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Bollywood Lyric

Deus ex machina! Not all movies are Westerns.

Or musicals either, though John Wayne started out
as 'The Singing Cowboy'. And then there is 'Sholay'.
And spaghetti westerns. And in all of them
a painted panorama with a sunset like
a dragged man. Paint stiffened and dragged like Hector
at Troy, or a Christian in the Technicolour
arenas of 1950s imperial Rome (Troy, the sequel).
Sunsets are like gods, they go up and down.

And "actors are beautiful and a little like gods,
with the same public, pandemonious sex lives.
And in this particular deus ex machina
there is the suggestion in the actor of a blue
god playing in the background like a day moon
or a rock star. Astrological family romance -
the governing stars, the fool who speaks in couplets
and somewhere there the chorus singing now of

'Krishna and Radha in the Dance of Love'.
And leading them is the serious courtesan
and she'd learnt from the time of her capture
"the twin arts of poetry and of music
specifically the ghazal, that bi-valve bird
of couplets, one wing spread, the other wing
the rhyme that comes and then returns its self
to its small self, a mirrored or projected thing.

But the subtitles can't do it; they say instead
that "the moon alone, in night's embrace, rode in fire-
flies on a palanquin of stars. And the two gods
were there in the lovers, an architectonic
pop star and her boy, shouldered by the disco chintz
of the river. And the camera plays there like a faun,
cuts there then comes back to that narratological
lady. And she sings "On the banks of the Yamuna
Krishna and Radha in the Dance of Love.

But "where does Krishna end and Radha begin?
Krishna was a blue god, an aphrodisiac
oyster on the studio river banks, suggested
by an actor (future politician) and all-round
good guy (former professional villain) and his love,
a "woman-child with a milk pot, a garlanded
cow-girl. And the rub, when it comes, is that despite
(or perhaps because of) the "many gifts of fate the

I N T E R M I S S I O N

sees him thwarted, and, like the god his character
suggests, "his love is married to another. For,
(from the back of the DVD) "little is certain
in the realm of human relationship. So he waits:
for the inevitable end, where the final frame
will frame his dying thoughts (the text, in subtitles,
"where did it go, my childhood?) but also for
the deus ex machina, that comes in the flash

of lightning on statues, a shattered temple,
two scattered families miraculously united
in song, the westernized girl returned to a sari,
things that were lost, returned; vengeance had; deities
channeled; death enacted; the carnival finale
played and then replayed in the afternoon
and then at night. Even, in the evening, walking out
of the theatre into the sky "like the moon,
on a palanquin of stars is like a ride

into the sunset it feels so pure and final
though the sunset always happens again, it's good
that way a reliable kind of device
it has a Swiss soul like the Alps where Bollywood
lovers go for abstract dream-scapes where they can wear
what they want (lycra) and they can kiss without kissing
and not worry about their parents or about Fate
who stands high on the hill a lonely goatherd
while the soft Teutonic extras flock and shake

in pastoral breezes - they never act, they just spectate -
it's nice to be so honest about drama! It's
like that place you find if you want to look between
the screen and the projector where the air turns slight
and milky as though it held up a blue god.
And, like the back of a DVD you could say
that "the machinery of gods is slight and terrible
or "the camera is a god and the projector
is a blue god, blue, filled with things and images,

but empty like a god, and if you're blue yourself
you can kill a Sunday afternoon with movies
and pretend that there's no world between the picture
and the thing, like in that dream I had, my favourite
dream, where an outdoor movie screen that showed the moon
shifted and blew out, till the screen was just the sky,
and the sky was just the screen, and the eye that looked
(deus ex machina) thought "the moon was just the moon.

 

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