Friday, October 31, 2003

forthcoming releases

In addition to the long-delayed Paanch (noted here), there's another example of reusing old film titles. This one called Fun2shh (geek!) goes with the tagline "dudes in the 10th century". The story/synopsis[sic] may be found here. And then there's Kagaar {last mentioned here}.
tehzeeb update {previous post in thread}

The official site of the film is Flash-y. "Love. Affection. Murder. The Perfect Family". The words/phrases drop down one by one in the opening animation. Murder??? Other taglines in the pathetically low-res video clips include "a daughter breaks the rules". And yes, aapako mujhase is a Shabana Azmi song.

And now, the interesting part. Hidden in that predictable Flash show is a note from Khalid Mohamed (for those interested in the navigation, follow this link, click on 'filmmakers' in the bottom bar of the Flash pane, and then get the mouse pointer to hover over 'Director') about the story of the film (titled "Director's Note"). Reproduced here (verbatim with unfortunate typos and grammatical slips, with occasional corrective hints for readability):

The story of Tehzeeb has emerged as much from conversations and interviews with friends and psycho analysts, as from a continuing self probe about one's imagined relationship with a mother whom I cannot remember. She passed away in an air crash when I was two.

Said to be beautiful and larger than life, the absence of a mother's memory, caused me to wonder how I would have reacted to her persona. What is [if] she had become a successful public personality? Would I have been overawed by her? Or would I have challenged her about her responsibilities to the home and the hearth?

Towards the aim, initially I believed an acknowledged remake of Ingmar Bergman's Autumn Sonata would be in order. But as I wrote the screenplay, it became apparent that the story had to arise from me and from the Indian condition. In this task, the inputs of my friend Dr Udayan Patel were invaluable. While working in the idiom of popular cinema, I had to reach my reality of what-could or what-would have been vis-à-vis a son's relationship with his mother.

I have fed also on the lives of several close friends and their relationships, placid or turbulent, with their parents. The result is Tehzeeb.

Dr Udayan Patel is a Bombay psychotherapist, who is also quoted in Nasreen Munni Kabir's Bollywood: The Indian Cinema Story, for example, explaining the wet-sari dance: "The gyrations are repeated and the use of the eyes and lips are suggest overt sexuality. In family entertainment there is no kiss, there is no sex. So sexuality is expressed through dance and the movement of the body drenched by water. The dance movements remind you of sexual intercourse without touching or kissing, The more vulgar movements create erotic fantasies. All heroines have a way of arousing in the audience active sexual fantasises and the more the fantasies, the greater the heroine's success". Swapan Dasgupta's article on "the ugly and dirty Indian" also quotes Dr Patel: Under foreign rule we learnt inhibition, now we "have failed to create a framework for managing desires".

Halloween 2003

Google notches up more cool points with their logo:
Google's logo for Halloween 2003
IMDB has a special gallery of ghouls and gals to mark the moment. My favourite would be the cool trivia-friendly photograph of evil avatar actors Robert Englund, Kane Hodder and Tony Todd on the sets of Wishmaster.

It makes a lot of ironic sense for Peter Jackson to be celebrating his birthday today too. Although he has now reached a wider mainstream and critical audience with the LOTR trilogy (part III comes up in December), he's always going to be (for me) the cool guy responsible for the shot- completely-in-New-Zealand gory laughfests Bad Taste (a few notes here) and Braindead/Dead Alive.

Thursday, October 30, 2003


Trying to figure out what a font is? Identifont allows you to either try to look up a font by keyword or identify a font by answering a series of questions. Get the weather the cool way, by RSS. Try RSSWeather. And All But Forgotten Oldies helps you find popular music from the 60s and 70s. {thanks to Tara Calishain's Research Buzz}
G3 Live 2003: buzzing ears

That's what I took away from the G3 (Satriani, Vai, Malmsteen) concert at the Tabernacle (my first time there) yesterday. Malmsteen was fast, furious, ferocious and over-showy. Vai's act was the most balanced and enjoyable. When Satch came on, the sound levels hit unpleasant highs -- had they even appointed some for sound management?? Although it was great to hear Satch do his hits, the high noise level cast a level of uniform fuzziness to the proceedings. And when the much-awaited jam came up, things just got worse. Recognizing Voodoo Chile (the second Hendrix cover that evening: Malmsteen did Red House in his section), Little Wing and Neil Young's Keep on Rocking in the Free World didn't help matters much. Except for Vai, none could lay claim to showmanship. Which may or may not have mattered too much, but Malmsteen's antics (had he consciously transformed into a bad satire of an 80s guitar player?) did get a bit overdone. To recap what I remember: Yngwie did Evil Eye, Red House (at least it sounded like it!), Baroque and Roll, Concerto Suite. Vai began with a three-necked guitar, and along with lots of electro-sonic excursions, showcased a great performance of Whispering a Prayer. Vai also had the tightest band with everyone chipping in, although my pick for a good drumkit would be the one in Satch's section. What did Satch play? Let's see: Satch Boogie, Cool #9, Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing, Summer Song. Maybe a forgot a couple. While I am glad I didn't miss the event, I just wish my ears would quit ringing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

the limits of free speech

Blogging is liberating: I know that, all my friends who blog know that; all the bloggers I don't know know that. But, there are limits to blogging. A little slip can cost you plenty. Take this example: Michael Hanscom, A Xerox contractor at Microsoft, is a frequent blogger. His blog is called Eclecticism. On October 23, 2003, he made a post titled Even Microsoft wants G5s, which included (a) information about where he worked at MSFT (b) a photograph of the loading deck at the place, and some presumably innocuous lines commenting on the presence of Macs on the MSFT campus. Nothing derogatory. Just simple observations. At 2 pm, on October 27, 2003, he found himself without a job. Although, the sensationally titled post Microsoft fires Mac Fan for Blog Photo spun off a long discussion thread, it seemed to overlook the key issue: This was not about Microsoft hating Macs. This was not about Microsoft hating bloggers. This was a simple security violation. It took on a different form, but (a) and (b) above comprised a faux pas that became fatal for Michael, in a "being employed" sense. It may seem drastic to third-party observers, but one could easily make a strong case for the higher-ups. And Michael does not paint a different picture either. He understood even then how bad it looked, and was ready to make amends. In utopia, he might have had a second chance. The ourse of action that MSFT adopted was unfortunate, but here's wishing Michael the very best in his search for a new position. The trackbacks on his posts offer mixed reactions, the most generally common being outrage at MSFT's action, which has been viewed as "hasty". Would the reactions have been less inflammatory if this had happened in a context other than blogging? Say a more private one?

on the repeated listenability of a song

JR and Harish have been writing about going back to the tunes in ARR's latest effort Tehzeeb {last thread in this blog's obsession with the same}.

So what makes you go back to a song or an album that at first listening didn't really grab you? Here are some reasons that I can think of from experience:

* "When" you heard the song has a lot to do with how you reacted to it. Always. And I believe there's also a second reaction that your subconsciousness registers. This gestates in the mental background and resurfaces as a faint desire to revisit the track/album. It may take more than one repeated listening for the subconscious impression to get a shot at becoming the dominant impression. The strongest final impression triumphs. For the moment.

* Things happen that can change your impression of a song. Perhaps the composer or singer or someone else associated with the song is in the news (perhaps a death), adding some historical (and even nostalgic) context to the song. Perhaps over time different public reactions evinced compel you to return to the song. Perhaps something you find out about the song can change your perspective.

* Time for examples: I've been an R D Burman fan for a while now. This blasts all chances of being objective to smithereens. Which (thankfully) does not imply that I love everything he ever churned out (musically, that is). And I am also constantly on the lookout for more information and background (historical/locational/circumstantial context) that always adds something special to a song: it could augment your preference for a song or swing your opinion around. And this works for all non-RDB music as well. So, while the mainstream adores 1942: A Love Story, I realise that his unfortunate demise that made it his swan song had a lot to do for swinging public opinion (Only the fervent supporters who constantly offered encouragement and promise in print and media for the declining star of R D Burman have some claim to the "I told you so!"). And despite there being several appealing bits to the soundtrack (the dismal state of the film notwithstanding), I find other scores (some popular, some relatively unknown) more appealing. Like mile jhuum ke a reincarnation of a Bengali tune of his for what turned out to be Sanjeev Kumar's last film Professor Ki Padosan. The rarity of the track was one appealing factor. The other was the use of Raag Megh. All together, it makes the song a little more special than the musical and lyrical synergy of ek laDakii ko dekhaa.

* Another useful catalyst is something that Harish provides an example of. Musical baiThaks or sessions of any kind go a long way to creating musical opinions. I am not talking, of course, of things like antaaKshariis! I have had the pleasure of sitting in on several sessions (and even participating on occasion) and several RDB songs became more appealing, as did some other songs (Rut aa gaii re in puryaa dhaanashrii from 1947: Earth, and Sanjeev Abhyankar's lai jaa re badaraa in raag hamsadhwani (and Hariharan's more word-laden sibling swaagatham) from Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar!: here the use of the songs along with the generally positive impression I had of the film had already helped, as did the fact that they were Vishal tunes).

* Every finished musical product (song or album) is required to sound seamless and effortless. The downside is that there are appealing elements of the effort that went into making this product, which are usually lost to the end listener who desires to know more. Such information almost always adds more value to the song, be it a popular or relatively unknown song. Cases in point: (1) RDB's popular mahabuubaa employs component rhythm patterns on different instruments (primarily the maadal) and a Pune tribute show broke this out for all to hear (and see!). After that the song ceases to remain the same; (2) The second example is another RDB song, mai.n huu.N ##lily## from Bond 303. Lyricist Gulshan Bawra was kind enough to allow the Pune show organizers to sample from his tapes of the recording sessions for the song. You hear RDB working out the tune and even rhythm patterns of the song, before the lyrics came in, based on the general idea of the piece (it was to be a club number). And you hear him putting in dummy words in the final a.ntaraa, which in effect, give you directions to finding Lily. Bawra retained these dummy words in the final version, with minor modifications. From being a cool funky song with lots of riffs and grooves, the song moves up a notch now for me.

There we have it. My 2 cents worth. As for ARR, I'll simply credit him for being a skilled exponent of the "subconsciously appealing hook". Makes for good business too:)

inteha: another "complete" product of the bhatt movie machine {music review}

Intihaa (yep, that would be the correct way!) means the end, the extremity, the utmost point or limit. Recall the song from Sharaabi. To wit, the film does hit the limit of your despair. In the good old days, a credit that read "written by Mahesh Bhatt" held some promise. (Of course, a credit that read "directed by Vikram Bhatt" NEVER held any promise ever!). But since Shri Bhatt resigned (caved in) to the evil tempting and compromising framework of mainstream Bollywood cinema, he began churning out scripts and films that were designed (and even executed) on the backs of toilet paper, or on brief cellphone messages (trivia note: when Bhatt appeared on Movers and Shakers, he added a gentle note of self-critical humour by pretending to be directing a movie over his cellphone -- something that people accused him of doing. Perhaps the irony that the show itself was a cheap ripoff of Jay Leno's show was something only for us to savour!). And his family doesn't seem to hold much promise either. Brother Mukesh Bhatt produces. Brother Robin Bhatt contributes scripts, screenplays and even "additional screenplays" (as seen in Zameen). And nephew Vikram Bhatt directs.

This film has Bhatt exorcising one of his pet "close to my life" themes: Saxena (first name unknown!) has lived a life of bigamy, and sired a daughter in each relationship: the elder Nandini (played AND dubbed by the good-looking Vidya Malvade) and the younger, impulsive Tina (played BUT NOT dubbed by Nauheed Cyrusi). More on Vikram Bhatt's dubbing fetish. Dying of cancer, Saxena asks Nandini to care for Tina. Nandini sacrifices her future with Rohit (Anup Soni, convincing in a brief role), but Tina is unaffected: she detests her elder step-sister and is constantly getting into trouble (TRIVIA note: the guy whose car she damages is called Mr Dhamija, probably as an in-joke reference to dialogue writer Girish Dhamija). And then a stalker comes into Tina's life. While the film has been fair so far, this ludicruous element along with a stupid incongruous song by Sinew Kneegum, sets the trail for the rest of the proceedings: a downward spiral. Ashmit Patel, brother of the vastly undertalented Amisha Patel, makes an interesting choice in his début as "the smooth operator who leaves gaping clues behind at every crime scene", a con operator who marries rich and beautiful lassies for their greens and sends them to kingdom come in car crashes (someone should have smelt a rat a long time ago!) aka the lover from hell. However, given that his looks are the pathetic dirty rugged "I'm so cool" kind, any attempts at menace are quickly superseded. And the voice I liked, turned out not to be his after all (I did smell a rat with squeaky Cyrusi -- see: Supari -- began to speak with an improved voice and diction). The songs continue to pelt us, and cause grave harm to a film that had potential. Bhatt's writing shows small firefly flashes of promises, but also exposes his complete surrender to the mindless Bollywood movie machine. The cinematography and editing are deplorable overall -- the dark scenes look really amateur, and drained of any menace). The only person who could survive this disaster is model debutante Vidya Malavde. Sigh. Disappointment reigns. They almost had it.

Gaffe alert: The investigating inspector refers to Hotel Blue Star as Hotel Blue Diamond (Puneites will enjoy this reference, others, who are either awake or catching a few winks, will probably miss it)

See also: Fear

autumn sonata

the falling leaves drift by the window
the autumn leaves of red and gold

To hum along, slightly alter the tune of Anu Malik's is tarah aashiqii kaa from Imtihaan, which also showcases some other "nuggets".

but it's really great to see Fall in the best bloom that Atlanta could afford (this ain't Vermont!). And the sky's clear too.

Meanwhile, pop star Daler Mehndi was made to take off his trousers, besides being asked to belt out his hit songs by the investigating team interrogating him in the human smuggling case in which he is an accused along with his brother Shamsher ... {more} [this blog's previous related thread]

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


Google swaps anoraks for suits

Trivia note: I haven't been watching the AVS TV show for a long time, so I'm not sure how long they've been using a certain sample to introduce the show. It matches the central riff from Road Rage, a track from the soundtrack for Road. Who preceded whom? Or common source?

New word learnt: The word metrosexual, which seems to be popping up a lot in the news, and on South Park! (in characteristic irreverence, the episode [#708] was called South Park is Gay)

Monday, October 27, 2003

rare finds

Despite the rains and gloomy weather that dominated yesterday, I managed to add a little bright spot thanks to a trip (at long last) to Sona Imports. My cachet included The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Zor, and (the moment the bulb glowed) a sealed sole copy of Jhoothi Shaan, a rare RD Burman release from Sigma Music for a film starring Mithun Chakraborty, Poonam Dhillon and Shabana Azmi ("an emotional story revolving around royalty and reality" as one cable channel schedule puts it). Yep. Made my day all right. Incidentally, the film also goes by the name of Parbat Mahal (doesn't help matters much, does it?). Raanii Kii Nikalii Sawaarii, one of the songs on the album, had its share of fame, when it became the first song that Pancham recorded when he returned from his bypass operation.
gaane ... aur gaane

Anu Malik's songs for Sir (notable for Naseer and Paresh sparring off admirably; and also for GG's chappan Tikalii) appears on Raaga. Aside from the Listen to the pouring rain "adaptation" sun sun sun, we also have the irritating Anuradha Paudwal soloing on ba.ndh hoTho.n, Malik's reworking of Naushad's yaad me.n terii. And then there's that sir, sir, o sir, we love you (yes, we know where that must have come from!)
more bill

James points me to Elvis Mitchell's review of QT's soundtrack compilation for Kill Bill Vol I. The references Mitchell nails down are useful, of course. Some of the comments are expected and even interesting (even the note that with soundtrack compilations like the one for Jackie Brown, QT seems to be milking the African-American film franchise more than African-Americans themselves). But I guess I like QT, his love for films, and his ouevre too much to objectively read comments like Mr. Tarantino's endless catalog of references does not serve, as it might, to enlarge his film's meaning. Even the exploitation-movie scores that Mr. Tarantino appropriates served, on some freakish level, as social commentary. But he shows no interest in any social context. He also doesn't seem to understand that the blaxploitation films he loots were a delivery system for underground cultural transmissions. I can understand Mitchell's disappointment, but I don't think QT was attempting any social context. His P. O. V. on all the films he pays homage to lacks any such social context, since he probably caught them outside the fervent time that they marked in history.

And some more takes on the film...

happy diwali 2003/daylight updated

It was nice to be able to attend a puujaa followed by a family dinner on Diwali this year. Diwali time in the US is like most of the rest of the year: quiet, bland and unassuming. You have to be in close proximity to either (a) a desi clique (b) cultural associations that organise events of interest (not the dressing up in vulgar garish clothes and guzzling beer type). Mercifully, I had option (c) -- quite close to what it might be back home, albeit a lot more silent (no sivakasi smokefests and aapaTii bombs!) and limited (
zameen: what on earth is happening here (aka ghor unearth!)? {also: music review}

Ajay Devgan scores again, but his performance is packaged as a front-bencher pleaser more than anything else. The same with Abhishek's (although his work reaffirms my recent growing conviction that he is made for better stuff). Bipasha looks good in her air hostess uniform, but otherwise is ineffectual wallpaper. There are nice elements in the screenplay and some scenes play out well (the torture of Tambe and Sadanand, most of the exchanges between Devgan and Abhishek, the scenes at the airport featuring the pathetic politician, the intercutting between parliamentary meetings and the suffering relatives at the airport). However, just like Qayamat, this film suffers from disgustingly juvenile jingoism (the worst being Ranvir Singh Ranaavat (Devgan) beating up Baba Zahir Khan (Mukesh Tiwari, last seen in Gangaajal) while news reporters shut off their cameras and mikes). Any chance at things being a tad realistic is destroyed with the excessive slow-mo (clearly for inviting whistles from the crowds); the car chases/crashes (some done well, some too clean) and fights (such terrible editing in the climax) that defy physics, and receive the now tired-and-irritating Matrix-style treatment; and last but not the least, the unwanted song-and-dance (the opening jingostic number featuring Shaan on screen along with K K; the oddball promise of tere ek simple sii coffee is lost on screen; and malaika arora's sister amrita arora tries in vain to please by wiggling her tush, jiggling her assets, and cavorting in semi-clad to a room full of uninterested junior artistes to dillii kii sardii, which will remain my favourite aural metaphor of the year). If only they had focused on sticking to some nice source material...

gaffes/I can't take this anymore

* During the song mere naal, Bipasha lets us know that she has really thick skin. How else can you explain her cavorting about in the snow near some hill station in a sari (sleeveless too, wasn't it?) while everyone else is hooded up?

* At a point in the second half, Ajay Devgan asks Abhishek if he is going in to save his fiancee, to which Abhishek's response mixes predictable jingoism (about maa.N, zamiin etc). The problem is: he's already married (with the song mentioned in the previous gaffe alert marking their wedding, honeymoon and awkward consummation)

open question: At one point, when the higher-ups are talking about the incident, I thought I heard Suhasini Mulay's voice and even think I saw her as an aide to a political biggie. If this is true, how thankless a role it was! If this is just hearsay (pun!), let it slip.

Here's what KK looks like, in case you were wondering:
what KK looks like

Saturday, October 25, 2003

cape fear: every man has to go through hell to reach paradise

When Martin Scorsese's reworking of the 1962 thriller Cape Fear hit the theatres in India, the reviews I read talked about how De Niro's working of Max Cady was over-the-top and hammy. This was the only memory I really had when I started watching the film. Of course, since that time I had learnt more about De Niro, Scorsese, their working relationship, Scorsese's Hitchcock connections (Bernard Herrmann, Saul Bass, and in this film, production designer Henry Bumstead). I had also made the mappings: Robert Mitchum played Cady in the original and made a cameo here as Lt Elgart; Gregory Peck played Sam Bowden in the original and appeared (in what would tragically be his last cinematic appearance!) as the Bible-spouting righteous lawyer Lee Heller (which almost seems like a spoof at some level of his most cherished performance as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird); Martin Balsam who played Police Chief Dutton in the original appears here as the Judge who puts a restraining order on Saw Bowden.

The film opens with a classic Saul Bass (who was now collaborating with his wife Elaine) sequence: the credits are overlaid on ripples of water, tinged with colours that reek of fear and unease, and somewhere in the background are eyes (I scream Vertigo!) and face shots (from what was, as the excellent Making Of tells me, unused footage from a sequence for the film Seconds). And you hear vintage Bernard Herrmann (in fact, Elmer Bernstein willingly took on the task of adapting Herrmann's score for the original for this film: a strong testament for the vitality of Herrmann's work!). "My reminiscences" are the first words you hear as an XCU of Danny's eyes switch from negative-B&W to colour, and we are informed that "Cape Fear" is a river in North Carolina (I haven't seen the original so I didn't know what the title referred to). Ft Lauderdale in South Florida aided with some innovative set design stands in for North Carolina here. The whole film works in flashback (ending with Danny's voiceover concluding here reminiscences). There is a reference to her working on this in the film: one of the many touches that elevate this film from being a very fast-paced (great editing from Scorsese regular Thelma Schoonmaker) tingling effective thriller to being a great addition to Scorsese's impressive canon. There are other Bass elements in the film too, but some are best left to be relished on viewing.

The original had Cady returning to punish Sam Bowden for having testified against him. This reworking has Sam Bowden playing Cady's defense attorney who, in 1977 in Atlanta, had to put together a defense for a charge of rape and battery. The victim was a 16 year old girl. In a moment of "playing God" and being self-righteous, Bowden had suppressed evidence of the promiscuity of the victim, evidence that would have helped Cady's case. Bowden believed that Cady deserved punishment, and in some sense, took the law into his own hands. Cady, meanwhile, suffering from the characteristic horrors of prison life, builds himself up physically and mentally: being illiterate he teaches himself to read and write, and educates himself in literature and law (the biblical references are ominous when De Niro spouts them in a very convincing Southern accent). All this we find out in the course of the film, which stays on track, as being a thriller demands. Not satisfied by adding so much grey to the characters of Bowden and Cady, Scorsese and Strick also take us on another horrifying journey to the rotting centre of the familial relationships of the Bowden: Sam's infidelity, Leigh's unease and Danny's insecurity, fear and emotional vulnerability. Cady's attack is not physical -- it targets the root of the evils that ail the family, twisting it about and extracting more pain than a simple man-to-man fistfight. Every alternative to tackling Cady's relentless attack proves ineffectual, right up the very end. Max's inevitable destruction at the end leaves the family scarred for life: Sam has indeed learnt about loss, and the reunited family has been devastated beyond repair. This is where the film really works: at the psychological level.

Everything works here, especially De Niro's well-researched performance (Cady's tatoos even reminded me of The Night of the Hunter, where the Reverend Harry Powell, played by Robert Mitchum, has LOVE tatooed on the fingers of one hand, and HATE on those of the other). Scorsese's maiden use of anamorphic Widescreen pays off as a great way to explore the dark tones of Strick's script. And there are the Hitchcock references: a silhouetted view of Lori Davis' (Illeana Douglas) vicious disfigurement at the hands of Cady recalls the shadows of Psycho; the 4th of July parade has strong echoes of the tennis match in Strangers on a Train; the never-ending climactic struggle between Bowden and Cady is reminiscent of Gromek's killing in Torn Curtain.

Speaking of Torn Curtain, Hitchcock/Herrmann fans will remember that this film marked the unfortunate parting of the two over a disagreement on the tone of the score (Elmer Bernstein's version on the accompanying Making Of varies a bit in that it attributes the choice of desired mood directly to Hitchcock instead of the producing studio, Universal). Herrmann's unused score for the film has popped up on several compilations since (Herrmann even used one of the cues titled Gromek in a later film). When Cady falls burning into the stormy river, another Herrmann cue begins to play. This cue, titled The Killing, comes from the unused score and not from the score for the original Cape Fear. A grand bout of acknowledgement to Scorsese and Bernstein for resurrecting this wonderful piece.

Saul Bass tribute site

Friday, October 24, 2003

friday fettle

Just posted another ISB transcription: waqt waqt kii baat hai. Also marks my first use of Vinay's giitaayan wiki.

Shabana Azmi pays tribute to Liv Ullman (who, besides having lambasted some elements of Bollywood cinema, also has a Tehzeeb connection, as does Azmi!)

The place of Diwali in Bollywood cinema ([Chachi 420] showed one very important scientific fact (which is in keeping with Kamal, who is known to be a perfectionist) that is still not well known to many a lay person: that the immediate treatment for any sort of burns, of which there are plenty in Diwali, is to pour lots of water on the burns. In this film Kamal is shown throwing his burning child into the swimming pool, much to the chagrin of those around him. Only when the doctor praises his efforts do the others understand that he has probably saved the child's life)

Ujjal Chatterjee, who ruffled a lot of feathers with his last film Escape From Taliban, is back on air with a music video of a Bengali Tagore song featuring Rajesh Khanna. He shares his experiences with the 70s 'Phenomenon' and talks about his next film inspired by the WTC attack, starring Manisha Koirala... [more]

Leslie Lewis has nothing against remixes, just the videos

eerie coincidences and maar noose

Just caught the dance-floor-koli video for dariyaa kinaare, the Nitin Bali-Shashwati (la femme Kaa.NTaa lagaa) remix of Kishore's duet with Lata for Sabse Bada Rupaiya. I have to give this remix some points for nabbing a rather minor KK song. The coincidence comes
from my recent acquisition of a compilation of the film soundtracks resulting from the brief collaboration between RDB assistants Basu and Manohari). [TRIVIA: Rakesh Roshan released this album]

More a/v feeds. Heard of and saw Gauri Pradhan (good looks, Tabu voice, potentially 0 "acting" skills) and Hiten Tejwani (scrap the looks, add "dumb", definitely a big acting duck). Something about Naam Gum Jaayegaa, a short-lived soap (not the detergent but the tissue-drenching high-ham products generated ad nauseum back home), and KuTumb (another Ekta Kapoor venture!). And then there are talks about a Starbucks flood in India (here's a cool image from Surreal States). There was a big hint last year, but I don't see how someone could prevent this reverse culture-shock. I can imagine my next trip back home: the homogeneity that plagues the US of A will soon find a new home in India, while the population counter continues to tick upwards, and none of the real problems are solved.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on the pluses (Our strong family bonds. Also our spirituality, our deep connection to our roots, our rich heritage. We are learning to network and help each other more than before. We are also a very successful community, intelligent and hardworking) and minuses (There is right now a growing split between rich professional Indians and working class Indians (in America). Many people in the first group are snobbish and do not want to associate with the second.

They do not want to acknowledge problems the second group faces. They don't want to take the time and trouble to help them. They don't see that we are all one community. If one part of us is weak, if one part is suffering, we all eventually suffer. This attitude of the richer Indians causes anger and resentment among many working class Indians.

This may become a real problem if it isn't addressed soon
) of the Indian community in the US of A, in conversation with Arthur J Pais.

Currently observed Bollywood film trend: chillers (genre ripoffs with songs and dances)

desi-ization update: New american postage stamp issued to celebrate Diwali

current listens: Colors by Georghe Zamfir, variously labelled as kitsch and the "master of the pan flute". {connection: Kill Bill, vol I} [here's the complete listing of music used in the film, so you can find out what made it to the audio release]

Probably a good time to note a couple of references in the film that I caught but never articulated: (a) the intentional or accidental thematic overlap with Truffaut's The Bride Wore Black (b) the split-screen at the hospital as homage to Brian De Palma

tehzeeb update {last post in thread} Caught snatches of the "music video"/fast-forward moments of meherabaa.N meherabaa.N: can't say I was too impressed. Guess I'll wait for the full thing instead of passing judgement on flashily montaged eyecandy.

More snatches: the video for this new Baba Sehgal track that goes mere gaane kaa style (pump up your style). The usual Baba fun/TP lyrics. Wonder what album this is on.

It's probably all over the airwaves already: chhoDoo sanam, the annette/KK duet from Kudrat (the only RDB song I know that has NO violins!), gets the dance floor makeover (skimpy virtually-unclad femmes cavorting about wiggling the assets, hugging poles on the strip floor, lip-synching with fake oomph, some bald ill-dressed moron going "you shake your booTay your booTay .../I like it") on an album called The Bikini Lounge Mix (just the thing for the family)

Thursday, October 23, 2003


More Vishal updates. Maqbool had a special screening at the Marrakech Film Festival in Morocco. Shekhar Kapur was also in the audience, and was impressed with the film. The two struck up a friendship, and Kapur is all set to produce Vishal's next directorial venture scripted by Vishal and Abbas Tyrewala (his favourite lyricist and fellow screenwriter), based on an idea of Kapur's. The film is called Mantra.
and more tehzeeb (aka wonder what I have against this movie?) [see also: music review, the bergmanian connection, more aural allusions]

Assuming no change in the basic (external, as Bergman refers to it in the introduction to the printed screenplay translated from Swedish By Alan Blair) storyline, here's my attempt at mapping characters/actors from the original to the KM-fronted adaptation:
Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman, her swan song and her first film with her namesake) : Ruksana (Shabana Azmi)
Eva (Liv Ullman): Tehzeeb (Urmila Matondkar)
Helena (Lena Nyman): Nazneen (Dia Mirza)
Josef (Erland Josephson) and Leonardo (Georg Løkkeberg): (Rishi Kapoor)
{Leonardo is Charlotte's recently deceased lover, Josef was her husband who cared for the daughters. I suspect an amalgam -- not sure if mainstream Hindi cinema audiences are quite prepared to deal with multivariate marital relationships}
Viktor (Halvar Björk: also the narrator of the film): (Arjun Rampal)
?? : (Diana Hayden)

See also: an "imagic" study of Bergman's film | the strictly film school page on Ingmar Bergman

Up front, I must admit that despite all the inspirational associations, I am hoping that Tehzeeb won't be the convoluted boomerang that Fiza was --- loaded with all the pitfalls that KM enjoyed picking out in all the films he reviewed (lambasted, YMMV).

On a very very related note, KM isn't (as I had initially assumed) the first person to go Bergman. Rituparno Ghosh has been doing it for a while (this is purely based on storylines and news reports -- I haven't seen any of his cinema yet): Unishe April got to Autumn Sonata first. Utsab seemed to rely on Fanny and Alexander. Bariwali seems a lot like Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard. Apparently, he also incorporated elements of Through a Glass Darkly in a film of his. The details are trivia obscura. Looks like a lot of additions (Bergman first, followed by Ghosh) to my to-watch list.

Also, more from KM and the film itself.

An old feed of the AVS-Atlanta show (surprisingly good quality too!) gave me my first look at a Tehzeeb teaser -- predictably snatches from one of the FF-button-friendly musical interludes: the song khoyii khoyii with Arjun Rampal dancing about mostly with a gaggle of gals dressed in red construction uniforms and yellow hardhats. All ho-hum and very indicative of a sequence in the future: me hitting the "next chapter" or the "FF" button (DVD/VHS). Incidentally, 20th century fox has the all-india distribution rights for the film. Wonder how KM manages all this ...

coming up

Deepaavalii weekend. The end of Daylight Saving Time. A little Octoberfest at the workplace today -- the days building up to this have taught me a new word, bratwurst: the name is a compound German word meaning "fried sausage". Essentially, this is a fancier nominal wrapper to a larger version of a hot dog. There's more information on sausages (aka stuff that will make your stomach churn!). Reminds me of another popular Americanism, tailgating, popular during the football games (another excuse for guzzling beer, which seems like the #1 American pastime).

On a very very unrelated note, simply based on a fragment of conversation at work that went "...exploding manhole covers" (why they would talk about stuff like this is beyond me!), here's how that stuff works!

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

more tehzeeb {ref: music review}

Finally nailed down what aapako mujhase kept reminding me of: ham tumhaare hai.n zaraa ghar se nikal kar dekho!!

As seems to be the case with ARR, I keep returning to the album. Mostly for meharbaa.N meharbaa.N.

music review

Khakee: So this is the next Rajkumar Santoshi venture (already made famous for Aishwarya Rai's accident on the sets) featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan, Aishwarya Rai, Tusshar Kapoor, and Jaya Prada (ugh!). The ironies evident in the fact that the film is being produced by horror specialist Keshu Ramsay, of Ramsay Brothers fame are not lost on your humble blogger. The music director for the soundtrack, Ram Sampat is a veteran of over 5,000 ad films and also tuned Indipoppies like Shaan's Tanha Dil and Shiamak Davar's Mohabbat Kar Le. First up, vaadaa rahaa has Arnab Chakravorty (who he?) and Shreya Ghoshal, singing a Nadeem-Shravan-esque song filled with tired Sameer lyrics. Skip. Next up, electronica. Sunidhi Chauhan gives her best (but doesn't sound like she has been asked to do too much different, except for the rapid swings about the octave) to aisaa jaaduu. Lyrics? You must be joking, saar. yuu.N hii tum mujhase pyaar starts off in a Rahman vein, before the mukha.Daa. Nothing very exciting about the melody or the lyrics, and then there's Sonew Kneegum again, along with Shreya Ghoshal. The Ghoshal-Kneegumigraine continues with a silly tune dil Duubaa (which sounds like the kind of mess that plagiarist Shravan's offspring siblings ripoff-wannabes Sanjeev-Darshan would come up with). Then we have the sad[sic] version of vaadaa rahaa. What makes it truly truly sad is that Arnad and Shreya are eschewed for the migraine inducer from Haryana. Then we have our first inevitable remix. This is dil Duubaa, which retains Kneegum (albeit electronically desensitized) and Ghoshal, overlays it with egregious faux English raptastica (in a tune that's vaguely familiar ...) and North-Indian balle-beats; Richa Sharma and Kailash Kher (who will be singing for ARR in Mangal Pandey) sing the obligatory amentlay otay odgay. vaadaa rahaa returns with Udit Narayan replacing Arnad (clearly this is the irritating theme song in the film). A train sample opens uupar vaale, which, except for Kneegum, has the most verve in the whole album: be it the spirited vocals, the music mix (little samples of guitars with phasers and distortion, sarangi riffs), the electronically-altered vocal responses. Thankfully, Sukhwinder Singh does enough to elevate the song from the pit of damage that Kneegum sank it into. A Latin-flavoured spirited remix of aisaa jaaduu winds up the album. Looks like the verve got in late on this one.

In other happenings, Kneegum is all set to launch an English album in the US:"I may be a star in India and to Asians only (abroad), but I am very small fish in the American market. It may be a humble, small beginning for me, but I hope my fans keep their fingers crossed for me!". Guess this should be scarier than the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake.

amentlay otay odgay is PigLatin for "lament to God".


The Huh? corp website is a great piece of satire on company websites of the boom time that didn't really know what they knew, and even less what they were talking about. (WARNING: Perhaps as part of the satire, the site resizes your browser window and spouts a popup which has all the site information)
the outlaw josey wales

This was Eastwood's rich-character ode to the western before his more lauded Unforgiven. Eastwood plays Josey Wales, a Missouri farmer, who joins a Confederate guerilla unit and winds up on the run from the Union soldiers who murdered his family.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

another mango man

Just when I thought I was the only one who could come up a groan-level term like Mango Man (aka aam aadamii: sorry, Hindi speakers only!), I find Mahesh Shantaram doing the same thing, officially.

a nice little article about screen name favourites and superstitions in Bollywood | An interview with Ajay Gehi who makes his acting début with Vishal's (Miya) Maqbool {see also: Sanjeev Abhyankar and the soundtrack} | a look back at the phenomenon that was Kishore Kumar
Tehzeeb update {see also: music review}

Looks like Khalid Mohamed is all set to give us another example of "X with songs", where X is a foreign film. Go read the synopsis of Tehzeeb and then sample the following (all added emphasis is mine): After having neglected her children for many years, world famous pianist [note the musical connection] Charlotte visits her daughter Eva in her home. To her surprise she finds her other daughter, Helena, there as well. Helena is mentally impaired, and Eva has taken Helena out of the institution where their mother had placed her. The tension between Charlotte and Eva only builds up slowly, until a nightly conversation releases all the things they have wanted to tell each other.. X, in case you were wondering is Ingmar Bergman's classic Autumn Sonata. (Incidentally, although KM seems to deny any similarity -- are we surprised? -- the IMDB movie connections page for Bergman's film already lists Tehzeeb!)
continuing with the life/art cycle of imitation

Mumbai Police sub-inspector Dayanand Nayak has shot dead 83 criminals in encounters, and arrested over 300, with some of India's most wanted as his prized catch. He has invested his reward money in a school in Karnataka. He has assisted RGV on Company. He is the foundation for the character of Bhaskar Sarnaik (played by débutante Amitabh Dayal) in N. Chandra's Kagaar: Living on the edge. He also has more filmic avataars in RGV's Ab Tak Chhappan and Madhur Bhandarkar's Aan (I could go aan and aan ... yes, bad one that!) {more} {and more}

More about Kagaar: It also stars Om Puri, Nandita Das, Anoop Soni, Jyotsna Karyekar and another new find Aditya Khatdhare. The background score is by Surender Sodhi, lyrics by Gulzar and music by Shantanu Moitra.

Tabloid Of India goes women's lib

Indian woman power is finally asserting itself screams an article in the TOI about the 2003 Durex Global Sex Survey, which revealed that India tops the charts when it comes to a preference for the 'woman on top' position. Apart from being a rather lubriciously inappropriate item in what might well be a family-read paper (or perhaps families have already wised up and switched from this tabloid!). Talk about a crash course (served up simply and sweetly) in Vatsyayanisms.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Makdee: a glorious return to children's films

Finally, I managed to grab a look at Vishal Bhardwaj's début as director (and co-writer and screenwriter too!). It's not a masterpiece, and the ride is not without its obstacles. The songs are free-form, and often fun. Shabana Azmi has a field day playing the evil witch (for free, as it were). Makrand Deshpande takes top honours in my book as Kallu the butcher. Shweta Prasad makes playing twin sisters seem so wonderfully effortless. And then we have Gulzar's lyrics. While often potentially scary at times, the film is a welcome entry in the sadly arid milieu of children's cinema. Pity that the marketing bigs didn't think much of this film, which has survived and will continue to survive by sheer word-of-mouth.
Patriot Games: quiet thrills

Good opening credits: . Harrison Ford adds a calm respectability and humanness as Jack Ryan to this thriller based on Tom Clancy's novel (Alec Baldwin played Ryan in The Hunt for Red October, but mutual issues put paid to him continuing). Samuel L Jackson and James Earl Jones lend adequate support in roles that are too limited to even merit much mention (especially Jackson). Apparently the CIA sequences are actually filmed on location marking the first time the CIA ever allowed such a thing. There are probably several geographical discrepancies in the film (the IMDB goofs page bears me out on this one). Decent background score by James Horner. The preview includes an exchange between James Earl Jones and Harrison Ford where Jones says something about there never having been a terrorist attack on American soil. That line was left out of the film because it sounded too much like an invitation or dare. Of course, 9/11 just adds a cold edge to that bit. There's a "Doctor Zaillian" who tells Cathy Ryan about her baby over the phone: I thought of Steven Zaillian (who won an Oscar for his screenplay for Schindler's List), but it didn't make sense, since I didn't see his name in the credits. Turns out that he did an uncredited rewrite of the screenplay.
Samay: when the clock strikes Se7en {WARNING: spoilers galore}

This has to be Sushmita Sen's best performance yet. Although the makeup's a tad overdone and too squeaky clean, her poise, dialogue delivery and confidence are to die for (no pun intended). On a personal note, although the released soundtrack (reviewed here) features a ton of songs, there is just one official entry as credited in the film (apart from the snatches from the background score and the title track, with a voiceover from director Robby Grewal): Lucy Bartholemew, another addition to the list of phaaren-born nubilias wiggling tush and scantily-clad assets in item songs, jiggles about in this single song, laailaa laailaa before getting strangled for having broken the narrative flow. Sushant Singh lends able support as Satya (reading too deep: a dig at RGV?), one of several underwritten characters. The film has several problems, the least of which are the red herrings, which are embarassing. But first the other annoyances: while it's great that a woman's the ACP, having everyone else around her appear to be relative idiots does not come across well -- it's like having William Petersen hog the limelight in CSI. The background score (Chowta again) works well and so do the dark sequences -- ahh so few. Most of the other moments seem false -- especially when the camera itself grabs us saying "hey, this is a red herring. Let me get you to start doubting something that's happening here" (case in point: when "Doc" the forensics expert asks ACP Malvika Chauhan about the case).

The most obvious inspirations are David Fincher's wonderfully chilling and original Se7en and to a very very small degree, The Bone Collector (ref: the bedridden Sabharwal telling ACP Chauhan about his failure to track down a serial killer). The former being filched marks a new low in Bollywood cinema. Firstly, Fincher's film had something very fundamental going for it: a good storyline. Once you have that, the sky is the limit for embellishments. Grewal impolitely filches portions of that film (more about that in a moment) and then re-packages stuff up for mainstream consumption. The idea of replacing David Mills with a woman, ACP Chauhan, arguably does add a different dynamic to the plot. However, the interesting William Somerset becomes the ineffectual Satya. And finally, Kevin Spacey's hidden (and later cultified) John Doe (who is literally a nobody in the film) becomes an IPS examination failure called Amod Parekh, who wants to convince ACP Chauhan that he was always better than she was. iDream Entertainment's favourite actor Jackie Shroff emerges from the shadows as Amod Parekh and does a really good job in the brief role hampered only by some pointless dialogue (and perhaps a hangover from his stint in teen deewarein). The rationale of the killer (officially: punishing the people who are the best in their respective fields (the youngest millionaire in the country, a young National Award-winning hit actress who shakes her tushy for skimpy-clad dances; the top contract killer in Bombay); along with the same eyesight disability -- a power of minus 2.0!!; the same optician) goes from simple to "why why why" to undefinably impossible. Any coherence that the plot could have derived from its Fincher legacy is shattered to bits and no one (not even Sen who, in the abrupt climax, has to destroy everything good she has achieved with her performance thus far) can save it from tomatoes and eggs. This is unfortunate. Clearly, there was a potential for a nice thriller. Fincher didn't make his film an out-and-out thriller or a whodunit. There was a strong unnerving plot (religious overtones are always scary!) and a dank, wet, dark, gloomy atmosphere to the proceedings. And while that film covered the events of a week, Grewal's directorial début spans a leisurely month.

pointless trivia (yes, meaningless phrase that!): The film opens with a clip from Vertigo (the sequence leading up to Madeline's death at the chapel). Also featured in the film are the classic video game PacMan and a McDonald's drive-in in Panvel. Incidentally, "Doc" is played by Rajesh Khera, who was last seen as the ill-fated smoking customer at the motel in Darna Mana Hai. The credits list a special appearance by Geetanjali Kirloskar: is she the head of Lintertainment??


1930 at the Cannon Chapel at Emory University. Treated to an aural feast of Kabir's songs by Dr Krishna Kant Shukla (whose singing emphasized Kumar Gandharva's compositions and style) and Prahlad Singh Tipanya (who led a group of Malwa folk musicians). The latter were more earthy and their performances were more heart-felt. Shukla's singing left much to be desired at times, and even seemed lifeless. But once Tipanya and his men took over, it was wondrous.

Yep, went and saw the film again, marking the first time I ever watched a film twice in the theatre in the US. Gave me a chance to resoak the mayhem and relish stuff I noticed the last time, or wished I had. The Bride's name, which is bleeped every time it is spoken, is Beatrix. The rest of the cast playing members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are listed in the serial order of their comeuppances: O-Ren Ishii, Vernita Green, Budd, Elle Driver, Bill. The opening title cards read "the fourth film by Quentin Tarantino", and there is no "directed by Quentin Tarantino" credit. There is an acknowledgement for Robert Rodriguez ("My Brother"), who directed Tarantino in From Dusk Till Dawn (which Tarantino also scripted) and in Desperado (that little cameo). One must also note the continual habit of non-linear storytelling, by showing us Copperhead's death before O-Ren Ishii's. Bringing the rear of the end credits are several acknowledgements (including Peter Bogdanovich, ) and R. I. P.s (Charles Bronson, Chang Cheh, Shintaro Katsu, Lo Lieh, William Witney). The film is credited as being a product of Supercool Manchu, Inc. Supercool it is!

See also: QT's favourite films on Sight and Sound. More on the allusions in the film. A little something about Rob C Grier, who designed plates for the film. Miscellaneous images from the film. The movies that inspired QT.

main madhuri dixit banna chahti hoon

This film has its heart in the right place. I don't see mainstream success for it. The songs are purely situational, which means, unlike all the mainsteam incongruous hits, the soundtrack won't make much. There are performances in the film, instead of broad starry flourishes. There's a simple story, told honestly, very much in the vein of Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Full marks to Rajpal Yadav, Antara Mali, and Govind Namdeo. The story is evident: Chutki (Mali), who is a hit in her little village of Gajraulaa for being an excellent Madhuri Dixit clone, wants to become a heroine in Hindi films. Raajaaraam (Yadav) loves her, and offers her the pragmatic offer of marriage, since as her husband he can get her to Mumbai and help her make it big. There are the predictable hiccups, and the film thankfully maintains a decent balance between exposing the harshness of the film industry, underscoring the fact that there is still hope, and avoiding clichés. Benjamin Gilani makes a refreshing comeback cameo as Kapil Arya, a film director on the lookout for new faces (the dialogue in the sequences he is involved in are a welcome break from the kind of tacky hackneyed crap that people seem to dish out). There's a point in the film where Chutki makes a good splash in a music video for the remix of, you guessed it, a Madhuri "classic", dhak dhak karane lagaa. Springboarding off this, she gets a break as the heroine in a South production titled "Roshni: The Ray of Hope". Her co-stars turn out to be all clones: Junior Sachin Tendulkar (I didn't catch the name of the actor, but he does a fabulous, although brief, job), Junior Hrithik, Junior Saif, Junior Bachchan, Junior Dev Anand, Junior Dilip Kumar, Junior Shah Rukh Khan, Junior Sunny and Junior Johnny Lever (yep, you read that right!) (as well as a Junior Vinod Kambli). Chutki is miffed and says (not verbatim): "but they are all fakes. I cannot work with them". The irony of the secret of her "success" being her likeness to La Dixit does not go unnoticed, but merits from being unmentioned. Priceless.

Friday, October 17, 2003

new words and phrases

The interesting thing about being in the US of A is all the interesting phrases and words (dictionary or slang) with origins in quotidian activities, media figures, historical events and geographical location. Here are a few: a bake off, all cackle and no eggs (a potential sibling of "all smoke no fire", but more like "barking dogs lacking bite", except in this case, you would prefer it if the dog actually bit!).

There's an arrest warrant out for Daler Mehndi: the charges relate to an illegal immigration racket. Wow!

Prem Panicker does a well worded (but not film-critically rich) review Kill Bill Vol I (this blog's review), and gets a response reading What a wonderful talent wasted in reporting meaningless movies!!. Prem, please revert to Cricket reporting. The cricket reports on rediff on pretty Bland these days. (see also: another example of rediff reBUTTals)

Meanwhile, Stephen Dowling at the BBC believes that despite its countless layered references to cult film, Tarantino's latest flick is too cool to become a cult flick itself.

Another poll. This time it's movie endings. Titanic tops (although I don't know what was so interesting about the ending -- what happened that was unexpected, open-ended, or satisfying -- except for star-struck viewers?).

Business leaders from Birmingham - and from Britain's Asian community - are visiting the home of Bollywood in search of partnerships and profit. Expect more NRI-friendly pieces of flush with lush mijhik, doe-eyed looks (which pass off as 'acting'), and catchy lines about love, faith, emotions and family values.

Rediff has posted an extract from Anupama Chopra's book on DDLJ {last mentioned on this blog}

"Crossover" (what a dumb name!) films (like Mr and Mrs Iyer) have been receiving an encouraging response among Indians, both back home and abroad. The reasons cited worry me though. The article cites some crossover filmmakers (wish they would name names!) as attributing this popularity to "the growing number of Indian immigrants in various countries and the increasing demand for films that are closer to reality and stimulate the brain". And D K Krishna, an upcoming director says Crossover films, however, need to address more universal themes if they are to become mainstream cinema. How can crossover films remain crossover films if they become mainstream films??? Baat karataa hai!

Thursday, October 16, 2003

the dog's name was Kirkegaard

Finished The Salmon of Doubt, a posthumous collection of writ odds and ends (including the far-from-finished Dirk Gently novel that gives the collection its name), and an encomium to Douglas Adams. Includes gems like The Private Life of Genghis Khan, and Young Zaphod Plays it Safe, as well directions to make English tea the way it should be made, and notes on time travel and insurance policies. So long and thanks for all this, Douglas. We'll miss you.
the standards of commercial documentation

I've been playing around with version 9.0.3 of TopLink, a commercial O/R mapping persistence tool sold by Oracle (a licensing cost of about $7,000 per processor). Oracle bought TopLink from WebGain
(see also: origins of WebGain). Oracle currently (release 2 aka 9.0.2 or 9.0.3 -- the confusion somehow translates into more sales!) ships TopLink as a separate CD in the Oracle9iAS pack (the new 10g promises integration of TopLink into both Oracle9iAS and JDeveloper). I've been having a mixed experience with the Oracle Suite of Acquired Products (Oracle9iAS, JDeveloper, TopLink), and although my little test application using the developer preview of JDeveloper 10g (aka formerly ka 9.0.4), the first to provide some level of integration with the TopLink Mapping Workbench was a minor success (the strange documentation notwithstanding), I hit a small roadblock and went after the Javadocs for TopLink. Lo and behold! Bad javadocs. The page in question describes the XMLProjectReader class. Note how the parameters described do not match the method signatures. Given that there are so many fairly mature tools to automate most of the process of creating and compiling javadocs, I don't really understand how this can happen. Did this ship straight from WebGain and get shipped out again without as much as a cursory glance? I'm itching for the day when I can test the persistence frameworks in the public domain like Hibernate and implementations of JDO. Any $$$ saved in the process can compensate for any "extra" hours of learning with the lack of documentation (which is the same as learning with the overabundance of useless documentation). And any $$$ saved after all that can be safely donated to these worthy causes. No valid arguments for commercial bloatware come to mind. In the meantime, suffer in silence while the higher-ups dish out the dead presidents. Sigh!
KILL BILL VOL I updates (aka as expected, not everyone liked it) {see also: movie review}

James just pointed me to the latest issue of The New Yorker, especially noting David Denby's review of the new Tarantino flick. I quote verbatim: In this Quentin Tarantino fantasy pastiche of samurai and martial-arts films, the trunk of a body, its head lopped off, will spurt blood like a fountain. We know that the non-stop violence is not meant to be real: for starters, the blood looks like cranberry juice. Yet Tarantino is working in a photographic medium, and the real-world associations are not so easy to shrug off. Tarantino's heroine, Uma Thurman, kills another female warrior in front of the woman's little girl, and the child doesn't react. Tarantino wants the shock of a mother killed in front of her daughter without the audience undergoing any discomfort at all. The movie is what's formally known as decadence and commonly known as crap. Saying that it's an homage to long-established genres in Hong Kong doesn't reduce its pop-nihilistic stupidity. Some of the sequences have a scintillating visual flair, but you come out feeling nothing at all. And this is only the first half.

Meanwhile, Ingmar Bergman favourite Liv Ullman has issues with the violence in Hollywood and Bollywood movies ("When people see a movie, they should be able to identify with the characters. Films should deal with family life and values"), but is perfectly fine with the excessive song and dance: Ullmann said she is impressed with the amount of Indian culture and tradition visible in the country's cinema. "There is a lot of song and dance and, at times, it is far over the top. But there is so much of culture," she said

movie marketing

The latest edition of wownow's electronic newsletter (an AVS and Little India-supported notification about events that would interest the south asian community, in atlanta) has a Galaxy Cinema plug for Baghban (music reviewed here) which begins as: Best movie of the year: It will make you cry, so bring plenty of tissues! The perfect movie for the entire family. Now we know the formula for box-office success, don't we?

Wednesday, October 15, 2003


Got out of my office yesterday. Punched the button to invoke the down-elevator. The doors slid back. There were two ladies in the elevator. And I could hear a man's voice. Controlled. Rehearsed. Emotionless. Yet, there was no one else there. As I got in and the doors slid shut, I realized what it was: the voice was coming from the intercom. Someone was conducting a survey and was inviting participants to respond. And this message kept replaying ad nauseum. Luckily I had only a floor to descend. Telemarketing was bad enough. Now this.
more aural offerings

Samay: This had to happen. Remixes popping (no pun intended) up on movie soundtracks. DJ Na'ryan Beck and Jayanta Pathak are responsible for the first: Aaj kii raat, R D Burman's melody for Anamika, famously covered by the Kronos Quartet, gets the loud backing synth-rhythm-wraps-readymade-melody-and-drowns-out-most-of-the-lyrics treatment. Up next, Vaishali Samant dishes out her version (complete with the DJ mouthing a bleeped f-word) of R D's adaptation of the age of aquarius for Raja Rani, jab a.ndheraa hotaa hai. Sandeep Chowta steps out to provide booty shakers laailaa laailaa (yes, that's how sowmya raoh pronounces it) and some interesting background themes. {the indiafm review conveniently misses out on crediting RDB for aaj kii raat!}. The zi.ndagii reprise (losing to win) has a simple melody overlaid on an interestingly unsettling soundscape. The chase mixes clapping and furious percussion. And then we have the theme (who's that Southie-tinged voice??). And Sowmya Raoh returns with zi.ndagii, backed by pleasant nylon guitar fills and synth strings. A decent listenable melody. Why do parts of this song remind me of Pancham's zi.ndagii me.n aap aaye from Chhalia ?

Tehzeeb [press release | movie preview] (Beating JR once again!): Being Khalid Mohamed's second venture as writer/director. This time he bags ARR all the way. There's a strong sense of a hangover from Boys. What with I wanna be free (this is the 'Freedom' song slated for Namrata Shirodkar's item cameo). Yes, the riff is catchy and I liked the abrupt cut that ends the song. Shaan steps up to the mic next with khoyii khoyii aa.nkhe.n. Very ARR-esque: the soundscapes are interesting (even though in the case of this song, it seems like a melange of fragments from Alai Payuthe, Padayappa and Boys. Meharbaa.N meharbaa.N marks the return of ARR favourites Asha Bhosle and Sukhwinder Singh: my pick for the charts and a personal one too: a good soundscape (with some of the trademark ARR chord progressions), albeit a catchy one. Wonder when ARR will return to the non-danceables like Kamosh raat. Wonder why Raaga has two editions of the song -- didn't see any difference. Next up, Sujata Bhattacharya (who was first heard on Kuch Naa Kaho) with mujhape tuufaa.N uThaaye logo.n ne, a 7/8 song adapted from a ghazal by Momin Khan Momin. How many ghazals has ARR attempted before this? Can't say much for this song, although I would have really liked to. ARR's sound conversion pipeline transforms this potentially interesting composition and makes it his own; as a result the song loses out on lyrical impact (a complaint I have with most ARR songs anyways). The next offering (similar soundscape, 7/8 again) transitions seamlessly, which is a very very bad thing. It's more pleasant than the previous ghazal excursion. But the singer's pronunciation sucks in several places -- which leads me to wonder if Raaga got the versions (this one's billed as the one by Sujata; there's another one by Vijaya) mixed up; especially since the singer's malpronunciations seem to be of a South-Indian nature (I'm assuming that Vijaya is a South-Indian). Stuck in this morass of parochial criticism, I'd love a clarification. Up next, sabaq aisaa, an adaptation of a work by Nawab Mirza Dagh. The song's rhythm is so so wrong: it's more remix/dance-hall/lounge. And there's more of that hangover from Alai Payuthe. Good saxophone run though, but very much in keeping with the lounge bent. [more news] [filmfare preview]

misclynx (of a technical nature and then some)

python is a time bomb (in a good sense): "You didn't really mean to write it in Python, you say, it just happened." | open-source projects have a better sense of humour than corporate bloatware sites. case in point, nude pictures on the MiddleGen site | jon udell discusses software reuse, patterns and antipatterns (Dilbertian design patterns ... In the old days, we used to just call these 'bad ideas') ... and also revisits Nigerian spam with birthday greetings | time to link to ray ozzie's much-cited recent blog post on saving the browser (ref: the Eolas lawsuit against MSFT) | and another lesson in commenting code | using an agile software process with offshore development

{from The Guardian}:
The Catholic Church is telling people in countries stricken by Aids not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through which HIV can pass - potentially exposing thousands of people to risk.

The church is making the claims across four continents despite a widespread scientific consensus that condoms are impermeable to HIV.
... The WHO has condemned the Vatican's views, saying: "These incorrect statements about condoms and HIV are dangerous when we are facing a global pandemic which has already killed more than 20 million people, and currently affects at least 42 million.".

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

the last temptation of christ

I've been wanting to see Martin Scorsese's (banned in India) adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis' novel. The remastered release from The Criterion Collection is a double joy.
KILL BILL volume I: ROCKS!(WARNING: some spoilers!)

dismembered limbs. decapitated bodies. blood fountains all over. a cool cool (and cool again) soundtrack sourcing music from sources as diverse as postmodern asian rock bands doing rock n' roll and boogie-woogie, western instrumentals, brazilian riffs to bernard herrmann, isaac hayes and quincy jones. thankfully, i could spot the green hornet theme (itself laden with borrowings from rimsky-korsakov's the flight of the bumblebee), and ennio morricone and hayes, but i completely missed the herrmann. when I finally heard the track (from the work he did for a film called Twisted Nerve) (thanks to an online sampler), i didn't feel too bad: very very deceptive (and yet, very very herrmann). the pasha of blood and gore rears his head after 11 years to bring us a well-done pastiche of spaghetti westerns and 70s martial arts flicks complete with strange subtitles, in-jokes (Shaw-Scope, the presence of Sonny Chiba on the cast), excellently choreographed fight sequences and a simple plot. Yes, a simple plot: a tale of good old-fashioned revenge. The Bride (codename: Black Mamba) (her real name is bleeped every time someone -- to be precise, Copperhead -- utters it: all we know is the name she assumed for her fatal wedding, Arlene Machiavelli) is out for revenge -- the only survivor of an El Paso carnage (9 victims), she is now going to Kill Bill, (menacingly played by David Carradine, more homage!) her former employer (and lover) in the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, who is responsible for the bloody massacre, along with the other partners in crime: Copperhead, Cottenmouth, California Mountain Snake and Sidewinder. The film opens by proclaiming (in falsely-aged footage) that it has been made in Shaw-Scope (an ode to the Shaw Brothers, whose production company was responsible for myriad martial arts flicks). We are then introduced to the film's ultra-postmodernist bent as the opening quote comes up: "Revenge is a dish best served cold", an old Klingon proverb (the true origins of this phrase made famous by Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan are debatable). There's another Star Trek reference later on in the film, but don't let that worry you: fans of B-martial flicks will relish all the references bouncing across the place. There's enough blood and dismemberment in this grindhouse fest to satisfy all Tarantino fans (trust me: there's enough gore in the film to send you from shock to laughter in no time), and there's also some anime (which Tarantino elevates to new levels of bloodness). Now, all I have to do, is find something to do before volume II comes out. NOTE: If you're expecting a textured plot, forget it. Ever heard of a revenge flick with a multi-layered plot? Go fetch! And if you thought he was going to come up with something critically satisfying like Jackie Brown, perish the thought. This is a well-deserved return to Reservoir Dogs. Students of film genre and crossovers will relish the western soundtrack extracts playing over Asian martial arts action sequences.

related: the official web site | a more useful fan-run site | details about the soundtrack and the soundtrack review | the AMG page for the soundtrack | more soundtrack information from Maverick (the label releasing the soundtrack)
academy award winner eats unpeeled banana whole

K-PAX wasn't actually as bad as I was given to believe it would be. Spacey never gave me the impression that he was indulging in one of those "hey look here, I deserve an Oscar for this". In fact, the chemistry between him and Jeff Bridges helps the film. And mercifully the film maintains an ambiguity about whether Prot (Spacey's character) is indeed an alien or a kook. The only problem I had was the lack of any complex textures aside from a single narrow narrative exploring Prot's true identity and origin: everyone else just becomes part of the backdrop. Strong echoes of Field of Dreams and (surprise! surprise!) Ray's last film Agantuk.
welcome to pepsi-galli | darkly comic midwestern murder with an eye-popping contribution from a woodchipper

Vikram Bhatt's Footpath opens in a set whose centrepiece is (no guesses) the titular footpath (well, technically, a road, but I guess VB claims an artistic[sic] licence). The set looks suspiciously like the one that Mahesh Bhatt used for his musical desi-ization of Taxi Driver. Moreoever, the whole affair seems to have been heavily funded by Pepsi. Witness the billboards, the neon signs, the wall decals, shop shutters, and even the incorporation of the beverage into the plot. This is a tired tale of a real estate swindler on the run for a murder he did not commit as a kid, forced to return to the footpath of his childhood as a mole and try and get his childhood friends (who have graduated from being street urchins to drug peddlers) to come over to the good side. There's a lot of heavy-handed emotion, blank stares and screeching dialogue delivery from the vastly underrated ham called Bipasha Basu, bad performances from the rest of the cast (although Emraan Hashmi seems sincere enough in his début as Rahul Shrivastav). What really stinks about this film (and the currently-active Bhatt family as a whole, as filmmakers) is the plagiarism. This film is a reworking of one of Mahesh Bhatt's several assembly-line soulless pieces of crap called Angaarey. That in turn filched its foundation storyline from State of Grace. Trivia mongers may note that State of Grace was also the source for the famous Sanjay Dutt/Aditya Pancholi burn-and-run sequence in Sanjay Gupta's Aatish. And we all know about Sanjay Gupta's strong candidacy for the Hall of Fame for Plagiarism (last attempt at asserting the same: Kaante).

Finally watched Fargo. The Coen Brothers retain their now-diminishing flair for rude darkly-comic deadpan takes on people, accents (the midwest is the target here), milieux, and human failings (grotesque faux pas, kidnapping, deceit, robbery, murder). The hype got ahead of this film though. Which probably also explains why their subsequent films have had less bite and more mainstream elements (e.g. O Brother, Where Art Thou?). Must also note the Kubrick references:

welcome to paradise square

Gangs of New York could well have been Martin Scorsese's The Godfather II. Technically, it's there. It's his magnum opus. What lets it down is the story. To be precise, it's just that I kept getting the feeling that Scorsese was not as at ease as a storyteller. His oeuvre speaks volumes of his mastery of the craft of filmmaking, his love for his craft, and his expertise at telling layered stories with well-developed characters. This tale of revenge (which seemed like the theme for this week for my moviewatching) does not get enough counterpoint. It's a good film, but misses out on being a great one. The DVD is chock-full of special features, and my pick would have to be the stupendous set designed at Cinecitta Studios in Rome (yes, a film about old New York shot completely in Rome!). The performances are first-rate too, but I really wish I could shake off the feeling of being bogged down by darkness and depression. But since I wasn't ever bored watching it (the last time I had to change DVDs was with The Godfather II), I'd still recommend it.
phase II: yeh kya ho raha hai, mumbai matinee{see also: phase I}
An evening with Pt Sanjeev Abhyankar

ICMS concluded their official 2003 season with a vocal performance by the young and amazingly talented Pandit Sanjeev Abhyankar accompanied by Harshad Kanetkar on Tabla and Ajay Joglekar on Harmonium (whose incessantly fluid runs and followons reminded me of Jon Lord). The performance started off at 2:30pm, adding an afternoon flavour to the choice of raags, which, thanks to some audience feedback, stayed far away from stuff usually performed and already heard (in previous concerts this year): an informal warmup in Chhaayaa Nat, Madhuva.ntii, Kalaavatii, Baageshrii, Megh, a bhajan each by Kabiir and Raamadaas Samarth, and finally an Eknaath gavLaN, before ending with Bhairavii.

A post-concert dinner allowed me to chat with PSA, and it was as casual as a typical kaTTaa conversation. I asked him about his work with Vishal and got a lot back: How his image as an established "prodigy" in Hindustani classical music prevented a lot of work coming his way (simply because most people would ask "kyaa ye gaa_e.Nge?"). How Vishal approached him for the brief alaap in Maachis, and how the more elaborate contribution on Godmother garnered him the National Award (which incidentally had more merit than the other awards being dished out to popular mainstream cinema simply because he was close to being a nobody in the film playback circuit). He even talked about his work with Vishal on a commercial for mineral water (I was lost here; being away from India means zero information about the latest in TV ads!). And then we got to Maqbool. Yes, he has a song on the album (as do Daler Mehndi -- who last collaborated with Vishal on Chupke Se and Sadhana Sargam). He was very very satisfied with his work, and there's hope for another National Award. The film and its soundtrack are on my list, but I have to wait till next month for anything more to come out.

While on the subject of Maqbool, JR unearths an interesting angle from the connection-monger's POV.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

what sort of readers does rediff invite?

A question that I constantly ask as I monitor the 'movies' section filled with articles with tones of pure adulation, badly-expressed interesting thoughts, run-of-the-mill clichéd phrases. And the occasionally decent article (decent = writing as best as you can while sticking to the generally low-calibre target reader). Take Prem Panicker's retrospective on an interview with Rekha (who celebrated her birthday yesterday). Mr Panicker eloquently describes, as best he can, a 15-minute interview that Rekha had granted him, embellishing this with tidbits about the guru-errant shishyaa relationship between Rekha and Sridevi and the personal crisis in Rekha's life, which tempered her responses. After this rather refreshing take, you scroll down to the readers' comments section and see the following response: The writer should remember that, it is not possible for every one to understand the language and expression, hence I request the writer / journalist to present it in a simple way so as to convey the right meaning.. Should I rant about this or just dismiss this as something you can expect: Rediff is a rather mainstream portal and the mainstream has a very low collective awareness quotient. Attempting to write something of reasonable quality can often be an almost insurmountable obstacle. At Mr Panicker tried. The rest is a few mouseclicks away.
Joggers Park: Phase II

Not much to report here, after the rather disappointing experience in Phase I. There are a few good moments, but the film is shoddily written. And that pulsating title track MUST GO.

Friday, October 10, 2003

corrections, questions, and more

So I gaffed (as JR and Sudarshan relished to point out) in referring to Zeenat as Dimple in my rant on Boom. And it turns out that when I lauded Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar! (and an undeservedly sparse take that was too) I neglected to mention Hansal Mehta's cameo: there's a scene where Gaitonde and Ram Saran are sitting outside a shop and talking (what about, I forget ... perhaps it's the movie that Gaitonde has to shoot ... ). There's a guy sitting to their left with a cellphone and whispering into it. He even gets jibes from Gaitonde as well at several points in the conversation. That's director Hansal Mehta. In his comments to my take on Mehta's wonderful second film Chhal, JR indicates a different instance. Confirmations or refutes most welcome.

Addendum to my Chhal exultation: Screenwriter Suparn Verma was kind enough to respond with information on his cameo in the film (quote, with permission): The cameo i played was just for fun, its a [m]ontage sequence in the begining when KayKay's character is being trained on the job and behind shown various files. I'm the guy with the sound equipment, at one stage I even hold a spool of tape up. That's me!. Thanks, Suparn.

Why does Mukesh Rishi seem to keep playing Muslim inspectors (mostly called Khan) in so many movies: Sarfarosh (Inspector Salim), Dum and Koi ... Mil Gaya???

And in a more careful look at Chokher Bali Mohua Mitra when referring to Aishwarya Rai's much-talked-about presence in the film writes: Rai exudes this nymph-like aura all through the film. That is about all she contributes to the role. The various shades in Binodini's character are beyond the reach of many actors. Rai, with her modest acting abilities, just about meets the director's careful instructions regarding dialogue delivery and movement of the eye or hand.

Also, one does feel like questioning (this is more to do with Ghosh's dubbing instructions than Rai's portrayal) Binodini's English-speaking skills. A few years of training at home with an English nun does not normally enable an Indian girl in the first decade of the last century -- unexposed to Western society at large -- to speak English with a perfect accent, stopping only to fumble with the word 'spleen'.

Mahesh Manjrekar's Rakht is based supposedly on The Gift. All this and more, as Bollywood begins inundating a new[sic] genre: mathematically interesting multi-entity relationships (entity = human, for now).

why inspecting a turkey sandwich won't stop movie piracy: Roger Ebert rants about Jack Valenti

An update on Vishal's Maqbool, destined for a November release date.

RGV talks to Bhawana Somaaya: Today, I'm not even sure if I'm that obsessed with holding on the megaphone. It does not matter who directs the film as long as my banner is producing it. I enjoy being a content generator. I enjoy stimulating discussions. My struggle is not to excel but to do what I believe in. To make films that my heart dictates and to hell with the formulas!.

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