Violets

                                                 Violets—

                                         how precious on
                                         a mountain path
                                 
                                   – Haiku by Matsuo Basho
*
The violets, the lovely peaceful charming quiet perfect violets, helped me see the path that I had covered, the mountainous journey suddenly filled me with warmth and glow and I blushed.
I know not what lies ahead, but I am sure to see some violets.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Coverage

[Image credit – Keith Ikeda Barry]

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.  

  Macbeth’s speech; By William Shakespeare

*

Signifying nothing, says Macbeth and says it passionately, firmly, with anger and despair. He knows his end is near. All the desires, great ambitions, strategies to win, greed to own it all, everything looks foolish now when he is facing his death.

Macbeth is helpless, he triggered this, he invited his doom and unable to believe it he cries out that, ‘it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’  

But it signifies everything, not only the perplexities, the complexities, the horror that the character faces, but also the routine dilemmas, confusions, ups and downs that any of us go through. And like Macbeth if we are in the wrong then we do strut and fret and also shout, ‘out, out brief candle’.  

The majority which is not as ambitious and as covetous as Macbeth, the majority that has tied itself down to the daily chores and their precious little things, little things that take big space in their hearts, they, my dear, commit follies differently, they strategise differently and thus, are fooled differently.  

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, it will signify the same when another Macbeth will take the centre stage.


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Satellite Constellations

Satellite Constellations.
[Image by Napoleon King from Pixabay.]

Look up Juniper, the sky is full of twinkling satellites. Bright, beaming and ever present, you do not have to chase the shooting star now. Just look up and the reflecting panel will bow down to you happily and fulfil your wish, before you can think of one. (9:15 PM)  

Did you not ask for high speed internet access? I know you did. We owe so much to these satellite constellations, our relationship is based on the true internet connectivity. Oh Juniper, you’re so far away and yet I feel you’re here with me. (9:25 PM)  

I mean the internet service provider, the company – True Internet Connectivity. (9:38 PM)  

Of course, what I said above about our relationship, I meant it symbolically too. (9:40 PM)  

Do reply when you get a chance. (10:40 PM)  

Shared a photo with you, is it not breathless? That is the nearest satellite constellation to my place. (11:47 PM)  

Nothing matches the real night sky. Bye! (2:08 AM)    


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Darling I am waiting at the Bosco Lane

The tavern was jam packed now and empty then, all too quickly for Rudolph to see the difference. He forgot if someone was waiting for him at home, if there was a home. A lane, called the Bosco Lane, troubled him a lot for he wanted to reach there, but failed to even stand up straight. Songs, laughter, shouts and madness carried on forever, when someone informed Rudolph about his old horse.
“To the Bosco Lane, charge, charge you old rat”, said Rudolph to the men who grabbed him and took him outside. The old horse was neighing and not enjoying the noise around him, he did not look happy. After tumbling thrice, Rudolph managed to grab the bridle, but failed to calm the horse.
What joy this sight brought to one and all present there. Passersby slowed down to take up notes and frown and shake their heads in disgust. Musicians added drama to the scene and Roxie started to dance.
Rudolph, suddenly feeling exhilarated, announced that he will charge towards the Bosco Lane and the crowd clapped, no one knew why.
Holding the bridle once again, he tried to climb the old horse and did so only after several attempts. The show was over and the crowd cheered and clapped when the old horse neighed loudly and threw Rudolph off its back. The amazed public started laughing seeing Rudolph lying flat on the muddy road and the old horse charging away, probably to the Bosco Lane.

In French

Cafe Paris
[Image from Pixabay]

The voice said something in French,

Why me, I thought, I am not French.

The music got loud, people started chit-chatting,

But only after listening to the voice’s French message.

Weirdly everyone stared at me and sipped,

Wine and coffee and wine and coffee.

I followed the voice on my orange moped,

Café to café, table to table, taking orders,

Confusing orders, for I did not understand

What the voice ordered in French.


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The Echo

Can it be that the echo listens and speaks at the same time? I wondered this and nothing more, sitting on a quiet cliff, knowing this and nothing more. The eagle soars against the wind, challenging it for fun, gushing now and then. The grass, the daffodils relished it all, the sun, the wind alike. And the clouds? I know not what the clouds said to the grass, the daffodils, for I was wondering about my response, the echo.

Make This Magic Potion Every Day

Cassy the Liberator is famous for hypnotizing, just look in her eyes and you will know. Read the post to know who she is.
Image from Pixabay.

Dear Clementine,  

Mix a bit of red liquid with blue one, it is on the upper left shelf and then add a bucket full of sparkly sparkle, glittery light kept in the three vessels under the oak table and add ‘skadoosh’ and ‘skadaash’, top desk drawer… oh just refer to my notes and diagrams and make this magic potion.  

Yes, no more questions, just experiment, what is stopping you?

Think about this powerful potion and say cheers. Ya-hoy!  

Remember what I told you about the letter I found… and a map… oh, no that was a game of knots and crosses… but the letter was from my grandmother, the great magician… she revealed a great secret to me, the recipe to make the ultimate elixir.  

Enough talking, mix it all and heat it up and then cool it down and leave it forever for a few minutes… I mean leave it with the “feeling” of leaving it forever in that pot.

FEELING, remember my dear Clementine, is very important. What you feel adds a different colour to every magic potion.  

Is it ready, is it ready? But how will I know? Write to me soon if you are successful in making this potion – Dynami Tou Parontos.

It is Greek for the ‘Power of Present’. Keep the ‘P’ in capital here. Jim, your uncle’s little brother, made this mistake, but forget that and remember to believe in this potion while preparing it. Hmm!  

Dynami Tou Parontos gives you the power to be fully present in the NOW, to see the bright light in its glory, to hear the quiet wind and feel the splendour of nature.

You feel not only powerful but also truly at peace. Your victory is guaranteed!

Whoever has used this magic potion, has won, even a drop of it leads to triumph.  

Remember this spell, Skadoosh and Skadaash.
Image from Pixabay.

Word of caution – the effort to make this potion should be honest or else the potion will not work.  

Oh, how glorious are the tales, this potion has supported many a warrior to fight the enemy and the self.

You know Cassy the Liberator, she had used and still uses this potion, it freed her and now she frees the others (but she charges way too much, you know).  

What is the mechanics, the science behind it? Good question, but I said no questions.

Oh, it is beautiful, being in the NOW awakens your soul, you connect with the Universe’s soul, boom, the Universe gifts you with tons of magical energy and boom you win the battle. Got the answer? Good, good.  

And yes, I almost forgot, burn this letter of mine and put its ash in the pot, this will help you straighten your thoughts while you prepare. How? I do not know, my grandmother asked me to do the same.  

Good girl mix, mix, mix, stir, stir, stir, heat it, cool it down.

And of course, take a sip then. Duh!  

Waving my hat,

Magic Ciao!

CJ Star  

My bottle of magic potion, only for 500$. (Buy from me, Cassy the liberator will charge you double.)
Image from Pixabay.

P.S – Clementine, tell Mrs Curry to return my trunk, my books and Mr Rocky to return my pickle jar.

P.P.S – Make this magic potion, every day.  


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Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam – A tale of role-reversals and downfalls

Film Analysis

The beautiful Meena Kumari as Choti Bahu (Bibi). [Source – bollywoodirect.com]

In the game of cards, the roles of a King, Queen and Jack are determined, but in the real-life nothing is certain, in the real-life the roles often interchange, a King becomes a salve, a Queen a maid and a Jack a conqueror. Bimal Mitra’s Bengali novel, Saheb Bibi Golam (1952), narrates one such tale of a bygone era of flourishing feudalism that ultimately saw its ashen downfall.

The Hindi film Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (1962), keeping the spirit of the novel alive, enriches its impact through the well-knitted, tight screenplay, realistic yet charismatic direction and spellbinding performances.


Adaptation

Literary adaptation to any other medium always changes the story; it inevitably enhances an aspect of it and ignores the other. The audio-visual medium of cinema chooses the part that ‘shows the story’ rather than that which ‘tells the story’. This film has very beautifully matched the tonality of a novel; scenes, transitions, songs and dialogues all combine to give it a mystical forgotten tale-like feel.

Let us see how the first scene is structured in the film:-

The first scene begins with someone flipping through the pages of Bimal Mitra’s novel that fuses into the image of a huge mansion that is now lying in a complete state of ruin; labourers are digging and clearing the place, pulling down the giant pillars; labourers who were once not allowed to enter the royal mansion are now seen shovelling its remains.

Then enters the Ghulam in suit-boot, grey haired and gazes at the ruin that was once a palace, a symbol of rich feudal lords; he does not need to say anything to the audience, his demeanour and troubled look reveal enough, there is a mystery and he is the only one who can narrate it. This is how the film begins, with a long flashback.

Just like a page-turner novel, the film hooks its audience right from the beginning. We know now that the Ghulam survived the downfall, but what about the Sahib and Bibi.


Plot & Characters

The Ghulam

Atulya Chakraborty aka Bhootnath, played by Guru Dutt, comes to the city of Calcutta, looking for a job. The protagonist is as ignorant as the audience about the drama that is yet to unfold and thus, is the best character to relate with.

Bhootnath’s brother-in-law, a teacher who lives in the quarters of the grand mansion, warns him to ignore the ‘bade log’ (big people) just as they ignore all their petty lodgers.

He gets a job in a factory that produces Mohini Sindhoor – vermilion that is supposed to have aphrodisiac properties. The factory owner’s daughter, Jaba, astounds him with her wit and Brahmo Samaji attitude.

Fantastically, the plot and the main character together move this story forward. Bhootnath’s love story begins when he meets Jaba and parallelly the plot reveals the glittering feudal world, seen through Bhootnath’s eyes, building a mysterious charm capturing both his and the audience’s attention – one night, when he hears a painful voice singing about her misfortunes, he wonders about her, who is she? Who is Choti Bahu?

Bibi

The great Meena Kumari played the role of Choti Bahu, the unlucky wife of the younger brother of the two Zamindars. The fact that she is called Choti Bahu by one and all, that no one, not even her husband, calls her by her first name, suggests a lot about her character. She is truly beautiful, elegant, a devoted wife, the youngest daughter-in-law in the family and this is her job.

It is expected from her that she will forever maintain this status and not complaint in any way. After all what is there to complain about? She has everything – silk saris, jewelry, servants and a palace to call her home. That is why when she requests her beloved husband to stay back for one night instead of visiting his mistress, the husband is shocked and reminds her that he is a feudal lord and this is not only his right, but this is how he can earn a good reputation amongst other lords, he even asks her what sort of a lord spends nights with his wife.

Choti Bahu meets Bhootnath and asks for his help; she wants him to get her a packet of Mohini Sindoor so that she can win her husband’s love back and to do it secretly because women of her status does not approve of such methods. At first Bhootnath is struck by Choti Bahu’s beauty, he stares at her speechless, only later to feel pity for her, struck by her helplessness.

As the story unfolds we see how tragic a life Choti Bahu is living, like a bird in the cage. This character is very well crafted. Choti Bahu’s predicament sheds light on the hidden and ugly aspect of not only the society, the women folk, but also the individual.

When Choti Bahu is nearing her end Bhootnath tries to stop her from drinking, he even holds her hand, taken aback by his guts, she says, ‘Main Choti Bahu hun’ (I am Choti Bahu), reminding him his place that of a ghulam. This scene also highlights how an individual creates an identity and then clings to it forever; whoever then challenges her/his identity becomes her/his enemy.

Everyone is a foe for Choti Bahu, everyone who does not understand how dedicated she is, how selfless she is. Though drinking starts to kill her, she, in a troubled and an incomplete way, stays happy thinking that she is following her husband’s order and thus, fulfilling the duty of a loyal wife.

Meena Kumari’s acting heightens the dramatic impact of each scene and every dialogue. The song ‘Na jao saiyan chuda k bainya, kasam tumhari main ro padungi… ro pdungi’ has become eponymous to her. After her track begins, all the scenes are more or less about her. Bhootnath worries for her, Jaba is jealous of her without even having an encounter with her and her husband, indifferent to Choti Bahu throughout, digs his and her grave foolishly with his own hands.

Sahib

Chhote Babu, played by Rehman and Majhle Babu, played by D.K. Sapru are the Zamindar brothers who stay busy in their own silly world – one busy attending the dancer’s performance every night and the other busy either enjoying his royal cat’s wedding or pumping up for a pigeon war with his neighbouring counterpart. Blinded by excess of everything both the brothers bring their own downfall.

Majhle Babu assuming that Choti Bahu and Bhootnath are having an affair takes a reckless step; he gets Bhootnath beaten up and abducts Choti Bahu, murdering her in the end. But it is not Majhle Babu’s arrogance or the social dogma alone that killed Choti Bahu, it is her husband’s doing as well.

It is Chote Babu who made his wife addicted to alcohol, not only by asking her to be like his dancer mistress, but also by not giving her the respect and love a wife deserves. By the time he accepts his fault, he is bed ridden and it is all too late. His misery ends with his death.

The portrayal of the Sahibs of this era facing the collapse of the Zamindari system is written and directed wonderfully in the film. The two brothers come across as truly pitiful characters.


Ending

The flashback gets over and Bhootnath is informed by one of the labourers that they have found a grave on the site. He rushes to the spot only to be completely shocked to see Choti Bahu’s gold bangles on the skeleton; he remembers what she had told him, that when she dies, she should be decked up properly, with vermillion in her head, so that everyone can say that ‘Sati Laxmi’ passed away. Imagining the beautiful Choti Bahu, Bhootnath with a heavy heart steps back from the site; he sits in the carriage next to his wife Jaba and leaves the place.

The ending surprises the audience once again; that Choti Bahu was murdered and buried in the mansion itself is not something that Bhootnath or the viewer would have expected. It also closes two chapters – one of Choti Bahu’s disappearance and the second, of Jaba and Bhootnath’s relationship. They both are shown as a married couple, contrary to the novel’s ending.


Conclusion

Sahib, Biwi aur Ghulam is an amazing adaption; it does justice to both the medium of the novel and cinema. Chosen as India’s official entry to the Oscars, it was soon rejected by the academy stating that they sternly forbid showing alcoholic women in their culture.

The concept, quite bold for that period, is actually much deeper than the mere portrayal of a woman as an alcoholic. It has captured that moment in time where the powerful and rich were falling down and the servants were free to do as they wished. It is striking that the suffering labour-class where equally surprised by this change as they too had adjusted well to the feudal system. Bansi, Chote Babu’s personal attendant, jobless after his master’s death, tells Bhootnath that he has started working in the train station and that no one lives in the mansion anymore.

Therefore, the film is not only an interesting watch to study its screenplay, but also for those who wish to write/ make an adaptation, those who wish to study how both plot and characters can drive the story forward and how an individual fits in the larger scheme of things.

In the game of cards and in the real life, every Sahib, Biwi and Ghulam can overthrow the other and win; it is all a matter of time.


[Originally written for the Screenwriters Association (SWA), you can check the same here.]


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Another Moment

What this moment has to say is the truth…
Image from Pixabay.

In this moment, I am a little bit of this and a little bit of that, I am complete and incomplete, I am pleased and uncertain, I wish for nothing and I know I have to wait.  

Because the distance covered reminds me of the hurdles I have crossed and the ones I could not, it reminds me of a throbbing past and a dreamy future and it reminds me of how much time is left.

Riddling the riddle, puzzling the puzzle, I walk ahead.  

The memories made, the dreams fulfilled and the forgotten ones merge to make me smile, to make me cry. The voices locked in the chamber of my heart can sing, it can make me time travel.  

The visions are laced with hopes and surprises and successes and miracles… is it not magical enough?

Promises are magical too, especially if fulfilled.  

And in this moment, I wonder how did it begin, how will it end, how much have I understood and how much have I measured, how to define and how to let go.

What this moment has to say is the truth… the truth that quietly then slips away into another moment.

*


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And Fight

Bloody battlefields and
Dead mechanical hands
Spooky confused eyes
Looking up at the skies
Dark, darker, darkest
The cloud that was the closest
Or was it the smoke
Lurking to choke
All of us
All of us
But when in the centre
People chasing a venture
To protect and run
Till someone has won
If not holding the flambeau
You will file in a row
And when you see the enemy
You will be the first in many
Just like me, to shoot down
The enemy’s plane
And fight
And fight