Saturday, December 16, 2006

Dhoom 2 - Review

Dhoom 2 boasts of a rich lineage. A predecessor in the form of Dhoom 1 which was very stylish and successful, a producer like Yashraj Films and Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai to boost its image at the box office. It sure has all the ingredients to be dished out as an out and out commercial potboiler. The biggest question that one would ask is - Does it live upto the expectations raised? The answer according to me is - Almost!

If you think that this Dhoom is all style and dare-devilry you are wrong. It has oodles of emotional quotient as well. The second half is not really a cop-thief chase saga but a love story.

As always let me list out the positives and the negatives of the film and then let you make the choice.


Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai: Hrithik Roshan towers over everyone else in the film. For the first 40 minutes of the film, he doesn't even have a single dialogue to his credit but even then its him all the way.
Thankfully he doesn't over act and carries the film forward almost single handedly.

Aishwarya Rai looks sexy throughout. She undergoes a complete transformation for this role. Her pairing with Hrithik looks good on screen.

Picturisation: Stylishly shot globally. Yes, you have scenes shot in Nigeria, Rio, India and Fiji. The opening scene is deftly handled. All the songs are shot beautifully. You can expect that with so many glamorous faces and sun tanned babes frolicking around on Copacabana beach, or rather Cocabanana as Uday Chopra calls it!

Good Production Value: The effort shows in every frame of the film. The producers have spent lavishly to package it as a complete entertainer and promoted it well too. Yashraj without doubt is India's best
production house.


Script: A feeling of rendezvous - There are more than a few occasions when you are reminded of Dhoom 1 which to an extent is okay but the scene where Abhishek and Hrithik sit and talk reminds of a similar scene from the earlier version where Abhishek and John talk. Also, its difficult to digest that the world's best thief falls for a stupid ploy by the Mumbai Police.

Music: Not as great as the first one. I don't know if I am biased but I have sort of begun to dislike Pritam's music now after getting to know that he copies almost all songs from somewhere or the other. Yes, I heard the original version of at least 15-20 of his most popular 'copied' songs.

Characterization and direction goof ups: I really couldn't find out what Bipasha was doing in the film. For the first 1 hour or so she is shown as the Indian Lara Croft and then for the rest of the film, her dumb twin sister from Brazil takes over. She is then given just one song and one bikini moment and then sidelined from the whole plot. Maybe it was done to allow Uday Chopra to get some screen space.

The way the diamond is robbed from the Museum looks too kiddish. How can one digest that a remote controlled robot comes and picks up the diamond and none of the security guards standing around see it.
Since this review comes quite late, all of you must already be aware of the box-office collections of this film. It has become a top grosser for 2006. So, as Aishwarya kisses Hrithik and Abhishek Bachchan and family simmer within(I think the whole story was just a publicity stunt!), Dhoom 2 sizzles!

Be What You Wanna Be!

Picture source: Picture

Have you ever heard this cry from your conscience? Has it ever occured to you that you were destined for something different from what you were presently doing? Well I can tell you for sure that its definitely not a sign of you suffering from the lymphosarcoma of the brain. So just relax!

I remember reading a poem once that said that when two roads diverged in the wood, I took the one less travelled by and that made all the difference. Everyone at some point or the other wants to make this choice. Discussing on whether he/she goes ahead and takes the next step on the untrodden path is something that would make this crap meaningful so let me rather recount a few of those rush-of-the-blood moments that most of you would relate to.

Moment 1: After having one pretty bad day at school, I decided on turning into a bus driver. I was always fascinated with the job and loved to see the way a driver handled the huge steering and sat on the majestic driver's seat towering over all others. I used to mock-drive all my way from the bus stand to my home. As I sat back reminiscing about all the bad memories of the day at school, the inner voice enlightened me - "Be what you wanna be!" I asked Mom if it could be befitting my family's social status. I could see the twinkle in her eyes, I felt that her eyes were actually living my dream and that she was happy that I had made a career choice at such an early age. She sounded inspirational too -

"Tujhe jo banNa hai ban, par itni badi bus chalne ke liye pehle thoda bada ho ja".

I never knew that it was her gameplan of making me postpone my decision. Sometime later while I was mock driving from the bus stand to home, I suddenly felt stupid about the whole thing. The idea of being a bus driver didn't seem all that fascinating and my first step towards that untrodden path was retracked.

Moment 2: India's semi final loss to SriLanka in the '96 world cup left me in rude shock. I seriously felt that the Indian cricket team needed my services. I could bowl off-spinners, keep wickets, bat at a strike rate greater than Sanjay Manjrekar's and my fitness was definitely better than Venkatpathy Raju's. The night was a really long one. My inner voice came calling again - "Be what you wanna be!" and the next day I was all ready to enrol myself in a cricket coaching institute not far from my place. Mom came back with the same old game plan. I was asked to wait until my final examinations got over and then I could go and do whatever I wanted to.

Just after the examinations, we packed off for a holiday in a hill station and by the time I came back, I was too exhausted to remain motivated for a silly game played through the day in the heat.

Moment 3: Bollywood has been a major influence in my life. But I was inspired by Manoj N Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense. After watching the film I wanted to turn into a writer and director. I read scores of english movie scripts to get a feel of how to go about the whole thing but never really got a 'different' story to tell. All this when I was in a make-or-break situation, staring at an F grade in one of the courses back at college. All my writing, acting and direction talents were put to severe test when I went to the Professor to ensure that I didn't end up spending a summer at the campus for a silly course. It was really a heart wrenching scene with tremendous emotional quotient and laced with typical dialogues. I was not all alone in that endeavour. Piyush held center stage then but I supported him well enough to escape with a surprising C in that course. To our surprise, the professor accepted our request to take another of his courses the very next semester! Anyways, the Be what you wanna be call died another meek death.

Moment 4: People generally don't attend morning classes because they are not able to wake up early in the morning (by morning I mean 9 AM!). I did not attend classes despite waking up as early as 8 daily. The reason - I still don't know. One of our professors expressed his concern over this habit of ours and warned us about all that was waiting for us in the outside world - the professional life basically.

After almost two years of working hard to keep working, my conscience again woke up from its slumber.

"Hey buddy! How come you wake up so early to go to the office and then spend the next 10 hours fixed to that chair in front of the computer day-in and day-out? Remember the free soul that you were at college? Break lose, be what you wanna be!"

I went to Dad straightaway, told him that I will not be able to continue working in a 9-6 job. But damn me! My parents have followed the same old game plan over the years and I still fall for it.

Me: Dad I want to quit working. I was thinking of actually..

Dad: Yes, everyone should think once in a while! If you want to quit working and do something on your own, then go ahead but don't you think a management degree or something can help you?

Me: I think so.

Management school? That would have required a re-assessment of everything. The whole procedure of applying and stuff took one year and my past records proved without doubt that I might later retract and go about the tried and tested ways of life by sticking around with the same routine job. I know that this is not just my story. While I continue to go through that phase, from what I perceive of several of my friends, they too are in the same mode.

I know that I must have wasted a few chances that I should have taken but despite all my failings in putting the next foot forward, I somehow still see hope. I feel that a lifetime is long enough for you to make mistakes and then correct them. As for anyone asking - What if you died early? Just shoot back with a I'll live long enough dude!

The Road Not Taken - Robert Frost

Monday, December 04, 2006

Of Roller Coaster Rides and Braving the Tides

I am not one of the adventure sports kind. Though I have tried my hands at jet skiing, white water rafting and some thrilling roller coaster rides but all that was just because I did not want to be the odd one out in my group. I know that I speak not just for myself but a lot of others who too find themselves in this predicament where they are left with making the choice of going all topsy turvy in insane rides or falling prey to the barrage of embarassing censure from everyone around. 'Non-confrontational' as I am, I generally go for the first option.

Jet Ski ride at H2O - half throttle, not a big deal!

6 of us went for a speed boat ride but then saw this water scooter.

"It skims at 90 kmph, wanna give it a try boys?" asked the intelligent businessman who saw us as subjects who could help him make some quick money out of a 5 minute ride.
"We are actually looking for the speed boat ride as most of us don't know swimming" came our consensus reply.

"C'mon now! watch those chicks there, they would love to see you all take this ride" the businessman's pursuit continued.
"No, thanks!" we spoke in unison.
"I'll go for it",Nikhil - The traitor revolted.

This put the rest of us in a fix. The point was that if we allowed Nikhil to go back as the only one who dared, we would have been labeled the losers for life so we had to do it. 25 minutes and 1080 rupees later, we all walked with a swagger that could put Arnold to shame.

The Roller Coaster ride in Orlando- Turned upside down with your feet dangling in air cannot exactly be called scary, can it?

I had already refused going for one of the roller coaster rides the other day complaining of headache and stuff. The truth was untold but understood and therefore not discussed. I couldn't sleep the whole night thinking about it.

"Man, I feared a silly 3 minute roller coaster ride as if it was life threatening. Give me another chance and I will make up for it", I said to God.

Although I don't remember any other wish of mine coming true at such a short notice, God decided to make an exception this time around. A more convulated and soaring roller coaster ride greeted us. I had no excuses. I had too much in my mind when I went for it and when I realised that I had forgotten to keep my cell phone and cap away, it was too late. I was suspended at 45 degree angle at a height where cars looked like ants and I could literally see Angels peeping from the skies. I didn't know what to take care of - my cap, my phone or my fake smile! Yes, smile! They had installed cameras at points where the roller coaster took a plunge towards ground and they clicked pictures of people in at least 4-5 different poses. You had to give that fake smile even if you were half as happy with the roller coaster diving down and you trying to not let go of that cell phone. 3 minutes and at least 5 instances of fake smiles later, I was separated from my beloved cap but regained my pride!

A Walk in the Sea at Puri - Walk? A sea is for you to swim!

I did not know swimming and without my specs I feel lost. I can't even make out whether the person standing 10 feet away from me is a boy or a girl without my glasses! But again when I saw the rest of the guys taking to water and having all the fun, I too had to. Stripping to the socially prescribed minimum clothing norm acceptable to the moral police, I made the plunge. Since I did not know swimming, I kept walking..and walking and walking until I reached a point where just my head was popping out of water. The water appeared calm and I began to enjoy quite oblivious to the fact that the Moon up there had decided to play little games with me. I simply forgot that this damn moon keeps pulling the water from the sea towards itself every now and then which we commonly term as 'tides'. I suddenly felt a gush of water over my head and then my feet being swept off the ground.

I didn't even try to give myself another chance to survive and when fate saw how big a loser I was who didn't even put up any fight to survive, it dumped me back to the ground. I again felt the sand at my feet. The mission was accomplished. I too had braved the tides, though not deliberately. With an excess of 500g/l concentration of salt solution inside my body and 15 seconds of uncertainty about my survival later, I was one amongst those making fun of one of the guys who never dared to get close to a sea beach!

Next on the list - someone pointing a gun at me and pushing me from a clifftop for a bungee jump which I would later claim to be done at will and sky diving when someone fools me into believing that the plane engine has developed some snag and the only option is to jump. I would later call that dive a childhood dream that finally came true and would go about proclaiming that I was born to live dangerously and that adventure brought out the best in me!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Domestic Violence Redefined

If you were wary of marriage, there is more reason to be. The very pro-women Government of India which doesn't even rake up the issues like Women's reservation bill to empower women by blaming it on lack of consensus amongst political parties is now ready to dish out the domestic violence bill. If you are a Raj Kapoor type man with an Anari bent of mind who is about to be married, has been divorced or has been in any sort of relation even a decade back with a ruthless woman, you are in for tough times ahead bro!

The new law has come into force from the 26th of October. Last night I saw this interview in which a very wary Karan Thapar, playing an advocate, pleaded the case of men (or the Devils in the eyes of our Minister Mrs Renuka Chaudhary). Read the whole transcript at:

Here are a few excerpts from the whole interview:

Karan Thapar:But what your Act has done is to take trivial issues - that could happen quite innocently, inadvertently and turn them into offences and crimes.

Renuka Chowdhury: I don’t agree with you. We are saying, we are facilitating and setting up a legal framework where by we expect to…

Karan Thapar:A very bad legal framework, insufficient legal framework and an imprecise one.
Renuka Chowdhury: Please listen to me. Can I be allowed to talk or otherwise this is deemed as domestic violence, this is professional violence.

Karan Thapar: That’s the danger; you are proving my point.

Renuka Chowdhury:Absolutely.

Karan Thapar:A mere interruption becomes domestic violence.

It doesn't end there..

Karan Thapar: The Centre for Social Research with regard to the anti-dowry law did a study after the Supreme Court judgment came out in August of 2005 and it concluded that of every 100 cases brought under the anti-dowry law, 98 per cent were false. Only two were correct. It’s not a minute percentage; the level of abuse that this could incur is phenomenally high.

Renuka Chowdhury:It’s okay.

Karan Thapar: It’s okay? It’s acceptable?

..and won't you like to hear what the Minister opines about 50% of surviving population in India?

Renuka Chowdhury: There is always need for corrections and amendments in any law as we progress as a society develops and the needs arise. But for one hypothetically - before I reach the bridge and cross it - if you want me to make amendments, I won’t.

Karan Thapar: In other words, let men suffer first, then I will correct the wrong I have done.

Renuka Chowdhury: It is not such a bad idea, except that I have such pity for men.

All said and done, the point is how this bill is going to empower women when most of the clauses stated in the law obviously seem redundant and already taken care of in the constitution. Till sanctity prevails upon these 'hungry for attention' politicians, try not to upset your girl friends and wives by speaking anything silly.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dhoom 2: Preview

The losers are back. They lost to the suave robber John Abraham last time and now they would be losing to Hrithik who by strange coincidence is another loser averaging 5 flops per hit film. But then this is not real life so it really doesn't matter.

After John jumps to death in Dhoom 1 and Esha Deol once again has weight problems, producer Aditya Chopra decides to replace these two with Hrithik and Bipasha. The business acumen of Adi Chopra came to the fore while making this decision. All the training that Hrithik underwent for the supposed sci-fi Krrish (if you didn't know, the film was earlier titled Krishi Darshan but Doordarshan did not part with this name) came to good use in Dhoom 2 and that too at the cost of Hrithik's dad. Bipasha it is rumored gets to play the unborn child of John Abraham from Dhoom 1 who grows up to become a sizzling bombshell in just two years following some biological tests conducted on her by some scientists. Based on this angle in the film, Bipasha, in her pre-release interviews claims to have worked in the second authentic sci-fi in hindi film Industry after Krrish.

The story is set in Mumbai. Jai(Abhishek Bachchan) and Ali(I forget that guy's name..some Kapoor, wait or was it Sharma?) have spent all the loot money that they could manage to stash in their bags after John died in the first part. They are on the look out for more money but being a police constable and a motor mechanic doesn't help. Yes, Abhishek plays a police constable but since he never wears the uniform in the first part, you tend to overlook this fact. He feels that palying a constable would put Big B to shame. Having played an inspector all his life, he would not accept his son go any lower in the wrung. It is here that Hrithik makes an entry carrying a mandolin in his hand and singing in the Swiss Alps. Mind you, this is a Yash Chopra production so this has to be expected. By the time the song ends, you get to know the real intentions of this villain. As all the police force of Switzerland is busy taking care of the people who come in to watch Hrithik shake his legs, his accomplice in crime Aishwarya goes about robbing people on the highway. Who wouldn't fall for those green eyes?

They decide to shift to India after getting to know that Kabir(John Abraham) has passed away to fill in his shoes. Jai readies himself for yet another hot number with Rimi Sen but Aishwarya plays a spoilsport. She allows him to show screen chemistry with his on screen wife only if he allows her to shake her booty with Hrithik in another hot number that goes something like this - "Don't touch me, don't touch me". Abhishek decides against the song but Aishwarya secretly goes shooting for her song with Hrithik in Brazil. Meanwhile Ali(I think he was Uday Bhanu) cries for attention. Bipasha had no scenes uptil now so she is paired with him. Bipasha realises that she obviously has to go out of her way to stand out. So she gets into a bikini and runs around carrying a surfing plank. Ali(Prem Chopra...) too gets his moment to fame as he is asked to lip sync a number - "Itsy bitsy tiny winy..yellow polka dotted bikini" which doesn't suit his beefy build.

With interval fast approaching, the director decides on doing some chase scenes. Since Dhoom 1 had already shown the bike chases, here they chase in all other remaining modes of transport available on planet Earth. So you have Jai and Ali(Udit Narayan?) chase Hrithik in a plane, a train, a car and an auto but to no avail. He somehow manages to escape just at the nick of time. The superman powers of Krrish help him in his escapes. Aishwarya meanwhile giggles and remains busy applying anti wrinkle creams to do justice to her first scant-clothed babe kinda look.

As the end approaches, Jai and Ali(Usmaan..Khan..) again find themselves at the same place where it all began. They are on their Suzuki Hayabusa bikes and Hrithik stands at the edge of a cliff with a sleek looking Aishwarya in his arms.

Jai(Junior B): Chhod de usse, wo teri bhabhi hai.
Hrithik: Ye sahi hai, poori film mein ghumaaun main aur climax mein baazi tu maar le jaaye?

Jai: Usse wapas kar de aur khud ko kanoon ke hawale kar de. Kya pata tujhe Dhoom 3 mein fir se mauka mil jaaye.
Hrithik: Dhoom 3 mein SRK ko le liya hai. Ab main Aish ko nahi chhodunga.

Jai: Aish tum bhi to kuch bolo
Aish: Kya bolun? Dhoom 3 mein mujhe chance mila bhi to tab tak meri umar badi behen ya bhabhi ke role karne ki ho jayegi. Mera mar jaana hi accha hai.

Ali(He was the brother of Aditya Chopra..Uday Chopra!!): Bhaiya, apni film mein saare dialogues ye log bolenge to main kya karunga?
Aditya Chopra(thinking): I will have to make him dumb in the next part.
Bipasha: Hey, you cheats. I had heard that in a Yash Chopra production , you get to wear Chiffon sarees and get a paid Swiss trip. You all got me sun tanned on Rio beaches and then gave me bikinis instead of the sarees.

Amidst all this confusion, Hrithik whispers in Aishwarya's ears - "The game's not over yet!" And then they jump from the cliff in a dancing pose picked straight from some Shiamak Davar performance.

The last shot of the film is a masterstroke. After these guys return back on confirmation that Hrithik and Aishwarya's game was indeed over in Dhoom 2, the camera zooms to some distant planet where SRK sits on a throne that reads - "Call me King!" He looks into the eyes of the camera and beams - "The chase begins now".

Speculations will be made on whether the third part of Dhoom will involve chase in space ships once people get to see this cliamx scene in Dhoom 2 . Aditya Chopra, it is heard has approached George Lucas of the Star Wars fame to direct the third part. Let's keep hoping till then.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Jaan-e-mann Tragedy

All the world's a stage and most of my acts are poor imitations of the comical antics of Govinda in his hey days(read Rajaji, Wah Tera Kya Kehna days) given the most strange situations I keep falling into.

I remember an episode from the TV series friends where Chandler tells Ross that he saw the face of his mother while he made love to his girl friend and then it ruined the fun for Ross. So whenever he was all set for the act, Chandler's words came to disturb him and then he couldn't help seeing his mother's face in the girl he was about to get naughty with. Well I am not referring to any symptom of Oedipus complex but something of the 'ruining of the fun' did happen with me last Saturday.

After all these years of remaining single, I never mind watching movies with college friends. But things have changed now. With a few setting their marriage dates, some getting committed for fun and some on a more serious note, the breed of singles like me has neared extinction. Articles discussing the pros and cons of being single and supposedly friendless (by friend the article essentially meant someone of the opposite sex with whom you won't mind cosying up on the couch) folks appearing in the newspaper started making me feel more insecure.

I decided to go out and watch a movie to escape the tension. I generally prefer hanging out with a gang, having a good lunch and then watching a movie but with just Ankush around in Delhi, I asked him to book the tickets. We decided to go for 'Don' despite it having got a total 'no-no' from most of my amateur film critic friends because two guys can only watch a thriller or an action film together, they don't have a choice. But we couldn't manage to get the tickets. The next best option was another new release - Jaan-e-mann. Little did we realise that the movie was going to be a self inflicted embarassment for both of us. The fun was first killed by the Chandler like act by an old aquaintaince who sprang up from no where only to speak the golden words and then disappear - "You going to watch a romantic film with another guy? What's wrong with you?"

All my enthusiasm of watching a hindi film in a theatre after almost 4 months vanished and I started looking for excuses for not going. Earlier watching a film with another guy never made me conscious, but the Chandler of my life started bugging me every moment now - "You going to watch a romantic film with another guy? What's wrong with you?"

The fifteen minute wait at the theatre lounge was one of the longest. The canoodling couple in the corner made me more aware of the wrong choice of film. There was a gang of 4 college going boys as well that made us feel relaxed as we were not the only two heterosexual guys who had erred in making a correct choice of film that day. But embarassment still awaited us. When the gates opened for entry, we were asked to make entry through another door as we had bought the tickets to the Premier lounge and not the general class.

Just as we entered the premier class, all heads turned as if in disgust. There were around 30 seats and 14 couples seated. All eyes seemed to ask the same question - "Hello! what are both of guys doing here in the unofficial love-lounge?"

Ankush put his arm around my shoulders to whisper - "Ye to love-bird park aa gaye, ab kya karein?"

"Pehle to haath hata kandhe se" - I told him as I shirked away but the damage was already done.

We made our way to the seats and stayed glued for the next 3 hours. Chandler appeared again wearing a halo over his head and this time he was not alone. I could see everyone seated around me accompanying him and pointing fingers at me while crying out aloud - "You watched a romantic film with another guy. There sure is something wrong with you."

Male bonding seems to have got another meaning these days. What do the singles do now?

"Go and watch Don, its just the people like YOU who have kept it running despite it being totally non-sense!" - a frustrated film critic reviewing box office collections bellows on a TV program.

Do we really have a choice, I wanted to ask.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hu Ha India..Aaya India!

The un-official song of the Indian cricket team is out and I must admit that it is a very catchy number. There was a time when I really wanted to take up cricket as a career after seeing India lose to Srilanka in the World Cup 96 semi final but better sense prevailed upon me when I failed miserably in our gully cricket competition soon after.

Cricket is a religion in India and every one has an opinion about how we play it. It is the passion for the game that makes our mood swing from being ecstatic when our team wins to being sarcastic when they bring all hopes come crashing down. The general public loves to treat them as Gods and then make them fall from grace in the most unceremonious manner when they fail. This is the biggest pressure that these guys have to cope with outside the playing field.

Just as the team prepares for the Champions' trophy, here's my opinion on these mortals whom we sometimes over-idolize. No prizes for guessing, I'll spew venom as their progress reports for the last couple of seasons show that Team India has hit a trough!

Sachin Tendulkar: By far the most prolific player in the history of Indian cricket and lucky too. Always gets injured just when his place in the team is in jeopardy. A leading model on the Indian ad-scene. Gets motivated and scores heavily when the bowler bowling to him is a non-entity. This way the unknown bowler comes into the limelight for getting the 'Tendulkar battering'. Once a God but now a human, Sachin must be eyeing Bangladesh, Kenya, Canada and Holland to complete his 50 one day centuries by 2007 World Cup.

Virendra Sehwag: A fact finding commission set up by the BCCI to study Sehwag's scoring patterns found that he scores on the day following every third full moon night. Indian think tank should now contemplate playing either on those days or just drop him so that he gets the free time to get hair weaving done. His modelling prospects would suffer if he goes completely bald. He follows the simple principle of 'Sar kata sakte hain lekin sar jhuka sakte nahi'. He either butchers the ball from the word go or simply gets out rather than let situations dictate terms to him.

Rahul Dravid: The official spokesperson of Greg Chappell. He either gets to speak whatever Chapell forgets to or simply repeats the same things sans the silly ramblings of Chappell(when he sometimes suffers from verbal diarrhoea). A calm and composed customer who is already an all time great as far as his batting goes. Loves to take his own sweet time to score runs and wants to handle captaincy the same way. Sometimes stuns the opposition and own team alike with his unpredictability, like, declaring the innings when a teammate is on 194 and all set to score the double hundred.

Yuvraj Singh: He seems satisfied being the prince and not the king! Hits long spells of purple patch and longer spells of lean ones. Loves a racy lifestyle, no doubt slow spinners spell the doom for him. Like every other young man in his early twenties when the rush of blood is tough to handle, he loves to score when he has got a point to prove, otherwise doesn't give it a damn.

Mohd Kaif: It is common knowledge that Kaif has requested formally to the ICC to revise scoring laws for him. He wants the scorecard to include the number of runs saved by him to his batting score so that his cricketing career is prolonged and his batting average stays over 25 runs per match. He has been one of the few unlucky ones in the team who don't have a stable modelling career owing to his average middle class looks.

Suresh Raina: He reached the pinnacle of success when Chappell applauded his zeal to learn, commitment to perform and his young age. Performances don't matter now. If the coach is happy, the captain has to be and that guarantees his place in the team for sometime to come. He now hopes for a couple of flash in the pan knocks to get some lucrative modelling assignments. But I wonder he will. There seems to be some regional bias at play to keep the U.P. lads at bay!

M.S.Dhoni: The butcher from Jharkhand doesn't need an introduction. He is everywhere - on TV, on hoardings, the dressing room and on the cricket field sometimes for a change. In 2005, he seemed like a man possessed. This year he seems to be busy reaping the harvests. Why bother about scoring runs, they'll come once he is done with getting the perfect hair style to suit his personality!

Irfan Pathan: Touted to be the next Kapil Dev of India. The Indian think tank likes to believe that he gives them an option of plenty. Sure he does, giving away plenty of runs and clocking a little over Anil Kumble on the speedometer. Venkatesh Prasad must be feeling relieved at not being just one of the kind. He enjoys the comforts of playing on the home soil and usually flourishes with the bat but when on tour he loves the tranquility of the dressing room instead. As a kind gesture, he doesn't even trouble the scorers there.

Ajit Agarkar: They called him an they like to keep mum. He accomplished his life's ambition of getting 2 world records in his name. One, for taking the fastest 50 wickets in one day cricket and two, for scoring the maximum consecutive ducks in tests. Now he rests in peace. Shows abnormal signs of resurgence by picking up a few wickets in between but returns to normalcy soon enough to keep his RPO(runs per over) over 5.

Zaheer Khan: Could have made it big in the modelling arena if he had been able to maintain his place in the team by remaining in Chappell's good books. He has performed quite well in county and other first class matches in India but still finds himself out of favor. He must understand that on field feats are not going to help as much as sucking up to the big boss. Hit the gym, sweat in front of his eyes and the master might grant you a chance.

Harbhajan Singh: "Chuk de phatte"! He has been through a lot. In fact most of the times he is seen fighting it out with situations rather than dominating the opposition. His best was when he made the Australians dance to his tunes by taking 32 wicktes in 3 tests. Ever since then his fans have to remain content watching the same old video of Bhajji Bhangra pao-ing after skittling out the Australians. He got the stick in the back when he tried letting his hair down for a liqor ad. A new controversy should keep him in the news if not his bowling for sure!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Around Florida in 1000 Dollars - Part III

Kraken and all done, we decided to try out some water rides and for that we needed to be in something other than jeans for sure. But the chances of getting things going the right way were almost equal to chances of survival in deep space(~0.0017% to be more precise! that's a figure I picked up watching a conspiracy theory on Landing on the Moon yesterday).

So this is what followed - we booked two lockers, locked our jeans in and put on the shorts. The lazy boys soon realised that the shorts were smelling awfully bad since they were not allowed to dry after our Miami beach trip. Abhishek and Mohit were the worst sufferers. So it was decided that the rest of us were going to shield them from twiching noses around. Abhinav, Ratul and I took to shielding Mohit and Faruk and Sushant took up the task of shielding Abhishek.

The ploy didn't work much. We could shield them but not the stench. Mohit looked for secluded places to avoid coming in contact with people who were in any case avoiding him while Abhishek did something more innovative.

A young kid standing next to Abhishek and desparately trying to survive the stench.
Abhishek(to the kid):
Do you know where this stench is coming from?
No, but its awful

Yeah, its killing me. Is that your Dad?
No way!

Then it must be the whale in the park. You know whales smell real bad.
Kid(thinking): Buddy is that whale in your pocket?? Because I sense it coming from there.

Thank God! the kid was not from India or else he sure must have thought that. This poor kid took to believing that whales do smell real bad!

It was now that things started getting worse. The 24' 10'' tall Sushant with his giant strides leapt across places while we struggled to keep pace. Then Faruk was lost clicking nude pictures of the Seals and Walruses, and Abhishek followed suit. The rest of us came back to the locker room and decided to take the Islands of Atlantis ride. Little did Mohit know that his sexy tricolored swimming trunks will look totally out of place there. He got into those and then we waited for Abhishek to join. But the next 5 minutes were hysterical. People started staring at the 'underpant' guy. It was almost as if he was a superman! Some felt that he was streaking while others thought that it was some theme park entertainment item. They cheered and Mohit got a bit conscious. He wanted to get into his jeans but lo..the keys were with Faruk and he was lost!

The underpant guy braved the public and went for the ride. Thankfully his trauma ended as soon as we got back from the ride and we managed the keys to the locker. But this was one part of the trip that I just can't forget(more so because I was not at the receiving end!)

Just sample these reactions when people saw him:
Old woman: Oooowaaaa....ooooo
Fat man: Ha ha ha ha..look at him
Small kid:Look mama, the man in the underpants!
A Namibian national: Man, he is wearing our national flag.

Just like every Manmohan Desai story, our film also had a happy ending. All of us found each other in Shamu's stadium for the last spectacle, Shamu - the Killer Whale Show. It was grand, as grand as the whale itself. Shamu made its entry amidst loud cheers from the crowd. It was awesome!

The last day was a total anticlimax. We were to spend an entire day again at Miami and the heavy rains just killed the fun. We stayed locked inside the hotel room throughout the day. Lets just keep it at that..but not before I mention the chicks walking to our hotel room at 3 in the night and greeting the sleepy Kallu with a '
Hello sweetheart'?

Par afsos us din hum sabka somwaar ka vrat tha :(

Let me just sign off with the last tiff between Abhishek and Sushant:

Abe kallu kaun thee?
Abhishek: Pata nahi kisi aur ko khoj rahi thee

Sushant: Bata na please
Bataya to

Nahi, kya keh rahi thee?
Abhishek: Kuch nahi, ab so ja

Sushant: Bata na yaar kya keh rahi thee?
Me: Pooch rahi thee ki hotel ke ek kamre mein 3 ladke kya kar rahe hain? Khud jaake pooch kyun nahi leta kya keh rahi thee?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Around Florida in 1000 Dollars - Part II

Orlando greeted us with blue skies, green grass and no hotel reservation. Official tour managers Faruk and Sushant took over with able support from our PR manager, Mohit 'Can we get a room over here' Juneja and we finally managed a fairly decent priced hotel.

The day was set for some exciting adventures and Universal didn't disappoint. You have to be there to feel it all. The rides were exhilarating - Hulk and Duelling dragons(roller coaster), Dr. Doom's Fearfall(free fall from 150 ft) and the others rocked. I didn't take the duelling dragon ride though because,

a.) I started feeling bored
b.) I already had one roller coaster ride and they felt all the same
c.) We had to cover the Universal studios as well,

I could go on with those excuses. The truth is that I simply felt uneasy taking that ride with my feet dangling in the air. Turned upside down with no base to keep your feet onto gave me jitters.

The best in the 'Islands of Adventure' theme park was undoubtedly the 'Adventures of Spiderman' ride. Believe me, you'll never feel as close to the virtual world as this ride makes you feel. Since we had bought the express passes for these rides, we didn't have to negotiate the long queues and almost all the rides were done in 6 hours flat!

The other theme park of Universal - 'The Universal Studios' was again a treat. Shrek, Back to the Future, 'The Mummy' ride and Terminator were all too good. We were all tired to the extreme by the end of it all and then that hot chick from Nascar restaurant robbed us of $150 for some silly nachos, fried chicken and diluted margaritas. I was totally against the extra $15 that everyone else wanted to give her(besides the 15% gratuity already included in the bills!) but had to bow down to the shit they call - 'Voting!' I lost 5-1-(Ratul Da kept thinking which way he would go).

The next morning was again the same old story.

Sushant: Abe kallu uth
Abhishek: Nahi tu uth..

..and the battle continued.

Now came the most controversial part of our trip. Though we decided in favor of Keneddy Space Center, it seemed that the 'Let's vote for it' ploy was not used in deciding. I was game for visiting NASA but the more adventurous of the lot were not. They however played the perfect gentlemen by not creating a 'Tu apne raaste ja main apne raaste' scene and we finally went there. IMAX movies(it was really good!), touching the surface of moon, almost experiencing the last 3 minutes of Apollo mission to Moon and having a look at the Atlantis space shuttle to be launched was good but not worth the fortune and the time that we spent going there. We were on the lookout for some simulated space walks and stuff but we returned disappointed.

The next on the list was 'Seaworld'. As we sat for lunch, the Kennedy Space Center wounds started to show up again. But again the gentlemen that we are, we set aside the minor tiffs and the plan to give Sushant the 'bumps' of his life and decided to have fun together, Hum Saath Saath Hain style!

The first show was the Dolphin show. Amazing would be the apt world to describe it. Loitering around here and there, we finally decided for th eonly roller coaster ride there. Kraken was a cracker. A high speed, real high, 'no-base' roller coaster ride and this time I decided not to play a spoilsport. I lost my Nike cap somewhere during the ride though!

The best part was yet to come though. Abhishek aka Kallu and Mohit were about to take centrestage and what followed was non-stop commotion and fun not just for us but also for the other people to see and feel. That's coming up this weekend though as I have some work to catch up with. Will get back soon!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Around Florida in 1000 Dollars - Part I

I went, I spent and I returned bankrupt! The only solace I derive is from Lord Krishna's golden words - "Tum lekar hi kya aaye thhey jo uske chale jaane ka dukh tumhe ho raha hai".

Well if you could not get what I am talking about, it is about my vacation to Florida last long weekend.

I know it'll be hard to sympathesize with me after knowing that out of the 7 guys who went there, no one had a valid driving license to drive in USA and we paid heavily for this by falling prey to the scourge of cab-wallahs who made it sure that our four days in Florida go down as probably the most 'silly-spending holiday' in our lives. Enough of this cribbing for now, Miami and Orlando sure were worth the fortune that we spent!

Our trip started on a very shaky note when Ratul Da came to realise to his horror that Abhishek wasn't carrying his flight tickets along with others'. There was a bit of blame game at the ticket counter and since the executive assiting us had to go and pee, she granted a seat in the flight to the harmless Ratul Da without any thorough checking.

Ernesto stepped back to give us some bright sunshine in Miami and we made a rush to the lifeguards' station on the beach expecting some baywatch babes there only to find a 60 something old man sipping lemonade and tanning his wrinkled skin. We made the next best possible use of being on a beach, played volleyball!

Night clubs by the beach side have quite cheap entries and two of us managed to dupe them of even that. That wasn't deliberate though. As the whole club swayed to the salsa beats, we kept to making swaying movements on our stool chairs engaging a waitress to get us Maragaritas, nachos and mozarella sticks.

Born and brought up in the Govinda land, salsa is essentially not our cup of tea unless we are professionally trained for it and back in India they teach you only if you come along with a partner! Also, from what I figure in the discs in India, even the usual Bhangra stuff that we all do when sadde Daler paaji croons a peppy number is basically a randon motion of hands and legs and from a distance resembles closely to the unruly and uncoordinated Bangalore Hosur Road traffic. Basically what I want to convey here is that most of us are just the jumping jacks who find themselves out of place when a club's DJ's music collection is devoid of any Daler paaji stuff.

Miami is also a place where you can really experiment and Sushant even tried doing that. But his half and hour efforts were annuled by his 'bed-partner' for the trip - Abhishek aka Kallu. The prospects of Sushant flourishing when given an opportunity were discussed at length and the jury unanimously decided that he stood no chance!

The next day we flew to Orlando. It is here that the daily early morning tiffs between Sushant and Abhishek need a special mention:

Time: 5:30 AM
Situation: I was back after getting fresh and these two were still sleeping. Our cab was to leave in another 30 min.

Me: Kaun jaayega ab bathroom? Make it fast now.
Sushant: Abe Kallu tu uth.
Abhishek: Nahi main nahi uthunga, tu uth

Sushant: Main roz apne ghar mein sabse pehle uthta hoon.
Abhishek: To yahan bhi uth ja

Sushant: Abe tu ja na
Abhishek: Tu ja. Main kal bhi tere se pehle utha tha

Sushant: Main agle do din uth jaaunga
Abhishek(giving up, rubbing his eyes): Utha diya saale. Mera shraap hai ki teri agli saat pushtein Kumbhkaran jaisi paida hongi.

For the next flight to Orlando in the morning, Ratul Da ensured that his tickets were in place. Orlando was much better weather wise and the trip turned out to be better and more (mis)adventurous
. Let's keep it for the Around Florida in 1000 Dollars - Dwitiya!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Lage Raho Munna Bhai - Review

There are not many sequels that turn out to be better than their predecessors. James Cameroon worked wonders with Terminator's sequel in Hollywood and Raj Kumar Hirani does the same in Bollywood with Lage Raho. Its hard to decide the best part of this enterprise - direction, script or performances and that says a lot about the efforts of the entire unit of LRMB. Raj Kumar Hirani proved his worth with Munna Bhai and this film reiterates the fact that his success was not just a fluke.

Lage Raho won half the battle with its unusual storyline. If Munna Bhai gave us the '
jaadu ki jhappi', Lage Raho gives us 'Mahatma Gandhi'. Today the Mahatma's ideologies are a thing of the past - dead and buried with the generation of people who followed them and the Gandhi Topi today is synonymous with corruption. Lage Raho is an effort to remind us of all that Gandhi stood for and more. You can call it Raj Kumar Hirani's "Experiment With Truth!"

Sanjay Dutt delivers a top notch performance. As the lovable goon Munna, he wins hearts and this is one character that he is going to be proud of when he reflects back on his entire career. Ditto for Arshad Warsi as Circuit. He is to Munna what Hanuman was to Ram. And boy you got to watch out for the way he carries out an abduction in the first scene of the film!

Without taking the credit away from Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi, the script/screenplay are the real heroes of this film. One of my friends quite rightly remarked after watching the film that if the film cast you and me as the leading protagonists, even then the film could have pulled it off.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra's films have always had very powerful scripts - Parinda, 1942:A Love Story, Parineeta, Munna Bhai MBBS or LRMB, all winners in the story department! Vidhu Chopra also deserves a pat on the back for promoting talented directors. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Pradeep Sarkar and Raj Kumar Hirani have all proved him right.

The film has its share of shortcomings. There are a few glitches here and there in the film. At some places the film does go overboard but that is what I call the 'cinematic liberty' . The end portions get a bit boring. Munna Bhai MBBS was better in the climax if you compare. But the film makes up for it overall.

The songs are definitely worth a hear. Shantanu Moitra's music has a touch of the 70's and that makes him different from the current lot.

Its a film that I would recommend to all. Go watch it and yes, look around to see if Mahatma Gandhi is sitting besides you. Hope to see the Munna Bhai team coming up with another sequel - Lagey Raho MunnaBhai!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Confusions of an Over-analysing Mind

Generally a sane man's thinking process lies somewhere between two extremes - being too hasty while making decisions or being too cautious and analytical with every decision in life, be it about planning a career path or deciding on what to eat for dinner that night. I would count myself as being closer to the first extreme and maybe that's how Maa feels too. So she got me to wear a ring which supposedly keeps me cool and relaxed. That is expected to imply that I will no more make hasty decisions. Anyways, this is not about whether it really works or not.

This is about my meeting with someone 'anti-me' in terms of the thinking process. Someone who would study all the pros and cons of choosing between cabbaage and capsicums while doing grocery before making up his mind about buying both.

My friend Deendayal Upadhyay(name changed to keep identity secret) and I went grocery shopping and this is what followed at the store.

Event A
Time: 4:15 PM

Case scenario: Decision on whether to buy butter

Deendayal(DD): Should I buy unsalted butter or salted one?
Me: Better that you don't buy it. Its not even in a carton or something

DD: If I buy unsalted one then I'll have to add salt so there's no use. But do I buy this salted one or some better brand?
Me: They don't sell the Amul brand here. Better try out a US brand that's available at Stop & Shop.

Clock ticking..4:18 PM

DD: I think I will buy one.
Me: Thank God! Let's move on

Event B
Time: 4:20 PM
Case Scenario: Decision to buy cabbage or capsicum

DD: What should I buy, cabbage or capsicum?
Me: Take your time..think

DD: Cabbage is good and so is capsicum. I would have taken even brocholli but its way to costly for such small quantity.
Me: So you have narrowed down your sample space to two items, cabbage and capsicum..right?

Clock ticking..4:22 PM

DD: I think I will go ahead with buying capsicum
Me: That's the way to go about it man, go ahead and get it.

Clock still ticking..4:24 PM

DD: I have got the capsicum but I was thinking that buying cabbage will also do me no harm.
Me(thinking): Only if you ignore the fact that this cabbage potentially has the ability to jump out of your refrigerator in the night, go to your bedroom and strangulate you to death for choosing capsicum over it at the store.

Event C
Time: 4:28 PM

Me: Hey DD! Saleem Langda, Babu Chhapri and Babban Thakela(names changed again to hide identities) are waiting for us to go to the downtown. Rush, rush!
DD: Don't rush, I'll forget things that I need to buy.

Me: No problem when you are with me. I can help you with remembering the things that you might want to buy. Bread? Milk? Spices? Ghee?
DD: Yes, ghee!

Me: Dekha..main hoon na. Let's do it fast now. Take this 1 kg pack
DD: But which one do I take? There are two brands. I don't know which one is better. I also think that if I buy ghee then I won't need butter.

Me: Does that mean that I go and keep the butter again in the rack?, think
DD: Haste makes waste..but yes, you can keep it back.
(I go and keep the butter pack from where we picked it up and rush back to prod DD to move to the paying counter)

Clock ticking 4:31 PM

DD: I think I will not buy ghee now
Me: Why???

DD: Because it has higher level of cholesterol
Me: So, what would be the next action item? We go to the counter, pay for the rest of the stuff or something else?

DD: I think I will take the butter and leave ghee for the time being. You stand in the queue and I will get the butter.
Me: Oh sure!

Event D

Time: 4:33 PM

DD: I need to buy some biscuits
Me: Buy Parle-G. I remember buying a dog's biscuit pack one day in hurry only to realise it after opening the pack at home. Isn't that funny?

DD: That is why I tell you to be patient
Me: You go and get your biscuits mate..we are almost there in the billing counter queue.

DD: Now, these are a hell lot of types of biscuits. Which one do I choose?
Me: They are all same brand. Pick any.

DD: The question here is not 'what type'. The question here is 'how many'. There are at least 50 packs here. Now how many do I pick?
Me: DD, If you count your would be wife whom you are still to meet and your cute little imaginary Chunnu-Munnu type kids at home, you must buy 10 packs. If you think that you will have lot more chances of visiting a grocery store before your wife and kids come into your life then you can manage with maybe a couple of packs.

DD: I'll pick 2 packs of Pista badam flavor and another coconut cookie packet that I missed in some other shelf. I'll get those
Me: Run, run..we are next in turn at the billing counter.

Time: 4:45 PM

Me: Finally we are done with the shopping. Lets rush back home, tuck in our shirts, put some body spray and rush for the Path station
DD: You made such a rush that I forgot one item completely.

Me: What did you forget now?
DD: Yoghurt!

Me: But you stood at the milk, butter, curd shelf for almost 5 minutes. Didn't it occur to you then?
DD: That time I was thinking about buying milk and butter. Selecting a yoghurt pack needed a different analysis approach.

.. ..

Time: 5:20 PM

Me(thinking sitting alone in a bus, going over to the Path station): What if I get down on the road close to the path station rather than first going to the bus stand? Which one would be the shorter path? What use would reaching earlier be if the other three idiots don't reach there in time? So should I call them and ask if they have left or should I go by the time we set for meeting at the station? What if my watch is not showing the same time as theirs?

..Damn me! I am so very impressionable.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Abstract and Unfathomable - Modern Art Be Thy Name!

(Pollock's art work..about commotion, anger, upheavals or something more profound?)

I have never understood art even remotely. Back in school when I got a poor 50 out of 100 in pencil sketching examination, I sulked and took my drawing to my Mom expecting some consolation and appreciative words from her. It turned out exactly the opposite.

Me: Mujhe is sketch ke sirf 50 miley 100 mein
Mom: 50 de diye??

Me: Kyun? Kam hain ya zyada?
Mom: Kam to hain..(pause)..par is sketch ke liye..

I was shattered.

It was then that I left expressing my creativity through drawings and paintings. I took to writing sarcastic pieces and ridiculing art which was my way of expressing my anguish over the world's incapability to understand my colorful interpretations with a paintbrush. The wound seemed to have healed and the 'I hate it' feeling against art had given way to a more mellowed 'Why should I care?' feeling. But Friday brought back the memories again. I had a lunch with one of my school friends Saurav and then he decided to take a revenge on me for what I can possibly make out must have been some school time tiff which I don't even remember now.

Saurav: Hey I was planning to go to the Museum of Modern Art(MoMA) on the 53rd and 6th Avenue, coming along?
Me: Dunno, I mean can't we go to the museum of sex rather than this museum?

Saurav: You pervert, shameless creature. Your mind is filled with filth. Moreover, Museum of sex mein ticket ke paise lagenge..MoMA mein IBM card holders ki free entry hai.
Me: Tum mere sacche dost ho, meri aankhein khul gayi hain aur paise bhi bach rahe hain..let's go to the MoMA.

It was a 6 storeyed building full of sulptures, photographs, modern art stuff and I for a change decided to take a more liberal stance this time and tried to go around analysing the painitings. The first one was a pile of rubble(made from wood cuts) chained to the legs of helicopters on four sides. Then there was another set of 9 paintings that was inspired from Supernova. It was followed by a series of such stuff that sent my brain in a tizzy. I didn't give up even then. I negotiated two floors and then reached the third.

We saw some art work of Pablo Picasso. One of the sculptures was that of a pregnant woman which we thought was quite crude and non-aesthetic to capture in our camera. Then there was this huge canvas that was painted Olive Green. Its description said that the painter was inspired by a garden of Olive Trees that he saw somewhere(I couldn't help remembering William Wordsworth and his Daffodils) and then decided to paint the whole canvas Olive Green..nothing else..just olive green! My patience began to give way. My drawing days came back to haunt me. I could see Mrs. Kala Singh's face in the black oil and wax paint canvas laughing like the witch from the gory tales of horror showing me the sketch that I made. I couldn't take it any longer. I rushed out. But Saurav had more evil designs.

Saurav(with an evil grin): It seems you are pretty bored!
Me: Bored - yes. I think we have had enough..thakur ab mujhe jaane de..meri jaan bakhsh de is museum se.

Saurav: Bas ek exhibition dekh lete hain
Me(thinking): Main tere se 10 din pehle same hospital mein paida hua tha..agar us waqt ye pata hota ki tu mujhe aise torture kar sakta hai to main hospital mein hi tera gala ghont deta.

The last frontier was an exhibition on post World War I art movement - DADA, not the grandfather! They said that this movement was started by artists with anti war message and stuff. I couldn't understand how dumb people like me were expected to decipher the anti war message just by watching a urinal specimen kept right in the middle of the hall!

It was finally the time to go. As I was leaving the Museum thinking that only fools could come and appreciate senseless creations being exhibited in the name of Modern Art, I saw hordes of people entering the MoMA. The queue extended quite far.

Maybe I am an 'ancient' piece who cannot relate to the sensibilities of these modern artists for whom everything is expressed in some abstract form. In retrospect, I think I should have taken up some art courses during my humanities electives back at campus to be more appreciative of art. But as of now, I think strangulating Saurav the next time I meet him would help me get over this recent trauma.

Note to the Modern Art lovers: The writer of this piece is a bit low on intelligence and a bit high on exaggeration. You can choose to ignore him as being quaint.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna - Review

You do not go to watch Karan Johar movies looking for a thriller action packed roller coaster ride. So its pointless coming out of the theatre cribbing about the glycerine soaked dramatic emotions on display for a complete 3 hours. KANK is 'almost' another Karan Johar special. An enviable star cast, good music, good locales, good clothes, rich people - a perfect example of a designer movie. I said almost because this time around he falters on key accounts as he tries to experiment(though within the ambits of his usual sentimental and emotional stuff) in coming up with a bold story on the theme of extra marital affairs:

- The 'already seen that' narrative of Johar (you can almost guess what the next scene is going to be)
- The 'fallen from grace' character of SRK(The effervescent Rahul making way for the frustrated Dev isn't exactly what SRK fans would like to see I feel)
- The lame reason given for getting into an extra marital affair(I felt that Rani's character left a cool dude like Abhishek to fall for SRK because just like her, he too didn't like to party and because the story writer wouldn't have it any other way) and then extending the length of the film to generate sympathy for the guilty parties.

I would recommend that if you intend to watch the film for some novel experience then you better stay away from it. It is not going to be a milestone in dealing with the issue of out of marriage relationships. There's no point even comparing it to Arth which was realistic to core because KANH is made primarily to get good commercial returns rather than anything else.

Talking of the performances of the lead star cast, Amitabh Bachchan takes the cake with the cherry on the top(Siddhu effect this!). No one other than the Big B could have handled the flamboyant and playboyish role of a 65 year old Sam. He is definitely the high point of the whole enterprise and the on-screen chemistry that he shares with Abhishek is terrific.

Abhishek Bachchan gets to play the role of the 'good man' and he delivers a noteworthy performance. Rani Mukherji and Preity Zinta do not merely play decoration pieces here. They get their share of glycerine moments besides indulging in the regular singing and dancing stuff. SRK looks meek, both character wise and performance wise. I say performance wise not because he could not do justice to the role but because I do not see the evolution in the characters that he has been portraying for the Chopras and Johars since DDLJ. He doesn't even need a director or a dialogue writer now to play these roles, they are getting so predictable and monotonous now. I am sure that King Khan is gonna get back with a bang with Don but its thumbs down for him for KANK.

Music is good - in the Kal Ho Na Ho mould. Cinematography perfect! Lavish sets, good production value but the final product that we get is quite off the mark. Adi Chopra reinvented himself by moving away from the glycerine soaked lovey-dovey romances to more slick and 'in' films like Salaam Namaste and Dhoom post Mohabbatein. Maybe its time Karan Johar too took a stock of things.

Better luck next time Mr. Johar, KANK is not going to boost the sales of tissues this time around!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Omkara - Review

If Macbool was about guilt, Omkara is about jealousy. When it comes from someone who gave us a film like Macbool, expectations automatically rise sky high. And if the film is promoted as well as this one was, there is bound to be a lot of curiosity that ensures a good opening for the film. Omkara sure must have had that but I am not sure whether it can sustain collections in the long run. One, because it must be priced high owing to presence of top notch stars. Two, the dialect is UP centric so it might not have too many takers in the Marathi or Punjab belt and three, excessive use of profanities would keep families away from it.

To say that the film does not live upto its expectations would be doing injustice to the craft of the supremely talented Vishal Bharadwaj and the whole star cast of Omkara that leaves a lasting impression. Tassaduq Hussain, the debutant cinematographer adds value to the product. However, the whole premise of the film seems a bit trifle to me. It looked a bit too much for me to sit through the film which moved with just one agenda - seeing Langda Tyaagi's vicious design taking shape and then culminating in destruction of the characters involved. There was no sub-plot or any respite from the story which moved in just a single track.

Ajay Devgan as Omakara delivers a first rate performance. This was not the first time that he was portraying a silent, brooding character but what was special in this role was the way he brought about that vulnerability in his character. It looked so human!

Konkana Sen Sharma and Kareena do great job too. The best thing about them was that they were the characters they played in the movie. They deserve accolades for their performance.

Viveik(or was it Viviek?) and Bipasha make a mess of whatever they get to do. Vivek's character is not at all strong and he doesn't leave an impact either. The biggest problem with him is that he over exerts himself in a scene to create an impact and he fails miserably. The only natural performance from him was in Company and then he became a star. He needs to get the 'starry' feeling out of his head if he wants to survive. Bipasha is a glam doll. She has been used quite well in the two item numbers 'Beedi Jalaile' and 'Namak' but someone's gotta tell her that just getting into a village belle's attire does not mean that you have gotten into the character. You need to have the diction, the body language correct too. She looks best in a Corporate kind of film. A film based in western UP - not your cup of tea Bipasha.

The actor who comes out trumps in this whole affair is Saif Ali Khan however. He delivers the knock out punch as Langda Tyaagi. This guy is well set to take over the mantle from Aamir Khan. He looks like one complete actor on the scene who has the guts to play a metrosexual Nikhil Arora in Salam Namaste, the goofy Rohit Patel in Kal Ho Na Ho, the suave villain in Ek Haseena Thi and the wicked Langda Tyaagi in Omkara. To say that he was good int he film would be an understatement. Awards are sure to rain for this guy for this performance.

Now comes direction. Vishal Bharadwaj knows it too well. The industry has got two wonderful story tellers of late - Madhur Bhandarkar and him. Be it Makdee, Mackbool or Omkara, Vishal has always made sure that each of his movies has someting to tell. Its nothing different with Omkara. He explores how jealousy can lead to destruction . The film has a very dark ending so if you have a liking for the candy floss romance, keep away from this.

The whole set up looks straight out of life and my hunch is that Vishal has the adaptation of Julius Ceaser in his mind now to complete the trilogy - Macbool(guilt), Omkara(jealousy) Julius Caeser(betrayal).

Music of this film has not been too much talked about. The duo of Gulzar and Vishal Bharadwaj deliver yet again. The music is earthy, gels well with the film and yes, very much saleable too.

Do go and watch Omkara for the sake of the brilliance of Vishal and the reinvented Saif Ali Khan.

Omkara - Maybe not the best, but a laudable effort indeed!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Mirror Reflection

I don't know why I am writing this. Maybe the worn-out looking face of 'A', the guy I met the other day on my way back to home in the bus, has a role to play here. This is about the phases of life that I thought this 'A' might have gone through until the time he came and sat beside me in the bus. So bear with me as my imagination runs amok!

Phase I: Birth - The arrival

A's Dad works as a Bank officer, living in a rented house, growing bald with worries of saving money to marry off A's elder sisters B and C. Now that A's father finally has a boy, he has decided to stop having any more children.

On the day of his birth, A's dad was busy filling out ledgers in the bank as it was the financial year close. But to give him company at the hospital were his grand parents, loving sisters(one of them still a toddler while the other one went to school) and some other relatives. The news of his birth was a cause for joy. His grandfather shelled out money for 2 kgs of shuddh desi ghee ke laddoo. This meant that he was really happy and in a pleasant mood. A's uncle thought of introducing his girl friend to him then and there to seek his approval for their marriage but wisdom prevailed upon him.

There were celebrations and A's father felt the brunt of it. All his saving plans went awry with this recent splurge of money. But he did not mind.

Phase II: Childhood - The upbringing

'A' is good at studies so they decide to send him to a good english medium school. Daddy dearest goes to drop him to school everyday and then pick him up. Two elder sisters sit in the rear seat and A stands in the front on their 1986 model LML Vespa scooter. But this does not last long. The school being quite far away from home, it was decided to send them to school in a bus. It was a costlier affair as the bus charged them individually and did not grant any concession but they could do with it keeping in mind the rosier future that they had seen for their son.

A's Dad worked hard and so did his Mom to bring up the kids in the best way they could. A's Dad ensured that they never defaulted while paying their school fees except during the last month of the financial year. That was a month when tax deductions were made from his salary and poor A's parents had trouble keeping the finances in check during that time.

The kids got new clothes on every major festival and on their birthdays but they were not as lucky with getting toys as regularly. A board game of scrabble or carrom was a coveted possession for these kids in their childhood. They got a chance to buy a toy of their choice( there was no need to tell them about any money constraint, they were matured enough to understand it) when they performed well in their annual examinations or when Dad got some increment/bonus.

By the way did I forget to mention that A's uncle was married by now, with his college girl friend. There was a lot of hue and cry over the whole episode but A's uncle was relentless and the family finally gave its approval. They thought that it was better to concede defeat than let the family dispute get messy with people living all around making their own judgment over the matter. They pretended to show that they had changed with the changing times.

School life drew to a close for A and he came out with flying colors implying that he was to pursue either engineering or medical. These were the only options he was given. He chose to go ahead with engineering so he chose Science subjects. By this time, A's eldest sister had already completed her Bachelors and was ready to be married off.

Phase III: Education - The Survival

'A' cleared an engineering competition. His Dad felt that his hard work had paid off and would soon yield high returns. Marrying off B had caused a major dent in his savings and he still had C to marry off. Besides the expenses on the health care of his ailing parents made things worse for him. 'A' knew what responsibility he was carrying on his shoulders. He was matured beyond his years. His Dad took educational loan from a bank to pay for A's higher education. He slogged hard at his college. Competing with the nerdy and brainy guys who too had come with similar hopes and aspirations as him was never going to be an easy task. He survived and landed up with a plum job after 4 years of hard work.

His uncle too was now pretty much settled and had two kids. Both still went to school and looked upto 'A' as a role model.

Phase IV: Professional life - The Struggle, The Success, The Transition

'A' worked as a software professional in a major MNC headquartered in the Silicon Valley. They paid him good bucks. Right in the first year of his professional life, he started earning more than what his Dad brought home after 22 years of service. It heralded the dawn of a new life style for 'A' and his family. He was soon packed off to the US where he made more money and soon got his sister married off.

A's grandparents were no more with them and but that couldn't reduce the expenses. The money brought in a considerable change. 'A' got a car for his Dad. He pampered them with gifts he brought from US.

The Software Industry had changed the life styles of a lot of young middle class folks. This led to the creation of a new class of individuals who liked to be called the Upper-middle class. The money that they got curbed the recurring thoughts of being just another 'cyber-coolie'. The job did not require much of creativity but they still hung on. The happiness in seeing the joy on the face of their family on purchasing their first car kept them negotiating the rut that they had entered into. They managed staying away from home, compromised on living life on the terms of their employers and pretended to be happy.

As he sits beside me, I think 'A' is still making the transition. He's almost there. He has been in US for the past 3 years and has made some money. Now he would be going back to get married to his girl friend who stays in India. 'A' proposed the girl after seeking some practise lessons from his uncle when he last went to India. His uncle was celebrating his 25th marriage anniversary that year.

Though 'A' pretended to be all happy, I could still see him wearing down. His face said it all and then he turned towards me and asked with a smile - "Hey man why do you look so tired?"

What? Did I too look tired? I thought that I was happy or was I pretending to be? Why the hell did he ask me the same question that I wanted to ask him? I felt a seizure in my mind and then I thought that with a twist in the tale here and there, I too could have been what I was making out 'A' to be. I couldn't really answer him then. I needed to take a long hard look at myself in the mirror to get the answers I guess...not just me, a lot of us need that, don't we?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Things that Remain Unsaid..

One of my friends remarked after reading my recent blogs that if my Dad gets to read what I write, he will disown me for good. The chances of this happening are remote as Dad generally keeps away from the 'good-for-nothing' computers and has employed me part time to log-in to check his e-mails. That said, I pondered over what grudge I harbor against him that I involve him in my silly gimmicks to generate humor? After much introspection, I seem to have got an answer.

Dad's first book was published the year in which I was born. Its been a long time since then but over the years I developed a 'sibling rivalry' kinda thing with that book. While it gained success under the name of 'A Text Book of Algebra', I struggled hard to make any impression. Today, that book perhaps fetches more bucks than what I earn in an year. This constant realisation of defeat at the hands of a 300 page book maybe sparked off the recent spate of outbursts evident in a few of my last posts.

Phew! Man, am I not good at this soul searching and understanding my psyche stuff?

This brings me to another point. The father-son relationship and all the complications that surround it. This relationship is generally of awe and respect. Fathers and sons do not bond at the same level a mother-son bond for that matter. It has got to do maybe with the way we males are. Display of emotions is not our forte. We might feel all the love and affection for each other but taking the next step is always like taking a leap across a giant ocean. We might reciprocate but we do not initiate. The reluctance to take that next step slowly becomes a habit and then we forget even contemplating to walk that extra mile leading to the creation of a void in the relation that neither of the parties know how to fill. You have your questions but you stop to seek their answers by walking upto you father and he waits on his side wondering why you stopped asking him questions which he sometimes struggled to answer once you grew out of the "Papa, aasmaan neela kyun hota hai", "din ke baad raat aati hai ya raat ke baad din?" phase.

The void then starts to act as an excuse for your failures and frustrations at times. An unfamiliar resentment creeps in and it sometimes leads you into becoming a rebel. You feel that he never cared or understood what you ever felt and your Dad feels that you no longer need him to be around the way he used to be when you were taking your first steps or when you were first learning to ride your bicycle. Although blaming him for all your woes would be an extreme form of that resentment but I have seen that happening. Relationships fail at this juncture and that's probably the worst turn that all this emotional void can take.

In other cases, there might be no resentment but a positive struggle to make yourself worthy enough to overcome that void and go back to him someday. That is one struggle that I feel, I continue to make.

For some, earning money is a way of making life a successful journey, for others it has got to do with following their hearts and making the journey worth the walk. But for me the greatest journey would be the one that would take me back to home, when I will be able to look into my Dad's eyes and see that he feels proud of me in some way. That day maybe we'll sit and reminisce the innocent, good old days of my childhood and I might just ask him the same stupid question once again,"Papa, aasmaan neela kyun hota hai?" I know that he will be having all the answers prepared when that time comes. That would probably be his way of telling me that he too had been waiting for that moment all that while. Didn't I tell you that overt display of emotions has never been our forte!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"The Bihari" - Straight from the Heart!

Its hard not to fall in love with a place that you spent 18 very good years of your life in. If you felt that living in Bihar was hell, I would beg to differ. Biharis stand for being non-conventional, generally in a funny way. A majority of us are not the gun toting freaks like the Taliban who are on the look out to either kidnap or murder you and neither are we like a few of our distinguished public faces with political affiliations who don't exactly paint a very rosy picture of the state on the national scene.

"Hum aapko batana chahte hain ki hum bihari hain aur hamara naam suress, rajess, mahess ya binod nahi hai. Arre Bihari sunte hi kaahe albala rahe hain aap? Kaa hua? Hum bhoot nahi Bihari keh rahe hain. Dariye mat".

Purists might cringe at this contamination of hindi language by intrusion of words like dandanaake (with extreme alacrity), buta do(switch off) or associating everything with the masculine gender, but over the years Bihari has developed into almost a language making its presence felt across India besides the sizable chunk of Indian populace living in Bihar. It might not be pure hindi but it sure is sweet and funny. Slangs used here are also quite different from what is generally used in the northern parts of India. Bhootni ke, labad-dhondho, baklol being a few amongst them. We do not mix the crude Punjabi tadka style slangs in our daily life as much as it is used in some other parts of India.

I have spent 4 years in Kanpur studying there and I can tell you from experience that what is chalta hai in Kanpur or for that matter in Delhi can prove detrimental to your survival if you are in Bihar. I had come to Patna during vacations once and had a slight verbal duel with a ricksaw puller. I made a war cry using a normal and benign looking expletive that i used in my day to day life at hostel. That was it! He was not so much peeved at being yelled at than he was at the expletive I used. For God's sake I just used it for addressing rather than to convey anything deeper in meaning. He threatened to wipe me off my existence and then wiped the beads of sweat off his forehead to figuratively suggest to me the ease with which he would do it. I learnt my lesson - Fight or argue but try not to dig into the refined words' dictionary when dealing with people in Bihar.

I generally talk with my Bihari friends in the bihari lingo, the Hum hain na stuff and switch over to Main hoon na mode while talking with non-bihari folks with consummate ease and that is maybe because my bihari blood has become adulterated after staying away from the place for a few years now and also because I had always made a conscious effort to speak grammatically correct Hindi with Maa being a bit strict on how we fared in our Hindi examinations at school. But the instances when a biharism meets Hindi results in a deadly khichdi that could make Sacchidanand Hiranand Vatsyayan 'Agyey' feel as if all his contributions to hindi literature had gone to the drains. For example: Hum tumse kahe thhey na(bihari) + Maine tumse kaha tha na(hindi) = Hum tumse kaha tha na(the khichdi)

Kanpur has been almost a second home to me and how can I sign off without giving you a taste of how Kanpuriya hindi sounds:

Set up: Mumbai railway station ka platform number 12
Time: 12 in the night
Characters: A - From Bihar..Desparate to get back home. Has bought a railway ticket first time ever(you don't buy tickets while travelling within Bihar, its free!) and wants to ensure that he does not miss this train.
B - From Kanpur..Robbed of all his belongings by a fellow traveller a couple of hours back while waiting for his train. Frustrated and waiting to explode.
C - From Mumbai..Raat ko baarah baje din nikalta hai, subeh ko 6 baje raat hoti hai type tapori.

A: Bhaiya ee Babban Rao Ambegaonkar express isi platform se jayega?
B[frowns]: Abe Bhaiya dikhte hain kaa be? Thakur khandaan se hain, ijjat hai hamari...Bhaiya bolta hai

A:Oo ta thik hai lekin tarainwa(train) ke baare mein to bataiye
B: Na batayein to kaa kalloge(kar loge)?

A[mocking]: Pata hoga tabbe(tab hi) na bataiyega
B: Dekho hum gaali nahi dena chaheete(chahte) hain. Is liye sharafat se bolley(bol rahe) hain ki tameej se pess(pesh) aao.

A: Ago(ek) sawaal pooche to jawab mein ladaai suru(shuru) kar diye apne se aur humko tameej sikhayenge
B: Dekho aukaat mein raho kahee(keh) de rahe hain.
C[intervening]: Kya re dono halkat..raada karne ka dono ko yehich jageh milella tha? Chal ab maandwali kar aur kalti ho le, nahi to 'Mumbai for Mumbaikars' ka naara lagake apun 100-50 logon ko ikattha karega aur dono ko without ticket UP-Bihar bhej dega.

..Hmm..I guess it would have made more sense had I talked about the diversity in the way Hindi is spoken all over India. Maybe some other time!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Independence Day Woes & Killing Time

As Americans geared up to celebrate their Independence day, I feared an alien attack or an UFO sighting here on 4th July. I mean that's what they have always showed in their films. Come Independence day and the world's biggest super power faces annihilation at the hands of some extra terrestrial powers. Only this time I wished that our super hero Krrish would come to their rescue in his half burnt mask, climbing mountains, skimming over seas and the proverbial Saat samandar paar se fashion. It would have been more than befitting for an Indian to save America from destruction considering the fact that US has increased the H1B limits to almost double for the next year. It might just have been our way of reciprocating.

But someone up there had other plans. There was an attack, not of aliens but blood sucking bed-bugs and the attack was in the apartment that I was putting up for the weekend with my friends. No, Krrish didn't turn up either. It was left to the three of us, sleepy and tired people to put up a fight against them. We were up at 3 in the night googling to find ways to fight this menace after killing a dozen of them didn't help. The results weren't encouraging. The bed-bugs had been a problem in NY some 60 years ago and they are resurfacing again. Someone's plotting for a biological warfare maybe. President Bush beware!

We also went for the fireworks at the Battery park. It was good but nothing spectacular about it. In fact I grew bored after 5 min of fireworks. It wasn't as grand as I had thought it would be! C'mon now, coming from a nation where you celebrate Diwali, the firework affair sure wasn't going to be a novelty in any case.

There was too much time to kill so caught up with a few old movies as well. The Shining and A Walk to Remember. When you watch a Stanley Kubrick film, you have to keep searching for the underlying meaning and keep asking - Why? The killing of the head Chef of the hotel and then the closing scene had more to them than what they apparently depicted. I now have to watch his last directorial work Eyes Wide Shut, which he claimed to be his best work to date. I tried watching it once but couldn't get a clue of what it was all about.

A Walk to Remember is a romantic film that you watch with your girlfriend and not with three guys. It was predictable and it ended with three of us forcibly making the fourth one accept that he was moved by the tragedy of Jamie Sullivan and Landon Carter.

A: "Abe tu ro raha hai"

B: "Paagal hai kya?"

A: "Tu dekh le, iski aankhein nahi bhar aayi?"

C: "Haan mujhe bhi lag raha hai"

D: "Dekh ro nahi. Ye to kahani hai. Kahe to Mandy Moore se milwa doon."

B(accepting defeat): "Chal thik hai mere baap ro raha tha..ab samajh gaya..nahi rounga. Jaan chhod meri ab"

Peace prevailed thereafter.

Read this line somewhere in one of the scraps of a friend on Orkut. Liked it for its originality:

"Har wo jageh jahan cheezein real estate prices se influenced hokar bikti hain, us jageh ko shopping mall kehte hain" - My salute to the subtle humor of Anubhav!

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