Just another class… Whistling, SMSing, Playing ringtones, CHIT chatting, Singing, and every other possible thing was going on. It was a math class. The teacher went on scribbling on the board as her blood boiled. She tried shushing, but it wouldn’t work. Suddenly she turned around and screamed “Try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes!!!”. Well, the noise did’nt subside much, but it definitely gave me an idea.
It had been an year since Web 2.0 in the form of social networking had swept past the average NITKian’s domain. And Orkut was being used in full throttle. People were using it so much that the blue page was the only page that one could see on any comp in the GB’s net-centre or even the chemical engineering dept. net centre. Now I happened to have an account too. It had the same dull “About Me:”, “City”, “Country” etc, etc.
That particular day, the net centre was kinda empty. So I went on to a comp and tried google. After sometime I ran out of key words. I noticed that the blue page on the task bar hadn’t been clicked on for some time. Hence, I clicked on it. There, what if I changed my name? Hey! I might belong to another ethnicity too… Why? I could live in an altogether different city… It could be another country too… I could actually have a corresponding “about me”. Now I could have different interests too, with changing names. And how could I forget the pic? There I was, in another’s person’s shoes.
I’ve changed it about i-dunno-how-many times almost every week, and did you know how unique every single profile could be? And mind you, I’ve mostly kept mostly to the most pop figures, cartoons included. And everytime you change, you become a whole new personality. And, the number of your profile views increase. If its during a jobless summer vacation, you scraps can increase multitude, its another way to keep boredom away.
Anyway, now I’m bored of wearing other’s shoes, I want to wear mine own.
Aside: Try Facebook, it better than Orkut.
I kept my word and watched the top-rated much-hyped path-breaking epoch-making [don't I just LOVE using those cliches] well-shot Maniflick second day third show. I came back with mixed feelings, but somehow I don’t feel like writing a scathing mocking review, like I normally do. So this is going to be a propah review, fair to the movie, fair to all, considering that the movie has been quite fair to Dhirubhai, whoops, Gurubhai. Yeah, contrary to all you’ve been hearing from the movie’s makers, it’s a thinly-veiled tale heavily inspired by Mr. Ambani’s meteoric rise. I don’t think I should go into the storyline much, coz you reading this must have heard it already from your sis/bro/neighbor/friend if you haven’t already given it a watch.
Where do I start? The beginning. Except that the movie doesn’t start at the beginning – it starts at the end. Only, you don’t know that until you’re at the end. An older AB [not AB senior] putting fundae on his fundae. Flashback to 1951, Idhar village. The schoolmaster’s son has just flunked his finals. And he’s got a job in Turkey [he's asking permission to go there], so father’s not very angry, and asks him to get lost in Turkey. Permission granted, so the lad and his mum rejoice with dancing and tame expletives.
Cut to Turkey. Man, the place is bee-yoo-tiful if it is the way it’s shot. Gurukant’s working for Shell Oil. He has some side-business of some sort in the market, which I’m not too clear about. But its ingenuity is nowhere close to that of what Mr. Ambani did in Yemen – the Yemeni Rial is a coin of pure silver, so he placed large orders for them, and melted and shipped the coins from Aden to England and other places with a high demand for pure silver.
Item song by Mallika. Somehow, Mayya Mayya reminds me of Chandralekha from Thiruda, Thiruda. Anyway, the song is very well shot, the locations are awesome.
Guru quits his job after seven or so years and comes back home. Cut to shot of girl dancing in rain. Brilliant camerawork. Rajiv Menon, that’s why. That also explains why the song resembles Konjum Mainakkaley from Kandukondain, Kandukondain – it was a Rajiv Menon film. At the end of the song, she runs away from home, wildly remniscent of Heera Rajagopal in Thiruda Thiruda [I hope Mr. Mani Ratnam'll be happy that I've mentioned this movie so many times on this page that people who haven't watched it yet will go watch it]. Her co-elopee refused to show up, she decides to go away. Ends up meeting Guru on the train. Her folks catch up with her the next station.
Ah, looks like I’m going deep into the details of the story. Which happens when there isn’t all that much of a story to review. To cut a long story short, excuse the expression, Sujata’s [That's Ash] dowry has gone up by quite a bit, thanks to her little adventure, so Guru marries her as he needs capital to start his bijnes [That's the only thing in the whole movie, apart from AB's body language that is there to suggest Guru's humble beginnings]. Well, anyway, he comes to Mumbai to start a textile business, but finds that it’s hard to break into the ranks. With the help of the editor of a newspaper solely dedicated to publishing the truth [Mithun Chakraborty, doing Ramnath Goenka's role, and the paper is called "The Independent", a non-allusion to The Indian Express], and also a few unorthodox methods, he manages to.
Then comes the meteoric rise, which is limited to just a song or two. Not much light is shed about his methods and ingenuity, don’t watch the movie expecting that, you’ll only be disappointed. [I can't resist adding this: And no, this movie doesn't help you get into the IIMs].
Next, Guru’s offered something unethical [someone with a bad resemblance to Nusli Wadia]. He quite obviously refuses, and goes to the Press with this story. Old habits die hard, and he uses his unorthodox ways on the staff of The Independent. Mithunda’s miffed. So he gets a young journalist [Madhavan] to steamroll Guru. With the Truth. And there seems to be plenty of it to implicate Gurubhai – misappropriations, bending of rules, not following regulations and stipulations. Stock prices fall. Guru has a stroke. He also has charges slapped on him, and has to attend a hearing.
This whole thing was meant to set the stage for the Climax. Which is a four-and-a-half minute rhetoric rant by AB. So short, you’ll not even notice you’re at the climax. It has absolutely no build-up, no riveting background music, and plenty of rhetoric. You run the risk of missing the point altogether. Which is what happened to most people, who said the movie was wastage [that's NITK lingo]. The point, as I got it, was a cry for Liberalization, which was yet to come in Ambani’s time [this happened in 1986]. And I wish the director had made it clearer that Guru was acquitted not because of the speech, but due to insufficient evidence [Atleast I hope that was why he was acquitted, it seems to be a really irresponsible film on the lines of <aargh> RDB if it happened to be otherwise].
Cut to the ending, which is the beginning, only, it’s in color. One swing of a camera, it turns out he’s speaking to a gathering of stockholders. …. And the legend lives on. The End.
It’s obvious as Pinocchio’s Nose that this is a Dhirubhai Ambani story. Only wish it had been more spectacular, focused on his methods. It’s an AB film, start to finish, and no other character has much prominence – they’re just characters flitting in and out, even Ash. Madhavan was supposed to be the villain or something, and we were all expecting some sort of a good build-up with music and all before some slick camera swings that give his intro. Nope, nothing of that sort. He’s just in the same room as Mithun, and turns his head casually at AB’s entry. Such a low-key intro that we forgot it was Madhavan, and forgot to yell and whistle at his entry. He doesn’t do all that much, except his usual niceguy-with-a-mission thing. Oh, yes, he gets to kiss Vidya Balan. She doesn’t have ANYTHING to do here, except that. And also hop around in a wheelchair and die slowly.
All said and done, I really wish this had been made in Tamil, with Surya in AB’s role [btw, he's providing voice for Guru in the dubbed Tamil version]. Mani Ratnam hasn’t really mastered the art of making a Hindi movie; like someone said on the Mani-a post, he’s too rooted in south-indian sensiblities to make something in Hindi that’ll get the same response as it would if it were made in Tamil, or Kannada [his first movie, Pallavi Anupallavi was in Kannada and was Anil Kapoor's debut]. Like Alaipayuthey generated quite a storm even with non-Tamil-movie watchers who watched it.
On the positive side, it’s very well-shot, as your sis/bro/friend/mom/dad/neighbor must have had you know by now. The locales are too beautiful for words, and the lighting is just right.. Mani picked the right man for the job. Acting-wise, everyone did a good job [Vidya Balan is a bit overstated, though]. AB seems to have worked on his body language. Music is really Rehman [I hope that says it all], and choreography is just right.
I’d say it’s worth a watch.
A few months back, I was looking for a poem by Ogden Nash, which I’d come across in class 6. It wasn’t on any Ogden Nash site [it wasn't originally by him, or something like that, I later gathered], and after much haranguing on the net, I found it on some blog. Phew! That took a lot of effort, and it worked only because I remembered a few lines from that bit of nonsense verse.
So, well, we’re building a repository of lighthearted verse on this site. And here it is:
No, this is not a platform for us or anyone we know to exhibit their supposedly funny lines [the blog part of the subdomain is for that], but it’s a collection of well-known, or not-so-well-known nonsense verse, or other sorts of lighthearted verse. Names banned there include Neruda, Longfellow, Tennyson, Yeats, Lord Byron, Milton and similar writers of stuff that takes more time to read than write.
Keep checking this page, there’ll be more and more added in the future. And you can help too. Mail one of us [or you can comment on this post if you don't know us] any bit of lighthearted verse you have/find, which you think will fit into the scheme of things on this repository.
Here’s what we have:
- “The Muddlehead”, Ogden Nash
- “Jabberwocky”, by Lewis Caroll
- “To My Valentine”, Ogden Nash
- “ONW – Omit Needless Words”, Will Strunk
- “Verses to exhaust my stock of four-letter words” by George Starbuck
This list is updated as and when we find something new. And we’re looking for more. Once again, mail us, or comment on this post with any bit of nonsense verse you might find.
*To more litterature!*
In one of those space-filler articles in India Today, I once read this whole list of things titled “You know you’re South Indian when…”. I don’t remember most of them, but one of them certainly was “You think Vande Mataram is a song composed by AR Rehman”.
That reminds me of a pal of mine, who likes being called “The Great One”. This guy is certainly a Southie, going by the previous point, for music to him means Rehman’s tunes, and Nirvana only means the feeling you get on listening to the soundtrack of Roja for the 12,485th time. As for Michael Jackson, he’s the guy who Rehman says has a voice similar to him.
The Great One is also qualified enough to be the president of the Mani-ac’s association, of which I’m a proud member. Mani-ac? Well, that’s a term I’ve coined for die-hard Mani Ratnam fans. I’m one, for I sincerely believe that most, if not all of India’s good cinema comes from this guy.
Getting to the point, The Great One seems to be on a high these days. Ask why? It’s coz the killer combo of Mani-Rehman’s giving the world their latest offering sometime in January, a Dhirubhai Ambani-inspired slickflick called Guru. Like all Mani films, not much has been publicly said about this one by the director, or the cast or the crew. Which only adds to the hype, and which has the media working overtime on possible plotlines. The most plausible one is out on indiafm.com, and has also appeared on Wiki.
The Great One has been working himself up to a Mani-Rehman frenzy, and some of it has infected me. Which means I’ve been downloading loads and loads of soundtracks of Mani movies for which Rehman’s done the score, watching Mani movies, even the ones I’ve seen atleast five times before. Dude, you’re really the Great One, you bring out the Tamizh in me… I guess I’d've clean forgotten all about Kollywood if it weren’t for you.
Coming to the most recent Mani flick… Aayutha Ezhuthu. Yuva in Hindi. Brilliant, brilliant flick, in my opinion. I’m talking of the Tamil version, which I prefer to the Hindi one, ‘coz, uh, well, it was so much better. For one, the actors look young, like they are supposed to [Sidhart-Trisha look more just-outta-college than Vivek-Kareena, and Ajay Devgan is certainly not Yuva, in stark contrast to Surya], the dialogues seem to suit them [I nearly choked listening to Ajay Devgan elucidating about "Aix end Waiy Cromosohms" while the same thing sounded uber-cool coming from Surya].. and, well, it has the Mani touch which Yuva seemed to lack.
Now the point is [doing this for the third time ], The Great One seems to think Rang De Basanti is comparable to Ayutha Ezhuthu, and is a wow flick and a REAL youth flick, an opinion which I clearly do not share. Here’s why:
- RDB wasn’t about anything solid, anyway. It just reinforced the widely-believed notion that politicians are corrupt and eliminating them is one way out. Yawn. How many Tamil flicks have we seen with that theme? To be frank, even Captain [for the non-Tamizh-movie-watching crowd, Captain=Vijaykanth, an overtly patriotic actor who can be seen making life better for the nation in his films] films on the theme are better-made, and employ better, more entertaining methods to kill corrupt politicos.
- RDB doesn’t present anything inspiring or worth emulating. For starters, Hingleesh-speaking losers don’t really get firang ladies, unless they’re [the ladies] the sort who’ve come to India looking for Karma or something equally shallow. Next, getting away with murder isn’t exactly great for the nation’s health. That way, I prefer AE coz Inba Sekar/Lallan Singh [Madhavan/Abhishek Bacchan] isn’t shown justified and/or let off for his crime(s).
- AE is believable. I guess most of us can identify with Arjun Balakrishnan [Sidharth/Vivek Oberoi] more than those famous five [or was it six?] in RDB. It isn’t easy to kill [Ask Manu Sharma]. And it’s tougher to get away with it. RDB isn’t gory. AE is. But it’s easier to believe that people get beaten up and survive than that people can be pushed to the brink to plan and execute murder.
- And it’s hard to believe some arbit guy a filmmaker meets looks like the character she’s supposed to be filming about, and coincidentally enough, his friends [and an enemy] look like the others supposed to be in the flick. On the other hand, it really isn’t an out-of-the-world occurrence that a teenybopper, a gangster and a student leader all meet up in one incident that directly or indirectly changes their lives
- RDB looks like some desperate cry for help – “Do Something! Anything!”. No, India isn’t in such a pathetic state. And why a radiostation of all places? Why not Doordarshan? Or, they could’ve gone to any of the various news channels that so plague the idiot box – they’d've been real glad of the human interest angle. [You killed your DAD???] AE, well, it goes beyond the premise that politicos are corrupt, and that there’s little apart from cursing (or killing) we can do to cleanse the system.
- To summarize all that I said above, I’ll say it’s a Macaulayan legacy to downride ourselves [India and Indians], and nope, contrary to such portrayal, we are not divided into greedy ploticians and sorry beings who don’t know how to get out of the clutches of the other group. It doesn’t help by borrowing off Bhagat Singh’s history – he was a visionary meant to be immortalized in a different way [don't ask me which way], not as some pop-culture icon like Guevara’s most famous picture.
- And the music… AE’s music is earthy, meant to carry the story forward, while all that RDB’s music sets out to do is to advertize the movie as a prime youthflick. Rehman delivers in both, in different ways, however. [Aside: The Great One tells me that Mani Ratnam had originally planned to make AE with no soundtrack, just background score. And THEN Rehman came up with Dol Dol, which totally changed the director's decision. Man, what a song!]
- Aamir Khan does not look like a college student, not even one who should have got his degree five years before. As for Surya and Sidharth….. need I even SAY anything?
I can just go on ripping apart every second dialogue and detail in RDB, and highlighting all the goodness in AE, but, I guess the fact will remain that more people saw RDB than AE [I guess Kollywood needs to exploit its South-East Asian market more than it's already doing] and Yuva [just who watches Mani flicks in Hindi, anyway] put together, and RDB was more slickly packaged, and that RDB will be screened every Independence Day on every channel from DD to Star One, just like Captain films [or Arjun films] on the whole plethora of Tamil channels, that people will remember Bhagat Singh by RDB… And Khalbali will be more popular than Dol Dol, coz you can dance to it; you can’t do anything with Dol Dol other than listen to it [but if you're NITKian, you can junglee-dance to it, same as you do for Khalbali], and best of all, you can’t remix it.
Hopefully, Guru will become a massive hit, do to AB what Nayagan did for Kamal Haasan, like The Great One predicts. It’ll just be the triumph of good cinema… it might spark a dozen clones, but they’ll only flatter the original… And after a long, long time, India will have a REAL entry at the Oscars [they sent them RDB last time; it quite obviously lost] … not that they matter, anyway – if a good movie is good enough for the masses to appreciate, it’s already earned its reward. And Great One, guess you’ll agree that Rehman hasn’t disappointed, and for yours and my sake, I hope Mani won’t, either.
Update: I watched Guru. Like all other Mani movies, the ending’s really short and it’s going to take a little while to sink in. Review coming up next. For some reason, the movie reminded me of all other Mani movies. More on that in the review.
Just what do you do when the only person you genuinely admire doesn’t acknowledge that you exist, and the person you’re just cannot stand leeches on to you like her life depends on it?
Just what is to be done when the source of your inspiration shrivels and dies?
Just what are you supposed to do when you realize that the people you’ve known almost all your life aren’t really the people you would want to know, and if you met them now instead of back then, you wouldn’t spare them a second thought?
What the heck are you to do if the principles you’ve lived by all your life just stop working one day?
What are you supposed to feel when you begin to identify with that chameleon character in that Woody Allen movie who turns into a banker when he’s among bankers, or into a writer when among writers, just because he wants to fit in?
There end the hypothetical situations. Now comes the real thing:
What do you do when you have a really really great, brilliant idea, and you know EXACTLY how to go about doing it, and you KNOW amazon.com will pay you big bucks to develop it, and you know you CAN make the time to develop it, when you surf the net and find that amazon.com already has the product which is EXACTLY what you imagined it to be, even the GUI is what you wanted it to be like… are you supposed to pat yourself on the back coz you were thinking amazon-level, or kick yourself coz you presented an original generic product like this one in a contest where everyone was flicking ideas off ACM and IEEE?
PS: This has nothing to do with the rest of the post; just a congratulatory message to a friend who’s one of the five Rhodes Scholars from India this year. Congrats, dear friend, and I’m having you know here that you’ll always be an inspiration, other things notwithstanding.