The Battle Clouds Loometh

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[Read first part here] {Continued from an old post “The Boy Prince Holdeth the Great Sword”}

Little Girl: Dadu, tell me more of the story of the Boy Prince from the House of Gandhars.

Grandpa: Be off, little girl, I am watching MTV Roadies.

Little Girl: Aww Dadu, tell tell. Else I will tell Dadi of the jalebis you have at the store down the corner, while pretending to be out on your morning walk.

Grandpa: Pesky twerp. So where was I?

Little Girl: The Boy Prince had been given the Great Sword. Was he made the King now? Did he lead his forces into battle against the Orange Knights?

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Dhoom 3—The Review

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In 2004, two initiatives were launched to pass off mediocre blue-blood Babalog as superstars, while making a shitload of cash for their stakeholders.

One was the UPA government. The other was the Dhoom franchise.

In both these, the trick was essentially same. Smoke. Mirrors. Hype. And for smarter people to hold up the halo for the mediocres.

By 2004, the powers-that-be had tried, with no success, to pass Uday Chopra, the scion of one of Bollywood’s richest and most powerful families, off as a romantic hero. But after the spectacular tanking of his solo “Mere Yaar ki Shaadi Hai”, the writing was on the wall.

It was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it was to make Uday Chopra’s fantasy of being an A-list hero comes to fruition.

But they didn’t give up.

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NRI Desi Facts

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1. If you see an NRI (Non-Resident Indian-Immigrant) Desi smiling at you at Sabzi Mandi, be sure he is either an insurance agent or selling Amway.

2. The sophisticated NRI Desi shops at Target and sneers at desis who shop at Walmart. The uber-sophisticated NRI Desi shops clearance at Macy’s and sneers at desis who shop at Target and Walmart.

3. The NRI Desi buys a ticket for a movie at AMC. Treats it as an all-day pass.

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Us And Them

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Being a very filmy person (but you already knew that I suppose), my ideal of a reporter was the character played by Sekhar Suman in “Tridev” whose murder, while doing investigative journalism piece on the dangerous Bhujang, let loose a sequence of spectacular events, that included but was not limited to Sunny Deol looking at the camera and saying, in a deadpan voice, “Ek aur sipahi desh ke liye shaheed ho gaye”.

In real life, the only people who came close to that khadi-clad, jhola-carrying ideal were the guys at Tehelka. Or that’s the way I saw things when they did the match-fixing sting, blowing the lid off the conspiracy of silence in a most spectacular way. And if that was not enough, then went up against the might of the NDA government and in the process was almost finished off by them.

This was brave stuff. They wrote their pieces well. True they came across as  a bit  too sensational and full of themselves at times, but then again with that name what else could you do.

Then, over the years, I began to see a pattern.

That Tehelka chose its targets selectively. While the facade of fairness was sought to be kept, it was obvious which side of the political spectrum Tehelka was. Their editorial tone, over the years, became increasingly fundamentalist, which I define as those who split the world into “us” and “them”, with different standards for “us” (people who are ideologically aligned with our idea of the world) and different standards for “them” (those that are not).  In their defense, they couldn’t even lay claim left-wing counterculture street-cred any more, with what their big-ticket, big-business-sponsored “thinkfests” and the perception of them being aligned in pushing the agenda of the ruling party. Tehelka was big media now, and the edgy-independent paper posturing had worn thin.

And now the Tejpal story has broken, as grave charges of sexual assault have been levelled against Tarun Tejpal by a Tehelka staffer.

I was shocked.

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On Sachin and the Bharat Ratna

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SRTOne would have thought, at least I certainly did, that people would at least wait till the tears dried on the cheeks after Sachin’s heart-wrenching final moments on a cricket field before starting the snark and the snap, now that contentious issues like whether he should retire (which I believe he should have in 2011) are no longer germane.

I was wrong.

When I heard that they were giving Sachin the Bharat Ratna, I felt “Finally. Someone who deserves it. I am sure everyone will agree this time a government award is most appropriate.”

I was, once again, wrong.

Apparently, Sachin Tendulkar, we are being told does not deserve the Bharat Ratna. No not because Rajiv Gandhi and Morarji Desai have won it and we wouldn’t want Sachin to be in the same list.

No. It is because Sachin Tendulkar somehow does not make the cut. Qualitywise.

Because he is 29th on some ranking prepared by ICC. Or because his career average, is less than Kumar Sangakkara.

Yes.

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My Sachin Story

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All of us have a Sachin story. For a generation and perhaps even more, he is the thread that runs through so many of our memories. Of faces, people, blurry TV screens, sleepless eyes, cheers, gaalis, of sitting-at-one-place-and-not-moving-lest-we-jinx, clenched fists, pumped arms, spilled Pepsis, crumbs on shirts, smiles, tears, desperation, and elation.  This is why all of us feel that we know him, and if time spent simply looking at someone and of being invested in his success is a measure of intimacy, then I suppose many of us would accept that we are closer to him than we are to quite a few cousins and uncles.

It’s strange really, this kind of personal relationship with an abstract entity, abstract in that we do not really know know him. Kind of the relationship those of faith have with God. No wonder then that that word is used in association with him, so often. No wonder that his passing leaves many empty, as if the string has been yanked out and our memories are now bouncing free, like colorful beads on the floor, and we fear that some of them will roll underneath the bed, never to be found.

As for me, little old me, I don’ t think that will happen.

But for that, I need to tell you my Sachin story.

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Krrish 3—The Review

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The nation needs a superhero. Some try to bring one back from the pages of history, make a big statue and, through it all, generate political capital. Some create a superhero from imagination, make a big statue of him on film, and from that generate actual capital.

Like Rakesh Roshan. And his immortal “Krrish” (the only superhero with a numerically correct name) franchise, which may miss a number (Krrish 1 is followed by 3) but never an opportunity for nifty surrogate advertising. Products dot the landscape of Krrish 3, like pictures of Gandhi, Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi at a Congress convention, and had not the movie been so stupendously original and exciting, one might have thought that more attention was given on product placement than things like plot, characterization and dramatic conflict.

Fortunately, that is not the case. Krrish is stupendously original, in every sense of the term.

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