Wednesday, December 31, 2003


Rudraksh {last seen on this blog}: The album opens up with the addictive catchy peppy ishq Khudaa_ii (Shankar Ehsaan Loy suffering from a mild DCH hangover :ko_ii kahe kahataa rahe), where Krishna(?) does an NFAK takeoff. Don't even bother looking for lyrical complexity or depth. This is a straight run for the dance floor. The beats barely die out before resurfacing on Vishal-Shekhar's ishq nashaa. Sunidhi Chauhan, a clear veteran on stuff like this, is joined by Shaan and some guitar riffs in the interludes. Electronically treated heavy breathing opens kyaa dard hai (indeed!). Richa Sharma is the main voice on this one, with Shankar Mahadevan providing occasional vocal support. The quality of lyrics takes a shot in the arm. dil kii aahe.n opens with a bonus: Sunil Shetty delivering a bit of dialogue ensuring instant cultification of the track. The synth riff that follows sounds part Vangelis, but seems dangerously familiar. Wish I could put my finger on it. Shashi Pritam(?) is the composer, and Mast Ali is responsible for the lyrics and as KK and Chitra (a dreaded combination if you remember MPKDH) deliver the song, I'm trying hard to figure out where I've heard this melody before. Shades of the title track off Darna Mana Hai, definitely. Another small SS voice bit precedes bole Dole. The flute piece hits the déjà nerve again. Some new vocalist called Sandeep Bhaurnik(?) joins Chitra for this "romantic" song. Aah, I sense vibes from dil hii dil me.n from Dum, and ishq hu_aa from Ishq. And the composer himself guests with a throated vocal -- not too impressed was I. SEL return with the title track featuring Sanskrit intonations and a beat-heavy aural drench. Effective. Unless I see SS walking in slow-mo on screen for this one. paritraaNaaya ... sambhavaamii yuge yuge reappears. And finally ishq Khudaa_ii appears in remixed[sic] form followed by an instrumental version of kyaa dard hai.
almost-sir eric clapton and a censorious kher

Eric Clapton is one step closer to a knighthood as he made a CBE in the New Year Honours List. Despite the controversy surrounding a few inclusions, it's in the way that you use it;)

Anupam Kher adds irony to his position as the chief of the CBFC by featuring in a forthcoming "film with a message" called Hot Girl: Dream of Everyone. This used to be a 1997-98 film called Nadani, but the producers changed it to Hot Girl only to attract an audience (predictably!).

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

bits and pieces heard and read

The special Criterion release of Peckinpah's Straw Dogs will no longer be available officially come January 2004.

Sir Alan Bates succumbed to pancreatic cancer on December 28, 2003. I haven't seen too many of his films, but his will be the most memorable presence in a surreal film called The Shout that I had caught on late night cable TV back home.

William Shatner is all set to release a new album. For those who haven't heard The Transformed Man, this won't offer much cause for celebration, but cultists may rejoice. {trackback on /.}

abhay: fearless sfx, but no narrative

The film is based on Kamal saar's novel Dayam. Yet the one thing it lacks is a strong script and screenplay. As with other KH ventures it lacks cohesion and character development. It scores in the SFX department, but the effects shots are paced and timed badly -- making them stick out like Godzilla's sore thumbs. And KH delivering poetry is both irritating and bellyachingly funny. Of note: the animation-mixed psychedelic sequence after Abhay has a drug fix; the conversation that KH and RT have during their suhaag raat. Everything else could have been so much better. KH deserves kudos for his attempt, but one begins to wonder if there is some truth to the rumours that KH is intent on feeling up the beautiful bounty of starlets in the name of art and fame.

Monday, December 29, 2003

aimee and jaguar/kucch to hai

aimee and jaguar is a foreign/cross-genre films (a lesbian love affair between a German and a Jew in the time of war) that also has its foundation in fact. Embellished for viewing, the film is painfully long, and although there are interesting moments, it was hard to stay focused. the sweeping soundtrack did not help much either. wrong movie at the wrong time.

Kucch to Hai was another failed attempt by K-fetishist (see also: Karan Johar) Ekta Kapoor (responsible for the K-infestation of sick soaps on cable television back home in India) to revive her brother Tusshar Kapoor's film career. The problem with TK is that he's not star material. He's not too bad in the acting department, so a good director, a good script and something non-mainstream should be a better bet. He's paired here with a host of TV familiars and the horrifying Esha Deol (who spends her on-screen time delivering bad lines in a most pathetic fashion, sighing like her mother, and looking like Hrithik Roshan's sister). The film derives its foundation[sic] material from i know what you did last summer, i still know what you did last summer and urban legend. It then packs itself with stupid subplots involving love and rejection, as well as a horde of FF-friendly songs (although Anu Malik scores a cult ace with dil Ding Dong Ding Dole). Despite the interesting turn by Rishi Kapoor, the film's best moment (for me) comes near the opening where Jeetendra (starring in a small role as Ravi -- which also happens to be his real name, TK's father -- which he actually is in real life!) doing a little review of dance steps from his heyday. All else that follows is best sped up till the end. Painful.

Friday, December 26, 2003

make way for the punju poirot

Miss India: The Mystery is another rarity on the watch list. A little B-venture that falls perfectly in the slot occupied by Punju/northie dumb flicks with ugly non-actors offering strange looks as placebos for emotions, mouthing bad lines, and a screenplay that defies its moniker. What we have here is a murder mystery[sic] during a Miss India contest (suspension of disbelief required on the eligibility of these young dumb hags). Om Puri is the only (barely) redeeming factor as he plays a jolly Punju police inspector Yograj Singh, who investigates the crimes. While Puri gives it all he's got (including a nice vocal variant), his lines are dismal and bury the merit of his performance in a quagmire of moronic proportions. Howlarious lines abound along with strange looks and XCUs. And Ganesh Acharya pops up once again (twice actually: and he is even hailed officially on screen in the second appearance) dancing away to glory. I proffer dance baby and first_song for cultification. For all those wondering who this director Pradeep Maini is, check out an old Akshay Kumar flick called Kayda Kanoon, a standard gariibi-amiirii/anti-establishment/kader-khan-pontificating flick also featuring kader khan (duh!), sudesh berry. My cablewaalaa back home in India made sure that I caught this flick, but I wish I could remember more. trivia note: dance director ganesh acharya appears on-screen for two dance numbers, and is even mentioned by name for the second.

see also: nana poirot
hawaiian pizza: remastered

As a Christmas present to myself, I caught the last showing of a special week-long engagement of the extended remastered version of Sergio Leone's operatic prequel in the Spaghetti Western trilogy, The Good The Bad and The Ugly. Some may find the film slow, but an honest and fair observation would be acknowledging Leone's audacious sense of style and spectacle. Christopher Frayling's Sergio Leone: Something to do with Death presents Leone as a film buff, whose enthusiasm and talent was evident, but who could often tick off his associates, simply by denying credit where it was due. Naysayers would call him a pretentious wannabe hack. But there is no denying the importance of his ouevre and the influence his films have had on cinema itself. That said, it was a pleasure to watch the (intentionally) innapropriately named trio race to find buried treasure in a graveyard. The journey is fun as is the shootout at the end. And silence has never sounded so wonderful and ominous at the same time.
waisa bhi hota hai part II

with acknowledgements to diverse influences like RGV, ramesh sippy, the coen brothers, beat takeshi kitano and quentin tarantino, former creative head for MTV/Channel V, and the man responsible for Quick Gun Murugan and Udham Singh, Shanshanka Ghosh makes a darkly comic entertaining flick called waisa bhi hota hai part II. the film is divided into three parts (called part I, part II and part III: DUH!), with part II being the longest (and hence the title?). this is the story of a copywriter whose brother was an underworld informant, is having a live-in relationship with a cop, saves and befriends a gangster and ultimately destroys the two top gangs of the Bombay underworld. somewhere along the way we also meet the bazpur boys, a group of party sardars and a bengali who pack verve and a mean AK-47, along with being Mahima Choudhary fans. packed with songs that I hadn't liked so much initially, but work much much better on screen. The film is loaded with cameos too: Rabbi Shergill is on-screen singing lau.nDiyaa, which also features dance director Ganesh Acharya (last seen in Road), as well as the producers of the film AND director SG himself; shibani kashyap appears singing sajanaa; kailash kher is on screen for allaah ke ba.nde. maria goretti warsi (aka mrs arshad warsi), credited as "item" girl, appears as the on-screen image for sunidhi chauhan's jism. lots of cool frank dialogue, great moments, and deadpan black humour. great performances especially from arshad warsi, prashant narayanan (last seen in Chhal) and pratima kazmi as gangu tai. this is not jaane bhi do yaaron by a long shot, but think of a black-comic version of hrishikesh mukherjee, and you'll get the idea. all thumbs up.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

monster's ball

After having suffered Halle Berry in Swordfish, X Men and Die Another Day, I noted the need to watch Monster's Ball to find out if she could actually deliver a good performance. That she won an Oscar for this film is purely a coincidence. But then that's me and the Oscars. Denzel Washington won that year too, and although I liked him in Training Day, I wasn't exactly thinking "Oscar". But back to the film under discussion (soliloquy). This is a film about pain, longing, and loss. The tone is mellow and all the sexuality is dominated by emptiness. Titillation does not even figure on the agenda of this story of a burgeoning relationship between a racist prison guard and the African American wife of the last prisoner he executed (played by Sean Combs!). Look out for visual tips-of-the-hat to Taxi Driver and Apocalypse Now. And the use of mirrors. And then sit back and wonder how Halle Berry managed to pull this off? Perhaps the vibe of a strong script and a strong supporting cast and crew transferred over... Perhaps she got lucky. Until further notice, this will remain, for me, her first and last best performance.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

the man in lincoln's nose ... and the epic journey on the chisholm trail

As part of my gentle journey into the North by Northwest DVD, I watched the accompanying behind-the-scenes documentary. Most of the stuff I already knew thanks to my status as a Hitchcock fan, a Bernard Herrmann fan, a film buff, blah blah. 'Twas fun, especially to see stuff broken up for you to analyze and understand. I even began watching the film with just the score on. Proof enough of Herrmann's greatness. And Saul Bass' opening sequence is still great. And now, for the movie itself ... waiting ... waiting...

Howard Hawks' Red River is an exhilirating experience. I have long since stopped worrying about the length of westerns. The good ones make good patient use of their time. John Wayne gets a multitextured role that presages his work in The Searchers. The conflict in the film is underscored by soaring and saddening moments, great dialogue, and the epic feel of a journey. Along on the Chisholm Trail. It's fun getting to the destination. And a great movie to boot.

Monday, December 22, 2003

hackers, hyderabad, nana poirot, australasian undress and chinese ghosts

After a great opening where the Warners Bros logo is presented with CGI as a flickering computer screen, Swordfish opens with John Travolta saying "You know what the problem with Hollywood is? They make shit. Unbelievable unimaginative shit". That's usually asking for trouble, but mercifully this film does not tank. Instead we open in a fragmented narrative with a cool coffee shop sequence that could easily fit other Travolta ventures like Get Shorty or even Pulp Fiction. Employing swing-and-tilt lenses, Sena sends portions of the frame in and out of focus, directing our attention to the stuff we are required to see. And then drawing on his advertising background, Sena renders a slow-time explosion that is worth every moment of it. Along with the flashback begins the formulaic spiral of the film. As always, real hackers will chuckle at some of the terminology (note the references to the infamous Carnivore program) thrown about. Sena works hard at keeping the adrenaline high, and succeeds for the most part. And there are nice colour tones applied to the print. But the promise of the opening sequence tops. The ending doesn't cop out either (the alternative endings underscore a tough decision). Halle Berry, the famous non-actress, continues to not-act. She was paid an obscene sum of money for performing topless in a scene. Saying that her mammilae are better performers than she is should suffice as an opinion on her acting skills[sic]. Jackman, Travolta and Cheadle take honours. The special features include a commentary by Sena, which offers some insight into the techniques used in filming -- and that leaves us with the true essence of the film: all tech, no soul.

Finally, I get to watch Hyderabad Blues uncut. I still remember a friend at the hostel in COEP telling me he had passes to a preview screening of some movie called Hyderabad Blues. Yes, I declined. Later I kicked myself. Sometimes friends helped. This movie rocks. The ease at which each character seems to talk (and the awkwardness and unpolished delivery work here), the infectious slang, and the catchy riff playing in the background score. Wonder why the ABCD-infestation of sad flicks can't muster enough honesty like this. I must also note the great extent to which I got to see traditional practices in this film: quite surprising and heartening at the same time. Kukunoor has been floundering since this film, but his last film Teen Deewarein restored my hopes.

Tarkieb has Nana Patekar playing a sher-spouting smartass version of Hercule Poirot surrounded by a gala of stars playing red herrings and Tabu playing the murder victim. The plot and the raison da qatl are too terrible for words. You could guess the identity of the killer before NP's character (Jasraj Patel) does. Too many songs. Some cool cult moments: a scene where a suspect is tortured by watching NP play chess with a vicious bug tied to his wrist, before NP ties the bug box around the suspect's neck; NP accepting his assignment and walking out after spouting a couplet (hamaare baad mahaphil me.n afasos bayaa.N hogaa / bahaare.n ham ko Dhuu.NDe.ngii na jaane ham kahaa.N ho.nge); a comedy[sic] sequence mentioning viagra; the existence of the phone number 345678; Tiku Talsania (the desi Captain Hastings) referring to a blind stall owner called Nainsukh(!) as chirkuT; and lines like zyaadaa thop doge apane aap par to ##cartoon## lagoge. Priceless. For everything else, there's ...

Janasheen is a load of crap. Some fellow members of the Jaani Dushman Apprecation Society have proposed this as a worthy ally. I would have to disagree. This film is too polished, and has its meritorious moments. JD lacked both. Feroz Khan is the best thing in this film -- which says a lot. The themes are similar to those that FK tried to address (packaged with skimpy belles, songs, bad ostentatious acting, and locales) in his previous flicks. There are promising elements in the narrative, but there are troubling elements all around: way too many pointless songs (all of them are pointless by the way), unabashed display of skin, skimpy moves and random beachery, a karate instructor called Johnny (Chan) who romances a chimp called Champaakalii. The list is endless. Celina Jaitley continues her climb up the list of non-acting bimbettes (see also: Khel).

A Chinese Ghost Story was a great way to end the weekend (Sunday, actually). Chinese action. Chinese pop songs meshed into the narrative. Wuxia stunts. Chinese ghosts. Evil spirits. Trapped spirits. Hapless clueless heroes. Fast paced sequences. Funny dialogue. And a book of spells written in Sanskrit. My favourite sequence is when the Taoist ghost hunter drinks, sings and dances out his theme song. Priceless. {another review}

Friday, December 19, 2003


mahesh bhatt (formerly a sensitive filmmaker, later the high priest of cynical defeatist plagiarism) has expressed a desire to make a South Asian version of Speilberg's Schindler's List: the lead Muslim character of his film-in-mind would be shot down from both sides of the border, after escorting a Hindu girl and her family to find a safe passage to India. The photograph accompanying this news blurb also shows us the expression on dotty Pooja Bhatt's face (shocked at this announcement perhaps?)

Thursday, December 18, 2003

more slang

go north south: be in agreement on (the western nod of understanding).PDQ: Pretty Damn Quick.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

another cool google logo

Google celebrates 100 years since the Kittyhawk's historic flight with another cool logo.
Google celebrates 100 years of flight

Monday, December 15, 2003

patth, maha chor

Patth reminds me of Lal Salaam. Both had Sharad Kapoor (who really needs to work on cultivating some acting skills). And both seem good in concept, and tired in realization. Patth has just one song --- a title song sung by Sonu Nigam that comes up prominently at two points in the film. But even then it's a drag. It's been-there-done-that déjà vu. Payal Rohatgi is irritating with her South Bombay excursions into streetwalker lingo. Think Supari. Think countless other recent movies that try to cash in on the "violence begets violence" theme. Loud or bad acting is the order of the day. And the background score by a trio called bapi-tutul-johny sucks (a little fragment from ARR's haunting theme for Bombay kept reappearing). A good exercise is to spot the other movie references in the film including posters (Aankhen -- the new one, Pyar Diwana Hota Hai, Devdas -- the new one) and bar songs. And there's another attempt to cash in on the "gang killing against the backdrop of the ganpati festival". Sheesh. Pa(t)thetic.

The good thing about Maha Chor, a late 70s Kaka starrer with music by R D Burman (which explains why I watched it) is that the print is surprisingly good (perhaps not too many people watched it!). And then you have Anand Bakshi warbling for Kaka. But there are lots of gaffes, and the plot is a tired variation on the Robin Hood theme. But you have the convoluted association graph mapping and relating different characters (royalty, enmity, Kaka in a double role, hindu muslim riots followed by a pacifying song). And there's the dependable villainous Prem Chopra (jab sataraa\-sau saaTh be\-imaan mare the tab prem si.nh paidaa huaa thaa). And the weepy whiny Kamini Kaushal. Watch out for Kaka's different personae: Johnny Fernandes, Pandit Chirag, and Dr Muthuswamy. Jagdish Raj reappears as the police inspector, and perhaps as a tip-of-the-hat, Kaka's character at one point explicitly asks for Inspector Jagdish Raj. Awesome narrative moment: In order to impersonate the lost heir to a kingdom's riches, Kaka's character needs a scar on his left hand. Kaka refuses to damage his hand. That night Prem issues an order of arson on Kaka's slum. Kaka's little sidekick (a kid, for more weepy value) is shot and Kaka holds a lamp for the doctor as he attempts to extract the bullet. Kaka loses his balance and the clay lamp breaks, so Kaka supports the flame in his left palm until Doc finishes the bullet operation. The result: the required scar. As the coincidence meter soars, let me leave you with another titular Kaka-ism: kal tak mai.n ek chor thaa. aaj ek maa.N ke pyaar ko churaakar mahaa chor ban gayaa. But lots of interesting words to learn in the film.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Pune rocking ... despite the smog, large vehicles and tall buildings

JR continues his reminiscences of the Film Festival with a special look at Maqbool. Round one to JR. Going green with envy right now. Small coincidence that I was listening to the soundtrack to Makdee yesterday. Here's Taran Adarsh's review (TA was also in attendance).

Thursday, December 11, 2003

for a few laughs more

Harish points me to a segment in Rediff's 2003: the Year that Was slide show dedicated to the Bollywood showman[sic] Subhash Ghai's starting a new "international" film academy. Cool photograph I must say. The rest of the news sends me swinging between shrieks and guffaws.

And then we have official news about Qayamat being a box office hit. Despite the salacious image of Ajay Devgan caressing non-actress Neha Dhupia's rear end against a reefy background, the film is an action-thriller (aka a ripoff, in this case of The Rock)

The insanity of a splurge of patents filed (and granted) for information age services despite existence of some variant of prior art continues, and what better exploration of the issue than a /. thread ?

Bollywood goes technology-gagged again as producer Sajid Nadiadwala imports motion-capture equipment from abroad. The Matrix movies were enough to inform our Bollywood film producers about motion-capture. I mean, these guys have probably never followed the technological aspects of film making, let alone heard of DVD special features. The average Matrix fan can probably deliver a more engaging report on the techniques involved, than these dudes who managed to shell out the (black) money to import this equipment for a 4-minute sequence in Mujhse Shaadi Karogi. That means "will you marry me?", and raises the question: what role would motion capture play in such a flick? Akshay Kumar waxes eloquent about the equipment (and adds fuel to my fire of "these guys have never heard of DVD special features"). It must be noted that AK also starred in Jaani Dushman and Awara Paagal Deewana, both of which heavily (and cheaply) ripped off The Matrix. This would mark a hattrick for him. {see also: a rediff report}

And here we have a poster (courtesy: IndiaFM) of the forthcoming Sanjay Dutt starrer Rudraksh (my favourite city Pune, the recent fave for movie premieres, will host this one too!). The plot is all over the place (and there's also a 75-metre-tall monster somewhere in there), and I wonder what the sources are (I'm sure there are a few obvious ones, but I'm not thinking yet). Alternative interpretations are below the poster.

rudraksh poster from IndiaFM

* the burning question is: whose cooking turn is it today?

* will someone squash that bug please?

* we all need haircuts don't we? who's first?

* these are what the tax collectors really look like ...

burmania: revisiting collections new and old

{aka penance for procastination}
This is a post dedicated in totality to R D Burman. Non-fans/uninterested folk can skip to better sections of this blog, or, failing the existence of any such, pay the people on my left sidebar a visit. Or leave a nasty note or two.
First up, the first edition in a slowly-but-steadily-growing compilation of the various flavours of the music that now forms a legacy of the genius of R D Burman (that last phrase also forms the title of a bowdlerised compilation of RDB works owned by HMV). A gift from Renu and Neeraj that was the opiate for a rather unfortunate setback.
<begin rant>
The question of piracy usually comes up at this point. I don't think this is piracy. Here's why. I have tried to get the original CDs. I have searched high and low. The people at the recording companies (who's capability is best summed in this classic nugget from Spock's Brain: Kirk - 'Is he dead?' / McCoy -'it's worse than that Jim, his brain's gone') are not (in general) music savvy. All they see is the big $$$. Which means having Madan Mohan's son Sanjeev Kohli at HMV soon swings the scale from 'hope' to 'black comedy'. The giants with the largest rotting catalogue in Hindi film music, HMV, have, in the past several years, been responsible for failed portals like (bearing the revised moniker that they sport on recent releases), a badly-marketed portal for creating customized CDs (including tracks remastered by a five-year-old) called and the despicable Revival series. The other music companies have gone through several name changes and acquisitions (Polydor/Polygram/MIL/Universal, CBS/BMG). This leaves a person like me stranded trying to grab the elusive CD or tape from the throwaway bin or the random store in a little alcove while the biggies display CDs of barely-clad nymphets pretending to sing songs for the family. And spending hours wondering why Indian recording companies are light years away from understanding both the artistic and business potential in remastering stuff. That's where the US rocks. Although that doesn't really help lost/endangered Hindi film soundtracks (except some DJ favourites, which manage to make it to limited-release CDs). I am willing to buy these CDs, if I ever see them. In the meantime, what do these music companies expect me to do: cook daal-chaawal (which I do without their blessings anyways, thank you very much).
<end rant>

On to the music. NOTE: track names in ITrans

1 dil pukaare: From Jeeva, a Raj N Sippy-directed daaku film starring Sanjay Dutt and Mandakini (lucky viewers of Sony TV may have caught this on a boring afternoon). This Gulzar-Pancham collaboration yielded timeless gems like roz roz aa.Nkho.n tale (the most famous song in the set), and aa jagamagaataa chaa.Nd hai (featuring some crisp tabalaa). And then we have this song. I can almost see what happens on screen, but I dread the prospect of actually watching it. A lot of Pancham songs have been ruined for good on screen. If reports of proud owners of the LP are to be believed, this is a serious exercise in thumping bass lines (the level of the thump being USP for the LP).

2 yeh tanahaaiyaa.N (Takkar): a nice sax solo against a heavy sliding bass line before thick tinkling electronic ivories leading in to Asha's vocal. I have come to hate Asha for her specious style and mal-pronunciations, but she's bearable in this one. And once the simple strong rhythm track kicks in, you can see the disco lights. Wouldn't be surprised to see some jerkass remix this.

3 kaaabul se aayaa hai (Palay Khan): plagiarism mavens will raise their ears as soon as this song opens. The opening samples the working hour from the famous Tears For Fears album Songs from the Working Chair. I don't think I'd mind this, even if I weren't a Pancham fan. The seamless blend into Pancham territory as the song takes off into a perfect picturisation/narrative friendly gypsy song complete with indian instruments blended with other siblings from the eastern and occidental zones. Priceless. Another song from this ill-fated film was reasonably popular.

4 tum bhii merii jaan (Salaam Memsaab): The song to knock you out of your seat if your Pancham hearing had been limited to the standards touting his western influences (Teesri Manzil) and indian traditions (Amar Prem). Right from the get go, this stands out as an exemplar of his jazz influences. Asha is admittedly a little shrieky as she tries to do a nightclub chanteuse. But excuse that and you have a nice brassy opening and a coda that makes you wonder why other music directors didn't employ the dormant jazz sessions musicians in India.

5 ye silasilaa (Zehreela Insaan): a cute Asha song tailormade for Neetu Singh (wonder if she actually ends up on screen for this one, if at all ... been a while since I saw this movie). The film itself deserved a little more attention (although the end was badly edited). The usual Pancham touches: percussion, tasty interludes.

6 jiya me.n tuufaan (Kehtey Hain Mujkho Raja): After a rushed opening with guitar strums, the song settles down as Asha vocalises the main melody complete with a nice zaagaa. And it's nice to note how little musical phrases get their share of words too. And there's this infectious melody that I keep telling myself I've heard before.

7 maar Daalegaa dard-\e\-jigar (Pati Patni): Touted as the first Hindi song based on the Brazilian bossa nova, this is a good listen (even though the volume is generally low). The soundtrack has a Jogiya-based Lata song as well, but AFAIK neither tape nor CD exists, and this Asha song features in a rare CD (the copout "revival" version is more accessible). Someone told me this plays as a seduction number featuring Shashikala.

8 chorii chorii chupake chupake (Bullet): The film itself celebrated the golden jubilee of Navketan films. Fronted by Vijay Anand and starring his starry brother Dev Anand, this film has promise in parts, but ends up being more of a cult favourite than a satisfying film. The songs are the redeeming factor. This song in particular rocks on screen (despite Dev Anand's irritating mannerisms). There's overlapping footage of Dev and dame with lots of psychedelic colours (the overlapping footage was done with better technology in Dil To Pagal Hai). At this point in the film, the two are drugged and doing the standard "i'm high" routine.

9 ##bullet bullet bullet## (Bullet): Another song from the same film. This one is a cornfield on screen. Dev cavorting with sad looking club belles dressed in tasteless disarray. Still, the gunshots and the funny sounds make for a fun aural ride.

10 maano maano yaa na maano (Zameen Aasmaan): This is one of Pancham's most neglected soundtracks. Every song is a gem. And the film, like every other film with the word Aasmaan in its title, flopped. The song opens with an electronic soundwave followed by a distorted guitar riff employing freaky bends, before moving into popsy territory.

11 dekho idhar jaan\-o\-jigar (Boxer): This was Mithun Chakraborty's first film production. The record/CD opens with an introduction from the actor/producer himself explaining the introductory sound bites preceding each song. A nice touch honestly done. This song was the first song on the album and also contains the aural component of the sequence that precedes it as it appears in the film. And the segment is a trivia-lover's treat. Shankar (Mithun) on the run from the cops enters a hotel where (if you pay close attention) you hear the opening to RD Burman's jaane jaa.N (nishaa) from Sanam Teri Kasam (with lyrics by Gulshan Bawra). He proceeds to befriend a patron (Gulshan Bawra playing himself) and does a bad job of the whole thing, insulting his dead mother, the crooner (who turns out to be the patron's wife) and then finally the song itself. The patron is now furious and challenges Shankar to do better. Shankar proceeds to belt out and dance to this song, which also happens to be written by GB himself (and set to music by R D Burman). My favourite part of the song is the dominant guitar riff that begins slowly and then soars in tempo as the song begins, and then reappears in the interludes. Priceless.

12 Kis ne dekha hai kal (Heeralal Pannalal): RDB's full throated rendition is worth every paisa invested in this song. Asha guests echoing the lyrics of the last Hindi song Hemant Kumar recorded before his death (aajaa mere pyaar aajaa).

13 raat banuu.N mai.n (Mangalsutra): Wonder how many people remember a possessed Anant Nag married to Rekha? There's a very very scary look that Anant Nag executes telling the audience that he is possessed, while Rekha is in the background waiting for him to come down for dinner(?). Buried deep in this story of unrequited love and revenge is this lovely duet.

14 diiwaaro.n kaa ja.ngal (Deewar): diiwaaro.n kaa ja.ngal to be ITrans-precise. The tune pops up briefly in the film, but the song never made it on screen. RDB reused the tune in the titular lament for Hamare Tumhare.


Those are the first words you see as Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz unfolds. This mixes informal conversations and footage from The Band's last concert. The guest list of performers is a delectable whos-who including personal favourites Eric Clapton and Muddy Waters along with Bob Dylan (who brings a coda to the concert), Neils Young and Diamond, Paul Butterfield, Joni Mitchell, Garth Hudson, the beautiful Emmylou Harris, and Ringo Starr (who stomps the drum during the ensemble closing). Watch a young bearded Scorsese trying to get the members to talk about being the group they were. The songs are the undeniable masterpiece, but the film endears, even for someone like me, who hasn't heard much of their music. Special mention for Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who read out an outrageous irreverent reworking of the Lord's Prayer (called Loud Prayer).

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

scattered thoughts

stupid clouds. dark gloomy outside. gloomy inside. my desk is the only one below a misplaced tubelight. and it's not even directly below it. scattered light bouncing off my hutch. tinted with non-whites shades. ian paice rocks the joint on the mule, immediately justifying my recent purchase of the remastered made in japan. wonder why pancham's excellent compositions (tuning vijay anand's lyrics, no less) for ghungroo ki awaaz never got their due. perhaps the on-screen presence of the ever-aging goldie had something to do with it. but did he look worse on screen with madame Ré than manoj kumar did in clerk singing rakh giitaa pe haath? this coffee stinks. metaphorically speaking. the bug i had yesterday seems to have vanished for good. till later? enterprise development looks like the most subtle oxymoron in a long while. are all proxy servers running on windows boxes destined for periodic reboots? a recent computer security scorecard assigned dismal grades to u.s. agencies including failing grades to the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as the departments of Homeland Security, Energy, Health and Human Services, Interior, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and State for failing to protect their computer networks.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

mistah kurtz he dead

/Dev/Anand is the latest proud[sic] recipient of the Dada Saheb Phalke award. At least there are some laughs to be derived from the Rediff note. Stalwart Pran was also in the running. I don't know whom I'd prefer (although "anyone but Dev Anand" is the dominant sentiment). Last year it was tripe master Yash Chopra. The list of past recipients has been a mixed bag. Notable exceptions include Pancham (and this is not because I'm a fan) and Dada Burman, at the very least. To quote fellow Panchamite and Bappi fan[sic] Shashi: think in 2005 Boppi [will] get [the] Grammy...Dev Anand [will] get [the] Oscar...both [will] then make [a] movie - directed by Vijay Anand...starring Suneil Anand...with Dev-saab in strategic role...Bappa the upcoming mijic arranger...Rema solo singer....

Corny headline for the day: Dubey's ghost wakes up PM, probe ordered

The "can this really be true" moment: Coke apparently paid Sushmita Sen Rs 1.45 crore to keep mum on sexual harrasment charges she had made against their marketing exec ...

And the next film from the RGV syndicate seems to be Ek Haseena Thi ...

Why does the news that Urmila will star in a video for Indo-Pak integration have a suggestive photograph accompanying it? Are we going to use female wiles to lure people into peace?

And on the Bappi note, BL fans everywhere have a lot to look forward to ... (more about Bikram's Lounge)

Monday, December 08, 2003

i want ...

* amol palekar's shirt from the opening of Gol Maal

* to listen to Indus Creed's Pretty Child (and while you're at it, how about the cool video as well?)

* to go back in time and see Led Zeppelin live ...

* a criterion edition of the two (at least) versions of Sholay, instead of having to deal with dumb moronic transfers that Eros has been responsible for. Surely this landmark in Indian cinema (yes, I meant to say "Indian" not "Hindi") deserves better ...

* to be able to focus on what I'm doing, instead of churning out crap like this
the cold, the sun, and the flickering picture {aka running out of snazzy titles for posts about movies}

Aside from seeing Piedmont Park in the dark, and consuming 3 cups of tea from 3 different places, I managed to stack up on movies Indian and foreign. The tough/easy part is now watching them all.

M Butterfly is my first film from the Cronenberg archives since I caught Crash on LD (I was lucky to catch his last film Spider in the theatre). The film (as did the play forming its source) uses Puccini's Madame Butterfly (see also: Fatal Attraction). This is perhaps the only piece of evidence in all that Cronenberg has done so far that can point to his restrained bloodless work in Spider. The comparisons to/with Neil Jordan's The Crying Game are inevitable, and unfortunately, the latter ends up being a little more satisfying than this effort. The look of the film is just not enough to support a thin narrative thread. Cronenberg does not pursue the sinking mental web of Rene Gallimard (Jeremy Irons) and the film does not provide enough open ended ideas to help us think of a good answer to the question: How can Gallimard have lived with, and made love to, this person for eighteen years, yet not recognized that Liling is actually a man?

Although my viewing of Lynch's Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, before embarking on a retro-voyage with the TV series is appropriate from a narrative P. O. V. (the film is a prequel to the "uncanny" events that unfold in the TV series), I missed any chance of going "aah ... that would explain ...". Still this is welcome Lynch -- another example of what a painter could do if he/she had to make a movie. Lynch's reluctance to discuss the thematic content and fabric of his films and the fact that he often presents us with dreams and leaves the explanations to us is often frustrating for most viewers. I welcome the ability to sink into a delicious whirlpool of visions, ideas, faces, names, words, and colours that congeal into an exploration of the dark underside of a pastoral paradise (see also: Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive). There's a dwarf of course, and the ultimate "nowhere" -- the Red Room. My favourite moment: the disco scene from hell, where the conversations barely audible are augmented by subtitles. Bring on the TV show, I say. Should I add also that I am reading Lynch on Lynch, which is a good step forward in getting Lynch to open up (once again, there are no easy answers)

Adhikar is an 80s flick starring the aging Rajesh Khanna and ever untalented Tina Munim battling with the desi-ized Kramer vs Kramer script handed to them. Bappi Lahiri gives us the songs that don't go well with aged romance, but are hummable nevertheless. Cameos by Danny and Tanuja as lawyers in courtroom scenes that continue to defy all legal procedure don't help much. The only redeeming factor would be the narrative structure: the film opens with Kaka's character having kidnapped his little kid (6 months old) from his mother's home and then proceeding to raise him, while working as a trainer at the stables of his former employer (Kaka has been a crack jockey before this plunge into being both a father and a mother to his kid). The flashbacks later on provide us insight into what might have transpired.

I got Ram Tere Kitne Naam for the Pancham songs. Needless to say, Rekha in the 80s and Sanjeev Kumar in the 80s didn't really make a very romantic couple, and Sachin (in a "special appearance") bouncing about in tennis shorts on Southern streets and even paying homage to Sanam Teri Kasam don't really help the soundtrack much. As the film progressed I realized that (a) I had seen this film a long time ago on DD (b) I had even seen the South Indian flick that this one was clearly a remake of: an epileptic village simpleton falls in love with the cruel avaricious landlord's daughter and vows to make it big and get back enough moolah to be able to marry her. He goes to the big city (Bombay in our case) and becomes a movie star. This is where self-referencing glee takes over. What we see are excerpts from Sanjeev Kumar classics (Khilona, Trishul, Devata) and even footage of his winning the Filmfare award at Shanmukhananda Hall. Of course there's the anachronism that the age of the Sanjeev Kumar in some of these films is way less than the age of the actor that Sanjeev Kumar is playing. Bollywood licence of course. The film then proceeds into the melodrama characterised also by Devata -- SK's character becomes the towering good samaritan, who, aided by a lot of coincidences (Vinod Mehra, playing Rekha's husband, ends up being the driver of the school bus that takes their daughter, now adopted by SK, to and from school. He also materializes later as the taxi driver in the climactic moments, conveniently for a neat family reunion). And SK is earnest, but the dialogue stinks. It's a pity SK didn't get meatier, more challenging roles. A great talent wasted. {ISB posts: ma.nzil thii kahii.n, machal machal jaataa hai dil}

And in other news, added Zach Everson (who was kind enough to send a note about my Turkey rant) to the sidebar.

Friday, December 05, 2003

noose ...

Trailers for the new Tom Cruise flick The Last Samurai didn't impress me much (in addition to my unadulterated subterranean opinion of his acting skills). And now Jonathan Hoberman's review includes a high-concept capsule for the film: Dances With Wolves . . . in Kimono.

Last heard: there's an extended/restored version of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly hitting the theatres soon ...Yum!

Apparently, Mahesh Manjrekar is planning to remake Robert Mulligan's Summer of 42 in Bollywood. Buzz is that Jaya Prada and Dino Morea will play the leads in this older woman-young man love story. Manjrekar had earlier announced a project with Sanjay Dutt and Kareena Kapoor. Titled Ek Ajeeb Prem Kahani, the film again was a love story between a young girl and a older guy. Expect more posts as soon as I can get off the floor and find something to stop my tears of laughter ...

Caught the Tehzeeb {pick up the thread} premiere party (courtesy: indiafm) and I must note Sushmita's ease at handling with questions and talking to the camera. I collapsed once again at the moment when, as the camera moved in to catch Shabana and Urmila, a voice rang out "boss tho.Daa ##camera## niiche le naa yaar!".

/. scintillates with two awesome threads of discussion: one dedicated to an open letter from Darl McBride (soon slated to top the charts for being the individual most maligned by the Open Source community) [ Darl missed a few salient points that I will enumerate: 1) The GPL kills small cute furry animals. 2) The GPL causes cancer in laboratory animals. 3) The GPL encourages terrorism. 4) It hurts THE CHILDREN. 5) Reciting the text of the GPL backwards will cause the appearance of the Anti-Christ and will initiate the apocalypse.] and the other to followups on an article on physics jokes [Protons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic!].

Current listens include King George from the Coffy soundtrack (for obvious reasons, I feel really cool now).

do all undercover cops like rooftops?

That's Andy Lau's Inspector Lau, a triad mole in the police force confronting Tony Leung Chiu Wai's Yan, an undercover cop, as they face off on the roof in Infernal Affairs (imdb page), a high-profile technology-heavy Hong Kong cop flick that's worth every minute of it. Slick, fast-paced, grittily-filmed, well-acted, and accompanied by a background score that bore two little appealing motifs (the first: an arabian riff; the second: a Herrmann-esque riff arranged for cello, violin, electric guitar and drum). The bookending Buddhist quotes don't make too much sense. The female roles are underwritten, and ineffectual. But the morse code idea and the complex double switcheroo (an undercover cop having trouble getting out of being a mole/a triad mole in the police department dealing with conflicting goals and a growing conscience) are worth the watch. The only true downside is that they chose to use white as the colour for the subtitles (and even placed them within the film instead of in the black bars -- although widescreen TVs would miss on the latter, come to think of it!), and this sucks against the texture of the film (lots of whites, trust me). Nevertheless, be patient and you will be rewarded. (see also: Chhal)

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Buy More Goodies

Just a couple of weeks ago, I got a pugil of CDs on the cheap from BMG: Roy Ayers' soundtrack for Coffy, music for the movies of Clint Eastwood (something I opened the day after I caught Mystic River), the 20 all-time greatest hits of James Brown, the Ennio Morricone edition of the legendary film composers series, the cool soundtrack of Ocean's Eleven (great CD design too: an 11-sectored roulette wheel), and the complete birth of the cool.

I had scarcely made my way through that and a bushel of Pancham goodies from R&N, before I succumbed to the tantalising deal that the BMGers threw my way. As a result, I just opened up another hexamerous package: the remastered edition of deep purple: made in japan (having already procured the original single CD release a long while ago), remember shakti, global fusion, remember shakti: saturday night in bombay, essence of rhythm, walking into clarksdale.

intimidation {link courtesy: sudarshan}

that's what Batman 5 (grief!) is being called. And the star cast rumours are quite interesting ...
from the land of the kamasutra comes the winner of the Bad Sex in Fiction award (what a clichéd title)

The Literary Review�s Bad Sex In Fiction award honours[sic] the year�s most embarrassing and inept description of sexual intercourse in a novel. The embarassment of being a winner has been heightened also by the announcement that Sting has been chosen to present the award. The winner will receive a statue of the Greek god Hermes. The winner this year is Aniruddha Bahal, who posed for as an arms dealer to expose the Indian military bribery scandal in 2001. The chosen extract is from his book Bunker 13, a thriller about a reporter who goes undercover to expose arms-smuggling and heroin-dealing in Kashmir, which features a heroine with her pubic hair shaved into the shape of a swastika. Here are all the shortlisted passages (including Bahal's winning extract -- no pun intended).

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

scary thoughts

Hit blogdex after a long long time today, and my eyes stopped at a pointer to a recent post on Philip Greenspun's blog titled why pretend to care about others when we have professional therapists?. That's a very disturbing idea, and being cynical and downbeat about the future of humanity (especially in the U S of A, where I subsist of late), I believe him. Brrr! And then there was an old post (Outsourcing to India in Business Week and at MIT...) I also read earlier in the day (via /.) about the outsourced roots of M. I. T's open courseware project.

The USEFI (US Educational Foundation in India) has announced the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) programme to provide teachers from India the opportunity to visit the US next year for a period of nine to ten months.

Still in keeping with the title of this post, The TOI having nothing better to do (as always) invites reader[sic] contributions to the post-interval storyline of the recent box-office sensation from Karan Johar (as writer/producer) and Nikhil Advani (as unknown director), Kal Ho Naa Ho. While I had wanted to put together a piece of opinion (integrating my own and that of others on either side of the national fence: indian/PIO-NRI), I'll have to wait till I actually catch the flick. In the meantime, relish Harish's vitriol.

Hmm, they've switched a different longer but narrower size of paper in the men's washroom ...

Someone has a brainwave[sic] of trying to hire U. S. programmers at overseas salaries ... apparently it works ... the inevitable downside (America's standard of living would inevitably decline) may not be acceptable to this consumer paradise... Must one note that this would mean that it would make it tougher for H1-B jobs, because the U. S. Department of Labour grades of employee salaries are not liable to change for a long time ... which means a lot of irate Americans, who think that Indian IT workers in general work more for a lower wage (and somehow fail to understand that H1-B employment has more restrictions than the residents do), are liable to be pleased as well ... {link courtesy: Sujeet}

reads and listens

Finished off 2-and-a-half James Hadley Chase pulpies: hit and run, we'll share a double funeral (this is the "half" part of my reading, because a chunky midsection had duplicate pages replacing actual narrative material), not my thing (the last two also feature the gigolo Julian "Lucky" Lucan -- was the choice of Julian as a name motivated by Schrader's American Gigolo ?). Am now halfway through Anita Desai's In Custody, the source of Ismail Merchant's interesting film of the same name.

Listening to Ocean's Eleven (notable, apart from the song inclusions, for David Holmes' cool retro-funk work). The album yesterday was The Legendary Italian Westerns showcasing the accessible and rare work of Ennio Morricone whose John Cage-inspired soundscapes completely changed the parameters of the western film soundtrack. This is volume II in RCA/BMG's Film Composers Series. The really cool aspect of this compilation is track 27, From Man to Man from Death Rides a Horse, which was showcased to effect in QT's Kill Bill Vol I, but does not appear on the soundtrack release (another aspect in the favour of the contention that it is best to wait till Vol II hits the screens and then wait another month or so for a deluxe/enhanced/special release of the combo soundtrack).

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

geek humour

I'm reading the documentation ("copious and disjoint" / "sparse and useless") accompanying Oracle TopLink and I come across a method in the ReadAllQuery class called cascadePrivateParts. Wonder what that would do ...
music reviews {previous in thread} {last rahman review}

A call from ARR enthusiast JR around the time I see ARR's latest release Kangalal Kaidhu Sei (which apparently means "enslaved by your eyes" -- but note, ich kann Tamil nicht!). Providence, I say. I agree about the really interesting part about Anaarkalii lying in the opening percussive riff and jaa jaa re apane ma.ndiravaa (in Bhiimapalaas: thanks, Sujeet). The rest of it is laid back lounge (barring some nice brass). Why ARR why? At least, to be fair, it's not a rocking aural assault (see also: Tehzeeb). I hear English on azhagiya cindrella, and I think Shankar, yuck and wait till the song gets over. Once again, the soundscape conquers (and I still think of Jeans and perhaps even Boys). Nice sax though. Not too involved. And I wonder if it is indeed the sax -- there's something strange about the sound. A waste of Hariharan. The little percussive pepper and some nice delicious bass turnarounds ... damn it! soundscape again ... are the things I take away from Ennuyir Thozhiyea. Unfortunately, the male scatting that opens theekuruvil didn't endear. Of The lilt continues in the rest of the song, but there's the ARR soundscape rearing its ugly head. But the scatting and the fast electronic runs probably ensure this song's place in Rahman history (although the Malayalam supertalk in jiyaa jale takes qualitative and temporal precedence). Aaha Thamizhamma has the appealing catchy floor hook rhythm and soundscape and features Mathangi (heard on Tehzeeb) and the despicable Blaaze, who provides a dyslexic interpretation of linguistic syllables and domesticated noises). {Rahmanonline page}

Chameli has Sandesh Sandesh Shandilya contribution to Anant Balani's unfinished flick now helmed by Sudhir Mishra. Sunidhi Chauhan's bhaage re man has a suspiciously Hollywoodian opening followed by a ARR-esque tune that reeks even more of a lift. Could be my imagination. Nice interplay of flutes in the first interlude. Sunidhi strikes her second vocal avataar in sajaNaa ve sajaNaa -- the Northy hook means I wait till the end of the song. jaane (where Udit joins Sunidhi) has a lot of sax, motown-esque moments and more of the "have I heard this elsewhere" vibe, in addition to being a pleasant listen. Sunidhi's back alone (in case you haven't already figured out, this is an all-Sunidhi album) with ye la.mbaa. Some nice female vocal overlays and the infectious urgency seen also in Jhankaar Beats. bhiigii hu_ii ko_ii shaam echoes a lot of something already heard but there's the sax and some electric guitar punctuating another gentle song, where Javed Ali joins Sunidhi. SajaNaa ve sajaNaa reappears (remix?). And we're back to Sunidhi with jaane kyo.n (which is essentially bhiigii hu_ii). Wonder if screwed up. And I hope the film doesn't dig this piece in to death. There's that nice Motown hook last heard on an old MJ record. And more sax. Rounding up the list is soul of chameli, performed on sax by Tala (who?).

Police Force: Anand Milind are back (were they ever gone? even briefly?). Sonu Nigam and Alka Yagnik do the tired street dhin-chak with raftaa raftaa. Abhijeet replaces Sonu in dil churaayaa, which sports the emerging-voice sample made famous in Gupt. And then we have pitchbend keyboard on a tinny rhythm track -- Govinda-esque sangeet (if you can even call it that!). This is essentially aa aa ii revisited. The vibe continues with Shreya Ghoshal doing aahii re maa_ii complete with aahs, invocations of the saiyaa.N, kalaa_ii, rajaa_ii, and u.ngalii, but redeemed with some funk feedback and phased guitar. Another Govinda-staple beat reappears on chehare me.n. So New Knee Gum joins Sadhana Sargam. The dhin-chak rears up in full blast with Vinod Rathod and Poornima's nainaa ku.Nwaarii, complete with quoting bholii suurat dil ke khoTe. Guess these guys thought they had a good thing going, because there's a short reprise almost immediately (referencing the "parrot of the heart"). Richa Sharma rounds things off with chuu.Diyaa.N. The song starts off with some strange male scatting overlaying a standard electro-slap rhythm. Would it be rocket science to figure out that Sameer was responsible for the elements that pass off as lyrics in these offerings?

If someone from is reading: Those ads for Sulekha Classifieds you sneak into my playlist are not amusing -- getting some southie expats doing Englishie ads is quite amusing, BUT NOT WHEN I'M LISTENING TO MUSIC. I understand the economic reasons, but could you at least warn us or something.

thoughts and listens

I stand at the bus stop wondering about the indian classical music I need to ask my India-visiting friends (a horde of them, as it were!) to get back for me. One artist whose recordings I love to get is Ustad Rashid Khan. I recall a recording of his performance of Raag Des that I had heard (thanks to the Internet). And then my mind shifts to the late great Pancham. And I remember the Des phrase (titaliyo.n se sunaa) in pyaar hu_aa chupake se from his swan song 1942: A Love Story. And then I start humming the opening of that song. All of a sudden, I realise I'm humming another R D song (lost regretfully in the morass of a bad movie). And I switch to laa laas. And I remember a friend's remark about why he thought RDB was great: RDB could make the same tune sound different (something I agreed with my friend that Jatin-Lalit were often capable of doing too...). I smile. The second song? roz roz aa.Nkho.n tale from Jeeva.

mystery song time: In a discussion about RDB, Harish manages to extract useful trivia, and then tells me about this song he's listening to called duuriyaa.N sab miTaa do. A Lata number he says, and it's pukkaa RD. Still a long way away from completely committing to memory all the songs that RD ever composed, I tried a few lookups (including a general Google search) and came up with squat. Aah, a rare song, I said. I managed to get a copy to listen to. Right from the get go (pleasant guitars, an interesting melody) I get the vibe of Bappi Lahiri at his best doing as close a Pancham-esque song as he could. The way Lata sang sab miTaa do immediately sent me into an alternative aural world with BL singing the same song. It had his stamp all over it. And I already knew this was no RDB song. But I found little information online. The only hint I have is that it might from his songtrack for the Ramsay horror[sic] flick called Saboot starring Navin Nischol. And it was indeed from Saboot. Time for an ISB submission.

Page and Brin's blog is a cute sendup on the creators of Google {link courtesy: Googleblog}.

il horror

Below, is a filch-linked photograph of the ghostlyghastly Kareena Kapoor (aka Bebo). Here's an interpretation: this is a shot from a forthcoming horror flick where KK plays the mysterious woman in white who lures her prey into a castle (location/soundstage) and proceeds to screen extracts of acting[sic] and song n' dance from her old flicks. An off-kilter lighter in-colour take on Sunset Boulevard perhaps. And we could call the flick the killer cheekbones.

TOI photograph of Kareena Kapoor

mohan joshi haazir ho ... and the rd connection

I must consider myself fortunate to have been able to catch Saeed Mirza's underrated biting social satire Mohan Joshi Haazir Ho at the NFAI while in Pune. There's the underrated Bhisham Sahni and a host of people that will be familiar to faithful viewers of out-of-band counter-stream movies (eg Chashme Baddoor) and fans of Nukkad. And the technical crew boasts names familiar to fans of the Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro stream of films. Caught it again on VHS and despite the print quality (read: not digitally remastered or restored for its strong filmic merit and complete lack of mainstream commercial value), the film still rocks. It's a worthy cousin to JDBY. Now to see if I can grab the other members of Mirza's ouevre of social satires with long titles.

The RD connection: the film has two songs, the second of which (haa_e re muqadamaa) begins with zoom-out shots of two movie billboards: the first for Coolie (yes, Harish, you can smile) and the other, visible only partially for a Dharam paajii starrer called Qayamat -- a forgotten movie with a not-so-forgettable soundtrack by the late great RD Burman.

Monday, December 01, 2003

news and goodies

Why haven't I read about Larki Punjaban elsewhere?

Coming out tomorrow is the Alien Quadrilogy DVD box set. Despite the cheat that was part IV, this is definitely on my list of "things to devote an entire day to".

Here's an image from the publicity snaps for Feroz Khan's Janasheen (which reportedly crashed into and out of the theatres within a snap). The lady in the snap doing a skimpy version of Vanessa Mae is the vastly untalented ghastly Celina Jaitley (who débuted in Khel). The plot synopsis (for those eager to track down sources) is up on B4UTV. Incidentally, janasheen means "heir".

cheap publicity snap for Janasheen

the rest of the thanksgiving weekend

Kiss of the Dragon (Sunday): There's the style of Luc Besson (who wrote the screenplay based on an idea from Jet Li) written all over this action flick featuring interesting action, sedate dialogue, and lots of slick panache and action.

Baghban (Sunday): A sad clichéd plot[sic] lent some respectability and pathos by a great performance from the Big B, Paresh Rawal and Lillete Dubey. Harish has already noted the little piece of writing trivia that elevates the end of the film. All the songs were FF-friendly. One must also note the faux pas in referring to the Booker Prize as the "Booker's Prize". Enthusiastic plugs for ICICI bank, Tata Tea, ZipPhone, Archies, Ford, New Wave Publishing. The only merit of Hema Malini's presence is her beauty despite her age (the fact that she looks more beautiful than her daughter -- see alter-post -- says a lot!). Madame Malini continues to grunt and gasp. The supporting cast stinks, although Salman Khan is actually restrained. The time is all screwed up in the film (I don't think this was intentional!!) -- after all how can Valentine's Day happen after Holi in less than 6 months?? Asrani looks interesting as a sardar, but his role is mercifully brief. Wonder why Salman's role was credited as "a very special appearance". What I took away from this film is loathing for our mainstream filmmakers, who have the money, but not the desire to expand the horizons of movies, and continue to dish out treacle tripe, knowing fully well that there are paying morons out there, who will continue to support their substandard endeavours.

Fatal Attraction (Saturday/Sunday): The big question I have is: with Glenn Close looking so ugly, why did Michael Douglas stray and be unfaithful to Anne Archer? Of course, I question the premise of this 80s take on the genre best represented by Eastwood's pioneering Play Misty For Me. This valuable addition to pop culture also overplayed (and hence made "trivially" famous) Puccini's Madame Butterfly. The special edition DVD includes the original (much better) ending, which is also discussed in Rachel Abramowitz's look at women in power in Hollywood, Is That A Gun In Your Pocket?.

Angoor (Saturday): This is another of those movies that I can never get tired of watching. There's Gulzar. There's Sanjeev Kumar (in fact, two of them). There's Pancham (although the film cut I manage to watch has only one song). There's Utpal Dutt, albeit in a very brief role. Guaranteed entertainment in this lively Hindi adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Comedy Of Errors, another film I remember having watched on Doordarshan.

Y Tu Mama Tambien (Friday): Lots of explicit nudity, onanism and sex in this "coming of age" tale. I last saw Gael Garcia Bernal in Amores Perros. Don't think I know anyone else in the cast. The film also managed to snag Frank Zappa's Watermelon in Easter Hay (which turned out to be a non-trivial ordeal, thus explaining the multiple acknowledgements during the end credits). Even if the explicitness worries you (I could argue for its uncomfortable closeness to guilty real-life pleasures), there's some cool dialogue and the contextualizing narrator's voice.

Mii nathuraam goDase bolatoy (Friday): Finally, finally, I manage to watch the play, albeit on VCD. This Pradip Dalvi-penned play faced boycotts when it was released initially, and the ban prevented me from watching it in Pune. Subsequent performances were less hindered, but sadly I was never able to catch one. I am quite sure that (as is usually the case) the people who were offended by the potentially anti-Gandhian stand of the play never actually saw it. This is a very honest presentation of historical events that might otherwise remain forever ignored in our sanitized history texts, and even embellished by Godse's ardent supporters. What we get, however is a glimpse of a very intelligent man driven by strong beliefs and convictions. And that makes his actions scarier, and also not so easily dismissable as "fundamentalist".

Friday, November 28, 2003

reviews past: balani runs lola into the ground

Anant Balani made his directorial début in a triviamonger's delight: a movie called Gawahi starring Zeenat Aman, Ashutosh Gowariker, Shekhar Kapur and Ranjeeta. Yeah. The film succumbed to gravity. Triviamongers rejoiced when he made his second movie, Patthar ke Phool, which marked the last film appearance of the late Vinod Mehra and the first of Raveena Tandon. This film tanked too, despite (or perhaps because of, in part) Raam Laxman's tinny songs sung to screechness by Lata Mangeshkar and the enthusiastically misfit S P Balasubramanium (NOTE: the infamous song invoking different road names in Bombay!). Balani then moved to television, directing A Mouthful of Sky, which featured Rahul Bose and a bunch of models/non-actors including Kamal Sidhu, and Milind Soman. And this went into the record books as India's first English soap. The title song wasn't so bad though. And recently Balani splashed back with the dismal Jogger's Park, Mumbai Matinee (which will remain a personal favourite, despite all the strange looks I get), ek din 24 ghante and the unfinished Chameli (Bose again, with Kareena -- ugh -- Kapoor. Sudhir Mishra was last heard to have stepped in to complete the film). Why unfinished? Because of Balani's untimely demise. Of these MM held the most promise for Balani. JP was tired, and ek din... has a bad title, rips off Run Lola Run, linearizes the delectable experiments with time, adds some lame angles and a very very badly placed noirish twist at the end. Bose is fine, Das doesn't do much, and the film has some of the languid quality of MM, but in more abandon. There's way too much slo-mo, the background score sucks for the most part, some of the dialogue and scenes reek, and there are strange hat tips (like the Bates Motel sign reflection running up Das' car). The film has some level of promise though. But I wonder ... (more coming soon)

thanksgiving: turkeys of movies

Google came up with another interesting logo

thanksgiving 2003 logo from Google.
I caught Will Smith, Gene Hackman and a bunch of uncredited people (Jason Robards, Tom Sizemore) doing their bit for another Jerry Bruckheimer/Don Simpson high concept action thriller called Enemy of the State. Cool font on the titles (with serifs on the E, O, Y, C, S, and no horizontal on the A). A slick product (expectedly), laced with enough terminology to make your head spin. And don't get me started on all the fake social security numbers in the film. I've always wondered what the formula for SSNs in the movies was ... (see also: Marnie) after all the telephone numbers are directory lookups (except Bruce Almighty). The prescient ominous note is Senator Thomas Reynolds' (Jon Voight) birthdate -- September 11, 1940. Brr! And there's Hackman's inclusion of the word "Allah" as a word that could raise the alarm. The end credits include a line "The CNN journalist is a fictitious character". Based on what I think of CNN, that line holds a whole different meaning for me. Cool movie though, very entertaining.

Wouldn't it be appropriate to celebrate the Day of The Turkey with some movie turkeys? A movie geek's poetic justice, as it were. Try Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost. Dumb describes it mildly. A premise of potential is wasted in a film that was made "with the blessings of shri shatrughan sinha, smt poonam sinha", offers "sincere thanks to mr amitabh bachchan (for the opening voiceover) and mrs jaya bachchan", is dedicated to "pahlaj and neeta nihalani", features the obnoxious Chunkey Pandey, includes cleavage-that-passes-off-for-acting called Lara Dutta, has Abhishek Bachchan veering dangerously close to cloning his father's performances and never really bettering them, has meaningless S&D interludes backed by pathetic songs that offer a red carpet to the FF button, features a lot of people from the cast of Lagaan, includes a BPL TV (that even showcases a BPL ad at one point), has clips from Aankhen (a.Nganaa me.n baabaa), Raja Hindustani, Kaala Sona, Jaani Dushman(YEAH! see also: experiences: phases I, II and III), Jaanbaaz (pyaar do pyaar lo), Ramayan, Mahabharat, and a movie with Hemant Birje dressed up as Superman carrying Kimi Katkar around (not sure if it was Dharam-paaji's Superman). The film had a potential to be a postmodern western (the only things that even retained my interest as it turned out were Dayashankar Pandey's fantasy excursions paying homage to Feroz Khan in Kaala Sona). Especially notable as rotten-tomato prizewinners are the rather pointless starry introductions afforded to the characters of Dutta (a random dance that serves as an assets advertisement) and Bachchan (something better fitting a horror film). The needlessly violent climax fails as a poor attempt to do a Sam Peckinpah, and even contains a straight lift from Mirch Masala (minus the sociological impact of the source!). Strictly avoidable.

Chaar Maharathi is the stuff that made Zee Cinema appealing. The print was bad on this Mithun starrer, which also featured Om Shivpuri (also credited for the story idea) as John, Amjad Khan as "Professor" Shakti Singh (supposedly a criminologist!), Kadar Khan as "Ustad" Suleiman, the ever irritating Tina Munim as Phool (yep, you read that right!), the heinous Asha Parekh, Bharat Bhushan, Chandrashekhar and Raza Murad in a pre-credit cameo as Mithun's ill-fated father. Characters interestingly change names in the movie: Bharat Bhushan character goes from being Ramesh to Rajesh; and Mithun's childhood name seems to change from Rohit to Raja/Rajinder. Some nice pieces of dialogue though: aurat aur zamiin apane a.ndar sab kuchh chhupaa detii hai.n; and the following destined for Mithuniana:

(ustad bhiku): seTh, mujhase paise maa.Ngane waale kaa mai.n sab kuchh jalaa detaa huu.N
(mithun): sab kuchh to bahut duur kii baat hai. pahale apanii ##cigarette## jalaa ke to bataa

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Gazal for the day {aka: with so few people in the office, do you really expect me to manage to achieve something?}

The shaayar for the hour is Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. And the work is aah ko chaahiye ik umr asar hone tak (or hote tak, depending on how much of a purist you want to be). I was lucky to listen to renditions by Jagjit Singh, Ghulam Ali and Beghum Akhtar thanks to And the translations and commentary from the Divan-e-Ghalib page (a wondrous achievement by Frances Pritchett) were most enlightening.
bits and peace

In Technology Has Us So Plugged Into Data, We Have Turned Off (Wall Street Journal | November 11, 2003) Dennis K Berman writes about a new plague of inattention that is spreading called "surfer's voice": -- a habit of half-heartedly talking to someone on the telephone while simultaneously surfing the Web, reading e-mails, or trading instant messages. On one end of the phone is an annoyed colleague or family member discussing an important topic. On the other end, a party puts on a meager soundtrack of knowing participation: "OK ... uh-hum ... right ... OK." It is punctuated with surreptitious tapping of a keyboard. The brainy people who study these things call this phenomenon "absent presence.". I have been (and will unfortunately continue to be) guilty of this myself, although I'd have to add hacking out and building lines of code to the list of simultaneous activities.

Aditya adds to his list of nice little posts with a fresh addition that reviews Jagjit Singh's Close to my Heart, and describes the rubaa_ii. This is the first time I heard of the show Pop kii Aa.ndhii, and I must say I'm still rocking in my chair at the pun.

From rmim {original post}:

hey hey!

me again, the white boy who works at a south asian tv station.

can someone help me? on the show india top 10 on B4U one of the songs
in the top 3 or 4 is by this girl with a totally perfect face. i don't
know her name or the name of the song. all i can tell is that she wears
the traditional indian gear with a big nose ring in the video and after
she sings what i think is the chorus she shakes her body real fast. she
has a perfect smile and face. what is her name? hope this helps.

sorry to be a bother about these things all the time but it's the south
asian women's fault for being so hot all the time. yeah.


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

hey joe

After sampling the first CD of Sixty Six to Timbuktu, I clearly wanted to sample the second as well. The only recourse I had came from sound bytes online. These included a fragment of Plant's searing cover of Hey Joe. The most famous version arguably comes from Jimi Hendrix. I also know Deep Purple covered it (don't have the cut though). So I set out doing a little Internet searching to dig up the roots of the song. The AMG page included a little blurb: a wailing version of Billy Roberts' "Hey Joe" (recorded in 1967 and rivaling the emotional wallop of Jimi Hendrix's version recorded that same year).. Searching for Billy Roberts on AMG didn't come to much. The Covers Project had more information about other people covering the song. Seems like The Leaves were there first, although they had neither writing nor composing credit. So it was back to Google. And lo and behold, I wasn't alone. There's actually a website dedicated to the song, which hosts a growing list of covers. There goes my search. Now all I have to do is track down these different versions and make my own mix CD. At least there's still something I can do.

Monday, November 24, 2003


R. I. P. Uma Devi (better known as Tun Tun) who passed away today at the age of 80. Survived by a legacy of films and a brief career as a playback singer (we all know about afasaanaa likh rahii huu.N).

Branding continues to dominate filmmaking in Bollywood

Yana Gupta deserves kudos for getting her goals realistically straight: She's aiming for a record for the most item numbers in films...

muse-ick! {previous in thread}

Anu Malik and Javed Akhtar team up again (read: Refugee, Border) for J P Dutta's LoC: Kargil or LoC. Whatever. I didn't expect anything but the long-winded overstaying unexciting stuff that Malik dished out in Border and Refugee (all the good moments were short-lived; and the latter went on to snag Malik a National Award thus sending his ego to unmentionable limits!). Wasn't wrong. Sadly. siimaa_e.N bulaa_e.N has pretty much the same instrumentation (after all if JPD wants to inflict a trilogy of borderline -- no pun intended -- movies, why should Malik not indulge in the same arrangements) with the same dismal enthusiasm of the mainstream playback singers. On and on it goes. Shreya and Kneegum present pyaar bharaa giit -- another overlong song complete with trite high points and Rafi-esque soundscapes redeemed only by a backing male vocal riff and some strange sitar riffing that brings up the welcome coda. If you haven't already figured out by now, the melodies are strangely similar to Malik's previous efforts for Dutta. mai.n kahii.n bhii rahuu.N will probably be my pick -- to be more precise the catchy opening vocal riff in diip cha.ndii before the male singers wreak havoc. Everyone else except Nigam and Udit (to a lesser degree) seems to summon enough heart and verve required. Kush rahanaa has a nice guitar riff as its spine. Everything else is irritating jingoism waiting for the next song in the list. ek saathii aur bhii thaa has Nigam again. 'Nuff said from my end at least. And then two instrumentals for afficionados to karaoke to (although Before We Forget --- siimaa_e.N with its raag des touches was appealing enough). Someone should study this CD for useful compression techniques employed to retain all the tracks on a single disc! And could we just stop churning out crap like this. Please?

Indiafm has a more enthusiastic review ("[this track] should bring tears to the eyes when seen on screen"). I won't even bother to relish the irony in that line.

At the music release party, Dutta had this to say about Akhtar and Malik: "As far as my music is concerned, Javed Sahab is my right hand, because Javed Sahab always does things right. And Anu Malik is my left hand without which I cannot do because I am a lefty!".

The Malini/Deols pose for a photograph at the music release party. The photograph could serve as a good publicity shot for a horror movie about a cannibalistic mother and daughter who dance and sing to lure their prey ...
hema and esha from Hindustan Times

on how i changed my mind about piedmont park

Saturday Nov 22 and Sunday Nov 23, 2003 should be recorded in Atlanta history as starkly misaligned days of springy weather in winter. It was to celebrate this bright wonderful event that I ended up in Piedmont Park on Sunday afternoon with friends. The only time I've been here has been for the Atlanta Jazz Festival, which happens to the right side of the park (point of reference: looking at the main entrance at Piedmont and Charles Allen Drive). The left side is where the park really opens out as a park. It's not as bad a place as the 10th St view or the sparseness of the right side (during the concerts) make it out to be (for me at least). Expect recommendations from me the next time around. And now, Monday morning is here with dark, grey overcast skies spitting rain like nobody's business.
ignoble borders

Chanced to visit Borders on Ponce last Saturday and I was appalled to see the transformation. The store has been rearranged and remodelled to uncannily resemble a Barnes and Noble. The horror, the horror! A set of large dark bargain shelves at the entrance replace all the little bargain carts scattered about the place. The new scan-and-listen system (another B&N nugget) is admittedly nice (allowing me to sample Sixty Six to Timbuktu), but I found nothing that interested me anymore. Pity. Wish they'd just knock prices down, so I don't have to keep trolling used stores and portals.
we bury our sins, we wash them clean ... in the mystic

I am pleased to announce mystic river as another Eastwood success. Admittedly, I am a fan of the man, so I went in with a certain level of comfort expecting the patient undulating tone of the film. In fact, I'd contend that this pace adds an extra level of uneasiness to the pivotal pre-climactic scene. Based on Dennis Lehane's bestseller (which has already moved onto my long to-read list), and embellished by a score by the director himself, this is a fine ensemble. All is forgiven for Sean Penn's "Oscar-pitched" Sam Dawson, as he adds every bit of menace, pain and Catholic guilt and retribution to the character of Jimmy Markum. Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laura Linney, Marcia Gay Harden, and Laurence Fishburne provide other stellar examples in fine acting. This film is a clear runner for the Oscars, which makes me glad (for Eastwood) and sad (because of what I really think the naked man with the sword is really worth!). About the only time Eastwood and editor Cox seem to slip (and perhaps a little too badly) is the add-on scenes after what might have been a good time to end the film and before the end credits roll. But that's a minor grouse. Boston never looked so beautiful, or darkly sinister. And there's great production design from the dependable Henry Bumstead. Eastwood fans will also smile at Eli Walach's cameo as the liquor store owner.

Friday, November 21, 2003

updated googlism

Auto-Ego-Googlism gives me richer results than the last time around. Apart from the ego-boosting hails of cool, great, natural, moving, gorgeous(!), and "a winner" we have some ticklers:

george is a large part of our problem

george is written in perl

george is now bouncing around alaska

george is released from hospital by kevin patton (who he?)

george is changing the environment

george is a punter of screenarts.

I am the One.

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