Thursday, December 30, 2010

All Are Mathematics..!

"Ooooh God... You made me a widow, now who is there to take care of me and children?...Akaaash, Anu... Your father left us...! " The loud wailing of Seethamma accompanied the sound made by the pooja vessel dropped from her hands. She had just returned from the routine morning visit to temple when she noticed the awkward pause in which Rajagopal master, her husband, was lying on an easy chair, head backward, motionless and eyes closed. The newspaper that he was reading lied on the floor and the cup of tea that Seethamma gave him before she left home was still on the teapoy, cold and probably a graveyard for some unfortunate flies and gave her the notion that she has indeed become a widow.

Aakash and Anu, the former wrapped in a towel, with shaving cream on one half of the face and numerous cuts and scratches on the other and latter with a piece of bread toast inside the mouth and rest on her hands, came rushing to the scene accompanying the chorus. Chaos prevailed for some moment. Then Aakash noticed a slight movement on the dead man's body. "He is alive!" 

Ten minutes and many embarrasing scenes later, Master sat with a hot cup of tea on his easy chair. Seethamma was faning him  with a magazine although the ceiling fan was revolving full speed on the cool December morning. Master was a retired mathematics teacher from a government school, whose fame had spread throughout the neighbourhood and even in nearby villages. He was considered a pious person, dedicated to his work. His students regarded him more as an artist. Artist of numbers! Because he was a mathemtical wizard. No puzzle was unsolvable to him. In quiz programs, he used to give puzzles designed himselves! He was a winner of several national and state awards that are usually given to dedicated teachers of the country.

"I feel tired Seetha. I feel numbers are leaving me, and instead a vacuum is developing inside. I don't think I will ever have the power to do a calculation rest of my life."

"What happened to you? Are you unwell? We will go to hospital immediately, Aakash call a taxi." 

Maths was the life for Master. He sees, interprets and analyse world through numbers and calculations. If he feels tired of numbers, it was something really bad. That thought made a void inside Seethamma's mind. She had given up hope. 

"But what happened?"

Master slowly picked up the paper, and said in a tired voice, "8 thousand crore rupees was devoured by Kalmadi and team during  Commonwealth Games, bribes by truckers was 25 thousand crores, bribes for housing loans was 11 thousand crores and 2G spectrum scam amounts to 2 lakh crore. I am even unable to imagine these numbers, I, who could solve riddles in seconds and calculate the most complex puzzles in minutes cannot even count how many zeroes precede the first digit if all these and other minor scams uncovered last year are totalled. And I feel more humbled by the enourmity of  the grant total of all those scams that is left unfound. I feel bogged down by zeroes all around me."

He descended into a deep slumber, dejected....

*"All are mathematics" title is literally translated from Malayalam phrase "Ellam kanakaa.." a desperate curse when all hope is lost. 
**Special gratitude to for the statistics.  

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Being Proactive aka Prevention IS Cure..

"Mr X has ideas, see how he always find a way out in situations!" The voice of security guy whispered in my ear.

A bit of background info. Mr X is the senior manager of the understaffed maintanence department in the place I work. Right then he was standing in the middle of shop floor, giving instructions by sound and actions to some 15 odd workers and engineers, who stood surrounding him. He gave the appearence of the conductor of an orchestra, trying to put his musical thoughts into vocal notes from musicians around him. Tomorrow we have to despatch an important consignment and one crucial machine in the line broke down. His effort was to start the production line by combining some other machines of an adjacent line. He connected the machines by conveyours and made workers to stand in junctions to relay the work from one conveyour end to next. Mindboggling!

I replied to the security guy in whisper, " Mr X has got some really cool ideas. But if atleast some six months back, he had recruited competitive personnel, enforced regular preventive maintenance schedules and ensured the availability of machine spares in case of emergencies, we would never had faced this situation in first case."

Enough of rambling... enjoy these great songs from Amar Prem. (the kind of movie that they can never dream of making these days.) When compared to the acting calibre of Khanna and Tagore, all Khans and Roshans are nowhere in the picture..

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Amazing Live theater

Watched a play on a live theater. An amazing experiance! Better than movies if the handling is good. The language was a bit incomprehensible, but the acting made up for that. The way the stage is treated, according to situation, the speed in which props appear and disappear and the way actors move on the stage without goofing up... Just awesome to watch. Add some apt lighting and live music, it was an evening well spent.

The play was a comedy of misunderstandings between two couples, a pair of lovers and a pair of married couples. The lover gives his photo to  his girl. She faints on the way home and a doctor helps her. Doctor's wife sees them and misunderstands. The photo gets into her hands. What follows is a comedy of errors. The slapstick is just awesome, two servents were the best and they got a great deal of claps.  Although the story was a bit stale, the situations and the reactions from actors was what made the play special... Great effort...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hayavadana: A Fable on Identity Crisis

Hayavadana (The man with face of a horse) is offspring of a princess and a white horse and he craves for completion, which is in his view, being a man. But Hayavadana and his quest for an identity is not the main story of Girish Karnad's epic play by the same name. It is just a backdrop or a subplot to tell a more bizarre story of three persons, a woman and two men, who is entangled in a web of desire, passion and identity crisis. Hayavadana is a story derived from Kathasarithsagara, retold by Thomas Mann and readapted for stage by Girish Karnad. So the story is a fusion of Eastern philosophy and Western sensibility. Thomas Mann goes beyond the riddle posed in Kathasarithsagara and gives it a practical answer. When it comes through Karnad, the story reaches a full circle, becoming a moral story or parable for Indian minds were a dispute of Eastern and Western identity is battled continuously.    

Suthradhara or Bhaagavata is about to tell the story of two friends who are in no way identical, when a man with a horse face, Hayavadana, asks him for help. He is tired of his dual identity and want to become a complete man. Bhaagavata advises him to go to Goddess Kaali and ask help. When Hayavadana goes off to a distant Kaali temple, the story starts. Devadatta and Kapila are very close friends, former a handsome but physically weak, Brahmin poet and latter a dark, but solidly built Kshatriya athlete. Devadatta falls in love with Padmini and Kapila goes to ask her hand for his friend. After meeting Padmini, Kapila is convinced that he is a better match for her than Devadatta, and falls in love, but the love for his friend takes upper hand. 

The marriage happens, but later Padmini becomes more attracted to well built Kapila, which burns Devadutta's jealous heart. While on a journey Padmini, humiliates Devadutta for his physical weakness, in-front of Kapila, and a grief stricken Devadutta chops off his own head going to a nearby Kaali temple. Kapila feels he is responsible and he too follows suit. Padmini when sees this cannot stop her grief and she too decides to commit suicide. Kaali appears and offers to give life back to the friends. She tells her to keep their respective heads on their bodies and gives life to them. 

Now due to confusion (or may be wantedly) , Padmini goofs up and exchanges the heads. When they are alive a fight starts between friends for Padmini. Both claim to be Devadatta. Finally a saint declares that head is the master of the body and allows the athletic body with Devadatta's head to take her. A dejected Kapila decides to spent the rest of his life in jungle. Kathasarithsagara stops here. But in the play, the story moves on. Within some time, to the horror of Padmini, again the bodies attains their former respective selves due to the lifestyle and marriage is in shambles. She dreams of Kapila and one day goes to meet him in jungle and claims her right to his now athletic body. A fight ensues and both friends kills each other. They are not even sure they killed each other or was it a suicide, because while striking other, they are killing their own body. Padmini makes a pyre for both and does Sati in it.

Whle Bhaagavatha concludes the play, Hayavadana comes again. Kaali gave much desired perfection to his body, but instead of making him a proper human, he is turned to a full horse! Bhaagavatha advises him to enjoy the completeness and don't fret, which Hayavadana obeys and gets off the stage with a loud neigh. 
Man tries to attain perfection, but never reaches it. It is the basis of all troubles. The play shows the importance of living the life, perfectly aware of ones defects and making the most of what one have to lead a happy life. In the starting there is a prayer to Lord Ganesha, and here Karnad question the answer given in Kathasarithsagara, that head is the master. Ganesha who is told to be the master of all knowledge, is having the head of an elephant. So, the answer given in the fable is incomplete and this play is an attempt to complete it. In this period of multiple identities, the play gives a strong message to confused souls.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Confession:Typical Grisham

Just finished reading John Grisham's latest novel, The Confession. A legal thriller, like any of the typical Grisham novel, it also strongly endorses a political viewpoint. Actually this can be seen as the fictionalization of his first and the only non-fiction till date, The Innocent man, about death penalty and the necessity to abolish it. When you are writing a novel on a social injustice and at the same time want it to be a best seller, you have to tread a very conflicting path, and Grisham almost succeeds here. He does it by pacing the story adequately that the readers never complains of stagnancy and at the same time bringing the emotional conflicts of those involved to the fore front. Another good thing that I noticed is that, all blame is not put on a single shoulder. Each of the characters have their own reasons to behave the way they are and the responsibility is collective. 

A young man, accused of rape and murder of a cheerleader is facing death row and just a few days before execution, the real culprit, dying from cancer, comes out to save him. What follows is a race against time to convince lawyers, judges and politicians that a life is at stake and justice is to be violated. The title works in two levels. The only evidence against Drumm, the wrongfully accused black football star, is a confession that was beaten out of him. And even the true confession from Travis, the rapist, is not enough to acquit him of the crime he never done. 

My only complaint is about the racial angle given to the story. Was that required? It makes the setting too similar to Grisham's first novel A Time to Kill. But again by not making a happy ending story Grisham defies the frame of a commercial pulp novel and gives this one a realistic touch. And the real skill is in making the reader not feel any disappointment in the process. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pulp Fictions: Cheap thrills

I am not so much into pulp fiction, I mean the novels, not the Tarantino movie, which is my favorite thing that hit celluloid. Not that I hate them, or never reads one, but it leaves a void when finished. You think of lot of other stuff that you could have read at that time which would have been more fulfilling. I feel surprised sometimes because, I can sit through hours of mindless movies that are more damaging to psyche, and come unscathed and even liking them, like the recent Machete or Dabanng

May be I have some respect to written word than visuals and sounds. One more curious thing is that, once I have had a bad experiance from some writer, I have a serious aversion to reading them again, how much ever people recommend them. Tom Clancy, Chetan Bhagat, Taslima Nasreen, Dan Brown, Robert Ludlum.. the list is long. The only exception is Joseph Heller. Heard a lot about his Catch 22 and tried hard to get it without success, but got hands on Something Happened, his second novel. I felt wasted, what started as a witty ride through the psyche of a family guy of a dysfunctional family man turned out to be a repetitive, boring read of 500 pages. I even thought of abandoning the search for Catch 22 then. But when got a chance, read it and loved it. Otherwise I never repeated a failed experiment with books. 

Coming back, Pulp fictions are generally catogorised as novels written with only earning dough as the outcome in mind, which puts most of the crime, suspence, mistory, chick, horror, Indian English stuff in the category. Creativity will not be given much of a chance. The writer will not be sincere to the subject. They are never totally bad, but as I mentioned earlier, leaves you a bit void. The first novel that I read in this category is Mario Puzzo's Fools Die. It was a long read when I started as a tenth standard student. I was quite shocked by the different world that emerged out of it. Cussing, sex, immorality, graphic violence and a kind of raw detailing was much different from all Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie stuff I read till then. Though I have watched more violent movies like Rambo, True lies or Commando before, movies never made an impact in mind as this novel did. Now if I get it I will toss it another cheap stuff. But then it was a whole new world. 

From then I have helped myself to servings of different pulp writers with varying results. The most satisfying experiance was from Jeffrey Archer, he is a genius, a genuine story teller. Best Among Equals, my favourite, qualifies as better as any page turners written in history. Think of a novel about the life of four politicians entering the race to the top, up and downs they face and who will emerge the winner. The suspence is built up page by page, line by line, word by word and culminates in the last sentence, last word of the novel. Masterpiece!

Another of my favourite is John Grisham. From Runaway Jury, the first that I read, to The Confession, that I am reading now, I am yet to find a missed target from him. He is as good in alien territories like Bleachers and A painted house as he is with his hooking legal thrillers. Scott Turrow is also very good writer, his Presumed Innocent is just great. 

On the flip side there is Robert Ludlum (I am yet to read a good one from him), Tom Clancy (the novels start good and slowly descend to mayhem), Stephen King (though I like the movie adaptations like Shawshank Redemption, I am scared to read his novels after the boring Insomnia), Danielle Steele, (half baked stories with predictable and one dimensional characters. I really feel dizzy when I see her books occupying two or three bookshelves in libraries), Frederick Forsythe (just average and too gimmicky), Ian Fleming (I read the first Bond novel, Casino Royale and was like, is this the one that generated a multi million dollar franchise)... and many others. I think I will stick to the former list and save myself from dissappointment.          

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mirch: A Feminine View On Adultery

India has a long history of story telling. It is told that, years back a huge book was written by Gunadhya, called Brihat Katha, which was a collection of all folk tales transferred orally from generations till then  As it was written in Paisachi dialect and not in Sanskrit, it never won recognition. Heartbroken author burned the whole book, but a small portion survived called Katha Sarith Sagara, from which most of the ancient Indian folk stories, Panchatantra, Jataka tales, Adventures of Vikramaditya and Madana Kamaraja were derived. The curious factor about these stories was the format in which they were told. A basic plot connects the whole thing and many stories are interwoven according to situation. It is not uncommon to have layers on layers of exotic stories woven together so intricately that it can give any contemporary  magical realistic post modern novel an inferiority complex. 

The movie that I watched today, Mirch, uses a similar pattern to unveil itself.  I remember the movies like, Suraj Ka Sathwan Ghoda, about a man's relationships with three women in different stages of his life (Tamil movie Autograph too has a similar theme.), Lajja, again about the plight of women in various situations, Sau Jhooth Ek Sach, where Mammotty investigates a murder from different view points of family members, Malayalam movie Kerala Cafe, where all stories end in the coffee shop of a railway station platform, and Darna Mana Hai, a horror episodical movie. 

Mirch is a movie about adultery, but what makes it unique, other than the episodic narration is that, it is not dark, as the movies of this genre tends to be, and also it says them from a feminine point of view.Many movies are made on escapades of men, and few ones where a married woman involves in an affair, she is crucified and labeled immoral in the end. Here in all the stories women takes the upper hand and when caught red handed by husbands uses their wit and smartness to escape scott free. Labeling this movie as a comedy may not be right, but the stories are certainly humorous. 

Manav (Arunoday Singh), is an aspirant director who with his girl friend Ruchi (Shahana Goswami0 is trying to persuade producer Nitin (Sushant Singh) to make a movie on his script. Nitin, who wants a saleable movie dislikes the script terming it too dark and without romance. (The dialogues at this part is quite funny.) Manav don't want to compromise, but later decides to script a story based on sex, because "sex always sells" according to Nitin. The story he comes up with is from Panchatantra, about a carpenter (Rajpal Yadav) and his cheating wife (Raima Sen). The humor in the story with a very twisty ending amuses Nitin but he wants more. MAnav decides to make a movie with four stories and for the second one chooses one from  Boccachio's DeCameron and adapts it Indian. An old Raja (a very hilarious Prem Chopra) has a young wife (Konkana), who dots his servent Prithvi (Arunoday again). Servent demands three wishes to have a union with her and story is how the Princess manages to pull them off. 

Next two stories are set in modern times, one about a man (Shreyas) planning to check the fidelity of his wife (Raima again) and gets bowled over by his own method.  The last one is how an elderly business man (Boman) falls into his own trap when he lies to his wiife (Konkana) and tries to get some doodh from bazaar. How these stories impact the protagonists life is what makes the connecting thread. Out of the five, the connecting story is the weakest of all. The climax is as if the director tried to force the point of the movie into the throat of any viewer who did not get the point till then, which makes it a bit preachy. And the fourth one is also a bit lame in comparison to others, may be because it was an original one and others are acclaimed folk stories. But Boman Irani makes up for it by his over the top, but much believable histrionics. 

All actors have done commendable work, but Arunoday towers above all, not only due to his height, but by demonstrating his flexibility as an actor in five different roles. (He appears in all stories at least for a bit part.) Others also has given a great support and special mention to be given to Ila Arun, unbelievable! The movie is quite well made and music compliments the narration aptly. If the climax was shown with same restraint and wit, without the melodrama, like the other four stories, Mirch would have been a whole different movie. (And do not expect a commercial pot boiler while watching this one. It appears similar to unbearable cinematic gems like Hawas, Julie, Intehaa, but it is not.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nollywood: The Nigerian counterpart of Hollywood

Sunday I hapened to attend a movie screening, that gave an introduction on Nigerian cinema, or Nollywood as they refer the $250 million industry. Two movies were screened, "This is Nollywood", a documentary directed by Franco Sacchi and "Osoufia in London" a comedy directed by Kingsley Ogoro.

"This is Nollywood" follows the successful shooting of an action movie "Check Point" by Bond Emeruwa. The movie is shot in flat 11 days, 2 days more than the original plan. Nigerian movies are made in budgets some times as short as $10,000, within an average 1 week. It is just two decades old and in 2006 they had produced around 2000 movies. In quantity Nollywood is well ahead of Hollywood and second in the world only to Indian movie industry. During the production of this documentary, there was no cinema halls in Nigeria. The whole industry is supported by video. Distribution happens mostly through pirate networks. The producer sells the movie to marketer and from there onwards, its piracy that supports and takes the distribution forward. A few TV channels also supports the industry by screening the movies. Nigerian movies are watched throughout Africa and in many parts of Europe, Carribean and America where Africans are living. Nollywood aspires to be the voice of Africa.

Although the production is very basic, using hand held cameras and minimal effects, the enthusiasm of the crew is matching to any multi million budget movies. The involvement is total and sincere. That reflects in their acting, which may be very crude and undramatic, but natural. My fellow audience were laughing when they were shooting a scene of a wounded man dying. The guy, with blood gushing through a wound in chest, is going through a severe spasm and is making a very disturbing noise, which appeared overdone on screen. But, who knows better than an African about the way a man dies? Living in a country torn apart with militants, civil wars and child soldiers, I think what they are showing may be more real than any death I have ever seen on celluloid. The shooting is affcted by rain, powercuts and prayer from a neighbourhood mosque, but crew members stick on with out losing cool. The snippets of wisdom shot out of their mouths in regular intervals makes the movie more interesting.

"Osoufia in London" can be equated to our Sholay. It is a block buster. First appeared in 2003, the movie soon became a cultural sign post of Nigerian movies. The story follows the adventures of a simple, fast talking villager who goes to London for claiming the money inherited to him by his dead brother. Though the cheap budget is noticeable in shoddy production values, stock footages of London and silly background score, the sincerity of the attempt is clearly visible in the execution. The movie is reasonably well paced, with several moments of genuine wit interwoven. Acting is pretty good, editing is quite ok and scripting is just fabulous.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oh, My Blog...!

Stagnation is gripping me strong these days (only on blogging front, personal front is non existant, career front is good, but not great as I hoped and want it to be, definitely not stagnant, with some strong choices to make soon!). I can sense it when I do not have any thing to post on, despite of lot of things- good and bad, happening left, right and around me. You can judge it when you see me posting on a movie that I watched months ago, or when I go on rambling on some random absurd stuff trying to appear funny or when "Blog" appears in the title of the post. These are all ploys to convince myself and readers that ammunition is still far from exhausted. It may be just a passing phase or may be the death bell of Conscientious Reflections.

It is not the want of subject, as our politicians, national and international, are giving enough fuel for thought, along with all stupid celebrities, news reporters, social midgets, and of course Wikileaks filling in. (You can sense my frustration when all I could come up about Wikileaks is an unwitty pun connecting it with a tap leak! Gross.) It may be the inability to give form to the thoughts, impatience to give time for ideas to germinate or even plain laziness of thought. A Blogger's Block as one of my good friend aptly coined it some time back.

Planning to watch some exciting and unique movies today. Let me see if they can unclog the block.

Till I come up with anything good enjoy this awesome track "Bang and Blame"...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Machete: It cannot get bloodier...

Will you watch a movie that has a tagline like,
"They just f***ed the wrong Mexican!"
"He knows the score. He gets the women. And he kills the bad guys!"?
I am sure you will not even give it a try. And that is precisely the reason why I am posting on this movie "Machete". Even after reading this post, you are going to stay away from this one, and you will ask me what is the purpose of this whole exercise. And my answer will be, in art there is always room for absurdity. Like it or dislike it...

Some years back, two of the most talented directors of Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino, who gave us Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction and Robert Rodriguez, who made El Mariachi trilogy (El Mariachi, Desparado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico) decided to make a movie that is a tribute to the exploitation movies that they grew up watching. Exploitation movies are a breed of movies that exploits the primitive senses of viewers. Made with shoestring budgets, by independant movie makers, these movies will have loads of graphic portrayals of violence, nudity and foul language. Incoherent and often ridiculous plots and low production values are some common characteristics. Biker movies, Horror movies, Blaxploitation movies (movies that are made by blacks for blacks), Splatter movies (so violent that it is comedy), Bruceploitation movies (made using Bruce Lee dupes following the death of the star) are all the subgenres. Grindhouse movies was the term used to denote them. Tarantino and Rodriguez made two movies, Planet Terror and Death Proof, that eerily resembled exploitation movies of 70s and 80s. Although the movies that starred major stars like Bruce Willis and Kurt Russel did not do well as expected, the fake trailers that they made to show between the movies generated lot of buzz. And the one that hit the bull's eye was Machete,  the revenge story of a Mexican. 

Seeing the positive response to the trailer, Rodriguez decided to make it to a full length feature starring Danny Trejo as the ruthless Mexican, a regular in all the director's movies (in bit roles) and many  industry stalwarts like Robert De Niro as a corrupt senator, Steven Seagal as a drug lord, Lindsay Lohan in a double role, Jessica Alba as an immigration officer, Cheech Marin as Machete's brother and a priest in arms, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Don Johnson and more...

The plot or story is irrevelent, nothing is done to plug any loop holes, dialogue is as cheesy as it can get, violence is unbelievably gory, nudity is rampant, but acting is top class. The movie maintains the rawness and madness that characterises exploitation movies. The actors have done unbelievable job. Everyone has played their part with utmost conviction and sincerity, even knowing the absurd parts they have to play. The wooden acting and hamming by actors contributes to the authenticity of the movie..

I doubt they will ever officially release it in India due to its unique styling and I will not recommend it to anyone. But I had a blast watching it. It is an amazing effort to rebuilt a bygone era without making it look like a spoof. Critic response was also great. Unlike Indian critics, the international critics took the movie for what it wanted to show, not for what they wanted to see.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

The strange case of the talking dog...

Today's post is on talking dogs. (Am I going nuts? Otherwise why should I write a post on talking dogs?) Dogs do not talk as a general rule. Pet lovers may argue that they can feel their dog talking to them when they look into the eyes.  I feel that is not true, no animal, let alone dogs, that I had ever come into contact seemed to be talking, the last one being a deep fried chicken wing that tried to flutter from my plate once, but that too never spoke to me... unless you consider that silent invitation that it gave from that roadside oven as talking.

So, let us go back to dogs! Dogs talk in fictional stories. Well, not as a general rule again, but usually they talks instead of barking. (That is what separates them from chicken wings, the deep fried ones especially. No chicken wing ever uttered a word even in a silly story. And I don't think much is written on deep fried chicken wings generally let alone them talking.) I don't have any idea why I always starts on talking dogs and ends in deep fried chicken wings.

Back to dogs!

A talking dog that had taken my fancy recently is Dogbert, Dilbert's anthromorphic (read 'talking' if you don't like long, complicated adjectives.) dog. Now if you don't know who Dilbert is, then I would advise you to have a piece of chicken wing, deep fried. (There I go again!) Not that you will know anything about Dilbert, the cubicle dwelling engineer, having a real trouble dealing with the corporate culture, by eating it, but you will be occupied for some time, at least till I get bored and end this ridiculous post, and you will not disturb me by asking such silly questions again.

Dogbert wants to conquer the world and enslave humans. But he is always kind to Dilbert and helps him out of troubles, especially from the pointy haired boss. In many strips Dogbert climbs the ladder of corporate success through his sheer rhetoric. (Read 'talking skill' if you don't like short but still complicated, difficult to pronounce words. See,how much considerate I am, of the readers who do not get head or tail of what I writes, even about the importance of deep fried chicken wings in today's chaotic universe.)

OK enjoy some Dogbert videos and strips, courtesy Scott Adams, the creator.



Check out some Talking dog jokes from internet. (I love google because whatever shit you type on it, it invariably generates some useful results.) All are copy pasted from random joke sites, so if you don't like the joke I am in no way responsible.

A guy is driving around and he sees a sign in front of a house:
"Talking Dog For Sale."
He rings the bell, and the owner tells him the dog is in the backyard.
The guy goes into the backyard and sees a Labrador Retriever
sitting there.

"You talk?" he asks.
"Yep," the Lab replies.
"So, what's your story?"
The Lab looks up and says, "Well, I discovered that I could talk when
I was pretty young, and I wanted to help the government; so I told the
CIA about my gift, and in no time at all they had me jetting from
country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders,
because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of
their most valuable spies for eight years running."

"But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't
getting any younger so I wanted to settle down. I signed up for a
job at the airport to do some undercover security work, mostly
wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some
incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals. I got married,
had a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired."

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants
for the dog.

"Ten dollars."

The guy says, "This dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him
so cheap?"

"Because he's a liar. He didn't do any of that shit."

A man and his dog walk into a bar. The man proclaims, "I'll bet you a round of drinks that my dog can talk."

Bartender: "Yeah! Sure...go ahead."

Man: "What covers a house?"

Dog: "Roof!"

Man: "How does sandpaper feel?"

Dog: "Rough!"

Man: "Who was the greatest ball player of all time?"

Dog: "Ruth!"

Man: "Pay up. I told you he could talk."

The bartender, annoyed at this point, throws both of them out the door. Sitting on the sidewalk, the dog looks at the guy and says, "or is the greatest player Mantle?"

#3 (My favourite)

A man arrives at a cinema after the movie has already started. As his eyes adjust to the darkness, he is surprised to see a dog sitting beside its master in the row ahead, intently watching the movie. It even seems to be enjoying it: wagging its tail in the happy bits, and hiding its eyes with its paws at the scary bits. After the movie, the man approaches the dog's owner, "Wow, mate, your dog really seemed to enjoy the movie. I'm amazed!" Yes, so am I," came the reply. "He hated the book."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why Am I NOT a Movie Fanatic... !

@ Read your Blog, you looks a complete film fanatic.
Someone tweeted a couple of days back. Another comment in my blog asked me if I am a movie buff. I thought over it and came to the conclusion that I am not. I watches movies. I enjoy watching them. I have opinions about the movies that I watch. I try to convey these opinions through my blog, tweets, Facebook staus updates and conversations. Do these things make one a fanatic? I suppose not. So I tried to list out the basic character of a movie fanatic, if such a creature exists.

A movie fanatic cannot live without watching movies. He anticipates eagerly the release of movies. He makes it a point to watch the movies as early as possible. He is very enthusiastic about the genres that he likes. Typically, he will be a fan of some actor, director or a particular genre. He defends them in conversations at all costs. He feels let down and dejected when he watches a movie that never delivers his expectations.

Last month the number of movies that I watched fully, from starting to end, was... one, Myna. Yes it includes all the movies released in cinemas and the ones that they aired on TV. I never look forward to watching a movie these days. If I am free, no other personal or professional commitments are there to fulfill, if I feel like watching one, I will try it. I am not a fan of a genre or a particular individual, nor do I wait eagerly for a release. I like certain directors and actors. I feel enthusiastic about a movie only after watching it. I never feel dejected after watching a bad movie. (I try to get out of the hall half way if it is so hopeless.) I uses my reason when I gives an opinion on a movie, which I think a fanatic or movie buff seldom do.

Movie watching for me is not my life, it is a source of entertainment, inspiration, upliftment just like reading a good book is. There are better pleasures than movies. Good books, exotic food, travel, conversations with like minded friends are all more fulfilling than watching movies. But lattr is a convinient way of entertainment compared to others. Only a couple of hours lost, no much investment (of course, I don't watches movies in multiplexes, any movie, even a classic one is not worth spending that money!), easy access all contributes..
Saw this animated image while browsing, thought you guys will like it:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The most serious comedian...

This post is a tribute to one of the most talented comedian of our times, Leslie Neilsen, who passed away last day, leaving a lot of hearty laughs unlaughed forever.. Leslie Neilsen was appearing on screen since 1956, since five and a half decades, and was known for his serious roles till 1980, when he appeared in Airplane!, a spoof comedy, the first of its kind, and went on to appear in numerous roles mostly in movies of same genre, like his most famous Naked Gun series, Dracula- Dead and loving it and Spy Hard.  He used to call himself a closet comedian.

A spoof movie, if you have never watched one, is a movie that parodies other popular movies of the time, even copying scene by scene and giving a comic twist to the proceeding. Airplane! was the first notable movie of this genre and although Neilsen was not the protagonist of the movie, he stole the show, making his name synonimous with spoof movie genre. Spoof movies never get critical acclaim, but always garners lot of fans. After Neilsen acheived success, many popular actors started appearing in spoofs, the most notable being Charlie Sheen, who has acted in iconic movies like Platoon and action flicks like Terminal Velocity. Both have apperaed together in Scary movie third and fourth instalments. 

The funny part about this comedian, who started his career as a serious actor, is that he never left serious acting, even in spoofs. Majority of his scenes are acted with enough seriousness to pass off for a serious movie if not for the absurdity that surrounds him. Deadpan expression is perfected by Neilsen. I would like to call him the most serious comedian.    

Check out the iconic scene in Airplane!, he is serious and don't call him Shirley.

And the funny scenes from Naked gun series:

This is a horror spoof- Dracula: Dead and loving it:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Recommended watch: Movies from middle east

In a previous post, I had tried to list out five comedies that I felt others must see. Here I am making a list of four, from middle east, or Gulf countries, mainly Iran, that I feel are worthy of high recommendation. I really feel bad that I am not including a movie that should have been in this list, because till date I never had an oppertunity to watch full- Majid Majidi's The song of Sparrows. I had seen bits and pieces of this masterpiece, and would recommend it on that experiance alone. But the following movies are also equally great and entertaining. All the movies, except first are having humour as a strong under current.

Osama is not from Gulf, but Afghan. And no, it is not the story of Laden. Osama is a girl, who has to disguise as a boy, when she and her mother are left without a male support to their family in a male dominated Afghanistan ruled by notorious Taliban. Later on she is recruited as a child soldier by Taliban. When found out, she is tried and made to marry an old man with three wives. The title, I feel is meant to be ironical. The movie directed and written by Siddiq Barmak, has attained tremendous critical acclaim and many awards for the realistic portrayal of social situation in Afghanistan.

Offside is an Iranian movie which is a bit similar to Osama. Here a bunch of girls dress as boys to enter the football stadium in Tehran to watch the Iran's World Cup qualifier against Bahrain They are arrested and kept in custody outside the stadium with some policemen guarding them.  When football fever is raging around them, the girls as well as the guards are desperate to get a glimpse of the match. Unlike Osama, the narrative is humorous,very crowd pleasing. Jafar Panahi is the director.

Marooned in Iraq
The name sounds like a Chuck Norris movie, but don't go by it. This is one of the most entertaining movies I have ever watched. It is the story of an eventful, life changing journey by Kurdish singer Mirza and his two sons, from Iranian border into Iraq, in search of his former lover and band member Hannareh. THe movie is madness, where heart takes full control over head. The folk songs in the movie are just marvellous. See it to believe it!

Taste of Cherry

Abbas Kiarostami's masterpiece Taste of cherry can be boring for uninitiated, but if you like some serious stuff that reflects on life and existential perils, I would recommend this one. By serious I don't mean it is high philosophy that goes above the head of the viewer. The movie is very comic in a subtle manner. Mr Badii is roaming around a construction site, for a man to do his job for a pay. He encounters several men, but when he tells about the job, no one wants to do it. His job is to assist him in ending his life. At last an old assistant in a lab agrees. A very laid back movie that takes its own time to evolve, Taste of Cherry will be unforgettable experiance to the viewer.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A reason to live or An option to die?

My post on Guzaarish, the latest movie on Euthanasia, has attracted a fair amount of comments, with lot of different views being presented. The only unanimous view was regarding the movie, every one thrashed it. Now I feel some further explanation is needed about my view on the subject.

Many people supports the idea of awarding death to some one who is suffering from some fatal disease or injuries. Several factors that favors such a thought are pain, suffering, dependability, disability, dignity, mental anguish, causing pain and suffering to relatives and friends.

Now my view is that for any decision involving the life of a person, utmost care has to be taken, so that there is no margin for error. If there is any chance of an innocent getting executed, better not to have laws that favors capital punishment. A life taken is irreversible. Definitely there are people who deserve to die, but what if someone who is wrongfully accused gets a death sentence? It is a severe situation and don't tell me our, or any other constitution and laws are error free. I propose the abolishment of capital punishment for this one reason alone.  

Coming back to Euthanasia, a decision has to be taken that causes a damage, that can in no way be corrected afterwards. So on what basis can a system guarantee that a right decision is taken?. If a totally paralyzed person is decided to be awarded mercy killing, doesn't it matter that his consent is not taken? Or if a suffering person want to die, what way does it makes him eligible to exercise his wish? There are people who went on with their life even in a paralyzed state providing inspiration to millions around the world. So shall we encourage him to embrace death or shall we provide him enough support and motivation to embrace  life and go on with it.  From  my own post:

Brain dead patients whom doctors had certified dead has returned back. It may be a minority case, but still valid. If  the sufferer loses hope and decides to die, what makes it different from a suicide? How can the border line be drawn between a case of mercy killing and suicide? After all I believe suffering is a response to a situation by an individual. It is not a situation itself. Another person may, in the same circumstances fight with his will power to his fate and emerge victorious. (Imagine Stephen Hawking). There are plenty of cases where people with sever first degree burns throughout their body, went on to get cured and lead a normal life. There are cases were quadriplegic patients, bedriden for more years than the protagonist, bounced back .

Stephen Hawking is in an increasing state of paralysis and assisted by a speaking wheel chair for support. Now, what if he decided to end his life? There are inspiring stories of men and women who had fought disabilities and made their life worthwhile. (Please see the link in the above quote.) Instead of debating on whether to take a life legally, let us find out a way to support them and make their short life on earth better and joyful.  

This lady recovered from being in a vegetable state.

For almost 70 days, she was totally unresponsive. Doctors finally pulled her feeding tube. And, for eight days, she was dying.

Then Ms. Adamson began responding on her own. Doctors quickly put the feeding tube back in, and she recovered.

See this page for links to more stories like this. What shall we do? Provide a reason to live, or an option to die?

Enough of serious talk, enjoy these two great songs, Send Me an Angel and Losing My Religion:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why I may never watch Guzaarish?

This time no review... I did not wach the movie.

And I never felt like watching it after seeing the promos, or hearing songs (songs are good, actually). After reading the reviews, I just gave up. Not that I believe reviews, there are times when I decide to watch a movie when a particular critic blasts the crap out of it. What may be the reason...?

I am no Hrithik fan.. Not that I hate him, I don't mind him being in a movie. Like, I watched Kites for Anurag Basu. But Hrithik being the hero alone is not a motivational factor to watch one. And Aishwarya... I can never accept that prettiness gives someone a right to act with the best of directors consistantly. But still I watched Raavan and hated it. Aishwarya is not a deterrant. "Kabab mein Haddi" rightly express my feelings towards her. Just spit out the bone, if you get what I meant.

That takes us to our directer Bhansali. I lost the respect to this man after watching Devdas. Pathetically unwatchable.. Khamoshi was too better with a dumb Nana. Although he redeemed himself with Black, I still  felt a bit put off by the European setting. Was that necessary?  Saawariya was a drag. Sony corporation's Bollywood dreams where shattered by this one. They closed their Indian movie making firm after it's debacle. Promos clearly indicates this latest movie is an assortment of all the worst things from his past movies- Devdas' silly sentiments, Black's aliens and Saawariya's fakeness.

And then the theme,  (after reading the first reviews) on euthanasia. It seems a magician is quadriplegic after a fatal accident and he wants to use his right for a dignified death. But is it a correct stand? For a theory we can assume that it is not wrong to award death to some one, who dont have much time left and is suffering very seriously by handicaps or severe pain. It sounds very convincing. But my question is this, who will decide that a man has no hopes or no future? Himself, his doctor or his family? Who is qualified for that? And if someone affirms it, what guarantee is there that he is right?

Brain dead patients whom doctors had certified dead has returned back. It may be a minority case, but still valid. If  the sufferer loses hope and decides to die, what makes it different from a suicide? How can the border line be drawn between a case of mercy killing and suicide? After all I believe suffering is a response to a situation by an individual. It is not a situation itself. Another person may, in the same circumstances fight with his will power to his fate and emerge victorious. (Imagine Stephen Hawking). There are plenty of cases where people with sever first degree burns throughout their body, went on to get cured and lead a normal life. There are cases were quadriplegic patients, bedriden for more years than the protagonist, bounced back.

The argument on Euthanasia will go on with lot of points argued for and against it, but I don't think I have to watch a movie with a loser deciding to commit suicide because life was unfair. (I still regret watching another loser, who drank himself to death some years back, courtesy our Bhansali)  I am satisfied with watching Andy Dufrane hoping to get out of The Shawshank Prison and working towards it for twenty years against all odds.         

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A movie on my Life

Sunday mornings produces sudden flashes of creativity. Especially while you are lying on  the bed, when supposed to be getting ready for office, to fill in the shoes of an absent colleague, take up his responsibilities and land him in a bigger mess when he returns the next day. I knew today was such a day  when this thought came into my mind. Why not a movie on my life?..

It is a great idea.. These days biopics are the in-thing. Mark Zuckerberg, Nelson Mandela, Ed Wood, Che Guvera, Harvey Milk, Homer Simpson... What? Last one is not a biopic? I thought all these days... Well! forget it.. But if you make one on me, it is sure to generate a lot of buzz. I have envisioned the whole movie. It will be a serious commentry on the current events with a strong politial undercurrent. Almost a Godfather meets Austin Powers... 

I have even thought a great name... "The Anti- Social Network"... How is it? And the tag line is "He found out how to face Bhookh*".  But the greatest challenge is to find a suitably talented actor to portray the protagonist, some one who is sufficiently talented to give a serious, complex and at the same time simple performance... I hope that bearded dude in the movie "Hangover" will qualify, or that Khazak journalist from Borat...!

* For all those anpadh, gavar log who don't know Hindi, Bhookh means Hunger...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Recommended watch: 5 comedy movies.

Here I would like to introduce five English comedy movies that I find  truly amazing... I have tried not to include the ones that  are frequently watched... So here you can find an assortment of comedies belonging to different sub genres- a heist movie, a buddy comedy, a biopic, a war movie and a mockumentary...

The Pink Panther:
No, not the Steve Martin slapstick one... this is the original, 1963 movie starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Actually this movie was centered on another character, Phantom or Sir Charles Lytton played by David Niven. But after the release, Seller's character became so popular for his antics that the rest of the franchise was made centered on Inspector Clouseau.  If you love the recent additions starring Steve Martin or even other Sellers movies, most probably you will be slightly put off by this one. The comedy is very subtle and sophisticated here. But I find it more adorable. 

Phantom, a master thief is out to steal a precious diamond, Pink Panther, belonging to the Indian Princess Dala. Inspector knows phantom will target the diamond and arrives at the same hotel where the princess holidays along with his wife. A social playboy Charles Lytton, actually Phantom himself, is trying to flirt with Dala. He also has an affair with Inspector's wife. Lytton's playboy nephew, George also enters the scene, with similar plans and falls for Madame Clouseau. What follows is an outrageous cat and mouse chase, and finally the clueless Inspector gets framed for robbery. 

No youtube video available for this movie.. too bad, but you can watch the trailer here. (Watch for the bed room scenes... pure comedy.)

[Having made her tipsy with champagne, Sir Charles Lytton kisses Princess Dala]
Princess Dala: If I were my father, I'd have you tortured.
Sir Charles Lytton: No. If you were your father, I doubt very much if I would have kissed you. 

Police escort: Tell me, inspector - Signor Phantom - all those robberies. How did you ever manage it?
Inspector Jacques Clouseau: Well, you know... it wasn't easy. 

Be Kind Rewind:

Jack Black and Mos Def swedes, (a name they have kept for remaking popular movies into small versions of self made videos) block busters like Ghostbusters, Lion King, MIB, when Jack Black enters the video shop magnetized  after a freak accident and erases all tapes. Customers loves the movies and they become local celebrities. In order to save the video shop, they have to shoot a final original movie about a jazz singer who is believed to have born there. 

The sweding scenes are hilarious. You cannot stop laughing. The climax is emotional and really makes you a bit sad.  


Mike: [to Jerry as they begin to remake Ghost Busters] I'm Bill Murray, you're everybody else. 

Jerry: [Alma is providing the voices for "The Lion King"] Listen to me. I need to you say the line. I need you to say "I will piss on the bones of your ancestors"...
Mike: No, no! That's not in the movie!
Jerry: [interrupts] This is the next Lion King. This is Part II.
Alma: Roar! I will piss on the bones of your ancestors! 

Ed Wood:

Coming from the unfailing team of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp this had to be special. And it is! This is a biopic of legendary director Ed Wood, who has the distinction of bearing to his credit, some of the worst movies ever made. What makes this movie special is the convincing portrayal of Ed Wood by Johnny Depp. Armed with a never say die attitude and women's inner wear Ed Wood went on making movies after movies, believing in the "good" work he is doing. The conviction he has and the ways he find out to raise money for movies is unbelievable. 



Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Boy, Mr. Lugosi, you must lead such an exciting life! When is your next picture coming out?
Bela Lugosi: I have no next picture.
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: You gotta be joking, a great star like you? You must have dozens of them lined up!
Bela Lugosi: Back in the old days, yes... Now, no one gives two fucks for Bela.
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: But you're a big star!
Bela Lugosi: No more. I haven't worked in four years. This business, this town, it chews you up, then spits you out.
Bela Lugosi: I'm just an ex-boogeyman. 

Edward D. Wood, Jr.: I like to dress in women's clothing.
Georgie Weiss: You're a fruit?
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: No, not at all. I love women. Wearing their clothes makes me feel closer to them.
Georgie Weiss: You're not a fruit?
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: No, I'm all man. I even fought in W.W.2. Of course, I was wearing women's undergarments under my uniform. 

Edward D. Wood, Jr.: And cut! Print. We're moving on. That was perfect.
Ed Reynolds: Perfect? Mr. Wood, do you know anything about the art of film production?
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Well, I like to think so.
Ed Reynolds: That cardboard headstone tipped over. This graveyard is obviously phony.
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Nobody will ever notice that. Filmmaking is not about the tiny details. It's about the big picture.
Ed Reynolds: The big picture?
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Yes.
Ed Reynolds: Then how 'bout when the policemen arrived in daylight, but now it's suddenly night?
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: What do you know? Haven't you heard of suspension of disbelief? 

Edward D. Wood, Jr.: [on phone with Mr. Feldman] Really? Worst film you ever saw. Well, my next one will be better. Hello. Hello.

Sorry if the quote section turned too long... movie has some really awesome moments...

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb 

Peter Sellers again, in three roles. That guy was a genius... Directed by Stanley Kubrick, this black comedy tells an imaginary situation that happens while cold war. A US general goes nut, imagining Russians are contaminating Americans through water, and orders a nuclear strike on Russia, which can be stopped only by coding a password known only to him. He commits suicide. Now Russians had already built a doomsday machine, which will annihilate the whole world if ever anyone strikes them first... Now it is on the shoulders of President, the responsibility to save the world, by informing Russian premier, of the unpleasant situation.. 



President Merkin Muffley: Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room. 

[after learning of the Doomsday Machine]
President Merkin Muffley: But this is absolute madness, Ambassador! Why should you *build* such a thing?
Ambassador de Sadesky: There were those of us who fought against it, but in the end we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. At the same time our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines. Our doomsday scheme cost us just a small fraction of what we had been spending on defense in a single year. The deciding factor was when we learned that your country was working along similar lines, and we were afraid of a doomsday gap.
President Merkin Muffley: This is preposterous. I've never approved of anything like that.
Ambassador de Sadesky: Our source was the New York Times. 

General "Buck" Turgidson: Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines. 

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Borat is a Khazak journalist on a trip to USA to learn about their culture and thereby benefit his nation. Disguised comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, roams around the States, making pranks on unsuspecting people, famous and not. This movie is an insight into the cultural trends of the modern world. A must watch...



Borat: Although Kazakhstan a glorious country, it have a problem, too: economic, social, and Jew. 

Borat: What kind of dog is this?
Zookeeper: It's a tortoise.
Borat: Is it a cat in a hat?
Zookeeper: No... it's a tortoise in a shell. 

Borat: This is my country of Kazakhstan. It locate between Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, and assholes Uzbekistan. 

Wish you all a happy viewing :-)