White noise is a random signal (or process) with a flat power spectral density. In other words, the signal's power spectral density has equal power in any band, at any center frequency, having a given bandwidth. White noise is considered analogous to white light which contains all frequencies.

Who am I?

Neo-hippie cinephile. Follower of the great Jim Morrison who once said "If the doors of perception are cleansed, everything would appear to man as it truly is, infinite."

Monday, December 31, 2007

2007

2007 has been probably the most cathartic of all my years. It had the ingredients of the quintessential blockbuster - an utterly difficult and redundant course, love, crazy phone bills, fulfilled cravings of my wanderlusting soul, job frustration, theater, cricketing shame, transhumance, heartbreak, regular blogging as a result of heartbreak, altering senses of fashion, comparatively extreme workout, cricketing history, friendlessness, frustration again - job and present company related, and then finally a little sunny hole of hope to escape the mundaneness of it all. Oh, and it was punctuated with more movie watching than ever before.

The year began with a mistake - a course I didn't need to take whatsoever, but took anyway as if my bank balance was looking too pretty. Salvation appeared in terms of a love affair that was threatening to bloom for a while, but was hesitating like a diabetic with chocolate. Anyway, it bloomed and so did the telephone bills. May saw me sunbathing in Daytona with a few college buddies and reveling in the apparent triviality that is born out of four years of familiarity.

On returning to work, I wanted to be in a warmer environment, and I am not just talking about the weather. The Men in Blue trashed a billion fanatical expectations and the neighbor's coach lost his life. What followed was a personal ban on anything crickety. Lack of exciting hobbies generated a sudden love for theater followed by a lot of theater attendance and even a little bit of rehearsal of a gravely existential role. The role was cut short by an alarming change in zip code but not before I got high secretly in terrific twin religious ironies sitting in the makeshift pavilion of a Pakistani cricket team somewhere among the peaceful mountains of Salt Lake City.

The India trip was the crescendo of the personal life, sandwiched with a beautiful trip to a little village called Tarkarli on the wet West coast of the country, but the destination hardly mattered. True to the sinusoidal nature of the rest of the year began a period of introspection, supposed philosophy and helplessness as the flower was nipped. As the purists say, no regrets and if anything, this period made me want to classify the heart and the mind as senses. Blogging became an almost embarrassing regularity. People other than friends or cousins started reading White Noise, doing amazing things to a hurt ego. Denial saw me going for James Dean slim straight jeans rather than the previous boot cut favorite and running rather than making others run on the racketball and tennis courts.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni did a Kapil with cricketing minors and I will never forget that three way ecstatic, unbelieving hug with the W and Prof as Misbah found the Mallu on the field. Memories of friends who shared the other half of the year with me kept bugging me at times, especially with the gross ability of the new one to small talk. The environment was warm, but still not satisfying, ushering in a certain life altering madness, which will be fulfilled the coming year. Here's hoping all you readers have a rocking '008 and keep coming back to White Noise :)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Snow Bite

Just saw Fargo and on a day when the Californian sun is putting on teenage pop sensation airs and hiding somewhere behind the somber gray canvas, I can't help but admire the nonchalance of the cast in bounding about in more than ankle deep snow, from under my comforter. The 'true' story is set in Minnesota and North Dakota in the peak of winter, which couldn't have been too comforting for the Hollywood cast more at home sipping lemonade under the shade of tall palm Los Angelian trees.

Since moving to this 'promised' land, I have received copious grief from my fellow countrymen (mostly countrywomen actually) for not appreciating snow. Granted I lost my snow virginity as late as the first year of college, but the experience and the few ones after that that I have been through have failed to warm me to frigidophilia. Maybe it has something to do with that 3:00 am phone call I received on my barely functional dorm landline from a friend 'lucky' enough to be studying for a next day test in the library. Grumpy at first, and then shaking from the cold and the anticipation of the first sight of snow, I tittered my way to the window to be greeted by one of the most depressing sights since the visuals of Schindler's List. There was a lot of precipitation, which actually looked like the feces of a diarrhea afflicted herd of birds, falling from a surprisingly unnaturally lit sky, which hurt my sleepy eyes. I flopped back on my bed and snugly fell asleep under my warm sheets. The library friend was cross with me the next morning for not sliding down the frozen Hill in the middle of our campus, holding her hand (yeah yeah OK... I embellished the hand bit to spice things up) along with scores of other Asian students.

After graduating, I moved to this watershed (or should I say iceshed) of nothing of a place, much like the locales showcased in Fargo. No, I wasn't hiding from the FBI, but had landed a decent job there. At work too, I was hounded by apparently romantic Indian coworkers and called heartless and non appreciative of all those Yash Chopra Switzerland song sequences. The only thing worse than walking in the snow is driving in the snow, especially if your car is a rear wheel drive. But before you can drive, you have to scrape the windshield with something that you would rather use on 'romantic' coworkers at the time, while you let the engine heat up. If you think it's safer to take the highway home even though its a longer route, think again. Cars will crawl at a velocity of not more than 20 mph, yes on the highway! Snow tires are too expensive an option for a place that receives sporadic precipitation as 'legend' has it that it used to be a desert 200 years ago. And apparently, ensuring roads devoid of snow is also an expensive option for the state government, more expensive than the lives of a few paltry inconsequential drivers.

I am glad to say that I had to contend with only one winter there, and today aside, winter hardly feels like its cold self here in California. Winter here is more like the one you would find in Delhi, albeit a few degrees lesser. I have lesser demons with that than with that white slushy poison flowing through the heartland of the country. So, if any of my prospective future brides is reading this by any slim chance, you can forget about that honeymoon trip to Vienna, or that Alaskan cruise, or even that shikara ride in the Dal Lake, honey.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Door in the Wall

You stare at me as I walk by
With the longing of a long lost lover,
Calling out with promises of unvanquished worlds
Of pavements of hope strewn with silver ladders,
And of virgin sun-kissed peaks of nearby mountains.

Age has robbed you of your magnet
And now you blend in perfectly
With those withered dead winter leaves
On the face of that murky deadpan wall -
The sole witness to the harshness of Time.

There have been countless dreamers
Who have walked up to you and
Taken the attraction a step further.
But there was your lonely beauty back then.
Why am I standing at your doorstep?

Maybe there is misery untold
On the other side of that murky wall
And you are contraception against the blackness
But I am a little fatigued from all this beige
And would sell my spleen to discover.

So I stand here and wonder
Whether you open inside or out.
And if my seemingly gutty spleen is worth it.
Your disclaimer is announced in guttural creaks
As my lips turn with your knob.

12/26/2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Piercing and Musings

At an age when most male Engineers hunt women in clubs and cram for the GMAT in order to make it to the Ivy League business schools, I seem to be caught in what can only be termed as a late liberating explosion. Most men grow their hair and explore surrealistic poetry in college, but I was too busy trying to graduate too quickly, maybe for my own good. The semesters flew by too quickly for me to stop and gaze at the birds and think about their journeys and destinations.

The hair's longer now than it has ever been for maybe twenty years now (there is photographic evidence of a pony tailed young me trying to stimulate some inactive big hairy teddy bear). Mind you, this post is in no way an advertisement for the upcoming Rambo movie, but I can't help but envy Stallone for his equine dark mane from the 80's. Sources claim that he copied his from Che's, but since he was a Badass All American hero kicking Communist derrieres through Vietnamese humidity and Afghani dryness, this copyright infringement had to be hushed up. If all the different hairstyles under the Sun, were on display in Walmart in some parallel universe (then the Sun would have to be replaced by the central star of that universe, of course), I would undoubtedly squeal like a little girl and pick Rambo's hair.

Why the long hair, you ask me? I can assure you it has nothing to do with any fascination I harbor for Rockstar looks. Nowadays, I have started believing that cutting your hair is going against nature's order. Of course you are going to say that I should do away with shaving as well in light of that argument, but facial hair makes me look older (and wiser?) than I am, which is against the natural order of things. Yesterday at some point during silence filled rides, my glances at the W's rear view mirror told me that what lacked the visage was a little metal transparent moon peeking out from within the Ramboan locks. A full circle that represents life in totality with me only on the cusp of it all (hopefully).

So, I went and did it, or rather got it done. Trying not to betray my emotions to the jewelery store salesman, I asked him as matter of factly as I could whether the piercing would hurt. Wary of any lawsuits I might be planning in case my experience turned out any way other than exactly his prediction, he seesawed his right palm. I debated mentally for a minute and then with an exasperated 'Bhat the haell!' asked him to drill the hole. He then explained that I needed to wear a stud for a minimum of two weeks before I could wear the little moon, since the gun would drill the shiny substitute into the vicinity of where my right right sideburn ended. So, I had to choose the least bling of them all. This one isn't completely gold, nor is it completely silver, but it twinkles under the Californian sun.

If you are a visual person, please consider the following lines in slow motion punctuated by shots of me shaking my hirsute head a la Bachhan in Hum. I closed my eyes in anticipation of the sweet pain. After what seemed like very long four or five seconds, I heard a gunshot. Granted this was only eleven in the morning, but I wasn't in a very safe neighborhood. I opened my eyes to make sure the jeweler's safe was err, safe. Then it came, as if meekly ushered in by the bang, and lingered strongly for a couple of seconds before rushing into the background. And just like that, I was, I mean had, a stud. I had now officially joined the exclusive club of men whose smile is matched by the brilliance of their ear pierce, and the even more exclusive one of Desi men who are pierced.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Thank You

Just saw The Kite Runner (yes, I am sure the book was better, but I haven't read it) and it has brought memories to the surface otherwise kept bottled up somewhere deep inside, maybe for the best, well, at least emotionally speaking. Most infants first conjure up the images of only two people in their first couple of years - the two people responsible for their existence. As far back as I can remember, I was under the impression that all kids are in close contact with three people. I thought everyone had their own version of Tapan Kaku.

He isn't a blood relation, but was at some point closer than most blood relatives can ever come to be. His uncle was a full time homemaker for our family when Papa was growing up. The uncle was succeeded by his elder nephew, and ultimately by Tapan Kaku from Mednapur, which happened to be just 6 months before I came into the family. So you could say we started pretty much at the same time. With his arrival and quick grasp of Amma's expert training, especially in the kitchen, Mum could now afford the luxury of working in a 9-5 job. My grandparents were Kaku and Kakima to him, my parents Dada and Boudi and my aunts Mejdi and Chunidi. My cousins called him Tapan Mama.

Many of the photographs of my childhood albums feature him in his constant pose - standing to the corner in his off-white pajamas and smiling shyly through his stubble, whether it be a birthday party, or me playing cricket, or even admiring the flora of Amma's garden. Over time, he perfected the ingredients in Amma's patented recipes like the right amount of coconut in her narkoler mishti, or the precise quantity of oil that would fry the potatoes just the way Papa likes it with his khichuri. My favorites were his Aloo Postho and Shujir Payesh. He also became our in house electrician, by simply observing visiting ones at work, and later on the in house mechanic for the family car, much the same way.

When it was time for me to attend school, his penchant for perfectionism came out with invigorating fury. There are stories of aghast bus conductors looking on as he proceeded to give me an earful for procuring a 9/10 in dictation. Teachers would inquire about him to Mum when they met her, since he would quiz them on regular intervals regarding my performance in those juvenile classes. My swimming instructor felt marginalized by his enthusiastic poolside presence.

Over time, he followed in his elder brother's footsteps and landed a clerical job in the company where Dadu was some kind of big shot. Then we moved to Muscat when I was 8. I remember wetting many a pillow cover in those initial few months after the move, remembering him, among other people. We kept meeting on our annual trips back home but over the decade the meetings reduced as we got busy in our respective lives. I remember being really scared this one summer when he got sick and had to be admitted to the hospital, but that didn't keep him out of action for too long, and he continued to bring me those mind-numbing sweets from Ganguram, which is next to his office.

He is married now and has a couple of school-going kids, with whom he lives in the house he has built, somewhere on the outskirts of Calcutta . His curly hair has thinned at exponential pace, and he has a slight paunch to go with his new pencil thin mustache, but that doesn't stop him from coming over on Sundays to keep a tab on my octogenarian grandparents. He still bakes his famous Inframatic butter cake on Sundays when I visit. He asks me to visit his house every time and I blame the tight schedule and say 'Porer Bar'. Recently, we had the rare opportunity to catch up on the phone. I had called to extend my pronam to my grandparents on the occasion of Bijoya. No one was at home. We didn't recognize each other's voices and with realization came a few seconds of shameful silence at either end, before we both resorted to usual Bijoya greetings and small talk.

I have never once thanked him, for anything. Maybe, I will just take the convenient route and blame our anti-sentimental society for that. All I can do now is slip him some money asking him to buy something nice for his kids when both his hands are busy washing some dishes, to refuse the compensation, which in any case is too little for all he has done. I know he will never read this, but this is my way of saying "Thanks for everything, Tapan Kaku", maybe more for myself than for him, before I break down again.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lennon's Arrogant Wetting of Capitalism's Existential Bed

I wet my bed the other night. It's not what you are thinking, or even you, alias changing commenter (henceforth known as ACC). I was merely quenching my thirst (again no pun intended, ACC) when I sneezed and I just happened to be physically near my abode of nocturnal rest, thus rendering the blue sheets with their galactic objects moist, which is pretty ironic since hydrogen and oxygen, the parents of water, haven't actually been proven to exist in space yet despite the color of my sheets.

Lennon seemed to look down from the wall with his usual calm, though slightly amused at my Laurel and Hardian ways. He has been ignoring me since the day I stopped rocking my weeping guitar on my lap, despite its rich dark brown beauty with an ethnic green circle in the middle reminiscent of tanned Indians before Columbus brought the plague here. I had Lennon placed there so that I would wake up each morning and read the lyrics of Imagine etched right next to him. Little did I imagine at the time that my eyes would completely open only when I had to drive to work, and sometimes not even then.

Talking of Columbus, Bhatija informed me today with almost as much pent up frustration as most Indian men harbor on the day before their wedding, that cnn.com had results of Britney's sister's pregnancy test in their index page, and that they had been OD-ing faithful readers such as himself on much Britney news over the past month or so. The W feels its one of the evils of an exclusively Capitalist economy and that a balance is required, fearing the worst for the Wall Street Journal since it has just been purchased by that obscenely loaded murderer of socialism - Rupert Murdoch. As always, I didn't really care deep down inside, but made some seemingly intelligent economic comment about demand and supply.

The Dell printer, forever a symbol of aggressive marketing of its maker, had arrived like most guests at an Indian wedding - uninvited (Don't ask me why all the metaphors have something to do with Indian weddings today). For once, listening to my kindly heart, I had taken it in, nurtured it with many a cartridge over the two years - color as well as black and white, but had never really used it that much. The thrill of using company stationary had always offset its use, so much so that the ink began to dry like Bhuvan's cricket-virgin land. Now it just stood mute without any apparent sense of purpose like those decorative couch cushions that you have to deal with after (sh!@ here I go again) marriage. However, the secret is that it does have a purpose. Objects like that always have a purpose in middle class homes (yeah, OK, apartments). In this one, it serves to keep the malfunctioning switch of a three story lamp in the reluctant on position. My god! Sartre would have been proud of that existential reference, no? Am I turning into an arrogant prick? Maybe everyone is arrogant, but the ones that are called arrogant are just bad at hiding the arrogance. I am going to define arrogance as the lack of ability to make small talk. You don't agree? Oh well, I am too arrogant to care.

Arrogance is the reason I will skip Welcome and watch only Taare Zameen Pe this weekend, as it would be insult to the latter to even juxtaposition the two in one's schedule. Arrogance is the reason I am trying out this no meat policy because the damned chickens, lambs, cows or goats of this world are not bigger than my bloated ego. I don't really care how badly they are treated in slaughter houses. Ms. Manekha Gandhi, if you are reading this, you will be glad to know they have gyms solely for dogs in NYC where overweight members of the canine species run on treadmills. Yes, some people literally go to the gym to check out the bitches. You can try taking that up with the BJP for the next elections, who I am sure would prescribe gyms with equal facilities for dogs of all religions and overlook urbanity or rurality in building these. Arrogance is also the reason an octogenarian is the head of the opposition in our great land. Arrogance is the reason I claim to readers who have no way of checking that my Xbox, oh sorry Xbox 360 has gathered more dust than the books on my bookshelf. Arrogance is the reason I tip like a royal at the shadiest of restaurants. Arrogance is the reason I distribute part of my wealth at the poker table after winning a handsome pot. Arrogance is the reason I like my Scotch "on the rocks, with very little ice". Arrogance is the reason I flaunt my middle-classness with as much eagerness as I flaunt my long sideburns to effeminate Chinese men. Arrogance is the reason I am going to end this post with utter abruptness.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Find Me Guilty

Just saw this beautiful beautiful movie that has rekindled the mind after being down and out for pretty much the whole day. Vin Diesel, looking nothing like his hairless muscled self, turns in one of the best performances I have seen as small time goon Jackie Di. And like all those unbelievable stories, this one is true as well. The saying is true. Truth does make fiction look as bland as baby food.

Jackie Di (no relation to Lady Di) is in prison for selling coke. The public prosecutor, driven by some sadistic sense of justice, wants to nail the biggest mob family of 80's New Jersey. There is only one problem. He has absolutely no proof whatsoever. Not to be undone, he undertakes the project of arm twisting Jacky Di in order to procure a confession. However, our hero is not willing to sell out his 'family', even though they marginalize him continuously. There are more defendants than can be counted with one's fingers, and some of them have high profile lawyers. Jackie D, armed with a Grade 6 education and copious amounts of humor and charm, decides to defend himself. The trial lasted a record breaking two years, with lots of drama to boot like hospital beds in the courtroom and irreproachable swearing by the protagonist, resulting in grave contempt of the court. The jury stumps all parties involved by reaching a decision in comparatively lighting quick time. Sidney Lumet's masterpiece also has a brilliant performance by Peter Dinklage as the midget chief council of the defendants, a metaphor for the David and Goliath story. It's refreshing to see him do justice to a serious role rather than running around in green tights or some kind of clown outfit. The movie ends on an ironic sliver of hope. Personally, this anti-establishment saga couldn't have come after a more horrible day at work. Maybe that was part of the charm. Also pointed out how trivial all my worries are compared to that of so many other people in this world.

What saddens me is that this movie only has a rating of 7.1 on IMDB, even as I Am Legend, whose USP is men turning into canine-feasting zombies, becomes the biggest opener of December ever and the very juvenile Alvin and the Chipmunks already grosses 14 times more than a great movie like No Country for Old Men. I guess this just proves that the general audience everywhere just looks at a movie as a two to three hour popcorn crunching experience that has GOT to entertain them, rather than as a work of art, as memories of the old Aunty next to me sobbing like it was her wedding day during the closing sequences of Aaja Nachle still haunt me.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Khoya Khoya Chand

I was told KKC was a pathetic film with horrible acting by the two leads. However, I must say my expectations were not really lowered because of this in any way since my opinions of films aren't exactly what you would call conformist. The film is Sudhir Mishra's epitaph to the starlets and filmmakers during the adolescence of Indian Cinema - the 50's, or so he claims in his blog. However, I am not so sure about that. Having watched the film, I think he got confused mid-way about whether he wanted to create an ode to the era, or showcase the tragedy of the life of a starlet, fighting with herself to transform into a woman (in the classical sense), and an actress.

I will not delve into the purity of the music, which has been discussed fairly in detail, at least in the literature I have chanced upon online. Like you come to expect in most of Sudhirbhai's films, the cinematography is top class. The use of softer and gaudy lighting in specific sequences manages to portray the mood of the characters effectively. Once the screenplay shakes off its initial inertia of rest, it flows quite nicely. The editing is choppy to start off, but ends up mellowing down later. For any period film to succeed, it goes without saying that its art department has to do a good job. KKC's art was meticulously chosen, whether it was a poster of Awara tittering in some late night breeze, or the Filmfare magazine covers of the time. Also, the director's honesty in portraying the bedroom scenes makes them realistic enough to make them believable.

The greatest strength of the film is Soha Ali Khan. I had refallen in love - with her mother after watching Amar Prem recently. What can I say other than that I have fallen again. Not only did she look delicately beautiful, her acting seems to have improved leaps and bounds from her Rang De Basanti days where she was decent. She manages to give us a peek into a troubled girl's haphazard mental state, and thus seemingly, random priorities. This may very well have been the reason why the most memorable scene for me was that of her and Rajat Kapoor on a moonlit terrace, even though Shiney Ahuja played the male lead. The rest of the casting is also near perfect, though, Ahuja is superficial in parts, but good in others. Maybe he did this in order to shake off his tragic hero tag. Who knows! Vinay Pathak (minus buddy Ranveer this time) does an excellent soft portrayal of Shyamol. Your heart really goes out to him in the scenes towards the end. Rajat Kapoor exudes charm and hides his dark intentions well in his gentlemanly facade.

Even though I would not have advocated the amount of attention Ahuja's Zafar got in the plot, I can't help but feel for him. Anurag Kashyap claims in his blog that this character was partly based on the great poet Sahir Ludhianvi. His frustration at not being able to sell meaningful cinema to the audience of that era, mainly a sucker for escapism, is really heart rendering. If only, he was born twenty years later, he could have at least dipped his fingers into the satisfying pot of what has come to be known as 'parallel cinema'. The ending is most ironic for this character, though it has a positive undertone for Khan's Nikhat. During the middle of the second half of the movie, the W suddenly turned to me and called Zafar the C word. This just shows how layered this character has been made and that you really need to look within him to understand his actions. In fact, the script is a lesson in itself in character building.

I liked the film quite a bit. Apparently the budget was very low, and in that light the achievements of the film are even more poignant. I doubt this film would be a box office success, even with its low budget, which is ironic because Sudhirbhai would then be in the same boast as his Zafar. Please don't judge this film against the yardstick of the filmmaker's recent works like Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi and Chameli. All three are different films about different people, and it wouldn't be fair to these people.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Wet Novel

6:00 AM is not a very comfortable time to wake up, even if it is in the relatively warmer winters of San Francisco. Yet, as one of the middle frequencies of the radio that not too many people use as their alarm starts crooning a Middle Eastern beat, he curses, turns the offending alarm off and opens his eyes lazily. It is relatively innocent swearing - words that most censor boards around the world would let pass. His wife's ears, after years of this treatment have developed a comfortable immunity to the sound.

Madhyam K. Singh, 'Maddy' to his few colleagues who could also be called friends, had acted out this same routine every weekday for the past few years of his middle-aged existence. The nickname, gifted to him by the funniest of his friends, was meant to inject a little extremity in his otherwise routine life. He curses in his sleep, wakes up, shaves, trims his not too bushy mustache, performs his ablutions, showers for seven minutes, combs his thinning hair at an angle, and then catches the 6:56 train to the Valley. He does all these things in that order every weekday.

Breakfast is always a sugar free donut picked up on the drive through of the nearest Dunkin Robins on his short drive to the station. The donut is eaten on the train while reading a Sidney Sheldon best seller, invariably followed by five seconds of brushing off the crumbs. The scenery outside his nearest window seat, waking up to a new day had never really succeeded in seducing Maddy, always losing out to writers of pulp fiction. He had tried reading Kafka once, way back in college, on the recommendation of classmates who claimed to be completely moved by the author's work. He hadn't gotten past the first few pages and had dismissed the classmates as being pseudo-intellects trying to be blend in with those smelly hippies forever stoned and languishing on campus.

Maddy doesn't think about concepts like job satisfaction, but to say that he loves his work would be exaggeration. He is one of those people who consider the office to be a place that pays you to spend nine hours of the day there. His lack of any great ambition has only afforded him the position of a mid level manager in a semi-technical company after working there almost half of his life, at an age when more ambitious acquaintances have already joined the millionaire club by running their own startups.

Lunch is always a ham sandwich eaten at a table full of his inclusive loud colleagues comparing lunch menus with adolescent glee. He couldn't have been more out of sorts there. His sorry 7 cm by 7 cm sandwich is as bland in comparison to their meals as the portrayal of a widow's life compared to that of a vamp's in 70's Hindi films. It is for this reason that he thanks God for the solitude of his office room as he sips his daily latte at 3:00 pm. He is not a religious man, but when asked the inimitable question, he answers truthfully in his neither deep, nor high pitched voice that he is agnostic.

Almost as if by habit, he leaves the office at 4 o'clock to catch the 4:11 train back home. The evening air has a certain chill to it today that he hasn't experienced before, or maybe he hasn't noticed. He settles down on a nondescript bench, salvaged by some colorful graffiti, at the empty station with his Sidney Sheldon bestseller. After breezing through a rather steamy few pages, a look at his simple leather strapped wrist watch tells him that the train is uncharacteristically late. Just then a woman walks up to his bench.

She has a husky voice accompanied by a thick Eastern European accent. The chill in the air is gradually joined by the cocktailed fragrance of a not so uncommon woman's perfume and the skirmish, yet rich stench of the Marlboro Light she is smoking. As Maddy looks up from his book to tell her the time, he notices that she has on an almost fluorescent purple evening gown with a slit, which does great justice to her long Greek legs. What surprises Maddy is that he doesn't find her gaudy dress repulsive. He remembers a rare episode when he put his foot down. His wife had wanted a royal magenta shawl when they had visited Kulu, but he had thought it to be too "shiny". They had negotiated for fifteen minutes before deciding on a Wimbledon green one.

Inherent conservatism forces him to slide over a little as she sits next to him on the bench. After a couple of awkward silent minutes, Maddy realizes that his reading speed has lessened sufficiently and ultimately, the pages have stopped turning. Furtive sideways glances tell him that she is more interested in savoring what remains of her cigarette than in his reading speed. Overcome by guilt, he quickly turns a page.

Why is he behaving in this novel manner? Not a single administrative assistant at work with their starched business suits and rimless glasses had had this effect on him but make most of his friends go weak in the knees. And his company imports these nubile creatures from England! He doesn't have an unhappy marriage. He watches a rented Hindi movie with his wife every Sunday and they eat out once a week. It can not be a physical attraction. Things are pretty good in the bedroom at home.

The Gods decide to intervene his thoughts with the sound of distant thunder. Another furtive glance tells him that she has a matching purple umbrella while all he has to cover his head is some great literary material he doesn't want to get wet. Meanwhile, there is still no sight of the train as the rain comes petering down wetting his horn-rimmed glasses. He has no choice but to put them in his inside jacket pocket. She is smiling at him now, holding the opened umbrella and standing in the doorway of doubt. He smiles back, shyly at first, and then embarrassedly before consciously sliding towards her, just about as much as not to get most of himself and his book wet, but taking care not to touch her purple gown. "Thank You". "You are most welcome". The warmth generated from the proximity of another human body and that exchange of words brings back some life into his bones.

Just as he is planning his next move in this chess game he is making this out to be, too many things happen at the same time. He watches as a tall, gaunt, completely bald wet man approaches them, apparently out of nowhere, even as he can hear the train whistle its apologies at its tardiness. Her cheeks invoke a dash of rouge as she sees the wet man, half runs to him and hugs him, leaving our protagonist wet, yet sundry. After many expressions of love, the couple board the nearest compartment. Maddy is sitting in the rain, taking in the sights and sounds. He gets up slowly and boards another compartment. The novel is completely wet.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dheemi Dheemi

Fellow blogger Ad Libber wants me to embarrass myself by revealing my diabolical taste in music. Very well. Let's do this.

Rules (as per her):
1. Put your MP3 player/Media player on shuffle
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write the name of the song no matter what.

IF SOMEONE SAYS “IS THIS OKAY?” YOU SAY?
Zindagi Ke Safar Mein Guzar Jaate Hain Jo Log - Kishore Kumar
This is emotional blackmail at its best.

WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
Mann Yeh Baanwra - Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi
Well yes, especially off late.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
Golmaal - Golmaal
Could signify the revelation of a fat fetish, or an affinity for similar crazed minds.

HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
Tadap (Remix) - Darling
Well, this is more the feeling people who meet me experience, especially the ones fortunate enough to be exposed to my PJ's.

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
Bombay Dreams - AR Rahman
Hollywood can wait. Bollywood, here I come!!!

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Ari Ari - Bombay Rockers
As in katti in Bangla. Totally anti-social apparently, or it could mean my Jewish calling, literally.

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
Dream On - Aerosmith
Yeah, totally.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR PARENTS?
Lamhey (Instrumental) - Jal
Yes, they were part of effective moments that ran in the background of my formative years.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
Patti Rap - Roja
Yes of course. The mind is an environment best suited for the cultivation of the cheesiest, randomest things under the sun, and some not yet.

WHAT IS 2+2?
Woh Lamhen Woh Baatein - Some Imran Kissme flick
Yes, during the latter years of college, the mind would invariably wander onto moments lived, or not lived, in the past, while Professors explained complex algorithms on white boards, somehow not influenced by the markers. Maybe they were. I don't know. I was not there mentally.

DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
Maria Maria - Partner
Jahaan dekhi laundiya shuru ho gayi, ahem, dandiya. My best friend wouldn't need enemies after this.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Anjaane - Strings
So true you have no clue.

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
April Come She Will - Paul Simon
Optimism at its height.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Deewangi Deewangi - OSO
So, this is only craziness under development?? *Scratches head.

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Baatein Kuch Ankahee See Hone Lagi - Life in a Metro
Yeah, but the traffic of unspoken words only flows one way in this Metro.

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Kitni Baatein Yaad Aati Hain - Lakshya
Yes, Mum mentions from time to time those modeling offers received when I was 2, and then wonders a little too aloud what happened along the way.

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
Hall Bol - Goal
Looks like I'll be marrying Parminder Nagra. Chalega, as long as she supports Mohun Bagan and not those aliens from across the current border!

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Sharara Sharara - Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai
Of course everyone will be partying at the demise of all the craziness.

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
Mitwa - KANK
Great, now I lost all my heterosexual friends.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
Soni De Nakhre - Partner
Huh? I am a drama queen deep down inside??

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
Aaj Ki Raat Hona Hai Jo Ho Jaane Do - Don (2006)
No questions next morning please.

WHAT SHOULD YOU POST THIS AS?
Dheemi Dheemi - 1947 Earth
A simpering end to a few shocking past moments.

I nominate Mala, Sumant, Puranjoy, GreatBong, Jabberwock and Amit Varma to embark on this soul searching journey.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

In Defense of the Vices

This post is dedicated to Amrish Puri, Prem Chopra and Jeevan, my favorite villains, or should I euphemistically say 'Actors in negative roles', as the industry is forced to put it these days with big names like that six fingered autistic boy or that blue lens wearing Miss India title loser delicate dahhling taking on such roles. Two out of this 'evil' trio had characteristically unique speaking styles and voices, and the other one has to date one of the most memorable lines uttered by a negative character, not to mention the whole aerodynamic bald look.

During the formative years, Mummy and Daddy (yeah yeah OK, Mom and Pop for those of you who were sophisticated li'l brats, or decidedly OD-ed on DDLJ, or both) told you to be a good boy/girl and have more than 50% of these values. At school, all your teachers - from the main ones like your class teacher and math teacher to the fringe ones like the PT sirs and art teachers tried to tell you the same, with promises of social acceptance and similar such humbug that seem like the elixir of life during that pimpled phase of life.

But, let's forget these virtues that are instilled in us like good toilet habits in an urban pet for a minute, and think about whether the vices are really something to stay away from. Leading the pack is Vanity. Apart from being the name of an immensely popular pink woman's magazine, it very innocently refers to just being honest to yourself about how good you actually are. It does things to your confidence that the Wonderbra has been doing to women's chests for decades.

Then there is what the purists call Avarice. C'mon now, we all know that's just a synonym for ambition. If ambition is bad, then Columbus would have died selling pita bread to some olive oil haired gangsters and Gandhi's kids would have been confused people with South African accents. They say Lust is a bad thing. Well, if it was such a horrendous thing, Darwin would have been rushed off to the Ranchi penitentiary in hushed tones and more importantly, we wouldn't even be here - me writing this sacrilegious post, and you reading it. If Genghis Khan, known to systematically and strategically rape and thus expand his empire, had been brought up in a convent that denounced Lust, do you think your child would have toys to play with (notwithstanding the lead), or you would have Gap or Banana Republic clothing to wear?

All those saffron clad gurus who tell you that Wrath is a bad thing and that you should keep it within wraps just like your Mom hides the torn tablecloth when guests visit, have obviously not seen any Amitabh Bachchan movies from the 70's. Nor have they heard of a certain individual called Mamata Bannerjee who, to her credit, can bring the whole of Calcutta to a stop, by just lying on some tar that is as dirty as the policies she is protesting. A source close to her claims that she was voted as most likely to appear on Closeup Antakshari in high school, but alas Fate threw her into Parliament, retaining the same musical mood of course.

If you consider Gluttony a sin, I suggest you try and sell that one to all the homely Indian wives who fast for the well being of their Parmeshwars and then as if to compensate for their supreme sacrifice, gorge on poisonous little goodies dipped in finger smudging ghee thus challenging even the lardy rules of definition of obesity in the US, and to all the pious Muslims who go through a month without gulping down their saliva, or any work assigned to them during the day, and then cause a sharp decrease in the goat population of their neighborhood with their nocturnal escapades in the kitchen.

Envy is the mother of Avarice, and if generations of Indian cinema right from Nirupa Roy through Reema Lagoo to present day Suhasini Mule has taught you anything it is that if the son is so appealing, can Ma ever be repelling? Envy may have only become popular when a white man shaved his head and wore fake horns to tell you that your neighbor fancies your new TV more than your spouse, but she has been nurturing Avarice in her generous bosom ever since Eve wanted to get kinky with Adam and introduced fruits into their bedroom.

My favorite vice by far (yes it's sad that its beats Lust by quite a bit) as previous posts have indicated, is Sloth. To me, it's just criminal to judge someone just because he/she wants to relax a little in life. So what if the building is on fire. A little warmth under those sheets didn't hurt anyone. Besides, if we ran out every time a building was on fire, what would happen to those poor firefighters, waiting in the sidelines to show off their muscular builds to scores of screaming female fans, like some pyromaniac wrestler.

I would like to conclude by saying that a vice is not a bad thing at all. In fact, it is even better than the real deal. Almost any non-dyslexic soul is aware of the greatness of the American President who currently holds office. However, not too many people give due credit to his vice-president, forever lurking in the shadows with his cloak and dagger, who more than embodies each of the above mentioned vices (OK, maybe not Lust). QED.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Musical Salvation

OK...don't blame me for the horrible camera work. In my defense, my hands were too excited and I don't have access to expensive camera equipment. As you would have guessed by the title, you need to have your speakers on, and be ready to squint into the screen.



PS: This is a first

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Dus Kahaniyan

10. Lovedale is a poor effort by debutante director Jasmeet Dodhi. As predictable as the reassurance of the repetitiveness of day and night, this film wastes good actors like Anupam Kher and Anuradha Patel by using them in guest appearances. Aftab and new girl Neha are OK, but are hampered by a weak script.

9. The only thing that Sex on the Beach ends up doing is giving Mallika Sherawat sleepless nights with the appearance of a bikini clad Tareena Patel from what looked like the Arabian Sea. You sympathize with Dino Morea for ending up on the wrong set and turning in a comic performance in this mostly forgettable Apoorva Lakhia snippet.

8. Amitabh Bachhan's multi-ringed right hand makes a special appearance in this soul bearing tete-a-tete of a couple. Mahesh Manjrekar does what he does best - look sleazy and laugh with lustful glee that would make Shakti 'Aauu' Kapoor go red with embarrassment. Neha Dhupia's 'reading the script' acting mars Sanjay Gupta's good twist in the story.

7. The effort is apparent in Hansal Mehta's High on the Highway, but a stronger (in terms of acting) and younger male protagonist would have helped. It is only because of the presence of Jimmy Shergill that Masumeh Makhija ends up looking believable. The script is good and like all drug influence movies, the treatment cannot be commented upon since it is completely subjective.

6. Sanjay Gupta's Matrimony is pretty good. It has a natural performance from Mandira Bedi with a good initial twist, but a somewhat banal ending. Saying too much about the film would generate spoilers but the element of irony creates some bittersweet humor. However, it is a smartly made movie, like most of the director's work with dialog used in day to day life.

5. Gupta and Mehta team up to make Rise and Fall. I was actually not expecting much from this one going by the trailers, but again smart handling, good special effects (which mind you is not really a plus in my book), effective casting (even though it is common knowledge in the Indian film industry that these days you get Suniel Shetty free with Sanju Baba) and some subtle details make this enjoyable. Rumor has it that Suniel Shetty has been hired by JK Rowling to teach Harry Potter some fighting skills with the broom for the next movie after she was impressed with his handling of an umbrella while beating up half a dozen men who needless to say, didn't have umbrellas to protect themselves from the ensuing rain. No, it was not the pneumonia that killed them.

4. Rohit Roy tells us a simple story with a simple message but does it very well in Rice Plate. Shabana is at her methodist comic best, right down to the last pronunciation while Naseeruddin Shah shows the audience how dialog is really redundant if you are truly a great actor in his few scenes. The newby director's eye for the minutest detail is exemplary. Maybe he too really should be directing and not acting, like Ben Affleck.

3. Gupta shows his softer side in Gubbare, which I would like to see more often than the usual stylish bashing up of people. Anita provides enthusiastic support for Nana Patekar's expressive eyes and too realistic a portrayal of the man you meet everyday on your way to the market, or in queue at a movie theater, or in this case, on a bus. Again, very simple message that we tend to overlook in the daily bustle of our lives. Best cinematography of all the films. Was reading somewhere Gupta made Dus Kahaniyan for his estranged wife. I have no doubt that this particular story is the special one from the heart.

2. Manoj Bajpai returns with a bang in this amazing short film called Zahir, with a huge screen persona to boot, right down to the first person narration. I can safely say Dia Mirza has added acting skills to her resume after this brilliant performance. The casting is just perfect, which becomes apparent as you unravel the layers of the two characters. Gupta's story telling ability cocktailed with some melancholic philosophy comes to the surface proving that length has no bearing on the quality of a story. A very touchy issue is shot in its true colors avoiding the risk of a glorifying undertone. Credit must also be given to Bajpai for his superb portrayal in this scene.

1. The crown of the lot belongs to Pooranmashi - a film so markedly mature compared to the rest of the stories that it almost is in a league of its own. Meghna Gulzar adds fuel to the genetic theory in this complexly woven relationship non-saga, mainly focused on the mother-daughter relationship. The script is so beautifully set up that Amrita Singh and Minissha Lamba, who actually even look alike, don't even need to do much. However, it would be criminal not to pay tribute to Singh here. In this film, I think her performance outshines that of the chutzpah of female acting in the industry - Shabana Azmi. A superficial analysis might suggest feminist undertones, but there aren't any. Women characters are just employed to tell a warm, heart wrenching tale. Gulzar raises a question at the end of the film - how far would you go to protect those you love, and then takes a further bold step of expressing her opinion in the matter using unexpected means. This one may be her way of telling her separated parents that you may not be there for each other, but I am here for the both of you.

Friday, December 07, 2007

All Nighters - Then and Now

Being forced to stay very very late at work the last two nights took me down a Memory Lane, the map of which anyone who has been to college (especially an engineering one here in the US) can draw from, well, memory. However, there were differences to those youthful, initially exciting night outs which started mostly the evening before a major assignment was due and could continue as late as noon the next day. Oh yeah bebe, engineering students can partay like no other similar species, in the labs and libraries of universities that is.

The major difference lies in the number of characters in both acts. Scores of Desi engineering students have eventually transcended into the American workforce by consistently upholding the great traditions of the famous buddy system in college. Now, when the buddy system no longer applies and other people are paid to be your 'buddies', you find that there is no such well-meaning (I am sure) soul around on nights when your employer really makes you earn the butter for your that day's bread. Of course you are not alone. You attain near fluency in Spanish due to regular nocturnal conversations with the almost monolingual Mexican janitors, apart from learning the names of the leading goal scorers in the Mexican premier football league and the latest angles in the love polygons of Mexican soap operas.

Also, there is no whiff of that familiar female deodorant now - the generic one affordable by Engineering students. The one that lingered strongly enough to motivate you to debug her (your) code slower so as to prolong the evening so that you could boast about spending most of the night with the user of that magical spell to your chums the next day. However, now you can afford one of those colognes that handpicks a 6-packed supermodel to endorse itself but, even the unadulterated (woody, in my case) odor only ends up increasing the speed of your debugging skills, unless of course if you are a homosexual narcissist (aren't all narcissists homosexual, or at the very least bi, anyway?)

What's common in the two settings is the grease filled satisfactory belch you express at the end of a bagged meal, incorrectly titled dinner that you wash down with something that parents and ex-GF's say will kill you in the long run. Of course, the meal is now eaten in front of your computer - alone, OD-ing on some fellow bloggers' freaky experiences rather than over female laughs (even if fake like most things about that blessed species) at your pathetic PJ's, maybe even a few minutes of the No Smoking Abrahamian moments of soul searching in front of the mirror or practice of Robert Deniro's facial impressions by turning off your monitor, which return no hits on the soul, but end up posing life altering questions like whether the waviness (and thus supposed grooviness) of the hair is aesthetic enough to distract the imaginary attracted lookists from the ever increasing forehead.

Some things never change though, like telemarketers and their benevolent marketing techniques that awaken you the next morning like the kiss of some charming prince on some narcoleptic princess and send you scurrying for a dawnish lecture in some obscene course like anthropology or invertebral sociology where pop quizzes are as common as cheese in non-Italian pizza, or nowadays, for meetings where you have to cover for your boss since they are too early in the daily schedule for her. The crow bath strategy has replaced the no bath one, but what remains with you till the end is the zonked out feeling, only paralleled by an elaborate ballroom dance with Mary Jane.

And then, there is the end. The sweet sweet anti-orgasm of the whole experience, the whimpering end to a cathartic passage, stamped with near-invincible finality that only a deadline extension can shatter. Thank God (sic) for unyielding Professors and stringent marketing folks who ensure that extensions too are as repetitive as colored moons. Then all that remains is the guilt of failure on the surface, and a highly contrasting gratifying calm inside.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

An Unforgettable Date

The Blue Lady turned all of two today. Incidentally, it is also the W's birthday, but he is in a cold place on the other coast, so we will celebrate another reminder of his existence next weekend. Last evening warranted something special. So, I took her out for an expensive 91 octane Chevron meal. I had candles too, but for some strange reason the employees at the place wouldn't allow me to wander within 20 feet near the meal with those. This was preceded by a lot of lathering and rinsing by women in skimpy bikinis. Since the Lady doesn't expect her sexual preference, I was forced to make the assumption.

Then we did what I hadn't done with her in this land yet, but used to do quite a bit in the previously inhabited desert along with someone who made excellent shrimp - go for an aimless drive with my hand on her gear box. Not too many people look forward to getting lost like that and I miss the shrimp Chef for this reason, not to mention for the shrimps. The weather was playing Cupid if strategically placed clouds in the background with frilly twigs in the foreground were to believed, and alternated the intensity of the lighting like a gag with a naughty creative mind of his own, causing the Lady to blush to varying degrees of blue.

The road decided to rise at some point at a great acute degree, taking us closer to the intermittent clouds and rarefied air. The ears were popping. The stereo was belting out sweet musical things with lyrics that can give non-Bengalis diabetes, that I don't remember anymore. We were moving slow so as not to hit oncoming traffic on the narrow, hardly bidirectional road. At some point, jealousy set in momentarily as a white horse was attracted to the Lady and decided to follow us before I forced her to run harder with me, away from the corrupting glance of the equine creature. Yes, I am sure it wasn't Kareena Kapoor.

Once we reached what we thought was the apex of the pseudo-mountain, we stopped to take in the sight of the urbania we inhabited in the fading light. It was the end of a fairly relaxing day in the office for the CEO of our solar system. There was no silhouetted photography involved, as these were private moments that we didn't want to share with anyone else, thus protecting the sanctity of the drive. With reluctance we made our way back to the hustle-bustle of the city, that only glistened from this distance. She was a little scared on the way down with the lack of natural light, but I guided her firmly enough to be able to make it through safely. You see she has a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to bumpy roads because of her rear wheel disability, but please don't mention that even in passing, since it upsets her and then it is endless trips to the shrink for us.

We performed some moonlight sonata, zigzagging across lanes on a fairly smooth interstate our tax money was being used to maintain on our way to a drive-in showing of 'A Streetcar named Desire' to cozy up against the chill that is introduced in the air with the onset of dusk these days. Our bouts of comfortable silence with each other was punctuated by only her sudden exaggerated purring as she tried to throw me off with her pace as a result of the mischief in her headlights. As I lay in her at the drive-in, a sense of protectiveness generated out of nowhere, so much so that, I realized that I have begun to feel more paternal towards her off late, than romantic inclination. Maybe, that is what happens in the life of a couple that has reached that comfort zone with each other, or maybe I just have an incestuous twisted mind that tries to differentiate between love and materialism on a subconscious level.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Random Laziness, or Lazy Randomness?

I am amazed how the delivery of maternal love from across the Atlantic Ocean prompted me to leave work relatively early and run to Chhotu's. Of course you are going to say that the materialism in the form of the Chaklis, Shankarpadi and Besan Laddoos was the real magnet, but in my defense, I did not even touch the Laddoos. What is even more astounding is how this nicely prioritized itself over an invitation at the new University campus, highlights of which were a promise of mid-week Scotch accompanied by discounted ice extended by the Prof and Bouthan's magical chholay. As I sat munching, I realized this was going to be a close fight with little knowledge of how wrong I was. The owner of our gym popped out of nowhere with white wings while fat bald Shankar Halwai had grown two little red horns and was hovering around like uninvited hijras at a wedding.

I had even left my bag behind at work, thinking that would force me to return and thus enter the gym. However, self-will and all other such angelic qualities that motivational speakers like to harp on were subject to a mass genocide this evening as the laziness quotient, subdued for a while probably because of the perceived Brownian motion of the brain cells, struck back with incredible vengeance employing a plush spread on Chhotu's divan made in Iran, or some such exotic oily mess. The W keeps boasting about LSD from his limited narcotic experience and how it made him feel the various veins in his brain, which incidentally is the same effect on the listener. But who needs psychedelic drugs when you have such royal comfort for your behind. I am not at all exaggerating when I say I could feel each and every vein in the derrière.

At some point Chhotu noted that this was the height of laziness since we didn't even change the channel when ads interrupted a slapstick comedy sitcom of Brad Garret's, whose humor was exponentially increased by the spread. Well, maybe for him. Shankar wanted to have a little more fun and slipped in a KFC ad with buckets of nothing but copious golden fried unhealthy chicken. How I wished the chicken could walk up to me on those plush leg pieces and walk back the avian equivalent of Somalian refugees. Once the gym idea had been completely murdered, a phone call to KFC proved that they didn't deliver fried storks and chickens to your door in this country. Dunno why they even have a phone then? A few Renaissance Youtube moments followed with me introducing Chhotu to such neo-classics as GMD and the Sutta Song. Bionic woman had replaced Garret on TV but refused to take her jacket off while running, even after the many requests my current state of inactivity allowed. So there was no point watching her.

The KFC had closed its doors on our stomachs by 8:30. After some Harold-Kumar camaraderie, we ended up at Carl's, where to compensate for the gym miss, I had a jalapeño burger sandwiched with a delicious cow and some golden deep fried groovy aloooooo over an Avant-Garde discussion of incidents during the formative years when we had heard our Dads swearing. The Brownian motion intensified as we were about to leave and I just had to smuggle out some black jahar (as the Dawg has rechristened it) in my translucent cup meant for water. The sudden activity from running away from the chasing Mexican employee who was running as if reminiscing her border crossing days made me miss dope like I miss Tina. Failed at having stopped me, it's as if she invoked the memory of some ancient Incan God because the moment I sat in the car, I was overcome by an exhaustive bout of coughing. Or maybe it was the virus' continued (more than a week now) infatuation with yours truly, shattering the notions of possible withdrawal symptoms.

Without access to any of the herb, Chhotu introduced the idea of hookkah. We couldn't connect to any of the unsecured networks while driving around to access Local Google. Sheah! And they call this place the Tech Capital of the World! Once home, Chhotu started reading reviews of these places and expressed fear of large not so fair and lovely men at such an hour at these places. I acted like that pissed me off and walked out on his open jaw and door.

The Blue Lady was singing 'Under Pressure' to me when I noticed that the load from my bag from work was potent enough to signal the passenger seatbelt sensor sign. Deep isn't it? The White Lady though, scarred for life from the hurt of showing misguided blind sheep the way during dark shepherd-less moments, shining like a Crazy Diamond against a navy starless uniform was showing me the path home. On chaining up my light jacket as a feeble protest to the sudden and unannounced onset of cold after sundown these days, I realized I was dressed for a funeral - in complete black like Johnny Cage, a prisoner to the demons within his inner self. I just hoped the funeral wasn't for any part of me. Once home, had to feign mental sobriety and disguise the coughing for the sake of a long distance phone call from Aunta, who for a change, made no mention of our family fortune teller's latest predictions about me.

Maybe the meeting of an old friend who goes by the name of August has sparked this random laziness, or lazy randomness, as he calls in from the Welfare State, or maybe it is the unsuccessful anticipation of the mind to attain Nirvanic calm. August, you SOB, stop f!@#ing with my mind and trying to make me Comfortably Numb. I don't want to be like you. I want to scream from the rooftops about my struggle with daily mundaneness, reach out to the White Lady and share a tear or two of anguish while the rest of the sheep sleep. I saw her during the day today too - feeble and tired against a supposedly clear backdrop. No one else did. Only I did. The Blue one has competition again these days I tell you. The White one may be round these days, and not as ever beautiful as the Blue one, but she gives me warmth and I can cry out my fears and lose my tears in her scars. But for how long? Isn't it only a matter of time before she too will leave me. Of course she will return, but will it be her again? Will she be my White Lady, or some poetic teen sensation too drunk in her moonlight to pay her real Romeo any heed?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Satyajit Ray's Speaking of Films

Finally got done with this amazing collection of essays by the great man last night. Most of the contents deserves to end up in a text book for film making, and there are very few parts where Ray expresses his opinion on matters, rather than explain his technique or thinking behind a certain method. Translated by the award winning Gopa Majumdar from the Bangla Bishoy Chalachitra, who has done great justice to this I am sure, much like Ray's Feluda stories. I am indebted to Jabberwock, on whose blog I first heard about this.

The first few chapters showcase the history of film-making, with a emphasis on Russian cinema and then gradually progress to Bangla cinema of yesteryears with sporadic mention of a few American directors of the pre-talkies era. It is apparent that Ray's favorite Russian film maker among a few geniuses he talks about is Eisenstein. Will try to watch his Battleship Potempkin which Netflix claims to possess in its vast collection. The biggest challenge these film makers faced in a controlled USSR was the lack of freedom of speech in its true sense. It is unfortunate to note that film makers today face similar problems in what is known as the world's biggest democracy due to the Censor Board's rape of creativity.

By no stretch of the imagination can I be considered a connoisseur of Indian classical music. However, the chapter on background music is enthralling and packed with useful information such as the use of certain ragas to portray certain a certain time of day. He talks about his artistic association with maestros like Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Vilaayat Khan for his initial films, before he gained the experience and confidence to compose music for his own films.

Ray maintains throughout the book that dialog should be a director's last weapon of choice after he has exhausted more subtle options like angles and lighting conditions. However, his admiration for Bibhuti Bhushan's writing is apparent as he says that the writer's stories are so descriptive that the art department's job becomes a piece of cake and even the script writer's. He stresses the need for natural dialog - lines that the character's equivalent in real life is likely to speak, thus far removed from over the top and histrionic lines of theater.

The chapter that got me thinking the most was the one on color. Today it appears as if every film maker takes color for granted. What Ray says is that this is hardly the correct approach. Directors should only use color if they are able to justify it. Citing examples from his work like a married woman's vermilion or the shade of blue of the sky, he talks of an era when color was new to the Indian and thus Bangla film industry, not to mention an expensive option.

A couple of chapters are dedicated to Apur Sansar and Charulata and answering a critic named Mr. Rudra, mostly justifying his methods and answering some ridiculous criticism in my opinion, such as the film's script not following the original story. Apur Sansar still remains one of my favorite for its sheer tragedy, paling even the classical Shakespearean ones. I have got to see Charulata. Didn't know Tagora had woven such an intricate spiderweb of emotions with so many human angles, long before Hindi cinema was smarting over the Pati, Patni aur Woh concept.

The last few essays talks about his experience of working with amateur actors and their surprising natural acting skills and unexpected lack of camera shyness, most notably Chunibala Devi (Indir Thakuran in Pather Panchali). I like these essays for they reveal the more or less down to earth man behind the strict facade of the dominant director, which mind you, is essential to the completion of a successful film.

Some interesting points that came through were his dislike for theater because of its confining of space, and thus the imagination of the director, his dislike for Shantiniketan because of its emphasis on Oriental art as opposed to modern art, his pragmatic approach to the question of success of parallel cinema (he maintains that it is a director's duty to be loyal to the producer, who, is really a businessman while remaining true to art), and finally his fears of the death of the art of cinema in India. When the essay was written there may have been a dearth of creative cinema, but I think he would have been fairly satisfied with the current state of cinema in India, notwithstanding the Censor board of course.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bheja Fry's

Angelina Jolie once said “I felt beautiful when I was in Cambodia [for Tomb Raider]. I was sweaty, and my hair was matted and all over the place. And I was happy and hot and accomplishing a lot and running around, and I could feel my heart beating, and I felt beautiful.” The United States may not be able to boast of such orgasmic satisfaction to its tourists, but herculean efforts are made to keep the residents of this country happy. One such effort saw the birth of a chain of stores called Fry's Electronics in select cities across the country. The cities that were selected are proven to be the hot pockets of nerdy activity, according to demographic data. I have the great fortune of living in the hottest pocket of them all - Silicon Valley and needless to say the stores here, and the characters one meet there, are extra special.

As you pull up to any of these stores, it becomes very clear from the onset that the owners mean strict business and nothing else. Accompanying the enormous Fry's sign on the store is an equally enormous sinusoidal curve, with the middle wave being of the highest amplitude, signifying the heightened pleasure customers receive when they walk in. This logo ensures that no glutton ever mistakes this for a fast food joint, and the lack of a cutesy furry animal, which pretty much monopolizes all logos, keeps off the hot, dumb, superficial women, even if they err and end up there somehow. The parking lot is equipped with special security, armed with an alarm from the store itself no doubt. If any car that is not a Toyota or Honda make gets as close as twenty feet to the building, the alarm radiates a supersonic wave that propels the infidel cars out of the parking lot. If you manage to sneak in in a friend's Toyota or Honda, there are more surprises awaiting you at the entrance. There is a retina and feeler scan test that allows only entry to customers who pass either of two tests. The first test allows only people with less than two centimeter square of retina showing entry. The second test searches the customer's upper lip for more than twenty centimeter square of bushy growth. A few steps ahead an employee asks simple and basic science questions like the definition of Einstein's relativity theory and other such world changing phenomenon. I hear a question bank of such questions is now available on Ebay.

Once you enter the store, begins an Alician journey through a maze of cornucopia of electronic gadgets, ipods and tripods, wires of all species mating with each other to produce more interracial breeds, and of course the famed piano in the middle of the maze played by the epitome of female beauty, robotic that is - Screw. Screw is surrounded by giant LCD and Plasma screens hooked up to the latest versions of man toys. Young nerds, started out early in this noble way of life by their parents can be seen peering onto these giant screen through glasses whose power dominate their ages and holding wannabe mini guitars and 'dancing' with intense aerobic fervor that would shame even the khatiya used by Govinda and Karishma in their famous song. If you listen very closely, you can hear proud parents gloating about how many kills their wards have amassed on the latest mindless violence games. The kid's sections of Fry's can boast of a lot of cute things on display, like the robotic Barbies and energy saving light sabers. Around a few aisles, you might meet smiling young mustached Indian men. Do not fall for their charming smiles. No, they are not Agents, but worse - they are Ambay folks, and before you know it, they will trap you in their inclusive love and pyramidal money making schemes with long winded talks which start innocuously about things like homesickness and end up with you handing them blank checks, like a gay spider that terminates its victims by first seducing it and then devouring it.

Fry's has as stringent a hiring policy as Microsoft, except that they do not compromise unlike Microsoft. All the candidates are chosen from the MENSA pool - the rejected lot from the superhero schools, presidents of chess clubs in Ivy League colleges, and of course, the members of the 4.0 club. Inside sources claim that your chances of landing a job there increases exponentially if you are armed with a unibrow and poor communication skills and lack any kind of knowledge other than in the technical field. If you meet all of the above criteria and still manage to turn out hot, you are instantly rejected. The working environment is as productive as that of Dilbert's with the same dress code. The tie has to be tight enough to make you squeak and your shirt has to be tucked in either at the back or in the front, not in both places.

The best time to visit Fry's is during Thanksgiving. It is full of vibrant, colorful, sleep deprived 'people', literally fighting over handicrafts made by little hands in China, India or some other Asian country that has to deal with the ethics of child labor. Last year, Wired Magazine reported that the Engineer brothers - Shahrukh and Sagar, found each other there after being separated in the same exact spot twenty four years earlier. Incidentally, both of them had tattoos of capacitors inscribed on their left arms. Amit and Rekha (names changed) met here five years ago. Amit says he fell madly in love when he saw Rekha running past valleys of discounted DVD's to grab the last 12-feet S-Video cable in the store. Three years back, Nirupa Roy (name changed) went into labor while waiting in line to checkout her purchased goods, and the line took so long to move that she delivered by the time she got to a cashier. Ms. Roy also holds the distinction of having given birth in the parking lot in a shopping cart during a different Thanksgiving. While this wonderland has given life, it has also taken some. Every year, about 25% of shoppers lose their lives in the ensuing stampede on this fateful day leading historians to name it Black Friday. I do not know if Mars has life, but all I can say is that, if Fry's was another planet, it would have the ability to not only sustain life, but also recycle it, thus producing a thriving environment for generations of nerds.

Friday, November 23, 2007

ThanksGIVING?

I don't know why but I get the most philosophical when I am working out. *Flexes calf muscles. Maybe my gym should market themselves that way - 'Think while you Stink' and have that muscled ancestor of John Abraham - The Great Thinker be the brand ambassador (the thinking got lost genetically somewhere I guess). Let me stop before I continue any longer on these tangential roads. The reason may have something to do with the fact that the mind is not really used when you are running for your life as if some product of a canine breeding experiment gone sour, is after you.

The television was playing the local news showing people who had nothing better to do on Thanksgiving randomly giving out food to homeless people. Let me stray a bit here and stress how much cooler homeless people in San Francisco are, compared to the rest of the country. I have met men (ever wonder why most homeless people are male? I bet it has something to do with patriarchal society. OK feminists, don't kill me; I love you all) who held up signs so proudly that they could have read 'World's Greatest Dad' or 'Arnie for President' (the Cali Guv, not me), but then this is not a post about paternal love, or politics (don't ask me what this is about - I wont be able to answer). The signs said 'Why lie? I need the money for beer'. I guess they were all hippies during all the Summers of Love.

So anyway, this led to severe introspection. What was I doing for others this Thanksgiving? Well, I could say I was working for my boss, but then my boss isn't homeless, and I was really doing it so that she didn't have to interview new candidates soon for my job. What else? Let's see. I was working out, but that too wasn't to render the stock of my gym bullish. Was I really better than those scores of people who cheat sleep every Thanksgiving to buy themselves expensive little electronic sidekicks that tell them when their coffee is getting cold or find them adult entertainment stores? Maybe I am getting soft with age and maybe one day my heart will become cookie dough like that generous old pink wrinkly woman's heart who left all her money to her dog, well, comparatively speaking at least, but when I saw those hot, kind otherwise homemaking women (this should sway the feminists) hugging those poor homeless souls and lighting up their faces along with their joints, something stirred inside me, or maybe it was just the heart working out on the cardio machines.

Granted they don't have Thanksgiving in India, but what did Satyajit Ray ever do for the homeless of India? Maybe he did a lot financially, and the fact that most of you, and I don't know about it just glorifies anonymous charity. Or maybe his Pather Panchali which ran for 34 weeks in The Big Apple (according to his Speaking of Films {Bishoy Chalachitra}, which I am reading at the moment) did generate enough sympathy in the Rich White Man (aastey leddiss {ack. JAP}, and Woman), henceforth known as RWM/W for the rest of the post, to generate a lot of charity for our nation, which of course pisses the f!@# out of a few overtly nationalist friends of mine. They feel that Ray's only contribution to the world has been to tear apart the shawl covering the nudity of India's poverty. Of course, they haven't watched his Calcutta trilogy - Jana Aranya, Pratidwandi, Seemabadha (my favorite of all his films that I have seen, in that order) or the children's double delight - GGBB and Hirok Rajar Deshe. Or maybe it is the RWM/W that chooses to glorify exclusively these poverty showcasing works of the greatest artisan ever born.

PS: If you have managed to labor through to the end of this post, you will realize that there are too many things going on in parallel in my (not so humble, by this admission at least) mind. I only have the manufacturers to blame for this, for not manufacturing any siblings. PJ alert! Maybe I will perform a Norton/Thevenin analysis to simplify things. If you got that, please go shoot yourself (which should really be very simple if you live in this country with its awesome gun control laws). Thank you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Arey Huzoor Wah Saaz Boliye

Was fortunate enough to see Ustad Zakir Hussain in concert today. The concert was marketed exactly that way, with Rahul Sharma's name appearing almost in fine print. However, as the concert started and with time, which flew by like an invisible being, it was quite obvious that Sharma was the literally the central attraction. Initially, I thought this had much to do with the tabla being a support instrument, rather than a lead one, which really shows my depth of Indian classical music, or rather the lack of it.

Rahul Sharma took some time to warm up, but once he had accomplished that, he seduced the audience with great finesse, taking them up to the crest of the musical wave, but not creating that explosion, alternating these with some troughs. In the first half of the recital, he played a purely classical raga whose name has been lost somewhere in those melodious pockets he created in my mind. In the second half, he played a lighter version of the raga Kirvani called Misra Kirvani. His performance reminded me of a deer out to fool the deadliest predators - elegant and enticing.

There is something about Zakir Hussain that will make you smile by just looking at him. He gives off that happy, warm feeling without stimulation that few people can boast of. At one point, you could see a smile of satisfaction light his already bright face up telling you "I love what I do, mate". He played the tabla like he was a lion - subdued for the most part, but roaring at times with some breath-taking hand action which has earned him the Grammy and world renown, almost as if to tease the younger maestro a little. Mind you, Rahul more than held his own during such moments. The humility of the great tabalchi was apparent as he sought to keep the limelight on Rahul at all times when the audience was applauding.

The jugalbandi between the two performers was akin to a long earned point in a tennis game between two equally good players - Zakir supporting Rahul first, then the other way around, sending each other volleys of musical notes, and each one equal to the challenge, and finally, what I had been waiting for - the fabulous fast rhythmic climax of a cathartic experience, in terms of treatment, which completely overshadowed the aalap in both pieces. During the alap, the mind, as trained by countless images of beautiful Kashmir against the backdrop of the sound of its santoor, did exactly that, but once the jugalbandi was in full swing, I felt like I was on a train somewhere warmer, looking out through the three horizontal bars of a non-AC berth into the passing greenery. I know it sounds clichéd but nothing else in the world mattered then. They even improvised a little - a flourish here and there, trapping the overall naive audience on more than one occasion by pausing, to be greeted by applause. The audience, which comprised of a lot of ABCD's (which speaks volumes of Zakir's international appeal and efforts at making the tabla a 'cool' percussion instrument), tried to unsuccessfully persuade the performers to do an encore a la rock concerts, thus again exhibiting their lack of knowledge of Indian classical recitals.

I was not too impressed with the theater logistics. My legs did not fit in the cramped space. And, it wasn't just my ogre ones that had a problem. Shorter friends were cramped for space too. Luckily there was no one to my left and I watched the entire concert sitting at an angle of 45 degrees. The lighting was very random. You would expect cooler colors initially when the performers were warming up and warmer ones once the jugalbandi got hot, but there was no such logic, and it seemed the lighting changed merely when the light guy was bored with his Solitaire game. Hot chocolate was over before I got to the cafe. Granted this is Bay Area, but it does get cold at night here in November, you know, and I have a cold, and didn't wear a jacket to show off my kurti and had to park three to four blocks away. Despite the bitching in the last paragraph, the concert was worth every penny I paid for my $25 balcony seat.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Last Night

I starved myself to sleep last night

Just to feel the poor man’s plight.

I slept on the pavement last night

Just to see if I could brave frost bite.

I ran into a wall last night

Just to feel the hindrance of might

Like a disposed little kite

Forced to stop in mid-flight.

I cut myself up last night

Just to see how it feels to get into a fight.

I fell on my face last night

Just to give my loved ones a fright.

I fell into a well last night

A space completely closed and tight

Where nothing but darkness comes into sight.

Just to see the world with no light.

I had a chat with a leader last night

Just to see if he was really that bright.

I toyed with a dog last night

Just to see if its bark was bigger than its bite.

I experimented with a prism last night

Just to make sure all colors did combine into white.

I looked down from a roof last night

Just to look at the world from that height.

I did things last night

To see all that is not alright.

11/19/2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Doom Bhulaiyaa

When Priyadarshan claimed he would stop making comedies after Dhol, he was being dead serious. What emerged was Doom Bhulaiyaa - something new not only for this director more at home with slapstick comedy, but a novel movie making experience very alien to Bollywood. Industry insiders claim that Activision, the makers of the famous video game series Doom, considered by most gamers as the Godfather Trilogy of all First Person Shooter video games.

The movie combined this First Person camera angle with a non-violent Indian touch. The protagonists did not carry guns, but had to play the juvenile Indian game of Eye Spy with the monster of the script. An innovative cinematography technique known as jitterbugging, which involves making a sufficiently malnourished cameraman run behind the subjects through 'Ramuly' lit long narrow corridors carrying a movie camera as heavy as the most elusive rocket launcher in the Doom series on his narrow shoulders was used in this movie. I hear the patent is pending.

Akshay Kumar arrives quarterway through the movie to Spy on the monster but the weak script does not do justice to his otherwise excellent comic timing on a regular basis. There are occasional flashes in the deadpan producing a few laugh out loud bullying scenes. Akshay, like Priyadarshan had also promised to explore other aspects of his acting persona. He does exactly that as he expresses his love for small, ahem, marbles and takes a one on one trip with the owner of these while throwing little yellow flowers up in the air a la Rekha in Silsila with a peppy, yet incoherent with respect to the script song playing in the background and playing another juvenile Indian game - musical chairs with little boats.

Look out - spoiler alert! The makers of OSO may be patting themselves on the back after the much hullabalooed 31 star studded item number, but Priyadarshan did another cinematic first as he got a huge (yeah OK, much leaner now) comeback star's self-designed ornament to do an audio guest appearance for his film. In order to publicize her latest film Aaja Nachle, in which she plays the ghungroo of a dancer facing mid-life crisis with irregular bouts of patriotism, Madhuri Dixit's payal plays the role of the monster with great jhanak (indigenous tautology anyone?) and impeccable Bangla pronunciation. Rimi Sen is proud of the latter achievement as she coached the ghungroo after Priyadarshan was impressed with her Dhoom performances, much like Salman Khan took the young unmuscular Hrithik Roshan under his wing before the making of Kaho Na Pyar Hai. Sen muses tangentially on the 'Pay It Forward' quality of the act, and hopes that the ghungroo will perform the favor for another struggling Bollywood actor or piece of inventory in the future after reaching cult status following Aaja Nachle.

Shiney Ahuja looks positively royal, as his character is meant to be, but gets too carried away with the whole Angry Young Handsome Royal image. He was screaming with almost the same regularity as the baby in the hall. I don't really dig horror films. Efforts to scare me end up amusing me, that is efforts involving supernatural beings. However, if the efforts involve deranged varieties of the human psyche, my laughter disappears, because that gives the entire story more of a realistic feel. As Tina knows, the fear quotient of my mind was scratched very early in life during a late night Doordarshan showing of Satyajit Ray's Teen Kanya, so much so that even today, a woman delirious with laughter without any apparent reason sends a chill down my spine. The feeling is exponentially aggravated if she is also unnaturally hot. Looks like Tina's been consulting for Priyadarshan.

Priyadarshan raises the question of belief in supernatural powers effectively, but falters when he attempts to answer that very question, chiefly because of a script inundated with holes that has way too many unnecessary characters (a Priyan signature I know) and thus is intense enough only in parts. However, I am feeling generous and the effort is transparent enough to be worth a slight nod.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Jimmy Boy

They call him Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in China; Aston Martin, BMW, Omega and major International fabric companies vie against rivals to ensnare him as their brand ambassador; he is licensed to kill. In short, he is every straight and bisexual man's dream idol. Since the readers of this blog also include unmanly men and women (both manly and unmanly I assume), let me go ahead and define what James Bond movies are all about - loads of action and tons of semi-clad singeing women, not always in a mutually exclusive setting.

I don't know if anyone else has got this very homophobic feeling from the most famous of the 00 agents at His Majesty's Secret Service. And, you know what they say about homophobes: they are homosexuals still living in the closet. At this point you are thinking ArSENik has gone mad (or more mad, depending on how well you know me), probably a poor victim of his own poison, but before you email me the directions to the Ranchi penitentiary, let me provide some proof of my claim.

We have had six Bonds so far, and all of them start behaving like a hungry Jerry around cheese, whenever they see any woman. I mean these are able bodied men with Baritones as silky as the fitted suits they wear. You would assume that they can bed any woman in the world, and yet, when anything with a sixth sense walks by, they loose all their five. This act can only be as genuine as Chandraswamy's hermit life.

Think about it. Who is James Bond in reality? He is a 30-40 something British widower. Need I say any more? All the women here will agree that British men are so boring that they make Gujarati men look like Elvis. And these are those rejects of the British society that have passed their 20 something Westlifish pop appeal and Hugh Grantish floppy hair. All they have left are their stiff upper lips, and M only knows what they use them for!

Most heros need sidekicks - Sherlock Holmes had Dr. Watson, Batman had Robin and Amitabh had Shashi Kapoor, but what about Bond? This conspicuous absence of a male bosom buddy is alarming, isn't it? He isn't Superman you know. In the mid-seventies, Felix Lighter of the CIA did team up with him often, but that was because of the hangover of the American producers from the Summer of Love.

A highlight of the Bond movies is the title song as the credits roll. While the British have their flaws (like bland food, thus calling the curry a British dish these days, and weak governments, to name a couple), they can certainly play music like the pyromaniac Nero. Have you ever wondered why great musicians like Elton John, or the members of the band Queen were never approached to write and perform a song for these movies? Yes, the creators of the series were worried about Bond's image and the supposed harm the sexual orientation of these musicians would cause it.

What is the most common pose you have seen any of the Bonds in? Slightly bent over, holding up a long cylindrical gun vertically, with an overtly long silencer attached to the head. I don't know about you, but if I was Bond, I would not go around that way if I was getting so much Love in Russia in the form of Thunderballs and Goldfingers from the Man with the Golden, ahem, Gun with a License to Drill, "Moon"raking for My Eyes Only, even if he was a Spy who Loved me. I rest my case.

Friday, November 09, 2007

D - The Festival

D is the Indian festival closest to my heart. No, it's not because of countless memories during my formative years, or any sentimental jing bang like that. Nor is it because the great Lord Ram kicked Ravan's ass since he could make out with ten apsaras at the same time dirty south style, aided by the mythological version of the cast of Animal Planet's reality shows. Nor is it because of the new jobs it creates in fire departments all over India every year. Then why is it, you wonder, that godless souls like mine revel in hypocrisy every year-end and wish fellow Indians 'Shubh Deepawali'.

My reason is simple. It's the godfather of all Indian festivals with enormous national appeal. The women love it and so do the men (the only other thing in this world enjoyed by both sexes). In fact, if D was actually a Don, I bet you women would bend over backwards to be made offers they couldn't refuse by D. New clothes, new presents, new coital promises or threats, hardly digestible delights and all the merriment aside, it is an excuse for people to meet and greet each other and show off their thunderous fake laughter and compare the starchiness of their kurtas and sarees.

A very disturbing recent trend in this regard, orchestrated mainly by the fag, I mean tag team of Rituporno Ghosh and Karan Johar has seen that very same maternal dupatta that has historically wiped our tears as we failed board exams or wet our beds, has found its way to cover the abs of many a fine young man today. Call me conservative, but coital promises had no role playing involved back in the day when the virility flouting Ravan hit the Colombo night scene.

Before you get all judgmental on D, let me point out where he scores over all his communalistic little rivals - the Pongals and the Durga Pujos and the Onams and the Bihus and the Guru Padwas and the Karwa Chauts and the Baisakhis. D brings all Indians together. Sure, there are those awkward moments when friends of other faiths wish you a happy D and you just smile silently like your wife's pregnancy has just been discovered. The Prof. after years of research at deca-annual House Pujas, came up with a response last year that stunned all 72 virgins when he handed an unsuspecting Captain the arti thali. Yes, there are the Eids (of various sizes) and the Christmases which are nothing but wannabe D's when we gulp down umpteen bowls of shirkhuma and disillusion the children about a fat old man with a reindeer fetish. These don't hold candles, or rather, phuljharis to D simply because we, the very people who celebrate D, have shown these peaceful influences, over years of loud fireworks (leftovers from the previous year's Chinese New Year's celebrations by the Left) that Might is indeed extreme Right.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Jab We Met Review

I should have listened to my heart, as the protagonists kept telling each at various parts of the screenplay, and left the theater in the interval. Then the experience would have been nice, for now, as it turns out, the aftertaste left by the second half, reeking too strongly of the age-old funda of the generic Bollywood romantic date movie, is too strong to even loose oneself in the nicely shot peppy song with phirang women in coolie attire, accompanying the end credits.

The first half of the movie is well made. The screenplay is fast paced and manages to hold your attention. Just when you think you have it figured out and start abusing it for doing a DDLJ in 2007, you realize that it is only meant to pay a little homage to the mother of all romantic Indian movies, and nothing more, as can be seen in the subtle differences. Jab We Met shatters the perception of Romeo being the roadside loafer and Juliet the shy little maiden and reverses the roles, which is the case with a sizable portion of real-life couples today.

Kareena is undoubtedly the central character, so much so that, the film could even have been called Geet (her character) and still worked, but 'Jab We Met' is meant to represent the love story of GenX, with their sprinkling of Angreji in the local dialect. Besides, I have a fetish for women with unisex names. She does an excellent job. One of the best scenes, in terms of acting, of the entire movie is when she goes all red as her character is supposed to be embarrassed. Shahid Kapur has a difficult supporting, yet probably meatier role to play. He is very believable and sincere - a huge improvement from his previous performances. Your heart goes out to him when he talks about the broken marriage of his parents since he went through the same thing in life. Their accents sounded authentic enough to me - the Punjabi accent with a little Mumbaiya in it and the Mumbaiya accent with bouts of affected Punjabi. I believed the casting was good till the lips and tongues of the protagonists decided to take the title of the film too seriously towards the end, granted a improvement from their MMS days. I am no Shiv Sainik and have no problems with people displaying their 'laav' for each other in public, but there are few things more disgusting in this world to the bystanding observer than two people making out, especially when you are forced to watch it on a 72mm screen. The actor playing the Anshuman character (who reminded me of the W - physically and otherwise) makes most of the second half tolerable with his matter of fact yet hilarious expressions, especially during moments of personal emotional duress.

The songs are all nice, except the first one, but all of them are unnecessary. I am sure they add to the commercial appeal of the film as the almost 100% seat occupancy for a Tuesday show indicates. A special mention must be made of the diligent Julie Andrews who did the English subtitles, not letting even the 'Sa Ga Re Sa Ga Re' in one of the songs go and turning them into 'Do Mi Re Do Mi Re'. I also learned today that 'Morcha Nikalo' in Punjabi means 'Rock the Party'. Another commercial aspect was the Punjabiness of the film. The color, the loudness and 'Laav' with a capital L of the larger than life Punjabis proved to be the right tonic for my semi-depressed mind - an extension of yesterday's state and helped by a shitty day at work. I was also glad Chhotu went along so that we could take the second half of the film apart with wise-crack first row (aka the rickshaw wallah row) comments. I found myself reminiscing about those Bhangra house parties from half a year back and suddenly had a momentary impulse to join the little ABCD kid with the bling bling 80's light emitting shoes in the front of the theater doing a homosexual rendition of the folk dance.

The most important thing for me was that I left the theater is my usual high spirits, without even consuming any. So, if you aren't depressed, I suggest striking up a deal with the theater wherein you can pay half the price of the ticket and leave by the interval.

PS: 'Goal' had gotten me senti last time I saw the trailer appealing to memories such as solidarity et al with the inspirational music. Didn't happen this time.
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