G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

Albert Einstein: “I am content in my later years. I have kept my good humor and take neither myself nor the next person seriously.” (To P. Moos, March 30, 1950. Einstein Archives 60-587)

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

ग्लोरिया ग्रॅहम आणि मीना कुमारी....The Girls Who Couldn't Say No

Annette Bening as Gloria Grahame, 2017:
"...You want to leave me? People have been walking out on me my whole life, honey..."

Meena Kumari:
"Badi Bechari Hai
Meena Kumari
Jisko Lagi Hai
Dil Ki Bimari" (quoted in Vinod Mehta's 'Meena Kumari: The Classic Biography', 1972/2013)

'Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool', २०१७ हा अतिशय चांगला चित्रपट नुकताच पहिला.  ग्लोरिया ग्रॅहम (Gloria Grahame) १९२३-१९८१ यांच्या जीवनावर तो आधारित आहे.

अॅनेट बेनिंग (Annette Bening) यांचा उत्कृष्ट अभिनय हे या सिनेमाचे सर्वात मोठे वैशिष्ट्य म्हणता येईल.

(मोठे करून पहा : त्यात लिहले आहे : The Girl Who Can't Say No)
 सौजन्य : Lionsgate (UK) and Sony Pictures Classics (USA)
तो पाहत असताना स्व. मीना कुमारींची (१९३३-१९७२) आठवण येत राहिली.

दोघीही महान अभिनेत्र्या.... दोघींबद्दल निंफोमॅनियाक हे विशेषण वापरल गेलेल... काही असो, दोघी प्रेमाला भुकेल्या...

सिनेमा बघून हेही वाटल: मीना कुमारींच्या जीवनावर या दर्जाचा सिनेमा हिंदीत कधी निघेल का?

Gaby Wood, LRB, March 2018: 
"...Ray would go on to say of his marriage to Grahame: ‘I didn’t like her very much. I was infatuated with her, but I didn’t like her very much.’ As if in homage to Ray’s dislike, his biographer Patrick McGilligan refers to Grahame several times as a ‘sexy blonde actress’, and writes that ‘many of those who knew Grahame considered her a nymphomaniac.’ It wasn’t just those who knew her. In Peter Turner’s succinct, sad memoir, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (recently made into a film with an uncanny Annette Bening in the lead), Grahame is a washed-up Hollywood star about to die of cancer – but hers is a complicated decrepitude. Hair matted, make-up mouldering, asking to be ‘burped’ like a baby, she is even so billed in British repertory theatres as ‘the girl who can’t say no’..."

Vinod Mehta, ‘Lucknow Boy: A Memoir’, 2011:
“....Was Meena Kumari, as rumoured, a nymphomaniac? The word denotes ‘uncontrolled sexual desire in a woman’. I could come to no definite conclusion on the issue which the publishers were very keen for me to investigate. All I found was that she was widely believed to have slept around. Ashok Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Raaj Kumar, Dharmendra, Sawan Kumar and several others allegedly received her favours after she had had a quarter bottle of her favourite brandy.
I was told about one admirer she fornicated with casually who thought he had a good thing going. After a night of satisfactory lovemaking, he knocked the next afternoon on the door of her make-up room, ‘Kaun?’ (who?), asked the lady. The admirer gave his name. She again asked, ‘Kaun?’ The admirer again gave his name, this time providing more details, reminding the actress of their union the previous night. ‘Raat gayi, baat gayi’ (The night has gone, so has the matter), she answered nonchalantly.

I do not know whether it is true today, but in the ’70s there was a battery of hangers-on attached to a star. They could be distant relatives, secretaries, legal counsels, hairdressers, brothers-in-law, chauffeurs, etc. These people’s fantasies of making it big courtesy the star were at once sad and gripping. The fantasists were, happily, a valuable source of classified information, which helped me reconstruct Meena Kumari’s life. To be sure, they would crazily exaggerate their importance, influence and proximity to the star. One hanger-on invited me to inspect a secret bedchamber, with lots of mirrors, tucked away in his office. This is where he claimed he serviced the actress...”

 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

जालियनवाला बागेच्या हत्याकांडाला शंभर वर्षे होतील....Amritsar’s Unfortunate Association with Violence did Not End in 1919

#JallianwalaBaghMassacre100  जालियनवाला बाग हत्याकांड एप्रिल १३ १९१९ ला झाले.

The Duke of Connaught:

“The shadow of Amritsar has lengthened over the fair face of India.”

 Joseph Lelyveld, ‘Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India’, 2011:

“...The day of prayer and fasting was offered in April 1919 as a protest mainly against new legislation giving the colonial regime—in another haunting analogy to our own times—a slew of arbitrary powers it said it needed to combat terrorism. That supposedly nonviolent campaign quickly flared into riots in Bombay and Ahmedabad and “firings,” confrontations in which the constabulary or military trained their weapons on surging unarmed crowds in the name of order. The first firing was in Delhi, where five were killed; another came two weeks later in the Sikh stronghold of Amritsar. There, on April 13, 1919, in the most notorious massacre of the Indian national struggle, 379 Indians taking part in an unauthorized but peaceful gathering were gunned down by Gurkha and Baluchi troops under British command in an enclosed square called Jallianwala Bagh for defying a ban on protests. By then, Gandhi was on the verge of calling off the national strike; he’d made a “Himalayan miscalculation,” he said, in allowing himself to believe the masses were ready for satyagraha. To Swami Shraddhanand, an important Hindu spiritual leader in Delhi who questioned his bumpy, seemingly impulsive start-and-stop tactics, the Mahatma dismissively replied: “Bhai sahib! You will acknowledge that I’m an expert in the satyagraha business. I know what I’m about.”...”


Nick Lloyd, ‘Amritsar Massacre : The Untold Story of One Fateful Day’, 2011:

“Amritsar’s unfortunate association with violence did not end in 1919, or indeed with the savage communal slaughter of 1947. During the 1980s the eastern half of the partitioned Punjab, now in India, was the scene of growing unrest between groups of extremist Sikhs and the Government of India....”
भारतावरील ब्रिटिश हुकुमतीवरील सर्वात चांगले एकखंडी (one volume) पुस्तक बहुतेक प्रा. जॉन विल्सन यांचे असावे... त्यांच्या पुस्तकातील जालियनवाला बागेच्या हत्याकांडाबद्दलचा (एप्रिल १३ १९१९) काही भाग त्या घटनेच्या शताब्दी वर्षाच्या प्रारंभाच्या निमित्ताने कृतज्ञतापूर्वक खाली उद्धृत केला आहे.

कितीतरी गोष्टी नोंद करण्यासारख्या आहेत - पहिल्या महायुद्धातील भारताच्या मोठ्या योगदानामुळे हत्याकांडाला  दिल गेलेल ब्रिटन मधल महत्व, Edwin Samuel Montagu ह्या ज्यू सेक्रेटरी ऑफ स्टेट यांच्यावर झालेले आरोप ('some of Dyer's defenders accused the Jewish Secretary of State of being part of a global conspiracy of Jews against British power'), भारतीय राजकारणातील 'गर्दी'चे पदार्पण आणि महत्व (The Hunter inquiry marked the arrival of a new force in Indian politics: the crowd)- जे २१व्या शतकात दिवसेंदिवस वाढत चालले आहे....

Jon Wilson:
“...Reginald Dyer was born near his father’s brewery in Punjab. Dyer spent the first eleven years of his life in India, but was sent to school in Ireland to preserve a sense of his separateness from Indian society. From there, he joined the army, helped suppress riots in Belfast and ended up back in India in 1887. By 1919 he had risen to become a temporary brigadier general, and had charge of the Jalandhar division of the imperial army. On 11 April the city’s civilian Deputy Commissioner authorized General Dyer to use whatever force was needed to impose British order on a city which had been taken over by crowds. Two days later, just before noon, Dyer’s troops marched around the city announcing by drumbeat that all public meetings were banned.
Early the same afternoon, Dyer learnt that a crowd had gathered at the public waste ground where many of the ‘seditious’ public meetings of the past few months had been held, the Jallianwala Bagh. It was a mixed crowd of between 10,000 and 20,000. Some were there for a protest meeting, others for the Sikh festival of Baisakhi. General Dyer entered the ground with fifty Indian soldiers carrying .303 rifles, forty Gurkhas armed only with swords, and the European chief of police. With no warning, his troops started shooting, firing 1,650 rounds into the crowd. Official figures said 379 people died. The Congress inquiry into the shootings counted more than 1,000. By a long way, this was the worst use of military force against a civilian crowd in British history.
Dyer was briefly lauded by his superiors in Punjab for quickly stopping the collapse of imperial power, and was sent to command troops in Afghanistan. ‘Your action correct and Lieutenant-Governor approves,’ Dyer was told when he first reported his action to the head of Punjab’s government. But as news of the Amritsar killings spread to London his conduct began to be criticized by his compatriots. The British government’s liberal Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montagu, insisted on a public investigation into the Punjab violence. Within months, Dyer was summoned to appear before a Disorders Inquiry Committee in the Punjab capital of Lahore.
The committee consisted of a mild-mannered Scottish judge, Lord William Hunter, four other Britons and three Indian lawyers. The commission’s proceedings were irritable and anxious. Dyer and its British members agreed that coercion was needed in Punjab. The arrest of 3,200 ‘rebels’, the shooting of massed gatherings and bombing from the air were seen as ‘difficult’ but necessary nonetheless to ‘hold on’ to British imperial power if done in the right way. The committee approved of thirty-seven cases of firing and censured only one. Their belief in the use of violence to preserve British power placed the Britons at odds with their Indian colleagues, eventually leading to a total breakdown between the two sides. ‘You people want to drive the British out of the country,’ Hunter shouted at C. H. Setalvad, a moderate lawyer on the inquiry committee, in one particularly tense exchange.
The Hunter inquiry marked the arrival of a new force in Indian politics: the crowd. Up until 1919, British officers thought about Indian politics in terms of potentially seditious political leaders. The mass of India’s population existed off-stage. As passive subjects, they were the occasional target of government action. In government reports, the ‘mob’ was sometimes described as being brought into play by scheming political leaders, sporadically excited by religious passion, but the masses had no political life of their own. From the events in Punjab in 1919 onwards, ‘the crowd’ began to be seen as a political actor in its own right. The Indian government’s report on the disturbances used the word ‘crowd’ 150 times in seventy pages; the Hunter report 280 times in 175 pages, and the text’s narrative began with a mass ‘outbreak’. The fear, throughout, was that the escalation of crowd violence might cause the collapse of the Raj’s power. Hunter was not sure middle-class revolutionaries were a great threat, but the report’s authors feared that ‘a movement which had started in rioting and become a rebellion might have rapidly become a revolution’.
Dyer and his British critics disagreed about the best response to this new politics of spontaneous crowd violence. The government in London and the Viceroy believed the quick and firm use of force against rioting needed to be accompanied by concessions to India’s political elites. They wanted Indian nationalists to help them control the crowd. They had started to believe that British sovereignty in India relied on conceding pockets of power to Indians in an otherwise despotic regime. By 1919, the British government had started to frame reforms to include a liberal element in India’s autocratic constitution.
Dyer, by contrast, thought any act of retreat would quickly cause the Raj to unravel. For him, British power in India was based on conquest, and conquest could only be maintained if violence was continually asserted against a population which could quickly turn into a mob. Any kind of equality entailed a dangerous lack of respect for India’s conquerors. After a crisis, such as those of 1857 or 1919, authority could only be restored if Indians were forced to submit themselves, sometimes humiliatingly, before their masters. So, after the initial disorders in Punjab, barristers in Amritsar were forced to do menial work. Every resident of Gujranwala was ordered to salute and salaam when they passed a British officer. Any Indian passing along the street where the missionary Miss Sherwood had been attacked was commanded by Dyer to crawl on their bellies.
Given in a packed Lahore assembly hall in November 1919, Dyer’s testimony before the Hunter Commission used the language of personal triumph and humiliation. Dyer treated his cross-examination as a series of insults and slights. He often lost his temper. The ‘rebel’ meeting at the Jallianwala Bagh was, he argued, an act of ‘defiance’ against his authority that needed to be ‘punished’. ‘It was’, Dyer famously argued, ‘no longer a question of merely dispersing the crowd.’ The shooting was calculated to produce ‘a moral effect’, to reduce ‘the morale of the rebels’, and in the process, force Indian subjects to submit.
Dyer’s response to riots in Amritsar was a retaliation to an existential challenge. The way of life he had been brought up in was wrapped up with the idea of Indian obedience to British commands. If those commands were not obeyed, Dyer would not be able to consider himself a dignified human being. When asked why he did not just shoot to disperse the crowd, Dyer said the people who gathered ‘would all come back and laugh at me’. Without the killing, he said, ‘I considered I would be making myself a fool’.
Dismissed quickly by his Commander-in-Chief, in poor physical and mental health, Dyer travelled to Bombay without a hotel reservation and was forced to stay in a dirty dormitory before taking a troopship back to England. The Army Council banned him from any further employment in the armed forces. Back in Britain support for him grew in some quarters, and his actions at Amritsar were debated in Parliament. There Dyer became a political cause célèbre for die-hard Tory and Unionist politicians who believed Britain’s global power was acquired and retained by conquest not partnership; they saw every act of concession as a humiliating desertion of the embattled bastions of imperial power before the insurgent crowd. The Irish Unionist, one-time First Lord of the Admiralty and staunch opponent of Irish nationalism, Sir Edward Carson, was Dyer’s most fervent advocate. In his speech before the House of Commons, Carson portrayed Dyer as the defender of English values and imperial power against the international revolutionaries manipulating crowd violence in Egypt, Ireland, Russia and India. ‘It is all one conspiracy, it is all engineered in the same way, it all has the same object – to destroy our sea power and drive us out of Asia.’
Dyer’s British defenders and critics were united in their desire to sustain British sovereignty in India against new forces of resistance and rebellion. Theirs was a passionate, sometimes vicious debate: some of Dyer’s critics accused him of being ‘unBritish’ and on the verge of insanity; some of his defenders accused the Jewish Secretary of State of being part of a global conspiracy of Jews against British power.
The intensity of these arguments was partially caused by the deep-rooted commitment which the everyday operators of imperial power had long felt towards empire. But it was partly caused, too, by the fact that empire in India had recently become important to Britain in a new way. In 1919, India was no longer merely a self-sustaining, self-justifying outpost of British power that mattered only to families like the Dyers who ruled it. The First World War briefly turned British India into a vital source of British geopolitical power, a recruiting ground for soldiers and a base for materials and cash. World war forced Britain’s political leaders to adopt a more liberal attitude towards the Government of India. But it also created forces that ensured liberal imperialism could not last....”
(‘India Conquered: Britain's Raj and the Chaos of Empire’, 2016)

 "A picket of British soldiers in Amritsar, 1919, defending imperial institutions in the wake of the Jallianwalagh Bagh massacre"

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

विश्वामित्रांची प्रतिसृष्टी ...Westworld and a New Heaven

"...वसिष्ठ-विश्वामित्र वादाचे दर्शन घडविणारी आणखी एक कथा वाल्मीकिरामायणात आलेली आहे (बालकांड, सर्ग ५७-६१) . ती थोडक्यात अशी : सदेह स्वर्गात जाण्याच्या हेतूने इक्ष्वाकुवंशीय राजा त्रिशंकू ह्याने एक यज्ञ करण्याचे ठरवून त्यासाठी वसिष्ठांची मदत मागितली. ती मिळाल्यामुळे तो विश्वामित्रांकडे गेला. विश्वामित्रांनी ती देण्याचे ठरविले; परंतु त्या यज्ञात निमंत्रित केलेल्या देवता आल्यामुळे स्वत:च्या तपः सामर्थ्यावर विश्वामित्रांनी त्रिशंकूला स्वर्गाप्रत नेण्याचा प्रयत् चालवला. ह्या प्रयत्नांना देवांनी विरोध करताच विश्वामित्रांनी स्वतःच एक नवा स्वर्ग बनविण्याचा प्रयत् सुरू केला होता, पण देवांच्या विनंतीवरून तो त्यांनी थांबवला...." 
(सौजन्य: मराठी विश्वकोश)

"...Dr. Ford: Hello, Dolores. Do you know where you are?
Dolores:  I'm in a dream.
Dr. Ford: Yes, Dolores. You're in my dream. Tell me, do you know what this dream means?
Dolores: Dreams are the mind telling stories to itself. They don't mean anything.
Dr. Ford : No, dreams mean everything. They're the stories we tell ourselves of what could be, who we could become. Have you been dreaming again, Dolores? Imagining yourself breaking out of your... modest little loop? Taking on a bigger role? Well, I suppose I can't begrudge you that. My father told me to be satisfied with my lot in life. That the world owed me nothing. And so, I made my own world. Tell me, Dolores..." 

 (HBO's 'Westworld', Season 1, Episode 5, 'Contrapasso')

Indra prevents Trisanku from ascending to Heaven in physical form

Artist: Ghulam 'Ali, c1597-1605

courtesy:  Wikimedia Commons

Twenty models, who have been turned into ‘humanoid’ robots by body artists to promote 'Westworld'
courtesy: HBO and Rex

Sunday, April 08, 2018

आरशातील उत्पात आणि कल्लोळ !....G A Kulkarni and Orson Welles

"...एक सिंहासन वर येत, दोन साम्राज्य नष्ट होतात. लक्षावधी घोडे उजाड माळावरून वणव्याच्या लाटेप्रमाणे धावू लागतात व खंडं बेचिराख होतात ! प्रतिबिंबांचा प्रतिबिंबांशीच संघर्ष ! आरशातील उत्पात आणि कल्लोळ !..." 

जी ए कुलकर्णींच्या 'प्रवासीं ('रमलखुणा', १९७५) कथेतील एक विलक्षण प्रसंग (पृष्ठ २६-३५) म्हणजे प्रवाशाचे त्याच्या कुत्र्यासोबत शिकाऱ्याच्या आरसेगृहातील (House of mirrors) आगमन आणि सुटका.

इतक्या वेळा वाचून सुद्धा मला त्याचे सगळे पैलू समजले असे वाटत नाही. अदभुत आणि चिरंतन याची सांगड जीए ज्या कौशल्याने घालतात त्यामुळे त्याचे लेखन इतक्या वर्षानंतर सुद्धा ताजे वाटते, हटके वाटते.

अस आरसेगृह जीएंच्या आयुष्यात लहानपणीच, ते जेंव्हाजेंव्हा जत्रेला गेले असतील, त्या त्या वेळी आले असेल. पण मला वाटत की जीएंना ऑर्सन वेल्स यांच्या 'दि लेडी फ्रॉम शांघाय', १९४७ मधील हाऊस ऑफ मिरर्स सुद्धा लक्षात असणार.

जीएंच्या भाव आणि कला जीवनावर हॉलीवूडचा, एकूणच चांगल्या चित्रपटांचा  खूप प्रभाव होता अस मला त्यांची पत्रे वाचल्यापासून कायम वाटत आले आहे.

शिवाय जीए स्वतः एक चित्रकार असल्यामुळे ते त्यांच्या लेखनात अनेक प्रभावी चित्रवत प्रतिमा निर्माण करतात. अशा कलाकारावर चित्रांचा आणि इतर visual arts चा प्रभाव इतर लेखांकांपेक्षा अमळ जास्त असणे सुद्धा सहाजिक आहे.

'प्रवासी'तील आरसेगृहातील वर्णन म्हणजे एखाद्या निष्णात पटकथालेखकाने एखाद्या उत्तम सिनेदिग्दर्शकासाठी लिहल्यासारखे आहे. 




Everett Sloane, Orson Welles, and Rita Hayworth in the final scene at a house of mirrors from

‘The Lady from Shanghai’, 1947 

Courtesy: Columbia Pictures