Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Goodbye, dear blog.

Dear reader,

I have moved my blog to wordpress (heartranjan.wordpress.com). Wordpress seemed to give me better options for my blog.

This blog has been so much to me. I've spent days when I did nothing all day, and just spent them reading blogs, and putting new ones up.

This blog was my only source of hope during depressing days and when I had doubts about myself.

But kya karein? End of the day, I'm a human being. Aur insaan bewafaa hota hai.

See you on my new blog.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why Dhobi Ghat might not be a hit.

I was listening to some opinions on Dhobi Ghat, and I was intrigued.

"Chu**** picture hai, saala. Yeh Aamir Khan ko kya ho gaya hai?"

"3 idiots jaisi picture banana chahiye yaar. Is picture mein kya hai?"

"Apni biwi ke chakkar mein pagal ho gaya hai Aamir Khan".

And most of them haven't even watched the movie. I remember something that had happened during the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Black'. The film was shot in black and white, and the dialogues were in English, and had no songs. Even though the film reeked of pseudo-intellectualism, and had a very insensitive portrayal of the treatment of the child, when people came out of the hall, they'd nod their heads, and say, "Kya picture hai, boss. Oscar milna chahiye."

Dhobi Ghat is shot in colour, has no zany camera angles, and the characters converse in normal language, generously giving out gaalis to each other. It's a subtle story, and hence, when the heroine is sad, it doesn't start to rain. And when the heroine is happy, she doesn't put her head out of the car and scream at passersby in joy. There is no 'climax' as such. It's a narrative of the four characters, and how many times do we look up at the sky and cry? Or fall in love when we see a girl dancing in the rain?

The problem with being brought up in a tradition of loud, song-and-dance filled portrayals in films, is that we 'expect' some things from a film. And now that there is a semblance of a new wave in Hindi films, we expect them to be 'artistic' or 'intelligent' I thought 'Oye Lucky, lucky oye' was an intelligently made movie, but no, it was a story of a thief, how can that be intelligent? An intelligent story is one in which there is a man dying of cancer and he has to finish his painting before his death, while hiding from his family members that he has cancer. That is intelligent!

We are obsessed with 'understanding' everything. When we see a painting, the first thing we try to do is to try to 'understand' what the artist is trying to say. So we look for hidden meanings, and symbolism, completely ignoring the fact that it could also be about the use of colours, the strokes, the composure. But these are simple, mundane things. There has to be a complex, heart-wrenching inner meaning, laden with allegorical references, and then we'll go, "Ah...kya picture hai, boss!"

When people did not understand 'Inception', they went to watch it again. But a slight confusion in 'Dhobi Ghaat' makes it a chu**** picture. That's because it's alright for an English movie to confuse us, but a Hindi picture should be swachh, crystal clear, and understood by all.

'Dhobi Ghat' is a simple, honest film. Trust me, even a ten year old can understand the story. There are no concealed meanings, and nothing is arty-farty about it. it is the story of four people in Mumbai, an artist, a dhobi, an America returned investment banker, and an artist, and how their lives meet over a few incidents. Watch it for the superb performances of Prateik Babbar Kriti Malhotra and Monica Dogra.

Instead of going by reviews and opinions of others, challenge your taste. Go watch the movie. You will love, or you will dislike it. But you will appreciate that there are people who are trying something different in Hindi cinema. So what if they get their husbands to finance it? I am sure the film would not have been made if Kiran Rao was married to Chunkey Pandey, and there is no harm in him producing the movie. Really.

Take a risk. There are hundreds of dhinchaak, masala films coming anyway.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

'Turning 30' is extremely shitty

If you saw the trailer, you would think it is a smart, urban movie that talks openly about issues like growing up, sex, and other things. It's got Gul Panag, who does not generally dance around the trees. You buy the ticket, and two minutes into the start of the movie, you realise you have been swindled.

Turning 30 has got 'Low budget' written all over it. Not that that is my grudge against it, but the film is shot so amateurishly, it seems like the final project of the 2010 Direction batch at FTII, Pune. Where do I begin?

Firstly, the film is shot in English, but has been dubbed in Hindi, which makes it look like one of those crappy Hannah Montana shows in Hindi. Add to that, extremely unoriginal writing in the form of the characters. There are the friends who shop, bitch, and apply make up. There is the mother that keeps nagging her daughter to get married. Then, there is the evil boss.

I seriously could not take more than 5 minutes of the movie and tuned out after that. I stood up, turned back to see the lighted, frustrated faces of another hundred guys, and then walked out for five minutes. When I came back into the hall, nothing seemed to have changed at all. It's that bad a movie.

The story of a woman who is approaching 30, has an advertising job in which her boss gives her hell, and a boyfriend who is facing pressure at home. The woman's life falls into pieces when the guy dumps her and her work life also gets screwed up.

Now, the problem with the film is that, while it is trying to show women in a progressive light, it fails miserably due to the plot. The woman is heartbroken when the man dumps her for a hot, young girl. She tries to seduce him when he comes home to pick up his stuff, and even asks him the very original question, "Why? Is she better in bed?" By this time, your brain has gone into snooze mood, and you seriously don't give a rat's ass if he takes out a gun and shoots the ceiling fan, and they both die, and meet in heaven.

Gul Panag, who is generally watchable, tries her best to hold her own, but the ship begins to sink because every other thing in the movie sucks. The other actors are all either cliched, or irritating. If you are with a partner and want to end the relationship, please take him/her with you to the movie. Once its over, say you loved the movie so much, you want to watch it again sometime soon.

You will not hear from that person again. Take that in writing.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

BACK TO BHUBANESWAR

You know what I love most about train journeys? The fact that you really get to meet so many people. I know this is a cliché, but this is more true about train journeys than any other. Now, bus journeys are spent in bumping into people and feeling to see if your wallet is still there. Flights are too short. But in a train, you spend over a day in other people's company, getting to know them, see their little quirks.

So anyway, I met some really interesting people on the journey (one man who had worked as a cinematographer with Satyajit Ray, another man who devised a way to smoke in Rajdhani Express without getting caught - “Blow your smoke inside the commode”, and a child who cried continuous for
seven hours). After enduring many such people, I finally reached New Delhi.

I know this has been spoken about a number of times, but the truly amazing thing about Delhi is the abuses that people dole out to each other. I got a sample of this even before I had gotten down at the station. I was adjusting my hair in front of the mirror when I heard a voice say, “Oye hero, bas kar”

I turned back to see a small chai selling boy who was waiting to get down behind me. Once I got down at the platform, it was a string of b****chods and m*****chods flung around without a care in the world. I think there is a sense of camaraderie among the people that gives them the confidence to shower such abuses without being taken seriously. So anyway, I then got into a metro, and the door closed centimetres away from my face, giving me memories of Shoorpanaka, from The Ramayana. And since it was so congested and I was carrying two bags, I put my hand behind me to feel if my wallet was intact from time to time.

On one such attempt, a papaji standing on one of my feet turned around to give me an uncomfortable glare when my hand grazed his derriere.

“Kya kar raha hai?”, he says.

“Bhaiyya jagah nahi hai.”

“Meri ***** mein haath daal de, bahut jagah hai.” he retorts, to loud cheers among co-passengers.


Things do not happen like that in Bhubaneswar. Here, one abuse about a family member could give you two black eyes. And another thing I notice about the place is that nothing really changes around here. After reaching the platform, I recognised three people in five minutes straight. It's not because there are less people, but I think the same people hang out in the same places all the time.

But then, that's the thing I love about the place. There are no people rushing, no worried brows on people's faces. People here are more calm, more laid-back, and ( I think) more spiritual. You will never find people here talking about work, fussing about targets. The discussions would revolve more around bitching, and who did what to whom at what time and where, and other such important stuff.

Another thing that is amazing about this place is the creativity that goes into naming their businesses. Where else can you find a saloon called 'Curl up and Dye'? Or a shop that is named 'Omm Licky – A gift shop'? Or 'Bichi Communication'? And just yesterday, I noticed one that was painted on a wall. It went:

Homeopathy Clinic, Backside of Pappu Saloon, Front of Shauchalaya.

Not exactly the best image you are trying to give out, my friend.

But it doesn't take long for someone who has been even four months away from here to realise what it is about the place that one misses the most. We do not have IT parks and amazing pubs and all that. But we have the best goddamned junk food in the entire bloody world. For those who have had paani puri in other places and believe that is the real thing, you are light years away from the truth. Pani puri is supposed to have potato in it, not matar/chana/other crap. And there is no point having pani puri in one of those hygienic places where the people wear gloves and stuff. There is no fun in that.

The actual taste is at those places where bacteria would have a blast and the Dettol guy who goes about giving gyan to people would faint. The potato is mashed with the hand, and the puri is smashed with the finger, and then dipped in the pani, and then served. I know it sounds a little odd, but when you eat it, you realise how much of a difference the personal touch of the maker makes.

Then there is Aludam Dahibara. This is another junk food item that is probably only found here. Aludam Dahibara sellers tie two steel pots to the rods of their cycle. If you look at it from the front, it gives the impression that the cycle has got hydrocele. One of the pots contains dahi vada and the other contains alu dam – a red spicy potato curry with gravy that's so hot it would qualify as rocket fuel. The man first rolls up his sleeve, dips his hand into the dahi, takes out the vada,puts them in the plate, and presses them down, cleanliness can take a well deserved holiday. He then takes out a ladle, dips it into the curry and pours pieces of potato, along with the red, shiny gravy on top of the dahi vada. He then gives you a small toothpick like stick that you dip into the vadas and potato pieces and eat. The flavour created when the vadas mix with the red hot gravy is out of the world. Once you are done with the second or third helping, he takes a small katori and pours dahi, and on top of that the red gravy. You mix all of it, and slurrrp it up. Your stomach is full, your immunity to germs increases several notches, and it just costs you ten bucks.

Then there's the chaat. Before I begin to describe Orissa's chaat, I have to mention what passes off as chaat in Hyderabad. It's got matar, and some onions and tomatoes and a lot of whatnots. The taste treads a thin balancing line between sour, spicy and shitty and costs four times what it costs here. That, my friends, is not chaat. It is bullshit. To have real chaat, you have to come to one of the small shops here. Again, the big ones are corrupted by consumerism and go all out to give hygiene a priority, thus negating the meaning of junk food in the first place. It's JUNK FOOD, dodos. If you want to wear gloves, go play Shaktimaan somewhere.

Anyway, the chaat is a red, orangy assortment of all things spicy. He piles it up on your plate, and then crushes some papad with his bare hands, and adds a lot of tomato (?) sauce on it. He will ask you if you want to add the dahi vada on it as well, which you have to politely refuse, as it kills the taste a wee bit. You then proceed to eat it, making small talk with the seller about the weather, the rising costs, or anything else under the sun. You can ask for more of anything you please, and he would definitely give it to you.

Then there are the rolls. They are called frankies everywhere else. But before I begin, I have a message for the Frankie sellers of Hyderabad:

The things you sell suck. Big Time. You can take your frankie and shove it up your crankie. Fuck you!

The rolls you get here actually have stuff in them. So, if it is a chicken roll, there is more than just the smell of chicken in it. The rolls are cooked on a large black, flat plate. The person adds four to five naans/parathas on the plate and cooks them simultaneously. He then flips them over, and brings them on to the small slab of marble tile that is in front of him. Again, with his own ungloved hand, he adds fried onions, tomatoes, and pieces of chicken/panneer, and sprinkles it with dry onions and tomato sauce. The rolls here make the frankies everywhere else seem malnourished and poor. The ones here are thick, and bursting at the seams with stuffing.

This has led me to the conclusion, that it is the bacteria and germs that make junk food tasty. As soon as you try to become hygienic, you lose it. The thing is, if it was sold in expensive hotels by waiters dressed like Rin models, it wouldn't be junk food. The junk food sellers in Orissa understand this and operate on a business model that is more volume based than margin based (whatever that is). And yeah, they are generous with the bacteria.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Kimbo Slice




If you ever visit the University of Hyderabad, go down to Gops and meet Kimbo.

Kimbo is the right creature in the wrong species. Brown, slim, with long legs and brown eyes that are as deep as the sea, Kimbo would have been a total stud if he was a sapien (using the word Homo for Kimbo seems criminal). He is Casanova the Lover meets Alexander the Great meets Chenghis Khan the Horny.

Kimbo was brought to the University as a puppy by a few seniors. Since then, he has been pampered so much that within 6 months, he became the undisputed king of Gops, the largest canteen area in the University. I have been close to a lot of dogs in my life, but I am yet to meet someone with as much character as Kimbo.

I guess what makes him different is that he is not very nice. Dogs are essentially nice creatures, and that’s why they get bullied, chained and petted by humans (cats are a different story altogether). We are always used to dogs sticking around with their owners through thick or thin, faithful as ever. Doesn’t work that way with Kimbo.

To befriend him, you treat him as a friend, as an equal. He does not eat vegetarian food. Only chicken, mutton, or fish. And no aaltu-faaltu biscuits either. Tiger biscuits only, thank you very much. He doesn’t respond to names like ‘Cheeku’, ‘Chiklu’ or other crap. The name is Kimbo and you only call him that. And he doesn’t like people smoking around him, so if you want to smoke, please walk away. Follow these simple rules and you have Kimbo as your friend.

Kimbo doesn’t suck up to you for food by wagging his tail. He will approach you, size you up, wait for a few seconds, and then move. And once Kimbo has approved of your company, you cannot cheat on him with some other dog. He does not let any other dog come close to you. Fiercely possessive about his friends, many dogs have realised it the hard way. Especially 50.

50 is Kimbo’s archrival, and the favourite of some people in the university, but they are a minority. Named after the rapper 50 Cent, 50 is black, cool and a total badass. He is the only one who stands up to Kimbo in a fight. But he is unwell and aging and I think all the other dogs realize that too, and so have anointed Kimbo as their leader. When there is a group of dogs and Kimbo approaches, they all duly stand up and wag their tails. And he has the prettiest girl in the group, a beautiful white bitch who is sometimes allowed to walk with him, and never allowed to mingle with any of the others. I think Kimbo has male ego issues.

You see, Kimbo has been castrated. But that doesn’t in any way mean he doesn't have balls. There are legendary stories about Kimbo’s fighting prowess. Says Ditti, a 2nd year Literature student and a fan of 50. “The other day we were going from Gops to ShopCom, and Kimbo was following us. He seemed to be in a pissed off mood from the beginning, but we had no idea what was in store. When he reached ShopCom, he saw four local dogs and decided to vent his anger on them. He took on three of them, beat their asses hollow, and shooed away the fourth. Kimbo is a fighter, I have to admit”.

Another remarkable quality about Kimbo is that he attends classes. He sits in the front of the classroom in the Literature department, and does not disturb the class. The professors are used to him now, and I suspect his name might be on the attendance roll in a few years.

And he is also with us when we hang out within the university. There have been nights when I had to walk alone from Gops to my hostel (which is 4 kms away). I just called out to him, and he walked with me to my hostel, saw me off to my room, and came back. There are lots of rocks in the university where students hang out, and he comes along with us, sits quietly next to us, and barks if he senses anyone approaching.

Kimbo's only enemy, however, is RGPB Old Man. He is a sweeper at Gops. The initials RGPB is because of the Rapist Glasses and Pedophile Beard he wears. While he never does his primary work of keeping Gops clean, he takes great pleasure in whacking the hell out of dogs. So even if Kimbo is the Goddog among his peers, he is but a meek, whining dog when RGPB Old Man approaches with his broom and basket. However, Kimbo's slowly increasing fan base has begun putting up a fight and asking him to shove his broom somewhere within himself.

Now that the holidays are going on, I can't stop thinking of dear old Kimbo. Who would be feeding him his daily quota of Tiger biscuits and chicken? And who would he come running to when he hears a whistle? I can't wait to get back to the University, to the sight of Kimbo running to me, with that 'Where the fuck were you?' look on his face.

Really, you should meet him sometime. The dog is a dude.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Guzarish - Movie Review

Starring: Hrithik's hair and Aishwarya's cleavage
Director: His Intelligency Mr. Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Sufferer: Me

There are some things that one has come to associate a Bhansali film. The dialogues would be a lot in English, the sets would be opulent, the visuals stunning, and the story - boring.

Guzarish comes (joins thumb and index finger and makes a face) this close to breaking the mould, but alas, fails to.

Guzaarish is the story of Ethan Masceranhas, a one time magician (though all we see him doing is an extremely gay dance, and another trick in which he rises in the air holding a candle) who is now quadriplegic. Aishwarya plays his nurse who has been taking care of him for 12 years now. Ethan has been a survivor, for he has written a book inspiring quadriplegics to fight on. He is also an RJ who dishes out gyan to people in a tackily named radio station called 'Radio Zindagi'. One day, he decides that he wants to end his life. Ethanasia - as he puts it.

Now, here is where logic is raped. If you want to take a crucial and personal decision like this, who would you consult? Your doctor, lawyer, mother? Na. Magic-boy asks his listeners to 'vote' for or against his decision. His lawyer grudgingly agrees to fight his case, but the judge and public prosecutor (terribly cliched roles)turn down his wish. Finally, he manages to find a solution.

Now that we are done with the storyline, I have some questions to ask. Why do the characters in Bhansali's films always talk in English? And why is there a sense of loss of time and space in his movies? And why are they always about disabled people? And why does Aishwarya dress up as if she is going to attend the Boston Tea Party?

I think it is this pseudo sense of intellectualism that Bhansali wants to portray. Tell you what, we audiences are smarter than that. We don't mind watching a film that is dumb, but acknowledges it. And yes, if we wanted to watch art movies, Torrent zindabad!

Performance wise, Hrithik is in good form. He is the only reason you can tolerate the movie, but in the end scenes, even he seems to have grown tired of this madness. His accent sounds fake and his long drawn speech seems like it was forced down his throat. Aishwarya has nothing much to do, except apply extremely red lipstick and flaunt her cleavage (which is a lot, actually. I am sure this is the most cleavage an actor has shown in recent times). The music is lackluster and seems to be lifted from Saawariya and HDDCS.

Guzarish, sadly, is another serving of pseudo intellectual bullshit dished out by Bhansali. Carry a pack of Eno with you!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Action Replay - Bakwaas Screenplay

It was a dark hall. The screams fell to deaf ears, as the miscreants came closer. Slowly but surely, they proved to be too much of a match. After it was finally over, my brain sat in the corner, crying, after being gang-raped repeatedly.

Action Replay, like the cliche goes, is one of those movies you need to leave your brains home and go watch. Trust me, its for your brain's good.

Action Replay is the story of a guy ( I don't even remember his name) who has parents who keep fighting with each other. His father is Akshay Kumar, who owns a big hotel, and his mom, Aish, who keeps spending his money and her time shopping. One day, he sees them fight and decides he needs to stop them from getting a divorce.

Go to a marriage counsellor? Try talking to them about it? No.

He decides to go back to the past and change their equation. Quite conveniently, his girlfriends's grandfather is working on a Time Machine. This time machine looks like the skeleton of a huge egg with blue lightnings running all over it. The scientist, totally non-cliched, has a beard and wears shabby clothes. So, smart son goes back into the past.

In the past, we see that Akshay Kumar is a loser and Aish the hot chick neighbour who plays pranks on him. Very cute. The guy befriends his father, and helps him woo the girl. I slept off after that, and when I woke up, there was a dance competition going on in which the winner had to sing in many voices. There were quite a few voices in my head, all of them saying two words.

Anyway, so this guy finally wins her heart and the son comes back to the present. All is well. Action Replay ranks among the huge number of crappy films I have watched in movie theatres. The clothes are loud, the characters louder. Not a single scene in this comedy made me laugh. The only entertainment for me was to watch this set of girls laughing away to glory. I was sitting behind them trying to figure out which was the dumbest of the lot. I concluded they were all at par, together stretching the limit of dumbness known to mankind.

Anyway, the film is a sad comedy. Akshay Kumar must have charged three times his fee for the film, going by all the overacting he does in the film. Aishwarya is bearable in the scenes where her cleavage is visible. Neha Dhupia is wasted. The only surprise was Ranvijay. Somewhere in the movie, you wished it was Roadies, and he asked the leads to go and put their heads in a lion's mouth as a 'task'.

But even his 'guy who can sing with two voices' gag gets repetitive and can't save the film. The music is not great either.

Do your brain a favour this November, don't take it to Action Replay. You will be responsible for the violation it will be subjected to. Stay far away from this one.