R S Prasanna

Spam that tries to be literature.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The End

And with rage,
God withdrew poetry from earth

The End

And Then There Were None

And then there were none
As a kid I kicked around
In the forgiving womb of my mother
She hurt, and I kicked
And then there were none

In school I saw a girl
Loved her, married her
Raised a family with her
We fought over where to place the sofa
Our fights stopped in class Three
When she left school
No bye came my way
Nor the love letter

And then there were none.

In college I changed the world
I stood for President of America
I criticised my father
All fathers and all that came before me
A glorious future
I dreamt
With me fueling the sleep
Then I landed a job

And then there were none

My wife broke my family
She fought over which portion of the will we keep
Not over where to place the sofa
My brother turned foe; My sister, enemy
My mother remembered me
Kicking from inside her womb
This hurt more she said
As she spoke her last words to me
Before going where all men had gone before
And no words were allowed

And then there were none

One day I awoke sweating
My wife was counting gold
She had just returned drunk
From a party
Where my best friend had made a pass at her
The dirty man, she said
As she counted the dirty gold
I looked at her one last time

And then there were none

I ran like I never ran before
The fathers I hated guided my way
I saw my mother with her womb swollen
I saw the love letter that never reached me
And my sweet heart fought with abandon
Over where to place the sofa
Class three, class Two, class One...

And then there were none.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Dear Mr Drona,

Subject: Avatar.

“The visuals look splendid.”

That I heard is the correct password to enter. There, I have said it.

May I introduce myself as a student of yours who stole lessons by watching you work. I am guilty of stealing. Before you get all angry and ask for my (useless) thumb, let me hasten to add something that will make this crime seem petty in comparison. Not only have I stolen lessons from you, but I am daring now to question you about your latest work.

Hold on a sec and consider this before swooping down on me in 3D splendour. This once I did not steal from you. I paid for the ticket to watch your latest work – 'Avatar'. That grants me certain rights. Like the right to have thoughts triggered by your work, and express them. Call it 'Thoughts from the Dumb One'

1) Once again the Truth of cinema was revealed. As was revealed in your brilliant “T2” and “The Abyss” by presence, 'Avatar' proved it by absence. However splendid the form of a movie is, what matters in the end is the screenplay, acting, and direction. If I yawn at places, look around the theatre interiors and predict the lines that are to roll out of my lead actors' lips every so often - I am watching a bad movie. Alright, a splendid looking, jaw-droppingly-luscious 3D bad movie. When a guy invests 1000 crores INR in making a visual spectacle, what prevents him from buying a good script for a teeny weeny fraction of that humongous amount?

2) Why gripe about a 'bad' movie? Becasue this 'guy' happens to be the one who taught me big-action-spectacle movie writing with his T2 and The Abyss (and yes, even Titanic). He is a master. A master can not be forgiven for his small mistakes. (Now is the time, Drona Sir, you may want to huff puff and blow this conceited piece fo dust off the face of Pandora.)

3)More than anything else, I found the politics of the film very very shallow, immature and even plain irritating. So much of 3D layering done on screen, and none what so ever on script. Look at the politics of the film. It is still preaching 'With me or against me'. You have to be a Navi for you to want to protect them. You cannot fight against your brothers. So what does one do? Change the brothers! Reincarnate and get new brothers! You have to choose 'To be or not to be Human' if you want to sympathise with the Navis. Do I have to give up my Indian citizenship if I have to support say, Pakistan on some issue? I have to look and behave like my clan if I want to show them my support. Is that not the problem we are beseiged with today? This regurgitates the same problem of 'Us and the other'. In 3D. If I am a 'Hindu' by birth, by right my other neighbours in the same 'religion' demand my unquestioning support. If I support a cause of a guy from 'the other religion' I am no longer one from my own. I think this movie, more than any other (given the capabilitiy of the director) could have pushed the envelope of this 3D way of thinking too, instead of just the visuals.

4) As for the environmantal 'logic'. I may have been dumb in not getting it, so do tick me off if I am wrong. The humans use fire to fight. (Explosives, fire guns, huge fire balls all around burning the place down.) Isn't this a planet with no oxygen? (Or very very little, if at all? )I mean I saw the humans dying without their gas masks. So how does the fire work without oxygen? And if it is indeed an 'alien fire' burnng out of say methane or some other gas, would not the color be diferent? I am not a great intellectual Sci Fi expert, but I have read some Artur C Clarke books (which is the extent of my scifi exposure - this might be frowned upon by some, I know) I have grown up loving his reconstruction of an alien environment. Well, if I am not wrong (and I still add, I am a dumb guy - did I overlook somethWhen you claim to have created a whole new world in entirety, well, I am left wondering if Drona has just been a tad lazy with his imagination or sci-fi rigour.

It is interesting how every movie is an excuse for us all to don our own avatars and fight for /against the movie. You may not know how many Avatars are floating around (incuding this one and the zillion avatars on Facebook, Twitter and the like) fighting for or against your work. That, dear Master, is indeed your success.

Let me end my arrogant questioning with a disclaimer like the one at the beginning: The movie has within it a zillion man hours of work; some priceless human invention in terms of technology and filmmaking; hordes of creative geniuses working for years to chisel this masterful piece of visual magic. I know. That is no mean feat. Hats off to all of them for that. Cinema is grateful for your work in those departments. I bow to thee with reverence.

But from that bow are launched some arrows. The arrows of Eklavya.

Yours sincerely,
A fan.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Me, Myself and Ranga

Ranga has been good to me. He has helped me a lot in the last one year. I met Ranga one day in a restaurant when I had one of those panic attacks, called 'Deadline Fast Approaching, and No Idea in Place'.

A week to go for my thesis film script submission deadline and here I was whining at a family dinner at a cosy lil restaurant round the corner from home. My bro, as always, turned saviour. He mentioned this Tamil novella that was a family favourite. He narrated a particular story, which I had last heard read out by my dad years ago. As he spoke, forgotten images reappeared in my mind. In the hurry to grow up, I had forgotten this childhood bed time story. It was a wake up call right in time.

I hoped my audiecne would long for the nostalgia of suhc a story. I did, at the least. Where even villains were cute and lovable, and the biggest angst of the protaganist was that he had to play a girl in a village play, to be watched by a sparse crowd of 30 men, if at all!

As I dug into my sambar idli (a south Indian delicacy) with gusto, I realised Ranga could possibly save me.

And he did.

The film went on to win the "Best Film and Director" award at the Graduation ceremony of my film school (L V Prasad) and I received the honor from the hands of Oscar winner A R Rahman. I can never forget how he laughed at all the right places in the film, while I watched him nervously, my heart in my throat!

It was thanks to that film that I travelled to many film festivals (including The Delhi International Fest), and was invited to the Pusan Film Festival's Fellowship program. I also landed a job as a screenwriter in Bollywood, and had the good fortune of working with the legendary filmmaker Santosh Sivan (his film 'The Terrorist' made it to Roger Ebert's 100 Must See films). All this in the span of a year.

Now I have turned media entrepreneur, with plans to make a subtle change to the way internatioal film collaboration can be realised in India. Thanks to my invitation to Berlinale and Pusan, I have had a remarkable learning curve where I have become even more confident that cinema is universal and we can all collaborate in creating a global cinema, using the latest cutting-edge tools of remote communication.

In 2008, my film 'ART' fetched me Best Indian Filmmaker Award from Reelshow, and now 'Ranga Plays a Girl' is up in competition with the best student films. May the Best film win. :)

I take this opportunity to thank Reelshow and all my fellow filmmakers. Cinema unites. It connects and elevates. And in these times of global warming and Human Coldness, I think cinema can be the binding glue for humainty.

From me, my team, and Ranga, a very Happy, peaceful and Cinema-filled New year to you all!

PS: As I write this, I am 3500 feet above mean sea level, close to the Himalayas, India. I am honeymooning with the love of my life. (Yes, we got married last week). Ranga has played a part in that too. But that's a story rserved for later. If and when Ranga takes the bow :)