Ragini MMS 2—The Review


parvin-dabas-still-from-film-ragini-mms-2_139151102120 (1)

One of the many things I do not understand about the world is why people would pay money in a theater to see Sunny Leone  in a half state of undress doing tepid things that would pass through the sieve of Indian censors when they can see her fully RTI-ed online doing bahoot hi krantikaari stuff for free.

It’s like someone getting a business class upgrade and then sitting coach-class right next to the lavatories, where the seats don’t even go back.

I never get it.

Because that’s all Ragini MMS 2 is.

Sunny Leone in lingerie and baby dolls and a song that has the words “baby doll”.

The first Ragini MMS was a passably good horror Hindi movie, given the severe restrictions of the Indian horror genre, stuck as it is in the scantily-clad lass in peril mode since the days of Ramsays. There were some nicely done moments, Rajkummar Rao is always good in whatever crappy role he is put in, and Kainaz Motivala’s demurely voluptuous charms captured through strategically-placed cams I at least understood the artistic reason for.

But Ragini MMS 2, with Sunny Leone playing a character called Sunny in the same way Himesh Reshammiya plays characters called Himesh (Himesh’s gratuitous cleavage being a horror movie in itself), is a disaster in every sense of the term.

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Deconstructing Kejriwal Part 4


[Image courtesy Hindu]

[Previous part of the series--Part 3]

One of the principal, if not the principal scourge of the Indian political system is the cynical use of targeted intimidation as a populist political weapon. Deep divisions run without our country with persistent narratives of fear,  historical notions of “hurt”, and generational denial of opportunities. Political parties have realized that the lowest hanging fruit is pandering to this, through violence or the threat of violence. The message is simple. While your elected representatives may not be able to provide basic amenities, they can surely facilitate “revenge” and “maintenance of morality” and “self-confidence” , where the latter is invariably defined by the subjugation of some other group.

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Deconstructing Kejriwal Part 3


[Deconstructing Kejriwal Part 2]

In the last post, we left the discussion on Kejriwal at a very tantalizing point. [Picture courtesy Hindustan Times]

Even if we can discount Kejriwal’s comically overplayed honesty card, and his  “sab bike hua hai to Ambani and Adnani” (the more Youngistan-friendly  version of “You Maoists”) persecution narrative, and much of his camera-bait antics, can we still consider Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party to be a viable national alternative, at least conceptually (conceptually since they are not likely to get more than 5 to 7 seats), given that they have never presided over deadly riots nor have they been accused of stealing hundreds of crores nor of mismanaging the country for decades?

In other words, are they provably better than those they claim to oppose?

On the subject of corruption, it is very difficult to say what AAP would have done since Kejriwal and his men have never held power. It’s like a man who has never married claiming that he has taken a stance against dowry. The stance will only be validated if he gets married and then does not take money and never again asks for it.

Well okay. Kejriwal and his men did hold power. For, some 49 days.

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Deconstructing Kejriwal Part 2


[Please read Part 1 first]

Sociologists have a name for it.

It’s called The Alok Nath syndrome.

In it someone creates an image which ends up being so over-the-top in its absoluteness that it becomes impossible for any human being to live up to it in reality. In Alok Nath’s case, that image as we all know is of the living embodiment of  Bharatiya Sanskriti.   If any minor deviation from the ideal is ever discovered,  like lingering hand a bit too much on the shoulder of a “Jagatjanani” not your “Bhagyawan” or missing an aarti for Aarti or wanting to do a Kanya-grahan more than a Kanya-daan, it will not be excused as merely “being human” like it would be for everyone else, but considered a cardinal sin, only because it runs against the grain of the very standards Alok Nath claims he sets for himself, and by extension, expects of the world.

Arvind Kejriwal suffers from the Alok Nath syndrome. He is obligated to maintain the halo of the stubbornly incorruptible and absolutely selfless and supremely reluctant politician. For that is his USP. Without that, he will lose the devoted and the donors and the voices that sing his hymns. Yet the more he stays in the public spotlight, the more he is seen to fall from his own lofty perch, while still remaining entirely unforgiving of infractions done by others.  The more that happens, the more he gets criticized by those that have not bought into his cult. And the more his bhakts scream “Why do you attack our krantikaari, you paid agents of [insert industrial house here] and Modi”?

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Deconstructing Kejriwal Part 1


When a media organization like Quartz throws all pretense of objectivity to the side, and publishes something like this, you know you are standing at the doorstep of revolution. (We want revolution, Jaipaan revolution…to those of you old enough to remember this) [Link]

Arvind Kejriwal is the Harry Potter of Indian politics. Perched on a magic broom—the election symbol of his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)—he has catapulted himself as a boy wizard fighting against all odds in a shadowy world inhabited by demons and beasts. He has even conjured a supreme malevolent villain on the lines of Voldemort as a fountainhead of the Dark Arts reincarnated as corrupt politics. Donning the Potter mantle, Kejriwal  has publicly denounced Mukesh Ambani, India’s biggest business magnate, who was so far the one Who-Must-Not-Be-Named despite persistent gossip about his growing clout in the corridors of power. Kejriwal’s assertion that the country’s two main political parties, the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are mere puppets of the evil lord (that would be Ambani) seeks to turn the upcoming contest in the national polls this summer into a battle between good and evil.

It’s tempting for us Potterheads to keep playing the game of associating  AAP members with denizens of  the Harry Potter world (Yogendra Yadav=Hagrid, Manish Sisodia’s white moustache=Hedwig, Ashutosh=Dobby). But we must move onto the task at hand. Namely a deconstruction of Kejriwal, whose personal cult is now passing through the phase that Himesh Reshammiya’s went through in 2007.

In order to understand Kejriwal, we must first do two things.

No. I am not talking about giving your email address to Somnath Bharti. That he already has.

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Gulaab Gang—The Review


I have known the director of Gulaab Gang, Soumik Sen, for years now through my blog and have had the good fortune of meeting him at the reading of “The Mine”. When his movie came out, I knew I had to go see it but the problem with seeing anything done by a friend is that it is difficult to be totally unbiased. Also you are kind of afraid of not liking it. What do you do then? Pretend that you didn’t see it. Be brutally honest and say the truth? Since I write books and my friends read them, I am intensely conscious of the same dilemma that I put them in and always wonder how much knowing me affects their perception of the book.

Anyways, I went to see Gulaab Gang, trying to be as fair as possible, determined to tell the truth no matter how it turned out.

My verdict?

I loved Gulaab Gang.

Of course, I will accept my bias here, not for Soumik but for Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla.

I grew up on them. I lived QSQT and Tezaab. I will also accept my bias for old school Bollywood, sans the nauseating wannabeness of what has come to sully its good-name, a  Bollywood of larger-than-life characters and conflicts, script-writers who could craft memorable lines and actors who could deliver them. Dilip Kumar. Raj Kumar. Shotgun. Amitabh. Sunny. Dharam. Prabhuji. Gulaab Gang stays true to the spirit of that masala Bollywood. And in a refreshing departure from current fashion, it is reverential to its roots rather than mocking in the way the Dabangg, Singham  and that Rohit Shetty-Akshay-Kumar-Ajay-whatever-how-he-spells-his-last-name-as-now school of forty-feet-jumping trucks is, where the conventions of classic Bollywood are extravagantly exaggerated and played for comedy and nothing else.

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Deconstructing Modi Part 4


[Previous part: Part 3]

In my last post on this topic, admittedly many eons ago, I had finished with a reference to Congress as Modi’s biggest polling agent.

Much of Modi’s support outside the BJP’s core base, I would suppose all but the most committed of Modi fanboys would accept this, stems from the performance (and lack of it) of the Congress-UPA government. Only those who have been given a Padmabhushan by this government or hope to be given one in the future would defend its inglorious legacy of slush and paralysis and so I would presume there is no need to put the history of the UPA under the scanner here. The UPA has been Rohit Sharma in New Zealand and most of us can agree with that.

The problem with the Congress is so basic, so deep is the cancer bonded with its DNA, that there is nothing much it can do about it in the near future. Which makes the job so much easier for Modi.

The Congress, ever since Sonia Gandhi firmly took over its reins and relegated reformers like Narasimha Rao to the dustbin of history, has become a party with one single obsession. Namely to perpetuate the Gandhi dynasty. Rahul Gandhi poses the greatest challenge to this, as his public pronouncements and singular ability to shirk responsibility, notwithstanding an army of cheerleaders throwing legs and waving their pompoms, has made him an object of more or less universal ridicule. If there has been something worse than the sight of Rahul Gandhi (he admittedly is funny, in an unintentionally subversive way) trying to act statesmanly, it is the naked display of sycophancy that goes on in parallel, almost like a real-life enactment of the fable of the Emperor with No Clothes (remember how the courtiers keep applauding the king’s excellent clothes even though he is stark naked). In the 70s when people were more enthralled by the Gandhis and in general more respectful of royal authority, this kind of tomfoolery might have had some political impact. Now this just makes people roll their eyes. Of course, such is the web of power inside the Congress, and props to Sonia Gandhi for that, that no single Congress leader, no matter how much more suitable he might be than Rahul Gandhi as a leader, will dare to make a play for the party leadership. Unless Sonia Gandhi chooses him as the next cipher.

Which should make Modi  happy.

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