Thursday, August 27, 2009

Music and lyrics

If a continental youth wants to declare his love to a girl, he kneels down, tells her that she is the sweetest, the most charming and ravishing person in the world, that she has something in her, something peculiar and individual which only a few hundred thousand other women have and that he would be unable to live one more minute without her. Often, to give a little more emphasis to the statement, he shoots himself on the spot. This is a normal, week-day declaration of love in the more temperamental continental countries. In England the boy pats his adored one on the back and says softly: "I don't object to you, you know." If he is quite mad with passion, he may add: "I rather fancy you, in fact."

-George Mikes, How to be an Alien

It's that season of the year again when one tends to get a wee bit soppy. More the continental in the above context, if you will. It also helps when it's pouring outside, one's child has the half-yearly exams coming on, and mummy has taken full control of affairs. Going out is ruled out by exam and weather, and having gotten hold of a half-decent Maths tutor ensures one is rendered fairly redundant in the household. Having a dram of ol' Scotland in stock can't hurt. What does one do, under the circumstances? One can listen to one's favorite ghazals, watch the rain yonder through the window panes, and ponder. Quite a nice way to be!

Ladies and gentlemen, I then present you, what I've been listening to.

Kabhi yun bhi aa meri aankh mein ke meri nazar ko Khabar na ho
Mujhe ek raat nawaaz de magar uske baad sehar na ho

Woh badaa rahiim-o-kariim hai mujhe ye sifat bhi adaa kare
tujhe bhulne ki dua karoon to dua mein meri asar na ho

Mere bazooomein thakee thakee abhi mehr-e -khab hain chandni
Na uthe sitaron ki palki abhi aahaton ka guzar na ho

Woh firaaq ho yaa visaal ho, teri yaad mahakegi ek din
Woh gulab ban ke khilega kyaa, jo chirag ban ke jalaa na ho

Kabhi din ki dhoop mein jhoom ke kabhi shab ke phool ko choom ke
Yun hi saath saath chalein sada kabhi khatm apana safar na ho

If I have a problem with the the original poetry of Bashir badr, it is that the ghazal doesn't have a suitable climax. It fails to really build on the first two brilliant couplets. However the matla' alone is enough to make it count as an all time favorite. While I simply love the Hussain Brothers' version, the same, alas, I can't say about Jagjit Singh's. He seems to have taken a beautiful love song and turned into a wailing in pain directed towards the divine. I can understand the grave personal trauma he was going through at the time when he recorded the song in 1991, but still.

For months now, I've wanted to translate the poetry. From my lame attempts in the past, you'd know my bad propensity towards doing it in rhyme. Here, then. Promise not to make fun.

Appear in my vision once, just so

Naïve eyes do not need to know

Stay with me but a night, just so

Dawn never breaks on the morrow.

Praise be to God, may He please

Bless me with a virtue so rare

Pray I might, make me forget you

He must never answer my prayer

Wrapped in my arms, one kind dream

Lies still a pale and tired moon

The stars won’t fade out just yet

Heartaches won’t fall asleep so soon

Together, or far apart, your thought

Like incense, on my mind 'll grow

Flourish like a blossom how can he

Burning in flame who’s yet to know?

Basked in a bright summer sun

Kissed by the night in full hue

Strolling forever hand in hand

May our odyssey ever continue

p.s. I've since managed to embed the song sung by The Hussain Brothers.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Paifa vafool!

Yesterday we went to watch a movie. Which is news, under the circumstances. The missus was apprehensive of going into a movie hall. She's read somewhere that crowded air conditioned spaces are the ideal transfer points of H1N1. Thankfully nobody in the plex coughed, sneezed, or looked sick in any manner. Nobody was wearing a mask. Yours truly was the only person letting out an occasional cough and getting regarded with alarmed looks. I'm told young Ms. Ayushi is having a similar experience in school. These days their teachers are told to stay alert for probable cough and cold symptoms. And every morning at the assembly, under those observant eyes, our daughter feels a huge sneeze welling up inside her whenever she looks at the morning sun. She says the sun getting in her eyes makes her sneeze. I believe we are a family of nervous sneezers and coughers.

About what we chose to watch, I'm more than satisfied.

Kaminay is farp. Kaminay is ftark. (It even has a racy number called fatak, which, shock of shocks, is actually about Shahid Kapoor the goody NGO worker Guddu, extolling the virtue of safe sex with a bit of pomp and circumstance, inside a red light district. I'd never have guessed. But I get ahead of myself here....where was I? ) Yes. Kaminay has the the Vishal Bhardwaj stamp of quality. In extra bold letters too. The slight variation here is in the pace of events as they build up towards a climax. Were Mr. Bharadwaj playing cricket, this would be his debut in oneday matches. All them gangsters, the chase scenes, the arson and shootouts, this is territory often frequented by a fellow Tarrantino fan, Fanjay F. Gupta. But like they say, the proof of the effing is in the color of the baby's eyes. I'm quite sure if Guptaji were to make this film, a certain Mr. Dutt would be playing the kamina played here (with sublime panache', I must add) by Amol Gupte. And we all know how it would turn out, don't we? So there.

The triumph of scene and dialogue writing that was integral to Omkara and Maqbool takes Mr. Bharadwaj to new realms here. Unlike these earlier adaptations where the literary backbone demanded him to dispense the bard's famous monologues every once in a while, here he has more freedom over the original storyline (unless, that is to say, this is his take on The comedy of errorf. Just a thought). The result is spectacular. In Kaminay, Vishal uses the economy of words and subtle wordplay to perfection. It all starts to happen in the first 90 seconds of the film. When Charlie the lisper lays out the rules of the story and lets you know why he will call an f an f. That opening grabs one by the balls and fixes the attention squarely. From then on it's one rocking ride.

The gems of dialogue were discussed in great detail by Raja Sen on rediff. The only thing I might add is the one instance where the dialogue was left unsaid. In the early minutes of the film, Charlie says something like, "watt usse nahi lagti ki kaunsa rasta tum chunte ho. Balki watt usse lagti hai ki kaunsa rasta tum chhodte ho." Now I couldn't make much of it at the time (in any case, I have limited understanding of mumbaiyya language; in my opinion, agar CFL nahi jalaoge to bahut watt lag jayega). Not until towards the very end of the climax when Charlie decides to play proper and not pick up the two huge diamonds from a dead Tashi's hand, and gets shot at the back as a result. You are shown a tight close shot of the hand with diamonds and the dialogue is left unrepeated. Masterly!

Shahid Kapoor acts like he's the future of hindi cinema. Well, perhaps he is. He and Abhay Deol. But the refreshing surprises are in Ms Chopra's hurricane Marathi lines, the awesome ensemble cast of cameo players largely unseen in hindi screen (especially the bong brothers), and every character defined with nuances. From what one has seen in an otherwise drab year for Bollywood, surely this will be the one 2009 is going to be remembered by.

Monday, June 08, 2009


Here. Take every adoring glance
Here. Take morning bliss
Here. Take all my favorite words since childhood
Here. Take success, albatross in flight
Here. Take the most secret ecstasy of adolescence
Here. Take love, winding road in the hills
Here. Take missives from faraway lands
Here. Take memories, gemstones threaded in sun and rain
Here. Take this hanky, transience
Here. Take promises, run of the river
Here. Take the misery of pen on paper
Here. Take my palms, a-begging reprieve
Here. Take this bust oozing liquid fire
Here. Take ambition, a midsummer night's gale
Here. Take absolutely glorious failure
Here. Take every treasure this broken casket holds
Here. Take the call of wilderness
Here. Take countless doors ajar
Here. Take all the tears the heart would hide
Here. Take freedom, release
Here. Take affection, a pool gathered in droplets
Here. Take remembrance, take oblivion
Here. Take heaven's flag

What gives ?

p.s. (With apologies to Sunil Gangopadhyay, from whose original this is an almost verbatim translation. Except for the last line, which should have literally been : "Care to give anything?" But I wanted a twist.)

p.s.2 (On a summer holiday back home, I was browsing through a decrepit bookshelf from when I was in school. There I revisited this book. It's called "In love with you, blank sheet." Again, verbatim)

p.s.3 (I haven't got one. I envy people who do)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Of Police, media and other forms of recreation

Been M.I.A for a while, huh, fellers? What to do, it's well nigh impossible to attend to two blogs at a time. And my other blog had been keeping me completely busy these last few days.

I kid, of course.

In actual point of fact, the venerable broadband service providers of this holy state of Jharkhand were playing games with me. I was practically out of net at home (save a pathetic GPRS connection), and somehow I haven't really got around to writing posts at work. (Don't get me wrong here, it's not about scruples. I mean trading stocks, reading blogs or downloading Madelyn Marie at work is okay for me. Writing something takes a bit of peace and quiet.) It can all be put down to a copped out ADSL modem that took one week to detect and another to replace. But that wouldn't be an interesting story, no? Thought so.

In interesting news, then, there's this young stud. Bears a striking resemblance to Jeff Goldbaum the fly. If looks were the only criterion he would be babe magnet. Maybe he is. What matters, however, is that he and five of his friends took one girl to a pub. They all had plenty to drink. And smoke, maybe . Rest of the matter is sub-judice. This chap,Vinamra Soni, was on a train to Jamshedpur two days later. He took a call from his father, telling him to alight midway and wait for his parents, who were on their way to take him back to Mumbai, to surrender at a police station.

The parents-in-law of my good friend In dino (you can see him here, the bottle opener guy) live in Jamshedpur. They have this sprawling three-storied house in Sonari area. The ground floor they have rented out. Their tenants for the past twenty years are a well-to-do business family who own a few retail outlets in the city and are, reportedly, nice gentle folks. The landlords also report they used to raise their kids in a strict disciplinarian fashion.

You know where this is going, don't you? Only it's not getting there. The young Mr. Soni already has some support in the bloggosphere. I'm not here to strengthen it. Though he appears now to be in the deepest pile of shit. And I tend to have a bit of sympathy for anyone in deep shit.

It went like this. In the morn 21st last week, the Sonis told their landlords they'll be out of town for a few days. Business related problem, they said. Towards evening, cops were all over the premises. State cops and Mumbai police crime branch together. Short of a sniper and a coupla armoured cars, it looked exactly like a terrorist bust. They asked the landlord where were his tenants, and moreover, why he kept such shady tenants. They tried to kick open the tenants' front door. They accused the landlords of not keeping an eye on their tenant's errant son. Eventually they got tired after an hour or so (the door was solid teak) and left in a huff. Perhaps they had received news of the arrest. The landlords slept fitfully through the night.

Only to be woken up by scores of microphone wielding TV people in the morning. Ye hai aj tak, aur ham dikha rahe hain woh ghar jisme... They thrust the mic at their faces, the poor in-laws. Since when have you known Vinamra Soni? Did he have a normal childhood? How do you feel now that the boy who lived under your roof is today a wanted criminal?

I rolled on the floor when narrated the scene. Not because it was funny or anything. But it instantly reminded me of the one scene from Notting Hill, where Spike, in briefs, opens the front door for the paparazzi.

Oh how one wishes one could be in the right place at the right time, wearing the right sort of underwear!

In other news, I was leafing through an old Roald Dahl collection yesterday, when I stumbled on, and re-read, PIG. In these days of swine flu. Funny coincidence. Oddly, I've always loved stories like these, where terrible things happen to protagonists without reason or logic. So much so the macabre borders the surreal. I think I had a troubled childhood.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Jungle jungle phool khila hai...

Dear people with very large photographic equipment,

Please do kindly keep it in mind that your 1000x zoom attachments may actually look very threatening to man and animal. Especially animal. You can't blame a two and a half year old tiger for mistaking them for Howitzer cannons. He is but an adolescent yet to learn the ways of the world. It speaks volumes for the great lineage and upbringing of the Bandhavgarh tiger that he keeps his composure and sang froid in front of a 100-strong motley crowd from all over the world brandishing what look like deadly weapons of mass destruction. Do also realize, that when you are there to see the tiger and tiger will most likely come to you (they've signed an MOU or something) you don't really need the zoom. Tigers are large animals, clearly visible to the naked eye and an average camera. If you must keep them screwed on, cover them up with a cloak or something. You can even cover yourselves up with it, like the photographers in the early twentieth century. Once you are done seeing the tiger, you can bring out the zoom all you like and shoot birds and lizards aplenty.
You sir, the dignified looking elderly gent wearing animal planet logo all over your attire, (were you really from animal planet?) must remember that it is bad form to sit head and shoulders above and in front of everybody on a jeep with pimped up seats when all else are causing serious damage to their neck muscles trying to catch a glimpse from their standard issue open-hooded gypsies.
Dear lady with the 42'' waist pair of jeans,
It intrigued me no end as to what you and your boyfriend kept looking at through your ginormous zoom lens in the Kendua tree at white tiger forest lodge, all morning and afternoon. Yes, I understand there must've been some birds there, but don't you think the rough and tumble of the tiger show in early morning called for a restful day spent with a drop of ale and a 3000 calorie power lunch, fit for the tiger, spread out by the excellent culinary team at the lodge?
Speaking of which, dear reader, it's a party out there. And to quote one Mr. Mark Knopfler, you may kiss the cook, indeed. He's gold. They don't make cooks like him anymore. He just ladles in the LDL. Never shies away from throwing 700 calories into a dish that could've been done within 250. You may call it sinful. I call it grit and chutzpah.
All minor peeves aside, you must come to Bandhavgarh. That's where it's at. (Yes, Dylan.) And hit your triglycerides for a six.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Safar mein dhoop to hogi

In mandiromein dhoop bahut hoti hai sir. Bachche kaise ja payenge itni dhoop me? Bachcho ko kaise ghumana hai, dhoop se hatana hai, main janta hoon. Aap samajh rahe hain na main kya keh raha hoon? Bhartiya paribar me kis tarah ka laj lihaj rakhna padta hai main janta hoon. Mandir kaise dikhana hai, mujhe aata hai. Aththara saal se isi kaam me laga hua hoon.

Thus spake Sri Dikshit. A very oily and objectionable pimp with slicked back hair and shifty eyes. But then his ilk is everywhere, on the streets of Khajuraho. Their target consumer, the Indian middle class tourist. The Americans, Italians, Israelis and Russians are outside their ambit. The rich ones stay at the high end resorts nearer to the airport and are mostly on a conducted tour. The hiker sorts in chappals have their trusty guidebooks and maps, often travel on foot and are unfailingly wary of local touts. Both largely unapproachable.

To cut a long story short, we got around Dikshit. And look where it got us. Into a lot of dhoop. Thankfully the kids were not wilting. Far from it. They were suppressing smiles and pointedly looking the other way and asking other questions. Like why the cow and the boar are gods. So much for Bhartiya paribar, parampara, laaj, lihaz.

Getting through all that dhoop, answers to some questions still remain in the dark for me. Like what's with the lion and the woman? And what is the woman knelt between hind legs of a dragon/horse trying to look at or grab? See pics.

One word. Khajuraho is fun. And totally worth it. If you are ready to live with beer @ Rs. 80. From the retail outlet, that is. Rs. 120 at the eatery. But those are figures all over MP. The saffron raj has made it tough for the tipplers.

The light and sound show is boring. Like they mostly are, anywhere. What's unique here is the guards won't allow tripods inside the gardens during the show, even as they'll let you carry a still camera, which will be completely useless minus a stand. For night photography, the best available spot in town is the famed Blue Sky rooftop restaurant, across the street.

From here we'd travel on to Bandhavgarh, in search of the majestic white tiger. More of that story on a later post. See also the updated flickr album, if you would.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

It was just a wedding in Feb

This is the woman once wooed by Leo. This is the woman that once famously said of her failed relationship with Ronaldo, "Men? who needs men? I have my dogs."

Last Thursday it seems, she finally wed her quarterback. And the bride as well as her dogs, were dressed by Dolce & Gabbana.

Why does that elicit a sigh?

Ah,well,well, well. Best wishes, gal.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar musings

For a woman who used to look so fresh and exquisitely beautiful, Kate Winslet looked deecidedly ugly tonight. What's with that hair? Or is it a hairpiece?

The guy Longinous Danny Boyle mentioned in his acceptance, the one who choreographed Jai Ho. Was it the same Longi who partnered Sweta Salve or somebody on Jhalak Dikhla Ja? Does anybody remember? That small fellow with a big smile? Come a long way, it seems.

Didn't know of Michael Crichton's death before today's ceremony. It was a shock seeing his photo among all those dead people.

The way Mickey Rourke of today looks never ceases to amaze me. What happened to the impish cool cat of 9 1/2 weeks? Poor fellow got worse for wear throughout the 80's and 90's. Apparently some botched up plastic surgery after a broken face in the ring. Bad Bad academy, you should have given the bloke something. Especially since Penn already had a statuette. I've got a thing for epic losers.

Is it for the awards season that so many big names time their releases for the letter part of the year? Isn't it surprising that Slumdog and Button and Frost/Nixon and Milk won so many nominations while for such a big movie, Dark Knight got so few?

I loved Jessica Biel on the red carpet. But then I love Jessica Biel. Period. But the way she carried a largeish bib/washcloth tucked in front pretending it was part of her gown tonight, priceless.

And oh yes, I did the customary Yayyys and high fives for AR. What did he say in Tam?

Ciao' for now. Be back for next year.

Pics source 1,2

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I don't know what is the deal with social drinking. You ask somebody "Do you drink?"-"Y'know, I'm only a social drinker." What does that mean? Nobody ever says "Like a fish." Though most of them do. In society.

Ours is a nation of wannabe dancing stars. Middle aged men and women get sloshed in polite society with the objective of inflicting on us their dancing talent. Ours is also a nation of intellectuals. I have spent many an evening listening to them after they've had something to drink. Socially. They'll pick up a slipping thread of discussion. On anything. Danny Boyle to Masood Azhar. And they'll talk in circles. All evening. I have a dear friend who'll eventually get Stephen Hawking into all these threads. Needless to say he has a background of theoretical Physics. He's also a social drinker. Thank heavens for that. He'll never drink alone. He'll call me up, "Dear fellow, I got this twelve year old malt. But y'know I'm but a social drinker. Come over one of these evenings and be my society. And do hurry lest somebody else gets social sooner."

Me, I'm not a social drinker. I don't drink like a fish. I mean, not any longer. Gone are the days for me when juice of a lime and aspirin used to be the breakfast of champions. Today I drink like the devil. I measure fluid ounces and I shake. Or stir. I like to make a ceremony out of having a drink. Because I can't have too many. Oh no no don't get me wrong. It's not the Doc's orders. Who listens to them in these matters anyway? It's just that with age I've grown allergic to hangovers. As I get better and better with every next drink, I forget how much I can drink without having a throbbing skull next morning.

The news that started me on this whole thing was this. Now I, feel a bit loosened up today. I feel the need to rejoice. Maybe this evening I'll relax my norms a little and seek society. To celebrate this historic event. And we'll stroll over to Mesrs. Darbhanga General Stores and buy a case of the good stuff. Achtung, Bangalore! Jharkhand has arrived.

sólo el amor puede ser incumplida romántico

The most annoying element of Vicky Cristina Barcelona is the voiceover narration. Sometimes it makes you feel you are watching a documentary on Travel and Living. In an interesting way, it is also the most redeeming feature of the movie. It's like Mr. Woody Allen washing his hands off any glitches in scripting. It's like Mr. Allen is saying, "See, these are my people. I didn't have anything to do with them, they were like this only. Hell I don't have an effing clue what they'd be up to next. I'm only here to tell their story. Watch them if you like. If you don't, I'm sure some plexes are still showing The Dark Knight."

The unusual thing about the narrative is that it reads out in broad detail the nuances of characters rather than allow the script to reveal them slowly through their actions. In fact the action only serves to corroborate what has already been said in the voiceover. I'll give an example.

(This is the voiceover script during the third minute of screen time when Vicky and Cristina make their appearance)
The two had been close since college, and shared the same tastes and opinions on most matters, Yet when it came to the subject of love, it would be hard to find two more dissimilar viewpoints. Vicky had no tolerance for pain, and no lust for combat. She was grounded and realistic. Her requirements in a man were seriousness and stability. She had become engaged to Doug because he was decent and successful, and understood the beauty of commitment. Cristina, on the other hand, expected something very different out of love. She reluctantly accepted suffering as an inevitable component of deep passion and was resigned to putting her feelings at risk. If you asked what she was gambling her emotions on to win, she would have been unable to say. She knew what she didn't want, however. And that was exactly what Vicky valued above all else.

Makes you wonder if you are at a theater or a book reading session, yes, but you have to give him an A for audaciousness. Don't know if it's just me, but the way the movie begins with the narrator launching into character analysis of the protagonists, it reminded me of Springtime a' la Carte. (Now where's the connection? read on, before you jump and shout) It seemed the director's way of saying, like O'Henry did in his time, "look, n00bs, a film is not written like this. Never, never, do this at the beginning of a script that you write. (Of course I can pull it off, because I'm Woody Allen)".

Does it work? Well, after a fashion, to a large extent, give or take a few vagaries of the plot, it does. Me, I'm not your Woody Allen aficionado, but many people in the know are calling this one of his best. To my mind, it has the feel of an European director's film rather than one from an American raised in Brooklyn. Think Bertolucci if you will. Though that may be largely attributable to the backdrop. While watching VCB, I was intermittently reminded of Stealing Beauty, because the central idea of young American women rediscovering themselves among unknown people in a beautiful foreign land is common for both films. Interestingly, within this genre too this one is unique. Here, the life of the protagonists remain exactly the same at the end of 96 minutes of storytelling. Only thing they possibly take away from it are the life-defining experiences of a summertime.

How did the characters play? I love Javier Bardem. It's a pity I've seen very little of him.(only No Country last year, got to watch more espanol movies) He makes it look entirely feasible for an intriguing stranger to walk up to the table of two totally unknown young ladies and propose upfront a weekend tour to another city involving art watching, good wine and food and wholesome sex. His character Juan Antonio the artist does this, and Bardem makes it look completely decent and good-humored. One can only wish one could do that in real life.
Penelope Cruz has been walking away with the awards. She has the author backed role which is the centre piece of this drama, and she plays it with perfect over the top panache'. But it's Scarlett Johansson who really impressed me with understatement. A petite bundle of genius, this young lady is.

If there's anything VCB teaches us, it is this. In life it's not always possible to know what you really want. But if you have a good idea what you don't want, it'll often do.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tauba tera Jalwa

I live in a funny place. Let's see. The other night I got away quiet as a cat, to catch the late show of DevD. I was Desparate. Asking the missus along was out of the question. Firstly, this is the exam season, and she's busy with young Ayushi. Moreover I sensed she might not like it ( I'd heard the second half dragged a bit.) As luck would have it, the screen (screen, is an overstatement. It's actually the friendly neighborhood movie hall) was showing only matinee and evening shows of the flick. For some odd reason, Speed returns(hindi)U/A was showing on the night show. Not amused, I quietly crawled back, to many a jibe from wifey and dear daughter, gleeful at my misadventure. But did I give up? Hell no, I Was desperate.

Thus it happened that this afternoon I played possum and left office early, feeling terribly guilty and all, remembering the hazy old days of bunking school as a kid to watch Shakti . There were, in all, about thirty people in the theater, none of them older than 20. I was in a time warp. I was quite enjoying the film. Then, fifteen minutes from the end, with the story going around in circles, oh, another one of those childhood miracles. Blackout in the theater. Did I mention time warp?

It took inordinately long for the show to resume. After what seemed like a hour and a half(but was actually seven minutes), during which I'd completed two phone conversations and was now seriously weighing my options, action came back on screen. The film dragged to its compromise ending. Am I glad I stayed back till the end? I don't know. But boy did I enjoy my absconding schoolboy act? you bet.

Watch more Dailymotion videos on AOL Video

About the movie. Anurag Kashyap has a way with scripting. Like everybody else is saying, the first half is flawless. If Anurag's treatment has grabbed you by the collar from the very first frame, towards the end of the first half he lifts his craft to such a crescendo, it's like, where do we go from here?

Abhay Deol. One hears Amir Khan has kept a dog named Shahrukh. This lad can raise a kennel full of Khans one of these days. It's a pity his films are hardly getting mass attention. Then maybe it's better this way.

Mahi Gill. What can I say? Watch her to believe. In many ways she became the essence of Paro than in any other version we've seen. You'll say her role has been written too well. But then, you get a feeling she has that ability to redefine every character she plays.

I could go on about every bit player. But the truth is Mr. Kashyap has given his characters so much meat and so little greasepaint, you get to like his folks instantly. I simply loved the three singer/dancers who act as some kind of set prop to Dev's decadence. They reminded of the three balladeers in There's something about Marie, yet so different. It was funny in a very dark sort of way.

If Devdas, as in the original, was essentially about love lost and self-destruction, in the modern day version, he is more about lovelessness and decadence. He can get so bad he'll make SRK's Dev look like a teenager stealing a smoke by the side of the school gym. At the same time he'll be infinitely more vulnerable with his skinny frame curled up in just a pair of dirty jeans on the brothel floor. Coming back to it, that is the whole point of Anurag Kashyap's interpretation. One feels mighty impressed by his work. Towards the denouement of his film he looks a little lost, true, but that's acceptable for somebody with the kind of storyline he has taken on.

I'm afraid I'd given a miss to No Smoking owing to bad reviews. But come March, I'm not going to miss Gulal. It'll be fascinating to watch where Mr. Kashyap goes from here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I'm out
(as in "I've outed myself", more commonly used for gay people exposing their sexual orientation, though not in that sense)

Nobody really wanted to see what I look like. I know. However, the editing of these videos was a painstaking process. Took me the better part of a week. I wanted to put up at least micro clips somewhere on the web. In these clips, the bespectacled fellow with an oversized round balding head is me. (many people have compared my features with Subhas Chandra Bose). Likewise the missus and the lass.
We'll be traveling to Khajuraho, Bandhavgarh and Pachmari with a brief touchdown at Jabalpur the second week of March. Anyone who can share some travel tips esp. the journey from Khaj to Bandhavgarh and availability and rates of vehicle rental in the area, please do. I'll be grateful.

p.s. As compared to utube which sucked big time, Vimeo was a breeze. Uploading speed was fantastic and features offered for a free account were great.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Get a life
(Background score :
I wonder why nobody don't like me
Or is it a fact that I'm ugly?)

For many many months now, I've seen people summarily dismiss and humiliate people just with the expression "get a life." Now, this would be quite acceptable if the recipient of the insult was overly stressed over where did Kim Kardashiyan get her tattoo or who does David Beckham's nails. But what of those people who have got a life that seriously curbs their, um.., life? At least one definition of the phrase suggests it can also mean get a paying job, or something to that effect. And here I am so weighed down by a day job, my e-life languishes. I look overawed at the blogs of the Bertie Woosters and Ms Butterwicks of today who never seem to worry about paying the rent. They appear to have all the time in the world to seek out every WTFness in the news, attend movie premieres, art exhibitions and fashion shows, travel countries, and then manage to put up meaningful and entertaining blog entries almost everyday. Such beautiful people! I wonder why do I put in so much effort to even try. Where can I even start? Where are these lives, waiting to be gotten?


It's a mean season. This is that time of the year again. The kid has an exam on Environmental Studies on the morrow. Announced only today. It's evening, she's cramming, and her mother is helping her cram. In these matters I, in the household is as much help as the pest control during a cardiac emergency. Nay, as the fitness instructor during bridal makeup, or, better even, like a quarterback in a home run. I could go on, but I sense you've got the picture. I'm completely out of depths, much useless, kaput. Even then I sometimes saunter in on their study session. The results are like this :

(Fill in the blanks Q&A)

Mummy: During a case of nosebleed, you should ______ on the head of the patient
Daughter : .......................
I (hoping against hope): sit?
Daughter : pour water
dark stare.

Mummy: you should also ask the patient to breathe through his____.
Daughter :...........
I (a bit more hopefully now): eyes?

Mummy: you should furthermore ask the patient not to __________.
Daughter :...........
I (in utmost earnest): be impatient?
At this point I have to hide in the bathroom to avoid flying objects. Apparently blowing the nose was that one taboo. Who'd have thunk?


I've decided to get away a little tonight and watch DevD. Alone. It's sacrilege even to propose such a joint outing to the missus at this hour of crisis. If I come back happy I'll try to write about it. The 12 Mb clip of the first part of travel video has failed to upload on utube after a good night's effort. I'll retry.

In the meantime, bitten by Naren's bug, I've written this little couplet :

O beloved Balma, I could die to see your one smile
Tho' with all your lipids, I'd rather you ran a mile

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Don't take chaddis lightly!

On a fine day many moons ago, we were in the presence of RK the sage. (I believe I've introduced him earlier on this blog). Being the keen observer of human situations he is, RK was making his trademark original observations. Presently over chai, we got talking about the improved buying power of the middle class in India, their good life thanks to a rising disposable income and nonsense like that. Somewhere in the middle of it, RK wondered aloud : "All you ever talk about is a better standard of living. How is it better, I ask you, when I still haven't got more than a coupla chaddis in good shape. It never went from two to three. The old ones will retire in a week whenever I buy a new pair." This was quite some years ago, and the observation struck a chord. For until then, we used to buy chaddis in pairs and inevitably, not too early. The concept might sound a little dated now as we're well into the American way of life. Then again, maybe not. Consider this. If we buy two, we get three free. In no time, two of them mysteriously disappear from the clothing lines (or the machine eats them, I'm not too sure) and we're back to status quo.

But I'm not back after a longish break to theorize on chaddis. In fact, I'm mighty peeved over the way the venerable chaddi is being tossed about over a piffling non-issue. For one thing, I don't really fancy the celebration of Valentine's day. In fact I'd go so far as to contest the very existence of such an institution. You may well argue that this is because back when I was young, it did not exist, and I never got to waste my parents' money on the occasion, and you'd have a point there, but what the heck anyway.

What I prefer however, is something more direct and impacting. More importantly, something one can afford to give away freely (after all you don't give away something you've got only a pair of, at any point of time). Why not send to the Sri Ram Sene something which they should think is more alien to Indian Kulture than chaddis? Something that suggests immoral activity in their eyes more powerfully? With that objective, I'd send them this over the coming weekend:

p.s. We hope to resume regular programming pretty soon. It's just that of late the urge to post has ebbed a mite. We watched Slumdog and tinkered with the idea of damning it with faint praise. But valuable days passed by. We'd been preoccupied. Among other things we were caught up in post production work for the DVD release of our last year's vacation video. The missus gave an ultimatum that there'd be no vacation this March unless we finish the video beforehand. We plan to post a clip here. In the interim, we are trying to watch Vicky Cristina Barcelona and write on the experience. Coming March we'll be off to parts of Madhya Pradesh, plans for which are underway. Hopefully that will be good for more stories after that trip.

p.s.2 All of the above is bull, of course. All I need to do is keep off the Savita Bhabhi forums if there's to be any hope for this 'ere blog.

Update : I swear on my chaddis I didn't know of their existence at the time of going to press. The thought had just occurred independently to me, I guess, though in a different way.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bravo !

We heart Sanjay Dutta of TOI for doing the other side of the story on the failed strike of oil PSUs. This was a strike that had our full moral support as officers of Navaratna brotherhood, since our fates are tied together. Full support, notwithstanding the mad rush for the last drop of fuel at the petrol pumps, and the worry over how to cook dinner without gas, the kind experienced by the whole country. (Of course, we could not go on strike on our own. There are reasons for this. For one, nobody seems to bother if our seel plants stop rolling out bars, sheets and coils for a few days. Or weeks, if we so fancy. In fact, we can almost hear a faint "good riddance". The second thing is that we are cowards. Under extreme aggrievement (not a word. I know), we might consider wearing a "black badge", but please don't ask for more. But I digress...) Our Government, with uncharacteristic toughness, had quashed the oil strike. The groundwork behind the heavy handedness involved a clever manipulation of media, which helped build massive public antagonism against their cause. Take this for example, on that same newspaper two weeks ago. To say nothing of the self styled soapbox newscasters of Aaj Tak and Zee News (Desh bhar me mach gayi hahakar, tel adhikari kar rahe hain betan barhane ka byapaar..)
It seems the oil executives, flailed by the government propaganda machinery more than anything else, have at last anonymously approached the media to let out their story. A good story it is, too. I quote :

Among the things let out by the government is that the starting salary of these officers is Rs 1 lakh and it goes up to Rs 3 lakh — an amount that does not justify their demand for even higher salaries, especially at a time when the economy is struggling to stay afloat.
The government contention is false. Not just that, it is aimed at creating a national "consensus" for a severe crackdown that would break the officers' back. This is why it has sacked over 70 officers, and with its motivated propaganda, created an atmosphere where the officers have no forum to present their case.
This is the salary slip of a Grade B officer in an oil PSU, who is an engineer and an MBA to boot, with five years of service. Here's what the officer got this November — his gross salary came to Rs 38,772 and after deductions, he got a net salary (or take-home salary) of Rs 22,890. And in this case, the deductions were less as the officer has not taken any loan from the company.
So, he took home a little less than Rs 23,000. Now, compare this with what professionals of his qualification would be getting in the private sector. This is despite the fact that oil companies are among the most cash rich companies in the country. And this is also despite the fact that bureaucrats, teachers and others have all got hefty pay hikes.

"Attaboy"! We cheered Mr. Dutta. Having suffered the iniquity for so many years oneself, one couldn't have put it better. We mean, this is the voice of support we really needed after all the damage the same publication has done. Sob stories help sell newspapers, but don't amount for anything in this context. Not that this also could help much, since the bureaucracy has maneuvered the situation into an irreparable no-win zone.

So what's the real story? What were the oil PSUs offered and what did they want?

PSU Pay panel recommendation

The committee headed by Justice MJ Rao submitted their recommendation in last June. They had categorized the CPSEs into five grades. For the topmost A+ category, mainly Navaratnas, they had proposed higher risk pay and performance related incentives across the board. This report was in public domain, viewable by all who could withstand 27 pages of tables and legalspeak. The A+ category was poised to gain substantially. This got the babus green with envy that many executives of top PSUs were going to earn more than them. When in November the proposals came up for approval, they cleverly scrapped away the A+ category, bringing all profit making PSUs in the same grade, irrespective of size, profitability, performance record and importance to the nation. At the same time they whipped up such frenzy that every newspaper, business spread or news channel would refer to the revision thus approved, nothing but a bonanza, a windfall, a jackpot. There were publications bringing forward lone voices of discontent, but these were washed away under the deluge of misinformation.

The oil PSU officers only wanted the proposals in the original report to be implemented in toto. With full clarity towards the variable part of their pay. But it was not to be. The gormint servants wouldn't have any of it.

I will stop ranting right here. If anybody at all has wondered why I didn't write anything in the interim, let it be known that minimum wage earners do not blog much. Adios, amigo. Will post if and when I've got enough to keep the home fires burning.