Tuesday, December 21, 2004

the state of cable [Pune, December 22, 2004]

Just when I thought I could sample something on the cable channels in Pune. I have already given up on TV and cable in the US and restrict myself to planned uninterrupted movie sessions (no ads, no pan-and-scan). The state of the cable channels in Pune (point of reference: the cable channels my cablewaalaa offers) didn't fill me with any desire to kill the habit. The only things that I have managed to catch consistently are glimpses of B-movies (seen and unseen) and feeds from the different news channels (a good way to pass time is to catch errors in grammar and stylish gaffes in enunciation on the Hindi and English news channels). And I propose the addition of the phrase "Amitabh Bachchan" as a synonym for "commercial break". Every second commercial has him popping up spouting some catch phrases or breaking out into one of his classic poses. And all the "exclusive premieres" feature movies that have already received their share of viewing in the comfort of the living room abroad (Main Hoon Na, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Ab Tak Chhappan). Despite all the disappointment, there were a few silver streaks:

* Sajan starring Manoj Kumar and the irritating Asha Parekh with a slim-and-trim Shatrughan Sinha and a host of terrible familiars and unfamiliars. The plot is a classic Bollywood variant on the theme of Rashomon seasoned with the elements of a murder mystery. There's Om Prakash using shudh Hindi years before Chupke Chupke and a priceless couplet that goes: tum ho ##Queen##-a, mai.n huu.N ##King##-a, kyaa banogii ##Darling##.

* Mehndi, the other not-so-famous early Rani Mukherjee starrer, which features a host of loud screamers like Himani Shivpuri, a river of nameless zombie faces, and Joginder playing an inspector called Bheeshma, who seems destined to die at the hands of a hija.Daa. There are lots of ROTFL-friendly dialogue bits to brighten up the darkest hour.

* Anil Sharma's classic loud-fest Tehelka featuring a ton of famous actors indulging in unmentionable hamming excursions and greetings like "bom chik bom bom/long live Dong". Anu Malik deserves a pat on the back for creating the psychedelically hideous mess that is shom shom.

* Khalifa: The first RDB-scored forgotten flick in this list. All the pre- and post-commercial break slides on Star Gold insisted on calling the film kaafilaa (instead of Kalifaa). The premise and execution of this tale is sufficiently twisted to get it a few notches above the average dance/drama/action thriller involving separated twins. Randhir Kapoor plays the twins, one good, the other bad, and there's even a subtle counterpoint of upbringing and nature that presages the premise of Dharam Karam. The songs are fun, but (always IMHO) better heard than seen (except for the chuckles that Randhir's wild dancing[sic] can provide).

* Caught a shard of Basu Chatterjee's Dillagi starring Dharmendra and Hema Malini (hmm: Son Sunny was also involved in a film with the same name years later. Wonder how many other examples exist like this?)

* Kroadh: Early 90s angry-young-men-against-injustice flick most famous for the Amitabh Bachchan cameo singing na fanakaar tujh saa tere baad aayaa at ek shaam rafii ke naam. There are the usual low-on-accuracy-and-detail moments: Sanjay Dutt has a nightmare involving Sunny Deol's execution. Deol is dressed in prison garb (#145). Dutt wakes, screams in complaint, and then sets out running to the prison cell(note that there is no sign of any security anywhere) where Deol is taking a siesta dressed in the same outfit.
a stylish journey sans substance [being a take on Musafir] [Pune, December 18, 2004]

I marked my baptism at E-square with Sanjay Gupta's latest bright flash in the pan paean to Hollywood. This time around the most obvious source was only one (instead of the at-least-two approach), Oliver Stone's U-Turn based on John Ridley's moderately entertaining Stray Dogs. Sanjay Gupta indulges in his usual heady excessive trip on style and as was the case with Kaante, the style becomes irritating after a while (especially the variations in film speed). The downsides are several: the film visibly flounders about and inches painfully to the end thanks to the absence of a gripping coherent narrative; Koena Mitra looks bad and cheap, and has a terrible voice to match (need I even mention that the word "author-backed" would be completely inappropriate for her part?); Sameera Reddy's much-publicised bold role sadly joins the masses of Udita Goswami, Isha Koppikar, Amrita Arora, Neha Dhupia and the like (although mercifully SR is a bit more restrained). And her accent is more pronounced this time around. And why oh why are the cuss words censored after slapping the film with an A certificate? On the plus side, Sanjay Dutt is clearly having fun hamming it to the hilt. As is Mahesh Manjrekar. Anil Kapoor's sincerity soon moves to sticking out like a sore thumb in an enterprise that didn't ever intend to take itself seriously. Aditya Panscholi's tonsure is his only plus. There's a lot of harmless skin on display, and the film is just a mild exercise in family-rated soft porn. Dutt's knife is the coolest part of the film. And the soundtrack -- which I still dig -- doesn't measure up on the screen (the theatre's robust sound system was unfortunately fed a signal that was heavy on bass and little else). And pray who was the voice on the not-on-the-soundtrack female antaraas of duur se paas jo aaye? The theatre scored a minor plus by featuring all the end credits (note the typo in SHERYA GHOSHAL). And keen observers will note a lot amiss with the print in circulation, especially the second half: there's a small exchange between AK and MM about payment (reference: the preview) and another between AK and SR about an alternative plan for the night (reference: the preview; later on in the film when AK actually enters the house). Perhaps the good old VHS when I get back to the USA will come in handy.

Would some safety-conscious person do something about that spiral staircase we had to use when getting out of the hall at the end of the film?

cruciform verbiage

[Pune, December 22, 2004]

I've just paid a visit to two of Crossword's few outlets in Pune. The second was the one I've been to before the first, and probably still the best of the lot, at Sohrab Hall. The second was the one next to the Deccan side of Gadgil Bridge. The places don't get any points for content on the books front. The International Book Service near Sambhaji Bridge has been the silent modest winner in this category for years. And let's not even begin comparisons involving chains in the US like Borders and Barnes and Noble. Pune is a city that (hopefully) hasn't lost its taste for reading and music. But Crossword unfortunately has spartan vibes that don't do this taste any justice.

The semblance of order and arrangement is a weak façade. The books have no order, and it was a special pain to sift through the Marathi section at the Deccan outlet not counting the time spent in determining the attributes used to arrange the books. And there was the painful sight of out-of-date labels (P. L. Deshpande) adorning shelves that bore no content by or about the late great writer. And, with reference to the Sohrab Hall branch, why does Shashi Tharoor's Riot pop up in both the Indian Fiction section in the middle and the Indian section against the wall?

And then we move to the music section. Dismal. Although I love spending time sifting patiently through items in this section in any store, the Crossword arrangement left me fuming. First exhibit: the rickety black supports used to restrain the items on each shelf. Second exhibit: the sardine-like stuffing approach adopted to place music on the shelves. Third exhibit: the now-familiar lack of classification. Fourth exhibit: what idiot thought it was cool to pack CDs face-to-the-customer-title_spine-to-the-left in blocks and then pack these blocks into the shelves leaving us with a total visibility equal to the number of blocks (the first CD in each) and the spines in the leftmost block. A quick analysis of space left me even more confused; all they had to do was flip the blocks over so that the spines would be on top (enabling readability and speeding up selection), while still retaining the same number of CDs (perhaps even more) on each shelf. And I was surprised that the number of tapes was much greater than the number of CDs.

A casual visitor might think I just found another horse to flog. But I hope there's someone at Crossword, who takes a hint from You Got Mail (clue: they're tending towards being the clueless big store instead of the caring small store).

Which brings me somehow to a revised more positive take on Bombay's Rhythm House. I remember visiting it a few years ago and not being too impressed by it (I'm still not sure why). But this time, several years later, and after being exposed to the largesse of the US, I went crazy in the store. I truly deserved the shopping bag they gave me. And the assistant (darn! I forgot to get his name) deserved kudos for being in the know on stuff. He even fished out some not-yet-catalogued CDs for me to peruse. It was a pleasure doing business there. Admittedly, most of my vim came from the $/Rupee conversion euphoria. But I'm glad there's something that makes it easier for me to spend a bit more on music. I've been second-guessing myself a lot. If only I could make another trip before the eventual flight back to the land of excess. But then there's always the next time. In the meantime, here's a resounding recommendation.

happy sesquicentenary COEP [Pune, December 16, 2004]

The biggest irony about the celebration of this birthday was that my undergraduate engineering college COEP (now regrettably TIFKAC � The Institute Formerly Known As COEP) no longer bears that name in the official sense of the word. It now has the bland-as-unsalted-cowdung moniker of PIET (Pune Institute of Engineering and Technology). The second thing that sent me into splits was the choice of this interesting English word to describe the birthday. Given the generally anaemic English vocabulary exercised in the place, I can see people stumbling over this phrase every time they had to use it. Mercifully, the festivities will be over soon.

The first time I had heard about this badly marketed blast was when I was googling about for something and ended up at the fakely impressive front for a website for COEP alumni. What does "Fakely impressive" mean? Well, the first thing that hits you on the front page is this massive flashy image and then as you click through the links, you are transported to pages that don't match up to all the zing. A pity, really.

A phone call and an old friend were enough motivation to be involved at the last minute (no surprise here!) in the cultural proceedings on Thursday, December 16, 2004. It was both a pleasure and honour to get a chance to perform along with past students whose Firodiya exploits I had only heard; alumni who had since made a mark for themselves � Vijay Koparkar and Ramdas Palsule (whom, coincidentally, I had met under different circumstances in Atlanta earlier this year). And then there was Milind Mulick, whose live painting done in tandem with a musical performance went up for auction and netted a good sum (I wonder who gets to pocket the cash though! � making a donation to the always-underfed cultural fund would be a good idea).

But the most interesting aspect of the evening was that not one soul used the new moniker to refer to the college. Apparently, even the alumni felicitated in the morning's events were critical of the change. I have no idea what the reasons behind the re-naming were, but the college has a 150-year old legacy with the name, and I contend that it's indelible enough to be worth fighting for.

In sharp counterpoint to the great celebration were the frugal and unimaginative lights adorning the old dusty buildings, a few forgotten metal boards bearing the old college name, and a landscape that hasn't changed over the years despite the insistence of the administration of measures to move forward (trifles like a uniform -� ugh!, autonomy [an argument similar to the one about India not being prepared to deal with the independence it had gained in 1947 comes to mind], revised syllabi) while continuing to ignore the most fundamental problem (a completely incompetent faculty).

Friday, December 17, 2004

from india: on the events of december 11, 2004

JR draws first blood with most of the details. I remember the "sudden right" so JR probably lost his magic touch on directions by the time he got down to putting his thoughts to electrons.

And now for the minor detail at Sujata (a familiar haunt for Mastani fans). We enter and take our seats at a table. Nothing seems to have changed. I don't remember the prices, although JR and BVHK assure me that things haven't changed significantly (or at all!). Our server approaches with the no-nonsense i-don't-believe-in-all-that-sham-about-sycophantic-procedure silent sullen look. He dumps three glasses of water onto the table. We tell him what we want. He leaves. We chat. He returns to take away our glasses of water before trumping down three Mastanis. Yep. Stop right there and wonder why he did that. Also noted was the reduction in the amount of Mastani served. All gripes aside, this is still a great place to chill (purely for content; if you want ambience, try the Gadgil Bridge).

A short stop at Pankaj (now credit-card-aware) with my piece of sliced plastic in tow, and I walk out with a medium cache of musical goodies. The place displays a simple and no-frills organisation, which in retrospect I found the most appealing of the music stores I visited -- the clutter of the old stores, although a nice touch for the eventual joy of discovering something rare, is sometimes an annoyance, especially when you keep ending up with blackened fingers. The billing system needs to move to an electronic equivalent, and it would be good to get rid of pen-and-paper for the cataloguing. Still, this place manages to get a thumbs-up for overall appeal as a music store [the classical music section is a favourite among friends, I am told].

And the final stop of the evening was Sudarshan Hall ["suddenly" near the Ahilyabai Girls School] for a staging of Final Draft by Girish Joshi (a COEP expat, a great creative influence and good friend). I have had the pleasure of catching only one of GJ's previous plays, Abhinetri starring Vandana Gupte (a good ice-breaker when I walked up to speak to her after a performance in naandaa saukhyabhare in Atlanta in the summer of 2001). This one was not only scripted by Girish, but enjoyed his directorial and acting inputs as well with able support from the only other player, Mukta Barve. The control and projection in the performances was remarkable. The plot was nothing unfamiliar: a screenwriting teacher finds himself a saddled with the challenging task of motivating a student who seems to be grappling with a lot in life. The underlying threads that strengthen the plot hinge on the fundamental trade-off between art and commerce. Given Girish's current work, the play even seems to take on an autobiographical tone. There was lots of Yanni in the background cues. And I loved the terminal piece of lighting direction. All in all, a great way to begin the brief hiatus back home.

Monday, December 06, 2004

spaghetti killed the cowboy star [december 01, 2004]

Of the numerous cheap DVD sets I dug out of the discount bins at Wal*Mart is a 2-DVD 4-movie set that has a Lee Van Cleef double bill. The first one is called Beyond the Law. Spaghetti to the core (complete with vertical-deviant aspect ratio conversions and bad dubbing), this one boasts a score by Riz Ortolani (one of the many spaghetti composers who got their share of mainstream-cult limelight thanks to QT's Bill duet). The second one, which was the reason I picked up this set, is another Lee Van Cleef starrer (duh! it's a double bill) called Death Rides a Horse. Famous for the infamous Morricone track that did not make it to the official KB Vol I soundtrack, this flick has other nuggets to boast:

* The strong similarities to the plot of Joshilay, that aborted Shekhar Kapur project that was helmed to the finish line by Sibte Hasan Rizvi

* Lee Van Cleef paraphrases the quote about revenge being a dish best served cold

* Small identifying marks for each of the dudes that John Philip Law's character is seeking out for revenge (a tattoo of four aces on a chest; a spur/earring; a facial scar)

* A piano player is asked to hit a note three times to count down to a shoot out

* A golden bit of dialogue from LVC: I have 5 words for you: fifteen thousand plus fifteen thousand

Monday, November 29, 2004

Nothing is more reliable than a man whose loyalties can be bought with hard cash

[november 28, 2004]

Ever since his exile from the US of A to escape the charges of molestation, Roman Polanski has been an interesting case study in constrained filmmaking. The occasional need to find alternatives would almost liken him to Orson Welles, who would take up acting assignments and the like to be able to fund portions of his movies, scenes of which were often conceived and filmed based on where Welles was at the time, and the resources he had at his disposal. Polanski seems to be doing better than Welles, though, because each film he has made since he fled has garnered just about as much media attention as it would have had he still been in the US of A. While The Pianist was Polanski's way of dealing with the demons of his past (call it his Schindler's List if you like, but shorn of the schmaltz and comfortable grief that Spielberg showers his films with), The Ninth Gate takes him (and viewers) back to the creepy classic Rosemary's Baby. Johnny Depp wonderfully goes through the motions of his character with the ease that you have come to expect of him. The film's narrative is not very complex, and the denouement was a tad unsatisfying. Yet, there was enough there to keep me from doubting Polanski's ability to deliver the goods. A curious thing about the DVD: there were no subtitles, but it came with a director's commentary track. Quite unsettling and inconvenient. Onward to a mix of personal notes based on the film and the commentary:

* The pre-credit sequence is a classic mix of stretched tension, economy of speech (in fact, nothing is spoken at all) and attention to detail: when a part of the chandelier comes loose to shower some plaster onto the floor, you almost expect the suicide attempt to fail.

* The opening credits play against the first-person journery of the camera through nine gates. They appear just like streetlights and signs on road dividers, except at a much slower rate. The title of the film appears last, just before the ninth gate. The gate then opens up to a flash of light that fades into a view of a city skyline, which, as the camera pulls back, turns out to be a view from a window.

* As Bernie makes an appreciative comment about the copy of The Nine Gates, the camera pulls away slowly from his left to draw our attention to the window behind him (this is a basement room, so the window looks out on the street), where, in focus, we see a pair of feet clad in formal shoes (with formal pants to match) walking away to the left of the screen; a cigarette falls, and just as we see some smoke rise from the lit end, a pair of sneakers (matched with a pair of blue jeans) appears from the right, the cigarette is squashed, and this pair of feet follows the first one.

* The driver of the cab is a Sardarji, who has to mouth a lot of useless lines including the irritatingly repetitive "no problem, sir" (wonder if Polanski hated NY cabbies ...)

* Kilar's score is nicely creepy and even features a motif that sounds so familiar I wonder if Sandeep Chowta had ever discovered and filched it.

* There's a nice edit cut matching the flick of a switch to turn on the lights in a café that Depp's character is waiting in to shake off a tail

* The last credit in the acknowledgements section of the end credits reads: "intellectual properties management, atlanta, georgia as exclusive licensor of the king estate". An explanation of this is welcome.

* The film was shot on location in France, Portugal, Spain and at Studios d'Epinay, Paris.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Three Movies

dance with me [November 25/26, 2004]

Unfortunately, what worried me most about RGV's latest venture Naach were, paradoxically enough, the dances. Some of the slower drawn-out sequences (despite the potential for déjà vu) were engaging, but the full-fledged dances (backed by a soundtrack that has only evoked mixed reactions from me no matter how many times I listened to it) were a bit troublesome and tough to sit through. What works for the film comes from the performances of the lead pair: Abhishek Bachchan and Antara Mali (despite having nothing really appealing in her looks that would please the majority crowd). And Ritesh Deshmukh marks a step forward with a competent supporting performance as the potential third vertex in a triangle of emotions. Thematically, RGV returns to territory he last visited with Rangeela. I don't see this film matching that one's success, despite being closer to RGV's heart. Simply because the comparisons are inevitable, and because of the fickle mix of reasons that a film works. And the opening sequence is a clincher for those looking to make comparisons. Just like that film, we open with a scene in slow-motion (held for a longer while here) as Shweta Pandit's wonderful rendition of the beautifully arranged title track (love those conches!) fills our ears. The montage of dance ends with the fading rhythm track morphing into the ticking of a bedside alarm clock. The rest of the film evokes another classic about a couple torn apart by success, Abhimaan. Aside from the uncredited use of Riders on the Storm by The Doors, we have digs at film personalities like Subhash Ghai and Farah Khan. And then there's the in-joke with an unhappy director noting "ga.ndaa hai par dha.ndaa hai" about a song he has to picturise. And the short exchange during the climactic moments when the two are clear about how they feel about each other was nice:
abhinav (abhishek): ... tum bhii mujh se pyaar karatii ho?
revaa (antara): aur kyaa?

All said and done, while the overall experience is not a stupendous achievement, it's a good entry in the RGV canon.

merchants of the night [November 24-25, 2004]

Raat ke Saudagar marks a return to the world of Bs for your humble viewer. The film's narrative (for what it's worth) deals with Saudagar-esque (Ghai, not Sudhendu Roy) themes (friends who turn enemies thanks to misunderstandings blah blah), and was probably shot at night (thus giving you the title ... chuckle, chuckle). The cast boasts a roster that includes Suresh Oberoi, Mohan Joshi, Neena Gupta, Reema Lagu, Kiran Kumar, Kader Khan and Anant Mahadevan (who gets the award for best named character: shaaNyaa). On the bad song front we have Asha Bhonsle belting out "logo.n ne kahaa mujhe gu.D kii Daalii (##curfew## lag gayaa jab Thumak ke chalii)" for Dilip Sen-Sameer Sen. Bad lines like beTe, ham ne teraa naam baa.Nke is liye nahii.n rakhaa thaa ki ko_ii bhii tujhe TeDhaa\-baa.Nkaa kar ke Daal de abound. And then there's the following exchange between Kiran Kumar (KK) and Neena Gupta (NG):
KK: ham aaj raat aap ko apanaa (right hand pats his heart) mahamaan banaanaa chaahate hai.n
NG: (dons ghuu.NghaT) mahamaananawaazii kaa shukriyaa Thaakur saahab. lekin aa_ine pattharo.n ke mahamaan banakar TuuT jaayaa karate hai.n
KK: bahut khuub. bahut khuub raanii b(h)aaii. aap ke inakaar karane kii adaa hame.n pasa.nd aa_ii. magar ye mat bhuulo ki aa_iine agar pattharo.n ke mahamaan banakar TuuT jaate hai.n (deeper whisper) to pattharo.n se Takaraakar bhii TuuT jaayaa karate hai.n
NG: beshak Thaakur saahab. lekin Takaraakar TuuT jaane me.n aa_iine kaa Guruur to salaamat rah jaataa hai.

There's the usual abuse of stock music (the Betaab theme appears for one fight sequence, and the theme from Black Rain -- overused in Ghayal -- appears during another). And if you had to even dare to pick out a gaffe you could try the match-on-action issue when a corrupt politician looks to the left of the screen and calls out to Rakesh, and there's a cut to Rakesh entering from the right side of the screen.

The print I caught boasted random flashes of orange-red across portions of the film. This makes it very unlikely that a decent negative survives. So much for preservation for posterity.

to meet again... [November 22-23, 2004]

Revathy's Phir Milenge is a commendable sober entry in the small genre of films that revolve around the subject of AIDS (and the usual social stigma and ignorance associated with it). The echoes of Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia are undeniable. My problem with the film is just some of the acting and the casting. Salman Khan's image carries him through what isn't much of a performance. Shilpa Shetty narrowly escapes being a profoundly grating on-screen presence. Abhishek Bachchan continues to be sincere (and, as another plus, he even wrote his speech at the end). There's Revathy in a cameo as the doctor who makes the crucial discovery. Liked how Revathy used an edit to convey the extent of shock: when Dr. Rai Singh (Revathy) tells Tamanna (Shilpa) that she has AIDS, we cut to a snippet from the past when Tamanna was informed of the death of her parents in an accident. The association helps us understand the effect this new piece of bad news has on Tamanna. And I liked the diegetic use of khul ke muskuraa de (as a song played on the radio for a dedication). Nasser's appearance in the movie relies on his impressive on-screen presence and the dubbing talents of Ninaad Kamat (someone refresh my memory here ... why have I heard this name before?). And the film must surely merit a few points for featuring the classic tongue twister after a long long consideration we come to the conclusion that the matriculation examination is a big big botheration to the indian nation whose main occupation is cultivation. On the subtitle front, there is clearly no hope. I beseech you becomes I besiege you.

elsewhere: soundtrack notes

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

rollerball [november 22, 2004]

Rollerball, the original version directed by Norman Jewison starring James Caan, not the Stallone remake, presents us with yet another view of the future. Like The Running Man (the Bachman/King book, and the core of the screen adaptation starring Arnold Schwarzenegger), the main attraction of the future is a deathly sport called Rollerball, which combines ice hockey, motor-cross racing and American football. The game is designed so that the individual cannot possibly succeed. The current champion, and our protagonist, is Jonathan E, who is pushed to rebellion when he comes face-to-face with the prevalent corporate mechanics of the game. That last aspect rings so true when you consider the world of sport today, where it seems so much less about the game (hardly at all, in fact) and more about the products and brands endorsed, the breaks and timeouts that are coordinated for running commercials, and the associated marketing, memorabilia and gimmickry. It all ceases to be about the sport and the coordination of mind and body. This is one of the things that still give the film a certain viability despite the passing years. The other aspect is the extent to which corporates have grown and assumed more control in the future. While we have different cities associated with resources (Houston is the Energy City and Chicago is the Food City), we have the Energy Corporation, we also have the corporate anthem and the corporate hymn. We note that classified books are transcribed (by librarians at computer centres) and summarised. Then there's the detail about people firing at trees and blowing them up. Insanity rules at the conceptual and social level. Life has become a piece of controlled entertainment. And the entertainment is a giddy bike ride along the perimeter of the well of death.

Monday, November 22, 2004

who's yanni? /And if evil is your black design, you can bet the goodness of the Light Ones ... will kick your bad behind

Session 9 [november 21, 2004] rakes in points by the forest for atmosphere: lots of colour filters, moody performances, and grim proceedings. This is a film that doesn't tout or rely on either its narrative or its end, but in tow with them offers a surreal and nightmarish challenge to our perceptions of dream and reality. Director Brad Anderson also made The Machinist, but that's still in the queue.

Bubba Ho-Tep [November 22, 2004] is a wonderful mix of camp and high concept. With disbelief, you note that it's roots lie in a short story. Here's the general premise: Elvis didn't die. He switched identities with an impersonator of his called Sebastian Haff. So while Sebastian Haff went about being the King, the King himself toured as Sebastian Haff impersonating the King. The King is now killing time and flies in a seedy decrepit resting home. The King is played by Bruce Campbell, who delivers a socks-blowing performance. Our other player is JFK. JFK survived the assassination attempt. They then did a medical switcheroo on him and turned him into a black guy. He is also a patient at the same nursing home. Ossie Davis Jr. affords the part the appropriate blend of seriousness and humour. The villain of the piece is an ancient mummy who is feeding off the residents of the nursing home and only our heroes seem to know and understand enough to deal with the situation. This rollicking enterprise is well serviced by Brian Tyler's surfy soundtrack. There are lots of tiny details to relish: references to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Hustler magazine; a nice sequence that mixes Elvis in his car and Elvis in the creaky hospital bed; Egyptian graffiti on the wall of a cubicle in the toilet; the addendum to the standard copyright protection notice at the end promising infringers the "wrath of Bubba Ho-Tep"; a tip-of-the-hat to the promises at the end of the Saltzman/Broccoli Bond films that informs us Elvis returns in BUBBA NOSFERATU "Curse of the She-Vampires" starring Sebastian Haff [april 22, 2005: this one just got announced!]; and the note at the very end those of you who are watching, be kind rewind. that's right; guess with a DVD you don't have to do that anymore. The special features are cute too. All in all, a sumptuous off-beat offering. Director Don Coscarelli was also the father of the Phantasm series. I've only seen the first part, and it's sufficiently weirdly interesting to merit a viewing.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Two groups? What, the "will be eaten" and the "won't be eaten"? [november 18, 2005]

Haven't seen the first edition, but this second one packs some wallop. Lots of dark earthy tones, and the "creature" itself benefits from never being completely visible long enough to send you snickering. The first film packed enough nails in its script to prevent a sequel. Chiefly, it was the rule that this creature got to feed for 23 days every 23rd Spring. Producer Francis Ford Coppola found an simple way out: set the sequel during the same 23 days as the first movie (specifically, on the 23rd day, thus preventing further sequels as well). The way this one got made was thanks to a technicality that allows this one to co-exist without making leaps of faith that pepper all the other sequel-laden franchises (razor fingers, hockey masks, William Shatner masks). I liked the use of the dissolve that took you from a shot of the strange knife(?) left by "it" in the wall to a long shot of the bus with people lying on the top. I also liked the movie nod in the scene when Kimball falls back stunned by a sudden flight of birds (one of his teammates screams out "Tippi Hedren man!").

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

titular hints about a twisted denouement to another rip-off [aka Bajpai notches more Rana points] [aka Inteqam]

One of the things that underscores the sad state of the Bombay film industry is the career development of two eminently talented still-underused performers, Ashutosh Rana and Manoj Bajpai. Rana made a splash as Gokul the rapist in the Tanuja Chandra-directed Mahesh Bhatt-scripted (read "adapted/filched") Dushman. Bajpai made his mark as Bhiku Mhatre in RGV's excellent yet slightly flawed Satya, and in a sheer Welles-ian turn of events, ended up getting slotted for life. In an ideal world that afforded encouragement to talent and potential, both Rana and Bajpai would have received more opportunities to prove their worth. In the not-so-ideal world (aka our world), Rana gets slotted in minor roles in flicks both from the Bhatt camp (Gunaah) and beyond (Danger, Chot, Guru Mahaguru). Bajpai shows up in roles of varying merit (Kaun, Road, Pinjar, Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar!), and roles which make you wonder how *anyone* could keep their brains and marbles straight (Jaago, Fiza). And that the two delivered the best performances in a toilet clogger like LOC: Kargil should only cement the argument.

Which brings us to Inteqam, a movie that Bajpai clearly did for the moolah. This film achieves a lot during the course of its running time. It almost confirms beyond a doubt that Pankaj Parashar has lost it. It makes you wonder how people could get away with a soggy rip-off like this that makes the original (Basic Instinct) look like Citizen Kane. In fact, this film adds a counter-twist beating the original's predictable untwisted twist to the finish line in the race of confusion and bewilderment.

Onward ho. Truly relishing every moment in this film fuelled by the intelligence of a drying heap of elephant dung, Manoj Bajpai plays renegade cop (ACP) uday vire.ndranaath Thaakur (for syllabic similarity see also vijay diinaanaath chauhaan [yes, yes, puuraa naam]). The film opens with this potentially interesting shot of UVT sitting on a white bench with the wind blowing paper cups all around. After a badly lensed and edited[sic] fight sequence (fulfilling the requirement of introducing our hero through a display of his maaraa-maarii skills), we segue into the opening credits that abuse bad CGI, derive heavily (without credit) from the opening sequences of the Broccoli/Saltzman 007 flicks, while employing an electronically mixed marsh of alaaps and saragams. The other person who enjoys a notable introduction is Ishaa Koppikar (who honestly should have taken a hint from the success of her item number in Company and stuck to that niche). The first thing you see is her derriere sashaying away in abandon for the voyeuristic camera as she pushes her trolley at the airport. She is ava.ntikaa suuryava.nshii (see also: Catherine Trammell), a best-selling writer of thrillers. The problem is that real-life murders seem to resonate with the descriptions in her book (yeah, yeah, if you've seen Basic Instinct this is all massive déjà vu for you. Check out, if you will, the variety in influences betrayed by the pathetic cogging of both the shower scene and Herrmann's score from Psycho for one murder). This makes her a suspect in the investigation conducted by the hot-headed short-tempered brooding UVT (who, incidentally, has had 24 killings to his credit, but then he's a cop, so no one's perturbed).

Her latest hotcake is The Perfect Game (selling for MSRP Rs. 250 only). This is where we have one of the most subtly intriguing sequences in the film. The book's clearly in English. Bajpai reads the Hindi translation, yet, later on in the film, as she is working on her next book, she records her narrative in Hindi. Later on in the film, when UVT examines her laptop, he finds drafts in English. Such linguistic confusion!

The other principals in this flick are mahak (Nethra Raghuraman), the criminal psychologist with the hots for UVT (see also: Jeanne Tripplehorn's character in Basic Instinct). In lieu of the rather loud and clothes-unfriendly sequence of animal pleasure involving the cop and his shrink, we get a seduction song with Nethra doing all the shaking and jiggling while Bajpai sits in cool bare-chested muscular glory. Then there's Sharath Saxena hamming in bliss as Sub-Insector Pandey (kaatil ne battiis baar ##enjoy## kar kar ke maaraa hai ... ye mujhe ##passion## waalaa ##crime## lagataa hai ... is me.n bahut vaasanaa bharii hai ##sir##). There's also Sushmita "Kitty" Mukherjee porking around as Mrs. Lobo.

On the songs front you have aa_ii holii, which boasts (somewhere therein) the subtitle the lava would anyway have set your scarf on fire. And there's the gem that goes ab waqt kii aahaT bhii mujhe kadamo.n se Daraatii hai / sapano.n kaa sunaharaa aa.ngan hai par dhuup jalaatii hai. And, of course, the salacious video in the outdoors for ye ishq. And IK's number at Mikanos.

On the dialogues front, we have lots of carbuncles given the salacious nature of the plot. So of course we get climax in Hindi (aana.nd kii charam siimaa). And, regrettably, a lot of the first-in-Hindi-then-in-English fragments (a lot of which get uttered by Bajpai): suman kaa mukhabiir yaanii ##informer##, shay aur maat hotii hai ... ##check and mate##, paagal kii tarah ... ## like an insane killer ##. Then there's a nice exchange near the end of the film:

mahak: tumane mere saath dhokaa kiyaa

uday: tumane mujhe dhoke ke sivaa aur kuchh nahii.n diyaa

Perfectly echoes the sentiments of the audience, really. This rip-off exploiting locations in Bombay and Sri Lanka crops a fat stink, unsatisfying as both a mainstream flick and as B-grade guano.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

whom do you think God really favors in the web? The spider, or the fly?

blade: [November 15, 2004]:
I haven't seen the first part in the Blade series (part III -- called Trinity -- is about to hit theatres), but part II is sufficiently cross-genre and coolly exciting, with lots of action, gore, a raspy grungy soundtrack, cool lines (Blade: you're human Kounen: barely, I'm a lawyer), a rare use of the phrase "s**tting bricks", and the presence of Ron Perlman (understandable since Guillermo del Toro made this!). Lots of rich reds and browns and some industrial blue on the palette. And wait for the end credits to know that no real reapers were hurt during the making of this film.

the naked runner [November 15, 2004]:
The Naked Runner immediately echoes that other movie about killing vectors guided by forces outside their control, The Manchurian Candidate. And both feature Frank Sinatra, albeit in different roles (there he was trying hard to avert the tragedy; here he is the sharp shooter who must turn assassin in return for his son's life). The film isn't as tightly or inventively made as Frankenheimer's trippy opus, but it manages to hold its own as a decent low-burn entry until the climax, which feels hurried and slap-dash. Noted the initial stagey elements in developing the situation: the interrogation by Hartmann features (a) a mix of XCUs and low-angle XCUs and a shot of "Karen" with the camera angle so that she appears slightly farther away and in the position of a guilty person (b) Laker's face descends as he throws up (when he gets a reprieve on his execution in the woods); cut to a room, Laker's face bobs back up, after a wash (c) the occasional tilted low-angle shot (d) and some almost-depth-of-field shots ... except that the camera retains the regular focus. And the musical score had a nice theme during the scene when Laker receives the telegram about his son. All in all, a decent thriller acted out with sincerity that is best served as an opening act to Frankenheimer's masterpiece of paranoia.

Monday, November 15, 2004


Peter Collinson's Fright, a little-known entry in the virginal-babysitter-meets-nutcase-returning-home/Brit-horror genre, predates John Carpenter's similarly themed yet more widely known Halloween. The staples of horror clichés abound, but given that this film was made in 1971, I am inclined to favour its use of these devices. The film doesn't notch much on the fear scale (although it notches points for some effective Hitchcock-ian sound-matching jump edits -- the cut from Susan George's scream to the sound of the engine as a car pulls out). I t does however feature a buxom babysitter, some nice use of tight frames and edits, a scene where Susan George is watching Hammer's The Plague of the Zombies, a theme song called Ladybird sung by Nanette featuring some "interesting" lyrics, an overwrought Honor Blackman, an effective Ian Bannen and a decent (albeit mono) sound mix. And a classic piece of corn: "How do you spell that word...psychotic?" ..."You might have to spell it M-U-R-D-E-R if you don't get someone over there quickly!". Suffice to say that I relished the irony of watching something like this on Children's Day.

Sneakers has the consistency of understated goings-on characteristic of Redford movies like All the President's Men. That film played like a documentary, while this one is clearly meant to be a mainstream entertainer. The cast roster gets the film its first big plus (Redford, Poitier, Kingsley). Another thumbs-up comes from the B&W 1.33:1 flashback sequence during the opening credits. And watch the opening credits very carefully (hint: anagrams, decoding). Liked the motific score. And the elements of and references to hacking/phreaking so carefully incorporated into the film, including some closer-to-genuine hi-falutin concepts from cryptography (courtesy: Leonard Adelman, the A in RSA). And the quote from The Conversation (the warehouse party). And there's a nice little special appearance at the end (hint: keep your ears tuned). And there's one of the very rare instances of a non-555 telephone number (415-273-9164). And someone's watching Touch of Evil too. Decent entertainment, loaded with quotes. What more can you ask for.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

c'est incredible

Just when you thought Pixar was done pulling rabbits of innovation out of their hat with Finding Nemo, they come up with another humbling and entertaining enterprise, The Incredibles. These guys don't seem to stop always getting it right. This time around they tackle a delicious high-concept premise: superheroes forced into exile and anonymity (echoes of the HUAC?) and dealing with normal life. As it unfurls, the jaw-dropping attention to detail I have come to expect from Pixar gets even more amazing. Check out the reflections in the glass on a framed newspaper item in Bob's study; the water particle detail as things surface from underwater; the foliage of Syndrome's island lair, and the fuzzy focus of the kid on the bike in the foreground as he listens to Bob (sharp focus) in the background. The film's content is more down the James Bond/spy TV shows alley than a regular superhero flick. And the production design for Syndrome's hideout echoes this. As does the score -- which is reminiscent of Henry Mancini and John Barry's work for the Bond films. There are lots of in-jokes, and some cool filmic moments: the opening outtake-style interviews in 1.33:1, the grainy black-and-white footage for when Mr Incredible is sued by a guy who didn't want to be saved. And the razor-sharp editing for the Return-of-the-Jedi-esque chase sequences through the forest on the island gives you the right mix of thrills and laughs. Other goodies include the theme over the closing credits in 5/4, a pre-feature short called Boundin', and the preview for the last Pixar/Disney collaboration Cars. If you watch closely, there's another example of Pixar's attention to detail: as the cars turn on the course, watch the background ripple in the wake of the exhaust. Previews can often do injustice to the final product, and this one would be a good example. It wasn't as complete a turn-off as the others (The Polar Express, Christmas with the Kranks) where you've already seen the gist of the film in the preview itself. I'm definitely going to catch Cars. Only because it's a Pixar movie.

Oh yeah, btw, if it's worth anything, when the film wound up in the cinema hall, there was applause in the audience.

how the earth came to be banana-shaped/how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes

Finally, I manage to catch Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This film merits multiple viewings. And make sure you're wide awake and alert. Anyone familiar with the riot of the TV episodes will not be taken aback by the deluge of layered humour. Abrasive, entertaining, ostentatious, unexpected, and always Python. Now, go and boil your bottoms, you sons of silly persons!

Friday, November 12, 2004

short notes

Despite his vocal prowess, Adnan Sami exhibits a lot of the sticky bit syndrome in his melodies and arrangements (e.g. chain mujhe ab and kabhii aisaa lage). Tera Chehra and Kasam sport so much déjà vu! I must admit I don't mind it much -- I like the 7 and 14-beat cycles too, and I like the chords, and the melodic twists (some of which remind me of the kind of rabbits the late RDB would pull out of his musical hat). But I always wonder if there's more promise that lies hidden behind this recapitulation.

In addition to boasting a laughathon as a preview [more about that], Aitraaz also boasts songs with outrageous lyrics. The great voice of Sunidhi Chauhan sparkles, but is wasted and condemned to being stereotyped. For more entertainment, check out the interview snippets on nowrunning.com, especially the Priyanka Chopra interview where she refers to Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor as veterans.

While on nowrunning.com click to the page dedicated the the newest Darshan-fest Bewafa. The item of interest is Manoj Bajpai's interview. Catch a sample of nice Hindi. Behind the digs at the clichés and unsubtle aspects of his role, I could sense an element of defeat -- the need for art to succumb to the needs of dumbed-down commerce. Must this always be? Isn't there a middle ground where talent and commerce could co-exist without having to make concessions to each other?

And how about a dishload of uninspired movie titles? WTF does Kal Na Kal Yeh To Hona Hi Tha mean? And the runner-up is Jo Andar Fit Woh Bahar Bhi Hit.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

finding Ramu: bad URL service

Since I like RGV and don't think much of Rediff, I thought I'd just present the correct link to Ramu Unplugged [Talking to Ram Gopal Varma]. These guys copied over the URL to a slide show dedicated to Aitraaz [more about that elsewhere hereabouts] that boasts a salacious image of Priyanka Chopra's back with a note that Priyanka Chopra is nervous and very insecure about her next film!. Strange are the ways of the world ...

How did I figure the URL out? Deductive guesswork.

the largest number in film songs?

Not that I haven't pondered this before, but I was thinking about this again, and when I noticed JR's post mentioning the song in question, I interpreted it as a calling. Here's the analysis:

the key lyric is B to the A to the B to the A. In pseudocode, that would be pow(11, pow(10, pow(11, 10))). Now if only someone could find a machine that's strong enough and a Math package that's powerful enough to compute this value ...

Monday, November 08, 2004

blast from ze past

Was trolling the Internet today and stumbled on an old post of mine on Prevue Magazine's forum for High Concept plotlines. 'Twas the summer of 2001, when I decided to sit in two film courses offered at the LCC by Paul Young, a great charismatic enthusiastic teacher whose vim was responsible for the extended lifecycle of the CAN film group at Georgia Tech (Paul has since moved on to hopefully better pastures). Anyways, one of the classes was dedicated to Alfred Hitchcock and the other was an introduction to film studies. The session du jour was film genres, and examples of films that transcended and straddled genres. This plot was my contribution to a group discussion that ensued. Juvenile post-modernism, if you will, but it still reeks of potential;)

He's the Sheriff

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a Vietnam vet who wanders into a frontier town. His accent and build immediately make him a target for scorn and the butt of numerous jokes. A buddy bond develops between him and the town drunk. He manages to get the town drunk sober and in return learns the ways of the west from him. Numerous trip-laden montage sequences serve to communicate his traumatic past in the jungles and also show us how heroic he was even then, risking his life to feed a dying soldier his last peanut butter sandwich. Back to the present, Arnie finally wins over the town, when he overthrows the town sheriff in a classic showdown. Supported by Rob Scheider as the town drunk, Jim Carrey as the mute deputy and Julianne Moore as the town sheriff. Cameos by Clint Eastwood and Robert Downey Jr. Written by: Joe Eszterhas. Directed by: Alan Smithee.
epic emptiness, nippon-noir, and a couple of minor fantasy flicks

[Friday, November 05, 2005]The Last of the Mohicans is classic Hollywood epic material (the source novel seems almost tailor-made for such exploitation anyway). Although I regret the choice of Michael Mann (he's IMHO made for less mundane material). That aside, Daniel Day Lewis achieves a lot with his presence (not that I was particularly keen on seeing much of anything really) and the background score has also gained mainstream notoriety (how's that for phrased irony). Predictably riffy, lush and moving[sic]. Great movie for insomnia. At least for someone like me who doesn't care for epics.

[Sunday, November 07, 2005]

Stray Dog: This is the kind of gem one loves to discover without knowing what to expect, without any background reading. All I knew was that this was a Kurosawa film. What ensued was a very very unexpected study of integrity and guilt against the backdrop of apre guerre Japan. Plush with touches of Americana, this film tells the tale of a cop (Toshiro Mifune, proving that all praise showered upon him is justified) whose gun has been stolen (a pickpocket in a crowded bus) and begins to figure as a weapon in one street crime after another. The background score reminds me of the background in all those old black-and-white Guru Dutt films (the instruments, the arrangements) and even, oddly enough, Satyajit Ray's films. Kurosawa employs his characteristic transitional devices (the wipe, dissolves, lap dissolves) as well as some great orchestration (can't think of a better word) to elevate the proceedings to represent a fine achievement.

* when Mifune is waiting outside a bar(?) for the lady pickpocket from the train, there's a guy sitting in front of him (some nice composition here) playing (the original of the Mera Naam Joker) theme on his mouthorgan. And as the conversation begins, the camera tracks slowly over the player's head to Mifune and the pickpocket.

* the audience shares the mystery of Yusa's identity. When Mifune makes a deduction based on clothes splattered with mud in the rain, the camera tracks up Yusa (from the back) standing at a window, and then cuts to the front.

Invaders from Mars: Haven't heard of this one have you? Minor little alien invasion flick (with a dream angle). William Cameron Menzies (P. D. for Star Trek: TOS) does the honours for direction (and production design, of course). Everyone pronounces mutant as mute ants. The narrative premise informs us that the Martians (led by an inflated bald octopus head and tentacles nested in a glass sphere) are breeding a race of synthetic humans. Every time the sand opens to swallow someone, there's a chorus of sirens audible to everyone around. There's a nice perspective shot featuring little David running into the police station (the door in the background, the desk cop in the foreground, and David running in). The shot gets reused when David's mother arrives. It can't top the more narrative-strengthening similar framing (complete with depth of field) in Citizen Kane as Leland walks up to Kane completing his unfinished review.

Target Earth: A nice little story about the survivors of an alien attack turning against each other while they try and escape detection. Strangely, there's an army high-ranker who describes some time as '2400'. Producer Herman Cohen was also responsible for facilitating other classics like I was a Teenage Werewolf, Horrors of the Black Museum and produced Kid Monk Baroni (which marked the acting début of Leonard Nimoy).

Saturday, November 06, 2004

the feng shui of boredom

Vaastu Shastra, despite my best hopes, remains a tired exercise in the clichés of the horror genre: strange camera angles, ghosts, strange sounds, sudden cuts, dark moments, children who know more than anyone else, rain, and the miscellaneous inexplicable actions that were spoofed so wonderfully in the Scream corpus. J D Chakravarthy still doesn't manage to get a mooring on his filmic characters, and Sushmita Sen, regrettably, has precious little to do, with even less to redeem herself. Peeya Rai Choudhury (seen in Darna Mana Hai and Chupke Se) is easy on the eye, but joins the list of people with not much to do. Rasika Oak/Joshi (who was splendid as the harridan mother in Gayab) barely registers credibility. When I put down my notes on the preview, I had noted references to The Shining. The other echoes include Poltergeist, The Others, The Sixth Sense, A Nightmare on Elm Street and miscellaneous zombie flicks. With so many references, the film is in grave danger of being a pandora's box of low-level inspirations (see also: Fida). Amar Mohile's background score swings from the sublimely appropriate to laugh-inducing moments (like that repetitive cherubic giggle). I will concede that the film could have been a lot worse; its technical merits are mostly up to par except they fail to contribute to the essence of the story and the atmosphere of the narrative. Perhaps this film worked better in the theatre. But Bhoot worked well for me on the small screen. It makes me wonder. And pray that the magic of The Factory has not disintegrated into a sack of pixie dust.

Friday, November 05, 2004

my own phoenix? [in which yours truly gives it those ones ... somewhat]

Excavated from the archives of languishing drafts and remastered for the reading pleasure of no one in particular:

* what I thought about shaadi ka laddoo, gothika/vijeta/the road to el dorado, fida

* in which Julie meets all expectations: bad acting, terrible funny dialogue, a sense of no direction (or is that "no sense of direction"), and the promise of more grist where this came from ... [julie: ek banaphuul ... i mean wild orchid]

* a dual-layered look at two action flicks that deliver more in departments that they never set out to achieve anything in: the yawn-inducing copiously stylish waste called Deewar: Let's Bring Our Heroes Home and Aan: Men at Work ... [ensemble mayhem]

* an account of a hindustani vocal concert in August ... that links to an aurally appalling experience in Tampa, FL

Thursday, November 04, 2004

atom heart mother ... finally?

After much niggling from JR, I *finally* enabled my Atom Site Feed. Does my low receptiveness to little technological fun-stuff represent a deterioration of state? Have I begun to tread to path to being jaded? Say it ain't so, ... joe?

Sunday, October 31, 2004

ICMS 2004 ends

* when: Saturday, October 30, 2004

* where: The Georgia Tech Student Centre Theatre

* who: pt suresh talwalkar (tabalaa: tuned in the lower register giving us the effect of a pakhaawaj), ramdas palsule (tabalaa), sameer dubley (vocal), pt sudhir phadke (sitar)

miscellaneous highlights

* sameer dubley, the speaker for the group, noted that the introductions were the shortest that they had had on this tour

* he also introduced the pieces presented (the best I have seen since I started attending the ICMS concerts), and also provided explanations about the different improvisations attempted

* he also noted the uniqueness of using vocal (instead of saara.ngii) to accompany tabalaa performances

the programme

1. excursions in diipacha.ndii taal with vocal/sitaar melody in raag yaman, which included anaaghaats, and taal improvisations by dividing the beat cycle into 8 and then later into 6 {while the spinal melody and rhythm maintain the 14-beat cycle}

2. improvisations in drut ek taal with the melody in raag shyaam kalyaan

INTERMISSION: wherein CDs by the artists (including Pt Talwalkar's Taal Kalpana produced at Shivaranjani Studios in Pune, and Dubley's 2-disc instruction to raags)

2. [sudhir phadke on sitaar; ramdas palsule on tabalaa] Short and light exercises in improvisation: the first in raag maa.Nj khamaaj {alaap; gat in diip cha.ndii} and the second in raag rasiyaa {madhya and drut in tiin taal}. During the end of the presentation, sudhir phadke (who almost inhumanly remained as a paradigm of time during all the crazy temporal percussive adventures during the show) recovered seamlessly from several pitfalls including a string breaking off and a string going ever-so out-of-tune during a furious pre-coda riff-o-rama (he effortlessly switched to another riff)

4. all the performers returned to the stage to present two compositions in raag bhairavii {where the vocalist was denied room to improvise}. The first composition (bhavaanii) was in jhap taal (10 beats) and the second (jaa jaa re jaa) in drut tiin taal.

Both Pt Talwalkar and Ramdas Palsule participated vocally with counts, bols, and even singing along with the vocalist on occasion. It was evident that everyone on stage was enjoying the improvisations and Pt Suresh Talwalkar's exhuberant frenzies on stage were a sight -- he was all pumped up like a dancer restricted by the need to sit cross-legged. This performance ranks right up there with (and might even supersede) splendid percussive coda last year.

Friday, October 29, 2004

misc bits

After deciding to flash skin and assets to family audiences and mix this with the usual generous blend of dance-o-rama and emotion, Bollywood seems to have taken the next step in its multi-point programme to clone Hollywood and even surpass it: trailers with English voiceovers (for a funny take on this, check out the preview for Jerry Seinfeld's Comedian). The movie: Aitraaz. This brings together the showman[sic] Subhash Ghai and dilute-duplication duo Abbas-Mastan: in a world of/with women, you either play by their rules, or .... Or what? ... nothing. from mukta arts limited, and director duo abbas mustan [pron: abbaas mustaan] comes another [what context please?] gripping tale of a woman who wouldn't stop at anything to get her man [yawn!] and a woman [shot of kareena kapoor ... now we know this is a horror/comedy] who would not let her have him ... ai_traaz [for best results: pronounce 'ai' like Mithun would!]

There are more and more reports of Priyadarshan's next directorial venture (his latest, Hulchul -- not to be confused either with the O P Ralhan flick or the Ajay Devgan/Kajol starrer -- is about to hit the screens ... and I'm sure it's a local/foreign rip-off). Although touted as a remake of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest with Salman Khan standing in for Jack Nicholson (deep breaths in, deep breaths out), I contend that this is simply a remake of his Malayalam remake of the Foreman flick Thalavattam, something he has been meaning to do for a long while now. [more Priyan rants and a detailed rip-ography].

reading, reading, reading

A recent decent haul from the public library seems to have made me Eco-unfriendly [explanation]. But I must acknowledge that before I left off on The Name of the Rose I was pleased by the rich writing (which makes it a good translation from the original Italian -- how faithful it is to the original language remains to be seen, but it works well in English, which is what really matters).

There's The director's event; interviews with five American film-makers: Budd Boetticher, Peter Bogdanovich, Samuel Fuller, Arthur Penn, Abraham Polonsky by Eric Sherman and Martin Rubin. This is followed by Steven Soderbergh : interviews edited by Anthony Kaufman. Ben Sidran's Ben Sidran : a life in the music falls in the category of "I was browsing around and picked this off the shelf", and looks like it is destined to return to the shelves sooner than expected. I'm almost through The Ig Nobel prizes : the annals of improbable research. But the leader of the pack is a book that brings up stuff very close to my heart, and is an extremely delightful and insightful read: Lynne Truss's Eats, shoots & leaves : the zero tolerance approach to punctuation.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

marta tv

I step into the bus that takes me from the train station to my workplace and-- lo! -- there are three flat-panel TV screens up and playing animated multiple-choice trivia, running ticker ads at the bottom, presenting news in dark text against a mostly dark background, secular videos featuring different ethnic communities, and reminding you that this is the Transit Television Network. I must applaud Marta on this splendid move to improving service. After all, the first thing that people in need of a good public[sic] transportation system would ask for is flat-panel closed-circuit(is it really closed?) television. Yeah, right on. Given the inevitable incumbent bankruptcy, they probably want to go down with a blast (no pun intended).

Monday, October 25, 2004

ab...bas![caveat:not a hiccup-y invocation of either the late filmmaker or a contemporary talented screenplay/dialogue writer]

The sleaze piles up like a thanksgiving turkey flood of rancid dung. After other seemingly innocuous titles like Murder (the farthest thing on the minds of the filmmakers and audience alike), Girlfriend (at least there was a hint in the title of this unbearable mess), and Julie (then again...), Hawas (aka this is not a children's movie), we now have Ab...Bas! (ROTFL at ease and relish the irony) starring[sic] hunk number 56 (bearing the moniker of Shawar -- pronounced shower? -- Ali) and expressionless overrated model Diana Hayden (whose turn in Tehzeeb should have convinced anyone with half-a-peanut-sized-brain that she had as much talent as a wet piece of wood ...). The film, to quote Hayden baa_ii, is a dream role for any aspiring actress and I feel it to be the best launching pad that can ever happen. A few tra-la-la's later, you return to catch the preview for this woman-oriented (I kid you not, this is what they say) flick. It's woman-oriented all right ... ogle away as Mr Bathroom and puffy-middle-aged-faced dayaa-naa madam cavort about in fake faux erotic poses and clinches (makes the connubial bliss of roaches seem like a work of art). And then you hear a catchy melody (which, of course, does not match the goings-on at all!). Another mai.nnuu tere naal rip-off, you scream! This must be Anu Malik (who was responsible for bhiige ho.nTh tere, and even had the audacity to go about preening about his genius ... ye gad!). However, it's his younger brother ... another vastly derivative scion of not-very-prodigious Sardar Malik, who has decided to do what ba.De bhai_yaa left asunder ... oops unfinished ... rip-o-rama galore. Bring on the sleaze, please.
lowbie fun ... unanswered questions and a visitor from outer space

The unimaginatively titled Phantom from Space makes a DVD début courtesy Alpha Video Classics. The print quality is suspect, and there aren't any special features. But the flick itself boasts several aspects of merit: no explanations are offered; as soon as the opening credits roll off, you are plunged into the action; and even after the film has ended, we have no answers, we just have a close encounter of the third kind to ponder. Budgetary constraints seem evident when a voiceover provides an explanation of the dragnet set up to catch the alien in the latter half of the film. And there's the tapping code (another unexplained motif). This is like The Day the Earth stood still minus the convenient explanations. And this is Close Encounters of the Third Kind minus the SFX gloss and soaring moments of emotion. A simple low-B flick that was more engaging than I thought it would be. As always, don't expect scientific coherence:)

Saturday, October 23, 2004

the soundtrack of raincoat

Quick notes on a wonderful breath of fresh music (mostly). Hope the film manages to keep my positive impression about Rituparno Ghosh intact, despite the presence of la femme Rai.

Excellent guitar throughout.

* mathuraa nagar (shubha mudgal): pilu?

* piyaa toraa (hariharan): maru bihag? yaman?

* piyaa toraa (shubha mudgal): with poetry by gulzar

* raah dekhe (shubha mudgal): should qualify as a maajhi song just for the immediate mood evoked ...

* akele ham nadiyaa kinaare (shubha mudgal): another qualifier? even the lyrics help us ... there's nadiyaa, kinaare, and even maajhii. yup.

* hamaarii galiyaa.N ho ke aanaa (meena mishra, dominated by a chorus): sounds like sapna awasthi's banno terii a.Nkhiyaa.N from DUSHMANI. and then as S says, there are a million songs like this. true. unfortunately. strict product, perhaps. more pilu.

* jug jiye (meena mishra, dominated by a chorus): very very typical. jis kii biiwii etc etc. skip.

* the sad (no pun intended) version of hamaarii galiyaa.N. skip.

I'd recommend getting it just for the hariharan (doesn't sound much like his usual self) and shubha mudgal tracks.

imdb corrections

Yay! The corrections I had submitted for Vishal Bharadwaj's entry in IMDB have been accepted. I just submitted another correction for "Krishna Cottage", which should take care of the confusion between him and Vishal Dadlani (the Vishal in Vishal-Shekhar). This explains why the lady introducing Maqbool at the High Museum earlier this year mixed the two up: her "research" was IMDB.

The recipe: mix The Fast and the furious (and its source Point Break), MI2, Ocean's 11, The Man with the Golden Gun; add the "new Bollywood" elements (cleavage, salacious dances); add the regular Bollywood elements (songs, bad dialogue, bad acting); add the "this makes the movie different" bits (excessively stylish lame-brained stunts, pathetic editing, and a general lack of balance). What we get is the bolder-than-most-mustard-field-love-fests Yash Raj Films product Dhoom. It's easier to deal with the acting department -- Abhishek Bachchan manages (once again) to add some seriousness to his wafer-thin role. However, the legacy of his father's [now questionable] ability to rise above material that reeked is evident. And when Abhishek has his drunken scene he picks tips from the great roles of his father. With his voice and the fabulously unreal flying acts in the second half, Uday Chopra can now proudly bear the moniker of the castrated Jonathan Livingstone Seagull. The women serve only as objects to be ogled at ... and La Femme Sen makes sure that salivating voyeurs stay on in the theatre for the rest of this flick (and sticks to fast Bengali and bad Hindi for the rest of her time on screen). The producers exhibit smart thinking by putting the best song (the title song) in the second half, although the untalented and malformed Esha Deol ("Dharmendra in a bikini" screamed a friend as she rose out of the waters a la Honeychile Rider) destroys the magic of the title song, and a much better music video pops up during the end credits [more about that piece of eye candy]. Salim-Sulaiman's background score cannot overcome the doddering foundation of crappy dialogue, where no attempt is made to even imbue any character with more than a fractional dimension. As for the rest of the soundtrack, squeaky-voice Chopra gets to do an ek laDakii bhiigii bhaagii sii.

The film also makes no assumptions about audience intelligence. Note the extremely dumbed-down B-grade explanation for the custom-made bikes that John Abraham's biker gang employ.

The only conclusions you can draw from this movie are: (a) the world is full of stupid people (b) some people are more stupid than others (c) some idiots were so smart that they managed to fool a whole slew of idiots to shell out valuable rupaiyaa-dollari for a exercise in inappropriate exposure (of footage). That this film was a hit only speaks volumes for the kind of progress that lobotomy-Bollywood-style has made.

Friday, October 22, 2004

how not to rename a film on re-release

The DVD for The Trollenberg Terror (more info) bears the title The Crawling Eye. Everything else including the censor certificate bears the original title. The film (evidently a spin-off from a TV show) is a fairly engaging bit of good ol' sci-fi-esque horror -- strange decapitations by a radioactive cloud hovering near the top of the Trollenberg mountain, a telepath, and the unfortunate laughable cliché of the American superstar/hero who has all the brain and brawn while everyone else (read: every other European) (including eminent scientists) seems at their wit's end. The writing's merits stem from Jimmy Sangster, a familiar name from the Hammer horrors. And the film benefits from the Tourneur-esque "less is more" approach, except when the monster is finally revealed -- it's a large eye with tentacles (the ideal reaction would be a nod of appreciation at the effectiveness of the construction as well as a round of ROTFL). And with the revised title of The Crawling Eye, you lose out on anything that they were building up to. As with most of these old invasion horrors, the denouement is quick and terse. Stanley Black provides some appropriately chilling background music. The opening credit sequence begins as a train enters a tunnel. Against the dark background, arrows slide in along the X and Y axes to point to credits (which begin in white letters and later move on to collections in black against grey-filled boxes). When Anne (the telepath) suddenly begins to insist that they break their train journey at Trollenberg instead of going on to Geneva (their original destination) and stop at the hotel Europa (a place she has never heard of or been to), the first thing that popped into my head was a similar sequence (with different motivations, of course) from Kudrat with Hema Malini. No further comparisons intended, clearly.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

another random online personality assessment

You are .gif Sometimes you are animated, but usually you just sit there and look pretty.
Which File Extension are You?
matrimonial miThaa_ii

Raj Kaushal follows up Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi with Shaadi ka Laddoo. Music directors Vishal-Shekhar return with another bag of lightweight tunes, including an interesting ("spring of 2004") version of musu musu haasii (which unfortunately doesn't feature on the soundtrack release!). Sanjay Suri seems poised to be for this century and the upper crust what Amol Palekar was for the good old middle class in the 70s and 80s. Ashish Choudhury redeems himself of some of the sin of Girlfriend, and even wins special points for the eruption of laughter on the bench (his reaction when Suri's indiscretion becomes public). And Divya Dutta sinks comfortably into another role with ease. There's a lot of Rang Birangi you can think of, and there are extended quotes from Sholay's ye dosatii ham nahii.n to.De.nge, The Pink Panther theme, kabhii kabhii mere dil me.n and the Bond theme. Pepsi gets shameless promotion. Tons of silly lines (e.g. jis tarah chaa.Nd se bichha.Dakar chakorii, aur thaalii se bichha.Dakar kaTorii alag nahii.n rah sakatii.... And there's the following classic moment:

SS: excuse me, do you speak english?

DD's uncle: haa.N

SS: good, where is XXXX street?

The film wasn't as bad as I had feared it might be. Nigar Khan has been in the news for other forthcoming ventures, and one can only shudder. Mandira Bedi manages the looks and personality department, but this isn't a role to judge acting abilities with. On the whole, this ain't a bad way to sit back and enjoy some old-fashioned light humour. Now if only I could get that version of musu musu somewhere ...And using outtakes for end credits is getting kinda tired, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

learning to be a man by becoming a bear ... and the end of jungle terror

Disney's Brother Bear marks another of their ventures into "original" stories (aka not based on popular fairy tales). The story is engaging and the songs are often entertaining. The makers use an interesting filmic device (a device that seems to be a retort to television's deplorable panning and scanning of movies). The film begins in 1.85:1 and switches to 2.35:1 when Kenai becomes a bear. Other recent uses of varying aspect ratios include Kill Bill Vol II and The Incredibles (a reference from the future as it were, since this film hit theatres in December 2004). Watch the credits carefully and you'll see the name Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson) in the list of voice coaches. The song accompanying Kenai's transformation was translated into innuit and then performed by the Bulgarian women's choir. And stick around for the end credits to see Koda talk to the camera (in accordance with all federal and state wildlife regulations no fish were harmed during the making of this film), while, in the background, a bear is chasing fish to death; the film ends with a blackout and a bear's belch.

The news that Veerappan was finally captured and killed seemed to add a touch of irony to my recent viewing. All things considered now, I wonder what happens to RGV/Shimit Amin's Let's Catch Veerappan?

Monday, October 18, 2004


Hazaar Chaurasi ki Maa treads familiar territory (Ek Din Achanak) with its premise: the departure of a close family member triggers an evaluation of self, relationships and society. Govind Nihalani's adaptation of Mahasweta Devi's novel is a welcome reminder that he is still capable of good filmmaking (although this 1997 film was followed up by a spate of unsatisfactory mainstream-friendly works beginning with Thakshak and culminating in Dev). Jaya Bachchan made a second comeback and delivers a splendid interpretation of a mother who begins to come to terms with the loss of a son she thought she knew everything about. Joining the band of talent are Anupam Kher, debutantes Joy Sengupta and Nandita Das (although she gets an "introducing" credit here, I wonder if this was her first film), Seema Biswas, and other familiar faces like Milind Gunaji, Mona Ambegaonkar, and small-to-tiny turns from the likes of Bhatki Barve, Sadia Siddiqui, Lovleen Mishra (remember chuTakii from Hum Log?), Aditya Srivastava, Yashpal Sharma, and Rajesh Khera (the ill-fated smoker in Darna Mana Hai). Govind Nihalani even gets another shot at tackling the superficial gaseous vapidity of the upper class with the engagement party (see also: Party). There's a lot of dialogue in the film, as well as moments that benefit from their silence. At one point in the film, when Nandini (Nandita Das) tells Sujata (Jaya Bachchan) about the need for her to make the effort to understand her son, Jaya retorts "is rishte me.n bhii koshish, na.ndinii?". That is the essence of this tale.

More junket material

Sunday, October 17, 2004

duniyaa kal jalatii hai, aaj jal jaa_e, maachis chaahiye, mai.n de duu.Ngaa

[being my thoughts on Sangharsh]

RGV officially calls his shop The Factory (at work). The rejuvenated commercially-aware Mahesh Bhatt actually seems to be running a factory ... of rip-off specialists. His protégé Tanuja Chandra is a case in point. Her directorial début Dushman (which introduced the mainstream world to the capabilities of an actor called Ashutosh Rana, chose Eye for an Eye to Bollywood-ize (with doleful songs from Uttam Singh sung by pathos specialists Jagjit Singh and an agelessly aging Lata Mangeshkar; a strongly vintage wooden performance by Sanjay Dutt as a blind army officer; and Kajol barely making it to the finish line of sobriety as twin sisters). This time around she chooses a much more familiar movie. And a very unlikely candidate. It's almost as if Bhatt had thrown her an over-dinner challenge to do something like this (see also: Howard Hawks making To Have and Have Not solely to show that he could make a good movie out of one of Hemingway's worse books). The choice: The Silence of the Lambs. The task of creating a potent gruel of source elements and destination clichés (aka the script) lies in the capable hands of Mahesh Bhatt. He takes Clarice Starling's gnawing memory that gives the film its title and converts it to Reet Oberoi's(Preity Zinta, looking plump and innocent, and still feeling her way about -- aah the good old days) fear of the dark (a fear linked to the death of her revolutionary brother on the night of his birthday). He takes the cold evil enigmatic character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter and creates a for-the-gallery object-of-Reet's-fantasy Professor Aman Verma (Akshay Kumar hamming away with a funny moustache). And Buffalo Bill is developed into what could have been an interesting character but ends up being a loud ill-baked decrepit piece of expired pastry called Lajja Shankar Pande (Ashutosh Rana resorting to an unsubtle approach to winning gallery whistles). Pande is a Kali worshipper (echoes of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?) who kidnaps kids and sacrifices them during solar eclipses. We are introduced to the solar eclipse motif through a visual that opens the opening credits (hmm, nice little piece of linguistic flourish there!). Vishwajeet Pradhan plays Vishwajeet, the desi equivalent for Scott Glen's Jack Crawford. The film also provides the stronger vertex for the mandatory triangle of affections in the form of Aman Verma's sappy Amit. Jatin-Lalit delivered a competent set of songs for the film (including the nice naaraaz saveraa hai/nazadiik saveraa hai and the Rafi/Ek Musafir Ek Hasina-ripoff mujhe raat din [the original: mujhe dekhakar). But nothing works on screen. The saveraa songs feature in the background but some shoddy editing and pitiful framing put paid to any derived benefit. And Sonu Nigam's tribute to Rafi becomes a Sujata-esque on-screen FF-friendly excursion. Other unnecessary elements include a neighbourhood rock/pop group called the Brahmaputra Boyz (who perform ma.nzil naa ho at an Easter celebration sponsored by Officer's Choice -- what was it with Jatin-Lalit and Remo those days?). There's even a film quote for the alert viewers: at a point in the second half, Ashutosh Rana cradles a child in his arms and sings vo subah kabhii to aa_egii -- it's all set up just like things were in the original song with Raj Kapoor and Mala Sinha. And for the "intelligent" masses Bhatt adds a scene involving the extraction of a bullet that provides a not-very-subtle metaphor for congress. Perhaps the only decent yet undeveloped element in the film is the character of Reet Oberoi. Full marks on the casting front, but the writing department didn't quite get a handle on developing Reet's naivete and child-like outlook to things into a more mature point-of-view by the end of the film. Pity, really. This was a struggle that was guaranteed to fail.

Friday, October 15, 2004

no more maa.N

Leading lady of the black-n-white era Kokila Kishorechandra Balsara aka Nirupa Roy who gained fame for being the most sought after 'mother' in Bollywood (and most of the Big B's) is no more. And Rediff has just begun a slew of eulogies with a backgrounder and a stock of tributes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

gulshan rai is no more

Veteran producer and hitmaker Gulshan Rai passed away yesterday. People will probably remember the famous Trimurti Films logo that opened his productions. The banner was associated with the better films of Yash Chopra, classic Dev Anand movies, as well the blockbusters his son Rajiv Rai turned out. And, of course, a lot of great Pancham soundtracks came forth too.

Monday, October 11, 2004

musafir: lounge away

The pasha of stylish distributed plagiarism, Sanjay Gupta, has unveiled the soundtrack of his next opus Musafir. On the film front, there's more cool makeup, and there's bound to be oodles of style. Hopefully, it proves as entertaining as Kaante and not a befuddled pile of week-old noodles like Plan. The soundtrack album touts itself as being India's first club lounge album. It's a 2 CD set, which mixes new work from Vishal-Shekhar in both regular (how can you tell, really?) and mixed form (courtesy Nikhil Chinappa I am told), and also bundles tracks from the Kaante soundtrack. Sunidhi Chauhan claims top honours with little effort (despite saying kaTin instead of kaThin in ishq kabhii kariyo naa, and Shreya Ghoshal comes across like a North-Indian version of Chitra with an oh-so-squeaky voice. The advantage of the layers of sampling and beat paste is that bad voices get superseded by infectious loops. Sanjay Dutt's singing attempts (note how he decides to go liberally tuneless on numerous occasions like mai.n boluu.N aaj tuu bole kal) on tez dhaar have some street-smart lines and a heavy ode to Mark Knopfler/Dire Straits, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ry Cooder and Carlos Santana as a saving grace. Sukhwinder Singh, Kunal Ganjawala, Kumar Sanu and K. K. do the needful on the other tracks. And Krishna's sufi-tinged rendition of rabbaa rocks. One of the CDs bears the tag "Club" and the other "Lounge". All this I am told. Wouldn't mind getting myself a copy. But if club/lounge ain't your thing, stay away. And a few extra points for strange mix names (Pyschedelic Insomnia, Kinky in Ibiza).

The film was slated to collide head-on with Yash Chopra's Veer-Zaara during Diwali, but the actual release date seems to fall somewhere in the late November fragment of the year.

One thing puzzles me. Sanjay Gupta had announced a special audio complement to the Kaante soundtrack -- with extra tracks composed by Viju Shah, Lucky Ali, Shiamak Davar, Adnan Sami, Sulaiman and Salim Merchant and A.R. Rahman. Although they abandoned that ambitious plan, I wonder if it was all hoopla... Is any of the stuff on Musafir a residue of rejected music on Kaante?

more RGV goodies in the pipeline

The official page for Vaastu Shastra begins with a contest: you tell The Factory (incidentally, that site doesn't seem to work well in Mozilla) about a scary experience that you have had, and you stand a chance to win. Skip the contest and you get to the main page (incidentally, that montage introducing the main page is quite effective) of the film. Sushmita Sen deserves kudos for agreeing to play a character called Jhilmil(!!!). Liked the main motif. And hopefully, the Factory will begin churning out more movies. I'm getting sick of the unimaginative trashcan truffle that Bollywood continues to keep generating. Unfortunately that little tricycle gives me vibes of The Shining. In fact, the premise strongly echoes the King novel/Kubrick film. Here's hoping there's more beyond the initial similarities ... And with director Sourabh Usha Narang do we have another Sanjay Leela Bhansali (aka taking your mother's name for your middle name ...). Nice cello bit in the preview. Quite slick and effective overall (and JDC's new look is cool). And I love the tagline ("It won't save you"). Minor caveat: the previews say "This September", although the film is slated for an October release.

It's old news by now that in addition to being in RGV's Godfather homage Sarkar, the Big B will also figure in an RGV-directed segment for Darna Zaroori Hai

Pity that the controversy over the tagline for Madhyanam Hatya forced RGV to abort the release of Jaan Bujh Ke (both Galti Se and Jaan Bujh Ke shared similar elements with different motivations and consequences of a ghastly act of murder ...)

Thursday, October 07, 2004

here's mud in your eye, uninformed H-1B opponents

This is to all those politicians, douchebags, gormless gowks, and noddypeaks, who have decided to brainwash the media-fed American public with bags of mendacity on the H-1B visa. My pet peeve is echoed somewhere in the middle: People who come here on these visas pay every tax that U.S. citizens do, including Social Security and Medicare. But if they return to their homeland, then they will not get any benefits from these programs. The recent recession cost the United States more than half a million immigrant high-tech workers who had to return home -- after paying all these taxes. And what about the enormous expenses they incurred to settle down in the United States?. If this is incorrect, please correct me. I can appreciate "no representation despite taxation", but if there's a legal process to return the inaccessible OASDI/SS/Medicare $$$ to departing H-1B employees, I'd be more than willing to take note.

On a related note, the H-1B cap of 65000 visas closed on the first day of the fiscal year on October 01, 2004 (thanks, no doubt, to all those pending applications from the previous fiscal year)

fake gophers and oodles of eyecandy

Harold Ramis, who co-wrote and starred in Ghost Busters (remember Egon Spengler?) and responsible for analyzing this and that, is also the man pulling the strings for our film in question, Caddyshack. This is a comedy from 1980 that mixes slapstick, grossness, obnoxious irreverance, loud bombast, and (my favourite character in the film) a fake gopher to elicit laughs. Ostensibly starting off as a drama about golf caddies, the film finally ends up as a vehicle for the comic excursions of Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield. Dangerfield is a cult icon, and this film is a great testament to his ability to go way over the top and get a bellyache-full of laughs. In the mix is Bill Murray (an almost always stoned and slow groundsman who has eyes for the female form and spouts self-aggrandizing drivel including an ad lib monologue about playing golf with the Dalai Lama). Guilty fans of 80s rock/pop cheese will relish the presence of Kenny Loggins on the soundtrack. And remember, when you die on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.

Shortly after news about the Linux port of Doom 3 and more about the upcoming movie (default reaction: 'tis a bad idea), may I now present a gallery of screenshots from the different levels in the game. Yum!

cute screenshot accompanying the announcement of the Linux port

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