Thursday, February 14, 2008

Art & my unintelligence

We as a team decided to leverage Chennai's status of being a cultural hotspot. After much planning , we finally finished work early yesterday at 7.30 and went to watch what is called Purusharth (by a group fo artists from Bangalore) - which prophesied to integrate movements from the Kerala martial art form Kalaripayattu and Tamil Nadu's famous dance form Bharata Natyam.
The artists were beyond doubt supremely talented. Their movements were very rehearsed, perfectly stitched into cohesion and so well displayed that we were a bit awestruck. The hall half full of firangs, clapped off and on.
After 5-10 minutes, most of us used to the original Kalarippayattu and Bharata Natyam couldn't figure out what was happening on stage. Agreed, it was still nice to see the movements. But without music, traditional instruments we were at a loss to understand anything. There were many images which appeared on the screen behind the actors / dancers. I overheard a group saying "Wonderfully thought out post modern images". I felt it was a badly made media collage of skulls, dead bodies, movie stars and such other eclectic assortments.
30-40 minutes into the program we (The poor MBAs without much contemporary art exposure but with quite a handful who had learn Bharatanatyam for years on) started wondering what exactly was happening. We had NO clue - neither of the story, nor of anything that the dancers were showing. The audio was only numbers. So it went " 10, 13, 7, 25 8 minutes". This was repeated a few times. Then a few other numbers.
Suffice to say we did not get either the dance, nor the music nor the digital fusion over the back wall. This is not to take away anything from the people who made it happen. Im sure they were doing it with all sincerity and many in the crowd seemed to understand something (I overheard desolation, sex, sensuality, existence, meaning etc repeated in hush hush tones).
I was left wondering - Am I really so dumb ? Is that art better, which is appreciated by a smaller number of people ? Why should people always feel forced to appreciate that which is not manifest ? Is what is manifest a lower form of art than what is implicit ? Did the creator really mean what others perceive as the implicit to be part of what he created or is it a post facto analysis by "analysis crazy" critiques ?
N.B Similar doubts creep into my mind when commentators make comments during cricket matches which goes something like - Sachin has waited on it a fraction of a second more so that he could place the ball in the small gap between square point and backward point. Did Sachin really do that intentionally or is the commentator giving the credit based on the success of the event (of the ball getting placed between fielders).
I also remember a mallu movie where the protagonist sat smoking a beedi for 5 loong minutes. When it got some award, a critique was ga ga over how the act of smoking for 5 minutes showcased the complete desolation & loneliness that the character felt. How can anyone other than the creator of art make categorical statements about unmanifest meanings ?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Movies and life !

Since these days I am working for a non Mumbai client, I fly back to Mumbai mostly on Friday nights. To maximise the time we have at Mumbai, me and my gf decided to catch American Gangster early morning show on Saturday. It is a terrific movie. One of the best after Departed and Blood Diamond. Some sterling performances especially from Denzel.
In the afternoon though the very idea of great movies shifted by a notch. We decided to watch In Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith. If you have missed this classic, dont wait. Go and get a DVD and watch it. NOW. They seldom make such great movies. And when one comes along you just celebrate great movie making.
The movie also made me think about what most of us are doing for our country / society. And after an hour of thoughts I came to the gigantic conclusion that I am a wimp. That I have done nothing useful in my life. (Ok that might be a slight exaggeration but not by a long way). When a movie stirs up such strong emotions, I'd personally declare it a hit. Notwithstanding how much it makes in box offices.

N.B My jinx with electronic items continues unabated with my new Canon 40 D going kaput in 3 months of small time usage !! Grrr. It just gives me an Err99 message and takes no pics. It tucked away in the canon service centre in Mumbai. I might well have to spent a fortune on that since I bought it without Indian warranty !!! :(

NNB : I started exercising today after months and months of thinking through and making excuses!!