Thursday, May 08, 2008


its been a while and there were a number of things to say. I however didnt really like my blog layout and wasnt highly inspired to write in any case. Yet I have begun. I fear I would be saying the usual things in usual style. Why do I care? Dont I have enough to want to share on this virtual platform, either for myself or for another?
ive been told that by someone who's turned part of a circle of my everyday existence...not through an intimacy that it could come with but out of compulsion rather. Put in the same space for the same reasons and having to be around for the same time each day...almost the same.
the word's been used on me.
Ive been used on the word. am I spent?
a little bit, yeah.
How spent?
Anyway, a play happened to me, and I happened to a play too.
Lost learning.
Someone else would use that on the world (to my chagrin and annoyance) a lot of times, but Im using it a different context.
Whats the inner raging bull? why are its nostrils bellowing?
just discovered that i could probably use billowing here too, in a different sentence to make it sound cool, but chose not to indulge in that.
it doesnt matter.
simple sentence aint it? no fancy frill, no embellishing with phase and prose.
aah, there is something.
Some rhyme.

Why is rhyme important? why am i not writing about important things? will this vomit get out the essence when the silt clears. Silty vomit.

scratch head, scratchy ideas, scratched out writings in a book.

want to end here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


cases, spaces, and laces that make us sane or not,
explain please the context of thy thought?
quizzical, frowning foreheads of enquiry
send me to the case of the missing lorry
so now you think this is a lame rhyme
but truly, through the spaces of time
travelling or not as newton's donkey
are moments of lacey traces so funky
that schrodinger's cat would frown upon
seeking sanity to his smirky faced gown
SO sane now deserveth a cane
for the ridiculous cows over the mane
not the lions but the misspelt moon
go away minds goon!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Oliver twists my mind's thumb- An academic study

Alright, here's I with a narrative, a real strange one. I'll be as straightforward about it as I can. School. That's the word for the day, and wait, it goes with the word shopping. Weird? Believe it or not, the NIKE sale almost did me in...with memories, flooding in like never before; and the accompanists of course, emotions.
I've been there before... not emotionally- that's not what I mean. I mean been to the-school-that-was. A few visits. After school was over for me, after passing out, and never wanting to go back in. And then of course because of the act of going to college right there after a short break.
It loomed large then- a little bit, the blue and grey stone building, as I would scoff.
I was here, me-meme-me-me!
On the other side, me-meme-me-me!
I was all grown up, you can't do a darn thing, neither as school, as a phenomenon, nor the evil I eschewed- those darned teachers.
And so it was a grown up phenomenon. I was all "grown up".
THEN an exit. From the country.Far far away. away and out, out of sight, out of mind, out of the influences of the past. Greys and blues and all those nasty associates of the murderer, SCHool.
Yes, you die.
Believe it or not, never did I for a moment think I'd look back, not for better times, because those were dull and few...a few shimmering in the murk I'll say, but few. For the better part, it was better forgotten, rather, the worse part. "Throw away the worser part..."something from Hamlet's murmurings, maybe in contextual. But you know what, I have to try. I need to unite the forces of the I that was, and the I-s that came post school. I need to tell the school I that I'm now here, I'm invincible.

I went back one day. Just to say Hello, just to see what the motha-fuck can those walls do?
Not much Darling, hardly that much. I was feeling nothing much, pretty juvenile for having felt those things...silly. But I had to go. I had to scold it out of my system. Get out! I'm cool. I'm in the groove of life. I GOT IT! I 've got it. Mainstream. ME.
Man, I surprise myself. As a little boy, I sure seem to have steamed up internally quite a goddamn bit...don't I seem wired up. Ironically though, I'm truly not that holed in. My psyche, its just cleaning itself up. Housekeeping.
Today was what then? Mousehunting? through my brain? Memories and a wee bit of a heartache. Not that much, just a wee bit.
But wait, the second visit, complete your second visit, finish up a story, wrap up a thought,please...
Well, that was inconsequential. I was expecting some of those motha-fuckers to fall on their knees, kneel and look up with adoring, pleading guilty eyes. "S, we were wrong, S! we wronged you. You are a hero. You managed to stay afloat...more than afloat. You are smart. You are intelligent. You are..."
"Ugh Hello, yes, I remember...which year, which batch? Which section? Oh! Look at you boys! We always knew you boys would go places! Our boys, always go places...Look at you...all grown up! Look at him! Always the naughty one! Always the clever one! Come look at him!"
Scratching my head. What of mine are you scratching?

My ego hurts.
But it also has no goal to shoot at.
The goals don't remember me.
To those goals, its all cool. I'm just another who succeeded, who they didn't personally speak of as will fail. I could quit trying to garner energy to be nemesis of the belief they handed me. They couldn't care less because they didn't know any shit anymore. Blank.

"School days were the best years of my life" Not for me!

"I was so carefree in school, people loved me, my teachers loved me!" Not ME!

" I had lovely things i could do, I did quizzes, drama, dramatics was so cool...and I was so good in class, always the first" Hmmm

"Opportunities!" Yawn

Voice in S's head: OK tell me, what did you feel today? what did you see?
S (that's I): Trying to change the topic eh? WELL, I know, I'm smart! My mom did that to me when I was a kid, changing topics so I wouldnt be in a flummoxed-state of being, all knotted up. But it was counter-productive. VODH: Just trying to help!
Im not that sic now, used to be, have dealt with it...don't worry.

Today. a school that doesn't exist. At least mine doesn't anymore. If it does anywhere, it does only in a few thousands of us who lasted to see a sight and experience a dozen million things in those corridors and hallways. Only in our mind.
Today, as I stood at the school-that-is, I could see some similarities. The architect had tried to preserve the essence of the building by re-modelling the main centre, but he had effectively modernised (now, he says effectively!) the wings. An ex-pass out he was, I'm told. The building reeked of tales to us old-timers. Hints. Of what was, though it wasnt anymore. Of times that were, but hidden in a newer context. Hints.
Suddenly there was a hint of freshness I couldnt see before. I stood under those trees that had always been there. They seemed to know me. I shut my eyes, and flash, Flash, fLash, flAsh, flaSh, flasH, FLASH! scenes of the dungeon classes that some used to be, scenes of the cycle stand and the parking lot, scenes of the crazy library windows overlooking the isolated grove...scenes of the refectory, scenes of the ominous chemistry lab and the adjoining classrooms, scenes of the boys toilet where the wall was short and a glimpse of the road outside had reminded me that I wasn't "in" during the Jewish holocaust...Scenes.
Out of the blue, the blues broke.Something started and was very obvious. BLAST, BLAST, BLAST, all the scenes blowing up... Catharsis.
I opened my eyes. There was freshness and life...there was newness. Now, and forever, those memories in the hallways of my mind will be just those. Not imprinted for real on earth. They were now just an idea. As powerful as I wanted them to be, or not. Choice.
And then it was time. The doors opened. We had to rush in and pick up shoes. And sweatshirts. Ts. Guess where? The retained-as-it-was, but refurbished auditorium. Concert Hall we called it. And the first floored exam hall.
As I walked up those stairs, images again of walking up in uniform, the year 1894. The context, board exams. The emotion, Death. As I did today, the context, well...I created the same context as the previous assent, only the mood now remained, cheerful and carefree. I was out of its reach...I believe I can fly?
Was not all of that fairly straightforward?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

jazzy jazzy bang bang

Novelty seems to be the rule of the game. Im talking performers and musicians. In the current western context. Art and music appreciation in the Europes and Americas and related white world is markedly different from Asian sensibilities, or so we thought. However, things have come full circle. Michael Schiefel seemed one such...a musician and performer rolled into one, with a technological innovation of his own- a music box and a parrot rolled into one. all those selling points, and a couple of good songs made for an evening at the Goethe, Bangalore.

where were we? Oh yes, novelty. To be honest, I don't think i went anywhere else with my verbosity; all of it was about using novelty to sell. As I write this out, I can almost sense a dozen personal reactions and preempt yours- the reader's, to words like musician, and sell. Connotations is where the key is to that phenomenon but I urge you to chuck that. Im using the term sell in a very different sense, common sense.

Artists do sell, musicians sell, and oh my God, they sell, well, their creations! If you are reacting to that, my bet is that it is the Asian modesty inculcated in you- one that says that art and spiritual teachings are sacred, dont you dare sell if you are worth your salt. And thats precisely my point, how would you know what your salt is worth?

Agreed that was a tangent, but will probably come handy to support my talk on novelty. What I'm trying to get at is a connection between Indian art and Indian artists and western art and the artist... and, most importantly, the audiences (I'll be kind and not say consumers or customers) in both contexts. Many a realisation has been realised by yours truly in areas of what people want from their music and art, and many an annoyed reaction expressed to the ways of packaging the offerings. Musicians and filmmakers and the lot, the pop lot, have always dolled out "newness" in avtars of, " I got a pakistani artist to sing", or "Watch this actor sing for the first time" or " never before have AC and DC come together!" moments of advertisement...even bizzaire ones being," Sanjey Rutt sings in a female voice, and then some cow too". Now, what last evening was all about, was something like that. A man who was a one-man-show vocalist and musical instruments all rolled into one. pretty remarkable what say? So you want to see a man go at it, do his nautankie and then make your dil kush. Just one problem. Here was Mr White skinned German on a German stage with a page 3 crowd nodding in excitement at the mental image of a lovely elitist chamber experience. Cynical, heavy cynical!

Not a bad thing though, just trying to get aware, to sort out. What the attitudes are about performers within our psyche and those to be matched when one comes in from a culture beyond our approval for reasons beyond my comprehension.

With these standposts in my mind I sat through Michael Schiefel's performance (as I must call it, in a non-connotative but objectively observant tone) and I must say, he passed the test. There was the element I think is the redemptive factor. Moments of pure authenticity to the creation... and that was enough.

Monday, May 07, 2007

to eraze the double post this needed to be done...

Guru: pauses and clauses

I wrote this review ages ago...

Guru, talk to me…

No, not that way…

Well, ok, its ok- a song, you plan to greet me with a song…a lovelorn girl who runs from home---runs from home, and then a train, blue-rain, rain-earth…

I know the frames- beautiful, but familiar. I can almost see the invisible 100 behind the lens. Maniratnam’s team. Should I be thrilled or turned off at the predictability of quality that comes with the brand…open question.

Guru Bhai, talk to me…

Yes, yes, you open up slightly, you sift through and shift around, and you breathe, you show yourself, a flash of ambition: too-quickly-a-solidifying mercury that it is…

But hello, its now giving in, the history of your sudden love lore, the almost unexplained re-running into the lass (unexplained is good by the way), what with geography being passe and trains going round in circles?

But I pardon, I see- I don’t blink yet, I see life, you coming alive- your own pace, fast and slow…but you live

But you still have not talked to me.

Guru Bhai, talk to me…

So how does it go? I’m “image-blank” now but I remember the discomfort. It set in at the sight of the song, Guru Bhai turned into one of the any 100 avtars of the small Bee’s legs buzzing about with an equal slipped-out-of-her-skin-eternally damsel. Oh damsel, it doesn’t work, neither the substance you so project out gawky, nor the beauteous majesty of Denmark (Delhi or Dehradun) you coyly toy with being, assuming I’m unaware. If this were truly a Garbha I’d be mesmerized but hey, self-memory check---I paid to see Guru Bhai’s story, not Bollywood garbha. YES, APOLOGISE!

Ok Guru Bhai, I’ll look at you straight in the eye just as Vishwamitra focused on the truth post temptation…I can’t loose it to the Maya…I can’t yet…TALK MAN!

…they heard me…they heard me! Those men behind the lens…and what did I see? I saw 100 men in panic yelling and running around with one scream, “HALT! We have goods…” His badge read MANI CLAUS and he pulled out goodies—what lovely goodies they were, my god!

Gift 1: Angry man with power and a lion’s heart. Moments of “touch-me-heart-and-I’ll crumble-coz-I’m-soft-inside”- Lovely

Gift 2: Wife and husband love saga post marriage. Moments- he touches and she doesn’t cringe, she hits back. She dries clothes in the terrace and he plays with her body. She wriggles, asks for her due- him on her.

Twin-gifts: the beautiful mystery. Thou hast cleft my egg in twain. Mani’s man. Lovely!

Gifts for Guru Bhai: paunch, spectacles, greying mane, twinkle in the eye, a song in the back. He retorts with a grunt at the girl succumbing to disease, his girl and not his own…

Everyone gets a gift….

Now to check where the gifts were made…don’t check the hind of the package…these ones have their labels proudly displayed in front.


Made in BOMBAY


Made in YUVA

Made in IRUVAR…

Made in a HURRY

Tell me Guru Sir, sorry, Mani sir, blueprints need necessarily not be taken out literally and then, obviously placed…I tell you Mani sir, that those were different bodies, with their own souls…

Remember you were one of the “many-few”, who taught the nation that mainstream Indian cinema could make alternate choices? You choices were brave and honest within their zone; you stopped, you paused, you stumbled, you cast the hand-picked oddballs, and you stunned with a dash of panache…

…and now, well I’ve ejaculated the acerbic already but all I have to ask you is, why has Guru Bhai not talked with you? He says he first needs to speak to you alone, full-talk, full-open, and then perhaps the whisper you heard and the glimmer that I saw would have exploded. Maybe

[It is with strange emotion I lash out. My dose of Indian cinema that was my contemporary was Mani's cinema. The films were in Tamil (mostly), and allowed my convent educated shun-all-regional-identities mindset some relief from embarrassment when faced with all things regional. Tamil was cool because the Tamilian spoke. He spoke in a tone that was true and integrated to an image of legitimacy. I could be Tamil and nothing else and it didn’t matter. I could exist as I pleased.

Watching this filmmaker evolve to certain exalting heights in filmmaking (which to me is during the Dil-Se, Iruvar, Kannathil Muthamittal pinnacles of his career) I craved for his success and a more mainstream understanding of his vision for Indian cinema, all to be dashed to the ground, one after another. Mainstream Tamil audiences and later the infamous “Bullys of the woods” did nothing to really read into the nuances, to glorify and pat his back, his “alternacy”. Mani’s strength however (in my opinion) lay in unique casting, some well-known ones being…

Madhu in Roja, Manisha for Bombay, (and earlier) deglamorised Rajnikanth in Dalapathi, a more recent torn down Simran and Madhavan for Kannathil Muthamittal, the demure and powerful Shalini for Alaipayuthey, “don-Dravidian to the T” Prakash Rai in Iruvar, spunky spitfire of a Revati in Mauna Raagam

If I start with the supporting cast that is so vital (and powerful because they were handpicked), I could just go on and on and on….

In my opinion, the mainstream-ness started with a shift in psyche, a reflection of what I saw in his recent “high-powered cast-fixes”, and “Bollywoodization”, weaker scripts…

( I don’t think scripts were particularly strong with Mani, he had a flair for screenplay which made up for the lack of a strong story-line. However, he has been terrible with climax scenes and has almost always messed them up except in a few like Iruvar)

…and now an awkwardly crafted, reeking of compromises- Guru had to just nail me (or my hopes and love for the man rather) to the cross. Hence this tone… Guru sunn raha haI naa?]


Just to remind the I that wants to write, the expanded I that is, philosophy that demands it...
about what just cannot say elaborately except that it is a condition of phrases if u will are up for auction
1. Community and the self
2. angst of a different kind
3. the performer
4. Mr Breathe
5. the indian angre-English-zie

now, if you were to write a play with these characters, i can't say where you will of now, the brain stands flummoxed
so much for get set go...
coming soon is all i can say for now
Interestingly someone called my cell phone neanderthal...that felt...well, just felt!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


“Lines on your face”, she says, don’t bother her and I’m quite the crinkled forehead-and-chin at the moment, trying to perceive the nuances in her song...This talk right here maybe about the Jones girl with spunk and a musical genre that truly isn’t purist, and certainly spans styles, but hey, with soul (pun intended). What’s in the cache you ask, and how do I put this eloquently, I gush. The unplugged vocals and plucking of the strings, the piano, the drumming…which is it? I got to hint at the strength in what she sings (and of course, how she does sing, my god!) there’s certainly element in there…trace it out.

Her recent re-doing live of her best so far rendition (and my favorite) I’ve got to see you again, in New Orleans now streams live on You tube, quite the history, given the city being the birthplace of Jazz… And Norah in a large or small sense, representing the contemporary state and stage of the music genre…its alive and kicking, and sounding better.

“I have a real big fear of being overexposed” she said once and I truly feared that for her. Musically however, I think she has both passed the test and failed it. I still am stuck to her older album releases, and a CD burned out for me specially (by a friend) with songs that were not on her albums… some of those, singles prior to Come Away With Me. And then came along the next album, with Sunrise leading. Sunrise is pretty catchy, but it leans toward pop, and the rest of the album didn’t work too well. So the failing, but that’s with me….the world has loved all of her so far. Yet, Norah the star is not who-and-what I want to talk about. So much for my stream-of-consciousness, let’s talk current status of jazz related styles.

I want to focus on some of Norah’s work that has impacted the genre/s in particular. Let’s talk Jazz. I’m not the best to be dolling out historical perspectives, I can barely get names straight, though I can’t help but observe the influences and genre overlap right from the inception eras to the modern “decade-ears” of mine. A predominantly Black musical movement- there’s that entire social context to musical evolution that we often forget to credit. Yes, we all do know that “field hollers” (as local folk-calls while-working-in-the-fields-of-the-new-world were called during the slavery times) shaped initial offerings to Jazz amalgamations with popular white and church styles. But then, the blues got darker. Some of the lighter elements of Jazz separated out to turn palatable and palpable. Don’t know it that was a good thing, but blues turned around and walked out alone. Agree or not, music did lend to a cultural understanding of continents…African music in the American context could not help but handle the urban context, and churned the blues. Conditions of life, condition of your personal rhythm, and conditions of collective music…we have something to say, our souls are in pain. So I contest the birthplace of Jazz with my posting of the new candidate- the black soul, and that was in a lighter vein.

My point is how much of any music today rises out of a true life condition? Most genres were creators being true to the tonality of their rhythmic utterance, “Jazz” being a great example. In Norah’s context however the element of jazz (element, as I should call it, reasons being the term overlap) seems to preserve its nature, urbane and slick with ‘proud-modesty’ and honest sound. Pain is the debatable factor, yet, probably Norah’s attempts to write her own lyrics will convince me. And she’s done that in her latest release, Not Too Late but I’m yet to tune in. As for keeping social context alive in our music, a whole generation needs to do some soul searching and look up jazz for inspiration. So much for talk, where’s the music toggle?

Deepak Srinivasan

Saturday, February 03, 2007

sweaty shetty

The time has come my little friends…
To talk about cabbages and kings
Or about being south-asian
Looks like the world of Indians is celebrating being under one banner, a world of south-asians is doing that. Shilpa Shetty is the entity who arranged for the unison in voice, thankfully. A chance for the diaspora of a region to suddenly yell out what was stuck at its throat, “Respect Brown”.
But wait just a minute sir, Indian that I am, living in India, it’s a unique bubble of an issue. First of, it involves an India-based-Indian (nationality), so yes this is my war She is not the ideal representative of the ethnic (south-asian) minority in a foreign country, having never lived outside India for a period of time. However, the issue itself seems to have poured on to and scalded the feet of south-asian communities abroad, what with this becoming reason enough for “them” to unite and utilize the argument to rabble rouse. Excuse me, but does not the so-called south-asian community living abroad suffer from the ‘Goody Syndrome’? How come it finds offensive, India-the-nation-based comments and an Indian national’s degradation?
Having lived in the United States for a few modest years of my life, I came in close encounter with the south-asian. Granted that Britian and the US are miles away and the south-asian in the regions is bound to be different, so I will stick only to the ones existing in the US to draw out my observations. The average south-asian is a cause for concern, trapped in many layers, “lived out there for years” or “born and hold a red passport” assortment. And then you have me, the ones who probably came hiding in a boat- an illegal entry, one who has not figured out a role in the hierarchy yet. Only sirs, I came in a plane with legitimate documents, with legitimate plans of study and return to the home country.
“ How is it that you can speak English?”
“ You seem light skinned, not typically like one from the south, but you say you are south-Indian, are you sure?”
“ Once when I was in Tamil Nadu, those madrasis ate with their whole forehand, licking away at the dribbling sambar like barbarians”
“This is a pizza, its Italian, then there’s Chinese food, and Mexican and Greek”
“ These are shorts, they are good to be worn in summer, try them”
“ Indian boys in NY, don’t we know what they will want to be up to?”
“ You speak good English, and the accent is also not that bad, but the ones who come from India usually can’t even spit out alphabets”
And then of course, one had the crowning glory of a term “desi” with the “fresh-off-the-boat-desi” himself making an appearance in many a south-asian flick. Oiled hair, bad table and bathroom manners, and drooling over the slightest skin show.
Yes indeed my mum didn’t really take much to cooking, and she did take an awful lot to eating out. So did I. I could be one of the few rare, most tolerant and experimental vegetarians (yes please, vegetarian only) from the sub-continent. Granted.
I could have been one of the few Indians from the sub-continent…went to a “convent”, an English medium school where English language skills were emphasized on. Granted.
But hello, who were you Mr. South-Asian, when you made a landing on the foreign land? And who are you now? And are you trying to tell me that most of the western world can read and write? Speaking English is not a sign of literacy or sophistication. Half of the Americans (maybe more) don’t know to read and write. As for the lesson “rethinking the concept of culture as a synonym for west”, please take a trip into redneck lands and good luck with that. When you expect to see a villager stereotype from your homeland, look closer at the trash around you in the garb of metal sheen, thank you.
So much for that, now lets look at home. India, the land of spirituality, healing…come visit, is that what our Indian ministry had to say?
Isn’t it a matter of great pride to be so patriotic when “they” disparage against us? But it isn’t really such a big deal when citizen disrespect takes place within our holy motherland. No patriotism there. A bunch of Hindutva sloganists plaster my city orange and aggravate drivers by forcefully pasting on the car windscreen stickers reading “One Hindu one Nation”. Yet another bunch, led by a local Ex-MP of the state takes the liberty to put up a hoarding in praise of Saddam Hussain proclaiming him to be an ally and a friend of India. Then the ultimate orgasm to both the events happens, the “communal conflict”. The government of India and those of its states seem to have enough spare time commenting on the Shilpa conflict and feeling blue bellied about a woman (who we’ll talk about it a while) who got paid to be abused. No one has the time to truly examine why we called ourselves secular, not one soul raised a cry against the ones who call themselves hindu or muslim or whatever and abuse my State with slogans of imposition and in-correct politicy. What does it matter how the white world views us, down here in India? Why do we get pulled across either of our cheeks for the fight for approval?
“What” are we and what is the Identity?
“What” am I and what is my identity?
In the land of browns there is more important matter to ponder over. So lets quit the party of south-asians raising a cry elsewhere. We have an identity to build. Let’s fight our wars here for god’s sakes.
Only YES, I did forget, the woman in question is Indian… not exactly belonging to the larger south-asian connotation, but of Indian nationality. Cosmic representation of the true nature of the Indian, be it through roots or nationality, thank “Shilpa episode” for that. What’s the wake-up call- a lack of identity, a lack of self-respect, a sick need for our existence to be validated from exterior sources, masks to hide our internal shame of being a product of Indian that we are…
All these, our little cultural dowries handed down through families and psyches with dutiful promptness wherever in the world. Yes, and so in that sense, we do all “one-umbrella” it out under the banner which of course should read “ethnic south-asians and Indian nationals” (the rest of south-asian peoples living in geographic spaces of origin, the choice is yours to count yourself in or out). And who better than our warrior prototype, Ms Shetty to exhibit that? On the one hand an image of a weeping lass, distressed and worn-out, all-ready to fight for a legitimate identity of brown. Give it two days and what have you? (Bollywood emerges out of) a ravishing lass who says there was nothing racist about it. Yes, she now solely represents Bollywood and her paltry few thousand pounds at stake and she withdraws from war. Being brown is ok just the way it is. It does not get bigger than what is at stake. The big white bullies have won and are having the last laugh at the brown. I have on the other hand, voted you out already Dahling. Who am I you ask? Yours truly, Brown Brother.
Deepak Srinivasan