The Unabashed Endearing Vulnerability of Call me By your Name

I have to admit, I havn’t explored director Luca Guadagnino’s work before. But I have read the book Call me By your Name, so watching the movie was something I was dreading. But imagine my surprise when I came across a movie that made me forget to actually compare it to the book. (that, never happens!)

Set ‘somewhere in Italy’ in 1983, for the initial first hour of the movie, I kept wondering what language the movie was in, and it made me realize how the first pre-conceived notion we have about any movie begins with the language. Italian means scenic yet European in its sensibilities, French might be sensual and American, brash.  But Call me By your Name walks right past those barriers with its seamless navigation between Italian/English/French languages. Luca Guadagnino blends the sensibilities of North American and European independent cinema. The result is lyrical, accessible and one of 2017’s finest films.

Call-Me-By-Your-Name-1-1600x900-c-defaultTo briefly sum it up, the movie is a story of a once-in-a-lifetime love between the 17-year-old Italian Elio and 20-something cocky American academic Oliver, played out over a brief six week period but recalled over and over for a lifetime. Love, being the keyword. Because there is nothing brash about this romance. Infact it is incredibly passionate yet equally tender in its nature, like most relationships are. Elio is the intelligent, charming son of archeology professor Samuel Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg), with whom Oliver, a graduate student, is interning for the summer. Guadagnino’s film, based on the 2007 novel by André Aciman, takes us through Elio and Oliver’s relationship, which develops haltingly at first but then burns and seeps into every pore of your skin.

 

 

call-ne-by-your-name-timothee-chalamet.jpgElio is someone desperate to take the growing-up process in his stride despite how scary it may be. Though he’s a teenager desperate for the approval of everyone around him, he has this vulnerability that he displays only occasionally. Timothy Chalamet portrays Elio who is genuinely aloof and cold at times. He is a teenager struggling to fit into the so called molds of the society by appearing cool and nonchalant when he really is not. It is so endearing to see his relationship with his mother, which has no barriers. It is sweet and raw and tender. He can cry in front of his mother and laugh and fall in love and hug her out of nowhere.

cmbyn4

Armie Hammer, who could so easily be reduced to the part of a typically handsome Hollywood stand-in, is enthralling; he shifts between Oliver’s public brashness and private tenderness with ease, making his character far more than a simple object of desire. Oliver is the blazing embodiment of cocky self-confidence, and yet, there’s an endearing vulnerability in the way he needs for Elio to make the first move — setting the tempo for the deliciously tentative courtship dance between them.He’s flirty but tender—the couple’s love scenes are heartbreaking and intensely erotic all at once—and even though he’s the more experienced of the two, he can’t help but diving in headlong.

And lurking in the background is Stuhlbarg, wonderful as a knowing father who is content to mostly let his son figure things out by himself, but who steps in with a guiding hand when things get a little tougher.

Both intensely erotic and intensely contained, the movie acknowledges the very private lives gay men were forced to lead in the early 1980s, when the film is set. As a result, in Call Me by Your Name,virtually every bit of physical contact is crucial and electrifying. The way Elio and Oliver peel away each other’s layers has both a sweetness and a giddy thrill to it. The romance is complete with silent, unspoken understandings and messages that bounce around public space and crowded rooms full of oblivious straights. It’s about tension, desire, longing, rather than big events.

call-me-by-your-name-movie-two

Guadagnino’s sensual attention to the textures and smells and intimate noises of Italian life builds out a cinematic world that encompasses his characters but is much greater than them.

Call Me by Your Name is an opulent, intoxicating experience for the body, but it’s also an arousal for the soul.The lazy European summer glows with nostalgic warmth, as the textured stock captures the haze of the beating sun and the azure blues of water and sky. Frames if you pause them can turn into paintings and the symbolism that remains heady yet firmly in the background, the aesthetics put a huge smile on my face.

I admire how the movie is not anything about the politics or the social aspect of gay romance. This isn’t a film about wrongdoing and punishment; it is about love, loss, and piercing joy in the context of a gay romance. We know (and Oliver and Elio and Elio’s parents know) that this gorgeous intoxicating generous romance can’t last forever, but in capturing the burn, Guadagnino makes us feel Elio’s desire, and thus his devastation. Every image practically drips with longing: a live fish someone’s trapped in the river, pages flapping in the hot breeze, water pouring from a tap into a stone pool, a table spread with breakfast arrangements, the smouldering end of a cigarette.

 

One of my favourite scenes is when Oliver pleading in a whisper to Elio, after they’ve finally slept together, for him to “call me by your name, and I’ll call you by mine.”. though a strange request it might seem, it is a direct reference to Plato’s Symposium and the theory of humans split in half, which we now call the origin story for Soulmates.

Another scene is one of the most beautiful monologues I have witnessed recently; in a surprisingly heart-warming conversation between Elio and his Father,the film offers this conversation as a gift to audiences who might have desperately needed to hear it in their own lives.

Note, You’ll want to stay all the way through the closing credits—that long, last image is so transfixing. I seriously don’t know how Chalamet pulled it off, but there is serious craft on display here.

Call my By Your Name is a swooning tale about the seismic power of first love—one that doesn’t dismiss Elio’s experience as a folly of youth, but instead digs into the unmistakable trace it leaves, for better or worse.

 

 

Chaos

It has been a while since I got my bearings back. I mean yes, I have been posting and yes I have been very active on my social media but we all know the facade that social media can be. With almost every aspect of my life in shambles, I stopped talking, writing and immersed myself in binge-watching and binge-reading. Afterall, isn’t peeping into someone else’s life always better than examining your own?

But as JKR fondly says, rock bottom became the solid foundation upon which I built my life, I have began a similar attempt. Yesterday night, I tore out every single picture I hung upon my walls, all my resumes and portfolios and CVs and everything that in an explicable way was the world’s way to define me, or my own attempts to be less of an enigma and make myself more of an open book for the world to see.

That is where this came from. This collage is a collation of everything I tore down and the words that go with it, every emotion I felt while tearing everything down. This was also an exercise in #erasurepoetry, the words and the ideas came from all the words that are hidden somewhere in this collage and I guess, here, I start another attempt to try and make sense of the complete disorder that my life currently is. Maybe arranging the pieces of this upheaval, maybe the same broken pieces can turn into a roadmap to something that makes sense.

Collage artwork

Its strange how the image I’ve built of myself has been getting pixelated lately,
cracking right at the curves I was so proud to begin with
pixels turning into scraps into cracks
with glue no longer holding them in.

There are a lot of places you can find me
What you see is only the shell I choose to show
Colors I wish to be.
Most days you can see me gazing out the balcony
Watching days turn into nights
Till the light blues of the sky turn to pinks
Evenings into beautiful star-struck landscapes.

Or burning strands of my hair
Past
to fire to ashes; raven enough to take flight into stories I wish I were part of
Lives I wished I had lived enough to turn white.

I have a penchant for getting lost in between pages,
Losing parts of me I barely even recognised in the first place
Jigsaw puzzles barely resolved;
I think I have been a puzzle to myself all my life
Trying to either give away parts of me
Or walk into the night with a flickering flame
trying to find where I left them in the first place,
Watching the flame flicker into shapes it can’t hold itself into
Stretching and flickering hiding,
Trying to be everything it can in the short span it lives.

I have seen myself burn in these flames
I have seen faces and places
And just about everything a flame could be
Love
Lust
Violence
Anger
Greed
Desire
To be
More than what I would ever be
Flickering
Dying a slow death
Of decay.

Is all I am a list of my personal skills
Ones you can grade me upon
How will you count the black holes on my soul
Or indulgence and self loathing?

Somehow I always want to capture every sunset I am fortunate enough to see
The blue turn into oranges on the horizons turn to black,
Blending seamlessly into one another
Pouring gold into cracks till they no longer exist
though enough for me to see; Night vision
Till every light shines brighter and every spark shines brighter than to just make a little noise in the skies
But enough for anyone paying attention to see.

I try to mix paints to paint the perfect sky
Only mine isnt ever as seamless as it should be,
The darks are always darker and the brights always hint off their real color
Like reality seems reluctant to get inside the sheet of paper I pour it out on,
Proud off its originality
Too proud for me to imitate
Or attempt.

Do all these poems mean anything?
The search for empathy and acceptance
To change to world
With black and white
Or trying to paint the night sky?

Am I more than what you see
And what you don’t ?
I build houses on shaky foundations
That aren’t even mine to build upon

An odyssey without a destination
And I have just begun.

– Chaos

 

Stranger Things 2 : What A Beauty

I once got a meme saying ” If you think you have made bad choices in life, remember there were 13 publishers who rejected the manuscript for Harry Potter.”

13 publishers rejected the Harry Potter series before JK Rowling landed a deal with Bloomsbury. Approximately 15 networks also, rejected Stranger thing before it landed a Netflix deal. Lets just take this moment to consider, the last time people in positions of power rejected art because the protagonists were children, or the heroes were nerds and underdogs, they lost on Harry Potter. And now Stranger Things.

|Spoiler Alert|

There’s no better way to say it. If you thought the first season was crazy, this one will blow you away. Let me just say this. Stranger things 2, is a thing of pure beauty. It’s bigger, better, weirder and more amazing than any of us imagined.  And so much better than season 1.

The Duffer brothers know how to play their cards right. From casting Winona Ryder to discovering Millie Bobby Brown to making all of us nerds look good, they have built a solid foundation in the first season. The second season, build upon the story and oh, the way they build it up! Also can you believe how grown up the kids look, suddenly?

StrangerThings.jpg

It’s rare for a TV series to come out of the gate as self-assured and as well-received as Stranger Things did, and even rarer for it to be able to maintain that into a second season. But somehow, The Duffer Brothers have again managed to wield their particular alchemy and create a follow-up worthy of the hype created by its predecessor.

Building the story arc much better and much stronger than it was in the first season, this time, the story is much comfortable with letting all the characters explore their own lives and their own pursuits.

Let’s begin with the Music. Oh my god. The soundtrack for the second season is so integral to the storytelling. The makes have used songs and music to emotionally manipulate us. There are moments where you are on the edge of your seat, biting your nails or just sitting aghast as to what just happened. And that was just the music.

Stranger Things 2 Soundtrack Header

We finally have Will as the center of the story this season. Noah Schnapp is a revelation. After being barely more than a prop last year, he does a ton of heavy-lifting here. Some truly horrifying things happen to Will this season, and Schnapp takes a huge step forward with his performance, just like Bobby Brown did last year with Eleven.

Mike who was the lead last season is on more of a back seat. He talks to Eleven every day over the walkie-talkie, counting off how many days it’s been since he last saw her. He’s bitter over losing her and misses her more than the other boys do. One of the things I wish they would have done was give Mike more to do. He spends a lot of his time at Will’s side, and although he makes some important discoveries here and there throughout the season, he’s far from playing the central role he had in season 1, which is unfortunate given Finn Wolfhard’s amazing acting chops. There are definitely some emotional peaks for Mike, but he’s in the background far too often.

The emotional quotient has certainly gone up with the second season. The kids have aged, they have gone through an ordeal most 11 year old don’t think of. They are not only grown up but also matured. A Harry Potter parellel again. You see these kids grow up. Every character shares a bond with will make your heart melt; Will and Jonathan, Hopper and Eleven, Mike and Eleven, Lucas and Max, Dustin with Dárt and the most unexpected of them all, Steve and Dustin. In addition to finding five kid actors who can nail every emotional beat, the show’s taken cast members who are just chameleons aging into their parts like it is the easiest thing they have done; effortless.

Is there a better cast role than David Harbor as Hopper? Every single expression and movement he makes has weight to it. The scenes with him and Eleven are so heartbreaking and emotionally charged. Those two play off each other better than anyone could have hoped.

Also can we talk about just how awesome Steve was in this season? He and Dustin are a pair I never thought would happen but What A Team. Also, he finally revealed the secret to his superb hair. 

Steve's hair secret

I can’t help but draw parallels to Harry Potter’s leglimency and the connection between Will and the Shadow Monster. The monster can read through Will. It goes all the way from spying to a hint of exorcism. Will’s character goes through so much horror in this season but its Joyce who shines brighter than before. Very early on we know it’s not only Will who’s going through what can be called PTSD. Everyone is paranoid. Joyce, all the more so. She won’t let WIll out of her sight. She needs him in front of her eyes to know she’s safe and as usual, she does that with all the tact and grace of an over-concerned parent. She is the badass mother who will not sit quiet and let anything hurt her children. And if needed she wont hesitate to kill.

Many would disagree here but I personally loved the seventh episode. An arc from the Hawkins storyline, this episode has none of the original cast. Eleven spent all her life looking for a home, first trying to understand what home was and then looking for a place to call home. Let’s just say, its absolutely beautiful to see how she goals all around, follows all the hints and clues,  listens to anyone who would help on what their take on a home was. She tried them all. But the beauty lies in how after all that she chooses to come back again to realise home is exactly where she was.

That scene where Joyce, Jonathan and Mike all recount intimate stories with Will to break through the Smoke Monster’s hold on him? Perfection. Mike and Eleven’s reunion was beautiful and the “Should I Stay or Should I Go” montage is a standout sequence. Watch Will’s family perform a space heater-assisted exorcism on him and tell me you don’t get the heebie-jeebies (people still use that term, right?). Watch our heroes split up into three teams to beat back the Upside Down and tell me you don’t think that’s just plain cool.

This season is way more fast paced than the previous one. While the makers hit the ground running, they are very careful not to go too fast and leave a stone unturned. They know what got them here: strong characters and detailed storytelling. By the end of the season, all the storylines converge in a realistic and satisfying way. The new characters make sense, and and and THEY GOT ONE OF THE ORIGINAL GOONIES! The writing is stronger than season one as well. While there are plenty of 80’s references and callbacks, they are all natural and welcome.

What wouldn’t I give to live in a time when Dolly Parton and Duran Duran were the in thing!

Stranger Things 2 lives up to the hype. It delivers, in spades. There are moments of pure enthrallment. It never gets stale. It’s never boring. Trust me when I say you’ll binge it, it will keep you on your toes, it will keep you waiting, excited, it will make you laugh and cry and fall in love and just like that, when it’s over, it will also make you hate yourself for binging it.

One last thing.

They really don’t like characters whose names begin with B do they?

stranger-things-season-2-sean-astin-winona-ryder-600x400

 

My son was a Columbine shooter. This is my story

I generally don’t share TED talks but this one, is so so so very important. It gave me hope, and answers to questions I keep asking myself when it comes to the mental health of people around me. Sue Klebold is honest, and raw and completely uninhibited in her story.  She nowhere defends Dylan Klebold’s acts but rather looks at it from the underside of a microscope to understand where he would have been coming from.

Source: TED.com 

The last time I heard my son’s voice was when he walked out the front door on his way to school. He called out one word in the darkness: “Bye.”

 

It was April 20, 1999. Later that morning, at Columbine High School, my son Dylan and his friend Erickilled 12 students and a teacher and wounded more than 20 others before taking their own lives.Thirteen innocent people were killed, leaving their loved ones in a state of grief and trauma. Others sustained injuries, some resulting in disfigurement and permanent disability. But the enormity of the tragedy can’t be measured only by the number of deaths and injuries that took place. There’s no way to quantify the psychological damage of those who were in the school, or who took part in rescue or cleanup efforts. There’s no way to assess the magnitude of a tragedy like Columbine, especially when it can be a blueprint for other shooters who go on to commit atrocities of their own. Columbine was a tidal wave, and when the crash ended, it would take years for the community and for society to comprehend its impact.

It has taken me years to try to accept my son’s legacy. The cruel behavior that defined the end of his life showed me that he was a completely different person from the one I knew. Afterwards people asked, “How could you not know? What kind of a mother were you?” I still ask myself those same questions.

Before the shootings, I thought of myself as a good mom. Helping my children become caring,healthy, responsible adults was the most important role of my life. But the tragedy convinced me that I failed as a parent, and it’s partially this sense of failure that brings me here today. Aside from his father, I was the one person who knew and loved Dylan the most. If anyone could have known what was happening, it should have been me, right? But I didn’t know.

Today, I’m here to share the experience of what it’s like to be the mother of someone who kills and hurts. For years after the tragedy, I combed through memories, trying to figure out exactly where I failed as a parent. But there are no simple answers. I can’t give you any solutions. All I can do is share what I have learned.

When I talk to people who didn’t know me before the shootings, I have three challenges to meet.First, when I walk into a room like this, I never know if someone there has experienced loss because of what my son did. I feel a need to acknowledge the suffering caused by a member of my family who isn’t here to do it for himself. So first, with all of my heart, I’m sorry if my son has caused you pain.

The second challenge I have is that I must ask for understanding and even compassion when I talk about my son’s death as a suicide. Two years before he died, he wrote on a piece of paper in a notebook that he was cutting himself. He said that he was in agony and wanted to get a gun so he could end his life. I didn’t know about any of this until months after his death. When I talk about his death as a suicide, I’m not trying to downplay the viciousness he showed at the end of his life. I’m trying to understand how his suicidal thinking led to murder. After a lot of reading and talking with experts, I have come to believe that his involvement in the shootings was rooted not in his desire to kill but in his desire to die.

The third challenge I have when I talk about my son’s murder-suicide is that I’m talking about mental health — excuse me — is that I’m talking about mental health, or brain health, as I prefer to call it, because it’s more concrete. And in the same breath, I’m talking about violence. The last thing I want to do is to contribute to the misunderstanding that already exists around mental illness. Only a very small percent of those who have a mental illness are violent toward other people, but of those who die by suicide, it’s estimated that about 75 to maybe more than 90 percent have a diagnosable mental health condition of some kind. As you all know very well, our mental health care system is not equipped to help everyone, and not everyone with destructive thoughts fits the criteria for a specific diagnosis. Many who have ongoing feelings of fear or anger or hopelessness are never assessed or treated. Too often, they get our attention only if they reach a behavioral crisis. If estimates are correct that about one to two percent of all suicides involves the murder of another person, when suicide rates rise, as they are rising for some populations, the murder-suicide rates will rise as well.

I wanted to understand what was going on in Dylan’s mind prior to his death, so I looked for answers from other survivors of suicide loss. I did research and volunteered to help with fund-raising events,and whenever I could, I talked with those who had survived their own suicidal crisis or attempt.

One of the most helpful conversations I had was with a coworker who overheard me talking to someone else in my office cubicle. She heard me say that Dylan could not have loved me if he could do something as horrible as he did. Later, when she found me alone, she apologized for overhearing that conversation, but told me that I was wrong. She said that when she was a young, single motherwith three small children, she became severely depressed and was hospitalized to keep her safe. At the time, she was certain that her children would be better off if she died, so she had made a plan to end her life. She assured me that a mother’s love was the strongest bond on Earth, and that she loved her children more than anything in the world, but because of her illness, she was sure that they would be better off without her.

What she said and what I’ve learned from others is that we do not make the so-called decision or choice to die by suicide in the same way that we choose what car to drive or where to go on a Saturday night. When someone is in an extremely suicidal state, they are in a stage four medical health emergency. Their thinking is impaired and they’ve lost access to tools of self-governance. Even though they can make a plan and act with logic, their sense of truth is distorted by a filter of pain through which they interpret their reality. Some people can be very good at hiding this state, and they often have good reasons for doing that. Many of us have suicidal thoughts at some point, but persistent, ongoing thoughts of suicide and devising a means to die are symptoms of pathology, and like many illnesses, the condition has to be recognized and treated before a life is lost.

But my son’s death was not purely a suicide. It involved mass murder. I wanted to know how his suicidal thinking became homicidal. But research is sparse and there are no simple answers. Yes, he probably had ongoing depression. He had a personality that was perfectionistic and self-reliant, and that made him less likely to seek help from others. He had experienced triggering events at the school that left him feeling debased and humiliated and mad. And he had a complicated friendship with a boy who shared his feelings of rage and alienation, and who was seriously disturbed, controlling and homicidal. And on top of this period in his life of extreme vulnerability and fragility, Dylan found access to guns even though we’d never owned any in our home. It was appallingly easy for a 17-year-old boy to buy guns, both legally and illegally, without my permission or knowledge. And somehow, 17 years and many school shootings later, it’s still appallingly easy.

What Dylan did that day broke my heart, and as trauma so often does, it took a toll on my body and on my mind. Two years after the shootings, I got breast cancer, and two years after that, I began to have mental health problems. On top of the constant, perpetual grief I was terrified that I would run into a family member of someone Dylan had killed, or be accosted by the press or by an angry citizen.I was afraid to turn on the news, afraid to hear myself being called a terrible parent or a disgusting person.

I started having panic attacks. The first bout started four years after the shootings, when I was getting ready for the depositions and would have to meet the victims’ families face to face. The second round started six years after the shootings, when I was preparing to speak publicly about murder-suicide for the first time at a conference. Both episodes lasted several weeks. The attacks happened everywhere: in the hardware store, in my office, or even while reading a book in bed. My mind would suddenly lock into this spinning cycle of terror and no matter how I hard I tried to calm myself down or reason my way out of it, I couldn’t do it. It felt as if my brain was trying to kill me, and then, being afraid of being afraid consumed all of my thoughts. That’s when I learned firsthand what it feels like to have a malfunctioning mind, and that’s when I truly became a brain health advocate. With therapy and medication and self-care, life eventually returned to whatever could be thought of as normal under the circumstances.

When I looked back on all that had happened, I could see that my son’s spiral into dysfunctionprobably occurred over a period of about two years, plenty of time to get him help, if only someone had known that he needed help and known what to do.

Every time someone asks me, “How could you not have known?”, it feels like a punch in the gut. It carries accusation and taps into my feelings of guilt that no matter how much therapy I’ve had I will never fully eradicate. But here’s something I’ve learned: if love were enough to stop someone who is suicidal from hurting themselves, suicides would hardly ever happen. But love is not enough, and suicide is prevalent. It’s the second leading cause of death for people age 10 to 34, and 15 percent of American youth report having made a suicide plan in the last year. I’ve learned that no matter how much we want to believe we can, we cannot know or control everything our loved ones think and feel,and the stubborn belief that we are somehow different, that someone we love would never think of hurting themselves or someone else, can cause us to miss what’s hidden in plain sight. And if worst case scenarios do come to pass, we’ll have to learn to forgive ourselves for not knowing or for not asking the right questions or not finding the right treatment. We should always assume that someone we love may be suffering, regardless of what they say or how they act. We should listen with our whole being, without judgments, and without offering solutions.

I know that I will live with this tragedy, with these multiple tragedies, for the rest of my life. I know that in the minds of many, what I lost can’t compare to what the other families lost. I know my struggle doesn’t make theirs any easier. I know there are even some who think I don’t have the right to any pain, but only to a life of permanent penance.

In the end what I know comes down to this: the tragic fact is that even the most vigilant and responsible of us may not be able to help, but for love’s sake, we must never stop trying to know the unknowable.

Thank you.

 

#MeToo : What it does NOT mean

The first thing I saw yesterday morning was Andrea Gibson’s Me too status. It left me a little bit puzzled. But the minute I delved into it, the whole thing got pretty clear.

380

By the end of the day, I opened my Facebook timeline to see almost every girl write a #MeToo status. It had spread across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. A huge number of sexual assault and harassment survivors are sharing their stories online. An untold number of women posted “me too” and revealed their deeply intimate experiences of abuse. Their stories flooded social media and painted a picture of just how many people endure sexual abuse and harassment every day.

For a long time, most women defined their own sexual harassment and assault in this way: as something unspoken, something private, something to be ashamed of acknowledging. Silence, although understandable, has its cost. A decade ago, I couldn’t have conceived of the fact that so many women had experienced sexual coercion or intimidation; now, I’d be surprised if I could find a single one who hadn’t. On Sunday afternoon, the actress Alyssa Milano used her Twitter account to encourage women who’d been sexually harassed or assaulted to tweet the words #MeToo. In the last 24 hours, a spokesperson from Twitter confirmed, the hashtag had been tweeted nearly half a million times. – The Atlantic 

More than 30,000 women, and some men, had replied to the tweet by Monday morning. Thousands of others have posted the words on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles. It has been harrowing, heartening and most of all, traumatic for me to see just who all, and how many of us have been silenced. It took me back to the time I spoke up about my own assault and had more than 25 others come upto me saying they had similar stories.

And while this is primarily a “women-centric” campaign, Some men also joined in including Javier Muñoz, who is best known for playing Alexander Hamilton in the broadway musical Hamilton. He said: “Me too. I don’t know if means anything coming from a gay man but it’s happened. Multiple times.” A lot of my own male friends have stood by while telling their own stories.

And while the magnitude of the #Metoo is enough to get me off axis, what wasn’t surprising was the amount of hate it got. It’s like a central axis divide where some men in my friend list are either completely opposing the campaign saying the “feminazi” are going at it again or there’s the kind that say “Hey you women always forget men go through these issues too.” , thus completely taking over the whole thing by saying women have a tendency to make things about themselves and hype things up in the name of feminism.

Well, let me tell you what feminism is NOT. Or the #MeToo campaign is NOT.

  • When a woman says she was abused, molested, assaulted or raped, it takes her more courage to say that than you could ever fathom. Her, accepting something like this happened to her, in a society where the immediate reaction is either victim blaming or suspicion as to why it wasn’t reported earlier, it takes all there is inside us, to admit it actually happened. In that moment, we are NOT making a dig at men.
  • Imagine living a life where all you hear is  ‘you’re just over-reacting’, he ‘didn’t mean it’, he’s ‘a good person, don’t worry’ and worst of all — ‘he’s harmless’ while you shudder through it all and have to “let it pass in dignity without making a scene” This is how we silence victims. And we are finally speaking up.
  • Nowhere in the statement Me too, is a woman pointing fingers so the #NotAllMen, makes absolutely no sense.
  • Men, assault, rape and molestation arent “women-centric issues”. If you have been through something similar, participate. Join us in saying Me Too. It’s about letting the magnitude of sexual crimes show. Nowhere are we limiting this to gender. If a person is molested, their gender, in no way plays a role in how heinous the act was.
  • For every time I talk about equality, there is always a man telling me “men go through trouble too, just because we don’t raise our voices doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.”

Then men, Raise your voices.

  • Sexual assault is not limited to a specific gender. While women at large are victims of someone’s perversion, there are men and them too who have been a victim of sexual harassment and abuse. And No one is denying that.

 

  • Women, when they fight for their own rights, are in no way asking for yours to be taken away. It never ceases to amaze me how men have the ability to make everything about themselves. For every time I talk about a women’s issue from pay gap to healthcare to stigma to simple family patriarchy, there’s always a man either trying to “explain” it to me as to how I am making a big deal out of nothing, or worse, telling me how “Men go through problems too.”

So tell me this, How, I really fail to see, how, when I say I was abused am I pointing fingers at you? It’s a fact, that 1 in every three girls has been raped and abused. It is a fact. How is that, denying that you haven’t been through pain?

Feminism is about equality.

Look up stats. UN reports say a woman is 70% more likely to be abused than a man is. A woman gets paid less than a man is. Women are almost 51% of the population yet US reports 20% representation in the government. The list goes on. And on. And On.

Nowhere, when a woman asks for her equal share, is she asking for a man’s part of the share. Nowhere is a woman telling a man is lesser. The sole purpose of the Me Too campaign was for us to say it out loud. To stand alongside others who need that. To make people hear.

And if you are here, telling me how it’s just a cry for attention and men go through same problems too, just goes to show what we have been saying all along. Stop making it about yourself. It not. And it never will be.

PS : Unlike many kinds of social-media activism, #MeToo isn’t a call to action or the beginning of a campaign, culminating in a series of protests and speeches and events. It’s simply an attempt to get people to understand the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in society. To get women, and men, to raise their hands.

Obama : Audacity to still Hope…

The cover, titled “Reflection,” by Bob Staake, was published eight years ago to honor his victory.

I don’t claim to understand politics. Sometimes I have no idea what to think, but I think I know people. And maybe integrity when I see it.  This man, whoever and however, has earned the right to be thoroughly missed.

I began my walk to the world of the Obamas with Audacity to Hope, the book. I fell in love with the man who had walked such a long illustrious path to be the person he was, the President-Elect of the United States of America.

President Barack Obama addressed the nation for the last time as its leader Tuesday night, delivering a powerful, truthful, intelligent farewell address that detailed what his administration has been able to achieve for the country and the problems it may face under president-elect Donald Trump.

Read the full transcript of his farewell address, obtained from the White House by the LA Times, below. And yes I realise it’s tempting to see the video, I believe this speech needs to be read. Check out the video below!

It’s good to be home. My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks. Whether we’ve seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant outposts – are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going. Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.

I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss. This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.

After eight years as your President, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea – our bold experiment in self-government.

It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.

This is the great gift our Founders gave us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination – and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good.

For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.

So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.

Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.

If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history…if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11…if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens – you might have said our sights were set a little too high.

0f01c4661126f257ed9541755ed546a2

But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change. You answered people’s hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.

In ten days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected president to the next. I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.

We have what we need to do so. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth. Our youth and drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention mean that the future should be ours.

But that potential will be realized only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of the our people. Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.

That’s what I want to focus on tonight – the state of our democracy.

Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.

55d4d8621991000594fac32f99e5af9b.jpg

There have been moments throughout our history that threatened to rupture that solidarity. The beginning of this century has been one of those times. A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but our democracy as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids, and create good jobs, and protect our homeland.

In other words, it will determine our future.

Our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity. Today, the economy is growing again; wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are rising again; poverty is falling again. The wealthy are paying a fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records. The unemployment rate is near a ten-year low. The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower. Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in fifty years. And if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system – that covers as many people at less cost – I will publicly support it.

That, after all, is why we serve – to make people’s lives better, not worse.

But for all the real progress we’ve made, we know it’s not enough. Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles. While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind – the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and health care worker who struggle to pay the bills – convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful – a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.

There are no quick fixes to this long-term trend. I agree that our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dislocation won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete.

And so we must forge a new social compact – to guarantee all our kids the education they need; to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from the new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their success possible. We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.

There’s a second threat to our democracy – one as old as our nation itself. After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were ten, or twenty, or thirty years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum.

But we’re not where we need to be. All of us have more work to do. After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children – because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce. And our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.

ADV-obama-600t.jpg

Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination – in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system. That’s what our Constitution and highest ideals require. But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face – the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American, and also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change.

For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ‘60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; that when they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment our Founders promised.

For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, Italians, and Poles. America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; they embraced this nation’s creed, and it was strengthened.

So regardless of the station we occupy; we have to try harder; to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.

 

None of this is easy. For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.

This trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.

Isn’t that part of what makes politics so dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations? How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It’s not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it’s self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.

Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change; they’ll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.

Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; it betrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders.

2983288180_a5cac57e38_b

It’s that spirit, born of the Enlightenment, that made us an economic powerhouse – the spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral; the spirit that that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket.

It’s that spirit – a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, and build a post-World War II order with other democracies, an order based not just on military power or national affiliations but on principles – the rule of law, human rights, freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and an independent press.

That order is now being challenged – first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat to their power. The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile. It represents the fear of change; the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.

Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform, and the intelligence officers, law enforcement, and diplomats who support them, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years; and although Boston and Orlando remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We’ve taken out tens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden. The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe. To all who serve, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief.

But protecting our way of life requires more than our military. Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are. That’s why, for the past eight years, I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firm legal footing. That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, and reform our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans. That’s why we cannot withdraw from global fights – to expand democracy, and human rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights – no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.

So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight. Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world – unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.

Which brings me to my final point – our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.

gettyimages-631432390

And all of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings.

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.

In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken…to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;” that we should preserve it with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.

We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.

Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed.

Mine sure has been. Over the course of these eight years, I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I’ve mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in Charleston church. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and our wounded warriors walk again. I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us of our obligations to care for refugees, to work in peace, and above all to look out for each other.

That faith I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change – that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. I hope yours has, too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home were there with us in 2004, in 2008, in 2012 – and maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off.

You’re not the only ones. Michelle – for the past twenty-five years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud.

Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad.

To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: you were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best. Not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother. We love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our life.

To my remarkable staff: For eight years – and for some of you, a whole lot more – I’ve drawn from your energy, and tried to reflect back what you displayed every day: heart, and character, and idealism. I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, and start incredible new journeys of your own. Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. The only thing that makes me prouder than all the good we’ve done is the thought of all the remarkable things you’ll achieve from here.

And to all of you out there – every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town and kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change – you are the best supporters and organizers anyone could hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because yes, you changed the world.

That’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans – especially so many young people out there – to believe you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves. This generation coming up – unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic – I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.

My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain. For now, whether you’re young or young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President – the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.

I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.

I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:

Yes We Can.

Yes We Did.

Yes We Can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Check out the full speech here :

 

La la land : Love in the times of reality!

Last year this time, I saw a movie that changed my definition of love for good. Tamasha by Imtiaz Ali, made me rethink all I thought I knew about love.  And here comes another. La La Land. Is more than a love story yet, love is all it is about.  A stunning montage of the purest elixir of golden age romance and timeless melodies, all put together to form a movie for the ages. As one of my friends put it so well, Our generation finally has a musical!

Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, this movie, yet again has everything you could ask for in the team. Damien Chazelle, JK Simmons team up again, in a soundtrack by Justin Hurwitz who, by now we know, knows exactly how to make a generation fall in love with Jazz.

La-La-Land-trailer2.png

Though it looks nostalgic and reminds you of all the true romances of the 50’s musicals, LA LA LAND is thoroughly modern and very much a film of its era. While the movie is a love story for the ages, it battles hard against reality. It does talk about love, and falling in love, a life a dream that love could bring but it also asks the hard questions and the consequences that follow tough choices.

I personally felt it was one of the best directed movies of the year. Filled with beautiful long takes, amazing editing and the singing and dancing seamlessly blending into each other. I generally tend to not like musicals but this one, barely felt like a musical. The film is so effective in its romanticizing of L.A. that its very first scene takes the one thing everyone there loves to complain about — traffic — and turns it into a dazzling set piece.

It made me realize that characters in musicals not only understand love differently than those in traditional films but they turn that understanding into art—dancing, singing and transcending mere dialogue to become something greater, something purer, something closer to true romance.

In Chazelle’s vision, choreography matters and a simple piano refrain can have more power than a lyric. This is a beautiful film about love and dreams, and how the two impact each other. Los Angeles is filled with dreamers, and sometimes it takes a partner to make your dream come true. Even though it’s being called a love letter to LA, I think its more of a Love letter to passion. Just get out there, stop waiting,  follow your dreams, love.

Coming down to the plot, we have Mia, an aspiring actress who is at the point of her life where all she sees are failed auditions and Sebastian, who is a jazz purist but is stuck playing Christmas melodies for a living. What’s common is a drive, a passion a love for their art and that’s what brings forth a connection that steadily turns into love.

We get all the magic and lure of eye contact from a stranger across a crowded room. Another playing the piano. Except that the look on her face tells you he’s no stranger at all. She’s not just staring — she’s falling. That’s the sublimity of Old Hollywood, where we believed that it could happen just like this. The rest is a journey where two people get to discover what the we all already know: that the reason they “don’t like” each other is that they already love each other. They just need to figure it out.

It was a huge surprise to me but Emma stone has the voice of an Angel. And the Audition song, she reminded me of Anne Hathaway in I dreamed a dream. That’s how powerful her voice is.

One scene in particular I loved was when Sebastian explains Mia about jazz. how it is more than just elevator music. He isn’t just obsessed with jazz, he’s convinced that the genre is on its last legs and it’s his sole purpose in life to restore it to glory. His character wants to play freestyle jazz instead of the Christmas jingles he’s been hired to perform because, damn it, if the people can’t hear real jazz, then it’s going to cease to exist.

Mia and Seb are two people who have been struggling to make their dreams come true. Amidst that, they fall in love. And while their lives start making sense, you start falling in love with them. But a jazz musician and an actress are two different people with two very different journeys.

Love taking them in a direction which was not what they planned initially. It would have very easy for the story to have taken a turn and get Mia and Seb together in the end, but just like Whiplash and the last smile in the end, that’s the beauty of La La Land. Love doesn’t have to be ‘together till the end of the time’. If two people who share the way they look at life, share a direction and begin a journey together, they are bound to build a life together. The connection is way too rare and the journey way too precious. But after a point of time, if life gives you a crossroad and you must choose, choose your dreams, choose your life, your passion you art. The love, remains. No two people who have been through so much together, would ever lose the value of that journey. the love doesnt go away, and the bond remains, forever. And in La La Land, a smile does it all. Conveys it all.

It’s a story of artistic passion, and how easy it is to get derailed from your dream. Sometimes it takes another person to push you back on to the tracks to find it again. Gosling and Stone get these characters, finding grace in their movement but emotional depth in their arcs; Stone has never been better.

It’s easy to start believing that dreams don’t come true till you don’t distance yourself from people you love when it’s exactly the opposite. Sometimes someone else sees our magic so much more brightly just when we think we’ve lost it. They push us back towards it when we are exhausted and stricken by self-doubt or tired or scared of failure. The lighter joyous things in life, getting closer to the people you love, fostering the connections you make – these aren’t the things that you need to sacrifice or the price you need to pay, they are the springboard that can help you take the leap when you are too afraid to look down into the water.

La La Land (2016) Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone)

As Mia and Sebastian, Stone and Gosling give performances that are deliberately a little imperfect. Their characters have to reckon with compromises when chasing their impossible, and then maybe not so impossible after all, ambitions. As disappointment and bitterness slowly seep into the film, the effervescence drains out, only to return in full force in the epilogue imagining an alternate history that dissipates like mist. It’s a privilege, the nostalgia Mia and Sebastian feel and ultimately use as a means of personal branding, but it’s also too shallow a solace to keep reality at bay.

I think the ending brought the whole movie together. How that one song brought a flood of memories back, and in that one moment, both Mia and Seb saw the life that they could have had. But then brought back by reality. It sounds sad but the smile that they pass in the end shot makes it all better. They know. They both know in that one glance, that they would forever be a part of each other’s lives and everything they build and achieve would have traces of each other.

They saw and created and made all these things together. And that is a love far greater than any other kind I know. I don’t think you can erase or try to replace that kind of love. You are who you are because of the dreams you dreamt and the life you built together. So even if you are not together, that dream still remains and living it everyday is what brings you closer every second you breathe.

La la Land made me redefine love in ways only my own life has this year. And what a great way to end the year!

14040176_573479126172025_3099678540558707264_n

It’s easy to let the world get you down sometimes, especially in a year like this one. It’s easy to think that dreams don’t come true, and that love only exists in movies. “La La Land” serves to remind us that movies can still be magical, and they can still provide the channel for us to see magic in the world around us. It’s not so much another day in the sun, as the characters sing in that opening number, but the dreams of the night before, the ones we wake up and try to fulfill, that keep us dancing. It is a movie that didnt leave me with any other feeling but satisfied. A story to believe in, a love to live for, passion to work for.

It is, of course, the music that remains: a constant companion and guiding light. Maybe life having a soundtrack is but a dream, but as La La Land’s remarkable music proves, it’s one well worth believing in.

In defense of Rory Gilmore An honest review : A Year in Life

It’s not everyday that a story decides to redo its ending. The creators take another go at what should have been. For Gilmore Girls and Amy Sherman and Daniel Palladimo, it was exactly that. And man, there were a lot of expectations on the revival. Almost everyone I know is talking about it, what they liked, didnt like, how it was maybe a disppointment.

So here goes my take on it.

I began the first episode with a lot of trepidation. The first impression is that nothing has changed: Stars Hollow is as picturesque as ever; its inhabitants as “living-in-their-own-little-snow-globe” as always; Luke and Lorelai are together and living together; Lane and Zach are still married; Rory is still writing successfully, with bylines in Slate and The Atlantic, and a terrific Talk of the Town piece in The New Yorker that Luke prints on the back of his Luke’s Diner’s menu!

And while we progress through all 4 episodes, the initial feel goods lose their covers and the reality begins to creep in. Things are not alright. But inspite of the ugly fight between Emily and Lorelai, or the ridiculous concept Luke had about surrogacy, or even the sheer mess that Rory’s life is, It brought back the exact feelings that the original show did best: deal with pain, loss and misunderstandings with empathy, humour, and lots of coffee.

Here’s where I come in. I have seen a shitload of articles about how Rory is the worst, how she is a disappointment, or that she peaked in highschool. The list goes on and on. And the first time I saw the show, I agreed with them all. But not now.I was shocked at how much people disliked what she was going through. How unbelievable they found it. Almost enraging, actually.

The second time I saw the revival, the haze cleared to reveal a mirror. Rory Gilmore.

How Rory Gilmore represents most of us in the Millenial Generation :

gilmore-girls-a-year-in-the-life-revival-730x275

“I am broke, beggared, I have no job, no house, no underwear.”

This statement can be true for so many people I know including myself for a lot of times. We, are the fruits of our own desires. Our generation, I feel is a classic example of how getting all the options in the world leaves you floating, from one place to another, looking for answers. Our own hobbies and passions have turned into profession, but jobs for those are almost none.

Throughout “A Year in the Life,” it’s exasperating to watch Rory foundering in uncertainty. She, is lost, broke. unable to make her own mark or call anything her roots. The plans she had for her life have gone awry and what do you do, when all your life, you worked towards one goal, and one goal only, and now, it doesn’t exist anymore?

I know so many people who tick some or all of the boxes Rory was in.  Broke. Unemployed. Jack Karoaking through life. Lost.
Why is Rory supposed to be perfect and without problems? Because she’s smart? Because Yale? A friend of mine said she remembers Rory like this: “She cared about grades. She was a big reader – made being smart ‘cool’. A good role model.” I don’t disagree that she had some of those qualities…but who says that a teenager like that doesn’t turn into a woman like this?

It’s totally realistic that this is where she is. She’s a good writer, but that’s not the same as being a hustler. Rory did well in school because school provides an exact breakdown of what to do to succeed. But there’s no syllabus called ‘Exactly how to be successful as a freelancer, forever’…especially at Yale.

I’m sure she did hustle, too. That she pitched and earned and had successes. But I also buy that she got a bit tired. Used up all her contacts and needs a reset. It happens, and how you get through it is often the mark of what kind of person you are…which is what this chapter of Gilmore is actually all about.

I mean look at it this way. Did we ever find another Christiane Amanpour? Is there even place for another Amanpour anymore? I don’t think so. Media has changed, with it, jobs, with it job prospects, conditions to work. The world is changing at a pace we can not keep up with and our generation, has seen the 20th and the 21st century. We struggle to keep things together. One foot buried in nostalgia and other in Social media, we kinda lose our balance when it comes to handling the present.

 

There are instances in the show, like Rory at Chilton, and Headmaster Charleston asking her to get a masters and joining the school. But She DOESN’T want to teach! That’s not what she worked for.

Granted, she might be getting a bit lost here, but I think that’s all of us. Loving something doesn’t necessarily mean you get a job doing it unfortunately. I know this is very cliche way to look at anything but here it is. I see a writer wanting to write but not getting a decent job writing what she wants(even though no one else can write the way she does). I see a singer, taking up a job as a sound technician because there are no jobs for singers, not in India atleast, unless you’re Bollywood. I see a photographer, taking up a job as an assistant while he does freelance photography on the sides. No jobs for full time  photographers.  So where do we go?

I for one am struggling to find what is it that I want to write for my life and the intersection of what jobs are available to me. And that is a very small circle. Job available to me are so low! And it is not only me.So there by goes my passion, ambition, lifeplan, goal, off the rails. And there goes my personal life off the rails as a result. SO can you blame a person, who has had a single plan all their lives, go off character, when there is no plan anymore?

Why isn’t it OK for Rory to take a while to figure out who she is? To have stories to tell? If she was perfect, and boring, which is the criticism a lot of us, and Paris, lobbed at this show in the beginning, why would we watch the resurrection of the show? Now that there are complications, doesn’t that make things interesting? Aren’t you glad Rory has stories of mistakes she’s made, to tell the next generation? What if her conversation with Christopher is wrong, or she heard it wrong? Don’t you want to see her make the mistake?

You care about them because they’re flawed. Because you want to see how they could be better. I know about all the warm feelings people have for this show, feeling like Stars Hollow is a cozy, loving place to grow up. But the show has always said that nature and nurture are in a deadlock for who you are. That you can run from your parents, but never escape them. That everything comes full circle. It’s been there all along, beside the whimsy and the folksiness and goings-on in the gazebo that make the bitter pills of the family dynamic go down that much easier.

To me, that’s what made the show amazing.

If Rory and Lorelai and Emily have grown up to be less perfect than you hoped, does that say more about them – or about you?

Stop blaming Rory Gilmore. She’s as real as all of us are. She represents all of us. And its the fact that she does, that is so disturbing.

Apart from all that, the revival was definitely heart touching. Here are some things that made me smile so much! 

The life and Death brigade gig:

One of the best things I saw in this show. Beatles. Finn colin. Roger. Logan. Full admission of bias – I find Logan, and the Life and Death Brigade, and especially the caper they pulled in Fall, to be ridiculously charming. I love their sense of adventure. They give Rory something nobody else does. It’s one thing to read about Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and it’s another thing to have imagination enough to figure out what that could mean, especially combined with alcohol and speakeasies. They may be spoilt rich brats but I always had a soft spot for them, just like Rory I guess. It also goes to show the classic escapism syndrome all of us depend on. Put on masks, live a life you don’t own, be free of responsibilities for sometime, a night a day, and then crash back into oblivion because that’s what going back to reality feels like.

Lorelai going WILD :

A part of me thought it was ridiculous, but another part of me knows exactly what must have prompted the WILD trip for Lorelai. It’s like I would love to take a trip where I would get all the answers, trips and travels have been romanticized so much in our books and movies. That walking alone on a road with nothing but immense nature and you see how small you are, you see things more clearly. It Is very easy to fell like that’s where all your answers lie. She took a trip like in WILD and turns out she didn’t need to. All she needed to do was see clear. And she did. It was not ridiculous, the plot, it was very typical I felt. It was real.

The fight scene between Lorelai and Luke in the last episode is amazing. It is touching and loving and Luke, who I felt had been given a back seat in this season, finally was visible. His emotions, just as valid, and him, Just as present. They had been apart since a week, Luke and Lorelai were apart and unable to tell each other what was on their mind.  It was a sheer buildup of thoughts and insecurities and the want to salvage a relationship they both had worked so hard to build.

Emily in Nantucket :

GilmoreGirls_1sht_EMILY_US.jpg

One of the best things to ever happen to the show. Emily, finding herself her own voice. Don’t get me wrong, Richard never stopped her from finding her voice, he never stomped on her, she is just this character who takes care of everything and everyone. Emily’s story was so good and so achingly haunting, and because as a woman who is grieving through all four episodes, she is meaner, more detached, and more strange, and I bought it even when I didn’t like it. When we feel odd seeing her in jeans, imagine how she feels. She has always cared about what is proper more than what she wanted sometimes. And now that she had to take care of no one, she was finally free to see herself clearly. Do things that she liked , only for herself, no one else. It was so refreshing to see Emily finally discover herself, through no one else’s eye but her own.

Rory Writing Gilmore Girls

It somewhere is kinda perfect. For the first time, Rory put herself out of her life and saw them as they would appear to someone who didn’t think a relationship like her’s and Lorelai’s was normal.

Sookie makes everything Better

Where were you all this time!? The only issue I had with the show was the absence of Sookie and a friendless Lorelai. And atleast, there she was. In all her perfection. The dragonfly felt incomplete without Sookie. Michelle felt slightly less grouchy(very uncharacteristic). Those 5 minutes in the last episode, pure perfection.

gilmore-girls-6.png

The Elopement!

The song, the car ride the black dress and Luke. And when they start to dance. What is it that I see, a tear drop. Reflecting Light by Sam Philips has to be one of the most beautiful songs ever!

SO, here’s the verdict :

Despite the (many) drawbacks of the revival, it soared when it came to the relationships at heart. Lorelai’s relationship with Luke, her realisation on the trail that she wants to be married to him (and they do!), and her phone call to Emily to tell her a wonderful sad little story about Richard, were wonderful. Emily’s strength in dealing with her grief (she was married for 50 years and had forgotten which side of the bed she slept on) is remarkable and inspiring.

I sobbed over Edward Herrman. Seeing that portrait and the humour and pathos in it made me both feel he was there and miss him more.

 

Gilmore Girls is both. Light and sweet, and dark and bleak. The love of your life, and the first person who appeared in front of you. All of the potential for the greatest heights, and all of the bruises when you fall back down.

 

Overall, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life was as exciting as it was exhausting. Being back in Stars Hollow, Lauren Graham’s pitch-perfect delivery, Kelly Bishop playing Emily only the way she can, Melissa McCarthy’s Sookie returning for the briefest (but sweetest, literally, because she bakes a zillion cakes for Lorelai and Luke’s wedding) of cameos: it all felt right. The coffee was hot, the town was pretty, the references were on point, the music was terrific, and Kirk owned a piglet named Petal. What’s not to like? Watch it for the love, the emotions, the kindness and the unkindness. If nothing, watch it for the girls!

Happy Gilmoring!

a-year-in-the-life-all-you-need-to-know-about-the-gilmore-girls-revival-995360.jpg

 

Spoken word poetry : The journey so far!

It hasn’t been long, my dalliance with spoken word poetry. While I always have been writing, I never really found a direction I wanted my writing to be taken in. It was always trying my hand at this and that and seeing what works the best.

And on a very similar conquest, I came across spoken word poetry. It was by a fluke that I realized, this is something I can do! and one thing led to another and here I stand. Finally knowing where I belong! It has been a short but one hell of a journey.

Started with Sarah Kay, about a year ago. I read the quotes below and just had to see the woman who wrote them. And then came Mrs. Ribeiro! And that’s it, I was in love.

Poets who really do it for me are so few and far between, and if this is what Sarah Kay has to offer in her 20’s I cannot begin to imagine what her life long career and future works will be like. Simple unadulterated play on words and metaphors. One of Sarah Kay’s key skills is to make everything relatable. Common experiences which we sometimes fail to take notice of just because we are clouded by the white noise around us.

So, it has just been six months and look how far I have come! I got to attend a one on one workshop with Sarah Kay, when she came to India for the first ever National Youth Poetry Slam. And boy, oh boy, was I, in true Darshita fashion, nuts!

I walk inside the workshop and almost slip, because there she was, right in front of me. Not ten feet away. #fangirling

I had been excited for a week, ever since I heard about the workshop, you see I had the added advantage of attending a 3-day workshop with the two most beautiful people and enormously talented guys i have come across : Ikenna Onyegbula and Kyle Luow. Their workshop, changed my life and it made me the person I am today. I write my poems the way I do, because of all that these two taught me. So if I got one with Sarah Kay, I wanted to see what that would be like!

Sarah Kay’s workshop, it goes to show why she is who she is. The hype, is not hyped up at all, and she, the most beautiful, vibrant buoyant person I have seen. Her words, they travel, they hit me right out of the screen and she is such a dynamo in real life, she is full of energy. Even when she’s listening, you can see her brain working, thinking, feeling the words, all the time. And she has the Dumbledore gaze. The one which stares right into your soul kind.

Seeing her in action has been a privilege. Seeing her act a word, gives the world a whole new level of resonance. She makes the words travel, they hit, right where they have to. Turns a word into an experience, a full blown performance and she tried her best to teach it all to us. Us, young poets who were busy fangirling over her,  not able to believe she was in front of us! And believe it or not, once you get over the fangirling part and start doing what she’s telling you to, it all comes together so beautifully.

She embodies poetry and words in a way that really personifies all my beliefs about poetry. you don’t need for your spoken word poetry to be indignant. It just has to be you. It doesn’t need to say anything yet, it says a story which will stay with people for a long time. All the three poets I’ve had the privilege to work with, all of them made this pretty clear. It is not about the point you’re trying to make, it is about honesty. And vulnerability. And if you have the courage to put a little bit of yourself out there, for people to see, once you bare your soul, you receive a millionfold in return.

After the workshops, I can see, feel the shift in the way I write! And if there is one thing I hope to keep forever from these people, it’s the art of appreciation. How every life, every story, every word, matters.

 

13873205_1179588978729521_7546768584036079022_n
The poetry workshop with Ikenna Onyegbula and Kyle Luow

 

It just goes to say that I’ve had the distinct privilege to have seen and met the most brilliant spoken words poets out there.  I got lucky. Flukes have always worked for me.

All in all, I guess in a way this is the first time ever, I have been satisfied with something I wrote and can actually say Just how much, meeting these brilliant poets did for me. I finished writing this just the day before, and let’s just say, All that Kyle, Ikenna and Sarah Kay taught me, didn’t go in vain 😉

Do let me know in comments how you like the poem!

(This is the first time I am liking my own poem)

14368705_1817730525130074_4855207135862930008_n.jpg

Sarah Kay on How we measure creative : https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/brain-pickings-3114621/poet-sarah-kay-on-how-we-measure-creative-4782836175

Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight : True Romance

Three years ago, a friend told me about two movies and ‘Nothing happening in the movie except conversations.’ and I think, Well, the guy who made the movies must have a lot of guts to have faith in his audience. Little did I know Richard Linklater, did not only have faith but a heart and soul and guts in spades because he drew me right into his world with witty dialogue, minimal screenplay and amazing eye for beauty.

tumblr_inline_n18ftagC2u1qzzh6g

 

“Before Sunrise” till day, remains one of my favourite movies. I don’t miss an opportunity to watch it again and again, and just like a good book, its new everytime I see it. The thing that appeals to me is, it is so much like real life – like a documentary with an invisible camera – that I found myself remembering real conversations I had experienced with more or less the same words.There is no hidden agenda in this movie. There will be no betrayals, melodrama, phony violence, or fancy choreography in sex scenes. It’s mostly conversation, as the to main characters, who meet on the train and decide to wander the city of Vienna from mid-afternoon until the following dawn.

There may be no explosions or superheroes, or even a plot – just a couple talking about love and relationships – yet it’s kept audiences enthralled for two decades.

Before Sunrise plays with a deceptively simple concept, masking their depth and grandness of design. What could be more straightforward than placing two attractive, intelligent people together in two gorgeous cultural landmarks, and letting them, to borrow from Hamlet, use their words, words, words to seduce both the audience and each other? And yet, behind this thin façade are edgy and wise films that I continue to find, a dozen or more viewings down the road, profound in purpose and effect.

The story is simple. They meet, they decide to talk. Slowly, She drops the veneer; he eases up on the cynicism. Richard Linklater uses the city as a blank page for two strangers to write on. A store specializing in old records (ah, vinyl) makes a provocative first stop. Standing in the forced intimacy of a listening room, they feel too awkward to act on their attraction. So much for cool. There is a kiss on the Ferris wheel, but they don’t have cash for the chic attractions. For them, it’s a bar, a dance club, a bottle of wine in the park, a walk by the Danube. Cinematographer Lee Daniel lights their travels with subtle magic so the history of the city seeps in. Nobody mentions Freud, but the good doctor is there in the way the two probe each other’s psyches.

before_sunrise__1995_-fanart

It is beautiful to see how the director seduces us with the conventions of a traditional love story, teasing out our expectations, only to undermine them time and again with cynicism and even despair.these films ask us to consider the very nature and purpose of our existence in a fragmentary, superficial and transient universe. Amid some of the most beautiful art and architecture that Europe has to offer, and often accompanied by a soundtrack of history’s most enduring composers , the two leads, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), search for meaning and permanence in a world that emphasizes disposability. The contrast of the past and its constant glories with the confusion and transience of the modern is surely not accidental. In the context of a world where we are only expected to be as happy as our latest acquisition, we share the experiences of the protagonists, who soak up the atmosphere of cultures that have been built over centuries.

before-trilogy

“Before Sunrise” was a remarkable celebration of the fascination of good dialogue. But “Before Sunset” is better, perhaps because the characters are older and wiser, perhaps because they have more to lose (or win), and perhaps because Hawke and Delpy wrote the dialogue themselves.

But the movie is not a confessional, and the characters don’t rush into revelations. There is a patience at work, even a reticence, that reflects who they have become. They have responsibilities. They no longer have a quick instinctive trust. They are wary of revealing too much. They are grown-ups, although at least for this afternoon in Paris they are in touch with the open, spontaneous, hopeful kids they were nine years before.



Also going into the more cynical more pessimist, Before Sunset, I Really feel it is more mature of a story and a special reference to the first scene where Jesse sees Celine for the first time, in 9 years. The expression of in-credulousness shows just how amazing the two actors are. It’s hard to believe they are are acting and not really Jesse and Celine. As they proceed with the conversation and  ‘catching up’ as we call it, we realise time has turned them into more pessimist, more cynical shades if themselves. Though, the final 25 minutes of conversation that winds up Before Sunset are the most deeply affecting moments of the two films. Both characters face up to their life’s failures, and seem on the brink of falling into a desperate cynicism. Life has come up so far short of the vaulted expectations that the night in Vienna bred in them. However, rather than the disappointment dissolving into a series of recriminations or a spiral of mutual regret, the film takes a miraculous healing turn at the end, and the characters rise above their ruefulness, and use it as a springboard into hope, guarded as it must remain given all that continues to separate them, including geography and pre-existing relationships

 

Linklater’s two films move us towards a new understanding of the genre of romantic films. While conventional romances spend almost all of their energy convincing the audience that, consequences be damned, this particular couple is going to hook up, and it is going to be worth all of our emotional commitment because if they don’t hook up, we’ll, like, die or something. These films get you thinking about the real nuts and bolts of relationship-building, and more importantly ask us to confront the consequences of attempting to build relationships in the real world of those illusory and harmful myths that we perpetuate in our romantic fictions.

And then comes Before Midnight. 9 Years later. And while it would be easy to build a romanticized third chapter to serve as the climax for the previous two, but Linklater, Delpy and Hawke choose instead to look at Jesse and Celine as a mature couple. The film offers an appropriate and natural view on the experience of a consummated love. The mutual idealisation of the past has been replaced by comfort in each other’s presence — and also with an underlying, perfectly understandable irritation. That’s where Richard Linklater’s genius lies, in building a story so real, so relate-able, that it build its own importance. Just by being real.

It’s not even the film-making or the location or the direction, Its the sheer beauty of justifying each and every emotion and each and every word matters. These three movies, are a work of art because they exercise the art of just letting things be, and taking conversation as the building blocks to any relationship. I mean sure, we can romanticise things and build a fairy tale too, where the damsel is in distress and the prince goes through 5 hoops to rescue her, but isn’t the art of actually conversing, listening, equally difficult, equally important, equally or even more necessary? I mean what if the prince never could manage to hold a conversation and was just good at slaying monsters?

#foodforthought

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: