Sunday, August 30, 2009

Of Femme Fatales...

Till the Film course happened to me, I watched Film Noir just the way i watched any other film-without analysing, taking in whatever flickered on the screen before my eyes.
So we were made to watch Double Indemnity, directed by Billy Wilder, on Saturday.Apart from studying the specific features of Film Noir in it, it was also interesting to note the fully loaded wordplay that couldnt afford to use frank sexuality owing to the regulations imposed by the Department of War Information that was operational in 1944,when the film was released.
The most interesting aspect of this film, and any Film Noir for that matter, is the way the two sexes are constructed. The woman is ofcourse the Femme Fatale (played by Barbara Stanwyck)who is the bad girl, carefully constructed with the physical pointers of the Gun, the Lipstick and the Cigarette.She is the amoral woman,bordering on immorality who decides to kill her indifferent husband after suffering years of a boring marriage.
The man (played by Fred MacMurray) belongs to an equally ambiguous moral standing as the woman.He kills for money (under the garb of love)after cold bloodedly chalking out each minute detail,has a torrid affair with a married woman,cheats on her by being extremely close to her step daughter and misuses the trust his colleagues lay on him. Infact,it is him who introduces the idea of murder into the woman's head.
But the script provides a neat portion to the man which he uses to confess his murder that helps him "redeem" himself in the eyes of God and the audience and brings him back to the position of the Good Christian man that every hero is meant to be. Playing along with the concept of poetic justice,he dies at the end of the film but not without gaining the sympathy of the audience.
The woman,on the other hand, is shot by the man shortly after she cant bring herself to shoot him. It is interesting to note that moments before her death, she was bordering on the realms of amorality and was threateningly close to the realm of morality as she began to talk of how her heart didnt allow her to fire the bullet at him, before being silenced by the bullet he fires.
What I find problematic is how he is allowed a chance to "redeem" himself and she is killed just when there was a possibility of a similar "redemption" for her.I do not say that she would have actually spouted words of love that would pull her back to being a Good Christian woman, but the problem is that the script didnt give her that chance.
In the narrative of the man who makes sure he is "redeemed" at the end, we do not come to know of what the woman would have done had there been a similar scope for her,and all we end up with,is a series of "What If"s in our heads.

P.S: the opinions expressed are totally personal and i do not mean to push them down anyone's throat.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Uchhala Jaladhi Taranga.

I guess blogging on an impulse has become a habit these days. This blog post is not a post that was supposed to be up five days back because the thought behind it is something that just struck me while i sat wasting time on youtube.
I realised that the lyrics to our national anthem are just too beautiful for words.I guess we never really try looking for what the words really mean, even after years of standing in the sun in assembly lines and singing the in and day out.
I really dont want to get into the entire issue about Tagore actually composing the anthem to welcome some British king.But I want to point out how our national anthem does not praise a particular ruler, a la "God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!" or, even for that matter, the motherland. What it does instead, is to herald the minds of the people of India as the arbiter of India's destiny.( "Janagan" meaning "people", "Man" meaning "mind", "Bharata Bhagya Vidhata" meaning "arbiter of Bharat's destiny")
Can any truth get stronger than this? Doesnt the future of any country depend on the way its people think,plan and decide? The country, interestingly, has been described as the ruler of all the people's minds (Janagan Man Adhinayak) and not something like the "land of the free and the home of the brave".
Most importantly, it is set to a tune that can be sung by even the most musically challenged person unlike other anthems like "Amar shonar bangla" which is set to a very convoluted musical structure.
I dont even know why i got into this...not like i am on a patriotic overdrive or anything. Just got struck by the beauty of the lyrics and tried making sense of it by myself. Having done that,i now realise how the singing of "Ujjala Jaladhi Taranga" by ignorant,impatient schoolgirls standing in the sun, makes a huge difference to meaning of the anthem that goes "Uchhala Jaladhi Taranga"...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I dont know why i feel like writing about rains today...perhaps because delhi needs them badly or maybe because i have been feeling very suffocated-just the way one feels when rain clouds hover all around but dont rain.
Rains remind me of just too many things-especially that scene from Dil Se where Shahrukh walks into this station on a rainy night-sipping tea under dripping tea stall roofs and Manisha Koirala crouching under a sheet of tarpaulin. Also ofcourse, the black umbrella and a very wet Nargis come to mind as she lipsyncs to "kehta hai dil rasta mushkil...malum nahi hai kaha manzil"
I remember getting wet in that thin school uniform of ours and then waiting for everything to dry, so that i could come back home. Rains are supremely romantic for me and most of my deepest desires revolve around rainy afternoons. It's weird because rains supposedly bring in the dirtiest times in India-potholes,mud,traffic jams. But isnt love like that too? Doesnt love lie in its own imperfections?

OK,this sure was random.