Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Company of D

This is not intended to be an attempt to imitate an aging humourist who lost his funny bone about the same time Das Kapital was thrown out of the Kremlin. It is also (most unfortunately) not a review of that gangster movie - but then, reviewing that does not offer much opportunity to pour the hate out. Instead, we try to fulfill (in suitably roundabout terms) a request that you may have seen in the previous post. Note that when you're talking about G's and D's, there usually arises a question that we carefully step around here.

So, there's this little village that could. Unfortunately, the Breeteesh decide that it really could, and go ahead and build a Jail there. Fast forward to a certain long march over long years, when a person wearing a rose and a funny hat decides that the best possible thing he can convert a jail into is a college - after all, the function is basically the same: to keep unproductive members of society in close contact with each other in the hope that the unproductiveness averages out on the long run. It is a mystery to us as to why this college was not named hogUARTS, so that is what we call it.

Anyway, hogUARTS prospered after such an auspicious beginning, with millions of decistudents passing through its hallowed translocation-proof walls. However, such prosperity was soon to end, as, in an unrelated event, the writers of this sequence of bad prose ended up there.

Now it is true that in most large collections of inhumanity, there are usually some people who define the average, and the rest just try to make sure that the values specified for variance and skewness are justified. This particular gathering was no exception: There was D.

And that's all. We avoid carefully all description and implication of telescoping paper carriers. Let there be no accusations of adhering to the letter of the law, while strangling its spirit!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rendezevous with G or Why 6 hr stop overs at Airports are good!!

As we were travelling abroad for some meetings the whole of this week, and could not find a direct flight from The Garden City (yeah right!!!) we were forced instead to fly through the "Commercial Capital of India". Plus we had a interminable 6hr stop over between connecting flights. Between cursing my travel agent, my manager, the folks who organised the meetings we realised that one of our old friends G who was unfortunate enough to be yours truly's wingie in the fresher year in an engineering institution located somewhere in the eastern part of the country stays there.

So much Orkutting ensued and we decided to meet. After talking quite some time and figuring out the latitudes and longitudes of where each of us were after landing at the airport we finally met and decided to have dinner at some non decrepit location just outside the airport.

Over something called American Dosa and Manchurian Dosa we reminisced about old times. A thing one notices about good friends is that when one meets them after a long time, it almost seems as though we never were away, conversation flows as freely as Madeira< in a Madhushala. So we began talking about how there was a time when MBAs were done by engineers who had nothing better to do in life and how now engineers who have nothing better to do still work in engineering. (OK that was an attempt at saying that more engineers do MBAs in a not too subtle manner falling flat on its face!!)

Conversation did turn very funny when we listened to the story of one of our more notorious batch mates D. Now D is a dangerous guy, the sort of person anyone and I mean anyone in EILITEPI #1 [1] shudders to be seen around with. Apparently G was infinitely embarrassed by juniors asking him how come that both him and D are from the same engineering institution.

So G came up with this truly astonishing idea. If someone asked G about D's origins before asking D then G would say he is from EILITEPI #2[2] instead of EILITEPI #1. So we naturally asked him but what happens when someone has already asked D before asking G. Then in a true mater piece, G said that he would tell them "Well he did turn up at EILITEPI #1 on a student exchange program with EILITEPI #2". We were clutching our stomachs with laughter. (You really have to meet D to really appreciate this story. If we could inspire TAM we just might get a post dedicated to D)

Then we got to discussing attendances and proxies in EILITEPI #1. Apparently a cheque signed by one of G's friends did not get accepted since the signature did not match with the one in their records. So G who had a long history of signing proxies for his friend signed it and it got accepted.

Another fascinating turn of discussion came up when we got talking about Stochastic Calculus. Interesting stuff G reads and our latest work might just involve a whole lot of calculus but god forbid the stochastic kind.

And so we talked about batch mates who are married, juniors who ask stupid questions, about post grad institutions that now have slots marked for students in classes for them to avoid proxies etc etc

By this time the waiter had come and stood at our table thrice expecting us to get up but we thick skinned just did not get up. After the fourth iteration we did manage to get our asses out of our temporary parking slot and catch an auto to the international airport.

Maybe the waiter was really frusth with us since we realised our watch was no longer on our hands, maybe them aliens had stolen it after telepathy's with the waiter.[3]

And before we finish this we need to say that the Mumbai domestic airport rocks, absolutely. And the international one was a disappointment in comparison to that.

Photo Courtesy : Wikipedia

[1] EILITEPI #1 --> Engineering Institution Located In The Eastern Part of India. Look at first link that this blog links to

[2] EILITEPI #2 --> Another Engineering Institution Located In The Eastern Part of India.

[3] An alterntive explanation propounded by G was that the loops of my watch strap had been torn quite some time back. Us in our capacity of infinite laziness had not fixed it and since the watch was anyway wound quite loosely around the wrist it would have fallen off since Newton came up with some ideas about the earth attracting apples towards it and stuff like that......We prefer our explanation of an inter galactic conspiracy!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lost -- The Khoya Khoya Chand Review

A red fuzzy foreground in the left with the heroine on the right, cut to the same fuzziness on the right with another person on the left. Same thing repeated a couple of times before you realise the two characters are the audience of an outdoor badminton match.

Lovers walking on the beach, a scene done to death but in this case both of them are outlines in the sort of half darkness that can happen only just after sunset..

Heroine dancing next to a burst fire hydrant water exploding all over the screen and lot of kids around, yet another cliched scene but just before that happens we have the car in which she is traveling covered by keechad but then that getting cleared due to the fire hydrant water explosion and the movies title track playing in the back ground.

A small kid falls on the road, her father comes and picks her up, the heroine has a fantasy about her own father who in real life abandoned her as a kid.

Such are the images that one carries of Khoya Khoya Chand. The second movie of Sudhir Mishra of whom great things were expected after his first effort, tells the story of writer Zafar. Zafar travels to Mumbai to escape from a family that is loveless. On coming to Mumbai he is sucked into showbiz and his efforts at making movies and the story of the love of his life Nikhat form the rest of the movie.

The movie has an excellent sound track, one of the best in recent times. There are some excellent performances notably by Vinay Pathak. Soha Ali Khan try as she might just cannot emote on the screen as well as one would like. But all too often the movie seems more like a collection of great images, a photo album. Rather than these being incidental to the movie, the movie seems to revolve around them. All in all in us engineers terms this movie lacks flow.

Most charitable comment that my co-moviegoer came up with:

"I really liked what Soha did with her Sarees, especially the combination with the blouse, you know the whole thing!!!"

Monday, November 05, 2007

Eh, what's up, doc?

Ultraviolence is a difficult concept to pull off in a movie, and apart from a few Arnie movies dating from the great eighties, there have not been too many good efforts in this direction by hollywood. QT did do an exemplary job in a two-part movie, but by and large, the best movies of this kind have always been made in India.

From Rojni saar's stunts that manage to violate both general and special relativity (usually at the same time), to Sunny paaji's attempts to imitate Bond, we have had an abundance of movies that make use of violence to distract the viewer from seeing the 747 that's looping the loop through a gap in the plot. Of course, this assumes that a plot exists: take, for example, consider yet another Pshaw Rooke starrer that (regardless of our opinion of both Sush and Amrita Rao) should never have been made.

It is therefore appropriate to consider Shoot 'em up as Hollywood's reply, complete with: fresh produce producing fresh corpses, bullet physics that overshadow Rojni saar's two-gun makeshift howitzer shooting bad guys behind a wall[1], and the particularly unique brand of humour that results from trying to do things seriously, much like a Michael Moorcock novel. In fact, when people set out to tell a story like this, they start by combining together chopped bits of 35mm reel stolen from the celluloid graveyard, stitch by painful stitch. When eldritch lightning finally powers up unknown devices made to give such a creature life, the creators end up running screaming from it, only to be pursued and caught, since the poor thing is lonely, and wants a sequel (or perhaps two or five, but that is beside the point.)

The movie opens innocently enough, with drunk Agent Smith sitting at a bus stop trying to drown his sorrows in lukewarm coffee. Er, no, make that Mr. Smith, and it's difficult to say if he's in Washington. A much-pregnant woman hobbles past him, pursued by a carload of trash driven by a lone thug, and Schmidt decides to pursue his duties to ze vaterland, by promptly dispatching the thug and all its clones, while simultaneously attempting to discover whether the mail-order degree that he received in midwifery was worth it.

To cut much of a long (non)story short, Mr Sch err, Smith ends up with a baby in his hands, and marches off to meet "DQ", played by the Bellucci herself.

Midway through this, Mr Smith suffers an identity crisis brought about by the consumption of fresh produce, and thinks he's the wabbit himself. Naturally enough, this means that Sam turns up, played ably by Paul Giamatti, an ex-FBI-profiler turned into hirer of clone armies for ze greater good of ze greater number. Much hilarity ensues.

Unfortunately, beyond this point, the story is really a tattered transparent cloak over the container lorryful of gunfights, which makes it rather difficult to describe much more, but certain items do stand out: the one rat-power Leonardo-made lock, the critical-velocity-defying vertical gunfight ending upon a helicopter and body-strewn rails, and of course la Bellucci. Doesn't leave much out, does it? An IMDB reviewer recommends watching the last part of the first trilogy of Bourne instead, but I'd suggest watching both: it's a quick way of propping up a few economies. And remember, for those people who cannot yet watch the whole of Kill Bill in one sitting, this is useful training.

[1] I've never actually seen this. Youtube links, anyone?

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Panoramic review of Manorama -- Six Feet Under

Long long ago there was Veeru and not too long ago he gave birth to Prof Ajoy Chokorborti who mouthed these immortal lines to the ISI chief in the greatest spy movie in Hindi cinema history :

"Do baat"
"Ek tum godha ho"
"Doosri baat, yeh Amreeka hai Pakistan nahin jo godha
sadak pe ghoomta hai"

And then was born Ajoy Chokroborti's brother. Now chota chokroborti who also goes by the popular name Abhay does not have it in him to pull off movies about love stories of spies. But what he can do is play off beat characters like trying to catch the last local train with the highly improbable occurence of a former Miss India who has grown fat for company, a "marriage fixer" or a super hero married to a super heroine.

He pulls off another role as a complete loser in life (mirrors the life of the author of this post, except no one publishes my stories and I do not have a wife who has two absolutely fabulous dimples) in his latest movie. We for sure appreciate the characters he chooses to play.

We have already mentioned one of the female leads, the other one is played by the ever droopy Raima Sen.

The story of the movie revolves around the loser when one lady approaches him to take photos of her husbands peccadilloes. The reason she chooses him is that in a small town a writer is considered a detective (On the lines of in the land of the blind a one eyed designer is considered a project lead). His book that sells exactly 200 copies and sinks without a trace has a cover design more reminiscent of James Hadley Chase rather than a Conan Doyle or a Agatha Christie. Now go figure why either the loser or Mr Chase are popular among women.

And as he takes those photos life as he knew it goes for a toss. People out to bash him, stelaing his bike prompting him to take his old rampyaari a.k.a scooter out. Plus in between he almost manages to have a live in relationshsip with Raima Sen. The story has more twists and turns than the hips of the item bomb in a number and does manage to hold your attention till the end. Unlike other movies in this genre which end up in either a moral lesson which one stops appreciating after third grade or everything is shown to be hopeless with "the-bloody-system-is-rotten-to-the-core", this one leaves you with a pleasant feeling. Though it is supposed to be a thriller, the movie is a slow moving one and grows on you. More in the Le Carre class rather than Forsyth one would say.

The cinematography is quite good except that maybe they should stop doing stuff from the Ram Gopal Verma school of filming where every scene is done with a "look-at-me-I-can-copy-from-the-best-when-it-comes-to-technique" philosophy. One would think that with greater experience the director would leave things more understated and subtle.

There is just one song in the movie which is just about right for this one. But definitely could have done with a much better sound track. Considering the movie is based in Rajasthans desert one has the scope for a really great theme, am thinking what Tarantino would have done.

Before we forget, the guy who played Mr Pignon in the hindi version of Dinner game also has a role and speaks Hindi with an impeccable Marwari accent. Special marks to him for swallowing his whole breakfast in one gulp everyday.

All in all you are much better off watching "Manorama Six Feet Under" rather than sitting at home with nothing else to do and end up watching "Six Feet Under".

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fanny and Alexander (1982)

Long ears ago, when cranial hair was ample, and optimism had not yet made its entry into the red list, we had this great opportunity going forward of getting to study in a hot, dry, cold, and wet place north of the Tropic of Cancer. Given the natural tendency of such places to accumulate dubious characters, we had to run into our esteemed cricket-mad fellow fowl fellow. (Who, you will notice, has not commented on the boys in light blue finally managing to thrash the boys in green black and blue without excessive punctuation.)

Much mayhem involving assorted bits of Silicon and chunks of Gallium nitride followed, the details of which are elided as far as possible to spare your tender years. The central result of this, however, was that yours truly was pressurised (in one case, literally) into watching some true gems of Bollywood, such as the incomparable trinity of Cabby Khushi Cabby Gum, Bog Boon, and some indeterminate shaw rooke starrer whose name had mercifully receded into the dim mists of memory, even if the resulting trauma had not.

Anyway, the purpose of boring the lot of you to tears was to set the stage properly for the introduction of a much better family movie by that master of cinema, Ole Bergman. Without (too many) side trips, we therefore proceed into a review of Fanny Och Alexander

It's a family movie, just another family movie. Instead of cricketers dreaming about their family before hitting themselves on the head, we proceed into a Christmas celebrations of three generations of Ekdahls at the turn of the last century. We meet the hypertensive Oskar, the philandering Gustavus Adolphus, and Professor Carl, all of whom form a part of the intricate tapestry that is this movie, along with their mother, their kids, and the rest of the household.

Seen with a jaundiced eye, it is just the story of Oskar's death, his wife's (a card-carrying member of the party of svensk blondsk that make Bergman's movies watchable most of the time) remarriage into a rather doctrinaire religious family, and the subsequent end of that marriage, all seen through the eyes of young Alexander, her son. However, it is the sort of storytelling with the little details (Hamlet and kind people, anyone?) that make this an enjoyable movie - its length notwithstanding.

Irony might be...

Someone who says:

If she is particular about manners, there is a good chance she will be particular about grammar. Please revise your old copy of Wren & Martin.

Following that right up with:

They [i.e. multiple such points as the above] are only the necessary condition. Not the sufficient condition.

Leaving aside the fact that it's been a long time since I looked inside W&M, relying on the old ear to tell the difference, aren't we short an 's' or two? Oh well, you only get what you ask for.

The rest of the blog is hilarious (and definitely not work-safe), so parts of the null-set that is the readership of this blog might enjoy it.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Donald vs Atherton

Here is a blog entry that has Atherton's description of the torrid spell that he had to face from Allan Donald at Trent Bridge in the 1998 series. Link courtesy India Uncut.

We did not have cable at our house till mid way through 1997. And I began watching test cricket seriously on TV with the 1997 Ashes where Steve Waugh's feisty twin hundreds with a split webbing on his right hand left a lasting impression. While this one might not be in the same class one has to remember that the bowling was Allan Donald and not Dean Headley, Darren Gough class. Atherton was maybe an unsung hero for the English through the 90s mostly because they never won anything. But he had a combination of fairly good technique and bloody-mindedness that helped him through this spell. And it is also because of flatter pitches and bowlers who bowl medium pace that jokers like Ponting score so many runs these days!! Can't really see Ponting surviving this torrid examination.

Maybe Sreesanth should watch the video of this spell to know what agressive pace bowling is all about rather than change his action every couple of deliveries or bowl one foot no balls.

Friday, August 03, 2007


While we were working today our xmms playlist had zee songs of a Hindi movie called Bazaar and were listening to a song called "Karoge Yaad To" and we were mighty impressed with a particular section that goes:

Gali ke mod pe
Suna sa koi darwaza
Tarasti ankhon se
Rastaa kisi ka dekhega
Nigaah door talak jaa ke laut aayegi

Make sure you listen to all the songs of this movie, really great soundtrack must say.

P.S : The movie is also great by the way.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

While my frustration gently creeps

Well we have not blogged in a long time but this particular frusth post can only be appreciated if you know 2 things:

i. IC design

ii. Zee Beatles

Inspired from the Original "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

So here goes our attempt at poetry:

I look at your amp and see all the loops that are sleeping
While my design gently weeps
I look at the ground and see it needs connecting
Still my design gently weeps
I don't know why nobody told you how to bias your amp
I don't know how someone recruited you
They trained you and you untrained

I look at the amp and I notice its oscillating
While my design gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my design gently weeps
I don't know how you were recruited
You were perverted too
I don't know how you inverted (** the feedback **)
No one reviewed you

I look at your amp and see all the loops that are sleeping
While my design gently weeps
Look all your biasing
While my design gently weeps

*** Bows down to the standing ovation ***

Yours Truly


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Nightwatchmens Conjecture

Title inspired from "The Original Conjecture".

What theorem did the Punjabi mathematician standing next to a bull munching a McD burger in one of the chane ke kheths that the land of the five rivers seems to abound in come up with ?

Zee "Saand""vich" theorem

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Shout out at Makkhanwala

It is the height of prohibition, and lawless gangsters rule the city of chicago. Into this scenario enters a lone superhero. With smart-aleck old wise cop, and discriminated-against sharp-shooter, he proceeds to fight against the empire of crime. Actually, wrong movie. Twenty years after,Lakhia, who may not be de Palma (for which he has our sincere condolences), proceeds to make a pretty fair movie about India's own high tide of gang wars.

Maya (not Mayawati) is a small-time crook in Mumbai. He gets his start at a very young age, when he gets an opportunity to prove that he cares.

Fast forward to the time the movie is set in (which is apparently sometime in 1991), where a defense lawyer, played by the man who's done the most advertisements ever, is listening (and making smart comments) to
excuses put forward by a bunch of elite cops (sound familiar? Only, instead of the semi-believable people in Untouchables, you have the dedicated high priest with family problems, the trigger-happy muscleman who does airport security part-time, and the traffic cop who wants more.

The flashbacks involve the great man's son in a guest appearance as the cop who busts open a cell of urbane turbans, and is promptly gunned down for his pains. Following this, the dedicated cop guns down the turbans, with embedded reporting by our lady from Hyde. Her dedication to the job deserves applause, particularly her ability to put the right spin onto current events.

As counter-story, we are also provided insight into how Maya grows into his position as the pre-eminent Man of Significance in Mumbai, interspersed with what is Indian cinema's longest experiment with the Item Number. Shame, really - the Item may be quite a number, even though she is restricted to, basically, wallpaper. Maybe it was for the best, though - it is possible to reduce the length of the movie to a bearable minimum, simply by excising her presence. Kudos to the director to give people who watch this on media with lower returns an unambiguous clue on when to fast-forward.

This is probably the right moment to introduce the music: When you have songs by Indian Ocean and Euphoria, is it reasonable to expect it to suck less than the baseline? Even ignoring the Longest Item Number Ever, it's still nothing special. Hell, listen to Nancy Sinatra, and mull over how the song would sound with Andrea Corr and Bono singing.

Since this is really too big for a movie that is based on true rumours, we cut to the shoot-out: The big bad gangsters are counting their spoils in a remote location surrounded by people who wish to live a normal life, and the Man from the Middle-East decides to be a law-abiding citizen by informing the high priest where his personal demons are to be found. Much boom and bang later, the movie ends with an impersonal question by the embedded reporter to the audience of this movie. Unfortunately, the only audience reaction is along the lines of "Finally, it's over."

Perhaps it's worth mentioning that the post-shootout camerawork, (which, owing to a strange bubble in spacetime, is shown at the beginning of the movie) is impressive - whether it's enough to make you watch this move is your call.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Nuevo Cinema Paradiso

While we were growing up RK Narayan was one of the authors we loved. Now if someone were to ask why exactly, we would be very hard put to come up with an answer. The fact that his short stories are just that, short and a story that you can relate to very well. And we were very pleasantly surprised by Cinema Paradiso the movie we watched over the weekend. It is true in word and spirit to the Sony Pix tagline "We tell stories".

There is a scene in Cinema Paradiso where Alfredo a person who shares a very unique relationship with the protagonist of the movie projects the movie onto a house in the town square so that people who could not watch the last show can enjoy the movie. Only after a few minutes Alfredo loses his eyesight as the film catches fire. Moments like these make Cinema Paradiso the great movie it is.

We follow Salvatore at three different times in his life: as a child, then as an adolescent and finally as a middle aged man. As a child he sells money meant for milk to watch movies, Alfredo of course bails him out of tricky situations with his mother. As an adolescent he falls in love with Elena who initially does not reciprocate his feelings. And finally as an adult for whom something in life is missing and closure is finally obtained when he travels back to his village from Rome.

The very simplicity of the movie is what appeals to you. You can feel the raw emotional attachment that Salvatore has toward movies and Elena.

The cinematography is superlative. Watch out for Alfredo exclaiming "Progress is always late" or a madly in love Slavatore exclaiming 'When will this bloody summer end. In a film, it'd already be over. Cut, and there's a storm.' And true to cue Elena does come, there is lightning and they do kiss passionately.

Then of course there is the soundtrack made by one of our favorites Ennio Morricone.

We really cant say much more except that it is a movie you will treasure, so get off your arse and go watch it!!.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Retro Show --> Review of Life in a Metro

There was once this senior of mine who told me that the best equation he liked in Physics was

Work Done = Force X Displacement

The equation implies that for work to be done it is not necessary to just apply a force but also to do so in the right direction.

Anurag Basu's latest movie Life in A Metro has the right direction, but lacks the required force. We might be biased, considering we have been pampered on a diet of noir movies that involve an ex-marine whose idea of a date is watching a porn movie, a paranoid mathematician or about movies that talk about the amount of weight lost when a human being dies.

The movie gets the basics right. The cast is great (I mean if Shilpa Shetty can actually emote on screen, that should amount to something). The screenplay is excellent, and so is the soundtrack (Mark Knopfler, operatic solos way to go Mr Basu).

An effort towards creating our own Amores Perros, we appreciate Basu for not going their way and start off by showing how all the parallel stories are interconnected. And not since Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri acted as the witches of MacBeth, have we seen an innovation like having the actual band perform the songs in the movie. The first three tracks are good but the last two we could have done without. Thankfully that takes care of any of our hero/heroines running around trees.

We can forgive Basu for making Kangana Ranaut's hair straight (As Hobbes says "Redheads, I like redheads!!" our philososphy is "Curly Hair, We like curly hair!!, Sandhya Mridul, Sushmita Sen, Bipasha Basu you get the drift we guess"), but sir please the Indian audience is much more appreciative than you would think. Why did you have to have that extra long bit on that "Style and RDB" guy explaining why he is making money for a good reason ? Why oh why did you have to end it with such a sugar-coated-everyone-rejects-money-and-follows-love-at-the-end ? And still we do not have an Indian heroine walking out of an unsuccessful marriage, now that would have been something!! And you had to break the heart of the one guy we liked in the whole movie, Shiney Ahuja ? Don't worry sir you are not the only one even Mani Ratnam made an unapologetic movie till in the end he felt compelled to make Gurubhai the Mahatma!!. We definitely could have done without the horse in the rail station and some more screen time for Ifran Khan and the lady who said no to "The Namesake". (with good reasons we must say after watching the movie)

All in all it is an excellent movie till about the last 15 minutes where it quickly degenerates into yet another Bollywood movie.

And as we were shaking our head in disappointment at the dumb ending and went home we switched on our Idiot Box only to find "Main Hoon Na" and we realized how much better by orders of magnitude your movie was, so what if the ending was not what we wanted, we will surely watch it yet again and maybe add it to our DVD collection just yet.

P.S : The boss working out with the "Brokeback Mountain" poster in the background was quite good eh. And if you have read so far and are wondering why the title is what it is, well we are equally clueless!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Inheritance of Loss -- Brian Charles Lara

When I was a kid, me and my father would talk about Cricket a lot. He would recount more than once the match where Viv Richards made his debut and Chandra had him out in both innings which left Richards absolutely bamboozled. This is of course well documented but the reason me and my brother remember it so very fondly is because when he would talk of Chandras bowling, my fathers face would undergo a beautiful transformation. It would seem that he went backward in time and he would look like a 20 year old watching the greatest leg spinner of his era bowl to the greatest batsman of his era. I hope that 20 years down the line when I talk about Brian Laras batting to someone, I hope, no I am sure they would say the same thing can be observed in my visage.

There were two cricketers whom I would never tire of watching, one Brian Lara bat and the other Wasim Akram bowl. There was something totally out of this world, almost divine when they would play in the whites.

Maybe some other day we will talk about one half of the Sultans of Swing but this is about Brian Charles Lara the prince of Trinidad. Arguably the greatest test batsman of the past 20 years he almost seemed to reserve his best knocks for the best opposition of our time Australia. It all started with that stupendous knock of 277 at the SCG (He has named his daughter Sydney in memory of that knock).

Watching him play then it seemed every ball went precisely where he wanted it to go. As Ian Healy on commentary once remarked the only way he could have gotten out was by getting run out and that is what precisely happened. And then again in the 1998-99 when the Aussies came visiting. Down 1-0 in the series and 37 for 4 at the end of the first day, Lara proceded to play the sort of knock that only he can conjure. Result Australia loose by 10 wickets narrowly avoiding an innings defeat.

And then followed it up with an excellent 153 on the final day of the third test for WI to go up 2-1.

Finally an innings I watched live in Adelaide, November 2005. After scratching around for the first two matches Lara just turned it on in the first innings in Adelaide, a scorching knock of 226. After pulling Brett Lee to the mid wicket fence for four to bring up his double hundred, he square drove through the covers for four. There were two fielders on the fence one in front of square and another behind square and he threaded it perfectly.

He reserved some special treatment for the English as well, setting the record for the highest runs in an innings by a batsman not once but twice. His 375 was scored over the first 3 days of the test match. In the 4th session of the match it became apparent that Lara was going to overtake Sir Gary Sobers record, it was fated. What else can you say but that when Lara pulled Lewis to overtake 365 his right foot flicked the stumps yet the bails did not fall off. And then again another innings that I watched live, his 400. Perhaps the shot to overtake Hayden was the best, 2 steps down to Gareth Batty and the ball is soaring well over the long on ropes.

He would raise his level whenever he played against the great bowlers (perhaps one of the reason he did not have a great record against India). In the 2001 tour to Sri Lanka he scored 688 runs in 6 innings including one double hundred and two hundreds on some of the most viciously turning tracks against the best off spinner ever Muthiah Muralitharan. And he still ended up on the side that got whitewashed 3-0.

His handling of the spinners was probably the way god would play the spinners if he was a batsman. Clobbering Robin Pietersen for 28 runs in one over, that too the penultimate over of the day, setting a record for the most runs scored in one over. Yet again in 2006 leaving Danish Kaneria rue the day he decided to become a leggie, when he was hit for 3 sixes and two fours in one over. In the champions trophy sweeping Hogg square bisecting the gap between deep backward square and the sweeper on the leg side. Ponting decides to get the deep backward square in front of square and he promptly sweeps him fine this time making the short fine leg and the square leg fielder run after the ball.

There are a lot of comments about the "Spirit of Cricket" going on and no one epitomises it the way Brian Lara did. He has walked since he played cricket and does not make the big noise that Mr Adam Gilchrist does (and he does not always walk, only when he knows that the remaining six can do the job). Remember the 1994 tour of WI to India and Lara was playing on 91, fast approaching his maiden hundred against the Indians. He nicks one behind to Mongia off Raju that probably other than him only Mongia would have heard. By the time the Umpire decided he was out, Lara was well beyond the inner circle on his way to the pavilion.

Someone once remarked "There is nothing better than watching a cover drive in cricket", well we would say "There is nothing better than watching Brian Lara drive the ball through covers". Almost every shot of his had a magical quality to it, the square drive played off the back foot, the flick through fine leg or the pull in front of square. Even when he would leave balls outside the off stump you would think man that was not merely a well-left but a dismissal of the ball that it is not even worth any attention. There is a sense of heightened anticipation when his bat has that high backlift and he crouches ever so slightly, almost like a spring that is coiled and ready to unleash its full force. One has to see it to beleive it.

No piece on Lara is complete without a comparison with Sachin. My take Sachin is the solid, dependable, safe Mercedes while Lara was the Ferrari. Not the best car in all situations but "My god what a drive it is gonna be ?", let us rest it at that.

He played at a time when West Indies cricket was at its downswing and seems fast headed for the absolute pits. For all his brilliance he was unlucky in that he had such a weak team and for a batsman to have scored so many runs and yet win so few trophies leaves one thinking that life is very unfair. If ever there was one batsman who deserved to play in a stronger team theres none worthier than Brian Charles Lara. It really was an inheritance of loss. Much like his last ODI match which the WI lost by one wicket and a ball to spare, Lara's career will also have that tinge of disappointment at achieving it all and yet not achieving all.

Maybe Kipling was thinking of Lara when he wrote:

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;

Monday, April 09, 2007

Statistically Speaking

We were at a friends place over the long weekend.

Now M is one of those guys like Ranjan the Boxer here (do read his latest post), who first went through the hallowed halls of IIT Madras followed by the no less sacred place known as IIM Cal.

And as it turns out M's parents now feel he is ready to get settled down and should be married off suitably.

What is the hitch ? Well M does not want to. Now he being a IIT+IIM guy came up with what I would call a brilliant strategy.

He told his parents since he is so intellectually dumb (or advanced as the case maybe) he wants someone equally dumb from the other species a.k.a a bandi who has also been affixed with the tag "IIT+IIM".

Why is this brilliant strategy ? Lets analyze:

M passed out in 2001 from IIT and his parents don't want him to marry anyone older than him. So that means that we basically have bandis from 2002-2004 batches qualifying for his hand. (Another qualification was that she needs to be working so that rules out the batch of 2005 that passes out in 2007 from IIM)

Now there were 20 bandis in my IIT. So 7 IIT's put together that is 140 every year.

2002-2004 gets us to 420.

Now about half of them write CAT. That is 210.

About one in 10 get through so 21 is the number we end up.

Since most bandis anyhow get hitched up in IIT or IIM lets assume even in the best case half of them are stll single. That leaves 10.

And the parents want to be sure she is from the same state etc etc which means that that 10 would probably come down to one.

And what are the odds that the horoscopes match: close to zilch.

Seems that IIT+IIM has helped M in at least something.

Though the point is debatable whether M will ever get married if he keeps such strict entry criterion and if he does manage to do so, whether it will in anyway help anything.

P.S : Something by Mark Twain that the Indian Cricketers (esp the senior ones Sachin/Saurav) might need to be told the next time they play:

"It is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog that counts".

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sir! My Liver!

quoth some random sailor on board the Redoubtable when he was swept off deck by a volley of shot from the Victory that severely impeded his alcohol tolerance (with multiple apologies to le docteure Canadienne).

To scribble about more immediate matters, after we watched our representatives follow our good neighbours on their way out, it was intended to review that incomparable parable of freedom, war, and bad choices of personal jewellery: CCC. However, the War Nerd did the job better than we ever would[1], so we instead abuse the royal pronoun prodigiously as we try to answer another hypothetical question: is it at all possible to review satisfactorily a movie we like? For various reasons related to bile and spleens and the requirement of venting the same periodically from within the safe confines of that spongy mass we call our body, we prefer to review the opposite, particularly when events conspire to put so many of them in our path.

So, consider Sur Mes lèvres, a crime thriller by Jacques Audiard that relates a touching story of thievery as pulled off by a deaf girl and a parolee from one of France's unpronounceable prisons. The film starts off with much camerawork emphasising speaking lips, hinting at what the title translates to: "read my lips", to us multiculturally challenged individuals. Carla is a partly-deaf secretary at a large civil engineering firm, who works hard at her job (and works on her own time drawing up contracts and projects for the greater good of the germ.. er, the firm.) Her job also involves her picking up emptied cups of coffee that weightier individuals leave at her desk, answering the phone, and otherwise doing what a nonentity does best: existing, babysitting a better-looking friend's baby as the friend enjoys the experience of being a "mindless piece of meat" (or thereof, quoting from subtitles is sadly difficult.) The audio follows her hearing aid, with some nicely framed scenes where the volume changes as she adjusts the volume in both load, and crucially, quiet environments.

Our lady of the coffee leads a boring existence, screaming "arbeit macht frei" every now and then, until in a fit of inspiration, she decides to use the local employment exchange to find herself a secretarial assistant with nice hands. In steps the hero, better known from the sequel of a movie we like (of course, he includes a Shocker K'Boo flop in his filmography, to compensate), who is, as mentioned, out of jail. For reasons best known to herself, Carla passes him off as a former employee of an upstanding firm, and trains him up, applying small pokes and jibes that were probably aimed at her during her existence. Much obvious misunderstandings between them later, our man of the jail gets an offer he can't refuse, and finds an opportunity to make a killing. Much plot development later, the prince kisses the frog. Er. Maybe not, but the you get the idea. Notwithstanding the fact that I praise it (which, in some circles, is considered deadly for a movie), it still remains a movie you can watch once. Which is more than can be said for some other blogkill.

[1] No link. Find this one yourself, it's worth it!

Oh, and before I forget: this is a very good movie about the so-called "great war"

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Alvida Inzy Bhai

Inzamam Ul Haq has decided to retire from One Day International Cricket. I first watched Inzamam play in the 1992 World Cup as a 10 year old teenager still trying to lift a bat properly. What astonished both me and my brother then was the fact that he was never hurried into playing any stroke, seemed he almost could wait that extra nanosecond thinking "Hmmm now where do I dispatch this ?", and once the answer was found to that question hit it with such precision that the presence of fielders seemed almost incidental to the shot. It is of course another entirely hilarious story that he probably thought an extra minute for "Should I run ?" and was involved in some of the most comical run outs in cricket history.

Over the years whenever the Pakistan team would be batting I would wait for 2 great batsmen to strut their stuff, one the wristy and elegant Saeed Anwar and then wait till Inzy would walk out to bat. From the time he would mark his guard to the running between the wickets there was an element of a laid back attitude, a it-is-only-a-game outlook. This was probably why he could never be a good captain.

He shot into prominence with two excellent knocks in the 1992 World Cup, a 37 ball 60 against an as yet undefeated New Zealand, and then another excellent finishing knock in the final. But the innings that stand out in my memory are A. The match in Karachi of India's tour of Pakistan in 2004. Chasing 350 to win and losing 2 wickets for just 34 on the board, Inzy walked out to bat. And for the next 2 hours he went on to show the world as to why he must be in the top 5 of any list of world class batsmen. Nehra was pulled with a swivel of the hips both in front and behind square depending on the field. Balaji was cut with the gap between point, sweeper cover and third man being repeatedly found. But the greatest joy to watch was his repeated stepping out to Murali Kartik. Driven inside out over extra cover (one of the most difficult shots to execute), and when he strayed on the legs swept fine, square. He almost pulled it off but for Moin failing to do a Miandad and they fell short by 5 runs. (By the way rekommendation read Rahul Bhattacharyas "Pundits from Pakistan" this innings is described in much much better words in the book) B. Again old opponents India this time in India, Ahmedabad to be precise. Needing 316 to win Inzy walked in with Paksitan 183-3 and 20 overs remaining. He again proceeded to play an innings in such a calm and controlled manner that not for once did it look like Pakistan were going to lose. Not even when 1 run was required off the last over and the phlegmatic finisher waited till the last ball to hit a boundary off Sachin. C. Again the opponent is India and this time the Venue is Bangalore, India is up 1-0 in the test series. On the first morning it is 7 for 2 and Pakistan are already in trouble. Enter who else but Inzy and as he stroked and caressed and sometimes bludgeoned his way to 184, it was an education in batting of the "fury under control" kind. The match went onto the final day and a visibly charged up Inzy marshalled his bowling resources well and made sure that Pakistan levelled the series 1-1. Another test innings worth mentioning, when he played with No 11 Danish Kaneria against Bangladesh to deny them a test victory and secure a win for Pakistan.

I was talking to one of my school friends who also used to play cricket for the school, and he once told me that if there is a chase on and Inzy is at the crease, nothing can be more absorbing than watching him bat as he calculates and times his innings precisely. Choosing exactly at what time to accelerate, which bowler to attack and exactly which gap to pierce. In this he was comparable to Hussey and Bevan two other great finishers of limited overs cricket.

Probably the only reason he has never got his due, is due to his poor record against the Aussies. Just as every batsman of the 70's was bench marked with how well they played the WI pace quarter just will it be the test that every contemporary batsman needs to pass against the Aussies in the 90's.And he would always find new ways of getting himself out like obstructing the fielder.

His captaincy was rarely inspirational and usually very reactive. But his press conferences were always known for starting with "First of all Thanks to Allah". In a time when most captains mouth inanities like "We were about 20 runs short" it was always much more fun listening to Inzy say those words.

He was a gentle giant shrugging off Indian audiences comments of "Aloo Aloo" with a wan smile more often than not, well respected and rarely had anything other than a good word for anyone else.

And so in keeping with the tradition of the book we are reading "So Long Inzy and Thanks for all the Innings"

Monday, March 12, 2007

Raid: The dockside

Raid: the Dockside

Vikram Bhatt demonstrates why it is a bad idea to watch "Cries and Whispers" and "Basic Instinct" just before brainstorming for a new method to take money off a credulous audience. While not completely an expedition of suitably clad cockroach-killer wielding amazons out to recapture Diego Garcia, Red does come close, in all critically acclaimable aspects of the matter.

I imagine the conversation must have gone something as follows:

Dyerector: "The last decent movie we made was way back in 2002! Let's do something new, it is a great opportunity moving forward to capitalize on our culturally challenged audience."

Yes-Man 1: "Aye Aye, Cap'n!"

D: "You know..."

Yes-Man 2: "Yes Sir!"

D: "...Actually, you don't. I watched two whole movies yesterday!"

YM1: "I believe Congratulations are in order, sir. How were they?"

D: "Red! Red! I have a new idea for a movie, now."

YM's: "Congratulations, sir!"

D: "This will be a movie about murder. There will be a lot of redness around. In fact, we'll fade from and to red between scenes!"

YM1: "Wonderful Sir!"

And thus, was born Red. The movie starts off with Affitabh pawning his dog at the local, and promptly suffering from the debilitating effects of a hole in the heart (Note that this is not necessarily the same as the aftereffects of having an arrow through a cardioid shape that happens near the ides of February, but for the sake of argument is assumed to be so.) After a long and involved trip through hospital rooms and general cinematography reminiscent of this, we see Affy get a new heart, a bottle of "immunosuppressant" drugs, and promptly celebrate by getting drunk and trying to find out who was the previous possessor of his heart. Affy, by the way, owns a computer corporation called CompTran, when he's not pawning dogs or otherwise falling around in fits (and various other things).

The "immunosuppressant" touch is very nice, by the way. According to the movie, he has to take them for the rest of his life, to prevent the new fluid pump from being rejected by his body (true). His doctor also claims that these drugs reduce infection rate (true, for a certain restricted meaning of infection), and have other most
interesting effects (truth unknown) that form a key step of the plot. If nothing else, it makes one wonder: what poison takes about an hour to act, but once it starts, affects the "immune system" rapidly, but still leaves the victim capable of a spirited rendition of Hamlet's soliloquy?

Speaking of Ham: guess who was responsible for the music for this movie? We need say no more, save the fact that it is an appropriate backdrop to the red-(un)clad heroines that infest this movie. Horrifying visuals apart, the two heroines don't do much more than remind us that we could have been wasting time in more pleasant ways.

To get back to the (excuse for a) storyline, the hero finds out who he stole his pump from. After a certain amount of stalking this person's wife, wherein our hero nearly undergoes a frontal lobotomy by metal rod (which would have improved the movie no end), meets up with the love of his life, and generally scatters a few woses awound. Much unpleasantness later, the movie grinds towards its conclusion, leaving the audience free to meditate on the transience of material (the hero's Breitling watch) and non-material (our temper) goods.

As an interesting aside, we note that the so called tabloid newspaper featured as the hero stalks makes the grave mistake of referring to the "greiving[sic] widow". Maybe she was a graven window, an example of "Arbeit macht grei", but it grieves us to see such examples of shoddy copyediting lifted into prominence by a movie that otherwise maintains uniformly standards otherwise: low necklines, low comedy, low lows, and we low not what else.

To paraphrase the last (or thereabouts) line of the movie: we'd die to have not watched this movie, we may want to kill the idiot who dragged us to this movie, but we're damned fools to have watched it in the first place.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Fundamentally un-sound

About the only thing that could be worse than an Indian cinema is the Indian cinema audience. After two months of this year passed without my voluntary contribution to encourage the great Unified People's Cooperative Industry for the Production of Mass-Viewable Culturally Uplifting Movies, a decision was taken: to watch the great man of Indian cinema direct a greater man in a disastrous exploration of alternative immorality: the copied localisation of two movies from the distant barbarian lands of the west.

All started auspiciously, given the pronounced crowds that make one wonder how this particular multiplex actually makes a profit. The fond hope of watching a movie undisturbed by the grunting masses was rapidly dispelled by the swine that treat a theatre as their theater to demonstrate to a largely uncaring audience that they are now fully empowered citizens, entitled to irritate everyone by talking about most uninteresting matters were present in full force (Hey, it only takes one to contaminate the lot, and when you have a 19 people of an audience of 20 indulging in intricate manipulations of the stock market, the resulting euphony as funny as a phony cry for help.)

Anyway, on to the Bheejoy[1]-starrer of the modern era: what can you particularly say about a movie that starts with "American Beauty", carefully hacks out the decent parts, and replaces them with, shall we say, material of dubious origin? Consider, for example, the memorable scenes of Lester Burnham on his way to dreamland: replace them with Bheejoy having an extremely irritating fit of laughing that pisses off his wife (and his audience.) And the roses! To add insult to injury, when you copy from a movie starring this person, we may be wrong to expect a swimming pool, but to replace that with a hosepipe is decidedly poor taste added to rank advertising.

The "18 year old" young Angela Hayes is played by Ramboda's find of the year, the young lady whose picture we put on this post to irritate the usual bunch of characters who read this tripe at work. (as an aside, what the hell is a lambada? We know the lambda, and worship it between hacks, but this is a new one.)

Consider, now, a tooth-numbingly stupid brat pretty young thing with exactly two thoughts rattling around in a vast, cavernous blackness otherwise known as "the skull". The thoughts are just the sort of rules Wolfram cooks up for his cellular automata, somewhere along the lines of "water=good", and "old man=want", but that is incidental - replace them with any other rules of your choice, and the resultant emergent behaviour will get you a movie.

A maelstorm of secondhand emotion camouflaged by breathtaking imagery from the Communeast southwest demonstrates how complete Amitabh's transformation from angry young Vijay to sad old Bheejoy is. Ah, and who can forget the other kind of visuals? (Watch carefully, though: uncontrolled exposure has been known to permanently scar the retina.) Add to that the repetitive drone of "take 't light", and it makes you wonder who, exactly, the exhortation to stay "light" was intended for. Certainly not the audience, who were reminded unfavourably of another pet hate. It's all there: the crying, the irrelevant remarks about family, the characters made out of moldy cardboard, and finally, the screenplay (which, by the way, is the real destroyer of this movie - it could have been so much better.)

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Shaven Samurai: a modern parable

A long time ago and a himalaya or two away, there lived a girl called Snow White. Changing social circumstances and norms resulted in her having to leave home and live in a glass house, accompanied (atleast, in the Tadsilwenyan mythos) by seven appropriately named dwarves: Doc, Dopey, Grumpy,... oops. Wong er, that is, Wrong story.

One wonders just what particular version of the story of Snow White the great Master K was thinking about when he made his gritty, realistic masterpiece about the shaven ones. An off-beat one, one hopes.

The 'Seven Samurai' opens with a millety spy listening in on the deeply deliberative discussions of the executive council of some unnamed ship of the high seas of international finance. The leaders of this particular leviathan wish to determine the optimal moment to effect a transfer of ownership to maximise their holdsharers profit. Unfortunately for them, the spy has a conflicting material interest, which is where this story begins.

Spy runs in his hoppy gait to his headquarters of nonmilitary unintelligence, where the spiritual ancestor of General Schiesskopf promptly dispatches an early scouting patrol armed with jugs of rice and pots of sake to gather up renegades from the holy band of people who wield two swords[1]. Collecting such people naturally affords us an insight into the collected people's character, where we meet the shaven one (who is capable of wreaking havoc by creating a cannonball from two hemispheres of rice), watch him becomes the General, and lead a motley crew of sword-wielding characters in their meaningful fight to do justice.

Much fighting later, we see that Toshiro "Kikuchiyo" Mifune, the only samurai of the lot whom we cheered for, is dead from an bullet, and the last of the financiers have joined him. Our remaining heroes from the best colleges[2] are left with no utility to their present employer, and thus end up with miles to go before they, well, need to write another statement of purpose[3].

Seriously speaking, this is a good movie about the beautiful futility of war. After all, maneuvers on the high seas of international finance need a certain time before they can settle down into a steady state.

[1] Not what you think, sadly. The shorter sword has "Made in IIT" engraved on the blade, (something like Hattori Hanzo would do) while the longer one has "Forged in IIM"[4] painted over the engraving.

[2] They might have been from the Musashi school of ring and sword. That is the same thing, though.

[3] I hope this was just a historical thing. The usual kinematic cinematic disclaimer of "all characters and events [...] fictional [...]" applies here.

[4] It has since been implied to us that this is ambiguous. To be absolutely clear, we mean forged(1) from here, and not forged(2).

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A "Scientifically Updated" Post

This post is not our creation, but we found it here.

To quote some of the sections we found quite interesting:

"I would like to request something to all the Movie Fans / IMDb users out there.It is as follows: -> It's OKAY to be Morally Upright but it's necessary to be SCIENTIFICALLY UPDATED first (Especially for those whose academics are from a Non-Science background)."

"if you oppose this movie you not only oppose the Father of Human Evolution Theory -CHARLES DARWIN but also oppose something important that Darwin's theory proves : Human Male is capable of producing Sperms all his Life-Time. In contrast, a Human Female's Menstrual Cycle ends roughly at the age of Forty-Five years. This Fact is enough to prove that a Male is Naturally Designed ...yes, Naturally Designed to fall in love with female counterparts all his life time(Yes,even at the age of 60 years like Mr. Bachhan's character in the Movie or even 90 years) and further still reproduce with the help any number of adult Females."

"This is an appeal to 'Indians' especially. Because it's important to know the difference between a 'Godzilla' and a 'Jurrassic Park'. It's necessary to reject the former and accept the latter. Let's accept the Reality."

Godzilla is better than Jurassic Park, scientifically speaking eh!!!!

Monday, February 26, 2007

HTPL a.k.a Hyper Tortuous Private Limited

Good movies are all alike, every bad movie is bad in its own way.

That is the reason why we prefer reviewing movies that are bad rather than the good ones. This Saturday we had the misfortune of watching Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. Just re-phrasing what Ian Botham had to say about Pakistan "This is the sort of movie that you send your mother-in-law to in the hope that better sense might just prevail and she might decide to give up the worldly existence that is full of such perils as this movie".

Reasons why we decided to watch the movie in the first place. Sandhya Mridul and Kay Kay Menon. The former is our latest muse after watching movies like Waisa Bhi Hota Hai - II and Page 3. Kay Kay of course is someone to watch out for after his excellent rendition of the word "Hello" in Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena".

The first story started off well when the director got her facts right and talked about the Halley comets sighting in 1986. But little did we realize that a "Its all happening" does not maketh a Bill Lawry. And of course we didn't bargain for Minissha Lamba (yes the same actress who once said in a HT interview that she wanted wider hips) and Abhay Deol making sounds, that one would opine belonged to 101 Dalmatians. (On second thoughts it would have fit only in a scene where all the 101 were being fried to death on an Electric Chair, and not to worry Ms Lamba I am sure the villains pet cat would rather enjoy this) rather than Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. (As a portent of things to come we have a scene where a 10-year old Abhay Deol hides himself in a trash can, we wonder whether the director was making a statement that all scenes involving him were actually full of garbage.) By the way the super hero thing, well when "Toby Maguire" can play Spider Man and "Halle Berry" Catwoman I suppose anything goes.

Then there is the story concerning Dia Mirza, Ranvir Shorey and Arjun Rampal. Well even though we are biased towards Dia (Her being from Hyd and all that), we think she should stick to hosting award functions and item numbers. Arjun Rampal, well he should stick to doing nothing actually, and Ranvir dude get a life. (Though we might not be the best ones to approach on how to do that!!)

Amisha Patel and some unknown whom we shall refer to Mr X1 from now their story seems to be for lack of better words right out of M&B (Caution: Opening this link at work might cause co-workers to doubt your sanity). People who work in my industry, dudes it is not mount and bonding diagram I am talking about (sorry couldn't resist the pun) rather the great "chick-lit-hall-of-fame" presidents. Anyway Amisha Patel gives ample reasons why she should not act and instead get married to some rich Diamond merchant (pearls actually if you go by the movie). Apparently she is this bubbly Punjabi Kudi, well we can say there is more spice in the kadi we get in our Cafeteria.

The story of Sandya Mridul and Mr X2 is very superficial to say the least and the fine actress is wasted in the movie. One would have expected slightly more discerning choice of roles from her. Even though it is more sensible than the others there is nothing of substance that actually happens in this story in the whole movie and is as predictable as finding IT Engineers or Stray Dogs on Bangalore roads.

Boman Irani and Shabana Azmi play persons past their youth, both have been married before and have suffered the loss of their loved ones. Yet again predictably the daughter of Mr Irani is no bharatiya nari and ends up confiding in Ms Azmi at the end (predictably some boy friend dumping her, we wonder where the hell do such chicks roam around man $%^%). And everything is hunky dory, except the expressions on the faces of the audience.

Finally to the one saving grace, the story involving Kay Kay and Raima Sen. Kay Kay is the typical "boy-next-door" for a change instead of the usual "girl-next-door" (we still wonder why the ones next door to us look like a cross between Queen Latifah and Judi Dench). Kay Kay combs his hair so straight that had it been any straighter Sunil Gavaskar would have been proud. Raima Sen wants toescape the boredom that has set into their marriage. Looking to break free of her "better-halfs" parents home (the way she convinces Kay Kay is probably the only saving grace of the whole movie) and of the strict order by which her husband lives his life. And quite disturbingly there is some difference between the beginning and the end as far as this story is concerned.

We recommend you watch this movie only if you think that the only possible way for you to loose weight is to make your wallet lighter by 200/-. (Then again probably not.......)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The fourth K a.k.a Random Trip #4 -- Turtle Bay Resort Kundapur

The last trip which was to Belur-Haleebedu (I know I haven't blogged about it) left us very apprehensive of NH4 traffic, so this time we started a full hour earlier at 0730 than the last time around. But this time surprisingly there was not much traffic on NH4, and we did good time reaching Neelamangla soon. After that we took the diversion to NH48. Now NH48 is a two lane highway and has lots of curves and mostly empty compared to NH206 which is pretty much straight and has 4 lanes at most places. But I was zipping at 100kmph on NH48 when I had to round a curve and did a U-turn that made sure we went to 100-0kmph in about 10 seconds and a radius of about a couple of metres. No small contribution was due to the fact that Comfortably Numb was playing while I was driving. Anyway the photo down here will pretty much show how the ABS of my car got tested and passed with flying colors.

We took a diversiona at Channarayapatna and had breakfast at the Kamath there. At around 11am we started and hit Hasan soon and then Sakleshpur. The road degraded a lot from here on and the view was not very scenic either. We were crawling along and the Ghats section roads were atrocious. We somehow managed to reach Mangalore at about 1700 hours. Just before that at around 1500 hours we had lunch at a very shady place called Highway Inn. After Mangalore we hit NH17 and went towards Udipi. NH17 is a very narrow NH and there is a lot of traffic as well on it. So we had to give the car over to our slowest and safest driver.

We were given to believe that the resort was very close to Mangalore so our original plan was to leave Bangalore at 0400 and hit the resort sometime in the afternoon. Instead we left at 0730 and then came to know that the resort is more like 150km from Mangalore. So all said and done we reached Kundapur only about 1845.

Our ounly source of entertainment (my guitar CD and a collection of songs which seemed to have far too many Himesh Reshamiyya on it notwithstanding) was the commentary of the India-WI cricket match on Vividh Bharati. By the time we reached Kundapur we knew the sum total of ODI runs scored by Ganguly, Dravid and Sachin.

There was more disappointment to await us at Kundapur. We were 5 of us and had booked a room for 3 people and a cabana for 2. We reached only to be told that the person suposed to vacate a room had not done so and we 5 of us had to fit into one cabana. We also ended up missing the sunset.

There was a bonfire planned for the night and we just got a few mats and lied down on the beach next to the bonfire. By the time we had dinner and reached the tent all we could think of was sleep.

Next morning we got up at 0700 and played beach volleyball and then went into the sea with the waves. Yours truly realised on coming back that we had not emptied our pockets so our mobile went phut and so did the car remote. We tried a manual enter into the car only for it to start beeping really loudly. After some frantic calls to about 20 different people we found the software hack to open it manually and then finally started off at around 1100 from Kundapur.

This time we decided to hit NH206 instead of NH48 so we went north on NH17 and took a diversion to reach Kollur from where we hit Hosanagara. The drive through this section of the ghats was very good with a narrow winding road but minimal traffic. The view of the forests on either side of us was also truly awesome. We hit Hosanagara at about 1300 and then did good time to reach Shimoga by 1500. We had lunch at an awful dhaba and then drove all the way till the Kamat in Neelamangala where we reached at around 2000 and decided to have dinner there. The meals there were quite awful.

By the time we reached Bangalore the time was 2200 and we had about 50/- and about a litre of fuel left in the car.

The resort is worth visiting and the beach looks great. But definitely to enjoy the resort you need to stay there for at least a day and drive through a better route. Unlike us who reached there and left before we could even have the feel that we are on a holiday.

And yes do not get into the sea with your car remote and mobile phones.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Go For Guru

Guru reminded me my analog design classes. After discussing a high gain Common Emitter amplifier for half the course the next half would be dedicated to something called "De-generation" so that the high gain can be stabilised.

Guru fits the description perfectly, the first half is excellent Mallika Sherawat's role as a belly dancer notwithstanding. One could almost term it path-breaking since Bollywood is usually not known for making movies that are biographical in nature which dont portray the protagonist as a born-angel-society-turning-him-into-mafia-don or a-honest-do-gooder-never-again-to-be-born-on-earth.

Gurukant Desai is an entrepreneur and an unapologetic one at that. In the first half of the movie Guru starts from a small town boy with dreams into one who has pursued them and is halfway there to achieving them. The cinematography is excellent. There are some scenes that stay with you for long, Guru shaking a few shells in his hand with one of Istanbuls mosques in the back ground, Guru and his future-brother-in-law climbing a set of stairs to the top of a temple, and an excellent one just before the interval where Guru and his wife after having a fight are standing on two opposite sides of the road and a tram passes right in between them capturing the poignancy superbly.

In the second half Guru goes on to become the owner of Indias largest company not always following the law. And a newspapers editor is out to get him. He uses a young news reporter Shyam Saxena who is equally ruthless and uses distorted versions of the truth to purse his vendetta against Guru.

But the second half quickly de-generates like the emitter amplifier with an entirely avoidable song, an un-necessary character called Meenu (just to show the soft side of Guru) and a speech at the end which has so much hamming in it that you are left tearing your hair out in frustration as to why a movie that promised so much has to suddenly revert back to the old corny dialogue delivery that pulp Bollywood movies are famous for. (Guru comparing himself to the Mahatma, give me a break) The only saving grace is yet again the cinemtography, an excellent take from the top of a much older Guru and his wife lying on a bed in the small house from where it all started. Some other scenes that stand out in memory are the way the board meetings of Gurus company start from a small maidan to in the end a huge cricket stadium, and where a Taxi Driver tells Guru he could not have done wrong since he could get three of his daughters married by selling Gurus company shares.

The performances are quite simply put excellent. For once Aishwarya Rai playing Gurus wife does not shed bucket loads of water each time something goes wrong. An admirably restrained performance from her. Abhishek delivers a power packed performance, but why the sudden urges in the middle of the movie to try and mouth dialogues a-la Marlon Brando in Godfather or a swagger like Al Pacino!! Mithunda plays a great role as the only upright editor who dares to oppose Guru. Modelled on RP Goenka, Mithunda delivers yet another spell binding performance. Madhavan essays the role of Shyam Saxena with aplomb. And then there is a whole range of support cast that does quite well.

The cinematogrpahy of Rajeev Menon is excellent. And of course when A R Rahman composes music for Mani Ratnam there is bound to be magic and it is true for this movie as well.

Guru is definitely worth a watch, but dont expect too much in the second half of the movie.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Free Verse: Worse is Free.

From a listing of the top 20 cliches of the newspapers of the great vaat-er land comes this tarnished (dis)inspiration:

We wish to ensure a level playing field
if you are in the red,
so that, at the end of the day
you will, time and again,
be found in the black
rather than become a fly by night
thing that requires a last-ditch effort
leaving no stone unturned.
We await the eleventh hour
with bated breath
thinking: better late than never.
You watch those who rushed to the scene
cry all the way to the bank
and then call it a day
as time is running out
before we can up the ante
then happens a freak accident
in hot pursuit
of facts shrouded in mystery
that ensure survival of the fittest.

The cliche distribution itself is present (as an image) on some other blog, so do search around to find it. It's a lot more impressive than (one more) proof of my insanity.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Murder in Milan

Unfortunately, I don't remember whether Agatha Christie ever wrote anything with this particular title. No matter, since Patricia Highsmith did write a similar piece that promptly (or not, in this case) got converted into that thing the twisted writership of this blog really likes: a reason to remember and revile another antibiographical waste of nonbiodegradable DVD. And unfortunately, for the same reasons, too (Kate Hep... err, Cate Blanchett not being one of among them.)

The Talented Mr. Ripley[1]

Mr. Ripley is the untalented nonentity who believes that it is better to be a fake nobody than a real one (though he does achieve both extremes rather rapidly) unlike his better performances as a ludlum hyperhero, or a dumb pickpocket, who were probably too uncultured to consider such solipsistic syllogisms.

On his way to nobodyness, Our Man in the Mothballed Suit manages to commit murder, perpetrate mayhem, and generally make life unbearable for all those doomed to sit through this generally awful waste of two hours, that should have been better spent studying John Hinckley's reasons. Better murders too, since they do not have to contend with razor-sharp oars.

To be fair, The Talented Mr. Ripley might actually be a good thriller, if you can get through the parts that make you yawn, the parts that make you wish you had the editing scissors (if not a fast-forward button) handy, and the parts that make you wonder what a thriller actually is.

[1] To increase the ratio of weird google hits to weirder ones, we
'ereby hembark hon ha program to scatter hour 'aitches habout.