Thursday, December 13, 2007

more SATYA trivia

While opening his PFC post pitching for Sudhir Mishra's Khoya Khoya Chand, Anurag Kashyap drops a nugget of trivia about Satya:

Satya, the much celebrated cult classic of this country was conceived after Ramu saw Iss raat.. infact[sic] Sudhir was asked to work on it in the beginning before getting the famous Ramu Indifference treatment..

In a wonderful world, this would've been enough incentive to have a DVD of Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin on the stalls. But this would fall right next to the other scenario from the wonderful world: in anticipation of Khoya Khoya Chand's release, stores have DVDs of previous Sudhir Mishra ventures on display. Alas, this is far from a wonderful world despite what Satchmo had to say.

the moon returneth?

In a wonderful post on PFC, Sudhir Mishra offers some background on his latest release Khoya Khoya Chand with some especially enlightening notes on the songs. The following extract might explain Shantanu Moitra's filching of Jingle Bell Rock (something that JR brings out in his notes on the soundtrack):

Three of the songs in the film, namely the cabaret, the mujra and the piano song "khushboo sa" , "chale aao saiyan", "yeh nigahen", are referential. They have to deliberately remind you of similar songs. "Yeh Nigahen" for example has to deliberately sound like other western songs. Like yeh hai bambai meri jaan is actually O my darling Clementine.

The highest point of the post comes with the following extract:

I do wish to at some day make a sequel to Hazaaron. And now that I hear Chitrangada is coming back at least to do a film with me. That's great. You could write the sequel many ways but you can’t write it without Geeta.

There's a shard on TOI that adds more fat to this fire. If this is indeed true, the vanishing lady will find a horde of fans waiting.

On a related note, if anyone has seen the DVD for Ruchi Narain's Kal:Yesterday and Tomorrow, please drop me a note.

February 16, 2008: Chitrangada's slated to play Chandramukhi as a socialite in Sudhir Mishra's Aur Devdas and she's also on board for Sorry Bhai, the third directorial venture of Onir (My Brother Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal).

March 14, 2008: More proof from the sets of Sorry Bhai. The location of the first shot added an ironic echo to the video Sanjay Suri and Chitrangda Singh had featured in for the Vishal/Gulzar collaboration Sunset Point (The production house for the film (Anticlock Films) takes its name from the club in Bas ek Pal)

April 01, 2008: A Rediff interview treads familiar ground, but features a few more photographs of the lovely lady.

April 13, 2008: ad filmmaker Abhinay Deol has her interest for Delhi Belly, a comedy of the risqué kind set in Delhi (duh!); while she awaits the script there are talks of roping Aamir Khan in as well.

April 15, 2008: Tehelka has a nice article, which includes a note that Vishal Bhardwaj was among those that had wanted to work with her. Now that she's back, one hopes that the opportunity to see the two talents work together.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

a pitch for matinees and morning shows

David Bordwell's latest post begins with a paean to the matinee and its merits, chief of which would be cost:

It's cheaper, and the auditorium is depopulated. Sometimes I'm the only person there. I know, movies are supposed to be seen with a big audience; but I've seldom liked the experience of a packed house. Does the humble worshipper in the temple need a congregation to confirm his faith? Isn't it best to commune with the deity alone? More to the point: Even before the advent of cellphones, somebody always coughs or talks at the wrong time.

If there are any other people around during my matinees, they are likely to be elderly folks, misfits, losers, idlers, and troublemakers. This makes me feel superior. But then I realize that to an objective observer, I could fit into any of those categories.

When faced with a choice, I've preferred a Regal multiplex to an AMC haunt. Regal sports larger halls and better sound. With rising ticket prices, a matinee or morning show at a Regal multiplex offered the best value. Ticket prices have gone all the way to $10 ($9 for students and senior citizens) for a regular evening show while matinee prices have risen to $8 (no discounts here; one price to fleece them all). Enter AMC with a new programme called, fittingly in a punny way, AM Cinema (it's over a year old now). This knocks down the price of a ticket for a show before noon on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays to as low as $4, $5 or $6 depending on where you are. This makes for the most lucrative movie deal around as far as I can tell. If you can find a large AMC multiplex (24 screens wouldn't hurt), you can strike a compromise between the viewing experience and the withering wallet.

That page sports an example of the abuse of the either/or construct: A.M.Cinema invites moviegoers to visit their local AMC theatre before noon on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays to enjoy first-run movies for either $4.00, $5.00 or $6.00 depending on theatre and market.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

thought tapas

Sunidhi Chauhan's managed to be the voice behind not one but two attempts to revisit classic Bollywood songs -- ye meraa dil for Farhan Akhtar's Don: The Chase Begins and mahabuubaa in Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag. I wonder if there were other such instances in the last couple of years.

Alisha Chinai's album Shut Up N Kiss Me with its basket full of lyricists (including the lady herself), a collaboration with Apache Indian and Ravi Bal handling most of the music, arrangement and production went by without notching enough appreciation from lovers of trash. The title track alone was worth the price of aural admission. The arrangements mix in everything including haunted castle howls and doo-wop ad libs, while AC's lyrics mix cheeky references (jaa jaa kajaraa re) and conjure a refrain that excavates obscure relationships between fruits and vegetables as well elements from evolution for poetic metaphor:

tuu hai kashmiirii seb / mai.n huu.N bambaii kaa aaluu
[translation: you're a apple from Kashmir / I'm a spud from Bombay]
tuu hai a.ngrezii babe / mai.n huu.N bholaa bhaaluu
[translation: you're an English lass / I'm a simple bear (aka they call me Bjorn the Buffoon)]

Wonder if that was a "back at ya" dig at Anu Malik's paen to the potato in Mr. and Mrs. Khiladi.

Vikram Bhatt's Fear (formerly known as Rooh) was supposed to make a splash with an Internet-and-DVD-only release on Friday, July 13, 2007. I'm not sure what happened to the film, but I do remember something from the cover of the CD of the soundtrack. Right next to the title is the Hindi word Dar followed by an ellipsis and then an extra 'ra'; would this represent a numerological first in devanaagarii? And then there's a note from the director himself on the back: if the music of raaz haunted you for years...fear will haunt you for centuries. There's an interesting pattern to a couple of recent Vikram Bhatt films. He made Speed, which, despite its name was based not on the Reeves/Hopper/Bullock flick, but the Basinger/Evans flick Cellular; and Aetbaar was a ripoff of the Wahlberg/Witherspoon flick Fear; and now we have Fear, which probably has nothing to do with the English film of the same name, but something to do with some other film.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

count the strokes that spell love

The vapid incompetent Dhai Akshar Prem Ke now stands shining in the record books as the first film where Bollywood's hottest married couple Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai showed up as a lead pair. As far as counts go, Dhaaii (21/2) was right too with the pr representing a full pa and a half ra of sorts, graced by a maatraa and followed by the full ma. A few several years ago, a Madhuri/Govinda starrer called Izzatdaar boasted a song called yaad rakhiyo ye chaar akshar pyaar ke, penned by the reliable Anand Bakshi and scored in the predictable strings-and-membranophone style of Laxmikant-Pyarelal. The problem with that line is that pyaar is structurally quite alike prem, chalking up a score of 2.5 as far as akshars are concerned. Yet, Mr. Bakshi breaks new ground and shatters the ceiling by raising the number to 4. One plausible explanation is that the creative muse was the English word love. This was cross-lingual travesty came a year before the lyricist/composer-duo combination heaved the acronymous annoyance of ILU on the cringing populace in Subhash Ghai's Saudagar.

Friday, November 02, 2007

julia, fearless nadia and shakespeare

LL's comment on the last post exploring Vishal's next directorial venture preempted this post by a few several seconds. Vishal's next is most assuredly based on the life of Mary Evans aka Fearless Nadia. Moreoever, there's evidence that Gulzar's working on the lyrics for the film. This puts to rest any questions about whether this was to be the songless film that Vishal has talked about in the past.

In other news, the Big B seems to have let the cat out of the bag as far as Vishal's next (and final?) edition in his Shakespeare trilogy (Douglas Adams had a trilogy in five parts, so don't get slimy with me about semantics). At a screening of Rituparno Ghosh's The Last Lear at The Times BFI 51st London Film Festival, he noted that he was going to be part of Vishal's adaptation of King Lear: He also added that the film will be out in 2008 and the script is currently being worked on and will get over by the end of this year. Vishal is denying this for the moment. Given that he's currently working on Julia (and maintaining a silence about the details), one can conclude that the Big B collaboration might be the next film on his plate:

[...] rumour mills are rife that Vishal Bhardwaj's next production will be based on King Lear. But he says no. "This time it won't be Shakespeare. I can do other things too," said Vishal, who was at the South Asian Film Festival with wife and singer Rekha. "I'm ready with another script and the shooting will begin shortly," he said.

Things are getting a bit too Lear-y here, although it might just be fortuitous coincidence; after all Ghosh' film, based on the late Utpal Dutt's play Aajker Shahjahan, merely appears to reference Shakespeare; an adaptation of the play would do more than that. Just like Macbeth (the source for Maqbool), there's a Kurosawa adaptation to savour.

One wonders if Vishal's ever going to attack Julius Caesar, since he's voiced that thought before.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

conscientiousness and convenience

There are those among us who do not have a washer/dryer unit in their apartment and tackle their laundry at laundromats either within the apartment complex or without. One of the things we have to remember to do when we toss our wet clothes into the dryer is to clean the lint filter. The conscientious ones in our midst also clean the lint filter after the dry cycle is complete. Since the conscientious continue to remain a minority (an empirical conclusion), we are rarely spared the need to clean the lint filter before our dry cycle. The conscientious way of life drives us to clean the lint filter twice, while a lack of conformance means that we skip clean the lint filter after our dry cycle. The suppression of conscientious feelings thus allows us to get away with cleaning the lint filter just once: when we need it the most. The conscientious are also probably fretting about the need for washing the lint filter regularly. This, perhaps thankfully, is out of our control, since the laundromats are managed by another entity, from whom we can expect some due diligence.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

as Dhaal as it gets

[cross-posted on the Passion For Cinema blog]
Responsible for Divyashakti, an adequately downbeat tale of revenge driven by principles and loss bolstered by an interesting villain, Tau (pronounced: taauu), played by Amrish Puri and two films with Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan (Main Khiladi Tu Anari, a rip-off of The Hard Way and Keemat), Sameer Malkan was last heard of when he finished a songless thriller shot in New York City and Philadelphia called Lips: The Kiss Of Death starring Anuj "KKusum" Saxena and Maushmi Udeshi. Despite getting the skin bits excised and getting slapped with an A certificate, the film reportedly still hasn't made it to the marquee (or did it just quietly get out on DVD?). The film's about the development and consequences of the crush an illegal Indian in the US has on the enigmatic young sexy wife of a middle-aged millionaire.

aparaadh tabhii ruk jaaye jab ye kaalaa koT ban jaaye khaakii vardii kii Dhaal

That's the tail of Raza Murad's voiceover, which builds a crescendo to the opening titles for Dhaal, a film that, as the tagline tells us, is about the battle of law against law. Someone must've found the premise thrilling: On one hand we have the police officer's uniform representing the honest losing struggle against social evil; on the other, the lawyer's coat representing the abuse of legal manoeuvres that kept the evil-doers of society out of prison and powerful in the streets; Justice would truly be served (with fries and a drink, no doubt) when the lawyer's coat wrapped the police officer's uniform (not unlike paper wrapping stone) to protect it and strengthen its endeavours instead of pre-empting its every victory with bail applications and dismissed cases.

The need to subscribe to the Bollywood formula and an attempt to find a solution to the knapsack problem of clichés, however, can only mean that the idea was destined to go to seed at the first cry of "Action!" Having Sunil Shetty (as Suraj) on the cast roster only seals the deal. Despite being sandwiched between the likes of Vinod Khanna and Danny Denzongpa, this well-done beefcake manages a coup with the stuff he pulls off on the reels:
* he gets to romance the likes of Anjali Jathar
* he gets to write "Anjali Dewan" (Anjali Jathar) as the amount on the clichéd blank cheque that Danny offers him (Java programmers will note that this would cause a NumberFormatException)
* he gets framed in an illicit situation with the likes of Kunika
* he gets tons of tips on life from the likes of Ram Mohan
* he gets to lip-synch to songs sung by the likes of Anu Malik and Kumar Sanu
* he gets to fake it at playing the violin (while la femme Jathar does the sax-y honours)
* he gets to call Dewan (Danny) up and tell him that he plans to rape Anjali (Anjali Jathar)
* he gets to use a rod to knock a plane out of action and cause it to screech to a halt with the sound of car brakes
* he manages to rope in his garment outlet "Mischief" as one of the costume suppliers

Anu Malik's contributions to this tank of tropes cover some more requirements:
* dil maa kaa diinaa (one of many Macarena rip-offs): introduces the hero to the audience, serves as a plug for Air India, gets on your nerves especially when the music director steps up to the microphone
* gussaa ussaa chho.D / dil na meraa to.D (with lines like "just shut up and get lost" and "drop dead" tossed in for effect): introduces the romantic(!) pair, features the obligatory perfunctory anger that melts away
* whisky whisky whisky whisky whisky kisane bolaa whisky hai risky: reiterates the importance of liquor in movies about family, friendship and felons, provides another example of how difficult it is to be convincing as a tipsy toot
* haasil mazaa hai terii mulaaqaat kaa mujhe: attempts to cover the need for a fantasy sequence that emerges as a non sequitur in the narrative, provides evidence of the inability of the lead pair to pretend to play one or more musical instruments
* chhuo naa chhuo naa (with a female chorus lending conviction to refrains like "the night is young, touch me, touch me" and "the night is young, look at me, look at me"): serves as the item song in the presence of the villain of the film, serves as a chance for the actor playing the villain to warble, should he choose to (and in this film, he does)

In fulfilling the need for a comic track that doesn't need to have anything to do with the rest of the film, the film manages a coup by eliciting the services of the late Laxmikant Berde to play the villain's annoying son Dodo (that's his name; I kid you not), who keeps bringing prostitutes home as prospective spouses.

tumane apane paa.Nv se utanii dhuul nahii.n u.Daayii hogii bachche jitanii daulat hamane apane haatho.n se u.Daaii hai

(Dewan to Suraj)

One of the most extended pieces of product placement ever seen in Bollywood comes for Pari Basmati Rice (YT is unsure if this is a real brand or something made up to fill reel time and space in the film). In a scene set in a godown and sporting one of Anil Dhawan's many forgettable cameos, the merits of this brand are extolled ( pure white baasamatii rice, dii best chaawal in the world) and pun-laded groan-inducing one-liners are tossed at the helpless audience within and without the film ( log to pulis kii aa.Nkho.n me.n dhuul jho.nkate hai.n magar ham pulis kii aa.Nkho.n me.n chaawal jho.nke.nge). Anil Dhawan's character Sachdeva notes that although he doesn't drink, he will definitely relish the biryani made from this rice. This serves as a cue for some verbal diarrhoea from the villain dedicated to plugging the brand:

bhuuk lage to chaa.nd bhii roTii nazar aatii hai
(haa haa haa haa haa)
aage hai zamaanaa par bhuuk piichhe piichhe
saarii duniyaa kii baadii are do roTii ke niichhe
are chama.De kii jhopaDiyaa me.n aag lagii hai bhaiyaa
barkhaa naa bujhaaye bas bujhaaye rupaiyaa
aur phir bhii bhare na peT
to yaad aatii hai yaaro.n parii rice plate

Arun Govil might rank second only to Parikshit Sahni in playing characters who are destined to die in the course of a film. He does not disappoint here as he plays the world-weary Devdhar, who pulls out a tuft of hair from a goon's head near the opening of the film and then meets his end several reels later when a truck runs him over. It is probably only when this happens that we find out what his character's name is. His dying nonsense about living an empty life, however, seems like an unnecessary attempt at character development too late in the game. This is Arun Govil. He was meant to die. No words are necessary.

Director Sameer Malkan, writers Rajeev Kaul and Praful Parekh and dialogue writer Madan Joshi seem to have decided to devote all their creative attention to the villain of the piece, Pilot Baba, a name that came from the desire of his father, an airplane mechanic, that he become a pilot. Pilot Baba never managed to learn to fly planes (hawaaii jahaaz u.Daanaa), but managed to earn his chops bumping people off (aadamii u.Daanaa). Amrish Puri plays Pilot Baba with hammy relish right from his introductory scene in a cemetery on a rainy day. Dressed in a pilot's uniform (something that never changes until the end of the film), he looks on as a guy digs his own grave. When the guy protests that it's not right to bury a living man, Pilot Baba settles the issue with cold logic and a fatal bullet and then mouths the first of many snatches of dialogue laced with aerodynamic references: hamaare take-off me.n rukaavaT paidaa karane waale kaa yahii hashr hotaa hai kyo.n ki pilot baabaa kii flight me.n kabhii brake nahii.n lagatii. When one of his aides, who wears a red jacket in what might be an unintentional tribute to the phenomenon unleashed by the original Star Trek, is found to be guilty of betrayal, Pilot Baba snuffs him out and intones usane gaddaarii kii isaliye pilot baabaa ne usakii zi.ndagii kaa engine switch off kar Daalaa . Two of his other metaphor-laden lines appear later, one when referring to Inspector Varun Saxena (Vinod Khanna) (usane mere gusse ke gas station ko maachis dikhaayii hai) and the other when talking to Dewan (Danny) ( chalo mere saath fauran waranaa mai.n usake puliis sTeshan par bulldozer chalaakar use runway banaa duu.Ngaa).

It is with Pilot Baba that this film strikes gold. Aside from that, the iTrans-friendly title and a vertigo zoom in the final moments, this presentation from the JVG Group (which also manages to sneak a shot of its office in the film) suffers for focusing on the clichés instead of the camp.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

it's much better to be in india for interesting hindi movies

The recently revamped tridium of Galaxy Cinemas seems to have decided not to exploit the multi in multiplex. While multiplexes back home have allowed films like Johnny Gaddar, Manorama Six Feet Under and Loins Of Punjab Presents to breathe at the marquee, the Atlanta tridium of sub-grade desii viewing stalls continues to rely on big names and standard business patterns to choose filmi fare for viewers willing to shell out $$ to sit in passable seats laid out in a cavernous viewing hall with a sound system that barely meets the minimum statutory requirements. The recent playlist includes such memorable fare as Dhol, Dhamaal and, of course, the releases for this week, Bhool Bhulaiya and Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. Gone are the days when something like Darna Mana Hai would hit the marquee or when something like Ek Hasina Thi would show up at the now-defunct Marietta Star Cinema.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

vishal bhardwaj's next: julia

The "?" from the last post about this film may well be laid to rest. Vishal and Matthew Robbins were spotted in West Bengal scouting locations for Julia. Since he's signed on Franka "Lola" Potente for his docu-drama Julia, can we assume that this is the songless film he was talking about (link courtesy: LL) and not the musical he co-wrote (link courtesy: LL) with Matthew Robbins?

On an unrelated note: The wonderful soundtrack No Smoking, his latest collaboration with Gulzar and his second effort for Anurag Kashyap has been released and is as addictive a stimulant as the villain of Kashyap's film.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

a momentary lapse into literature

Thanks to samples from Aranyak, I now have another poet's work to explore -- Constantine P. Cavafy. The official website dedicated to his life and work offers his canon for perusal. Here are a few samples.

And he thinks of Prudence, how it fooled him,
how he always believed—what madness—
that cheat who said: "Tomorrow. You have plenty of time."
from An Old Man

A month passes by and brings another month.
Easy to guess what lies ahead:
all of yesterday’s boredom.
And tomorrow ends up no longer like tomorrow.
from Monotony

In trepidation and amid suspicions,
with agitated minds and frightened eyes, —
wasting away, — we plan how we should act
in order to escape the obvious peril
that so calamitously threatens us
from Ended

Sunday, September 23, 2007

when will the drums signal curtains for priyadarshan?

[last post in thread]

La gazza General returns to his pilfering ways with Dhol his newest stinker that hit theatres on Friday. His treasure chest is the ouevre of writing duo Siddique-Lal, which has previously yielded raw material for Hera Pheri (Ramji Rao Speaking), Hulchul (Godfather) and Bhagam Bhag (Mannar Mathai Speaking). He unearths In Harihar Nagar and proceeds to effect his own transformation, even though the path was already charted in the early 90s with Parda Hai Parda by K Bapaiah, the maker of such influential works as Mawaali, Majaal and Pyar Ka Mandir. That plagiarist duo Anand-Milind from Parda Hai Parda are replaced by the solo entrepreneur Pritam might be an indication that Priyadarshan might have chosen Bapaiah's effort instead of going straight to the source.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

the spelling bee stings cobb again

The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre only proves that the use of British spelling was not an anomaly. Perhaps there's something in Cobb's legislation. After all, they banned peanuts and peanut butter in Nickajack Elementary School.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

another little lift in zinda

A connection was forged between Darren Aronofsky and Sanjay Gupta thanks to the familiar Bollywood practice of appropriation without credit. The lounge version of Shibani Kashyap's zi.ndaa huu.N mai.n on the soundtrack for Zinda featured a male voice that ran through a list of medical treatments, which, presumably, given the content of the film, seemed like topical balderdash. The gnawing feeling that this had also come from something in Sanjay Gupta's DVD collection never went away. I wasn't wrong. The phrase in question (beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, adrenaline injections, high-dose ibuprofen) comes from Aronofsky's Sundance winner Pi, which achieved more with a slim budget and innovative cinematography than Gupta did with the money at his disposal and the DVDs he had (this film and Oldboy).

stairway to discovery

Running through a set of covers of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, I found a few interesting takes and names. The most interesting name would have to be that of a Norwegian cowboy orchestra -- Dusty Cowsh*t. The other one was Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine. While the name of the band plays on the name of RATM, the leader's name is a pseudonym that also doubles as a slang reference to nutzerella. Every other band member's name is also a pseudonym honouring the cheese motif and when people leave the band, their replacements continue to sport the pseudonym: Gordon Brie, Buddy Gouda, Frank Feta, Bobby Ricotta. Turophiles will probably remember the grandiose exploration of cheese in the Monty Python Flying Circus Cheese Shop sketch [transcript] [youtube video].

Thursday, September 13, 2007

november 26, 2007: celebration day

Page, Plant and the elusive Jones have confirmed a reunion for a gig at The O2 Arena in memory of Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegün. Bonzo's son Jason fills the spot at the skins. Ahmet was responsible for signing Led Zeppelin on after hearing their demos, convinced that he was onto something big. In an ironic echo of Communication Breakdown, the rush of an estimated 20 million people to claim 20 thousand seats in the arena brought the concert's website to its knees.

Dancing days are here again. Dance in the dark of night as the drums shake the castle wall and sends your head humming. We're gonna groove. [link courtesy: Amogh]

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

rgv kii aag ke gole: why bappi was not part of this sholay

While RGV faces the greatest drubbing since Daud and Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag gets set to depart from the marquee, one burning ember of a question still glowed for a while: Why did the soundtrack not feature a single song by Bappi Lahiri despite reports to that effect having circulated a long while ago? The rechristening of the film's principal characters and the consequent scramble seemed to have been responsible. As TheThiefWhoSuedAPlagiaristAndWon notes:

When we recorded the three songs, the movie was titled 'Sholay' but then it was suddenly changed to 'Aag'. Consequently there were modifications in the song situations in the scripts and my three compositions had to be withdrawn with my consent.

Thereafter Ramu and I amicably decided that we would use the same tune-tracks maybe with altered lyrics for his upcoming movies instead, since the melodies are really mind-blowing.

One awaits the explosion of the mind, unless the narrative ruin in The Factory portends economic bankruptcy.

Bappi takes a potshot at the quartet (Amar "Silencio" Mohile, Prasanna Shekhar, Ganesh "G" Hegde and Nitin "Mughal-e-Azam" Raikwar) responsible for the songs, while also indulging in his usual brand of self-marketing and explaining why he wasn't disheartened that his songs didn't make it to the track list:

because I have had a golden jubilee musical super-hit 'Aag Hi Aag' way back in 1987. On the flip side, I feel this exclusion was a blessing in disguise. Honestly speaking, I was not comfortable sharing my composing credits in the movie 'Aag' with those who are not the regular top-ranking music directors

We must also not forget the other fiery flick, Aag Ka Gola, which saw Bappi in fine form delivering songs like taubaa re taubaa haaye mere rabbaa ye kyaa Gazab kiyaa/jisako banaanaa thaa la.Dakii usako la.Dakaa banaa diyaa, sharaab chiiz hai burii, sharaab piinaa chho.D de and aayaa aayaa wo aayaa, a rip-off of the Hasan Jahangir hit hawaa hawaa ai hawaa. Such are the gifts we must cherish while we await the first(?) partnership between the self-deprecating maverick and the megalithic musicaster.

Monday, September 10, 2007

pluralist pleasure

[last related post]

The word data has been losing its status as a plural noun steadily. The last place I remember seeing a determined attempt to stop this descent was in the textbooks from Ullman, Widom and Molina at Stanford University. A fragment in Who's afraid of Google?, which appeared in the September 1st-7th issue of The Economist (the dead trees version of which came thanks to VKG's subscription), however, seems to indicate that the battle is still on:

Google's business model [...] assumes that people will entrust it with ever more information about their lives, to be stored in the company's "cloud" of remote computers. These data begin with the logs of a user's searches (in effect, a record of his interests) and his responses to advertisements. Often they extend to the user's e-mail, calendar, contacts, documents, spreadsheets, photos and videos. They could soon include even the user's medical records and precise location (determined from his mobile phone).

Saturday, September 08, 2007

whacko titles

In 2005, Shravan Rathod (the right hand side of the hyphenated Bollywood soundtrack generating entity Nadeem-Shravan) decided to produce a movie along with Tabun Sutradhar (he whose dil went hello how are you). The leads were Aditi Sharma and Sarwar Ahuja, joint winners at a 2004 talent and TRP hunt conducted by Zee TV to unearth the stars of the future. It's been a long time since July 25, 2005. The two managed to hit the silver screen with Khanna and Iyer. But there seems to be hope for what would have been their screen début vehicle with music by Tabun and Shravan's plagiarising progeny Sanjeev and Darshan. Unfortunately, perhaps because it's helmed by Basu Chatterjee, the film's been rechristened to the innocuous Kuch Khatta Kuch Meetha, making it the male twin of that Rahul Rawail howler based on The Parent Trap. The original title offered more promise than this film is destined to: Ek Ladki Bholi Bhali Si - Adds Spice To Your Life.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

johnny gaddaar: the retro vibe continues

A special trailer's been cut for the title track on Sriram Raghavan's crime caper Johnny Gaddaar and you can catch it over at PFC. The teaser opened with a snarl from the Vijay Anand classic Johnny Mera Naam; the trailer opens with a John Wayne voice bit from McClintok!. It uses Mumbai Mirror headlines to great effect -- they serve as narrative hints as well as marketing blitz. The name of the James Hadley Chase novel's also clear now -- The Whiff Of Money -- and it's quite appropriate. Oz has a post loaded with a pointer to the ultra-cool poster as well as a video of the launch of the mini-disc bearing the sole single (that's Walk Don't Run by The Ventures you hear in the opening of the segment). A speech bit indicates that Sriram Raghavan shares Hitchcock's idea of suspense.

The Big Music CD cover uses red instead of yellow and red dominates the theme in the sleeve and inlay. Releasing singles is a great innovation for soundtracks; the last one-song soundtrack album I remember was Tathastu (discounting the remix of the sole qawwaalii composed by Vishal-Shekhar), but the T-Series CD release padded the disc with other tracks in its kitty from the same genre.

Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy have also notched another record by snagging a stake in the royalties for the soundtrack. Ehsaan notes that there are 4 tracks in all (not counting remixes) including a track featuring Hard Kaur.

The title track has an adventurous melody founded on an extremely catchy riff and some nice delicate flourishes on the cymbals and a strong aggressive beat along with chords punched out on the trusty electric guitar. Akriti Kakkar's been a Himesh regular. Suraj Jagan's the more interesting one. Those lucky enough to own or to have heard the unsung Ranjit Barot soundtrack for Brides Wanted will remember the voice on the song zi.ndagii. Reportedly, he used to be the lead vocalist in the Indian rock band Krysis and later (in a second coming) was part of Chakraview; I remember Chakraview for their Marathi rocker aalaa sherapaa zhapaaTalelaa. The band was led by guitarist Dhruv Ghanekar, who's better known for his soundtrack collaborations with Ashutosh Pathak (Bombay Boys, White Noise, Mera Pehla Pehla Pyar aka MP3). The drummer on the track, Darshan Doshi, who has also featured on the soundtracks of Black and Sarkar, is Ranjit Barot's student and a Limca Book record holder. Small world.

It's been a long journey since the first notes in 2005 about the film, the change of guard from UTV to Adlabs along with the hint that the "only two songs" in the film, which were "remixed numbers" might be recorded by Vishal Bhardwaj, the possibility of having a soundtrack from Vishal-Shekhar or from Sandesh Shandilya (who was an early choice).

Time to return to the SEL groove with Jaideep Sahni's loopy lyrics: chhoTii-sii zi.ndagii gaharii-sii jeb hai / baaqii to jaan-e-man baato.n ke seb hai.n [nit: as AJ notes, Suraj Jagan incorrectly ends the first line with a hai.n instead of a hai].

[september 08, 2007]: The vibe continues on the wonderful portal for the film -- that zipper reminds me of the cover of Sticky Fingers.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


The trailer for Anurag Kashyap's surreal No Smoking is up over at PFC. Travis Bickle, Mark Renton, Bob Fosse, Richard Morrison, Josef K and more. Eagerly awaited. It's also my first peek into the lyrical web that Gulzar's woven for the film thanks to jab bhii cigarette jalatii hai, which has Adnan Sami doing the honours as club crooner -- wouldn't this mark the first collaboration between Sami and Vishal? A Vishal interview elsewhere indicates that there are five songs on the soundtrack including a Bipasha Basu item number. An old post hereabouts has more on the other songs.

elsewhere on PFC: The No Smoking Diary

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

the beast of yucca flats: man's inhumanity to man

In this film that marked the beginning of the abysmal oeuvre of cult filmmaker Coleman Francis, Tor Johnson, a Swedish wrestler and one of the many lucky people to star in Plan 9 From Outer Space, plays a Soviet scientist Joseph Javorsky, who has defected to the United States. Fleeing from some KGB assassins with a briefcase presumably full of Russian military secrets, he wanders into the desert (supposed to be Nevada, given that it's supposed to Yucca Flats) close to a nuclear test site; as a reward for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, he is transformed into a beast. The film then explores the familiar arc laced with victims, a hunt and the eventual death of the monster (complete with a hint that there was some good left in him by having him kiss a passing bunny before breathing his last).

As an added bonus, he also gets to be the only person in the film to have his lips seen on screen when mouthing dialogue (growls, to be precise). The film was filmed as a silent movie with all the aural attributes looped. Given that money was not really a key contributor to this film, all the scenes are filmed so that there was no problem synchronising audio to picture -- you never see someone's face when he/she is speaking, you never see firearms fire (you only hear sounds), you don't even see the tips of the guns.

Augmenting the experience of viewing this low-budget wonder are the pre-credit sequence and the terse, omniscient, redundant voice-over narration, whose script comes close to being an aural equivalent of the inter-titles in silent movies.

The film opens with a sop for those that patronised such B-movies in return for some salacious goodies: accompanied by the eerie (yet rather effective) diegetic ticking of a clock, a woman emerges from the shower. After she has treated viewers to a nip slip, the dame's subsequently strangled to death by a mysterious pair of large hands and laid to rest on her bed. Even though those hands look like Tor's, there is nothing to prove that this sequence has anything whatsoever to do with the rest of the film.

The pièce de résistance is the narration that mixes socio-philosophical commentary with irony and combines prolixity and a Hemingway-esque style to produce a collection featuring riffs on progress:

Vacation time. Man and wife. Unaware of scientific progress.

Joe Dobson. Caught in the wheels of progress.

Another man caught in the frantic race for the betterment of mankind. Progress.

Boys from the city. Not yet caught in the whirlwind of progress.

notes on cause and effect:

Touch a button. Things happen. A scientist becomes a beast.

A man runs. Somebody shoots him.

notes on social habits:

Vacation time. People travel east. West. North or south. The Radcliffs travel east, with two small boys, adventurous boys. Nothing bothers some people. Not even Flying Saucers.

There's an argument to be made for the intent of the voiceover and it's interesting to see the similarity to silent movie inner-titles, but it's hard to keep a straight face listening to short bursts of words that distract you from the surreal speechless low-budget action on the screen.

Having relished this shorter-than-an-hour challenge to science (radioactive fallout can lead to necrophilia in large heavy men) or family norms (kids are extremely stupid and annoying, can't really figure out when they're lost and don't have a clue about caves), one is keen to explore the other gems in Coleman's canon (some of which even made the grade on MST3K)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

new contribution to the song of the fortnight: aayegaa mere sapano.n kaa raajaa / Kaun? Kaise?

{previous post in thread}

At long last, another new article of mine has surfaced on the Panchammagic Song of the Fortnight page:

aayegaa mere sapano.n kaa raajaa / film: Kaun? Kaise? (1983) / lyrics: Gulshan Bawra
In the prelude, Pancham builds up harmonies around a vocal refrain (pam-param-pam) in three sections, each containing two renditions of this refrain accompanied by a IV-V chord progression. The first section has the bass (in the lower register) and the female chorus (in the higher register) playing in octaves accompanied by arpeggios from an electric guitar with a flanger. Another female chorus line enters in the second section to provide a two-part harmony with the thirds. Asha is heard in the third section adding the final line for a three-part harmony with a two note fifth/third descending part. The last segment continues as electronic percussion and the hi-hat enter. A short phrase on the bass introduces the string section. A short run on the strings, accompanied by a tap on the cymbal, closes the prelude accompanied by a IV-I progression.... [more]

[PS: The article gets a more permanent archive URL once a new post goes up; I'll update this post when that happens]

Thursday, August 09, 2007

indian ocean in atlanta: august 17, 2007

They're finally coming to Atlanta courtesy Vibha and the IIT South East Alumni Association. More details here. There are hopes of hearing tracks from their soundtrack for Shoonya. If you're a resident of the sprawl, hesitate no more. Grab yourself a ticket.

elsewhere in the past: A review of the Black Friday soundtrack.

partner: boregasmic boeotian waste of time

David Dhawan's "adaptation" of Hitch has unfortunately served only a reminder of the excruciating time I had watching the original. It even makes that piece of rejectamenta look like a masterpiece in modern romantic comedies. How hopeful I was that the manic electric hyperactive low-brow Govinda had returned to deliver the belly splits. Alas, Sanjay Chhel ain't Anees Bazmee and Salman Khan hogs most of the footage. Govinda, sadly, turns in a performance that shows with its effort and grates enough that you'd want to institute a rehabilitation programme just to remind him of how hollow a shell he has become of his former self. On the lass front, Lara Dutta turns in the most bearable performance, while the PG-rated vacuous Katrina Kaif competes with nails scratching a blackboard. Rajpal Yadav's chhoTaa Don is an unfunny appendage that competes with Uday Chopra's footage in Dhoom 2 for incongruity and induced exasperation. It would be a threat to one's blood pressure to even begin to revisit the formidable weapon of torture to the senses represented by the pipsqueak playing Lara Dutta's child. The dialogues are loaded with the kind of triple and quadruple rhymes that have inundated other successful moronic attempts at humour as Garam Masala, Kya Kool Hain Hum, Masti and No Entry.

There are precious pearls that might have worked in a film that didn't seem to want to try and be a respectable middle-brow affair instead of the basket of street-smart silliness that it should have been: jisakaa pyaar ho backbone to tuu kaun aur mai.n kaun, agar wo qaabil hai to tuu kaabulii chanaa hai, dhuup me.n isakaa chashmaa banuu.Ngaa baarish me.n isakaa chhaataa and there's only one thing i cannot stand it's a one night stand. Sajid-Wajid's peppy songs are the only things to survive this mess and the rest of the film is a bus ride in ennui in slow motion from one song-and-dance sequence to the next. One begins to long for the Govinda of Shola aur Shabnam, Aankhen, Coolie No. 1 and Raja Babu, when, as if on cue, Govinda's character in the film broke into a spectacular Taporii dance as sarakaaii lyo khaTiyaa began playing on the music system. It's a sad day when the best thing in a Govinda film is the sight of Govinda hanging it loose to a song from his better days. The other moment (when Salman Khan spoofs his ready-to-strip-waist-up image at airport security) is marred only by the fact that the film plays the joke several times before this point.

The narrative wears its incoherence on its sleeve as each plot point pops up as either a non sequitur or a reeking cliché. Even playing the products-and-names game (Bournvita, Pizza Hut, XBox 360, the Times Of India) gets unexciting pretty soon. The Scholarly Subtitle Staff continue to transcend new nadirs of grammatical correctness, homophonic consistency and translational liberty: journalist becomes generalist and names get mangled several times over. Govinda's character's name (Bhaskar) services several excursions into double entendre and even supports a reference to Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Anand. There's a promising dig at the special fondness for boys among priests. There's also the obligatory Sholay reference for the brains that have survived the pounding. Such sops are hardly sufficient to save this sinking ship.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The reincarnation of monty oberoi: surroor reborn

[last sneeze in this thread]

According to news items tumultuously laced for shock value, the most successful Nose of South-East Asia is all set to reprise Rishi Kapoor's role in the Satish Kaushik-helmed remake of Subhash Ghai's 1980 "adaptation" of The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, Karz (here's an old note about its "haunted" theme). After playing himself in his wildly successful début as a leading man with protection, Aap Kaa Surroor - The Moviee - The Real Luv Story, the "Michael Jackson of India" (a moniker more appropriately associated with the boneless dance-floor wiz, Prabhu Deva), He Who Shall Not Shave returns in a version of his rock star persona (Sniffle Stardust?). In a way it is an appropriate film for him to be associated with: after all, is it a coincidence that the name of his biggest hit Aashiq Banaya Aapne appears in the lyric of the Rafi song dard-e-dil? (refresher: pahale to mai.n shaayar thaa / aashiq banaayaa aap ne)

In the absence of He Who Refuses To Reveal His Hairstyle, Satish Kaushik nimbly takes over the responsibilities of generating self-aggrandising gas:

on the choice for Simi Garewal's role: It has to be [sic] lady with a great grace, poise, mystique and seductive quality living alone in this secluded mansion. I've to find someone who fits the bill fast. (try Sylvia Kristel or Georgina Spelvin)

on rumours that Ravi Verma (Raj Kiran) and Monty Oberoi (Rishi Kapoor) will be modified to a double role for He Who Was Unveiled In Ajmer: No. We'll have another actor for the first role, while Himesh will play the character reborn as a rock star. I'll try to stick to the spirit of Subhash Ghai's film as much as possible. What a film that was! Will I be able to do justice to it? (Hint: No)

on what made him qualified for the job: I think it was the way I filmed those lavish songs and dances in Roop Ki Rani Choron Ki Raja. Karz requires a lot of on-stage direction. (whatever that means)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

DOA: the national film awards for 2005

After rumours and a stay order, the National Awards for 2005 (aka the 53rd) are finally official. No changes in the roll call and the smell of stale milk is faint. The official rants about Black can begin, although, at this point, everyone has probably moved on to bigger fish. There's a PDF with the complete list for those who'd just prefer the chase and not the chaff.

The coolest entry in the list, however, is one that's likely to get missed by most. The eminently readable entertaining erudite Baradwaj Rangan wins the Award for Best Film Critic (as the citation goes "for intelligent and reader-friendly reviews of popular cinema with a depth of understanding of the form, a discernible passion for the medium bulwarked consistently by a knowledge of the trends and
touchstones of global cinema
"). Damn! He also won at the 2006 Indibloggies. Way to go, BR!

update [august 13, 2007]: Apparently, the winners haven't received official word that they've won. There's also an interesting note in that news item about a news channel declaring, some years ago, that Vishal had won an award for the screenplay of Maqbool. Alas, unlike the awards for Raveena Tandon and Anil Kapoor, this one was not to be.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

it's not the age, it's the mileage

It's good to know they still write lines like that. Step over to PFC the unveiling of the exclusive trailer for Sriram "Ek Hasina Thi" Raghavan's finally-set-for-release flick Johnny Gaddar. Lovely pulpy titles, a host of great names on the roster (Vinay Pathak, Zakir Hussain, Dharmendra), a new face (Neil Nitin Mukesh, son of Nitin Mukesh and hence grandson of the late Mukesh) and a lovely theme on the background (I'm not sure if credit is due to background music man Daniel George -- is this the Daniel B George responsible for the wonderful soundtrack for Sehar? -- or music directors Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy?). Fans of heist flicks, Quentin Tarantino, Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn will feel right at home. The vibes are good and hopes are high.

If someone can figure out the name of that James Hadley Chase novel seen briefly in the clip, drop a comment on this post or drop me a line.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cash: the music: it's a gas

[cross-posted on the Passion For Cinema blog]
After the catchy, layered and eminently entertaining Dus Vishal-Shekhar return to toss in tunes for Anubhav Sinha's crime caper Cash. With a mission statement for catchy dance-floor ditties, the duo gleefully turn to their experimental side that gave us adventures like right here right now from BluffMaster!, the title track for Golmaal: Fun Unlimited and the songs of I See You (especially subah subah).

Golmaal's Anushka Manchanda returns to the playful layered Naughty Naughty, a song that seems to take off where that last song ended into a changing palette of moods and rhythms. Although she's the only one credited on the track, the composer duo toss in vocal refrains and bandy questions and responses all over the track. The straight-faced lyrical nonsense mixes trance samples and a strong Dhol beat, tossing in the occasional Dholak for good measure.

The trio return in zaraa bach ke jii and this time everyone gets a singing credit. Thematically this might very well qualify as an alternative title song. The song contains several rapping breaks of various speeds boasting influences from DnB, dancehall and ragamuffin. As far as samples, there are loops and runs on the rabaab, bass loops, synthesized swirls and Dhol-taashe (heck! The song even ends with what sounds like a riff played on the edakka). The melodic fragments use Punjabi lyrics (and Shekhar gets to belt out these sane portions of the song). Vishal and Anuskha handle the rap segments with Vishal indulging in the fast rapping that even embellishes the title track.

Dus lyricist Panchhi Jalonvi's sole contribution to this album raham kare is one of the four songs that Sunidhi Chauhan gets to exercise her vocal prowess on. The music combines a disco vibe and trance with dancehall; Vishal's scatting peppers the breaks in a song that, like zaraa bach ke jii moves away from the familiar mukha.Daa-a.ntaraa song structure.

Mind-blowing maahiyaa deserves an award simply for the most precarious Hinglish blend in a long time (you're my mind-blowing maahiyaa, to be precise). Bellyaches aside, this one and raham kare share common ground with I See You's haalo haalo, although raham kare operates deeper within the soundscape than Mind-blowing maahiyaa does. Sunidhi lends the song the gusto seen in sajanaajii waarii waarii from Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. to a song that is, at some level of intent, a cousin of mummy se naa kahanaa from Chocolate. With a whistle riff (à la subah subah in I See You) and a swirling bass riff, this is the only song without Vishal's toasting.

After having imported hip-hop and dancehall into Hindi film music, Vishal-Shekhar tackle reggaeton with naa puuchh. Atop the riddim comes an Indian-sounding melodic motif and the synthesized bass riff somehow echoes the bass riff in Qurbani's har kisii ko. Into the mix of a familiar mukha.Daa-a.ntaraa structure comes Vishal's manic fast rapping run through overdubs and a vocal break taking off on a boatman's call.

Ironically, as with I See You, my favourite track happens to be the first cut on the album, which, in this case, is also the track that seems destined to run with the opening credits. In addition to suspected substance abuse, Vishal-Shekhar had Misirlou and Dick Dale and perhaps even Dame Un Kiss by Franco "El Gorilla" on their minds while swimming in the sea of their usual dancehall and hip-hop influences. The track's brass lead-in gives way via an alveolar trill to a fast circular staccato electric guitar lick. Vishal starts off first, followed by the versatile Sunidhi backed by samples of car horns and a descending surf guitar riff sends the microphone to Shekhar to deliver the first melodically regular segment of the song. The alveolar trill becomes a motif of rendition, showing up prominently in Sunidhi's a.ntaraa. In the punchbowl of percussion, car horns, the guitar riff and vocal exhortations (including invocations of the film's title) comes a sample "Visual 8128.78; This should be played at high volume ... preferably in a residential area": The second part is a sample from the introduction to Lyrical Gangbang on Dr. Dre's influential album The Chronic. The first is most likely a reference to the name of a track by Physical Motion (Coincidentally, that's also the stardate, according to ST3, when a dying Spock asks if the ship is out of danger). There's another sound sample that Vishal trades vocals, but I'm not sure where that comes from. If you're listening to this track on heaphones, there's even (unless I'm hearing things) what sounds like a child humming along as Sunidhi reprises the lines of the first a.ntaraa near the 3:22 mark.

An extended mix of the title track closes the album: in this version the overall volume goes up, the surf guitar lick gets phased and multi-tracked, the trills are enhanced and the soundscape is peppered with more breaks and slower arrangements; all this makes the cut less immediate than the original.

Lyrics are included in the CD sleeve in case you want to decipher all that spitting on the album, but zaraa bach ke jii ... they don't get them quite right (all wrapped around the finger becomes the egregious all wrapped around there[sic] fingers).

As with Dus, the soundtrack might be the best part of the package; with a cast roster that includes the likes of Suniel Shetty, Zayed Khan and Esha Deol, would it be an act of unfathomable optimism to expect a coherent entertaining film?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

black friday, devdas, onir and a palanquin for a bad song

last post in this thread

There's an interesting thread over at the PFC portal with second thoughts about Black Friday. Now that the film has finally made it to the marquee (sans requisite fanfare, one might add) and even to DVD (as quietly as could be), the hype's had time to die.

Mr. Kashyap, meanwhile, is all set to take Abhay Deol's idea of a contemporary version of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee's Devdas with Dev.D. His post on PFC offers a sample of the usual interesting unease he was greeted with as he bounced the idea off various people in the industry. Some more information about the film may be found here and here.

Onir (My Brother Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal) inaugurates his space on PFC.

And finally, in order to prevent this post from being a PFC springboard, let me direct your attention to a fine discovery of a bellyache-inducing compositional flourish called when hiir sat in the Dolii. It's from a 1993 film called Raunaq (has anyone seen a DVD anywhere?). It's a familiar Punjabi ditty on a surreal linguistic romp. [link courtesy: TDQ]

[july 13, 2007]: Holy Double Feature! Santosh Sivan opens his space on PFC with an extended introductory flashback.

Friday, July 06, 2007

ghutan: breathe easy or die laughing

[cross-posted on the Passion For Cinema blog]

tum dono.n ne use zi.ndaa kabr me.n dafanaakar ek ghuTan-bharii maut dii hai; aur ab tum log is khulii hawaa kii har saa.Ns me.n har pal ghuTan mahasuus karoge
(father james/ amit shankar)

Before they clashed at the boundary of life and undeath in this Ramsay flick, Aryan Vaid and Heena Rehman already had Fun - Can Be Dangerous Sometime in common. Since Payal Rohatgi featured in the cast of that film, it is safe to assume that it wasn't a complex layered film that intelligently explored the shifting dynamic of human relationships.

you devilish devil to the blood
(father james / amit shankar)

Heena Rehman having learnt from her dismal début in I Proud To Be Indian was quite happy swapping her husband, played by Aryan Vaid, with Siddharth Koirala. Acting as a pouting, piano-pumping spouse who gets bumped off by her husband and returns to haunt him and the audience was a natural step forward.

it's loud and clear in the pages of Holy Bible ... ki marane ke baad ruuh jism me.n daakhil nahii.n ho sakatii; it's anti-Christ
(father james / amit shankar)

Aryan Vaid's oeuvre sports an element of confusion. Mixed with movies like the husband-swapping excursion just noted, Chaahat: Ek Nasha and Market are endeavours like Makrand Deshpande's Danav. There's still a conflict of desire: to be an actor or a buffed toned B-movie staple. But the singular quality that might prove useful for Mr. Vaid in years to come is his resemblance to Arun "VikRam" Govil. The day will come when a biopic is dedicated to the life and career of the man who could play Lord Rama, King Vikram, ill-fated police inspectors (like Inspector Deodhar in Dhaal) or elder brothers and even a mute (Himmatwala). Until then Mr. Vaid can thrive on the loyal following for movies like the suffocating subject of this post.

wo ghuT-ghuT ke marii hai; wo hame.n ghuTan-bharii maut degii
(priyaa / pooja bharti)

While Keshu and Tulsi have moved out to production, Shyam Ramsay continues to take the Ramsay horror train forward. His latest scripted/directed effort Ghutan offers enough chortles from its comfortable opening to the final credit, its[sic] RAMSAY entertainment, which fades to black as a church bell tolls. Fans of Bollywood's First Family of horror will be disappointed by the low coefficient of skin (just some bareback work from Heena Rehman and Pooja Bharti) and the almost complete absence of the incongruous song-n-dance breaks. There are other things that persist, however: The lack of anything remotely scary, the absence of any attempt to invest money in sets that look realistic and the insistence on reusing familiar elements (sudden visitations, a lass in a bathtub being dragged under, an exploding bed) in a most unimaginative fashion.

you're a blind man; your eyes are open; but you see nothing
(father james / amit shankar)

Shyam Ramsay wastes no time by opening the film with a minivan approaching the gates of a cemetery. Womaniser Ravi Kapoor and his like-minded friend Jaggi are here to bury Ravi's wife Catherine. After some drama and exposition, it is evident that she ain't quite dead yet. The solution: coerce her into the coffin, strangle her close to death and drop in a torch for company (mai.n chaahataa huu.N tum apanii maut roshanii me.n dekho). Despite all the ghoulish looks and shoddy mise-en-scène, the scariest moment comes when you hear a background female vocal that sounds suspiciously like Anuradha Paudwal.

Ravi and Catherine spend most of their screen time together tossing abuses at each other. He calls her a bitch (even refers to her as such in her absence) and she calls him a bastard. The smart subtitling department, known for raising the ante of obscenity for innocuous dialogue, decides to pay tribute to Thomas Bowdler here. After all, they figured, only the hearing impaired were going to watch this film. So bitch becomes fool, idiot or woman, while bastard becomes scoundrel.

tum hii ho na? jo ravii ko roz (beat) roz ek nayii la.Dakii supply karataa hai? ... you bloody supplier!
(Catherine / heena rehman)

Mr. Ramsay is not interested in exploring the dynamics of inter-faith marriages. He is, however, keen on exploiting the rich Goan/Christian stereotype. He does this using the supporting cast: there's Catherine's faithful maid Nancy, who gets to scream, witness a murder, walk around drenched in shadow and gloom, get possessed and, as the flying leaping lunging screaming clawing launching Nancy, participate in some of the worst wire stunts in recent times; she even gets to pound her legs furiously against the ground accompanied by the electronic sound sample used for punches in video games. Then there's Catherine's uncle Tom NoLastName (played by Gufi Paintal), who doesn't have too much to do except insist that he always compared Ravi to a rotten apple and fake the clichéd Goan/Christian talk spouting axioms like are tum jaanataa hai na ki jab inasaan God ko pyaaraa ho jaataa hai tabiich candle jalataa hai?.

The film's leading lady Heena Rehman has a lot to do: she has to dress in seductive black, look sad and lonely, play Anu Malik's favourite chord progressions on the piano using actions that would lead you to believe she was doing push-ups, lie on her back quoting poetry by Mirza Zaafar Ali 'Hasrat' ( tumhe.n Gairo.n se kab furasat / ham apane Gam se kab Kaalii / chalo ab ho chukaa milanaa / na ham Kaalii na tum Kaalii) and in the next shot vent her frustrations to the calm Father James. After being buried alive during the opening credits, she appears to break free just like Beatrix Kiddo did in Kill Bill 2's The Lonely Grave of Paula Schultz, only to discover that she's merely experiencing a post-death out-of-body experience. The conversation between her and Father James on the subject of her reuniting with her body features some sparkles of dialogue (including some of that old first-English-then-Hindi business) and ghastly grammar:

Father James: Galatii se bhii ye Galatii mat karanaa waranaa tabaahii aa jaayegii
Catherine : why father why? why can't I enter my body?
Father James: because it's against nature; ye kudrat ke Kilaaf hai; ek baar ruuh ne jism kaa saath chho.D diyaa to jism miTTii ho jaataa hai aur aatmaa parawaaz; agar tuune apane jism me.n dobaaraa daakhil hone kii koshish kii to teraa jism zi.ndaa to ho jaayegaa par tuu inasaan nahii.n shaitaan ban jaayegii; an evil; a living dead

Shortly after this, Catherine's spirit heads to the cemetery screaming "I want my body! I want my body!", echoing the thoughts of the few drooling dudes in the nearly empty theatre that may have dared to screen this film.

Although Amit Shankar imbues Father James with a quiet calm reading and manages a good imitation of Sanjeev Kumar with the angry dilated eyes look, he still can't help sticking to that silly "an evil" bit throughout the film. "An evil what/who?" remains unanswered. He also lends the character's authenticity a much-needed kick in the rump by taking the Lord's name in vain. The other bit player who lends his role some gravitas is Shahbaaz Khan who plays the investigating officer Inspector Shaukat Khan. Most other players are limited to ephemeral appearances: Himani Shivpuri as Priya's mother, a well-dressed widow spouting the usual "your father left behind only debt for us" nonsense) and the randomly introduced Professor Siddarth Nath Bhattacharya, who vanishes after delivering one of the film's most promising lines.

is ulajhan ko sulajhaane ke liye ek gaharii concentration kii zaruurat hai
(Professor Siddharth Nath Bhattacharya)

As the film draws to a close with our lead pair back in the cemetery, you realise that you haven't seen a single song-n-dance sequence. As if to make amends, music director Vishwanath Dixit unleashes one of his creations upon us. The plaintive female voice (Alka Yagnik) belting out what proves to the title song offers a howlarious complement to Aryan Vaid racing to Catherine's grave in slow motion. It's not as funny as what Steven Soderbergh did with Berlin's Take My Breath Away in Ocean's Eleven, but it will have to do. If you manage to sit through all this, don't miss the end credits, which give the title song a chance to breathe again. It's part of that rare breed of film songs that drop crucial plot hints (in this case, the ending) and make for a poor listening experience, if you haven't watched the movie:

ye merii kabr me.n mujhako dafanaa diyaa
dekh phir bhii tujhe mai.nne apanaa liyaa

jo thii merii ghuTan ab hai terii ghuTan
(ghuTan hii ghuTan hai ghuTan hii ghuTan) * 3

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

remembering the boss

[the post from last year]

On his 68th birth anniversary, the first thing one notes is the number of articles online paying tribute to the late great Rahul Dev Burman aka Pancham. One of the longest threads on RMIM (courtesy: Vinay) also ends up (fortuitously) discussing the numbers (useful when you get into debates comparing Pancham and the other great musical directors of yore).

It's been a long while since a compilation CD hit the stands with some of his minor works dusted and cleaned. It's not too much fun to take solace in MP3s ripped off vinyl by considerate fans. There's a certain glee in seeing that bespectacled cheerful enthusiastic face staring back at you on a spanking new CD on the shelves (not to mention the private ego boost at being the only one in the store to not just recognise the songs listed but also to have sat through the reeling wrecks that didn't really deserve them). But the day also makes listening to the scattered nuggets in his ouevre and marvel at the creative verve that makes them shine: the frenetic electric guitar giving way to a crooning Asha Bhosle in a.ndheraa a.ndheraa (from Rani Mera Naam); less-heard mujaraas like aap aaye GariibaKaane (from Sitara) and raajaa ke a.nganaa (from Yaar Meri Zindagi); the unreleased kisii Gariib ke dil se (from Sitamgar), the best song (perhaps) that Shailendra Singh ever sang; the creative hubris of ek hasiin gulabadan (from Karishma); the energy of sharaabii aa.Nkhe.n (from Madhosh); jaa re jaa mai.n tose na boluu.N (from Mr. Romeo), perhaps Pancham's only foray (ironically, given his nickname) into jhap taal... mahafil kaa ye na TuuTe jab tak subah na ho. The list could go on. You've been gone over 13 years now, Pancham, but there's still a lot to cherish and discover in your musical legacy. Here's hoping that the fruit of your adventures in song survives the spate of Revivals and Rare Gems compilations and finds a host of new listeners. A high five to the sultan of song.

wo jinakii na_ii hai ye duniyaa, ma.nzil hai na_ii
piichhe nahii.n dekhaa karate mu.D\-mu.D ke kabhii
sajate hii chale jaate hai.n jiivan kii galii

bag of links: Rishi Kapoor talks about how much Pancham's music contributed to his image | The debt the remix crowd owes him | Gulshan Bawra's reminiscences hosted on indiaFM and the TOI.

The TOI version of Bawra's flashback includes an interesting note about the compilation that I've heard mentioned (perhaps at the PanchamMagic shows):

Then suddenly, in 1994, there was a void. So, I took out all the tapes of our dummy song recordings, which also included our informal conversations, arguments, fights and jokes, and began hearing them. Everytime I miss him, I take out the tapes and listen to them. Aur aankhon mein aasoo aa jate hai," recalls Gulshan.

It was these chats and recordings that gave Gulshan the idea to compile these moments into an album. A unique album that comprises not only R D Burman's classics, but also actual conversations between R D and Gulshan, the creative clashes the two had while making songs and a whole bunch of trivia on Pancham Da.

That's a CD worth looking forward to, if the snatches from the sessions for mai.n huu.N lily (Bond 303) the alternative melody for ruup teraa mastaanaa from the sittings for pyaar hame.n kis mo.D pe (Satte Pe Satta) are any indication.

Monday, June 18, 2007

attack of the animated surroor

[many caps taken off in acknowledgement of JR's early announcement explaining the strange image I saw in news articles]

Since we last mentioned the protean agony incumbent upon us courtesy He-Who-Sings-From-The-Nose, His Mucorrhoeal Vanity has decided to unleash his nasal nuke upon the cherubic promise of the next generation as well. In a supposedly creatively innovative move, He-Maize and his director/comrade-in-ears Prussian Cheddar have found a way to attack the sensitive ingenuous eyes and ears of children using a cartoon featuring the Nose's animated alter ego, HR2 (the second human resource?). The pain of listening to a remix of a passionately snorted ye teraa meraa milanaa is offset by ghastly sights of budding love, synchronised toon dancing, bottle juggling and generous shots of one of the ugliest bearded caricatures in recent toon history. Thanks to the proliferation of information aided by technology, this travesty of techology is available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube. Watch, weep or wrawl. When, according to the Gospel according to Matthew (Chapter 19, verse 14), Jesus famously said "Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." he used the word suffer to mean permit; the barbate bellwether needs to get his Bible right. Teach your children well. Don't mishear his mayhem.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

collateral damaged: the killer

A modified version appears on

I submit that the core appeal of The Killer (in which we give you the pioneering rip-off of Michael Mann's Collateral by the Dhaaper Duo of Hasnain Hyderabadwala and Raksha Mistry and not the John Woo classic) lies in how subliminally Irrfan and Zakir Hussain seem to be undermining every pore of Emraan Hashmi's being on film. Listen carefully to the dialogues and you might walk away from this farce with a smile of satisfaction. While the Liplocking Loser preens, pretends to drive a taxi and offers enough proof that he's as capable of acting as men are of giving birth, Irrfan and Zakir Hussain deliver their bits with paycheque-earning delicious slices of stoked ham.

Zakir Hussain's interpretation of JABBAR (the capital letters come from the strange choice of case in the middle of a newspaper headline seen in the movie) derives from all the footage of Brando's egoistically extravagant contribution as Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now combined with the axiom that just being in the same frame as Emraan Hashmi would beat standing in the middle of the dumping ground at Deonar. Irrfan's character, since it's based on one of the two main characters in Mann's original, gets some help from the writer's department. Hyderabadwala and Mistry take the prevailing Vincent, rechristen him as the strong Vikram, give him a passport in the name of Roopchand Swaroopchand, confer upon him a varied taste in music (Begum Akhtar, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, remixes), an interest in urdu poetry and even give Irrfan a chance to sing (which, in keeping with the character, would invite responses like "aaj gaane kii zid naa karo"). Did I mention that the two things his smart-talking wisecrack-spouting Intel Centrino Duo-using contract killer doesn't like are garamii kaa mahiinaa aur A/C me.n pasiinaa? The aforementioned laptop is also the victim of the most egregious bit of product placement in a while. It's bad enough that you can read and figure out what laptop it is; what's worse is that the filmmakers choose to cater to the reading-impaired market (the grotesque subtitles cater to the hearing-impaired cognitively dysfunctional segment of the populace) by giving Hashmi's character the subtle line " Intel Centrino Duo; Good Choice."

Which brings us to Hashmi himself. His presence in the film is assurance that Bollywood refuses to abandon its desire to make the "star" (a term loosely applied lest it offend reasonably good-looking and more deserving peons in government offices around the country) more important than the character. Hashmi plays a cab driver (first gulp) named Nikhil Joshi (second gulp). The name has no bearing on what are essentially the same rabbits jumping out of the same rejected magic hat that he peddles for his multitude of adoring fans. The effeminate woman-abusing platypus is rewarded by the writers with an annoying pet phrase ("correct boluu.N?") and invocations like "e hello! hameshaa khulii rahane waalii khi.Dakii!"

Which was addressed to Riya, played by Nisha "Strut-My-Stuff" Kothari, the latest bag of chaff from RGV's Factory (whose assembly line has been producing only interesting character actors and mostly moronic lead players). She's a bar dancer -- an inspired migration by the writers of this flick from the seemingly less noble federal prosecutor played by Jada Pinkett Smith in the original. Kothari embellishes the sparse opening credits in a dance number set to abhii to mai.n jawaan huu.N with her brazen jiggle and wiggle. Had this been the extent of her involvement in this star vehicle for the ragpickers, one could have rested easy. Alas, she attempts to act. This proves to be a development as disastrous, perhaps, as India's exit from the recent World Cup was to television advertising.

This wet dog gets a bonus shower thanks to the inclusion of a Dubai cop who utters lines in Urdu and then proceeds to translate them into simple Hindi, a counter official who thinks he's God's gift to cool, the predictable Bollywood song sequitur that transports our hero to the sylvan desert and the brilliant deduction made by investigating officials that Vikram is a professional killer simply based on the bodies found. A glimmer of hope comes when the film features a clip from the Sunny Deol starrer Indian featuring the classic snatch of dialogue " mai.n sirf ek police officer nahii.n huu.N; indian huu.N ." Alas, 'tis but a glimmer. If you're still thinking of catching this reeling migraine, I have a tip and a reference. The tip is, dear worshipper of Hashmi's stubble that he does not indulge in his trademark unobfuscated osculations in this film (this is revealed at the end when he says to the drooling camera, "abhii nahii.n"). The reference is to a Gaalib quote that Vikram drops in the film: dil-e-naadaa.N tujhe huaa kyaa hai.

Given that Hyderabadwala and Mistry are devotees of the Bhatt Camp of Inspired Filmmaking, their second release The Train [more about that earlier] is also a filch. The source is the Clive Owen starrer Derailed, which already found a local cousin in Gautham Menon's Pachaikili Muthucharam [more about that here]. Irony rears its ugly head thanks to the rest of the film's composite title: Some lines should never be crossed. Cross ye kiyaa re, kiyaa re!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

they were the wonder years

What would you do if I sang out of tune .... Joe Cocker's impassioned voice ushered in the opening credits of The Wonder Years, one of the gifts of the old Star Plus (specifically the early 90s, but in general when no one would have thought that it would devolve into yet another Hindi channel). Of course, when I first caught the show, I didn't know who Joe Cocker was. I didn't even know this was a cover. I hadn't even heard Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (just how bad things were without the Internet and streaming audio could be the subject of an entire post). I loved the Beatles, but all I knew about their albums was what I read in books in the reference section of The British Library (A series of lucky hunts in small little music stores around town in Pune greatly help restore balance in the universe). I was clueless as a dead robin. But that didn't take away the appeal of the show. I remember awaiting each episode, remembering the characters and their quirks (this, I take it, is standard TV show viewer procedure that has seen new zeniths and nadirs thanks to the K-soaps and other detergents). Subconsciously, I was also getting an education in rock n' roll. The series boasted an extensive set of songs playing in the background; Tragically, the music rights have prevented this series from being released on DVD (the two best-of sets were watered-down sops).

In April 2007, ION Television began airing reruns on weekdays (Monday through Friday) with 2 episodes a day from 2200 to 2300 Eastern Time (Star Plus had pulled a similar move with their reruns of Star Trek:TOS. I plopped before the TV set excited to uncover old memories and see if the show had stood the test of time. While nostalgia hadn't embellished my memories of the show (Winnie Cooper blinking because of her contacts, Joe Cocker's cover, Turn! Turn! Turn!), a few things felt like fresh discoveries: I didn't remember the voiceover being so fast; the soft filters(?) that underscored the TV show sheen of the proceedings. It was also a relief to watch a show free of the one-liners, slickness and references to pop culture falling like raindrops that inundate a lot of the shows of today. But despite the joy of watching each episode, I tuned out after a couple of weeks. I had given up on television a long while ago, getting by with the occasional rerun of shows I watched while I still gave television its due. Perhaps there was a dim hope that this show would find me back before the idiot box, but that was not meant to be. Just as time changed the characters in the show, it had changed me. I should probably be glad I wasn't succumbing to the "evil of television," but I think I lost something valuable. Childhood's end perhaps.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

not beer, not speech, just fine print

Cairbou Coffee offers FREE Wandering WiFi . This ain't gratis or libre. This is RTFP (Read The Fine Print). The ** accompanying the offer should be a useful hint; the essential bit reads: One free hour of WiFi usage per customer per location per day (24 hour period) at which point customer must enter a WiFi access code. Code is obtained by making a minimum purchase of $1.50 (including tax). So, essentially, it's not free for long. Strange things can happen when you use such "free" WiFi. Consider the case of Sam Peterson II in Sparta, MI (yes, the thread already has enough Sparta jokes).

If you want nice coffee, free WiFi and an interesting non-franchise place to spend some time, try Octane (a bucket of thanks to Amogh for discovering the place and recommending it through word and deed). It won Best Coffeehouse in the 2006 edition of Creative Loafing's Best of Atlanta awards, so one hopes that more people will be curious about the place. The WiFi enablers are Ripple (FKA 3rd Wave Hotspot), who've been enabling free Wifi hotspots over Atlanta for a few years now.

The EULA's another manifestation of RTFP. Heck! They've even got a community in Texas called Eula.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

hatless himesh: dismal dirge of the decapitated drone

It wasn't enough that's staff was fawning over the Abhiwarya affair, or the Fardeen knot, or the Karisma knot and not-knot; the absolute pits may have been achieved with the unveiling of what purports to be a photograph of the Toparch of Tristisonous Tautophony himself sans the trademark baseball cap laced with sweat, grime, musical mucago, dulcet dandruff and fabulous fanfare. The person responsible for the accompanying text makes the crucial mistake of assuming "Everyone is curious about how Himesh Reshammiya would look without his trademark cap"; Not so. Hapless readers like YT would like to request more proof that this is same individual responsible for launching Nostril-To-Ear missiles while preening like a rapper swan wearing the same cap and different long jackets. This looks like Suniel Shetty after a bath and some foundation. Should this indeed be The Nose and not Mr. Mischief Dosa, we have an interesting premise for a movie starring the two as twins, distinguishable solely based on bathing habits and choice of headgear.

Elsewhere: notes on the soundtrack and the auto-rickshaws.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

super spider me: now wonder i'm going batty

Most of us know about Superman starring Puneet "I punched Amitabh and he still lived" Issar as Clerk (no typo intended) Kent and Dharam paajii as the desii version of paapaajii Jor-El. If you need a copious refresher, check out the Stomp Tokyo breakdown.

Some of us have even been blessed with (as a friend had noted) the unfortunately less-touted collaboration between DC Comics and Marvel Comics on Indian soil: the song tuu meraa superman / mai.n terii lady / ho gayaa hai apanaa pyaar already from Dariya Dil featuring Govinda and Kimi Katkar dressed up as Superman and Spider[Wo]Man respectively (if you don't believe me, check out the LP cover or the video of the song). Now that the poster of this film featured in The Namesake (you don't catch that did you, dear reader?) one can hope that more people get a chance to view this classic.

For those of us deprived of either pleasure, Fool N Final (release date: today) promises to make up for it. This is choreographer Ahmed Khan's second directorial effort (the first one was Lakeer: Forbidden Lines -- portentous title that -- with a background score that ripped off Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", a Sunny Deol stunt that filched from John Woo's HARD TARGET and a subtitle that read ""are you angry? (reel 4)"). Reportedly, a sequence in the film features not one or two but four entities from the DC and Marvel universes. Take a look.

Ahmed Khan seems intent on riding the homage bandwagon that Farah Khan unleashed with Main Hoon Na. How else does one explain the presence of a character named Gunmaster G9 (played by Jackie Shroff) in the film? This reeling assault on the senses even dares to invite the rage of fans of the original Gopi aka Gunmaster G9 (from Surakksha, Wardar and, to an undocumented extent, Sahhas).
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