Darkest Hour at the Oscars


Whether for good or bad, the Oscars have, over the last few years, become super political. What used to be a few jokes, a few reaction shots, a few fashion flaws, and gush talk about movies that people claim to have seen but really haven’t, has now become almost political theater, with issues of representation, racism, colonialism, police brutality, sexism, harassment, front and center in glittering marquee lights. Some may say that by moving away from being an anodyne apolitical platform, the Oscars have somehow recaptured its relevance, its mind space, that the Oscars are water cooler talk again, even by people who have never seen or will see the Shape of Water, a love story of a human and a fish, one you can see for free at any Bengali lunch.

But I digress.

Given how woke the Academy has become, their decision to recognize, with one of its premiere awards, “Darkest Hour”, a hagiography of British war-time Prime Minister and unapologetic South Asian killer Sir Winston Churchill, is beyond reprehensible. Maybe in the 80s and the 90s, when no one cared, I would not have batted an eyelid, but now, now given the widely tomtommed sensitivity on the part of the Academy to the recognition of marginalized narratives, the fact that the Committee chose to reward a movie that airbrushes Churchill’s role in the genocide of 2 million official (some say it is close to 4 million) in India and Bangladesh, just goes to show that not all marginalized are treated equal,  and that Churchill being the savior of Europe still gives his reputation the immunity from having to answer for his crimes in India.

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Pari–The Review

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I really wanted to like Pari. Any Hindi movie of the horror genre that does not have Emran Hashmi’s pout, random Miss Universe/World contest winners fluttering eyelids while strategically covered by satin sheets, a song by Atif Aslam or Arijit Singh and then its remix, the word Bhatt associated with any part of it, a What Lies Beneath rip off, and Jackie Shroff playing evil girl child Samarah from the Ring ( yes that happened) deserves my support. Add to it a reigning A lister venturing into a non phemily genre, a Kolkata setting, a hero named Arnab,  a heroine named Ruksana ( name of the protagonist of the Mahabharata Murders) and  Ritabhari playing the Barrackpore Bombshell and you can understand how desperately I wanted to love it.

And yet Pari just did not work for me. It just did not.

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Yeh Lamhe Yeh Pal Hum


It doesn’t make sense, this feeling of loss.  It really doesn’t. I didn’t know the person, though God knows I tried, leafing through film glossies, and flicking away the strands of hair that found its way into its pages, at the barber shop, waiting for a haircut when it was most crowded.

But perhaps it does. Perhaps it does make sense. The sadness.

Because we do know our celebrities, or rather their projections,  the characters and the books and the matches they played,  because of the way they imprint themselves on our lives, our likes, on the very fabric of who we are and become.

So it is with Sridevi. So it is. Waiting in sweaty lines for “Sridebi-r peekchar”, jostling and shoving, protecting my wallet from the pickpockets and pushing forward. Of her cavorting in that blue sari in Mr India and me being overpowered by the first stirrings of feelings whose truth I would come to realize only later. Of the salt of tears at the end of Sadma. Of her clutching the picture and sensuously writhing into a snake in Nagina. Of me walking into half yearly exams, holding my clipboard and pencil box, strains of “Are you ready? Are you ready” from Nakabandi playing in my head. Of stepping into the teens, with my voice cracking, and pimples erupting, trying to scratch at the surface of the truth of love and loss in Chandni, and then slightly older, and considering myself much more mature and worldly-wise, of repeating that exercise in Lamhe, and coming out of the theater, as clueless but as immensely moved as before.

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Valentine Day Post: The GreatBong 90s Songs Mixtape Side B


[Side A here]

Tu Chahat Hai

If Side A began with Rahul Roy so must Side B. That is the law.

According to legend, the Roy signed 47 films in just 11 days after Aashiqui (link), in the way a frog lays eggs, and so it was only natural that the 90s would be flooded with his tadpoles.

One such Roy classic is Pyaar Ka Saaya. Pronounced by Bengalis as Pyar ka Shaaya (The Love Petticoat), was a rip off from “Ghost”, with Patrick Swayze replaced by Rahul Roy, Whoopie Goldberg by Amrita Singh, and Demi Moore by Sheeba. If Amish has popularized Shiva in the 2010s, Sheeba popularized Niramish (non-vegetarian) in the 1990s.  While I am fine with you judging me for it, I was a fan to the extent that I tolerated Ravi Behl in “Boyfriend” just for her, was possibly the only person in the world who saw “Hum Hai Kamaal Ke”, had the song “Main Naheen Kaheta” from Salman Khan’s Suryavangshi on a mixtape (okay I love the song just for the song) and went to the theater to see “Suraksha”.

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Valentine Day Post: The GreatBong 90s Songs Mixtape Side A


1. Dheere Dheere Se

Aashiqui (1990) is the granddaddy of all 90s musicals. This one set the trend, bringing together a dream team of 90s romanticism, Kumar Sanu, Anuradha Paudwal, Gulshan Kumar, Nadeem-Shravan, and there was so much “luwe” here that one of the team (allegedly) took out a supari on another and then ran away to England, but then isnt that what happens to love anyways, once you start farting in bed together.

But I am getting ahead of myself here.

The Aashiqui album is like the Australian team of the late 90s, every song is a match-winner, but for me, the absolute Adam Gilchrist is “Dheere Dheere Se”. It edges out “Tu Meri Zindagi Hai” perhaps because of Rahul Roy’s speedos, but mostly because of the duality of the song—it is about as much as the chemistry between workout-bros Deepak Tijori and Rahul Roy as it is between the Roy and the Agarwal.

Things of course would never stay this pure. Under the pressure of my future, Anu Agarwal would be replaced in my mind by  Physics problems from an IIT coaching brand with the same last name. The Roy would go on to join Big Boss and later the party under Big Boss. Honey Singh, the Sauron of good music, would do to this song what the Taliban did to the Bamiyan Buddhas, and Shakti Kapoor’s daughter would reboot the Aashiqui franchise.

But for now, just listen, enjoy, and contemplate on what could have been.

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Inside Edge–the Review


If you are one of those who think that the professional T20 Indian league is all about spot-fixing, white lines of cocaine snorted through five hundred rupees, players humping cheerleaders just before they go out to bat, threesomes, egregious sleeping around with the wives of others,  greed with a gazillion zeroes, murder, mayhem and very little cricket, then boy, Amazon India’s much-hyped and greatly-reviewed web-series “Inside Edge” is here to confirm all your biases.


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Justice League—the Review


“Oh mere sanam, oh mere sanam,

Jal gayee duniya, ek huye hum,

Ek naheen, do naheen, suraksha karo mere saato janam

Suraksha, Suraksha, Teri karenge saato janam.

In the Saif-starrer ‘Surakshaa” (not to be confused with the Gunmaster G9 one), the  climax brings together a spectacular team of hitherto antagonistic protagonists and they signal their alliance by singing and dancing.

Justice League, the second greatest Justice film after Jeetendra’s Justice Chowdhury (havent seen the Mithun one), builds off this basic premise, with Sheeba of the muscular Sachin Tendulkar shoulders becoming Batman, Monica Bedi becoming Aquaman (both Aquaman and Monica Bedi have a propensity to stay wet), Aditya Pancholi the dour Cyborg, Kader Khan Flash, and Saif Ali Khan being a dead ringer for Wonder Woman.

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