Friday, September 28, 2012

Captcha Calling.

Last night my friend Jothivel called me up on the phone and as the mobile phones signal was constantly breaking up, making his voice scratchy, I came out of my room into the corridor outside to talk as the signal was better there than anywhere else in the house. And after the call, I realized that this was the first time in the past, maybe three or four days, that I had actually opened my mouth and spoken aloud in the house. The last time was maybe, when my dad told me, on Saturday night?, lock the door behind you and I replied OK. Other than that, I dont speak much at home. Dont take me wrong, its not that I have a “silence at home” policy or anything. Its just that the occasion to speak never arises. 
I leave home at the break of dawn, I return home at maybe around 9/9:30 pm, serve myself the dinner left in the hot pack on the dining table and go lock myself in my room to either see a little tv before bedtime or maybe log on to the internet and chat with online friends on facebook, twitter et al or in the worst case scenario if theres is absolutely nothing else left to do, write a blogpost like this to torture you dear readers. When I finally get sleepy eyed, I shut down the TV/computer, go to sleep and wake up and leave the house at dawn. This happens routinely every single day. Meanwhile when I get home in the night, my mother would either be in the kitchen or in the bedroom watching her quota of daily serials, my father would be in the hall, watching his news shows on the TV and I will pass them both on my way to my room without a single word spoken on both sides. The only indication that life exists in the house is through the volume of the voices coming from the various TV's. So even if I dont turn up home for maybe a couple of days, if the TV is on in my room, I think that my parents would assume that I am still there. For me there is no equivalent to the existential dilemna of I speak, therefore I am. For as long as the TV speaks, there I am.

Now reading the above, if you get the idea that I am very silent type and rarely speak, then you are wrong. I do, I speak a lot, everyday. My speech bubble usually consists of the following sentences “where is the pain?, how long have you had it? Why did you wait so long to come? Which other doctor have you sen for this? what tablets did they give you?” all of these questions in pretty much the same sequence all day/everyday from morning to night. So I do get to exercise my tongue a lot, but it cannot be called conversation, real conversation, by any stretch of imagination. On the one hand I have so many friends in the real world that I dont get to talk to often, guys I grew up sharing the same crush/same failure with. And we do have a such a lot to reminisce over. Primarily over who's fault it was that neither of us got that girl. All those never had, but should have been had, intimate conversations still waiting to be had. So what I intend to do, this day onwards, every night before bed, to bring up my phones address book, close my eyes, put my finger on one random entry, dial that person and talk. Just connect with whoever it may be, pick up the thread from where we left off (years ago?)and see what happens. And if that person ends up having a family fight (or divorce) because of what I intend to remind them of just before going to sleep, then I am not responsible.

On the other hand, I do have so many online friends, facebook, twitter,gtalk etal, who I keep messaging to all day. But does a chat conversation qualify as a real talk? I dont think so. So my next plan of action is to cold call my online friends and give them the captcha test- congratulations, your account has been verified and you are now confirmed as a human being. So wait for the call, your turn might be coming tonight.

(P.S. All this silence in the house has just clarified to me the kind of girl I really want to be with- someone who talks in a loud voice, laughs boisterously, keeps making intelligent conversation and fills the house with sound)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

India's Oscar Entry- Not Raaz-3?

 The surprising news that the movie Barfi has been chosen for this year’s Oscar entry from India has created a lot of heartburn from film aficionados who have all been “outraging” on the only platform available to Twitter Timeline (to my irritation). Well, I don’t know much about the requirements of a film to get selected for the Oscar nomination, but I do believe that Barfi ticks most of the blanks, for one it is a mainstream Hindi film starring a big Bollywood star and a scion from the right family and not made by any maverick (read independent) film studio, starring art house stalwarts like Sanjay Suri and Om Puri. Till now any film which starred Suri cum Puri was always on the awards list automatically, but thank god some good sense finally dawned on the selection panel this year and they made the wise decision of not forwarding the gloomiest film of all year (which usually clears out he theatre as fast as a swine flu scare does) as India’s Oscar nominee for the year. I will write about Barfi, the official entry, in a separate post later, for this one I intend to devote to the ones which lost out on the race to the Oscar.

Vazhaku en 18/9....this film is a classic case of being too clever for your own good and in then end not being clever enough. With a strange title like the one above, the makers must have hoped to attract the attention of all film festival juries right from the start of the shooting, otherwise you cannot explain a mainstream film opting for such a title, even at the risk of losing/confusing the ticket buying/money paying average audience. Having been bold enough to give such a title the makers should have been bold enough to go all out, for realism, to achieve their stated intention. But unfortunately half way, through the second half, they lost faith in themselves, compromised and gave us an as usual filmy ending. If you have seen the movie- two things will jar your sensibility. The fact that a street smart kid who had literally grown up looking after himself all these years suddenly falls for a simple stratagem of the inspector and agrees to confess to a crime he did not commit, merely because the money will go to his sweethearts medical bills is not believable in the least. It goes completely against character. And the climax scene is even worse, seems so contrived to see the girl pouring acid on the face of the inspector to get justice. Yeech....why not go the whole hog? And throw in a duet before the climax and have a climax fight too if the intention was to show that evil gets punished at the end all those rote clich├ęs? No wonder this movie was not judged Oscar worthy. I agree wholeheartedly.

Naan Eee, this one is a little harder to explain. If there is one thing which we should be showing those Oscar people it is that India is such a loving country that even our insects have love stories behind them. Hollywood has so far forgotten classic rom-com’s that the sight of a fly having its fill of romance with a human would have been a blow in the direction of affirmative action and would have garnered the support of all special interest groups, working for freedom of choice in marriage. You ask for gay rights? We even have fly rights in India...Should have been our cry to the Oscars. The only fault you can find in Naan-Ee is the makers not having a duet between the fly and its lover in Switzerland…that would have made this film a sure shot shoo in for the Oscars. For it nearly has the same story as Barfi too- the hero cum fly is a deaf-mute, it can dance, fight, takes revenge and all, but can’t speak any dialogues? Remind you of anyone? And the heroine though cutie, does look autistic (or was it artistic?) and goes around asking for money from the wrong people. The only interesting character is made out to be the villain, who for a change is neither autistic nor deaf mute. Thank God. Otherwise it would have become another Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s -we are all abnormal- kinda film.

And Finally- Raaz-3. The one which should have been selected for the Oscar with eyes closed. I am continuously surprised by the selection committee’s stubbornness in failing to recognize India’s one and only star of international standard- Emraan Hashmi. The man can act, cant he? Even his lips act, for god’s sake. What more do you want from an actor? Till Emraan gets his due, I am afraid that the Oscar will be a pipe dream for Indian films. I rest my case.

So, please share with me which films you think should have made the cut for the Oscar.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Love & Hate are the only things…..

Short Story......Love & Hate are the only things….. 



When Mahesh walked in through the door of the Intensive Care unit, he was unable to control his shock. He hadn’t expected such a sight. His Nila, his beloved Nila, was lying there on the bed swathed in bandages from head to toe, with tubes running out of her everywhere. What little he could see of her aroused anger in him. Anger against himself for bringing her to this state. For hadn’t she come with him, trusting him? And here she was lying unconscious on a hospital bed. And he had gotten away so lightly. Where was God when you wanted him?

The door opened again and the person who entered didn’t notice him at first, all eyes on the still comatose Nila. But when he turned and finally saw Mahesh, the rage poured out off him in waves “You” he shrieked “You scoundrel, how dare you, you, show your face here again?” he paused before screeching again in a voice which would bring the entire hospital staff down on them in a minute “After what you did to my daughter, how can you stand there beside her bed like this? Get out, get out now, I don’t want to see your face for one more minute or I will turn a murderer”

The doors opened again and a doctor and nurse, followed by a group of what seemed young trainee doctors trooped in to stare at the unconscious figure on the bed. In the sudden crowd no one seemed to notice the two belligerent figures standing on either side of the bed, both of whom automatically retreated to the two opposite ends of the room, leaving space for the doctors. “Any improvement nurse?” asked the chief doctor, to which the nurse replied “Not till now doctor, she is still as serious as when she was brought in this morning” the nurse explained. One  of the students leaned over to whisper to the nurse “what’s the history of this patient, matron?” and the nurse replied “oh the usual, love affair, elopement with the boy and a tragic twist, for the girl’s father followed them in a car of his own and rammed the car in which the two lovers were fleeing. In the accident, only this girl survived, the other two men, her lover and her father died on the spot”.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Book Review - “The Krishna Key” by Ashwin Sanghi

(Disclaimer : This is a sponsored review written by the author as part of the promotions of the new book The Krishna Key and sponsored by the blogging platform – Blogadda)

An ancient manuscript with a secret of history changing proportions, an ancient sect of serial killers hell bent on protecting that secret, lots of dead bodies scattered around, a prime suspect who is a professor of ancient history and a race against time to decipher the secret and clear his name?

Sounds familiar? No it’s not the Da Vinci Code, nor even Angels and Demons, this is the latest example of Fan fiction in the path of Dan Brown by Ashwin Sanghi, whose Rozabal shrine, dealing with the last resting place of Jesus Christ (if you didn’t read that one, it is in Kashmir), was a bestseller and even optioned by UTV, with a rumour suggesting that Hrithik Roshan will play Jesus (how cool is that?). Sanghi returns again with his new book the Krishna Key based on the premise that the God Krishna was an actual historical figure who lived in the times of the Mahabharata or the time of the Indus-Sarasvati civilization also known as the Indus Valley civilization till now.

The concept of the archeologist hero has been around for a pretty long time ever since the duo of Spielberg-Lucas showcased the history-mystery genre with their first Indiana Jones and the raiders of the Last Ark. It was cleverly exploited by a lot of other authors including Clive Cussler with his Dirk Pitt/Steve Austin series which were mass bestsellers in this category. But all of them had a western bias and rooted around in ancient Greek and Roman history, for to be frank, the United States of America has been around for a scant 400 years and not much of ancient history can be located in a country which is not ancient. This retelling of the glories of the golden age of Europe awaited its counterpart of Indian history and Sanghi has filled the need.

This book contains a lot of, and I do mean a lot information on ancient Indian history, including the astonishing facts that the people of the Saraswati civilization, when that mighty river dried up in the pre-Vedic times (due to a nuclear war/holocaust?), migrated both east and west- the eastern people becoming the Vedic civilization of the Ganges basin also known as the Aryans while the western branch of migrants reached the Euphrates delta to form the subsequent Sumerian civilization and expanded to form the Egyptian, the Jewish and later the Arabian civilization (with little linguistic gems like the name ALLAH is derived from the Vedic Goddess ILA  thrown in). In essence Sanghi says, India is Asia and Asia India. Add to this the astonishing news that the myth of Atlantis originated after the sinking of the city of Dwaraka under a tsunami and the Lord Krishna was both a divine being and an actual human  whose DNA still exists hidden somewhere to be resurrected by future generation, you have a nice mix of intriguing hypothesis and mysteries thrown in.

The story starts with a professor of ancient history Saini being accused of murdering four of his colleagues, each of whom happen to own a partial piece of a seal, an artifact excavated from the Indus-Saraswati city of Kalibhangan and is a key to unraveling the secrets of Lord Krishna; buried till now. The professor along with his buxom PhD student/assistant Priya races against time to prevent the murders (which he doesn’t), recover the pieces of the seal (which he does) and unravel the mystery. Meanwhile, hot on his tail are a hard biting policewoman Radhika who seems to harbor a personal grudge against him and a member of a cult who imagines himself to be  the Kalki avatar and goes on a serial killing spree. Throw in a mysterious Mataji, who every time she spins a prayer bead, does a cold blooded murder and a mafia don who is after the secret too, various bumbling policemen and a heart stopping betrayal halfway throw the book and you have a lethal mix of fast moving story and interesting plot line. 

For the rest of the story, to find out if Krishna really existed? Is his DNA still available? Was Harappa devastated by an atomic bomb (the ancient bhramastra)? And why was the temple of Somanth of special significance to all the Muslim invaders of India, who kept on razing the temple to the ground every time it was rebuilt and why Sardar Vallabhai Patel rebuilt it again as his first act of ruling independent India? To learn all that and more you have to go buy this book and read. For 250 rupees you get a lot of stories, enough for four books rolled into one. Yes, its that long and a little judicious editing would have made it a more crisper read and prevent the inevitable sag in the middle pages.  So buy this book, read it and learn to your astonishment that Mount Kailash is actually a man made pyramid, the first ever built pyramid in the world, covered by snow and find out what it contains hidden inside. And No. It does not contain the Krishna key.

P.S. This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Theatre Review- The 39 Steps By Evam.

I just came home from watching a play at Music Academy, Cathedral Road and my mind is still reeling. Hold on, let’s rewind a little and go back to the beginning. My blogger friend Ashwini asked me to watch a play recently and I agreed without a seconds thought because it was a theatre adaptation of one of my favorite novels, The 39 steps by John Buchan. I must have read the book a half a dozen times and watched the movie adaptation by Alfred Hitchcock on Turner Classic Movies at least twice. And I still couldn’t wait to get to the theatre to watch this performance for two reasons, first, the play had been adopted by Evam and we all know their unique treatment of original material and two, this was to be performed by just four people, yes, just four playing all the roles.

I got to the Music Academy just in time to meet up with my group of friends- Anand, Ashwini, Gitanjali and we hurried in to get the best possible seats, as the seats were on an early come/early served basis. The performance started on time but with a surprise twist. A rapid and I do mean rapid run through of the movie version of Hitchcock’s adaptation. And for those who haven’t done so till now, watching a classic film noir on fast forward really has a hilarious effect. That set the mood for what was to come in the rest of the show.

For those who don’t know the story, it deals with a South African mining engineer Richard Hannay, who returns home to England just before the start of the world war and lending an innocent  helping hand to a secret agent who gets murdered that same night in Hannay’s flat, he is declared a murderer and forced to flee for his life to the Scottish moors, from where he discovers the secret of the 39 steps for which the secret agent was murdered and not only clears his name but also prevents that vital war information from reaching the German spies who are waiting for it. The secret agent in the book is a male named Scudder but in the movie by Hitchcock was replaced by a female character to add more zing. The play follows the Hitchcockian tradition with the female spy. They also spoof brilliantly the two iconic scenes from the movie- the slow removal of her stockings by the heroine of the most sensual scenes shot by Hitchcock and the chase over the moors by men beating the bushes, both spoofs causing rip-roaring laughter in the aisles.

For a production with just four people in it, rotating roles with ease, the props and the supporting cast have to be pitch-perfect. And they were. The performances were spot-on, the props very interesting and the play as a whole was a laugh riot of two hours. If you haven’t watched it yet, please do, it will be a play to remember.

(P.S. this review was not sponsored by Evam/Anyone…..the author paid for his own tickets and enjoyed the show)