Sunday, January 22, 2006

Dreams Interrupted

I've been having some pretty fascinating dreams lately, and I could do worse than record the details of some of them for posterity (or the lifetime of this blog).

My current favourite is a dream I had about a month ago. What made it unique, at least for me, was that it was a film. Not one I was watching (in the dream), nor one I was an active participant in (in the sense of being a protagonist). But something I was both conscious and yet unaware was a film, in the way one can only be in a dream. It was as if I was inside the frame, but not visible. A fly on the wall, I suppose. But there was this curious feeling of being both within and outside the frame.

The plot was quintessential Indian New Wave, as was the cast: Shabana Azmi appeared both as her present, older self and as she was in the '70s (but as two separate charqacters, on which more in a second), and her partner (and presumably husband, since there was implied cohabitation, and the film did not appear to be critiquing the norm of matrimony) was, of course, Naseeruddin Shah. There was a flashback to the Oppressively Feudal Indian VIllage (somehow I knew it was oppressively feudal, since all this was implicit), where there was Poverty, but a Happy Family and Hope in the form of the Big City (basically, I dreamt that the mother-in-law/mother of my main protagonists was serving them a dinner of sookhi roti and onions on a mud floor. Curiously, said mother/mother-inlaw was played by an older Shabana Azmi, which gave the film an oddly Oedipal undertone. They say all Indian men want to marry their mothers, an idea the film seemed to have internalised and taken to its logical conclusion.

In the next bit, the action seems to have moved to the Big City. Here, the Oppressive Shadow was not that of the Zamindar, but rather of Big Business, symbolized by a skyline of smokestacks. Cut to Shabana and Naseer (now clad in in the activist costume of khadi kurta and Nehru topi) and earnest, handsome, bearded young man, earnestly plotting union activity, strikes, and such in front of decaying red-brick factory plastered with political graffiti (The mise-en-scene is some combination of the Badarpur Power station and North Calcutta walls covered with anti-Mamata slogans). However, Ma (now unseen) is still around, since they must rush home for dinner.

Then came a bit that showcased the editor's technical prowess. We see our lead pair running across a busy street to catch a bus home. However, Naseer stops on the way to talk to someone, so that Shabana has crossed the street by herself. Naseer rushes to join her, but our (and his) view of her is obscured by a line of buses, including the one they intend to catch. Said bus begins to move just as Naseer crosses the road, so he runs after it and just about gets on, thinking that Shabana is already on it. In fact, of course, she is waiting for him at the stop. As the buses move away, we see her. Camera cuts to intense young bearded man, who is across the road, looking intensely at Shabana. Cuts back to Shabana, looking at hm. Sexual tension is palpable. Will there be an affair?

I'll never know, because just as the plot was morphing from Indian New Wave proper to early Mahesh Bhatt, I woke up. Quite exhilarated by my Adventures in Parallel Cinema-land, I might add.


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