IDENTITY CRISES, LOVE FOR MOVING IMAGES, DETERMINED PIONEERS, JUSTICE UNDER FIRE

Similar to few of my previous forays into integrating the robust, dynamic quality of cinema with poetry, I once again bring the two disciplines together, to present encapsulations of various features in the verse form.

So here they are.

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AMU(2005)- on filmmaker Shonali Bose’s affecting debut that chronicles the decades worth of buried pain and generational legacy springing forth from the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. It also doubles up as a linguistic amalgamation of an Indian-American
young person’s search for identity.






Mangled bodies
and murmurs of the past
don’t speak.
Our flesh and blood
spills out of almanacs.
Yet we choose to pick
the dates marked only
for festivities.


I’m a multiplicity
speaking in three tongues.
My mother’s speech
is a lost epiphany to me.
My family’s heritage
charred by looted memories
and kerosene bottles
strewn around the wrong side
of the railway tracks.


Tell me,
whom do I believe
when the urban village
is such a sunny tyrant
and wants a piece of my
birth name?

Mangled bodies
and murmurs are in the past.
Please
let flesh and blood
spill out the truth now,
in the prelude to a riot
and a carnage of decades
and legacies.





****

LIFE ITSELF(2014)- a practical documentary on celebrated film writer and media personality Roger Ebert’s legacy intertwined with his final years on terra firma, a space he filled with his expansive world of words even in the absence of speech and impending death.





Instruments of Empathy
are like a country’s gifts
of gratitude.

Laughter and joy,
to moving images,
like crumbs of resisting
tumult
and the cyclical crash
of our spirits.

I found these
in an almanac
perennially filled to the last
date
with a Godsend.


Now in my final address,
my thumbs pointed towards the sky,
I say,
I’ll see you
where the real stars
house the earthbound.
Exulting in the company
I wish to now know better
with empathy,
laughter and joy.



***

TEMPLE GRANDIN(2010)- on an iconic personality who proved her detractors wrong by uniting the humane practices enshrined by her scientific tempers in the field of animal husbandry while also shedding renewed light on her experiences as an autistic adult whose mind literally held wonders of creation and beauty.





I’m no sullen little oddity
or even anyone
out of the ordinary.

I see the world
in images of profound
recollections
and fragmented impressions
of human cruelty
define my confounding arcs too.


To me,
Wisdom
is coherent,
often like a silent prayer
and nature’s Godly creatures
are our likely saviours
when loudmouths laugh,
deigning to hold me as an equal.


But a beautiful mind has its own saddle
and gallops over forfeited fields
with a mother’s commitment
and a teacher’s beliefs.

Life is a temple of knowledge
and discovery.
I receive them firsthand,
governed by such examples.





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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW(1964)- on often provocative filmmaking auteur Pier Paolo Pasolini’s austere and transcendental take on the Nativity Story. A work that’s guaranteed to move devout followers and even agnostics with its humane delineation. It comes with a performance of a lifetime from Enrique Irazoqui, a most down to earth on-screen Messiah ever.





The Lord is humble
and pure,
eloquent at the hour of revelation
and predestined,
in his own words,
to be betrayed
at the altar
of mortal persecution.


This,
in his saga of sage advice
and impending peril,
he is put on trial,
looking as anyone among us,
wearing the same soiled raiments
as the most impoverished here
and holding his anger and resignation
just as ordinary folks would.


Look we desecrate our Chosen One
with our own inaction.
We strip him bare
with our voyeuristic lust
for a public spectacle.
We hardly heed to his prescience
when all we participate in
is an untimely crucifixion,
unresolved
and dissolving with the times.


***

CONFIRMATION(2016)- on the blistering courtroom politics invested in Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the United States Supreme Court when former worker and then current law professor Anita Hill opens up Pandora’s box on his misconduct meted out to her in terms of blatant sexual harrasment.





Hear me out.
Take notice.
I am wronged.
Put on the stand
after being pushed to
the very brink of dignity.


Hear me out.
I do not cry wolf.
Hear me out
because shame shouldn’t
be my only apparel.


Hear me out
when men defend
themselves with tricks
stale and furious
as the molten
shape of history itself.



***

PATERNO(2018)- on legendary football coach Joe Paterno’s final tryst with the legacy of sexual abuse of young boys appertaining to his longtime associate and philanthropist Gerry Sandusky.






Old principles
of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
have passed into obscurity.
So have denials from older men.


There is a charge then
to this trail of crime
and Hell is right here
when our mentors
choose to hush
this sordid saga
as some kind of
open secret.


See if this Pandora’s box
doesn’t bring a sweeping storm.

***

THE SHAPE OF WATER(2017)- on Guillermo Del Toro’s beautifully realised, fabled depiction of nature’s wonders manifesting in God’s creatures on land and water while man’s egomaniacal rush is the monster we unleash on this seemingly innocent world of goodwill and industry.






The Shape of Water
flows
into fables,
its countless drops
meant to symbolise
the propreity of evil
as equally
as a sheltered dreamscape
of Love,
Friendship,
Rebellion
and Escape.

When the fable soars,
Water becomes
a microcosm.
A sacred space.
An upholder of grace.



***

IRREVERSIBLE (2002)- on Gaspar Noe’s open provocation of a work that dares to show us the basest instincts of humankind when victim and victimiser both occupy a brutally realistic nocturnal world ruled by racism, homophobia and most importantly, the heavy weight of sexual abuse.



Bruised
Battered
Left for dead.

The City of Lights
brought to a halt
by its crimes of passion
and reduced to a pulp.


Now the procession begins.
A retributive fever,
like an epileptic seizure,
threatens
this shared love
among friends.

Under the cover of Night
watch as Men become
beasts with no burden.





***

FRIDA(2002)- on Julie Taymor’s memorable portrait of Frida Kahlo’s legacy of physical pain and the artistry that surmounted all odds beyond that frontier.


Kiss her
on the edge
of her broken spinal column.

There rests Phoenix
wincing with pain
and under the inevitable
shadow of a near-death
reckoning.


There she rises
with the grotesque
and the beautiful,
piercing the hallways
of life’s twists and turns
with Art
monumental
and immortal.





*****
DEATH ON THE NILE(2021)- on Kenneth Branagh’s excitingly mounted and excellently cast thriller based on Agatha Christie’s famed Poirot series of books.





Cry Wolf!

Cry Murder!


A voyage such as this
brings out cohorts
and players
as they exchange
glances and conspiratorial airs.

At the primed hour,
when tables turn,
who then picks up the
burden of guilt and reproach
and makes it out of this boat?


Bid for their money
when the decks are stacked.
A prowler on the hunt
and ready for attack.



A killer on the loose
A dubious profession to choose.


So cry wolf.
Cry murder.
The guilty ones
always sharper than
the others.




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