Tuesday, August 29, 2006

a cauliflower is not a flower

Hrishikesh Mukherjee. I don't feel able to pay tribute in any coherent way, so let me just say, All that glitters is not gold! Gobi ka phool, phool hokar bhi nahin hota hain.

How silly and glorious.

I had a hideously unproductive long weekend reading random things and suffering Internet withdrawal to the max. The good bit was getting out and stumbling on a gorgeous book sale behind the British Library where I found - and snapped up - two Armistead Maupins, an obscurish Vonnegut and an excellent copy of The Bloody Chamber, all about 50 rupees a piece.

It grieves me to conclude this blog at this juncture, but conclude it I must, unless you want to hear about strangers on Orkut who, having ingested crack cake, write to me saying that they are a. lonely. b. new to this "jambocake city" (thank goodness I'm in Hyderabad, if that's the case) c. "strong enough to be gentle" and d. interested in the friend ship. There is a special place in the solar system for declarations like these. They all travel, as soon as generated, in a hyperspace ring from the massive light-eating globular entity that scientists have named Moron.

Incidentally, Times Now and CNN-IBN come down from Moron with special permits to vacation on Earth, bringing with them their special brand of cultural Moronism, expressed best in their mistakenly confident mottoes. "Feel The News"? Maybe after Stephen Colbert has ripped you apart. ("Anyone can read the news to you—I promise to feel the news at you.") And "Anything It Takes." Of course, the chaps who gave a suicidal man diesel and matches the other day to get a news story would agree. They're visiting aliens from your neighbouring star system, Cretin.

Friday, August 25, 2006

meme girls.


Also, I have been blogging with disturbing regularity over the last couple of days.

1… Things that scare me

2…People who make me laugh
Stephen Colbert, who also induces feelings of adoration.

3…Things I hate the most
Snakes, because we hate what we fear,
Movies about snakes, and
Tidy hairstyles.

4…Things I don’t understand
...Nope, can't think of anything. Oh, wait. How do people imagine that women should not be allowed into Sabarimala* because they would weaken and die on the trek? How do people enjoy Scrabble? How is it that I came out of KANK alive? How is the universe?

5…Things I’m doing right now
Wondering what I will order for Friday night Cheap Chinese Special dinner.
Making plans to get as thin as Fleur Xavier, so that people will feel sorry for me and love me, and feed me Chinese Specials every day.
Getting around to recharging Willa the iPod.
Not particularly enjoying P G Wodehouse.
Grooving to Amr Diab's Greatest Hits. (how much do I love this man, in spite of the fact that he's about forty-five and makes like he's an eighteen-year-old Ricky Martin? Ah, Meditteranean-Arabic pop. It's as divine as pita bread and hummus.)

6…Things I want to do before I die
Eat cake.
Not die.
Run one marathon a year for at least a decade.
Make Calcio Ho Naa Ho.
Proclaim "I am no man!" and save everyone's lives, preferably including own (see 'not dying'), in the nick of time.
Cultivate an appropriate, adult sense of compassionate gravitas, like Elrond lord of Rivendell, although without bullying daughter into untouchable virgin state for centuries.

7… Things I can do
That flapping-diapraghm exercise propagated by Ramdev Baba.
Make tea.
Poke fun. (A little boy with jabbing fingers, in Malayalam? Pokemon.)
Eat very large paani puris.
Pretend to speak an astonishingly large number of languages.
Spend more than I earn in bookstores across the world.
Symptomatic readings.

8… Ways to describe my personality
... Very endearing?

9… Things I can’t do
Ohoho, not the half of it.

10…Things I think you should listen to
Beth Orton.
Pandit Jasraj singing "Govind Damodar," preferably live.
The great satirical voices of your time.
My mother.
The crazy looped bit at the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever." Creepier than hell.
Sacred harp.
The traffic at the VT intersection.
Yo-yo Ma on "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon." The cello and Tan Dun, wah.
This particular version of the possibly fascist Italian classic "Azzurro."
Suresh Gopi spewing English cuss-words in any given Malayalam film.

11…Things you should never listen to
Imaginary beings on your shoulders.
Rajesh Khanna songs, when simultaneously watching their videos.
Bruce Springsteen plugged in to electricity.
People who tell you your call is important to you.
People who tell you that you look good in peach.
Pink Floyd. I'm kidding. But seriously, grow up. *surreptitiously hides all fourteen albums in possession*
50 Cent.
NDTV's "The Big Fight."
Your workmate's music.
Rajnikanth when he tells you that he's just another ordinary guy.
People combing their hair. Ick.

12…People I’m tagging (to do this meme)

You, you, you and you. And all the rest of you.

* thank you Vivek. How much stupidity, by Ayyappa? What about all the small girls and post-menopausal grandmothers who seem to survive the trek every year? Is it really THAT MUCH EASIER to swallow bullshit than to see some sense?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

me eefa too

Eee, UEFA draw tonight. Not particularly disappointed by Juventus not being around, because apparently even Gigi Buffon isn't, but I do feel bad about Fiorentina, and Luca Toni not getting the chance to show off his awesome striker skillz and funny hand-waving goal celebration to all and sundry.

(eta, 18 hrs later: Draw results are in. Milan and Madrid should be dominating their respective groups; Inter has Bayern Munich in with them; Arsenal's got Porto, CSKA Moscow and Hamburg, none of whom I have EVER seen playing. The big story is, of course, that Chelsea and Barca are together in the same group. *snicker*)

Here's hoping Milan capitalise on the fact that their playmaker won them the World Cup pretty much on the strength of his awesome hair. Is it too much to hope that if they end up meeting Chelsea at a future date Shevchenko will forget that he ever stopped playing for them? "Sheva, that's OUR GOAL." "I know, Frankie, that's - oh. Right."

On a COMPLETELY UNRELATED note, I feel a craving for pasta. This is not entirely out of the blue, since I crave pasta almost as much as I do my *brings out world's smallest violin* mum's avial and bhindi curry on a regular basis. I would very much like some pasta, a little loud music and people to dance about a third of the night away with. My week hasn't yet recovered from the KANK in its eye.

"Crap, they want to bring my team's hotness quotient down. Must convince management that the Ronaldo they want is the cute young one from Man U."

Incidentally, a good two-thirds of all the Google image search results for 'Ronaldo' now show up pictures of Cwistiano.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

i demand a divorce

Because the universe owes me one. A small unobtrusive one will do. Please not a big fat sparkly one that imagines it's bringing back into fashion things that went out of fashion in the first place not because of the cyclical nature of socio-cultural trends but because the human race as a whole decided that they were WRONG. EVIL. BAD. BABY-KILLERS. Like pastel-coloured translucent saris encrusted with fake diamonds. Tight perms. Embroidered jackets. American soccer.

Then again, I hear it is very easy to get divorces in Manhattan. Perhaps the universe and I should meet there in colour-coordinated jackets and high heels. We've tried, the 'verse and I, to do everything: farce, anti-romance, the ol' lusars-in-love thing, making out in the rain, seeing other, cooler, better-adjusted people. Unfortunately we have managed to make every single one of these endlessly exciting tropes fall flat on their faces.

Seriously, have you people seen all the emo glossy-eyelidded tears coming out of that KANK-thing? I know how it feels. I watched it last night. Nnggh. No horrified fascination, no healthy self-congratulatory disgust at the ostentation of it all, no confident dismissal of it's removal from reality per the usual reactions evoked by K-Jo fare. The indescribable sound of nnggh is the only reaction I feel capable of. I would claw my face, but watching that film sapped me of the energy required for a properly dramatic reaction. You always hear about these films that people say sap their will to live, but you never actually think you're going to come across one, until one day. Nnggh.

As for the infidelity, modern marriage, bold step forward blah-di-blah, I'm not getting started. It's not new to Bollywood. It's not even new to the candyfloss Cho-Jo genre of moviemaking. It's like a logical extension of the howling emptiness of pre-pubescent NSync-loving angst. And it's just as annoying. (Not that I should be complaining about pre-pubescence, since I live there a lot of the time, but, hello, no NRIs were harmed in the making of this blog. Not unintentionally.)

And to think it could have been so much more by just not existing.

"Freezing my kit off in the New York rain shedding emo tears in ugly clothes can't be worse than watching this film...oh, wait."

Friday, August 18, 2006

row it , sisters!

Check out the awesome multinational women's boat-race team for the Nehru Boat Race trophy in Kerala this year. Sometimes I enjoy being a Malayali. It may not guarantee me appearances in all the best Bollywood films, my love of fried fish will mean I am unsuccessful, perhaps permanently, in the 'total vegetarianism' thing, and communism is practically a genetic compulsion (although my antecedents are oppressive and landowning all the way, and if you ever meet my grandmother she will move you to tears with her stories about the earth burning the feet and tears of blood running down the faces of my family as they were cheated of their birthrights by that bastard EMS Namboodiripad). But BOAT RACES. How frickin' cool can you get, man? (Thanks for the link, Uma.)

Hi! It's Friday evening and I'm so dizzy at the prospect of a weekend of vegging out it's like being in love. I'm in love with my own capacity to procrastinate. Like, help.

current musix: laakad - rekha bhardwaj.

ah, i've been listening to this 'omkara' soundtrack on repeat all week.

Monday, August 14, 2006

and what think you, coz, of love?

You have to walk down five floors of mall to exit the PVR in Hyderabad. Imagine how creeped out we were to leave the late show of Omkara last night to find the stairs spattered with blood. Yes, real blood, starting from a broken window in an exit door and dripping all the way down to the parking lot. I do not think it was performance promotion.

Omkara. I enjoyed it. Actually, I loved it, because the flaws didn't distract me as they unspooled alongside the long, meandering playing out of the story. I was very enthusiastic about the film after having seen and loved Maqbool, and it didn't disappoint me in the least. I don't know if Vishal Bhardwaj does the same thing for everyone else, but he certainly ensorcells me into living and breathing the world of his films. I'm amazed at how intelligently he creates tension between realistic 'scapes and the poetry of Shakespearean situations. Can't wait to see which play he'll pick to complete his trilogy (I hope it's Lear, unless he does some crack comic stuff like As You Like It.) Loved the music - although I was a little less thrilled when Saucy Item Number #2 came on - the, heh, conversation pieces, the camerawork: just the life and vibrancy of it all. I've heard quite a few opinions on the subject of implanting the noble heroes of Shakespearean canon into lives of crime and war, and I have to say it doesn't bother me as much as it seems to bother the A C Bradley fans. Shakespeare himself wrote of alien worlds, and I don't know if setting a film in the Mumbai underworld implies a lack of honour any more than setting a play in bloodied, cruel eleventh-century Scotland does. The codes are different, but no less strict. At any rate, evaluating Shakespeare on the basis of morality is only somewhat less criminal than looking for conventional decency in Homer. High on the pointlessness scale.

What particularly shook me about Omkara were the actual truths of Shakespeare that Bhardwaj touched upon, the suspicion of foreignness and femininity that runs poisonously through Othello. Kareena Kapoor spoiled it a bit for me, since she really can't do sensitive no matter how hard she thinks she can, but her mere physical presence - her whiteness, her simpering-girl bits, her cluelessness - were almost too painful to look at. I'm not fond of the reading of Othello as a love story and I'm glad Bhardwaj didn't spend too much time on the romance, lovely as the Saathi Re sequence was. There's too much to lose from believing in the cruel undeserved fate of O&D. I'm glad it came out as a narrative so focused on other "man" stuff, like sex and politics, because that's what Othello is primarily about for me; shame and dishonour. I love Othello's "loved not wisely but too well" speech, but it really doesn't make him a lover, just a super-guilty dupe.

Konkona Sen-Sharma was marvellous. Beautiful and brilliant, the sort of Emilia you wish wasn't playing second fiddle to the leads. Mouthy, amoral, sexual and smart: I could have spent the whole film watching her. I hate that her best lines were a little mouth-meet-words - because which sensible girl lectures your gangland overlord about treating women right when he looks like he could snap your back in a cinch? - but I'm not unhappy that she said them. In a film that trips on language and loquacity, of dialogue and verbal assault and almost-solilioquy and song-narratives, it was great frilling. There is a lot of saying in this film. It's "textually productive" enough to satisfy anybody.

Ditto Saif Ali Khan. I kept watching Ajay Devgan through the film and thinking about all the other times he's played the dark and silent bitchmaker, but I didn't look at Saif once and think, "There's the Salaam Namaste dude." Which is awesome. The effort really paid off; he's so believable and compelling in the Iago role, Shakespeare might have squirmed. He might have squirmed in a lot of places. There's no ketchup in the deaths in this film. The violence isn't gratuitous, but it's a presence and a character as much as the rural UP setting is.

Kaushik is in town! We went to the Charminar and the museum yesterday. He stood humbled and awed by the pseudness of Banjara Hills. Oh, and we watched Chelsea v/s Liverpool, which was a perfect match. Liverpool won but Viktor Krum scored.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

even caesar would watch this

Uma links to this news item on Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, which for those living under a rock or unexposed to Bollywood - but I repeat myself - is the years most eagerly-awaited film among non-resident Indians and lovers of big-budget Hindi "family drama". A new generation of Indians, born post-Independence, tempered by the loud, bad action films of the early nineties, disciplined by a hard and bitter diet of craptastication. I include myself in this generation, naturally. I usually hate on K-Jo (Uma's inspired nomenclature) films with vim - although this was not always the case, I loved him when I was fourteen, before I grew up and found out that girls have to lose at basketball before they can attract men, not but that I distance myself from basketball as a rule because, you know, soft-bellied lily of the valley - and vigour, all the more so because they have the raw material of decent cinema. Everything except the brains.

Anyway, so apparently this film is about infidelity? And honest relationships? And everyone has short names of not more than two syllables? What really caught my attention was the following line, though:
Dev (Shah Rukh) is a professional footballer...

At which my brain snagged and short-circuited because what else could Isheeta and I talk about?

Roswitha: imagine the italian football team in a yash chopra film.
Isheeta: this is too much fun, you know canna's totez item girl material. he'd steal the show.

Even the gist of the conversation is too mind-bogglingly silly (although I will recount that Isheeta mentioned sleeveless silk mini-kurtas and dupattas in conjunction with the mind-boggling pun, FabioIndia) to reproduce here, although I realise that in most circles I no longer have a reputation for sensibility to keep up anymore. But for the interested reader I will record that there were chiffons galore in our version of the K-Jo/Azzurri blockbuster, Calcio Ho Naa Ho*, and there were buff men putting along the streets of Rome on Vespas with their dupattas flying into other people's faces.

* son of Calcio Calcio Hota Hai and Kabhi Calcio Kabhie Gham.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

that book is so good on you.

The Guardian has this utterly charming, self-involved blog on the attractiveness of book-readers. What a worthless goldfish I am, I immediately jumped at it because it combined things I enjoy: public transport, books and attractive people. The comments contain such gems as 'I met my girlfriend when I was reading Murakami in a nightclub,' and 'I'd like a girl who reads Kafka, Beckett or Dostoevsky, but when is that ever going to happen?'. I think the first man is actually single, unless he was in a nightclub that has a reading room, and the second one is likely to stay single until he meets a girl who likes getting beaten with a mop while tied to a bed with her apron strings.

I don't see how meeting someone who reads the same books as you do is equal to true love. I might meet a man reading Jeanette Winterson on a train but unless he thinks Written on the Body was crap we'd end up going nowhere, wouldn't we? And if he were reading The Da Vinci Code he might really be an intellectually and socially curious man who hates the book but needed to know what the fuss was about? It would be wrong of me to dismiss his enjoyment of T S Eliot if it was only a mild aberration, and his real love someone completely different, like Nikki Giovanni.

I should like to see people on the train reading geeky comics, and laughing at pulpy biographies of Jackie O and Elizabeth Taylor. I should like to see someone unable to suppress a goofy, excited grin as they read the last bit of Persuasion. I should like to see someone close their eyes as they turned a page of Yehuda Amichai. I should like to see someone holding open John Donne and silently mouthing along the words of 'Batter my heart, three person'd God.'

I should like to see someone up and throw The Catcher in the Rye into Mahim Creek. I should like to see someone read Christina Rossetti in a pose of pre-Raphaelite meditativeness, or Catullus, biting kuckles and crossing legs. Raymond Chandler with beady eyes, perhaps, or the latter half of Cuckold with the shadowed face and the hooded eyes of one who stayed up the night before, incapable of putting it down. I'd like to see someone reading those old illustrated imported-from-Russia books like Northern Lights with cheeks sucked in, reminded of the children they used to be, or a child reading Dickens, or a teenager reading Pablo Neruda to the boy or girl in the next compartment.

I'd like to see someone in a Jim Morrison tee-shirt reading Anna Akhmatova. I'd like to see someone reading Pu La Deshpande or KM Munshi in the original. I'd like to see someone's face go slack with grief as they read Regeneration. I'd like to see busy women reading Simone deBeauvoir and Wendy Cope and weep with laughter as they read Psmith or Blandings stories. I'd like to see someone cry at the end of a book.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

hitchens to mel-g: cleaners, now.

There are times when I can't stand Christopher Hitchens, but he's so very readable when he takes up cudgels with the aid of spitting sarcasm and righteous rage.

On Mel Gibson's latest show of crazy.

He is given to furious tirades against homosexuals of the sort that make one wonder if he has some kind of subliminal or "unaddressed" problem. His vulgar and nasty movies, which also feature this prejudice, are additionally replete with the cheapest caricatures of the English. Braveheart and The Patriot are two of the most laughable historical films ever made. He has told interviewers that his wife, the mother of his children, is going to hell because she subscribes to the wrong Christian sect. And it has been obvious for some time to the most meager intelligence that he is sick to his empty core with Jew-hatred.

Not quite internally consistent there himself with the disavowal of homophobia, if you ask me - "unaddressed" problem? More like unaddressed "problem," Kitchens - but forgivable, considering how much irony is slathered over the article. And I love that he brought up this thing as a primary accusation: Mel Gibson makes really, really bad films.

MEL GIBSON. What a - what a. What a what? Identifying him as one of any parts of the male genitalia would be too kind, and I suspect he would consider it a compliment.

Alas, Kitchens. If only mocking the stupid ever made a difference in the real world.

(P.S. I don't enjoy South Park a whole lot, but I did watch 'The Passion of the Jew' and thought it was wonderfully unforgiving.)