Mother- a Darren Aronofsky film


Darren Aronofsky’s Mother is bizarre to say the least. If you watch the film as a psychologist, you will find evidence of various mental disorders. The setting of the film is a large house in the middle of nowhere. All you are allowed to see is grass surrounding the house. The horizon is made only of trees and light. C’est tout!

At no time is the camera taken outside the house. Metaphorically, we are meant only to dwell in the inner domain- a place occupied by Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) and her husband, Him ( Javier Bardem).

Mother is a young girl who seems to be devoted to Him and the house she is trying to rebuild. Despite the cracks and the unending labour, she give the house her all. Never once, does she crib. She aspires to make the house ‘paradise’- not because it is her house, but because it is ‘His’ house.

While Mother is spending her days and nights toiling away, doing laundry, cooking and feeding Him, he is locked up in his study trying to write. She is not allowed in his study alone, because, “He doesn’t like anyone going in there without Him.”

She is the muse, and He, the artist. Their peaceful existence is disturbed when strangers descent upon their house. First comes the Man (Ed Harris) who brings with him his bad lungs infected with terminal cancer. Following him is his wife Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is loud and inquisitive to say the least. She is the nosy neighbour we are all weary of. She needs to know why Mother and Him do not have children yet.

Woman uses sex as a weapon and her lace lingerie as the ammo. She tells Mother that she should have kids asap because she will not be young anymore.

Not only is she inquisitive, she is condescending too and only ends up feeding His humongous male ego.

After the unexpected guests arrive, the film becomes more bizarre. There is blood seeping in from all sorts of unexpected places. The wooden floor melts to give way to a metal door, the incinerator fires up all by itself. The sound effects and the cinematography all points towards the genre of horror.

Yet, nothing happens.

Half way through the film, Mother gets pregnant and He starts writing again. His book is a success and one fine day, history repeats itself. Horde of strangers descend upon the house.

“The poet asks us to share”, they say. “This is everyone’s house, the poet says.”

The chaos that follows reminds me of Dante’s inferno. There is violence, fornicatation, theft, etc. and in the midst of all this there is Mother, who is trying to save her baby in the confusion.

Everything becomes surreal and Jennifer Lawrence’s confusion mirror that of the audience. “I have given you everything. Why am I not enough?” is a question asked by the viewers along with Mother to Him.

All he has to say is that they (the horde) need him as much as Mother does.

Finally, Mother sets the house on fire and everything is burnt to ashes but Him.

“Nothing is ever enough and that is how I create,” answers Him- he who has one last favour to ask of the dying Mother. He needs her love and it is that love that keeps him going.

Now, for a lot of us Bollywood lovers, this film is anything less than weird. But keeping aside the obvious,  let us try to understand the metaphor.

Mother is a representation of the everyday woman. She is shown as a muse, who gives and gives till she has nothing left to give. She loves endlessly and that is what drains the life out of her in the end.

He is the male ego, the creator, the loved one. He takes inspiration from her, drains the life force out of her and expects her to keep functioning according to societal norms, despite his selfishness. He is the creator, the selfish one.

One can ask whether Aronofsky is questioning the ways of God. We do refer to the entity as Him. Even within the world of the film, Mother is overlooked and the only time she is acknowledged is when she gives birth in a closed room. Mother is away from the public eye and yet she is the giver of life. But Him, the artist, the God to the horde is well worshiped.

They come from far and wide and just need one touch from Him. Yet they turn against him when the time comes. They take more than they give. Could the horde be the human race? Could it be our disregard for nature, the Mother of all?

I found this film apocalyptic. It showed me how the world as we know it will come to an end. We (the horde) will take from Mother Nature, not acknowledge her presence and will lead to our own doom, all the time searching for the Him, the creator.

I cannot begin to understand what Aronofsky wanted to portray through the film. But I do know why this is a horror film. The horror lies in the fact that life was taken by the horde without a second thought.

It lay in the fact that murder is so ritualised in us and deeply engrained in the audience, that we do not feel as strongly about it as we should.


The Ghost contd…



A guy I once had a thing with had accused me of being heartless; had said:

“You feed off pain, yours, mine and everyone else’s. That is the food for your poetry and prose; the nectar to your hive.”

I don’t disagree with him. I am no preacher and neither do I pretend to be something holier than thou. I am just a writer; a romantic if you will, always out to achieve the impossible; the impossible expedition, the impossible relationship, the impossible situation where you need to stick squeezed out toothpaste into its tube. Impossible, impossible, impossible.

But pain’s just my bread and butter and neither do I deny the fact that I revel in it and nor do I pose to be not-guilty.

I am guilty guvner; so hang me by all accounts.

Consider this: a tale for the passing traveler and a means of satiating their thirst. Thirst for gossip and thirst of drama.

A small tale whose end I leave you to decide.


The Ghost contd…


It had been two years since the exchange of glances in the bookstore. 2 years since my ghost walked out the backdoor with a smile on her face. 2 years of winters and 2 years of clearing the snow from our front porch.

I can see the dead bees in the ground- a bee graveyard. Last night’s thunderstorm had knocked the hive out of the tree and the unsuspecting queen had been crushed to death along with her children and servants.

They say that it is at moments you least expect that the force of the hit is most. I experienced that hit last night. It was a text message on his phone that got my guard up.

“Honey bun…I miss us. Come back to Cali soon my love…XOXO.”

The sender was titled ‘Work’. I could hear him whistling Bee Gee’s Staying Alive in the shower. It was 9:45 and we were due for dinner at the Mason’s at 10:30. They were completing their ten year anniversary.

Jake came out wrapped in a towel with his hair all tousled and brown, just the way it was the first time I had seen him. His eyes still had the piercing power it held and his hands- his strong masculine hands covered with a layer of light brown hair- reached for his shirt.

“D why aren’t you ready yet?” he asked in his honey voice.

“Who is ‘work’ and why is ‘work’ crooning for your love from Cali?”

His face changed. From a light hearted spark, his eyes went to that of a defiant child caught with his hands in the cookie jar to that filled with rage.

“You’ve been reading my messages? How could you do that to me? To us? Don’t you trust me? This is unbelievable. I am out of here.”

And just like that it was over.

Bags were packed in a matter of minutes and the taxi was called. The funny thing is that none of us spoke. The Masons were sorry that we couldn’t make it and ‘work’ was really pleased that she didn’t have to hide behind a noun anymore.

I was back home- to my tiny flat- in a matter of two hours. The storm was raging outside and I could hear the wind whisper- I told you so.

The tequila bottle stood innocently on the shelf and called to me, as if asking me to embrace it like an old friend.

It was successful. Half a bottle later, I could hear her sing to me:

“Drink up baby, stay up all night,

All the things you could do, you won’t but you might…”

This was our favorite song: her and mine.

“Missed me have you?” she asked while caressing my hair.

“In a way I have,” I sobbed into her lap.

Her cold hands brushed against my cheeks and her cold lips pressed against my forehead in a sisterly way.

When she bend down to kiss me, her curls covered my eyes and all I could feel was darkness.

The night held comfort. Nothing could go wrong anymore. The worst was over and she was back. I was free to rejoice in the night once more. The pretention could be thrown out of the window.

After an eternity of her comforting embrace, she pulled me up and led me to the balcony.

It was almost dawn and through the pool in my eyes I could see the horizon: clear with a hint of cloud and the tiny speck of light that was the sun. The breeze rustled the trees as if waking them up from their deep slumber and telling them of a new day, a new opportunity.

I went close to the railing; spread my arms and felt the chill pass through me. If was scarily beautiful. That beauty could destroy, just like a set of luscious red lips on a petit maiden.

But warning of those evils never stopped anyone from falling for them. I remembered Desiree and her tragic love affair with the fearless Napoleon. Love consumes all till only ashes remain.

Today was the dawn of ashes and along with the rustling, the puppeteer upstairs rained down ashes of a fragmented relationship on me, freeing me from the clutches of him and his web of lies forever.

The storm had cleansed at last and my ghost was back with me for eternity.


The creator’s dilemma

A writer is a creator. When he creates characters and gives them life through words, he holds the strings to their lives and fates. Look at it like a puppeteer playing with his puppets. All is merry until he reaches the end of the story and he realises that one of his beloved creations has to be engulfed by reality and has to face something tragic- whether it be a broken finger, a murder charge or a broken heart. That is when the toughest decision is made– Which of my limbs do I cut out?

I don’t know much of God or the creator. But if such an entity were to exist and were a writer, then I would bring my hat to my chest and bow my head to it- not out of reverence but out of pity and compassion. I waste pages and pages of paper; drink cups and cups of coffee and diligently pull out each one of my hair to make that decision. Wonder what the big boss does to soothe its nerves.

The plot and the setting is easy to create and perhaps the most enjoyable part of the journey. The end is a different story altogether.