Monday, October 14, 2013

Love is BDSM

This is not a review.

I am yet to finish Fifty Shades of Grey, forget about the rest.

When I was in Chennai, my best friend there, my classmate, S told me love is BDSM for him.

He also told me he believed love is BDSM everywhere in the world. In all families. Among every culture.

I was not so well-conversant with BDSM and its coded approach at that time.

As the computer games, the social networks, the interactive living even in the most lonely moments pervade us, love as an expression of BDSM becomes more clear.

It is a play. It is a play in truth. 

The vermilion in our marriage as a remembrance of bondage (as Rahul Sankrityayan addresses this issue in his Volga to Ganga), the mangal sutra as a token of bondage and dominance, the white saree to signify a colorless life in absence of the Lord - all signify bondage.

However, BDSM, like a computer game, has role reversals. Bondage and dominance are not restrcited to specific sexes.

There is a certain discipline followed in the game, which is shared religiously by the participants. 

All religious orgies are based on such disciplined sex related practices. Not only Tantric, but all.

Sadism and masochism are not only symptoms of psychosis. They surface in the healthy neurotic also. Role play is a very normal affair in all children.

And in adults too. What do the management schools teach after all?

A theory of unconditional love can be explained through BDSM too.

I rejected this trilogy as rubbish.

But, after a second thought, I came to reconcile. "Why not?", I thought. Only, a proper understanding of the rules of the game should be there.

I am not to practice it. I am enlightened.

For others...

Long live BDSM.

Monday, September 2, 2013

About Music

Ud Bade ghulam Ali Khan

Our childhood passed in music.

 There was no satellite channel, no internet. no Coca Cola, no Levi's. We had Doordarshan, from 6:30 to 9:30, in the evening. There was no second "Metro" channel as yet. We had magazines, little magazines, radio (yes FM was there too, from 7 pm onwards), and music.

 Our days used to start with music on the radio - the radio center's signature tune . After Subhasitam, music would start. The whole day used to be tuned according to music. Rabindrasangeet to Bhatiyali to Gazal to filmy on Vividh Bharati. 

Music was us. We were created by it. Most of us took formal lessons in music since early childhood. The regular seasoning of short khayal, bhajan, Tarana and Bangla Tappa took us ahead. Many of us who never went to the enlightened side of the city, before the market opened, never came to know what was happening there.

 Most Bengali teenagers of the late 80s and early 90s never went to the CSM. Amyt Datta was not so ubiquitously popular in those days.

 On the other side, how many of us actually went to 72 Jatin Das Road, where the famous Dagar brothers,Moinuddin and Aminuddin - the two Ustads - stayed? Most of us sang the whole life with a falsetto and always landing on a wrong note each time. We never had the real vocal training.

 Music was the pleasure ground for us. It was not to be seriously taken in life. It was not life's purpose. I wrote I wanted to be a singer and a full-fledged musician, in an essay on class assignment, when I was nine. I could never fulfill my promise. I was never sufficiently trained. 

Once, like a spark, I saw, for a split second, where a proper training can take one. Just after six month's training in Dagar Sangeet Ashram, in a typical Dhrupad voice training, I suddenly discovered any note, in any succession, in any rapidity, came so easily to voice. What a twelve years Khayal training could not do, a proper voice training under a Dhrupad guru did miraculously in six months!

 But, we are impatient! We were always so. Music was a part of life. But, fleetingly so. We never had time for anything. Music, as they used to make, has to wait for us till another life! 

Video Source:

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Au Pays de L'Or Noir
Photo Source: Hergé, 1950. Au Pays de L'Or Noir.
 Fac-similé de l’édition ed. Tournai: Casterman.
                          Scanned Pg.1

'70s' and '80s' Bengali generations grew up with Tintin. 

For those of us who went, by mistake, by choice, or by compulsion, to Bangla medium schools, discovered Tintin through Anandamela.

Those days Anandamela was the Magazine for the kids, despite Sandesh still running under the provocative guidance of Satyajit Ray, and Kishore Bharati.

Nurtured under an apt editorship of Nirendranath Chakraborty, Anandamela brought many major writers of that time to wield the pen for teenagers, and young adults.

But, the stickiest attraction was Tintin, translated directly from the French original. Much later, we would come to know the translator.

 When I started learning English, in early teens, again Tintin was the closest friend.

Those days, thanks to the erstwhile government of West Bengal, students would learn ABCD from the 6th class. And the teaching was through translation.

Tintin came to the rescue when all other methods failed. A strikingly cinematic (say, contemporary, maybe even futuristic) narration kept our attention to the pages. New words in the dialogues and descriptions never halted the flow. They just enhanced the enjoyment.

English used to get automatically better each time we finished a book.

Amazingly so, if we remember even the English Methuen (and later, Egmont and Casterman) books were only translations. They are probably the best examples of how interesting translations can be good guides to a language.

Tintin was the first guide to the language of cinema for many of us. I guess it would have been equally so for Satyajit Ray who mentioned the comics a number of times, in his writing.

Tintin taught us how to say Meanwhile (the idea of parallel editing), or how to close in from a location frame on to a close up portrait of a single character, or the duo.

The idea of shot division also sprang up from Tintin.

Again, when I started learning French, in the university days, Tintin was the guide. This time, in original, I came to appreciate how close the English translation was to the French bande dessinée.

Each Tintin character was reference to someone in our schooldays. A Professor Calculus, or Captain Haddock, Or the famous detective duo were among us, sometimes in a teacher, sometimes in someone else's parents.

We came to know about the journey to the moon, and about the nuclear reactor, not from the newspaper. Tintin guided us there too.

Of course there was the racial, neocolonial politics prevailing. But, our restive minds were probably not much tainted by that.

Tintin meant adventure for us.

After thirty years it is still the same.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why Cinema?

A decade and a half of intermittent indiscipline in food routine has led me to gastric ulcer. 

I know I'll fight out of it and the weakness it causes. However, such dizziness of mind put me face to face with an important question.

Last few days I was in the world of DA Vinci Code, Meluha and Panchavati, ancient Egypt and medieval Nalanda, Istvan Szabo's works on the modern holocaust and Exodus. And finally Spielberg.

That struck me face to face with the question - which films I must make now? Whose story can I tell most faithfully, and interestingly?

              Photo Source: Wikipedia
Framegrab from Chhinnamul (1950)
           Sourced from  E-Jumpcut

Of course mine. And what is my story? The most haunting two are the Exodus of my people, after the partition; and the Naxalites. 
So few films have been made on the former, and so few logical treatments of the latter. But why?

I grew up hearing stories from my mom. Things were different there, on the east side, which is now Bangladesh. The most fertile land in the world - the Branga in Amish' Shiva Trilogy.

We always had a problematic relationship with the pure Calcuttan's, people from this side of the partition. 

Even to date I have a problem in mixing with them - they are neither another culture altogether nor my own. 

Their language and body language are ours, finally. But, they are different in social mores, cuisines, purpose of life and cleanliness.

Lots of us lost much and many while crossing the border. Many were deceived after reaching Calcutta. 

A lot were deported to Andaman and Dandakaranya. Interestingly Amish' books connect Bongs to Dandakaranya, 3000 years back!

Bengal Congress always had an independent stance from the Indian National Congress. Right from the time of S N Banerjee. 

The difference became an eye sore at the time of Bipin Chandra Pal. 

Subhas Bose took that difference to the greatest height and finally walked out of Congress, with a distanced respect for Gandhi, but with a disagreement on the latter's politics.

Bengal was never culturally a part of the North. From the time of the Mahabharata it had its disagreements.

Who could forget the war between Harshavardhana and Shashanka, the last Gupta King?

And Bengal suffered the worst in the partition.

Many films have been made on the Punjab partition. But why only one (or two?) on the Bengal side of that?

Bengalis here supported that '52 language revolutionaries, and the '71 liberation war. 

The same Bengal that was suffering from the last State vs Naxalite fights.

And Naxalbari, the village, is in Bengal!

I have a personal, family connection to all these. My parents were refugees, both of them. 

They remember those days, the fiery nights of '46, to those one in post-Independence East Pakistan.

My own cousin was one of the top leaders of the '67 Naxalites. My family voted communists to power. 

They sheltered the '70s Naxalites. 

My dad used to teach in Bengal Engineering College, another den for the red berets of Bengal.

Photo Source: Wikimedia

I have grown up seeing how my family slowly became anti-CPI(M) through the latter's reign in the '80s and '90s. How they started supporting Trinamul Congress, and a whimsical frenzied leader called Mamata.

And I find the essence of the Bengali liberation war, the eternal Bengali psyche, in the same whimsical, frenzied leader called Mamata. She is one of my own.

My personal connections with Liberation, my party membership, troubled my parents. 

But, they were supportive. I was never deep into field politics. 

I was an interested dilettante at best. 

wanted some hands on practice for the theories I was reading. I was never a professional in politics. 

Yet, the positive role of my parents in support of my politics, which was against theirs, always surprised me.

The refugees always had a communist past, probably, even when they denied it most vehemently.

I shall make films. I don't know about rich people's ambitions, or the international missile treaty as the first hand source. 

But, I know the story of my family, my relation to the modern Bengal - both sides of the partition, how I can never see the two sides as separate.

I know my connection to Bangladesh, the roots of my deep hatred for any religion, my concern for the original Buddhism, my love for strikes and confrontation.

I detested a comically made Bose: the Forgotten Hero. 

I still wonder in silence what forced Shyam Benegal to make such a pathetic film!

I don't know about others' stories. But, I know my roots. I have grown up with them.

Filmmaking is like writing a book, like leaving a treasure-trove for the next generations. Opening the trove would give them a glimpse of how things were like.

A ploy to fight the collective amnesia.

Not easy. But, not impossible either.

Things in Life

               Photo Source:

When I was a kid, in school, I first came to know about the women's rights movements.

As I did not have a sister, my interactions with women outside family were limited. If one has a sister, interactions are normally more as sister's friends keep coming.

Studying in a boys' school also added to this non-interaction. 

The idea of equality in intelligence struck me very early. I made it a point not to mix with girls who are not intelligent, and who do not love mathematics.

As I grew up, the idea that rights are to be earned occurred to me. 

Half a decade in Culture Studies strengthened that idea. Inborn stubbornness stopped me from accepting reality sometimes.

An urge from within provoked me to read Second Sex

Sooner older and later feminist texts followed, from Mary Wollstonecraft to Judith Butler. 

That led me to writing an MA thesis on the development of feminism in the only urban society I knew at that time - Calcutta.

The idea drove me to a utopic distortion - a genderless society. Along with that, Foucault's History of Sexuality stepped in.

And my last full time girl friend walked away :)

Engel's ideas on private property and family, and its connection to gender, and my limited reading on Evolutionary Biology urged me to apply the half-baked thoughts to my own life.

Much later, when a friend from film school equated love with BDSM in everyday life, for the majority, I came back to the real ground.

A lot of writing by relationship experts showed me, in a renewed way, the politics of romantic relationship, in modern Indian society, and abroad.

I still remember, I argued with a documentary filmmaker and a French doctor, in Calcutta Zoo, on an individual's endless capacity to love. I said, it is very much possible to love two or more persons at the same time, and with equal intensity. I tried to hate private property and the idea of marriage, and of family.

But I forgot it is one thing to search for a norm, an ideal condition; and it is completely a different thing to deny the reality.

Denying the reality, for an ideal, is more dangerous than owing allegiance to that reality.

Loving many persons at the same time with equal intensity may be possible. But, showing that love through action may not be. One can not be with many at the same time, unless one is god.

If my partner is with someone else, at the time of my need, it would be pointless.

The idea of marriage, family and private property evolved not for no reason. 

That does not mean equality should not be sought.

As entropy rules the world, it is to be sought repeatedly, in each generation of our civilization.