Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Colombus in the time of Christmas

**** DISCLAIMER : All characters are fictitious and if you know who they really
are do not read ahead. It can be detrimental to their careers ***

1000 Hours 23-12-2006:The portents for the tour were not very good when we took
a wrong turn when joining the ring road itself. That made G very
reluctant to take directions from any one who said "Go straight" after that. But
as R pointed out "The Law of Averages would mean that we were less likely
to make a mistake in a territory we did not know." Traffic till we hit NH4 was
moving so slowly that some Snails in "Who comes last ?" competitions would be
put to shame!! But once we hit NH4 there was no looking back.

We first had to go through a toll gate where we needed to pay 21/-. After much
searching and finding a 1/- coin we got out through that toll only to miss the
Kamath and deciding to have early lunch. B had told us that we needed to by-pass
Tumkur and take the Gubbi road to join NH206. We did hit the correct road only
to lose it and travel through Tumkur and re-join the same road later. After
hitting Gubbi and joining NH206 the next landmark was Tiptur. At Tiptur there
was some blocking of the NH and we had to take a circuitous tour of Tiptur and
asking all and sundry how to reach Arasikere. We finally managed to hit
Arasikere at around 1400 hours. Just before we reached Arasikere we had lunch
at a place called Varun Dhaba. The spicy Dal that we had for lunch was just a
precursor for things to come. After gobbling down 12 rotis, capsicum masala
and all such we hit Kadur where two national highways intersect when I was
fast asleep.

There was quite a funny incident involving a shop-keeper Aunty who took R to
task for not learning Kannada even though he was in Bangalore for 5 years. We
escaped by a smattering of Kannada we knew. Though we did not have the strength
to reply to "Are you a pure telugu guy ?" So the next time you are on NH 206 do
stop just after you cross Tiptur and talk to her.

After Kadur we hit Tarikere at around 3 in the afternoon. After that the road
visibly degraded in quality. After taking a diversion to Shimoga from NH206 and
then taking a Tirthahalli by-pass after asking a couple of people we finally
were on the road. (Special mention must be made of a direction giver who told
us to turn right but used his left hand to indicate turning left. Eventually
we had to turn left.) After that the route was very picturesque and we made
good time to reach Tirthahalli by 1730 hours. A total journey time of 7.5 hours for 350km.

B was there to meet us. After freshening up the first place we went to eat
Bondas had no bondas so we had to do with hot Chilli Bhajji and not-so-hot
Aloo Bhajji. Then we went to a Mela which was taking place there. We were
astounded by the hepness of the mela. For those who don't know our lingo this
means that the BQ there was of a few 10's of helens. As compared to the local
ones that we see on Forum, Garuda or Brigade Road which involves low rise jeans
or tank tops and all that superficial-made-up-oh-look-at-me-I-am-so-hot
pukefest that we are used to. The colombus ride took the wind out of us and
yours truly whose remark of "Aah that thing is not so scary, let us try the
giant wheel" left having a T-Rex's foot in mouth syndrome.

And then we all planned to get drunk. After sipping lots of Vodkas the effect
on R was as follows:

1. Lights he saw were trailing away.
2. An octagonal shape first became heptagonal then circular.
3. He then tried finding a bride for G and that too from zee workplace.
4. After lot of persuasion we came up with a name of a married and old plump
5. After that we had R enacting out the new 7-Up Mallika ad.
6. R : "I think we should order 60+60+90=310ml of Romanov"
7. R : "I want one 30ml".
B : "You can either have 60ml or 90ml, not 130ml"
R : "Ok get me 1 space 30ml"
G : "It still is 130ml"
R : "Ok get me one underscore 30ml"
G : "It still is 130ml"
B : "How about 10ml+10ml+10ml"
R : "What the hell is that!!!!"
Finally of course we made him drink 60ml more.
8. Then he went after the director of our group.
9. Then A questioned the credentials of our CTO.
10. R then decided to write a mail to the CTO to tell him what an
un-enviable state he was in being the mentor of A and all that.
11. At this point dinner was over and the fun carried over into our room now
involving another female who apparently had turned up in Pink sometime and
had taken up G's fancy.

Next day morning began with hot dosas for breakfast. Yours truly ate so many that
B's brothers wife decided not to serve us and pointedly disappointed us by
serving A and R. Point to be taken note of "Don't eat like a barbarian when a
human being who is not your mother is making dosas, eventually you get kicked
out" (I probably had 15-20 before I stopped)

Next we trekked on top of a hill, that totally tired us out. But the view from
the top was quite good. Legend has it that you cannot build a house unless one
goes on top of this hill and builds a small one with stones.

And then I showed off my expertise at hitting a single stump by hitting one in
about a zillion tries. What didn't help was the fact that I was the only one
playing for the cricket team.

After that we went to a place close to Singeri where we saw fish that were
about 100 times the size of ones that you see in a Aquarium. R tried to
catch them but they would just slip out of his fingers, so he consoled himself
saying that it was a soothing touch he was giving them.

After a bit of rest and a bath we drove to a place called Kondadri where we
could see the sunset. The view was astounding and G was really happy
since he could drive till almost the top and didn't have to burn a calorie of

On the way back we realized that Bondas had yet again finished and we had to
make to do with Chilli and Aloo Bhajjis and Vadas this time around.

After having dinner in a basement restaurant in downtown Tirthahalli we decided
to call it a day and hit the sack.

Next morning was Akki roti for breakfast and after the experiences of the
previous day both me and R finished quite soon. We started at 11 not least due
to the fact that I needed to change the frame of my spectacles. Drive back was
uneventful till Gubbi. After Gubbi we managed to scratch B's car. This time
though we ensured that we stopped at Kamath and made sure we had Bonda soup
there so that B could claim that he fed us "Bondas" on the trip to his

But the drive from Yeshwantpur back to our houses was terrible and by the time
we reached Bangalore it was 2000.

So ended our trip to Tirthahalli.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Wizard "Down Under" is going Out

Cricket has lots of facets, but none as interesting as Wrist spin or Leg spin. It is a particularly difficult form of bowling in that it is bowled with precisely the opposite action of what one would naturally bowl
after picking a ball i.e. Offspin.

And so most of crickets leg spinners have been freaks right from the days of Clarrie Grimmett and Bill O'Reilly down the years to Richie Benaud to Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Abdul Qadir. If there is one thing that unites all of these bowlers is that though their bowling styles varied from the parsimonious (Grimmett) the ultra agressive (Reilly and Qadir) the purists delight (Benaud) to the freakiest of them all (Chandra) they all fascinated audiences the world over.

And so in this era of post 1990 also we had 3 contrasting leg spinners, the conventional leggie who would bowl the flipper as well as the googly with equal ease Mushtaq Ahmed to the accurate quick Anil Kumble and to the topic of the post Shane Warne.

And so the game of cricket will loose a lot of its shine when probably the greatest character in it Shane Warne a.k.a Hollywood is retiring. (I am sure pretty soon Dev Anand will make a movie on his life).

As a batsman you treat spinners as the item number of a bollywood movie a la Rakhi Sawant. They tease you with their flight and the great spinners dont mind being hit for a few boundaries before they set you up with a sucker of a delivery and you think to yourself in the pavilion "What was I thinking!!!" (The hero also thinks the same after Rakhi ditches him and the heroine consoles him at the right moment, me I have no heroines to console when I sit and think like that but we digress). Another thing as a batsman is that you prefer leg spinners since they give you more room since the ball is turning away. But what made Shane Warne such a great bowler was that even though he didnt possess a googly and pretty much lost everything of the flipper after his shoulder operation, was the in-drift he would get. As a batsman a leg spinner getting the ball to curve in the air towards your legs is like a 2-wheeler overtaking your car from right behind your blind spot. You always have that uneasy feeling at the back of your head when you play them.

And then there was his attitude. Post his shoulder operation he won half of his wickets purely by playing on the batsmans mind. It was interrogation of the highest order something that would probably even oershadow what our own Karan Thapar tries on Devils Advocate.

My enduring image of Shane Warne: Second test 4th day SCG 1997-98, Jacques Kallis has played 110 balls for 45 and has almost saved the match, Shane Warne is bowling the zillionth over of the match. Warne bowls a ball, curves in Kallis has the line covered but the ball somehow sneaks through the millimetric gap created between bat and pad by Kallis being a shade late and Warne has his 300th wicket in test cricket. It rains at the end of the fourth day and almost the whole of the fifth, this wicket was the turning point of the match.
Have a look at the photo. Excellent stuff.

And so I finish this post by some Lyrics from Black Sabbath's "Wizard" :
"What a batsman thinks when Warne is onto bowl":

Misty morning, clouds in the sky
Without warning, the wizard walks by
Casting his shadow, weaving his spell
Funny clothes, tinkling bell

Never talking (Not strictly true!!!)
Just keeps walking
Spreading his magic

"Now what the batsmen think":

Sun is shining, clouds have gone by
All the people give a happy sigh
He has passed by, giving his sign
Left all the people feeling so fine

Never talking (Ok he has plans of being a commentator so again not strictly true!!)
Just keeps walking
Spreading his magic

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Three reasons

Three Reasons I should have been a South African cricketer:

Reason #1

Reason #2

Reason #3, also the reason behind why Neil McKenzie needs to be in the SA Cricket team.

P.S : Wondering how they are related, they all belong to the WAG club of SA cricketers.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Black Friday

Well reason why I am cursing a Friday of all days is this.

As a person who has always rated style over substance when it comes to batting (yeah yeah I know it is in my genes after all, look at these Hyderabadi Cricketers)it is definitely sad news.

In an era where the emphasis has been on gluttony of runs, heavy bats and powerful strokes, Martyn was like a whiff of fresh air. Without a doubt we can say that Martyn was the David Gower of the first half of this decade.

I first watched him bat in the 2001 Ashes and was instantly hooked. Even the best of balls was dispatched with a minimum of fuss, the balls were stroked (He probably took what Wasim Akram said in an interview "Treat the ball like a beautiful lday" too literally) rather than hit, the bat working like a wand in the hands of a magician. One could see the unadulterated look of bewilderment coupled with wonder in the eyes of the bowler when the deftest of touches or prods would make the ball race away on the turf. He had the look of a person who has been denied his due when batting, his sheer hunger for runs indicated that. He probably should have played more than 100 tests but for some stupid ruthless policy of the Australian Board that chose to axe the junior most player who scored much more than most in the batting order for a batting collapse against SA in 1994.

Over the years I have watched some superb knocks from him the centuries in the sub continent in 2004, the world cup final, the champions trophy innings this year. But he would probably be the first one to admit he was off tune in the 2005 Ashes as well as now. So it is good he is retiring when people ask "Why ?" rather than "Why not!!".

So heres to Damien Martyn the sublime, one of the last style gurus of the art of batting.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Time your kills

What is good advice to the Amerigo's Army player also tends to be good for the aspiring psychopathic serial killer too. After all, the two tend to be the same kind of person living in different worlds.

Sadly, this is on a different topic. The great Caleb Carr, author of two books on early american psychopaths, the people who inspired criminal psychology to its current state ("analyze this", "analyze that", and one thing and another), decided to write about something more modern, and therefore suitable to the current crop of airport hoppers, and came up with Killing Time, a post-apocalyptic post-dystopian postmodern post-everything-else novel. It's enough to inspire you to go postal.

Normally, you tend to associate old Hawksley with the India caricatures, but reading this one impresses upon you (with a pneumatic hammer) how accurate Hawksley actually was. The Great Indo-Pak Nuclear Conflict tends to be an old favourite of post-* writers, with Carr providing an abject lesson on how to mess up. His deceased president "Rajiv Karamchand", for example - a name probably made up after skimming wikipedia PHD-class research (ignore for now the fact that if someone actually has a genetic history of both Rajiv and Karamchand, (s)he has to just not drool when making public appearances to be perpetually elected.)

We're probably better off not dissecting the story, beyond mentioning that it is a complicated pile of horrendous coincidences mingled with gratuitous insults to the readers intelligence interspersed with leaps of faith over steaming pollution-filled seas. Actually, no: it's just 'Atlas Shrugged' meets 'Timeline', updated with an even more disgustingly superhuman (assuming such a thing to be possible) cast.

My favourite line in the book is where they say that they've hoaxed religion, and so now need to hoax science, to keep things approximately even.

In other news, taking off ye olde spectacles[2], closing one eye and squinting with the other might make Eva Green look rather like la Bellucci might have in her younger days, which is a good thing. The rest of that movie defies comment, though. The Iron Flamingo must be regretting franchising his hero.

[2] Dangling reference. Where's [1]?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wild Strawberries eaten in The Silence lead to Cries and Whispers

...due to food poisoning. We'll ignore any effects that mingling with alternatively qualified multiculturally uplifted self-expressive individuals may cause. (Today is political correctness day.)

Bergmania is a pandemic disease that can affect even the die-hard Mithunda fan[1]. SIR model apart, the usual cure for this is identical to any vaccination: a small (or, as in this case, large) dose of the organism causing the disease in the first place. It appears that the pensioners hellhole is now safe from this disease, if the diminishing crowds at the screenings were any indication. (At least, until the next crop of new-age cellphone abusers cinema fans is spawned by the machines.)

Without more background noise, let's do a blinkered breakup and breakdown of a set of truly great movies:

  1. Smultronstället (1957) aka Wild Strawberries

    An escapee from the deadly Borg, Professor Borg is finally honoured for his desperate deeds and dashing bravery in support of the enterprise by some sort of medal, and so is on his way to an unfortunately named Swedish university. A few dreams, hitchhikers and accidents later, he discovers the meaning of life. Unfortunately, we are not the recipients of such information.

  2. Tystnaden (1963) aka The Silence

    A great entertainer, this one - not least, because it was punctuated rather effectively by an operatic rendition of "The Two Rings".

    IMDB notes parenthetically that this movie was the Lady Chatterley of Swedish cinema, which is perhaps appropriate. Like that book, it is long, rather boring and at best, pointless. And given what it opened the floodgates for, you wonder if it might have been better if it was banned.

  3. Viskningar och rop (1972) aka Cries and Whispers

    This movie is in colour, which seems somewhat appropriate, as the director had discovered a new special effect when working in such an unfamiliar medium: the fade. A lot of fades to and from Red (black is so mainstream) intersperse the tired old cinderella story of the sick and wealthy heiress, her grasping sisters, the devoted slave and the rabid prince. Well, maybe not the last one.

All in all, movies you should not miss. Use high-CEP weapons, though.

[1] 80's action heroes, personally. Bruiser Willis, Steven "Eric"
Seagal und die Gubernator, vhere are you when you're needed?

Friday, November 10, 2006


The random article feature on Wikipeida is quite interesting. Found this random article on The Oxford University Invariant Society.

No wonder then that the co-author of this blog calls himself the Alternate Moebyus. Though never seen him wearing the six colors of the Rubiks cube at the same time.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Four Books and Er Two Movies

It has been a long time since I posted, been horribly busy at work. But have managed to finsh reading 4 books and watching 2 excellent movies.

So here are the reviews:

1. The Life Before Us ("Madame Rosa") by Romain Gary -- Good book. But even better than the book is the interesting biography of the author at the end. Do read it if you havent already.

2. The Vines of Desire by Chitra Divakaruni -- Stupid and useless book. Dont even try reading it leave alone buying it which in a moment of temporary madness I bought. How could I have missed "From the author of the Mistress of Spices" which was staring at me right on the cover. As my English teacher in class XI and XII at school used to say (unlike most others I had), that dont use twenty words when two can suffice. Apparently Ms Divakaruni did not have Ms Baljeet Kaur teaching her English. Long winded sentences, flowery language, I think she would have gotten a lashing from Ms Kaur.

3. Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai -- Again an excellent book. Not since RK Narayan has any author written fiction with such characters in them that you could almost exclaim "A guy exactly likes that lives down the street". Surely a must buy and I am now planning to read her first book Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard.

4. Indian Summers by John Wright -- A book of a handful of anecdotes. But to the discerning reader who wants to read more than just a confrontation that Sehwag and Wright got into or a faux pas with VVS regarding TV commercials there is nothing much. You gain no insight into what went into making a team that would frequently roll over when push came to shove into a team that could push the Aussies to the limit. Diasppointing would be my opinion of the book. It does have some amusing sections though, like when he sees a lanky lad smashing the bowlers all around and Wright assuming that it must be the new batting opener Shiv Sunder Das only to turn out that it's the opening bowler Agarkar.

Right now am reading The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh. Review to be posted soon.

Also watched 2 excellent movies:

Pulp Fiction -- Excellent movie as only Tarantino can come up with. Watch out for Bruce Willis's girl friend talking about pot bellies and how they are different from a tummy. Man some movie it is.

On the Waterfront -- The movie on which Ghulam was based. Watch out for the famous taxi scene betweenMarlon Brando and Rod Steiger. Apparently to convince Brando who was a huge superstar at that time to act in this movie the producers decided to show him a ceratin up and coming young actor's audition for the role. It worked and Brando signed up. The "up and coming young actor" answered to the name of Paul Newman.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Going, Going, GongStar!

Boy meets girl
girl loses boy
girl meets boy
girl loses boy
girl loses boy
girl loses self

What can you say about a 0.4-year old movie that flopped? (Apart from rendering its thoughtful story and sensitive message into a form suitable for machine translation into Lojban, that is.) It seems to have gotten rave reviews elsewhere, so we feel it is our bounden duty to correct certain impressions that may be formed upon the tender and uninformed minds that tend to watch escapees from the Bhott stables.

Let's see, where do we start? The very beginning of the movie throws it into flashback mode, which is a curiosity - most cliched fiction tends to hold to the belief that your life flashes before your eyes when you drown, and not after a terminally bleeding shortsighted cop with meghalomaniac tendencies shoots you in the shoulder using a weapon that can be almost guaranteed to hit anything but the target at that distance.

Oops, did I "spoil" the story for you? Appy-polly-logies.

To continue, consider this guy - India's answer to Rowan Atkinson, who can out-act everyone else in the movie in spite of (or perhaps because of) having fewer words to say in the whole movie than are in this self-referential sentence. Also starring in this movie are the cereal kisser as the sharpshooting bar-singing empathetic dedicated diamond-and-coal (or similar unmixed metaphor, I forget) cop from "Indian Intelligence" who is out to make the arrest of his lifetime, with such success that, well, goes quite literally to his head. King Kongna, who manages to successfully distract the viewer from the fact that she can't quite act and speak at the same time, is the third angle (or side) to this convolutedly straight plot, and is perhaps the only reason to consider watching this movie at all.

Hm. That many long sentences later (which I hope your eye jumped over, as it should over this,) we move on to what this movie teaches us: For perhaps the first time in Bollywood movies, here is a movie with the music done almost right. (The other thing it did teach is that movies should be watched comfortably, but that is a whole different story.)

Oh, and I almost forgot: it's based on two real people (the cop being, most unfortunately, the creation of a fertile and scintillating mind?) who would be most thrilled to see their fate, since as far as I know, they're still alive.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Omkara is an excellent movie. Period.

After Maqbool (an excellent adaptation of Macbeth), Vishal Bharadwaj has come up with another adaptation of Shakespeare, this time around it is Othello.

And you fall in love with the movie right from the first lines of Langda Tyagi portrayed excellently by an ever improving Saif Ali Khan. The screenplay is exceptional, the music is great and the songs dont seem to have been inserted just to fill time, rather they flow with the movie.

For once Kareena Kapoors role didnt have me reaching for a brown bag to puke in. Casting her in the role of Dolly Mishra our own desi Desdemona, she looks every bit the extremely beautiful woman that she is supposed to play. Look out for her trying to sing Stevie Wonders "I just called to say I love you".

Ajay Devgan plays the role of a brooding Om Shukla (a.k.a Omi Bhaiya), Othello in the original. I thnk far too many people give a lot of credit to him for playing such roles. I think its as easy for him to do these serious no-fun roles as it is for Shah Rukh Khan to play Rahul the lover boy. But again excellent casting.

Konkona Sen Sharma plays Indu or Emilia in the original and comes up with yet another brilliant performance. Two of her scenes stand out in the whole movie, the first one when she teases Ajay Devgan after he gets Kareena to elope with him and the other one at the end where she looks like the devil incarnate.

The directorial touch here introduces Bipasha Basu as a dancer of the more "exotic" variety, and I guess she never looked hotter in any of her other movies. And the lyrics by Gulzar for both her songs are exemplary.

Vivek Oberoi flatters to decieve when he plays the role of Keshav 'Kesu Firangi' Upadhyay, Cassio in the original play. He does do a decent job, but then when compared with the rest of the cast he does come up short.

And finally we come to "Langda Tygai" played by Saif Ali Khan, Iago in the play. This has to be the performance of the movie, and probably the best ever by Saif. The look on his face when Kesu is made bahubali is priceless. There are so many more scenes that stand out in your memory : The bridge scene with Raju, the drunken binge just before the item number, the scene with Omi just as they are about to kill someone, where he amplifies the seeds of suspicion that are there in Omis mind about Dollys fidelity. I wrote the review late just to see how much I remember of Saifs performance and it seems to me that most of it is still there at the back of my mind.

Special mention must be made of Naseeruddin Shahs performance as bhaisaab, the scene where he tells the guard to reverse the train is abosultely hilarious.

Coming to the screenplay and dialogues, both are magnificent. Theres a song called "Jag Ja" and its shots are film making of the highest order. Dialogues, they are too good and are in the local dialect. So if you have problems with strong language or cannot understand Hindi spoken very rapidly then you are better off skipping it or watching it on DVD with sub-titles though I wonder whether it will have the same effect as watching it in a theatre and understanding the language.

All in all a great relief to watch Omkara, after watching Junk Movie #1, Junk Movie #2, Junk Movie #3, Junk Movie #4.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Practically Pathetically Poor joke

As I was watching a Clint movie yesterday, I just came up with the following poem :

A Clint a day keeps Marlyn away,BUT
A Mithunda a day keeps Rakhi Sawant away!!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Great birthdays

Todays the birthday of two great men Sir Gary Sobers and Sachin Dev Burman (his 100th to boot according to The Hindu).

The former is arguably the greatest all rounder to ever play the game of cricket while the latter was one of Indians all time great music directors. A curious co-incidence is the fact that one of the best batsmen of my times Sachin Tendulkar is named after Sachin Dev Burman.

First Sir Gary Sobers, 8000 odd runs at 58 and 235 wickets at an average of 34 says something about this master of the game. He is one of the players chosen in Bradmans XI of the best players the Don has seen play and fills the crucial all rounders slot along with another of my favourite cricketers Keith Miller. Sir Gary got 90 votes out of 100 for the five Wisden cricketers of the century second only to the incomparable Don who got all 100(nothin less was expected from him).

But then Sir Gary was more Keith Miller than the Don. Probably his best innings was the 254 that he played against the Australians while playing for the World XI. In the first 3 innings he was something of a bunny against Dennis Lillee. He didnt earn any sympathy from Lillee by bowling short to him in the second match's first innings at the MCG. Lillee is supposed to have said "That little bastard, I will show him ... I haven't really bowled at him yet'." What followed the next day in the second innings was pure vintage Sobers, he just thrashed them. 254 superbly compiled runs which led him to remark : "Every attacking shot went to the boundary and Dennis, as inexperienced as he was then, was bowling too short." There is one shot that will always remain etched in my memory (courtesy all those Saturday special couloumns that I would read in The Hindu by Nirmal Sekhar and co.) a yorker to which most batsman would have thought of defending off the front foot to a pacer of Lillees pace (Abdul Razzaq found out too late yesterday against Steve Harmison of not going forward) just lent back and sent it crashing into the long off fence. Lillees views "went down in my follow-through to try to stop it; by the time I was down, I was looking back and the ball had hit the boundary fence and bounced back. I have never witnessed a shot of such power and grace. I thought to myself, `We are in for some,'".

The Dons comments: "Having seen all the players of the last 50 years, I believe that Sobers' was the greatest exhibition of batting seen in Australia. I have seen nothing equal to it in this country."

He also commited some blunders mostly as a captain, declaring against England setting them a target of 200 in 165 mins resulting in a loss. But then thats the way he played his cricket, for him it was just a sport and there was no fun in no result test matches.

Heres a much better account of the meastro : To Sir With Love

What can one talk about a musician of the calibre of Sachin Dev Burman, well all one needs to do is watch Bandini to realise his mastery, suffice it to say that each composition just kept getting better as the movie went on and listening to "O Re Maajhi" I was transformed into some other dimension, a higher state of living. I will leave the rest to my Musician Friend.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Every day in every way I am becoming more and more Bitter

Sjecas li se, Dolly Bell (1981)

How do you like a movie? In general, I believe there are three kinds of movies: the kind you hate in the absolute sense, the kind that you can watch once, and the kind that you can watch many times (which is usually because it has a lobby scene, the lady herself, or maybe the great chain gang talks about sailing into the uncharted international waters of high finance)

Movies directed by Kusturica seem to fall into the last category. No fault of his, though. Somehow, with a small-name cast (well, no-name, but I was curious about Dolly) he manages to bring down that rare bird: an enjoyable movie.

The story, itself, is not very unique: a "growing-up story", crammed into the post-Sputnik era in that most bombed of Bosnian cities, where young Dinosaur learns that he is a special person: He has been empowered by the Baba of the earth above and sky below as his prophet in Jugo. His mission (which he chose to accept) is to preach the wonders of autosuggestion and hypnotism to none other than Mandrake the Magician.

Unfortunately, real life intervenes. Dino is a great musician with an appalling taste in music (as clearly demonstrated by an Italian love song that he sings. Another proof: when his uncle belts out a snappy Servian number on the local guitar, he chooses to have an impromptu session of all-in wrassling with a brother of his, who is only too happy to oblige.) The local Kommuneastern Hauptkampgruppefuhrer, affectionately referred to as "four-eyes" by the subtitles, is obliged to organise a band to rock out said Italian song. Band gets led by the young saurian himself, which naturally cuts into his prophetic works.

Incidentally, there is this almost amusing incident where one of the more fervent followers of the deputy baba tries to hypnotise his girl (judging from earlier remarks he makes about her, and his later behaviour, I have no hesitation in claiming they are the "made for each other" type.), only to have the hypnosis succeed all too well. He is so surprised by that that the baba resolves to punish him for his thoughtcrime.

All stories about growing up inevitably tend to involve a certain type of female love interest. This seems to be a reasonable truth. When in doubt, remember la bella's second least horrible role, in Malena. (While I am sure that Caulfield did not have any such thing, what do I remember? Maybe the reference passed right over my head. Anyway.) The dinosaur meets his companion from the ark when she gets rudely dumped at his window, with instructions from the local mafiosi on what she is to be fed when kept in his zoo. (Literally a zoo, since he feeds pigeons and hypnotises rabbits there.) The usual sort of stuff happens, followed by the usual sort of denouement when said mafiosi recollects that he had left a package c/o the saur. Incidentally, this female interest is Dolly Bell, and she gets this name from (another!) Italian "actress", whom she does her valiant best to impersonate, with the full and compleat package consisting of a blond wig and not much else.

Interspersed with this moving and touching and feeling story are the inevitable subtexts, such as on the evils of smoking, and the problems that hospital life causes to your devout scientist.

The finale consists of le Saur reading out the least efficient plan to cause a permanent summer on the earth to his father on his deathbed (not Dino's.) Everyone knows that moving the earth's plane of rotation is silly: a nuclear war is the fastest way to cause that particular type of summer. It beats out the closest competing plan - that of burning fuel like mad - as it is much faster.

Actually, no - that's not the finale. The finale is the usual "moving on, better times, better places" kind of stuff. But by then, the audience tends to wait in a sick dread for the inevitable discussions that follow such movies. They reminded me, rather clearly, why I considered the great zentral schule board's move to replace traditional english textbooks with "communicative "english"" to be somewhat less than optimal. Remember your english classes in school? People who couldn't recognise an original idea if it gave them a lap dance would proudly declaim original "explanations" for the chocolate cream soldier's cowardice.

In conclusion, the movie leaves us with two thoughts:

  1. What the hell happened to Dolly Bell?

  2. Ingrish classes are injurious to health

And yes, dark chocolate is nice. As is coffee without milk.

Monday, July 17, 2006

C.S.R -- Korporate S**t Review

I Nightwatchmen dont believe I am doing this (shamelessly inspired from this). Reviewing a movie filled with so much stupidity that it does not deserve a review, but then again I dont do too many things I believe in.

Basically think of the director as a IIT-ian who like all male IIT-ians is totally deprived of any sort of female company for 4 years when his hormones were in over drive. Now he wanted to make a porn movie but then he realised to get into Page 3 you needed to do something else (no puns intended). So then he wields the camera and derives vicarious pleasure(s) by making actors and actresses play out what he would have been fantasising about when he was in a class of Applied Geology on Friday afternoons in the sweltering heat of April.

1. As one of the guys on the board who screws his underling and gives her a "out of turn" promotion.

2. As the chairman of a big company who has a news reporter for confidante who arranges for young nubile nymphomaniacs for him. (Just to releive his guilt he calls the confidante a "bloody pimp" sometime in the movie when I was not muttering "what the f**k is going on ?").

3. As the COO of the rival company who keeps giving lecherous glances at anything that has a hole and moves.

4. As the finance minister of the state who gets to screw the top notch(all the notches were really at the top) item girl. (By the way please if the item number bandi does have weight in all the wrong places it is not the best thing to make her bend and film her in profile, it sort of shows that gravity actually exists....)

5. Again as the COO of the rival company who is first seduced by the bong COO(bherry bherry komplikated name) of the rival company only to refuse to sleep with him but in the process causing a spurt in his testosterone generation. Later on going to a disco and finding a model with big whatever (surely not brains) who literally performs lots of jobs and once our COO is asleep only to see the bong COO back, use a USB to download data from the hard drive of his laptop (this is getting dirtier and dirtier) which shows all the promos of the latest ad campaign to be run by his company. Passwords anyone ??

6. And then of course how can I forget the loser of the world who screws the heroine only to jump off a building and die and leave the heroine all alone with his kid.

There are 2 good things to look out for

1. Designer shades of the heroine (and no there are no shades of grey here)

2. Her designer watches, absolutely fabulous.

Friday, June 30, 2006

This is not a Review

20 things not to do in a movie:

1. AMOUNT = PRINCIPAL + INTEREST does NOT constitute an IQ test. Please refer to a textbook on general psychology to figure out what constitutes an IQ test.

2. If you are making a movie on a superhero, dont make him do stunts like running faster than a horse, Mithunda runs faster than electricity to save his sister from the electric chair without claiming to have gotten any powers from aliens.

3. Have a random female who does not look good play your heroine who goes for para gliding and then crash onto a tree top only to be rescued by the hero. All that is fine but the random female emitting a series of "feline sounds" that would make you wish that you were actually listening to "Tera Tera Sooroor" by Himesh Reshamiyya who has a nose for these things is a frightening proposition.

4. Random females who para glide with so much make up that you wonder whether she was not better off following the example of her "most admirable living woman" Mother Teresa.

5. Have a species who is the random females companion who looks and sounds so irritating that you wonder whether it wasnt better for the villain to make an early entry and boil her in a vat full of castor oil before feeding her to his pigs.

6. Have the random female emit cacophonous sounds on twisting her ankle that it makes you suddenly realise that the "Old lady in the CL of IIT Kgp sounded melodious".

7. Have a heroine who looked great in her time and still looks good play the grandmother of the protagonist and somehow force her to act in the way that the Big B did in that @#&^@*#^ of a movie called Black.

8. After a serious bit of miscasting make her wash clothes so many times with the detergent brand displayed so prominently so many times that it makes you wonder whether there isnt more significance attached to it. Like maybe the grandma is a drug addict who compulsively has to have heroin which she conveniently stores in her detergnet pack to fool her MENSA club potential grandson.

9. Have the random female say "Krishna tumhe English aati hai", in the process making all guys who have that name a huge inferiority complex. I could hear a groan "Damn that explains why I am still single, the gals think I am an illiterate, uncouth guy who does not know English".

10. Have the random female and the companion wear such skimpy clothes to their office that it makes you doubt whether the real casting couch exists not in the film industry but in the offices of the news channels.

11. After having an irritating species for the companion(IC for irritating companion) get someone who is 10 times as bad to play the random females(RF) boss, and you think of the punishment in #5 above and immediately feel sorry for the pigs.

12. Not having enough money to make the movie, which leaves one at the sponsors mercy and then you suddenly have RF,IC eating the sponsors chips almost all the time. (For the discerning electrical engineers there was no pun intended in the above statement).

13. Have 5 songs too many. (For the numerically and arithmetically challenged this movie had 5 songs).

14. Have a person whos played some excellent roles in the past including a novice photographer and a cricket coach to play the villain.

15. Make him appear in such a mop of grey hair that you begin to wonder whether the joke really is true about grey cells all coming out with the grey hair. I mean why the hell would such a talented actor play such a stupid role.

16. Dont ever make the villain "The chairman of the biggest IT company in the world, Techtotronix". (Far too close to Tektronix in my opinion).

17. Dont make reporters interviewing the aforesaid villain come up with statements like "Your contributions to the field of wireless communications are immense. Because of your work computers have become handheld, we can now watch cricket matches on mobile phones". (Unfortunately I happen to work on this field which didnt really help matters).

18. When you want to give the villain a abnormal streak please come up with something more imaginative than the villain mouthing what the next days news reader would do beginning all the way with "Breaking News". Instead of giving the villain a psycho streak it gives him a comic one.

19. While making a movie about a superhero, dont wait till the second half of the second half of the movie for the hero to become the superhero. Making him romance RF for the first three quarters of the movie only makes matters worse.

20. Dont have grand reunions of the Great Indian Family at the end and then make the superheroes father make transmitters that emit "The sum of all vibrations in the unvierse - OM" to attract aliens, that makes you realise exactly what Jagjit Singh is talking about in this Ghazal :

"Jeete Rahne ki Sazaa de Zindagi ai Zindagi
Jeete Rahne ki Sazaa de Zindagi ai Zindagi
Ab to marne ki dua de Zindagi ai Zindagi".

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fear the Hairy Fairies

If only we were talking about these.

To properly review a movie, it requires one of two things: that you really like it (and presumably, it is a great movie, rather than a pile of bat droppings that went unsold at the weekly fertilizer fair), or that you really hate it. Hatred is an underrated force, the kind that can move mountains and collapse buildings. Pure clean hatred, and glowing anger are usually an indicator that someone succeeded in doing something valuable to them (and pissing off everyone else, but that is a different story.) If a movie inspires neither emotion, it tends to be almost impossible to hate, and impossible to dislike either. The barriers are too high for successful tunnelling in either direction. In this respect, I would actually claim that hatred is a positive emotion.

Now this movie, which stars Paresh Rawal and his two lapdogs as the band of bumbling brothers who pull off a sick jape or two while simultaneously trying to channel Guy Richie, inspires one emotion. Actually, it inspires a lot more than that: The initial song-and-dance sequence demonstrates, a little too graphically, that some (all, probably) actresses are courageous, to actually allow themselves to be photographed at close-range. Or maybe photographed at all, particularly if you end up sitting in the cramped seating of the forward rows of a relatively large-screened theater whose projection devices are run by a deaf operator. However, this is digression.

The fairies in this case are the bloody-minded overspending lapdogs, and the owner of the lap, all of who get involved in a complicated plot to retrieve money they had stolen from "Ocean's Twelve" (the story was stolen from O12, and the money in "Hairy Fairies", I mean.)

The short of it is that they invest in the Great Indian Bull Market, which invests in the unnamed foreign Military-Industrial Cartel (in the words of the Bipshell Bong herself. Er, bongshell, but you get the idea), which is of course known to double its investors contributions in 7 days. Unfortunately for all of them, a peace or two happened, the bull went bear (in some shady nudist club or other, it happens to the beast of us), and they (and the people they borrowed from) are all suddenly looking at well, a flop?

Meanwhile, the busy investor was busy discovering the difficulty in converting a thousand-rupee note into smaller fragments without cutting it -- which is considered a heinous crime by all and sundry, even if its a fake note -- in the pleasantly unpleasant company of the other bongshell. This would have provided an amusing diversion, were it not for the fact that the movie itself is an amusing diversion for the terminally embalmed and fatally decomposed victims that archaeologists dig up every now and then, getting cursed in the process.

Much complications ensue, that involve:

  • dance bars which seem to be all dance and no bar

  • stereotyped villains

  • monotyped villains, who cross-dress (as cops also, that is)

  • a chimpanzee

  • a painting of Shivaji that gets desecrated

  • a toy rabbit that swallows diamonds, presumably with the daily recommended quantity of roughage (thus, of course, ensuring that Guy R's other movie is also copied from)

  • a circus

  • high-jinks and hijacks, acrobats and airheads

  • a lot more diamonds than can be expected to fit in a pouch that size

  • moral lessons

  • sartorial lessons, particularly on the inadvisability of wearing pink and simultaneously giving Himmy the Ham a chance to not breathe through his nose

  • while on songs, do you dream in audio? dolby, no less?

  • did I mention pink? purple? yellow? green?

  • and Himmy the Hammer? Who sings, not exactly like MC Hammer, but like the mosquito orchestra I train to serenade me while sleeping - they weigh much less than headphones, you see. And of course, the lack of visual distraction that might prevent people from noticing the agonies of torture they are suffering.

The prize of course goes to the comments overheard "The first half was good, but the second half was too complicated", and "those three are fun, but the side characters spoil the movie"

Since some people seem to feel that I have a negative attitude about movies, let me state that I look carefully for positive aspects, as the proactive synergy required for positive thinking requires a wholly partial fully distributed approach.

And the positive? The creative instincts of the filmmaker (may he go forever unnamed, so that no blasphemous words be uttered to despoil the peace) did not dare to tamper with LS2SB's ending.

Monday, June 26, 2006

gods, capital letters and capital punishment.

All things dull and ugly,
All creatures short and squat,
All things rude and nasty,
The Lord God made the lot.

Each little snake that poisons,
Each little wasp that stings,
He made their brutish venom.
He made their horrid wings.

All things sick and cancerous,
All evil great and small,
All things foul and dangerous,
The Lord God made them all.

Each nasty little hornet,
Each beastly little squid--
Who made the spikey urchin?
Who made the sharks? He did!

All things scabbed and ulcerous,
All pox both great and small,
Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
The Lord God made them all
-- Selim, at "the board"

For all the theists and monotheists offended by the above, do take the time to reflect that it is true: The ahwk needed enough room to carry the damn mosquito in it[1]. Informal histories report that the statutory pool of sewage to ensure that particular pair's successful breeding was warmly welcomed by the rest of the animals. This may have been the first recorded instance of political myopia (save the pwetty bwoodsuckersTM) causing long-term damage.

I devoutly hope that the polytheists are not offended by the above poem. After all, one set of polytheists does not have a god for lords, and the other set has snake (and jackal) gods.

But too much of these godly deviations can take up the whole post, which, despite the fun it affords, is not exactly what we aim for. So without too much more delay, we dive into:

Journal d'un cure de campagne (1950)

A movie that gives a deep insight into the above poem, as well as its original version. While the title does not need translation, those who think it refers to the famous article in the Non-Ahngleeish Medical Journal about the healthful effect of Dom Perignon 1950 will be disappointed.

This movie is about a young (and ill) priest who goes to his first parish, and promptly proceeds to solve all the problems that the local parishioners face. Unfortunately, some of them regard his approach as being theoretically unsound, and not amenable to use by number-crunching machinery. The rest of the movie continues this theme, and finally finishes by finishing off the priest (ill, you remember?)

One technique that Bresson abuses is the device of someone telling the priest something, and the movie proceeding for some time before the audience discovers what that was. Hey, it was made in '50, when this was probably a radical departure from 'standard' linear plot evolution. It is probably unfair to the man to consider it as a cheap attempt to add suspense.

This movie is, by the way, religious. In the words of someone else, you will like this movie, if this is the sort of thing you like.

[1] To bring this story within the bounds of all most modern fiction, maybe what the ark carried was the DNA of some unicellular organism?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Kaa ho, Seth?

[uneditors translation of the above statement, made in a dialect marred by a mouthful of chewable carcinogen: "Death, where is thy sting?"]

Damnation (Karhozat)

Movies shot after the 60's should stick to colour. If not, it tends to give them a look that sometimes may wildly succeed (in spite of my initial objections), but more often than not, give the movie the look of a low-budget horror film.

Take this one, for instance: award winning and much tarred-and-feathered director, nameless (and anyway unpronounceable) cast, and in the end, the movie leaves you with a sense of -- but I'm jumping. Some amount of suspense is required.

So, the basic premise: it's the cold war, advisors say the analysts say that the golden age is just over, and production of minerals is at an all-time automated high. Ore cabs sail blithely over Notown, Communeastern Europe on their way to be processed into arms to continue the (Mexican) standoff. None of which actually matters, since the movie has nothing to do with weighty world events, except that the constant buzzing of the cabs provides background music to nonexistent conversations.

Enter into this, a solipsistic bar-hopping hero who spends his remaining time looking out the window and wondering why his calculator says that 178212 + 184112 = 192212, when he knows pretty well that the old man said it wouldn't.

Unfortunately for his peace of mind, the woman he stalks in whatever spare time his other occupations leave him is married. So he gets her husband a job, smuggling some unnamed material from a certain Khan, A. Q. to a nameless third power, via the long way (scenic trip, you know. Much easier on the tyres.) The aim being, of course, to convince the woman that he is capable of doing a lot more than just proving Fermat wrong.

A few thousand parties and bar-hops later, he takes the sensible step of informing the local CIA office that the husband (now safely returned from transporting his valuable cargo) actually smuggled something he shouldn't have to an undesirable destination. This masterstroke reduces him to conversing with dogs, who are the only company he has who don't actively bark back at him: naturally, he can bark a lot louder. Than the dogs, that is.

Oh, how could I forget the Oracle, making her first appearance here, as a woman whose hair went white because of the shocks that dealing with such heroes gave her? Her tendency to quote wildly inappropriate passages from holy books?

For a noir movie that pretends to not explain the meaning of life, the universe and everything else, it is the sort of slow-moving caterpillared plot-less egregious excuse for entertainment that would put a chess game between two rank (and smelly) amateurs playing underwater to shame. Anything else, however, is beyond its limited capabilites.

An imdb reviewer says "[the cameraman] Medvigy uses light like Ennio Morricone uses music." Quite true. It's overused, repetitive and the sort of thing you tend to carry in your mind for a very long time after watching the movie.

Now where's my Mithunda movie? I want my mithun movie! Dhormendro in "Garam Veer" doesn't quite cut it - warm beer is for the ancient Britons only...

Thursday, June 01, 2006


I had almost decided that this movie was not worth a review. But then when Megha decided to blog about it, I thought I would be doing a dis-service to all the insane people who read this blog.

Well review is gonna be short. I watched it on Friday night intending to watch a proper time pass 36 China Town, but zee Innovative Multiplex guys decided to become zee innovative and changed all the movie timings. And I had to end up watching this movie. Only when I saw that the director was Kunal Kohli (who by the way copied Hum Tum from When Harry Met Sally and left out what was in my opinion the best scene, yeah the one where Meg Ryan fakes it) did I realise that after Trimurti this was my worst choice ever.

The Movie starts off well though, what with Kajol playing a blind girl unpretentiously, such a refreshing change from the overacted-ultra-mega-giga-hamming-ooh-I-am-so-blind-look-at-me-fighting-to-behave-normally role that Rani essayed in Black. And of course the first song "Chand Sifarish" (excellent bass guitar and thankfully no nasal himesh to ruin it) and all the excellent shayaris did hold my attention for some time.

Theres the hot friend (forget her name, though I wonder whether Aamir did a Akshaye Khanna from "Dil Chahta Hai" by falling for the older woman). Just to remind me that its a mediocre Kunal Kohli movie yet again we have Kiron Kher (whose immortal lines in Hum Tum were : "nikke nikke bache tatti kar rahe hain road pe, mazaa aa gaya") whose only aim in life seems to be to get her daughter screwed by a "shehzaada" (roughly translated a prince who is straight), and yeah did I mention Aamir in a vain effort to build some strength in his forearms lifts Kajol(who by the way looks great and for once in a movie is not shouting in her high pitch irritating voice) in his hands and walks on some train tracks(Me wishing that the Shatabdi Express comes along the rails and Aamirs legs get stuck in one of those joints in the rails) and that at the end of the first half Kajol is voila not blind.

Then it all goes awry. Finally I guess I found why Indias population is so high, all it needs is for Kajol to get screwed once by Aamir and soon enough theres the kid later on (She was not only blind but DUMB as well you see). Tabu plays some kind of anti-terrorist-crack squad leader. No wonder imdb does not have her in the credits. Coz she and the whole squad of hers is really a crack. All in all the second half is tortouous the only saving grace being the last song "Tere Haath Main".

Please stay home and watch this movie being shown yet again on Zee cinema rather than risk Fanaa. Fanaa is seriously Fun-naaaah.

P.S : There was one redeeming feature for me, the fact that I ended up sitting next to a colleague who wanted to whisper coochy-cooes to his fiancee all through the movie but his bad luck that me and my friend made life tough for him till he bought enough samosas in the interval to stuff our mouths up during the second half. And also did I mention that to de-stress myself after this traumatic experience of watching Fanna I went home and watched Lara play an accomplished 69 in his penultimate ODI at Trinidad and Tobago. His six off Bhajji and two inside out lofted drives over cover off Powar made the day er night for me.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The reification of an ideal

One of this insighnificant one's significant aims in life was to become a culture fart, after noticing that once you start talking about why Hegel and Schlegel are better than Whegel to similarly-minded people, why, your opinion on such mundane questions like, say, the best way to burn a transistor[1] is positively sought after. Your sphere of influence immediately becomes a target needing a radiation-hardened bunker, and you spend the rest of your life wondering why the lambs run away as you approach with the butcher knife hidden safely behind your back.

So naturally, once opportunity knocked with an offer to "improve my cultural horizons", I ended up taking it: Winners of the Palme d'Or (foldly called the "pah! deo!" by those of us who can't pronounce it), screened in a fashion to enlighten uncultured pond scum[2] while still providing wholesome entertainment to the rest of the world.

Naturally, some reputations suffered.

Here's a list, and the recommendations:

  • Shadow Warrior(Kagemusha)

    A secret weapon created to avenge great loss of life, this movie succeeds in what it was created to do. The only doubt remaining is what, exactly, that was. It certainly wasn't to describe how Ieyasu Tokugawa became Shogun after Roman-descended missionaries sold him weaponry capable of converting three cavalry charges into dog meat. It wasn't a story of how one man reforms, discovers a purpose in life, and dies on losing that. This movie is watchable, in spite of possessing the trappings that a pahdeo winning movie seems to need.

    Of course, the fact still remains: play Total War: Shogun, and you get a much more immersive experience of how to become Shogun. You miss the human interest stuff, though - which might be a bad thing. Or not. The historical details (as much as I know, which isn't much) are very nicely done in the movie, and if you like that sort of thing, and are willing to endure directorial dictatorship. Besides, Kurosawa had no Kensai. No Legendary Geishas, either.

    Since this is supposed to be a movie that makes you think, don't be disappointed if all you can think is "Sank de Gott! Itt eis der Ower."

  • Underground (Podzemlje)

    Light relief after shogunnic wars consists of the Wehrmacht rolling into Yugoslavia, the resistance run by a pair of actors, Tito and the Balkan genocide. Watching this, I realised that there is a very simple-minded formula to make a movie that I am almost sure to enjoy:

    • crooked heroes

    • crooked villains (who are the villains rather than the heroes through no fault of their own: Maybe they were born under a swastika, maybe Broccoli decided that they needed a hole in the head[3]). Even better, if the villain has no screen time, and just his(her? their?) deeds show.

    • a plot that gets so complicated that keeping it in some sort of order requires a legion of auditors. It needn't make sense, thought that separates the truly great movies from the passing fancies. The Wacky Bros greivously disappoint on this score.

    • Eyecandy. It need not be the Bellucci, even the fires signalling the orc (or whatever) advance (or retreat) in LotR:RotK fits. Bellucci is just more likely to tilt the scale on the "right" side, though...

    • Humour. It need not be black, though that is always a bonus.

    • Only in strict moderation, "social messages". It helps if they're not obvious. Gobbels wanted.

    And of course, watch out for the chimpanzee.

    This is the best movie of the lot, even considering the rosebuttbud. Stolen news footage cleverly juxtaposed with Marko Markovich gives it a sense of immediacy about forty years too late, though the serbian shots make it worthwhile. Add in the wheelchair and the tolling church bell, to get one of the most powerful images of this movie (That the director promptly ruins with
    his own version of heaven. If heaven is like the wedding of the Corleone daughter, we prefer hell.)

  • A taste of cherry (Ta'm e guilass)

    No, it doesn't mean a Tam in a glass - imbibing that particular concoction will leave you lucky if you get off with the bubonic plague.

    Another of those sensitive movies, this time about a guy who wishes to commit suicide, and yet be buried properly in accordance with his religious beliefs, I presume. What other reason can anyone have to offer people money to bury him? At that - Tehran seems to be a well-behaved and proper city. Try that particular stunt in this hell-hole, and you're likely to get your
    wishes answered rather more quickly than you ever wanted.

    The ending doesn't tell us whether he dies or lives (I've spoilt the movie for you. Appy Polly Logies.) More seriously: it doesn't tell us why he decides to commit suicide. Now, since I'm an insensitive character, here's my take: Badii the bad is a professional goldfish racer, who races his fishies against those the Smart Set of Iran cultivate. Owing to a sudden shortage of fish at the local Dhaba, the cook breaks into B. the b's place, and steals his thoroughbred racer, which has forty-two generations of careful inbreeding behind it (Cleo, eat dirt. You had what? Seven?) Next thing you know, well, you have a depressed rich maniac running around the industrial wastelands searching for an accomplice to help him die. Technically, they're not accomplices, but his burial duty, for a special consideration.

    B. the b's even gone to the extent of digging his grave in an out-of-the-way place, so all they have to do is cause a landslide - no infrequent occurence in mud hills - which takes care of the problem nicely. So he finds his victim (accomplice, I mean), a loudmouth, talkative stuffer[4] whom he magically creates out of a stone shoveller, who is supposed to do his best to wake him up. Bad the baddy then goes, takes a sleeping draught[5] and goes to lie down in his makeshift grave.

    The movie would end there, but then Der Directornaut Kierostami got a sure-fire idea to get his movie the pahdeo. The (now sadly annihilated) Republican Guard invades, and puts B. the baddy into a dilution camp, where he plies his trade. Die End (or is it Der End? No matter.)

It seems that being a c.f. is a nice thing.

[1] There is a best way.

[2] and coincidentally induce severe spinal disorder in the long term. Not that it matters - the pursuit of liberty, freedom and culture is fraught with hardship to be endured.

[3] Sadly, he wasn't the best villain Bond had to deal with. Bond villains never die, they never say never.

[4] Taxidermist. Refer Sharpe T., "The Throwback".

[5] Water?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Presenting V for Vishesh Tippani

After reading Meghas latest post I decided to internalise a movie that one of my co-bloggers reviewed.

The movies name will be "V for Vishesh Tippani". Its hero will be the lovely person who is the object of Meghas post. The hero in this movie will quote Prabhuji, Chiru and Rajni of course not in that order.

Also his favourite movie will be this one rather than "The Count of Monte Cristo".

Next thing to do is figure out who will play the bald Natalie Portman in my movie, I will of course get Sushma Sworoj to do it since by then Sonia Gandhi would have become our PM.

I would like to ask Neha whether she would kindly agree to play the blood-thirsty-over-ambitious-oh-I-think-I-am-the-next-nobel-winner-doctor who makes VT to veer away from Mom, Aloo ke Parathe and Gajar ka Halwa to "Defend democracy in the holy and historical city of Chennai ruled by a vicious dictator with a scary-fear-inducing title called Bulla" (my tribute to the greatest villain in Indian movie history).

For people who are insane enough to visit our blog heres a sneak preview to one of the scenes as well (Part of a flashback of VTs previous life):
"VT is sitting on a metallic chair and Neha fed up of all heroes liking Aloo ke Parathe and Gajar ka Halwa has decided she going to convert him to liking Karela Juice and Baingan ka Bharta by electrocuting him. She flips on the switch, at the same time we see Nightwatchmen making his special appearance in his own movie a la Subhash Ghai (Hitchcock by reversing time copied these in his movies), start running and they show the blue streak of electricity travelling along the wire and straining his last sinew he throws VT off the chair, but gets himself killed since he comes into contact with the chair. (Of course there will be a whole flashback in a flashback where nightwatchmen is just another flundering poor mongrel on the streets who gets through IIT and then a job in the IT industry all because of VTs large heart.).Cut back to the flashback and VT is emerging out of a stinking Cooum (Bo Derek again copied this by reversing time) and take the pledge that was mentioned in the last paragraph."

And of course I am hoping that Megha would kindly consent to do an item number in the movie.

Now if only I could get someone to play the gay news reader, any ideas Ser Feenix or Mentalbaba ??

Monday, May 08, 2006

Gulliver's Travels, Redux

Or: The One-sided guidebook to the lands of Polemica, Disinformatsya and Rhetorika

Or: How not to stab yourself in the face when you decide to inform the world that
some entity is mutant scum.

Originally inspired by some seriously brilliant writing on Ze Hindoo by an almost-spawned tadpole from Das Mutterland's least greatest Great Technical Institution, this turned into a reasonably good guideline for excitable authors. Kaaawya included.

Zo, liebchen: you haff decided dat I are evil? And you wish to proclaim this fact to the world? Here's how you do it:

  • Grab attention. USE CAPITALS. Marx wrote Das Capital, a masterly exposition of this little-known emendation to fast leg theory (not to be confused with the long leg theory of, say, H.Klum[1].)

  • Generalise. All generalisation is true, for some particular value of true. If nothing else, it will always confuse the issue

  • Adjectives are your friend. When absolutely unnecessarily scatteredly used, analysis will definitely positively require more effort than the reader is prepared to give, thus making your statements true by default.

  • Be sure of your facts. Then distort them.

  • Innuendo is your friend. When used accurately, it is capable of a lot more damage than a list of long facts that no one reads anyway.

  • Conflation and elision are both very valuable tools. (Explanation elided, for various reasons rooted in laziness)

  • Volume overrules mass. The loudest idiot who shouts the longest is the most valuable supporter any team playing in the forthcoming vorld kup can ever have.

  • Sensation overrides substance.

  • Vox Populi always Whacks Dei.

  • Never underestimate the power of the majority, it can argue for you more coherently than you ever could.

Ze master, being Ze German, stated these points better. A link to him might just be included here, but you really should find him for yourself...

[1] I would be tempted to put in a google imagesearch here. Still, do it yourself.

Bericht von München der Film

Spielbergs latest offering Munich is a good movie but not quite there unlike some of his other movies. That Spielberg is very proud of his Jewish roots and Israel is quite apparent from some of his other movies primary among them Schindlers List.

11 Israeli athletes were kidnapped and then murdered by a terrorist group called Black September during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. This movie is about the Mossads retaliation to assassinate Palestinian leaders suspected of planning and carrying out this attack.

A 5 person team lead by Avner (Eric Bana) are recruited and assigned the task of eliminating the Palestinian leaders who are suspected of carrying out the attack. Initially the team does not question about the roles played by the persons they are asked to eliminate and even rejoice when the kill the first guy pn their list.

But soon the disillusionment creeps in when they realise that the persons they kill are being replaced by some one whos probably far worse. And soon they are forced into killing civilians and also start becoming targets of assassinations. The disillusionment is totally captured by a pleading Mathieu Kassovitz when he opts out of a mission where the team plans to kill a Dutch assassin who has killed one of their team: " We are supposed to be righteous. That's a beautiful thing. And we're losing it. If I lose that, that's everything. That's my soul. ".

This is probably one of the highlights of the movie, it does not pass any judgement on either the Jews or the Palestinians. The internal conflicts are brilliantly portrayed by Eric Bana, one of many gripping performances in the movie. What the movie lacks though is a single theme on which the director tries to get through to the audience. There is a superficial handling of a lot of issues but none of them are examined more thoroughly so what one ends up getting is a lot of questions without many answers. But surely the movie is well worth a watch, if for nothing else then for the excellent cinematography and the great performances (I am leaving out Geoffrey Rush and the new James Bond Daniel Craig here since I am too lazy to write anything more).

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Zee Perfect Book

Just finished reading A Perfect Spy by John Le Carre. And like most of his other books this one too had me engorssed right till the end.

The book is sort of semi autobiography based on his father who was THE conman. More known for his series on Karla and cold war spy fiction, this book makes for a refreshing change as it flits between the protagonists flashback and the English secret services desparate attempt on trying to locate him when he disappears after his fathers death.

And of course Jack Brotherhood and Axel (dont know whether I spelled that right)are exactly the sort of persons one would encounter in a Le Carre book, totally dysfunctional and anachronistic.

I started reading Le Carre about a year back when I was told to read The Spy who came in from the Cold. Hes the sort of author who grows on you, initially it feels sort of really boring stuff but as one perseveres one really enjoys such spy fiction more than that highly over rated Robert Ludlum stuff. And not too many people read Le Carre, in fact one guy in my alumni group was totally thrilled when he came to know that I read Le Carre but then we were just the two of us. And after that it continued with the Quest for Karla which involved a series of battles between Le Carres greatest creation George Smiley and Karla. Quest for Karla involved three books Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy and finally culminating in the masterpice Smileys People (much better than the Bourne series which sort of just dipped in quality after The Bourne Identity). After that I was hooked and finished The Tailor of Panama (yeah the Pierce Brosnan movie), The Night Manager, The Secret Pilgrim, The Constant Gardener (yeah the Rachel Weisz movie), The Little Drummer Girl. Most of the ones mentioned in the last statement are not about the Cold War times. And finally finished The Looking Glass War (which I must say is actually right up there with his best) before reading The Perfect Spy. So if any of you who are reading this do happen to have copies of either Call for The Dead or A Murder of Quality please let me know.

And once I am done with the Salman Rushdie that I am reading right now I will be reading A Small Town in Germany and Absolute Friends next week which I am gonna get from the Alternate Moebyus.

So if you want a break from the James Bond level stunts and spies running against time to save the world and instead want to bite into some real life spy fiction written by a real pro whos seen it all then Le Carre is the man for you.

P.S: The "Zee" in the title has come from watching this movie.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Heres an article on one of my favourite sportspersons of India and written by one of my favourite writers on sport.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The worst technical PJ ever

Disclaimer: The contents of this post can be extremely harmful to your mental health. You also need to be an electrical engineer to really "appreciate the nuances" of this joke.

Here goes:

The Rowling Stone gathered no MOS
It only gathered BJTS
And hence MAGIC was needed to solve the worlds problems
Once there was MAGIC there was SPICE in everyones life
And people started using Nokias instead of Owls
And HOWLERS got replaced by SCUM who
Had Level 5 Ring Tones of Dhoom Machale

Sunday, April 02, 2006

B for Banditry

Here's how Hugo Weaving makes an entry:

"This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is it vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished, as the once vital voice of the verisimilitude now venerates what they once vilified. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose vis-à-vis an introduction, and so it is my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V. "

Dorothy Parker once reviewed an actress as "running the whole gamut of emotions, from A to B". Natalie Portman faces the same challenge, rather successfully, in the movie "V for Vendetta". It remains an open question whether emotion was required for her role: if not, she has certainly delivered a superb performance as the exponential eV, who is tortured by the hero "V", so that she loses the capacity to feel fear. I wonder how he did that: did he threaten to take her logarithm, and make her the same as him?

V is a superhuman morgothian hero straight out of jail, played by Hugo Weaving (Agent Schmidt) who throws knives in slow motion and uses plate mail to dodge bullets the hard way. He dodged bullets better in "Ze Matrix", you know. And don't forget his alliterative approach to actors appearing - which is one of the (actually many) things that prevent me from swearing at the movie. V can actually get away with murder, just because of the special effects. Unfortunately, we don't learn too much of his history. As circumstances turn out though, it doesn't matter. The important thing to note is that V is not his name, or his initial.

We can all be grateful that the Wacky brothers have to make a really convoluted sequel if it is to be believable.

This movie does not deserve to be panned: It deals with the knotty problems of democratic government (the people get what they deserve, good and hard), terrorism (Our freedom fighters, your revolutionaries, their insurgents), and how to remove a dictator from power (Normandy? Schlock and Ow? Superheroes? Take your pick.)

Let's see, what else is there to praise? The camerawork and CG, the postmodern detective who uses Big Brother's original database to do his detecting - very effectively, I must add - he's more believable than Little Tommy Precrime (which is faint praise, but really: he's good. Morse in his younger days without the sense of humour.) We'll leave the plot out, though. 1984 and Deus Ex do the dystopian concept better.

Lessons learned from this movie:

  • Nanocameras exist. RFID Dust, eat your heart out! The Wackies put one in a raindrop, and film one of the most spectacular scenes of the movie: The rain falling onto eV as she tries a (thankfully solitary) Winslet on the sort of balcony Juliet would be tempted to push Romeo off of.

  • The Wacky brothers can get away with anything. Almost.

  • Domino logic is a good alternative to billboards, when it comes to putting up your signature in red and black (Incidentally, anybody has an idea of how far they were from the Guiness record in this?)

Overall, I'd suggest watching this movie. Closely. It might get away.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Golden Age of Batting ?

Amit Verma has started a new discussion on Wicket to Wicket a blog run by Cricinfo. The topic being whether the game has become too friendly for batsmen such that matches like this one are happening.

Let me add my two cents worth to the discussion. Amit starts off with a rip van winkle who goes to sleep in the 1980s and wakes up in 2006 to watch the afore mentioned match. Let me slightly change it. Lets say I am a test batsman (yeah yeah I am always dreaming about it) making my debut in 1980. I know I am gonna get screwed. The Windies have a fearsome pace attack, the Aussies have Lilee and Thompson, the English have Botham and co, Indians have Kapil (theres Dhileep Doshi a highly under rated spinner) and the Pakis have Imran and co. . Now the same night a genie appears and tells me I can either give up this chance and instead play in 2004-05 against the strongest bowling attack, the Aussies. Now what would I do.

Lets see the Aussies have Gillespie, McGrath, Lee and Warne (Mr Kasper and McGill will have to bear with me). Now given this choice what would I do, definitely plump for 2004. Gillespie and McGrath are good bowlers mind you but then once the pitch is flat pretty much ineffective and nowhere close in pace to some of the pacers mentioned above. Lee is quick but his bounce is nowhere near close to what "Big Bird" Joel Garner can generate. And Warne has pretty much no variety, only a leg break and more works on a batsmans mind with his reputation

Point I am getting to is that the bowlers after 2000 are just not penetrative enough to cause any batsman to lose sleep(though Mr Glichrist would have something to say about a certain Mr Flintoff). And no there were flat pitches in the 1980s also. There were and thats why lots of conossieurs rate this innings as the best they have seen at Chepauk (even though Sachin scored which in my opinion was the best innings he has ever played in his life in 1999 there against Pakistan). Viswanath did not even score a century only a 97, on a bouncy track. And that merits a full coloumn on it in the newspaper that has easily by a huge margin the best sports journalists writing for them in India.

Think about it Pollock has lost his pace, and a patient man like Boycott will never give his wicket to him, Ntini bowls pretty much inswingers the whole day and Gavaskar will dent with all the effort it takes him to lift the mike he speaks into while doing commentary. McGrath is slightly better but again no pace, and is out of ideas once the batsmen start attacking him, a certain Viv Richards is licking his lips in anticipation. Warne, Murali, Vettori and Kumble good turners(the last name has started doing that off late) and probably cause a few problems but only needs to think of Messrs Bedi, Prasanna and Chandra and what do we get, my dreamy batsman still prefers the newer version. The Windies attack probably wouldnt trouble the Mumbai ranji trophy team forget about some of the great batsmen of the 1980s. Shane Bond, Mohammed Asif, Shoaib, Vaas make such contrasts to names like Garner, Roberts, Holding, Marshall, Lilee, Thompson that I think the Chapell brothers would think it was more competitive playing in their backyard.

My take is simple, as long as we had great bowlers and I mean bowlers who could take wickets on any kind of surface like Wasim (just think of Chennai 1999 and ask Rahul Dravid how he was bowled and I think he must still be searching for an answer), Walsh/Ambrose (as a pair were very deadly giving batsmen no breathing space), and Pollock and McGrath lost their pace theres this void of incisive bowlers that has been left behind.

There might be more to it than meets the eye though. The fast bowlers never want to go flat out since they know they have to play so many matches. Also some of the pitches these days are so flat that Michael Holding talks about "pulling a muscle sort of pitch" in his pitch report. In the case of the spinners though theres another problem, they bowl flatter in ODIs to contain and get wickets and are somehow not able to adapt their flight to the longer version. Harbhajan is a typical case. On the other hand Vettori played a lot of test matches before he played an ODI which meant that he stayed an attacking bowlers and thats the reason that he always seems like getting a wicket. It has helped Anil Kumble as well not playing ODI cricket I mean.

So a combination of a lack of penetrative bowlers, aggressive bowling, far too much ODI cricket, flatter pitches have all contributed to this being a golden age of batting.

Just to make my point I was thinking that if some of the so called "great batsmen" of this era were to be transported 20 years back how many would survive:

1. Hayden --> Would have been worked over in no time by the pace quartet of the Windies since his back foot play is as weak as Sunny Deols dances.

2. Ponting --> The lunge forward would only take him to the hospital before he can even get going in his innings, and Wasim has trapped him so many times in front. On the other hand hes a horrible player of quality spin bowling (Bedi would be salivating at the prospect).

3. Gilchrist --> Couldnt work out Flintoff, cant think of what Kapil, Botham or Hadlee could have done, also not very assured against spin.

4 Kallis --> Is equally at ease against spin and pace and has the required patience. Could have survived in the 1980s.

5. Lara --> I think he would have scored against any attack at any time on any ground IF he has the heart to do it. (Though 400 would have been very tough)

6. Sehwag --> Cant play bouncers of Matthew Hoggard. Holding and Marshall would probably have worked him over much too easily the way a IIT-ian would work out the roots of the equation x^2-x-1=0.

7. Dravid --> Has a great technique probably the best to take on any of the bowling attacks.

8. Sachin --> Combining Laras eye with Dravids technique and loads of concentration, Sachin is a truly great batsman so he would have scored heavily even against the greats of the 80s.

9. Inzy --> Picks length earlier than any other batsman in world cricket right now, though his propensity to stay on the back foot goes against him but then again picking length is whats important. Would have survived I guess.

10. Younis Khan, Mohammed Yusuf, Graeme Smith, Pietersen, Vaughan, Sangakkara, Jayasuriya etc etc these are the ones who are making hay while the sun shines!!! Good for them.....Its a long post and my fingers are paining. So I am stopping here. (The poor New Zealand batsmen dont make runs even now except when they are playing the Windies)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Being Cyrus, or How I stopped listening to my inner voices and wasted a Hundred and Twenty Bucks

By now you must have realised that this post is going to be a review of Being Cyrus. Lets get the story over with. There are 7 characters in the story, 5 of them from the dysfunctional Parsi Sethna family. The movie begins with Cyrus (played by Saif) in Panchgani trying to learn pottery from Dinshaw Sethna (brilliantly played by who else but Naseeruddin Shah) a genius in his own time but now living a life where hes doped most of the time and nothing seems to penetrate his smoke filled world. And of course theres the promiscous, bored and ambitious wife Katy Sethna (Dimple Kapadia).

Soon Cyrus is caught up in a web of trying to patch up the whole family the other three memebers being Dinshaws father Fardounjee Sethna, his younger son Farokh (another awesome performance by Boman Irani) who gives back what he learnt as a child by straving his father and the Farokhs wife Tina played by Simone. The first half intrigues you with hints of something more dark and sinister about the whole Sethna family right from the senile Fardounjee to hints of something dangerous about the "demure young bride" Tina. Just when you refilled your Pepsi and come back and settle down in your seat after the intermission, you see a really vague dream that Cyrus is having and from then on the movie becomes so hopelessly predictable that you want to go back home and watch a re-run of Jaani Dushman.

And if you are wondering who the 7th character was then it is the performer of the movie in Manoj Pahwa who plays Inspector Lovely who does generate a lot of mirth in most of the scenes that he appears in.

"Being Cyrus" stays afloat because of some brilliant performances. Dimple overdoes it towards the end, Simone and Saif give average performances. Being Cyrus is worth watching only if you have nowhere else to be (I am sorry but the cliche was too good to be missed).