Monday, April 30, 2007


I have always found that the best movies, books and plays and the best moments in them are the ones with honesty in them. This does sound strange, but let me explain. I am not talking about intellectual honesty here; this has very little to do with originality in “creative” work. I am talking about how emotions are brought out on paper or caught on screen, and how stories unfold. The best example I can think of, is the climax to the movie Phone Booth. A central theme to the movie is honesty, so those who have watched and enjoyed this thriller may find it easier to appreciate what I am talking about. When Stu Shepard (brilliantly played by Colin Farell), held at sniper rifle-point, bares his soul for the world to see, it is a thing to behold. The movie shows how one must be pushed (though one need not necessarily be held at rifle-point – you could, for example, push yourself) to be truly honest. It’s not everyday that one gets to see a person being brutally honest about herself.*

There are occasions, of course, when we can be honest about others. Even that, is something really commendable because it is definitely a tougher option than to be silent when you would like to to point out something, or worse still, saying something you don’t mean at all, just to avoid possible unpleasantness. Recently, someone I worked with told me that I had a big ego, that I believed I was always right and refused to even consider the possibility that she could be right. I really loved the honesty with which she pointed out my shortcomings, but to my dismay, having done the favour to me, she immediately regretted what she had done and felt terrible about it. I did my best to assure her that I didn’t mind it a bit and that it wouldn’t affect our relationship at all. I also went on about how I really appreciated the virtue called honesty. Then, I touched upon how she should know better than to underestimate my thinking capacity and how I was smarter than to feel bad about it or hold it against her. It would only help me make myself a better person and friend, I told her in all earnestness. Recounting this makes me wonder… I really do have a big ego!

Coming back to honesty in movies, I remember this one scene in Dil Chahta Hai which my writer-director friend Harsh and I were talking about: Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) and Siddarth (Akshaye Khanna) having a laugh at the expense of Pooja’s (Sonali Kulkarni) boyfriend who presents her with a heart-shaped balloon everyday. The chatter and laughter in that scene is so believable, so real and so honest. Lakshya, another movie from Farhan Akhtar again has emotions which are very plain and honest. I really loved both these movies, as opposed to say, Fanaa. I pick out Fanaa from a million others, because it was such a huge disappointment for an Aamir Khan movie. The movie was so disjointed and lacking in logical continuity that it was a pain to watch. You have Rehan (Aamir Khan) returning to Zooni’s (Kajol) life, long after he’s believed to be dead and among the first things they do is sing a song about tongue twisters. I am amazed at the stupidity of script-writers and directors who come up with such nonsense. Equally amazing are audiences which applaud such rubbish. I agree that cinema is meant for relaxation. It can’t and shouldn’t be a reproduction of reality. But do you need to suspend all of your logic and common sense when you walk into the cinema hall?

Songs in movies are a great diversion, but as Kannada actor (of yesteryear) and director Aarti points out, it is simply ludicrous to see skimpily clad women dancing in the snow when the temperature is freezing or thereabouts. This painfully reminds me of “hit” Kannada movies over the last few years. While they may be really good technically, huge jumps from one scene to another defy all logic. The movies are just a lot of well-shot scenes put together with absolutely no regard for continuity. I have been so put off by the tripe on offer that whenever I hear of a revival in the Kannada movie industry, I am rather sceptical.

I am not that avid a movie-goer which is why some of my instances here may seem rather out-dated. But I do like good cinema. Honest cinema. And I would be happy if anyone could tell me whenever something like that comes out. I like to rely on word-of-mouth, because the “exploded” media today really lacks credibility. It lacks honesty.


* Note my deliberate use of the pronoun in feminine. It’s quite cool to do this, at least in academic circles! Those who want to do this have an easy option with Microsoft Word. Just remember to replace ‘he’ with ‘she’ and ‘him’ with her’ using Control + F. It works!!

Friday, April 6, 2007


I don’t quite remember what started me on this, but I have given it quite a bit of thought and time. To start with, an elderly gentleman told me that my posture was not quite right because I stooped too much. As a remedial measure, he suggested that I sleep without a pillow. I tried it but I would lie awake for hours before going to sleep, and when I woke up in the morning, I would usually find the pillow back under my head. I guess that in my sub-conscious I realised that sleeping without a pillow was very difficult for me and I would pick it up at some point of time in my wait to get to sleep. (In my niddegannu which is Kannada, literally meaning “sleep-eye” but actually signifying heavy drowsiness.)

I was intrigued by how difficult it was to get to sleep without a pillow at the head and googled pillows. I found that there are cushions and pillows of all shapes, sizes, designs and with wonderful sophisticated properties. But nowhere could I find anything to suggest that a pillow served any purpose. On the contrary, I came across many babas, quacks and the like suggesting that pillows were bad for various reasons. This convinced me that pillows serve no purpose at all and is just something we get into a habit of doing. Then, I found out that my brother had stopped using pillows, his reason being that he had only one pillow which he liked to hug. My new reason for attempting to kick this habit was loftier. I didn’t want to do something which I didn’t know the reason for. I determined to kick the habit and though initially, I would wake up to find a peculiar feeling in the head, I am now more comfortable sleeping without a pillow than with one.

Continuing on why people use pillows, I drew a blank while finding out the history of pillows as well. Google had no answers to when people started using pillows either. I drew on my own knowledge of history to recall the brilliant scene in the Mahabharata where Arjuna shoots a few arrows into the earth so as to make a suitable head rest for that great warrior Bhishma. But then again, he needed a head rest because he was on a bed of arrows and his head was hanging loose.

I decided to consult a professional, or at least one in the making, Nemesis currently on the brink of becoming a Doctor. I produce some edited excerpts from the conversation I had with the enlightened one:

Nemesis: You there?

Me: Hi.

Nemesis: Hey, how you are boy?

Me: Ok. What about you?

Nemesis: Yes, surviving and all.

Nemesis: There was something you wanted to ask me?

Me: Yes...

Me: What is the purpose of a pillow?

Nemesis: Er, is that a trick question?

Me: No... I want to know the answer… a scientific, medical answer if you have one...

Me: It's for my blog.

Me: My first entry will be on the purpose of pillows.

Me: As far as I can see, they serve no purpose.

Nemesis: Oops, nothing besides, for comfort.

Me: Is it really comfortable...?

Nemesis: No, I think they do.

Nemesis: Generally the pillow covers are made of an inferior quality compared to the linen.

Nemesis: So you can drool while you sleep on them without worries…

Me: Ha!

Nemesis: 2. You can block unnecessary noise.

Nemesis: 3. You can use that for homicide, like so many Hindi movies have shown.

Me: I don't think they are really comfortable... my theory is that people have just been using pillows for ages...

Me: I guess your other purposes make more sense.

Nemesis: 4. If you are suicidal, and want to stage your own death, nothing better at your disposal than a pillow and a serial killer.

Nemesis: 5. If you have a lover, pillow fights can be interesting, as documented in popular culture.

Nemesis: And now, I am thinking…

Me: :-?

Nemesis: I will put these up on my blog!

Nemesis: You know you are still the same old… Just look at our dialogue box: The ratio between our lines is some 1:10.


So, as you can read for yourself, all I got out of asking a professional on the purpose of pillows was:

1. Generally the pillow covers are made of an inferior quality compared to the linen. So you can drool while you sleep on them without worries.

2. You can block unnecessary noise.

3. You can use that for homicide, like so many Hindi movies have shown.

4. If you are suicidal, and want to stage your own death, nothing better at your disposal than a pillow and a serial killer.

5. If you have a lover, pillow fights can be interesting, as documented in popular culture.

And to top it all, a breach of professional ethics, considering that I had approached him in his professional capacity. He left me in no doubt that his blog readers would benefit by reading his discourse on my subject. Well, I forgive him. He hasn’t taken the Hippocratic oath yet, he was kind enough to say he would acknowledge that I introduced the thought to him and, I have made use of our conversation here, haven’t I?