aditya kumar's weblog

Archive for January, 2018

My tribute to Dolores O’Riordan

without comments

I’ll be honest: the reason why I started exploring The Cranberries’ music was because before watching the video of their 1999 hit, “Promises”, I had never seen a lady wielding an electric guitar. She was the lead vocalist Dolores O’Riordan.

Dolores passed away suddenly, yesterday. She was 46.

The effect of that song then was such that, as it happens when you discover a band, I went into overdrive, fueling much of my music needs from their past hits. It was also the same time I heard another magical song, “Animal Instinct”, from the same album, “Bury The Hatchet”.

“Animal Instinct” and “Promises” were very different songs. While the latter was full of anger and edged towards a tone of hatred, “Animal Instinct” was a tad depressing though it bordered around hope – and this song gave me so much inspiration during one such difficult phase of my life. In “Promises”, Dolores’ tone was of questioning and her voice was angry and commanding – much like her electric guitar. In “Animal Instinct”, her voice was sombre just as the song’s mood and tone.

In the years that followed I discovered more gems from this band but two songs come to my mind as I write this: “Ode to My Family” and “Bosnia”.

“Bosnia” has so much anger in it that it is difficult to fathom how much of it Dolores must have held within her when she wrote that song. It is very hard to empathize with the emotional state of “Bosnia” because most of us are privileged not to have witnessed the horrors of war and this is precisely what the song attempts to address, with these lines:

“I would like to state my vision
Life was so unfair.
We live in our secure surroundings
And people die out there.”

And then:

“And we all sing songs in our rooms
SARAJEVO erects another tomb”

Her words are simple but I remember losing myself into the depths of this song, depressed and angry.

And then there she was, in “Ode to My Family”, yearning for a simple life, after all that fame had brought to her. I believe it was her insecurity when she wrote these words:

“Understand what I’ve become,
It wasn’t my design.
And people everywhere think something
Better than I am”.

The thing about songs like these is that you may not be able relate to the cause of a song completely; and then you manage to find a home in a few verses that can be applied to your state and what surrounds you – and a few listens later your emotional state is such that it is defined by those few verses of that song.

Dolores’ wrote songs like that, for me. It is for these songs that I am going to miss her.

And I can’t think of any better lines to end this post – these come from a song she wrote for Denny Cordell:

“They say that you’ve passed away, And I hope you’ve gone to a better place”.

Written by aditya kumar

January 16th, 2018 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Music

The Woman in Red

without comments

In 1999, I was in the city of Indore, trying to be a graduate. It was a quiet little city in the heartland of Central India. It was “small town India” – it did not have a significant urban population.

During those days, there were no cinema halls in Indore where we could watch English movies. The best and closest we could experience Hollywood was at a movie hall called Neelkamal cinema – located in the old part of the city, near Malwa Mill. The movie hall, the building and the interiors were badly maintained and in shambles but it was the only movie theatre that played Hollywood movies, dubbed in Hindi.

We clung on to what we got because these were little joys that life had to offer. Watching a movie, in those days, used to be a long, delightful affair. Long, because we used to live outside the town and it was a long excursion to the city and the excitement that used to build up was hard to contain. Then, only the best movies used to make their way to the ragged old screen at Neelkamal.

One such movie was “The Matrix”.

Now, I won’t go into the whys and hows of how amazing a movie The Matrix was – I watched it about 4 times later and it had a cult following in years to come. The movie was such that I know people, myself included, who remember exact scenes of that movie, to this day. One such scene in that movie was the woman in the red dress – she comes out of nowhere when a bewildered Neo (Keanu Reeves –
he always has that expression, doesn’t he) is getting a guided tour of The Matrix. She smiles at Neo as she crosses him and as Neo looks back, the lady is transformed into an Agent who has his gun trained on Neo. You can read more about that scene and the woman here.

As the scene happens, the music playing in the background is Rob Dougan’s Clubbed to Death, an instrumental composition that is my favourite track from the movie. Together, with this music and the scene, this was (is) my favourite part of the movie. I used to watch that scene again and again, on dvd.

You may be wondering where I am going with all these long descriptions – of a small town movie theatre and a specific scene of a movie that I saw 18 years ago. Bear with me, please.

A few days ago I realized that the premise of that scene – my favourite scene of The Matrix, was merely a few meters behind my office in Sydney. I can tell you this – my world turned upside down. With joy, of course.

Such was my happiness that I went there, not once but twice, that day. I kept telling about it to everyone I met. While returning home from work, I went there with my earphones on, playing, what else, but “Clubbed to Death”. I walked that path, acting bewildered; acting, oh, so Neo.

I was then left with a sense of wonder that lingers on, even now. Back in 1999, in awe of that movie scene while trying to find the little joys of life, could I, 18 years old, ever imagine that one day I’ll be standing at the very place where Neo met the Woman in Red?

I promise you – not in my wildest dreams.

Life can take you far.

Written by aditya kumar

January 5th, 2018 at 7:36 pm

Posted in Cinema,Personal,Sydney