When I was younger, I used to hear older adults react to my writing in almost typical ways, “Oh, I used to paint when I was your age, now I don't have the time anymore and neither do I think I can” or “I always wished to write but I think those days are behind me”. In my naivete I saw these adults as losers who couldn't think creatively and chose to be corporate slaves instead. This prompted a decision to never end up like these adults and always prioritizing my creative output, often at the cost of my professional one. Years later finding myself at a career crossroads, having not succeeded in the creative endeavors as I wished and realizing I've to jump aboard the corporate ship before it's too late.

I look back and see that perhaps my best writing days are behind me or as a friend put it a few years ago, “kinocow, maybe you'll get older and see that you don't want to be a writer after all”. This line has rung in my ears since, do I really want to be a artist/writer or do I like the idea of being one without owning up to the responsibility and hardwork that comes with such a decision? Also, a much mature me sees that these fields are easier to succeed in when there's sound financial backing, which is not the case for everyone.

As time passes by and the many responsibilities of adulthood pile up (or promise to), the freedom with which I called an earlier version of myself as a writer or a poet dry up and on most days I don't find anything creative or meaningful to say about the world around me. The idea of shuffling different lives, one for the stomach and the other for the soul feels intimidating and I wonder, if I've become like one of those people I didn't wish to become.


2023 had been a great year for my movie watching. I clocked close to watching a 100 movies in the kinos, ranging from silent movies from the 1920s and indulging in the Barbenheimer hype on the first day. I didn't have this kind of access before moving to Berlin, in India watching a movie meant fitting into the latest Bollywood release cycle with a few pop-American movies thrown in. So for the most part of my life, access to world cinema was only through the internet, watching on a small screen with abysmal audio output. Though watching movies on a computer kept my cinema fantasies alive, it restricted my understanding of the intricate elements that make a movie truly immersive. Going to the kinos often showed that a mediocre movie becomes better when viewed in the kino while a great movie transforms itself into an altered state of consciousness that requires careful calibration post-movie to reintegrate into the world. I have been forgiving with most of the movies I watched in the kinos and when a bad one like Ridley Scott's Napoleon hit me I chose to have a nap instead.

Though most of my viewings in 2023 were the latest releases my plan for 2024 is to deviate from this a bit. The indelible movie experiences from last year were the older movies that I watched during the retrospectives in the Berlinale and the East Asian movies shown fortnightly at the Yorck kinos and the various festivals at Babylon Berlin. Movies that I watched previously enjoyed on the small screen or classics I saved for later viewings are the ones that I want to explore on the big screen, as that was the medium they're intended for. Another goal is to be more mindful about watching movies, prioritizing quality over quantity, I'd rather watch a movie I love five times than cramming four mediocre movies in the mix. This would further be supplemented by my informal film studies revolving around cinematography and editing, while also venturing into decoding special effects and understanding what makes a performance shine.

At some point last year I lost interest in film criticism as it reduced my movie watching exercise into constant intellectual masturbation, dissociating from the actual experience of being in the kino. I will try keeping movie criticism to a minimum while allocating these intellectual resources towards film philosophy and the contribution of cinema to our collective unconscious. If I achieve even 10% of my film viewing goals I'd consider it a success. Let's see what 2024 brings and see you at the movies!

#film #writing


  1. Hero: Main detective, a bit of an oddball, emotional wreck. Has chronic problems with their partner or love interest, bonus if they have a neglected child. Has a substance abuse problem or PTSD from a previous investigation which makes them not defer to authority. Everyone is against the hero because of their shortcomings until the very end where everyone realizes they've been wrong all along.
  2. Sidekick: Doubts the hero but has irrational urge to be with them until they have a point of revelation where they start worshiping them. They tone down the edge of the hero by a notch and are a conduit to authority and the audience. Their happy personal life also suffers. Bonus: Always shot or maimed towards the end.
  3. Victims: A young girl, SA for more shock value. Young boy for pedo angle, or a rich businessman or politician. It takes 10 homeless people before the police start to take notice so the equation goes: 10 homeless people = 1 young girl.
  4. Villain: Usually seen within the first 20 minutes and the story tries hard to direct your attention away from them. Normal but perverse, definitely a serial killer selling pizza or something. Comes in the penultimate scenes to shoot the sidekick. Likes to commit suicide. Otherwise they're the victim of their circumstances (war, bad upbringing, corruption around them) but they start a chain reaction of rampage they cannot control.
  5. Head of Police: Dumbest of the lot, makes you wonder why they're the head of police to begin with. Have no head, no spine, a bag of jelly to shut down the hero at convenient points. If a politician is the victim then the head of police is covert corrupt.
  6. Hero's love interest: Usually a nice person but they're sick of the hero's chronic lateness and lack of romance. Bonus: thinks the hero is cheating on them. The middle episodes are devoted to their fucked up love life.
  7. Victim's family: Broken, if it's a girl they're double broken. Seen gazing at the photos of the victim and banging their chest in front of police. At some point the male character lashes out at a potential perpetrator. They're humans made of glycerin.
  8. Other characters: Seen giving support to victims or the Hero, the killer usually hiding in this lot. There's a funny one here for the laughs, one of them is dispensable, usually the villain gets them. All of them are are potential suspects and all of them are interrogated by the police which turns the community against them. Most of them have served jailtime, were corrupt or have cheated on their partners.
  9. Pre-climax: Everyone zeroes on an Ersatz villain and the Head of Police insists an arrest be made. An arrest is made but the Hero can't sleep, they go rogue infuriating the Head of Police who already have the Hero suspended. Only the Sidekick realizes their brilliance and goes co-rogue usually without the knowledge of the Hero.
  10. Climax: Sidekick is shot, Hero's blood is pumping napalm and goes full ballistic. Goes after the villain alone even as Head of Police is waiting at the wrong place with a battalion enough to invade Moscow (homage to Silence of the Lambs). Hero fights villain alone, killing them. (if not, suicide)
  11. Last 15 minutes: Head of Police makes a joke of how stubborn the Hero is while toasting on the success of the investigation where they did jackshit. Hero is sleepless and mourns sidekick not being there (or they smile from the hospital bed). Montage of everyone healing, Fin.
  12. Themes: If a politician is a victim then there's the obvious political cover-up and Hero always finds the killer but the victory ends on a bittersweet note with them being transferred or the real crime not exposed because corruption perpetuates over morality. If little children/young girls are involved the themes of human resilience, emotions and frailty are pondered upon. If homeless people are the victims then societal apathy is the theme of the show. Obviously the Hero is the white dove in a sea of sewage.

#HowTo #detective #writing

Starting to write is the hardest, the actual part of sitting and writing the story. The idea has been brewing in me for years now and I have mapped all the finer details, the whole film plays in my head like I was presenting it to a festival audience. But the actual words on paper are closer to 0. I look for inspiration, I read Aristotle and a whole lot of other books ranging from atomic explosions to living with narcissists.

What nobody tells you is that giving shape to abstract thought is hard, it takes commitment, humility and whole lot of willingness to pain. Sometimes I want to give up before I even start writing, I think the festival audience are booing me and that I will be a one-hit wonder. Or maybe I will not have any hits, I will be relegated to the role of a flop writer, someone who has to fill his last days judging reality TV shows with obnoxious laughter tracks. Writing to fill pages to fill pockets.

I believe that no vantage to reality is wrong, each one presents in itself an aspect of truth that's incorrigible to violate. So the movie in my head has a right to exist, the characters fighting to populate this world. My responsibility is to be their conduit and help lubricate their delivery into being. I am a silent matron to my ideas, in their birth is my continuity.

#film #writing #screenplay