Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On Death

There are songs that I often hear before I go to sleep. There is a fixed set that I must hear before I finally begin to drift off into the deeper recesses. A time soon comes when I realize that the song in my ear is beginning to blend and bleed into the random impulses that my sub-conscious brain throws up. When my sleep begins with such noisy delirium, the chaos of unintelligible thoughts slowly fading into blankness, I find myself to have slept the best. Death, in a certain sense. Except that, in this case, I have the benefit of hindsight that inspires faith in the fact that I'll wake up the next morning.

On death, then. I can instantly recall three songs from the set that I just described that, for one reason or another, almost make you feel like you'll never return from the chaos ridden oblivion. There is Like a Stone by Audioslave for starters, then there are Amsterdam by Coldplay, and My December by Linkin Park. Like a Stone is a song about an old man whose kin have passed on, and he waits for his release, recounting his life. Therefore, the obvious association with death. The other two songs have their own unique reasons why I associate them as I do.

Last night as I cycled through Amsterdam one last time, I began to 'develop new perspective' as I later put across to a friend of mine. I began to wonder (as may have many of my contemporaries and predecessors) what a person might feel moments before death. To which, I found myself realizing that a person who has lived a life without regret, and awakens to this fact moments before they die, might in fact be experiencing, rather ironically, the most liberating moment of their life.

If there might be a day, when morning doesn't arrive, prepare for your liberation everyday. You wouldn't want to miss what might be the most amazing moment of your life.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Chicken Soup for the Cold

I have been spending a lot of time at home this last week, for reasons inescapable. Status quo is such that I'm unable to do much with 24 hours of free time I get everyday. There is the net, and then there is the idiot box. But when you've been home doing practically nothing for so long, there are many things that you tire of fairly easily. Then there are days like today, when one would find oneself in front of the telly, bored-ly flipping channels. Now, that sounds like every other day. What was different about today is that I chanced upon an old favourite movie of mine : Disco Dancer. Back in the day, when cable tv was an unnecessary luxury, India's government broadcaster Doordarshan took upon itself, the onus of entertaining large sections of the Indian population. As part of the entertainment section of its endeavour, it began to screen movies on Saturday afternoons (a holiday in most schools). Days when we were lucky, they would screen 'new' movies (released between 10 and 20 years from the screening date). Other days, well, you would have to squint at the Technicolor images flashing on your screen and strain your ears to hear the dialogues. Anyhow, it was amongst a series of these lucky days that sprouted in me, a love for Mithun Chakravarty movies as a kid (other favourites include classics such as Gunmaster G9). They were flashy, loud, and amazingly entertaining. As I grew up, this love got obscured by the pretentions that accompany the process of social growth and adaptation.

More about Disco Dancer then, sans pretentions. Jimmy, the protagonist, is left to rot on the streets by the villain. Jimmy somehow manages to grow up and become a "Disco Dancer". Who is a "Disco Dancer"? The answer is complex. A disco dancer must be an accomplished dancer (but obvious), a singer (aha), and (this is the funky bit) be able to play instruments like the guitar and saxophone simply by holding them and dancing with them. He is usually accompanied by four or five blokes who do pretty much what he does, but are too ugly to be classified as "Disco Dancers". Also on the lot, are a bunch of rather well fed ladies, who would be better advised than to wear the black boyshorts they wear in this movie. That said, the music is definitely (as is a lot Bappi Lahiri music) well ahead of its time.

Anyway, Jimmy then manages to rob the villain of all his money, pride and even his daughter with not much more than his sublime pelvic jerks. Infuriated, the villain and his sidekick (a very bald Bob Christo) hatch the plot of the century to kill Jimmy. The plan, in Bob Christo's words (remembering that he is a Hindi speaking British sidekick):

"Kal ki party mein Jimmy ko log electric guitar bajane ko bolega. Hum us electric guitar ke string mein 5000 volt ka electricity bhejega. Jab hamara dushman electric guitar ko haath lagayega, woh ud jayega. Pop!"

Do they manage to kill Jimmy? Or does fate have its own cruel plan up its sleeve?