Sunday, January 31, 2010


Last night was a washout. Herbert and I met up looking for a watering hole. We were thinking Toto's but then decided on Adda near the Andheri Sports Complex. Only on reaching there did we realise that it was a dry day owing to Gandhiji's death anniversary.

We shrugged off our disappointment and went off to Juhu Beach. Over chanachur garam and a very very long walk, the two friends discussed life as it is now, the work scene and obviously, what life was like in Calcutta (Herbert told me of this funny anecdote about a friend of ours who once dodged Herbert's mom's mindful eye to play Holi even though he had fever and had just gulped down a Crocin). The long walk over, we settled for kala-khatta and then headed off to Shiv Sagar for paav-bhaji and masala dosa.

Today morning, caught up with Motee and the Apsara on the phone before heading off to Infiniti to catch up with the Panda and a couple of other folks for a showing of Ishqiya. It is a brilliant movie. Vishal Bhardwaj's films seem to have perfected the art-form where they excite the hardcore movie-buff as well as entertain the mango people. Ishqiya is as good as any Western you'll see. Full marks to debutant director Abhishek Chaubey. Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi and Vidya Balan are a treat to watch as they capture the look and feel of Uttar Pradesh not only in their costumes but also in their language. The three-way showdown at the climax of the film is as good as the one in Kaminey. I have already mentioned Ibn-E-Batuta and Dil To Bachcha Hai Jee earlier on the blog, but there's also this Rekha Bhardwaj number called Badi Dheere Jali which you must watch out for. Also, the use of old Hindi songs as pointers throughout the film are a treat.

The film was followed by lunch at Masala Mantar. Had a Caipiroska for the first time. Looks a lot like Mojito, but is different and ah! very refreshing. Good food, good conversation and also caught up on the first two sets of the finals of the Australian Open between Federer and Andy Murray. Federer was making Murray run to all parts of the court and the Panda couldn't help commenting that the match would be over in 3 sets (he turned out to be correct, after all).

Oh and yes, we went off to Landmark after the movie. I caught up on my monthly budget of a Batman graphic novel (Hush) and a Wodehouse (Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit). Also, stumbled upon a Rough Guide to the Lord of the Rings. Over at lunch, Kunal (the Panda's friend) told me to search YouTube for 'The Hunt for Gollum'.

True to Kunal's word, this is a brilliant film. All Lord Of The Rings fans would love this. It is so well made, you'll find it hard to believe that these are just amateurs who've made this movie without help from a big budget studio or any huge funding.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Three day break

Righto. That was pretty quick. As it turns out, three days turned out to be quite a short stint in Cal. (Must figure out a way to take a long chutti; haven’t taken one in 3 years since I joined this company and I think me system needs it… pretty soon!!)

Attended a rocking sangeet party at the Park Hotel followed the next evening by the wedding itself. Felt awesome to catch up with oldest of friends from school times. The fact that it was a hard-core Punju wedding wasn’t lost on anybody – the dulha atop the ghodi had the first swig from a bottle of whisky to kick-off the baraat celebrations! Fir kya tha? The bottle was handed from one eager baraati to another till we’d downed most of it neat. What’s more, I even found the answer to why for some unknown reason baraat-bands play “Yeh desh hai veer jawanon ka” on such occasions. Old friend Doc explained, “It takes a lot of courage to sit atop a ghodi and gallop towards what is inevitably going to be the end of your happy life.” Go figure.

I must admit, though, that I spent most of the time in Calcutta just catching up on sleep. Slept like a log on Sunday afternoon and also most of today. But that was a given. Last night, after the wedding, I headed off to Lambu’s place with Bulla and Budhau. God alone knows why Horse didn’t make it.

Lambu’s place in Salt Lake has now become special for me. Our gang has now spent quite a few merry hours there just doing the college-gang like thing; eat Maggi or order for pizza, have a beer or three (no, that wasn’t a typo) and generally just catch up on each other’s lives. Last evening was no different. Of course, all the neat whisky from the shaadi got to me and I dozed off at the first given opportunity (I’m sure these folks, especially Lambu, must’ve abused me to hell and back for being a spoilsport) but not before introducing Lambu & Budhau to the pleasures of The Big Bang Theory. This was the first time they saw a couple of episodes of the said sitcom, and I think we might have new followers. As for me, I was just very happy to have caught a glimpse of Penny after a long time!! ~evil grin~

By the way, I was on radio today evening!! A senior friend who knows a RJ in Mumbai messaged me that I must be ready to speak about a patriotic film that I really like. I said cool and promptly decided upon Lagaan (I was planning on saying how it was a non-violent version of patriotism and showed India’s unity in diversity beautifully in the rag-tag cricket team that Bhuwan put together). Only later in the evening did I find out that the RJ herself was going to speak about Lagaan!! Thank heavens I was prepared with a back-up plan and blurted out Border as my second favorite. When I did finally go live on air, the phone line was pretty noisy but I managed to strain and hear the RJ. I hope I sounded decent on live radio… don’t know whether it would match up to my “Hindustan Ki Awaaz” bit from Nirma though (I had done the voice over as “Hindustan Ki Awaz” in a spoof on Mughal-E-Azam that our juniors had done. The fact that it was my voice which had a slight baritone timbre had surprised all. Damn!! How I wish I could get my hands on a copy of that audio file).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Power of the Secret anyone?

Like I said on Twitter, blogged at 3 in the morning about Ishqiya and bumped into (from left) Abhishek Chaubey (director), the producer of Ishqiya and Arshad Warsi at the Mumbai airport.

@Nvavi on Twitter says he's gonna blog about Angelina Jolie tonight. All the best dude!! :D

Mixed Feelings

After a good 6 months away from home, I'm now just a couple of hours away from taking a flight to Calcutta. I return with a mixed bag of emotions. A childhood friend is about to embark on the grand adventure called marriage. On the other hand, my eldest maasi passed away yesterday and I don't know how to face Mom.

Still, I look forward to sharing in the joys and sorrows of near and dear ones and what better place than Calcutta, a city I shall always call home, no matter where life takes me.

Biscuit called today evening and it was a joy, like always, to speak to her. I love the fact that she's again involved with theatre, albeit in a little way, and living her passion from one Sunday to the next.

Biscuit reminds me of her so-called-sweetheart (ha ha ha) Herbert. It's been more than two weeks since I met him. I wish I could beat the fellow into a pulp. A couple of months ago when we went to Ahmedabad, Dipan bhai had given me a saree to give to Mom. I asked Herbert to keep it for me since I didn't have space in my bag then. The idiot has been forgetting to give it to me ever since. Hmph.

I have the Ibn-e-Batuta song from Ishqiya stuck in my head. Really started liking Dil to Bachha Hai Jee too, now that I've heard it a couple of times. I just love the music of Vishal Bharadwaj. It has this rustic "desh ki mitti" mahek to it which is just incredible. Of course, one can't forget the great Gulzar for bringing the tale of Ibn-e-Batuta to a whole new generation. From Kajra Re to Beedi Jalai Le to Ibn-e-Batuta. Wow!!

Have finally finished reading Volume 1 of the complete adventures of Feluda by Satyajit Ray (blame all those Batman graphic novels in the middle for the delay). I became a fan of Satyajit Ray's writings when I read "Indigo" way back in school. Feluda mysteries just confirm what a master story-teller Ray was. He wrote these detective stories & novels for a very young audience and hence (much to his chagrin, as he often confessed) had to leave out much violence or crimes of passion. If anything, the lack of such instruments only add a certain boyish charm to the stories. In any case, these characters and situations are so gripping that they very naturally attracted adults as well. Who could blame them? To share an example, if the story has the detective and his young assistant (who does the Watson bit by being the narrator of these tales) spending a night in a dak bungalow in a forest in the North Eastern part of the country, ruminating over the murder of an occupant the previous evening and suddenly they hear the roar of a Royal Bengal Tiger... boy, that makes for one good story!!

Coming back to the Batman graphic novels... they were freaking brilliant!! Having read a couple of these graphic novels now, it is so exciting to see the manner in which the tale is told by the artists. No doubt you have good story writers writing these gripping episodes, but so much goes into the art work and "showing" these to the reader. Batman punching the Joker can be shown from four different points of view (Batman's, the Joker's, a bystander's or a bird's eye view) but which one of these will have the maximum impact on the reader?

I have now read The Long Halloween, Dark Victory and Batman: Year One. Still have The Dark Knight Strikes Again to read. I have also been making visits to the Landmark at Infiniti Mall at Andheri in the hopes of getting my hands on The Killing Joke but have been returning empty-handed thus far. Must thank THE big fat Panda for all his recommendations on the graphic novels. Every time I'm in a conundrum as to which graphic novel to buy, I immediately call him and he is always glad to help.

I went to see Sherlock Holmes on the opening weekend with the Panda, a couple of his other friends and G&G (Granpa & Granma). Absolutely loved the movie (so much so that I went and watched it again last week). I told the Panda how thankful I was that there are hard-core "commercial" film makers like Tarantino, Guy Ritchie & Vishal Bharadwaj (there goes Ibn-e-Batuta in my head again) who have such a stylish way of making films. I thought Robert Downey Jr. was good and does justice to his role by not playing a version of Holmes as that which must be trapped inside the purists' head. But what I felt must also be applauded was Jude Law as Watson, an ex-army doctor who doesn't believe in holding back his punches. The action sequences were good, especially the boxing match where Holmes goes through visualizing exactly how he is going to floor his opponent and then proceeds to do so with precision. Rachel McAdams is good as the mischevious and cunning Irene Adler, but frankly, did her role have much to do beyond introducing the intriguing character of Professor Moriarty (who remains in the shadows in this film so that he may make a redux in the next installment)? Must also mention that I loved the background score by Hans Zimmer. I thought this guy was good in Batman Begins and bloody brilliant in The Dark Knight. Here again, he works his magic and brings a very English-Irish touch. Oh, and don't miss out on the Dubliners singing The Rocky Road to Dublin in the background of the aforementioned boxing match.

Okay, enough for now. Gotta scoot and pack my bags. It's already 3 in the morning and must leave house at 7:30. Be good, say your prayers and drink lotsa milk. Cheers!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Jai Shri Krishna Maasi

One distinctly gets the feeling that life is a bizarre on-the-edge journey.

I sometimes wonder whether we’re really awake during what we consider our “waking” hours. Or is it all just a dream, a clever elaborate illusion that we live in, and that we’re actually going to really just wake up and find out the truth when we at last close our eyes to shut out the chimera that surrounds us.

It must take courage, a lot of it, just to get up and take that next step forward. I salute every champion who does. I salute them because they aren’t super-heroes who’ve descended on earth and are a different being – they’re flesh and blood… like you and me.

Here I am, missing my aunt who passed away today afternoon. I hadn’t met her many times in the last couple of years, but yes, I was fond of her. Her passing away is a part of childhood gone which now I shall only cherish in my memories. My fondest memory will be that of her watering the tulsi plant on the terrace of her 2 storey dilapidated building in Bada Bazaar, a teeming market-place cum residential area in old Calcutta, while I ran about desperately, a 5 year old looking for a place to hide in order to win a game of hide and seek from maasi’s daughter. Maasi being the eldest of Mom’s sisters shared an almost mother-daughter relationship with Mom, so you can imagine the kind smile she gave me whenever I would touch her feet.

May God bless her soul and may She rest in peace.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Bas ek hi dua hai

Na poochiye kahaan kahaan khuda ka ghar bana diya
Jahaan woh yaad aa gaya wahi pe sar jhuka diya
Main khaali haath aaya aur khaali hath chal diya
Kisi ko maine kya diya, kisi se maine kya liya