This poem is dedicated to the wonderful dish that's my truest companion on train rides. As tasty as the tastiest thing, and as satisfying as a Marvadi feast, this one's for you, dear B.O.
The date is fixed, the meal is not We'll feel hungry, something must be bought Call it a rat, call it a bullock, Whatever it is, it's running in my stomach.
My wallet is thin, my budget is low, From my seat to the pantry I must go. I walked up to the man and said hello, "Dus rupye ke liye kuchh de do" My mouth watered as he drew a cake, "Sau rupye ka hai bas soongh ke dekh"
All his friends laughed out loud, Oh! Damn I wish I was behind a crowd. "Don't worry", said Rama, "That's their usual drama, I'll tell you a story narrated by my mama."
"Once upon a time a man was hungry, Unable to bear it he ran to the pantry. Sorry sir, they said, we had only one hen, Which we had to butcher to make the chicken. What's that, he asked, round and oval, Must be an egg, I saw it in a novel. Oh! that's nothing sir, we just throw it away, It's a regular problem we face everyday. No my good man, please give it to me, Let me rack my brain and get the recipe, And thus they watched him make something yummy Wow! that's cheap, they said, and fills the tummy
As he was leaving, they yelled PLEASE WAIT, Please name the yummy dish we all just ate.
Gimme a second dude, he said, just a sec mate, And then said between mouthfuls, O DREAD I'M LATE, Mistaking this for the name, hearing it wrongly albeit, They named the new dish Bread Omlate"
If none you use an Airtel connection on your Mobile Phone, you might sympathize with me. If you use Airtel, you will empathize with me. In either case, I hope you don't dismiss it as the ramblings of an incorrigible sceptic. But ever since I've started using my mobile phone, I've been getting messages like "Abhijeet Sawant ke saath ek rangeen shaam bitaaen", "Abhijeet Sawant ko vote dene ke liye 09446373518 pe Abhi type karke SMS bhejiye" at annoyingly short intervals. In fact, I wouldn't mind approaching Yahoo to design a spam guard for my message inbox.
Welcome to Indian television. It was widely believed that the 21st century would see entertainment standards scale giddy heights, in terms of both technology and quality of entertainment. Sadly, the upgradation seems to be in an infinite loop with Stage 1 as the only code block. Inspired by the Reality Show concept, which worked wonders for AXN, major Indian channels have taken a fancy to creating superstars of common men. Their aim: To give talented youngsters an opportunity to taste fame. Their definition of fame: 20 crore SMSes from the Indian Idles, streaked hair, a cover story in a leading magazine, high TRP ratings for the channel, plenty of fuss about how The Show transformed them from the-girl-next-door to national icons, interviews on major news channels, etc. The promise: an album/a movie with a big label, loads of cash, streaked hair, a car, etc. The contests: Popstars I & II (Channel V), Indian Idol (Sony), SuperSinger(Channel V), Fame Gurukul (Sony)
It is sad to see that the country is accepting singers as idols. With all due respect to the profession, singing is easier than a lot of other things in the world, and definitely not worthy of idolatry. While TV watchers watch the programme more for the drama and politics shown than to fervently hunt for the best singer in the country, the TV channels claim that Reality Shows is the best way of picking jewels from the sand. Unlike singing competitions like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, the judge in most of these shows is the junta who may know as much about singing as I know about Hebrew. As a result, contestants are judged on a number of parameters other than quality of singing. A contestant who endears himself to the public (by being saccharine, public-savvy, and fun-loving) stands a much better chance than an excellent-but-introverted singer. When questioned about the veracity of their selection process, channels say that the winners will entertain the public and hence the public must choose its preferred entertainer. It doesn’t seem to matter that after their first stage show and the first song of their first album shown for the first time on TV channels, the champions are remembered as much as Ganguly’s last century is. On this count, even shows like Popstars, where an expert panel was the sole judge, have failed to sustain the hype they created around the winners. After one album with music by Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, Jatin-Lalit, Salim-Sulaiman, Sandeep Chowta, etc. and lyrics by Javed Akhtar, the five Popstars (Viva) were left to fend for themselves. The deal was, ‘we give you a launch-pad, you take the leap.’ But the launch pad launched them with the escape velocity and none of them are on the radar of popular entertainment today.
It is assumed that the winners will be so impressive in their debut album that music directors will queue up with blank cheques. Or Sony and EMI records will fight to sponsor their next album. However well Qazi, Abhijeet, and Neeti sing, Jatin-Lalit will always pick Sonu Nigam and Asha Bhonsle and Sandeep Chowta will always pick Sukhwinder Singh. Most of them, thus, are reduced to be just one-album wonders.
Two members of Viva left the band, Pratichee cut a solo album with shaded eyes, streaked-hair, fancy clothes, and pathetic sales. Mahua, Neha, and Anoushka (who bunked her board exams to appear in the screening) are non-entities.
Aasma, born from Popstars-II, cut an album (including the (s)hit single Chandu ke Chacha) and now rely on appearances in tele-serials for sustenance. They may be cutting another album but who cares? People were charmed by Neeti’s vivacity, Vasudha’s simplicity, Jimmy’s cool-dude attitude, and Sangeet’s smile. That all four of them can sing better than I is just incidental and insignificant.
Abhijeet Sawant (Indian Idol) may sell his debut album on the back of the video of his first song, but after that Indian Idol-2 will be announced and people will have little interest in persisting with Abhijeet Sawant. The junta is more excited about watching Indian Idol-2 and Fame Gurukul, than about checking on Abhijeet’s progress. My mother voted twice for Abhijeet but didn’t even consider buying her darling’s album. I’m sure she’s not alone. Amit Sana and Rahul Vaidya (the other winners of Indian Idol) also released their albums, but people are keener to know how Qazi, Rex, Ruprekha, Arpita, and Arijit are faring in Fame Gurukul. Qazi and Ruprekha have been declared the Fame Jodi by the Indian public. So what are they doing these days, Ma? Don’t know beta, anyway Indian Idol-2 has started. *But Ma, you voted 10 times for Qazi, don’t you want to see his songs? The messages from my mobile phone are free, the CD is not. Anyway, I voted for Qazi because he was the cutest of the lot.
Credit must be given to Channel V’s Super Singer for two reasons.
Very little hype was built around the programme and the winners. I wonder whether that was planned or incidental.
The winners are genuinely good singers with a bright future in the Hindi playback industry. (Unlike Ruprekha who has a big heart, Abhijeet whose face is very expressive, Qazi who looked adorable when he cried on stage, and Rahul Vaidya who looks a little like Sonu Nigam.)
India is a nation deprived of true idols, and the entertainment industry is not helping matters. If private channels are not regulated now, we may find the next generation answering to the standard what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up with I-want-to-be-Abhijeet-Sawant. There is no denying that the visual medium is the most far-reaching and powerful means of communication and entertainment. TV channels unfortunately equate entertainment with Shahrukh Khan, songs, and dance. It is time for Doordarshan to step in and produce short films on the life of Dhirubai Ambani, Jamshedji Tata, CV Raman, Narayana Murthy, Dhyan Chand, VS Naipual, Girish Karnad, Rabindranath Tagore, etc.; to appreciate existing idols before creating new ones. It’s sad that such biographies are labeled ‘Documentary’ and thrust to an insignificant corner on Discovery and History Channel. It will be nice to see a popular channel like Star taking the initiative of upgrading the quality of entertainment on TV. Singing contests interspersed with quizzes, biographies, even laughter shows, will serve well to improve the standard of television. But for this, somebody must give Peter Mukherjea and Subhash Chandra a strong wake-up call. They say they air Reality Shows because the public wants to see it, and the public says it watches them because they are shown on TV. Passing the buck will only tear the note. All that is needed is an Ekta Kapoor-like transformation, but this time to undo the spell she has cast over the Indian audience.
Till long after I watched this movie I refused to believe that Salaam Namaste referred only to the radio station Preity worked for. My refusal paid off when I realised that no other title could come as close to the film's theme as Salaam Namaste; Salaam Namaste when jumbled almost gives Masala Sans Meat.
Salaam Namaste is another loose brick from Yashraj Films' flimsy wall. It's got all the unnecesary-but-sufficient ingredients of a Yashraj blockbuster. With directors realizing that the audience no longer accepts plain bullshit, debutant Siddharth Raj Anand garnishes it with some comedy, some hysteria, some bold scenes, and some clichéd attempts at appealing to modern sensibilities. But the voice talking about "relevant" problems like pre-marital sex and live-in relationships has chronic laryngitis. The director wrongly assumes that addressing social issues in lavish settings and with lots of oomph will appeal to both the niche and bench audience.
Salaam Namaste is about radio jockey Ambar (a cute-turned-irresistibly sexy Preity Zinta) and chef Nikhil Arora (played by Saif with his trademark nonchalance) who, after having a bitter fight over the radio, get attracted to each other at a party. They decide to live-in but in different rooms. The movie is quite entertaining from the start to when both move from different rooms to the same bed. They succeed in abstaining at first, and then not only taste the forbidden fruit but bite so deeply into it that the inconceivable happens (yes, pun intended). Along with Preity’s virginity, the entertainment ends. She realizes she is pregnant, INTERMISSION is flashed on the screen, and I wait eagerly, anticipating some intense drama in the second half.
The second half follows a beaten-to-the-point-of-pulverization track. Saif doesn’t want the kid but Preity insists on keeping it. They decide to continue living in the house, but out of each other’s way. Meanwhile, Siddharth Raj Anand introduces Javed Jaffrey in a highly intimidating role. How a loafer can survive his lifetime on the back of a lottery is a question the director would love to skip. He does crack some absolutely delightful one-liners, but overdoes his Sorry…Eggjacktly. Anyway, the movie meanders on with high-decibel confrontations, Saif and Arshad Warsi’s discussions on children and wives, Arshad’s married life with Tania (of Who Dares Wins fame), and other trivialities. Preity’s stomach grows enough to house the Indian cricket team, complete with the super-subs, coach, and Dalmiya. But how can that stop her from dancing at 11:45 p.m? Yashraj has to entertain the fetuses in the womb.
Their relationship travels from lust to love to disgust and obviously back to love, and how! With Saif obstinate about not wanting to father the child and Preity equally adamant of mothering it, the former shies away from testing his blood to detect a complication in the child (the director uses some medical terms to appeal to us educated audience). The paranoid Saif finally gets his blood tested by her gynaecologist and gets a copy of the sonograph. He watches the video, and gets all icky about Preity and their twins. The film gets maudlin and Saif does a Shahrukh Khan towards the end, broadcasting his love on Salaam Namaste. He uses the radio and the jobless public to get to his love. He proposes and her labour pains start, and Lo! Who do we see in the hospital? A qualified doctor worthy of a swank hospital? Or a mentally retarded Abhishek Bachchan who jumps about like a brain-dead kangaroo in the labour room? The climax was the last of the twenty thousand nails in the coffin.
Preity was stunning in the first half, but looked awful and acted poorly in the second half. Saif was cool in the first half, and decent for most part in the second. The cacophony they created in the second half was Yashraj’s idea of powerful dialogues. Arshad Warsi wasn’t used well, though he did his bit well. Jugal Hansraj took a role a Bhojpuri tele-serial sidekick would’ve rejected. Javed Jaffrey, Preity’s boss, and Abhishek Bachchan were pathetically crafted characters. The songs were too long and the music was typical of Yashraj Films (read bad).
The movie will definitely work because it has enough steam for men, enough slapstick comedy for the bench, and a little urban comedy for the college junta. Also, star power will take it a long way. But if you think you have finally found a commercial success that is not preposterous, think again. If you think the beggar in your street is well stocked for the month you can buy a balcony ticket. If you think it is a wholesome family entertainer, make sure you’re the only member of your family. If you think Indian Cinema will move ahead with this, you’re probably standing in the wrong direction.
Disclaimer Part 1: All ideas expressed in this article are the author's views on parenting. The author is a 19-year old bachelor with no experience in parenting.
Parents are often called incarnations of God, creators and nourishers of life, embodiments of impartiality and love, etc- and for good reason too (Anybody who can bear babies' tantrums and unpredictable bowels deserves every word of praise the English language offers). Much is said about parents' virtues and their shortcomings. In general, parents are shown as being extremely loyal to their children in that a mother is supposed to dote as much on her rapist son as on her respected and upright son.
But in this process of beatifying parents, are we denying them sentiments natural to common judgement? In other words, are we justified in calling parents totally impartial? If you ask a parent with more than one child whether they hold one of their children in higher regard, you'd need Jonty's reflexes to duck under the flying vases. Their reply, ipso facto a no, is hardly ever objective. True, parents rebuke an erring child, but if all attempts fail, they are supposed to digest their faults with a bucket of salt and continue showering love on them.
Undeniably, some people in the world are better than others. A smart person is better than a fool. An intelligent person is better than a complete dud. But if parents have two children- one bright, smart, and talented, and the other, an unskilled and naive moron, they refuse to acknowledge child 1's superiority. Acknowledging this is not tantamount to buying him an extra ice-cream, so parents needn't fight to bog down a silent realisation.
When we grow into mature adults with well-defined interests and whims, isn't it possible that our manner doesn't appeal to our parents. If my father is allowed to bitch about a random reckless 24-year old, why can't he inveigh freely against his reckless 24-year old son (assuming that the son becomes reckless after his parents' parvarish and sanskaar, so that Ekta's characters don't say hamari parvarish mein hi koi kami rahi hogi)? Though responsibility might bind parents during their child's childhood, what stops them from dislking a 20-year old adult? Is it the pressure of society that inhibits them from making their displeasure public, or is it that parents are endowed with a you-shall-never-hate your-child gene?
I'd love to get lie-detector tests done on parents and see how much of what I've is true. (At least some Hindi movies show parents disliking their children. Baghban was one; and haven't we heard meri kokh pe laalat hai some 3 dozen times?)
Disclaimer Part 2: If the author's parents read this article, he'd like them to rest assured that they will pass the test with flying colours.
Act 1, Scene 1. Setting: A class of thirty students.
Amit: Mere ek-sau-tees friends ho gaye orkut mein Nishant: Bas! mera to 287 pahunch gaya! dhikchik dhikchik! Rajiv: Ha! tum to pata nahi kis-kis ko add kar lete ho apne list mein. Nishant: Tu to bol hi mat. Abhi bhi saala tees pe atka hai. Amit: Abbey maine ek IIT-Roorkee waale ka profile dekha kal. Fodu banda hai yaar. Uske communities dekhke paagal ho gaya yaar! Quantum Cryptography aur pata nahi kya kya. Sheetal: Arre suno sab log, mera community join karo "I love chocolate ice-cream" Amit: Pehle tum mera testi likho aur mujhe teen heart do. Sheetal: Rehne do. Rajiv join karega. Tum sab gande bachche ho. Rajiv: Arre yaar, koi to mera fan bano. Nishant: Cold drink pila, raat tak ban jaaoonga. Shilpa: Chhee! bechaara! mein tumhaari fan ban jaaoongi, theeke. Nishant: Aahaannn. Koi kisi ka fan banne jaa rahe hai. Lage raho beta. Sheetal: Tum logon ne "I love my mother" community dekha kya? Itne cute-se messages thhe unme. Itne pyaare. Sahil: Sheetal, tumhe mera Happy Friendship Day message mila? Nahi! Sorry yaar, belated wishes bhej deta hoon. Amit: Hey Shilpa, photo mein tum bahut sweet lag rahi ho. Rajiv: Haan yaar, bahut pyaara photo hai. Shilpa: Thanks, kal hi upload kiya thha. Nishant(whispering to Shilpa): hata do usko
This is what the standard of conversations has come to post www.orkut.com-familiarisation. A novel concept of community- and network-building introduced in its Beta version by Google has been reduced to a forum of nearly jobless students whose chests swell when they get more friends on their list than others do. I must admit that at first, I too had fallen victim to orkut.com’s allure. Though most people do extract a tad of its potential, it is negligible when compared to the inordinate amount of time spent in adding hostel mates to buddy lists, scribbling Independence Day and Friendship Day greetings in the scrapbooks of friends living two rooms away, writing hypocritical testimonials, and indiscriminately joining communities.
When I asked my friend why he invited me to join his friend list, he said it would help us keep in touch in future. This, at a time when Yahoo Messenger has comprehensively pervaded the student community, is an implausible explanation. It is undeniable that people check their emails much more frequently than their orkut scrapbooks. As far as chancing on old friends is concerned, orkut helps in obtaining their email ids or phone numbers. Period. In fact, most people, including I, hardly follow up on our old friends’ messages or bother relaying more communication than the initial "Hey….long time no see….howz life….me in itbhu….where r u? keep in tch. Cya" Old friends with whom we are very keen to keep contact are added, as if by default, onto Messenger lists or mobile phone memories. And by the way, the number of friends in your buddy-list depends on the number friends you have and not vice versa.
"Friend karma" allows you to rate your friends as cool, trustworthy, and attractive. You can also become their fan. A friend will continue to call you a fool if he is in the practice of calling you one, even if you have 40 fans and have exhausted your quota of smileys, ice cubes, and hearts. Strangers too, hardly get influenced by these ratings, because the practice of bribing-for-rating is prevalent in all places.(Of course, the only difference being samosas might be replaced by subways and Pepsis by beers)
Another feature that attracts most people to orkut is the testimonial section. My classmates, who I have been living with since July 2003, and whose interpretations of my nature are evident by their attitude towards me, write a 1024-character opinion about me, generally hypocritical. Some of the following lines can be found in an alarming number of testimonials: Ø He/She is very supporting, caring and helpful. Ø He/She is very determined. Ø All the best for ur future. Ø I hope we always remain friends.
Perhaps the clinching yet most misused feature of orkut is the Communities section- clinching because people form study forums, word-game communities, old-boys associations, etc. and most misused because of communities like "Pink Floyd fans", "I hate Ekta Kapoor", "I love my mother", etc. Most communities are just fads and activity in them lasts a lifetime (of a housefly). I created pointless communities like "I Hate Veer-Zaara" and "Scrabble" and found people flocking to it in the first week, and then scarcely remembering its name. It’s not their memory but the futility of the community that deserves blame. An idle mind is orkut's workshop.
I’ve wasted a number of hours adding friends, inviting them, hunting for old buddies, scribbling scraps and messages, joining communities, and writing testimonials; and have seen a number of friends do the same. But the worst thing about wasting time is that when time is being wasted, you think it is the best way to spend that time.You thus always realise that time had been wasted and never that time is being wasted. Orkut’s popularity though, like the Stock Exchange, will experience a downward correction sooner or later, because students and their priorities come of age.
Moral of the story: An idle mind is orkut's workshop.
According to custom, Rakshabandhan is a festival where girls tie a fancy thread around their brothers' wrists and pray for their welfare. Brothers on the other hand, promise to guard them forever. Ironically, the promise of eternal protection needs an annual renewal. It is a festival which gives: 1. students a holiday 2. students a holiday 3. students a holiday 4. girls the chance to curb a boy's infatuation 5. boys another road to bankruptcy
Today being Rakshabandhan, it'd be worthwile to check on the status of the definitions of brother, sister, and brother-sister relationships. The misuse of titles is rampant among students. Students don't twitch a neuron before purporting some classmates to be their brothers or sisters. Once while in school, I teased my friend for spending entire days with a girl from my class, and he snapped, a flash of coerced anger in his eyes, "She is my sister." During schooldays, we called Rakhis licences to flirt and this was amply corroborated by the couples' regular trips to Cafe Coffee Day, Pizza Hut, and other hang-outs. The most notorious casanovas would have the most number of Rakhis on their arms. Whenever we teased these guys (I generally refrain from teasing girls) they would take refuge in the folds of the damn Rakhi and talk at length about the sanctity of sibling love. Their philosophy confounded me then, and still does. From what they said, I inferred that when a girl ties you a thread, you love her like you love your sister, and hence she becomes your sister. So the difference between going out with your girlfriend and going out with your Rakhi-sister is that you are not supposed to be teased with your sister while you can tolerate people teasing you with your girlfriend. I find this rationale so foggy that I need to clear the air with forthright analysis of the definition of sister. A sister is a female offspring born to your parents. Period. The brother-sister link is a relationship genetics thrusts upon us and which tradition identifies as platonic. I sometimes think brother-sister relationships are platonic not because they are supposed to be, but because they just are. Sisters, as a result of living with you under the same roof for a couple of decades, become good friends and confidantes. Very little separate sisters then, from friends. In fact, I have a sister who I consider to be among my best friends. I call her Akka simply because that's what my parents taught me to call her and that's what she was asked to reply to. We give each other no special sibling-privilege or sibling-love. There are some people I consider as dear to me as my sister, and as trustworthy. But that doesn't mean I will start calling them brothers. If I do, it tantamounts to undermining the scope of the definition of friendship. It's well known that siblings can grow up disliking each other. This adduces credibility to my claim that 'sister' can't be blindly substituted for 'caring, loving, and helping girl.' So if a boy considers girl 1 a sister and girl 2 a friend, the only difference is that he does not/does not want to/is not allowed to look lecherously at the former. I'm sure a number of brothers will thirst for my blood on reading this, but this a sacrosanct fact. How else can you justify separate titles for two girls who you treat with commensurate care and fuss?
Disclaimer: All statements made in this article are a product of the author's general opinions on the subject. Resemblance of any situation mentioned with anyone's personal experience is purely coincidental.
1.Star Power Your hero must be Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, a terrific dancer or an oooh-drawer. The last asset your actor needs is acting talent. Look at Fardeen, Shahid, and Hritik. If you cannot afford Shahrukh Khan, you should atleast have his picture hanging on the wall. If your heroine is not Rani or Preity, she must show plenty of skin. Skin obviously excludes skin of the face, arms, feet, and other things men can do without. It'd be easy on your producer if she can do the customary item number and sizzling scene without demanding a body-double. Rate all available heroines on the Droolability Scale and make the topper your automatic choice.
2.Music AR Rahman is too busy. Anu Malik should be your next choice. He copies good songs.
If it's a Shahrukh Khan film: A Sudanese folk song will suffice. Once you have one catchy song, you can fill your tapes with Jatin-Lalit's balderdash.If you do not want to plagiarize, you can have a muted song with Shahrukh Khan putting on and removing his Raybans 5 times in a minute or running his fingers passionately through his hair, throwing his head back, and looking beseechingly at the sky.
Finally, you can use Juggy D and his band of rappers who blabber some indistinguishable gibberish. They succeed in making an ultra-small piece of attractive music (ranging from a few microseconds to three seconds) and then replay it for the entire length of the song.
3.Script Your story should be built around scenes and not vice versa. Get Paresh Rawal to speak a couple of witty lines in a Marwari or Gujarati accent. If he's too busy, Johnny Lever is always available for his meaningless tantrums. If you want to make a youthful film about college romance, don't work overtime trying to make your protagonists look young. Get a couple of overaged, long-haired, goggle-donning, gum-chewing brawny jerks; a few mini-skirt clad culture-conscious girls who wear a "Come on, take me on" and "Mein ek Hindustani ladki hoon" facade at the same time; a bespectacled curly-haired, gullible nerd; and some hassled and really dumb teachers. When your heroine or hero walk in a group, make sure their dress is brighter, they walk in the centre of the group, and the cronies laugh at anything they say. You must have either an arm-wrestling duel (with the hero as underdog, of course) or a bike race (with the hero triumphing inspite of the villain's sidekicks' efforts to scupper his race) or an audacious challenge which basically ensures that the next scene is in Kashmir with the lead pair singing songs of love and commitment (O mere yaar, mujhe hai tumse pyaar, jaane bahaar, tere bina jeevan mein hai andhkaar... and all that blah). Again, keep in mind that it is individual scenes and not the net product that determines a film's longevity.
If it's a Shahrukh Khan film: Anything from the Recycle Bin will do. I'm sure you've heard the adage 'Originality and Speed Kill'. In SRK's films, a script is, after all, (nonde)script.
Intersperse the regular bullshit with some tears, an attempted rape, abusive language, and some hysterical dialogues.This is indispensable. Your hero must deliver a 10-minute performance, near the climax, of insanity or plain hysteria bellowing some powerful statements against the system or the society.(Yaar!acting kya fodu thi! (Man! what a spectacular performance))
Mangal Pandey- The Rising Starring: Aamir Khan, Toby Stephens, Amisha Patel, Rani Mukerji, Kirron Kher Music: AR Rahman Director: Ketan Mehta (of Maya Memsaab, Aar Ya Paar, O Darling! Yeh Hai India fame)
It’s finally here. It’s playing at a theatre near you. It’s cassettes are all over the place. Enter any Hindi Music buff’s house and you’ll hear Mangala Mangala echoing from every brick. MSN is spinning money thanks to Aamir Khan’s blog. Titan caught Aamir before the star cut his hair. Kitty-parties and gossip circles chatter excitedly in anticipation. Every mortal with a semblance of interest in Hindi Cinema wants to watch it. But the suspense is now out and the critics’ first question reads, “Was it worth the wait?” For me, it’s a clear no. The USP of The Rising was Aamir Khan’s first appearance since DilChahta Hai. But what’s the mileage star power can give to a film? Generally, star power is all you need to make a hit film. Sadly, the star here had little power and had to share precious screen time with Toby Stephens (who essayed the role of Capt.William Gordon quite brilliantly) and the two heroines- Amisha Patel and Rani Mukerji. Ketan Mehta, who hitherto made films with simple plots, ordinary cinematography, and modest budgets, was expected to transcend the divide between mediocre and classy cinema. But the story lacked substance and the storytelling lacked novelty.
Mangal Pandey assumes a lower standing in the Indian independence struggle than Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai, etc. Mangal Pandey, to most people, was just the instigator of the Revolt of 1857 who refused to use cartridges greased with the fat of cows and pigs. He did not enjoy the following that Bose, Gandhi, and Bhagat Singh got for their courage and initiative. He is known more for the repercussions his death caused than the patriotism his actions during his lifetime instilled. Also, little is known about Mangal’s childhood and personal life. Lack of availability such information reiterates his relative unimportance in India’s freedom struggle. Unlike the fiery and sagacious Bhagat Singh, this youth was more a hot-headed rebel than a revolutionary. I might be grossly undermining his contribution to India’s independence, but this is precisely where Ketan Mehta fails- he fails to elevate the image NCERT textbooks created of Mangal Pandey.
Flaws in the foundation of the plot notwithstanding, the film could’ve soared if Ketan Mehta had compromised on a couple of irritating songs and employed a better dialogue-writer. Though the cinematography was excellent, the dialogues lacked much-needed power and intensity. Also, Ketan Mehta tried to gain an impractiably high viewership and make it a come-one-come-all film. The titillating scenes and songs at regular intervals killed the pace of the film and dissipated the tension in the air. One feels a documentary on Mangal Pandey would fetch more laurels than this awry attempt at commercial success. I consider Rajkumar Santoshi’s TheLegend of Bhagat Singh an exemplary film all patriotic-film makers must strive to emulate. The Indian audience is lenient enough to excuse the absence of the contrivances doled out generously by Hindi movies these days.
The music was uncharacteristic of the period and of AR Rahman. The Mujra and the Holi song were particularly shocking. Aamir Khan had few memorable scenes; Toby Stephens was excellent in his portrayal of a supporter of the rebellion. Rani Mukerji and Kirron Kher did their bit with élan. Amisha Patel was pathetic and a major liability of the film. Om Puri’s narration was nothing to write home about. The direction and dialogue-writing were lacklustre.
Generation of an overpowering sense of pride is a sine qua non of patriotic films. Failure on this count, and on several others, will see Mangal Pandey draw more flak than it would’ve bargained for. Aamir Khan might take this film to a respectable distance but it’s unlikely that the producer will break-even.
Name of the movie: Veer-Zaara Starring: Sharhrukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Amitabh Bahchan, Hema Malini, Rani Mukerji, Boman Irani, Kirron Kher, Divya Dutta Rating: -5/5
After Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham- It’s all about loving your parents, here’s presenting Yash Chopra’s Veer-Zaara– It’s all about shoving your parents. Yash Chopra had said during an interview that he liked making meaningful films. It’s sad that he never manages to do what he likes. If Yash Chopra reckoned a story of 2 saccharine lovers sacrificing their worlds (and incidentally, countries) for each other could pass for an India-Pakistan relations-booster, either he is a fool or he should be executed for thinking us fools. The film begins with Rani Mukerji (or Mukerjee or Mukherji or Kmukerjee or Mmukkerrjiii) trying to elicit the truth from ShahRukh Khan- a detained Indian AirForce officer in a Pakistan jail. The flashback follows: Zaara (Preity or Preety or Priety) wakes up from sleep and avers in a 5-minute ordeal (read song) that she will never change. Her doting servant/caretaker/friend (Divya Dutta) seems to find the whole thing very cute (I unleash my first yawn). Zaara’s grandmother is about to die and wants her ashes submerged in the Ganges (Yash Chopra can exhale. The India-Pak link is forged.). Yash Chopra doesn’t take long to finish her off.
The sanskaari granddaughter, deciding to do the honours, travels to India, where she is rescued from a predicament by You Know Who. Veer, who is initially pretty peeved about Zaara’s obduracy (to know why Zaara was obdurate, you must watch the film), is mollified by her apology. He gives her some lassi and offers to put her up in his house. Move over Britannica. ShahRukh Khan can give you a 4-minute synopsis of India. The first line of the song when translated reads “Golden Earth, Blue Skies, Colourful Seasons- this is my country”. That’s equivalent to “two eyes, one nose, two ears” uniquely defining a person. But why listen to the lyrics? The song gives time for restless men to have a puff or relieve themselves.
She enters his Punjabi household. His parents are delighted to have such a convivial little mynah in their house, who despite being a Pakistani, behaves like a normal human being. Eureka! While most directors provide food for thought, Yash Chopra has his thought as food (and thus looks malnourished*). She gels with his community like Sprite with Vodka, convinces Amithabh to open a school for girls, sings a song with Veer, Amitabh, and Hema, and becomes the cynosure of all eyes in the village. Then in an expected turn of events, she falls in love with Veer. He tells her that he would die for her with alacrity. Yash Chopra loses plenty of hair in trying to show how hospitable Indians can be.
When she goes back to Pakistan, her father (Boman Irani) informs her that she would be marrying some man he’d chosen. Zaara asks her mother if the groom in question, or even her father, would die for her. When she’s about to chide her, Zaara says she knew an Indian who would give his life for her (fall in line, suicide squads). Boman rubbishes her betrothal to Veer and fixes the nuptial dates. Divya Dutta asks ShahRukh to rush to the venue. He reaches in time. (Another song starts. I get disgusted and walk out, preferring the mosquitoes’ drone to Late Madan Mohan’s music. I enter 5 minutes after the song ends and miss a couple of scenes.)
Veer is escorted to prison by Zaara’s fiancé (Manoj Bajpai) and is asked to stay there under a false identity if he wants Zaara to stay happy. Veer, realising that Zaara’s happiness is more important than his parents’ survival, assents, and becomes known as Qaidi no.786. Thus Veer, leaving his aging parents for the vultures, resigns to his custom-made fate. But how could Veer-Zaara be a Wholesome Family Entertainer if Zaara showed Veer the finger and decided to live with Manoj? She moves to India, to Veer’s village, takes care of his parents, becomes haggard, and learns some Punjabi.
Back to the present, Rani, the lawyer, hearing this poignant tale, vows to give Qaidi no.786 back his identity (and thus show that benevolence is not patented by India). Fighting the best lawyer around wasn’t much of a problem for her. She brought Zaara to the court and virtually closed the case. But before the judge used his mallet, he granted them 5 minutes for a reunion song and another 5 for Veer’s parting speech (the dialogue sequence he needs to justify the awards he gets). After the speech, the audience and the judge stand-up and applaud. The grey-haired Veer goes back home with the haggard-and-Punjabised Zaara and live happily ever after. (My friend shakes me up and tells me it’s finally over. I sigh, relieved. I walk out of the theatre, wiser- never watch a movie without getting reviews from like-minded sources.)
The saving grace of the movie was Rani Mukerji, who looked gorgeous. But she, along with Amitabh, Boman Irani, Kirron Kher, and Anupam Kher, is wasted in a nugatory role. Shahrukh does in Veer-Zaara what he’s been doing since time immemorial. Preity wasn’t challenged either. If I was asked to name one person who did his job well, I would I would name the make-up man. Old people did look old (unlike Kkekta Kkkapoor’s serials, where old age means spectacles, a streak of white paint at the sideburns, and the odd cough).
How Veer-Zaara is different from other films of its genre? Yash Chopra claimed Veer-Zaara would be different from other love stories. It actually was. The flashback started from 22 years behind instead of the customary ‘aaj se bees saal pehle’.
*These views are strictly personal. Please do not come to my room shouting anti-Akshay slogans.
These are three of my personal favourites. Hope you like them. BATHING DOES MATTER - RENTWALIKA
Nose closed, no matter how far, Could’ve emptied a shopping mart, Forever smelling in the class, And bathing does matter.
Never repelled myself this way, The smell is yours but it comes our way, Your odour makes our heads sway, So bathing does matter.
Yuck you reek & look awful too, Dust is stuck to you like glue, No one will say your shirt is new Yes bathing does matter.
Never spared the teachers too, Never saw their wrinkled brow, “Don’t come now……”
Now closed, behind jail’s bars, For leaning on the P.M.’s car When the driver went in the lunch hour So bathing does matter.
“Now I know I’ve been a goose, Stinking pig left on the loose… Now I know…….”
Never thought of himself this way, Full of remorse, in jail he lay, “I’ll use Cinthol and Camay, Coz bathing does matter .
What I seek is solitude, Unless you guys are merciful, If not all, then a trusted few, Oh bathing does matter…………
Now I will bathe everyday, Even if it snows all day, Never care for a cold flu, I’ll do this coz I know, But might be slow….yeah hey
Now roams in a blue car, Entertaining women every hour, Jealous friends say the grapes are sour, See bathing does matter.
EVERYTHING I DO I DO IT FOR BOOZE – BRAIN FATHOMS
Look into my eyes, you will see, They look like cherries. I just snort, when I’m told, that if I don’t stop now, my liver’ll be sore, Don’t tell me it’s not worth spending for, Don’t tell me the chance of dying is more, You know me too, Everything I do, I do it for booze.
Look at other guys, you will find, They too drink but they hide. Taste it with some ham, taste with sprite, If you don’t get zapped, I shall sacrifice. Now don’t tell me it’s not worth trying for, I will help you, to cure a hangover. You’ll say it too, “Everything I do, I’ll do it for booze.”
There’s no mug, Like a beer mug, And no starter, Can beat Fosters, I won’t allay, Even if dad’s there, A shot of lime, And the stink’s at bay.
Don’t tell me my salary is too poor I can’t leave it; I’d rather be no more, Yeah I’ll swipe for booze, I’ll cry for booze, Walk on fire for booze, Yeah I’ll bribe for booze. You know it’s true, Everything I do, I do it for booze.
AIRWAYS TO SIWAN– LETS ZIPPITIN (Siwan is a town in Bihar) There’s a lady who’s sure If all the cattle is sold She’ll be building an airport in Siwan.
To the press then she goes For the cameras she posed With a third of her party she entered. OOOoooo.....And she's bringing the airways to Siwan. There’s a smile in the hall, When she said this would cure All the deaths that were caused by foot-boarding. During tea she said “look, there’s space for spitting, It’ll have all of its windows wide open.
There’s a feeling I get, That we will beat the rest Coz we’ll stop by for anyone waving;
And during droughts there will be special flights to the fields And for dhobis a clothes-line for hanging.
And then by next June, we'll round up all the goons Without tickets, coz there’s just one entrance; And a new day will dawn for farmers who wait long Coz the harvests will travel much faster.
If you’re an SC, then wipe your brow, your rates are low, It’s just a half fee till 18. If there are 2 paths we can fly by, we’ll take one Where it is tough to ply the carts on.”
The crowd was buzzing and it didn’t go coz it didn’t know, Which airline agreed to join in. “Dear Rudy can’t you see the crowd glow, you should know Our airways’ll ensure that we will win.” And as the fuel tank got over, His prayers reached ground control There talks a lady who doesn’t know, It can’t take cows and buffaloes (Pilot): “How can its milk be used as fuel?” And when he pleaded very hard, (Lady): “Diesel and oil will be the past When all is done give me a call” (Pilot):“At 8’o clock you’ll know the toll”
For a start, let me amend the popular adage "A friend in need is a friend indeed" to "A friend in need is a human being". In most cases, it isn't friendship that makes a passerby take an injured man to a hospital; it's humanity, a quality which is 1 part compassion and 4 parts greed to do a good deed. Who doesn't like to boast, "Everybody just crowded around him but I took him on my bike to the hospital." Nothing can be as gratifying as a feel-good feeling. It's this human tenet that goads people, friends included, into such acts of benevolence. So, if you ever ram against a tree and a complete stranger uses his handkerchief to stem the flow from your split forehead, don't think you've found a new friend. The stranger, after ingesting all praises with gracious glee, will swear for having to buy a new kerchief.
Barring a few, most people we call friends are non-enemies. There’s a subtle difference between liking somebody’s company and not minding it. Let’s consider two people A and B; to avoid complications, let’s assume both to be of the same sex. If A and B don’t mind each others company, they are acquaintances; if both enjoy each other’s company, they are friends; and if A enjoys B’s company and B doesn’t mind A’s, it’s an apparent friendship- A laughs and B forces his lips up.
I would crudely define a friend as a person you know well, like spending time with, and behind whose back you never bitch. Never. Friendship is the assurance that your friend will not ask you too many questions if you don’t want him to, it is the assurance that your friend will return the money they borrowed without being prodded, it is the comfort with which you can break into their room, sleep on their bed and ask them to stop snoring, and it is the confidence with which you can tell them a secret without asking them to keep mum.
To maintain that fantastic equation with your buddies it’s important that you don’t breach the space that each individual craves for and deserves by being possessive or motherly. There’s a fine line between being caring and overdoing it. Good friends stay on the former side. A good friend, apart from lending advice, knows when it is not necessary to advise. They know that even if they are shouted at, it has no long-term implications, and above all, good friends are never insecure about their friends or friendships.
It is important to realize that friends are never altruistic. Friends being competitors will never share without inhibition. Thus good friends never ask you for a thing which they know you might hesitate to give. They will never look at you askance if you refuse them something. Do not get icky with your friendship. Friends are never permanent. As we pass different milestones (this holds particularly for students), we will pick up a few good friends and leave some behind. Though the ones we leave are very dear to us, they fade against the newly founded friendships. This is true, though it sounds outrageous.
During class hours, apart from not paying attention to the lectures, I enjoy spoofing some of my favourite English songs. From Guns 'n Roses to Metallica, Bryan Adams to Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits to Eagles, here are some of my works. The name of the bands and the songs have been distorted to suit the spirit of the new lyrics. Try to guess who's who and what's what.
I. FAT AUNT OF MINE – SONS ‘N SPOUSES
She’s got thighs like it seems to me, Reminds me of dreadful calories, And everything from creamy to anything fried. Now and then, when she ties her lace, She shakes away other people’s gaze, Who stare all 'long, to watch her bend down and tie, O… fat aunt of mine.
She draws sighs of great surprise, when she enters a lane, I’d hate to become on of those guys who rub their feet in pain. Her chair reminds me of the once gay place where all of us would lie, I pray to the slender to be safe, or one sneeze and they will fly, O…fat aunt of mine
II. BEST HOTEL IN PURNIA - SEAGULLS (Purnia is a town in Bihar) WARNING: Indecent Lyrics. Parental Guidance NOT Allowed.
On a system in i-way Lusty thoughts in my head, Warm memories of last night, That I had in the bed. Right ahead after sign-in I opened the hotel’s site, The fee was heavy and my wallet thin, I had to ask her at night. There she stood in the doorway, And I thought I should tell, But when the gown slipped of her thighs I thought, Money can go to hell. Then I sold off my sandals and my mother’s tray, I called up Sheraton again and I heard him say,
Welcome to the best hotel in Purnia, Such a lovely place, Such a homely place, Even liked by gays. Plenty of couples in the best hotel in Purnia, Any time of the year, Any time of the year, You can find them here…..
My mind was knotted and twisted, Nothing was making sense, They have a lot of ugly little cars, Which they call Zens, What they write in the brochure, Will make Eliot sweat, Some lines to remember, No lines to forget. So I called up the station, Please let me bring wine, They said There’ll be no problem as long as you label it brine. And so we booked the tickets and chugged away, She woke me up in the middle of the night just to hear me swear that,
We will have a rollicking time in Purnia, Will be a lovely place Will be a homely place We’ll get plenty of space, We will sleep in the best hotel in Purnia, All through the night, All through the day, What else can I say………..
Big holes in the ceiling Paan stains on all sides, We were all just prisoners here, Outnumbered by mice. And in the master’s chamber, I shouted at the chief, Tried to use my steely voice but I couldn’t even shake a leaf. Last thing I remember I was looking for the board, I had to find the real name but stopped when he drew the sword. Relax; said the big man, we are programmed to deceive, You can shout as much as you like but you can never shriek.
The movie’s opening line: “When you are in trouble, close your eyes and think of your parents. The problem will vanish”- and lo! Hrithik belts the ball for six. Karan Johar seems to have idolized Shahid Afridi and assumed the pinch hitter thinks of his parents when he closes his eyes before every shot. After the success of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, the ebullient Karan Johar, confident of his inability to direct rookies, applied the all-star formula to perfection. The application of the formula was perfect (c.f.: the star cast), but the formula itself was hackneyed. He won’t complain though, his supporters are many and detractors very few. Of course, with palatial bungalows, with Amitabh dancing to Shava Shava, hugging Jaya Bachchan at every given opportunity and Rani Mukherji at other times (cho chweet no!), upholding his family’s sanskaar(culture) and parampara(rituals), with Jaya Bachchan calling him pati parmeshwar, with Shahrukh Khan entering with the sound of a gale, wearing the Versace and Gucci he wears in all films (including Chalte Chalte where he is a kinda bus-driver), always playing the good boy, as ideal as PV= nRT, with Hrithik Roshan trying to act between dance sequences, and with Kareena doing what she does best- nothing (silence is golden, silence with sleaze is platinum), your movie has to be a hit. The spotting of the following flaws, according to fans, is peculiar to excessively fastidious critics: 1. Shahrukh Khan falls in love with his nanny’s daughter. OK, you cupid freaks, love is blind, but is it also wholly empty-headed? The gap in status is too stark to digest this match. To make a film of it, Karan made Amitabh drive his son away from home and SRK promptly settled in London. Why he had to complicate matters by introducing SRK as an adopted son is still a mystery to many. The rest of the film is about Hrithik’s obviously successful efforts to unite father and son. (People know that if he wasn’t supposed to return home and pose for the “All’s well that ends well” family photograph, SRK wouldn’t have signed the film). When he found no way of making Hrithik convince SRK to return to India, Karan killed Amitabh’s ailing mother- a definite way of getting SRK home. Once he’s in India, all Amitabh need do is weep and tell SRK how much he loves him. “Pita kabhi apne bete se kyun nahin keh paata ki woh usse kitna pyaar karta hai” - “Why are father’s unable to express their love for their sons”.
2. The film is 2 hours too long- thanks to that SRK’s inability to recognise his brother (Hrithik). Spare SRK a thought- the transition from a sissy, overweight, spoilt brat to a sissy, over-muscular man who does the customary ‘namaste’ to strangers and teaches the Indian National Anthem to a choir of British students, can be difficult to fathom.
3. There’s no point saying the songs were unnecessary. I guess it’s all part of the “business” of film-making.
The final word: Watch it if the entire city is burned down and only the theatre playing this is standing. Watch it if you find a free ticket inside a 100-ruppee note lying on the road. Watch it if you want to know which music director you should not have in your film (“Suraj Hua Madham” is a gem, though). Watch it to know the kind of house you cannot live in or own and finally watch it if you think I’m lying.
The rules are simple. Some words in the paragraph appear out of place because they are anagrams of the syntactically correct words. Identify and rectify such words. Each paragraph has around 10-12 of them. Though the game may seem challenging for word-game novices, regular crypto-crackers should find it a cakewalk. Please comment on this post if you want to suggest any improvements to the game (The odd praise wouldn’t be out of place). To sustain other visitors’ interest in this game, I request each visitor to not print the answer as a comment. Mail your answers to me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I shall put up the solution within 2 days.
To relieve himself of the burden of referring separately to crosswords, anagrams, rebuses, etc., the big daddy of these games in my university- the Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi- decided to subsume all word game competitions under the banner of 'Lexicomania'.
Here, I shall post some of the games I created for the maiden Lexicomania held in February,2005 in addition to the new games I make almost everyday. Hope you like it!