Saturday, July 23, 2011

the guacamole of his own deception

Imagine, if you will, Jack Nicholson stepping out of Chinatown and Johnny Depp walking off the set of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and both of them getting into Seth Brundle's telepod. Rango seems quite like the result of the teleportation. I am thinking more of the chameleon and the poster, but the film owes a huge debt to Chinatown, among other films, and Nicholson was in it. The film also has a Hunter S. Thompson "cameo" and that's what Depp's film was all about. Even the poster seems to ring a trippy bell.

The film runs high with numerous riffs on and references to films like Star Wars canon, Sergio Leone's westerns and Apocalypse Now and these references zip past your eyes and ears at a pace that respects your attention. The more you know about the movies it quotes from, the more you are likely to enjoy it, but even if you just walked in hoping to be entertained, you are not going to be disappointed.

Johnny Depp turns in a splendid performance behind the microphone and finds able support in the rest of the crew (which includes Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Ned Beatty, Isla Fisher, Harry Dean Stanton, Abigail Breslin and Ray Winstone). If you love Westerns, and especially the ones that Sergio Leone directed, you will find a lot to enjoy here. The narrative sticks to the familiar tale of a hero's journey (see also: A Bug's Life, Kung-fu Panda) mixed with the familiar trappings of a Western. The colours are bright and glorious, the animation detailed and the film itself is a marvel. Where else does one find Mariachi owls, Wagner on banjos, a bank that stores water and a rattlesnake with a gattling gun for a rattle? Gore Verbinski and ILM have made a fine film that really and truly holds its own in a genre that has been dominated by Pixar.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

listen and pronounce

Dear Indian IT professional[sic],
I regret to inform you that the word iteration is not pronounced as eye-te-ray-shun. The correct pronunciation is it-a-ray-shun (I could use the International Phonetic Alphabet here, but I fear that it would only confuse you). I understand that English is a very strange language: the idea is pronounced eye-di/dee-ya(a), but the word instead is pronounced ins-ted. When one wants to understand how to pronounce a given word, one could, I believe rely on a dictionary or thesaurus or just listen to other people (who, hopefully, are not stricken by this affliction as you are) talk. Saying I Traitor (see how it spells!) when you mean Iterator can only offer your listeners some reason to chuckle (or perhaps they have already been driven to apathy after hearing the likes of you talking on and on as if you had some misplaced sense of self). Until dictionaries that are regarded as standard references defer to the multitude of your ilk and accept eye-te-ray-shun as an alternative form of pronouncing iteration, please consider being gentle on the ears of your listeners while also making you a better speaker.

Thank you for your patience and time.

belly buddoor

While watching the extremely liberated and entertaining Delhi Belly a mild sense of déjà vu hit me.
  • Three friends/roommates in Delhi
  • a scooter that goes kaput at inopportune moments
  • spoofs of pop culture
  • getting accidentally involved in criminal goings-on

The answer: Chashm-e-Buddoor, Sai Paranjape's cult classic comedy from 1981.

I do not mean to suggest that the Abhinay Deo-helmed film is a rip-off or that Akshat Verma was taking a hint from Sanjay Gupta and running a DVD of Chashm-e-Buddoor endlessly while doodling out ideas for his script. I just found it interesting that two films I enjoyed had such common elements.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

the roaring jeepbuster

Coming soon to theatres is Singham, the Bolly-remake of the Tamil blockbuster with Ajay Devgn (is this what they call dropped-A tuning?) stepping in for Suriya/Surya. The trailer featuring the title song has everything any lover of the opulent waste, the audacious stunts and fuming masculine grimaces of constipation that had been hallmarks of South Indian pulp cinema, usurped by Bollywood in a rage of remakes in the 80s and 90s and then left to thrive in the home base. taathaiyaa over to arrays of Dhols, colour-coordinated vigorous dancers, synchronised steps, a well-fed virile moustache (coconut oil, makkhan and lots of spirit gum). Watch kicked goons trip the loop fantastic as they defy the ordinary laws of Physics that work well in the IIT JEE, but not in the world of commercial cinema. Take a break to watch our hero fire a single shot at a jeep to send it flying (I kid you not!). The poster itself is quite cool, but I really like the teaser poster that was released some weeks before. That one just features a lion (Singham, duh!) with the letters of the title drawn out like a trim for its mane. The accompanying trailer offers more aerobics than the one with the title song. One only hopes that the obligatory romantic interludes are kept to a minimum, so that the lion's share of the film is devoted to conflict, confrontation and cracking jaws. It has just one curious oddity: it ends with the camera running in at a low angle to Devgn's face as he spits out his wheezy weak punchline: jis me.n hai dam to fakt baajiraao si.ngham. You see there's just a wee problem in how he pronounces fakt. फ़क्त is not how a Maharashtrian would pronounce it. There's no nuqtaa, which means it should be pha (try saying pa and ha at the same time and you'll get the idea) and not fa; and despite being written as फक्त, it's pronounced फक्तं (that's phakta for you). I wonder now if this was a weak attempt to toss a faux cuss word into the laps of the censor and then smile in all innocence.

By the way, does anyone know more about the name Shikre? I'm familiar with Shirke, but I don't think I've seen the name that Prakash Raj's character sports in the film. His name in the Tamil original referred to Murugan's vehicle of choice (the connection between that and a lion is left as an exercise to the reader).


If Google had been called Thirty instead of Google, their recent foray into social networking could have given Jeetendra his most profitable endorsement contract.

Does I am Bombay to know qualify as an Indian entry in the tome of rhyming slang? ("dying" replaced by "Bombay" (Bombay Dyeing))

I would like to trademark the term Pan Parag (पान पराग) Developer to refer to developers who always seem to think "One class is not enough; I must write several classes to do something simple" (of course you remember the ad featuring Jalal Agha!)

How's this for the opening line of a story or book?: a granola bar fell out of the box and to its death

I'd like Prem Chopra to make a comeback as a sleazy Bollywood villain with the line My name is Madan; show me your badan (बदन)

Watching bad Telugu movies is a gulTi (गुल्टी) pleasure

Q: What did God say to Jesus on Good Friday?
A: Hang in there

Flamingo of the Fundament would be a great English title for the 1961 film Aas ka Panchhi (आस का पंछी)

Software builds are like hearts; they are bound to be broken

RIP rasika

Rasika Joshi passed away on Thursday, July 07, 2011 after a long battle against cancer, robbing us of a great actress. She was 39. I was unfortunate never to have caught any of her work on the stage and only had her stellar turns in the films that got made when RGV's Factory was at its most fecund: the daring role of the prison bully in Ek Hasina Thi, Vishnu Prasad's annoying mother in Gayab!. The maid in Vaastu Shastra seemed like a weak echo of characters she had already played, but, if the film was an indication, the Factory had begun to sport some warts. By the time she showed up as Mrs. Dave in Go, the Factory was sputtering and when she appeared as Shiva's mother in Johnny Gaddaar, Sriram Raghavan had moved out of the Factory. As she seemed to become a frequent fixture in Priyadarshan's films, RGV continued to try and get her, even if it was a blink-and-you-might-miss-her role, for his films (Darling, Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag) and even for his forthcoming Not a Love Story. From an acquaintance and a fan, Rasika, you will be missed.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

vishal's next(s)

As seems to be the norm, there are numerous notes about Vishal's next venture.

The first is the sequel to Ishqiya and is called, until further notice, Dedh Ishqiya. Vishal, of course, will only be producing (and, one assumes, handling the songs and music). Shooting is supposed to start either at the end of 2011 or some time in 2012. It seems almost certain that Vidya Balan is not part of it while the other regulars are. It is unclear whether Kangna Ranaut and Madhuri Dixit will be part of the sequel.

The next is the much-hyped adaptation of Chetan Bhagat's 2 States and might (finally?) see Shah Rukh Khan collaborating with Vishal after the last opportunity for Mr. Mehta and Mrs. Singh came to naught. Rumours suggested that Priyanka Chopra was slated to play Ananya to SRK's Krish, but the actress has reportedly cleared that up: she is not part of the film (yet?). There are rumours that Asin might be the one, but rumours will be rumours. Things may start moving only in 2012.

Evidently bitten by sequelitis, Vishal is also working on Kaminey 2, but without Priyanka Chopra. More is not known.

The thread with the most surprises, however, has been for a film called (currently) Daayan. This not only sees Vishal collaborating for the first time with Ekta Kapoor, but also has a very surprising choice for the male lead: Emraan Hashmi. Evidently, this choice drove several A-list actresses away, including Rani Mukerji, but the latest rumour indicates that Vidya Balan, who did not make the roster of Dedh Ishqiya might snag the eponymous role. Little else is known about the film except for the premise of a guy doing the rounds with three lassies (which makes the choice of Hashmi not so surprising given his ouevre), one of whom is a witch.

Vishal is also working on what might well be the first in the pack to make it to the marquee: a romantic comedy with Ajay Devgn (TAFKA Devgan) and produced by Kumar Mangat. The title might surface in a few weeks.

After being a part of the launch of Mafia Queens of Mumbai by S. Hussain Zaidi and Jane Borges, Vishal has reportedly bought the rights to one of its chapters. Anything more might happen only after the cinematic adaptation of 2 States gets done (or abandoned).
[Cross-posted on the Vishal Bhardwaj blog]

Saturday, July 02, 2011

short notes

(being an exercise in clearing out old notes that never developed into posts)

As soon as dil kyo.n ye meraa started streaming into my ears, I knew that Rajesh Roshan had finally managed to fix one of the problems that has plagued his ouevre. With Kites he had finally found someone to arrange (take your pick from Dhrubajyoti Phukan, Prasad Sasthe, Anirudh Bhola, Taufiq Qureshi and Jaikishan Vanjari) and mix his songs (Eric Pillai). So what if the song sounds like Pritam or even M M Kreem (in his better days)? It's still a huge leap forward from the material from the last few years.

Did no one else notice the modified riff from Shipping out to Boston by The Dropkick Murphys in Daale.n on the soundtrack of Lafangey Parindey?

Here's how the connections work on the soundtrack of Break ke Baad. Monica Dogra, who makes her Bollywood singing début duuriyaa.N (is the nod to Sheryl Crowe's Soak up the Sun intentional or just an accident?) is the Shaa'ir in Shaa'ir+Func, her dance/rock/electronic outfit with Randolph Correia. Now, Randolph Correia also happens to be the guitarist in Pentagram, whose lead singer is Vishal Dadlani, who also happens to be the Vishal in Vishal-Shekhar, who happen to be the music directors for Break ke Baad.

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