Monday, January 23, 2012

Finally watched the much maligned film Ra-one--on tv, phookat mein

Watching a much discussed-bashed film  three months after its release--it's akin to reaching a buffet  dinner late--and being told to avoid this sabzi, try that dessert...the fun is  that much less.

I am not a big foodie or anything, but I do like to approach a buffet spread with  an adventurous sense of anticipation.

Anyway, on with the film. Well, I missed the first fifteen minutes--and that's something I hate, miss any part of a film; like to watch it from censor certificate to last credit. Still, I knew I  hadn't missed much, thanks to my bolly-browsing , my habit of reading film  reviews (to an extent; do not like to have spoilers revealed); must add that I do not allow this sort of review-reading to affect my assessment of a film. Of course one's enjoyment is compromised somewhat, since the film is no more a fresh experience.

I guess I missed the early scenes that irritated many viewers--the ones featuring Priyanka  Chopra and  Sunjay  Dutt in guest roles, plus some lame politically incorrect jokes about Chinese folk with names like  Iski Lee, Sabki Lee --the usual PJs about foreigners, Indian style.

What I did catch first was this girly-looking long-haired boy in his classroom, in obviously Brit company. The fat  White  kid indulges in some sort of mischief  on his laptop and the outcome is a raunchy video of the Black class teacher, a buxom lady who is obviously horrified and angered even as the class laughs...umm, wasn't this advertised as a  kiddie flick?

Still, I found myself fairly engrossed in this film, the early scenes that depict SRK as some sort of a nerdy Tamil Iyer  scientist based in  the UK, discussing  the new computer game he was trying to develop in the company of an Indian (Shahana Goswami from Rock On) and a Chinese guy. Don't remember seeing any Brits in this scene, or maybe I missed them. SRK is explaining the virtual reality  game, trying to come up with a name for it--and  Goswami it is who points to the words RA-ONE  on the board, and helps christen the  game--developed by  Indians--so Ra-one and G-one (Raavan and Jeevan...geddit?)....ah well, something new, not bad.

 I had missed the infamous  'Shekhar eating curd 'n' noodles' scene --BTW, my  spouse actually loves mixing curd and Maggi noodles, since it tones down the masala hotness of the  whole goop; but he does eat the Tamil-Chinese-Punju mishmash with a fork, not his fingers. And  in our Iyer home spouse and self  love adding curd to anything that goes with this most gentle of foods--so curd it is, with chapatis, adai, idlis, dosas, rice, sevai,  upma--well, basically everything except halwa and dessert.So there--what's the big deal folks, noodles CAN be eaten with curds.

Back to the film. So Shekhar of the wierd hairstyle was at home--going irritatingly 'aiyyo aiyyo' with every third line of dialogue--and I thought--'what a  lazy screenplay'. First of all the idiot was declaiming in  a poor caricaturish manner--'Aiyo, romba nalla idea-'-and I wondered --'did the dialogue writer even bother to consult a true-blue Tamil?

Here is a bit of advice to Hindi film dialogue writers--if you use a Tamil character, DO NOT make him say Aiyyo when he is happy or pleased . Aiyyo is actually an 'ashubh' sort of word , a word  most Tamil kids are discouraged from using;  aiyyo denotes negativity--so it's  aiyyo, somebody fell or worse died .

And  it's Aaha, what an idea. Or just wow, what an idea, nalla idea...Tamil film heroines and heroes are always going wow whenever they are shown pleased.

I suppose I shouldn't expect any better from a commercial film set up, whether Hindi or Tamil.  A Tamil film hero is likely to say balle balle while playing fake I shouldn't dwell on this small matter. But SRK's aiyyo went on for a while and seriously irritated me.

Thankfully, the story was moving along too and there was some good stuff  there on screen. Like any science fiction story set up, here too the scientist realized that he had created a monster and that his creation was now the controller--I was actually moved by the sight of  Shekhar looking helpless and terrified as his creation Ra-one went on a rampage.

The story continues, different setting,  SRK's G-one avatar  now holding center fort, along with the evil Ra-one (Arjun Rampal, looking properly evil). I watched till the end, nether fascinated, nor bored. It was interesting to watch the twist in the tale when Kareena's character is possessed by the...well, for any one still remotely interested in watching the film, I won't reveal more.

This film had all the ingredients necessary to make a decent commercial flick--the premise about a scientist and his  horrifying creation, the emotional family  hooks  that keep an Indian audience happy, some good special  effects  and  action sequences, the Silver Streak reminiscent scene ( runaway train shattering its way out of the railway station), the hot heroine in fit body, a couple of hummable songs, some masala naachgaana, a fight to the finish climax---and yet the whole  dish just did not add up--like curd and noodles, or more likely, halwa and pasta together.

I'd term  Ra-one a missed opportunity, yet surely worth a watch-- or  two (if you are a die-hard all-forgiving SRK fan). My rating for the film is a pass mark of 5/10.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My shelves are filled with old diaries; and the diaries filled with old scrawls--some actually copied off the backs of matchboxes. I  term them...

                                                         MATCHBOX WISDOM

1. Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.
2.One of life's mysteries is how a two pound box of candy can make a person gain five pounds.
2.A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
4. Anyone who thinks that he is too small to make a difference has never been in bed with a mosquito.
5.Always keep a spare pair of shoes in your office/vehicle.
6. The one time you put your feet up is the one time the boss will walk into the  office.
7.A person with a tidy desk is doing no work.
8. Ugly plants grow faster and better than beautiful  plants.
9.People who say, " I wish I had time to read" are not readers.
10. A penny saved is a penny saved. Think bigger.
11.When you don't know what you are doing, do it neatly.
12.When you cross a one-way road, always  look both ways.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Night Bus to Sringeri

The  Volvo's headlights cast
A pearly ghostly glow
On the fecund flora that dot
The serene countryside
Of Karnataka's  Western  Ghats .

Pilgrims sleep ;
Some try to.
A few lucky ones
Even snore blissfully ;
The big bus ploughs the darkness .

Small hill towns with shuttered windows
That promise interesting tales ;
Pockets of lighted streets and doorways,
Some hooded heads shuffling by....
Then the  forests close in, again .

My spouse cannot sleep ;
Finds an empty front seat .
I doze, slide, recoup ;
Peep through the cold sweating windowpane--
Spy a lonely man and his dog .

Pit stops are made
At appropriate stations--
Hassan, Belur, Chikmagalur...
They all look alike , these bus depots--
Biscuit'n'tea  stalls, loos, shawlled figures .

Relieved passengers  clamber back,
Shuffle their way to their seats;
Take a sip from a bot, adjust, settle in,
But the hairpin bends have started.

Awake again through this scary  section;
Peep out, say prayers , see...
Cliffs on one side
Sheer drops on the other;
The big bus slices through.

Then dawn starts to break.
Just about.
The pilgrim town is wide awake;
Freshly bathed figures can be spied
As we reach the gates
Of the Sringeri Sarada Math.


Sunday, January 08, 2012

Blossoming Bangalore

The title to this piece may be considered most inappropriate in these 'expanding' times--when once quiet and sweet towns have expanded into megapolises that gobble up villages and turn them into suburbs that ring the original town in increasing circles--apparently Bangalore will soon have its third 'ring road'! The first encloses the charming original Bangalore, the second came around after the birth of the tech parks , the shiny office, the homes and hotels..... and now with more 'hallis' getting ripe for real estate makeover.... apparently a third is on the way.

But to return to the title--well, despite the increased urbanization , flowers still bloom on trees that have escaped the town planners' scythe; but something else blooms too --a warm and cozy bookshop called Blossom.

For me. no visit to Bangalore is ever complete without a session of book browsing and buying at this amazing store . And this time I ( and my daughter) did just that during my new year visit to the city--walked down serene Church street, off the bustling MG Road. Walked past some interesting pavement stalls (not too many to clog up the sidewalks, but just a couple or so, to lend character to the street and maybe a curio for your shelf). Walked past good ol' Indian Coffee House, entered a 'Beer Cafe' that also promised coffee and baked goods; refreshed and replenished oneself with crisp garlic bread and , umm, bad coffee--obviously the beer would've been better-- then entered Blossom Book shop next door. It was a short 40 minute peep-in, so I could not indulge in the pleasure of browsing my way right up to the top floor; but did manage to pick up two very readable bargains-- a copy Of Granta (issue # 84, circa winter 2003) and an anthology of column collections from Jeremy Clarkson, the Brit from BBC tv, the motormouth of the motoring world.

Ah, heaven.

I'm back in Chennai, but still reading the books, awaiting my next visit to Bangalore and Blossom.

To learn more about Blossom, just follow this link--