Thanks to the generous Asim Burney (Upodcasting), I managed to get to some of the screenings of the London Indian Film Festival 2012, including the opening night. Now in its 3rd year, the festival had a wide range of selection of movies to choose from. The festival opened with Anurag Kashyap’s gangster magnum opus – Gangs of Wasseypur Part I, and boy-oh-boy, it couldn’t have had a better opening than that. (Check out my interview with Mr.Kashyap here).
The purpose of this post is to serve as an introspective “note to self” of the things I observed in the course of this festival, and also, where I find myself in this crowd of bloggers/writers (whatever you’d like to call me, I prefer blogger).
Opening Night – Gangs of Wasseypur – June 20, 2012
This was my first ever “Red Carpet” whatever. The venue was Cineworld Haymarket, and saw some unusual faces attending the night – by unusual I mean Upen Patel (Namaste London). By unusual I also mean Riz Ahmed (Four Lions). I think I also saw Anushka Sharma sneaking into the screening room. I got there early, as I had to interview Mr. Anurag Kashyap, and thankfully, since it was early in the afternoon, the queue wasn’t that long. The interview was fun, and Mr.Kashyap was great to talk with. Soon after my interview was done, there seemed like a long queue of press people demanding for an interview slot, especially because Zee (with Asad Shan) had arrived and had kind of occupied the lounge for like an hour or so. I got to meet a few people who were also covering the festival – Shai from NRI mag, Julia from Ishq.de, and the cool dudes from IndyBrown.TV ,with whom I had a brief talk on Tamil Cinema – from Vettai to Kannathil Muthamittal, Nayakan, Anjali - basically Mani Ratnam).
Funny thing, most of them were exchanging cards, and all I had was a smartphone, taking notes of their twitter accounts. I live as much of an online life as much I do offline. Who has time for printing cards anymore. I interact in 140 characters, end of. I don’t have a business card with my website names on them. I don’t even have a business card for my day job (sad, I know). Another thing I realised about myself, is that no matter how much I loved Bollywood, and cinema in general, I found it hard to have topics to talk on, even when I was in the right kind of crowd. Has my forever-online existence made me into a socially awkward being? I am shit at small talk. And I couldn’t go beyond the occasional, “so..what movies are you looking forward to watch”, or ..”so you’re white. How did you get into Bollywood?” But it was genuinely uplifting to speak with the guys from Ishq.de and to know of the influence and penetration of Bollywood in Germany, and how Shahrukh Khan is greater than even the Hollywood biggies. That made me want to visit Berlin during the Berlinale.
Speaking more of the exchanging cards thing, most of the people I spoke with, were surprised to know that I wasn’t a full time writer/blogger. And more so when I said that my job involved number crunching, data mining, statistical analysis and modelling. You should’ve seen their faces when I said modelling, and then I had to explain how I am not photogenic at all. It did make me question whether I really wanted to do writing full time, and travel, and attend film festivals, and write some more. If money was not a concern in my life, most probably. But then I have other interests too. The thing is, I am fairly happy with the day job I have. It pays my bills, and leaves me enough to spend on gadgets, Game CDs and concert tickets and the occasional going out. It also pays for my webhosting service. If money wasn’t a concern, I’d do a lot of other things as well like – learn classical music (both Western and Indian), how to play the Piano, take vocal lessons. This post is not going anywhere, I’ll discuss that in a different post. The gist is – that I am comfortable doing the things I do, my way – have a 9 to 5 (sometimes 6:30) job, and maintain a number of blogs at my ease, and not bother about being answerable to anybody else but myself (although I do question myself sometimes if having 5 blogs is borderline insane or just fucking mental).
And then I read this post by my twitter friend FilmiGirl, which reflected pretty much the same sentiment. A few months back, I was invited to write for a Bollywood website. The content was supposed to be mostly tabloid news related. So, it basically meant that I’d have to write 200 words or more on Deepika Padukone’s airport arrival in Timbaktoo to John Abraham farting in the loo (desperate attempt at rhyming). I already do that, more efficiently in the form of GIFs, and I have no intention to write tabloid shit. I blog because I like to blog, about stuff I strongly love, and about stuff I strongly hate. Anything mediocre gets lost from my memory, because it isn’t worth it. That’s also one of the reasons why I find it hard these days to motivate myself to sit down and write. (But I have made a promise to myself to get back into the habit of writing more).
Anywho, after that long and irrelevant rant, back to the LIFF. I had chosen to watch four more movies – Dekh Indian Circus, Gattu, Aaranya Kaandam, and Delhi In A Day. But due to work commitments, I couldn’t make it to the last one. Links of reviews are here:
I genuinely enjoyed all of them, but the one that left an indelible impression on me was undoubtedly Aaranya Kaandam. Thiagarajan’s gangster flick set in Chennai is a notch above the usual gangster fare, and even though it looks familiar, you can certainly not put it as being borrowed or “inspired”. It has a certain graphic novel feel to it, and is certainly worth the DVD hunt. As for Gangs of Wasseypur, I have already spoken at length of how much I loved it. In hindsight though, I do feel it could’ve done better with just a bit more of editing. And I am absolutely looking forward to the rise of Faizal Khan (Nawazzudin Siddiqui) in Part 2.
Overall, LIFF 2012 was a fun experience. To have watched so many movies within such a little space, and even get into the routine of writing within a deadline, I don’t get to do that… ever. And by this line, I am already wondering if there is anyone in the whole wide world who’s made it to the last line of this post. Probably not.