The Art of Bone Crushing

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[An edited version of this piece appeared in the DNA on Sunday July 31st]

“Singham” is a throwback to the single-screen, honest-cop-against-the-system potboiler from the 80s and 90s, a formula that as “Wanted” and “Dabangg” demonstrated still has legs, even in these multiplex-friendly, emasculated “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” days. Honest cop set-up by bad guys, heroine being ched-chaad-ed by baddies, “comedy” scene, song sequence, romance angle, corrupt cops, corrupt politicians, honest cop arresting goons, bad cop bailing them out, villain coming to police chowki and offering bribes, villain getting humiliated, villain being beaten up, villain getting back at the hero, hero punching his daylights out; every element of the much-loved formula is arranged in repeated regular patterns like nucleotides in a DNA polymer.

And yet Singham for me had as much kick as a slap from Alok Nath.

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The Question of Suffering

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I read this story in an Indian newspaper some years ago. A mentally challenged young girl, who used to beg and live off scraps on the street, had been raped and brutalized, most possibly by many men. She had then been left on a garbage dump. For days, she had lain there, unable to move,  crying out to passers-by in the best way she could, pleading them to help her. No one did.  Not one. Till finally death ended the little girl’s agony.

As a purveyor of the litany of barbarities that pass for news, I have become hardened to what goes on in the world. But this one somehow just broke through. It may sound melodramatic when I say it but I had tears in my eyes. And I did ask myself “Why?”

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Khilona Jaan Kar Tum

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A few days ago, I read in the news that a lady had been apprehended at the airport for trying to bring in an item considered so detrimental to the health of our nation that it has been banned by the sagacious Government of India.

What was it, you ask? RDX? Drugs? Counterfeit money?

No. No. Those we are fine with.

So then what dangerous item was it that set off the security alarms ?

Sex toys.

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Deathly Hallows—Thoughts At The End

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[DO NOT read this post if you have not read the Harry Potter books. It is full of spoilers. If you have not read the Potter books or not read them all, may I suggest my article in this Sunday’s DNA.]

I open at the close. This “I” of course here refers to purse-strings. Not that it has not opened before. The Potter movie franchise has netted 6 billion profits in its decade long run and 20 billion in related merchandize, making it by far the most profitable series of movies ever. And with Deathly Hallows Part 2 pulling down the curtains, one need not be skilled in Divination to know that this one will  net enough Galleons to fill many a Gringotts. As a movie it is strictly workmanlike, moving from one incident to another with little in way of exposition. Like the others in the series, it snips off many of the most critical parts of the Potter saga,  and thus should only be seen by the converted, that is those who can fill in the gaps with their knowledge. At one point of time, the franchise used to pretend it was for those who had not read the books, now it has ceased pretending. Which at least is honest.

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Once Again Mumbai

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The tragedy of terrorist attacks in India is that you can take a blog-post from three years ago, make a small change here and one change there, and it would seem like I just wrote it. Fresh and hot. That’s the thing. Nothing changes. Not a bit. The same bomb blasts, the same canned responses, the same floundering in the dark, the same impotent social media rage, the same sense of headless chicken-ness.

I saw one person splutter angrily on TV ” There was no police here before the blast. No security.”

Security? Hmm.

Well in February I went to Gateway of India. Post 26/11 and to borrow a Shastrism “after the horse has bolted”,  there was security there. A lot of it. Limited access. People in wardi. Metal detector. Only bug in the program—–people could walk around the metal-detector, without standing underneath it, and no one around seemed to be mildly concerned at this small fly in the security ointment.

Security? Hmm.

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The Greatbong Rain Song List

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[Updated with an 11th song that just had to be put in (thanks Tejas)]

11.Lagi Aaj Sawan Ke Phir Woh [Video]: Statistics show that when a man cheats on his wife and gets caught, 64% of the time he says “But darling, when I did it with the other woman, I was thinking only of you. Only your chehra was in my mind.” This song captures that excuse perfectly. Lalit (played by Vinod Khanna), feels the hots for employee Chandni (Sridevi) and that transparent yellow sari she wears isnt helping matters any. But since he is a virtuous hero, he cannot show lust.  And so we have him reminiscing sadly of his “dead wife” (Juhi Chawla) dancing sexily in the rains, as a surrogate for the person he really wants to see getting wet.   How noble. Water I tell you. Plays so many tricks with your eyes. And your morals.

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Gossip Girls (And Boys)

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[This article appeared in DNA, July 3rd, 2011]

Many years ago when in high school, I would make it a point to go to the barber shop during Sunday mornings, precisely when it would be chock-a-block with patrons. This was so that I could wait on the rickety bench for as long as possible and read the movie gossip magazines, banned as they were at home. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, they were like a box of chocolates; you never knew what you would find. Hey look there is Mamata Kulkarni doing an asset cover-up shoddier than Bofors and oooh my God, here is shirtless Marc Zuber (he was slated to be the next big thing at one point of time) on a satin sheet with a come-hither look. But pictures are after all pictures. They became boring after a while.

What did not however were the gossip titbits— who was going out with who and who did not know about it. This was valuable information, to be exchanged back in school, hiding in the back benches during Geography classes.

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