Wednesday, January 03, 2007

In the entire history of Hindi film music, has there ever been a song more annoying, more inane, more completely intolerable than Crazy Kiya Re? And must people insist on playing this paean to bad taste at varying distances from my window at all times, so that I can hear it wafting in in all its tuneless glory without a goddamn break? From all my windows, to be precise, so there's no removing oneself to another room. And to be honest, how much removing can one do in a two-bedroom flat? (and in the present rather large state where hauling myself out of bed is something I ponder over for hours, wondering if it's worth it.)

Getting back to Crazy Kiya Re. Apart from the obvious silliness of the lyrics, there's the belligerent, aggressive tone of it that sends me into paroxysms of irritation. Then there's the fact that each time I hear it, Aishwarya Rai in body-hugging leather rises like a vision before the eyes and is that something one can take with equanimity at the best of times?

As for the lyrics, I feel I must blame Gulzar for starting this trend of mixing English and Hindi words in Hindi film songs -- a review of Kajare Re with the sublime line 'aankhen bhi kamal karti hain, personal se sawal karti hain' becomes necessary at this point. The man's done it earlier too; songs like Do diwane shahar mein from Gharonda have the occasional 'of course' popping up here and there.

But does that mean lesser mortals (Sameer, I tell you!) must try it too? Most annoying.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Oh well, look who's back. For those of you who have been consigning me to several hells reserved for bloggers who deny eager readers their usual quota of high-class entertainment, I have excuses galore. For one, I've been rather busy being pregnant.

Well yes. I am. I'm also sort of on my way to the finishing line, and apart from the fact that most of the time I've either been too tired or too sick to blog, this thing has weighed on my mind. As in, I've wondered whether I should announce it here. See, I never meant this blog to be the public confessional sort of thing (much as I respect and enjoy blogs of that nature) but at the same time it did feel a little weird to be going through something so drastic and then go on on your blog as if the jolly Marauder is still her carefree old self. Which dilemma has often stopped me from writing more often in the last few months, which means that the several posts that remained half-formulated in my mind are now (much to your chagrin, I know) lost in nothingness.

For instance, I meant to write about the reverse pressure I often felt NOT to have kids, because most people I know are either indifferent to the whole thing or feel unhesitatingly negative about it. It's completely their decision, but to everybody who deplores aunties who come up to you at weddings and ask 'when are you having a baby', I have this to say -- people my age have often recoiled in horror when I've said that I would like to have babies, and what's more, sometime soon.

I still look for excuses mentally, possibly to share with the recoiling-in-horror friends, about why this WAS the right time to do it and feel ashamed immediately. Though I have to say in all honesty, not too many people have really asked me. They've raised eyebrows, yes, and looked cockily and said 'you?!' and said stuff like 'you still sound so kiddish' but no one has been graceless enough to say 'my god, you behenji, you' (which, I admit here to exorcise it once and for all, has been the secret fear throughout). Mostly, people have been concerned and sweet and even very New Age -- one friend said I was doing something 'sexy and creative', which I admit had never crossed my mind, but like, wow.

Which is not to say I still don't have doubts -- about whether it's too early (I'm 28, I could easily have waited another couple of years at least), whether I am ready to give up the arriving home drunk at one in the night kind of lifestyle, whether I ought to give up smoking completely now that I've done without it for close on eight months etc etc.

Meanwhile, life's gone on much as usual. So ok, I look different and am sick of wearing the same five set of clothes that still fit me, I can't remember the last time I ate something and didn't feel nauseated immediately after, I can't turn from side to side in bed without groaning loudly enough to make R sit up with an alarmed look on his face, I have been mercilessly exploiting the current status to get a lot of TLC, I have tried to get used to people moving gently out of my way in office (for some reason this annoys the hell out me) and I visit the powder room (see how delicately nurtured I am?) a lot more often.

But apart from that? Things have been just the same and very predictable -- I hated Don, loved Yun Hota To Kya Hota and Sideways (both of which I watched slightly late in the day a week back on DVD), enjoyed Pyar Ke Side Effects and gave up my TV sabbatical to follow Nach Baliye 2 with enviable dedication. (On which: Did you feel glad Tanaaz-Bakhtiyar were out because their over-energetic chirpiness was getting on your nerves? And didn't you just love the way Shweta said 'main apne Raja ke liye nachungi' in total jab tak tere paon chalenge tab tak uski saansen chalengi style when 'mera Raja' was in hospital suffering from some mysterious liver ailment?) The show's over now and I go into TV hibernation till next year -- though something tells me I won't really have time to analyse my negative feelings for television for some time.

And that, in short, is that.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Does this happen with everybody or is it only me and yet another global conspiracy to give me hypertension before it is entirely necessary?

My phone will remain silent and dead to the world for ages and ages. Then, just as I am about to go and kill myself from boredom, it will mercifully ring. And then, before I have spent two seconds talking to the person who has called, I shall start getting those insistent beeps which mean someone else is trying to call me. Subsequently, as I hastily cut off the first conversation mid-way and launch into the next, those beeps will sound again meaning a third person has now joined the queue of those who would gladly chop their arms off into little little pieces without the aid of aneasthesia for a chance to talk to me RIGHT NOW. Oh, and sometimes in the middle of all this my landline will also ring, meaning my mother has chosen this moment of all others to order me to send 5 SMSs to some TV program to help a girl from Jamshedpur I've never seen in my life win some crazy talent show.

And then when I have managed to juggle all the conversations and given Airtel the chance to rob me a bit more by calling back what feels like scores of people, my phone will fall silent and remain in that state for the next five hours.

Do tell me it's not something I have done to upset the universe?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

On watching The Devil Wears Prada

Ron and I (oooh look, even I have friends with hip names) went and watched The Devil Wears Prada this afternoon and had the most wonderful time. Clothes were ooohd and aaahd over and bad-boss stories were exchanged in a beautifully therapeutic experience.

We were both glad we hadn't taken the men along, I because of a couple of reasons:

1. R just wouldn't have got the clothes or the labels or why they were so important. He wouldn't have seen how the heroine looked different after she got a makeover. He would so totally have blanked out on the references to the big fashion names and probably thought Karl Lagerfeld referred to a brand of bottled beer.

2. We have finally acquired the car and he is totally convinced we are on the brink of everlasting penury, so I would have had to do without the popcorn and soft drinks or had popcorn and soft drinks plus long lecture on better financial management.

I don't know how many of you have read the book by Lauren Weisberger. My advice is don't, just go watch the film. This is one rare instance of the film bettering the book by a long, long margin. This of course has a lot to do with the fact that this is fashion you are dealing with, and in the book you just don't get enough of it. While the visual factor is obviously lacking, you also realise that the author is being extremely snooty and derisive about fashion (one reason her book got terrible reviews from a lot of New York critics), while the film maintains a nice balance between being derisive and a little, just the right bit, worshippy.

The characters too are much better etched out in the film. The heroine, Andy Sachs, is a whiny creature in the book, one whose problems you cease to empathise with after a little while. In the film, she's smarter and spunkier. And then there's the Boss from Hell herself -- Miranda Priestly (not-at-all loosely fashioned after Vogue editor Anna Wintour), played by a magnificent Meryl Streep. Her character's much more well-rounded and believable in the film -- in the book she's just this cardboard ogre-figure.

And the clothes, oh the sumptuous, delicious, utterly amazingly beautiful clothes. And, oh, the even more wonderful accessories. You know what they say about building your look around a necklace? This film does it with such style and aplomb (and here one can't help but make unfavourable comparisons with supposed fashion editor Preity Zinta's wardrobe in KANK).

I don't think I've ever revealed this, but I love fashion (though you would never know it to see me, it's that well-kept a secret). On the ride back home (in my new car) I daydreamed of heading Indian Vogue whenever it is launched and even contemplated adding R's surname to mine because I think it would make my name sound a little more glamorous and got a little angry with the parents for lumping me with such a very unglamorous name. But at the end I had decided it (my name) had just the right hint of mystique, so the Vogue guys wouldn't really have anything to complain about.

But more on that later. My name merits a post (maybe multiple ones) on itself and we shall save it for the day I hear the 108th version of it (we're on 88). Meanwhile, do watch this fun, frivolous, completely enjoyable film -- even if women's fashion is not exactly a passion. The man sitting next to me seemed to be enjoying it thoroughly too and I actually heard him thank his girlfriend for making him watch it and I'm really, really not making this up to teach R a lesson for dumping his wife in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Once more, Munnabhai

What a brilliant, funny, touching, complete film this is to be sure! I watched it this weekend, late enough not to feel that I should do a full analysis that does justice to its utter brilliance, but I can only say that half-way through the film I was pumping my fists in the air and exclaiming how this is SUCH a slap in the face of all those directors who've been making silly and mediocre films for the last half century because 'the audience demands it' and because 'we can't make art films, who would watch them?'

I am glad to report that Hindi cinema has finally caught on to the fact that you can turn out a well-made, stylish, tight and totally absorbing film staying right within the limits of your genre. So DCH and Bluffmaster did it as well, but neither of these (and these are just two out of the top of my mind) had the universal appeal of a Lage Raho Munnabhai. [Digression: One point in favour of watching films at Rex as opposed to PVR: people clap, cheer and whistle and you can join right in.]

Only jarring note in the film: Vidya Balan's simpers and smiles (the woman is an Aishwarya Rai in the making). And her 'Good Moooorrrrning Mumbai' that made me feel intensely uncomfortable and extremely sorry for people in Bombay because I suspect that all radio jockeys in the city will now imitate her and imagine waking up to that day after day...

I suspect the likes of Subhash Ghai have already stopped churning out their half-baked melodramas out of sheer insecurity and this should keep them halted for another half century or so. Amen.

P.S. I was eager to see how they would explain away the last film's ending. In spite of Hirani's claims that this was a completely new film with just the same lead characters, I was a bit sceptical about how the audience would react to seeing Munnabhai single again and wooing another woman etc. Needless to say, what they've done is the only way it could have been done, underscoring the core of thought behind this zany caper of a film. Using those two lines from the previous film's hit song Mamu (Ek kahani khatam to dooji shuru ho gayi mamu) was a stroke of genius, I say.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Silly pic

I've been tagged for that silly pig thing by Kung Fu Master (among other things) Samit Basu. I've hitherto been photonymous on this blog, but do not see why I should remain so. I mean, I'm not exactly writing the diary of a London call girl or anything even remotely scurrilous (interesting) here. So here goes:

Time: June 2005

Place: Royal Selangor Pewter factory, somewhere outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Why: Don't ask me. Possibly to save self from passing out out of sheer boredom after being taken through entire pewter factory and having to feign interest in dainty little ladies fashioning dainty little cufflinks out of (just imagine!) pewter. (My only brush with pewter till then had been the fact that Hogwarts students use pewter cauldrons in their first year, a fact that the savvy Royal Selangor guys were aware of since it was up with a bunch of other trivia about this wonder metal or alloy or whatever on a wall.)

What I would change about it: Photoshop the paunch.

And I tag: Ron, Our resident Poet, Rimi, Priya, The Cowlick and Lahar.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Is KANK really so lank?

Well well, everyone's gone and panned KANK, so I must be contrary. Never thought I would say this, but it really turned out to be better than what I'd expected.

You can say clever things about having low expectations and you might be right. But the fact remains that in spite of having to clutch my head in agony at times, I still thought the film did get a few things right. And no, unlike this gentleman, I don't believe a film about infidelity in marriage has to be dark and sombre.

Yes, it was too picturesque. Rani Mukherjee got on my nerves too with her photogenic crying. Both heroines looked as if they'd had to spend the better part of the day putting on eye makeup. Rani's clothes were all wrong, magnificent though her bosom looks. Some of the attempts to make the film wholesome family entertainment, such as by including bits of a kiddie football match, are pathetic. Some of the humour is quite misplaced, as Jai has pointed out. As for SRK, we must all be inured to him by now and must not complain. On the contrary, I am tempted to forgive him for some of the funniest lines which I suspect came from him (like asking Rani in the last scene if she isn't a bit overdressed for the station).

And also, I still haven't figured out why the two lovers go off to make noble confessions to their respective spouses, after having decided to call their affair off. I mean, one of the partners might have such misguided honourable feelings but two people at the same time? That's stretching it a bit.

And yes, I am coming to the reasons why I liked the film. I loved the way Amitabh and Kiron Kher flirt outrageously, I like how Amitabh while dying doesn't hold Rani's hand and beg her to save her marriage, I liked Preity Zinta's character immensely (and that well-timed slap), I like the fact that even smaller characters like the kid Arjun are developed to some extent. Also, I like the way Rani and Shah Rukh delude themselves into believing they are meeting up to discuss their failing marriages, while their attraction towards each other become quite obvious.
Needless to say, people having extra marital affairs do need to have a high degree of ability and willingness to delude themselves , and I don't think it at all unnatural that they take their spouses out for dinner (though to the same restaurant is again silly and unlikely) and spend it staring at the each other.

Which brings me essentially to my main point. Which is that KANK is a majorly confused film made by a director who has a certain set of sensibilities, which he tries to sugar-coat for presentation to an audience that comprises (in a big way) of people with an entirely different understanding of such matters. Which then results in tedious and unnecessary explanations (like the one for Amitabh and Kirron Kher's friendship), several expository scenes (such as Shah Rukh and Rani finally taking the sexual plunge after she makes him jealous at the theatre) and lots and lots of contradictions and over-emphasising.

Clearly, Karan Johar needs to get out of the family entertainment trap before he can translate his 'modern' ideas into a really modern film.

And oh, I also wish he would quickly get tired of New York. I just cannot bear to see autumn leaves swishing around ever again or Shah Rukh Khan walking/shuffling/running with arms outstretched along a picturesque bridge.