Wednesday, October 21, 2009

deus ex musica: kollywood kenodoxy

It is time now, O faithful followers of Kollykrap, to return to uncovering the gems of Englishkaran. largeFlower We turn our lens to two other people on the cast roster. The first is la femme Madhumitha (for those unfamiliar with the South Indian fetish for the 'h' as a suffix, please read this as Madhumita). She plays a lass named Sandhya who bears the conventional undiscovered great voice (aka Shreya Ghoshal). For the first half of the film, she's also our heroine. She happens to sing a song surrounded by pastoral props and that song manages to make it to a CD that plays in the car of a famous music director named Deva played, dear attentive reader, by Deva himself. Deva is also the second person, who interests us today, because he also happens to be the music director of the film; put another way, dear reader with a nose of navel-gazing nods, Deva gets to pretend to be impressed by a voice carrying a tune that he composed. It comes with complete orchestration, of course -- something that, in the world of desii-wood, you get for free (especially in farms, fields, jungles and any other place that was chosen to host a ProTools exhibition). Of course, Deva appears pleased with the discovery and makes an attempt to sign the lass up (She don't look like no Shreya Ghoshal, but she shoor sounds like 'er).

Now, with your permission, dear bearer of a patient pair of eyes, I will leap across the intermission to the tail of the film, where, to our bountiful befuddlement, we find that the lass has managed to flit past all obstacles and made it to the recording studio to sing (gasp!) another of Deva's compositions. This song, dear anxious ones, is what you have been waiting for. Here is the complete unadulterated dump of the subtitles accompanying the fictitious warbling in a fictitious world.

oh friend! oh friend!
my dear friend!
touch the peak sans wings!
oh friend! oh friend!
my dear friend!
touch the peak sans wings!
oh friend! oh friend!
my dear friend!
bundle the sorrow and
throw into the fire
moon doesn't have legs
still, isn't it walking in the sky?
clouds doesn't have hands
still, isn't it swimming?
streams doesn't have a mouth
but don't they sing?
oh friend! oh friend!
my dear friend!
touch the peak sans wings!
without curves
can we climb mountains?
flowers smile even
if they live for a day
don't the kites fly sans wings?
waterfall doesn't bother for
the fall and yet it smiles
oh friend! rubber tree has
many wounds on its body
oh friend! it secretes milk
despite the wounds
whatever vanishing in the west
doesn't mean death
east has never forgotten to brighten
the stitching needle
has only one eye
it doesn't feel for its disability
but it stitches clothes
troubles are not thorns but
a ladder to a forthcoming success
even if a torch is held upside down
it would glow upwards
no heights sans sorrows
rainbow won't be visible
if you bow down
make a floor design
after the full stop
sleep with one eye until you succeed
oh friend! oh friend!
my dear friend!
touch the peak sans wings!
oh friend! oh friend!
my dear friend!
bundle the sorrow and
throw into the fire


Saturday, October 17, 2009

it's all in the details

It happened when I was watching Three Days Of The Condor a week ago. I had caught the film on some cable channel years ago and surprisingly seemed to remember most of the important details and events in the film. I had completely forgotten what Condor (Robert Redford) managed to find out through the course of the film; I had also missed the 70s thriller earmarks the film bore: All The President's Men (Redford was in that too), The Parallax View are just two other examples. I also hadn't earned my share of viewed films to understand the various techniques employed in the film. cleanup Watching it again was thus, in several ways, quite rewarding. I have also started noticing all those little details that excite trivia-mongers: licence plates, phone numbers (both fake and the unfortunately real), posters, marquees, commercial brands (subtle product placement) and little things that pop up in the wee corner of the frame. That annoying tic surfaced during the scene when a clean-up crew arrives to "dust" the American Literary Historical Society (the cover for a CIA hub whose crew lay dead). As the van passed I noticed the name of the company: Augean Cleaning Service Inc. Although clearly a front in the context of the film, the firm probably doesn't exist in real life (Google gave me nothing). If it's an invention for the film, it's a great one. Here's why. Augean clearly refers to the King Augeas in Greek mythology, most famous for his stables that housed the most cattle in the nation. These stables were never cleaned until Hercules got his famous assignment (the 12 Labours). The fifth labour was cleaning out these stables. Now you see why the name makes sense. Bravo.

Friday, October 09, 2009

college hijinks: kollywood style

It all started with finding the wrong DVD in a case that purported to contain the digital dreck of International Khiladi. Sathyaraj doesn't look like Akshay Kumar; Namita and Twinkle Khanna are sufficiently unsuitable as lookalikes. And Tamil script does not look like English (what was the last Bollywood DVD that had devanaagarii on it?). collegeDude Still, Englishkaran (loosely translated: English dude, aka अंग्रेज़ीवाला) had supposedly been a big commercial hit. Since successful mainstream cinema -- be it any flavour of देसीwood -- usually promises to be rather easy on the brain and high on vacuous ambition and a misplaced sense of greatness, this movie didn't seem like a bad alternative with a pinch of iodised salt.
As it turned out, the film was a minor gold mine. As a paladin of piacular pictures, I am compelled to share some of this wealth with you, dear reader. The songs make the most accessible offering. The subtitlers clearly learnt their language in some IT park and nursed lofty ambitions of being poets in the vein of an unholy union between the Romantics and Borges. Without further ado, I present, the title song. As a bonus, there's a shot at the end from a moment in the film during which a rather unusual prop makes its appearance.

these are hard, medial and nasal consonants respectively
good tamil, rich tamil, threesome tamil i can talk all types of 'tamil'
still i am an english person
whatever you can give, offer it
don't refuse whatever offer
don't advertise your wealth
don't lose confidence
shouldn't attain studies
accept criticism
in water scarcity
our nation is struggling
but a nursery rhyme says
'rain rain go away'
a movie song says 'digital gandhi'
movie climax would have cops coming in the end
scientists are our guys,
...go and check it
sprinkle some pepper and ...
it is said to treat sneezing problem
still i am an english person
all tamil nadu ornaments are off to speak hindi
ask the kids to sing
'best dear it is the best'
if the road side neem tree
sports a dot
an hundi is hung on it
like a fast food joint...
... egg and milk are poured into snake mounds
even if hundred periyars come...
...the nation wouldn't reform
there were 3 tamil academies earlier
but now there are umpteen caste parties
i am a chaste tamil
still i am an english person


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

logo bar, search baar baar

Google's new logo is dedicated to the bar code. It's as good as being a tribute to The White Album or Led Zeppelin's fourth album. Two in one. Just for fun.

Google Barcode 2009

Saturday, October 03, 2009

nominal atavism

After hitting the marquee Wake Up Sid is making news not for being a clone of Farhan Akhtar's ouevre but for having caught the ears of Raj Thackeray, the paladin of puerile pugilism and ringleader of the band of boeotian baboons called the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. All because, predictably, for having characters in the film refer to the city now officially known as Mumbai as what it was formerly known as (Bombay). In the interest of commerce, Karan Johar rushed to make amends. MNS isn't happy and wants more. The chief minister Ashok Chavan insists that "Raj Thackeray is not a constitutional authority. Karan Johar should have come to the state government if he thought that the issue was so serious." The issue was serious and Raj Thackeray has, in the practical sense of the word, more power than most constitutional authorities (whatever that term means). After all, Raj Thackeray can still stand after pronouncing that "no film producer had the right to change the name of the city from Mumbai to Bombay."

the turning of the phrase

I finally managed to get to The Reel Truth: Everything You Didn't Know You Need to Know About Making an Independent Film, which contains lots of information about the things you have to worry about when you are trying to make your movie. I jumped right to chapter 8, which is all about what you have to do just to use your favourite song or piece of music in your film. The nuggets of trivia, however, did not grab my attention in the chapter as much as a couple of phrases I don't remember seeing before and some unfortunate examples of lazy talk and English abuse.

A quote from Rosalind Lawton ended with "Of course, you can try to negotiate, but if it's after the fact, they have you completely over a barrel." Despite having understood what she was saying, I was curious about the phrase. It turns out to have its origins in America and means that they (she is referring to companies that hold rights to the music you want to use) have you at a disadvantage; you are helpless and in their power. Although the local flavour was welcome, I wish she had just chosen simple words instead.

Adam Fields, the producer of Johnny Be Good describes how Chuck Berry got paid $100,000 for the use of his song in the film. He starts with "We could never get in touch with him, and we were down to the wire on the movie." This is one of the numerous contributions from the world of sport and has evolved to describe a tense situation whose outcome is impossible to predict until the end.

Finally we get Jennifer Lane talking about the problems involved in getting rid of a song from the film prints. Her quote ends with a sentence that reeks of laziness: "It's a tremendous hassle financially, emotionally and timewise." Times like this make you wish "timeally" was a word (or would she have settled for "temporally"?)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

from 12 to 7: vishal gets the raashee rash

If articles floating online are to be believed, Vishal Bhardwaj is working on a script called 7 Husbands and seems to have to roped Priyanka Chopra in to play 7 brides for 7 men. Since the rushes of What's Your Raashee? are mentioned, one is inclined to dismiss this as another case of striking the hot iron. Satte pe Satta becomes Ek Sati Saat Pati?

[Cross-posted on the Vishal Bhardwaj blog]

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