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/

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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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Vacated

Man has always lived by emotions. To not emote was just another emotion. They change, men change. And we travel from one to another, in a day or in a less definite period like we travel from one room to another in a house. The mindscape readjusts some colours, and a new room houses us, lending our minds another form.

But just sometimes, we memorize a series of emotions to a set of stimuli in such a way that they become not rooms, but a house. Giving our beings as macroscopic shelter than microscopic shades. Give them long enough, it becomes who were are, and wandering through the city, we always remember the way back to our houses, houses that have now turned to homes.

And just rarely, sitting at a table, looking at a VDU, on just another of ordinary days, we are reminded of our old shelters. Who were we when we inhabited them? Who were we in its shelter? Who were we in a past we now have kept safe as a memory, guarding consciously against every tide of Time? And released by an unforeseen stimuli, the mind races back, leaping years and spaces and send us knocking at a door, a door that once belonged to our home. A old home. Deserted. Untouched. Unoccupied. And we beat on furiously at the door to set another foot, just another, in a place that was once ours. We beat on, and on and on. In pain, in vain. There’ll never be another response.

Where are you, My Love? How far?

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