Beneath the Veil


The  wise and wonderful typically grace my life through words and images. It has been  both a fortuitous  and propitious fairy god mother till date.

Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, had come to me in three forms: because Lizzie Bennet sang it in Pride and Prejudice, and because it was the song played by Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, and of course,  from the movie Amadeus. ( My daughters remind me that there is a Tom and Jerry special on Figaro too! Oh, yesss!)

There is something intriguingly interconnected herein- music and words and images.

Octavo Paz in his essay on Baudelaire as art critic, speaks on Analogy as the highest form of imagination, since it fuses analysis and synthesis, translation and creation..’It transforms communication into creation: what painting says without telling, turns into what music paints without painting, and what- without ever expressly mentioning it- the poetic word enunciates..’

He goes to explain what Baudelaire felt on listening to Wagner, specifically to the overture to Lohengrin. “.. Released from the fetters of gravity…in a solitude with an  immense horizon and a diffuse light; immensity with no integrity other than itself….then I conceived clearly the idea of a soul moving in a luminous atmosphere, an ecstasy composed of voluptuousness and knowledge.”


I get to explore two classic screenplays: Chinatown by Robert Towne and Kurt Luedtke’s Out of Africa. The latter  also gives me Mozart back.

‘ A woman can veil her face with a smile,’ is a quote attributed to Khalil Gibran.I imagine  the beautiful and tragic Evelyn  Cross in Chinatown and the luminous  and indomitable Baroness Blixen in Out of Africa . How very true in both the women.

What is it that Paz wrote? “The painter translates the word into visual images; the critic is a poet who translates lines and colours into words. The artist is the universal translator. True, that translation is transmutation…”

The dots get interconnected. I am awed by the Grace.


That Human Spirit

Reese Witherspoon led me to the original book  ‘Wild’, by Cheryl Strayed. The  edgy depiction of the ‘almost destroyed -but fighting it out- and winning it back mile by mile-woman,’ appealed to me. Every painful step on the PCT, with and without boots, every epiphany about life, loss, love and self reclamation enchanted this viewer. That of course, led to the book.

The power of literature to redeem was again proven true. Cheryl is one hell of a talented, gritty, erudite,absolutely honest woman. And her gift with words is amazing. Her honesty sometimes is too sharp and makes you bleed- along with her. I wished she added one sentence about her 6 toe nails, wager lost to the excruciating trail of thousand one hundred miles-after 20 years! I just wanted to hear that she still painted them- lost and found like herself- with brightest colours that radiate her indefatigable spirit. Proud of you lady!!! And by the way, I really wanted to know if you completed that pending five page literature assignment and got your degree .You made one reader to ” put herself in the path of beauty out there.”

That Stephen King had written the original book ” Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” I had not known. I had read the script and loved it. The movie was spectacular too. I remembered the fact that human beings can be the most bestial of all living creatures as I watched it. And yes, my respect for the triumphant human spirit soared, like that Italian lady’s beautiful voice, symbolising everything free and unconquerable within.

” Frida” was surreal. Salma Hayek was elegant and fiery and vulnerable and so cool as Frida Kahlo. The story enthralled with its colours-on dresses, on canvases, on animals, on the outdoors. The muddied colours of human loyalties, love, attractions, vices were stark yet not surprising. Frida’s brilliance in both her intellectual curiosity and in her art, her vitality stunted by the horrible accident, her intense love  for Diego, her haplessness in front of her own vulnerability, her casual and detached affairs, her nightmares, and her paintings depicting that inner turmoil- it was one visual treat. Scenes which remain poignantly in my memory- a 14 year old radiant school girl debating on Communist philosophy  with her boy friend in a rickety bus . Her love of life bursting all around her, vivacity that is almost palpable as she touches the gold powder someone is carrying . ..The way she paints butterflies all over her body cast as she lies crushed on her bed, fighting death. Everyday, Frida Kahlo lived with great spirit. And she did not want to return.

Of all the movies I treated myself to, re watching a few favourites like Sense and Sensibility ( I do love Hugh Grant’s dead pan humour!) Jane Eyre, Six days Seven nights among them, my thoughts go back to the ones which celebrated the human spirit. Movies, like books ,can be energising. And in this business of daily living, we need examples  of the highest in human nature that battle it out with our lowest and  emerge triumphing.