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We are never in love with our exes. Maybe some dated, past version of them.
Yes, at some level we do love them and romanticise what they meant to us once upon a time.
We are even, probably, deeply fond of them as a part of some heartbreak-alumnus-family of sorts.
But it helps to remember that they can never be the same again.
Because there’s no undoing the past.
There is no unfucking.
There is no time travel.
There is an irreplaceable loss of innocence, trust or faith in each other.
We fell in love for a very simple reason.
Right time, right place, right person. A conflict we both enjoyed fighting together and slices of life we loved sharing together with a circle of trust we felt home at. At that point in time.
We wake up as different people every day.
We live a little, die a little.
Love has that exact life cycle.
Every day it lives is a day closer to its death.
What do you do when it dies?
What can you do when it hurts.
Just know that hurt is good.
That’s how we know we love.
Hurt is how love becomes a part of our lives for eternity.
Hurt is a souvenir of love.
We can either celebrate it or poison it with hate.
We can always use that hurt to say: “I don’t want to see your face ever again.”
Or we can say: “It was great. We did something awesome that not even married people do. For as long as we did. Let’s stay friends. We will always have Paris.”
We don’t know what we will wake up as tomorrow.
We don’t even know if we would wake up.
Life is short. And the only way to fight the hate in our heart is through love.
Without repressing the presence of it.
Without the baggage from the past we don’t need to carry into tomorrow.
With hope and knowledge that the only thing that’s constant is change.
Seasons exist as proof that everything that all life goes through a cyclical transformation.
After fall comes winter. But summer is always around the corner. So is spring. Everything that happened will happen again. A few times if we are lucky.
Who knows what would bloom again if we harvest love this season?
This could be the beginning of a great friendship. Or more.
Because there is a chance you will wake up as different people tomorrow who just might be right for each other.
Even if you don’t, you will feel happy you haven’t lost someone you cared for as one of your best friends.
Losers lose. Lovers love. Friends stay. We decide who we want to be.
Hate is toxic.
Yes, you might get hurt again.
But as Lloyd Dobler once said: I want to get hurt.
A boy doesn’t care for a job he’s training for.
The girl does. A lot. She just cares. About everything.
About stopping to smell the flowers. Covering up for him. Enquiring about him when he’s not around.
She IS named after/like jasmine herself (Shiuli) and he’s Dan. The only time they have a conversation is when he asks her why she’s collecting jasmine flowers that are dead.
No, they don’t fall in love. She falls… from the terrace by accident.
Her last words before going into a coma was a casual enquiry: Where is Dan?
The boy wonders what it means. And in trying to find out what it means, begins to care for her. Little by little. And soon we realise this has led him to care about more people around him.
That’s the nature of care. It’s infectious. When you care, someone else cares.
Every act of caring triggers another act of caring in writer Juhu Chaturvedi’s universe. (If she romanticised bodily functions we don’t like to talk about in our cinema – like semen in Vicky Donor or Stool in Piku, here it’s urine – that convinces him that there is life in her. And keeping track of her urine output, he knows she’s getting better.)
Every unaffected character slowly begins to care about the other.
Caring is so organic that it blooms and grows – it heals you and makes you someone who can take care of not just a flower but an entire Jasmine plant. (Fun fact: Jasmine has medicinal properties.)
She falls, like a flower, but leaves healing him. He comes of age. He understands that caring unconditionally is the purest form of love. It’s born out of empathy, gives us purpose and helps us find love we never knew we were capable of.
Maybe he finally knows why she used to collect dead jasmine flowers or maybe not – but we know. She just cared.
And now he does too. He has become her.
October, hence, is a rare beautiful film about caring like we have never seen before in our movies.
Banitha Sandhu as Shiuli, Gitanjali Rao as her mother and Varun Dhawan (a career best) are terrific but it’s the writer Juhi Chaturvedi who wins ours hearts again. Thank you Shoojit Sircar for doing this brave and understated sublime poem justice.
Reminds me of a beautiful poem that I just managed to hunt down:
This is the film our angry, hateful, practical world needs.
We need to stop and ask ourselves: Where is Dan?
Our inner Dan needs to start caring.
Because caring heals… the self.
Luv Ranjan is my producer, presenter and a friend. So do read the following commentary on his cinema in that context.
I have been wondering how and why a lot of young girls and women enjoy Luv Ranjan movies though a section of critics have found the films problematic and misogynistic.
While watching it the second time with my brother, I think I figured out why.
Luv’s cinema is post love, where romance has been deromanticised – his films are the counter narrative to an audience fed up of the dissonance between onscreen love stories and real world relationship problems.
Luv may have chosen to tell his stories from a male point of view but the sentiments of how people feel about relationships is rooted in the real world and are gender neutral. People hate each other when dysfunctional relationships don’t work out.
The success of his cinema has to do with people valuing friendships over relationships. Because this door has been kicked open, tomorrow filmmakers will be able to make post-love Punchnama films from the female perspective too. I won’t be surprised if Luv makes them himself. And as a friend, I hope he does.
Cinema has always needed heroes to deal with real world universal issues before the issues are mainstream enough to be explored through the perspective of women and minorities.
It’s because of the success of superhero films, that studios have been encouraged to make Wonder Woman and Black Panther or LGBTQ-friendly Deadpool.
I have never found Luv Ranjan’s films offensive or misogynistic because of how self aware his characters are (though we have had conversations on how to avoid perceptions of unintended misogyny).
Luv’s answer has always been the same. That he knows that his tone is irreverent and light hearted and that he is not coming from a place of hate but relatable relationship angst.
He believes history will remember him differently at the end of two decades when he’s done making all the films he wants to make and I believe him because I know the kind of film we are writing together.
His films have always been a counter to the chick flick genre with a playful battle-of-the-sexes tone where even stereotypes of women have agency and wield power enough to make men cry.
In Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Luv realises that these men will always be boys and will probably die single (as the self deprecating dig by Titu in the final scene suggests) and women will always be the ones that try to make them grow up.
It’s the women who control and run the household of a mediocre halwai chain.
It’s this not so obvious balance even in a seemingly male film on the crude “bros before hos” cliche that makes his films a hit with men and women.
Something a blatantly female Sex and the City or Girls has not managed… at least not to this extent.
I’m also proud of how my friend has rewritten the “Boy meets girl, boy loves girl, boy gets girl?” love story with his own unique take on modern romance without succumbing to the pressure of giving his characters the conventional happy ending.
You know how some people begin their sessions with “So, I have this friend…”
So, I have this friend who is a bit weird. He wrote me this long note:
Let the girl make the first move
As a single 40 year old who has been dating for the last five years, I have always been made fun of for waiting for the girl to make the first move.
“So you rather watch this stupid movie instead of making out with me?”
“You CAN hold my hand if you want, you know.”
At a recent party, when I explained to friends that it just makes consent a lot more clear than any signal would, they thought it’s a good practice given the times we live in.
It’s always been this way for me.
Maybe because I didn’t kiss anyone till I was 29 or sleep with anyone till I was 35. (No, I’m not ashamed of it and let’s just stop shaming virgins.)
Yes, I am aware that many girls may have wanted me to make the move because it’s supposed to be a guy’s job but I just can’t get myself to do it.
The few instances I have tried to peck a girl on her cheeks or hold her hand, I would stop halfway. I just don’t have those skills.
At 22, I asked a girl if I could kiss her and she said: “You could have if you hadn’t asked. The moment has passed.” The next day, her girl best friend kissed her in front of me just to show how it’s done.
At 27, I got a crick in my neck trying to kiss a girl who was in the driver’s seat when she parked outside Police staff quarters (of all the places in Chennai) to make out.
Some of us are just wired this way. We are not weird.
I just want to say it’s okay to be wired this way. It’s okay to be asexual or platonic with a girl you are attracted to. Even if you are spending nights together watching movies, chatting or just happy cuddling and not taking it to “the next level.”
It doesn’t make you any less of a man. You don’t have to sleep with every girl who wants to spend a night with you. She won’t judge you or your masculinity for not trying to have sex with her.
If a girl wants you, she sure knows how to get you.
You don’t ever have to put yourself or her in an awkward situation by trying to read signals.
If a girl really won’t make the first move, she will tell you to do so, expressly.
Take it from someone who has been doing this for five years. You are not missing out on anything.
I have had some great sex over the last five years and know that you can’t have that physical connection with every person.
Every person brings a different energy and it’s never binary. Anyone who told you that you are either good or bad at sex does not know it takes two to tango.
I do like having sex and want to like it.
Which is why I don’t sleep with every girl who comes home to spend the night. And I’m sure every girl who comes home to spend the night hasn’t always decided if she wants to have sex or not.
And that’s why I’m single? Nope.
I’m single because I haven’t felt as strongly as I once did.
I hope to.
So, dear shrink, tell me…
Is my friend weird or is that good advice?
The least original of epiphanies are also the truest.
After binging on a TV show for 65 hours on a phone over a week ago, I got transient smartphone blindness. I’m recovering slowly and able to see better every day.
Losing vision helped me see things with clarity. The blur made me focus on what’s important. Suddenly, the clutter began to disappear with the most obvious and the most cliched of modern epiphanies.
Blindness has made me see.
The truth has always been right in front of our eyes as a boring cliche.
That none of this is real.
“It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.” (The Matrix)
All those people on Facebook aren’t your friends. Your followers on Twitter don’t exactly follow you. And your Instagram… is not even you. It’s a version you want to project to the world with skin/colour altering flaw-reducing filters in larger than life costumes and locations eating overpriced great looking food that rarely matches the taste – it’s just great play of light.
Nothing we see through the windows of our phones or laptops has ever been real. They are quite accurately called screens because they are used for projecting an image, a story, a narrative – and we are just willing consumers.
I’m typing this on that very screen because this has become the interface we have been communicating on.
I want to give this interface a break and just communicate face to face. Maybe I’m just getting too old for toys. Or maybe this is just my severely distressed eyes asking me get the fuck away from screens. For a while, at least.
The simplest joys in life are real.
There’s not a camera made that can do justice to the feeling you get seeing the moon at night. There’s no text that can do possibly capture the high of the life’s best moments.
A touch is real. Keeping in touch isn’t.
We shouldn’t have to strain our eyes so hard for anything. In fact, we shouldn’t have to strain ourselves for anyone.
People who matter always stick around no matter what. Yes, I do have FOMO but it’s time to face my fear.
Less than 24 hours ago, I woke up to go to the beach for mixed martial arts training. It was incredible.
It was real. But I turned it into an Insta story. I want to snap out of stories.
I want to snap out of communicating through 0s & 1s. It’s time to log out and see how long I can survive without The Matrix.
I realised I have so much more fun meeting people and talking in the real world and this doesn’t feel even come close.
You know where to find me. I’m a phone call/a doorbell away.
See you in the real world.
On May 22, 2011, I picked up a call from an unknown number.
“Is that Sudhish Kamath?”
“Yes. Who’s this?”
“This is Luv Ranjan. I wanted to thank you for your review…”
*cutting him off*
“Haha! Very funny. Who’s this? I can’t tell your voice since I’m out right now… Nice try though.”
“Where are you right now? Are you in Bombay?”
“You know I’m in Bombay. I’m at Pop Tates, Versova.”
“Will you be there for another 20 minutes?”
“Ok, just stay there. Let me come and thank you in person for your review.”
“Sure. I’m around.”
Twenty minutes later, it turned out that it was Luv Ranjan indeed.
Pyaar Ka Punchnama had just released a couple of days ago. And my review was out earlier that day. “I didn’t want to thank you because it was a good review. I got many reviews that were good. But I thought yours was the only review that GOT what I tried to do with the film. You were the only one who brought up what I did with the climax. For everyone else, the film was about the rant,” he explained.
Contrary to popular opinion, I thought that Punchnama was the rare film to show men as the weaker sex in relationships – manipulated, blackmailed, broken down and reduced to tears – while the girls did seem justified in their behaviour without really doing anything out of villainy, malice or treachery. They simply exercised their agency.
While most people chose to interpret the film as a full blown rant of male angst (which the monologue indeed was but the monologue was in the second act and not the third – part of the conflict and not the resolution) I had interpreted the film as subversion. The film was feminist in my eyes. (The original, not the sequel – the sequel was exactly what people saw the first film as – a comedy about male angst that embraced the broad strokes.)
It was a brief meeting that lasted 20 minutes.
Over the next three years, I called Luv maybe four or five times. Once to ask him if he wanted to collaborate on X – Past is Present (he was busy with Akash Vaani – a film told entirely through the girl’s point of view of an arranged marriage and criminally ignored) and the other times were professional phone calls asking him for his comments about censorship.
On April 2, 2015, after I had announced quitting my day job as a film critic with The Hindu, I got a call from Luv again. “Welcome to the other side,” he said. “I want you to know that I meant what I said the first time I met you. Any help you need, you have a friend in me.”
I thanked him for this genuine heartfelt gesture and went back to figuring out X – Past is Present and another film I was asked to write by the same producer. To cut a long story short, over the next 15 months, I I didn’t get paid for all the work I had done over the last three years. People told me I was stupid to even complain because most people in the business don’t get paid. The business is such that you don’t call out producers – no matter how big or small.
I had exhausted all my life savings because I had put everything I had in the last film in completing X – Past is Present, writing a film without an advance over six months (I had paid for the writing assistant and the recce in Europe) and taken loans to complete my new film Side A Side B instead of sitting and sulking or waiting for things to happen.
Earlier this year, when we were looking at distribution options, I decided to call Luv to ask for his help and expertise. “I really liked the teaser. When can I see the film? If it is what I think it is, I would want to be involved,” he said even before I could ask him for help.
On May 25, 2017, I had a private screening at Lightbox and Luv showed up as promised. He wanted time to process everything he had seen. In June, he called back and said he wanted to be involved in whatever way he could.
When I met him in July, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I had a lucrative offer from a corporate player that would instantly put me in a position of power and pay me enough to be able to fund my own films in the near future but Luv asked me “Do you want to dabble in films? Or do you want to make films. Just films and nothing else.”
He then pitched me a story idea that I instantly loved.
Luv instantly convinced me that big wasn’t necessarily bad and it was possible to tell stories we believed in within the mainstream space.
Wait, someone was telling me I no longer had to take up a job to make ends meet and actually make the kind of movies I wanted to make AND get paid for it?!
It was a no-brainier. I said Yes. In less than a month, when I went to meet him with a synopsis of the story he pitched, he handed me a signing amount. I didn’t even have to ask him. Nor did he bargain the amount I had quoted.
I went on the flesh out the screenplay for the film last month and we put our heads together to figure out a plan for Side A Side B despite his own adventures and chasing release deadlines for his next.
But I never told him what it meant for a writer to be given a cheque without having to ask.
It’s his birthday tonight. And it sounds like a good time.
Thank you, Luv.
For respecting a writer.
For being a friend. And a brother.
For believing. And making me believe again.
I can’t wait for the world to discover what I see in your vision – beyond the Punchnama films.
P.S: I haven’t updated my journey on this blog in over a year since I gave up my flat and hit the road to be a movie monk. So this is a good time to tell you all that I am moving back to my old building next week. Thanks to Luv, I’m home. Again.
(I’m typing this with smartphone blindness. So excuse typos)
Aiban “Joel” Gogoi, a guitarist and activist who feels strongly about the ground reality in the North East, takes a 44 hour-long train journey to accompany his singer-girlfriend Shivranjani Singh who is moving to Mumbai with their cat to explore a life beyond the mountains, even if it means a nine to five job working for a multi-national corporation.
In the course of the journey between Guwahati and Mumbai, they realise they are headed in different directions. This story of two Indias, separated by distance and ambition, is a collection of eight musical moments from the journey. The actors, hence, have sung and performed all songs live on a train in eight long takes.
Side A Side B, a real world musical structured like a 90s album, features eight songs, performed and recorded live on the train. The film, hence, plays out in eight scenes (apart from the Intro and the Bonus Track in the opening and closing credits) shot with two phone cameras in eight long takes.
The musical juxtaposes two contrasting worlds and perspectives employing two contrasting narratives from the 90s. The sacred realism of the Dogme narrative (preserved by long takes and live music on location) is intercut with the time and space jumping aesthetic of the music video narrative.
The young musician-actors have sung and performed all songs themselves and the music director plays the musical narrator of the film. Most of the film was shot on the Kamakhya Express that departed Guwahati on July 7th night by an eight people guerrilla unit in 44 hours.
40 year-old Sudhish Kamath, a journalist and film critic with over 20 years of writing experience, has written, directed and produced three independent feature films. His debut film That Four Letter Word (2006) has been remade in Gujarati this year as Pela Adhi Akshar. In 2010, Kamath made Good Night Good Morning, a conversation film about two strangers falling in love over the course of a phone call on New Year’s Eve in New York. The film had back to back premieres at the Mumbai Film Festival (2010) and the South Asian International Film Festival, New York (2010), played at the Transilvania International Film Festival, Romania (2011), Noordelijk Film Festival, Netherlands (2011), Habitat Film Festival, Delhi (2011) and Silk Screen Film Festival, Pittsburgh(2011). Good Night Good Morning released in January 2012 through PVR Director’s Rare.
In 2013, Kamath brought together 10 other Indian directors with disparate styles of storytelling for the experimental serialised anthology X – Past is Present, to build a bridge between the different cinemas of India. X – Past is Present was the Opening Film at the South Asian International Film Festival (2014) and was selected in the World cinema section of the International Film Festival of Kerala (2014) before it released theatrically in November 2015. The film also played at the Habitat Film Festival, Delhi (2016), Bangalore International Film Festival (2016) and the Indie Meme Festival, Texas (2016).
What people are tweeting about Side A Side B
What do we all want from a partner?
Someone who gives us all the attention and love in the world.
What is the biggest turn off when you are looking for one?
Someone who gives us all the attention and love in the world.
What we want is what also turns us off because we don’t want too much of it in the beginning.
When you like someone, you show interest. Unfortunately though, there is no universally accepted right amount of interest.
If it’s too little, the other doesn’t even know.
If it’s too much, then it becomes a turn off.
If it’s moderated & calculated, it becomes a game.
Nobody likes to play games. Yet everybody ends up moderating, calculating and procrastinating when they find someone who makes them nervous.
But the only way to do it right is be yourself.
If they don’t want someone who shows too much interest or too little interest, then it’s obvious they don’t want it. Whatever be the reason.
You don’t want to get your heart broken over a silly power game. There’s no way anything that begins as a game would end well.
People who like the chase will stop when the conquest is done. Yet, we encourage the chase.
I have found myself guilty of this too. The end of conflict is the end of the story.
This modern dating/gaming system is designed to get hearts broken.
So what do you do? It has nothing to do with how good or bad you look. Don’t take it personally. It’s just not your size.
Go back to the beginning & repeat till you find the right one. The extra large heart.
The best part of being a storyteller is that I always find a story to tell at the end of the day.
As artists, we are intrepid.
We know that the heart soldiers on. It needs no armour. Because the more it breaks, the stronger it gets.
Have seen people fall in love because they feel the need for someone to complete them.
You don’t fall for someone because you are running out of time or options. You fall for someone when you feel you have all the options and the time in the world. You can be with anyone but you choose to be with this one person.
Not because he/she is perfect but because he/she makes you happy in ways nobody else does.
This clarity only comes from self awareness, independence and freedom of being single and not feeling incomplete.
Broken people finding other people to fix them will fall apart once the purpose is fulfilled.
“You complete me” sounds cute in a movie but in real life, we need to complete ourselves first. And unless we are our complete selves, we cannot expect to find happiness through another person.
I think I became a complete person only over the last year after I set myself free and lived out of a suitcase.
When you go around the world, you realise the value of a home.
Yes, the grass is always greener on the other side but being complete means not ever worrying about having to pick a side.
Only a life without regrets will set you free.