Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Paa movie review

Paa turned out to be a good movie. And, yes, it bears no resemblance to ‘Curious case of Benjamin Button’ or ‘Jack’. The script-writer and make-up man have done a beautiful job with the script as well as Amitabh Bachchan’s prosthetics.

As everybody who follows movies and sees the trailers would know by now that the movie deals with the progeria disease. Children who suffer from this are not expected to live beyond their teens as their body ages much faster and they reach the biological age of 80s in their teens. Amitabh Bachchan plays the role of a 12 year old child studying in a school with ‘cool’ friends who question their fathers when they are called bastards by them. One of the so-called friends includes a girl who wants to apologize to Auro for having been shocked by his appearance when she had seen him for the first time.

One thing to appreciate in the movie is that the women have been shown to have a back-bone and are not the simpering women of yesterday’s movies. We have Vidya Balan who plays the single parent role. She brings up Auro despite his father refusing to marry her. She does it with the support of her mother called ‘bum’ affectionately by Auro. She is also a gynecologist and doing well enough to send her son to school in a chauffeur-driven car.

One thing that did not go too well is the mother expounding on the joys of having children while the mother is in her 20s and 30s. Maybe, the moralising tone could have been left out of the movie.

The conflict between the politicians and the media also seems to have been over-stretched a bit. The Bollywood solution seems to be that politicians should start acting ‘wily’ like Abhishek and send the ‘chawl’ living people to the rich journalists house so that the media people also know the meaning of what it is like to be houseless.

We have another odd situation where the bastard-progeria affected child lying on his death-bed more or less forces his parents to take the ‘round and round’ pheras (marriage vows) around his bed in hospital. It might have been better to let the parents be on their own and not emotionally blackmail them into marrying one another!

The song udi-udi can be seen at Youtube.

All in all, a good movie and to be enjoyed.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Zakir Hussain, Amjad Ali Khan and Grammy Awards

Yeah .. after AR Rahman we have tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain who has been nominated for the 52nd Grammy award in the Best Classical Crossover album category for the album "The Melody of Rhythm." This is with Leonard Slatkin, conductor; Béla Fleck and Edgar Meyer.

We also have nomination for Ancient Sounds by Rahim Alhaj And Amjad Ali Khan in the Best Traditional World Music Album - (Vocal or Instrumental) category.

Kudos to Indian classical singers getting international "official" recognition.

Wikipedia link to Zakir Hussain

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

700 billion dollar man

I wonder how much Neel Kashkari curses the days when he has to shovel snow off the ground! Have you noticed the Dish Tv on top of the cabin - seems he hasn't let go of cable!

How much fun it must be to wake up everyday and not have the adrenaline rushing through the body about the work that needs to be done in the hi-fi political world.

I think I will also take a small cottage in Kasauli here and go through the rigors of water freezing in pipes, the bone-freezing cold, clothes not drying on the clothes line and sitting next to the heater if the power is there.

Not sure how much I will enjoy that after a couple of days

Homosexuality and Heaven

A leading Vatican cardinal caused a flutter in the secular press yesterday by stating that homosexuals who act on their sexual impulses cannot go to heaven.


It is interesting to read how the Roman Catholic Church first claims that there is a Heaven. Nobody has proof of that. And, then to claim that homosexuals will not go there is quite strange! Maybe, Jesus Christ came and whispered into the church officials ears after his resurrection as it is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible!

And, even if one does admit to the fact that there is a Heaven, what it implies is that when one enters the pearly gates there, the saint at the door checking the credentials of the dead person must have access to camera footage that would show the evidence. Not a very edifiying thought!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Honda Civic Sense

Yesterday we had gone to the market and had parked our car in the clearly demarcated parking slots that are available (surprise, surprise). This was of course with the expectation that when we come back, we will be able to zoom off in the car. But, no, of course not, we live in a land of educated people who don’t have any civic sense even if they are driving around Honda Civics’ (or is Honda City)! When we came back, we found a Honda City parked lengthwise right behind our car. We hoped that the car was in neutral gear and tried to move it. But, no such luck! The car also had a sticker for Punjab and High Court advocate parking indicating that the car-owner was a man of influence (in India, the advocate ‘baradri’-clique- is at top-of –the-ladder in society’s echelons). We tried to find out from a couple of shops whether anybody knew the owner or was one himself. But, no such luck. After some time, a short wheat-colored cute roly-poly guy could be seen strolling to the car with a packet of medicines. On being reprimanded, his excuse was that “I had to buy medicines”. And, what about civic sense. He said, “I am very sorry”. And, that was that.
I guess that the traffic cops need to introduce a challan for this also. Maybe, then the citizenry will come to their senses. Of course, that it will add to the cops kitty is another story altogether.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Obama and King

Tiger Woods

Why do you think someone as coolheaded as Tiger Woods ran over a fire hydrant and went careening into a tree in the middle of the night?
Clearly, a case of missing the Wood for the trees.
His wife says she bashed in the car window with a golf club to rescue him. That was brave of her.
Definitely, she was practising her swing to rein in his swinging with other women.
Oh, come on. You don't believe all this about Tiger frolicking around with some waitress.
Of course, not, he must have been discussing the finer points of his handicap with the 'other woman'.
I wonder why he is so chary of talking to the police, after all, he has one of the cleanest reputations in sports.
You dummy, he doesn't want a ticket for knocking down a fire hydrant. Also he probably wants to steer clear of charges of cruelty to the tree from the loony Greens.
Do say: Teeing is believing.
Don't say: Well, he is in a right royal hole now.

Source: Hindustan Times

Lady Godiva - movie review

The DVD cover of this movie says it all "the ultimate Brit love story" and "chick flick". As a chick flick, thankfully it is short and not too cloyingly sweet.
The story is suppose to be based on a true one where Lady Godiva went through the town naked on a horse on the bet laid by her busband around 1040 AD. Strangely, it was the husband himself who was the bad guy as he challenged his wife to ride naked through the streets of the town if she wanted the taxes laid by him on the town-people to be reduced. She decided to take up the dare and did exactly that - she rode through the town naked on a horse with her long tresses covering her chest. However, the people of the town turned their backs on her and did not take a look at her while she rode through the town. Except, for one man who was a tailor and it is said that the phrase 'peeping Tom' has its origins in this story.
The movie takes off on this premise. A modern-day young woman - Jemima Honey played by Phoebe Thomas - who is trying to save her dead brother's art gallery is challenged by her modern suave charming dare-devil guy-friend - Michael Bartle played by Matthew Chambers - to save the gallery by riding naked through the streets of Oxford. There are also some kids who attend a workshop at the art gallery. She is initially offended but later on decides to take up the offer on the behest of the kids. And, then, strangely enough we have a scene where Michael tells Jemima that he will not marry her if she does ride through the town naked and that she has to make the choice between the art gallery or him.
Duhhhhhhhh - first of all you lay the bet and then you can't cope with the feelings. Later on, of course, all things tie up together and we have a happy ending with a Prince William thrown in for some effect.
Acting wise, a dismal movie. As a directorial venture, it could have been done better. The script could have been tightened up. All right for the 88 minutes long movie and ideal for a lazy afternoon when one is snoozing and watching the movie through half-sleepy eyes. 2 stars out of 5.

Wake Up Sid movie review

The plot is a simple coming of age story with a slight twist where Karan Johar (as producer) and Ayan Mukerji (the director as well as being one of the script-writers) bring together the unlikely 'jodi' (couple) of Konkana Sen (what will she take to get her makeup artist to put makeup on her neck to hide her age!?!) and Ranbir Kapoor. Aisha plays the role of a Calcutta-brought-up girl (if 28 year old woman can be called a girl) who comes to Mumbai looking for her independence. On her first night in Mumbai she meets the rich spoilt brat in the shape of Ranbir Kapoor whom she invites for a walk but is quick to point out to him that she doesn't have any ulterior meaning behind it (means sex, I guess as the word can't be mentioned in a Bollywood movie!). She is also quick to allay the mother's apprehensions about the same point when Sid's mom (Suriya Pathak) comes to Aisha's place to check it out.

Usual themes of mother-son and father-son relationship are handled as they would be in any other Bollywood movie but with a little more finesse than usual. The father-son relationship rift ends when the son presents his first salary cheque to his dad. Mother-son relationship gets healed when Sid recognizes that the love that his mother has for him is much more powerful than her lack of English-speaking background.
We have the sexy siren who lives next-door to Aisha and dares to talk about female sexuality with her over a glass of wine. But, alas it was not to be besides the trite observations that Sid as well as the Mumbai Beats editor (Rahul Khanna) were sexy and one should get on 'top of him'. But, then after giving a teaser where one hoped that an Indian director would explore some finer nuances of Indian female sexuality, the director pans out to another scene. Such a waste! Maybe, we could have had some exposes and disclosures like in “Sex and the City “ and the vagina monologue.
Mukerji follows the very conventional pattern of not letting the relationship get consummated (maybe because Sid couldn't get it up as he was so drunk one night when it was likeliest to happen - hee hee) till post-the-movie in one's imagination when the two major parties have declared their love for another. Grow up, Mukerji! Pre-marital sex is a fact of life. It is unlikely that two grown adults staying together for some time in the same flat in todays day and age won’t consummate their relationship (although I will concede that there is a miniscule chance of it happening). However, the picture that Mukerji has presented about Bollywoods Heights where sex is pure and unsullied till marriage ensures that the delicate sensibilities of the Indian audience are not offended. The mullah (money) rolls in and one can hear the box-office bells ringing which I guess is good.
Also, hope Mukerji did not have any ulterior suggestion/message when he kept on focusing on eggs that would not fry properly. Maybe, the eggs were a metaphorical allusion to Aisha’s ovaries (eggs, dummy) that Sid could not (uhhmmm) maybe reach because of his 'child'ish behavior.
However, the movie does have a couple of cool moments when Mukerji shows Aisha declaring Sid to be a child who needs to grow up. And, then being told by her boss that she herself needs to grow up and catch up on serious music - as apparently Hindi old songs are not serious music in Rahul Khanna’s opinion. That was one flat relationship where the boss is seen as a very smooth character who doesn't develop much. The editor, however, does give the sanction for Aisha's column to be published where she professes her undying love for the boy-man that brings together the two love-birds in the end. - link to the very popular iktara song from the movie.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Divorce and Sorry

It is funny to see the reaction of the people when you annouce to them that your marital status is divorced. A person I met last week went silent for a full one minute and then came up with "I am sorry". Excuse me, I am not dead; I am alive. And, there is nothing for you to be sorry about! Life happens and one goes on.
What was even funnier was previous to this I had to fill out a form to become a member of an organisation where they had asked us to fill Marital Status and Number of Childern columns in addition to the rest of the usual stuff. Since the Marital Status had options only for Single and Married, I selected Single and in Number of Childern, I filled in 1 as I have one daughter. I could literally see the jaw of the person dropping when he went over the form. He went like "Madam, you are single and you have filled in, umm ah ho, children as ...". Then I had to tell him that my status is divorced. Then, he kind of got a relieved look on his face that oh, thank god, she is not a criminal! Otherwise, i might have had to reject her membership!
In India, of course, divorce in small towns is still a stigma and something that is to be whispered about. Hope things change soon!

No Country for Old Men

Saw the movie "No Country for Old Men" last night through a haze of wine and good food. The devil incarnate role of Anton Chigur played by Spanish actor Javier Bardem is one of most chilling ones. According to me, it even surpassed that of Antony Hopkins in "Silence of the lambs". Tommy Lee Jones as the Sheriff brings an authentic feel to his role as usual. This may have also been because he belongs to the West Texas region which forms the backdrop of the movie. Kelly Macdonald despite being Scottish manages to carry the role of the Texan wife to the hilt.
A must see movie for fans of the Coen brothers.

Writers travails

Link to an interesting article on how to become a writer by Lorrie Moore. Very funny and humorous.