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."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

No Smoking

Just got back from the theater after watching it. It is a fantastic film. Indian cinema has finally grown up. I am so glad films like these are being made in India. Definitely not everyone's cup of tea though, which explains the horrible reviews. Recently read somewhere Karan Johar feels that Anuraag Kashyap needs psychiatric help. As they say, there is a fine line between genius and madness, and not knowing Kashyap personally, I do not know if he is on both sides of the line or not. This surrealistic Alician journey through the Wonderland of one's psyche is punctuated with indigenous humor and bouts of lousy acting by John Abraham, but Ayesha Takia in her bit role is good and Paresh Rawal is just about right. The editing is abrupt, but that may very well have been intentional to capture the true state of the protagonist's mind. The many significant yet little things are subtly showcased to make this a true film connoisseur's delight.

I remember reading an interview of a very frustrated Kashyap some time back. He was saying things like Yash Raj Films are a bully and talking of the double standards in Indian cinema, after Black Friday was given an R rating, releasing after months of squabbling with the Censor Board and Dhoom II with all its semi-nudity spared the label. He concluded the interview saying that he might give up making movies if this continues. I just hope he doesn't give up so easily and deny the 3% or so of the Indian audience that are fans of his work such creative ecstasy.

PS: To add to the whole surrealistic feel, a mini-earthquake shook all the seats in the theater I was watching it in at a critical juncture in the movie and the other eight people in the theater were momentarily shaken, literally.

PPS: The promos of Ashutosh Gowariker's Jodha-Akbar look promising enough to be Indian Cinema's first modern war movie with believable yet exhilarating action sequences. Ash, with a mellow look, portraying the Rajput princess looked less glamorous (effectively) than the hip handlebar mustached Hrithik playing the Shehnshah.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fall

The source of contents for this post is a set of notes I had written a while back, when in a different zone, for a mocumentary that I never got around to making.

What does the word 'fall' conjure up in your minds, dear readers? The Fall of Man perhaps, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the beautiful fall season with colorful leaves raining down on a couple looking for a little intimacy. But every time the last image has popped up in my mind, the man has been bald, and that is what 'fall' has eventually come to mean for me - the fall of hair.

Dr. Rohit Bal, the foremost of the has-been fashion designers of India, feels that the rise in MPB (male pattern baldness) has its shaky roots in the evolution theory. Monkeys had hair all over their body and man has evolved from monkeys. Most men (yeah OK leave Anil Kapoor out of this) have lesser hair than monkeys. So, logic says that bald men are more evolved than normal men. This is illustrated in their great survival instincts as portrayed by rumors they spread among womenfolk such as causes of baldness being a byproduct of too much testosterone.

A recent survey of randomly chosen individuals yielded interesting results on the outlook of men and women on MPB. While 98% of the men believe that as long as hair lasts till marriage (the other 2% are still trying to pry open the closet), a whopping 98.1% of the women believe that men should have hair till they are old enough to use Viagra (the other 1.9% are blind). Another important fact to result from this survey was the high-handed attitude of the men with receding hairlines with regard to the already bald men. Balaji (name changed), who has a receding hairline believes that bald men are at the bottom of the dating chain and hopes to loose his virginity before he looses all his hair, thanks to the meteoric rise off late of the cult website shaadi.com.

Dr. Bal feels that there is hope for optimists like Balaji. Here are some very practical tips he told us. The number one method used by balding men to hide their less foliated areas is called 'real estate management'. This involves placing the remaining strands of hair in such an arrangement so as to give the scalp as uniform a look as that of the grass on the other side for these individuals. For those optimists who do not wish to wake an hour earlier for work and manage their real estate every day, Dr. Bal prescribes alarming changes in facial hair with regularity to distract female gazes from the scalp. Limited research that is available on the female psyche suggests that women are intrigued by facial hair since 75% of women worldwide lack this luxuriant growth that men boast of. Other techniques include endorsing Baba Ramdev's method of sitting at lunch tables and rubbing fingernails in a group for no less than 20 minutes every weekday. Another technique is in the R&D pipeline at the moment. There is already a drug called Rogaine in the market which is supposed to replenish hair growth. What the scientists at Johnson's Johnson are working on are the blueprints of the design of a cannon for this product, which may be used by retired social workers in public places indiscriminately showering passersby with the drug. Market research only confirms the great demand for the drug all over the world.

Hope is the only universal truth that bonds men with receding hairlines and bald men together. So thank God for hope. At the end of the day, nothing except hope lasts forever, least of all, hair. To quote a George Bernard Shaw with a receding hairline, "He who has never hoped can never despair".

Monday, October 29, 2007

Late

With each passing day, I find myself wishing more and more that I had been born thirty years earlier. Look at me! I hate clubbing and my definition of entertainment is watching movies in a theater, so much so that, my single ambition in life is to wait for every Friday to see which movies the critics have ripped apart with their sharp as bed-edge comments. In the India of the late 60's and 70's, these were the only forms of entertainment. Would have loved to don those bell-bottoms and watched Sholay in the theater.

Now, I will never perform a sit in in a college campus with fellow students, or attend Woodstock. Never pen any political poetry with any meaningful significance. Also, it would have been fun to be a college buddy of my father. From the stories I hear, I think we would have hit it off quite well and terrorized a lot of lesser suspecting individuals. Will never be able to watch all the Beatles live in concert, or imitate the Angry Young Smuggler Bachchan walk without being ridiculed.

Classic rock is pretty much the only music I listen to, which of course has been stopped producing, replaced by its stuttering cousin - Hip Hop. No one writes lyrics like Dylan and Lennon anymore with today's "poets" just advising you to drop it like it's hot and calling out to promiscuous girls. I would have missed the Internet though, and definitely blogging! But then, how can you miss something that you haven't experienced, or anyone for that matter? I rest my case, dear readers, Time handed us a ticket into this theme park called Life a little too late.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Portrait of Greatness

Bengal has been forever known for its arts, and music is probably the most blue blooded of them all. It is no surprise then that over the centuries, the state has produced some of the greatest musicians India has seen, starting from Tansen to the father-son duo of the Burmans (yeah OK they were from Tripura I know, but they were actually Bangali) to Kishore Kumar and finally to one of the greatest musical personas (and I am not just talking about the size here) the world has seen. OK fine, Tansen wasn't actually Bangali, but can you blame me if you decide to show the poor chap some love and bestow upon him a last name, constructed by splitting his bisyllabic name and freeing him from Cher's curse?

Bruce Springsteen may well have plagiarized the nickname of The Boss, but IMO there can only be one Boss in the entire music industry all across the world from the Mongolian monks nursing vows of lifelong silence to sissy little men in English choirs - the one and only (even though he may appear as two or three) Bapi Da! . Growing up in the blind lanes of Calcutta, Lahiri learned to wear dark glasses early in life. Contrary to popular belief, the blind lane theory is the actual reason for the progressive fashion statement, to be fortuitously popularized by Black rappers in America in the mid-80's. No, he does not wear them to keep the bling off his jewelery from affecting his foresighted vision.

When he took the Myers-Briggs test at an age when most of his friends were idolizing Gavaskar and Vishwanath, little did he know that the analysis report that classified him as a SNIP (Sensing iNtuition Introversion Perceiving) type personality was to be proven prophetically true as he sensed the niche market for Disco music in iNdia. The introversion was more forced than voluntary since his ideas were way ahead of their times. He perceived the appeal for the rise of Disco music in the late 70's in the US and just cut (snip) and pasted what was being produced there on to the Indian musical horizon.

In exclusive interviews to the author of this post, Lahiri has confessed that the music in the Indian Film Industry in his formative years lacked enthusiasm and the aura that he ultimately provided it. However, the humility of the man came through as he grudgingly expressed respect for monotonous yet popular singers of the era such as KL Sehgal and Mukesh. He has gone on record to say that the work of these artists was too melodious for the bad boy image the protagonist of Indian cinema was evolving into in the 80's. The Naxalbadi movement in Bengal, which included in its folds the most intellectual of Bengal's sons and daughter's sparked the fire in Lahiri's huge belly. This violent sentiment is reflected in the super duper title song of "Gunmaster G9". However, with the death of Marxism, Lahiri evolved as a person and as a composer, churning out such hits as "I am a Disco Dancer" stressing on individualism and leadership. Like a shepherd leading a set of disillusioned lambs, he led the revolution of moving over to the other side of Marxism by calling out to the average Jimmy with "Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aja Aja Aja", relying on brilliant repetitive techniques. His work with the sex workers of Bombay is documented in his ode to them - "Rambha Ho Ho Ho" and is rumored to have catapulted him into running for next year's Nobel Peace Prize (I mean c'mon Gore just cares about the environment, not people and he gets a Nobel!)

No piece on Lahiri will ever be complete without a mention of that other thespian of the alternative movie watching experience - Mithun Chakraborty. Industry insiders, who do not wish to be named confirm that Lahiri was losing his way in his career after a promising start with lackluster songs such as the Kishore sung "Chalte Chalte" before Chakraborty arrived on the scene with "Disco Dancer", giving Lahiri's career as effective support as the wonderbra. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Nature never sends a great man into the planet, without confiding the secret to another soul." And how fortunate we are that soul turned out to be the angel, known to the world as Mithun Chakraborty.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

400

I am obviously not talking about Sachin Tendulkar's record of most ODI's or guessing the title to the sequel of the cult film '300' where in a mood of gay merriment on having won the war, the soldiers interbreed and thus increase their population by 33.33%. This is about someone bigger than Tendulkar or the six-packed cast of 300 can ever aspire to be - me. I am talking about fulfilling my recent aspiration of burning 400 calories in 30 minutes on the Cardio machines in our gym.

Ever since I was a kid, I had a platonic fascination for long legs in straight leg blue jeans, preferably ending in dirty boots. The very first influence was undoubtedly the countless Spaghetti Westerns I was exposed to very early in my life, thanks to my father, who is a huge fan of one of the most stylish men ever to occupy screen space - Clint Eastwood. So, I became a fan too as I watched him walk his famous walk and shoot dirty Mexicans (looks like Dubya is a fan too) from under his shawl while squinting and moving his cigar around in his mouth. Then there was the Marlboro man with his horse and cowboy hat, riding through the dusty heartland of America. And finally, much closer to home, was our very own Jaggu Dada with his red Ramboesque cloth and ragged beard swooning women and me in "Hero".

Papa gave me a good head start in my quest by donating me long legs through his genes. Now it was up to me to tone them perfectly for those skin-tight, circulation hindering jeans. Mind you, I have no ambition to pump iron and grow muscles like our Bollywood heroes of today. That is child's play as has been proved by every Tom, Dick and Harry Bollywood male (and some female) aspirant, but maintaining the right amount of fat in your leg is the stuff of legends. One has to restrict the body to a complex state of balance and restraint rather than go overboard and have a six pack.

That momentous evening is still as fresh as dew that causes outfielders to misfield, in my mind. It was quite late by gym going standards. I had been forced to work late, but little did I know that I would channel my anger thus in achieving such great heights in working out history. The silence in the gym was punctuated by the whirring of the rotating table fan while a group of fat (oh, I mean big, with all the political correctness in the world today) people fought it out on the TV overhead to be crowed the 'The Biggest Loser'. With determination that would have made Rocky Balboa proud, I told myself that I had to show these sore (from working out) losers tonight who was indeed the biggest loser. And then I started.

Concentration was never a quality I could boast of, but I wish all those Swamijis who prescribed a few hundred different concoctions of different indigenous spices and a million expensive stones for me in order to induce that quality and still failed, could have seen me go on that poor machine that night. Sweat was trying to impede my vision, but it was as if Superman had himself flown down and lent me his X-ray vision for that half an hour, so that the figures on the machine never left my sight.

In the last five minutes, with victory peeking out at me like a new bride at her groom on the wedding night before this corrupt culture of dating before arranged marriages was in place, I could not stop. For my father, for all those Clint Eastwood westerns, for the Marlboro man and most importantly, for all the losers on the TV climbing some 400 feet building, I had to go on. And go on I did with sounds that would have made Jenna Jameson blush. As the thirty minutes were finally gone, and I fell on the floor with exhaustion and ecstasy, I was looking around for some admiring female glances by PYT's in pretty small things, but alas, there was not a soul there except for the bushy-mustached janitor, playing the Chariots of Fire tune on his harmonica.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend a leaf of gratitude to Jenna and all her fellow sisters who share the same profession as her. It was their creative verbal utterances in countless pieces of their work, that gave me ideas as I was beginning to see the white light of fatigue, and helped me maintain my stamina. It is not like I am receiving a plaque for my momentous achievement like that little man did, nor am I receiving pats on the back(side) from sensuous slim feme-fatale fingers, but like all great men, I am satisfied in my modesty. Who would have thought that I, from my chubby beginnings, would one day see 400 in all its low-fat 2% beauty. Where do I go from here? To quote the Little Ba!@#$%, 400 is just a number (in weak unmanly voice).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pot Pourri

The day started really really early, but very very well, thanks to Bhajan, Gambhir and Uthappa. Times of India managed to crack me up after the game with a headline that read 'India crush Aussies to maintain supremacy' or something to that effect. Yuvraj made 2 lakhs for three dives and two heaves. Rohit Sharma still didn't get to bat in front of his home crowd and the God Joginder Sharma, actually offered his fanatical followers (like yours truly) a little smile and provided teammates with insightful analysis of the game, mainly through hand gestures. Uthappa kissed the Aussies goodbye on live TV with a wink and smile, before Gambhir played an innings reminiscent of the Ganguly of the 20th century - the flamboyant timing and the consistent effective negating of spin. What's with Bangalore folks and their infatuation for Ponting's cheeks (remember the 'gentle'man at a recent charity auction) Shahrukh Khan was there, obviously neutral, since he didn't want to upset his Aussie fans who may have shed a tear or two while watching Kal Ho Na Ho. Oh wait, that was set in New York City, but who cares, all white people look the same anyway.

I had been converted from an Atheist to a Mithunist a while back by GreatBong, but today I actually got a darshan of Prabhuji in all his glory in the cinematic classic 'Gunda'. Thanks to a great rishi I met yesterday, who showed me this path of righteousness of the Lord. Needless to say I went into a fit and maybe, just for two hours, but I think I felt God inside my head (and don't believe people who say it's like an orgasm. It's a much more satisfying experience, I can assure you). He wrote white trousers and gyrated his hips like Basanti's Mausi's chakki. This extreme religious experience was preceded by some kirtan by that other great (aesthetically speaking, Sith) Lord - BapiDa. The W and I decided to convert some of our neighbors and provide some clarity into their mundane religious lives as we rolled the windows down of the Blue Lady to the beats of such classics as 'Gunmaster G9', 'Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aja Aja Aja', 'Rambha Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho', 'Everybody Dance with Mama' and of course our anthem - the evergreen 'I am a Disco Dancer'. Most notable conversions were those of a couple (the guy needed support from his better half as he almost slipped down the stairs they were climbing) and a young kid and his mom (we like to catch them young). We did receive a little infidelity from the mom's gaze, but who can deny the power of the kirtan?

Watched Wes Anderson's 'Darjeeling Limited' in the evening. My only background information on the guy was that he had made 'The Royal Tenenbaums', which I thought was one of those weird, but good comedies. Needless to say, I was surprised to hear Satyajit Ray's music playing in the background pretty soon after the start. I was also surprised by Owen Wilson's receding blond hairline, but that's a totally whole different story. And it wasn't just one tune, there were many from the melodious collection of his movies, and the ode to the great man was confirmed in the last scene when Anderson placed a portrait of Ray in a train called the 'Bengal Legacy' amid signs of the Royal Bengal Tiger (no, not Dada, the actual Tiger). This was a huge compliment since the Darjeeling Limited (their previous train) had a portrait of the Mahatma (who I think was a dude, in any case, he is probably India's most recognizable face internationally). Also, reminiscent were numerable train scenes from 'Sonar Kella'. This movie is unique since it is a road movie, and yet it is not. Anderson presents the very concept he actually pokes fun at. It is almost as if he is trying to prove the old age adage of 'It's the journey that matters and not the destination' very literally in a very unorthodox way. Irrfan Khan is wasted in the movie though, apart from a random Hindi abuse.

PS: People buy new clothes for Pujo, but coincidence sprung a fast one on me as I found myself buying some brand new underwear in Wal-mart today. Anyway, Shubho Bijoya dear readers.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pujo Blues

As I was driving back home from work today, I could hear drumming in the background of the Blue Lady's engine's usual humming. It took a moment to sink in that these were dhaak (traditional Pujo drum) sounds. Maybe it was this post by GreatBong that I had read earlier in the day that shoved my mind into the bright corridors of nostalgia. I pulled up to the makeshift pandal and relived my secret fantasy of referring to a stranger as 'Dada' with the excuse of asking about the Pujo in my probashi Bangla.

I rushed back after a quick shower, going for the semi-Bangla look of Kurti and Jeans. I felt I should hold back my total Bangla look of Pajama-Punjabi for Sunday since the average working class Bangalee may not have been ready for it, just like Zoolander's Magnum. The idols weren't bad with the colorful watery background and fake flame. I was admiring them silently when an obviously non-Bengali gentleman surprised me from behind with 'Do you know why they have dressed up that object like a woman's figure in a white saree with a red border?' I did not. So, told him the first creative believable thing that I could think of and moved away to admire the little stalls trying to emote the hullabaloo of Calcutta pandals.

The food was a huge let down. I had come expecting delights such as telebhaja, beguni and piyanji. What I found was a Sardarji serving what has come to define Indian food in this country, and I imagine all others except the motherland - your generic naan and some vegetarian sabzi. Where was the Phees Phry? Crestfallen, I was searching for solace in the faces of the Devis roaming around me. However, only a couple of them matched my definition of a Devi (which included wearing a flamboyant saree this evening), which I grant is very stringent off late since the Sharmila of Amar Prem and Chupke Chupke has been bothering me in my dreams.

Jhaal Muri seemed the closest thing to the culture since the guy selling CD's and DVD's did not have my request of Kishore's Rabindrasangeet (there were a lot of Anandamelas and other Bengali magazines, but I am not into them. I heard a gentleman joking with the seller that he would only pay the quoted price in Calcutta). The snack was very authentic and stung my nose like those countless jhal muris eaten on train journeys back home. Just as the sleepy voice on the jukebox was beginning to annoy me, an announcement was made that the evening would conclude with dhaak playing. Just like earlier, the quality was very good, but what surprised me was the main dhaak player. He was an ABCD (well not apparently C) teenager. The performance was so good that I found myself aspiring to do a dhunuchi dance to the beat. So, the evening was about to end on a good note, when I realized I was the only one there standing alone in a corner and not participating in adda with the average short, round, dark, bespectacled member of the crowd with shiny hair and that my only interaction with them had been to click photographs of couples with alien cameras while making sure the idols were "visible in the background", before disappearing into the night.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Memorable Memories

Recently, I have had way too many conversations with close friends about college days. So, a little blib about those magical days seems appropriate. What's strange though, is at the time they didn't seem so magical, but then again, magic is only apparent when you admire something from a distance, and in this case, time. Unlike the sale season at Mor Furniture, those days will never come back. It's not like you can go back to college and relive the times because chances are not more than 5% of your core gang will do the same at the same time, and let's face it, the only thing that mattered in college life were the memories created with those unsocial beings (like yourself) you befriended in the first year.

Georgia Tech hardly gave us the time to realize that Atlanta was a city that included places besides the campus. So, whenever I found myself not starting on a project due within the timespan between the commencement of labor and childbirth, I made my way to the infamous Third Floor of Matheson Dorm, which was usually as dirty as any Third World Country, and yet I loved it as much as I love a certain Third World Country. In the last semester it was the posher quarters of the ULC and fights over the PSP WWF game had substituted for cricket in the corridors of Matheson and breaking the overhead lights, thus showing a collective elevated standard of living as a result of the coops, internships and various on-campus jobs. There are a million such memories crystallized in the corridors of my memory, and I don't feel like trivializing them by talking about them here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Never Go to Lunch with ...

  • Creatures who consider you part of the menu.
  • Only Software people.
While I have never had the misfortune of claiming the first, today I was a victim of the second. With most of my usual lunch army playing volleyball today, I was left with the options of eating lunch alone, or with these God's stupendous creations. I still chastise myself for choosing the wrong option.

As I was appearing to look cool while tearing off the cheese from my pizza at the cafeteria, I got momentarily distracted from the innocuous table conversation about something inconsequential to livelihood by a new non-hideous female face. When my mind strayed back to the conversations, suddenly I was hearing words like 'vectors' and 'garbage collection'. In keeping with the theme of this post, I will just say that my mind found itself stuck in an infinite loop.

After bearing these stalactite-like sharp words, like some misdirected racial slur, for almost five minutes, the mind revolted through the tongue. As if to appease my hardware self, these code warriors suddenly started talking about that one course they had taken in college that involved wiring something together. Now, the eyes were searching for faces again fast - hideous notwithstanding, female notwithstanding. But alas, the ears were trapped and before I knew it, I had this choking feeling inside me as every pair of spectacled eyes in the cafe were on me as if reading me like a piece of code. And that is when I passed out, or should I say performed an Ungraceful Shutdown.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lab Adventures

Both highlights of the day happened in the lab at work today. Before the luncheon intermission, I managed to bump my head very badly on the razor-sharp blades of one of the testers. Great men leave their legacy in some form or another. In my case, they were in the forms of three strands of my not-so-luxuriant hair on the bloodied blades. A narcissist trip to the restroom showed me that the tester had indeed sindoorofied me with the original sindoor, unlike the sissy version used by most Indian wives. Of course, the 'ritual' was followed by KK asking me the usual "What have you been smoking?"

The other event happened when there was not a soul there. My friends on the east coast were probably smugly in bed, and here I was, trying to figure out which directory a certain file was in. Unfortunately, only one soul in the entire cosmos knows the secret location. So, I had to disturb him probably from his nice homely family dinner with my SOS signal. But, alas, I do not speak Vietnamese English yet, and so after umpteen attempts at linguistic analysis over the phone, I gave up, hung up the phone and shouted obscenities to an empty room, that echoed them back to me, yeah in English.

PS: And the day ends brilliantly as Orkut announces to me as nonchalantly as possible that today's fortune for me is: Behind an able man, there are always other able men.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hollywood Weekend

George Clooney caused a lot of grief to three twenty somethings who paid him for what seemed like 5-6 hours of their Friday evenings. No, he didn't make a house call for us. I am alluding to his new movie that hit the theaters this weekend - Michael Clayton. It is probably the worst movie I have seen in a theater. Even the leather jacket over the arm rest of the seat, serving as a makeshift pillow refused to allay the pain. The editing was pathetic with the movie having substantial substance only in the last 45 minutes or so. There was also no trace of a funny dialogue in the entire movie.

As a result of this catastrophic movie watching experience, I was shuddering as I put in Clooney's Three Kings into my DVD player. And this movie was the complete compliment of his last caper I had watched. I am not usually a big fan of war movies (though my all time favorite movie is Apocalypse Now), but this one combined humor and adventure very well. True to his name, Ice Cube turned in a calm and composed performance, complimenting Mark Walberg's usual brilliant intensity very well. I later learned that he actually got himself electrocuted in one of the torture scenes, while watching the documentary about the making of the film. It is really a heist film in the backdrop of war. Clooney played a good leadership role in the whole sand adventure like in the Ocean movies.

Finally overcame my laziness and made the call to Prof. So, now my 42" is mounted on the wall and there's space to walk around in the apartment without any threat to any of the toes. Also placed the dwarfs (the little speakers of the home theater system) in acoustically strategically proven positions so that they look like little snipers perched at high altitudes. This dash of activity mainly resulted from watching Star Wars Episode I on my cousin's 52" plasma LCD and Bose home theater system. Needless to say the whole experience was awesome. My already great amount of respect for Anakin Skywalker increased exponentially as a I learned he was hitting on elder women since he was a kid. I was also glad Kita, my 6 year old neice loved the movie. The three of us (Didi, Jijjajji and I) may very well end up succeeding in our common yet silent dream of turning her into one of us - a geek!

If you are a fan of the Western genre and one of your biggest regret is not seeing Clint Eastwood on the big screen, go watch 3:10 to Yuma. I am not saying it will erase the regret, but you are guaranteed to have a good time. It's got it all - great intense acting by Christian Bale, some bona fide bad ass-ness by Russel Crowe, who didn't have to act too hard I guess, some inspirational climactic Western music and a great cameo by Ben Foster as the notorious Charlie Prince. He actually stole the show in my opinion. However, the movie does take on the role of Morality Professor towards the end and you get a little pissed off as it takes some of Crowe's bad ass-ness away.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Inside every Modern Cricket 'Fan' lives a Showman

Falling objects fascinated Newton, electricity fascinated Edison, relativity fascinated Einstein and in 2007, one thought fascinates me to no end. Why do cricket 'fans' suddenly start looking delighted when the camera focuses on them and start cheering and waving their 4 and 6 signs, no matter what is happening on the pitch. I mean, their respective team could be in danger of losing their Test status after being 9 wickets down to Papa New Guinea, but these people who call themselves fans of the game, suddenly forget everything in the glare of the camera and pose with enthusiasm that would put nubile college girls in Girls Gone Wild videos to shame.

It's no hidden fact that the cameraman usually focuses on the game if the quality of the cricket is good, unless of course he is Henry Blofeld's partner in crime (remember the guy who always focused on the taboo ears of Sharjah women back in the days when India winning a match there against Pakistan on a Friday was as common as an Indian female fan flashing?). So, obviously when the quality of the cricket is questionable and assuming Michael Clarke is batting but the cameraman is straight, of course he will be focusing on the crowd! And the crowd oblige with expressions that can give Shakti Kapoor a complex. Big difference from the days when the 'gentleman's' game was enjoyed exclusively by starchy old men in starchy old suites over cups of tea, not tilted more than 2.5 degrees and served in the finest of china, sitting on picketed lawns as green as Saba Karim's envy at his fellow Bihari's success, no?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Flickr

Discovered this new website called Flickr from a friend. It's a haven for exhibitionists like me. Here's a little self advertisement.

Dhamaal Batura!

Broke the world record for the fastest eaten piping hot Chana Baturas (two) today evening and in the process destroyed the roof of my mouth (once again). It wasn't hunger or the taste of either the Chana or the Baturas, but I had a ticket for Dhamaal at 8 and the waiter brought out the food at 7:51 with a smile that seemed to say "Good luck mate. On your marks, set, GO!". For the next eight minutes, the other "patrons" at the restaurants let their food cool down as they simply watched me go. Damn! Should have laid out my handkerchief (yes, I still carry one of those at all times in this country!) next to me and collected the finances for the entire evening.

Dhamaal's second half was too funny for words. Sure, the movie had its incredulous moments and some borrowed ones from Bean and Road Trip, but the camaraderie of the central cast showed in their fantastic comic timing. Hilarious cameos by Vijay Raaz and his fellow actor (from the Krack Jack commercials) had me laughing continuously for almost a minute and a half. The movie ended with a great message and a few seconds of fantastic varied acting by Javed Jaffery and Arshad Warsi.

PS: Saw trailers of Saawariya. I think Bhansali is going for the whole musical feel from the looks of it. He has a greater probability of scoring with the Indian audience than Coppola did with an American one with his One from the Heart.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Scandalous Notes on Amar Prem

The only reason a movie like Amar Prem ended up on my Netflix list was because it had Sharmila looking like the goddess Durga. Needless to say, I was watching it with the same mindset as I would watch a reality show on baboons on Animal Planet - to mock what unfurled on the screen. This is probably why I was pleasantly surprised by the director Shakti Samanta (who is a family friend I am told) and more by Rajesh Khanna.

The only movie I had liked Khanna in before this was Namak Haram, and maybe his communist character had subconsciously appealed to my genes. Who knows!? While most critics rate his performance in Anand as one of his best, I thought he was annoyingly loud and bugging in the movie. Yeah, I know the character was like that, but I think he took it a tad too far. Having said all that, I think it was fantastic casting him as the perpetually drunk Anand Babu in Amar Prem. His nuances looked cool suddenly, so much so that, I started respecting him! The line that steals it for me is "Arrey Dost, Aadmi poora di kaam karke ghar waapas aata hai to woh kuch chahta hai, aur agar use woh ghar mein nahin milta, toh woh use baahar dhoondta hai."

PS: I was also very impressed with Om Prakash telling a supposedly conservative middle class Indian audience of 1972 that it is OK to indulge in ménage à trois, and here I was giving Austin Powers all the credit along with his Japanese companions. If Om Prakash was around before Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas was made, he could have given Jaggu Dada some useful tips on Bangla pronunciation as well.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Rollercoaster of Love and Anger

Today I went through what is an actor's delight, or should be anyway - a range of emotions...well it was actually just two, but they were way off one another. So, I fell in love again today after lunch while watching Sharmila toying with Rajesh Khanna's (and indirectly my) heart in AmarPrem. More notes on this very very forward for its times (IMO) movie to follow. And I say that, not because they show prostitutes to be beautiful inside too. There are more subtle things I discovered that would prompt Spike TV to make Rajesh Khanna their brand ambassador in a heartbeat. I am not promising any boring reviews, but I'll write about Khanna - the Alpha Male angle. This of course is news to me since I used to consider him the predesissy of Gayrukh Khan, following in the footsteps of Gaylip Kumar.

Call me Shallowness Personified but Sharmila was so stunning that I was able to completely ignore her annoyingly naka dialogue delivery. Incidentally, the nakamo is the only reason she is number three on my all-time list. After the W pointed it out, I realized he was right, at least with respect to her at that time of her life. So he feels that if you disregard her Bong eyes, she looks decidedly Mediterranean. She had a very sexy tan in the film, probably thanks to a sunny honeymoon with the Nawab. I also noticed remains of the tan in Chupke Chupke, even though the movie was released three years after Amar Prem.

And then, just now, Endulkar has caused a lot of anger to well up inside me, and those who know me well, will agree that is a Goliathan task given my stoical tendencies. When I heard the team for the game, I was irked with the BCCI for selecting the three old men. However, I must say I was appreciative of Dada and Dravid for even attempting to up the rate. Endulkar, though, just amazes me with every passing game. I am sorry if this sounds harsh but it looks like the man is just playing for records now and doesn't really care if Team India wins or looses. What was even more frustrating was Uthappa's late blitz, just proving the BCCI's madness in choosing age over youth. I think one of the fans summed it up pretty nicely when he held up a poster that said "Sachin, this is not a test match".

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Ekla Chalo

There's a certain mystic coolness about going to the movies alone without letting anyone know. For those couple of hours, you are lost to the world - off the radar of your loan sharks (just kiddin' of course). Thoughts such as 'if an alien ship abducts me right now, near and dear ones will be going mad with worry and grief in a couple of hours and running around, making frantic calls without much clarity' can do strangley good to your self-esteem. And like a man eater who tastes human blood for the first time, I am beginning to enjoy this socially unacceptable ecstatic feeling. And what enhances the feeling is if there are hardly any other people in the theater. Of course, the movie and the show times play a great hand in this. And here in the US, with accessibility to one's own space not posing a problem, you don't even have smooching couples disturbing you from your solitude from dark corners with their Acapella soundtrack.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

No Gaddari to 'Johnny Mera Naam'

As I was watching 'Johnny Gaddar', one thought kept haunting me - if Mukesh had worked out a bit and tried his hand at acting, he may well have been the greatest showman in Bollywood. His grandson Neil Mukesh, who looks a lot like him, can be described in two words - Pretty Boy. OK OK...maybe I am being a little harsh. After all, I think his acting and especially his expressions, apart from his dialogue delivery were pretty subtle and effective, though we would never know if the subtlety was intended or accidental. Logic, though, says that a debutante probably hit subtlety by accident. However, casting him in this role was a very smart move, reinforcing the concept of the baby-faced killer that has sent chills down our spines time and again. Mukesh seems to suit the part of the urban street smart chokra with an unbelievably low amount of GQ (guilt quotient).

Apart from the protagonist's dialogue delivery, I would say that the first half of 'Johnny Gaddar' is near perfect. The second half isn't bad, but the halves seem warped. The script has way too much comedy in the second half for a thriller, when compared to the first one, and in my mind, a thriller's script should be like a staircase, with the end culminating in the climax. I must mention here that the elderly lady sitting in front of me probably thought I was an illegally emigrated truck driver from some remote Punjab village the way I was guffawing every time Dharam Paaji said anything in English, which was way too often mind you. They kept reminding me of the suicide scene from Sholay.

Visually, this is certainly one of the best films I have seen since Amelie. C.K. Muraleedharan's use of color is really commendable considering the entire movie has an urban setting and he did not need escapist song sequences shot in Switzerland or Kashmir to showcase his talent. Some of the easier but nice shots include those taken on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. He shot the entire train sequence very smartly, also rendering the Indian Railways a posh look, only rivalled by its European counterparts.

Shankar Mahadevan does not overuse his music. Just as the audience begins to loose interest in the songs, director Sriram Raghavan fills in some action to hold the audience's attention. Before watching the movie, only the title track had attracted me. After watching the movie, I can safely say that it was picturized even better. Raghavan uses the lyrics to express the protagonist's guilt very effectively.

Zakir Hussain is fabulous and manages to outshine even the ever dependable Vinay Pathak. His histrionics don't look over the top even for a single second. Govind Namdeo is fantastic in his short bursts. Rimi Sen seems to have improved since I last saw her on celluloid. Dharam Paaji is alright except when he is speaking Angreji or trying to die a la Amitabh style in Nirupa-ji's arms, but of course you expect more from such an experienced actor.

Raghavan turns out to be a revelation. His last film was also good, but tended towards darkness, intended I am sure. While this films also deals with a dark topic, it has its light moments and the script mentions hope in passing through Rimi and Neil's search of a better life, and the treatment of the film reflects this. A couple of scenes were unnecessarily bloody, but probably made as homage to Tarantino and his fascination for showing blood and gore on screen. The credits are also done in a way that is novel to Indian cinema as far as I know. The film is stylish, and yet, it doesn't loose its focus in all the action, like 'Kaante', a film of a similar setting. His immense eye for detail comes through in little facts like showing the old-fashioned Dharam Paaji character using exclusively one of those large telephones you could kill a man with even though the story is set in 2007 when almost nobody uses landlines, let alone giant phones.

I like Raghavan the script writer more than Raghavan the director. The script is very honest and openly acknowledges films like 'Parwana' and 'Johnny Mera Naam' and the work of James Hadley Chase. The films starts out with dedications to Vijay Anand and Chase - great influences on Raghavan's formative mind I am sure. Almost every scene in the movie is related to the plot in the script. An interesting point to note is that the mystery does not lie in the fact whether Neil is the bad guy, but whether he gets caught or not. Maybe the plot had one too many twists, but I'll give Sriram the benefit of the doubt. Without giving away much, I just want to say that the end dishes out irony in true Shakespearean style. I will gladly give this film an 8/10 and actually feel a little bad about watching it at a discounted price.

Of Déjà vu and Telepathy

If on that cloudy momentous day, back in 1998, when I bid adieu to a veritable opponent, somebody had told me that my nemesis would be back to bite my on the rear nine years later in another continent, I would have laughed harshly on their face. I had just finished the final exams in class VIII and was feverish with the erotic thrill of meeting a new sensual seductress called Ms. French who would be substituting old bushy-mustached Mr. Hindi. However, life has a funny way of serving you lemons repeatedly, sugarcoating it in amorous French (ah, that still makes my heart skip a beat) – “déjà vu”.

So, yesterday I found myself sprawled in a stranger’s living room squinting through the Hindi script of ‘Iss Kambakht Sathe ka kya Karen?’ and acting like I was following, it when all I was doing was waiting for my cue to practice my false laughter, of which I got a lot of practice, I must admit. I can actually imagine my class VIII Hindi teacher, given up on dying her hair now, pointing her index finger at me and guffawing on her rocking chair, which is creaking in unison. Of course, that is assuming she is an avid reader of this blog, which by any stretch of imagination is as incredulous as Abhishek Bachhan getting the 'Dancing Hero' tag.

The language barrier apart, I am quite satisfied with the group. At least, it will give me something to do other than listen to the W drone on about Californian laziness, maturity et al. Read some interesting notes of Sriram Raghavan’s ‘Johnny Gaddar’ here by Jabberwock. My interest is piqued and so, will take advantage of Naz’s discounted Tuesday movies offer for the first time.

Since I am talking about déjà vu, let me slip in what happened at lunch today – telepathy. Just like the smell of cheese can mobilize Jerry like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, any sort of Piscean being near a grill can do the same to me. So, needless to say, I got the grilled trout with extra rice instead of the veggies (I am mentally allergic to most of them), and I was thinking to myself, ‘Geez, how Bong is that?’ I am sure both my great grandfathers were smiling down from the heavens, or wherever they are, as I was enjoying my maach-bhaat along with some UEFA cup action on the plasma in our cafeteria. Sure, there was salsa instead of jhol and some stupid teams called Manure and Coma instead of the great Mohun Bagan and a little lesser great East Bengal, but I could very well have been sitting in the Salt Lake stadium having Ileesh in a to-go box. Suddenly, a manger commented ‘Wow, that’s typical Bengali food’. I flashed one of those dumb ‘You are so smart. Gimme a promotion now’ smiles and passed the equally dumb ‘Salsa for Curry’ joke and was momentarily distracted from the insipid game by the polite laughter that resulted.

PS: I hope the randomness of this post will impress a certain critic.
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