Friday, December 31, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I was so pleased to hear someone use criterion, the doomed singular form of criteria and correctly at that.
When I got to a computer with an Internet connection, I went online to read the transcript of the entire conversation and was shocked to see that the transcribed version at NPR was erroneous:
Did you see that? Someone decided to (presumably) correct what Mr. Stewart had said and, in doing so, produced a version that is incorrect and does not do justice to Mr. Stewart's rather carefully correct usage. I have to admit that I didn't expect something like this from NPR.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Despite the familiarity of the fades and cuts, this is a trailer mercifully far removed from conventional Bollyfare. Although the song you hear doesn't hit the same high as the hit song in Kaminey's trailer, the accordion lends the proceedings an adequate old-fashioned exotic texture and charm. Rekha gets to let her voice run down yet another interesting channel and teams up with Usha Uthup after years (the last time we heard them together was on raajaa kii kahaanii in Godmother, again for Vishal). Other interesting elements include the combination of colours for the titles, the sumptuous colours, the number 7 appearing inside a coffin on one of the inter-titles, Annu Kapoor and a tip (surely?) to The Bride Wore Black (which isn't hard to either do or avoid, considering that it would fit well with the goings-on).
Who knew this time I am going to drink his blood? could sound like this?
Finally summoning the gumption to do so, I watched the trailer of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Guzaarish. All I could think of at the end of the collection of frames that bore the undeniable brand of Bhansali was "The Prestige meets the sets and texture of Black with the fonted dreams of Saawariya.
Bollywood has a strong tradition of connotation that has been sadly ill documented and has not received enough academic attention. The names of iconic villains is the best example, but relatively less unsubtle examples come from the names of the principal characters and the supporting cast. The memory banks got a nudge when, during a conversation over the telephone, a friend noted that "a film starring Salman Khan, Urmila Matondkar and Shammi Kapoor (playing daadaajii)" was running on some cable channel. It was not so hard to guess the name of the film: Jaanam Samjha Karo, the inauspicious directorial début of Majrooh Sultanpuri's son Andaleeb Sultanpuri. How could one forget the musical bombs (the title song, I was made for loving you and love hua) that Anu Malik had conjured for the film at the height of his dabbling in Hinglish howlers? I went online to refresh my memory of the film and noticed the names of the characters Salman and Urmila played. Our hero's name was Rahul (last name unimportant) and our heroine's name was Chandni. Rahul means moon and Chandni means moonlight. Remember all the lyrics based on the you are the X I am your Y format (X = poet and Y = poetry or X = shamaa and Y = parawaanaa)?
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
B: this is my number
A: which is?
B: (tells A what the phone number is)
Until this, what surprised me most was how people in Atlanta assumed that you had a car. This had led to utterances like it's less than 20 minutes from here, which actually meant that you had to take one or more interstate highways -- the sprawl's closest approximation of as the crow flies -- and then drive (or cruise) along to a certain exit and then take a few turns to get to the location in question. To be fair to the sprawl, this assumption is not an ill-founded one, but I tended to respect people who directed you without this assumption (something as simple as If you took I-75N, it would take you about 20 minutes to get there made a big difference).
But now it was caller ID. In this new century dominated by cellphones and internet telephony, a POTS line might seem anachronistic, but is hardly surprising. So assuming that you had caller ID (which is not free and not part of basic service, although most consumers seem inclined to sign up for it either in order to suppress all those annoying telemarketing calls or because it seems like "just a few bucks more"). I also suspect that some people habituated to cellphones even forget that they might be calling a POTS line; they assume that it's another cellphone and cellphones have "free" caller ID. In any case, it's another assumption that I don't think is ill-founded, but there's clearly a better way of handling a request for a phone number. X can call me back at ###-###-#### isn't so hard, is it?
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Why the title? Well, 8 (that's, roughly speaking, the number of years it will be since the release was originally planned) kilometres are roughly 5 (the film's title) miles.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
It's Rediff time again. Our target is a review of Devil, a film written and co-produced by M. Night Shyamalan (he has the same initials as a certain political party, but that has no bearing here). Let's start with the simple typographical problems.
These days it might serve a movie well to keep that idea as far off the promotional frontline as possible: Try far away from instead of creating your own phrases.
Hell it might make for a fantastic twist ending to a film someday: consider adding an exclamation mark after Hell and capitalising i in it. It would be a better idea to refrain from imitating conversational speech heared in some American film.
Neither run time nor runtime works as a substitute for the more familiar running time.
It's clichéd note and not cliche note.
We conclude with a look at a comparison implied in the review between Devil and Phone Booth.
The "short but long-seeming run[sic] time" of Phone Booth was, according to IMDB, 81 minutes.
The reviewer then writes about Devil: The film has a short and sweet runtime. The running time of Devil is, according to IMDB, 80 minutes.
1 minute was all it took.
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In the spirit of outrage, I leave you with a fresh example of oblique-speak I heard a few minutes ago:
the next few slides are going to focus in on high level details of ...: in was probably used incorrectly (after all, you cannot zoom in on a "zoom out" view of a map, unless you're explaining relative velocity to a classroom). Perhaps the speaker was a fan of the Paul Greengrass Unsteadicam technique where the camera gets you closer to the action but also sends items out of focus.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Another county library system has two sales in a year. Each sale ends with a Sunday special: a box of hardbacks for $10 and a box of paperbacks for $5. The hardbacks are all sold at one level and the paperbacks, videos, tapes, CDs and miscellaneous material are sold at a lower level. I must confess that I am addicted. It's nice to see the warehouse with long aisles of books and people walking along pulling boxes on carts or pushing them along the floor. I limit myself to a box -- going beyond that is usually impossible, because I have not, so far, found enough to justify a second big box. But there are others who seem to be on a mission.
People buy books for different reasons. There is the obvious reason of adding to one's personal collection. Some buy books to decorate fireplaces and similar spots in public places like restaurants, hotels and coffee shops. Such purchases tend to be dominated by large hardbacks. I have also seen someone use a portable device (a barcode scanner perhaps) to assist a seemingly endless waggle dance about the aisles building small stacks of books. I suspect that this person eventually sold these in retail or in bulk elsewhere. Some libraries have issued bans on such devices simply in response to the clutter caused as a consequence of the uncaring behaviour of such pricemongers. I really don't care about what people do with the books they buy, but I'd probably be upset if I lost a used book I would have cherished to a reseller's cold pile.
Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book gets a grave makeover as Mowgli becomes Nobody (um, literally) and Neil Gaiman works his magic in The Graveyard Book. I also thought of Pip and Great Expectations a few times as I turned page after page, resisting the need to put the book down and go to sleep. Finishing this book made me feel better about never having been able to start reading American Gods for reasons quite inexplicable.
Hill Street Blues was on the shows comprising my long education on satellite television. Later, NYPD Blue took over the waves. Lingering memories might have been one of the reasons I enjoyed my introduction to Gotham Central, Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka's police procedural comic book series set in Batman's hometown. Like Kurt Busiek's Astro City, the focus was on people living in a world dominated by a superhero of sorts, on people we otherwise saw as part of the texture of a narrative dominated by Batman and his crusade against crime and his inner demons. In Gotham Central, Batman, like Keyser Söze, looms large on the lives of people, but only appears occasionally while we follow the lives of a police force bursting with ambition, corruption, secrets and administrative frustration. I really wish the public library had all the volumes, but it looks like, as with Busiek's series, I will have to wait for a miracle.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
500 Miles is sung by American folk singer-trio Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers, popularly known as Peter, Paul and Mary. This song was part of their first album, recorded in 1962.
The music director for Jurm was Rajesh Roshan and not the pilfering sons of Chitragupt. is sung is grammatically incorrect and there should probably be a note that the PPM version of the song is a popular cover. Has the writer (or any of the staff) heard of Wikipedia?
Evidently, the "known fact" (to use a phrase from the opening of the article) that the Pandit brothers have split and only Lalit Pandit (aka one of the brothers) was credited or responsible for Dabangg's big hit. If the writer of the Rediff article is trying to make a case for Brother Lalit being the instigator of all the Pandit-ian plagiarism, the writer is advised to try again and in a separate article devoted to the subject.
The song, however, is copied from the title track of the film If It's
Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969). It was sung by folk singer Donovan.
The song was written by Donovan, but was sung by J. P. Rags.
There are also some common grammatical errors: writing comprising of instead of comprising (if you like of consider using the passive voice with is/was comprised of).
The band's name is Wham! and not the acronymous WHAM.
The writer is clearly getting lazy and bored, given that this "slide" of the article does not mention the original composer Nino Rota and indulges in sloppiness with "Speak Softly Love theme" instead of something a little more articulate like "The Godfather theme, whose vocal version is known as Speak Softly Love." It would be too much to expect the writer to have informed us that Nino Rota had reused a cue he had composed for a 1958 film called Fortunella (obligatory Youtube link).
This is either more evidence of sloppy laziness (lazy sloppiness, if you please) or an attempt at making a joke.
Friday, November 05, 2010
Thursday, November 04, 2010
The word, Mr. President, is resilience and I am quite disappointed that you have given credence to abuse. Of course, you have more important things to worry about and we can also ignore the two occurrences of that obnoxious lipidinous concoction day-to-day basis.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
One of my favourite stories in childhood was the Greek myth about the slaying of the Minotaur by Theseus and there was the girl who loved him and gave him the yarn so that he could trace his way back out of the labyrinth, out of the maze. And her name was ...!
Oh wait! She got an Oscar for playing the real-life singer whose song's playing throughout the film!
Those stairs. Oh! The pawn. Or was it a bishop? Chess! Bobby Fischer! Um, Robert Fischer ... Bobby Fischer.
He has the same name as that serial burglar who befriended the guy who followed strangers ... hmmm.
Excuse me while I pinch myself. I must be dreaming.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Tandoor on Powers Ferry Road in Marietta has been doing rather well over the last few years. First came the curtains on the inside. Then came the redesigned laminated menu cards instead of the scrawls on a couple of boards on the walls. The most recent additions are signs reserving a few spots in front of it outside and brand new tables and chairs inside. The food still serves your guilty pleasures -- the biryani, the haleem and the rolls with raita and onion juliennes, slices of lime and sprays of cilantro on the side.
Thanks to Pritam, Neeraj Shridhar has gone from being an interesting voice to a strong reason to skip the track.
If not for the silly suffix the revolution, Mehul Kumar might have been in the running for a record for making two Bollyflicks with the same name. So what if the new dung squadron is a sequel? The 90s flick Krantiveer got Nana Patekar a national award and established a new variation of the angry man -- he wasn't young, he wasn't clean shaven, but he was very very angry. The sequel is evidently an aural assault, but it also stomps new ground in the never-tiring field of English suffixes for Bollytitles. A Krantiveer is a revolutionary and not a revolution. Adding the suffix establishes a new pattern: hindi title describing a doer: english subtitle describing the action or what he/she hath wrought. Thus we should now expect Mrityudaata: The Carnage.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
People who expect their manager to make their jobs fun and interesting won't get far.
It's also nice to see some acknowledgement of people who might not seem as ambitious as every half-baked code monkey who wants to rise to be a manager, because he is terrible at dealing with people:
I hope he finds greatness where he is going.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
One of the most entertaining parts is the Prescreen and Opt Out Notice, which is compliant with 16 CFR part 642 and looks like this:
The actual notice it refers to looks like this:
The important thing to remember is that "pre-approval" is an etymological weapon of confusion: it does not mean "all you have to do is say yes and you will get this exciting new credit card"; it actually means "say yes and we'll then really check your credit and might even reject your application, because we didn't really check carefully the first time." The consequence of a rejected application -- thanks to the Rube Goldberg-ian algorithms in place for this "Get punished without doing anything" setup can be a dark spot on your credit. Opt out or just hurl this thing into the shredder.
Read the finer print at the end of this exciting letter to learn about MCCs (Merchant Category Codes), which offer these credit companies another weapon to deny you "rewards"; take a look at the big fat disclaimer at the end:
That travel agency is most likely Travel Leaders Group, LCC, which spun off from Carlson Travel Group in 2008.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Sunday, October 03, 2010
The only way you can find out what was "invalid" is to view the source of the page. Search for this error message and you will stumble upon the following line:
Of course they expected you to do this and to know regular expressions rather well so that you could figure out that they did not want you to put a semi-colon in that field. How simple!
addendum [October 06, 2010]: Add double quotes to that list. I think Reliance should just support a tweet appender instead of the form and limit all submissions to short inarticulate bursts of alphanumeric vomit.
addendum [October 19, 2010]: add question marks to that list. At this point, I wonder if anyone really cares. Try complaining about network connectivity and be prepared to try and figure out what the correct for the phone number is. All you get as a hint is a popup telling you that the format is incorrect. If you get it right the first time, congratulations.
Saturday, October 02, 2010
The next stage in the slow and painful decay of the transit system in Atlanta is upon us. MARTA is celebrating with changes in its service. It's another greatest hits release: Bus schedules are changing, bus routes are being eliminated, some RideStores and restrooms are being closed, reduced customer service. MARTA's Facebook wall is a good place to see raw reactions along with fairly balanced responses from the staff at MARTA that have been cast to the wolves by their corporate bosses. Cobb County has decided to match the fares of MARTA (a tribute, no doubt, to "price matching") and will raise fares to $2 a ride. Gone are the days that you could use start on a CCT bus and use a transfer to get onto a MARTA bus and save a few cents. CCT has also eschewed all the euphemisms that MARTA chose and aims straight for your throat with the headline on their list of changes: fare increase service reductions and customer service changes.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
At Thai restaurants, there's always the possibility that you'll ask for some more rice. You can often decide whether to keep a Thai restaurant on your list just based on how the serving staff treats your requests for extra rice (unlike Indian restaurants, rice in Thai and non-buffet Chinese restaurants is expected to be on the house). Siam Square tackles this problem in an interesting way: the bowl of rice is inverted atop your bowl. You can then mix the rice and the curry and never really ask for more rice. Smart and apt.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
खून कर दूंगी
he's (pause) unbelievable! he's (pause) like a superhero (with the Americanised "l" and rolled "r") (a tribute to William Shatner, no doubt).
अब मैं उनसे कभी नहीं मिलूंगी ... कहना(?)
hello! don't get any ideas
PS: Is that Anil Kapoor's voice for Rajinikanth? Sounds like Mr. Kapoor and it also makes sense given that he had starred in Shankar's first Hindi film, Nayak.
Monday, September 13, 2010
The Lost Symbol: Dan Brown lives up to his reputation of writing something that makes you turn the pages as fast as you can, as you attempt to restore the narrative thread disrupted by one belch of expository preening after another. There is enough abuse of details in the descriptions of different things to make you shudder at the thought of turning over a page, afraid of what form of literary torture awaits you. I must confess, however, that it is a relief to be able to run through a whole book without once feeling intellectually tugged: Dan Brown makes sure that you, dear reader, do not have to pause, for one teensy bit, to evaluate the goings-on.
Death of a Politician: My first Richard Condon novel was a hefty challenge. I was unable to find much more about the book or its background and I was not as familiar with the politics of the 60s and 70s to spot the real-life figures that Condon was eloquently taking potshots at. This did not make the novel any less engrossing. The device of interrogations and reports takes some getting used to (The Anderson Tapes by Lawrence Sanders uses tape transcripts was easier on my eyes and brain). I hope the other books I picked up at the library book sale don't disappoint me. I'll save The Manchurian Candidate till the end; after all, I've already seen the film.
Friday, September 10, 2010
After ranting away about the amateur dross that comprised Robin Cook's writing in the 21st century, I decided to try and read the books that had made him famous all those years ago just to see how much nostalgia had clouded my memory. My first pick was Brain, which was also one of the first (or perhaps the first) of Robin Cook's books that I had read. Interestingly, the book still held up well. The exposition was controlled and Cook's writing seemed to be more demanding of the reader's attention than his recent work that requires as much attention as a Top 10 countdown on Zee TV. I also learnt about RNs, LPNs and ASNs; since Cook does not commit expository abuse by explaining what they stood for, I went online. After ASN.1, Autonomous System Numbers and Advance Shipping Notices, I now had Associate of Science in Nursing; After Licence Plate Numbers I got Licensed Practical Nurses. RNs are Registered Nurses, in case you were wondering. Time to go back to Coma.
Monday, September 06, 2010
Hey you, sitting at that table behind me in this coffee shop! It's a cellphone not a walkie talkie, you nitwit! Take it outside if you want to scream out loud. It's not a conversation unless I hear the other side as well (perhaps you can try the speakerphone on your cellphone and become a certifiable jerk).
Hey you, over there in the neighbouring cubicle arguing furiously on a silly something as if it were the latest problem to befuddle nuclear scientists all over the world! Have you heard of conference rooms? The office surely has one available just to serve your needs. The whiteboards are larger and you can just get on the nerves of a few others like yourself, who presumably understand your babble.
You are all welcome to upload your essence into the Doom continuum as zombiemen. I'd be glad to blow your electronic avatars to pixellated goop.
Sunday, September 05, 2010
I'll be picking up a copy of the sequel Freedom from the local library soon and I hope it's just as much fun.
One of the developments in the wake of the massacre of entertainment was the replacement of English flicks in the catalogue with versions dubbed into Hindi. Some of those chosen included the Jackie Chan films for Golden Harvest, which, originally in Cantonese, were released abroad (including India) dubbed into English. We now had a layered incongruity with Hindi sounds replacing English sounds while Jackie Chan's lips continued to mouth Cantonese.
An interesting variation was the case of South Indian flicks dubbed into Hindi. These poorly dubbed mind-numbing "entertainers" were christened using titles of existing Bollyhits along with a bonus suffix in English to comply with the de facto naming rule that was born near the end of the 20th century. This is why the Telugu movie Mass became Meri Jung: One Man Army. This also explains the curious case of a film named Arasatchi. Had it not been for financial hurdles, this would have been the first film starring Lara Dutta to hit the marquee (the unfortunate honour went to a case of bad eggs from the Bollyfold).
As was the norm, Ms. Dutta's Tamil voice was not her own. Years later, this film was one of the lucky several chosen to be treated to an inferior dubbing job. Inviting Ms. Dutta to try her hand at dubbing for herself in Hindi would have, unfortunately, cost the whole project a lot more. So they just had one of the people on the session call sheet to do the needful. One could only mourn the loss in translation. Again.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
We choose, for the purposes of this post, to start from the beginning: the CD case. Vidcaps offer irrefutable evidence that Shankar has set new records in wasteful expenditure on lavish eyecandy. Despite the presence of A. R. Rahman at the helm of the proceedings, one of the sleeves bears the proud claim "Music made by humans." The gem that this post wishes to cast a floodlight upon the inlay card dedicated to providing some more information about the andro-humanoid (their term, not mine) Chiti (or Chitti, if you want to use the track Chitti Dance Sequence as a guide) and his creator Dr. Vasi (Tamil for Frankenstein Victor).
The section devoted to Chiti's anatomy/configuration (their label, not mine) is the produce of a local buzzword blender: speed one terra hz, memory one zeta byte, processor Pentium ultra core millenia V2, FHP 450 motor from Hirata, Japan. Hirata is presumably the place that produced the most fans of Muthu. A Terra[sic] (their spelling, not mine) Hertz is presumably a more down-to-earth measure of frequency than the Megas or Gigas. Zeta is presumably a typographical error (there are two Ts and it's one word -- zettabyte) or it's a tribute to Mrs. Michael Douglas. Thanks to the sloopy use of case, it's hard to determine which part of "ultra core millenia V2" is the code name for this strange stepchild of the Pentium. FHP might stand for Fractional Horsepower (after all, they can't make everything up). All in all, it's hard to believe that this is all that's needed to create a cybernetic clone of Super Star Rajinikanth (why clone? Well, the description says that Chiti can dance, sing and fight while being resistant to water and fire and boasting an appetite for electricity).
Chiti cannot lie they say. Expect to never see a scene where this creation is supine.
And to think it took only 10 years to make one.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
(from his review of Lafangey Parindey): Who would've ever thought Sarkar would do a 360 degree turn in his third film by calling it LAFANGEY PARINDEY, set it in a chawl and make his characters speak tapori lingo? (Adarsh presumably went to a school that taught radically different principles of geometry; that is the only way one can explain how a 360 degree turn can take you to a different place -- unless you are a certain bear of a certain colour who showed up for a Microsoft interview and was asked to tell the interviewer what his colour was).
(from his review of Aashayein): AASHAYEIN gets so bizarre and abstract that you feel anesthetized after a point (can someone who has been on the operating table explain this?)
(from his review of Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai): ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI is not part of history, but it attempts to portray on celluloid tales that are now considered legendary, that continue to make news to this date. Of course, the disclaimer claims that it bears no resemblance to a particular person, but you can't help but draw parallels with real-life characters. It could be a coincidence, though! (could someone please help him make up his mind?)
Our interest lies in Amrita, a short film he had made in 1995. It turns out that the music director was none other than Vishal Bhardwaj. Hansal Mehta offers nothing more except But that is another story, another fond relationship and maybe another emotional blog. One awaits that post eagerly.
[Cross-posted in a different fashion on the Vishal Bhardwaj blog]
Sunday, August 22, 2010
In order to appreciate the radical experiments with the case of letters and the font styles (how bolD!), you will need multiple passes over this page. I would recommend reading the text aloud and screaming when you encounter words that were typed with the caps lock key smashed into the keyboard.
Numerous are the textual pleasures to be found on this page. Let us start with the opening paragraph:
Lines like The application is in a secured platform using HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer) used to indicate a secure HTTP connection are enough to tell you how much fun you could have interviewing this person for a technical position.
While completing the online application, please do not enter any special characters such as (,), (.) (/) or symbols such as (@), ($), etc is an example of the abuse of etc. by lazy writers. It has adorned -- nay, sullied -- numerous half-witted technical documents and several PowerPoint slides bleeding with text and bullets.
Even while you enter your 'Phone No.,' 'email address,' and 'mobile'[sic] number' details in the respective boxes, these are not captured in the print out. It is, therefore, necessary, more so for applicants availing of services by mail, that these details are handwritten on the first page to enable the Consulate contact them if need arises is, I am told by a recent applicant, a complete lie.
ON CONFIRMING THE APPOINTMENT, FOUR (4) PAGES WILL PRINT OUT. makes sure that you have both the numeral and its name and are not confused about this trivial matter.
Several sentences are best printed out on the little strips of paper one finds in fortune cookies: If you do it more than once, it affects the others..
The English combines the American and British flavours. How else does one explain color and dialogue box? Moreover, the American dialog box has become the de facto standard for the familiar widget, regardless of the flavour of English you are working with).
The intent behind the bubbles added to the screenshots is fair, but the result is a ghastly eyesore laced with more giggle-inducing flourishes. The label for the fields Visible Marks/Colour of Eyes/Height(cms)/Colour of Hair is you are the best judge of these details. It is nice that you are called upon to judge when only precise information is required.
The only benefit of this form is that it fixes the bug in the previous process because of which your address in the US of A was chosen as the permanent address on your new passport. I am sure a permanent address in the USA made perfect sense for an Indian passport to someone in the consulate.
I leave you with the last image on the page. The piece de resistance. As they say, a picture is worth all the words you can think of to describe it.
PS: Guess what? You can even view the contents of the parent folder. Evidently, this site was set up before .htaccess was born.
the sequel: The other pages offering "guidance" are just as loaded. Consider the page dedicated to Supporting Document[sic]. It features both color and colour. There is also the multi-faceted gem If applying by mail, Photocopy of all supporting documents including Photo should be notarized and attached to the application. If original supporting documents are enclosed, there is no need of notarization. When the original passport is enclosed, there is no need to notarize photocopy. When was the last time you had to take a photocopy of a photograph? A note at the end features poetic abuse of ensure and also notches points for abusing etc. yet again: All mail applications submitted to the Consulate for consular services with a non-trackable return mailing envelope will be returned to the applicant without services. Please ensure to send a trackable return mailing envelope (e.g. Fedex, UPS, USPS, etc..) to ensure traceability of documents after dispatch..
Nearby on a page providing instructions for applications sent by mail ends with text that is best read with innovative pauses and emphatic vocals: The Consulate learns that some agents are claiming to have been appointed by the Consulate General of India and are misleading the public by claiming so. The Consulate informs all the applicants that no repeat no agents have been appointed by the Consulate and that the Consulate deals with members of the public directly.
Friday, August 20, 2010
The novel finds Cook showing off his knowledge of medicine and medical procedures while following the rather familiar path of a thriller. To its credit it manages to toss in several different significant characters, who contribute to the crescendo to a climax of coincidences. The final chapter, unfortunately, takes us from the trappings of a cops-and-robbers series for television to a painful exercise in exposition through conversation (not unlike the scrawl at the end of those biopics telling us what happened to most of the principal characters). The epilogue makes things worse with a segue into a budding romance not unlike what one might expect from daytime soaps.
Despite serving well as a bestselling piece of pulp whose pages you could flip through without having to exercise your brain too much, the novel suffers from a poor editorial job. Anyone who lets a writer -- even a mainstream, bestselling one -- get away with using a word like guesstimation is a lazy slob who needs to find another job. Mercifully, the abuse of literally is limited (as if to make up for this, one finds the abuse blooming in Intervention).
One cannot deny the need for Cook to wax eloquent when it comes to the medical aspects of the story, since that is what defines his brand of fiction. One must, however, take issue to just how intelligent the writer assumes the reader to be. Consider the following extract:
Let us choose to ignore the great disservice this long curvy sentence does to the full-stop. Let us also ignore how clumsily the writer has mixed exposition into an otherwise simple sentence. What is most annoying is how Cook pauses to explain what a femur is, he chooses to offer no such guidance for menisci. I know what a femur is, thank you very much. If you wanted to explain every medical term in that sentence, you should have explained menisci as well. I must also note that the generosity on display with this sentence is short-lived. After having realised, presumably, that several pages had been wasted in exposition instead of moving the plot forward, Cook and his editor(s) decided to let the medical jargon remain jargon, thus alienating the reader and allowing him/her to flip the pages even faster.
The reader is not the only one at the receiving end of condescension. Consider the following extract from a conversation between two doctors. Surely one would expect less exposition between two people when talking about matters germane to their occupation:
Did I mention apostrophe abuse? How about inconsistent apostrophe abuse? Consider the following:
Physician assistants are, for reasons unknown, more special than medical exainers; based on other plural forms seen in the book, they seem to be more important than HMOs. Unfortunately, in the paperback edition, this superiority is asserted only page 396; until that point, the apostrophe was mercifully spared when PAs were mentioned.
Sloppy. Very sloppy.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Whatever that means, a lot of my old bookmarks lead into nothingness. I hope it's not time to switch to tea.
I couldn't believe I was laughing to tears sitting in a cinema hall while watching a Hindi film. But there I was. My laughter went on when I realised that nobody else in the hall was laughing with me. There was Sumant Mastkar playing an old man whose last name was the same as the producer and co-screenwriter of the film, sitting in a wheelchair and offering some wisdom to the film's protagonist. But the words he spoke were written neither by Anurag Kashyap (the aforementioned producer) nor by Vikramaditya Motwane (the primary screenwriter making an outstanding directorial début), but by Jim Morrison.
But Udaan wasn't about inspired comic strokes. It wasn't a funny look at growing up. It was a well-written, well-acted, well-made story of a teenager grappling with the challenge of growing up in circumstances that were not as favourable as he would have liked them to be.
The film opens with four students in Simla sneaking out of the hostel to watch a skin flick. Cult director-producer Kanti Shah would hardly have imagined that his B-grade reeler Angoor would become as famous as it no doubt will thanks to this film. We are never introduced to our protagonist, until the moment in the principal's office the following day when the boys are expelled. We then follow Rohan Singh as he makes his way back to Jamshedpur to spend time with a tyrannical father given to bouts of violent anger and a step brother he never knew he had. Motwane takes elements ripe for high drama and lets them play out with sobriety and intelligence. Instead of making something for the stuffy art houses, he makes good use of Amit Trivedi's songs and background score (not including that wonderful cue for the first morning jog on the soundtrack CD is a criminal offence) while balancing them with sequences where silence reigns. In these sequences, Jameshedpur's industrial veneer that seemed to mirror his cold and stern father looked different and more idyllic as Rohan skipped college and penned poems and stories. I was reminded of Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura, but any comparison would be unjust to either film -- Motwane is not striving for minimalist success; he's trying to tell a personal story while employing a variety of narrative devices -- if you thought he was trying to be anti-mainstream, all you have to do to crush that idea is consider the references of pop culture strewn across the film and how the lyrics of the songs that remain in the background complement the goings-on on screen.
One of the film's subtle rewards is in how it uses the city of Jamshedpur (what was the last film set in and shot in Jamshedpur?). The city is notable for its industrial heritage as well as its planning. Motwane resists the mainstream temptation of turning this film into an advertisement for tourists and instead offers an introduction to the organic elements of the city. When Rohan's father gives him a running tour, he is also introducing us to the various elements of the city. We see the city at night through Rohan's eyes. We see the factory as Rohan sees it and also, to a minor extent, as his father does. It is an admirable choice (reportedly a suggestion from Imtiaz Ali) that gives you the idea of a small town, without actually being a place too far removed from the modern world.
As if a strong turn by debutante Rajat Barmecha as Rohan Singh was not enough, we get a marvellous performance from the younger Aayan Boradia. Ram Kapoor (often sounding like Anurag Kashyap) makes a great foil for Rajat's burgeoning ambitions but it is Ronit Roy as the father who gives the film its spine. Motwane and Kashyap present him not as a dark villain, but as a complex product of the aspirations of his father, the burden of his responsibilities as the eldest son and his inability to change what he has become. He epitomises what Rohan and Arjun might become (or worse) if they continue to remain stifled by his unrelenting dictatorial care. I found myself sympathising with his plight, even though I sensed that both boys could do with some time outside his cage. Udaan is the unhurried patient exploration of their journey understanding each other and their father with a conclusion that is satisfying both in its essence and in its ode to the famous ending of Francois Truffaut's classic film that, interestingly enough, was also about a kid growing up.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Based on the calendar, the only thing I could manage was a screening of Dasavatharam at 1900. I really wish they had put Rock On in a weekend slot, but some accountant was surely in charge of this.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived at BIG Cinemas Peachtree 8 (earlier Galaxy Funplex 8) was that they had a spelling mistaken on the marquee: it was Tere Ben Laden when it should have been Tere Bin Laden. The second thing I noticed was that there was no sign of any Spirit or any Tirangaa. It was just another evening in another upcoming desii ghetto (what with the Palace in the next block).
Saying the magic words at the concession stand and producing the right credit card got me the tickets and a survey form that the person at the stand requested be filled out before the movie. The survey included: which movie(s) did you watch as part of this free movie celebration? which was the last movie you saw at this theatre? The survey also asked you to tick the things that you thought the festival achieved for you (something about meeting other Indians and experiencing a sense of solidarity: left unticked; free movies: ticked).
The celebrations began after I started walking to the designated theatre. Number 5 was officially screening "Once upon a time in Mumbai"; unofficially, it was going to be the screening room for "Dasavatharam" (I am sure this and some other halls had been hijacked from the regular screening schedule to accommodate the Festival of Freedom). There was but a handful of people in the theatre. Not surprising, really. No, I don't think it was because why would you want to watch Dasavatharam even for free?. It's just that I don't think the Indian population in Atlanta and its 'burbs can hold a candle to other Indian-laden cities in the USA in such matters. But I digress. The air conditioning in this room was dead. The room was already warm and would surely get uncomfortable later. Some people were already joking that the air conditioning might cost extra since it was a free screening.
The first signs of the film were purely aural. All we heard was a background cue for the opening credits. Then silence. Someone in the projection room was trying hard to fix whatever had gone wrong. Some black and white footage -- despite being squished away in the right corner of the screen -- represented a sign of progress along with a background cue. Then silence. Finally, sound and picture united and we started getting title cards.
But something was wrong. The actor was right (Kamal Haasan) but the film was wrong. Indian!!?? That's the 10:30pm show people. Thankfully, a couple of people went out to notify the hapless people managing the place. Then, someone came back to tell us all that we had to move to theatre number 6 right across. This was when I was glad it was not a full house. We had a mini stampede from number 5 to number 6.
Number 6 was mercifully embellished with functional air conditioning. The loud end credits of Tere Bin Laden continued to roll by and the people in that show were surely surprised that so many Indians had arrived so early for the next screening. Then there was silence and a blank screen. More help arrived but it was helpless as well. It was unclear whether number 5 would be the screening hall with the correct film or number 6 would be the new location. The screen in number 5 flickered to life with sounds of a voice telling you about the Ayngaran strain of DVDs and then vanished to be replaced by a full spread of a screen from a Samsung Blu-Ray player. Number 6 remained blank. Eventually, Dasavatharam unrolled in number 6.
Since this was a free screening, the management of this BIG Cinemas franchise probably did not consider issuing an apology to the audience with free passes for a visit in future. Or was it because this theatre, like the old Galaxy Cinema on Jimmy Carter Boulevard, subscribed to the desii ethic: no matter how shoddy your theatre and management are, the Indians crazy for their Bollyfix (or Kollyfix or Tollyfix) will flock to hurl their dollars at you. Even if your projector goes tipsy. Even if the seats have seen better days. They will also keep their cellphones with their annoying ringtones on and at the highest possible volume during the screening and also quite often conduct telephonic conversations during the film. Happy Independence Day people. You can talk the desii out of desiland but you can't take the desii-ness out of him/her. It's too BIG to handle.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Sunday, August 08, 2010
The film opens with Mohnish Behl struggling to look competent as an old man (with an ill-fitting wig and obvious gratuitous makeup) as a song in a 7-beat cycle assaults the speakers. Things move from Hubli to Pune two years later and things unfold through a combination of domestic detective work, flashbacks laced with songs owing a debt to puriyaa dhanashrii and to.Dii. You can barely stomach a chuckle when a person named Malhar (Mohnish Behl) breaks into a rain song. Tabu and Sachin Khedekar wrestle with the dross about them and the piffle dialogue sheets handled to them, but cannot save this enterprise. Smita Jaykar and Ravindra Mankani (who, with the goatee, does a better job as a Willem Dafoe lookalike). Namrata Shirodkar in a "very special appearance" (मैं computer science की graduate हूँ; फिलहाल एक computer firm में काम करती हूँ) cannot do much in the sea of dulled senses. Instead of writing to exploit the audio-visual medium and to create some sense of dramatic tension, Manjrekar chooses to write "shocking" dialogue (when was the last time you heard someone talk about the crimson curse?) and background music that refuses to yield a moment of intelligent silence.
The result of all this and a misplaced vertigo zoom is an exercise that is as subtle as a blunt hammer underscored by the misery in the department of subtitles (adultery and debauchery become synonyms; there's something called "French leave"; and Tabu's character becomes a "wanton whore"). The cherry on this cake of compost is the unskippable content on the DVD: be prepared to sit through an unskippable ad for indiaplaza.com followed by unskippable ads for Zee Movies and Zee Gold. Every commercial dodo wants to assert its own identity before you get the real deal. [september 16, 2009]
Friday, August 06, 2010
Thursday, August 05, 2010
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Finding a free copy of Crime and Punishment at the public library does not serve as an example of any form of irony.
Aamir Khan's performance as Rehan before the interval in Fanaa (yes, that movie) can be best understood as a dark parody of his character Dil Nawaaz in 1947: Earth
नाम मेरा Mango Dolly from Quick Gun Murugun is a delightful take on the club crooner's ditty that mixes Hindi and Tamil, but it's crowning moment is when Geeta John says eDitiTTa po, which, in Malayalam, means take it away. The smile of understanding makes you feel good about knowing more than one language.
What would happen if Aruna Irani married Brooke Shields? She would become Aruna Shields
3 Idiots is not a film about Kaalia and his ill-fated colleagues who met their untimely end at the hands of the Project Leader from Hell, Gabbar Hari Singh.
Incidentally, has anyone ever written a book about the fabulous advertising campaign by Sylvester da Cunha at ASP for Amul?
Has anyone written a term paper about Chetan Bhagat being the Dan Brown of Indian-English writing in India? Or, if you wanted to be jingoistically dense, about Dan Brown being the Chetan Bhagat of bestseller dross? Both write competently and churn out vacuous tombs of papyrii laced with hieroglyphics that would even make a desii IT code churner feel like Bertrand Russell. If someone now decides to write it, please don't forget that you read it here first. Coming Soon: a Robert Ludlum novel written by the Bhagat-Brown combine titled The Brown Ultimatum.
Friday, July 30, 2010
On a more optimistic note, Dennis Hopper's The Last Movie (still unavailable on DVD) is also on the list at Venice.