the sea

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I am standing at the edge

of the sea of clarity.

So close, and yet,

Deliciously out of reach.

I cannot plumb its depths;

I never did learn how to swim.

(Did i subconsciously avert the truth?)

The sea calls out to me sometimes

And i go, despite better judgment,

And stand again at its edge, and wonder

What was the use of coming here

When i knew i would learn nothing,

No epiphany would strike.

My faith, that there is contentment at the end of a mundane routine,

Would not be renewed, but that i would only

Return to the monotonous days with more disillusionment.

I walk towards the sea

To touch upon its restless surface.

It obliges, with a gentle wave, to pull me in

I resist, and it sways me as i stand firm.

And then the wave retreats;

Gone back to join the multitudes who have tried before it.

While i am left standing alone again, as

The sand shifts beneath my feet.

 

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i want to write

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‘Number 8’, Jackson Pollock

 

I want to write,

but my brain will not focus tonight;

it is swimming merrily in the potent rum-and-Coke i drank at dinner.

I want to write,

but instead i think of deadlines

and calendars and unread emails and to-do lists.

I want to write,

but the words are shifting shapes;

like the rising heat, they seem to wave and dance.

I want to write,

but i live in a cursed age; too much information and

not enough time to form an informed opinion.

I want to write,

but my thoughts are blurred;

it’s like trying to see through rain-specked lenses.

I want to write,

but it is not that easy anymore

to summon my artless ideas

and mould them with pretty words into deep epiphanies.

I want to write;

but i am not even sure if there is something ahead,

like vague outlines in the swirling fog of dawn in winter.

I want to write,

to relate something that both of us thought of, but couldn’t find the right words for.

I am doomed

to be verbose without being meaningful.

singin’ in the sun

Fair warning – i am going to use the word ‘magic’ a lot in this post. Not going to apologise for it.

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Damien Chazelle’s La La Land (2016) is such a bundle of joy, glamour and heartbreak, that you can’t help but soak in every moment of the sheer magic that is transpiring on the big screen. There are fireworks, there is tap dancing, a riveting jazz score, a Technicolor palette that brightens up every frame, the sparkling chemistry between its gorgeous leads, and their tussle with their hopes and ambitions. Heck, at one point, the two leads are gliding and dancing in the air, dancing perfectly like two figurines in those old music boxes. Only in the movies, huh?

The first half is all about the heady charm of falling in Love (not just ‘love’, mind you.). Mia, a struggling actress, bumps into Seb, a struggling jazz pianist, and they live the romance that Hollywood has sold us in the movies of Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart. So much of the film is left to the mellow music by Justin Hurwitz and the painted sunsets of LA, that not much dialogue is needed. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling sing and dance in various pretty spots around Los Angeles, and you sit there, with a goofy smile on your face, and you feel like singing and dancing along with them.

But as their love collides with their dreams, reality kicks in. Seb, a pianist whose music is firmly rooted in the past, struggles with his successful new band, whose music he doesn’t identify with. Mia is trying to still hit her big break. The two must confront the possibility that their relationship may not be able to coexist with their personal ambitions. Success comes at a price – and that price is not spending the rest of their lives together. The montage at the end of the film, with the alternate ending to Seb and Mia’s story, is rendered in a gorgeous montage, that is a treat to the eyes and ears.

Visually, the film is a stunning achievement. Chazelle goes all out to depict the magic of the movies, and you stare in wide-eyed wonder, because it has been a very long time since you saw something like this. The limelight falls on the lead when he or she is singing, while the lights dim in the rest of the room, because in that moment, it is only that lead who exists, pouring his or her heart out in song. The dances are choreographed beautifully, not a step out of line. You step out of the hall, gliding, like Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain, a big smile on your face. The music is soothing, a great relief from the repetitive hooks in today’s pop music. All you want to do when you get home, is put on Sidney Bechet, and melt your Sunday blues away.

My only gripe with the film, was the abrupt difference in the mood between the first half and the second half. At some points, you do feel that the dialogue walks a predictable path, and you wish that the writing could have offered something newer. The story of two beautiful people falling in love and fighting with their true desires, is not exactly a new story.

Again, that may be because, La La Land is supposed to be seen as a homage to the great old musicals and love stories of yesterday. In a cold, cynical present, we look to the past for comfort, for in our memories, the past is always tinged with a little sunshine, a little more colour, a little more sparkle. La La Land is escapism at its best, and that is what makes it a film that should not be missed.

what if

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Here’s to the what ifs

The ones that got away

The roads not taken

The regrets over yesterday.

The coulda woulda shouldas

The cliches that rationalise

Every piece of luck, good or bad

And the unaccounted irregularities.

Here’s to cold comforts

And the numbing familiarity

Of slow days, blending into blurry years

And wondering what could’ve been.

A toast, to the doubt that plagues

Every apparently well-reasoned decision

To choose the safe option, yet always

Seeking the deep end’s adrenaline rush.

For the 0.01% chance

Of you being the outlier

Will always make you second-guess everything.

That minuscule possibility, which

Defeats every pro/con list,

The irrational, that romanticises

Labours that would never materialise.

These questions must be for daydreams,

These worries are the folly of youth

For how could we know, we are so young!

All we can do is to just sit back, and

Enjoy this show.

careless diss-per

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At this point, it is safe to say that movie-going audience is done with superhero franchise movies. You know the drill – a regular everyman / handsome billionaire  is offered the chance to save the world, he does so prove himself to the love of his life / redeem himself / resolve his daddy issues, is helped along the way by an old wise mentor (preferably black / European / Asian, who dies tragically, but not before giving a rousing speech on duty and honour). Our superhero must not only overcome physical obstacles, but win the tussle within, and find out who he is, while smashing a city to smithereens. The same story is told over and over, by different superheroes, boots and reboots, prequels and sequels and alternate universes. It’s the decade of the comic-book nerd, and mainstream audiences were loving it, until it all reached a saturation point. Or has it?

The superhero movie of yore made its protagonist infallible and invincible. Then Batman Begins (2005) came along, and the flawless hero was humanised, and audiences discovered The Story; the ugly flashback which explained to us how troubled our hero really was, and how he decided to rise above his limitations.  Then Marvel started making the Iron Man (2008 – ?) movies – fun, witty action-fueled romps, without the intense gravitas of Nolan’s trilogy in the DC Comics universe. Story again gave way to stunning stunts and action sequences. Production houses joined the mad race to create the next biggest summer blockbuster, which would smash all previous records.

Hot on the heels of unexpected hit Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), the movie which launched Parks and Recreation’s Chris Pratt into one of the biggest Hollywood stars today, Marvel took a chance on Tim Miller’s Deadpool (2016), with Ryan Reynolds playing the Merc with a Mouth, who wields his katanas and cusses with equal aplomb. Like its (anti)hero, Deadpool is a movie that shouldn’t have been. Constantly spoofing the traps and tropes of its genre, the opening credits eschew the actors’ names completely, and set the tone for the rest of the film. Loaded with gags and jokes at the X-Men universe and how it might never get a sequel, Deadpool is irreverent, uncouth, crass, and oh so much fun. You will raise your eyebrows and laugh despite yourself at all the dick jokes, notwithstanding the Indian Censor Board’s best efforts to ruin enjoyment for adults.

Deadpool has many faults – Homeland‘s Morena Baccarin’s character is not given any depth, the criterion for casting Ed Skrein as the villain appears to be just a British accent, the climax isn’t particularly remarkable, the storyline leaves much to be desired, and the film seems to be playing into all the clichés it has been so gleefully mocking. But go watch it as a purely spoof movie, and you will get your price of admission’s worth. It’s a giant fuck-you to superhero movie clichés, probably in hopes that directors and writers will buckle up and write fresh storylines for the next hot ticket at the box office. To borrow a line from a rival – maybe Deadpool is the antihero we need and deserve right now?

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