Monthly Archives: December 2014

Mr. Deejay Pays a Visit (a chapter from an unpublished novel)

The novel in question, my third and last to date, The Best of Brand X, was written in New York and Paris in the late 1960s and early 70s. My first two novels, also unpublished, written successively in high school (The Manufactured Country, 1961) and college (Away from Here, 1965), were both partially autobiographical family chronicles that mainly juggled with the same characters and materials; the third was more experimental and abstract but no less personal. — J.R. 

 

Mr. Deejay Pays a Visit

Mr. Deejay has a long way to go. Straight through a bumper crop of twenty thousand of his listeners -– all of them senior citizens of the lower and middle income brackets, planted in the hot Texas ground up to their necks, each bearing a set of earphones that enclose their gravestone faces like parentheses. A long, long way to go past nurses with medical carts and trays on the narrow paths dividing the twenty thousand heads into neat rows, carry a hand-mike with him as he chatters compulsively against the midsummer heat: “Hot piece-a weather we’re havin, 96 degrees and cloudless sky here on Havingford Acres, givin these people some cool hot-weather music with lemonade, iced tea and all the best medication to see that they look up at the day and smile, my name’s Mr.… Read more »

Recommended Viewing: CELLULOID MAN

A movie pours into us. It fills us like milk being poured into a glass.” — John Updike

  I must confess that the prospect of viewing a recent two-and-a-half-hour documentary (a recent DVD release of Second Run in the U.K.) about P. K. Nair, the fanatically devoted archivist who helped to found India’s National Film Archive in 1964, didn’t fill me with eager anticipation; the whole thing sounded somewhat esoteric and remote. But in fact, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s compulsively watchable and consistently entertaining Celluloid Man (2012) kept me enraptured throughout, not least for its evocations of cinema as a whole and not merely Indian cinema. Early on, when we see Nair addressing us in front of a screen showing Citizen Kane with French subtitles, followed a little later by the opening strains of the film’s soundtrack, it becomes obvious that the critical issues and passions informing Nair’s life are very close to those of his principal mentor, Henri Langlois. And even though the film has a lot to say and show us about the history of Indian cinema, personal and anecdotal (e.g., Ritwik Ghatak’s drinking habits and viewing tastes, Nair’s own history) as well as industrial, it’s the cinema as a whole and why it matters that provides its ultimate framework.
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