Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sandgroper's Movie Moments: The Rising - Ballad of Mangal Pandey

Imagine you are in a movie theater. Imagine you have the best seats. You are watching Braveheart and William Wallace is giving his famous "freedom" speech.
Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you'll live -- at least a while.
And dying in your beds many years from now,
would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that
they may take our lives, but they'll never take... our freedom!

And now imagine the army decides to take the "run and live" option and WW goes into battle all alone.

Might be the truth. But it doesn't make for great cinematic viewing. The Rising is a good movie, but something somewhere is missing. It begins well, the songs and situations are good as well. The performances, the feel of the era is commendable (though a mention of "hawa tight" sounds strange for the 1850's. This is a movie where the "aanewaali peedhi" (future generations) were shown as Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru.). The whole build up is kept well, but it ends flat like old soda. It reminded me of the Y2K bug, where after the huge buildup, nothing happened and people went on their own way. Probably this is why this movie did not do that well commercially. It had nothing that would have the audience leaving the cinema hall enthused and inspired (Lagaan, anyone?). Basically, the movie needs a Braveheart moment.

Seeing this movie taught me an important lesson. The speech in Braveheart was great. But the roar at the end of it was equally important, if not more from the perspective of the paying audience.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Mirza ki Marzi???

Generally websurfing on a Saturday morning. Come to this article Indian Tennis Star Opposes Premarital Sex. Notice anything interesting?

Yes, thats right, this was on NY Times. The self-styled greatest newspaper in the world, has a link to this. Honestly, is this even newsworthy? To those not knowing the background to this, there was this leading actress in India, I think her name is Khushboo or something, who said, that it doesn't make any difference what society thinks, if a woman wants she should be free to have pre-marital sex. I don't know if she is married, but apparently she had no problem doing it. And if you ask me, more power to her. But why should anyone have a problem?

The hulabuloo (is that how one spells it?) about Sania Mirza is even more ridiculous. What she said was very simple. She personally thinks it is a sin. But if some people do not think it is a sin (or even if they do and are intrigued with the idea of going to their respective religious hells), the least they should do is take the proper protection. What is irresponsible about that? If anything, this is about as level-headed advice as I have seen from people. SM cannot control the wishes of other people, but the least she can do is say that you better be careful. You are impacting a minimum of two lives. Another aspect that came to my curious mind. All the articles specifically speak about women. There was no mention if anybody has any problem with men having pre-marital sex. If it's ok for men to do it, but not for women, I think we are promoting a whole lot of extra-marital affairs. But that's me.

Sex (like religion) is personal to each individual. Let's not give the delusional people who think of themselves as the sentries of public morality a chance to bore us even more.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sandgroper's movie moments: Salaam Namaste

One job that I have always envied is that of a critic. They obviously enjoy what they do, get to the best movies/music/books, (that more often than not, they do not pay for), get to express their frank opinions about it and what is better get paid for writing trash. Therefore, I have now decided to play a critic at this blog. Every movie / album / book that I see / hear / read, I shall post an immediate critique of it. I may not get paid for it, but at least I would have the satisfaction of making sure that my opinion is out there in public. That way if it is something nice, it will be of assistance to someone else, and if it is bad I shall save someone the money that they would have wasted on it.
Anyway here goes the first review. Saw Salaam Namaste yesterday. A Hindi movie that was recommended to me by some colleagues at work and some friends in India. The movie is not as great as it is hyped up to be. I had read that it was about a radical new idea of two lovers living in. But what I saw was a desi version of the Hugh Grant movie "Nine Months". There's a lot of corny acting and corny situations created. Plus the usual need for songs creates a couple of needless situations. And of course the sight of Preity Zinta in an advanced stage of her pregnancy dancing in the streets of Melbourne made no sense at all. To top it all, she's having twins. I felt like recommending the movie to my cousin who recently had twins just so that she could break her TV in frustration.
Not too much melodrama. Surprisingly quick paced for a YashRaj movies production. Intelligent Indianisation of situations. Most of all there was no puking involved to show that she may be pregnant. They used a normal pregnancy test, which probably was the first in a Bollywood movie. The acting is believable especially the lead pair and Arshad Warsi. The mention of the words "But we always used protection, so how did this happen???" was also probably a first. Most importantly, I think for the first time in the history of Yash Chopra movies, there was no Karva Chauth, pheras, sangeet music or punjabi songs (I don't know about the last item. I forwarded all the songs.) Jaaved Jaaffery steals the show in the few scenes that he is around.
Quite a few. Not a great ad for the proponents of the "living in" concept. Nor for the family planning guys. Turns out that protection may not work. ( I can hear so many men saying "Hey it may not work, so why bother??"). Tonnes of corny scenes. The usual faaltu scenes where someone tries their hand at a mallu accent. Not too much logic involved. More importantly the sense of what could have been. They had a chance at making an intelligent, thought provoking movie about the "coming of age" that parenthood brings. But they made a movie more appealing to college kids with an "oh by the way, she's also pregnant" viewpoint. Jaaved Jaaffery is funny if you know that he is actually doing his Feroz Khan impression with an Aussie accent. There's no way he is doing a bihari accent which is what I read in rediff.
My feeling at the end of the movie was if you want a good movie go watch Sehar. It's a nice, serious movie (minus the songs) with totally believable scenes. No faaltu attempts at comedy. If you want to watch a crappy movie there's a whole bunch of movies you can choose from. Basically I can't see the point in going to watch this movie.
Signing off, until next time.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

So help me God???

A couple of days ago, I received this email from a friend at work. It went something like this. ....


A young second generation Indian in the US was asked by his mother to explain the significance of "Diwali" to his younger brother, this is how he went about it...


"So, it's like this dude had, like, a big cool kingdom and people liked him" But, like, his step-mom, or something, was kind of a bitch, and she forced her husband to, like, send this cool-dude, he was Ram, to som national forest or something...

Since he was going, for like, something like more than 10 years or so....he decided to get his wife and his bro along... you that they could all chill out together. But Dude, the forest was reeeeal scary shit... really man... they had monkeys and devils and shit like that.


But this dude, Ram, kicked ass with darts and bows and arrows... so it was fine. But then some bad gangsta boys, some jerk called Ravan, picks up his babe (Sita) and lures her away to his hood. And boy, was our man, and also his bro, Laxman, pissed... And you don't piss this son-of-a-gun cuz, he just kicks ass and like... all the gods were with him...

So anyways,you don't mess with gods. So, Ram, and his bro get an army of monkeys.. Dude, don't ask me how they trained the damn monkeys... just go along with me, ok... so, Ram, Lax and their monkeys whip this gangsta's ass in his own hood. Anyways, by this time, their time's up in the forest..and gets kinda boring,you know... no TV or malls or shit like that. So,they decided to hitch a ride back home...

and when the people realize that our dude, his bro and the wife are back home... they thought, well, you know, at least they deserve something nice... and they didn't have any bars or clubs in those days... so they couldn't take them out for a drink, so they, like, decided to smoke and shit...and since they also had some lamps, they lit the lamps also... so it was pretty cooool...

You know with all those fireworks... Really, they even had some local
band play along with the fireworks... and you know, what, dude, that was the very first, no kidding.., that was the very first music-synchronized fireworks... You know, like the 4th of July stuff, but just, more cooler and stuff, you know. And, so dude, that was how, like, this festival started."

It is indeed funny. But as usual, it also got me thinking. Would something like this be appreciated if it went something like "So Mary was this chick... Hot chick in the hot desert... Fell in bad company or some shit like that... Got knocked up ... and then she was shit scared... coz her mom would whoop her ass if she found out.. so she said that it is the kid of God.. ... ....."
You get the picture .. At least I could put this about Jesus and Mary in print .. I don't even have the guts to say this about Mohammed / Allah... Partly coz I don't know the story .. and partly coz I am afraid that somebody is gonna find me and my family and whoop my ass .. The funny thing is this email went to a whole bunch of people and I don;t think there was a murmur from anyone .. So the thought that came to me was this ...
Are Hindus more tolerant than they should be???
I don't think so.. I'd rather say that the others are not as tolerant as they should be .. May be it is the "anti-religionist" in me .. but this is a joke, and it should remain a joke .. Why do people take God so seriously?? Reminds me of a cartoon I once saw.. God says to man (the Kansas board of education actually) "Man, I gave you a brain .. Use it" ..

Monday, November 07, 2005

Eat Cricket Sleep Cricket ....

There was a time when I was a huge cricket fan. Or as today's email terminology goes a huuuuuuuuuuuuge fan. I could recite statistics from the 19th century with the same intensity as those that happened yesterday. However as time has gone by, I have become more and more uninterested in the game. I follow the game on Cricinfo, and watch the odd game here and there, but there is no passion any more for the game.

Most of us have lost their "mojo" for the game by the betting scandals that hit the game a few years ago. That was not me. I was passionate for the great game. My favorite players were not even Indian. Mark Waugh, Brian Lara and Saeed Anwar were the best in my book. I have woken up at 3.30 to see Curtly Ambrose bowl to Martin Crowe. Needless to say though, India was my favorite team. Every game, every test match, every session, I would watch on the television. The feeling for the game remained once I got the US as well.

However, somehow over the last six months I have lost it. Surprisingly, India is winning and I still don't feel like celebrating. That was anathema a few years ago. I was so crazy that I even asked for a cricket score during my wedding. But now it's just not there. It may be a case of out-of-sight is out-of-mind. All I know is that there is no connection any more.

Is this a sign of growing up???