Thursday, November 29, 2012

That Streetcar named Desire...

“Whoever you are... I have always depended on the kindness of strangers...”


I first heard the dialogue in a play called “All about my Mother” where Ratna Pathak essays the role of Blanche DuBois. I loved the dialogue and it stayed on my mind. A Streetcar named desire, was always a Brando movie for me. Until yesterday.

The movie is set in New Orleans with Blanche boarding a Streetcar named ‘Desire’ to visit Stella, her sister. Stella DuBois, now Stella Kowalski is married to Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando). Stanley takes an instant dislike to Blanche.

Upon realizing that Blanche has ‘lost’ her family’s ancestral property, Belle Reve, Stanley takes it upon himself to prove to his wife that her sister, Blanche is phony. He believes that Blanche squandered the family money and has cheated his wife of her inheritance. Blanche, on the other hand calls the boorish Stanley an ‘ape’ and constantly berates her sister to have married a brute.

Blanche coquettishly warms up to Stanley’s friend, Mitch. It acts as the catalyst and Stanley cruelly exposes Blanche’s past.

Streetcar II

Whatever the theme of the movie maybe, for me, it is the showdown between Stanley (Marlon Brando) and Blanche (Vivien Leigh).These two, for sure, can never be BFFs! Their conflict is epic and the tension is palpable every time Brando enters the room. It is like the ultimate battle of the sexes.

Not for once, do you feel that this is Brando’s second film. His dialogue, “Hey Stella” just echoes into the night. Even the most mundane acts, like that of changing a shirt, has it’s own distinct style. His anger is so intense that you too, cower along with Stella and Blanche when he ‘Clears the table’ and offers to clear theirs as well.

The star is Vivien Leigh albeit by a small margin. She plays Blanche with such panache and adds such complexity to the character that she makes it her own. Blanche is Leigh and Leigh is Blanche. Some of the most tender scenes are when She goes on a date with Mitch. She seems so pathetic in the scene that you want Mitch to embrace Blanche and at the same time you realize that Mitch has to run away from the trainwreck called Blanche. Her disdain for realism and a desire for magic is so incredibly portrayed. It’s only when she is faced with reality, her voice deepens and she looks bitter. The following line is so heartbreaking..

“I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic. I try to give that to people. I do misrepresent things. I don’t tell truths. I tell what ought to be truth.”

Finally, the enmity culminates in an ugly triumph. That’s when Blanche gives a weak smile and delivers that cathartic and deeply disturbing dialogue about depending upon the kindness of strangers. She kills you when she walks with the doctor. And that was when I realized that while Brando had raw, animal magnetism; Blanche too had the same magnetism, only that it was weak and broken.


P.S. I don’t know how to end it.  Disappointed smile

Thursday, November 15, 2012

On a Ventilator? Seriously?! :D


Are you on your deathbed Sir?
I heard that you’re dying of old age. Please, Sir please tell me this is not true because if it is, then I swear Bombay will burn. Yes, Bombay will burn, bhaiyyas will be beaten up, we’ll throw out some Muslims & Madrasis, molest some women and tear down a couple of Archies’ and McDonald’s for good measure.
I cannot believe it, Sir! It seems like it was only yesterday that you set Bombay on fire with your fiercely communal speeches. I was a kid back in ‘92 and I thoroughly enjoyed all the holidays that I got because of your frequent bandhs (My father used to grumble about missing office though!) Not me. I revered you for bringing out the bile in the poor, working class people. Your opposition to the Valentines’ day celebration on grounds that it was poisoning our minds was legendary too!
And of course who can forget your act of transforming the city of maximum debauchery, Sins and Migrants to a cultural hotbed of jingoism, narrow mindedness & hatred by simply renaming it! You speeches were so awesome. You used to mimic your rivals in such a wicked manner. You pointed out the flaws in the ruling party so well. It’s a different matter that you never said what you’d do if elected. I still loved your speeches. I used to envision an India under your rule and I used to shudder sorry, I used to get goose bumps!
I’ll miss you so much. I made a living out of hating you and making fun of you. If you die you’ll be relegated to a second grade portrait in future SS gatherings.
I so wish you live another five years! Your health is so poor that you cannot threaten the Pakistani team anymore if they come to play in Bombay. Or threaten me for using the forbidden ‘B’ word. It’s such a pity that you cannot enjoy the millions and zillions which you too, embezzled.

I’d humbly request you to slog it out for another five years. So that your party does not come to power on votes given out of sympathy. You can then watch the wretch you call a son squander all your ‘good’ work. Besides, it’d be easier to believe in God if he extends your miserable life.
I know you have only hours if not weeks left.. but I sincerely hope.. pray that your misery continues..

Yours lovingly,
A gleeful Indian