Vision Impossible !

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The hero, bloodied and fatigued, is tied to a rope with his hands above his head. The treacherous Pakistani jehadi-general tells his underling “Cut him up” and leaves the scene. The muscleman brings out a chainsaw (yes a chainsaw..ala Leatherface) with the aim of “cutting the hero up”. He swings wildly unable to cope with the recoil of the motor and cuts through the rope which ties the hero ! And the hero proceeds to send him to his maker.

That in a nutshell is “Asambhav”–an unintentional comedy which was made as an action flick. Its pedigree was excellent. With one of my favorite Bollywood directors Rajiv Rai at the helm I was expecting a Mohra or Gupt. Clean low-brow fun, edge of the seat action, some item numbers—-and what did I get: a damned comedy !

The plot err….the President of India along with his fetching daughter have been kidnapped by “international terrorists” the leader of who looks as menacing as a pickpocket on a local train. He does have a “boom” shell girlfriend though….Boom Boom Anupama Verma in a role as miniscule as her shorts. These “terrorists” plan to sell the President off for a measly 50 million dollars (yes 50 million !) to a very constipated Afghan jihadi (Mukesh Rishi) who is badly in the need of a laxative. And who keeps on saying Oye…[A Tarantino-style tribute to Tridev possibly]. He is being paid off by a Pakistani general [Milind Gunaji] who has as his sidekick an assasin who looks like Shahid Afridi. In the mix come in drug smugglers Tom Alter and Naseeruddin Shah [who seems to need the money more than the terrorists….else what is an actor of his capacity doing in this mess]. Then there is sleazy talent agent Arif Zakaria who rolls the word “Alishaaaaaaa” off his tongue with the same gusto as Anu Malik did when he made a pass at Babydoll Alisha Chinoi.

Talent Agent? Talent in this movie? Oh yes. There is the heroine Priyanka Chopra for whom this role is tailor-made to exhibit her acting repertoire. Which consists of some pelvic thrusts and heaves. Not that I am complaining !

Then there is the embassy staff……consisting of a poet who represents the all-around depravity of the movie, a voluptous vixen suggestively named “Brar”, and an ambassador who is having more fun that he should legally be allowed to have. Did we forget anyone? Oh yes….the hero…..Captain Arya [Arjun Rampal] who does calisthenics bare-torsoed and who kicks bigtime butt [no I dont mean Priyanka Chopra’s] with a deadpan expression. He is on mission impossible…to rescue the president before the audience dies of laughter.

The camerawork tries to be on the edge….with splitscreens and blurred motion but like everything else in the movie its overdone. But thats the only positive (if one can call it that) in the entire movie. The dialogues are about as fresh as last week’s leftovers and about as original as Bappi Lahiri. The level of acting is straight out of a school play and the action sequences hohum. I liked the music of course and thats the only reason I sat through this muck. The director tries to make the movie “heavy” by throwing in references to Al Jazeera, Masood, Daniel Pearl ……but when you have a movie where a man rhymes “bisphot” [explosion] with “langot” [loin-cloth]….nothing can save it from the pits.

A point in passing. With Paki-bashing being the recurrent theme in this movie I couldnt help notice a subtle (yes I know the word “subtle” and Ashambhav dont go together at all) characterization which I can only call communal. All the evil Pakistani men speak in Urdu and the heroic Capt Arya (arya ?) speaks in true “suddh” [pure] Hindu (Sanskritized) Hindi without a trace of Urdu influence. Of course that makes his dialogues comical [it seems he is straight out of Mahabharata] and I was just waiting for him to say “Parantu Mitr” ! He does come close…..while bashing up a baddie he does call him a “dusht papi” or something like that……an educated urbane commando…….and all those Afghans can say in return is “Oye”

In all a total cop-out.

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Gay-bashing and frothing at the mouth

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A habitual reader (and occasional contributor) of rediff, with its nice mix of news, opinion pieces and plain-and-simple gossip I was shocked by this article on the the murder of Pushkin Chandra by Swapan Dasgupta.
The Pushkin case has served to open our eyes to a grim facet of gay life that many people don’t want to acknowledge. Courtesy the steady degeneration of liberalism and the systematic assault on family values, ordinary, decent people are wary of speaking out against the perversions in the gay community lest it be construed as intolerance. They are further intimidated by the aggressive support extended to alternative lifestyles by the presiding deities of culture.
Of course despite the veneer of impartiality and objectivity by the author (a prominent right-wing journo) the gay-hatred (along with a jaundiced view of any perceived liberal practices) is never far from the surface.
The underlying assumption of the piece is that gays lead a life of unlicensed promiscuity : which panders to the worst stereotype most Indians have towards any alternative lifestyle. And that gays are being allowed to get away by committing heinous crimes just because they are gay……of course Mr Dasgupta is short on facts when it comes to supporting this contention.
The problem is not homosexuality but our changing perceptions of it. What was hitherto a fringe tendency has been given an extraordinary licence. There is a growing climate of moral laxity that has led to countries like India becoming new receptacles for what can best be called criminal deviancy. Gay criminality isn’t the whole problem but it is certainly part of the problem and the Pushkin murder was an example of that.
And the clincher:
Finally, the Pushkin case has brought into the open a nexus between employees of international aid agencies and the gay underworld. Of particular concern to many is the possibility of the lavishly funded anti-AIDS campaign being misused to create a gay network. It would certainly seem that some of the do-gooder foreigners ostensibly involved in improving the plight of natives see India as just a convenient place to buy cheap sex with poor slum kids.
You can almost feel the rightist’s hatred for NGOs spilling out here: sometimes these naughty NGOs aid foreign missionaries, sometimes they defend gay lovers…ooh these subverters of Indian sanskriti…..Now I am no big fan of NGOs and the champagne socialists who mostly run them [I shall vent my spleen on them in a future post]..but this so-called nexus between the NGOs and the gay criminal underworld alluded to is certainly a figment of the author’s rather colorful imagination [A gay version of Eyes Wide Shut perhaps]

In a culture where any alternative form of sexuality is frowned upon and persecuted [and one only has to look at the IPC’s definition of “perversion”] Swapan-babu seems to think that:

There are enough openly gay couples who dot the society pages of our newspapers. They may be considered somewhat odd and, at times, bohemian, but we haven’t heard of cases of gay-bashing. Indeed, so great is the lure of the Pink Rupee, that many restaurants and bars have begun to discreetly organise Gay Evenings for this neglected clientele. As such, the accusations of a witch-hunt of gays levelled by activists are somewhat far-fetched and self-serving.

“Discreetly” ? Now I wonder why thats the case? In the utopian world of Swapan Dasgupta there is no “moral police” so why on earth the discreetness?

Swapan Dasgupta is a passable columnist. Sometimes he does write well-balanced pieces but the deep well of hatred he has for homosexuality and the perils of “liberal culture” and NGOs have made this piece as intellectually incisive as the fulminations of an old man sitting on a park bench and observing a couple romancing.

In the end his personal biases so fog his judgement and his logical skills that he ends up contradicting himself, making sweeping unsubstantiated claims and in general looking like someone frothing at the mouth in anger and not being able to come up with any coherent words.

Another surrender

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Another abject defeat this time in preliminary match of the Holland Cup. What’s happened to the Men in Blue for the last few months? After that insipid performance in Sri Lanka we see the same vein of performance in Holland. And that too against one of the most mediocre Pakistani sides of recent times!

Firstly I dont understand why India insists on batting second…how many times have we lost chasing? I understand the overcast conditions in the morning but how about considering our record batting second……the same story match after match…..slow pitch in the second innings making batting difficult.

Somehow I believe we are making the career of Shoaib Malik…a player of very mediocre talents who will be put in his place by the other teams…but who like many other cricketers have become a bugaboo for the Indian team. Douglas Mariller, Ray Price, Ronnie Irani, Salim Elahi…..the list of these Indophiles are endless.

And someone please get rid of Mohd Kaif…..I dont care how many runs he saves on the field the bottom line is that he is a batsman and thats what he should be doing. He has been living off the Natwest Final for years now without making a tanglible batting contribution……for a batsman coming in at No 7 he doesnt seem to have the power to clear the ropes or to hit some big shots. Sure he runs well but at No 7 we need someone who can murder the bowlers not someone who pinches singles. And even that on pitches offering something for the bowler Kaif stagnates totally.

Of course we gave away 42 runs from the last 3 overs but hey what can you expect with our very own Duckworth Agarkar back in the side ! Irfan had his rare offday and the we lost the match in those 3 overs itself.

Another defeat……and possible exit from the Holland Cup [Dont see this side putting one across Australia]

Start of a new life

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This is the start of my blogging…pouring random thoughts and rants. Working for the first time in my life….after a lifetime in the hallowed halls of academia. Never thought of blogging before and I dont even know if I will be regular in maintaing this blog.

Getting up early in the morning is a practice I dumped when I was in school…high school that is. Now at this old age I have to wake up at the crack of dawn, get attired in formals and come to work. Thats the bummer. The good thing is that I enjoy someone else fixing out work for me…do this do that…I kind of like that. As opposed to being a graduate student where you just sit and think of what to do and whether what you think you should do will lead to a publication [the only currency for gauging relevance]. Here the worth and relevance of what you do is fixed beforehand and so thats one less thing to think about.

Another thing I have noticed in me…I wasnt a car person before…but now having settled down in Warren I am beginning to get caught up in this car culture.

Went to an absolutely atrocious indian buffet lunch today…it was totally vegetarian. As it is I am not a great fan of vegetarian food (Indian food= tandoori chicken) and even accepting that the food was vegetarian, the choice on offer was barely appetizing.

Wife coming tomorrow….have to clean my house. Or at the very least my computer…well I will just clean the computer..if you know what I mean.

Watched the Hindi movie Deewar yesterday……the new one with Amitabh Bacchan…..and India’s own bald headed eagle Akshay Khanna. Having been a great fan of “Aankhen”, Gaurang Doshi’s first movie, I came with high expectations.

First things first. How long is Amitabh Bacchan going to go on doing the angry old man routine? Here he is at it again…now I am a big B fan to the hilt but he is getting very very repititive. Of course the fact that his movies release every Friday isnt helping matters any. And to top it all off he has no good lines to deliver…net effect it all falls flat. None of the mephistophelian charm he exuded in “Aankhen” here.

Now I am no peace pigeon but why oh why are all the Pakistanis in this movie cartoonishly evil? They seem to be straight out of the Nazi flicks of the 50s and 60s..they even carry a hunting crop ala the classical German camp commandant. All the Pakistanis without fail are shown to be treacherous sadists and cardboard caricatures…which besides being politically incorrect in this time of crossborder bonhomie is just bad filmmaking.

And there was a Pakistani Hindu in this movie who was shown to be a collaborator with India..now is that meant to be a complimentary portrait of Pakistani Hindus? I am sure and would hope that the Hindus who stay in Pakistan are 100% patriotic to Pakistan… or is it the point of the filmmaker that all Pakistanis are traitors. In all the inability to recognize the basic humanity of the Pakistani adversary dilutes the movie to a great extent.

And whose idea was it to cast Akshay Khanna as an action hero ? And the love angle in the story and the crazy rain dance? Wonder how the “Great Escape” would have been with Steve Mcqueen singing as he bounced his baseball………