Monday, August 13, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
We reached at least ten minutes early for the movie, which was a pleasant surprise considering Simmi and my propensity to arrive at the last minute for movies, almost always. For EMAET we could catch the promo trailers that were run before the screening of the movie – Housefull 2 and Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya. If I were to go by the trailers, then I would think twice, before buying exorbitant multiplex tickets to watch any of the two which seem to be nothing but run of the mill slapstick rom-coms. I had held a similar opinion for EMAET too. But let me get one thing straight – being a hard core Kareena fan, if anything could have dragged me to the movie hall, it had to be only her. Yet the movie turned out to be more than just her. It was a pleasant and refreshing surprise for its genre of romantic comedy. I would regard it as a good experiment as far as story and screen play is concerned. One also has to give it to debutant director Shakun Batra for managing to knit the so often told ‘loser-boy-meets-happening-girl-life-changes’ situation well by demanding balanced performances from each of his actors.
Monday, February 6, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
Monday, January 23, 2012
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
In one of the introductory scenes of The Dirty Picture, Vidya Balan in her role as Reshma a.ka. Silk, says to Emran Hashmi playing Abraham, a reticent I-hate-Silk director “Filmein sirf teen cheezon ke wajeh se chalti hai. Entertainment, entertainment, entertainment. Aur main entertainment hoon.” If the dialogue was not a punch enough, the poise with which Vidya delivers it, is a coup-de-grace for the audience. The wink, which I have always felt, no actor had done enough justice to post Madhuri Dixit gets a fresh patronage under Vidya. Throughout the movie Vidya as Silk would enthral the viewers with this signature gesture post delivery of any key dialogue. The wink imparts a new meaning to the dialogues, almost as if it never meant what it was supposed to mean; more often establishing Silk’s symbolic pun at her two faced fans, friends or foes.
In Ishqiya, if a feisty Vidya was a revelation, in this movie, she goes on to establish herself as an unparalleled actor beyond the league of any of her contemporaries. And how - not just by choosing a role that already had character written all over it, not by deciding to get into the skin of the character through a methodist school of acting - putting on weight, smoking or wearing what the character was needed to, but the real achievement lay in the ability to confidently carry the role of a sultry southern seductress who got a raw deal from the industry that created her, adulated her and then let her slip into an oblivion death, ironically only to reprise her much later in this story. Milan Luthria’s choice of subject is a winner and there are no second thoughts about it. What would have been a pity is if this fine script, camera work and cinematography had met incompetent acting - the movie would have met doomsday instantaneously. The real winner therefore is the casting director followed by the actors themselves. Each role have had a glove like fit in its respective actors. Naseruddin Shah as the never ageing, womanising, super-star who has no qualms of ‘tuning’ with every co-actress during the night and then avoiding them with equal nonchalance in the day, does what he does best - act. It is a treat that we are present in an era to see fine actors like Shah present their craft over and over again tirelessly. Bravo.
Tushar Kapoor plays the second fiddle brother to the super star, a role he must have by now gained an excellence over considering the number of such roles he so convincingly plays. I have always argued that he is a fine actor, if only he knew to select his roles. As Ramakant, Tushar does not disappoint - he is the weakling who despite all his good intentions for Silk can never muster the courage to side step society and wed her.
The other male lead - Emran Hashmi is an actor who has really come of age from the only kiss-and-kiss days. One could not miss his stellar performance in Once upon a time in Mumbai (again a Milan Luthria movie). And once again in this movie he does poetic justice to the role of Abraham, Silk’s arch detractor from the beginning and yet ironically perhaps the only one who empathised in the true sense with her predicament. As a character of a director who lives in the arrogance of his film making abilities not believing that cheap ‘sex’ (read – Silk) can actually ever sell movies Emran is more than convincing. The bitter sweet irony is that by the end of it all when Abraham finally meets a commercial success he admits that movies sell only because of three things - ‘entertainment, entertainment and entertainment,’ thereby coming a full circle by quoting the woman he so loved to hate - Silk.
The movie however unabashedly belongs to the character and actor- Silk and Vidya Balan respectively. I have mentioned earlier that the real winner is the casting director and the cherry in the pie of casting is Vidya Balan. It is not my biased interest in Vidya speaking in this section, but if you have watched the movie, you will agree that reprising the role of a character who moves from rags to riches to rags in her own terms, compromising with morality and satiating the hunger for success, she is utterly fantastic from the first to the last shot. A good director can only do as much as set the plot to a perspective but a good actor can take a perspective to new heights. Vidya does exactly this. She defines the role Silk in a quintessential manner leaving an indelible impression on the viewers. People have written about her ability to confidently feature a more than voluptuous character with ease. I shall regard that second to her ability to impart a unique trademark to the character, which will remain with you as a viewer long after you have come out of the cinema halls. Hence, I began talking about the wink. The manner how Vidya delivers it, almost makes me feel as if it’s aimed as a symbolic pun at her critics and detractors who may have written her off for not being the quintessential size zero, hour glass heroine. Oh - she is not all of that and I thank God for this. She is, well, she is ‘entertainment’ ;)
The Dirty Picture certainly qualifies as one of the hundred-movies-to-watch-before-you-die. Don’t Miss it.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Come winters and our capital’s streets and markets come alive with the aroma of delectable warm,oily, spicy (or sweet) snacks. And mind you, keeping in sync with the sentiment of the so-large ‘total vageetarian’ community, the ubiquitous and your nearby Aggarawal (both single and double ‘g,’clans) or Nathu halwaiwala, will perforate the evening air with aromatic and definitely mouth watering dishes like the Aloo Tikki (No, Mashed Potato patty is not a close English cousin or synonym), Samosas, Kachori, Moong-Dal-Halwa, Gajar-Ka-halwa, Paneer Tikka, Gulab Jamun and a host of others. If in these evenings you loiter or pass around the market and not caring whether you have a flat six pack tummy or one of those half-globe ones, you cannot deny the temptation to have feasted on these delicacies once or every possible time. It’s just so in our Delhism to not deny these beauties from adorning our big mouths. Top all this with a plate of piping hot jalebis and you are set to feel like a king/queen. If you ask me, in my humble opinion, this sweet twisted dish (hardly actually, if you consider a fermented dough of flour with some essence a dish) is the queen (assuming it to be feminine) of all winter desserts or street snacks. Well, to my assumption's favour, the Jalebi is certainly royal in her appearance and not one of those all-round-or-fluid’ desserts. The saffron colour adds an edge to the royalty and finally there is always a struggle to get your self a plate of her. (Kind of makes it elitist) Besides, like a benevolent royal, the Jalebi, creates a joyous atmosphere for the people consuming it. Don’t believe me - Observe a group or even yourself when you bite into a piece. There is a sense of immense joy, almost as if all your problems have been taken care of as the deep fried and sweetened dough melts in your mouth and the sweet syrup rushes down the gullet ; then you bite into another and another, till the feeling infiltrates your senses like a drug. That is the royal Jalebi for you.
If that was not enough, then one can feel her elitism when one tries to get an audience with her. Like suitors for a marriage, you are given numbers of when will she grace you. The attendant (the sales-boy) will nonchalantly scribble a number on your token slip and call it out almost as nonchalantly. No one messes with the high priestess and if you want her grace, then you weather the wait. In our friendly Agarwal store, I have not seen many refuse the number even though that would sometimes mean an hour long wait. In my own case I would not wait that long for a doctor, but Ms. Jalebi has her own charm and I succumb to it.
In the numerous plates of Jalebi I have consumed all this long, there was this epiphany today. This simple Indian dessert in many ways is also a philosophy of life itself. No, seriously. The ingredients, the shape, the cooking process and then finally tills its consumed, the Jalebi is life incarnate and if you are connoisseur of the dessert as much as I am , then you will agree. Let me elucidate.
Fine wheat flour mixed with butter milk is fermented as the dough for jalebi. Wheat flour is life, butter milk the experience of life and the fermentation is time. (This is not heavy, trust me) One can add saffron and essence to this batter, just as life has its share of emotions, good friends and other elements which ferment along with it. Now, after an overnight of fermentation (not excessive) comes the real cooking. The batter is placed in small quantities inside a muslin pouch which has a small hole. The cook will then artistically make concentric circles of the batter dropping out of the hole into heated oil, where its fried. The boiling oil if you consider can be the trials and tribulations that one’s life is fried in. The shape of the Jalebi is how one’s life is - never a straight line but layers of concentric circles, sometime touching each other and sometimes much dispersed. One can never escape this part regardless of who you are. This is the precedence to the best part, yet to begin. Only after the Jalebi is fried just enough to turn golden brown, that its immersed in a syrup of sugar for a short while, though long enough for it to absorb the sweetness before its served piping on your plate. The same way, life will fry us only enough and give us an opportunity to be dipped in the sweet experiences, which in the long run will be all that matters. And one cannot claim that there are no sweet experiences in one’s life - that will be saying one did not live at all. Better still, look at this way that despite all the fermentation and frying, its the taste of the Jalebi that lingers in your mouth, the joy that it brings in consuming it. So, if one can treat life as an experience through which we can bring joy to others and remain as a sweet memory, one has just Jalebied oneself. Profound - Not exactly, but what the heck, it was a thought and I take the pride of coining this as the Jalebi theory - something I wish 2012 to live by. Next time you gorge on a Jalebi, do not think of the calories; think of it as a learning of life, a bodhta. If that is heavy duty, then just consume it for the sake that it sweetens your taste buds.
Wishing all you readers a Jalebi of time in 2012. Share this with all and spread the Jalebi theory. :)
Note: Photo courtesy - indianimages.com
Friday, December 30, 2011
The year is 364 days old. Without wanting to sound very philosophical, come to think of it, even I am older by the same number of calendar days. It has been quiet a year - 2011. Like most of the years since I have started working, the days seem to have passed away quicker. Then again, I know this well, its not time that has picked up pace but my lifestyle. I do not know if this is a boon or a bane - an introspection left for my forties; no careless pondering on this for now.
2011 was the Chinese year of the rabbit. (2010 was the year of tiger, ironically) Rabbits, for me have always been far from being a romantic, furry, timid animal. The earliest fictional imagery, I can recollect of a rabbit, is that of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, always in a paucity of time, running late, incoherent yet wise. This perhaps is a perfect analogy for my ‘year of the rabbit’ -(read the mad hatter) Take a dive into a few thought provoking milestones of my journey into the rabbit hole this year.
Friends: This is has been a discovery this year. Well, isn’t this always in a year, you may wonder? Yes, it is, but live my life and age and you will understand why the impulse to write about this topic at the beginning. This year, I earned friends. In the past years I have made and lost friends, but have earned few. Earning friendship is a difficult and patient process. Every individual is different and the bond of friendship recognises this subtle thread that actually binds us together. The ‘rabbit year’ nourished such individuals in my life and I am grateful. It will be futile to talk about them, but if they choose to read (few even complain of my ‘exorbitantly expensive’ english) they well know who they are. My sincere wish that all of you get such friends in years to come and in case you all consider me one such, I will be much honoured and be willing to traverse the journey of life with you as far as possible.
Wife: Simmi and I are now a whole one year and nine months married. It has been a very fulfilling journey till now. Not that we did not or do not have our share of problems. We have had some bitter arguments and fights regarding the most trivial of issues. Yet, we are thankful that we did pick up those arguments and will perhaps continue to do so, because it helps cleanse the system of its unending list of daily frustrations of life, which we often tend to unleash on the easiest prey available to us - the one we love the most. In the course of our some very childish whims and arguments, I have come to realise that none but her would have ever tolerated such temperament of mine. She has over this period of togetherness, helped me to be myself, san pretensions and what more, loved me more for being so. I cannot be more grateful for that and maybe will smile next time we pick up a fight. The year also helped me realise her resoluteness and commitment to my family, when she decided to quit her job and be with my mom to take care of her. I was and still am amazed at her sacrifice, so just saying that ‘I am proud of her’ would be an understatement. Here is secret - Husbands/Men harbour an ambition of having model wife/girlfriends. If you ask me, the rabbit fulfilled my ambition this year.
Writing: This year, I re-discovered this passion. I always wanted to be a writer. It has been an undefeated passion for a long time since, I first wrote a verse in school, followed by some unlimited skits, short stories, essays and then came the years of the blank canvas. To write, I needed to read, to read I needed to discuss, debate, understand, observe and all this while the wheel was often missing some spoke or the other to complete a cycle. The year gifted me with a surreal mentor who completed the picture, dawning a new phase in me. With soulful mentor-ship, I also owe it to the social media revolution, which opened a new direct relationship between the writer and the reader. Factoring all these conditions the journey is well begun and I cross my fingers that I scurry to my destination steadily and not in a race with the tortoise.
Travel: I cannot claim to be a traveller, even though it is a passion. Or, lets put it this way I have not given into the real passion of being a traveller though there were some adventurous steps taken towards it. For the first time (quiet an achievement) I traveled abroad, albeit to only a neigbouring country - Sri Lanka. This was with friends and for cricket, so most of it gets censored in description. However, Lanka was fun - the highlight of the journey - I lost my camera on the first day.
Closer home, there was this road trip to Amritsar, again with friends. Great experience and place - the highlight of the journey - I bought a high end point-and-shoot camera. Then there was an office trip to Naukuchiataal, my holiday with Simmi down south to Bangalore, Hoggenakal and Coorg. In between all this there were two annual trips to home at Shillong or Guwahati, where most of the time, I was either busy repairing or having something repaired among the other lists of things that a dutiful-twelve-day-a-year-visiting son has to fulfill. Home can never be a travel destination, if you wear my shoes, that is.
Cricket: How could I miss this. I lived through all possible superstitions watching the India-Sri Lanka World Cup final in my own living room. The rabbit had a mixed bag for the Indian kookaburras. Winning the world cup is definitely a high point for a long long time, but the England series had exorcised my feeling for Cricket completely. I am now a far less passionate follower of Indian cricket, but deep inside, the heart beats, still race faster, every time a match is positioned on the razor’s edge. Like today, I was cursing and cussing the Indian team all over twitter when the buggers conceded the first test to Australia. Did, I say I was ‘less passionate?’
I guess, this is too small a list of events to summarise my 364 days, but like the mad hatter, I too am running late for the bed. Few milestones like Sleep, Movies, Reading, Cooking remain and should find place duly but only after I finish doing what I want to do now.
So where did the rabbit hole lead me to? Think, did I not answer that already. ;)
You will see more of me this year but before that gear yourself for 2012 - to ‘train a dragon’. You need skill and faith. Wishing you all ample of it, Happy New Year.