Sunday, November 28, 2010

Conforming to the Non-Conformity!

Regrets? I've had a few, 
But then again, too few to mention. 
I did what I had to do 
And saw it through without exemption. 
I've lived a life that's full - 
I've travelled each and every highway. 
And more, much more than this, 
I did it my way. 

Frank Sinatra is a Sagittarian. Oops! Before I get carried away by the Archer, let me come back to what I wish to write.

I totally agree to Aristotle’s words, “MAN IS A SOCIAL ANIMAL!” How can a person socially detach himself completely? At least I cannot imagine surviving in social isolation and confining myself to the four walls of any room, without anybody around, devoid of Cell phone and the Internet. It is in fact in my opinion, the height of austerity. Nevertheless, I would wish to modify the statement to “MAN IS A SOCIAL ROBOT!” and that is because you are on the verge of being socially excommunicated if you do not conform to the hypocritical standards that have been set by our patriarchal society.
One can go for as many plays as they wish to, but churning out a career on stage is something one should not dare to desire. And, the most ludicrous part is that the youngsters generally give in to these social expectations, ideals and norms in order to live happily in this society. Oh! But, are they happy after sacrificing their goals and being crushed lethally by expectations of people around them?
What made me write this is one of my most ambitious conversations till date with my best friend a few days back.
 The conversation was as follows:
Me: I would love to be a Pirate, if not a Hippie!
Sanchayan: What would you not love to be?
Me: A Conformist!
Sanchayan: Oh I See! All the best.

The words, “All the Best!” indeed sums up how difficult a task it is to rebel against the system and pursue the ultimate goal and passion. There dwells a fear of being tagged as a ‘Counter Cultural Element!’; a feeling of dread resides deep down the heart and it can be a threat to one’s existence itself. What if you are socially denounced?

Nevertheless, I guess being a non-conformist is certainly an honest way of living and indeed leading a more adventurous and challenging life than being a socially driven coward and following the milling crowd. Alright, now people might simply call me an eccentric or a free spirit. I would seriously revel in being called a free spirit. And, it seems highly ludicrous when being a non-conformist implies to taking drugs, experiencing psychedelic and hallucinogen enhanced trips, running away from house and comfortably staying aloof and secluding from every social ties. Now, I just cannot conform to this belief.
As far as my understanding goes, being a non-conformist simply means taking a firm stand regardless of what people around you feel or think. For instance, if my classmates find smoking ‘cool’ and drinking ‘hip’; that doesn’t mean I am supposed to feel the same way and embrace their ways. I do not have to follow the trend all the time, neither do I have to be any trendsetter. It’s just about having an opinion and sticking to it. Now, if everybody rushed to the cinema halls to watch Harry potter on the 19th of this month, it does not in any way make it a compulsion for me to do the same act. I have no fascination about the much loved Potter fantasy and I am not scared to declare it openly either. That is my idea of being a non-conformist.

On a much personal level, almost everybody around me still cannot whole heartedly accept my decision of taking up photography professionally. But, will that stop me from following my dream? Ah!! Even if it takes hundreds of arguments, rather hearted arguments, I am up for them. Bring it on! Oh! Actually it is not too distant a dream anymore. Just another couple of years and I shall march towards my one and only serious passion fearlessly, against all odds.

I can vividly hallucinate everybody retorting, ‘Photography is not a profession for girls. Taking up Photography as a profession means staying away from home most of the time.’ Now, I have got used to hearing these statements every time I talk about following my passion. Nevertheless, when the time will come to take the final call, I shall march towards my dream without a speck of fear and be a non-conformist if that’s what everybody would love to call me then.

In a way, being termed as a non-conformist will even make me feel like a ‘hippie’ and indirectly, make my dream of becoming a hippie true too. Haha! Jokes apart, I just hope I do not succumb to the dogmatic doctrines of Society and live as I wish to. Cheers to the Non-conformists! (guess who is topping the list of the non-conformists? Who else except for My John Lennon…)

Alright, now Frank Sinatra has again invaded my thoughts and I would love to wrap this up with his words…

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew, 
When I bit off more than I could chew…
I've loved, I've laughed and cried, 
I've had my fill - my share of losing.
I faced it all and I stood tall 
And did it my way.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Redefining Jane Austen!

This write up stems from a three hour long discussion with my cousins which took place some months back. The talks started with the reasons for literature syllabus at the university level being confined mostly to the Victorian age consisting of Charles Dickens, Bronte sisters, Joseph Conrad; period of Romanticism covering Coleridge, Shelley, William Blake and Wordsworth and a small section on Modern Literature mainly dedicated to James Joyce, Auden and Earnest Hemmingway. As time passed and the discussion grew deeper, we figured out various other works of fiction which seriously demand recognition and are worth studying on a much serious level. Keeping everything aside, the section of literature which caught our attention was the one whose fate, quality and standard is highly debatable; the one which is simply not considered genuine literature by the critics. Yes! This very contemporary genre of fiction is popularly known as the Chick-Lit section. I strongly feel one finds its roots back during the Romanticism.

The question which remained unanswered even after debating and discussing for hours that night was what exactly is a chick-lit? In my not so intellectual understanding, chick-lit basically is any piece of fiction which humorously revolves around a dominating female protagonist and addresses her innumerable high-spirited romantic adventures and misadventures as well as deals with the myriad issues and problems she faces right from her teenage years till adulthood.

Now, when you club the above terms of ‘DOMINATING FEMALE PROTAGONIST’, ‘HUMOUR’, ‘ROMANTIC ADVENTURES AND MISADVENTURES’ together, don’t you immediately remember English Literature’s one of the most prolific female writers, who was indeed much ahead of her time and whose nib drew some of the best Historical Romances of all times? Yes! I am talking about none other than the creator of Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse, Elinor Dashwood and Anne Elliot. Jane Austen, undoubtedly has defined classic romance through her works and perhaps is one of the most famous woman writers not only of her times but till date. Austen’s ‘Special Six’ which include ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘Emma’, ‘Persuasion’, ‘Mansfield Park’, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’ at large, follow a similar pattern and peculiarly focus on certain issues. When one reads these novels, what stands out is the daring young woman’s journey into womanhood and the need for a wise marriage, with a unique exception found only in ‘Sense and Sensibility’. The portrayal of class distinction is prevalent throughout the six classics and the element of sensitivity ornamented with humor is felt in each of her works.

Over the past couple of decades, there have been numerous silver screen adaptations of Austen’s novels and contemporary writers have forever been inspired by her works and have pen pictured Emma and Mr.Darcy in their own literary ways. Starting from the much loved ‘Bridget Jone’s Diary’, ‘Amanda’ and not so popular ‘Lover’s vow’, ‘The Absentee’ and many more contemporary works have striking similarities with Jane Austen’s novels. Infact, every chick lit novel today has all the aspects which were reflected through Austen’s novel. Maybe the depth of brilliance in language has suffered and the use of profanity have increased by leaps and bounds, but ultimately the story remains very much the same.

So, why on Earth does the genre of chick lit not get the much deserved recognition as a part of literature? I strongly believe that discarding them from the realm of literature is way too harsh a treatment to be given to any piece of writing for that matter. In my honest opinion, Jane Austen is indeed the pioneer figure in establishing this genre and in fact has successfully as well as immaculately popularized it through her novels. She had written the novels in the eighteenth century thus, she theoretically qualifies as a Victorian age or a Romantic novelist but does she conform to the standards of either of them? Ah! No…  Victorians as well as Romantics believed in expressing strong emotions via the usage of color and sound in the writing. She was indeed one of the most subversive as well as rebellious writers of all times, in her own poignant ways. Hence, firstly, the critics should instead of glorifying the shallowness of the chick-lit novels and condemning the genre, must consider their roots and before commenting on or criticizing the modern day novels, must first notice the distinct parallels that can be easily drawn with the Jane Austen novels which are sheer classics, period.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mrinalini,through my eyes!

there is yet another kind of love, love where there is no expectation… love that sets you free…!”

Aparna Sen’s ‘Iti Mrinalini’ redefines silver screen brilliance in ways more than one and proves to be memorable forever because of innumerable reasons. But, first things first, I am not even remotely interested in giving away the details of the story because that is for you to unravel. Now, you must be wondering then what purpose does this article serve.

Ah! I am in awe of the movie and it’s been on my mind for too long now.  And, after pondering over it for weeks, I have decided to write something about the movie without revealing the story. Though, there are huge chances of failing miserably in this attempt of mine.

To begin with, people might wonder what is so unique about the film... Apart from being an Aparna Sen movie, there’s a lot more that the movie has in store for the audience. This time round, the director is not just the anchor of the movie but even the protagonist and is sharing screen space with her daughter, Konkona. Doesn’t this fact remind you of Rituporno Ghosh’s ‘Titli’? I would rather not write anything about ‘Titli’ for that is once again an impeccably beautiful piece of art and I can go on and on writing about it.
Now, the twist in the tale is that while in Titli, the real life mother and daughter portrayed inexplicably the sensitivities of a mother-daughter relationship on screen, here, they impersonate the same character but in different time periods. The story begins during the turbulent Naxalite Seventies in Calcutta and ends in today’s urban Kolkata.

Well, the movie does have many more undercurrents than what it presents with its face value. Watch for them!

‘Death’ helps the story sink wholly into you. It is not a mere death of an individual but the decease of one’s trust; demise of a stalwart; end of a career; dissolution of dreams and most importantly, complete annihilation of expectations!

The film guarantees you a new connection. Yes! By the time, the movie is about to end, you will find yourself emotionally connected to the central character and why not? After all, you will find a part of yourself in her. And, mark my words, you will be startled with the last scene and wish things would have ended differently.

On a much larger canvas, the film’s theme focuses on the arbitrariness of life. The story speaks volumes of the randomness of situations and the unexpected turn of events in our life, which are generally out of our control.
Celebrated auteur Aparna Sen has always been eminent for her emotional story telling without overdoing the drama. With ‘Iti Mrinalini’, she elevates sensitivity to a completely sublime level and transcends it beyond practicality. Who has not shed a tear while watching ‘36 Chowringhee Lane’, ‘15 Park Avenue’ or ‘Yugant’ for that matter? Similarly, do expect to find yourself in tears after leading Mrinalini’s life through 24 frames per second.

Yes! The film will deeply move you and let me tell you what will happen after you finish watching the film. You are definitely going to spend the next couple of days or maybe even more reminiscing every phase of your life and remembering every detail of it. There are chances of you even sitting with all your memorabilia and reliving every bit of your past. 
The bottomline of the film is that it will be a once in a lifetime cinematic experience, not worth missing, whatsoever.

Err…did I reveal any bit of the plot? I suppose no… so, here goes my understanding of the poignant Mrinalini without scrutinizing her part by part but, loving her as a whole.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I have these spotless white sheets in front of me. Oh! I missed out those thin black lines on them. But, how does it matter whether these sheets are completely white or have the consistent appearance of black lines one below the other, as long as it is plain blank? Without any words on them, are these pages even worth a look? Ofcourse not! So, a page has only two distinct identities. It is either full of value or of no value. A word or two on its clean surface and it can invite hundreds of eyes else, somebody might just use it to erase the remnants of the previous lecture that comfortably rests on the blackboard.

So, what do I do in order to grab the attention of the curious minds towards my paper? I cannot dance on the blank sheet, neither can I croon my favorite song nor crack my best joke. All I can do is WRITE. Now, what do I write when my mind is nothing but a store of surplus absurdities? Random haphazard thoughts have been crowding me for days. The train of thought departs from a particular station in the present and derails to some unwanted destination in the buried past and ultimately arrives at a place, too far from the present. How can I write stuff with the clarity of thought almost invisible to be noticed?

It has been very rightly said that every piece of art always bears a part of its creator. A writer leaves a part of his life in his writing; a director involves some bit of personal experience in his movies and a painter camouflages his thoughts in disguise of the vibrant hues. And, it happens with every individual I believe. Moreover, it is often one of those journals of our lives which do not exist anymore that try to find an outlet through any form of art; be it literature or performing art. Atleast when I think of writing anything, unless it is a factual write up, personal experiences are the only resources I have with me to begin with.

But, is it always feasible to replicate the mirror images of slices from our lives? Aren’t some of the moments better left alone to reside in our hearts than to be publicized? Anyway, when we finally resort to dispersing these out in the open, we either change the names or better, do away with them; followed by inclusion of several other characters into the scene; entrusting them with roles they can carry off well and lastly some cautiously forethought filtration of details. But, no matter how brilliantly one masquerades the memories, the subliminal messages are any day louder than the explicit messages and there’s always that one individual who will impeccably decipher the inside story which better stayed repressed. After all, everybody has an irreversible regret, an irreparable mistake, an unreachable dream and an unspeakable secret. So, why even create the opportunity for an outsider to march into our most personal memories. It is like giving the liberty to those highly interested intruders to gently pry into our very own space.

Alright, so what was this article about? I am still blank and confused about how to start developing a thought into a full-fledged article. Well, even though, I may begin phrasing out my thoughts carefully, there are way too many thoughts in search of those right words which obviously will never succeed in their search. And, what about the much needed ‘END’? Abrupt! That is the only way I can define the endings of anything I write, rather every end seems to be abrupt. Oh! WHY AM I SURPRISED? Who plans the perfect endings? How on Earth is it ever possible for anybody to determine the exact moment, things should expire? And, is it just about things? I mean nobody begins anything in life in order to end it. So, the ending always has to be as brusque as possible and yes! Completely unexpected. Oh! So I can see that this write up has lost its way and I have no road map, rather mind map to bring myself to the point where it all commenced from. So, I guess I shall now board another train of thought from a brand new terminus and travel from one land to another, full of myriad images.

Random Thoughts and nothing else !


Happy Reading !