In The Middle Of The Night

There’ll be moments
Fighting mortality,
Waiting for you, telling no one.
To no one
Shall cater the cries,
And the past
Shrieking into the silence
Of broken dreams,
Of broken strings,

Deep into time.
Deep into sands that swallow half-shells,
And half-memories,
Half-forgotten and half-alive,
Half-lost in hindsight.

Only to form again
In disjointed halves,
Raising its neck over the coming tide,
Before breaking again
Into a thousand parts,
Into an emptiness that’s cold,
That’s cruel,
That’ll hold;
Weeping and wailing,
Dreaming and disappearing.

There’ll be you,
Dreams of you,
Desires and despairs of you,
All that’s launched directionless,
All my heart could manage,
On faraway nights,
On nights long, long back,
That shall one day find their way to you.
All of me will find all of you.

And one day,
You’ll wake in the middle of the night.

______________________
Subham Basak
(January 2, 2017)

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Starry Night Sky and Girl Watercolor – Art Painting Print 8×10 by Heatherlee Chan | Lady

Stranded

I could tell you stories
About how a world gets buried.
How millions of them get perished
And converted. To one of rubble.

I could tell you stories
Of tears. Losing their worth.
Never given a chance to discover any.
Buried in eyes that aches of loss.

I could tell you stories
About toys. About the smell of childhood
That they carry. That are bargained
To sustain households daily turning more humble.

I could tell you about names.
About a few million tales
Set aside for them, names labelling each,
And each ending midway, each casually slain.

I could tell you about homes,
About the ghosts that haunt them,
About the darkness, despair, and delusions
They go through, inquisitional, as you abandon them.

I could tell you about
That famous winter fair
Of a village that lost all its kids.
I could tell you about
A last leaf, hating its green,
Stretching itself to the wind,
Craving for a cradle, awaiting death’s kiss.

Or

I could tell you about forced endings.
About how certain things simply end.
Without notice.
And ones that don’t, feel stranded.
Without practice.

___________________

Subham Basak
(December 16, 2016)

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Image credit: http://ahntify.com/the-intensely-visceral-images-of-naava/

Party of One

It falls out of place perhaps when you have had too much talk with yourself and suffering from a loneliness that can’t be peopled out. It is when thoughts turn into whirlwinds. Some mild, some loud. Some to glorify the essence of life, some enough to consider ending it. Thoughts are a bitch. Guiding everything. If I were inside of my brain, I was sure to throw up. But then, just prior to the point of exhaustion, just before submission and giving in, it all turns beautiful. Just like truth.

They are all around me. They have surrounded my helpless senses under the veil of refining them. They are playing games. They are spineless, little impostors. They are making me talk and walk, love and hate. They compel me to trust them, walk alongside them, ask them of preposterous unearthly favours.

I want her to love me back.

I want myself to be happy.

I want everything fair.

 

They are not enough to accompany me. They scream when it’s silent around the ears. In tedious, unflinching repetition:

What’s yours must be little, insufficient.

 

It’s as if I find myself sitting at the centre. Silent in the middle of a throbbing party. There’s music playing. Creating waves, lashing against the walls of dull stony cage. Waters that are warm. Thoughts that can dance.
And then, if not thoughts, what are you left with?

In flashes like those of a lighthouse upon a bleak expanse of waters, before the silent awake soul, it suddenly bemuses you by being beautiful. By glowing in a fearful radiance. Like it’s all true! Like one too can make an eternal party! Like the tears of happiness and sorrow, they all count (even the ones swallowed down)! Like the world is a faraway place, made of stone and wood with Life filling its holes, emanating a fragrance. Where nothing must make sense for everything to be of sense.

And we must be lonely.

Subham Basak

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ORIGINAL ARTWORK // Thoughts Leafing // 40 by dirissigmundsdottir

Night’s Way

Silences wait to be heard. To be read. To be plunged into, to get wet. They remain, and they appear. They change mundaneness into longings. Longings of reciprocation, of language, of an embrace just meant for you. You would find compositions in the air, in the fluttering breeze, conspiring to keep you awake to the magic and warm in the night. It is as if the day’s passengers have used up their space and passed by, leaving stories that haunt you, sounds that whisper to you, an existence that persists, as ripples left by an evening boat in the ocean that last the entire night.

Everything around, bathed in whitish celestial sacredness, stooped and sat in silent meditation, emanating communally a silence, ceremonious in parts, imperceptible by urban light in others. Trees, fences, mildly trembling waters, and roads writing the history of its dust. They all seemed touched upon by a higher sense of purpose, each dedicated in isolation, towards a common goal. The beauty of the night remains to be written. The composition must be perfect.

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That Which Was Spilled

Sometimes, I just forget to love people. They ride upon a moment and appear, and like the moments, I let them go. It’s like the task feels so difficult at times. They rush in too fast, wait for no permission, smile past, breeze past, like that dialogue from a movie in a theatre you couldn’t pause at and savour.

In hindsight, you fall in love with their memories. You smile back. A little late. A point in time a little distant. In a space where desolation has slowly but inevitably grown around you. Into you. Staring steadfast. And you let the tiny countless lights of regret blink on, like the ritual of festivity in a city of love. It is all so inevitable. Like every trinket of failure in life, we fail in life to emanate just enough love.

We fail to love more times than we manage to fall in love. Then we forget when.

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Two Yards

And then after months of separation, sometimes starkly felt and sometimes just indifferently fleeting, there we were, as if waking from a long sleep, again, back together in a room. About two yards apart. The view my location allowed made the tip of her nose look fairer. It marked the beginning of minutes held together by strong impulsive emotions, washing up the crookedness of a few dry waiting arid valleys. The nose shone in white and made way to the curve of the cheeks to its left, made profound by the bulge of the round cheekbones. One eye was visible, blinking now and then, attentively focused on the lecturer in front, adding a curious aloofness to the fairness of the face, its glowing tenderness, and the radiation of a half-baked charm. A beauty that takes its time to sink in you, slowly and slowly, allowing the leisure of details, yet confident of devouring victory. With its soft roundish curve, the nose ends to form the smooth whitish space that rides a sharp slope towards the dip of the lips. Pink, bright, bold with a natural tinge of rouge. The imagination of which sets you wild. I closed my eyes and released my breath. Flushed with warmth and its soothing rage, I noticed it all together, the singular eye, the left of the nose, its fairest tip, the tender cheeks and the unsettling, pursed, slightly moving lips, all taking a hide now and then behind a few lingering strands of black-brown hair, the fan overhead making them rapidly sway, as if nervous to decide on their best positions beside the face. In all their years of service, they know, beauty rests all on their performance. Obliging with the slightly-tilted neck and gravity, the hairs on the left chose to hang loose, ending just beneath the neck, hiding most of it, before the beginning of the arched back. From time to time, parts of the guarded neck showed in whimsical glimpses, fair and curvy, yearning for the feel of warm fingers, disturbing its warm covering, gently, slowly, repeating, lasting a forever. You’d then take your eyes gradually over the curve of the shoulder covered by the short feminine sleeve of her white cotton top, and find again her skin, bare, embellishing her arm, running all the way down to the fingers, smooth, the upper part fairer due to longer sleeves worn in the past than the bottom. The naïve pull of the tender skin, my eyes that have traveled and touched, my heart that resounded in deep distinct beats, a feeling that was rising and deepening like the ticking of watch. The simple bodily beauty, bereft of and beneath the fabrics, forming a piece in whole, thronging for touch, my eyes that have memorized that, my heart that beats fast. In the space between us was nothingness, empty space and no abstract existence; just my being overcome by flames of longing and hers, sitting quiet, unawares. Two worlds, disturbed and calm, two yards apart.

July 26, 2016

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Image Source: www.india-forums.com

Udta Bollywood!

Udta Punjab (2016):

Irrespective of what a film is about, what firstly strikes me and lastly moves me is how beautiful it is. Amid the head-turning hype, amid censoring controversies on violence and vulgarity of the film, and in a larger sense of any film seeking release in the country, what I noticed is how beautiful Udta Punjab is. Its beauty cutting through all the slangs, all the squalor of its depicted reality.

The film made primarily to showcase the state of a state, how drugs have captured the lies and imaginations of a Punjab languishing far from its prideful past, where the youth who once fought for Freedom is now seeking it in the powders and syringes of a free-falling ‘Ecstasy’, succeeds in wrapping its motive in a segmented plot that makes its ends meet in the end and refrains from the excesses of melodrama altogether. The movie oscillates between its three separate stories with seeming effortlessness, jumping from one to the other without once over-complicating it or tangling the emotional threads it so poignantly weaves. What we see as the end-product is far more than an authoritative stance on the topic, and far extraordinary than the typical Bollywood our imagination is used to.

Where the film really has you shaken is with the acting (this word actually seems contradictory) of the actors (again, they are beyond it). Such fearlessness and freedom of acting is not only rare of ‘glamorous’ mainstream actors, it is simply stupefying. With carefully-crafted dialogues and accurate portrayal of slang-culture, they could have kept me eyes flowing without a shred of plot. Shahid and Alia shares screen in only a handful of scenes, and in the first of them, they render, in near-zero background music, what can arguably be called the best duet performance of modern Indian cinema. I repeat: I have not seen such courage and perfection in acting. I have not been more affected than when Alia’s character was blurting out the entire span of her journey in one breathless go, in one burst of a lifetime’s agony. I reached out and felt it. I was there, she lives somewhere in the vast stretches of my Motherland, she is not one, rather many, and she screamed her pain to me. I, the audience saw. I, the audience touched her wounds, felt the power of honest cinema. Then to top it all with words that meant, I have not broken, I am still standing. I am still standing.

Alia Bhatt delivers the performance that is worth infinitely more than her career’s ultimate earnings, her family’s name, and a lifetime of glitz, glamour and fame. She transcended it all, she won’t talk about it too much as it won’t make headlines in the Gossip columns that the glamour-chasing youth devours, ‘entertainment’ cinema will soon overshadow it by the sheer power of its quantity, but she delivers at the age of 22 (it probably won’t rage the glamorous private award shows and politically-correct government one) an actor’s dream, an artist’s pride. The nation will still find pleasure to call her ‘dumb’, ‘stupid’, even ‘uneducated’ (it is the same nation I’m taking about that still does not see what force Indian Cinema is becoming) but for all I care, she is an actor and she is awfully good at what she chose. I didn’t imagine I’d have to say, Highway was only a beginning. Now I believe, Udta too was just scratching the surface.

Shahid Kapoor delivers unquestionably the second-best performance of the movie, but those who are acquainted with the names Kaminey and Haider already know the potential of his acting, and by all means, his rendition of the drug-addict, misguided popstar Tommy is as memorable and as stirring. He owns most of his scenes and the one where Tommy breaks into a song in the hospital is another distinct example of exudation of simple cinematic beauty I’m obsessing about. Kareena delivers her worth distinctly in her final scene, showing all what the experience of years culminates to. Diljit Dosanjh wears the skin of his character consistently throughout and lends the measured heroism that the character asks. Prabhjot Singh as the suffering image of Punjab’s youth, Balli strikes a heavy chord and shows a world of promise for the young actor.

Udta becomes the face of Bollywood that is gradually surfacing but is still suppressed. Such honesty of a topic delivered with such coherence and maturity is still rare. The fight with the CBFC was completely worth it. For once at least, cinema won over every reason, every effort to hide what unsettles. By it, Udta can claim its importance in shaping a small dawn of a larger change of India and her art, pending after every election, every corruption, every campaign, throughout the long years, since the lengthy echoes of the bells of Independence rung 68 years ago on a midnight, and the first reel that rolled in the hands of Dadasaheb Phalke a hundred and three calendars back. In a few minds, a few scenes and images simply stands.

Subham Basak

(June 28, 2016)

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Movie Review: Court(2014)- The ‘Drama-less’ Drama

This official Indian entry to the Oscars is bound to make you look at new-age Indian films in a different light. What can easily be regarded as the epitome of the new wheels that parallel Indian cinema is riding on, the Marathi movie ‘Court’ demands of you a mindset that trite Bollywood films do not have the slightest requirement for.

At the onset, it is necessary to mention that this movie does not have a conspicuous background music or a fashionable cinematography. Yet the movie manages to arrest your attention by the sheer power of simple dialogues and the remarkable patience in the natural depiction of scenes of life. Centered on the plight of the tution teacher-cum-folk singer Narayan Kamble (Vira Sathidar), the film seamlessly and significantly peeks into the lives of the two confronting lawyers and the judge (Pradeep Joshi) of the sessions court so as to draw the complete picture of their mentality, lifestyles and prejudices that have subtly played a hand in the case. The portrayal makes it indispensable to note how each of the given three, upon whom rests solely the conviction or acquittal of the prosecuted, takes the case as just another errand in their prosaic life, and tackles with professional indifference. Even the accused seems to have lost the urge and emotion of combat against injustice, and deals with his fate as unsurprisingly as he deals with his day-to-day life.

Here emerges the distinct microcosm of the lower-middle and middle class Indian Citizen as the helpless enduring puppets of the Indian Judiciary, whose resignation has inevitably taken the form of an inanimate acceptance. Herein lies the distinct irony of the lack of dramatics in the movie and its proven necessity. Herein gets scripted the victory of the adopted style of ‘naturalism’. The traits of resignation are best found in the eyes and mannerisms of the wife of the deceased man-hole worker, Vasudev Pawar, whose supposed suicide is alleged to be the result of Kamble’s abetment. She feared the harassment of the law more than she mourned the death of her husband, and had not the food in her stomach to afford the luxury of grief before she found work. That the lack of any protective equipment and poisonous man-hole gases caused the loss of an eye of late Vasudev, is turned a blinder eye by the judge and dismissed as assumptions immediately. The only one in the film not accustomed to the perennially prevailing prejudices governing justice is the young defending lawyer (Vivek Gomber) with hints of affluent upbringing.

I must mention my favourite scene where loyalists of a minority sect ‘Goyamari’ captures the lawyer outside a restaurant before his family and blackens his face for ‘insulting’ their practices before court. We only hear screams of his family and Goyamari slogans as the name of the restaurant “Chetana” (Conscience) is captured in the empty frame.

The irony heightens when after bailing out Kamble for lack of evidence, he is arrested again on grounds on sedition, an ill-defined crime that he again did not actually commit. He only sang his songs that he knew he was forbidden to.

The film is successful in its criticism of the Indian Judiciary and Indian Society, though the unabashed disregard for all usual rules of entertaining film-making might cause slight discomfort. It opens the Indian audience to the raw non-commercial style of cinema and earns the unforgettable niche of the true cinema-loving hearts. Since an art form must only be classified as good or bad, this piece would undoubtedly near the former.

Subham Basak

(May 10, 2016)

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Silenced and Apart

A Silence that was in between,
Was walls, was solid bricks keeping us apart,
In every which way,
Except vision.
And there I used to see you, I used to pack my heart with presents and set out.
My eyes would voyage through the silence and find you standing unawares. Uncaressed.
They used to find your heart hidden under the creases of down-turned eyes, and got used to waiting by your eyelashes.
The silence that kept very quiet. The silence that slept like a monster.
The silence that grained deep in the pauses when we spoke, and that never burst the tears in either of our eyes.
The silence that lacked the drama the eyes craved, my eyes. The silence that swallowed deep the smiles that spring promised.
It then, led us to the moment when we fell strong, and we felt the void tunnelled to the centre of two souls. Two imaginations. Two lives.

We fell strong. We fell like buildings cracking, collapsing in a quake.
Only there was no sound.

– Subham Basak

(March 30. 2016)

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