Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Shallow Thinking Game

Try to crack this. It's not a whodunnit; some of the words in this article lead back to a common source. Identify the source. It's GK-based; so if you don't know about the source under consideration, you can't crack it. Don't look to interpret the story- I've just built it around the words. A small hint- the first two sentences have one of these words each. A little bigger hint- think sport.
Mohan fumbled in his pocket for the spare key. He swore at his brother for not answering the bell. Was he asleep? But if he was asleep now, what was he doing at night? Did he forget to plug in the Good Knight liquidator? Or was he stranded in the snow? Something was definitely amiss. Anyway, he had had a long day and was in no mood for such deliberation.

The room was eerily dark. Surely, Ram wouldn't have forgotten to switch the light in the puja room on? Did that mean Ram left the room in broad daylight? As his hand surveyed the wall for the switch, the sound of a popping cork shattered the silence. He froze, but only momentarily, as the lights came on, followed by a deafening "Happy Birthday" from a group of at least 50 people.

He could hardly recognize the place; it was beautifully decorated with small artifacts from his eventful 24 years. It was done with such dexterity and grace, that he was sure it was Sudha's handiwork. His friends trotted to him, one by one, and handed over their gifts and greeting cards, which he stowed away to read later. He was pleasantly surprised, because he had never had a surprise birthday party prior to this.

Since Ram knew Mohan had a teleconference later that night, he decided to wrap up the party well before the allotted time. He sent the Pringles and drinks around, and watched with amusement the sight he had got used to now- Mohan sipping his vodka with 2 straws. The starters over, he asked the cook to get the minced lamb cutlets and paneer tikka.

It started slowly; Shaque looked at the lamb cutlets suspiciously after her first bite. Then Kantha asked why the taste of onions was so overpowering; wasn't this suppsoed to be a lamb cutlet? Aveek threw up, and everybody groaned- did the sucker drink more than that famously sensitive stomach could take? Shaque and Kantha followed. Nobody suspected anything fishy till Suneol -the man with a steel stomach- threw up.

Ram summoned the cook. Did he buy the lamb from the street? He said he didn't know, because he didn't go to the butcher himself. Didn't he taste the lamb while he made it? The cook shifted uncomfortably. His head was all knotted up; he didn't know what story to make up. He didn't know his best friend -ace cook B.A.W. Archie- to whom he had delegated the job, would use stale meat.

"What crap!" The cook was jolted from his excuse-making deliberations as Ram shouted. The guests were collapsing one-by-one. The remaining guests immediately boycotted the party and left the house. Ram and Mohan were busy apologizing. Once the last live guest left, they turned to the cook, who, by then, had already fled.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Movie Review- Love Aaj Kal

If we ever calculated the differential between potential and result for movies and listed them in descending order, Delhi-6 would top the list with Love Aaj Kal coming a slap-worthy second. The movie is difficult to review because during it -when we had the pleasure of hacking the movie to death in true sadakchap style, and after it –when we were abusing everybody from Imtiaz Ali to Imtiaz Ali under the unsteadying influence of Diet Coke, we couldn’t figure out what the hell was happening; not because it was Mementoistically complicated or Night-Shyamalanistically abstruse, but because it was so comprehensively pointless. And it pains me to criticize the movie, because I think Imtiaz Ali is a smart director. But unfortunately, if he addresses a gathering that has just been subjected to Love Aaj Kal, he will most certainly earn plenty of frustrated footwear.

So Jai Vardhan Singh (Saif) is this stereotypical uber-cool uber-modern clean-shaven stud whose core competencies include scorning traditions, scorning old love stories, chick-hopping, and being practical. The first 15 minutes of the movie move at a frenetic pace culminating in an amicable break-up between Saif and Deepika, who split so that they can pursue their professional dreams. In the period between their last goodbye and Deepika’s flight to India next morning, Saif meets Veer (Rishi Kapoor), a stereotypical 60s man who waxes eloquent about the virtues of sachcha pyaar and laments the logicopractical modern man who doesn’t follow his heart enough. Deepika and Saif have a truly entertaining conversation before she leaves, and then she leaves.

Now that he has nothing better to do, he hangs out with Rishi Kapoor who tells him about his innocent 60s love story. The pattern is predictable- Rishi Kapoor (who looked like a turbaned Saif in his jawaani) tells Saif about his 60s love story with this Punjabi kudi (who looks thin enough, and has expressions monotonous enough, to be considered one-dimensional); and Saif keeps interjecting with “Come on man!” and other Censor Board-approved variations of “What the fuck!”

To cut a dreadful story short, Saif and Deepika want to “move on” after their break-up. Saif finds some Swiss chick who loves Indian culture and wants to see the Taj Mahal; Deepika dates with and gets proposed to by her boss (Rahul Khanna with a size 2 clipper run over his head); Saif takes his newfound girlfriend to India and starts meeting Deepika on the sly; Deepika marries Rahul; Saif is destroyed, Deepika is distraught; Saif wastes himself by growing a beard, losing his job, and pining for Deepika; Deepika ditches Rahul because she can’t get Saif out of her head; LHS = RHS, Saif meets Deepika and they make up.

I’m sure the script must’ve been okay; it just hasn’t worked on screen. For starters, there was -273oC chemistry between Saif and Deepika; Imtiaz made the mistake of compressing their entire love story into 15 minutes; they could’ve been brother and sister for all I cared. Secondly, the songs were numerous and bad; I can’t understand why Imtiaz hires Pritam; he might as well buy the rights of some Vietnamese or Moroccan album. Thirdly, he strived too hard to show the contrast between love aaj and love kal, and used some of the most clichéd clichés you’re ever likely to hear to establish this contrast. The biggest weakness of the film, however, was the dialogues. Imtiaz Ali is a really witty writer, as he showed in Socha Na Tha and Jab We Met; but the dialogues in this movie, save the odd one here and there, were woefully vacuous.

The acting was just okay. The 60s love story track had a lovely rustic charm to it that no amount of cool-dudeness from Saif, mini-skirts from Deepika, and smooches from both could match. Saif looked a pretty authentic Sardar and I can’t believe he had to apologize to the Sikh community for the length of his beard in the movie. Rishi Kapoor was a delight to watch, and I can understand why he was such a rage in his time. In all, the movie wasn’t bad- it just didn’t work; it was too lethargic and too one-eyed in its interpretation of our generation. Go watch it with a gang of friends in a shady theatre where people don’t stare at you for making a racket, and make a racket- you’ll have fun.