Yeah Summer holidays

This is my fourth day of my long holiday. 14 more days to go. I am back to doing nothing. Something that i love doing.

I am in the mood of appreciating things. So, this post is all about things that have made me feel nice. I am choosing to be random in this one, since I am on a holiday of random things.

I’ve already watched five films.

Masoom. Hadn’t seen this till date. Am feeling foolish that I have spent a good part of my life without this being inside my brain. Had I seen it earlier, I would not have noticed Jugal Hansraj walking like a Dinosaur, a walk that he has been made to practice to perfect the role of looking innocent. I might have not found the littlest kid screechy, and would have joined a happy bunch of fat ladies who find such notorious pesky creatures, cute. I can almost visualise some aunty from delhi spilling her popcorn on her chiffon and going ‘haay, kitni cute hai bachchi, bilkul apni Pinky ki tarah.’, pinching Pinky’s cheek beside her and getting her to rehearse ‘lakdi ki kaati’ for the talents day in her apartment block. But in spite of becoming a over cynical product of advertising, I still loved the film. The story is charming, and I slowly realise why Shabana is who she is. It’s sad that Shekhar Kapur has diverted his attention to larger subjects of lesser importance. Gulzar is at his schizophrenic best, penning an absolutely charming song, stringing together words that are absolute fun to utter ‘sabzi mandi, tag bag tag bag, dum uthaake dauda’.  The lyrics are so perfectly meaningless, that it could give the guys at Disney Pixar a thousand ideas. And then switching over to a soul searching number ‘Tujhse naraaz nahin zindagi’, with such versatile adaptability that it makes sense to different situations in your life.

Trainspotting. Hmmm….a typical ad guys typical favourite. It has all the elements in it to massage your ego. Weird characters, crazy cuts, bizarre philosophies and banned substances. I liked it. All the techniques of story telling. The characterizations. The supreme use of camera. Ya…but what. In fact, stories of such kind are so predictably unpredictable, that you know from the beginning that this is not going to follow the path of your mind. Caters to an audience who are in perpetual quest of topics that challenge their imagination. I cannot think of reasons to store this in my memory.

Scoop. After Vicky Christina Barcelona, I started getting inquisitive about Woody Allen’s work. I had only heard of his sense of humour, but had never seen his films. Saw Vicky, only to see Penelope Cruz. But was amazed with the dialogues. Easily some of the best lines I’ve come across in Hollywood. I love his writing and play with words. So decided to see more of Woody. Got this one called ‘Scoop’. Its such a differently same film. A murder mystery that is funny. Its strange. You are on the edge of your seat, and also laughing. I havent experienced these two emotions coming together in me before. Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johannson and Woody Allen make you not want to see any other character. Brilliantly written. Brilliantly performed.

Idhu Sadhya. A suspense film in kannada that boasts of a fantastic line up. Shankar Nag. Ananth Nag. Revathi. Prabhakar. Devraj. Srinath. Ramesh. Srividya. Disco Shanti. Apparently this film was completed in two days. A record of sorts. That’s what prompted me to watch it. But it’s nothing but a whole load of bull. Garbage packaged in garbage. I seriously wonder why it won so many accolades.

Two days in Paris. I have not seen a film with so much conversation. There is not a second in the film where everyone is quiet. Its a simple story. And so real, you’ll really wonder if it was all shot. Absolute attention to details of everyday behaviour. It is hilarious. Hilariously hilarious. The strange ways of the french and their strange behaviours. An american caught in the middle of this. I am saying it again. Funny as hell.

Court

Like when you wait for your turn at a barber shop, you do notice a lot of things. You notice it, because you are doing nothing but just waiting. You notice that the barber just went outside and blew his nose, and then he’s back massaging some guys head. You watch some random telegu channel, which you have at your home too, but never ever stopped at it. But you now watch it in the barber shop because you have nothing better to do than wait. The guy next to you is on the phone speaking to his uncle about some sick relative of theirs in a language that you dont understand but you strain your ears and try and figure out the story because you have nothing better to do in that barber shop than wait.

Court is an incredible incredible documentation of just observations. Observations that are so accurately translated back to cinema.

c o u r t_0If every road, every street and every room in the country had a cctv camera, and if one incident were to be covered in its entirety by only using footage from these cameras, the result would be something like court.

Court makes everyday life more exciting than fiction. Court throws the spotlight on everyday mundanity and makes it steal the thunder out of the most bizarre fantastical dream. Court creates superstars out of nobodies. Court makes you sit up and take notice of everything happening around you, and makes you believe that your life is not mundane. It makes you think that you could actually be amidst the most engrossing story ever.

Court opens up your mind to a new topic. A mundane life. And it has the sexiest stories hidden underneath.

This Talvar has the edge

The reason I went to watch this movie was plain curiosity. And yes, with that thought playing in the back of my head, that someone is being opportunistic about this. As I began watching, I began to realise that the film was not being made with sensationalism in mind. I never guessed that the filmmaker’s motivation behind this was to seek justice. It’s the pitch and the creator’s sensibilities that speak volumes about her craft and intention. The film opens up your mind, and elevates you from being a layman. Mostly, it brings to attention that at the end of the day everything is a consequence of various individuals and their characteristics. Nothing is a system. Nothing is a process. Not even law. No system can be so watertight that it can’t be influenced by the people that are in it. A lesson I learnt after watching the movie ‘Court’ too. I have no idea how this lesson would be useful to me in life, or maybe I do. Just that I am aware could probably make me more emotionally intelligent and competent when I am going about living my life.

1707107-talvar-2

And in movies, usually characters talk and behave in a manner that adds to the overall character of the film. The personality of the film in some manner dictates how each person should talk and behave. Talvar breaks it, and brings it as close to reality. There are no two of a kind. And they all speak in very different ways. It’s impossible to believe that one person was behind all their lines. In some sense finally hindi films are catching up with regional cinema.

I can’t pick a character who went wrong, because they leave no room for anyone to imagine them in any other way. Yes, but Irrfan just by his sheer presence elevates his role to make himself the face of this film. Even Prakash Belawadi and Gajraj Rao, are absolute scene stealers whenever they make an appearance. Down to the background cast, like even the bystanders are handpicked in such a manner that they were made for that role.

This film clearly proves that Meghna Gulzar belongs to a better pedigree.

Al Fucking Pacino

No. I didn’t go to watch Danny Collins. I don’t even know who the fuck he was. Maybe he was real, like the movie declares right in the beginning ‘This is a true story…ok a little bit of it’. That intro was just like in the movie ‘Salim langde pe mat ro’, where right in the beginning Salim says “ye apun ka story hai…beech beech mein thoda bandal merega…chalega na”….something like that. You know right then and there, that this is unlike any other. Yes…I was there to watch Al Pacino do something, some role of Danny Collins, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein…..whoever..I don’t know and I don’t care. I’m sure everyone in the theatre, though it was a few of them…were here for the same reason. To watch one man. Not Danny Collins. The movie began, and Al Pacino came. Just like how Al Pacino needs to make an entry. Under the arch lights with a thousand fans screaming for Danny Collins, a rockstar. And Al came in with a swagger, as the camera follows him from behind and enters a deafening stage. And outstretches his arms. And the crowd roars. And the popcorn stops. The man is back. That was Al Pacino making an entry. Not some Danny Collins. tumblr_lxpmrnomQm1r6bre1o1_500 Then Al Pacino performs for about 3 minutes. And Al Pacino exits the stage. And then suddenly it is Danny Collins who exits the stage. I forgot I was watching Al Pacino. No, it wasn’t The Godfather, The Scarface, Lt. Frank Slade…not any one of them. Who exited that stage was Danny Collins. I then realize that I am not supposed to be here to watch Al Pacino. I am supposed to be here to watch the story of Danny Collins. A rockstar who is in his sixties or seventies, who has lost the plot some 30 years ago. And still living off his past glory.al And he drew me in, and got me engrossed about some fucking Danny Collins who till then I didn’t give a fuck about. No, I wasn’t here to watch a movie on Steve Jobs, or Maragaret Thatcher or Gandhi or characters who I wanted to know more about. I was here singularly to watch one man, and that man vanished. Al Pacino made me forget Al Pacino. He made me notice every other character in the film. His manager. His wife. His son. His daughter-in-law, his granddaughter, the manager of the hotel he stayed in, the valet parking guy, the receptionist. And everyone else who were a part of Danny Collins’ story.danny He made me watch the story of a failing rockstar who is going through an existential crisis. It was just last night where I watched on youtube, legends like Robin Williams, Andy Garcia, Sean Connery, Oliver Stone, talking about the kickassness of this one man, at the AFI ceremony where they gave him the lifetime achievement award. I never saw that man in the movie. I saw Danny Collins. All I saw was an aging rockstar. A drunk drug addict trying hard to connect with his estranged son. Hitting on a middle aged hotel manager (played amazingly by Annette Bening), and trying hard to get her to agree for a dinner date with him. Saying some of the cheesiest lines like ‘I’ll check you out while you check me in’, delivered in such a sexy charming and funny manner, like he knows he’s being absolutely lame in his attempt. A superstar’s story narrated in the most human manner possible. I don’t know what the oscar boys are really looking for. But all I know is that in one scene in this movie, Al Pacino feels shit nervous about a new song he’s written, a song that he’s composed after 30 bloody years. that he’s about to perform to a small audience. And that small audience has his family in it. I can bet that every single person sitting in that theatre was feeling equally nervous. Like as if they were going to perform themselves. If someone can make you feel so much, like you are that person himself, I really don’t know what can be better than that for an actor. The best part of Al Pacino is that he doesn’t know and act like he’s Al Fucking Pacino. al 1

This world is a damn confusing place

mechanical-headfuck-1346681895Years after, many many years after I have passed out of school, college and every other form of education, I now hear from everyone around that ‘asking’ is the way of learning. It means an undying quest to learn. Someone told me that ‘Jiddu Krishnamoorthy’ is the dude who spreading this new funda.

I like it.

Since nobody told me this when I was in school (not that I had too many questions to ask), let me ask my set of questions before it is too late. My brain is filled with too many questions that is obstructing my day to day life. But not the kind of intelligent questions that Jiddu expects innocent kids to ask, but more stupid ones that are badly hampering my ‘ignorance is bliss’ existence. Questions that only seem to be bothering me, because when I look around, everyone seems damn happy. And if they aren’t, they have a very valid unanswerable existential question to fall back upon, like ‘What is the purpose of my life?’ kind of questions.

Well, till I get my own such brilliant question, I need answers for my stupid ones. So that I can then elevate my brain to higher level problems.

To begin with, now that I’m moving house, after a good seven bloody years, I’m dealing with one question that I can’t hold on to anymore. Why is a rent agreement the way it is? I mean, I cannot believe that lakhs and crores of people are drafting such agreements everyday without a brain haemorrhage.

I really want to meet this man who invented these words. Who the fuck says ‘hereinafter’ or ‘hereinbefore’?. Three words squeezed into one. They take simple words like ‘tenant’ and ‘landlord’ and  make them into lessee’s and lessor’s and squeeze them between un-punctuated threeinone words like hereinbefore and whomsoever and expand this simple negotiation of rent and deposit into a chapter from National Law School syllabus. And then this difficult chapter is then published on a stamp paper. I shudder to think how would they have drafted the Jan Lok Pal Bill. I’m sure it’s drafted with 6-in-1 words. Reason why it’s not getting cleared.

The real estate agent asked me “Saar, should I make agreement in 250 rupees stamp paper or 500?

“What is the difference?”

“Nothing saar. It’s totally your wish. I mean you can even do it even on 100 rupees. But difficult to get 100 rupee stamp paper saar.”

“But what is the advantage of making it on a 500 rupee stamp paper?”

“Saar…like that no advantage and all saar. It is totally dependent on you. Whatever you wish….but better 1000 rupee stamp paper saar.”

“Why?”

“Safer saar.”

Now, the only question that remains in my head is “Should I ponder over this or not?”. In the limited time that I have in this world, is this a question that is worth taking on or should I rather invest that time on ‘Bob Dylan’s lyrics’ and try to figure out what was he exactly trying to say in all his songs. Which would give me more fruitful results?

But honestly, how many of such basic questions can I procrastinate? I still need to set aside some time to think about why did they fuck our heads in school teaching us that the locomotive organ of amoeba is pseudopodia. I’ve been dying to use this piece of information ever since I gathered it. OR what really is the use of ‘Homo Sapiens’ when the whole world has come to terms with ‘Human Beings’? Was it some kind of a prank by some Latin bloke who is trying to preserve his language from going totally extinct.

I guess it would mean wasting reams and reams of paper by printing new text books. Which probably is more costly than this mistake. And on the stamp paper problem it would mean many typists, xerox people, real estate agents etc. would be out of a job if it weren’t so complicated. I have no choice than to simplify this in my head. While I’ve found my own coping mechanism to deal with these I still can’t find answers to some others which are eating me up alive.

images (1)Like the PNR. If it is the most important shit that most airline chaps, travel agents and world in general is keen about, why the fuck is it hidden away in some corner. And sometimes not even mentioned. Ha ha…did you know that PNR means Passenger Name Record. The airline way of making it seem all important, formal and crap. Actually I haven’t understood why is there no standard format for an air ticket. This seems like too small a crib, but it’s bigger than the ‘Homo Sapiens’ problem because it affects your life. Your day-to-day life. Because that guard who stops you to check your ticket at the entrance of the airport is groping all over the place. Just to figure out 3 things. Your name and where and when the fuck are you going? And just because this information is all over the place, he is too. And you are just standing in that queue wondering if you’ll make it. Or are you going to hear a Hollywoodish dialogue ‘Sorry, the captain has already signed the papers.”

I mean things that need to be big and bold need to be big and bold. and in a place where the eye can reach without wandering all over. Like in my newspaper, if only the date appeared big and bold then I wouldn’t be reading about Schumacher retiring and wondering why he keeps on retiring.

Talking about ‘difficult to read things’, the next in my hit list is manufacturing dates in that smudgy black ink. You first spend time in figuring out where the fuck is it tucked away? On the lid, under the carton, beside the price or some random corner…you then spend time figuring out if the 8 is a 8 or a 6, if the 4 is 1 or 7, or if 3 is an 8. And once you’ve locked in on your guess you then search for the expiry date that is hidden away in some other random place. ‘Best before 8 months from manufacture.’ Now that’s a good two minutes of my life which I could have spent listening to Raahat Fateh Ali Khan’s new track in Dedh Ishqiya which I have still not got the time to listen to, because I don’t have that 2 minutes.

images (2)I have just discovered that I am not busy. It’s just that the world is making me spend my time on the most futile shit. Spending it on getting OTPs for online transactions, registering my details on every stupid site, sorting my spam mail, trying to block linked-in mails, figuring out why there are 77 buttons on my TV remote, trying to reach customer care by jabbing 1 and then 4 and then 3 and then 5 and then 7 and then 8 and finally 9 to speak to the service advisor, inventing new passwords for expiring passwords, waiting for waiters, waiting for waiters to bring your order and then waiting for the bill and then waiting for the change, finding charging points for my phone, trying to figure out the private settings on facebook, opening a bubblegum, trying to separate the wrapper from bubblegum, searching for a bin to dispose the wrapper and then searching for a bin to dispose the bubblegum, and waiting for ads to finish on youtube, advance searching on google…I am sure that there is a good Al Pacino film waiting to be discovered by me in this time.

And in the meanwhile there are other questions that are threatening to baffle my innocent mind..

Why is an air conditioner measured in tonne’s when it should actually be the square feet it can cover?

Why is a refrigerator measured in litres…when it should be measured by size?

How can anyone buy a headphone without being able to try it before buying?

first-world-problems-internet-memeWhy is a Pepsi fridge-pack bottle-shaped and not square-shaped like Real juice to fit into your refrigerator? Or at least have a more stable bottom so that it doesn’t topple down every time I even tip-toe beside it.

Why don’t darshinis sell idlis in the evening?

And Colgate says ‘cavity protection’ on its pack. Shouldn’t it be ‘protection from cavities’?

All kids-wear brands have sizes in 18 to 24 months and then it jumps to size 4 to 5 years. So do 3 year olds have to walk naked or in oversized clothes?

How can they have a fall collection and spring collection in India when those seasons don’t exist here?

And for what joy does the Airtel ebill that has been mailed to my personal id need a password? Who would want to pay my bill?

Why is the word ‘curd’ not there in any default dictionary in a mobile phone? Okay, they call it yoghurt? Then why the fuck don’t they call ‘tofu’, bean yoghurt?

And thinking of curds, why does no ‘Set Dahi’ brand have a lid to seal it back instead of making us suffer by trying to precariously tear open that stupid silver foil and then reseal it?

What is 12 at night? Am or PM?

I have a Samsung A/c that has an anti-bacteria button. If it’s a feature in the A/C, why should I press a button to activate it? Under what circumstances would I not want anti-bacteria air?

Who is this man in the universe who can teach us how to exactly rip open an alpenliebe candy from its wrapper?

How can you call it ‘Food World’ and then sell soaps and brooms?

What the fuck can I do with a Aadhar card that I can’t do without?

If home theatres are sold with 5 output speakers and 7 output speakers, then what is 5.1 and 7.1? Why waste that ‘.’ and that ‘1’?

Why is the ‘domestic’ airport of Mumbai called Chatrapathi Sivaji International Airport?

Why do hotels make a big deal of their ‘welcome drink’ which is some shitty Fanta, and put ‘complimentary’ tags on their 12 rupee water bottles when they charge 10k a night? And not have latches in their bathrooms and faucets in their loos.

first-world-problems-19

I know these are first world problems and are way down in the list below ‘why is there war?’ or ‘deforestation should be stopped’ kind of problems.

But I’ll wait for my turn.

In the meanwhile I read this on the internet.”whatever material they made that ‘black box’ with, why the fuck can’t they make the entire airplane with that shit?”

I want to find out who wrote that and make him the president of the world.

The Bell v/s The Bull

(Recently, and after a long long time, I went through my last portfolio that is now 7 years old. And the first ad that I saw in it rang a bell. A loud loud bell. A loud fucking cycle bell.

This story will keep bloody digressing at every other point. I honestly know no other way to narrate it. I confess that I fib a lot in most of my stories, just to make it seem more exciting than it actually was. But this one’s true all the way. Not that the truth of this is exciting, but I can’t think of any better bullshit than its actual truth. So, here it is….just the way it was.)

Twenty minutes had passed and I was still staring at the first question in the paper,

“Is advertising an art or a science? Explain with arguments.” 30 Marks.

The invigilator kept pacing up and down beside me. My paper was blanker than my mind. I looked around. The silence kept reminding me about the importance of the event. I felt like an idiot to be answering this idiotic question after having spent 7 fucking years in advertising. Frankly I had no clue. Had I not been in it, maybe I could have written seven pages of academic bullshit. But experience had mind-fucked me so badly, that trying to find an answer that sounded true to myself was getting to be impossible. Because I knew that truth would fetch me no marks. Advertising was exactly the opposite of whatever text books made it out to be. I was trying hard to forget my experience and recollect the crap that the author of the prescribed textbook had written, who I was sure had never ever been in an agency.

As I kept pondering over that question, I was shadowed by a bigger question that was looming large over my head.

“Why the fuck am I writing this exam?”.

I spent some time thinking about this new improved question. Soon the question spiraled out of proportion and started to creep into every nook of my brain which was till then trying to find a simple answer to that stupid question in the paper.

I snapped out. And stared at that question again.

“It’s just plain fluke”

I scratched it out faster than I wrote it.

That was the truth. But too true to fetch me an MBA degree.

And I tried to think hard like the innocent ignorant MBA aspirants around me who were trying hard to remember the author’s attempt at this impossible question.

And then I heard a bell. A loud bell. No…..it wasn’t the exam bell. It was a shitty cycle bell ringing loud in my brain. A bell that drowned every other thought from creeping in. A bell that sounded much more important than the bullshit I was trying to craft.

Ok…Now come the digressions that I warned you about.

What the fuck is a cycle bell doing in this useless story?

Or more importantly or futilely,

Why was I giving an MBA exam after seven years in advertising?

Well, both are equally fuckall in their backstories. But let me start with the latter since my father plays a role in it. And I love my father. (So appa, this is for you. A story that I am sure you’ll never read. You would not care about. And you’ll certainly not be proud to know.)

After spending seven glorious years in servicing (yes, I was in servicing about six years back for about seven years. That’s a long time back but spending even a day doing that job makes it unforgettable) it struck me one day that I had been a bad student at college. It took me seven years of working to understand this. And I thought it would be important to get an MBA before they discover that I am not only bad at my job but also have a pathetic academic record. This insecurity eventually gave birth to wisdom and I decided to enroll myself into the cheapest, easiest and most non-interfering MBA programme available on the planet. People around convinced me that those 3 letters beside my name can actually help camoflage my incapability.

And my father had always instilled fear in me that my job was a transitionary illusionary phase. And soon the world will discover that I am neither qualified nor talented to do the kind of work that I was doing (Yes. I’m to be blamed. I had convinced him that it was as important as space research).

These mixed emotions attracted me to an M.B.A. degree offered by Symbiosis Centre for Distant Learning. A centre that was the answer to my father’s dreams which by then was getting equally distant. The fee was cheap shit. It offered those 3 letters. And yes. I had heard of Symbi…..and Symbi sounded cool to me.

I chose to do it. And cleared the first two semesters which I have no idea or memory as to how did that exactly happen. My father was ecstatic. Even more happy than me having gotten myself a job. That too, a job that was legal and that payed. But he had always been paranoid that the world will soon discover everything else about me that only he knew about. So this MBA was important for him. A kind of a shield that his son is earning to survive in this competent world, which he strongly believed, had no space for mediocrity.

But after clearing my 2nd semester, my brain started to generate new wisdom.

To join creative.

It commanded a lot of respect. And what was even better was that you could fake it. It was easy. You were granted that title by just being an appreciator of it. Which wasn’t possible on the other side. How much ever you appreciated mathematics, you still needed to be good at it to be respected. But with creativity it was easier. You just needed to passionate about it. And you could get away with it for a longer time. And no. You didn’t need no jack degrees to prove it. All you needed to do was moan and groan at every great piece of creative that you saw. And somehow you start sharing the credit for having created it.

I liked this concept. It seemed easier than the MBA mindfuck that I was going through.

I convinced the world that I was creative by faking orgasms over commercials that I barely understood. By appreciating art that I secretly puked on. And by having a strong opinion on any piece of creative that I was exposed to. I talked about performances, music, lighting and editing with authority. And yes it worked. I started to blend in with the creative crowd.

The planets rearranged themselves and soon I was in the creative department. Freely imagining any rubbish that I wanted to. It needed nothing. No MBA. No degrees. No shit. And I loved it. And I forgot all about the 2 remaining semesters and ofcourse those 3 important letters.

But my father did not.

“I don’t need this MBA anymore appa. I am now in creative.”

“I don’t care. A post-graduate degree is very essential to survive in today’s world. So you bloody well complete this course.”

Like all good advice, I found this uncool.

“But I took it up on my own. And I’m ditching it on my own. So why are you so concerned now. I am now in the creative department. They don’t give a shit even if you haven’t passed your tenth. So even if I do this shit, it won’t make jack of a difference.”

My father already hated this department which had no regard for logic, knowledge and precious education.

“It will. Even if it makes no difference to anyone, it will to me. I can atleast feel proud of my son. You cannot now give up in the 3rd semester.”

“But what is stopping you from feeling proud about me now. I have a job.”

The silence that followed made all the gas that I had been giving him all these years, evaporate into nothingness. He really didn’t believe that I was saving the planet. No. Not even the country, Not even my city. Not even my locality. Not even my street. No…..Not even his trust in me (why do I get this feeling that the last one broke the progression of the descending order?).

So there I was back at my MBA. Writing the exams for the 3rd semester.

Writing the paper on advertising. And I hated it. I hated it because my head was blank. After having spent 7 fucking years, I didn’t know if advertising was an art or a science. I mean, after seven years, who the hell cared what advertising was all about. It was about chasing artworks, negotiating deadlines and indulging in screaming matches. And ads were born out of confusion and clashing egos. It had no academic answer.

Advertising was all about guessing and gassing.

The guess was the art. And the gas was the science. And sometimes vice-versa.

This was the answer experience had taught me. And I had not bothered to read what the text book version of this was.

I couldn’t get beyond the first damn question.

But I still had to fill that answer sheet with some shit. Something. Anything, so that my father could believe that I was actually fit enough to do what I was doing.

But the cycle bell kept coming in the way. Ringing louder and louder. Till my brain went deaf and my pen went dumb.

Yes. Now to digression No. 2.

What the fuck is a useless cycle bell doing in this useless story?

Vivek Kakkad. The bastard who wanted a cycle bell. A cycle bell in the middle of my exam. The exam of my life.

Vivek Kakkad was an art director. An art director who was genuinely creative. He was so good at his job, that he had earned the license to be a bastard. A bastard who knew that the world loved his work. And would do anything to get their stupid ideas art directed by him and elevate them out of their mediocrity. He could make crap look good. And he eventually decided to only make good look even better. He was choosy and strongly opinionated. He would never work on something that he did not believe in. It seems like a good virtue, but only to those who weren’t victims to his high standards.

Kakkad had built a good portfolio. He also got himself some awards. He got himself a deadly job in Mumbai. And he was all set to go.

And being a good art director he knew how to paint a great picture of the world outside. And it is dangerous to hang around with people who are serving their notice period. They suddenly begin to look great. They seem wanted in this world. And you seem unwanted. And slowly this difference begins to grow in gigantic proportions, till the point where you begin to hate yourself.

I always felt Kakkad sniggering whenever he passed by. He would look at that shitty dangler that you were working on while he was busy packing up for the day with an expression on his face that read “Rot in hell you fuckers. I’m off….”

I had only one desire to be fulfilled before Kakkad left. He was yet to art direct an idea that I had come up with, which he had surprisingly liked.

About a month earlier I had told him about an idea that I was scamming on.

“Dude. It’s for cycles. You know….what’s the good thing about cycling. You see more stuff around you. You notice those little things that bring a smile to your face. Like some kids playing in the park. Or some stupid dog chasing its tail. So we just show these small joyful everyday scenes that happen around us and sign off “Life looks beautiful on a cycle”.

Kakkad took a long drag from his cigarette and smiled.

“It’s sexy man. I like it. I’ll art direct it for you.”

I was thrilled to bits. This was the first time that Kakkad had actually liked an idea of mine. It was like a Cannes moment.

“We could do it for Hero Cycles or some such thing. And send it to them and see what happens.”

“Ya.”

We spoke about this idea in great detail. So much that it had lost all thrill and juice. And what remained was only getting down to do it. Which was invariably the most boring part.

Kakkad kept pushing it. I kept reminding him. And it later seemed like he had now lost interest in the idea.

And he was leaving in a day. Forever.

And just before I walked into the exam hall my phone rang. It was Kakkad. And it was a Saturday.

“Dude. I’m in the office.”

“So?”

“I have come all the way to execute your idea. The cycle one.”

“Fuck dude! Finally. Thanks man.”

“Ya. Screw your thanks. Shut the fuck up and get here with a cycle bell.”

“A cycle bell. For what?”

“I want to sign off with the visual of a cycle bell with The Hero Cycles logo on it. It’s got a good feeling about it.”

“Ya…it’s a nice idea…but I’m about to enter an exam hall man.”

“I don’t care dude. If you get here in the next hour with a bell, I’ll do the ad for you or you can pedal your cycle to some other art director….ha ha ha ha ha”.

Kakkad had now become an expert in being a bastard. And it was a trait that he was proud of. And when he makes mean statements like these you never know if he’s joking or serious. And it is always serious when you think otherwise.

To me suddenly this little cycle idea become the most important one in my portfolio. It seemed like my passport to stardom. I picturised my portfolio beginning with it. And imagined creative directors going gaga over it. It even reached the Cannes podium. I knew that I had to get it done.

But I was there sitting in the middle of an exam, sitting and staring at the first question.

Is advertising an art or a science?

Right now it was a bully. A bully named Kakkad.

The answer to the question could fetch me an MBA degree that my pop needed for reasons best known to nobody. And getting out of that exam hall and buying a cycle bell meant a fancier job. Fame. More money.

I timed myself. For 45 minutes. And wrote whatever the fuck I pleased.

And ran out of the hall. And reached office with the prescribed cycle bell, infact 4 options of it.

Kakkad looked at it and smiled.

“I like this bell. By the way, what fucking exam was that?”

“My MBA crap dude”

“Ha ha…so what paper was it today?”

“Advertising”

Kakkad laughed till he fell off his chair.

I realized why he laughed so much, much later.

I cleared my MBA but got the least marks for advertising.

Maybe it was because of all the bull I wrote.

But I got a fancier job with a fancier pay.

And maybe it was because of The Bell.

The damn cycle bell.

The lonely roller coaster ride-part 2

Kannan, his assistant and I bundled into an Omni along with Kannan’s paraphernalia, looking like an ad for Omni’s spacious interiors. He had brought enough equipment to shoot the flora and fauna of The Amazon. I was feeling disgusted that all this drama was for some crappy brochure. I felt guilty. And I’d have stopped myself from feeling that way if I knew that this guilt would slowly graduate to pity.

I had spent a lot of time hating Kannan and had gotten bored, so just for variation I changed it from hatred to pity for a little while.

After all he was just a passionate guy going about his job. I had no reason to be pissed off.

The journey to Niladri amusement park was about 2 hours. I had stayed awake the previous night thinking about ‘what the fuck to talk about during the journey’ and had narrowed down on a few topics that could maybe work.

“So you like Bollywood?” I started with my favorite topic.

“No”

With this answer Kannan had straightaway knocked out the conversations I had planned for half the journey.

This left me with only two other topics. ‘How did I land up in advertising?’ or ‘How did he land up in photography?’.

I instinctively knew that he cared two hoots about the first one. And I was scared approaching the second.

So I saved them for later. And spent time looking out of the window at Shilpa Medicals and Chandu Tailors and New Modern Hair Drassars and other shop boards to keep myself occupied. Kannan kept polishing his lenses one by one throughout the journey. And Kannan’s assistant polished them again before packing them back in their cases. I wish they’d let me polish them too since they made it look so engrossing.

I waited till we hit the highway. The sign boards were fewer. And I had memorized every pattern of the seats inside the van. And Kannan had finished polishing every single spare part in his bag.

I decided to launch the topic that I had kept reserved.

“So Kannan, how did you end up being a photographer?”

Kannan’s adam’s apple moved up and down to clear the lump in his throat. And he looked like he was going to burst into tears.

“I believe that destiny chooses you. Not you choose your destiny.”

By the time I could find the connection between the answer and the question, the driver jammed his brakes for a speed breaker. Kannan gave me a look which made me feel the need to probe further to unearth the wisdom in those lines.

“So how did it all happen?”

“I thought I just told you”

“Ok…destiny chose you….how?”

“Ask destiny”

I had half a mind to tell him “Fuck it man. I wish I had destiny as my companion. Instead I have you…so cock up and answer.” but “Ha ha…you are so right” is all that I could say for the sake of that shitty brochure that was on my lap waiting to transform itself into an artwork in two days.

“I hope there is someone there to guide us” Kannan spoke to the roof of the vehicle.

“Ya. I guess while destiny always chooses a different path it still expects us to be its guide.” I replied trying to sound as close to the lyrics of his favorite song.

“I’m talking about Niladri Park…is there someone out there to guide us?”

“Oh…ok…ya there is someone.”

That’s the problem of being an AE. People think you have no right to intrude into worldly wise discussions. You are not allowed to speak anything outside of your joblist.

My pity for him ended and I reverted to the initial emotion.

I hated Kannan. And I could not admit that I hated Kannan. Just like I could not admit that I hated that brochure. That client. My job. Niladri Water Park. The Omni I was travelling in. The driver who kept jamming his brakes. And Kannan’s assistant’s red ears. NO. My job was to not just conceal my hatred but also make it seem we were off bungee jumping to the alps.

“I think the shoot will be fun, don’t you think so?” It sounded like shit after I said it.

”      ” kannan replied.

I spent some time remembering motivational quotes on perseverance and hard work and positive attitude and other such jazz written by people who were lucky enough to escape from it.

These self development techniques helped me kill some time before we reached the amusement park that was waiting for the jokers to arrive.

Niladri opened its gates for the first time to any visitor. It was still under completion though most of the rides were already installed.

Kannan got straight to work. He inspected the tiles in close quarters and mid quarters with some yogic poses.

And I inspected the rides in the amusement park in close quarters, mid quarters and more quarters than Kannan examined the tiles. According to me my job was over. The next job in my list was to arrange lunch. Ofcourse I had other parental tasks of calling the client periodically to assure him that his brochure was being looked after.

So while Kannan was unpacking his 967 items, out of which only 2 or 3 were needed, I took a stroll around the amusement park.

There was a water slide. And another massive roller coaster with a track that took you to a great height and then plunged into a pool of water. And a giant tora tora. And some dashing boats. And some other exciting rides.

It was empty with not a soul in sight. I returned from this little investigation back to the most boring spot in the location. The part where Kannan stood.

He looked like a killjoy amidst all these joy rides. I sat down nearby watching him assemble his camera that had more parts than a Lego toy.

Kannan’s assistant was handing him over the parts one by one. And then I suddenly remembered that I had never heard his voice. I didn’t know how it sounded. Did he have a booming voice inside that skeleton? Or was his voice squeaky?

I tried exploring this pastime and went up to him.

“Are you hungry?’

He nodded his head in a manner that could have meant a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ or a ‘I hate you because my boss hates you’.

“Shall I get something to eat?”

He repeated the same action.

He had no idea how important it was for me to hear his voice. I took a special interest in him. I relied on his company for the rest of the day.

Kannan barked back ‘no we have eaten’ which sounded like ‘leave us alone’.

I walked back and took a seat in the parapet.

Kannan had finally finished assembling half of his father’s earnings. And took the aperture readings.

And he suddenly started to look gloomy.

I was worried, and then I realised that it was not him this time, but the weather.

Kannan looked above, and before he could start weeping, the skies broke open and it began to rain.

Kannan’s assistant dived and rescued the machine as Kannan and me ran for cover.

It poured and poured like mad. And the three of us stood under a nearby ledge that extended about 5 ft.

The next shelter was around 500 meters away.

We watched the rain like we were watching a movie. Kannan stood in the corner balancing himself from not getting drenched and at the same time making sure he did not brush against any part of my body.

“Oh no. What rains!” I restarted conversation.

Silence.

“This is crazy”

Silence

“I mean it was so sunny and suddenly such rains. This is crazy.”

Silence.

I had found a new relief with this popular topic of bonding. The weather. And still noone wanted to participate. I had never seen this topic fail so miserably before. I continued trying to save the interestingness of rains.

“I hope we will be able to complete the shoot”

Silence

“Outdoor shoots are so risky. You can never tell.”

Silence

“Wow. Such nice weather. It would be great to have some hot tea.”

Silence

“The trees look so beautiful in the rains”

Silence

I tried cutting the weather in every possible angle. But nothing seemed to work.

Kannan put a cigarette in his mouth and reached out for a matchbox. His matches were wet. And I had a lighter in my pocket. I waited for him to ask me.

Kannan kept smoking his unlit cigarette. And I took out my lighter and tried lighting it up for him. And the lighter failed. And so did the opportunity of bringing back conversation into our stupid lives.

Being cramped in that space, every minute felt like an hour. And suddenly Kannan spoke.

“Do you realize?”

“Realize what?”

“Probably even God is in disagreement. This is his way of making us realize that we are doing something wrong. And that’s why He’s stopping us from doing it.”

Approximately 6 blood vessels burst inside my head. I thought that the battle was over. But Kannan’s brain was severely damaged.

“So what do you want to shoot?’

“Nothing. I don’t think we have given this enough thought. I can promise you that I will not be able to give you a picture that I’m satisfied with.”

“Ok. So give me one that you aren’t satisfied with.”

“Listen pal, this is not just a camera. It does not take pictures. It is a machine that paints my imaginations. I worship it. And I will not misuse it.”

It was only then I realised that Kannan was not suicidal. He had a strong desire to be murdered.

“You should not have taken up this project if you weren’t convinced.”

“Yes. You are right. I should not have taken up this project.”

“So is the shoot cancelled?’

“No. I will give you what you want. But I will take no money from you.”

I had no idea how to respond to this philanthropic offering. It was too long a journey to go searching for my conscience. It was the first thing that had been frisked off me when I took up this job.

So I tried dealing with the situation without one.

“Ok. Cool.”

It also sounded cool.

The rain suddenly stopped like God was in agreement with this settlement.

And Kannan got back to work. And started setting up all over again.

“Now you decide what you want me to shoot? And I’ll just shoot it.”

I think that line was meant to move me to tears and make me grovel with shame.

“Ok”

“Oh. So you’re ok.”

“Yes. I’m Ok with that.”

And Kannan continued setting up his imagination painting machine.

But the rain had created puddles all over. And we had to wait for it to dry up.

With silence as company.

Kannan’s assistant and me yawned at each other. Even with this, Kannan made sure to not bond by suppressing the yawns inside his elongated face.

A horrible looking frog hopped by making me notice his species after a long time. I started to fall in love with the frog.

I followed it like an inquisitive seeker to get away from the situation.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

“What’s this?’ I asked the first human being I spotted in the environment after a long time.

“It’s a water slide” the human being replied. The human being was an employee of Niladri water park, whose job was to hang around till the water park declared itself open to public. He looked bored. I looked bored. And we kept giving the ‘so what do we do?’ type look to each other.

“This trolley goes up all the way, and then comes down in full speed and plunges into this pool of water” The human being explained the funda behind the contraption.

It sounded exciting. I was getting tempted. But wasn’t sure if this was the right time to indulge in any form of entertainment. Kannan had so badly infected the air with his funereal mood strongly banning any form of joy from entering the premises.

But I also got a strange joy from seeing him depressed. I had had enough. This was one of those rare moments where I could slip into joy without being noticed. I had no boss around. I had no client around. It was like ‘Joy’ was making me a limited period offer.

“Want a ride?” the human being asked me noticing the deprivation of happiness in my life.

I nodded.

Kannan, his assistant and the tiles surrounding him zoomed out in my vision as I sat in the trolley that took me high up above. I realized that sometimes true joy meant distancing yourself from depression more than anything else.

I sat there in a roller coaster, all by myself, with the wind blowing on my face. The world beneath me looked like a tiny speck. As an AE, I had no option but to take refuge in these momentary metaphorical delusions of life. I felt like a king.

I could faintly hear Kannan’s assistant screaming something below.

The trolley now reacted to gravity and all the weight that was weighing me down got thrown around in a blur. As I momentarily freed myself away from deadlines, clients, brochures, creativity and other such idiotic entrapments.

It was the most exhilarating feeling. I screamed loudly in a decibel that would have matched a fully loaded roller coaster. I felt happy to be probably the only man who went on a roller coaster ride all alone.

Splash.

I had water all over my face and body. I was cleansed from the misery that this project brought along with it.

Suddenly I cared a fuck about anything and everything that I was responsible for.

I could hear Kannan’s assistant louder and clearer now.

He stood beside me mumbling some crap. It took a while before I could make out what he was saying.

“Sir, Boss says that if you are not there he will have to bill you for this project.”

“So, let him bill me.”

Yes. I realized that Kannan was taking me on a ride. But he had no clue how much I enjoyed it.