Saturday, June 27, 2009

and they all shine on

[link courtesy: Siddhartha]

The Shiney Ahuja affair has already given the media enough to produce reams of speculative trash and jabber including meaningless discussions about morality, worries about the dark alleys of Bollywood (attention! paging Madhur Bhandarkar!) and general features on parties supporting and condemning Shiney Ahuja. The most rewardingly inevitable consequence was the emergence of films based on this incident. Qamar Hajipuri is about to unleash upon our senses a film starring unknowns named Divya Dwivedi and Hiten Rajgour. The film's title is emphatically unsubtle -- Chamak - The Shyning. It's a pity that Kabeer Kaushik's poorly welcomed sophomore flick wasn't released now. It could've benefitted from some cool marketing.

The other flick is a veritable tribute to Madhur Bhandarkar's exercises in clichéd exposés with a single word for a title. It is also helmed by Bollywood's finest living B-maker, Kanti Shah (you know, the guy who made Loha [the newer one mateys, not the Raj Sippy multistarrer with its ode to the silver-bodied Lassie Prima] and Gunda (yeah! you've heard of that one). The film is called Rape and we should expect to see a lot of that in it.

Since Madhur Bhandarkar was involved in a real-life case of his own and since that was already exploited in Madhubala, we must settle for whatever Messrs. Hajipuri and Shah have to offer.

Friday, June 26, 2009

when he would have been 70

The late Rahul Dev Burman would have turned 70 today. Since he passed away in 1994, he has achieved the iconic status reserved only for those who pass from the world of the living to the world of the dead. He has his share of fans and detractors. He gets his share of criticism for all the "inspired" songs he made. There will be the occasional article, perhaps a new book or a new documentary about his music. One also hopes that efforts like the Panchammagic shows continue, if only in the hope that more people might find out why his work found a lot of praise, and fans and how his ouevre has influenced many.

There are so many examples in the work of the now separated Pandit brothers (notes about a recent discovery can be found here). There's that "Pancham" rhythm (hardly his invention, but something that shows up prominently in his work) showing up in songs (aaj ham ne dil kaa har from Sir). That isn't the only Anu Malik song that owes something to the late RDB. Consider paagal paagal from his non-film album Ho Raha Hai Sama, which sounds like it was composed while he was listening to raat krismas kii thii in a loop.

Meanwhile, it's a relief to know that there's always something new one can discover in the canon. Consider how the title track for The Train contains elements that showed up again in the title track for Trimurti (typical Bollyfare).

Excuse me, but it's time to go back and savour the joys of the little-heard title track of the Kumar Gaurav starrer Siyasat.

wuxia noir?

Zhang Yimou (he who made Hero, among other things) is all set to remake The Coen Brothers classic Blood Simple. The Stunning Case Of The Three Gun Shots (echoes of Erle Stanley Gardner?) marks an interesting addition to an ant hill of trivia. The Coen exercise in modern noir derived its title from a Dashiel Hammett novel called Red Harvest featuring The Continental Op, a man with no name. Kurosawa's classic Yojimbo was reportedly based on this novel. Sergio Leone unofficially adapted Yojimbo into the first edition of his famous Spaghetti Western trilogy, A Fistful of Dollars. Years later, Walter Hill re-imagined Yojimbo in Prohibition-era Texas with Last Man Standing.
Yeah, yeah, I've written about all this before, but who cares.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

the appropriator of melodies strikes again

Years ago I caught a film called Bhavna on the good old DD one late night. The film was a Shabana Azmi vehicle about a woman going through almost everything that could go wrong. Several years later (aka today, dear patient reader), I fished out one of my many HamaraCD compilations -- a two-fer with Bappi helming the music console, Bhavna and Dil Se Mile Dil. Bhavna opened with Kavita Paudwal and Asha Bhosle trading lines on dekho din ye. The Rajesh Roshan-esque elements of the arrangement didn't do much to erode that strong familiar feeling of having heard this melody before. A few hours later, the proverbial a-ha moment arrived. Bappi was probably visiting one of Disney's numerous theme parks with his family when that infectious earworm by the Sherman Brothers called It's A Small World made its way into his tune banks, emerging, faster than you could say "Mickey Mouse," as a duet for Bollywood. Surely, he thought, this wouldn't hurt ol' Walter's feelings.

For your viewing pleasure, here's Richard Sherman and here's Bappi's (re)creation.

J2EE caesar (aka IT groans)

Was Mark Antony the earliest known J2EE deployment engineer? You would think so.

In contrition, allow me to offer you a relatively less lauded Bappi gem from Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam (a movie that will make it to the history books for featuring Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit). Maya Govind spins a song rife with the clichés of the cold and the warm benefits of intimacy, but effects a masterful flourish by opening it with a rhyme joining two unlikely items -- a red tie and a cot at home. Go figure.

the thriller is gone

I kid thee not. The King of Pop is no more. Smooth criminals responsible for "original" works of art like jii le (Avinash) [watch it] and golii maar (Donga) [watch this or this abbreviated but higher quality version] (link to no video] may now step up to the microphone to tell us what a great loss this is.

In older news, Joginder Shelly passed away on June 15. If Ranga Khush doesn't ring a bell, don't bother scratching your brain cells to figure out who Joginder was. If you hear the gong, you'll also remember him from Mard (the one pitting the Big B against the Big Bad British), Loha and Mehndi.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

vishal, hrithik: rumour or truth?

JR has beat me to the news bit about Hrithik Roshan being in Vishal's next project. Since this is supposed to be an original work and not based on something from the Bard, one is eager to hear more and, as always, one must wait impatiently.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

rondo rashomondo

The beauty of American arrogance is that they can't imagine a world where they're not a step ahead.

the time Imagine Kurosawa's masterpiece stripped of any personal perspective, stripped of any engaging surprise, peppered with a rudimentary mix of politics, intrigue, elementary conspiracy theory and what might be the most expository intertitles ever invented. That might suffice to give you an idea of what to expect from Vantage Point. We open with a time. No date. Just a time. And then we get the first of the many converging short episodes. We get Sigourney Weaver skipping about the fence between a professional doing her job and an actress slumming miserably. We also get Forest Whitaker earnestly trying to convince us that all the praise lavished on his acting prowess (not to mention that Oscar for The Last King of Scotland) was all a big mistake. the motif The film unfolds as a set of sequences conveniently bookmarked with a stark helpful note that we are about to get a flashback from a different angle. Each segment ends like all smart soap operas with some character dropping his or her jaw in shock -- the unsuspecting audience is denied a peek at what the character sees. As the intertitles get dumber and surpass all expectations of exposition, we are treated to a furiously edited car chase, some shooting, more crashes, an accident (more than once), some closure and a tribute to JFK paranoia. Dennis Quaid looks sincere (or perhaps he's just suffering from jet lag) and William Hurt's quiet earnest seriousness feels like an art cinema tribute to David Caruso's silky Horatio on CSI: Miami. Good product placement for the Sony HDV1080i, though the motif and the time

oye turing! turing oye!

captcha goes indian.

CAPTCHA goes to desiiland. 'Nuff said.

ramakrishna jimmy shankar blows out the candles

ज़हर पीकर दुनिया को अम्रीत[sic] बाँटने वाला ... शंकर ... शंकर mechanic. चेहरे पर lorry के headlight की तरह जो दो आँखें लगी हुयी हैं न अगर उसे खोलकर देखोगी तो पता चलेगा ये रास्ता नहीं खेत है.

Don't you utter that name without रस्पेक्ट. Consider yourself lucky (pause) that you are born on this pious land (pause) where (pause) that noble आत्मा had taken बार्त. You ill-informed brats! You don't डिज़ार्व to be called Indians. You should be thankful to God (pause) that we work hard in the burning sun to grow crops for you worthless क्रेचर्स. Now get lost and don't step on this land again (pause) with your dirty feet. Get lost!

Happy birthday to the real Guru.

Monday, June 15, 2009

DB entendre

It is unlikely that anyone will displace database administrators as the practitioners of scatalogical innuendo in the world of information technology. DBAs have elevated a simple four letter word to epic floors of meaning, thanks to the importance of the solidarity and integrity of data as well as the need to create copies of working systems quickly. While others may take comfort in the different ways database servers help you, we can flush our woes away with some choice utterances.

What do I do with an 800 MB dump? (betrays the speaker's incompetence in babysitting Godzilla)

अगर तुम मुझे अपना dump दोगे तो मैं अपने dump के साथ क्या करूंगा? (reveals a strain of possessive insecurity)

we can restore the dump in minutes (what goes out must come back in)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

shutters down?

Perhaps it's just another one of those terrible trailers that the clueless marketing types in Hollywood create. Perhaps it's meant to be an ode to B-movies. The trailer for Martin Scorsese's next film Shutter Island is out and I am not really excited. Although it marks the first Scorsese film to feature Ben Kingsley and Mark Ruffalo, it also marks the return of his current muse Leonardo DiCaprio sounding like he just got off the sets of The Departed. It's the third Dennis Lehane book to make it to the screen (I liked Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone) and is the first one pitched as a horror/thriller. That alone might mark a first for Scorsese with its mix of gothic horror and B-movies. Perhaps this is Scorsese doing The Devil's Backbone. Perhaps I'm just being unjust to a promising cast (Max von Sydow, Jackie Earle Haley). Oh well. Let us pray for number 67.

Friday, June 05, 2009

RGV does the unseen

If RGV is to be believed (spoiler!), the audience of Agyaat (theatrical trailer) will never see what the ill-fated film crew see in the film (yes, yes, yes, The Blair Witch Project but most importantly the legacy of Jacques Tourneur and Val Lewton). You, dear viewer, will not see what makes Nisha Kothari's pupils (and her body) dilate in fear. Wandering in the jungle (Predator), the crew presumably suffers a reduction in force (that's just my reading of the film in advance -- a "horror" film as a metaphor for the job situation in America) à la And Then There Were None (or Gumnaam, if you so wish you Bollywood-loving ignoramus). The clips confirm this and also offer a preview of the familiar RGV tropes including the Evil Dead-esque POV jaunts through the jungle (a place RGV has explored before). Enjoy the Sri Lankan foliage and Amar Mohile's thundering foreground music. I just hope RGV doesn't pull a whimper at the end of the bang (see: Raat). Could this be the movie that marks a return to form and appeal? Wait till this can hits the marquee. Until then, go watch Army Of Darkness and mourn the death of Duke Nukem Forever.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

google docxs

Google Docs has added support for the DOCX and XLSX (YuckX!) formats that Office 2007 uses. I found out about the lack of support late last year and was waiting for this day. I like the new formats because you get smaller files, you deal with ZIP archives based on a rather well-documented format that uses XML and you also get to do cool things because of that. The last bit may not matter much to most people, but I think the new format makes it easier for people to write tools to do cool things with the files. WooX HooX!
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