Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Same Pinch!

However hard I try to pretend that I am all-cool and give a damn about what people think but the fact is that I am not and I am very conscious of what goes in others’ minds. It is for this very reason that someone with very good sense of humor keeps putting me in situations where I am put to test. This weekend, I caught up with a few of my batchmates I was meeting after almost a year. Being the only punctual one amongst them, I reached the venue 10 minutes late. I bored myself watching the traffic across the road for a good 15 minutes, when finally Newton emerged. What followed was a very gentlemen like expression of male bonding and then it struck me. Newton and I were wearing the same sweatshirt!

I might lose out even in a lottery that has odds stacked heavily in favor of me but here I was, standing on the road with a person whose taste in clothes might have never matched mine but here we were - flaunting the same sweatshirt. I know that I am no cynosure of public eye whose actions will become a matter of public debate but I couldn't run away from my self that kept reminding me of the fact that Newton and I had chosen that day to commemorate our friendship by wearing the same sweatshirts. The next few agonizing hours were spent maneuvering around to avoid standing next to each other.

This was not the first time that something of this sort happened. A few months back, my brother and I had gone shopping to Noida. Mid-way through the journey, my brother pointed it out.

Me: Kya hua? Kuch gadbad?
Abhishek: Apne joote dekho

Me: Saaf to hain
Abhishek: Ab apni jeans, shirt aur chashma dekho

Me : Arre sab dekh liya ab inko gayab karoge kya? (chuckle)
Abhishek : Ab meri taraf dekho

There was silence and it spoke a thousand words. I was taken back in history and several events unfolded before my eyes.

Event 1: Buying specs at an optical store sometime in 2006

Me: Arre same frame hai to kya hua? Hum log ek jageh thode hi rehte hain. Le lo agar pasand hai to. Same hua to kaun sa pahad toot parega?
Abhishek: Tum doosra kyun nahi le lete?

Me: Chalo tum jab Delhi aaoge to nahi pehnunga. What’s the big deal if we both have the same pair of specs?

Event 2: On a phone call sometime in early 2007

Me: Yeah, I bought a new pair of shoes. It’s funky
Abhishek: I too bought one recently. Which brand?

Me: Ganuchi hai koi. Pata nahi kya brand par sahi lag raha hai
Abhishek : Arre wahi to maine bhi liya hai. Color?

Me: Mixture of white and maroon
Abhishek: Thank God green nahi hai. I bought white and green

Event 3: Buying shirts for gift a couple of days prior to the incident

Me: I liked these shirts so I got one for each of you guys
Brothers (in unison): Oh! we are cheap. We won’t thank you.

Me: They all fitted so well that I bought the same size and style for everyone
Brothers (in unison): It fits us well but you look odd in the shirt. But hey, we are not laughing at you.

Event 4: Searching for my pair of jeans a few hours prior to the incident

Me: Why the hell did you have to put all my jeans in the washing machine?
Maa: Because you have never cared to do so

Me: What do I wear now?
Maa: Borrow one from Abhishek

I never knew that a scheming plot was being written for all these months to make me face this day. My brother and I were wearing similar shoes, similar jeans, similar shirts and same specs and there we were, playing our parts at the Centrestage Mall in full public view. We looked almost the same in terms of nature of the clothing even though there was a difference in how we looked in them. We chartered out a quick contingency plan. We had to buy a pair of floaters and we rushed to the shoe shop. I finally slipped into the floaters and my brother kept away his pair of glasses so that we looked different. All this was done in a jiffy but not before the sales woman’s smile showed that she found it amusing and an aunty whispered something into uncle’s ears who then gave us a look that you would expect from a person watching a Charlie Chaplin movie.

Life indeed keeps teaching you something or the other each day. I have finally accepted it for a fact that life is difficult. You not only have to reconcile with the ‘differences’ that you have with others but also face the brunt of the ‘similarities’ sometimes.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Rocking Start To The Week

Delhi rocked – literally! I got my second mild earthquake experience. Thankfully, it was not damaging. I had one of my friends staying overnight at my place and he ensured that the adventure of the earthquake took a backseat as the unintentional humor generated by his divine utterances (when I tried waking him up to get running) took centerstage.

Me: Abe N bhukamp aaya hai, jaldi uth
N: Kahan se?

Me: Bed se..aur kahan se. Baat karne ka time nahi hai..jaldi idhar darwaze ke paas aa
N: Kya bol rahe ho? Abhi bhukamp kaise aayega?

Later he tried giving a call to star news to recount his harrowing earthquake experience and the mayhem in which he collided with the sofa trying to find his way out the hall in the darkness. He was thinking on the lines of blaming ISI for the ‘jolt’ from the blue. His call did not connect though. I remember the last time these tremors struck Delhi in 2005, I was having breakfast with Dad and was so excited to experience it that I kept staring at the glass of water that was shaking while Dad threatened to withdraw my name from his will if I didn’t get moving.

Monday morning was business as usual. I was surprised to find news of Pakistan’s political fiasco hog limelight while Delhi tremors found space in the scrollers at the bottom of the screen. It seems that nothing that I am associated with, even remotely, can become interesting enough for these newswallahs. Half of my friends didn’t even realize that it was an earthquake and half of them said that it was no big deal even though they were not from Japan.

I witnessed an after-effect of the tremors while returning from office today. A couple-in-love was driving in a Santro. Their expression of love every now and then in the non-romantic Delhi traffic jams was probably to make up for the quality time they might have lost out in the tremor confusion in the early hours of the day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Great Indian Wedding!

Marriage season is here and my only problem with it is that it has screwed my holiday planner for the rest of the year. I am sure that by the end of it all, there would be a few disgruntled faces but let me make use of this opportunity to inform beforehand that my schedule is packed more than that of the Indian Cricket Team and I can’t do anything about it! The fact that it saves me the pain of running at the last moment to a gift store to buy something and then getting it gift wrapped is a huge plus that I cannot ignore.

Yesterday was the first of the weddings that I attended in the action packed season. It was the first marriage that I was attending in a long-long time and it was quite an eventful one at that. Now enough of self-indulgence. I actually wanted to recount the characters you would find at such weddings. I found some yesterday but I would talk generic to include some more. So here it goes:

The Bride and The Groom

Poor souls! This is one day they are supposed to be happy and all cheerful but faith and photographers have other things in store for them. After weeklong hectic rituals, they are made to sit on a majestic pair of chairs while photographers sit and run their puppet show with them.

Photographer 1: Sir ji aap sar upar kijiye, Bhabhi ji aap thoda sharmaate hue neeche dekhein, Thanks!

Photographer 2: Sir ji ke dost aap bewakoofon ki tareh na hansein aur peeche khade ho jayein. Picture kharab ho rahi hai

Friends and family come up on the dias with their kids, pose with the couple and then make a retreat while the two hapless people are left showing their pearly teeth incessantly.

Photographer 1: Sir ji aapko daant andar nahi karne..please smile kijiye, Thanks!


There are two categories of Chachajis – real ones and then the self proclaimed ones. The real ones look all serious. Surveying and scrutinizing every minute detail.

“Ye paani ka fawwara yahan kyun laga diya hai, bachche geeley ho jayenge”

The self proclaimed ones go around with a swagger, telling all and sundry how the groom actually peed in their laps when he was a kid. Their claim to fame is their neighborhood association with the groom’s family.

“Arre ye to paida hi mere saamne hue tha. Hum bahut close neighbours hain”

Chachaji ke Bachche

They are the next generation neighbors who have actually played gully Cricket with the groom. They might not know if the marriage they are attending is actually a love marriage dished out as an arranged one for society’s sake and the orthodox values held by the family but they claim to ‘know all’ about the boy.

“Arre ye to aadha time hamare ghar pe hi rehta tha. Asal mein mera chhota bhai iske saath padha tha aur ye mujhe bilkul apne bade chai jaisa manta hai”

Yeah, I got you mate!

Lost Souls

These people know no one except the bride or the groom. These include colleagues and college friends. They don’t know any one else in the family and the only one they know is held at ransom by the relentless photographers who show no mercy.

Photographer 1: Sir ji aapne fir se sar neeche kar liya. Aur ye pair thode aage kijiye, Thanks!

These lost souls look all lost until the groom sends someone from the family to take good care of them. As if 'good care' translates to making one comfortable at the bar, they are led to a secluded area which has arrangements for hookahs, cigarettes and all other things that you are asked to abstain from as a kid. There is a misconception that greater care means forcing people to gulp down more than they can handle. The already lost souls try hard to find other ways to divert the attention. They bore the other people with talks about their college or workplace stories and form their own group within the larger drunken group. I, for one, get on the offensive and attack one of my acquaintances in the group with soft verbal barrage. The hosts feel that I have been taken ‘care’ of and I am saved of the pestering.


Delhi DJs who perform specifically in weddings and can’t think beyond “Baari Barsi” songs are a treat to watch while they change tracks. Just when the people start swaying, they blurt out something as stupid as:

“Ye poora program organize kiya hai Raju Sharma ji ne”

The good thing about them is that they don’t act fussy and would repeat a song 10 times if you want to. You don’t need to haggle with them as they are no DJ Aqeels and have no reputation to protect. Play what you please but bear with the – “Saare relatives aa jaayein dance floor pe” act time and again.

Lat but not the least, the most difficult part is making a retreat later in the night. When you are almost out, one of the brothers of the groom, who happens to know you sees you escaping. You freeze as he comes along with a smile:

Bhai: Abhi kahan ja raha hai?

You: Bas bhaiya wo idhar hi thoda (Main aur kya karne rukun?)

Bhai: Abhi to ferey aur saari rasmein baaki hain

You: Haan haan bas aa gaya (Rasmein..meri shaadi ho rahi hai kya?)

Finally, you camouflage yourself in the bevy of other guests who are leaving and make an exit with pleasant memories of the beautiful girl in the blue dress and the navratan chutney that you savored while the girl in blue walked so close past you that you could tell the name of the fragrance she was wearing. Indian weddings are indeed great.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Om Shanti Om - The Review

The King is back. After playing a subdued Kabir Khan in Chak De, SRK is back to playing what he is – a larger than life Bollywood superstar. OSO is a film that does not follow logic but it entertains to the core and that is the USP of the whole affair. Filmy is how I would describe OSO.

I know that the film is not going to appeal to all connoisseurs who look for substance but for someone like me who grew up on a staple diet of hindi potboilers, OSO is just what I would have asked for. In all fairness, let us give credit to SRK and Farah Khan for following their convictions and deliver what they set out to make OSO from the outset – a commercially viable product that scores with the audience. So the fairer sex got a new look six pack abs Khan to drool over and the rest of us got an exquisitely carved hot bod in the form of Deepika Padukone to dream of. Uncle SRK got lucky indeed!

Now getting back to some serious analysis. Let’s start with the positives.

1.) Scale: The film was about Bollywood and so had to be big. Did it live upto the expectations – it exceeded them actually. A plethora of stars descending for a 6 minute song, Abhishek Bachchan and Akshay Kumar chipping in with their small appearances. It was one big party and I was left overawed by the scale of the film.

2.) Humor: SRK’s brand of humor was evident throughout the film. The film was full of jibes mostly aimed at self and at times at others (Manoj Kumar getting beaten up by a security guard has left him fuming and calling up press people I hear!). Akshay Kumar and Abhishek Bachchan make a one-scene appearance to take pot-shots at themselves. Kiron Kher plays the overacting filmy mom. The most hilarious punch, however, is provided during the southie film shoot where SRK plays the big shot from south Indian film industry. If you have a liking for senseless humor, you would simply love it.

3.) Music and Visual Effects: Hit and ruling the charts. Dard-e-Disco was novel and so was the picturization of the Dhoom Tana song that had Deepika dancing with Sunil Dutt, Rajesh Khanna and Jeetendra. Note that the effects might look kiddish but they go quite well with the mood of the film.


1.) Hangover and clichés: True, the film was designed to be clichéd but it goes to such an extent that it seems that there was no attempt to do something new. The film is based on rebirth and to say that the film has a hangover of the Subhash Ghai blockbuster would be an understatement. Starting from the title of the film, to its opening credit song and finally the climax, everything has references of Karz. Our filmy hero actually plots to trap the villain by replaying the Karz scene with his side kick.

“Pappu, Mukesh Mehra ko hum Karz ka repeat performance karke hi pakad sakte hain”

The last scene came as a surprise because it deviated from the Karz track to tread the Ramsay track with a prettier face (If you get what I mean!).

2.) Loopholes in story: Huge ones at that. Even if you are making a film which isn’t supposed to be intellectually taxing, things need to be coherent. Deepika’s character is that of a superstar of the yore but 30 years hence no one even knows her name (not even the reigning superstar). Then you have the villain burn the entire studio and get away without anyone noticing it. What’s stranger is the fact that no one even bothers to come back to that place after the huge fire guts it. The end too was not thoughtful. Too amateurish in the story department. But Farah is a smart filmmaker. She gave the audience what it wanted in the form of this glossy affair even though she forgot to tighten the other screws. Or maybe she didn’t even have the time to focus on other aspects amidst the razzmatazz.

My over all rating would be a 3 on 5 for OSO. Take is as one point for each of its strengths or a minus one for each of its weaknesses. I would recommend it to all those who are either in a festive mood, indulge in senseless humor, belong to the Vidhu Vinod Chopra hate club or do not belong to the National or Oscar film selection jury.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dil, Dosti, Etc - Review

It’s been more than a month since this film released and the review comes in quite late in the day. But can’t help it, I have not been watching movies for a long, long time. Dil, Dosti, Etc might not go on to become a cult film but I would still call it a decent attempt. Coming from the stable of Prakash Jha (he has produced it), Dil, Dosti has a high reality quotient associated with the film. The scenes in the film are straight away pulled from life. The college environment depicted in the film is not the Lovedale College set up shown in candy floss movies and neither do the characters break into a jig every now and then to woo their lady love.

When you are young, you feel that the possibilities are endless
– This film revolves around two people, their aspirations and how they go about achieving it with the backdrop of university politics at DU. As for how it fared, I felt that the movie gained pace from the very outset, reached a crescendo and then plummeted. I might be wrong in judging it this way but I feel that the script was flawed.

I went in to watch the film with a hangover of Haasil which marked the arrival of Irfan Khan and I couldn’t keep myself from comparing the two films. Both had the backdrop of University politics but Haasil was more filmi and commercial in its approach while Dil, Dosti has a more arthouse flavour. The film has its share of a few ‘bold’ scenes too.

High points:

Performances: Shreyas Talpade gives a clean performance, getting his Bihari accent correct and suiting the part he played. I felt that he was underplayed in the film and seemed more like the support hero. Imad Shah is a revelation. He does not have that chiseled look or anything that can be called heroic about him but the director has tried his best to give us a new Emraan Hashmi avatar. He gets to lip lock with all the girls who are given some screen space in the film – lucky b******!

Characterizations: Manish Tiwary, the director of the film hails from Bihar and it seems that he has also been a part of the DU milieu. Both these aspects were evident in way he has created the characters, not just the protagonists but also the supporting ones. The ragging scenes reminded me of the superman days some of us had to brave during our own ragging days at college. I almost felt a part of the whole set-up.

Dialogues: The film has good and measured dialogues. Nothing over the top. Smart lines and the point is put across.


Script: Imad’s character lets go off an offer from Yale to live and experience life that thrives in the nooks and corners of India. He goes a step further to leave the cool, cosy comforts of a Mercedes Benz to drive around on a Yezdi (which people rode eons ago). I don’t know what prompted him to take on the bet of bedding three girls in eight days. Although the film started with him trying to search for love and Shreyas trying to find his bearing in the political arena, the one sided bet seemed to have become the whole premise of the story by the time it ended.

Having said that, I must also point out that you cannot keep yourself from praising the way the writer has actually brought out all that goes through the minds of a young college going kid. Imaad’s portrayal of a confused and searching young ‘pseudo-intellectual’ as he is referred to in the film as well as the depiction of the cosmopolitan and middle class values through different characters is praiseworthy.

Music: There was not much scope for music in the film. They still managed to have that item number forced into the plot. Some might say that the song actually took the story forward but I will never be convinced. To add to it, the song and its picturisation were awful.

Dil, Dosti is a film that DU people should not miss out on. As for others, I would call it a casual film. Casual because you don’t plan to go and watch such films, you watch it when you either have nothing to do or you have no better thing to do.

I am now looking forward to watching No Smoking, not because of the lineage it boasts of (directed by Anurag Kashyap of Black Friday fame) but because I have been challenged to weather this high voltage, abstract, infathomable..hmm..lemme rather reserve the epithets till I watch the film. Is its DVD out?

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