Sunday, 30 July 2017

Lesson: Thoughts are Different From Feelings; Therapy, Mental Health

The session started with Ish asking me to read out the 'aftermath'. That's what she calls notes on how i felt during and after the previous session with her. I read out relevant portions from the note i'd written.

She told me that treatment for mental illnesses was available in all government hospitals by law and that it was affordable too. I don't know. I think Ish is really good at what she does and i am not too sure if the same kind of treatment will be available at affordable rates in hospitals. In Calicut, 7 years ago, a sitting with the psychologist cost Rs. 300. In Kolkata, it was Rs. 600. Here, it is Rs. 1500.

Ish told me that i was right about her questions regarding my suicide attempts. It was required of her to assess how close to death every attempt was. I forgot what she told me about the reason why.

She then told me that the rest of it were my thoughts and not my feelings. It was only then that it struck me that thoughts and feelings were different. Whenever i thought that someone i love very dearly was going to die, it was just my thought. What i was feeling, was perhaps anxiety. Don't know.

I tried jotting down how i was feeling before, during and after therapy like she had asked me to do.

Before going, i was eager. To know the methods of therapy. For the kind of questions she would ask. I was hopeful that i'd be able to figure myself out answering these questions.

She didn't ask me too many questions. Just asked me to speak about how i ended up in SRFTI. During the session, i felt it was all going to be pointless. That i would just end up repeating everything like how i had to, to reporters who called without doing their homework, to write about sexual harassment in SRFTI. When i looked back at myself when i was in college, where my filmmaking began, i felt sad. I remembered the abusive relationship i was in, before my first suicide attempt, deciding to make a film while in a bed in PVS hospital, Calicut. I didn't narrate these but i remembered all of that. I remembered how that man had come to the studio where i was editing my film and had pronounced that it wasn't a short film. 'You don't even know what it is called. It is a telefilm. Not a short film,' he had said. In the auto, he had asked me repeatedly if i wanted a bigger dick, if that was why i was sleeping with a lot of people behind his back. Ish noted that this man was paranoid. Yes, i said, in complete agreement.

When i was talking about how i hopped from one relationship to another, and when i mentioned a sexual interaction i had, she asked me if it was a one-time thing. I immediately thought that i was being judged. I was scared i would be judged and that the judgement would affect the way Ish looked at my case altogether. I felt like saying that i was not someone who even believed in a sex-only relationship or one-off things or having multiple sexual partners. All these would have to wait. It was all going back to the time when i was 17 and when everything started going wrong. I don't know how many sessions it's going to take for me to cover all of these.

After the session, the week that followed, wasn't that great. I was worried. Wanted to cry a lot many times but hardly did. When Sethuvamma whatsapped me about having ordered 'Ministry of Utmost Happiness' to me, i cried. Thinking of how much i have made her go through. I felt guilty most of the time i spoke to her. 

Sethuvamma gifted me this and i didn't thank her enough. Felt sad about that.

In office, i mingled more but was again scared that it would end up being like SRFTI. I knew that most of the people there were like folks in SRFTI. Only yesterday did a co-worker say that someone 'raped' a cake to say that he cut it in a haphazard manner. 'Gay jokes' are cracked, constantly. Boss's relationship with an employee is made fun of. So i am constantly scared, when i open up even a bit. That one day, i will say what i think and they will all turn against me. 

Felt helpless and anxious throughout the week. Thinking of filmmaking career. Anxiety about not getting a script or a story to write and not being able to do anything with the novel. Helplessness when i went to look for broadband connection and they said that they couldn't provide service in my flat. Helplessness when cigarette was being charged more by the shopkeepers. I tried calling consumer care and ITC. They didn't respond. As a result of this, when Sethuvamma called i couldn't sound happy. I felt bad that i didn't call her to say that i'd received the book. Victimising self. Felt that i was a victim when i tried to repair the laptop, spent Rs.1400 and came back to see that the problem persisted. I would have to go back there on Monday. Suspect swindling.  

It was lined with sadness, the whole week.

[Highlights on my feelings for me to read out when i go for therapy tomorrow.]

Monday, 24 July 2017

Help Vaishnavi Sundar Make a Film on Sexual Harassment at Workplace

Hi folks,

Vaishnavi Sundar and her all-woman team is trying to make a feature length documentary film about the nightmares of workplace sexual harassment. An important topic that has for so long been swept under the rug is finally materialising into a full-blown film, with emphasis on almost all the fields of work. (Corporate/unorganised sectors/freelancers/filmmakers/women of STEM/sportspersons & more)

But she won't be able to make the film without the help of the many donors, thanks to whom she has raised 27% of the needed funds so far. She is crowdfunding the project and any little that you can contribute would take her team one step closer to the making of this film. The amount doesn't matter as much as your intent. In the past many films have been made due to the sheer number of many small contributions - her own two films stand testimony to that. (

So please click on this link to contribute whatever you can. And please share the link to your friends and acquaintances outside too. Please help her finish this film. She has been working on this since December last year, and she has until the coming December to finish it. Support her. It is about time the elephant in the room gets addressed.


Help Vaishnavi Sundar make a film about sexual harassment at workplace

Trying to Live: Mental Illness and Cure

It is so difficult. I don't want to do or say anything on Facebook because i got a lot of friend requests after i attempted suicide. On the one hand there are people who say that I attempted suicide to invite attention to myself. On the other hand is me, trying to manage the attention and failing. Nobody seems to understand how horrible it feels. I can't share my stupid thoughts, the ones that make me laugh. I don't like posts anymore. I don't share them. I feel i am being observed, all the time. 'See what the girl who attempted suicide is doing.'

Here, in Bombay, in my building, on another floor live a couple who were my seniors in film school. A lot of film school seniors visit them. Most of them hated me when i was in SRFTI. I am scared that they'll see me laugh. I shudder. My smile or laughter stops midway. I stagger a bit. If they see me laugh, that would be enough for them to spread the word that i was making everything up. Some have been doing that already.

It's a good thing that modern medicine is here. We have anti-depressants. I am amazed at the power of these. Before, i would get crying spells. Everything seemed negative to me. My work, my relationship, my love - everything. Now i am positive about everything. A bit more than normal, i sometimes suspect. There is nothing in my life to feel happy about and yet i am never sad.

Today, 23rd July, 2017, i went to a psycho therapist. I was referred there by my psychiatrist. Yes, it's all going to start once again, blogging about my sessions with the shrink, being called 'mentally ill' and therefore not to be taken seriously. I still remember these words from a fellow student's complaint against me.

'Also the complainant Kunjila Mascillamani is mentally unfit. She has tried committing suicide, is under psychiatric treatment and is self destructive. She has written so herself in her blog posts. Yet her statements are being taken. And she is free to roam about. She is writing complaints and lodging FIRs on a daily basis. This shows how mentally unstable she is.'

So, the mentally unstable I went to my psycho therapist, Ish, to find some stability. I went with Vai Vow, with whom i now live in Bombay. When my psychiatrist referred me to Ish, i smiled a bit because the name was Bengali. I like anything and everything that reminds me of Kolkata. I also hoped she wouldn't be expensive. I am trying hard to save money because people told me that that's what one did when one had a job. That's not going to happen any time soon because the therapy is expensive.

The first session, usually longer than others to follow, cost me Rs. 2300. The sessions to come would cost me Rs. 1500 each. It is a huge amount for me. I got really worried when i heard the charges and am still in two minds if i should continue the treatment. More than that, i am deeply worried about the state in our country where treatment for problems like mine come at such a huge price. This ensures that only a certain class and to a large extent, caste of people get good treatment. I am a privileged one even though i am trying to make both ends meet. I can at least consider getting help. The majority in this country can't.

Workplace: why is medical help so expensive in this nation? For the work i do, i have been told by experienced people that i earn the best in the industry. Still, with visits to the psychiatrist and therapist, it would be difficult for me. 

When i spoke to Ish, i felt calm. There was no crying, like the last time. I recounted some of the episodes in my life surrounding suicide attempts and abuse. When i mentioned my attempts at life, Ish asked me when i had attempted it. At what time of the day. She asked me if i was alone in my house when i did it and also when my mother would have returned. These questions made me feel that she was trying to find out if my suicide attempts were genuine or just techniques to make people listen to me. 'Attention seeking,' as SRFTIans called it.

I told her that Kunju Thalona and I weren't speaking anymore. I told her that the reason was that i had told her that she was abusive. When i explained how she was abusive, i felt that Ish did not consider it abuse.

When she asked me what i sought from therapy, i drew a blank. I was expecting Ish to tell me what she was going to do with me. When she said that she was going to try and understand or make me understand why i had this long chain of abusive relationships, i was relieved. I felt grateful to her. A problem i had analyzed by myself over and over again. Found no answer except that i was addicted to abuse in some way and that i had to keep falling back to it. I had stashed it in a anteroom in my head. It did not need probing for now, i had told myself. This was only because my relationship with Vai Vow was not abusive. It was a miracle as far as my history was concerned.

But when i heard how much it was going to cost, i immediately fell back into self pity. Mind went back and forth several times. The thoughts kept recurring throughout the week. I sometimes felt like asking for an appointment at the earliest, excited about solving my problem with abuse. Then i would think of my dentist's appointment that never happens. About my middle class worries. How i wasn't even able to buy Vai Vow a new phone.

How did Sethuvamma manage money. I have no clue.

I might ask for the nearest appointment. But Rs. 1500 is around 16 cigarette packets.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Best of Saki

The Best of SakiThe Best of Saki by Saki
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Appachan had tried to make me read Saki. I just listened to some stories narrated by Appachan and never the author himself. This meant that i would know the answer to that question in all quizzes: 'What is Saki's real name' without having read a single story by him. Then in one of our English textbooks was the first story in this collection - 'The Open Window'. One thing that i learned reading Saki is that he did not want women to vote. He mocks the suffragette at least twice in this collection itself.
In 'The East Wing,' when fire breaks out:
'I suppose it is another case of suffragette militancy,' said the Canon. 'I'm in favour of women having the vote myself, even if, as some theologians assert, they have no soul. That, indeed, would furnish an additional argument for including them in the electorate, so that all sections of the community, the soulless and he souled, might be represented.'
Yeah right.
In 'The Open Window,' I felt that he should have omitted the last line of the story. 'Romance at short notice was her speciality'. I liked another story called 'The Dusk', in which a man gets conned. Saki is light reading.
In 'The East Wing', i liked this sentence.
'The house is on fire,' said the Canon, with the air of one who lends dignity to a fact by according it gracious recognition'
This is how upper caste people talk. Also men while mansplaining and in general.
Then in 'The Lumber Room' there is a boy who hides in the lumber room to piss his aunt off. 'It was probably the first time for twenty years that anyone had smiled in that lumber room.'
How sweet! The lumber room must have been so lonely, never seeing a smile for so many years.
I liked the last line in ‘The Philanthropist and the Happy Cat’, which is a story about a woman who wants to do charity. The cat is mentioned in the beginning and in the end like this,
‘But then he had killed his sparrow.’
In ‘The Image of the Lost Soul,’ the one in which a bird takes shelter under the image of the lost soul, there is a line which made me smile.
‘…the brighteyed bird would return, twitter a few sleepy notes,’
It must have been the first time in a long time that I heard twitter being used to mention what it means and not the site.
The phrase, ‘catch-as-catchcan’ or ‘catch-as-catch-can.’
In ‘The Interlopers,’ is again an ending which I liked. I don’t remember what the story was anymore and too lazy to turn the pages back and see. Anyway it’s these two men, who are stuck in a position from which they can’t move, waiting for help to come. It ends like this.
‘Who are they?’ asked Georg quickly, straining his eyes to see what the other would gladly not have seen.
A nice way of putting it in ‘Fate:’
‘For a few months he had been assistant editor and business manager of a paper devoted to fancy mice,…’
Ah, an idea for a picture series in ‘On Approval.’ Someone must have done it already.
‘His pictures always represented some well-known street or public place in London, fallen into decay and denuded of its human population, in the place of which there roamed a wild fauna, which, from its wealth of exotic species, must have originally escaped from zoological gardens and travelling beast shows. ‘Giraffes drinking at the fountain pools, Trafalgar Square,’ was one of the most notable and characteristic of his studies, while even more sensational was the gruesome picture of ‘vultures attacking dying camel in Upper Berkeley Street.’

The Best of Saki: Cover



I think the only reason why people have sex is for the cigarette after.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Being Stared At While Smoking In Bombay

Bombay, where i live now, is supposed to be the most important city in india. She was all praises for it. She wanted me to come here. I would've had to anyway. I just accepted the first offer which came my way. I needed a steady source of income. The job was in Bombay. She calls it Bombay and not Mumbai. So i do the same. I moved here.

It's time to break it to people. Bombay is not what it is believed to be. It is a far cry from 'progressive'. I face all kinds of discrimination here. Owing to my looks, clothes i wear, complexion, language, my South Indian identity and on one occasion, laughter.

Bombay doesn't make me want to blog like how Kolkata did. Whenever i tell people that i don't like this place they tell me that i will, eventually. Yes, it had happened in Kolkata. I had hated the place when i went there to give my interview at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute [SRFTI]. But it grew on me and made me a moth in its dusty, dull landscape of buildings and people.

With Bombay came depression, job, house, money but never love.

It's okay. Maybe i'll find it.

Came here to note down a fact. More number of people stare at me when i smoke in Bombay than in Kolkata. Once a man clicked my picture when i was smoking. When i smoke in the parking space in office, people gather in corridors to stare at me.

Much progressive. This.

'Commute': On my way to work, one day

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

What Sex Position Are You Good At by Heteronormative Facebook

Liked this quiz. I am getting to learn the names and methods of positions. Also, in my feed, all the women are posting these updates. This is when men try to 'protect' girls from Facebook by being their self proclaimed guardians. Girls are awesome. The position i liked the sound of is waterfall. No clue how this can be done by humans though. And yes, why you so heterosexual, Facebook!

'waterfall' by Facebook. Screenshot

SIGNS 2017 - Teaser

Saw the teaser for SIGNS film festival, 2017 and couldn't help but wonder why Malayalis are still stuck in film. Why this nostalgia when every move, every heartbeat, every voice of dissent in cinema are happening in digital. It's time we outgrew this nostalgia. I am not talking about the technical discussion of film/digital but about the political discussion centred around digital cinema. It is only because of the digital medium that most filmmakers like myself got to make films. Shouldn't a film festival keep that spirit in mind when they make their signature film?

Screenshot from the teaser

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Hickory Dickory Dock - Agatha Christie

Hickory Dickory DockHickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Bought it at Howrah station while waiting for the train back to Bombay, after a suicide attempt. Incapable of consuming anything deep or meaningful, chose a thriller. Used to read her as a child. Remembered how amused appachan was by this detective called Poirot. It was Appachan's theory that the best way to initiate a person to reading is by making the read thrillers. I kind of agree now. I started reading English literature with Famous Five and Secret Seven.

The book is like all thrillers. In Agatha Christie's style. It had some interesting portions though. For one, she describes how Porot considered his secretary as someone who would not have a family so much so that it was unsettling for him when she started speaking about her sister and her problem. Also how he considered her as someone who could not make mistakes etc.

The story also touches upon the subject of racism, which you usually don't see in thrillers.
The catching of the culprit wasn't that great. Maybe the next time i'm depressed and travelling i should by my all time favourite, Perry Mason mysteries.

View all my reviews

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Films, July, 2017, Bombay

  1. Neecha Nagar

    This film which was made 71 years ago got the Grand Prix at Cannes that year and I think it truly deserved it. The print I watched said that the version sent to Cannes had one song less and no dance sequences.  I  liked everything in the film and who the hell taught the filmmaker all that all those years ago?! Leaving a huge headspace in the scenes in which the residents of Neecha Nagar went to the rich man, building up the scene, portraying the rich man like a true capitalist, the use of abrupt cuts as a cinematic tool, all these. What display of craft! Need to see if the songs are available on youtube and cut and upload them if they are not. The fire torches assembling, the ape like sculpture in the rich man’s room which he resembles often, the painting in the  room which comes to life after the man loses. That was simply brilliant. The eye starting to move in the painting and it coming to life. So so ahead of its time.

  2. After Lucia

    What a film! Won Grand Prix at Cannes. More than any of that, human emotions, depression, violence, everything in this film said the way it should be. As if the emotions were distilled, and the  purest form of it was made into scenes and put together. The beginning of the film sets the tone. The long take in which we are told the work that has been done on the car. We immediately think of an accident, the car being a wreck that it had to be repaired so much. Then we think if the film is going to be about a fight that is going to happen with the garage person and the owner of the car, if the owner will not be able to pay the amount? But no, he pays it and starts riding. It’s all in one take and we see it all from maybe the backseat of the car. He stops the car at a signal and gets off. Walks away. The title of the film appears.

    After that, the screenplay, minimal and sparse and like the emotions when a person is depressed. We get that the father is depressed right from the beginning. And Ale is shown at a beach first, in a swimsuit. That too, is a brilliant establishing shot. Please keep that in mind. Choose a defining space and action for an establishing shot. The man breaking down in the kitchen of the new house when he is unpacking the kitchen utensils. Reminded me of a scene in Cache by Haneke. The man is making a sandwich or something and breaks down. Yes, it is how it should be done.

    What is the difference between this film and 13 Reasons Why? First one is of course that the girl does not die. She does not kill herself. Yes, a DVD is sent to the father by someone. I still believe that neither of the films can be called negative. Anyway this one is not related to 13 Reasons Why. Just thought of it because I watched it recently.

    The way in which the man kills the boy, in the end. A long take again, going deeper and deeper into the sea, pushing the boy into water. We are hoping it doesn’t happen, yet it has happened and we know the man is thinking the same. The girl going back to the old house and settling there. The film has got it all right. In the last shot that I just mentioned, the whole colour and texture of the film changed in the shot, right after the boy is pushed. He does ride deeper into the sea, but when the blue deepens and the land disappears and the man is surrounded just by the sea, god, is that cinema, is that life!

    Wow just looked up the Wikipedia page to read a line which said that the language of the film is said to have been influenced by Haneke. Who knows, may be I am getting somewhere with understanding films. Also learnt that Lucia is the  name of the dead mother which reminds me of how the girl says that her mother is back at the place they moved from, when the ‘friends’ ask her about her mother. Like me once, talking about my father. Why is it so difficult for people to not ask questions. And that too personal questions. Why is it necessary to ask a fellow passenger where they are going. Really. Never understood this from childhood.

    Watched it at a time when I myself was extremely depressed. I am glad I am being able to write about it at least.

  3.  Urf Professor

    [This one falls in the ‘banned’ list. The film was either denied certification or was banned by CBFC.] What a pathetic load of shit. This man who is called a professor who kills people. And a million other stories which are all shit. Why was this film made. That woman having sex with her boyfriend Teddy and the two killing him to take the lottery ticket, it was the most disgusting scene of all. What on earth is wrong with these people. And the way it began. The woman ‘confessing’ that she had had sex with a lot of people. In the most male fantasy way. Peeche se, aage se, I love sucking, the big cock, horrible. And what was with the bullock carts carrying satellites and the recording mode which came in the beginning in the wedding night scene and somewhere else. Why bother to even think of all these. Bullshit defines the film best.

  4. Hawa Mahal – Wind Castle

    Short film. Did not like it. I don’t think I like films which explore the place, treat the space as a character and leave the people and their story behind. Of course, the space is a character but it is so also because of the people and their stories inhabiting it. What good is it if you explore one without saying anything about the other? Reminded me of my playback project and made long for film student life. No. I am an independent filmmaker now and will be that alone from now on. There is no going back and it is a good thing. I have to get used to it.

  5. The Unreserved

    Documentary on those travelling in unreserved class. The team makes a train journey documentary starting from Bombay and covering a train map that covers entire India. Did not like it. The filmmaker should be absolutely absent from such films. What was the director doing giving his opinion on the Kashmiri who was on Pakistan’s side? Did not like the camera work either. Most of the time when I wanted to see the people’s faces, I was seeing them in profile. And all this shit about Tamil Nadu being about Rajanikant. The transgdender jokes and shit, yes, I know the excuse, he was only showing what had actually happened, but no. Every film has its tone and politics and this one’s is mockery when it comes to certain people interviewed in films. When I have enough money I want to make a similar one but travelling in women’s compartments throughout. Talking to women. It would be so nice. Anyone wants to produce? 

  6. Get Out

    Oh my god what brilliance. Talking about racism like that in a horror film. It was simply brilliant. This should be done with feminism. I should really do this. Why do I feel this way about every other brilliant idea and why is it that it is always someone else’s brilliant idea. Anyway, watched it in Kani’s apartment in Versova. They have such a beautiful house, the one next to the sea, you can see the sea, feel it and smell it over there and yet at night, after they went to sleep, right after the film, I was crying. Shit.

    The racism that’s displayed in the film itself is brilliant. Starting from the police officer who asked for the license. And did you see the way in which the girl went on and on about how racist her parents were and her brother was and asked how they were different from the police officer. That’s exactly how the white person sounds when he/she gets all indignant about discrimination when they actually are fake. That was one moment in which I felt the film was brilliant. To show that. Only an oppressed person would understand how fake it sounded. Maybe I understood because I am a woman…The part where he goes up having seen many absurdities in the party or the birthday celebration or whatever, the moment when everyone goes silent. Oh my god. What a moment it was.

    So many things that I liked beyond measure for its shear brilliance. You know the brilliance it takes to incorporate it into cinema through dialogues and actions and other such.

    From the beginning it is clear that the family doesn’t like the man smoking. Later, the question is, do you smoke in front of my daughter. Yes. That is the point. Do you do this in front of my white daughter? Then I should surely get rid of this habit. Whether or not you want it, I will get rid of it.

    Really liked the sound and music.

    The part where the househelp becomes all polite and nice and apologetic as always and says that it was her mistake that the phone charger got disconnected. He says, it is just that I feel really afraid when I am around a lot of white people. And then her whole expression changes. What acting and what exact portrayal of the struggle within. She cries. She can’t control it but she says vehemently that it is not like that at all.

    And white people always perpetrate hatred through black people. Like how the man who cuts logs turn around and says nasty things about his girlfriend. When whites speak though blacks, that’s how it is going to be.

    The medical operation part and all that sucked.

    The police person who is his best friend, I think played by the director, that character is also really nice. Help will only come from within.

    God this should really be done with women, dalits, transgender people and everyone. This technique.

  7. Obvious Child

    The female stand-up comedian who gets pregnant. The film is so funny and political and nice. The lead has performed really well. Some jokes just made me laugh a lot. Something which happens only when I watch mallu films, old ones. Ha ha.  
  8. Silent Light

    Carlos Reygadas film that I watched because putul ma’am, madhavi and nishtha jain were talking about it. Hated it. What the fuck was that. There is nothing in the film worth liking. The one in which the man has a wife and a lot of children and has an affair with another woman. The wife dies and the other woman comes and cries and then the wife gets up from death and stuff. All that is fine but what the fuck was there in the film. Why did he make the film. Shit. 
  9. Dil Se

    The one in which Shah Rukh Khan’s only job is to say that he works for All India Radio. So scared Mani Ratnam was, poor baby, to say that Kashmir wants azadi. Anyway, it is another example of how the guy does not give a shit even if the girl says that she does not want to be followed or pursued. The intriguing thing, however is that the ‘terrorist’ is not the only person who dies in the end. The hero also dies. Why are everyone’s dads in the film ex-army officers who died fighting!