Sunday, May 28, 2006

Fanaa - The review

Jitna pyaar Rehaan aapse karta hai utna pyar aap Rehaan ko nahi karte - point taken, but why do you need to keep telling this every two minutes?

Ab tumhe darr lag raha hai - Mr. Kohli, were you attempting to scare away the audiences? Each time Aamir-Kajol got cosy, this dialogue was thrown in, maybe at the behest of Ajay Devgan.

Fanaa is destruction, literally! Its about overdoing things and driving audiences to a point where they feel annihilated-Fanaa! The story idea is good but the product is way off the mark. The film will not be a hit it was expected to be. The production banner(Yashraj films), the casting coup of sorts and the Hum-Tum goodwill would entice audiences to come to the theatres in the first week or so but the film is sure to fall flat thereafter. The film has a few things going its way but these are completely overshadowed by the ineptness of the script, the lethargic pace of the movie and lacklustre direction. Verdict - Disappointing!

Kunal Kohli is no doubt a good storyteller but he ends up overdoing it here. The music is soothing to the ears, especially Chand Sifarish and Tere haath mein. Kajol looks ravishing, Aamir is as usual good and the child actor is cute. Kirron Kher and Rishi Kapoor play liberal parents who don't mind their blind daughter's running away with a complete stranger and keep preaching stuff. Shiney Ahuja and Tabu do inconsequential roles. The twists in the story do evoke interest in the film but that doesn't last too long. Aamir's shayaris are an entertaining enterprise but again overdone.

The script is shoddy. There are several glitches and too much visible thoroughout the movie. There is no point elucidating them because those are too apparent and for all to see. However there were a few hillarious(intended to be serious) scenes and I can't help keeping myself from sharing one of those:

Circumstance - Kajol is in possession of a nuclear bomb trigger and she calls up the military base where the folks are desparately looking for it to save millions from a nuclear attack.

Kajol: Mera pati hi terrorist hai aur mere paas trigger hai
Tabu: Dekhiye wo trigger bahut important hai. Agar wo kisi ke haath mein lag gaya to meri beti aur aapka beta dono mar sakte hain.
Kajol: To aaiye aur le jaaiye ye trigger, Aamir peeche peeche daudta hua aa raha hai.
Tabu: Arre behen ji kal subeh tak intezaar kijiye. Hum raat ko kaam nahi karte

I was earlier against the protests against this film by the Gujarat BJP unit. But I now feel that a ban would have saved headache to a million viewers all around the state. Mr. Kohli, get back to directing mushy-mushy romantic films rather than trying to attempt something different and then keep going back to your tried and tested formula of glycerine soaked-cliched emotional pyrotechnics at every given opportunity in the film.

The trailer of Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna too was screened during the intermission. The film gave the feel of being based on failed relationships. Set in New York City, it boasts of an impressive star cast.

Now I need to get over the Fanaa experience. I feel I have spewed enough venom and can now manage a good night's sleep.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Chartbusters in their own right

Hindi film songs are unique in their own right. Churning songs after songs with never ending enthusiasm, our film-makers have ensured over the years that there's no escape from them. I have a special liking for the 70's and the 90's numbers. The one unifying thing about these songs is that the same Kishore Kumar songs that I hum today in my youth might as well have been my Dad's favorites during his days.

In between the several timeless classics that hit the Indian music scene there were a few songs which escaped catching people's imaginations and didn't become as popular as they should have been. I have thought of paying my homage to those classic pieces of creative genius by creating a 10 song list of those songs which come to my mind in the next hour or so that I would be writing this blog. This is no top 10 list, just the songs that come to my mind as I ramble on.

C..A..T cat, cat maane billi
R..A..T rat, rat maane chooha
Samjho iska matlab to jaane kya hua

How innovative! You can't help thanking Kishore Kumar and team for coming up with this classic which sadly wasn't picked up as the anthem for spreading the 'Literacy Campaign' all over India.

Sona, Sona, Cellualar phone tum to hona
Computer ko leke Brahma ne rachaya kya
Telephone dhun mein hansne wali..Melbourne machhli machalne wali

All the songs of this classic Kamal Hassan movie, Hindustani, are worth finding a place in any top 10 chart but as a rule I am allowing only one song per film to make it to my list.
If you haven't heard it, just listen to it. It left an everlasting impression on my mind and the magic of this song doesn't show signs of waning!

3.) Columbas Columbas chutti hai aayi,
Aao koi naya mulk dhoondhein chalke bhai.
aisi jageh dil karta hai chalo..duniya ki koi burai jahan na ho
fauji taiyaari, jung aur ladai, gandi raajneeti, etc etc

A song that teaches you a lot about planning your holidays and enjoying them. It also carries a social message of creating a world order free of wars, dirty politics, hunger, etc. A masterpiece!

4.) Urvashi! Urvashi! Take it easy Urvashi.
Chitrahaar mein bijli udd gayi..take it easy policy
Padhne pe bhi fail ho gaye..take it easy policy
Baap ne bola anna ka dushman..take it eay policy

LIC might use it to sell life insurance policies in India, preferably in the south where people will identify with Rehman's music, Prabhudeva's dance and understand only the 'Take it easy Policy' words of the song.

5.) Oonchi hai building..
lift teri band hai
kaise main aaon
dil razamand hai

Anu Malik won my heart with this song. I felt so proud sharing the first three characters of my name with him. This song from Judwa talks about the problems faced by young lovers due to electricity problems in the city which prevents them from taking a lift to reach their beloved's house. Are the Electricity Board people listening?

Mera dil na todo
Rooth ke na jao meri jaan
Paas mere aao meri jaan

Rhyming at its very best. Creativity led our lyricists to resort to use of self created words like '', 'Boi boi bam..baba..bamboi' besides others to make rhyming songs that were so soothing to the ears. What enhanced their appeal was the extensive use of cheap manual labour in our country in the form of background dancers who were made to dress in similar looking uniforms and asked to perform some physical training exercises. Yups! You got it right..1..2..3..4...1..2..3..4

7.) Tohfa Tohfa Tohfa
Laya laya laya
Pyaar ka tohfa tera
Bana hai jeevan mera

I like this song not for its lyrical value but its breathtaking picturisation. How aesthetically pleasing was it to watch Jeetendra draped in white clothes from top to bottom singing to Jaya Prada in the Botanical garden of Ooty and on Chennai beaches with Mysore silk sarees and Kumkum bangles being used in abundance to substitute for a set.

8.) Aa gaya aa gaya halwa wala aa gaya
dhoom machane aa gaya
rang jamane aa gaya

This song from Dance Dance was my childhood favorite. I make a promise to make my kids learn this song by-heart even before they start learning their nursery rhymes. Three cheers to the conviction of the song writer, music director, the singers and the lead actors - Mithunda and Smita Patil(and you thought she only did the arty movies kinda stuff!) who had faith in this song.

Breaking away from the monotony of hindi songs let me introduce to you another example of innovative experiment tried out by our makers. Using english sub-titles for hindi songs. The effect when a hindi song is released with english sub-titles is no less short of a creative explosion in a 'East meets West' fashion. Sample these for instance:

9.) Love is a bitch
It makes the world go round
Now gone
But its heavenly as long as it lasts

For Kambakht Ishq(Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya) and,

10.) My heart is pounding away,
and my passions are aflame
Let go of my arm, lover!
Do not play with roses so tender.

For Dhak Dhak karne laga(Beta)

This list is in no way comprehensive. My apologies on missing out on other lyrical marvels of Bollywood or as Amitabh Bachchan likes to call it - The Hindi Film Industry.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Miser in Me Begins to Mutiny

Last couple of weeks I have been on a money spending spree. Maybe I was pissed off with the taunts of being a miser and missing out on being in America abuses hurled at me by friends in more refined language not worth mentioning here that I decided that enough was enough. So I ended up buying an ultra sleek looking black Sony-Vaio FJ270 laptop, splurged on food, my favorite though - Kababs and all the Mughlai stuff and now have my birthday bash in line just a couple of weeks from now. An i-Pod and some miscellaneous accessories for my lappy are also vying for the paltry sum that I have still kept hidden from the spendthrift-me.

I remember reading somewhere how spending is in fact a virtue and why US rules the world despite the Americans living/spending lavishly while the Asians are pretty parsimonious. I even suggested Dad to spend all the money he had in his bank accounts to which he just smiled. Knowing him for the past 24 years, I knew what he was thinking - "Ye ladka paagal ho gaya hai. Pata nahi isse pagalkhaane wale bhi rakhenge ya nahi." Mom was more forthcoming with a reply like - "Beta tujhe kuch chahiye to saaf saaf keh".

Just as I begin to think that I am capable of spending a lot, old memories begin to haunt me and they don't paint a very rosy picture. Back in school they used to sell samosas in the canteen at 50p a piece and I was a regular there. But they suddenly raised the price to 75p and I remember that I made a vow never to buy a samosa from there again. God knows why I did that. Maybe because the extra 25p seemed unjustified to me or whatever. I never refused a samosa treat from anyone though.

In college I was the money lender. All of my friends somehow managed to spend all the money they got from home while I used to stack it up in my bank account and used to end up lending money to quite a few in-need ones. Why did I have money in my account when all about me were broke? Was it because my parents loved me more and gave me extra money to spend or was it because I that couldn't be true. I was always in the denial mode, I still am. Lending was also a way of spending, I thought! Maybe if I was born in the US, I would have been different not just in my color but also my spending habits.

Now enough of philosophising on the Main Aisa Kyun Hoon Main 'Asia' ka kyun hoon aspect of my existence. My laptop begs for a mention.

Lap-'top', I sometimes wonder whether only I feel that there is something sensual about this name. Anyways lets not drift away from the topic. I have had mixed reviews of the sleek model that I purchased. Hmm..'Sleek Model'..I told you there is something sensual about this whole laptop thing! Some say that it won't last 12 months while some say that it would be an Onida! (Remember the neighbour's envy owner's pride thing). Check it out here at : My Laptop. (Don't worry about being directed to some adults only area when you click at the above link after my sensuality talk).

That's pretty much it for this week. The long-weekend awaits and laziness has forced us to drop our Niagara Falls plan. For the past one week we had been going back and forth on 'should we-shouldn't we' discussions on going to Niagara Falls. We might just end up visiting some places around. Now that was definitely not done on purpose to save a few bucks! Damn me! Will I ever get over this habit of torturing myself with far fetched explanations to changes in my day-to-day plans?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Da Vinci Code

Ron Howard, Dan Brown, Tom Hanks decoding Dan Vinci's codes, a very interesting prospect to make you invest your 7 dollars over the weekend. I had loved Dan Brown's novel so much so that I followed it up with Angels and Demons and Digital Fortress. Angels and Demons was in the same mould as Da Vinci. Digital Fortress was a flop!

Now coming back to the movie. The expectations were enormous and the film does live upto it in parts. But my views would seem biased as I could not enjoy the 'unraveling of the codes' part having read the book earlier which actually was the high point of the story. Reading the book atop a berth in Karnataka Express was more enjoyable to me than sitting and watching it in the front row of AMC theatre yesterday.

For those who haven't read the book, just go and watch it.

The release of the film I hear has been delayed in India with it running into Censor issues. Newpapers even show anti-film protests in some parts of the country. Censorship in India is a bane. I hear the version of BI2 that was released in India was edited to the extent that even Neal -n-Nikki seemed more 'bold'. Wonder what would they end up showing in Da Vinci Code after editing.

The whole point of protest it seems is because the film explores the idea of Christ being married and having a child just like all mortals do. Religious sentiments would sure flare up for it also says that Christ wanted Mary Magdalene to be his heir. The idea of Christ being married would be like someone suggesting that Lord Hanuman too broke his celibacy vow to have a Jr. Hanuman. Hope no Bajrang Dal members are reading this!

I am planning to return to India for a couple of weeks in June. There would be a lot to catch up with there. Hordes of movies too lined up for the summer break, football world cup would get underway and India will slug it out against the West Indies in test matches. I have my schedule all packed up for the 14 days that I'll be there - Dilli Chalo!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Aao sikhayein tumhe cheat-plead ka funda

Another suicide at IIT-K. God knows why the importance of living a life looks so miniscule to them that they don't hesitate to slit their wrists, hang themselves from fans or jump from a building at just failing in a course. Com'on now if you are so desparate to pass a course then there are better ways to deal with it - Cheat and if that doesn't work - Plead.

The Cheat-Plead policy worked for me whenever I was in dire straits. I am reminded of a few incidents back at the campus where I actually learnt this art. I remember it was a PHY101 quiz and Prof. Joglekar, after his customary - "Can you please open the windows at the back" greeting distributed the question papers to all of us. It was a quiz on relativity.

For those who don't know what Relativity is, its a strange concept that Einstein professed after some bouts of craziness that spanned a long illustrious academic career. For the more informed ones, he never won a Nobel for that :(. I felt that it was exerting too much pressure on human brains like ours to learn a concept that took him years to formulate in a span of just a couple of weeks(that was the duration for which we studied Realtivity). I had the option of commiting suicide because of the pressure but then I thought of taking on an unchartered territory thus far - Cheat!

The stage was set but unfortunately I sat besides a Telu who was actually sitting next to the Maggu who knew it all.
(Telu - people who felt that people like Einstein should have been crucified much before they uttered anything that could put subsequent human civilisations under the threat of mental duress
Maggu - people who were capable of causing greater mental duress to subsequent civilisations if allowed to inhabit the Earth)

Anyways, the papers were distributed and I turned a deaf ear to all my inner voices and started copying each and every word that the Telu sitting besides me was copying from the Maggu sitting next to him, a sort of chain-cheating you know. 10 minutes into the quiz, I came to know that the problem had been solved because Maggu heaved a sigh of relief. We took utmost care to submit our answer sheets at intervals and not together. Two days later, Prof. Joglekar did not greet us with the "Can you please.." stuff. He looked a bit stern.

"It seems that a few of you are having trouble getting the concept right. You can ask me to help you out rather than copy it straight from your friend's answer sheet"

My heart skipped a beat. I was caught. He started distributing the papers, Maggu - 10/10, A - 8/10, B - 4/10, Anurag - 10/10(he didn't say anything to me!), C - 7/10, D - 3/10, Telu - 0/10.

"Aha! so here you are my friend. You copied the whole stuff from one of your friends without caring to look at the question paper set that you were having. You have solved the problem of Question paper set 1(a) but you were given the set 1(b)"

I quickly checked my paper because I too did not know what set I had got. But by virtue of that being my first attempt at cheating, I seemed to have been saved by some divine grace. What happened was that Maggu got 1(a) then Telu got a 1(b) and then going in that order, I got a 1(a) again. So even though both Telu and I copied and wrote the same stuff, I ended up solving the correct question but Telu was not so lucky!

Telu too had an option of committing suicide after the embarassment but he instead chose to laugh it off and worked on his shortcomings as a copy cat and graduated in time to land up a plum job!

The Plead policy came to play in the last semester of my stay at IIT-K. There was this new professor, pretty raw in terms of handling students and courses. The highest in his course was a meagre 55% and most of the junta languished in the range of 15-22%. He actually could have ruined 3 months of our professional life and we needed to take the next step. We had two options, commit mass suicide or go and plead. We resorted to pleading. Again conscience was shown the door that day. We went to him, listened to his sermon on discipline, application, life, commitment, respect, profession, career, he skipped the sex talk if I remember it correct! and it worked. No one was failed!

I know that according to my Moral Science school books the Cheat-Plead thing is certainly not the best practise but what the heck it has kept me hanging onto life for so long!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Football Shutball Hai Rabba!

I played football after more than 11 years I think. The last time I did play forced Mom to punish me by not letting into the house after i returned with broken glasses and drenched in sweat. This time she wasn't around so I thought that it would be fun you know with no after match pressures of being locked out of home for half an hour. That made me take on the field with extra vigour. My Maldinist, Carlosian and Zidanesque attributes came to the fore soon enough as I defended, pushed, covered the mid field and then netted a goal in pretty quick time - A star is born, he's coming to rule!

But then good times dont last long. 10 minutes into the play, i huffed and panted and fell tackling. My fitness problems came to the fore. 1 hour into the play, no one even remembered that i was the one who scored a magnificient goal, so what if it came from a 20 m straight pass which I just touched with my foot as it pierced through the opposition net with their goalkeeper busy playing with his 2 year old daughter?

As if the embarassment of not being recognized for the first goal for my team was not enough, I also spilled orange juice on my sweat shirt. That 2 yr old kid also laughed her heart out in amusement :( - The star fades, exiled!

So much so for the game. Last week was also movie time for me. Lotsa movies - Frequency, Unleashed, Darna Zaroori Hai and Gangster.

I had seen Frequency earlier and it has a strange time travel concept but I still like that movie, maybe because it has that wrapper of emotions rather than just thrills and adventure associated with time travel movies. Its about a man in the present helping his father in the past to save his mother from a killer on the prowl. Father-son relationship in hindi movies has not been explored well I guess. Gardish was one which showed the turmoils that a son went through as he struggled to live upto his father's expectations but besides that I cannot remember a good movie, which anyways is a rarity in Bollywood, which dealt with this. DCH had a scene where Aamir breaks down while talking over the phone to his Dad. That was first-rate I felt.

Unleashed is a Jet Li movie. You know what you can expect. Danny - The dog is what he plays. Its his journey from being a 'dog' to a 'man'. Good action, bad story!

Darna zaroori hai has lived upto the expectation of maintaining the standards that Darna Mana Hai had set. In fact it has gone one step further. Crappy stories sure scare the hell out of you. I wonder how RGV's mind works. He delivers a very decent Sarkaar and then puts his money on a film like Darna Zaroori Hai. Expect the unexpected from this man. A real dud this movie - Don't watch it!

Gangster is a well made movie. Supported by some good music, performances and some beautiful locations in Korea, Gangster is sure to click at the box office. It has its share of falls but overall a good movie to put your money into for some time pass over the weekend.

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