PASOLINI, MUSICAL TOUCHSTONES, HAIR LOVE & MORE.

LOVE MEETINGS(1964)



The non-fiction format of storytelling always draws me in by its simple premise: there is no attempt to bootlick or present fiction as facts. The power of  truth is sought in this manner and rewards viewers’ intelligence who find like-minded thoughts become an important part of the discourse.

This documentary from the Italian auteur (or provocateur) Pier Paolo Passolini is a straightforward take on people’s attitudes towards issues of sexuality, gender and binaries. This interview format and survey like earnestness allows the filmmaker and his team to cover Italy’s vast socio-cultural ground, from rural to urban, from spruced up dancehalls to open fields, beaches to Neapolitan backwaters.

I loved the fact that it consistently delivers in terms of capturing common man’s honest perspectives and in the majority consensus, social change vis a vis gender equality and a greater freedom to explore sexuality and the works emerges as a prominent motif. Irrespective of certain dated tropes, terminologies and the supposed feeling of a retrospective offering the usual hush hush treatment from those who lived in a more conservative era. But they triumph by speaking with zest and stand by their strong opinions.

A must watch.

THE LAST MUSIC STORE(2016)



Talking heads occupying a precious space marks the tonal quality of this documentary short by Megha Ramaswamy. Rhythm House, the iconic Bombay music store, is the site of collective memory tied in with a way of life and the end of an era in a post internet culture.

Humility is in droves here by way of the history and community invested in the actual location. As also a familial connection that binds strangers. Bittersweet symphonies of loyal clientele, record breaking albums and the inevitable reality of the store’s closure make us all reminisce of a time and place not so far away at all when music was an experience of a personal kind. One where the tactile touch of a cassette or C.D. meant the world to us.

THE LAST MUSIC STORE is a treasure trove and packs in the sadness of life moving on with the solidarity of memories made for a lifetime.

SPLIT ENDS, I FEEL WONDERFUL(2012)



Akosua Adoma Owusu is a filmmaker whose preoccupation with hair, particularly those of African American people, is a strong suit of her non-fiction filmmaking resume.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the power of her cultural commentary in WHITE AFRO. The use of retro footage set to words that reveal both the datedness of certain ideas and the intervention of contemporary oppositional contexts make SPLIT ENDS…. powerful too.

Only here, the four minute narrative arcs in the direction of beauty, pride and the joy of one’s hairstyle being much more than a fad or style statement. It’s a personal statement.

***

Further to sum up the wonderful feeling of watching three diverse works in terms of their style and content, I again reserve my ideas in the verse form.

A special shout out though to the last title( the much delayed COBALT BLUE, based on a novel I had read about a decade ago)  that released this weekend and is one of those instances where an exclusive streaming release allows a subtle, intellectually stimulating and universal tale to find its true footing. It’s as fluid as the sexuality and sensual reprieve it achieves so elegantly along with its personal stakes of autobiography.
Kudos for more of such accomplished Indian gems.

**

PASOLINI(2014)



square jaws
hold such sharp resolves
and unburden so much
of the world’s sulking energies.
Ask the maestro.

Here he is deep in thought,
his palms releasing imprisoned
words with a soft, elegant touch.

Coarse
Brusque
Vulgar
and hypocritical,
the people
and their receptions.

The sanity
of language
along with the
bestiality of sexual deviance.
Morality upended.
Who could have stripped them
this openly
but you?

Privately,
you were a simple man,
just like any other.
You loved your mother’s
unprejudiced affection
and the association
with an always rousing intellect.

They have killed you
PASOLINI;
driven an automobile over your faint,
limp body.

Your ghost exudes your sophistication,
now that faithfulness is no longer
their front.
Blunt forces drive a wedge with
diplomacy
and your legacy
is your own kingmaking code.
See how many awaken from your
fierce process.

**

HOSTILES(2017)



The Western frontier
has passed through uneven hands.
Calloused and hungry is the roar
of the past.
Calculating and walloping
the law of this land.
Cutting open native pride
like a door left open
only for opportunists
and marauders.

Bravery is to own
collect grievances
divide shares of the fire
and the flood
and bury bodies
in flesh and spirit
that seek to be laid to rest.

Rise to such a dawn,
Woman.
Stand up for a morsel of that truth, Man.

Your hands were tied to
armours
meant to defend and kill.
Their gold rush is now passing away.
The avalanche of cruelty is over.

Take this passage
down this untrodden path
and mount the last train.
For destiny favours the bold
and those primed for a future.

***

COBALT BLUE(2022)



Bodies are like water
but with a beautiful image
of a lover
who paints us
in a rare shape.

I was always a sensual seeker,
secretly sensational.
But hands need to touch the core
of the principal,
pleasure needs to be
divulged
like a long citrus summer.

Hands touch
Bodies move
Destiny abandons
Patterns of companionship
become the river
and ponds get wetter with the monsoon.
That’s just the way
of the seasons.

Love is the sea .
Longevity is its master.
And our supple youth
waves upon the shore.
Dropping and collecting
like a pipe dream.

Thank God
that you came.
Saw.
Felt.
Left us
with a view beyond the windows
of our home.
Thank God
you came.

Thank God
you came.

****