Oct 31, 2003

Starting trouble

Reading postcards sent by relatives that start in the traditional way: writing "Safe" or with the symbol we call "PuLLayaru Chuzhi" (or is it "PiLLayaru Chuzhi" ?) i.e. the Tamil equivalent of something like "Om" or some such substitute that many people use before writing anything - be it letters or exam answer sheets, I realize I haven't done that in a long while. Perhaps the last time I did that was in one of my exams in college which was a little bit of a luck-seeking strategy after I thought some of the previous exams were stinkers of a higher degree - the eagle-eyed supervisor spotted it and didn't understand the squiggle. I told him it was like an Om which he seemed to understand, but still seemed to walk away with a view to keeping one eye on me lest I was trying to pull a fast one on him and mark my paper in some strange way to aid some kind of exam-scam.

The cultural romantic would say this is another hit of the email age, another small piece of tradition being lost - perhaps to placate him, we can have a small set of images to choose the headings from when we send our emails.

Oct 29, 2003

Updated connecto-why man?-ia

Samrat sir wins the Full marks to you and JK tyres award by correctly deducing that the connection between Fawlty Towers and KKSBKBT is Basil and Tulsi - both comedies of different kinds. Kindly courier your stones in.

Gaurav: yes, who else do you expect to plagiarise these kinds of questions :-)
Anti : the Dravid-Superman connect had a temporal significance, it was during the time when Dravid was playing county cricket for Kent - the connection being exactly that: Clark Kent and ... And before you unsheath the knife, let me quickly mention that the afore-mentioned Gaurav Sabnis had the honour of making that one up.

Don't even ask what the Cage-Kaku connection was all about.

Incredibly awful connection that just sprang to mind: Connect Fawlty Towers and Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thii (would've loved to ask this in a Boat Club quiz and then built my own rock castle from the resulting hailstorm - this is a new low, quite in the league of other BC lows like the infamous connect-Rahul-Dravid-and-Superman or the Kaku-Nicholas-Cage effort).

Why me?

"Why is this happening to me? Oh God, why do you test the devotion of your most fervent bhakt in this way? Why do I have the worst possible ill-luck?"

Do not mistake these laments and moans to be heartfelt philosophical mutterings of people trapped in GhOr Kaliyug - rather, these are the routine utterings of the righteous in our many television serials. I have never known any group of people who have to cope with more awful luck in all turns of life. They never have a moment of peace - whatever tranquility appears in their lives is usually that which filters through the eye of the cyclone. Surrounded by evil-doers, pursued by misfortune, bathed by glycerine - this is the plight of all the pure-hearted in TV-land.

We real life people (not wishing to tempt fate here) do have our bouts of difficulties - but we do enjoy the occasional cheer here and there. But not if you are Radha or Krishna Murari Verma - your names themselves invite trouble from the deviously named Chandika who hates your guts, your Rs. 20,000 silk sari and yor husband that should have been her's or the megalomaniac Ajay Pratap Rathore whose entire business empire is devoted to one purpose - your slow-paced annihilation. Don't think you can escape by taking on a middle-class kirdaar: your kids will see to it that your punya-ka-ghaDa is always being credited to as you forgive and forget all the nasty deeds they do.

So is there no escape from this vicious cycle of sorrow and righteousness? Such puNyaatmaas would do well to recall the story of the philosopher and the dying king who asked the wise man to sum up the story of human existence in three sentences. The sage replied: "Man was born. He suffered. He died". TV makers have embraced whole-and-soul this primeval concept, just making a minor adjustment: "Man and woman were born. They suffered. The TRPs ended".

The next time I hear someone lament: "Why me, why should I of all people suffer three business losses, two injuries to my tailbone and one misplaced silver necklace", I wish I could loudly say: "Because you're in a TV serial, dummy".

Everyone accuses Karan Johar of big budget extravaganzas where money is spent with no regard for the financial crises that are actually crippling Bollywood. But the guy has sense - by creating a template with reusable components (and this is something which everyone seems to have missed), he is actually achieving the same results at lesser cost.

Case in point is the picturisation of the song Aaja Mahive from Johar's latest production Kal Ho Na Ho: a quick development cycle was achieved by reusing the clothes from previous (what I have now started calling) makhna-fest Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, reusing the essence of the dance steps, reusing the aunties and grandmoms and reusing Shah Rukh Khan, the last three with the incomparable advantage of being able to remember what Johar wants of them in a Punjabbee song. Add the now-routine soni kudiis and jind-mahives and tussi-jassi-lassi lyrics, and boom! yuwer saang is ready saar.

Movie Thoughts of late

Saathiya: The Tamil original Alaipayuthey has often been likened to "old wine in new bottle", and an interesting new bottle at that. That's where Saathiya doesn't score for me: it exposes the limitations of the story when not backed up with strong performances and a consistent rendering of the script. Yes,I was probably never going to praise the Hindi remake and perhaps familiarity does breed contempt, but I was really quite bored in the middle of the film. I thought the songs didn't come out so well in Hindi (as recorded here), so I was probably biased against it anyway. I found the film very uneven in all departments. But shouldn't Shaad Ali be allowed to make mistakes in his very first film?
(On the Tamil version and why I now know what my colleague was complaining about in Saathiya)

Schindler's List: Couple of thoughts still buzz around: how incredibly complex it must have been to make a film like that (just thinking of all that continuity boggles the mind) and I also wondered why it didn't get any major acting awards. Checked out the Oscars for 1993: Tom Hanks in Philadelphia was richly deserved of course, but not sure if Tommy Lee Jones (in The Fugitive) should've got the nod over Ralph Fiennes or even Ben Kingsley.

Cast Away: Talking of Hanks and Philadelphia brings to mind the amazing physical transformation he achieved in that film, something that is reprised in Cast Away. Quite a one-man show, this one. Not many would have the guts to make a mainstream film like this one.

Octopussy: is by the far the worst Bond film I have seen so far - no memorable stunts (auto-rickshaws ploughing through fruit-seller's cart appears even in every other desi phillim), nothing especiale in the looks dept., Kabir Bedi shouting Piichhaa Karo! isn't my idea of a Bond henchman and nor is a Vijay-Amritraj-replete-with-Binaca-teeth my idea of local Indian acting talent. Miaaow this at your own peril.

One of the aspects that is used to measure or debate the greatness of a sportsperson is often versatility - how he/she was able to perform under different playing conditions and what success was earned in these diverse situations; not just the player's favourite hunting grounds but on unfavoured ones too.

Two of the greatest sportsmen in the history of sport who have won great acclaim and are considered the best (one unarguably, the other definitely the greatest modern player) in their respective sports, but haven't still been able to shake off or disprove criticism. That Sir Donald Bradman was considered very susceptible and not so highly rated on wet pitches was a revelation from the Picador Book of Cricket anthology that I'm reading now. Pete Sampras's inability to win the French Open is a well-documented gap in his resumé. Both were undoubtedly one of the greatest men to play their respective sports.

So while measuring greatness, one has also got to take into account what heights they scaled in what would be considered their strongholds and to what extent they progressed against the odds in the ones they didn't fancy.

Tehzeeb Impressions - Part II

I knew this was going to happen. After my initial impressions, I now have started to like Khoyee Khoyee Ankhein and I Wanna Be Free, especially the opening riffs with the electronic voice. Which is what Harish was saying recently.

So why do we like songs on repeated hearings especially A.R.Rahman stuff? I think it is because of two reasons: one, some of these they-grow-on-me songs are really slow to grip, probably are a little unconventional at first but then strike a chord that people like me lacking in the music vocabulary cannot express in words. Another reason (especially these days) is that we're probably prepared to keep listening to Rahman songs even if they don't appeal at first. His track record and especially the "it-will-ultimately-grow-on-you" reputation stops one from chucking the album away on first hearing unlike other less known composers. Plus the right kind of hearing environment is necessary - I think one needs to take in modern songs with more-than-decent quality song files and good headphones.

Akshay has an old and pet theory which holds that any song good or bad can appeal to one's ears if you listen to it long enough. I don't quite agree, but I know what he's talking about. It applies not only to songs - think of all the irritating ads or downright ugly visuals one keeps going back to just to experience the tingle of annoyance; we must have some instincts towards masochism. But let me put on my fan's cap and say Tehzeeb is not so bad :-)

Oct 22, 2003

I'm not sure I get it. Private TV Channels make money from advertising, and those which are paid, get additional revenue from subscribers. But can these paid channels push the amount of ad breaks to such an extent that they're a positive nuisance? The subscriber who pays hates it. The advertiser will eventually suffer the consequences of over-exposure. A case in point is Zee Cinema which is actually Zee C-ad-i-ad-n-ad-e-ad-m-ad-a. It takes them about 4-5 hours to telecast a single Hindi film (average length of about 2.5 hours). Incredibly awful. The movies suffer as do we. Damn the channel.
Taking things in your own hands

Imagine you're a h00ker and you've been dumped to the Sin Bin. Don't worry - it'll probably only be for 10 minutes if you're lucky, and yes, you did get a punch in too.

Welcome to the world of International Rugby - and to terms like flyhalf, scrummage and Blood Bin. Part of the fun in following a different sport is in the new language that comes with the package. And what better time to follow this game then during the 5th Rugby World Cup being held in Australia.

Judging from the teams taking part in this year's Cup (a 20 nation event), Rugby is more global than Cricket - there are even teams from the US, Georgia and Romania, in addition to the ones from the traditional superzones of the British Isles, Oceania and from the south of Africa. It is also probably the only world event that Fiji, Tonga and Samoa can compete in! Also, unlike the last Cricket World Cup, there are atleast 3-4 genuine contenders along with another 5-6 teams that make life tough for the big guys, which mean that there are a greater number of close encounters. The first really huge game saw South Africa lose to England (with Jonny Wilkinson proving to be the difference again), which probably sets up another tasty prospect - South Africa v New Zealand.

Trivia-mongers: remember Rudi Van Vuuren of Namibia? Well, he's close to becoming the only man to play in both the Cricket and Rugby World Cups. This article talks of his chances of playing in, very appropriately, the Adelaide Oval.

The TV coverage is fantastic, I always love the fact that Rugby Test Matches have the referees with a mike on them so that everyone knows what they're saying to the players, the Australian grounds are lush as always. Also, the frequent flare-ups and punch-ups add to the interest (these are big men, so they know the score when it comes to throwing a few). And best of all, anyone can appreciate when someone takes off on the right wing, dodges three defenders and flings himself on the ground to score a match-winning try. Or when the kicker suddenly drops the ball in mid-run to launch a drop-kick high over the goal - sometime's there's grace evident in the movements of the barrel-chested.

Harking back to a thought expressed under the name I've started so I'll finish, if I was Tom Hanks, wouldn't it be interesting to sign off with :

... and because I'm doing Terminal with Steven (Steven who, you ask? Spielberg, that's who), I don't think I can do your movie right now. Sorry 'bout that. Do you mind considering Colin? He looks like me.

T Hanks

And I still wonder why Hanks won't read my posts.

Oct 18, 2003

One of those funny articles: This time it's Bizarre but supposedly true ways of damaging your data.
Axay Blog

My classmates seem to love the idea of blogging - Going public at number six is Akshay. He's had so many problems with Blogger and RediffBlogs, and has lost a lot of his favourite name-strings in the wasteland of registered but inaccessible blogs that it is a wonder that he is still got a page standing. It's not quite bouncyperth.rediffblogs.com, but close enough. On the sidebar too.

This blog has a RSS feed now

Been wanting to try this out for a while - I added this blog's very own RSS feed from the free service provided by BlogMatrix. The link to the RSS feed for this blog is http://feeds.blogmatrix.com/feeds/0845/084534.feed.rss (link is also available from the sidebar)

I don't need the feed myself :-), but if any of you using aggregators may want to add this to your list of feeds. This feed only publishes a one-line summary of the post (because it is a free version) - but it will tell you when new content is added. If a lot of you use feed-readers, then the hits to this page will go down because one wouldn't need to keep checking for changes, but I'm not perturbed by that :-). Since YACCS gives me an RSS feed for my comments, things are looking fine.

Update: Seems like the publishing to the rss file takes some time.

Oct 16, 2003

Tehzeeb impressions

Have been listening to Tehzeeb since yesterday, and it is a curious collection of songs. On one hand you have the "funky" kinda-pop songs (supposedly director Khalid Mohamed pushed for them) and on the other, the ghazals for the character of the singer played by Shabana Azmi. Overall, I wouldn't say it is going to set the charts alive, and the Rahman loyals would probably be the ones to patiently sift through the tunes to pick the interesting pieces.

Meherbaan sung by Asha Bhosle and with backing from Sukhwinder Singh is the obvious star - I liked this on my first hearing, and I don't think I'd get tired of listening to it, atleast for the next many repetitions. Another addition to the Asha Bhosle - Rahman - Urmila collection. I didn't really like the sound clips from the promos, but they didn't do any justice to the song - hear it completely first. As for the others, I didn't quite dig I Wanna Be Free on my only hearing, and have a little trouble believing that Khoyee Khoyee Aankhein isn't something that creeped into the album by mistake. The three ghazals ( Mujhpe Toofan Uthaye, Na Shiqwa Hota and Sabaq Aisa ) aren't supposed to be catchy, so that won't help the album's popularity. I liked Mujhpe Toofan Uthaye and Na Shiqwa Hota including the interlude that played in the first set of trailers. Sujata Bhattacharya has sung all three (I wonder if she is Sujata Trivedi married to Surjo Bhattacharya - both have sung on the tracks of Thakshak).

Talking about the ghazals, I have heard that ghazals have a very strict set of rules about the meter, repetition of phrases etc (from what I can recollect when Niranjan gave me a small introduction a while ago). I didn't take to these ghazals on the first listening - could blame it on my lack of knowledge and difficulty in appreciating them. What I am interested in knowing is whether these "ghazals" obey all those rules, and if they would be considered any good by ghazal enthusiasts. It's a little difficult, I guess, for any composer to come along and create ghazals, so I wonder if what Rahman has offered stands up to these stricter tests. Still, he is lucky to get these opportunities to even explore all these genres (Rabindra Sangeet in Shyam Benegal's film on Subhash Bose is probably the next to be awaited for these explorations).

Oct 15, 2003

Being nice and the art of the pain in your gluteus maximus

Somedays, you don't want to be nice. You want to tell me to get the hell out and bury my head in a pile of garbage, preferrably garnished with sharp, jagged glass. You don't want to be polite to me, even if you should. You want to be treated nicer, but if you're not, that's fine for today - it doesn't matter because you don't want to be nice in any circumstance. You secretly fantasise about throwing the coffee cup in your hand from the balcony and shattering it into as many pieces as the laws of physics will allow. You want to ram full-tilt into the guy ahead of you who has cut you off, notwithstanding the fact that you cut someone else off in the process. That's fine [You now know that I don't always begin my sentences with "you']. You just want to give both those <blips> their comeuppances. They may have not directly deserved the flogging, but by being in this world, they're as much to blame. You no longer believe in repressing your feelings, even if society says that anger must be controlled. You know that the masters say that anger must be dissipated or channelized, but you are no fooking John McEnroe, so help you God, I cannot be serious. You tremble as you substitute one diplomatic word for a harsher one so that you don't hurt someone's feelings. You couldn't care less - you try being mean to others for a change. It's soothing. Especially because you know that, you prodigal son you, you have to return to the fooking fold of the polite - and that you have to stop thinking in second person narratives.

Elephantine memories

In one of the funniest and at the same time, grimmest political incidents in the engaging and twisted drama that is current Tamil Nadu politics, Mani Shankar Aiyer was ambushed both literally and figuratively. Aiyer had been invited in his capacity as the local MP to a government meeting where CM Jayalalitha went after him in an unexpected verbal assault, where she reminded the Congressman of his disparaging comments about her published two years ago where he, in response to Jayalalitha then gifting an elephant to the Guruvayoor Temple, had written that he would like to gift her to a temple too [Draw your own inferences as to the insinuation/comparison]. This led to the harassed (and probably bewildered) MP leaving the function in a huff. But that's just half the story - a group of people attacked his car and him a fair distance away from the function, allegedly an AIADMK act that seemed to have been more planned than spontaneous. Aiyar (sporting torn kurta for benefit of the news channels) has decided to complain to a lot of people in return.

Since I don't sympathise with any of the participants in the drama, it is easy to let out a huge chuckle - Aiyer himself has been seen to be pro-Jayalalitha in recent times, and like that other flip-flopper Subramaniam Swamy, can be in any corner as it suits him and can vehemently defend his positions. What seemed to me most funny was the fact that though Amma has taken strong umbrage to the comparison, she (in her now trademark style of ruthless and outspoken revenge-seeking) has exhibited the exact powers of memory and vengeance that the pachyderm in question is proverbially supposed to embody.

Mental strands of the day

Emails - Fook off - Incessant politeness - the strain of being polite - haircuts - microphones - drip, drip - neTTru illaadha maaTram - stereophonic sound - compatibility - swashbuckling - malingering - good luck - film posters - responsibility - restlessness - not worth panicking - Booger off - badly taken photographs - apologetic - RDB pensive from a desk calendar - televised quizzes - Reservoir Dogs and the sound of gunfire - Muttering_fook_as_a_result - Aptitude and interest - mental shutdown - Banquo's ghost - Mailey, Grace, Hobbs - elephantine memory - LoadLibrary - The (white) teething troubles of a TV serial - why quatrainman?

Oct 14, 2003

Maqbool (wasn't this previously titled Miya Maqbool?) has probably the best cast in recent films: which other film has the names of stalwarts Pankaj Kapur, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri with the New Age's established staffers Tabu and Irfan Khan? I cannot think of any other movie except Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron that had the brothers-in-law (if that is the right family term) and Om Puri in it until Maqbool. Bravo Vishal!
Those born in late '79 or all the months in 1980 (except those late in that year) will affirm (especially those that are a touch absent-minded and have trouble with numbers of all kinds) that keeping score of one's age is quite easy in the first decade of the twenty-first century. All you need to do is to remove the 2 zeroes (usually in the middle). For example, what's the age in 2005? For most of the year, it will be 25. This is also true for the earlier decades, when in the Nineties, get rid of the mid-9s. We'll have to relinquish this after 2011, but till then, we can imagine a special date with the modern age.

Oct 10, 2003

Will take this chance to publicly congratulate Harish and his team members - Shom, Amit and Vivek from MDI for pulling off a keenly contested University Challenge Quiz round against NITC, Kozhikode. Harish has now been called every possible name from the four strings that make up his name - "Venkata" joining the ranks of "BVHK", "The Bhamidipathi Express" etc.

They missed a couple of good trivia questions ("Omar Khayyam" the tentmaker among them), were somewhat reluctant to go for the buzzer, I thought, but also got a couple of tough ones (liked the speed of Vivek's "Colorado" answer). They went early for the "Baltic States" answer (it was obvious where the question was going). They got three questions on R.D.Burman (all sitters - "Bhoot Bangla", "Parichay" and "1942 - A Love Story") and got 5 out of the 6 Indian Presidents who had also served as Vice-Presidents.

It's good when the earlier show is telecast even before the next round is shot, so everyone can watch it without the results of the next round casting a shadow on proceedings. Good luck to the guys with their next round coming up very soon.

ISB, Bangalore and AFMC, Pune are the 2 other teams I know members from - also know their first round results, but in interests of suspense, won't mention it here.

Oct 9, 2003

Billya-la Maaruun taak!

Who says the concept of duality is dead or that good and evil cannot still be differentiated? Those were the days when if you heard the syllables ki-la-bi-la (and of course you lived in Maharashtra), it meant a goody-two-shoes-squeaky-clean children's programme on Doordarshan (Tamil Nadu kids-of-yore - think of it as a Marathi version of KaNmaNi Puu.nga or Wonder Balloon). If you now heard the same syllables today, something very contrary, a gory-bloodsplattered-enraged-stylised image is all that pops in the mental landscapes : a film by the Monarch of Mayhem with his own tales of inspiration. And there is Part-II to come (sigh).

Oct 8, 2003

Since I lost hearing in one earpiece of my very low-budget earphones, I borrowed headphones from my friend nearby. These are the macho kind of headphones that a) Put your neck and spinal column in serious trouble b) Give you the appearance of a helicopter pilot in the midst of an aural version of dhup-dhup-dhup c) give African elephants and Prince Charles serious competition in the annual Pinnae Contests.

Of course, the sounds are much better, so I'm discovering some new aspects to some of the songs I thought I had got tired off. I'm running my song collection through the borrowed phones now.

Oct 7, 2003

Kalyan Gokhale - another of the COEP and BC gang - joins us in blogging. The curiously titled BakwasLOG (complete with explanation of term in the first post) added to my sidebar.

Oct 6, 2003

Notes from recent times

Put it down to a possible Goth or Visigoth or Vandal influence in one of my past births, but I have been a little bit of a defacer when it comes to all those grinning faces in newspapers. When I have access at arm's length to a pen or pencil, I like to add the small touches that can transform today's beauty contest winner into a ghoul at a witches' coven. My style has evolved from the childish extravagance when all of us used to draw large moustaches and moles on film star photos to a more subtle blackening of a tooth or two - the less grotesque it is, the better. I do, however, like to spice up things with Chinese-style beards or a pirate's eyepatch from time to time. My niece Tania is a huge fan of the notorious Khan, S. and has posters of all kinds of the dude in her house. Her brother Nikhil and cousin Sharad with all due brotherly affection (and perhaps sub-consciously as a protective gesture) unleashed their sketch-pens over many of the hapless Khan's poses, leading to the inevitable clash. I walked in without any inkling of these deep political divides, and surveying the output of art in front of me, promptly asked for a pen and set about showing these young men all the intracacies in this medium. All with a view to encourage and hone their precocious talents, of course. It was when Nikhil informed me it would probably be more fun to rat on me to his elder sister (she having been absent during my lessons) that it dawned on me that not all players in this drama would consider my tutorial with the same enthusiasm. Cursing the younger generation's tendency to rate the art of chuglii even higher than avuncular loyalty, it was all I could do to divert the attention of the nephews to video games and ice cream. My murals escaped attention from the otherwise docile niece - the abundance of variously hirsute Salman clips probably meant that my addition was just a drop in the ocean of vandalism. I should be safe considering that this confession will not be read by most. However, I couldn't help feeling a tinge of sympathy for Aunt Agatha - if this was what nephews did, then one had to seem to eat broken glass for dinner.


In some sort of MMI spinoff, I have been asked to talk to a group of people preparing for the next UPSC examinations on useful books, newspapers, periodicals, memorising facts etc. etc. that we quizzers are supposed to be an authority on. I fear, as in many other aspects to life, that I will finally be exposed as a fraud because rack as I might my brains, I cannot think of having done anything significantly different or having any special memory tricks up my sleeve. We just loved making and asking questions of all kinds at the BC where it didn't seem an effort. More than plain quizzing, I think setting quizzes makes a considerable difference. Add to this, the fact that every person I know who tried to mug his way through a general knowledge test hasn't succeeded, so I think the guys at Jnana Prabodhini's Competitive Exams Centre might be a touch disappointed with me. I need to think more about what I'm going to say to them.


The trailers for Tehzeeb are out and unfortunately, the couple of songs aired haven't been distinctive. Fans of Rahman may apportion a larger portion of the blame to Khalid Mohamed, but the fact remains both director and music-d are responsible. Will the much talked about ghazals be the saving grace?

I've usually noticed that in many cases, the first song aired is never the best in the pack - is this a strategic choice to whet the appetite (backfires if the song isn't good enough) or do the makers think the song is one that is likely to appeal to a majority?

The title song of Kal Ho Naa Ho (the trailers are giving me major fumes of Anand) is very Jatin-Lalit like (turned out to be Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy), and seemed pleasant enough. Though the repeated airings of the same pieces have now turned it a little monotonous and even maudlin.


After months of threatening to do so, I've finally started walking to work (2.5 kms in one direction). Partially enforced by the noisome Navratri mela at Chaturshringi, the early morning or evening walks have been quite pleasant. As Pune switches into Winter and out of the rains, there will be times in the day which are rather glorious. The trick would be to get out then.


Has there been any movie like Duet in which the saxophone has been so brilliantly used? The interludes in Naan Paadum Sandham are outstanding!


Israel has attacked terrorist camps in Syria. India is among the first countries to condemn this "unilateral action". As Denzel W. says in Philadelphia, explain this to me like I am a ten year old:

* The US and allies attacked an independent nation on the suspicion that it harbours and encourages terrorism. Israel, and indeed the whole world, knows that there are terrorist camps in Syria, and have chosen to describe the target as the camp, not the nation of Syria itself. In comparison, Israel had more justification.

* Many in the Government of India (especially after the Iraqi war) have made statements advocating a policy of hot pursuit to strike at terrorist camps in POK. Though all of us know this is isn't feasible (hence making it more worthy of idle conjecture). Syria doesn't have a nuclear capability.

Everyone knows that international politics cannot afford to let one nation attack another. Everyone also knows that some can get away with it and some cannot. Israel, unlike India, is in the former category.


Two instances of in-jokes that re-called themselves to my attention:

Andaaz Apna Apna: when Amar (Aamir K) tells Prem (Salman Khan) that yeah right, Prem's father wrote Sholay, which Salim Khan did of course.

In the song KuLichaa KutraaLam from Duet, in the course of giving what are the best examples and complements for different kinds of things (if I understand correctly :-) ) - Prabhu sings naDichaa engappa.n - a tribute shared by everyone to the late Sivaji.


My friend Vivek is reading the complete stories of Sherlock Holmes (I lent him the two volumes which have all novels and short stories in the Holmes canon) and it is interesting to note his first-timer's reaction, of wonderment and enjoyment. I myself read the different stories over a period of time, starting when I was quite small, so I don't remember my reactions to it, or if I was impressed or if I understood it completely. Whereas my friend's sense of discovery will last him a long while as it will be in his adult consciousness. I will never have that kind of joy with Holmes now, as many of plots and characters are now too familiar to me. In compensation, surely there will be other things to do for the first time.

On a tangential note, I've noticed this attempt or need to record, replay and hold on to first impressions - the kind of reactions when you discover the surprise ending (these days, suspense is never guaranteed, and experiencing something is always coloured and sullied by someone else's comments) or when you see some unusual natural object for the first time or perhaps even when you see someone interesting for the first time. Like Ricky Fitts in American Beauty, a camera to record items of beauty is in order.


I haven't seen Boys, but I think I will pass judgement on it anyway. Shankar's film making template is to construct the plot based around some social evil or theme. What I don't like is that to this he adds more than a dollop of what I consider crass and unnecessary dialogues and scenes. There are many examples from Gentleman and Indian (the two films I have seen completely) that don't impress me and which I feel as bordering on soft-p0rn). They are unnecessary because they don't add anything to the film's story, they pander to the baser instincts of the whistlers and no, I don't think the public asked for it - even if they did, you don't have to give it to them.

Given my opinions of Shankar's films, the whole brouhaha over Boys doesn't surprise me. I only consider it as Shankar pushing his luck a little too far this time. Call me a prude or narrow-minded person, but I find it difficult to reconcile a storyteller who tells his highly moral semi-autobiographical story of corruption in education (Gentleman) with low-minded jokes. I'm sure he has the intelligence and creativity to make a film without stooping so low. I cannot stop saying this - the big guns are the ones that have the opportunity to lead the way, and do influence film plots and commerce - why can't they take the risk. Unless of course, Shankar says such scenes are fundamentally necessary to the success of his films, in which case, no one can persuade him to do any different.

(For a differing view, read Lazygeek's review of Boys (Look for it in the middle of the page))


Oceans divide them, electrons unite them
Affection unseen but feelings keyed
Ice cream now gives way to IM
And emoticons quench the heart's need

Oct 1, 2003

Those of you who do not know me and see me in a crowd may be given the following for a means of identifying me: look for the person dabbing away with his handkerchief. Those who do know me, especially guys working with me know that I have had a long relationship with the cold-and-cough, the strain of which apparently runs deep in my family.

So no surprise that I've tried a few nuskhaas to get rid of the sniffles, including visits to a local homoeopath (let that fertile imagination of yours not run away please at the word associations). When I first visited this experienced wielder of the powder-and-pill, he promptly set about asking trademark questions about my response to heat and cold, condition of my elbows and so on, the kind of arcane personal trivia that you didn't know mattered. From his reactions and choices of questions, it seemed that I fitted into some mental category of his in which were scattered many an identical case in the past. Quite like an astrologer's performance. I couldn't help but feel a tinge of disappointment: I didn't know my case was so trivial and hackneyed as to be diagnosed in 3 minutes flat. Of course, it meant that the treatment wouldn't be experimental and that the ailment wasn't something incurable. But it was a little ego-deflating, especially when I saw the young intern behind nodding her head in tune to the questions- she seemed to have seen my kind of case on page 383 of the Hahnemann Handbook and solved it for 15 marks in her second semester paper on "Common Ailments of the Respiratory System". They could've atleast shown a little less disdain for my case. Also, whenever my answer didn't exactly match the textbook version (so it seemed from their raised eyebrows), I felt as if they knew what it should be and it was I who was at fault at being unable to recount what the symptoms were. No wonder that my emotions on leaving after my monthly visit are usually akin to those last experienced at exiting vivas.