Friday, April 30, 2010

a denial of self and other croutons

Amogh points me to a TOI blog post dedicated to an incident featuring a passport office in India refusing the accept a passport it issued as valid proof of identification.

In the year 2011, Bollywood will likely see a new face making her début. The name's Manasvi Mamgai and she's just been crowned Pantaloons Femina Miss India World 2010 (which means she gets to represent India in October's Miss World contest). That last name, despite being interesting, will probably not make it to the marquee.

If you believeust the headlines of articles you would think Udita Goswami was truly confused. On one hand, she insists I am not here to please anyone and on the other she says I won't disappoint my fans (the stock photograph accompanying the article seems to reinforce this claim). When she finally tells you what kind of films she really wants to do, you know there's trouble:

I wouldn't want to play a glamourous, sexy role now. It's just by chance that I got these kind of roles after my first movie. But now, I am looking forward to doing a happy role, where I can just be myself and enjoy myself. I want to play a girl my own age, who loves to have fun. I am looking forward to doing a movie where I get to see happy people on the sets. I really want to do a romantic comedy

Thursday, April 29, 2010

kibble and quibble

The words that David Foster Wallace circled in his copy of the American Heritage Dictionary and the interest in them remind me of the interest in Vladimir Nabokov's use of exotic, esoteric and often precise (frass, for example, which I filched in an old post).

The abuse of the word blog to refer to a post gets some attention in a Visual Thesaurus post. I've been furious about this abuse by the misinformed masses for a while and also disappointed at its growing frequency (as with a lot of abuse that succeeds in establishing itself as accepted usage). The protest seems a little too late, however, and perhaps even a futile exercise. But, as with pedantry, it shouldn't dissuade those in the right from standing by their guns.

strong lines

The time has come to recognise another strong body of contribution to the well that is Bollywood dialogue. The label says Taaqatwar, David Dhawan's ode to Manmohan Desai, Bollywood clichés, stock music and kitchen sink cinema. A gentleman named Anwar Khan is responsible for seasoning this goulash with zingy lines that have made kino clunkers worth everyone's while over chicken and booze on Friday nights. The film itself deserves a separate post acknowledging the numerous references to Bollypop and convention. This entry, however, focuses only on the contributions officially credited to Anwar Khan.

माल चाहे दो हज़ार का हो, दो लाख का हो या दो करोड़ का हो, footpath पे आकार दो कौड़ी का हो जाता है

ये दो टके का officer officer नहीं हमारे लिये cancer है cancer

हम वो शैतान हैं जो बिना दाम के जान ख़रीद लेते हैं तो दुकान क्या चीज़ है?

दुनिया चाँद तक पहुँची है और मुझे (beat) इंतेक़ाम के आसमाँ तक पहुँचना है पिताजी

तेरी जबान है क्या whole-sale की दुकान है?

क़सम Jesus की मुंजाल ख़ुराना को जब तक खल्लास नहीं कर डालेगा, अपुन Jesus की शकल भी नहीं देखेगा

ये ज़माना रावण का है; नज़र उठा के देख; चारों तरफ़ रावण ही रावण हैं; छोटी कुर्सी पर छोटा रावण बड़ी कुर्सी पर बड़ा रावण; लोहे की कुर्सी पर मज़बूत रावण; लकड़ी की कुर्सी पर कमज़ोर रावण

watch the hands

That's what they tell you if you're keen on figuring out how a magician's magic worked. That's how you spot the legerdemain. The presdigitation. The sleight of hand. Someone gave most TV anchors in India the idea that a magician's actions were the best guide for on-screen behaviour. This explains why all those anchors on countdown shows, all those "reporters" on various "news" channels, all those "interviewers" in celebrity snuff pieces look like they were trying to do one of the following:
  • trying to do card tricks with neither cards nor tricks
  • trying to practise sign language
  • trying to wash invisible windows
  • trying to get exercise for the axilla

Unfortunately, some of these on-screen shenanigans end up seeming rather unfortunately ... inappropriate. Consider this "interview." The "interviewer" looks like he's either trying to audition for a commercial for Steak N' Shake burgers or trying to describe innovations in personal flotation devices. The latter gives you another way of looking at all such videos online. Consider it the equivalent in the world of online videos of the clinomaniacal suffix appended to those random lines found in fortune cookies.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

reverse name mangling

Don't you get worried when you can't put your full name on forms in the US? Or in the corporate address book that most probably has the woefully inadequate fields First Name and Last Name (why didn't the designers think of such obviously essential fields like Family Name, Village Name, Genus and Phylum?). Yes, I'm talking to you Dasarath Venkata Subramania Varaprasad Balaji and Colonel Julius Nagendranath Wilfred Singh. Doesn't your temperature rise when you hear 'em knock the sails out of all the love and adoration infused in your big long tongue-twisting name by those who named you? Aren't you enraged when the mutilators of your moniker are shameless enough to butcher your name even when you've been accommodating enough to just provide a first name and last name? Here's your chance to take revenge. All you to do is be prepared with an arsenal of names of the Indian disposition and proceed to convert the American names to suitable alternatives that are kinder to the tongue. Then proceed to use them instead of the originals (make sure you protect yourself with COBRA if you do this at work and have a good lawyer in any case). Here are a few examples to get your started: Chris becomes Krishna (although several Krishnas have probably changed to Chris to accommodate their capitalist masters); Scott becomes Saket; Mike becomes Mukul (it's easy to see how when you consider "Michael"); Smith becomes Samanth; Jones could become Joshi or Jonnalagadda; David Koppel becomes Dawood Koppula, but it might smell of the case of Sikhs named Abdullah Khan and Dost Akbar; Norris Pendegrass becomes Naresh Pendharkar. The rest is up to you hippomonstro-sesquippedaliomaniacs. Play it again Sameer.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Julie Taymor's Across the Universe offers a heady mix of references to all things about and by the Beatles as well as an assortment of interesting videos (J. M. Flagg's famous poster and the Statue of Liberty for I Want You (She's So Heavy) to help you pass the time while the film makes its way to the end. Neither the performances (barring, perhaps, Dana Fuchs as Sadie and Martin Luther McCoy as Jojo) nor the cameos (Salma Hayek as the nurses in Happiness is a Warm Gun or Bono as Dr. Robert belting out I Am The Walrus or Eddie Izzard as Mr. Kite or Joe Cocker -- nudge nudge wink wink -- singing Come Together) can make up for a screenplay that remains but a strand connecting trivia. [January 08, 2009]

TMNT must represent the first time a live-action franchise was rebooted using CGI. The first animated TMNT film begins with the clichéd sound of the Doom fireball and then decides to use voice-over for back story. It makes up for these missteps with some great production design for the cityscape; the dark alleys and the lighting make this film worth one's while.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

they said it

Bipasha Basu in an interview for after topping the Maxim annual hot 100 list several months ago:

We have to ask: In your opinion, who is the hottest of them all? Minus you, of course!

The industry today has so many beautiful women, each one of them with their own brand of sex appeal. It's hard for me to peg one down, especially as they are all hot in their own way. Besides, I never really look at women, I'm an all-man woman.

Celina Jaitley introducing something she wrote for the TOI:

Being a public personality I feel it's my duty to let my fans know what I think about 'love'. Love, I feel, is what makes everything in this world go round and mind you, it could be 'love' or merely the 'absence of love' which can change a person's life forever.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

pour some detergent on me

Siddhartha sends me a pointer to yet another interview where keeping the brain running rewards you with some laughs. Jagmohan Mundhra, the IIT alumnus who moved from making exploitation soft-core yawners to mixing titillation and issues with films like Kamala is all set to unleash a psychological thriller called Apartment (not to be confused with that old classic). The film stars two lasses who have stacked their beamers in Bollywood with their acting chops, Tanushree Dutta and Neetu Chandra. The narrative, of course, demands that epidermal vistas be provided. So it's no surprise that both the kittens have lapped up a chance to tantalise the ignorant souls who hoped to get a breakfast tray. This will be strictly family-rated droolery, Freunde und Freundinen, but one cannot talk sense to those whose minds are churning out tunes to 'em Clair-de-Lunes. Those of us who know better can chuckle by reading Neetu Chandra's interview, in which some attempt is made to make all this seem artistic by comparing her bathing in a bathroom to a sequence with much more relevance in the bleak classic Chakra. Having noted that the lass and the interviewer have missed the point of the Smita Patil starrer, we can move on to the other funny bits.

We first have evidence of competition:

Were you awkward or uncomfortable?
I went about it very professionally. Initially, I was nervous but later, after seeing the scene and the way it was shot, I am confident it will go down well. They also showed me Tanushree's shower scene with Rohit in her lavish apartment and then there is my bathing scene in a run-down broken bathroom. I am sure there will be comparisons.

We then move on to a behind-the-scenes (no pun intended) take on the sequence:

Were you really bare, as it seems in the photograph?
Well it shows that I am nude but I don't want to comment beyond that. It can be a trick of the camera too. Do you think any actress would pose for a scene like this without wearing anything?

Technical trickery can hide or reveal a lot of things, but one must not forget the Bollytropes that are immune to it (Rani Mukerji's voice, Celina Jaitley's inability to act, Emraan Hashmi's cult of personality).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

a hexadecimal dollar's worth of laughs

I am embarrassed at not having stumbled upon George Vaccaro's blog dominated by posts about his encounter with surreal customer service at Verizon that refused to acknowledge the influence of units of measure on financial calculations. You can listen to the recording of the phone call here and read a transcript here. Here's a sample to make sure you actually follow those links.

G: Do you recognize that there's a difference between "point zero zero two dollars" and "point zero zero two cents"?
M: Point zero zero two dollars?
G: Do you recognize that there is actually...
M: ...and point zero zero two cents.
G: Yes, do you you recognize there's a difference between those 2 numbers?
M: No.
G: Okay, is there a difference between 2 dollars and 2 cents?
M: Well, yeah, sir..
G: Well okay, is it.. is there a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents?
M: .002 dollars and .002 cents.
G: Yes, is there a difference between..
M: Sir, sir, they're.. they're both the same if you, if you look at 'em on paper-wise

G: [big sigh] Okay, I think I have to do this again. Do you recognize that there's a difference between one dollar and one cent?
A: Definitely.
G: Do you recognize there's a difference between half a dollar and half a cent?
A: Definitely
G: Then, do you therefore recognize there's a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents
A: No.
G: No?
A: I mean there's... there's no .002 dollars.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

what happens to the taste of coffee now?

James Gosling has decided to "move on" from Oracle. This must surely be significant in the list of changes and happenings since Oracle's acquisition of Sun. Oracle now owns both the HotSpot JVM and JRockit; it owns BEA WebLogic and controls the fate of Glassfish (which, interestingly, owes something to code from Oracle TopLink -- itself an acquired product -- donated by Oracle years ago). Gosling's been supportive of JavaFX and didn't quite like the state of the JCP, another thing that Oracle will control. My thoughts about the future of Java since Oracle's acquisition of Sun have not been positive. They were surely biased by what I saw happening to Orion and TopLink after Oracle had acquired them. Gosling's departure, unfortunately does not help matters. It suggests that a lot may be wrong with the direction Oracle intends to go with Java. Still, Java is bigger than anything else that Oracle has acquired and one will have to wait to see how things shape up.

Friday, April 09, 2010

the first husband leaves

Saat Khoon Maaf is what the Vishal/Priyanka flick written by Ruskin Bond is called and the roster of the seven bridegrooms has looked interesting ever since it started out with Mohanlal. Alas, the list which also features Naseeruddin Shah, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Irrfan Khan and Anu Kapoor will be missing the thunder from down under, because, reportedly, Mohanlal is no longer of the film. Little else is known yet. Perhaps it's just a joke. Perhaps it's not. Only time will tell.

[Cross-posted on the Vishal Bhardwaj blog]

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

comatose and brain-dead

With Intervention, Robin Cook dares to venture into Dan Brown territory. I could have said Umberto Eco territory (purely for Foucault's Pendulum, but it would do Eco's reputation injustice while implying (incorrectly) that Robin Cook was capable of being more than a writer of serviceable medical thrillers.

begin flashback

I was an avid reader of genre fiction years ago and Robin Cook was one of the many whose books I picked off the shelves of the Popular Book House library and turned the pages of. Memories can tend to become more favourable over the years and this might account for my impression that I was entertained. There was a lot of information in the pages -- Cook was, like Crichton (who, interestingly, helmed the first of two cinematic adaptations of Cook's ouevre, Coma) and Grisham, to name a couple, the kind of writer who wove proof that he had done his research into the narrative. I do not recall having trouble finishing any of his books. Not being able to glide from cover to cover should have, in retrospect, told me that I had found a book that demanded more and would be more important than these potboilers. I remember quitting Cook when a book I picked up had a protagonist with the same name as a book I had read a week or so before. That, for me all those years ago, was the last straw. I could tolerate the guy hopping around in the medical milieu and finding places to stuff a thriller's narrative elements. But running out of names (or was it the same protagonist?) was just a sign of laziness.

end flashback

Intervention, now that I have turned over the back cover to look at the author posing with a smile in his house (presumably), seems like harsh punishment for daring to challenge my decision to abandon this guy's ouevre years ago. If Cook was good in his older novels, this novel makes them look like literary masterpieces. Cook stretches beyond his turf (the medical thriller) and tries to pluck clumps of grass from the Brown verdant fields of religious conspiracy and revelation. In doing so, he shows us why Irving Wallace's The Word is a far superior richer work. He also makes Dan Brown look like a nominee for the Pulitzer Prize. The characters are stock, the abuse of literally is appalling and the final portion of the book throws up a twist that comes early enough to make the rest of the limp conclusion even worse than it is -- Cook abandons a mix of narrative and dialogue and churns out hasty pages that look like a poor submission in an essay competition. If anyone's about to make an impulsive selection as I did and is looking for some advice, here it is: this dish stinks.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

the appropriation of abbreviations

CPU used to mean Central Processing Unit until Oracle decided to use the abbreviation to refer to Critical Patch Updates; apparently patches did not seem to exciting for some corporate lover of cornflower blue.
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