Thursday, July 30, 2015

On Bollywood

My relationship with Bollywood's been fairly interesting, I think. 

When I was growing up, Bollywood consisted of this blur of imagery and drama that would happen for a few hours in a week, maybe a Friday evening movie or a bunch of songs in Eastmancolor on a flickering, crackling, bulbous little CRT... but most of all, it was music. Music everywhere, on taxi cassette players, mikes on the corner, brassy, disjointed bands, and everywhere, radio. Single-channel MW bands on battery-powered transistors sitting in faraway corners, singing away in the background. Somehow, always associated with travelling, with holidays and memories, the comfort food of music. 
It's probably the nostalgia factor, but I guess also because I was most of the time too young to really get what was happening. 

Then sometime around Chunky Pandey, I got old enough to understand the stories... and hated them. And the music - however good it might be - was forever tainted from then on with shallow, selfish, misogynistic, boorish, and embarrassing behavior. 

But all that had come before - I think it's pretty much set the tone for what music should be, as far as I'm concerned. There has to be melody. Imagery. Erudition. The ability to paint a lifetime in a few charcoal strokes, just abstract enough to let you fill in the blanks with what you wanted the story to be. Soothing. Distantly on the edge of hearing, yet constantly there. Familiar enough so you can sing along. 
You don't know who's singing, who's composing, who did the music or what film it's from. It's like reading a comic from the middle of a series you found in a box of junk on a vacation afternoon when you had nothing to do. You don't know why they're singing. You don't have any visuals to go with them. 

All you know is - this is awesome. 

And I guess that's why there's always going to be that genre that exists only in my head - the soundtrack to those drives in the dark, the walks in dusty golden winter sunlight, browsing through second-hand bookstores... and sometime between KL Saigal and Baba Sehgal, a little golden RD-Rafi period that's can only be labelled 'the most awesome childhood ever'. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

unfinished stories

we don't know where they go, or where they come from. they just are. today. now. that's their perfection, with no excuses and no apologies. they are complete because they do not try to be complete. everything is meaningful, everything is chaos, and everything is infinitely ephemeral. 

Think of the books you really loved, the stories, the b-grade movies you watched drunk, baked, on mute. The music videos that seemed to be trying to say something. The middle issues of a story arc in a moldy yellowing stack of comics you found under the stairs. The flower found still preserved lovingly inside a book in a second-hand store. Yellowing portraits of strangers on a wall. The pastiche of flickering images stitched together in the channels you flipped past at 1 am, too tired to sleep, too sleepy to be really aware of what you were doing. 
Dreams with no meaning. Emotion without reason. Images without plot. Music without words. 

They happen, and you stitch them together into a story that's all yours. It's a story born of your memories, your experiences, your interpretations of what you saw. It's may not be what happened, but because you don't know what did happen... it could even be true. It's a story that nobody else would have, and it's a story that depends on so many moving parts in time that it could never have been anytime before, or anytime since. 

I love these stories. I don't want the series to continue, the the hero to get his vengeance, the loose ends tied up, and the curtain to fall. 
I walk into the middle, and I make it mine. 

Why was this so important? What happened to you, that you should want this? Who is she? Why do you see that face in your nightmares? Are you really going to pull that trigger? Did he ever forgive you? Did he forget? Will he remember? 

Invent your own past, your own reasons for people to be who they are, for things to be what they are. Leap in. Surf. Leap off and make up the rest when you run out of pages. 

Every waking moment is a story you invent as you go along. Every moment past is mystery to be deciphered. Every moment coming is a world of possibility where anything may happen. 

What else is there to live for?