Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Self-sacrificed in the name of Kurbaan

WHY did a movie which has the potential and the story to become a powerful social commentary become such a ghastly farce? Terrorism is a burning and complex topic. Why break it down to the lowest common denominator? (I suspect that it was shadow directed. Rensil D'Silva was a colleague of mine (look at the way I subtly name drop ahem. But its true for all that, I have sat across conference tables and swigged chai and biscuits with him). He is a bloody intelligent man. He has also written Rang De Basanti which was a powerful film - this one was a serious anti climax.

I think the fundamental flaw in the movie was the fact that it tried to appeal to everyone. A movie can either be a serious, real, topical and gritty movie catering to the intelligentsia - in which case, I would watch it a serious frame of mind. OR can be out an out a Hindi-film, which I can watch after suspending my disbelief. I cannot do both at the same time.

Why expect me to believe for instance, that a so-called professor (who seems to spend much more time drinking coffee and romancing than actually professing), presumably with SOME intelligence will go traipsing into dark dungeons in a place which she suspects of being dangerous. Why would anyone with half a brain DO that? Why would an otherwise supposedly bright reporter again NOT contact the cops after a message on the answering machine, and instead chose to go all swashbuckling solo ( and incidentally fall asleep on a stake out). Why are the neighbours especially the women so uni-dimensional, almost robotic–– whose only role seems to be to serve coffee while the husbands plot their nefarious deeds? (I kept on having the wall video in my head for some reason when they would file out with the coffee trays singing “We don’t need no terrorism”)

The folks behind the movie also seemed so reluctant to actually HAVE an opinion about terrorism – so rather than a story, it seems to be a composite of disjointed shots put together just giving random tidbits of information. An infomercial rather than an editorial approach to movie making as it were. And even the infomercial is quite tentative and full of backtracks, justifications and self-exculpating disclaimers. Thus, for a Muslim fundamentalist, you have the convenient counter of Muslim Liberalist. The accommodative Hindu who is not against his daughter marrying a Muslim because he is Muslim, but just because he is “different “and so on.

The acting and emoting was pedestrian and just diffused any impact the story could have. That of an ordinary woman who wakes up in a nightmare, married to a terrorist. It’s actually a plot with so much potential for taut tension - the conflict of the loyalties whether to sacrifice herself (and her yet-to-be-born-baby) for the greater good, or the greater folks for herself.
Kareena made an unqualified hash of it – NOWHERE does she appear torn, or conflicted or vulnerable or anything except whiny (All those dialogues about “So, after all, you were just USING me?”. Woman, the fellow is cheerfully contemplating mass terrorism. It is not about you, get a grip yes?). Saif again, was disappointingly bland – I didn’t find him particularly scary, ominous, dark, intense or “pathar eyed” (As Kirron Kher would say).

That famous love scene was such a complete yawn-fest. The camera panning up and down backs – so what?

The movie had some moments of inadvertent hilarity though. That breathtakingly insightful comment of Riyaz as he steps off the plane “Iraq is a mess”. This beautifully pithy and understated profundity had us all rolling in the aisles. Kirron Kher’s extraordinary Afghan- accent which brought to mind the atrociously bad Kabul Express.

All and all, the movie leaves one feeling rather cheated - that something that could be so powerful and moving, just ended up being such a damp squib.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The goose and the gander

Let me illustrate by an example. Say a goose and a gander, try on a pair of jeans that don’t fit. This is sequence of events thereafter.

1. Starts minor hyperventilation
2. Tries to squeeze into jeans by contorting the body into weird shapes and not breathing
3. Examines the jeans to see if they have mysteriously shrunk and heaves a sigh of relief thinking they have indeed shrunk.
4. Tries on another pair of jeans just to prove the hypothesis
5. Finds out that the other jeans are no more accommodating than the first pair (pun unintended)
6. Minor hyperventilation progresses into medium sized hyperventilation
7. Goes through a mental checklist of what has been eaten in the previous two hours, wonders about water retention, salt intake, pms and other cheerful things
8. Tentatively (after wearing the lightest possible clothes in the wardrobe) climbs onto a weighing machine
9. Does an acrobatic back-flip in horror
10.Medium hyperventilation progresses to major hyperventilation
11.Calls best friends (2nos) and tearfully asks whether “Have I been looking fat these days?”
12.Hangs up after not believing them and sits in a corner brooding for the half hour
13.Goes through a check list of all meals and lack of exercise in the last three weeks
14.Curses Diwali, festivals and everything fattening
15.Kicks the offending jeans a couple of times
16.Make plans for drastic starvation and salad diet w/o sugar, oil, salt or anything edible in it
17.Curses genes
18. Make plans for rigorous exercise schedule
19. Make an excel sheet for diet and exercise tracking
20. Wallows in self pity

1. Waves the offending jeans at whoever is present and blandly and unconcernedly says “I need to get rid of all these jeans that don’t fit, they are cluttering up my cupboard”

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sachin on a song

Dear Sachin,

I started watching cricket in 1991 or thereabouts - the buzz was around this fresh faced, young boy - a few years older than me, but certainly a contemporary, who was already been touted as the "One to watch".

And for almost twenty years, the world has watched - poetry in motion, the cricketing God, the one-only-next to Bradman - the praises have been so many and yet, none enough to describe who you are and what you mean to the ordinary joe or jane in the street.

You have stood for hope, when the country had nothing much to look forward to. You have stood for purity and what is right and pristine in a chaotic time. You have stood for passion in a country starved for heroes. You have stood for perfection in an imperfect world.

I have felt so many emotions watching you over the years - heady exhiliration at a sweetly timed cover drive, I have wept tears of joy when you led India to yet another victory, heartbreak and anguish when you were caught behind, and vitriolic anger against the umpire who dared give you a dodgy lbw, the odd vicarious brag ("Oh Sachin's house is right next to my college in Bandra"). But I have never felt the exasperation which say a Dravid used to occasionally elicit ( though I am a big fan of his as well) and never, ever disappointment.

Yesterday, watching you yet again, on a song, I felt another emotion - privilege - that I was born in the same generation as you and that I could actually watch you through all these years as a contemporary. That my growing years coincided with yours - and therefore, I could watch it with the same intense passion with which you played ( unlike the detachment I feel when I see the cricketers today) . And privilege that I have indeed witnessed genius.

When you are on , the world stops to watch.

P.S. Very gushy,incoherent post aiyo. *Blush*. But got very senti last night.Pliss excuse

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Love of Books, and Books of Love

The big problem with being a bibliophile is that one needs regular shots of books to keep sane. The bigger problem of being a bibliophile is that the only way to get these regular shots is to buy the dratted books. Nice, neat solution you say? Not if you are almost permanently broke and especially not if you live in a house where it is almost impossible to walk for five minutes without tripping over books (I really don’t know why though. I think the books have little baby books in the nights. We can’t possibly have brought so many).

So what does one do? One trawls the area and joins the only library which seems to exist in the city. And so have I.

Now this library (and I use the term euphemistically) has been started by one fellow K. It is about the size of a large walk-in-closet and is bursting at the seams with M&B’s, Archies, Joan Collins and not much else. So I have been wading through this not-much-else’s of his (I had taken a diksha that I shalt not read MB’s when I was 14have stuck to it so far).

K unfortunately labours under the illusion that he understands his clients. Thus, every unsuspecting borrower is ambushed with what he thinks are great recommendations and he gets quite offended if one doesn’t borrow the said book. I tried his suggestions a couple of times – fairly innocuous sounding titles and synopsis. And then I found books rampant with “six foot of virile masculinity and rippling abs with ( or without) tight Armani T-shirts” and “women who had sweat drenched shirts tucked in and open to show delectable mounds of bronzed flesh” which has endangered a severe mistrust of his must-reads. (Yes K, there ARE females in the universe who don’t like books of lovin’ particularly. Interesting sidebar, noticed how male porn is always visual and femme porn is always verbal?).

Now having gone through most of the readable books, and quite a few unreadable ones, I find myself having to confront variations of these soft-porn and romantic thingummies.

M&B of course I have vowed not to read. Other books in the genre which I have picked up over the years in book-drought times have been along the following lines.
Danielle Steeles – read some of her stuff in my teens and came to the conclusion that all her books followed the following construct
1.A misunderstood and difficult childhood wali heroine
2.With a name which was usually Alexandra ( Alex for short) ( sometimes for variation the hero was called Alex)
3.The heroine lost her virginity at age 19
4.She went through 3 men – 2 of them who died in tragic and heartrending fashion and left the poor heroine destitute and/or pregnant and/or completely alone
5.Tears and crying in approximately 76.31% of the pages

Nicholas Sparks’s appears to the male equivalent of DS. Only with more muscular hero who dies in the end – the hero can either be a fireman or a cop or a recluse living on an island. The tough masculinity belied by the tender-easily-broken heart just aching to love and be loved.

Then there was one female called Judith McNought – who apparently tried to write historical stuff. But then her heroes had names like ‘Wolf’ and ‘Fox ‘or ‘Raven’ (NEVER ‘Crow’) who ravish women and then fall in love with the “innocence shining out of their eyes” (and also the voluptuousness shining out of their bodies), but they tie themselves into guilt-ridden knots since they have raped the said women.

The woman of course, has this rather conflicted view of wolf. On the one hand, she is horny as hell and wants to be er...taken again. On the other hand, the woman is passionately in love with the misunderstood poor-little-rich-boy-ignored-by-his-parents-in-childhood-and-hence-turned-into-ravager and wants to reform him. But then she also mistrusts him because he has the power to “shatter her heart into a million splinters”. And then all ends happily ever after.

Frankly, I think most females would have a strong distaste for anyone who rapes them – even assuming the said rapist is an Adonis look-alike. But maybe, that’s just my point of view.

The BEST plot however goes as follows (I had read this a dozen years ago and I still remember it.) I cannot for the life of me recall the name of the book or the author though. The story went something like this.

Starts with a suicide of a rich, successful, handsome (blah, blah) man. No one knows why this fellow should commit suicide since he is on the verge of a marriage with a girl of his dreams who happens to be also twenty years younger than him. So she (or someone else) starts investigating into the death.

Flashback time
1.Rich farmer A rapes next door neighbour’s fifteen or sixteen year old daughter B
2.B gets pregnant.
3.B’s parents coerce A to get hitched to B.
4.A and B get hitched, have a baby son C
5.Three four years of misery for B pass, while A continues to plant his seeds in the neighbouring lands.
6.B decides enough is enough and takes off into the sunset leaving A and C behind. End of B
7.Fifteen years later, C is hotness personified.
8.C goes to the Riviera or somewhere, and has a steamy affair with a Mrs. Robinson – let’s call her D. D is also married to rich fellow E.
9.Affair ends, D and E fade into the background
10.Twenty years further on, C falls in REAL love with F. They romance, they slow dance and they prance.
11.And then C commits suicide.
13.Because he finds out that a) Mrs Robinson (aka D) was actually B- his mother.
14.And he also finds out that from that torrid affair of his, this D/B/Mother had conceived a child – who, hold your breath turns out to be F the same person he has been having a romance with which of course involves sharing the conjugal bed.
15.F is essentially C’s child, conceived with C’s mother.

Do you feel like throwing up now? I did.

After that I have a mortal fear of picking up any such books.

Sigh. I need a new library.