Saturday, December 30, 2006

German Silent Cinema

A great and very informative documentary on German silent cinema. German expressionism is one of my favourite "national cinema." My first introduction to these films was curiously the famous book From Caligari to Hitler by Siegfried Kracauer. It was there in my college library and though I hadn't seen any of the movies I was captivated by the book. Though to be honest I didn't really read it in full, it was a little too dense for me. I got a chance to see some of these films a couple of years later at a "film festival" organized by the Goethe Institute in Bangalore. So in the course of one week I managed to see The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, Faust, Golem and Metropolis. Every one of them was something I had never seen before. They are still startling. All highly recommended. Later I managed to see Murnau's The Last Laugh and Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel which are not really expressionist films but had elements of expressionism. Fritz Lang's M was another masterpiece. I really love all these films. Haven't seen anything by Pabst or Lubitsch yet. They are still in the to-see list.

The video is actually a part of a series on the history of European Cinema. You can watch the first episode here. Rest are on the right sidebar.

Murnau's Nosferatu is also on the google video.

A good primer on German Expressionism.

Wow! Fritz Lang's M and Scarlet Street are also there!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

More Best Movies List

Another comprehensive year-end poll.

I am surprised by all the praise Borat has got. After managing to avoid it for long I saw it last Sunday and was extremely irritated by it. With the kind of praise and news coverage it has received one would feel that it is some kind of A Modest Proposal of our times whereas it is anything but. It is juvenile, shallow and pointless. Avoid it if you haven't seen it already.

If you need some laughs and are near the New York area there is no better place to visit this whole month than this.

Three German Words

I learned three German Words (or rather concepts) yesterday. Actually I knew one of these before (the first one) but anyway here they are:


All from this essay by Cynthia Ozick. All of these are, she says, "Wagnerian emotions." Its a wonderful essay about how a German rabbi rescued her from romanticism. Lots of complicated things though.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Year in Books - Part 1 (Fiction)

Following is pretty much everything I read in fiction this year. There were few more which I left incomplete either disappointed or postponed for future. First section contains masterpieces (Five out of five stars) followed by good book and finally a list of disappointments though still interesting books.

The Melancholy of Resistance (Laszlo Krasznahorkai): This Hungarian novel will certainly be the book of the year for me. I was aware of the events described in the book and had read about Krasznahorkai's style (long, serpentine sentences, paragraph-less chapters and no dialogues only monologues, everything I look for in a novel these days by the way) but I was still startled by it -- by its vehemence, its depth and complexity of vision, its humour, the satirical skill and the seriousness of Krasznahorkai's intent. It is not an easy book to read (it took more than three weeks of dedicated reading) and the subject matter and conclusion couldn't be darker and bleaker, it is almost like a three hundred page illustration of the philosophy of nihilism but it was still exhilirating. It is also one of funniest novels I have read in a while. At more than a few occasions I had to sit upright, fold the book, had a good laugh and then get back to reading again.

Krasznahorkai is still more known in the anglophone world for his collaboration in Bela Tarr's film projects, though Tarr himself remains a highly obscure and marginal figure in the international art house cinema. But still if you search on the internet you will get to read a lot of the movie Werckmeister Harmonies but very little about the novel. The back cover of the novel rather proudly carries enthusiastic endorsements from such eminent personalities like W G Sebald ("its vision rivals that of Gogol's Dead Souls and far surpasses all the lesser concerns of contemporary writing") and Susan Sontag ("An inexorable, visionary book by the contemporary Hungarian master of apocalypse who inspires comparison with Gogol and Melville. Krasznahorkai’s novel is both an anatomy of desolation, desolation at its most appalling, and a stirring manual of resistance to desolation – through inwardness.") I also agree with Waggish's comment about Krasnahorkai's only other novel translated into English War And War which was published earlier this year. He says, "Krasznahorkai's achievement is to draw from the deepest, thorniest tradition of European novels, that of Musil, Bachmann, and Bernhard, and give it contemporary political relevance." The same can be said of this novel too. It eloquently reminds us of the grim political situation of the contemporary world, when the only choices that remain open to us are either the self-righteous fascism of Bush And Company on the one side and the anarchy and chaos of religious terrorists on the other. I really don't think I should add my own enthusiastic recommendation when such intelligent people have already done the same, but anyway I will urge you to read it, give this book the patience and effort it requires and you won't be disappointed. Krasznahorkai's official website is also worth browsing.

The Emigrants (W G Sebald): The Rings of Saturn was my favourite book of last year and this year it is The Emigrants. In between I have also managed to read Vertigo, Austerlitz and his two essay collections Campo Santo and Natural History of Destruction (so far as I could understand parts of it, unfamaliar as I am with most of modern German literature which is the subject of these essays). The Emigrants is I think my favourite book though The Rings of Saturn is perhaps the most ambitious and accomplished. It is an extremely painful book to read, the way Sebald plumbs the depths of unimaginable grief in his four "biographical" narratives about lives thwarted and wasted by arbitrary forces of history, I have never encoutered anything like it before.

The Loser, Wittgenstein's Nephew and Frost (Thomas Bernhard): I don't think I should bore my regular readers with more Bernhard enthusiasms. I am glad I discovered him this year. I am looking forward to reading his other books soon. If you have some doubts about how relentless pursuit of negativity can ever be meaningful you should get hold of some of his books.

The Radetzky March (Joseph Roth): Another death obsessed Austrian. The Radetzky March starts like a conventional nineteenth century realistic novel but you soon realize how everything that Roth describes in the book is filtered through his dark vision of history as a sequence of one destructive event after another. A dark masterpiece.

The Complete Short Novels (Anton Chekhov):
This was a collection of five short novels all around a hundred pages or so that I read early this year. The emotional terrain and the style is the same he uses in his stories but I found these longer works more interesting. I specially loved the first two novels, The Duel and The Steppe. Rest are also quite good. Wonderfully evocative writing about lives wasted by melancholy, thwarted ambitions and all kinds of quiet desperation.

Eugene Onegin (Alexander Pushkin):Eugene Onegin is notoriously hard to translate. It famously ended the decades long friendship of Nabokov and Edmund Wilson. Reading it is frustrating in a way because you never know whose voice it is that is coming through. But still the wit, the character portraits and the psychological insights make it more than just worth reading. And if you, like me, are old fashioned and illiterate enough to prefer poetry with rhyming stanzas you will love it even more.

The Possessed (Fyodor Dostoevsky): A dark masterpiece from the great Russian master. It also contains a lot of really hilarious caricatures and is quite funny.

A Hero Of Our Time (Mikhail Lermontov): It is almost like an illustration and sketch of a self-consciously Byronic type. After reading it and Onegin I felt so close to these two heroes. I felt like going to a duel too but alas, we live in such philistine and shameless age! There are no duels anymore!!

By Night in Chile (Roberto Bolano): I am eagerly waiting for Bolano's The Savage Detectives which is getting published in April. It won all the major prizes of the Spanish speaking world a few years ago and it should create lots of news here too. By Night in Chile is a brisk and breathless read, a fantastic tour through the grim recent history of Chile. It is also sad and ironical in a way that Pinochet managed to outlive Bolano. But there is at least no doubt who history will judge more favourably.


Saturday (Ian McEwan): We all think about most of the same things as Henry Perowne but we never quite manage to find words and sentences like McEwan does for his protagonist. The novel suffers only when McEwan decides to turn into a regular novel by introducing a presposterous thriller element into the plot in the last act. He could have kept it essayistic and it still would have been a great success.

Embers (Sandor Marai): Another very good Hungarian novel with lots of wisdom about love, friendship and life, though I thought it perhaps suffered in translation because it was a little inconsistent in its style and the prose sounded flat, plain and feature-less at places.

Enduring Love (Ian McEwan): How far a scientific view of life can go to? Ian McEwan analyses brilliantly in this novel about love and obsession.

First Love/Spring Torrents (Ivan Turgenev):Bitter-sweet love stories from another Russian master. I loved both of these novellas.

The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta (Mario Vargas Llosa): A grim political novel set in author's home country Peru, a fantastic portrait of a Trostkyist revolutionary. It is sadder once you realize that Mayta is not just an individual and isolated figure but also a type and a template.


Never let me go (Kazuo Ishiguro): Ishiguro is a great writer but sorry, this was mostly mills and boon stuff. Reading it I also felt as if he learnt all the science in it by reading B-Grade sci-fi books. It is just a bundle of sci-fi cliches. There are moments of authentic emotion but they are not enough to salvage it. It is still a good timepass though.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Spark):
Why is this book so famous? I found it so shallow and the writing was so plain!

Lust (Elfriede Jelinek): I feel bad about putting the only two women writers I read this year in the disappointment category but really I found this book to be written in an extremely cavalier style. She even mixes metaphors and in order to drive away cliches she drives away coherence too. I felt bad about it because I couldn't be more sympathetic to Jelinek's basic idea that Capitalism and Male Sexuality they both are dehumanising forces and they both work by commodifying human beings into property to be owned. But it really doesn't work at that level of feminist polemic either.

Solaris (Stanislaw Lem):
I read it in less than ideal circumstances so it may be that I missed something. I found it extremely boring and this from someone who is a big fan of the movie adaptations, both by Tarkovsky and Steven Soderbergh.

Amsterdam (Ian McEwan): How did it win the booker?

Some Hindi Books: I had gone home to Patna in the summer and read some hindi books there. I wrote about some of them here. I wanted to write about some more hindi books but couldn't do it. It is so difficult to find the contextual information about hindi literature if you are away from the cowbelt (and even there it is actually very difficult) which is needed to fully understand any work. I hope more educated and informed readers would add more resources to websites like wikipedia and make it more easily avaialable to other people interested. Phanishwar Nath Renu's entry on the wikipedia for example has some information about him, I added and corrected a few things too. Will try to find something to write about later.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Year End Thoughts

As I was trying to compile a list of books I read this year (and I read enough to have a top ten list of books) I was thinking how I have spent the entire year inside my head thinking about things which have absolutely nothing to do with my immediate life, at least in concrete terms. Also how most of these books more or less were all unmistakably "dark". I didn't read a single book which made me "feel good" (in the conventional sense of the phrase), though I did feel elated in a different way after reading most of them. Death, Grief, Sadness, Homelessness, Separation, Melancholy, Isolation, Doom were things my mind was occupied with.

Also it is perhaps because of those books that I have spent most of the year in a state of calm, lucid and passive depression. Sometimes I felt the detachment and disinterest became a little too much, specially when it was interfering in my work and regular wordly duties but I managed to negotiate a middle path most of the time. But other times I religiously avoided talking to people, attending parties, get-togethers and almost every other social ritual, like going to movies with other people for example. This blog was more or less my entire existence as a social being.

I also felt extremely tired throughout the year. I don't know whether books were the cause or effect. Most of the time the only physical activity I felt like doing was holding a book in front of my face. Anything more was too much strain on my body. Sigh. I am now thinking about the new year. I am not going to make any new year's resolutions. I think I will have some more time with myself before going back to the normal life.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Year in Movies

The Indie Wire Critics poll of the year's best movies is worth browsing. In the top 20 I have seen The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, L'Enfant, Inland Empire, Army of Shadows, Half Nelson and Volver. I could have seen more and some of them didn't even require any extra effort (The Departed, The Queen) since they played in nearby multiplexes but somehow I just didn't feel like going. I think this year wasn't as good for movies as last year or perhaps I was suffering from movie (and general) fatigue. I rarely felt excited about any new release. Even from the above list only Inland Empire and Army of Shadows left some lasting impressions and managed to surprise me.

My best movie going experiences of the year were mostly of classics in new prints on big screen: The 35mm screenings of L'Avventura (which is also my favourite film ever) and The Third Man both of which were revelations even though I have seen both on DVD numerous times. I had never seen Mizoguchi's Sansho the Bailiff and the French film Army of Shadows directed by Jean Pierre Melville before (it was released in the US for the first time this year) and was extremely impressed by both. I also enjoyed, for the few months I was in Bangalore during the summer, going to the collective chaos film society. Two most memorable movies were (on DVD projection) Bela Tarr's Damnation and 2046 by Wong Kar Wai. They were both very good and I was seeing 2046 for may be fifth or sixth time...

What else... as for DVD viewings I am still catching up with the classics I have not seen before. I hadn't seen any films by Danish director Carl Dreyer before for example and I found Day of Wrath and Ordet both simply astonishing. I liked them more than his more famous silent masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Other director who I discovered this year was the Hungarian Bela Tarr. Besides Damnation I have now seen Werckmeister Harmonies and Satantango too. All these films intially will feel as if they are deliberately designed to test the viewer's patience but I think it is beyond doubt that they are all works of a very serious and visionary artist, or rather I should use the plural "Artists" because the films are made in collaboration with the writer Lazlo Krasznahorkai and editor Agnes Hranitzky and they take joint credits for them. Tarr's style may look pretentious but after you have spent some time staring at his images his stylistic choices would start making sense. I am also currently reading The Melancholy of Resistance on which Werckmeister Harmonies is based and is simply one of the best novels I have read all of this year, or perhaps in the last few years too.

A few other films which surprised me with their intelligence (all of them French): Michael Haneke's Code Unknown (certainly the most important European filmmaker currently working) is a searing examination of the travails of a life in multicultural and (post)modern cities, in this case Paris. I had found Cathetine Breillat's Romance, an exercise in juvenile feminist provocation extremely silly and offensive but she more than made up for that in her film Fat Girl. Another film which really took me by surprise. Laurent Cantet's Human Resources reminded me of Fassbinder's Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven. Just like the Fassbinder's movie it brilliantly blends emotional family drama with agitprop politics. Simple, Heartbreaking and Brilliant.

Other honourable mentions:

The Head Scratcher of the Year: In Praise of Love by Jean Luc Godard. What was it that I exactly saw, that was the question which haunted me for many days after I saw that film. Was it like one of those poems which are not supposed to be understood or perhaps my faculties were still not as developed. Reading reviews didn't help either. Everybody was similarly sratching their heads.

The Headscratcher of the year alongwith a headache: L'Intrus by Claire Denis. I had such raging headache while watching it. My be I tried too hard understanding what was going on. Towards the end every note of the background score was like a hammer blow on the head.

The Most Disgusting and Offensive Piece of Trash: L'Humanite by Bruno Dumont. There was something in the film which really really rubbed me the wrong way. I have rarely felt irritated like it before.

The Most Boring film of the Year: The Puppetmaster by Hou Hsio-Hsien. I don't know how many times this movie put me to sleep. Every time before going to sleep I felt like shouting "MOVE IT" because the camera never moves in the entire film. I guess some people will similarly shout "CUT IT" while watching Bela Tarr's films but that depends on tastes.

The film I didn't finish: The Piano by Jane Campion. Boring and pointless. Even the excellent score by Michael Nyman could't convince me to complete it.

(And in keeping with the theme of this blog)The Melancholy Character of the Year: Gunnar Bjornstrand playing the priest battling with his doubts and other demons in Bergman's Winter Light. Simply brilliant.

I am hoping the new year will be better...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More from Melancholy of Resistance

Nothing energises me like a good dose of well-written misanthropy... Mr Eszter is taking a walk on the streets of his town and encounters filth on the pavement. this is what he thinks...

It was, after all, as if the earth had opened up beneath him, revealing what lay underneath the town, or, and he tapped at the pavement with his stick, as if some terrible putrescent marsh had seeped through the thin layer of asphalt to cover everything. A marsh in a bog, thought Eszter, the essential fundamentum of the place, and standing there for a while in vacant contemplation he suddenly had a vision of the houses, trees, lampposts and advertisement hoardings sinking right through it. Could this, he wondered, be a form of the last judgment? No trumpets, no riders of the apocalypse but mankind swallowed without fuss or ceremony by its own rubbish? 'Not an altogether surprising end,' thought Eszter, adjusting his scarf, then, having come to this neat full stop and considering his own investigations at an end, prepared to move off.

The book is quite dense at places. I have been trying to read up on the theory of "musical temperament" which I think is the central idea of the novel and most of it is totally Greek for me. One of the central figures in the novel Mr Eszter (who is taking a walk in the above passage), a figure almost out of a Thomas Bernhard novel, is obsessed with returning the musical instruments to pure tuning based on mathematical relations between the harmonics (he calls it "musical resistance"). The European classical music as it is practiced is based on "well tempered system" (one of which was invented by the musicologist Andreas Werckmeister) which doesn't follow this whole number approach. He then connects all of this to philosophy about "the existence of the platonic realm" or "the existence of the order in the universe." Mr. Eszter however only meets with miserable failure in his pursuits because Bach and Beethoven sound like "ear-splitting racket" on instruments tuned on "natural" harmonics. I think Krasznahorkai wants us to conclude that our universe is defined by disorder, chaos and anarchy and in political terms (it is primarily a novel about politics) it means that authoritarianism and fascism are the only way of imposing order.

I am yet to finish the book, around fifty pages are left. Will try to write more when I am done. I was reading about the music theory in the wikipedia but didn't really understand what it was all about. He gives some background in the book too but it was not enough for someone as ignorant about classical music as me. There is a brief monologue in the movie too which, needless to say, didn't make much sense to me either when I watched it.

from The Anatomy of Melancholy

I finally got my own copy of The Anatomy of Melancholy last weekend from a used book store. This is not the kind of book which one reads from beginning to end, just pick up a random chapter and read a few pages. It is funny in a strange sort of way. One extract from the book from the "third partition" dedicated exclusively to "Love-Melancholy"... (more here. the latin translations are from this edition of the book)

Symptoms or signs of Love-Melancholy, in Body, Mind, good, bad, etc.

Symptoms are either of body or mind; of body, paleness, leanness, dryness, etc. Pallidus omnis amans, color hic est aptus amanti [pale is every lover, this hue beseemeth love], as the poet describes lovers: fecit amor maciem, love causeth leanness. Avicenna de Ilishi, c. 33. "makes hollow eyes, dryness, symptoms of this disease, to go smiling to themselves, or acting as if they saw or heard some delectable object." Valleriola, lib. 3. observat. cap. 7. Laurentius, cap. 10. Ælianus Montaltus de Her. amore. Langius, epist. 24. lib. 1. epist. med. deliver as much, corpus exangue pallet, corpus gracile, oculi cavi [the body bloodless and pale, a lean body, hollow eyes], lean, pale,-- ut nudis qui pressit calcibus anguem, "as one who trod with naked foot upon a snake," hollow-eyed, their eyes are hidden in their heads,-- Tenerque nitidi corposis cecidit decor [their sleep charm falls away], they pine away, and look ill with waking, cares, sighs.

"Et qui tenebant signa Phœbeæ facis
Oculi, nihil gentile nec patrium micant."

["And eyes that once rivalled the locks of Phœbus, lose the patrial and paternal lustre."]

With groans, griefs, sadness, dullness,

--"Nulla jam Cereris subi
Cura aut salutis" --

want of appetite, etc. A reason of all this, Jason Pratensis gives, "because of the distraction of the spirits the liver doth not perform his part, nor turns the aliment into blood as it ought, and for that cause the members are weak for want of sustenance, they are lean and pine, as the herbs of my garden do this month of May, for want of rain." The green sickness therefore often happeneth to young women, a cachexia or an evil habit to men, besides their ordinary sighs, complaints, and lamentations, which are too frequent. As drops from a still,-- ut occluso stillat ab igne liquor, doth Cupid's fire provoke tears from a true lover's eyes,

"The mighty Mars did oft for Venus shriek,
Privily moistening his horrid cheek
With womanish tears," --

--"ignis distillat in undas,
Testis erit largus qui rigat ora liquor,"

[Fire distills into water, witness the copious streams that bathes his cheeks;]

with many such like passions.

Thomas Bernhard in The New Yorker

Thomas Bernhard is getting a lot of attention in the English literary press these days or perhaps I have started paying attention. A long review-essay in the latest New Yorker has lot of details about his life and works and is a good introduction to both.

There is a deeper purpose to Bernhard’s apparent linguistic sadism. He seems to have taken Wittgenstein’s well-known dictum “The limits of my language are the limits of my world” as a personal challenge. Accordingly, he tried to expand the outer limit of his own language to the point where it could encompass even the most extreme forms of human experience.

Link via complete review.

Ruth Franklin is an editor at the new republic magazine and is a very good writer. I recently came across her article on Bernhard's compatriot and nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek. She is very harsh on her. She doesn't call her a commie and a pornographer like most of the conservative American press did when she won the nobel, but comes quite close...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Winter with Books

Antonia has put up a list of books for winter reading. I thought I will add my own here. I already have four or five books on my current reading pile and it will take up a couple of weeks at least to get through them but anyway here is my list...

Ingeborg Bachmann: Malina
Jaroslav Hasek: The Good Soldier Svejk
Ivan Goncharov: Oblomov
Stendhal: The Life of Henry Brulard
Stendhal: The Charterhouse of Parma (had left it in the middle the last time I picked it up. Will try to find a copy with notes and introduction this time. I was clueless about the historical background of the book.)

Too many novels! I will try to read more philosophy in the next year... and yes history and poetry too. I remember saying the same thing last year too.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

from The Melancholy of Resistance

I am in the middle of the Laszlo Krasznahorkai's Hungarian novel The Melancholy of Resistance and really enjoying it. Though it deals with such subjects like apocalypse, end of the world and nihilism and its misanthropy runs really deep, it is also very funny, odd and gripping. That doesn't mean it is easy to read though. The long sentences and unbroken paragrapsh are disorienting and it is difficult to read more than twenty pages at one stretch.

Here is a sample sentence from the book. The narrator/author treats all the dialogues in the novel as stock expressions, as cliches. The quotes feel almost like a mark of contempt! It is like how Thomas Bernhard uses his "so-called's" and quotes too...

Of course, the person he most devoutly wished to remain ignorant of was Mrs Eszter, his wife, that dangerous prehistoric beast from whom he, 'by the grace of God', has separated years ago, who reminded him of nothing so much as one of those merciless medieval mercenaries, with whom he had tied that infernal comedy of a marriage thanks to an unforgivable moment of youthful carelessness, and who, in her uniquely dismal and alarming essence, summed up all that 'multifarious spectacle of disilusionment' the society of the town, in his view somehow succeeded in representing.

My favourite passage though occurs early in the novel. Mrs Eszter is sleeping in her bed and Krasznahorkai is describing the adventures of three rats in her room in the middle of the night. This goes on for almost three pages. This really had me in splits. Here is a small part..

And, as if they had been waiting for just this moment, as if this utter immobility and complete calm had been some sort of a signal, in the great silence (or perhaps out of it), three young rats ventured out from under Mrs Eszter's bed. Carefully the first slithered past, shortly followed by the other two, their little heads raised and attent, ready to freeze before leaping; then, silently, still bound by their instinctive timidity, they proceeded, hesitating and freezing at every few steps, to a tour of the room. Like intrepid scouts for an invading army apprising themselves of enemy positions before an onslaught, noting what lay where, what looked safe or dangerous, they examined the skirting boards, the crumbling nooks and corners and the wide cracks in the floorboards, as if mapping out the precise distances between the bolthole under the bed, the door, the table, the cupboard, the slightly teetering stool and the window-ledge--then without touching anything, in the blinking of an eye, they shot off under the bed in the corner again, to the hole that led through the wall to freedom. It was no more than a minute before the cause of their retreat became apparent, for their intuition had warned them something was about to happen and this faultless, naked and instinctive fear of the unpredictable was enough to drive them to the option of immediate flight. By the time Mrs Eszter moved and disturbed the up-till-then-unbroken silence, the three rats were cowering in perfect safety at the foot of the outside wall at the back of the house; so she rose from the very ocean bed of sleep drifting for a few minutes up into the shallows through which consciousness might faintly glimmer, and kicked off the eiderdown, stretching her limbs as if about to wake.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Inland Empire

Golden Globes nominations are out and not surprisingly David Lynch's Inland Empire is nowhere to be see, which is not really surprising to be honest. Lynch's film feels more like a video installation art rather than a full length feature film. Lynch surely won't win any new fans with it but his loyal devotees will not be disappointed. He is on the same track, it is just that he has taken a few steps forward, or deeper towards the "inland". All the familiar Lynchian tropes are there and one of the thing about watching it is identifying them, so you see red curtains, flickering bulbs, omnipresent buzz on soundtrack and hints about something mysterious and monstrous lurking in every nook and corner and then you nod in approval!

Perhaps the most written and talked about aspect of the film is that it was shot in digital video using a consumer grade camera. So the sensuousness and the texture of Blue Velvet or Mulholland Dr. is missing. Instead we get Lars von Trier like grainy look with seemingly adhoc compositions. It is jarring initially but you get used to it as the film goes on. There are though too many facial closeups throughout the film. I think he could have avoided it, somehow it didn't feel right, it just looked ugly.

I didn't say anything about what the film is actually about. Hmmm. That's tough, but let me try. There is this actress played by Laura Dern (the innocent blonde from Blue Velvet) who is acting in a movie based on a polish folk tale. There was earlier a german movie planned but the cast and the crew were mysteriously murdered. So anyway, the shooting starts and soon the reality and illusion, outside and inside start to merge and become inseparable. Lynch isn't interested in the familiar gotcha (hey, it was only a movie!) scenes familiar to so many film-within-a-film genre just like he isn't interested in hey-it-was-only-a-dream moments in his other narratives. He is interested in character's fractured subjectivity and its representation through innovative narratives. And yes, I forgot there is a family of people with talking rabbit heads who talk in non-sequiturs, there are a bunch of polish prostitutes and I think I saw a few monsters too, I am not sure, may be I was just dreaming!

Reviews by sharper and more intelligent people won't help either but you can try Rotten Tomatoes. Not surprisingly it has got lots of thumbs down. Though I was surprised to see the turnout at the ifc center where the film is currently running. I think only one person walked out before the end. Rest of them stayed through the end credit sequence too which features a wonderful song with some surprise guest appearances. The film is not getting a wide release. Besides New York, there are only a few cities and even there you won't find it anywhere near those ugly and monstrous multiplexes. (Full theatrical schedule here.)

A nice long interview of Lynch on Youtube. It is old and an hour long, other parts are on the right sidebar. He is a really goofy fellow (he says he gets his ideas from the "ether" where they float).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Not that busy actually...

Much as I hate my job, sometimes I think it is not so bad. Just these last couple of weeks when I was thinking I had lots of work to do, I don't know what happened, the work either took care of itself or perhaps I did something. It is almost back to normal now. Speaking in general, even otherwise it is the kind of job which never requires any serious intellectual application of any kind and even time and effort-wise it only occasionally makes its presence felt in my inner and private life. Most of the time it is just the same dull routine. Talk to people, do the work, and in general behave like an automaton! I find it amusing and sometimes surprising that someone like me, with this level of demotivation and detachment, has been able survive all this (though I must say it hasn't been too long yet!) I know, mere survival is not enough. May be I will find something that will spur me on, and who knows I might even find myself in the company of those deluded, crazy and philistine usurers in future with whom I am surrounded at work and who earn many times more than what I do now. (In case it is confusing, it is actually a bank where I work and I write software for a living.)

So what did I do at work today? Besides a few other things I read this article in the latest TLS by George Steiner on the nineteenth century German writer George Buchner, author of classic Expressionist play Woyzeck, the novella Lenz and other works. I have read only Woyzeck which is brilliant and one of my favourites. I have been looking forward to reading his other works but haven't got a chance to read any of it yet. It is not that great essay. Steiner is a very estimable and heavyweight literary critic but this article felt a little hurried. Still there is a lot of information and introductory material in there. I didn't know for example that Buchner died at the age of twenty three!

Werner Herzog's film adaptation of the play is brilliant in its own right too, not least because of Klaus Kinski's performance in the titular role, a role almost tailor-made for him to play. You can watch the introductory scene from the film on youtube.

Also via This Space I read this rather pointless article about fantasy in literature. Surely no reader of fiction can ever have problem with fantasy. I mean, that goes by the dictionary definition of the word 'fiction' itself! It is what you do with fantasy that matters. For example, you can either start a franchise and sell tie-in products with your books or else create genuine works of literature which engage with serious and difficult questions regarding reality, representation, truth, language etc etc. It's the same with Bollywood too. I don't have any problems with song and dance, melodrama or artificial colours. It is what you do with them. On one side there are people like Fassbinder and Almodovar and on the other people like Bhansalis and Karan Johars...

Also talking of fantasy fiction, Laszlo Krasznahorkai's Hungarian novel The Melancholy of Resistance is absolutely brilliant. It is not really a fantasy, even though it has some fantastical elements, it is more like a fable written in a remarkable style and a voice which is odd and extremely gripping at the same time -- very Kafka-like in tone and style. The book is full of long serpentine sentences and thomas bernhard style paragraphs which never seem to end. Also how he blends the reported speech with narration is very similar to bernhard. It is not easy to read, I have been reading it for the past one week and I am not even past the first hundred pages but it is worth all the effort. Will write more once I finish the book.

Finally this interview of Thomas Bernhard (thanks Bhupinder). As entertaining as ever!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Real life has intervened with all its messy and stupid irregularities so erratic (or no) blogging for some time. Will be back in a couple of weeks. Hopefully. In the meanwhile check out the trailer of Inland Empire... I managed to sneak off to a screening this Sunday and it was worth all the effort. (Will try to write something about it, though I think I really didn't understand enough, or actually I didn't understand it at all.)

The New York Times parental advisory says, "It includes adult language, partial female nudity, bloody violence and ubiquitous menace." Agree completely with the "ubiquitous menace." I think I almost missed the nudity part, it was a short and unimportant scene. For a nice scene, one of my favourite ever, you have to check out Lynch's earlier masterpiece Mulholland Dr. I had posted the clip here.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Advice from Pushkin

From Eugene Onegin, Translated by Charles Johnston

Whom then to credit? Whom to treasure?
On whom alone can we depend?
Who is there who will truly measure
his acts and words to suit our end?
Who'll sow no calumnies around us?
Whose fond attentions will astound us?
Who'll never fault our vices, or
Whom shall we never find a bore?
Don't let a ghost be your bear-leader,
don't waste your efforts on the air.
Just let yourself be your whole care,
your loved one, honourable reader!
Deserving object: there can be
nothing more lovable than he.

Though the Johnston translation is more famous, I liked this translation more. It is by James Falen (published in the Oxford Classics series). It is so disappointing and disheartening in a way when you read two translations side by side and see how different the two are. And that is when you don't know the original language. Even the meaning is different at a few places. Eugene Onegin is one of the most widely discussed texts when it comes to the theory of translation, mainly because of Nabokov's highly idiosyncratic translation and scholarly notes on the poem... Anyway here is the passage.
But whom to love? To trust and treasure?
Who won't betray us in the end?
And who'll be kind enough to measure
Our words and deeds as we intend?
Who won't sow slander all about us?
Who'll coddle us and never doubt us?
To whom all our faults be few?
Who'll never bore us through and through?
You futile, searching phantom-breeder,
Why spend all your efforts all in vain;
Just love yourself and ease the pain,
My most esteemed and honest reader!
A worthy object! Never mind,
A truer love you will never find.

Books on my bed and a meta-post

Someone asks me why my posts are always on obscure topics and if I had no desire to make my blog popular? Or that why I never mention the latest booker prize winner or write about the latest Bond film? Or why I never write about politics or anything related to India? That made me think specially because I never consciously decide what to write here. 99% of the time it is an impulsive decision mostly when I have just finished reading an article or a book or have nothing else to do. Mostly the post is just some paragraphs which stuck to my mind (which is how I decide the worth of a book, by the number of striking passages in it) and some assorted thoughts and facts about the book. If I try to write a comprehensive and systematic review or essay, it either never gets completed or else no one understands what I was trying to say in the end!

Then, how do I decide which books to read or which movies to go to? I don't really have an idea. But yes, there is definitely a sub-conscious bias against anything popular or mainstream. Some sociologist may explain this with some theory of alienation and I think that would be right. I have a full time day job and though I generally manage to avoid participating in social rituals, I still don't have a lot of time to spare on my hobbies. (I sleep a lot and of course, the inane complexities of modern life: just today I had to postpone going to New York to see the new David Lynch picture because of some stupid bureaucratic work.) It also means that there will not be enough breadth, there isn't just enough time and energy to do everything in life.

Finally coming back to India/Politics thing. It's not that I am an apolitical person, my politics would broadly be considered leftist, though by the standards of my radical friends I am still too much of a bourgeois. But I'll have to admit, the nitti-gritties of politics don't interest me, again some theory of alienation will have to come and explain this. I love Hindi language, which is my mother-tongue and my first language, but the reason why I don't write anything about Hindi literature is that I don't get a chance to read much of it. I am too far away from the cow-belt (or "gobar-patti" if you will)! In any case I think the idea behind any art or literature should be to let it help open your mind to new ways of looking at things, learning from foreign cultures and experiences outside your own and immediate. And I find even mild forms of cultural chauvinism intensely irritating and deeply disgusting.

So finally books on my bed (I don't use the desk for reading, I like going to sleep with my books!). So here they are (Two from Austria and Hungary each and one from Latin America):

Frost (Thomas Bernhard)
Kaddish for an Unborn Child (Imre Kertesz)
The Melancholy of Resistance (Laszlo Krasznahorkai)
Last Evenings on Earth (Roberto Bolano)
Five Women (Robert Musil)

All five of them look very interesting. I will try to put a few extracts or write something after I finish reading...

And yes I forgot Bollywood. Well, for all the talk of "new wave" or new type of bollywood films my contempt for Bollywood I think is complete and final. I find them irritating, silly and often deeply offensive and reactionary. I generally manage to avoid watching Bollywood movies whenever I can.

I love watching and listening to old hindi film songs though. In fact, that's what I am doing a lot these days. It is like the "chitrahar" of olden days. So here is one song in the memory of those days of Doordarshan. It is from the 1966 movie Love in Tokyo starring Joy Mukherjee and Asha Parekh. Md. Rafi is singing the song composed by Shanker Jaikishen. Basically the hero is pleading her to come to him because there is a fire in his heart etc etc...

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Besides my other numerous circle of acquaintances I have one more intimate confidant—my melancholy. In the midst of my joy, in the midst of my work, she waves to me, calls me to one side, even though physically I stay put. My melancholy is the most faithful mistress I have known, what wonder, then, that I love her in return.
—Søren Kierkegaard (from Either/Or)

(Can't find Thomas Hardy poem saying almost exactly the same thing. Don't remember the words either.)

Anyway, two interesting links. First on the melancholy of Joseph Roth (specially in the context of his novel The Radetzky March). It is quite interesting. My reactions were very similar after I finished the book. The article has some thoughts on Benjamin and Kant too, the later of which I didn't really understand.

Another article on Melancholy and Aesthetic Theory. It looks like an academic article but is easy to read and quite informative.

More Kierkegaard quotes from the same chapter that the earlier quote comes from here. You will have a laugh at this one I am sure (and I love that last line):

Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy—to be a man who is brisk about his food and his work. Therefore, whenever I see a fly settling, in the decisive moment, on the nose of such a person of affairs; or if he is spattered with mud from a carriage which drives past him in still greater haste; or the drawbridge opens up before him; or a tile falls down and knocks him dead, then I laugh heartily. And who, indeed, could help laughing? What, I wonder, do these busy folks get done? Are they not to be classed with the woman who in her confusion about the house being on fire carried out the firetongs? What things of greater account, do you suppose, will they rescue from life's great conflagration?

Update: Antonia points me to an interesting scholarly book on the subject called Saturn And Melancholy. I don't think there is an English translation, at least Amazon doesn't list one. I found a long and detailed piece in the TLS though which discusses the book (among other things). Amazon also informs me that I must have seen its reference not in the Understanding W.G. Sebald book but in The Noonday Demon. I also like its cover (whose painting is this I don't know)...

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Nasty Little German Love Story

I don't know what to make of Robert Musil's short story Tonka. I just finished reading it and I now feel intensely annoyed.

A young student of science from a well-to-do family starts a love affair with a Czech servant girl Tonka who is attending to his ailing grandmother. After the death of the grandmother he takes her off to Berlin and starts living with her (without marrying her). She soon becomes pregnant. But the problem is, according to the calender it couldn't be he who could have made her pregnant. And worse, he learns that she has contracted a venereal infection. So far the story is told in a boring, flat and conventional style but as soon as the student learns about it, the story plunges deep into his consciousness and it becomes fiendishly complex as he struggles with trying to come to terms with the reality and can't make up his mind about anything, whether anything is true or false, real or imaginary. Doctors rule out the possibility that he might have infected her and the girl persists with her story that she has not slept with any man. He can't decide between the either of the two. He spends the time with her until she gradually withers away and finally dies. All written in a disturbingly objective style, specially a couple of paragraphs where Musil describes her decaying body made for some deeply unpleasant reading. And in the end neither he nor us, the readers, get the know the "exact" truth. He just feels relieved after a sudden flash of memory passes him by and he thinks everything is over.

I am not much familiar with Musil's fellow Viennese authors Sigmund Freud and Arthur Schnitzler but I think the story covers the same territory as explored by those two writers. Here Musil is describing the dreams that the student has about Tonka (he even uses the word "transference" which has some Freudian connotation, I am not sure what that is, I just remember reading about it somewhere):

These ambiguous images made him feel a seemingly undefined, disembodied affection and more than human intensity of emotion, and it was hard to say whether these feelings were gradually detaching themselves from Tonka or only now beginning to be associated with her. When he reflected on this he guessed that this enigmatic capacity for transference and independence that love had must also manifest itself in waking life. It is not that the woman loved is the origin of emotions apparently aroused by her; they are merely set behind her like a light. But whereas in dreams there is still a hair'-breadth margin, a crack, separating the love from the beloved, in waking life this split is not apparent; one is merely the victim of doppelganger-trickery and cannot help seeing a human being as wonderful who is not so at all. He could not bring himself to set the light behind Tonka.

May be I am just a cold-blooded prude (though I prefer the word "stoic") but I have never really understood these ideas about diseased and morbid sexuality and all this obsession with sex that Freud and Co. think is so common and are part of normal human condition. May be the story says something general about human consciousness or sexuality but the only thing I am trying now is to forget whatever I just finished reading. I am now not going to pick up The Man Without Qualities anytime soon.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Antonia points me to this great article about W. G. Sebald's life and early inspiration for his literary career.

Readers have sometimes expressed discomfort with this connection, accusing Sebald of inappropriately identifying with the Jewish victims of National Socialism, as if he, too, were an "exile" of history. The objection is misguided, however, for Sebald never forgot the distinction between the forced exile of the Nazi period and his own voluntary postwar emigration; his entire work offers an eloquent tribute to the memory and memorialization of that historical difference. However, his literary imagination naturally sought out points of contact and continuity. For his book about four aging "emigrants," he deliberately avoided the term exilierte, preferring instead the capacious and somewhat antiquated term ausgewanderte (literally, those who have "wandered" or "gone out") in order to include his own family history of emigration. The Jewish exiles of National Socialism are but one, admittedly central part of a much broader pattern of modern displacement reaching back to the French Revolution (with an implicit titular reference to Goethe's Unterhaltungen deutscher Ausgewanderten) and the economic emigrations of both Jews and Germans from Central Europe during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Sebald's semiautobiographical literary work is thus premised on a dual identity: as the son of a Wehrmacht officer who bears witness to the victims of German violence, but also as a member of his grandfather's nonmilitary, emigrant family who identifies with these victims existentially.

The article is actually a part of biographical study of Sebald that the author, Mark Anderson, is working on. It is interesting how little information about his personal life is available. I was surprised for example when I read in the book Understanding W G Sebald that he was a very cheerful and lively person in real life. His books contain some of the most eloquent portraits of melancholic figures that I have ever encountered in literature, either as the narrators themselves or the people they talk about in the book. I hope I will get a chance the read the book.

Also there is another old article written by the same author on Thomas Bernhard which I came across recently. He has translated Bernhard's The Loser too.

Finally a link to "Kierkegaard Blog Carnival" which features my "review" of a Kierkegaard biography. I wrote the review without even finishing the whole book (it runs to almost thousand pages), but other links look good. I haven't read anything yet, but I am going to.

P.S. Anurag is now asking me to change the name of my blog to "Sebald and Bernhard."

Friday, December 01, 2006


My library has got the entire series of books published by the Oxford University Press on the subject of seven deadly sins. I was naturally only interested in the only sin I commit (and I am being honest here), that is sloth (though I prefer the word Melancholy or Acedia more) of which I wrote earlier (I was a little disappointed with the light tone of the book). Even when I am afflicted by temptations of committing two other sins, Lust and Envy, they are invariably, and it doesn't take too long either, subsumed into a larger, global weltschmerz and are thus taken over by the sin of melancholy! Rest of the sins, that is Greed, Gluttony, Anger and Pride, I have hardly ever known in my life, specially the first two. But then I saw that the volume on Lust was penned by Simon Blackburn, who is a professor of philosophy at the Cambridge University and a wonderful writer, I decided to pick it up. I am glad I read it because it is a wonderful, entertaining and very informative book.

Blackburn states his aims clearly in the introduction to the book. He says that lust has been unfairly victimized by philosophers and thinkers and his task in this book is:

[...]to clean off some of the mud, to rescue it from the echoing denunciations of old men of the deserts, to deliver it from the pallid and envious confessors of Rome and the disgust of the Renaissance, to destroy the stocks and pillories of the Puritans, to separate it from other things that we know drag it down, and so to lift it from the category of sin to that of virtue.

And by the end, I have to say, he valiantly answers all the objections and convinces of the virtuousness of lust. My own personal view on the subject is quite dark and pessimistic. I won't go into the details here but it is basically a mix of Schopenhauer and Proust's ideas. So did my views change after reading this book? Well, not exactly. But I am fairly open to reading heftier volumes on similar lines, may be I will be convinced before it is too late (youth is already fading fast!). As for now, the status quo of melancholy torpor will continue and I will continue to see the trickeries of the evil "life-force" (the Schopenhauerian will-to-live) behind every attractive face! And also the costs of getting into a "venereal strife" (Aquinas's phrase by the way, not mine) are just too much for a man of limited emotional energies like me :)

Anyway coming back to the book, Blackburn predictably starts with the Greeks who were the easily the most knowledgeable people on this subject. He discusses Aristophanes's myth which Plato discusses in his Symposium. Aristophanes said that originally each of us formed a unity with someone else, either androgynous or same-sex. In this state each individual had four legs, four hands and two sets of genitals. Unfortunately this gave them enough vigor to challenge the God Zeus, who in response to this hubris cut them half, separating the two. He says that erotic desire is nothing but manifestation of the awareness of this incompleteness and we are condemned to seek our lost "other". Plato then discusses the dialogue between Diotima and Socrates to explain how ideal love means love of beauty and love of good, which he means to be the same thing. Of course beauty here is the Platonic abstraction, an idea, not the physical beauty. He also discusses Plato's theory of Human nature (the image of two horses and the charioteer) and offers well-known objections to this theory. I won't go into the detail here.

There are some funny lines in his chapter on Stoics and Cynics:
The Cynics ("dog philosophers") thought that too much song and dance was made about the whole thing. Diogenes thought that sex was most conveniently dealt with masturbation, which is easier than relying on other people: as Oscar Wilde later said, "cleaner, more efficient, and you get to meet a better class of person." But Diogenes too the further shocking step of arguing that no shame should be attached to the act, and hence no shame attached to doing it in public, which he promptly illustrated by repeated street performances.

He then mentions that, "centuries later St. Augustine, quite capable of swallowing miracles in other contexts, rejected this account."

The best and funniest part of the book is the section when he deals with Christianity and the medieval philosophy, which actually demonized lust with really stupid arguments, unlike their Greek predecessors. He pokes some gentle fun on St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and other obscure thinkers who devised and invented weird rationalizations to keep lust away from human affairs. After a long survey he finally concludes:
Eventually we get to a ladder. Virginity is best. After that, matrimony without sex is fine, and next best is matrimony plus pleasureless procreative activity. Procreative activity accompanied by pleasure is pretty regrettable; but worst of, because it would turn your wife into a whore and your home into a brothel, is to act for the sake of pure sexual pleasure.

And also how it explains the essentially misogynist character of Christianity (and indeed other religions too):
Naturally it is short step from disgust at the sexual act itself to disgust at women for inciting it, for receiving the foul male seed, for inciting men to take part in the whole teeming, liquid, swampy business.

The part which interested me most was where he answers the charges of radical feminists and anti-romance polemicists like Andrea Dworkin or Elfriede Jelinek. He cites a paper authored by Martha Nussbaum, who is a professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago, on the subject of "Objectification," in which she classifies different ways we reduce an individual to a thing. Her list contains seven items. First, there is instrumentality--using the other as a mere tool of one's purposes. Then, there is denial of autonomy--treating the other as not having a mind of their own, as lacking in self-determination. Third is inertness--treating the other as passive, as lacking in agency and perhaps also in activity. Fourth is fungibility--treating the other as interchangeable with objects of same type or other types. Fifth is violability--treating the other as lacking in boundary integrity, or as something it is permissible to violate, break-up, smash or break into. Sixth is ownership--treating the other as something that can be disposed of, bought or sold. Finally, there is denial of subjectivity--treating the other as something whose experiences and feelings (if any) need not be taken into account.

It is a very insightful list and after reading it, it doesn't take too long to understand the objections feminists have with male sexual desire and gender relations as they exist in society. Blackburn concedes that there are problems with lust here but manages to defend it quite well in the end. For example as for fungibility, we might be far away from the Aristophanes myth of the unique other for everybody, but there is something in desire which makes complete fungibility impossible. For example, the more the time one spends with one's partner, he/she becomes less and less fungible. He also cites Stendhal's theory of "crystallization", the process by which the subject assigns unique qualities to the beloved which exist only in its imagination. For more details here is the wiki entry.

For me personally, it is the last item on the list which is the most problematic. And here Proust comes into the picture. (Sadly Blackburn doesn't bring in Proust into the discussion here, though he discusses his ideas in a slightly different context elsewhere.) It is in the nature of desire itself to deny the other its autonomous subjectivity and impose one's own over the other's experiences. Solipsism comes with the package of Lust. Proust's novel contains dazzlingly complex and ultimately despairing analysis of this phenomenon of sexual solipsism, something that I understood very well, when I read it.

Blackburn skirts this problem by shifting the goalposts. He says that the goal of lust shouldn't be to bring in the merging of two different consciousness or some such abstract ideal. He cites a passage from Hobbes and says that reciprocation of pleasure is, and indeed it should be, the ultimate goal of lust (it is shallower than the ideal but it is the only thing we have got). He calls it "Hobbesian Unity" and explains it thus:

A pleases B. B is pleased at what A is doing, and A is pleased at B's pleasure. This should please B, and a feedback loop is set up since that in turn pleases A.

Hmph! This post has now become too long and my fingers are aching and I haven't yet come to Kant, Freud or talked about Stendhal (my favourite expert when it comes to the matters of the heart by the way). Or discussed the pros and cons of prostitution and pornography. May be some other time.

For now, since I have often been accused, not entirely unjustifiably I have to admit, of being a prude and of having a stiff upper lip when it comes to subjects discussed in the post, I am reproducing two risque paintings that Blackburn cites in the book. (The book contains photographs too.) First this painting by the medieval Florentine artist Agnolo Bronzino. It shows young Cupid cavorting with his mother Venus. The figures in the blackground are deceit, anger, jealousy, joy and fortune. More details on Wikipedia. Blackburn says that Cupid's posture is awkward because he is trying to hide his erection!

This is another medieval sketch illustrating the apocryphal story of Aristotle and Phyllis. I am sure Schopenhauer would have approved of this...

Ghost World

The subject of adolescent alienation is virtually a storehouse of cliches and sentimental moralizing but Ghost World, based on a comic book of the same name, manages to keep these miles away and tackles it without a single false or jarring note and in such a way that the whole thing becomes not only funny but also genuinely insightful, even moving in the ending. Enid and Rebecca have just graduated from high school and are basically female versions of Holden Caulfield. Enid, wonderfully played by Thora Birch is angrier, wittier and more misanthropic than her friend Rebecca, played by Scarlet Johansson (thankfully, unlike her regular roles she doesn't try to act "hot" here) who seems to have prepared herself better for the grown-up world (she is also prettier that might be another reason). They spend their time poking fun at both the go-getters as well as the losers that they see around them. They soon meet a fellow alienated loner, an eccentric old record collector, played with his natural dorkiness by Steve Buscemi, and soon the practical joke they play on him turns serious and all of them learn some vital lessons about life and about themselves in the end. Here is a sample review from village voice and more here.

The film also has a Bollywood connection which really amused me. The soundtack of the film features, rather prominently I think, a song from an old Hindi movie Gumnaam. It is called "Jaan Pehchaan Ho..." and you absolutely have to see it if you haven't seen it. It is a wonderful and an absolutely freak-out song. If you don't understand Hindi, don't despair. The song basically says, "If we could get to know each other, life would be easy" :)

Anyway, here's the song. I am sure, like me, you will also feel like giving the girl a good neck massage after watching it. I like the guy singing even more.

Sadly I don't remember much of the movie, though I remember watching and loving it many years ago. It is based on an Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None (I didn't know about it until recently). Of course, in the best Bollywood traditions she goes uncredited. I haven't read the book, but I am sure she wouldn't have, even in her wildest dreams, imagined the character that Mehmood plays in the movie. And it is for his character and the song filmed on him, "Hum Kale Hain..." ("What if I am dark, I have a heart") that the film is most remembered now. I like this song from the movie too. It is kinda kitschy but nice.

And yes, the trailer of Ghost World here. I am spending a lot of time on youtube.