Sunday, February 24, 2008

video gaga: sonu nigam challenges ziggy stardust

Gym Nigam
There's a new Sonu Nigam (or Niigaam in astrologicalese) album on the stands and it's called Classically Mild. It features the voice of the vastly talented singer blended with a soundscape boasting a bevy of clichés from the world of easy listening ... nan.d, kaafii, bilaawal and ahir bhairav (among others) meet keyboards, kazoo and fugle[sic] horn.

The pièce de résistance is the video for a track on the album called suunaa suunaa. I won't spoil it for you; all I can provide as a portent is a cloud of words: a Greco-Roman composite of Eros, Christ and Krishna warbles and struts his efforts in the gym in a bushel of exercise routines, romantic overtures and memories of childhood.
Tuxedo Nigam

SN's been prone to silly antics before (remember bijuriyaa? [youtube video]), but this marks a new visual milestone for him. He seems to be entering Abhijit Pohankar territory with this attempt at a fusion of everything aural (raags, lounge, smooth jazz, electronics) packaged in videos featuring a camera gaga about the female form (except that Mr. Niigaam prefers, like Mr. Adnan Sami, to hog a significant portion of screen real estate himself). Yet, for all the criticism levied against him, Abhijit Pohankar's ouevre seems to sport a certain sense of the aesthetic. Mr. Niigam's been shedding clothes for a while now (A tribute to decades of Hindi film singing at a Filmfare Awards show comes to mind -- he had stacked up clothes appropriate to each decade and proceeded to pop them off as he made his way from the past to the present).

It was tragic enough to hear the fine voice done justice in a bhajan on the virtually unheard soundtrack of Mr. Ya Miss. It's a pity seeing such a great vocal talent in a state of comic undress. Listening to this effort might not have been such a bad experience, but the eyes have now been scarred.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

catastrophic apostrophes

One of the most enduring memories from the Monty Python Flying Circus sketches for me has been the It's Man where Palin's beleagured hermit's exaggerated efforts to approach the screen across obstacles that would in real time be insurmountable culminated in a victoriously exhausted gasp of "It's."

That word haunts the contributions of some exhibits of apostrophe abuse (it's and its get swapped merrily as if they were identical twins).

The promos (this IndiaFM promo watch page has links to one of them) for Priyadarshan's rip-off Kyon Ki seemed keen on achieving sarataaj status in this matter. They completely eschewed the apostrophe and exploited possessives for their inter-titles (its salman, its kareena, its love, its passion, its madness, its fate, this diwali its special). To interpret it as an auteurist move would have been an equally extravagant exercise.

Raja Sen's review of Vishal's soundtrack for Ajay Devgan's directorial début U, Me Aur Hum sports another editorial gaffe:

It's a neat, uncluttered visual, not trying too hard but succeeding immensely -- and bodes well for Devgan's directorial debut. And it's soundtrack.

I recently started reading Shashi Tharoor's Bookless in Baghdad. The 14th chapter of the first edition is an article about R. K. Narayan titled "R. K. Narayan's Comedies of Suffering." Smack in the middle of page 98 is an example of abuse in plural (to wit): the ABC's of bad writing - archaisms, banalities and cliches - abounded. Interestingly enough, the online version of the article on Tharoor's web site exploits the pliable nature of web content and knocks off the egregious apostrophe: the ABC of bad writing - archaisms, banalities and cliches - abounded.

It's time to end this burst of bile.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

grammy whammy

While Herbie Hancock (whom I was privileged to catch at the 30th Atlanta Jazz Festival) caused a few several jaws to fall to the floor at the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony by taking away Album Of The Year, good old Slowhand's collaboration with another key inspiration of his, J. J. Cale, The Road To Escondido snagged the award for Best Contemporary Blues Album. The last time EC collaborated with another key influence, B. B. King was Riding With The King and that won a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album.

An interesting non sequitur: The Cale collaboration opens with Danger, a song that shares its chord progression with After Midnight, a Cale song that EC covered on his eponymous début and scored a hit. Quite apt.

The tribute album We All Love Ennio Morricone contributed two nominees: Metallica, for their cover of The Ecstasy Of Gold, a track that, in its original form, they've used to open their concerts and Bruce Springsteen for his cover of Once Upon A West.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

different frequencies

poor photograph of the cover of the January 2008 issue of Wired from
A glances at the three issues of Wired on the desk as he carries on a discussion with B. B sees the interest in A's eyes and also the screaming words advertising the title story ("100 mpg! the race to build the ultimate fuel-efficient car") and starts talking about supergreen cars and A has to tell B that it wasn't the title story but the line above the title that caught his eye: "radiohead and the new world of music by david byrne." B doesn't register Radiohead, he only registers the word music. A enthusiastically tells B why he thinks the line is cool: David Byrne was the frontman of Talking Heads and Radiohead got its name from a track on the Talking Heads album True Stories. A feels the enthusiasm drain away as he registers B's reaction. They return to their discussion, wrap it up and A returns to his desk with the issue, hoping to read the article in a spare moment.

bored in the light

The premise of Red: The Dark Side smells like a lift: a guy falls for the widow of the donor of his heart. What can you expect from the director of such once-agains as Yakeen, Aetbaar, Footpath and Awara Paagal Deewana? By the time the end credits begin to roll, you're left wondering how such promising material met with such undeserving wretched execution. The film essentially represents another of Vikram Bhatt's poorly executed maudlin buckets of ennui (see also Inteha) besides being another vehicle featuring his on-screen alter ego Aftab Shivdasani. Aftab is not alone; he has Amrita Arora (Girlfriend, the dillii kii sardii item song in Zameen) and Celina Jaitley (made her début in Khel, spoofed Vanessa Mae in Janasheen, was one of the zombies in Zinda and contributed 50% of the wood falling for the hirsute Hashmi in Jawani Diwani).

At this point it must be noted that it is a carnal (no pun intended) sin to encourage the acting aspirations of such fine pieces of wide-eyed bambi-brained silconeans as Arora and Jaitley. Ladies, you have been specially chosen to be eye candy, to load the screen with oomph, to sashay and sway in various family-friendly stages of undress. You were not designed to -- shudder! -- act. It behooves the producers of cinematic enterprises featuring you to encourage you to answer your calling and to nip any aberrant strains of ambition in the nascent bud.

You miss a tribute to Dan Brown and his trademark opening sentences, when the credits are followed by an inter-title that says "A few months back." A change in the colour palette is denied any subtlety by the annoying and expected inter-title "Now" several shots later. Need one also note that the colour employed in these inter-titles is ... duh! ... Red?

A tribute to the penchant of directing duo Abbas-Mustan to have a misspelled sign in their movies (I remember Khiladi and Baazigar) comes in the form of the Hindustan Times headline "the greiving widow."

A tribute to Bollywood's refusal to worship the details is evident in the sequence when a cop holding an iron rod from the scene of a crime is asked to send it for fingerprints. The tendency of going overboard with technical devices is evident when a nice narrative technique of inter-cutting moments in the present and the near past is overused.

If you thought Bhatt was going to reveal an immaculately presented B- forest cake under this icing of quotes and tributes, you picked the wrong tree to hug. Given a trio that seems to have found a font to educate a wretched pleasure in wallowing with dour faces and sour lines, you can only try and seek solace in the occasional pearls that the dialogue track coughs up. Sushant Singh hams away with glee and lends an eerie depth of sincerity to his part as the investigating officer. There is a calm confidence when he notes the three reasons for a crime (zar, joruu, zamiin) or when he riffs on nahii.n jaanataa. It's a pity that he has to share footage with the murderers of choice lines like you've not only given me a life; you've also given me a reason to live, you used me in bed and I used you out of it, tumane merii zi.ndagii me.n zahar milaayaa, aur mai.nne use champagne me.n and I'm ready to die in love, I'm ready to kill in love, but I'm not ready to be a fool in love. The only ray of hope emerges when a manager at Sea View offers his reason for thinking that a now deceased guest was an honest man: wo hameshaa ek hii la.Dakii ke saath aate the. Oh! If only that had come with an accompanying subtitle that read he was singularly unfaithful.

When The Nose was chosen to deliver chart-busting songs for the soundtrack, he churned out a standard set of sneezes laced with infectious riffs, thumps (consider aafariin) and ridiculous lines (loneliness is killing everyone). These also meet a dire fate at the chopping block of ennui.

The previews throve in mendacity. Skin-hungry viewers were duped by the visuals into expecting a G-rated ménage à trois, but only got the trademark Bollywood sniffing and a shot of Celina Jaitley standing like a man in the gym ready to do some sets with dumbbells. This epidermal treachery seemed very much in keeping with flicks like Girlfriend and Paap.

One is only left in the vermeil darkness contemplating all the promise that this flick held.

Monday, February 04, 2008

incoming traffic

last post in this series

* utopian vision meghna actress: Gulzar, Kothari or Naidu? The first has no known desire to face the camera, the second has aces like Prem Aggan and Vadh in her kitty and the third bounced about the screen in lipidinous levity featuring in Classic Dance Of Love and promised to break new ground with sleaze master Karan Razdan's Shock (sadly not much has been heard of this film since). I fail to see the utopian angle.
* daya nayak licensed to kill telugu: Was his target the people or the film industry? Surely, he wouldn't want to deny us the blessings of Balaya?
* is old tb6 channel has come back and on which satellite?: I don't know dude, but I'm sure you've already found out by now.
* samay item song dancer: Aah, you must have been looking for this long piece dedicated to the first film of the director of MP3: Mera Pehla Pehla Pyaar...

A pie chart tells me that most of the incoming traffic comprises innocent first-timers. Boy! This must be one scary portal.

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