Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Invisibles

Yesterday, I caught up with a colleague who had started his work stint under me four years ago. Since then, I have moved to Gurgaon, and he’s jumped two ships. Along with him came a silent colleague who, incidentally, was my replacement in the team I left in Bangalore.
We chatted over dinner for a couple of hours and then headed for a CCD at 11. After half an hour there, the silent colleague finally spoke something. My friend then stepped in and told me that the guy was very well read in spiritual texts, especially Osho. A few questions revealed a man not very materialistic, high work ethics and a philosophical bent.

I empathize with the man. Much of what I have done and read in the past five years are outside the domain of the mainstream discussions. If I follow a famous rape case, see a popular movie, or the exploits of a tycoon – I am immediately in currency. Not so if I am reading about dead civilizations a couple of millennia ago, the theory of absurdism, impressionism, and offbeat literary fiction. The five years have taken a severe toll in my social confidence and only a thing line separates me from a recluse – perhaps it’s been crossed. A month ago, I was sitting at a colleague’s place and he mentioned the date of his marriage anniversary in a gathering, and I mentioned that the date was the very date of a very seminal event in human history and that I’ll never forget it. Immediately, there was an outburst of laughter and shaking of heads. In other times, I would have grinned sheepishly. But inexplicably I felt a surge of anger, even disgust, and only my closeness with the gang kept me seated and silent.

My team in Bangalore had contained four people – one of the guys was a silent sort too and considered a little “weird”. In an offsite, we happened to be sharing a room and while games like Queen of Sheba were being played, we retreated to the room to read. I discovered that this guy was very well read, far beyond me, and had a deep understanding of Urdu literature also.

There is no resolution to the post here. Just points.
The mainstream brings people together in shared tastes and passions, but at the very same time, excludes those whose tastes differ. Some of those, who can afford it, turn snooty and are rightfully called elitists. Elitism is often a disguise for snobbery and I have met very few elitists who actually have substance. But on the other hand, anyone who has a word against the mass taste is unfairly termed an elitist. This is the field of mainstream contemporaneousness with the actors as men. Now in the field of politics, this becomes a fascist tendency to converge in a same identity, a forced syncretism, and the elitists become the worst stereotype/minority sects of the excluded population – jehadis, jews, Up/Biharis.
You might feel that this is an exaggeration but, if you have the wherewithal, think again. Our tendencies and character remains the same in many fields. How I express myself in work has a very strong correlation to my other fields – family, personal space, etc.

A muslim friend once said to me that no matter how much I empathize, I cannot really understand what being a minority meant. True. In the same manner there is an intellectual minority also. By this I do not mean that they are intellectually superior, but just different. Mainstream commercialism, whose mechanism is to fill all the space in search of quantity and use marketing as propaganda to align all tastes to a single consumable commoditized whole, leads to latent ostracization in the same way one of the worst mental punishments in school was when the teacher asked all the other classmates to ignore you.

I always feel a little sad when I meet someone young quite and gauche because what he has to say has mostly no currency in public space. Because there is always a strain of tragedy in their silent dignity.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mandatory voting?
Has the BJP lost its marbles completely?!

Even I remember from my civics, that there are directive principles and there is the law.
The law is to curb our criminal instinct, the directive principles to suggest our civil responsibilities.

Even if voting is our responsibility (which I disagree upon), it can not be implemented as a law. Would I be jailed if I do not vote? Would all the people on the street be jailed for not coming to rescue of a victim being bashed by goons n the streets? Would people be jailed for leaving the tap on after use?

All these are valid punishments if the argument of implementing mandatory voting is gone ahead with the BJP’s argument of voting is "both a right and responsibility." Since, being responsible citizens goes far beyond just the act of voting in a sham feudal democracy.

Monday, December 21, 2009


I came out of Avatar with a headache but that was only the glasses. the movie passes well for a timepass.

But a lot of hype has been created about Avatar and somebody needs to let some of the hot gas out.

First of all, Avatar is not going to sweep you off like they tell you. Pandora looks like a video game world and we have seen enough of that.

That Australian lead star (why are all the Bollywood actors now Punju and the Hollywood ones Australian: have the "brawn without brains" stereotype finally won?) passes well but I have read people rave too much about his anonymity. i hardly think having ben affleck, which worthington resembles a lot, would have made any difference.

the only hype justified is the luscious saldana. who had already fired all the space ships enough in star trek. I suspect, if she hadn't been black, after these two stunning appearances, she would have been crowned as the next Julia Roberts (tho' it still beats me why JR got crowned in the first place). And make no mistake - color still does matter in a still largely WASPish Hollywood mindset.

As for the plot, it's Dances with the Blues in the 3D -- the only difference being that the natives win and manage to transfer the white Costner to a red native in the end. But it still fares against the cliched plot of Cameron's last outing - Titanic.

In the end, Avatar is a watchable flick about everything which is already done and everything which is fashionable - a story against imperialism (only about a half to two centuries late in its time) taking its inspiration (and admitting it) from a 3-D Gollum conceived about seven years ago and a concept - Avatar - which is as mundane in the digital world now as a tweet.

Now digitialising the original Avatar with a panting-blue Shabana Aazmi (her male Avatar spelt as Shabana Aadmi) trekking along with Kanchan screaming about a call which came beyond nature -- that would have been far more interesting. I have always dreamed about a pink Rajesh Khanna in jock straps. Blue is close enough.

This is my 100th post for the year.

By the way, Na'vi (what's with the frigging apostrophe) spells Ivan in reverse. Is it again one of those tiresome tributes HW keeps patting itself with?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Bollywood and Shiv Sena under LET's target

But aren't they supposed to be an outfit against our national interest?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Transparency in Media coverage - IE Editorial


Indian media needs remedial action, and needs it now. As evidence had poured in about how election reporting is widely up for sale (methodically exposed by The Hindu) and how articles and programming all too often do not carry disclosures on sponsorship (as detailed in two reports in The Sunday Express), the media have been forced to look harder at our own linty navel. It is perhaps no surprise that there exists a sophisticated persuasion industry, spanning politics, business, sport and entertainment, which aims to use the news media as brand battleground — to shine a politician’s image right before an election, sell a razor or provide publicity for a movie — and do it sneakily, pretending to be a straight piece of news.
There is an entire range of such insidious practices, from private treaties to advertisements in return for buying up newspapers and inflating circulation, besides more complex kinds of implication — impacting both the reportorial and editorial fronts. For too long, much of the mainstream media in India has gotten away with prissy exhortations to transparency, responsibility and ethics even as their own marketing departments are busy shilling. TV networks which never tire of meta commentary on the lines of the New Yorker cartoon — “Welcome to All About the Media, where members of the media discuss the role of the media in media coverage of the media” — have an even harder time living with themselves, as their sanctimony clashes with brand partnerships that make it hard to separate truth and marketing lies. It is public faith in the need for a free media that guarantees the freedom of the press and checks against interference by government. It is this faith — and therefore this freedom — which is at stake. To be fair, many newspapers and TV networks are now instituting a verifiable set of norms, but they need to be held to their word.
Sections of the media that are complicit in this selling might feel clever about the way it swells their coffers, but are oblivious to the way it imperils their very foundations — and devalues the very space they put on sale. At a time when media outlets are staving off the avalanche of amateur content and trying to convince the world how desperately it needs them — that journalism is a vital public trust, an essential for a full-throated democracy — this is exactly the kind of practice that punctures the grand talk. The Indian media is so far insulated from the larger industry crisis, but one would think that in the interim, they would try and shore up a sense of professional credibility. It’s all we have.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

first rains - 3

A word: Thank you for reading the earlier bits. I like to kid myself that I write for myself alone but your words matter a lot. They always have.
i am posting these as I write them with little editing.

Continued from Part I and Part II.

I rise from the bed and gulp some water from the bottle. I pull in my slippers and slip in a jacket and grab the cigarettes pack. A slight shiver runs across me as I open the door to the balcony. The rain has stopped. I lean over the railing steel, with a jacket padded elbow – the icy wetness of the short shower quickly eats through it. The cigarette burns quickly to a stub. (Sudda inspects the stub in his hand and asks me in white vapory words, ‘Why do cigarettes finish faster in the winters, yaar? You ever noticed that? Oxygen?’ I ruminate, ‘Nyah, I think they burn at the same rate. It’s only you want them to last longer in the winters.’) I smoke another one. Halfway through, I turn to rest the other elbow on the railing and hold my head in my hands, and knead it. I don’t want to remember. A door long closed, its key lost, opened a crack and a heap of images rush out: chachi breaks from a conversation and rushes to the kitchen filling with the stench of burnt milk, Abhay pulls the legs out of a grasshopper with Bua’s tweezers, Ba catches me draining the milk in the commode and I wither under her cold silent stare, Badi ma sits still at the puja after her bath smelling like the first rains, the sunlight from the window falling in rhomboid patterns over her white sari, I race behind Preeti and we rush into a visitor defecating behind a bush who brings down his dhoti at the last minute, the dark cool inside of the fireplace, the chipped end of the takhat in the courtyard leading to the kitchen which always caught my shorts, the strong fermenting smell of pickles in the larder, the termites like dark brown tear-stains on the dank walls, the corners behind the curtains and sofas where we hid in our games, the edge of the clouds I peeped over – fascinated by the doll-house world beneath but purblind to the uncoiling serpent of its dark intents: the hush-hush of conspiracies, the tense tussle of power, and the game of gnawing attrition.

Slowly, the desert receded from my consciousness. Every afternoon while the house slept, I tiptoed around, learning to slowly push the old doors without making them creak, and explored its secret corners. I climbed the tin trunks in the store-room and discovered a row of stone slabs built into the wall behind where I could sneak in and never be discovered in all the hide-and-seek games. I climbed over the window mesh to explore a cylindrical hole below the sky window and discovered an abandoned nest. I discovered behind the big clay pot in the drawing room the cool dark alcove under the chimney of the fireplace where one could stand and raise his eyes to catch a chink of daylight in the distance and hear the warbled echoes of the winds. I climbed over the rails of the closed doors and peeped over their lites to discover roomfuls of furniture covered in dusty blankets. I discovered colonies of ants in the cracks of the stone steps of the verandas and secreted sugar crystals from the kitchen to watch them discover the cache, hurriedly send for reinforcements and then lug them away. I discovered the books of my grandfather, inside storage cupboards over the built-in almirahs, wrapped in thin diaphanous cloths smelling of the naphthalene balls which had been dropped inside. But all these discoveries were nothing till I mastered the skies. The silent world of skylights that dotted the walls of each room, dropping a feet below the high ceilings, and with their open shutters, half-rotated on their hinges, looking like the eyes of Ents keeping a silent vigilance over the bustling intrigues of the small humans, with bored sardonic eyes.

The house was a single storied bungalow with high ceilings and painted a cream yellow outside every Diwali only to turn a mysterious green by the time the summers came. The roof was reached by a makeshift bamboo ladder which wobbled madly on the mornings, twice in a year, when Madhav would climb it to put on the tricolour on the flagstaff standing over the portico, and in the evening to take them off. Sometimes, after the rains, he would be sent up to clear the water-clogging. But no one else was permitted to climb up, least of all us children – the only time we secretly tried, managing to prop the ladder against the roof after several tries, the gaps between its rungs were too much for us, and we fled after it came crashing down. After that, Badi ma had the ladder kept chained to one of the pipes.

We even tried climbing up the pipes but they were too slippery under our fingers. After that we gave up trying to find a breach to the roof. Or rather, they gave up. I persisted alone, in these hours of family siesta, and one day discovered a purchase in a deep crack on the wall of the guest room opening to the courtyard, the chabootra, overlooking the back garden where an English couple had once sat; it had been the room from where I had watched my first rain and usually remained unoccupied at that hour. I climbed the jaali of the window which ran through the entire length of the room ending in a door on the other side, biting my lips the first few times when the splayed fingers of my foot pinched against the metal mesh, and, with a hand slipped inside the crack, swung my other leg to a brick protruding at the edge where the wall of the room met the low wall dropping down the stairs and partitioning the garden from the inner courtyard, and clambering up to the top of this wall, heaved myself the two feet up to the roof over the guest room. I sat tired and proud on the parapet, turning my head slowly and taking in everything – the kitchen, the courtyard with the old wooden takhat, the passage boxed between the drain and Badi Ma’s bathroom, the door opening to the back garden, and from there to the farthest tree at the edge of the wall – in a single sweep. The door to the far side, leading to the servants’ quarters, opened and I ducked out of sight.

The flat tar and gravel roof, I discovered, was built in three ascending layers of roughly four-feet height. At the brink, stood the smaller outer rooms, the guest room I had just climbed over being one of them. These hemmed in the middle rooms: the four large bedrooms, and the cavernous dining room with the elongated eight-seating dining table in the middle (how often I would be reminded of it in the early days at the boarding-school when I would see the burnishing patches of sunlight on the long tables in the refectory) and the heavy sideboard pushed against the wall separating it from the drawing room; the wall broken by a heavily-curtained door at each end. Thrust in the middle of these rooms, and rising over the layered planes like a pulpit, was the flat hexagon of the drawing room – two of the bigger bedrooms on its either sides, the dining room abutting the back and the front dropping steeply to the low roof over the portico. It was the room where the chain of the heavy chandelier and the downrods of the fans dropped several feet below resting about fifteen feet over the sofas; it was almost a custom with the guests from the village to hesitate at the doorsteps of the tall front door and then enter with a humility and awe reserved for the great cathedrals, their eyes slowly taking in the vastness of the room – the maize-coloured terrazzo dominating the floor despite the two sets of sofas over thick carpets thrown against the walls, the mantelpiece facing the door half-hidden behind a giant pedestal holding the plaster bust of grandfather’s father, the tall portraits of the Nehrus and the Gandhis dominating each face of the walls – and then slowly rise to the ceiling, and invariably fixing open-mouthed on the Raj-era crystal chandelier that filled the view, unmindful of the dark shadows under the skylights beyond from where we watched them.

The skylights were on each face of the walls where the middle rooms met the outer rooms and the drawing room met the middle rooms. Flat rectangles about a feet high and three across, the frames rotating a quarter on hinges, opened and shut by cords passing through a metal loop and dropping in the room to be secured and twined around a hook; outside: an awning of falling cement between two brackets to check the rains and the mid-day sun. From below, we hardly noticed them despite the chinks of light that sneaked between the awning and the slat and, leaving debris of dancing-dust on its trail, lit warm patches on the floor. Even if one would lift the eyes towards them, one would have to squint and shade them with a palm, for the sunlight was white and near-blinding, and the rest dark in the shadows of the awning. From the above though, one did not have to squint. Once, squatting, the head had been pushed under the awning and over the horizontal slat, and after one had pulled away the cobwebs from the face and held the sneeze, the rooms below opened like tableaux; and one could suck leisurely into the lives bustling below– silently, unseen, undetected.

Sitting on the front seat of the double decker, we watch the bus part through the flooded lanes like a ship strayed into the heart of a city along with the high tide. ‘I have always understood the world from here. Hovering a little above it, watching its machinations and thus slowly understanding them. Below, with them, I feel – overwhelmed.’

Understand me, Shaz. I was not born in the chaos like you. I had been suddenly thrust into the Manor. Even, the reception party waiting for us at the platform had numbered at least thirty-three, if the photograph – papa standing in the middle, his face hidden behind three thick garlands, one hand over Preeti’s left shoulder, who stares at the camera confused yet defiant, Badi Ma’s hand on her head, swathes of aunts cousins uncles kids in a wide semi-circle around, and the train still steaming behind – did not miss out too many of them. (I am that bundled form across Ba’s right shoulder; fatigued: the pink doctor’s first diagnosis.) Even after they scattered, the house remained too close to my face for me to pick out its features. I looked up the ceilings till my neck hurt but instead of reverence, I was filled with dread at its enormity. I would find myself in a strange room and run around frantic for a familiar face, pushing doors at random, but each door would bring me to a similar room with another four doors leading away from it. Slowly, I adjusted – the strangers assimilated into a familiarity. I learnt to find my way through the rooms. And yet my understanding came with the exhaustion of a non-native speaker listening and translating in his head.

Once in a coffee-house in Chicago I had heard a noise, a thud. Everyone else had known that sound well enough to be not bothered by it and had, without a pause, continued with their books, conversations and thoughts; only I had raised my eyes and was looking around uncomprehending. In that moment, I had understood what being an alien meant. My fascination with the house, the discovery of its secrets one by one, never quelled my anxiety of still not having understood it; of my still being a tourist – an outsider with no claim.

The skylights were like a mesh of surveillance screens and the house, suddenly bared, a doll house with its roof carefully plucked away, finally revealed its true shape and geometry to me. They opened in all the main rooms of the main wing, except for the outer ones, which included the box rooms, and the dressing rooms and the bathrooms – the canny Englishman had realised and pre-empted their threat in these private rooms. The bustle and activity became the games of Lilliputian people, held in giant invisible hands – my hands – and accoutred from a choice of stuff – what I chose – scuttling across floors, acknowledging each other when they came across by stopping and exchanging platitudes (‘Sarla ko dekha?’ ‘Nahin, puja ke kamre mein to nahi hai?’ ‘ Haan, wahaan dekhtee hun’ – figures part in different directions), and then pushing the door to some another room, with I rushing above them to the window to the room being entered, and continuing with their same silly game.

I do not remember how long that phase of initial excitement lasted. The Manor at last sunk beneath my consciousness and then disappeared. The games inside became quotidian and boring. I turned away from the windows and walked to the edge of the parapets and looked at the world beyond. It was a world more accessible, a foreshortened panorama, not the distant sweeps of sand dunes that I had seen from our fourteenth storied flat. The back garden, the front lawn, the wall running like a track and dividing them, the wild orchard filling the back garden, the trimmed and hedged front lawn, and beyond, over the wall, the might red walls of the governor’s residence; a stray cyclist, rickshaw, sometimes a car, drifting along the road separating the two high walls. The flatness of this world, its enoughness was strangely comforting. I climbed up one day and instead of the skywindows just walked along the parapet to the middle of the room, and sat down. The chabootra a few feet of drop below me, a parrot pecking at a guava in a tree, the air still. I brought my knees together and hugged them. At that moment, the Manor and I were one.

And then Preeti heaved herself up the edge of the roof I had just climbed over.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Fight Club Revisited

Am I getting old?

Revisited Fight Club and found the mindless anarchy (mayhem, as they call it) and some of the dialogues a bit juvenile.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

On Ben playing Shah jahan

Gandhi at his charkha sitting and spinning a yarn (a cottony one, that is) in a dawn full of pink (as a mark of respect to World AIDS Day).

‘Ah, Mr. Gandhi!’

‘Yes?’, Gandhi asks testily.

‘I had a dream last night!’

‘Not again, Jinnah!’, Gandhi leaves the charkha and moves away, ‘Not another of your dreams again! I don’t want to listen to them.’

‘But Gandhi ji, wait na! Please hear me out.’

Gandhi pauses, ‘Was it dry?’

‘Huh? You mean the morning bowel movements?’

‘No, the dream! And what the Vaishanavojan are dry bowel mov – no! don’t tell me!’

‘Yes! It was dry! As dry as – as dry as your loincloth!’

‘What the? Are you the one who’s picking them from the washing line and using them as towels? Are you? Don’t put that innocent PussinBoots look – if only you could see how horrible you look doing that. Do you know how it feels going to meet world leaders with a wet cloth shrink-wrapped around your loins? Nothing can be more embarrassing!’

‘Oh yes, there can be.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘You could have an erection. That’s why I always say these Savile Row trousers are the best.’

‘Paah, don’t have them anymore. The condition -- and the suits.’

‘You’ll have one after you hear this one.’

Gandhi squints hard at Jinnah, ‘I thought you told me it was a dry one.’

‘Oh it was, Mr. Gandhi. You figured in it after all.’

Gandhi moves towards Jinnah and stares hard at him, ‘I?’


‘What the IshwarAllah was I doing in your mind?’

‘Search me. I imagined you in a Mughal costume – or perhaps it was your Bhanji (Gandhi: ‘My niece? But she was sleeping besides my mat all the time!’) – no some guy called Bhanji who looked like you – a more sculpted nose though – yeah, and the guy who was you was chasing a damsel in veil around marble pillars, and pining for her.’

Gandhi ji’s eyes milk over, ‘Ah, that must be Lady Truth then.’

‘Hmm, I never knew Truth was so well stacked.’

‘What else, Jinno? This is interesting.’

‘Then you catch hold of that damsel and get 14 kids out of her.’

‘14? Are you sure it was not 3?’

‘Nope, 14. I drafted a point every time one came out. Believe me, I had to pad up the list a lot for your sake.’

Gandhi frowns and paces about, ’14? Even if I add the Middle Way, as Ambedkar keeps pushing me to, I can only push it to 11… where can I get the other 3? What sort of message is this?’

To Jinnah: ‘what else did you see, Jinnah?’

Jinnah scrunches his eyes and tries to remember hard, 'While you were getting these 14 ways with that buxom honest woman, there was this man - behind one of the white pillars - singing - singing?'

Gandhi's eyes light, 'Vaishnav Jan?'

'Nope, something more like - 'Yeh kya ho raha hai, yeh kya ho raha hai... I think the guy was the father of this Truth babe or something like that.'

'Ah, He must be Conscience then, the father of Truth!'

'Conscience has a white goatee?', Jinnah pulls his trousers out a little and stares down his crotch, 'I think I also have a conscience then after all.'

Gandhi gives him a disgusted look, 'Forget that. What else did you see after that?'

Jinnah releases his trousers and it snaps back against his stomach, ‘Then I saw you nuzzling between the breasts of a Spanish girl.’


‘Yeah, call her Lady Peace if you want, but she was some piece, man.’

‘You told me this was a clean dream.’

‘It was. The main bits were blocked out with a red tag offering me a free 3-days trial.’

***Have deleted the rest of the story as it gets nasty on a guy I admire – Gandhi.***

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Luck -- The review

It’s tough to dispute a movie which sticks to its promise so tenaciously.Luck is about luck and it will keep reminding you about that after every 15 seconds.

Sample this one exchange:

Sunjay Dutt (who, being Musa, is always accompanied by an Arabic sort of music whenever he makes an entry, which is all the time, or does something like whirl a pistol in his hands in silhouette): Maqsood ki taqdeer (luck) ko nazar lag gayi. Who kehte hain na: duniya saali jalti hai, jab taqdeer(luck) chalti hai. The only things sure about luck is that it will change. Luck saalaa ek hi cheez ki guarantee ke saath aataa hai – ki who saalaa kabhi bhi badal sakta hai. Kyun Major?

Mithun (Major): Na luck badalta hai, na insaan ki taqdeer (luck). Insaan ka waqt badalta hai, Musa!

Despite hailing from “Luck”now, I have never heard “Luck” so many times in my entire life as I did in these two hours.

Luck is about a Roadies type game where the girls do not fight and the contestants are, thankfully, allowed to die. It is impossible to review the movie by conventional measures – just like a triple rated adult movie would be. (Though I am reminded of a friend from college whose comment after one such movie was – “Story mein dam nahi tha.”) Acting, character development, and even thrills are all incidental. This movie is about luck – its different forms – and in how many corny manners it can be spoken of. It lifts its material from famous short stories, B-grade Hollywood flicks, and the cheesiest Bollywood fare.

In short, I enjoyed Luck. It’s like Ghaayal showing major yesterstars in a series of hospital beds, all ghaayal, exchanging dialogues about how they got there.

Sanjay – Major, meri yeh yalgaar thi ki main kabhi gaar-yal nahi hunga.

Mithun – Musa, insaan hosh mein tab aataa hai jab woh disco ki stage par ho aur Rajesh Khanna usse Gaa-yell kar raha ho.

Ravi Kissen (to Imraan) – Oye chikane, hee-hee-hee, tu banegaa meri paayal?

Imraan – Nahi. Tab tu karega mujhe peechhe se ghaayal.

Danny enters – Generator mein tel khatam ho raha hai. Tum sab logon ka life support chalaa jayega. Kisee ke paas ho–gaa aa-yal(oil)?

Yes. It’s something like that. If you think there is anything in Luck other than word-play around kismet, taqdeer and luck, do find it and let me know. Even the songs are about luck aazmaa-ing and choreographed with the actors cramped in giant letters of – take a guess – no – not that – what? Why the hell would.. anyway.. not that too – give up? LUCK.

Sanjay Dutt is the lucky man – which has nothing to do with the fact that he’s allegedly humped every moving thing of the feminine persuasion in Bollywood – who arranges lucky men to test their lucks against blank cartridges, non-functioning parachutes and sharks (Other than the Citifinancial ones most of them are trying to evade). He chooses Ram, via his hechman Danny – again this has nothing to do with his having exhausted with all the females and Imran with his luscious lips being the next best thing – for a game because he’s so lucky. So lucky that he was born in the house of Aamir Khan. In the movie though Imraan has one bad luck – his father – who dies after, as the policeman, tells doing what harshad did in 1992. this is the director’s way of showing that the story is as grounded in Indian reality as Sunju baba's helicopter landing in the middle of a Bombay Coffee Day; even Dhanbad is mentioned in passing. Ram’s mom is Rati Agnihotri and Ram does as many facial expressions as her prolific cousin, Atul Agnihotri, once did in Aatish, again with Sunju, and which has since inspired countless such no-brainers.

Mithun is an army major who never gets killed (Indian fauj's lucky mascot) though a rather incompetent one, always ending up getting his entire batallion massacred. Rupa Ganguly, who with every passing year reminds me more of Anju Mahendru, his wife refuses to die and he has to arrange some 20 lakhs for an operation, the details of which are never made clear to even Mithun. Mithun fishes out the calculator and makes the right choice of getting the money by risking his life – and luck. He figures that the cost of the kilometres of kafan needed to swaddle the erstwhile Draupadi would be much higher.

Ravi Kissen is a serial killer who is hanged for murdering some 11 girls but the knot of the rope of his noose slips – which again reminded me of the chain of a rickshaw in Lucknow which slipped at least a million times the day of my ICSE board making me an hour late. Unfortunately, I was never pardoned from that exam; but Ravi is because of a loophole in the law that no man can be hung twice (yes, it’s illegal to be twice hung – in case you were planning to get an extra implant). A distortion of “can’t be tried twice” but hey! This is Bollywood. And, to think of it, Indian law.

Now Ravi wants to loosen some other knots – those of the bikini of the debutant Shruti Hassan who passes muster (Her being Saar’s daughter – how can I say otherwise?!) and thankfully looks more like Sarika than Kamal. Otherwise it would have been really disturbing seeing Imraan woo her and Ravi try to rape her.

There is that Haryanvi girl from Chak De who does a good job in a role written as an afterthought. As part of her contract she has to speak about camel, since she rode camels (in a decent way) in Pakistan, every now and then and that’s understandable.

Then there are the extras, black white and yellow contestants, who never know they’re dead the moment they signed up for a luck-to-death game in a Hindi channel. I have heard that Tom Alter is livid he did not get an opportunity to recite some Urdu poems on taqdeer.

Did I miss anyone?

Yes, there was Mr Mukku Ambani doing a cameo (a cameo and not a camel – and no, Miss Haryana doesn’t ride him) as a South Indian don as the picture on the right shows. Nice try, Ambu! You thought you would escape unnoticed? Bad times, huh?

The one positive I got from the movie is that Danny and Mithun are signing up movies. Somebody please take these fine actors and give them the movie they deserve while they last.

Given that there was little to look in the movie other than the letter Luck (which, like Tyler, appeared in blinks throughout the movie), I still managed one astounding discoveries.

The Chosen. Nothing less.

For years I have despaired that Kishan Kumar never had a worth successor. Just like my grandmother hints at my marriage by asking me to show a pota before she ummm you know (It’s been a shock for me in the past couple of years in how many elderly relatives in my family have turned out to be salivating paedophiles), I know I can die peacefully now.

I had heard about Imran but this is the first time I am seeing him. Why the hell didn’t anyone tell me about his fantastic eyebrows? You can lose a wallet in them! Of course, the greatest of them still remains untouched as the snap below amply shows.

You don't have to be a big high-brow to join us -- just big eye-brows would do.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

being honest

Sometimes I find an unexpected affinity in a blog and later realise htat the blogger is a decade younger to me.


Is it because after an age it doesn’t matter? Is life happening faster these days? Or is it just me who is still somewhat stunted in my imagination and realizations? Or was I too blind earlier? Or is it just talk whereas I come from the walk?

One of the blogs I silently followed has called it a day. The reason, the writer says, is that too many people who know the blogger in real life know about it and she’s too conscious to write about the truly personal stuff.

It is eerie as I face the same dilemma. Something happened to me a month ago, a knowledge, that laid to waste the best years of my life. It is impossible to paraphrase it without dragging some people here but I feel an innocence, a belief in goodness has been permanently washed away from me. It’s made me a colder, more mistrusting man than I was.

One epiphany, linked to my writing is, the idea that people who tell everything are basically honest and open is crap. This is not a rule but I feel people talk and talk because by doing so they feel they can control whatever happens. I am talking about the kind of talking where a person pushes you towards an opinion (there is a kind of talking where the person is just bursting with ideas and using you as a bouncing board and that is different).

‘You know, I saw Ram also there. Tch tch, poor fellow, he’s still heartbroken his wife was cheating on him’ sort. Where you're told that ram is the person to pity and his wife a villain.

I have always been disappointed in my habit of letting out more than what I should have. I always admired people who knew what to say and not what to. Now, I realise it partly arose from the compulsion to be honest. Telling someone, ‘I went to goa with a couple friend, the guy is my best friend. We had a great time.’ is a helluva lot different from ‘I went to goa with a couple friend, the guy is my best friend, but I was secretly screwing his wife nevertheless. We had a great time.’ and yet I have seen people who have been very close to me do exactly that. I pause here as the temptation to reveal the extent to which I have been misled is too much here.

There are two extremes in me – either I remain totally silent and wrapped in a cocoon if there is even one person in the crowd I do not trust; or I am obscene. Fortunately, I have found friends where I can be the latter and they’ll still call me back. Coming from a joint family, I have seen how unconsciously and innocently your darkest confidences can be the grist for the daily dose for gossip and intrigues.

I wish it hadn’t happened because I knew it had but I had trusted the person too much to heed my instinct. Now I know I am incapable of trusting that much. Whenever I will see a father wrap his paw around a girl I would believe that he has a hard on – unless proved otherwise.

I never respected Gandhi before I read his autobiography. I gasped when I read how he described that he was screwing his wife while his father was dying and sleeping nekked with nieces revelation. That is honesty. Giving the axes to his detractors forever and yet telling everything or nothing at all.

Honesty is a pact we keep with ourselves, and no one else.

I hope I can follow the path of Gandhi – or remain silent. But nothing between.