I often overrate my instincts. I do have huge self-destructive tendencies. On such days, I pick a really bad movie to watch. Today, it happened to be "Dus Kahaniyaan".

I had no big expectations from the movie. The movie was just 2 hours long. That makes it a mere 12 minutes per story. Even if 3 stories are good and a few are not unbearable, I felt it was not a bad choice and it did not seem too risky. How wrong was I! I would not bore you by writing about all of them, but definitely a few that got on my nerves.

Strangers In The Night
Mahesh Manjrekar and the lady with the longest face, Neha Dhupia are a weird couple who spend their anniversary day disclosing their past infidelities. Neha discloses that she had kissed a stranger in a railway station before meeting Mahesh. Flashback, we get to see Neha kissing the stranger's palm, her chin touching his elbow! She kisses his palm, his fingers - some of the most innovative ways of kissing never seen before on celluloid. Flashback again, in the railway station a small muslim kid runs towards her crying for help, she hides him from the rioter carrying a sword, confronts the rioter, kisses him on his palm and diverts his attention long enough for the kid to escape. I had tears in my eyes. I actually had cold!

Zahir
Manoj Bajpai, an ex-banker, a wannabe writer and a pessimist comes to stay at a friend's apartment for writing his novel, where he meets the retarded looking yet optimistic Dia Mirza. They talk, drink coffee and when Manoj falls for her and tries to kiss her, she rejects him and goes away. Disappointed Manoj goes to a bar to get drunk and finds out that Dia is a call girl interacting with a 'customer'. When Dia comes over to Manoj's place for giving an explanation, Manoj teaches her a lesson (there is another word for this - "rape"!) without letting her tell what she intended to say. Few months later, now in a hospital, the unshaven Manoj realizes that she had come to tell him that she had AIDS and now he is also affected by AIDS. This becomes the story to his novel. What? Why? WTF? Yeah, I too had those questions. Sanjay Gupta releases his movie the same month as World AIDS day and leaves a message - Never rape a HIV patient!

Lovedale
A soon-to-be-married girl meets a woman on the train, who gives the lone ear ring that she wore and suddenly disappears (You guessed it right, she should be a dead person with a great motive!) The girl gets off at the station in search of that woman and she stumbles into Aftab's house, where she has coffee with him. Then, she meets him again at her engagement ceremony, finds out that Aftab is her fiance's friend and her dad Anupam Kher asks her if she is really *really* happy about her marriage. The girl obviously displays the utter confusion thats so natural for a typical desi heroine, to which her dad gives a lecture on *true love* - he narrates a story of his youth, where he had met a beautiful lady on the train to whom he had gifted a pair of ear rings, one of which has remained with him. Surprise surprise, it matches the one she had got from the woman on the train. She runs towards Aftab and hugs him, comes to know that the woman was Aftab's mother, dead 10 years ago.
Had the woman being alive and Anupam Kher married her now, the girl and Aftab would have been 'socially siblings'! On the other hand, if the girl and Aftab had married first, the oldies marriage would be cross-in-laws marriage :D

Sex On The Beach
The career-going-nowhere, still-depressed-from-Bipasha-dumping Dino Morea is vacationing in a lonely island. He discovers a book buried in sand, opens it and makes his signature. And out of nowhere, a lady in skimpy golden bikini storms in a water boat towards the sea shore. After exchanging blank glares, she invites him to her home. Dino reaches her home and accidentally drops a pack of condoms on the floor while talking to her (Wah, the "maturity" of Bollywood!) and waits on the couch, while she excuses herself to 'slip-into-something-comfortable' (why do people wear uncomfortable clothing so often? ;) ) When the lady takes more than the average time a woman takes to get ready for a party, Dino enters the bathroom and finds that the lady is dead, her eyes as expressionless as when she was alive. He gets panicky, runs out of her home, on the way getting confronted by the lady bhooth and the next morning, the kids playing on the beach discover Dino, as dead as his career. A new visitor on the island discovers the same book, signs it and the lady in skimpy bikini storms in again (and so on and so forth).
Somebody comes to know of it and carefully turns this virgin beach into a burgeoning tourist destination (Sorry I made the last one up - my sense of humor seriously affected by this gem of a movie)

Rice Plate
A businessman buys a pack of cookies and enters the airport lounge. A shabbily dressed man comes and sits next to him. He picks a cookie from the pack the businessman has kept by his side and starts eating. The businessman takes a cookie from the pack and looks angrily at the man. The man picks yet another cookie, the businessman takes the second cookie and walks away, thinking how rude that man was. On entering the flight, he opens his bag to discover that his cookie pack is still intact and it was he who was taking cookies from the other man's pack. Moral - Never judge others. Ever read this forward? Replace the businessman with an old Tamil woman who is prejudiced against muslims, replace airport with railway station, replace cookie pack with rice plate - and you got an original from Rohit Roy!

Gubbare
A couple traveling in a bus start quarreling over some trivial thing and the angry wife gets up and sits a few rows behind. She sees a very calm Nana Patekar holding 'gubbare' (balloons, if you didn't know) He talks to her in maniacal calmness, about how he also quarrels with his wife and he takes her gubbare to pacify her. He narrates his stories very fondly, with the pouted heroine listening to it with a "ooh so cute" look. It did not take me a second to guess that Nana's wife must be having Alzheimers, in a coma or already dead. I was right, we see Nana sitting by the side of his wife's grave, planting the gubbare there and narrating all the trivial details with maniacal calm affection.

I remember listening to a bunch of people over the last few days as to how Bollywood is changing and making different movies. "Bold" topics, extra-marital affairs, using words like 'bitch' and 'bastard', awkward kissing scenes, showing a pack of condoms - if this is what qualify as world class, Sanjay Gupta deserves standing ovation. I guess I should go back to my "I-wont-watch-a-Bollywood-movie-unless-strongly-recommended-by-some-sane-person" mode. I think I will!

P.S: I found the hugely criticized, self-obsessed largely mindless "No Smoking" to be quite a unique and interesting cinematic experience!

Meeep

Tring Tring. Tring Tring. Tring Tring. Tring.
"You have reached the automated voice messaging system of so-and-so. Please leave a message after the tone"

Can you talk to the voice messaging system the same way as you would talk to its owner? If you can, I envy you. If you cant, do you know if there is a name for this disability? :)
Just like anyone else, I talk to different people in different ways - the way of addressing, the tone, the language changes with each individual. Its like a protocol set between two people. The response of the person on the other side of the conversation is very important to that protocol. If its a voice messaging system, which is nothing but a dumb recorder - I cannot talk to it like I talk to its owner. I have tried it too hard, but it does not work! I try to sound as normal as possible, but I sound too weird!

My recorded-voice-o-phobia is not limited to voicemails. I also hate calling customer support centers - it makes me very uncomfortable. If you are one of those who make business with me - charge me 50 or 100 rupees more by mistake, I wont bother calling you up. If you get too greedy and increase it by more than that, I would get someone to call you on my behalf ;) No, I am not that bad actually, but you get my point!

"Thank you for calling us. Your call is very important to us. All our agents are currently busy. We appreciate your patience. Please hold the line while we transfer to the next available operator or go hang yourself (I mean hang up :D)" Cant anyone think of less boring and less stressful messages than this? Who discovered this lifeless tone, this pitch and frequency? I guess this was a practical joke started by someone when they were asked to design a polite and friendly voice message! I guess nobody has done a study on how this tone of talking can be seriously injurious to mental health. I would love to find out the statistics of mentally unstable persons and the frequency of customer support calls that they made in their lifetime - I bet it will have an interesting result. These automated messages are repeatedly played accompanied by some piano music or Kenny G instrumentals. Have you noticed that the same songs that otherwise sound very melodious and soothing get on your nerves when played during a customer support call? To me, the whole exercise seems too tiring - listening to the recorded message, some music, message again, music and after a few iterations, the message suddenly changes, I hear "Hello" a few times and it takes me a while to realize that I am no longer listening to the recorded message, but an agent with an equally lifeless voice.

The only place where I can tolerate a voice message is in Google Talk. Actually, I adore it. Every time I call someone using Google Talk, there is a part of me that silently wishes that the person would not pick the call and I can hear the recorded voice of the lady say "The person you are trying to reach is not available. Please leave a message after the meep. Meeep". Its sounds so silly actually, but it makes me smile even when I hear it for the thousandth time. There is a certain childish exuberance and non-mechanical friendliness about the lady's voice that makes it so adorable. Especially the way she says "meep" - its almost like making a mockery of "beep" messages. Dont you think its high time all voice messages go "meep"?

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