Monday, July 30, 2012

Anthology films

Grand Hotel (1932)
A group of very different individuals staying at a luxurious Berlin hotel and their respective dramas. It is possibly the first portmanteau film and is noted to be culturally, historically and aesthetically significant. It won the Oscar for Best Film. They don’t make like these anymore.

Six in Paris (1965)
French anthological film made by six of the leading directors of the French new Wave collaborating to direct six segments.

The Illustrated Man (1969)
Based on the book by Ray Bradbury by the same name, it comprises of three science fiction stories as the protagonist recounts how he got some of the tattoos on his body.

Four Rooms (1995)
An omnibus film, originally intended to be Five Rooms, tells four stories set in Hotel Mon Signor in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve. Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino being two among the four directors of the segments.

Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
A series of 11 vignettes that all have coffee and cigarettes in common.

Three ..Extremes (2004)
An East Asian horror film, with three segments coming from Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan, it can be unsettling to many. The three segments are Dumplings, Cut and Box in that order.

Paris Je’Taime (2006)
Features 18 shorts stories, each set in a different part of Paris .It was originally meant to have 20 stories, one for each of Paris’ arrondissements. Two shorts were dropped. However, it spawned New York, I Love you in the series of ‘The cities of Love’ with films for Rio, Shanghai and Jerusalem being planned.

New York, I Love You (2009)
Comprised of 10 shorts, it is a tribute to the city of New York and a sister film to Paris Je T’Aime. Works both as a romance film as also a seductive travelogue.

V/H/S (2012)
A group of misfits hired by an unknown third party to burglarise a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape. They find more found footage than they bargained for.

From India

Darna Mana Hai (2003)
Six stories narrated by friends among themselves over bonfire as they are stuck in forest as they find shelter in an abandoned house. All stories have a supernatural or eccentric element to them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Gobbledygook basically is pretentious unintelligible jargon.One can also call it double dutch.A bunch of baloney wrapped around in drivel topped up with more of macaronics and rigmarole. This blah-blah, hocus-pocus, chitter-chatter, jibber-jabber, mumbo-jumbo is hard to understand. See what i mean?

This uncharacteristic use of jargon is ideal to obfuscate data thereby making things deliberately unclear and might possibly give you a headache, if you read it over more than once. Comprehending it is another matter. Hence, its most easily found in corporate policy matters and even more or in government reports. It is the art of saying the simplest of things in the most twisted way possible, literally tying knots in a sentence.

Some samples of such government gobbledygooks are sampled below.Followed by their meaning in just one sentence. Can you decipher a gobbledygook?

Here is the first one.

It is clear that the Cabinet Committee agrees that the new policy is an excellent plan, in principle. But in view of the doubts being expressed, it was decided to record that ,after careful consideration, the considered view of the committee was that while they considered the proposal met with broad approval in principle, it was felt that some of the principles were sufficiently fundamental in principle, and some of the considerations so complex and finely balanced in practice that in principle it was proposed that the sensible and prudent practice would be to subject the proposal to more detailed consideration with and across the relevant departments with a view to preparing and proposing a more thorough and wide ranging proposal laying stress on the less controversial elements and giving consideration to the essential continuity of the new proposal with existing principles, to be presented for parliamentary considerations and public discussions on some more propitious juncture when the climate of opinion is deemed to be more amenable for consideration of the approach and the principle of the principle arguments which the proposal proposes and propounds for approval.

What does it mean ?
In precise,
The Cabinet is not in favour of the policy.
Page 127, Ji Mantriji, Vol 1

Now try this one.

Notwithstanding the fact that the proposal could conceivably encompass certain concomitant benefits of a marginal and peripheral relevance, there is a consideration of infinitely superior magnitude involving your personal complicity and corroborative malfeasance, with the consequence that the taint and stigma of your former association and diversions could irredeemably and irretrievably invalidate your position and culminate in public revelations and recriminations of a profoundly embarrassing and ultimately indefensible character.

In one short sentence,
If you let this proposal pass, prepare for a character assassination.
Page 155, Ji Mantriji, Vol 1

And one more.

Certain informal discussions have taken place, involving a full and frank exchange of views, out of which there arose a series of proposals which on examination prove to indicate certain promising lines of enquiry which when pursued led to the realisation that the alternative courses of action might infact, in certain circumstances, be susceptible of discreet modifications in one way or another, leading to a reappraisal of the original areas of difference and pointing a way to encouraging possibilities of significant compromise and co-operation which if bilaterally implemented with appropriate give and take on both sides could, if the climate were right have a reasonable possibility at the end of the day of leading ,rightly or wrongly to a  mutually satisfactory conclusion.

This simply means
We can make a compromise deal with them.
Page 103, Ji Mantriji, Vol 3

Ji Mantriji was an Indian adaptation of the British satirical sitcom Yes Minister aired on BBC. Ji Mantriji aired on Star Plus and featured Farooque Sheikh as Surya Prakash Singh, the minister of Administrative Affairs and Jayant Kriplani as the department’s secretary whose job was to bamboozle the minister with his trademark goobledygooks.

The examples have been taken from the book adaptation of the series ,Ji Mantriji: The diaries of Shri Surya Prakash Singh published by Penguin in 3 volumes.

Star Plus cancelled Ji Mantriji because of low TRP's, despite it having a niche dedicated audience.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Who is Don Draper?

Donald Francis ‘Don’ Draper is just a fictional character on AMC’s Mad Men. However, that doesn’t stop Don Draper from being voted the most influential man in the world by Mad Men, set in 1960s New York advertising world immediately has the lure of the swinging sixties; and in that Don Draper is a shining star. Don Draper has an ego that people pay to see.
His is a rags-to-riches story but saying that the story is chequered would be an understatement. His life is an illusion. An illusion of a happy marriage with Betty Draper and three young kids lasted more than it was supposed to considering his long list of extra-marital affairs. But its also an illusion in the sense that he is actually living on an identity he stole while he got a chance to while stationed in the Korean War. For a long time we didn’t know that he is actually Richard ‘Dick’ Whitman, born to a prostitute who died while giving birth to him and sired by a dad who never stopped reminding him that he is a whore-child.

In a way, he is responsible for his half-brother hanging himself, for Don never wanted to go back to anything from his last iteration. He has lived two lives- one as Dick Whitman and now as Don Draper. The Don Draper iteration is scared of his Dick Whitman past. Only by the time he either confides or people find out on their own about his identity theft does he slowly begin to stop worrying about it .Nonetheless the truth has the potential to make him immensely worried. And it does, infrequently in the form of IRS or US Government security checks.
Don has lied, cheated on his wife multiple times and been downright disrespectful, he is a chain smoker and drinks copiously. He is not exactly a role model of a father either. However that description is painting him in broad negative strokes; for the man has some positive qualities on display. He is cynical and arrogant, yes, but he has his own code of ethics that he goes by. He insists on honesty, forthrightness and chivalry in people working for him. He is protective of people who he sees potential in and he is quite likely to admonish rude and crude behaviour towards women in workplace. This although hasn’t stopped him from seducing his secretary and letting another one seduce him. For him, there is not even a contradiction there.There is so much coolth about his ways that we often forget what all he gets by with. It seems there is a different yardstick for him.

What makes him an asset to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is his sheer talent and his ability to spot it. Another thing that he has is insight. He knows who or what has potential. Just see what Peggy Olson has become under his wings. Peggy shares the most meaningful relationship with Don based on mutual admiration and respect. Women in workplace had it tough in 60s, but Don has always treated her as an equal. That apart, the only woman Don has been really happy with is Megan Calvet.

He has changed since he popped the question to her. Megan has had the most evolving part in Mad Men from being a receptionist to now an aspiring actress, and in between that she graduated to being Don’ wife and a copywriter at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP). The rise is quick and meteoric.
Megan is a great step-mom to Don’s kids, especially with Sally. Megan dealt with Don’s ex-wife Betty poisoning Sally’s mind with calm, poise and emotional intelligence defying a twenty something year old. She threw a surprise birthday bash for Don at their classy New York apartment and performed the sensuously classy Zou Bisou Bisou with whole of ad agency in attendance. Don was irked but blushed still. She even salvaged the Heinz Beans account even as it was gone for all money and Don was in awe of his wife.

Don is finally happy in his second marriage .He even told Pete Campbell that that kind of life is not worth throwing away. But we know that Don is not really comfortable with successful wives. Even a ravishing model as Betty did become a housewife. The friction in the Don-Megan relationship,whether Don admits it or not, is Megan’s acting aspirations. And as Megan’s mother pointed out, she has an artist’s temperament without necessarily an artist’s talent. How much of that can Don really entertain is quite a query. Megan, meanwhile is desperate enough to knife a friend for a part in a mere Butler commercial  and Don is not head-over heals with her anymore.

The affection remains, which is surely going to be stretched as she gets her wings to fly.Don was against helping her get the ad and that is why he told her ‘You want to be someone’s discovery not someone’s wife’. Megan took a creative shortcut and Don is the sort of guy who will never take shortcuts to his creative process.Don’s nonpareil creative genius remains. Pulling out words and insights that none saw. Take Kodak’s Slide Projector for instance right here.

For he also wrote that courageous ‘Why I’m quitting tobacco’ letter after losing the Lucky Strike Cigarettes account which has had such an impact that it is just called ‘The letter’. And this is the same Lucky Strike for which he came up with ‘It’s Toasted’ line in a stroke of genius.

The women in his life are a reflection of his thoughts. And he was downright unhappy by the manner in which SDCP bagged Jaguar, even though the creative pitch had great merit in itself. Don was clearly against the Jaguar dealer’s sleazy proposition with Joan. Don Draper has immense respect for Joan Harris that was evident in the sparkling conversation they had in bar after she accompanied him to the Jaguar showroom.

With his office wife and protégé Peggy Olson moving on to be Copy Chief at rivals Cutler Gleason & Chaough (CGC), Don might find himself alone at work and if he responds in kind to “are you alone?” query by the unknown blonde, it might be back to his philandering, womanising ways again.That shouldn’t surprise anyone,given his sexual prowess, but Don Draper can always spring another surprise. One that might be completely out-of-the blue. As his media buyer Harry Crane said ‘Draper? Who knows anything about that guy? No one’s ever lifted that rock. He could be Batman for all we know.

And on that note, i am off to see The Dark Knight Rises .

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cool Proverbs

The native Indian proverb goes - We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. Here follows a list of lesser known proverbs. Mostly because they are not English in origin, they are not as widely used. Some of them are German, French, Italian, Chinese and African. Yet a proverb is a proverb with a witty way of saying a worldly matter with local nuance. Here goes...

Too far east is west.
An old horse knows the way.
Two dogs over one bone seldom agree.
The mother of idiots is always pregnant.
Between doing and saying lies the sea.
Better to lick the knife than give up the spoon.
When you drink the water remember the spring.
Sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, all must be tasted.
Even a blind chicken finds a grain once in a while.
The rooster that crows too early gets a twisted neck.
Evil enters like a splinter and spreads like an oak tree.
It is the chef who knows the contents of the pot best.
If you don’t scale the mountain, you can’t view the plain.

The wolf would hire himself out very cheaply as the shepherd.
Rebuke is greater to the wise than a hundred blows to the fool.
Tell me who you spend time with and i will tell you who you are.
If you are looking for a fly in your food, it means that you are full.
The rain of your insults do not breach my umbrella of indifference.
When the bush is on fire, the antelope ceases to fear the hunter’s bullet.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Spanish sports’ golden age

Spain is witnessing its golden age in sports. I would cut to the chase and reason with a theory that could point as to why it is so. Surely, it is not just coincidence.
The theory goes- A country’s generation born close to an Olympics benefits immensely. And if the country continues to aspire for sporting success, there is a good chance, it will produce champions.

It is 2012 and it has been 20 years since the 1992 Barcelona Games.20 years is a generation. We can also figure in that 1982 FIFA World Cup was held in Spain. The Olympics needs sporting infrastructure, and this sporting base is used by future sportspersons. The exposure breeds familiarity, practice pushes perfection, academies produce prodigies. In simple words, reaping what you sowed.

Now it is an observed fact that taxpayers keep on footing the bill after Olympics are done with. Athens is still burdened by the massive expenditure when it hosted in 2004, so is Atlanta from 1996. Infrastructure built for big ticket sporting events can actually go to waste. But the same stadiums can be used to breed academies or used to host events of relatively lesser profile, which keeps the money coming and encouraging sportspersons to excel all the same.

The sportsmen and women make nations proud on the world stage. The link between hosting an Olympics and becoming a sporting power can be made for South Korea and Seoul 1988. South Korea however is a tiny state and it is easier for them to use the facilities built. They have carried the momentum all the while getting new sports and disciplines. Some nations go the other way around and host an Olympics after becoming a sporting giant, like China did at Beijing 2008.
Coming back to Spain though, I suggest that it’s because of the push that the country got from Barcelona 92’and their pursuit of sporting excellence, that they are reaping success. Spain has always had a great football league, and yet they were under-achievers on the world stage. With an unprecedented successive Euro-World Cup-Euro treble by Spanish football team, they now have staked claim to be the one of the best teams ever.
Also the Catalans do not consider themselves to be part of Spain. A thing that surfaces every now and then at Barcelona’s Camp Nou at the time of El Clasico. That independent identity feud aside, Spain noticeably is not just producing champions from Barcelona and Madrid. They are also coming from Oviedo, Seville, Valencia and Málaga.

Moreover and importantly, it is just not about football anymore. Spain has champion teams in basketball, handball, futsal and watersports. They have Gemma Mengual in synchronised swimming ; Sergio Garcia and recently Azahara Muñoz in golf .They have won the Davis Cup 5 times since 2000, and have had Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco, Sergie Bruguera, Carlos Moya, Aranxta Sanchez Vicario , Conchita Martinez in tennis. Motorsports has Fernando Alonso’s double world championship in Formula 1.Moto GP has the talents of  Jorge Lorezo, Dani Pedrosa and Nicolás Terol among others. Even if we discount Miguel Indurain’s 5 consecutive Tour de France titles between 1991-95, Spain has had Oscar Pereiro and Carlos Sastre winning in Tour de France in 2006 and 2008 respectively.Spain were hockey silver medallists at Beijing Olympics in 2008. The list is long and impressive. Read more here.

To conclude with an analogy, the museum benefits Gaudi, Gaudi benefits the museum.
Players need stadiums, stadium needs players.
Spain benefits with both in its golden age of sports.