Archive for the tag “Pallavi Paul”

Vidrohi, A Ghost of Julius Caesar: Pallavi Paul

To speak about a dead man, is  a peculiar thing . Even more so when he happens to be a poet. And not just a poet but an infamous one .  But I am still going to try. In doing this there are many instincts that I have tried to confront. His several and often violent outbursts, the many conjectures about his relationship with his family, his ill concealed need for attention, the useful anger of some of his poems (for it is mostly an insult for an artist to be overtly useful to some), the presence of only mothers and sisters and not of fallen, promiscuous women in his world – are perhaps enough to cut him to size. To cull from his memory every iota of nostalgia, tenderness or empathy.Or worse – make every obituary of him into a defense. I do not wish to defend Vidrohi, because defending the dead is an unadventurous thing. The dangerous and the disruptive have to be recast in retrospect- to fit into the respectability of death. @Author

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Ramashankar Yadav ‘Vidrohi’

Vidrohi: A Ghost of Julius Caesar

By Pallavi Paul

Not all of Vidrohi’spoems may have been equally wonderful, his personal life may not have been an illustration of his political beliefs, he may have had  an uncritical relationship to a political moment – but one thing is for certain. Vidrohi was never tied to respectability. Infact he was never going to die. In my conversations with him, Vidrohi had often spoken about his death. We had revisited the scenario over and over again. Like a dream or a film – it had a grand setting. He had told us “Now that you are recording me, I  know that I will say goodbye in the most glorious way possible. Very few people can say that about their death, while they are still alive.” On another day he had said to us, “As my fame has increased, so have the dangers. Now what I  need is guarantee. Your records are guarantee against that largest threat of being killed. I say to my enemies, that if you want to kill me – then shoot me in the eyes. Because I  will keep staring back at you till my last breath. Your records will help me stare back at them even after I am gone.” In his imagination Vidrohi was not just going to die, he would have to be killed, so the news of his death seemed a bit strange.

I would also use the word strange for the way he and I got to know each other. While now I call myself a filmmaker with some confidence in public settings, in 2012 this was not the case. I was not really a bonafide ‘political artist’, deserving of any attention from a poet like Vidrohi who by his own admission had risen to status of the Ghost of Julius Caesar. Added to this, my first meeting with him was disastrous. The meeting time was decided for  2pm on a Monday in the winter of 2011 on JNU Campus. This was in the midst of a crisis in my M.Phil. dissertation – so it almost escaped my mind. I finally made it an hour late to see Vidrohi waiting on a bench outside Brahmaputra hostel. As he saw me approaching, his face tightened and he said, I normally never wait for people. Of course many months later in another moment he went on to tell me – record hone ki itna ichchha hai ki agar koi aadhi raat ko ped par tang ke bhi record karna chahe to ham uske saath chal dete hain. Bas ek shart hai ki wah apni line ka hi aadmi ho na ki kisi vipreet line ka.   Already nervous for being an hour late without any good reason, as I set up the shot and started recording him talking about his poem “Nani”, I was horrified to see that the camera was dying. Behind the lens, as I struggled to look composed while feeling for a spare battery in my bag- Vidrohi stopped. He paused for a bit and went on say – Tum late aayin, phir camera bhit heek se tyaar kar ke nahi layin – yeh sahi nahi hai, lekin hum artist log aise hi hote hain. Agar ek afsar ki tarah sab time to time karne lage, to hum mein aur usmein farak kya reh jayega. Agli baar jab poori tayaari ho to mujhe bataa dena, main mil jaunga”   This was in some ways my first education in how an artist should be dealt with. How belief and conviction in artistic work can be held irrespective of their flawed performance on the scale of the norms of sociability.

Of course I was to realize that vidrohi was going to far exceed to me in that department, because for every other date after that I waited and waited and waited for him to turn up and was never once allowed to complain about it.

Like Alok Dhanwa ( another infamous poet says in one of his poems

Titled Chowk

उन स्त्रियों का वैभव मेरे साथ रहा

जिन्‍होंने मुझे चौक पार करना सिखाया।

मेरे मोहल्‍ले की थीं वे
हर सुबह काम पर जाती थीं
मेरा स्‍कूल उनके रास्‍ते में पड़ता था
माँ मुझे उनके हवाले कर देती थीं
छुट्टी होने पर मैं उनका इन्‍तज़ार करता था
उन्‍होंने मुझे इन्‍तज़ार करना सिखाया

Vidrohi ne mujhe intezaar karna sikhaaya. Lekin ek baat jo hemeshaa se hamaare beech mein spasht thi ki yehi ntezaar Vidrohi ka nahit ha, balki ek kavita ka tha. Aur kavitaaon ki manmaani sehna aur unka intezaar karna seekhna behad zaroori hai.

Vidrohi taught me another thing without knowing it of course  – to be wary of false humility. To get caught in the web of appearing self effacing while hanging onto the egotistical conception of artist. The biggest danger of this is that the poet has to forfeit the possibility of being a magician. What a drab insufferable thing a humble magician would be. To help strike a reasonable balance between a self obsessed delusional (often male) artist and a playful magician –I turn to Eduardo Galeano who in his book Days and Night of Love and War says –

I don’t share the attitude of those writers who claim for themselves divine privileges not grated to ordinary mortals, Nor of those who beat their breasts as they clamor for public pardon for having lived a life devoted to serving a useless vocation. Neither so godly and nor so contemptible. Literature as a form of action is not invested with supernatural powers, but the write may become something of a magician, if he or she procures through a literary work, the survival of significant experiences or individuals.   

 Vidrohionce told me about how was forcibly made in to a magician. Born left handed he said “ Maar maar ke seedhe haath se salaam karna sikhaaya gaya, maar maar ke seedhe haath se khaana sikhaaya gaya, maar maar ke seedhe haath se likhna sikhaaya gaya. Iska ek fayda hua. Ab ham saare kaam dono haath se karne lage, yeh ek tarah ka jaadoo tha.”

What made our friendship interesting was that  as time went by the film I was making about him started to morph into films that were going to feature him but weren’t going to be about him. He became a kind of link between other poets from other epochs.  In a book titled after Lorca , poet Jack Spicer writes  letters to Garcia Lorca, nearly twenty years after Lorca’s passing. The letters written the fashion of urgent impassioned enquires, became a site for me to see whether the images from Vidrohi’s world could help Lorca write back to Jack. When I broke this to Vidrohi – he seemed only momentarily disappointed. But soon took it as challenge to wrestle with two dead poets for film time. He said “Chaloismeinekbaat to sahihaiki tum mujhe Lorca kishrenimeindekhrahi ho, magardekhna jab film ban jayegi to sab vidrohikikavitako hi pehchanenge”

Interestingly the introduction of this around which the films were coming to be structured  book was  written by the  Dead Lorca.

He says –

When Mr. Spicer began sending letters to me a few

months ago, I recognized immediately the “ programmatic letter” – the letter one poet

writes to another not in any effort to communicate with him, but rather as a young man

whispers his secrets to a scarecrow, knowing that his young lady is in the distance

listening. The young lady in this case may be a Muse, but the scarecrow nevertheless

quite naturally resents the confidences.

In my encounters with Vidrohi I was very much the scarecrow that Lorca feels Spicer  makes him out to be, the one who is not the object of communication but merely a conduit. So in some ways the films I made with Vidrohi can be thought of as a story of two over smart people using one another as conduits- while trying to  justify their actions as art.

The last time I  metVidrohiji was almost two years back. He had called me from someone’s phone at JNU. and asked me to come and see him. I hadpromised  that I would , but couldn’t  make it. He did not remind me. A week after the day we were supposed to meet I went looking for him, I couldn’t find him. Someone told me that they had seen Vidrohiji leaving the campus some time ago. I couldn’t call any number to tell him that I had come. Our meeting was deferred, but i didn’t know for how long.

Always surrounded by students, comrades and opponents, he probably would have not even thought of me in his last moments. I will, however,  always regret that i was in another city, unable to bid farewell, unable to see him shout slogans at his last protest march, unable to see him shine with pride as students would implore him to say one of his poems. “Vidrohiji please, the one about your grandmother in Mohenjodaro. The one where you speak about yourself as a bomb, the one about the barricade.” He would always take those opportunities and speak of them as gifts.

Today as I try and make sense of his absence, I am happy that he circulates all around us in all kinds of records. He desire to stare back into the eyes of those who try and silence voices of dissent, stays alive in those records. I am happy that his prophecy about his death being glorious and not going unnoticed has come true.  As I think about his passing repeatedly, I break into a smile thinking that his ambition in death was to become the “left handed  ghost of Julius Caesar” . Finally, what I am happy about is that he will never die again.

Lal Salaam Vidhrohiji

I will miss you.

Pallavi Paul is a film researcher and video artist based out of New Delhi. A graduate of AJK MCRC, New Delhi. she is currently a PhD student at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU

Lal Salaam Vidhrohiji : Pallavi Paul

A tribute to Vidrohi

By Pallavi Paul

Yesterday, as i was looking out a window of an old house in Ballygunge, Kolkata- my phone buzzed. I ignored it.  I was in the middle of telling a friend how happy i was to be away from Delhi for sometime. How the sights and smells of a different city were rejuvenating. The feeling of not having a ‘special connection’ with anyone or anything here felt liberating.

Much later, i opened the message from my friend Uday. ‘Vidrohiji passed away’, he wrote. Just three words.  In our conversations with him, Vidrohiji had often spoken about his death. We had revisited the scenario over and over again. Like a dream or a film – it had a grand setting. He had told us “Now that you are recording me, i know that i will say goodbye in the most glorious way possible. Very few people can say that about their death, while they are still alive.” On another day he had said to us, “As my fame has increased, so have the dangers. Now what i need is guarantee. Your records are guarantee against that largest threat of being killed. I say to my enemies, that if you want to kill me – then shoot me in the eyes. Because i will keep staring back at you till my last breath. Your records will help me stare back at them even after i am gone.”
In his imagination, Vidrohiji was never going to just die. He would have to be killed. So, Uday’s short message seemed anti-climactic. Unable to attribute the prosaicness of death to him i called Uday. Almost as if sharing our confusion would make the absurdity seem manageable. As the phone rang on the other end, i thought to myself that Vidrohiji would have been delighted seeing me like this . Almost like a little child he would have revelled in my concern. To him, each instance of people fussing over him or wanting to take care of him was a victory of the resistance. “My friends are from all ages and all parts of the world”, he would say. “And the Vidrohi that they love is far more beautiful than this Vidrohi. Their Vidrohi keeps challenging me day and night. He grows more beautiful with each slogan, each poem, each public meeting, each demonstration and each prison term. As he accrues more and more comrades I look on,  trying to catch up.”

Ramashankar Yadav 'Vidrohi'

Ramashankar Yadav ‘Vidrohi’

The beauty of the other Vidrohi dawned on me this morning as i woke upto several people ‘s Facebook messages, some blogposts and even a newspaper report. Along with it also came the realisation that i had no special claim on him. He was everybody’s. Between the years 2012-2014, i met him almost every week. Most days i would film him. Hear him and  watch him with greed. I wanted to remember every word, every gesture, every conversation. I knew every line on his face, the shape of his fingers, his gurgling laughter, his frail frame, his fiery but failing eyes, his smoker’s cough, his unwashed clothes, his silver hair, his anger, his crumbling teeth. In his poetry however there was nobody as courageous, loving, handsome and desirable as him. He wasn’t a poet of despair, but of pride and fire.
During our time together he spoke about his childhood in Sultanpur, his love for his grandmother, his encounter with radical left politics, JNU, the emergency, his marriage. One day as i was recording him talking about his fear of being forgotten, the battery of my camera ran out. That was the first day i saw Vidrohiji feel angry with me. Irritated by me telling him to stop- he said, “when you had asked me to meet you today should you have not done anything to make sure you had a backup for your battery.” Even as i was finding a way to both apologise to him and  explain that i had just one battery, he added, “but experimental people like us are like this only. I prefer working with people like you that than  hi-fi professionals. Because they are scared to break away from conventions. To you people convention doesn’t matter much, so you make mistakes.”
The last time i met Vidrohiji was almost a year back.Some months ago he had called me from someone’s phone at JNU. and asked me to come and see him. I had promised  that i would , but couldn’t  make it. He did not remind me. A week after the day we were supposed to meet i went looking for him, i couldn’t find him. Someone told me that they had seen Vidrohiji leaving the campus some time ago. I couldn’t call any number to tell him that i had come. Our meeting was deferred, but i didn’t know for how long.
 Always surrounded by students, comrades and opponents, he probably would have not even thought of me in his last moments. I will, however,  always regret that i was in another city, unable to bid farewell, unable to see him shout slogans at his last protest march, unable to see him shine with pride as students would implore him to say one of his poems. “Vidrohiji please, the one about your grandmother in Mohenjodaro. The one where you speak about yourself as a bomb, the one about the barricade.” He would always take those opportunities and speak of them as gifts.
Today as i try and make sense of his absence, i am happy that he circulates all around us in all kinds of records. He desire to stare back into the eyes of those who try and silence voices of dissent, stays alive in those records. I am happy that his prophecy about his death being glorious and not going unnoticed has come true.  As i think about his passing repeatedly, i break into a smile thinking that his ambition in death was to become the “left handed  ghost of Julius Ceaser” . Finally, what i am happy about is that he will never die again.
Lal Salaam Vidhrohiji
I will miss you.

New Harvest, A Film By Pallavi Paul: Uday Shankar


 

By  Uday Shankar

Craft is a divine and natural art. A craftsman is not artistic in himself; artistic feat which has been accumulated through talent and practice. To be human is not necessarily to be a craftsman. A sparrow building its nest, creation of bobby by ants and a spider weaving its web are examples of craft. We can become ‘Spiderman’, but not spider itself. This is what is- ‘being human’. We can imitate the action of spider, we can rather think about the process of weaving. This thinking constitutes our art. The knowledge of generations is inherent in us. For whatever art has been accumulated throughout generations, one doesn’t have any sense of greed or personal attachment towards it. Until today, anyone has hardly ever heard a smith proclaiming that a vessel is not saleable; or same for the weaver about a cloth, a goldsmith about ornaments. For them, these constitute their daily bread.

Today, whosoever is not even a tiller of land, he proclaims to have sown seeds in the sky. But even if there can be no fruits in sky or God on land, a poem can come alive and reinforce itself. This poem has the power to bear fruits in sky and God on land. It is like the hope of a technician who breathes to see a night convert to a day. Do modern dreams have creativity? We know to live in the natural rhythm of night and day; we want the moon in night and the sun in day. Why do we let our sight vanish in the shimmering nylon lights of night which dance in an artificial carnal climax and the clear bright lights of the day ?! The absence of creativity in dreams has extended itself in our material lives. We want to fill the rampant absence of creativity with trickery of sorcerers and incorrigible patters of the demented. Some season creates the feeling of conviviality and is universal. But thanks to the prevailing impotent technicians, we have lost that ability of experiencing it. May it be winter or summer, we are beyond guillotining ourselves in tepid waters. We are alive only through our recollections in which we have no formative contribution. Far from adding to them, we are unable to appreciate them. We are engrossed in vile masturbations. That part of life prone to disappearance is craft which has been bequeathed. To define this craft is the study of our art life for which we are absolutely incapable. What will be left of us if what is bequeathed in the form of craft of life is sundered? Will the craft sustain the essence of art and poetry? Can we rescue that indomitable bird that can’t help but be fraught with creativeness?

          The End

Film- Nayi Kheti(New Harwest)
Dirctor- Pallavi Paul
Text- Uday Shankar
English Translation-  Nivedita Yashvant Fadnis 

FromFilm, courtesy-Pallavi Paul

FromFilm, courtesy-Pallavi Paul

नयी खेती (फिल्म)- पल्लवी पॉल

क्राफ्ट दैवीय होता है, नैसर्गिक होता है। क्राफ्ट्समैन कोई ‘हुनरमंद’ आदमी नहीं होता है, ‘हुनर’ जिसे प्रतिभा और अभ्यास से अर्जित किया जाता है। मनुष्य होने की खासियत क्राफ्ट्समैन होना नहीं है। चिड़िया का अपना घोंसला बनाना, चींटियों द्वारा बाँबियों का निर्माण करना या फिर मकड़ी का जाला बुनना, यह सब क्राफ्ट्स के उदहारण हैं। हम स्पाइडर मैन ही बन सकते हैं, स्पाइडर नहीं और यही मनुष्य होना है। हम स्पाइडर की नक़ल उतार सकते हैं, उसके बारे में सोच सकते हैं और यह हमारी कला है, आर्ट है। पीढ़ियों का अभ्यास आपमें अनायास शामिल है। पीढ़ियों के अभ्यास से जो हुनुर आपने ‘अर्जित’  किया है, उसके लिए आपके भीतर कोई लोभ, व्यक्तिगत लगाव नहीं होता है। आज तक शायद ही किसी कुम्हार से यह कहते सुना गया कि यह घड़ा बिकाऊ नहीं है, किसी बुनकर से चादर, सोनार से गहने। यह उनलोगों की रोजी-रोटी का स्वाभाविक धंधा है।

आज की तारीख में जो कहीं से किसान नहीं है कह रहा है कि वह आसमान में धान बो रहा है। लेकिन आसमान में धान या जमीन पर भगवान्  भले नहीं जमें, कविता जरुर उग और जम सकती है और इसी कविता में यह शक्ति भी है कि आसमान में धान और जमीन में भगवान्  दोनों उगवा सकती है। यह उसी तरह है जैसे किसी तकनीशियन का एक पुराना सपना था कि रात दिन हो जाए! क्या आधुनिक सपने रचनात्मकता से रहित हैं!! हम रात और दिन की स्वाभाविक लय में जीना चाहते हैं, हमें रात में चाँद ही चाहिए और दिन में सूर्य। रातों को जगमगाती और कृत्रिम कामोन्माद में थिरकतीं नाइलोन की लाइटों और दिन के  ‘सफ्फाक उजाले’ की समानता को हम अपनी समझदार आँखों से क्यों ओझल हो जाने देते हैं! सपनों में रचनात्मकता का अभाव व्यावहारिक जिंदगियों तक में फ़ैल गया है। खुद की व्यावहारिक जिंदगियों में व्याप्त रचनात्मक अभावों  को हम जादूगरी करामातों और पागलों की बड़बड़ाहट से भरना चाहते हैं। कभी कोई ऋतू एक खुशनुमा अहसास जगाती होगी और जो सार्वभौम भी होती होगी। लेकिन रचनात्मकता से हीन तकनीशियनों की बदौलत यह अहसास भी हमारी हथेलियों से फिसल गया है। अब सर्द क्या गर्म क्या, गुनगुने पानी में गिलोटिन निगलने के हम आदि हो चुके हैं। हम सिर्फ स्मृतियों के सहारे जिन्दा हैं, जिसमें हमारा कुछ भी साझा नहीं है। उसमें कुछ जोड़ना तो दूर,उसे  हम सराह भी नहीं पा रहे हैं क्योंकि हमारी हथेलियों पर सरसों उग आयीं हैं और हम अपने तैलीय हाथों से सिर्फ हस्तमैथुन करना जानते हैं। हमारी जिन्दगी का जो भी हिस्सा जीने लायक है वह एक क्राफ्ट है और वह भी पुरखों का दाय है। इसी क्राफ्ट को व्याख्यायित करना हमारे कला-संसार का अभ्यास है और हम इस मामले में भी खुद को अक्षम पाते हैं। जब पुरखों का दिया यह जीवन-शिल्प भी हमसे छीन जाएगा, क्या बचेगा? क्या क्राफ्ट की व्याख्या में रत हमारी कला, कविता बच पाएगी? क्या हम हारिल पक्षी की उस जीवटता को बचा ले जाएंगे, जो ग्रहण-अर्जन(और सर्जन भी ) की वृति से कभी बाज नहीं आता !!
इत्यलम !!!
फिल्म- नयी खेती (New Harvest) 
नीदेशक- पल्लवी पॉल 
पाठ (Text)- उदय शंकर 

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