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}.

CDs

* 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)

Tapes

* 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.
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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
BlogComp

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.

Trivia

* 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!).

Trivia

* 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?

DelayedMail.com 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 WebWord.com, 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 http://answers.google.com. {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.

Gaffes

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. {zulm.net 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.

Related

Vidhu Vinod Chopra Q&A with zulm.net

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.

Related:

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.

Trivia

* 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!!

Sunday, June 02, 2002

Yet Another Blogger

My blogging (and an rmim post) finally convinced Manas to start blogging. Welcome to the blogosphere, Manas.
In the West End, the Accent Is Decidedly American: . With Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon joining a throng of American performers in the West End, Kenneth Lonergan and Stephen Adly Guirgis among the dramatists getting rave reviews from the London critics, and world premieres from Neil LaBute and Christopher Shinn at top addresses, what are we to call the traditional center of the British theater? A blend of Broadway-on-Thames and Tinseltown U.K., perhaps.
Aural pleasure with Led Zeppelin

Received two CDs from BMG last Wednesday: Led Zeppelin (their debut) and Houses of the Holy (finally).

Led Zeppelin: The good thing about the CD remaster is that they included the original credits as well as the revised credits on the inner sleeve (which means that Anne Bredon finally gets credit for 'Babe I'm Gonna Leave You'). The album opens with the spectacular rouser 'Good Times Bad Times' and segues to classics like 'Babe I'm Gonna Leave You', 'Dazed And Confused' and the experimental fusion of 'Black Mountain Side'.

Just opened Houses of the Holy today. A great album betraying diverse styles: from the straight rock of 'The Song Remains the Same' to the aching 'The Rain Song' backed by an ethereal mellotron arranged against a progressive rock progression to the funky affectionate James Brown send-up 'The Crunge' with cool 9/8 drumming by Bonzo and rock-reggae on "D'yer Mak'er" closing with a funky guitar groove on 'The Ocean'. This marked the first time Led Zeppelin actually had a title for an album (of course, the title track never made it on this one but was released on 'Physical Graffiti').

Saturday, June 01, 2002

Library hauls, a quirk of fate, the best burger in Atlanta, and some Universal camp

Thanks to Chris I got a ride to the public library (the heat is on!).
As luck would have it, we never made it for Nine Queens. Instead we drove to Moreland Ave and had the best burger in town (the Ghetto Burger) at Ann's Snack Bar (rated Best Burger by Creative Loafing for the last two years). Just like in the movies, we sat at the counter and placed our orders. The burgers took form before our eyes (memories of wada paav stalls in Pune...) and behold, a meatlover's feast! I was curious about the kind of people who visited this place, since it is located in a predominantly black neighbourhood. Ann was kind enough to respond with a smile when I asked how many Indians came here: "I get a few now and then. They go on the Internet and they find me... I'm on the Internet you know {I nod in agreement, because we found out about her from Creative Loafing's listings online}". Amazing... a net savvy burger maestra.

Back home, the movie for the night was The Black Cat. The film is known as the best effort to bring Boris Karloff (who is curiously credited as just Karloff) and Bela Lugosi together on screen. The plot involving an American honeymooning couple in Hungary, a Satanist, and a Doctor searching for his wife and daughter is convoluted and strange enough. The corny dialogue delivered in deadpan fashion by veterans Karloff (as Hjalmer Poelzig) and Lugosi (as Dr. Vitus Werdegast) {and not to forget Manners and Wells as the couple opening the film with some randomly hilarious lines} includes such gems as "The phone is dead. Do you hear that Vitus? Even the phone is dead". Lots of classical music used in the background and some comic relief provided by the local officials. All in all, a fun film (unless you take it too seriously) and great fodder for the Ramseys.

Jesus in the strangest of places (NOTE: Potentially offensive material)

Jesus of the Week catalogues the love of Christ in all the wrong places...vampire hunter, singing star, valentine's day chocolate and more.

Friday, May 31, 2002

Friday night, mundane night

Apart from my roommate getting a new TV set for himself for his new room (he's moving out tomorrow), the evening went off sans events. Everyone else watched the basketball game, which I was least interested in.
A moving evening, an obscure drive, dinner and an allegorical film

So my roomate (Mahesh) spent most of his evening packing his stuff while Harish spent his time moving his stuff over. Sandesh dropped over with his car to help with moving all the stuff. After achieving the goal in several trips everyone decided to drive to Denny's for dessert. The closest Denny's is located in a tricky spot off an exit and sure enough although my memory served me right for the exit, we missed the place and were soon driving on Cheshire Bridge Road (which for the unaware is known for a high density of adult entertainment avenues). Sure enough, a rather bizarre drive past stores and bars with often hilarious names (The great Sundown Cafe is also on Cheshire Bridge Road). Finally we settled on Bamboo Luau's Chinatown. The food was good although service was a little slow (which, according to the reviews) is not unusual. Back home we settled down to watch Kalyug, Shyam Benegal's flawed interpretation of the Mahabharat in the corporate world.
Did you know that Greek composers were inspired by Indian film songs of the 50s?

Well, Helen Abadzi discovers in Hindi Films of the 50s in Greece:The Latest Chapter of a Long Dialogue: Most people know that Alexander the Great conquered northwest India in 327 CE. But very few people know that India conquered the heart of Greece around 1960. Not even Indians know of this remarkable event. ... The invasion started in 1954 and took place on the screens of working-class movie houses. It was an invasion of spectacular colors, music, dances, songs, and gorgeously dressed actresses.
Netchecking and some Psychology

Chris pointed me Chad Lundgren's blog entry on Google and Psychological Reality. Chad refers to John Rhodes' post on netchecking, which essentially means checking their facts using Google or some other search engine. I liked the following section of Chad's post (before he wandered off on a merry tangent): Google does not find the most authoritative source. It finds what people believe to be the most authoritative source. It is a good meter of what people believe something to mean. This is the psychological definition of reality: someone can have an intense belief that seems to them as real as anything else, but only they see. For some things, the only physical manifestation the rest of us can see is chemical level in the person afflicted.
E3 bits

John Carmack talks to Gamespy about Doom E3 and also makes his video card recommendations. More comments on E3 can be found on ShackNews and there's some delicious audio as Wired discovers that Doom III has a story to tell.
The winner of the First Google Programming Contest is Daniel Egnor, a former Microsoft employee. More details about Daniel's winning entry and other notable entries can be found here. More information about the contest itself can be found here.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Carolyn Keene is no more

Well, actually Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson, the first writer to be commisioned as Carolyn Keene by the Startmeyer Syndicate, is no more. Didn't care much for Nancy Drew, but if you want to know more I would recommend reading The Mysterious Case of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, which, if you reside in the US, may still be found in the clearance bins of the nearest BORDERS. {source: Chris}
Obscure Apple Knowledge, Served Up In One Place

If you're into Apple nostalgia, you're in luck. Check out The Apple Museum . Here's you'll find information about Apple people, products, and code names.

This site is divided into four parts: history, products, biographies, and codenames. (The biography section isn't finished yet so we'll skip that.) The history section is a timeline, the front page of which is divided by pictures: pre-1975, 1975-1979, 1980-1989, 1990-1999, and 2000-present. The timelines get more detailed as they get more recent but even the pre-1975 page has plenty of information.

The products page will appeal to you old-timers. It's divided into several categories (personal computers, portable computers, personal digital assistants, etc.) Each category opens up with a page of introductory information and a list of products in that category. The PDA page includes the Newton, for example, and the printer page includes those old noisy Imagewriters. The software section doesn't look complete, though, and I wish some of the pictures were a little larger.

Finally, the codenames section describes all the codenames Apple products have had over the years. This section includes the story on codename BHA as well as some pretty surprising choices ("Hulk Hogan"?) The whole site will take you down memory lane even if you're not a big Mac fan. Worth
a look. {source: ResearchBuzz}


Searchable, Browsable Directory of Medical Eponyms

An eponym is "a word based on or derived from a person's name." Medical eponyms are conditions named after people. Whonamedit.com is a searchable and browsable directory of almost 5500 medical eponyms.

You can browse categories, view people by last name, or search by keyword. A search for Asperger found Hans Asperger, Asperger's Disorder, and Asperger's Syndrome. (You can also search by symptom or other keyword; a search for "thyroid" finds 35 results.) Search results include a brief description of the condition; click on the name of the condition for more extensive information including an extended description, synonyms, and bibliography. {source: ResearchBuzz}

Yet another Pancham site

Shailendra Musale, a member of the Pancham Yahoo! Group, has a little Pancham tribute site, which includes screenshots of a recent interview with Marutirao Keer, longtime assistant to the late R D Burman, by the Maharashtra Times.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Pancham fans unite...the magic of electronic communication and music conjure new friendships

So I met Renu Thamma, an RDB fan from Boston on the Yahoo! list. The thread that brought us in contact was an interesting discussion about 'Aise Na Thukrao' from Zabardast. To quote Shashi from his post:


Nasir Hussain's insistence in once again adding more commercialism to his last venture ZABARDAST led to the ignorance/cancellation of
the originally composed song 'Suno Sitamgar'. Not finding it commercial enough, Nasir preferred to picturise this song as Jaya-teases-Sunny song - an oft repeated theme of Nasir Hussain's movies. Hence Pancham was forced to re-record a hashed-up Genesis inspired 'Aise Na Thukrao' - which was too late to make it to the original soundtrack print. Hence you find this number in T-Series compilations - not in the original T-Series/Venus soundtrack.


We exchanged information and song listings for some rarities that we had each unearthed and in one of her last emails for the day, she talked about how she ordered CDs from Rhythm House and had them shipped to her home in India. She had praise for them because their online catalog seemed "to be linked real-time to their inventory" But their search engine (to quote her): "... words fail me here .. the exact same keyword on two consecutive searches will produce different results. Searching on 'burman' will not return 'Amit Kumar sings for R D Burman' but a search on 'amit' will return the same CD. The bloke (or bloke-ette) who they hired for their e-commerce site should be tied to a chair and be made to listen to Sridevi sing, IMO... Touché.
Pancham inspiration for the week

I visited the Music Listening Room (aka MLR) at the Georgia Tech Student Centre today and finally got a chance to listen to Donna Summer's I Feel Love (Her second Top 10 R&B and pop hit from 1977, also to be found on I Remember Yesterday) off the live LP Live and More. Why was I listening to this? Well, listen to that chord progression and the rhythm programming and if you are an R D Burman your ears will perk up -- Pyaar Karnewaale Pyaar Karte Hain Shaan Se from Shaan {bollybob review} {zulm.net DVD review}. One can almost picture him sitting there working on a tune for the lyrics and then hearing this song and jumping up to finish off another entertaining composition. The melody has nothing to do with the Donna Summer original, mind you. Listen to Shaan on MusicIndiaOnline and a clip from I Feel Love (track #8) off CDNOW.com.

An interesting part about Donna Summer's song is the extensive use of a flanged tone spanning the speakers/headphones, almost like the wind in an airfield. When we had performed this song for our college gathering, I had ventured using the flanger for a similar goal as an embellishment, without having ever heard the Donna Summer original (although the RDB song has generous little sprinkles of processed guitar sound throughout the song too). Delicious coincidence.
Blogosphere: the emerging Media Ecosystem: John Hiler has a great article on How Weblogs and Journalists work together to Report, Filter and Break the News (includes the Google/Church of Scientology business too). {Blogosphere defined}

And if you're interested in a map of NYC Bloggers and a distribution breakdown, check this cool site out.

Jon Udell has a lucid article on Social networking in Radiospace and his channelroll.

The New York Times reports that a problem in Carnivore fouled up an F.B.I. investigation two years ago that was apparently linked to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

They Weren't Careful What They Hoped For: Barnaby J. Feder discovers what children are learning from Internet e-mail experiments.

Vitamin Shoppe is moving into a big industrial building in North Bergen, N.J that had been leased to Webvan (now defunct) and lay unused for over two years.
Teaching début

I filled in for my guitar instructor yesterday for a few classes (two beginner level classes and one intermediate level class). Quite an interesting experience. Occasions like this present great opportunities to learn about musical tastes, influences and cultures (especially since Georgia Tech has a sizeable international student mass). I even had a left-handed guitarist in one beginner's class. Of course, since the guitar is re-strung for left-handed playing, there's not much to instruction except getting the strumming and fretting hands right. The rest of the evening was the usual day in the life of PIGS (Poor Indian Graduate Student[s]): cook dinner (eat to survive), watch some TV, read a bit and turn in.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Unicode URL Spoof

Scientific American has an interesting article about how a pair of students at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology registered "microsoft.com" with Verisign, using the Russian Cyrillic letters "c" and "o". Even though it is a completely different domain, the two display identically (the article uses the term "homograph"). The work was done for a paper in the Communications of the ACM (the paper itself is not online). The article characterizes attacks using this spoof as "scary, if not entirely probable," assuming that a hacker would have to first take over a page at another site. {slashdot} {slashdot: why Unicode won't work on the Internet}
Yet another asian cinema site

Just discovered Cineraider, which includes a little section on desi cinema too.
Film Comment on Bollywood

The May/June 2002 issue of Film Comment has gone Bollywood. Sushmita Sen adorns the cover (a little feather in her cap). The special section, guest-edited by David Chute includes Bollywood: Further Research by David Chute, an interview with Aamir Khan and Bollywood Abstracts by David Chute (which includes capsules from the articles not available online).
I2FS plug: Karthik has posted the Karz/LP find on I2FS and even referenced my post:
A pretty good (read blatant!) find for the day. Laxmikant Pyarelal's Karz theme tune (and consequently the song 'Ek haseena thi' based on that tune) happens to be a direct lift from George Benson's 'We as love' (part of his 1977 album, 'Weekend in LA', written by his keyboard player, Ronnie Foster). Thanks to George Thomas for the info. George has also posted this info in his BlogSpot [Third entry under 'Thursday, May 23, 2002]. Other relevant trivia: Karz, the movie itself was a lift from the 1975 movie 'The Reincarnation of Peter Proud'. Subash Ghai's website talks about this tune too, though, as George adds in his blogspot, they could sure do with a decent proofreader..."The signature tune on the Guitar is still one of the most haunted tunes ever composed in the history of Indian Cinema"!!!
Dinner Déjà Vu

Well, since it was Memorial Day most of our options for eating out went to nought, what with the stores closed. Eventually we ended up back at the same place as yesterday and just switched our orders. Caught a lot of reruns after dinner: Seinfeld, Friends, Just Shoot Me.

Monday, May 27, 2002

Customer Service Jokes and User Manuals

Remember all those jokes about weird complaints to customer service? The Washington Post has a hilarious article on why people don't read manuals. The simple reason: combine impatience and the time it takes to pore over manuals.
Movies on Memorial Day Eve

So Sunday evening was auspicious since the TV didn't conk off, allowing us to watch The Tingler and Sleepless in Seattle.

The Tingler lives up to every expectation I had from a William Castle film. Be it the noirish edge where everyone seems to be destined for ruin or the fairly serious face Vincent Price keeps on camera as he handles the Tingler (I recall legend that he could barely contain himself while handling the fly with David Hedison's head! He plays a scientist (again!) who discovers the hidden organism that creates fear in all of us, of course violating the ethics of scientists in the process. The reflexive moments when the Tingler actually enters the theatre are priceless. As with every Castle film, this one used a couple of theater gimmicks: Whenever blood-curdling screams occurred in the movie, hidden buzzers vibrated the seats. (This feature was called "Percepto.") Shills planted in the audience let out their own screams. The film is also supposed to be the earliest to feature an LSD trip (if you notice the title of the book that Vincent Price is reading it includes the words "lysergic acid"). The tape we had was the reissue, which meant that we could relish the brief colour sequence originally included in the film. It's grainy (being 8mm versus the fine 35mm in the rest of the film), but it includes that splendid shot of the hand reaching out of a bloody bathtub. Camp homage to Edvard Munch before the opening credits unfold. The opening notes of the score (which also form the musical motif in the film) recall Herrmann's score for Vertigo. Maybe not. This is the quintessential William Castle film. {more William Castle}

Sleepless in Seattle is everyone's favourite chick flick (it would seem!). What's a chick flick? A movie about and/or for women. Although that doesn't mean everyone can't enjoy the film. Lots of great references in this one. Rob Reiner (who made the classic modern chick flick When Harry Met Sally (WHMS), also number 23 on AFI's top 100 comedies) stars in this film. Nora Ephron who directed (and wrote the screenplay for) this film also wrote WHMS. Want more? Countless similarities between this one and Frasier. Great lines, good laughs and competent performances. Enjoyable, unless you think people will call you a sissy for watching movies like this (in which case, you could go watch The Dirty Dozen).

As Promised, Microsoft to Offer Concealable Icons: An update to the Windows XP operating system will let users hide the computer screen icons of some Microsoft programs. {my last update}


Venture capitalists Still on the Lookout for New Technologies: When Paypal's chief technology officer, Max R. Levchin, accepted Technology Review magazine's award for innovator of the year in Cambridge, Mass., on Thursday, it was an indication that innovation on the Web, while not close to its level of two or three years ago, is far from dead.


New Order of Web Researchers May Rise From Jupiter's Ashes: Components of Jupiter Media Metrix, once one of the most prominent Internet research firms, are being bought by rivals who want to continue in the same business. Yes, that's right. They sold their key patents and international contracts to NetRatings, their main competitor.


From a Few Colored Lines Come the Sounds of Music: A new software called Hyperscore lets the musically illiterate compose complex works. No musical notes and notations required.

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Cannes Winners

Well the Cannes Winners have been announced. Roman Polanksi clinched the Palme D'Or for The Pianist. Get the complete awards list here or as a PDF. There's an Indian winner too: Manish Jha shared the Jury Prize for A Very, Very Silent Film. Paul Thomas Anderson (remember the frogs in Magnolia?) won Best Director for Punch-Drunk Love (starring Adam Sandler !!!). Allen joked about France's fondness for him, saying the French have two misconceptions: ``that I'm an intellectual, because I wear these glasses, and that I'm an artist, because my films lose money all the time. Neither of those things are true.''
Blaxploitation resurfaces

For Fun, a Mucho Macho Black Hero: Undercover Brother, a comedy opening on Friday, is a parody of early 70's African-American macho familiar from the blaxploitation films of that era � Shaft, Superfly and Black Belt Jones.

Mike Myers is also planning to use themes from the genre for Goldmember, the new Austin Powers film.

Degrees of blog separation

So, a friend of mine from college just dropped me a line. Turns out he was searching for information about Devdas at Cannes {my old post}. Keeping in touch has been such a pain in general, and now a blog acts as a catalyst. What more can one ask for?

Saturday, May 25, 2002

Collectors over the phone, a triple thick shake and a great compilation of rarities

So I had an hour-long conversation on Friday over the phone with Mrs. Manorama Pandit, who has been hosting the 2-hour long "Music from India" radio show on Sundays from 11am to 1pm on WRFG 89.3 FM {see: Radio Pancham}. Turns out we are collectors of the obscure, except that her time frame begins from the 1940s, while mine would start from 1961 (Chote Nawab). Besides, I have an R D Burman focus, while she has a more general palette. Still, there seems to be a possibility of exploring and exchanging collections.

Skipped dinner and settled for a triple-thick milkshake (from the MacDhaba, desi lingo for MacDonald) thanks to Harish, who wanted the fudge sundae and (as always) they were out of it! Back home it was time to open up another of my RDB purchases, and I chose Anokha Pancham. Didn't regret it a bit. A great compilation of RDB rarities from the 70s, it included the title song of Dheeraj Kumar's 1970 film debut Raaton Ka Raja (yes, I remember the film too!). The compilation betrays RDB's soft corner for the bossa nova, which he introduced into Hindi film music with "Maar Dalega Dard-e-Jigar" from Pati Patni (1966). I followed that up with another combo of RDB scores: Anamika(1973)/Paraya Dhan(1971).

Library hauls and an evening of music, mystery science theatre, and some great ice cream

So it's getting warmer now and summer will soon be in (sweat and dread!). Got a few hauls at the library
In the evening Vijay (a friend from the guitar class of Spring 2002) came over and we spent our time exploring my little CD collection: Starting off with the blues roots of Clapton and Led Zeppelin (Listen to Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe singing 'When the Levee Breaks' and then switch to the Led Zeppelin version: sheer magic), we proceeded (inevitably) to R D Burman. Here's what I remember:

* The Kronos Quartet covering Aaj ki Raat from Anamika (with Zakir Hussain on tabla)

* O Maajhi from Bandhe Haath (the 'cabaret boat song')

* Teri Meri Yaari Badi Purani from Charitraheen (the tea saucer hitting a tympanum)

* Listen to the Pouring Rain (as covered by Usha Uthup in Bombay to Goa. A tune that RDB later used in Double Cross as did Anu Malik in Sir for 'Sun Sun Sun Barsaat ki Dhun Sun')

* Mere Liye from Raaton Ka Raja

* O Jaaneman from Chhalia (with bonus dialogues from Shotgun Sinha and the infectious RDB-favourite bossa nova surfacing again with some great horns and his impeccable 'everything but the kitchen sink' instrumentation)

* Dil ka Darwajja Khol De from Hifazat

* Nasha Husn ka from Mardon Wali Baat (which seems like the seed for 'Bholi Si Surat' in Dil To Pagal Hai) (A Planet Bollywood reviewer also seems to have noticed!)

* Our recordings from Firodiya 1996: The Workshop (How I wish I had the other recordings!!)

* Rangé Mehfil from Samundar (guitar solo picturised as a sax solo)

Post-dinner I paid a visit to Ara and Pari as they watched Hera Pheri, Priydarshan's Hindi remake of Siddique Lal's Malayalam monster hit Ramji Rao Speaking (which even had a sequel called Mannar Mathai Speaking). Priyadarshan has done this a lot -- adapting Malayalam/Tamil films for Bollywood, that is. Remember Gardish (from Sibi Malayil's Kireedam, which also had a sequel, Chenkol), Viraasat (from Thevar Magan)? Although the film did well at the box office (why oh why???) Priyadarshan had differences with the producer, especially since they added two songs into the film without his consent (and let me tell you, the songs stink and stick out like fat sore thumbs). That doesn't excuse him though. From what I made of it, the film was tired, the comedy flat and there was just no chemistry anywhere. Add to that some extremely strange cheap wide angle shots and fast first-person camera without reason; an underused unfortunate Om Puri; a performance of Paresh Rawal that soon goes from exciting to interesting to bearable to irritating, especially since he has to bounce off two fine pieces of wood as Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty. A perfect candidate for Mystery Science Theatre, which is what we indulged in, as I downed some generous ice cream.

Friday, May 24, 2002

Desi eBay (NOTE: links are active only for the duration of the auction)

Laparwah / Indian Soundtrack: Laparwah � Bappi Lahiri (EMI, India, 1980) Includes a funny mix of Electronics and trad music on �Tumko Mainne sapnon men to dekha tha�, plus a funny easy track called �Background Music� between Ennio Morricone�s spaghetti soundtracks and John Barry�s James Bond music
The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies became the top response for Roger Ebert's Answer Man request for the funniest movie title. My favourite long one was: Carl Andersen's Austrian z-grade flick entitled "I Was a Teenage Zabbadoing" (alternative title: "I Was a Teenage Zabbadoing and the Incredible Lusty Dust-Whip from Outer Space Conquers the Earth versus the Three Psychodelic Stooges of Dr. Fun Helsing and Fighting Against Surf-Vampires and Sex-Nazis and Have Trouble with This Endless Titillation Title"). Wow!

September 06, 2002: Carl Andersen found my blog in an internet search and dropped me a line to include a link to his website. This film is available there.
Devdas, Copsite and the old Chemistry Laboratory in Fergusson College

Elizabeth Bunt reports on Devdas at Cannes and the new global market that Indian films are looking at.

In local news, the city police pf Pune are all set to make their official website more interactive and community-oriented. {source: Chris}

Fergusson College pressed the panic button for a few hours on Thursday afternoon after their chemical laboratory caught fire due to a cleaning mishap. The principal A K Wagh suspects the unholy union of sulphuric acid and phosphorus. No fire though, just a lot of chemical smoke. Sigh! Memories of that cloistered stuff lab where everyone took delight in producing weird colours at their fingertips and noxious odours like never before. {source: Chris}

Aaron Swartz (see earlier post) has a weblog dedicated to all things and happenings Google. Check it out!

There's a Yahoo! IM GoogleBot called YIMGoogle based on the new Google API and Praya.

And the Sets demo on Google Labs passed the Borges test. {results on Google} {more about Borges' Animals}
Netflix went public yesterday

Netflix, everyone's favourite online DVD rental portal, went public with 2 other technology companies (for the first time in almost 20 months, says Kenneth L. Gilpin). Way to go!
Ringtones for mobile phones based on popular film songs

Just caught a post on ramli about Imran Shnawer's site listing several ringtones based on your (ostensibly) favourite tunes.
 
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