Wednesday, June 16, 2010


A story that has been “inspired” by The Godfather and has borrowed “context” from The Mahabharata seems to be aping the right things. Directed by Prakash Jha, the man who gave us “Gangajaal” and “Apaharan”, Rajneeti is the story of Politics set in modern day India.

At the outset, it is obvious that there is some thought that has gone into the making of this movie. The sets are larger than life, one star face after another looks back at you for the first 10 minutes of the movie (some bigger and better than the others) and there looks like there is a coherent, if familiar, narrative running through the movie.

From the Mahabharata, there are 2 sides of the same family that are fighting each other for power in the upcoming state elections. The erstwhile leader of the political party suffers a stroke and instead of handing over power to his son Veerendra Pratap (Manoj Bajpai), he appoints his brother the leader of the party along with his nephew Prithviraj Pratap (Arjun Rampal) as the new General Secretary. This enrages Veerendra who demands that his Uncle give him the post of President of the party.

Upon finding himself ousted from the high seat of power, Veerendra finds an unlikely supporter, schemer and confidante in Sooraj (Ajay Devgan) a young man of the powerful Dalit community. Being a leader amongst his kind, Sooraj is guaranteed a voice as he is backed by his community and seems to have the fortitude to cause some change.

Drawing inspiration from The Godfather, Prithviraj welcomes home his younger brother Samar Pratap (Ranbir Kapoor) from across the seas. Ostensibly home to celebrate his Uncles birthday, Samar stays behind when as the battle lines are drawn and he becomes embroiled in the battle to win. The cherry on this side of the family is the presence of Consigliere Brij Mama (Nana Patekar). An advisor to the family, it is Brij Mama who runs the show from behind the scenes and puts out the fires when all hell breaks loose (which happens a lot). Indu Pratap (Katrina Kaif) plays Samar’s one sided love track.

There is a lot of slam bang in the movie, key member of families dying, murder most foul, alliances made and kept in the sake of winning and other such schmooze that one finds in Politically driven stories. Where this one works, is even when one feels like there are too many dramatic moments coming too quick, Prakash Jha drives home some more, and like a sledgehammer, does not stop till the movie ends. Yes it become predictable because it’s inspired from such popular works, but the effort the cast puts in to making it work in today’s time and context is commendable. Arjun Rampal is a tad off, trying a little too hard to pull of his ruthless look at times and stumbling into his uber-cool real life persona at others, Manoj Bajpai is commendable as the desperate-for-power-at-any-cost. Katrina Kaif is above-average at most time, coming into her own only in the last quarter of the film as the stoic widow. Ajay Devgan and Ranbir Kapoor are rather good in their respective roles, both serious, brooding and conniving at the same time but in different ways, but the star of this movie is Nana Patekar. The wily old fox comes off as the most natural looking character in the entire movie, his facial expressions saying things the screenwriter did not give his mouth to.

The editing is a little lax, running in at close to two and a half hours. The screenplay is good, and can be forgiven for its literary liberties. The direction is good overall, focusing on more or less the right things.

Looking at the number coming out after the first weekend, it looks like Prakash Jha has won this election hands down. Watch it, you could do worse.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Love, Sex aur Dhokha

When I first saw the trailer of Love, Sex aur Dhokha, I had a small feeling of deja vu. Was this going to turn out like another Karthik Calling Karthik with a slick trailer and then nothing more? But I decided to take the plunge and watch it because of the faith I have in Dibakar Bannerjee.

LSD opens up with an 80’s style Telemarketing-style trailer as seen on Doordarshan. So I sat in the hall thinking this might not be that bad. And boy was that the right call. This is a movie about our very real, very perverse fascination with reality drama. Set in 3 parts, each dealing with one of the title’s 3 nouns respectively, it’s a movie which uses the hidden/secret camera technique to full effect to titillate our senses.

The movie starts with love, a track about the very Bollywood style romance that Indians have lapped up from the early 90’s. The characters are simple, sweet and very much in love with each other. The soapy style affection we have to romantic films can be seen with the lead character’s fascination with “Adi Sir”, a reference to Aditya Chopra who delighted the country with soppy love stories exactly like the one featured in the track. Part 2 deals with Sex. Much talked about for the editing that the scene with the actual act has undergone, the message is still very much there and still very much “In-your-face” as well as “On-your-screen”. And with Dhokha, track 3 completes the triumvirate of with a neatly fleshed story involving the casting couch.

The success of this movie lies in the fact that despite being made for the big screen, Dibakar Bannerjee shuns sugar-coating the movie. This is a very real film which most people cannot associate with but have definitely heard or read about something similar. The brutality towards the end of “Love” is a shocking scene, one which will haunt you for a while.

Each track has its unique flavor, and it is the language used in each that grips you. Whether it is the father in “Love” openly spouting profanity or the lengths that the Editor of a news channel is willing to go to any length to get a story, this is a movie that thrives in being “real”. At times it feels like your watching an episode of Big Boss.

Each of the 3 tracks meet up and at some point in time, you will realize what a great job the man behind the camera has done to get them all to meet so seamlessly. It’s almost Tarentino-like.

A word for the crew – the screenplay is exceptional. Not once do you feel like the dialogue is crass. Yes there are expletives, but it’s the language that gives it that earthy, realistic touch. The editing is not far behind. Tightly cut, it’s a movie that does not meander, and that is real credit in this age of 120 minute+ dramas. The cherry on this handheld camera drama is the cast. Not one big name and yet all of them perform their parts with élan.

Shock therapy is fast gaining a following amongst Bollywood filmmakers. First it was Anurag Kashyap with his sequence of movies that culminated in the new-age Dev D. Now it is Dibakar Bannerjee who is following his footsteps. Love, Sex aur Dhokha is a movie that will shock you. It will cause a few of you to shudder. Some might even get angry that filmmakers treat their subjects and actors like pieces of meat. And that is precisely why you should watch it. This is the new age of films, and LSD is a great start.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

कार्तिक काल्लिंग कार्तिक

The best part about Karthik Calling Karthik (KCK) is the opening credit sequence. Very tastefully done, with good music, the credits are an excellent beginning to what should have been (at least on the basis of the pre-release promos and trailers) an excellent movie.

Sadly however, this is far from the case. KCK fails simply because it never really knows what it should be. As someone who watched the movie, I’m equally confused. Was this a movie that was meant to be a thriller? Was it supposed to be cool? Was it supposed to deal with a sensitive psychological condition? At the end of the movie, I couldn’t really care less. I was happy that it was over.

Farhan Akhtar stars as Karthik, a meek, hard working nobody in a real estate company. So meek, that he takes it upon himself to ensure that the paperwork of the entire office is in order apart from doing any an all work that his boss piles on him. Deepika Padukone plays Shonali, a woman who comes to work at 1:00 PM, and does apparently no work. The track between Karthik and Shonali is as straightforward as it gets in a Hindi movie. Boy is meek. Boy likes girl. Girl is a hotshot. Girl is unaware of the existence of the boy. No great surprises in either of their lives until Karthik gets a call (just as he is trying to commit suicide) from surprise surprise, Karthik.

Karthik the caller gives all his gyaan to Karthik the listener. Inspired by these 05:00 AM calls, Karthik the meek transforms from himself into a super cool Karthik. Apparently, Karthik has been to an IIM and graduated at the top of his class, and then gone on to break all previous records of CA.

This is where you will start to laugh at the ludicrousness of the story. Not only is Karthik a super brain doing a rubbish job which is impossible, he also turns too cool too fast. The same guy who was insulted by his boss in front of the entire office can now go into his boss’ office and show him (an the rest of an office) to be complete imbeciles. He also spouts cool one word lines like “Chill”.

Unlike in most great thrillers where the butler does it, here we realize (much too late to care) that the culprit is the phone! I’m not going to reveal too much of the script to you, but suffice to say that the “twist” is quite lame. Karthik embarks on a blind journey taken quite too literally, but that too does not seem to help.

The acting is mediocre. Akhtar seems to be far better as the meek Karthik rather than the super cool one. Padukone continues to ham her way through performances winning audiences over with her assets more than anything else. The directing is ok, but the real hooter here is the editing. How long did it take to get to the point? Really, it should have ended in the first half. And when it does end, everything seems fine!

This is a movie that you should watch with no expectations. Do that, and you wont come out disappointed. Better yet, wait for the DVD.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Dear all,

I write this today from Hosur. It is in Tamil Nadu, along the highyway NH 27. Hosur is not known for much. The factories that call Hosur home, and the fact that it is the last town on this route in Tamil Nadu.

Why am I in Hosur and not passing through like everyone else? Well, in a sense I am passing through, but more on that in some other post. I work in one of the above mentioned factories. A big one, with close to 3000 people in my plant alone.

Most of them have been working in the same company for the last 20 years. They have made Hosur their home, and speak of it with pride. Great pride. Some say, that Bangalore steals the electricity from Hosur to make people think it is a bad place. And that if given Rs. 100 Crore, they would spend all of it on paper pins. But more ripped off lines in the next post.

6 days out of 7, I eat at a hole in a wall, or a thela on a side street. I look forward to Sundays only because it reminds me of college when I used to put off cleaning my room or taking a bath. I do both of those things almost every Sunday, but after wasting 2/3 of the day.

To be honest, I am bored. I've finished a long hard day of work. I've actually done something related to Engineering for the first time, and there is no one in my department cares enough to ask me not to use the internet (which is not allowed).

I haven't written anything for a while now. I miss writing. I miss rambling like this.

Hosur has done this to me.

Thankfully, I'm just passing through.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Darkness to Light

A: How long was I in the darkness?
B: I dunno.
A: What'd you mean you dunno? You were with me all this while.
B: Exactly.
A: Eh?
B: Yes.
A: Why was I in the darkness?
B: You liked it.
A: No I din't.
B: Yes you did. You knew it wasn't the best place to be. Yet you stayed. 
A: I stayed because I had hope.
B: Stop going Hollywood on me. You stayed because you were blind.
A: No I wasn't. I had the candle.
B: Yes I always meant to ask you how you managed to get it to last for so long.
A: I told you. Hope.
B: You really are retarded. You know this do you not?
A: I was...well...Yes.
B: So what now? You're still not officially out of it.
A: Ermm..
B: And people are talking you know. Not very nice things too. Something along the lines of not being along the lines.
A: You know thats not true.
B: I do. But I'm a doubter. I always have been. And I'm sticking to form.
A: I want to come out. I need a...push.
B: I cant give you one.
A: Why the fuck not?
B: Let not the highly sensitized brain of yours forget that I'm not here. Of course High Hopes is running the background. Maybe some inspiration will strike from there.
A: Nooo...It's too nice. Don't bring it into this. 
B: Then what do you want me to do?
A: Chill. I'll handle it.
B: Yeah right. When it comes to this, I have no hope left for you.
A: Meanie.
B: Very droll.
A: I like it here.
B: Thats the point I'm making. Thats the point that everyone is making. You like it, but you aren't doing anything to get out of it to the other side. And you certainly arent doing anything to come back from it. 
A: I am. You know I am. It's just that these things take time.
B: You're a wuss.
A: Very droll.
B: I'm off.
A: Wait. What about me?
B: Your choice. Coming?
A: I...
B: Coming..?
A: ...
B: I'm not going to be around forever you know. Sooner or later I'll be gone. And the day I come back is the day you'll be dragged out to a place you definately do not want to be. And then what? Stay there for all I care.
A: I have Floyd...
B: ..with your highly sensitized brain.
A: Yes..
B: Ok I really do have to go now.
A: Leave the door open will you.

Exeunts leaving the door open.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Late last night I was tossing and turning about on my bed when the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB or COCKS) decided that the peaceful neighbourhood of Nerul had had enough comfort. So they decided to withdraw their services from here. And then forget about us. So us peaceful citizens spent the night in the "mild" heat knowing fully well that we couldn't anger the good COCKS. They are god's children after all. And we deserve it for being a crap area.

Last night was also the night that my neighbour, a rather fiesty and large Bengali woman chose to maul her husband. The mauling started in the bedroom. Evidently from what I heard after, the ritual was not quite what the large bengali woman had in mind. She then proceeded to yell at her mate for half an hour. The hours from 1:20-2:00 in the morning were a veritable cornocopia of sounds. And I couldnt sleep.

I finally did get a couple of hours of sleep and I ended up awakening late.
Now there is only one thing I look forward to in the morning. The tiny bit of pleasure that I derive from a breakfast of Papaya and Cornflakes with Cold Milk. It gets rather irritating if the milk isn't cold. And it wasnt. Harrumphing my way out of the house, I realised that the boffins in the head COCK office still hadn't conceded to the lowly Nerul residents wishes and restarted the supply of Electricity to all the shanties. This meant a walk down the 8 flights of stairs.

I was on the 3rd floor when I stopped to check for my effects. They were all there but it couldnt be that easy. My phone was out of charge and so up I went again (still late) to fetch the charger. When I finally was in order, I hitched a ride with a motorcyclist to the bus stop. I knew I was late. I knew I had a chance at missing the bus. I knew I did not want to do so. The prospect of heading to office any other way when the office is in the next district is not appealing. And after my fantastic moring, I was not inclined.

I caught the bus as it was pulling away and I then settled down to the second peaceful activity of the morning. Reading the rot that the Times of India chooses to publish everyday. So I read with appropriate amounts of salivation of how Akshay Kumar is now the highest taxpayer in Bollywood and how the Mumbai High Court (bastion of sensible judiciary) saved a 65-year old marriage from a divorce. Both on the front page.

My morning looked set when Mr. X sat down next to me on the bus. I don't particularly like Mr. X. He wears "cooling glasses" inside the bus, talks loudly in his local language (my particular pick is when he responds to someone calling him by as loud a "BOLAAAA" as he can manage). Mr. X also happens to be my boss.

I endured the hour and a half trip to the district of Raighad with Mr. X next to me passing appropriate comments of how his state is the best state in the world and how his kind hate everyone else from everywhere else, particularly from the deep north and deep south of this country.

The bus finally reached Mumbai Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) (DICKS who are the distant relatives to the COCKS) Taloja where the good, bad and ugly industries set their plants up to keep this country thriving.

Mr. X tried getting off the bus first as we were sitting right in front. I say tried, because as he was about to, he mysteriously tripped and fell out of the bus. He seemed rather distraught by the turn of events and for 2 seconds, no one did everything.

After those 2 seconds, people tried rushing off the bus to save Mr. X from the ignominy of being on the ground. 

I had slipped out in the ensuing melee.

All this while there is only one line in my head.
Those dicks are all cocks. 

Now I see the funny side of it. Now I'm always smiling. 

Friday, April 10, 2009

Here's looking at you kid.

I remember the first time I actually noticed him. Prep for SAADHANA ’08 was in full swing. It was another long hard day. Another one of those days when there was so much to do, not so much time to do it in and very few smart hands to actually do it.

It was rather late when we had wrapped up the day’s work. Us seniors went out for dinner followed by our usual loiter after and a couple of us were deep in conversation on the way back regarding what else, but sponsorship. Everyone had eaten. I clearly remember because he did the most unexpected thing then. He brought chocolates. For everyone. Well almost everyone considering that no one ever sticks to limits in our beloved school.

One minute I was talking about the possibility of a Design Partner and the next I’m being offered a Dairy Milk. No one had ever done that in a team that I had been a part of. And frankly for all the teams, boards and committee’s I’ve headed, I’ve never thought of getting them chocolates just for the heck of it.

It may seem like peas to you, but people who work for fests and symposiums at a college level know how stressed everyone get. Especially those at the top. And to be offered a chocolate for no reason at the end of a long day during prep is as unexpected as things come.

That was the day I had my first meaningful conversation with him. That was the day I realised that he was a 2nd Year student. And that he had also worked for SAADHANA ’07. “Imagine that”, I remember saying to myself. I decided to keep an eye on him. And he did not disappoint.

He worked as hard as anyone for SAADHANA. He then got stuck into INSIGHT at my request. And then into the DC. He is now more than just a junior. He is a friend.

I heard yesterday that he had met with an accident and that he was rather badly injured.

Here’s looking at you kid.

Get well.