Saturday, February 27, 2010

ellison calling bollywood

Serves me right for not finishing the collection Dreams with Sharp Teeth I had bought several months ago. The final story in that compilation was something called Shatterday (go read it to figure out where that name came from). It's all about this guy called Peter Jay Novins who accidentally dials his home phone number and ends up talking to himself at the other end. It's been adapted for television too. That nugget of a premise should suffice to encourage you, dear reader, to utter three words: Karthik calling Karthik. You can be sure of one thing -- Karthik's a South Indian (the h is the giveaway, cotton-brain!). IMDB tells me his last name is Narayan, which still leaves some room for doubt, but I'll put my bets on दक्षिण. Perhaps someone should let Mr. Cordwainer Bird know.

Monday, February 22, 2010

another groaner

If Vijay Mallya's daughter got married to a Chinese guy and decided to emulate Miss World 1994, what would she become? A Mallya-Lee.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

the soup is hot, the soup is cold

I am not a fan of epics. I just can't enjoy all that fancy fighting and valour in skirts, armour and something other than a bulletproof vest. Since history is often distorted, I can't even expect to get information wrapped in entertainment. This means that the only reason I set my butt down to watch Joseph L. Mankiewicz's epic peplum Cleopatra would have to be masochism. This was the restored 4-hour cut (the opening and closing overtures might contribute a few more minutes) and what scares me is that this came from an original 6-hour cut that Mankiewicz had hoped -- wisely, I must say -- to see as two 3-hour pieces, Caesar and Cleopatra and Antony and Cleopatra. The names make more sense than the title of this elephant. It's a problem much like that with Inder Kumar's Raja (where we were all relieved that the film was not as much about Sanjay Kapoor at all).

The lines caught my attention more than anything else: there's innuendo, sarcasm (perhaps unintended), chauvinism (were she not a woman one would consider her to be an intellectual) and even my breasts are full of love and life; my hips are rounded and well apart; such women, they say, have sons. There is promise of a different kind of humour in lines like officially divine, at last, but it would seem that one would have to turn to the Carry On team or Monty Python to milk that cow. Cleopatra's when i am ready to die, i will die presages the Oracle in The Matrix series (or perhaps, the Oracle was Cleopatra in some alternative world).

At some point, I started seeing political allegory in the film. I started thinking of the Romans as the US of A meddling in the affairs of other countries. I couldn't think of an entity in the present day to match Egypt as it struggles to protect its art from the Romans and tries to convert its advantage in supplies to one of power. Some of the dialogue would fit rather well in a modern-day adaptation: there is no such thing as an unnecessary war, the way to prevent war is to prepare for it. If someone takes this idea to fruition, I just hope it's with a film that's not as butt-unfriendly as this one.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

what the hell happened to rosemary?

I am still trying to figure out what significance Béla Bartók's Mikrokosmos had in Lamberto Bava's most famous film, Demons. The fake splatter gore and the host of heavy metal songs on the soundtrack are the attractions; the straightforward narrative sans political commentary of any kind is not. I wish they had chosen to retain the Italian instead of dubbing everything into English. The resultant psychobabel of a film is a murder by numbers effort; the victims are people invited to a special preview at a theatre called Metropol, whose walls are covered with posters of films like No Nukes, Four Flies on Grey Velvet (co-written and directed by Dario Argento who also co-wrote and produced this film), AC/DC: Let There Be Rock. I wonder if the Coca Cola vending machines and that can in the car represent product placement. The opening titles are underscored by a riff that sounds familiar; the theme sounds like Rockit served with a dash of Vangelis. But it's the heavy metal songs that dominate the proceedings once the screaming and killing begin. The finale is introduced by one of the greatest surprises I have seen in a long long time, but the twist over the end credits unfortunately reinforces a cliché. This is Romero stripped of allegory; if you don't mind the aphasic dialogue and like your gore served up funny, you will enjoy this.

get ready for the pulp

In the wake of the release of Daylight Robbery, there are signs of an increasing interest in this "revival" of Indian pulp fiction. Siddhartha points me an article over at Tehelka about Surendra Mohan Pathak (you've heard of Sudarshan, of course).Sudarshan raises the stakes with another article at Tehelka written by the Pastor of Pulp himself -- it's a review of a recent translation of two Ibn-e-Safi works along with notes about the author, who got an endorsement from the Dame of crime writing herself. He also tells me about an article in the Hindustan Times that includes a conversation with the man. Splatter me!

[march 28, 2010]: It takes me about a fortnight to shout out "He's famous!" after Sudarshan gets his mugshot and an interview in The Hindu. Awesome!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


If they decide to make a sequel to Mili, they should call it Mil(l)isecond.

Monday, February 15, 2010

my name is thackeray and i am a hypocrite

Following SRK's remark of regret that no Pakistani cricket player had been bought by the IPL clubs, the Shiv Sena, a party famous for its extremist bigotry, unleashed its fury and threats at the star. The Sena then decided to make his forthcoming film My Name is Khan (released on Friday last week) the target of a boycott of violence (something they've been rather successful at). CM Chavan went through the motions of warning the Sena, assuring all protection to Khan and his can of film and then expressing his hope that good sense would prevail. Then the Sena decided not to kill the commercial goose and then went stateless like everyone's favourite kind of EJB and went back to threaten ape poop on the film's future. The state did what it could: 1000 sainiks were detained. Several cinema theatres and multiplexes, knowing fully well that no form of law and order either on paper or in practice would help them against the might of the Shiv Sena, decided not to screen the film. People, however, wanted their star. There are some things that defy the laws of physics; the Sena didn't stand a chance. The Sena refused to consider this a failure. They continued to chastise the administration and pat themselves on their backs.

Meanwhile, disaster struck in Pune. A bomb went off at German Bakery. The tragedy was followed by the usual mix of vacuous news reports and angry tweets (mixed with several tweets loaded with information) that cursed the politicians, the police and the government. The crowning flourish came now from Uddhav Thackeray. He decided to blame the CM and his "immature politics" and alleged that the blast had happened because the CM had sent all the security over to protect the Khan and the film. Sigh. Will all the people who support the Shiv Sena and dare to possess a smidgen of sound common sense please tell me exactly why they continue to support this confederacy of dunces?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

i want more sand in the desert

That's what Vittorio De Sica screams at one point in After the Fox. One wonders if Nagesh Kukunoor was running this film in his head when he wrote Om Puri clamouring for more balls in Bollywood Calling. The line in the Italian/English film is loaded with more bite, however. You see, De Sica is playing a director named Vittorio De Sica directing what is evidently a peplum in the desert. De Sica also directed this farce that makes digs at directors like John Huston (the reference to him playing Moses being the most obvious one), Fellini (the brooding artist and his angst; the film's climax featuring an exhortation in the defence of art), Antonioni and De Sica himself. Victor Mature plays Tony Powell, an alter ego of himself -- at one point in the film we see an old film starring Tony Powell playing in a theatre: the film is really Easy Living, which starred Victor Mature himself. Tony Powell isn't even his real name -- it's Tony Ampulski (a dig, perhaps, at Italian actors who became famous with English names in the dubbed versions of their films -- Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, anyone?). The film, written by Neil Simon, mixes over-the-top characterisations with very funny lines (you're even more beautiful in real life than you are in person, great jokes (the Fox reading a book by Stanislavski, truck drivers reading Playboy, politically incorrect use of the veil) and also a film within a film. If you love movies and you know your movie trivia, you'll enjoy Peter Sellers hamming it away as Aldo Vanucci; you'll nod your head when Aldo Vanucci talks to Miss Okra through a girl in a bikini, because you saw the first sequel in the Austin Powers canon and that had a similar scene in it. [June 28, 2009]

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Deepika Padukone (pronounced पाडुकोण) saying anything. That grating accent must go. Remake Reshma aur Shera with the Big B's character changed to a woman and give her that role. There will surely be an award or two. That should suffice to encourage the silence. Alternatively, one implores RGV to rope her in for a native part in one of his forthcoming films. He loves having घाटs in his flicks and they lend credible colour and texture to the goings-on set mostly in Bombay, Pune and their 'burbs.

Lucky Ali should sing a song for Farhan Akhtar. Why hasn't someone considered this yet? Perhaps because Farhan Akhtar chose to warble his own way in Rock On!!

Someone should make a movie starring The Nasal Warrior in which his character sports a feminine alter ego with the voice of Lata Mangeshkar. The title? How about काँच को क्या आँच?

Friday, February 05, 2010

to become the first superpower to developer super powers

It's a hotel room in Kuwait. George Clooney sits on the bed and explains a Jedi warrior to Ewan McGregor. This is probably the movie joke that's easiest to understand in The Men Who Stare At Goats. If you know why "Ask Angela Lansbury" is funny, pat yourself on the back. If you don't, it's hard to tell you why without ruining the experience of a classic film (and I don't mean this one) for you. Jeff Bridges taps into Jeffrey Lebowski as he plays Bill Django, who, after an epiphany during the Vietnam War, goes hippy and returns to found the New Earth Army -- an army of modern-day Obi Wans. George Clooney plays Lyn Cassady with his mix of star power and whimsy. His straight face gets all the laughs you can ask for while the content of McGregor's voiceover keeps you smiling. Kevin Spacey, as the villain of the piece, seems to be trying to explore nooks and crannies in the ham sandwich showroom. This drama of men is not a dark brooding allegorical meditation like Apocalypse Now or Platoon or even the starkly straight-faced Full Metal Jacket. There isn't anything terribly profound in the goings-on even though the dark comedy skewers popular culture and American silliness while reinforcing everything we might have thought was wrong with the army. With several quotable lines, the only problem is that this quirky and bizarre flick works without any bite. It seems to miss the optimum trajectory.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

SMP returns

Sudarshan is back. After The 65 Lakh Heist, he and Blaft are back with Daylight Robbery. Blaft now lets you buy the awesome items in their catalogue from them without having to waste time in the aisles of bookstores searching in vain or talking to clueless store attendants. The word heist was, from personal experience, not a very helpful word, when one evaluated the reactions of the aforementioned attendants (no habla heist). If you're in desiiland and you want to let Sudarshan know that you think this is cool too, head over to Blaft's website and order a copy.
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