Thursday, August 27, 2009

Aifi aifi..kaifi kaifi film banaayi hai Vishal ne baba!!

This is one film that seems to have set the blogosphere ablaze and rightly so. Several more accomplished reviewers have penned their thoughts on it before me and these are some of the ones that I really like.
Everyone I know has watched this by now, so there's no question of spoilers any more. I myself am very proud to have watched it twice- a rare feat for me that even the HUSBAND must doff his hat to!
I liked, no loved Kaminey because-
This is unabashedly about the brotherhood of the Kaminey-(wonder whether rascals/scoundrels would ever have the same wretched feel as saying 'Kaminey' does). Even your own heart betrays you ,as Gulzar Sa'ab (whose talent and simplicity never ceases to amaze me ) puts it- 'ek dil se dosti thi..yeh huzoor bhi kaminey'.Finally a Hindi film that thrives on the grey and possibly black in all of us- Sweetie, played by Priyanka Chopra pulls a fast one (pretends to stammer) to catch Guddu's eye and subsequently win his heart and coax him to practice unsafe sex!
Guddu, who is incapable of defending himself from the goons sent by Sweety's brother Bhope Bhau, manages to notice hat Sweety does not really stammer in course of the high voltage drama and action and accuse her of dishonest and betrayal when she has just saved his life, he is willing to dabble in some 'coke' trading when push comes to shove while advocating truth and honesty all along, Bhope bhau would gladly change his party, political allegiances and identity for ten crores and trade his sister for a generous contribution to his party fund by a certain builder! You get the drift...
However, Vishal's signature touch lies in giving each of these grey/black characters a redeeming feature which ensures that none of them remain cardboard cut outs, but come across as real with flaws, warts and all. So, Charlie, Guddu's evil twin , a small time crook in a horserace fixing gang wants a mere ten lakhs even though the 'cocaine' hes chanced upon is worth ten crores. Why? He wants to be a bookie and it costs just that much to set up a booking counter. Endearing, eh?
'Kaminey' takes the depiction of ironies to an altogether different level, pretty much the way our lives do. While, Guddu is propagating the message of safety loud, clear and musically as part of an ANTI-AIDS campaign by his NGO, his girlfriend sweetie announces that she is pregnant because their practices were not so 'safe', and to top it, this happened despite her tall claims of being a home science topper who was over confident that she would be 'safe' on that day.
Bhope Bhau's political career is based on the 'Maharashtra for Marathis' ideology, and at the pinnacle of his success (as his sidekick says- 'dus saal lag gaye bhau kalikh saaf karte karte.. phir mila interview TV pe live'), his sister Sweetie marries Sharma ji (flawless performance by Shahid Kapoor as the do-gooder, keep it safe and simple Guddu) from Barabanki!
When corrupt cop Lobo questions Guddu (mistaken to be Charlie)
This is retro with a twist in a way seldom attempted before in Hindi cinema. Vishal takes the classic twin formula (bachpan mein bichchde hue judvaa bhai), gives it a twist in the form of their individual quirks- one stammers and the other lisps his 's' es to 'f's ('f' ko 'f' bolta hai), one is good and has his trajectory planned out with defnite timelines for sex, marriage, honeymoon while the other is a rookie , currently small time with aspirations of becoming a big bookie and lives by the maxim that life gives you two choices- shortcut and chchota shortcut and you are what you are based on the road you leave, not the one you take! Now add to this a trio of eccentric Bengali brothers(Charlie's gang), a spunky, gritty Marathi mulgi portrayed par excellence by Priyanka Chopra(Sweetie- Guddu's girlfriend), corrupt customs officials, Bhope bhau and his Marathi political gang, Tashi- the north eastern drug warlord and his allies from Angola , a guitar with cocaine worth ten crores and then let all of these people's paths cross each other overnight in Mumbai ending with a fiery climax, guns blazing, blood and gore, emotions, drama, love, blackmail, finally reuniting the estranged brothers. What you get is this smart caper 'Kaminey'. I don't care whether this was inspired by Tarantino or Guy Ritchie, coz Vishal himself is inspiring enough for me- all his films so far have been refreshingly different(Makdee, Maqbool, Omkara, Blue Umbrella), he is as great a composer as he is a singer, the Vishal Gulzar chemistry is sheer magic right from the Maachis days and I could go on and on..

Watch 'Kaminey' for all these reasons and a few more.
This is the best repertoire of supporting actors that Ive seen in quite some time , apart from Dilli 6
- the new Bengali actor as Mikhail, the coke sniffing youngest brother in the Bengali gang is superb, so is Amol Gupte as Bhope Bhau, Tenzing Nima as Tashi to name a few.
This is clearly a coming -of -age performance by Shahid whom I would have been ready to bet my money on since his first film , but the poor fellow has had a run of bad luck for far too long , not to mention the unnecessary liason with Kareena Kapoor- whose Geet overshadowed Shahid's far more mature and controlled performance of Aditya in Jab we Met.
I loved Priyanka's portrayal of the street smart Marathi mulgi who organizes her own wedding , honeymoon with gusto amidst and despite threats from her brother and his gang. Her Marathi sounds authentic enough and the mannerisms are real and endearing- so her 'aai shapaths' and 'shee baba' s succeed in places that Aishwarya's very affected 'eesh' did not in Devdas.
As it happens in real life, your Marathi/ Bengali neighbour never bothers to translate his phrases for you-neither does Vishal and just like in real life, you do get the gist!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

All my bags are packed ,Im ready to go

I hope to see you,
I hope to hear the magic words,
Instead I see boxes everywhere,
Brown, straight, tilted, overweight, half full and half empty
Interesting how these boxes are filled every time something else is emptied,
Like life in a city much loved and lived in
or life beyond a relationship much longed for
The last time I put stuff inside boxes, I boxed other stuff out of my head
Stuff like 'one needs a professional identity for sustenance' or that 'indefinite sabbaticals are hazardous to the body and soul'
This time as I stuff them
I wonder if my insides have been emptied out already and I can feel nothing no more

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Self Promotion

  • I find it amusing how any kind of endorsement seems like an ego boost- I think it is the 'good student' mindset within me that I try very hard to repress .
    I enrolled myself on Indiblogger and the mere approval is making me jump with joy- I must be the epitome of approval seeking behaviour coz it extends to communities in the virtual world as well!!
    This seems like a good opportunity to talk about why I blog and why I will continue..
    I entered the blogosphere inspired by some fantastic bloggers and their pots, and finding myself wanting to say more than I would have posted on their 'comments' space about the same as well as other things.
    After having debated endlessly with myself about 'looking bad'(in my head, my virtual identities needed to stand out and look good as well) as I assumed the following-

  • I am incapable of consistency in all my pastimes, which would mean that my postings would be too few, too erratic..

  • Blogging under my real name has the potential danger of coming in the way of writing what I might really want to write about my life and the people in least every once in a while

  • Who would want to read a blog comprising of postings on eclectic interests and half baked opinions on so many things under the sun ..where the mood, tone, form of writing would constantly vary?

However, as braved what i imagined would be akin to being a laughing stock and took the plunge, I realised that I was only blogging to be heard and the fact that so many people actually stopped by to read my writings (hey, silent readers- please lave comment and criticisms and witticisms or whatever you can-its like leaving foot marks in a house that you visited), would be reason enough to say whatever it is that I feel like saying..

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (nothing to do with Kundera)

Get up in the morning and immediately get depressed.

Reason being? 'I have nothing to do today'.Now, this is as close to the truth as pink is to black, since you have the dishes, a gourmand appetitie to satiate (your own that is), a choice between the vacuuming/ doing the laundry or cleaning some corner of the house that is long overdue (and thanks to procrastination, its usually more than just one of the above), not to mention a plethora of 'Hello xxx... im new to the city and would like to meet you for an informational meeting' mails that have to be written everyday..

So, there, the first lie has been busted. The result- you have no right to get depressed.

True to your Cribber-self, you immediately move to the nest big question- 'ok, I have lots to do, so where do I start'?

Start with a cuppa 'chai'- but its not just a cup. In the quest for a life less ordinary, you have effortlessly complicated every single thing- so on one hand there are multiple options and on the other, multiple dilemmas. There is Earl Grey, Lemon grass green, Darjeeling thunderbolt (second flush), floral jasmine, rose tea, cinnamon tea...

So instead of brewing a pot, or boiling a few leaves and getting on with it, you ponder for several minutes to uderstand what 'tea' type you might be for the day.

The blues? hmmm..nothing better than the invigorating smell of cinnamon.

Feeling hopeful? Feel like you could get a lot of work done today? This invariably means you might want to opt for something green, lemon grass.
Feel adventurous? Floral jasmine..a whiff of fresh jasmine infused into the sanitised air of the apartment- no room freshener required after that.This could go on..but you get the general drift.

By now, your day is either off to a flying start and you feel upbeat with that cup and your choice of brew or you could begin to ponder once again about those existential questions- "Who am I? What am I doing here? What is it that I was meant to do in life"? A wise friend of mine calls it mind-fucking and mind-fucking it is except that you are really the one getting fucked in the process. Imagine - you are on the patio of a very high floor of a highrise, looking down at the cars that resemble multicoloured matchboxes, the hills on one side, and a panoramic view of the town on the other, and all that you can think of is that this is one more day without a mission. Moreover, this is despite the fact that you are not too sureof your mission in life anyway.How fucked do you have to be to feel that way?

So as the day moves on, so do you- from the table (used a work station ever so often), to the couch, to the bed and seldom would you like to bother your legs with having to hold your body weight. Somewhere, between the re-runs of the shows that you have forced yourself to believe are the very source of your sustenance and the numerous updates of status messages on Facebook and google talk, that question rears up its ugly head again-"What have I really accomplished today''? If I were to be gone tomorrow, would i like it that on the last day of my life I did absolutely nothing of any consequence.

As you brood over this unanswerable question, the real thing hits you- What should I make for dinner today?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Apologies to the Hindi stalwarts- my vain attempt using the Hindi typewriter...

प्रेम कहानी में 'twist'

गुबली ने बोली एक सच्ची बात
गुली ने घुमाया उल्टा हाथ
कहता है ;यह बात कोई नयी नही’
जो तुम करते हो वोःसही नही
आख़िर दिल मेरा तोड़ोगे कितनी बार
हो चुका यह कमबख्त कब का तार-तार
कब तक सहता रहूँ मैं वार
क्यों मान लूँ करते हो तुम मुझ से प्यार

सोचा था हमने हमशा रहेंगे साथ
हमेशा में नही थी कोई 'टाइम लिमिट' की बात
फिर भी जब हुआ कोई तकरार
तुम ने किया मानने से इनकार
कहते रहे कोई बड़ी बात नही
तुम हो वही और मैं भी हूँ वहीँ
प्यार कर देता है हर मुश्किल को सही
पर चलते चलते बिछड़ गए हमारे रस्ते कहीं
तुम बढ़ चले और हम रह गए वहीँ
अब तुम हो कहीं और हम कहीं

उम्मीद है यह रास्ते अलग होने से पहले दोबारा मीलेन्गे
चाहत के यह सूखे फूल फिर से खिलेंगे...

Friday, August 7, 2009

An ode to intolerance

Thank you intolerance,
I know you are not exactly popular- perhaps far from it
No one sings you praises
Most would love to pretend that you never paid them a visit
The nobler among us pledge to overcome you
They write books condemning you
I know that you could cause much damage- killing for race, colour, creed,
And sometimes fathering a rather toxic, despicable breed

But on second thoughts, I’m glad that you are there
You have helped me escape fools and sycophants
You helped me invent lines other than ‘Oh so cute’ for infants
Thanks to you, I know that I may leave the room while Star Trek is on
And not forgive those whose deceit ushers a new low among moron(s)
You taught me to love a man without loving everything about him
You said it was ok to not pretend that mediocrity was just fine
Or to wish that the best things in the world were all mine

So here’s what I ask of you old friend,
Is there a way that we could both stay?
You keep a low profile, while I try to I stick it out?
You don’t lash out when they come to get you as so very often as they do,
While I master the art of concealing that like you as much as I do?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Imtiaz ji, you can do a little more ji..

I have already said a lot about 'Love, Aaj Kal' on Facebook and thoroughly enjoyed sparring with friends who had very convincing reasons to hate it,but perhaps on account of the extreme reactions it has generated , I want to say more.

The goods-

  1. It is an interesting way of attempting a movie which is purely a directorial venture- a love story across time with one common thread of 'how love conquers all in the end' while everything else has changes with time. According to the Director, love in the sepia tinted era was all about the heart while for Gen- X or is it Y coz you cant really place the 'now' in a definite historical context (the cities are too airbrushed, there is no explanation of the Golden Gate beyond it being a dream project for the protagonist who otherwise seems to be utterly incapable of focusing on any given thing at a particular point of time, Deepika's clothes are very Babli meets Priyanka Chopra in Dostana-esque, so as a viewer the 'Aaj' in the movie could be anywhere between the 90s to 2009), love is all about 'being practical'.'Humne kaam karna shuru kiya kyon ki pyaar ...settle hona tha aur tum apene kaam ko lekar itne serious ho ki pyaar ko jaane de rahe ho' mouths the kal ka hero Rishi Kapoor to aaj ka confused jawaan Saif.

  2. Saif gives a stupendous performance in this one- I prefer his confused, yet sassy smart- Alec'ish version of 'Jai' in this one to the more popular persona he played in Hum Tum. This one is a lot more real and far less annoying- he has really mastered the uber cool, carefully careless look of the urban, metrosexual male over Kal Ho Na Ho, Hum Tum,Salaam Namaste and now this. (As a compulsve digress er , I must say that my favourite Saif performances ever are Langda Tyagi in Omkara and Dil Chahta Hai) .A gem that I think only he could pull off is Saif asking Rishi Kapoor whos soulfully narrating his love story of yesteryears with a Harleen Kaur, how overwhelmed he was to suddenly see her at a gurudwara most unexpectedly- 'Aapko heart attack aa gaya hoga? aap ke jaise feeling wala aadmi''!!! His role as the young Sardar (Rishi Kapoor in his youth) is a refreshing change and the one that stands out as he competently switiches on screen personas from the modern metrosexual to the muscled, quiet but fuming , lovelorn Sardar struck by love at first sight .

  3. Im sorry people- I disagree with all of you who think Deepika is a mannequin who cannot act- I think it is an unfair bias that 'very good looking people' in our culture and (sigh), even filmdom have to deal with often. Ok, she's no Tabu but she holds her own as Meera Pandit- an independent woman in a very new age career (fresco restorer, was it?), who knows her mind (as her boyfriend adeptly remarks through outthe film - 'tum hamesha sahi baat bol deti hai jaaneman',) but takes a while to recognise that Jai is indeed the one made for her, even if she has to wed and bed a few Vikrams(Rahul Khanna, competent but fairly held back- this is his prototype on screen) on the way.. I totally agree with the directort hat there is a certain stillness(maybe serenity) about Deepika which is captivating. It never failsto amuse me that we would all rave about something similar in a Chitrangada Singh, coz shes dusky and earthy, but have very little sympathy for Deepika because she has gorgeous long legs, a pefect yet heartwarming smile and doe eyes. Too much for us lesser mortals to handle , eh?

  4. Rishi Kapoor- man, can the man ever go wrong? Clearly the most underrated actor of his generation- he scores again as the amicable, forever in love, restaurant owner/ chef in this one, whos the protagonist of the 'kal' segment of this double love story.

  5. The winner for me in this love saga is clearly the clever writing. The pace of the second half is superb, but I think that we could have done with a little more speed in the first half. Imtiaz scores again at what his becoming his specialty- 'the non- love-at-first sight genre'- a common thread for all his films so far, starting with Shaadi se Pehle. Clearly, our Director believes that love does not hit you the first time you meet the right person, bu grows on you, almost creeps up the alley slowly and steadily and you will meet a lot of Mr. Wrongs before figuring out that the one you thought was right for you is indeed your Mr. Right!!

  6. Kolkata has rarely looked as good on screen as in this one- the only film from recent times that managed a superior depiction would have to be Mani Ratnam's Yuva. The sepia, the houses with the 'gol' (round) verandahs, the rickshaws, the gullies(alleys) and the banyan clad chaiwallahs all look and feel very real.

The 'not- so goods'-

  1. Ok, I don't know of anyone who says stuff like 'pile on' or 'tumhara angle kya hai' . The attempt at penning contemporary lingo looks very contrived and rather unreal- makes an otherwise levelheaded film appear very 'wannabe' and we all know that the mantra to being cool is to 'not try too hard'.

  2. The 'break up' party , though a novel concept and I can imagine it might hold an aspirational value for many ,would never end the way it does in the movie. That hug between Jai an Meera would lead to a lot more action and post that night, none would continue with the 'break up' plan, at least not until the long distance relationship fails. Besides, I do think it is an oxymoron of sorts to have laptop, i-phone users of our generation seem so sceptical of a long distance relationship. Come on, we have trancontinental marriages and chemistry on the world wide web even among the 'aam junta/mango people' these days.

  3. My personal gratitude to anyone who would help us understand the Golden Gate project which is the goal of our protagonist's life coz the film does not reveal anything on that except that one usually has lattes and sandwiches while working in SF wearing very well tailored suits.

  4. Can we get rid of the 'pretty firang women who are easy to manoeuvre into the sack and want to see Delhi and Taj Mahal' stereotype please?

  5. Even as a sucker for love, I doubt whether Meera Pandits leave Vikrams for Jai's in real life - at least not till the marriage decays . This realisation , on the day after getting married while sitting on a 500 dollar a sheet kind of bed in a star resort, wearing a designer dress, that your heart actually pines for Jai is too - good- to be true.

  6. Baaad music- except for Chor Bazari, the songs are nothing to write home about. This has the worst music among all of Imtiaz's films so far(was it Pritam who did Jab we Met?), though I must applaud him for using Neerak Shridhar of Bombay Vikings fame so well, and Mohit Chauhan seriously needs to take a break from 'the one soulful song a movie' pattern that hes been following ever since-'Tum se hi Jab We met'- classic case of a good idea stretched beyond its goodness.

This is why it work for me by and large though- I believe in love, I believe that we all want to find and live with love, not necessarily die for it and I believe that the loveliest things about love are often the silliest, and the ones that don't make any sense.And I also think that much of this has not changed over the years...

oh, and another thing- the Director is a school senior of mine from Jamshedpur and Im going to be rooting for him all the way!!!

True to my state of utter joblessness, let me end with a completely pointless trivia- did you know that Harleen Kaur, who has apparently taken Bollywood by storm (I don't see why given that she could neither act nor dance) is actually a Brazilian model, Giselle Monteiro?

In which the goodbye came too soon after the first hello

You were never like the other ones
You managed to remain bare even after I had filled you up
You were obstinate from the start about needing a new colour
My magical earth-orange-and pink combo was never going to work with you
So I tried green and purple and blue
I cushioned you in lieu of curtains which you refused to adorn
I even forced a red. Nothing radical. Just a lamp- for us to eat under and for the colour to shine over
Since your unwieldy corners did not yield to sameness, I tried to highlight your differences
Every room had a different hue, every corner a different piece, and paintings were all asymmetrical
After I stocked my pots and pans, and struggled with fitting ceaseless clothes into spaceless closets
Stacked up the shoes, shoved in racks and boxes that I tried my best to make prettier and less ubiquitous
After I ensured that my favourite things stared me in the face everywhere I went or peeped out of blind corners to say hello
After I barely settled into the rhythm of cleaning and shining you..first every week and then ,well ..only when I felt like
When I had barely begun to appreciate how your dishwasher makes them look better than me
Or that I could double up the launderette as storage
Many a barbecue-in- patio dream shattered by limited stocks in your large unlimited stores
When I had barely begun to enjoy adding to you- a bookend here, a frame there,
That the time has come for you and me to part
To part ways, lives, time and continents
Farewell, my friend, till we meet again
I leave your wooden walls now for concrete and cement
I think I will miss your sounds of silence, for where I’m going, ears don’t ring- only phones and a million voices do
May you bring to the one I leave behind much joy, comfort, and peace
May he find in you what I couldn’t- time in a home that I would call my own...