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Friday, December 24, 2010

wish list


The year is almost here. In fact it the new decade. New Year is followed by celebrations, breaks, vacations. No such thing for me, sadly. But with New Year comes New Year resolutions. We all make resolutions that we in turn break by the time Valentine’s Day comes along. So I will honestly try to tick each thing to do. Here’s a list of what I promise myself to do in the next year.

However, I might not be able to. Not because of not trying, but because not everything you try to is achieved. I will try and may probably fail better next year, or who knows actually i might pull off the things on the list.

So, here goes...11 things to do for 11’.
  • get out of debt
  • fly to Old Trafford, Manchester
  • write a book
  • attend a friend’s wedding/engagement
  • get an enamel teeth coating
  • make an old enemy an ally
  • be with a new girlfriend
  • build a decent CV
  • meet or interview Anurag kashyap
  • finish my Spanish lessons
  • learn to drive a left-hand drive car

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Plastic Bag

Plastic Bag is a short film by Iranian-american filmmaker Ramin Bahrani,set in a not so distant future as a part of a series of shorts titled FUTURESTATES.It is a series of 11 fictional mini-features exploring possible future scenarios through the lens of today’s global realities.

Bahrani, is a highly rated young director and I have only seen his critically acclaimed debut film Man Push Cart (2005) set in New York before this.After that he has made 2 more even more praised films Chop Shop and Goodbye Solo.Leave all that aside for later viewing maybe,and watch Plastic Bag as soon as possible.

Plastic Bag is in one word -brilliant.

It starts with the plastic bag’s first breath at the supermarket check-out counter by starting to carry bananas and milk for the lady who the plastic bag refers to as ‘his maker’.And then the bag believes it has a purpose, serving as all purpose utility tool for its user.The bag watches her play and work,carries her belongings, accompanies her everywhere,all the while he is trying to make sense of the world .He has his moment of sensuality with the touch of a human skin,when she uses him as an ice-pack.But soon the shine wears out and he is relegated to the bins and the hence starts his journey in vain to re-unite with his maker.

Ramin Bahrani has given life to something as domestically mundane and as the routine plastic bag. He does so by giving the plastic bag a voice and cognisance. It is demonstrated by the the way it uses air,as if to breathe, crawl, fly, land, navigate, float among other things. That I have refered to the plastic bag as ‘he’ and not ‘it’ should say that Bahrani has infused such life, humaneness and soul to the plastic bag that one would wonder in amazement at the thought process behind it.

Meanwhile, the plastic bag breaks away from the vast landfills and continues his quest to new worlds,where humans have gone but nature has survived .Wandering, he finds a companion.The plastic bag’s brief air ballet romance with the red plastic bag and the embracing smooch is just sublime. The wind though,had other plans and they drift apart,leaving him with his existential worries.After all efforts fail, he proceeds to the 'Pacific vortex' where billions of plastic bags are circling the ocean in a vortex and he tries to find peace and identify itself among peers, but can’t and breaks away from it.

Plastic Bag is a bitter-sweet short film that will make you feel sad after watching it .But you will be happy that you are sad after watching that .That feeling is something unique. A short film that says such profound issues in such an unassuming ways that someone who remains unimpressed and uneffected is indeed plastic. Bahrani has given the plastic bag a personality . In itself,this is not the story of the lifespan of a plastic bag, it is just a span of time in its eternal existence. To animate the inanimate and to such stunning results while making a strong environmental point that it leaves you with a lilting feeling. Set in a post apocalyptic world, cinematically the plastic bag doesn’t stick out as a sore thumb and is actually very organic in nature,alike its chemical organic polymer composition.

The voice by Werner Herzog has the right pinch of melancholy and dry humour to it.Running for 18 minutes, Plastic Bag manages to be funny, thought-provoking, emotive and beautiful.There are legitimate questions by a very intelligent plastic bag. How does he feel to be part of the environmental crisis ? He just wonders why his maker chose to give it such a gift of indestructibility? How long is an eternity..and how does one cope with such a curse ? Why did man, an active observer create this thing that will only be an eternal passive observer of time?

Directed by Ramin Bahrani

Story by Jenny Jenkins, Ramin Bahrani

Voice Werner Herzog

Cinematography Michael Simmonds

Music Kjartan Sveinsson

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mareika

Today I met Mareika for the second time. Mareika is a strange name for a young person like her. Strange because it means bitter but she is the sweetest person you could meet. She has German roots and has been here for 7 years now. She is a mother of a toddler who can’t get enough of her.

I met her for the first time near the Central church close to the French embassy. She is a choir member in the church and plays the piano with great skill. Second time over, today at the supermarket where she was buying groceries for the weekend. Actually she was surprised to know that I remembered her name even after we first met a month an half ago. But then so did she.

Most people will take you at face value until they have reason to do otherwise. The best way is to talk and learn more. In just two conversations I learnt a lot about her. I had initiated the conversation by paying her due compliments for playing the piano so well.

She is married to her boyfriend of four years and as we talked I came to know that he was a song writer and wrote songs for her .’Hmmm so you are someone’s muse’ I said. Mareika answered ,‘yeah you can say that’

‘You know..you write for a girl, write because of a girl, write with a girl, right or wrong, the girl is important.’

And she nodded. I must have made sense.

‘So is it wrong for the girl to be important?’No, I said.

‘So it’s okay to be right, right?’ No, not always.

‘And when is that?’I don’t know Mareika.

‘Neither do I, nor do many.’hmmm...

By then, the toddler started demanding attention and we were through with our shopping list. We said our goodbyes and she invited me to her next choir play, next Saturday. I am looking forward to that .

Then she went home with her groceries and her son..I ate a shawarma, came back and wrote this post.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Generativity

Generativity *

Guest post

by vipul sirohi.

It has been a generous proposal from Rehaan to ask me to guest post on his blog. Being dormant at blogging scene, this might just be an initial thrust I needed.

Now the big question was - What should I pen down about? I think my debut post should reflect what possesses my mind the most at this juncture.It has to be my conflict between being called a cheerful youth and a slowed down adult.

Being out of college and thrown on to the real word, does leave me with a few seemingly harmless and invisible heavy baggages. Baggages of a transition of being called a responsibility of someone to being responsible of someone.

Oh! So badly I miss the cheers of a few backing us up for the decisive points in the last quarter of the game of ball. Miss the charm of entering the canteen when we know that there is someone for whom you have come there bunking the session, also knowing that may be someone is out there doing the same for you. Miss the speeches in the huddle of the playing XI just before entering the field and taking on the opposition. Miss being fit enough to run as fast as I can at anytime of the day and to fit into a pair of 32” Levis.

I might sound full of myself for people who had known me from college days, as neither was I great at the ball, nor was a game with girls, nor the motivational leader in cricket, not even the fittest. But that was the beauty of being in college.

You need not be the best, you need not be trying hard, you need not be the charmer, but still you live beautifully in your ecosystem, well accepted, well promoted and well placed. Wish the world of adults would go by these simple rules or rather parameters.Being a 26 year wiser guy has its own complications.

  • You cannot date a girl younger, elder or of same age. Younger – You might be turned down as a looser. Elder – Chances of being caught with a cougar, or being shot by her aghast husband. Same age - Chances are she would have already finalised the name of the pup in the married house or would have got furious of such behaviour from you.

  • · You cannot ask any financial or emotional help from your parents.

They might just get hysterical of not being able to raise a child who could manage his own life. Chances are your dad might just be enjoying his time of being a little adventurous in his hard earner life-long savings assured that the offspring will bring spring back in their lives.

  • · You cannot just take life as it comes, one practise which you mastered being a college kid.

So what’s the fun being wiser, being given a license to enter the pubs, being accepted to ask for a pack of condoms at store, being considered mature enough of handle situations?

The answer might just lie in a thought which always used to ponder me as a youngster and now I find myself somewhere trapped in between that.

I used to dread it - The vicious circle of life.

You come to life – go to school – trouble your parents – make friends – go to college – meet interesting girls – develop a character – choose a career – struggle in the career – marry a girl – get a (over)dose of sex – get a child – pamper the child – forget about your personal life – cheat on your wife – get bashed by your children – develop a disease – live miserably with your decaying wife – die – get transformed from ration card to obituary.

When you are at one of these stages, you always hate being there and fancy the good life at the next one. I used to always think that I’ll not be trapped in this loop. That I might just manage to break free. But as the brain cells get more furnished, it seems impossible to let loose. Unleash. Jumping on to the next step seems the best possible option.

At times you think an answer can lie in enjoying the means and not worrying about the ends. Don’t we all know this? But still why is it so important for everyone not to focus on these accomplishing means but to look forward and to plan about the next destination of life.

I guess life just keeps on getting more complex and we may frown but still flow with it. Sorry that neither could I find any solace of my complexities, nor could offer the same to anyone.

Cheers to this complexity !


*Generativity in essence describes a self-contained system from which its user draws an independent ability to create, generate, or produce new content unique to that system without additional help or input from the system's original creators.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nokia xpress music top 10

My playlist top 10..

Above is the list of my top 10 most played songs on Nokia xpress music for the past 2 months. A little more details are followed. I am excluding GreenDay’s , 21 guns because it has been firmly perched at the top for close to a year now. So for the past couple of months here’s what it looks like, and i must mention, in no particular order.

  1. Airstream driver, Gomez

Gomez are an English indie rock band,album A new tide 2009

  1. Hosanna, ar rahman

One of the better songs from Rahman this year, film Vinnaithaandi Vaaruvaaya 2010

  1. Your love is a song, Switchfoot

American alternative rock band Switchfoot’s album hello hurricane 2009

  1. Raat kali, instant karma

Farhad–ehsaan–loy and zubeen garg’s vocals The Midnight Lady Mix 2006

  1. Ek hulchul si ,dev.d

New age Indian indie romantic track by amit trivedi 2009

  1. Fernando, abba

Old classic, it is Swedish pop group abba's 1st non-album single, 1976

  1. Kaminey, title track

Indian song with western instrument composition and outstanding lyrics 2009

  1. I need a dollar, aloe blacc

Title track of How to make it in America, album is Good Things, 2010

  1. Santo domingo, rodrigo y gabriela

Mexican musical duo who specialize in playing fast, rhythmic acoustic guitars,album 11:11

  1. Whistle podu, csk theme

Downloaded from youtube and converted to mp3

  • Bubbling under song : Speak Now, Taylor Swift from the album Speak now,2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Conan @ tbs

I was waiting for atleast 10 episodes of Conan O’ Brien’s new late night variety talk show ‘Conan’ on cable network TBS to air before writing about it. It’s been 3 weeks and I think the time is right. Fans have been waiting for Conan to air and TBS too has done its promotional part by having the Conan Blimp hover around all over the New York Yankee Stadium and the rest of the United States as a follow up to the Nov 8 premiere.

Was it all worth the wait and hype? Letterman joked on his show that the moment the clocks gained one hour in US, from first Sunday in November for daylight saving, they slipped in another late night talk show – Conan.

Hah ! funny ain’t it? That old man remains witty.

As for Conan the show. Conan O’ Brien has more or less delivered according to expectations. He is an easy fellow with his self deprecating brand of humour and wayward funniness. It was best that he could get out of NBC late night fiasco earlier this year and so let’s look at the positive side.

He still averages a one minute entry applause, which is testament to his popularity. That new set (above) with the Oceanscape - of Rio de Janeiro is the best talk show background and a welcome change from all the night lit skyscrapers. There’s a lot going for him.

He can make fun of TBS and TBS won’t mind that , the jokes can be below belt and that’s why he has that crucial 19-45 demographic in pocket, but serious competition from another very funny man in Jon Stewart, his American express ad rocked, the intro animation is slick, and so is the 3-D and mobile remote controlled moon. But importantly Conan O’ Brien is an easy guy to adore and has the gift of making his guests comfortable .The guests are on a free license to say or talk anything. However in due time, he must stop making NBC jokes. He made millions out of the shove that NBC and Jay Leno gave him and we got a new verb- Leno’d .

So get on with it. You are better off at TBS. And the best part is that the show is self titled- so Conan is harder to replace ;)

Anyway, anyone who writes for The Simpsons and the skits on Saturday Night Live is bound to be wacky with his sense of humour. Conan is back ,not to his best but still ..what’s the hurry?

Negatives- hmmm, they have lost drummer Max Weinberg, but the Basic Cable Band will do just fine. Conan still doesn’t have a staple thing like a top ten list like David Letterman, the segments are just building up and will take some time to get settled. Overall after a dozen episodes into the new show, I would say it’s my first choice for late night variety talk shows. And as the TBS tagline goes – very funny !

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Danny MacAskill - Way Back Home Edinburgh to Skye

The short film- Way Back Home tracks a journey street trials artist Danny MacAskill from Edinburgh to Skye with beautiful locales of Scotland as he travels to his hometown of Dunvegan in the Isle of Skye.

It has him performing stunts in Scottish villages,bakery streets,phone booths,wartime bunkers,Edinburgh castle,old arc bridges and hydoelectric power stations.At 1:46 mark in the video,he continues cycling where its clearly written ‘cyclists dismount’- confident and defiant.

Each move succesively better than the previous one .It falls into Nadia Comăneci’s perfect 10 category in grace and control,but the video is edited product ,however I doubt if Danny MacAskill ever missed a trick ..incredible,almost orgasmic control .

By his own admisssion, MacAskill has said that he didn’t believe that he could make a living out of his cycling stunts.His earlier video brought him recognition and help him get an ad of Volkswagen .This is the follow up video and has an incredible viral quality .Such is it beauty that you will surely watch it multuiple times.I have watched 4 times already.At this point ,since 8 days of its release on the net,it has got 2.25 million hits.

But then I shoudn’t be surprised he has skill in his name ;)

Produced by RedBull,and shot by his flatmate and friend Dave Sowerby, it has used two songs,Wax and Wire by Loch Lomond and A Little Piece by The Jezebels.The video,the location,the stunts,the music,it all just ...works.Its too good for words to form a summation .Watch it and you will know why !!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Un Prophète

Un Prophète is a cold, stark and hard crime drama. But there is a remarkable restrain in the screenplay, never once going over the top and thus making it a compelling character drama. It is not about guns, drugs or car chases; Un Prophète is about characters-most importantly about a teenage illiterate French-Arab-Corsican in France.

The story about the rise of a greenhorn to become a crime head against a racial backdrop of Parisian prison is told as Un Prophète examines a fraying social fabric.

During his entry into the prison and initial check up he is asked whether he eats pork .He says no and then yes. An ideal Muslim according to Holy Quran must not consume pork; but Malik does. It reflects a childhood in remand houses and that of minimal adult supervision .But that his origins are ambiguous and beliefs are lucid, does work to his advantage.No sooner is he into prison that he is compelled to murder Reyeb, an Arab who is to testify against the one of the under trial Corsicans, who also control the prison. To live he has to kill. Malik is directly thrown into deep choppy waters. Pushed to the extremes, he innovates in what results in two scenes of great intensity.


The first one is him carrying out his first ever murder –with a blade, which is very unlike a murder you will ever see. Sure you can kill with a blade, but it’s how the blade is hidden and used that is important. Malik watches part horrified as Reyeb dies, blood squirting from his slit neck like a pipe; and part relieved that he has saved himself by taking another man’s life. That Malik is not a killer is demonstrated as he shudders at the bloody outcome of his actions.After he carries out the murder, Malik is under the protection of the Corsican mafia led by César Luciani, but is still derided for his roots. But for Luciani, he’s the prison errand boy and loose clay to mould as he thinks necessary. And later as Malik gains his trust – his eyes and ears. Every group is closed, be it Arabs or Corsicans. But Malik is special now as he has access to the Luciani despite being an Arab. Learning as he goes, keen as a mustard, but never showing anybody so.

And the second scene is that claustrophobic shootout to eliminate an entire gang. Again Malik improvises. By now, he has been through so much that he just takes the risk that needs to be taken to get out of the situation .During that scene in the car, Malik reaches momentary zen .It was as though he was having an invisible cloak that would protect him from all the bullets flying around.

Malik has little or no education when he comes in but learns to read and write on the insistence of his friend Ryad. Ryad’s family later becomes his foster family. He acquires varied skill sets and when gets a chance to be out on parole courtesy Luciani, to carry his outside jobs, he very enterprisingly sets up his own drug network with Ryad’s help.Malik is a guy who seemed to have been in a ghetto most of his life and with no vocational training to speak of. Yet he manages to fly, feel the beach water of Marseilles on his feet, that too on parole! He indeed had come a long way. Although, there is crushing guilt that comes with that as an apparition of Reyeb follows him during his stay in the penitentiary. But he makes peace with that too. Reyeb’s apparition is to Malik, what angel Gabriel was to Prophet Mohammed.

This is a male film at large, with peripheral screen time for women. The only ones present being Ryad’s wife Djamila and the sex worker who comes to Malik for a conjugal visit. Prison has little space for women, so women are found mostly on walls as cut-outs from x-rated magazines which is understood as there is a more testosterone/per square feet than most places in the world. Everyone in prison has to cope with debilitating loneliness. Malik will be alone even when he gets out because Ryad is dying. And for Luciani; since other Corsicans have been shifted to another prison, because of law changes made by Sarkozy government, his control is waning with less number of people around him.

Malik is pro-active and tries to manage what he can as he has outside world access from his parole. But since the Luciani can’t buy allegiance or relatives, he is deemed to do time alone, as a fallen and aging gangster.

Main relationship is between Malik and César Luciani ,which starts off as threatened and threat, master and servant, commander and complier, but lastly the vanquished and the winner, respectively. Because a protégé will allow only so much of himself to be exploited. And one day an incident will be the flashpoint that triggers a revolt and possibly revenge. Malik comes out on top after he plays the rival gangs against each other and we see Luciani, alone and resigned to defeat.

Even after all is done, in the closing scene as he gets out after his 6 years, although he walks home to Ryad’s home with his wife and toddler son, there is no guarantee that Malik will see his 30th birthday. Film has progress but cynicism is not far away too. Despite the title, it represents the resentment in France today whatever the reason may be –political, social, racial, and economical or a lot of everything.

The colour palette seen is pre-dominantly dirty pale blue or cement grey. That helps to show the cold, monotonous and cruel place the prison is. Stylistic elements include use of freeze frames overwritten with bold text to introduce main characters or some events for narration. Music is a stew of surprises with a lot of piano and guitars, but also cries of a muezzin and hip-hop and melody.

Today’s French demographic is potentially racially volatile. The society is boiling underneath with simmering intensity due to its ethnic difference and xenophobia which burst onto its streets in fall of 2005.That the social tension is present is evident in Un Prophète where the Arabs (Muslims) mostly of North African descent bide their time in ghettoised prison cells in the Paris outskirts of Brecourt. The group inside the prison is the microcosm of the society outside. There is struggle for one upmanship and strifes for control over assets.

There is no central defining conflict nor a hidden agenda for any of the characters. Malik’s double-cross that shifts the balance of power between Corsicans and Muslims is a gradual progression than a hell bent sinister plan. Despite being ravaged, he retains that kindness in his soul that should usually dissipates in the event of continued hostility.

Because of its rich layered storyline, Un Prophète is a brilliant example of cinema. The genre is prison/crime drama, but is approached with elements of allegorical references to Islam, Holy Bible, The Prophet and the angel Gabriel. That it is poetic is an understatement and that it is set in a cynic dark world is scripted genius.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New F1 Champion

With his fifth victory from the 10 poles this season Sebastian Vettel became the youngest to win the Formula One Championship. He won in Malaysia, Valencia, Japan, Brazil and today in Abu Dhabi.An astonishing end to one of the most dramatic seasons in the sport's 60 years as the leaderboard changed with even a single twitch or turn .We have had 5 different championship leaders this season and four of them could have won the championship today at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. We had the steady defending champion in Jenson Button,pugnacious Lewis Hamilton,an inspired Fernando Alonso ,bullish Mark Webber and prodigious Vettel fighting it all year across 19 races.

Sebastian Vettel led the championship for the first time this season, and for the only time that mattered - after the last race.Vettel was clearly in tears on his slow-down lap as he attempted to speak over the in-car radio, with team principal Christian Horner proclaiming: "Sebastian Vettel you are the world champion!"


Its heartbreaking for his teamate Aussie Mark Webber for being so near,yet so far .Ferrari and Alonso will be frustrated after their superb late season charge failed to materialise in claiming either championship.It has been a very close season with Vettel winning by just 4 points from Alonso.Lastly about the ciruit itself..what do you call a race that starts at twilight and ends in bright lights? Twinight race or dusklight race? Whatever,that Yas Island is something special.

The next season starts in 120 days in the desert of Bahrain,with 5 previous world champions on grid.Sounds deliciously promising.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Banksy

I watched British graffiti artist -Banksy’ much praised debut film- ‘Exit through the Gift Shop’ some while back.What I took from it was of course a look at the current graffiti movement . But I learnt something more. And that is -Your talent alone doesn’t count for much.How to exploit that is as important if not more.

See,if your book isn’t published, you are no writer.Your art will remain abstract and dusted not abstract and expensive until it reaches art galleries.Talent is like technology-its no use just having it,it is how and what you can do with it that matters.Take banksy as case study..

He has found a way to make a living out of graffiti which is seen as dirty and in some cultures an anathema and an ill function of the western world .Graffiti is perceived as an art form with no direction or purpose except for vandalism.Yet,Banksy is revolutionary with his new techniques with stencils, huge photocopiers to create them and advanced editing softwares to make instant elaborate graffitti.He has created a unique identity by his satire and chilling black humourin his artworks and accompanying epigrams.

Some of my favourites are –

· We can’t do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves.

  • T.V. has made going to the theatre seem pointless, photography has pretty much killed painting but graffiti has remained gloriously unspoilt by progress.
  • Think from outside the box, collapse the box and take a fucking knife to it.

And gradually expressing and speaking out in a manner like his ,with tools as rebellious as canned aerosol paint ,he has gained massive support and admirers.His work has cropped up all over the world in Bristol,London,Los Angeles,San Francisco,Toronto.In August 2004, Banksy produced a quantity of spoof British £10 notes substituting the picture of the Queen's head with Diana, Princess of Wales's head and changing the text "Bank of England" to "Banksy of England." Someone threw a large wad of these into a crowd

Those notes fetch a fortune now on ebay and selected art auctioning sites

As a caped anonymous crusader ,his auctions have raked in millions.Earlier this year he directed ‘Exit through the Gift Shop’ which premiered to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival.Nobody for 1 second believes that graffiti artists don’t dcoument their work on camcorders and film tapes.But the genious of Banksy lies in fictionalising and scripting this underground graffiti movement ;documentary style in an entertaining package.Proof of it being that ‘Exit through the Gift Shop’ is loved by critics and fans alike and people rushing to see his film in a faint hope that it may give glimses of details of the person/personality himself.

Exit through the Gift Shop shows a lot of ‘how a graffiiti is actually done’ and what goes behind making it in his trade mark stencillling technique but remains cryptic.Banksy himself says of his technique.Banksy says

‘I use whatever it takes. Sometimes that just means drawing a moustache on a girl's face on some billboard, sometimes that means sweating for days over an intricate drawing. Efficiency is the key.’

He has cleverly used a psuedo documentary maker as a narrative device and the film has grossed way way more than its budget.So that is how you monetise talent.Encash the intangible.Make your work speak and make it earn too.Banksy has truly monetised his talent in inventive ways.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bordeaux wine ads


Good food would choose good wine..
Clever use of visuals
Advertising agency - Isobel , London







Creative Directors - Rob Fletcher, David Alexander
Art Director - Rob Fletcher
Copywriter - David Alexander
Illustrator - Rob Fletcher