The Unputdownables

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Jaswant Singh’s book Jinnah: India, Partition-Independence becomes a best seller this week, based on its re-interpretation of history, yet another scholarly book being lapped up by a country that prides itself on being receptive to different kinds of ideas. [Here is a qawalli composed in his "honor"]

Here we have some of the other books that have been top-sellers in Pakistan.

The Taliban Code: The Langda Don, on sabbatical at Rawalpandi University, tries to uncover the greatest secret the world has ever known, namely that behind the apparent misogyny the Taliban is actually an army of ultra-feminists headed by Mullah Greer codenamed “Haseena Atim Bum“.

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Kissa Kissi Ka

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There is something about cricketers, something about “ball misses bat bat misses ball howazzat” that just make those lips go out of control. I first came to know of this relationship between cricket and kissing during the Sportsworld quiz when the quizmaster asked “Who was the first Indian cricketer to get kissed on a cricket field” and the answer I found out was Abbas Ali Baig (One of the teams guessed Bapu Nadkarni to which the quizmaster pointedly said “Do you want me to repeat the question”?).

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Inglourious Basterds—the Review

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Whether you find Quentin Tarantino an arrogant, over-rated prick raised to stratospheric levels by the worship of his zombie fanboys or whether you consider him Hollywood’s most stylish and original visionary, the main reason for either assessment is essentially the same.

And that is that Quentin Tarantino’s movies are about one and only one thing.

Himself.

In cinemascope and full technicolor.

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The Power Of History

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[This blog turns five today. Long post]

High school. History period. Sitting in the front bench a friend said to me, a bit loudly and with barely concealed exasperation “What is the use of this stuff?”  Our history teacher, in an unusually good mood, turned to him and rather than boxing his ears  pointed to the book, ” Everything you see in today’s news has its origins right here. This is also where all today’s news will ultimately land up.”

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The Wrath of Khan

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“Aise waison ko diya hai kaise kaison ko diya hai”

I am sure all of us, at some time or the other, have sat contemplating why so-and-so, possessing such moderate talent have achieved so much in life. While we , infinitely superior in all respects have been able to achieve little in comparison. After much envious sadness and introspection, we have come to the conclusion that when opportunity came knocking so-and-so went for the ball in a fashion we felt was shameless–blowing their horn, elbowing the rest—something which even we could have done if we were as desperate. Not that occupying the dubious moral high ground has caused us any satisfaction over the years. Far from it.

However what whiners call shamelessness, winners call aggressiveness. It is a trait possessed by few. To make the most of opportunities. No matter if that makes them look opportunistic. After all, they are too busy being successful  to notice the hushed whispers and the roll of eyes.

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Kaminey—the Review

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In the 70s and early 80s, directors like Manmohan Desai perfected what came to be known as the Hindi movie formula—–big-multicasters with larger-than-life heroes, chawanni-flinging dialogs, black-and-white linear stories with strong moral messages, elaborate expositions that allowed one to miss thirty minutes of the movie at any time and still be able to follow it once he came back, eye-patched white-suit wearing villains, ever-sacrificing “Nirupa Roy” mothers, epic running times so that even if one did not quite enjoy the movie, one could get 3 hours 20 minutes of shut-eye in a cool air-conditioned theater.

The late 80s and the 90s saw a transformation in this well-accepted standard template, one that was caused by a change in audience tastes.  Movies that slavishly followed the older formula, for instance Amitabh Bachchan’s so-called comeback series of movies, were rejected and many of the older movie moguls faded away. Barjatiya-Chopra-Johar became the standard-holders for the new formula namely that of  NRI romances targeted towards the international market which were defined by drastic improvements in production quality, foreign locales, family values, syrupy love stories and Manish Malhotra costumes.

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Agyaat—the Review

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Ram Gopal Varma’s “Agyaat” is yet another masterpiece from the misunderstood genius,  a  celluloid circle of Hell that realizes a devilish vision of terror for anyone who dares sit through it.

Like the greats of horror, RGV spins a yarn that works at multiple levels on the psyche of the audience.  First there is the terror inherent in the cast, consisting of a number of hyperacting actors with over exaggerated facial expressions, who seem to have wandered off from the sets of a RGV mafia movie (the only other kind of flick he makes nowadays besides horror), acting consistently as if there was Tabasco sauce smeared on their behinds as they wildly gesticulate, snarl and gnash their teeth with the most horrifying performance of the year being given by Ishrat Ali  [Lamboo Atta from "Gunda"] whose “Bullah mujhe maat mar mujhe aapna bhadrwa bana le” expression before death was a touch of pure directorial class.

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Me Cheenaman

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This article appeared in the policy magazine Badgati.

Chinese foreign policy strategy to break up India was laid bare recently in an article by one of the country’s foremost defense experts [Link], whose writings reveal him to be in the same class as the venerable ex-Jihadi Hamid, Pakistan’s No 1 public intellectual . However what has gathered the most interest in Indian policy circles is the startling revelation of a plot that many people have suspected for long.

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Five Bits of Unsolicited Advice For Bloggers

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This is my 600th post (according to my WordPress dashboard). Also this month on 20th August this blog will turn five. In the accelerated world of the Net, that’s considered to be an eternity. Actually I would say that’s quite a lot of time  in the real world also , enough for instance to have completed another PhD.

Which is why today I put on the cap of  cranky old man and fortified by five-years and six hundred posts of wisdom, dispense five totally unsolicited bits of advice for bloggers.

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