Sunday, February 22, 2009

Delhi 6 - From Chandni Chowk to Nowhere

For the first half, you don’t know what the movie is talking about. Then, as the story develops, it starts to tie a few threads and make a few new ones to leave them untied. The jump from thought to thought is abrupt. But then, I like the old world charm, be it Montreal’s cobbled streets or Old Delhi’s crowded, heavily wired rooftops. I guess that is why I went to watch Delhi 6. Somehow I was disappointed. I don’t get disappointed easily, I go on looking for some saving graces in the work till I find them or till I abandon the work. I found some in this movie too-but they were so far removed from each other that I ended up waving my hand and telling Mahesh, “no its not worth all this time I am spending here. " But then most of the movies I watch, I watch to be with Mahesh, to laugh with him, to get scared, to just have those 3 hours all to ourselves. So it is okay, I went on watching Delhi 6.

Abhishek is cute, I like him, he could have done a good job in the movie if there were any job for him to do. He disappoints but then the director hardly appointed him. Sonam Kapoor tries to do that girl next door act, but she fails miserably-she ends up behaving and getting filmed in a clich├ęd way. I normally get impressed very easily by people, but she couldnt even use that ease to impress me. Mahesh even had a suggestion for her (obviously she failed to impress him too) that she should find a good boy and get married asap before it is too late. Waheeda Rehman is one of the redeeming factors in the movie; the others being Vijay Raaz in the role of Inspector RanVijay who has avenged all the slaps he has had to suffer in other movies and Divya Dutta in the brief role of an untoucable sweeper. Atul Kulkarni impresses in his own way.

I expected more from Rakesh Omprakash Mehra after Rang De Basanti . This movie also tries to say things through symbolism. RDB had its legend of Bhagat Singh and his comerades; here it is Ram Lila transmitting the message of communal and religious harmony. But this movie is not even close to the charm of RDB that refuses to fade even today. Rang De Basanti had all the new comers except Aamir and they ended up governing the entire psyche of the youth of the nation for quite a while. This movie has a cast of accomplished, senior, mature actors; unfortunately the director has been unable to handle their talent-he got to get them to do nothing. The message could have been given in a stronger, far stronger way (and it is the need of the times too) but the director somehow lost interest somewhere in the middle-it shows. It ends up as a sweet and a clean kind of movie, but then you cannot go on having Mamdu’s jalebis for three hours.

However, symbols like masakali (the pigeon) , the tulsi, the temple and the mosque, the black monkey, and the song with the combination sequence i.e. Dil Gira Dafatan are the few things that I will remember the movie by.

Moral-I could have watched it on the DVD if there were not the danger of having to see Mahesh fall asleep during the movie.






Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Desired One

My little girl won a second prize in Flower Arrangement Contest in her school. She is very excited. So am I. I didn't know she had this talent in her. This is her prize winning flower arrangement. She has named it STEPS TO SUCCESS with input from her Nani.

She is submitting a very very short story to her school tomorrow. The theme is Girl Child. And this is her entry for the competition.

The idea, plot, characters are all hers. She made a handwritten draft and sat with me while I typed it out. I suggested a few minor changes and a few grammatical alterations. She graciously accepted them.

My Desired One never fails to amaze me.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Dev D - What an Emosanal Torture !!

I had been waiting for DevD to release. Yes, I am your quintessential moronish Bollywood fan. However, this movie is anything but the regular masala material. I am not sure if this movie is ahead of its time, or the people are way behind its times. I say this because 30 minutes into its start, three families moved out of the cinema hall bag and baggage. Why they came to watch the movie with their stupid baggage is beyond my comprehension. It is an A by certification and an adult comedy by classification. The start was cute, then progressed to being hilarious. The moment the characters came to their crude rustic language, the urbane mentalities of a few posh people around us got a big shock and their modesties seemed outraged. The hall was already empty for the last 11 pm show but for about 30 odd people including Mahesh and me. Once one ugly character started to talk in a sexually explicit way about Paro, a couple found it too much perhaps. They walked out. Then another family got up from this side of the hall, then another. from the other (I suspect it was more due to the need to conform to each other’s standards of morality than out of an outrage to their own). Mahesh said perhaps the men in these groups found it uncool to hear this language with their women around them. At the end of those first 30 minutes, we were only 20 people left in the hall.

I was shocked at their going. And then I laughed out loud as they were moving down the stairs of the audi. I actually laughed at them. No doubt, the comedy was slapstick, at times outrageous, but hell, it was an A-you gotta be prepared to handle it. Blah ! kiddos!! I am glad I have matured.

Yes, there is a lot of sex-talk in the movie, but then that is about it. All they do is talk about it, unless you count unsuccessful attempts at trying to make out in a cattle shed, or in a bathroom, or in a poultry farm with hens cooped up and cackling all around the kissing and groping couple. Later, there are prostitutes, there are sleazy hotels, there are narrow alleys, there are ‘doing drugs’ scenes-and there is explicit language at some places.

Even then, it is not your regular bollywood stuff at all. There is no hunkish character in the movie, there is no hot female in the movie, no item song-all characters totally down to earth, all actors almost average looking. Abhay without a shirt is no semblance to his cousins. Mahesh even labeled his ‘a weak body’ but at the same time, he was totally in awe of this actor’s looks and acting. Paro is a new Chandigarh girl Mahie Gill-good looking, mature in acting but very much your girl next door. Chandramukhi is Kalki Koechlin, not stunning by Indian standards but cute and innocent. The movie ends on a positive note. However, Mahesh seemed kind of frustrated. He said, “At least Paro’s husband should have died by the end of the movie.” And I laughed out loud at his remark. It is so unlike him to want someone’s death – even if it is an imaginary character. I asked him, Mahesh did you really want Paro to come to Dev? They are such similar people. They would have made their own life totally hell if they had been together. But I liked the guts of Paro.

The movie leaves a lot for the viewer to interpret. Each scene, each dialogue is sensibly done. The progress of the self-destructive path that Dev travels to-is absolutely a smooth sequence. His deterioration is complete, but as he is supposed to be, he is lovable. The presence of the three dancers in the same spirit as MacBeth’s three witches was goose-bumpish. They didn’t utter a single dialogue, they didn’t do anything in the movie, except two fabulous dance sequences. They were present all through his destructive phase. The Punjabi numbers are awesome. Emosional Attyachar is a total cruelty-God knows where Anurag Kashyap found these two characters singing the song. I mean I loved the sequence. The stream of consciousness movement at many places in the movie simply leaves you wanting to give a standing ovation to the director, even if in an empty hall.

Go ahead, watch it-but watch it with an open mind.
Ram Sena is already doing enough damage with its closed mindedness.


Dalhousie III

A lonely Sardar Ajit Singh


Wish I could trek on this route, but then there is always a next time.


Tere hath'on mein Pehna ke choodiya'n... Remember?? It was here that it had happened


These drops started off as snow and....


Yeh kahan kho gaye hum....


Snow Ji Snow


Immor(t)al Love??


Aiming high? or Earning bucks?? A stall behind the Ajit Singh Memorial



Our last few hours in the Dalhousie town on the third day were primarily spent in collecting water from Panj Pula, and then driving down the hills. I opened my car window and let the air cool the car for as long as it could and wondered aloud why couldn't my hair now be called 'blow dried' instead of the 'wind blown' mess they were soon going to become.
Hope you enjoyed the pictures.
Dalhousie episode endeth here, Thanks for your patience.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Dalhousie-II

25.01.09

The day before had been eventful and I expected this day to be even more wonderful.

I had set the alarm at 7 : 30 am. Yes I know it is not early enough. Not by my standards, not by my mother’s standards, not by my mother-in-law’s standards. But hell, neither mom or mom-law were there. I tried to wake up at 8, couldn’t. How can you, when you have good hug material close to you? It took great will power to finally shake myself up 15 minutes later. Pinku-Parry had ordered morning tea for me too. Sheepishly, I went there (cos I was late), took tea in their room, didn’t want to wake Mahesh who had told me that he wanted to sleep even more. I and P and P decided we wanted to go for a late morning walk. We ventured downhill from close to the hotel. It was a steep downhill walk. All the while I kept thinking that if I have to walk uphill from here, it would an arduous task.

I kept boring P and P with the old songs that I have loaded in my cell-phone. We reached the bus-stand and P and P went to buy muffins from a good looking confectionary shop (wallah who was not worth the money Pinku spent) and found that the shop wallah had, in the process of re-heating, burnt the core of the overpriced muffin. I am absolutely at a loss how someone can burn a muffin from inside while it is still okay to look from the outside. Enough about the muffin, except that Parry burnt his tongue and cursed the good looking muffin walah. We came upto Subhash Chowk where Pinku scared a child in the car with her ‘hello’. With great difficulty we dragged her hurt ego away from the crying child and went to see Netaji’s statue, it is nicely done as compared to Gandhi’s in the Gandhi chowk. I don’t know why I felt very guilty being in front of Bose’s statue in track pants and sweater. It was a beautiful cloudy morning. It was 10: 00 a.m. by now. We then came back to the Geetanjali, showered, changed and took our breakfast at around 11:15 a.m. Pinku drooled at the very mention of Paranthas. She even forgot the 20 bucks worth muffin walah in the process. She and Mahesh had a parantha & butter competition. Mahesh was wicked enough to wipe off all butter and she was left courteously saying, “it’s okay Mahesh”. They asked for more butter from Pirthi Bhaiya (the cook) and he said , we have ample food but sorry we don’t have any more butter for the hungry hoarde. Disappointed, Mahesh and Pinku polished off another parantha each. I exaggerate, I am equally a culprit in over-eating too. By 1, the parantha fight was over. Contented, we thought of what to do next. Khajjiar was out of question, I told you everyone had discouraged us the previous day. We thought , lets go to Lakkar Mandi, about 8 kilometers away and then decide whether to go ahead to khajjiar or not.

Once there, the toll booth walah gave us the green signal, “Arey no problem, go ahead all the way to Khajjiar.” I jumped on the seat, the car shook a little and we were on the way. Snow? In Dalhousie. Yes, there was some, on the sides of the roads, but nothing to get excited about. Hell, the little snow we saw was dirty. Why was Pinku so het up about this bowlful of snow? But then I was being mean. I had seen heavy snow, white snow, rather snow storms in Canada and this baby-snow was rather a wretched cousin of the real snow fall. By Dalhousie standards it was good, and the important thing was that it was SNOW- something Pinku had been singing for about a month. “I want snow fall, I want snow fall, I want snow fall.” In my heart of hearts I had kept laughing. Girl, where would you find snow in Dalhousie? But I also had been assuring her that I was also praying with folded hands for snow. But snow? In Dalhousie? We kept stopping on the way where there was abundance on the hilly slopes. We kept getting drenched by drunk drivers driving cars through potholes in the roads. But I didn’t mind it, not at all. It was fun, it was a cloudy day, no sun, and was cold, really cold, but it was fun. We were with friends; and friends wanted snow.

Bless Mahesh for driving all the way to Khajjiar. We reached there and Mahesh said, “Is this what is Khajjiar?” in the same tone as I had thought, "Snow? In Dalhousie?" I knew he would not be sharing my enthusiasm about the saucer shaped valley. After all what would you expect from a Passionate but essentially practical guy? I said yes, this is it, come lets run about. It was windy and cold. Mahesh would not let go of any pretext to remove his jacket once anyone aimed the camera at him. He would freeze, his teeth would be on the verge of chattering, but he needed to remove his jacket. He even tried to tempt me into removing the jacket. Thank god I didn’t give in. (Wish I had, because I have caught sinusitis anyway.) Then it drizzled and we walked in the rain around the vast meadows. I have been to Khajjiar many times, for camping, for trekking. I even located that hut that we used to use as a dorm and which has now been re-named ‘the Khajji’ as rhyming with Bhajji. But nothing to beat this peripheral walk around Khajjiar. The forest has been cordoned off with a barbed wire. I think it is a wise move that would lead to protection of wildlife. Human beings are more a danger to wild animals than the other way round. Rain forced us to get back to the car and we headed back. A narrow road, super heights, slippery path, but no fear. I had faith in the Man and his Machine. On the way, we were tempted to stop at another snow heap. That was when Pinku finally had her cottony snow in her hands. Boy, was she excited ! Everyone around could make out that her prayers had just been answered. And that is when I learnt about her Skiddaa.

A skiddaa is a skid in Punjabi. Her funda is that you add an ‘a’ or ‘aa’ and the word becomes Punjabi. And she says that you add an ‘o’ and it becomes a Bangla word. Now a big hug is a huggaa to her, and of course a parantha is a paranthaa to her. Pinku, I am just being mean, I know you are reading and I know you are drooling. She took a skiddaa once we reached enough height. That was certainly not enough. She climbed up again as we stood on the road, and took another big skiddaa. All the time, there was this song playing at the back of my mind “tere hatho’n mein pehna ke choodiyan, mauj banjara le gaya’. Ask me why? There was this fat-drunk Punjabi guy who stood watching her taking her skiddaas. All the time, our dear Pinku knew nothing of his existence. She was totally into her skiddaas. He was what we call in Punjabi “Tharki” (voyeur). He kept talking to his fat son, “oye mera alloo da parantha, oye mera burger, oye meri maggi” (all he could think was junk food) and was keeping an eye on Pinku skidding. When she was finally done with her big skiddaas, he looked at Pinku and said, “Maza aya na bhabiji?” Hehee, I wanted to go and ask him, “Oye keehdi bhabi oye?” (Which in simple English means, I dont know you but I am your brother-in-law) and what the hell did you do to add to the fun?" However, I didnt ask him anything, considering he was drunk. I just hummed the song out loud. Got the relevance?

Came back to Dalhousie, all gaga – me over the Khajjiar trip and Pinku-Parry over the snow. I blessed Mahesh, his wife, and his kids for taking me all the way there. And also for asking him to click weird pics on the way ; and that too at a notice of 2 seconds when he couldn’t even find the parking space on the side of a slipping hill.

We again did that parking walah trick with the nearby hotel parking space. Mahesh had not been very comfortable about parking the car stealthily there. What a Gandhi-wadi of a husband. After dinner, we both went to this hotel and talked to the manager. He refused point blank to entertain us or our car. “Kar lo aur honesty,” I wanted to yell out to Mahesh. But he talked the manager into letting us park our car there, and I was relieved. What would I do without this guy in my life? At least I won't be able to park the car anywhere nice.

Ok, I skipped the detail about dinner. We, in the limited choice that we had in our dinner, chose a nice hotel and begged them to give us food because we were sick of dhabaas. They had some corporate party (this is what they chose to call it) which was hardly a corporate party. It was a motley group of diners from the same hotel. The hotel stewards preferred to call it a corporate party, so be it as long as we had a DJ to make the entire din and so long as P and P got a chance to shake a leg there. It was a great fun to watch them have fun. And let me mention that Pinku found the same kid who cried at her very sight and pataoed him to smiles this time. The dinner was really really good.

We came ‘home’. And surprisingly, I was not tired at all. But sleep we did. Incidentally that day there was this big spat between Sajid Khan and Ashutosh Gowarikar as a repeat on TV. I still do not know what all happened there. I never watched that spat. I refuse to patronize anything that is bad publicity. Not that my not watching makes a difference…

Pics in the next post. Promise.