Monday, October 5, 2009

maharastra assembly elections 2009

On October 13,Maharashtra goes to poll for electing a new assembly ; a state which screams for good governance, which it can safely be said, has not seen it for the past 15 years, and that includes the SS-BJP rule from 95-99'.

It was and continues to be the most industrial state in the nation, but its thunder is being stolen by far more proactive and better governed states like Gujarat, Tamilnadu and Uttarakhand .How can a state continue to grow when there is 8 hours of load shedding in its main cities and suburbs like Thane, Pune and Navi Mumbai; and this is not just in the summers, but an everyday phenomena. And the lesser said about the interiors the better.The Vidarbha droughts and the suicide of the farmers have hung around like an albatross neck for the state government and a constant source of embarrassment for a state was more than self sufficient 2 decades back.

Psephologists have time and again tried to gauge the mind of the voters and have been repeatedly flummoxed by the variations and discrepancies in the results predicted and the actual outcome.

Each time new variables, old constants, newer entrants and even older contestants play their part in the dance of democracy, to elect a government which can actually rule.The increasing atomisation of the society and growing insecurities of the diverse public,has given an opportunity for splinter party groups to further fracture the mandate.

This time it is almost as good as a political cauldron , and we just know its constituents with no idea of the outcome of the exercise.145 is the magic number in the 288 seat assembly;is anybody going to get there?Seems highly unlikely.

Each of the four parties in the two alliances is looking listless with only MNS ready to fight with the pugnacious energy of a 3 year old child ,which actually is also the age the party too! It will be a major game changer ,for its a misconception that the MNS will only draw votes from SS-BJP ;it will draw chunks from the Congress –NCP too and its unlikely that Raj Thackeray will have any tacit alliance with the Sena or the BJP.This would mean the elections are not a straight contest between two alliances unlike 2004,but they have a third angle now and results would become more unpredictable.

Further fragmentation is not ruled out either with the warring factions of RPI combining for the elections and neither are the chances of BSP bagging a dozen or more seats in the constituencies dominated by Dalits.

But the elections are 7 days away and that is a long time in the politics.There can be tetonic shifts or none at all. What looks possible at this point in time, may not be probable when the election campaign ends. If it throws up a hung assembly, of which there is a high probability we are sure to see an ugly game of negotiations and horse trading.

People are looking for alternatives and if Congress-NCP after it’s ten year stint is stuggling, it is no surprise as they have further sunk the state in debt and played into the lobby of builders, power brokers, sugar barons way too often.With the failing of monsoon, the anger in the sugar belt is understandable,simmering and about to boil over, not to mention that the brazen 26/11 attacks happened just 10 months ago.

The important thing to notice is that there would be no one single overpowering issue,rather a lot of issues that are localised and restricted to the constituency .Who stands for what and for whom will be sorted out only as the election nears by .

In the offing are a lot of inter and intra personalities clashing, which could turn the elections into a mean dogfight.The Maharashtra Congress is a recognised instituition of sycophancy and Narayan Rane is itching to become CM again.NCP's Chagan Bhujbal has as usual, an agenda of his own. The battle of pride and pique between Uddhav and Raj for Mumbai and its suburbs will intensify.The BJP is left only with Gopinath Munde to guide them through an extremely slippery and ideologically bankrupt times. It would have been a much easier election to manage for the saffron alliance had Pramod Mahajan hadn't passed away.Bal Thackeray would love to end one final election on a winning note and may decide to come out to campaign despite his ill-health.

With every party in disarray and every alternative seeming bleaker, what choice does the voter have?It's looking bleak for Maharashtra and we may well end up seeing President’s rule..oh but isn't the President Maharahstrian too?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Simpsons’ 20th birthday.

The Simpsons’ 20th birthday.
It’s exactly two decades since the first half-hour episode featuring the antics of the animated family was screened. And now Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie are TV’s First Family.

Some Simpsons facts

The Simpsons’ writing team is 16-strong.Each episode takes six months to produce.
Homer’s catchphrase “Doh!” is now listed in the Oxford English Dictionary.
The actors behind the voices are paid around $400,000 (£250,000) an episode.
Ricky Gervais wrote the episode titled Homer Simpson: This Is Your Wife becoming the first celebrity to both write and guest star in the show.
Each episode contains about 24,000 individual drawings.
Simpsons merchandise makes more than £1billion a year.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

monsoon arrived - paus ala

For a long time the clouds in the sky had played touch and go, and now with the rains finally arriving, it has finally brought relief to one and all. Monsoons have always
been romanticised even more so in a country like ours where the collective mood of the nation rises with favourable monsoons. There are indicators that monsoon has arrived and you know that there’s rain in the air when:

that first whiff of ozone that emanates with the first showers,
you take out your capris and shorts for walks on the road,
colourful umbrellas make their way out of the closet and are added to your accessories,
a drizzle is made out to be torrential rain to get the day off...
young tykes are out on the muddy grounds to play football,

air smells sweeter and peacocks frequent your neighbourhood,
your hate going to shower after you have been drenched in the rain,
cycling becomes fun again,
your car gets a free wash,
puddles and potholes become the new speed breakers,

brown earthworms and frogs creep into the living rooms,
vehicles break down and stubbornly refuse to start,
waterproof backpacks are in vogue,
mobiles are packed into little polythene pouches,
lights are on all day in your house,

you start drinking boiled water ,
you see tiny tots in superman, batman,spiderman raincoats,
girlfriends coo its so romantic with the slightest of drizzles,
there’s a 4 hour delay to a one hour flight to Mumbai,
uncles and dads wear gumboots to office,

a long drive to SG highway is in your evening plans,
an impromtu chai at IIM adda with friends,
american corn and dalwadas at law garden make a comeback,
sneezing becomes second nature,
a car splashed puddle at you while walking on the promenades,

when you cant see a movie in drive in because of the rains,
the washing machine dryer is the most important home appliance at home,
mosquitoes buzz incessantly all night to bug you,
you listen to the weatherman prediction even if fleetingly so,
when telecom companies hand out huge umbrellas as freebies with new connections.

Monday, August 24, 2009


If you go in with huge expectations, chances are that you will be disappointed. The dialogues are fresh and courtesy this film new lingo like ‘mango people’ and trends like break up parties will surely seep into the urban our daily conversation. It is just about an above average film and if some of the plot could have been tweaked, as the protagonists said we could have really got a “naya angle”.

So ingrained and overused are the scenes at the airport and railway stations in Hindi cinema that it is difficult for anybody to watch these scenes without a sense of déjà vu and that induces a been there seen that feeling. And forth the nth time, why do we always need a cool avuncular uncle to guide the hero in love?

The idea of flashbacks is not a new one but here it is treated differently wherein lies the novelty factor, but even though just 125 min long, the narration lacks the pace. The start of the movie is slightly non linear but 10 minutes into the film it settles down quite well into its two tracks, but the shifts between the two love stories don’t blend in as well as they could have. And surprisingly neither do some of the songs which pop up gratuitously and if indeed required it would have been suffice to have played them as background tracks.

If love could be understood by giving a stolen cup of tea and in a blink and glance of an eye, I would love to time travel back to the 60’s.It was simpler then and that austerity and innocence is captured well in the film. It’s the modern version that has a problem even though aided by some smart verbal exchanges; there are some inconsistencies in the characterisation of Meera (Deepika Padukone).

She’s opiniated and driven at the start but looks lost and confused towards the end .Even the decision to get married is a hasty one at that .She has acted better than her previous films but where the films lacks spark is the lack of that simmering intensity that lovers seem to have irrespective of the era they fall in love in.Deepika and Saif make a good looking pair but not a crackling one.

On the other hand Saif plays the dual role of Veer Singh/Jai very nicely, but haven’t we seen him play this uber cool trans continental guy way too often? Nonetheless his portrayal of the Sikh is delightful at some places aided by the some very nice writing. Giselle Monteiro as Harleen is demure and looks ethereal.

Imtiaz Ali is undoubtedly talented and watching his films truly makes one believe that the director is the captain of the ship. He has beautifully used metaphors in the screenplay, case in point, when Jai talks to Meera, who is hanging on to a harness ,about maintaining a long distance relationship. He seems to be knowing what he does and is far better than the mindless drones who rely on starcast and hype to sell the movie and call themselves directors.

Love Aaj Kal has new things to offer,the incompatibility of long distances,the comfort level you have with an ex,both the nonchalance and the calculating nature of the youth today and for that it is a one time watch, but this could have been so better than what it turned out to be.

Kaminey movie review

Kaminey is an anti–cliché film, a film that is not bothered whether it is mainstream or art house but a film that is committed to enter unexplored cinematic representations.Kaminey does that with consummate ease.

45 seconds into narration, it reaches a moment of crescendo when the screen is freeze framed whilst a chase sequence and theme song playing .And there are plenty of such moments in the next two hours. Kaminey takes all the conventional storylines and screen tricks used until now and tweaked, and in some places upended it in an enviable manner. The brothers hate each other and there is no coughing mother or foster dad to bring them together. Instead what brings them together is fate; one chasing love, another chasing money.

Yet it couldn’t stay away from one cliché - all the cynical goons have daddy issues.

But credit should be given where it deserves; and in this case richly and deservingly so. With fiery dialogues, great metaphors and apt ,dingy locations to supplement the narrative, innovative lyrics and lens work that capture details which may escape attention the first time ,this film demands attention .The nice thing about Kaminey is that it is respecting the audience’s intelligence by not bothering to run sub -titles when there is frenetic verbal exchange in languages other than Hindi. The film reposes enough faith in its treatment to not to do so.

Till the intermission, the story of lisping and stuttering brothers run parallely ,and then congruently just after that and subsequently leads to conflict and clash of interest over the possession of a contraband loaded guitar. In a world where every soul has himself put a price at which he can sell his soul, deceit and double crossing is rampant ,slowly the brothers Charlie and Guddu realise that all they have is each other. The plot is complex with a lot of hyenas flocking in to get their pound of booty and that includes bookies, policemen, wannabe corporators and foreign drug dealers, all happy to move past the morally grey area towards darker hues.
It all ends in a bloody conflict resolving shoot out, with almost everybody shooting rounds of bullets, amidst chaos and greed.
With songs penned by Gulzar, the film had an outstanding collection of soundtracks that were underutilised especially, the title track, which truly deserved its full running time. The bits and pieces actors played their parts that contributed to the look and feel. Although Shahid Kapoor is sensational and Priyanka Chopra surprisingly ok, it is a Vishal Bhardwaj showcase alone.

It’s a great little milestone in contemporary Indian cinema, but for all the nice things sadly, Kaminey is lesser than the sum of its parts.