The Cliched Cow Joke Redux


[Something I posted on FB]

Congress: You have two cows. They take both, sell one to Italy, put the money in a Swiss bank and name the other Rahul.

BJP: You have two cows. They force you to worship both.

AAP: You have two cows. They steal the cows at night, blame Modi in the morning, and then milk one on even days and the other on odd days.

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A Birthday Story: The Sequel



[On December 30, 2005, when I turned thirty, I had written a post called “A Birthday Story”, an imaginary conversation between a 20 and a 30-year old me. Now, exactly ten years later when I turn forty, is the sequel. A Birthday Story-Part 2]

Late night. A glass of diet coke and rum by my side, because I no longer have normal Coke. Not because it is better for my health, but because it is better for my conscience.Surfing the net when all of a sudden my messenger window pops up. There’s a message:

BirthdayBoy_at_30: Hi. I know this sounds kind of weird. I am you , when you were 30. I just wanted to see if you are online….had some questions to ask you.

BirthdayBoy_at_40: I think we did this before. And nothing much good came from it.

BB30: Whoa. I sure turned out to be a cranky old man.

BB40: I just turned forty. Of course I am a bit….emotional.

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The Hateful Eight–the Review



The “program” handed out at special roadshow engagement that I attended

The word “self indulgent” is often used to describe Tarantino, and whether that “fuck you I will do movies the way I want” is actually Quentin or a carefully-cultivated counter-culture-pandering persona I know not, because I have heard compelling arguments on both sides. I am a big fan of QT myself, because high art or not, his movies are always enormously enjoyable in the most unconventional of ways(I mean who would ever think that a conversation about “Royale with cheese” would be that memorable?) and though he has spawned an army of followers and me-toos (some of them in our Hindi film industry), he has remained pretty much un-inimitable.

I correct that. He is now imitated. By himself. The Hateful Eight, which I was fortunate to watch in 70mm as part of the limited release “roadshow”, is like a greatest hits of Quentin Tarantino recorded on bad-quality tape. You have seen everything in this film before, from Quentin Tarantino himself. Except he has done it better before. The exact same sequences. In order to keep this review spoiler-free, I am deliberately not going into the details, but for any QT fan, you can almost take every significant sequence and theme and narrative “trick” of the Hateful Eight and map it back to a previous QT film, and every time you would feel (at least I did) that it was done way better before. The quirks are all there, and the sudden surprises, and the bursts of action, interspersed with deliberation, but this being the eighth Tarantino(a point he announces in his trademark grandiloquent manner straight at the beginning),  the extreme-shock devices, both dialog and action, have been blunted through over-use. Even the politics, and Hateful Eight often has the subtlety of a propaganda video, is regurgitated from “Django Unchained” and, even there, Django does a better, more entertaining job, of getting the point across.

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Star Wars The Force Awakens—The Review



When you are given the responsibility of re-energizing one of the world’s most famous movie franchises, they aren’t going to be happy with something that just makes millions at the box office. No. They want you to set the foundation of something much bigger, much more long-term. They want you to engineer a perpetual motion cash-cow that can be milked for a series of million and billion grossers, and then even more revenue through sale of T-shirts and toys and video games and official cheese snacks and theme-park-rides.

It’s easy for very smart people, and JJ is one of the smartest people in the industry today, to get this wrong. I might eat my words later and I hope I do but he and his team have taken the Star Trek franchise, particularly after that horrendous second installment, in the wrong direction. In trying to make Star Trek reach out to a global audience that goes beyond nerds who live in their parent’s bedrooms, they have put in a lot of explosions and space-battles, and, for some strange reason, lens flairs. That has ruined the experience for older fans like me, who cannot get over the abandonment of the deep themes that were the hallmark of the original series, the lack of chemistry between the protagonists, and, worst of all, the canon-busting re-imaginings of iconic characters. It is like someone taking a dump on my childhood, watching Spock and Uhura kiss on the bridge of the Enterprise. To the generation of movie-goers not connected with the original lore to the extent we are this might seem quite cool, but the problem for them is that Star Trek is not sufficiently differentiated from the Avengers, Transformers or any of the other similar franchises that pack movie screens during the summer.

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Of Indian Media And Words That End With “Tutes”


Walking Hindu (For Representational Purpose Only), which for some mysterious reason my phone keeps auto-correcting to, recently had an article written by Mr. Rahul Pandita in which he exhorts Modi-supporters to stop calling “us” , and by “us” he means the august members of the media community, presstitutes.

I apologize for any nuance lost in my synopsis, but what he says is roughly this. A number of his friends of the author were once “reasonable” people. However they have recently been transformed into the “Walking Hindu” (a mythical tribe of the undead who bleed saffron and bite into anyone who they believe has not been Modified yet) who have, as a result, taken to calling Mr. Pandita and his band of truth-juice-dispensers as “presstitutes”, and he wants to tell them it is his job, and of warriors like him, to hold up an impartial, PR-free mirror to society, and if what they see is not to their liking, then why spit on the mirror?

There is also a quotation from Camus.

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The “Intolerant” Indian



It’s easy to attack Aamir Khan. Bring up Mela or Love Love Love or his crore-a-pop Satyameva Jayate technicolor tears. But we shouldn’t. That would be petty. Such attacks, we are told, are fine for the Gajendras and the Nihalanis and, by current account, the Khers and the Tandons.

So let’s look at what he has been saying. And so many other countless award-returnees.

Rising intolerance under Modi.

As we have seen, the data does not support the claim. The “intolerance” level has remained the same. But then we are told, that the data does not matter. What matters is perception. Of course the same logic (perception trumps data) could be used to justify the invasion of Iraq (no data about weapons of mass destruction but hey this Saddam is a shifty guy, he could gas his people, so surely we perceive he may have new-killer weapons to use on US), or that the sun moves around the earth (I don’t care what the data says, I look at the damn thing, and I see it move, from east to west) or any kind of prejudice (my perception is that Bengalis are lazy).

Okay. That last one is actually supported by data. But moving on.

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Goodbye Viru



Rebels mellow. They adjust, they compromise. They buy a house, settle down, change diapers, drive below the speed limit, nod along at work to whatever the boss says, and score excruciatingly-painful-to-watch double centuries without driving through off.

Not Virender Sehwag. He started a rebel and signed off as one.

“I also want to thank everyone for all the cricketing advice given to me over the years and apologise for not accepting most of it! I had a reason for not following it; I did it my way.” [Link]

Yes he did. He did it his way. Day in and day out. He played cricket the way a schoolboy played it, pahele ball ko chauka marenge, century ko sixer maarke layenge, and he did this at the highest level, against the best of opposition, over years, on hard foreign pitches and on domestic dustbowls, all without losing a beat. Coaches grabbed him by the collar, experts urged watchfulness, and yet he never listened, he never toned it down. Some may argue that the backup provided by the greatest batting middle-order India has ever seen gave him the license to be Sehwag, but something tells me, that he would have been the same, either way.

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