Saturday, August 30, 2003

a morning with padma talwalkar {poster PDF}

Emory University - White Hall (which is about as white as the walls of my room -- which are not white, just in case you were wondering). Saturday, August 31, 2003. 0900. Perfect synchronization, great improvisation. What more can one ask for? Usha Balakrishnan, a student of Padma-taai lent tanpura and vocal support (and their voices in unison rung wonderfully), Milind Pote (again) on tabla had studied under Pt Padma-taai's husband Pandit Suresh Talwalkar and Saugata Bannerjee on Harmonium, are on the faculty of the Pandit Jasraj School of Music in Atlanta. With such strong links, a splendid time was guaranteed for all. Ahir Bhairav, Jaunpurii, Bilaawal, Khamaaj. A Ganapati bhajan in Lalat, in response to a request for something on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturtii. She then politely asked, "can I sing a Marathi bhajan?". Considering that most of the audience was ghaaTii, this was a mere formality, and Padma-taai combined the practice of ending with Bhairavii with this request, giving us a rousing rendition of vaikunThiichyaa raayaa. Probably the closest I got to celebrating any festival in the US of A.
darna mana hai: again (WARNING: spoilers)

burning question: Did Prawaal Raman intentionally leave a hole in the ending of the film? We never see Romi (Gaurav Kapur) being killed. In fact, the last we see of him is when he heads out back to the van. The next moment marks the entry of Sushant Singh, who has been sitting outside the shelter for a while (a fact backed by some P-O-V camera earlier). Although SS insists that he has killed all their other friends, I don't see how he had time to kill Romi, unless he had telekinetic powers. SS's character even falters on the body count at one point ("6 or 7" he says). When the police officer reports back, he says that they have found 6 bodies. We have a grand total of 8. That means 2 bodies unaccounted for (can't see which ones they missed, considering the close radius of all the ugly goings-on). And then, at the end, when all the friends assemble in spirit (pun! pun!), Romi is the one missing. Subtle Sequel possibilities? Yes, Darna Zaroori Hai has been announced, but I think I'm just overreacting.

Friday, August 29, 2003

successors to chicken fry {refresh context}

* Anu Malik's meaningless (did he really think they were cool?) interjections in aisaa kyo.n hotaa hai from Kuch to hai (also famous for dil ding dong ding dole)

* Pyaar hogaa, a Ganapatii-beat song from Anu Malik (again) from Imtihaan (a decent Malik album, by the way), which boasts some really atrocious lyrics
enter the prize

Finally, I repeat finally, I got my prize (well, part of it) for winning an R D Burman birth anniversary contest on Sulekha. My first DVD at that: a compilation of Asha Bhosle songs -- including, predictably, two non-Asha songs. I'm sure copyrights were the first thing tossed out of the window, but at least I now have a DVD of my own. Most of the songs are R D Burman compositions, and mostly standard-fare.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

what my friends are up to ...

Manish Gupte, classmate of mine from GCOEP, is making splashes back home. Working for Persistent Systems (my first employer and a really awesome place to work in Pune) {that's the prominent IT firm in Pune mentioned in the article I have linked to} and moonlighting in Game Theory, he is now set to use that in reformulating HR policies. Great going Manish. {link courtesy: Seejo}

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

silver jubilee in films for lal/ bergman @ NFAI

Versatile actor and star (see, tough to have both!) Mohan Lal celebrates 25 years in cinema this year and, contrary to its aversion to star cults (unlike the cults elsewhere dedicated to Rajini-saar, for instance), Kerala, or at least part of it, will be honouring him with a week-long celebration. This will also celebrate the Padmashree conferred two years ago, which went by sans jollity because of his brother's passing away. {more} {rediff celebration}

The National Film Archives of India, conveniently (for me, in the past, at least) located in Pune, is running a Bergman festival starting today. Wonder if this has anything to do with the move to promote Sweden in Pune.

blogger woes

{see also: last rant}

Blogger goes and does it yet again -- someone's been playing with Dano again, and now if I log on via Mozilla (as I have been doing these last couple of months), I get some acid-washed-out badly formatted poor excuse for an edit console. Needless to say, it opens fine in Internet Explorer. Although they have moved from IIS to Apache following the Google acquisition, they are still serving off a Windows box and are designing for all users on Windows machines. I really wish Moveable Type had its own hosting space.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

so far away ...

Yesterday, twin blasts rocked Bombay bringing back nasty memories of 1993. More and more bodies are being recovered. While friends, foes, and families condemn the events and mourn the lost ones. While politicians do the needful by condemning the act. While the expected fingers begin pointing at our friendly neighbour even before waiting for the evidence to do the job for them. Distance has dulled the impact of the event for me, I must admit, but I can still sense the horror I would have experienced had I been back home in Pune. A lot of what happened in the aftermath of 9/11 is happening here: there are reports that the police had information that such an event might occur, about the failure of communication, ongoing investigations, and once again, more about the internally fragmented police force.

Perhaps the sanest comment on the whole event comes from former super-cop Julio Ribeiro: ... there is a ray of hope. Within hours, mohalla committee members were actively moving around sensitive areas. Communal hatred is a people's issue and intelligent citizens must come together to solve it. The strength of Mumbai was visible in 1993, when within 24 hours, capital markets bounced back. I'm sure it'll happen again, only if politicians don't reduce themselves for calling for a stupid thing called a bandh.

music-o-festation {previous note}

Anu Malik "reuses" the bass riff from The Real McCoy's Another Night, Another Day in dosatii ho ga_ii re for Aaghaaz. He recycles aajaa piyaa (khushi) aka koii jaaduu nahii.n kiyaa (mujhe kuch kehna hai) in solah si.ngaar for Filhaal. Mere dil jigar se guzaraa hai from Soldier starts off like ek garam chaay kii pyaalii ho from Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega.
lib haul

movies. movies. movies. DVDs. DVDs. DVDs.

Roman Coppola's (that's FFC's son) directorial début CQ, a send-up of 60s skiffies (including the camp classic Barbarella) , Francis Ford Coppola, Roger Corman, Modesty Blaise and 81/2.

Spielberg's Kubrick-ian ode to Stanley Kubrick, AI (2 DVDs -- 1 for the movie, and another for special features, if you survive the movie)

Kurosawa's Yojimbo

Monday, August 25, 2003

i think, therefore I am: The Thirteenth Floor (SPOILER WARNING)

A movie about a simulation within a simulation. Sound familiar?. Opening with Descartes' I think, therefore I am, the film is based on Daniel F. Galouye's 1964 novel Simulacron-3 (Counterfeit World), which was reportedly more political in nature (which would explain Fassbinder's television adaptation Welt am Draht of the book) than technological.
cover of the Galouye book

Vincent D'Onofrio (as the geek Jason Whitney), last seen in Full Metal Jacket, and Armin Mueller-Stahl grab top honours, while Gretchen Mol does best what precious little she gets to do. Craig Bierko sleepwalks through his part (just like Reeves in The Matrix series) looking like George Clooney, and occasionally getting the right expression on his face. Dennis Haysbert is effective as the persistent Detective McBain. The SFX (especially in the denouement) seem dated and understated, but the real strength of the film is it's genre-drenched narrative. The director's commentary reveals director Josef Rusnak's artistic distaste for spectacle and narrative brevity as he cites several instances where preview screenings and producer Roland Emmerich's (who directed Independence Day and Godzilla) explanations of the "need for the audience to see it". Thankfully, it doesn't let us down. The chopper shots of LA night buildings with the lights collaborating to conjure illusions that would be tougher to do with CGI are a treat. Unforgiveably, the theatrical trailer actually gives away most of the film's surprise elements. On the plus side, it does include a few seconds of footage that would not make it into the film. In terms of spectacle and SFX, this film does not hold a candle to the Matrix films. The budget has a lot to do with it. However, the story and plot have a stronger foundation (a novel in this case), with no need to pander to geek sentimentalities. Worth a dekko. Also included on the DVD is the video for the end credit song Erase/Rewind by The Cardigans from their album Gran Turismo.

ICMS: Dr. Alaka Deo Marulkar

A wonderful evening-to-night of music courtesy ICMS. Dr Marulkar was accompanied by Milind Pote on tabla and Haresh Bakshi on harmonium. Since neither was part of her regular entourage, they had to adjust and accomodate, which is usually a good way to weed out the incapables. Pote made the transition admirably, but Bakshi left a lot to be desired in the speed and innovation departments. Such minor quibbles aside (including the fact that the programme took off 45 minutes late, pursuant to the needs of Indian Stretchable Time and a late and overlong intermission), I got a good introduction to Raag PaTa Bihaag (a confluence of PaTadiip and Bihaag).

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

music mix: old, not too old {previous note}

Vijaypath represented the kind of songs that Anu Malik could churn out at ease, in his sleep. Catchy melodies, repeated phrases, turnarounds that benefitted from tab completion, the occasional innuendo, lightweight instrumentation (instead of the SJ/LP-influenced assembly-line product from Nadeem-Shravan infested with raucous dholaks).

Lata says etabaar instead of aitabaar in pyaar ko ho jaane do, a duet with Kumar Sanu for Dushman. AFAIK, that's not kosher. Of course, I hate hearing her voice in the 90s anyways, but I think I'm being objective on this count.

Baby-face Sonu Nigam tries to look cool on screen again(!!) in Love in Nepal (shall we call this a horror flick or a comedy?). Predictably he dominates the soundtrack for the film. He hasn't had too many problems with pronunciation in the past, yet he insists on singing kayaal instead of Kayaal (I'm using ITrans notation, by the way). What gives?

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

the power of fandom

Universal Music India (who not too long ago acquired the MIL/Polydor catalogue) agreed to issue a limited release of a combo CD comprising the late RD Burman's compositions for Chala Murari Hero Banne (Asrani's directorial début featuring the wonderfully melancholy Kishore Kumar solo naa jaane din kaise) and Shubh Kamna (a K Vishwanath product, with the wonderful hawaa ye prabhaatii in Raag Charukeshi by Lata). And all this in response to requests from Pancham fans. {more on RDBlog}

Monday, August 18, 2003

teen deewarein: best of 2003 {official site}

Enslaved by three walls,
The fourth, a barrier in my will.
Break it I must, leaving behind a hollowness,
Sighs and screams begging to be free.
But free I am, free is my mind

Finally, Nagesh Kukunoor gifts himself a great script, which lets his directorial talents loose. A story of three prisoners on death row and an oppressed housewife who is working on a documentary revolving around these three prisoners in a prison run by a pragmatic jailor, and a little twist in the tale. Wonderful movie. Naysayers and observant people alike have noted the common gene pool it shares with Stephen King's Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (which was adapted by Frank Darabont in one of the most lyrical prison dramas of the last decade). However, such comparisons are incidental, and don't do much to harm this film. The film has everything going for it: the excellent Naseeruddin Shah as the smooth-talking Ishaan; director Nagesh Kukunoor as the splendidly funny Nagya (other reviewers have noted that NK is a better director than an actor -- let this not indicate that Nagya cannot act: watch him in the promo spot he did for Raksha, and then watch him as an optimistic Hyderabadi and you can see how capable he is; Jackie Shroff in a good turn as the repentant Jaggu (a nod at Jackie's nickname previously exploited in several mainstream movies); Juhi Chawla, excelling as the documentary filmmaker Chandrika who has to deal with an oppressive husband (Vallabh Vyas in a great little role); Gulshan Grover in his greatest role as the jailor of the prison; Aditya Lakhia lending his all to a little role as Malli. A great background score from Salim-Suleiman complete with a motive undercutting the events of the film. Good dialogues. Oh, skip all this praise. Go watch the film. For the record, I loved the end as well (something that a few reviewers have had issues with).

Related: on the sets of the film

What's Nagya up to now? Tandoor, India's first food film (a genre exemplified by movies like Like Water, for Chocolate; Babette's Feast; Belle Epoque), with the Big B to boot. All the best to NK, along with hopes that he will be patient with his writing.

Personal note: Time to catch Mathulikal again. WHOOPS! That should read Mathilukal. Didn't mean to indulge in a intra-verbal spoonerism with my mother tongue. Thanks Karthik. {more about the movie}

addendum: The rediff review has good things to say about it but includes the following line: Welcome to mainstream filmmaking, Mr Kukunoor. We know you are here to stay.. I have issues with classifying this as mainstream filmmaking. It's still economic and indie, despite the presence of big names. I pray that Nagya avoids all temptation to plunge into mainstream cinema to dish out sour grapes like Nihalani with Takshak or Benegal with Zubeidaa.

smash palace {title surreptitiously borrowed from Roger Donaldson's 1981 chiller}

Sitting on a lay-z-boy sipping soda (Coke, since this is Atlanta) and chomping away at Doritos and Ruffles. Dancing to tunes from Govinda and Mithun starrers. Executing Ganapati-naach manoeuvres. Watching people get smashed -- on beer, malibu, shots of tequila. Looking in awe at the rapidly receding level of a large bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label. Staring in amazement at a dude sitting at the end of a couch high on malibu solving the Rubik's cube, his hands tracing through practised smooth effortless waveforms as he slid the layers into position, one by one. Indulging in Nilu Phule imitations. Relishing rice, daal, and chicken curry. Staring in horror as the wooden floor vibrated threateningly with each massively executed pithy dance move.

Friday, August 15, 2003

NY blackout

Bogged down by work (the stuff that I get paid for), I missed most of the excitement[sic] about the massive power shutdown up north, especially New York. Friends told me about things they had seen on TV news reports and one thing struck me in particular: they talked about people getting out cars, walking even on the freeway. And the first thing that popped into my head was the wonderful video for R. E.M's Everybody Hurts.
Independent India is 56 and this is our 57th independence day

having surpassed the 1 billion mark ... in population in 1999, we have less cause for celebration. While rains doused out some of the enthusiasm greeting AB Vajpayee's address to the nation, the large turnout in Kashmir is heartening. Incidentally, Vajpayee also became (predictably) the first PM to recite his own lines at the Red Fort.

Patriotism and jingoism have been common themes in Bollywood. Dr Vaidyanathan takes a closer look as does Allen O'Brien.

Mr Bharat Manoj Kumar looks back at the making of Shaheed.

And on the downside: Vivek Mushran is slated to make his singing début

Thursday, August 14, 2003

the horror/the horror

It was some night in front of the idiot box. There was a preview running. Ben Affleck. Ugh, I say. Paycheck was the name. No bells ringing. Looked like a strict assembly line action flick. Directed by John Woo. Figures. Turns out (as I find out today) it's based on a Philip K Dick story. Now I'm aghast. And I don't seem to be alone. [what is the story/film all about?]

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

happy birthday Hitch

It gives me great pleasure to see Google join me in wishing the late great Sir Alfred Hitchcock a very happy birthday. He would have turned 104 today. What other director would merit a question like What's your favourite Hitchcock film?.

google 2003 hitchcock birthday logo

A report on noisy golf fans takes the Hitchcock angle too far by offering an analogy to his film Notorious: "Notorious" is a terrific old Alfred Hitchcock flick that featured Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. It was loaded with nuance. The two most notorious golf holes on the PGA Tour are arguably the 16th at the TPC of Scottsdale and the 17th at Warwick .

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

bookshelf snapshot

Looking up at the bookshelf I see that I have my new additions from the library to deal with: A Sanskrit Grammar for Students by Arthur MacDonell (which I must return, for I don't think I can muster the patience to match my initial enthusiasm), Analog Days (a book about the history and importance of the Moog synthesizer), and William Safire's Let a Simile be your Umbrella, another collection of this language maven's excursions into the fine and very-very-fine matters of the English language.

Addendum from the future: Later in the evening, I added a few more volumes to the sagging shelf: Harmony (a very readable text by Walter Piston, released in a fifth edition with edits from Mark Devoto), Knowing the Score (a set of interviews conducted by David Morgan with different contemporary film composers about their work) [review], Ultra Lounge: The Lexicon of Easy Listening by Dylan Jones (being an interesting look at the genre of easy listening music).


Mark Pilgrim provides a subjective, yet horrifyingly close-to-the-truth guide to installing Windows XP in 5 hours or less [Every installation of Windows naturally degrades along a logarithmic curve until it becomes annoying, then unbearable, then unusable. Each successive revision of Windows has featured a slightly longer half-life. ].

A look at the life and times of Bhisham Sahni, who passed away recently.

Ringing true to my view of his combine as a syndicate, RGV is now inviting stories ... and there's money to be earned too!

Sean Connery is all set to speak Tamil ...

Monday, August 11, 2003

movie (in)fest(ation)

One of those massive movie weekends. Four films: three in a row, and the fourth after some obligatory shuteye.

Sparsh:The Touch: This is the kind of movie a B-flick afficionado such as yours truly lives for. When a search on Google gives you no leads, you know you have a little B-nugget on your hands. Picked up this innocent tape from the Indian store last weekend. I'd like to name a new genre of B-movies called Haryana Horror, being horror-esque flicks made of, for and by the people of Haryana. The story (laughter begins) is old hat: a random la femme is paid physically demanding (and sometimes publicly embarassing) visits by an unseen entity (the pun is intended) [see also: Hawa]. The acting is stale, the dialogue staler, and the sets define new nadirs in tacky. The only recognisable faces are Kiran Kumar (who appears in the final quarter as an exorcist mouthing terrible lines) and this other actor I've seen before playing mean guys on TV and the big screen. Wish my memory would serve me better. The songs are a howl as well, although I actually liked a little variation in the standard boy-girl-night-time-seduction number.

Satte Pe Satta: Little to say about the classic Bollywood adaptation of the premise and content of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Traces of Hema's south indian roots are more evident in her dialogue. Ranjeeta still looks cute. The Big B manages (once again) to lend some believability to proceedings that go from zany, to funny, to mundane, to boring, to tiresome (clichés never hold up against the passage of time). Cool songs from R D Burman (the title song uses the melody of the theme from The Longest Day) as well as a couple of background music riffs that since have been endlessly reused and abused in other Bollywood fare. TRIVIA NOTE: If you ever wondered how RDB came up with that cool signature tune for Babu (the second Big B), here's something for you: RDB was working on the background score for the film and Annette (whose voice can be heard on Dilabar mere) was also in the same studio for another recording. She was clearing her throat with some salt water gargles, when RDB heard her and in a stroke of genius used that in a loop to concoct a catchy signature for Babu. Suspension of disbelief note: Hema's southie speaking accent and ghaaTii singing accent (thanks to Asha B).

Encounter: The Killing: I saw Naseeruddin Shah's name in the cast on the white sleeve strip of the videotape and I began to think "Is this another Guru Mahaguru?" (translation: was this another indie effort that was capitalizing on some big/familiar names?). But this was far from true. The film enjoys a good premise: Inspector Sam Bharucha (Shah in a great destined-to-be-underrated turn as a Parsi cop -- interesting!), who has never killed anyone in his life, has to deal with the death of a hired gun. His search for the parents of the kid takes him (and us) on a strange voyage of discovery. Dilip Prabhawalkar is excellent as the bizarre Ponappa Awadhe, but the character is interesting only as an acting exercise and doesn't fit too well in the film (and giving him a stupid gheuu_n Taak-beat song was a bad bad idea). This is a problem with most of the other turns by famous names like Ratna Pathak Shah, Akash Khurana, Tara Deshpande (irritating as ever, but probably put in for some cheap ogle thrills). There's this very grating young lady who plays RPS's daughter. And there's veteran character actor Suman Mastakar sleepwalking through the role of a frustrated freedom fighter. There's one half-decent song, but the rest is fodder for the fast-forward button. An interesting character is one of the hired guns who apes Nana Patekar (and does it convincingly too!). The real problem with this film is length and a loose script. Had the makers taken care of these trivial[sic] aspects, we would have had a decent entry (or 'crossover film' as they refer to them these days) in the indie space. Oh, by the way, the film even has its own website (another Flash-o-rama). [synopsis] [this and other cop movies] [review of this film, formerly known as prashnachinha]

American Chai: talking to director anurag mehta and lead actor aalok mehta

Thursday, August 07, 2003

new music reviews {previous edition}

Raja Bhaiya: The next Govinda film in the pipeline. Chi chi bhaiya has been having so many flops lately, he's grabbed the Mumbai rights for this film and is aggressively promoting it. Govinda fans will note that he plays a Bengali for the first time. The story (did you have to even ask?) overdoes the been-there-done-that syndrome to death. The model going through the "demanding" motions in this film is Miss India Worldwide 2000 Aarti Chhabria. After being overloud in APD, she can't really expect to do much can she? On to the music. The songs on this album are strictly (sub)standard Nadeem Shravan "dhin-chaka; dha-chika" fare. Govinda, in his bid to do all he can for the film, steps before the mike after a long while, to add some zing to an otherwise mundane routine tune with pedestrian lyrics. Wonder why NS are back in business? They seem to have inherited all the wrong, boring, tiresome, soporific traits of their influences Shankar-Jaikishen and Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Grief. Sunidhi Chauhan still sounds fine in the horrendous "Don't Touch" (which incidentally reuses a sound sample that ARR looped in the opening of Thilana Thilana). They should have changed the lyrics to gheun Taak instead of don't touch. And is her duet partner Arvinder Singh the same guy responsible for Paani Sharaab Mein?

Ek Alag Mausam: Good title there. This is the Anupam Kher, Nandita Das, Rajit Kapur film about AIDS, directed by K P Sasi. It is only one of several slated low-key releases of the year. The music director is -- good old Ravi, who despite composing memorable tunes in Hindi films never got his due, and then had the last laugh by trumping three National Awards for songs he composed for Malayalam cinema. The first song Har Taraf (unfortunately sung by the dismal Anuradha Paudwal) is a good indication of the old wine: very very reminiscent of Ravi's tunes of yore (and unfortunately the children's chorus goes out of tune near the end). Ravi goes mildly electronic -- complete with disco sitar -- with the next song that marks the return of the painful voice of Nalin Dave (who made a disastrous splurge thanks to LP with aatii nahii.n -- was he talking about his singing abilities? -- in Prem), in tandem with Mohini Singh. The song, Safe Sex, may be lauded at best for its intentions -- otherwise you can skip this corny ditty. The next song Tara Rum Pum continues in the vein of most old Ravi songs mixed with an attempt at upgrading for the new generation. Sadly, Usha Krishnadas is not a very good singer. And there's little in the song that will hold your attention. And when Anupam Kher decides to sing, there's only one thing you can do -- well, two. (1) Scream "No!" (2) Yell "Next!". Tho.Daa pyaar had me humming Stand By Me, perhaps because of the chord progression. Nalin Dave sounds a little better this time. Gautam Sharma (who, if I am not mistaken, is the son of Pyarelal of LP fame) joins him for this one. GS is also responsible for a pop album called Funky Funky. And the female vocal riff in one of the interludes sent me back to the sessions recorded on No Quarter. A little instrumental pops up next. Skip. Hariharan steps up next with a 3/4 song usakii baarii (the situation [perhaps]: someone in the film just succumbed to AIDS). The melody is familiar, in an oh-so sort of way. I even got the feeling that this was a song meant for Yesudas. Another 3/4 song is next: usako paane se pahale, with Hariharan again. Mild and pleasant, and yes, gnawingly familiar yet again, and the song I keep thinking of the most is ghu.ngaruu kii tarah. Perhaps it's because of raag jhinjhoti. An Anuradha Paudwal version follows (boo!).

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

getting facts straight

Screen recently had a little blurb (ripped off from an old interview elsewhere) about Anu Malik's genius ( ... "a contradiction in terms"). The reporter (a certain M. A. Khan) who gathered/researched/filched/copied-and-pasted this information clearly had absolutely no clue whatsoever about hindustani classical music. Or perhaps it was the typesetter. Here's the extract (I've added colours to indicate the faux pas and underlined text that might offer some avenues for giggling): looking at Anu Malik's work to date proves his versatility. From the popular 'Yeh kaali kaali ankhen...' (Baazigar) to the class 'Paanchi nadiyaa pawan ke jhoke...'(Refugee), he has shown his vast range. It has to do with his genes, being the son of composer Sardar Malik, since Anu himself has declared that he has not got any formal training in music. His father never encouraged him to his profession since he had to struggle a lot. So how did Anu acquire the skill? "Well, it's God's gift," says the composer, "I had this 'rare' ability to compose a tune, though I never knew the ragas on which they were based. Even today, it's the same. Tunes just come to me."

One such tune that came to him was for J.P. Dutta's Refugee. The song 'Aisa lagta hai...' was instrumental in getting Anu the National Award for the Best Music Director. Though the composer himself was unaware of the ragas he used in this particular song, his father Sardar Malik pointed out to him that he had come up with a 'rare composition' that was an amalgamation of Raag Yemen and Raag Bihar. The line 'Aisa lagta hai dil yeh mera khone ko hai...' is in Raag Yaman, while the next line 'Warna dil kyon dhadakta...' is based on Raag Bihar.

It's not too difficult to figure out that Raag Yemen is nothing but Raag Yaman (thankfully the reporter/typesetter/both) corrected the gaffe in the second instance. And there ain't no such thing as Raag Bihar. The closest correction is actually the correct one: Raag Bihag.

On a related note: a better source (and for me, a more plausible source, since tunes "come" to Anu Malik) for aisaa lagataa hai is the a.ntaraa of din pyaar ke aa_e.Nge [ISB lyrics] (R D Burman) from Saveray Wali Gadi.

Another Anu Malik quote

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

google: indian style

Google has launched a sister site in India in Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi and English. For best results, check out the button text in Marathi.
mr and mrs iyer {official website}

At long last, I finally managed to watch the whole film, and it's a great catharsis. This is the kind of film that Roja could have been had Mr Ratnam chosen to make an honest film instead of succumbing to the commercial trappings of songs and jingoism (NOTE: I have nothing about ARR's wonderful soundtrack for the film, I just have issues with mainstreamlining -- aah, patent-worthy word that -- the issue of communal and territorial terrorism). The background score and songs are composed by Ustad Zakir Hussain, and the film has several examples of great inserts, something that most mainstream background score composers in Bollywood (not sure about the rest of Indian cinema these days, sorry) fail to understand. The plaintive voice of Ustad Sultan Khan lends lament to the words of Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi. Konkona Sen Sharma lives up to 'being Aparna Sen's daughter' by wonderfully portraying an orthodox Iyer wife who has to unlearn and 'loosen up'. Rahul Bose, restrained and understated as ever, is perfect as Jehangir 'Raja' Chowdhury in this conflict of values and beliefs set against the backdrop of communal terrorism. The late Bhisham Sahni is at ease with his brief turn as an ill-fated Muslim on the bus. My favourite moments in the film will probably be: the scene in the canteen where Raja and Meenakshi ("it's spelt with a double 'e'") invent stories of their past for the benefit of some annoyingly inquizitive teenagers to keep up the illusion of being husband and wife (and especially for the music insert); the disturbing moments in the forest guesthouse where Meenakshi is overcome with shock at a wanton killing (intelligently left off-screen); the conversation on the train; the final moments when Raja meets the real Mr Iyer. The big plus for the film is that it never succumbs to the lure of the clichéd closure, and stays open. We don't know if Meenakshi and Raja will meet again. Some of us hope they will, some of us won't care. But Aparna Sen smartly leaves that open, giving us viewers the freedom to take away more from the film than we are used to with commercial mainstream tripe. One could cite the quartet of national awards that the film bagged as evidence that the National Awards Committee hasn't lost its taste for good cinema, but it's better to let the laurels slide by. Time alone should prove that this film was worth more than some of its contemporaries. And Santhanam deserves a special award for being a very addictive name for a baby (and kudos to the little starlet as well).

Other reviews: Love amid terrorism
movie still

Monday, August 04, 2003

coal and the pits of mainstream entertainment

Kaala Patthar (Note the typos in the synopsis: 'minors' instead of 'miners'): Friday night movie. Great background score by Salil Chowdhury. The dialogues are strong examples of the kind of stuff Salim-Javed were famous for. The trademark Rajesh Roshan orchestration is evident in most songs, except those meeting the mandatory requirements of a Chopra film (lots of Punjabi-flavoured aural assaults). The best song in the film, ek raasataa hai zi.ndagii (and you wondered where Nadeem Shravan dug to come up with tuu pyaar hai kisii aur kaa), is marred by an unnecessary Lata-fronted female chorus, which portends all those irritating female choruses in future Chopra house productions. The film hasn't aged well: despite having brought in technicians from abroad to handle the mining disaster sequences, they still look very tacky. The editing is sloppy, at best. The only appeal this film has is the nostalgia, aside from trademark performances from the Big B and Shatrughan Sinha (who gets to mouth phrases like merii bholii ba.njaaran and mere taash ke tirpanave patte). The good moments in the film are few. Everything is reminiscent of elements in previous movies written by Salim-Javed (especially Deewar and Trishul). Parikshit Sahni breaks new ground in raising levels of irritation in his turn as a truck driver (he even gets to mouth a Mahendra Kapoor song!). Avid trivia mongers will relish the brief and unrewarding cameos from Sanjeev Kumar and Suresh Oberoi.

Sooraj Barjatya's Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon deserves all the trash and garbage ever hauled up in the world. It is shocking and shameful that a reputed production house (Rajshri Films) has descended below the nadir of sensibility by churning out such an extended sequence of drivel. Here is a bulleted list of what MPKDH has to offer as "entertainment"

*A script that was probably written during an extended fit of constipation and food poisoning, while watching Chitchor

*Music that sounds like a bunch of other Anu Malik songs

*Chitra singing for Kareena Kapoor

*The audacity to map Amol Palekar to Hrithik Roshan,

*Opening credits probably created using an old unsupported version of Microsoft Powerpoint

*A CGI parrot who talks in Hindi film titles (if you watch this film in the US with subtitles, you will enjoy the mapping to English movie titles) [NOTE: unnecessary element]

*A dog whose angry face gets a cheap 2D treatment à la Milo in The Mask[NOTE: unnecessary element]

*Kareena mooning her folks (perhaps paying homage to Madhuri's sassy dance for diidii teraa devar in Hum Aapke Hain Koun...

*Shooting sequences in foreign locations [NOTE: unnecessary element]

*Dialogue so dumb you'll either shoot yourself for being from the same country as all the <censored> morons credited on this film

*Hrithik Roshan is so bad he makes Abhishek Bachchan (with his continually inadequate screen presence) look like the God of acting

*Liberally tossing about the word 'sex' in a pseudo cool nouvelle vague fashion, and hoping that people will think of this movie as progressive (Yeah, right!)

*Acting so loud you'll need the finest quality earplugs to sit through this without blowing up your television set

*Pankaj Kapoor is the only hope of salvation, attempting to lend some sanity to the proceedings. Perhaps, anticipating this, his role is reduced to little intermittent slivers

*A climax so predictable that apart from the people in the movie, everyone can see it coming several miles away

*A bad, unpredictable, and marshy coda (featuring the grating screeching Ruby Bhatia) that has you going it's only a movie ....

*Shooting in Switzerland, and passing it off as Sundernagar, a 'burb of Bombay, is downright ridiculous and insulting

Appalling news: the film strikes gold in the US

External reviews: how MPKDH functions as a multi-genre film

Previous rants: Anu Malik quoted, a 3D parrot, a 2D dog, 2 brainless hunks, one ghastly woman, and a business-wise production family, the barjatya bird returns.

Friday, August 01, 2003


Attended my first ever Oracle Developer Days session yesterday at the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead. The session and the nourishments were free, which meant a whole day of fun and good free food (personal note: three Häagen Dasz chocolate bars are bad bad bad!). There were five presentations followed by a series of matching labs, with timely snack, lunch and bathroom breaks. Very useful and a lot of fun.

The highlight of the day was being able to preview the upcoming release of JDeveloper (9.0.5). This new release is worth most of the wait. The current release ( was a good step forward but has a lot of annoying features (bugs) and sorely lacks several useful developer-friendly features that made me miss Eclipse. Here's a list of what I could uncover:

* Auto-popups to add imports (one of the cool features in Eclipse)

* A set of options to configure Javadoc comments, code structure and error markup (did they integrate Jalopy or try to supersede it?)

* Improved diagramming options with support for UML activity, sequence and use case diagrams

* Thumbnail view for UML modelling

* Wizards for profiling software metrics

* Templates to customize the IDE on an application-to-application basis

* Support for deployment to Tomcat and JBoss

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