sebald plays the role of a kind of shaman or magician, conversing with the dead, and traveling in time to study recurring patterns in human history, yet all the while, it is Sebald himself whose soul is the subject of the writing—the transmutation of his own


soul—for that he will have to swallow every demon and angel of history. Another technique that both writers use is inserting text in language other than English without translations In Sebald, there are lots of quotes and phrases in Italian or French left untranslated. Only the main German text is translated. In Alan Moore’s comic, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, there are Arabs speaking in Arabic, and Chinese dialogues without translation. He also takes the rhetoric to comical effect by having the Martians speak in, well, Martian! Even Hergé made his Nepali character speak in Hindi and used untranslated Hindi script in Tintin in Tibet. [28/11/2005 17:43:38] NEWSFLASH! The Actionist, reclusive film director who has so far made only one obscure short film while in film school, has announced today that his first feature film will be called FULL STOP, and not SOFT PLASTIC as mentioned in an earlier press release over a year ago. The press release handed out early this morning even as flood waters threatened to collapse his house, stated that the film 'is about the fever dream of death that Bollywood has of itself'. He also said that FULL STOP going to put a full stop to entertainment as we know it. From now on, he said, the entertainment industry will be taken over by the pharmaceutical companies who have already patented the medicinal uses of different forms of entertainment. It would be henceforth known as 'meditainment'. He assures his countless to-be-fans that the film is already a cult classic and will encapsulate the Zeitgeist as it is. He hopes to release the film 'soon'. – PTI Bureau. [28/11/2005 22:01:26] did you know-that only two known copies of the original manuscript of Dante's Divine Comedy still remain. One is in Milan, and the other is owned by the Asiatic Society of Bombay! In 1930, Mussolini offered the society one million pounds sterling for the book, but was flatly refused.


[30/11/2005 15:22:29] Watched Tarantino's season ending episode of the hit American TV show C.S.I. and it was brilliant! C.S.I. is Crime Scene Investigation, a show which focusses of the Forensic Lab folks and how they use science to solve crime. Right from DNA fingerprinting to 'blood-splatter analysis', these guys are the reinvention of the old 'science heroes' of the comics. The interesting thing about he show is there are long scenes where they simply show these guys in their forensic lab doing their experiments, with only ambient techno music in the soundtrack and no dialogue and lovingly detailed close ups of well-lit body parts and severed flesh-- something very sexy about it all. So what does Tarantino do with the show? Like the true auteur he runs the genre upside down and tells a story where almost all the evidence at the crime scene is simply a trap. Continuing one his favourite themes of death and resurrection (the magic of cinema!), in this story one of CSI guys is kidnapped and put into a coffin which has a webcam connected to it along with an air duct. The kidnapper sends a USB key so they can all watch the scene inside the coffin live. But he has a trick. The USB key is connected to the air duct in the coffin, and if they want to watch him, it switches off the air duct, thereby suffocating the guy in the coffin. So in effect, the CSI buddies are watching their kidnapped colleague die! We, the audience, is watching the CSI guys watching the webcam! Now the underlying moral angle is that this guy kidnaps a CSI man randomly because his daughter was in jail for a murder she didnt commit and she got convicted because the smart ass CSIs found her DNA on a coffee cup at the crime scene! So this whole kidnap operation is created by way of taking avenging his daughter. He then asks for a million dollar ransom in return for release. But when the CSIs get the money, the kidnapper unexpectedly blows himself up 'terrorist style' along with all the money. Finally they do get him out of the coffin, but the last shot of the story is the daughter, still in jail. She got her revenge in an oblique sort of way. Poetic justice! [30/11/2005 18:03:00] Hollywood vs Bollywood-Hollywood is the female principle while Bollywood is the male principle. That's why the highest award in Hollywood is a male statuette, while in Bollywood it is a female statuette (Filmfare awards.) Hollywood is lesbian desire, Bollywood is gay desire, its about men masturbating. Both David Lynch, in Mulholland Drive and Paul Verhoeven in


Showgirls had to show lesbian desire, because that is the desire in Hollywood. Hollywood desire is NOT sex. It is voyeurism. It is the act of looking at the woman. Bollywood desire is NOT voyeurism. It is narcissism. It is looking at ourselves masturbating. The female principle just doesnt work here. Bollywood is also not about sex. In fact, the commercial 'entertainment industry' doesnt work on sex at all. There are other desires, darker desires. The first 'movie star' in Hollywood was a woman, and it has always been so, from Florence Lawrence (the first movie star) to Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Julia Roberts, Sharon Stone and Angelina Jolie. Even in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard, a film about Hollywood, the movie star hero of the film is a woman. What I mean here is not that male stars in Hollywood have no value, but that the desire projected on screen is that of feminine allure. Out here it has always been male. While the star system was being established in Hollywood, during the silent era, in India, D. G. Phalke was having a huge problem casting women in his first film, Raja Harishchandra. Eventually he had to cast men in female roles. In Bollywood the men are the basic desire that fuels the industry, in Hollywood it is the women, even though they might be paid less than the guys. The audience in Hollywood is a woman. They 'take in' everything inside their vagina. the male Bollywood movie audience has to 'give', 'release' in order to get any pleasure. They have to literally fuck the screen! In Bollywood movies, the nearer you are to the screen, the better the fuck! In Hollywood, the idea of watching a movie is to 'get fucked', as it were-- get fucked by the spectacle, by the glamour, by the images, by the story, whatever. In Bollywood there's no 'fascination' at the spectacle. Even Mughal-e-Azam is not a spectacle, rather it is the 'participation' by the audience that makes the film-'fucking the screen' in the sense that you have to mouth the dialogues, actively engage with the screen, with what is shown and heard. You become Salim or Akbar and you have to act it out, and you have to dance when the song sequence starts, otherwise it makes no sense. Only response by the audience can 'create' the film in front of it. Hollywood movies, and most of world cinema, are about 'sit back and watch and take it all in’. Its passive. People really used to the Bollywood movie experience cannot really make sense of Hollywood cinema, and vice-versa. [02/12/2005 14:12:10] Apophenia-(from Wikipedia) Apophenia is the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. The term was coined in 1958 by Klaus Conrad, who defined it as the


'unmotivated seeing of connections' accompanied by a 'specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness'. Conrad originally described this phenomenon in relation to the distortion of reality present in psychosis, but it has become more widely used to describe this tendency in healthy individuals without necessarily implying the presence of neurological or mental illness. In statistics, apophenia would be classed as a Type I error (False Alarm.) Apophenia is often used as an explanation of paranormal and religious claims. It has been suggested that apophenia is a link between psychosis and creativity. Post-modern novelists and filmmakers have reflected on apophenia-related phenomena, such as paranoid narrativization or fuzzy plotting (e.g. Nabokov, Signs and Symbols; Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49; Eco, The Name of the Rose; Gibson, Pattern Recognition. As narrative is one of our major cognitive instruments for structuring reality, there is some common ground between apophenia and narrative fallacies such as hindsight bias. As pattern recognition may be related to plans, goals, and ideology, and may be a matter of group ideology rather than a matter of solitary delusion, the interpreter attempting to diagnose or identify apophenia may have to face a conflict of interpretations. [03/12/2005 16:41:06] class struggle-In lectures given in 2003 by star brain scientist and 'brain detective'(!) V.S.Ramachandran, he talks about scientific understandings of synaesthesia. But then, these scientific lectures are so bizarre. Most of the time, they sound like salesmen hawking their wares. In this case, it is how neuroscience can ultimately explain consciousness itself-- this is something that Alan Moore says is the 'blind spot' in science, because, how will you experimentally repeat consciousness? The difference between science and art is also the difference between religion and magic (science is a religion), is also the difference between fascism and anarchy. science religion fascism art magic anarchy


The two sides of the coin. Now the thing is, magic includes science, but science shuts the door on magic, and only now scientists are kind of engaging with alchemy, yoga, Kabbalah once again—this is the split that alchemy and magic seeks to dissolve. The problem is the 'MIDDLE' class, Marx was right on that. They are the priests, the bureaucrats, the bourgeoisie who actually invade the spaces. The working class and the aristocracy have more in common with each other than we imagine—Alan Moore pointed that out in From Hell- 'give the working class enough education and they'll be as aristocratic as any elite.' It was what some of the 70s Amitabh Bachchan films were about. It was actually about the aristocrat and the worker being the same person. One was not superior to the other. The coolie has the same tastes and vices as the mill owner. You can interpret this in different ways. You can say there is no hope and say that the working class has to live its fate. But this very idea can be put in a positive context if we see that the conspiracy of the bourgeoisie is to get more and more of the working class to be like them, thereby eliminating that very class. Thats what a Kaun Banega Crorepati is designed to do. Look at the irony! The very Bachchan of his 70s films, (a coolie who could be an aristocrat, without losing his 'coolieness', which is also what the David Dhawan-Govinda films are about) is now the bourgeois Bachchan urging us that we too can be bourgeois, like him! Thats destructive magic! The working class aspiring to aristocracy is creative magic. Thats art, that creates community, because you wont start feeling guilty that you are working class. But working class aspiring to middle class, the bureaucracy, the priests, the Brahmins, that's bad magic-- thats Christian guilt! That’s political conspiracy! That’s black magic! The common thing about aristocracy and the workers is that both dont give a damn about money. Its a very thin line between aristocracy and the middle class. The aristocracy is an attitude, they are aesthetes, dandies. It is 'all style'. That doesnt mean you have to be physically rich to be an aristocrat. You merely have to sacrifice everything else to STYLE, and performance. Its pure performance. The middle class does not know how to dance-- they can't even move their bodies in style! During Amitabh's heyday, it was the working class who mimicked him. The best example of how the working class is so similar to the aristocracy is the blacks in America. They are in the ghettos-- they're obviously working class. But the importance they give to style! By making a weapon out of it, they beat the shit out of the most stylish rich guys. So what do you have? You had aristocratic white guys appropriating every new cultural invention the blacks created, so as to be as cool . Right from blues, to jazz to rock to hiphop music to graffiti art to hairstyles. (Michael Jackson, however, made a great political move and became white, thereby not allowing the appropriation, which


third world kids really understood.) The aristocrats get an inferiority complex every time these black kids doing drugs in ghettos come up with something new. The aristocracy is always watching the working class. They are not watching the middle class, because they have no power. The attempt now is to take the power out of the working class by getting them a membership of the static middle class. KBC is designed to do that, and so are most of the TV shows and the Hindi movies. The middle class is a problem. It represents sloth. It is the fat of society. The middle class must not be politicized. I'm supposed to be middle class historically, because Brahmins were the priests (karmic accountants), and they were the middlemen between Gods and humans, and the Bureaucrats and the Chartered Accountants are the middlemen between the Government (again gods) and humans— traders, who are the middlemen in business, have a lot of respect for the priests. If I have a self-image, it must be that of an aristocrat. An aristocrat always gets along with working class. Its working class style that becomes aristocratic style. The black coal miners used to wear jeans. Now thats a status symbol. Global capitalism is about silencing the working class. To be a Marxist, you have to be an aristocrat. You cant be middle class and be Marxist. Thats the mistake the Bengal naxalites made in the 70s. They are paying for it now. Obviously, the aristocratic Communists would kill off any middle class idiot calling for revolution. Who would the working class side with? The middle class naxals or the aristocratic Communists-obviously the aristocrats. Communism was about the dream of everyone becoming an aristocrat. But the crucial mistake in Marxism is not 'accounting' (pun intended!) for the middle class, the priestly bureaucracy. So in Russia, instead of making aristocrats out of everybody, they just made bureaucrats-- and that was their end. Thats going to be Bollywood's end too, (if it has not already ended.) Bachchan is going to take everybody down with him in his grave. He made a mistake by mistrusting the aristocracy. By getting into the middle class world of advertisements, he's going to kill a lot of people as he dies. Right now there’s a lot of misunderstanding between the workers and the aristocrats. If the aristocrats think that they can wipe out the workers and make them all middle class, they'll have a heavy price to pay, as Bengal is going to. The Communists are ironically going to make the same mistake as the 70s naxalites. Because the new naxalites are the genuine tribes, workers, and they have already warned that they are going to take over. The affiliations are going to be to gangs and small groups and it has to be healthy gang wars—creative and destructive anarchy! Fascism just wont work any more— however much you try. A lot of middle class people used to think that a Hitler-like


Fascism was the only way our society could go—I used to hear that even as a kid in school! But I feel some sort of anarchy is here to stay—you know like the hip hop song by Public Enemy Fight the Power—

FIGHT THE POWER (lyrics by Chuck D of Public Enemy) 1989 the number another summer (get down) Sound of the funky drummer Music hittin’ your heart cause I know you got sould (brothers and sisters, hey) Listen if you’re missin’ y’all Swingin’ while I’m singin’ Givin’ whatcha gettin’ Knowin’ what I know While the black bands sweatin’ And the rhythm rhymes rollin’ Got to give us what we want Gotta give us what we need Our freedom of speech is freedom or death We got to fight the powers that be Lemme hear you say Fight the power


[05/12/2005 00:40:17]

I always had this idea of doing this piece of artwork which is the world map turned upside down and west is in the east and Africa is in the western hemisphere and America is the east. In fact I had written it as a prop in the diploma film script. Never got round to doing it, but it turns out HIMAL Magazine of Nepal has done just that.


[05/12/2005 15:52:22] sex in films-Here is a very interesting link to a listing of sex in films from Muybridge onwards. Wasnt he the one who tried to figure out how the breasts jump when women run? [06/12/2005 23:31:31] Freud, magic and Phalke's blindness-Sigmund Freud, the original psychoanalyst, held that there were three essential stages of growth in an individual. --Narcissism (self-centredness) --Dependence on parents --Maturity He correlated these stages to three belief systems-Narcissism (self-centredness) - magic Dependence on parents - religion Maturity - scientific thought Interesting! Applied to my own life, I am still in the first stage- Narcissism! Since I am reading about Dadasaheb Phalke's life of late, it would be interesting to see what comes up. Narcissism (which is a form of blindness) could relate to the time when Phalke had reportedly gotten blind until he saw Life of Christ and had his magical 'vision'. His dependence on parents would be his attachment to 'swadeshi' nationalism, which was a kind of religion and Tilak was his father. Finally, his maturity phase would be the time he was writing Rangbhoomi (I havent read the play) which was his scientific treatise on the arts. [07/12/2005 01:36:22] motto of the moment-One becomes, one does not progress. One attunes, one does not forge. One allows, one does not make.


[08/12/2005 15:12:25] Phi and Pi-I was reading about comic book drawing and whenever they talk about composition, they come up with the 'rule of thirds'. Now the rule of thirds derives from the Golden Ratio 1:1.6 and denoted by the number 'Phi' which is 1.618033988749895... . It is the ratio created when you divide a line in such a way that the ratio of the whole line to the larger segment is the same as the ratio of the larger segment to the smaller segment. The ratio is seen in seashells and spiral galaxies. The website on Phi has an article as to how the ratio shows up even in stock markets. People were for a long time saying that the stock market was a living organism. This idea is based on complexity theory where they say that intelligence is a the by-product of any complex process. Fractal theory and chaos theory also use the Golden Ratio. Talking of stock markets, I was watching the animé TV series Ghost in the Shell:Stand Alone Complex last night and the story was about a Japanese mathematician who has figured out the patterns in the stock market through complex equations and designs a program to make a lot of illegal money through it. Finally the cops find him lying dead for months in his his huge mansion, while the computer beside his bed is still running and making money for him. Beside the computer is a wall full of gold bars which he had a passion for collecting-- kind of ironic comment on the idea of accumulation. But as any self-respecting capitalist knows all too well, wealth is not about accumulation, it is about 'movement'. It is how it flows, rather than how it is created. The other ratio is the 'Pi' ratio, the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. The ancient artists considered numbers and ratios to be of magical/mystical nature, symbolising the divine creation. The 'Golden' aspect of the Golden Ratio has obviously to do with the alchemical quest for the symbolic GOLD of the transcendental human soul. The Renaissance mathematicians were alchemists as well. The Golden Ratio also symbolizes the balancing of extremes and finds expression in the book of Confucian philosophy, Doctrine of the Mean. Pythagoras figured out musical scales based on this ratio. So drawing is not all that innocent I guess. They've got all these alchemical ratios buried in them. The principle in alchemy is 'As Above, So Below', that is, the microcosm reflects the macrocosm and vice versa. The universe is in man, and therefore the Golden Ratio had to be found in everything, including man. Numbers are all symbolic, and is


the basis of magic. 'As Above, So Below' is also the basis of astrology-- non-predictive astrology, not the type of astrology we find in newspapers. Even the seven days of the week we so unconsciously follow is number symbolism, and it is analogous in many cultures. Alchemy and number symbolism is also the basis of architecture, as any architect will tell you. The Free Masons took their metaphor from architecture, God being the divine architect. The simplest and easiest example of this is the design of the American Armed Forces and Secret Services headquarters the 'Pentagon', the world's largest office building, where the structure of the pentagon is built into the design of the building itself. An interesting trivia is that the construction of the Pentagon began on September 11, 1941, exactly 60 years before the plane hit it in 2001. The symbolism of the pentagram, the five pointed star goes deep into Greek magic, to the time of Pythagoras. The five pointed star also turns up as the sigil of Baphomet. When I was in the first year at SRFTI, the first class that the late great cinematographer Subroto Mitra took for us concerned the nature of the Golden Ratio, the divine proportion. Its only now that I have a context to understand this in terms of magical and symbolic systems, but at that time I didnt bother to think about it.


[9/12/2005 21:06:45] Reality-Alan Moore warns, 'be careful because reality might be just what you think it is'. This is a double edged statement and it means that reality simultaneously exists in your perceptions and is actually 'what it is'. That is, reality is both symbolic and REAL as our thoughts are REAL. Another statement that corroborates this is Philip K. Dick's definition of Reality as 'that which doesnt go away after you stop believing in it'. [11/12/2005 13:08:22] Phalke and Uncle Pai-I have the feeling that the legacy of Phalke is not in the cinema but in the comics, specifically the Amar Chitra Katha mythological comics spearheaded by 'Uncle Pai'. Uncle Pai could be a reincarnation of Phalke! Thats a crazy idea, but not to far fetched I think, when you see how Phalke was influenced by Tilak, who was the hardliner in the Congress, and that Uncle Pai was no Gandhian and he actually glorified the revolutionary nationalists in his comics, right from Anand Margis to Khudiram Bose (I read that as a kid and was really affected by the images of hanging) to Bhagat Singh to Savarkar. Also, the Amar Chitra Katha artists were J.J. School products mostly, and were continuing from Ravi Varma, via those Marathi artists who used to draw sexy wet girls carrying matkas. [11/12/2005 23:55:17] The Bird People in China. dir. Takashi Miike (1998)-Japan. Amazing film. Very fairy tale-like. Much like the British tradition of 'adventure science romances' of H.G.Wells. I see a lot of connection between Japanese and British fantasy. You see that in a lot of the animé, like the recent Howl's Moving Castle by the great Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Thats adapted from a British fantasy tale. In Bird People in China there's an explicit British element in the story itself. A young businessman from Japan has to go to the interior of Yunan province in China to trade in the finest quality jade. A yakuza is sent by his business rival to keep a watch on him. After an arduous trek they reach a beautiful mountain village. There they find that a legend has grown around a British pilot who crashed his plane in the village during WW2. There is another myth in the village about the ancients having acquired the


knowledge of flying. There are some manuscripts that the British officer had translated. These guys get curious and try to figure out the manuscript and in the end they do! They can actually fly, without the use of machines-- just a pair of fake wings. Very fabulous. But the symbolism of flying is not as in Richard Bach. Its not spiritualist in that sense-- you know like the 'joy of human flight', 'man's ancient quest', that sort of thing. Its actually pretty earthy, in the sense that the flying metaphor isnt stretched too much. The image of men flying is reserved only for the last shot of the movie and that too from an extreme long shot. There's one dialogue that I really like. 'I actually flew, but in all these years of sleep, I've never had a dream of flying'. I feel the same personally. I have this freakish interest in aircrafts and flying and I like building model airplanes, but I dont remember a single dream where I'm flying. The narrator also mentions that the feeling of flying for the first time felt like learning to ride a bicycle. Thats a very deep idea. The guys who invented the flying machine, the Wright brothers, were bicycle mechanics. McLuhan makes a crazy connection between the printing technology, the bicycle and the airplane as being one linear progression. I am big fan of cycling too. I was so infatuated with my cycle when I was a kid that I used to service it practically everyday for a whole hour, and used to do all repairs myself. [12/12/2005 18:10:12] dance movies-I just love these American dance movies which are films made simply to showcase the latest street dance trend-- like the 2003 movie Honey, starring Jessica Alba, which I just watched on HBO. She's an NY girl of a white mother and a black father and she loves hip hop dancing. Some amazing choreography in the movie, which is like the hip hop version of Flashdance. These movies have an awful 5-paisa story line just so that you can get the next dance scene, and mostly you have girl protagonists whose only ambition in life is guess what, be a dancer! Flashdance, Fast Forward, Break Dance, Beat Street were these amazing 80s dance movies that made this sort of sub-genre. Flashdance actually created this genre after it became a big hit. In a sense, dance movies are like porn movies, where you always wait for the 'money shot', except here, the money shot is a dance move, which is only a metaphor for a sex move.



[25/12/2005 20:35:19] video camera-Been roaming around trying to do the documentary on 'amateur pornography', but still pretty clueless about what the fuck am I doing. So I end up just filming myself and Alka. Getting used to my brand new PD 170 video camera. Feels good to carry a gun around. 'Shoot to Kill!' Bombay is a mass hallucination. There were a lot of images of Bombay I wanted to record on the blog, but I mostly forgot them all. All the vision of trash and shit of the insect colony that is Bombay has been replaced by the jewel I saw as I took off from the airport in the early hours on 21st Dec. and in the darkness of space was this golden jewel-thing and on the horizon a long strip of orange of the future day fading into the blackness of the past-night, all at once. An epiphany while getting out the insect colony. Shit turns to gold. [26/12/2005 21:08:55] Mysore Mallige-Still filming myself writing this blog-- blogging is pure masturbation-- just look at yourself cumming!

[31/12/2005 18:36:00] Shantiniketan-Went to Shantiniketan with A. to meet Meghna Kothari, (claim to fame, Feroz Khan's Prem Aggan), who is camping there with her mother, the famous Hindustani vocalist Rita Ganguly. She is acting in A.'s diploma film. Shantiniketan is so much shanti that it is soooo boring! Meanwhile, Meghna's mom kept a watch on us as the script was being discussed. [31/12/2005 19:05:05] Battle Royale-The most amazing Japanese film I've seen of late. dir. Kinji Fukasaku. Detailed review later. Its just the best allegory of global capitalism, and a start of an ethics to deal with it. Last dialogue of the film– 'No matter what you are worth, just RUN!'


[03/01/2006 17:50:13] Mysore Mallige-I have started using my left hand more than usual, like right now when I am typing and filming. What's that got to do with porn? Dirty left hand... [05/01/2006 22:14:47] tongue tied-In Bangalore right now. Feeling so stupid about spending on air travel from Kolkata. You really dont 'save' time by speed travel. Money and time are inversely proportional. I was just thinking about the notion found in so many views of Indian culture as being an oral one. Bollywood movies are for example orally biased. Its all about dialogue and singing-- voice culture. But the most ironic thing is that most Hindi popular narratives are about people unable to speak their minds ('dil ki baat keh nahi sakte'.) They talk talk talk but never say what's meant to be said! [08/01/2006 20:57:49] I didnt know that Thiruvalluvar, the patron saint of the Tamils, who wrote Thirukkural, was a Jain! Jainism, it seems to me is a very esoteric religion and their philosophy pretty close to the Pythagoreans, in their belief that all matter is living. There is life trapped in all matter and that 'Jiva' has to get out. Jains also believe that God didnt create the universe. It was just there, a priori. Jains are really successful businessmen, and I think business is all about understanding the occult. Business is occult magic. [09/01/2006 12:44:07] Bangalore-Vicky, my cousin in Bangalore, is totally into heavy metal music. We went to JCube, a pub which plays only heavy metal music. It was the pub's second anniversary. A cake was cut by mean looking owner. The pub was filled by young males head-banging to Sepultura, Disturbed, Pantera, Metallica. There were a couple of women though. One was sitting opposite us. Vicky told me she came there everyday, sat in the same place and downed beer. She looked to be in her mid-thirties. There was another girl who showed


off her tattoo which said 'JCube' , to everybody. I wondered why Bangalore has a huge heavy metal music culture. I find it no different from the imagery in Kannada popular movies. The heroes all violent rakshasas (demons), huge cut outs of them holding chains and swords, swearing to kill anyone on their path. Vicky will not agree with this opinion I'm sure. But there's something about southern machismo which is totally different from north Indian machismo. The north machismo comes from the Krishna cult. Its soft, its about wooing women. Southern maleness is all Shaivite. You don't woo the woman, you simply show off your machismo and bravado, and eventually humiliate her. There's no 'love' in south Indian movies. The dance moves are all about sex, and the frustration of not penetrating. I asked Vicky if fights didnt break out in pubs. He said that once some drunk Kannada locals came in and asked them to play Kannada film music and a fight broke out because of that! I met a friend of Vicky's who I had not seen in a long time. She said she had worked in Balaji Telefilms for a year and a half. I asked her about Ekta Kapoor. She told me she was lesbian and slept with girls from the office. It seems her current girlfriend is the lead actress of the serial Kavyanjali. I asked her why she quit and she told me that apart from the work pressure, she had to face a choice between sleeping with the CEO or Ekta in order to get a promotion. So she quit. [10/01/2006 12:35:33] feedback loops-Yesterday I wrote in the blog (the earlier entry), and then went to a friend's office and there he had already read that blog entry. So there we were, with nothing more to talk about except about this very fact. Reality feeds on itself. This is classic 'snake eating its own tail' scene. Something is created, and it goes out into the aether, and becomes part of it, and then you go back and report what you saw in the aether as if it was a new thing. Spoke to Ashish Rajadhyaksha, famous film historian, about Mysore Mallige. It was interesting that he was more interested in the objects in the room rather than the couple having sex.


[10/01/2006 12:59:16] Pullman's daemons-In Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy every character is accompanied by a 'daemon', which is an animal shaped creature, which functions as the manifestation of the character's mood, personality, conscience and which can change its shape accordingly. S. suggested it might be like a 'vetal', spirit. It is also like the Hobbes character in the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. The thing is in Pullman's world, everybody has his or her own daemon. A clever narrative image for the idea of the 'soul'. [12/01/2006 13:09:30] Mysore Mallige-My documentary is feeling more and more like a private diary/dairy! I'm milking myself, just like writing this blog! [12/01/2006 13:12:16] Mysore Mallige-In order to stop shooting myself I have to delete this blog.



Part Two

(August 2006 – July 2009)


August 5, 2006 Bombay-rain-editing-Alka-me-Muniya-Kamal-Sagar-Sreejith-Goregaon-Bandra-auto-local train-muska bun-Dukes Restaurant-broker-house hunting-expensive-dirty… August 16, 2006 Yesterday had the quietest birthday. 28 years done. We bought blueberry cake. Just the two of us. Got to keep on walking. I can see a transition happening. Alka and me together starting a life. I can see my sentences getting short and straight. But the need for intellectual discourse will remain, if not grow stronger. I am starting to see myself as a working man, and trying hard not to separate art from life. A working couple in society. Thats what we are. Some new identities are being created for us. I dont know what that is yet, therefore fear of the unknown, fear of being lonely. In film school, movies and books and music and a general dilettantism kept us going. Even though we bitched about friends, they were the ones who accompanied us on those many boring days. Now new patterns are forming. I hope we keep up our excitement amidst the oddest odds. I am trying to articulate this new feeling, but yet to get a handle on it. On one level it is about entering a new lifestyle, which in economic terms, means having to pay the monthly rent for your house, cooking your own food, going to work everyday. Eight years of art school+film school might have made me just a bit rusty to be able to get on with the pace of everyday working activity. Even though Bombay was OK with me when I was going there on and off, the idea of settling in the city with A. and working there put me at a great unease. I couldnt see the prospect of that kind of lifestyle. The glamour that we kids saw only from far seemed to become a possibility in Bombay. That scared the shit out of me and led me to question everything all over again. Was I in it for the money only? Should I just dive into the world of advertising? Should I do assisting jobs, go through the grind, in the hope that someday I’ll get to make a feature film? How much experience is experience? Somehow, amid the torrential rains that magnified the squalor of the city, we decided that Bombay was not working out-- that there has to be an alternative way. We’re still trying to work that out. Meanwhile I am right now just concentrating on 'character building', before I can start creating characters-- which basically means working everyday, thinking creative stuff everyday, not lazing around, being attentive, aware and smart and clever and brave, not being lost all the time, and building my own confidence.


August 21, 2006 Orkut-'Orkuting' is some weird crazy new pastime I’m engaging in on the Net. It seems like the next level after Indiansex4u , where you had amateur pics of naked Indian women and housewives (somehow I remember one pic of a fat woman in her late 30s maybe opening the fridge in the kitchen completely naked)– this juxtaposition of mundane ‘documentary’ reality of the photo and the taboo of its content was what got me hooked on to such images– and Orkut communities have them in plenty– lesbian women showing off their bras and panties and breasts, guys showing off their dicks, communities based on caste, kinks in sex, hobbies, even surnames. The strangest thing is that in the testimonials supposed to be written by friends, a lot of them have these pics made with letters–


This is like a sort of digital embroidery, which is basically a continuation of those typewriter drawings in the 80s when typing itself was a new phenomenon in the small towns– the Net is becoming a warehouse not of information but of desire. Some of the Orkut profiles are awkwardly confessional. Here is a profile of one Neha– Very Broadminded,wild sensuous.Me and my hubby are looking for likeminded couples from MUMBAI, Pune, GOA for partying, clubbing, socializing, intimate fun and entertainments during weekends. V r both averagely goodlooking cpl with engg background n well employed.V both like clubbing, boozing n do smoke. Those COUPLES and LADIES who r decent, matured, well experienced in all ways, clean n healthy, well natured, broad n open minded, sincere, reliable, dependable, discrete enuff and wud like to have unlimited frndship with us based on mutual trust n faith are free to contact me here itself….your’s Neha. It seems like a real sexual revolution in India is just round the corner. When the sexual temperature rises, and tips over, then violence too is just around the corner. The hippie revolution and the Vietnam war went hand in hand. Today the 'war on terror' continues. Alan Moore in his pornographic comic Lost Girls (releasing this August) talks about the connection between sex and war. August 22, 2006 the director-In film school we are fed the idea of the director as it took shape in the early studio system in the 50s, of the sort that no longer exists, other than in television. So we get a dubious training in being directors which to me has little importance in the all important 'Industry' (whatever that means.) The fact that you have made a half hour 35mm film in film school doesnt really get you higher in job status. In fact, that mass media course guy is just as capable as you (if not more), in doing Assistant Direction jobs. So for the direction student getting out of film school, the job scene is pretty grim. The positive way to look at it is– instead of submitting to the mercenary wisdom of 'if you cant beat them, join them', I’d rather look at the possibility of films not as a heavy industry, like the


assembly line factories of Bombay, but as a cottage, handicraft driven process. Interestingly, the very thought that this could be feasible approach is made possible by digital technology, where image making is an electronic process, rather than a chemical process. Shooting on DV cameras, editing on computers, seems to me to be more tactile, closer to drawing and weaving and embroidery. I notice myself often unconsciously touching the computer screen as if wanting to physically enter that pixel universe. Surely, these are really broad statements about the nature of the two media, and the overlaps are far too many to really talk about the difference between film and video– yet, I find myself more comfortable working with the very slippery medium of video. I like the lightness (not to be equated with casualness) of video as opposed to the heaviness of film. What I dont mean here is the idea that video doesnt need so much rigour– on the contrary, it needs much more rigour than film precisely because things seem so easy and instantaneous in video. It is really easy to take video for granted– any kid can operate a video camera. One has to be extra careful not be gratuitous with video. Special effects can dazzle you so much that you start using them thoughtlessly. In short, it is easier to create junk with video than with film. Whatever junk on film that is being churned out of Bollywood film factories still carries a certain weight around it, simply because it is film. Even a documentary shot on film seems to be superior to a video simply by the fact of its use of film. In spite of my training in film and 'Cinema', I want to hold on to the notion that technology has little to do with doing interesting and innovative work in moving pictures. When working with video, one of the roles that undergoes a drastic change is that of the director. The process seems to start getting decentralized. The earlier industrial idea of the director as the 'captain of the ship' changes to something more like a facilitator. Instead of commanding a crew, its more like following traces, more like playing detective, or like a dog sniffing its way around. August 30, 2006 novel to film-I’ve noticed that in a lot of the artists that I like, there are analogous elements in their aesthetic strategies, which has little to do with the media they are working in. I was reading an interview with Lou Reed recently, and he says that his approach to music was to do the 'novel in rock music' form. Here is a political strategy which consists in taking up a popular and trashy genre in the lower rungs of art, and elevating the genre by including philosophical concerns that usually is the prerogative of the modern form of the novel. A lot of the modern high art is actually an engagement with mass culture and


pop culture. Alan Moore did to comics what Lou Reed did to rock music. Take a junk pop medium and make it worthy of tackling the most complex literary themes– thus the 'graphic novel'. Tarantino says pretty much the same thing about his aesthetic strategy– he uses the genre of popular novelistic storytelling and transfers it to cinematic storytelling, always recognizing that those writers were already appropriating cinematic techniques– so Tarantino’s movies 'read' like a book. But paradoxically, by appropriating techniques from other forms, they have managed to exploit the unique aspects of their own forms. So what are we talking about here? How can a novel be cinema and a rock music album be literature? This sort of idea comes from understanding that 'comics', 'cinema', 'novel', 'rock music' are not just categories of real objects, but are Real ideas in themselves. So the 'movieness' of a movie neednt be contained in a movie. 'Movieness' is an independent meme which can attach itself to any object or idea. You may find movieness in a painting, a furniture design, in a restaurant, in a piece of music, even in a Font in Microsoft Word– movieness is different from the movie itself. Its a Platonic idea by the way. Movieness is the IDEA of the movie which is as a real as the movie itself. This understanding is different from the process of translating a novel into a film, which is usually what irritates writers when their novels are 'adapted' into movies– in most cases, it is a travesty of the book– even more so when it is a comic book, because it is already a storyboard, and its almost like the movie is merely adding motion– it is a futile exercise. Now, when we say 'this novel is cinematic', or 'this movie is literary', it is akin to synaesthesia, where you taste colours and see sounds. It says little about the merits of the work itself– but there is a hierarchy at work, which puts literature at the top. Thats because through the last 200 years, literature was the forum for engaging with the loftiest and most complex ideas. Even the New Wave filmmakers and writers of the 60s had their political motive to bring the cinema to the level of what literature had been doing– in other words, to treat cinema philosophically. It was them and the surrealists before them who turned cinema into a high art, even though the Russians were 'scientifically' examining the medium from much before. What is interesting about this process of working with a 'disreputable' medium and taking it seriously, is that it exposes and deconstructs the ethics which is at the heart of art. September 8, 2006 Finally got back to Kolkata. NUMBER21PIX will now operate from 51 Anandapalli Jadavpur. Life goes on.


September 29, 2006 Good and evil are names given to deeds, not to people– ethics is about doing, not being. outsourcing reality-All art and entertainment deals with the Kingdom of Boredom. We have to escape the State of Boredom– that is, we have to manufacture 'lines of flight' (handy Deleuze concept!) from the State. Escape but not escapism– thats the kind of difference between 'imagination' and telling lies. Imagination as a way of seeing– escaping is not escaping the Real, it is actively creating it, and engaging with it. What are we escaping from then? From closure, I guess– from nihilism, dead ends, the State of Boredom– escaping the end of things– a thought that is an escape, thats what we want… Last week, Alka and me were at Delhi for a Business Skills Workshop for documentary filmmakers. It was the strangest affair. In Delhi I can feel the tribal nature that our civilization still is. In the red dust, I feel a presence of ghosts of the people of the old Hindu epics-- Pandavas, Kauravas, the dark skinned Krishna– it is so different from the southern Hinduism. In Delhi I feel as if the Mahabharata war is just happening in the neighbourhood. The magick is so strong there. Even the Mughal ruins feel somehow recent. I have this weird theory that southern Brahminism reverse-colonized the North, through Shankaracharya– he was one Malayalee who created such a watertight case for Brahminism that it clouded all the earlier philosophical ideas–sort of like how Sholay and the 70s Hindi movies created the dominant idea of Hindi popular cinema, so that we have all but forgotten the kind of Hindi cinema of the 40s and 50s and 60s. OK, back to workshop– it was conducted by a bunch of London filmmakers who run an organisation called Documentary Filmmakers Group. The first thing they said was, 'forget your long cherished ideas because ideas are cheap. Second, if you are collaborating with foreign producers, there may be times when you have to give up the role of director, because you may not be the best person to direct the film.' Then they took us through a kind of management workshop that emphasized the usual rules of efficiency– how to talk and convince others etc. Then we had a 'page 3' type party (my first) at a posh foreign diplomat's bungalow on Kautilya Marg. It had pink walls, some abstract paintings, and wooden flooring. It reminded me of the weird party in David Lynch’s Lost Highway. At the party, we Indian documentary filmwallas finally interacted, and everyone had some bitching to do about how its really cheap labour the West wants and how they pay Indian filmmakers less than the Europeans– but hey, we’re all in it for the money right? Alka and me were sort of pissed towards the end. Surely I’ll try to get some


international funding and all that, but their big brother attitude sucked. One of the things I realized through the workshop was how the idea of Reality seems to undergoing a major ontological shift. This time, even the annual PSBT festival of Documentary Films was renamed Festival of Documentary and Reality Films. There was also new terminology I came across– 'factual entertainment'– they have departments like that in Europe. They also showed us a film called Touching the Void, which they called 'creative documentary' but to me was a straightforward Hollywood film with the only difference that the 'Real' people involved were telling the story in voice over. The entire story was performed by actors, complete with Hollywood style background score. They showed it as an example of how 'reconstruction' of real events can enhance the entertainment value of a documentary. In the end, to all this, I can only go by Godard’s position that the 'documentary' form is a useless category and that it does not exist. After all it was invented by John Grierson during World War Two, which was the 'documentary' event par excellence of the 20th century, but that's another story. October 2, 2006 yoga, terrorism, Internet, world peace– what a day! Yesterday I started doing some basic rudimentary yoga. On the Net, I’d been watching David Lynch’s passionate talks of how Transcendental Meditation was so useful to him and how we can create world peace through meditation. He has started this awkwardly named organisation called 'David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness Based Education and World Peace' which promotes Mahesh Yogi’s meditation techniques for schools and colleges. In the afternoon I read bits from the Yogasutras of Patanjali which is a super technical manual for 'consciousness engineering'! Coincidently, my father had also just recently bought another Yogasutras book and told me that he had tried Transcendental Meditation when he was young, probably when he was my age (28.) (he doesnt do it any more, probably I wont either.) My feeling is that yoga and magic are very practical techniques and you have to DO it to understand it– intellectual knowledge is only part of it. One cannot be without the other– only practice and no knowledge will also not work. So anyway, I was getting into it, and I was feeling good, except for one thing– at night they showed a National Geographic documentary about terrorism and I got disturbed and fascinated– the whole program was about how Islamic terrorism is using the Internet and the latest communications technology to wage war on the west– mobile phones as detonators, websites and discussion groups uploading videos of suicide bombings, executions of American soldiers and traitors, videos of Muslims wounded and dead, propaganda about


jihad, and technical videos about how to make a suicide bomb. I got a totally different idea of the Internet from the program. There was one American guy who’s tracking these jihad websites and he says in the program that when we think Internet subversiveness, we thinking hacking and pirated movie downloads in general but these jihadists are simply using it for hardcore propaganda and he says that the they have totally taken over the Net in the propaganda war and won! They also showed clips of the video made by one of the London bombers who makes this fiery speech about the evil West in heavy British accent. Its so weird how the jihadists have appropriated digital tech– I mean they’re going about with gun in one hand and camcorder in another, and they’re filming themselves killing themselves! So many videos of car bombings– its as if they did the bombing only to make a really dramatic war movie. In the NatGeo program they repeatedly showed close-ups of the computer screen with Windows Media Player playing a really ghastly video of an execution– it was strange seeing the ubiquitous Windows Player and this jihadist stuff on it. The really funny thing is that these guys seem to just love the camera. The leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a Palestinian militant group, was freely speaking to the Nat Geo guys on the street. He had his gun slung on his shoulder and was smoking a cigarette. His face had scars from a bomb blast. I have a feeling that Islam somehow has philosophically understood this digital tech and what this 'Information Technology' actually is– when I see a CD with Arabic religious calligraphy printed on it and slung in a taxi cab in Mumbai, there’s something there, some understanding of modernity and the Islamic religion, though I am not quite sure what it is. Later, filled with thoughts of jihad, I downloaded a 'Best of Jihadi snuff videos collection' from the Net. The fact that these videos were even available for download was too much to take, but when I saw them, the nausea I experienced nearly made me vomit. I've never had such a physical sensation induced by images. It took me some time believe that my body was responding in this way-- too shocking! There were several close ups of beheadings. In one, a guy just cuts off the head of another Muslim, accused as a traitor perhaps, just like they cut a chicken’s head. It was done with a small knife, with a lot of purposeful blood letting, 'halaal' style. It is a ritual of human sacrifice, the ultimate


magic. It is the image of hell on earth. I became so afraid of the magical power of those images that I deleted the clips from my computer. I swear I'll never watch them again. Its strange that people over the centuries have created more vivid and detailed images of hell than they have of heaven– heaven is only vaguely visualized, but everyone seems to know hell. Is the idea of religion to blame for this? Perhaps... October 22, 2006 new home & economics-I’ve taken my first baby steps into the 'Special Economic Zone' in which I pay my rent, pay electricity bills, cook food on gas, and the rest of the time I work to earn enough to pay that rent! We moved into our flat yesterday. The view is interesting– we can see the multiplex and the high rises around us– but I’m also anxious about when my next project will get produced. Ideally I should be working on more than one film at a time– work faster and harder. Things are just going to get tough from now on...yeah well... November 16, 2006 circle square triangle Been reading Voice of the Fire by Alan Moore. Its a fiction of 4000 years of Northampton history, all told in first person narratives by various characters representing the timeline. Since it covers 4000 years and more, it is a representative history of human civilization as well. Whew! In one of the stories the protagonist is an old knight of the crusades. He recounts the vision he has on encountering some of the Knights Templar, who persuade him to build a church with a circular architecture, so that 'the devil has no corners to hide in.' In Hindu philosophy, the circle is the supreme schematic, the 'karmic cycle', eternal repetition. In Aleister Crowley’s magick, there is a distinct difference between invocation and evocation. As Crowley explains 'to 'invoke' is to 'call in', just as to 'evoke' is to 'call forth'. This is the essential difference between the two branches of Magick. In invocation, the macrocosm floods the consciousness. In evocation, the magician, having become the macrocosm, creates a microcosm. You 'in'voke a God into the Circle. You 'e'voke a Spirit into the Triangle. I was watching Jaan-e-mann, a recent Hindi film with Salman Khan (review later), and in it is a love triangle. But each triangle is also a mirror, as in each character mirrors the other in the triangle, and so the effect of the narrative is a kaleidoscopic pattern. I came across another triangle which Scott McCloud, comic book artist and theorist uses. He calls it the Big Triangle. In the lower left corner is 'Visual Resemblance', the right


corner is 'Symbolic Abstraction' and at the top is pure Form, sort of the Platonic Ideal plane of images.


The spiral in reality…

It suddenly occurred to me that the horror evoked in the the manga Uzumaki, actually exists in REALITY! Except that it is not presented as a horror, but a harmony. Uzumaki is a highly successful horror manga by Junji Ito. In it, people of a small seaside town get obsessed by the from of the spiral and bizarre events start taking place around them. Towards the end, the entire town is reconstructed in a spiral shape. I was blown out of my mind when I figured that the futuristic Auroville City in Pondicherry is designed in a spiral shape, the idea being that the spiral will focus the cosmic energies. Two opposite views of the same idea… March 4, 2007 The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers– review This is the second 'graphic novel' by India’s one and only 'graphic novelist' Sarnath Banerjee. First of all, it is a huge improvement over the first one called Corridor. The themes are similar (bibliophilia, frustrated love affairs, Ibn Batuta) the characters are similar, the pseudo-existential angst is similar except that it is a longer narrative at 263 pages. The drawing has improved a wee-bit but thats about it. Now get ready for a lengthy rant!


Firstly the technical standards. the printing is AWFUL to say the least . Penguin Publishers suck when it comes to print quality. The low budget shows. To be sure, the graphic novel (how I hate that term!) is not such a hot selling proposition, so thanks to Penguin for bringing one out, but hey, whats the point if the print quality is shoddy. It will deliberately kill even the curiosity aspect of the high-brow comic. Sarnath’s drawing is sloppier, so actually Penguin shouldnt be blamed so much for bad reproduction. Pencil outlines show through the inking in many pages, and frame outlines are drawn carelessly, all in the name of being fashionably artistic. It just looks BAD, period. As for the story, he thinks name-dropping will do the trick. Well, it does not. Check this one out– 'Like Derrida in conversation with Foucault. Endless analysis, too preoccupied to


have sex'. Man, this is the heights! To me, its just snobbish bad taste! Its irritating even to the person who has actually read Derrida and Foucault. Stylistically, the sudden appearance of photographs is even more irritating. It seems like he was just too lazy to draw, so he just stuck photos instead. Cheap arty trick. The figure drawings superimposed on the photos look like some hastily done school project. And finally, I dont know which marker pen or ink he was using, because the blacks are uneven even where they shouldnt be, like in frame outlines. India’s first 'graphic novelist' (how I hate that word!) should be forced to do much better, if only because there are lots of others, me included, who want to contribute to the genre. No more sloppy frame lines next time, and get out of this upper crust Delhi bibliophilia. Just try telling a straightforward story, so that you can avoid stupid criticisms like Ajit Duara’s in 'The Hindu' newspaper, where he says, 'the narrative technique of Mr.Banerjee is somewhat closer to Jean-Luc Godard than it is to Karan Johar'. C’mon, gimme a break! March 19, 2007 300– The hall was nearly full at the local multiplex in Kolkata, and some actually clapped at the punchline dialogues. What made 300 an exciting movie was that it was just like an Hindi action movie, with every retort loud and clear and every action sequence over-thetop. As a pure adrenalin rush macho action movie, it was a winner, but when it comes to the subtler story aspects, it leaves much to be desired. For one, turning a historical subject into a grand fantasy doesnt work very well, when you consider that in today’s political climate, the Persians can easily be read as Islamic and the Greeks as Christians, even though the historical period is much much before Christ. The Persians actually followed the Zoroastrian faith as the state religion. The strange Orientalist costumes of the Persians, though very chic, was a bit too out of the way, I thought. The warmongering rhetoric in the name of freedom, justice and reason sounds suspiciously like a man named George W. Bush, currently King of the American Empire. In fact, historically, the Persians were the first in the world to give some thought to human rights, and it was the Spartans who were a military society. Cyrus the Great, king of the Persian Empire about 50 years before the battle that has been depicted in 300, created the Cyrus Cylinder, considered to be the first declaration of human rights. Cyrus's principles of ruling influenced the creators of the Unites States Constitution. Thats irony for you! However, allegories can be slippery. One can also look at the Persian Empire in the


film as the Americans, and the beleaguered Greeks as the Islamic militants. One has to be careful with allegories... Sivaji-There’s a north Vs south fight happening on the rediff review page of Sivaji– There are comments like this for example– ' Hey Northi’s… rajani belongs to a marathi family who is basically from north India. now what do you say? Movies are for entertainment. Some like and some dont like. If some people dont like, close your holes and shut up. Dont hurt others. Lets end this. We south Indians are descent and never comment about your movies. We all very well know what kind of poeple you are. I understood watching kabhi alvida nah kehna. You guys like to sleep with other’s wife.' I am loving it! The ancient north-south divide has reared its ugly head again! Many of the comments have been removed because of abusive language. Strange that a Rajini movie is causing so much consternation among people. I guess southerners have historically liked to portray themselves as underdogs challenging the dominant mass culture, which is Hindi culture. Recently I feel this underdog is getting more confident and entertaining the idea that maybe Tamil pop culture could have the potential to overtake Hindi (as in Punjabi) pop culture, which is the dominant expression in Bollywood. A phenomenon that illustrates the divide is the fact that Tamil movies have an audience in Japan, while Hindi movies have a fan base in Europe. There seems to be an Eastern (south-east Asia, far East) influence on southern pop culture while there is a lot of Western (European/middle east) influence in the Hindi pop culture For example I feel more South people love Asian martial arts flicks than Northerners. We have also seen Rajinikant wear samurai costume in a cheap imitation of imagery from Akira Kurosawa's film Ràn. The North had centuries of dominant Islamic cultural influences (which made the Hindi language possible in the first place) whereas that influence wasnt strong in the South, which is perhaps why you have some very very hardcore orthodox Hindus in the deep south. The southern Hindu temple rituals are part of an unbroken tradition from much before the Islamic time. Historically, the southerners have always resisted the


authority of Delhi. I am a south Indian, and my parents are Kannada speakers. Having lived equal amounts of time in both the north and the south, it seems to me that there is a big cultural difference, if not so much of a political difference. Even the biggest Hindi blockbusters run to half empty theatres in the south. I guess years of stereotyping in mass media by both sides has made this divide deeper. To me the divide is more like a war of style, sort of like how break dance gangs would compete over who’s the cooler one. Out here cinema is the arena where the style war plays out– a war between the Hindi 'krishna' type hero (cool, loverboy, beautiful, a fighter only when required, Krrish) versus the Tamil 'Shiva' type hero (hot, temperamental, warrior from start-to-finish, Sivaji.) In the southern movies, love is a battle of the sexes. Hindi heroes have a cuteness factor. Tamil heroes are super virile males, whose machoness gets constantly questioned through the narrative… umm… I think I’m generalizing too much here, but having said that, I am definitely going to watch and hoot for 'thalaivar' Rajini as 'Sivaji' the Boss. September 26, 2007 Tokyo story-…so that was my first visit to a foreign country. I thought I would feel some sort of euphoria or awe since it was the first time, but strangely enough, I felt so much at home. In fact, at many occasions I felt much more sort of hyper-modern and 'in-the-know' than some of the Japanese friends out there. Makes sense though. The outsider’s point-of-view is macro so you see the larger picture. But you lose out on the tiny almost invisible local differences present in every culture. In the 21st century, I feel the gaps between cultures are closing in. The machines in Japan didnt take me by surprise. I got used to them in no time. One must of course acknowledge the quality and the precision of those machines. They work like a dream! Low on maintenance. Almost every process is automated. Automation is the magic mantra in Japan. Even in fast food restaurants, you drop coins and press a button on the item you want to eat, and you get a bill, and you show it at the counter and within minutes you get hot fresh rice and beef curry (dont know what its called in Japanese!) Partly because of the speed generated by automation, every process is fast. And since the machines are fast, humans have a lot of catching up to do-- because nobody in Japan wants to be late. To be on time is a matter of pride and honour, so being late wont do! So as a culture, to facilitate that honour, trains have to work on time, buses have to run on time, restaurants have to serve food fast so people dont have to wait. I was actually doing everything at double the speed I would do in India. This clock-work precision is perhaps not something intrinsic to Japan. I guess all technologically


advanced countries work that way. I am marveling at this precision because its the first time I actually experienced this on a societal scale. Best of all are their commodes, which are 'shit disposal machines'– they have solved the Indian problem of having to use a western toilet and not being able to wash your bums with water. Indian loos have a little tap next to the commode or a modified shower spray. Japanese commodes have a button on the side which, when pressed, sprays a jet of warm water exactly on your asshole (and when I say 'exactly', I mean it!) Then there is an odour dispensing machine which kills off the smell. The flush is designed in such a way as to use the least amount of water. That was some high-tech commode I used in Tokyo! Cool! Pink is the dominant colour I saw in Japan, and along with that all the pastel shades. The Pink fetish I think comes from their national obsession with the Sakura (cherry) tree. Their pink blossoms cover the entire country in spring. Even our documentary that was been shown on NHK had a title sequence which had a pink map of India! Their biggest obsession I would say is manga and animé. They are just about everywhere. Every Monday morning the latest issues of Weekly Jump and Shojo Beat and Young and Big Comic Spirits are stacked in the stalls only to disappear the same day. These comic magazines are the size of telephone books containing about 600 pages and they churn these out EVERY WEEK! They contain about 15-20 long stories which are serialized. The more successful ones are released in book form (called 'tankobon'.)


I bought a Weekly Jump on a Monday morning and the book was actually hot, and smelled of fresh ink! My feeling is that the Japanese consume more comics and animation than live action images. When I saw live action images on Japanese TV it seemed to me to be old and antiquated. The movements and mannerisms of animated people were more alive to me for some reason. It is interesting that most Japanese animated stories feature real human characters in addition to monsters and robots and fantastic cute creatures. The humans are mostly the main protagonists. In most of the popular American animation, like Disney for example, the main characters are not human but anthropomorphic figures. In Tom and Jerry for instance, the human owner of the cat Tom is never seen in the face, while the animals behave in a most human-like way. In Japanese animation, cats dont talk, they purr and behave like cats, like in reality. The Japanese idea of a superhero is something like half-machine half-human, or maybe even fully a robot. The overarching theme, the grand narrative, as it were, of Japanese comics and animation is the three-way relationship between man, nature and technology. Many of the stories talk about how to balance these forces and live in some sort of harmony. But there are equally popular genres of sports manga, girls romance, gay love, samurai, fantasy, horror, satire, kids stories… well just about every sort of story. Japan was a revelation. I understood an idea of modernity which is perhaps an improvement over what the Europeans created with the Enlightenment. November 20, 2007 A comic strip I started drawing.


June 18, 2008 Power to the people-V.S.Naipaul has been a late discovery for me. I had ignored his books succumbing to the liberal Indian prejudice against his work. Now I realize how important it is to do one's own research and make up one's own mind. I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading his India books. I found an original, inquiring mind at work there. In the last of his India books, A Million Mutinies Now (1990), he talks to ex-naxalites, the middle class Bengali college kids who had first started it. What I liked was that he spliced in another opposite story of the Kolkata business world at the time, just as the old British companies were readjusting to the new realities. Contrast, ironic juxtaposition, is what he uses to get at that historical time. Naipaul strips both the realities, lays it bare, 'looks' at what is there, reacts to it. He sees Kolkata as a dying body never to recover. I’ve lived there for seven years, saw that ghostly afterlife that it lives in. I had friends whose fathers were ex-naxalites. Now their kids have been brought up in normal middle class circumstances, reconciled to the fact that they can never match the the idealism and daring-do of their parents. To pass the time, they do smack (I’ve done it too), bored to death. I wondered whether their parents, ex-naxalites had done drugs. Naipaul’s testimonies of the naxalite movement made me look up the Internet. I found lots of blogs. Long extensive reports of martyrdoms, killings, and counterkillings. One of the recent martyrs was Saketh Rajan aka. Comrade 'Prem'. I was surprised to read that he was an upper-class Iyengar Brahmin and came from an affluent family in Mysore. My mother is from Mysore, and from a similar background. He even did a Mass Communications course in IIMC, Delhi. He was killed by police in 2005. His old black and white photo shows him smiling. He was handsome. He wrote a two volume history of Karnataka. He was an intellectual. The website mentions, 'His dressing style was a major sore point with his father who was a Major with the Indian Army. He used to constantly reprimand young Saketh Rajan to wear better clothes and buy new ones.' What strikes me about the revolutionaries is the emphasis on melodrama and emotion and the religious zeal. However, the leaders themselves seem to be cold and calculating, analytical, emotionless. This came across to me as I read the account of one ex-naxalite in Naipaul’s book. He talks of the meeting in Kolkata when Charu


Mazumdar, then leader of the naxalite movement, gave the call for 'individual killings' of 'class enemies' as part of their action. Charu Mazumdar’s character came across in that account as naive and passionless, even though the ex-naxalite describes his speeches as immensely inspiring. He says that Charu Mazumdar loved the peasants more than anyone. Passion! But it didn’t come across to me. Charu Mazumdar had asthma. So do I. It made me wonder about Comrade Prem. Reading that blog about him filled me with unease and nausea. It is full of romance. The romance of rebellion. The red colour almost had religious sanctity. I thought about the act of war, what it means. You have to be completely desensitized in order to fight. The army is organized like that. I studied in Sainik School, where students are prepared to join the Indian defence forces. I thought about the psychological disturbance caused when one becomes radicalised because of conscience and emotion and sensitivity, then goes on to wage a war, which calls for complete de-sensitivity. You cannot think of emotions when you kill! Mao was apparently ruthless. From wikipedia (which might be baised)– It is estimated that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, perished in the violence of the Cultural Revolution. When Mao was informed of such losses, particularly that people had been driven to suicide, he blithely commented: “People who try to commit suicide — don’t attempt to save them! . . . China is such a populous nation, it is not as if we cannot do without a few people.” Suicide. This brings me to P.Sainath, whose speech in an American university I found on the Net, while checking out articles on the naxal movement. Sainath is a famous journalist, whose work on the agrarian crisis in India post-globalization is well known. In the speech, he spoke passionately about the farmer suicides in Vidarbha and elsewhere. His method was to deconstruct the media, and point out disinformation, and use juxtaposition and statistics to show the injustice and inequality of the world we live in. It was impressive, and persuasive. The speech was laced with humour. But he ended on a strange and dark note. He gave an analogy from history. When Nero wanted to regain popularity after the great fire of Rome, he decided to give the biggest party ever given in the history of Rome, to distract people from the grim reality. There were thousands of guests. But there was a problem. How to light such a huge area at night. So they got slaves, crucified them, burnt them, and in that light the party went on. Sainath then likens the insensitive elite and the rich middle class to the guests of the party. They watched and


went on partying, ignoring reality. I felt a pang for an instant. He was appealing to my guilt and conscience. Here was the emotion and passion again, that transformed an academic into an orator, capable of inspiring people into action. I thought how easy it is after listening to that speech, to go out, take a gun and shoot the landlord and the evil capitalist. I imagined that Charu Mazumdar’s speech to his fellow naxalites in Kolkata, must have had this kind of an effect. It would have been so easy for Sainath to call for armed struggle at the end of the speech. It was that convincing and well founded, his arguments. But picking up a gun means to paradoxically let go of all the emotion that led you to pick up the gun in the first place. I remember having been given rifle training in Sainik School. We even had shooting competitions. The guns were the old British, World War II, Lee-Enfield .303 rifles, which I’m sure many naxalites use till today, apart from AK-47s. We were taught how to use the bayonet, how to pump it through sandbags, that stood for human stomachs. There was no thrill I felt doing all that. No romanticism. None of my friends felt it either. We couldnt differentiate it from toy guns, even though we shot bullets through them. No emotion. I only remember the gun being very heavy, and the punishment was to carry the gun over your head and run around the field. But if you are an idealist, and a revolutionary, and want to bring about social change, and then you pick up that gun, my feeling is that it will simply make you into a bad soldier. That’s because the driving impulse is emotion, conscience and the romantic dream of a better world. All these appeals to the conscience are for middle-class people like me, out of whom some would no doubt become radicalised. I guess the really oppressed people wouldn’t give a damn about emotions. They would be better soldiers. The structure of the naxal army reflects the one in the Indian army. The officers, (like comrade Prem, whose father was actually an army officer) are drawn from the middle-class, urban, city-people, while the jawans are from the lower classes, farmers, villagers, tribals. I wonder how many tribal poor have become commanders/officers among the Maoist forces. Perhaps there are a few. I remember now that when I was in Sainik School, there was a teacher who claimed he was an ex-naxalite. In Sainik School! A government run school meant to train kids to join the military! And there was this person who used to tell us stories in class about his naxalite experience! Incredible, now that I think about it. Even more strange was when he married a woman police constable! (I guess you eventually fall in love with what you hate the most.) He used to write Tamil short stories, many of them about social concerns. I had drawn his portrait which was published in his first collection. It was in his classes that I first learnt about the word 'naxalite'. He and his wife even came to our marriage. That was very strange to me. That handsome Mysore Iyengar boy, this government


school teacher, that Presidency College physics student from Naipaul’s book, (he even did his Ph.D in England after being released from jail), those parents of my film school friends in Kolkata, they were all in some way part of this armed revolt against the state. They all came from moderately well-to-do families like mine. Urban, educated, middleclass. Sainath, in his speech, was appealing precisely to this section of society. We are those people who just sit and watch and don’t do a thing. Some of 'us', however, did something, and we joined an armed rebellion. We took revolution to the masses. We killed. We got killed. Intense…morbid…passion! That’s where my thoughts end. That’s the end of thought. Capitalism! Makes me think about the west, the 'whites'. They decimated each other around 70 years ago, destroyed their own traditions, destroyed everything, yet Europe is still there, modern as ever, as though the world war never happened. But strangely, it is the same with Japan. When I went to Japan, I saw nothing that reminded me of its violent and destructive recent history. Something about the romanticism of the naxalite (now Maoist) movement disturbs me. Can a large scale violent struggle against the state in India happen? If it has to succeed, we will have to annihilate our society first, like they did elsewhere. Then a long period of civil war, then visionary leaders, then consolidation. The pain of history repeating itself will have to be endured. My mind goes giddy thinking of it. The idea of revolution is no less than the idea of the apocalypse, and revolutionary writings are forms of eschatology, equal to the older religious eschatology. (Charu Mazumdar too wrote one, with the bureaucratic title 'Historic Eight Documents'.) Only difference is, the allegory turns Real in the idea of revolution. It is a nightmare, in the hope that when we wake up, there will be a messianic age, a utopia, equality and justice for all. Isn’t that what is promised by religion?


June 20, 2008 Tokyo Diary--


June 26, 2008 Savita Bhabhi-Finally! At last! The thing I’ve been waiting for! An Indian porn comic! Savita Bhabhi is an online comic by a bunch of enthusiasts which has been around for some time now, but I only just got to know about it. Even as some comic enthusiasts in India have been plodding on amidst a lot of ideological confusion trying to make some kind of cool, hip, urban comic, here is something that is direct, urgent, and unabashedly expresses itself as Savita Bhabhi–a horny, married (married! with sindoor and all that!) middle-class auntie hungry for sex– what’s great about the comics is it does its job very well– I for one, got a decent hard-on reading it– this is way better than any snooty 'graphic novel' bullshit that’s been in the Indian comics market, and way better than Virgin Comics, who are trying to sell some version of Indian mythology wrapped in the latest superhero fashion. As an Indian male reader, Savita Bhabhi is someone I can fantasize about, and yet we are still such a long way off from getting Indian girls have their kicks through Indian comics. This is not to say that Savita Bhabhi has great artwork or great story. My enthusiasm is because I can see that this is an expression that is coming 'unadulterated' (um…is there a pun here?) from the minds of these artists. There is no Deepak Chopra here telling them how the characters can be licensed and be used to make anything from coffee mugs to grand Hollywood franchises. To me, its a tiny step forward from the Chacha Chaudhury days. It’s high time Indian comics got rid of done-to-death mythological stories and super heroes, and get into our homes and bedrooms, and ultimately our minds, and show all those kinky and crazy and volatile thoughts that are breeding there like cockroaches in the kitchen sink!


June 27, 2008 Tamil pulp fiction-One of the problems with being an English speaking Indian is that you lose out on so much of exciting pop culture coming out of the various Indian languages. One such is the explosive pulp fiction scene in Tamil. I live in Coimbatore, and until recently, I never knew that one of the most prolific authors of fiction in Tamil lives in the same town. He has written about 1200 novels, tons of short stories and is a literary star! His name is Rajesh Kumar. I got to know all this thanks to the new Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction. For English readers, there’s a veneer of ironic distance and cool quotient involved in the very idea of taking out this book. But its best to approach this with as little cynicism as possible. For one, there is nothing like this for English readers. There is absolutely no Indian-English cheap popular fiction. Whoever loves this kind of stuff has to make do with foreign bestsellers. That’s something strange about the English speaking culture in India. We refuse to look at ourselves as a 'local' culture. We don’t seem to want to read about people-like-ourselves. Even when I see contemporary Indian English comics, there’s little that talks about us and our lives around us. This doesn’t mean that I’m vouching for some naive 'realism'. It’s simply that most of the stories don’t seem to resonate with our lived experience as urban middle-class English speakers. It’s also important to recognize that most of us speak more than one language, and are not unfamiliar with local language cultures. And yet, there is nothing for English readers of the type of fiction that these cheap 10 rupee Tamil magazines offer. They are not great for the originality of their stories. But they are great for creating characters that feel and smell like people we’ve seen and met in our lives. That’s affecting. It was interesting for me to compare the Tamil pulp fiction culture with the Japanese manga culture, since I’m making a documentary on it. I see many parallels. Both are narrative oriented forms, magazine-style,cheap, serialized stories. Both types of authors are prolific (Rajesh Kumar writes at least 10 pages a day, manga artists typically draw 23 pages a day, which is a lot!), magazine titles are generally generic, like Big Comic or Weekly Boys Comic for manga, and Super Novel, or Great Novel for Tamil pulp fiction. Both forms have a certain degree of self-reflexivity, where they address the reader directly. Both have an equal representation of male and female writers, and have both male and female fans. I also found some similarities in some of the cover art. Both forms have genres, like mystery, romance, science fiction, detective fiction. I am not sure


though, how exciting Tamil science fiction is…I’m curious to find out. In the translator’s introduction, she confesses to reading these stories in the school bus, where the driver would lend the magazines kept under his seat. That’s the kind of detail that interests me, because I see these things in everyday life. But in a lot of Indian English fiction, such details get obscured under the weight of grand historicalphilosophical statements– check out even some random titles, The Alchemy of Desire, The God of Small Things, The Inheritance of Loss– weighty titles! So, ignoring much of the well-marketed Indian-English fiction, I read Hurricane Vaij and Sweetheart! Please Die! and Idhaya 2020, hungering for more translations of full-length Tamil pulp fiction. June 29, 2008 Room No. 47-I first noticed Room No. 47 and other occurrences of the number 47 in David Lynch’s films Lost Highway and Inland Empire. In these films, strange events occur in Room no. 47. When I went to Tokyo for the first time, one evening we went to dinner at a dungeon themed restaurant, where customers are taken in handcuffs to prison cell like cubicles and are served food there. We happened to go to cell no. 47. And then, recently, I was reading V.S.Naipaul’s India: A Million Mutinies Now, and in one of the chapters, he talks about Jarnail Singh Bindranwale, the Sikh leader and militant who was killed by Indian Army in the Golden Temple at Amritsar. When he had lived in the temple, he held court at Room No. 47 in the rest houses inside the temple complex. Room No. 47… July 1, 2008 The Renaissance of Indian Pop Music-I think Indian pop music, or Bollywood film music, if you like, is going through a renaissance. It’s better than it has ever been, and I think Indian pop music can even make it to the top of the international pop charts. BUT, the only missing link is a face! Pop music needs a face, a star, and India does not have it, yet. That’s because of a curious aesthetic magic in Indian cinema in which the voice of the singer is 'stolen' and transmuted into the actor, so that all the power of the music is hijacked by the hero/actor/ star, leaving the musician faceless. It is strange that the convention of lip-syncing continues to this day! I think Indian pop music has opened up so much because of the use of electronic, processed sounds, which I feel to a large extent liberated film music from its dependence on 'playback' singers. The reason film singers were called 'playback' singers is because the song is first recorded in a studio and then while it is being pictured with actors, the

song is literally 'played back' on location while the actor moves his/her lips. These days, with the increasing complexity of the processed voice and the pace of songs, lip-syncing is getting more and more difficult, but nevertheless, the convention remains. Even though western pop music has had a wide influence on Indian film music, the older music directors never actually used western style singing. When remixing of film music started in the late nineties, all this changed. Suddenly, Hindi film music became history, became antique, and therefore valuable as artefact. In these early remixes, they would include a bit of English rap, or reggae vocals around heavily processed electronic beats, over which some really old Hindi film song would be sung, and revived for a new generation. A.R.Rahman really upped the standard for film music when he started using electronic sounds and foreign rhythms like reggae and hip-hop. I always wonder why this didn’t happen earlier. Maybe with the earlier system, where singing dominated and the 'orchestras' played, and the music 'director' directed the arrangements, it was simply not feasible to create a real mix of western and Indian. The remix boom gradually opened up the film music scene, because, with all the sampling, a lot of musicians with a little imagination could hope to bring out a remix album, if not actually make film songs. It reduced the entry barriers, which are still very high in the filmmaking scene, like acting or directing. So, while the film industry needed a drastic makeover after the dead-end of the eighties, it was the new film music that gave it the needed boost of energy. But this energy turned out to be too strong for the film industry. The music evolved so rapidly that the faces, the stars who lip synch and the directors who picture the songs are still trying to match up. Film music still stays far ahead of the curve, and is the most vibrant and creative aspect of a popular Indian film. The acting, story, direction are too far behind and archaic, rooted to the old Indian theatrical conventions. So far, the film industry has been riding on the backs of music industry. And the Indian film industry is all about music and dance. But its high time that the music industry starts finding its own 'voice', and not succumb to the filmstars hijacking the voice through lip-syncing. Filmstars, dance all you want, but leave the singing to the singers, who deserve their own stardom.


July 7, 2008 a dream-Since I’ve been reading a lot of V.S.Naipaul these days, (a late discovery), I had a dream last night of a meeting with him. I ask him whether he has written anything about his sexual life, and then he shows me his autobiography, in which there is a chapter titled 'A Manly World', where he talks about his childhood and his sexual life. He even shows a childhood photo! Naipaul has never written an autobiography. But his work is full of autobiographical events. I think that is better than writing 'the story of your life'. A writer must become the sum of his work. I often get dreams where I meet this or that person I happen to be engaging with in waking life. It is as if I can’t meet them in reality, so I meet and talk to them in dreams. I was reading Beyond Belief the other day, Naipaul's account of his travels in non-Arab Islamic states, where he talks in a chapter to a former Pakistani revolutionary. Pakistan had its own naxalite-type armed revolutionary movement at the same time as in India (late 60s-early 70s), and was crushed as strongly as here. Naipaul is against armed struggle of the Marxist type. I noticed that whenever he meets revolutionaries he asks them one common question. 'Have you read Turgenev’s Virgin Soil(1877)?' All the revolutionaries he talks to haven’t read it. Naipaul is of the opinion that if only they had read that book, they would have understood the problems of revolutionary politics in a better light, and perhaps not made the mistakes that they did. When Naipaul asked the Pakistani revolutionary about Virgin Soil, he says that he didn’t relate fiction to his political development. Revolutionary texts on the other hand, are short, simplistic and very abstract. I tried reading Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels, and I found it full of axiomatic sentences that I found hard to engage with. It only left me with a lot more questions. July 15, 2008 low-tech-It seems that the Japanese, when it comes to communication, or expression of ideas, always prefer low-tech, as opposed to the West, where they really pay attention to design and the 'look' of the whole thing. For example, in comics, they prefer black & white instead of colour, TV graphics are cheap and functional, websites are extremely lowtech– just see Comiket’s site– its the world’s largest comics convention, and it doesn’t have a single image on its homepage! The site-meter counts more than 16 million hits since 1998. It's popular, yet without any frills, purely doing the job its supposed to do. Other examples: animation is mostly 2-D, and hand-drawn frame-by-frame, and even as


they shift to computer animation, they prefer to keep the style to look as if it were handdrawn. The Americans go to great lengths trying to perfect 3-D, but the Japanese don’t care about Disney/Pixar style animation. It seems that for Japanese, the motto is to say the most with the least. Economy of style. July 18, 2008 Documentary filmmaking and caste politics-Here is an excerpt of an article by documentary filmmaker Amudhan R.P. from Madurai, posted on his blog.
‘The new wave: But there is a small problem which is both internal and external. There is a new trend emerging in Indian documentaries now. It may not be obvious, but it is subtle. Or it is both. It is the new wave of personal films. These films are also apolitical. They are negating the whole concept of wider audiences. It is almost equal to multiplex wave of filmmaking in Indian feature film industry. It is almost equal to exclusive film shows organized by European film producers in 1890s to 1920’s. Let me explain that. A feature film recently in Tamil language did very well in box office of multiplex cinemas in big cities while almost bombed in smaller towns. The film was based on cosmetic love story portraying urban life with consumerism as a core value. The cost of tickets in multiplexes is too high, that the film need not do well in smaller towns at all. In other words the common people of Tamilnadu need not participate in that film. Despite that the film can do well. The film catered to urban audience with particular sensibilities and values. It is a sign to show the power of multiplex cinema and of course money. This can lead to exclusive cinema and a reverse to what happened in 1930’s where cinema had to include people from all strata of society to succeed economically. It is also happening to Indian documentary. The films commissioned and broadcast by PSBT or NDTV are of the same nature where only soft issues are dealt with. Serious political issues are not encouraged and more and more film makers are falling into that trap. Although there is nothing wrong in making personal and artistic films, they should not be the only documentaries that are made in this country. If documentary as a form is left to urban film makers alone that can become a reality. Although there are 100 functioning documentary filmmakers in Mumbai alone, not one documentary on farmer’s suicides has been made so far. Such is the social responsibility of an urban filmmaker. When Films Division lost interest in producing documentaries in 1980’s due to political and economical compulsions, only independent and activist film makers took it up. They begged, borrowed and robbed money from somewhere and somehow made documentaries dealing with serious political issues facing lot of difficulties. They also took the films to the people. They screened not only their own films. They screened films made by others too. Suddenly it is being propagated as an outdated concept. Articles are written about. Interviews are published. That people’s documentary or activist documentary is gone. Now the new genre of personal and artistic films has some specific characters. They need not face audiences. They do not have the responsibility of catering to general public. They have international film festivals and international funding. Nothing comes in between them and victory. More and more filmmakers from film schools and institutes are also taking up this style of film making and producing. It is almost like multiplex cinema. In fact some of the new documentaries are also being screened in multiplexes these days. Although one can see it as another space for screening, it can also lead to exclusiveness.


There is also a danger when the apolitical style of filmmaking is getting standardized and popularized through film festivals and awards. Documentary as a form is getting slowly appropriated by such personal and artistic expressions. In a country like India where caste and creed play an important role in access to any resource, such appropriation is a dangerous sign. It can also lead to a documentary Brahminism. In fact it is moving in that direction. There is space for all kinds of documentaries in India. Artistic, avant-garde, impressionist, cinema verité, personal, political, issue based etc., what ever you call it. But if we succumb to the obsession of shooting ourselves we might end up creating multiplex documentaries alone. However, there are solutions too. Village festivals: India is going through a difficult period politically and economically. More and more billionaires emerge amidst the dead bodies of fellow Indians who happen to be poor farmers, dalits and adivasis. Land, water, sea, forest and air are being taken over by the state and corporate sector in the name of development using “law and order” as a cover. With the failure of media and major political parties to represent ordinary people of India, independent media has all the more social responsibility for the new political forces to emerge. To make use of documentary as a political form to raise serious political questions about the direction in which the state is led to, the medium has to reach people. The audiences are waiting there in rural areas to watch and discuss films. The film festivals have to go to villages. The film makers should be made accountable for their films. If they face people, the ordinary people instead of just festival and television audiences, more films reflecting people’s aspirations will be created. More new filmmakers with new experiences, new perspectives and new stories from rural areas will emerge. That is the true media democracy.’

A very interesting debate has been raised here. There seems to be a caste warfare within the documentary circuit too! Wonder what he’ll think about my films, which completely fit with his description of the kind of degradation that Indian documentaries have been going through– made by 'Brahmin', for PSBT and international channels, 'personal', 'shooting themselves’, 'urban oriented'. Are these traits to be seen as faults, and against social responsibility? My own view regarding social responsibility of the artist is that, being an artist, one has already given up any social responsibility, because merely the act of picking up a camera and shooting something puts you in a particular position with regard to the 'people' you film. The most an artist can do is to 'see', and by his or her own 'seeing', hope that others will also 'see'. Thats the outer limit of what an artist can do. As a hyper-urban, English speaking filmmaker, I can understand Amudhan’s particular frustration. It’s the self-indulgence and the apolitical nature of many of the urban documentaries. His solution for this is to take the films to the 'people' of the villages and let them judge their worth. But this is implying too much value on the power of documentaries. It is an arrogant view. My answer to that is a documentary filmmaker is like the cops in old Hindi movies, always reaching the spot too late, and mostly after the villain has been caught. A

documentary or non-fiction film (I like this later term) is always already after-the-fact. Even if you were in the middle of an event, capturing it rather like a war photographer, the film itself does nothing to stop the event from occurring, and moreover, it is in the interest of the filmmaker that the event actually occur so that he or she can film it! Thats the diabolical position of a filmmaker, whether fiction or documentary. Simply by creating a 'looker' and the 'looked at', the filmmaker is in a privileged position. So my clever, cunning 'brahminical brain' makes the argument that every filmmaker is by default a 'Brahmin' so to speak, (in the abusive use of the word!) If filmmakers want to do something useful and actually stop being self-indulgent, the should keep their cameras at home, and go out and do whatever little they can to help someone in distress. But if you want to be a filmmaker, be aware that you are merely watching that distress from behind a camera. If you are then able to make meaning out of that image you have filmed, then thats the best you have done. OK, time to dig my nose! July 24, 2008 The Nature of Sebald’s prose-To write about Sebald’s singular prose style, I thought one must first observe some of the various aesthetic techniques he has employed– –The text has uniform spacing of 1.5 lines. This tends to make the text visually stronger, like in children’s books. –Photographs don’t have any captions. –All photos and other images are reproduced in very low quality black and white. –Many photos are cropped. –There are no quotation marks. –The word 'Nature' is always with a capital 'N'. –Every character he talks to is named. –His works are full of names in fact; names of trees, streets, insects, people, towns… July 28, 2008 manga in India– by Yukichi Yamamatsu- veteran manga author We discovered Yukichi Yamamatsu’s work quite by chance, in Tokyo. We were walking along the publishing area of Tokyo, called Jimbucho, where the biggest manga publishing companies have their offices. We saw Shueisha and Shogakukan’s (two of the biggest manga publishers) buildings, and I couldn’t imagine that a comics company can have a skyscraper as its headquarters! Among them are nestled hundreds more smaller companies. On one of the window displays we noticed a book which had a Ganesha on


its cover. That was curious! So we decided go in and ask the publishers about it. Their offices were on the floor above. The editor we met told us about the author, Yukichi Yamamatsu, had gone to India with a quixotic mission to sell manga out there. His adventures included trying to start a manga school, making udon (a Japanese noodle) on the roadside in the dirtiest of slums near Patel Nagar, and doing a street stand-up comedy act in Hindi! His biggest enterprise however, was to get a manga translated in Hindi (he was insistent that it shouldn’t be in English) and try and sell them. The comic he chose was a late 60s work by Hiroshi Hirata, who specialized in samurai manga, called Chidaruma Kempo. He got a Japanese woman named Yoshio Takakura, (who was studying Hindi at JNU) to translate, got hundred copies printed, and took them to bookshops. They wouldn’t keep them, so he took them to the streets. Some copies got sold out of curiosity. The book has the dubious distinction of being the first manga to be translated into Hindi, unless Barefoot Gen was too (I am not sure.) The Hindi in the book is very strange because of a novice translation, but it only adds to the charm. After he got back to Japan, he wrote a book length manga about his experiences trying to sell manga in India. He called it Crazy guy goes to India. To me, its the BEST comic I’ve seen with Indian characters, apart from Orijit Sen’s River of Stories. It is humorous, not 'touristy' at all, and its everyday Delhi characters ring true. Even though I cannot read Japanese, I could more or less follow the sequence of events. We met Yukichi in Delhi after we got back from Tokyo. He was living in a ghetto in Patel Nagar in Delhi, amidst all the dirt and pollution. He was working on a new comic, this time an original Hindi short story called Cycle Rickshaw Waale Ki Dukaan. A very kind and helpful Japanese woman named Mayumi Ishikawa, who was also doing Hindi M.A. in JNU, did the translation and played interpreter for us when we spoke to him. The book took some time to get printed, and overall, it was a vastly improved effort from the first one. Funnily, we received some copies of the 30 page comic while we were Japan. A Japanese mangaka giving us a Hindi manga in Japan! Strange! He graciously allowed us to upload Cycle Rickshaw Waale Ki Dukaan on the Net. I thought such an effort by a manga author says something about how the Japanese view the art of comics. It is seen right from the beginning as 'self-expression' of a kind, author-driven, and completely in the service of the story. They prefer simple iconography to indicate feelings. They don’t place a huge importance on being able to draw 'well' in the western sense. Rather, the more simply you can convey the idea and the story, the better. The important thing for them is to practice how to use the page, as in panel divisions and creating the impressions of sound and motion. Mayumi, the translator, told


us about the scruples in getting Indian sounds right. The key thing in manga is the relevant use of icons for every feeling that you want to convey. It is no surprise that manga in general has a much less word count than western comics.


September 24, 2008 Replies to a Hindustan Times journalist, who asked these questions about why Indian animation has not come of age-The money is good in animation but quality in terms of design/art/storyline is still a problem. What could be the reasons for this? Would lack of talent be one of them? Exposure? Understanding? My understanding is that Indian visual arts has had a broken tradition out of which it has not yet recovered. After Mughal miniatures, there was no development. Rather, the western style based on perspective realism was uneasily adopted, without conviction, with the result that we had the strange realism of the 'company school'. After independence, the art schools in India stressed rather naively on adopting the various styles of western modernism, which was introduced to students with little understanding of its implications. I say this because western modernism was an experimental genre that

was abandoning the foundations of western art (perspective realism.) Adopting it in another context like India without any knowledge of its history would lead to confusion. Thats exactly what happened, in my opinion. It resulted in an art without an aesthetic, and without popular patronage. Even now, the educated masses in India have absolutely no understanding of the meaning of western modernism in art. Jokes about abstract art are so common. In Indian art schools, the method of learning is archaic. Basically it consists of looking at bad reproductions (these days, with the Internet, quite good actually) which the teacher recommends, or which you have an affinity with, and then to get down and copy that style, with Indian subject matter, and create some style through that. In animation drawing, observation of nature, and movement of objects is paramount. This implicitly means being able to draw well in western perspective. In art schools, little emphasis is given to 'learning how to see and visualize objects'. This is called 'draughtsmanship' in western art. Draughtsmanship was also important in Mughal art, or even folk art, where every artist draws in exactly the same style. The success of Disney, for example, relies heavily on skilled draughtsmen, who could draw Mickey Mouse thousands of times in the exact same way. In animation, there is also an experimental modernist movement. In places like NID for example, where there is an animation course, people are exposed to this experimental animation without context, further problematizing the learning process. With little basic skills, how will one be able to understand such radical techniques. How would you imagine ‘original Indian content’ in animation, in this context? I don’t know. Do you think things would improve with Indian production houses setting up independent studios? I think a rethink on the status of art education in India would be the starting point. How will you fill the animation studios with people with weak drawing skills? As a culture, our understanding of visual art is very poor. March 10, 2009 Why I am not a Hindu-I didn’t understand the extent of irreversible cultural damage done to the Hindu civilization by the Muslim invasions until I read Naipaul. From our history textbooks, we are only told the narrative of a syncretic culture resulting from Islam’s interaction with Hindu culture. While that’s true, the story of the great decline of Indian culture, both


Hindu and Muslim is never told clearly. While trying to trace Indian painting traditions, I found out that the story just jumps from Ajanta in the 6th-7th century to Mughal miniatures in the 16th century. The in between years are all wiped out! The tradition was not passed on! Hindu art was absolutely destroyed by the Muslim invasions. This fact was never told to me. Mughal miniatures was essentially a Persian form, imported into India by the Mughal court. Its strange that even as I visited historical Hindu ruins, like Hampi for example, I never found out about the destruction. I took it for granted, as if it were some fairy tale. Its only after Naipaul does a bare-all account in his work that I understood. It is for this reason, among others, that Naipaul is hated by Indian liberals, and praised by Hindu nationalists. Reading his work, it became clear to me that both sides had misunderstood his work. Understanding this completely changed the ideas I had of my own growth. It is not that I never knew about it, but the destruction was very 'abstract' in my mind. I could not relate it to my own development. It was not a historical understanding. This psychological damage was obscured by recent political events of the nationalist movement against colonialism, and the even more recent upsurge of Hindu nationalist politics. It was never spoken of directly in R.K.Narayan’s stories that I read as a kid. Islam is almost non-existent in Malgudi (need to reread it to find out more), whereas Tipu Sultan is common knowledge in Mysore. Recently, in Coimbatore, where I live, and which Tipu had once made his domain, I went out to buy some audio equipment. It was a Muslim owned shop, called 'Khani Radio', and I overheard one of the Muslim salesmen there using the expression '…it is there since Hyder Ali’s time'. Hyder Ali, father of Tipu. So history is embedded in a casual turn of phrase. And yet I don’t know of the past disintegration of Hindu culture. In the south, especially, the illusion is even stronger because Hindu rituals are preserved. It feels as if it was something ancient that was surviving. The rituals are there, but the traditions are long gone. By traditions, I mean a living culture that is constantly evolving with successive generations. Clearly, now I recognize, the tradition is finished. The British-given new knowledge has replaced those traditions. And any move forward will have to acknowledge the historical destruction, and the British new knowledge that replaced it. Contrary to popular belief, one cannot reconcile by saying '…but Hinduism is not a religion, it is a way of life.' This statement implies a closed world, and Hinduism has no way to look outside. If all this sounds like some Hindutva propaganda, it is only because we have been unable to look at history without the narrow political lenses. Of course, by the time the British left, both Hindu and Islamic cultures were destroyed, and everyone’s essentially


in the same boat. Modern Indian art and literature barely talks about it. For me, as an artist, the only way forward is through the modern learning. There’s no point in trying to revive any of the old learning. What does this leave me with, a late-20th century post-colonial, growing up in India? Most importantly, a recognition that I don’t have a living tradition to draw on. 'Living' is the keyword here. While music and dance have recovered their traditions, visual art, sculpture and architectural traditions are lost forever. So I have to work my way through the European traditions. They are not my traditions, but I don’t have a choice. I’m glad I did that, in retrospect, because it has enabled me to engage with the world. Hindu metaphysics is a hermetic world. It doesn’t encourage the act of seeing outwardly. And it is overly complicated. It says everything at the same time. It deals in unimaginable abstractions. Periods of time and lengths and breadths of space for example. Some god takes one step and he’s crossed a whole universe. The yugas are mind boggling numbers. The ancient mythology, contrary to what many contemporary Indian thinkers say, cannot be adapted to our times. This is because there has been a decisive break. Colonial rule and Islamic rule before it has broken that chain of cultural links. The complete Hindu world that is required for such cultural references is no more. Whatever we have recovered now is something like a zombie, giving artificial life to a dead body. Till recently, all the Indian thinkers and writers I had read only spoke of the continuity of Hindu culture, as if the Hindu past was full and perfect and readily accessible. Recently, I realized that all this Hindu culture people talk about is a revival-bringing back the dead. This revival is only 150 years old. So there is a delusion we have about the Hindu, Indian past, and that was part of a political programme. It is not history. This past was written to get Indians together to dethrone the British. The political programme of Indian history continues today, causing much confusion. It is especially difficult for an artist, because nobody wants to see unblinkingly at the disintegrated Hindu and well as Islamic past. The Hinduism practised today is a phony revival, owing its specificities to the colonial era. It is for these reasons that I have to declare that I am not a Hindu. March 23, 2009 International Comics Conference in Thrissur, Kerala– A report. An academic conference on comics was held for the first time in Thrissur, Kerala. Finally we see mainstream academic interest in comics. I got to know of it only a few days before the event, because of my link with academia. Jadavpur University’s English


Dept, has the only English Literature course which includes a study of comics. Alka and me drove on our bike (Enfield Machismo, 350cc, 2000 model.) Ashoka Inn was one of those new hotels which seem to cater to foreign tourists coming to get ayurvedic massages. I thought the room was expensive, (Rs.1500 for double bed), but we took it. Anything for comics, huh!? The session began as soon as we arrived. About 30 people in the hall-- almost all students and academics. I realized I was the only one who had brought his own comic. I took 15 copies of Learning to See, and managed to sell 8 of them and 4 I gave away. John A. Lent, who could have been Santa Claus, was one of those. He is one of the most respected academic scholars of comics, and his journal International Journal of Comic Art, is of a very high standard. He had already made his speech before we arrived. We paid Rs.1000 each for registering. This included lunch.

The presentations on the first day were lack lustre I thought. The speakers were a mix of students, mostly from English literature, and teachers. The most well-presented and interesting was the one by Suchitra Mathur, who teaches in IIT Kanpur. Later she told me that she had taught the person who had printed my comic, Jaya Jha of . Her paper was about the origins and features of the Nagraj character. Using films, mythology, western superheroes she made the case that even though Nagraj was an imitation of western superheroes, it had been successfully localized to address a particular need. She

was one of the speakers on the second day, which began with me hurrying to the hall since I was to speak in the first session. Gokul, the organizer, had told me that I would speak, but it was nowhere in the schedule, so I assumed he had not approved my last minute addition. Eventually, I was the last speaker on the first session, called ‘The Asian Stage’ which was appropriate only to the lone Filipino student who spoke before me. I had 15 minutes and I thought that was too long for my short speech. I had grossly underestimated. By the time I related three anecdotes, it was already time. So I hurried up with the main subject, Anant Pai and Aabid Surti. Towards the end, there was a round-table discussion, which went haywire. It was the space for three Malayali gentlemen who had been hanging around since the beginning, to say something. One was Unny, the well-known Indian Express cartoonist, and P.Mohanan, a comics scholar who wrote a book on O.V.Vijayan’s cartoons, and a third person whose name I have forgotten. Their point was that cartoonists from Kerala were the pioneers of Indian comics and the graphic novel (G.Aravindan’s comic), and that we can teach a thing or two to the west. They expressed disappointment with the number of papers that concentrated on superheroes, while a Canadian teacher spoke with evangelical zeal about how the culture of the Goddess is returning and how comics were a reflection of that. The show of Malayali arrogance was a bit wearying for me. If they want their comics culture to be known outside their own state, it is Malayalis themselves who have to take the responsibility. We thought of leaving the same day, but decided then to spend some time with Rimi, the uber-cool Jadavpur English lecturer and novelist who is writing a comic called Kalpa. There were others too. One was Faroque Khan, a theatre person from Scotland, and two Bengali girl students from Jadavpur who were a study in contrast, and Angelica, the Canadian woman, and a Malayali lecturer from Symbiosis, Pune. The restaurant had live music playing those usual pop-rock numbers–Beatles, Bryan Adams, Eagles…most of which I can’t bear, but had to put up with. The thin, tiny, slightly dark-skinned 19 year old girl Moni had the loudest voice, spoke till she dropped, while the other student was well-rounded, fair, and spoke very softly, in a faux Western accent, which I thought quite strange in a Bengali. I had assumed she was brought up in America or something. But she was a typical Kolkata girl from South Point High School. As happens ever so often with Bengalis drinking, Moni soon started exhibiting drunk behaviour which Faroque wisely turned into a laugh marathon. Seven years in Kolkata have convinced me that drunk 'nautankis' are part of the very fabric of Bengali intellectual culture. Most of the time, I have found it an extreme nuisance. OK. Enough bitching. We drove out the next morning.


So then we’re back to the same question…where are the Indian comics? It seemed like academia is ahead of reality at the moment. Academics can be a great help to propagate and publicize the comics form, and in that light, we need to get the artists together with intellectuals. March 28, 2009 written language, religion, and some dates-Some comparative historical data. Buddha attained enlightenment in 528 BCE. Mahavira, the last Jain tirtankara, was his contemporary, and was preaching in the same area, the contemporary Bihar region (I wonder if they met!). The languages spoken were Pali, Prakrit, and Sanskrit. The first written alphabet after the lost Indus script was the Brahmi script, which appeared either during the 6th cent. BCE or in the 3rd, we aren’t sure. Either ways, written language coincided with the spread of Buddhism. It is unimaginable how Sanskrit evolved as a sophisticated language orally, without the using of a written script! Panini, the person who created the first work of Sanskrit grammar,(the earliest work of any grammar)the Aṣṭādhyāyī, lived either in the 4th or 6 cent. BCE. He could have been a contemporary of Buddha. Even if he was not, he lived just about a 100 years after the Buddha. It is not clear whether he composed his work in written form or orally. It is said that he could have composed orally using his disciples’ memories as his notepad. In any case, the Brahmi script came soon after, and it Panini's work must have been recorded. Buddha’s period is also the late Vedic period, where agriculture is the main economic activity. In the Vedic period, from about 1500 BCE, when most researchers say the Rig Veda was composed, to about 500BCE, Buddha’s time, the basic structures of Hinduism was established. It took a millennium. The Vedic period is characterized by the gradual shift from cattle rearing to agriculture. The Rig Veda composition date also coincides with the ‘Battle of the Ten Kings’, which was a turf war between Aryan tribes. This war precedes the Mahabharata war. The composition of the earliest form of Mahabharata (known as 'Jaya'), falls right in the middle of the Vedic period, 9th-8th cent. BCE, just about 300 years before the Buddha. It reaches its final form in the Gupta period in the 4th cent CE. The Bhagavad Gita is a late addition, supposedly in the immediate post-Buddha years. Possibly, and this is pure speculation, the Gita could have been composed as a written text. In Buddha’s time, there was no written text, or only extremely rare. Every 'book' was memorized. The Mahabharata definitely so. The Ramayana, however is thought to have been composed between 5th-3rd cent. BCE, and this comes within or just after Buddha’s lifetime. If it is


the 3rd cent. BCE, then it is the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka’s time, and the work must have been quite new then. The Ramayana composition is not far from the arrival of the Brahmi script, and it is said that Valmiki lived in the 4th cent. BCE, so we could speculate that Ramayana could have been first 'written' rather than composed orally. The Gita and the Ramayana seem historically contemporaneous. It was Ashoka who first started using written language for official communication via his edicts in Brahmi script. Overall, it seems that written script was first employed to write down Vedic works only after the Buddha’s time. Ashoka established Nalanda as a Buddhist university, and it might be that some works which were orally transmitted were first written down here. Nalanda was a Buddhist centre of learning from 427 BCE to 1197 CE, that’s more than 1700 years, until Muhammed Khilji, the Turkic Muslim slave general, destroyed it. (It is interesting to note that Arab Muslims never ruled India, only their slaves did.) The death of Hindu-Buddhist civilization had begun. All the hundreds of manuscripts, both Hindu and Buddhist, were burnt, and thousands of monks killed. Only four years before that, the Qutub Minar's construction had started, commemorating the Islamic conquest of north India. It would remain under Islamic rule until the Christian British took over about 700 years later. The Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, were religions of the written word. Many scholars say that the Torah, the most important holy book of the Jews, was composed between the 6th-4th cent. BCE. It falls in the same period as the Buddha, and the Gita and the Ramayana compositions. The Hebrew alphabet matured during the same period. The Jewish religion came together with the Torah. By the time of Jesus, written language was in widespread use. The Romans used the Latin alphabet, and the Judaic Hebrew texts existed. It wasn’t long after the period of Jesus, that the religious utterances were written down. Although Jesus spoke Aramaic, the New Testament was written down in 'Koine Greek' after 45 CE. Written language in the form of the Phoenician alphabet and the Aramaic alphabet was in use about 400 years before the wide use of the Brahmi script in India. Coming to Islam, the Prophet Muhammad died in 632 CE. By 654 CE, just 22 years after his death, the Qur’an was committed to written form. In fact, the Prophet’s teachings began to be recorded even before he died. That was really fast! In Muhammad's lifetime, the Arabic language was well developed. There was already written Arabic poetry by the 4th cent. CE. Islam was all the more a religion of the written word.


April 7, 2009 Yaoi- a revolution in the comic form. Yaoi is an acronym from the words 'Yamanashi ochinashi iminashi' which in Japanese means 'No climax, no point, no meaning'. It was a word to jokingly refer to a new type of narrative that emerged in the dojinshi (self-published manga) circles in the mid 70s. Comiket, the world’s largest comics convention, is dedicated only to dojinshi, and not for commercial manga that is published by companies. When it began in Dec. 1975, yaoi was known only among a small group of female fans who drew dojinshi and brought them to the convention. Dojinshis were mainly a female activity, and even now, they account for at least 60% of all attendees and dominate events like Comiket. The genre is basically a romance & sex narrative between two males. It emerged within female manga fan circles, and the readership of the genre is mainly female. Most yaoi dojinshis feature male couplings of characters from mainstream boys (shonen) manga. The earliest yaoi dojinshis featured characters from a popular boys soccer manga called Captain Tsubasa. The growth of dojinshi culture was fuelled by the boys action genre, so much so, that now there are dojinshi conventions focussing on yaoi made out of characters from one particular stories. In the last decade, yaoi has moved into the mainstream with a new market term 'boys love'. Here’s my understanding of yaoi, and why I think its a revolution in terms of the evolution of comic medium, and in human communication in general. I am not sure if I’ll be able to get the idea across, but I’ll try. In the beginning was manga. In manga we witness an idea that contains the seed of that evolution. It comes from the general western reaction to manga as not representing the Japanese ethnic facial features accurately–all the big eyes and everything. To understand this, the clue is in Osamu Tezuka’s casual mention of manga being a form of writing rather than drawing. What he meant was that the image in manga 'functions' as a readable text rather than pictorially. The character’s Japanese-ness is not encoded in pictorial mimesis, but in an aggregate of behavioural modes. The eyes needn’t exactly correspond to 'real' Japanese eyes in order to say that the character is Japanese. The character’s image works symbolically, and we decode it mentally. By this rationale, any type of image can be associated with any meaning. For instance, during filming in Tokyo, we met a female mangaka who does a series of 'report mangas' in a magazine. They contain personal narratives about herself. But she represented herself as a little cartoon baby rather than a cartoon which has some signifying resemblance to her, which is how western comic artists would generally do it. When I asked her why she did it that


a page from a Lord of the Rings (J.R.R.Tolkien) yaoi dojinshi

way, she said that it was how she felt about herself. So, her character is a representation of 'what she feels about herself'. In every other way, the character is an adult female that identifies that she is a female mangaka. The image here, works in a literary fashion. We 'read' the image. This type of characterization is the first step. During the 1960s a whole generation had grown up on manga. A group of women mangakas took manga into its next stage of evolution, via 'shojo' (girls) manga. Manga drawn by girls for girls. These shojo manga artists started representing thoughts and feelings and emotions in a radical new way. Many pages would just depict the inner life of characters. They did this by extending the 'drawing as writing' idea. Backgrounds

would suddenly be full of flowers, or patterns which denoted states of mind, eyes and lips and hair would be drawn in extreme close up and would almost become patterns. The reader could engage in the narrative in a much more involved way, since emotions now need to be decoded in the mind from the aggregate of symbols on the page. I see this as a progressive 'textualization' of the image. The comic image is getting more and more 'equal rights' with the text, paraphrasing scholar W.J.T.Mitchell. Now we are at the stage where the comic image is freed from having to be read indexically with respect to reality. The character could just be an embodiment of a feeling. However, I In most manga, the images directly represent reality, sometimes in meticulous detail. What I am talking about is just a tiny little branch of manga evolution. So, it is from this idea of the comic image that I feel the 'yaoi' genre originates. The radical aspect of yaoi is in the extension of this idea into the realm of narrative itself! The stories of homosexual love are not really 'about' homosexual love. They are visual representations of emotional intensities. One of them is the 'attacker' (sémé), and the other is the 'receiver' (uké.) The relationships they have are entirely imagined from the girls’ point of view. It is no coincidence that many of these stories use pre-existing male characters. Using pre-existing characters is an advantage because these characters already have a 'character' as defined by the main story. When a female dojinshi artist picks two of them and makes one a top and another a bottom, she is using all the signifiers of the character and creating her own meaning from it through the narrative. Here, the narrative is not really 'fan fiction' as westerners would characterize it. There’s something else, something altogether new that is happening to a culture itself. In fan fiction, even though you might make Harry Potter gay, the character of Harry Potter is registered in an indexical relationship with the 'original' character. He is still Harry Potter. But in a Harry Potter yaoi (which, by the way, exists), the character takes on whatever 'feeling' or 'idea' you might choose to give him. The 'character' of Harry Potter is removed, and the image of Harry Potter becomes an empty sigil, now able to take on any meaning. Harry Potter could represent the author of the yaoi dojinshi, for instance. It is very easy to do this in comic form, and I think that comics uniquely have this ability. Technically, one could extend this process to any narrative or character. The yaoi genre is just one early form that the new evolution took. The women recognized it first, and they wanted to talk about feelings, and actually express them visually. The idea of representing a feeling extends to even the setting and costumes. For example, 'Boys Love' (BL) mangaka Fumi Yoshinaga has a BL story collection called Lovers in the Night which is set in France during the French Revolution. But here, the historical period am not suggesting that the entire manga industry has gone through this transformation.


is 'imaginary', it is a flavour, in the sense that the period detail conveys the 'tone', a rich aristocratic atmosphere to the story, which is basically about a male-male sexual relationship. It is almost as if the characters were play-acting in period costume. The story is not 'about' the historical period. The term 'yaoi' implies a parody of conventional storytelling, and I think there is some truth in it. What it asserts is that the narrative expression of the flow of emotions has taken a precedence over plot and story, the mainstay of fiction. The possibility of the comic form being able to do this was demonstrated by the great shojo mangakas like Moto Hagio, Keiko Takemiya and others. This showed that comics were capable of addressing all types of subtle ideas and emotions that previously were explored in the novel form and the cinema form. In fact, shojo mangakas were heavily influenced by the cinema. But the influence was not in the nature of using cinematic tropes in comic form, as in shots and angles. This sort of influence was already being put to good use by the Tezuka generation. The shojo mangakas wanted to directly convey the intense visceral affects that the cinema provides to the viewer. Shojo mangakas, by making the drawing

a page from Lovers in the Night, by Fumi Yoshinaga.


into sigils, patterns of meaning, were able to provide the reader with a that intense experience, and in doing so, invented a new type of signifying image-text that was explored further with the yaoi genre. Male mangakas have learnt from this phenomenon. It resulted in the idea called 'moé', which loosely means a love or passion for a fictional manga character. The term came about in dojinshi circles in the 1990s, and has now entered general usage. Its meaning is still evolving. During the 90s, many male dojinshi artists started depicting very cute pre-pubescent looking girls. This was not new. In the 80s, just as the yaoi genre began, there was the 'lolicon' tendency among male artists. 'Lolicon' is short for 'Lolita Complex'. But what was newly implied in the term 'moé' was the identification of a new relationship with the drawn comic image. Lolicon refers to female characters drawn like cute little girls. Moé refers to the reader’s 'budding' (moé also means 'budding') passion for fictional characters. In this type of identification, the character itself becomes an icon for the special feeling that the reader has. The reader is not identifying with the tropes of the character, by which I mean the 'personality' of the character. The character 'IS' the feeling. These characters don’t have a psychologically 'real' personality from the reader’s point of view. They might be characters from a mainstream animé which was originally designed to be a 'real' character. But the reader who is 'moé' with the character decontextualizes the character from its personality, and gives it the signifier of a feeling. In a sense, the reader feels as if his feeling itself has been personified. This type of identification emerged again from the dojinshi community. May 6, 2009 a manifesto – 'An escape for language, for music, for writing. What we call pop- pop music, pop philosophy, pop writing–'worterflucht'. To make use of the polylingualism of one’s own language, to make a minor or intensive use of it, to oppose the oppressed quality of this language to its oppressive quality, to find points of nonculture or underdevelopment, linguistic Third World zones by which a language can escape, an animal enters into things, an assemblage comes into play. How many styles or genres or literary movements, even very small ones, have only a single dream: to assume a major function in language, to offer themselves as a sort of state language, an official language (for example, psychoanalysis today, which would like to be a master of the signifier, of metaphor, of wordplay.) Create the opposite dream: know how to create a becomingminor.' – Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature.


May 7, 2009 replies to a New Indian Express journalist-A New Indian Express journalist contacted me with the following questions, hoping to publish it in their weekly review section on comics, the only newspaper in India to have one. But they never did. So here it is, for whatever its worth. Questionnaire-Indians got into publishing books, making films, etc. early on. But why are the general population and content creators, still not very interested in the comics/graphic novels genre? My understanding, coming from a visual art background, is that most people are intimidated by the comic medium. We look at the intricately illustrated American and European comics and are awed by them. Most visual artists respond to this either by imitation, like Virgin Comics, or rejecting comics themselves as a juvenile medium, like in art schools, where comics are not even considered as an art form. Moreover, though thousands of comic titles are released each year in Europe and America, a tiny number come down to India, and sold at high prices. Also, most parents still consider comics to have a negative influence on children. This notion is again borrowed from America, where comics were subject to demonization and public censorship, which actually led to the downfall of the industry in UK and US in the 60s. See– The American comic industry has still not recovered from this. Its a chicken-and-egg argument ultimately. Until you show people various genres of stories and various kinds of art, they wouldn’t know. According to me, the onus is on comic creators to make the comics. Why did Virgin comics’ Indian mythology based content not work well in India? Was it a content problem or marketing problem? Its puzzling since mythology is pretty popular in India, which has a rich mythology heritage. Virgin Comics tried to create new stories out of Indian mythological characters, by secularising them and recasting them as superheroes. It was not meant for the Indian market at all, but focussed on selling Indian mythology to Hollywood. Their ultimate aim was to make movies out of their comics. The strategy didn’t work because the American audience didn’t like the stories. Without background knowledge of Ramayana, their Ramayan 3392AD is nonsense. At the same time, it didn’t work for Indian audiences because Indians cannot tolerate seeing Rama as a non-religious character. The god is too


closely associated with the Hindu religion. Same with Devi, Snake Woman etc. What would you describe as a success in the Indian comics scene? Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle have some presence, but primarily among children. ACK is a success of course, but a limited one. It doesn’t promote comics as a form of creativity. To my knowledge, never has there been any 'How to draw comics' articles in Tinkle or elsewhere in ACK. ACK is the subject of a recent book length critical work, the fist such book dealing with comics in India. The Classic Popular- Amar Chitra Katha(1967-2007.) You must review it I think. Raj Comics and Diamond Comics from Delhi are also successes to some extent. But actually, right now, the Indian comics industry is in a slump, rather than growing. That’s because neither the art colleges, nor the readers themselves, nor the publishers have considered comics as a mode of creative expression that can be practised by anyone, with a little knowledge and practice. Why are new stand-alone titles not being generated for children? For example, Tinkle is only a compilation of strips. Unless comics are seen as a mode of expression, like text, or motion picture, or visual art, it is unlikely to ignite the imaginations of people. How far has the adult graphic novel/comics scene caught on in India? In terms of publishers entering the market and availability of titles. The number of new Indian adult comics titles released in the last few years is just a handful. That is not a market. Actually, I would say the market is not there at all, at the moment. It is just hype and nothing else. Among major Indian cities, where is this genre becoming popular? Where is it catching on fastest and why? This is a relevant question for me. I have an English, urban background. I really thought of drawing comics only after reading Japanese comics, 'manga'. Manga made me understand that anybody can draw and write comics. It was a revelation. Comics have a readership in all the cities, but in Jadavpur University, Kolkata, the English Dept. has comics as part of the course, the only university in India to do so. Comics awareness is high is Kolkata, and also the North-East. Kolkata has a very large reading audience, and they look for new things. There are some people in Kolkata trying to run a comics magazine, like 'Kriyetic Comics'. you can google them. Nothing exceptional, but enthusiastic people can be found there. Importantly, there are many artists there who


draw very well, and quite a few of those who worked for Virgin are from Kolkata. But I am yet to see full length graphic novel style work coming out. There are a few in the works though, like Kalpa, by Rimi Chatterjee, who teaches English in Jadavpur University. In your experience what sort of content works in India for this genre, especially for adults? I have no experience. I am just trying to do comics I like doing. Nobody can answer this question because there just isn’t enough works for adults. There are no trailblazers. But I can talk about comics I’d like to see. For example, comics for teenage and college going girls, comics for housewives and working women, comics for older men. I’d like to see stories about the lives we are leading right now, stories that we tell each other on Google Chat to our closest friends, stories that pop up on the blogs. All those little tales can find expression in comics, but I cannot say what will specifically work for India. You cannot do this through market surveys. What is happening in terms of local content creation? Are new local publishers cropping up? If so, who are they (both content creators and publishers)? Kriyetic Comics is one I have told you about. Vimanika Comics is another. V.T.Thomas, in Kerala, is to my knowledge one of the few genuine successes. His black & white comics are all in Malayalam, and are satirical, enjoyed even by adults, and has been running for more than 30 years now (I think.) But there are very few new comics magazines in the market, and nobody has broken new ground in terms of content. All the new comics, like Virgin, are not really profit making. They are barely managing. Even the successful Raj Comics was making losses, so they went and did a 'revamp' of the look and quality. I don’t know if its working. Even you have self-published your recently released title, is it because of a lack of local publishers interested in this sort of content? Partly because there are no publishers, and partly because self-publishing is a genuine way to do comics. You don’t have to spend any money, since the self-publishing website prints a book only when somebody orders it. It’s a good way to start. Also, there is no censorship, and you can try out anything. I published mine through What motivated you to do an autobiography, in such a nascent market? Was it just artistic whim or is the market looking for content like this?


It is purely artistic 'whim'. I want to draw comics, and I thought a little autobiography was the best way to start. Why have you chosen to do the book in black and white? Isn’t black and white used for readers who are used to the genre? Or would the usage of colour have put off adult readers? It is partly cost, as black & white is way cheaper to print, and partly aesthetics, because I like black & white. Its easier and economical to draw black & white, and you can manage to pull off lots of pages single-handedly. I don’t think colour puts anybody off. In fact, I feel readers in India are used to colour, and prefer colour, but colour is a burden to publishers and artists, and any successful venture in comics would do well to discard colour, if they want to create affordable comics. Is the recent spurt in comic based movies, ex. V for Vendetta, 300, Sin City, etc., helping the genre in India? Do you see people getting curious about the original comic after watching the movie? No. I don’t see more people reading V for Vendetta because of the movie. Basically, foreign graphic novels cost a lot of money, and general readers in India are not willing to spend Rs.500 upwards for a comic story they have already seen in a movie. Makes sense, doesn’t it? The movie Watchmen is releasing soon. Your comments on the book. Why is such socially relevant content not being generated in India? Even at an animation movie level, the focus is on mythology with titles like Hanuman, etc. Watchmen influenced me a lot. A story like Watchmen is a specific product of a highly visually literate culture like Europe and America. One of the reasons comics are not popular in India is that visual literacy is not there at all. Reading comics requires a lot of mental effort, unlike watching a movie. It is an active, involving experience. I blame the low quality of both animation and comics to the complete lack of visual literacy in our culture. How many people really had a proper art class in school? How mature does a market need to be to absorb books based on reportage like Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde? It is not the market that needs to be mature, it is the creator. Somebody has to go out there and do a reportage comic. Then the audience will react. My own feeling is that visual literacy is very easy to acquire. If people see a book length reportage comic about


the Mumbai terrorist attacks for instance, I am sure they will read. But you have to first put the book on the table. Then we can talk. Its no use complaining about the market, because there is no comics market right now. Have any graphic novels come out in regional languages so far? I read in Nandini Chandra’s book that Pratap Mullick, star artist of ACK, had done a Marathi graphic novel way back in the 60s. I don’t know of novel length works. There have been short story comics in Bengali, and even Tintin style comics of Satyajit Ray’s Feluda stories. Bengal had an interesting comics culture, but the new generation has yet to expand on what came before. May 10, 2009 the closing down of small book shops-Through the 2000s, I see small book shops in India getting smaller and smaller even as the book publishing industry grows. In Coimbatore, where I live, there was Landmark. This was before it became a shopping mall phenomenon. In the late 90s, Landmark had franchises in Madras, Kolkata and Coimbatore. That was the beginning of the book retail chain business. There are others from before like Higginbothams and Wheeler, which quaintly romanticize Indian railway stations all over the country, but they stocked the usual bestsellers that you can find pirated on roadside stalls anyway. As Landmark lodged itself into the swanky new shopping malls of the 2000s, their outlet in Coimbatore closed down. It was then taken over by successive managements and now it is little more than a gift shop. There was another specialist book shop in Bombay, which was a solace during some depressing times, called Lotus, at Bandra. When I last visited a couple of years ago, it had closed down. When I google, it is still marked on the map, so maybe they have reopened it. It was the place where all the filmwallas used to buy fat coffee table cinema books to decorate their bookshelves. Recently the venerable Premier Bookshop in Bangalore closed down, as its enlightened owner retired. The last time I visited Delhi, the Bookworm at Connaught Place had disappeared. I am not sure how many more have gone, but this is definitely a trend. Even bookshops that are still running have lots of old stock, and are not able to expand their collections. Possibly, it is the Internet book selling business that is killing these small specialist book shops. I buy most of my books from the Net these days, since many of the books I look for are simply not available in these shops. It seems to me that this downward trend is likely to continue.


June 15, 2009 Sebald-W. G. Sebald created literary artefacts by arranging images and text in a manner that cannot be tampered with. Sebald ensured in this way that his books will be published only in the form he intended. Marcel Duchamp-By the logic of his artistic gestures, Duchamp killed art’s narcissism, which was at the core of European visual art since the Renaissance. With that, he returned art to its original purpose of magic. Magic involves the entire people. June 16, 2009 Drawing, painting, photography and comics-From last night’s Internet chat with S, the following ideas emerged– • The clear distinction between how 'drawing' and 'painting' work. Drawing is akin to writing, tending towards the graphic, the pictogram and ultimately, to the alphabet. Writing creates thought. Thomas Bernhard compares the the white wall to the page. The cracks on the white wall then, is comparable to the creation of thought. • The comic form exploits the capacity of drawing to simulate the reading experience of text. This is the principle of the comic form. One can say that comics are a form of writing. • • • • • • • • Painting uses colour. Colour works visually, evoking emotional responses. In the binary scale, painting is emotion, drawing is thought. Painting always calls attention to itself. It is narcissistic. Painters tend to be megalomaniacs. Comics people hate painting people. When photography emerged, the metaphor 'writing with light' was appropriate. The early photo-- Black marks on chemically treated white paper caused by light passing through a lens. Therefore, 'writing with light'. This type of photo was 'not-yet-a-photo'. This is because of the absence of colour. This 'not-yet-a-photo' was akin to 'drawing', in the sense that we speak of in the earlier statements. The early black & white photo produced a new type of thought, one that changes the idea of history, of memory, of truth, of 'evidence', and of the idea of time itself.

• • • •

When colour was reproduced in photographs, this 'not-yet-a-photo' truly became a photo. The colour photo raised the bar for the photo’s indexical relation to what is seen by human eyes. The colour photo invaded 'reality' itself. It became even more than evidence. In fact, it became a non-human vision. The metaphor 'writing with light' became dubious and inappropriate in the context of the colour photo. Photos now had painterly aspirations. Visual art’s narcissism had infected the photo.

Because of this turn, the status of black & white photos became uncertain, since black & white, in comparison to colour, was an inferior form of 'reality' produced by the photo.

• • •

To solve this problem, black & white photos were rehabilitated as 'art', thus gaining legitimacy with painting. This was a political act. The colour photo now had to go through a long struggle for its own legitimacy as 'art', which it eventually acquired. The modern comic form originated at exactly the same time as photography, (1820s and 30s.) Rodolphe Toppfer, the originator of the form, defended the comic form, in opposition to photography, since the inventors of photography were trying to appropriate drawing by calling photography 'the pencil of nature', or 'nature drawing itself'.

Toppfer’s defence of the comic was that it truly was a form of 'literature-inprints' (as he called it), while photos stopped at imitation of nature. Photography couldn’t claim to be literature, not yet.

From the reasoning of this argument, one can say that at the moment of the beginning of the comic form and photography, they had equal status. In other words, they were merely two different types of drawing.

In hindsight, one can see that Toppfer's defence was irrelevant, since both photography and comics were two sides of the same coin. In both, the seed was 'drawing-as-writing'.

About 160 years later, after a whole century of still and motion photography, and comics, W. G. Sebald wrote books of prose narrative which used faintly printed, low quality black & white photos, as shown in the scan below.


The manner and method of using photos in Sebald’s narratives recalls the early idea of the photo, 'writing with light'. Sebald, through his aesthetic, reinstates that first meaning of the photograph. Once again, black & white photos can be seen as 'nature drawing itself'.

The photos in Sebald’s narratives can now also be seen as 'drawings', but done by non-human 'nature'. This enables the photo to simulate the cognitive experience of reading a text, a process that the comic form explicitly uses.

The distinction between 'drawing' and 'painting' goes a long way! It is the distinction between 'male' and 'female'.


June 23, 2009 autonomy-Male bodies are autonomous, while female bodies are not. Males have the choice of severing their penises. Female bodies demand constant attention and care. relationships-The relation between man and woman is a function of technology. travel-'And Kafka distinguishes two series of technical inventions: those that tend to restore natural communication by triumphing over distances and bringing people together (the train, the car, the airplane), and those that represent the vampirish revenge of the phantom where there is reintroduced 'the ghostly element between people' (the post, the telegraph, the telephone, wireless telegraphy.)' – from Kafka:Toward a Minor Literature by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. …and one might add, the Internet, a truly phantom world. labour-The process involving the production of meaning. money-Pure Meaning. America-Americans acknowledge, venerate and respect power. To an American, the American phrase 'More power to you', is a courtesy. June 24, 2009 Hollywood-The temple of American megalomania. Delusions of grandeur is the supreme theme of American cinema. July 4, 2009 Michael Jackson-He reminded humans of their non-human selves.


R.K.Narayan-Naipaul says that R.K.Narayan solved his literary problems by appearing to ignore them. This response is child-like, and Malgudi is really the world of a child. That child’s point of view, which simplified and ordered everything around him, was his only genuine literary creation. He remained a child all his life. July 5, 2009 the origin of 'documentary'-To Europeans, Europe is a fictional world, organized and certain. The rest of the world is documentary. Europeans are unable to see life, or that which is uncertain. To the European, even America is non-fiction. So, through this inability, the many 'Worlds' are created, like the 'New World', the 'Third World' and so on. Europeans see themselves as people of the 'Old World'. These other worlds are 'documentary' worlds. When these worlds are filmed, 'documentary' is created. One might ask here, What if Europeans film their own world? What then? The answer to that is, Europeans search for 'reality' in their own world through the camera. Sometimes they find it, but mostly, what they film is only the fictional world. The Universal Civilization-Brahmin- A word of rebuke in Hindu, or even Indian society. The other day I was chatting with a friend on Gmail, and he said at some point, 'I think this Brahmin in you likes schemes and final statements.' It is a chiding remark. Let us try to get to the meanings and the history of such a statement. First, I must say that I am not a Hindu. But saying that makes no sense to a Hindu, who will reply, 'Hinduism is a way of life, it is not a religion.' This is the Hindu way of abstraction, sophistry. It doesn’t mean anything. In fact, the Hindu will point to my Brahmin heritage (I was born of Brahmin parents), and say 'It is you people who tell everyone that Hinduism is a way of life.' However, I feel the need to clear my position. I am not a Hindu. I do not pray to idols, I do not practice the religion in any way. It is the atheist position. But surely, in the Hindu world, an atheist cannot exist. My position means nothing. The Hindu will say, 'You are a Brahmin. Look at your ways.' The Brahmin has traits and habits accumulated over centuries. This is the rebuke. When someone says today, 'the Brahmin in you', one is invoking a history. This is a history of exploitation of man by man. This rebuke is a way of saying, 'you will always remain a Brahmin, and a Hindu.' Hindu abstraction is very difficult to cut through. This is because there is no outside to the Hindu world. The Hindu


world includes everything, the entire cosmos. The 'pardesi', 'firangi', outsider/foreigner, is merely someone who doesn’t fit into the caste hierarchy, but is very much a part of the Hindu cosmos. To the Hindu, the Brahmin was and is a figure of authority, in contact with the gods, in control of a language that only a few understood. He manipulated reality. It is the source of the constant internal tension in the Hindu world, and that tension created many other opposed movements– Buddhism, Jainism and the various other atheist schools. But eventually, Brahmin abstraction prevailed, and Hindu order restored, until an empirical thought so intensely focussed, came and destroyed what had just been restored. That thought was Islam. Islam was the very beginning of modernity. It in fact consolidated all the empirical philosophies from the Greeks to the Hindus, cut out all the cultural fat, and served it in one neat platter. Islam was so easy, and so full of clarity. Islam seduced, as did its competitor Christianity, which was influential later on the sub-continent. The Hindu world was no more. This was about a 1000 years ago. The deluded Hindu, in the face of defeat, now lives in a constant contradiction. The scriptures have lost meaning. The lower caste Hindu rightly wants a way out of oppression, but feels unsure about shedding his own caste identity because his very caste identity comes to his rescue. The upper caste Hindu wants to compete with Muslims and Christians, but again feels unsure about shedding his own caste identity, because he wants to control the lower caste Hindus. To shed caste identity is to destroy Hinduism itself. Caste is the very foundation of Hindu thought. To a Hindu, the idea of shedding caste is unimaginable. Meanwhile, even Indian Muslims and Christians create unofficial caste hierarchies. The tension continues. So is there a way out? One can say that in this dubious Hindu world, there is no way out, since there is no 'outside' at all in Hindu philosophy! One can also say that to a Hindu, another Hindu (whatever caste he or she is) renouncing Hinduism makes no sense. Here, the Abrahamic religions are at an advantage. One can convert to one of the revealed faiths. In fact, this is the easy way out. With conversion one can leave behind the Hindu world, and finally know an outside. This is a strategy used by many Hindus on the lower rungs of the caste hierarchy. Ambedkar thought Buddhism is a neat way out for the Dalits. Not so. Because Buddhism was appropriated by the Hindus long ago, in yet another act of sophistry. But converting to another religion brings with it its own set of problems. In that case, what other options remain? The only option outside of religious options is that of the 'Universal Civilization'. The combination of the words, 'Universe' and 'Civilization'


seems to be a simple one, but surprisingly, it is seldom used. If you google 'universal civilization', the first link you will find is of a speech by V. S. Naipaul, by the title Our Universal Civilization, in which he first gave a clear meaning to this combination of big words. He gave this combination of the words 'Universe' and 'Civilization' to a whole cluster of ideas that began with the early Greeks, Hindus and Chinese. However, this option is full of traps. This Universal Civilization is not an articulated one. It has many Christian ideas, many tribal European ideas, theological ideas, and full of tensions, within and without. But it has its foundations in empiricism. It has its beginnings in the Islamic world created in the centuries after Prophet Muhammed. That world of ideas was itself created out of the earlier Greek, Hindu and Chinese thought. The Muslim thinkers, working under a homogeneous and secure empire, sifted and categorized and added tremendously to that civilization. It then travelled to Europe and blossomed under Christian empires under the name of the Renaissance. New ideas were poured into the mix. The Christians took this new, updated civilization in their ships to the rest of the world, selling it back as a European product, leading to the phenomenon of colonialism, racism, and the contemporary global world. The Universal Civilization contains within it an idea of modernity. It is a work-inprogress, and constantly changing. Until the 19th century, the ideas of the Universal Civilization were buried inside Christian theology. Then theology was separated from ideas relating to philosophical and scientific inquiry. This enabled a new growth of the ideas that make up the Universal Civilization, through the 20th century, up until Naipaul gave it that name. The Universal Civilization gives us a set of ideas- Ethics, Politics, Humanity, Man, Woman, Desire, Labour, Thought, Science, Art, Technology, Culture, Ambition, Modernity etc. But none of them are static ideas. To participate in it means to constantly be on your toes, to take nothing for granted, to empirically create and recreate everything. One is constantly building and tearing down. The moment static identities emerge, there is disaster. Such a disaster has already been demonstrated in the form of the world wars and the holocaust. Such are the dangers of the Universal Civilization. It addresses the Human itself. A Human can be anything. Ethics become a question. The Universal Civilization is never perfect. It will evolve as long as humanity itself. Once religion has been done away with, one is ALWAYS at the beginning. The world must be remade again and again. Everything is contestable. Truth, by its very nature, is always hidden. And I see this as the only way that is outside the ways of religion. One can choose religion, as for example Iran did in 1979, and even some of Europe and America do. But if one rejects religion, this is the only way out. One then has


to deal with the limits of knowledge itself. However much truth is contained in the words, 'the Brahmin in you likes schemes and final statements’, that truth is the truth of a Hindu world without an outside. I have committed myself to the Universal Civilization. This has nothing to do with provincial ideas of 'West' or 'East'. As its name implies, this civilization is no longer a European civilization. It belongs to everyone who chooses to be a part of it. So, even though it might mean nothing to anybody, I must declare, 'I am not a Hindu, I am not a Brahmin, and there is no God that I owe allegiance to.' July 10, 2009 the last entry-I first started writing blog texts in October 2004. It has been nearly five years. In 2004, I was 26 years old, an impulsive youth. I took provocation. I hated and feared a lot of things. But I had no clear thought. Little by little, through writing this blog, through learning, a position formed. I feel now that there is enough philosophical clarity to begin something new. I might still take a provocation or two, but there is a clear focus.




(a travel diary from 2002)


1. Nerul. Their tickets were still on the waiting list. They were stuck on number three on the list. All this while they had overconfidently assumed that the tickets would be confirmed. The three of them were on a much needed escape. The escape had been planned for long and they were looking forward to this day, only to find that their tickets were still not reserved. So they hung around clueless at Howrah station, platform 21. There was a fourth guy, however, who had his ticket confirmed. So they put their bags at his berth and made the rounds to the TTE but it was of no use. They had to sleep on the floor of the compartment. As Bharath lied down, he could look straight up and through a narrow gap in the window, he saw the moon, well lit and travelling along with them. A few stars were around too. The smell of fart punctuated the entire journey. Sometimes the fart smell was mixed with the smell of Lifebuoy soap. At one of the obscure stations on the way, somebody rushed into the compartment and pulled the chain. Whenever Bharath had travelled on trains, he had been so tempted to pull that chain, which was supposed to stop the whole train. 'TO STOP TRAIN PULL CHAIN' was the notice stencilled in every compartment. This is the first time he saw someone actually doing it. To his surprise, it worked. The missing child was later found. At Bombay it was raining when they got out. The fourth guy went away and Bharath, Sreejith and Suresh went to Cyrus's place at the Parsi colony in Dadar. Later they went to Video World in Khar, where Amal was getting his video edited. As they waited, the trailer of Humraaz, a Hindi feature film which was also edited there, was played to them a million times. In the evening, with the salty smell of sea at Bandra Bandstand, they smoked a ganja joint. In the night, the four of them met up with senior batch students who had all come to Bombay to work in the film industry and were living in a flat in Goregaon, near Film City. Goregaon was known as a ghetto for 'strugglers', as new entrants into the film world were called. There they boozed and smoked chillum. They were all high. Drinking with these 'seniors' was always a weird experience, Bharath thought. The really long drive at about one in the night to Nerul was a hell of an experience. It was raining like madness, and they were stoned. They drove via Airoli. The yellow lights flickered past them rapidly. They had to stop at a toll-gate somewhere. After dropping this ex-student in Vashi, they kind of lost their way and ended up at the end of the world. As they were taking their time and beholding the spectacle, an

autorickshaw turned up beside them and it was the same ex-student, whose house was right there, at the end of the world! He gave them proper instructions and they reached Nerul. The next morning, it was the sun light that woke them up. They were on the 14th floor flat at the Towers. The Towers were a row of futuristic looking apartment buildings overlooking the sea. They resembled giant robots from old Japanese movies. The effect was because of the exposed column of pillars that supported one side of the buildings. They went to the terrace. They were on the highest spot in kilometres around. The long bridge connecting New Bombay to the main areas could be seen, and the hills behind. It felt like they were on top of the country. As they sat around for sunset, one of them spotted a dog, a Doberman, sitting on the edge of the terrace on the next Tower. It would sometimes look down or take a walk along the parapet, but would never get off it. Soon the owners came up, a woman wearing pyjamas and a man, trying to get the dog down. They had another Doberman, which was perhaps simply jealous because it was just barking and could not do what the other one was doing so casually. Try as hard as they might, the dog simply refused to come down. On the other hand, it would keep peeping down into the void below. This hapless man/dog showdown continued for sometime until the rain clouds began to cast their shadows. They watched as the dark clouds quickly plunged the entire area in darkness. The four guys got back in and saw movies on DVD. In Hana Bi, Beat Takeshi's twitch on the face was enough to tell the story. Almost the entire narrative takes place outside the frame. What is seen on screen are random acts of violence. Profound stuff. Romance was the best sex movie Bharath had seen since In the Realm of the Senses. In it, the girl says 'he tied me up without tying me down'. The next night, they went to Topaz bar. It was a dance bar. Dance bars are all about the power of money-- a kind of manhood that can be bought with money. The girls were all very young and totally sexy. 19-20 year olds, Bharath thought. They wore ghagras with the latest cut, as in Rani Mukherjee in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. They were your average middle class girls-next-door. Some got more money than others. The girls never danced though. At best they circled around for a few seconds when the beat got fast. The rest of the time they were busy making eye contact with every customer, eyeing for his money. The customers were dying for eye contact. Thats all they ever wanted, perhaps. Sometimes, the waiter would fling notes to them with a rapid dramatic motion. At others, they would give garlands made of currency notes. Absurd theatre, all

very enjoyable. They gave a hard-on, the girls. The next morning, the four guys drove down to Pune in Cyrus's Maruti Zen, on what is arguably the best highway in the country. It was built in the manner of the autobahns in Europe and the freeways in America, but known as 'expressway' here. The Shiv Sena Government in Maharashtra had started the project. Highways are for getting high. There were signboards warning never to stop on the expressway. One had to just keep on driving. They went through many scenic tunnels, and ironically, also got stuck in a jam. The music they listened to in the car was somehow in sync with the passing landscape. In Pune, Bharath called up Usha, who he wanted to meet. She was Renu's sister. Renu and Bharath used to have a relationship. Usha said she was stuck in some meeting and couldn't meet him. The four of them went to film institute (FTII) in the hope of meeting some of the current students. Nobody was there. Instead they met some exstudent who told them stories of how he ate snake meat with tribals. They saw a movie in the evening in the auditorium-- a contemporary German film by Fatih Akin, about travellers and hitch-hikers and chance meetings. A love story. It was quite boring, so they left halfway. On the way back, Bharath smoked the two joints that he had wanted to present to Usha. In between, all of a sudden, they got into a thick blanket of fog. Night and fog and drizzle. The lights were ghostly. One could only faintly make out vehicles. The next day, more movies. When they were watching The Man who wasn't there, a Coen brothers film, a funny thing happened. Towards the end of the film, the barber sees the time on his watch. It is 4.40 pm. At exactly that moment, it was 4.40 pm in real too! This sort of thing had happened to Bharath. Once he was watching Chungking Express. There was a scene in which a passenger aircraft passes overhead. At that very moment, in reality, an aircraft passed over him. (This happened yet again- while Bharath was proof-reading this very sentence in Coimbatore, an aircraft passed overhead!) Such synchronicities mean nothing of course. Mulholland Drive by David Lynch. Bharath thought it was THE American film after Pulp Fiction. Cyrus's parents' flat in Nerul was like a dream house. Two floors and scenic vistas out of every window. Bharath had seen a pigeon's nest in one of the window nooks the other day. It had two eggs in it. Today he saw that they had hatched. But the chicks were wet and not moving. They were dead perhaps. At night they went to the city. At Versova, the engine of Cyrus's Maruti Zen went

dead. They were stuck on a lane that went downhill straight to the beach. It was dark and raining. The three of them started pushing. Suddenly a young man came over to help them. He told them he lived there and could help them get a mechanic. Bharath and Cyrus followed him in the darkness. Bharath was suspicious at first because he was leading them through the beach to a bunch of fishermen's huts right next to the sea and it was completely dark. Only the roar of the waves and the planes flying overhead and the drizzle. He called out into one of the huts. A man came out, but you couldnt be sure he was a mechanic. He came along with them to the car. They tried this and that and then he gave a direct connection to the spark plug and it started. They thanked the young man for helping. He was completely soaked from the rain. He said he was from Hazaribagh. He was strange, that guy. * * * 2. Toddy Shop No. 74. The next day the four of them left for Kerala, by the Konkan railway. Among the four, Suresh and Sreejith were from Kerala. All went according to plan. Bharath read Vertigo, by W. G. Sebald on the train. Vertigo was Sebald's first book, but was published last in English translation. He died in a car crash just after his fourth book was published and was rapidly acquiring worldwide fame. He makes a strange use of photographs in his work. The muteness of pictures which seem to be saying something but we never get what exactly. Memory and decay. Photograph as a picture of death. Memory as the dead resurrected. In the book there is a sentence—'Poor travellers, I thought, seeing myself among them: always somewhere else.' At night in the train, Bharath felt restless as he heard thundering sounds and saw lights flashing at him. There were many tunnels along the way. In the morning he woke up and saw they were right next to the ocean, on a bridge. They reached Harippad that evening, from where they went straight to Sreejith's mother's house, who lived in the quarters of the National Thermal Power Corporation. They took the car and went to the nearby beach. Late evening. Everything was a strange tinge of blue. Blueish blue dusk. A sea moon. The afterglow of the day. On the way back Sreejith took them to the Kayamkulam NTPC Thermal Power Plant. The immensity and grandeur of the installation caught Bharath unawares. In the middle of nowhere was this huge power

plant. It was almost hidden until they got really close to it. Lots of lights. There was a huge artificial lake. They sat on the cement bund and smoked cigarettes. Bharath didnt know what to think of the power plant, though it kind of awed him. 'Everything makes sense in the reverse', says Baudrillard. The next day they went to Changanacherry, Sreejith's grandparents house. It was like some hideout palace of a Columbian drug lord. An old structure. Part of the farm of jackfruit trees and rubber trees. They stashed away a few large jackfruits to be taken back to Harippad in the back of the Maruti car. They drank toddy almost everyday. Toddy is the best alcoholic drink in the world, Bharath realized. They had extremely spicy food to go with it. That night they ate deepfried frog legs. In the night while walking back in the dark, they saw an elephant by torchlight. The boat ride from Changanacherry the next day was typical touristy stuff. Kerala backwaters. On the way, Bharath saw a church, and somehow he was reminded of a Malayalam film he had seen as a kid, Daisy-- a teenage romance tragedy that takes place in a convent boarding school. The girl dies in the end. Toddy was drunk again, this time at the best shop around. T.S.No.74 in Puliankundu. It was run by a guy named Jomon. A nice guy. They had tortoise meat this time, and the usual kappa and pork and pomfret. Sreejith got real high and real happy. On the way back they got a lift on a truck back to Changanacherry. In the truck Sreejith talked drunkenly about love and friendship. The next day Suresh got two bikes and they went driving-- Bharath and Sreejith , Suresh and Cyrus. Bharath and Suresh drove. There were these crazy meaningless jewellary shop billboards along the way. One of them had a chimpanzee with tie and spectacles-- another had a black man and a white man (the same black man painted fair) holding gold-- another recurring one had Hulk Hogan from WWF of all people! The bike ride seemed like perfect timing. Where ever they went, it seemed like it had stopped raining just for them. The weather was perfect. They stopped in between, on a deserted stretch of road. There was a bus stand nearby. Then, just as they took a pee, five or six Malayali college girls appeared out of nowhere. They were giggling as they stood at the bus stand. They reached their destination in the evening. It was the house of Suresh's friend, named Jomon. A nice guy. He had procured the best Kerala ganja for them. Then, a surprise! They had got the best toddy too! So everyone went up to the terrace and drank and smoked. The house was surrounded by trees. It was a hilly terrain, a quiet night full

of fireflies and stars. As Bharath opened the 'Candle' matchbox to light a cigarette, he noticed that the matchstick he had picked was in fact two of them joined together at the tip. A twin matchstick. He was reminded of the two Jomons he had met. The same perfect timing worked on the ride back home. All he remembered are the flashing lights and the hum of the bike. Sreejith has a cousin named Akhil, a nine year old kid whose parents work in Dubai. He was on holiday here in Changanacherry. He felt terribly bored, having no friends to play with in this lonely small town. To engage him in some activity, Sreejith asked him to write something on being a nine year old kid. He wrote – '...and friends use to make fun of me that you are a big fool and monkey I used to feel said about my self and realy I couldn't understand that what was I saposed to do and I bite of manners only and I am trying and trying to make my self happy and a good mannered child for the rest of my life.' The next day was rest day. Cyrus and Sreejith took a swim in the lake made by the granite quarry nearby. The day after, they went driving again, this time to Cochin. On the highway, Bharath saw signboards like 'Left is Right', 'When safety dies accident is born', 'Accident is not accidental'. Outside Cochin, they spent some time at Cherai beach, for which they had to take a ferry. The night was spent in a hotel in Cochin. They returned to Changanacherry the next day, after watching Panchatantram, a Tamil movie starring Kamal Hassan. It was a bad, boring comedy. The four of them watched the World Cup soccer finals after a sumptuous feast in Suresh's house. Brazil won with two silly goals. Bharath and Cyrus left for Coimbatore that night. * * * -



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