Next BC Open quizAll details here.
Nov 28, 2006
Reach for the migraine pills* Himesh Reshammiya's movie is officially billed "Aap ka surroor - The Moviee". No doubt that the guy who named "I Proud to be an Indian" was involved in the naming. (Have you read the Himesh blog?)
Nov 27, 2006
Speaking IndianGreg Chappell reacts to comments by MPs (who made them in Parliament, no less): "MPs are paid to raise such questions". Predictably, a storm has arisen. Though completely comprehensible and easy to chart, this is unbelievable in its ridiculousness.
What's wrong in what he said? If you go by the idiom of "being paid", it means in the sense of "drawing a salary". And we do know our MPs are paid to raise questions about the state of affairs (that they choose to talk about cricket in a Parliament where each minute is worth thousands of rupees and is easily a waste of time is another matter). However, if you believe that he was literally accusing them of "being paid money" to discredit the team, then well, first I'm sure you are wrong, and second, our Hon. MPs probably have only themselves to blame - a guilty conscience emanating out of the cash-for-questions scandals is perhaps at the root of it all.
What you could also clearly see is another example of how the now "globalised" Indian media works. Ask a question, draw a response, use it to remove the pin and lob the grenade into an open field by "flashing" the news (this on a night when media channels were wetting themselves over seeing Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan in the same room - leave them alone!) all over.
In the midst of this, it was a little comforting to see some of the BCCI top brass take a sobering view, but for how long will that remain? You have nutters like Gurudas Dasgupta accusing Chappell of not understanding the "democratic culture" of the country. What in 'eck's name is he talking about?
The mainstream news media in this country stinks. The Slimes of India now has made its last page into a sports-version of the Mid-Day Mate by printing photos of the Ashley Cole's first cousin's third daughter in a two-piece (I have more respect for tabloids like Mid-Day and the Sun - at least they don't pretend to be "respectful"), thus making the traditional turn-to-last-page-first no longer possible.
An Aussie boor allegedly told Monty Panesar to speak Indian a week ago. Perhaps Greg Chappell needs to learn to speak Indian - part of which is to keep your mouth shut, or to treat a bunch of old fuddy-duddies with mock respect just because they're a bunch of people who like to be in control, don't like to be challenged by outsiders, and like a fuss. And yes, that's what we've always suspected they've been paid for.
(and to those non-MPs amongst us who like to quabble about Indian cricketers and their hefty packages, I have this for you to read. Oh yeah, I would like Rahul Dravid to say for once that "the players played crap cricket", but looks like that will only get him defenestrated by an panchayati board president or something)
Nov 22, 2006
Faux News - 10
China bans Hu jokes; Indian sub-editors under house arrest
By our Sino-sure correspondent
In a major development, the People's Republic of China has banned all jokes and puns involving the name of Chinese President Hu Jintao, especially in newspaper headlines. In a period where several Chinese, especially citizens of Beijing, have been learning English to prepare for the 2008 Olympics, this move is seen as protecting Hu and other high-ranking officials of the Communist Party of China from being seen as objects of scorn.
An official spokesman said: "It is very unfortunate that some anti-national forces in this country and outside are misusing the noble name of President Hu Jintao, especially its unfortunate resemblance to certain words of the English language, to produce perverse persiflage. The Chinese Government condemns such efforts to degrade the elders of the country and will not tolerate such insults to its leaders.". It has been learnt that notices have been sent to various English language media offices to refrain from printing the word "Hu" in any pun-like situations.
Sources indicate that this drastic step was taken after reports of a fresh outbreak of email forwards featuring an old joke involving President Bush, President Hu and then Secretary Rice that has been doing the rounds again. The difference is that newly English-equipped Chinese have now been able to relish such humour. When asked to comment, the US State Department brushed it off as an internal development of a sovereign state. However, it is learnt that President Bush called President Hu to discuss the late-night comic situation in the United States.
This prohibition has had ripples in India where President Hu is currently on a visit. On the request of the visiting Chinese, the Indian government has rounded up some of the most irreverent sub-editors in the capital and placed them under safe custody. A spokesman dismissed accusations of suppressing free speech terming this is as "a routine security measure". However, this website spoke to one sub-editor over a smuggled phone and learnt that the sub-editors were planning a protest march with banners such as "Hu's Headline Is It Anyway?". They are now registering their protest by playing "Who Let the Dogs Out?" at the loudest possible volume.
Our Washington Correspondent adds: Chinese lobbyists at Capitol Hill have now unveiled their new slogan for the season: "It's not about human rights; it's just that the Hu-Man's right"
Click here for a free look at the earlier editions.
Nov 21, 2006
AapaN yaannaa paahilat kaa?A huge favourite of the Doordarshan generation, the serial Fauji is back on air, this time on Sahara One. Apparently, they air each evening, but they also play all the week's episodes on Sunday afternoon (which is what I chanced upon by accident). You will be happy to hear that the series hasn't been affected too much by time - the basic production values don't hamper your enjoyment of proceedings, while the story still has some interest on the repeat viewing. The dialogues are a little stilted for sure, but as a nostalgia trip, it still stands up.
SRK only appears third on the credits in this Colonel Kapoor helmed ode to the armed forces (detailing a commando training course), fittingly behind "elder brother Vikram Rai" (played by Rakesh Sharma) and the brother's lady-love (Amina Kapoor). There are some familiar faces and names, and much of it comes flooding back. We learnt the word "buddy", thought a lot of the catchphrase "I say chaps" and were chuffed at the veiled Pakistani references. Loy Mendonsa wrote a basic but memorable "CASIO" theme tune. So if you want to rewind memories of Lt. Abhimanyu Rai and mates, tune into Sahara when you can.
(tip-off by Sameer DS)
On CNN-IBN, Bhupendra Chaubey interviewed Anjali Mullatti, one of the trustees, and proceeded to ask a fairly annoying question on whether IIM grads only highlight this issue once a year. Now, I haven't been following the activities of the Trust and am as neutral an observer as possible. Even I have read (on blogs) and heard about some of the activities around the year, first in raising money for the case and then for other initiatives. To question this commitment was patently unfair to these people, however large or small their numbers be, and the very fact that new initiatives like the RTI helpline have been implemented speak of much activity behind the scenes. To her great credit, Ms. Mullatti replied that it was just the media that focussed on the story once in a year and that a lot of work was happening.
I think we need to be careful in our cynicism and criticism. It would help more if news channels did not make a spectacle of the grieving family, like one story which ended its piece-to-camera by getting the parents to pose awkwardly with photos of their grieving son in the background.
(Read Gaurav's post on the anniv.)
Nov 19, 2006
The music of GuruGuru: a film by Mani Ratnam, lyrics by Gulzar, music by A.R.Rahman
(biggish post - apologies for the OD)
So the latest collaboration between the big names is out. An opinion:
Barso Re: Shreya Ghosal kicks off proceedings in this typical Mani Ratnam heroine introduction song (usually accompanied by water). Pleasant progression of the melody with a lot of humming (quite a feature of the album). The flat percussive slaps in the beginning were a little annoying, but this is a good and uncomplicated song without being too spectacular. I was a little disappointed at not hearing more of Uday Mazumdar and the Gujarati flavour - he is limited to a few fragments.
Tere Bina: This on the other hand is one of those songs that grabs you by the collar and borrows your breath as it advances - and you don't mind. A.R.Rahman picks up the mike for this one (giving himself another great song to croon!), is into his now traditional alaaps early. The use of the lyrics of the mukhaDaa again later in the song was really unexpected and nicely done. Chinmayi is mindblowingly good - even though she only joins in late. It's hard to recognise her voice off the bat. She provides an interesting counterpoint to Rahman's voice, which is naturally higher on the register. In contrast, Chinmayi adopts a gravity and Hindustani classical lilt (she talks on her blog about her classical and ghazal lessons, so they're paying off!), moving into alto and then back into full voice. This should earn her a lot of notice outside tamil film music, and very deservedly. Be prepared for a full-blown Mani Ratnam choreographic experience on this one to match the richness of the orchestration.
Ek Lo Ek Muft: When I first heard this, it brought a smile to my face - first, I wasn't quite expecting the Bappi song to turn out this way, and secondly, that Rahman finally did a song like this in Hindi. It's quite daft and demented, Bappida has been made to sing all over the place - but I'm willing to accept it as a bhang-babble song. The Gujarati section is very well used here, and it was fun getting a friend to translate them for me ("Joye" means "chaahiye" and the rest of the lyrics are about needing two grooms for the two twin daughters - the situation of the song). Chitra is again a surprise, in terms of how her voice has been modulated. The song could, however, do with a little more zing. I suggest not over-hearing this song (it doesn't offer that much outside the context), but come back to it once in a while and one should be satisfactorily amused. The opening is all ga.njiiraa and sounds almost Bangla-baul like, and then goes all the way east. Bappida's "slurring" is actually quite charming, quite like the man.
Mayya Mayya: This is a good song to recall the past. It invokes a situation quite like "naan sirithaal diipawaaLi" from Nayakan, a risqué "item" song (Mallika Sherawat will shakety-shake here, of course), the usual double-barrelled Rahman lyric, and finally the Arabic flavour. Maryem Tollar, Keerthi and Chinmayi combine for this one. While it never quite hits any great heights, it's a fairly decent song. (I'm sure one'll see the word "experimental" tagged to this song, but that's usually a fan-euphemism for "I don't want to say I didn't like it" ;-).) The Middle-East arrangements are interesting to hear as is the Gujarati mix towards the end.
Aye hairath-e-aashiqui: My personal favourite of the album, and that's because the seemingly conventional nature of the song, not despite it. Hariharan and Alka Yagnik are in a ghazal-like duet which includes a romantic tease and the gearing up for love after marriage (the accompanying images indicate a wedding in the air). And again, whenever Rahman has used the harmonium, the output has been charming - this is no exception. It's gratifying to know that there is a lot of sweetness left even in these conventional structures even though we demand novelty all the time. Mixing in the "dham-dhara-dham" aural backbone works well with the song as do the interludes.
Baazi Lagaa: The frightening non-Rahmanesque-ness of this song can possibly be explained by describing the song as being very, very functional in the context of the film. The arrangements seem to echo a 80s film music feel with the violins and accordions, the chorus and general hullabaloo, but I can only imagine an accompanying montage detailing Guru's money-mindedness, which surely must be pre-80s? Still, the visuals will reveal all. Udit Narayan, Madhushree and others sing this slightly cynical look at the allure of money, and it ain't all that bad as it may seem on repeated hearings - the feet begin to tap a little. If it turns out to be a "dol"-like montage from "Yuva", I'd be looking forward.
Jaage Hain: A magnificent flourish to end the album, this orchestral and highly instrumental piece probably illustrates the bent of the film. Chitra and Rahman progress in differing ways - the first time you listen to this, surprises are guaranteed. The 1:30 minute long string section takes you up the inspiration scales ending with the Madras Chorale Group. Incidentally, the song bears an uncanny resemblance to "Lag Jaa Gale" from Woh Kaun Thi.
Now to the old maestro himself. Every Gulzar album is also a little language lesson, and this one taught me "besuaadii" and "chasm-e-nam". Incidentally, this album is exceedingly onomatopoeic in nature, so we see a lot of humming and yodelling. The music and phonemes do go hand-in-hand. A brief review of the album, lyric-wise:
Gulzar pulls out the same "kosaa-bosaa" rhyme we also saw with "Jag Jaa" (Omkaara) for "Barso Re", and there is some very pleasing rural imagery woven in. The romanticism of "Tere Bina" is quite old-fashioned and engaging. "Besuaadii" is the word of the album, by miles! "Ek Lo" shows why Gulzar is right in considering himself to be the best nonsense lyric writer around (consider the musings on double offers and even the appearance of "loadshedding"). "Mayya Mayya" in its "propositioning" lyrics is actually quite skillfully done without any over hint of lewdness (quite like "biiDii" from Omkara). "Ay hairath-e-aashiqui" is downright wonderful. The female section's tease "kyo.n urduu-faarsii bolate ho" brought forth a chuckle, for that sounds like a self-deprecatory joke, while the next line "das kehate ho do tolate ho" is a gentle dig at the protagonist's far-from-scrupulous ways. The song's last major lyric section is a sublime summary of the arranged match, and worth a recount:
do chaar mahiin se lamho me.nJaage Hai.n is a nice poem and typical of the Gulzar repertoire: let me sleep for a while, they sing, let me finish my half-dreams first, and then I can wake up and try and fulfill them. The quiet defiance and resolve is well underscored by the choral track.
umro.n ke hisaab bhi hote hai.n
jinhe.n dekhaa nahi.n kal tak kahii.n bhii
ab kok me.n woh chahare bote hai.n
Guru plays a lot of singers against type. Chinmayee and Chitra sound a lot more robust than we are accustomed to, and pull it off. Rahman takes on an even bigger singing role than before, and does a decent job musically. Bappi Lahiri has been used very differently, and it's only with Shreya Ghosal, Hariharan and Alka Yagnik that we come to some semblance of normality. However, a major complaint must be made of the diction. It's very nice to note that dialect coaches were used (and credited!), but in many of the songs, it was quite hard to pick up the pronounciation. I know Rahman has usually opted for musicality and "cuteness" over diction in the past, but it's a little tiring to have to figure out what they're trying to say. The affliction even hits the like of Hariharan, with only the ladies getting it mostly right. It also masks the impact of the lyrics.
And while on the subject of cribs, the CD is priced at a hefty 160/-. I know this is a premium combination with quite a track-record, but even then, 160/- is pricey (in fact, it's the most expensive CD I've bought). The CD comes with a lyrics booklet which has been well-designed visually, but the actual transliteration of lyrics is nothing short of shocking. The lyrics (written in English) have several inconsistencies in spelling, have omissions of words ("baazi lagaa" has the word "arabo.n" missing), includes lines that seem to be nowhere in the Bappi song - all in all, not what I want to get in a product for which I pay premium prices.
Another crib is about the distribution: why do releases happen overseas first and then in India? (The music went out on Thursday in the US, while being available on Friday late evening or Saturday. Omkara had the same problem.) Surely, it ought to be simultaneous or at least start here first? It caused me to fidget all morning with all the reactions pouring in, and I ended up searching high and low (successfully) for rips on the web. It is a much awaited album and I'm sure there was a major hit in productivity among a section of people last Friday :-). Also, it drives people to seek mp3s even if they don't really mean to.
All in all, a very satisfying album for the fan, but there are enough elements to hook the average disinterested listener. Multiple-listenings advised, but as much for the functional songs. If the usual Mani Ratnam choreography standards for such kind of films will materialise, then we could be in for a treat.
And finally, I wonder what happened to the cool rock and roll theme we heard on the website?
P.S.: great gesture by ARR to dedicate Tere Bina to the memory of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It's fitting because ARR considers him to be one of his gurus, and after all, they were the Gurus of Peace.
Nov 16, 2006
Poo KoDiyin Punnagai is chronologically the third song in Iruvar (we'll look at the second later). Just like Narumugaiye, it's a song for a film-within-the-film, featuring Anandan and Ramani (Gautami) as his heroine. They've starred in an earlier hit (Anandan's first success as a hero) and the song mirrors their growing relationship in real life. (Anandan's wife Pushpa has earlier died during childbirth.) Incidentally, "Ramani" is the role in the movie that corresponds to V.N.Janaki in real-life, the actress who marries "Anandan"/MGR.
The song is immaculately featured as a set of classic set-pieces of the 60s, usually with a (fake) garden backdrop at night (painted moon glittering in the yonder pond). The heroine has bashful dance-steps around the hero, who in contrast, stands confident and solid, dressed in his suit (yes, then a lot of Tamil film heroes wore suits and ties in films in everday life!) and doesn't have to do much of the dancing. Or set in a huge palatial house with stairwells. Puff blouses and flowers later, you get the picture.
the music, the playback
You could be mistaken for thinking this was a lost Viswanathan-Ramamurthy song. The song captures the essence of their "light" film music - simple orchestrations for the love songs, very dulcet and soothing amidst a light rhythm beat (Rahman uses a tablaa).
V-R songs were quite melody oriented and marked a shift from the previous styles involving heavy classical influences, which can be clearly contrasted by comparing Narumugaiye and this song. They also used instruments which were not common in TFM or Carnatic classical, such as more North Indian or Western instruments. Rahman achieves the effects by similar means. The instruments I thought I could recognise were the accordion, flute, tablaa, santoor, violins and other strings, shehnaai, triangles and reso-reso, sarangii, which may sound like a lot, but gave the music a texture that perfectly recalled the past. In the end, it came down to the melody which was just wonderfully spot on.
Rahman has a talent for picking out the patterns that identify a genre or an era and using that effectively. This was on show in this film and particularly this song.
Again, like the first song, the choice of the playback singer gave the song a big lift. Sandhya sings this song in a voice that is P. Susheela's. Not a voice that is borrowed or mimicked, but the same. (I've read Sandhya is P.Susheela's niece and daughter-in-law.) Their voices are so similar that for several days I thought they had actually roped in P. Susheela to sing this song (incidentally, this album did not make use of anyone actually associated directly with that era, which makes this effort even more commendable).
P. Susheela was one of the finest voices on the TFM soundscapes and along with the likes of S.Janaki, defined the female crooning voice of Tamil silver screens for much of the 60s, 70s and 80s (she also sang a song for Rahman in the film Puthiya Mugam). Since I haven't heard any songs of Sandhya outside this, I don't know if she's changed her voice to sound like her aunt for this song, but the resemblance is incredibly uncanny.
Vairamuthu opts for a much more comprehensible set of lines that appropriately aren't too aggressive, but are poetic and metaphorical as was usually the case with those times. A soft expression of love from the feminine point of view has been well penned. I don't quite know if it references any of the songs by the likes of Kannadasan, the leading lyricist of his and those times, but the manner is the same. The progression of the lyrics also reflect Ramani's actual emotions for Anandan and her increasing need to escape her current circumstances.
The picturisation and choreography were very fascinating in this song. As mentioned before, the set-pieces were mounted very well. The song opens with sepia-tinted lighting at night, with trees and a pond and the reflected moon. As the song plays, we also see off-camera moments that indicate how both Anandan and Ramani continue to fall for each other, as also the growing frustrations of Ramani's uncle ('Nizhalgal' Ravi) on seeing their mutual fondness.
Gautami does a Saroja Devi - of this there is little doubt. She has on the famous ribbons and double-tails, with first the paavaDai-daavaNi and later the puffy blouses. The coquettish dance movements (Raghuram also appears in the song as the dance choreographer) are patently like Saroja Devi (Saroja Devi was one of the leading stars of her age - not one of my favourites, for she had a very screechy voice and ultra-melodramatic style, which was probably not her fault!. She also shared great on-screen chemistry with the likes of MGR and Gemini Ganesan.) Gautami does an excellent job, not only as the dainty danseuse, but as the increasingly abused girl who still has to go out there and give a cinematic shot of a love-struck star. (A memorable moment is when she's quickly practicing her steps after make-up and turns towards her uncle in perfect step to the rhythm.)
Mohanlal, for his part, shows the transformation that Anandan is going through - he is now increasingly self-assured in his body language (being a star and having been introduced to the value of mass adulation by Tamilchelvan feeds into this characterisation of Anandan). When the song moves outdoors, Anandan is doing the famous swagger-walk twirling his coat in a manner that clearly references some of the cult MGR mannerisms. It is quite amusing to see these songs these days, when the hero just stood there gazing at the heroine prancing about doing semi-classical steps infused with a new cinematic idiom (it would take the days of Rajesh Khanna and others to finally burst the macho imagery and indulge in some flippant dance moves with their leading ladies!).
Useful web references
1. Lyrics with serviceable English translation
2. Another lyrics page
3. TFM forum pages mentioning the relationship between Sandhya and P. Susheela: 1, 2
4. A P. Susheela website
5. Kannadasan bio
6. Saroja Devi bio
7. Janaki Ramachandran
Nov 15, 2006
Monty Singh Pun-saare?One game later, the a.ngrezi mu.nDaa Monty Singh Panesar has already been (disgracefully) abused by sections of the Sydney crowd.
Reportedly he was asked if things should be "said in Indian". It's not known whether Monty (pumped by the visits to the psychologist) turned around and said: "If you can, for I don't understand Aussie".
Nov 14, 2006
The Philosopher's StonedFor the last couple of days, I was engaged in a death struggle with an implementation of the computer science scenario known The Drinking Philosophers problem in a new language, but alas, was doomed due to lack of time and enthusiasm. (Instead I had to settle for its more famous but lesser cousin, The Dining Philosophers problem.)
If you have wrestled with anything that involves concurrency, then you'll know that reconstructing the histories of parallel processes based on their trail is a little like trying to understand a Tarantino or Christopher Nolan screenplay in its non-linearity. At worse, you're saddled with a Lynch film - every which way you look at it makes sense but you will always be wrong in your conclusions.
Coming back to our quaint bunch of theosophers, I chucked my worries by looking at the brilliant Monty Python implementation of the problem. Here it goes:
The Drinking Philosophers Song(lyrics, link to page with the audio)
Immanuel Kant was a real pissant who was very rarely stable.
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boosey beggar who could think you under the table.
David Hume could out-consume Shoppenhauer and Hegel,
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine who was just as schloshed as Schloegel.
There's nothin' Neitzche couldn't teach ya 'bout the raisin' of the wrist;
Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed!
John Stuart Mill, of his own free will, after half a pint of shard was particularly ill.
Plato, they say, could stick it away, half a crate of whiskey every day.
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle, Hobbes was fond of his dram.
And René Déscartes was a drunken fart, "I drink therefore I am."
Yes Socrates, himself, is particularly missed: A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he's pissed!
GazzagScarcely have I made my peace with Orkut (the site, not the man of course - /even I/ am not that well-connected) - the reason being I love the "delete all scraps" option (hee hee) - that it seems everyone is moving to yet another social networking site called "Gazzag.com". I get an "invite" almost everyday, but I continue to play the snob and not go near it.
So if kind souls can enlighten:
* What's so special about gazzag.com?
* Is it promoted by Paul Gascoigne and gang?
* Have the Brazilians won this round as well?
The world's first competent programmer(From the pen of the great Edsger Dijsktra a.k.a EWD).
Although at the time that this story took place, mankind was not blessed yet with automatic computers, our anonymous man who found this solution deserves to be called the world's first competent programmer.To know why, you've got to read the parable.
Nov 13, 2006
Station AaarghHalf of Lara Durden were seen boarding a Mumbai local today. It was the "rickshaw ride on Pune roads" weeks ago (which means they're all still here. Damn!).
As a consequence. ceremonies went on for ever to the accompaniment of recalcitrant sound equipment (not that cricketers say anything apart from "I got good support from the other end" to commentators with a three-point agenda), and putting on a crude display which in contrast even Joginder movies could boast of better production values. Consider the chaotic 1996 World Cup ceremony in Lahore (an appropriate closing paranthesis to the famous laser-show opening fiasco in Calcutta) - hardly memorable from an aesthetic point of view. In sharp contrast, look at the tidy Wimbledon prize ceremonies or the European Champions Trophy presentations.
It's a whine to say this again, but the Aussies have this one usually right. Post-match ops just feature a representative of the sponsors, the local cricket big-wigs and the players to be felicitated. Here the politician is also the cricket big-wig, and usually has an accompanying votebank to boot, which must be appeased. The result is a greasy and claustrophobic experience.
Nov 12, 2006
"Connubiality" - A "retrospection" by Subhash K. Jha
The old-world charm of a yarn that weaves in and out of amorous arrangements within an arranged marriage, is tremendously aggrandized by the lead pair who go through the mellow motions of falling in love, in a spirit of artless adventure in an unexplored journey.Wow. What a paragraph from Mr. Jha's Vivaah review. A paragraph whose polysyllabic count is so high that it reeks of a Shift-F7 hack job (Hit Shift-F7 in MS Word to find what it does).
So if one reverse-engineers the above statement, it probably started life as something like:
The old-world charm of a /story/ that weaves in and out of /loving/ arrangements within an arranged marriage, is tremendously /increased/ by the lead pair who go through the /sweet/ motions of falling in love, in a spirit of /sincere/ adventure in an unexplored journey.(I don't know quite what to make of amorous and aggrandized!) Now, I may be doing Mr. Jha a disservice, but "aggrandize" and "artless" and "amorous" within range of each other? C'mon. Even GRE takers don't write like that.
And as a bonus for reading this post, let me quote the ending of the review:
Vivah predictably concludes with the couple's wedding and suhaag raat where the bridegroom tells his burnt wife, "Come let me do your dressing."Dayaa max!
Undressing is not what this film is about. Not even on the suhaag raat.
Mrs. Nimbalkar...... had nothing to do with it, despite what many growing-up quizzes have fondly asked and we fondly lapped up in the pre-Web days (how blissfully innocent things were!). The other story (perhaps not as romantic, but quite as interesting) about the abortive world record attempt at Pune was right.
Nov 10, 2006
Apna Sapna Many ManyI (and I have found fellow sufferers like me) cannot tell apart the likes of Celina Jaitley and Koena Mitra (not that I want to, but this is out of an academic interest in keeping in top condition the ability to discriminate faces and avoid them). So if we went to see a movie like their latest, we may be excused from believing it was a double or even a triple role.
Nov 9, 2006
Nov 8, 2006
A.K.Hangal quits "Ram Gopal Varma ke Sholay"
By our Media correspondent
In yet another blow to Ram Gopal Varma and his attempts to remake the classic "Sholay", A.K.Hangal today announced he was leaving the project. When contacted by this website, he said "there were artistic differences with the creative team". However, sources close to the veteran actor said that Hangal-saab was keen on playing the role of "Ramlal" (played in the original by Satyen Kappu) and was promised it. However, now the role has been offered to Ramu regular Antara Mali because Hangal was not willing to speak any foul words on screen.
Mr. Hangal refused to confirm this, though he did accept that back in 1974 while making the original, when Ramesh Sippy first narrated the script to him, he was blown away by the role of Ramlal and had wanted to play it. However Sippy convinced him to take on the role of Imaam Saheb instead as Ramlal needed a person who was, as he politely put it, "not hirsutely challenged". The source said: if Amitabh can play his dream role, then Hangal-saab, being an industry veteran, could surely do the same, and should have been accomodated.
The mounting controversy does not seem to have affected the maverick director. Ramu has roped in Antara Mali to play the Thakur's manservant. "Actors come and go, but it's a hairy role", he quipped. Already, it is rumoured that the role has been re-written as a young all-dancing bodyguard. Mali will be taking special lessons on polishing studs of sports-shoes to act as deadly weapons, and she will play the valet with a curious arpeggio laugh.
Click here for a free look at the earlier editions.
To their discreditCNN-IBN had a story about credit card fraud which affected Supratik Chakraborty, a Professor in the CSE department here.
Curiously, the story is headlined "Paying by plastic not safe anymore". I wonder when it was (completely) safe in the first place.
Nov 7, 2006
Bringing home the blog-truthsWhat does Tim Berners-Lee do if he thinks he's being misquoted and misunderstood? He blogs about it, of course.
An article had earlier appeared in The Guardian featuring a provocative headline Blogging one of biggest perils ostensibly based on a comment by the inventor of the WWW ((link to the article) - Berners-Lee didn't link to it :-)). Berners-Lee refuted it a couple of days later in his latest post, ending with "And, fortunately, we have blogs. We can publish what we actually think, even when misreported". Bully for him.
It is quite well-known that I am no Tim Berners-Lee (!), but /even I/ have had problems with the press. During my 7 3/4 minutes to glory in January 2003 (when it was revealed to general horror and squalid amusement that I had won Mastermind India), I was interviewed by a lady of the local version of a national rag. Probably because she couldn't unlock the keys to the skeletons of the closet, questions soon became speculative. "What next? Will you take part in any international quizzes?", asked she. "There aren't really any international quizzes that I know of", said I. "But if there were, would you?", shot back she. "Well, hmm, perhaps, who knows?", said I.
The next day, I was quoted in the papers as saying (paraphrased) "My next ambition is to go for international quizzes". Thank you very much, Mr. Cocky Quizzer. That one day, I knew what Salman Khan was going through.
More seriously, yes, there is a lot of nonsense "out there". But there is also a good chance someone will spot the nonsense and alert sane minds, if not be able to correct all of it. Everyone new to the web and email goes through a phase of forwarding fake chain threads and believing urban legends, but soon they get pointed to an alternative site refuting it, and hence instilling some much needed scepticism. However, with the newspapers, if you get misquoted, it reaches a lot more people without you getting a chance to completely refute the erroneous impressions (perhaps they'll print a little Letter to the Editor that falls of the page when you lift up the newspaper). One should be equally suspicious about print, irrespective of the nature of the paper it's printed on.
At least, thanks fundamentally to Tim Berners-Lee, you can blog about it.
Nov 6, 2006
singers: Unnikrishnan, Bombay Jayashri
This is the first song of the film. It is a period of great happiness for Anandan (Mohanlal), for he seems to have finally landed his big break, working as a 'hero' for the first time and he has also just married Pushpa (Aishwarya Rai, version 1). The song is principally structured as a duet for that film-within-film featuring the leads (Madhubala in a guest appearance) while masterfully cutting back to real-life to the locally honeymooning (!) couple, with Anandan showing off some his histrionics to his new wife.
The setting seems to be from the story of Shakuntala, with Dushyanta riding into the ashram to encounter the dazzling damsel (the famous Raja Ravi Varma pose is elegantly referenced in one of the dance poses).
the music, the playback
A.R.Rahman tuned an exquisite Carnatic classical based song for 'Narumugaiye' using the traditional mridangam, ghaTam, violins and veeNai (if I recognise it correctly). (It would surprise some who saw him merely as a pop musician.) The song blends in wonderfully with the visuals and the lyrics, and is one of the great melodies of the Rahman catalogue.
The choice of the playback singers was particularly of interest. Unnikrishnan and Bombay Jayashri, both classical singers of some repute, gave their voices to this song. Unnikrishnan had already made a stunning debut (for Rahman), winning a National Award for "ennavaLe" (Kadhalan) and "uyirum niiye" (Pavithra) a couple of years ago. Bombay Jayashri was the bigger surprise packet - she was well-known in the Carnatic music circuit for a while for being one of the best singers from the younger generation, and this was a big step in terms of more commercial fame (of course, she became much more famous for 'Vaseegara' (Minnale)).
In the early days of TFM, the participation of classical singers in playback was a fairly common occurrence, for after all, they were the experts. The likes of M.S.Subbulakshmi (famously, an actress too) and M.L.Vasanthakumari (whose daughter Srividya would later join films) were associated with several big numbers. The parting of ways and the snobbery associated against film music would happen later given the nature of the productions (though in recent times, we have seen more practising Carnatic singers take to the mike for non-classical times in a long time - of course, K.J.Yesudas was a different phenomenon). The songs of that point were heavily influenced by the classical tradition, which is why the choice of the playback singers for this song was so relevant.
Vairamuthu's lyrics invoked the now highly abstruse classical (Sangam) Tamil, in which much of the great classics of Tamil literature were written. It's far removed from the common forms of Tamil these days, which makes it hard for people like me with no formal schooling in Tamil to follow. Vairamuthu made some direct references to some of the great works, using phrases from them and thus evoking the classic age. The result was a very fine marriage between words, visuals and music.
Madhubala showing off her bharatanatyam skills as the fragile Shakuntala watched by the warrior Dushyanta, surrounded by deer, waterfalls and such mytho-historical knick-knacks forms the "movie" side of the song. This is shot in Black and White with the old-fashioned stylistic dissolves and spiral wipes that establish the "period" of the visuals very well. The real-life romance is in colour, in much more plebian surroundings with the smitten Anandan illustrating to his bride some of the movie action - a contrast that is great to watch and is excellent for character development. Santosh Sivan's camera begins to have a dynamism of its own in these songs.
Useful web references
1. A post on Naadodi that gives some literary context to the lines "aTTrrai thi.ngaL avveNNilavil"
2. A typically passionate TFM forum discussion on bringing literature to the common man via film songs
3. Another TFM forum thread about the merits of Vairamuthu's references
4. Lyrics of the song (in Tamil only, untranslated)
5. Lyrics with English translation
6. Bombay Jayashri's website
7. Unnikrishnan bio
Nov 3, 2006
Dearly "Departed"This one made me smile:
And, like Cindy Crawford's face, it's all about the mole.(from Raja Sen's Rediff review of "The Departed")
I know just enough about the film to get the joke, but since I'm planning to watch the movie (just one show in some multiplexes - shocking!), I didn't read the rest of the review. That's for immediately after.
Chal meri lunar moduleMany years ago, a friend told me a fairly cheesy joke (so bad that we giggled like some of our female classmates). It went (with due apologies to "Pakeezah"):
Starry-eyed Lady: "Chalo dildaar chalo, chaan.d ke paar chalo"But thanks to ISRO, it should soon be possible. And if you don't like the word "gaganaut" ('gaga' and 'nut' in the same word makes me queasy), let them know. Perhaps, like VJTI and BMC, you shouldn't fiddle around too much with the source. Simply call it "astra-naut". All of us who were raised on "air-raising" Ramanand-Sagar special effects for weaponry will agree.
Unimpressed Gent: "Rocket teraa baap laayegaa?"