Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A fArt Movie

This article was posted on rec.music.indian.misc in 1993.

  1. This is a very long article. Over 300 lines.
  2. It has nothing to do with music.
  3. It has no explicit ;-) :-) etc. after this sentence.
  4. It is written by me.
The most famous Marathi author P.L.Deshpande has written an unbelievably hilarious article "Ek Na-Natya" on the Marathi Modern Theatre, aka "Nava-Natya". Any similarity between his article and this article, is purely INTENTIONAL.

A fArt Movie

It was almost 12 noon when I reached the theater. It was a Sunday and the rest of the India was busy watching Mahabharat, esp. as it was known that Madri would be taking a bath a la Mandakini. Now why I was not watching it, is a long story. Suffice it to say that I was fooled into buying this Rs.20 only ticket by a girl who had a great Closeup smile and was doing a social service of promoting fArt movies. It was also my curiosity, my love for adventure which took me there.

There were around 25 people there. It was so silent there and they had such a look on their face, that I thought for a moment that they were mourning somebody's death. Then I noticed that many were discussing something in very low voice and I heard worried phrases like "future of cinematography" and "significance of 'shadow' in Frickmann's movies". I got an idea of where I have landed and my heart sank a little. Some of them looked up at me and ignored me effortlessly.

I looked around and found a person I knew. Oh no, it was this guy Albert Pinto. He has a habit of getting unnecessarily angry. Hesitantly I walked up to him and said "Hi". The silence was broken and all others looked at me disgustingly. Seemed like the fArt movie viewers don't greet each other.

"Oh, and what are YOU doing here", he replied. It was obvious that he was trying to disassociate himself from me.

He continued, "This is not one of your THOSE movies, which are meant to just attract public, which are meant to just gross money". That's why the ticket is 20 Rs., I thought.

He continued, "Those are insult to the art of Cinema. I doubt whether you will ever understand this movie".

He was immensely successful, others looked relieved and went back to their mourning.

"I want to, I will try", I stammered.

"Oh really, but this is true fArt movie, you know", he smiled.

"Yes, may be. I want to ask a beginner's question." I said. "Why this movie is being called a fArt movie ? I mean, it's slightly ... "

Again everybody looked up, the same disgusted expression on their face.

Quickly a bespectacled, thin person came walking towards me. He took me to a corner.

"I am Mohan Joshi", he introduced himself, in "main hazir hun" tone.

He pushed a pamphlet in my hand. "I have written this. It will give you some idea about the greatness of this fArt movie. BTW, I have written 4 books on this subject, each costs just Rs.50. A small amount for you, sir. If you buy all 4, I will give you for 100 Rs.".

The look on my face told him something, and he added, "Oh, this pamphlet is free of cost. Behakani himself published it. Please read."

I said "thank you", excused myself and took one of the plenty empty seats and started reading.

"Aanewaale kal ki puraani yaade :- A fArt movie by Behakani "
I cleaned my glasses and started reading further.

"Lichtenstein is world famous for two things. It's the smallest country in the world and secondly, most important, it is the birthplace of the great late Frickmann, the father of fArt movies."
I didn't know I was such an ignorant man. Everything was a news.

"The medium of pure Art Movies was clearly insufficient, for a talent such as Frickmann's. So he single handedly invented this new technique and to shock the bourgeois, he named it 'fArt movies', an acronym for 'fine Art movies'."

I saw 'danger ahead' signs in my mind.

"He has written, produced and directed around 7 movies, but only 2 were released. An inevitable fate for any great Director. The legend is that Frickmann himself ever wanted to make all his work available to the ignorant masses. But his first movie 'Old Memories of Tomorrow' took the entire world by storm."
The storm definitely spared my house.

"Now Behakani, the living legend of ultra-centrist-modern-theatre has set his foot in the world of Cinema and his first movie is entirely based on Frickmann's First Fine Art movie."
So, this is a fffArt movie ?

"A fArt movie, unlike other movies, doesn't rely on cheap things such as songs, background music etc.. The aim is to bring out the sublime trans-variations of the ulterior cosmic lifeforce behind every human action and objectively study it from a point of view, which is quite opposite to that of Freud, and while maintaining ... "
I decided to do something else.

I started looking around, and I saw Him.

I know Him and I don't know Him. You can find him at many places such as, any ultra-modern art paintings exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery, at Jazz Yatras, at the hyper-modern-literature-conventions ; just about all those arty things which you won't understand in million lives. His presence here, signaled similar dangers. He has many names, many faces but "He" is essentially same. Bald, Socrates beard, sunglasses pushed over forehead, wearing brown khadi kurta, faded Wrangler jeans, Kolhapuri chappals, carrying a Shabnam bag and not to forget the pipe. He never smokes cigarettes, it's always a pipe. He will talk only on topics such as "impressionist paintings movement", "a comparison of Latin and Victorian English" etc. He will never fail to give you an inferiority complex, that's for sure.

Scared to death, I went back to the pamphlet.
"What comes out is a surrealistic dream ... "
God ! This is no better. I inhaled deeply, and again hopefully looked around.

A fat man with is very fat wife came in. I was surprised to hear him talk so loudly, but as he was explaining Frickmann to his wife, other didn't seem to mind.

It was 12:30 and doors of Auditorium opened. The doorkeeper didn't take the trouble to check the tickets, and went to have his 'paan'. I still think that he was sadistically smiling to himself.

We all entered and before I could find a seat away from everybody, the lights went out and 'darkness fell upon' me.

The movie immediately began.
There were no titles. Cheap things, I suppose.

"What a symbolism ! Behakani is avoiding the routine colours and going in for a black and white movie !! How daring !" I turned back. The fAt couple was seating behind me, and the man had started exclaiming even before the movie had really started. It's going to be tough, I thought.

It was quite dark on the screen, I could hardly see anything. There was a sound of footsteps, and a man came in view.

"What an entry !! That's the way to pierce through vacuum, I say." This fAt man was making me nervous, I say.

A few minutes went by. The man on the screen just kept walking. Then he started climbing a staircase. Luckily there was a lamp in the corridor and funny, it was on too.

I could see his face, who is this actor ? Then I remembered, he was this "Suckkaj Bhapoor", who used to do side roles a few years ago. Then he got a role in an Anglo-Indian movie about something in British-Raj by some Sir XYZ. The movie was never released in India. This Suckkaj, who played one of the many dead bodies in the movie, decided that he was too good for Indian cinema, and never acted again. But Behakani is perhaps an exception.

Suckkaj kept on climbing. Why is he not using lift, I thought.

An invisible person shouted at him, "Sharma-ji, aaj jaldi aaye ?", Suckkaj ignored the question.

"What a cameo ! It's Behakani's voice, I tell you." Behakani's fAt fAn had no intention to speak in low voice.

Suckkaj had finally stopped, and was knocking a door. After another agonizingly long period, an elderly looking women opened the door.

"Rony Sazdan" ! Whose forehead is long enough to consider her bald. Only one particular director takes her in his films because ... Well you know, I hate gossip. But how come Behakani took her ?

"Mere shakkar ke laddu, mere mithe dil, tum aa bhi gaye ?" She was saying.

What ? What does this mean, eh ? Mere shakkar ke laddu ? This Rony looked aged enough to be laddu's mother. And what is "mere mithe dil" ? .... Oh, "my sweetheart" ! Behakani didn't look like a good translator.

Suckkaj wasn't in a mood to say anything. He just entered and sat on floor, staring blankly at the ceiling.

"Aaj bhi kuchh nahi hua ?", Rony asked him after 3 minutes 54 seconds. After 2 minutes 19 seconds he said "No".

"Oh mere shakkar ke laddu, mere mithe dil, udaas na ho, kabhi na kabhi to koi na koi kaam milhi jayega", She said.

Oh, so unemployment was their problem. Very arty indeed.

She was saying, "Oh mere shakkar ke laddu, mere mithe dil, mere dimakh ke mahaa-samraat, khargosh jaisi pyari muchho waale mere pati, agar shifaris hoti to tum ek hoshiyar pandit, ya sundar gaayak, ya supreme court ke judge, ya akhand hindosthan ke senaapati ya Pope ke varishtha mantri ban jaate. Koi bhi kami nahi hai tum me !"

Behakani, you named this character as "Sharma" and you make his wife expect him to become "Pope ke varishtha mantri" ? Oh my kind Pope John Paul II, forgive him, he knows not what he writes.

"Haan, tum thiik kehti ho", Suckkaj said.

Some modesty !

"Aur tum", he continued, "tum to bina shifaris ki ek jawwan kabootar ke tareh awaaj waali, ek nanhisi untani ki tareh daaton waali aur ek pyaarisi morani ki tareh chaal waali ho, tum mahaan ho".

"Kyon mazaak kar rahe ho apani laadli se ?" She "Sharma"ke said.
"Main such keh raha hun".
"Nahi, nahi, ..."
"Haan, haan, ..."

This went on for a while. Get on with the story guys, I said.
But they were enjoying praising each other.

"What bearing ! Look at their age and how aptly they are acting the roles of young people". The fAt man ! Now this was too much, I got up and sat a few seats away.

"Kya din aaye hai, aur wo kya din the !" Suckkaj wan saying.

"Tumhe yaad hai ? Hum Marine Drive pe chal rahe the, aur achanak jorse barf girne lagi."

Snow on Marine Drive ? Yeh kya ho raha hai Behakani ?

"Haan, kyo yaad nahi, Diwaali ka din tha aur usi din to tumne mujhe ek Diwaali ke ped ke saamane 'fur' ki saari leke dene ka waada kiya tha, jo tumane mujhe abhi tak leke nahi di hain."

Err ? Diwaali ka ped ? 'fur' ki saari ?

"Haan, par ye mat bhulo, ki maine usi din tumhe Shankar Chacha ki dukan par garam garam wine pilayi thi".

That's it ! That's it ! This Behakani was drinking perhaps the same wine while writing the script. The snow of Lichtenstein falling in Bombay, X'mas becoming Diwaali etc. Behakani, whose enemy you are ? Frickmann's or mine ?

She continued, "Aur tumane us Shankar Chacha ko akhir tak paise nahi diye. O mere shakkar ke laddu, mere mithe dil, mere dimakh ke mahaa- samraat, khargosh jaisi pyari muchho waale mere pati, agar shifaris hoti to tum ek hoshiyar pandit, ya sundar gaayak, ya supreme court ke judge, ya akhand hindosthan ke senaapati ya Pope ke varishtha mantri ban jaate. Koi bhi kami nahi hai tum me !"

And again they started praising each other.
Then there was a silence for a while, they were obviously tired.

He started again, "Usi Diwaali ke baad to sab hua. Aur jab saare Bambai shahar me Vasant-ritu aa gayaa, tab Kamala Nehru Park ke us Cherry ke ped ke neeche hum baithe the, aur ek gaanewaalaa aa gaya."

"Haan, aur usne jo Mozart ki prasiddha raag Saarang ki rachanaa - ek chhotasa nisha-sangeet - gaayi, to main hanso ki tareh jhoom uthi".

Behakani didn't spare even Mozart. "Kleine Nachtmusik" became "ek chhotasa nish-sangeet", that too in an afternoon raag Saarang. And on top of it somebody sang it ! Bravo ! The "hansa" was perhaps a reference to "Swan Lake". I was beginning to understand it after all.

He was saying, "Aur phir maine tumhe Multaniji ki dono Sunitaye - 'Swarg kho gaya' or 'Swarg Dubara Mila' sunayi."

I got it ! I got it ! 'Multani ji ki Sunita' is nothing but 'Milton's Sonnet'. It hardly matters that neither 'Paradise Lost' nor 'Paradise Regained' has anything to do with Sonnet. I got it anyway ! Behakani, you can't beat me now.

She exclaimed, "Haan mere shakkar ke laddu ... shifaris hoti to .."
He added, "Aur tum bina shifaris ke ... "

Again and again Behakani/Frickmann was coming back to sqaure one.

"What timing", the fAt man shouted. This time I didn't change only seats, I also changed rows to get away from this guy.

Then suddenly lights went out in their house. Rony lit a candle. Very predictably Suckkaj's half face was lighted, other half was dark.

And very predictably the fAn man shouted "What direction !", and very predictably I changed a few more rows.

Then they started discussing their marriage.

"Pitaji Janardan to mahaan gyani the. Portugese Church ki paheli aarati to hamesha wohi shuru karate the. Hamaari shaadi me bhi, unhone sara Upanishad itne acchese padha ki, sab log uthkar 'Amen' kehne lage."

Manmohan Desai effect - on Behakani ? Father John becomes Pitaji Janardan ! Yes, Amen !

"Aur wo Pandeji ? Sharaab pi pi kar naach kar rahe the ... "

To, Sharma-ji ki shaadi me sharaab mil rahi thi ?

Suckkaj said "Haan, muze pata tha, ye log muft ki daru bahot peete hain. Isiliye to maine sasti waali mangayi thi."

Rony thought it as very ecstatic. And she again took off "Kitne hoshiyaar ho mere shakkar ke laddu ... shifaris hoti to .."

After such a lively discussion suddenly lights came back.

I covered my ears to save myself form another comment. And this time I was successful ! The fAt voice couldn't enter my ears !

Now they were blankly looking at each other.

"Kal kya karenge ?" Suckkaj asked.
"Aise hi, puraani yaadon ko taazaa karenge." She said.

And the movie ended ! Really !!

It had lasted for just above an hour. I didn't know, how to react. I just sat there for a few seconds, wondering how to make any sense out of this trash. It had really ended, not that I was particularly unhappy about that. I wondered who is bad ? Is it Behakani or is it Frickmann ? I decided that both of them are bad.

The lights came back, and I blinked a few times to adjust my eyes to the new light. (Isn't this arty ?).

Slowly I walked out of the theatre. Others were again displaying the mourning expression on their faces. They were very seriously discussing the greatness of the movie. I couldn't control myself, and just burst out laughing. Others started staring at me, totally shocked ! During those moments I lost all my inferiority complex.

Albert Pinto came walking towards me and asked, "Hey what happened ?".

I said, "Yes, you were right. This is a real fart movie."

He obviously got very angry and I walked off, laughing like mad.

That Sunday evening I enjoyed a stupid movie on Durdarshan as I have enjoyed no other movie.

- Abhay.
Coming soon to your favourite newsgroup :-
Frickmann's second fArt movie - brought in Hindi by Behakani.

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