Month: January 2007

Memories

The paragraph which sent him back searching for his school time memories read like that:

..The advent of the monsoon was exciting- and it was always like this with the first big storm, even in his earliest memories back at a time when the torrential rain concided with the new school year, new books, new friends…

As he tried to dig out his memories few faces and moments came up. But no swirl of excitement came up; there was not even a hint of joy. He searched more. Then more. Then even more. But it all looked as anything would have looked at someone’s last moments-moving but not meaning anything.

‘Friends. Yeah, friends,’ he thought. As he searched again few events, few days, few other things came up. But nothing rally flowed. Nothing had that pleasure, that desire, that excitement that comes after stumbling over something precious.
He thought of the endless discussions, those pranks, those jokes, that innocence, that inquisitiveness, those smiles, everything he could muster up.

Why isn’t it that appealing now?
May be because he was still in touch with them or actually was some time back. Maybe cos he can be like that with them even now. Only that he doesn’t remember where their phone numbers and addresses are. Only that he knew where they were but just someday stopped bothering.
Could that be the reason?
But they also didn’t called.
Maybe they have changed. Or maybe not Or may be he has.
But they if they haven’t changed will they be excited on stumbling upon his memories.
No, he thought.
Nah, he pressed.

Then he whizzed through his other memories. That childhood trip to Disney land, that cricket trophy, those night outs, that first love, that first bike, and god knows what. He almost conjured up every thing to anything that could mean anything to him in his life.
Still nothing.
He now started digging up bad memories.
He remembered the loss of his best friend while still in school, who left him and the world at the same time. How he had not eaten for two weeks after that and then refused to go to that same school.
Suddenly another memory from college sprang up but it vanished as quickly it had sprung.
Damn! Two seconds for such a best friend, he thought as a wave of surprise and amusement hit him.
Now he thought of anything to everything.
But somehow it all looked same just as earlier. Every memory had that same banal quality to it. Nothing seemed instigating but somehow he was now beginning to enjoying it.
“Wow! Indiscrimination at its best,” he chuckled.
Amused he returned to his book.

….new friends, sloshing in new raincoats through flooded streets of floating bottle caps, empty cigarettes packets, broken branches, pepsi cans[…] that ever present hope that it would rain so hard that school would be canceled…

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The Cranes are flying

The Cranes are flying is a story about shattered love, told against the backdrop of World War II. The story centers around Veronica, a chubby, vivacious and lively girl, who is living happily, rejoicing as she’s about to get married to Boris, her lover. She is far away from worry and trouble when everything is going wrong in the world around.
But just a day before her b’day comes the news that Boris has been called for the war after he volunteered for the front.

Yeah, we all know what would have happened later. She will wait, sob and keep on hoping for his love to return. Even when someone will carry the news that Boris had died but she won’t believe and will still wait for the war to get over and Boris to return. In between the world without understanding her love and despair will force itself on her. She will get along with Life but her heart will still keep on getting the burnt of the battle fields.
It could have been any other war movie but what make it stand apart are some brilliant performances and some amazing cinematography rendering good deal of expressive realism. There are few scenes that just leave you spellbound with their elegance and heightened melodrama.

There’s a scene where Boris is hit in the battle field. A shriek comes out of his mouth as he looks above, towards the crane less sky, across the naked trees. Then we see him running up a circular staircase. The sky and the trees also start rotating in the same direction i.e. along his spiral ascends. Both frames move as if each is trying to outrun each other. The crane less sky and the naked trees symbolizing the war and Boris’s run a common man’s struggle for peace and love. As Boris reaches the top where he sees his love as the sky and the trees vanish. He sees his love Veronica getting married to him. She’s in her white wedding gown, that very gown which she pointed in the beginning of the story showing her grandma’s marriage photograph. She’s smiling and laughing. Then they both kiss each other. Then suddenly we are transported back the battle field. Boris falls with his eyes still glued towards the sky, but there is no life in them. And then he utters his last words. The words come as if they were not his or somebody else spoke them as none of his expression or his eyes gave any hint of flinching.

There’s also a scene where Boris is going to the war. Veronica arrives at his house to bid him goodbye but to her bad luck he has already left. Then she rushes to the place where all the soldiers were supposed to assemble. There is Boris behind the gates, waiting for her and searching through the faces of the visitors. She wanders here and there in the crowd assembled but any glimpse of Boris eludes her. Then the soldiers start marching with people crowding the road on both the sides. Veronica pushes and across the crowd still clutching her goodbye gift that she has brought for Boris. Struggling to move ahead she catches a glimpse of Boris marching ahead. She shouts his name but to no success. She jumps and pushes. She shouts again and then in a desperate attempt she throws her gift towards the soldiers hoping to get Boris’s to notice her. But her attempt fails and her gift falls on the road, between the marching soldiers, spilling all its contents. And what could have been her last memento to Boris gets crushed under the marching feet of the war.

Not only are these but there many other great cinematic moments. Kalatozov and Urusevsky are regarded as one of cinema’s great director/cinematographer pairings with few more great movies like The Letter That Wasn’t Sent and I am Cuba to their credit.
Here’s a link that does much more justice to the movie and also provides some historical background.