Disclaimer: Mild spoilers for Season 4 Finale.

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“Don’t be sad, be happy for me.”

“My name is Nathan Fielder and I graduated from one of Canada’s top business school with really good grades.” is how Nathan Fielder introduces himself before each episode of his cult docu-reality show Nathan For You which has been airing on Comedy Central since 2013. He offers struggling small businesses assistance in exchange for nothing but the permission to record the unscripted hilarity that ensues to create installments of this uniquely preposterous show.

The above premise sound harmless and if you have not watched the show you would be fair to assume that it’s another wacky prank show where the host (and us, the viewers) have fun at the expense of the helpless business owners who simply expect a weird stranger with a camera crew to help them grow their business but things get interesting when Nathan reveals the solutions to achieve the same.

Saying that these ideas are outlandish doesn’t even begin to cover the magnificent bizarreness of this show which is often described as an extremely difficult watch for you don’t really know if you are being a sadomasochist when you laugh at all these innocent people ‘getting help’ from a (sometimes) lying, manipulating Nathan who wouldn’t stop at anything to service his craft. This man is borderline psychotic when it comes to committing to an idea, and I mean it as a compliment of the highest order.

To start with, in the S01 pilot, he tries to help a Yogurt parlor by introducing a new ‘Poo’ flavored yogurt to get people talking about the yogurt shop.

From here on, it just gets insaner with this man pulling gobsmackingly brave stunts, like inventing a robotic claw of shame that would pull his pants down in front of a bunch of kids and render him a registered sex offender if he isn’t able to uncuff himself within 90 seconds! (S01E07),

or re-branding an LA realtor as a ‘Ghost Realtor’ (S02E01) who ends up having a seizure upon being exorcised by a demon hunter!,

or leveraging a legal loophole called “Parody Law” to launch a Dumb Starbucks to help a local coffee shop! (S02E05, the stand-out episode which got Nathan global fame.),

or manufacturing his own ‘a cop pulled me over’ talk-show story and making sure that he is not lying when he narrates it on Kimmel for the promotion of his own show (how Meta!). [S04, Anecdote, changes everything you ever believed about Talk show anecdotes and leaves you unable to trust these pop culture vignettes ever again].

There are comedians who tell jokes, there are comedians who act jokes/sketches, and then there is Nathan Fielder who is awkwardness/cringe/deadpan all rolled into a human form. He conjures up insanely farcical ideas and commits himself fully over to the flawless execution of them even if that means that he has to train for nine months to LEARN TO WALK A TIGHTROPE between two seven-story rooftops while pretending to be SOMEONE ELSE, which he miraculously accomplished in Season 3 finale (aptly titled The Hero) two years ago. At that time, I genuinely thought that this would be his swan song and nothing he does next will be able to top this episode but then I saw Finding Frances, the S04 Finale.

During the above super amusing retelling of the Talk Show story on Meyers’ show, Nathan humbly compared himself to The Beatles, and I super-humbly disagree with that. He isn’t The Beatles. He is the freaking Beethoven of comedy and Finding Frances is not one bit less great than Symphony №9. Just like Beethoven’s compositions, each of his immensely WTF, carefully thought-through and meticulously crafted episodes are masterpieces, but Finding Frances is such a precious, almost-philosophical, (and mostly UNSCRIPTED!) study of regret, love, false identity, and above all, kindness that Nathan can now legit be called an auteur.

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‘You are one decision away from having a completely different life.’

This feature-length episode documents Nathan helping Bill Heath, a professional Bill Gates impersonator with whom he’s previously worked in Season 2 (E02, Souvenir Shop), find his long-lost love, Frances Gaddy. Bill is a 78 year old lonely man who admittedly left Frances for a career in Hollywood 60 years ago, never married, and is now regretting the decision. Nathan, upon seeing this man‘s agony, embarks on an ambitious quest to find Frances which leads him to Arkansas, Bill’s hometown.

In Arkansas, among other hilarious attempts to find Frances, he poses as a member of the crew for Mud 2: Never Clean (a made-up sequel to Mud, which was shot at Frances’ alma mater, Dumas high school) to stealthily obtain the 1957 yearbook which might help them get a clue about Frances’ whereabouts. He even organizes a 57 year reunion for her batch, in hopes that her old classmates might offer a clue or two, but all his efforts elicit zero returns.

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We have seen Nathan interacting with women in a perfectly normal, non-creepy, not at all awkward fashion in earlier seasons, so things take a very interesting turn when around the halfway mark, Nathan hires an escort, Maci, for Bill to just talk to (only talking, no touching). Bill still refuses to meet her (“You gotta know what you’re sticking it in”) despite Nathan telling him about the No Touching clause. Since her time is already paid for, Nathan decides to meet her himself and instantly falls for her infectious bubbly laugh.

Over the next hour, we see both these men grapple with their loneliness while they look for love in unexpected places. One old, who regrets not being able to hold on to something that could have changed the course of his life, and one young, who doesn’t have anything to hold onto in his life except his elaborate pranks.

Does Nathan see Bill as a cautionary tale? Is he scared that he too would end up a lonely man who got so busy chasing his dreams that he did not have anyone to share the success with when he finally achieved it?

Nathan has a lot of free time in Arkansas which he spends visiting bars and watching TV. He calls Maci again to hang out with him. She agrees because at $350/hour, Nathan isn’t bad company.

After a few meetings, Maci asks Nathan if he would like to see her in a more private setting. He agrees and invites her to his hotel room. The juxtaposition of the tenderness of the above moment with ‘WTF am I seeing? hilarity of the next, an ultra cringe-worthy kiss between these two is what makes this show absolutely one of its kind. Nathan, whose TV personality is a mildly amplified version of his real self, is at his most vulnerable when he is with Maci (or is he?). Given that he also directed this episode, his willingness to put himself in these excruciatingly uncomfortable moments and to not edit them out is what sets him apart from his peers. He wears his awkwardness on his sleeve with pride.

As the episode progresses, we find out that Bill is a flawed man. He hasn’t been completely honest with Nathan about his history with Frances. He is a Trump supporter (the episode was shot before the election results) and an entirely different man (read borderline creep) around women. Despite all these revelations, Nathan refuses to back off and goes out of his way to see the regret-filled human side of this old man who is pining for closure. THAT is what makes this episode so much more special than anything Nathan has done so far.

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This thesis-worthy documentary, brimming with compassion and a steady undercurrent of loneliness, blurs the lines between fiction and reality. Is Nathan really falling for Maci, or is he pretending because it’s great material? Does Maci also feel the same for him or is it just the money that keeps bringing her back? Did Bill really love Frances or is he just a desperate old poser?

Errol Morris, the revered documentary filmmaker, answers these questions in his beautiful New Yorker piece where he calls it his new favorite exploration of love.

Bill’s arc closes with an incredibly symbolic ‘Bee hunt’ and during the final two minutes of the episode, we become aware of the surprising level of depth Nathan and Maci’s relationship has acquired when Maci finally acknowledges the cameras and this exchange happens,

Maci: “It’s kinda weird having cameras around, right?”

Nathan: “We could turn them off if you want.”

Maci: “Could we?”

Nathan: “Do you want to?”

Maci: “I feel like that… Does that defeat the purpose?”

Nathan: “Of what?”

Maci: “I don’t know.”

Nathan: “What’s the purpose?”

Maci: “You’re filming something. That’s kinda the purpose, right?

He momentarily looks at the camera as if toying with the idea of ‘FADE TO BLACK’ (which still would have been a great ending) but then, decides to use the drone the production crew has to capture a cool aerial shot. A masterful split-second decision that manages to separate us from them and serves his artistic ambition as well.

As the drone flies up and far above and we see them holding hands, surrounded by the camera crew, I couldn’t help but marvel at the incredible genius of this man who could either be the loneliest artist who has created 2017’s singularly greatest work of reality TV or the biggest poker-faced troll of our generation.

Something we will never be able to know.

– Avinash Verma

(Avinash‘ full time job is to watch movies and in his free time he pretends to be a Digital Marketeer. He occasionally writes on Medium as well.)

Trumbo And The Art Of War

Trumbo achieves what few others have, to fight with the purity of a radical and yet win with the cunning of a rich man. His words not mine. What I find fascinating is the use of irony, in its potent weaponised form.

Let me begin with a bit of context, while movies remain a source of entertainment, for most of us, I find them to be a remarkably accurate mirror of the human condition. So let’s take a long, good look at ourselves. This is the third piece in the What the movies taught me series. You can read the first part here, and second one is here.

I’ll wait for a moment while that cast list hits you. Deep breaths.

Trumbo is a autobiographical based on the life of Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenwriter who is also an active member of the communist party of USA. Trumbo is one of the ten writers who is later subpoenaed under the allegations of furthering communist propaganda through his writings. He is later imprisoned for contempt of Congress and serves eleven months in a Federal Correctional Institution.

But even after his release the Hollywood Blacklist prevents him and several other communists and communist sympathisers from working in the industry. They’re disavowed by the studios and friends alike in the interests of protecting their own careers. Under struggling financial and familial circumstances, a freshly released from prison, publicly avoided Trumbo plots his revenge and the overthrow of the Hollywood Blacklist.

A Great Debate

At the heart of any good movie, I’d like to believe is a great debate. Whether that is internalised within a character or is played out between two or more. So it is too with Trumbo at its core lies a great debate between the idealist Arlen Hird and the rather pragmatic Trumbo. A debate that I find comes as close as possible within my rather limited knowledge of cinematic history, to the nature of victory and the means employed to fight within a democratic system.

There is a scene in the beginning of the movie that sets up the debate for what is to follow.
Hird: “… you know what it is, I don’t trust you … look I know what I am, I want this whole country to be different, top to bottom. If I get what I want, nobody gets their own lake.
Trumbo: “Well that would be a very dull life.”
Hird: “Yeah, for you not for the guys who built this. If I’m wrong, tell me, but ever since I’ve known you. You talk like a radical but you live like a rich guy.”
Trumbo: “That is true.”
Hird: “Well, I don’t know if you’re willing to lose all of this just to do the right thing.”
Trumbo: “Well, I despise martyrdom and I won’t fight for a lost cause. So you’re right I am not willing to lose it all. (points to family) Certainly not them. But I am willing to risk it all. That’s where the radical and the rich guy make a perfect combination. You see the radical, they fight with the purity of Jesus but the rich guy wins with the cunning of Satan.”
Hird: “Oh please, please just shut up…”

A man fighting only for his principles, for his staunch belief in doing the right thing, is willing to risk it all, his finances, his privileged position in society, his career and his family, but what he’s not prepared to do is lose it all. Employing whatever means it takes to keep them. I found this particular scene to be a great character reveal in all its complex layering. It also seems to be a particular form of irony that a man fighting on principle is willing to use the cunning of Satan to simply win. Irony has a major role to play in the movie as we shall further discover.

Trumbo is the thing grey line between characters and heroes written previously, while most are bound, straightjacketed within their archetypes to the point of boredom through countless repetitions. I talk of the Batman archetype, fights evil but won’t cross a line. Characters who will do what it takes to achieve their selfish goals.

Unprincipled ends call for unprincipled means.
Principled ends always call for principled means.

Else the disparity between the means and ends lead to a loss of viewer empathy for the hero’s struggle or an abandoning of belief in his cause. The unprincipled means are always introduced at a point of departure within the character arc. Suddenly the guy you’ve been rooting for, this good guy turns evil forced by circumstance he abandons the very reasons for which he is fighting and we will pity and the hero falls in our graces. Trumbo will have none of that, with his usual pragmatism and verbosity he remains true a businessman fighting for the good.

Result Vs. Ideology

It is a very fine distinction but one I believe merits drawing your attention to. In almost all fights and wars based merely on principle and ideology we have always witnessed the subordination of the result of the war to the dominant ideology that is the cause of it, in terms of a character’s priority.

Fighting the good fight has always been more important than winning the good fight. Tireless martyrs have sacrificed themselves on the altar of righteousness simply because of their stubborn refusal to do what it takes to win, they’d rather do what it takes to be right.
But herein lies the genius of Trumbo while he is a man fighting for principles he’ll be damned if he’ll allows them to interfere with his victory. Sample this scene from the movie:

Arlen: “…Studios, we should sue them…”
Trumbo: “Yes brilliant! Keep losing. Give all your money away to lawyers.”
Arlen: “I’d rather lose for the right reasons.”
Trumbo: “Why! It’s still losing, you lose, I lose, we all lose! Don’t you see that. And the whole goddamn country stays scared and dead…Arlen we can do this, we can beat them, we can win.”
Arlen: “I don’t care if I win.”
Trumbo: “Bullshit, everybody wants to win.”
Arlen: “No you want to win, I want to change things.”
Trumbo: “I want to win so that I can change things.”

I often think that while in these larger than life rebellions against the system, we might see a lot more victories on the side of the good if every man fighting the good fight wasn’t so damn hung up on fighting it the right way.

The answer to that of course isn’t violence but a more insidious way of collapsing the system but showing the hypocrisy or two-facedness of it. Something that I learnt from Trumbo.

The Nature Of Loss
There is no war without loss and every fight has its repercussions, it changes the people who go through it. Also tragedy in some form or another is required for a good plot anyways. Aristotle argued that tragedy cleansed the heart through pity and terror, purging us of our petty concerns and worries by making us aware that there can be nobility in suffering. He called this experience ‘catharsis’.

What is fascinating me for in Trumbo is the nature of the loss he undergoes. Since this is a true story it is stranger and certainly more enchanting than most fiction. While the most cliched way of dealing with tragedy in conflict is to show how the protagonist becomes in one way or another the very thing he is trying to destroy. A cop who becomes corrupt to see justice done, a doctor who falls sick to the very virus he is trying to eradicate, etc. But Trumbo is special the nature of his loss is the dulling of the very faculties that he depends upon for his livelihood, it is a betrayal of his passion for what he loves to do, write. In the context of his life story after being driven away from the big studios, Trumbo finds employment writing the low budget, low brow Kings Brothers. At the same time he has to write under pseudonyms, being unable to collect two Oscars for his ghost written scripts. In the midst of this there is this beautiful scene where Arlen becomes in many ways the voice of his own passion for writing calling for fealty towards it. After Arlen botches a script about an alien bonking a farm girl by filling it with political references, this is the scene as it happens:

Trumbo: “…What the hell were you thinking?”
Arlen: “I was thinking, it’s why I am a writer. To say things that matter. Remember that, I was a reporter. I was nominated for a Pulitzer. I fought in Spain and I know Ernest Hemingway. I actually know him and he knows me. If I walk into a bar in Paris, maybe not my name but I’ll get a wave.
And you, you won the national fucking book award. I mean what are we doing?”

“I mean do you, do you ever miss writing something, forget great just good. I mean you must have ideas still, right?”

Imagine being a portrait painter in Florence, one of the finest, one with the most generous patrons and then to be reduced to a position where you have to paint road signs, the guy who paints those square lines on roads to demarcate lanes, to make a living and even those are being criticised for not being straight enough. The dulling of the senses is a particularly painful experience.

To reduce the very thing that makes one unique, the very thing that is the foundation of one’s self esteem and standing in society to purposefully take a blunt file and file away at it, to reduce it to rather pathetic ordinary standards would require an extraordinary amount of strength.

And yet Trumbo soldiers on, because to him this temporary period of producing garbage is a path to victory.

Irony As A Weapon

Perhaps the most difficult thing in the movie that Trumbo has to encounter is to keep quelling the insistent voice of Arlen which also mirrors to a very large extent some of his own voices that the audience would expect his character to possess. Especially when they decide to write a script for Buddy Ross a producer who has given testimony against them in closed court.

Trumbo: “This is going to be a very big movie and if Buddy gets a good script.”
Arlen: “Which you’re going to give him.”
Trumbo: “No, which I am going to sell him.”
Arlen: “For money, ‘cos that’s why we did all of this, right, it was for the money.

Trumbo: “Why can’t you not see this, if we get one big movie, we can get all the big movies. And this whole rotten thing could collapse on the sheer irony that every unemployable writer is employed.”

What I find brilliant in the scene is the use of Irony as a weapon, perhaps the greatest weapon there is to destroy a system from within. There is no defence it allows for, in its expose of the hypocrisy of injustice in this case.

Since the movie I’ve been thinking of employing irony as a weapon. Using actions that bring about a deliberate, pervasive sentiment of irony so strong that it wins the fight in your favour. That is precisely what Trumbo teaches us.

We’ve heard of “become the change you want to see in the world”. But what Trumbo shows us is becoming, manifesting an irony, changes the world itself.

– Percy Bharucha

(The author has been previously published in eFiction and eFiction India, Eastlit, Reading Hour, Gratis, The Madras Mag, The Ascent, The Creative Cafe, Invisible Illness, The Writing Cooperative, Bigger Picture, Hundred Naked Words, Be Yourself, Fit Yourself Club, Hopes and Dreams for the Future, Written Tales, Poets Unlimited and The Haven. He writes regularly on Medium and runs a bi-weekly comic strip called The Adult Manual. He also tweets infrequently at  @Sab_Bakwaas_Hai)

India Film Project and FilterCopy has launched a new Web Writers’ Lab. The lab has been designed to take the selected participants and the scripts (for a web sketch) through a formal process of screenwriting, making it adaptive to viewers, and giving an opportunity to learn the skills which are essential to screenwriting for web. And finally, the web sketch will be produced by them.

In short, Join + Write + Learn + Give to web = Web Writers’ lab

– Once you submit your scripts, the team will curate and shortlist the 20 scripts who get a chance to attend a one-day workshop with writers of FilterCopy at their HQ, Mumbai.

– At the end of it, 5 scripts will be shortlisted for a five day scriptwriting lab at Mumbai (Travel+stay will be taken care of). The emphasis will be on fine-tuning the scripts so that they can be produced into individual sketches by FilterCopy.

– The writer whose script will be selected to be made into a video will receive a standard fee for their script

– It’s open only for comedy sketches

– Last day of submission – 31st December, 2017

-Registration fee for the lab is Rs 1,000.

– For more details, do click here.

 

You want to be a screenwriter, but you don’t know where to start.

Bombay is expensive. Is it worth going?

And on top of that, you don’t even know anyone. Even if you are in bombay, you don’t know whom to call for writing work.

These are just some of the basic questions that we all have grappled with at some point or other. There are no straight answers. Everyone finds a way.

But one thing is for sure now – it was never this easy if you have heard about AIB’s First Draft Programme. I wish there was something like this when we were starting out. It looked too good to be true – there is no fee, they take care of all the tuition expenses, and they even take care of your stay in Bombay. I have always felt that Bombay kids have an advantage. Not for anything else, but just for the rent. It’s fucking expensive! Whatever you earn, it goes in rent.

So when they started last year, it made me quite curious. Let’s see how it pans out. Been part of few script labs, i have experienced that nobody gets you till the last mile. Writing, feedback, learning, polishing – all that is good. BUT ARE YOU GETTING HIRED FOR WRITING?

Last i checked, out of the 10 writers that AIB selected, 7 of them are already writing commissioned work (film/web) for AIB which is in various stages of production. This is great. This is what all writers want.

So this year, we got one of the selected participant, Pulkit Arora to write about the whole experience.

Read. And Apply. Or Apply first, then come back and read. Last date for registration is Dec 5th, 2017. Click here for more details.

Falling In Love With Cinema / How I Learnt To Stop Worrying And Love The Screen

Last month, I went to my first film festival. As I swiftly discovered, festivals are exercises in cinema gluttony, with people catching as many as five films a day and ruing the absence of a sixth. But I felt oddly at home in queue for my next course.

18 months ago, this wasn’t the case. I’d maybe watch a film if the ticket price was less than Rs 2o0 and the run-time was under 100 minutes – that’d be about a film a month.

Most people around me at the festival had fallen in love with the movies when they were children. Stories told to you on a 50-ft screen as you chewed popcorn and slurped coke – what’s not to like? The leap from loving cinema to making cinema is substantial, but natural.

But as a vocal detractor of sitting still for more than 4 minutes, I had missed that honeymoon. I don’t think I even made it to the altar.

No one in my family had worked in art since a distant alcoholic uncle in the 80s ran production on a film with Asrani in the romantic lead. The casting choice was only slightly worse than the film itself; to this day at the dinner table, the conclusion is folks in arts are lazy drunks who didn’t score well in Science section.

On pure whim on an especially boring weekend, I stumbled onto a course called AIB First Draft, with no information on what writing for films entails. A whole Saturday off, and only a few tasks in the application – why not?

That application was a revelation. Playing around with characters can be pure fun, as if someone had given you a playground with a sandbox as big as human experience itself. The tasks took a lot longer than just that Saturday, but I did not resent it for a moment.

Upon what I continue to maintain was a miraculous selection, I sort of packed my bags and showed up expecting decent shelter and knowledge. I was fortunate to receive both.

While the course focused on writing stories for film, it throws you into a whirlwind romance with the medium of film itself.

Every day of every week was spent reading screenplays, watching cinema & writing. A lot of writing. I used my imagination more in six months than I had in every semester in college combined, especially with nine other people to imagine with.

But the biggest value of the First Draft framework was the predictability it brings – by Monday, we’d know the scheduled writing/reading/watching ratios of each day until Friday. Freed from the usual constraints of rent payments and deadlines, the only task was to learn.

But once the course spat me out of its comforts and straight into writing a high-stakes project, I found myself dwelling more and more in this sudden appreciation for an art form. I used to be a utility-and-function guy who scoffed at anyone “not contributing to making our world better” in the ways that I defined it; now I spent my days figuring out conflicts and emotional graphs for imaginary people. I was on my own little second act, figuring out how to reconcile this new job with my values.

But now that there was infatuation, I sailed into indulgence, consuming a film a day and a screenplay every week. Every film pored over, every screenplay marked with notes. All the “do what you love” posts that I cringed at all these years ended up coming true.

Somewhere in this process, I found something that I had lacked my entire life – an understanding of the value of creating cinema, and creating art itself. We throng to theaters to feel something our lives do not provide us, and that catharsis is more important than any of our institutions teach it to be. “Story is equipment for living” is how Kenneth Burke put it, and I have stumbled upon the honor to manufacture equipment. (That analogy has worked spectacularly with the family.)

A year in, cinema and I are doing quite well together. I think about it in the day and spend time with it in my evenings. I think in frames and scenes, I see people as characters. I have a feeling this may be more than just a fling.

Pulkit Arora

(Pulkit used to run a non-profit in Delhi before First Draft. He had no experience in fiction writing before he applied for the course. He is currently writing a feature film for AIB with a course-mate from the programme)

We also asked Pulkit to give us details about stay/course/schedule. More here –

– Our accommodation was spread over three houses in Versova. One of those houses was the venue for all the lectures and screenings. We would converge there for all the group work and then split up into our own houses for writing individually.

– The curriculum was a mish-mash of several screenwriting books, guest lectures as well as Satyanshu’s personal lessons. Everything was up for discussion – we would discuss exceptions as much as the rules.

– Every Monday, we would get a schedule that lays out the week for us. It would include watching films, plays and music, reading screenplays and writing our own draft. It made life super simple, because I now knew what I’m doing five days in advance.

– As for food, AIB paid for a cook that would make three meals for all of us. We would pay for the ingredients, but that was about it)

What The Movies Taught Me – Part II

Posted: October 30, 2017 by moifightclub in cinema
Tags: ,
The lure of a simpler narrative

Why we’re all hoping, we’ll wake up one day in a better story
What the movies taught me – II


Let me begin with a bit of context, while movies remain a source of entertainment, for most of us, I find them to be a remarkably accurate mirror of the human condition. So let’s take a long, good look at ourselves. This is the second piece in the What the movies taught me series. You can read the first post here.


The Dark Tower Copyright MRC, Columbia Pictures

I recently watched The Dark Tower, a science fiction film based on Stephen King’s novel series. While the movie seemed a not-too-out-of-the-ordinary usual action fare, what surprised me was the familiar twinge of jealousy and regret at not being the protagonist. Hoping one day I too would be called forth to a greater quest of world-saving proportions. A feeling that’s pretty commonplace when you walk out of hero-quest movies as I like to call them. An ordinary, everyday human is displaced from his ordinary life and is told he has a higher order purpose, that he and he alone is uniquely gifted to fulfil. And in the balance of which hangs the fate of the entire world/worlds/universes we know of. Which got me thinking that apart from the lure of being a hero why exactly is it that movies of a similar trope have such universal appeal.


THE  LURE  OF  A  SIMPLER  NARRATIVE

I think a lot of what the movie represents is the lure of a simpler narrative. There is something primitively alluring about being a simple kid with a simple, singular objective of destroying an evil sorcerer who has unlimited powers, while your only ally being a grumpy cowboy who’s been poisoned by an alien-monster-scorpion hybrid is rapidly deteriorating while having an endearing addiction to getting high on sugar drinks. Sounds simple enough.

You Can Do It GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

Compared to figuring your life out, making rent, working insane hours and the weekends, coming to terms with the fact that there is going to be nothing new or amazing about what you do, dealing with a quarter life crisis, while undergoing therapy for existential problems/impostor syndrome, coming to terms with never being able to find true love- considering giving in to your parents and signing up for that matrimonial site, realising adopting a pet was biting off way more than you could chew, missing staying at home but having your pride, the exhausting act of maintaining a facade of absolute carefreeness and YOLO-ness while silently undergoing bouts of FOMO- being secretly jealous of most of your friends successes and binging on online content every spare moment of the day ‘cos escape. Yeah I’ll take defeating sorcerers any time of the day.


There is an innate amount of freedom in not carrying the weight of determining your own narrative.

Like in the movie Jake Chambers is called to fulfil his destiny. The path is laid out in front of him like a three course dinner. Small monster appetisers in an abandoned amusement park, main course consisting of poached Padick (the Man in Black) and for desert the joy of leaving his old life behind to perform the most important task in the world, protecting the tower. I mean what more could you possibly give an eleven year old apart from a trustworthy mentor, purpose and extraordinary shine. While the rest of us eleven year olds were choosing whether we liked doing math or art, scarcely aware of the long term career ramifications of our choices. I’d give up anything to have a path laid out for me to walk on. It’s hard to question your life or your career choices when your job is literally holding the universe together, keeping it protected from the darkness that surrounds it. The joy of such a singular objective appeals to some part of our reptilian brain that doesn’t revels in the joy of not having to process any complexity for a change. The lens of decision making is devoid of its usual navigation amongst the shady lanes of grey that ordinary adult life requires. Imagine Jake as an adult, all he has to account for is will this attack the tower> kill it, will this protect the tower>protect it as opposed to Jake the adult human going, what could I post on Facebook today to get maximum likes?


THE  APPEAL  OF  THE  SUDDEN  AWAKENING

There is an act of vindicated joy that we all empathise with, when Jake is shown his world is the dream and the mid-world he enters through the portal is his reality. There is that little bit of hope, inside all of us that this can’t be it that finds validation. That our lives cannot be just about doing taxes, choosing stationery supplies and ordering takeout. That somewhere beyond all this mundaneness there is a place where we are needed. A sort of Inception inspired deception that, this is a dream and all we need to do is wake up to realise we were meant for greatness all along. I’ve romanticised it as much as the rest of you guys.

Aww GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

“I was right! I always knew I was meant for more than this!”

There is also a certain amount of appeal that the spontaneity of the transformation holds. One moment Jake is in his room doing his “delusional” drawings, the next moment the monsters wearing human skin have come for him and he escapes to Mid-World. There is no gradual change here, the appeal I guess of such sudden transformation is that we believe they it happen to us. Right! We don’t need years of prep for it, there is no waiting time, the next moment the monster-skin-people could come for any of us. There is that deceptive hope that that moment could happen to any of us, because all it takes is a moment for the shift to begin and for the dream to end. The spontaneity of it, is proof of its probability and we begin to anticipate that moment. I’ve certainly started looking for scars behind earlobes.


DEATH  ALWAYS  WINS

Stuff like that always gets you thinking about what you’ve been upto all this while. And rather than course correct or work even harder its totally human to just put your feet up and go, “well I’m still dreaming, they haven’t come for me yet.” It’s just reassuring to know and live with the hope that any moment the dream could end and then, then we shall be truly awake and all of this, all of this will just fall by the wayside, as we embrace who we were truly meant to be, all along. When we shall throw away the cloak of mediocrity that hid our own powers all this while and show to the world who we truly were.

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After all, the desire to be in a story is all that drives us.
The desire to wake up one day and know that life is the dream.

– Percy Bharucha

(The author has been previously published in eFiction and eFiction India, Eastlit, Reading Hour, Gratis, The Madras Mag, The Ascent, The Creative Cafe, Invisible Illness, The Writing Cooperative, Bigger Picture, Hundred Naked Words, Be Yourself, Fit Yourself Club, Hopes and Dreams for the Future, Written Tales, Poets Unlimited and The Haven. He writes regularly on Medium and runs a bi-weekly comic strip called The Adult Manual. He also tweets infrequently at  @Sab_Bakwaas_Hai)

Bad news first – Large Short Films continues  to be moronic and is still peddling Chaitanya Tamhane’s name in all their communication, even in their medianet promotions.

And the good news – Somnath Pal’s gorgeous looking animated short is out. It’s beautifully evocative. Do watch it. Also, the posters are so striking, we are sharing all of them here.

And here’s the short

This is bizarre. And it just doesn’t seem to end. So we are forced to write this post.

Hey Large Short Films, you awake? You drunk? You know the role of director in making a film? And how different it is from being a producer? You know what Somnath Pal has done?

Why is Chaitanya Tamhane’s name being peddled everywhere for Somntha Pal’s film Death Of A Father. First, it happened during Mumbai Film Festival. The communication was so deceptive, everyone thought that Chaitanya has directed a new short film. Nobody knew about Somnath. His name wasn’t mentioned anywhere.

Even Varun Grover, who was moderating the Q and A panel for the shorts, had no clue till he was there.

We understand that you want to cash in on Chaitanya’s name, and it’s great that he is supporting other talented filmmakers. But how about we get the basics right. We don’t know what Somnath and Chaitanya feel about it, and how they are allowing it to happen, but this is atrocious.

Even the trailer that they have put it now, the description has Chaitanya’s name, and no mention of director. In the trailer, the credit has producer’s name first, and then comes director’s name. If it was some well know director, i wonder if they would have the guts to do something similar. Just because he is a new director, one can get away with anything.

WTF! And WHYTF! Anyone has a valid explanation?

Here’s the trailer