Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Entombed in the catacomb of the moon
She reposed with thoughts of abandon
Though stippled by daubs of unease
With sensuality they were in tandem.
Tall, dark handsome she sought
With the accompaniment of force
She fancied her tiny warbling mews
Subsumed by his baritone hoarse.
She could traverse the runnel of his frame
With her abrasive tongue
And stroke with hands, spiked by nails
Runnels where his febrile furs hung.
yet when streaks of daylight ripple
The seamless image in the mirror
Striations of disquiet stud her being
And make her tremulous integument quiver
Suspended in the dichotomy of desire and negation
She augments deception in broad light
Yet the dark knight of her somnambulist dreams
Is never far from her sight.


At a time when the svelte Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi were gyrating their toned bodies in westernized garments to bollywood songs , at a time when Dimple Kapadia Wore a bikini , the south indian film industry was churning. They had had a spate of dichotomous good/bad, heroine/villainess classification and functioned within these antinomies in a self righteous way. Sexuality was kept under wraps and a puritanical reticence was promulgated with occasional iconoclastic ripples but an otherwise unchanged moral superstructure.

Enter silk Smitha a dark, voluptuous woman who dared to flaunt her sexuality, unafraid to show her curves, even rejoicing in her unconventional plumpness. At a time when a certain physical type of body was burgeoning Silk smitha dared to bare. Be it as a seductress or temptress or an item girl her irresistible allure ruled the industry down south for 15 yrs. In her real life persona too  contradictory terms have been used to describe her. There was an incident when the megastar shivaji ganeshan entered the studio and everyone stood up respectfully or obsequiously except silk who crossed one leg over the other and sat undaunted. Later she was to say that she remained sitting because she felt apprehensive about her revealing dress.

So what is it about this dark, plump woman that without her a movie was incomplete and who became the sole reason for moviegoers to go to the cinema hall. Perhaps she actualized and rendered palpable the collective fantasy of the south indian male. Subterranean eroticism embodied in repression or vicariously realized in soft porn malayalam pulp  suddenly became mainstream. What Silk smitha demonstrated was a divesting of double standards and hypocritical accoutrements as she extricated what was nascent and dormant and exposed it. In any film industry a substratum of sexuality proliferates underneath a respectable veneer. Sex is ubiquitous though sanctimoniously disavowed. Silk Smitha exposed this undercurrent of sexuality and exposed an industry's camouflaged self deceptions. Yet she was self righteously repudiated. The word 'dirty' was used by many women down south when i spoke about here. 'Cheap', 'vulgar' were other moral opprobrium lavishly bestowed. But that which was lodged in the male psyche was exposed and therein lay her feminism.

While her exposure of the body meant playing into the male gaze it also implied a stripping away of the male gaze's self created defense mechanisms. Silk Smitha is both id and superego. She is the primordial, earthily sensuous woman yet her cinematic ratification implies that her allure was distilled and measured circumspectly by the patriarchal superego. Yet the primitive sheen was unobliterated, rather enhanced by these metonymic significations. Even now, retroactively it is difficult to conceptualize how a dark skinned, plump woman could rule the roost and whose appeal, while it temporally lasted, was unalterably consistent. A comfort with one's body, no matter what one's size was epitomized by silk. It also revealed that the anorexic, bag of bones heroines were just pleasurable barbie dolls meant to sing and dance. The impalpable yet incontrovertible eroticism lay in a physiognomy that didn't correspond to the stereotype or the dominant discourse.

Silk Smitha's baroque variations of sexual nonconformity manifested themselves multifariously. In Sadma she was the coy yet bold seductress trying to woo kamal hassan. Her ability to perform bold lovemaking scenes must surely have liberated south indian cinema. As a homosexual i remember fancying myself in her place and syncopating to the rococo pyrotechnics of unbridled  sexuality. No woman had dared to be so blatantly seductive. Through some indeterminate loophole in the self justifying metaphysics  of the industry, she inveigled herself in and once ensconced was difficult to dislodge.

Along a lateral spectrum Silk Smitha emerges as being on an equal level with her co stars in the roles she performs. Her sexuality is indubitably a weapon but she is not the demure woman demanding security and saccharine, candy floss love. She calls for an egalitarian commingling, a at times impersonal yet tantalizing intersection of flesh with flesh. She bares her bosom, exposes her thunder thighs and the south indian male is titillated uncontrollably. While her patriarchal subsumption is indisputable her emergent feminist consciousness is something  her 21st century counterparts owe her gratitude to.


There is a void, a blank, featureless palimpsest whose underwriting has been blurred and blunted by the attrition of nothingness. An attrition which came out of nothingness and dissolves in nothingness and is, in fact, itself nothingness. From this empty space stretches of time recede and progress, ebb and flow suffused with the potentialities of completion. Yet the story
, if there is one, is unknowable just as the reality, contained within the story is unfathomable. An ineffable parthenogenesis constitutes this emptiness, a tabula rasa, unfilled by threaded filigrees of association. We can call this inchoate yet inchoateness is inadequate. An ipso facto blank hieroglyph is both containment and unfettering. The hole is to be filled, the interstices seamed and the only way this can occur is through a story. We find meaning by writing the scroll of the hieroglyphic, we scratch away at the void of the palimpsest and the crease of our calloused palms become the substratum of meaning. We could say we come out of meaninglessness or we could say that we create meaninglessness in order to bring meaning into being.

The story thus emerges from the vast hinterland of the imagination. I think therefore i am or perhaps I am therefore i think. The indubitability of being brings cognition into being. Conversely one could argue that narrative coherence precedes being because we shape our beings by becoming or that in order to be we become. So does the story predate us or do we date the story by attributing an ontology. The story has an indeterminate telos because by itself it is infinite and measureless, yet because a pattern has been created, a pattern intransigently fluid significations of alternate beginning, middle and end are indefatigably expressed yet rendered impalpable.

So if the story encompasses nebulous vastitudes yet forecloses them in a system of thought that explicates then perhaps the story becomes by itself the incontrovertible reality. The calcined bones of the story, retroactively decomposing, encase mottled flesh we sheathe it with. The bare bones, the story lies buried in gossamer regions but the story they tell is the story we make out of it. The impasse of non being is interminable and its bleached constituents unlocatable. But we need a leap of faith, the will to believe and we give birth to an episteme which furnishes self knowledge and constitutes hubristic self deception . This becomes our story.