Wednesday, 24 December, 2008

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi: Duality in every aspect.

Many a times in life people want a second chance to create a first impression. To re enact situations, be a third person and like a self puppeteer, translate what is in your head to more appropriate action and dialogue.

Especially in situations when you are intensely attracted to the opposite sex, it is sometimes difficult to be natural when you are yourself, and easier to be what you would like to be, if you are aloof from the moment.

This was my constant thought while viewing Rab Ne Bana De Jodi. While some might find it difficult to digest SRK’s complete character switches, others will relate to the confidence that arises from anonymity.

If you just manage to wipe the sugar coating and filmy gloss, the script sounds twisted. Writing a review is more like doing psychoanalysis of this film. Like the time when a drunken SRK talks to the mannequin, reminded me of a T-Shirt quote, ‘If a person with multiple personality disorder threatens suicide, is that a hostage situation?

Through ‘Tanni’ (Anushka Sharma), Aditya Chopra mirrors the common longing of human beings to have a third witness to their innermost thoughts and through Suri/Raj (SRK) an even more complex mirroring of the desire to be able to catch the unguarded moments of someone else’s life.

Remember an oft spoken childhood phrase? “You go ask her and come back and tell me!” Rab Ne Bana de Jodi is like that. A spy game, where bollywood being bollywood, husband and wife are able to merge their dual lives and live happily ever after.

Also the film seems to have been made by two directors, keeping with the sense of duality throughout. One who kept the worn out Yash Raj banner flapping by throwing in typical long drawn out emotional speeches, with misty eyes and quavering voices and another who put in some lovely comic situations.

Part of the film is full of detestable clichés: The heroic bike scene, the fantasy of the city lights spelling out ‘I Love You’, the ridiculous Sumo wrestler scene and the Karan Johar-esque, grandeur of the sets, not to mention the predictable story that makes you cringe as you watch the film.

Yet there are many quaint bits that will stick in your mind. Like the pen drive around SRK’s neck attached to the laptop, like him fumbling with the Pepsi straw in the first scene, like him placing the rose at the breakfast table and shoving it back again into the vase, and many more that I have now forgotten. Of course the credit goes to SRK, for enacting even the most clichéd comic parts in such a fresh manner. The whole ‘Macho’ theory especially, had me in splits.

It reminded me of the time when we had just entered Junior College. Being the first to turn 16 and get a legal license (!) in the group, I was amongst the few arriving to college on a bike, necessitating everyone to take pillion riders on group outings. The raucous caused by the boys refusing to sit behind a girl and me firmly staying put on the front seat just to defy that reasoning delayed more than a few outings. Of course looking back now, a little less feminism and a lot more delicate behavior would have probably resulted in an earlier sex life, but then that’s what modern day education does to you. Let’s ideals cloud opportunities!

To get back to the film, 30 minutes shorter and it would have been a much better viewing experience. I enjoyed the kitsch of colours and language. Anushka Sharma as you will read everywhere has given a lovely debut, I am looking forward to her next film, so many newcomers turn out to be one time wonders. Vinay Pathak was a little underused, but will now be a staunch contender for all supporting roles I suspect. SRK is typical for most of the film, but the capsules of endearing performances peppered throughout are definitely worth a watch.

Tuesday, 9 December, 2008

Dudhwa 2

A picture is more effective than words and it is much easier showing you the beautiful forest than describing it. This is a horribly late entry, and although blogspot uploading SUCKS, I have no excuse. To read the first part go here.

With marshy lands as well as dense forest cover Dudhwa is a birders paradise. Besides the 500 species of birds it is home to endangered species such as Rhinos, Leopards, Tigers, Swamp deer (Barasinga), Bengal Florican and Black Necked Stork. Being as yet untouched by excessive tourism it is easy to feel one with the forest and notice small things like cobwebs, the lovely pattern of fallen leaves and twisted liana that caught my fancy.

I have already talked about the biting cold and lack of electricity. Such conditions for a compulsive bathing fiend like me are... well... painful. The water made your bum numb. There were people who were shit scared of shitting, for 6 DAYS!Believe me you do not want to live in the same room as them.

At 5:15 am the next day, I was surprised that we were actually walking IN the national park, something I could not do anywhere else. Narrow paths with towering elephant grass . An Elephant could be standing 4ft away from me and I would not know it. Every animal sees you, while you strain to spot one. I can proudly say atleast 2 tigers spotted me during my stay there!

Thanks to the cheap thrills of my sad life though, we hit a jackpot. I thought it would be fun to perch on the roof of the bus, completely forgetting how a continuous driving wind in this climate would make bodily functions like breathing null and void. Peering into the vegetation willing for some animal to appear Trish and I saw the ghostly golden form melt into the bush like magic. The leopard had been trying to cross the path to a waterhole on the other side, when our clanking vehicle disturbed it. For the rest of the day we had annoyingly smug grins plastered on our faces while the rest of the kids threw us envious looks.

Rhino's had to be seen on a perch of a different sort. I was on Pushpakali, whose mahout, Lallan was a peppery old man, good at spotting birds. A naughty baby tusker, Batalik, born on the day the Kargil war ended, followed us. Lallan kept throwing dirty looks at my handling of the camera. But for heaven sake!!!! Balancing in a tiny space 9ft above the ground on a bumpy elephant trying to focus your shot without crashing to the ground or dropping the cam is no mean feat. Especially as you will invariably find yourself on the wrong side of the Elephant with all the action happening the other side. Yet I managed that one decent one in the slide show above!!! Photography kills the naturalist in you, as I was soon made to realize. At first I used to reach for the binocs, but now I grab at the camera to capture through the lens, before observing with the eye. One may say that once the picture is taken it can be observed at leisure forever. It’s not the same thing. We used to jump out of jeeps, run down pathways or stay rooted to the spot clicking as many as 20 pics of the same creature at a time. Photography is like a drug addiction. You have to get your shot, and get it right or you get depressed and irritated. If you manage to get it, it’s the best high in the world.

Thursday, 27 November, 2008

C’est La Vie:

It’s been a while, but blogging would require doing what I have been constantly doing and loathe doing now, typing away on Microsoft Word.

The life of an intern: overworked, unpaid, embarrassing, unquestioning.

It has been a complicated month and since I’m in no mood to write a balanced or subtle narrative, a disclaimer is due I think. Disclaimer: This post does not pretend to be anything at all. It is written just as things are, hence C’est la vie!

Hobnobbing with top celebs, attending fashion shows, tasting exquisite Belgian chocolates and having wine sent home; my friends looked murderously at me every time I wanted to complain, hence you, my dear readers, will have to bear the brunt of it.

First of all there is nothing like a celebrity to make you feel insignificant. Those who don't hate us,condescend us, often with good reason. ‘Kaisa lagta hai aapko” is still the most oft asked question and the hoard of sycophant reporters make you puke as they fawn over stars. Fashion shows are extremely scary when it is your first. My only exposure to the Page 3 world being the damned film, I was lost in a sequined sea of those almost famous, not being able to match any of the names to the faces and in constant fear of missing out on an insignificant utterance that could be manufactured into a quote. Thankfully, two enthusiastic boys supplied names of the models, looking pityingly at me in the brief intervals the ramp was empty, but even they could not help with deciphering the fashion trends to someone who hasn’t embraced anything trendier than regular blue jeans. As free booze beckoned, I succumbed; drowning my miseries in glass after glass of Chivas Regal (yesh freeloaders, I know) and this is what my notes looked like next morning.

1) Green…. brown stick-dance

2) Cocktail dresses? Headbands and big glares

3) Deepanita shaw? Sharma . check… Candice Pinto… Jesse what?

4) Rakshanda Khan?

5) Yellow… black…risqué

6) Skipping ropes…..

7) Retro or Traditional bridal wear?

8) Virginal bride kinda stuff, white.

Pray how does one write a fashion piece in half an hour with this? Your enterprising journalist wrote a confident piece on Hemant Trivedi’s fashion fiesta with all the correct nomenclature. Yes I did not know who Hemant Trivedi was either. Thank the powers that be for this wonderful thing called press release. That was how most of the articles made the deadline. Skim wikipedia, write a four line intro and fill the rest in with quotes, quotes and more quotes.

If you are disgusted by this sort of slap dash reporting, so am I. But don’t blame the lay reporter for the crap you see in newspapers. What is one to do when one is told to submit about six articles in four days on topics varying from the price of gold to karvachauth fashion, astronomy Olympiads, art exhibitions and NGO fairs? Let me not even begin on how at a moments notice we travel far and wide on trusty two wheelers around the congested city paying for our own fuel, ending up at events and interviews looking like bedraggled cats.

At least you get the bylines, said co-interns! Right! That is the most embarrassing part, having an already mediocre piece edited by co-workers who think Sidney Sheldon is the epitome of English literature (no kidding) being printed with my name on it, for the rest of the sane world to wake up to every morning is definitely NOT a perk.

A story on blind career women was shot down as being too serious instead I had the supremely important task of calling Pesi Shroff to ask what his wife might be wearing for the Derby. The life of an intern is to do or die, and not to ask why. I am not trying to make some sort of pseudo- intellectual statement here by saying writing tear-jerkers about the poor, maimed, wronged is the only thing to be taken seriously in journalism. Features are not less important than news. Newsweek; the highly acclaimed international magazine edited by Fareed Zakaria carries wonderful feature stories. My problem is that features are NOT to be treated as reporting where you write a story everyday. RESEARCH material, take a little time to THINK and write something original about the very topics that I have mentioned above. Unfortunately filling pages comes first even if they are filled with recounting Mughda Godse’s last delicious meal. Of course you may get lucky and have loads of advertisements, so your story won’t be needed after all.

So why do we do it? I don’t know yet, Id like to say it is only because journalists like Jacques Pauw

still inspire me, because the flip side is I also get to hobnob with traffic cops and rickshaw drivers, with confident, articulate blind girls, with 14 year old kids who enjoy solving physics problems for 13 hours a day and hold their own in a conversation with established Astronomers, because an 18yr old migrant from Bengal working 12 hours a day everyday for a pittance got a bonus after an article, because all these people add so much variety and colour and have so many stories to tell. But these are rehearsed answers,which sound nice. At the end of it all the answer would be what a dear friend told me consolingly “We do what we do because that’s what we do.”

p.s. (I realize it is an insanely long post for someone who is supposedly sick of writing!)

Thursday, 11 September, 2008

Collision Course

Wooo Hoooo......This has got to be the geekiest rap, it's too adorable to hate. Katie McAlpine, 23 is a Michigan State University graduate who made a rap video about the Big Bang Test Project. It has over 3 million views on Youtube and has approval from CERN for it's scientific accuracy. OR

The rest of this post, is PURE RAMBLE.... don't blame me, if the Big Bang theory was intriguing in it's ambiguity in 6th std, now it fairly makes my head Spiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnn.

First there was nothing, then there was something, now we are trying to prove that something was created out of nothing and in doing so, we may go back to nothingness again. How can people not be more excited?

We have two options. Either we were created from a black void that exploded, or God made us.

Now caaamman... be honest, which one would you choose? The first one is way cooler no?

Scientists have built a $9 million Large Hadron Collider. You purposely smash stuff together, (sub atomic particles) to create a BIG BANG. (simulate the conditions during the origin of the universe, mass, matter etc.) Quite like when you were 5, or atleast when I was!

Discovering the origin of our existence, would lead to the answer to our existence. There would be no need for God-men and Holy books to interpret the meaning of life and create wars.

In 6th we learnt about the 'God Particle' the unknown factor in the creation of the universe. The Big Bang Theory states that, the universe started from a single point, and has been expanding ever since. Later Genius and I used to try going to that single point. We closed our eyes and with great intensity, backward tranced.

The medieval age, the first man, dinosaurs age, plants, micro organisms, universe, one star, gases……blank.

Ernest little kids that we were, those trances rendered us speechless later. There was sooo much we did not know, so much that would be left unnamed/unidentified/unknown.

What held the universe together?

Where did anti matter go?

Did this mean there were other dimensions?

Did this make time irrelevant?

What if this is not my only life?

What if time is an illusion?

Would we need this method of life?

Would the rules be the same?

WHAT IF I wake up to know I don’t need to go to school/college, I don’t need to associate with people the way I do, I don’t have to follow a social structure because life doesn’t have to be this way, the world doesn’t have to be this way, the universe is not this way?

What if, what we find out changes our way of thinking?

Would all this ruin all our studies in Psychology? Economics? Sociology? Politics?

Or would it liberate us from this trap of a world.

In the 11th Science suffocated me. Theories interested but practicals eluded me. Anti matter was cool, as long as Dan Brown wrote about it.

Now the theory is back with a bang and people are afraid it may spell doom.

Even if it does, would not that by itself prove something, besides what better way of dying than everyone together in one painless moment? No waiting for death, decay and disease.

No one left behind to mourn.

God will punish us for finding out what he knows by creating a black hole?

Yeah right, floods, earthquakes, nuclear weapons and terrorism were really getting boring.

Anyway I tumbled out of bed this morning and the world was still the same.

Sunday, 31 August, 2008

Why It Rocked!!!

This review of mine ventured out of this blog to get accepted in a film website called Passion for Cinema. Click on the link below to view it.

I had been waiting impatiently for this films release. When Farhan Akhtar is associated with anything, the venture may be good or bad, but it will always be different and definitely not boring. I expected to get my moneys worth for this one, and did!

The story is simple enough, about 4 friends parting and re uniting to live their dream. The events and climax predictable.

What makes this film unique is that it touches upon the little explored area of Rock culture in India. Which may have just an urban market, but a immensely burgeoning market nevertheless. Here we have a film actually trying to give Rock the dignity and maturity it so desperately lacks in India, for it to be taken seriously.

Considering Director Abhishek Kapoors previous film was the forgettable Aryan, his skills must have improved in massive leaps and bounds as controlled direction was THE thing that guided a relatively straightforward and unassuming script to a heart warming screenplay.

Besides he remains the only director who finally understood how to use Arjun Rampal. The actor with the hot body and voice is given few lines, and a brooding intense character that maximizes his sizzling screen presence but cuts down on his obvious lack of acting skills.

Farhan Akhtar has glided smoothly from being director to an actor and singer. The steady delivery of dialogues, tense body language and extremely refreshing singing was sheer pleasure to watch.

Purab Koli and and Luke Kenny play slightly weak characters but scrape through admirably, Purab Kholi as the happy go lucky Killer Drummer brings a smile to your face more than once.

Shahana Goswami and Prachi Desai though take the cake in their first meaty roles. The film portrays martial discord realistically without giving way to melodrama.

The low points of this film are the length, that drags the first half and the lack of lighter moments, which are too few and far between. Also the sets seem too stylish and pristine to look like a comfortable home. A little more clever editing and the film would have been brilliant not just good.

Rock on is fresh, in its characterization, in the portrayal of its conflicts, in its attempt to touch upon the resolution and make light of clichéd reasons for rifts in relationships.

In its attempt to bring rock a little closer to the Indian masses.

The Music:

People seem to have two complaints with the film’s music,

The first being that the lyrics are too shallow and childish, second, the music is not really rock. While I was watching the film I knew this pseudo debate about pure rock music would arise. I would like to add my 2 bits to it.

To appreciate ROCK ON look at the crap that we have had to sit through for months when it comes to Indian Cinema. Turn on the radio and it is an insult to listen to the popular playlist.

Rarely in recent times has anyone had the guts to try re inventing music instead of re hashing and remixing.

In the name of rock in India, we have dysfunctional bands screeching out covers of Lamb of God and Cradle of Filth and such non sense. Their safe haven still remains Guns n Roses! Their idea of rock is drums that drown the vocalist and a vocalist playing leap frog and squeaking out screeches to be noticed.

They take a pattern formulated for another country steeped in another culture and try to transplant it here, without moving a finger to try and re invent, and then complain that there is no market here. You play what has been played better, by bands decades before you were born, and expect me to buy your music instead?

Listen to German rock, listen to Russian rock, it may not be popular over the world but atleast they made a hit in their country. These fizzle out here. Bands from the UK and USA are all we know because these countries economy supports selling and branding on a scale incomparable to other economies.

Listen to rock music, the beauty of it lies in simple poetry being emphasized by powerful music. It lies in the quirky themes and bizarre metaphors, it lies in blurring the line between fantasy and reality, and these requirements are ably met by the song Sindbad the Sailor and Socha Hai.

It is not a perfect film, far from it, but it is a brave film, it is a refreshing film, in so much that it does NOT try to show the clichéd drugs/sex/scandal/piercing/tattoos and immaturity associated with Rock music.

Friday, 22 August, 2008

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na

Kinda late with this, but....

Some seriously stoned people made this film. The story just rambles, switching abruptly in the second half from one situation to another till you wonder what happened to the film you were watching. Imran Khan is called ‘Rats’ by a very possessive Genelia D‘souza who in turn is called ‘Meow’ and “no one else is allowed to call them that!” What are they? Like 7 ???

Trying to make it a perfect launch pad for pretty boy Imran Khan, the film has tried to go by text book format. It is the same old wine; in the same old bloody bottle. Even the whole story within a story is so similar to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Two young kids are meant for one another, but don’t know it! The ‘friendly relations’ shown between them is too sickeningly sweet and sugary to be taken seriously. Shah Rukh and Kajol did a much better job in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai at being ‘just friends’. Manjari and Ayaz Khan play a slightly twisted Rani and Salman to the main duo. The former is annoying, with her excessive girlishness and the latter tolerable.

As the much aired songs are the only high point in the film, the script just takes long strides from one song to another, the story between reduced to a hurried hash. The acting is terrible: hyper college yuppies with shrill astonished voices to register every emotion, from despair, to happiness, to anger and surprise! Naseerudin Shah, Paresh Rawal, Arbass Khan and Sohail Khan are wasted in characters that just bumble along disrupting an already screwed up film. Only Pratiek Babbar, who plays Genelia’s brother, a social misfit, is refreshing and comes across as a very pleasant surprise! His dialogues are a caustic whiplash, delivered in a disarming way.

I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the movie; rather I enjoyed the experience only for one reason, Seriously Twisted Humour! Also nice style of clothing. Naseerudin Shah is a dead husband who speaks out of the frame to his wife, exactly like Priyanka Tendulkar in the sitcom ‘Hum Paanch’. And the whole Rajput connection which becomes a mini film of it’s own in the second half is bizarre! Ratna Pathak is a human rights activist with very extremist child rearing ideas. The climax is a RIOT! A pukka, filmy riot.

You laugh not at the jokes, but at the ridiculousness of those jokes. You laugh not at the funny situation, but the thought that some one could come up with that situation! The film tries very hard to engage you, and funnily enough, somewhere along the lines it does.