Friday, June 10, 2005

Let me be inspired.

There is a thin line between inspiration and blatant copying. A thin, but a definite line. Unfortunately the ailment of copying afflicts many of our ilk (artists in general). We have innumerable such instances in our very own bollywood where music directors, film makers shamelessly rip-off compositions, stories from the rest of the world, in particular hollywood and pass off as their own.

Fortunately there are some self-respecting individuals who go an extra mile to create something 'original'. I do not understand this psyche though, the need to copy something and call it your own. How can one feel proud of something that is not their creation, it just takes a little more feeling and thinking to create something that is entirely yours. Something that you can take pride in.

Having said that, one needs to point out the fact that no artistic creation is hundred percent original. The human mind is such that it soaks-in everything that it is surrounded with, like a sponge, especially a creative mind. Everyday life, your surroundings, the strangers you meet or pass by, the tiny glimpses into someone else's life and everything else that happens around you, to you or someone else is enough to draw creative inspiration from. Life and nature is so dynamic that one can never run out of ideas. So when an actor emotes, or a painter gives life to the canvas, it most likely is a trickle from the sponge that has soaked-in so much. It's an amalgamation of the experiences, observations, feelings that lie there in their minds. Some obvious and some that they are oblivious to.

I can spend hours in book shops looking at design books. The human mind and it's capacity to create amazes me! To think that at any given point innumerable minds are coming up with innumerable ideas substantiates the magnificence of the human mind.

My ChungKing Express DVD has an introduction and wrap-up by Quentin Tarantino (it was released by his Rolling Thunder pictures in the US). Amongst other things, Tarantino talks about the common influences that he shares with WongKarWai in movie making. One of the things that he says and that i remember is that, one doesn't necessarily need to learn the art of filmmaking formally to make good films. One just needs to love the art. And this holds true for any creative field. One just needs to have that love and passion to run that extra mile. Our very own RGV is a fine example. He never learnt filmmaking anywhere. He just loved the movies and is one of the very few filmmakers who push the envelope and give bollywood it's share of good, popular cinema.

In my spare time (and i have had lots of it for sometime), i love browsing through websites. It is truly joyous to see such good work around you. Work that stimulates your mind and you don't feel dead anymore. I find myself both humbled and inspired at the same time.

I shall be posting links to some nice and some weird websites that i come across. Let me start with these two:

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

random comforts.

in no particular order.

a nice cozy home. not too big. not too small.

a regular job. money in the bank. maybe even a five-year plan.

comfortable bed. couches. soft pillows. cushions. bolsters.

old clothes. because they are soft. because you get attached to some of them.

old photographs. because that's all that you are left with.

books. book shelves. book shops. design books.

music. collections. movies. that you can watch again and again.

clean bathroom. long showers. soft towels. scented candles. wind chimes.

laptop. internet connection. emails. i check them everyday. yahoo and msn IM. that's what i shout on when i am about to crumble.

paint brushes. colours. imagination. ability to create and design. i wouldn't know what else to do.

day dreaming. that's all that i do.

rooftops where you can lie awake and stare at the starlit night sky. straight in the eye.

coffee and cafes that you can sit and read in and while away time. windows that you look out of when it rains.

palm trees. i like it when the leaves rustle.

wine. good food. canned food for when you are tired. soyabean milk. it's light and good for health.

a few good friends. who you can speak to without being judged. a few good friends. who you don't judge.

personal space. and someone special to invade it.

the words 'our' and 'us'. not me and you. not mine and yours.

appreciation. affection. tender words. 'I am sorry' after harsh words.

relationships that you can take for granted. people who don't leave you. no matter what. people who you won't leave. no matter what.

a partner to snuggle up to each morning. who understands you. or at least tries to. that in itself is enough.

peace. security. stability. erratic rollercoaster is painful. not joyous.

i was once asked by someone what was more important. happiness or love? i did not have an answer. in my mind i thought it was love. but i don't know anymore. perhaps it's more important to be happy. if love comes your way then you have hit the jackpot. if not at least you are happy with yourself. with whatever you have. even if that's all that you have. yourself.

Monday, June 6, 2005

Need some 'sound' advice!

Okay, can someone help me out with this. I uploaded this song 'Dilse Re' on my soundblox, but its not playing! I dont know why. On my soundblox it gives an error message:

*Data conversion error: iv exception: Invalid MP3 - only MPEG audio Layer 3 supported.*

But i can play it on winamp. The info for this song on winamp says:

Size: 6424816 bytes
Header found at: 1879 bytes
Length: 402 seconds
MPEG 1.0 layer 3
128kbit, 15429 frames
44100Hz Stereo

(Now if i understand right, this says that it's an MPEG layer 3 file, right? Then why isn't it playing?)

On the Lazslo website, under MP3 encoding limitations, it says :

To play properly over the Web, MP3 audio files for SoundBlox must be encoded at a fixed bit rate of 160 kbps or lower, and at a sample rate of 11025 hz, 22050 hz or 44100 hz. Lower bit and sample rates will yield substantially smaller file sizes and improve Web playback performance. Some users report best Internet playback for music at 64kbps.

Can someone throw some light on this? It'll also help me understand sound better :-)



Added three new songs:

Kandisa by Indian Ocean: This is an awesome number by Indian Ocean. Kandisa means 'praise'. It's based on a Syrian Catholic hym in the ancient language of Aramaic. Very earthy and soulful. The blending of the Aramaic hyms and hindustaani classical vocals is flawless and amazing. Listen to it with your eyes closed! :-)

Tanha Dil by Shaan: This is one of the rare nice pop numbers churned out of the non-bollywood music scene in india.

Phir Dhoom by Euphoria: When Euphoria first burst into the music scene with Dhoom Pichuk, everyone took notice of them. Dhoom Pichuk was a major hit owing to its fresh, folk sounds.When i was in HT back in Delhi, Palash Sen, the lead singer, visited our office for one of those celebrity chat events. And we let him go only after he had sung a few lines of Maeri, if i am not wrong. And boy can he sing! He has an amazing voice. This one is from their album, Phir Dhoom.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

ChungKing Express

I love movies and music as many of you can tell by now. I watch almost all kinds of movies and i listen to all kind of music. Language or preconcieved notions have never kept me away from my periodic food for soul indulgence. I watch action, comedies, thrillers and horrors (which is the least preferred genre and is always watched with a magazine in front - to hide behind.)

But what i love the most are movies that speak the language of romance, i am a sucker for romantic movies. Having said that there are very few movies that are truly romantic. I am not talking about the mushy - soppy romantic sagas with tonnes of glycerine thrown-in, or the girl and boy love each other and sprint through a hurdle race to happily ever after, or the teen-angst movies with jealous boyfriends and girlfirends. I am talking about romance that leaves you breathless and lighthearted, that leaves you with an indescribable feeling, with butterflies in your stomach and sometimes a dull ache in your heart. I am talking of something that is both innocent and seductive and you can't stop smiling long after the movie has finished. There are very few movies like that.

Chungking Express is one of them. I felt this light-hearted and in-love in a non-soppy way when i watched Amelie. Now these two films are different, very different but very similar in the way they leave you feeling long after the show is over.

ChungKing Express is the story of four very different characters and their parallel running love stories. The first story is that of Cop 223, He Qiwu (Takeshi Kaneshiro - eye candy for women). He is a plainclothes policeman who pines for an ex-girlfriend, May - who left him after 5yrs of being together. They broke off on 1st April, so he decides to let the joke run for a month untill 1st May when he turns 25. Untill then he buys a can of pineapple with a 1st May expiry date. Everyday. May likes pineapples. On 1st May, 223 comes to terms with the fact that May is not coming back and finishes off the pineapples. All 30 cans of them. He then decides to fall in love with the first woman he sets his eyes on. His ice-breaker line is "do you like pineapples?" asked in four different languages. Now this woman turns out to be one mysterious woman (played by Brigitte Lin). So mysterious that we are never told her name and never get to see her eyes. She is always in a raincoat, sunglasses and a blonde wig. She is one tough cookie who rules over the seedy corridors of ChungKing Mansions, full of south asian men and is into smuggling of drugs and the likes. She carries a gun and shoots at the drop of hat. Needless to say, this match does not work, it's not even a match. But this mysterious woman leaves 223 with a memory that will last him a lifetime. He ends up reflecting, if memories had an expiry date he would wish for them to last for centuries.

The second story is that of uniformed Cop 663 (Tony Leung - an awesome actor!). He, like 223 is yet to get over an ex. An airhostess, who leaves him with a letter that says change of flight and a boarding pass with cancelled stamped on it. Along with his house keys. When he is home alone, he speaks to the soft toys, the tattered rag, the bar of soap, her air-hostess uniform. He talks to them. He is still trying to get over her. And while he is getting over her, Faye (Faye Wong - an amazing debut) falls for him - silently. Faye works at the snack bar Midnight Express (which is the common factor linking the characters 223 and 663, both frequent this place). She is a dreamer, who dreams of going to California and listens to 'California Dreaming'. Loud. Because it helps her not think. But 663 doesn't notice any of this. He doesn't notice anything when she quietly enters his life and his home. She cleans his house, changes his bar of soap, buys new shirts, new slippers for him, gets him new rags, goldfish, looks for long strands of hair on his bed...she does all this everyday without his knowledge. He can feel that his life is changing but he doesn't know why and how. There is something incredibly romantic and lovely about this bit and i totally fell in love with how Faye takes over his life without his knowledge! You see she does all this for she is in love with him, in her own way. Acknowledgement doesn't matter to her.

Like all WongKarWai movies, this one has a very definite character and mood. The camera and the movie moves at a feverish pace. It's restless and impatient, much like HongKong. It takes you on a race at an exciting pace and you are left intoxicated. The visuals are stunning as well. The dingy, cramped up holes of ChungKing Mansions, the lanes bylanes of Central and Lan Kwai Fong couldn't have been captured better. You get to see HongKong from some very interesting angles and always with an inherent dynamism.

Despite being a romantic movie with only four main characters and two parallel running love stories, this is not a simple movie. The genius of WongKarWai lies in how he narrates the story. At first it seems simple. When you watch it the second time, you start noticing things. It's the subtlety that steals the show. I like the way he subtely introduces the characters of the second story while the first is still running. We see a glimpse of each of the characters from the second story, the airhostess, Faye, 663 while we are still with He Qiwu and his heartache. Or for that matter the themes of Canned food, Expiry dates and Boarding Passes that run throughout the movie. It's far more intricate and deceptive than it seems and therein lies the beauty of this movie. It's like one of those mosaic floors of old mansions where you would find something new everytime you had a look...something subtle and hidden, but something that makes the mosaic so much more interesting, everytime you discover it.

As i sip my wine and write this while listening to Faye Wong's take on Dreams, i still have that feeling in my stomach and i want to move the way Faye does on 'California Dreaming'. And i realise whatever i have written here can never do justice to the beauty of this movie.

Friday, June 3, 2005

I am a happy bunny and so we have some new songs!

Timid and attractive, the Rabbits of the Chinese Zodiac tend to act more like bunnies, whether they like it or not! This Sign is extremely popular and has a wide circle of family and friends. Its compassionate nature leads it to be very protective of those it holds dear, but where romance is concerned, the Rabbit's sentimentality can lead it to idealize relationships. The sweet, sensitive Rabbit often ends up giving more of itself to a partner than is realistic or healthy. The good news is, when this Sign goes off-balance, the Rabbit's core group of friends and its stable home life help bring it back to center.
The Rabbit is a rather delicate Sign that needs a solid base in order to thrive. Lacking close, supportive friends and family, the Rabbit might just break down in tears at the first sign of conflict. Emotional upsets in this Sign's life can even lead to physical illnesses. Rabbits dislike arguments and other conflict and will try anything to avoid a fight; this results in something of a pushover nature. Rabbits can also lapse into pessimism and may seem stuck in life -- often to mask their insecure natures. Rabbits tend to move through life's lessons at their own, rather contemplative pace; it's a waste of time to become exasperated with this Sign's seeming disinterest in facing its problems and conquering them.
With the right partner -- meaning someone whose high principles won't allow it to take advantage of this sensitive, giving Sign -- the Rabbit can make an incredibly loving and protective partner or family member. Rabbits love to entertain at home and always make sure their house is comfortable and tastefully-furnished. What Rabbits need most is a stronger sense of self-worth and the security that comes with it. Their discerning natures, coupled with some hard-won assertiveness, will help these happy creatures go far.

The most compatible match for a Rabbit is the
Goat or the Pig.

Which one are you?


My soundblox is back in action. I am happy! :-)

Have posted a few new songs. Assorted.

Mong Zhong Ren by Faye Wong :
This is a cantonese number from the Wong Kar Wai movie ChungKing Express. I need to write a post on this movie ! It's a lovely still under it's spell. It's basically the Cantonese version of Dreams by Cranberries.

Mong = Dream, Zhong = Inside, Ren = Person. Person in your Dream :-)

Rest of them are hindi numbers:
Lamhe DJ mix (yes i listen to these as well :D), Yaaron by Kay Kay (i love this one), Nahin Saamne Tu by AR Rahman from the movie Taal (i love this one too), Dilse Re from Dilse, Bulla ki Jaana Main Kaun by Rabbi.

Enjoy! :-)

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Of tiny little toes and fingers

I was out grocery shopping today when i saw this man with a baby. Nothing exceptional about it, except that this man was a heavy built, bald headed guy with both his arms covered with tattoos. While this baby like all babies looked extremely sweet and innocent. The visual contrast was just too amazing!

I have often wondered what kind of mother will i make, that is if i ever become one in the first place. I am not particularly the motherly kind and somehow i have never visualised myself as a mother, i don't know why. Maybe it's the rebellious streak in me which abhors the general notion that fulfillment as a woman and motherhood are tied together. I sometimes feel like comforting women who are unhappy at not being mothers. I know i can perhaps never understand their pain, but i feel like telling them that's not all that makes a woman complete. That's not the end of the world. There are so many other ways to feel complete, its more important to feel complete as a person without the tags of motherhood, daughterhood, sisterhood or wifehood attached to us. Many a times, motherhood is a pressure thrust upon women by the society. Especially a society like ours. It's seen as a natural progression to marriage. And i detest this attitude! I can be happy without being a mother. I certainly will not have a child because everyone else expects that from me, or to save my relationship or for that matter bind my partner to me. My reasons for giving birth will be very different from these. Then again that's the rebellious in me speaking.

But the strange thing is, i get along really well with babies. Most of them take an instant liking to me. I guess i come across as very non-threatening! Stranger still, I have been told that i will make a good mother. Possibly because i have a lot of patience. I am not sure what that means though - being a good mother. Or what all being a good mother entails. But what i love most about babies, is knitting cute little booties, caps, ponchos for them. All the babies in the family and of friends have had one of those from me. I totally love that. And this is perhaps the closest i have come to the conventional notions of motherhood!

And then i think what if i actually end up being a mother. What would i want, a boy or a girl? I guess i would want a boy first. A skinny little boy with sparkling eyes and tons of energy! A son for the dad. To bond as men. On shaving techniques, beer binges, girls, what's cool and what's not and all other guy things. Things that i don't even know about.

Then i would want a girl for myself :-) And she will be my friend. We will bond like only women can. I'll start her with fairy tales and move on to good literature as she grows up. But somewhere in between i'll give her 'Mills & Boons' to read. Call me shallow if you want, but romance is the life blood. I'll tell her about the birds and the bees. We'll talk about men and boyfriends, just as the son and dad will talk about girls and more girls. I'll tell her all about my crushes and my heartbreaks. We'll talk fashion, art, movies, music, what's hot and what's not...everything under the sun. But most of all, i will ask her to be herself, believe in herself. I will tell her there's nothing more attractive than confidence and nothing more beautiful than compassion.

And in the midst of all this i will teach them the importance of hard work and money. That things don't come easy in life. That you have to work hard and earn everything and then work hard to maintain everything. I will never stop them from dreaming. Never ask them to paint the apple red...they can paint it anything they like. It's their dream, their apple. All this is easier said than done, and maybe too idealistic and simplified...but this is how i feel at this point. Honestly.

Somewhere down the line we will falter, make huge mistakes only to get up and start again like we do with everything else in life. I am also aware that they will eventually drift away, find their own place in this world. And i will not stop them, for i have done the same. Besides this is one relationship you can never float too far away from. I don't know how good a mother i will be. I will start as a friend...