Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Seetee bajaayaa jaaye!

There was this film Praan Jaye Par Shaan Na Jaye today on TV (Zee cinema, 12:30pm).

I remember it was released about four years back (I was in Mumbai then). The film did not have anyone with much star value (except may be Vijay Raaz -- and the posters did not have his face). Whatever little newspaper ads we got to see had a group of ladies (Raveena, Dia Mirza, Rinkie Khanna, Namrata Shirodkar, Divya Dutta..) and the film was gone in a week flat. One review said why people like Shivaji Satam are doing such useless films. A friend who saw it recently told me it is interesting, so I decided to check it out for some time.

I was hooked in about ten minutes. It has a parody/satire set up, the satire works most of the time. It also has scenes that appear forced and sequences that stretch. But what stood out was the presentation of women characters. The ladies (mind you, including Dia Mirza!) put in great performances and make sure it does not end up looking like an amateur drama. There were quite a few scenes where I could not resist whistling. ("Seetee", in desi language).

It was also refreshing to see the term "middle class" used in a better sense in a time when the word is often used to refer to the elite class just below the Ambanis and SRKs.

This one belongs to the ranks of Jane Bhi Do Yaaro. The guts quotient is even higher, as it dares to delve into areas that films (including JBDY) generally shy away from.

Taran Adarsh says the Sati track looks forced, but to me it did not seem so. That one also has a striking link to our times. When we are all going back in time -- and the rich and the powerful and the media are all helping it in every way they can -- glorifying anything done in the name of "beliefs", "religion" and "culture". (If the film was made today, I'm sure there would have been a reference to a certain "Manglik").

Even after all these interesting developments I was almost sure the ending would undo it all. It happens often with otherwise good comedy films. (I believe a funny Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani was undone in the last fifteen minutes). But surprise, surprise, the ending is too good -- The common man cameo and then an "irrelevant" song to top it! I am all happy tears by then.

* * *

The 2003 film is directed by Sanjay Jha (he pays for his guts -- this is the only film he has directed) and produced by Asoo Nihalani, Sagoon Wagh and Raj Lalchandani (cheers to all three of them).

DVD cover looks like this, in case you want to look for it.

[Links on the film:
IMDB entry;
Sanjay Jha comments at a review by filmiholic;
Review on Indiafm by Taran Adarsh]

* * *

Tailpiece: Saddest attempt at "feminism" I can remember in Bollywood is "Aamdani Atthanni Kharcha Rupaiya". "Astitva" and "Chandni Bar" were technically better but still sad in content. PJPSNJ is way ahead. (Interestingly, the former three had Tabu common).

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tree and me

"Is it the thirst before paper
That is getting suffocated in my poem?

Is it the song of green that you kept for the sun
That is coming out as a cry in my words?

Or, am I playing this game of words on a poem of yours?.."

For those who can not understand Malayalam; For those who are having trouble reading Malayalam fonts; And for those who have not yet visited Kavithakkoridam (A space for poetry). Thanks, Rasheed!

[image source: Marakkara, kavithakkoridam. courtesy k p rasheed]

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sad website for Cannes :-(

I was trying to check out the films in Competition and other sections at Cannes film festival. So I go to the official website of Festival de Cannes and get disappointed. The schedule of screenings is up, but many links lead you to this page that says "The content you have requested will be online soon. Please come back and check our site regularly."

For example, "In Competition" page (under "Official Selection") says "
Each year, about twenty feature films are selected to be in Competition and in the running for the Palme d'Or. They make up the main part of the Official Selection which is screened at the Grand Theatre Lumière.

Click here to see the full 2007 list."

You click and you are told "the content will be online soon". This holds for all sections under "Official Selection" and also to many other links on the festival page.

This is on May 17. GMT 4:27pm. The festival is from May 16 to 27, 2007.

This when they are celebrating 60 years of movies. The festival 2007 page boasts that "
2007 is not just any year for the Festival de Cannes, as not only do we reflect on sixty years of movie-making history but also look forward to what the future of film holds."

[Festival logo source: wikipedia]

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A birthday party

This story happens in the US of A.

It is a kid's birthday party.

He tells his mom he wants to call Elizabeth who's in his class.

Mom asks, "Is she white, or black?"

"Just a minute, I'll check with her."

* * *

This was supposed to be a joke. The innocence part is probably a bit exaggerated. But the conditioning that we go through in our early years, and the effect that is has on us, remains a fact.

I hear about a Jew who grew up in Canada. How the family members injected racism into their bloods when they were kids. How "saving Israel" became their first priority in life. And how she felt ashamed of it when she grew up and got to know more about Israel. And how she became an outsider, an "agent", at home..

Monday, May 14, 2007

Reservation Quota to be hiked to 95%

So goes an advertisement for Videocon Airconditioners. One of the most offensive ads I have seen in recent times. With a tagline "Stay cool No matter what". It wins the uncool ad award hands down.

The ad shows the front page of a newspaper "NOON NEWS" that carries this news:

Reservation Quota to be hiked to 95%

"The superior court today accepted the government's plea to increase reservation quota in educational institutes. High-profile institutes such as IISs and the IINs too, will now have to reserve almost 95% of their seats for candidates belonging to scheduled castes (SC) and backward class (BC) from the coming academic year.." (it goes on)

How is it that such a blatant mockery of people belonging to scheduled castes and backward classes passing off without a resistance? Or has everyone taken the tagline too seriously?

[Ad on the backside of Air Deccan magazine Simplifly May 2007 issue]

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother, you were ahead of time

["Many Native Americans regard the Milky Way as the path followed by the souls of the dead. According to the Zulu and Ndebele people of southern Africa, the stars are the eyes of dead ancestors, keeping watch on the living from above", Encyclopedia of Myths]

Mom and dad, a rare moment

The dead people becoming stars and blinking at you from the skies seems to be one piece of imagination that cuts across civilizations. Priyadarshan used it in his first big hit Chithram in Malayalam. Men and women wiped their eyes when Mohanlal asked Ranjini to look for him in the sky. "O the blinking stars, among you I seek the pretty faces that left me.." goes one song in another Malayalam film Purappad.

So has my mother become a star too? May be.

But as far as I know, she has always been a star.

With absolutely no intentions to compromise, with an immense desire to break free of the bonds that tied her, she traveled ahead in time. It is no wonder that she could not stretch it long.

(It is better to live a tiger's life for a day than live a dog's life a hundred years, my dad used to tell me. With no disrespect to the dog's life, I take the spirit of that saying.)

It will take many people like her before mothers become more than that.

Two years back for a Mother's day I wrote on what I learnt from her, thanks to rediff. After her death, I first wrote this and then this. This mother's day when I sit down to write on her again, I realize she is very much alive.

[in the pic: mom and dad, a rare scene]

People choose BSP in UP

Today I remember another May 13 post that appeared three years back on this diary. Titled "Nobody's India", that short post read, "The people of India have shown that nobody could take them for granted. The democracy is the winner, as Sidhu would put it:)"

I am happy to see BSP coming to power in UP and that too with a clear majority.

The multi-sided contests have done good to UP. In particular, SP and BSP have revolutionized the way UP vote.

There's this one Yadav who runs a xerox shop in Kanpur. He offers puja at a framed photograph of Mulayam Singh Yadav. He says he never voted in an election till Mulayam came. Not because he didn't have his GOD to vote for, but because the OBCs were not allowed to vote. The Brahmins and Kshatriyas took charge of the polling booths.

Former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao called it a miracle of democracy (that an untouchable is becoming a CM) when Mayavati came to power for the first time, in 1995. That miracle couldn't have been possible without the social revolution that has taken place since late eighties.

* * *

What relates the UP results to 2004 general election results is the way the poll predictions, opinion polls and exit polls have all gone for a toss. That time everyone was sure of a second term for NDA, and this time nobody had an element of doubt it would be a hung assembly, and also that BJP would get considerable number of seats. Some flashback: Landslide for Atal, Feb 2 2004. Media obsession: Elections: Vajpayee vs Sonia?, Feb 12 and ToI working overtime, Mar 18.

* * *

[image from Sunday Express, April 29 2007]

Thursday, May 10, 2007


The festival starts today at Thrissur, Kerala. Focus of the year is Earth. See VIBGYOR International Film Festival: Celebrating Identities and diversity.

And schedule.

Don't abuse the E-word

A three month old kid loses father. By "mistake".

"Dibrugarh, May 6: ..The 6 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles shot dead 24-year-old Budheswar Moran “on suspicion” of being a hardcore Ulfa militant. It said the “encounter” occurred at Laopatty in Assam’s Tinsukia district.

Budheswar’s family and those who knew him, however, insisted he was a watchman at a tea estate.

The resident of Kordoiguri village, under Doomdooma police station, was married with two children, the younger barely three months old.." (The Telegraph, Monday May 7, 2007)

And today's paper says: "..“The killing of Budheswar Moran was an unfortunate incident and my heart goes out to the innocent family members of the victim. Let me assure you that all those found guilty will face strict and exemplary punishment,” the general-officer-commanding of the Dinjan-based 2 Mountain Division, Maj. Gen. N.C. Marwah, said at a hurriedly organised media conference at Tinsukia Circuit House.." (Killing was a mistake: army).

Why do we continue to abuse the E-word? Especially in the north-eastern states where army has the power to kill anyone on mere suspicion and get away with it?

[Earlier post: Conflicts]

* * *

Follow-up (added on May 13): Army apology cuts no ice - Tinsukia to Lower Assam, highways under siege (The Telegraph, May 11)
"Dibrugarh, May 10: The army’s apology for mistakenly killing Budheswar Moran may have prompted his family to finally accept and cremate the body today, but it did little to stem the tide of protests over the incident.

[Image: Moran's widow with younger child.]

A 5,000-strong crowd blocked National Highway 37 at Doomdooma even as Moran’s family, relatives and friends accepted his body, which had been lying in a Tinsukia morgue since Sunday.."

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Messi magic: replay

A friend gives link to the Messi goal on youtube. (A report: Messi in Maradona tribute)

The mail says: "el gol de Sa: messi contra el getafe... recordando aquél gol del Sa: diego en méxico '86 contra Inglaterra.."

For those who don't understand Spanish, there is Google translate tool: "the goal of Sa: messi against getafe… remembering that one goal of the Sa: Diego in Mexico '86 against England.." (Sa: is short for Malayalam Sakhav, a word that means comrade or pal).

[Here is the original Maradona goal, also on youtube]

I, like other Argentine fans, never understood the logic in keeping Messi out of the crucial quarter final match against Germany. (And that infamous Riquelme pull out.. O my god I don't want to remember that game!)

Friday, May 04, 2007

See bottom logo on the sidebar

no rights reserved
Thanks for sharing and reusing the contents of this diary.

Of Vagina Experiences and Music, in Kerala

"What does this word mean?
And in kerala?.."

Gargi tells us her experiences at a Pattu Kalari (Music Workshop) that was held recently at Vagamon, Kottayam district, Kerala.

And she puts the lyrics of one song they composed at the workshop: My name is clitoris.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington starrer Philadelphia was apparently the true story of an attorney who sued the world's largest law firm for firing him because he had AIDS, despite the filmmakers originally claiming it to be "fictional". (Reuters: Lawyer says "Philadelphia" is true story). Now the film has the following message at the end credits: "This motion picture was inspired in part by Geoffrey BowersAIDS discrimination lawsuit, the courage and love of the Angius family and the struggles of the many others who, along with their loved ones, have experienced discrimination because of AIDS."

Revathy adapted it in Hindi as Phir Milenge (We Will Meet Again), with Shilpa Shetty and Salman Khan in the lead. In the Indian version, though, Shilpa Shetty's character does not suffer from AIDS, and stays healthy till the end of the film. The emphasis was that being HIV positive does not mean AIDS.

And then last November-December, in a Kerala society that boasts of being "educated" and "cultured", Five HIV-positive children were expelled from a school after protests from parents of other children. Their future of those students is still hanging in uncertainty, and I'm not sure if they were allowed to appear for the annual examinations this March..

(Around the same time, a group of members of the neighbourhood made a big scene against cremating the dead body of a person died of AIDS. Also in Kerala.)

When do we grow up as a society?

[Image: Phir Milenge, from Times Online, UK]

Govt kills husband, then wife, and admits it in court..!

You thought that was some joke? I did, even after reading this news in all leading newspapers (to make sure I did not read it wrong).. I still can't believe many who are ruling us are not only unjust and mindless but also shameless!

* * *

"In a shocking revelation, the Gujarat Government on Monday admitted before the Supreme Court that Kausar Bi, wife of fake encounter victim Sohrabuddin Sheikh, has been killed and her body burnt.

"She has been killed," Gujarat Government counsel K T S Tulsi and Hemantika Wahi told a Bench headed by Justice Tarun Chatterjee during the mentioning hours.."
(Cops killed Kausar Bi, admits Gujarat, The Indian Express)

* * *

"The Gujarat government on Monday told the Supreme Court that Kauser Bi, wife of fake encounter victim Sohrabuddin Sheikh, has been killed.."
(Gujarat confirms Kauser Bi's death to SC, The Times of India)

* * *

"The Gujarat Government on Monday admitted in the Supreme Court that Kausar Bi, wife of Sohrabuddin, was murdered a few days after he was killed in a fake encounter.."
(`Kausar Bi was killed, burnt', The Hindu)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

None of them is me (Female voice - Lyrics)

(at least as of now)

i can not be what i am
i can not just be me
i'm asked to play out a number of roles
none of them is me
so at least as of now
let me play out those roles
and do that in style..

stay away from me
stay away from me
i'd rather not have you near
when i can not be me

(i can take a back-seat
show cold storage to dreams
it sure does burn me, but
i will pretend it does not)

i love you dear, but the world won't let me have you
i love you dear, but reality kills me
i am dead, but i don't want you to die
i can't stand you seeing me die..

i can feel the pain
that you are through
but there will be a time
when you come to terms with it
and then come out of it..
(i know, with some deep wound scars
that make good identity marks..)

leave me to burn alone
leave me on my own
i have to be cruel to tell
don't care for me..

i love you dear, but the world won't let me have you
i love you dear, but reality kills me
i am dead, but i don't want you to die
i am dead, and i want you alive..

(for R)