Sunday, June 30, 2002

WRFG and a jam session

Mrs. Pandit suddenly remembered that Anand Bakshi was no longer with us. This had dire consequences for the R. D. Burman tribute I had hoped to have on the show. I still managed to mention his 63rd birth anniversary on the air with a few more facts, especially in the context of Anand Bakshi. I also got in two RDB/Anand Bakshi songs, both from the 1971 film Amar Prem (for which both R.D. Burman and Bakshi deserved awards, but got nothing!). Each track was preceded by a sound byte: Ustad Amjad Ali Khan introduced Chingari koi bhadke (arguably the best words to emerge from Bakshi's pen) and Pancham himself introduced Raina beeti jaaye. I also managed to squeeze in the Dil Padosi Hai take on Shaam se aankh mein nami si hai (which Gulzar got Jagjit to redo in Marasim). That was all the RDB you got on Sunday. Maybe July will be a lucky month. {last week}

The stinking weather didn't help matters and the only consoling thing about the rest of the day was the first jam session I've had: with Vinay and Vijay. An acoustic guitar and an electric Epiphone with an effects pedal and amp and a passable synth. The hightlight of the evening would be our funk/blues/jazz-laden take on the Anand-Milind ditty from QSQT, Papa kehte hain.

The evening was devoted to more listens to Rama O Rama and Dil ka Darwaza Khol De/Asha sings for R. D. Burman (Tape/T-series).

Saturday, June 29, 2002

Library, a movie and some music?

First off, the weather of the day stinks -- hot and sultry ... being wet in sweat is the pits. And my body's willingness to switch to porcine sweat mode with ease doesn't help matters much. Nevertheless, the library trip was rather rewarding.


The sleaze merchants : adventures in exploitation filmmaking/John McCarty

Careers as a disc jockey/Chris Weigant

What it is, what it was! : the black film explosion

Get Shorty/Elmore Leonard



The movie for the weekend was Minority Report. And a free small popcorn to boot (AMC member perks). I must say the film was rather satisfying. The end, as with Spielberg's recent cerebral ventures, suffers from his populist filmmaking foundations in being a tad sappy and optimistically defeatist. The effects are great and less plastic than Mr Lucas's circus film.

There are the evident touches of a Dick universe:

Commissioner Anderton's substance deals with the blind peddler on the street

the spiders as a technological innovation for policing set against the unkempt, tardy, weather-beaten apartment complex that Anderton hides in

nice little lines in the film (Agatha: I'm tired of the future)

the retina scan that shatters all notions of privacy (even customizing fluid ads for the person in question)

The ordinariness and emptiness of useful inventions like the precog vision analysis consoles, the vid-screen at home where Anderton uses home videos (stored against on transparent media) in a modified 3D perspective to assuage his grief at the loss of his son Sean. Spielberg even emphasises the void that these devices fail to fill, as he adopts a side view of Anderton's interaction with the image of his wife Lara.

Even the PreCrime transport ships are nicely contrasted against the tranquil everyday images of life in D. C. In fact, they seem almost completely out of place against the seemingly unchanged landscape of the city with all its green and grime.

The analysis of precog visions also reminds me of some of the videos we saw in the HCI classes. The dystopia of the future is not uniform, however, and some of the gadgetry actually gives it an optimistic upbeat note. But kudos to Mr. Spielberg for restraining the irritating star charm of Mr. Cruise for most of the film. I was only drawn to the starry wart when he began to emote and lend voice and emotion to dialogue in the exchange at Dr. Hineman's greenhouse. There are several odes to Stanley Kubrick, who has become Spielberg's posthumous muse: Anderton studying the precog visions for clues to the background of classical music, the motif of the eyes (which also recalls Blade Runner) and the operation that clearly quotes A Clockword Orange. In fact, Max von Sydow's character is [Lamar] Burgess, perhaps another affectionate reference to Orange's writer Anthony Burgess. Naming the precogs after famous creators of classic literary sleuths was also a cute idea: Dashiel [Hammett], Arthur [Conan Doyle] and Agatha [Christie]. Baz Luhrmann had tampered with the 20th Century Fox Logo to match the period of Moulin Rouge.
Spielberg does another take here: the Fox and Dreamworks logos are submerged ... to match with Agatha whose vision opens the film.

Ad spots: Kawasaki (at the plant that Anderton struggles to evade capture -- echoes of the sequence in the clowns movie), Lexus (the improved model that Anderton is 'fused' with as he escapes), Gap, Revo, Pepsi, Hydroplant, Ben & Jerry's, Geico Direct, Aquafin, USA Today, Reebok {more} {and more}


Temporal incongruity: The date for voting for/against PreCrime is advertised as Tuesday, April 22, 2054. April 22, 2054 would be a Wednesday not a Tuesday. {check it out}

Anderton handles two cases in the course of the film: The opening has him handling case 1108. Case 1109 is the one that implicates him as the perpetrator of a murder. However, when he is studying the precog visions on the transparent screen, you can see the case number indicated as 1108 (probably an artifact of the cut-copy-paste evil).

After his operation, John Anderton is instructed not to take off his bandages until time's up, or he will go blind. With time still to go, a spider lifts his bandage to scan an eyeball. This means, that Anderton would be blind in one eye (thus seemingly echoing the statement of the blind pusher: in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King). Yet this does not happen. Dangling plot thread anyone?

Vanilla Sky peeks: Cruise's director for Vanilla Sky, Cameron Crowe and co-star href=",+Cameron">Cameron Diaz cameo as people who notice Anderton in the metro over a dynamic edition of USA Today. And on that note, Stanley Kauffmann's review. {Sight and Sound}

After the film, we visited Borders. Thanks to the film, there's a resurgence of interest in Dick's work leading to a row devoted to Dick as well as specially packaged editions of the short story that inspired the film. I read the short story at the store and the differences can fill a novella. The central dilemma remains the same, but the crimes, the precogs, the perpertrators and Anderton's age are different enough. The good thing about adapting a short story is that there is so much you can add to the narrative to provide the audience with context (Total Recall did just that, adding hip and humour to an interesting Dick narrative, but diluting its dystopia). Overall, Spielberg has taken Dick's short story and made it his own, which apart from the end, is a commendable effort.

I gave in to consumerism as I purchased The Blues Years, a British import featuring tracks from the Yardbirds, the Immediate All-Stars, and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. {more about this album from}

One of the CDs I sampled at the listening ports was Their Greatest Hits: The Record, a two-disc compilation of Bee Gees hits. The first track off Disc One, New York Mining Disaster 1941, had The Beatles written all over it with the singing and the instrumentation. Interesting indeed.

Friday, June 28, 2002

Friday night blues

So Renu and Neeraj called me up with suggestions for songs that could go on the planned R D Burman tribute plug on Sunday at the radio show. The rest of the evening was mundane, sans movies or music.
More Pancham

As it turns out, Aditya, taking pity on my Pancham obsession I guess, listened to R. D. Burman yesterday as well.

Panchamrit volume 4 (1985-1994) is out, for those interested in a nutshell of how terrible it was for R. D. Burman in the final phase of his short-lived career.

Renu and I have discovered an interesting way to talk about R. D. Burman's music online: we play the same CD and discuss our thoughts as the songs play. Of course, this is good only when you have something else running in the background that doesn't require your attention -- it's also an easy way to get to do no work at all. Luckily this was not the case. I opened the last of the CDs I had bought about two weeks ago: Parwana/Bandhe Haath (EMI/CDF 120262 AAD). Parwana is a 1971 film with music by Madan Mohan, the only Amitabh Bachchan starrer to feature music by Madan Mohan and till the recent Aankhen, was also his only turn in a negative role.
Bandhe Haath, a 1972 O. P. Ralhan production, on the other hand, has music by R. D. Burman and was the only film that featured Mumtaz opposite Amitabh Bachchan. A very competent and fresh score for a film that plummeted at the box office (destroying a possibility of seeing Mumtaz in Zanjeer), the landmark here is the cabaret-boat song O Maajhi, whose genre-bending has to be heard to be believed. We also discussed Hare Rama Hare Krishna/Heera Panna and then returned the the gift CD to close the day.

The Ox is no more

John Entwistle, bassist for the legendary British rock group The Who, died in a Las Vegas hotel yesterday at the age of 57. {bbc news}

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Musical evening

Today has been a great day. In the evening, I managed to meet a few more R. D. Burman fans online: Shashi Rao, Subhash Chandra and there was a long fervent discussion of his music, especially "Tum bhi meri jaan" from Salaam Memsaab.

Thanks to an old boombox lying around in the lab that I could borrow for an evening, and the patience and kindness of Harish, we had another evening of Pancham's music, to the background of heavy rains outside. The music comprised: Amit Kumar's impassioned rendition of the title song of Rama O Rama, the gift CD from Renu, the second CD from Tumse Milke (the best RD compilation to come out from HMV in a long while) and a much-played tape of Rocky (which made so much more sense, since we had recently endured the torture of Na Tum Jaano Na Hum).

To top it all, I managed to finally corner and exterminate a resident roach in the house (yes, student housing is a roach-favourite and the rains didn't help matters).

Happy Birthday Pancham

Today marks the birth anniversary of the late Rahul Dev Burman (affectionately referred to as 'Pancham'). Were he still with us, he would have turned 63. He passed away on January 04, 1994, leaving us his swan song 1942: A Love Story. What with the compilation coming in yesterday, and the interesting music session later, it seems to be a good day to listen to his music and remember him for the genius he was.

Related links:

The Rare Pancham (Dr. Rajiv Vijaykar on rediff)

R D Burman would've been 62 today (Subhash K. Jha for the Times of India) Well, actually Mr. Jha, he would have been 63.

More on short links

I discovered MakeAShorterLink last month. Tara Calishain discovers a few more URL-shortening services in this week's issue of ResearchBuzz.

The first one is, which makes postable tiny urls. The second is (whose interface uses a favourite colour scheme of mine). It appears that will give me both the short URL and a password for the short URL (and a URL with the password included to access the short URL stats directly.) Stats include the date the URL was created and the number of hits it has generated. Sounds like something that generate some interesting data for newspapers who would love to know what people are reading. Definitely something they would consider charging for.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Music for the evening

So Vijay was kind enough to drive me over to Sona Imports so I could return a defective copy of Do Chor/Samadhi/Krodhi (EMI/CDF 120230). There's a strange disturbance right when Kishore finishes singing the sthaayi of Kaali Palak Teri Gori. They were nice enough to give me a free replacement with another CD of my choice and I chose Kaala Sona/Chandi Sona (EMI/CDF 120284). In the latter RDB famously samples the opening bass guitar from Pink Floyd's One of these days. There's even a keyboard run that seems reminiscent of the VCS3 run in On the Run from Dark Side of the Moon. We drove back and traffic got us a little late for the fingerpicking guitar lesson for the evening.

We settled down in my lab for another evening of music {ref: the first time}. Here's what we listened to (NOTE: all Hindi songs, unless otherwise mentioned, are R D Burman compositions;)

* Get Up (I Feel like being a) Sex machine Part I/James Brown [off 20 All Time Greatest Hits, a kind loan from Sam]

* The Crunge/Led Zeppelin [off Houses of the Holy] -- the affectionate James Brown sendup in 9/8

* The Rain Song/Led Zeppelin [off: Houses of the Holy]

* Romance from Lieutenant Kijé by Sergei Prokofiev

* Kishore singing Kaahe apnon ke kaam nahi aaye from Raampur ka Lakshman, inspired by the piece above

* Gum hai kisi ke pyar mein from Raampur ka Lakshman

* Blue Moon by The Marcels from Doo Wop Classics

* Little Darlin' by The Diamonds from Doo Wop Classics

* Gori ho kali ho from Biwi O Biwi (which Laxmikant Pyarelal ripped off for Gori ka saajan in Aakhree Raasta)

* Meri nazar hai tujhpe from The Burning Train (who can resist a wide-eyed look when the mridangam comes in for the first time?)

* Kisi ke waade pe from The Burning Train

* Kabul se aaya hai from Palay Khan (the opening sax solo precedes all of Rahman's work with Kadri Gopalnath; and yes, unmistakable shades of Pink Floyd again)

* Rama O Rama from Rama O Rama, the first song that Amit Kumar recorded after Kishore Kumar's death (and this fact makes the song, the lyrics and his passionate performance a little eerie)

* Clara Rockmore performing Rachmaninov's Vocalise from The Art of the Theremin

* Jhoothe Tere Nain from Dil Padosi Hai (who can forget that 17-matra tabla pattern?. This had Vijay going wow all over)

* Mano mano ya na mano from Zameen Aasmaan (that electric guitar opening)

* Maar dalega dard-e-jigar from Pati Patni (the first Hindi film song to use the bossa nova)

* Kisne dekha hai kal from Heeralal Pannalal

* Deewaron ke jungle, the rejected song from Deewar (the tune rematerialized as Hum aur tum the saathi in Humaare Tumhaare, a pale lifeless Khatta Meetha

A condolence compilation as aural panacea

Renu Deshmukh (neé Thamma) compiled a CD of Pancham rarities last week and I just got it in the mail. It's become the perfect condolence gift for my recent mishap. It spans a few recording companies, and is just a pacifier till I acquire the rare but legitimate releases. It's the great compilation that will never be released by any recording company.

1 Dil pukaare (Jeeva)

2 Yeh tanhaiyaan (Takkar)

3 Kabul se aaya hai (Palay Khan)

4 Tum bhi meri jaan (Salaam Memsaab)

5 Ye silsila (Zehreela Insaan)

6 Jiya mein toofan (Kehtey Hain Mujkho Raja)

7 Maar dalega dard-e-jigar (Pati Patni)

8 Chori chori chupke chupke (Bullet)

9 Bullet bullet bullet (Bullet)

10 Mano mano ya na mano (Zameen Aasmaan)

11 Dekho idhar jano jigar (Boxer)

12 Kis ne dekha hai kal (Heeralal Pannalal)

13 Raat banoon main (Mangalsutra)

14 Deewaron ke jungle (Deewar)
American Rap samples Bollywood Rarity

An interesting thread on rmim drew my attention to Truth Hurts, another urban vocalist aided by Dr. Dre. The song is Addictive (that's the name of the song, mind you. Can't say too much about the song itself, since I haven't heard it yet) off the album Truthfully Speaking (more word play here my friends!). The song samples a forgotten Lata mujra Kaliyon ka chaman from a forgettable/forgotten film called Jyoti with lyrics by Anand Bakshi. The on-screen mujréwali is the mujra regular Aruna Irani and the gent being seduced is B-movie regular Vijayendra Ghatge. Wow! As a compliment to the original itself, the AMG review says The single "Addictive" is bizarre, with an Indian filmi vocal sample sounding stronger than Truth Hurts herself.

Related: Melody of errors by Narendra Kusnur {added: August 22, 2002}
Raampur Ka Lakshman/Kal Aaj Aur Kal

It's CDF 120251 from EMI. Both are Randhir Kapoor starrers, the former scored by R D Burman and the latter by Shanker Jaikishen (being an R K production).
Worldcom goes public on fraud

So Worldcom finally went public, admitting fraud. Of course, this is only accounting fraud. It would be hard to hear a confession from them about swindling endless subscribers {bbc news item} {source: Chris}
Cat's in the Kettle

Was listening to the new mix 105.7 FM again today morning and by special request they played a parody of Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" (covered famously by Ugly Kid Joe). Here are the rather hilarious lyrics to the song. The voice on the radio was definitely not Weird Al.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002


Music for the evening has been tape 1 from the Asha Sings for R D Burman Golden Collection. You can find the listing on an old RMIM post. The songs that betray RDB's propensity for interesting rhythm are: "do pal jo teri aaNkhoN se"/Baharon Ke Sapne, "mera naam hai Shabnam"/Kati Patang (which has a nice form to the song itself), "o yaara yaara"/Samadhi (wish I knew what Majrooh was trying to say in the first line).
Acronym games on radio

The new mix 105.7 FM station had a call-in acronym game, asking callers to make up hilarious expansions for coporate names. I remember a few: Delta became Don't Expect Luggage to Arrive, and Toyota became Tow Or Yank On The Animal (pulling the car). Someone called in too late for the prizes (but got one anyway for the hilarious entry) with Budweiser, which became Because You Deserve What Every Individual Should Enjoy Regularly.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Music for the day

Pyar ka Mousum (1969)/ Baharon ke Sapne (1967) (EMI/CDF 120167). Both Nasir Husain Films with music by R. D. Burman and lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri. An excellent buy to sample RDB's early work that was a good mix of rhythm and strong melody. The only unfortunate part is that the source for the first film seems to have been really bad -- crackles abound. This is strange, considering that the latter came before the former (in more ways than one I must say ;).
Use Winamp plugins with xmms

Another application of WINE: xms-winamp which gets Winamp visualization plugins to work with XMMS {source: slashdot}.
Burn images along with data
Yamaha has shipped a new CD burner that can write images directly on the substrate, using unoccupied sectors. You can burn graphics onto CD-R's unused area after data writing. Wonder if I would want to spend some of that valuable space...{source: slashdot}
Most watched blogs

Jim Winstead Jr. maintains a directory of recent happenings (new blogs, tools) in the blogging world. One interesting page is the list of the 20 most-watched (or linked-to) blogs. {courtesy: Chris}
A nice little move from eBay: Health Insurance for auctioneers
EBay Inc. plans to offer health insurance to merchants who auction items on its popular site, a decision that may go a long way in keeping its smaller sellers content. {nytimes}

Sunday, June 23, 2002


Yet another day on Music from India {last visit}. This time around, I met the other group that hosts the programme: Jagan Bhargave (incidentally a Tech graduate from the 60s and another person with a connection to Pune), his wife Suman Bhargave, their frequent guest Radhika (who happens to be from UGA Athens), their guest for the day Reena Ronvellvala, and Salim (who hosted the opening classical music segment). I was on the air for the first time today -- as a guest on the show. The section I contributed to was, as always, "Down memory lane". The relevant RD Burman selections were:

* Rasta Dekhe Tera from Humshakal, complete with trivia on the resemblance to the opening guitar notes of In My Life by The Beatles

* Aise Na Mujhe Tum Dekho from Darling Darling

Since yesterday, I have been taking time out with origami. So far, I have a chicken, a fish, a rabbit and a turtle (today's addition). It's a very calming exercise. The evening was devoted to the regular evening mass. Dinner was a buffet at Mirch Masala after running into bad luck on two previous choices: the former Madras Café in its new avatar as a non-vegetarian-also Indian restaurant and Moti Mahal/Aangan which had now become Gokul Sweets (and was closed as well).

Music for the evening reading was tape 3 on the Asha Sings for R D Burman Golden Collection compilation which includes such rarities as Sharabi Aankhen, from Madhosh and Kisne Dekha Hai Kal from Heeralal Pannalal, both duets with RD Burman.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Cloudy sky, the library and cold noodles

Just as I was about to consume my impoverished brunch of noodles, I get news of a ride to the public library and it's an offer I cannot refuse. Cloudy skies and clammy air abound to leave me squirming in sweat. The hauls this time were mostly music.
Music for yesterday evening

Professor ki Padosan

Friday, June 21, 2002

Music for the evening

The first pick was Aa Gale Lag Jaa (one of the few R D Burman/Sahir Ludhianvi collaborations) coupled with Tere Mere Sapne (S D Burman and Neeraj). The latter had an interesting song "phur ud chala", which with its bossa nova-esque rhythm points to the contribution of son R D Burman to the recording.

The next, and final pick for the day was a double R D Burman combo: The Burning Train (another R D Burman/Sahir collaboration) and Alibaba aur 40 Chor. The former is a very strong album, that surprisingly didn't merit too much mention in retrospect although it has

* The wonderful picturisation-friendly Pal Do Pal Ka Saath Humaara set in Raag Kedar

* The deliciously variegated picturisation-friendly Meri Nazar Hai Tujhpe, a fine example of R D Burman's "everything but the kitchen sink" music: electric and acoustic guitars, sitar, tabla, mridangam, brass, drum choke.

Minority Report receives plaudits

So my fears seem to have been unfounded -- Minority Report has pleased the critics. {ebert, john powers}. When Ebert says: [Spielberg] makes "Minority Report" with the new technology; other directors seem to be trying to make their movies from it, I cannot help but think of how this positions Spielberg against fellow-technologist and buddy George Lucas and his clowns.
The Horror... The Horror

So this weekend's issue of Screen has an image from Kya Dil Ne Kaha, starring star kids Esha Deol (ref: Na Tum Jaano Na Hum) and Tusshar Kapoor (ref: Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai). This image works well for my current assumptions about the futures of Ms Deol and Mr Kapoor: Ramsay Productions. Here's the image (code created to facilitate reading. All original content is from Screen)

Music for yesterday evening

One of the tapes I uncovered at my last heist at Sona Imports: Tezaab/Rama O Rama (T-Series). The first side was the hit LP score for 1988 with the cult favourite Ek Do Teen. The second side was Rama O Rama (from the Mirza Brothers who as with other films like Yaara Dildara [the break for RD-inspired Jatin-Lalit] and Salaami made sure they had good music but forgot about the films themselves) the forgotten RD Burman masterpiece of songs wasted on non-actors of the like of Asif Sheikh and Kimi Katkar.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Music for the day

The CDs were Chhupa Rustam/Shareef Budmaash/Warrant and Amit Kumar sings for R D Burman (SFCD 1/594). Another glorious T-series compilation. More on that when I get some breathing space.

I now have The Future of Ideas by Lawrence Lessig and Emergence by Steve Johnson. Interesting books that I must read.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Music for the day

The CD is Chhote Nawab/Bhoot Bungla (CDF 120206) from EMI -- being R D Burman's official #1 and #2 film scores, chronologically.

Chhote Nawab includes the dulcent Lata solo in Raag Maalgunji Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye. The sthaayi of Churake dil ban rahe ho from Chhote Nawab (1961) presages Kabhi Kabhi Aisa Bhi To Waris (1961).

Study finds Web of deceit on mental tests: This is a great article by Ellen Barry. Things don't get more interestingly weird. The seventh Rorschach inkblot is supposed to reveal how you feel about your mother {source: Chris}
Forseeing the future: The legacy of Vannevar Bush is a great article by Erin Malone that revisits Bush's seminal article As We May Think and his memex which presaged the idea of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Great page layout too.
What your computer says about you: Psychologists say that a computer's virtual desktop can tell you as much about a person's personality as their real desktop. {source: Chris}

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Biwi O Biwi and Aakhree Raasta

So I was listening to one of the CDs I got on Sunday (to try and calm myself after yesterday's unfortunate incident): Dharam Karam/Biwi O Biwi (both Randhir Kapoor starrers with music by R D Burman) (CDF 120239). The sthaayi (chorus) "Gori Ho Kali Ho" from Biwi O Biwi (1980) forsees that from "Gori Ka Saajan" from Aakhree Raasta (1986). Wonder if there's another story behind this?

Waqt Se Pehle from Biwi O Biwi (1980) ends with the classic RK riff (also refer to the background score and the song "Jeena Yahan" from
Mera Naam Joker)

Monday, June 17, 2002

Candidate for the worst day in my life

So I returned home early for our bi-weekly laundry. Harish was waiting outside the house for me with some terrible news: we had a break-in (and yes, we do suspect someone, but that doesn't help us much). Some of Mahesh's stuff (the VCR, the DVD player, his expensive mountain bike) was taken and I now no longer have a guitar. My Alvarez is gone. We dialled 911 to report it. About 45 minutes later, with no sign of the cops, I called in again. Turns out since it was near rush hour all the cops had been deployed to handle traffic in downtown. So, they hadn't made even a despatch. They asked me to call back again for an update. 20 minutes later it was the same story. Another 20 minutes later (after I saw a few police cars -- actually it was the same car -- pass by) I called in to make sure they hadn't missed my house. My call coincided with the policeman finding us and he came in to make the report. After that, we were left to the mercy of the evening and a damaged door. To top it all, I had a phone interview and being stupidly brave I made the best of it, instead of opting out for a later date. Needless to say, I didn't exactly cut it. Moral of the story: Don't be so numbed by experiences as to appear inadequately stoic. Sleep was difficult although I turned in early, and the dreams didn't help either. Do we suspect anyone? Sure. A prospective tenant for the adjoining house who spoke to us the previous evening. But then, maybe it was coincidence. In any case, pondering over this issue will not help matters. I must thank the heavens nothing critical was stolen.

Come to think about it, the thief must have been a moron in a hurry. Apart from the obvious items, he missed a lot of stuff that one would think was worthy of a theft, yet he managed to filch a few shirts and undergarments(dirty ones at that, kept aside for laundry). At this point, I don't know if I should be laughing out loud. The loss of my guitar makes me feel like Judith Evelyn's character in The Tingler. Here's hoping the miscreants suffer from chronic itches and inflammations.

{June 18, 2002}: Ironically, the castle of soda cans I had been building on my desk was also smashed when I came in to work today.

Take Five in movies

Last week Harish and I caught Say Anything... on the tube. What caught my attention was not the performances from the dependable Johns (Mahoney, Cusack) in a rather peculiar tale, but the appearance of Take Five as one of the songs on the soundtrack. It appears (from an IMDB Search) that there are only six films that have used this jazz standard/favourite: American Pop (1981), The Conversation (1974), Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993), Mighty Aphrodite (1995), Pleasantville (1998) and of course Say Anything... (1989). I'm not very surprised to find that two entries are Woody Allen films.

AlltheWeb has a larger index than Google has a little article where AlltheWeb (owned by Norway-based Fast Search and Transfer aka FAST) is claiming to have a larger index of web pages than Google. {original source: slashdot}

Sunday, June 16, 2002

Viewing fodder for the evening

With the US Open Golf Tournament having captured Harish's attention, the only film we enjoyed was a bowdlerized version of In the Line of Fire, a great thriller with splendid performances by all especially the crusty Eastwood and the dependable Malkovich. Ennio Morricone's score never intrudes on the action and motifs accentuate the intensity of both the tense and the emotional moments of the film. We followed this up with the first episode of The Simpsons, thanks to the DVD set I got from the library yesterday.

Another day at WRFG, lunch and a haul at Sona Imports

So I was back today on the Radio Show. I got a chance to meet Mrs. Pandit's regular co-host Dr. Asha Bhomkar. Again, my avid fans and friends (titter titter) couldn't hear me online, but statements from Mrs. Pandit and gobs of trivia confirmed my presence in the studio. Needless to say, more R. D. Burman goodies made it onto the air:

* Hum Bewafa/Shalimar (this was actually her pick, from a randomly augmented copy of Kashish (why randomly augmented? well, because Shalimar is a Polygram/MIL property and Kashish is an HMV release)

* Samay Tu Dheere Dheere Chal/Karm

* Pyar Ke Mod Pe/Parinda

* Tum Bin/Pyar Ka Mausam (The selection came off the Legends compilation, which has the Kishore and Rafi versions spliced together for aural comparison)

Lunch (Mrs. Pandit's treat) was at Indian Delights, a vegetarian restaurant in the same block as Sona Imports, our next stop. Sure enough, I went nuts and got some more (a LOT more) music than my previous visits {first visit, second visit}.


* Chhote Nawab/Bhoot Bungla (HMV/CDF 120206)

* Mere Jeevan Saathi/Apna Desh (Saregama/CDF 120083)

* Chhupa Rustam/Shareef Budmaash/Warrant (EMI/CD PMLP 5805)

* Dharam Karam/Biwi O Biwi (EMI/CDF 120239)

* Amit Kumar sings for R D Burman (T-series/ SFCD 1/594)

* Hare Rama Hare Krishna/Heera Panna (Saregama/CDF 120098)

* Aa Gale Lag Jaa/Tere Mere Sapne (MIL/CDF 157)

* Pyar Ka Mousum/Baharon Ke Sapne (EMI/CDF 120167)

* The Burning Train/Alibaba aur 40 Chor (EMI/CDF 120242)

* Do Chor/Samadhi/Krodhi (EMI/CDF 120230)

* Mela/Lakhon Me Ek (EMI/CDF 120317)

* Raampur Ka Lakshman/Kal Aaj Aur Kal (EMI/CDF 120251)

* Parwana/Bandhe Haath (EMI/CDF 120262)


* Tezaab/Rama O Rama

* Songs from Anokha Rishta/Ek Naya Rishta

* Be-Lagaam/Jwala

* Professor ki Padosan

* Songs from Alag Alag and Jhooti

Happy Father's Day to my great caring loving father far far miles away in India. Wish I could be home there with you right now.

Google's logo for Father's Day

The origins of Father's Day

Saturday, June 15, 2002

Dinner and some blues

I joined Mahesh and Harish for dinner at Rocky Mountain Pizza Co. pitching in only to help them finish the strizzata. The band for the evening had an interesting lineup: lead guitar (good phaser tone and good playing too), bass guitar (had a nice bit of phased output, competent but was overloud and had more enthusiasm than timing), drum kit (good again), two congas, cabbasa, and a tambourine. They started off with "Born under a bad sign" and the songs that followed were all blues with decent jamming and we left after they took a break following a cover of Clapton's "Cocaine". Lead vocalist didn't have the searing angst for the blues, but he can clearly make his own sound for the whole affair. They also had what I thought were a smaller version of cowbells, but my guitar instructor says they could have been agogo bells. Agogo bells seem to come in a pair though, and are linked. The little bells the band had were mounted horizontally on either side of a vertical bar. Any ideas?
Movie for the afternoon

The Clowns movie. Yes, thanks to a pair of free passes that Chris had I got a chance to watch the blockbuster (arguably) of the summer. The good things: never a dull moment (although the C3PO humour bits are very uncomfortable, except for the "I'm beside myself" pun), good special effects (although some of the designs and models couldn't hide their artificial/CG origins, especially in scenes that betrayed an obvious symmetry in the replicated objects -- perpendicular and uniformly crossing lines of traffic), nice (yet potentially unsatisfying) score from the dependable John Williams (I loved the insertion of the Death Star/Darth Vader theme at the point where Anakin talks of becoming all powerful). The most obvious parallel to the second episode of the original trilogy is in the loss of the right hand:Anakin loses his right arm in the struggle with Count Dokoo while in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker loses his in a duel with his father. Why do I think John Williams is unsatisfying? Well, I don't remember the score for the original trilogy as clearly as I would like to but Williams seems to merely re-explore the original canvas (although there's a nice little theme, possibly for the two lovers, which appealed to me, but I, for the world, cannot recall its cues) here. This gives us a score that assures us of his capabilities, but does not astound us with anything new. The score is thus appropriate, but not exploratory.
Library, half a chicken vindaloo burrito and some coffee

So yesterday wasn't an exciting Friday evening. My roommates were unable to get in touch with me and made dinner plans in my absence. As a result, it was a humble Friday dinner as I watched the David Holt video on Folk Rhythms. For my bedside reading I chose to listen to an old Pink Floyd tape I had lying around: A Saucerful of Secrets.

Today boasted some really great weather after yesterday's downpour brought down temperatures. Chris took me to my routine trip to the library first.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Screen bits

In an interview for Badhai Ho Badhai, Anil Kapoor was quoted as saying Andar Bahar also catered to the children.. What'''

'Thoda sa pyar hua hai, thoda hai baki...' -- the song from Maine Dil Tujhko Diya reportedly caught up in a big way, heralding the arrival of yesteryear composer Sardar Malik's youngest son and Anu Malik's kid brother Daboo Malik on the music scene. When talking to Screen, Mr. Daboo made it clear that just because he was Anu Malik's kid brother, he wouldn't go easy on the gauche ego trip: Daboo Malik has got on to the right track and I remember, long time ago, when my brother Anu was having a sitting with Manmohan Desaiji for Ganga Jamuna Saraswati, I was present too and I just came up with this line 'Saajan mera us paar hai, Milne ko dil beqaraar hai...'. And Desaiji liked it and said that would be the song. I remember vividly a remark made by him, 'There is something in you about songs and music which is special'. I was 19 then and today, when I think about it, I feel how right he was.. The best segment, however, is:

When did you realise that you had it in you to compose'

I don't know when exactly, but its been a little while now. For me composing songs started like a sudden eruption of a volcano. All of a sudden my head was filled with tunes, which kept coming just like that. So much so that I used to carry a walkman with me wherever I went, in the bathroom, in the lift, so that I could record the tune immediately. I didn't quite understand what struck me. In six months' time I was ready with more than 400 melodies. And what spurred me further was the acceptability by the industry. If I had one sitting with a filmmaker, I would immediately get a reaction in the form of praise, or a film offer came to me. Which assured me that I was good and that I was being recommneded. The power of acceptance is immense.

A Movie in two sessions: SILSILA

The movie for yesterday evening was SILSILA, Yash Chopra's over-poetic paean to the Amitabh-Rekha affair. Since we started late we had to abort the film, although there isn't much left. This was the first time Harish was watching it at a stretch, and although the songs (most of them) are appealing, the poetry, the colour and the blatant subtelty got to him after a while. There are a lot of memorable lines in the film, but packaging chocolate nuggets in a haystack does a lot to deter the eager child.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

A New President for India

India's premier nuclear engineer Bharat Ratna Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam is slated to be the next President of India. The Congress has announced its support for this BJP candidate (proposed by Prime Minister and pop star wannabe Dr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee), which Dr. Kalam was prompt enough to acknowledge. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu appealed to the Communist parties to follow suit with a consensus. Sahid Abbas offers his opinions on the decision of the Congress. President K R Narayanan, a potential candidate (second term) had announced his decision not to contest on June 11, 2002.

Related: Presidents Past and Current
A Gadget Burns Hours of Music Onto Discs the Size of Quarters (free registration required)

Sounds interesting doesn't it? It's the new iRiver iDP-100 Player. DataPlay (the company that makes the disks) has deals to sell prerecorded discs by artists on several major labels, including Universal, EMI, BMG and Zomba. Blank discs will cost $5 (250 megabytes) to $10 (500MB); prerecorded ones will cost about as much as a regular CD. The blank DataPlay discs can also be used to store MPEG-4 files, digital photographs, games and documents in any digital format. While the iDP-100 cannot read such files, it can be used to transfer them between computers with USB connections. It is expected to go on sale in mid-July for about $350.
Database of Movie Title Screens

Shill's Video Movies Title Screens Page is a great collection of over 1700 movie title screens. Sadly, you won't find a search engine here; you have to browse the collection of screens alphabetically.But the browse is worth it.
{source: ResearchBuzz}

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Fight Club: How Yoda became an action star

Entertainment Weekly takes a look at the metamorphosis of the Frank Oz-manipulated puppet into a fully computer-generated mean little fighting machine:a Superball loose in a toy store.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Movie for the night

The rest of Deewar followed by James Whale's campy classic Bride of Frankenstein

For people interested in a comparative evaluation (based on features) of different blogging tools, here's a nice chart.
Did This Man Just Rewrite Science?: Dennis Overbye finds that "A New Kind of Science" may be the scientific publishing event of the season, but whether it is a revolution in science as well must await the judgment of Dr. Wolfram's peers. {old post}
Vangelis: the Bollywood favourite

Coming soon

Monday, June 10, 2002

evening movie: Deewar

Coming soon
On the (In)accessibility of Web Pages

In Making Web Accessible to All Sarah Horton explores the limitations of the different channels of information access supported on the WWW and talks about how difficult it is to accomodate aesthetics and users.
Warbloggers convey wrong impression of the Blogosphere

Bloggers seem to be agitated that warbloggers (bloggers who burgeoned in the aftermath of Sept 11, 2001 and focus on venting their anger at terrorist attacks) are giving Blogosphere newbies the impression that blogging is an inherently political activity. There's an evident schism now in the blogging world: the Warbloggers and the rest of the Blog World. {NY Times} (source: Chris)

Sunday, June 09, 2002

Noontime movie: The Raven

Evening movie: Agneepath

Coming soon

A spot on WRFG with Pancham

So at 0900 today morning I get a phone call from Mrs. Manorama Pandit, host of the Music from India show on WRFG 89.3 FM {more background: Radio Pancham}. She was going to be helming the show at 11 am all alone and wondered if I could help. We were both aware of the key hindrance to all this: I didn't have a car. Still, this was an opportunity I couldn't pass over. I got ready in a jiffy (well, it was a jiffy, compared to the average time I consume on a daily basis) and headed out to school to get to a computer so I could check the MARTA train and bus schedules (frequency was another concern since it was a Sunday). After figuring out the train and bus timings (yes, I could make it there, although a bit late), I called Vijay to confirm the extra fingerstyle guitar class we had (to make up for one where our instructor couldn't make it) and he offered to drive me over to the radio station. Talk about luck!

Housed inside an old school building (Moreland School) near Little Five Points, the rather modest broadcasting room was full of music: shelves to my right as I walked in and in the two shopping bags (courtesy, Mrs. Pandit) near the console. The show had already moved into the first section and the introductions happened over strains of Hindustani classical music.

The best part of the show would have been three choices of mine that got aired (including the bits of trivia I was only too glad to provide). Needless to say, they were R D Burman compositions.

* Aye Zindagi, a forgotten dirge about life by Kishore Kumar for the long-in-the-cans Hrishikesh Mukherjee-helmed murder mystery Na Mumkin

* Neend Churake Raaton Mein, a Lata-Kishore duet from the Dev Anand starrer Shareef Budmash

* Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye, the lovely Lata song in Raag Maalgunji from R. D. Burman's début as composer, Chote Nawab.

So much for my début on public radio -- and I wasn't even on the spot even once, although trivia buffs could hear me in the background, correcting her when she cited Amar Prem and Bahaaron Ke Sapne as being scored by S. D. Burman.

Saturday, June 08, 2002

Movie for the evening: HUM(1992)

The second in the Mukul Anand-Amitabh Bachchan trilogy of films that set out to redefine the sagging image of the superstar actor by getting him to mouth lines in his classic baritone in mileux that played every card in the well-worn stack of 'classic Amitabh moments'. The film has it all: the comic Amitabh, the romantic Amitabh, the drunken Amitabh, the angry (old) Amitabh ad nauseum. He won the Filmfare Award in 1992 for this role, ironically after receiving the Raj Kapoor Award for Lifetime Achievement the previous year. The film showcases Mukul Anand's adeptness at framing interesting visual compositions and his play with light, shade and colour. This venture is not as satisfying as the first film in the trilogy, Agneepath (which fetched the Big B a long-awaited ill-deserved National Award), in terms of impact, style, content, and performances. The songs in Hum are a shade more populist than those in Agneepath, which offered fewer avenues for musical relief. The USP of the soundtrack is undoubtedly Jumma Chumma De De, the Laxmikant-Pyarelal lift of Mory Kanté's Yéké Yéké. The song is choreographed and presented with enough energy to merit it superiority to Tamma Tamma from Thaanedaar, Bappi Lahiri's take on the same source. The other songs include the Mauritius jaunt (classic Bollywood escapism again) Sanam Mere Sanam and the title song that overstays its welcome by resurfacing in the most bizarre situations. The film also showcases a double role from Kader Khan. Phew! Classic lines abound:

Pet ki bhook ekta se badi cheez hoti hai (Bhaktawar) and the Girdhari-isms spouted by Anupam Kher like Shanti, shanti. Do minute shanti, uske baad kranti. The film has its moments, but fails to capture the intensity of Agneepath, a far more serious work. Both films provide the Big B with ample moments to exercise his capabilities and he doesn't disappoint. His on-screen aura is undeniable.


* In chronicling the turbulence on the Bombay docks, the film betrays the influence of the Elia Kazan classic On the Waterfront.

* Both Hum and Agneepath overlap on actors: one of them, in particular, is Deepak Shirke, who plays Pratap, first mate to Bhaktawar (Danny Denzonpa) and father of Tiger (Amitabh Bachchan) in Hum and plays Anna, one of the ill-fated four who recruit the young Vijay Dinanath Chavan who grows up (Amitabh Bachchan) to overpower and consume them, in Agneepath. In fact, according to the credits that roll at the end of the latter film say "introducing Deepak Shirke".

* The film dialogue is impeccably Kader Khan: full of rhyming bombast. For example, tank-on ki jaanch and note-on ki aanch.

* Two interesting motifs in the film (not well developed, but blatantly hurled at the viewer) the anchor (that overpowers the little figures of dock workers walking past it in the background) and the irritating title song that functions as the unifying force of the family and as a locator (especially in the final segment of the film)
* Jumma (Kimi Katkar) has become a star and is shooting a song in Ooty when she spots Tiger (Amitabh) and proceeds to burst out into Chumma Le Le, a painfully corny female perspective on the chartbuster Jumma Chumma De De) encouraging Tiger to attempt to get to her through the crowds (ostensibly to stop her from singing any further). The name of the film she is shooting for is Intezar.

* Producer Romesh Sharma cameos as the ill-fated Gonsalves.

Corny moments

* A truly inspired bit of casting: Govinda and Rajnikant are brothers (from Pratap's second wife), the latter betraying his southern accent and stretching the limits of belief. Amitabh plays the elder stepbrother (from Pratap's first wife).

* Rajnikant seems to have been chosen for two things: his cigarette stunt (see below) and the brief exchange in Kannada at the Bangalore bus station in the search for his wife (Deepa Sahi).

* Vijay (Govinda) is involved in an arm wrestling bout to win money so he can get his sister-in-law (Deepa Sahi) a pressure cooker

* At the same discotheque, Kumar (Rajnikant) does his patentable cigarette-toss-into-the-mouth act and then in a similar moment launches a coin into the jukebox adorned by the logo from Batman. This starts off the energetic Batdance off the soundtrack of the film and a bizarre disco/desinatyam/free-for-all-fist-fight sequence choreographed to it. The howlarious sequence ends at the line: "Stop the press ... who's that?" (the answer, if you follow the song, is Vicki Vale)

* In one of the little sequences in the climax, Kumar (Rajnikant) nimbly catches a clutch of dynamite hurled by one of the villainous soldiers and then proceeds to deliver the parcel back with a football kick. Needless to say, the dynamite clutch possesses enough intelligence to choose to go off the moment it hits the enemy.

* In an unexplained bit, Vijay (Govinda) goes flat on his back on the ground, allowing a tank to run over him. He is saved, of course, by the gap between the base of the tank elevated by the wheels and the ground.

Saturday hauls and an Indian evening

The public library (finally) revised its policy on VHS/DVD rentals, upping the maximum number of each from 2 to 5. Renewals over the phone are now allowed, as are recalls. Needless to say, Aranyak and I took advantage of it.

I watched the last third of Lal Salaam.

The evening was devoted to a trip to the Indian store. Harish and I availed of the public transportation here, of course. The selection of movies for the week is, thanks to Harish, an Amitabh Bachchan special. Dinner, based on temporal and spatial constraints, occurred at Queen of Sheba

Friday, June 07, 2002

Movie for the end of another working week
Recalling a failed remake and portending another one

So David Dhawan's desi remake of Analyze This, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin {not to be confused with Nasir Hussain's 1977 box office blockbuster} didn't exactly pass muster ...

And the latest piece of stinking melted fungal fudge from the Chopra cocoa plant is also hitting the box office today. It's Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi, which for alert Hindi-speaking people translates as My Best Friend's Wedding. And the film doesn't even stop there, but proceeds to rip off from other products from the same plant as well as from television. And yes, the desi twist is a gender reversal -- so it's the good old 2-guys-1-gal as opposed to the 2-girls-1-gal of the Roberts-Diaz film.

The director is a nobody called Sanjay Gadhvi who claims to have watched Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge 200 times. That would make him a stupid fan, but does that endow him with even a grain's worth of merit to become a director? Kind Chopra Uncle will help here, I guess. I shudder to think of the talented directors out there who don't have the money to make their mark. And here we have people rolling in money (white, black and all the intermediate shades) churning out stale bubblegum trash. When asked about the similarity between MBFW and MYKS he retorts: There are only seven or eight original plots in the world. Every film is just a different interpretation of these basic stories. It is just like music --- you have just eight notes, but you can compose so many tunes. . I'm too tired to laugh right now ...

Bhagat Singh showdown

So after the first of the Bhagat Singh movies bit the box office dust, the two most awaited players The Legend of Bhagat Singh (aka TLOBS) and 23 March 1931 Shaheed (aka we couldn't find a shorter title) (aka Deol-Ego-Trip aka DET) are hitting the theatres today. The expected news is in: in short, both flawed, but TLOBS triumphs. Hope the box office collections support this, unless we have another Gadar on our hands.

Related: Rahman on the music of LOBS
Musical windfall

Sam just lent me four CDs, taking pity I guess on my varied musical tastes.

I also just received two CDs from BMG yesterday and collected them today: Led Zeppelin III and Coda. That completes my Led Zeppelin albums collection, except for The Song Remains the Same (which curiously is not in the BMG catalogue). There are of course the box sets and remasters, but the only reason to get the box set is "Hey Hey What Can I Do" and some other unreleased material. I am not into bootlegs thank you. Well, not yet.

A walk to the Georgia Tech Library got me 3 more CDs.

Maine Pyar Kiya (Leg II)

Over dinner last night we watched the rest of Maine Pyar Kiya and honestly, with all its flaws, hams, corny song situations, and the generally unfinished edge, I still like the film (of course, back when it was scorching the box office, I caught it twice in the theatres: the first time, as always, as part of a walk with my father, and the second time, on my mother's insistence that she had to see this film everyone was talking about -- my folks didn't care too much about keeping up with changing film tastes). The film has it all: the characteristic S. P. Balasubramaniam vocal histrionics, appealing catchy melodies (some lifted, of course), and numerous catchlines: "kismat hai", "dosti ki hai nibhaani to padegi", "mohabbat ki hai nibhaani to padegi" -- and of course, the star of the show Handsome the pigeon (yesh!).


* Laxmikant Berde made his début in Hindi films with this film. Although he has his share of emotional lines and brings his tired grating brand of comedy from Marathi cinema to this film (it even fits in well, just like those extended schlock comic interludes in the south-studio Hindi films)

* The tagline of the film, Everybody falls in love with someone ... somehow ..., portends the taglines from the Yash Chopra camp: Come...Fall in Love (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge) and Someone, somewhere is made for you (Dil To Pagal Hai).

* The Rajshri page for the film includes links to audio clips from the English and Spanish versions of the film soundtrack. Interesting.
* Karan Johar's career mirrors Sooraj Barjatya's (débutate director of this film). Both made a splash with their first films (Mr. Johar made Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) aka K2H2). Their second films rocked box offices in the years of their release (Barjatya's Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! (1994) and Johar's Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (2001) aka K3G) {Incidentally, note the trailing ellipses in the titles}. Mr. Johar also lists Barjatya among his influences. Both films display a higher on-screen gloss and slickness than their predecessors, and MPK succeeds for the heart and does not suffer too much for the gloss. By progression of abbreviations, Johar's next film may well be KKKK or simply K4.
* One of the background motifs is a thinly disguised Raindrops keep falling on my head.
* Deepa just reminded me of another curio in the film: Several scene changes are marked by the same word ending one scene and beginning the next. One example (which also, IMHO, is a nice effect) is the scene which ends with Prem saying "Dosti mein no sorry no thank you" (aah, another immortal catchphrase) and the next scene starting with Ranjeet (the devil of the piece played by Ajit Vachani) saying "Thank you Kumar Sahab..." to Prem's father Kishen Kumar.
* The villain of the piece is called Ranjeet and his son (played by Mohnish Behl, credited with a special appearance) is named Jeevan. These could be allusions to the famous villains of Bollywood, Ranjeet and Jeevan. Ranjeet often appeared as the evil son of the evil dude essayed by Jeevan (for example, Sanam Teri Kasam). Nice reversal there.
* The two friends who drift apart thanks to the evil doings of Ranjeet and Co. (including Perveen Dastur's debut as Seema, the mildly evil vampish other woman) are Kishen (Rajiv Verma) and Karan (Alok Nath). This helps reading the film like the Mahabharat (with Ranjeet standing in as the evil mama and Jeevan as the bhaanjaa). Kishen (Jackie Shroff) and Karan (Anil Kapoor) were also the two characters in conflict in Parinda, which was edged out for the Filmfare award for Best Film by MPK.
* More mythological readings: Kishen's wife is Kaushalya (played by Rima Lagoo). Kishen (from the Mahabharat) and Lord Rama (from the Ramayan) are avataars of Lord Vishnu. In the Ramayan, Kaushalya is Lord Rama's mother.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

What is the opposite of instant messaging? is a new service that promises delayed delivery of an electronic message for up to 97 years, no matter what happens to the sender, to the e-mail account or its supplier or to the basic structure of the Internet. {source: NY Times}

In Gnat or Parasite? Angst Over Adware John Biggs explores the issues of adware, brought to light by file-sharing clients like Kazaa and Morpheus.
The Voyeur Web

Surfing From Winnie the Pooh to E-Mail Futures explores interesting web sites. This time the focus is on the voyeur web: online mechanisms and aggregated results that allow you to peek and find out what other people are asking yahoo!, searching on Google, sites most linked to by bloggers, and popular news items (this is, of course, quantitative popularity). The term voyeur web was coined by John S. Rhodes, founder of, a site devoted to Web usability issues.
EtherPEG at the ETech

At the recent O'Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference Rod Flickenger tapped the alpha geek noosphere with EtherPEG to track which Web sites participants were visiting as they listened to a panel discussion. {source: NY Times}
Google Adds Search Engine to Google Answers
If you're wondering about all those questions being asked at Google answers, now you can search 'em at {source: ResearchBuzz}

Fingerstyle guitar, NTJNH Phase III and the Wednesday Night Movie

So, my fingerstyle guitar instructor at the options classes made it yesterday evening. His car collapsed as he was on his way here last week. Fingerstyle is fun. The exercises are going to be gruelling, but thanks to some prior knowledge (if you pick up Clapton's 'Hey Hey' off Unplugged, you can get more comfortable with the exercises). I also found out that Leo Kottke is pronounced with the last 'e' long (as in 'seen'). Interesting!

I finished off the tail third of NTJNH and honestly, I didn't find it that bad. Yes, I have been spouting enough venom to kill snakes themselves, but let me explain. The last third (as with the section I caught on Tuesday) does not suffer from the problems that plagued the first major chunk of the film: bad acting, hamming competitions, epileptic spastic expressionism, terrible experimental songs ad nauseum. Thus, the lesson for Mr. Sablok is to focus on the unsaid more than the tritely said. The long tail end of the film has little dialogue (although the background music from Raju Singh, which got me thinking of Jon Bon Jovi's Blaze of Glory but had a nice vocal refrain by Abhijeet that started off like the infectious RD Burman-intoned refrain from Mere Jeevan Saathi, got to my nervese on occasions when silence or some subdued motif would have sufficed). My favourite parts (from what I remember): The destroyed moments: Rahul discovering that Akshay did not marry Esha (pronounced Ay-sha) at all (too much bad muzak and montage and some uneven shot/reverse shot sequences), anything that used slow motion (clearly 'the moment seemed like eternity' is graduating to cliché status). My really favourite aspect of the film: Kya Yehi Pyaar Hai from Rocky (one of the late great R. D. Burman's most ethereal compositions), which serves as the catalyst for the whole mail affair. The song appears in its original form for the first time on the car radio right before Rahul and Esha encounter the goons. That little musical moment completely thwarts any attempts by Mr. Ripoff Roshan to best it. Overall, cut out all the songs (or go back into the past and get the late R. D. Burman to do the score), get a good dialogue writer, quit the Chopra candy store and make an honest film. Esha could pass muster with a rhytidectomy, but someone with a more malleable less ambiguous face would help a great deal. Saif is honest, especially in the closing moments and Hrithik needs a little work (or a little chip inside him to buzz him every time he crosses the ham hilltop) and he should be fine (although a good body does not a fine actor make). Overall, I am rather surprised the film didn't flop, since it's right up the alley of most people out there, who don't seem to really care about cinema as a medium of expression. The film had all the right elements for the different markets including the largest segment, the North, (or perhaps that was an unconscious tribute to Dharam Paaji). Is this a good sign or just a lull? Wonder if the line between the classes and masses is getting uncomfortably blurred...

Related: NTJNH Phase I, NTJNH Phase II.

We also started watching Maine Pyar Kiya (which trumped Parinda for Best Film at the Filmfare Awards). Lots of terrible juvenile lines and acting. Yet, the film is reminiscent of those 70s comedies that had their heart in the right place, which would explain its success at the box office. We stopped before any of the hits songs off the ripoff-laden score by Rajshri-camp member RaamLaxman (except the title song, of course, a desi version of Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called To Say I Love You")

Parwana (1971) was the main attraction for the evening. Known for Amitabh's first negative role (yes, potential spoiler) and for the Kishore Kumar song "Simti Si Sharmaayee Si" (among other competent songs) on the only soundtrack Madan Mohan composed for an Amitabh starrer the film has some heavy dialogue and a special appearance by Shatrughan Sinha (who keeps taking off the glasses he can't bear to wear). Was this the first Shatru-Amitabh film? Navin Nischol is the leading man (another first here?) and Yogita Bali is the bone of contention of Shri Nischol (as Rajesh Singh) and Shri Bachchan (Kumar Sen).

Mahesh spent most of the film asserting that the music director was R. D. Burman for the following rather valid observations:
- The songs bore the instrumentation and orchestration whiff of the late Burman

- The predominance of Asha Bhosle

- The rather 'unpleasant' songs afforded to Mohd. Rafi

- Who else would think of using Rafi as the singing voice of the Big B?

Of course, unfortunately for him, the man behind the music was Madan Mohan (although the similarities in style are interesting). The set piece of the film is the murder that Kumar executes (well, I told you there were spoilers here...). Again, Mahesh remembers this as a lift from a foreign film, whose name he couldn't remember. Some piece of information we can wait on.


The inevitable on-screen instrument gaffe: The opening music of "Simti Si Sharmaayee Si" features the acoustic guitar. This is picturised on Navin Nischol playing (horrendously, of course) a red-black electric guitar (Unplugged too!!!)

Temporal error: Unarguably, the most memorable part of the film is the cleverly planned murder. The catalyst for Kumar's plan is an invitation card to the nuptials of Shakuntala and Vijay. The card presents the date of the wedding as Friday, 13th August, 1970. If you continue to note the dates in subsequent scenes, you will notice the error. When Kumar sits at his typewriter to type out the fake note to his victim (Ashok Verma played by Om Prakash) the wall calendar shows the date as Friday, 12 August. Later on when Shakuntala calls Asha (Yogita Bali) over you can see the wll calendar in her bedroom showing the date as Saturday, 13 August. Two against three (plus a mention of the date later in Kumar's flashback) make the correct date as Friday August 12, 1970. Now, if you calculate the day of the week for August 13, 1970 you get Thursday. Compound errors! {check online}

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Desi connection to the Clones

It would appear that I completely forgot about Ayesha Dharker being in the Clowns film. Good PR for her. The film also features Nalini Krishan (who has done bits in desi debacles like Soldier and Prem Aggan.
Apocalypse Perl

Larry Wall has been revealing the design of Perl 6 through a series of documents he refers to as the Apocalypes. The latest, Apocalypse 5, is a redesign of regular expressions. {courtesy: slashdot}

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Movie for the night

Had a sudden shower yesterday evening, which helped bring down the temperature. The pattering rain and clapping thunder outside was a perfect setting for the main attraction for the evening: Parinda.

Parinda (1989): First off, the bad things (for a change). The print seems to have come off a DVD or a VCD, and it's a BAD one. { reviews the good DVD} Whoever was responsible for this deserves the worst capital punishment known to the world -- perhaps listening to a circular spool of Shabbir Kumar's ballads, peppered with shrill overtones from Kavita Subramaniam neé Krishnamurthy.


Vidhu Vinod Chopra Q&A with

Another boost of NTJNH. First, some background on the débutante director of this chick flick in disarray -- Arjun Sablok. Yet another product of the Yash Chopra 'maudlin mushy sentimentality wrapped in oversweet candy floss and visual dressing' school -- nay camp -- of filmmaking. Alert (yawn?!) viewers of Chopra's overflawed Vijay may spot Mr. Sablok in the chaos. Mr. Sablok is also responsible for the marshy squib that passed off as the first telefilm from Yash Chopra, Humko Ishq Ne Mara {review: planet bollywood}. Although harking back to You've Got Mail (which harked forward from The Shop Around the Corner and In the Good Old Summertime), NTJNH is based on the love story of his parents (of course, any faithful reproduction of the original seed is purely a bizarre coincidence). To pick up from where we left off yesterday, Ms. Deol amazes me: I cannot for the world understand her forté. Hrithik has already informed the audience of his talents and seems to sleepwalk through most of the film (: "I gave 'Aap Mujhe Ache Lagne Lage' 200 percent�you get what you deserve, maybe I should have put in 300 percent. So now I knew I have to put in that much more for my next - 'Na Tum Jano Na Hum"). Can almost say the same thing for Saif Ali Khan, although to be fair, the improvements evident in Dil Chahta Hai are also evident here, but I wish he would try some more challenging roles (likewise, Mr. Roshan). The veterans do their bit, but Alok Nath tops again with a subdued presence. Rati Virwani neé Agnihotri is clearly overjoyed to be back on screen (second coming seen in the Kajol-centred remake of The Parent Trap, Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi (K2M2) {review: planet bollywood}; stayed on in the Ghai fiasco Yaadein) and viewers must bear her hamming all over ... Likewise, Moushmi Chatterjee and Smita Jaykar. Everyone seems to be in a hamming race.

All is not lost. Somewhere down the line the director seems to have begun to appreciate the importance of 'actions speak louder than loud actors with dumb lines' in chick flicks: The ill-fated meeting at the temple with Hrithik hoping against hope that Esha is not the one as he tries to focus on what she is holding in her right hand (the little aeroplane model he gifted her) is hampered by some enthusiastic excessive montage; the little bits of high-speed slapstick as Smita Jaykar reminisces about Akshay (Saif) and Rahul (again!!! Hrithik), which seem to come too late; Rahul giving vent to his pent-up anger as some inevitable goons make passes at Esha by doing a 180-turn and heading back for some one-sided maara maari; Esha telling Akshay that she had never agreed to marry him. And just when I was beginning to enjoy the second half of the film they throw in this dismal Sonu Nigam song (oh how I wish Rafi were still alive instead of having to suffer his clones who refuse to move out of his shadow). That was it! I could take no more. Guess the rest of it will have to wait for another day.


Jam Magazine looks at NTJNH

Rediff talks to Rati about her comeback

Flash courts biggest critic to teach Flash

Macromedia has plans to announce a partnership Monday with Jakob Nielsen and the Nielsen-Norman Group. Nielsen has been one of the most prominent critics of the company's Flash software for Web animation. Take a look at Flash: 99% Bad.
South Asian Writers Group and movie bits

The South Asian Writers Group met yesterday for the second time at Chris' place. We had some nice reading material too (all original): an article on the desire to become a good pianist, poems on solitude and love, a poem about matrimonial ads and one on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. I had my little (gauchely verbose) piece written in 1997 called Death. The reading sessions were followed by New York style pizza (half pepperoni and half veggie) from The Pizzeria nearby. If anyone out there (and local to Atlanta) is interested, sign on. We'd be glad to have you.

Back home, Mahesh and Harish had selected Lal Salaam for the night. Didn't seem too much to write home about from what I saw. No outstanding performances, including Nandita Das. Wish people would take lessons in background scoring. This film had an offensive track running throughout, destroying any claims to being gritty and realistic. Other reviewers {planet bollywood, rediff} have applauded this box office dud for its documentary quality, which I never noticed. The story is bold, but vignettes of violence and (polite) rape (really tame, considering the shocking precedent set by Bandit Queen) do not a serious film make. Character development proceeds as a viewer-initiated activity based on almost familiar on-screen events. The burgeoning bond of love meant to be split asunder, the evil side of the upholders of the law, the bombastic spiel about causes and the revolution (for some good minimalist references, check out Gulzar's flawed but bearable Maachis), and the inevitable retribution. And yes, it is worth noting that Ms. Das is slated to be the desi Kate Winslet.

I caught the first few minutes of Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (aka Pantaloon's maiden venture into film production, which implies that you will see a lot of Pantaloon in the film. Help!). Esha Deol (her debut film Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche, starring Aftab Shivdasani and Sanjay Kapoor, bombed at the box-office), the scary daughter of Bollywood star of the yesteryears Hema Malini (remember the on-screen pants and groans that predated Ms. Seles on the tennis courts by years?), trashes the screen as she proceeds (nay plods) from one randomly orchestrated burst of catatonic emotions to another. The film also features aren't-we-supposed-to-be-dead legends like Rati Agnihotri and Moushmi Chatterjee. The music, as far as I could make, is one of Rajesh Roshan's bad experiments. The interesting motif in the film is 'Kya Yahi Pyaar Hai', composed for the film Rocky (Sanjay Dutt's launch pad) by the late R D Burman. Of course, the version they use in the film is an appropriately dumbed down elevator version of the song. Even that scores over Mr. Roshan's attempts to compose music using old dusty test tubes and burettes and pipettes covered with fungus. Hrithik Roshan is a competent actor who tends to overact a bit, but clearly his range is limited to his face-splitting grin, his polished English, his skills on the dance floor and in the inevitable fight sequences (this is a general observation that carries across all his films). Saif Ali Khan does what he has always been trying to do well, play a spoilt rich brat. The film also features scantily-clad random femmes all over. Clearly a film for the family. Why was this film made? Na Tum Jaano Na Hum.

Monday, June 03, 2002

In Two Challenges for Netflix Founder Laurie Flynn profile Reed Hastings, the man behind the recently-public innovative Netflix. Turns out he's also seriously interested in improving the quality of math and science education. Nice combination. I'm backing this cool alternative to the BlockBuster chain phenomenon (which seems to earn its revenue from late fees rather than rentals).
Tamarind rice, kheema and a movie

One of the things I always missed from the Wal*Mart super store in Athens, GA was the mashed turkey tubes that I could buy and cook in a jiffy. Tasty and addictive too. Well, on my recent trip to Athens, I managed to get a few sausage tubes and proceeded to cook one yesterday. Harish joined me and cooked tamarind rice, his debut in our kitchen. Smoke and spicy fumes aside (some houses never enjoyed the benefits of an exhaust vent), dinner was great. Mahesh joined us too, still green at the new home and blue for the old.

Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar aka JJWS was the movie for the night. Yes, we had all seen it before and yes, we all wondered why the film flopped considering there was so much heart in it, competent performances and enjoyable songs (including the dulcet Pehla Nasha, innovatively choreographed by Farah Khan, who was only 17 then). RD Burman-inspired composer duo Jatin and Lalit (the last name is Pandit, but more about that in a moment) had a lot to live up to (director Mansoor Khan's previous film, his debut venture, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, was a monster hit as were the songs by composer duo Anand-Milind). They lived up to every expectation, churning out appropriate songs bearing stamps of their RD Burman influence (Shaher ki Pariyon owes a lot to "Jeena kya aji pyaar bina" from Dhan Daulat (1980)) and the occasional foreign influence (watch out The Who's Pinball Wizard in 'Yahan Ke Hum Sikandar'). There's a little motif running through the film, which sounds like Nino Rota's Speak Softly Love. Small consolation: It picked up the Filmfare Award for Best Film and one more for Mansoor Khan for Best Director. Who won that year? Deewana was the big winner, with Sameer walking away with the lyrics trophy for Aisi Deewangi, Nadeem-Shravan chalking off another Filmfare award, and Kumar Sanu walking away with the Best Male Playback Singer trophy. The only grouse: Whoever mastered the DVD botched things up with a pan-and-scan.


* The film drew inspiration from the 1979 Peter Yates film Breaking Away

* Look carefully at Sanju's (Aamir Khan) friend Maqsood/Ghoda. That's Aditya Lakhiya (who also starred with Ashutosh Gowariker in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa also scored by Jatin-Lalit and featuring Deepak Tijori), now famous as Kachra in Lagaan

* Lalit Pandit (co-composer) cameos as a bass guitarist (even playing out the opening riff) for the team from Xavier's college as they belt out Humse Hai Saara Jahan. In the same song, Jatin appears on stage/screen singing for himself.

* In his début film Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (also the directorial début of JJWS director Mansoor Khan), Aamir's character Raj is a student of Rajput College. In JJWS the rival school headed by Shekhar Malhotra (Deepak Tijori) is Rajput College

* Holding the RDB umbrella high, Jatin lends his voice to three songs, including the touching solo Roothkar humse

* Vijayeta Pandit, who joins Udit Narayan for Jawan ho Yaaron is sister to the composer-duo, as is Sulakshana Pandit (who lent her vocal talents to their other Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa). Vijayeta made her acting debut along with star son Kumar Gaurav (remember Cricketer?) in Love Story, scored by the late R D Burman.

* Amit Kumar, who belts out Naam Hai Mera Fonseca (and also lends his voice to Jatin-Lalit on Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa and Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman) was launched by R D Burman in Balika Badhu with Bade Achhe Lagte Hain (although technically he had sung a song for his father earlier in Door Ka Raahi)

* 1992 was a good year for the composer duo with Khiladi and Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (although the film made it to theatres only in 1994). If you listen closely Naam Hai Mera Fonseca you can discern traces of Khud Ko Kya Samajhti Hai from Khiladi

* Girija (hot from her success in and as Mani Ratnam's Geetanjali) cameos in Jawaan ho yaaron (apparently she was signed on and the song was filmed before she vanished to make way for Ayesha Jhulka -- this explains why Ms. Jhulka is not to be seen for this song) {thanks to Renu for this tip! -- Oct 04, 2002}

* Apart from the ones it won, JJWS also garnered Filmfare Nominations for music, lyrics (Majrooh for 'Yahan Ke Hum Sikandar') {???}, and Pooja Bedi for supporting actress. Pitiable!!

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