Ra.One—the Review


The way the state of Bollywood is right now, superstar vehicles, provided they are marketed and distributed right, are assured of making money. The number of people who will sing hosannas even if Shahrukh Khan (or Salman Khan for that matter) stands in front of a blank screen and recycles through all his fixed facial expressions (which is what most of SRK’s recent movies have been) is so insanely large, that his producers (in this case himself) know that anything with his presence in every scene and aggressively marketed by him, is guaranteed to be a mega-hit, if not break records at the box-office.

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Memories of Kali Pujo


We Bengalis don’t really celebrate Diwali.

What we do observe is Kali Pujo.

This is precisely what we were told growing up in Kolkata. Kali Pujo is for Bangalis.

And Diwali is for “Marawaris”

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Bill Da Mamla Hai


It has been an eventful few weeks for the anti-corruption juggernaut in India. One of its mastheads was dealt some fauladi mukkas, another had a shoe thrown at him and yet another found some pesky travel receipts turning up in the wrong place. Now if only half this drama had taken place in Big Boss’s house, life would have been bearable.

It was inevitable that  in an effort to “Kill the Bill” the powers-that-be would come after each of the agent provocateurs with pliers and blowtorch (ala “Pulp Fiction”) and that in their ranks, would be unearthed a plant like Mr. Orange of “Reservoir Dogs” (Swami Agnivesh). The strategy over the past few months, has been simple: dig till something turns up. And since  none of us have lead blemishless lives, one could, given the resources available to the authorities and to the sympathetic sections of the press, always uncover something that would be embarrassing—if not spurious air-travel bills, then definitely songs on your hard-drive that you do not have receipts for.

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Retire? Never.


There are the greats.

There are the legends.

And then there are those sportsmen who transcend labels, those who represent something greater than merely excellence in their respective disciplines.

Jessie Owens. Mohammed Ali.

And Shahid Afridi.

For me, and dare I say for many others, Afridi is not just merely a ball-biting, pitch-scuffing, boom boomer that wears the jersey of our next door bomber.

He is the very anthropomorphism of its foreign policy.

Like when he sticks out his crotch after getting a wicket, Afridi becomes an emphatic visual metaphor for the Pakistani position of  “Yeah so we are going to support the Haqqani Network and other terrorists, so what you going to do about it eh?”
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Of Bodyshops and Bestsellers



So here’s what happened. Narayana Murthy, the big chief at Infosys, complained that the standards of IIT students were going down and held coaching schools  responsible. Nothing particularly earth-shaking about this pronouncement, in every generation, those that have grown old have complained “when we were your age, things were so much better.” Chetan Bhagat, thought-leader and best-selling author and an IIT alum himself, felt sufficiently piqued by this to retort that he who runs body-shopping company should not comment on the standards of others. Such a rap-battle, of course, generated a lot of heat and light in the popular media. Of course then Mr. Bhagat’s new book released to glowing reviews and insane sales and he kind of apologized for his previous statement and all was right with the world again.

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Superheroes in Desi movies? Old Hat


[Original word-limited version was published in DNA Sunday. Sans these pictures]

Can someone tell me what all this hullabaloo is about? Krrish and Enthiran and Ra-One—-a new wave of Indian superhero movies, the so-called next level, reflective of the recently acquired international taste of the Indian audience?

What? Superheroes new  to Indian cinema? I beg to disagree.

All our action heroes, for decades, have been superheroes. Spiderman and the Green Lantern can just stuff it.

Sure our Indian superheroes did not wear Tron-and-Ironman inspired suits (Ra-One) or  Zorro and Shiva (played by Jackie Shroff)-like masks and capes (Krrish). They did not need to, being comfortable in their own skins. They also had enough fashion sense not be caught wearing a underwear over their trousers or over-tight, trapeze-artist-like body-suits.

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The Cult And the Man


The way I see it, Steve Jobs will be remembered for having created the world’s biggest corporate cult, a cult so blinding in its hold that its devotees no longer cared if others were making more technologically advanced products at a lower price. As far as they were concerned, if it was not an Apple, it would never be perfect.

This is not to say that Apple devotees were mindless zombies. Okay maybe they are but you could not blame them, just like you could not blame a moth for flying into the flame. Jobs was that awesome.

Like those who claimed to speak to Gods, Jobs delivered Zennish koans and inspirational commandments . Like cult leaders, Jobs abhorred technological and organizational glasnost, used a fearsome legal team to pursue anyone who was perceived as a threat, even a nineteen year old blogger and was intolerant of criticism to the point of being petulant—he removed all books of John Wiley and Sons from Apple’s retail store because they had published a book about him that he did not approve of.

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