Monday, January 29, 2007


* Finally Found and Downloaded the album "Night Song" from I-Tunes - the legendary album by Michael Brook and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Was guided to understand that this year marks the 10-year death anniversary of the Ustad.

After 12 consecutive listens to this glorious album, this is what I have to say.

If you are dying, starved, destitute, thirsty and hungry, and all you have left is $9.99 from now till eternity - go to and buy this album. It'll get you through.

Unbelievably trippy, after just the second listen, this album becomes the soundtrack of your life. Almost seamlessly, it just slips into the fabric of your being.

Its excellent. By far.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Genre Bender

New genre: Completely engaging, without being overtly preachy.

There are movies that preach. Unabashedly preach. Deepa Mehta's Fire as well as Water, for example. There are movies that are completely engaging, which don't really preach at all. (too many in this category).

There are also films that sometimes get so wrapped up in their preachery, that they get obscenely obfuscatory (read:Hey Ram!).

Then there are films that remain flat center at the middle of the philospectrum. Movies with high preach-potential, but still remaining engaging enough for the viewer to remain tensely involved. Basically subtle-crucial messaging through a brilliantly gripping storyline.

Two movies that achieved this superlatively in recent times were Rang De Basanti and Guru.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ok Ok Ok Ok....

Somebody explain this to me. ..... WHY???

And please do this in order ---

First watch this : CLICK HERE

And then watch this ....

My God .. she is so mainstream

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Now that's what I call a campaign!

This is pure brilliance! Well scripted. Simple, crisp yet comprehensive. And delivered adeptly in a style that only the Big B is gifted with.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Leader Line

The mark of genius is indelible. Sometimes its obvious. Sometimes its subtle. But in an effortless and somewhat magical way, Mani Ratnam always manages to leave his mark on his works of art.

Guru is no exception to his legacy.

As always, Mani Ratnam manages to draw that ever-so-grainy line between sticking to traditional movie format, and breaking conventions altogether. Although to many, Guru may seem like your typical sinusoidal-success, feel-good, rags-to-riches story, it still manages to break away from the mould of the "typical" Indian film - a definition that gets more and more hazy with the coming-of-age of Indian movies over the last few years.

As Mom rightly pointed out, you can see the love and magical chemistry between Aishwarya and Abhishek - more from her side - in Guru. She has clearly never stared into any co-star's eyes with the passion that she looks into his with (*sniff*). (She had the exact inverse with Hrithik in Dhoom 2).

I love Mani's new technique. The cutting-flash slow-motion-feel that is applied to various song sequences, and especially the courtroom tirade where its most effective. He always seems to have a new toy to play with (In Dil Se [and Alai Payuthe], it was the reverse-shot technique - remember? - when Manisha's dress keeps flowing the other way in the Satrangi sequence). Especially when it comes to period drama, he never overdoes it in terms of costume and location, unlike other wistful directors who keep their mother's name. The torn posters of Naya Daur, and the usage of old Hindi songs in the background, is intricately researched keeping the story years in mind (he's on the money, folks). Guru also portrays Gujarati culture, language and fashion subtly - noting that this is one Indian sub-culture that has been kept at the back-burner in terms of on-screen portrayal (that is, if one can forget the 5-second G-U-J-J-U song-and-dance in Kal Ho Naa Ho). Its usually been Punjabi, Rajasthani, and even, Bengali (Devdas et al).

The downside? This is the first time in a Mani Ratnam movie, that I felt like joining the damned folks who take a bathroom break when a song comes on. The songs sincerely didn't flow with the film, with the exception of Hairate (brilliant) and the "Baarish" song. Although, the background score, with the "dum dara" bit was heartwarming.

And what puts the wax seal of Rahman on this movie is the drum solo (heavily inspired by the remix of Jagged Edge's Lets Get Married, no I'm serious!!), that accompanies most of the heavy scenes. The dialogues needed more punch. Especially when Gurukant speaks at the first hearing, and he just goes "namaste!". The thud doesn't justify the hype, there.

Completely completely agree with P when it comes to the ridiculous side-tracks that go completely tangent to the story (both the Madhavan-Vidya angle, and the brother-in-law bit, which I feel could've made a glorious comeback later).

The lyrics of the songs.... *sigh* .... you know what? I really feel that before beginning every new project, Gulzar does this. He vigorously searches and locates the rarest, wierdest, most forgotten words in Hindi/Urdu/any regional language's history, and says, "lets bring this back!". With Guru, get this - "bosa", "besuaadi" and "kaature" are making a comeback. Never heard of them? Get in line. Gulzarjee! Why the desperate need to be different, by being incoherent? Why does it take you 20 lines and dozens of dismal, lost-in-history verbs to say what Javedsaab can say in 2 lines? *Sigh*. We'll never get some answers, will we?

With Guru, Abhishek Bachchan, the actor, has arrived. With Guru, he completes a story which was left untold in Yuva, the last time Mani directed him. In the last scene, as Abhishek delivers his courtroom tirade, one was left to look into his eyes and see both glimpses of the trademark Bachchan raw anger, and his own originality as an actor. Taking on a role that most actors would choke considering, given the weight gain and deglamorization involved, Abhishek completes his circle of acting with this role. And like his father, its now time for rediscovery and many more such concentric circles, before he is established as a superstar.
After all.....

"Happiness isn't Happiness without a violin playing goat"

New found fascination for Marc Chagall.

(Image: La Mariee by Chagall)

"Art picks up from where nature leaves off" - Marc Chagall

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Visuals that make you glad to be alive: Atop the winery in Adams County, PA.
Images from Gettysburg: Back in the '30s

I loved...

Sacha Baron Cohen's acceptance speech at the Globes.
Assume the Position

Sundance-recommended and as part of my self-inflicted series of serious cinema and dark comedies - Watched James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal in Steven Shainberg's The Secretary, a dark comedy-drama that throws a little light into the nether worlds of the dominant-submissive romance world, within the intricately-bonded S&M community.

Would put this flick right up there with Eternal Sunshine, but the pace of the film prevents me from doing so. Instead of using the BDSM tinge in a darker or negative sense as in the past (serial killer, repressed individual), Secretary evaluates the realism associated with people of this alternative community. NYC has become more and more accepting of this sub-culture, as you find a lot of leashes and collars down the East Village these days.

As is usual with society in this century, the exception soon becomes the norm.

Amazing background score by Angelo Badalamenti (David Lynch's favorite). Sample it here on Amazon. The recommended track is of course, the main title - one of the most haunting pieces I've heard in a while.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Picture Perfect

Most of you know of my aspiration to delve into photography, time and instinct permitting, of course. But I draw serious inspiration from the not-so-dabbling and elegantly-named Dabboo Ratnani.

You totally totally HAVE to check out his 2007 calendar on his site. Its one of the most magical pieces of works ever.

In other news, why would you name your kid Dabboo?

Now hear this! You haven't grasped inanity until you've seen My Bollywood Bride. It is beyond mere mortal comprehension as to why 'cute white guy' travels all over India to find his lost love - who, you ask? - Kashmira Shah - and yet, who, you ask? My advice to 'cute white guy'. She's lost, bro. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And at the hallmark of that inanity, is the opening credit track, *ahem*, "My Freakin' Bollywood". No, I'm serious.

In totally unrelated news, after our 4 AM lamplight vigil, Didi's response to my offer to a stick of gum at 7 AM on our way to work - "I'm too tired to chew" - now that's really tired.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Gogo-jee? .... aapka ghaghra...

The week trails on like a reluctant ghaghra. On and on again.

I had the cutest conversation with J this morning - went like this...

J: Workin'?
V: Vigorously
J: Hmm rough, innit? Ate summin'?
V: No... say ... what about 'breakfast at tiffany's'?
J: Well ... I remember the film.... and as I recall ... I think we both kinda liked it.
V: Well, that's one thing we got.

Ah, forgotten melodies. Who was that band anyway?

And remember .... Only a true South Indian can see a "Nathan Lane" billboard and go "Wow.. that says Nathan .. as in Swaminathan".

In other news, Irish fans are now burning effigies of Big Brother producers to outpour their love for Shilpa Shetty.


The world is truly moving in an interesting direction.
'Twas Miss Scarlett in the Conservatory with the Candlestick!

Hence was the mood all across the murder mystery weekend at the ultra-scenic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, as the whodunnit unfolded at the Ragged Edge Inn. Met some really interesting and diverse people. Didn't manage to solve the murder, but its all in the game. Dabbled in civil war and pre-civil war history - the whole inns and taverns and cannons and battlefields of Gettysburg. All in all - a great B&B experience! Recommend this to everyone, especially the spa-B&B kind, throughout winter.

Pictures up soon.

In other news, it took a non-Indian company to pay tribute to him, but I'm glad someone did it. Awesome ad. A true wake-up call.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Many Lives, Many Masters

Highly recommended reading by Dr. Weiss, which highlights one of the only documented true stories of mortal reincarnation. Doesn't really make you a believer, and its definitely not Hindu religious propaganda. Its just a series of events, and potential hypotheses, and then the reader is left to extract his/her own meaning out of it.

Sometimes, the truth is eternally stranger than fiction. Book review here.

On that ominous note, off to Haunted Gettysburg. Have a great MLK weekend '07.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cost of Iraq War: $357,000,000,000

Holy oilfields, batman! That would've bought a whole lotta chickens, wouldn't it?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Man Apart

If anyone remembers Angoor - the Gulzar-icized Comedy of Errors - the scene where Ashok (Sanjeev Kumar) is being escorted to the bus stop at the plantation by Mastaan (random guy). And he's trying to portray to Mastaan how capable of violence he is, and he says "ek ultaa haath pade, to pata chal jaayega", followed by a "kya? .... pataaa chal jaayega". The second time around its done with a significant Utpal Dutt impersonation twang. Which is cool, cuz Utpal Dutt is Sanjeev Kumar's father in the movie, and Gulzar was trying to show that streak.

Gulzar was once known for his exquisite subtleties. Of course now, he's known for vicious inanities - talking about how wet the water is, and how green the greenery is. Ah, what mindlessness age hath wrought.

Lost City of the Incas
With Peru pushing for Machu Picchu to be nominated as another wonder of the world, it raises more interest in this amazing civilization which parallels the Indus Valley Civilization in terms of growth and adaptability.
After re-watching the Motorcycle Diaries, really makes you feel that this is one of those places where you can truly feel the power of an early civilization, and perceive centuries of development that have gone into making our planet what it is. Conversely, its surprising how a few brick walls help you understand the vagaries of our needs, and the wastefulness that technology has preached to usher in a new techno-millennium.
A civilization so distinguished. that time mercilessly extinguished.

Quite a Tall "Odor"

"New Jersey eyed as source of stench" - CNN, this morning

I resent that remark!

Anyhow, most major corps shut down and shipped employees home/to safety in fear of bio-terrorism due to the surreal stench that stalked Manhattan yesterday.

So get this. NYC, the world financial capital, shut down cuz of odor issues. If this should be a worldwide phenomenon, I don't think New Delhi should ever be working ;-) (Extremely Colonial and Sensitive Delhiites - yes all 9 million of you - I would've said Mumbai too, but ND stinks a helluva lot more. Maybe its the stench of corrupt politicism).

Back in action, back to work.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Songs to start '07 off with...

Bavari Piya Ki - (OST - Babul): Sonu croons magically through this classical track. Aadesh Srivastav is heavily influenced by Abhijeet Pohankar's Piya Bavari, but offers a significant amount of originality to this track. Worth a listen!

Javeda Zindagi (Tose Naina Laagey) - OST-Anwar : Two rather unknown singers. A rather unknown music director. Rather confusing movie trailer with people dipped in blue paint chasing each other around rocks. Awesome song though.

Ya Rabba (OST - Salaam-E-Ishq) : Either give Kailash Kher a higher octave, or let Rahat Fateh Ali Khan do this song. Brilliant composition though. Typical S-E-L.

Bolo Na (Album - Sona, Artist - Sona) : Highly addictive!! Must-listen!

Nikhil Chenappa's mix of Bhagam Bhag is legit too! ;-)

Thursday, January 04, 2007


very few people have the privilege of celebrating their birthday across two continents :-) proud to be one of them.

return to blogdom scheduled for tomorrow.