Wednesday, June 28, 2006

once upon a time in the east

[more OMKARA] {last post in thread}

That's how the flash promo on the film's website begins. The font, the brush stroke finish to the shots in the montage, the earthy textures are all dead giveaways of the Sergio Leone influence, especially Once Upon A Time In the West (if you haven't already seen this film, do yourself a gigantic favour and watch it; and feel free to scream Sholay when we come to the killing of the McBain family).

The pages are decently laid out, except the prominent absence of a "Back" button in the "Crew" section.

The music has only made me even more eager to get my hands on the soundtrack (tentative release date on Eros Music: July 3, 2006). So far it sounds like an aural winner for Vishal. It's nice to see Sunidhi return (was Paanch their last collaboration?). Rakesh Pandit returns after two tracks on Maqbool. Nachiketa Chakravorty, JR suspects, is the same Nachiketa on A R Rahman's soundtrack for Shyam Benegal's Bose. Suresh Wadkar returns after Mulaqaat. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan makes for an interesting addition. Rekha snags two songs on this soundtrack. And Vishal also makes his singing début. Hmm. No Lata (cool!), no Asha (nice!), but unfortunately no Sanjeev Abhyankar (recently heard wasting his talent in that terrible title track from The Nose for Banaras). A track listing follows.

* OMkaaraa / sukhvinder singh

* o saathii re / shreya ghoshal, vishal bhardwaj

* bii.Dii / sunidhi chauhan. sukhvinder singh, nachiketa chakravorty, clinton cerejo

* jag jaa / suresh wadkar

* namak / rekha bhardwaj, rakesh pandit

* nainaa / rahat fateh ali khan

* laakaD / rekha bhardwaj

* the tragedie of omkara

Excuse me while I go and relish the trailers.

Monday, June 26, 2006

rahul dev burman: june 27, 1939 - january 04, 1994

He would have been a merry 67 today. And the years since his passing have seen a lot change in Hindi film music. Regrettably, his presence and impact have grown so much since his death, one wonders if he would've enjoyed the same adulation and acclaim had he survived to pull a few more tricks out of his bag of music.

Technology seems to have replaced the need for innovations like the use of bottles filled with water to different levels, percussion played out on things as diverse as school classroom desks, spoons, tumblers, and an assistant's back, composite rhythms played out on an assortment of instruments; or for the seamless blending of raags in ways both evident and subtle; the ability to produce a cabaret boat song, a dance hall number laced with brass, funky guitar lines, crazy refrains and choruses, a club number that bore no structural resemblance to the mukha.Daa-a.ntaraa form. And yet with synthesizer tone and rhythm banks contributing to "music" the Pancham stamp has been undeniable in the Jatin-Lalit canon, in the endless attempts to mimic his trademark guttural caterwauling (khallaas in Company, for example). Modern tunes bear a striking resemblance to the tunes of a man who had his share of guilt for lifting tunes from all over the map (the variety in his influences remains unchallenged, IMHO): Anu Malik's merii chaahato.n kaa sama.ndar revisits gulaabii aa.Nkhe.n, Uttam Singh's bholii sii suurat retreads nashaa husn kaa utar jaayegaa. Sandeep Chowta even took churaa liyaa and turned it around to create an ethereal lounge piece called ayil aruhc.

The sultan of song would turn around from his peppy tunes and dig into the font of khamaaj, bihaag, jogiyaa, shivara.njinii, maalagu.njii, kedaar, kiirawaaNii, yaman kalyaaN, kalaawatii, bhairavii, piiluu, pahaa.Dii, to.Dii, miyaa malhaar and sha.nkaraa to produce a slew of memorable tunes. And his canon is laden with examples of the typical RDB rhythm. Songs like tujhase naaraaz nahii.n and raah pe rahate hai.n are good examples of this rhythm in use.

The L-P school of music had its Dholaks; most of Bollywood ended up providing the string section enough work for generations. RDB gave the shakers a new lease of life. His ouevre even sports rarities like chho.Doo sanam and har ek raastaa and jaane do naa that eschew the use of violins.

The days of collecting familiars no longer in circulation, rarities long forgotten, and unreleased nuggets are drawing to a close, but the days of rediscovering something interesting in his songs are in no such danger. As long as I can pick a song I've heard several times before and suddenly notice how the complex rhythm pattern breaks down or how the harmonic phrases are arranged, I don't think I'm getting off the RDB bandwagon. RIP Pancham.

ye zi.ndagii kuchh bhii sahii par ye mere kis kaam kii
ho jisake liye jiite hai.n log bas hai kamii us naam kii

Thursday, June 15, 2006

souten: saawan kumar se karan razdan tak

[a case of sand dunes, camels and a femme futile] {april 29, 2006 / may 06, 2006}

[Jun 25, 2006] a less auto-referential version of this also appears on

After borrowing the copyright of Souten from Saawan Kumar Tak, Karan Razdan, the intellectually bankrupt descendant of Salacious Crumb responsible for the soporific mix of incompetence, lesbianism, violence and money shots called Girlfriend, embarks on an attempt to drill a shot in the arm of Rajasthan's tourism industry. Since this is a Bollywood film some semblance of a "script" must be provided. Razdan wields the baton for story, screenplay and dialogue (in addition to "directing" this flick to nowhere in particular) and whips up a gazonga-thong disguised as a story of forbidden love. Gulshan Grover plays raNabiir si.nh (don't they all), the standard upper class filthy rich royal two-dimensional character you've seen on the silver screen for ages. Mahima (or should I say, mahaa-ham) Chaudhari plays his wife Mitali. Shakti Kapoor, another Bollywood villain, ends up as sumer si.nh married to smitaa, played by Padmini Kolhapure, who, for those who remember the original Tak film, offers the trivial link of no consequence. Enter raaj, played by Vikram "Wimp" si.nh, sumer's brother, who has the useful ability to fake violin playing come rain or come shine. He dedicates the "shine" to a dark stormy booze-laden night that cuts to a song of revelations of mounds of various kinds in the desert, and reserves the "rain" for a virtuoso romp in the rain with sapanaa, played by Kiran Rathod. Aha! You have spotted the three vertices of the triangle. What makes this one interesting? Well, sapanaa is raNabiir's daughter, and mitaalii is her step mother. With this scandalous set-up for disaster, there are scenes where the two assert that they are friends. These scenes are solely for the benefit of the weak-hearted NRI with principles and morals derived from the Raichand family.

Mahima excellently blends hamming with a general Poison Ivy-esque abandon, a latent promiscuity, and total cooperation as far as waving her assets for the benefit of The Wimp and front benchers who haven't dropped off during the dramatic scenes.

Despite its promise as a front bencher-pleasing oglefest, the film's primary failure is an attempt to spend more time on stupid sequences of no consequence: scenes with dialogue, scenes with familiar Bollywood conflict. Had he focussed on the T n'A, Razdan would've given B-mongers something to be proud of. It's not all a loss though. If you survive the vapid sequences that connect the unsatisfying intimate sequences, you're in for a treat during the second run of the song mohabbat ho gayii hai. Mahima sashays and dances against what looks like a matte background; In a tribute to Eisenstein, we cut between this and shots of some random cha.nduu off the street filmed separately; cha.nduu gets onto his motorbike in faux cool style, and, after a dangerous glance back to the dancing Mahima, hits a rock, and, in a bad fake stunt move, flings himself forward to fall off the bike.

Razdan also pays tribute to David Lean and other makers of epic picturesque sagas in the style he adopts to shoot the film. We are treated to sweeping approaches to and departures from vistas of Rajasthan that contribute nothing to the film. In one sequence, however, Razdan strikes gold. The set-up is ridiculous: Kiran Rathod and The Wimp have driven far away from their respective residential abodes to the middle of the desert in their respective vans for a dramatic confrontation. The sequence begins with a long crane shot of the two vans parked head-to-head. Cut to the camera approaching Rathod from the right. Cut to the camera approaching The Wimp from the left. Cut back to the camera approaching Rathod from the right. Cut back again to the camera approaching The Wimp from the left. Cut to a crane descent on Rathod. Cut to a crane ascent on The Wimp. Cut back to a crane descent on Rathod. Assembly line confrontational music inundates the background for this back-and-forth Mexican stand-off approach to filming a dramatic scene that could have taken place anywhere else but here in the real world. Wait till the end of the silly scene to watch The Wimp execute a wonderful chest-out move of defeat as he is forced to bite the dust of Rathod's departing van.

It's a wonder that such films get funded, made and even find enough known names to fill the cast roster. Having done a disservice to Rajasthan, human relationships, hams around the world, sand dunes and horses, Razdan nails his creative coffin shut with a boring title: Souten: The Other Woman. That's as good as screaming duh!. Why not something like Souten: Tea Is Served or Souten: Her Horny Highness or Souten: Camel Lot or Souten: Hot Humps and Then Some. JR's pun might be the only funny thing about Souten.

some more strange things that bring people here

[last edition in the series]

vardhman jewelry shops in st.louis

narula lunch box in delhi

what is the earthworm's body covering wikipedia

legal focus on gated schemes by chris prasad

pictures of aditya vikram bhatt's wife (ham ho.nge kaamayaab?)

stevie wonder cover kumar sanu album (now wouldn't we all like a mash-up of part time lover with a riff-o-rama of he.n he.n?)

asha parekh zombie (bingo!)

rakhail the mistress (haven't watched it yet; would love to have nakal: a copy)

karate mithun (once again, snag me a copy and I will reward you)

Once you're back up, please enjoy this video featuring the late Dr Rajkumar. A cult classic for sure. If YouTube is not something your network likes, try this page that offers the video, the audio and the lyrics (watch the video first before visiting the other links so that you may maximise your mirth).

Sunday, June 11, 2006

linguish @ work

[last related post]

10 flagrant grammar mistakes that make you look stupid looks at 10 (a favourite number for countdowns, short lists and the like) common gaffes in emails floating about in corporate e-space (although I'm sure you can extend this to the general email ecosystem without loss of relevance). The usual suspects abound (the misplaced apostrophe, their instead of there, the extra 'o' that loosens lose). The problem is that people, in general, have adapted to this painful devolution of usage on both sides of the war. Those who are inflicted with grammatically incorect detritus end up dealing with it (when in Rome, get done by the Romans). Those who commit such sins on a regular basis have an infallible argument: as long as the listener has understood what they were saying (despite the torture he/she goes through trying to do so), how does all this matter?

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss encourages a zero tolerance approach. Just like language compilers. The sufferers of linguistic abuse need to reminded of just how much their brain suffers. It's time for the tables to be turned on those who employ language carelessly. Language was supposed to facilitate communication, wasn't it?

This does not cover things like the complex prolix of legalese -- the entities producing such corpora derive a lot of benefit from your inability to understand them.

A ton of examples of apostrophe abuse may be found on the Apostrophe Abuse blog; and if you're looking for rules, the Apostrophe Protecion Society is glad to help.

Friday, June 09, 2006

pune: unloaded

I regret missing the note about the private sector lending a helping hand (with their captive power supplies) in assuaging Pune's load shedding woes. The trials began some time ago and Pune has now become, reportedly, the first Indian city to become free of load shedding. Hyperbole or fact? I have no way of knowing; but it's a nice feather in the city's cap.
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