Monday, January 26, 2009


I was given mine rather early on. So perhaps its harder to see that not everyone has been given theirs. 

Other things I'm trying to internalise:
- Anger is like taking a poison, and waiting for the other person to die. 
- An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
- When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.

Needless to say, knowing a thing and acting on it are two different things, and I'm still a long long way off from sainthood. or even its cousin, a good child,  respectful of elders. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

hmm , so this is a tough one, since I've been already heard so many very disparate ends of the story on this one.. where do I peg it? 

I think it was decent. If it had been an unheard of movie, made by some Indian director, which I'd seen unexpectedly while flicking channels, I'd have gone so far as to say, it was a good movie, with really good music, and a decent story. Kept a decent pace, however, it had its pathetic moments. As movies go, I'd say it was in fact, a rather "bollywood" movie, and anyone who knows me, knows that I don't mean that as a compliment. 

The problem of course is that we're no longer judging it in those circumstances, we're talking about a movie that's been hyped up beyond all measure, which lots of people have seen and formed strong opnions about, and which, rather surprisingly, has won a few awards and might win some more. Umm , ok, its a fine movie in lowered standards, and I can understand screenplay and music kudos, but best motion picture?? best director?? really ? 

ok, so firstly, I've seen too many really good hindi movies in the past 4-5 years, which no longer have even a passing resemblance to the formula bollywood model. And I no longer wish, as I did 10 years ago, that someone would make decent movies set in India, there are too many of those now, and most of them much better than this. 

Couple of grouses:
Fairytale endings - I've never been a fan of these, in books or movies. 
And I'm no longer inclined to make any excuses for silly sentimental boy "gets" girl ending.

The so called harsh reality - Just because a thing is "true", doesn't automatically mean that showing it in full glory makes for great cinema. eg. the slums. And, there are no easy "truths" anyway, and positioning everything as bad sad, and showing it as is, certainly didn't appeal to me.  
Sure child abuse happens, so did Monsoon Wedding show a long detailed shot of the uncle kissing the niece? Would that really have left even a tenth of the impact that the actual protrayal did? Was the point about child abuse, or about the fact that the hopeful message comes in the form of Naseer eventually banishing the said uncle? 
Sure the nazis might have pulled out gold filled teeth from the jews, but did Schindlers list have a long lingering shot of said truth? What it had was a bucketful of gold filled teeth placed in front of someone. Think and draw your conclusions. What it had was a hopeful ending of people having their gold filling removed to make a ring for Schindler. 
Anyway subtelity and leaving something for someone to ponder and chew over, was never bollywood style, and it isn't danny's either. Long lingering shots of the slums, the filth, the blinding, isn't my idea of elevated cinema, irrespective of who makes it. 

The optimism - I also have a serious issue with the tomtomming of the movie as one with a hopeful and optimistic message. I don't know if I'd really call it "optimism". The whole "it is written" just confirms the steretype of fatalism. I am a fatalist in some ways, but I don't think fatalism, when good things are fated to happen, is necessarily the same as optimism and hope. After all, a lot of evil is written as well. Speaking of "it is written" 

So, thats a long post for a movie that certainly didn't deserve such a long post. But in all fairness, I'm not sure if my usual short ," good movie, goes over the top in many places, but worth a watch"  would have sufficed for this one.  The previous line holds good, but only if you completely ignore all silly "best movie, best direction" things and forget that this is what a foreign director could come up with. I've consciously avoided the foreigners trying to portray India in a bad light debate, I think enough has been said about it. And by no means is this music Rehman's best, but you know what, the foreign awards can only come in a movie which confirms to foreign stereotypes. Guess thats ok, too, after all, I have better Indian Hindi movies to spend my money on. You can keep your 100 dollar bills, thank you, my real america. 

Friday, January 23, 2009

Oye lucky , lucky oye

delightful little movie, and yes, I can't deny it any longer, I'm totally completely absolutely in love with Abhay! 

And yes, if you haven't lived in Delhi for at least some time, chances are, you won't like it. They've picked up the nuances so well.. the mannerisms, the mindset, and of course the speech - same to same.

I loved the way it began and ended, with the take on the sansanikhez news. I also loved the way they've used the background score with frozen acts, with the constant refrain of oye lucky. Needless to say Paresh is amazing, as he usually is, in most of his roles. 

and yes, no moralising, no neat endings, life isn't like that after all, is it.. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ladies Coupe - Anita Nair

Was polished off today, thanks to the holiday. It was ok, nothing great. The story is sort about that good old done to death - "woman's search" for god knows what. Not much new there, but quite readable, and I liked the ending.

The thing I like about indians writing stories set in india though, is that, even if the writing and story themselves are mediocre, its easy to relate to them, sort of blend into the narrative. Something that just can't happen with stories set in foreign lands, for no matter how much of that culture I may artificially soak in, it never is part of me, the way references to til and jaggery, or AC 2 tier , or kanyakumari are. The whole food/dress/customs/media/outlook divide which is always there with the novels set elsewhere, disappears with these writers, and I really like that.

Hopefully , somewhere along the way there will be better literary matter too!

Monday, January 12, 2009

stupid patriarchal forms.

what is this whole thing about srimati / kumari thing ? the mrs/ miss thing? Why is my marital status supposed to be such a big deal, that it needs to be advertised even in my name? Isn't it time we stopped printing forms with those ridiculous options?

As if the whole surnames debate wasn't bad enough. no, i will NOT change surnames, i will not use mrs and srimati, i will NOT cover myself from head to toe with symbols of being owned by some man. I will not.

Early morning, stupid gratuity form to fill and i'm already pissed off. Whatever you do, you can't escape the patriarchal society.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Deevaron Ke Saye Mein - Amrita Preetam

quite liked this collection of stories that are more than stories. Another one read in hindi after a long time. More on this later.  

Poirot's Early Cases - Agatha Christie

Not a novel, but a collection of short stories. Was nice, but somehow I prefer the novels.


hmm case of writers block?? i just can't seem to string together 2 sentences to post these days! tried a few times and left drafts mid way. meanwhile books continue to be read and not reviewed.. not good at all, I'm no longer meeting this blogs first principles! 

Ok , so here's a workaround, ( a.k.a - todo/hack/ kludge etc take your pick) . Let me put in one line summaries of at least some things and expand on them when rest and recuperation have unblocked the block. 

Beginning is half the battle won, or isn't it??? !

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Color Purple - Alice Walker

Interesting read. 

Although I'm not sure about rave reviews, it seemed a bit too much like a fairy tale, well maybe not fairy , but still a tale. And the ending.. umm uh uh. Yes given the harsh realities, you like a "happy" ending, but you have to make up your mind, are you talking social issues, then get rid of silly fairy tale endings.
But tale or not, it still hits a chord. Specially the bits about the "god", and the underlying running thread about "control". Its funny, I read a few blog posts just recently about the whole domestic violence thing, and thought, this book was set decades and decades ago, and these blogs talk of things that happened yesterday. The more things change, the more they remain the same, don't they? 

I guess some of these changes won't happen in a few decades, may take a few centuries.