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Bengalis (by birth) like me do not like to admit that they have a sweet tooth. They land up at a Bengali get together(read : loud exchange of  opinioned ideas on everything and anything) and when offered, push their open palms in the air, like that on an invisible bench press and noisily decline “mishti khaabo naa …sugar achhe“(no sweets for me, I have blood sugar)”. And then after the party, on the way back, ask the wife “do we still have any of that key lime pie you made? “.

And then some days, during the coffee machine chit chat when I am asked . “you are Bengali right … you must love rosogolla?” And the sarcastic genes inside me scream “thanks for the stereotype, again!”. But on the outside, I say ” I love sandesh as much “, totally forgetting the part where I am supposed to go …”actually I do not like sweets at al. I have blood sugar .Instead; I love to use jalapeno seeds as mouth freshener“. But that never happens!!

What I am attempting to draw from the above, is how you could be immensely fulfilled with two completely disparate experiences from the same source. Another example  – when on a perfect day  your wife is giving you the silent treatment, and making spicy onion masala uttapam ,both at the same time!!  As for the female readers, I do not have an example … since men usually are not good with multi tasking!!

So when I watched Kaminey, (something which I have wanted to do since its release last year) it was that whole different kind of happiness feeling. “This is a complete movie” I told myself . Just like ..The Blue Umbrella.  And yet completely, unlike. The source – the creative genius of  Vishal Bharadwaj !! The man who has been proven guilty of being in my list of favorite directors, composers and all of that jazz since his Maachis days!! He started of as a composer and of late made some really good movies.

Now about these two movies. Why did I pick just these two?  Purely because of the experience as a viewer, watching two of his creations which have no one common point that they meet at, be it theme, design or any of those elements that work towards graduating a good story into an awesome movie and yet inspire me to write a post about them. Whether anyone is reading or not!! Wait, I did not mean that. I do care about who is reading. I digress. Let’s get back shall we, to my duo- analysis, or whatever this may be called.

The Blue Umbrella touches you,  for the simple story (courtesy: the esteemed Ruskin Bond). Pankaj Kapoor (side note: I am his fan since his Karamchand days) as usual is brilliant in the role of an aged shopkeeper who desires to own something which does not belong to him. The Blue Umbrella – the prized possession of a little girl. The movie was shot in Himachal Pradesh and just like me, as you watch the film, you will want to be part of that rustic ambience. There is innocence, love, deceit and finally utter kindness that make this a masterpiece. To me that is the sign of a great conversation – one that happens between the characters and the audience. Thank you Vishal !!

About Kaminey, let me start with the music. It will blow you away!! That is, if you are open to the idea of being blown away by music, I mean. Since the time the music released (last year), whenever we are in our small blue car, I have made myself, Onga and his mom listen to Dhan Te Nan as the overture to any journey, be it as insignificant as a quick run for diapers. And I digress again.

And I am back. Kaminey’s story is one which cannot be called unpredictable. But sometimes  cliché, when served nicely tastes good, kinda like how karela (bitter melon) would taste like honey, if Priyanka Chopra were to serve it to me. Talking of her, she did pretty good in her “not so glamorous” role in Kaminey. As for Shahid – job well done, times two (he plays twins in the movie)!! All the actors who acted as crooks, including the Bengali trio did very well, proof being I was rooting for them when they set the house(s) on fire. You see, it is not every day, that you see Bengali men who have an established career as kingpin(s) in Mumbai!! Good story with beautiful songs (which fit in perfectly even in this Satya style story) makes Kaminey one of my all time favorites. Thank you Vishal !!

In essence, this is my personal message to all movie makers – “I have some news for you. If one of your hits was a thriller, guess what, your next one need not be one, unless you are Shyamalan , and even he made some bad mistakes for e.g. The Happening.  So, ..please explore, and make us feel…. what good movie making (no matter what the story) is all about. Kinda like what I heard in the men’s room of Lighthouse cinema (Calcutta) so many years ago – “ khel khatam, paisa hajam” (the show is over, it was worth every penny)!!” The End!!

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One of the incentives of being married to a girl from South India is easy access to kick ass South Indian food! ” After having gained hundreds of pounds, since I transitioned from “self” cooking to “herself” cooking, it is but natural of me to delight in my wife’s culinary skills . Now, if she was not a great cook. I would have started this post slightly different. I would probably say, “One of the perks of being married to a girl from South India is easy access to some of the greatest movies”. Now that is a fact, which by the way sits perfectly well with me as well. I am not sure if she can say similar thing(s) about being married to a Bengali. But for that she needs to start her own blog.

My love affair with South Indian movies (mainly: Tamil) began almost the same time, that I started ogling my “baby momma” from the last bench of our engineering class. Back then, I was always humming Tamil songs, watching Tamil movies and gawking (from behind myopic glasses) at a certain Telugu girl…and let me tell you, I was committed to all three responsibilities to the best of my ability. I listened to the songs, for they made me happy, even the sad ones did. Once I had listened to a song I needed to go watch the movie. Unless of course it was movie like Padayappa, in which case, the music would suffice!! And being new to South India, I wanted to feel safe in the company of someone who could speak Tamil and was a treat to sit next to, in the theatre!! For the first time in my life, there was purpose to everything I did!! I journeyed with the stars during those several hours in at Devi theatre and Satyam complex.

Disclaimer : Before I go any further I would like to remind the reader that anything that I say beyond this point on, is from within my limited knowledge about Tamil cinema. I am just another Bengali who used to live in the Kodabakkam area during my undergrad and was exposed (rather densely) to the Tamil film world, both on and off-screen. I am no movie expert and my views are purely based on how I have felt towards each of these creations of art. So what follows is not a review, but an attempt to collate how I felt as a member of the audience.

The most significant characteristic about Tamil movies (from recent years) that I find so absorbing is the style of narration. A film maker picks a simple story and makes it into a 90 minute package of pure entertainment. These are great movies made from everyday life events. They are rich in emotion and easy to relate to.

One of the Tamil directors that I am a huge fan of, is Cheran. I have watched all his movies, the early ones without even knowing who he is. It was not until recently when I found out that Porkaalam is one of his movies. It had one of my favorite songs – “Thanjavur man eduthu . Beautiful words woven with the popular “gaana” style of music by Deva. I digress. It was the brilliance of his movie, Autograph, that got me sitting up and paying more attention to his work. I was moved by the sensitive elements of life in his stories, masterfully played out by artists (including Cheran) who did full justice to every character they portrayed. Maya Kannadi felt too close to me,  since our neighbours in the building we used to live in were two girls who worked as assistants to a make up artist.  

Pokkisham is the latest Cheran movie that I watched. I had not read any reviews. I never do. I think it ruins the “wow” factor that cinema deserves. It is a love story, one which is spun out of pain and emotions that will make you want to reach out into the lives of the characters and redo the story all over again.Parts of the movie were filmed in Calcutta and the scenes portrayed, brought back to me, glimpses from my childhood memories of the city. What was most admirable was how Cheran was successful in preserving the 70’s look of Calcutta. Cheran is just perfect in his role and as always so is Padmapriya and together, they acquaint us with how one’s love and life can sometimes part ways for good. And when that happens, it hurts bad and truly nothing can ever make that pain go away. We get through life with that pain, every moment of it, knowing that things could have been different. Sure, there are other movies which touch similar topics, but nothing I have watched stirred me the way this movie did. And I think art like this is not to be compared.

What Pokkisham brought to me, was an aide memoire about the definition of true love!! What a lot of us hear about, some experience and some will never know. Over the years, I have become, what I would like to believe – Cheran’s biggest “non Tamilian” fan. Someday if I do meet him, I wish to stand up in honor, shake his hand and tell him – “thank you for sharing all that beauty!!

I leave you with the  last scenes (sorry no subtitles), when Nadheera sheds silent tears for a love she deserved for a lifetime!! A lifetime, too late!!

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Thanks to the densely retarded media world – Tiger Woods’ press conference about his alleged affairs with 25,781,230,732.00 girls got a lot of publicity !! Apparently there were reporters from as far east (matter of perspective) as Japan, to cover this “very important” news event, though if you were not as half drunk as I am, you would think, that they would cover the Winter Games or the aftermath of Haiti relief efforts instead. Now how about that ? Do you think Mr.Baby Face can touch celebrity excellence ? Would the world stop salivating and try to remember that every celebrity’s private life is his/her own business ? Would Tiger come out of the Woods again?

You guessed it right !! I was up all night yesterday. Making corrections to the speech that the Tiger had to deliver this morning in Florida. He did not get time to thank me personally !! He was busy doing Betty  pretty important stuff himself. I must warn you ….what follows is a glimmer of im mature  insanity and if you are wearing pace maker(s) or suffer deep rashes on your skin from rat poison …….you should probably consider revisiting this blog at a later time ….. !! If you still want to face it …. do not complain ……I did warn you …!!

beginning of transcript………

Good morning, and thank you for joining me so early after a wild night..Many of you in this room are my girl friends. Many of you in this room know me intimately. Many of you have cheered topless for me or you’ve worked with me or you’ve supported me through my infidelity.

Now every one of you has good reason to demand some cash reward to be critical of me and my body odor . I want to say to each of you, simply and directly, Screw You !! I am not in the least deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish self pleasure behavior I engaged in with all of you hot babes.

I know people want to find out where the sex tapes are how I could be so selfish and so foolish not to sell them on Ebay. People want to know how was it to party with porn stars  I could have done these things to my wife, forget her name Elin, and to my children. And while I have always tried to be a private strip dancer person, there are some parties things I want to  dance with Paris Hilton and her muah muah say.

Elin and I have started the process of discussing about getting a new maid and the damage caused by the golf clubs my behavior. As Elin pointed out to me we already have “18 ” ass holes, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words but a diamond bracelet and onion rings; it will come from my reality show Cheating in the Bunker behavior over time. We have a lot to discuss about pre extramarital affair agreements; however, what we say to each other will be available for sale during Christmas on Amazon  remain between the two of us.

I am also aware of the pain in the privates my tiger “balms” behavior has caused to all the honey bunch Cheerios those of you I have “played with” in this room. I have let you use my iPad down, and I have let down my pants fans. For many of you, especially my hooker friends, my performance behavior has been a personal disappointment. To those of you who have been paid out work for me, what the f@#$ are you still doing here?? I have let you down personally and professionally. My bad breath behavior has caused considerable worry to my mistresses business partners…………..

much blah blah ensued ……and then finally …….

That also means cheating some more relying on others for help with fake excuses. I’ve learned to seek athletic support from my underwear company peers in therapy, and I hope this evening someday to return to the club scene that support to others who are seeking for some quick bogies help. I do plan to return home in the morning to golf one day, I just don’t know through which window when that day will be.

I don’t rule out getting high on weed that it will be this year. When I do start drinking and gambling return, I need some extra cash to make it to Hooters my behavior more respectful of the game. In recent weeks, I have received many thousands of free condoms in the mail e-mails, letters and phone calls from the Mothers Against Drunk Pregnancy people expressing their deepest desires good wishes. To everyone who slept with me has reached out to me and my family, let’s do it again and again and again thank you. Your fetishes encouragement means that now I can have my own naughty movie the world to Elin and me.

I want to thank The Hilton, Marriott, Red Roof Inn, Motel 6, Sulabh Complex PGA Tour, Commissioner Finchem and the belly dancers players for their patience and understanding while I keep scratching work on my private parts life. I look forward to seeing you all in Room 420 my fellow players on the course.

Finally, there are many people in this room who I have not yet slept with, and there are many people at home who believed they would sleep with me in me. Today, I want to ask for your phone numbers, emails and Facebook ids  help. I ask you to find a nice hotel with a spa room in your heart to one day believe in UFOs me again.

Damn, I need to work on my strokes!! Thank you.

 end of transcript…….

As you must have guessed by now, the man is really ashamed of his actions !! I would say he is bleeding and wants to make an reentry. Wait ….that came out all wrong !! What I am really trying to say is …. let us pretend (for a second or so)  that we believe in every word he said or thought he said !! That does not make sense either. …..what the putt !!

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The following happened between 10:00 and 10:05 pm …….

Attentive late night walk in the patli gali (diet controlled walkway between rooms) by the mom of the child, who refuses to give in to her efforts of trying to make him drift away into dreams about soft toys,teethers and every “lickable” piece of furniture. But exhaustion has its rewards.”Aapka beta bahut aekteev hai“(your son is very active).The couple exchange a grin (heck yeah ..we have our reasons) each time someone decides to state the obvious…….!! “We like to tire him out so that we have time to catch up on the latest and greatest that is happening in the movie industry …….around the globe “….(really ??)..though that would be inhuman to admit..so we say …”taanks

The following happened between 10:06 and 10:25PM……..

Wife starts snoring at the same frequency as the ceiling fan (which is still WTBS…..work to be started). “What da, you want me to watch a thriller alone in the dark?”….asks the man, knowing pretty well that, that action will induce zero reaction (equal or opposite). So he proceeds to start on a journey into what he later realized was a terminal velocity dive into the ravines of confusion, created when someone probably put a needle in his sun glass covered eyes, if he didnot make this movie…….

The following should have “never” happened ……..

Man looks at the bed side time piece …..way past the time he should have joined the chorus of nasal symphony.Instead he decided to brave it. Have you ever been to a dhaba (pure bliss) where they served you sailudd (salad), you bite on the onion and you realize a few seconds too late, this is definitely not fresh.If you have not, then please cooperate and try to customize that to cold french fries or a little too sour coconut chutney (you get the picture ….). Well multiply that feeling with a huge number (I don’t know, just come up with a number….). That would be the number of times I wanted to turn the damn thing off…..

Moral of the story …….

If I had to talk about my dream job, one of my daily responsibilites would be – “critique one movie in between eating at every food joint on the face of this earth……while ..”….since that is not happening any time soon, let me fill you in on my perspective of this one. For someone like Nagesh Kukunoor, somewhere while he was wrapping up production and all the fancy footwork he must have asked himself ……”what the f#$% was I thinking ?”. I shall not get into the details of the story, ….well because there is none. …..(ouch….) !! So let me work on the rest of the package ……

  • Casting: Impressive, especially when it came to picking the main lead to be Akshay Kumar (who as we all know has been accused of brilliant performances like the one in Singh is Kingg). Now the fans will say, “Katrina nahi thi naaa” (There was no Katrina Kaif….hence). As for Sharmila Tagore, she looked beautiful as ever, often times forgetting, that the movie needed zero acting and her efforts were going to get unnoticed, especially when people actually walk out of the “scene of accident” (the movie) !! Javed Jafri must be really hurting or his contract had a “no suicide before project completion” clause. Ayesha Takia (she actually did act a little in Dor) did what she was supposed to – look unintelligent,…… wait she did not really have to work towards that. Girish Karnad and Benjamin Gilani – it is my strong belief that Single Malt played foul ….
  • Story : I believe one of the key factors to the success (or not) of any thriller is that the audience (as a whole number/integer) should not be able to predict the next scene !! I am just saying!! Well, that happened way too many times and any average viewer (of the complete gamut of offerings from the Hindi movie industry) could have easily rattled out what the kahani mein twist will be…..in the first thirty minutes !!
  • Comic Effect,Location etc: If you like to rewind the same scene several times, or like to keep listening to the same dialogue – “Jatin, tum ne bahut pee li hain”..(I am not going to translate that)…your search ends here.You will also be rewarded with amazing locales (but the you could have watchedTum Bin for the same effect…it has couple of good songs) from Canada and that’s that. Overall there was too much comic effect as a result of a bad combination of the other two factors(from above).

As someone who has grown to follow every creative experiment (read:commercial or not) of Kukunoor’s, (because I consider him as one of the greatest movie makers), this movie poured so much sadness on me, that I almost wallowed in agony like Kamal in Nayagan !! The End !!

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They wait in lines for hours …with their Shuffles®, their Walkmans®,their moms, sisters and friends ……and sometimes with nothing or no one else except with a lot of positive energy. Smiling and sometimes crying … hoping to get to the next round … and the next and the next.No one complains about the heat in the waiting area,the missed tests in school, the lost pay on a day away from work or the long train ride from the unknown town.Some do not do well.They beg ….”one more chance Ma’m”….they cry on national television – “next year I will be back”. Some thrill the judges so much that they stand on their feet to applaud.But end of the day they are all winners….and I will explain why !!

Meet Ajesh….winner of the Airtel Super Singer 2008® – a music talent show aired on Vijay TV® – a Tamil channel from the Star TV® group .Congratulations!! But this post is not about him …..it is about something bigger of which both he and I are a part.His role was to perform and mine was to sit in and enjoy his performance !! In spite of this vast difference in the nature of our participation,I am sure we both will agree on one basic precept – this must be one of best talent shows that India has ever witnessed.This post is about my perspective – someone whose mother tongue is not Tamil….and I am floored !!

If I had to do a comparative analysis of this show with some of the more popular ones (read: Meri Awaaz Suno® ,Zee Sa Re Ga Ma® and Indian Idol®) it would mean,me being brutally honest and in turn mean about what I believe is lacking in most of them.I would have to lie, to tell you that I agree with all the regulations and how the winners are selected. So I decided to try and summarize why I am so impressed with this one and not worry about the others so much … though I would love to get started ……!!

Judges:The judges on this show are singers.They are no music directors, not composers, ….they sing as a profession, every judge from the first day of screening till the grand finale.These are extremely talented artists who know every note, every bend and twist …and that makes all the difference. Unni Krishnan, Srinivas and Sujata have been the judges for the last few months with guest judges like Mano, Chitra, Karthik and Harini on the show. They have watched and listened to these talented individuals grow from unsure contestants to confident performers. They have encouraged them to improve on strengths and advised them on how to override weaknesses.For those of you who do not know who these three singers are – they are three artists who have lent their voices to ARR, several times and have some solid classical Carnatic musical background. The gamut of musical knowledge that they bring to the show should send a lot of others (read:judges on the other shows) into some serious self analysis (about judging skills).

Range:Contestants (whether they liked it or not) have been tried in every area – from classical, to rock n roll, to pop, to “gaana” style!! They have been asked to sing in groups and in duet combinations and have been tested as solo artists over several phases of the show. The music accompaniment has not been highly sophisticated (deliberate move to test talent) and any variations or experimentations from the contestants have been encouraged. Guest judges like Mahalaxmi Iyer have seen them do western numbers while Chinmaayi Sripada created magic with them on middle eastern tunes.During these episodes, contestants have had to go through some rigorous scrutiny and that is what helped build the final “four”. I have not witnessed so much variety in any other show which claims to honor good talent…..at least not in the Indian television world ..

Targets: According to me – This is a talent show which happens to boast of a huge audience, unlike an audience show which happens to entertain talent as one of the elements of publicity, (other than the zillion endorsements) that they tend to offer as the main theme.There is no propaganda other than the obvious mention of the key sponsor and the timed commercial breaks.The only promotions within the show are those that bring out another area of creativity which the contestants can improvise on – like singing romantic songs from the 70’s in costumes as becoming of that age.The effect is tremendous and you keep wanting more and more, rooting for your favorite contestant to win…even for someone like me who barely understands Tamil ……

Unlike what this post seems like, I am not a spokesperson for the mobile phone company.I am just someone who loves music and was floored by this show….in a world where everything is all about “enhancements” here is something which screams of honesty and true talent …. keep up the good work guys !!

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And then it happened…… The Happening !! I shut out the the lights, turned up the speakers and got myself refreshed (to not let bad reviews and memories of bad reviews take over) and I heard myself hoping …. come on man, you have to prove them all wrong!! You are not just anyone.You are the man who created bedlam in the mind of the critics with The Sixth Sense. You have to prove everyone wrong.You have to stun me with your genius …. again.It has been way too long and my expectation has seen some serious depletion with each new release since then.I have to give it to you for the first five minutes….you did create the mood and the open window suddenly seemed to bring with it the cold air from the humidity outside….a story which begins in the city and goes all over the northeast to completely disappoint me…..there, I said it !!

So here is my analysis …. man to man …. team member of your audience family to …MNS

Story: You did not do justice to the story….this is with the assumption that you had a good idea and you ran with it.Just that the movie does everything but narrate a good story.Actually, it does not do everything.It really was like an assembly line of well taken shots.It does not qualify to be a movie.It just was not a strong story.After the release of your previous movie, you told the world (of your followers) how you had nourished that idea for a long time,from a bed time story.But then you missed a small element….connection with the audience.Not many people related to that story. Very few will or have with this one…sigh!! I did attempt, and trust me I did, to give you the benefit of the doubt (I had many, one of them being – when will the movie end) since I am your fan.But come on now.You clearly were not thinking about this as a complete package…..were you ??

Cast: From the “days” of the Boogie Nights, to “skills” in Italian Job and then “team work” in Four Brothers and then in your piece of art ….Wahlberg has been conveniently staying away from a responsibility that comes with the job – acting !! Anyone who has watched those three (if not more from him) will know what I mean.If not then here is what I have to say to them – since no one should believe everything they read on a blog (like they do….)….I would suggest that they rush to pick up the DVDs and then regret “after the fact”.I can understand that Mark is a pretty sharp guy who does not miss his work out, but seriously…. did you think that this was the right “Entourage” (MW is the producer …see, no acting required in that). And not only him but also Zooey ??? What were you thinking,Manoj Bhai? ……ouch !!

and finally ……

Brand Name:There are good movies (for everyone to applaud) and then there are good movies which are meant for a certain group ….not necessarily the best of the lot (just different). I remember watching interviews of wannabe directors from Bollywood who would (and probably still do) always stick to the phrase ….”kahani thoda hatke hain” (“the storyline is away from the ordinary” in Hindi). Now that is really what goes on in a fan’s mind when they settle to watch one of your creations.And you know that as well.And here is what I think is happening as a result of that – somewhere in an attempt to stick to the brand name, you seem to be losing focus on your final product.The horror element, the sound effects, the camera swerves and the subtle message are all getting lost in the medium – from the moment it is emitted off the screen and by the time it hits the viewer…..sad !!

O.K….enough with the nagging ….too much expectation build up and a strong denial of truth (from reviews) is the cause of this grief !! I was badly hoping that The Happening would really be “the happening” movie which would refurbish my lost belief in your ability to blow us away …like it did to me, so many years ago …in Satyam theater (Chennai) where I had gasped at the climax of The Sixth Sense !! You need to bring that magic back….and I am sure there are several faces like me who are waiting eagerly to hold on to their chairs and wait for it all to happen ….will it be the next one ??

Of all your movies – I love the OST of The Village the most and this is one of my favorite scenes from the movie …..especially the bit from 3:22 on the clip (the hope”ful” romantic) …such was your magic . ….!!!



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