Thursday, March 30, 2006

high fives! [courtesy: desi train]

The 2006 edition of the Indian Film Festival of LA. Interesting selection although one could clearly do without movies like Monsoon Wedding now. The real reason to celebrate is the presence of Anurag Kashyap's Paanch, which has hitherto never seen the official light of day thanks to those $$&*#)#@$ Indian censors. The festival rocked last year when they screened Black Friday. The High Museum of Art in Atlanta has an annual Indian Film Festival and the 5th edition's round the corner. The 2004 edition was decent, but the edition last year sucked (what can you do when you find movies like Baghban on the list but there's no sign of Black Friday when other Indian film festivals across the country had it on their lists?). So far the only entry I know of is Deepa Mehta's Water. Here's hoping Kashyap's films make it.

Some old posts in this domain dedicated to Kashyap include a note on his guilty movie pleasures, early notes on the soundtrack of the wonderful Black Friday and an inclusion of the same in my first long take on soundtracks of 2005 almost destined for oblivion.

brokeback darshan

Has something like this been the reason Dharmesh Darshan's brother Suneel Darshan makes movies like Dosti: Friends Forever {synopsis extract: They had nothing in common. Karan (Bobby Deol) was wealthy and a mansion was his habitat. Raj (Akshay Kumar) had empty pockets and the sky was his roof.}?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

*lifts himself from the floor, clutching his aching belly* (and if you know him well, you know that belly's some serious business) [link courtesy: arnab]

and you thought this temporary spouse thing happened only in the movies? [more]

returns to the floor ... oh! the pain!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

howlarious consequences of a quest for plot [via TwitchFilm]

Apparently a planned Hollywood by-the-numbers remake of the Dario Argento classic Suspiria has gone awry in the early stages. Argento's film is about a new student at a ballet academy who discovers that the place houses a coven of witches. Apparently, one reason cited for failure to proceed was the inability to explain why the witches had to choose a ballet academy. This might not seem as outrageously WTF-worthy for people who aren't familiar with Argento's work. Suspiria, the only film in the Argento canon that I've had the privilege of watching, is an experience in nightmares and while a narrative exists to tie the events, it's clearly not the foundation of the film. It functions like a 32-bar standard does for jazz musicians to improvise with, and Argento does more than improvise: he combines rich visuals and a creepy soundtrack from Goblin along with expressionist performances and laces the mixture with a stylish flair for an unbelievable cinematic experience. All this doesn't necessarily suggest the possibility of a remake. But someone thought it was a great way for another brain-dead cash cow. And they just went about it the wrong way only to end up trapped in a nightmare of their own making:)
two questions

Does anyone know why the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta doesn't use the American spelling (center)?

Does anyone know why the sleeves of CDs shipped by Blockbuster (as part of their answer to the Netflix DVD rental workflow) sport a "1 of null" after the title of the movie? Bad programming without code reviews?

Monday, March 27, 2006

furthering titular abuse [last post in thread]

Despite all odds, charaNadaas chor aka Priyadarshan, is relishing the success of Malamaal Weekly. He has decided to celebrate by launching his next. This guy's faster than rabbits. The film's called Bhagam Bhag. No plot details yet so we won't be able to figure out what his influences will be, but the title's an unfortunate case of reuse. Does anyone remember a 1956 movie of the same name made by Bhagwan Dada? If not the film itself, how about a Kishore/Rafi song for O P Nayyar that went "he baabuu ye hai zamaanaa teraa he baabuu"?

Taking bets now for a future Priyadarshan flick called Maya Machindra, which will benefit both from the A R Rahman song in Indian [the howlarious lyrics of the dubbed Hindi version] and from the old Nirupa Roy starrer (didn't know there was one did ya?)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

jimmy jimmy aajaa aajaa[previous post in thread]

Daboo Sippy, who was responsible for the Mithun boxing vehicle Boxer (duh!), is all set to direct Mimoh in Jimmy. Mithun Chakraborty presents the film (this is probably the closest he'll get to his son's films, because he's already gone public about letting the kid do his own thing). Co-star Zulfi Syed wasn't so bad in Chupke Se, but I get the feeling not many people really cared for that flick. Strangely enough, one report has Naresh Malhotra (with an impressive[sic] ouevre that includes Yeh Dillagi, Achanak [the one starring Govinda], Kranti [the one with Bobby Deol] and Dil ka Rishta) listed as the director of Jimmy. [more]

update: [march 28, 2006]: Anand Raj Anand's doing the mu{sic}al honours.
stranger things that bring people here [a sequel to this]

lion says allah hoo: Feline Fateh Ali Khan?

search yamaha biwi: Motorcycle Mate?

gracy singh bar dancer: You Wish!

esha deol smoking a cigarette: Might offend Dr Arbumani Anbumani (merci JR) Ramadoss

Saturday, March 25, 2006

music of 2005 destined for neglect [aka possibly incomplete retrospection toying with tense]

Be Warned! This is an incomplete first cut; I'm sure I've missed some very obvious entries (blame on the quantity and the passage of time). Gentle reminders will help warm up the old memory banks and let some tape sool [thanks for the note, Arun]

[Dedicated to the specious greatness of Black, the bland freshness of Parineeta, the Spanish inquisition of Bunty aur Babli, the riddled kaleidoscope of Paheli]

Black Friday: Anurag Kashyap's no-nonsense film and its subject matter seemed like the perfect choice for Indian Ocean's first movie soundtrack. With some nice improvisation on the background cues and some wonderful arrangements (electronic samples, brass, woodwinds), we also got three songs penned by Piyush Mishra (who, despite all attempts by the media to tout this as his lyric-writing début, has previously collaborated with another personal favourite, Vishal Bhardwaj, on films like Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar!). This is not an album created to loaded with dance-friendly fatuous ditties of love and cool designed to set the cash registers ringing. This is an album created to complement the film it was made for. One can only hope that Kashyap's angry diatribe against the havoc and destruction wrought by ignorant rage sees the light of day before it's too late.
ये अंधी चोट तेरी
कभी की सूख जाती
मगर अब पक चलेगी

For those having issues viewing that extract above here's the same in iTrans:
ye a.ndhii choT terii
kabhii kii suukh jaatii
magar ab pak chalegii

If anybody's reading this using Firefox/Mozilla on Linux and has managed to get the font set-up right, could you let me know how. I've got things working on Firefox/Windows, but I don't have access to a Linux environment to be able to try things out and I have a feeling things ain't lookin' pretty.

haa.N mai.nne chhuukar dekhaa hai: This IMNSHO was the only aural artifact worth taking away from Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Black, a pompous attempt at film art -- the loudest movie of last year (especially ironic considering that this was about a blind, deaf and mute girl). Prasoon Joshi's lyrics offer a host of tactile visions and Monty Sharma gives them a melodic challenge that Gayatri Iyer takes up with aplomb giving the song the ethereal edge it deserves. This reminds me of Sunidhi Chauhan's underrated rendition of ai ajanabii from Deewangee (In a classic case of multi-filch, Ismail Darbar lifted the twisted melody from canção do mar, which featured on the OST of Primal Fear, the source for Deewangee).

My favourite film of 2005, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi was also (and still is, except perhaps for Yahaan)) my favourite soundtrack bearing Shantanu Moitra's name. Swanand Kirkire scores lyrically and vocally with baawaraa man; he joins lyrical and vocal forces with Ajay Jhingran to give us man ye baawaraa; he then renders Bhikhari Thakur's folk poetry with he sajanii. Despite Shubha Mudgal's rendition of the angst-laden title song and baawaraa man and Shubha Joshi's wonderful Thumarii na aaye piyaa, the soundtrack is a magnificent Kirkire showcase.

Onir's directorial début My Brother Nikhil deserved plaudits for its underplayed narrative, performances, and a toned-down look at homosexuality and AIDS. As if all this wasn't enough, music director Viveck Philip and lyricist Amitabh Verma (Chhal) gave us one of the best songs of the year le chale. Shaan, K K and Sunidhi Chauhan do the honours on three separate versions of the song and Viveck Philip steps up to the microphone to render lyrics in English tuned to the same melody. Lovely chords and arrangements give the song all the aching ethereal poignancy it needs. Viveck Philip topped it off with some appropriate background cues as well.

One of the most neglected films of the year, Kabeer Kaushik's directorial début Sehar sported not just a patient screenplay and great performances but also a serviceable soundtrack. With interesting background cues, a situational wedding song by Shubha Mudgal, Pankaj Kapur reciting part of the famous Faiz work that gave the film its title and a prayer for a new dawn in a world builty by dreams and hopes, Daniel B. George, who has been Shantanu Moitra's arranger for all (AFAIR) his films, makes his first solo venture a fruitful one and caps it with a delectable gem called palake.n jhukaao naa that figures in two versions, a tighter version by Adnan Sami and Alka Yagnik and a free-flowing version by lyricist Swanand Kirkire and Meenal Jain (is this the same Meenal Jain who was voted out of one of those thanksless Indian Idol rounds?).

When Antara Mali made her directorial début (sharing credit with Satchit Puranik) with Mr. ya Miss, she gave RGV's Factory its biggest cropper of the year. The soundtrack featured such cult-friendly gems like Shibani Kashyap's forceful rendition of fakr hai mujhe mai.n huu.N aurat and Sonu Nigam's effeminate playful rendition of fakr hai mujhe mai.n huu.N aadamii (General Note: for somewhat obvious reasons the word 'fakr' must be avoided in songs). Lyricist/music director Nitin Raikwar also wrote another (zi.ndaa hai zi.ndagii from D and zi.ndagii jiine kaa naam hai from James) ode to life with jiinaa hai to jiinaa hai and Vinod Rathod's kamasin kali (which went down the same road as unase milii nazar to in Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon but lacked its forceful retro vibe). Buried in all this detritus was a gem destined for neglect: Sonu Nigam's bhajan kaanhaa jag kaa gorakh dha.ndaa with Satchik Puranik's lyrics tuned by guest composer Ronkini Gupta). This nugget (what raag is it based on? bhaTiyaar?) offered as much shock value to the soundtrack as the on-screen histrionics did to the viewing experience.

Friday, March 24, 2006

salmania {link courtesy: Sudarshan}

In 2003, someone called Aparna Kalra wrote a piece in the TOI hailing the human side of Salman Khan. This was when Salman Khan's kitty of accomplishments included his violent relationship with Aishwarya Rai, vehicular homicide and being a bane for black bucks.

Flash forward to the present. The Indian legal system, legendary for its pace, integrity and efficiency, finally came through in February 17, 2006, with a 1-year sentence and a fine of Rs. 5000 (I don't even have to convert that thing to $$ to demonstrate how contemptibly paltry it is). Predictably, he got a reprieve. Meanwhile, his popularity continues to grow. His next release Jaaneman's set to hit the record books for offers for distribution rights reported between 7.5 and 8 crores (rupees). And then we have another sucky salvo. This time the Indian Express takes up the baton from the TOI. This time it's a letter from a Salman fan called Sabaa Jabin, who deserves some serious mental help. It's titled To my dearest Salman (duh!). A chilling extract:

Salman, whenever I see you, deep in my heart Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and I keep asking myself Hum Aapke Hain Koun! My heart answers that you are the one Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha. I must tell you this-Dil Tera Aashiq and its Sirrf Tum that my heart beats. When I saw you the first time I was Stumped. There's only Khamoshi on my lips now while my heart screams for my Saajan. I also feel Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Chori Chori Chupke Chupke we have tied up this sweet Bandhan. Janam Samjha Karo, that Maine Pyar Kiya and I have dedicated my life Tere Naam. How I wish you would ask me Mujhse Shaadi Karogi? Then I could become your Biwi No.1. Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam and its [sic] true Tumko Na Bhool Paayenge. I love you Salman, Kyon Ki you are the best.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

the strange Bollywood fascination

Kalyanji-Anandji scored at the Grammies earlier this year, but the strange fascination that the West has for Bollywood continues. Although the term refers to the Bombay-based film industry that produces a ton (of tripe) every year, the West inappropriately uses it to refer to the entire Indian film industry -- an unfortunate case of vision obscured by quantity and bloat. When V for Vendetta hit the marquee last week, it managed to achieve something that Ram Gopal Varma productions do in India -- RGV's name is associated with every production of his even if he hasn't directed it. So the poor directors have to bask in his shadow (as it were). So everywhere I see Wachowski more often than McTeigue. But there was something more interesting. Remember navras from Matrix: Revolutions? The Wachowski brothers seemed to hit the riff again with the V film with a track called BKAB by Ethan Stoller that plays over the end credits -- the tune reportedly mashes and mixes churaa ke dil meraa from Main Khiladi Tu Anari and paradesii paradesii jaanaa nahii.n from Raja Hindustani along with the usual dark electronica and fuzz. {courtesy: Sepia Mutiny}

But that seems to be just the beginning. Spike Lee took a bite for his new flick Inside Man (from the looks of it, this is going to be Lee's biggest genre plunge ever -- makes me uncomfortable). Apparently the opening credits are accompanied by that famous train-top song chhai.nyaa chhai.nyaa from Dil Se; the end credits are blessed with a remix of the same song. {courtesy: Cinemarati}

Perhaps the West is fascinated with India as a whole and yet manages to repeatedly pick stuff from Bollywood's product tank. One never knows.

quixtar redux

First: relevant flashback

The present. The following is a transcription (not verbatim) of a recent conversation. The players: YT and two friends A and B. Other friends were present as well, hence phrases like "all around the table" appear.

A (to YT): So I met this guy from your college the other day at a Wal*Mart ...
[murmurs all around the table ... Quixtar, Amway]
A: No he didn't start the usual "business proposal" nonsense; Nice fellow; There's a yachting club or something near your college ...?
YT: Yes, the Boat Club; what was this fellow's name?
A (searches wallet): He gave me his business card ...
[more murmurs ... aha!] Aah. Here.
YT (looks at the card; smiles; laughs): Quixtar, dude. I know this guy ... (YT proceeds with the flashback)
[B is laughing]
B: What was his name again?
A, YT: ____________
B (laughing): Yep! I know this guy too.

Word of advice to the concerned individual: Given that statistically it's not so easy for you to rise up that pyramid to make a killing, and given that a lot of local people have already been warned about the likes of you, it might be a good idea to (a) relocate (b) quit hounding desiis and making "friendly desii in Wal*Mart" an unfortunate cliché (c) use this new-found confidence and glib demeanour for a good cause (like trying to convince enough people in power to lobby the US Government to revamp the procedures at the US consulate and to stop making the Green Card an NP-complete goal.


Rediff Movies has not 1 or 2 but SEVEN links dedicated to Smriti Irani and her birthday [today, March 23]. Take your pick from wishing her, to what she plans to do on her birthday, to a collection of old pages dealing with her first job (hint: selling herbal products; save yourself the trouble), how she made it big (always wanted to know that ... how TF did she make it big?!?!), a chat transcript titled, true to Rediff's penchant for inaccurate hyperbole, I don't watch 'Kyunki' (I don't either, but I reap no rewards), another chat transcript (continuing to honour the tradition) titled Cricket is depressing (I don't watch cricket so I wouldn't know) and finally, if you have nothing else to fill your day with other than Russian Roulette with a gun full of blanks, spend a day with "India's favourite bahu" (boo hoo).

WTFF! This post has not 1 or 2 but SEVEN links dedicated to Smriti Irani ...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Shiva: not for the faint of heart

A trailer (RealMovie) for the Hindi edition of RGV's Shiva [more here] is out. The taglines seem a little too amateur, but the impact of the violence is undeniable. Strong Shool vibes so far, instead of any sign of the Shiva that made RGV famous or the James that sent people running to the hills for mercy. Current RGV favourite Mohit "James" Ahlawat plays a cop fresh out of the academy who is appalled by the harsh reality of the world around him; his co-star from James, Nisha "uninhibited-Urmila-clone" Kothari, plays a crime reporter. Déjà vu. No attempt's being made to try and provide audiences with a "novel" story. It's all going to be an exercise in execution (no pun intended). Don't mind. Give me a nicely executed no-nonsense action flick instead of a brain-dead In your face, Sanjay Gupta [last post in that series]
aah interface{thanks to an initial tip from Vivek, a /. post, an article with tech tidbits and a nice post on the Google Blog}

Google Finance is out in beta. The interface uses a familiar mix of Flash and AJAX. I use Google Analytics so the charts felt a bit familiar. But it's been a while since a Google product release had me going. Can't get over that interface.

The pilot was a 20% time project @ Google's Bangalore office. This gives me something positive to say about Bangalore (I've been grumpy about that place and all the mind-numbing "IT" work it supports).

Monday, March 20, 2006

Quayles have always made reliable foreign service men [March 05, 2006]

Imagine a thriller that works its narrative with talk and memories, a thriller that seems more like the discovery of love from reminiscences, a thriller that feels like a hypnotic dream with the bittersweet ache of futility. That's how I'd remember The Constant Gardener. The titular character is a diligent almost boring diplomat, whose wife has been murdered. In trying to find out who did it, he learns more about his wife and the complex contract of their love.

Flashbacks are combined with the present in a montage of shots and frames that, although often frenetic with activity, takes you from one room to another in a dream world. This is not what you would expect from a thriller, but it's probably what you'd expect from Le Carré. I have not read any of his books and this is the first adaptation of his work for the screen that I've seen. But there seems to be a lot in common with things in Graham Greene's universe (consider The Quiet American). Despite containing elements of one man's struggle against a large evil corporation, the film is really all about Justin and Tessa. Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz admirably make these parts their own and Pete Postlethwaite makes the most of his cameo.

There's a sense of detachment to Justin's crusade for the truth and this detachment spills over as we react to his plight. We empathise with his loss, we share his reactions to every discovery he makes, but we aren't profoundly affected by the events that affect him. The sense of detachment imbues the film with a larger (almost theatrical) sense of tragedy making it (paradoxically perhaps) more effect as human drama.

This is a film that will thwart your expectations if you're looking for slick chase sequences, gun battles, explosions, wisecracks and the like. But if you're looking for intelligent conversation and the exploration of grief, loss and love, this is one hell of a rewarding experience. The soundtrack's a great complement to the mood, and Ayub Ogada's Kothibiro, which seems to function as the film's unofficial theme, will stay with you long after the end credits are over.

Niggling detail: There's a character of Indian origin who's on Justin's side named Ghita Pearson. I'm not sure why Le Carré spelled that name as "Ghita"; shouldn't it be Gita/Geeta?

Here's one for the Apostrophe Protection Society: CDs appears as CD's in one of the subtitles

Sunday, March 19, 2006

the fine line between morals and religious tenets

Thanks to a generous post on a blog that shares a name with this space (nothing in common, really), I caught a recording on a 1986 episode of Crossfire. Musician Frank Zappa was in the seat as a spokesperson of music makers for free speech and his articulate and deft fielding of the questions might surprise a lot of people. The show often devolves into a shout-fest predicated on semantics and dangling questions and Zappa seems like the only one who manages to stay calm. My favourite moment involves semantics to some extent, but is an interesting point of the conception and perception of morality. Zappa is asked to provide one example to support his assertion that the United States is moving towards a fascist theocracy (the other person in the extract is John Lofton, who was at that time a Washington Times columnist):

Zappa: When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion, and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view and if that code happens to be very very right-wing almost toward Atilla the Hun...
Lofton (interrupts): Well then you are an anarchist. Every form of civil government is based on some kind of morality, Frank
Zappa: Morality in terms of behaviour not in terms of theology

That was 20 years ago. I'm not sure things got better (the comparative degree implies that they were good then; and in retrospect, they might've been, although you can't extend that generosity to the time of the HUAC and the KKK).

Aside: Although I've heard some of the work by Mothers of Invention my memories of the music aren't strong. However, I have Zappa to thank for the most interesting song title I've ever heard: Prelude to an Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask.

new applicants for the Bollywood star shop

Neha Kapur {Miss India (Universe)}, Natasha Suri {Miss India (World)} and Amruta Patki {Miss India (Earth)} ("Earth" is no doubt a geographical entity overshadowed by the metaphysical "World"). A news bit also contains the names of the judges and attributes some interesting actions (my italics) to them:

Judges Tarun Tahiliani, Neha Dhupia, reader Vaishali Rajapurkar, Karisma Kapur, Suneet Verma, Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra, Zayed Khan, Rakshanda Khan, Karan Johar entertained the audience as and when they spoke.

Mini Mathur and Madhavan played the perfect host with their wit and humor.

Looks like the judges deserve an award for having the perfect thing to say every time. Tough job that! And it must've been interesting to see Mini Mathur and Madhavan play the same role -- Jekyll and Ms Hyde?

addendum: Can't believe I missed the use of an editor (Microsoft Word I presume) with an English (US) language set [betrayed by that word "humor" in the extract above]!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

how to wake up ROTFLYAO

Jaya Prada is taking to producing AND singing. And she's singing hip-hop [see also: Mr. Prime Minister]. With Bappi and Adnan Sami. Bappi does the mu[sic]al honours again. Seriously though, B-mongers may rejoice. This is the stuff to treasure, not (terii yaad(2)) * 2.

Incidentally, has anyone noticed the faint likeness between Himesh Reshammiya and #me? Might explain why the former does his best[sic] for the latter ...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

one way to get proof that a software vendor's eating its own dogfood (in a manner of speaking)

In an attempt to get a referesher on pessimistic locking in database, YT fired off a Google search. The first result was a page (AskTom "SELECT FOR UPDATE cursors") on AskTom. An attempt to access this page got me a fairly ugly (characteristic of Oracle, really) page that sported a terse (characteristic of Oracle, again) message:


Just goes to show ...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

kyaa sh*t banaayaa, kyaa sh*t banaayaa, kyaa sh*t banaayaa aap ne

[February 11, 2006]

Love Takes Over is the tagline for the directorial début of Anand Bakshi's grandson Aaditya (numerologically achieving iTrans-friendliness there, minus the capitalisation) Dutt, Aashiq Banaya Aapne. The only notable element in the film is the inclusion of the title in hindi and urdu as well in the opening credits -- a standard thing in the past, but something that has vanished from crop of films over the last few years, which have relied of packaging sub-standard clichéd Hindi dialogue-fests in English wrapping paper.

Those professional yet boring credits are also the only effective thing in the film. What follows is a love triangle that has already been done to death with a twist that has already been done to death. For his cast, AD chooses three of the finest pieces of termite-resistant wood on the market: Sonu Sood, the plywood pillar in the Neha Dhupia dupe-fest Sheesha and Emraan #me, Mahesh Bhatt's nephew, who would've had a great career as a porn star but has chosen instead to besmirch the filmscape with his slap-friendly visage are the male vertices of the triangle. Brokeback Mountain jokes aside (and there are some in the film!), the female vertex is played by Miss India 2004, Tanushree Dutta. This was supposed to TD's début film, but that honour[sic] went to Chocolate, the most surreal rip-off of 2005. While SS tries to get some acting chops seasoned with attempts at doing what Sanjay Dutt did in Saajan (hint: amorous sleepwalking), #me indulges in his patent-pending I'm-so-cool bad boy kitty, TD sports her wares with abandon -- no attempts are made in the acting department; this is all about flesh and titillation.

With #me and TD one expects #me to do the kissing (just like people expected Salman Khan to go topless in his movies) and TD to be at the receiving end of the liplock (besides sporting her wares, but we've already covered -- no pun intended -- that). The title song is dedicated to this big moment in the film as #me and TD grope, and sniff, and kiss; there's #me sniffing and feeling TD while lip-synching to the words; then you have a backless TD shot. All in all, eye candy in the family-friendly porn department. If ogling is all you came here for (don't tell me you came in for the wonderful story and acting), this is the only thing you need worry about. Make no mistake: despite the presence of the hog called #me, this film is devoted solely to the assets of TD.

Weird scene: At one point TD's giving #me a ride home. They stop; TD says "meraa ghar aa gayaa"; #me gets off and goes into his house. Was the screenwriter/continuity manager/director sleeping?

On the ribaldry front, we have a scene of scatalogical humour, double entendres involving Mona Lisa's assets, retorts that TD take her top off (helpful hint: she doesn't); and a situational cheapie involving a guy scratching his crotch.

Musically, just about every song's been reported/rumoured to be a rip-off. And yet the disgustingly specious and irritating style[sic] of Himesh Reshammiya's catchy mainstream musical flair[sic] is evident in every pore of the score. This guy's nasal RDB-wannabe intonation puts Kumar Sanu to shame.

There's a Bhatt angle to AD's sorry flick -- which would explain all the familiar vibes of boredom, couch cramps and ennui-driven aggression that you feel as you watch three forms of life infest the screen and your senses. AD's been an assistant to Bhatt protégé Tanuja Chandra.

AD must've been really proud of what he had wrought -- there's graffiti on the wall in the basketball scenes that reads "ADI RULES." Truly.

The only person who manages to stay sober and deliver the goods in this sorry flick is veteran Navin Nischol. His calm and patience are admirable and a big fat sore thumb in yet another paean to mainsteam moronity (underscored only by Reshammiya winning the Filmfare award for Best Playback Singer for his nasal impassioned rendering of the title song).

awesome subtitle award winner:tuu merii hasarato.n kaa jahaa.N gets translated as you are the fountainhead of my desires

priyadarshan originality alert

Consider an Indian avataar of Pinocchio. Let's give him a desii moustache and sunglasses. Since Pinocchio's a foreign name, we have to "adapt" it to fit the desii palette. So, his name becomes Priyadarshan.

After having showered cinema halls with the fruits (Garam Masala, Kyon Ki, ) of his filmmaking incontinence the multi-tier remake raajaa has now unleashed the force of Malamaal Weekly (how iTrans-unfriendly!) upon us. And he also loads his interviews with interesting quotes:

"I have had my fill of remakes. Both 'Kyon Ki' and 'Garam Masala' were remakes of my own Malayalam films. My next release, 'Malamaal Weekly', is totally and absolutely original. I am willing to offer a prize money to anyone who catches me out remaking anything this time"

image courtesy:

This is a golden opportunity, dear readers, to milk the cash cow. As noted before in this space over a year ago and again recently, this is nothing but a Bollywood-isation of Waking Ned Devine. Be warned, however. P might actually argue semantics when you approach him for the prize -- after all, he might've meant that he had had his fill of remaking his own movies (some remakes themselves, to begin with). Almost like buying clothes from the tailors in India instead of getting them at your friendly neighbourhood Rich's-Macy's. This is in keeping with Bollywood's recent confidence in illicitly adapting source material even before the authorised American versions hit the marquee (Zinda, Naina).

He also can't leave the Malayali thread hanging can he?:

"I am in a totally original frame of mind this time. In fact, 'Malamaal Weekly' is already being remade into Malayalam by my assistant Murli"

As if that wasn't enough for a trumpet solo, he ensues into a brass flourish in an interview where he compares this rip-off to Malgudi Days. Time for Swami and friends to re-enact Ankush:

What finally inspired you to make an original Hindi film?
Oh, that has a very simple answer — I have exhausted all my films that could be remade for a national audience!

Who are your own icons as a filmmaker?
Well, I was a fan of Bharathan, Bharati Raja and Mani Ratnam. But at one point, I myself realised that I had crossed them. Though I have liked many recent films, none of them has stunned me into thinking, 'Man! Why can't I make something like that!'

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

oscar's pahaa.Dii crash (scattered thoughts)

Crash's Best Picture win that closed the censored slick soulless 78th Annual Academy Awards show on Sunday, March 05, 2006 has provided ammunition for articles and opinions for days to come. Jon Stewart remained unfortunately too restrained to be consistently effective. He's much better as his unfettered self on The Daily Show. Bring back Billy Crystal. The funniest part of the show was the montage of old Westerns with a "Brokeback Mountain" hint. The set design this time mimicked the old theatre with the nominations and names of presenters appearing on the marquee. The performances were dull, the performance of the winning song featured bleeps, the "X for nominee" ads were nice, George Clooney wasn't as abrasive as I had hoped he would be, and Steven Spielberg's Munich had to be content with 0 awards and being fodder for a fairly amusing joke about a Jewish trilogy. Stewart's "Three 6 Mafia 1, Scorsese 0" was a sad pointer to another gifted talent being shunned by the Academy. Looks like a Lifetime Achievement Award is the only thing he'll get. Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep managed a good dig at the trademark overlapping dialogue in Robert Altman films before the man himself arrived to accept his Lifetime Achievement Award. Then followed a segment of quiet dignity with his acceptance speech. Lauren Bacall looked like a ghost of her former self and while the film noir montage she presented was marginally interesting, it wasn't so nice to see her forget her words and fumble. Buried in the tiresome opening sequence depicting the search for a show host was a faux promo in Yucatec Maya for Mel Gibson's Apocalypto. Aishwarya fans got their thrills with her L'Oreal ad popping up in one of the breaks. Manoj Night Shyamalan did a 2 minute-long ad for American Express that referenced stuff from his films. Given that films in the competition covered subjects as diverse as homosexuality, racism, the McCarthy era, literary journalism, terrorism, and the attempts of a Memphis pimp to become a successful rapper, this was just about as dull as it got. All in all, lotsa icing, stillborn cake.

Raja Sen does a nicely written job of his reactions to the results:

I fear the Oscars, like our desi award shows, have begun to play it safe, distributing their awards to all the 'major' nominees, spreading them thin so that while the Film goes home happy, the Director won't complain too much either.

The most famous desii award show happens to be the Filmfare Awards (this year's edition concluded recently). The Oscars might seem like they're getting more disappointing, but a retrospective will yield lots of interesting stories. People are analysing patterns, indulging in speculation about motives. Despite the elaborate attempt to be fair, these awards, like all others, are a result of subjective thought. They represent an opinion. You don't have to agree with the results; you can use the results to augment your Netflix queue; you can debate the choices over several idle evenings. What will continue to endure is the slick presentation of the affair, although I sense an increasing detachment over the years. The Filmfare Awards show can never get to this point. We'll continue with the self-congratulatory cheap tamaashaa for years to come (and we're getting worse faster than the Oscars are perceived to be).

You can find more theories on why a film about racism trumped a film about homosexuality in an article by Jack Matthews.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

more linguish {last post in thread}

The either ... or construct accomodates exactly two entities. Nothing more, nothing less. It's either two or none. Get it? So sentences leaking with dangling appendages to this construct are shameful: you can have either apples or oranges or mangoes. A Rediff ode to the musical[sic] talents[sic] of chhoTaa B contains another example of the crime: t is unlikely that the new rap will fit into either of these three, so let's wait for more news of Bollywood's coolest rapper.. I wonder if they've got programmers as proof-readers; after all, writing switch-case blocks can get to you ...

Joginder Tuteja should file a for patent on the most egregious abuse of the word capitulate. Consider the review of the soundtrack for the #me starrer Jawani Diwani (which qualifies for titular abuse, but that's another post). We have the fragment Though the singing is fine, the song lacks the fire that could capitulate it to the top of the charts. And if you thought that was just a freak occurrence, try the reviews of the soundtracks of 99.9 FM: Nothing is 100% (nice compilation; what happened to the movie?) and Chanda ki Doli. To capitulate has nothing to do with elevating something to the height of a cap ... so cap it!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

0618 10:46:5:12 10:46:54:00

The only reason John Matthew Matthan's second directorial plunge Shikhar (iTrans-friendly title; few points for that) qualifies for the same reaction as Zinda is that this guy was responsible for a film called Sarfarosh, which, despite its mainstream trappings, the irritating Sonali Bendre and Aamir Khan (who always gives me the impression that he's trying too hard to be believable), had some merit and could hardly portend this soporific dumpling. You wouldn't want to touch it with a yeevil. Be it the watered-down echoes of Wall Street (Gordon Gecko becomes Gaurav Gupta; right!); the John Abraham cameo and a whole reflexive dig on the John/Bipasha tandem and Abraham's food poisoning; the pleasure of hearing Sushant Singh spout chaste Hindi diluted by the fact that it's meant for laughs, the Tom Cruise-ean future of Shahid Kapur (the only stroke of acting smarts he manages to pull off comes with his expression as he discovers thanks to a bloody hand that he is wounded); the kaamawaalii baaii aesthetic of Bipasha Basu; the ineffectual doe-eyed expressions of Amrita Rao, the numerous songs spiking the film in typical 90s fashion; Ajay Devgan's aggravating brown hairdo; non-existent character development; Jawed Sheikh's wimpy maudlin do-gooder; the reassurance that Farah (credited with her full name -- the first time? -- Farah Naaz here) hasn't improved over the years; the listless expository specious dialogue; the clichéd cutting during the title song [Jagjit goes bahate huye jharano.n me.n tuu hai and we cut to a running stream; Jagit goes pa.nchhii kii u.Daano.n me.n tuu hai and we cut to a flying bird] and to introduce fragments that we can predict thanks to having watched numerous such assembly-line flicks; the useful note that two strokes of an axe by Shahid Kapoor are enough to split a water pipe; and, of course, the generous plug for Sintex tanks.

Madan Mohan composed several tunes for dil Dhuu.NDhataa hai two of which made it to the final soundtrack of Mausam and one got butchered years later in viiruu zardaa; Viju Shah gets to do two tunes for dhiire dhiire, but it's an experiment best relished (like the rest of the soundtrack) without the visuals. If this is what JMM's idea of a shikhar is, I think it's time he quit the shirshaasan and got down to making something worth talking about.

Incidentally, the title comes from the best subtitle in the film. I have no idea what it was doing there -- no one on screen was saying anything that matched these numbers. Perhaps it's the subtitler's version of the Duh Wincci Code. The runner-up was "Giza" for "Pisa."

update: [march 04, 2006] For a potent extended take packed with acerbic rib-ticklers and critical notes I am pleased to point you to Nakul's review.

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