Saturday, 31 December 2011

OUR HINDI FILM SONGS OF THE YEAR 2011

We feature our favourite Hindi film songs of the year of the 2011,  THE BOOM BOX IN THE PROJECTION ROOM . The exact link is here: The Hindi Film Songs of 2011

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Stories Retold as Twitterature

Yes, people, we have been retelling our favourite stories through the limitations of Twitter, apart from other spontaneous stuff and so far it has certainly been enjoyable. We shall carry the complete versions of these retold stories in the blog soon. For the stories and the other stuff we do there you can follow us on Snehith Kumbla on Twitter

Monday, 12 December 2011

Our Haiku in the Dec 2011 World Haiku Review

The haiku tribe of the World Haiku Review, also the part of the World Haiku Club have accepted couple of our stuff in the December 2011 issue.

Published online on a quarterly basis, the review has again some spellbinding stuff from the makers of haiku from all over the world.

Here is the link to the main page of the December 2011 issue: World Haiku Review December2011

Here is the link to the page containing my haiku for December 2011: Page 1 of December 2011 issue 

*
It was after a very inspiring Haiku workshop held in November 2010 in Pune, that first got me in to this form of poetry. Our first haiku appeared in WHR in the January 2011 edition:
WHR Jan 2011 (page 1)
WHR Jan 2011 (page 2)
WHR Jan 2011 (page 3)

This was followed by couple of them in WHR August 2011 and a solitary one in The Heron's Nest:
Heron's Nest June 2011
WHR Aug 2011 (page 1)
WHR Aug 2011 (page 2)

Friday, 9 December 2011

Idling on Twitter

We celebrate the art of loafing around and the joy of having the time to waste, betwixt the slave routine. Hail the idlers! Hail the loafers! Also we celebrate this essence all week at our twitter page, whenever we feel like it and not by compulsion, we shall post stuff....follow us on Snehith K on Twitter 

Today we talk about the 50 exact days we spent without anything resembling a job and how much learning was packed in those unfolding, uncertain days.     

Friday, 21 October 2011

A Tale of a King

Shot in May 2009 for no particular purpose, this youtube video documents my friend Ashish narrating a historical story in his own inimitable style. Click this link to view video - Sinhgad Productions Present - Chatrapati Shivaji Escapes  

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

THE WINDOW PROJECT on YOUTUBE

A part of the series of photographs that featured on this blog as part of THE WINDOW PROJECT is now uploaded as a slide show at youtube.com. A Shankar Mahadevan song plays as the audio for now.
So, headphones recommended. Click this link to view the same: Snehith's THE WINDOW PROJECT  

Monday, 10 October 2011

Jagjit Singh's Earth Visit Concludes

In his early twenties
Blessed with an angel voice and realizing the gifts accorded to him, Jagjit Singh (1941-2011) paved his own path between the trees. Be it rendering a unique soft pattern to ghazals, adding depth to devotional songs and occasionally, but memorably, composing and singing for Hindi films. His entire oeuvre though was at lustrous display at his live shows, where he surprised audiences with humourous Punjabi numbers, betwixt the ghazal play list. Another creative addition was how he rendered, notably, his most popular songs with varied deft touches at each show, such that no single rendition would be the same....More celebration and stories on this songbird soon. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Movie Review: Mausam: No smoke, no fire



There is something mournful in a movie that is made sincerely and then falls flat due to its lofty ambitions. Sometime in 1992, Harry (Shahid Kapoor) or Harinder is awaiting a life-changing letter in his remote Punjab village. Apart from idling with his village friends, borrowing cars to race with trains, and having an empty purse, Harry falls for the 'new Kashmiri girl in the village' Aayat (Sonam Kapoor) at first sight. Soon, his bicycle chain starts slipping off near the girl's abode. Hand-written notes are exchanged quietly, dipped in water as evidence disposal, and finally, caught in a downpour, the girl promises to tell him,"Tomorrow." Only, the girl has left the village in haste with her family, as Harry hauntingly looks at a disappearing train. These initial parts of the movie are all charm and simplicity.

Cut to, suddenly, 1999, Scotland. Aayat at the Royal Academy of Dance. Harry is a moustached pilot visiting on a pilot exchange program. Huh? The lovers meet and just can't act like lovers. In one jarring scene, in which, we are subjected to a telepathic conversation, to another where a cigarrate lighter is excuse for a forced retro take on the classic Hum Dono song Abhi na jao... 

In rising exasperation of the story's disregard for time lines and redundancies, Harry misses a marriage-possible meeting because he is summoned for the Kargil war. He doesn't inform Aayat for dramatic effect rather than logic. Thus is the period until INTERMISSION survived.

Part two. Harry calls up Aayat, but the forced turn of circumstances, wouldn't let the lovers communicate. Aayat is a travel freak now, moving from Scotland to Punjab to Ahmedabad to Scotland and back again to Ahmedabad with a sore face. The air force objected bombing scene is a sitting duck, like the hand video games of the nineties. By the time Harry's left arm is paralysed, I have to leave the theatre. I never thought I would walk out of a cinema theatre midway, ever. It is easier if you are at Westend. Of course, you don't get a movie as flawed each time. Only a bad movie made with confidence and a bloated budget, nowadays; a gem, sometimes.

So...
Mausam is slayed by a debutant director's ambition, that the story had to cover so many geographical settings and event references. That every historical event from 1992 to present had to adversely affect the lovers' lives is just too sad to be true. That James Cameron kept it spectacularly simple in Titanic (1997) - A ship, two lovers and an iceberg. Also the absence, of any hint of fire and passion between Shahid and Sonam only adds to the misery.

If all the venom is well-deserved, Pankaj Kapur (An amazing actor, no doubt, Director? Ahhh?) does have the promise of telling a good, simple tale. He shows his stuff, especially in the village scenes. We say, try again. Something simpler please.

Music stays
Pritam's music and Irshad Kamil's lyrics are a saving grace, an odd contrast to the cracked proceedings. Some arresting moments when the Hans Raj Hans rendered Ik tu hi tu hi tu hits the screen.      

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

whip worship

lashing himself for god,
lashing himself for money,
no money like godmoney

effects that are purely aural,
you may call it blasphemy,
they may call it survival

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

IT Bombshell Exaggerated

the moon has burned through the
air-conditioning,
all the zombies have collected
at the right wing,
for there comes the famed of all
the thunder thighs,
a cell phone always to her ear
attached,
we suspect she has had a dreaded
transplant

yesterday, ninety freaks were refused
her facebook friendship,
two had fainted when she had looked
away from her book,
even as the company's secret report
attributes,
the zero attrition to her herbal lipstick,
her looks

binoculars have been seized, spy cameras
dismantled,
the security TV employees are regularly
mishandled,
a thousand projects have set sail, for her
from Europe, USA,
and many marriages and careers destroyed, at
her one finger sway

now that finance minister has declared her
prominent,
and provided her with female security, all
exorbitant,
her resignation letter itself, is ample for
a recession,
now you know why the markets melted, the rupee
attracted derision

Monday, 19 September 2011

tame

a room grim faced,
school created silence,
fear nausea in the air,
waiting for the next order,
drowning in xerox copies,
lunch with unrecognisable dishes,
curvaceous angels of flesh,
rustle their beauty dust,
and by evening,
the cage is ready

Friday, 16 September 2011

Movie Review: Bol : Heart-rending despite hiccups


Even as a woman is condemned to be hanged in Pakistan, her last wish is to be allowed to tell her story to the world from the gallows. Even as newspaper reporters and the TV media collect below her, she begins her tale.

Somewhere in bustling Lahore, a Hakim (Manzar Sehbai) in want of a son forces his wife to give birth to seven daughters. After the eighth-born boy is discovered to be a hermaphrodite, the eldest daughter Zainub (Humaima Malik) decides that enough is enough, and has a vasectomy done on the mother. The tyrannical father, feeding the family on a dwindling income, is enraged at the turn of events. The fiery venom from the father’s mouth finds its answers in only Zainub, even as the Hakim interprets religion to suit his interests. The women are not allowed to leave the house, nor are they allowed to study. The neighbours try to secretly help, with the son allowed to venture out to earn from his passion for drawing, and tragedy follows. Repression has never done anyone any good.

Pakistani Director Shoaib Mansoor’s last release, the sincere Khuda Ke Liye (2007) had a genuine issue, and more so, does Bol. The proceedings could have had a tighter screenplay at instances, and there a few over-the-top moments, the effect in totality is devastating to a degree. The consequences of suppressing human freedom, the caged lives of woman, and the dreariness of a compromise-filled life is all brought to the surface. A must watch.

Clean Slate
Note has to be made of the performances, all up to the mark, with the famous singer Atif Aslam making it to the supporting cast. Again, as in Khuda Ke Liye, the soundtrack is clean and heart-felt, Indian Hindi film composers can certainly learn the importance of not mashing in western elements for the sake of sounding cool. The standouts and these are not the only ones – two Atif-Hadiqa duets Hona tha pyar and Kaho aaj bol do.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Movie Review: Mere Brother Ki Dulhan: Decent Humour


The commercial Hindi film romcom (romantic comedy) in the last two years, by default, has wealthy characters, thus sweeping aside with any monetary hurdles in the screenplay. London-based Luv (Ali Zafar) calls off a five-year relationship with his girlfriend, following an altercation. Fifteen minutes in to ‘singledom’ he calls up his younger sibling Kush (Imran Khan) in India, asking him to look for a suitable bride for an impromptu marriage.

Post the mildly amusing reference-filled title song, and rushing through a predictable unsuitable band of prospective brides (stupid, foolish and crazy in typical Hindi film treatment), the right match is finally found in Delhi. Only, the London-born Dimple (Katrina Kaif) is a former college mate of Kush, and as he remembers - rebellious, a beedi-smoker and alcohol 'binger'. None of this is revealed to the parents, as after a ten minute provocative (the movie’s best, original moments) video chat, Luv and Dimple assent to the wedding.

Even as both parties collect at Delhi for the engagement, Kush accompanies Dimple to fulfill her desire to live life to the fullest before the D-day. Even as the engagement takes place, Kush realizes that he is in love with Dimple. Inevitably, he declares his love to Dimple who, after a thundering slap, assents. The plot that Kush, his friends and Dimple hatch to turn the tables on the marriage forms the rest of the movie.

All sugar candy in the location, attire and scenery, the film picks up after a tepid laugh-miserly half-hour, but only just. The promised jokes come in a trickle; all the tribute paid to various Hindi films is sadly devoid of any wickedness. Thankfully, the story follows a linear path that keeps us interested. Imran Khan puts in a sincere performance. Katrina shows that if she is given a breezy, cheerful role minus complications, with an excuse to use her accented Hindi, she can act too. The screenplay overshadows Ali Zafar’s is a fresh performance, decent, we like it whenever he makes it to the screen. The supporting cast are all good, especially Kush’s friend. Dimple’s mentally challenged brother is a stereotype best avoided. A bearable one-time watch.

Musik-Shuzik
Sohail Sen’s soundtrack is standard Yashraj fare, all seen and done, from Sufi-wannabe songs like Dhunki (Neha Bhasin rocks, Katrina doesn’t emote as well) and Isq risk ( featuring the indefatigable Rahat Fateh Ali Khan again) , to the passables – Do dhaari talwar, Choomantar and Madhubala. We expected more after Sen’s sincere stuff for last year’s Khelien hum jee jaan se.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Our haiku in WHR

A couple of our haiku made it to the World Haiku Review August 2011 issue, three had made it to the January edition of the same. We are content to be part of this exclusive tribe of writers. Here is the link to the main site: World Haiku Review Main Page 

Our haiku can be viewed, among many others, at:
Page 1 August 2011 WHR
Page 2 August 2011 WHR

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Movie Review: Boduguard: Stale Formula



The three consecutive Eid releases of films starring Salman Khan Wanted (2009), Dabangg (2010) and Bodyguard have a pattern to it. It’s a template that has finally got tiresome, the lack of creative control of the directors is certainly telling in all three instances. Khan’s introduction with exaggerated fight sequences, followed by a song visual extolling the hero, followed by a semblance of a story packed with more fight sequences and songs, the Khan shirt unravelling to profile the famous topless body and a happy villain-killing ending. While Wanted was a new experience in its presentation for the Hindi film audience, Dabangg had the spark of originality, a celebration of formula beneath its redundancy.  No such welcome escapism here.

Lovely Singh (Salman Khan) is a bodyguard. As the loose narrative unfolds, Lovely’s dad, also a bodyguard, succumbs to a road accident, while his pregnant mother is saved by a wealthy landlord Sartaj (Raj Babbar). Years later, Lovely is called by Sartaj to guard his daughter Divya (Kareena Kapoor) at her college. There is no back-story on why Sartaj or the daughter is targeted. Anyway, Lovely’s constant presence irritates Divya to such an extent; she pretends to be a girl in love with Lovely. The medium is the cell phone and an unidentifiable number. Events so unfold that Divya falls in love with Lovely, but for some unfathomable reason, she doesn’t reveal her identity. The villains are mere props, a brief but sturdy turn by Aditya Pancholi needed some space. The final thirty minutes go horribly wrong in its blending of love, betrayal and sacrifice. These parts needed flesh and reason and the script provides no explanation to the bizarre happenings. 

As for Salman flying from one moving local train to another one's rooftop, his power punches and bone crunches, we have seen enough. They are like a much-repeated product advertisement, not a film. Salman is earnest, his meeting scene at the garden is one of his best acted parts. Kareena plays her part well, the weak characterisation lets her down. The supporting cast has little to do. The comic attempts are an irritant.


Rarities
An obese man sports a t-shirt – SIX PACK COMING SOON. The other moment - Rahat Fateh Ali Khan lifts an average Himesh Reshammiya composition with his rendition of Teri Meri Meri Teri. Pritam’s guest composed I love you is a pleasure to listen, zestfully sung by Ash King and Clinton Cerejo.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Movie Review: Not a Love Story: Real to Reel Turmoil


Ram Gopal Varma’s most engaging and path breaking films, notably Satya (1998) and Company (2002) were inspired from real-life incidents. We didn’t mind gangsters adding up the body count then. The main protagonists, played up as anti-heroes, got little sympathy that when they got the bullet, it was as if they deserved it. Then there was always a good wrap of fiction and tight story-telling in these stories. We could easily distance ourselves from comparison to a Dawood Ibrahim or a Chota Rajan. Disassociated, yet engaged in the myth of the characters.

“What did happen?” is a tantalizing question. RGV’s latest, though said to be only ‘inspired’ by the 2008 Grover murder case, can’t distance itself from what really happened. Robin (Deepak Dobriyal) and Anushka (Mahie Gill) are lovers in a nameless city. The girl aspires to be a Hindi film heroine, and a possessive Robin finally relents, and Anushka leaves for Mumbai. She lives alone in her fifth storey flat, constantly been at auditions, meeting similarly zealous friends and talking to Robin on the cell phone. Her hopes for a lead part are dashed again and again, until Ashish (Ajay Gehl); a film producer finalizes her for an upcoming movie. Elated, Anushka informs Robin and parties all night with Ashish and her friends. A turn of events leads to a one-night stand between Ashish and Anushka at her flat. Meanwhile Robin, getting no response of his calls, arrives the next morning to surprise Anushka. Even as a tense, disturbed Anushka fumbles at the door, in a burst of realization and fury, Robin ending up killing a naked Ashish with a knife. The story then traces the disposal of the body, the discovery and the court trail of the doomed lovers.

Voyeuristic camera works  
The main shutter is the script which imitates real incidents faithfully, and displays what most of the audience mostly knows through TV news channels and newspapers. So it boils down to the treatment and intensity. The hand held camera is effective in parts, especially in scenes to convey Anushka’s shock. It is also overtly voyeuristic in Anushka’s close ups. Cleavage and thighs on your face to convey a woman’s allure? The Sandeep Chowta background score has its moments early in the movie - Ominous grating bits of the local train, fluttering pigeons, the extended door bell ring and the fish bowl gurgle. The court trail part is cliched and the end goes awry, making odd martyrs out of the doomed lovers, bordering on disgust.

The performances of Dobriyal, Gill and Zakir Hussain as the grim cop do salvage some scenes. Not A Love Story may be rebellious stuff; but its purpose is nowhere to be seen. On introspection; RGV could have used elements like the possessive lover and the film world to make probably, a less-gruesome, more insightful fictionized story. To sum up; we, the cinema goer, forgive RGV this one in memory of all the delicious cuts he has given before. Hey, we didn’t mind the two-part Rakht Charitra (2010) as much.

Fitting in
As a veiled Anushka is led to a police jeep, hounded by media persons, the soundtrack finally finds its apt moment.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Crows and other travels

Crows gather on the rusted tin barrier of an upcoming construction, even as rain looms... (13/8)
At a men's loo en route Mahabaleshwar (14/1)
Another cup of tea at Hungercloud's engagement ceremony, Daund (14/8)

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Movie Review: Singham: Promoting Violence as Populist Culture (Yet Again)


Thankfully, this remake of the Tamil original Singam (2010) is loud and playful in its violence, that the grimness and coarseness of the act doesn't come through, as it did in, Anil Sharma's Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001) and similar 'body count' movies. Neither does it have the little spark (beneath the redundancy) that Anubhav Kashyap's Dabangg (2010) had.

You have seen it all before, the good cop, bad man act. In true Hindi film and South Indian 'hero is god' mode, Bajirao Singham (Ajay Devgn, good act) is a no-nonsense, ferocious police inspector of a village in the outskirts of the director's favourite setting - Goa. His nemesis is the corrupt, aspiring politician, Jaikanth Shikre (Prakash Raj, superb in the exaggerated tone of the film), with whom our hero has a series of face-offs that forms the bulk of the movie. The heroine (Kajal Agarwal) is more about filling the mandatory formula, than to do anything with the story.

So fantastic and comic-book style are the film's elements that Rohit Shetty could have well made a good cop spoof movie out of it. All it needed was little tweaks in the screenplay. Alas, such is not the case, and we are full of laughs - both intentional and otherwise.

Much of the film's flair comes from the Singham-Shikre confrontations, mostly devoid of action, instead packed with engaging, over-the-top dialogue. Raj gets some quaint, crazy lines, which he pulls off superbly well, a mercurial performance. The action has Shetty's four-wheeler fetish coming up again, more of them are crashed and banged in style. The bare-handed punches are tried, tired territory, Devgn's newly acquired six-pack body only adds to the fantasy of sending scoundrels flying, twisting and sliding all over and across the screen.

The soundtrack and background score (Umpteen Lion roars) add nothing to the movie, and finally, in totality, Singham is familiar Hindi violent-film zone that is enjoyable in the hero-villain interplay, its performances and its light comic scenes. Bearable, we say. If you are the mass audience, this is for you. Cinema lovers - Your call.    

Light Moment  
Shikre does a Rajnikanth imitation before a group of policemen.                           

Friday, 22 July 2011

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2: Listless, Dull End





Not even 3D can elevate the dull proceedings of the last Harry Potter movie, filled as it is with prolonged dialogues and tepid action. There is not a single memorable moment of cinematic magic - the dark, grey environs only adds to the story's too stretched elasticity. On summing up, the movie series lost its mojo somewhere in the fourth part and never found it again. The main characters die without any noticeable effect on the audience, neither does Voldermort's presence evoke any sense of danger. Harry Potter did start as an engaging story for children, and, we can say - never grew up well. Strictly for die-hard Potter fans.                                          

Movie Review: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara: Dimmed by the Casting Syndrome




Three friends, take off on a preplanned bachelor road trip across Spain. That they are conveniently rich enough to do so, ensures that the few hurdles set in the screenplay are purely psychological, except for an incident-free night in a Spanish jail. Not an inch of the resplendent attire is out of place, the cars, and modern-life luxuries all make good Hindi-film sugar candy. If only they had more money-spending troubles, a nightmarish trip, after all it is a movie...Still, beneath the elite-audience stuff, ZNMD has its moments.   
     
Arjun (Hrithik Roshan, refreshing negative shades) is a workaholic, tech-addicted stockbroker working in London. Imran (Farhan Akhtar, great coming timing) is a copywriter, with a great sense of humour, dealing with the news that his biological father is someone else. Kabir (Abhay Deol, good one) is grappling with his impending marriage to Natasha (Kalki Koechlin, deserves a bigger role). Laila (Katrina Kaif, one of her most assured performances) plays a diving instructor, who happens to meet our bachelor trio in Spain.    

Compared to Zoya's daring debut Luck By Chance, this is a much-trodden territory of living life to the fullest/coming of age film. While, there is nothing landmark in this Dil Chahta Hai - Deja Vu, the well-defined characterizations, and the fact that we are never tired of the proceedings, makes it a good one-time watch.The sparkling one-liners, the inevitable life lessons ("A person should be in a box when he is dead"), do not seem preachy, a relief. The performances and rich-boy banter between the three male protagonists are a big plus. The challenge sequences of skydiving, underwater-diving and the famed Pamplona bull-run keep us glued. The high-profile cast probably limited the director's ability to experiment, for there are steps taken to ensure that each of the five main characters have at least one key scene to showcase their acting, sometimes, at the expense of stretching the story. Don't expect a diversion, and you shall be happy.

Music adds zing   
Shankar-Ehsan-Loy have a peppy, sometimes one-track (all percussion & western soft-rock elements)  soundtrack to add able decor to the proceedings.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Movie Review: Delhi Belly: Romping Ribaldry Works!


Do words come out more spontaneously, when one were to write about a movie one enjoys? Probably - YES, for all ‘good movies’ appeals to our certain senses, likes and perceptions that we have developed over the years?

Story
If you draw an outline, Delhi Belly’s story has been told in many unimaginative, repetitive ways before in Hindi and regional cinema. A portly man from Russia alights at Delhi Airport and hands over a package meant to be smuggled through an air-hostess Sonia (Shenaz Tresurywala), who is unaware of its contents. She passes on the delivery responsibilities to her fiancee Tashi (Imran Khan), a bored newspaper reporter, who passes it on to his obese photographer room mate (Kunaal Roy Kapur). The photographer, devastated with painful bowel movement, passes the package to his caricature making room mate (Vir Das), who gets the destinations mixed up. Then come the goons, missing diamonds, retrieval and chase, the police, a ‘lesbian’ sequence, and finally an old scooter crashing down.  It is the stench-funny contents within this framework that the film is endearingly disgusting. 

Execution
This brilliantly held-together trashy tale (Writer Credit- Akshay Verma) of swear words, ribaldry and mistaken identities, fires all cylinders in its 96-minute telling of a story that is the most daring in its dirt content. There are orgasmic moments - fake and real, cracked ceilings, bosom-honks, human excrement (with exclusive booming sound design) and a lovelorn, gun-wielding lover. The swear words are just not there as props, nor are the toilet jokes, all wound deep in the story-characters cobweb, giving it reason to be shouted out loud and clear. With hardly a plot thread out of place in this deftly built jigsaw puzzle, it is the open yet controlled black, black humour that gets us through. Aamir Khan Productions took a risk and it paid off. Director Abhinay Deo’s second release, post the Game debacle, proves he has it in him, given inspiring content to work with.  

Ram Sampath’s impressive evolutionary music (Hindi Soundtrack of the Year, so far) - the very skin of the movie, is effectively used as part of the background score snatches, rather than the common-place whole end-to-end spool, as we see in mainstream Hindi films. Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics deserve more than a mention. The wicked genius of DK Bose, which no censor board could touch, and how a lady’s footwear (Sandal, sandal, sandal…) makes comic verse. 

Hinglish or Hindi
The original Hinglish version is where the cosmopolitan Delhi city characters fit in to place. Having said that, yet to watch the 100% Hindi version. Yes, the film is tagged ADULTS ONLY, a very wise tag. It also means you need parents with a sense of humour from outer space to tag them along to this one. Do so at your own peril. The same goes for sensitive females too, it is a very male-world movie, no kidding, no chauvinism here.
  
Classic Touch
A burqa clad man picks up a glass of water from a tray and pours the contents to the drawn veil, and places the emptied glass on the table, even as a policeman seated beside him glances, bewildered.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A photographer's envy




No special effects, no computer treatment, and we are still investigating how did the pictures come so good on a Sunday morning (10th July 2011), en route to the rejuvenating waterfalls of Mulshi. The scenario was thus - Nitin and I are on our respective bikes, with Wandercloud riding pillion to Nitin. So, at one 'moments of moments', Wandercloud turns a little on his seat and turns the camera in his hand my way. I am trailing about twenty feet away when Wandercloud clicks twice. Later when we check the photos, the green tinge  astonishes us no end. How the hell did it come in to the picture? We are still looking for answers.                        

Friday, 1 July 2011

watchman, watchdog

For wading through the umpteen hours of boredom and inertness, the dog is a constant companion for the watchman through his lonely shifts, even as students pass by, filling in him, years of invisibility...  


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Documentary Review: Fire in Babylon: West Indian Cricket ONLY!


Now, should a documentary take sides, by no really doing so, but just not presenting the alternate available information, in order to favour its focal point? Fire in Babylon is a 2010 documentary on the rise of the West Indian team during the 1970's the 1980's. Relying heavily on footage and player interviews, there is certainly a powerful story to tell on how Clive Lloyd led a legendary team through racial discrimination, defeats, been grossly underpaid, to finally emerge as a feared and invincible test team. The domination was such that no team could defeat the West Indies in tests between 1980 and 1994.

This is also the story of life-threatening bowling, helmet-less batsmen, the emergence of Bob Marley and the Wailers, broken faces and sheer courage. A steal for Cricket history lovers, the only grouse is the gaping absence of interviews of Tony Greig, Greg Chappel, Ian Botham, Sunil Gavaskar and other cricketing counterparts. The only talk we get is that of the West Indian players. With words like 'white dominance', 'black wash', 'negro slaves' been bandied about, surely we would have liked to know how the counterparts saw this dominance. What was it to face Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Colin Croft? Nobody tells us.

This otherwise compelling documentary thus comes across as a motivational video for the present depleted WI team, in parts. Still, for the sheer magnitude of what the West Indian Cricket Team achieved, Fire in Babylon is a good, entertaining add-on to your knowledge.  

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda 2 (3D): Good popcorn entertainment



Still overweight, cuddly and clueless, Po (again, an endearing voice over by Jack Black) and the furious five face a new challenge from an evil white Peacock Shen (Gary Oldman), who is hell-bent on conquering China and  destroying Kung Fu forever. The bringing in of 3D, adds leverage to the action sequences, and the consistent humour keeps the proceedings breezy.

In 90-odd minutes, the sequel is a whirlwind ride, here we must thank the writers who ensure the gags keep coming. The voice overs are all spot on and the animation top class, if the film lacks anything, it is a little bit of heart, which the first one had ample servings of. This is a minor quibble, for all through Kung Fu Panda 2 there is hardly any loose end. Go for it, though 3D does add to the viewing experience, 2D viewing should be enjoyable too.               

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Another Haiku Published: The Heron's Nest (June 2011)

Hi all,
Got one of my haiku published in the June issue of The Heron's Nest. Most Haiku magazines, online or otherwise publish their selections every quarter. The link to my page along with many other Haiku writers can be seen at: Haiku, June 2011

The many wonderful, supple, concise haiku poems, including Pune's own Kala Ramesh in this June 2011 of the site can be read from the links available at:
The Heron's Nest (Home Page)

My earlier haiku publications at the World Haiku Review, January 2011 can be read at:
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

Thursday, 19 May 2011

HAUNTED 3D: Average spooks, unintentional laughs


As in Vikram Bhatt's earlier release 1920, the setting is a bungalow faraway from the city, with fog as blinding as vehicular smoke, the imprint of a hand, standard shrieks, severed heads and scampering feet. A woman's dead spirit is ravaged by the dead spirit of her perverse piano teacher, for 80 years and counting, until our dour-faced hero Rehaan (Maha Akshay, decent) arrives at the scene. With the ghost working a night-shift, Rehaan has to wait for darkness for the blood and scream show to take over. Unable to release the girl from the evil spirit's clutches, the hero is conveniently transported back in time to prevent the chain of events from occurring.

Things get predictably romantic with kisses exchanged, the ghost making some lustful attempts in invisibly tearing through a woman's old-fashioned attire. Thanks to 3D, there are a few rare heart-stopping moments. Also inclusive, is an abundance of unintentionally-funny moments of raw, average dialogues.
As in 1920, Bhatt exploits the sway of religion to build on beliefs, symbolisms and superstition. But then, ghosts, like our knowledge of death, been unknown territory, are allowed their liberties and free will. We only say, this could have been so much fun.

It is not that borrowed ideas from movies like The Entity, What Lies Beneath, is a deterrent. The weakness is the tepid, old wine script, that runs on similar lines. Laugh while you can, the scare moments are limited, and even if this is your first 3D movie, Haunted displays what not to do in 3D at several instances. You are advised to take someone along with a good sense of humour, if you are risking it. You will need the jokes to keep coming, a 3D screening on 70mm has no intervals, yet.

As to why we need to be frightened at the movies, and when did the whole thing begin, that is for another blog post.                             

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Movie Review: Shor in the City: Humour, characters work wonders



SHOR IN THE CITY is a juxtaposition of random sound and visuals of Mumbai during the sonorous Ganesh Festival,enlivened with frothy humourous dialogues, lively city-bred characters and some drama.The film mostly works in its humour bits. The drama is a little steely, with people getting away with murder umpteen times, without any police intervention.Thankfully, the director duo (US based, of Indian origin), do not take things too seriously and spin a fun yarn of three bumbling goons,a NRI, a budding cricketer, a newly-wed couple and a girl flooded with marriage proposals.

Tilak (Tushar Kapoor, adequate), Mandook (Pitobash Tripathy, standout) and Ramesh (Nikhil Dwivedi, good) steal a bestselling author's manuscript, Tilak plans to publish the same to boost his pirated book business. Abhay (Sendhil Ramamurthy, cast suitably), back in India to start a new business, is hounded by local goons for 'protection' money. Sawan (Sudeep Krishnan, fits the part), is a struggling cricketer hoping to make it to the Mumbai under-22 team.

The central idea, how the city's arrested, shunted spaces, the booming human population, the resultant noise, affects the way people act, is reflected vibrantly on the characters. A Lord Ganesh idol strapped to a car seat, couples kissing at Marine Drive in broad daylight, are couple of eye-catching vignettes.

The familiar Mumbai lingo finds its crazy outlet in Mandook's loafing character, and this is where we find the most engaging scenes. The female strands are as unconventional as they come, though it is never clear how Tilak's wife (Radhika Apte, arresting) ends up in wedlock. Yet, there is a bitter-sweet humour in how a young girl (Girija Oak) complains about her dry lips and later of a forcefully extracted ring.

There are not many complaints, as the directors seem to have achieved what they set out to achieve - an entertaining, irreverent tale of Mumbai, with both real and comic book style interpretations gelling in to the narration. Go for it, best watched on 70mm. 

Final spark
A 'professional' protester douses himself in kerosene and rants a mock-sacrifice monologue, then goes stiff in horror when a lighter flame is held before him.  

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Movie Review: I AM: Relevant, Lacking Punch



Although the four stories are all relevant and contemporary, I AM lacks the punch to take its audience on an edgy journey that the film could have been.The torch of promise is all there - in Afia's isolation and consequent decision to have a baby from a sperm donor, Megha's unwilling return to her former home in Kashmir, Abhimanyu's trauma of a nightmarish childhood and finally Omar's teasing homosexuality that has disastrous consequences for whoever crosses his path.

The performances are all inspiring, the stand outs been Anurag Kashyap's underplayed child abuser and Purab Kohli's nervous sperm donor. It is probably in the brief formats of the stories that the depth is missed. We never get to see Afia's life go full circle, only the abrupt end of her decision to stem a budding relation. Megha's agony is effectively understated in the use of an effective background score,the flashback is never shown, only heard, to subtle effect. Abhimanyu's story gets through, if not searingly, but with deft touches. Yet,the script here conveys the pain of abuse,and not the salvaging moment, as to, a solution. Omar's story is a more about the twist in the tale, rather than about targeting gays.Yet, even if the film succeeds in social awareness of the issues rather than cinematic, I AM is still worth a watch for its sincerity.