I am amazed by the display of naivete by people, their naivete so deeply conditioned that it ceases to be artificial. These people are very well aware of the reality, but when you show them some proof to confirm that, they are aghast and shocked. What the hell am I ranting about? I am talking about "The curious case of N D Tiwari"! To be honest, when I heard about it, I laughed out loud. Not because there was something funny in his achievements, but the way people reacted to it. So I am trying to understand what exactly bothered them?
  • A Governor was doing 'it'? ('It' upsets more people than lets say, if he was taking a bribe of crores of rupees from those 3 women)
  • A Governor was doing 'it'? (Come on seriously, are we not taught in schools that politicians work for people and poverty is dropping like Walmart prices?)
  • A Governor was caught doing it? (What is revealed is always only the tip of the iceberg. Just imagine the uncaught! Is it the "envy, envy" at work here?)
  • A Governor was caught doing it in Raj Bhavan? (The media is proficient in math, they come up with some numbers and say its a humongous waste of tax payers' money. Honestly, are you, the common man, upset that you are unwillingly donating a few paisas for the cause?)
  • The Governor was 86 years old. (Dammit, 9 out of 10 cant lift themselves up. Again, "envy envy", is that the feeling?)
  • The Governor was with 3 women. (Imagine that classic scene from "Once upon a time in the west" - 'Guess we are 1 horse short...no, its two too many'...Haah!)
  • The Governor was with girls a third of his age. (Remember reading this in a couple of places, as if the reporter would have no problems if they were septuagenarians!)
  • The ladies were call girls [Not sure, remembering reading somewhere. Correct me if I am wrong!] (How dare you Mr. Governor, we would have really stood by you if the ladies were educated, from respectables families and filed their income tax returns every year!)

Seriously, what exactly bothered you? :)

Goa

Goa is perhaps my most favorite vacation spot in India. Many think that Goa is only for people who booze or love sea food or party animals. But you can enjoy Goa equally if you love flea markets, the churches, museums, the sea, the sand, the sunsets, the pancakes at the beach shacks...!

This was our first trip post marriage where we decided not to approach a travel agent. One, obviously the financial constraint and two, we wanted a sense of adventure and unexpected. So I started doing what only eminent scientists and nobel aspirants did a few decades back. R&D! I was at my maniacal best of clicking through links, gathering info and preparing an itinerary. After searching over a hundred options, we decided to stay at Candolim. But no amount of R&D will stop you from getting surprised by gems like these.


"Original Fakes" - actually saw the same name in two shops!


Tuk Tuk Cab Rickshaw Stand

Transport
When buses are very infrequent, autos unavailable in most places and taxis obscenely expensive, what comes to your rescue is the National vehicle of Goa - Honda Activa. Easy to hire, for around 200 bucks a day, decent mileage, smooth ride and enough space to hold all the items you shop. And did you know that there are two kinds of two wheelers in Goa? Honda Activa white board and Honda Activa yellow board. It seemed to me as if every second home in Candolim region is in the "Letting Honda Activa for hire" business!

Ponda
It boasts of some lovely temples like Mahalsa, Mangueshi, ShantaDurga etc. Though not a tourist destination, it had very nice roads and signboards at every intersection. Even a severely geographically challenged person (Div has enough material to write a big post on that) The temples are very colorful with yellows, oranges, pink etc. Even the "tulasi katte" in every household is very colorful.










There are some things about Goan temples which I found interesting.
  • In Goan temples, you can wear footwear into the main entrance of the temple, but need to leave them just before entering inside the temple.
  • The "deepastambha" in the temples are elaborate and reminded me of the leaning tower of Pisa.
  • The flower sellers sit inside the temple premises and sell you in either Marathi or Konkani. No english here!
  • The "golaka" or "hundi" is called "Fund Peti". Fund seemed as though its some kind of investment. Peti very funnily reminded me of Sanjay Dutt's gangsta movies.
  • The priests dont offer "theertha" in the temples. A vessel containing theertha and a chained spoon will be placed in a corner and the devotees have to take it on their own.
  • There are non-veg hotels and wine stores just outside many temples. When things are not taboo and just a way of life, they probably cease to be offensive, right?


Old Goa

If you are into visiting old churches, stroll around lovely museums, interested in history - Old Goa is for you.


Ruins of St. Augustine Church, Old Goa - completely blew me away. What a masterpiece it might have been when it was intact!


Tombstones, with Latin inscriptions on them, dating back to the 1500s. Saw one name "Ursula" written as "VRSVLA". I was laughing uncontrollably remembering Mel Brooks' History of the World Part 1 (which never had a sequel though) where he makes fun of Latin. In one of the sequences, he tells his friend - "Buddy, I am hurt. HVRT hurt".


Church of Our Lady of the Rosary - a deserted magnificent structure adjoining the river Mandovi.


The most well known of them all - Basilica of Bom Jesus


Se Cathedral - St.Francis of Assissi. Has some really well maintained museums.


Church of St. Catherine. You could easily mistake it for one of the montage shots of "Before Sunrise".


"A cross here. A cross there. What do you call that?". Double-cross!


Every nook and corner has a beauty like this one.


Beaches
Though we stayed close to Candolim beach, we did not go to the beach for 3 days. The sand varies in texture from beach to beach. Almost every beach now has marked safe zones for swimming and many life guards on duty, which was not the case 3 years back. Here are the beaches we visited:
Sinquerim beach - We had gone for an amazing early morning walk. The nearby Aguada Fort with its mammoth light house is a delight to watch. We were very surprised to spot a peacock there, which was not gracious enough to pose properly for my camera.
Calangute beach - Its not called the Queen of beaches without reasons. It is great for water sports, though the beach is a little too over crowded.
Candolim beach - A personal favorite of mine, so it was quite ironic that we visited it last. But I enjoyed so many new discoveries this time, I rarely missed Candolim beach.
Baga beach - Quite close to the Mackies Saturday Night Market - a place for amazing knick knacks, live music and expensive food. The market was the first place we visited on reaching Goa. If it is your first time in Goa, you would be shocked by the perfectly accented English that village women speak here (yes, it is actually Arpora village) and their amazing sales skills can put the a B-school student to shame ("Come my friend, I will give you the best price" is their mantra!)
Anjuna beach - The wednesday flea market was so huge, that it felt as never-ending as the sea itself. I guess it was the pulsating sound of Prem Joshua's "Shiva Moon" that kept us going.


Sinquerim neach - capturing somebody's "Dil Chahta Hai" moment


The gigantic light house at the Aguaga Fort


Beautiful sunset at the Calangute beach on the penultimate day


Not the queen, but the most beautiful of 'em all - Candolim beach herself

Panaji
Driving inside the city and on the bridge is a delight. There is plenty of parking space everywhere and is mostly free. The shopping on the 18th June Road is an ideal option after a tiring day. The relaxing massage we got at an expensive spa here still brings a bright smile on our faces.

The sunset cruise over Mandovi river made me realize this. There were probably a hundred handicams/digicams/mobicams capturing the performances in the cruise. Imagine 100 youtube videos of a routine performance that happens daily. I am amazed by the amount of redundant and unimportant online data that humanity might have generated in the last 5 years.


Our Lady of Immacute Conception overlooking the city of Panaji

I want to end this writeup with a PJ that occurred to me in Old Goa.
Q: How does Jesus address his mom when he is annoyed?
A: Arrey Mary Maa :)

Believe me when I say this, I had not gone to this movie to nitpick. No! I was expecting a nice little film, if not anything path breaking.

I remember reading R.Balki's interview, where he had mentioned this. He had been to Amitabh's office one day and there he saw Abhishek getting all wise and parent-ish while Amitabh was very child like. This made him think how would it be if Abhishek plays Amitabh's dad. This is where my friends, like it happens not too rarely, an interesting one line idea fails to shape into a full length feature film. If role reversal was the only thing, a decade back Balki could have casted Dimple as Twinkle's daughter or Esha Deol as Hemamalini's mom.

*** SPOILERS ALERT ***
Any film that has Jaya Bachchan acting all Guddi-ish, reading credits with fake sweetness is a huge turn off. But I told myself not to get too influenced by this little gimmick. The next scene where the MP Amol (Abhishek) arrives at a school to judge the Vision of India contest and delivers a rather nice speech to the kids and declares that the kid who designed the blank globe is the winner. Fine till here. Slowly, and surely, we are shown Auro (Amitabh, in an elaborate prosthetic extravaganza) coming to collect the prize. When a subdued background score or even silence would have been the ideal decision, all the kids start chanting "Auro Auro Auro" (Had his name been Rahul, I would have assumed I was in some SRK movie!)

Next we are shown Auro's house, where he lives with his single mother (Vidya Balan) and grandma (Arundhati Nag) This is perhaps the phase where I was almost jumping with joy, because truly when was the last time you had seen a typical middle class home in a mainstream Bollywood film? And a mainstream heroine wearing "nightie" to sleep?

And then the downward spiral starts. Vidya sees Amol giving the prize to Auro on TV and she goes into a flashback mode. Within one breezy song, Vidya (a medical student then) and Amol (an aspiring politician) bump into each other, exchange names, and as Woody Allen might have put it, body fluids as well. After the song, Vidya realizes that she is pregnant and Amol refuses to take any responsibility. Vidya moves out of his life and raises the kid all by herself.

After this starts a very predictable ride where Auro and Amol's paths cross and they develop a bonding. Auro's health fails, which leads to a rather elaborate and cliched climax.

Instead of going scene by scene, I will just tell what worked for me and what did not.

What worked:

  • Arundhati Nag. What an actress, really! Her styling, accent, expressions - flawless. (See the scene where she comes to hospital with a blue plastic basket - priceless!)
  • Vidya Balan is good in a well written role and her scenes with Arundhati Nag are perhaps the best in the movie. They might have actually called the film "Maa", but hey who are the producers anyway?
  • Paresh Rawal is entertaining after a long time. The scene where he asks Abhishek "Are you gay?", nobody could have bettered that scene.
  • Ilayaraja's music has a refreshing sound to it, very enjoyable.

What did not work:
  • Abhishek Bachchan. What in Muruga's name was that? Just styling in whites, a la Murli Deora and Sachin Pilot, is not the be all and end all of a performance. And why oh why is that funny accent. I am sure Katrina Kaif has a serious challenger. See him pronounce "Avo" (for Auro) and "Khoo" (for cool)
  • The writing is also the culprit when it comes to Amol's character. A caricature of an ideal politician, even a fifth grader would find immature, who swings between two mental states - "Shit, this is the problem with this country" and "I am going to remove all the evils from this country". Just to give an example of bad writing, when Amol discovers that Auro is seriously ill, he comes to the hospital, sees Vidya there, realizes that Auro is actually his son. And if the news got out, media would finish his career and he would not be able to solve all the social evils in the country. Imagine the enormity of the situation and the mental turmoil a person would be going through. Right after this, he meets Paresh Rawal and lamely delivers the line in a very happy tone "I have a son" - his expression as if Priyanka Chopra has promised him to be her flat mate without even having to pay the rent.
  • Why the hell does Abhishek speak so much English, that too for someone who is a politician? Even Sonia Gandhi has learnt Hindi.
  • Auro's character, I would say is mediocre in terms of writing. We are not shown the anguish that a differently looking kid faces in school (but everyone chants "Auro Auro Auro" here), or the kid of a single parent facing the identity crisis, what he feels to know that he is gonna die. All we are shown is a kid who is almost Buddha-like, very cool, unperturbed. And to make it sound cute, he is made to talk lot of English, like telling "Round round round" for "Saath Phere".
  • A kid on deathbed trying to hook up an estranged couple is way way too cheesy for me. Does not work. At all. I expected the film to get me moist eyed towards the end, but there I was sitting totally disconnected - which I would call the biggest failure of the film. (I am not the "never moved" person. For example Munnabhai apologizing to Circuit in Lage Raho Munnabhai still brings a lump to my throat)
  • Is it a huge effort to sit for 4 hours for your prosthetic make up? Yes. Is Amitabh almost unrecognizable? Yes. His baritone voice never comes in? Yes. Does it mean it automatically qualifies for great acting? Nope, not really. Everyone is hailing Amitabh as if this is his best performance. I would not count this even in his top 10 performances. In an urge to praise the effort, everyone is overlooking the outcome, which is nothing great as such.

In fact, progeria is not at all a major element in this story. This would have worked better with an actual 12 year old kid with some fatal disease and what the dying kid, the single mother and the estranged-now-returned father would go through. It would have made a compelling drama. But then, we do not have a great reputation in making movie with kids, do we?

One of Raja Sen's twitposts reminded me of this gem from a Woody Allen's standup:
Years ago, my mother gave me a bullet...a bullet, and I put it in my breast pocket. Two years after that, I was walking down the street, when a berserk evangelist heaved a Gideon bible out a hotel room window, hitting me in the chest. Bible would have gone through my heart if it wasn't for the bullet.

  • There are two reasons why this movie might run away with the worst movie of the year - one, obviously its horrendous and two, its terribly long.
  • During all the Hurman - Priyanka interactions, I was initially shocked by the amount of screen time Hurman's face was getting. Soon I realized that its because the camera was always behind Priyanka's almost bare back.
  • I was half expecting Joe Pesci to pop up from somewhere and yell - "Wanna know my raashee? I dont know, you should #&*$ing know. Tell me smart guy, whats your raashee? Whats your #&*$ing raashee? What the #&*$ is your #&*$ing raashee?" or something on those lines.
  • The greatest achievement is this movie proved that Bollywood can come up with 12 different names for a girl - yes, who was that idiot who said there are no names other than Pooja, Sanjana, Tina, Simran and Anjali.
  • 2-5-1-6-3-4 <-- Tarantino
        1-11-3-7-4-5-8-6-12-2-9-10 <-- Gowarikar
  • You must be thinking I am crazy to watch this movie. In full. Yes, I am! :)

Google Wave Down

Everyone in the world wants a Google Wave invite. 9 out of 10 have no clue why they want Wave in the first place (I am the eighth one in that ;) )
Its just the hype of limited invites that did the trick I guess - kind of online Macguffin.

Half an hour into using Wave, I feel that its like enhanced Google Docs with chat, having iGoogle interface. Not at all sure how its gonna be useful to me. The reason why I actually wrote this is not to "review" Wave, but to share something interesting. Like all beta products from Google, here is a nice error page. I could not find this image anywhere on the net, so I can proclaim like the 24/7 news channels - you saw this first here! :)


Finally!

Late December 2007, one saturday evening.
Post-kanyaaveekshane talking round.
"I heard that you blog", was the very first thing she told me.
"Yes, how did you know?" (Have I become so big in blogosphere? - I had wondered)
"Uncle told me."
"Oh, is it?" (Half blushing and half expecting to hear that I have a great sense of humor :D)
Nothing so filmy happened. But then we started talking about blogs, we figured out that half of the blogs that I follow are her offline friends. So much for the global village and the spherical world.

After that I asked, "What are your hobbies?"
"Reading and writing" (What! Writing??? Not blogging, but writing! That sounded like an actual writer, and not like someone who woke up one day in 2005 and started blogging - aka me)
"Hmm, you have a blog?"
"No" (Another analogy I can think of is - photographers vs Digicam-owners :) )
If my memory serves me right, I had suggested to her that she should open a blog.

Exactly 9 days after that, we were "engaged" and for the first time, I happened to read one of her write-ups. I had told her again that she should open a blog.

"Engaged" became "Married" and I went on relentlessly pestering (she can vouch for how annoying I can get when I am at my tenacious best!) Finally she has hopped on to the blogosphere. I hope she finds time to write often. Ladies and Gentlemen, may we have...okay I will cut down the drama...here is the link to her blog:
http://diyaseetharam.blogspot.com/

Now I should somehow get my dad to start blogging! This one is not so easy, I tell ya!

How many singers/musicians who are 1 album and 1 movie old can you think of who not only deserve an evening in Dasara, but also can make the audience go crazy with their music?
Now that I am struggling to come out with a second name, I am telling you the first name - Raghu Dixit!

I love Raghu Dixit's music. I have listened to his music before his "Psycho" became such a smash hit. Much before he was spotted by Vishal-Shekhar. Much much before he was on Orkut, Facebook or Twitter. More than 3 years back, Setty had send me the link of a song. I was simply mesmerized by the music. The musician was Raghu Dixit and the song was "Gudugudiya". I had played it a few hundred times in the next few days.

I remembered all these things as I was getting ready to go to the Yuva Dasara concert. I was just hoping the rain Gods would skip being spoilsport, to which they eventually obliged. Even at 5.30 PM, there was a sizable crowd, indicating that by the time the concert starts, there would be no space left. Raghu seemed to be in the final stages of rehearsing. After that, till 9.00 PM, there was one activity after another of college students performing dance, fashion show etc. Any other day, I would have just left the place. But, today was different. I wanted to attend this concert from so many days. Catching it on television would be such a poor substitute.

By 9.00, Raghu and his band arrived on stage in their customary ethnic wear. I could feel the audience warming up even as Raghu was doing his "Mike...testing...1...2...3...". "Mysore...hegideera? Channagideera?", Raghu started without any pretense. The crowd roared. "I am getting the chance to perform in front of my home crowd after so many years". Here was a superbly original singer, amazing composer, but above all an extraordinary performer.

He started off with the "Ee Tanuvu Ninnade", a brilliant rocking composition - a much much better number than the hugely successful "Ninna Poojege Bande". The audience cheered loudly as he finished this song. The police till then were stopping the people from getting off their chairs. Raghu's next act completely spoiled their plans. "You know, how Raghu Dixit's concert should be...people should be standing...nan makla edd ninthkolro..." You had to hear the sound then! Chairs were piled on chairs and people stood on them...and hardly few people were still on the ground. The next song was "Hey Bhagwan", a very beautiful number with great violin in it.

After this song, he asked, "Where are the Yuvaraja College boys?" After getting a "ho" response from some section in the crowd, he said "Gottaglilvenro, I am your senior". Then came "Mysoor Se Aayi", a nice folksy song. After the song, he turned towards the girls and asked "Where are the Maharani College girls?" Everyone burst into laughter. He followed it up with the mystic Sufi Poet Shishunala Sharif's "Gudugudiya Sedi Nodo". He gave a brief explanation of the song, perhaps used to giving it outside Karnataka. What a song from the poet, I am sure Sharif must have been on a high when he wrote that. And Raghu's composition and singing does complete justice to this beauty of a poem!

The next Shishunala Sharif song was sung with audience also singing along with him. By this time, the audience were chanting "Psycho...psycho...psycho". For people who are living in another planet, the extremely popular song "Ninna Poojege Bande..." is from the movie "Psycho". Raghu showed his honesty when he said that he is bored of singing this song. I am sure he would agree that this song, for all its catchy-ness, pales in comparison to his other underrated songs. I sincerely felt that this was the only time where he lacked the intensity and the joy.

When people yelled "once more", Raghu was quick to say "bitti show li ashte", but still sung "Kodagana KoLi Nungitta" which I was listening for the first time from him. Thought it was kind of nice, I'd still prefer the C Ashwath's version more. Finally he said "You guys dont want to go home. But I have to, mom would have cooked hot food...I am hungry". Before he could let the hunger distract, he aptly ended the show with "Ee Tanuvu Ninnade". And thanked the crowd and asked them to visit his website and add him on orkut and Facebook. Surprised he missed twitter!

I am sure thousands in Mysore tonight would have slept late. But, all of them would have a smile on their faces by the time they hit the bed. I can easily say that this would rank among the best concerts I have witnessed.

Thanks Raghu, we will wait for the next Dasara!

Tweet Tweet

Ever thought of making some smartass comment and then you realized that there is no one near you at the moment to share?
Ever wondered if sending a (what you thought was) great SMS would really be welcomed by the people in your recipient list?

This, my friends, I think is the biggest thing that drives humans in this generation. The necessity to be heard, recognized, their presence acknowledged has driven us to many online inventions of the last decade. You may call it cultural interaction, knowledge sharing, creative collaboration or whatever fancy names the IIM types can come up with. But, deep down, its just this human instinct.

I know I know, twitter has been there from a long time. I have decided to become a better-late-than-never adopter.
You can follow my tweets here:
http://twitter.com/vasukir

Those of you who decide not to use twitter, the widget on the right column below "About Me" would ensure that you wont miss the fun.


Puranic Tales

I dont know when I developed this fascination, but it has stayed with me from quite a few months. I keep reading online about Indian mythology. I am seeing the old stories I had heard from my grandmom in new perspectives.

To me, the mythology is not a collection of moral stories. My sense of morality is based entirely on my thinking, so to read it just from moralistic perspective would be boring. The good thing about Indian mythological stories is that they dont picture even divine beings as perfect or without weaknesses. Even Gods have anger, jealousy, lust, insecurity - which somehow appeals to me very much. In a strange way, it makes these stories all the more human and relatable. The trick to enjoy is not to fall into the trap of categorizing everything into two big boxes of "good" and "bad". Between black and white, there exists a wide sea of blissful gray.

My imagination runs wild when I think of so many possible stories we can make up. Here is one imaginary scenario I find very amusing.
Karna, Shani, Bhima and Hanumantha are at a table having lunch in some divine restaurant. Some people in the next table were overheard talking about them.
"I have never seen these guys here before. Are they friends or what?"
"No, they are kind of brothers"
"Come on, you are kidding right?"
"No, I am serious. Let me explain. Shani is the son of Chhaya and Surya. Karna is born to Surya and Kunti. Bhima is born to Kunti and Vaayu. Hanumantha is born to Vaayu and Anjana. Beat that!".
The uncles' joke from the eighties ridiculing the west - "My children and your children are playing with our children" - does not seem too original after all.

Here is another one.
Vishnu has a son called Narakasura from Bhudevi.
Krishna was a avatar of Vishnu, kills Narakasura, who in a way happens to be his son.
Rama was another avatar of Vishnu, who married Sita, the daughter of Bhudevi.
Can it get more complex than that?

The popular story of Ahalya goes like this -
Indra tricks Ahalya by visiting her in the form of Gauthama, and makes love to her. It looks too unreal that the wife of a great sage, herself with divine powers, could fall for this ridiculously simplistic trap. Assuming it was true, Gauthama could not have cursed her if she had no knowledge of this trickery.
Here is what I heard from my dad, happens to be the original version of the story. Though it would not be acceptable to the moralists, I find this story strangely touching.
Ahalya was married to the sage Gauthama. Gauthama was so enchanted by the apsaras, that he started performing severe penances in order to please Gods. So Ahalya had this thought that if Gauthama is longing for apsaras and these apsaras were pleased by Indra, how great Indra could be. On knowing this, Indra visited the hermitage and made love to her. On knowing this, Gauthama curses her and Indra.

I hope to read more on Greek mythology too. It would give enough fodder to come up with ideas like what might have happened if Achilles had fought in the Kurukshetra war!



There has been silence on this blog for too long. So I am posting a favorite song of mine. I personally love songs that narrate a short story, may be that is the reason why country songs and bhaavageethe appeal to me. Joshua Kadison's singing perfectly complements the lovely lyrics. Priceless!

Gaadi Slogans

Uncle Duty ge
Aunty Matinee ge

This is perhaps the first slogan I remember reading on the backside of an auto when I was young. I dont know why a married woman going to a movie in the afternoon, when her husband was at work seemed funny to my young mind, but it did. Now that I think of it, may be it was the unusual combination of "duty" and "matinee".

From then on, auto drivers have been a huge source of intrigue for me. The way they decorate their autos, their mannerisms, their failed love stories and the subsequent loss of faith in love, growing respect for parents after the failed love, the devotion towards their movie idols etc. To me, they are much more than people who often ask "10 rupees extra".

So, what was just a healthy curiosity has now turned into quite an ugly obsession. Clicking the photo of any nice slogan I come across on the road. If you see any guy in Bangalore weirdly driving his car, at the same time precariously balancing the mobile on the steering, you guessed it right, its me!

I do not want to clutter this blog, so I have opened a new blog. Its rather unimaginatively titled "Gaadi Slogans", for lack of available options, time and grey matter.
You can visit the blog here.
http://gaadi-slogans.blogspot.com/

It will be business as usual in this blog. As you might have observed, the recession has affected the post frequency as well. Hopefully will be back in action soon.


One of the items I terribly enjoy on radio is "Life In Bengalooru With Rajni Sir" on Radio One. I "simbly" love it, as Rajni says. My guess is that its RJ Prithvi, but I am not too sure.

I have been meaning to do my take on it from a long time but it took this long for the idea to become a post.
I am personally not too happy with the outcome, but then I had a whale of a time recording and re-recording this stuff. Here it is...wachchaww!!!









Please drop a comment if you liked it.

Elections 09

You know the most breaking news and the first headline item in every news channel on the counting day?
The "exclusive" predictions from the exit polls of their channel turned out to be true. Every goddamn channel had this news, errr story. Now, are people really interested in other news items?

******

Whats the difference between CPI-CPM before the elections and after the elections?
Before they were "Left", now they are left way behind!

******

Even when the trends were coming up, every party was putting up a brave face and telling that these were just trends and things will definitely change when the actual results are out. So confident are all these parties that if some party which had contested in less than 100 seats across the country made a statement that they are sure to form a government on their own, I would have been least surprised.

******

During the half way of counting, Rajdeep Sardesai asked a BJP spokesperson if they are willing to concede defeat at the strategic timeout in the Indian Political League (IPL). Both talked metaphorically for what seemed like hours. The spokesperson said that the result can swing in a couple of overs just like in T20. Yeah, if only they did not opt to play like "Knight Riders"! One sad thing about BJP not winning elections is that I am gonna miss Mr. Venkaiah Naidu and his Andhra english which goes something like "The paarty has faarmed the paalicy..."

******

I unconditionally hate all the parties which form Third Front, Fourth Front, nth Front etc. More for their creative bankruptcy than their ideologies(or lack of it) Cant they come up with some other meaningless names like Allied Secular Front, Indian Socialist Alliance, Democratic Communist Alliance?

******

I think "Singh is King" is the most overused slogan of this decade. Cant the brain dead journos come up with something else? Like this:
Yuvraj(Rahul Gandhi) Singh(Manmohan) storms IPL (Indian Political League)

Just Wondering...

I am just wondering if the buildings where the terrorist organizations are located have the checkpoints, metal detectors/bomb detectors and such stuff at the exit gate of the building...

Gulaal Music

The music of "Gulaal" is one of the best that has come out of Bollywood off late. I dont remember an album in the recent history in which I had loved all the songs so intensely. Each and every song is a gem! If only the movie was as good as the music...

The sad thing is, I will be least surprised if I dont hear the names Piyush Mishra, Rekha Bharadwaj or Rahul Ram in this year's award functions in music or lyrics category. That is how Bollywood is supposed to be, right?

You can listen to the songs here:
http://mp3hungama.com/music/index.php?action=album&id=4209

I am so bowled over by this album, I can go on and make a statement that if downloading mp3s were illegal in India, I would have run to the nearest music store and bought this album. Now, I will get back to listening the songs that are running in repeat mode.
Ranaji mhaare...

Read this hilarious news in, where else, but TOI today:
"Naomi Campbell looked stunning in Vikram Phadnis' saree"

Vikram Phadnis' saree? I am grinning ear to ear whenever I think of that line!

*****

Q: "How does a south Indian bomb insult a north Indian bomb?"
A: By calling it a "bum" :)

Delhi 6

Now, let me tell you a story. During 1929, people were affected by "Depression". Or "The Great Depression" as it was called. Thousands died because of it. People across sections were affected. No one knew what the "Depression" was then. There were no CNBC, no economic blogs. Depression from the markets had entered into people's lives. One fine day, there was a cool dude walking on the roads wearing a black T-shirt with the words "DEPRESSION". All the people caught hold of him and started beating the hell out of him. They cursed him, that because of him the world economy was in danger. With just an ounce of life left, the cool dude started explaining people what "Depression" is. Depression is not a slogan on a T-shirt. There was so much depression in their lives, that they had stopped shopping, which was the only known catharsis for the modern man. This had created a huge imbalance in demand supply chain which in turn had caused depression in stock market. People understood what he was pontificating, they started living more happily, shopped like crazy, pumped in money to the market, and by the end of 1930, the world was out of "Depression".

Seriously, what did you think of the story? Was it brilliant? Did I remind you of Khalil Gibran?

Replace "Depression" with "Kaala Bandar", the "lack of enthusiasm to shopping" with "the evil thoughts in human mind", the cool dude in black T-shirt with Abhishek Bachchan in a fake accent, you get the essence of Delhi 6. Essence, not the story, mind you. You cannot get everything of Rakyesh Mehra's movies in one go. They have to be multi-layered, like Rishi Kapoor's chin.

So, Mehra must have thought something like this one saturday afternoon.

  • Arre yaar, I want to make a movie on Delhi. I want to show how people live there, the narrow lanes, the color, smell, taste of the city. Come on, the Bollywood fans are overdosed with Punjabis, they will love this.
  • How about having some abstract concept like "Mota Ulloo" or "Langda Haathi" or something...may be a "Kaala Bandar"? Its just symbolic okkay? (Yes, I can even use this "okkay" in the movie, will generate a few laughs) So, "Kaala Bandar" is something like "evil" inside all of us, that makes it a pretty intelligent movie. Like study of the dark human side or some such.
  • I am famous for drawing parallels. So, let me take Ram Leela and show how similar and contradictory it is to the contemporary India. Serial lighting in Ram Leela from which I draw parallels! Wow, sounds profound, sounds profound!
  • I dont want anyone to categorize my movie. My canvas is big, you know. So I will have many concepts - the NRI dilemma, corrupt police, hindu-muslim tensions, caste based discrimination, forced arranged marriages, jalebis (two kinds), young kids discovering smoke (oh yes, never before has anyone shown it in Indian cinema).

Ting. Mehra gets a forward on his Motorola.
A young boy enters a barber shop and the barber whispers to his Customer, "This is the dumbest kid in the world. Watch while I prove it to you."
The barber puts a dollar in one hand and two quarters in the other, then calls the boy over and asks, "Which do you want, son?"
The boy takes the quarters and leaves. "What did I tell you?" said the barber. "That kid never learns!"
Later, when the customer leaves, he sees the same young boy coming out of the ice cream store. "Hey, son! May I ask you a question? Why did you take the quarters instead of the dollar?"
The boy licked his cone and replied, "Because the day I take the dollar, the game's over!"

Hahaha. Mehra laughs his heart out on reading the 2005 joke. I want to have this in my movie, it sounds kewl (Hey, I liked the sound of it, will ask AB to have an accent like that)

This is how my friends movies like Delhi 6 are made. A complete fake take on the study of the darker human side, contemporary politics and multi layered narration. I badly miss the unapologetic junk of yesteryears. Karishma Kapoor with bushy eye brows. Govinda in his technocolor pants. Raveena Tandon wearing horrendous skirts. Shakti Kapoor and Kader Khan. We have not lost the crapness factor yet, but we have lost all that sincerity.

Comparison


Black Men. Big History. What a comparison!
Next what? Compare Karunanidhi with Stevie Wonder? :)

P.S: In a blog as old, surprisingly this is the first photo!

Notes on a couple of movies I happened to watch recently:

Ghajini

  • The first thoughts that came to my mind was - What an effort? And what a waste? No, I was not expecting 'Memento', but something saner at least.
  • My biggest grouse is that there was absolutely no effort to show the emotional turmoil of the hero, after losing his memory. The only thing was that the hero shouting, huffing and puffing whenever he sees his muscules and tattoos.
  • Who made the movie Ghajini? Director ne audience ko kya banaya? The same answer - "Murga Banaya"!
  • What do Aamir Khan and Minnisha Lamba have in common? So much effort to sculpt the body for such an abysmal movie!
  • I am surprised that nobody made this observation. Aamir has a short term memory loss (courtesy Memento) to make the proceedings interesting. But, but he also has a retrograde amnesia (a la old hindi movies - "woh apni puraani yaad dash kho chuka hai") So basically he has no memory - not the immediate past, not the past past. Interesting!
  • In the climax, when Aamir exceeds his 15 minute window while chasing the villain, he shows absolutely no sense of recognition, which to me is the single most brilliant moment in the movie. Ironically, the same scene made me sad about what Aamir could have achieved if he was asked to show the inner conflict more than the tattooed muscles.
  • Asin does the 'look-here-look-I-am-so-bubbly-cheerful' annoying Tamil heroine act to perfection. She should just settle for being on the gorgeous Tanishq posters instead!
  • Jiah Khan perfectly complements a badly written role. She should just stick to doing item songs shot from a distance.
  • Ghajini was perhaps the only popular hindi movie named after a villain, in which the villain is so lame.


Slumdog Millionaire
  • Who came up with this name? No, I am not talking about 'Slumdog'. Its about 'Millionaire'. Its a game show that is being played in India - for a prize money of 2 crore. Then why oh why is it called 'millionaire'? The current hindi version has a more meaningful name - 'Slumdog Crorepati'.
  • The best performance in the movie is from the kids - by a long long distance. All it needed was a Darsheel Safary and then a bunch of slum kids to show that there is nothing inherently wrong with Indian kids. Its the directors who make them annoying, irritating, unbearable while trying so hard to convince us that they are cute.
  • The movie is brilliant in parts, but definitely not Oscar material.
  • The slums are shot superbly, in a way they have never been done before, though I felt Danny Boyle missed no little opportunity to showcase the slums. Remember the first scene, where the policeman does not just scare the kids away by shooing them - he chases them in what seems like a mini tour of slums, when apparently he had no real intention of catching the kids.
  • Dont you think the accent that the slum kids develop in their adult life is a wee bit sophisticated even by an urban kid's standards?
  • Did anyone notice the 3 actors who played Jamal's brother and how similar they look? Really appreciated that attention to detail.
  • Though the stories within the story are more touching, the bigger story of a guy coming to television show to reach his love is so so far fetched, that it puts any Bollywood movie to shame. Karan Johar, Aditya Chopra beware - you have some serious threat here!
  • When there was a communal riot happening, what was that kid with the horrendous Ram make-up doing in a Muslim locality? The scene is so over-the-top, it could have been done so subtly, like showing a huge banner having Ram's photo or something like that.
  • Anil Kapoor simply hams it up, in what is one of the worst written roles in the movie. I was expecting every moment that Anil will jump out of his seat, don a hat and break into "Aye jee Oh jee Loji suno jee"! What a tragedy, that the Indian stars who are getting the international exposure now are Anil Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai.
  • Dev Patel is so wooden, he can give Bobby Deol a run for his money.
  • The background music was brilliant, though the unnecessary song towards the end credits (Jai Ho) was again Danny Boyle's obsession to do something 'Bollywoodish'.
  • This was by no means anywhere close to Rahman's other brilliant works (compare this with 'Dil Se'), but this is the best opportunity to hand him an award which his entire body of work thoroughly deserves. In that aspect, its more like a lifetime achievement award for him.

I have no clue when exactly I got introduced to cricket. I try hard to recall my first memory of cricket. It must be having a light cream colored plastic bat and a red plastic ball. I still have a photo of mine holding that plastic bat, head still in deep concentration, stance as balanced as you could get. I wonder how I had learnt about the stance - considering that there was no television those days. How did I know that I had to place the bat just behind my toes? How was it that when you hit a straight drive, the elbow stayed parallel to the bat?

Television ensured that an interest turned into obsession. My earliest cricket memories are not pleasant. I remember the way Graham Gooch used to sweep the Indian spinners as though he was cleaning the pitch off the minutest dirt; of Javed Miandad hitting a last ball six; a joke of a batsman otherwise known as Mr. Maninder Singh getting out in the last ball against Australia when India needed just a run for a tie. I presume those were the matches that made me a pessimistic viewer. I still remember my dad waking me up at 2.00 in the night to catch the world cup matches live and the times I would gobble up lunch within 10 minutes and have enough time to catch up at least 6 overs at a classmate's home nearby before the school bell rang again.

Television also ensured that we understood the nitty-gritties of the game. Along with other nonsensical things of course. Like rotating your arms as you walk into the ground, jog a bit as you walk to the crease, stop the bowler for no reason as he starts running to bowl, go a few steps towards the leg umpire to take some deep breaths, walk back and dig the ground a couple of times and take stance. And of course, applying saliva to the ball (which did nothing to the rubber ball we used to play with, but used to annoy the orthodox elders enough to give a lecture on enjlu) The hats were a major craze then, the type Gavaskar used to wear. Cooling glasses were unheard of and applying face creams came into fashion only after Alan Donald. Other big thing, of course, was chewing gum.

The resume of any self-obsessed cricket loving kid of my times would be incomplete without the chewing gum. Anyone remember "Big Fun"? It used to have "runs" inside the pack. Ravi Shastri - 1 run, Vengsarkar - 4 runs, the excitement as we opened the wrapper was unbelievable. All we had to do was collect 200 runs and 10 wickets, stick them in a Big Fun Book and hand it over to the shopkeeper, who would give us the Big Fun gifts like bat(?) and a trivia book in return. Wickets were hard to come by, and the conversion rate as expected was 20 runs for 1 wicket. I was so fond of my runs and wickets that I never submitted them, even though the Big Fun gift book was so tempting.

A bunch of equally fanatic cricket loving classmates helped a great deal. In spare time, we would discuss on how the fingers have to be rolled on the ball to bowl leg spin or off spin, how to hold the wrist position which would generate an inswinger or an outswinger. We had our own share of urban legends - one I can think of is, if you are a right hander and try bowling a lot using your left hand, you will "lose" the "power" in your right hand to bowl fast. That was the time when we pronounced "gloves" which would sound like "blouse". And for a long time we did not know that it was "hit wicket" and not "witwicket" :D

This was also the time we got to know about the statistics. That Kapil had 434 wickets, which was then overtaken by Hadlee. (Correction: That Hadlee had 431 wickets, which was overtaken by Kapil Dev) I was so obsessed with numbers, that I used to keep my statistics as well. It did not take me long to overtake both Kapil and Hadlee. We used to play during lunch breaks and just after school hours near a friend's home. On the exam days, it was cricket with small stones as ball and cardboard (used as support for the answer sheets) as bat. Missing the school to probably attend a wedding or such would mean a risk of classmates overtaking my records (Dont remember if anyone kept a track of their records, that I felt so threatened) I would make sure I gather some kids at the wedding, draw 3 lines of some wall, bowl them some unplayable balls made from paper and snatch a few wickets. The time I stopped counting, I had amassed over 4000 wickets.

Whenever we could not play near my friend's home, we used to play on the road in front of our home - which I now jokingly call the "domestic" cricket! If you have never played domestic cricket in your life, you would have missed a great deal of fun. There were players of all ages - kids who could never lift the bat, to middle aged persons. We used bricks as wickets. Not stacking the bricks, but just 3 bricks laid side by side. Whether you were bowled or not would depend on whether the ball passed over those bricks and at what heights. It was a gentleman's game and nobody took unfair advantage of invisible wickets. The biggest advantage of the brick wickets was that two wheelers could easily avoid by going either to the left or right of the bricks and the cars could pass with the left and right wheels on either side of the brick wickets. Later we started using electric pole as the wickets and a brick (or a stick balanced precariously between two bricks) formed the lone wicket at the bowler's end.

If you have to succeed in domestic cricket, its not just the bowling or batting skills that comes into picture, you need to be aware of the boundaries and limitations - like where the houses are situated, which glass panes are more vulnerable etc. If the ball fell into the bushes at the vacant sites or to the drainage next to the footpath, it was "1 run declared", even if it went past the boundary. If the ball went directly into the compound of any house, it was out! This was to discourage mindless hitting which was dangerous to the glass panes, in turn to the very existence of the game in that road. The compound did not belong to the umpire and it was considered not out. As you can see, the scoring options were limited - no pull shots, no cut shots, no sweep - just tuck and run, straight drives, cover drives. There was no six - a six was considered out, again to discourage mindless hitting. So you had to play well placed ground shots or well judged one bounce to the boundary fours to score maximum allowed runs.

The exposure to "domestic" cricket would help you appreciate why Indians are not complete cricketers. I can easily imagine the Bong uncle who might have never returned any ball that fell in his compound, which restricted Ganguly's God status to just the off side. A narrow lane in Chennai with a big open site on the on side must have made Robin Singh play every ball to the leg side.

My most prolific career was at my granny's place, where me, my brother and my cousin would play hours of cricket, even during my graduation days. We had an open space on the terrace which was about the size of a big room. And the rules were like this. If the ball is hit out on the first bounce, which means it goes down, the batsman is out. To make sure everyone gets a batting chance, it was "pitch catch out" (also called puta catch out in Kannada). This included ball hitting the wall and then catching directly also. Sometimes there would be as many as 5-6 fielders and some of them mighty good. Now, my cousin could bowl vicious legspin (I could never bowl legspin, so I settled being an offie) which would take the outside edge of the bat and go down, no matter how well you reached out to the ball and played with soft hands. So, I changed the tactic and started practising left handed. And learnt fierce cover drives and late cuts not to give any chance for a pitch catch. After playing like that for years, I lost the "power" in my right hand and now I cannot play right handed at all. I am now a left handed batsman - strong on the off side.

From the last few years though, playing domestic cricket has become a rarity. But, even now seeing young kids playing cricket on the road makes me immensely happy. I can see the glimpses of my childhood in them. Sometimes I take the bat from them, play a couple of flowing cover drives. I remember that line from Alejandro Inarritu's delightful "Amores Perros" - "We are also what we have lost"!

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