Monday, August 28, 2006 0 reflections

God of small things

On August 27, 2006 our very own Herculean movie industry lost one of its unique offspring. Affectionately called Hrishida by millions of fans in and outside the country, the man who redefined faith and hope became a star in the sky. A man, who had started small and continued to look for the small things in life even after becoming a legend, was now a part of history. Hrishikesh Mukherji was more than just a film maker with a stroke of genius. He was a complete human being. A human being who believed and who had faith. A faith so strong that it became more apparent with each of his ventures. A hope so concrete that no sense of commercial or parallel categorization could hinder his path.

Be it the amusing classics like Golmaal and Chupke Chupke or the echoing silences of Anand and Mili. Hrishida had spoken volumes in a few seconds of cinematic silence. And how loud and clear were these silences is obvious when despite being part of a generation that is fed on a rich diet of sleaze and deceit, I still find myself looking for Hrishida's rare recipe at the end of the day. Even if my day starts out with a in-the-face pop ups of pin-up girls I cannot help but feel a little sad that Hrishida too had to see this culture take birth in our country. Hrishida never let us down throughout his career but I am afraid we sure did by moving beyond the things that matter. Simple things.

When the mischievous Raghu tilts his head and reminds us of how important a family is, we look beyond Rajesh Khanna and see Hrishida standing in the corner with a smile in his eyes. A smile that hoped that some day all of the viewers who watch his movies will somehow become like the characters themselves. Individuals with a passionate adherence to the simple things in life. When the crying heart of Babu Moshai screams at his dying friend in Anand our eyes well up because we too feel the pinch and pain the humble doctor is going through.

Somewhere down the lane of memories we seem to have lost the strand Hrishida had given our lives to hold. Somewhere swinging between globalization and a mad race to infinity we lost the context in which Hrishida had set so many gems as examples. Somewhere between Abhimaan and Jism we managed to lose our values. Yes. We lost Hrishida way before August 27, 2006. Can anything be more tragic than this?

Adieu dear Hrishida. You were right sir. It is indeed simple to be happy but so difficult to be simple.

--ShaKri
Sunday, August 27, 2006 0 reflections

Raving about my new live-in friend!

There comes a time in every man's life when a new spot of light brightens his day. To me it has been my laptop for the last 5 years. Agreed, it can never take a place of another human. But then it does not do anything less either! What with the 512Mbps Broadband connection I have this monster of a machine all set to rock and roll the Web. Its speed and power is already obvious in more ways than one. A widescreen display enables me to do more while working on it. A 3-hour (nearly) battery back up helps me as well.

I gave my old laptop (lot of history with that baby too!)this time back home in India. It now works with my brother and is going through an upgrade as I understand. So to help me move on with my relationships with these tech-toys, I decided to get myself a little treat. And what a treat it has been so far!

At 100GB Hard Disk, 1 GB RAM (upgradeable till 2GB!) and a sweet Intel Centrino Duo I am all set to rock and roll indeed. It was a tad pricy since it was bought in India but then I ain't complaining since it would have cost me more anyway so why not! My friend Sidd has this exact same machine although mine has more CPU power peaking at 1.73GHz. Apart from a wide set of neat applications, this baby comes with a built in CD/DVD writer that allows one to burn CDs and customized DVDs with the chapter-based interface and everything. I used it this time to capture, edit and design my own DVD of a trip to Hampi I had been to.

Very cool.

Given below are two more images of my new live-in friend, as it were. I hope you like her as much as I do. Looking forward to making a few more memories with this one.

Clicking on any images will produce a larger version of the original picture.




--ShaKri
Thursday, August 24, 2006 0 reflections

Fly me to the moon!

'I shall bring you the moon, my love' crooned the hero to the dove-eyed lass in a matinee flick. No sooner had I indulged being a viewer to this spectacle of a cinema I read a headline somewhere the following day that a couple had bought two acres of real estate on the moon. Yes, you read it right. Our very own shining circle that changes faces every night in different parts of this blessed planet.

People buying land space on the moon is anything but new. A few years ago there was a whole cult following around the world that wanted a piece of the 'lunar action'. And why not? Given the growing population of countries like India it is little wonder that Earth will soon run out of space. As one of my less articulate friends aptly put 'the ratio of new people coming in and old people passing out seems out of balance'. As crude and borderline rude his comment sounds it is indeed a fact. Take a city like Bangalore or Mumbai for instance. These bustling cities are anything but decreasing in size. That said no one wants to sell their property even if one were offered crores of Rupees. Not that the idea of being a 'crorepati' overnight is not enticing. It is just that the cost of getting a new place or constructing one for that matter will probably cost the person close to or in some case more than what he/she got for the old place. Not to mention the bright chance of getting a plot somewhere in the outskirts of the city where roads are still under development and getting the cable television is a challenge. Who would have thought that people would actually think twice about becoming crore-worthy rich?

It won't be long before Bangalore and Mysore are the same city, said my father once. As I guffawed away at his amusing seeming comment that day, news pieces of moon-based real estate deals suddenly feels like a strangely disturbing truth of tomorrow. What if indeed there comes a time when we will have to look for alternative land areas to set up our livelihoods or build that 'dream nest' of ours? What if indeed Earth literally becomes a no man's land where land value is so dear to the owners that no one wants to sell an inch of it. What if state based development authorities run out of spaces to develop? Wouldn't that be an ideal situation to buy a fragment of the gravity free space on the lunar surface? After, unlike our fortunes, Earth is a finite place isn't it?

Anyone else out there looking for a 'Lunar Agent'?

--ShaKri
Monday, August 14, 2006 0 reflections

Thrills of traffic - DH Article


Yet another article of mine has been published in the Deccan Herald on Page 9 dated August 14, 2006. This article was earlier published on this blog by the title - It must be love. Its edited version is what you see here. Please click on it to see the larger version.

--ShaKri
5 reflections

Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna - Movie Review

The wait….as it seems…has definitely ended. And I for one am definitely thankful for that. Why? Read on. The much hyped Karan Johar’s multi-starrer spectacle Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna is out. Sadly so is its story. For those who do not know it yet:

Storyline # 1 - Dev Saran (SRK) is a football champ who breaks his leg in a freak car accident and retains a permanent limp. He is married to Rhea (Zinta) and has a child. His insecurity lies in the fact that he could not achieve what he wanted to in life. But what makes it worse is the fact that he seems to hate that his wife, on the other hand, is the ‘man of the house’ while he lives off her. This makes him terminally ill with ‘male chauvinism syndrome’ as it were as he huffs and puffs his way across this 3.5 hour debacle.

Cut to storyline # 2. Maya (Rani) a humble school teacher is married to Rishi (Abhishek) who is a party planner in NYC and a childhood friend of Maya. Maya is shown as someone incapable of having children and a cleanliness freak.

Ok. So far so good you might think, eh? So did I. Read further.

Both marriages are on the rocks thanks to inexplicably unreasonable characters Dev and Maya. Dev is always mad about one thing or another without a break. I was wondering why Rhea stuck it out with as long as she did. On the other hand we have Mrs.Weepy-Eye Maya who never really explains why it is she cant satisfy her honest husband’s genuine needs. If he requires a little passion in bed then she would rather ‘discuss’ it than do anything more. Needless to say the man is patient and puts up with this borderline insane woman.

Then we have Rishi’s Playboy dad Sam (Amitabh) who is waltzing around with girls a quarter his age while mouthing sentimental stuff about his dead wife. Yawn!

When Dev and Maya meet the first time, being the strangers that they are, Dev actually manages to have a profound conversation with this complete stranger with questions like “Do you love him?” Seems like Johar was so eager to let them get used to each other from the very first frame and realism apparently doesn’t matter anymore. A few meaningless lines later off goes Maya into her bridal suite and off goes Dev into a passing car.

4 years pass by. Don’t worry. That means nothing.

Takes one to meet and understand one indeed. Dev and Maya meet up again due to some random accident and voila! We have the two couples exchanging greetings with each other. When they both “realize” that they are in the same boat they decide to help each other out with some ridiculous tomfoolery around beautiful NYC. You will have to see these scenes to hate them.

A few songs and hip shakes later we have the couple checking into a suite somewhere as they have just realized that “Hey! We don’t need to fix our marriages. Lets fix each other up with one another!’ while poor old Abhishek and good old Zinta are gyrating in a night club somewhere oblivious of where exactly the “party is that night”.

Yaawn. Are you still reading? Wait. Am I still writing? Ok.

KANK is about relationships outside marriage and what happens if one were to say ‘meet their soul mate’ after marriage. Very noble indeed. But the flaw is not with the question but with the answers Johar Inc. provides. Neither are they reasonable nor believable as 3.5 valuable hours of our finite lives are exhausted in this meaningless merry-go-round of ‘relationships’.

Performances hands down belong to the Bachchans. If you thought you had seen the last of Big B then you better watch out. Despite being borderline vulgar the legend pulls off an amazingly new and refreshing role of a Casanova. In the same breathe there is his kiddo Abhishek. In the entire cast he seemed the only dude who had any honesty in his performance. If there is anyone to benefit from this Titanic of a movie then that is Abhishek. Rani…hang on. I forget when it was she acted in the movie between all that crying! Good lord woman! Have some integrity for crying out loud! Preity is ok in her very reserved appearance although I felt more sympathetic for her and Abhishek towards the end than these ‘love birds’.

I kept SRK for a different paragraph for a couple of reasons. This man needs to start rethinking doing movies for Johar. He has hammed like you have never seen before. If in Kal Ho Na Ho he wouldn’t die…then in KANK he doesn’t live. Not for one minute. His loud and over the top acting makes me wonder if he indeed was the man who made a classic like Swades. It’s a shame his choices have gone downhill again.

John Abraham (yea…yea..) and Arjun Rampal are also there for some reason that I don’t really understand. Kirron Kher and others are alright.

Music is truly over rated since it sounds like a lot of tunes you have already heard before. Editing and camera work is more on NYC rather than scenes. How many times will we get to see NYC, Mr. Johar? Some of us live there you know. All said and done KANK is a good attempt gone very wrong. My advise – skip it and save yourselves a few hours of your mental and physical health.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 in which 2 points for the Bachchans and half a point for the unconventional story.

ShaKri

Friday, August 11, 2006 2 reflections

Married? Happy? Both?

As I read the inlay card for the 'Director's Note' of the new Karan Johar flick Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna’s music CD something he said about marriages caught my attention. Not that I am a die hard fan of the man or his movies but his theory of marriage was rather interesting.

According to him there are three kinds of marriages. The ‘arranged’ kind, which I have to agree with him, is a concept I have not completely understood myself but if as Indians we have learnt anything from history it is that arranged marriage is by far the most fail-safe type. People in these kinds of marriages somehow manage to make it work. Love seems to fall out of everywhere as they spend the rest of their lives figuring each other out. Love is planned and nurtured carefully. How two complete strangers make such a commitment is something that I have always wondered about. I guess once they get used to each other, love comes in various definitions. Everyone around the couple too are happy about the event which makes this kind the most popular one in India.

Then there is the 'love' kind. Quite possibly the most amazing kind according to me. I know people who have married this way and I can honestly vouch that despite the various joy and ugliness that might surround it, these people seldom regret their move. More often than not they would have confronted their elders in such cases but eventually happiness is all that remains. Of course, it would be foolish to assume these kinds always work. I also know folk who, despite being together and closely knit for several years, parted ways after a few years of marital bliss. Throw in a child into this equation and things definitely becoming more challenging to say the least.

The third kind is the kind Karan attempts in his movie. People marrying a friend to be safe and then realizing it might have been a mistake. People getting into wedlock just because they ‘know’ the other person well but sans the genuine love that is the root of all passion in the world. People who sit many a night staring into space wondering if the person sleeping next to them is indeed the soul mate they were supposed to be with. God forbid they do meet their soul mate after marriage then what can one do about it? How fair is it to the present partners? These, as far as I understand given my limited view…are the most unfortunate ones. On the one hand they are left with no options to explore and on the other they are forcing themselves to fall in love with the other person.

I know my parents, being a part of the royally orthodox bunch, will soon start asking me questions about my plans of ‘settling down’ in life. They will want me to be part of the crowd they were by going in for arranged marriage which does not scare me as much. But what scares me is the notion of being married to someone without love. What scares me is the concept of ‘making love grow’ after tying the knot. What scares me is the scheduled timing that takes place with such arrangements.

One cannot blame me for seeing it this way. Born and bred in a pretty liberal society back in India I have been completely exposed to a whole new set of ideologies in the western world for the past decade. This exposure has in effect changed the way I visualize wedlock. I am sure I am not the only one in this weird dilemma as to which way to go when it boils down to ‘spending the rest of my life with someone’.

I guess my blog would not have had this blessed article had true love been mine to keep. My world would probably have been a much better place. Maybe such questions that seem lethal at this point would have sounded better only in movies and inlay cards. Maybe I would have been a different person altogether. I do not know.

Maybe. Maybe not. But will I ever know? That…as it seems is the real question.

So what kind are you dear reader? Happy? Married? Or both?

--ShaKri

Wednesday, August 09, 2006 0 reflections

Unclaimed

Something feels like a poem today so I decided to plug one of my works in for those who are kind enough to visit my blog. This was written when I was at one of the worst moments in my adult life. This was a tribute to that unclaimed soul I had become.

Needless to say the work was titled 'Unclaimed'.

--ShaKri


Here they come, here they come,
Riding on the backs of horses from doom,
Dressed in black with the stench of gloom,
Kicking the dust of grief's kingdom.
An outcast calls out with burning flesh,
For help, as they pick the mongrel by the hair,
And drag the mutilated soul through deserted streets,
While witches watch in glee and blind rats stare.

Here they come, here they come,
Whipping to life the struggling mist,
As God giggles from behind a stormy cloud,
Watching the weathered immortal resist.
The skies open up to cast a darker shade,
On a world that has forgotten the light of day,
The dance in hell has reached its peak,
As bleeding doves cry and the idols speak.

Here they come, here they come,
Saddled in sorrow and strapped in vain,
Breathing fire from their melting faces,
Drenching themselves in the acid rain.
They are here to stay, there are here to burn,
They are here to take you to a better place,
They are here to pray, so you never return,
Back to this world that you have set ablaze.

There they go, there they go,
Leaving behind an echo of the broken bell,
They will return, this much He knows,
To take another unclaimed soul from hell.

Monday, August 07, 2006 2 reflections

Cyanide - A glorious attempt on Kannada celluloid

For the past few years Kannada cinema has had to suffer mediocrity. In fact I had written about it on this blog site as well. But this summer in India was refreshingly different. If ‘Rama Shama Bhama’ was the rib tickling delight for Xmas last year then ‘Cyanide’ was the pick of the year for me this summer.

For those who are not aware ‘Cyanide’ revolves around the shocking assassination of India’s former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by hardcore LTTE militants. This was the first time that a human bomb was used to execute the task.

Contrary to popular belief (that is belief of people who have not seen the feature) the movie is not about the causes and effects of the assassination. It neither takes sides on the cold blooded murder that shocked the nation nor does it justify in any way what was done was right or wrong. All it does is showcase the days that followed the killing of Rajiv in Siriperambudur and the day the LTTE militants responsible for the attacks killed themselves in a house in Konanakunte outside Bangalore by consuming cyanide. The leader of the gang Shivarasan backed by Shuba and others were found dead one cold morning when commandos barged into the house. Inspector Kempaiah headed the entire operation along with aid from the CBI officials in Delhi to avoid these hardcore killers from fleeing. As the common news watchers we never knew what exactly happened after the bombing and the day the militants were found dead. ‘Cyanide’ showcases those days with brilliance.

The one thing that hits you immediately while watching ‘Cyanide’ is the brilliant cinematography. Ratnavelu is an upcoming genius of a cinematographer who has worked in Tamil and Telugu films before this has captured the on goings onscreen with such precision that it leaves the viewer dumbfounded. The next best thing which hits our senses is the sleek and polished editing. The manner in which the scenes are stitched together with the appropriate amount of screen time given to each is absolutely amazing. I have not seen many Kannada movies with such laudable editing work. The third and most important aspect which sticks out majestically in ‘Cyanide’ is the glorious background score. For those expecting some hip shaking gyrations here will have to resort to some of Vishnuvardhan’s latest since all one gets here is a treat of mind blowing scores by Sandeep Chowta.

The cherry on top of this beautifully adorned cake is the director – A.M.R. Ramesh. A grand debut by a fine movie maker. His genius is apparent in the way he handles the scenes involving the LTTE militants and the innocent housewife Mrudula and her husband Ranganath. The former Prime Minister is never mentioned by name yet is present in wide audience throughout the movie. Ramesh truly deserves an applause for enriching our cinematic experience with ‘Cyanide’. All the performers shine with special mention to Ranagayana Raghu who underplays the role of Ranganath with enviable precision and Shivarasan’s character Ravi Kale who breathes fire into his role. Tara and Malavika excel in their respective roles and have their moments too.

Some of the scenes that caught my attention and appreciation:

  • Militants barge into Ranganath’s house unannounced much to the shock of the innocent wife Mrudula.

  • Shuba finds her lost self in Chitradurga’s valiant woman warrior Obavva while watching a song on television. The tears in Shuba's eyes narrate a million stories.

  • The dated presentation of the events throughout the movie.

  • Glimpses of the regular and fun filled militants’ lives back in Sri Lanka just before they crack open the cyanide in their mouths.

  • Mrudula requests the police officials to kindly ensure her gas cylinder and stove is returned as they prepare for the final showdown with the militants.

  • ‘Yes. It was a mistake. Killing your Prime Minister in your country was a mistake.’ is Shivarasan’s frank response to Ranganath when asked if killing the former PM was a mistake.


All said and done I can only pray and hope that Ramesh continues to enthrall us quality deprived Kannada movie-goers with such rare treats in the future as well so that we too can get over our ‘Remake Fever’ once and for all.

Thank you – everyone connected with the making of ‘Cyanide’ - for making my summer so special.

I request readers to kindly check out 'Cyanide' movie's official website at CyanideTheFilm.com

ShaKri
 
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