I seem to return to blogging whenever life feels out of control. It usually manifests such that I stay up all night avoiding something I’ll have to do anyway, and in order to distract myself, I blog. Not a bad side-effect, especially if it means I put things I’m feeling into writing.
So anyway. I’ve been watching and reading a bunch of stuff.
I watched the much-hyped Lucia last week. For those not in the know, Lucia is a Kannada film. What makes it unique is that it is crowdfunded.
A year or two ago, I saw this rather intriguing trailer for this movie. They’d put out this trailer and asked people to give money on the basis of it. I had some issues with the payment gateway and forgot all about it for a while. By the time there were regular updates trickling in about the movie, the window for crowdfunding closed and the movie was soon to be released. I regretted forgetting all about it, but oh well, can’t do everything.
The movie opened in theaters just the weekend I was getting back to New York, so I didn’t have time to watch it then. It released online for non-Indian audiences last week. The site was slow to load; there must have been tons of traffic. And $10 later, I began watching it.
The storyline is taut. The acting is topnotch. It feels real and grounded. You end up relating to the characters. The music’s fun. There’s of course a twist ending that you’re waiting for, starting from the opening credits. And it’s good. But that’s not all that you appreciate the movie for.
It progresses slow in some paces, but that only suits to establish characters, make you empathize, build it all up so that you relate better to the climax and twist. Overall, it’s nicely made, well-directed, slick, and the sort of movie that puts a smile on your face.
And crowdfunding for movies seems great. As long as, of course, the movies that rely on crowdfunding are Indie and really can’t raaise funds from producers because it seems risky. I totally don’t appreciate the idea of big names using Kickstarter for their projects, just because they are too lazy to go out there and raise money the traditional way. Because it’s easier for them, and if they invade this sphere as well, where’s everybody else to go?
Oh, do watch Lucia. It’s a nice watch.
I’m part of a quarterly book club, and this time, our book of choice was Quiet – The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It felt interesting to me. Of course, the problem with this genre is the anecdotal evidence that masquerades as supporting data for any hypothesis. The issue here is, Susan Cain is a worse offender than Malcolm Gladwell.
Still, the way of thinking about things has offered me a fresh perspective on myself. I’ve somehow always considered myself an extrovert. I’ve always been the most talkative kid in class, I always speak my mind, and I genuinely like meeting and getting to know people. And I’ve always been big on sharing my feelings. So how could I be an introvert?
Over the past few years, I find it easier and easier to be by myself. I guess I always did, I just never accepted it because if you were quiet and did your own thing, my extended family considered you downright weird, and my whole thing has been about getting away from that since then. I like living in a big city mainly because it affords me the anonymity and removes the need to have to rely on people continuously. I hate littering my day with ten-fifteen things on the fly the way my mother does, and I’m happiest just left to my own damn devices, decide my own damn schedule and not be answerable to too many people.
And it’d be great if the world left it that way and stopped trying to ‘fix’ me.
How watching Norah Jones videos and Netflix documentaries gave me a movie idea
I’m a huge huge fan of Norah Jones. I have zilch experience singing and now all I want is to be able to sing like her some day, just because I loved how she held us spellbound on that tiny stage in Tarrytown last year.
So no surprise I’ve been watching her interviews on YouTube a lot. Her soft Southern(?) lilt is endearing. She’s incredibly down to earth for someone who’s sold the most records in the previous decade. Her occasional comebacks (“You’re writing lots of breakup songs..” | “I’m not the only one”) feel very ‘bless ‘er heart’. I’m this close to crawling small musical venues around Cobble Hill hoping I chance on her performing in disguise (‘I’m not a good practicer, I learn best when I perform regularly’)
Now I’m no fan of Pandit Ravi Shankar. I haven’t really listened to his music, but the whole rockstar musician misogynist philanderer narrative has never sat well with me, be it with John Lennon or Ravi Shankar. I can write a whole essay on how the Simi Garewal interview with Ravi Shankar and Sukanya from fifteen years ago made me want to throw up. But his daughters, they give such fun interviews, say such fun things. Like the video where they are both accepting his Lifetime Achievement Grammy soon after his death.
In one of those rare interviews Norah Jones actually was mentioning her father, she was talking about her ‘inner jazz nerd’. That led me to watch a documentary on Jazz. It’s multipart, and I’m still midway into part 2, but the culture, the history, the way it is shaped around America’s race relations, how it is pretty much American history itself, delighted me. It’s this warm fuzzy feeling that comes with knowing that the little ditty you hum while doing the dishes is part of something much larger than itself.
This is a sliver of culture people are born into, people die with. My rootless self would probably claim that influence to be Rahman and Raja saar, but jazz spans generations. The same jazz standards are sung everywhere, by everyone, be it at Birdland or BlueNote, by Ella or Norah.
I might be jaded about the culture around Carnatic music, but jazz…. that was exciting. And I suppose tons of people would find the culture around Carnatic music exciting.
So. How about this movie about a philandering musician? He sows wild oats all over the world, and the mothers of his children are from musical traditions too.
Can make this musician of unknown lineage, unknown origin enough to make him blend everywhere. Maybe get Sacha Baron Cohen to play the part, I don’t know.
Surely there’ll be the HDDCS-type Hindustani musician, under whose tutelage our Musician learns. And his first wife is his teacher’s daughter.
Then there can be a Mohiniattam dancer?
And then a jazz singer from New Orleans?
A heavymetal guitarist in Norway?
A Khmer singer who meets her grisly end in the Killing Fields?
A Tuvan whose wants to follow in her family’s tradition of throat singers, but is not allowed to because she is a girl, but then finds success in the west?
This would totally make for a book in the style of Rushdie’s Ground Beneath Her Feet, and if it can be written without trivia and references and nods for the sake of trivia and references and nods, it’d be wonderful.
Would be great to start off the book at the singer’s deathbed, with all his children coming in from all over the world to see him (or not), and go backwards from there.
Plus, it’d be interesting to explore what a father or the lack thereof means in all these different cultures, how a single mother is perceived, how these things change over the course of time.
Would be an interesting book. Someone do write it!
I watched Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur today. Not on the big screen, though I wish I had. It’s a tad irksome that Rowdy Rathore gets a worldwide release while this one doesn’t.
I must say I really liked the movie. (Spoilers might follow)
I felt the usual words used to describe the movie misled me quite some. Words like ‘gritty’, ‘raw’, ‘gory’. Watching the movie and seeing what the trailers focused on, I can see why people use those words to describe GoW, but that doesn’t feel like the whole picture to me. It’s a revenge saga, alright. It has quite some violence, yes. The language is crude and there are more sexual references here than in the average Bollywood movie. But at the end of two and a half hours, GoW1 is still a nice cheery happy movie where we know our man is going to win at the end no matter what obstacles come his way, be it a pissed second wife who is spying for his enemies or being nowhere close to getting his revenge even when death is at his door. And when the son is caught with guns, he goes to jail, but comes back wiser, and doesn’t repeat the same mistakes he made while smuggling home guns the first time around. It’s a nicer victory than if he had suspected or known all along the plot against him and done smart things the first time around that would have been presented to the audience as an ace up his sleeve.
I found the first half pretty cheery… you know it’s a gangsta sort of movie, but unlike any you’ve watched before, they have a normal family life, with children and their mother, all smiling, not fearing for their lives every minute like any other loved one of a marked man in other works. In other movies, you’d have the female characters either simpering, or, if they are supposed to be a ‘strong woman’, they actually have things to do with crime, either orchestrating deals or influencing the protagonist, sacrificing themselves… or due to their own motivations, bringing the gang down…. but Richa Chaddha does none of that. She has her own part, cuffing her kids on the ear and all, which brings with it its own flavour instead of being closely tied down to the main plot. She’s a nice supporting role which shows us different dimensions of this sort of story.
And it’s not your usual revenge movie. Those are all plotted in a mathematical fashion, with one action, then a reaction, then a reaction to that… but GoW meanders. People in this movie don’t spend their entire time thinking only of revenge, they spend it waiting for an opportunity to take revenge, and in the meantime, life happens, the social, political and economic climates change, children are born, people get married, people bury some old feuds… the works. The feuding characters don’t outright want to finish each other off, but just want to make living hell for the other, like Manoj Bajpai says in his first few scenes.
Having read other reviews, I was expecting Manoj Bajpai’s character to be this complete womanizer with little or no respect for women… but it isn’t so black and white. He is not your gallant white knight who takes off his hat in the presence of ladies, but nor is he the typical gangster who grabs women off the street for his own pleasure. He’s actually shown playing with his infant son, and apologizing to his wives…. not saying that redeems him in some way, but it’s nice to have a little complexity to a protagonist. It adds some semblance of realism. After all, the misogyny we encounter on a daily basis is more the result of just not knowing the right thing to do and a lack of perspective instead of a carefully orchestrated plot to keep women down.
The much-touted abusive language, sexual references and gore didn’t faze me at all. It’s possibly because I don’t really understand Bhojpuri to get the literal meanings of the expressions the characters use, and I expected more visual gore than what is shown. Plus, the background music and soundtrack, as well as the pacing and editing make sure to keep the mood easy and light instead of filling you with horror and disgust each time some violence breaks out or a character dies. Even when Manoj Bajpai has been shot brutally, instead of sweeping shots that let the tragedy sink in, you have him standing upright, with a gun, with an upbeat Bihar Ke Lala playing in the background.
There’s nothing more to say for the music score or the cinematography or the writing that hasn’t been said before. It all just goes well together, and trying to find faults seems more like nitpicking to me now. I must confess the movie didn’t knock my socks off, but that might have been due to my watching it on my laptop instead of a movie hall filled with people whistling and hooting at appropriate times that I appreciate the depth of what is happening. I really like what has been done with the subject matter at hand; it feels refreshing to my senses because I haven’t watched anything quite like this before, where I’m an amused bystander watching a gory drama unfold, and instead of feeling extreme emotions, I’m just grinning at how things happen.
Overall, I’d watch it again. And I can’t wait for Gangs of Wasseypur II.
Living in New York City has its perks. Hindi movies on the big screen are never too far away.
My flatmate was away for a bit. I wanted a fun-filled Saturday. Being away from Irvine and in an action-packed city, I seemed to have almost forgotten the pleasure of watching movies in theaters. Being away from the esteemed company of my friends in Irvine has a lot to do with it, probably. It’s a wonderful thing to pass Bangalore-referencing InternetMeme-referencing half-funny comments while watching a movie.
I decided to watch Kahaani, given that it was very highly rated by virtually everyone who had watched the movie. Turned out, Midtown East housed a Big Cinemas. As in Reliance. Wow. Samosas for snacks. Impressive. The theater marketed itself as a place where you could watch international movies, French and Italian and Korean and everything else, not just Indian ones. Brilliant move; this way, you attract not just a desi crowd, but also the hipster avant-garde international film-watching New Yorkers.
Oh, and I watched this movie all by myself. Know what, apart from the cashier’s sharp “ONE ticket?!’, there’s no indication of anyone giving a damn about your watching a movie alone. I miss funny comments and all that, but I ended up passing random comments and predicting the next few scenes with these two Indian-American didis who I was sitting next to. Was totally random fun. Especially when they termed the movie a combination of Kill Bill and Salt. Don’t ask me how that conclusion was reached.
Anyway. The Cult Of Bob Biswas.
For those who haven’t yet watched Kahaani, Bob Biswas is an assassin-for-hire. Unlike the usual solidly-built seven-footer types or the extremely lithe, ‘hai-yaa’-screaming martial artist types who usually play the roles of paid assassins, Bob Biswas wears thick coke-bottom classes, works at a desk job at an insurance firm (LIC?), is always on the brink of being fired, is chubby, short and stocky, doesn’t come anywhere close to being called fit. Oh, and he’s asthmatic, too (Oh, and the chief villain in the movie has a rare blood group…. no dearth of medical issues in the movie).
Totally. While the internet is not exploding with Bob Biswas references, the number of folks chattering about him is undeniably increasing.
Not unexpected. Bollywood produces too few memorable movies, and even fewer memorable leads, forget about memorable interesting fringe characters. Unless you watch movies as avidly as Dipta Chaudhuri, your chances of coming across a memorable character in mainstream Bollywood movies is rather low. Bob Biswas is rare enough to stick to the mind long after you’re done watching him. And we can’t deny he’s interesting either.
And what exactly makes him so memorable? To start with, I’d say he’s exactly the sort of character we would love to come up with while performing improv. Reminds me of the time these two guys spent the better part of 20 minutes doing a mom-son thing where the mom was abusive and kept making the son’s life comically miserable. We got all invested in the comically sobbing son, when he upped and killed the mother, and turned out to be a serial killer. All in comic fashion, of course. And all totally improvised.
It is really fun when two totally opposing ideas come together and actually work out, in improv. It’s not always a sure thing. A happy guy and a sad guy? Surely. Two totally excited guys? Totally, when they match each others’ energy levels, there’s only one way it goes. An excited guy and a bored guy? Mmm… not so much. A totally subdued type turning out to be a badass killer? Why not?
For all purposes, Bob Biswas is just a fun thing to play with. The very idea doesn’t make much sense, or we don’t have enough to go by to make such a character believable. How’d he get so good at murder, how does he lay low, how does he advertise and get his business, does he not have any enemies who’d be equally or more powerful and finish him off, and how does he go undetected and stay alive with all this?
Unless these questions are satisfyingly answered, Bob Biswas will never become a full-fledged spinoff or a full-length novel material.
But obviously, the writers of Kahaani never intended him to be all that (and there are plenty of characters that succeed without much of a backstory). Or anything apart from being some guy who gets caught and betrays the guy who hired him. They just thought to up the fun a little. I can picture the writers at a brainstorming session, and someone saying “What if he’s just a mamooli guy you see on the street and don’t even register?”. Most of the folks in the session would have laughed, cracked a couple of jokes and then someone else sees a workable idea taking shape, decides to go with it just to see what it leads to, adds details to solidify the character (“Let’s also give him a boring job… hey, I once had a roommate who worked at LIC, didn’t do a single thing….”), et voila.
When I think of it this way instead of just letting the idea for the character simmer in the backburner of my brain, I don’t anymore find him all that fascinating. But I still do smile a little that what would have been an absurd unworkable idea while whiteboarding was actually taken seriously, its merits recognized, and they actually gave it a form on the big screen.
Not every absurd idea is a good one, and not all of them merit precious time spent on them. But it is good to see how an idea, with some work done to it, can be fascinating, and feel like a rich contribution. And… I’m also glad for these successes, for it makes people – bosses, financiers, folks in jobs that require creative output – more inclined to say ‘Yes, and..’ to seemingly crazy ideas that come their way.
Life was never the same after the advent of the Sun Network. There was a movie every afternoon on Sun TV! Every afternoon! Previously, movies could be watched only on the weekends, on TV, so this was cause for much joy, especially among those who didn’t have much to do in the afternoons.
Then there was Sun Movies. Three or four movies a day! When I wasn’t burning my skin off in the sun during the summer vacations, or watching Cartoon Network, or fighting with my sister, I’d be glued to these movies.
This love for movies were further kindled by themed movie weeks on Sun TV. So the late evening movies for a particular week would follow some theme. Like ‘Adhiradi vaaram’, where all the movies would be action blockbusters, or ‘Thik-thik vaaram’, where horror movies would be screened the whole week, or even a week full of Vithalacharya movies, or movies where Vishwanathan-Ramamurthy were the composers. There were also other more specific themes like Movies Where Hero And Heroine Cannot Be Together, or Movies Where Love Is Sacrificed For Higher Reason. Apart from Movies Where One Or More Protagonists Are Differently-Abled, or Movies Where One Or More Of The Protagonists Are Dying (Of Cancer). I’m not making any of these up.
This went on for around a year or two, before they filled late evenings with some or the other soap (which all deserve a post or three to themselves… remember Chitthi, anyone?). Then they had a common theme throughout, with every day of the week having one genre. Like there was a comedy movie every Monday, a love story every Tuesday (Kaadhal Sevvaai), a classic old movie every Wednesday (Kaaviya Budhan), an action flick every Thursday (Adhiradi Vyaazhan) and a superhit blockbuster every Friday (Superhit VeLLi). This, apart from two movies, one in the afternoon and another in the evening, every Saturday and Sunday.
And I sat fixated as often as I could. Watched heckuva load of Tamil movies. Amma and I would watch some Kannada movies too, on Chandana, but we stuck to comedies… Anant Nag’s Ganesha ones, or S. Narayan… we both still adore his Oho. Channels would promptly be changed if it was a Kashinath movie. But I hated Kannada movies back then. They seemed too serious and too tragic. When we didn’t still have cable, Amma and Ajji would watch the Sunday evening Kannada movie on DD, and cry and cry and then cry some more. One movie which freaked the heck out of me had Ambarish write a letter in blood to the leading lady. Years later, when a classmate wrote a love letter in blood to another, I felt very very very faint not because it looked like a crazed madman’s handiwork, but because it brought back repressed memories of this movie. And I stopped watching Kannada movies after this one wacko movie where Ambarish gets bitten by a dog and dies of rabies. He barked like a dog, ate food from an aluminum plate not using his hands, frothed at the mouth, and died. I swore to myself I’d never watch a Kannada movie again, and never one with Ambarish in it.
So Tamil movies it was. And God, they weren’t any less gaga. They might be cheerier, more hopeful, better-made and more watchable, but less crazy, they most certainly weren’t.
One of the more tragic ones I watched involved a lower-middleclass family, where the father was presumed dead in a train accident. They get his insurance money, and their standard of living suitably improves. But then, the father comes back, and the rest of the movie is about the shenanigans that result from trying to hide him from the rest of the world. It could have been a nice comedy, but it mainly involved the family politics, grinding poverty, maintaining self-respect, and endless mother-in-law daughter-in-law shenanigans, apart from the mother not being able to wear her mangalsutra and sindoor even though her husband is alive. It sapped the energy out of me.
Then there was this seemingly normal movie where a boy with a widowed mother falls in love with a girl with a widower father. The girl’s father suitably opposed the match like all movie dads, but then he went one step further. He spoke to the boy’s mother, saying there’s only one way we can stop them from marrying and making the biggest mistake of their lives. And the mother agrees. They both get married, and then he snidely tells the boy, now since I’m married to your mother, Heroine is your….? . Mindblown, simply mindblown.
And I saw this one clip of a movie and couldn’t bear to watch it any more. So this guy has a rather cold wife who’s not being intimate with him. He takes her to a movie one evening. And from her horrified shrieks on watching it, we infer that it was an adult movie, and she is thoroughly disgusted and limp from shock. He tells her in a confrontational tone that he did that just to loosen her inhibitions after which she’d fall limp into his arms. Oh. My. God.
On the other end of the spectrum, there was this sweet movie on Young Love called Panneer Pushpangal. The western world (and the Star World-watching world) may have had its Wonder Years, and Kollywood had Panneer Pushpangal. It starred Prathap, who I used to confuse for Kokila Mohan, as a cool and with-it teacher at an Ooty boarding school, where the lead pair were students and fell in love. Of course, the girl’s mom was a witch and locked her daughter up, but the ragtag bunch of friends help her escape. She meets the boy, and then everyone wonders what to do. And then the movie ends. I rather liked this movie, I’ll admit, and wished my school had a teacher like Prathap. And I mention that movie here mainly because it has this wonderful, wonderful song.
Radhika (of Chitthi, Annamalai and Arasi fame) starred in a few more mindblerg movies I watched. First was this one where she woos Sivakumar as a village girl, going as far as getting each others’ names tattoed on their arms, after which he is transferred to the city, where he meets another Radhika who is a modern-dressing rich daughter of his boss. She keeps aggressively pursuing him, and he never gives in because he loves only the villager Radhika. He goes back to the village to find her, but she isn’t there and the whole village blames him for her disappearance. And then comes the shocker. Both the Radhikas are the same! It was an experiment where the rich girl was testing a potential suitor to see if he was only after her money. Oh, what problems rich girls have. Anyway he takes offense and spurns her, and her own father says while he supported her through this endeavour, he feels this sort of test insults any self-respecting man. Then both Sivakumar and Radhika down sleeping pills separately. After appropriate edge-of-seat shenanigans, the director makes sure both lives are saved and that they live happily ever after.
Another one was Meendum Oru Kaadhal Kadhai with Radhika and Prathap. They are two mentally-ill kids in an asylum, and are supervised by a progressive doctor played by Charuhaasan. Radhika is from a rich family who all don’t really like her, especially her scheming brother and brother’s wife, while Prathap has no one. They fall in love, get married and move to some new village with the doctor to have a new life. The village had a slew of quirky characters I don’t really recall, but most of the movie was pitiful while not being slapstick. Radhika ends up pregnant, and dies when Prathap is making her laugh or something…. most mindblerging natal death EVER. I didn’t follow what happened after that, but it might have involved the doctor dying after killing Prathap.
And then. This is the first mindblerging movie I watched, and the one which I was thinking about and then remembered all these movies I’ve talked about. I saw it first on DD one Sunday afternoon when they’d show regional-language movies, which meant this movie had subtitles. It starred Mohan as a Hindu boy, who falls for his sister’s Christian friend. She keeps away at first, actively asking him to get lost, but he persists and they end up in love [Aside: it never fails to blow my mind how easily couples before the Noughties fell in love in movies so quickly and based on so little! He saved my life, so I'm going to spend it with him! Or, she loves animals, so I'll love her]. His mother and her father can simply not submit to this match. They chain Mohan to a small room in their terrace, while the girl (who could have been called Julie and could have been played by Radha) is locked in her room, while presumably her wedding to a Christian boy was being planned. The separation proves too much for her, and as Christ is the reason she can’t be with her love, she hammers a nail through her palm, like was done to Christ. And obviously dies. He escapes from his shackles and comes to help her escape, but he only sees her little neighbour boy (every heroine in every movie before the late ’90s had one) standing in line for her funeral. He runs to the graveyard as they are reading out hymns before burying her, sees her dead, kisses her prone body and dies right there. Lovers dying, okay, fine, but nail through palm? That made my eight-year-old self squirm a whole lot when I saw a crucifix after that, and I took special care to never hold a nail in my hand, and was very edgy around hammers.
I’ve been wondering what the name of this movie is. Does anyone know? Please please tell me… I want to watch it again, this time with new eyes that are cynical about such dated movies.
But…. that might be jumping the gun. These movies were definitely cheesy. But they were gritty. And original. And had an honesty and creativity to them which is missing in later suave movies without bright lights and item dancers in shiny costumes. They had some really good music, and I don’t know how popular they turned out in their time, but their actors gave really wonderful performances in these movies.
The themes were bold and original. The filmmakers might have been wacko jerks with too many rich uncles, or they might have been thinkers, I’ll never know. But I’m glad these crude movies that lack even an ounce of finesse and subtlety got made. They were like alcohol experiments in undergrad where you experiment with a wide range of quality and quantity of drink before you figure out what works for you. The makers of these movies might have hit bull’s eye with exploring early-teenage love and jealousy with a Panneer Pushpangal, and I might be glad for that, but I’m also glad that they got the scenario of ‘What if a guy likes a girl but his mother marries her father?’ out of their systems so that none of us needs to explore that again.
I watched Rockford a day after I turned 14 and loved it. It was cheesy, it had hammy acting and dialogue delivery, the lead protagonist seems foolhardy now that I think of it, and Nagesh Kukunoor was a jerk teacher who I’d now never let near a tween. And the drama in that hostel there dwarfs all the drama I have in my life right now. The movie doesn’t age well.
Still, it was one of the many coming-of-age dramas we watched, and it was refreshing to see Nandita Das in a vaguely glam role, given that all she did before that was Art cinema. [Imagine, this movie's most glam component was Nandita Das]. It felt good to see kids on screen your age and having crushes on people twice and thrice their age. You knew people like that, you thought it was cute in a stupid way. And at that age, I was blissfully unaware of the more-suitable-for-adults disgusting bits in the movie, so it thankfully wasn’t where I ‘grew up’ out of disgust.
The girls in the movie were totally nothing compared to the ‘hottie’ kinds from Bishop Cottons and Frank Anthony and Sophia’s who your male classmates drooled over at Paulfest, SEEK, Manav and the other zillion fests you attended (while you passed snide remarks to them and teased them to no end while you and your group of girls sneakily checked out the college-age fest organizers) that you didn’t believe someone’d buy a rose off them, and you wondered where Nagesh Kukunoor had picked them. Surely it can’t have been for their acting abilities… they hammed their way through the few lines they had, and their expressions were as convincing as a Congressman.
Anyway I looked up the girl who played Malathi in the movie. Her name is Ulrika Krishnamurthy and she seems to have a lot more about her on the Net now, including model-looking pics… just goes on to show ‘beauty’ is something made, not what you’re born with.
But heck, I’ve not been able to find anything about the two boys who played the leads – Rohan Dey who played Rajesh Naidu, and Kailash Atmanathan who played Selva. Their names are not as unique as Ulrika’s, and Google’s results for them are swamped with ‘actor profiles’ for them on various websites which don’t have anything apart from their names. There seems no tangible results for them on social networking sites either. No news articles, neither from back then nor recent ones where they’ve done something like, say, act in a play and the reporter covering the event points to them as ‘that kid who acted in Rockford‘. What, did they just disappear?
So, um, any idea what happened to these lads? Did they get busy with JEE prep soon after the movie and become Industrial Engineers? Or, like Josh Saviano who played Paul Pfeiffer in The Wonder Years was rumoured to have grown up to be Marilyn Manson, did they lead wild crazy lives which for some weird reason escaped media scrutiny? Did they go into pure sciences due to which they don’t have and don’t need LinkedIn profiles? Or was there a mistake in their 10th standard CBSE admit cards due to which they are now known by different names? [True story, happened to someone a friend of mine knows]. Or did they get famous under a different name now?
If you who are reading this are Rohan Dey or Kailash Atmanathan or someone who knows them, please please leave a comment… I’m really curious and interested to know what’s up with them!
It’s close to dawn, and my code’s still running. I’m not in bed because I’m babysitting it. Not to worry (I know some of my kinsmen and kinswomen who read this blog do worry… much thanks ), I’ll wake up late in the morning… I’ve – or rather, my body has – become fanatic about getting seven hours downtime every 24 hours.
I plan to go on a Disney movie watching spree once I’m done with all that I’m currently doing. Yeah you can accuse the movies of promoting unhealthy body images in girls, Princess complexes, being racist, and a ton of other things, but they do bring the Magic alive. I was down low last week, and what made me fly again was Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars. I totally loved Schumacher’s cameo in Cars… though I don’t much know about F1 racing, I couldn’t help but be impressed when Schumacher visits Luigi and Guido and asks them for tyres.
Cars2 was a fun watch, too. I don’t understand why it has been panned so badly by critics. Why should an animated movie always have some sort of a message, about how we are polluting the environment or how we should switch to cleaner energy sources, or how we should eat healthier? Or about inner peace and discovering yourself. Or family values. Why can’t it just be plain fun, where we are awed by the awesomeness of the animators in anthropomorphising cars, planes, trains and boats, and getting and chuckling at all the references they make? It was fun watching a kiddie spy movie, with all the jingjang gadgets and parodies and tributes. The story might probably have required a lot more work, but the dialogues were spot on, the animation topnotch, and the overall execution great. In particular, I liked the scene where Mater gets knighted by the Queen, and she calls him Sir Tow Mater, when he says nope, it’s okay, you can just call me Mater, none of this Sir business, and oh, by the way, have you met my friend McQueen? McQueen, Queen, Queen, McQueen.
Kung Fu Panda 1 and 2 were quite impressive too. Yeah, it’s not really China there, and it’s way too Americanized, but heck, it’s a fun escapist watch.
And I’m still having a girl-crush (Womance? Sisfatuation?) on Tina Fey. No, I’m not asserting she’s perfect… I’m pretty sure to get to where she is, she should have been a jerk at one point or the other, presumably a ton of times, and listening to the way she insults people in public makes me wonder how she insults them when not on camera… she called Paris Hilton a tranny on Prime Time TV. But the thing is, she’s disciplined, works hard, lets her strong personality shine through… screw all the oh-she’s-a-lady-broke-the-glass-ceiling… she’s there because she worked hard for it, and that’s something I need to emulate.
I don’t know about other fields of science and technology, but Computer Science is pretty objective in terms of evaluation; I came across a study that says there’s less dissatisfaction and disparity in terms of pay and position among women in Engineering and Computer Science than the more women-dominated fields like the Humanities. No matter what everyone says, I don’t think there’s an active campaign to diss and keep downtrodden women in computer science. It feels like a boys’ club sometimes, especially when you are in a new area and everyone around you seems male and genius, quite the opposite of female and clueless which you are. But half the problem is the perception – the whole getting psyched about ‘OMG, I’m the only brown girl in the ring’, which brings down your morale and boldness. It takes only a couple of google searches to reach out to more people like you. And all you need to do is ask for help… people are nice. Sure there are the demoralizing jerks, but they are not everyone. None of this is easy or intuitive, but you need to just keep at it, keep these in mind. Yes, some bimbo will screw you over some time. Yes, some jerkofellow will take credit for your work at one point. Things will happen. But you’ve got to keep in mind hard work and smart work and dedication always pay off. They do, no matter how much life tries to convince you otherwise. You just need to take into account the fact that life is not fair.
Thanks to my wonderful friends, I saw Blackfield live in concert a few weeks back. They were wonderful. And Steven Wilson signed my ticket for me, but sadly was not posing for pics. Still… yippie-ki-yay.
I watched Guna last week. It’s one of the (many) movies where Kamal Haasan plays a deranged character. The first ten minutes of the movie creeped the hell out of me, and is still haunting me. I wonder very hard if people like Kamal Haasan and Ryu Murakami are sane in real life. Is their view of the world PG-13 for the most part? Do they view everyone in terms of neuroses and psychoses? Do they visualize dastardly acts of violence happening around them? Sometimes, when I people-watch, I start wondering about people’s backstories. They’d seem very Swami and Friends if I write them down… but what sort of backstories do Kamal and Murakami think of? When Kamal is pissed in real life, does he get poetic? When he cries in real life, does he do it Mahanadi-style or does he just sob quietly? I remember some talk of his where he says it’s like he leases out his mind to a character he’s playing, and makes the character vacate his mind once the lease period – his workday – is over. What was he like before he figured this simple thing out? Does he follow this to the T always?
I now see NITK has jumped on to the TEDx bandwagon and will host talks that’ll come under TEDx this Incident/Engineer. Since it’s a trend they are following (after NSIT and BITS and possibly others I’m not as such aware of), I wouldn’t say good job, great move or anything…. this was inevitable. And it’ll be a great experience for the students (and possibly faculty) organizing it. It’ll give NITK some very good press, and wider coverage. We should have been putting out Inci-Engi stuff on an official Youtube channel so far atleast, but this will catalyze all that, make all of it happen sooner than expected.
That said, what’s with the proliferation of these? Sure, it’s a good thing and all, but there seems to be no form of quality control. The few talks I’ve seen all seem to be put together on the way to the venue. One talk by RK Misra however seemed much godawesome, as did the one by the Faking News guy. What’s the point of the brand name if it doesn’t stand for quality? I was mildly irked by the frivolity of some of the topics, but more than that by the lack of dedication shown by some of the speakers. I can only hope the ones picked for TEDxNITSurathkal are folks showcasing good ideas and more importantly folks who speak well, and inspire NITKians and everyone else.
I’ll leave you with the third installment of Everything Is A Remix that came out in the past couple of weeks. I liked this one a heckuva lot. It’s about the nature of innovation and copying and standing on the shoulders of giants. In particular, I liked this quote by Henry Ford which summed it all up:
I invented nothing new. I simply assembled into a car the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work… Had I worked fifty or ten or even five years before, I would have failed. So it is with every new thing. Progress happens when all the factors that make for it are ready, and then it is inevitable. To teach that a comparatively few men are responsible for the greatest forward steps of mankind is the worst sort of nonsense.
I’ve been exceedingly tied up with this and that and god alone knows what else, though I feel like I’ve not gotten any darn thing done. But over the past couple of months, I’ve managed to watch and read stuff.
Most of it has been random shite I wouldn’t rewatch or reread. But some stuff has penetrated my numb skull and made an impression on me. I’m a sucker for small details which I don’t explicitly notice, but which give me a glimpse of a feeling of something, somewhere I want to be. A flick of the wrist, a hint of jealousy in a voice, some microexpression, pastel colour schemes… they don’t even register, but go on to hit me like a ton of bricks, drawing the seemingly arbitrary line between “good” and “godawesome”.
So… here goes.
I hunted this one up just for the title. It sounded genuinely hatke. It’s a whodunit, with Rajit Kapoor as the detective, only it’s more Roger Akroyd and Poirot’s Last Case than his well-known Byomkesh Bakshi. It is shot very well, the white balance makes the images very sharp. And the characters apart from Rajit Kapoor and Rati Agnihotri aren’t known faces. Due to this, it genuinely feels like a whodunit… you can’t assume anything about any of the characters, you’ll be willing to go wherever the story takes you.
Saat Khoon Maaf
This movie sort of lived up to expectations, though watching a bad print sort of dilutes the experience. But what I liked the best was not Priyanka Chopra’s performance, though she does do well here. It was the characters of the servants – the butler, Usha Uthup and the dwarf jockey which gave it a real feel for me. When the butler is poisoned, it sort of hit home for me, the evilness of Naseeruddin Shah’s character. Usually the support staff in any movie are either just in the background and nothing happens to them; they are in the same state in the end as in the beginning, or their deaths are inconsequential, some sort of a sideshow. But here, it’s a turning point in the movie. Whoa.
And Vivaan Shah. The character of the narrator was so incredibly well-etched. The dark way in which he talks about each death in a casual way mirrors the sort of feel in the original Susanna’s Seven Husbands story, where the narrator is just a bystander, but the muffled irritation he has to every husband of Susanna’s (and is conveying the same to his wife) earns my empathy, makes the story personal in a way going deeper in to Susanna’s mind couldn’t have.
Tina Fey’s memoir. It’s not a bodice-ripping tell-all tale or anything. It’s exactly what you expect from a comedy writer. She writes about her early life, her path to SNL, life at SNL, 30Rock, playing Sarah Palin.. and then reflecting on her life, child(ren)…. the stories aren’t spicy or edge-of-seat. But it’s the way she writes them that keeps you glued to the book. Her writing style when she is trying to be funny is reminiscent of Woody Allen. When she’s not being all WoodyAlleny, she has a very conversational, stream-of-consciousness way of writing. You can as well imagine her saying these things on some talk show or the other. Her pragmatic approach to feminism appealed to me, mainly because I haven’t heard these sorts of points of view elsewhere, and it gives my (very similar) points of view some validation.
I’ve always found Tina Fey pretty, and wondered where all those ugly-jokes came from – on 30Rock, everyone makes derisive references to her looks including herself, and she herself talks about her looks in a self-deprecating way. That, mind you, was a little unsettling… it felt like she was just playing the Geek Girl card while being Hollywood-ugly (the sort who only needs to take off her glasses to look like a leading lady), not real-ugly. But only until I saw what she looked like before she began doing Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live… overweight, badly-dressed, with a haircut that didn’t quite suit her… and realized, well, she does know what she’s going on about; it’s not just exploitation.
This gives her a self-deprecating yet mean and nasty sort of a sense of humour, that is enchantingly delightful. She disses Paris Hilton, she disses random people on the Internet who’ve left nasty comments about her… you don’t always want to agree with her, but her insults are fun to hear and file away in memory to use sometime later.
This is a famous movie, apparently. It’s one of those very few Chinese movies famous outside of China which aren’t about martial arts… here, you must keep in mind that the only Chinese movies I’ve watched are Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and those ones dubbed in Tamil that show on Vijay TV on Sundays.
This one’s made in and set in Hong Kong. It’s got two stories, told one after the other, and they pretty much don’t intersect except for one brief moment.
The stories are normal, usual, whatever you call it…. they didn’t much make an impact on me. What did was the dialogues… my favourite is where one of the protagonists is arguing with the cashier in a departmental store about the feelings of a can of pineapple. The cinematography is good too. It gives me a feeling of deja vu; I seem to have seen this movie before I came to UCI – When I was at Hong Kong airport for my transit, this was one of the first shots I took, and the movie seems to look like that, only much more ’90s-looking and with better white balance and contrast.
Yeah, the dialogues are good, but I think the poignancy in the movie comes from the heckuva lot of stuff that is left unsaid. It’s been ages since I’ve watched a movie with latent emotion portrayed in a believable way. You know that scene in Sarkar where AB senior and AB junior realize that Kay Kay Menon is the one who betrayed them or something? That whole scene passes without a single word, just ominous background score and ‘powerful’ glances exchanged between them. That’s ‘latent emotion’ alright, but I didn’t find it one bit believable…. it came off as too forced.
In the climax of Chungking Express, he asks her if they would accept a boarding pass that looks like the one she gave him a year back, and then she says a very casual ‘maybe’ after which she writes him a new boarding pass on a tissue… that scene to me was pure magic.
And, of course, the strains of California Dreaming playing throughout the second half… I liked very much.
I liked the first story much better than the second one. Maybe because like the protagonist there, my twenty-fifth birthday isn’t all that far away. Maybe because of the pineapple dialogue. Maybe because of the pithy philosophy he spouts while nursing a broken heart, same as I do even when not nursing a broken heart – “Running is good. The body loses so much fluid when you run so that there’s none left for tears”. Maybe because Takeshi Kaneishiro is way better looking than Tony Leung. Maybe because on some days, I feel like Brigette Lin, with the whole world against me and so tired that I want to just sleep, though I might not remember to wish people on their birthdays when I wake up. Maybe because I found Faye Wong’s character in the second half way too creepy and stalkerly… maybe a few years back, I’d've found her character as alluring and enigmatic as the director wants you to think she is, but all I feel now is she is crazy, creepy and needs a restraining order.
After watching this flick, I’ve pretty much made up my mind that I’m going to fly to India the next time transiting at Hong Kong, with a really really really long layover and a transit visa. And take pictures of the streets and neon lights downtown at night. And edit them to make them seem as psychedelic as possible without making it look like Tokyo….thinking of which city gives me the shudders; the ghost of the Ryu Murakami books I’ve read so far still refuse to stop haunting me.
I’ll leave you with a clip of Quentin Tarantino talking about Chungking Express.
I used to be a majorleague movie buff at one point of time. It almost seemed like no movie would release in Hindi, Kannada and Tamil, and to some extent, English, without my knowledge. Mind you, this was in the pre-Internet days, which meant I basically scoured MTV and Channel [V] and Sun TV and Udaya TV to insane extents. While also scouring the filmi news reported in Deccan Herald, Indian Express and, heh, ToI, apart from The Week, India Today and on occasion, The Hindu. I was too snobbish to read Filmfare and Stardust back then.
And then NITK happened, and I lost the TV habit, and there was no LAN or unlimited Internet my first two years to keep my movie habit going.
I used to think it was no big loss, because “the recent movies are all utter manure”. But that is totally not true… pop culture of an earlier era always seems godawesome because you forget about all the crap and only the awesome stuff remains burnt to memory. And I watched enough junk – Aarzoo, Mr. and Mrs. Khiladi, Zulmi, Zor, Yeh Tera Ghar Yeh Mera Ghar, Hum Saath Saath Hain were just some of the many repressed memories of utterly idiotic fare I indulged in back then. Oh, and the next time anyone calls Aamir Khar Mr. Perfectionist, they deserve to be subjected to Mela and 1947-Earth back to back.
I watched a lot of movies in third and final year, but those were more of random picks than any actual craze for cinema. Including the first day first show watch of Om Shanti Om. And in college, watching movies was something you did because it was there on an overfull LAN, not because you are fascinated by the trailer or anything. Accessing everything on the Internet has its pitfalls – your allergy for advertisements means that you don’t see anything you don’t explicitly want to see – including new stuff. Unless someone or the other recommends it to you.
Naturally, I am stuck in a ’92-Early’00s pop culture loop. And don’t really try to get out.
I wasn’t too aware of all the stuff I’ve written so far until late this afternoon. I came across the trailer for Vishal Bharadwaj’s 7 Khoon Maaf. Watch it yourself:
Don’t you feel the flesh creep a little? Especially at the ‘Darrrrlingggg’? The gentle, understated change from ‘Husband’ to ’7 Husbands’ piqued your curiosity, didn’t it? And John Abraham in drag… that makes you want to watch the movie just to know what the heck is up with that, doesn’t it?
After a really long time, I’m all fired up about a movie. About a Hindi movie…. I was suitably fired up about Shutter Island. So much that I think when I finally stream this movie, it’ll be something I actually make time for, not something I just look for on a boring weekend evening.
I am intrigued by the presence of Usha Uthup as well. She was nothing short of perfect as Madhavan’s snide mom in Manmadhan Ambu. And here, as a loyal housekeeper who won’t stop short of murder, I’m dying to watch her in it.
Most reviews seem to be dissing the movie. I don’t much care about it being macabre… that’s the point of such a flick – being a black comedy it’s supposed to present gruesome acts in a cute, sympathetic way that the juxtaposition shocks you. One review however got me down… it said the flick could have been so, so much more, and that Priyanka Chopra’s character is never explored much. *Sigh*
I guess this will turn out to be a colossal disappointment much like 90% of the movies I’ve waited for with bated breath. The most colossal disappointment I’ve had is Hey Ram. God the pre-release hype! Especially when it’s a bilingual, especially when the tags for the movie would be Gandhi, Independence, Partition, Kamal Haasan, Ilaiyaraja, Shah Rukh Khan, Kavignar Vaali, Hema Malini, Rani Mukherjee, Godse, Religious Riots, Kamal Haasan’s directorial debut, Kissing, and apart from all that, a very Iyengar-looking Bangalore girl (from MCC, no less) in the lead role hyped it extremely for me. The trailers, the music were all totally something. And then finally watching it…. god, what a damp squib. In the words of my aunt, “Tamizhum, Hindi-yum, Bengali-yum kalandhu onnume puriyala…. illa, onnu mattum purinjadu – Kamal thaan hero-nu“. [In the unholy mix that was the arbit usage of Hindi, Tamil and Bengali, all I could grasp was that Kamal was the hero].
But, you know what, I’d probably not care much if it did turn out to be a bad movie. I consider every movie an experience by itself. You don’t gain much from watching a bad movie, yes, but then, you don’t gain much by watching a good movie either. At max, watching movies opens up your imagination. Normally we’d all have super unconstrained imaginations, but given the barrage of movies, television and other media, we sort of begin thinking in a constrained way, and to keep it rich and vivid and active, we need to load up on as much information and as many narrative styles as we can manage.
Or maybe, I watch movies with the hope that something in them will be able to help me bring together all the little blips of inspired storytelling that flash to me at the randomest of times, into a coherent story. And each time I watch a bad movie, there’s already a framework for me to think in, and armchair filmmaking, whining about how this scene could have had ten times the impact if only this actor had done that and the other actor had done this, is a good enough starting point.
I just got done with Enthiran. Not on the big screen, sadly, but the awesomeness still shines through.
It is simply Perfect. Rather well-made product.
Ash is not irritating , she seems so totally back to her ’90s aura of wonderfulness, the science is not (atleast on the surface and a little deeper) screwed up, the music is actually good when you fit it with the rest of the movie, there is no chummangaati sentiment-putting, the gimmickry totally fits in with the plot, Danny Dengzongpa is scary, the references to past Rajini films and punch dialogues is just right. Then there’s also the total #win Asimov reference, and robots-building-more-new-robots dystopia.
And Rajini is Rajini.
It does have its downsides…. Karunas and Santhanam are wasted – that subplot is one of the worst I’ve seen, while it could have been used for such a lot more. The middle bits are a tad draggy. There’s too much carnage, though that fits in with the scale of the plot. And, well, the whole scientist-working-alone thing should totally not be allowed.
Plus, Rajini’s age is totally totally justified in the movie – he did a PhD and a postdoc, so he’s allowed to be Ancient most people on the verge of graduation are.
But you know what I liked best? They got the universities right – Rajinikanth is supposed to be a PhD from CMU’s Robotics department, and postdoc at Stanford. Yes, not your standard ‘Harward University’ or ‘University of California’. Such attention to detail…. all that was remaining was to add an ‘Advisor: Dr. Raj Reddy’, and ‘Member: STAIR Project’ at the end
You know what I would have liked better? To have Chitti do robot soccer
Dear Mr. Purie,
You quite obviously don’t know me. And while I know you (well, you head India Today), I didn’t much care. Your rag always lost out to The Week in my house, God alone knew why my father subscribed to you…. to me, you were inherently unreadable. I didn’t pay much attention to your antics. Until this morning.
I happened to come across this post not twenty minutes after I woke up. Normally, it takes the better part of an hour for me to ungrog. But Mr. Purie, your scandalous behaviour and the brush-it-off-gently apology got me all fired up in not more than three minutes. While my teammate was happy I showed up early to his meeting for once, I don’t much share his joy. I’m livid, pissed, wild, mad, cross, fuming, steaming at the ears.
Why, you ask? I’ll tell you why.
Firstly, plagiarism sucks. Secondly, plagiarism by a huge media house, especially one of the ‘India Today Conclave’ fame, totally totally sucks. Thirdly, a top editor like you not knowing about Thalaivar is BLASPHEMY. And fourthly, WTF excuse was that? Jet-lag?
I was jetlagged three weeks back. Not just your ordinary jetlag. I was coming from eight-regular-hours-of-sleep-IST to Pacific time. Twelve hours away. Twelve whole hours. Total reversal of night and day. Add to this, I had deadlines from my three classes, AND from two bosses, one of who was on Pacific time, and the other on Indian Standard Time. And that apart, Mr. Purie, I flew Economy. Nearly twenty-four hours. Not much legspace. Folks eating smelly food around me. Middle seat. Two stops. Baggage that weighed twice of what I weigh. Which I had to lug over three floors when I got home, no elevator. Not your first-class flight where you’d be served champagne and have ample leg-room, and have Ram Singh carry the luggage when you landed, for the short distance from the terminal to your airconditioned car.
I blogged when I was jetlagged. And blogged when I was both jetlagged and sleep-deprived. Did I plagiarise? NO. A big NO. Why didn’t I? Because I love my blog too much to post unoriginal content here, and pass it off as mine. This place is hallowed, and such injustice will be met with Hara-Kiri.
Also, I have been plagiarized. By Bangalore Mirror. Old story. I vilified them quite some on this blog. But you know what, Mr. Purie, you make them look like Sathya Harishchandra. Because, they posted my stuff without permission, but they did put my blog URL there. And when I complained, they responded. And apologized (though frankly, I’d say that was an apology for an apology). Quite unlike what you’ve done to my fellow blogger Niranjana.
My colleagues were to submit something for review and publication. And by publication, I mean in the proceeds of a conference, not a piddling rag like yours. New results and changes at the last moment made it such that they didn’t have all their references in place. Did they submit it and say ‘Hah, let’s see who finds out’? No, they did not. You might say yours is a mag that touches millions of life, and just HAS to be out by the deadline, but you know what, they had more at stake. They get this opportunity ONCE a year, mind you. And yet did not compromise on principles.
What were you thinking when you blatantly plagiarized? Doesn’t your conscience prick you? When I put my friend’s joke as a status message on gTalk, I add a “(Credit: Abhi/Tuna/Ego/Whoever)” bit towards the end, because it doesn’t feel fair when people ping me and say “Heh, you crack good jokes!”. We all do that. Even on Twitter, where no one would worry where a joke came from, people say “@jokerman says” or “(credit: @jokerman)”. Even the most mundane stuff, like a new word coined – like Kosubat (the electrified racquet used to kill mosquitos) or Homour (jokes about homosexuality).
Why do we do this? It’s our culture. Our honour code. ‘Stupid gits’, you might think. But no, Mr. Purie. It’s not just our morality that has resulted in this culture.We know what it’s like to have our friends copy from us and get higher marks. We know the resentment it breeds. We know what it’s like to pull an all-nighter and then have the folks who were lolling about get higher marks and skew the whole grading curve because they cheated. There’s no end to how much you can cheat. There are plenty of us who can keep coming up with better and better techniques to steal credit, not that the world needs it. We don’t want every sphere of our life descending into that sort of an abyss. Hence this culture and honour code. And you know what? We like this sort of an environment darned very much. We don’t have to worry about our jokes being stolen, so we let ‘er rip. We know our ideas will be attributed, so we put them out there for others to play with. We like this setup very much on the Net.
It might seem very old-fashioned to you, this moral posturing of mine. But you know what, Mr. Purie, you’re the fossil here. Did you really think you could get away with ripping off such a widely circulated article from the Net? Especially at the peak of Thalaivar-craziness? Especially in this age of Facebook and Twitter and gTalk status messages? Heck, it was the title of this Churumuri article, for godsake. For context, more people have read that article than your titchy Letter From The Editor. For context, Mr. Purie, that’s like ripping off Jai Ho and mega-releasing it as your own in the weeks following the Oscar nomination.
And when you say “Not being an acknowledged expert on the delightful southern superstar, I asked Delhi for some inputs.”, I can only say WTF. Any piddling two-bit journo knows enough to write about Rajnikanth, heck even Manu Joseph does. Or they pretend to, which is fine because we Thalaivar-fans don’t expect any insights into the method acting in Netrikan from anyone in the mainstream media. That you, yes YOU of the India Today Conclave fame, and YOU who edits ‘India’s Biggest Newsmagazine’ had no frickin’ clue on what to write about Thalaivar really gets my goat. If you had said this about Amitabh or SRK, there would have been blood on the streets. Blood. Yours. And the rest of your staff’s.
And I don’t get why you asked Delhi for input, especially given that a reasonably well-travelled Amit_123 like you itself had no clue about Thalaivar (No, he’s not just a ‘Southern Superstar’… he’s a South-East Asian Sensation as you would have realized if you had travelled through Japan, Singapore and Malaysia even once), what do you expect from the rest of the Amit_123s and Isha_123s there? I’d've thought the first logical reaction would have been to call Chennai. As we say on the Internet, #FAIL.
And how DARE you change it from SUPERSTAR to Superstar? All the Caps are merited. And we forgave the original author for not putting it in Bold, Underline and Fontsize 42 only because he was not Indian. You on the other hand…. bah!
You know why I’m pissed, Mr. Purie? It’s not just because you ripped something off. It’s your impunity in shrugging it off that gets my blood pressure rising. AND that no one is being fired over this. Or even getting a rap on the knuckle. Not just the Slate thing…. I’m more pissed about Niranjana’s situation. What sort of low-quality mediocre staff you have who can’t even have a few original ideas? And why are you still keeping them? And no rap? What sort of a message are you sending out? That it is okay to lie and cheat?
No remorse? No nothing? Atleast pretend you’re sorry about the whole deal, suspend someone for eyewashing…. do something! Even the smallest political scandal makes sure that atleast one person gets the axe! The fact that you’re not even pretending to be outraged outrages me.
I know Mr. Purie, that this letter might not even reach you, and even if it does, you wouldn’t read it (And if you do, you might plagiarize it… no worries, I now know I can issue a cease-and-desist notice if something like that happens). But I just have to write this because I feel quite outraged on knowing about your heinous act…. If Ponzi mated with Kaavya Viswanathan, and their Indian-Italian spawn then hooked up with Bangalore Mirror AND the folks from here and here, the offspring would be you.
OR Crazy Must Be God.
This post is a week overdue. Between reading and travelling and shopping, I don’t get much time to come online. Yay for that.
So I was a tad pissed two weeks back. Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood were performing in Bangalore, and entry was by ‘Invite Only’… only, the invites weren’t quite open to public. Adding salt to my wounds was that my friends in Calcutta snagged tickets for the same show… it was only in Bangalore that there was some kirrick happening which made the show more of a private party.
And then Amma pointed to an ad in the paper about Crazy Mohan performing his play Chocolate Krishna at Chowdiah on Sunday. I called the number in the ad. They said they had tickets available, which I immediately blocked. After I’d made doubly, triply, quadruply sure that I have the tickets (the lady on the other end got rather flustered just telling me my tickets weren’t going anywhere), I said ‘Gah! Who needs Colin and Brad when I have Crazy Mohan and Maadhu Balaji for six hours straight”. And grinned ear to ear.
Flashback a year. Crazy Mohan was performing Chocolate Krishna at Gayana Samaj. On a Sunday. Gayana Samaj’s phone number was out of order. And the website to book tickets was malfunctioning. And, most importantly, I was stuck debugging code until 11 pm on Saturday night. I’d missed that performance. And felt very bad.
Flashback twenty-odd years. I was a toddler. The entire clan was out for a movie, me in Amma’s arms. That was the first-ever movie I’d watched. I didn’t really follow anything, given that I barely had learned to speak… but I laugh at those jokes even today. Kamal Haasan in four roles. Mentally-ill industrialist. Sneaky secretaries. Cases of mistaken identity, aaL-maarattam. Confusion. Madness. Chaos. In other words, CrazyMohan-ness. Loved it.
Flashback fifteen-odd years. This time, it’s my sister who’s the first-time moviegoer. Kamal Haasan again, this time in two roles. Lovelorn landlords, lovelorn industrialists. Sneaky secretaries. Sticky-fingered household help. Drunk makeup artistes. Iyer-ness. In sum, CrazyMohan-ness. Totally loved it.
For the uninitiated, Crazy Mohan (Sometimes credited as ‘Gracy’ Mohan, in true Tamizh tradition of muddling up ‘ka’/'ga and ‘cha’/'ja’ and ‘tha/dha’) is a scriptwriter in the Tamil film industry. He has to his credit a lot of films like Arunachalam, Little John, Magalir Mattum and Indran Chandran, but he is known best for his comedies starring Kamal Haasan – Thenali, Michael Madana Kaamarajan, Panchatantiram, Sathi Leelavathi, Avvai Shanmughi… basically every damn movie which when relayed on TV stops all fights for the remote between my sister and I.
With his group Crazy Creations, he stages plays, which someone like me who’s living outside of Tamil Nadu knows about only because the stories get adapted and relayed on TV… they used to make for rather popular TV shows.
So when they were promoting Chocolate Krishna on Coffee with Anu, we all watched with rapt attention. A rather fun bunch of people, sharing anecdotes about each other. And then an interview of Mr. Mohan himself.
I didn’t know till then that he was an engineer too. Back then, when I was still wondering about what to do in life and whether engineering, even of the software sort suited me, it struck a chord with me. [And no, the fact that Chetan Bhagat is an engineer doesn't do anything to me].
So you sort of get why I was all excited about going to this live performance…. this was someone I’d been worshipping since my first taste of celluloid. The reasons stretch to more than just that he was a funny engineer. I’ll come to those a while later.
Malleswaram is on an average day full of people in Iyengar naamam and Hebbar Iyengar Tamizh [this is a tongue which uses the grammatical structure and sentence endings of Tamil, with most of the vocabulary being Kannada. Like "En magan-ku kaayle bandhudtu" or "Paath-kond vaa ma, neeru challidum"], but today was exceptional. More Tambrahms than you would find at the Srirangam temple on Vaikunta Ekadashi.
And for good reason. From what I’ve seen, Tambrahms form an integral part of Crazy Mohan’s fanbase. Not only is it because of the sort of language he uses, or the subjects he picks, but also because he is one of the very, very few scriptwriters who portrays Tambrahms as actual people. Most others choose to vilify us, highlight and lampoon and parody our customs, language and social structure, mostly going to the extent of highly exaggerating and manufacturing the ills of our community. Crazy Mohan on the other hand portrays us as People. People with the usual ups and downs and quirks and lovableness. For once, we don’t have to see a Tambrahm on screen as a vile bastard poisoning the villain’s mind, or a wicked witch looking down upon (and/or torturing) people of ‘lower’ castes, or sneakily eating meat. And hence, if there’s a Rangachari or Swaminathan in a movie where Crazy Mohan’s the scriptwriter, we can be more than confident of it being a portrayal we are comfortable with, not one where we look away bashfully when others look quizzically at us, wondering if all non-Brahm women who marry into Tambrahm households are routinely tortured, or if we all routinely practice untouchability with the household help.
It is however not just casteism that drives us all to set aside a Saturday afternoon whenever a film of his releases. Atleast not me…. his brand of humour with vile puns and wordplay is something I myself practice, possibly as a side-effect of watching his movies religiously for years and years.
But unlike me, he doesn’t stop with that. A typical Crazy Mohan story will have atleast a dozen convolutions, two dozen absurd situations which you will totally not buy if it was any other movie, and layers and layers of jokes a new one of which you’ll unravel with every time you watch the movie. And watch it repeatedly you will… the whole experience is extremely feel-good.
No other scriptwriter can convince you that three grown men will be in contention for a wizened lady well past her prime. No other scriptwriter can subtly put it across with dollops of humour that you need to put your wife above your friends. No other scriptwriter can make the saga of a husband jealous of his wife’s male friend (due to, of course, mistaken identities and two-three people with the same names) so funny that you cruelly want to watch him fall flat on his face when he discovers that his wife is not actually cheating on him; it’s just that the male friend’s girlfriend has the same name as his wife.
The most absurd lines sound so in-place and in-character in his scripts. Like when someone says “This is my son Uppili”, the other guy awkwardly asks “So… you married Uppili’s mother”. Or when someone enthusiastically says “Maadhu, Janaki writes a lot of Letters to the Editor… have you read any of them?”, and Maadhu replies with an earnest “I don’t read letters meant for others”, you are more inclined to laugh than to dismiss the exchange as lame.
And the best part is all the humour is all-inclusive. Never once do you feel any of the humour is at the expense of any person or groups of people. Or something you have to be above a certain age to fully appreciate. No double-meaning, no bait-and-switch… though that’d be so easy to do to draw some laughs. He actually takes the trouble to go back to the basics to provide some laughs.
Due to which a lot of his themes are very recurrent. A lot of his jokes are, too. When I got back from watching Chocolate Krishna and looked on Youtube for more of his stuff, I came across many different episodes with the same jokes as I’d heard that evening. The basic stories he works on too are reused often, with minor tweaks and edits here and there.
I’m not complaining, though. It’s nice to watch the same old Marriage Made in Saloon or Maadhu+2 refurbished. We all know the basic story, so we set those worries aside and concentrate on the jokes they slip in, the way the plot is adapted for changing times, and the minor tweaks they make that pleasantly surprise us.
One thing I deeply admire Crazy Mohan for is his ability to deal with even the most serious subjects and tragicky endings with a lighthearted style. I remember this one story where two doppelgangers vie for the affections of the same woman. The tragic ending was that this lady falls victim to a terminal illness when both the men say they’ll ‘sacrifice’ her for the other and she dies alone. While this would ordinarily have been depressing coming at the end of a story full of funny antics at outdoing the other, with Crazy Mohan’s treatment it took on a rather hilarious tone – the disease she suffers from is a ‘headache in the foot’ or something similar, and the two doppelgangers pretending to be the other. He however gave a ‘happy ending’, where there turns out to be a doppelganger of the lady too!
That was a minor episode for TV…. but Avvai Shanmughi was a take on divorce, Sathi Leelavathi about extra-marital affairs… remember the deep dialogues between Kamal Haasan and Heera Rajagopal where he gently points out that her boyfriend treats her as just a ‘keep’, he never takes her out to public places or official or family gatherings… and asks if she really wants to go on living like this.
The thing is, he never dwells on those bits for too long… it’s the sort of thing you’ll think about if you want to. And ignore it and laugh if you aren’t in the mood to. Not in-your-face, not provocative. Just a feel-good experience for everyone.
Back to Chocolate Krishna, the plot here wasn’t as convoluted and tangled as his usual plotlines. You could say it was low on story. He didn’t however scrimp on jokes. It was, as promised, 100 jokes in 100 minutes. Which were all so tautly woven into the plot that it makes ill sense to try reproduce those here. In any Crazy Mohan play, there is one scene where half the people there know what’s happening and the the other half don’t, and those in the know are trying to not be found out, which leads to a scene full of pun and wordplay. There was one such scene here too, but compared to his repertoire, it left a lot to be desired. But it was not any less funny, mind you.
All in all, Chocolate Krishna is certainly not one of Crazy Creations’ best work. It however is great to see them back and touring, giving us all a teaser of possibly awesomer work coming up next.
I sadly couldn’t stay on for another three hours to watch their Jurassic Baby…. quite possible that was their awesomer work.
However – this is the best part – I did get to speak to some of the cast, most notably Neelakantan – the old man who plays all the grandfather and astrologer roles. I told him I rather enjoy his clueless-looking performances in movies and on TV, and he talked to me like he would to a grandchild, even saying “Vaa kozhandhai…”… god, it’s rather long since someone said that to me!
And, even better, I did get to speak to Crazy Mohan. Rather a friendly person… he posed for like a zillion photographs with fans. I of course did a brilliant job of carrying along only my useless mobile camera, and didn’t even have a sheet of paper to ask for an autograph on. I think I was one of the very few who did more than just pose for pics with him… he’s rather a delight to talk to, though apparently he’s quite a shy and serious person in real life. I told him about the longtimeFan-ness and the *respect* that I automatically accord with all my heart to any engineer who writes brilliantly, which I mainly reserve for him and the late Sujatha, mainly coz I try to write too, and attempt at humour which is a pale imitation of his, but my ability to come up with strong stories and/or translate a solid story idea into something readable leaves a lot to be desired. He said I could write to him…. (which of course I had no time to do over the past week).
I’m still grinning widely at that memory. And will do so for a long time to come. It’s not everyday that you get to meet your idol. I’m sure I wouldn’t be so starry-eyed if I lived in Chennai and got to see his work more regularly, but the point is I’m not, and the rarity makes this whole deal all the more special for me.
On an aside… Crazy Mohan cracks kadi jokes… if he was a Gandhian, he’d be cracking khadi jokes.
Oh, and one of the jokes in the play – “What’s the difference between a Muni/Rishi and a Saamiyar?” “Kaat-la irundha Muni-var. Cot-la irundha saamiyar”. LOL-ness only.
It was a good idea to release Mani Ratnam’s latest flick Raavan in the rainy season. The rain and all the water adds a sort of surround effect to the scenic shots in the movie.
I watched the movie on the day of release, though missed the first half hour due to traffic jam and unhelpful rickshaw drivers in Mumbai. I thought it was fab.
Reading so many bad reviews and criticism about Abhishek Bachchan’s acting, I’m wondering if there is anything wrong with me or if my taste in movies has gone to dogs.
Tell me, is Ramayana a rule book, setting moral standards to people? Is it there to give definition to the whole of Rama as good. Raavana as bad. Sita as the perfect wife? (however hard it is to define such vague terms). How much do you really question the action of each character in the epic? Do we ever think that Valmiki might have just taken a break from his japa and the like and said “Hey! I’m bored, Let me write a story!”
Let’s say you read the whole of Ramayana as a story, in the same breath as say, Huckleberry Finn abridged version from a shelf of other classic abridge versions. All the Nava Rasas are squeezed from the pulp and juice distributed to the whole population of Dombivli. If you can add different Rasas in different proportion and completely mix it, you might actually set the reader thinking that Pap, Finn’s father as the “good guy” of the book. Maybe all your ingrained moral values might push you to think otherwise and hence hate it. But it’s worth a try. For art’s sake.
That, I think is precisely what Mani Ratnam has tried to do to Ramayana here. And that is why I hold the movie so highly. Starting from the point where Rama accused Sita and working backwards, trying to figure out if there may be a more human reason for his action (apart from God left his body after his work of killing Raavana was over), Mani Ratnam has tried to prove that if you tried to interpret each action in the rind differently, Raavana might have a better case in front of people. And the only Sita, with her better will power and better judgement can develop a soft corner for him. For her, Rama is still her beloved god, but Raavana’s actions are justified too. He tries to potray Raavana’s crimes as vengeance, more like his only weapon against the more powerful, more influential rule of Rama. His leadership is justified in the eyes of those who follow him. In the end, it is powerplay and the play of strong feelings, to possess the woman that they both are madly in love with.
As usual, Mani Ratnam, uses his visual prowess and better cinematography to woo the audience. But then he fails to deliver, where the authenticity of the ways of people where he claims the story takes place comes. Particularly, Beera’s ways of speaking, the change from Hindi to Bhojpuri is not very well shown. Better people than the super couple could have conveyed the story better. But then, Ash looks as beautiful as ever and Abhishek is still the gunda-mawali from Yuva. I guess, Mani Ratnam mischieviously tries to break them apart onscreen, only to keep their couple-ness intact by the end of the movie.
Overall, I would say it was worth that one watch, not anymore.
This might sound really sad, but my introduction to Netflix was through the Netflix Prize. In my defence, I wasn’t all that much into movies back when the contest was announced. And heck, the NITK LAN when I was around could easily beat any Netflix in terms of average quality of content hosted. And not that much into data mining either [the Netflix Prize was a contest where you had to devise a system which would predict ratings for movies you hadn't seen yet based on what you had rated, and not just that, you had to perform 10% better than Netflix's recommendation engine, and you would get a million dollars]. I didn’t know enough to compete back then. And now, there’s not going to be another Netflix contest [which essentially will mean a shot at a million dollars and/or bragging rights] thanks to some IITM-UTAustin-Stanford guy (Indian! Everyone, put your claws together for one of our very own!).
So anyway, now that I knew what Netflix was, I took amazingly long to visit the site. Yesterday I did. And the deal seemed rather OK – Trial run for two weeks, which I had to cancel before the two weeks were up, else I’d get billed for the month. And unlimited movies to watch online. Great, no?
Totally. I watched more movies yesterday than I normally watch in a week. It felt….. surreal. The max record I know of is Dha’s record of 9 movies in a day (Info gleaned from Smriti testimonials… is it an Urban Legend?). Anyway, these are the ones I watched yesterday.
- Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi: I totally totally liked SRK in this one. He doesn’t talk in his usual manner in the movie at all… whoa. Movie isn’t great, obviously. But the ending credits more than made up for it – Surinder-ji presenting his and Taani-ji’s Japan snaps.
- Welcome To Sajjanpur: Nice timepass movie. A little cliched in places, but overall, a good watch. Shreyas Talpade is totally lovable in this flick.
- Luck, By Chance: Ok, I didn’t watch this off Netflix, but I watched it yesterday, so it makes it to this list. I liked the opening credits quite some. I don’t know why, but I’ve always liked videos of people posing for photographs. I rather liked Rishi Kapoor and Juhi Chawla in it. Dimple Kapadia seemed too contrived to me, and I can’t stand Isha Sharvani’s giggle. I liked Farhan Akhtar’s understated manipulativeness, thankgod it was not the rubbing-hands-evil-glint routine.
- Blackadder Goes Forth – I’ve watched this before, and I can rattle off each dialogue before it’s uttered, but it’s brilliance, just plain brilliance.
- Hey, Arnold! (Season 3) – I used to watch this show long long ago, sporadically. It turns out that I appreciate this show better when I watch it right after coming back from school than now when I try watching the entire season at a stretch.
- The Proposal – I had watched Did You Hear About The Morgans a few months back. Man, what’s it about Hollywood and getting New Yorkers to live in some rural area due to a set of unforseen circumstances? It’s not sweet, it’s not cute, the granny is not as adorable as other Hollywood grannies, nor is the family, certainly not as adorable as the family in While You Were Sleeping. Random chickflick. Unless you really have no choice, don’t watch this one.
- Julie And Julia – Given that I’m going through a phase where I’m craving for short term goals and structure in life, AND that I blog, AND that I sort of like cooking, this one hit close to home. If you want to use your blog to set and fulfill short-term goals, and attempt to become a better person in the process, this movie’s for you. Also if you seek relief from the daily humdrum by making yourself a nice meal at the end of the day. Of course, I’ve ended up doing neither; I constantly waver between “Cooking is stress” and “Cooking is stress-relief”. Still, not a bad movie. It shows a blogger getting a book deal, so… well…
- District 9 – Aliens! Racism! Xenophobia! One of Us becoming One of Them! Those things didn’t really make much of an impact on me. What did, however, was the possibility of a senti sequel where Wikus is old, there’s a plot to remove Wikus’s then-assistant who’s now a good bigshot, Christopher is dead, and Christopher’s son comes back….. And I’d really have liked to see something about the Alien culture and all that. It’s a good watch, I’d say, and Sharlto Copley does do a good job of the whole thing. It’s good to see aliens being portrayed in a way different from the established norm in film industries worldwide.
- Monsoon Wedding – I’ve seen this often on TV and blogged about it too. Oh, it turns out that the girl who plays the 10-year-old is Naina Lal Kidwai’s daughter.
I should also state here that I began watching Shakespeare In Love, and Happenstance, and quit coz they weren’t riveting enough.
So did I beat Dha’s record? No, considering I didn’t really watch the entire season of Hey, Arnold. And even if I did, I’d probably be tied.
I’m not going to be doing this anytime in the future. Having so many movies at your disposal and limited time to watch them isn’t my cup of tea. Of course, it’d be much better if I took it in smaller doses…. there are lessons you learn from watching Arunachalam. I’ll be going home for the summer, and as part of closing a lot of things down, I’ve cancelled my Netflix account.
And I’m not really ruing that. There aren’t that many movies and TV shows you can watch online right now. Most of the ones I wanted to watch – the entire run of Whose Line and A Bit of Fry And Laurie and all the flicks from Studio Ghibli – are not available to watch online. Why, even the rather popular flick which I haven’t yet watched and whose name I will not reveal for fear of being crucified or lynched was not available to watch online. Rather a disappointment, that way.
Plus, a good number of the films I want to watch are Tamil or Kannada or Hindi. I sadly couldn’t find Manithanin Marupakkam, which I vaguely remember watching many years ago on Sun TV and being very intrigued by it. A lot of the movies I want to watch are like that – I’d've watched fifteen minutes of it before changing the channel many years ago, after which the clips keep coming back to me, and I decide I just have to watch this… often, those fifteen minutes have nothing to do with the general tone of the movie and I’m often disappointed, but not for lack of trying.
Still, a sort-of magical day when I could totally drown in a world of make-believe.
Oh, and how could I forget…. the ratings. I rated just around 60 movies, and already, the predictions for the ratings I’d give other movies were BANG ON!! Really, amazingly accurate. Down to the decimal point. Except when it predicted I’d give two-and-a-half stars for Avvai Shanmughi.
The one thing that strikes me about this is that the movies I’d give five stars to aren’t the ones I’d really prefer to watch at any given time. I like my mindless, useless chickflicks for a one-time watch. I find some Awesome movies totally depressing.
Maybe an alternative small task would be to predict which movies are a one-time watch, and which ones I’d like to rewatch?
This Post Contains Spoilers.
After Logik’s comment on my previous post, I decided to watch Paanch. It was one of those movies I’ve always wanted to watch, but not finding a copy online in the past put the idea out of my head. I didn’t want to watch it because I expected it to be awesomeness personified; it was more of curiosity – it wasn’t allowed to be released, and recently, I’d watched Anurag Kashyap’s movie for Star Bestsellers – Last Train to Mahakali, which starred Kay Kay Menon, and was rather impressed.
The movie starts off as expected – trippy opening credits – chaotic visuals of Mumbai(?) streets from a vehicle, as shot from a moving vehicle. And then the whole dope and rock n’ roll bit.
The story moves slowly. Until the Kidnapping.
There are five main characters, as the title suggests. It’s mainly told from the point of view of Murgi (Aditya Srivastava), who doesn’t have much to do in the movie until the end. The screen is occupied more by the cowardly Pondy, and the explosive, Satanic, edgy, pure evil Luke (which, midway through the movie, I wonder if it’s a shortened version of Lucifer. One of Kay Kay Menon’s best performances, I’ll say.), and the extremely loyal Joy. And in the second half, by the street-smart money-minded promiscuous Shiuli (Tejaswini Kolhapure).
Nothing redeeming about any of them. They are portrayed as being all about vices, no single endearing characteristic about any of them. No backstories that justify their behaviour. In another movie, you would have Shiuli’s promiscuity being explained by showing a flashback of her parents’ divorce, or being abused, or some such. But not here. The characters are unapologetically what they are.
Long story short, they have a band. And they need money for a demo tape. One of their friends suggests they ‘kidnap’ him and ask his father for ransom. And in one of his many fits of rage, Luke beats him to death. The police get suspicious. Luke gets edgier. Pondy gets cowardlier. They decide to rob the friend’s father. He walks in on them cleaning out his money. They kill him. His policeman pal finds out and confronts them. He is killed too, as is the constable with him. Soon, all four of them get frustrated with everything. They drown Luke. They turn themselves in.
So far, so good. If not sympathize or identify with the characters, you grok them, their motivations, their every next move. They are not deep, or with multiple layers, but that’s the whole point. The movie seems so far like a delicious study of anger, of frustration, of inflicting psychological pain, of forgetting all about right and wrong, of forgetting all about consequences. It is delectably trippy. It doesn’t tell a story so far; it presents to you a collection of fascinating characters together, like a social experiment or something – some points almost bring to mind the Stanford Prison Experiment. Nothing is explicitly said – it’s there for you to see, in the graffiti, in the way they speak, in their body language, in the bloodied dolls with severed heads in Luke’s room.
And at this point, Anurag Kashyap slips. Trips. And makes this your regular movie.
So it turns out Luke is not dead, and it was all a plan hatched by Murgi (yes, pun intended, you can laugh), Luke and Shiuli. And then the cunning woman pits them against each other, and everyone ends up dead and she decamps with the cash, becomes a popstar.
That killed it for me. That really did. The meandering first three-quarters of the movie prepared me for an ending, where, possibly, everyone dies, or where some die and the rest live on…. but not one where people take advantage of each other. If that was to be the highlight, it could have been done in so many other colourful, entertaining, psychedelic ways, keeping with the rest of the movie. There could have been such an undercurrent throughout the movie, if not through Shiuli, through some other character. You begin to feel the last quarter of the movie was ghost-directed by the spotboy or something.
And why was this banned? Because it showed the bad guy coming out smelling of roses? Flimsy. I think Dhoom probably had more sex and violence than this flick.
My verdict: It has its moments. Good dialogues [There's this one bit where Murgi and Pondy try their hand at waiting tables, and there's this frustrating customer who gives a long list of specs about his omelette. To which Murgi says "Murgi ka naam Champa hai, chalega?"] , great acting [As a friend said, Kay Kay has enough in him to have Mogambo running scared]. And the music, one of Vishal Bharadwaj’s best. All the songs are good to listen to, especially the jazzish Kaisa Hai Sheher by Dominique. Along with the visuals, it all comes together to make a trippy watch. A lot of promise, sadly shattered by the incongruent dénouement. Recommended watch. Out of Paanch, I’ll give it Teen. But only because I don’t give full ratings to any movie, and hence everything is suitably downgraded.
PS: The only version of Paanch that is out is a pirated version of the preview copy. Don’t feel too bad about watching that… Anurag Kashyap himself doesn’t much mind. Check out this byte from him: here.
I watched Shutter Island this morning. And read the book it is based on this afternoon. I liked both. That’s a first.
Ordinarily, it turns out that the one you come across first reeks of awesomeness, and the other always pales in comparison. I liked Sixth Sense – A Novelization better than the movie because I read the book first. And I liked the Bond movies better than the books. But in this case, no complaints about either. None, whatsoever.
The year 1954, an island connected to civilization only by a ferry, the island full of loons, no cellphones or other links, a storm and hurricane, and an escaped insane baby-drowning woman loose on the island. And a US Marshal with his own inner demons. Add to that disappearing inmates, the other inmates not telling the whole truth, suspicions of Nazi-esque experimentation on the human mind, a la The Men Who Stare At Goats. No sideshows, no distractions.What more do you need to create a taut, tense plotline that keeps you on the edge of your seat for each of the two hours and eighteen minutes of its running time?
I particularly liked the cinematography. Since this wasn’t an all-out extravaganza, there are no desktop wallpaper shots, but it is pure whiteBalance magic. The bright, warm shots of Teddy Daniels’s happier times also take on a surreal tone, consistent with the rest of the movie. There are no gory images out to shock… none of that sort of B-movie madness.
The book is short – only 131 pages. Perfect movie material. Martin Scorsese has stayed faithful to the book, with only a few omissions here and there, and just a couple of additions. No radical plot changes, which someone making Harry Potter movies would really have to rely on to get the movie within bladder-tolerant duration.
The best part is the dialogues just out of the book. So if you liked the book, it would be simply great to see all those lines you read and read over again come to life on screen.
Which also means, the book is taut, no loose ends. Not a single word wasted. No elaborate unnecessary descriptions. Nothing at all that distracts you from the plot.
Which means at no point during the movie you feel like you’re watching a movie. You don’t move, you are so riveted that you even forget to sip your lemonade or nibble at your popcorn.
And the performances. Ben Kingsley is awesome. DiCaprio… I saw him play a similar role in The Aviator last night, so yeah, well, nothing new there. Mark Ruffalo gives a measured supporting performance which makes you want to watch him in other movies as well.
The plotline…. there’s no point of going into that here… as is expected, the climax turns the whole thing on its head and I’m not inclined to give out spoilers. The concept might have been done before, but Scorsese brings a realistic feel to it.
So… should you read the book? Oh yes, you certainly should. Should you watch the movie? Please do, and join me in raving about it.
PS: I ranted about Google Buzz, and now I don’t much mind it. For all you know, I might be cursing the movie tomorrow. Don’t really go by my just-out-of-the-hall reviews. I once said *shudder* Rang De Basanti was awesome.
I guess this end of the blogosphere now knows all about the Lavanya Mohan – Charukesh Sekar story. Poor Lavanya, down with Charukesh and Vichar Hari yada yada. I’m surprised only one person has yet accused Lavanya of having her story ‘inspired’ from this Goodness Gracious Me sketch. J’Accuse! Make that count two. And KrishAshok saar, she need not have gone back and forth in time to view a video and write her story as you said, she could have just logged on to Youtube. I’m not saying she did or she didn’t. I’m just presenting the possibility. Of course, the possibility exists that she, like Kaavya Viswanathan, can cite Cryptomnesia.
But this case does bring up the issues of credit on the Net, non-attribution, and how easy it is to plagiarize. How easy it is to pass some story off as yours. And the prospect of seeing someone else reap the fruits of your hard work if you aren’t as popular or well-connected as Lavanya is.
A week back, I was wiki’ing for the storyline of Mumbai Salsa. There’s an American actress in that movie, Linda Arsenio. Click. Turns out she’s made quite a name for herself in Bollywood. She recently starred in the movie Aloo Chaat, alongside Aftab Shivdasani, Aamna Sharif, Kulbhushan Kharbanda. Click.
And the story read oh-so-so-so-familiar!
No, it wasn’t a rich-girl-poor-boy story.
But it was the same story as I’d received in an email fwd in December 2008. And this movie released only in June 2009. And it seems pretty popular on the Net, right from 2006. Here you go, link to the story, link to the story of Aloo Chaat. Decide for yourself.
The identity of the author seems lost to the recesses of time. But whoever you are, this is to inform you that you have been plagiarized. Sue ‘em for all it’s worth. Or atleast milk the publicity.
Of course, the chance is nonzero that the scriptwriter himself comes forward to say the story was originally his, and that he put it on the Internet circa 2004….
Now if there was one movie I was asked to recreate, it’d be 2012. I’ve been working on the Google Earth API for some time now, and all the stuff I’ve come across – zoom ins to historical spots, topographical maps, skies, day-night effects, sunlight-on-surfaces effects – is majorly the essence of this movie.
I have no excuse for watching this movie apart from acute boredom.
So the movie opens in a copper mine in India. Everyone in India wears turbans, including taxi drivers, everyone has a manservant, the women are all pretty and the men are either servile or nerdy. And everyone speaks English in an Apu-from-Simpsons-esque accent, with the phrase ‘my friend’ liberally littering their speech. And the names and places are imaginary… never in history have more nonsense words been invented in relation to India since Herge talked of the Maharaja of Gaipajama.
Jimmy Mistry is the Indian geologist who has discovered that solar flares are causing neutrinos or something like that, due to which the core will collapse and the crust caves in. He looks like a dad in an Asian Paints ad, with a wife and son to match. He also has very bad Hindi.
So black guy listens to this brown guy and gets freaked like crazy. Next person shocked is random white guy, who in turn shocks random black guy, who turns out to be President of the United States. Who freaks out other Heads of State.Who all jointly decide not to freak out the rest of the world.
And so random people end up getting killed, including the curator of the Louvre.
Nah, the story is getting too much into detail here. There isn’t that much of it to merit that. I’ll quickly summarize the rest of it.
As usual, there’s this broken-ish American home at the centre of the whole thing. Next time there’s a problem in my relationship, I’ll just pray hard for an earthquake/tsunami/terroristAttack/shootout/hostageCrisis which will magically make everything alright by killing off irritant sideRomanticInterests who might be direct competition for one or both of the main characters.
Oh, and how many people miraculously die when their part in the movie gets over. How many miraculously appear when you need them. You need a plane. Magically, there’s a pilot with a plane there. But you don’t want the pilot in the movie. So he dies in the earthquake. And they all suddenly remember “Gordon’s a pilot!”. And then you need a bigger plane to fly to China. Magically a rich Russian materializes with a big plane and experienced pilot to fly to China with. And he needs a co-pilot, so Gordon and gang are on. Then they hit China, and Sasha, the Russian pilot with the awfully exotic accent dies. Needless to mention, I was most sorry to see him go. Gordon the boyfriend becomes a thorn in the side once Hero and his ex-wife realize they still want to be together, so he dies in a freak accident.Hand of God? This God can only be a multi-limbed Hindu God.
But no, they have to be politically correct, and the teachings of the Booda (that’s what they call him in this country anyway) are in vogue, so you have a Tibetan monk explaining things by means of tea and teacups.
And then the movie gets more preachy, moralistic and stereotyped than a movie with Nirupa Roy. Family matters. Family. Family. Mother-father-kids. Family. Togetherness. Black-White Bhai-Bhai. Why don’t we listen to our hearts? And so on and so forth. Everyone ends up with a family or dead. Just like we have the whole mangalsutra sentiment, the wedding ring sentiment is coming up in Hollywood. Soon.
And a million subplots all ending by death of one or all of the parties concerned. The rate of death ending stories was so much, it reminded me of this post of Arjun’s.
What I was mildly irritated with was that they went through all the trouble of inventing names of Indian places, and when they showed an AngelaMerkel-esque German Head-of-State, and Queen Elizabeth and her dogs, couldn’t they, couldn’t they just show some random guy in a sherwani and say or atleast hint that he’s the Indian Head-of-State? One-sixth of humanity, folks, one-sixth of humanity. (One of my friends theorized that the Italian PM chooses to stay back in the Vatican and not join in the whole Noah’s Ark business because the Indian HoS was sufficient to represent both countries).
What I would have also preferred was that the who’s who of the world was supposed to be in the Ark, so couldn’t they have spent four minutes parodying, say, Bill Gates, Murdoch, Stephen Hawking, Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, Paul McCartney, Al Gore?
All in all, a Bollywood movie masquerading as a Hollywood one. Nice SFX, though. I’d like some posters of the movie.
And… I finally solved the mystery of why Hollywood movies are rather short, just over an hour – they don’t have the concept of ‘interval’. This movie was two and a half hours long, and no interval. Pretty evil, evil on the bladders of the audience.