CINEMA IN VERSE- A TRIBUTE TO THE GREAT SMITA PATIL.

Over the course of my essays in the last three years and counting, I have made my love for the great Smita Patil’s unparalleled artistry evident.



From ARTH to UMBARTHA, AKALER SANDHANEY to BHUMIKA, ALBERT PINTO KO GUSSA KYU AATA HAI? and TARANG, from GAMAN to AAKROSH, ARDH SATYA to CHIDAMBARAM and DEBSHISHU, even her swan song in the form of WAARIS among others, I feel blessed to have watched her repertoire cover languages, social backgrounds and experiences. Even the variety of genres and narrative styles are diverse.

A carrier of multiple worlds in a remarkable decade old journey, her contributions to Indian cinema remain emboldening for someone like me.

So in recognition of her other performances, I choose to once again use the verse form to delineate her journey in several of her iconic avatars.


Here, they are.

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SARVASAKSHI(1978)

NOTE : first up, there are hardly any Google images  or uploads of this underrated Marathi gem on YouTube but it’s available in perfect HD on DISNEY+HOTSTAR(for Indian viewers) so please make a point to watch it there.

But first a gallery tracing her myriad avatars.

**

SARVASAKSHI

The inner eye
is the last sometimes
to oversee one’s own downfall.
But I saw a lucid picture of change.

For I saw progress
cross paths with superstitions
and you, kindly teacher,
were the mouthpiece
while I,
willingly ensconced within this mansion,
within the village’s inner circle,
was the conscience,
willing to rise above my station.

Man and woman,
engulfed by two different worlds;
we now know that the future
is in our hands.
And so let us take our first steps
and raise our consciousness.

And take the young ones with us,
making this remote corner rise from its infancy.

***

SUTRADHAR (1986)

Sutradhar Movie || Smita Patil Emtional Scene || …: https://youtu.be/UnDvbiWOhKE



A tale of tales.
A crusader among slumbering bedrocks.
That’s the choice I made for myself.
I chose you,
your mind above sallow, fickle ideology.

I should have known
that I was always expected
to follow behind
and stick to your side,
an enforcer of patriarchy.

Now I make my choice
and draw the line
& leave your ego at the threshold.
I now choose myself,
my reason above your exhortations.

***

GHULAMI(1983)



We are all enslaved by our virtues and vices,
both genders victimised by
agendas beyond our control.

We cannot choose the circumstances
of our birth
or the life ahead,
to build ourselves up.

This,
we can proclaim:
To be children of the soil,
equals in spirit and mind.
The last of the desert’s sentinels,
guarding our forts
of an united soul.

**

TEESRA KINARA (1986)



The big city is a sea of temptations.
Losing one’s self is easy
when you are one amongst the crowd.
But inviolable was I
when I was back home
and determined am I,
now that you have brought me
to this concrete jungle.

You dip your feet in the ocean.
I continue to measure
the depths of my desires
with facts of life.

This is our shore
and you have gone missing,
in the melee of undertows and high-tides.

I am still here,
always holding my head high
without bowing to your whims.

The big city is but a rear-view mirror
for me.
My truth tells my very own story.

**
THIKANA(1987)



Home is where the heart is.
Where mothers and daughters
sleep on each other’s laps
and cut chapped lips with words
sharp as a sickle
or the ways of this world.

This is Home.
A brother’s journey starts here.
A family rebuilds itself within its walls.
And I see the good with the ugly,
boarding with both inside.

***
SHAKTI(1982)



Power is overrated,
a concept pitting man against man
while the world and its conscriptors
conspire to set apart
fathers from sons.

The real power is one of loyalty,
of generations imbuing life
with unvarnished truth.

Trust me when I say it,
the real power is in looking back
at all events
and never choosing only the rosy pathways.

Truth is life.
Life is truth.
As we all learn,
ultimately.

**

AKHIR KYUN? (1985)



Why should a woman cower
or be an orphan,
without her own home
or a room of one’s own?

Why shouldn’t she voice her opinions
or be expected to serve,
among others,
flattery,
food on the table
and only pearls of motherhood
to society’s gatekeepers?

Why should she be chosen first
by a man
and be discarded for the fleeting
cross-currents of youth?

**
I offer my life as an alternative,
a hard-won triumph against the odds.

I give you my life story
as an exemplar
and a gospel of self-independence.

For I did it forty years ago,
so there’s no reason why you
should choose to shear your own dignity today,
in the here and now.

I give you the freedom to write
your own tale,
as I did mine,
pulling out the truths,
hard facts,
pains and joys
out of the body, mind and soul.

**

AMRIT(1986)

Mera Gham Kitna Kam Hai (HD) – Amrit Songs – Raje…: https://youtu.be/VxafxedS2R0



Silver strands,
Golden years,
inextricably linked together.
By the pangs
and the little joys
we share.

We are friends,
forever defined by our years.

**

UNDERWATER- AN EKPHRASTIC POEM

This time, I wrote this poem as part of an ekphrastic prompt based on the painting titled HYLAS AND THE NYMPHS by John William Waterhouse. The painting, in turn, is based on an ancient myth.

My poem was not selected for final publication in that particular capacity but that doesn’t deter me at all as I now get to share it with you. So here it is.

  

          ***
       



       UNDERWATER

He dived deep into the abyss
to be marooned beneath,
as if among Atlantic ruins,
in a city that lives underwater for eternities.

The beguiling voices called out to him,
coming from yonder,
caught in the mesh somewhere between the floating hyacinths
and weeds,

“Hylas, Hylas,
come, let us show you the afterlife
where bodies flit and swim,
coming up for air to the surface,
just like the myth of the mermen.
A netherworld in your reach,
only if you choose to come
and dive deep like a king of the sea”

Words to beguile the enduring ego of youth
Such a fate to divine in those last moments
between leaving shore
and entering a tempestuous watery grave.

Hylas, Hylas
’tis here is your tomb,
your desecrated youth,
the myth that history repeats in leaden circles.
Naive, guileless young lad,
here is your cautionary tale.

***

    

MY RECITATION OF POEM ‘MAA’ IS FOR ALL OF YOU TO LISTEN TO.

https://youtu.be/gCsJ7fyyF9w

The Zoom session of RHETORICA QUARTERLY’S launch captures a plethora of voices, united in upholding creativity sans borders. Remember, it’s the journal of my beloved Department of English and Modern European Languages, University of Lucknow and has celebrated a successful year since its launch last year.

My poetry reading of MAA is from the 50:43 – 54:24 minutes mark. So do listen to it and share your thoughts.

It’s the same poem published in the journal that I had shared here.

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ANDRA DAY BRINGS PASSIONATE TRUTH TO ‘STRANGE FRUIT’

Look at her facial expressions, the way her mouth registers every contorted life script and scarred body marked by racism. In this rendition of STRANGE FRUIT, a song based on a seminal poem detailing lynching in the American south, delivered by the inimitable Billie Holiday, Oscar nominee Andra Day embodies the great and provocative singer’s unique tonal quality. The melancholy of her words hence come to define her own identity as an African American occupying a divisive social rostrum.

https://youtu.be/Epm0v1px2oM

As someone who has always taken STRANGE FRUIT to be a true blue benchmark in the liberation of musical sensibilities,  I believe Ms. Andra gives it not only a vocal heft in the vein of Holiday without imitating her but also the communication through eyes and face that elevate her performance altogether. It’s a miracle to have in 2021.

*****