Friday, August 22, 2008

God Tussi Great Ho- the review
(Another one bites the dust)

Bruce : Lord, feed the hungry, and bring peace to all of mankind. How's that?
God : Great... If you wanna be Miss America.

God : Bruce, you have a divine spark. You have a gift for bringing joy and laughter to the world. I know, I created you.
Bruce : Quit bragging.

Say you were Rumi Jaffrey for a half-year. No, let's say God gave you the kind of resources and laissez faire Mr. Jaffrey had while he tried to reproduce Bruce Almighty in amchi Mumbai. Now, the first thing you'd probably want to do is exclude the brand of humor in the original movie that you believe your Indian audience might not appreciate. For example, like in the lines above. Mark it, I said it's what you believe, not I. And definitely not your viewers, who, according to you, are from Ulhasnagar and Jhumri Talaiya and such like, and they are so crass that a brilliantly impossible story and kickass punchlines can't hold their attention for one hundred and sixty odd minutes unless your vertically challenged club bouncer of a hero struts in wearing his form hugging floral shirt and breaks into a vulgar jig every now and then to the tune of some asinine music. You'd also feel somehow that the God-meets-man-and-shows-some-tricks scenario can only appeal to the audience if presented with the right sort of special effects,e.g, melting skies, a road on the clouds, folks walking on air and vaporising at will, that sort of stuff. You'd moreover, doubtless require that between your bouncer and his girl, there should be a rival lover angle for comic relief. Hell, it worked in Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, and it worked in MPKK, didn't it? It always works man, and you know how to do it. In fact, your first half should only comprise your brand of triangular fun, right? God? Oh He'll wait. You know your crowd too well. Hell, you can twist them around your middle finger, huh, Rumi?

(But guess what, Rumi Almighty? While you were busy touching up the special effects, somebody's gone and changed the rules. The audience now, most unfair of them, are hardly pining for an item number on Aksa beach. Even your mentor doesn't know what the viewer wants anymore. Yes, the formidable Dhawan grapples today with the balancing game between the republic of Barka kana and the plex crowds. And you thought you had it all made, didn't you?)

Nuff said. If you were Rumi you wouldn't make these mistakes, I'm sure. I know I wouldn't. The trick here was making it with minimal creative liberties. One had perhaps one of a dozen greatest original comedies of all times, and all one needed to do was add small desi touches here and there. One needn't let loose a creative diarrhea. One certainly needn't select a lead actor who plays all his roles like he is on stage doing a live show (my choice was Arshad Warsi, remember?) and a former beauty queen who looks like she hasn't slept in a week (Priyanka, go spend a month at some spa, please, and quit worrying how Katrina is moving ahead). Speaking of mistakes one shouldn't make, one should also never, never include that mad monkey Sohail Khan in any sort of cinematic enterprise.

In the original film, the homeless man never talks to Bruce Nolan. He does it with his puns on the placard. In the last scene, his board reads: Armageddon outta here. And his face morphs into God's (Morgan Freeman's) as he walks away. In Rumi's edition, he's made that man Salman's chummy and confidante. Towards the end, he is granted a long denied wish, and turns into a barking dog. They put him in a cage and take him away. An eye-opener on how far backwards Rumi had got it all.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The King and I

The song on my scroll sidebar. I don't know why in my mind it associates with incessant rainfall. Isn't only because it mentions "pouring rain" once. The association probably has to do my listening to it a lot during the rains in a hazy, distant past almost two decades ago when I used to play it on my walkman while riding on a motorcycle, stopping at some dhaba for chai and a smoke when it started to pour.

This year again, a long monsoon is playing itself out. It refuses to go away. The song won't, either. Playing through my mind all this week.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Road Rash

One day, when I have enough money, I will buy a big bad SUV. And I will fit it with extra strength wraparound grills made of thick steel tubes on the front and rear bumpers. And I will drive it out on the national highway. And I will bump off the assholes who drive their 100cc motorcycles on the middle of the road one by one. I will give me five bucks for every creep bumped and ten for every fuckface sent flying out of the road. Every time I make a hundred, I will open a can of cold beer from the ice box I'll keep handy on the cabin side of the said monster. And oh, I forgot the cattle grazers. Those boys that let loose their herd on the highway. If there is one group of people who have caused me the most physical harm and irreparable mental trauma, they're IT. I intend to do them maximum damage. For them I'll carry an air gun loaded with .22 caliber bullets. I might have to pull off the road for these cattle-men sometimes, but I'm more than willing to take the trouble. Whenever I spot one of them scums trying to unleash cows on the asphalt, I'll slow down and shoot that man in the ass. Maybe shout out a term of endearment too, for good measure. I can do it throughout the day, across state boundaries, while listening alternately to Bruce Springsteen and Led Zeppelin. Yeah that's my medium term ambition in life.

You ask what I'm gonna do in the long term then? Oh nothing much, really. I'll only trade off my SUV for a 12000 cc sixteen cylinder DaimlerChrysler truck. And I'll bribe some official of the Steel Authority of India into selling me some scrap at a cheap price. You see, I need these two pieces of 20 millimeter thick and 250 wide hot rolled steel arisings, about 10 meters long, which I'd put under a shaping machine to give them a sharp wedge shaped profile, and fit them onto the sides of the undercarriage. I'd love it if these attachments could be made to slide out and retract hydraulically, but that feature, while extremely flamboyant and James Bond-esque, might come prohibitively expensive, I suspect. And I'll drive my truck out on the national highway. And on a good day, there will be any number of rogue truckers with emptied cargo traveling at 75 km an hour and trying to overtake other loaded trucks moving at 70. They will easily hold all traffic at ransom for an agonizing 10 minutes, liberally snorting the black soot they belch out. They will take great pleasure playing out this long drawn charade that is the staple of our great Indian highway system. It's precisely at this point that I'll step in. At first I'll politely flash my lights and ask for passage. Failing this, I'll meekly honk my horns at them three times. Upon which, the rogue trucker will extend a condescending arm from his cabin window and ask me to wait. After a few minutes of this, we will be on the clear and he will wave that arm again with supreme benevolence, beckoning me to come take that passage. While passing his truck, I'll smile and wink. And casually scrape my steel wedge against his chassis. I might even slash a tyre or two if I get lucky . After every three rogues I've maimed, I'll treat myself to a bottle of cold Kingfisher I'll keep handy in an ice box etc. I can do it all day, across state boundaries, listening alternately to Daler Paaji and Sukhwindera.

Please don't get the wrong picture here. I'm a thoroughly non-violent man, given to harming nothing and nobody in particular in course of my simple journey through life. For the most part, I'd even rather not talk about my secret fantasies on a blog post. It's only that I took on myself a road trip on my car, driving some 150 km to and fro in a good holiday spirit, on Independence day. And that the cattle grazers and other parties I met on the way brought back lots of older memories. And that these memories gave vent to many a bridled emotion. Also that I still get the recurrent vision of a tall strapping calf flying out athwart my windshield, which wakes me up sometimes in the middle of the night.