Posted in Kamal Haasan, Politics - General, Uncategorized

Kamal Haasan – A Changing Story

“Life is a beautiful story, your story, and the best part of that story is when it changes.”

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Kamal Haasan

And who better knows how to write good stories than Kamal Haasan?

Six months ago, if someone had asked me if I would be writing a blog post on Kamal Haasan’s politics and his political entry in February 2018, I would have not only laughed it off, but also ridiculed the person for fabricating such a scenario.

Looking back, to be specific, looking back at the past two to three years of Kamal’s life, both on screen and off screen, mostly off screen (since he hasn’t been doing much work on screen anyways), I am not surprised that we are at this transition point on February 21, 2018, the day he officially starts his political journey as a ‘practicing politician’.  As I string together the missing pages & connect the missing links, it is clear that after all, this is not such an emotional, sudden, and a path breaking transition for him. If you notice the transition now for the first time, you realize that the change has been going on for a while. Like the breaking of sunlight in the morning or boiling of water on a stove.

There have been enough hints in the past six months or so about his eventual political entry. But like many, I had chosen not to take them seriously or perhaps was blinded by my primary pinhole through which I have always been used to viewing Kamal Haasan, the influential movie star, the actor, the director, the literary connoisseur, the poet, the rationalist, the social commentator, and the passionate humanist. When it became very clear that the transition is for real, the rooted Kamal Haasan movie fan in me was very disappointed.

I was worried for the man and his eventual failure in politics.

True. I didn’t want someone I consider as a pragmatic intellectual and someone I have lot of respect for, being dragged into the kind of political dialogues and tricks that I am familiar with as the norm in Tamil Nadu. I wanted to protect the man from the operational rules of the political game and in general, how things work in Tamil Nadu politics.

Then I decided to give up on my selfish possessiveness as a fan. I didn’t quite accept the transition yet. But I was hoping that this would be more of a political commentary & social critic avatar that he would take, but in a structured way, much like the Voltaires of the world.  All the while, keeping his cinematic connections very much alive. A bit more political than a hardcore activist, but a little less bounded by the rules of the game than an electoral politician. I was fascinated by the thought of how he could pull off social vigilantism using simple tools, effecting micro changes which all could add up. I was dreaming and I even imagined a few mechanisms using which he could pull that off.

That dream bubble burst in November 2017, when it seemed very clear that he was actually serious about a more direct political route. One that involved building a party ground up and eventually contesting in elections. The exact kind of politics that I didn’t want him to get into.

Fast Forward to January, 2018.

I began to feel that may be my uncertainty around embracing Kamal Haasan’s political entry was completely uncalled for. It had become abundantly clear to me that Kamal has in fact been chalking out this path for a while. All the signs of him merging with mainstream politics were always there. But I just didn’t want to look at them. These signs were in fact all the more evident in the past two-three years or so, when I try to look at his life closely.

The man is 62 now. He has gone through a very challenging and an absolutely tragic two-three years. Separating from a partner, losing his professional mentor, losing his personal mentor & brother, surviving an almost life paralyzing injury, battling with the government politically for the release of his movie, etc.

These are enough to drain a man out or enough to make a man analyze his life.

“What have I achieved till now?”

“What is left that I want to achieve?”

“And what in it is possible to achieve in my lifetime?”

It makes complete sense to me that for a man like Kamal Haasan, someone who has never been shy of voicing his opinion on societal issues, what those questions may have meant when he asked these to himself during the past 2-3 years.

Fast Forward to February 21, 2018.

Even though I am leaning towards Kamal Haasan picking February 21, 2018 purely as a matter of convenience considering all other logistical details, knowing the kind of writer & movie maker who likes to play with metaphors and symbols, that he is, I can’t help but wonder, why choose February 21 for the launch?

February 21, 1953 –  It was on this day that Francis Crick and James Watson discovered the structure of DNA-molecule. The Watson-Crick model is the basis for understanding human genome. (They went ahead with sharing this information officially in a public manner only on Feb 28).

February 21, 1848 – It was on this day that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published “The Communist Manifesto” in London.

These are the two historic events that may symbolize Kamal Haasan choosing this day for his launch. Kamal being a staunch rationalist, and a strong proponent of science, there is every reason to believe that the DNA structure has a significant evolutionary symbolism as far as he forming a party & giving it a structure goes. And as for the communist manifesto, it’s quite obvious to correlate the significance.

But beyond the symbolism that the day brings, for me what is truly refreshing is to see his distinct approach to the launch of his political journey thus far. I can list many things to differentiate his approach thus far, but the one thing that has been acting as a huge inspiration and the one thing that has brought Kamal Haasan’s political journey closer to my heart, is his attempt to adopt villages and model them for future. I am sure I will have many things to say about that attempt, as that concept evolves into action.

For now, the very fact that a Tamil Nadu politician has dared himself to show results of his social consciousness and concern, without contesting in an election is reason enough for me to wish him well. Not as a fan. But as a keen political observer & as a social justice seeker.

And yes, I am no longer worried for the man and the man’s eventual failure in politics. Because I now understand that he wants to rewrite the definition of “failure” in politics. 

Posted in Poem, Uncategorized

Mansplaining Women’s Day

A Poem for International Women’s Day

Mansplaining Women’s Day

Listen, I am going to make it a special day,
You don’t know how much I know all that come your way.
So, I want you to forget all your strain,
And join me in my celebration of your pain.

Walk right through this door, watch out for your gown,
Oh, you didn’t tell me you were wearing cocoa brown.
I’d have asked you to pick something in burgundy,
To go with my tie, but who cares if we aren’t trendy?

Today is all about honor, so let me do you the honor,
And tell you what makes you the best in this corner.
Don’t yawn yet. With me darling? You still with me?
Do know that only you can make me the man I want to be.

Here. Here is a fine Syrah. Give it a try.
Any other night, I’d let you have your chardonnay, dry.
But tonight is your night, so experience the exquisite,
I bet you will thank me for this, till our next visit.

Where was I? Yes, honoring the fearless,
And those who stood up for your rights, no less.
For all that you are able to do now,
Many men must have sacrificed what and how.

Want another glass? Thought you’d be done with just one.
This Syrah, with its black pepper overtone, is strong even for men.
Always thought a lot of women wouldn’t have it in them,
You are special and I will never leave you, whatever may come.

Wish I could have some dessert with you and extend our stay,
But am so wiped out that I just want to thank you on this women’s day.

…Shall we….?

Posted in Poem, Politics - General, Uncategorized

The Next Step

A Poem for Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration

the-next-step
Each day as we go about our business,
tweeting past our older tweets, 
RTing some or not,
about to tweet or tweeting.

Each day we encounter each other in twitter,
words incoherent or ungrammatical,
incomplete or insulted,
words to consider, reconsider.

We know there’s something better down the road.
We gather our equality, pride, liberty and justice.
To walk into that which we cannot yet see.
To find a place which is safe for
Our intelligence, our rationality and sanity.

On the brink of twitter horizon, on the cusp of fake news explosion,
May we take that next step.

[Inspired by Elizabeth Alexander’s Praise Song for the Day]

Posted in Uncategorized

HBDARR50

I will confess first. I am a huge fanboy of AR. But I have also evolved as a fan over the years. From just being a blind fan of his music to a much more nuanced fan of the technicalities in his music (as much as I could grasp), his thought process behind his compositions, his philosophy in life and in general, AR, the human being.

To wish any icon on social media or on the internet seems like a vanity seeking attempt, especially if I don’t know him personally. But this being AR Rahman’s milestone birthday, I decided to do just that. The irony!

My interest in music, my half-baked (or quarter or 1/8 or..) knowledge notwithstanding, can be divided into 5 phases..

1) Pre-1990

I grew up getting soaked in Ilayaraja’s music (and MSV’s of course). And lots of carnatic music because of family surroundings and my own learning opportunities. The truth though was that most of my listening can be summed up as ‘casual exposure’.

2) Between 1988-1994

Serious listening. May be I was beginning to grasp the nuances better. And also because I was being exposed to a new world of music called classic rock. Thanks to the time I spent in Rajasthan during this time, I was exposed to more Hindi music than ever before (which doesn’t mean much if you spent all your time in deep south Tamil Nadu like I did.. till 1990). My half-baked music learning came very handy and I start analyzing. Even dabbled with making my own music. Just dabbled.

3) 1994-1998

Completely absorbed by this storm called AR Rahman. Roja brought out the curiosity but Pudhiya Mugam sealed it. I became a fanboy. I must have listened to every song from every album of AR Rahman during this time for about million times. Life changing in many ways. Suddenly, I felt like I am hearing my own inner voice in music. Even though it was only for fun, I started making my own music in a much more “complete” way. They sounded terrible. Especially the ones I created during this time. But I got a kick out of making my own music.

4) 1998 to 2008

Digital music still new. My CD collection filled my basement and my fascination for AR’s music/experimentation continued to grow multiple times during this time. Being away from the country just made the bond even stronger.  Also started listening to more contemporary western music, which internally made me appreciate AR’s music even more. And my own music creations got slightly better (even if I may say so myself).

5) 2006-Now

Music streaming has completely changed the way I listen to music these days. Good or bad I don’t know. But I can listen to any music I want at any time without much effort. Thus resulting in me listening to lots of world music. The honest confession is that my comfort music is still AR’s. I am sure it will always be his music.

Just as a reflection of my own AR Rahman musical journey, I put together this Youtube playlist with 50 songs. These are songs that aren’t necessarily chartbusters. Less obscure in some ways.

Happy Birthday AR Rahman!

Thank you for shaping my musical appreciation of not just your music, but of any music.

Posted in Satire, Uncategorized

‘Brex Pistols’ set to release its debut album

(Feat. 45th President Elect Donald J. Trump)

Nov 15, 2016
London — Fictional Bureau

The latest British Punk Rock Band “Brex Pistols” is all set to release its debut album on Nov 16, 2016, exactly a week after Mr. Donald J. Trump got elected as the 45th President of the United States of America. The album titled “Never Mind The Bollocks (In the Middle)” has already created a tremendous buzz across social media and as of this morning, hashtags #NotMyBollocks #SexitOrBrexit and #NMTBITM were in the top 5 trending topics on twitter in the UK.

Never Mind the Bollocks (In the Middle) – Album Artwork

The band’s lead vocalist and its frontman Nigel Farage had this to say..

“I think frankly when it comes to chaos you ain’t seen nothing yet. I mean chaos in the music industry. During the (Brexit) referendum I said I want my country back. What I’m saying now is I want my music back, and it begins right now with this album.”

To a question if this album will have any reconciliatory tone at all given the prevaliling bitter atmosphere in the UK after the Brexit referendum, Mr. Farage and Mr. Kassam were quick to say “NO”.

“Listen! That goes against the fundamental pricinples of the very foundation of this band. We will continue to be nationalistic, racist and anti-immigrationary in our tone. And this album, in particular will be extra inflammatory in its theme because of the recent US election results. The highlight of this album is going to be a bonus track, which we in fact, just completed recording. The track titled “Anarchy in the world” features Mr. Trump. We can’t wait for the world to take a listen. Peace.”

The band also released this picture of themselves with the President Elect Mr. Trump, which they took while in New York last Saturday.

The “Brex Pistols” with Mr. Donald J. Trump
L-R — Gerry Guntser (Drums), Arron Banks (Bass Guitar), Donald Trump, Nigel Farage (Lead Nationalist, Racist and Vocalist), Andy Wigmore (Keyboards), Raheem Kassam (Backup vocals, but primary duty is to give an Islamic shade to this group picture). Photograph: Raheem Kassam/Twitter

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Disclaimer: This is a work of satire published with the sole intention of humoring those who enjoy such posts. The album artwork was created exclusively for this post. The above picture of Nigel Farage, his partners and Donald Trump is an original picture as shared by Raheem Kassam.

Posted in Poem, Politics - General, Uncategorized

Staying’ up High!

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Staying up High

Cracking at the dawn
The daylight that’s gone
Walking
down the lane
Felt a tingling on my cane

Pitching for a cutter
Forking up a dollar
Teeming with delight
Trying to stand straight


Weakening of my knees
And the trembling brings some trees
Bringing it Bringing it Bringing it down
The
Earth is Bringing it Bringing it Bringing it down

Running for my life
Jumping in Strife
Thrusting up my chest
I am giving up with no protest

Searching for one life
Looking up the dead

Losing all my hopes
Will I be tossing all my ropes?
Mangling of the steel hive
Pulling out none alive

Staying up Staying up Staying up High
We all (are) Stayin’ up Staying up Staying up High!!

Posted in Miscellaneous, Uncategorized

So Begins the Healing (Or Does it?)

Like all of you, I would like to believe in the goodness of America and Americans, no matter what our politics is, no matter which end of the policy spectrum we are on and no matter who the President is. But just hoping that “Everything will be OK” is not enough. It’s easier said than experienced. Everything is not going to be OK till you and I actually make an effort to make everything OK. Everything is not going to be OK till we collectively (and not selectively) call out all the “-isms” that seem to have started showing up their ugly faces in our society of late in the guise of “politics” or hidden as “personal freedom”. Everything is not going to be OK till all of us stand up against the “newly” infused boldness to make hatred mainstream.

I have created an album on Facebook to share what the Post-Nov08-2016 America is beginning to feel like for some of us. All these images/videos (and incidents) have been reported after Nov 8, 2016. By no means, this is a comprehensive collection of every single hate related incident that has happened around the country. Only those that came to my attention.

I am not naive. I completely understand that these incidents reflect a small proportion of a vastly diverse but a very kind and a beautiful country.

So, what is my goal and why am I doing this?

My answer is “I don’t know yet”.. Just spreading awareness for now. That’s all.

Before you call me out, let me call myself out first 🙂 Yes, this is every bit of ‘social-media-slacktivism’ as you think it is, but I don’t mind if it comes across that way because I believe if you want to stand up for any form of social injustices, you have to start somewhere. And No, I am not trying to exaggerate or blow anything out of proportion. Simply highlighting the “new” hatred that is real and that’s being experienced by real people of this country.

And my hope is that all these initial euphoric emotions will fade away in the coming days. And my hope is also that we won’t try to “normalize” these things.
Not now. Not ever.

I have tried to validate these images/videos and the locations as much as I can (but certainly have not performed extreme vetting ). So, I definitely don’t guarantee that every image is authentic or has an authentic story behind it. If I find out there is such an image/video or story that is not authentic later on, don’t worry I will remove it from here. And my intention is also not to share every “-ism” based rant on social media. My focus is to only share images/videos that corroborate actual “new” hatred fueled incidents.

If you live in certain parts of the country or if your lifestyle keeps you in a secure bubble, then all these might sound and feel too farfetched or unreal and I completely respect that. But if these images shake you up a little bit, then that’s exactly what will act as the first step towards having active and meaningful conversations. Not here on social media. But within your communities, with your family members, friends and neighbors.

Don’t we all want to exercise our First Amendment rights to the fullest in order to keep the country safe for all?

Note:
______

Right now this album is not public and at some point, if it is needed, I will have to make it public. I hope I don’t have to. But since I shared the above on Facebook, I figured it is worth sharing it on my blog as well because the sentiments that I have echoed above are valid even without any images.  Though some of you reading this may not have seen the actual images that are there in the album, be assured that they all are disturbing. The only silver lining in all of this is that there is no death or major injury as yet, as a result of these hatred fueled attacks.