Friday, July 13, 2007

Buddha in a Strange Land

I entered my guesthouse yesterday to find a very interesting elderly gentlman seated there. He sat there intensely absorbed in a Dharmendra-Aditya Pancholi type starrer. Evidently, from some Uttranchal village (he was clad in a khadi kurta, gandhi topi and dhoti).

He viewed the film intensively, but strangely seemingly-detached.

I talked to him for some time. He told me that he had come to visit a son of his who served out there. I clicked a few snaps of his and walked off.

I don't even know why I am writing about this.

But being back in a place where I can understand the native tongue has made me realize that I feel more peaceful and "earthy" when I can talk to these people usually invisible to most of my peers. The cab drivers, the tea vendor and this unknown gentleman in a hotel lobby assaulted by the blares of a TV and the dust clinging to his clothes; and yet exuding a calm and peaceful dignity.

Every day as I climb one step more, I leave the earth further below.

So far, my most peaceful moments in Gurgaon have been the evening visit to a tea-vendor in a semi-dehaat area. An old man stis there like a statue for hours on end and rickshaw-pullers, kabadi-wallahs and farmers flock around.

I want to go back to the basics; the life beyond consumerism, frameworks and cleverness.

The greatest courage was in the sacrifice of Siddhartha.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Confessions of a homeless wretch

For some reason, living in a hotel room makes you feel like you're on the run. Probably you are; life is in a pause, you're between things and no responsibilities of looking over the cleaning, cooking and bills.

There is only a huge double bed in my room with a TV that I never use, an almirah, a chair and a desk and a sofa with a center table. And, of course, the adjoining washroom.

You can only read that much. Hence, I switched on the idiot-box for a brief while last night. Some Hindi crap starring KK, Fardeen Khan and Mukul Dev. The plot might have been interesting if the acting had not been so ludicrous.

Bollywood seriously needs to get out of the cult of "stars". Our stars don't look Indian and they can't act for monkey's nuts. We mistake looks for personality. Fardeen Khan, with all his smug affectations, hardly possessed the finesse and suaveness that his character was supposed to convey. What was worse was that the only decent actor in the lot, KK, whose sheer magnetism sizzles the screen, was playing the sidekick to this yet-another-Khan-lad. Look at the Hollywood greats. With the exception of Brando, none of these actors would pass the "looks' test. Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, Jack Nicholson, Daniel Day-Lewis(OK, I admit, he's gorgeous!), Joe Pesci, De Niro. (Al pAcino has starred in far too many the-Recruits for me to be included here).

And forget the personality. Actors are supposed to act! Would you stand a sub-standard musical performance? Or painting, architecture, literature? Any other art for that matter. All but the art of acting. As an actor, it's always infuriated me how Indian cinema (and even theater for that matter) is dominated by models; the very people who are trained to parade strutting and pluming over a ramp with deadpan expressions.

Bu, of course, Bollywood is an industry dictated by untalented, mediocre, semi-literate and mammon-worshipping production houses. Let's just call it that.