Tuesday, May 31, 2005
The Kite Runner follows the lives of Amir, born into a wealthy Pashtun family in Kabul and Hassan, a lowly Hazara boy and son of Amir's father's servant. The two kids grow up together and are inseparable till a shocking incident that scars both their lives permanently forces them to go their own ways. Fates intervenes and years later Amir, who has since settled down in the US, revisits Afghanistan on a mission that will set right a wrong, a mission which will exorcise ghosts of the past and in the process discovers truths unknown to him. To reveal more would be gross injustice on my part to this surprisingly gripping first effort so I'll let you read the book and figure it out yourself.
For the first half and a little more, The Kite Runner chugs along in fairly predictable manner (I was almost tempted to think that its a Bollywood plot) and Hosseini invests a lot of time and detail in patiently building up the silent yet strong friendship between the two kids, the strained relationship that Amir shares with his father and the socio-political climate in the country. As the novel progresses towards its second half, it becomes more of an intense, emotional drama and we begin to realise that it is all about sin and redemption. The Kite Runner might not go down in the annals of English literature as an all time classic but is definitely worth a read for the following reasons
All the characters are so lifelike that one is easily tempted to think of the book as a memoir rather than a novel.
At the heart of the story, if one is careful enough to read between the lines, is a silent lesson about the value and impact of individual cultures without any biases and prejudices.
The end is the kind which will neither give you a false sense of forced happiness nor have you shedding bucket loads of tears - it manipulates your sentiments just about enough to give you a lump in your throat at the same time making one understand why it had to end that way.
Monday, May 30, 2005
Now that I know all my goddamn wordly possessions fit into one single tempo traveller, I'm so tempted to live in a caravan like a friggin' gypsy except that my parents don't quite think its a 'cool idea' - They don't even think SRK's gaadi in Swades is cool - Baah, these generation gaps.
Packing time: I have soooooooo many clothes, am burning those that I don't like and don't use (the twain are different for those who've not understood me)
Unpacking time: I just don't have enough clothes...Need to go shopping :-(
What is it with me and homes I shift into ? The first one at Venkatapura was 200 mts from an awesome CD shop, the second at Jakkasandra was barely a stone's throw from Food Kemp who was my regular CD supplier and now at BTM, there is a CD shop right next door. I can actualy holler from my bedroom and he could pass it over the window. LIFE ROCKS :-))))
Good locality in parents' parlance means nice neighbours, well connected by public transport, all kinds of shops within walking distance and a park where people can sit and relax. Good locality in my parlance means nice birds. And for once, both my parents and I agree that BTM is a 'very good locality'. PERIOD.
I miss the fair maidens of EC7, EC9A, EC33 and EC36. I even observed a minute's silence today morning when I boarded my new bus. But havta confess, EC16H is really picturesque. REALLY PICTURESQUE. Yipppeeeee !!
In BTM, you pick a stone and hurl it in any random direction and the probability of it hitting an Infy / Wipro / Accenture guy is almost 99%.
Pls note: A lesson in probability
When you roll a die once, the probability of getting a 6 is not 1/6. Its 1/2 - either you get it or you don't. Its only when u roll the die 'n' times that its 1/6. (Long Live Prof. Ravishankar)
So use the same principle to understand the above mentioned statistic. If not 'n' times, throw it 100 times and you will see that I was right.
(To be continued as I am still on Day 1 @ the new house)
Friday, May 27, 2005
Of course, if I am THIS agitated there had to be that proverbial 'last straw.....back' incident EXCEPT that in my case I've had quite a few of that kinds, all in this last couple of weeks. And if there is one common thread across all these incidents then its this 'lets-do-a-movie' thingy....
A conversation on MSN
Me: My damn Pondicherry trip got postponed
Me: Shifting houses this Sunday
She: Poor larka
Me: Yeah..is your boi coming to town ?
She: No :-( Tied up with work. I hate life.
Me: Poor ladki
She: ;-) Was just wondering....
Me: Arre, I wanted to ask you sthg too.....
She: tell tell
Me: You go first, lady.
She: No No You tell first.
Me: Why does it always have to be your way ?
She: Ufffffffffff Bataoge ki nahin ?
Me: Okie, can we watch a movie this weekend ?
She: I was about to ask the same thing ;)
She: So which one larka ?
Me: Narasimhudu ;-)
She: Are u mad ?
Me: ;-) Why ?
She: We know no Telegu
Me: Kya Cool Hai Hum ?
Me: Star Wars ?
She: Tujhe kuch samaj mein aayega ?
Me: Nopes but still....
She: Kya karoon ? All your choices are lousy.
Me: *trying one last time* Bunty ?
She: You know I want to see that with ### :-(
Me: Okkkkkkkkk...DDLJ ?
She: Ha Ha Ha
Me: Why you laffin' ? Nazar ?
Me: Now i am MADDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD
She: But you only asked me out ?
Me: shucks...drama queen...
She: May I suggest something ?
Me: What on earth are you waiting for ?
She: :-) How about going to Cinema Paradiso and renting a DVD there ?
Me: But I am not a member baba...
She: You could go check..
Me: Why me ?
She: Coz you asked me out
She: Don't whine. Its closer to your house.
Me: So will ya 'dress up' for the occasion :D
She: This aint no blooody date larka ;-)
Me: Then why am I doing all the work
She: coz asked me out.......simple.........
Me: But it could have so easily been the other way around considering u confessed
She: I know...but it wasn't... which means.. u asked me out....
....and to think I thought I've 'known' this woman for 5 years.
The two principal players are casually strolling at The Forum
Me: Why is it so crowded here ? Surely not all these people are here to shop
She(2): Sweetie, most of the men are giving exercise to their sore eyes
Me: ..and the women ?
She(2): Oh, we are here to meet our friends and let off steam after a really rough week..
Me: Oh yeahhh
She(2): Chuck that.. Tujhe pata hai ? The first time my boi brought his folks to PVR
She(2): They had gone out during the interval and when they returned to their seats
She(2): My boi's father found popcorn in the seat and started eating it...And then he realised that it belonged to the lady sitting next to him..
She(2): Poor man was so embarassed...It seems he thought the popcorn came as compliments along with the ticket...
She(2): He'd never been to a multiplex before, u see... New to the city types...
She(2): Hullo, I dont like your hmms.. Why don't you speak something ?
Me: You are always telling your stories and when have i ever got a word in edgeways ?
She(2): But then you never have stories to say and we need to have a conversation...
Me: Do we ?
She(2): Stop ur leching...Stopppit pls... its embarassing..
Me: I wasn't...Gimme a break...
She(2): Really ?
Me: You want me to repeat everything u said ?
She(2): No.. Hey, that looks like my friend Rashmi...Just hold on a sec, will ya
She(2): Hey Rashmi ? What are YOU doing here ?
Rashmi: :-) Hi...was bored at home... so thought I'd do some shopping
*I do not see any shopping bags in her hand*
She(2): Oh, that way huh
Rashmi: Yeah.. and what are you doing ?
She(2): Oh.. we are here for a movie..
Rashmi: Which one ?
Rashmi: Oooh..John Abraham...and aren't you going to introduce me to your friend ?
She(2): Oh, i forgot. Rashmi, this is *****, and *****, this is Rashmi.. We studied together at %%%
Me: Hi Rashmi
She(2): So...bought anything ?
Rashmi: Naaaa...Too expensive...Besides its so crowded here
Me: Precisely my point
Me: Why don't you join us for the movie ?
Rashmi: No No..But thanks
*Rashmi's mobile rings*
She(2): We ought to be running.. See ya later..
Me: Bye Rashmi
She(2): Whats rong with you ?
Me: Why ?
She(2): Don't act.
Me: Hullo ?
She(2): You were hitting on her ?
Me: Me ?
She(2): Yeah... maybe you can join us...
Me: Now don't you dare ape me..i was jes being courteous to your friend..
She(2): She is no friend , just an ex-colleague
Me: But you were so warm and friendly
She(2): and you were checking 'her' out...
Me: Whats rong with you ? One line and I am overly friendly, two lines and I am flirting and three, I am hitting on her ?
Me: You women are so paranoid...If any guy is half decent to make polite conversation, then you mistake that for 'interest' and even if he is indeed interested, how does he put it acrosss.. You mistake everything for 'hitting'...
She(2): Are you interested in her ?
Me: Seee you are diverting us again...
......and this is a person I thought I 'knew' for 2 years.
A conversation on YM
Me:.....I missed the Mrinal Sen film festival coz last weekend I was busy
She(3): I know ;-)
Me: What do you know ?
She(3): Forget it nuh
Me: OK...and I so dearly wanted to make it three great weekends in a row...
Me: I am moving to BTM..Did I tell you ? Closer to your area :-)
She(3): Super. How much is the rent ?
Me: And I am shifing houses on Sunday
She(3): Need any help ?
Me: No. Thanks. Btw, U finished that C&H ?
She(3): Yes. It was awesome.
Me: Seee, I told you.. why don't you lend me that book. I would not mind reading it again.
She(3): When and how ?
Me: why don't we meet on Sunday evening..How about a movie ?
She(3): :-) Are you asking me out on a date ?
Me: Jesus fuckinggggggggggggggggg Christ....
Me: Whats it with you women ?
She(3): as in ?
Me: I just said lets see a movie and its been branded 'a date'
She(3): But you said lets watch a movie ;-)
Me: and when I go for a movie with my grandma, I ask her " How about a movie ?"
She(3): Really ? So I'm your grandma ?
Me: Thats not the point and you know it.
She(3): Whats rong in asking someone out on a date ?
Me: Nothing. Ans nothing. Except that I dont understand what a date is...
Me:...and to be perfectly honest, my date is more with the movie and its jes that it feels better to see it with someone than alone...
She(3): Go on
Me: And its not like you are the date and the movie is just an excuse to be with you...
She(3): ...by the looks of it, that day will never come ;-)
Me: You womennnnnnnnnn... I give up...
She(3): so no movie ?
Me: Not if its 'a date'
She(3): Kanjoos, I will buy the ticket and the popcorn...
....and I 'knew' this woman for 3 weeks.
Women and movies, baaaah !!
Thursday, May 26, 2005
When you've seen a team struggle in the previous round to score a single 'legitimate' goal (c'mon, THAT ball did NOT cross the goal line) against fellow English opposition and then find them trailing 3-0 against an Italian team in a cup final, how many footer fans would have bothered to stay awake and watch till the final rites were performed. I do not have the exact numbers and I am sure even the Anfield faithfuls at Istanbul must have been thinking of catching an early flight back home but, as they say, football is a great leveller and 6 minutes of sheer madness was the fine line that separated the victors from the vanquished. Of course, I promptly switched off telly at half-time and hit the sack imagining the scathing headline I would use for this post "You don't mess with 'em Italians" - Fortunately for me, insomnia raised its ugly hood and when I switched on again, it was 3-3 with 16 minutes to go. Yeah, Shevchenko came as close as that proverbial whisker to breaking the deadlock in the second half of extra time but somehow, my gut told me that the trophy would go to Anfield which is how finally things shaped up.
So what does this mean to English Football ? The debate about a 5th Champions League spot for England is bound to dominate headlines, Rafa Benitez vs Jose Mourinho has the potential to become another Fergie vs Arsene battle and Steven Gerrard might not move to Stamford Bridge after all.
Anyway the curtains have come down on yet another exciting year of Champions League football and though yesterday's match was a great advertisement for football, IMHO the 6 goal thriller between Chelsea and Barca at Stamford Bridge was the highlight of this season.
Next year My Men In Blue will rule. Till then...adios !!
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
I SWEAR I WILL KILL YA.
Neway Lotus Touts is kinda cool to read the first time around so for all you people who like chain fwds and/or mush, here I go....
Lotus Touts: You have 6 minutes
There's some mighty fine advice in these words, even if you're not superstitious. This Lotus Touts has been sent To you for good luck from the Anthony Robbins organization. It has been sent around the world ten times so Far. Do not keep this message.
The Lotus Touts must leave your hands in 6 MINUTES. Otherwise you will get a very unpleasant surprise. This is true, even if you are not superstitious, agnostic, or otherwise faith impaired.
ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
THREE. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
FOUR. When you say, "I love you," mean it.
FIVE. When you say, "I'm sorry," look the person in the eye.
SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight.
EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.
NINE. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.
TEN.. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
ELEVEN. Don't judge people by their relatives.
TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly.
THIRTEEN. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, "Why do you want to know?"
FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
FIFTEEN. Say "bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.
SIXTEEN. When you lose, don't lose the lesson
SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and responsibility for all your actions.
EIGHTEEN. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
NINETEEN. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
TWENTY-ONE. Spend some time alone.
Now, here's the FUN(???) part!
Send this to at least 5 people and your life will improve.
1-4 people: Your life will improve slightly.
5-9 people: Your life will improve to your liking.
9-14 people: You will have at least 5 surprises in the next 3 weeks
15 and above: Your life will improve drastically and everything you ever dreamed of will begin to take shape.
A true friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart.
Do not keep this message.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Having had unadulterated fun for two days, I have so many stories to pen but then I am also feeling way too lazy to type it all out, not to mention that even if I do get the motivation to do so, the sneering old hag will post some nasty comment ;-) How I wish I had a voice recognition thingy which would just convert my narration to text and then publish it as a post. Are you guys at blogger listening ?
One of the biggest advantages of having your folks out of town over the weekend is that you get to do a lot of things that you wouldn't normally get away with if they were there with you. Now before everyone starts thinking naughty, I am referring to stuff like waking up at 12 noon, delaying 'the bath' till its really late, skipping breakfast and lunch and wasting away the whole day watching movies on 'the laptop'.....What a Sunday !! Of course, later in the evening there was racing at Monaco which happens to be one of my favorite circuits and though Schumi didn't particularly do well (save that maverick move when he almost killed Ralf), Narain's performance (Ha Ha Ha) ensured that I would not forget this race for a long time. On the movie front, yes, I did catch up with a couple of more Bond flicks - Live and Let Die and The Living Daylights - and since everyone knows how much I love this series, we will give it a skip and waste more words on the third movie of the evening, Snatch. For those of you who've seen Guy Ritchie's (Madonna's man) Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and enjoyed it to the hilt, this one is also a must-watch. Its got the same ingredients - irreverent humor, loud 'characters', loads of style n attitude and dialogues that had me in splits - and to top it all, Brad Pitt rocks. The only complaint I have about the movie is that it resembled LS2SB a tad too much for my liking besides the obvious inspirations from The God.
.....You're always gonna have problems lifting a body in one piece. Apparently the best thing to do is cut up a corpse into six pieces and pile it all together. And when you got your six pieces, you gotta get rid of them, because it's no good leaving it in the deep freeze for your mum to discover, now is it? Then I hear the best thing to do is feed them to pigs. You got to starve the pigs for a few days, then the sight of a chopped-up body will look like curry to a pisshead. You gotta shave the heads of your victims, and pull the teeth out for the sake of the piggies' digestion. You could do this afterwards, of course, but you don't want to go sievin' through pig shit, now do you? They will go through bone like butter. You need at least sixteen pigs to finish the job in one sitting, so be wary of any man who keeps a pig farm. They will go through a body that weighs 200 pounds in about eight minutes. That means that a single pig can consume two pounds of uncooked flesh every minute. Hence the expression, "as greedy as a pig".
The best Mondays are the Mondays when people around you grumble and move their sorry asses to work whilst you chill out at home. And that is precisely what happened yesterday. Having made plans (and even booked tickets in advance...no-going-with-the-flow types) to see the 11:30 am show of Kaal at PVR with FF, (The Rs 50 wala show gives me the real kicks) I woke up late to find that I had just about time to bath, dress up and rush to our rendezvous. The best part about having a buddies day out with FF are the outrageous stunts that we keep pulling on other unsuspecting sillies. A yellow sleeveless Tee and cool Lee capris meant that I 'acted' totally smitten by her and the outfit which caused our poor autowallah endless embarassment. Still laughing hysterically when we landed at The Forum, we realised that we were a little early and did some shopping tp while away time. We had absolutely zilch expectations from the movie having heard and read enough about how pathetic the thrills were and it definitely did not help that halfway through the movie, FF informed me that Ajay Devgun was a *bhoot*. So to get back at her, I acted as if I had already known that and mentioned casually about Amitabh Bachchan's guest appearance. Poor gal, she kept waiting for it till the end credits rolled on and was fool enough to even ask if the scenes had been edited. Reminded me of that joke about a guy who sees a Maryln Monroe movie end with her stripping near a railway track and a train blocks the sight and how he keeps watching the movie everytime hoping the train will be late atleast once ;-)
By the time the movie ended, it was 2 pm and we were famished. But there was still some 'domestic shopping' that FF wanted to complete which was when I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I know exactly how women shop for clothes but not even in my worst dreams had I imagined how long it would take them to buy shampoos and conditioners. We got into Health and Glow at around 2:10 and 35 minutes later, after smelling 26 bottles of assorted brands like Dove, St.Ives, Clairol, Herbal essences, Boots, Ultra Doux (did i miss any?) and different variants ranging from hibiscus, sunflower to rasberry and what not, we came out with Rs 320 worth of crappy stuff. Shucks. The last time I bought shampoo I remember just going into FW and picking up one with 10% off or 20% extra ;-) Shopping done, we finally had good yummy parathas at Aangan in Koramangla for lunch and then topped it off with a one hour chat over Death By Chocolate at the Airport Road Corner House. By the time I came home, I must have weighed 85 but w-t-h, I guess I'll work it off. An awesome day just became even more awesome when I found that my dearest mom had got me raskadams from Pondicherry. Kya karein, I am an absolute foodie. To add to the excitement, Bangalore witnessed a dust storm and some really heavy showers as a result of which there was no power supply whole of yesterday evening which meant I was again stuck with my laptop. Having had an overdose of movies, I thought I'd listen to some good music for a change and picked up my latest pirated MP3, the one I had not even opened since its purchase a couple of weeks back. To my utter disappointment, the 2 albums that I so dearly wanted to listen to - BaB and Paheli - that were mentioned in the cover were both missing and in the bargain, I had three other pop albums that I could have done without. Anyway as far as review of the music that was there in the MP3 CD goes, I think the brat and I share similar tastes and so I'll just second her opinions. And hey brat, don't ya crib. I paid Rs 60 for this crappy CD and I have Jaane Hoga Kya too :-(Putting aside my disappointment, I returned back to my favorite pastime (as if i needed an excuse) and watched half of The Motorcycle Diaries before I hit the sack to bring the curtains down on one of the most relaxing weekends I have ever had.
If only every weekend is as awesome as my last two have been..*sigh*
Neway, how was yours ?
I know you don't like material gifts (not that I can afford any considering I work you-know-where) so here's the next best deal I can offer. I promise to be "Momma's boy" just this one day :-p I swear I will eat veggies, wash my plate, clean up my room, rearrange my books and maybe even do some grocery shopping for you. Just this one day :-)
ps: I really hope you weren't lying when you said you've found the url to my blog....See, I write only nice things about you ;-)
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Its been ages since I blogged seriously and there is so much that I want to record for posterity, so much to share but then there is also a strange emptiness that seems to engulf me whenever I open the editor. Though I've grappled with the idea of shutting down this blog for long, maybe now is the time for action. After all, what better time than to do it when your blog is a year old...a year and a day to be precise...Of course, the epitaph is all ready but then, there are a couple of promises that I made which are yet to be honoured..So maybe I will just hang around till I am done with 'em and then slink away silently into oblivion...
*shitt...I think i am getting into one of these obscure Saturday moods*.
Okie...First things first...Javed Akhtar does have a wonderful way with words..This particular song is without any doubt one of his finest works but after listening to it for god-knows-how-many-times this afternoon, I am just beginning to wonder if he went a little overboard with his poetic license...
A woman who reminds him of
a blooming rose
a poet's dream
a glowing ray of light
a deer in the forest
a moonlit night
a soft word
a candle burning in the temple
a note from the lute
a cool scented wind
a refreshing mist
All of this ? ALL OF THIS ? Gawd, where is this woman ?
Neway doff my hat to JA.
*pucca pucca I am into one of those Saturday moods*
Damn...I don't feel like writing any more...why is this happening to me ?
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Chennai is hot. Bloody hot. I was sweating like a pig everytime I came out of home. It definitely did not help that 19B was in the third floor too. Changes since my last trip....well..The biggest change was in the autowallahs and their attitude....Most of them have become goddamn smart.. They talk only in degrees Fahrenheit and not in degrees Celsius...106 and not 41...All of them have Chandramukhi posters in their autos and can't seem to sing enough praises about the movie. And yes, they have become really reasonable in quoting fares especially when they find out that you aren't exactly new to this great city. They actually say 'Thank You' and 'Have a good day'...
Movie halls like Sathyam have very affordable ticket prices when compared to the shitholes of Bangalore and they even accept credit cards for payment....Net cafes are sprouting in every corner and many of them offer decent speeds at very reasonable prices. The only sore point is that most of these shops do not have a/c so relief comes from old creaking Rallis fans and this is not much considering Chennai is so fregging hot. What else has changed ? Yeah.. we now have a STB at our house which means there are 104 channels to choose from. Of course, since all the guys had gone to work and my interview was only at 3 in the afternoon, I entertained myself watching channels which we do not get here in Bangalore...which reminds me that there is this cute Spanish channel that I must ask my local cable wallah to provide...Has some amazing cartoon programs at around lunch time.
Considering that I had been briefed so extensively at my workplace and I had well rehearsed answers to most of the possible questions that were likely to come up, I must say that the interview was a damp squib...Lasted all of 44 seconds...To be more accurate, I wasted more time sitting and waiting than in the actual procedure. Of course, it wasn't all wasted since there was this really cute (okkk.. mebbe I am getting to that age where everyone 'seems' cute but still..) chick from TCS who was just ahead of me and a decent part of the 2 hours was spent in getting-to-know-each-other-better talk. Twas a realy pity that I was on a very tight schedule for the two days or else, mebbe, something might have transpired. Neway it was a relief to see that the old tricks still worked ;-) Btw, just in case you were wondering, the firangs were extrememly friendly and showed none of the attitude that symbolise their nation but I am still going to reserve judgement till I meet more of that species. Of course, I am biased but hey, thats me.
Any visit to Chennai is incomplete without the mandatory pilgrimage to that mother of all malls, Spencer Plaza ;-) Of course after Fun Republic in Ahmedabad, the malls of Mumbai and apna own Forum, there isn't anything new that I have come to expect but then Spencers has its own charm and I havenothing but fond memories of the hours I used to spend at Music World in 2001. So with L&M in tow and a good couple of hours to kill before dinner, we wandered around checking out CDs at MW, the tee sale at Pantaloons, Kashmiri Pashminas at a few random shops finally giving our credit cards some exposure to daylight at the Zodiac shop. My balance sheet now boasts of a cool red tie on the asset side and my cash situation is now down by Rs 499 on the liabilities side. Thankfully I did not yield to temptation at Cookie Man (still watching my weight, u see) and Landmarks (so many books so little time). Shopping with L&M can always be a very exhaustive affair for she's never sure about what she wants to buy and this time was no different but it was still a great couple of hours spent together. A real pity we could not do the movie thingy also.
Dinner happened at the Saravana Bhavan on Pondy Bazaar. The less the better. I have never been a huge fan of this chain and this particular franchisee (and the one on Peters road) definitely needs to be nominated under the category of most inefficiently managed restaurant. Being a group of 6, we had to wait for a good 30 minutes to even get a table whilst 2 old ladies, presumably gossiping about Metti Oli over soda lime, made me grow madder than I have ever been in the last 3 months. Why on earth did the patron let 2 people occupy a table of 6 beats me and why on earth do people pay such ridiculous prices for obviously pretentious food continues to evade logic....Chuck de...After dinner it was movie time and unfortunately for me, another good friend of mine BK (who I hope will one day graduate to better tastes if he wants to become an assistant in my first directorial venture) had decided that we had to see Kingdom of Heaven. I have never been a huge fan of epics, more so after my bitter experiences with Alexander and Troy, and watching gory hand-to-hand combats filmed in true Ridley Scott style (yeah, the guy who made that Gladiator) wasn't exactly a great tradeoff for hitting the sack early. Neways, we still saw it and while the movie worked much better on an emotional plane, the grand battle scenes weren't so novel and the heroine wasn't a hotty ;-) Or maybe I was just too weary after a long day to notice her sex appeal...wotevah !!
Saturday. Woke up late, had a cool brekka with makkal at Balaji Bhavan.. the place just hasn't changed.. absolutey great food at value-for-money prices...The rest of the morning was spent arguing with pirated CD vendors at Parrys corner over DVD bargains. Finally got a great deal (??) and bought an Indiana Jones collection (all 3 movies for Rs 75...DVD 9.0 mind it), a Tom Hanks collection (Ladykillers, Green Mile, Forrest Gump and Philadelphia all for Rs 75) and The Usual Suspects single (Rs 70). Came back home and checked out the print quality and have to admit that I can't believe its not a original. Long live video piracy. Next in line: The entire Yes Minister series, the F.R.I.E.N.D.S collection, The Sopranos collection and Sex and City series for FF. Happy days are back again :-)
Just in case I haven't emphasised how hot Chennai is, would you get the point if I told you that we decided to see yet another movie just to beat the Saturday afternoon heat..Yeah, this time it was that much touted Srikanth starrer Kana Kandein. Decent effort but to sum up the movie for you, here's what you can expect or rather you shudn't expect....
# Do NOT be misled by interviews and articles in Tamil film magazines that Gopika has acted 'boldly' and shared some steamy moments with Srikanth. There is absolutely NOTHING in the movie.
# Successful cameramen just do not make good mainstream storytellers - they simply flatter to deceive. Kindly add KV Anand to that illustrious list of predecessors like Santosh Sivan (Asoka), Rajeev Menon (Minsara Kanavu was p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c and Kandukondein ^ 2 was passable at best), Thankar Bachan (Azhagi was good but Sollamarandha Kadhai was awful) and PC Sriram (Meera and Vaanam Vasapadum)
# Srikanth is good but not as good as this Mallu guy Prithviraj who plays the cool villain. Have to watch out for this dude.
Movie done, all of us returned home and played carrom till it was time to for me leave back for Bangalore. Another awesome trip to Chennai ended much before my liking. Thunder Mint at Gangotree, Airavath Bus journey, listening to Paheli on BKs car stereo....so many more memories but then this is getting too nostalgic now so I better call it quits. Can't wait to go back again for Appu's wedding. That should be fun and that time I think I should be able to meet up Rads, Zee, Sud and also do Kwiky's, Ispahani and probably an S.Ve Sekar play.
Currently listening: Chennai Senthamizh (MKSOM)
PS: Can neone tell me which Carnatic raga this song is based on and other popular filmi numbers that derive their source from the same raga..Treat assured.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Hey Jupaa, whats with the new Thiruchelvan look ?
Ada naaye...Haircut panni thola...Enna asingum da idhu...(Bugger...get a haircut done...u look fugly)
Sweety, are you short of money ? Need some for a haircut and shave ?
A million memories....Flashback time...
During my very early childhood (when I was a real bachcha) I remember having some local barber coming over to our 'thinnai' (verandah) and doing his duties while Paatti would stand guard near the front door ensuring that the man did not invest anything but 150% concentration on the job at hand After a good 20 mts (used to be the era when quality of work was directly proportional to the time you took to do it) when everyone at home was unanimous in their opinion that a reasonably good job had been done, the barber would be paid his dues and dismissed. Of course, I could not come inside the house till I had had my 'kuliyal' (bath) near the 'kenaru' (well) at our 'kollapakkam' (backyard) which was probably the best part of the whole ritual.
I must have been 5 or probably 6 when I first went, with my father in tow, to have my haircut done in a proper saloon. I vaguely remember the awe with which I stared at the posters of heros like Rajini, Kamal and a handsome hunk unknown to me (which I later found was Jeetendra) that adorned the entrance, the mirrors on all walls inside, the huge swiveling chairs where the 'grown ups' sat whilst they were dealt with and the radio blaring out songs from Akashvani... When it was finally my turn, I remember being seated on a 'palagai' (wooden bench) above the chair since I was too short and the head barber brandishing a gleaming scissors and a green comb. My parents tell me that when I came back home, I cried a lot for no reason whatsoever (to my credit, dad tells me I never flinched inside the room) but that is one part I dont remember much. What I do remember is that the head barber, who was also the owner of the shop, had been very friendly and put me totally at ease which meant that I had just become a lifetime customer for him. As time flew and I grew up, Dad would no longer accompany me since he was now reasonably confident that the barber knew exactly what I liked and what I disliked. For one, I hated that initial water spray so for me it had to be a little lesser amount of water (just enough to make the hair wet and easy to chop off) than the regular. Unlike his other customers, I always insisted that he use a new blade when he started with me and this is a practice that happens till today. (just that for economies, he halves every blade and uses a fresh half for me) During those early days, the shop had just 3 seats so there used to be very little trouble on who decided what should play on the radio. When I was there, I always had my way (paavum kozhandai was how he would get the others to agree) and it was film music and not some stupid news (Neone remembers Saroj Narayanswamy ?) or farming programme.
Saloons in most places are closed on Tuesdays. During my school days, I had no option but to get my haircut done only on weekends and Saturday used to be my wake-up-late day which left Sunday as the only alternative. However unlike a lot of people, I enjoyed going to the saloon on Sunday coz it used to be crowded which meant that there would be atleast 3 newspapers and a couple of magazines lying around which I could lay my hands on. The usual practice was to leave at around 7:45 am and after a wait that ranged from 20 to 40 mts, I would finally get my turn and be back by 8:45 am which meant I could still have my bath and sit in front of telly from 9 am....Those were the days when cable TV wasn't as prevalent and more people saw He-man and the Masters of the Universe, Guiness Book of World records, Ramayan and the lot...Neway coming back to the saloon itself, it was here that I first learnt to read Thamizh. The Sunday newspapers usually had a 4 page supplement devoted solely to TV and cinema with hot, nubile women adorning the front page and the incentive to learn the language was the fact that I could then be privy to all the secrets / gossip of Kollywood.
More years went by and it was around Std: 6 or 7 when I became aware that a lot of my friends devoted a good 20 mts before the mirror everyday styling their hair in all sorta fashions. If it wasn't disco cut, then it was step cut...Or what was it... rambo cut...but good ol' me was always a 'summer cut' (means: go the whole hog) boy...The family believed that when u spent good money, you needed to get good value for it :-) It was probably around the same time that the owner moved to a bigger shop in the same building which could now seat 5 people and had a large waiting lounge. The interiors were redecorated, prices hiked and it was rechristened Malaysia Saloon. Curious me always was full of questions so I remember asking him why he had called it so for which the reason given was that the owner's son had gone to work in Malaysia (as a fitter or plumber or the usual) and having to endure very tough work conditions had run back home to his family occupation which made him a foreign trained specialist. LOL.
As I reached senior school and fancier saloons sprung everywhere in the neighbourhood, I continued to vest my loyalty with Malaysia though prices had now risen to unheard of astronomical highs (Rs 35 for a summer cut and Rs 50 for a shave and haircut was obscene in a small town like Trichy) Then college happened and though I was part hosteler and part dayscholar, I always came home for the monthly ritual. It was probably during this time that the owner also started treating me like a mature adult (instead of pampering me) and confided all his financial problems and personal family issues to me asking for advice. I think it was sometime in my last year of college when I first entertained thoughts of trying out a new hairstyle, esp since I had already got a job and wanted to live the life of a rebel in those last few months. After carefully rehearsing the lines that I would use to convince the man why I did not need a regular 'summer cut', when I finally tried to attempt it, I was in for a rude jolt. Here's what happened
"Vaanga thambi... Eppdi irukeenga ?" (Come in lad, how are you?)
"Nalla irukken annen.. neenga eppdi irukeenga ? Unga payyan Arumugham sowkiyama ?" (I am fine.. How about you ? Hows your son Arumugham doing ?)
"Adhu periya kadhai thambi... vaanga vetti kittey solraen" (Thats a long story.. let me tell you as I do your haircut)
"Yaen.. nalla dhaane irukkaaru ?" (I hope its nothing serious)
*addressing another customer*
"Indha thambiya enakku 5 vayasilerndhu theriyumm.. kaalam pora pokkula kettu pogaadhu orey pulla idhu.. eppovume summer cut dhaan..indha kanna pinna style ellam kidiayaadhu"
(I have known this kid since he was 5..He is the only boy to have been not spoilt by the passage of time...always does his 'summer cut' and not these rubbish fashions?
...and thus ended my briefest flirtation with fashion. The rest as they say is history. I worked in Pune and Chennai and trusted my cool hair to a lot of new faces but never was I treated as royally as I was at Malaysia. At SP in Mumbai, it was different for it was the first time that I went to a proper stylist's saloon where employees opened doors for customers, the AC was awesome, there were fancy aprons, foreign colognes and the works... But it was all machine operated and the whole experience lasted a maximum of 8 minutes and the Rs 50 charge almost left me feeling cheated. Damn. I could barely read the Filmfare and Stardust in that time.
So many more childhood stories... But all those for another rainy day...Yeah, its raining here in Bangalore... Yippeee...
Monday, May 09, 2005
While for most of us, the 70s remains a decade that is clearly associated with Sex N Drums, Rock N Roll and everything Yankee, it was also the decade that marked the awakening of the collective conscience of the average Indian to the socio-economic change happening around him/her.
Sudhir Mishra's HKA starts off in 1969 and follows the lives of its three main protagonists through the traumatic 70s. It would be extremely difficult to classify the film into one specific genre simply because the movie works at a much deeper level than your average Bollywood venture. On one hand, we could call it a simple love story set in turbulent times where idealogy and circumstances cruelly contrive to alter the dreams, aspirations and destinies of the lead players. On a totally different track, we could call it a sharp commentary on the politics of the time (sans biased political overtones) with the director mincing no words in exposing the failures of the Nehruvian ideal. All said and done, HKA is without a shadow of doubt, one of the most hard hitting movies made about the political landscape of India. I can think of just a couple of honorable mentions like Hu Tu Tu or even Dev (for its honest intentions) which tried something along the same lines but where HKA scores is the fact that Mishra manages to convey the anger and frustration of the individuals without being didactic or overly dramatic. While good movies speak to your heart, HKA goes for your gut.
HKA derives as much strength from its finely nuanced characters and the inherent complexities of their behavior (not surprising considering Mishra is a M. Phil in Psychology from DU) as it does from its tempestuous setting of Emergency. A major part of the story is told in the form of letters written to Geeta, a foreign returned suave urbanite, by two people who are fighting for her affection - Sidharth, the affluent son of a retired judge, who is driven by the idealogy of the reds and who believes in social revolution and Vikram, who aspires to rise from the mediocrity of a middle class living to the high corridors of power and influence. The three first meet in St.Stephens and chart their futures in those politically active corridors of college. Sidharth leads a group of rabble rousing revolutionaries who plan to give up everything and dedicate themselves to the cause of the persecuted in Bihar. Vikram who will have nothing to do with fighting for the underdog slowly ingratiates himself into the system and develops political contacts that will help him in his climb to the higher rungs of society. Geeta, caught between the two men in her life, finds herself unwittingly drawn to Sidharth's magnetic personality but cannot find the courage to join him in his crusade. Fate intervenes and Sidharth goes to Bhojpur in Bihar only to find that things are worse than his worst dreams and that it will take more than time and blood to bring about change. Time and distance separate the two love birds and Geeta is sucked into a loveless marriage with an IAS fast-tracker Arun. Vikram's native intelligence and cunning sees him steadily make his mark in the durbars of the corrupt while continuing to remain in the fringes of Geeta's life. What follows is a reverberant journey dealing with the trials and tribulations of 3 people trying desperately to come to grips with life which seems to be moving much faster than what they can cope with, a journey which delves into the heart and soul of a nation suffering from a debilitating period of oppression and lawlessness.
With HKA, Sudhir Mishra clearly shows that Calcutta Mail and Chameli were mere aberrations and that he has still not lost the ability to churn out offbeat classics like Is Raat ki Subaah Nahin and Dharavi. (I have not seen Yeh Woh Manzil To Nahin) Watching a sensitive movie like this is neither a comforting nor a pretty exercise and Mishra ensures that the grimness of the past stays long after the movie experience is over. The movie is a timely reminder to global audiences that there is more to the 21st century Indian film industry than just Aishwarya Rai, Karan Johar or Yash Chopra. Judging from the credits, the movie seems to be a collaborative effort between Mishra and some French team and it clearly shows in the quality of the technical crew, be it the cinematography or editing department. Whatever I write about Shantanu Moitra's riveting score (and his brilliant usage of sheer silence) will still not be adequate to his immense contribution to the movie. Particular mention must be made of Shubha Mudgal's soulful rendition of the title track (a poem by that wonderful Mirza Ghalib)
The dialogues in the movie are the best I have ever heard - laced with irony and sardonic observations. Sample these
There is a letter in which Sidharth writes to Geeta and says "Bhojpur might be 1,000 kilometres away from Delhi, but is 5,000 years away otherwise."
And then there is another letter where Vikram tells Geeta "Meerut just had another riot yesterday. Only this tme it was better, just 70 died. Not that the people are overly concerned. There is more excitement here because an ironsmith's daughter ran away with a low caste guy. Of course, they caught the guy and trapped in a drum and boilt him. Just kidding...they just castrated him."
There is bound to be a lot of furious debate on the moral fibre of the protagonists but what is most endearing is that Mishra does not chose to adopt easy fix-its by offering cinematic explanations to justify the actions of the players. Geeta, for example, is shown as remorseless for the unflinching and often mindless devotion she has for Sidharth so much so that even after marriage, she does not think twice about sleeping with him and having his baby. Vikram, for all his chameleon-like ways, is steadfastly besotted with Geeta to the point of being self-destructive. Why you may ask ? But then this is love we are talking about and love can have no logic or reason.
Lets move on. As far as performances go Chitrangda Singh(Geeta), Roshan 'Shiney' Ahuja (Vikram) and Kay Kay Menon (Sidharth) are mindblowing and clearly underline the fact that given a strong storyline, you don't need A- stars to work magic on screen. Adding further depth to the plot are some interestingly etched cameos like the old-Congress-mould father of Vikram, the shifty local politican played by Yashpal Sharma and the ruthless Bihari hawaldar.
For someone who sees 2 movies per week in halls / pirated CDs (adding upto to 100 movies a year discounting ones seen on cable / TV) it would not be an exaggeration to say that HKA is one of the top 5 movies I have seen in the last 3 years. I realise its only May and there are still 7 months to go but I would be very suprised if the movie does not win National awards for Sudhir Mishra and Chitrangda Singh. For genuine lovers of the medium of cinema and for people who believe that movie-making serves nobler purposes than sheer entertainment, HKA is a must-watch. Go see it in a hall today.
ps: A loose translation of this extremely poetic title would come across as "A thousand dreams like these" but just like the movie, there is much more to the title than what can be seen from the surface. It would be more apt to call it "A tryst with destiny"
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Congratulations to Amma, my 'first friend' at SP, for getting married on Wednesday...Wishing her a long and happy married life :-)
Best wishes also to SM on getting engaged to Kruthika manni on Wednesday...Yet another one bites the dust amongst the gojas. *sigh*
Belated Birthday wishes to KS. Hope you had a rollicking day at one of those numerous you-know-wot in Sydney ;-)
Best of luck to 'the parachute' for her trips in and around Mumbai. Who cares if the scope of your project & even your guide has changed - just forget ur summers and freak out...Fun a lot, fikar not ;-)And yes, when you go to Pune get me Shrewsbury biscuits :-)
....and now its time for me to tie some loose ends up....
In case you peepul did not notice, Sidin is writing again and I found yet another cool blog belonging to, of course it had to be, an intelligent Mellu (thanks to Venks who led me to Anu who led me there)
Friday, May 06, 2005
- having a cubicle mate who will just not stop talking gibberish about his Sai Baba service society and more such crap on a Friday afternoon
- getting sandwiched in between two obese women in a 3 seater in my 8:30 pm shuttle with one fatso chattering away loudly on her cell phone and the other chomping Kurkure continuosly (the smell drives me crazy and hungry, besides she does not even share it)
- paying Rs 250 as registration fees for a crossword event, finishing it in half the time allotted and then finding out that you've made a couple of silly errors and missed the prize by, you guessed it, one point.
- walking down four floors to meet the boss and hearing nothing but Mellu everywhere - from the corridors to the cubicles to finally his office. (aside: if there are so many of them here in my workplace, what about the Gelf ?)
- sending a 28 page SoW through fax thrice - the first time without the crucial initials on each page of the doc, the second time to the wrong number and finally to the right number (35 wasted minutes)
- getting into a lift with 6 people and having to endure two morons who just can't wait to show the rest of us how great their spoken English is (I hate private conversations in lifts...makes me wonder if momma taught these numbskulls manners)
- Jobe having an awesome front 9 where you are 9 under par and then screwing it all up in the 17th hole
(To be continued)
No ? Never felt this way ? Damn.. I guess you are just lucky...Thankfully I've jes come across another equally, if not more, quirky person in maami who offers me hope and consolation that being non-conformist might not be that bad after all. Thanks maami and a big wooohooo to this online world :-)
You might shut your journal some day so I am reproducing here, without your consent, words that just reinforced my faith in the fraility of humanity
Sell Fish. Buy Crab. Eat neither.
When I die, I tell
him. Please forget me.
Currently listening: Zombie - Cranberries
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Before I get on with the rest of this post, let me first get done with the part I hate most...Finding fault with a rom-com...OK, as Ebert rightly points out, the movie is not a cinematic breakthrough, moves along in a very predictable fashion, offers very little in terms of novelty and is a good 15 mts longer than it should have been....And this is precisely where the wise critics and I will go our ways...
Technically speaking, a rom-com succeeds only when the director invests the audience in the plight of the lead characters and has us rooting for them to get together (which we definitely know they will) which in the case of Hitch definitely works. I am in no way denying that the plot and the sub plot are both derivatives of the beaten to death boy-meets-girl/boy-loses-girl/boy-gets-girl-back storyline but where the movie scores is in the subtleties of its characterisations. In Alex Hitchens (Will Smith) and Sara Melas (Eva Mendes), we have two people who are definitely flawed but in a very likeable sorta way, who seem so made-for-each-other that our heart goes out to them and we really wish for things to work out. On the other hand, in Albert Brennaman (Kevin James) and Allegra (Amber Valetta) we have the most unlikely combination for a couple who despite being in different leagues seem to have that magical something in common. So what happens in Hitch is a sometimes-comic, sometimes-romantic interplay amongst these 4 players leading to a lot of funny situations and the odd saccharine sweet tender moment.
Hitch offers a lot of smart dialogue for people who are careful not to miss the sudden shooter or the quick retort. The opening sequences of the movie and the first time Alex meets Sara in the bar are simply delightful for the sheer inventiveness of word play and wit in the scenes though some of the smart lines used might not work in real-life. My personal favorite is the scene when Hitch tries to teach Albert how to get close with Allegra on their first date
"Lean in, place your hand on the small of her back, say it in her ear like a secret. But watch your hand placement, too high says, “I just wanna be friends”, too low says, “I just wanna grab some ass”.
And as a particular dialogue in the movie itself goes
"Ninety percent of what you're saying isn't coming out of your mouth."
Ditto that for Will Smith's comic timing. He is awesome as Alex be it in the I'm-cool attitude he sports, the verbal sparring with Sara or in his patient attempts to teach Albert the tricks of the trade. Despite the fact that a lot of reviews mentioned that the best sequences in the movie involve Smith and James, I personally felt Eva Mendes was hot and there was tremendous screen chemistry between her and Will Smith. Though the movie released in the US during the Valentine weekend with a clear eye on cashing in on the lucrative chic-flick sentiments, let me assure you that Hitch is much more than that. I saw it twice, on consecutive days over the weekend, and I enjoyed it as much with the guys as I did with my buddy girls.
*start of snobbish attitude* And for a change, esp after my bitter experience with Bangalore audiences in Be Cool, the audience seemed to love the movie too and got almost all the funny lines. *end of snobbish attitude*
Besides not a lot of movies run houseful for a second week at Rex so that should settle it for the doubting Thomases. In case you still didn't get it, go for Hitch (4/5)
Continuing with matters of the heart, I've never claimed to be extremely well read but to feel as ignorant and ill-informed as I did yesterday when I heard about this Gretna Green is not funny. Has neone ever heard of this story before ? Please say NO.. Please...
OK...Lemme get it off my chest....What the hell is the matter with my darn mobile phone ? Never knew the alarm facility operated on a 00:00 to 24:00 basis..So when I set the alarm for 12:08 yesterday night and went to bed early I thought I'd wake up on time for Chelsea vs Liverpool..... &%$#@.... finally woke up at 3:45 am to realise that I should have set it as 00:08....I hate technology...and needless to say, Chelsea lost...Did neone see the match ? Was it a goal or not ? Neway post mortem on the season will happen in another post (Btw, apologies to someone I promised to call kal..mebbe we will jes meet up at Chennai.. easier that way...)
Currently reading: Godan - Premchand
Currently listening: Meatloaf - I'd do anything for love