Friday, January 28, 2005

Beginning of Big-inning

This Saturday should see me continuing with my squash and tennis – activities that we began with full earnest the last weekend. Despite a dip in the expected number of participants tomorrow, I feel that there is going to be an increase in the level of excitement, as our games would have improved (and I had time to catch some of the Australian Open action to iron out some chinks in my armour!).

Tomorrow should also see me fulfilling the first step of what, hopefully, is going to be a momentous chapter in my life. Er…momentous is too grandiose an adjective. I guess the word I am looking for lies somewhere between rigorous and fulfilling. Either way I should have penned the first page of this chapter tomorrow.

I have never been a deeply religious person. I do have my fascination with gods and goddesses (the proper kind!), but this is mainly in the area of mythology. But if there has been a thought that has been trying to make its entry into my mind for quite a few years, it has to be this. Actually I can trace the origins of my taste of inclination to visit the Shabari Mala temple to sometime in 1995. The calls have been more frequent, albeit few in number, over the years. And now seems to be the best time to actually carry it out. I will hopefully have 2 months off before I enter the corporate jungle once again…and I don’t see any better way to begin the break by doing this act of “spiritual cleansing”.

The atheists and those of an agnostic bent would definitely be scoffing at my idea. Despite a small part of me wanting to issue a disclaimer stating that this entire exercise is areligious, I don’t want to. God, whoever he is, has been kind to me most of the time. Of course, there have been instances when I would have gladly sold my luck in some areas to certain other spheres where I have been pretty luckless. But that is just me being “the grass is greener on the other side”.

As I was explaining to Rajjo over the past few days of our late-night chatting, these 40 days of rigor should serve me as a good way of forgetting things. “Forget” is too extreme a word as I am cursed with a long memory. (“cursed” is the appropriate word because I really do wish to forget so many things!) The least I hope to do in the near future is to clutter my mind with physiological problems and thus deprive the other “monster” of its prowling activities.

My partner in this expedition is Avinash who is in effect trying to do the exercise for very similar reasons. Running does have its benefits, but eventually you reach a phase where your body does its work on its own and your mind is left vacant for the “monster” to prance about unhindered. Hopefully all this will stop. I wish!

PS1: I need your wishes of luck for the next 40 days. (And not your sympathies!)
PS2: If you find the concept of the “monster” a tad King-esque to comprehend, my apologies. I couldn’t find a better analogy. Nor could I afford to be more open in a public page.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

“Colour of the skin”

As I had mentioned in a post 2-3 days back, I am currently reading the Kamba Ramayana. This is the version written by the Tamil poet Kamban sometime in the 8th century. He attributes his sources as 3 people, and the primary one is Valmiki. As the foreword suggests, the main difference between Valmiki’s version and Kamban’s is that Rama had risen to the status of a God by the time Kamban began his rendition. As a result, his tale is filled with godly metaphors and super-super-human tasks.

The author, the people around the protagonists and the readers realize that Rama is indeed Vishnu incarnate, but there aren’t any indications as to whether Rama himself realizes it. I guess this is background enough to continue with the actual subject of my post.

Rama is walking along the streets of Mithila and when he reaches the ladies’ mansion, he happens to see Sita in the balcony. He looks at her “beautiful face, sword-eyes, skin fairer than the whitest of lilies…” and she looks at his “rain-cloud hue, complexion darker than the collyrium (kajal) applied to her eyes…” and both fall in love! Just like that! The first thing that struck me was that Rama, as a person, must have been pretty shallow to fall in love with a woman on just seeing her exterior beauty. But that’s still fine…as long as he is human. But he isn’t. Not according to the story. So isn’t it weird that a god is smitten completely by physical appearance alone?!

Now to another matter that rankles me a bit. There was this article in The Hindu by the cricket correspondent Peter Roebuck after the end of the 1st Test match between India vs Australia. He states “Harbhajan needs to control his emotions on the field. But if the rest of the team could take a leaf out of his book and be more aggressive it would be good. Then again this is a country where the main ad during the live telecast is of a woman who gets a TV commentator’s post as soon as she uses a particular fairness cream.”. I do not want to get into the appropriateness of this statement in that paragraph, leave alone the entire article. But it does provide food for thought. And I wonder whether the entire “fair-skin obsession” began with our old poetry. As is evident from Kamba’s description of Sita, the primary reason for Rama to be attracted was her “fairer than lily” skin. Do these vignettes from our epics justify the current advertisement campaigns by the cosmetic industry?

Now to the other end of the racism spectrum (no pun intended). Look at the situation in Zimbabwe and South Africa. It is still racism, be it black or white. Mark Boucher isn’t guaranteed a place in the South African team because of the UCBSA stating that a minimum number of black players need to be included in the team. Zimbabwe is an even more extreme case, where all the whites are supposedly being given a “taste of their own medicine”. It seems like the only way to fight racism is with racism itself. A pretty sad plight indeed!

Another cricket correspondent, Ted Corbett, mentioned in one of his articles about how Boucher, a white, lost his place to Thami Tsolikile, a black. Thami comes from a little village, and apparently the news of his induction into the team was a source of long-lasting joy to the struggling community. It even tempered the flames of enmity against the whites in the community. Makes one wonder whether UCBSA is actually doing the right thing? At the end of the day, cricket is just a game. If such moves can bring about peace in the land, and help resolve the conflicts, maybe it makes sense to sacrifice the interest of the nation’s cricket team for the advancement of the nation itself. Or does it?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Whats wrong with proselytizing?

Lets just say that I have always wanted to have a blog title that would have a few people scrambling for their dictionaries (or WordWeb). If anything, my preparation for the GRE led me to the discovery of this word. My GRE score is definitely not valid in most of the colleges now (its been 3 years!), but I still remember the meaning to this word. Does that show something?

I remember the time I was walking to school and there was this huge group of students coming from the other direction. I obviously assumed that our uniform was pretty common. Then one of them stopped me to tell me that MGR had died and as a result we had a holiday that day! A holiday!! That, my friends, was my first instance of unforeseen holidays. Since then there have been various incidents of such holidays, and not just because of untimely deaths as well. The latest one, which I missed, was yesterday.

Apparently most companies in Bangalore had to let their employees leave early due to violence by BJP protesters. The reason for the protest? Benny Hinn, the evangelist, was holding a talk in Bangalore. Three lakh people were in attendance, and this party, which has nothing but the best interests of the country in mind, was almost sure that the country Christian count would increase by 3 lakhs (give or take).

So what did they do to counter this move? Break buses, cars, buildings. Hmm…I guess these were considered as the 3 major enemies to the procreation of “proud” Hindus. I wonder what innate contraceptive power do windowpanes of buses, cars & buildings have. The family control unit of India is planning on changing its motto from “We Two, Ours One” to “We Two, but Windowpanes Aplenty”.

Now that we have congratulated the BJP and its wing entities on their brilliant strategy to counter mass-conversion, let us delve further into their “strong rationale” behind anti-conversion.

“You may be a poor worker living in the worst of civic amenities. You struggle to have one square meal per day. You are treated as scum by most people in society. We, as true Hindus, shall sit back and watch this. We may decide to help a few people. We may decide to help more people, and gain political mileage out of it. We may decide to help a lot more people, and amass enough wealth to last our future generations. But We do not let other people help you. No sir! That is a strict no-no. You may be able to get a decent livelihood and live a more peaceful life by converting to another religion. But NO! You cannot do that. You have no food, no shelter, no clothing, no livelihood, no life. But you got your Hinduism. Stick with it. We will eventually come over on our millennia rounds to offer some solace. Or not. Fine? But don’t you dare lose your true identity!”

It is at times like these that I am so proud on being a Hindu. Ah…if only I could capture this feeling and pass it on to all I know. Wont our country be a better place?

The Dark Tower


NOTE: This post is a huge spoiler for people who still haven’t read Dark Tower. Among my readers I know of, I guess I need to warn Rajneesh and Inder in particular to not continue reading this any further. If there is any unknown reader who likes Stephen King please beware!

I had been postponing the review of this book for quite some time. It wasn’t because of any time constraints. It was a simple case of chills – how on earth was I going to review an epic saga from the best writer the world has ever seen? The Dark Tower is a 7 part series concerning the story of Roland (who starts out as the Last Gunslinger) and his team of 4 co-adventurers. By the end of Book 7, Stephen King had managed to link this book to almost half of his other books. Well all this is easy to say, but now comes the tough part - the actual review.

The first thing I needed to do was to come out with a theory as to how people read books. By this mean I am talking about the degree of encapsulation. The answer to this question is pretty crucial in going along with the proceedings of the book. Here are a few of the theories my tired mind managed to conjure:-

1) The highest level – one where the book is just a book. The characters are completely fictional. And I read it like I would see a movie.

2) I go under the book, but stay above the characters. I follow their adventures as a third person would. I partially believe that all these things are actually happening and aren’t just make-believe.

3) I cease to think of it as a book. What I am reading is just things that are actually happening or have happened. It is not written by anybody, but are just mental images in my mind that are surprisingly in the form of words in front of me.

Most people would go with the 1st theory. A few might agree to the 2nd. But the 3rd one is pretty farfetched. Atleast that’s what I thought unless Stephen King did something to put me off-guard – make an appearance!

Yup, DT 6 and 7 talks about how the ka-tet (group) go meet Stephen King in the past and persuade him to continue writing the tale that he keeps hearing his head – ie the story of themselves!!! In technical terms the book becomes recursive. And take the ending into consideration and it has the capability to fall into the most common trap that recursion falls into – infinte loop. The only way to unravel the plot and continue is to follow my 3rd theory.

After this reorientation of the mindset, reading sub-plots such as how Jake dies saving King from a surely fatal accident (which, incidentally happened to him in his real life!) or how King decides to help Susannah by providing the deux es machina (the "god in the machine") at Dandelo’s Hut seem like normal happenings…in a Kingian sense.

(Side note on deux es machina: There are times when an author hits a blank wall – has no idea of how to move ahead. At times such as these he uses this writing tool – deux es machina – to move the tale forward. It is a mechanism to explain things in a highly convenient way. A good example of this would be from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The monster has zero knowledge of languages, manners, etc when it is formed. But it manages to converse with Frankenstein in proper English! Reason? It apparently finds a huge chest of English classics in a gutter and tutors itself to learn the language from these books.)

What separates King from the rest of the pack apart from his command over the English language, self-deprecating humour, black humour, thought-provoking conversations, rare unabashed grossness, emotions interplay, irony and non-linear temporal flow of story is his ability to make us feel sympathy for each of his characters. There is not a character that can be actually hated without a tinge of pity. More often than not, it is the circumstances that moulds persons and Kings is a staunch believer of this. Wishing that a particular character (most probably the one who gets your own sympathy) doesn’t die is a big mistake. The chances are that that character is going to be the first one to get bumped off!!!

For people who have seen The Green Mile and were hoping that John Coffey would somehow be released by a miracle would have been disappointed by the ending. If you are attuned to King, that is the easiest of endings to guess. Of course, he can surprise you with his positive ending in The Shawshank Redemption. But finding such “good” ending books of SK is as tough as finding books of Ayn Rand with an actual story! I guess you get the drift.

Another thing that King belives with deep sincerity is that most people never have their wishes fulfilled. Something bad is always around the corner waiting to happen. People who read newspaper reports such as “Tree falls on auto, kills passenger” and think “Hmm…such things can never happen to me!” need to read King. It wont take 15 minutes before he has you scampering for cover.


I guess the message is if you want to read quality stuff, read King. If you are the kind who likes “feel-good” books, “make you good” books, I-shall-talk-about-Fish-Cheese-Zen-Bikes-but-got-no-real-story-to-offer type of psuedo-trash (Courtesy: Rajneesh), please do not venture into this territory.

Right now I am beginning a long journey into the fantasy genre starting off with Kamba Ramayana. Hopefully I should be done with a lot of books before another favourite author of mine – Robert Jordan – comes out with the next installment of The Wheel of Time. That should be good fun!

As you can see I really haven’t been able to come up with a review. But I managed to fill up the blank spaces…without really moving forward. I guess that would make me a top contender for writing the next “Zen and the art of eating fish with cheese”.
And a Man Booker as well. :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Kerala Roadtrip

Drastic things have occurred in the past 5-6 days since my last blog. Most have been to my utmost liking, while a few have made me a tad uneasy and one that made me feel absolutely pathetic. But we shall be looking only at the positive incidents.

If you’ve already read Dhimant’s blog you must have a pretty good idea of what is going to ensue next. Yes, I shall be recounting the adventures from a mega-roadtrip that 6 of us undertook. To the put “mega” part in perspective, here are a few stats – we drove around a total of 1500 kms in the Scorpio, a total journey time of almost 32 hours that included one completely overnight journey! If I hadn’t known my adrenaline limit earlier, I definitely do now. Notice I do not say stamina because I rarely run on it. :)

The following were the principal actors in the trip (in order of their appearance) –
Chilli aka Me
Morsemium aka Ameya
PJ King aka NASA aka Anil Ambani aka Akshai
CEO aka Chakku aka Mukesh Ambani aka Dhimant
Drona aka Flower Show aka Bandhar aka Indrashis
Kokilaben aka Mama aka Achuth

The places we hit along our roadtrip were Salem, Coimbatore, Palakkad, and Munnar. This was the general route we followed with numerous diversions and bypasses along the way. We (excluding Mama) started from my place around 7:30 PM on Wednesday night and began the journey to Hosur Road. As expected, this drive through Bangalore traffic was more sapping than most parts of the journey. In fact, the total number of traffic signals we ran into from Hosur Road and back were 5 or so. BTW, The number of signals from my place to Majestic was around 7!

Before I get into the details and the key incidents of the journey here is what we did in a gist:- We left Bangalore on 13th night and reached Palakkad at around 6:30 AM. After relaxing and refreshing ourselves we roamed around a bit before making her way towards Munnar, which we reached on 14th night. The 15th was spent in and around Munnar, and we began our journey back on 16th morning, landing up in Bangalore at midnight.

Now to the medley of incidents, dialogues, jokes, etc that happened along the way. They are not in any order whatsoever.

* “This scenery has the capability to compete with European standards” – Morsemium
In response to this I went “Oh is it? Do none of these pass muster to get through the screening test for having the capability to compete remotely with European standards…?”

* “Morse code for SOS is blah blah blah. And in industries they use some puffs blah blah blah” - Morsemium
Anil Bhai goes, “3 puffs eh? So is it veg, chicken and egg?”

* “The system looks for a gap in the ferrite coating” – Morsemium
As you must have guess already he was at his finest moment of knowledge transferring. So all we had to set a trap by asking him how a tape recorder is able to jump tracks. True to his reputation he didn’t disappoint us one bit!

* “Some BIG vehicle is coming!” – Anil Bhai
Anil Bhai tries to do his bit of navigation and failed miserably. The “BIG vehicle” in question was a Maruti 800!

* “There’s a truck coming, be careful!” – Flower Show
Another supreme display of navigation, this time by Bandhar. He used his position as navigator to gobble up all the snacks prompting PJ King to christen him as an “alligator”. Anyway, the “truck” which was apparently coming up the hill turned out to be a motorbike!

* Board meeting
The minutes of this meeting are completely confidential and will be shared only with a select few over this weekend. For the general public all that needs to be known is that the Club starting off with Kokilaben, Anil & Mukesh was completely destroyed by my brilliant closing arguments. Instead we have now a 2-member Club with the presidency shared between Mama and me.

A black mark on the Club's proceedings was the callous way Morsemium treated the membership. “Yes, I shall try for one month and then tell you guys!” – and that was the end of his short tenure. He has been banned for life and that shall remain, despite his childish comments of holding 50% stake when the company never went public!

* “If you look at them itself you can make out. They look like Seths” – Anonymous Cop
When we were stopped at a TN check post in the middle of the night, this is what the sentry had to comment on the passengers in the car (i.e. excluding me and Anil Bhai)

* NASA delayed launch and Vostok’s misfire
Decency prevents me from explaining further. I am sorry.

* “You need to cover all the entrances” – name withheld
Same as above! :)

* Green tubelights
TN roadside hotels seem to have a fetish for green coloured tubelights. One might have thought that a colour like blue or red would have attracted expected jokes from Anil Bhai, but these green ones did as well. “All green light areas!”. Whatever that meant!!!

* Convincing Moresmium that he was actually eating Tomato Uthappam made out of tomato puree while it was actually Drona’s Egg Dosa
In keeping with his tradition of experimentation, Drona ordered for an Egg Dosa. Things would have been fine if he had recognized it when the waiter got it. But as things turned out, he passed it onto Morsemium who was forced to eat this “tomato” dosa despite no signs of tomato anywhere.

* 100 rupee flower show flanked by jackets worth 1000 rupees
The flower vase which was responsible for bestowing the Flower Show nick on Drona had a very comfortable journey back home. All our jackets were used to protect it!

* “If my demands are not met I will let people get into the top of the townbus” – Anil Bhai
Anil had a tough time sitting at the back for two reasons. He was jostled every which way. And more severely he couldn’t hear our conversation to insert his PJs. His threat to make money and leave towels out for drying on the townbus fell on deaf ears.

* “One thing is clear - the headquarters should be shifted to Kochi” – Kokilaben
As the proceedings of the Board meeting unfolded, this realization dawned on Kokilaben. Both the sons had been cheating him, but I was able to give him company and share his load of leadership. :)

* Drona being stripped off his title
After failing miserably to use an ordinary manual camera, the Bandhar had to be unceremoniously stripped off the grand title of Drona. Anyway, Flower Show acted as an able substitute.

* “What this is?”, “What it is?” – All of us.
If I could attach an audio clip along with this blog this joke would be more obvious. Until then sorry folks!

* Never be able to go to Coconut Grove
The breakfast at Mama’s house consisted of infinite number of Aappams with coconut stew, sambhar, chutney and an equal number of Idlis to match. Then came the topping – the dessert of Vazhaipazham Puzhinjadhu. (I request all the readers to repeat this name atleast 50 times. Fun aint it?) I doubt I would ever be able to go to Coconut Grove and pay so much for 2 Aappams and stew which aint even half as good as what Mama’s mom had prepared.

* Flower Show refusing to return Morsemium’s Masala Chai
As has already been mentioned, FS has a pretty bad habit of picking the wrong items in the menu. When all of us were enjoying this incredible Masala Chai at View Point he sulked on his Ginger Tea…until that is an unsuspecting Morsemium handed over his cup of Masala Chai.

* “Technically…”
My repeated usage of this in all my sentences. In my defense, hanging around with Morsemium does make one speak in such parlance. Thankfully I am out of it. :

* Song pattern of “Yun hi chala” -> “Yeh jo des hai tera” -> “Yedho ma” -> “Boondon se baatein”
Every leg of the journey was inaugurated with the following songs in the same order. It also prompted PJK to say, “If the last song is sung when we are eating it would be called ‘Boondi se baaten’”. Aargh!!

* “If this isn’t destiny, I don’t know what is” – Myself wrt GE
Hmm…all I can say is “Good Luck to Flower Show!”

* Ikon’s stare
Same as above. :)

* Mama and Morsemium coming in the way of Flower Show’s capture of …….
Decency prevents me from elucidating. Sorry.

* Mama and Chilli’s Himalayan car rally up High Range School
When we went to drop off Mama’s friends at this school, we thought we had lost our way as the road just kept climbing up giving no indication of any kind of civilization. Thankfully, we didn’t. Else I might right know be somewhere in Kodaikkanal.

* “Don’t jump to conclusions. They could be just a huge family with lots of cousins and brothers” – Anil Bhai regarding Charlie’s Angels
His comment on seeing 3 couples hanging out at Echo Point. Definitely the Eternal Optimist.

* “Aeroplane” Qualis trying to take off

* “What is the cow’s name?” – Myself. “ is called cow!” – Teashop guy
Well I was expecting a name like Mahesh, or…I don’t know maybe Rajjo. Hehehe.

* Mukesh Bhai freezing most of the time
As his blog makes it pretty clear he would even find the day temperature of the Sahara Desert on the colder side. Sheesh!

* “Do you really want a vada that badly?” – Myself to Anil Bhai
Well Anil didn’t. If he had, he could have gladly taken the one that had been lying under our table…half-eaten.

* Mukesh and Flower Show playacting for the benefit of the “bad English speaker” from Maratha
Sadly this had no effect. I am guessing it had to do with the fact that the object of interest was on her honeymoon. :)

* Ultimate Happiness?
Now this was a huge debate on the way back. And it still hasn’t been resolved. The weekend is just around the corner…maybe we can dish it out then.

I guess that wraps it up. I am sure I’ve left out a lot more stuff. But my memory isn’t what it used to be. (Hehehe I love saying that!) I can only hope that the others blog in their versions and that would eventually fit in the missing pieces.

Apologies for fooling around with all the nicknames. I know it makes for some tiresome reading, but I just tried to place the names according to the context.

Double apologies for such a LONG post. Definitely my longest. But the times spent were also one of the best. So that justifies the length to some extent. If you’ve managed to stick around to this part of the post without dozing, then you might as well stay around for the last part that is just my view on Ultimate Happiness –

If you are able to keep your family, loved ones, friends, people who matter to you all happy and contented irrespective of how you feel, that is the Ultimate Happiness.

Atleast to me.

Good Night.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Just finished reading Winston Groom’s Gone The Sun. Needless to say that it didn’t hold a candle to the same author’s Forrest Gump. But that was his masterpiece, and you can in actuality have just a masterpiece. Unless of course you are A R Rahman or Stephen King. :)

All that aside, the book was a decent story of a newspaper editor and his efforts to clean up his city. Though most of the sub-plots were hackneyed and the ending pretty lame the book left a huge impression with just a single line by the protagonist. He talks about “not being there” when his friend needed him and that he “wasn’t that good a friend after all”. This was eerily close to a topic that I had been discussing with a friend who had come home for lunch. As a result, here I am staying up at 2 in the morning writing this piece that is based on some of the implications of the dialogue I had with her, more than the actual content of the dialogue. In a way, all this would be a bit connected to Chakku’s blog on morals (which was coincidentally posted today!).

Over the past week I have been criticized by two of my friends for “thinking too much” about every decision I make. As I made it clear today I do not waste time thinking about matters such as money, luxury, salary, etc…but I do spend a lot of time on people. I was faced with the dilemma of meeting only one of two friends over this weekend. And I spent an entire sleepless night trying to reason out who it should be! (If this doesn’t explain my insomnia, nothing will…)

Back to the bit on “being a good friend”, so what are the characteristics that define a true friend? I guess it would be most probably sticking by him come hell or high water. Never let him down, and be supportive of all his actions. Share his joys and sorrows. Be unconditional in your love, affection, etc. Seems fair right? I could do this easily. In fact I do this with full gusto.

But am I right? The cause of my “too much thinking” is the nagging question in my mind regarding what I should do if I feel that a friend isn’t doing the right thing. What should my stand be if I feel that a particular act of his is wrong? Logically it would be to reprimand him and get him to follow the right path. Again, seems pretty fair eh? Hmm…I foresee two problems.

One being the simple possibility that he might just feel it wrong of me to intrude in his affairs and hence be offended. But I fear an even bigger problem – who am I to decide what is right or wrong? Given the current forward/backward shift of values & morals in our lives there is no supreme authority to grant the go-ahead for my bifurcating criteria. As an example, a person might find drinking acceptable but not smoking. But is there anything that another person who finds both habits unacceptable do to “rectify” the supposed offender? I am plagued by this constant self-doubt that hampers me from performing my “duties” as a “true friend”.

Well…not any more. If there is one thing clear that came out of the afternoon dialogue, it would be to crumple this doubt. Henceforth, I shall make it known that a friend is in the wrong if I feel that he is. I am expecting a lot of brickbats…but this is one New Year’s resolution I plan on sticking to. (Oh btw, the converse holds true as well.)

Before I crash for the night let me try to answer why I need to what I have decided on doing. Is it not wanting to be called “wasn’t that good a friend after all”? Even if that hurts I don’t think that is the actual reason.

What is the reason then? Hmm…no idea as of now, but today’s insomnia might just help me with that.

Good Night.

Swades - my view

As promised earlier, here is my review on this movie. This post has been lying in my Drafts folder for quite some time now, and I guess it is time to publish it before I begin working on my next post.

A few things that you must know before you continue reading this review.

I do not know Hindi very well. I could make out the meanings of most of the dialogues from the expressions, context, translations from my “interpreter” and my own rudimentary knowledge. There is a high possibility that I might have missed out on some intricate wordplay within the movie which might elevate the movie to a higher level. But I think not. Comparisons are inevitable in reviews. But I shall try to reduce the number of such in my review. Primarily because the objects of comparison would invariably be Tamil movies, and majority of my readers would be ignorant about such.

Also, I shall not compare it with Lagaan at any point simply because I never considered Lagaan a good movie. It was just a typical entertainer with high doses of predictability. Which means that whatever little comparisons I do make in my review would be with those that I consider good movies.

At the outset, Swades is a good movie. I am tempted to say “very good”, but I fight that…with good reason. I definitely do not think it is great. I don’t think there is any need for me to narrate the story as most of you would have either seen the movie, read reviews in the papers or read Akshai’s blog. I came out of the movie hall feeling that I hadn’t seen anything new in the movie. Nothing pathbreaking or earth shattering. But more on the negatives later.

The best part of the movie was SRK’s acting and Rahman’s music. They were well accompanied by sincere performances by most of the co-artistes. There were absolutely no commercial elements characteristic of most Hindi movies, such as an Antakshari, or a marriage ceremony or an item number. The director had made up his mind to give the audience a good movie, and hoped to make money out of that. Sadly though, the average cine-going public’s tastes are a bit more banal. As a result, it may make him rethink his strategy for his next movie. And that would be sadder. Such movies need to be encouraged. But it is easier said than done in a society where most people prefer watching movies in the plush confines of their homes on DVDs and VCDs. If the masses are the only ones making it to the theatres, isn’t it obvious that only those mass-entertaining movies would succeed financially?

The message the movie projects is very sincere and endearing. To be honest, it made me squirm in my seat. The movie should be considered a success if it manages to change the thinking of atleast 1 percent of the population.

The cons – as I said earlier - nothing new. The last few reels of the hero working on a village project was highly reminiscient of K Balachander’s Unnal Mudiyum Thambi. The scene just after the song Yeh Tara Woh Tara where the children of different castes mingle reminded me of the final scene from Suhasini Manirathnam’s Indira. And there were shades of similarity between SRK’s character here and Surya’s character in Mani Rathnam’s Aayitha Ezhuthu.

The heroine, Gayathri Joshi, was one person who didn’t fit a bit into the entire setting. Trouting about in designer sarees and with heavy mascara and lip-stick, she sticks out like a sore thumb. I could be wrong. Maybe she did pay weekly visits to Delhi and bought herself the latest sartorial and cosmetic products. But that doesn’t gel with her character, does it?

In toto (:)), Swades is a good movie. Not to be missed. And please watch it in the theatres.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

2005 begins...

New Year’s and Birthdays have this nasty habit of reminding me how useless my life has been. As Kaushik pointed out during the get-together (the main subject of this post later on) at my place, “In another 6 months, we both will be 26 years! Dammit…26! Even 30 doesn’t scare me…but 26 truly does.” Such milestones only make me ponder on what I’ve earned out of my own capabilities. There’s nothing. Zilch. Zok. Nada. You get the point.

Well…there is one thing. My friends. And I had the fortune to spend my New Year’s Eve with all of them (well almost). Even if there are a few misgivings, I don’t think that I would have chosen otherwise. Even if there was an overall atmosphere of cribbing, I don’t think that they would have chosen otherwise. I may be wrong. But I am not. (Yikes! I have begun to sound like Rajneesh, who incidentally lent his voice to our party, with the statement-contrastatement.)

Anyway back to the party. One account of it is already available in the blog of Ameya aka The Asphalting Osmium, so I shall try to fill in the missing pieces. Since my parents weren’t in town, my home became the obvious venue. Kaushik came up with an idea of buying actual poker chips to supplement our game of Flash (for earlier exploits in this game kindly refer to the Sandur Blog). Drawing on this, Inder advised me to buy a Monopoly set. And I actually did! Obviously the shopkeeper thought I was purchasing a gift for some kid. I had to refuse his multiple offers of gift-wrapping it. It was pretty embarrassing. :)

The game of Flash ensued with the primary participants being The CEO, Lankan Coconut Seller, Ambani Brothers, Kokila Bhen, Asphalting Osmium, Building Blocks and The Red Husker. Also known as Dhimant, Akshai, Vivek & Pramod, Kaushik, Ameya, Inder and me. The Husker was the clear winner despite some late comeback attempts by the Ambanis who were helped by Kokila, who had shifted to full-time consultancy due to his inability to get his curreny right. LCS kept us in splits with his incessant jokes, while Osmium kept us knowledgeable with his incessant pearls of wisdom.

All this was interspersed with calls from Moo York and bouts of “partying”. CEO and Husker took up camera duties…and lets just say that we have some pretty damning footage that would dispel all the nice impressions the parents have about their sons.

Having tired of Flash, we shifted to Monopoly with few of the guests volunteering to be part of the Anti-Trust Observation Committee. A new pairing of Carlos & Miguel, the Colombian Dope-Lords was formed with the entrance of Rajesh. The Ambanis lived up to their reputation by landing up in jail every other turn. The winner was LCS. By this time, the observers were all asleep or watching Terminator 2.

I spent the next day alone cleaning up my house and setting everything right. Then I slept for another 10 hours. Thus ended 2004, and began 2005. It was indeed a lot of fun to talk about old times and speak about our status as losers.

Is 2005 going to be different from 2004? Hmm…I think not.
Do I want it to be different? No idea.
Do I wish for anything to happen? Hmm…as Stephen King says in one of his books, “Don’t wish too hard for something. You may regret it later when it actually happens!”

Happy New Year!