Thursday, June 30, 2011

Simple pleasure triggers

They say the best things in life are free .Well not everything's free but i did rather say almost free , rather not that expensive . Life is filled with simple pleasures. The small things that can bring in a great deal of pleasure , calm, peace , tranquility and happiness. Some of these moments sometime come daily and we fail to acknowledge and appreciate it , while some other instances come just once,because there's a first time only once. Others times they pop up when least expected.

  1. Cold shower on a summer day
  2. Finding money you didn’t know you had
  3. Receiving a real letter or package via snail mail
  4. Making the yellow traffic light
  5. Telling a funny or interesting, true Story
  6. Your favourite pet’s company
  7. Seeing a friend stumble over
  8. Walk on the beach
  9. Sleeping in on a rainy day
  10. A familiar smell cologne /perfume/ freshly cut grass
  1. Realizing you have more time to sleep
  2. Watching your favourite cult movie
  3. Tricking your siblings or cousins
  4. Saying a tongue twister when others can’t
  5. A 4-egg omlette
  6. Putting on clothes straight from the laundry
  7. Hearing the right song at the right moment
  8. The first sip of a beverage when you’re thirsty
  9. Saying the same thing simultaneously
  10. When someone calls you their friend for the first time
  1. Reminiscing about old times with your closest friends
  2. Receiving an unexpected compliment
  3. Being part of a secret-club
  4. Catching a glimpse of bare skin on the opposite sex
  5. Having a good laugh
  6. Flirtatious eye contact
  7. The feeling after a healthy workout
  8. Any eureka moment.
  9. A sincere hug
  10. Free ticket to anything
  1. Holding hands with someone you love
  2. Playing / skipping stones in water
  3. Making someone smile
  4. A perfect hair cut
  5. When you get to dutch when you know you had the priceier dish
  6. Listening to lies when you know the truth
  7. Your first flight and the feeling of weightlessness
  8. A standing ovation
  9. You get a B+ when you expected a C
  10. When know you can make your ex-jealous

  1. A foot massage
  2. Playing with a nephew or niece
  3. Riding a bicycle without hands down a slope
  4. Catching snowflakes
  5. Outdoor camping
  6. Winning a simple/crucial bet
  7. Playing ‘I never’ one-on-one
  8. Fitting into your slimmest jeans
  9. Popping bubble-wraps
  10. People watching
  11. Perfectly karoke-ing a song

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chutiyam Sulphate

India quite consistently behaves bewilderingly. It’s one of its key attributes. India, like it or not, is a prudish nation. For all the ‘freedom to be free’ advertising jingles and its ‘Incredible !ndia’ campaigns, it annoyingly shows its hypocrisy when it comes to creative expression.

The culprits can vary from right-wing fundamentalists to the Censor board to the left wing mavericks to the pseudo-intellects harping on the TV studios in a zero-sum debate .People raise a hue and cry and cloak their objection with the argument that it doesn’t fit the ‘Indian culture’. Just for instance is the song DK Bose from the upcoming adult comedy Delhi Belly.

There have been some songs recently that have taken that lyrical liberty and cut around the bush to include swear words like the title track of Vishal Bhardwaj’s Kaminey , FO FO wordings in ‘I can’t hold it’ soundtrack from Love ,sex aur Dhokha and radically now comes DK Bose. In each of the 3 cases above,there is a certain stylistic flourish . Infact, the suggestive thrusts and all the heaving, thrusting and heavy petting in item-songs is much more vulgar. And while the general degradation in quality of lyrics is lamentable, India have long been prudish in letting expletives in a film or a song .

What the heck is wrong if you curse once in a while. Nothing ,we all curse. Some openly, others under their breath .You talk to some grannies and they often swear with that rustic charm, but that cuss has no malice, it rolls off the tongue effortlessly. It’s the cuss that is peppered in a daily conversation that makes the language colourful and exciting. If everybody took a cuss seriously , then a nation would never stop fighting . Just like there’s time, places and situations for using parliamentary language, there should be scope for the expression and depiction of the local lingo in arts and entertainment .
Mouthing expletives lewdly is and can be offensive to any or many. Singing DK Bose on the streets loudly is a lame attempt to look cool and many kids might be doing so too. But that doesn’t mean that cuss words aren’t used in daily communication. Some examples used in films that i can cite from back of my mind are the opening scene of Black Friday and Omkara, the granny in Peepli [Live] and chutiyam sulphate dialogue from Ishqiya. And you are kidding yourself if you say you haven’t heard of the bhenchod sutta song even once during the college days.
Martin Scorsese’s The Departed had the f word mouthed more than 200 times. Nobody bleeped that out. Lots of Indians listen and sing the rap of Eminem which is as offensive as it can get .

Why should then the language be sanitized ? Why to let go the realistic touch and rawness of language in a creative field? Indians have been quite creative to have made Hinglish a working language. India has to let go of its compulsive desire to censor everything that it doesn’t find to its liking. This means that most adult content - not just sex, but anything 'considered unwholesome' is expunged.
So where’s the freedom now?
Is India open enough to allow that kind of culture?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Super 8

I feel that Super 8 should have aimed to be an exciting sleeper hit rather than trying too hard to be a summer blockbuster .That is just aiming at the moon when you know the fuel will only last until you reach the clouds.I am not talking down the film.I found it quite enjoyable and have typed in 8 things about Super 8.

The Kids Rare is the film that captures that weird and endearing combination of innocence, jerkiness, raunchy immaturity, camaraderie, and so forth, which come with a pack of pre-teen boys. The kids and their banter, the way they cut each other while the other is talking makes it pleasing and natural to watch. Elle Fanning as Alice, Joel Courtney as Joe and Ryan Lee as Cary the pyromaniac kid with braces give worthy performances.Oh and back then ‘mint’ was the buzz word!

Genre Coming of age kids movie,thriller,mystery,sci–fi, it is a mix of many.

Tributes JJ Abrams has paid homage to his favourite movies while growing up.E.T, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and a few others. There is also the use of found footage from the kids' Super 8 camera which they are using to shoot their own zombie film .One would gingerly feel that this may well be an old Spielberg movie that was never released as the prints were lost.

Nostalgia Element Set in Ohio,USA, Super 8 resembles films of 1979 more so than actually 1979,which brings the nostalgia. Joel Courtney has the same innocence on his smitten face as Drew Barrymore had in E.T. It a personal film for JJ Abrams as he himself grew up making short films on Super 8 cameras and one of the two reasons it is set in 1979. One being the Area 51 connection and second that that was the time Steven Spielberg started making these kind of films.

Mystery It's a film that is a masterclass in the art of tease. Giving snippets of information and make the audiences wait for the ‘creature’. Lost dogs, lost people, disappearing microwaves and snapped electricity lines only heighten the tension. As Alfred Hitchcock said of the idea used in creating tensionA bomb is under the table and it explodes. That is surprise. The bomb is under the table but it does not explode. That is suspense.” There’s a Lost like ‘orientation video’ where the creature and the cubes are hinted about. So, only the repercussions of the actions are shown;the creature doesn’t show up until the very end.It is infact a clever plot device in a kid-drama set in a summer in USA.

Action Scenes The spectacularly filmed train scene which generated the viral interest is imaginative and is integral to the overall story arc and not just a gimmick.The whole army curfew and town evacuation are well picturised but the bombings and war-fire towards the end seems a bit too much.Watch the extended 6 minute teaser scene here.

The Big Reveal The caveat with huge curiosity build-ups is that the revelations are rarely as satisfying as the anticipation.Don’t hold your breath too much , it’s underwhelming. Rather than saying that there are plot deficiencies, I would say Abrams has chosen not to answer all the mysteries. E.T does something to phone home while, in Super 8, it is just done in the last frames as the people of Ohio watch in amazement at the sky.

Originality While we have heard of cover bands, there are people calling Super 8 a cover movie, and that it is at times too reverential to the films that inspired it. But, despite giving nods and tributes and taking plot points from the classics, it seems fresh and in a summer of sequels and superhero films, Super 8 is an original, live-action non-sequel.

Super-8 is a good film ; sadly it doesn't soar as the films that it seeks to charmingly emulate.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


As the Indian music industry was battling monotony and mediocrity in the early nineties, a new genre of music took the industry by storm and ruled for the decade that followed. Infusing western elements into the conventional style of music, this genre ushered a change in the way India perceived music. Backed by peppy permutated paradiddles, sampled beats and groovy bass lines, Indipop came into being.

As the name suggests, it was an amalgamation of Indian style of music and pop music of the west. The initial foray into the music industry for Indipop artists was challenging as Hindi film music ruled the roost and there was no room for a new genre to fit in. Also, acceptability among the masses was a matter of concern. Not to mention, record labels were reluctant to take the gamble of signing newbies and preferred to play safe.

But, a modest start led to a revolution and Indipop numbers became chartbusters overnight. Because of its newness perhaps, it was an all accommodating and versatile genre. From Usha Uthup to Alisha Chinai , Neeraj Shridhar to Shankar Mahadevan, Lucky Ali to Sonu Nigam, the range of artists it incorporated was wide .And in quick succession, talented artists like Shaan, Sagarika, Ila Arun , Mohit Chauhan, Palash Sen, Bally Sagoo,Shubha Mudgal etc, started getting noticed as music labels gave them breaks. This was a welcome change as it was for the first time that independent artists and especially bands like Silk Route and Euphoria came into the scene. A genuine blessing for Indipop artists was the advent of satellite television, which helped them get noticed among the masses by making appealing music videos with a Western touch. Western influence was specifically predominant in Alisha Chinai’s work, she being touted as ‘The Indian Madonna’. Production value wise, the Made in India video featuring Milind Soman and Alisha Chinai, may now seem to have become dated, but it was insanely popular in 1995/6.

Creativity was a forte of Indipop. It be the north eastern influence in the melodies of Leslie Lewis of Colonial Cousins and Zubeen Garg, the Punjabi touch in the music of Gurdas Mann, Daler Mehndi and Mika, the breathless song by Shankar Mahadevan, the MCing and Rap in Baba Sehgal’s songs, Indipop movement gave a lot of freedom to artists. Adding versatility to this genre were female artists like Anaida, Raageshwari, Sagarika to name a few, also ventured into this promising segment.Eventually, artists started reviving golden oldies by remixing them. Albums like Instant Karma and Dance Masti became runaway hits, which marked the start of the ‘remix era’ in the Indian music industry, in which the music video played its part to the fullest.

The remix from the initial movement were still reverential of the classics but then caught in the ape mentality, the remixes became egregious and insulting to the original compositions. That is a heavy cross that the Indipop has to bear.A curse that Asha Bhosle is a vociferous critic of.She herself, for her credit still outsold many Indipop albums when she released her own remix songs viz. Rahul &I.

Indipop had provided a platform for talented artists and in the initial years of the new millennium, Indipop artists started tending towards the lucrative Hindi film music industry. Shaan , KK, Zubeen Garg, Lucky Ali have now sung chartbusters after another. But lately, the Indipop industry has lost its charm, partly due lack of substance and partly due to the loss of its most prominent voices to the film music industry.And just as the singers have moved on , so have composers like ehsaan -loy- farhad. Though Indipop has waned in its presence and remarkably in its quality, it has contributed immensely to the Indian Music Industry. And that is evident from the fact that we still listen to those peppy tracks on radio stations and reminisce.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


I have to confess that I had watched very limited footage of Ayrton Senna before this; but this documentary film by Asif Kapadia puts the whole Ayrton Senna story into place for me. Senna' has won the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.Now, it is a bit difficult to write about a man you have never seen racing live, for there is something that live television and the whole context of the moment brings that any taped footage can not bring.I am one of the unlucky ones never to have had a chance to see Senna race.

Ayrton Senna had streaked through Formula One like a comet, an other-worldly superstar whose brilliance as a driver was matched by a dazzling intellect and coruscating charisma that illuminated Formula One racing as never before. And though granted that the Ayrton Senna –Alain Prost rivalry was great for the sport, Senna was much beyond that .He was a national icon in Brazil and gave away millions for the development of the under-privileged, he vociferously appealed for the drivers' safety and fought the politics in F1 and when he spoke in his mystical voice, people listened captivated .Each time he took the track, his mystique grew, fuelled by his genius and paradoxed by his ruthlessness.Beyond his driving genius, Senna was one of the sport’s most compelling personalities.

And although statistics would suggest that Juan Manuel Fangio ,Michael Schumacher and even Alain Prost have better records and statistics, Ayrton Senna is the greatest driver ever to have sat in a F1 car, irrespective of any driver you ask - past, present or aspiring. Senna had that sixth sense of where the grip on the circuit was before he turned into a corner. He would brake later and get the foot on the accelerator faster than anyone else and make even a moderate car perform miles ahead of its expected and designed potential. He would drive the wheels of the car be it his first team Toleman, the following 3 years in a Lotus, the McLaren in which he won his 3 World Championships or the ill-fated Williams in his last season. Great drivers can be spectacular on a number of occasions, but Senna was spectacular every single time he got into a car and that is what makes the legend of Senna.

Senna announced his arrival in conditions that is considered the most treacherous to drive- in torrential rain. In his debut season in Monaco, he finished second in a very inferior Toleman car and made people sit up and notice.Thereafter, we see his meteoric rise starting with his first Grand Prix victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix in 1985, again in the rain, again in his distinctive style. Senna’s charisma and magnetism is evident in this film. Every footage is from the archives mixed between interviews and opinions from experts who have seen Senna in action. The film is filled with events that define who Senna was, what drove his passion, what were his ambitions and importantly the film uses Senna’s own interviews to narrate the story.A devout Christian, he drove as if God were his co-pilot.

The support when he won his first Brazilian Grand Prix in 91’at São Paolo was such that the deafening humming of the cars were drowned by the chants of 300,000 local fans singing Ole ole ole! Senna Senna! Senna drove the last few laps with a stuck gearbox and still won! The reason he was so dear to the adoring young populace of a struggling nation was that he represented them with pride and audacious talent to the world.

This documentary wonderfully captures the rise of Senna,with his conflict and bitter rivalry with teammate at McLaren Alain Prost as a pivotal plot point.

You know what is coming at the end- the imminent and tragic death at Tamburello turn in the San Marino Grand Prix; and one just feels sighing, if that were not the case. Brazil went into mourning and gave her son a state funeral .What Senna stood for can be understood by something a grieving lady says at his funeral ‘Brazilians need food, education, health and a little joy. That joy has been removed.’

The film reaches a poignant and moving conclusion. Whether you are a F1 fan or not, the ending will leave you heavy hearted .Tragically and fittingly he lived his last moments in a car .But Ayrton Senna da Silva ,having died at 34, would forever remain young, fast and the best ever.