Wednesday, March 31, 2004

another friend ventures into the blogosphere

College friend and former colleague Shantanu has begun to move some of his unique keystrokes and streams of consciousness to his online journal. Welcome, Solzaire.
clapton returns to his roots ... again

My favourite Eric Clapton albums have always been the ones he peppers (or inundates) with his interpretations of the blues songs that inspired him and his music. His latest release Me and Mr Johnson pays tribute to his key inspiration, blues master Robert Johnson. Caught a few samples online, and it already feels like a welcome sibling to From the Cradle and Riding with the King.
besson: the french tarantino, the french RGV

Wasabi is the most entertaining crisp post-modern piece of filmmaking I have seen in a long long time. Jean Reno is perfect as Hubert, the crack cop with his tongue firmly in cheek and a record for devastation. And Michel Muller is perfect as Maurice ('Momo') (in fact, their sparring gives the film most of its flavour). Luc Besson digs into his usual bag of tricks and farms out a script of no complexity to a subordinate (see also Kiss of the Dragon). Roger Ebert contends that the film is product, without artistic merit. I agree with the product argument. Estimation of artistic merit is and always will be subjective. Quentin Tarantino has been great at importing foreign influences into his cauldron of homage cinema. Besson does the same, except his import is the Hollywood assembly-line action flick. And in this regard, he succeeds admirably. Aranyak noted that Reno's character seemed like it could have been played by Bruce Willis (arguably taking away what Reno had to offer, and replacing it with Willis's iconographic additions). Given that Besson employed Willis to interesting effect in The Fifth Element, the remark strengthens my take on Besson's angle. RGV has been doing something similar back home: promoting his subordinates at The Factory into different roles (usually directorial) with screened scripts. RGV makes product too, but there's enough art and style there to make his contribution to Hindi (even Indian) cinema invaluable. As far as I am concerned, Besson, Tarantino and RGV seem to work like avataars of a little filmmaking devil getting back at convention. Meanwhile, I'd recommend The Japanese Dip That Kicks Like a Mule.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

thakshak: bitten by the snake of mainstream cinema

This is Govind Nihalani's much-maligned plunge into mainstream cinema. Despite the mythological origins of the title, GN was clear that he chose it merely for its sound. Should that give us an inkling of how bad things could get? Perhaps. Ajay Devgan had expressed his interest in working with GN, and turns in an honest performance. Diction and dialogue delivery are some of the minuses in the film. Tabu turns in another performance that makes you wonder if she has been overrated. And ARR's strong soundtrack does not fit in with the film at all. Besides, Tabu can't dance. And the film wastes a lot of footage on (a) visuals of Tabu as a muse that will release AD from his contract of servility (b) Nethra Raghuraman (was her contract explicit on the songs?). A K Hangal appears to play his standard irate freedom fighter and vanishes shortly afterwards. Rahul Bose's performance has some unfortunate uncomfortable moments, but I still can't see someone else doing as much as he has for a role that deserved more careful writing. The angle of exploring some of the seedy underbelly in the construction business and the corporate struggle for power among builders is admirable, as is Bose's reinterpretation of Nehru's freedom speech on a construction site. Bose's character presents interesting possibilities too. And, as in his previous works like Ardh Satya and Droh kaal, GN explores themes of violence and betrayal. The final product is flawed, but still watchable, if only for not being a complete mainstream sellout. Triviamongers will recall that Amrish Puri had played AD's father in AD's launch vehicle Phool Aur Kaante (BTW, that was a spoiler!).

Monday, March 29, 2004

the strange case of karan johar

After an initial assessment, I managed to watch most of (thanks to a bad skipping DVD) the latest piece of exploitative corn from Dharma Productions, Kal Ho Naa Ho. At the end, the interesting elements (faux interviews, split screen, narrative closure) were things we had seen before. Saif Ali Khan deserved plaudits for his excellent timing and honest performance. The dialogue department scored a few aces (especially in the sequence when SRK coaches SAK to woo PZ back). The pitfalls were too numerous: SRK continues to fuel his "I am God" image at the expense of unsuspecting rich viewers (the North Indian/West-Indian/NRI market), the opening fragments of the film are hampered by clichéd cheap comedy and irritating hackneyed trite elements (both comic and tragic), Jaya Bachchan almost hits the bottom of the well with another turn as a mother exhausted by the weight of the world of sorrows, the usual tear-jerking devices (debt, unhappiness, unforgiving in-laws, imminent death, love and loss). The most shocking elements in the film were the mocking of the markets dear to the success of such productions: the North Indian market, the North Indian in America market, and the Gujarati community in America market. All the humour is playful. And it's also convenient (getting Satish Shah to play a self-and-flock mocking rich Gujarati? I can't believe this wasn't planned!). The "G-U-J-J-U" song isn't even on the soundtrack. And yet as soon as you step into the theatre, there's enough there that makes fun of the market, and also effortlessly sells this to the market in a clever way, so people go out satisfied (and glad to use several tissues weeping for the Khan who takes the longest time to die!). Karan Johar is laughing all the way to the bank. And will continue to do so. This is product. Exploitative product. Art becomes an artifice. And this is what the foreign lands will continue to use as an exemplar of Indian filmmaking: love, grand weddings, lots of song and dance, lots of mush and emotion, superficial characters. When will the market wake up? {I think I'm also trying to deal with the part of me that liked some parts of this flick. The horror. The horror}. Can't stop humming the title song. Great job, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, I guess.
more CDs from desiland

Yet another friend plays kind music agent during a trip to India and now I'm the proud owner of two of Indian Ocean's albums, Kandisa and Jhini, in addition to some other fare that's been on my "heard it, liked it, want to own it" list: Mumbai Matinee, Bhoot and Chameli. This was also the first time I had used an online Indian shopping portal. Remotely, as it were, but everything went smoothly. I wish they had more resilient CD jewel cases though.
ICMS 2004 begins

with a vocal concert by Santanu Bandhopadhyay at the Swanton Amphitheater at the Holiday Inn in Decatur, Georgia. He was accompanied on the tabla by Sujit Saha (the section of "has accompanied" in his bio reads like a virtual who's who!). The last concert I attended here (which was also my first ICMS concert) wasn't as satisfactory (plagued by delays, and a singer who couldn't find the pocket). Atlanta Dunia has a IE-friendly every_other_browser-unwelcome page dedicated to the event (TRIVIA: the audience photograph features a chopped-off yours truly). I had to miss a dinner with friends at Madras Sarvana Bhavan, and as ironic justice would have it, the dinner for the committee and volunteers after the concert had food catered from MSB. To top it all, there was stuff to scavenge for later meals.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

jaago: wake up and smell the funk

Manoj Bajpai is clearly in a catch-22 trap. Good roles won't get him the career he needs to continue to be in demand. Bad roles will give him an opportunity to rise above the material, but probably force him to compromise on quality. All for the visibility. Jaago is an example of the latter. Mehul Kumar returns to his tried-and-tested territory of cheap patriotic pontification mixed with generous doses of overacting, hamming and all the above in a Finnegan loop. MK makes a standard cameo (as Devang, the Aaj Tak TV newsreader), he ropes in KK Singh to give us volatile jingoistic screech-off-the-rooftops incendiary paragraphs, street-tinged metaphors and clichéd utterances. Sanjay Kapoor gets but 10 seconds of true meritorious acting (which, taken as a ratio of his total on-screen time so far in Bollywood, is close to 0). Raveena Tandon has tackled enough mainstream fodder for disbelief to take this one in her stride. Pratima Kazmi is wasted. The film embarasses and insults its sensitive premise (child rape) as it plods from one implausible situation to another. The contrivances make you sick. Even Bajpai's spirited turn is lost in the morass of likes like in me.n itanaa mar.d kaa zahar bhar de.nge ki saalo.n kaa ##blood group## hii ##change## ho jaayegaa. That last line comes from Puru Raj Kumar cameoing as Eliyaz Ansari. Other appearances include muted cuss words, Mushtaq Khan, Raju Shreshta (remember Master Raju?), and Manoj Joshi (who was last seen in Satta). Sameer Sen (of the Dilip Sen/Sameer Sen music director duo) provides the background drones and the ma.ntra chanting is vintage KK Singh material. Aah Manoj Bajpai, the crap I have to deal with to catch a performance of yours. Would someone give this talented man a chance please?

Friday, March 26, 2004


One of those lost fragments of moving images. Two gangs fighting it out. A mother figure is killed in the climactic scuffle between the leaders of the two gangs. This (understandably) has a traumatic effect on all concerned. That's all I remember. A movie I saw a long while ago on DD. Was this Gulzar's Mere Apne ?
a sinful waste of time

Pooja Bhatt demonstrates her complete lack of directorial vision with a bland flick that promised more skin in the previews that you would care to catch (unless you like ogling at lamas and yaks!). Papa Mahesh Bhatt is responsible for the script , and hence it makes cosmic sense that we have a.ngrezii source material (Witness). A lot of the sequences reminded me of the slick zing of Luc Besson's Léon). Where do we begin? With the inappropriately placed songs? With the background score that, though competent belongs elsewhere for the most part? With the lack-lustre shoddy editing that takes away the one thing (hint: brevity, vim) that might have saved this film from being a cure for insomnia? With this fresh[sic] find called Udita Goswami, who was led to believe that stardom is all about pouting, grunting, heaving, and mouthing bad dialogue badly? With John Abraham, who continues to give us proof that the Bhatt clan is incapable of finding us a good actor? With Mohan Agashe, who merits sympathy and cringes for having to mouth lines like har chiiz kaa a.nth hotaa hai aur us a.nth kaa bhii a.nth hotaa hai? With the standard Mahesh Bhatt trademark of giving us a family man tormented by a past that seems more interesting than the film itself (Agashe here, Anupam Kher in Gumrah)? Or must we just end with trite truisms like laamaa rote nahii.n. Find something else to do and spare yourself this skinless flick.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

gult invasion

Had picked up a tape of Darling Darling hoping to catch the fine performance[sic] of Dev Anand destroying some cool melodies from Pancham. Instead, this turned out to be a Telugu movie with bad subtitles (grammar and other aspects, mind you, not language matching: I don't speak Telugu). Bad. Bad. Bad. This is the kind of stuff that was raw material for the tear jerkers and headachers (like anything Indra Kumar ever made, any movie produced or directed by anyone whose name ended in Rama Rao).
random lines

From the BBC profile of India: Mr Vajpayee has spent most of the more than 40 years of his political career in opposition. With all the cowcrap that SCO's been raking up in its box of good deeds, this little piece about SCO suing God was inevitable. I'm not a man for reading about politics, but a Sidhuism seems worth it: If my aunty had been a man she would have been my uncle. And Khwahish star[sic] Mallika Sherawat shoots her mouth off again: (about the sort of man she would like) Someone really gutsy. Someone with more balls than I have. Come on, where are all the ballsy men? (is a lesson in anatomy called for? or is she just being in-the-know on idioms and phrases of a slangy kind?) And then later on The only man in my life is my younger brother Vikram. I am like a nun. I work and I go back home, with no one to sleep with. And it�s not out of choice..

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Yuva/Ayutha Ezhuthu

What more can I say given JR's extensive take on all things about this latest Mani/ARR collab? I cringe at Esha Deol being in not one but both versions. As always Mani saar gets strong notes in the looks and feels department (Abhishek Bachchan's look, Madhavan's look). Should I be unfairly premature in noting that I don't expect much from this (again)? ARR's songs reek of staleness. He hasn't been able to get back to the glories of Thiruda Thiruda, which was (for me) the last good complete soundtrack that came out of this collaboration ... Of course the little bit of club jazz is cool, some of the refrains are cool too. But cool ain't getting you much.

Monday, March 22, 2004

philip k dick: a handful of paranoia

includes ads in space as well as a very dystopian perspective on the role of robots in a futuristic society spanning the solar system with overcrowded congested multi-lane highways {ref: note about a patent for advertising in space}
oracle craps ... yet again

Brian Duff posted a note about OTN's revised look and feel. All I got there was a bunch of 503s. He also links to editor Justin Kestelyn's note on the makeover. Guess what, another missing page. Can't these guys get something tested before taking a dump on the production server? If this were an open-source project, I wouldn't complain so much, but we're talking about an ego-driven MSFT-hating MSFT wannabe.
smiles galore

The The true genius from the Gang of Four was not how to create elegant enterprise software systems, but to provide ultimate reusable set of solutions for a complex system. Check out Dating Design Patterns.
what do we do? we wait ...

Caught a performance of Beckett's absurdist classic Waiting for Godot (pronounced: God-O) at 7Stages. A great experience that prefigures the madness of Monty Python, questions the nature of life, discusses Christianity with tongue firmly in cheek, and attains theatrical glory with a minimalist set and strong performances.
fragments: chanakya and #9, no tomorrows, hackneyed justice

Chor Pe Mor is a forgettable Karan Shah/Neelam vehicle notable for some R D Burman songs, classic cheap lines (apun log jaamun ke pe.D ke niiche kha.Daa rah ke aam aam chillaataa hai), a hamminglorious turn by Kiran Kumar, laughable clichés; and Naseeruddin Shah playing Inspector Chanakya (which gives him a chance to obsess with the number 9 and mouth classics like tujhe mai.n itane dino.n tak ba.ndh rakhuu.Ngaa saale jab tak tuu chakkii piis\-piisakar sarakaar ke liye itanaa paisaa kamaa le ke sarakaar ko ##jail## banaane kaa kharch vasuul ho jaaye).

Kal Ho Naa Ho is all about the embarassingly manipulative enterprise run by Karan Johar and SRK, which gets NRIs to shell out $$$ towards its profits by mocking them. SRK's introduction is interesting, but the film stretches things a little too far with its attempt to hammer in the "wasn't that cool" message. Saif Ali Khan is effortless as always, and deserves more respect in life than sick flicks like this one. Ripping off an American radio favourite and smacking its desi version against a video of people cavorting against a backdrop of the American flag is in really bad taste.

Insaaf: The Justice begins well with Sanjay Suri typing out some good Hindi in his suicide note before blowing his brains out. Downhill is the subsequent direction. Dino Morea does not run at all, and is, hence, useless at anything else. Namrata Shirodkar's sincerity and the Big B's voiceover (hackneyed, and vacillating between free time and 7/8) are the only things notable. And the vocal motif for the bad guy. Everything else is déjà why.

56 and counting ... killing time

When we get information, we kill criminals. When we don't have information, we kill time. The line joins several other bits of crackling in-your-face dialogue in Ab Tak Chhappan, the latest offering from RGV's Factory, also marking the directorial début of Bhoot editor Shimit Amin. There's a documentary feel to the proceedings, with a lot of synch sound. There are no songs. No unnecessary romantic angles. Great pace. Honest performances (including one of Nana Patekar's greatest ever!). And since this is an RGV flick, there's even a self-referential dig (tum se kitanaa pyaar hai from Company plays at the wedding anniversary dinner). Wonder if the reference to Welankar was an homage to Nihalani's Ardh Satya. Revathi seems to get a thankless role, but I can't imagine any lesser actress managing to pull it off with as much ease. As with Company, there's a lot derived from real-life (Encounter specialist Daya Nayak), mixed with other aspects that are dear to RGV (like a nexus of every kind greying the ideas of good and bad). N Chandra attempted to adapt Daya Nayak's life to the silver screen with Kagaar. I haven't managed to catch that flick yet, but Amin's version can easily beat that one. Having long sold out to mainstream cinema, Chandra has lost any credibility as a director with a sense of realism. There are more RGV flicks in the pipeline. Until they hit the screens (or the DVD stores), we can kill time as well.
z o o and kudzu

My first visit to the Atlanta Zoo. On a day of good weather. The usual smells and cool sights. But it was a great walk. The giant panda took top honours (and it was heartening to know that they had better chances of survival in captivity). The black widow spider glass display was empty. Makes you feel safe, what? And the lion was definitely a self-ware star, weary of the trappings of stardom. The fighting lemurs beat the sound levels generated by the people that abound in the MARTA buses and trains. Pity, the Cyclorama nearby was closed when we walked out.

Another visit to Kudzu. This great discount book store has been forced to close out its other branches (both new and old) over the last two years, leaving the Peachtree Industrial Boulevard location alone in the battle against overpriced books. The computer section's promised refill hasn't happened yet. But I managed to get some more volumes of Projections.

shoddy fare sponsored by flavoured chewing tobacco

Caught the recent 45th annual filmfare awards ceremony on videotape. Embarassing fare. The production quality still looks very sarakaarii and the gauch and amateurish tone continues to mature, while an uncomfortably incestuous feeling that this is "all about loving your lovings" takes over. Archana Puran Singh set the trend for the evening by launching into the most fragmented stream of conscious blather since a malfunctioning garden hose. Every joke was forced, a non sequitur. Every invited presenter seemed to function merely as a dummy, a shell, a bouncing wall for APS's pathetically written drivel. Shabana Azmi strove hard to break the tedium by acknowledging the recipients of the technical awards, since our "tech savvy" filmmaking junta were so clued in on what things like editing and sound design had to do with making movies starring the sparrow Rai. More embarassment ensued as articulate people like Kabir Bedi and Rahul Khanna were presented in the worst light since the ugly pallour cast by sodium vapours on Welbeck Road back home. The only redeeming aspect of the whole host affair was the mini segment taken care of by SRK and Saif Ali Khan. While the gay jokes and nasty digs (more on that in a moment) went from being amusing and hilarious to boring and painful, Saif Ali Khan scored an ace. His comic timing was miles ahead of the hemming and hawing of the vastly overrated and epileptic SRK. The nasty digs actually helped put those stupid new awards in perspective (WTF is a look of the year award??). And also some inappropriate presenters (WTFF does Amar Singh have to do with music/Pancham that he is invited to present the RD Burman Award?). The last mentioned award continued to find an appropriate recipient this year (the talented Vishal-Shekhar). A few of the technical awards were welcome, but the popular awards were a choke. Clearly the tag "Best" should be replaced by "Most Voted for". How can you explain Koi ... Mil Gaya and Kal Ho Naa Ho winning all those awards? Sanjay Dutt deserving an award when Boman Irani is around? Give me a frigging break. And Arshad Warsi got nothing?? And then there were painful omissions like Sunidhi Chauhan, Vishal-Shekhar, Rahul Bose ... endless list.

Filmfare continued to try and keep everyone happy, while retaining the "loving your lovings" behaviour: oodles of time and visual space spent on the Kapoor khaandaan: Karishma's wedding, Kareena's ode to her sister (haven't you guys heard of privacy, email, telephones???), and Kareena getting a special award for Chameli (Bebo's contention that she was a pioneer in the "actress[sic] playing a streetwalker in a mainstream movie" move holds no water -- clearly Waheeda Rehman in Pyaasa comes to mind ...).

And then there were all those performances on stage. The set was some proto-phallic dilation which housed such untalented dancers[sic] as Fardeen Khan, John Abraham (mostly unclad), Bipasha Basu (clad in stuff from a car wash dumpster) ... Hrithik lived up to his reputation by participating in the tightest performance of the evening, although it is painfully obvious that he is a man of limited moves. The kids from Shiamak Davar's school who supported the medley were the real treat. Awesome synchronization. They put every star to shame.

I must say that given the volatile and offensive content of the FF awards, Janet Jackson's faux pas at the Super Bowl seems mild, at least from a conservative K-soap watching orthodox boring bland Indian family POV. That said, one must also note that the Big B featured prominently on stage, and ended up saying a lot of polite nothing, as always. One must also note the cheeky camera which shifted to shots of Shahid Kapur when Kareena was gyrating[sic] on stage (among other cheeky swipes). One must also note the forlorn look on Manoj Bajpai's face (recall his withdrawal of the Pinjar nomination and his unlikely defeat at the hands of Salman Khan for what might still be the most memorable performance of his career) as he tried to understand what made these despicable awards click. Hopefully, he can find solace in his writings for the BBC [the hindi version, if you will]. The list of people on the Critics board was illuminating: I can recall seeing Aruna Raje (who was responsible for the bedroom bore Tum). All I can remember was saying "aah, that would explain why Munna Bhai MBBS won ...". And I got to see what Abbas Tyrewala looked like. Lots of cool people. The wrong people assigned "cool" status. All in all, another day in the life of the auto-fellating film industry called Bollywood. But, one must note a sign of progress: they used the word "metrosexual" on the show. Or is it a sign of progress? In a world of mush, meadows, marriages, musical melancholy, maddeningly mundane scripts, multi-starrer miasma, marshy ripoffs, and metropolitan atavism ...

Friday, March 19, 2004


Thanks to Sudarshan (once again!) for a great pointer to another quote from the eminently quotable Bappi Lahiri. This time it's Sonia Gandhi is adorable.
Bappi on Rediff

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

green is the colour ...

Google knocks out another cool logo, this time for St Patrick's Day.
Google's St Patrick's Day 2004 Logo

Monday, March 15, 2004


Vishal-Shekhar's songs for Shaadi ka Ladoo feature my favourite Sunidhi Chauhan, make for easy listening, but don't mark any new territory for the duo.

When I uncheck "Play a clip when RealPlayer starts up", I expect the stupid piece of software to *stop* playing that irritating opening fragment of music.

"Next Southbound train to the airport" is an automated announcement that you expect to hear as the train is pulling INTO the station, not OUT. Another boo for MARTA.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Chopra's fog aka how to butcher a perfectly good premise with shoddy filmmaking

While the announcement to confer the Dadasaheb Phalke Award on B R Chopra was met with the usual media splurge of news articles and special features, several patrons (including myself) of the NFAI Film Club in Pune were distraught. The reason: our schedule for movies (which covered several Saturdays across several months) was inundated with B R Chopra films -- someone's idea of a tribute. Now one of the cool things about the Film Club (ostensibly, it would appear given this Chopra-puke) was the chance to catch films that you might not have been able to watch otherwise, even with cable television (this was a great forward-compatible feature, since cable television came long after the Film Club was born). Although BRC had made some important contributions to mainstream cinema, his films would hardly qualify as being inaccessible. In fact, almost every selection in that list could have been found in the local Cosmos branch.

The BRC rant becomes relevant given that I finally inaugurated my first VCD, Dhund yesterday. BRC has been responsible for two songless films that even made it to the Limca book of records (although his "trendsetting" work has been superseded by RGV's Factory): Kanoon and Ittefaq. Dhund follows in the footsteps of these films in several ways: the script is a product of the BRC Story Department (credited in this film, and I am guessing, also in one of the two films mentioned previously); the film relies on a shock/twist ending you can smell a mile away and have to wade through songs (in this case) and bad editing, lighting, acting, dialogue ... blah blah blah to confirm your deduction. Ravi seems to love in hawaao.n me.n a lot, since a reworked version appears in this film. Zeenat Aman joins a stellar (read: starry) cast of wood. Navin Nischol's terrible turn shows us how his being chosen for Kukunoor's satire Bollywood Calling was such a wonderful decision. Sanjay Khan is the well-dressed Habaneros Cigar-smoking ham (NOTE: the cigar, a vital piece of evidence, is never even mentioned in one of the most contrived court scenes ever!). Ashok Kumar escapes with a "special appearance" credit, although he can't save face given all the pathetic dialogue he has to mouth. A "remastered" (why the quotes, see my Yashraj films rant!) DVD exists, but if you (a) want to get yourself a copy of this film (b) want to be $$$-smart, get the VCD. Lotsa laughs. Forget the suspense. If RGV had been chosen to make this story, we'd have had a better-made film. What we have here are the usual elements of poor mainstream cinema (inept cops, loud comedy, Jayshree T and Padma Khanna). For the record, record-holder Jagdish Raj plays Inspector Bakshi. Danny got a break with his turn as a ranting crippled husband. Trivia note: The background cops Isaac Hayes's theme for Shaft.

NOTE: Not to be confused with the Hindi_name__English_meaning entry from the Ramsay camp called Dhund: the Fog.

Another review of the film complete with vidcaps and salacia.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

69 is divine

A cheerleader's chant in Robert Altman's M*A*S*H. Am relishing the goodies on a 2-DVD special release. My introduction to the world of the people of the 4077th had been through the TV series, which hit India rather late on satellite television. Thanks again to satellite television, I managed to catch the source of the award-winning television phenomenon, the only Robert Altman movie that I might be willing to watch again and again. Altman established most of his trademarks with this film: overlapping dialogue, ensemble casting, and a general almost Kubrickian bent for being a nutcase. The special features on the DVD include more information about the revolutionary use of overlapping dialogue, the use of a zoom lens in conjunction with individual microphones to capture conversations in a more realistic non-linear fashion, the introduction of the now familiar loudspeaker motif to provide a transitional device to fragments of life that did not easily lend themselves to a conventional mainstream linear narrative. And then there's the whole bit of Ring Lardner Jr's disgust at how the final product seemed to bear little resemblance to his less adventurous script. And, recalling a similar triumph for Citizen Kane, Lardner walked away with the only Oscar this film received. Clearly his victory had something to do with Hollywood wishing to assure everyone that it had decided to forget the dark chapter of the blacklist (Lardner was one of the unlucky 10). And the poster is pure genius. Looking forward to more relish on the director's commentary. Truly, suicide is painless.

Friday, March 12, 2004

the indian trend continues ...

As the /. post titled Need a Job? Move to India suggests. Monster now has an Indian portal. The Indian angle is getting more and more in-your-face. And the butt of jokes. And the target of criticism and protest. And a herald of change. For the better, I hope.
the wicker man

The credit reads Anthony Shaffer's The Wicker Man. Great intelligent filmmaking. A cult favourite (after having suffered at the hands of a braindead studio management). A restoration that owes a lot to indie champion Roger Corman. A wonderful cast. A great performance by Christopher Lee (also noted an allegorical connection to the Big B's early unsung performances that spoke more about him as an actor than his subsequent and continuing mainstream efforts ever did!). And people intent on discussing theological interpretations will enjoy the clash between Christianity and Druidism; between a representative of a Christian state and a completely different view on evolution, life, death and all that other fun stuff. This Anchor Bay release seems to have been superseded by a 2-disc release which accomodates the lost footage that we hear about in the accompanying documentary and special features. Minor grouses are the painfully obvious flesh-coloured stockings that the dancing "naked" girls are wearing (can't really blame them, because this film set in May, was shot in October and November). Anthony Shaffer should be a familiar name, thanks to the wonderful Sleuth and his sole collaboration with the Master in Frenzy.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

the noose tightens

Alexander Lavrynov, a spacecraft designer, has patented a device for putting advertising into space that would be seen from Earth ... {the original /. post}. Sudarshan points me to yet another example of the fluff that emerges as a consequence of the Rediff writers[sic] being required to generate fresh[sic] content everyday: which film star would you like to see as PM? [HINT: the answer -- NONE -- is rather trivially simple!!]. And, adding to the "electionanigans", fellow Govinda fan N tells me that Chi Chi bhaiyaa has entered the Lok Sabha race.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

interesting evidence of the indian angle to outsourcing

All this outrage and uproar with jobs moving in droves to India. And even though I knew that outsourcing has been happening for longer than all the "patriotically outraged" analysts have led us to believe, I seem to have become even more conscious about the "Indian" element in IT solutions. One example would be my visit to the Java section of IBM's developerWorks portal. The newest addition to the articles talked about using AOP to deal with legacy code. My eyes scrolled down to take in the contents in precis, when they stopped at the author's name: Abhijit Belapurkar. And I was also informed that he was a Senior Technical Architect with Infosys Technologies Limited (one of the big juggernauts in Indian IT, and also one of the key players in the outsourcing fracas). I don't recall ever seeing an article by an Indian IT professional working with an Indian IT firm on the developerWorks pages before. But then again, I just noted my heightened awareness of these things. Perhaps I should take this is a sign of the positive effects of all this media spotlight on the talent that India has been generating for decades (and, hopefully, will continue to do so for decades to come). Must also note, in closing, a similar trend on other fora I troll like the OReilly portal for Java.
a man can either be a cauliflower or he can attempt great things. There is nothing in between

I picked up Sanjay Nigam's The Snake Charmer on a whim. It stared out at me from a bookshelf close to the elevator in the public library. Grabbing a book like this is usually fun. You know nothing about the writer. So there's the element of discovery. And, hopefully, reading the book is aided by this element. In the case of Nigam's tale of a luckless middle-aged snake charmer, who becomes an unlikely Ulysses after being responsible for the shocking death of his snake. The book is lucid and lyrical, full of lines pithy and truistic. A very fast entertaining read. Benzene, chile peppers, and priceless lines ("tomatoes only work for the anaemia of loneliness"). And being an afficionado of scatalogical humour I must quote Nigam's description of Sonalal's first encounter with the Western-style toilet: The bathroom proved especially vexing. He hadn't sat on a Western-style toilet before, though it was one of those things he'd always been curious about. When he finally did sit on it, the experience was anticlimactic. Though he'd never been constipated in his life, his bowels didn't budge for two days. But at last his sphincter became accustomed to the new sight, and the world grew subtle again.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

we just hadn't planned on a change of plan

Laurel Canyon is Frances McDormand all the way. The rest of it is an Oz-fest, which also caters to Kate Beckinsale oglers. Familiar songs abound on the soundtrack. The more interesting thing to do would be to note that Alex (Beckinsale) uses Microsoft Word for editing her dissertation and Netscape Messenger to send email. That's a Dell laptop (couldn't note the specific release), and a Yamaha guitar. And Zidjan cymbals. As J Hoberman puts it short on conviction and long on contrivance. A passing note on the phone by Ian McKnight (Alessandro Nivola) about bagels and Israel got me hunting down their origins. I guess the movie wasn't a complete loss.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

tum? how dare you!

What is Rajat Kapoor doing in this sorry waste of film stock? What the flying F was Aruna Raje (credited throughout as "Arunaraje") thinking? Was she planning to add another futile specious exploration of women and adultery to her list? Was she trying to make a facile murder mystery (where everyone is a suspect and the audience is asleep)? The bedroom sequences are an embarassment. The acting can't even be referred to thus. Rajat Kapoor is so good, it makes you weep and cringe to see him sinking in this marsh of mediocrity. "My films are not meant to titillate!" screamed Raje in a recent interview. I agree, they are excellent for insomniacs. Kalpana Lajmi floundered recently with Kyon?. That title sums up my reaction to this "dangerous obsession".

Saturday, March 06, 2004

pyaar tune kya kiya: all about varma's influence

Given the recent burgeoning of RGV into a syndicate with The Factory, going back and watching this addition to the genre defined by Play Misty for Me (and unfortunately epitomized by a much louder 80s-slick Fatal Attraction) was a nice treat. Like watching a prequel. Most interesting is the presence of a restrained Ravi Baswani. Suresh Oberoi plays the unaware father (perhaps marking a spot in the camp that would later be taken up by his son Vivek). Varma camp regulars (and some soon-to-be-more-than-one-film-ke-saathii) abound. Most notably Rajpal Yadav, putting in a wonderful turn as Rampal (Rampal Yadav, as the end credits tell us). There are a few odes to Satya: most notably when Yadav calls Baswani pretending to be chhoTaa shakiil's brother chhoTaa vakiil. Music director Chowta uses this sequence and others revisiting the idea and quotes his cue the mood of satya. Chowta's "credited" inspirations on three songs are now common knowledge (for kambaKt ishq, pyaar tuune kyaa kiyaa and rau.nde hai). The songs are another interesting aspect, flitting from the conventional on-screen FF-friendly to the background, underscoring the events on screen. Urmila relishes her role, and Fardeen flounders about in innocent abandon. Sonali Kulkarni has precious little to do, and the dialogue and screenplay department definitely needed another cycle of QA. Grouses aside, the film is in no way a disposable disappointment
the minor miracle of khakee {NOTE: scattered thoughts and spoilers}

It's amazing. Rajkumar Santoshi manages a minor miracle with Khakee. Santoshi continues to flounder in the tautness department, and it is extremely disappointing in this case, when he seems to have got the other bits right: a decent cast (barring the mercifully brief turn by Aishwarya Rai) with Akshay Kumar turning in a performance that deserves an award simply for finally managing to "act" (bravo!), Tusshar (his father co-starred with the Big B, and thus AB and Madhuri Dixit join a list for starring opposite successive generations), Atul Kulkarni, Ajay Devgan (assisted by the only decent motif in the background score, and relishing his role with devilish glee). Lara Dutta's cameo provides more evidence of how ugly and vulgar she can be on screen (which is probably all she should focus on). And then there's another star of the yesteryears, Tanuja. Santoshi makes amends for his China (Heaven's) Gate attempt at getting veterans to lead a film. And yet, we have problems. The Big B gets to mouth the tired bit addressed to Muslim terrorists in Bollywood (you know, the just because of a few like you your kaum etc etc). The film is a great watch (barring the extremely unreadable opening credits, the sick synthetic ectoplasmic sheen that plagued other films like Qayamat) until the first song. And I sat there aghast. Why does Santoshi insist on blowing up any good chance he has of making a decent movie? With all the tension building up, with a good pace, what was the frigging need to put in a song? Was this part of Ms Rai's contract? (since my "acting" role is short, I would like a few songs). And there are a couple of other predictable sick musical breaks later on. And the sequence when the cops give Ansari (Kulkarni) a decent burial cannot rise above the mediocrity of clichés. And there's bad dialogue synching at several points. The gaffe alert went off with noticeable REM when the Big B pulls back the sheet covering the face of the dead Akshay Kumar. Santoshi and co-writer Shridhar Raghavan (whose brother made his directorial début with Ek Hasina Thi) deserve credit for not shying away from breaking established clichés of life and death. And the Big B makes sure that good dialogue is delivered the right way. And also, that bad dialogue does not send you hammering your head against the wall. And pray tell me who that extra was who played SaaTam? Pathetic acting and dialogue delivery. Devgan needs another style for his cigarette smoking.

The film belongs to Amitabh Bachchan, who does a Clint Eastwood by letting the baggage of his angry young man iconography assist his playing of a believable aging cop who wants one last shot of glory. The first time we see him is when he is nodding off at a function at the training school. And later on I couldn't resist a smile when he runs out of breath and dives into his pockets for an aspirator while giving chase (I have to say, I was hoping Santoshi would put it in). Jaya Prada adds to the Big B ethos with her cameo as his wife. And pray tell me what the justification is in overdubbing haraam zaadaa (well established in Bollywood history) as haraam Kor and bhaDavaa (once again, a standard) as dalaal?? I noted a couple of references to other Big B movies, but this could be my overacting imagination. Akshay Kumar talks about the two kinds of i.nsaaf. Was that a tip to the Big B's drunken speech in Hum? Trivia note: this film was a Ramsay family production.

Santoshi seems hell-bent on doing for the Big B in his later years, what Desai, Mehra, and Salim-Javed did for him during his peak. I only hope this helps him churn out better mainstream entertainers. And I wish he would master the art of continuity and flow, which are essential when making movies like this. And yes, could we find someone who can spell resemblance correctly?

Addendum: Note from my friends: Prakash Raj, who plays ACP Naidu in the film, is a famous actor in the Telugu film industry. His face seemed generally familiar, and my guess is he has done some other Bollywood movies, but memory does not serve me well here.

Friday, March 05, 2004

main hoon na {aka: greedy postmodernism}

Choreographer Farah Khan makes her directorial début with Main Hoon Na. And once again, in keeping with the ugly trend of late to cash in the late R D Burman, Farah Khan goes public about how much of an RD fan she is (truly speaking: most of us are, which makes this a truism!). She chooses Anu Malik to dig up the bones of the dead Pancham and serve up a plagiara milkshake (the official line: to lend a nostalgic touch of Burman's vintage tunes to the music of the film). Truth be told, I'd have been happier if they had taken the older tunes and cleaned up the audio and used them on screen. A lot of Pancham numbers have been ruined on screen, and FK and Co. (including the intolerable SRK) could have pulled off a dance video miracle. Although I hope this film flops (I'm sick of well-made mushy marsh mellows. They make me look forward to a diet of films about the Bengal famine, just for a jolt of reality), I can sense its success already. Sucks.

Which brings us to the music itself. If FK had exercised more educated judgement (not market-driven, not emotional, not dumb), I would think she would have done better by opting for Vishal-Shekhar or Vishal Bhardwaj. These people have demonstrated the ability to uphold the legacy of the late Pancham, without repainting his bones for romantic voodoo (something that the talented Jatin-Lalit have done, thus disqualifying them from any kind consideration). Yet, she chooses Shri Malik, whose only merit is his ability to shamelessly lift droves of tunes from a variety of predictable sources and sandwich them between smelly paavs and sell them in a five-star Thelaa. The inappropriateness of the choice is evident in the choice of the title song by Sonu Nigam (yuck!) and Shreya Ghoshal. What this sounds like most is like the "music of Pancham" as redefined by Jatin-Lalit. The whistle is cool, everything else sounds like "vintage Anu Malik", "vintage Jatin Lalit", "vintage Shah Rukh Khan song", "vintage Sonu Nigam song". NOT "vintage R D Burman". Failure at the first leg. Not a good sign. The Sonu plague continues into the next song tum se mil ke dil kaa joo haal. Aftab and Hasim Sabri cannot help this tune strong on the déjà vu. Disgusting. Something that was added to meet the "we need a peppy dance number" requirement. This also probably fulfills Shri Malik's dying desire to trump Rahman in the qawaali department. Vishal's tu mere ruubaruu from Maqbool notwithstanding, Rahman is assured no competition whatsoever. This is dismal fare. Given that RDB was great at qawwaliis himself, and this soundtrack was aiming for a "vintage R D Burman" sound, we must chalk up another failure. Probably not worth noting that the male chorus sounds like something from mujhe tuune in MSAMD. tumhe jo mai.nne dekhaa opens with Malik revisiting Latin territory (see also: the Gypsy King ripoffs for Josh). There's a rock n' roll packaging to the whole undertaking, but we still don't cross over from Malik land to any of the intended musical "vintages". But I must note a few Pancham fragments that pop up here (most noticeably in the coda, while the rest languish in the less noticeable portions drowned by heavy synthesizer programming). gorii gorii is irritating. There's the fervour last seen in tum se milii nazar from MMBCH, but that one was a clear winner. Anu Malik steps up once again to try and convince us that he can sing. The only song he ever did tolerably was ##Julie Julie##. Everything else is miserably aurally painful. And why does Malik think it's cool to quote his own sub-standard work elsewhere on this album? And why is the infinitely more capable Kay Kay relegated to screaming dance hall encouragements and choruses, only to surface for the a.ntaraas? Sunidhi Chauhan is wasted. This song is a waste. The point is taken, the elk is dead, the beast stops at Swindon, Chabrol stops at nothing, I'm having treatment and La Fontaine can get knotted. chale.n jaise hawaa_e.N is bearable until you hear the singer for the first time. Vasundhara Das doesn't even make much muster. Did Javed Akhtar really write all this crap (including the clichéd onomatopoeiac infestation in this song) so far? And there are countless quotes (nay lifts) from all over the other-sphere. Tell me you couldn't spot the lift from Michael Jackson's Bad in the chorus. At this point I must record the sense of a "vintage Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy" as well -- perhaps in keeping with their induction into the SRK camp with Kal Ho Naa Ho. Up next is the fulfillment of the "sad version of a song" requirement. The aa-aa drenched Daf-sad violin accompanied pathos-soaked voice of a well-paid Abhijeet gives us the weepy version of the depressing title song. ye fizaa_e.N features more guitar runs, processed voices, and the classic Malik/SRK beat (ref: Duplicate). And Ranjit Barot steps in to take us back to the title song, but he layers it with segments of Remo-esque rap, and a heavy beat track. Despite the general lack of taste, the number actually scores (for me) over the unmixed Malik creation.

Ripoff raajaa Malik has been known to comment once Why can't we be original? Why should people pay money to listen to poor music? The pop element and the obsession with sound and technology is a passing phase.

The only RDB touch seems to have been having veteran vamp and co-star Bindu (the famous pyaar se log mujhe shabbo kahate hai.n comes to mind) to release the music of the film.

techtalk and laughathons

banknotes exploding in a microwave thanks to RFID tags. the joy of Microsoft Word's "track changes" reveals Bank of America as an alternative target for SCO's lawsuits. (courtesy: sudarshan) new additions to the Congress election race include Asrani, Sharad Kapoor, Zeenat Aman, Namrata Shirodkar and Celina Jaitley (I checked the date, honest! April's a couple of weeks away!).

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

coming soon: high times and MAQBOOL

Thanks to AB for pointing me to the note about the Indian Film Festival at the High Museum in April/May 2004. Apart from the usual "Bollywood"-ian fare (including two appearances by Ma'am Aishwarya -- YUCK!), and the disgusting inclusion of the now-clichéd inclusion of DDLJ, I am pleased to see The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum, Bariwali (now I can find out if Kiron Kher is over-rated!), Mr and Mrs Iyer; pleasantly surprised to see WBHHP2 and overjoyed (nay, over-overjoyed) to see Maqbool. Here's the listing for non-IE and/or lazy surfers, who appreciate the brevity of pertinent information (and can't stand irritatingly slow eye-candy animation and scroll bars).

*Kannathil Muthamittal {Friday Apr 30}

*Mr. and Mrs. Iyer {Saturday May 01}

*The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum {Fri May 07}

*DDLJ {Saturday May 08}

*Kandukondain, Kandukondain {Friday May 14}

*WBHHP2 {Saturday May 15}

*Bariwali {Friday May 21}

*Maqbool {Saturday May 22}
blog snags

Harking back to the days spent in an HCI class: inconvenient mug positions
the hours

The only other Daldry film I've seen is the simpler and much-less-expensive Billy Elliot. Haven't read any Virginia Woolf. Didn't know much about her. Yet this spatio-temporally multi-layered film was a joy to watch. Although I still can't fathom Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore justify all plaudits for their wonderful turns. I haven't read Michael Cunningham's post-modern source novel, but the special features on the DVD did give me the impression that there were important changes during the transition to the screen. Philip Glass's primary motif (which felt like Herrmann's Vertigo theme inverted) reappears in different forms and textures and fits well in its role connecting the different threads progressing through the exploration of the writer, the book and a character. Ed Harris, Stephen Dillane, Miranda Richardson, and John C Reilly lend able support. And now I must try and read some Woolf.

Monday, March 01, 2004

the return of bombay beats

the ebay seer returns with a bag of loot from the guys who call themselves Bombay Beats:

* SEXY bollywood LOUNGE FUNK Bappi Lahiri Josh:Hard to find & Brilliant Bappi with clear, wide sound and open beats filled till the top with samples. Two laidback lounge tracks and one slow minimalistic disco track. All very long, trippy & atmospheric and great songs on top of that. Float into outerspace with Asha! This is without doubt Bappi's deepest Lounge Funk LP. And more and more we believe that Bappi is the King of Hindi Lounge. The LP cover photograph has Deven Verma and Amjad Khan singing a duet together in the recording studio (gulp!).

* very rare BURMAN bollywood KILLER EP: This week we?ve got some unreal Indian oddities on EP all in super condition. This one is by RD Burman and it?s for Garam Masala, a film from 1970. It?s a charming film since it?s sort of a belated female stunt film, like the famous Hunterwali (Girl with the whip). See the cover scan to see what I mean. But this was made as late as 1970, so it?s an extremly groovy affair! Here?s some of Burman?s best music ever on vinyl. It?s on the verge between his seventies funky period and his jazz and rock oriented sixties. It?s very laid back swinging with freakishly played electric wah wah guitar, big band, treated hammond and jazzy singing. Somehow it?s really ballanced, with no anoying stuff in between and sudden bursts of inspired and swinging suspense madness. They really arrested the groove on this session! This one is VG++ (cover and record). ODEON INDIA 1970, EMOE 2196

* KARZ bollywood instr. 45 SOFT PORN LOUNGE: Indian soft porn lounge! This hard to find 45 contains the track that is missing on the KARZ LP: the instrumental theme music of KARZ. Three and a half minutes of deep cinematic bolly lounge, beautiful soft porn theme with nice light percussion. Make love to this on your lush 70?s carpet, Indian style. India 1980. The secret of this theme track may be found elsewhere on this blog.

* BOLLYWOOD ActionThriller Bappi Lahiri Do Usta[d]: Do Ustad: rare score to a full C-grade film with an amazing deep disco hypnotizer, 9 minutes long, sung by Usha Uthup (=Usha Iyer). Mad interludes going all over the Bappi place. Great lines. The only Bollywood score I know that is truely spiritual, as Usha Uthup sings:'Love is God??God is Love????? Love Love Love'. India 1982

* MOOG FUNK Bollywood 1974 Kalyandji Anandji: One of the three best 70's Funk albums by Bolly Funk Brothers Kalyandji Anandji. Contains a whole string of wicked tracks, and that is a big exception in Bolly LP land. On top the title instrumental. Big Wah Wah suspense, building up and building up?. Eventually a sinister moog comes in, playing a creepy theme. A wicked, long instrumental which builds from the suspense intro into terrifying horror?.. Ultimate!!! In "Ae Zamane" a 60?s beat combo in unsurpassed Kaliandji/Anandji style bursts loose in a 60?s Indian song. Super groovy, and very Hindi. The other song, "Kise Pe Dil" is one of those rare Hindi songs that leaves the Hindi frame of mind behind and goes enterily funky in a hindi way. "Chhup Chhup" is also in 60?s beat style. Fat beats & nterludes! India 1974.

* FUNKY BOLLYWOOD R.D. Burman MANORANJAN: Early 70's Burman score to the film 'Manoranjan': Entertainment. Hard driving Masala beat . The great track is a duet between Kishore & Aha and has a long whirling oriental beat intro & sublime wild interludes. Mad Stuff!! Also contains a 'Cat Fight Music' and 'Entertainment' in gypsy style. 1990 Issue
retro note for morarji desai's birthday

Google celebrated the special day yesterday with a cool logo:
Google's Happy Leap Year 2004

pancham picchur

Five movies to mark the weekend that comes once in four years (in reverse chronological order).

* 1984: Saw this on Star Plus a long time ago. The only lingering impression I had was "this is a good movie". Didn't know about the allegorical aspects of Orwell's work. Didn't fully appreciate the meaning of the word Orwellian. Now that I have learned a lot more, the movie is a scary experience. Wonderfully bleak and stark, shot faithfully during the actual dates mentioned in Winston Smith's diary, boasting perfect performances by John Hurt (who seemed to have reused his melancholy when he sleepwalked through his role as Kane in Alien), Richard Burton (in his last screen appearance), and Suzanna Hamilton. Brilliant movie.

* Kismat: Guddu Dhanoa returns with his standard repertoire of countless car crashes, explosions, shattering glass, people falling from heights, a high body count, scenes of torture, 80s/90s revenge clichés, short-lived family members, insanity, kitschy romance and (this is what's different) an attempt to transplant Payback into Bollywood (revenge with an altered motivation, along with the Punju songs). Sanjay Narwekar takes top honours in this Titanic enterprise, and Bobby Deol does well in the scenes where he needs to say nothing (honestly, the looks of seriousness in the latter portion of the film deserve some mention). Priyanka Chopra continues to stump us ("why exactly is she still in films, given that she can't act and that her trips to the gym have trimmed her steatomammate appeal?"). And there's a cute drunken song. The rest of it is a laugh riot, but still watchable. How can you enjoy this best? Spot the sequences that obviously used wires for fighting and action, note the classic near-and-dear ones driven nuts/killed/defamed/driven to suicide/crippled motifs. Note the twist in that the person affected is not the hero, but the heroine, and that the bringer of ill tidings is the hero (instead of some loud, bombastic, evil villain). Note the nice little anticlimaxes. Note how Bobby Deol (dancing on-screen) and music director Anand Raj Anand (with the musical tunes and arrangements) and the choreographers (Ganesh Acharya makes yet another on-screen appearance, this time directing the song picturisation while someone else provides the dance steps!) give us Sunny Deol nostalgia. Note the Hindi text floating out of a piece of paper onto the screen near the end of the movie. Note the use of wireless laptops running Windows and using software on CDs for GPS. Not the censored cuss words. Note Ashish Vidyarthi's strictly-for-the-money loud Vikas "shaaNaa" Patil. Enjoy Mushtaq Khan's letter-perfect turn as a Gujju secretary. Not the bad physics (gun and victim recoils) and the holes in the script. And then, if you still survive, go rent Payback and see a much better stripped-down movie. TRIVIA NOTE: Anand Raj Anand manages to give his brother Harry Anand some filmic representation, when a nicely edited sequence intercuts build-up action with dance bar girls swaying to Anand's now infamous remix of kaliyo.N kaa chaman

* Dracula: Prince of Darkness: No scares. Just nostalgia. Most notably, Christopher Lee returns as the Count, and does not say a single word in the film. The script boasts some cool ideas to (a) revive Dracula was had been destroyed in the first film (that was done ingeniously as well, using a curtain ripped down to expose the Count to sunlight) (b) kill Dracula once again (using cracked ice and running water). The widescreen format works great, and the goodies on the flip side include a look at Hammer's Dracula canon. The commentary track is loads of fun, but offers no insight. This was made in 1966 and still boasts stronger cohesion and production values than anything that came out of the Ramsay factory so many years later. A pity for us. And one must note that Barbara Shelley's delicious screams were dubbed by co-star Suzan Farmer. And here's a nice little pedantic line from Father Sandor in the film: Not kill. He is already dead. He is undead, Mr Kent. He can be destroyed, but not killed

* Aetbaar: Vikram Bhatt returns. He manages to snag Amitabh Bachchan to play the father of a loving obedient squint-eyed daughter (yes, you guessed it! Played by the untalented ugly hideous medusoid Bipasha Basu -- voice dubbed once again, I am sure). The father is tormented by guilt over the death of his son and must now convince his daughter that the man she loves is a dangerous psychopath (played by John Abraham, whose best moments come when he doesn't have to mouth any of the stupid dialogue written by Bhatt camp regular Girish Dhamija). Having the Big B helps matters, because the whole affair is predictable (story credited to Vikram and Robin Bhatt; screenplay credited to Robin Bhatt and Sanjeev Duggal). And if anyone managed to sit through Inteha, this is a revisitation from a different POV. The good moments are mostly limited to those featuring the Big B, who impresses with his ability to elevate crap to the point of believability. The opening credits employ the motif of a receding road, a motif that makes sense later on in the film. The songs are an expected embarassment, very FF-friendly and nary to do with the goings-on (and the Big B sings again, this time for Rajesh Roshan, thus providing triviamongers another juicy bit of information, given that the Big B made his playback singing début singing mere paas aao for RR in Mr Natwarlal, even garnering a Filmfare singing nomination). And the Footpath/Sadak set reappears. This Bhatt fetish is getting irritating. Cuss references to the backside and the male organ are muted (despite the 'A' certificate). A bar sequence makes sure that Vaishali Samant's aikaa daajiibaa gets filmic representation. The echoes of Cape Fear are surely not unintentional. And the end credits reference Mukesh Mills (I need to visit this famous covenant of Bollywood action climaxes). The not-yet-bored can also note a nice match edit when the Big B calls for a family conference and also the varying film speeds for transitions. Echoes of the Big B's character in Mili are probably coincidence.

* Rudraksh: "The screenplay of Rudraksh is an original work of fiction. Any references to places, persons, books or legends is purely coincidental". That sums up Mani Shankar's follow-up to his skiffy December 16. If you leave your brains and your accidental death by illogical proceedings insurance at the door and have the FF-button handy, you can enjoy the outrageous vacuousness of this sad flick. Bad acting abounds. Isha Koppikar fails miserably with bambaiyaa street slang (she should stick to doing dance special appearances). Bipasha Basu provides laughs and giggles as a researcher from the University of California (the Satara branch, no doubt) who is also an American citizen. Her clique of research assistants include two blondes who speak with accents that mix faux Americanness and Goan inflections. Sanjay Dutt and Sunil Shetty compete for annoying looks, bad acting, and long bad hairdos. The word shaman is abused (indicating that dialogue was an afterthought). Powerbooks get ample on-screen plugs. The Hindi/English_phrase-yaanii ke-English/Hindi_phrase canon gets some interesting additions (electromagnetic field yaanii ke suuksh shariir; prostatic zone yaanii ke muulaadaar jagah; tejas yaanii ke electro-magnetic radiation). The references to crucifixion are probably someone being smart. The DOOM fireball sound is overused. The unimaginative dialogue also sports gems comparing God's divine internet to Einstein's Quantum Domain and the all-star-sartaaj "tumhaare dimaag kaa ##password## kisii aur ko kaise milaa?". At one point, as if we were dying for it, we get 4 Sunil Shettys (note: this is far far worse than 4 Daler Mehndis). The Big B provides the opening introductory narration (and probably used the moolah to get ABCL out of debt). Mani Shankar should get a record book nomination for the longest on-screen credit ever: story, screenplay, dialogue, editing, direction and special effects. Note that these are coincidentally[sic] all the key departments that refuse to function. Kabir Bedi is punished for making a brief appearance in this shameful enterprise by getting bumped off and being forced to reappear later like Brando did in Superman. The end credits begin by telling us that the acting section is listed "in order of appearance". This is followed by a line that reads "Principle[sic] cast". And then, the cast is listed in anything other than order of appearance. On this note, I give you Rude Raakshas.
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