Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Good, The Govindachamy , The Kunhalikutty

A few weeks back the people of Kerala woke up to the shocking news of sadistic rape and murder. A girl working in a small time firm was found battered to death and raped on her way back from home. Until the postmortem we weren’t sure which came first- rape or murder. When the picture unfolded it was in such a way that she was alone in a train compartment. The villain attempted to molest her. She jumped out and made a run for it. He gave a chase battered her head and raped her multiple times- while she was semiconscious and dead.

When the culprit was caught, we shook with disgust. Govindachamy was one handed and he had battered the girl with the stump of a hand. Mothers grew concerned of their daughters. Pepper sprays were distributed for free. The TV channels relayed clips and clips of the victim’s wailing mother. Appeals were made to shoot, hang Govindachamy without a trial. And then there were the familiar argument on how the girls should ‘abstain’ from provoking men.

About the same time a scandal broke out on a former minister, Kunhalikutty. His brother-in-law cum ex-confidante alleged Kutty paid huge amounts to judges, policemen and everyone in authority to quash a sexual harassment case against him. The history says that he called up a under-aged call girl. According to the law of the land, it’s considered as rape. The news was a headliner years ago. But the girl dramatically changed her testimony and case was dismissed. You didn’t have to be Albert Einstein to figure out there was a foul game played.

When the controversy came up again, he did play the cards very well again. He rallied some of his party workers and the major part of media and went on claiming that calculated efforts were made to malign his name. His strategy worked well. He confused the people and we were silenced.

I wonder who is the dangerous sexual maniac- the one who has the possibility to get caught or the one who has enough money, power and people to twist the arm of law and minds of people.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I don’t know if you recollect, I started taking guitar classes some 8 months back. I was hoping to strum out a few chords in a few months and turn out as the new Bryan Adams wooing the college girls. I later came to know that the man I took as teacher taught only western classical and he was quite obsessed with it. That was a dreams shattered for me.

I had to take the Trinity college exams every six months. As the exam day approached I was quite nervous. The teacher egged me on, persuading me to practice more. I managed to pass with great difficulty. The examiner didn’t write any hopeful remarks about my future music career in the feedback. I realized music is not fully talent. There is a lot of hard work and dedication that goes along with it. The less talented you are the more you’ll have to practice.

The exam days were very strenuous on me. The reason being you’ll have to compete with little kids whose fingers move faster than you. I hated the decision I took. But I came across an old lady who took enormous effort even in outing together the basic notes. She went on doing it for hours. The teacher spent long time with her. She used to apologize profusely for the trouble they took. I silently laughed at her.

Then one evening the teacher told me her story. She used to be a master pianist who passed many grades of Trinity College. Then she came down with a stroke and lost all the memory. She is now fighting hard to piece together her passion. Her brain cells cannot retain much information.

Fighting one’s destiny when you have the world laughing at you, when you have no chance of success- I don’t know how to describe that.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Censorship in the world of Art?!!

(This is a follow up to this review )

I was talking to Alka Gurha on the issue of celebration of negative traits in today’s cinema. It was around that time I watched this movie. It set me into thinking. Should cinema be a mirror to the society or should it be a guide? We cannot restrict the freedom of an artiste because he might be having noble intentions. But again we are not matured enough to judge the long term impact on a piece of art or the intention of the artiste. We can crucify the artiste or simply say he is painting out the dirty face of society. But only a few will point out the nudity of the king.

A few days back I shared with you how we treat dirty jokes in our cinema. The adult jokes have shifted from B- grade to commercial cinema and they have become a staple diet today. I am not speaking about Hindi alone! Adam Sandler is supposed to be a children’s actor. But he ends with some kind of stupid jokes on Boobs in every film of his.

Sometime back I met Sangeeth Sivan’s daughter over FB. We shared a few mails on discussions about photography. Then I asked a really stupid question, ‘Don’t you think your dad does some real crap work nowadays’. She was either pissed off or suspected I was a creepy journalist. That was the end of our conversation. It’s a fact that we are celebrating bad pieces of art. Again it couldn’t be because our art world is bad. A better reason would be our society has started learning that dirt is normal and the clean stuff is abnormal.

Talking about popular perceptions. I will point out a few examples. MF Hussain is one of the most celebrated artist around the world. I hadn’t seen many paintings of his until a controversy broke up and he was forced to flee India. People said that he painted Hindu Goddesses in tasteless poses. Initially I sided with the liberals. Then I came across the controversial paintings and arguments. The Goddesses are shown in various forms of erotic stance. The question is why only Hindu Goddesses. As argued by the intelligentsia, the common man might be in need of some superior taste buds.

Same was with the case of controversial movie Kamasutra. I had to borrow the CD and see it when no one was at home. I would bet almost half of Indian youth and adults would have seen the movie. Although the movie is about Sex, it’s portrayed in a beautiful way. Watching KS would be safer than all the unrealistic western porn our kids see.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I hate I hate luv stories

Considering the proximity of V-day and my inability to celebrate V-day all the 25 years of my life, I decided to watch a pucca Bollywood love story with a very strange name ‘I hate Luv Story’. Well, there is a history behind my choice. The girl whom I went with for ‘Golmaal3’ promised me it was a ‘chweet’ movie. After seeing the movie I’ll have to redefine the word ‘chweet’ in my vocabulary.

I have very much limited knowledge in Hindi but I hope my grammar is right when I say, ‘Kitna Khattiya film hain yaar’. The movie is supposed to be a funny take on the clichés in romantic concepts of Hindi film. Strangely the movie is over burdened with clichés. Please do not mistake that I am doling out a review. It has become a passion and fashion for us to beat the hell out of badly made movies. I think it’s sadistic than the half hearted attempts from so called directors. There are movies which deserve criticism and the ones which have to be ignored. (To be frank I too love those reviews in Hindustan Times where the writer takes pleasure in doing autopsy on the dead-born child)

The good part of movie is the balanced acting from Imran Khan and Sonam Kapoor. Imran is a wood work wonder. Even a bull dozer about to mow him down cannot extract any ‘acting’ from him. When I pointed out his skills in JTYJN, my friends assured me he will do well. Strangely I have got a chance to see all his movies thereafter- Kidnap, Luck. He is doing a research on’ how badly you can do it’. Speaking on Sonam- she is tall and handsome. She wears the trendiest of clothes. But the bloody smile has started getting onto our nerves. She is said to have done her acting lessons out there in New York. They should have told her it’s not good to grin throughout a movie.

On the other facts on the movie-there is no such thing as a sub-plot. So there are no other characters except for the hero and heroine. The cinematography and editing is one of the most ordinary I have seen. Then there is this humor element, which is a sort of surprise. There were a few good jokes which were badly missed out due to poor timing. Then there was this double entendre. It has become quite fashionable to crack out a dirty joke. It gets assured laugh from family audience and the kids know their parents are enjoying something they will understand when they grow up. Even the scissor friendly censor boards do not bother about the cultural impact of these films.
Okay anyways, I am going to tell you a better love story. The love story which lasts for life time.
We were a batch of students who joined our company fresh out of college. We were given training on software engineering. We were from different parts of India. There was this guy from Punjab and that girl from Delhi. She was already hitched to her college mate. But then it’s quite a popular knowledge that when you rate the girls from various parts of India on their ‘faithfulness’- the ones from Delhi fall into one extreme of table and the Tamils fall into other. The guy, Sagil, was quite bravado. He proposed the girl, Sriti, knowing very well that she was hooked. She rejected it with a heavy heart. Sagil was not the one who easily gave up. He hung on, well of course as a friend. But every once in a while he did remind her of her boyfriend’s relative poverty.

Then all of a sudden the villain ‘recession’ struck. The boyfriend lost his job. Sagil got the opportunity of lifetime. He rammed into her head the hazards of having to put up with a jobless guy. The story goes that Sriti called up the poor boyfriend and told him that she was too ashamed to tell people that her fiancé is jobless. Well of course he had seen it coming and tried his best to get some kind of job. But ‘some kind of job’ wouldn’t fool Sriti.

Recently I came across Sagil’s and Sriti’s engagement photos in FB. They looked well and happy. One hell of a love story from a land of immortal love.
Speaking of sweet naughty jokes, I tried to put smiles on my friends’ face by sending out a joke last Saturday:

Just a reminder that if you want a child in 11/11/11, you know what to do tonight ;)

Well an unmarried female friend of mine was mighty pissed off. She threatened me with dire consequences. Where have all these sense of humor gone?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Relegion + POlitics +Books

One day I heard my dad crying out in horror on reading a book. He pleaded with us to save ourselves from impending Armageddon. I was wondering what the issue was and browsed through the book.

The cover was printed in Red, White and Blue colours. The print was first class and the binding also looked impeccable. It is ‘Can America Survive’ by John Hagee. He claims to be a pastor in one of the innumerable churches in USA.
The writer has drawn his conclusion from the signs around that the world is going to end soon and sadly America is going to be in the centre of it. Strangely he noticed the signs of doom, when Obama ascended the throne. Here are a few of them:

Thanks to Obama’s liberal abortion policies the population of USA is coming down. As a result there is not going to be enough Americans around. The consumption will go down and the economy will auto-destruct.
I, for one, would be happy to see fewer Americans on the planet.

Thanks to the Health Care policies of the Obama government, the medical treatment has become cheaper. As a result queue in front of the hospital has increased. So people standing at the very end of queue die of their terminall diseases Who said the healthcare system in India is the worst.

The American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are going nuts and they are shooting each other with real bullets in their leisure time. Hagee has illustrated an example of a Muslim American soldier who shot his supervisors recently. Hagee asks more Americans to be sent across the seas, inorder to de-stress the poor souls there. How about Pamela Anderson!!

Iran has got bored of developing nuclear bombs. Now they are into plutonic bombs that can destroy the electronic gadgets of USA in a flash. He has got some very secret ‘intelligence’ reports leaked. But he won’t give you any names….hush-hush. I hear USA saying once in a while that they have doubts over the nuclear capability of Iran….now the plutonic bomb?

He has got statistics claiming millions are fleeing New York and California. They cannot stand the high taxes imposed by ‘those socialists’. Imagine the economic centers of USA waking up one morning to see empty haunted apartments with no one to work in offices. How strange, we Indians are desperate to get into New York. While the people there are fleeing, fearing the taxes. It’s a warning guys.

The farms in USA, that used to be green with cabbages and cucumbers lie barren due to the extreme environmentalists who want to grow a jungle and accommodate the lesser beings there. So farmers are dying in USA of extreme poverty. How dare you criticize the Maharashtra government for farmer suicides, when a bigger catastrophe rages in USA! And there no one bothers. Deshmukh will wish he was the CM of USA!

Christians have a secret passion to decipher out the anti-hero that arrives at the end, Anti-Christ. I remember years ago Pope John Paul was labeled Anti-Christ. The conclusion was drawn from the illustration in Bible of ‘animal on seven hills’, which was obviously Rome. Then it was turn of Saddam Hussein. Photos went around with a 666 labeled on his head. Then came the turn of Bill gates. It was rumored that he could hang every computer in the world with a secret code word. After many permutations-combinations the mantle has fallen on Obama. Some says he invoke the name of Allah in secret.
A few years ago books were the monopoly of the intellectuals. Now the fundamentalists have stormed their bastion. They are capable to make a lot of noise attracting the attention of socially unconscious common man. Even in the above mentioned book, the writer has vaguely named some sources at a few instances or there is no source at all. But how many readers will question the authenticity. These people know fear is the key to any man’s heart.
Religion and Politics is a dangerous combination. When book gets added to it, it turns even more potent. I am not saying they shouldn’t be read. But read it to culture your ability to differentiate.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Advanced warnings!!

The lovers’ day is around the corner. For years I have been waiting for any damsel to profess her love for me. The wait has been happening on every 14th in the month of February. The only result has been disappointment. But every year I wake up with renewed vigour, knowing very well that it’s going to be the same result again.

A friend of mine married his college sweet-heart. They had known each other for some time. Overcoming the family opposition and religious differences, they got married to each other. I looked on with envy on seeing the ‘made for each other’ couple. I was sure all the lovey dovey is going to last for a life time.

A few days ago, she called me up to say they had a fight. It was over something a single guy like me would consider trivial- he started growing his hair. The common complaint for the duo was that the other one didn’t bother to understand him/her. I was dumbfounded. Even after all these years no ‘understanding’!

Well guys, if you think marrying someone you love/know will make your life romantic/easy to live, forget it. ‘Knowing’ each other starts only when you share a room, when you are closeted with in four walls. As OtienoHongo says, if you want to stay lovey dovey stay away from marriage.
So advanced V-day wishes for you and don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.


Off the topic- I picked up ‘Hiss’ and watched it last day. To be frank, I wasn’t expecting a world class movie, but at least a decent erotica. I was told the director was Hollywood. Then Mallika went around the world campaigning in very tiny clothes. What was churned out was a nightmare better forgotten.

Except for Irfan, the quality is nothing more than a B-Grade Indian flick. I don’t get why there is so much blood, and that too in shades of Orange at times. When the snake Goddess feels hungry, she has to eat people. So she opens her ear to listen out for the rapist and wife beaters. She swallows them in, after spitting out the extra fittings like shoes, clothes and mobile. She then goes to wild to digest the man and then again comes back to human habitation stark naked. The special effects which were claimed to be world class was forgetful.

The only two good things were Mallika walking around showing her buck naked butts. Yes guys, you heard it right. But don’t hope for much of a frontal view. She slithering up a lamp post is a stand out. Then there is Divya Dutta with her huge cleavage as usual.
I am planning to sue someone from Hiss for misleading.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Movie of the week -Traffic (Malayalam)

Malayalam cinema’s graph varied from golden peak to darker troughs. The highs and lows happened from era to era. Despite being overwhelmed by cash rich and well marketed neighbors, namely Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, Malayalam had been able to carve a niche for itself and found it rubbing shoulder to shoulder with international cinema. The reason could very well be the richly talented artistes we had been able to produce all these years. Recently, I read a blogger raging in PFC on not considering ’Dor’ as an official Oscar entry. Sadly he forgot the fact that the original work was done in Malayalam.

The overwhelming of a talented generation can cause stagnation at the highest level after a time. Malayalam Cinema had been exactly suffering from that syndrome for some years. Then the entrance of a bunch of specialized and talented technicians set about a change. They had little experience of life but had attractive degrees in some of the best Movie schools. Soon people too yearned for a change and a new set of handsome, youthful actors came in. A variety of themes were brought on screen. They might not have been necessarily an original idea. But people had become desperate enough to accept a change on the screen.

‘Traffic’ is a trend-setter in many aspects. It was released with no publicity or marketing. The opening week was lean, but then it picked itself by word-mouth and went on to become a hit movie. There is only a single song in the movie; the protagonists are young, handsome and very affluent.

The performance from the cast was worth mentioning. There was no exhibition of exaggerated emotions or lectures or advice. A few even went on to do a very restrained acting, which is very unusual in Indian scenario. In spite of a flood of young faces, the older ones like Rahman and Sai held their own forte.

‘Traffic’ is a movie which went on to the ‘people’s favorite’ list, thanks to the slick editing and fast paced script. Tight editing can be tricky at times. The reason being, in modern commercial cinema editing and screenplay are separated by a thin line; it would be difficult to differentiate between the two. The first half concluded in all the glory. But in the second, absence of a tight script showed through, as the scenes became predictable and pace slightly dragged. If not for the first half the entire movie would have fallen apart.

Rajesh Pillai has to be appreciated for committing himself to a suicidal project and doing it very well. The movie might not be a change but then the change is not far away too.

I happened to get a chance to talk to a member of the cast. The film was not destined to see the light of the day, as distributors ended up in financial mess just before the release. So then the last releasing was finalized only in the last minute, hence publicity factor didn’t work out. The absence of publicity worked for the good of the film. ‘Expectation’ can be a dangerous factor in the success of a film.
The work was started 2.5 years ago. Imagine a director nursing a dream for years not knowing if it will see the light of the day. Anyway all is well that ends well.