I'm a Goan woman, working in Mumbai as the founder of a studio called Totem Creative. I try to make the world happier, safer and more meaningful. I believe education, knowledge and awareness, art, writing and creating Social Impact are my means to achieve that end.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

In the land of women Review

22nd June 2014


 This movie is one of the most underrated films if IMDB's got to give it a 6.6. The only disappointing thing about this movie is the title and the poster. The people who rated this film obviously read the misleading sysnopsis and saw the misleading poster, expected some amount of explicitness and got disappointed.

This film is more than about getting over somebody. It's about how you should treat people, how people should treat you. Carter, the lead character moves in with his gradmother. Being a writer he has a thirst for new stories and characters with depth. He percieves things differently from others and doesn't care to express his opinion if asked for one.

The film has such subtle beauty in it, and such full characters that you actually live as someone else for a while. I aspire to make a film like this one someday. Hats off to Jon Kasdan for writing such lovely people.
I'd give it a 9/10.

Friday, May 9, 2014

I guess it's life

8th May 2013

As Aakash and I rode to the theatre, we chatted about work and our personal growth. “Man, I spend about 8 hours on it. I don’t even know when it’s a weekend. I thought today was Saturday.” 

“That’s it? I easily spend 10 hours on work everyday” he said.

“Well, I wouldn’t mind, it’s just that it’s a different pipeline, we’re going from pixel to vector based work, and I have to learn new softwares that I find so time consuming to learn and get accustomed to. Sometimes I feel like I’m that old senior in the studio who has a bunch of good skill sets, but the newbies have learnt to do the same thing in an hour’s time instead – and you do it great alright, but you’re slower. You could learn to use the new software by letting go of your comfort zone, but you’re too old now. I used to be that way, but I’m learning how to let go and shake my ground. It’s too early for me not to learn different methods and mediums.” I said.

“Exactly. I’ve been completely shaking my ground these last 6 months. In no way am I in my comfort zone, and I’ve learned SO MUCH.”

“That’s great Aakash.” We reached the theatre in good time, and Sid and Ap reached just when we did. We dubiously got our 3D glasses and went for The Amazing Spiderman II, a long awaited film on my list.

The film was EPIC, and the 3D was just SO GREAT. It was such a crisp and beautiful print, the cinematography was great, the colours, the production design, the action sequences, everything was spot on. I loved it through and through, and I was so upset when it got over. A major appealing character’s death got me sulking for an hour after the show. We grabbed dinner at a great new place in Pato called Route 66 – it was like a Diner. It’s a smoke house and grill bar with some great steaks and burgers. We talked about our usual nonsense (which btw is selective humour that only we understand and enjoy) and briefly about our work; and soon came the food. It was so good.

“Man, what am I doing with my life”, said Sid after finishing the last bites of his meat roll sandwich.
My friend Sid is a pastry and desert chef who owns a pretty big and well known cakeshop chain in Goa. It has some really great stuff, and you wouldn’t think for a second that the guys who’d make such delicious stuff would ever be jealous of the way someone else cooks.

Sid was probably not jealous and was probably thinking about something else all together, but it sure got me thinking. I thought I was the only one comparing my work with the stuff that inspires me. It’s not that we seek to be better or greater than other people doing what we do, it’s just that we want to learn so much and give similar experiences to people that we get from the great artists in our fields. We talked of Darren’s music and how great it was. Just today, a great music critc critiqued and promoted his music, and we’re so happy for him. Music, art, food, dance, theatre, film and sports are not conventional professions in a country like India. You’d have to be pretty darn sincere to achieve success in any of these professions.

I had this dream since I was a child that I’d make an animated film someday. I did, and it was such a great experience and soon I had this thirst to know more, create fuller content. And I wanted to work with the people I worshipped, have a shot. So I gave my best and churned out what I thought was a decent portfolio in 2 months and sent it to 2 animation giants in the U.S. One hasn’t replied, I’m assuming I sucked or I was late in submission. A week ago, Bluesky sent me a polite rejection letter that I very much anticipated. I didn’t think I’d get in because they take about 3 international applicants, but still – I had this tiny hope that I’d get in. The day I received the letter, I was blank, and I informed my parents. The next day it hit me, and I suffered a huge heartbreak. Unlike myself, I sat alone on my beanbag by the veranda and stared at the sky for an hour, my eyes wetting my cheeks; I was drained of emotion. I was so disappointed with myself, and I asked myself why I was disappointed. I tried hard, and I know my work is alright, but it was really saddening to think over it. When I see good work, I ask myself, “What am I doing with my life?” like Sid. 

View from the veranda
Truth be told, we’re all doing some really bold daring things. We are constantly making hard decisions and dealing with our difficult preferences and desires. We’re struggling, falling, pushing ourselves to get up and fight. ‘Should I study abroad? Should I move to Mumbai, should I work with that Indian studio, should I freelance? Should I settle down? Do I think about marriage? Do I think about stability? Should I just do what I love?’ I spoke to Lux today, and she said she got her Bluesky rejection too. I asked if she was okay and she said she got over it in 10 minutes. I felt so glad, not because there was someone with me, but because she didn’t let it get to her. I admire her in that way, and even in her sincerity and discipline with her work.

We’re all constantly fighting and making difficult decisions. We think about survival money, education, employment, job satisfaction, relationships, but most of all, keeping our integrity and being the same light hearted funny jovial individuals that spread kindness and chivalry.

Our problems are less about faculties, classmates and our marksheets. I would say, we’re finally becoming adults, but we’re still the same children. We will deal with everything with grace; and I could not hope for more.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dallas Buyers Club Review

6th April 2014

So I was downloading the Oscars about a month back, contemplating whether I should allocate all my bandwidth to it, since I was disappointed with Oscars 2013. Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey won best actor over a lot of really good nominees for Dallas Buyer’s Club. And then I knew – I HAD to see it.

I had no idea what it was gonna be about. TDBC is about Ron Woodroof, an AIDS patient fighting the disease and helping others fight it by using non-approved FDA drugs smuggled in from Mexico and eventually fighting a case against the FDA for making no difference in the lives of AIDS patients.

I am just floored by Jared Leto’s performance, who plays a Rayon, transgender woman suffering AIDS. There are some really moving scenes which made me feel so much for the character that I was heavy hearted for the rest of the film. Matthew McConaughey has seriously outdone himself and absolutely deserves that Oscar. His acting is so convincing and heart wrenching – and the writing of the film is SO GOOD. His character goes through a huge arc of a rodeo drug abusing selfish womanizer to a person who really wants to bring change in the lives of others and lives selflessly.

Jennifer Garner, who plays Eve, one of the doctors has also acted tremendously well, and I would also want to take my hat off and kiss the feet of the cinematographer Yves BĂ©langer. The shots, the compositions and the clever staging he has used is just gorgeous to look at.

There's a hospital scene where Rayon's friend admits her,

and he and Eve walk out the door (which is seen in the reflection of the glass). It leads the eyes so well.
I couldn’t resist taking some screenshots for painting reference while watching the film (even though it affected my viewing).

Jared Leto - Rayon

Matthew McConaughey - Ron

Jennifer Garner - Eve

 [SPOILERS AHEAD] Even the editing was brilliant. There were about 25 minutes towards the end which were cut SO WELL; it was rapid cutting between Ron’s scenes and Rayon’s scenes to increase the tension in the storyline since it is after these scenes (and Rayon’s death) that brings about a sudden anger and determination in Ron’s behaviour. 

And finally the director, who obviously did so well to put it all together. It was one of those films which leave me feeling heavy and light, and I felt like it was the best 2 hours spent in the day. I feel a gush of emotion, respect and awe at the sheer amount of work all these wonderful people must have put into this film. I watched the credits end, listened to the flawless OST, clapped and sent a quiet flying kiss to the screen. 

Thank-god I allocated some bandwidth to downloading the Oscars. ;)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Coconut Seller

9th November 2013

      I approached the coconut seller and asked, "how much for one?"
"30 for malai wala and 25 for paani wala"
"Patli malai wale ke liye kitna?"
"30 memsaab", he said.
       I asked for one with the thin malai. It was delicious. The first sip from the straw, and images of coconut trees and paddy fields flashed in my mind. Narrow roads and clear skies, palms swaying in the breeze - it cut back to the straw. The water was over. I looked inside the coconut, hoping for more water.

"Kahan se laate ho aap?" I asked.
"Mysore se. Yaha toh koi nikaalta nahin hai pedh se. Pakh jaate hain." he said.
"Aur aap kaha se ho?"
"Main Allahabad se" he said, smiling.
"Itni door se? Poori family yaha hai?"
"Haan ji. Ek flat tha, lekin usme jagaha nahin thi, toh hum bhaade pe reh rahe hain." he said, "aap kaha se ho?"
"Main Goa se hoon" I said. He smiled. "Toh aap bhi kitne door se ho!"
I chucked. "Allahabad jitni doori nahin hai" I smiled - "main yaha chaar saal padhi thi, ab job Nahik mein kar rahi hoon."

       He told me how his rent was ₹2000, and this was his only business. I contributed to his monthly salary by ₹30, and I felt like giving him some more. We spoke of the dangerously expensive economy. Me and my unbranded clothes, and my cheap shoes - I was so glad I wasn't wearing anything expensive. Of-course he was a mature man, but he probably would have judged that I came from a rich background had I had Levis written on my butt pocket.
       I've always been money-concious, its a trait that comes from my father. My friends often tell me to 'let go' and enjoy myself - but I consider my risky career decision of practicing art in India - and I never want to get used to an expensive lifestyle. Being a person who is so fond of design, good clothing and everything beautiful, I hestitate.
       As I listened to his narration of his wife, his two sons with all their demands. "I wish I had a daughter. It would have been nice. They are more mature and smart." he said. I was surprised by his open mindedness. He talked about their education which is ₹500 a month, I thought of how expensive it must all be. During my time, my ICSE education was ₹1000 per month. "It's expensive na?" I asked him.
"Is it?" he said, looking at me questioningly. I should have said no. It's education.
"Yes, considering mine was about the same."
       He spoke of how content he is with his job, "and if it's not enough to pay the rent, we'll see then." he said. "Aapki soch bahut achchi hain" I said.
       He had gentle brown eyes.He had a modest blue shirt, and he took my coconut and put it in his recycling bag. "Thank-you madam." he said, smiling. "Milte hain" I said.
We smiled and I was off. I thought about the donuts or the coffees I would have enjoyed for over ₹30. They are wonderful too, but this coconut was healthy - and when I drank the water, I thought of home - and for a few seconds, I was there. Those ₹30 for that experience would pay his rent and give his sons an education. I was so happy. He was happy, and the world has so much to learn from such beautiful individuals.
       I think of what I'm doing now. Am I happy? Why did I choose art? There are so many reasons. I want people to be human. I want them to feel pain, joy, anger - I want to change the growing insensitivity in the world. I wonder if any of that matters sometimes. Maybe I'd be happier selling coconuts.