The Remains of the Day

I’VE BEEN awake for a while now. Awake and agitated. It was yet another serene Saturday. And though well-spent, it has passed me by, stepped out of my orbit, into the great unknown. A day has passed, its remains  linger. And as I write these lines, it is as if I am writing its epitaph. What images shall I pluck out of its remains? What picture of the day shall I draw for you? What virtues shall I ascribe to it, what feats, what achievements, what characteristics, what incidents? What change did it trigger? What chaos did it engender? What joy did it foist on me? What surprises did it throw at me? What pains did it endure? What pleasures did it share? What story of the day shall I let the world know? I don’t quite know.

It has been over a week since I vowed to turn a new leaf, ventured into doing something meaningful, though even that’s quite relative. But I remain hovering around nowhere; I haven’t made much headway. As Saturday slides out of my clutch, I wince, noticing how there are reams to be read, volumes to devour, reels to watch, tapes to listen to. They all lie around in an agonising mish-mash of papers, DVDs, tomes and what not, a hodgepodge of different worlds, different voices, different visions. I look at them. And yet I don’t. I dread the way some of them have been looking at me. I dread the way I have been sitting on them. Procrastination is a curse, I conclude. Curse the damn thing!!

In the week that has gone by, I have done some random reading, some random writing. Can’t say that about talking; I am not much of a talker, despite Jeffrey Archer calling me one (Read an earlier interview with him here). I caught hold of Ian McEwan’s Solar and Aatish Taseer’s The Temple-Goers. More about them later. A music fanatic, a dear friend, recommended Rage Against the Machine, a US rock band that wonderfully blends, well, everything, from hip hop to heavy metal, from punk to funk and alternative rock. I was struck by the political overtones of their songs. I have  listened to just a couple of their numbers (Bullet in the Head from their 1992 album and  Calm like a Bomb from their 1999 album, The Battle of Los Angeles), but I am already in love with them. It’s a different kinda trip.

Sample Bullet in the Head:

I give a shout out to the living dead
Who stood and watched as the feds cold centralized
So serene on the screen
You were mesmerised
Cellular phones soundin’ a death tone
Corporations cold
Turn ya to stone before ya realise
They load the clip in omnicolour
Said they pack the 9, they fire it at prime time
Sleeping gas, every home was like Alcatraz
And mutha fuckas lost their minds

And  Calm like a bomb:

I be walkin’ god like a dog
My narrative fearless
My word war returns to burn
Like Baldwin home from Paris
Like Steel from a furnace
I was born landless

This is tha native son
Born of Zapata’s guns
Stroll through tha shanties
And tha cities remains
Same bodies buried hungry
But with different last names
These vultures rob everything
Leave nothing but chains
Pick a point on tha globe
Yes tha pictures tha same
There’s a bank 

There’s a church a myth and a hearse
A mall and a loan a child dead at birth
There’s a widow pig parrot
A rebel to tame
A whitehooded judge
A syringe and a vein…

The week that’s passing by also saw the release of Shyam Benegal‘s Well Done Abba, which lampoons and lambasts India’s growth story, with a dash of irony. Two other films of the week, which I am very keen on watching are Mira Nair‘s Amelia and Rob Marshal‘s Nine. The former is about Amelia Earhart, the American aviator who “disappeared somewhere over the Pacific in 1937 while trying to become the first woman to fly around the globe” (Read the New York Times review here) and the latter is a sort of a remake of the Italian maverick filmmaker Frederico Fellini‘s  “shimmering dream, circus and a magic act” of a film called .

Talking of cinema, I have also been waiting to watch Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island. It’s a psychological thriller set in an asylum for the insane in 1950’s Boston. It’s a story of a fragile federal marshal Teddy Daniels, played by who else but Leonardo DiCaprio (remember Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed?) and the hunt for a missing high security patient, a woman called Rachel, played by Emily Mortimer, who has drowned her two small sons and her beloved daughter in a  country lake. Scorsese, 67, in an interview to the Sunday Times, has said that the film, relives the tragedy he witnessed when he was 8.

Scorsese, who received the lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes this year, has given us modern classics which are considered to be the gems of cinema: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and  Goodfellas. It made me sad when I read him saying, ” I’m not optimistic about the future of serious filmmking,” expressing his hope that filmmakers like Coen Brothers (I recently saw A Serious Man and looooved it), David Lynch (The Elephant Man, Wild at Heart, Lost Highway, The Straight Story, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire) and Jim Jarmusch (Permanent Vacation, Night on Earth, Dead Man, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Broken Flower, The Limits of Control) get some financial support as he was worried about the lack of money available to “visionary filmmakers”. The domination of “blockbusters” spells death for serious filmmaking. Scorsese has also said that Shutter Island owes a lot to John Huston‘s Let There Be Light, Otto Preminger’s Laura and Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past. 

More on these films, later.


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