Sunday, August 29, 2010

torn udders

Taran Adarsh's reviews always offer fodder for posts (a good thing when you want to toss out another post about something but are at a loss for words). Here are some nuggets from his recent reviews.

(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?)

vishal nuggets from a strange place

Khalid Mohamed's review of Antardwand over at PFC is one of the two posts at the portal dedicated to this National Award-winning film based on bridgegroom kidnapping in Bihar. The other post is a more personal one by Hansal Mehta dedicated to Sushil Rajpal, the director of this National Award winner. Hansal Mehta looks like Forrest Gump as he drops one destined-to-be-famous name after another in the post. The post also ends with more details about Jayate along with a short clip from the film. I had read about the film in my quest to find out more about Hansal Mehta after having loved Chhal and Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar!.

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

no english please: we indians are

One of the most innovative things the Indian Consulates in the USA did to celebrate the dawn and morn of 21st century was to convert the paper-driven process of requesting a new passport after your old one had expired to a web-based process that still resulted in dead trees, but arguably eased the pain you went through trying to get everything right. Unfortunately, the documentation to assist applicants appears to have been written and compiled by some really incompetent people. It seems like someone knew the right people in the right department of the consulate and got their nincompoop offspring or nephews/nieces the job. Consider the page offering guidelines on filling the form.
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:

he system is designed to accept 'n' number of applications in one day. When the 'n' number of applications has been reached for the given day, the appointment date rolls over to another date.
The abusive phrase 'n' number is common in Indian English (and rife in the field of IT). This gives us some idea about the kind of person responsible for typing this text. Moreover, not telling us what the possible values of n are is a bold creative move.

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.

thriller by the code

Jules Dassin's Brute Force is a fine entry in the noir canon and a shockingly brutal film, especially considering that it was released in 1947. The violence is especially unsettling thanks to what the production code let you show and what it didn't. The brutality is in full bloom during the climax, which also perhaps underscores the influence of the real Battle of Alcatraz more than anything else in the film. Each principal prisoner represents an archetype with a heart large enough to make you ignore the crime he is in for. In addition to being a bitter melodrama, the film also includes references to Nazi war camps: Hume Cronyn's character and performance are perhaps the most explicit hints of this. The Criterion DVD release, as with every release under the label, does justice to the film by presenting an excellent transfer and excellent special features to help you understand the context the film was made in and how it has survived over the years to become an important one. [May 31, 2009]

Friday, August 20, 2010

a multilayered tragedy for everyone involved

I had evidently not learnt well from my last exposure to the works of Robin Cook in the 21st century. In my defence, Critical was published before Intervention, so I could be excused for hoping that Dr. Cook still had some of the magic that adorned his his early books. It was a relief to find out that Critical was in fact a better book. Unfortunately, it still qualified as a poor effort when one considered books like Coma and Brain.

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:

Never once did he think about his knees and the effort expended by their various ligaments, which faithfully maintained the integrity of the joints despite the considerable stresses placed on them, and by the menisci, which cushioned the substantial pressure exerted by the distal ends of the femurs, or thighbones, on the tops of the tibias, or shinbones.

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:

My guess is that it was a behind-the-scenes lobby competition, with the lobbyists from the AMA pitted against the lobbyists for the AHA, or American Hospital Association, and the FAH, or Federation of American Hospitals. I guess the doctors spent more money than the hospital admin groups.

Did I mention apostrophe abuse? How about inconsistent apostrophe abuse? Consider the following:

Laurie got along famously with all the PA's but particularly with Janice, who appreciated Laurie's recognition of her work. More than any of the MEs, Laurie was constantly coming to her and asking questions and valuing her opinion.

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

the red death

I'm sure I'm not the first or the last one to make digs about Oracle being a different kind of Red Scare. It's unfortunately no laughing matter when a lot of old content that used to be live at is no longer available even at the new scarlet apartments over at The most popular URL seems to be this one, which loudly screams Content removed before presenting you with a search box and a load of text at the bottom that's as friendly as a psychotic skunk:
Oracle is reviewing the Sun product roadmap and will provide guidance to customers in accordance with Oracle's standard product communication policies. Any resulting features and timing of release of such features as determined by Oracle's review of roadmaps, are at the sole discretion of Oracle. All product roadmap information, whether communicated by Sun Microsystems or by Oracle, does not represent a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract.

Whatever that means, a lot of my old bookmarks lead into nothingness. I hope it's not time to switch to tea.

you were only waiting for this moment to arise

[cross-posted on the Passion For Cinema blog]

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

a taste of indianness

BIG Cinemas USA decided to do something special this year to celebrate Indian Independence. They decided to run something called Spirit of my Tirangaa: free movies screened all week from August 07, 2010 to August 15, 2010. All you had to do was go online to their site, "purchase" tickets (use a credit card and be charged $0.0) and then show up at the chosen theatre on the chosen date near the chosen time, present the same credit card and get your tickets.

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

preview potshots

Lafangey Parindey: You can be sure that nobody's going to believe that the man behind Parineeta and Laaga Chunari Mein Daag is the director of this mix of action, romance and high concept (biker dude named One Shot Nandu falls for a roller-skating blind dancer named Pinky Palkar). The fonts and the use of white and yellow are familiar, but someone has to help me with remembering where I've seen them before (yes, I thought of the remake of Gone in 60 Seconds, but I think there's something much closer). Someone named Gopi Puthran (the next Vijay Krishna Acharya?) is responsible for the story, screenplay and dialogues like the poor Vishal Bhardwaj ripoff that opens the trailer (दर्द और मर्द में द और म का फर्क होता है; द और म बोले तो दम) and the poor female rejoinder with Deepika Padukone attempting some poor Bambaiya (जो दिमाग से खिसकेला रहता है वोइच life में ऊपर जाता है: someone please bring Anthony Gonsalves back!). When Piyush Mishra appears (as the villain of the piece, surely), he takes his relatively simpler lines and growls them out with delightful smoldering menace. It's a pity that such moments are drowned by scenes that are hardly exciting and dumb intertitles that present the essential story in a nutshell (he is wild ... she is blind ... he was born to fight ... she was born to fly ... they were destined to meet ...he will teach her how to see ... she will teach him how to love ... but love (cut) comes at a (cut) price). After Badmaash Company and Lafangey Parindey, it's only a matter of time before the marquee is hit by the likes of Paaji Angaarey, Mawali Enterprises and Leechad Titliyaan.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

the loud unsubtle woes of identity

Mahesh Manjrekar's Astitva is loaded with too many Bollywood clichés, too much bad staging and hammy performances putting banshees to shame to be convincing or competent enough. A simple premise of the effect of an extra-marital affair on the family could have interpreted effectively with a judicious choice of dialogue, staging and music. Manjrekar unfortunately employs elements that might work better in Marathi mainstream theatre but not in the world of edited film. Employing the familiar Bollywood trope of non-diegetic songs only makes matters worse. The result is an overlong exercise in loud drama and unsubtle quietude that might appeal only to the popcorn-chewing hoi polloi, who might welcome the break from incongruous breaks into foreign lands for a session of tush-and-armpit aerobics.

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 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

the moon rises on the ocean

Indian Ocean's first release (still forthcoming) after the loss of Asheem also bears the longest of all their titles. 16/330 Khajoor Road is named for the band's Bron-Yr-Aur and the band is releasing its seven songs (which include bulaa rahaa, which they had composed for the still-to-hit-the-marquee Shoonya and a Bengali song bondhu, both of which have been part of their concert playlists) one by one, in each passing month online over at their portal. At the end of it all, the band plans to release a double CD: the second disc will contain alternative versions and recordings of rehearsals. This cool idea is apparently doing well so far, after the first song Chand went online last month. This was a song penned by Sanjeev Sharma that they had recorded for an Anurag Kashyap short called Pramod Bhai 23; the short was part of the anthology Mumbai Cutting, which a privileged few have been able to catch it at IFFLA in 2008 or later at the 10th Osian Film Festival. It has since joined the list of films stuck in release hell (Sudhir Mishra's Tera Kya Hoga Johnny, Nagesh Kukunoor's Aashayein, Anurag Kashyap's Paanch, Gulzar's Libaas). Oh well. Rue no more. Sit back and enjoy the unique sound of Indian Ocean.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

RED: the rediff english dictionary

red(iff)undant nounery: the habit of adding extra nouns without adding any meaning (usually to reveal either the writer's lack of familiarity with English writing or the writer's desire to add to the long list of India's contributions to the English language)

Her filmography lists include Om Shanti Om, I Hate Love Storys and now Sonam Kapoor's Aisha.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

my own hocus pocus

(with due apologies to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.)

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.


I didn't know Kalpana Iyer had been a winner of the Miss India title. Having discovered this, I decided to check her filmography out. All my memories of Madame Iyer were of her as a vamp in hits churned out by Bappi Lahiri (hari Om hari in Pyaara Dushman and rambhaa ho in Armaan). Her filmography did not yield any surprises, however; there was no phase of roles indicating a desire to try some serious acting and snag an award or two. But I stumbled upon Manokaamnaa. I knew Bappi's songs for the film, but I had no idea that Madame Iyer had starred in this Raj Kiran flick. Predictably, the video for my favourite song on the soundtrack was up on Youtube. As with most of the songs for Bollywood films, what goings-on on screen added naught to my favourable impressions of the song. I, however, realised that in addition to sounding like himself, Bappi also seemed to be doing an impersonation of Yesudas. What the song would have sounded like if Yesudas had sung it is unfortunately a matter of speculation.
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