Thursday, February 26, 2009

deux and deux

Yours truly is pleased and tickled to announce with geminiform glee that the guess about the second singer on the track heard in Kaminey's trailer has paid off. The singer is indeed Vishal Dadlani. The Vishal/Vishal collaboration is a creative echo of the doubles (Charlie and Guddu) in the film. Reportedly, Vishal Bhardwaj had joined Sukhwinder Singh after kash lagaa (No Smoking) to belt out the track, but convinced Vishal Dadlani to sing the final version. This of course makes me pine to hear the original cut with the director's voice, especially considering Vishal Dadlani's comments about the track (even if they are probably the kind of diplomatic comments people are inclined to make):

Apparently, the song was already recorded and Vishal [Dadlani] was sent across the CD to hear it out once. So impressed was Vishal with the voice in the song that he instantly called up Vishal Bhardwaj and enquired about the singer.

"To my utter surprise, I was informed that Vishal Bhardwaj had himself sung the song. He had done such a brilliant job that I tried persuading him to retain the voice for the final cut as well. However, he wasn't willing to do so and wanted another voice for the song. I am happy that he considered me for the song"

The not-so-Faustian pact signed by the two springs the promise of Vishal (Bhardwaj) singing for Vishal (-Shekhar). Put your hands up in the air now!

Squeeze the day; crack the piggy bank. Now if only some news item would talk about the lyricist.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

kaminey: the firft glimpfe

At leaft we now know the official pofter fpelling: Kaminey (the trailing 'y' raifef the iTranf error count, unfortunately). Fahid Kapur lookf interefting (and alfo lookf like FRK in the dark fcenef) and the brief glimpfe of Priyanka Chopra (who reportedly playf a Maharaftrian [gulp!]) ifn't grating.

The cutf are furiouf and the backing track if awefome. One fenfef the prefence of the big G what with talkf of dil nicho.De.n and raat kii maTakii to.De.n; if it ifn't the big G but fomeone like Munna Dhiman doing a big G, thif will mark the firft time that VB will direct without him (and would be a grotefque difappointment). I recognifed Fukhwinder Fingh'f voice, but I'm not fure about the other one; by the time the fong got to paife kaa khel I fuddenly ftarted thinking of Vifal Dadlani. If thif turnf out to be true, it would reprefent fomething cool (The headlinef fcream: Vifal fingf for Vifal!!!). The beat if bound to bring back memorief of Mifirlou (ufed fo memorably in Pulp Fiction), which alfo bringf uf to Vifal D'f rendition of the title track of Caf, which alfo evoked memorief of the track and Tarantino'f flick. The race courfe got me thinking of The Killing.

The font reminded me of the font on the Vertigo pofter, but there'f another opening credit fequence that I juft can't remember. Bad déjà vu, no doubt.

Amole Gupte (he who wrote and almoft directed Taare Zameen Par) makef a big splafh (appearancef in Holi and Mirch Mafala notwithstanding) on the other fide of the camera and deliverf the priceleff line अरे फ को फ नहीं बोलेगा तो क्या ल बोलेगा?. That line would have foared through the roof had it included a cuff word -- if ever there waf a fuitable place for one, that waf it right there. Alaf, the deference to prudery in the nation ftill rulef the rooft even in thif decade.

I got the fenfe of a defire to capture natural light without the need to make thingf look gloffy. I don't know if that'f a quality of the film or juft the uploaded trailer.

I love the trailer. There'f minimal expofition and it definitely ticklef your curiofity. Fit! I now have to wait till the foundtrack comef out to calm my eager felf. Viva Vifal!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

the music of Billu Barber

While JR eloquently lavishes praise to the deserving outstanding soundtracks of Dev.D and Delhi 6, YT will revive the bags of wordy warble dedicated to soundtracks with a track list that marks a moderate return to form for Pritam, the Friar of Filch, who remained interesting with his "revisions" until he started sounding like assembly-line product. It seems quite fair to connect this to the presence of Gulzar (who first collaborated with Pritam on Just Married) on the soundtrack (well, at least part of it -- but more about that after a few measures).

The 15 tracks are really just 7 tracks, a reprise, a video edit and 6 remixes. The first track marajaaNii opens with a crescendo of triumphant brass, drums and strings that would not have sounded out of place on the outtakes of Muthu. Electronica sets in promptly after this before an energetic male chorus pan-tossed across the speakers. The booty-shaking beat almost distracts you from the surprising barrage of eloquence mouthed by Sukhwinder Singh. When was the last time you heard an item song where the lyrics drew your attention?

ठीक है ठीक ठीक सब कुछ ठीक है
पास है सब कुछ रब नज़दीक है

रब के हज़ूर में कसमें भी खा लीं
दुनिया की औनी-पौनी रसमें निभा लीं

Those last two lines got some people worried -- they thought hazuur was a (blasphemous) reference to the Prophet. One wonders why their sensors didn't kick in when the word floated by in bii.Dii. The meaning's plain to see. The rest of the song doesn't let up as Sunidhi Chauhan enters with a rejoinder. Everything mixes in Punjabi (which shouldn't be a surprise for those familiar with Gulzar's work) builds up to a chorus telling the world to go to hell (civilly, of course). The a.ntaraa offers more excursions into ridiculous rhyme and you can't help smile at जो सर में सोच आयेगी तो पाँव में मोच आयेगी. There's an interlude mixing gibberish (until further notice, that is) followed by the bogus tongue-in-cheek rock guitar storm of notes that, for me, works less as a Pritam trademark than a tribute to the coda of jaaved bhaaii so rele (surely you know where that came from).

We'll stay in the garden of roses, since the big G contributed just two more songs. The first one's the pick of the album. Gulzar's acknowledged skills at adapting to the milieu of the film are put to fine use as he chops up delicious slices of dialect in billuu bhaya.nkar with Ajay Jhingran, Raghuvir Yadav and Kalpana doing enthusiastic justice to the film. Yadav's verbal break offers an interesting counterpoint to the recent silliness about the derogatory casteist overtones of the word barber:

किसी राजा महाराजा को राजू राजू कह के बुलाओगे का? ये बिल्लुआ को हज्जाम नाही Barber कहकर बुलाओ और ऊ भी इज्जत से ... बिल्लू Barber

This clearly tells you that the word that people should have scorned was hajaam. Unfortunately, those that gripe and protest are rarely known for their appreciation of the subtle, let alone the obvious. They choose to throw pebbles at large objects (which must explain why the past is laced with some really interesting stuff got by with ease).

Gulzar's final contribution Kudaayaa Kair is marred by an unexciting arrangement that mixes catchy motifs into a blend that is annoyingly familiar and punctures the promise of the lyrics. There's only so much that Soham Chakraborty, Monali Thakur and Akriti Kakkar can do (and that dying echo of a male chorus going pyaar promises to get as annoying as the Salim-Sulaiman motif that was scattered all over the soundtrack and aural scape of Fanaa turning lassii into brine. Pritam ropes Abhijeet in to assuage any fans of the Jatin-Lalit-championed smooth singer who has the music track switched to a different key to suit his nose ... um... needs.

And this brings us to what happened after the big G had penned three songs. Enter the demand from SRK to include a catchy line in a song. This was reportedly not how the big G worked. There was no compromise and he bid goodbye to the project. Enter Ashish Pandit (Golmaal Returns) and Mayur Puri (Singh Is Kiing) to take SRK's "hit" line and churn out the Hinglish monster ##love## meraa ##hit hit##. It opens with an ominous wall of electronica, a female chorus chanting gibberish and a vibrant thump (which sounds like a reggaton beat), before Pritam regular Neeraj Shridhar warbles away, loading the gaps with orgasmic tributes to Kumar Sanu.

देखा तुझे देखा मैंने हुआ मैं तो crazy
तौबा मेरी तौबा मेरी कुड़ी है तू s*xy
आजा मेरी बाहों में तू आजा baby love me
आँ आँ आँ आँ आँ आँ

मुझे तू ज़रा-सी हाँ इस दिल में entry दे
छुपा ले यूँ मुझको ना रहे कोई exit

है love मेरा hit hit सोणिये
तो फिर कैसी खिट-पिट सोणिये
तू baby बड़ी fit fit
न कर ऐसे खिट-पिट खिट-पिट

There isn't much Tulsi Kumar can do once she comes in with the a.ntaraa extolling the equality of pahalii aarazuu and aakhirii tamannaa. This isn't a spoof of the silly lyric but a virile gym-going cousin. One wonders if the Talwalkars could have made something of this paean to female fitness.

Sayeed Quadri pens the lyrics for the welcome Rahat Fateh Ali Khan break with jaauu.N kahaa.N, but it makes the return to MoreEnglishThanHinglish territory with you got me rockin' and reelin' quite painful (don't be so curious / nothing mysterious / it's only love that's moving all around us / love is so glorious / love is so marvellous / it's gotten so fine since the day it found us / love is glorious). Kudaayaa Kair's here too but only as a phrase tossed into the soft RnB mix.

And this brings us to the pinnacle of Neeraj Shridhar's contribution to his patron, Sir Pritam. He pens the lyrics for a 70s/80s rock anthem tribute belted out by KK, Rana Mazumdar and Suraj (Jagan?). Once the choral chant channelling Carmina Burana and Jerry Goldsmith's work on The Omen served with an icing of brass fades out, the silence is broken by an electric guitar riff (so familiar!) before a chorus belts out some incendiary nonsense:

Burn 'em up like the sun
Make them burn, make them run
No control in their hands
Burning fire he's a man

Whatever that means.

It's Hinglish all the way as KK breaks in:

आगे आगे चलूँ मैं सदा
यही है मेरी अदा
Don't wanna be looking behind

मंजिल की राहों में हूँ
सब की निगाहों में हूँ
I'm on the move all the time

मैं जाऊँ जिधर भी
ये अम्बर ये धरती
कहे मुझे पुकार के

At which point, the chorus returns announcing the name of the song (and presumably the call of the land and sky) e aa o. Very primal monophthongs. You can hear Rainbow's All Night Long and I Surrender as the song goes on (I'm really curious -- is that riff a lift or a clever inspired original lick?). Perhaps more. KK doesn't get as adventurous as Ian Gillian, Dio or Graham Bonnett and the song doesn't get past being a collection of echoes of good old rock.

The remixes exist to serve the purpose that all remixes on Bollywood soundtracks exist to serve. If you are dying to listen to exhortations to lassies to send their dirty derrieres into motion look no further than the Kilogram's Balkan Mix of mar jaaNii -- any merit that the song had claimed is completely lost as things get lost in a trance of punchy whammy dance floor frenzy.

Try telling people that this was the soundtrack of a film about a hairdresser. That'll get you a laugh louder and richer than any of Priyadarshan's PreviouslyProducedProducts could have.

addendum [february 22, 2009]: There's an interview of Sukhwinder Singh that, unless the transcriber got it wrong, offers something interesting about the soundtrack; when asked about the songs of the film, here's what SS had to say:

I have composed one song for Billo[sic] Barbar, written by Gulzar Saab. It is a very interesting song. After 'Beedi Jalile', Gulzar saab has again experimented with the lyrics and one must listen to the song to understand what I mean.

One wonders which song this is, given that there are just three songs to choose from. Or is this a track that didn't make it to the album?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

transformations galore: OSS humour

It was a dark and stormless night as I stared at a stack trace from the hearts of the JAXP subsystem of JDK 5.0, specifically the Xalan 2.6.0 snapshot shipped by Sun Microsystems under a modified package:

at GregorSamsa.template$dot$0()
at GregorSamsa.applyTemplates()
at GregorSamsa.transform()

GregorSamsa?? Was I seeing visions? An examination of the JDK 5.0 source code (1.5.0_12, to be precise) and the Xalan-J SVN repository told me that I wasn't. All of Kafka's obsession with an individual trapped in a cruel cold bureaucratic labyrinth aside, this is kinda cool in a geeky way. The pun should be obvious if you knew that Xalan's used for effecting XSL transformations. XSLTC (Xalan-J's compiling XML processor) compiles XSL stylesheets into Java classes. A set of such classes is referred to as a translet. A set of steps is followed to determine the name of the main translet class; the final option, should all preceding ones fail, is the built-in default class name, GregorSamsa. Here's the extract from the source code (the comments serve as software development's answer to exposition):

* As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself
* transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was lying on his hard,
* as it were armour plated, back, and if he lifted his head a little he
* could see his big, brown belly divided into stiff, arched segments, on
* top of which the bed quilt could hardly keep in position and was about
* to slide off completely. His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin
* compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes.
* "What has happened to me?", he thought. It was no dream....
protected static String DEFAULT_TRANSLET_NAME = "GregorSamsa";

Saturday, February 14, 2009

ye naaii ho sakataa!

The Saloon and Beauty Parlours Association, the Hairdressers' Associations of Mumbai, the whatever card-foisting Nest Of Naaiis reportedly had a problem with the title of Priyadarshan's latest repackaged ripoff, Billu Barber (the film is a filch from Katha Parayumbol in which writer Sreenivasan plays a barber called Barber [duh!] Balan). The reason offered by Uday Takke, the President of the SBPA, is funnier than any Priyadarshan film can ever hope to be:

We want Billu Barber to be called Billu Hairdresser as barber is a derogatory and insulting term. We choose hairdressing as a profession because it is an art. Also there are many women hairstylists if Billu Barber becomes a hit, women hairdressers will be called barbers too!

Right. This film is supposed to be biographical. What caves do these post-apocalyptic clowns reside in? Don't they know that Bollywood is all about escapist cinema? I don't expect them to understand alliteration and why their alternative title simply sucks (duh!).

Shah Rukh Khan, whose glorified extended special appearance in the film might equal Amitabh Bachchan's in Andha Kanoon in value and audience draw, promptly did the easiest thing he could to tackle the tonsorial tremors: He shaved the Barber from the title. The film has hit the marquee with its trimmed title which will have no doubt confused those who showed up thinking this was a sequel to Billa.

Bathing in the brylcreem of victory at this shave too silly, this trim too traboccant, Takke added more butter to the deadly dish of reason: Barber is a casteist term. Those who think this is an insignificant issue have stunted minds. Stunted minds and unshaven heads ... or undressed naked heads perhaps, since the locally politically correct caste-free term seems to be hairdresser.

is anurag kashyap on a roll?

Dev.D's out in Indian theatres and a few places in the US of A (hint: not here!). An inexplicably discombulated mind continues to prevent me from writing about the music of the film (or of any film for that matter) or about what the film (or any film) seems to promise. But his posts over at PFC, the comments he left at Baradwaj's review of the film and the recent Rediff chat session offered a few nuggets of interest in addition to a glimpse of a bushel of offerings in store. With a release scheduled for Paanch, it seems like the jinx at the box office might well be a thing of the past.

Did you know that our reviewer from hell, Taran Adarsh, is the son of B. K. Adarsh? "Who's B. K. Adarsh?" you ask, scratching your head. The man behind titles like Spy in Rome, Murder in Circus, Harishchandra Taramati, and the most famous of them, the educational film Gupt Gyan released in 1974.

Kashyap's next project is not his SFX-laden big-budget adaptation of the Raj Comics character Doga, but an interesting film called Bombay Velvet (aka mumbaii makhamal, surely) -- what a title! (a cross between Lynch and Lou Reed?) -- based on a real-life personality of the 1960s. The film finds Kashyap teaming again with John Abraham and also stars Kay Kay Menon and Naseeruddin Shah. Kashyap reportedly "roped in two writer friends of his who were the worst critics of No Smoking" These would have to be Vasan Bala and SA Thanikachalam. The writing team also includes Gyan Prakash, a profeesor of history from Princeton. I am all a-guessing about this famous personality.

There's also a reference to writing "low-budget edgy thrillers" two of which are called Happy Ending (duh!) and Chiller Home.

There's a whiff about why things went south with RGV: He cheated on me with another writer so I had to break up with him.

Despite him saying that he's done with writing, you can expect to see a writing credit for Jihaad (produced by Karan Johar; directed by Rang De Basanti co-writer Rensil D'Silva; starring Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Viveik Oberoi) and Shor for Rose Movies (directed by Kunal Kapoor; produced by Goldie Behl)

There's hope that Allwyn Kalicharan will be revived after Doga (A street in Paharganj that figures in Dev.D was the neon-lit foreigner-laden street based on which he had written Allwyn Kalicharan)

The man has lots of interesting rabbits in his hat. Will 2009 be the year of Anurag Kashyap? kash lagaa to that.

Meanwhile, here's the trailer of Gulaal. Warning: not safe for children's ears.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

vishal's next?: and now it's aishwarya rai (bachchan)

In 2002, Vishal had adapted a novel called Pas de Quatre by Australian writer I.A.R. Wylie into a screenplay called Timbuktu (or Timbuctoo according to Stephen Alter's book). His choice for the leads were Vivek (now Viveik, if you will) and Aishwarya Rai with Pankaj Kapur in a "key role." Vishal acquired the filming rights, Abbas Tyrewala worked on the screenplay; Pankaj Kapoor reportedly noted some discrepancies; Robin Bhatt was roped in for a rewrite, but things failed to proceed beyond this. Kyun!... Ho Gaya Na killed the love for the real-life love birds at the box office, Vishal moved on to make The Blue Umbrella, Vivek Oberoi returned to strum Wonder in Omkara and Ms. Rai became a Bachchan.

Now, about 7 years later (aka saat saal baad), Rai-Bachchan and Vishal seem all set to team up on what appears to be the same project. Mrs. Rai-Bachchan notes that they had wanted to work with each other "ever since he was the music composer on a project that got shelved." One wonders if this was Hum Panchi Ek Daal Ke starring Sunil Shetty and Ashutosh Rana (in which Vishal reportedly gave KK his first solo song).

There's more about what happened all those years ago here.

[Cross-posted on the Vishal Bhardwaj blog]

Friday, February 06, 2009

lingua typo grammatostrophe

In which we start by noting a more eloquent reaction from JR to the abominable twisted usage of revert. I haven't seen anyone but the denizens of meraa bhaarat mahaan bandying this niggling neologism. If I am wrong, please let me know.

We now move on a few examples of typographical hilarity resulting from the confusion of homophones spelled differently. How else can you explain I think this works for the soul ... to attach soul to the shoe? The speaker is clearly not alluding to moccasins from Motown; the word was sole, but we can't do much with such examples in the English language, can wee?

And there was the IT guy who had picked up a much-abused phrase derived from the contraction of synchronisation and decided to send out an email asking people to be in sink. Dirty dishes done dirt cheap?

Matters of homophonous abuse hardly get better than using ideal when you meant to write idle (drivel's workshop?)

We now consider countable information, a stellar example of which is the use the indefinite article with news (along with adjectival qualifiers). Surely you've heard This is a really good news (I have unsettling memories of having heard this as the token line of English in an otherwise mostly Marathi film)! And this is a really good news? It's a really bad thing.

A cousin of this artifact is countable assistance, best represented by I want one (small) help from you in Indian offices. Perhaps it's time stores sold measuring cups for assistance and aid. It'd add an ounce or two of value to all the favours done.

Neologisms deserve their own post, but I will leave you with another egregious concoction in the kitchen of rabid redundancy: end goal.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

working from Hell

How would you like to work in an office sporting all of the following kinds of people:

  • X takes all calls in his cubicle on the speaker phone (headsets are available, but X probably is a caveman or a luddite or has strange concerns for his delicate ears)

  • A takes a call on speaker phone, hits the Mute button and then abandons his cubicle for several minutes while the call continues for everyone around to hear

  • B hits the keys on her phone to dial an extension before picking up the handset thus giving you a cheap reproduction of the alien signal in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

  • C is one of many who love who do not believe in conference rooms and choose to have animated discussions in aisles and near cubicles

  • D comes from a tribe of people who lived far apart from one another, never understand why the word "whisper" existed in the English language and always carried out conversations as if they were making ISD calls in the 80s

  • E probably comes from a family hard of hearing, which explains why he/she believes in configuring annoying ringtones on his/her cellphone to the highest possible volume; to make sure it's effective, E occasionally remains away from his/her desk, leaving the cellphone behind on the table (the experiment is always a failure, because everyone except E hears the phone)

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