25 Dec 2008

Rab ne banaa di kodi

We have been treated to tickets to Rab Ne Banaa di Jodi as part of a leaving-party by a friend. The seats are quite close to the screen. We are enjoying trailers of some hindi movies before the main film starts. This helps us to get used to the closeness of the screen and the big faces in our faces.The theatre has an equal number of Indians and British.

The mandatory censor board certification is displayed. The film starts with the title in bright colours and dazzle and we are all set for the usual bollywood reds and greens and blues and yellows and the chutzpah.

Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Anoushka Sharma, Vinay Pathak
Director: Aditya Chopra
Music: Salim Suleiman

This is a story of a very simple middle class shy guy named Suri who happens to marry a simple girl named Taani. Suri loves his wife so much that he disguises himself as a hep and talkative Raj to win the love of his wife. The Raj-Taani proceedings flow with the backdrop of a dance competition. Of course, Taani does not recognise him in this disguise and she falls in love with Raj. Eventually, all ends well, Suri gets his wife to appreciate his love and they win the couple-dance competition. They call it SRK's ode to the simple Indian man.

Shahrukh Khan. One cannot help but feel the energy.
Spot on acting
Cinematography and choreography

Too sugary
Too much Shahrukh for the eyes
Music. Nothing worth remembering.

A dream song sequence is dedicated to the film oldies - Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna and Rishi Kapoor. Each actor having its own piece of action through SRK and being glamourised by the precense of Kajol, Bipasha, Lara, Preity and Rani. (4 pretty bongs!!) This is a cleverly written and choreographed song. The production has shamelessly and neatly placed brands like Pepsi, Bajaj, Santro and Hero cycles.
There are references to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwale dulhaniya le jaayenge. The title was a song from the Amitabh starrer - Suhaag - and SRK and Vinay do a impromptu celebration scene to that song playing in the shop.
Aditya Chopra gives a new definition to love here - 'jismein rab dikhta hai'. Funnily enough an old SRK- Sonali Bendre movie 'English Babu Desi Mem' had a more hummable song/ bhajan of the words - 'tujh mein hai rab dikhta'.

Slumdog Millionaire

I have always liked Hollywood productions that are shot in India. They make the entire country look richer and livelier. Slumdog Millionaire was no exception. The story is nothing different than a late 80s hindi movie starring the likes of Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff. In fact, it runs a track very similar to Parinda. But, as Abbas Tyrewala said 'It is not the story itself, but how one narrates the story that is important'. And David Boyle does a great job with this production for the British production - Film 4. He does a great job of ending this neo-noir movie in a feel-good tone. The casting by Loveleen Tandan is spot on and that was half the battle won. The English production house has delivered a sincere hindi masala movie, complete with references to Amitabh Bachchan and a promotional video shot on the platform of VT station for the end credits.

I heard the soundtrack by A R Rehman before watching the movie and I wondered if he had lost his magic. But the genius of the man is appreciated with the flow of the movie and as I write this I am replaying the songs to a completely renewed effect.

Entertainment, overall.

30 Nov 2008

Breaking news

I was in Mumbai till the 25th and joined work in London on Wednesday. I had got sweets and savouries from Mumbai for my friends on London. When everyone asked me how the vacation was I glowed up recalling my days in the bright day light of Colaba causeway, Churchgate station, VT station, Bandra, Andheri and the various theatres. I was all recharged and telling everyone that Mumbai is the best city in the world. The day whizzed past as the after taste of my short vacation in Mumbai was still lingering.

Ironically, when I went back home that evening the news channels were show casing the audacity of the terrorists who had entered and ruined my favourite place. Nothing can undo or make up for what they have done. The effects of the attacks will stay in the memories of the world for a long time. Mumbai will soon be considered one of the most dangerous places in the world. There will be a constant fear attached to the name of my city.

This will all be followed by the usual politics and blame games. Pakistan will incorrigibly deny any part in the attacks. The ISI will diplomatically deny any links. The local politicians will try to gain mileage at the cost of Indian tax payers' money. An enquiry commission will be duly setup that will take months to come up with any useful conclusion. There will be a lot published in newspapers, magazines, blogs and even, movies. The news channels, who had been foolishly disclosing all the army tactics during the attacks, will continue with the 'breaking news'. Group discussions will continue highlighting the stoic spirit of the city. Soon all this will fade away and everything will be forgotten.


I hope that these attacks have shaken the Mumbaikars enough to make them take things in their own hands and elect the right people this time. We need leaders who can take responsibility and lead from the front. The city that provides the most income taxes deserves at least a sense of security in their homes. The financial capital that boasts of a sea of educated thinking minds is capable of calling it the shots. Like Shobha De said - Enough is enough.

3 Nov 2008

Sequel Server

Unlike its western counterpart, Bollywood has been churning them out in relatively smaller numbers. Excluding the dubbed versions (the likes of Makdi-manav), I have tried to list out the hindi sequels.

Nigahen - Sridevi is back as the human daughter of the naagin-Sridevi from the hugely successful first part. Sunny Deol plays the naag held in captivity by the evil tantrik Anupam Kher. The fight of good vs evil is for a magical diamond called naag-mani. Harmesh Malhotra directed both the parts that have had a major contribution in fueling many of the myths related to snakes. This was an average success.

Return of the Jewel Thief - One of the masterpieces of Indian cinema, Jewel Thief, was sequel-ed after nearly 30 years. It brought back Dev Anand and Ashok Kumar from the original and the Kohinoor diamond from the UK. This one was not blessed with the S D Burman's evergreen music or Vijay Anand's slick direction. Ashok Tyagi roped in a string of actors for this multi-starrer thriller. The title had the Kohinoor diamond and the famous jewel-thief cap.

Hathyaar - Sanjay Dutt is back as the son of the underworld don (Raghu, played by Dutt) from Vaastav. Vaastav was a huge hit, but there were no attempt to publicise Hathyaar as its sequel. This was a gritty movie that went un-noticed. ("Yeh picture aa-gaya?" "Haan, aaya bhi aur gaya bhi.") The son of the don struggles to fit into the society because of his infamous middle name. Mahesh Manjrekar does a talented job of maintaining the tempo of this drama. At a couple of occassions, whenever the tension is high well placed gangster jokes provide relief ('Boxer bhai song' and 'the hospital scene were dedh-footya's mom yells at a goon - daal doo kya?').

Phir Hera Pheri - The trio of Paresh Rawal, Akshay Kumar and Suniel Shetty are back; this time without Priyadarshan. The look and feel seems quite different to the hugely enjoyed, Hera Pheri. This time the comedy of errors leads them to a load of drugs and a hidden diamond. The climax is a mad-cap chase at a circus. The comedy fails to work mainly because of the lack of its closeness to the homely feel of the original.

Sarkar Raj - Ram Gopal Verma got Amitabh to do what he does the best - act. Amitabh's character was considered to be a depiction of the Shiv Sena chief - Bal Thakerey - whereas, this was actually RGV's version of the Godfather. No less. Sarkar was not a huge hit, but it certainly got noticed by everyone. Sarkar Raj brought back together the Bachchan father-son duo and the to-be-bride of the family. Aishwarya plays a foreign-based businesswomen who needs help from Sarkar to establish a power project in India. The story evolves into an intriguing thriller-drama of mind games between Sarkar and a rural leader played intently by Dilip Prabhavalkar. The end builds up enough to create another part.

Lage Raho Munna bhai - The feel-good team of the local goons Munna bhai and Circuit are back. Munnabhai MBBS did a great deal to improve Sanju baba's image. Raj Kumar Hirani creates another breezy feel-good movie on the backdrop of Gandhi-giri. It is fun to watch a feared goon taking up the non-violent path of Gandhiji (played by the talented Dilip Prabhavalkar) as he tries to win his love (Vidya Balan). Munna is fighting non violently against a scheming Sikh builder, played by Boman Irani. A loveable show of Munna and his chum, Circuit. I have seen trailors of the 3 part - Munnabhai chale America.

Hyderabad Blues 2 - Nagesh Kukunoor debuted with his Hyderbad Blues, an auto-biographical account of adventures of an NRI coming back to India and finding an Indian bride. The entire ensemble is back with the post marriage comedy of the normal middle class couple with the backdrop of a conservative South-Indian culture. The multiplexes lapped it up.

Krrish - Rakesh Roshan dares to create an Indian superhero as a follow up to the ET-inspired Koi mil gaya. Hrithik plays Krrish who gets his superpowers from the alien, Jadoo. He goes on to save the world and rescue a secret towards the end. This was a thoroughly enjoyed hindi-masala adventure, Bollywood got a new superhero and Priyanka got a major hit.

Dhoom 2 - Sanjay Gadhvi and Yashraj films brought together the top actors of the year to create screen magic and rake in a lot of overseas moolah. Abhishek and Uday are carried forward from Dhoom, this time to chase an elusive and stylish thief named 'A', Hrithik Roshan. Bipasha (in double role) and Aishwarya (more important role) provide the oomph and promote size-zero. The thief does some daring stunts and the cops nab the thief in the end. The Diwali opening for this pacy thriller was a huge hit.

Golmaal Returns - Rohit Shetty brings the loony team of Ajay Devgan, Tushar Kapoor, Arshad Warsi and Shreyas Talpade together for a mindless comedy of lying men. Sharmaan Joshi from Golmaal was left out for this one. Kareena plays a shrieking doubting wife and dances to a couple of item songs. Tushar is probably seen in the best act of his life as a dumb hair-stylist act. This was a Diwali hit, a surprise one.

Jodha Akbar - This one is not a sequel, but rather, a prequel to one of the biggest films from the B&W era of Hindi cinema. Ashutosh Gowarikar asked what can one do after 'Lagaan' and 'Swades'? His writer replied that it would be only fitting to create something that would outdo the greatest in Indian cinema - Mughal-e-Azam. It was a classic love story of Akbar's son, Salim, and a dancing slave, Anarkali. Jodha Akbar is the lavish story of the love between two proud royalties, the Mughal (Shahenshah Akbar) and the Rajput (Rani Jodhabai). Hrithik and Aishwarya get together for this period drama and Ashutosh creates magic with help from A R Rehman. It might not have worked at the box-office, but it represented India to the world and got appreciated.

4 Oct 2008

About the filmi dancers

Recently, we watched an episode of the Comedy Circus that had a hilarious skit about a conversation between 2 hindi film background female dancers. The skit was presented funnily enough by a duo of males and it reminded me of the multitude of dance troupes that might have earned employment due to the background dancing. Surely, each choreographer must have had his/ her own dancers. Each had a dedicated or lucky troupe. 

In the cabaret songs of the 70s, there was a repetitive face prancing around with Helen. I was watching 'Monica, my darling' on TV, one day. A guy with a curly mop of hair and a pencil-moustache started his jumping act to the music. My dad pointed out to me that his name is Michael and he is a choreographer, too. I have noticed him in more songs that I cannot recall now. But that is probably how I started noticing the background dancers, too.

In the 80s, there was the group of male dancers that was seen in 'Jahaan chaar yaar' (Sharaabi) as well 'Padosan apni murgi ko' (Jaadugar) and some more Amitabh songs.

During the 90s, in the days of 'Superhit Muqabla', there was one male dancer that used to appear in 5 out of 10 songs. He was the one who did the hip-hop rapper dance to the voice of Bali Bramhabhatt with Jackie Shroff. The song was 'Munda Dekh' from the movie Stuntman. 'Bambai ka babu' had a scene shot in Fantasy Land where Saif calls 'Mangesh' to do some task and Mangesh runs off a kid asked to get an ice cream - a wide smile on the face. One could not miss this guy dancing sincerely behind the hero and more importantly, enjoying himself even while doing the stupidest of the dancing steps. The songs were always a big hit, but the films were bigger flops. The producers must have noticed this coincidence because I have not spotted Mangesh for quite some time. 

The producers should stop allowing Ganesh any screen appearances for the same reason. Every film that Ganesh appears in to dance flops. He is responsible for the dismal fate of 'Jaanam Samjha Karo', 'Money hai toh Honey hai', 'China Gate' to name a few.

In the recent times, there is a very pretty female dancer who has appeared in some popular songs of recent times. She has rolled her eyes with Abhishek in 'Say na say na' (Bluffmaster), had a better tummy than Kareena in 'Its Rocking' (Wah kya love story hai) and even fluttered her colourful long skirt behind Govinda in 'Soni de nakhre' (Partner). Go look for this square jawed girl.

By the way, I m still searching for the mp3 of Shankar Mahadevan's version of 'Hoga tumse pyara kaun'.

3 Oct 2008

Like Akbar Birbal stories

I have opened my 'notepad' (yeah, that is my favorite editor) about 4 times before, but gave into the temptation playing a stupid powerpoint game called - Bubbles. Blame it on bubbles for not having blogged about:
1. background dancers
2. potty snippets from school
3. a hindi movie
4. autograph from Alan 'Watchmen' Moore

Leave them aside for some other time. (Thats what I have been saying about my gym since the last 2 months). The season is changing and it is getting colder by the day. I cannot cycle without the gloves on. The sun will soon be a rare sight. The trees have already started shedding as if trying to symbolise the financial crisis of the world economy. Retailers are trying various discounts and price cuts to bring back the money flow in the market. 

There are the usual BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) offers. Retailers are giving out loyalty points in abundance. A well known retailer has been selling alcohol at a very low price. One of the local councils sued the retailer for selling alcohol that is cheaper than water. The council's argument was that cheap liqour encourages binge drinking. The retailer has enough money to hire the smart brains in the market. It sued the council for water being costlier than alcohol. The council withdrew the case and they all binged heavily ever after.

6 Jul 2008

This location of the neigh

"Throw... quick quick... oh NO"... POP! CRACK!! CRACKLE!!! THUD!!!
"Can you walk?", they asked.

"Yes." I said, clenching my teeth.

I had scored enough to save the team from the blushes, but as I ran for that last run, I could hear my right knee snap under the pad and I landed with a thud in the crease and just missed from being run-out. I straightened my leg as I sat in the mud and the cracking-popping orchestra replayed. I limped back to the pavilion with support from 2 team mates. As I sat down on the chair, I realised that I could not straighten the knee anymore. There was a lot of pain. I took off the gloves and the pads and asked for some water. Someone passed me an ice pack, too. .. thankfully.

Later that night, the pain aggravated and the knee was swollen and tender. An injury in the foreign land is always scary business. A crocin put me back to sleep. But when I woke up the pain woke up with me. I googled the symptoms and was convinced that this is a dislocated knee.

Knee dislocation is different from fracture. But people normally tend to diagonise for a fracture to begin with. The swelling is not as severe as a fracture and the pain is bearable. One can touch the tender soreness on the knee without feeling much pain. I had a swelling on the inner side of the leg on the left side of the knee cap and a bit of pain behind the knee. A knee dislocation could cause a cartilage and a ligament pull. An internal clot can cause an immediate swelling and if there is internal bleeding it has to be taken care-of immediately because there is a risk that the clot might travel to the lungs.

I ordered a cab in the morning which dropped drop me at the 'accident and emergency' department (A&E) of the local hospital. After a quick record entry, I was asked to wait for the doctor to call me. I was first sent to get an x-ray done. The x-ray can only see the bones, which turned out to be normal (no fracture) and that meant that the dislocation had reset itself.

The doctor asked me to drop the pants (I was still wearing yesterday's underpants) and flex the knee. I showed her that I could not bend or completely straighten my knee. It was as-if the knee was locked and there was considerable pain when I tried to force the bending/ straightening. A normal knee should bend to an angle of at least 100 degrees. My knee angle was hardly 45 degrees and that too, slowly and painfully.

Tying the knee only increases the swelling, so crepe bandages are a strict no. Hot or ice massage only soothes the pain, it is not going to heal anything. Ibrufen is a recommended anti-inflammatory capsule and not really a pain killer. 400mg of capsules should work for a stretch of 12 hours. Keeping the leg in the same position for too long can worsen the swelling, I don't know why!
It has been a week and I am feeling much better. The pain only stings at night... mid-way during a deep sleep. I cannot completely straighten my leg yet. I am on a no cycling and no running order from the doctor. This means I will miss the cricket season. :(

People come and ask how it happened and I narrate the episode to them in the most gruesome way and end it by saying it is not as scary as it sounds, there is no pain. I still don't get a free lift home.

5 Jul 2008

Bums on the Saddle

My email to the admin at http://blog.bumsonthesaddle.com
Damn the knee!!

Hi guys,

I dropped at your site from the article on rediff.com and I was so glad to learn that there are cycle-to-work-enthusiasts in India, too. I have been cycling to work since the last 2 years in London. If I ignore the dislocated knee last week, my overall experience has been very good. I have been off the cycle for 6 days now and I am missing it already.

The cycle I use is an old mountain bike with 18 gear combinations. It saves me time and money in addition to giving me the flexibility of not relying on the bus or train timings. Most trains in London have facilities for carrying a bike in a separate compartment. There are regular camps for cycles, where they have a health check and lots of freebies. The roads here have dedicated lanes for cycles to ensure safety and to encourage cycling. At the signals and roads, cycles are definitely treated with a lot of respect.

I have managed to get a handful of colleagues to cycle to work as well. I have managed to get bikes for them too. The public transport and fuel in UK is much more expensive than that in Mumbai, so it is only wise to invest in a bike. I would have to cycle 90 mins in the sultry, dusty and dangerous Mumbai roads and that thought gives me a shudder. I think I would prefer traveling to work in Mumbai by the company bus that takes 50 mins to reach office in the mornings and 90 mins to take me home in the evenings.


22 Jun 2008

Date Ali

"Who is Ali? Why do they want to date him?", Alex kept wondering throughout the film.

De Taali
Starring: Riteish Deshmukh, Aftab Shivdasani, Ayesha Takia, Rimi Sen, Anupam Kher

Genre: Comedy, Drama

This is a light story of 3 childhood friends who are now 26 years old. Aftab (Abhishek) is a rich kid who is always falling in love with the wrong girls (cameos by Hrishita Bhatt, Neha Dhupia and a couple more). Ayesha (Amruta) is a sundar-sushil girl. Ritesh (Paresh Gurudev) is an unemployed guy and is the brain of the club who comes up with plans that fail. Aftab falls in love with a con-girl Rimi. The other 2 try to save him. As expected, Aftab and Ayesha end up together.

Scenes I remember:
  • Aftab ineffectively doing a Sandra Bullock from Miss Congeniality when he teases Ayesha by saying 'Amu lurrvhs me. Amu crieess for me...'
  • Aftab saying that for the first 6 months of their friendship, they did not know that Ayesha was a girl! (He does not mention how they finally realised it :P )
  • At the hair-dressers, Ayesha and Ritesh watch their hair fly using the blow dryer and when Aftab tries the same on his short crop, there are a few giggles
  • The eccentric behaviour of Rimi's family members... 'chai chahiye? toh jaake banaao. mere liye bhi banaao.' Who is that lady? She has acted quite well in most films that I have seen her in.
  • I was told that the film is like 'Saving Silverman' and the tree club house scene definitely suggests that there was an inspiration
  • Ritesh mimics jadoo from Koi Mil Gaya

  • Ritesh provides the comic relief with support from Ayesha
  • A very light movie with a not-so-bollywoody story
  • There are some giggles through out... like the Rimi torture sequence

  • The music is nothing to remember about
  • Aftab seems out of place and lost

Watch it for some time pass.

14 Jun 2008

Wood stocked pilla

Woodstock Villa

Starring: Sikandar Kher, Arbaaz Khan, Neha (?) Oberoi, Sachin Khedekar, Shakti Kapoor, Gulshan Grover

Director: Hansal Mehta

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Similar movie: Aggar, The Train

The film starts with Arbaaz Khan being phoned to pay ransom for his wife, kidnapped by Sikandar Kher. Arbaaz reports this to the cops. The wife is found dead. Sikandar then tries to flee away from the city, but realises that he might be innocent and ends up solving the mystery.

Scenes I remember:
  • The intentional graphic novel feel of the titles
  • The initial sequences that show the landmarks of Mumbai in a new light and eventually end with a heavy rain shot from above
  • Sanjay Dutt crooning and scratching the guitar with the Aryans!
  • Sachin Khedekar trying to be a comic relief - Itni acchi gaadi ka satyaanaash hua!

  • Makes a good video cassette promoting Kiron Kher's son's acting, dancing, filmy fighting abilities
  • Sikandar Kher does well for his debut, accepting that the wooden glances were part of the script
  • Music might do well at the city's pubs
  • Shortened length of the movie

  • Gulshan Grover has better screen presence than the hero :P
  • The twists in the story are expected

Recommended if:
  • Sikandar becomes a star and a fan wants to watch his debut movie
  • You liked 'The Train' and 'Aggar'

4 Jun 2008

Random sketch

This was a random sketch based on a guy I noticed changing clothes on the train. The clean shaved head and the creamish-orange tikka on the forehead possibly meant that he was part of the ISKON - 'Hare Rama, Hare Krsna' organisation.

He just dropped his pants and held the lower end of the short kurta between his teeth. He unfolded a length of white cotton cloth and wrapped it around like a lungi. The entire changeover was completed in a couple of minutes. He then turned around with a wide smile and packed his things back into his shoulder bag.

By the way, that writing in pen is that of a manager who could not find anything else to scribble his instructions on. How could he! Hare Ram, Hare Ram.

31 May 2008

Natwarlal Jones

Mr Natwarlal and Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom seem so very similar to me. Besides being great entertainers, the basic premise of the story is the same. I have seen both of them more than 5 times and never got bored. They have both had lots of action, funny scenes and great music... plus, they were both block busters. I remember that both had a re-run at the theaters in Mumbai a good 5 years after their respective releases. Mr Natwarlal could have been made into a comic and his adventures could have continued if it had been a Hollywood product, I believe.
  • Both Natwar and Indiana land up in a village in North India
  • Both of them wear khakhi coloured clothes for most part of the movie
  • Both of them are heralded by the village folk as saviors according to a prophecy
  • Both of them eventually end up defeating a villain involved in diamonds
  • Both of them escape from the captivity of the villain
  • Both the movies have popular soundtracks
  • Both the movies involved children and many animals
  • Both of them have a strong reference to Indian Gods (Krishn and Shankar/ Sankara)
Amitabh's rendition of 'Mere paas aao' was probably one of his first songs as a playback singer. The outdoor locales of Indiana Jones are actually Sri Lanka because the Indian government had demanded some changes in the scripts.

I wonder what I would watch if the 2 of them were telecasted at the same time on different channels. I think, I would go for Mr Natwarlal. :)

25 May 2008


If books are a man's best friend, Guptaji is responsible for arranging my meetings with most of them. He has a large wooden plank balancing over a square wooden crate. One cannot miss this twenty-something round guy while he screams throughout the day outside the Andheri station, standing over his stack of pirated copies of books. A rather soiled handkerchief hangs from his neck, which he occasionally uses to dust his ware. The frequent cutting-chai breaks give him the energy that he requires to shout the usual 'LaaT (lot) hai! Sale hai!', 'Jeffrey hai, Archer hai, Sidney hai, Sale-done hai!'

I used to visit him on Saturday evenings and he would welcome me with a smile. Of late, I just had to go up to him and he would state his recommendations. Surprisingly, he even knew the contents of the books.

'Yeh loh saab, iss mein ek Afghani dost ka ishtory hai, jo uska hi... nahi nahi apun suspence nahi kholega. Iska picture banega dekhna' ... and he told me that even before imdb.com had an entry for 'The Kite Runner'.
'Iska start Indian call centre se hi hota hai. U.S. ki toh phatli hai abhi apne se' ... that was his conclusive analysis of 'The World is Flat'.
'Mama ke paas naya Tintin aaya hai' ... by naya he meant a second copy at a vendor across the street, because he knew that I was collecting Tintin and I could not afford the first hand collection from the Shopper's Stop next door.

Guptaji recommended 'Shantaram' to me more than 2 years back. My first reaction to the width of the book was - 'Abbe kitna badaa hai, sote sote chhaati par reh gaya toh uth nahi paaunga'. His tobacco stained toothy laughter lasted for 5 minutes under his sparse moustache.

He used tell that Sunday evening were the busiest because the Sunday papers carry reviews of the latest books and that boosts the public ka demand. So he would have the book review pages from 'Times of India' and 'Indian Express' under his cash deposit tin box.

I have finally picked up Shantaram and the first few pages remind me of the dusty and humid streets to Andheri station. In fact, that is what makes me want to read the next pages. Hmmm nostalgia!

30 Apr 2008

Phunny language

The railway minister - Laloo Prasad Yadav, the villain in Tashan - Lakhan Singh and the don in One Two Three - Papa... what do they all have in common? They are all the leaders who have struggled with english. (And yes, I have watched Tashan as well as One Two Three. Start to end.)

Microsoft has been successfully selling the Chinese version of the Operating System many years before someone started creating a Hindi version. A couple of years back, a school topper was denied admission into a school because her English was not up to the mark. I have watched her speak on NDTV and she definitely spoke a better version of the 'phunny language' than some of the professors. In India, the fascination for the English language prevails.

24 Mar 2008

Acre. Care. e-Car. Race.

... or like a gujju would pronounce 'rash'.

Starring: Akshaye Khanna, Saif Ali Khan, Bipasha Basu, Katrina Kaif, Anil Kapoor, Sameera Reddy, Johny Lever

Director: Abbas Mastan

This is a story of the relationship between two brothers and their 200 million dollars worth of insurance policies. Like Detective Robert D'costa (Anil Kapoor) says - where there is a huge money involved, accidents are bound to occur. One of the brothers is thrown off the roof just before the intermission and the detective investigates and unveils the truth behind the mystery.

Things that I remember:
  • The 'taweez' on the arm of Anil Kapoor
  • The clock intentionally showing 6:28 in the digital clock when Akshaye Khanna is waiting in the office
  • 'Zaraa Zaraa' and Atif's rendition of 'Pehli Nazar' both of which are shameless rip-offs of a chinese and a korean song... even 'dum da dum da dum' in the vocals has been lifted
  • Kapoor, w.r.t. a stick of sugarcane, "Gannaa khaoge? Waise toh isay chuste hai, magar 'chusoge?' aise pooch toh nahi sakta"
  • Johny Lever playing his small but entertaining part where he narrates why mobile phone is better than a wife... i remember that more because my chuckle was followed by a phattack on the lap
  • During the car race, I was wishing that both the cars would explode and everyone should die and it should finally end it all

  • All the actors are big stars during the release of the movie
  • Everything is shot beautifully and stylishly
  • The going on is highly unpredictable and the tempo is mostly kept up
  • Abbas Mastan are doing what they do best - thriller mystery
  • Great stunts and fresh action scenes

  • Too many twists to the tale; makes the audience feel exhausted; a bit too much effort is applied to make everything unpredictable
  • 'Zaraa zaraa' and the title song are out of place, just like Anil Kapoor
  • I find the the title of the blog more interesting

Recommended if:
  • You liked Naqaab
  • You have an appetite for chakris and jalebis

15 Mar 2008

Moral of the story

"Fuck!! There are fucking millions of pounds involved. Don't you go around fucking with it. What the fuck do you think you guys are here for! Do you even fucking know how it should work?" This was the yelling that Ram would hear from Steve almost every morning.

The deadline was a day away and Steve, the paymaster, was yelling expletives at the placent technical leader, Ram. While the entire team stood in silence, it seemed unreal that Ram was holding his nerve in the face of a wealthy boss who throws 'fucks' into practically every thing that comes out of his mouth.

Nonchalantly Ram said - "You will get it by the agreed date." The silence prevailed even after Steve had left. Ram had been away from his country for the duration of the project. He had been the brain behind this technically complex and highly priced project. For the business, it was as big as a rocket launch is for NASA. As usual, Ram's team spent the evening and the next half of the day toiling at their desks, which was followed by the usual round of the User Acceptance Tests. By the end of the week, there were cheers all around and the work was proclaimed to be a success.

Ram sat at his desk and sent a mail to Steve.

Mr. Steve,
This is to inform you that with the success of the project, my role as the technical leader at your company is now complete. I am glad that this would mean the end of the 5 year period of your needless expletives. It gives me immense pleasure to note that the efforts of the team have borne fruit. I hope that you have noticed how it is important to fuck to create something beautiful.
You must have also noted that we skipped some of your suggestions and instructions over the period of time in order to finish what we had initially aimed for. The technicalities have always been our domain and were implemented with the usual finesse. The results are out there in the form of the happy users. Since it is the users that fuel your business, we have undoubtedly saved your day. So, do not teach your father to fuck.

2 Mar 2008

The war

Over the last couple of decades, companies involved in all forms of digital content are investing exponentially increasing amounts of money and efforts for the Digital Rights Management (DRM). Each of these efforts have resulted in solutions that followed months of engineering and the work arounds have ironically been quick, simple and downright free.

Reminds me the anecdote about NASA splurging millions of dollars to manufacture a pen for their astronauts that could write in conditions like underwater, zero-gravity, vacuum etc; while the Russians simply gave their astronauts a pencil!

To curb piracy, Sony launched a multi-million research-backed technology to protect a CD/ DVD from being copied. In the very next hour, a group published that the workaround is to simply mark the inner most ring on the CD with a black permanent marker because that is the part where the validation logic is stored.

A few years back the public (and their lawsuits) forced the DRM on audio CDs to be taken down. The audio companies realised that they were wasting too much money and time on something that is merely a puzzle game for the crackers/ hackers out there. There is a constant race between the various hacking groups for releasing the hack.

Undeterred by all this, Microsoft regularly tries to push out OS updates to identify pirated Windows. They have every right to protect their income! Their previous attempt at locking out a Windows XP had a disastrous effect on some of the customised/ OEM copies of the OS. There were reports of computers left unusable after the update was applied. Recently, MS released another 'Windows Genuine Advantage' (WGA) update for Vista that when installed checks for the installed OS being legitimate. By definition, this could very well be a spyware, no! Those with legitimate product keys are unlikely to have any issues and those using a pirated copy, will simply choose to ignore the update. So the only point in the update is, perhaps, catching those unwitting users who inadvertently install it without thinking!

And so the war continues...

28 Feb 2008

Lunch as usual

As the clock strikes one (must have been quite some time since someone said that in the current digital age), everybody digs into their bags and takes out their lunch boxes. Everyone (all desis) queues up for the 4 microwave ovens. My gang efficiently blocks the biggest table in the canteen in order to accommodate as many of us as it can.

B had got a boxful of chopped raw vegetable munchies... cabbage, cucumber, carrots and all that healthy stuff.

R: What is all this healthy food about?
B: Balanced diet. Health. Vitamins.
R: Vitamins? Drink beer if you want vitamins.
B: This box here is full of vitamin A and C.
R: A bottle of beer is full of the same. Research proves.
B: Carrots have Vitamin A; good for the eyes. Beer is good for a beer belly.
R: How do you know?
B: Have you seen rabbits wearing specs? You have a beer belly, though.
R: But you have specs, don't you?
B: I am not a rabbit.
R: I am a human, I drink beer and I do NOT have specs. Hence, proved that carrots are good for the rabbit's eyes and beer is good for human eyes.

18 Feb 2008

Neat? Yaa!

Viewed on: 17 Feb 08
Viewed at: Home

Starring: Ranveer Shorey, Neha Dhupia, Naseeruddin Shah, Vinay Phatak, Harsh Chhaya, Iravati, Saurabh Shukla

Similar movie: Mayor Saab (the dubbed version of a Kamal Hassan southie)

Genre: Comedy Drama (yes 50-50) Gangster

The film is about Ranveer, a struggling actor, whose face resembles that of the underworld don. The don is killed by the scheming Naseeruddin Shah and Saurabh Shukla (writer, too). The actor then replaces the don. All those who shoo-ed him in his days as an actor are now afraid of him and obey his orders. In an accident, he loses his memory. He has been made to believe that he is the don himself and so, considers the don's wife and the family as his own. When the rest of the underworld uncovers the truth about the don, (in addition to the end of the comdey in real life) he is confused about what actually is the truth - being a feared powerful laconic don or being the worthless unnoticed junior artist.

Scenes I remember:
  • Ranveer being made to stand in a drum with cement
  • Naseeruddin Shah's red sunglasses
  • Harsh Chhaya yelling at and hitting the doctor for saying that the don is suffering from amnesia
  • The expression on Ranveer's face when he finds no one around and that he can run away from captivity
  • The red and blue pockets on Tinu Anand's shirt

  • Some neat acting.
  • No melodrama. No nonsense. Everything has been kept short and slick.
  • No songs, except for the Neha Dhupia dance number at the start.

  • The film does not really make one think - So, what is the reality? Satya vs Mithya.
  • The feel of the film is quite forgetful as it is neither dark nor cheery nor gruesome.
Recommended if:
  • You liked Waise bhi Hota hai 2
  • You liked Ranveer and Vinay in Bheja Fry


Viewed on: 16 Feb 08
Viewed at: Home

Starring: Ayesha Takiya, Ajay Devgan, Arshad Warsi, Irfan Khan

Similar movie: I hear that it has been picked up from some south Indian movie

Genre: Comedy Mystery

The film is about Ayesha Takia, who is a dubbing artist (budding fartist :P ) based in Delhi. She is absent minded to the extent of forgetting things and eventually forgets an entire day in her life. Ajay Devgan plays an inspector who picks up clues to find out what happened on the Sunday that is missing from her memory. Arshad Warsi is a street smart taxi driver-cum-guide. Irfan Khan is a struggling actor and a friend of Arshad's. There is a murder mystery weaved into the narrative, as well.

Scenes I remember:
  • Most of Irfan Khan scenes. They are hilarious. I was almost waiting for Irfan to appear on the scene.
  • Irfan doing the Deewar style - yeh chaabi ab jeb se nikaalunga. Irfan singing 'Allah Kare'. Irfan singing 'Assalaam Waalekum' in the midst of the goons.
  • Ajay Devgan saying "mujhe chu-chaa chu-chaa pasand nahi".
  • Arshad Warsi and Ajay Devgan stunts where the strings pulling them are clearly visible.
  • The crazy-big-eyes expression by Ayesha Takia which scares the hell out of Irfan and Arshad near a cemetry
  • Arshad hits Ajay on the head and the sub-inspector says - dekha kuch nahi hua, yeh hota hai mard... and then Ajay drops down
  • Robin Bhatt (screenplay, too) (I think) as the forgetful doctor

  • Irfan Khan, who maintains a straight face even in the stupidest of the scenes
  • Quite pacy
  • The mystery has been logically maintained
  • A movie to be watched with friends or a group who do not mind illogical whackiness

  • Near the end the director seemed to be confused between the comedy and the mystery element
  • Ajay Devgan looks miscast for the mad-caper

Recommended if:
  • You liked Golmaal (feat. Ajay Devgan and Arshad Warsi, too)
  • You liked Irfan Khan in Metro

17 Feb 2008

My name is Anthony Gonsalves

Viewed on: 10 Feb 08
Viewed at: Home

My Name is Anthony Gonsalves
Starring: Mithun, Amrita Rao, Pavan Malhotra and some new guy

Similar movie: Surya (yea, I had watched that too)

Genre: Bollywood masala

The film is about an orphan with an underworld don for his care-taker. The orphan grows up to be a bar waiter and wants to be a film star. He, however, witnesses a crime committed by the don and is caught between going against his guardian or concentrating on his career in films. His debut film is based on treason of Julius Ceaser and he traces an analogy of the story in the events of his life. Amidst all this, Amrita Rao happens to him for the sake of some songs.

Scenes I remember:
  • Priyanka Chopra in the opening dream sequence saying 'Mujhe bilkul pasand nahi jab ladkiyaan tumhare baare mein aisi baatein karti hai'
  • Mithun taking off his priest's robes and striking a ninja pose... signaling a goon with the middle finger to make his first move
  • Anthony being told 'Tu star nahi ban sakta. tu star kya hero ka friend bhi nahi ban sakta. magar tu ek cheez ban sakta hai'... where Anthony says 'Arre ab bachaa hi kya hai?'
  • A light hearted paisa vasool time pass of a movie
  • Fresh scenes and witty dialogues
  • Good acting by the entire cast
  • A chirpy feel to the entire proceedings

  • Songs. None that I can re-collect
  • Predictable story line

Recommended if you liked 'Dum'

16 Jan 2008

Random strings

This is just a string of random, but inter-related, thoughts that made their way in and out of the varied grey dunes of the brain...

A young gum chewing smartie was arguing with an intently listening aged man in the bus. The younger one was saying that there is nothing left for the new generation to invent because everything that could have been invented is already out there. So, the younger generation can just stay laid back and not do anything at all. The experienced man countered this by saying that if every generation thought like that there would never had been the airplane or sliced bread or the chewing gum or even orange juice. Somebody out there tried squeezing out the juice of the orange and figured out that it was tasty. What about cow juice? Some guy must have thought one morning that I should squeeze those things under the cow's belly and drink whatever comes out of it. The accidental success would have got everyone around to try the same with different things. Someone might have rubbished the claim stating that his bull could squeeze out only a cupful and it did not taste good. Or worse, someone might have got killed when the elephant sat down on him/ her during the trial. Who knows! I know a nerd who could spoil the fun by giving me a logical repartee saying that the cow's milk was invented by the calf sucking on it mother's udder.

So what could be possible inventions? My shot to some possibilities...
  • A wall that can change its colour or its scene like a desktop wallpaper... a big digital photoframe?
  • A device that stores all the energy created by the rotating wheels of a car and then use it to fuel the car itself... after all isn't water used to rotate the turbines, which in turn convert mechanical energy to electricity?
  • An optical lens that automatically changes its refractive index depending on the vision of the user... how does auto-focus in a digital camera work?
  • An inoculation for common cold
  • A formal shoe that does not crease in 2 days... at my last visit to a shoe shop, the salesman was selling me dryme leather shoes that look the same throughout its life; mainly because they look old when they are new.
  • A small locket that acts as a translator and transmits the wearer's speech into a pre-set language... a speech to text converter > language translation tool > text to speech converter?
  • A theatre that allows the viewer to select the actors on-the-fly while buying the tickets to the movie... when they can make Beowulf, why not!
Yea, why not?!

15 Jan 2008

Moviethon 2

Are you confused between which copy of the movie to be downloaded when there are multiple versions available? There is a plethora of sites that provide
movie files or torrent files. Some of the sites are religiously documented and some are very stingily detailed. You are in luck in the case of the former, however all is not lost if you are dealing with the latter.

I normally expect the movie file to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Acceptable audio language or subtitles - If it is an english movie, the audio language better be english and not the dubbed version. However, if it is Chinese, it better be an English dubbed version or the one with proper english sub-titles. If this has not been specified anywhere, I normally do not start the download.
  • Good video quality - It is no fun watching the movie where everything seems to have shot in the dark or if only half the screen is shown. This has been detailed in the paragraph that follows.
  • No lag between the audio and video - One of the more frustrating features of a free movie would be to see one thing and hear something else. Imagine the audio saying - "What is this?" while the visual is showing hero's pelvic thrusts!
  • Decent number of seeders - applicable if it is a torrent.
  • File size less than 800 Mb - If you are downloading a file directly, file size is shown as part of the 'Downloading' window. If this is a torrent, file size would be a part of the general information tab in the BitTorrent client. This is partly because I run out of space very frequently and mostly because the size packs in enough clarity for the laptop theatre.
If the file is available on a forum, scroll through the thread to check if someone else has left a comment regarding the quality of the movie or if there is a sample screenshot provided. Some of them even provide a few minutes of the video for sampling the audio and the video quality... on the lines of the
customary - aaoo, dekho, parkho, phir khareedo... except that it is free. If nothing else eases the confusion, the name of the movie file or the torrent file should give a few hints. Most of the times, the file name provides clues to determine the type of video, the language of the movie and even links to the source. Most of the movies that I have watched have been of the following types:

Cam ripCAMMade by sneaking a digital camcorder into a theater and taping the movie. Usually poor quality of video with people walking in front of the camera, shaking, poor resolution and contrast. Since, the audio source is the microphone of the camcorder, it includes voices of the audience. This is the best you can get if you want to experience movie watching the Indian way where the audience gets involved in the movie. I still remember the whistles, the excitement and the aarti in the 'Sivaji' cam rip.
TelesyncTSMade mostly using the same method as the above; extra efforts go into ensuring that the audio quality is better. The audio is recorded using a direct link with the theatre's audio system or using a hearing aid for the deaf.
ScreenerSCR, DVDSCRMade by ripping from a DVD or a video tape that is sent to the reviewers. The original DVD or video tapes are not meant for sale and are not of the best possible quality as they are not a direct source of income to the promoter. These copies have messages at the bottom like 'This is promotional copy' that flash intermittently. There could also be less content and some black and white scenes.
DVD ripDVD, DVDRMade using a ripping software from a retail DVD. The seeding of such a torrent is quite high when a DVD rip is released. Most times they do not include the extra scenes or footage or interviews that accompany a DVD. If the file includes multiple subtitles or multi-region support, the size of the file tends to be more than a Gb... sometimes evern 5 Gb.
HDTV ripHDTV, DSR, TVRip, PDTV, DVBRipMade by recording using a TV card or from a digital satellite or an analog capture card. This is the method used for providing famous TV serials like American Idol or Nach Baliye. The quality is quite high due to the availability of DVD quality digital signal. This is similar to the live TV streaming that one gets to view online.

12 Jan 2008

Stumped vision

They have got it all wrong... the allegations, the man of the match, the principle of host, and even the reasons.

During the Indian cricket tour of Australia, Bhajji has been charged with racism because of something that he said to the Australian cricketer, Symonds. The turbanator has been repeatedly telling that he did not call Symonds a 'monkey'. Someone raised a doubt about the allegation saying - How did the aussies understand what Harbhajan said when he himself does not understand his english? And the point was not fully wrong because the latest is that in fact, Bhajji had said 'Maa Ki...' as an apt reply to the instigation from the Aussies.
Reports poured in about the cancellation of the tour as the visitors threatened to go back home. Of course, it is not fair that you call someone home to play a game and then not let him/ her win. Even if the host has to win, it should not be done with such a thrashing. One can learn about being a good host from the Indians. When there is an international match in India against the weakest of the teams, they ensure that the visitors do not leave disappointed. Afterall, Indians believe that guests are a form of God.

The credit for maintaining the winning streak goes to the ever-ready finger of the on man. The man of the match in the second test was, undoubtedly, Steve Bucknor. He is the fearsome Ninja who is turning blind with age and so relies on his ears for the crucial decisions. His sharp hearing powers help distinguish the level of intensity and drama in the appeal of the fielders. It is not his fault that the Indians do not put in enough emotions and volume in their appeals like the Australians do by walking fearsomely close to him!

But wait, not everything went wrong for the Indians. The test matches have separated the men from the boys. It has highlighted the genius of the stalwarts like Sachin, Laxman, Saurav and Rahul, who have persisted through the tough batting conditions. When Rahul was young, he used to take his OWN bat and ball to the cricket ground and inspite of that, his friends used to make him field all day... no batting! To the frustration of the opposition, he now makes everyone field while he makes up for all the batting that he missed in the younger days. He enjoyed his batting at the crease for 40 balls before he finally ran to score the first run. Batting vasool, boss.

The tour is only getting more entertaining by the day and they ask me the reason for staying glued to the match!

5 Jan 2008

Dust Kahaaniyaan

Viewed on: 01 Jan 08 15:00
Viewed at: Home

Dus Kahaaniyaan
Starring: Mentioned below for each story

Similar movie: Darna Manaa Hai... I mean, just the theme of multiple stories in one movie. The stories in itself are all based on different themes

Genre: End mein Twist

A noble attempt at doing something different, but my preference is something like 'Darna Manaa Hai' where the stories are connected somehow and lead to an ending. As the name suggests there are 10 stories... 6 different directors... plethora of actors... no definite theme. I have mentioned below the name of the story, its director, the actors, the theme and the things that stood out enough for me to still remember.
1. Matrimony - Sanjay Gupta - adultery in marriage
*ing: Mandira Bedi, Arbaaz Khan
- Ultra chic breakfast and furniture
- Squint Julie
- 'We are sorry, your call cannot be completed as dialled.'

2. High on the Highway - Hansal Mehta - Jimmy's gf gets kidnapped on the highway
*ing:Jimmy Shergill, Masumeh Makhija
- Jimmy's hairdo
- 'Ek din isi bastard ko tum apne haathon se custard khilaaogi'

3. Puranmashi - Meghna Gulzar - Amrita gives into longing for her long lost lover and jeopardises her daughter's marriage
*ing: Amrita Singh, Minisha Lamba, Parmeet Sethi
- The typical punjabi house and the rustic wedding decorations
- The camera shot from inside the well with people watching from its rim

4. Strangers in the night - Sanjay Gupta - A couple shares intimate secrets
*ing: Mahesh Manjrekar, Neha Dhupia
- Too many unwanted explanations interspersed
-The near to 10 o'clock on the wall clock of the waiting room

5. Zahir - Sanjay Gupta - Manoj reacts to being turned down by a bar girl
Manoj Bajpai, Dia Mirza
- The large coffee mug, the large doorbell, the large balcony windows, wide screen TV, large bangles for earrings
- The idea that Saahil gives up his job as banker to attempt being a writer in 3 years
- The best twist amongst the 10 stories

6. Lovedale - Jasmeet Dhodi - Neha runs away from marriage because she thinks she has found true love elsewhere
*ing: Neha Uberoi, Aftab Shivdasani
- The most predictable story of the 10 and the most unnatural acting
- Can skip to the next story

7. Sex on the beach - Apoorva Lakhia - A book that opens a doorway to an unending date with a ghost (?)
*ing: Dino Moria, Tareena Patel
- Was it an ambigram for the book title? It reads 'life' and also 'death'
- very bizarre. avoidable. can sleep through this one.
- Apoorva Lakhia's cameo. He writes left handed

8. Rice Plate - Rohit Roy - A conservative religious lady does all that she normally despised
*ing: Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi
- Flawless selection of actors
- Shabana's style of wearing the saree so that it is tucked in a bit higher and her style of awlking with the legs spread a bit
- The hawaldaar without a pot belly
- Rs 160 for the taxi fare... could be Sion to Bandra?

9. Gubbare - Sanjay Gupta - Nana explains how small argument should not let a couple lose out on happier opportunities
*ing: Nana Patekar, Anita Hasanandani
- Nana Patekar gives a very sincere effort and so does Anita
- Bangles and mehndi on Anita's hand. Reminds me of Raveena Tandon in the scene when she raises just one eyebrow
- A copy of 'Alchemist' being read by Rohit Roy
- The red balloons with neatly drawn smileys

10. Rise and fall - Sanjay Gupta - An underworld don is targetted to be killed by his own friend
*ing: Sanjay Dutt, Suneil Shetty
- The most stylishly interweaved story of the series
- Typical names of Sanjay Gupta underworld heroes - Baba and Nawab
- The small sardar kid from Koi Mil Gaya has grown up and acted well