so theres a bollywood movie in which they basically made a song out of bollywood movie titles. like, each single word in the song, literally, is a bollywood movie title! :O
like wtf, right?
also this whole lift going off/technical failure thing is amazing, in how this discontinuity gives all the characters in the scene a chance to show their hidden selves (sexualities?)- sing, dance, listen in voyeuristically lol…and then quickly brings in the ‘authorities’ – to police all this.
but seriously what a cray song! lol! ah bollywood 80s! 🙂
I don’t know if the world was always this way or if it is indeed a new development. But then, it can’t be all that a new development since the field of semiotics has existed for some time. I talk, of course, about the use of placeholders, signs, and symbols as substitutes for a real understanding of the texture of the experience(s) of life – be it either in political, cultural, or economic milieus.
Watching the debate around Dangal unfold, this much became clear. But that’s a tiny bit. Even before it, watching the 2016 US Elections campaign unfold had been making it clear. But even before that, many years ago, I think I began to notice it within the Left itself, the so-called organisation…camp formation around concepts. Concepts like identities. And identities proliferate like concepts. Brahmin, Dalit, man, woman, radical, irradical, whathaveyou…Identity pins one’s suffering or lack of it. And more recently, pqr of “radical” left thought cannot buy xyz arguments because they were made by the person with the wrong identity. An identity not radical enough. An identity of the oppressor. Dare I say, an identity not exotic enough?…
I will of course take a beating for writing this but somehow we have come to inhabit what it truly an Age of Identities. We strive for authenticity, but even “being authentic” itself has become an identity. In other words, it means zilch. I’m authentic and I hang around with authentic people, and you’re inauthentic so I don’t deem you fit for a conversation with me. It’s amazing what the machinery of capitalist production is capable of appropriating. 2017 has even fashion magazines selling you authenticity. Ralph Waldo Emerson rolls in his grave.
This is however, not a critique of those poor unenlightened ones who buy into it. I’d even go so far to say that in many ways they seem more authentic to me than our radical friends who try to be politically correct. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to undermine the achievements of leftist movements in the last 300 years or so in any way. But it grieves me to see the absence of human conversations because of whacko reasons. Reasons like, because abc voted for Trump, def said something sexist on 01 October 2009, qwe did not do her doctoral thesis on Dalits when it is such an obvious burning issue. That historical figure opr must be disregarded because he kept mum on racism. Hey, none of this is to say that sexism, racism, Nazism, casteism, or blah are okay or to even claim that there does not exist ignorance, privileged ignorance, about the experiences of these “Other”. But what’s the response to that? What should be the response to that? That the “Other” construct the “Self” as the “Other”? Creation of more identities by the negation of the other? I mean, you’ll probably say no, and say no this is of course not what is happening, but I will differ. I see it happening all around.
Someone claims the other day Gandhi wasn’t “radical” so can’t have him on my reading list on Indian political thought, which questions Enlightenment thought. Hah okay. Since we’re making lists. Listversing. Categorising. Classifying. How’s that not an Enlightenment value, heh.
People seem to increasingly live and perceive their whole lives in terms of identities. This includes those rads. I lament this turn of events. That our perception of reality is increasingly reduced to a set of foregiven ideas. A set of pre-constructed ideas. Heck, even “not pre-constructed” has become an identity. Welcome to hipster culture. Welcome to most “enlightened,” who will now refrain from a friendly conversation with the guy who protests against refugees in Europe or one slip of a good word about Julian Assange. Note I support neither of these political positions, but my point is this is no different from fashion, trends for identity come and go. One another term for identity is demographic.
When Rohith Vemula died, he didn’t leave a Treatise on Multicultural Identity Society for a suicide note. He left a beautiful note about his personal frustrations and how he had seen life. The note had no identity terms. Yet at the end of the day, and I hate to think this, he was reduced to an identity. In politics. Not just by the right, or by political opportunists but by the so-called left who deeply cared.
I’m not saying don’t acknowledge roots. But identity is reduction. Life is richer, complicated, way more fucked up and beautiful than reducing people/entire lives to symbols. That’s exactly what the modes of capitalistic reproduction and production do. I thought radical left was supposed to be different. But seems like, the lure of this structure of control and the desire to feel like we’re getting somewhere “organising” “making progress” trumps everything.
Maybe I am naive. I don’t care. I’m tired of your pretension. Your sophisticated ideas to mould, to educate. It’s got nothing to do with my lived reality, my inner life. Maybe that’s how you live it, but I don’t. And I don’t want to. And many people, I believe, don’t want to. Which is why good storytellers, populists, like Trump are winning. You don’t have a story to tell, radical left. Sadly, all you have is ideology and principles and ideas. You’re a hollow shell. A facade of academic papers and cold reason. You’re not the same person I met in the 1850s. You’ve no soul. You’re as much an automaton as the fucked up system you claim to fight.
It is funny how ignorance is often confused with being unpretentious. Sample this exchange on Facebook, for example:
I mean, sure what’s the relevance of this…random people on social media blabbing etc. but well that’s how life is…You see something random, and it gets you started on a certain train of thought, and then you follow it and it becomes real and important. wirklich und wertig.
So I’m thinking, all that sexist stuff about calm your titties, I’m a feminist guy. Or calm your titties, I’m being unpretentious etc. is such a load of crap. Because saying that you are unaware has nothing to do with being authentic. What you learn over the period of your lifetime becomes a part of you and is not pretension. Otherwise acting like a baby would be highly authentic. (And I have a feeling many people buy that argument *hipster sigh*)
Of course, I suppose a lot of this kind of talk also stems from a certain reactivity towards Orientalism: “I am not taken over by “western” education ideas, I live my experience, I live reality, therefore I’m unpretentious and authentic.” The problem with this line of argument is double. First, living reality doesn’t mean that the same chain of events that one experiences can’t be viewed from different lenses and be told as separate stories. Which is what awareness, as opposed to ignorance offers. Second, reactivity towards Orientalism only feeds into the Orientalist structure, beispiel…the Hindutva nation. So how is it helping anyone?
This is a new review of a very, very old movie. If you can call this a review. I mean, it is more of a story really…The story of what happened as I watched this film. On the other hand, maybe that’s what all reviews are: The story of what went through the reviewer as they watched the movie. But let us not go in circles, and let me begin…
I’d wanted to watch Mixed Doubles for the longest time, ever since I saw the promos on TV. Maybe I was 14 then. And my anticipation had built up for several reasons: First, it said it was a movie about wife-swapping. Or something like that, no? And what 13 year old girl cannot be somewhat thrilled at that idea? Second, at the time, there was a show called Wife Swap that used to air on Discovery Travel and Living – now TLC (or the other way round, who remembers!) – But that one had been so deeply disappointing…Mostly because there you only swapped wives to raise kids, and to expose them to a different “mom” – oh, Americans! But well, one still watched it every week, in the hope that something more risqué might just happen this time. Never did. Anyway, I believe I did start this sentence with “deeply disappointing.” And third, well, third…It was called “Mixed Doubles!” It was about swinging, which one might safely say, then (and now), was widely labeled a controversial sexual practice. But then it decided to name itself after a somewhat baffling format of a popular medieval sport. That had me intrigued.
Plus, I liked the visuals. In the ads I saw. The movie had a clean feeling to it. I’m not much of a film buff, so probably don’t have a wide range of precise references to put in here – and don’t hold me to this – but I think the closest it reminded me of, was something of a Wes Anderson shot. Like this one here:
So I clearly remember seeing the blue walls at the experienced, swinger couples’, viz. the Khannas’ house. And in the middle of wall, I think, there was a white, wooden photo frame with some nondescript picture in it (and mind you, all this might very well be something I’m just making up). But the photo frame is so simple, and straight, and the wall is so simple and straight, and they are both perfectly parallel to each other, in very straight lines, and there is nothing else on the wall. That caught my eye, because that was very different from other Bollywood movies, which were full of chaotic things that were not parallel to each other…They usually always led to intersections…Well, they usually lead, rather than just being there. This one, I thought, be’ed.
And of course, all this straightness in wall decor was super funny, because it was placed against a plot which wasn’t straight at all! How could a theme like that ever be straight? (On second thoughts, the “kink community” has done a lot to make themes like these very straight *facepalm* – but more on that later.) However, if not straight, this plot was also as clean and minimal as the wall behind it. The lines were sharply drawn, the words were definite, real. They were words you could hear, you do hear any day. There was no glamour in its words. At all. And the characters didn’t intersect with each other, they were all whole people. By which I mean, there was no atmosphere of heaviness left hanging in between the people in the movie. Which is not to say there wasn’t sadness, spite, anger, obsession, or awkwardness. Koel Puri, for example, is pretty creepy – she totally creeped me out, and for half of the movie, I didn’t know if she was regular human, or an actual witch. She is a definite outlier character – the rest of them are most emphatically regular people who drive cars, so she is always a bit of a question mark on that account. Also, all the foreplay between her and Ranveer Shorey- haha! I mean, I really liked how it was a different depiction of sex, than you usually find in movies, or well, in literature. The more popular ones are either super hot/sweet (objectified or meaningful) macho/feminine shit – sex, orgasms, desire, cocks – all in very obvious doses. Or they’re this deep, philosophical sex. Where sex might be meaningful or not-so-important, but it’s always in-the-moment stuff, and therefore, has weight. You know. 😉 Anyway, sex in Mixed Doubles is a lot about confusion, yet aspiration. Ranveer Shorey comes off very much like a teenage boy in bed – enthralled and nervous. Yet so persevering. Arjun-meen-ki-aankh types. It’s sweet and hilarious at the same time.
Konkana’s feelings about this switch bitch sex are more solid, and less wavy, if not clearly laid out. And I don’t think they’re clearly laid out- even though when she first hears of the idea, she’s like, dude wtf? She’s curious I think, but definitely not Shorey-obsessed- and therefore more solid. So comes in Rajat Kapoor. Actually, he is almost not there in the movie- he is the most background character. So he is the whole atmosphere of the Khanna house and later, towards the end, of the scene in the car and back at the Shorey’s house (though Malti begins to take over the atmosphere towards the very end). But if I could summarise the Rajat Kapoor atmosphere in an emoticon, it would be this one: 😐 It’s straight-faced with a hint of humour borne out of the knowledge of who’s pulling the strings. Or maybe just a knowledge of how exactly it’s gonna pan out, all details included…
A note on editing: Some people say art doesn’t need editing – go with the flow etc, the whole hippie crap, as if greatness lies in that one elusive unique moment of birth – and I always maintain editing is damn important if one is to make anything good or worthwhile, and this movie is one of the best illustrations of that. Good art is a good story, and good stories aren’t told without re-tellings. Also, in a recent interview, Rajat Kapoor said something that I very much liked: “If an image can be reduced to one meaning, it’s a bad image.” I liked his precision and brevity in this sentence, but also because this movie really is about good images, not bad ones. Simply because this movie doesn’t really have a point. It’s not looking to “entertain” ala SRK, and it’s not looking to provide “deep insight” ala Sanjay LB. And it’s not really looking to be satirical or ironic. The movie is just there. It’s a little story, and it’s not driven by ideas or points, so it’s just there, and that’s where it starts looking beautiful.
Here’s the Bechdel Test:
To judge whether a work of fiction is free of gender bias or not, the following parameters need to be fulfilled-