A letter to the 18 year old myself

My dear son, let me tell you... by Funny Fish
 

Hi there,

While looking for something, I happened to stumble upon those diaries that you are so religiously writing right now. Quotations, long handwritten book extracts, poems, fears, joy and frustrations spanning around 7 years- man, I think I am not half that methodical after all these years. It made me a bit sad to know how miserable I was those days.

Nostalgia plays strange illusions. Human memory has the ability to strip off all the unpleasantness from our past and embellish it in a beauty that really never existed. While reading your diaries I realised that probably I am much more self assured and socially confidant and happy now than you, my 18 year old self.

I am glad that you are writing those diaries. They gave me some perspective. And I am sorry to inform you that I stopped regular diary writing in around 2006 just before starting my post graduation. Interestingly I started a blog in 2007. But it never comes close to those diaries. Because the honesty when you write something for just yourself cannot be surpassed by anything else. I think that the biggest challenge as a writer is, how much you are willing to reveal about yourself as a person. Honesty is king. A reader can palpate the courage of the writer in his words.

I am glad that you are holding on to writing despite all the rejection slips, peer pressure and your own insecurities about the rationality of what you are doing. Probably writing is the only thing that you are doing right. But that will do. Everyone needs something to hold on to, in the storm of chance events that is coming his way. A narrative that will color every random event in life with a meaning.

You seem to be asking me, would I have done anything differently then if I had known what would happen 15 years from now? Probably not. I don’t think so. Like my post graduate career choice. Like not giving up on the dream of being a writer. Of course I would have written more. Would have knocked on all those doors much more furiously. And I would have reached out to my friends more. Would not have allowed them to drift away in the currents of life. I realise their emotional worth much more now. And I would have allowed myself to make more mistakes.

You want to know whether you would be successful after 15 years? Would you regret your actions and decisions? I just want to tell you- Don’t worry about the future. It is not going to do you any good. Because no matter what, your success depends on your definition of success. So it doesn’t matter. 15 years down the line, you may look with disdain at the greed or shallowness of many of your peers which is only surpassed by their contempt for your choices. So everything depends on the perspective. And you are making enough money to live decently. And you still love your day job.

And I saved the biggest news for you till the end. Despite all your indecisions and flip flops and jitteriness about ‘what you want,’ and ‘what you are going to do,’ ‘Regretting foolish fantasies,’ I am proud about you. You know why? You are the among the rare few among your peers (I can count them in my fingers), who would take some bold choices in future. You ignored what others did when it mattered. It was tougher for you because you took a detour while others were just following a long procession. I never expected that much courage from you. Would those choices pay off? Or would you regret them? I can tell you only this much. I am still standing here. And I am not banging my head on the wall. In fact the only regrets I am having right now is that I didn’t follow through those decisions with enough conviction later on. And I am having this nagging feeling that another 15 years from now, if I am going to regret anything, that is going to be that lack of conviction rather than those bold choices.

So don’t worry. Just continue what you are trying to do. Only thing is- be a little more happy and relaxed. Don’t read too much into everything. Do what you like and enjoy what you do. Love life. Rest of it is just useless interpretation.

With lots of empathy,

Your senior self.

Photo by Funny Fish

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An accidental reunion

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When I think about it, I would have been more happy if they didn’t see me while I was passing by. Then I could have wallowed in self pity after he had gone back to Japan that he didn’t meet me.

He had dyed his hair. I made fun of my own graying hair. ‘I have painted it white.’ Everyone laughed. It amused me that he didn’t say anything. I knew he had turned all gray. But he didn’t know I knew. Another friend in Japan had told me.

He tried to introduce his fiance. ‘Probably you two would have met each other.’ Yeah. We would have. If you didn’t fail to mention about her for 2 years while you and me were literally living in the same room.

We talked about work. I asked about his office like an interviewer asking about work experience. Staff? Problems? Work hours? Job satisfaction? Two other friends came. They wanted to buy some wine. We all got up.

There was a party at the place of a mutual friend. ‘Will you come?’ ‘Sure. Call me when you reach there.’ He wanted to say something more. May be shake my hands or something like that too. But I just nodded walking away. ‘Call me.’ I was thinking, ‘this accidental encounter ruined a chance for me to say that he didn’t even meet me.’

That call never came. I was a little happy. He forgot me. I can hate him. It was only a few days later it suddenly occurred to me the meaning of that searching look on his face when that accidental meeting ended. Probably we may never meet each other in our lives again. He was trying for a farewell.

And then there was a rush of grief. For a lost friend.

Photo by Monkey Traffic

Why you should follow your dream…

That creepy common sense. You know, the odds and figures… The actual probability of making it after taking this lonely road that you so desperately want to follow… The fear of being embarrassed by your own stupidity when you look back after many years…

Here is why you should still follow that dream abandoning the shade of a boring but secure choice- even if the odds of making it is one in lakhs… Top five regrets of the dying-

Giving feedback: To hurt or to lie?

The Birds by Phillie Casablanca

One of my friends called me a few days back. He was drunk. He was very excited about this idea which he was planning to develop into this 30 minute abstract drama. It is always very tough when some one asks your opinion about something which they are really excited about. And it becomes even more tough because they call you because they expect you to be honest with them. So I told him the truth after coating some sugar on it. But the sugar coating wasn’t thick enough. Or so he felt. It ended up in a (one sided) polemic about why screenwriting is about selling out compared to writing for theater.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I don’t have any specific commitment or love for truth. If I am given a choice between hurting someone and telling a lie, I would always choose the second one without batting an eye. But sometimes you make a mistake about how much pain you can cause. You misjudge about the level of rejection some one can take. And often it is very unpleasant to think about the amount of effort someone is going to put into a ‘nothing’ because you also said ‘yes.’

It made me think about subjectivity and objectivity in relation to art. It is really tough at times. Especially with screenwriting, Continue reading

He said…she said: a short film review

This short film review of mine was first published here at shortz

 

(Major spoilers…)

How do you dramatise the malady of modern relationships? When I read the synopsis of this short – ‘Marriages are made in heaven… what happens to it by the time it materialises on earth?’- I was curious about this. But after watching the short, it  appears that the logline is a little too generic for what happens with the couple in the short.

But if you don’t approach ‘He said… she said’ with any prior misconceptions, it does reward you. What  the back bone of this short film really is the brilliant acting by the lead characters especially Prashant Narayan. Until I googled him, I didn’t realise that he is a successful film actor. He deserves to be. The improvisations he manages on screen makes it a real pleasure to watch this short.
Another strength of this short is the production values. The quality and destiny of your short is inevitably linked to the quality of your equipment and expertise of those who handle them.
I liked the basic idea. And the twist in the end is very well set up with the calendar, the character of the husband who repeatedly tries to joke about everything in the first segment etc. The first half of the film where the wife tries to do a cross word puzzle while the husband is busy on his laptop is infused with a certain credibility. Even though the conversation is deceptively simple and mundane, it is very tough to achieve that in terms of writing, directing and acting. The second segment (after husband admits to the relationship) is also well made but I felt that even though it has come out beautifully, cannot claim the kind of simplicity and credibility of first half. There are beautiful lines out there (‘We are both travelling in the same boat but with different people’) but it is difficult to believe that immediately after admitting to an extramarital relationship from both sides, a husband and wife will talk (poetically) like this . At least on the same day of the revelation.
My biggest problem with this short is the ‘talking heads’ syndrome. With the subject matter, definitely it is going to be dialogue dependent (even though a much more daunting challenge would have been to use the pauses and silences well within the time constraints of a short film without the dialogue being too exposure heavy or meandering) . But some how an effort doesn’t appear to be made to break the monotonous nature of the camera angles and repeated visuals of heads of characters talking into the camera. Interestingly, it is only for a very short duration both the characters are together in the same frame even though they are talking to each other incessantly through out the film. Don’t know whether this was intentional but at times we don’t even feel they are in the same room. Towards the end, the amount of light exposure and tint of light is different for these characters even though they are standing near to each other. There is a lack of fluidity in the execution and shot selection of the scene where wife closes the laptop and husband grabs her hand.  But I liked the decision to abruptly start the second part of the film after that such that husband has already confessed to his extra marital relationship.
The title of the short film could have been better.

What if your idea is already a movie?

Had the typical writer’s nightmare 2 days back. The idea I have been outlining for more than a month is similar to the one-line of a film which is already out there. I came up on this while browsing through IMDB. Now comes the important question- what to do? Continue outlining it or abandon it? Or watch the movie and decide how much execution is similar to what I have in mind? But I got an interesting advice from a writer-friend- don’t watch it. If you watch it, some elements are going to subconsciously spill over. Continue developing it and if you want, see it later. I feel that it makes most sense. So I have decided not to shelve one month of work but to boldly go forward. The decision is risky. Most usually a writer is judged by hearing some of his outlines and not by reading all his scripts. A very innovative execution of a commonplace idea is more likely to go waste than average execution of a high concept idea.

What I have learnt from this experience is that writers need to be constant touch with all the projects developing in parallel out there. We can’t watch every movie. But at least one can go through one-lines of movies without spending too much time. This has to be part of our routine.

Photo by  les5siamoises