June 30, 2010

Being in our time

A wall graffiti at Goalpark cries out for rational approach to the world and to politics (juktibadi), and destruction of fascist forces. I couldn’t understand what party or faction it represented – it was half-erased. Rational approach to the world could mean straighter roads and minds, less chaos and traffic. It could mean a violent washing out of all troublesome elements in society to make a more rational future possible. It could mean re-opening ration shops that had shut down.

Some folks have gone on hunger strike beseeching the other folks making ‘Maoist’ war to stop killing. It’s a rational approach to political endeavor. Maoists and government are making war- coz they have been misled to believe that innocent lives are dispensable in reaching a radical solution to a political conflict. The same government or Maoist will respect, nevertheless, the threat to life posed by Bengali intellectuals going easy on food a couple of days, and are likely to bring the war to an end out of reverence for the threatened lives of the hungered protesters. The same Maoist or government that doesn’t give a shit about thousands of extinguished lives- that is. The inner rationality of such protest is thus ‘we will inconvenience our breakfast routines in order to move you powerful forces to stop merciless killing that you otherwise would not have found inspiration or provocation to stop’.

I like the rationality of rationed entertainment provided by the monstrously air-conditioned mall next to my house in Calcutta. It makes the most business at the phuchka counters at its entrance. Many throng the mall to gossip with their neighbor, cling to their boyfriend’s elbow, show off their butt in an aircon environment. And then round it all up with five-rupee phuchka. The rows of shiny sarees and striped shirts look on, in dismay. For this is gentrification gone wrong. Even as ‘talpata’ (some leaf-type thing used to make plates by street vendors) holds on even as Plastic charges forth into its empire.

June 6, 2010

Why i love men



So this is an ode to Bollywood men who took manhood beyond the biceps and the pelvic thrust. Of my generation mostly. With a haunting shadow of angry, bloodthirsty, righteous Amitabh Bachchan of Deewar who takes kanoon in his own hands. The citizen who rises to embody the sovereign. A morality that is higher than law.

One. Omkara. Badland UP brahmin youth leader, obsessive lover of a virginish Kareena. (Not the incomplete man with bad teeth and a limp, whose hunger for power is devoid of the sense of sacred). I have desired him volubly on the blog before. His quiet masculinity is animated by a hunger for power, a pristine sexual jealousy, a beautiful butt tightly ensconced in locally stitched jeans, a hint of vernacular redness in UP-styled hair. A moral compass that directs the flow of love, hate and power. William and Vishal had a sharp sense of what marked the profane sidekick apart from the sacred violent sovereign. A moral compass.

Two. Dev D. Fucked-up rich boy from small-town (presumably) Punjab. Spoilt rotten. Spent a year doing some bullshit masters in the UK, mostly doing drugs and women. Comes back to childhood sweetheart and treats her like shit, makes out with other chicks on the side in the barn. Pastoral hurt is registered. Consequently, urbane disenchantment. Enter prostitute with heart of gold. Restoration of moral compass by the feminine. Man domesticated and beast locked in. Anurag Kashyap triumphs in telling a gripping story of self as a constant struggle for moral equilibrium, and woman as a philosophical tool.

Three. Raajneeti. A masculine dyad. Privileged fucked-up political prince takes on underprivileged angry-righteous-bloodthirsty up-n-coming politico on the stage of blood-n-soil democracy. One rejects biological mother, remains loyal to friend, sticks up for Dalit foster-parents, has no woman-angle. Other sacrifices hot chick and PhD to salvage family's reputation and brother's claim to CM gaddi. Intermittently plays chess on the cellphone. Both comfortably handle guns and bombs. It's a battle of two conflicting routes to moral equilibrium.