Monthly Archives: January 2014

Dedh Ishqiya : One and a half times more fun

Most times when I’m sitting down to watch a cricket match, the first two balls do it for me.

The way the batsman meets the first ball gives me a fair idea of how the match is going to go. It doesn’t work all the time, and I’m not going to say, ‘IF IT DOESN’T WORK, I WILL SHAVE MY HEAD. JAI MATA DI’ or anything like that. But the first few minutes generally show the way.

When Dedh Ishqiya begins, you know things have been set up nicely for you.

When I saw the trailers of Ishqiya a few years ago, I knew it would be a winner. The chemistry between Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi is such, that I wouldn’t be surprised if they suddenly broke into a rain song and kissed each other.

 

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There is something about Naseeruddin Shah. He shines when there are good actors around him. It’s like ‘Good Acting’ auras are bouncing off the room when he’s with someone who can act. His iconic pairing with Om Puri is testimony to this theory. When there’s a partner at the other end, Shah mutates into a fabulous, other-worldly magician.

But when there is general morony happening, Naseeruddin Shah looks bored. Like in the last film I watched of his, John Day – there was something missing. It was like he had had three pegs and was frantically looking for the fourth, but someone was keeping it away from him.

In Dedh Ishqiya, he has his work cut out, and neatly placed in piles in front of him. Thanks primarily to Arshad Warsi. Playing the loud, rustic, vulgar Babban, Warsi begins the film like he had spent the last four years hanging around the sets, waiting for the sequel to come out.

The stuff of Tushar Kapoor's nightmares.

The stuff of Tushar Kapoor’s nightmares.

Not a foot wrong, not an expression astray, Warsi manages to steal some screen presence even with Naseeruddin Shah at the other end. There is an edginess to him – like he could shoot your balls off while telling you a joke. And Warsi manages to remain that edgy person, not once coming off as vapid.

 

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And just when you’ve settled into your seat, and you’re smelling the food that you’ve ordered, pleased with its fragrance and taste, you discover that the chef has a surprise for you.

By the name of Vijay Raaz.

 

There are few moments in Hindi cinema, that can rival Vijay Raaz going batshit crazy on screen. Having perfected the pursed lips – say-what-you-want-I’m-going-to-slap-you expression, Vijay Raaz is an absolute delight.

when vijay raaz goes crazy

His frustrations with shayari, his frustration with his henchmen, and his frustration with the entire universe in general – has been squeezed out, drop for delicious drop. One needs to watch his duels with Naseeruddin Shah in the most enjoyable swayamwar in recent years, to know what I’m talking about.

Which brings us to Madhuri Dixit.

Madhuri Dixit, who had retired from films after marriage, had made a comeback with Aaja Nachle in 2007, but the audiences said ‘Nay nay’. Inspired by Yousuf Youhana, she retired again and made a comeback with Dedh Ishqiya. 

She still can dance, as the makers of the films leave no stone unturned in making sure you acknowledge. But as for her performance – so compelling are Warsi and Shah’s performances, that Madhuri Dixit is reduced to playing third fiddle.

 

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The real champion of the film, however, is Vishal Bharadwaj. India’s only true auteur, Bharadwaj, who has produced, written, done the screenplay, music, and written the dialogues, is in splendid form.

The dialogues in the film crackle with life, lighting up what would otherwise have been ordinary moments. Unlike Bhansali’s films, where languages (English in Black, Gujurati in Raam Leela) seem to isolate you from the world being shown to you, the language in Dedh Ishqiya is inviting.

You don’t understand much of it in the beginning, but so earnest seems the endeavor, that you want to strain yourself, in order to catch every word. The pastel coloured world of nawaabs and begums, the fading green walls, the large kitches, the servants attending to masters in their lawns – the world lights up like magic in front of your eyes.

My only grudge with Dedh Ishqiya is that it plays itself out long enough to become a Dhai Ghantiya, but then we live in a country where a party comes to power, and people begin to criticise it within a week.

Keeping such pretty complaints aside, Dedh Ishqiya is a mighty enjoyable film.

If you watched Dhoom 3 and contributed to that shitfest that guzzled up 500 crores from our already fatigued economy, you owe this one to the institution of Cinema.

Make up for that blunder. Go watch Dedh Ishqiya.

24

*Tring Tring*

The woman walks up to the phone and picks up the receiver.

‘Hello?’

‘Hello, Tisca?’

‘Who’s this?’

‘Haha…jhakaaaas. It’s me.’

‘Hey! Anil. Long time.’

‘Hey, Tisca. You want to act in a serial? I’m also in it.’

‘Uhm…no, Anil. Ab woh din kahaan rahe?’

‘Hey come, no? It’ll be fun. Mandira is also there. And Anita Raj also. It’ll be like the old days..’

‘Oh…ok. But what about the producers and all…?’

‘Haha..I’m the producer…haha jhakaaaAASSSS !!!!’

 

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For those who generally have lives, I would like to bring to your attention that the television show 24 recently concluded on Colors TV.

I have always maintained that it is impossible to watch Indian television for more than on hour. But since each episode of 24 is 45 minutes, I watched it.

24-Indian-Television-Show-Pardaphash-96609

Based on the American franchise of the same name, each season of the show has 24 episodes, depicting 24 hours in the life of a cop. Anil Kapoor, who acted in one of the seasons of the American version, brought the show to India.

I began watching the show, and interestingly, during the promotion, Anil Kapoor spoke about how the technicians on the show are from America and its all being done professionally and it will be something that hasn’t been seen on Indian televisions yet.

I was curious to see how the story would be adapted to an Indian context.

And boy, did they adapt!

 

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Let me begin with a brief introduction of the characters in the show.

 

The show is about Anil Kapoor who plays an officer in the Anti Terrorist Unit, who has to protect the life of a young politician who’s to take oath the next day as the Prime Minister of the nation.

 

Aditya Singhania: A Prime Minister in waiting. This person belongs to a family that has been involved in politics for years, and looks like a 40 year old, moderately good looking person. He’s always dressed in khadi jackets and has a somber expression on his face, which could be due to the fact that his father was assassinated in a conspiracy.

Naina Singhania: Is Aditya’s mother. She controls the party and is a sharp, shrewd woman.

Divya Singhania: Is Aditya’s sister, who is married to a businessman. She is a wise person, and is often the voice of reason for Aditya.

Prithvi Singhania: Is Aditya’s cousin. He is a loudmouth, someone who schemes against Aditya.

Rahul Singh: Aditya’s brother in law, doesn’t do much on the show. Appears once in a while, but is generally shown as a useless guy with some shady deals.

Ravinder: Is an outlaw militant leader, who is dark, has a thick moustache, and speaks with a Tamil accent. He leads an outfit called LTFE, and they’re trying to assassinate the Prime Minister in waiting.

 

Well played, guys. Very subtle. Take a bow-wow.

 

 

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But then, if they were going the whole hog, why couldn’t they go all the way? Why take half measures?

You know what would have hooked me on to the show?

If they had someone play Sanjay Gandhi.

‘Cos if they did, the show would have to be rechristened 48.

For Sanjay Gandhi was the most colourful personality in the most celebrated family of the most densely populated nation in the world.

 

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While most in our generation wouldn’t know much about Sanjay Gandhi, reading up on him is a fascinating exercise. It’s a life that’s straight out of a Darren Arofonsky movie.

The eldest son of Indira Gandhi, Sanjay was very comfortable in his skin as the scion of the family.

Having an interest in automobiles, fast cars, and airplanes from childhood, Sanjay Gandhi was given a three year internship with Rolls Royce, without even a college degree. He decided to skip in the second year and returned to India.

 

In 1971, Sanjay Gandhi was allowed to found Maruti Udyog, the company which partnered with Suzuki to produce a ‘People’s Car’. The once ubiquitous Maruti 800 was born from the project, but while Sanjay was alive, not a single car was produced. The one singular car that was exhibited stopped running after a distance.

With the declaration of the Emergency, Sanjay Gandhi was touted to be the most powerful person in the nation. Without so much as an official position of power in the country, he transferred officers, set up offices, dismissed people – as and when it pleased him.

After a trip to Europe, he found the slums of Delhi too dirty for his taste, and had over 70,000 people evacuated to the other side of the Yamuna. In the protests, over 150 people died. When Kishore Kumar refused to perform at an event, his songs were banned from the All India Radio.

With desires like wanting to open casinos in the Himalayas, Sanjay Gandhi started a number of programmes and initiatives. Like the one thing that people associate with him even today – the Compulsory Sterelization programme. Since the population of the country was increasing at an astonishing rate, people were offered gifts to voluntarily sterilize themselves. When that didn’t work out, the programme turned into a bizarre scenario where government doctors were given targets to sterilize people. Thousands were sterilized, many of them involuntarily.

 

Sanjay Gandhi’s death was as eventful as his life. He was flying an aircraft, trying to perform a loop over his office. The plane crashed and an Air Force captain died with him.

 

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Now, my dear writer brothers and sisters, if you are portraying the entire family anyway, why not go the whole hog?

It’d be so cool to have a total badass on the show.

A guy who does whatever he wants to do. And they should have cast Asrani to essay the role. Or Sanjay Kapoor.

The character should have gone batshit crazy on the show. Like getting Shweta Tiwari to do an item number in the middle of show. Just because.

Or show him shooting some cops, paragliding from the Parliament, and then becoming Monkey Man in the night to terrorise innocent residents.

Now that, would have gotten my attention.

 

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Sadly, creative thoughts are seldom appreciated in our world.

So the show went about its motions. Anil Kapoor ran around and looked serious. And in the 24 most important hours in the life of the top ATU officer, his wife confronts his colleague about their past relationship.

You know, kyunki wife bhi kabhi girlfriend thi.

 

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*Tring tring*

The man looks a little fat, but his good looks can melt wood and metal alike. He walks to the phone and answers it.

‘Hello? Kaun hai be?’

‘Haha. Kaisa hai boss?’

‘Oye, bidu. Bata, kaisa hai?’

‘Oye, Jackie. Acting karega? Mera show hai. Second season aa raha hai.’

‘Bidu…sahi bola. Lekin main hero banega.’

‘Haha. Hero toh apun hai…haha…jhakaaaAAASSS.’

 

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Suggested Reading: The Sanjay Story by Vinod Mehta

The Joy of Sleeping in the Afternoon

If you look at the journey of man, purely from the point of view of a Homo Sapien, you will find that the journey hasn’t been all that bad.

We have evolved from cave-dwelling, club-wielding barbarians to people whose lives are a lot easier. In some ways, we are still spending our lives in providing for our food, clothing and cave, but one cannot deny that the journey has become smoother.

Somewhere along the line, someone invented books, cars, and mobile phones. Someone or the other came up with all those little inventions that constitute our life today. We can predict some of the ways that nature will act in, and have invented medicines that cure most illnesses. Someone also fucked a chimpanzee somewhere in the timeline, but let’s focus on the good bits for now.

If the Man of Today met the Man of the Cave, and the two of them sat down to talk, there will be some nostalgia involved. Some things will be laughed at, some appreciated, while some will be spoken of fondly. Like getting to mate with anyone you want, when the moon is full in the sky.

Or sleeping in the afternoon.

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Sleeping in the afternoon is one of life’s stolen joys.

Over the years, we have fashioned a life where sleeping in the afternoons doesn’t figure in the day anymore. It is left to the realm of the useless, the old, the children, and the drunkards.

While work constitutes the majority of our day, anything else – a hobby, a passion, or other banal endeavors like pursuing members of the other gender – are left for the night. But where is the strength and the energy? How can you pursue any of it if you feel drained and weary?

Taking a nap in the afternoon keeps you fresh. A lot of people say that sleeping after lunch makes you fat. That it is not good for your health. But unless it is manual labour that you’re involved in, I don’t see how it makes any difference. Sitting in front of the computer doesn’t really set your adrenaline rushing. You are groggy, heavy, and half –asleep anyway. On the other hand, taking the nap in the afternoon energises you, making you revitalizing you for the other side of you.

A nice, sound nap in the afternoon is also of assistance when you want to drown out the madness of the day. Let’s face it, living can be problematic. India is not the most pleasant nation to live with anyway, but even if we were in the happiest nation in the world, living everyday life is a jigsaw of a thousand, chaotic, small requirements. Just surviving requires you to interact, to understand, to explain, to negotiate, to imbibe, decode, and transfer. But take a nap in the afternoon and see.

Like an invisible blanket, everything fades out into a quiet, calming silence. The noise, the chaos, the need to understand and be understood – all of them float out of your body like smooth, smoky fumes for a few hours. You wake up purged, pure. Like a monk after hours of meditation.

As your body adjusts to your naps, your body clocks operates accordingly. You make the most of your mornings, with the awareness that you have a few hours for yourself coming up. Even the most fiercest of storms at work cannot deter you, because you know that just for a few hours, you can lie back and think about things, till you’ve stopped thinking about things.

A nap in the afternoon is a powerful feeling – it gives you the power to pause. To pause this maddening world that is sprinting. To hold the remote in your hands and pause it, and then rewind it, and play back the bits that you liked.

It gives you the power to reduce everything else into a drone. Whether it is the noise of a train, the bustle of people, or the noise of a mosque, a factory, or a fishmarket, you can reduce it into nothingness– a noise in the background that can be neglected for a few hours – a wisp of reality. But most of all, a nap in the afternoon is a hidden indulgence.

You are stealing away that time from the day. It is yours, a sinful, forbidden indulgence that no one can take away from you.

And as you close the windows and pull the curtains, and your room is bathed in a light, dreamy shade, and the fan begins to whir in a steady rhythm, you know that in the next few hours, nothing can trouble you.

The room is dark now, and the windows have been closed. The fan is rotating on its axis in a low, steady hum. I can hear a few voices from outside, but they don’t belong to my world. The voices have begun to fade away, as a few birds chirp in the distance.

I am lying down on my bed, my feet covered by my blanket, and I wait for sleep to come and take me.

I shall see you on the other side.

Good afternoon!