Monthly Archives: February 2014

No way!!

Disclaimer:

  • If you haven’t watched Highway, please go ahead and watch it.
  • If you have watched Highway, go ahead and read the blog.
  • If you like Jackie Shroff, you’re cool.

highway-movie-still-15

Right from the trailers, there was no doubt what Highway would be about. Stockholm Syndrome, the scenario when a hostage falls in love with his/her kidnapper.

So clearly, it was just a case of how, and not what.

Highway is a difficult film to ease into. The first ten minutes are montage shots of a truck going through different terrains, and a marriage video where women are selecting sarees for the wedding.

And then, the girl gets kidnapped, and taken hostage.

Journeys have been a leit-motif of Imtiaz Ali films. Jab We Met was about a couple who discover their love for each other over two journeys. Love Aaj Kal spoke about the journeys we need to embark on, for love, illustrated through parallel stories from two generations. And Socha Na Tha was…err…the beginning of Abhay Deol’s journey in cinema.

Now, this is where the problems in the film begin. The girl is kidnapped, and suddenly, she realises that she’s actually enjoying it. Enjoying the grandeur of nature, the open spaces, open air and the smiling sun, and other such first world luxuries.

She’s been manhandled, felt up, gagged, made to sleep in a dumpyard, and yet when she wakes up, she starts talking animatedly.

Here, as a viewer you are wondering: ‘What’s wrong with her? Why is she talking so much?’

Just then, Alia Bhat stops and thinks aloud, ‘Hey, what’s wrong with me? Why am I talking so much?’

A few scenes later, the police are searching the truck, and instead of escaping, she chooses to hide inside the truck. At this juncture, you as a viewer are wondering, ‘Is she going mad? Why didn’t she escape?’

As if on cue, she thinks aloud, ‘Hey! Am I going mad? Why didn’t I escape?’

But in true Bollywood style, these are minor hiccups. As we all know, when lauvv has to happen, lauvv will happen.

And so when the trucker tells her that his mother used to sing him songs as a kid, she tells him, ‘Tum mujhe kaafi cute lagne lage ho.’ To put this in perspective, it is like Scarlett Johansson sending me a friend’s request, and then commenting ‘Oooh, so sexy you are. Proud to be your friend, ya!’ on my pictures.

*

As befuddled as the viewer, is the poor trucker. Randeep Hooda, playing an intense and brooding man for the absolutely first time in his entire career, fails to understand what’s wrong with the girl.

[INSERT ERIC CLAPTON VIDEO: ‘COCAINE’]

 

The basic premise of the film is so contrived, it’s hard to empathise with the protagonist. In  today’s India, when how we treat women is such a large issue, when sparrows have gone extinct in Delhi in the presence of burly men, would a girl really be enjoy being kidnapped?

Not only does the heroine fall in love, she goes one up, and experiences what I like to call the ‘Bollywood Heroine Chhota Sa Ghar Complex’.

Whenever a rich girl in a Hindi film gets kidnapped, or stranded, she will want to have a small house, away from the rest of the world, just her and the hero – their small house of happiness. An adult version of the House-House game that kids play.

And so the two find a house, and start living in it. She cooks him Maggi, sweeps the house, and prepares a bed for the two of them. And then, shit hits the AC. So our trucker guy, who has killed three men, kidnaps women from roads, and carries a gun in his bag when he travels in a bus, refuses to go into the house. So transformed is the man, that he doesn’t want to make the sexay time with the girl.

I am sure this happens in the People’s Republic of Karan Johar, but in our world, it is simply too far-fetched to believe.

The point about her having a troubled past seems hollow. She could have spoken to her father. He is shown as a sensible, caring person, the only cruel thing he’s ever done is to give her an anaesthetic against her will.

Imtiaz Ali, slowly but surely, has become the King of Unexplained Angst.

In Love Aaj Kal, the hero is torn because the girl he loves (who also loves him back) is getting married to another man. He refuses to do anything about it, and then lands there a week after the marriage.

In Rockstar, our hero is angsty because he whisked away his lover, who was another man’s wife, to the Himalayas. In the Himalayas, he gets the terminally ill woman pregnant, and then is angry when she succumbs to the complications.

And in Highway, a kidnapping serves as a coming-of-age for the woman, who rebels against her life by choosing to live with her kidnapper, who hasn’t even acknowledged his love once, but has threatened to sell her to a brothel twice.

‘Is this love?’

‘Maine na jaana….chutiya banana….’

*

The other problem area for the film is Alia Bhat’s acting. Saddled with a role that requires an intense portrayal, Alia Bhat flares her nostrils so violently, it would make Hrithik Roshan run and hide behind a curtain.

And AR Rahman is barely used in the film. Most of the film consists of silent, long shots. When you have Rahman, why not use Rahman? It’s like having Tendulkar on your side, and opening the innings with Venkatpathy Raju.

If Socha Na Tha was a breath of fresh air, and Rockstar was a gust of angst, Highway is a farcical fart. A terribly disappointing film that sets an unrealistic premise in front of you, and doesn’t help you unravel it.

Watch Highway only if you can get high on the way. There are some shots of beautiful snow-capped peaks that you wouldn’t normally get to see on YouTube or National Geographic.

***

On Losing My Smartphone

The sun wasn’t out yet. 5.30 is still dark in winters.

When I walked into the station, I noticed many people slept outside Platform No.1, shapes of bodies visible on the bed sheets covering the bodies from the cold. The few who were awake were on the platforms. I ran to Platform No. 3 and boarded the Prashanti Express – S-11.

This train has been an important part of my childhood memories – every year, we would take this train to our school and back for the vacations. I have always loved trains, stations – and the multitude of experiences that a single journey opens you up to.

And so as with any train journey when you have settled and the train has begun to chug off from the station, I had a slight, warm feeling in my heart.

I took out my phone and began to scroll through my news feed. I found a Greatbong article on the RaNab interview, and smiled. I clicked on it, and it opened up, in typical 1.5G speed, and I double tapped on it and the letters got bigger, and I began to read –

A dark hand flashes in front of me. My phone is snatched out of my hand. A guy jumps out of the door behind me. The light from my phone shining in his hands.

And just like that my phone was snatched away from me.

*

It has been more than a week since my phone went missing.

Sometimes, I still recall that moment – that split second when the phone vanished from my hands, cruelly snatched away in a manner that Amrish Puri would snatch little children from their mothers in the 90’s.

Of course, like any other phone user, I felt anger and sorrow.

But you see, I wasn’t any other phone user.

I had spent a year without a phone, and then used a Nokia for a few months, and then got into a job and bought a phone. It was a terrible phone – HTC Explorer – but I chose to look beyond its Chacha Chaudhry-esque abilities and at the larger picture of the wonderful benefits of technology. I sold that phone to get another one – LG Optimus. This phone dropped from my hand in the toilet of a bar and simply refused to work. The highly efficient folks at LG Customer Care ensured I couldn’t ever use it again. I then got myself a Galaxy Grand.

Considering I hung out with people who had the ascetic opinions on technology as me, I played the turncloack with a vengeance. I showed them all the wonderful things they could do, and I did push it a little bit.

Like when they asked me about a particular place, I would open up Maps and tell them how far it is, how they could reach it (By bus, by cab, or by walk), and how much time it would take them in each of those methods.

I wasn’t the usual mail checking, Facebook poking, smartphone user. I wrote on my phone. Every blog, every story, almost everything I had written in the last one year was written on my phone. I read on my phone. Not just news and magazines, but entire books. I must have read at least 70 books on Aldiko in the last one year.

I used my phone to go to sleep at night, and to wake up in the mornings. I used it to make posters, to record stories that I narrated out. I used it to do push ups, used the Anti-mosquito for late night escapedes, was learning Spanish from Duolingo, music instruments, calligraphy, saving stuff on Evernote, to manage my daily expenses – and all this on a daily basis.

If Steve Jobs was looking down at me from the heavens, he would smile. Yes, I was on Android, but when you’re in heaven, these trivialities don’t matter much.

*

I have gone back to my older Nokia phone. I love how Nokia makes these phones that you can use when your smartphone gets stolen.

I have introspected about my feelings towards my phone.

I have realised that smart phones aren’t really smart. If it was, it would find a way to come back to me. Smart for me will always be someone who’s quick on their feet, someone who can think off the hook, get by in tough situations.

Our smartphones are more like wizened university professors. They can give you a vast ocean of information, but they can’t find their way back home by the bus.

Smart phones are doing a lot of things right, but one still gets the feeling that a lot more could be done. Hasn’t it struck you sometimes? That nobody has thought of this shit. Like, 5 touch capacitative touch feature (shall refrain from making Draupadi joke here…oh damn!) 5 touch capacitative is fine, but what happens when it rains?

Also, how does one carry a phone that is so big, in one’s pocket. May be jeans companies need to come up with large cool pockets for phones. Also, has anybody thought about how they can keep phones safe?

We are the fastest growing mobile market in the world, and we also have a well established chain snatcher market. Why doesn’t someone invent a device that keeps your phone safe?

*

I have moved on. Sometimes when I’m bored, I look around and stretch my hand out towards my phantom phone. And those dark fingers flash in front of me again and I look at my Nokia phone with a depressed expression on my face.

As for the thief, I don’t know.

I hope one of these nights, when he’s in bed with his wife, and the phone is on charge, he receives a call. He answers the call, and the phone explodes, and the house catches fire.

The thief tries to put out the fire, but it keeps spreading. Very soon, the entire chawl is ablaze in the flames. People are running helter skelter, pouring buckets of water, trying to douse the fire, to no avail. And then, the entire place is burnt to ashes.

Yes. That would be give me satisfaction.

*

pot-smoker

Date a Guy Who Smokes Pot

  1. pot smokerA Pot Smoker will never fight with you

He will be calm and composed – whether it’s a spider in the corner or the Apocalypse – nothing can truly wipe that blissful, glazed expression on his face. Shit that most people fuss about don’t really matter to him. There is always the risk that your birthday might be forgotten, but what’s a birthday in the otherwise vast ocean of the time you spend together?

You will often find him smiling, or humming, or airguitaring – always composed.

2.     He will talk to you

Most guys won’t talk to you. They don’t like it. Most of the time they are either pretending to be interested, or biding their time by passing your time.

But a pot smoker? Hehe. He will sit with you and talk through the night. Superheroes, music, your evil boss, world peace, Shaktimaan – there is absolutely nothing that he will not be willing to talk about. Since pot smokers undoubtedly have the most interesting social circles, he will enrich your life with little stories and wonderful anecdotes.

He will also listen to you. No matter what you’re talking about, you have his undivided, unadulterated attention. He will ask you questions and suggest solutions. He will hold your hand and talk through the night, watching the silver clouds pass through twinkling stars. And then end the night with some hot action in the sack.

3. He is liberal

Let’s face it. Most Indian dudes are as liberal as your great grandfather. They’ll wear cool clothes and hang out at cool places. But somewhere deep within, there is a Khap Panchayat inside every Indian man.

Not with pot smokers, though. Years of existing in the periphery, and all the counterculture associated with pot, will result in him being a liberal, progressive person. He believes in Live and Let Live. He can’t help it – his idols are Bob Marley and John Lennon.

4. He will do anything for you

I don’t mean jump off a building or starve himself for you. He won’t do dumb shit like that.

All you need to do is smile at him after a joint and say, ‘Hey, could you clean the room a bit?’ He will get down on his knees and do it four hours, stopping only when Madhavan storms into your house with a Harpic bottle.

He will cheerfully go shopping with you, waiting for hours, waiting outside the trial room and smiling at the floor. And he won’t even complain – he’s having fun!

5.     He will not judge

Probably due to the fact that general society treats a pot smoker with the social capital reserved for a rickshaw puller, a pot smoker will never judge you for anything – he’s just not wired that way.

Whatever clothes you’re wearing, or if you’re lying spread-eagled on the floor after your fifth beer, or if you say that Modi is good for nothing – a pot smoker will never judge you.

6.     He will eat anything you cook

Most Indian guys will grumble and fuss over food. Years of partaking of Calorie Extravaganzas off momma’s hands has spoiled them. They will complain, and expect you to cook, and the food to be good.

A pot smoker don’t give no fuck. He will eat anything. Burnt maggi, undercooked curries, chips with jam, it makes no difference. He will eat it all. And then ask for more with a smile.

I could go on and on. But I assume the point has been conveyed to the other side. Pot smokers are fun. They generally have interests in art, music, and culture. You should date a Pot Smoker.

And then marry him and have lots of pot smoking kids.

Peace!