Monday, January 30, 2006

confused iconoclast

Reportedly, Sonu Nigam's gone ballistic (note: in true Mumbai Mirror tradition, this link might cease to function after a random point in time in the future) on a recently shot episode for Indian Idol because he didn't approve of the songs that Sony had asked the contestants to sing. The song choices at the receiving end were zubi zubi (Bappi's Brother Louie rip-off) and R D Burman's tuu ruuThaa to mai.n from Jawani.

I have been unhappy over the selection of songs for some time now, but this time around it was particularly bad. Looks, make-up and the other factors can be worked on, but the ultimate criterion in a music contest is the voice. There are millions of good-looking girls and boys, but there are just a handful of people who can sing well. What is the difference between a common singer and an Indian Idol then? I definitely agree that an Indian Idol should be selected in totality. But the music aspect needs to be given attention too. It simply cannot take a backseat. We have to give these aspiring singers challenging songs to test their talents.

This dude's confused. Sa Re Ga Ma (Pa) was clearly more about singing than any of these other dress-well-get-a-makeover-sashay-away talent[sic] searches like Indian Idol and Fame Gurukul. Given that these last two shows focus on so much more than musical prowess, why're you so concerned if they choose songs that are "easy"? It's called breadth coverage, and if you can't deal with it, stop being one of the judges; Return to SRGM(P) and help restore it to being the great platform for new singing talent it used to be.

I hope some contestant chooses jaaved bhaaii so rele on a future episode.

Jan 31, 2006: Here's a brief HOWTO to get to the article (some steps might be omitted for reduced user interaction; however, for the purposes of this discussion, getting to the frigging page supersedes brevity):

  1. Go to the Advanced Search page

  2. Type in "Sonu Nigam" (retain the space, remove the quotes) in the first textbox (which is labelled "Search by keywords:")

  3. In the list box labelled "Choose a section to search:", scroll down till you see "Entertainment" and click it

  4. The next two entries labelled "From:" and "To:" allow you to specify a date range. You're thinking of typing in the range directly, aren't you? Forget it! See that calendar icon to the right of the textbox in each case? Clicking that brings up a calendar. Make sure the month is January 2006 and the date is 30. This should give you "30-01-2006" in each textbox (without the quotes, of course).

  5. Click that red button labelled "Search"

  6. This should return a result titled "Sonu Nigam miffed". Click the hyperlinked word "More" that brings up the tail of the extract, and you should be taken to the article sporting an imaginative photograph of said miffed individual

Note that in all likelihood, this page will become inaccessible after its archived version falls off the lower bound of the time window they let you run searches over. You can either wait till then or just head over to their offices now and defenestrate the doofus responsible for designing such a painful portal.

titular titillation: cheap sales tactics {last related post}

Of Jethro Tull and Aishwarya Rai screams the headline of a new Rediff article. Aah, you wonder, could this be about Rai performing an item number to open for a Tull show in India? Or is the band that got its name from the inventor of the seed drill going to provide a song for one of Rai's next productions (Dil ka Rishta II: Rishte Mein Hum Dilwale Lagte Hain?)? Neither. And you are tempted to smite yourself for having given this e-trash portal the benefit of the doubt. It's a cheap way of selling bits and pieces about Tull, among other things, since they're doing a few shows with Alms for Shanti. The second paragraph boasts the only mention of the former Miss India now over-hyped talentless eye candy:

Heavy metal pioneers Metallica printed 5,000 t-shirts saying 'Metallica, Grammy winners' before they lost out to a band whose record company was convinced Metallica would win the award for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Performance "like Aishwarya Rai in the Miss India thing"

Tull should sue for defamation of character (and perhaps, even Metallica should).

Monday, January 23, 2006

1/8W+(D-d) 3/8xTQ MxNA

I wake up today morning [that's Monday, January 23, 2006 0630 EST] to grey skies, short spurts of mild wind, incessant medium-well-done rain, and a dip in the mercury (a far cry from Wisconsin, Madison, though, but it's hardly a consolation). Dark, gloomy, dreary. I must inform those not in Atlanta about the rain/traffic symbiosis in this sprawlopolis -- the moment it begins to rain, people driving cars (an overwhelming number) go nuts ... interstates and inner roads get choked thanks to accidents, hasty waste-laying douchebags, badly synchronised traffic lights at their best, dysfunctional traffic lights, impatient nitwits (wait, I already covered that). And it only gets worse as the rain gets heavier. So there are fewer people in the office. Fewer than even the Monday trickle. Not really complaining. I'd like to just pass out. Give me some brightness, as long as it's not the artificial white light strobing away at my half-red eyes.

And they tell me this was going to be the most depressing day of the year. And they even have a mathematical expression for it {as they did last year too}. I wouldn't have guessed.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

filmfare awards 2005: pain is a many-splendoured thing [a retrospective from march 18/19, 2005 (beware the ides of march)]

[Jan 29, 2006] a less auto-referential version of this sans corrigenda makes it as my first post on

As award ceremonies begin rewarding Bollywood activity by solely focussing on maximising their horizontal coverage of achievements, one awaits[sic] the most important one of them all, the Filmfare Awards. Being dubbed as our equivalent of the Oscars seems appropriate when you consider the auto-congratulatory, cliquey spirit embellished with glitz, glamour and hype. It's much closer to the MTV Movie Awards, if only in spirit (what with awards like Scene of the Year). YT looks back at the awards ceremony last year to see how some trends persist, how some things are only destined to get worse, and how some things will never change.

The most significant aspect of these awards was the change in sponsorship. After the flavoured tobacco sponsorship from Manikchand (or, to be precise, Dhariwal Industries) had given the awards some much-needed context and counterpoint, Filmfare (or, to be precise, Bennett Coleman and Company, the owners) decided to switch to The Swarup Group of Industries after Interpol issued Red Corner notices to Rasiklal Dhariwal, the owner of said brand of guTakhaa, for his alleged underworld links.
Filmfare must've been really desperate and on their knees, because the chairman and MD of SGI (that's the Swarup Group of Industries, puTTan), Sri Guru Swarup Srivastava himself, appears to present a couple of awards (for art direction and choreography, two fields he knows quite a bit about) and contributes the second most embarrassing moment of the show. He stands there before the mike with nary a clue about what to do or say. And looks blubberingly to the emcee (Saif Ali Khan, dressed badly, sporting extremely unfortunate painful comic timing, and trying be an Atlas with this disintegrating world) for help. I don't care of this dude makes more money than everyone in my apartment complex, but he needs to be given a script, forced to go through a few rehearsals just to make sure he gets it right. How would he feel if Suniel Shetty proxied for him during a board meeting one fine day?
This move means that one can no longer make fun of the "Manikchand Filmfare Awards." Rest assured, the awards themselves will continue to provide fodder for many an evening of rollicking repast.

The ceremony hits you on the head with explicit product placement. It's as if the text you were typing turned bold in a font several points larger. This is actually in keeping with the rules of exposition in Bollywood films. Never assume any intelligence in the audience; make sure they are always on the same page as far as the intent of each scene and line of paltry dialogue is concerned. After all, your multi-layered film supports at most one POV and invites at most one possible interpretation. So you have Farida Jalal doing a painful product plug for Coke, Sonali Bendre (dressed in something that looks like it was rejected from the list of costumes for the dwellers of Skull Island in King Kong) plugs for The Times of India, Radio Mirchi, Sony Entertainment Television.

The change in sponsorship, however, does (and will continue to do) little to improve the quality of the proceedings as far as presentation and production design are concerned. Every year it seems like they hire people who seem to have managed events solely on a village-to-village basis. The sets look amateur, the lighting's abysmal, the sound's terrible (wait till a wind blows and you'll hear what I mean). No one has the faintest clue about packaging something like this. They insist on having this out in the open and then fail to find someone who understands the sensitive complexities of managing sound in such a domain. Most of us watch these proceedings on our television sets, and the experience only gets worse. For one such show, YT thought that the gross collective was suffering from a harmonious attack of flatulence after hearing the wide assortment of non-vocal sounds heard during the show.

Just as America's view of "the world" is geographically screwed up, Filmfare's awards corrupt the view of "national/Indian" cinema. Make no mistake. These are awards of Bollywood, for Bollywood and normalised from reader votes by Bollywood. The quality of voting can never rise to commendable standards, once you consider the kind of people who (a) read Filmfare on a regular basis (b) watch and crave nothing else but mainstream Bollywood trash (c) actually take the time out and cast votes that elevate Salman Khan's cameo in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai to winning the Best Supporting Actor award (thus trouncing Bajpai's turn in Satya, a clear winner if there was any).

In true Bollywood tradition, the proceedings lack a decent script. Most people improvise off the cuff, and this is something they are really not capable of (hell! They can't even mouth scripted lines of dialogue with the appropriate emotion on screen, and you expect them to improvise? The name is John Abraham not John Coltrane). The only sign that there was some scripting involved is the presence of pieces of numerously folded paper that some of the presenters unfold and proceed to make sense of (which means they were written in Esperanto short-hand). Then you have missed segues (Saif Ali Khan and Abbas-Mustan, who arrived to present the technical awards); Mukesh Bhatt (brother of Mahesh, not the character actor) saying 'wow' over and over again during his presentation stint; Celina Jaitley reading the list of nominations for Best Lyrics (all five trumped by Javed Akhtar) and reading the winner's name (duh!) without naming the film, despite repeated hints from Sonali Bendre. Ms Jaitley is better suited[sic] to stand half-submerged in water wearing a piecemeal bikini and pretending to play the violin; Dev Anand refusing to stop his blabbering and denying Priyanka Chopra a chance to speak after winning an award for her role as Demi Moore in Aitraaz (Ms Chopra eventually has to interrupt Farida Jalal to get a chance to speak).

The linguistic standards of the proceedings continue to flounder helplessly in the swamp of Hinglish dreg. Most of the people you will see (the ones who're emcees, the ones who present awards, the ones who present retrospectives, the ones who accept the awards) are competent in only one language: cool-glish. They can barely pass muster on a class V spoken Hindi examination, they possess an adequate English vocabulary from class VIII, and cannot put a complete sentence together in all their ramblings. All this is fine during kaTTaa talk, or IM conversations, but not on a show that seeks to earn itself some serious reputation (instead of the notoriety it merits thanks to the shoddy package). So when Ashutosh Rana made his acceptance speech in Hindi (for the award for Dushman), it deserved all the resounding applause you could offer.

In an attempt to get breadth coverage, the show features numerous other awards guaranteed to (a) soothe some souls wounded by populist idiocy [Satya swept the Critics' Awards in the year that Salman trounced Bajpai] (b) keep some egos fondled [the Power Award, bestowed this year to Shah Rukh Khan, who plants his expensive-boot-covered foot firmly in his mouth by indulging in extremely juvenile and non-PC utterances about being proud to be in India by referring to Michael Jackson as a small black boy growing into a rich white lady and mounting criticism for Bush being re-elected after all the craven carnage he had effected; the Golden Glory award which went to Dev Anand and then Rekha] (c) auto-fellatio [who can forget the Kapoor home video dedicated to the marriage of Karishma Kapoor? Who cares, dude!]

Each show boasts some innovative[sic] showpieces where our stars who make tons of money dancing abroad in over-priced specious shows, repeat their shenanigans to enthral one and all. Most people chosen to perform rarely lack the basic ability to dance that even the most unimaginative dance choreographer possesses. Some items are usually tinged with a tablespoon of nostalgia. This usually gives you a mixed bag of duds and delights. This year's show featured 1.5-left-footed Rani Mukherjee and Priyanka Chopra doing separate items that could be classified as "down memory lane." Each performance featured attempts to dance to a medley of songs from the past topped with some recent hits that are destined never to die the death they deserve. How one can even attempt to tackle songs like aaj phir jiine kii tamannaa hai or ho.nTho.n pe aisii baat (both featuring vastly more capable dancers [Waheeda Rehman and Vyjayanthimala respectively -- ack to JR for noting my sloppiness in combining the two]) is jaw-droppingly befuddling. Just about the only interesting aspect to the proceedings would be that Priyanka Chopra would be a good dead ringer for the late Parveen Babi when they decide to make a biopic about her. Mahesh Bhatt, who seems like the most obvious person to do something like this, seems have already begun something like this with a flick called Actress, but chooses to use Bipasha Basu to do the needful (the phrase "lack of taste" seems too mild here), along with the usual host of duds like Emraan Hashmi and Deepal Shaw. Shah Rukh Khan inevitably does his item, and this time it features him romancing actresses old and new [Vyjayanthimala, Sharmila, Zeenat, Jaya Prada, Rekha, Kajol, Rani, Preity]. The best item of the evening however was a strip-show by Sonu Nigam. In a bid to present a trip down melody [read: aural malady] lane, Sonu decided to sing snippets of songs from films from the 50s to the 00s. He also hit upon the bright idea of switching costumes for each decade, and so began his performance looking like a stuffed teddy bear, and with each decade, more clothes came off. Mercifully, he didn't do songs from the future. One thing was clear: there is a reason some of those old songs stand the test of time -- no one around today can muster enough talent or dedication to tackle those songs. Despite continuing to be a talented, trained, effeminate watered-down clone of Mohd. Rafi, Mr. Nigam managed to salvage some post-modern reputation by doing a competent imitation of Kumar Sanu's patent-pending nasal attack when he sang saa.Nso.n kii zaruurat hai jaise.

A lot of deserving bad jokes got trashed by bad comic timing as Saif Ali Khan did a sole riff of getting cell phone calls throughout the show. Wasted jokes include a call for B Subhash to propose a cross-product film called Tarzan the ja.nglii car where the car swings from tree to tree, and another call from Nandu Nylon for Mallika Sherawat.

Rule of thumb: If you're a winner in the technical awards section, don't bother preparing an acceptance speech; they're not going to let you talk. In fact, just give them a mailing address, and spend the awards evening elsewhere with your family.

Auto-fellatio moment: Abhishek Bachchan, when announced as the winner of the Best Supporting Actor award, drags his father the Big B to the stage, refuses to accept the award and gives it to his father, who (in true Big B diplomatic grace) returns it with a joke.

most embarrassing moment of the evening: Jackie Shroff, called to present the scene of the year award, calls Yash Chopra, Saif Ali Khan (who's already on the stage), Rani Mukherjee and Kunal Dasgupta (CEO of Sony Entertainment Television, AFAIR) to the stage to accept the award for Hum Tum, but not the director and script filcher, Kunal Kohli. Saif salvages the moment by requesting Kunal Kohli to come up and accept the award. Kohli also managed to make the first acceptance speech of the night.

Gaffes: Gulzar is conspicuously absent from the list of people who've won the most Filmfare Awards.

Runner-up: Most interesting presenter pair: Jaya Prada and Sanjay Khan presenting the R D Burman Award.

Moment of the most Delicious Irony of the evening: Dev Anand presents the award for Best Actor in a Comic Role.

Greatest moment of the evening / Winner: Most interesting presenter pair:Bappi Lahiri and John Abraham (aka Appu Raja) arrive to present the award for Best Female Playback Singer. Abraham's at sea, incoherently mumbling sweet nothings that work for his fans who make his movies hits, but Bappi takes over instantly. He first congratulates Filmfare for their "50th Golden Jubilee" and then dedicates a song to the nominees. He then proceeds to belt out this song, a Bappi classic for aficionados like YT: dil me.n ho tum, dha.Dakan me.n tum. Abraham, meanwhile, has just experienced core shutdown and is left stammering like a duck on steroids.

This means that YT is looking forward to the awards this year. Hopefully, a splendid time is guaranteed for all. In the meantime, let us tune in to the songs of Mr. Prime Minister.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

b...c... suTTaa [last post in thread]

This is it; the veritable offensive NSFME (that's most people) B C suTTaa. It's been in the news for a while for generating its share of buzz (the lyrics, the number of downloads). The guys responsible are Zeest, a Pakistani band. Go grab some background and then snag yourself a copy of the song. Then turn up the speakers, and wait till you hit the floor laughing in joy.

Incidentally, for GMD fans craving for more, check out their blog for more downloads.

Friday, January 20, 2006

the fodder of ignorant folk

After all all the positive press that Sanjay Gupta's rip-off is getting, Rediff notes a poor opening, while the Midday calls it the first hit of 2006. Meanwhile, people are reported to have thrown up and/or fainted after watching the film. Actually, it was Mallika Bhatia, another model-turned-film-appearance-maker; her 14-year-old daughter, meanwhile, watched the film without any ill effects. Um, what was a 14-year-old doing watching this film anyway? I think the real problem in this case is one of negligence. A case of stupid parents.

As for Sanjay Gupta, the dude's going to get crowned for ostentatiously ripping off flicks without apology and crowing to the rooftops about his achievements (including breaking new ground for what's permissible in mainstream Bollywood films).
Raja Sen's well-intentioned public letter is going to earn precious little good. Gupta ain't listening; our stupid audience ain't listening. It's probably a good time to go rent the appropriately titled Diana Hayden vehicle Ab ...Bas!.

Mahesh Bhatt's handling the sex and sleaze angle (he might prove to be a step-successor to the great Raj Kapoor), so Gupta's got a clear playing field of his own. Perhaps the two will join forces one day for aa.Nkhe.n ba.nd kar luu.N, a rip-off of Eyes Wide Shut and Baise-moi.

It's time to get post-post-modern officially and embrace pastiche as the only ma.ntra of Bollywood.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

reality bites

This is ripe for spoofs and jokes galore. William Shatner managed to sell off his kidney stone to oddity collector for $25,000. The cheque will be made payable to Habitat for Humanity. Shatner's stone will share space with other gems [sic] like a partly-eaten grilled cheese sandwich that is said to bear a striking resemblance to the Virgin Mary, and a home pregnancy test stick reputedly used by Britney Spears. In addition to predictable puns like leaving no stone unturned in charity, going where no kidney stone has gone before, Shatner adds his quotables that are sometimes hilarious (If you subjected it to extreme heat, it might turn out to be a diamond) and sometimes horrifying (The stone was so big you'd want to wear it on your finger).

Wilson Pickett, famous for his rendition of Land of 1000 Dances (the refrain from which became famous in Ini Kamoze's Here comes the Hotstepper), Mustang Sally (with that really cool scream), an interesting cover of Hey Jude and yet another contribution to the long list of Hey Joe covers passed away today at 64.

And here's a really cool UK ad {be patient, let the Flash movie buffer completely} for the Honda Civic that features a soundtrack done completely with human voices. [courtesy: Boing Boing]

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

please could you just answer the question?

QUESTION: Was it your responsibility to answer those questions truthfully, Mr. President?
CLINTON: It was. But it was not my responsibility, in the face of their repeated illegal leaking, it was not my responsibility to volunteer a lot of information.

[From a Katrina Kaif interview by Subhash K Jha]:

Q: Will you be comfortable playing a widow in Sholay?
A: Let's not forget the character was married and widowed young. Ramuji is very clear about what he wants from his actors.

Meanwhile, the talent show Sa Re Ga Ma (Pa?) makes its sellout to mediocrity evident by having such mu{sic}al talents[sic] as Emran Hashmi and Udita Goswami (last seen indulging in some family-rated soft-core sniffing and seduction in a poisonous temporally deficient rip-off from Mohit Suri) ... [scroll down to the bottom of this pointer from JR]

Saturday, January 14, 2006

yeah, that's right [last post in thread]

Friday the 13th. 'Twas brillig (well, technically about two hours after that) and YT walked out from the library with X-Men: Phoenix Rising (a compilation of the Jean Grey/Phoenix arc from Avengers #263, Fantastic Four #286 and X-Factor #1). But what YT really thought was rocking was the diverse set of DVDs (a larger number courtesy a friend's generosity and library card) in the bag: a contemporary comic book adaptation (Constantine), a cult horror classic (The Evil Dead), a later minor nugget from Sam Raimi the man responsible for the last film (A Simple Plan), a blaxploitation classic (Super Fly), an Oscar-winning documentary about Munich 1972 (One Day in September), the Criterion release of a minor noir nugget (Night and the City), the Criterion release of the Robert Bresson film whose final image echoes in Schrader's American Gigolo (Pickpocket), the delicious 2-DVD Criterion special release of a classic remade into Friedkin's rather hard to find Sorceror (The Wages of Fear), a restored Orson Welles nugget (Othello).

As if this was not enough to stretch the time/space continuum, YT snagged three books for a total of $1 in a wonderful book sale at the library: David Mamet's American Buffalo, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Ray Bradbury's Zen and the Art of Writing.

As always the problem lies in actually watching all this stuff.

Friday, January 13, 2006

free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler

[last post in thread]

Zinda is finally out in cinema halls. As of January 11. Apparently distributors said Bakr-Id was a good day. Somehow, the caprine sacrifice that marks the occasion adds an excellent complement to Gupta's latest slick-fest that rips off the strongly violent Oldboy. Reviewers are going gaga about Dutt shining in a dark film (It is usually not very easy to like a reproduction of an acclaimed original; yeah, you're just trying to make light of the money you just burnt at the m-plex) and lauding Dutt and Abraham for their performances [hint: this is enough warning to drown 'em in a bag of salt] in a good story set up that loses itself in the maze of gore and convenience.

Meanwhile, Sanjay Gupta is relishing all the critical and popular acclaim while having successfully pulled off yet another patent-pending trademark rip-off without anyone managing to legally screw his happiness and subject him to the fate of the protagonist in the film:

How do you react to being labelled a DVD copycat director?
Who is not a DVD copycat director these days? You show me any movie and I'll show you where it's picked up from. I never denied that Kaante was inspired by Reservoir Dogs.

Would someone do the needful and offer him screenings of Matrubhoomi, Sehar, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Apaharan, My Brother Nikhil so that he can tell us where they filched from? As for "never denying inspiration", all our filchers do this long after the buzz has died down.

So you do not deny that Zinda is inspired by Old Boy?
It's not entirely inspired by Old Boy, which is in turn inspired by The Count of Monte Christo. Both films have a classic premise.

This guy might one day put Bill Clinton to shame. Park Chan-Wook's original was based on a manga (which in turn owed a debt to the Dumas classic). How can this guy think that passing the buck of "being inspired by another work" is an excuse for his shameless lifting? Clearly both the manga and the film added more value to make them stand out as creative works of independent merit; SG's filches on the other hand only make for fodder for books that someone will eventually write about the flagrant plagiaristic practices in Bollywood. SG had better put his sense of soundtracks and style to good use by encouraging creative scripts instead of producing cheap trashy local copies of foreign flicks.

Zinda completes my trilogy of cult films, of films that do not follow the conventional formula (referring to Kaante and Musafir). They are films that break barriers and take risks. With Zinda I have moved away from the Michael Bay/ Tony Scott style of filmmaking to the David Fincher/ Darren Aronofsky school which is highly stylised but controlled and minimal.

This means that we watch out now for some hi-falutin blend of Pi, Requiem for a Dream, Se7en (oh wait, they already did that with Samay), Fight Club and Panic Room (mixed with a tribute to Asha Parekh, perhaps?).

[he and Homi Adajania (who directed Being Cyrus)] are trying to get the rights for the book Q & A. I am also getting the rights to the play Class of 84 and would like Rahul Da Cunha to direct it.

This is promising. I assume he's talking about Q & A. And here's more about Rahul Da Cunha's play. Stay on this track SG and you'll garner some respect. Otherwise it's time to design a crown for the Prince of Plagiarism.

elsewhere: more bogus about the pioneering (yeah right) expletives in the film ...

meanwhile, Vipul's obsession with the latest in this matter continues

Thursday, January 12, 2006


It's a wonder how many people still don't grok the difference between its and it's. The former's a possessive and the latter's short for it is. The cognitive imbalance sets in thanks to the apostrophe coming in to play when possessives involve units other than pronouns (e.g. nouns: Dumbo's wings, Bambi's glare, a jackfruit's nuts).

Then there's the case of the hopping O in loose and lose. Lose the O when things aren't too tight, I say.

And then there are some subtle pawprints floating about, like the use of the indefinite articles a and an. The former precedes words that begin with a consonant (except for words like honourable and honest -- note the silent 'h' -- which merit the an) and the latter precedes words that begin with vowels (except for words like union where the u is pronounced as you and cases like one-armed where the o is pronounced as if it were preceded by a w [that's a double you]. So something like For million of fans across the world, SRK is a icon and now Hollywood too has heard of this star {source} is a boo.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

GMD [warning: not for all forms of life; NSFW esp. when played at socially audible volumes in a company filled with a significant number of people who understand Hindi]

It's raining outside; and Atlanta rises to the occasion to make every cityscape look even more wretched thanks to a spike in the intelligence in the general driving populace ... One aural solution to all this wretchedness is terii GMD {abbreviated for content}. You can grab the lyrics and MP3 here. Strong Indian Ocean vibes, but a lot less complex. Go laugh your guts out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

the attorneys will provide the wisecracks [dedicated to JR's post for forcing a draft post about Anatomy of a Murder out into the light] {may 29, 2005}

I first heard about this Otto Preminger film because of one of the famous title sequences designed by Saul Bass. Then it was the jazz (Duke Ellington providing numerous variations on an 8-bar blues and also appearing on-screen with Jimmy Stewart splitting the ivories with him), and finally it was Otto Preminger (Laura (brutally butchered in that rip-off called Rog), The Man With The Golden Arm (aah the good old days of Star TV)). The film offers a screenplay that's wonderfully rich with detail, character and some very frank dialogue. Then there's a sober presentation of a jury trial (When Lt. Manion asks Biegler "how can the jury disregard what they already heard?" Biegler replies "they can't, lieutenant, they can't"). Nothing's in a rush to get done, and when it's really done, you're not sure you've caught everything that needs to be understood. It's a bit disconcerting to see no closure, but then not showing the closing summaries was a stroke of genius (this way they don't have to worry about writing the perfect closing argument and you don't have to worry about second-guessing it).

Incidentally, if you're trying to make a preview for 12 Angry Men (another great jury film remade in Hindi as Ek Ruka Hua Faisla with K K Raina standing in for Henry Fonda -- aah, the good old days at NFAI screenings), you have McCarthy's (Arthur O'Connell) notes about the jury process.

The preview's cool too.

the future of savvy

First seen in the dismal ode to Pepsi called Footpath, yet another wasted assembly-line song-drama-high-drama contribution from the Bhatt camp, Emran Hashmi surprisingly, in a manner reminiscent of Suniel Shetty's success, managed to make it big. Truth be told, he has never really been cited for his acting merits but more for his rigorously orbicularis oris muscles. This beefcake looks as gariib and clueless as your neighbourhood kaamawaalii, talks like a blubbering mass of jelly, and makes enough attempts at being cool to split your sides asunder. Despite (or because of) his complete lack of ability in any important department in the acting arena, he has managed to become a hit. And it's all because of his kissing, it would seem.

So you're not surprised to see an interview titled I am not kissing Hrishita. Note that this is not a variant of I am not Rappaport or mii nathuraam goDase bolatoy, but something along the lines of a denial of attributed action. The context is his latest film Jawani Diwani (which also qualifies for the defilement-of-established-movie-name category). This box-office nosedive features Kit Ply himself along with two mixes of cellulose and cellulite named Hrishita Bhatt (the recipient of said action referenced in the title) and Celina "bikini" Jaitley (star of such tanks of turd as Janasheen and Khel). On display in the interview are (a) the interviewer's ability to ask pertinent[sic] questions and (b) the interviewee's (our friend The Toad Who Talks) inability to utter anything of consequence. Some excerpts:

Tell us something about Jawani Diwani.
Well, the title itself suggests the youthful joyride and it's a young film with the young people. Lot of comedy and lot of fun moments! There is [sic] lot [sic] of chaos, confusion and funny moments shown in the film.

Tell us something about your character.
I am playing a role of a struggling singer called Mann Kapoor. The guy is very ambitious and loves women as well. It's overall a crazy character. The whole dilemma of his life comes in when he has to take care of his career and the woman he is in love with. There is a lot of chaos, confusion and funny moments.

There are lot of steamy scenes between you and Celina
Yes, there are bold scenes in the film. Intimacy was always a part of my films. It has been shown the way it is. But that is not the focus point of the movie.
don't do this to us ... please

Reusing titles isn't something new in Bollywood. Hell! we reuse plots from all over the globe, so what's a title yaar? But there must be a rule to prevent erosion of titles that are associated with movies that mean more than the average box office earner. We've had mild offenders before what with Shakti getting a suffix The Power, Deewar becoming an exhortation to bring our heroes home ... But sacrilege is upon us. One of the best black comedies in Indian cinema Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is about to be eclipsed by a Sanjay Sharma dingleberry that tags (incorrectly) an 'n' at the end [dude, get your Hindi straight; it's the sambodhan form and not the plural ... I was shown the light over two years ago]. The soundtrack's by Bappi Lahiri and perhaps his teaming with Daler Mehndi might offer some succour, and perhaps its destined B-status will dilute its impact on Kundan Shah's only masterpiece. Only time will tell.

Addendum [jan 20, 2006]: Suneel Darshan's dismal Mere Jeevan Saathi threatens to override the memory of the musical treat that the original kaakaa starrer was.

Addendum [feb 02, 2006]: Given Rahul Roy's upcoming Naughty Boy, how many people remember an old Kishore Kumar / Kalpana starrer from 1962 directed by Shakti Samantha?
how to spoil a movie for people [warning: spoilers follow]

The IAF has put a cog in the wheels of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Rang De Basanti by objecting some scenes that depicted the Defence Services and politicians in bad light. While the Rediff article only notes that the MiG crashes were referenced and that the Union Home Ministry was one of the parties referenced in an uncomplimentary fashion. The Indian Express take, however, knocks out the specifics about the department and leaves us with politicians (arguably they're the same thing; but perhaps the references in the movie are to politicians; who knows? I haven't seen the film yet). The Express notes: The IAF has objected to a computer-generated scene showing the crash of a MiG-21 and also to some of the dialogues, which show politicians in poor light. I don't see what's wrong in showing politicians in poor light? Show them in darkness, I say. In fact, cast them into darkness. Force them to watch the collected works of the likes of Emran Hashmi, Fardeen Khan, Esha Deol, Uday Chopra and Asha Parekh.

The Indian Express then goes a step further by courtesly providing us more insight into the details of the plot of the film. While I'm not terribly enthused about the film, it would have been nice to go in knowing as little as possible (so that what meagre offerings might exist in terms of a plot might be appreciated):
The film portrays Madhavan as an Air Force pilot, who dies in a MIG-21 crash. Aamir and his friends there after hold the IAF responsible for the crash.

Another victory for free speech. All this talk about progress, and people can't speak their mind or have a point of view. Meanwhile, it's fine to bandy salacious family-rated porn and cleavage in the name of meaningful[sic] entertainment. I think it's time to remake A Beautiful Mind rewritten to be a story about characters played by Payal Rohatgi, Mona Chopra and Mallika Sherawat.

follow-up: OK, another case of AFNS; the film's been cleared; an IAF officer was quoted as saying We live in a democracy after all. We don't have a problem with the movie. All Hindi films are the of fiction. It can be shown as it has been made. Um, you had to actually watch the film to figure this out?

life, the universe, and the censor board [last post in thread]

'Zinda escaped the censors' (note the quotation marks) screams the Rediff article about how Sanjay Gupta's shameless rip-off just cleared censorship with an 'A' certificate (as if that meant anything) and no cuts.

Several things to note here.

Scroll down and read through this SG fellatio-fest and you'll notice that this quote does not appear in the article. Rediff has something presumptuously misleading like this before

And for the first time, the two mainstream heroes -- Sanjay Dutt and John Abraham -- use graphic expletives, including the 'F' word."

Um, actually this has been done before. You probably didn't hear 'em say it, but you could read lips and tell ... Two instances that come to mind: Sunny Deol ranting at the judge outside the courthouse in Lootere (I hope my memory hasn't failed me on the name of the film), Suni(e)l Shetty screaming I'm f**king murtuzaa arzaaii in Chocolate [note before long-due review post: This film is the undisputed winner of the most Surrealist Dadaist Film of 2005].

Surprisingly, there were three women on the censor panel and they loved the film!

I'm not sure if he was surprised that there were not one but three women on the censor panel or if (more likely) he was surprised that they loved the film (I'm surprised too; but you can't blame them with all the trash that they're forced to watch both at work and at home [all those soap operas] ... with its purported violence this film must've felt as cathartic as playing Unreal Tournament with bots named after your managers and project leads).

"I suppose our cinema is growing up" he begins. Yeah, sure. Not content with Hollywood and Japan, we're now ripping off Korean works. Great going. What's next? Thai films?

Though it's a dark film, I've never felt more charged and optimistic about any of my films

any of your films dude? That would explain why they're such soulless pieces of slick ballast.

He sums it all up by claiming, "Zinda wasn't an easy film to make. And, let me warn you, it isn't an easy film to see."

Yes, you will cringe and shift uneasily in your seat as you watch some bold original material being ripped to shreds by this rip-off.

With the slated iid release (Wednesday, Jan 11), Gupta's rip-off looks destined to beat the Hollywood remake to the marquee ... another feather in Bollywood's cap after Naina.

elsewhere: A related tirade from Vipul, who seems all set for doctoral work on this film.

Monday, January 09, 2006

rahul returns ... naughty as hell

Aashiqui launched this star with the flowing hairdo but subsequent films saw him heading down for a dust-bite (remember Sapne Saajan Ke, Gajab Tamasha, Megha, (Yeh) Majhdhaar?). And then there was silence (except for the Suman Ranganathan affair).

Then there was the sinker in September 2005 called Meri Aashiqui.

Flash-forward to the day after Republic Day 2006. T L V Prasad's next film Naughty Boy features our very own Rahul Roy back in action along with budding skin flick talent Mona Chopra. T L V Prasad has been responsible for some classic Mithun flicks like Zakhmi Sipahi and Phool aur Aag as well as the Payal Rohatgi T-n-A vehicle Tauba Tauba.

What happened to Rahul Roy in the meantime and what else does he have on his plate right now? [read on]

Friday, January 06, 2006

do we have a bharat ratna reserved for people like this?

National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE) secretary Shekhar Salkar: I know Amitabh as a non-smoker and his act of posing with a cigar in hand will influence a lot of people who will opt for smoking [context]
Kalamandalam Hyder Ali is no more [courtesy: uma]

Kalamandalam Hyder Ali, the first and only Muslim to be a Kathakali musician, was killed when his car collided with a lorry on Thursday. He was on his way to the Kerala Kalamandalam in Cheruthuruthy to offer music lessons. The Hindu (Along with Kalamandalam Sankaran Embranthiri and Kalamandalam Haridas, Hyderali re-invented Kathakali music in the latter part of the previous century, enriching traditional musical structures with progressive ideas. Clarity of lyrics and bhava-rich expression were their specialty. The criticism against them was that they borrowed a lot from the Carnatic idiom, thus shifting the focus from lyric-oriented, abhinaya-friendly expressions to musical showmanship. Hyderali's generation countered the criticism, contending that improvement of the musical language did not affect the totality of the dance-drama.) and the Indian Express (Kathakali aficionados recall how those in control of an ancient temple in Chengannur actually broke down a part of the temple wall and erected a platform there for Ali to sing for the Kathakali performers inside the compound, since his Muslim identity barred him from being allowed inside.) are running obits (no one seems to be sure of his age for some reason). He was laid to rest today afternoon IST. As a mark of respect, shops and business establishments in the area downed their shutters.

He was instrumental in rendering Kathakali music in independent music programmes without the visual component and brought a Kathakali flavour to Carnatic music renditions.

I must consider myself privileged to have seen him perform at the Masters of Kathakali presentation in March last year at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Centre. Here's a report of the performance.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

i proud to be beefcake

[notes on the music of the written-but-not-directed-by-Sohail-Khan flick Fight Club]

It seems even less likely that this is a rip-off of the Fincher classic. With such a prime assembly of rejects (thanks for the heads-up Vipul), there's no chance even if hell freezes over that this is going to be a movie worth looking forward to in any form. Moreoever, it reeks of echoes from Ahmed Khan's DOA directorial début Lakeer: Forbidden Lines.

At some point in the opening of the first song ye Kudaa, you're tempted to begin singing ishq hai jhuuTaa from Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena, another Pritam work featuring samples and filches galore. Perhaps it's the nonsensical rap (do it like that) that seems to pervade most Bollywood soundtracks these days. The remix features award-winning rap talk on the lines of you don't know how crazy ishq is / i'm wicked like triple-6 is / kuDiye you taste delicious / take you home to do my dishes.

Since you already have beats and (c)rap, why do you need the obligatory remixed version? Such questions rarely find answers these days.

Next up is another sample-laden appropriation called chhore kii baate.n, this time with due credit to Ali Zafar for using his Channo ki aankhen (which in a few ways reminds me of Pancham's flanger endorsement dhanno kii aa.Nkho.n me.n). Pilferage Prince Pritam manages a coup of sorts by roping in Amit Kumar to sing on the track, but with all those beats and samples floating around, there's not much of AK that you can really relish.

Pritam revisits his work on Chocolate by reusing the sample-and-beat soundscape and reusing the melody of ##mummy## se naa kahanaa for joshiile jawaa.N ho (##go go go fight club##).

bolo naa tum zaraa seems like a undistinguished tribute to the soft, soft-synth-beat-laden, melodic-fill-enhanced Vishal-Shekhar ballads from Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi, Jhankaar Beats, Shaadi ka Laddoo and Home Delivery. And then he had to go ahead and cut a remix of this as well? Yech!

it was 12 years ago today ... [dedicated to JR and BVHK for inundating my inbox in IST with glorious related laughs]

that our own Sgt. Pepper died a lonely heart ... Each passing year only makes your music more vital Pancham. The remix raajaas continue to plunder your work to fill their coffers, close ones seem to be toeing that line too, your ignored and forgotten scores still come to light only in drips.

And then we have schmendriks like Anu Malik who manage to find net space thanks to portals like Rediff to pay tribute[sic] to the master (Incidentally, when you called up, I was listening to the song Tumne mujhe dekha [from the 1966 movie Teesri Manzil] composed by Panchamda. And when you reminded me that it his 12th death anniversary, it was a bit too much to handle for me.).

I was still waiting and the door was ajar. I peeped in. I could see that suddenly, at the last moment, he changed whatever music he had composed and whatever his musicians were playing. Today, I find the same trait in myself -- I change my music at the last moment if I find it is not gelling.

He was a complete and versatile composer. He could give you an Amar Prem and a Teesri Manzil at the same breath --which, if you notice, I have done when I did while I composed Judwaa and Refugee and Virasat and Border. They are two different genres of music.

Nitwit! this is about Pancham not about you. We'll worry about you when you kick the bucket ...

You can still remember the first time you looked your lover in the eye for the first time. Those moments are trapped in his music. You pick up the score of Jawani Diwani or Teesri Manzil and your heart starts hurting.

Does this guy count from 0? How many first times can you have the first time?

He could twist tunes so well. He would pick up foreign tunes and make it his own tunes. If you remember Chura liya hai tumne jo dil ko [from the 1973 movie Yaadon Ki Baaraat], or even if he lifted from Abba, he would turn the antara [the chorus of the song] so well that it changed the whole tune. I think that is one thing that any composer can learn from R D Burman. Rather, you could say that is what I have learnt from him.

So, you're saying you got the HOW-TO for filching songs from him? Perhaps that would explain why churaa liyaa works and why dil de de denaa truly sucks (the "funky" lyrics being an added dose of skunk love) ... Tell us about the time you hinted that people like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who served as raw material for your numerous compositions, should feel grateful for your pilferage ... And then tell me how the a.ntaraa became the chorus of a song? I thought the mukha.Daa usually corresponded to the chorus ... You'd know better ... Take that ghaTam you frequently use in all your "critic-friendly" music and set it on a collision course with your cranium ...

I was unfortunate I never had an opportunity to learn from him. But his music was so strong that you can learn music by just listening to his songs.

You said it dude. Just like you listened to gulaabii aa.Nkhe.n and made merii chaahato.n kaa samu.ndar to dekho ...

He would pick up foreign tunes and make it his own tunes.

Could we get a proofreader who knows English please?

Give RDB a break! Let's just pay tribute to him with silence.

Elsewhere: an interesting article in the Hindustan Times paying tribute to the late genius in a vein similar to Subhash K Jha's ... and it even paraphrases Osho's epitaph. Note from the first author: the mathematical error (11 instead of 12) that permeates the piece (and severely hinders its credibility) was a contribution from the copy editors in the publishing house. Aah, they probably worked for HMV/Saregama at some point. Also, please pardon the random occurrence of spaces. This comes from using sophisticated closed-box tools like the .NET Framework (v7.1) without even a marginal foundation in basic HTML and web authoring.

More elsewhere: The Calcutta Times city supplement features a collection of memories loaded with trivia. Please bear with the TOI's patent-pending stupid clunky design complete with the truly useless "Print this page" --- what happened to "Printable version" for the whole article you quarter-wits?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Rediff Seriously Sucks

Rediff iLand has been Rediff's big step forward in the world of blogging. It goes beyond Rediff Blogs. In fact, it goes beyond blogs. According to a help page "Rediff iLand is your very own space on the internet where you can put up your thoughts, photos, ideas and memories. It's also a good place to meet like-minded people, express your opinions and most of all, expand your horizons to encompass the entire world!" If that doesn't help try this even more obtuse comparison with Rediff Blogs: "Rediffblogs, great as it is, has limited capacity. It allows you to express yourself through one medium� writing. Meanwhile, at Rediff iLand, blogging is just one of the many things you can do besides Photos, Avatars, Dreamspaces and many mnay[sic] more things.

Thus, Rediff iLand is a wider, more comprehensive platform for your expressions."

Yeah, I get the picture. I think I'll submit my talent profile for the Clueless auditions.

Take one look at their template and spending the night listening to Lata Mangeshkar's covers of Iron Maiden might seem like a walk in the park. Egregious waste of real estate and overcrowding even in the limited space consumed. Very Indian really.

The less said about their RSS feed the better. I've never seen such escapism (poor pun here, please excuse). If you subscribe to any of them through some popular portal like Bloglines, you'll know what the china shop looked like after the bull was done with it. And a few samples I saw even included the generous crud produced by MSFT's streamlined word-processor-cum-dehumidifier-cum-HTML-editor-cum-white-noise-generator-cum-you-get-the-idea tool called Word. The demographic is stunning. iLand is not. It's mind-numbing. Get your HTML encoding straight first guys. The basics. The details.

it's alive ... again {previous entry in thread}
There's another all-fizzle-no-meat preview out on the site. It's under the "Media" section and is called "Theatrical-1" (The zip file itself is called zinda-theatrical2, but who cares?). Featuring shots of the white mop-headed Sanjay Dutt in a car, John Abraham in a car, Sanjay Dutt doddering about in a corridor, attempting to do something with a wall using a samurai sword, more people hurling sharp objects, more shots of Dutt and Abraham against a cityscape. All in all, a montage of vapidity. Wonder if this was what the legal department recommended for fear of a lawsuit.
the legacy of bad lyrics

If you thought that croppers like Neal 'N' Nikki and Salaam Namaste were a sign of the recent times, think again. Strange lyrics have been with us for years. Here's a sample from a 1981 film called Ek Hi Bhool (the most famous song from which was this aggravating father/son duet he raajuu he ##daddy## featuring S P Balasubramaniam and Laxmikant's daughter Rajeshwari):

bistar chho.D ke so gayaa
chaddar oDh ke so gayaa
haaye haaye bharii jawaanii me.n
meraa baalam buDDhaa ho gayaa

Arguably, it doesn't scale the heights of excellence that films like Jo Bole So Nihaal or Rock Dancer ...

the unknown others ... [being some quick notes on the soundtrack for the piece of canned food called Anjaane: the Unknown]

After the Dimple/Amitabh/Dharam cure for insomnia called Hum Kaun Hain, the marquee gets another dose of desii-ised The Others with a clunker called Anjaane. Meshy Miami Rehash does the musical honours for this long-in-the-cans flick featuring the devastating combination of Manisha Koirala, Sanjay Kapoor and Tejasvini Kolhapure. The songs boast simple arrangements, and this provides an early indicator of just how bland, boring and maudlin they are. HR continues to sound like a worthy follower of the Nadeem Shravan distillate of Shankar Jaikishen and Laxmikant Pyarelal. And he's increasingly sounding like himself. With A R Rahman this is sometimes not a bad thing; with HR it's like a migraine in perpetual déjà vu. de do re de do uses a sample that sounds like it came off ma.ngataa hai kyaa from Rangeela. And in the department of the howlarious, we have a song called Mummy Cool (a tribute to Boney M or Anu Malik's tongue-nowhere-near-the-cheek contribution to Chaahat [the Mahesh Bhatt movie, not the Jhanghiani love scene vehicle]). And there's more gibberish/kid-talk following that addictive line.

The songs are loaded with the simplistic catchy (and subsequently gut-gnawing) riffs that HR has been peddling in each of his albums. And he's up there in the popularity charts. Boggles the mind.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Guitar Town from the Once upon a time in Mexico OST is playing. Almost on cue the sun peeks out of the white rim of a grey cloud and lights your desk up brighter than it has all through this grey rainy bleak day. The almost bare trees are gently nodding outside. The sounds of an aggressive modern civilisation are conspicuous by their absence ... you can see a few cars drive by, but you don't hear the engines or the horns; you don't hear people playing the wretched rejected dinosaur thumps that pass off as "music"; you don't hear the blessed musical virtuosity of irritating cell phone ringtones; the only hook to technology is this browser window you're typing everything in ... a small allowance.

It's time to get back to ironing your clothes now. The sunlight's giving you a hint. It's almost 5:30pm EST and dusk as we daylight saving time victims know it will soon be upon you.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

kutte!! (translated from the Chinese)

tumhaaraa aanewaalaa kal aur paraso.n, sirf mai.n sirf mai.n sirf mai.n

there is no time, no space, only zero. Well, two actually. Happy 2006. Remember, every sunday is not a day.

and a happy ATC-minus-1 to Nana Patekar.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.