Saturday, January 31, 2004

the long long return of the king

Finally, finally, I managed to overcome my fear of long non_Hindi_movies and trudge up to watch the final edition in the LOTR trilogy. It's also the only one of the three that I have caught on the big screen. Strong recommendations. Does not feel long. The film maintains its fluid tone. There is the benefit of a strong rich literary source serving as the narrative foundation. The film has lots of scary creepy moments balanced by spans of wonderful sets and CG. Annie Lennox's song running over the end credits is perfect (the lyrics even use notions referred to by Gandalf in the movie). Grouses: (1) I agree with Aranyak that the inevitable moment when Frodo and Sam reach the mouth of the fire pit suffers from choppy editing. It just seems rushed. (2) Given that (1) was hurried, the rest of the inevitable emotional moments seem too slow (barring the great moment when everyone genuflects to the Hobbits). That aside, this is great fun. Be prepared to see a chunk of time just go away, though.

Friday, January 30, 2004

music directors as directors [just for you Gaurav]

Given that (a) Maqbool hits theatres (in India at least) tomorrow (and still lacks good PR!) (b) I just knocked out one more BCQC connections entry with the post on directors acting for directors. Another question that rises is about music directors functioning as directors. We could include Satyajit Ray and John Carpenter, who composed the music for their own films (Ray for most, Carpenter for all). While Kishore Kumar and Vishal Bhardwaj are obvious choices, there are several other people who qualify. Here's an exhaustive RMIM thread on the subject.

actors turning directors {aka this should be easier}

Here's another BCQC connection entry (just for you JR). This is clearly a longer list . It's easy to miss out several obvious names. Here's a start: Kishore Kumar, Rahul Bose, Kamal Hassan, Anant Mahadevan, Randhir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Amol Palekar, Shafi Inamdar, Vinod Mehra, Subhash Ghai, Anthony Perkins, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Englund, George Clooney, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Denzel Washington, Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Mel Gibson, Bill Paxton, Danny DeVito, Ed Harris, Jack Nicholson, Matt Dillon, Kevin Spacey, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy.

Maqbool hits the screens ... {while I grind my teeth in Atlanta} [blog thread]

dil namaazii hai ke kaafir Kudaa jaane

ashq me.n aag hai ke paaraa Kudaa jaane

ha.Nsii me.n hai ke fareb Kudaa jaane

jism me.n pyaas hai ke taDap Kudaa jaane

ishq junuu.N hai ke hawas Kudaa jaane

"Maqbool is class" screams a Rediff review. Subhash K Jha sticks up the thumbs in his review. A Mid-day reviewer has more nice things to say. Did you know Naseer was the original choice for Abbaji, and he chose the role of the cop, recommending Pankaj Kapur instead? Hope Vishal's efforts get him the box-office mileage and wider audience he deserves.

Waiting for KM's venom on Monday ...

Meanwhile, Paap the skinfest {see: music review} turned out to be a ripoff (what else would you expect from the butt-brained Bhatts?) of Witness. (Bhatt previously hashed up the car maintenance shed sequence for Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin). Other sources report elements from the old Mahesh Bhatt musical watershed Sadak (which presented audiences with a song-filled melodrama-rich gaudy version of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver).

Thursday, January 29, 2004


ARR's music for M F Hussain's next muse-driven venture (with muse == Tabu) Meenaxi (A Tale of Three Cities) has been receiving buzz in the regular fan circles. The official release ceremony has been postponed to accomodate ARR's pilgrimage. Just managed to catch two of the songs, and I am pleased to say that they rock. ARR is back (for me he's been gone for a long long time). The two tracks: ye rishtaa (is this the same Reena Bharadwaj who features on the Baba soundtrack?); and dhu_aa.N dhu_aa.N from the peppy side of ARR's brain (the only personal downside on this one is the presence of the aging Asha). The orchestrations and arrangements are much more controlled, and there's no danger of getting lost in soundscapes. So far so good. Bring 'em on.
happiness all around: another one bites the blogistan dust

As JR continues to gloat in anticipation, I welcome old BC lawns alumnus, quiz mate, frustrated quizzer, frustrated intellectual, partnerless soloist, anand sivashankar to the blogging world.

And on a related note, fellow blogger Aditya gets published in the TOI. It's an article on outsourcing. Which reminds me of this Wired article that Aranyak pointed me to. The writer takes the story to the other side of the spectrum (India). The only problem: the photographs got tagged with the wrong names -- specifically, the last two photographs have their names switched around. Easy to tell if you're Indian.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

maqbool news {being a collection of news articles about the film}

Pankaj Kapur (who plays Abbaji) talks to Rediff about the film. Tabu has a TOI column that combines a from-the-sets with interesting bits thrown around about the songs and the characters. And then there's a discussion on plot points. The film is also representing India competitively in the Bangkok International Film Festival. And Vishal refuses to let this be classified as an underworld film.

related: The incomplete IMDB entry | reactions to the soundtrack | JR's thoughts at the PIFF screening | talking to sanjeev abhyankar about the soundtrack

Jaws: great summer flick

Jaws is a very good example of how network TV syndication with screen-fitting-reformatting and commercial breakathons can completely ruin a movie for you. I've seen this movie overplayed on numerous TV channels, and when I finally settled down to watch the DVD, I was blown away. Honestly. The scares are ample, the gore variably-toned (the outtakes include a bloody scene which Spielberg knocked out for its ghastliness ... the existing gore makes me question his decision). I hate the epic music that John Williams churns out and there's a lot of that (especially in the moments when the Orca gives chase to "Bruce" -- rankled me!). Yet, the key theme (with odes to Herrmann and Dvorak's 9th) is a product of pure genius. It works wonderfully in the film. And then there's the element of suspense: you actually don't see the shark till very late in the film. The title of the film appearing against a vegetation-rich aqua-bottom is a piece of classic summer flickdom. What else? Great performances (including a cameo from writer Peter Benchley). My favourite section of the film is when Quint describes the crisis of the USS Indianopolis. A genre classic.

The "Making Of" has lots of interesting photographs of a beardless Spielberg (great idea for a trivia bout) as well a rare moment where SS uses the F-word.

And then I wonder: the Spielbergian moments of family make their appearance in this film, although they are not as obtrusive and emotionally drenched as in his later films. That led me to wondering how this film would have been in the hands of Martin Scorsese. Or even Joe Dante.

Sound trivia note: When the bloody remains of the shark sink slowly to the bottom of the sea, you hear a low slow growl in the background. This is the same sound used when the monster truck plummets over the end of a cliff in Spielberg's earlier (and thematically similar) Duel (Spielberg did this to establish a conscious link between the two films). This was a sound bit from a dinosaur growling in the original The Lost World.

directors acting for directors

JR's post on Blogger's Atom-ic splurge nests within its comments references to a private email thread that spun off with a Rediff recap of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. The article gaffed on reporting Vidhu Vinod Chopra's special appearance (wrongly noting it as Dushaasan in the Mahabharat meltdown instead of the photo-journalist at the D'Mello flyover inauguration press conference). Loyal fans that we are, we couldn't miss out on another excuse to watch the film yet again. In a comment on the post Vibhendu asked about other instances of directors acting in each other's films. Here are a few I can think of (the first two came straight out of our e-discussion). Please feel free to send me any connections that you know of. This is a growing list. A big hug to IMDB for storing all the information in one place.

* Vidhu Vinod Chopra (Ankahee) : Amol Palekar (Khamosh)

* Saurabh Shukla (Raghu Romeo) : Rajat Kapoor (Mudda)

* Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry, Escape From Alcatraz, Two Mules For Sister Sara, Coogan's Bluff) : Don Siegel (Play Misty For Me)

* Clint Eastwood (The Dead Pool, Pink Cadillac, Any Which Way You Can) : Buddy Van Horn (High Plains Drifter, Absolute Power, Pale Rider) {Basically, Eastwood starred in every film that Van Horn every made!}

* Steven Spielberg (Vanilla Sky) : Cameron Crowe (Minority Report)

* Sam Raimi (Innocent Blood) : John Landis (Darkman)

* Roger Corman (The Godfather Part II) : Francis Ford Coppola (The Young Racers)

* Robert Redford (The Natural) : Barry Levinson (Quiz Show)

* Spike Jonze (The Game) : David Fincher (Being John Malkovich)

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

the paradox of newsworthy death

The TOI has an opinion column spinning off the unfortunate death of the PM's grand nephew. On Republic Day (Monday), this 21-year-old college student was thrown out of a running train because he tried to stop some men from harassing women on a train. The article urges us to ignore the fact that he was related to the PM, and presents this as the dilemma of safety for the common man. Yet, I see a set of related articles indicating more official action than might have occurred had the college student been a real nobody (aka aam janataa kaa ek sadasya unrelated to any bigwig). Perhaps his degree of separation will help avert such tragedies in future. Which would mean that important people (or people related to them) must be involved in cases of injustice for something to get done. How unjust.
novarg raises a smile

Caught the /. post about the new virus called Novarg. Being locked in by Outlook (yes, I need to change my outlook) and MS Exchange, I even got a sample from the AJUG mailing list. Nothing happened though (did I also mention that the mandatory Norton Antivirus installation had failed on my machine and thus I'm technically unguarded blah blah blah?). But getting back to the key issue: the responses to the post made my day (complete with MSFT jokes, SCO digs, Linux asides, and patch one-liners).

Monday, January 26, 2004

hero: how swift thy sword!

Zhang Yimou's 2002 fantasy flick Hero was nominated in the Foreign Film Section of the 2002 Oscars (awarded in 2003). The film is yet to come to the US of A via the regular distribution channels (aka hack-attack Miramax). Deriving from Chinese history (specifically the Warring States period) and employing CG from a series of dazzling visuals and martial stunts, this entertaining flick tells the tale of love, honour, duty and revenge with Rashomon-esque flashbacks (complete with colour scheme coding, something that Kurosawa's classic did not rely on). Lots of familiar faces here including Jet Li, Tony Leung (see also: Infernal Affairs, In the Mood For Love), Maggie Cheung (see also: In the Mood For Love), Zhang Ziyi (see also: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon). I had a good time watching this flick. Not sure if this was a "made-for-America" flick (as a friend puts it) just like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was, but it was a great visual and aural experience. The sound of the rain droplets during the fight between Nameless (echoes of Eastwood) and Sky is my favourite aural moment. Visually, there are too many to choose from.

Related: When Miramax issued a cease and desist order to a reviewer for linking to a movie purchasing site for this flick ... [more]

hindustani classical music as an appetizer

Had the chance to see the Schwartz Centre at Emory last Saturday. Specifically the Emerson Concert Hall, which is a joy to be in. The back of the stage is comprised of a set of steps and the artistes were generously and precisely lit from ceiling lights. Good acoustics. The evening belonged to Kakoli Bandhopadhyay accompanied by Prasunpani Bhattacharya on tabalaa. The programme opened up with an exploration of puryaa dhaanashrii. This was to be followed by one of chaarukeshii. However, a minor change gave us kalaavatii instead. Then came the intermission by which time several things came to light: (a) the tabalaa was badly miked: all we heard was the daggaa and that gave the accompaniment the general air of superficial talcum powder (b) each rendition was too brief to merit a rewarding experience. The 2 hour format fit the ASO recitals, but after all my recent ICMS attendances, I could see its inability to address indian classical music. This perfunctory packaging was a minor betrayal. The turnout was quite large and seemed to comprise mostly of members of the regular Schwartz series, who were curious about Indian music. Clearly, their interests were better served than ours. That minor quibble aside, more rewards came from the second half of the performance: first from a rendition in baageshrii followed by a raagamaala centred around mishra piiluu (after making piiluu mishraa, you can't really get more generic can you?). The tabalaa problem persisted and another interesting thing came to light: a decorative deceptive version of the vilambit phase. This phase is usually dominated by melodic exploration (unless it's an instrumental jugalbandii in which case both percussionist and instrumentalist exploit the opportunity to shine) and the accompanist has the responsibility of maintaining order. What we got was beat patterns interpolated within the regular counts of the taal, leaving the sitar as the only indication that we weren't in dhrut yet. These strange reactions aside, it was a good opening for the year. The ICMS concerts are a couple of months away, so I'll grab what I can get in the mean time.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

plan: zero boost, bad complan {see also: music review}

White Feather Films (the gang of idiots who brought us Kaante) decided to give us yet another dose of brain-dead misogynistic testosterone-heavy flash-bang film footage. The last time around things clicked (despite the generally plagiarised and pedestrian nature of the proceedings) thanks to a great soundtrack and a decent cast (although the women got short shrift that time around as well). This time is a motley crew of mixed proportions. The acting honours are shared by Sanjay Suri and (wish I knew his name) the guy playing Jaggi (also seen in Satya -- kaun bhiikuu? -- and Chhal). And what reward does Suri get for his dedication? A bad wardrobe. What can I say about the rest of the dudes? Dino Morea is a patsy. In bad garb. I'm sure he's gay. Or at least effeminate. And he's better off selling peanuts in Narayan Peth. The only thing good that I could say about him is that he's dedicated in the running chase sequences (see also: Gunaah). And then there's the model/hunk Bikram Saluja (see also: Fiza). Junk I say, junk. Rohit Roy (not to be confused with Ronit Roy from Jaan Tere Naam, Bomb Blast: thanks for the tip D) does well merely in following dance steps. The rest of it (namely the trivial things like dialogue delivery, rendering emotions, offering on-screen chemistry) are given no shrift (perhaps a legacy from TV soaps?). And Mahesh Manjrekar does grave injustice to his front-bench-pleasing turn in Kaante by slamming ham sandwich after ham sandwich at you in his loudest role ever(?) as Sultan.

In the ba.ndii department, Gupta and Co. score aces. They give the woman roles no importance whatsoever. Everyone gets a starring credit although what Rima Sen and Payal Rohatgi (ugh! see also: Patth) and Sameera Reddy (what oh what does she plan to do with her career after such terrible dresses??) end up doing is commonly referred to as a CAMEO (aka Friendly or Special Appearance, depending on kitanaa paisaa khaayaa!). The only dame who gets more screen time is Priyanka Chopra. Now PC is soley in this business for her assets (see also: Andaaz). In this film, she looks like a shrivelled piece of teakwood, and that leaves her stranded in the "what can I offer" department. So she decides to make up for it by competing with the guys for the ham countdown. With her sad outfits, she almost makes it.

The premise (for source information try Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) just in case you were wondering: 4 guys on their way to Bombay for different reasons meet in a train and become friends. A turn of events results in them owing a gambler 7 peTiis. Payback time: a week. In desperation, they execute a plan (yeah, that's the title of the film): kidnapping for ransom. Except the victim of the effort turns out to be Moosa, an Armani-Gucci-Rolex clad don. Guess how long it takes for them to get to this point? The entire first half. And the second half changes plan midway and presents a splendid example of "rukaawaT ke liye khed hai ... please bear with us". All you can do is groan and kiss the carpet (aka ostrich tactics). Nothing can help you here, not the dialogue, not the songs. If you remember the Sanjay Dutt/underworld phone conversations, there are echoes in this film as well. And Suri deserves a special award for giving elephant poop like this his best shot. He deserves better. This derailed bogie in the other hand deserves the null bin.

As penance for having initially melded the Roys (Rohit/Ronit), I offer an interview with Rohit "Plan" Roy that touches on his previous achievements[sic].

Friday, January 23, 2004

Kill Bill V2

Just caught the teaser trailer on Yahoo! Movies. Noirish black-and-white dominates. Echoes of a zillion venomous oldies (including references to KB Vol I's movie trailers). Kekule's post-modern loop is complete. Pity I have to wait till April.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

PAAP: the aural sin?

Since I caught the soundtrack off Raaga, I have no idea how accurate the credits on the CDs and tapes are. Given that Chor Malik was responsible for only 2 tracks out of 16 (mathematically, puTTan that makes him responsible for 12.5% of the album), I'd be really outraged to see him credited solely on the album (in fact, as it turns out, he is, which makes me one very outraged individual). In fact, after hearing Anuradha Paudwal do[sic] i.ntazaar, I can only think of the stake for him. Couldn't he find a better singer? And the melody sounds like his older stuff (not surprising, since Malik is the most auto-exploitative music director[sic] in the Hindi film music scene). AP's voice was a big boulder to surmount as I tried to appreciate the lyrics. Somehow, I thought there was the chance for a better tune. The opening and interludes (even that male tillaanaa/taraanaa) are a saving grace, but then AP baa_ii ends up sounding like all those SVCDs she was responsible for. The second Malik contribution sun ae mere dil opens with electro-Buddhist(?) chants (Asoka was it?). AP gets marginally better on this one. The melody has the same Malik-atavism as the first song. The unbearable Udit Narayan (get some diction lessons dude, and stop sounding constipated) joins in. As the track goes downhill from this point on (who's the male voice providing the redeeming alaap in the first interlude?), I admit that I decided to play around with the order and get done with the Malik songs first. Damnation: some trite melodies. The arrangements are the saving factor in either case, and Malik should consider this a good time (if he has any touch with reality) to blow himself up (presumably by listening to his greatest hits). And why is this song so damn long?

Now to the goodies. The rest of the album owes composer credit to Music Mushrooms (Shahzad Hassan of Vital Signs and his partner Faisal Rafi) -- at least the background pieces (12 in all) do. Interesting trend I must say: adding fragments of background music on mainstream film song releases (not that it hasn't been done before: it's just that a lot more mainstream song-hungry banners seem to be swinging towards this). NFAK's nephew Rahat FAK steps up to make man kii lagan listenable. The muKa.Daa has a very familiar melody, but RFAK makes sure the rest of the song has more to offer. While clearly not as emotionally involved and frenetic as NFAK, RFAK sounds a lot like him (albeit a younger version). Next up, Ali Azmat of Junoon steps up with their recognizable rock-backed sound on garaj baras. Somehow the rock drive doesn't work for the lyrics (the rocksy angst sharply offsets the romantic lyrics). It could work as a ballad, perhaps, but barely. The rock elements aren't strong enough, and there's very little in the orchestration to swing the song to another genre. And the melody isn't too surprising either. Perhaps the biggest problem is that Ali's voice got me thinking of Remo at several points in the song. Pity. Perhaps repeated listenings will help me on this. Laal is all about alaaps and a taraaana. Good vocal inflections from RFAK and daddy Farrukh FAK. This will probably be my pick on the album. The rhythm track finally asserts itself even more while the arrangements take care of the rise and fall. Those reverse guitar strums and chords were really cool. A strong lounge entry. The jhuule laal invocations got me thinking of the late NFAK: a good sign. This track is the epitome of the prevalent Sufi mood of the album (wonder if this sentiment will be reflected on screen -- Call me a Bhatt-hater, but I wouldn't bet on it). Great ending too.

Time for the instrumentals. Witness to a murder starts off sparse and moody before building up to a percussive crescendo (wanna workout anyone?) and meandering about in the moods of suspense, uncertainty, and a general feeling of suspension. This extract would have worked as Quake music. The monster sounds continue with Shiven gets shot. More Quake map fodder. Aaj kii raat kaT ga_ii to gets more ambitious on the synths. The i.ntezaar interlude is a little too brief, but apanaa saa kuchh denaa opens with an ivory motif that knocks of the opening fragment from Rota's Speak Softly Love before attempting similar-sized variations on the same. The synth vibe tones continue to drench the background, perpetuating the sense of Lynchian suspension. apanii chaahato.n pe kaabuu gets a regular beat (albeit the standard lounge/funk drive) and a female vocal alaaping with occasional sound slides from synth tones and a guitar, before the voice of Dr Mohan Agashe breaks into your ears. Great stuff for a preview. Next up, a plaintive cry drenched in now-familiar electronica hameshaa ke liye kuchh nahii.n. Long-drawn synth chords set to string tones open up tumhaarii jagah uu.Nche aasmaa.N: aurally it seems to work against (a) death (b) a montage of shocked reactions (c) an extended moment in time (d) a Spielberg movie (is that where this came from? a John Williams score?). tasaviir khii.nchaa to is an awesome bit of energetic percussion. Zi.ndaa pal continues the Hollywood vibe: opening with a strong lower-register drone with piano and flute overlays, it gradually picks up a throbbing beat underscoring a sequence played out on synth strings, before a repeated ivory riff against a lighter percussion arrangement. This soon morphs into a mix of the two fragments. Another strong candidate for the favourites list. Kis kis ko maaroge is another brooding Quake piece with an opening that reminded me, just for an instant, of stuff on Black Angels. And it's also the longest of the instrumentals. A satisfying end.

All in all, barring the mundane Malik creations, this is a good soundtrack album. What remains to be seen now is how much the movie will suck (an unfair view, I agree, but this is Bhatt territory: quality would be a complete surprise).

There, JR, you got what you asked for:)

happy chinese new year 2004 (4701 actually) : year of the monkey

Google celebrates Chinese New Year 2004

Everybody's got something to hide except ... {more on the 12 animals}
chameli: victory to the ghaaTs [related: music review]

This is the last(?) in the legacy of projects left to the burgeoning crossover mainstream section of Bollywood by the late Anant Balani (see also: Joggers' Park, Mumbai Matinee, 1 Din 24 Ghante). Sudhir Mishra took on the project after Balani's untimely demise, and gets a chance to revisit Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin territory, minus a lot of the chaff that riddled that effort: bad acting, good songs hopelessly staggering the pace of the film, overdramatic moments, minimal realism. Mishra continues the sheeny trend of Balani's flicks and with a strong technical department, he gives us an engaging narrative covering the events of one night as an investment consultant meets a hooker. I had very strong reactions to the choice of Kareena Kapoor in the lead role (and her starry comments in the wake of the film didn't help matters much either). To her credit, she tries hard. Her horrifying looks augment the tawdry aspects of the character. Where she fails is in getting decent complex expressions on her face: most of her contortions are Ramsay nominees. Bose strikes gold (again!), followed closely by the reliable and more-commonly-seen-nowadays Yashpal Sharma, and Pankaj Jha. The flash dissolves do get a bit irritating, but the narrative (except for the rain song, which although aurally appealing, seems to add a speed bumper in the flow, and in itself, does not convey enough release, despite all the guest populace appearing to join Chameli). My favourite moment (of several) comes close to the end when K P Singh (Sharma) drops a mention of the "Kurla case" to the corrupt corporator Naik over the cellphone. As Singh goes into the details of his knowledge, thunder strikes dominate the soundtrack, leaving it all to our imagination. Excellent. And the film ends well too (so no SSH problems). Minor quibble: Rinke Khanna's character is named Neha (verified by the end credits and references in the movie), yet one scene has Rahul Bose's dialogue track refer to her as Sudha!

Our censor board is full of morons. Proof: all the bleeps on the dialogue track where (a) Chameli refers to her age when she was brought into prostitution {if you watch carefully, you can read her lips!} (b) when Chameli refers to the relationship between Haseena (Balani camp favourite Kabir Sadanand) and Raja (if you've seen everything you already know what's going on, so why bleep the frigging dialogue??) (c) a couple of obscenities. I was watching a VHS taped off a DVD with the subtitles turned on and all I had to do was read them. Great going censor board!

And now for the byline in the post title. I'm sure no one on our censor board knows Marathi. Why else would the Marathi obscenities stay on the dialogue track unbleeped? Sent me rolling on the carpet to hear them. Clearly, to paraphrase the inspector, censorchyaa du.NgaNaath mirchyaa.

trivia note: Fans of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (and other films made by that talented clique of people fragmented by mainstream nightmares) will note the brief appearance by Deepak Kazir (credited thus; alternate spelling = Qazir) as Raja's father (as Commissioner Shrivastava is JDBY he got to deliver the infamous gutter speech).

elsewhere: Gaurav's review

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

scattered thoughts

Wish there were a 1-click way to destroy all cellphones. Wish there was a selective mute button in public places. Wish the TOI would move to a good portal solution instead of a half-baked slow Windows-heavy junkyard that spews out content like "The revision level is unknown.". Wish good films would actually make money. Wish moneymaking films were actually good. Wish there was a point to voting. Wish politics actually meant something good. Wish music did not have such a broad implication. Wish intelligent people had money. Wish rich people were intelligent. Wish expensive commercial software would work better than free software. Wish the obvious advantages of free software with bugs over expensive commercial bloatware with bugs would be clear. Wish marketing departments would focus on making more deliveries than promises. Wish software solution choices were made by people who would actually use them. Wish pay were always commensurate with effort and ability. Wish outsourcing were studied as a purely economic solution and not an excuse for territorial and ethnic mudslinging. Wish the true cultural populace of Pune could exterminate the vermin who pass off as culture police. Wish that the issue of Kashmir were not NP-complete. Wish I'd stop thinking of stuff like this.

And all the anti-outsourcing fever boils up to TORAW ( The Organization for the Rights of American Workers). The agenda is clear: We do not discriminate against any ethnic group or their country of origin. We are not against legal immigrants working here in the U.S. pending their citizenship. We want to guarantee that our U.S. citizens and permanent green card status immigrants are gainfully employed before non-immigrant foreign workers are imported to fill positions ... Our issue is with OUR laws, OUR treaties and OUR international trade agreements which fail to protect the American worker. Fair, yet grim.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004


the state of mu[sic] and lyrical creativity today. a low ebb I'd say. joined a gang of friends taking turns rolling on the floor laughing our respective gleteuses and gutts out listening to this song called Milkshake by Kellis. The lyrics {PDF} boast of genius and dexterity at elevating the mundane to unprecedented levels of analytical excellence: my milkshake brings all the boys from the yard, and their like..."it's better than yours"; "damn right! it's better than yours, i can teach you but i have to charge. Incidentally, just in case you were wondering, I was JOKING. The song is probably one of the most pathetically pedestrian and gauche metaphors for the #1 content of most music today (a little of the in-out in-out as Alex would've said).

In related horror news, Shashi sends me a pointer to For other "flashy" sites check out the Navketan portal (this and the other designed by the slow PowerNet Technologies. And while you're still screaming, hit Bappida's portal as well.

Monday, January 19, 2004

issues with MUDDA

Sonu Nigam's kuttaa kaaTe merits cultification with its mix of 50s beats, pedestrian lyrics, ripping off Jingle Bells for its a.ntaraas and general silliness (besides, it's a Sonu Nigam song).

On to the real mudda:) Saurabh Shukla makes his directorial début without losing out on his skills at generating sharp dialogue and strong moments. Frankly, I was surprised that Shukla chose Arya Babbar. After all, the dude can't really act. But by the time the film came to a close, I saw some merit in Shukla's choice. AB's ineptness at acting and general lack of training in that department seemed to add a little extra to the role he was playing. Rekha Vedvyasa with her pained facial contortions and general dimple-laden smiles makes her d´but. The love angle, despite adding interesting tones to the film, does slow the pace. The songs especially invite the FF button (despite the cult status of the SN song and the generally peaceful strains of Kvaabo.n kii). College politics with interesting (not surprising) twists and lots of dialect spouted by a gang of talent (including the dependable Aditya Shrivastava and Dolly Ahluwahlia). And there's Rajat Kapoor who does his best with what seems like a half-baked part. Prashant Narayanan does good again (see also: Chhal, WBHHP2). And Shukla and Vijay Raj (aka Raz, credited twice!) have cameo turns as well. What lets the film down are things like the background score, the editing, the use of repeated shots and slow motion and soft lighting. Upping the frame rate for the fights works most of the time. But a darker tone would have lent this tale a little more bite -- the way it plays now is like the episode of a television series on DD. Pity. But all isn't lost for Shukla. There is merit in the proceedings and hope for the future. But first, a better technical team.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

GUNAAH: criminal groundhog day

In the 80s, Mahesh Bhatt threw in the towel. Despite having shown promise with sensitive human cinema (although he took this as an excuse to exorcise his own demons and repaint his past several times), Bhatt claimed to have become increasingly frustrated with the whole enterprise and went commercial. Having tasted success, Bhatt suddenly assumed the role of a hack filmmaker. A cheaper version of the assembly-line filmmaker, he churned out plots with repetitive motifs, laden with mainstream masala, and somewhere in them were buried useful ideas that could have seen fruition had their creator not lost the spark of enthusiasm to make a quality product. He was rumoured to direct films remotely (yeah like RPC!) over his cellphone. And Vishesh Entertainment became the den of a new kind of cinema that echoed the factory of Roger Corman. The same sets, the same people, non-actors (also known as stars), similar plots, similar situations, and no pretence to greatness (well, not always). Somewhere in that morass was a 1994 film starring Sunny Deol and Dimple Kapadia called Gunaah. As was the case with most of Bhatt's original scripts, this one was a ripoff as well (of The Bourne Identity no less). The only thing people might remember was an onscreen kiss.

Years later, Bhatt pens another script with the same title. A non-entity from his camp called Amol Shetge directs[sic]. There are elements that echo Out of Sight, but barely. The film is really an exercise in nonsense. There is a lot of 80s baggage: the traditional flashback sequence that (a) links several characters we have already been introduced to (b) features unmentionable acts of violence and defilement and ends up in the death of a minor character that fuels the passion of vendetta in a lead player. There are some barely interesting characters: parts of Ashutosh Rana's uncle (with his makeup, he could be a dead ringer for a kaakaa in a Marathi social), the vigilante society, and especially its leader Parshuram (symbolism alert!) played by Yashpal Sharma. There are some subtle(?) nominal associations too: Bipasha's character is called Prabha; Dino's character is called Aditya; and there's even a Bhor Industries. Irrfan deliciously chews the scenery in his role as the evil Digvijay Pande (and barring some drastically expressionistic leering, he's the only merit of the film). Bhatt's rabbit foot Avtar Gill is also on the roster (a corpse whose talking lines appear only in flashback). The film is a drag and the songs don't help (the Sabri Bros excel in the qawwaalii ruuThakar ham, composed by Sajid-Wajid, but I had to hit FF).

A special note must be made about the lead performances. Dino Morea gets brownie points only because he says nothing for most of the film and looks sufficiently innocent to fit the part. Bipasha Basu on the other hand is a horror. The word you hear most in the dialogue is ra.NDii and BB does everything she can to play a cheap tart of that kind. The continuity department probably had a headache with the way she switches the gun from her left hand to her right hand and back. And there's so much bad acting on display that you wonder if all the praise showered on her (probably because of her dusky looks and figure) came from a coterie of lascivious blind men. After the laughter dies down, the dominant emotion is one of violence: the desire to wring her neck for subjecting you to such torture reaches feverish peak. Beautiful you say? What's with the damn squint in her left eye?? Acting? Paah. Dead people could trounce her for an acting trophy. Star appeal: J Lo, despite my hatred for the media-hyped image she has cultivated to ensure full coffers, did better as Karen Sisko. So what's left? The question of how she continues to get more roles and praise for her acting[sic]. Ye gads.

Dubbing note: As seems to be the case with most of the Bhatt house productions: Basu and Morea (although he claims to have done his own this time around, as against VB in Raaz) had dubbed voices. Morea received the generous favours of Vikram Bhatt (who did this in several films including Aftab's voice in Kasoor). Basu has been enjoying these vocal favours for a while now. If reports are to be believed, she had an army of voices in Raaz.

fiza: fizzles of a film critic

A Tehzeeb note first. My last reaction post hinted at the uncredited Bergman lift. After having finally caught the tail end of the film, I must correct myself. The end credits (running up against the upbeat habiibii that inundated the background track -- how appropriate given that one of the key characters just passed away!) start off with a "This one's for you. the inspiration. Ingmar Bergman". I can hear IB turning in his Swedish grave. Morbid.

Seemed appropriate to catch KM's first directorial venture after having watched his second tank of bird droppings. KM managed to use his film biz contacts to put together a strong technical team but decided to adapt a promising story himself into a screenplay[sic] and even decided to direct[sic] himself. This film (as does Tehzeeb) thanks several people for always being there (whatever that means): the three common names are M F Hussain, Karan Johar (which would explain why KM sucked KJ's directorial rear-end on his mega-gaga review of K3G), and Gautam Rajadhyaksha (whose photographs have done for stars what Astrid Kirchher's did for the Beatles). Given KM's awareness of art cinema, I can't imagine why he'd want to thrust a story of terrorism and politics into the mainstream, a genre he clearly is better positioned to write entertaining kiddy rants about than be an exponent in. He gets Sushmita Sen to cameo for a seductive dance in Rajasthan and succeeds only in underscoring the irony of mainstream Bollywood cinema (where poor villagers in love can benefit from a song sequence in Switzerland). Every song (except perhaps, by a whisker, ARR's excellent piyaa haajii alii (aside: as the singers go shaah\-e\-sama.ndar the camera presents us an image of ocean waves hitting rocks -- how clichéd can you get!) and Anu Malik's naa leke jaao, the irony of whose picturisation is probably lost on people itching to get themselves far from this piece of filmic drivel) adds testimony to the importance of the FF button. And then there's the beautiful but saddled-with-crap-and-hence-difficult-to-assess-an-actress Neha (formerly Shabana Reza).

The film opens with a dissolve montage highlighting HR's skills at facial contortions (something Subhash Ghai explored in more brevity and better taste in the otherwise dismally and unmemorable Yaadein [sic]). Karishma Kapoor provides the voiceover and there's Ranjit Barot passing off (surprisingly) a loud intrusive unsubtle faux Hollywood wail as a background score. We then see the family at the heart of this story against a house whose walls smacked as artificial and seemed more like elaborate paintings like those I had to work out for those drawing exams in high school). The first of several motifs appears at this point: the RK clas[sic] Bobby. I used to admire Jaya Bachchan as an actress, until I saw her puffy-faced and pouting with constipated grief in K3G. Now I see where all that came from. Barring a scarce minute-long restrained piece of subtle performance towards the end of the film, she serves only as an advertising vehicle for some of the most horrifying and amusing facial expressions of constipation, overeating and general malaise. We move on to the star of the film, Karishma Kapoor. Why she spends most of her time staring at some invisible point off-screen (perhaps the director and unfortunate dialogue writer for putting her in one embarassing position too many) is beyond me. As for her acting, I'd give her points only for trying (except when she breaks down after her mother's death). The film, despite its content providing ample fodder for a sensitive film on the lines of Piravi, clearly aims for the melodramatic excess of mainstream Bollywood cinema[sic], and with KM not attempting any move to the contrary, the stars must only comply. The dialogue is unnecessary -- the silent moments work the best. Manoj Bajpai trumps in a small role. Asha Sachdev joins Navneet Nishan as one of the most irritating large female presences ever chosen to provide a mindless comic track to a film that could have done without it. Hrithik Roshan wasn't so big a star when he was signed on for this film. To his credit, the songs and dances and excess weepy tracks notwithstanding, he shows promise (my favourite moment -- aside from the brief conversations with his sister and former love -- is when he breaks down in an abandoned engine after his mother discovers his true identity). Clearly, starry baggage aside, and if he is willing to pick up the gauntlet of potentially ruining his star image, Hrithik Roshan should attack a more meaty and complex role and work with a director who knows his stuff (instead of strutting around like an overfed chicken pretending to know what he is up to). So much promise wasted. That the second half is more promising than the first (something unheard of in an SSH-affected Bollywood) is enough indication that the daal is more than blackened.

The whole film feels like a bad 80s movie. The hackground score (except for the little motif that first surfaces at a wedding celebration introducing the fickle political leader of a leading Muslim party) contributes a lot to this. And what must I say about non-actors like Bikram Saluja (who gets to make his "début" here). Or the wasted presence of Sanjay Narvekar. I can't go on. I can't understand how KM manages to get funded to make more pieces of stinking cowdung like this. If he were some brain-dead $$$-laden producer out to make a quick buck in the front-bench market, I wouldn't mind so much. But this is a person, who with his often entertaining vitriolic takes on mainstream cinema, offered promise if he chose to be a director. Clearly, he was an unfed wolf in emaciated sheep's clothing.

Friday, January 16, 2004

o pune my pune

The Pune air continues to achieve new shocking levels of excellence[sic]. Gone are the days when people would point to Bombay being more polluted ...

The Shivajingoism continues ... The state has banned James Laine's book. This book was the cause of the senseless literary massacre at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute by the little-known Sambhaji Brigade, the members of which were aggrieved because the institute had allegedly assisted Laine's work on his "controversial" biography of Shivaji. The irony of this cultural rape occurring in a city rich in culture does not go unnoticed. And I'm quite sure that, as was the case with the violence and bans surrounding Deepa Mehta's Fire and mii nathuuraam goDase bolatoy and tumhaarii amritaa, the people with objections to the work in question have probably not even read/seen the contents! And despite the diluting effect of distance, I am shocked. I can see what friends of mine mean when:

(a) they recall memories of being force-fed a bowdlerized version of Shivaji's life story under the garb of History[sic]

(b) they rant about the "freaking" ghaaTis (because of the strong territorial tendencies predicated on the local vernacular of Marathi)

I somehow escaped the issues in (b) to some extent probably because I managed a good grasp of the language. While I see its utility and importance in the city's culture, I can understand what some friends must have gone through (A similar territorial clustering occurs in other linguistic communities too -- Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati).

Thursday, January 15, 2004

pinjar: skeletal in complexity {see also: music review}

Chandraprakash Dwivedi comes to mainstream Bollywood cinema with strong credentials having brought us Chanakya. And he selects Amrita Pritam's novel which takes us through the the years before, during and after the partition of India. Urmila Matondkar plays Puuro, our protagonist as it were: thanks to the smouldering rage of a long-standing feud between a Hindu family and a Muslim family, she is abducted by Rashid, played by Manoj Bajpai, shortly before her marriage to Ramchandra (very very noticeable symbolism there!), played by Sanjay Suri. What follows is a fairly engaging narrative hampered only by the perfunctory handling of the interesting religious ambiguities and complexities and a refusal to treat the Hindu-Muslim divide with anything more courageous than kid gloves. After the credits (which already hint at the epic hopes of the film) and an opening voiceover by Gulzar (a big plus!), the film succumbs to the classic Bollywood pattern of too much happiness and song-and-dance. Admittedly, there is a point to all this. After all we have a wedding, nay two weddings, on our hands. But the Chopra-Johar-Barjatya-Bhansali consortium and their worthy[sic] filmmaking ancestors have inundated my senses with enough oye-bhangra that I had no choice but to hit the FF button for maar u.Daarii, and shaavaa nii shaavaa. Charakhaa chalaatii maa.N didn't work for me either. And despite his claims at having used a large orchestra (see also: Dil To Pagal Hai), Uttam Singh's background score opens up as a Hollywood-epic-wannabe flood of banshee orchestration that adds to the mess of the first half an hour or so (not counting the lengths of those songs!). My favourites didn't all suffer though. Dardaa maaryaa worked for the most part, except for some lip synch issues for the cameos by Kiran Kumar and Sunil Singh (remember Maachis?) (Incidentally, I thought I saw Kiran Kumar again near the end during the Lahore sequence as "Kartar Singh" ...). Watanaa we was ruined the moment Suri began singing on-screen. Haath chuuTe worked for the most part, although its reuse during the Lahore sequence was unwanted and clichéd. The good thing about Uttam Singh's background score is that it manages to stabilise into minimalism for the mid-section before asserting its bombast. Pity. Thankfully, waaris shaah nuu, running over the end credits, scores on-screen as well (although I suspect there was no one in the cinema hall at this point).

Despite all these rants though, there's hope. The film, although long, is quite watchable, although it probably had more potential as a TV miniseries. Urmila deserves credit for making all her non-mainstream and mainstream-roles-with-more-meat-than-cleavage moves. There was an unfortunately painful portion of the film where her ghaaT roots showed and I thought I was watching her play Asha Bhosle (shudder!) in a biopic. And although she manages to carry the film through, it still seemed to belong to Bajpai, in the smaller role as Rashid. This is an actor (is anyone even watching or listening??) who deserves more recognition and more complex roles. I wish RGV would get him back in the fold and give him a chance to let loose (although I don't mind RGV's attempts at getting stars to act!).

On that note, one must note the rather thankless role that Seema Biswas is seen in (its narrative importance notwithstanding). Priyanshu Chatterjee needs more work to emote. Sandali Sinha and Ishaa Koppikar add little to the film, and add some painful moments (The words I can't dance come to mind!). Pratima Kazmi does her best with the short role (but went to conquer more in WBHHP2). That said, the film was also a good way for me to improve my Hindi vocabulary. Something none of the mainstream movies these days can boast of (as if they'd care to).

Wednesday, January 14, 2004


The song tum jo mile from Mil Gayee Manzil Mujhe. A great Pancham melody. Kishore in good form. Enter Asha. About 49 seconds into the song she goes merii ma.nziil betraying her Marathi roots once again (see also the horrendous taubaa aashiiq from tere jaisaa paagal premii in Rama O Rama). Grief.
current aural feeds and news bitties

Maqbool: The extended version jhin min jhini has an introduction that is Pancham_to_die_for.

Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II: wonder if the CD is the first of its kind in Hindi film music soundtracks to use cartoon representations of the lead players on its cover and sleeves? The CD itself has an Escher-esque layout of Arshad Warsi alighting some stairs. Alert viewers will note that the sketch versions of Warsi and Narayanan swap places in the hospital on the inside of the sleeve.

A Night at the Opera : Perhaps in the spirit of the Marx Brothers (whose classic gives this album its title) Queen let loose a theatrical, campy, quirky, outrageous, and self-mocking union of music hall and hard rock: multilayered guitars and vocals embellish heavy metal, pop, British camp and mystical lyrics to guarantee the aural time of your life. Bohemian Rhapsody deserves all the praise showered on it, but it unfairly puts the rest of this fabulous album in the background. The Prophet's Song seems all set to trounce this hit for me.

Stone Rock Blues, a compilation of the blues and rock n' roll originals covered by the Rolling Stones. Lots of Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters (the last track is what gave the band of dinosaurs its name).

Ten was Pearl Jam's first release and packs enough power for years. Chock-full of rock concert favourites this is a great album of shifting moods, anger and musical bang.

The very best of Otis Redding Volume I, featuring the trump cover of The Stones' (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. Redding's version is mercifully shorter than the languorous original. And then there's the classic (Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay.

Greatest Hits, Vol. 1: 1964-1966 is a wonderful introduction to the powerhorse tough blues and psychedelic ventures of the only rock band to boast having Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page in their fold ...

Nothing Like the Sun has the wonderful Englishman in New York, along with Sting's cover of Hendrix's Little Wing (which Blackmore appropriated for the Rainbow classic Catch the Rainbow).

Meanwhile, after obsessing over La Dixit (Gaja Gamini) and Tabu (Meenaxi), M F Hussain targets Urmila Matondkar for his next venture. Says she has funny body language. David Lynch he ain't, but I'm interested in the final product nevertheless...

And in more depressing news, the release of Kill Bill Vol II has been pushed back from February 20th to April 16th ... NO!!!

Monday, January 12, 2004

MAQBOOL: a musical triumph

Large pillow bags of doritos to Aranyak for grabbing me a hot copy of the soundtrack CD of Maqbool in India. Still haven't seen the blessed thing in the local Indian stores in ATL. Ripped off the wrapping and chugged straight to track 06: ruukhe nainaa by Sanjeev Abhyankar and I must agree with him on the song being award-worthy. This track is one among several wondrous achievements -- this must mark the fruition (hopefully a precursor to several in the future) of the great collaboration between Vishal and Gulzar that began with a song about jungles and underwear-clad tigers. Vishal has been making quiet strides by wearing different hats (music director, lyricist, scriptwriter, director) with great ease. And post-RD, I seem to enjoy Gulzar's work with him more than any other film music composer. The ethereal quality that Vishal constantly affords Gulzar's multi-textured lyrics is in evidence on this album as well. More detailed reactions will wait. Additional goodies: lyrics in Devanagari, a photo-and-colour-rich CD sleeve, and a bonus track from Ishqa Ishqa providing further evidence of a great vocal talent that is Rekha (Vishal's significant other).

Sunday, January 11, 2004

trends in bollywood

Sunil Gautam complains about the continued success of hackneyed plots drenched in emotional mush and backed by a storyline that is a poor excuse for a spine. But does anyone really care?
munna bhai mbbs: migraine induced by a desi cuckoo

Sanjay Dutt, Sunil Dutt and the makers of this mush-laden predictafest should be drawn and quartered. Other culprits include the lass with limited expression Gracy Singh, and anyone who thought that Sanjay Dutt was (a) a good actor (b) could pass off as a taporii. Arshad Warsi once again triumphs (see Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II) as does Boman Irani (Darna Mana Hai). The script is loaded with sequences of potential merit. These are destroyed by the generous dollops of sentimental tripe so predictable you can hit FF early enough without fear of losing out on anything significant. The songs (except perhaps for subah ho gayii maamuu) suck. And the echoes of One Flew Over a Cuckoo's Nest are something we couldn't shake off. And Jimmy Shergill reappears in another pointless role well suited for his limited repertoire. Pity. The pedestrian slang just indicates how much potential this film had. The original casting choices were Shah Rukh Khan and the Big B. Not sure how that would have worked out (don't have too much faith in SRK's taporii skills either!). In any case, this film will probably reap the makers enough $$$ to be pleased with themselves. Quality there ain't. Mindless entertainment[sic] triumphs once again. Yay for maamuu (although local lingo ontologies conflict severely in a risqué manner). Boo for jaaduu kii jhappii. These guys deserve a jhaapa.D.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

the incomplete glimpses (being thoughts on movies where the tape ended abruptly)

tehzeeb: a long thread on this blog explored the uncredited debt Khalid Mohamed's second directorial venture owes to Ingmar Bergman. What he also owes the Swede is an apology. Something he also owes the discerning audience as well. Once again KM puts together a pool of talent (at least in the technical department) and comes up with nothing but a sorry metaphor for fancy toilet paper sold in Macy's that has more visual appeal than practical import. ARR's soundtrack for the film wasn't very satisfying and once I saw the visuals I gave up all hope (aka I was confident that the FF button would come to my aid once again). Can't say much about the performances either. The dialogue and the screenplay provide evidence of lost hope: had someone more competent been in charge, this would be have been an engaging hommage to Bergman (minus the deceptive simplicity of course). The Chopin fragment becomes an excuse to inflict aap ko mujhase on our eyes and ears. Urmila Matondkar deserves credit for constantly trying stuff beyond mainstream cinema, but this is not an example of an out-of-band film. Shabana Azmi sleepwalks through an inadequately etched part. Diya Mirza acts true to life. Arjun Rampal is stiff. Diana Hayden sucks elephant butt and Namrata Shirodkar's cameo should have been knocked off the editing table. Satish Kaushik once again gets a part that saves the film, but this is another somnambulistic venture for him with little grace. There are so many painful sequences and the one that irked me the most was Tehzeeb's antakshari sequence as she entertains her mother and sister (WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???). This is, like Fiza, a standard mainstream flick trying hard to appeal to the "classes" while violating everything that they would hold dear. Kenneth Tynan described a critic as "a man who knows the way but can't drive the car". Something leads me to believe KM has even forgotten his directions.
avgat: After a voice-over introduction by Aditya Pancholi, this semi-decent honest effort at another Mumbai gangster yarn opens with a POV sequence (the POV is that of Ramya -- played by Ajinkya "i'm still alive and acting" Deo -- the protagonist of the film) that reminded me of the experimental motif in The Lady in the Lake. The film then employs a conventional third-person POV for the flashback, which comrprises the bulk of its content. There are the usual plot devices: a senior individual (in this case a cameo by Anil Dhawan) gets knocked off after a song of debauchery, murders transpire around the Ganesh festival; religious-nationalist jingoism. But this is the first film I've seen that uses the word Thulla (slang for cop). (There are probably other precedents that I never noted before). But now I await a good tape so I can get through the rest of the film.
a compendium of viewings

ankahee: Amol Palekar directs and stars in this tale of modern rebellion against the inexplicably horrifying accuracy of destiny. A strong cast boasts Shreeram Lagoo (who does not die at the end of this film!), Deepti Naval, Dina Pathak, and Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Accompanied by a wonderful soundtrack from Jaidev (which won him one of four Sur Singar Samsad Awards) featuring Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Asha Bhosle. When did they stop making simple effective films like this? National Award wins include Best Film, Best Music and Best Male Playback Singer. An rmim thread offers more plot details and trivia (WARNING: potential spoilers).

out of control: Indian immigrant desperate to get a work permit in the US of A succumbs to the temptation of converting his friendship with a bar crooner into marriage, but ends up with a small amount of bigamy to handle when he is coerced into a traditional marriage back home. While Ritesh Deshmukh's Shah Rukh Khan imitations are funny, there's little in this film of merit. For the most part, the proceedings make you feel like you were watching one of those sidey Italian or martial arts imports where even the English dialogue was overdubbed by "english-is-not-my-first-language" people. More dialogue muting (including the word "a**h***") may be noted. The film will probably go down the river of trivia as the first Hinglish film for Playmate Brande Roderick. One must also note Hrishita Bhatt's continued inability to act. And Satish Kaushik fails any attempts to salvage this well-intentioned misguided missile. Also note that despite filming abroad in the US of A for the most part, a song sequence (involving the desi bride) winds up in good ol' Switzerland. Some things just never change. Keep the remote control handy for skipping through the songs and several dull moments.

jinnah: Jamil Dehlavi's film about the architect of Pakistan got its share of news simply because of the choice of Christopher Lee (a consummate actor unfortunately typecast as Dracula) in the lead role. Naysayers had no cause for concern really, because Lee nails it in the film. Immaculately filmed, this saga unfolds more pages of history that we were denied access to as school-going kids. We were fed a sanitized and woefully biased view of the turbulent years of our country's past. The tape I watched was a recording off a PTV telecast of the film. A PAL to NTSC conversion might have happened, unless someone recorded it off a PTV feed in the US of A. But the audio was clear enough. I especially loved the narrative device: Jinnah dies and enters the halls of the department where the accounting of life and decisions of souls take place. Shashi Kapoor plays the head of the department (credited simply as the narrator). SK has to deal with the arrival of computers and the technology upgrade, which has also caused Jinnah's file to go missing. In the interim, SK discusses Jinnah's life with him (and us), and we are taken back to the important moments of his life, in Christmas-Carol fashion. There's a moment when fate/SK intervenes to abort an attempt on Jinnah's life by the member of an angry mob. Highly recommended. {see also: mii nathuraam goDase bolatoy}

thirteen conversations about one thing: I remember missing a chance to catch this movie in the theatres, thanks to a phone interview. Probably just as well. The film does not require the big screen to work its magic. Backed by a strong screenplay and excellent performances, the film flits across time and space and present thirteen little segments (12 with intertitles and one prologue) about happiness. Visually there are odes to Edward Hopper (whose paintings explored loneliness among other things). And the church hymn you hear is Psalm 119 sung in German. And the keen-eyed will notice Michael Stipe as one of the executive producers. Personal favourite: "faith is the antithesis of proof".

Friday, January 02, 2004

search clustering

back in school, I had worked on a project exploring different approaches to clustering search engine results. nothing revolutionary happened (no startup, no IPO, etc etc). Now, there's a new clustering interface out there. It's called Mooter. and my favourite little test search (python) yields results that strike a heavy riff of déjà vu. {courtesy: researchbuzz}
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