Random thoughts of a demented mind gas hydrates energy

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Sitting in the middle benches where the chemistry teacher does not look, as he drones on like the ancient fan overhead , on the arcane art of balancing equations, and sweat drips down the side of his forehead, you look outside, through the window at the burnt sky, and imagine.

You imagine cricket. You imagine hitting sixes of the kind that only a young boys mind may think of, packed houses calling out your name, you imagine swiveling, dancing out, hooking, pulling, playing the game with the boring parts rubbed out.

ABDV lived that imagination. The kind of batting that should not be and yet was, domination of not only of the full 360 degree of scoring, but also of the full 360 of batting, equally at ease scoring 90 off 45 balls and 45 off 90 overs, equally comfortable at Cuttack and Perth, subtle one moment and the beast the next.

Was he the greatest all game batsman of the modern era? I don’t know but I do know he was the nicest, he was not only the one that you wanted to be, but the one that you should be, who played the game the way it should be played, hard but without rancor, confident yet without arrogance.

Of all the things you can blame Big B for, be it a relentless desire for validation through social-media or his obsessive following up on unanswered communication or him endorsing every product under the sun, being bewildered by the latest Avengers film is not one of them. Avengers Infinity Wars is a culmination of eighteen films of universe building, and to be asked to make sense of this off-the-bat is like being dropped, without context, into the final episodes of “Pavitra Rishtaa… Tere Mere Mann Ka”, and trying to make out why mothers look younger than daughters, how many characters are being played by the same actor, who exactly is Archana and what history does she have with Manav.

For Avengers Infinity War is truly epic, and I say it being infinitely aware of how overused this word is, not just in terms of its “”Mera Naam Joker” running time, but in terms of how it plays out, it is sufficiently familiar in that those invested in the world get what they want. and yet surprising enough that the last twenty minutes leave you gasping for breath, and wondrously, and I cannot believe I am saying this for a Marvel franchise product, moved.

This is a stupendous feat. Because with Marvel, you are not just dealing with stories and characters. No, that would be way too prosaic. You are working through lawsuits, rights disputes, contracts, focus groups, studio executives, merchandizing, branding, comic book continuity, retcons, spinoff TV series, new sub-franchises, reboots, and that something this good comes out from the ceaseless whirring of the Infinity Stones of uber-capitalism is, for the want of a better word, a marvel of product engineering.

Whether for good or bad, the Oscars have, over the last few years, become super political. What used to be a few jokes, a few reaction shots, a few fashion flaws, and gush talk about movies that people claim to have seen but really haven’t, has now become almost political theater, with issues of representation, racism, colonialism, police brutality, sexism, harassment, front and center in glittering marquee lights. Some may say that by moving away from being an anodyne apolitical platform, the Oscars have somehow recaptured its relevance, its mind space, that the Oscars are water cooler talk again, even by people who have never seen or will see the Shape of Water, a love story of a human and a fish, one you can see for free at any Bengali lunch.

Given how woke the Academy has become, their decision to recognize, with one of its premiere awards, “Darkest Hour”, a hagiography of British war-time Prime Minister and unapologetic South Asian killer Sir Winston Churchill, is beyond reprehensible. Maybe in the 80s and the 90s, when no one cared, I would not have batted an eyelid, but now, now given the widely tomtommed sensitivity on the part of the Academy to the recognition of marginalized narratives, the fact that the Committee chose to reward a movie that airbrushes Churchill’s role in the genocide of 2 million official (some say it is close to 4 million) in India and Bangladesh, just goes to show that not all marginalized are treated equal, and that Churchill being the savior of Europe still gives his reputation the immunity from having to answer for his crimes in India.

It doesn’t make sense, this feeling of loss. It really doesn’t. I didn’t know the person, though God knows I tried, leafing through film glossies, and flicking away the strands of hair that found its way into its pages, at the barber shop, waiting for a haircut when it was most crowded.

So it is with Sridevi. So it is. Waiting in sweaty lines for “Sridebi-r peekchar”, jostling and shoving, protecting my wallet from the pickpockets and pushing forward. Of her cavorting in that blue sari in Mr India and me being overpowered by the first stirrings of feelings whose truth I would come to realize only later. Of the salt of tears at the end of Sadma. Of her clutching the picture and sensuously writhing into a snake in Nagina. Of me walking into half yearly exams, holding my clipboard and pencil box, strains of “Are you ready? Are you ready” from Nakabandi playing in my head. Of stepping into the teens, with my voice cracking, and pimples erupting, trying to scratch at the surface of the truth of love and loss in Chandni, and then slightly older, and considering myself much more mature and worldly-wise, of repeating that exercise in Lamhe, and coming out of the theater, as clueless but as immensely moved as before.