Posted in movies

The Art of Camp – When is “Bad” Good?

Video Essay

So, I recently sat down to watch House of Gucci after hearing about all the mixed reactions the movie had received for the past couple of months since it came out, and still, when I was watching it I was left a little perplexed. Because it’s not a movie you can easily categorize or put in a box, and that took me back a little because I have gotten so used to most studio movies being just one specific thing. And especially in a genre like a biopic, which is plagued by very standard formulaic filmmaking, House of Gucci almost seems to be like a parody of the “based on a true story crime family drama” at times. It is over the top and ridiculous, and the best part is everyone is giving it their everything, especially Lady Gaga, who is actually really good in it. So after watching it, the reaction does make sense to me. When you throw everything at the wall, you often end up dividing the audience, which is probably the reason most movies don’t take the risk of being so out there. And in the case of House of Gucci, even the movie itself seems to be scared of its camp identity and tries to lose it halfway through and focus on being a more high-brow drama, but that’s also when the movie becomes far less interesting. Now I know that’s not true for everybody since a lot of people weren’t sold on the camp, especially if you were someone who knows this world personally (Tom Ford Clip). The biggest point of contention among people though is most probably Jared Leto’s performance, because I have seen every range of reactions possible – from people calling it one the best performances ever and him getting nominated for every award show, to people just calling it dogshit and thinking he spoils the movie anytime he’s on-screen. For me personally, it was glorious to witness and I loved his performance in the movie, well precisely because it is bad and campy – from his over-the-top makeup to the ‘it’s me Mario’ voice. Now whether he is doing this campy performance, I’m not really sure. Jared Leto doesn’t really strike me as someone who has much self-awareness, we are talking about the guy here who sent his costar used condoms to prepare for his role, his antics are kinda stupid. But does it matter if it’s intentional? Because even if it is unintentional, and Jared Leto thinks he is doing the most authentic portrayal of the character, that doesn’t take out the charm from it and it’s still hilarious, if not even more so because of his unawareness. Or maybe he is actually the genius who deserves all these accolades, who got the campy tone of the movie and played it bad on purpose and all the doubters are just not at the same level. 

But why would anyone do that? Which is a fair question to ask. Just a few months back, I had gone to watch James Wan’s malignant with a friend in the theatres. Half away through the movie, she turned to me and asked, “Why is the acting in this movie so bad?” So I explained it to her, that James Wan was doing a homage to the Italian Giallo horror movies, and he was making everything purposely bad in the vein of those 80s horror movies. Needless to say, she wasn’t impressed by the answer, because she just said, “That’s stupid. Being bad on purpose is still bad.”, which is hard to argue against. But I had so much fun with Malignant, especially with how stupid and outrageous it gets towards the end, but my friend, well not so much. I wanted to explain to her why I enjoyed it so much, or how it was just pure camp. But I realized that it was too complicated to talk about, especially since I was myself unsure about how to define camp. But that is precisely what I’m gonna do in this video, try to define, what the art of camp is – and when is “bad” good?

When we think about what gives a movie its identity, we think of a lot of elements that come together to make the movie what it is – the script, the characters, the visual aesthetics, the cinematography, the direction, the sound, music, actors, style, and the genre, but there’s one part of films as a medium that we rarely talk about, and in my opinion, it is one of the most vital parts of a film’s identity – The Mode of Sensibility it operates in. But it makes sense that it is not much talked about since it is so hard to define what we mean when we use the term ‘sensibility’, much rather try to discuss its effect and uses. Yet, sensibility is something we are all aware of when we watch a movie, we can differentiate between the different modes of it, although such a distinction is largely dependent on personal taste. And thus we have a point of contention, on whether sensibility comes from the artist creating the art or the audience consuming it, and the truth is, the answer isn’t very simple, since art cannot be judged without being observed – it’s like trying to study the movement of electrons without disturbing them with photon particles…. Quantum mechanics anybody? Hehe, I guess not, my bad…

Sensibility can thus be thought of as a combination of style, perception, and taste. And while all these are highly subjective qualities, it doesn’t mean they can’t be studied and classified objectively. Look at these clips for example –

Clip 1 – I’m Batman (Adam West from Batman 1966)

Clip 2 – I’m Vengeance (Robert Pattinson from The Batman 2022)

In both these scenes, Batman has to deliver a very similar line, yet they depict distinguishable sensibilities. The clip from the new Batman film is sincere and grounded in realism, accompanied by a dark and grimy aesthetic that makes you take the situation very seriously despite the fact that it’s a guy in a batsuit beating up street thugs. While in the second, everything is done in an over-the-top, almost tongue-in-cheek manner, and we as an audience aren’t intimidated by this Batman, but rather laughing at the absurdity of what’s happening on screen. This peculiar sensibility of finding ironic value in entertainment is the one that goes by the name ‘Camp’. But camp isn’t just about laughing at how absurdly bad a piece of art is, it is much more complex than that. Elements of camp can be found in cinema throughout its existence, and not just in low-brow b-movies or cult favourites, camp is often used by master filmmakers to accentuate a scene, and in that way, it can be another indispensable tool in a filmmaker’s toolbox.

So, what is Camp?

 Well again, there’s no simple way to put it. The English term can be first traced back to Britain in the 1800s where it was used to describe the activities of gay men, who were considered to be ‘extra’ and flamboyant in the way they presented themselves.  The term later evolved among urban cliques and ironically, cults, and its usage got closer to how we understand it today. But it was Susan Sontag’s seminal essay on the subject, ‘Notes on Camp’ – an essay I’ll be referencing too many times to count in this video, that gave us a proper understanding of what camp is. Camp, as Sontag put it, is a certain mode of aestheticism. It is a way of viewing the world as an aesthetic phenomenon, one that is not of beauty, but of exaggeration, in terms of artifice and stylization. If the natural mode of sensibility, if there is anything as such, is to immerse an audience into a film by grounding it in realism such that the presentation is indistinguishable from real life and the audience can connect with and feel for the characters without being reminded that they are watching a work of fiction, then camp is just the opposite of that. Camp exists as a knowing wink, the essence of camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration. Sontag calls Camp the style of things-being-what-they-are not – a man is supposed to be “masculine”, thus the feminine aesthetics of some gay men or the drag queens are considered to be camp since it goes against the natural. Camp is when we find ourselves laughing at a violent death scene instead of being horrified by it, as is naturally assumed. Camp turns the serious into frivolous, and often the other way around as well – violence becomes a funny affair, and the most trivial of things are treated with grave seriousness, which in turn makes the situation funny. Camp sees everything in quotation marks, it’s not a vampire, it’s a “vampire” it’s not a woman, it’s a “woman”, it’s not being a character but rather playing a role, it is the farthest extension, in sensibility, of the metaphor of life as theater. Camp doesn’t follow the traditional rules of art, it exists in ludicrous abandonment. Thus, with camp, everything is in ironic taste, so it always operates at two levels at the same time.

In her essay, Sontag says certain artforms have more affinity towards camp and lists random objects which according to her are camp,  she talks about movies and includes a few movies from her time like the original King Kong and The Maltese Falcon, neither of which are considered obvious examples of campy movies as we view them today. She also notes how lists like ‘10 worst movies ever made’’ were the populizers of camp since most moviegoers go to watch movies in a very unpretentious way, which is precisely how many people get indoctrinated to the cult of camp even to this day.

Susan Sontag (1933-2004), American writer, France, on November 3, 1972. (Photo by Jean-Regis Rouston/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)

The most popular camp phrase is probably – so bad it’s good, and a whole subculture of cinephiles who watch movies with the intent of laughing at them. But not every bad movie can be enjoyed, it requires a special quality and outlandish ambition to make it more than just a failed attempt. Countless bad movies come out every year and are forgotten a week after their opening weekend, so these ‘so bad it’s good movies’ are surely doing something right for people to remember and watch them years after their original release. They’re almost the same as the endearing classics of cinema that are watched by moviegoers despite new offerings every week, but in a very different way – I would call them the ironic classics. Just look at the popularity of internet shows dedicated to watching and making fun of bad movies, and you’ll see the audience for it. And since we’re on the topic, there is probably no better movie than the 2003 cult classic, written, produced, directed, and starring Tommy Wiseau – The Room. Tommy was an aspiring actor who got rejected multiple times when he came to Hollywood, well because that’s what Hollywood is, very rarely do people just drive here and get overnight success. But luckily for us, Tommy had some mysterious source of impossible amounts of money and he said, ‘Fuck it, if nobody will cast me, then I will cast me!’. Thus Tommy Wiseau completed writing a script on his own and had set out to make the greatest American drama in lieu of something by Tennessee Willaims, and he made every single wrong decision possible along the way. The Room is a cinematic paradox in a way, it is a colossal mistake at every level, but you can’t help but watch, and moreover, be entertained by it. It obviously flopped when it came out in theatres, but over the years it has gained an immense fan following and is regularly shown in special midnight screenings and has even inspired a real big award-winning Hollywood movie based on its creation. Yes, it is quite a phenomenon – the celebrities love it, the internet loves it, people throw spoons at the screen while watching it (yeah that’s a thing). But why this movie? As Sontag notes, the best camp is one that is innocent. Wiseau didn’t set out to make a campy flick, and neither was he trying to just put together a movie to earn some quick buck, despite its flaws, The Room is a labour of love, a passion project for its creator. Tommy Wiseau was truly ambitious in his effort, to a degree of fault, but everyone in the movie commits to his vision and plays it like they are in a serious drama – which is why it works. It completely lacks any sort of self-awareness, and thus you get comedic golds like this – (Just use any clip from The Room, all of them suck equally)

But The Room isn’t the only camp classic built off of mishaps, like I said it’s an entire subculture, and I think I’ll discuss it separately in a video someday since I’m one of the weirdos who enjoys watching bad movies just to laugh at them. I don’t even consider them guilty pleasures, they are just fun.

Obviously, not everyone shares the same attitude towards cinema, most people who are just looking for an engaging story that can keep them entertained for two hours will be put off by a movie as bizarre as The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But the movie has a dedicated cult following of people who religiously watch it and put up screenings where they even dress up as the characters and re-enact the film for a live audience. Camp as sensibility only attracts people with a particular taste. It used to be most popular among urban cliques and obviously the LGBT community, because of its affinity for the unnatural and outrageous, which these communities could identify with. Campy movies are like comfort food for a lot of people, camp is a taste of love, love for human nature, love for the unnatural and theatrical, as it doesn’t judge, but rather relishes the little triumphs and awkward intensities of life and art, and in that way, it’s also a form of pure enjoyment. 

But camp isn’t mindless either. Sontag calls camp a variant of sophistication but hardly identical to it. A certain level of sophistication is required to understand camp or have a camp taste since you need to be in on the joke. Now if an audience member themselves lacks any awareness, then nothing from a so-bad-its-good-movie will be fun for them, they would think they are just watching a really boring drama. This is why over-the-top cringe elements (like the Hallmark films or Netflix original movies) are still seen in low-level movies that are just going to be consumed as products by a mindless audience who won’t ever put much thought into it. They can be watched through a camp lens and enjoyed, although the unambitious generic cash-grab nature of such films prohibits them from being true camp. To be true camp, you need to be really out there, it’s not about being bad, it’s about attempting to be extraordinary and failing, to create something so audacious and passionate that it makes you take a note.

Here is it important to draw the difference between deliberate and naive camp. According to Susan Sontag, pure camp is always naive. She says that camp which is aware of its own campiness is seldom pleasurable, pure camp requires a sense of self-seriousness that fails. And there’s some truth to her statement. Since the Room, Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero have tried to recreate its success, but in trying to be bad on purpose, all their output since has been far less enjoyable as it has lost all its original charm. Similarly, other movies that set out to make a bad movie on purpose are never as good as movies that had no idea they were being camp. But Susan Sontag wrote her essay in 1964, and camp in films has gone through a huge change since. Because of the change in sensibilities over time, some of the most beloved Hollywood classics may seem campy to audiences today because of their exaggerated presentation. But when they came out, they were the standard for how movies should be. Earliest examples of intended camp come from the B-movies that were being made in the 40s and 50s, and which experienced a boom in the 60s. Notably, Ed Wood’s filmography is an iconic part of the so bad it’s good cinema landscape. And then later, elements from those movies found their way into the mainstream because of a new generation of filmmakers who grew up watching the B-movies movies and identified the outrageous potential of entertainment value in them. Campy movies were extremely popular in the 80s and 90s, with complete genres that were saturated with camp. The B-movie sensibilities were now part of the broader cinematic language with mainstream films leaning into that direction. 

Now, there is some truth to the statement that good art cannot be camp, since the most obvious examples of camp are ridiculously bad movies, but that doesn’t mean camp sensibilities cannot be found in High Art. Initially, camp was seen as a reaction to the purposely serious nature of High culture. But there are other creative sensibilities besides the ‘serious’ (both tragic and comic) esoteric styles of high culture and one cheats oneself, as a human being, if one only respects the sensibilities of high culture. The supposed greatness of cinema isn’t just based on realism and accurate portrayal of the human experience, it also requires stretching the medium and exploring absurd questions on the human experience. Thus we see the influx of the bizarre in the world of cinema, most often in genres like horror or science fiction, movies far removed from reality, but ones that would still be considered High art for their thought-provoking nature. Clearly different standards apply here than in traditional High culture. Any Art is good not because it is accurate, but rather because through it another kind of truth about the human experience is being revealed. In short, another valid sensibility is being revealed, one that exists in the peripheries of extreme. Camp is the sensibility of the theatricalization of such experiences, and thus, Camp is clearly a very post-modern sensibility, since it is a reflection on the art itself. 

Many great movies incorporate camp to enhance their narratives with hints of superficiality and theatrical presentation. Camp isn’t limited to just bad action and horror movies from the 80s, even the works of the greats like David Lynch have undeniable camp elements that make them more enjoyable. Lynch’s movies relish on the comedy of the absurd, and that goes for all other outlandish stories from that era. Quentin Tarantino incorporates camp in his movies as a reference to the B-movies he grew up watching, it is a way of having fun, and at the same time adding a different layer (insert scene from Kill Bill). When borrowing a style he goes completely into the over-the-top aesthetics of the genre, like the stereotypical kung fu master with a goatee or a Japanese girl in high school uniform beating a gang up. These filmmakers blend camp with seriousness to achieve a result that is more entertaining and layered in the process. Look at the beloved 80s classic The Princess Bride, for example, it is a fairy tale far removed from reality, and it is told through the narrative device of narrating a bedtime story to a kid, so it requires a sense of the whimsical. And that is achieved through the campiness, as we can see in the film that makes it a perfect blend of camp and adventure, so even when the situations are dire, it’s never not fun. And speaking of whimsy, probably nobody does it better today than Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson’s films are a constant blend of seriousness and camp, which gives them their signature charming quality. Campy performances have saved many films, which would be totally forgettable blobs otherwise. Think Tim Curry from the original IT miniseries, or Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow and Tom Hardy as Venom elevating their by-the-numbers traditional blockbusters into more than what’s on the page.  So, camp adds more flavour and flamboyance to could otherwise be a dull lacklustre affair. I mean we can all agree that Nicolas Cage makes any movie 10 times better just by his presence, right? (Just insert any Nic cage clip). So, it would be really naive to say that camp is just bad art, it is just another way of approaching art. Calling a movie campy is not degrading its quality, but just identifying its sensibility, as some of the greatest movies ever made are filled with camp. Heck, even the works of Oscar Wilde and The Great freaking Gatsby have campy elements associated with the depiction of High society. So take that you literary snobs, don’t you dare look down upon us for liking Nic Cage. The man is a genius.

If there’s anything postmodern art does, it “obliterates the line—or the brow—separating the high from the low,”

So why, why such a divisive reaction to these modern movies trying to incorporate camp?  Well, for that we need to talk about the death of camp for a bit. After the 90s, with the rapid improvement in technology and CGI graphics and because of the need for cinema to be more immersive than ever, in order to compete with the rising quality of television and internet media, the goal quickly became to immerse an audience as realistically as possible, even when the concepts in the movies were completely fantastical. The big genre movies even started taking themselves seriously. In 2008, we got both The Dark Knight and Iron Man, big commercial hits that took their source materials seriously and brought them to reality, whereas comic book media had mostly been campy until then because comics books were largely considered to be a lower art form. There simply isn’t any need to be camp anymore, we are at a point in terms of both technology and sensibility, that big purple alien spewing philosophy and killing half of the population can be done with complete sincerity, or a man being attacked by a bear can look real and visceral on camera, without it ever becoming goofy. Also, camp requires an amount of courage. You need to have the courage to suck, or else you just can’t attempt something that is completely out there. And that’s the thing Hollywood doesn’t like doing anymore – taking risks. Everything is standardized and made with little care to try something new, it’s all a repetition of what works and is tested a million times in focus groups and test screenings, so what we get are only homogenous movies that are too afraid to have a personality and do something completely wild. The movies, along with the audience, have become a bit too self-aware, to the point where if writers do put something out there in a script, they immediately feel the need to cut it down with some form of sarcasm or irony. And when you become ironic in your work itself, the question of your work having ironic value goes out of the window. Every movie nowadays feels the need to make fun of any element that might be considered zany or campy, or have a character witness some weird shit and then immediately just end it with a lazy joke by them going… “yeah, that just happened.” (No way home clip) I don’t have anything against this more realistic and self-aware style of storytelling, but I’m just disappointed in the inability of artists to go weird in the mainstream anymore. Like I’m sure Mahershala Ali will be a great Blade in the upcoming Marvel movie, but I doubt he’ll say anything in it as profound as (ice-skate uphill clip). 

But is it just the audience who have rejected any sensibility that questions their sense of reality, because they just want brain-dead comfort food in terms of entertainment? Do we now judge art through such a narrow lens that anything that makes us think or leave our comfort zone, is immediately rejected? While an argument can be made for that, it would be lazy to just blame it all on the audience.

Well, here I think I need to point out that time has a great effect on what is and what isn’t considered camp. Sensibilities change over time with our societal cultures evolving and with it our response to art. Movies from classic Hollywood will appear full of camp to us, even though that wasn’t their intention, they were only operating within their natural mode of sensibility of the time. Things go out of fashion quickly and thus, the over-the-top elements of an era appear campy to us. An 80’s mullet would be considered campy in the modern context, but back then it was the craze. So maybe, the movies from the 80s and 90s appear campy to us because of the cultural shift we have had in the meantime. And while 20-30 years may seem too short for culture to evolve in any significant way, we have to remember that these last couple of decades have also seen the most rampant change in media production and consumption in history. Like I said earlier, cameras and technologies are better than ever, to the point where life on screen is indistinguishable from reality. We are also constantly surrounded by screens all the time around us and consume more media than ever before, so suspension of disbelief has worn out to some extent – Visual media just feels natural to us. So audiences today accept a lot less in terms of style that breaks their sense of realism. Now, I’m generally talking about only western media here, since Indian cinema, be it in Bollywood or the South Indian film industry, or even Asian cinema to some extent, is filled with camp, most of them even bordering on kitsch, so it’s an entirely different problem. But even in mainstream Indian cinema, we are seeing the change in sensibility because of the arrival of online media and exposure to different tastes. 

And this is why I feel different sensibilities have a space in our world – camp isn’t really dead, as long as there are people around who appreciate it. The advent of the internet also has made sure that there is a niche for everything. And we are a generation who knows to appreciate things for ironic value. Much of our meme culture is based on ironic comedy that can be considered camp. This is why old campy movies from the past are suddenly having a resurgence. There’s a certain joy to seeing people try and fail hilariously, and thus the so bad it’s good movies often offer the same kind of satisfaction as the video of watching a guy perform a failed stunt – they are excellent sources of meme material. Complete disasters like Showgirls and Rocky Horror Picture show have been revamped and given a glow-up as camp classics. Like I mentioned earlier, there are entire internet shows dedicated just talking about hilariously bad movies, and the so-bad-its-good movies are now part of the cinema canon. They are not some weird obscure pieces of art, but rather readily available and sold as products. Lost gems like Samurai Cop have been discovered years after its release and it even got a sequel in 2015. Yes, even Samurai Cop got a sequel. Why? Because suddenly there is a demand for such outrageous stories. And filmmakers have tried to cash in on this phenomenon, and this is where you get movies, like Sharknado, wolf cop, or this meme, which is an actual movie, called Velocipastor (yeah, it is a real thing).  But as Sontag had pointed out in her essay, these movies are rarely as satisfying as unintentional or pure camp, because often they get lose their charm due to self-awareness. We even have an emerging culture of hate watching now, with people just watching movies to see how bad they are and roast them, so we are going even beyond camp.

But guess what? You don’t need to be bad to be camp. A good filmmaker knows when and how to exaggerate the sensibilities and be embrace the camp to serve the story. They aren’t trying to be bad, they just are having fun with the idea, and that fun translates onto the screen.

And this is why I think camp is important, and something that shouldn’t be put to bed yet.  In a line from Notes on Camp, Susan Sontag makes a very interesting remark – “What is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine, and what is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine.” That line stuck with me because it is something I truly believe in. Our differences from the norm make us more attractive, it adds extra layers to our character and makes us more interesting as people. And it goes the same for cinema, cinema shouldn’t be put in a box, it should be allowed to express in all modes of sensibilities it possesses. I’m not saying that campy movies are superior to all other kind of movies, I’m just saying it shouldn’t be something we shy away from it, the more variety in artistic expression, the more interesting art we’ll get. Cinema should be allowed to be whatever it wants to be. A murder mystery with political undertones can be campy fun, while a movie about a spiky alien being beat up by six action figures can be completely serious, it all works. Camp shouldn’t be a thing for only those quirky little indie movies, especially when we know it works. James Gunn infused both DC and Marvel with his B-movie campy sensibilities in Guardians of the galaxy and The Suicide squad, and both franchises are better off for that. Same goes for the Grandmaster in Thor Ragnarok and the Drummer Octopus in Aquaman, they just make the movies more fun and interesting. Which is why recent movies like House and Gucci, Malignant, or Last Night in Soho, should be appreciated for trying to break the mold and bring camp back to the mainstream, because god knows we need something different and crazy now. And the next time you are watching something and you think to yourself, “This is silly” “This is stupid” “This is bad”, just ask yourself one question – “Am I enjoying this?” and if the answer is yes, just keeping enjoying it. That’s all that matters.

Posted in movies

Pather Panchali – A Genius at Work

INTRO

Explaining to people why you love a Satyajit Ray film is like trying to explain to the love of your life why you love him – There are too many things to be said, too many details to be gone over, and after a certain point they all start to sound very repetitive, and you realize no matter what you say, words couldn’t possibly do justice to how you feel. And especially what new thing could be said about Pather Panchali, when so many people, way more qualified than me, have already done so. However, the sad reality is, Ray’s body of work is largely unknown to the general audience. When you bring up the notion of Indian cinema to people, their minds automatically go to the songs and dances, the lavish sets, and the larger-than-life melodramatic affairs that Bollywood has unfortunately popularized. Heck, even most people in his homeland haven’t sought out his films. Yes, every Bengali is aware of Satyajit Ray at some level and has probably watched or read something by him, but very few have done the deep dive and watched the entire filmography. 

Satyajit Ray arrived at the scene at a time when the Indian film industry was bound by set conventions and heavily depended on factors that were favourable to the commercial valuation of films. He broke away from all these conventions and alleged “indispensable set rules”, whether it be working with an entire cast of non-actors to shooting the film in natural light, Ray did it all. Funds did not come easy but that didn’t stop Ray. After surmounting all these hurdles, came Pather Panchali– a film that revolutionized Indian cinema. 

Ray’s first (and probably the most well-known) film, Pather Panchali is a household name and is considered a bonafide international classic that placed Satyajit Ray in the leagues of the all-time greats. Filmmakers from Akira Kurosawa to Martin Scorsayzze have held it as one of the best movies ever made. So what is it about Pather Panchali that makes it so special? How does a film become a masterpiece?

STORYTIME – THE MAKING OF

Satyajit Ray shooting Pather Panchali

Before that, to truly understand the impact of Pather Panchali, at first one needs to know the context of how it was made. Okay, so quick storytime.  It is the early 1940s and  Ray has started a film society in Calcutta with a couple of his “hipster friends”, where they mainly view and discuss artsy European and Russian films. Ray was an illustrator at an advertising agency then, but the idea of making a film of his own had already started to take shape in his mind. But He was not interested in the commercial cinema popular in India at that time, which were largely mythological tales filled with broad strokes and multiple music/dance sequences. Ray wanted to tell stories about real people and their real struggles, and Indian cinema to him felt as far removed from reality as possible. To Ray, the idea of making films felt like a distant dream that could not be possible because of conventional notions that films cannot be shot in natural light or working with nonactors would prove disastrous.  It wasn’t until he saw Vittorio De Sica’s neo-realist Italian film “The Bicycle Cycle” which changed his entire conception of filmmaking and he for the first time identified a cinema style that spoke to him and one that he could dabble in. Ray had been playing around with the idea of adapting Bibhutibhusan’s Pather Panchali for the big screen and shooting it like the neo-realist films made perfect sense to him. In an essay from the book Deep Focus, Ray talks about describing his idea first to the french filmmaker Jack Renoir who had come to India to shoot The River. Renoir showed great interest in Ray’s pitch and encouraged him to go through with his plan. 

The production of Pather Panchali was unconventional, to say the least. After deciding on making the film, Ray had to start planning the shoot. He was still working in the advertisement firm so the movie had to be shot on weekends strictly. Also because of the minimalist nature of the film and Ray’s inexperience, he couldn’t get any financial backing from any investors, and there came a point when he had to part with his rare books and music cassettes and even had to mortgage his wife’s gold jewellery. To keep the budget in control he had to stick with inexperienced technicians, most of whom were working on a film for the first time. He also mostly cast non-actors in prominent roles keeping in the tradition of the neo-realistic films. But this organic filmmaking process is also what gives Pather Panchali its signature lifelike quality, almost a documentary-esque style as it captures life as is, which was Ray’s ultimate goal. Everything about Pather Panchali is living and breathing, and you can tell that right from the beginning as the credits start, as the names appear handwritten on a dusty and crumpled piece of paper it’s alive and that it is there for you to witness.

PEOPLE AND THE VILLAGE

In an interview, Aparna Sen stated that ‘Satyajit Ray’s Films Gave Faces To The Rural Poor And Dignified Them” and added, “In an atmosphere vitiated with formula mainstream cinema…Ray’s realism came like a breath of fresh air.” Pather Panchali, an adaptation of Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s novel of the same name, very much inspired by Bibhutibhusan’s own life, is about a family caught in the vicious snare of dire poverty and the harsh sordid reality that comes with such existence.

Set in the village of Nischindipur in rural Bengal, we get to see what life is like in an actual village which rings true even today. We see Kids running around, small mud houses with thatched roofs, Bangla Natok during festivals serving as a pleasant distraction from the humdrum of village life, or kids sitting down for their picnic and bickering over superfluous things, we get a very detailed visual description of rural life through which we learn of their simple ways of existence. Even the sound of the birds calling or the wind blowing is carefully recorded to set the mood of the film right and to have it appear as authentic as possible.

     Now in the very first scene, we see little Durga innocently picking guava from her neighbour’s garden. Upon seeing her do this, we see the vexation on the neighbour’s face as they throw a sneaky remark at her mother. Durga too little to understand anything, goes on doing whatever she was doing, not comprehending the unfair politics of such situations, we also learn later that the land actually belonged to her father but because he owed his relative some money and was unable to repay the amount, he was compelled to part with the land. As the film progresses, we see Durga blossom into an adolescent, full of life and spirit. She is often lost in the recesses of the woods and despite her mother’s complaints about not being enough dedicated to household work like “other girls of her age”, we don’t see much change in her. It is important to note that, unlike her brother, she doesn’t go to school nor do we see any other girls in the school. As viewers, we realize how restrained women’s lives were, only limited to household work and the gender expectations could not have made itself clearer. Though for Durga, her circumstances have never gotten in the way of her happiness, we see her tease Apu, go around playing with her friends but soon when the realization hits her that she probably will never get married like her friend because her parents don’t have enough money to pay the groom a dowry, we see her sad for the first time because this means that she’ll never be able to escape from her impoverished reality. She is wholly aware of the abysmal state of affairs at her house and at once confesses to her friend that she will not marry, we see her crestfallen with tears in her eyes as she witnesses her friend getting married, slowly the realization creeps in that she will probably never get to be a bride and thus, she’ll never be able to escape from the poverty and humiliation that envelops her life. 

   The character of the mother is drawn sympathetically. We see Sourbojaya as a woman with grit and patience but at the same time seething. Sourbojaya is a woman with a lot of dignity. She loathes her daughter stealing fruits from her neighbourhood. She has needs and expresses those needs to her husband, all of these desires pertain to their children- a saree for Durga, a new set of clothes for Apu. Even though we see her often shout at Durga and even at one point drag her out of the house by her hair, we also see her crying profusely after doing so. When Durga gets very sick, we see Sourbojaya as a pillar of strength, sitting beside her at all times, cupping her face with her hands affectionately. She has a natural proclivity to not desire help, even though her husband hasn’t reached out to her for months on end, we don’t see her pleading for money but selling whatever valuable thing she can lay her hands on. Durga’s death hits her like a colossal and all her desires end with it. Sourbojaya’s life is a difficult one, nobody realizes the problems that come with poverty better than her, she has to provide for a family when there is no money for it. Keeping aside her own desires, we see her play the role of the sacrificial mother whose path is of immense difficulties and ends in the tragedy which we get to witness in the film Aparajito.

ADAPTATION

The story of Pather Panchali is one that I have been in love with since I was a kid, so it almost feels sacrilegious for me to try and analyze it. My mother had read Bhibutibhusan’s novel “Aam Aatir Bhepu” as bedtime stories to me even before I could read on my own. And once I could read, I read those stories again… And again. So even before I watched the movie, that brother and sister, their playful routines, the narrow road that leads to the village of Nischindipur, they had all been part of my life. I knew Apu and Durga as people, and not characters, I felt elated with them at any slight glimmer of happiness, and I broke down into a mess each time tragedy struck. But the thing about Pather Panchali is. Despite being a gut-wrenching story about a family trying to survive their poverty, it has moments of purity. The book (more so than the film) is almost a feel-good story. It is about the little joys of life. The games they play, the happiness from just a little good food, Apu’s dreams. 

I have read too many essays on Pather Panchali from Western critics who call it to be an “Indian experience”. I don’t know what “Indian experience” means but as an Indian while watching it, everything feels so distant. This is not the life I have experienced, but it is still all so familiar. The thing about Pather Panchali is that it touches the very core of our humanity, which is part of the reason why I think this movie has touched a note internationally. Pather Panchali can be interpreted to be about many things, but it is the characters and their humanity that leaves a mark on you. I feel like I know Durga, I know a Sarbajaya and I know a Horihor – it can be a story of any poor household in Bengal. I guess that’s what is meant by the Indian experience, we have seen this life somewhere even if we haven’t lived it. When you Apu and Durga’s happiness over one mango, it puts things into perspective. We have forgotten to enjoy the small things in life, the story always brings me back to that feeling of joy and genuine wonder I felt as a child.

Satyajit Ray gives a lot of the film’s credit to Bibhutibhusan himself, and he deserves it since all of it comes from his writing. But Ray also makes the best choice at every step along the way to adapt the material. Ray didn’t write a script for the film and rather decided to stick with the lines from the books. But he had to draw and create extensive storyboards beforehand because Ray had planned for visual language unknown to Indians at that point. The novel is more of an episodic affair, there are no clear acts. Ray changes the order of events in the story to streamline the script and give it more of a three-act story structure with classic build-up. He also omits out long episodes from the story and rather progresses the story visually. In the book, the plot involving the Jatra or the play has more character reactions and reveals Apu’s imaginative power and early signs of being a storyteller. Ray juxtaposes this entire development in one screen, as the camera cuts to Apu being deeply engrossed in the play, with the next scene showing him wearing a prop moustache and acting out his imagination. It’s a simple thing, but it conveys a range of emotions. And it is also the strength of Pather Panchali as a film. Everything that can be conveyed visually is always done so. The dialogue is sparse and life-like, it’s like observing life play out in front of you as is. And in that way, it is also an interactive feeling. Ray invites you to think and feel for these characters and never spoon-feeds you any information or statement that he is trying to make. You get the sense that you are watching someone you know go through the hardships of life.

VISUAL LANGUAGE & NATURE

Film by its nature is a visual medium, and the best movies use this quality to enhance their visual storytelling. Throughout Pather Panchali, Ray develops a lot of the characters and the themes in the story visually. Let’s take the character of Apu for example. Despite being the lead character of the entire trilogy, Apu barely gets any lines in the movie. In fact, the original novel is written from Apu’s perspective, so a lot of it takes place in his head. Ray does this entirely through close-ups of Apu’s face, and when he chooses to cut to them. Eyes tell a thousand stories, and an image is worth a thousand words – and it is all prevalent here. In every scene, it is so cleverly positioned that one look into the young Apu’s eyes conveys what he is feeling. You know when is staring in wonger and when he is hiding in fear. And after his sister’s death, when we get a close-up of Apu’s face, we realize he has undergone a change. He has lost the innocence in his eyes, and it is further revealed in his stride and mannerisms following the death.

Bhibutibhusan is a writer who is known for his love of nature. Ray uses this quality of Bibhutibhusan’s storytelling and uses nature for pure visual storytelling. The small village setting lends a degree of freedom and also immediate danger. It also separates the kids from outside information, thus even trivial things are exciting to Apu and Durga. Arguably, the happiest scene in the movie takes place on one bright autumn day, with the sparse clouds of Bengal sky and white kash flowers all around them, bringing in the vibes of Durga puja and joy. It is also understood very well through the symbolism of water running around.  When the good news of Harihor’s job arrives, Ray cuts to footage of the lake brimming with life, ripples formed by dragonflies flying over it. When Durga falls sick, it is the same lake and ripples, but now not formed by life, but by the strike of scary nature. The storm signals Durga’s untimely passing away and leaves the household in shackles. Water, in general, is used repeatedly as a motif, from Indira’s glass rolling over and falling into the mud signalling her death to Apu throwing the necklace in the lake as it disappears in the scum, showing us the secret has been hidden forever.

MOTIFS

Now there are three motifs that are central to the narrative-the first and second, being the Train and death both of which appear in all the three films but the third one,  is peculiar to this film only, that being Durga’s stealing tendencies if it might even be called so. 

The motif of Durga stealing is crucial as it firstly shows us that the land she steals from belonged to her father but due to past debts were seized by their relative, divulging before us their abysmal financial state and secondly –the hypocrisy of their blood relatives who don’t seem to oppose to others taking heaps and heaps of vegetable from the garden but are absolutely vexed at the sight of Durga taking mere guava. The second time we see Durga accused of stealing, only this time it’s not a mere fruit but an actual pearl necklace–till the very end of Pacher Panchali, we are led to believe that she hasn’t taken it until Apu himself chances upon the necklace. We learn so much about Apu’s character through his response to him finding the necklace. We don’t see Apu mourn her death even once but this scene shows how much he loved his sister without having him utter even one word. It is also crucial because it is an emblem of Apu’s maturity as he seems to perfectly understand what happens when the entire village comes to know about this discovery. 

Secondly, 

The motif of the train is inextricably connected to death, common to all the three films symbolizing the uncanny fact that modernity is waiting for none, though the development of the railways is supposed to be a sign of advancement, the picture we get of Harihar’s family suggests otherwise. The falsity of this dream is shattered completely in all three films, part by part. The train thus is used as a harbinger of death in the trilogy, a very conscious choice on Ray’s part. In Pather Panchali, The chuffing of the engine and the whistle sounds are heard by Apu right before Indira’s death. We hear the mention of the train by Durga while she expresses to Apu her desire to go ride the train with him moments before she dies. In the previous scene, we see them stare at it in complete awe and board it to go away to a bigger place with high hopes, and yet it is what separates them from their nature. Like everything else in the movie, the train represents a contrast. In Apu’s Sansar-the final film from the trilogy, we last see Aparna(Apu’s Beloved) sitting inside one of the compartments of the train while Apu stands outside and watches the train go by, watches Aparna go by for the last time.

Death thus becomes an inevitable force, one which is merciless. Though present in all three films, we see Apu witness it for the first time in Pather Panchali, marking the end of his innocence. When Apu brings her aunt upon the request of his mother after Durga’s death. He innocently asks his aunt if Durga is asleep? As he sees her lying with her eyes shut on his mother’s lap. This very dialogue uttered by Apu is heartbreaking because we as an audience already know the truth. We never for once see Apu mourn his sister’s death, nor do we see him mourn his parent’s death in Aparajito. Death in the trilogy like in real life, though in the most twisted fashion teaches Apu the most important lesson- the art of being resilient, doesn’t matter how many people he has lost, we see him get over his grief and find the strength to go on with his life which is all that ever mattered. 

Now the two most crucial motifs that are common to all the films in the trilogy are death and the train. Moments before we see the demise of Durga, we see her telling her brother Apu that once she gets better again, they’ll go to ride the train again. So, when Apu travels on the train for the first time, it is bitter-sweet for him. The sound of the train is the harbinger of death and a symbol of modernity, we see Apu hear it before Durga’s death. Like everything else in the movie, the train represents a contrast. They stare at it in awe and board it to go away to a bigger place with high hopes, and yet it is what separates them from their nature. the sound of the chuffing of train and the whistle is the harbinger of death itself. 

Posted in Fiction

The Trial of the Dickchopper

When super-powered beings finally started to appear on the face of Earth, it was nothing like what the countless American comics or big-budget Hollywood productions had prepared us for. And naturally, humanity didn’t have any answers. The universe didn’t cherry-pick white American boys (preferably orphans who were picked on as kids in school) who dare to face threats way beyond their capabilities and come out victorious by virtue of their good-hearted optimism. Instead, like always, the Universe made its choices randomly, without any plan or inherent purpose. The extraordinary abilities were bestowed upon people you would least expect to be called superheroes, and the powers weren’t always pretty or useful like in the movies. The powers were mostly inconvenient at their best, but some just defied any logic, while others were just downright ugly. Needless to say, we didn’t get any “superheroes,” just regular people with more issues added to their already complicated lives, now alienated by the rest of society and all the nuisance that came along with it.

This story, however, follows one of the few individuals who weirdly got the superhero status in pop culture, well, at least for a while. Dickchopper – that’s what the Internet called him, which is a very apt name if you’d ask me. With his particularly fascinating set of powers, the mononymous superhero was an Internet sensation as soon as stories about his heroics started to emerge. At first, it was just stories of a mysterious figure who came to the aid of women in danger, and naturally, most people immediately dismissed it as some new urban legend. Later, as more stories started to come in from all around, we began to see the pieces fit together. Dickchopper, from what people collectively put together, was a superhero who came to the rescue of women who were about to be raped or were under some kind of sexual attack. He would always magically appear in the scene before the crime was committed, chop the penises of the perpetrators, ensure the women’s safety and then just leave as quietly as he came.

Soon the media began to cover the issue, and police investigations were launched all around the country. But while the news channels debated his methods’ ethics, Dickchopper quickly developed a group of loyal supporters. He was the new poster boy for feminist and “Hang the Rapists” Movements, and the lib kids loved him. No one exactly knew what he looked like, but there was a litany of fan-art floating around in the world wide web. They saw him as the lone warrior, finally taking matters into his own hands and doing what it took to exterminate rape once and for all from this planet. And they weren’t wrong; in the subsequent months that followed, cases of rape and other violent crimes against women reached an all-time low, with some districts even reporting zero cases in a month. Men didn’t fear the law, but they did fear losing their masculinity. Dickchopper did in a few months what the government never could – instill fear in the minds of men who ever had an inappropriate thought about any woman. And it made the government very angry.

Questions were raised on the morality of Dickchopper’s actions. The loopholes in his justice methods were discussed at length in the papers, media, press conferences, and even the parliament. And as you’d expect, after a lot of victim-blaming and slut-shaming, the argument eventually boiled down to how Dickchopper was acting as all Judge, Jury, and executioner by himself. So, the parliament decided to put Dickchopper on trial to face the consequences of his action. The Government needed to show people who were in charge, and they wanted to put a check on Dickchopper – kind of like a fight our way or die deal.

But here was the problem, to get Dickchopper to the court, they first needed to find a way to make contact with him since nobody knew his true identity. They ran an extensive ad campaign on TV and newspapers, asking Dickchopper to come out and disclose his identity, but even after a month of campaigning, nobody came forward. Actually, that’s incorrect, a lot of pretenders did come out to get the clout, but anybody could tell they were lying just by looking at them. So the police had to come up with a better plan to catch the culprit. And the plan they came up with was indeed genius, as it helped them in two ways. At first, the scientists designed a prototype device that created an electromagnetic field around a room, which they hypothesized could stop Dickchopper from teleporting. Then the police set up a trap for him. They hired a stripper and paid her to seduce one of their own officers into sleeping with her. And once they were in the middle of the act, she was asked to start screaming and pretend she was being raped. The officer they chose for the operation also had a bad reputation, so they knew he wouldn’t immediately stop once she resisted. So, then once Dickchopper arrived at the scene, they planned to catch him before he could cause any damage. And they were right, the officer didn’t stop, and Dickchopper did arrive to stop the crime. But they did make some misjudgments in their plan of catching him before he caused any damage because from what I hear, that officer did lose a big piece of his junk that day. Luckily for them, the prototype device did its job, and Dickchopper couldn’t escape. But like I said, this plan did two things – not only was Dickchopper now in police custody, but this trap also proved that you could set up someone, and Dickchopper wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fake. And it was just what they needed.

So the stage was set, and the date of the trial had been announced. The first hearing was to be held on the fourth of May. Both parties were ready with their lawyers, all the necessary evidence, and witnesses to support their claims. Defending Dickchopper was a lawyer named Sushmita Mukherjee – a high-demand advocate from Kolkata High Court with severe ties with the left. She made a name for herself early on in her career by representing political prisoners, unprivileged women, and convicts who didn’t have the means to defend themselves in court. She was the ideal lawyer for protesters and revolutionaries, and keep in mind, despite his methods, Dickchopper was indeed considered a revolutionary by many.

So, the fateful day had arrived. Every eye and ear in the country was hooked to the screens, for they all wanted to witness this historic moment – The first-ever trial of a superhero in a court. The media coverage was relentless, with every significant network setting up their camp outside the court. The kids took it to streets, with colorful posters and celebratory chants – they were dumb enough to believe they would have any sort of effect on the outcome. Yet it was a scene to behold, thousands of people coming to the support of their superhero. #JusticeforDickchopper trended all day on Twitter, so much so that #Maythe4thbewithyou couldn’t even crack the top ten in America that day. The police van arrived at around ten in the morning, and out came of it the man of the hour.

The world had its first proper look at Dickchopper. It is weird how so many people were fighting for someone they hadn’t even seen once before, but then again, we are a species who collectively pray to deities no one has ever seen. But it was crazy to me how so much of the fan-art actually resembled his actual appearance. The super-tight red vest with a yellow penis spray-painted on the center, and his glittery blue spandex pants looked like they were ripped right out of a 70’s comic-book. Along with other accessories like belts and shoes, he also wore a big, almost comically oversized, shiny dick-shaped helmet covering half of his face – a literal dickhead, if you will. And obviously, there were some over-the-top blades attached to his wrists like wolverine, you know, for chopping the said dicks. The only things that were a complete departure from the fan-art were his small stature and a paunchy belly, compared to the herculean figure the artists portrayed.

The judge arrived last in the courtroom, and everybody stood up to greet him and then sat back down in their respective seats. The procedural was ready to begin. Dickchopper sat beside Miss Sushmita, looking not even mildly bothered by all the talks surrounding him.
Now, I must declare that everything beyond this point in the story is based on anecdotal evidence. I claim no factual accuracy to the actual proceedings since official transcripts were never released. Still, I have tried my best to do the necessary research and represent it to the best of my abilities.

The judge was an older man with a bald head and white hair on the sides. He wore giant glasses on his nose, whose presence was only comparable to Dickchopper’s helmet. His name was Dr. Samikaran Basu, which in the Bengali meant ‘equation,’ so they called him The Equalizer in the law circle. All the defendant lawyers feared him, for he was particularly ruthless in his decisions and had an old-fashioned ‘no tolerance for crime’ policy and particular hate towards the individuals with enhanced abilities. He took the center-stage and sat on the High chair as he shared pleasantries with the people around him. There was no sign of pressure on the man’s face; he looked as though he had come to watch a movie.

“Good morning, everyone,” Dr. Basu spoke finally, and the courtroom went hush. “Today, we are all gathered here for the trial of Mr…Mr…”, he stammered with an evident hesitation to pronounce Dickchopper’s name.
“Mr. Bidyut Chakraborty,” Dickchopper helped out the judge from the crowd. The police verifications later confirmed that it was indeed his real name.
“Ah, Mr. Chakraborty,” he said with a smile on his face. “Let the proceedings begin. I will hear from the defense lawyer now.”
Sushmita got up from the seat with her notes and greeted the judge with a smile on her face. “Do you have any daughters, Your Honor?” she asked.
“Yes, I do, Miss. Mukherjee,” the Equalizer replied with a straight face, completely unimpressed, “And yes, I do worry about their safety, but it would be better if you don’t try to make any sentimental play right now. Keep it brief and to the point. I don’t want any melodrama in my court; we are pretty low on time as it is.”

The smile disappeared from Sushmita’s face, and at that moment, she realized that it was not going to be as easy to win the judge over like she expected. Fortunately, she knew how to deal with the case from a situation like this and thus gave a rundown of events like a presentation and explained everything in clear bulletin points, showing why Dickchopper was pleading not guilty.

She had all statistics on how Dickchopper’s actions had brought the crime rate against women to a staggering low, previously unimaginable to the government officials or law enforcement. She argued that even though Dickchopper’s methods were harsh and borderline against the law, they saved a lot of women’s lives, saved them from being brutally raped, and in cases where the incidents would have been wholly shut otherwise or never reported, Dickchopper shed light on the evil lurking in our society and became a means for those marginalized women to stand up. There was no more room for any mercy for the rapists; it could be the Chief Minister’s son, your boss, your husband, relatives, or even your own dad – it didn’t matter. Everyone received the same punishment under Dickchopper’s justice.

“Your Honour, over the last couple of years, we have had a lot of these special individuals showing up all around the globe. Among the ones whose abilities didn’t give them terminal illnesses… at their best, they have just been selfish megalomaniacs, and at their worst, pure psychotic evil. My client here is probably the first to use his powers for the betterment of society, and in doing so, he has saved countless individuals and become an example for specially-abled people around the globe. To condemn his actions now and punish him for stepping up will set the wrong example for people everywhere.”

The judge looked barely moved by Sushmita’s opening argument, but it served its purpose, so she was not worried at all. She then brought in her witnesses – three women who were saved by Dickchopper’s heroics. They all came into the witness box and gave their testimonies one by one.

First came Seema, a 23-year-old Medical student living alone in Delhi for her studies, and she shared her story. She was out one night drinking with her friends, and it got really late. She was high and alone in a bus on her way back home. A group of boys in the bus, taking advantage of her intoxication, abducted her and took her to some shady place where they began torturing her. They made her dance and stripped her clothes, groped her, and spit on her face. She was helpless and screamed in fear of losing her life, but no one could hear her screams. She was about to be raped by four guys, and it was not even the worst possibility in her mind. They could keep her in there and torture her for months or just kill her after gang-raping her. But then, just as one of the guys was about to rape her, she heard something – a scream. And then the cries grew louder and louder. It took her some time to realize what was happening, and when she finally witnessed the scene in front of her eyes, she was filled with equal amounts of horror and pleasure. Her perpetrators laid down in front of her with their hands tightly wrapped around their crotch, screaming like animals about to be slaughtered. There was blood all over the floor, along with chopped dicks. And amidst the horrific scene stood a mysterious lone figure in his silly costume. But before she could say anything, the ghostly figure had disappeared.
“I saw the opportunity and ran for my life,” Seema said, “Your Honor if I’m alive today, it’s because of Dickchopper. I don’t know if he did the lawful thing that day; that’s for you to decide. But he did the right thing, and for that, he will always be a hero to me.”

The Equalizer thanked her for being brave and deciding to share her story and then called for the second witness, Gauhar – a middle-aged housewife from a rural village in Bihar. She didn’t like talking much, so she just explained the details in brief. She was working in the field like every day when she was attacked by the local landlord’s son. The landlord owned the land where her husband did his farming and where she was currently working. She belonged to a poor lower caste family, and it was evident that it was a hate crime. The landlord’s son pinned her to the ground and was about to rape her in the field, but Dickchopper came in the last second and saved the day again.
The prosecutors had their notes ready – they knew how to find the fault in these women’s stories – somehow try to put the blame on the women’s character, or find some logic to justify how the men hadn’t committed any major crime yet, before receiving such a harsh punishment. But Sushmita was prepared for this; she was yet to present her trump card. She called a middle-aged woman into the witness box. The woman introduced herself as the mother of Shafiya. The whole court went silent, for they recognized the name. Shafiya’s story was highly publicized in the media and it was a big talking point when it happened. It was Diwali, and Shafiya’s whole family had gathered to celebrate the festival of lights together. Among them was Bilal, Shafiya’s uncle from her mother’s side. Bilal was one of them, the ones with abilities. He could multiply his body into other copies of himself, but his original body aged up by a year each time he made a new copy. The bodies shared the same consciousness, and both felt each other’s senses. But any damage to the copy or even its death didn’t affect the original at all. So that night, the horny bastard planned to use one of his copies to fuck his 5-year-old niece in her sleep. He knew Dickchopper would come for him, but he still couldn’t resist the urge, which is why he sent one of his copies for the job – he planned to kill the copy and erase all evidence once Dickchopper chopped its penis and was gone. It was a neat plan, except it didn’t work. Dickchopper just chopped off both of their dicks in the end.

Nobody in the court knew how to react to the story. Even the prosecutors didn’t know how to find holes in it. Everyone just quietly sat there and stared at the mother of the young girl, sobbing uncontrollably in the witness box, with a general sense of disappointment in the human species. The Equalizer was not a stranger to criminals and the cruelties of this rotten world, but even he was in shock. Despite him trying his best to stay impartial, he was grateful that Dickchopper was there to save the day that night.
“Your Honor,” Sushmita speaks up, “we are here today deciding whether the actions of this man (pointing at Dickchopper) are justifiable. I just want you to look at the face of this mother and tell me that you’d rather have her child die or live a life in trauma than that animal be made impotent?”

“If you put a stop to Dickchopper’s actions today,” Sushmita continued, “you inadvertently risk thousands of women like these to go through what they did, with no one to protect them, while giving the perpetrators a chance to walk away freely.”
Dr. Samikaran didn’t answer her question, but she knew her job was done and was pretty happy with the results. It was time for the prosecutors to cross-examine the witnesses, but a lot of what they had to say was tremendously undercut by Shafiya’s story, and Sushmita countered their points masterfully – she was on a roll. So, the prosecutors quickly brought in their witnesses.
Rajarshi Dasgupta walked into the witness box. He represented the ridiculously titled organization ‘#MenToo,’ which started as an organization seeking justice for men wrongly accused of rape. But now, they worked to fight for the men who were apparently framed and lost their manhood to Dickchopper’s slaughter and made sure their voices were heard. He opened his testimony by introducing himself and his organization along with a bunch of logistics.

“I have been fighting this fight for a long time,” he said, “ever since the rise of these fake feminists in this world, our words have lost their meaning. No matter what, in the court, a woman’s word has always been given more weight than whatever a man has to say for himself. Who knows how many of my brothers are serving time in jail right now for crimes they didn’t commit. And let’s not even talk about how every man is considered a criminal in the court of public opinion once accused of such a crime, even before he is found guilty. But at least earlier, a man had a chance to defend himself lawfully in front of the court; it was his right – he still had hope. But now, that right has been thrown out of the window. Dickchopper decides who is guilty and who is not. I want to ask Dickchopper, how do you make the choice? Is it because they are men? Because honestly, we all know women abuse men too, but I haven’t heard of any Pussysmasher? What gives you the right to decide who’s guilty?”

Dickchopper sat there in silence without batting an eyelid, not showing even an ounce of interest in his own trial.
“Your Honor, I have met so many men who this mad man has attacked. They are sweet and polite men, framed into situations by women who tried to paint them as rapists. Instead of giving them a fair chance to prove their innocence, this man took away their manhood forever, and they were instantly declared criminals. I would like to ask, how does Dickchopper identify whether a distress call is real or fake? Because, from what I have read about his capture, didn’t he try to attack an innocent police officer who was set up in a trap by a prostitute?”

“Your Honor, I would like to answer that question,” Sushmita asks, and the Equalizer gives her permission.
“I have read all police records of the night Dickchopper was captured, and I think there’s one detail there everyone seems to forget. While the woman did set up a trap at the request of the police and seduced the policeman into having sex with her, once she started to scream and tried to push him off, it is worth noting that the policeman didn’t stop and forced himself onto her, until Dickchopper finally arrived at the scene. So, technically he did try to rape her.”
“So, you are basing your argument on a technicality?” The prosecutor jumped in.
“No, I am just pointing out that Dickchopper did sense some threat there, and maybe if he hadn’t come in, the policeman would have raped her.”
“But the policeman didn’t do it yet, did he?”
“Yeah, that’s my point. The policeman didn’t do it yet, but Dickchopper arriving there means he would have most probably gone through with it. Dickchopper doesn’t catch criminals once the crime is committed, like the police, he catches them before they commit the crime, so that the poor victims do not have to suffer.”
“Who are you calling a poor victim? That prostitute was the one who asked for it,” Rajarshi remarked.
“Mr. Dasgupta, I think you have forgotten that a woman has the right to ask a man to stop if she feels uncomfortable, even if she’s the one who initiated the proceedings,” Sushmita reminded Rajarshi and he went silent as he couldn’t think of how to reply to her comeback.

Then, Sushmita and the prosecution lawyer both went into detailed arguments over the morality of Dickchopper’s methods – declaring people guilty without trial and punishing them even before they commit the crime. While they both made compelling arguments, none of them could prove each other wrong in any way ultimately. If you have ever read sci-fi stories, it’s a question a lot of writers have pondered over in the past, going back to Philip K Dick’s The Minority Report – but I don’t think any of them deciphered the correct answer to the question, so I wasn’t expecting two lawyers to figure it out in a courtroom either. Still, they both tried their best to downplay each other. Dr. Samikaran Basu sat through the entirety of the argument, thinking to himself whether there was a philosophically correct answer. As someone who studied Law extensively, he truly believed in Law to be the final answer to everything, but he did wonder whether sometimes Law wasn’t enough. When super-powered beings first arrived at the scene, Samikaran had put his support towards the Metahuman Rehabilitation Bill, or the MRB, a Bill that once passed, would allow the police to capture any human with enhanced abilities on sight, and then experiment on them to find a cure for their illness. And in case such a cure was never found, they were to be imprisoned for life or terminated. He believed it was the only way to restore balance in this chaotic world, but now looking at Dickchopper sitting peacefully in his chair, he wondered whether he was too quick to jump to conclusions. “Maybe I misunderstood them. Maybe they could help us achieve things that we could never imagine alone,” he thought to himself.

After that, the court took a thirty-minute break for lunch, and when they returned, it was finally Dickchopper’s turn to get into the witness box. He slowly walked into the box and rested his ass on the chair without making any noise.
“So, Mr. Bidyut Chatterjee,” The Equalizer began his questions, “You appear to be a Brahmin by name, is that correct?”
“Yes,” Dickchopper answered in a calm and poised voice, “I used to be a priest.”
“Oh, is that so? Where may I ask?”
“Here in Kolkata, in a Kali Temple near Dharmatala.”
“Oh nice,” Samikaran said and wrote something down in his notepad. “Well, then how you get to this condition?”
Dickchopper sat there in silence for a while, refusing to answer. Sushmita had come to his cell last night and discussed with him exactly how to reply to every question. He was told to briefly answer all of the Judge’s questions and never speak more than he needed. They had gone through his story several times, and she made him promise to not say anything more than what she had approved.
“She cursed me…” he spoke, his voice beginning to crack, “That bitch put a curse on me and turned me into this. I prayed to her every day, didn’t make any compromises in her service, and this is how she repays me – by turning me into a monster.”
Sushmita rose from her seat in shock, trying to send a signal to Dickchopper, telling him to stop. Dickchopper hadn’t told this part of the story to her, for she would have never approved of anyone to say anything like that in the court.

Judge Samikaran was as surprised as anyone in the court. He took off his glasses and asked Dickchopper, “So you think you are a monster?”
“Look at me? What else do you think I am?” There’s a sad undertone in his voice like he could break any moment now. “I can’t smell, I can’t touch, I can’t taste… I have no one or nowhere to go. I exist in a limbo, a dead man walking, but she won’t even let me die. Just because your officers captured me, I finally got a chance to interact with humans since she turned me into this. Or else, the only time I get to see humans is when I am randomly teleported somewhere to attack men.”

Sushmita just stood perplexed in her place, for she had never heard any part of this story before in any of her visits to Dickchopper in preparation for this case. The prosecution lawyer panicked too and quickly started preparing his notes, finding ways of using the details from this story against Dickchopper. Dr. Samikaran Basu gave it some thought and then said, “I can’t bear to imagine how much pain you have had to suffer, it seems with every power there comes a curse, and I’m truly sorry that you have to deal with it. But could you please, for the clarification of the court, explain how exactly your powers work?”
Dickchopper took a deep breath and explained, “I don’t know how it works, but I can constantly hear cries of women in my head. It’s maddening, but I can’t keep it out. It only intensifies with time. Sometimes the cries get louder, and I am teleported against my wish to some unknown location. In the beginning, it was mind-numbing – I was being teleported to a new place almost every other second. But over time, the frequency decreased, and I had to teleport less, but the pain just continues to grow anyhow. And as soon as I was teleported somewhere, it was like I was in some sort of trance. Blades would involuntarily come out of my hands, and I had to do what I had to do. And each time I chopped their private parts, I would feel the same pain they did, only theirs would stop someday, while mine lasted forever… I really can’t take it anymore.” He completely lost it at this point and started sobbing in front of everybody.
The Equalizer didn’t know how to react or what to ask next, as he was just completely overwhelmed by what he just heard. As a matter of fact, nobody knew how to respond; thus, they remained stationary in their positions.

“I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m sick of myself,” Dickchopper continued by himself, despite tears rolling down his eyes, “You are here discussing how I know whether a man is guilty before attacking him. The truth is, I don’t know. I just follow her orders. I don’t know if the men I have hurt are innocent, the same way I don’t if the women present there were innocent. What I do know is that it is never a one-sided affair; it takes both of them, so why should it always be only one side’s fault? When I am there at a scene, and I look into the eyes of the women I save, I can tell they want it too, but she won’t see that. She only sees the fault in men. I can’t take it anymore. Please kill me, or imprison me… do whatever you want. I just don’t want to do this anymore.”
Sushmita sank in the chair with her hands covering her mouth in disbelief. She just couldn’t believe what she was hearing. The man she considered a hero, for whom she was ready to fight any battle, was a scumbag who was against everything she stood for. All this time, she had been defending a sexist piece of shit, portraying him as the Savior of humanity and women around the world. She suddenly went back, reconsidering all her choices leading up to this point, to reconsider whether she was doing the right thing. She wondered if she could hate a man yet still be a fan of his work. “Separate the art of the artist,” they say, but Sushmita knew it wasn’t that easy.

On the other hand, the prosecutors were the happiest people in the world at the moment. Everything they wanted to charge Dickchopper with, the man had practically said it all himself.
But The Equalizer was disappointed. For a brief moment, he had come to see Dickchopper as a hero. But his words reduced his reputation to back the dirt. “Maybe I was right; these meta freaks can never be good.”
“Well, I don’t know what to say. I will need time to decide what you are guilty of or about your sentence. But before that, I need to ask, who is the woman you refer to as ‘she’?”
“Maa Shakti,” Dickchopper replied with hesitation.
“Another act of God…” Samikaran wondered – out of all the ways humans inherited power, he found it particularly irresponsible when it was due to some God’s meddling. “Why did she curse you particularly? After all, she was the goddess you prayed to.”
“Like I said, she only cares for the women. She has no mercy for us men in her heart,” Dickchopper replied, anger fuming in his voice.
“Okay, that will be sufficient, I believe,” Samikaran replied with a sigh, “just one last thing, did you ever think you were doing the right thing?”
“I never did anything; my actions were never mine…”

The Equalizer nodded with a frustrated smile on his face, and Dickchopper was escorted back to his seat. He sat beside Sushmita, but she avoided any eye contact with him altogether. The court was adjourned for the day, with the next session scheduled a month later. Everything Dickchopper confessed to in the witness box was immediately made public to the media, so the government could show its people that they were right all along. It created chaos all over the media. Those who were against Dickchopper had found their weapon, while even some of his most ardent supporters couldn’t stand behind him anymore. He was more controversial than he ever was and the diversity of opinions on his actions increased drastically. Some people hated him for what he did, some hated him for what he said, but some still believed he shouldn’t be imprisoned. They thought his actions brought a significant change in the world, and his personality or intentions didn’t matter. “Separate the art from the artist,” they said.

Meanwhile, the police launched an investigation to do a background check on Dickchopper, aka Bidyut Chatterjee, to verify if he was telling the truth about himself. It turns out he was, but only partially. His name was indeed Bidyut Chatterjee, and he was a priest in a Kali temple in Dharmatala. He was unmarried, and his parents had both passed away long ago. But the part he forgot to mention was about how or why the Goddess of Power had cursed him. By tracking down some old police records and investigating their leads, the investigators were able to uncover the true story. They found the girl, who Bidyut had violated in the temple. She had put up a complaint in the police station, but nobody ever looked into it.
Her parents couldn’t get her married, so they went to the temple for Devi’s blessings. Bidyut told them she would find a suitable groom within a month, only if she did this puja with him as an offering to Maa Shakti. Her parents agreed happily, and the next day sent her to the temple in the afternoon for the puja. But once she was alone with Bidyut in the temple, he touched her inappropriately. She fought back and somehow managed to escape that day. She went directly to the police and put up a complaint, but they didn’t care to investigate further. She even told her parents, but instead of believing her, they forced her to go to the temple again the next day. This time, Bidyut didn’t just let her run away. He locked the temple from inside, undressed her himself, and then forced her into submission as he violated her right in front of the deity’s idol. But then suddenly, a bright light lit up the room, and out of nowhere, Maa Shakti appeared in front of her. Before she could comprehend the situation, both Maa Shakti and Bidyut had vanished. She laid on the floor out of shock for a while, then she slowly got dressed and left. She tried to tell people what had happened, but obviously, no one believed her until now when the police finally conducted their investigation and did their job. So there you go, that’s Dickchopper’s origin story.

The trial went as expected after that. Sushmita tried her best to fight the case since she had already taken it, but her heart was not in it, and it was a lost cause anyway. Pretty much everyone knew Dickchopper would be found guilty at the end of the trial; all that was left to be seen was what punishment The Equalizer deemed worthy of his crimes. But Samikaran was still stuck in his philosophical dilemma. He knew the statistics showed that Dickchopper’s existence decreased the crime rate against women by a staggering number. To eliminate him would mean losing all that progress and putting the lives of all women back in danger. And although Dr. Samikaran didn’t practice any religion, he realized that it was God’s will to create Dickchopper, so who was he to decide if Dickchopper should be allowed to exist in the world? Wasn’t his mere existence a punishment from the Goddess for his actions? On the other hand, he truly believed no innocent man should ever be punished for crimes he didn’t commit, and there was no way to know for sure whether Dickchopper could authentically identify an actual crime before it happening. The judge inside him knew that he couldn’t just let the man walk away freely.

After a lot of thinking, The Equalizer finally decided not to make any judgments based on Dickchopper’s actions, for it was out of his domain. Instead, he established his assessment purely on the actions of Bidyut Chatterjee. Thus based on article 375, Bidyut was sentenced to twenty years in prison on the charges of raping a woman. A fitting yet ironic end to the story of the man who almost put an end to rape.

But unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there because, after the imprisonment of Dickchopper, crime against women and rape cases in the country skyrocketed to an all-time high. The world started feeling the absence of Dickchopper, as the government institutions were simply insufficient to stop these crimes. So, finding themselves in a vulnerable position and amidst a tremendous amount of backlash, the government was forced to release Dickchopper from prison within a year of his sentence. They decided that the fate given to him by the Gods was a much better punishment for him than anything the prison had to offer. Soon, things went back to the way they were, with Dickchopper back there to protect women and chop every dick that tried to violate them.
I don’t know why I decided to tell this story since, in the end, the trial didn’t even matter. But maybe it did. You see, after seeing how letting Dickchopper do his thing helped the society function better, the world slowly began to realize that perhaps it wasn’t necessary to alienate the people with special abilities. They saw the potential in what they could achieve by putting use to their abilities. So, they slowly began to accept the differences in nature and help each other build a better society. We are still not a perfect society by any means, it’s still a freak-show out here, but we are at a much better place than when humans tried to suppress the emerging meta-human species. Maybe that’s why I decided to tell this story, because sometimes it takes some absurd people and absurd ideas to make sense of this absurd universe.

Posted in Interviews, music

Music Interviews : Rozu

  1. Would you guys please introduce yourselves and explain your role in the band?
    Hey guys, this is Tim
    Graham (vocals), DJ Sundine (guitar), Henry Navarre (bass), and Brian Robertson (drums).
  2. Where did you guys meet and how did you form this band? We all kind of met through different stages
    of life in the Denver music scene where we reside. Tim and DJ were in a previous band together and
    through the process of that band dissolving they started coming up with ideas for this band. Brian was in
    this other band that played with Tim and DJ’s old band and Henry was a mutual friend through Tim’s
    friends and we all kind of got together and wanted to start something special, and sure enough Rozu was
    born.
  3. What kind of music do you make or would like to make in the future? We ride a very fine line of
    metalcore and post hardcore music. So far fans and consumers have only heard our heavy side, but we
    have been writing some really cool classic post hardcore jams throughout the quarantine.
  4. What do you enjoy the most about the process of making music together? Really when it comes down
    to it, we all have a very similar mindset when it comes to the studio and writing process. We don’t allow
    ourselves to stick to a formula and let the music flow out of us which gives fans something different with
    every song that still has the Rozu sound we have been trying to perfect.
  5. What are some of your favourite themes to explore through your music? Lyrically our main themes are
    experiences Tim has gone through or currently going through. We really want to leave that message that
    yes, we all hit low points and go through shit situations but there is always a light or beacon of hope. It’s
    cliché for this genre but we want consumers who are maybe going through the same feelings to know that
    they are not alone.
  6. Who are some artists that you love or who you’d say has had a huge influence on your work? A lot of
    our influences for this project come from the likes of Underoath, Like Moths to Flames, Wage War, Fit
    For a King, and The Plot in You.
  7. Where can someone looking for your music, find it? We are on every streaming platform, but the
    easiest way to get connected with us is heading to http://www.rozuband.com.
  8. What’s your favourite part about touring/ doing live performances? Well to be completely honest the
    live show is really our payoff or reward for all the work we put into this band. Touring, and studio time,
    and everything that goes into making a band is seriously hard work and can take a huge toll on people.
    It’s fun yes but especially touring is super hard being away from your loved ones for periods of time and
    sacrifices a lot of times missed. Having people give a damn and coming to shows is the payoff for all that
    hard work and tough days.
  9. What kind of message would you like to give your fans, through your music? We touched on it a little
    earlier, but we just want fans to know that they are not alone in their hardships of life. This music for us is
    our therapeutic release and having fans connect with it and feel they are a part of it is the true beauty of
    music across the board. We all have different walks of life, but a live show setting is a place where
    everyone actually comes together for a collective cause and is a beautiful sight.
  10. Where do you guys see yourselves in the future, or what are you future plans for the band? Currently
    we are just waiting patiently for the world to open back up. We have been working tirelessly for so long
    on our debut album and we just can’t wait to release that and be allowed to travel again!
Posted in books, Poetry

Songs Voices Never Share is available for free on Google Playstore. Grab your copies Now!

Get your free e-copy of Songs Voices Never Share now from Google Play Books!

Posted in books, Poetry

Songs Voices Never Share is available to purchase for free on Amazon Kindle. Only for Today! Grab your Free Copies Now!

Get your free copy of my debit poetry book, Songs Voices Never Share, from Amazon Kindle. Hurry Fast, Offer valid only for today.
https://www.amazon.com/Songs-Voices-Never-Share-Bagchi-ebook/dp/B09513QFHX/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Posted in books, Poetry

Songs Voices Never Share is Now Available as Paperback on Amazon. Get Your Copy Now!

Get your copy of Songs Voices Never Share. Now available on Amazon.
https://www.amazon.in/Songs-Voices-Never-Share-Bagchi/dp/1639207767/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

“I stand tall in the face of armageddon and pluck my guitar,
The words just come to me like drippings of melted sugar.”

Songs Voices Never Share chronicles the tale of a lonely bird as he embarks on an epic journey of self-discovery through the heart of music, filled with references to Greek Mythos. He meets a string of interesting characters on his way, each with their own unique stories to tell, as they all help him understand his true place in the world. A modern-day parable to the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice – Songs Voices Never Share is about all those thoughts and memories that remain unsaid or somewhere lost in time. The poems in this collection make the reader question the true meaning of dreams, hope, love, and the price that artists pay to sing the songs of those unheard.

Posted in books, Poetry

Songs Voices Never Share – My Debut Poetry Collection

I’m so excited to announce that my debut poetry book is finally out for purchase worldwide. I started working on this collection last year, about the same time as when I started this blog. Thanks to everyone who has supported me on this blog, it wouldn’t have been possible without you. Your support means a lot me. Now, please show my book some love too.

Here’s the link to the Amazon page. Do check it out, and I hope you enjoy it!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09513QFHX

Book Blurb from the Back Cover:

“I stand tall in the face of armageddon and pluck my guitar,
The words just come to me like drippings of melted sugar.”

Songs Voices Never Share chronicles the tale of a lonely bird as he embarks on an epic journey of self-discovery through the heart of music, filled with references to Greek Mythos. He meets a string of interesting characters on his way, each with their own unique stories to tell, as they all help him understand his true place in the world. A modern-day parable to the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice – Songs Voices Never Share is about all those thoughts and memories that remain unsaid or somewhere lost in time. The poems in this collection make the reader question the true meaning of dreams, hope, love, and the price that artists pay to sing the songs of those unheard.

Thanks again for all your support! And do tell me what you think of the book if you get a chance to read it.

Posted in Interviews, music

Music Interviews : Ade Fabola

Would you guys please introduce yourselves and explain your role in the band?
a. I’m Ade Fabola, solo singer-songwriter. I write, perform and record my songs together with
the folks at Animal Farm Records.

Where did you guys meet and how did you form this band?
a. For the most part my band is just me, I’m mostly a solo act. I do have a few friends that I
get together to jam with, record demos etc. As for my recently released record, and the
ones to come in 2021, the instrumentation features myself and the folks at the Animal
Farm Label.

What kind of music do you make or would like to make in the future?
a. My music is a blend of folk, blues, Jazz and world music. It’s predominantly acoustic and
driven by warm nylon string guitars that produce intricate melodies. My sound is
predominantly warm and it’s characterized by soft, soulful vocals paired with precise guitar
fingerpicking. My vocal timbre is similar (as I’ve been told) to that of Tracy Chapman and
Jack Johnson, and my guitar style is somewhat evocative of that of Passenger and Tallest
Man on Earth. These are all fairly loose comparisons, of course. They’re influences and
sources of inspiration.

What do you enjoy the most about the process of making music together?
a. I love it when everything in a song – lyrics, melodies, instrumentation ideas – comes
rushing altogether, all at once. Like one moment you have an idea in your head and the
next you can hear it out in the open with other people. I feel like we underestimate how
cool it is to make an inanimate object sing, and to do so in such a way that it all gels
together is really cool.

What are some of your favorite themes to explore through your music?
a. My music tends to explore themes around love, kindness, gratitude and socio-political
happenings. For the most part I like to keep things light-hearted, as it’s a key ingredient in
making music that’s suitable for easy listening. That said, music, and art generally is so
powerful in effecting change and spreading messages so if I have a message burning on
my heart, I have to get it out there.

Who are some artists that you love or who you’d say has had a huge influence on your work?
a. I love Passenger, Tallest Man on Earth, Jack Johnson, Tracy Chapman, and Jason Mraz.
These are some of my favorite artists that have influenced my musical style over the
years. Bob Dylan’s music is also a big one for me; in fact, Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright is
probably the song that made me want to learn fingerstyle guitar.

Where can someone looking for your music, find it?
a. My music is available on all the streaming platforms – Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube,
Bandcamp and so on. Listeners can also keep in touch and stay up to date with my
socials; I’m @DrFabola on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

What’s your favorite part about touring/ doing live performances?
a. I love being able to connect with the crowd; there’s something about being on stage that
makes me vulnerable and strong at the same time, it truly is my happy place.

What kind of message would you like to give your fans, through your music?
a. I’d like to thank new listeners for taking the time to listen, for taking a chance on new
artists like me. I hope that my music makes them feel good. I hope that listening to my
music will give folks a warm, fuzzy feeling in their core, a feeling that reminds us of what it
means to be human, to take pleasure in the little things and to be kind to each other.

Where do you guys see yourselves in the future, or what are you future plans for the band?
a. The plan is to make and release more music and keep enjoying the process. I wrote a lot
in 2020 and was fortunate to record a bunch of songs which will be coming out this year.
Something Good is just the start, the first of those songs, so there’s a lot more coming
later in the year (the next one will be announced real soon :)).
b. I’ve been writing away in lockdown and I’m looking forward to when we can get back in
the studio to record more. When things get better, it would be nice to go out and play
these songs live, maybe even go on tour when the logistics allow, but for now I’m focused
on making music and building my online following.

Posted in Interviews, music

Music Interviews : Simon from story metal band – Pressure

Would you guys please introduce yourselves and explain your role in the band?
My name is Simon and I am the lead guitarist and songwriter for the band Pressure. I have
been playing guitar for over 30 years now and its in my blood. I live for my music and its with
me everywhere I go. I am also the songwriter of the band and because of that I look for new
stories and inspiration everywhere!

Where did you guys meet and how did you form this band?
The story of the band began when Emil signed up as a guitar student of mine. I liked him but he needed to get out and play! So… when I had the chance I got him involved in my bands.
Actually it was as a bass player first. He had to learn like 60 songs in two weeks. But it went well
and after that gig we agreed we could do more with two guitars and my regular bass player also returned. We played the cover/party scene for many years before starting to rewrite songs.
When we did that we started to look for a frontman, a real lead vocalist. We looked long and
hard and eventually found our Messenger, Mr. Olol Jönsson.

What kind of music do you make or would like to make in the future?
We do story metal. Story metal is a sub genre of heavy metal with heavy focus on the lyrics and
the moods of the songs. Therefore, the songs reflects the lyrics and each song has it own sound.
Story metal is based upon true stories and experiences. I challenge each and everyone that write
music that if you don’t dare to live life how could you write or do music about life? There is so
many stories that needs to be told. The music has its roots in heavy metal, but also have
influences from metalcore, thrash metal, folk music and modern rock. All focus is on the mood
of the song and the connection to the listener. Each song has a double meaning and you are
encouraged to interpret the song as you would like it to be interpreted.

What do you enjoy the most about the process of making music together?
The processes we have seems kind of complex but we love it. It almost always start with that I
am getting an idea, or is told a story. I get inspiration and need to write it. It all comes to me at
once and I have to write it. Its like an urge! I usually record a draft of the song. I record
everything from drums to the vocals and then I show the band after this our lead singer takes
over and adapts the song for his voice, and changes the lyrics and phrases to fit the song. I get it back and redo the draft and we keep doing this until we are satisfied and then we start to record it. We learn much from each other during the process and I really enjoy this. We build the
mood of the song together and everyone in the band has a say about how they find the song and react to it.

What are some of your favorite themes to explore through your music?
Our upcoming album is called “Path of a Shadow” and has been with me for over two years. It’s
the story of your life but told from your own shadow. Your shadow is someone who is always
around for everything that you experience. Your shadow is not judgmental or does not try to
make you into something you are not. So there is a lot of stories that the Shadow tells you. A lot
of truths. So I guess my answer to this questions is that I really want to write about life and the
pressures around you.

Who are some artists that you love or who you’d say has had a huge influence on your work?
Oh, there is so many good artists. I love music that tell a story and therefore I want to say the
Swedish band Sabaton. They do power metal about different historical moments. Their music is
so powerful and its so well performed. I love the whole act.

Where can someone looking for your music, find it?
Here are some links for you to follow!
Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/pressuresweden

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/pressuresweden
WWW
https://www.pressure.band
Youtube
https://www.youtube.com/c/Pressuresweden
Spotify
https://open.spotify.com/artist/7a9rKp03MYJv4leDN7Mm8k
Merch
https://shop.spreadshirt.se/pressure

What’s your favorite part about touring/ doing live performances?
The favorite part must be the connection you get with the audience. I love to talk to people and
to get their views on our music. Meeting new friends, making new enemies and just getting the
reaction is my favorite part!

What kind of message would you like to give your fans, through your music?
Our band is called Pressure and it is based upon our music. We do songs that are based upon
different kind of Pressures around us. Everyone has pressures in their life. It can be good or bad
pressures, but they still exist. We want to address the pressures and help people to handle their
life. We want our music to be used as tools to empower our listeners and make them understand that they are strong and that they are not alone with their kind of pressures and stories!

Where do you guys see yourselves in the future, or what are you future plans for the band?
We are releasing our album in the beginning of May and we are really looking forward to that.
After that we have a lot of things coming as well. There are some new singles that are already
recorded and we have an German EP coming as well so there is a lot of things happening!