Archive | October, 2009

Movie review: Main aur Mrs.Khanna

27 Oct

It was a rainy Saturday. The sun had not shone on me for even a minute since the morning and that made as morose as ever. I had slept enough, orkutted enough and gmailed enough (I have still not been smitten by the facebook bug! 😛 ) and believe you me, I had cooked enough as well. Basically, I had come to the stage where one really wants to do something fruitful on a Saturday like watching a movie, or chilling out with a gang of friends and the likes.

I have no valid justification for the fact that I chose to see this film to be able to spend my weekend time ‘fruitfully’. I knew it all even before deciding to watch it. I knew it had the ever atrocious Salman Khan with wrinkled face and drooling eyes, it had Kareena, half his age who looked like the frozen chapatti that I eat every day of the week and not to forget it had the ever obnoxious Sohail Khan who thinks that just because he has been breathing the bollywood air since childhood, he can be a part of anything that is even remotely linked to film making.


As a film viewer, it is the screenplay and the script that attract me first and then I begin to look at the way the story has been told on the celluloid. A lot of times, I tend to even overlook poor presentation if the screenplay is strong. For instance, Hyderabad Blues could have been a far better presented film if Nagesh Kukonoor had that sort of a budget. But, it is the story which attracted the viewers and they did not even mind if there were scenes shot with a simple handy cam.

Leave alone screenplay, this film does not have a story to start with. Set in Melbourne, the story begins with a little tiff between Samir Khanna (Salman Khan) and Mrs. Raina Khanna (Kareena Kapoor) over the fact that Raina had thrown the news paper in the trash can as it had marring remarks about Samir who had been a part of a scam. Raina is a waitress in some big time restaurant in Melbourne and Samir obviously dislikes it. He believes that “Every marriage must have financial stability” and he is shown to be disturbed of the fact that just because he lost his job, their marriage has lost this indispensable ‘financial security’.

After realizing the fact that there was not much in Melbourne for him to do, he decides to move to Singapore in search of job and books Raina on a flight to Delhi to go and stay with his parents till the time he returns. Raina decides to not to take the flight back to India and stays on in Melbourne. This is where Akash (Sohail Khan) enters the story by being the smitten lover boy of Mrs. Khanna. He is shown to be working at a coffee shop at the airport. The way he is shown ogling at Mrs. Khanna is only childish.

Just like any other typical bollywood flick, Raina makes a bunch of close Indian friends in a span of 2 minutes of screen time which includes Akash. What more? She even gets a job at a jeweler (played by Bappi Lahiri) at the airport. You ought to look at the lavish which she “manages” to live in by working at the jeweler.

I don’t want to detail the mindless plot and the enervating climax. I must mention the cameo which Preity Zinta has done with a flimsy item number to woo Mr. Khanna. She is hired by Akash so that Mrs. Khanna thinks that Mr. Khanna is of an ill character and grows an aversion towards him. Mr. Director, do you think you are making a film for kids who have just entered their teenage. On second thoughts, I don’t even think that today’s teenagers would do something as silly as this!

The appearance of Salman Khan is saddening, the pale look on Kareena’s face is irksome and Sohail Khan’s obliquely comic expressions can only bring a grimace to the viewer’s face. There is only one fairly hummable song in the film Rabba sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

If you too suffer from the ‘Start-to-finish’* disease like me, don’t even venture into looking at the promos of this film. As for Prem Soni, who happens to have started his career with such a disastrous film, I can only wish him luck!

* An ailment in which if you have seen the opening titles of the film, you cannot get rid of it until you watch it till the end. The author of this post has been a victim of enumerable atrocities due to this fallacy. Eg: Mithun da’s Aag ka Gola, Ganga Jamuna Saraswati, etc.

My Rating:half_star

Life’s like that!

14 Oct

It is time for the second installment of mindless ramblings of a hopeless soul. Hopeless enough to hibernate for almost two full days of the long weekend which was supposed to be the last long weekend before the winters set their foot in. Well, as I mentioned, hopelessness encompasses everything else!

Presenting before you – confessions of a demented mind:-

Yeh hai “Bombay” meri jaan!

Just like the local train network is the life line of Mumbai, Subway is the life line of New York. The characteristics of any mammoth metropolis can be seen even in New York. The never ebbing inimitable stench of the underground subway stations, the trains being weirdly scheduled to arrive at 12:32 and depart at 12:33 🙄 , the crowded compartments of the train, the silence and loneliness felt in the few square feet of area overpopulated by humans, the perspiring anxiety while running to catch the train which is going to be the last one and the inexplicable pace that life seems to have in this city that is trapped in all these people traveling in and out of the Subways.

But, what distinctly makes the Subway journeys memorable quite often are the street performers. The hoopla players, musicians, dancers, skaters and singers – such a conglomeration of creative abundance a few feet under, in a way enlivens the monotonous expressions of passengers, just about enough to get them back the next day with a bit more pluck than before.

I was at the Times Square a week back, doing my part time job of NY tourist guide (Its good to have an alternate profession in these times of recession you see 😉 ) for a friend. We were at our boisterous best when we got down at 42nd street. For those who don’t know me, I have a terrific appetite to speak endlessly without making much sense. Rather any sense at all 😛 . Our loud voices were suddenly muted by this flute player who was playing the hit song from the Hindi film CID – ‘Yeh hai Bombay Meri jaan’. I personally found it to be quite intriguing for him to play the song in the heart of New York City. But, there was surely nothing to complain about it!

What more, after playing the first stanza, a singer popped up from no where and started singing the song as well. From their accent, they seemed to be Turkish (He pronounced the ‘j’ in jaan as one would pronounce ‘z’ in zebra, and he had a very prominent ‘h’ sound after almost every word that ended with a vowel – Quite a peculiar trait of Arabic/Persian/Turkish folks.). They were soon surrounded by a noticeably big crowd and what followed the performance, was an encore.

We enjoyed the song thoroughly, we cheered, we clapped and we tipped. After spending the rest of the evening at Times Square relishing how electricity can be burnt/wasted in the most beautiful way, when I returned back home, I logged in to check my e-mails. As I don’t get to read the Indian news paper daily, I have subscribed to some news letters and feeds. The very first news headline I read was of the great Thackery cub doing his thing again – this time to the Johar khandaan’s not so shining sitara, Karan. I wondered at the irony of the situation still humming the song that I had enjoyed a few hours back. The song is immortal. There is no way that ‘Yeh hai Mumbai Meri Jaan’ can make one tap his/her feet the same way as he/she would upon listening to ‘Yeh hai Bombay Meri Jaan’. With everything being ‘Mumbai’ed from Bombay, there still are some things which sound right just the way they are. Wake up, Raj!

The Dunkin’ Encounter

I had never really eaten a donut before coming to Uncle Sam’s home. Dunkin’ donuts is apparently world’s largest chain of baked products and they are not exaggerating when they punch their tag line – ‘America runs on Dunkin’.  It is the staple breakfast/snack of the urban and the suave, the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the famous and the infamous – everyone!

There’s a DD store right across the street from my office building and being smitten by the fragrance, the taste and the feel good freshness of the store, I do land up visiting the store quite often. Just a few days back, when I went on one of my usual jaunts to DD, the old lady at the counter suddenly chirped –

DD: Good evening sir, how can I help you?

Me: Can I have a small coffee with milk and sugar and. (before I could finish)

DD (Volume increased, garnished with a smile): A Boston crème donut?  🙂

Me (Starry eyed, not knowing how to react): Yes indeed. You guessed it right! 😀

I just did not know how elated I was to see someone predict my mind just so perfectly right half a world away. I just didn’t know how to thank her enough. I just didn’t know how I could express the ‘tadaaaaa’ moment. Well, I thanked her once again and asked her if I could treat her with a donut to which she agreed. On my recent two visits, I haven’t really found the need to place my order, the moment I step in with a smile, I know there’s someone ready with it!

I happened to narrate this encounter to one of my close friends who quipped back – ‘Yeah right. Everyone below poverty line knows you and everyone above knows me!’

I was yet again speechless. A different kind of a ‘tadaaaaa’ moment!  😛

That’s the way it is! So long..  🙂

Delhi 10

4 Oct
My memories of the city of Delhi were truly quite unpleasant until I visited the capital a couple of years back. The Delhi I want to cherish in my memories now is what I saw most recently. Broad roads, well marked lanes, traffic rules being followed most of the times by most of the people, public transport running on CNG and the amazing advent of the Metro rail. When my friend told me that the change that I was raving about was for the Commonwealth games that Delhi is going to host in 2010, how I wished that every other city in India should host the games every year, if that is the only incentive that can make all the difference.
We all want to have fond memories of the places that we visit and this is a fact that the government seems to realize pretty well. As I was skimming through the latest news, I got to read something about how the authorities in the capital have “removed” the “filth” in Delhi to deck the city up for the Commonwealth Games.  The “filth” being referred to here are the over 50,000 beggars and the “removal” mechanism is to shun them out of the city under the pretext of rehabilitation. I was greatly disillusioned of my previous assertion, or at least I questioned my self as to whether I really wanted such events to be hosted by every other Indian city.
So how does removing beggars from Delhi clean the city? The government believes that due to the magnum opus of the Commonwealth games, as foreigners would be arriving at Delhi, there is an inevitable need to ensure that they are not troubled by the beggars while they roam about in the city. The concern that is being displayed is typically for the Westerners. The argument sounds even more obnoxious when you hear someone saying that we Indians are used to seeing beggars around, but the Westerners are not. It is not only disheartening, but agitating to come across such insecurity that the government puts on public display. I fail to understand this fear of discovery of facts. The very fact that those who act all prim and proper underground while traveling in the Metro, spit out their paans when they are at the ground level supplements the irony of the situation.
In my opinion, whenever someone visits India for the first time, the immediate things that get noticed are the slums, the open drains, the crowd and the pollution. However fascinated a foreign vistor gets by the marvel of Taj Mahal or the spellbinding sculptures of Khajuraho or the expanse of the Himalayas or the devout milieu of Varanasi and Ajmer or the inescapable aroma of authentic Indian cuisines, the memories always remain etched in their minds are of the poverty and illiteracy that they witness first hand. And what holds true when an Indian visit’s a Western country for the first time is that he/she invariably notices the cleanliness around, the civic sense of responsibility and the law-abiding majority.
What reason do we have then to oppose Danny Boyle showing the life of a slum dweller in Mumbai through Slumdog Millionaire (which indeed has been misinterpreted as a rags-to-riches story. In my opinion, it is a fantastic love story!) in a very realistic way? Why should we be surprised when the only Indian films that have been recognized at the Oscars, Salaam Bombay and Pather Panchali, speak about the poverty in our country?
The bottom line is that we ought to accept these fallacies. We ought to agree to the fact that in sixty five years we have not been able to create an India of our dreams. So, do I mean to say that we should do nothing to eradicate poverty or illiteracy? Certainly not! We ought to make this country a better place to live in. But, the motivation should not be the arrival of foreigners. We should feel the need to make the change for ourselves, for every single citizen of India, for the reason that every Indian does have a right to live freely and happily in this country.
There is a need to make improvements at the grass root level to present India to the world in a pleasant way. As Shera sets in to welcome the firang athletes, the government proclaims to present Delhi as a truly international city. And that is by not eradicating poverty, but by hiding it. We need a catharsis of our hearts and minds to eradicate the filth of our thoughts and our skewed perceptions!

Nuts in NY – 1

4 Oct
The Bustling streets, An open sky,
The Glorious Hudson, cruising by,
The breath taking pace, that never seems to die,
Is what makes me go, Nuts in NY
The whirling lanes, that look like a bow tie,
The Statue of Liberty, holding the torch up high,
While atop the Empire State, I wish I could fly,
Is what makes me go, Nuts in NY

The Bustling streets, An open sky,

The Glorious Hudson, cruising by,

The breath taking pace, that never seems to die,

Is what makes me go, Nuts in NY

The whirling lanes, that look like a bow tie,

The Statue of Liberty, holding the torch up high,

While atop the Empire State, I wish I could fly,

Is what makes me go, Nuts in NY

It is evident enough that this series of posts is going to be a showcase of how I murder both poetry and photography at the same time :-P Apart from the hackneyed perception of the city which is rightly called the city that never sleeps, the city of dreams and the financial capital of this planet, there is a lot that one learns about living in a plethora of disparate demography. It is mind blowing to see various cultures mingle and yet have a distinct shade of their own. Without rambling any further, here are some snapshots of “in and around” the city which have made their way to this page.

**Click on the pictures to see the actual size of the image.

Downtown Manhattan skyline as seen from Jersey City, NJ:-

Downtown Manhattan from Jersey City

Statue of Liberty – postcard style and close-up:-

Statue - 1

Statue - close up

Downtown Manhattan collage – New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street and the Raging Bull (pun intended 😛 ):-

Downtown collage

Just another snap of the skyscrapers:-


Downtown Manhattan as seen from the Empire State Building:-

Downtown from Empire

Stay tuned 🙂

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