Here, ladies and gents, is my 55-word tag. Lots of love to Shweta for sending it to me. The deal here is that you have to write a complete story in 55 words, no more. The rules are here.

And since there is no rule that I have to stop at one, I am now never going to let go. Years from now, you will still periodically be reading 55-word stories from me. And you will die from them. Mwa-ha-ha! (Note: There is really no need to worry. My attention span lasts minutes. There is no way I will remember this after a couple of weeks.)

Here is the first instalment of the tag. It has no title, because I suck at titles. The other stories probably won’t have titles either. Here it is.

One

The wind whipped at her face. She shivered, fingering the gun under her coat as she headed to meet the werewolf, to kill it.

She was the only one who could. It would not attack or hurt her, so she had volunteered.

The werewolf stood its ground. It growled at her.

“Hi Daddy,” she said.

By the way, I duly tag Aishwarya.

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 10:22 AM
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Sometimes when I feel unable to write something particular, and I want to write something, I simply pen to paper and start off, usually ending up with a piece of five or six sentences. These pieces are usually about writing itself – I call them my ‘Something to Write About’ series (very imaginative title, I know). This piece is one of them – it is, in fact, the second longest one.
Outside, there were fireworks going on. Inside, little stirred.

Outside, everything was noise. Inside, it was silent.

And she didn’t like the silence. She was sitting at her desk, and she was supposed to be typing furiously right now, but there was nothing to write about.

He sat behind her, on the sofa, reading. It was dark, and she had told him many times not to read in the dark, but she hadn’t the strength to tell him again now.

“What should I write about?” she asked.

He sat up and looked over his book at her. She had never asked him this. “Dunno. Something about ... dunno. Or maybe you should ... dunno, really.”

“You’re no good.”

“Hey! You’re the writer.”

“Just because you’re not one doesn’t mean you can’t have ideas.”

“Why should I let you steal my idea if I have one?”

“Hmm,” she said. “Let’s keep arguing. Might get an idea from that.”

“What’s it about, anyway? ... What is it anyway?”

“It’s supposed to be a hard-hitting article about shoes.”

“You don’t know shoes. Why’d you take it?”

“Sarcasm, love. It’s called sarcasm.”

“What’s sarcasm got to do with shoes?”

She started to explain, but then stopped and sighed. Then she heard him chuckling. She turned and threw one of her pens at him. It missed.

“Trajectory, dear. Paper-weights have better trajectories.”

“They’re also better at splitting heads.”

He looked at her for a few seconds, then turned back to his book.

“Maggots,” she said.

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 11:42 AM
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A couple of days ago, I discovered that I share a weird kinship with author Neil Gaiman. In this post, he says that he has been handwriting his fiction since 1994, because, for one, it makes him write better.

I, the great Bidikar, discovered the same thing a year ago. I had a ‘block’ (gngngn) because I thought I was a very bad writer, and then I discovered that handwriting was a wonderful way of writing that keeps the crap to a minimum, although it also means that I sometimes lose entire sentences because I can’t decipher them later. So you see, me and Mr. Gaiman have so many similarities: we both like writing longhand, we both think it makes us write better, and we both like transferring it onto the computer. It is almost as if our minds are connected in some unfathomable way.

Of course, there are differences too. Such as the fact that he is a world-renowned author, and I’m not. But were you not listening? I’ve just discovered that Neil Gaiman is my long-lost uncle. Do I look as if I care about mere publication?

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 9:52 AM
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For an aspiring writer, it is always nice to get some kind of confirmation that you write well. And the day before yesterday, I got a confirmation that borders on popular approval.

An online petition has been filed to protest against the pothole problem in Pune. This petition is available here: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/PUNPOT01/petition.html. And the person who registered this petition, Shridhar Gune, referred to this post of mine to illustrate the point, and since then, I have been getting a lot of visitors and very nice comments about the post. This petition has also been mentioned in today’s Times of India.

As a friend of mine said, there is a distinct possibility that this petition, and the thousands of people signing it, might make no difference to the problem, but one can always hope, and, at the very least, it is a place where you can vent your frustration. After all, that was my only intention while writing the post.

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 2:04 AM
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Here is, as promised, the second set of reviews of films in the PIFF 2005. I saw sixteen films in the festival, out of which four were mere time-fillers – just a place to catch some sleep before going off to my German class, mainly because I like the class too much to fall asleep there.

I have reviewed only seven of the sixteen films. I have written reviews of the others, but most of these reviews are now pointless, four of them because they are mere notes on films I did not see, and the others because they included Page 3, which everyone knows, and Black Friday and Shwaas, both of which were vastly underwhelming.

All the films reviewed below are Indian films, and so are many of the films I didn’t review. The truth is that this was the first film festival I ever attended, so I chose territory that was as familiar as possible. And in some cases, it was all about watching a film that might not be released, or would be cut before releasing (Black Friday, Amu) or one that I would otherwise have to pay to watch (Page 3). Trust me, that won’t happen next time.

Amu (India) : This is a fabulous film. I didn’t actually get to see this at the first showing, but the prints for Black Friday were a day late, and they showed this once more instead of that one, so I got to see it. It is about the Delhi riots of ’84 in which thousands of Sikhs were killed. This period of recent history has a veal of silence before it, and nobody wants to talk about it, and one girl, Kaju (played wonderfully by Konkona Sen-Sharma, whom we saw in Mr. and Mrs. Iyer before this one, and who also appears in Page 3), is determined to find out who her birth-parents were, and how they were related to these riots. This scores over other films of the type by being highly sensitive, and being more-or-less abhorrent of violence, and not just in theory, but in practice as well. This film is written and directed by debutante Shonali Bose, who displays a distinct talent for working with actors, extracting performances ranging from very competent to tear-inducingly good. And her sense of style and visual flair (which isn’t usually paid much attention to in Indian films) are also developed enough to expect more great things from her in the future. (****½)

Sail (India) : I expected a lot from this film, and it didn’t quite deliver, although it wasn’t an utter disappointment either. It features Reema and Mohan Joshi, two veterans of Marathi cinema. Anyway, this film (whose title means ‘loose’) is about the effect of the outer world on married life. Mohan Joshi is a college professor (an ex-lawyer) whose car breaks down on the outskirts of a village in the middle of a rainy night. He takes refuge at a house where, it turns out, lives his ex-wife, a politician, played by Reema. The film revolves around their conversation about their life. The tone of the film is utterly sad, and the ending is bleak as well. The conversation of the couple is interesting, but the fact is that this is all the film is, and this does not make for edge-of-the-seat viewing (although you shouldn’t really expect it anyway). The film looks as if it was adapted from a play, which it very well may have been. Anyway, it isn’t a bad film, certainly worth one watch, and the ending is a huge surprise – and a very effective one. (***)

White Noise (India) : This is one of those low-budget commercial films geared towards the cosmopolitan public. It completely disregards the existence of the lower class, and concentrates on the worries and fears of the ‘starved elite’. The story is of a tv screenwriter Gauri (Koël Purie), whose affair with an executive has ended disastrously. She now feels utterly alone and destitute, and she meets Karan (Rahul Bose), a tv editor who gives her emotional support in her time of need. On the plus-side, this movie is almost utterly watchable, very well-shot and visualised (surprisingly for an ex-tv director) and also somewhat well-observed. The downside is that a lot of the time, it comes across as utterly vacuous, and there are few moments when you don’t feel that Gauri’s predicament is largely her own fault. Yes, she has been badly treated, but her reactions and her naïveté are infuriating, and you want to shake her out of it. The main reason for this is what I mentioned right at the beginning – that this film is geared towards the cosmo public, whose angst it reflects and defends, and which holds little meaning for other people. And the Doors references get on the nerve, being utterly pop-culture rather than those of a Doors fan. Still, it isn’t a bad film. Director Vinta Nanda has an excellent visual sense, and if she does films that treat their subject a little less reverently, I would love to watch them. Worth one watch. (***)

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 9:53 AM
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I just had to link this. This is an excellent article on ‘eve-teasing’, which also argues for a more accurate term for the practice. (Link via indianwriting.)
Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 9:49 AM
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As one-and-a-half of the two-and-three-quarters people reading this might know, I used to have a review site. It’s temporarily been deleted, as I am trying to streamline it into a better one. On this site, I reviewed the films I saw in the Pune Film Festival, January 2005. I didn’t know where to put these reviews in the new site, because they didn’t fit into any of the categories. Salil convinced me to put them here.

I am presenting them in two sets, and I am not presenting all of them. I will explain more about that in the next set. (I can’t say any more right now – I have to leave for Mumbai in twenty minutes.) The ratings are out of five.

Note: There will be no new posts till the 10th. I’ll be in Mumbai, and nowhere near a computer.

The Officers’ Ward (France) : I really wanted to watch this film, because I’d read about it in Film Review and Sight & Sound, and both magazines were practically raving about it. I didn’t find it that good, but maybe that’s because my sight and sound aren’t as developed as theirs. Anyway, the story is that Adrien (Eric Caravaca), an officer in WW2, gets injured at the beginning of his participation in the war. He gets sent to an Officer’s Ward, where there are no mirrors. His face has been hideously deformed, and he keeps wanting to see it. And he does. Most of the film takes place in the ward. The film is beautifully shot and extremely well-acted. The story itself is slight, but the visuals usually make up for it, and the cinematography and the colour-schemes used are quite wonderful. The characters are rather good as well. The tone of the film is mostly sombre, but there are moments of levity, which are appreciated. It is a very good film. A must-watch for anyone interested in cinema. (***½)

Kontroll (Hungary) : This was fun, which might actually be the only real word for it. This is a sort of alternate world (as the Hungarian Railway representative was kind enough to tell us at the beginning of the film) where Ticket-Checkers rule the Underground (sort of – it’s not very clear how exactly it differs from the real world). One small group of these (misfits all) is our focus, as they deal with stuff like Bootsie, a race from one station to another before the train hits you, and the sinister semi-supernatural killer who pushes people in front of trains for fun. This film is basically at pains to establish its world as a possible alternative, which it is. Every one of these peoples’ ‘games’ is tinged with danger and darkness, and the escape to the world above seems more and more difficult yet desirable. And the humour of the film is almost wonderful. Dark, depressing, yet with many moments to make you laugh out loud. For example, the scene where different characters visit the psychiatrist is very clichéd, but I definitely wouldn’t say it wasn’t funny. And the actors are all accomplished, bringing the characters to life. And the very fact and style of the life the characters are living is very well-portrayed. The problem with the film is that it is a bit slow. Also, it unconsciously posits itself as a thriller, which doesn’t really deliver in the end. For all that, it was a lot of fun to watch, and the writer’s imagination has to be lauded. I think that this film could have been rewritten to make it a little more absurd, while keeping the rawness. I liked it. (***½)

Ring of Fire (Lebanon/France) : This film is about the effect of war on common people. Chafic (Nida Wakin) is a literature teacher at the University who falls for a girl whose face he has never seen. As he tries to find out who she is, a family move into his house, and his apartment building is turned into a fortress, and he recedes into his thoughts. The film is actually very slow, but more-or-less worth a watch, if only for the darkly funny ending. The mood is that of soft melancholy, and this is carried throughout the film. The film has some stock eccentrics, but they work for the most part, and this means that the film is basically successful in what it sets out to do. Worth one watch. (***)

Chlorox, Ammonia and Coffee (Norway) : This, I admit, is not actually a great film, but I absolutely loved it. Yes, it’s a bit underdone, yes, it is inspired by many other films, and yes, the ending is clichéd and a bit overworked. But, for all that, I still loved it. There is no real plot. Maria is expecting a child with Erik, but he steals their money and forsakes them and does not tell her that. Iris, a midwife, deals with her work and her daughter Elin’s drug addiction while ogling the neighbourhood cop Odd from afar, and a man called Jesus runs his shop rather well, but is still derided as an outsider. The stories of all these characters, and some more, come together slowly but surely. The characters in this movie are rather well-done, and even though the film is basically a Mike Leigh imitation set in Norway, they work very well together, especially due to the talents of the actors, which aren’t trivial. And the director Mona Hoel knows all her angles and POVs, and while there isn’t anything innovative about the film, all the components work very well together, and the cohesive whole is very, very good, and extremely funny too. The very ending (that is, the scene with Maria’s marriage) doesn’t quite fit with the overall tone and is a bit overdone, but I wholeheartedly forgive that. (****)

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 4:10 AM
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I was just searching the net for Graham Chapman’s autobiography, which is called A Liar’s Autobiography. So I was Googling the phrase ‘liar autobiography’.

Among the results was Biography of President George W. Bush. Strangely, the page does not actually contain the word ‘liar’, neither in the page itself, nor in the source code. This is more than just any T, D and H calling him a liar. This is official!

I think I will start believing in providence now.

Posted by Aditya Bidikar | 10:43 AM
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