Monday, August 24, 2009

a blast of bappi

As we lament the passing of an age of lyrical dross so bad it was hilarious, let us pause to shower laurels on one such master stroke in the late 90s from the jewel-clad master. Boppi-da ensured the cult credentials of the Sunil Shetty/Jeetendra law and odour flick Judge Mujrim with Jolly Mukherjee belting out lailaa o lailaa. Was this Boppi-da's tribute to the Shah brothers? Perhaps we will never know. Meanwhile, we can surely sit back and relish the interplay of language, the blending of metaphors in this abbatoir of rhyme embellished with the obligatory bridge of rap. Presented below is the "neat" version of the song (no repetitions, no loops)

हम तुम दोनों मिल गए
प्यार की tuning हो गयी
हर morning तेरी हो गयी
हर evening तेरी हो गयी

लैला हो लैला तू है लैला
छैला मैं छैला मैं तेरा छैला

आ हा नज़र क्या तेरी है
आ हा कमर क्या तेरी है
आ हा अदा क्या तेरी है
आ हा उम्र क्या तेरी है

आ हा ये गाल टमाटर से
आ हा ये होंठ गाजर से
आ हा तू बोतल शरबत की
आ हा टू गोरी पनघट की

तेरे रूप की बिजली से
मेरे दिल में lighting हो गयी

आ हा तू गुडिया जापानी
आ हा तू परियों की रानी
आ हा तू चाँद पूनम का
आ हा तू कतरा शबनम का

आ हा छलकता जाम है तू
आ हा सुनहरी शाम है तू
आ हा तू model 96
आ हा तू गोरी गोरी miss

मेरे दिल के garden में
तेरे प्यार की कलियाँ खिल गयीं
हर morning तेरी हो गयी
हर evening तेरी हो गयी

Monday, August 17, 2009

kaminey: genesis

[in which it is obvious that I've seen the film]

be warned that some elements herein may be regarded as spoilers

Kaminey opens with very little of the dross that inundates most Bollywood releases these days. The dross comprises acknowledgements to various media partners, outdoor partners, brand partners, various names both familiar and unfamiliar, miscellaneous logos and the like (My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves might have set a new record with about 1 minute and 54 seconds of such sycophantic fellatio before the film's title came up).

Vishal's film opens with an acknowledgement to Mira Nair and the Maisha Film Lab in Kampala. Then there are two screens of names (including familiar ones like Abhishek Chaubey) after which we get a screen proclaiming "UTV Motion Pictures presents." The next screen bears the interesting "based on an idea by Cajetan Boy."

Maisha is the brainchild of Mira Nair and aims to be "a film makers laboratory dedicated to developing and supporting visionary screenwriters and directors from East Africa and South Asia." The first lab for screenwriters was held in Kampala, Uganda from August 3rd to August 13th, 2005. The mentors for the workshop were Mira Nair, Matthew Robbins, Vishal Bhardwaj, Steve Cohen, Sabrina Dhawan, and Sooni Taraporevala. Vishal fans will probably recognise the name of Matthew Robbins. One of the 10 screenplays chosen for the workshop was titled Roho and it was written by a Kenyan named Cajetan Boy. Vishal had more in an interview:

Where did Kaminey originate? Was it an incident or a film or a book that inspired you?
Four years ago, Mira Nair assembled writers from America, India and Canada to mentor ten students from Asia and Africa. This scriptwriting workshop was held in Kampala, Yuganda[sic]. A young writer from Nairobi showed me a script which was a story about twin brothers and what happens in their life in a span of 24 hours. It was like parallel cutting and I really liked that approach. Mira and I spoke about it at length and both of us felt that it was a typical Bollywood masala movie. I was in touch with that writer for the next six months. He also sent me another draft. Then two-three years later I asked him to sell me the idea. He was in need of money so I sent him some 4000 dollars and bought the script to make any time. I picked up that idea and added Bollywood masala and my dark and serious side to it. So now, one brother stammers and the other has a lisp.

Vishal didn't stop with merely adding the disabilities, the wide array of colourful characters, his trademark dialogue and the other elements reinforcing his belief in the utility of Bollywood conventions in interesting ways. He also tossed in a credit for Cajetan Boy. And that was not all -- Vishal decides to use the name Cajetan for one of the many characters in his tapestry. This gets us more than a couple (if memory serves me right) of utterances of the name. It is also a credited appearance, so we read the name in the end credits (those who stomped over all the popcorn on the floor the moment the dissolve to black happened can pretend they saw this).

The film's merits notwithstanding, this is one of those simple yet masterful gestures that makes people like Vishal stand out in a sea full of plagiarising halfwits and mendacious morons.

Cajetan, one is happy to report, is pleased with all this.

Friday, August 14, 2009

makes sense and whatever

being a collection of news crumbs about developments that can be explained, are unfortunate and yet predictable (given my cheery cynical disposition) -- things only make me go "what else could I expect?"

Celebrate India's Independence with another round of the twin-blade sword from MARTA -- that's route cuts combined with a fare increase, dearies. The usual reasons unfold -- the refusal of those who manage the affairs of the state to give more than lip service to the importance of public transit being the most familiar. MARTA had done this a few years ago; the consequences are easily explained -- even fewer people will consider trying transit worth their while; even fewer people will see it as a way to save money; the transit system's sole saving grace continues to be the train (and the airport is the most important destination). CCT, meanwhile, continues to remain a 6-day affair, taking time off on Sundays. This continues to a lot of streets in the county viable as locations for I Am Legend: II. Oh, and before I forget, fares will go up by a quarter on the eve of Gandhi Jayanti. Surely some celebrations must be organised at the Martin Luther King Centre (you can take the train).

After promising to fix the much-abused and rather pathetic immigration system and policies of the USA during his campaign and after assuming office, President Barack Obama has rescheduled it for 2010. The current blockbuster is the healthcare (such a contradiction in terms) system. David and Goliath, ladies and gentlemen. I appreciate any effort to make the system more meaningful and useful instead of resembling something like outtakes from Brazil, but being the well-meaning cynic that I am, I'll wait till something happens. Meanwhile, the insurance companies will continue to run as well-oiled businesses funded by the healthy and denied to the sick.

As for all you people out there working with an H-1B and an honest résumé (if you're one of those douchebags with dilated credentials furnished by brethren from the back offices, please ignore this and drink from a can of expired milk) -- rest assured that the government will accept all your money through various agencies. The government also offers faster service at a higher price (remember H-1B renewals, I-140 applications?) -- which makes one wonder what they were doing when offering regular service that took so long.

The rant has ended. Go in peace to shed some more dead presidents.

kaminey: early praise

Vishal Bhardwaj seems destined to be the guinea pig for all sorts of strange SNAFUs associated with film releases. Anurag Kashyap's problems were limited to censor bans. But the creative and talented Mr. Bhardwaj has had to deal with obscurity (Maqbool seems to have gained its admirers and fans almost completely by word of mouth and the occasional articles lavishing praise), hype dying with a whimper (a lot more was written about The Blue Umbrella before it finally hit the marquee, at which point it seemed to slide all the way out), strangely disappointing initial collections followed by a backlash of prudery (Omkara). And now it's the H1N1 wave that has prevented it from hitting the marquee back home in Bombay and Pune. The film has hit the marquee overseas and, as with Omkara, seems destined to get most of its early reviews from abroad (local limited screenings for critics notwithstanding).

And the early notes are promising. Nay! They are extremely encouraging in an eerie way. Raja Sen ends his enthusiastic take with Awefome!; Another positive review ends with praise for the director; Nikhat Kazmi gives it a full-star rating before gushing about it as does the Indian Express and Vasan Bala is drooling over at PFC. Anupama Chopra, writing for NDTV, starts by calling it the best Bollywood film she's seen this year. Taran Adarsh, the reviewer from hell, who pretends to be a critic while looking at films like a baniyaa, also has good things to say, ending with four stars out of five. Lisa Tsering (reportedly "the first Western journalist to write about Bollywood and Indian pop culture for the Indian press") calls it a smart vivid thriller. Baradwaj appreciates Vishal's respect for the audience's intelligence as he unfurls a favourable review. Rajeev Masand gives "this imaginative and original film" four stars out of five. Over at The Hindu, Sudhish Kamath is "dying to watch it again." Minty Tejpal loves the film (adding a disclaimer that he worked with Vishal on the screenplay of The Blue Umbrella) and can't get the tune out of his head.

And if you thought I was just looking at the good notes, allow me to offer Khalid Mohamed's take (the guy can't even spell "Bhardwaj" right, though).

[Cross-posted on the Vishal Bhardwaj blog]

Saturday, August 08, 2009

mind it! see it!

It started in 1993 or 1994 with shorts on Channel [V] featuring a South Indian cowboy mouthing lines and attitude reminiscent of Rajnikant, but with an attitude of his own. The cowboy became an unbeatably original icon of Indian pop/pulp culture and Shashank Ghosh was famous. Well, to be precise, Quick Gun Murugan was famous and Shashank Ghosh was a name that rang a bell for credit watchers and trivia-mongers.

Years later, Ghosh made his first full length feature, Waisa Bhi Hota Hai, Part II, an irreverant undersung darkly comic tale of Bombay, the underworld, urban angst, pop fantasies and Bollywood clichés, machismo and the first time we heard of Rabbi Shergill. It was destined to become a cult favourite.

Several years later, word floats about a full-length feature adventure of everyone's favourite South Indian cowboy. Then Shashank Ghosh started blogging on PFC. And then, the film sprang out on screen at IFFLA 2009 and the reviews indicated that all was well.

And now, the trailers have flooded the Internet. Rajendra Prasad with his Sivaji Ganesan looks mouths lines destined to be immortal (I am cowboy / this is my duty); there are odes to The Terminator, Rajnikant and his physics-defying sticks of nicotine, there are tips of the hat to Vijaykant (can you go wrong with these two? you can't!) and the priceless resounding ballast from Tridev:

[hindi version]
करमभूमी मेरा आँगन (आँगन (आँगन (आँगन (आँगन ))))
terrace मेरा नील गगन (गगन (गगन))
ये पूरा दुनिया मेरा वतन (वतन (वतन (वतन (वतन ))))

my name is मुरुगन
क्विक गण मुरुगन

[english version]
the (दे) earth (यर्त) is my bed (bed (bed (bed (bed))))
the sky is my ceiling
the whole creation is my native place

my name is murugan
quick gun murugan

The theatrical trailer snags immortality with the coolest pair of intertitles in a while (they made him a past tense / now he will make their future tense).

There's Nasser as the deliciously named villain, Rice Plate Reddy; Rambha as Mango Dolly and Raju Sundaram as Rowdy MBA. Watch out for Ranvir Shorey and Vinay Pathak. The ears are already licking their drums in glee. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

mind it!

Here are the original shorts to watch while you wait: number 1, number 2 and number 3.

update [august 10, 2009]: Siddhartha graciously points me to a video of Mika's song for the film. Ostentatious! ये है rebel without a cow is a stroke of staggering genius.

boppi-da kaa naam: only boppi-da

This is for JR, whose instant message unleashed an investigation of old LP cover scans and the stash of guilty pleasures with Bollywood's own Maaikaal Jeksaan at the composing helm.

It all started with an instant message and a pointer to a post over at PFC dedicated to Bollywood songs with crazy lyrics (the kind of stuff that can keep a blog running for eons, mates). The fragment of interest was:

For the uninitiated it would be interesting to note that Bappida used the pseudonym Basavalingaiah Hiremath when he sang his songs like Jeele le Jee le and I am a Disco Dancer !!

image courtesy: asian image

I'm not one of those Bappi fans who keeps a little altar in the house of the portly plagiarist adorned with gold chains and cheap sunglasses, but his ouevre has been a guilty pleasure -- he has betrayed flashes of brilliance and balanced them with buckets of mediocrity. Toss in a zany accent, a penchant for outrageous lyrics and a warped sense of cool and we get one of the most unique personalities stomping about Bollywood. But I digress. The point is: I've never heard about this pseudonymous business. I have images of the record covers of Tarzan and Chalte Chalte; I have a CD compilation that includes the songs of Disco Dancer; I have several other compilations and record scans of other soundtracks and none (I repeat none) of them choose any appellation other than Bappi Lahiri (the stray Bhappi Lahiri notwithstanding). A fellow Bopper agrees. Unfortunately, it has been quite impossible to find out how this rumour started. It's hard to believe that the real Basavalingaiah Hiremath (a Kannada singer?) indulged in this bit of inspired publicity. The Wikipedia page dedicated to the man cites the results of a Google search as evidence. Pah!

I think it's time for Bappi to sue again.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

that's what it's all about

I wonder why the verbs mention and discuss were robbed of their transitive status. What could have encouraged someone to completely ignore a free spot for the object and choose to make their own along with the preposition about as a prefix. People have decided to stop discussing things and have started discussing about them -- if you want a ghastly visual to match this, please consider Rajesh Khanna and Nanda cavorting about an unidentified garden in The Train. People have stopped mentioning things and have decided to mention about them -- circumlocutory chaos once again. We've got enough wasted clones of that preposition to fill several galaxies. Trim your utterances and sentences; make them a word lighter. There are places where it will be happier. Think about it.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

a-tishoo (Dhishum)

[link courtesy: Siddhartha]

a rose is a rose
a nose is a nose
a toese is a toese

Ditching his cap didn't do much for him (his asphyxiated hair might have breathed gulps of relief, however). A tail of numerologically sound, linguistically challenged onomatopoeiac titular adjustments didn't help either. The bearer of the only voice known to offer serious competition to Madame Mangeshkar's silicate shattering sonance has gambled on another attempt to stupefy his fans, extend the destructive reach of his olfactory astra and gone down to South Africa (inspired by the mondegreen that Prem Granth was really Prem Grunt, no doubt) and funded the addition of a new voice to his laryngeal catalogue:

Himesh has quietly put himself through surgery a couple of months ago and added one more voice, apart from his nasal voice. He has now become the only singer to have two completely different voices and the new voice will be heard in his forthcoming films. He has already recorded songs in his new voice.

Watch out for the next edition of the Sneeze Book of World Records.

Those with a knowledge of music theory and acoustics will find something to relish in the utter fiction of the details of the operation:

Apart from his nasal voice, he has now added a different voice which is a base middle octave. This way, he will have two distinct voices and anybody who indentifies him with his style will never be able to say that the other voice is also his.

If anyone knows what base[sic] middle octave means, please drop me a line or drop a comment hereabouts. Meanwhile, we will await the stridulations consequent of the soniferous surgical stint. merii.n aa.Nwaa.Nze.n su.Nno.n!

the origins of a tribute to armaan kohli?

Unknown [May 06, 2007]: There were two reasons I can think of that made me sit and watch Unknown, when a friend had unearthed the film. The first was that it was, for me, just like the title said (I hadn't heard of it, dummy). The second was that it had Jim "They Call Me Jesus" Caviezel. It seemed like a good thing to find out what else he had been in before he was crucified forever. The film's premise was interesting: a few men wake up in a warehouse with no memory of who they are and what has brought them here. If you wanted a high concept version, think Reservoir Dogs meets Memento meets The Usual Suspects. Things are reasonably engaging but there are plot holes that might compete with the Grand Canyon. There's also a certain ebb in the pace at times. However, given that this was a relatively minor flick, there was no hype to damage my reaction and define expectations for me. It also turned out that Caviezel was not the only familiar name on the roster -- one also had Greg Kinnear, Joe Pantoliano and Peter Stormare.

[the present] Perhaps what kept me from writing about this film two years ago was someone like the Traveller, who whispered into my ear telling me that I wasn't alone in having seen this minor flick. There was another way of describing this film for the high concept crowd: Think Kaante with a twist. Woo hoo! Lo! After having received a tenured position at Sanjay Gupta Cine-Copiers LLC with the variegated Ek Khiladi Ek Hasina, Suparn Varma announced his next directorial venture -- a film called Acid Factory. As a title, this fit the kind of stuff Sanjay Gupta blessed. The teaser trailer sports the familiar tropes of the Gupta school of filmmaking -- leather-clad alpha male figures, chases, automobile crash ballets with pirouettes to put the worst Bollywood physics to shame. But it's the premise -- something that is hardly evident in the teaser -- that gives it all away:

[from the official page]
Acid Factory is about a group of characters whose sense of past has vanished in a haze of coma like sleep they have woken up from only to discover that reality could be a figment of their imagination.
Five men wake up inside the stolid confines of a factory to find themselves locked in this claustrophobic nowhere land.

The page continues to reveal more plot details than you would like to know, if you were planning to watch Unknown. But if it's a Bolly-flick you are interested in, plot hardly matters. You're in it for the obeisance to testosterone, for the objectification of the female form, for the coolness of moronic utterances, for the cheap version of a Michael Bay soundscape. The warehouse becomes the titular entity, while Moynahan becomes Mirza in what looks like another unholy ripoff. It's the 21st century and for every No Smoking, Johnny Gaddaar, 15 Park Avenue, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and Dil Dosti, Etc, we still get stuff like this on which star power, cash and kind are showered. Time to return to Streets of Fire ... oops Tezaab. Oh well. Perhaps that old Armaan Kohli classic then. Here are a few tablets to revive your memory, O lover of Bollycrap: hamanashii.n, mai.n kaun huu.N and kitanaa pyaar tumhe.n karate hai.n

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