Wednesday, 28 December 2016

episode 3 a touch calls


khushi's dupatta reached out and touched arnav's face, lingering.

if i had to write a precis of episode three, that's what i would write. nothing else. for that's what touched and lingered over the heart. it  was beautifully written into the story and shot, and it powerfully embedded the idea of connection. 










connection that is made unknowingly, unknown to both. perhaps true connections are like that... you don't seek it at a rational plane, you let it come to you, or rather, it comes to you. that in our existence replete with challenges, where usually extremely practical concerns have shaped thoughts and ideas, the very fact that we have come to the notion of love and given it so much value is a surprising thing. and then to actually evolve to a one man one woman idea, where we hope to create a permanent tie, how childish at one level really... is human the animal even remotely monogamous? even nature doesn't make us so... yet we have been touched by and yearned for this feeling we name love. and search forever to find its name, paradoxically... its meaning.

we have lived and died for it, written songs novels essays poetry, and dreamed of it. love, such a difficult to rationalize thing. why do we love someone or something? hard to answer that one. we humans who keep talking about "reality" and "get real" actually have never been able to snuff out the call of this ideal, even if we speak of it mockingly at times.

why?

from where does it come?

it comes wafting and touches us and lingers.

3 always feels like a song to me; that song which plays, arziyaan saari... all my wishes i have brought written on my face. powerful actors and a director along with writers who wanted to go beyond and touch another kind of realm in their story, have created twenty odd minutes of beauty and lyricism that a trp/money obsessed "reality" driven genre neither seeks nor celebrates. but who is to tell barun sobti, sanaya irani, shashi gupta, daljeet bhanot, deepali pansare that, especially the first two... and also nisar parvez, maan singh, and the creative team.

whoever thought of that gold coloured fiat... absolutely inspired choice that, i laugh and yet i feel a whole world and its feelings, its milieu, its heart and hopes.



the wishes were really written on faces. even if i close my eyes i can see a still profile, sharply etched lines, regal bearing of head. feels like all the breath, all the air from everywhere has been trapped and taken in. nothing out there. and yet one can sense a fire somewhere, a fire that burns and won't be put out. it calls and i stare.





the director of these three shots of a solitary arnav singh raizada standing on some terrace in lucknow, looking out at the city with its graceful ancient contours, he the utter counterpoint... a man of his times, needs a special salaam. and where exactly did barun sobti learn to create that stillness.  

 
i get stuck on that scene at times and can't think of anything else. there was often in barun's delivery a thickness, a volume... layers and layers which possibly came from the thought he had put into the moment delineated... i'll never know, but something beckons at certain scenes and one just must look and feel.




the other face was a young beautiful sprightly girl's who was in tears and we thought she was going to set herself on fire. instead she made jalebis, mountains of them and bit into them from time to time, weeping buckets.

sanaya irani did some sort of magic here. what could have become a ha ha hilarious scene, she with her capturing of khushi in her heart and mind, made into a moving portrayal of vulnerability and a valiantly sunny nature, also that inexorable innocence that almost nothing can vanquish. she is badly shaken up by all that has transpired... a horrible encounter with a terrifying man, her sister's wedding broken, and then her mother and her aunt reminding her of the one thing that completely breaks her. she is not their own flesh and blood... she is not real family. adopted.




after the storm and shatter of 1 and 2, where the protagonists met and wrangled for the first time, the story is telling us a little bit about the characters. establishing their sketch, what's important to them, what makes them who they are, and most importantly, how completely unlike each other they are. one is black, the other white, as it were...

and yet, on that still face, there is vulnerability. and just as khushi has a deep relationship with her babu ji who has taught her from the time she was a child that "khoon ke rishto se dil ke rishtey..." more significant than blood ties are the ties of the heart, so does the stone faced man with the young woman who had interrupted his show.

he is perturbed to see chane ki roti instead of oats for breakfast by the pool. he knows who could have done that. and why is she still here, he barks at his assistant. she appears just then and says, well she is the culprit. he is not appeased or amused, she should go to delhi and be with his jija ji, her husband, but this beautiful woman in a gauzy saree does as she pleases and smiles beguilingly, bossing over him a bit. he has told her many times not to call her "chhotey", little one... how beautifully barun says that without losing even a bit of asr yet sounding huffy and cute.

and at one point he gets too angry to hang around and begins to stalk off. she calls out, her helplessness in her voice and lurches after him... suddenly he stops and turns, she takes another halting step, obviously she limps. he simply walks back to her and holds her, supporting... he can't hurt her or see her in that state. 



his di. asr with all his hard heart and nasty tongue and don't care and ruthlessness has a completely vulnerable side to him. his sister, he can't bear to see her in pain, a complex set of reasons there no doubt. but the most powerful one is love. his love for her.

and in khushi's life no one is perhaps more precious than her babu ji. she adores her sister who absolutely dotes on her, she needs her amma who is the giver of tough love, but babu ji is her life, her succour... and why not, it is he who understands what makes his chhutki  feel really terrible, he senses her tender heart and gives it the balm it needs, the truth it must accept and be strong with. the relationships of the heart are stronger than those of blood.



chhotey and chhutki. so utterly different, tycoon and jalebi maker, city and small town, remote and engaged, dark and light, ruthless and tender... and yet somewhere both broken, both needing something... the wishes, the arziyaan that need not be said for it's there on their faces and the one who knows will know what to do with them.

usually i am allergic to overtly religious bends in stories, mandir masjid church used arbitrarily to bludgeon the viewer into believing in a higher power. but this mazar scene is so very beautifully written in and reached and walked through... i love it. again and again while watching the initial episodes i have got a feeling i am watching a movie with all its largeness and details and not something small. the language is often of cinema, the shots, the angles, the expanse. beautiful direction. the qawwali's sound pouring upward the devotee's plea... it's a real mazar i get the feeling, the ensigns, the fakirs, the peacock feather bundles for blessing... authentic, touching, remind me of sikri. 



and there they arrive, one sent by his sister to complete the mannat, aloof, uninterested, just doing his duty, he'll be done in a few minutes, no need to cancel meetings.

and she comes with her family to the urs they go to every year. this year it will perhaps heal them, lift the gloom that has entered their lives.
 
khushi and payal are obviously familiar with the place and want to be completely involved with everything. khushi will not stay away from anything, she is here for a maximum urs experience. and baba must be spoken to loudly and told all her deep desires and wishes. also about that laad governor. she has mentioned him a couple of times already to her sister, obviously he is never too far from her mind. next time she sees him, she'll really give it to him, yeah.

he however shows no sign of even remembering her. not till the very end that is.

this ease with which hindus come to a muslim shrine especially a mannat place... makes me miss india every time. for it is exactly like this, even now. i recall going to a mazar in bangalore and making a mannat... also at sikri.



the scene where the sisters and the dark inert man come into frame and cover their heads signals at something momentous, i don't know why.



then my favourite scene... the two walking on either side of a procession. one in white, grinning, leaping, taking part in everything, eyes shining. the other, with long loping stride that i could watch forever, all black, handsome forehead below pure white hankie, a chiseled unmoving profile, eyes still, closed, no entry for anything or anybody.

the song rises from a group of qawwals who feel even more real than what we see in films. the main singer is surely that in real life.

as words of desires, messed fortunes, of being erased being made, beseeching, maula maula maula mere maula, oh my lord... fill the air, the two walk, parallel lines literally.

but they shall meet.

she will take a turn and pass before him, both unaware of the other. and her white gossamer dupatta will blow in the wind, reach and find the face that has no hope on it and... touch.

it will stay there, clinging to the craggy features of that stony face, getting caught in its peaks and planes, almost caressing. he who is so impatient and snaps at the slightest, will say nothing as the fine virginal cloth will do its thing and move on... he will only look after the one who wears the dupatta and walks away, with an impassive face. nothing in his eyes, no expression, yet a pause. that seems to say something vital.

how magnificently barun sobti interacts with the moment.. and sanaya moving away, no idea, that laad governor has been beckoned by her dupatta.

the dupatta. an oft used slightly obvious device employed by many directors, here though it rarely felt contrived, heightened reality but not silly and jarring. dupattas don't do such things, and yet they do fly and when two actors start treating it with a certain dropping of their sense of disbelief, it almost becomes an emissary. khushi's many thoughts, which perhaps a well brought up middle class girl would never say, were expressed by the flying odhni.



while thinking of the dupatta, i was reminded of the other piece of cloth that flutters in the wind and says so much... the flag of a nation. there's a funny power in just a piece of cloth dancing in the wind.

today though what was the dupatta saying exactly? i had no way of knowing, but it was eloquent. it made him stop. take note. it connected the two just as the ripping of a dori in episode 2 had done. then there was violence and knowledge, here neither, but it was just as powerful.

arnav singh raizada had entered khushi's life with an egregious rip that reflected him perhaps. and now a reply from khushi, with her untouched absolute innocence, gentle and soft yet with a weight and power of its own.

every scene inside the mazar was beautiful and poignant.

he was done at last and ready to leave, while she continued to pray. but then a key fell. mannat ki chabi... like a symbol of something. or someone. the ever alert miss sunshine saw the key fall and had to rush and pick it up...




wait, your mannat ki chabi has fallen.

when he heard her voice, what was that in his eyes? did he sense something? did she sound familiar? he turned and there was of course instant recognition. turmoil in her. a strange noncommittal air about him. he was here because di wanted him to be here, he was ready to leave. the girl from last night, he didn't care.

"phenk do..." throw it away... with two words again he painted a character...

but she would not let him go...




and in seconds from an almost ethereal moment to a chase a la good old hindi phillums. chaotic khushi run after the man walking calmly away, taking off his bandana, looking deadly cold and handsome beyond belief and she charming, nubile, mojri slipping off, funny, pretty, utterly delectable almost as crunchy and delicious as her favourite jalebi, an orange ire in her, how dare he? how dare he!

you can't go like this... and so it was that the girl whose dori he had ripped stopped him from leaving and altered the course of their lives forever.



arziyaan sari mein, chehre pe likh ke laaya hoon
all my requests have i brought written across my face

tumse kya mangu mein, tum khud hi samajh lo...
what should i ask of you, why don't you yourself understand

ya maula... maula maula maula mere maula
o my lord... my lord

maula maula maula mere maula
oh lord... my god

maula maula maula maula

dararein dararein maathe pe maula
cracks (lines) on my forehead, o lord

maramat mukadar ki kar do maula, mere maula..
repair my fortune, my fate, my lord

tere dar pe jhuka hoon mita hoon bana hoon
i've bowed at your door, been erased, been made,

marammat mukdar ki kar doo maula..
repair my fortune, my fate, my lord
 

jo bhi tere dar aaya, jhukne jo sar aaya
whoever has come to your door, whichever head has come to bow

mastiyan piye sabko, jhoomta nazar aaya
drunk on fun/happiness and dancing they've looked to all

pyaas le ke aaya tha, dariya woh bhar laya
he had come with thirst, and filled up a sea

noor ki barish mein bheegta sa tar aaya
drenched in the rain of light, he has came

...

o ek khushbu aati thi
a fragrance would come

main bhatakta jata tha
and i'd lose my way

reshmi si maya thi
there was a silken mirage

aur mein takta jata tha
and i'd keep staring at it

jab teri gali aaya, sach tabhi nazar aaya
when i came to your lane, only then did i see the truth

mujhme woh khusboo thi, jisse tune milwaya
the fragrance was in me, with whom you introduced me

...

aaa aaa...

tut ke bikharna mujhko zarur aata hai
i know how to break and scatter of course

varna ibbadat wala sarur aata hai
otherwise i know only how to pray

sajde mein rehne do, abb kahin na jaunga
let me stay at your feet, i will not go anywhere now

abb jo tumne thukraya to sawar na paunga
now if you leave me i will not be able to recover

maula maula maula mere maula
maula maula maula maula
dararein dararein hai maathe pe maula
maramat mukdar ki kar do maula, mere maula..

sar utha ke maine to kitni khwahishe ki thi
i had asked for so many things with my head raised

kitne khwaab dekhe the, kitni khosishe ki thi
i'd seen so many dreams, i'd tried so hard

jab tu rubaru aaya...
when you appeared before me

jab tu rubaru aaya nazarein na mila paya
when you appeared before me i could not meet your eyes

sar jhuka ke ek pal mein...
with bowed head in a second...

sar jhuka ke ek pal mein maine kya nahi paya
with bowed head in a second what have i not received

maula maula maula mere maula
maula maula maula maula
maula maula maula mere maula, mere maula..
maula maula maula maula mere maula..

mora piya ghar aaya, mora piya ghar aaya
my husband/partner has come home

 
maula maula maula mere maula

the song is written by prashoon joshi for delhi 6. ar rahman's music. i have attempted a translation. took the translation by princess on hindilyrics.net as reference.







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