Monthly Archives: April 2014

Movie Review – Too Stale!

Disclaimer: The post contains ‘spoilers’. However, if you watch the movie later on TV, you’ll realise they’re actually ‘money-savers’.

 

From the stable of Chetan Bhagat, comes yet another film that is targeted at the youth of the country. And yet, when you sit through the movie, you’re looking around frantically for a knife. And wondering how someone could devote a few years of their lives to such a steaming pile of crap.

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Welcome to the land of Chetan Bhagat.

A land where professors pick students on the first day of class and humiliate them. A world where Tamilians call Punjabis ‘uncultured’ two minutes after meeting them. Where Punjabis tell a respectable Tamil family that they’re all dark-skinned, while having dinner with them. Where all students of IIMs wear specs – except the heroine of course. That’d make her unhot!

Two States is the Mahakumbh of stereotypes.

Where stereotypes of every colour, creed, and literary value meet to take part in a gigantic orgy.

The film is set in IIM Ahmedabad, where Krish, a Punjabi boy (who was also from IIT) is a student. He falls in love with Ananya, a Tam-Brahm who doesn’t look, sound, or act like a Tamilian at all. She pronounces ‘bahut’ as ‘bhot’, and ‘Punjabi’ as ‘Pnjaabi’. Because that’s how Tamilians talk.

Like all Chetan Bhagat heroines, she wears jeans as well as salwars, and is ready to have sex at the drop of a hat. But deep within, she’s a sanskari kudi who doesn’t want to go against the wishes of her parents.

The two of them complete their course and it’s time for placements. The boy applies for Yes Bank (because he’s a boy), and the girl applies to Sunsilk (because). And what mind-blowing replies they give, to get through their jobs.

When asked why he wants to join Yes Bank, the guy says ‘Because your bank is the best.’ And when the girl is asked ‘Why Sunsilk?’, she mumbles something about ‘Sunsilk Woman – Confident Woman’.

And then, the interviewers, who are actually ant-eaters in disguise, offer them the jobs. After which, the couple moves on to other first world problems. Like how to get married. Without pissing off parents.

When the parents are introduced, one feels a tinge of regret. That such actors are made to go through such tripe. Revathi manages to bring in some respect into her otherwise frivolous role, whereas Amrita Singh dives into hers uninhibitedly. And then, there’s Ronit Roy – a guy who usually manages to pull off intense roles with aplomb. But since it is Stereotype Carnival, he plays an abusive, alcoholic father. Completely different from his role in Udaan, where is a father of a boy who wants to be a writer. (In Udaan, the boy was a teenager. Here, he’s in his early 20’s. See? Subtle!)

And then there are the leads – the next-gen of Bollywood.

Alia Bhat brings in absolute zilch into the role, and in spite of her screen presence, carries just one expression throughout. Take for example the scene where Krish narrates the most painful incident of his life. When the flashback is done, she is smiling.

And it is the same smile she has when Krish proposes to her (in the middle of her Placements Interview), when she moves in with him, and when she cries during her wedding. Resulting in her looking like a Kareena Kapoor clone – everything from her voice modulation, her expressions, to the way she carries herself, has a distinct Kareena Kapoor hangover.

If Alia has one expression, Arjun Kapoor has half.

Whether he’s talking, walking, grimacing, grinning, or smiling – you feel absolutely nothing for his character. Making him seem like a pass-out from the Sanjay Dutt School of Acting – where actors are trained not to give a single fuck about the film they’re starring in.

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But what hurts the film the most, is the lazy writing.

Dialogues have been lifted verbatim from the book. As if to prove that even if books and films are different media, Chetan Bhagat transgresses such banalities. And then, there are the morals that are thrown into the film. Otherwise log kahenge ki yeh sirf entertainment hai. Is se desh nahi badal sakti hai.

So Alia Bhat wins over her in-laws by solving a dowry problem. By humiliating the groom at his wedding, and asking him to be happy with the dowry he’s received, and stop whining for more. Or the scene at the end, where a voice-over tell us that our parents are actually just worried that we’ll forget them, and hence all this drama.

Thus blowing a gigantic kiss to patriarchy, regressive social norms, and 14th century values being practiced in 2014.

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In the end, the film succeeds in becoming Chetan Bhagat.

It plays out to the galleries. In one moment, the narrator is a shy, introvert sort of person. In the next, he begins singing and dancing at college, and in weddings. The makers go on to make this abominable shit-fest, with the confidence that backing them, is the voice of the nation.

Chetan fucking Bhagat.

And in the end, that is what the film is. A shit-fest that will earn lots of money.

 

 

 

Of Summer and Its Addictions

Isn’t it amazing how every year, when summer comes on, people will point it out to you? They’ll hold their collar and shake it vigorously and say, ‘Yaar, it’s so hot, na?’

Like they’re just back from a 12 year vacation to Pluto and realised how hot it is in India in summers. It is summer, guys. It will be hot. Get over it.

 

I got over it long ago. Years ago, in my childhood, Bhubaneswar was notorious for ‘Sunstrokes’. It was the first time I had come across the word – sunstroke. I imagined that the sun would smile down warmly on a person, there would be a blinding flash of light, and the man would drop dead right there. Later, I learnt it is a heartbreakingly painful process. The person would first dehydrate, and then die as every drop of water in his body dried up, minute by painful minute.

But all of this wouldn’t affect me one bit. For I had just learnt how to ride a bicycle.

There are very few joys in the world compared to learning to ride a bicycle for the first time.

There is a sense of freedom, of joy, your bicycle being your horse, and of the world being your playground. There are no limits to your enthusiasm, your imagination, and the heat of the summer is but another obstacle – to be trampled upon and left behind.

And since I had just learnt the fine art of riding a cycle, I didn’t want to step inside the house. And so I was given a simple solution – Tie a wet cloth around your head if you want to step out.

The intention was to keep my head cool, wet and dehydrated. But what really happened was a combination of many things:

a)    Children and elders alike sniggered when I crossed them, a wet towel wrapped around my head.

b)    The cloth began to smell damp and funny after a point.

c)     The dampness around my head would result in me feeling dizzy after half an hour, and I would return to the house.

 

Again, this was a time when there was no internet, no cable television (since I was being honed to become a good citizen of the country), no cricket happening.

And all through the summer, I felt a strange thirst.For liquids. An insatiable need for liquid to run down my parched throat.

My hunt led me on to the roads in the afternoons. And the options in front of me were not very vast. And yet, I didn’t shy away from trying them all out.

 

Firstly, there was Sugarcane Juice.

Back then, it was just two rupees, and it wasn’t very difficult to flick two rupees lying around the house and run out to the shop. It was cool, sweet, and affordable.

But then, it had its problems too. You can’t have more than two glasses of it. If you did, you’d have a sticky, sweet feeling. Like your lips have been chapped together by a weak adhesive gum.

And then there were the health issues involved with sugarcane juice. Friends telling you that they’d seen a man keeping his sugarcane in a ditch to make it fresh and juicy. And another friend telling you that his cousin had died of food poisoning from sugarcane juice. Also, after two glasses, your body craved some water, or some salt, or chillies.

And so, I struck sugarcane juice out of my list.

 

Then came the Tender Coconut.

It is cool, and healthy. No one had any horrific tales to narrate about tender coconuts. They were just tender nuts that had a sweet juice inside of them. Problem is, I wasn’t the only one who had realised this truth. And this resulted in the price of tender coconuts rising not so tenderly.

It was five rupees when I was a child. And then in a few years, it was ten rupees. And then, it was fifteen rupees, and then twenty, twenty-five, and thirty. And me with my money nicked off from home, would never be able to catch up in that race.

 

Golas, I have never been fond of.

Firstly, I had only seen it in films and TVs. Of people sucking on golas and chuskis and having fun. In Orissa, we never really had golas for a long time. And when they finally arrived, what a massive colourful disappointment they turned out to be!

It was the same chapped feeling between my lips that I felt after having one. Also, it took about 20 minutes to finish one. Any quicker, and your jaws felt like a yeti had smooched you and run its tongue inside your mouth.

Golas didn’t do it for me.

 

Cool drinks, I was never fond of. Of course, I got enamored by ads and wanted to have a wonderful, bubbly, soft drink in the middle of summer – just like they showed me in those ads.

But every soft drink in the world is the same for me. I enjoy the first two sips and the rest of it seems like a punishment.

Ice creams never worked for me in any which way. Whether it was the Chocobar, or the cups, or the Cassatas, or the expensive ones. None of them did anything for me. All I felt at the end of the ice cream was sticky hands, a sticky mouth, and a sweet aftertaste in my mouth that wouldn’t go even if I ate a live chicken.

 

Which left me with the only other option. Buttermilk.

Buttermilk is one of those things in life you cannot have any complaint against. It could be made thick or thin, spicy or sweet. It is healthy, inexpensive, and easy to prepare.

Needless to say, I was addicted.

But then, I realised that the dynamics of buttermilk-making had a larger role to play. It wasn’t as simple as taking buttermilk, adding spices, chillies, coriander leaves, some ginger, some black salt, and mixing them all together.

I realised that different places have different ways of preparing buttermilk. At home, they’re always overdoing it. They make it thicker than it should be, just to pander to some idea of ‘healthy, wholesome home food’, killing the end result in the process. And like mother’s hamburgers, mothers’ buttermilk is never the real thing.

Others would add too much salt, too less chillies, or not black salt at all. Temples would keep it satwik, adding no ginger at all. There were ‘jalachhatras’ – free water/buttermilk pots that were kept in the open, as a form of social service. These guys made the buttermilk too thin, in an obvious attempt to save money while saving lives.

When I was posted at the KIIT International School in Bhubaneswar, there was a stall that gave out free water and buttermilk. Even if it was light, it was delicious. And I shamelessly hung out there, having 5-6 glasses a day.

And yet, it wasn’t perfect for me. It was a little light, and come summer, I would begin my hunting for the perfect buttermilk.

Everywhere I went, I looked for the perfect buttermilk.

And everytime, I was disappointed. Vijaya, the state-run milk company in Andhra Pradesh wasn’t very good. It was too thick, as if the state was doing its bit to prove the purity of their cows and their milk.

Omfed, the state-run milk federation in Orissa skimmed over the chilly and ginger, making for a drink that seemed hollow in its taste. And I went from this place to that, looking for the perfect buttermilk every summer.

And then, a few weeks ago, I found it.

Jersey milk.

It’s a private company that has its operations in Andhra Pradesh. Like all other milk companies, its logo has a smiling cow as its logo.

It cost 6 rupees, and when I slit the packet open, I realised that my hunt for the perfect buttermilk was over.

Inside, stirred up in the perfect way humanly possible, was buttermilk, salt, chilly, coriander leaves, and black salt. It was so perfect that I didn’t even have to shake well before use.

And that is how I spend my summers these days. Hunting for Jersey Buttermilk in every shop, store, or mall that I come across.

And summer is hot, and sticky and sweaty and all of that.

But what do I care? I am addicted, and my fix costs me 6 rupees.

Hey Indians, how about strapping some balls on?

In the last three overs of the Indian innings in the final, I knew a storm was brewing.

We logged on to Facebook to check out Yuvraj Singh’s Facebook page, and we found people trolling him. Some of the posts were really funny. We scrolled down some more, and then there were few that weren’t very funny, some that were poor attempts, and finally, some that really lacked in taste.

Which is why I wasn’t surprised the next day when I read the news of Yuvraj Singh’s house getting stoned. People wished that he had died of cancer, than to come back and play in the final.

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Whenever such an incident comes up, there are two common explanations.

The first explanation for it is that we are an emotional people. That we love cricket as a sport, and it is the frustration of a people whose only bright spot in life and popular culture is films and cricket.

Which is an absurd explanation. If we were really passionate about the sport, we would know that a team sport is dependent on the entire team. If they scratched a little more, they’d also know that a team sport is dependent on a variety of external things – luck, strategy, playing conditions. And if they really had an IQ of 80+, they’d know that it is really difficult to hit yorkers outside the off stump.

The second is that it comes with being a sporting icon. When people love you, you enjoy the success, the grandeur, the fame and the wealth. If you go through the Ups, you also have to grin and bear the Downs.

Ahem, no?

Because we are not fucking Taliban??

Because we are a supposed civilised democracy in 2014?

Come to think of it, what really did he do? Did he fix a match? Did he pursue and hack someone to death? He had a bad day at work. In the way that you and I do. Now when your boss asks you to come meet him, do you stone his house and blacken his face?

Na. He has power over you.

'Kya gaandu log ho yaar, tum log?'

‘Kya gaandu log ho yaar, tum log?’

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That is the second thing about the mob frenzy.

Have you ever seen anybody stone the house of politicians? What about N.Srinivasan – the guy who has been accused of running a betting racket? Or A.Raja? Or Suresh Kalmadi – that other Indian who was really passionate about sport?

Or the police officers who roam the streets like modern day Razakars? Or the builder who built that shitty road outside your house? Na. No, sir.

You know why? Because they are powerful. Because if you try to get near their house, their bodyguards will punch you till your small intestine becomes your large intestine and your liver becomes a dier.

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And so we always choose the easy preys. Actors, authors, cricketers, social workers, and women in pubs. Those not powerful enough to defend themselves.

If somebody was watching from Uranus, they’d shake their heads and laugh. Ek toh all the 100 crores of us follow only one goddamn sport. A sport that only eight other countries play. Bangladesh toh simply does timepass.

It’s sad in a pathetic way.

Thoughts on the T20 World Cup

In a few hours, a two month tumultuous relationship between Cricket and Bangladesh will come to an end.

Once again, India will play Sri Lanka. It is probably a testimony to how much the two play each other, that I have more knowledge on Sri Lanka’s bowlers than our own. One assumes the two teams play each other so much that they barely consider each other opponents anymore. Probably warring cousins of the same family.

Also, as a picky, disgruntled, judgemental viewer, I have many a bone to pick with the tournament.

Firstly, why another tournament in Bangladesh? The crowds are sparse, and the ones that are there wave Bangladeshi flags in a New Zealand vs. Netherlands match. And their government goes ahead and bans its citizens from waving flags of the opponent team. Which is a regressive step many would argue. But let me subtly remind the reader that India pressed sedition charges against a few students who supported Pakistan in a match. And after all this, Irony came into the picture when they started playing K’naan’s Waving Flag on the loudspeaker.

Which brings me to the music. What is with Bangladeshi music? Blood is fighting to burst out of my ears when their songs play on the PA System. Not only are they loud and tacky, they completely drown the voice of the commentators. And to add to the terrible songs, there is an announcer in the stadium?

Who is that guy, really?

You’re watching a match, ignoring the people who’ve painted themselves as yellow tigers, and then you ignore the songs, and think fondly of Ravi Shastri and his cliches, when the guy with the mike starts off –

AAAAAASHAKALAKASHAKALAKABOOMDHADAKASHAKALAKAKIKORCHHEEEEEEE- and the entire stadium goes ‘Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy’.

If Tony Greig was alive, he’d walk up to the guy, tap on his shoulder, and deliver a resounding slap on his face.

And if the noise and the songs isn’t too much, there are the unwanted statistics. If you look at the coverage of this tournament, you’ll find that as a viewer, you’re bombarded with statistics.

Let’s assume Virat Kohli has come on to the pitch.

On the screen, you’ll find numbers describing his total career stats – like any other tournament would. But then, the goodies start to flow out.

kohli against pace-spinkohli off side-on sidekohli overs 1-10kohli strike rate in 1st inningskohli choice of abuse                                                           (Since October 2012)

 

I understand statistics give a context to the game, but seriously, all these statistics? They rob the match of any meaning whatsoever. And yet, one fears these are things that will stay. Because information is power. And India has all the power in cricket. And with great power comes great electricity bill. When will the goddamn match start, damn it, I’m going nuts!

 

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The other thing about this tournament is that Dhoni is back.

During the Asia Cup, the team felt hollow. What Dhoni brings into the team might be contested by his haters today, but you can see the large gaping hole when he isn’t in the team.

The guy is probably among the Top 3 finishers in the game, has a calm head, has improved leaps and bounds in his wicketkeeping, and yet people will find something to crib about all the time:

‘Saale ka daadhi pak gaya, behenchod. Kyun khel raha hai woh?’

And yet, nothing seems to affect the guy. Being the Captain of the Indian Cricket Team is a very stressful position. Just a little less stressful than being RahulG’s speechwriter. But it is very stressful.

And Dhoni has mastered the Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

Indian skipper MS Dhoni shown not giving a fuck in a Press Conference

Indian skipper MS Dhoni shown not giving a fuck in a Press Conference

He has the World Cup and the Champions Trophy with him. In a few hours, he’ll be vying for the T20 World Cup. If he fails, people will bay for his blood. If he wins, they’ll share selfies on Facebook with a cute cat and get 150 likes.

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