Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tees Maar Khan

Saw TMK today.

As you might have read/seen in reviews already, the film is politically incorrect, loud, insensitive to gay people (and albinos), has bad acting (who expected that a film with Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif in the lead could have remotely decent acting?), has a tremendously stupid story.

When I first read the reviews I thought the critics were just having their revenge for Farah-Sajid calling them retards some time back. Of course, having seen the film now, I can say that that's not the case.

But even if one overlooks the issues mentioned above, the biggest flaw in the film, which I never thought I would have to blame a Farah Khan movie for, is that IT IS JUST PLAIN BORING.

And very embarrassingly so. Some of the shallow attempts at humour would not have found place in even one of those murderous comedy shows on TV.

Maybe it was a bad idea to have her husband handle every other department, instead of collaborating with slightly more tested experts. At the end of the film, during the Happy Ending song, it becomes very evident how many hats he wore.

Also, maybe Farah
Khan lost more by not working with SRK than he did. As a reviewer in Mint's review points out, this film depicts in painful detail how utterly without talent Akshay Kumar is. To give him some due, his dialogues are too childish in the film to really give him anything to work with.

Save yourself a lot of time. Read the story in a newspaper and watch the songs on YouTube. That's all there is to this film.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Film Critics

It is really annoying how bad most Indian film reviews are. I was reading Raja Sen's review of The Social Network and he actually called the lead actor Jesse Eisenstein! It's Jesse Eisenberg, if you don't already know, but more than the really idiotic mistake with the name it's the extremely unoriginal reviews that these people seem to write that gets me.

If you remotely follow the spectrum of film 'critics' in India you would know that Raja Sen is probably among the better and more informed of the clan. Which does not say much at all. Almost all of the Rediff reviews while Sen was on a sabbatical made me feel like strangling myself. And my opinion is not very different when it comes to most of the other morons selling their wares on TV and on the net.

Nikhat Kazmi has been the butt of everyone's jokes for a long time, and it's fascinating how thick her skin must be to get to work everyday despite all of it, but it speaks more about how utterly pedestrian even the best-selling English newspaper in India must be if it still continues to employ her. But, that does not in any way mean that the other 'experts' are any less stupid. That Masand chap and that Chopra woman are not any better and their animated commentaries on cinema only make me shudder with fear. If these are the chaps people are going to look up to, film criticism in India is born dead.

Even though it's very offensive when someone like Sajid Khan abuses film critics, I do not feel completely surprised. Almost all film critics in the media today deserve the derision. They are leeches who probably do not even understand the import of words, let alone a camera frame.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Tale of Two Movies

After a very long time, I saw two films in a day today. And, even though I enjoyed both tremendously, it's very interesting how different the two films are - in treatment, in their setting, in terms of the people they depict.

Saw The Social Network in the morning. It's not out in India yet, which is a shame, and I also missed its screening at the MAMI festival's opening, so gave in and downloaded it last night.

It's one of those rare films of which I was skeptical about when I heard about it first a few months back and even after I saw the trailer, but turned out to be very very good finally. I should have known - one should have faith in David Fincher. And the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin is quite brilliant too. Instead of telling a linear story, the film suddenly jumps to the pre-hearing depositions involving Zuckerburg and his ex-friends. Doing this and then coming back to various points in the story makes one see every conversation in the past in perspective, and makes the Facebook story so much more thrilling.

The film is extremely tight, with some of the best dialogues I have seen since President Nixon was interviewed by a Brit TV anchor and the German Colonel hunted down Jews on screen all those months back. It's very refreshing to see such intelligent characters on screen, where even the Victoria's Secret models are Harvard undergrads, and where everyone speaks such sharp language. Which goes to show how good, realistic dialogues add so much to a film.

And, Zuckerberg comes across as not completely unsavory by the time the film ends. I understand that this is not exactly how things happened in real life, but I have a feeling how things happened in real life would not have made this into a front-runner for the Oscars (as per current run-up talk, things could change by Oscar season), and so the youngest billionaire in the world should not mind too much that he comes across only a bit sexist, selfish, disloyal and mostly childish. And a brilliant programmer.

The other film I saw a short while back was Rakht Charitra.

I generally like Ram Gopal Varma's films. I don't know anyone else who has enjoyed even RGV Ki Aag apart from me. And when on rare occasions he makes something classic like Satya and Company, it just makes it worth one's while to not give up on him. Even though I abhor some of his camera angles, and there's one here that pretty much made me puke - the camera makes two consecutive 360 degree turns when a character goes to meet a powerful politician (whose face is never shown) - and am not a big fan of the Govinda-Govinda-type constant chants, the overall effect is very unique.

I had been looking forward to this film mainly because of the gore-fest it promised to be from the trailers. And so was more than slightly horrified when I saw 2-3 parents walking into the audi at the start of the film with their kids in tow. School-going age kids. Does no one at all ensure that kids don't come to an Adult Only certified film? Sure enough all of these morons made a beeline for the exit half an hour into the film.

I despise generally am not too fond of kids, and I am all for fucking their minds up with scenes of rape and violence (how much more fucked up than today's kids can one get anyway, right?) but I would prefer it if their minds are fucked up in the privacy of people's homes rather than in the movie hall on one of those few occasions when I get to watch a movie children-free. It's bad enough that parents bring children to Pixar films, but it truly is irritating when they bring them to movies such as these.

Coming back to the film, it is really as gory (and more) as the trailer promised. And so the paisa was vasool-ed completely.

But I kept thinking how un-subtle this film was compared to the film I had seen in the morning. Here, the narrator, with an irritatingly nasal voice (oh, why in the world can't Ramu have an Om Puri or an Amitabh Bachchan doing the narration?), spells pretty much everything out. Varma seems to think that everyone in the audience is as dumb as Karan Johar. Or maybe he made the film for Johar.

And how un-gentlemanly the men were. In the earlier film, the (very large) Winklevoss brothers refuse to go and beat up Zuckerburg because it is not what Harvard gentlemen do, and hence end up getting just USD 65 mn from a multi-billion dollar company based on their original idea. In this film, people cut down each other for the flimsiest of reasons. And women are slapped and treated almost as badly as the men. Women's equality has finally reached us in a twisted way.

But, I have made a short trip to the place depicted in the film. And I have heard stories. And I have a very strong feeling the violence is still quite Karan Johar-ed in this film. I am not sure there was someone like Bukka Reddy (played with such relish by Abhimanyu Singh, and I wish the man gets more roles to act himself out - after Gulaal and this one, I am a big fan) but I am sure Paritala Ravi was not as white as he's shown to be either.

On a slight detour to the usual personal experience, I made a trip to Kadapa last Diwali because my dad was posted there for a few months, and I was shocked by the place. It is a part of the Rayalaseema region and even though many friends from IIMC had told me about it, I was quite unprepared for the trip. It's a place where the vegetation is desert-like, food is unimaginably spicy and people are inhumanly violent. In their main fest, whose name I fail to recall right now, animals are slaughtered openly and blood flows in the markets. I saw the pictures, so I am not bluffing. This is India's frontier country, not Western UP.

Since, being from Bihar, I know the cost of exaggerating things, let me also add that the people are generally nice. And most people from there are very nice. As from any other place in India. But, history, culture and climate have come together in such a deadly mix that life seems to count for a little less. Our very sober and pious driver used to drive so carelessly there that I was permanently tense while on the road there, and relaxed only after I crossed the hills into the relatively soothing Karnataka on my way to Bangalore airport.

The film depicts that heat well. And it should be a good lesson in culture for North Indians used to equating every one from down South to the rather (imaginatively conceptualized) non-violent and simple Maddu.

You should watch the film. Partly because you would not want to miss the sequel when the fiery Suriya makes his entry. This feels like an appetizer for the main course coming up in November.

And what a peppery appetizer it is.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

MnA Update

There hasn't been an update on MnA for some time now. So, I suppose a post on what we have been up to is in order.

We have been quite active lately, and if some of the current discussions bear fruit, should get even more busy in the coming weeks. It's great to get work, and get appreciated for that work, without pretty much any specific pitching or publicity till now.

And it's more heartening because we are not exactly quoting basement remuneration for our quizzes. We don't overcharge, but we put in sincere effort for every single quiz, and we ask for what we feel is reasonable for that effort, and we have been invited above people who quoted much lower than us in recent times.
We must be doing something right. To not have had a single experience till date where our quiz has not been appreciated adds all that much more to the effort.

Apart from the increase in number of cities our weekly Hindustan Times quiz goes to, we have done one corporate quiz and two college quizzes in the last few weeks.

We did three quizzes based on the Tata Crucible format for Ispat Industries. It was very enjoyable, and it's always nice to associate with a leading corporate house.

The next gig was for NIT Surat - a general quiz for their technical fest, on the 2nd of October. We have been trying to expand our presence to more colleges in Western India, and it was a pleasure doing a quiz for NIT Surat, a college which has had some of the country's best college quizzers in the not so distant past.

Of course, we have to mention that because of unavoidable circumstances both Menon and I could not be there for the quiz, but we did ensure that the event went smoothly by getting one of our friends - a well known figure in the quizzing circles - to do it on our behalf.

And, finally, I was in Lucknow over the weekend to conduct an open quiz at Varchasva, IIM Lucknow's sports-cum-cultural meet. I loved the experience - the campus is beautiful and reminded me of Joka - and the response from the participants was extremely encouraging too. I have known so many people from IIM Lucknow over the years, and it was awesome to be there finally.

So, it's been a very rewarding last few weeks, not only monetarily, but also in terms of being at new places, sharing the joys of quizzing. Hoping for tons of more interesting experiences in the near future.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Palestine and Kashmir

It makes my blood boil at times when people treat me with polite amusement when I start sounding all passionate about graphic novels. There are an amazingly high number of people who seem to not realize that it is a medium that can say so much, so effectively, and is not only about superheroes wearing their undies over their leotards.

Not that undies over leotard type comic books are things to scoff at.

This is very similar to the life-long irritation I have had with people who consider fiction a waste of time, and utter with great pride that they read only biographies or books like the one about the monk who sold his Ferrari.

Maybe such people should read one of those graphic novels that have the ability to change your complete perception of the medium, with not many graphic novel artists probably being more effective than Joe Sacco. I have been a fan of some of his previous works like Safe Area Gorazde, Palestine and Notes from a Defeatist, all of which hold a special position of pride on my bookshelf.

But, his latest creation - Footnotes in Gaza - is quite something else even in the light of the brilliant work he has done over the years. The hardcover edition is a 400-plus page wrist-sprainer of a book, which deals with two forgotten incidents of massacre of Palestinians by Israeli forces.

These incidents occurred in the 1950s during the Suez Canal Crisis, and Sacco deserves great credit for making the effort of traveling to Gaza Strip, talking to the residents there in detail and chronicling all of it for us. Because the incidents really had been relegated to footnotes of UN reports over the years otherwise.

People have a habit of forgetting things, no matter how traumatic. Especially if the traumatic incidents keep hitting you incessantly over decades. For a community, large parts of which has not known any reasonably long period of peace, the massacres of Khan Younis and Rafah might just be a blink in their painful history, but, as Sacco says in the foreword, it goes a long way in understanding how 'hatred was planted in the hearts' of the people of Palestine.

I was in Iraq when the First Intifada was on, and the understandably pro-Palestine Iraqi media would give a lot of coverage to those young boys throwing stones and crude Molotov Cocktails at the Israeli forces. I had never seen unrest like that on TV before. And, unsure of the historical context though I was, I used to wonder what kind of dissatisfaction would make young people come out on streets like that and face armed forces fearlessly. It seemed like the last act of desperation - the final step you took after you realized that nothing else could save you. Nothing else could make others hear your side of the story.

So, over the last few months, it has been extremely spooky seeing fairly similar clips from Kashmir. Reading Footnotes in Gaza, I am forced to think if, irrespective of cross-border instigation, India has really been remotely as inhuman to Kashmiris as the Israelis were to the Palestinians. So much so that the young boys there too would come out on the streets to throw stones at our forces.

I understand that the situation is much too complicated for me to make a general comparison like that.

But, I hope people in Kashmir don't hate me as badly as the people in Rafah hate an Israeli.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Random Thought

This is part of a song I had learned in Class V and it just came to me suddenly for some reason -

Kasturi mrig ki naabhi mein,
Moorakh dhoonde van jhaadi mein.
Khota bhatak bhatak nij praan,
Mile man mandir mein bhagwaan

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Last Man

I just realized that two of Brian K Vaughan's most brilliant graphic novel series - Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina - are being made into films.

The man also wrote Pride of Baghdad, which remains one of my most loved short series. And the man also wrote a few episodes of Lost, but I haven't been following the series after the first couple of seasons because it got too confusing. Will probably buy DVDs of the entire series.

Y: The Last Man is a story that gave me goose-bumps. The story of a man being left alone in a world filled with women is got to be one horrifying tale. But, the way its many chains were handled and brought to satisfying closure it made one feel fortunate to have witnessed the creation of a milestone in graphic novel writing.

Ex Machina, in many ways, is similar to Y: The Last Man, particularly in terms of the various trails of stories it keeps leaving and picking up. I have not come to the end of the chain yet, so don't know if I'll be completely satisfied, but the episodes till now have been worth the devotion.

Coming back to Y: The Last Man, I can still recall the evening I read the last issue of the series. I was crying. I named my best friend Ampersand that night. And hopefully he understood.

It has been one of the most satisfying and gratifying graphic novel experiences of my life. And, I would love to see how it shapes up on the big screen. I am sure I'll crib about some issue with the film version, but it's a story that needs to be experienced by more people, even if in the form of a film and not in its original one.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Been having a bit of a pop-culture overdose lately. And I am not complaining.

Have read some, or parts of some, great graphic novels. Partly read some novels. Partly seen some TV series and movies. As you can tell, I have been distracted a lot.

But, one series I watched completely - it helped that the first season had just three 90-minute long episodes - has been Sherlock. It's a recent BBC series that's been renewed for the 2nd season too.

If you have ever liked the original Sherlock Holmes stories the least bit, and how could you not, then you ought to watch this modern retelling of the Holmes-Watson saga. Mycroft Holmes has a more prominent role than I recall from the original stories, and then there's the wicked Moriarty too, who makes his appearance in the final episode in a very inventive manner.

One of the first non-child stories I read was The Hound of the Baskervilles, when I was all of 7 years old. I remember sitting on the couch in our living room in the afternoon, alone in the house for all practical purposes as my 2 year old sister was fast asleep (parents were at work), and I kept looking over my shoulder for that beast to pounce on me. Been in love with Dr Doyle's stories since then.

Have seen several film and TV versions of the stories over the years, but none hits the spot as well as this newest BBC version.

Benedict Cumberbatch seems to have been born to play Holmes, and is more than ably aided by Martin Freeman's Watson. You might remember Freeman from that awkward Tim from the original The Office.

If for some reason you have put a restriction on yourself for watching just one TV series this year, do yourself a favor - watch Sherlock.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Zandu Balm

You know, when I first heard about Sonakshi Sinha making her debut with a Salman Khan starrer called Dabangg, my thought was - well, there goes another starlet. Didn't she learn anything from Sneha Ullal and Zarine Khan? And considering her brother made a rather forgettable debut, I didn't have much hopes from the other Shatru bhaiya offspring either. But the Bihari (and Sindhi) girl might just do us proud.

After having seen the trailers multiple times and having listened to Munni Badnaam Hui, I can't wait enough for September 10th, when it will be out. Of course, I should admit here that I absolutely loved Wanted and do think Salman Khan has the ability to carry off some really corny stuff (haven't seen Veer though, and have no intention to). But, the crazy thing is I don't even consider Dabangg, from what I have seen of it, to be in that same corny territory. Yes, it's going to be a full-blown masala movie. Yes, it will play to the gallery. Yes, people in single screen halls will throw coins at it (I hope they still do it). But, it reeks of such awesomeness.

And Sonakshi Sinha's smile is quite off the scales. As is her forehead.

I will kill Arbaaz Khan if this movie sucks.

Who the hell is John Roy Hill btw? Google says he is on Facebook, but it surely can't be the same man who apparently said - WHEN YOU LOSE THE FEAR OF DEATH, LIFE BEGINS

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tamarind Rice

I normally feel inspired enough to write here either when I am really happy or feeling really low. Thankfully it's happy right now. Of course, having read the post you would realize that it takes very little to make me really happy. Or really sad for that matter. Sometimes nothing at all.

The reason for my happiness right now is that I made some absolutely brilliant Puliyogare. It's tamarind rice from Karnataka, and even though I used the ready-made Puliyogare mix available in the market rather than preparing all the ingredients myself, it still feels great to make something so delicious in my kitchen.

And, I am also glad I used ghee instead of the oil the recipe on the back of the packet instructed. The best South Indian food ought to be had with ghee not some refined sunflower oil.

Even though the Wiki article says that it's meant to be had as a snack, it goes very well with bhindi (as I tried it last night) or shimla mirch ki sabzi (as I am trying tonight).

I have always felt that people living South of the Vindhyas have a better deal when it comes to food. Not only do they have the amazing variety of dishes from their respective states, most South Indian cities today seem to have restaurants that serve really good North Indian food too. And if you are in Hyderabad, you are living in culinary heaven. Because, according to me, the Hyderabadi Biryani is the epitome of Indian cuisine.

But, in the north, and by that I mean even in a city as cosmopolitan as Mumbai, one pines for a place that would serve a half-decent Bisi Bele Bath. North India's understanding of 'South Indian' food seems to be limited to a satisfying breakfast of idli-vada or masala dosa.

To be fair to some of the Udupi joints in Mumbai, and even in Delhi, they do serve some exquisite dosas, and even quite reasonably edible sambhars, but after having lived in Bangalore, I know they are not the real thing. The road-side minimal darshinis serve better stuff there. And even if the joints in Mumbai were authentic, I wish they would go beyond the basic idli-dosa stuff. There's so much more to food from every region in the South, which is largely lost on us uncouth Northies, who are wont to douse every thing in oil and garam masala.

Ok, I am being a little too unfair to North Indian food now. I know Bihari food (and am not even talking about Litti-Chokha) is quite something and so are dishes from other parts of North India, but it just gets my goose that finding good authentic food from the South is so difficult here. A good avial or meen moilee should not be so difficult to come by in this city, without having to shell out a large fraction of my salary on an upmarket fine dining restaurant!

Ah well, I'll get going with my Puliyogare then. Can't resist the inviting fragrance anymore.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Missing Topi

I have been wanting to make a post on the magazines I love reading, but like everything else I want to write about I get bored midway through the post and move on to something else.

But, I chanced upon this piece by Aatish Taseer in this week's Lounge, the HT Mint supplement that I am a huge fan of, and felt like writing about it. The piece as well as the weekly.

First about Lounge. It is by far the most intelligent supplement that any newspaper has in India. Considering that Mint is by far the most intelligent newspaper in India, it might not come as a surprise, but the wide range of topics Lounge covers, and the phenomenally great columnists it has on its menu, it deserves mention several times more. If nothing else, just the fact that a mainstream paper comes out with a weekly column that very often talks, very intelligently at that, about graphic novels must be a proof of how great it is.

And now coming to the piece itself, which is about the moderate Pakistan. It took me back to the short time I had spent there in the spring of 2006. Pakistan is a beautiful country, almost as much as India, and it is one of humankind's greatest tragedies that the two countries are not together. For we could have achieved so much more if we had not wasted so much time fighting each other.

It is also a waste because we are so alike. One story I love narrating is how my friends and I were having a great time talking to people around us in Urdu till the time we crossed the border at Wagah and came to India where we could not understand anything because everyone was talking in Punjabi.

Personally, walking around in Lahore, singing obscure Hindi film songs on the bus trip to and from NWFP with other students, enjoying some random gupp-baazi after the debates on the rain-soaked stairs of Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute, even the abuse from that woman whom I accidentally dropped coke on during the bus trip back to Lahore - it all seems part of another world now. A world I miss every day, for I don't think I will ever get to go there again.

A world we are unfortunately doomed to see as foreign. When we could have been brothers.

Believe them when they tell you - 'Jine Lahore nai dekhya, o janmya nai'.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ek Udaan

When I was in school in Iraq I had this classmate of mine whose mother was our English teacher. She was a decent teacher, but the reason I remember her now is because she used to slap her son in front of us in the class. It used to be painful seeing it. Her son, my friend, was quite intelligent, and not being so would not still be reason enough for that sort of cruelty, but I could never figure out why she would subject her son to such humiliation in front of his classmates. And the most harmless of things would prompt the beating. He would be so ashamed of his daily beatings in the morning that he would rarely come out to play in the evening with us. Even at that time, and we were just about 8-9 years old then, we could feel that she was unhappy with herself and that's why she would beat her son.

This came to me today after watching Udaan.

It's a beautiful film. Not the least for some of the best acting I have seen in a Hindi film in recent times. But also because it hit home in some way.

No, my parents were (are) much much better than Rohan's father in the film (who goes to rather unbelievable extents of cruelty), and I sometimes wish they were a little cruel, for it might just justify my craziness, and selfishness, but it hit home because unlike many of my friends from Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai, I know what growing up in a place like Jamshedpur is.

Of course, Jamshedpur stands in for hundreds of small Indian towns where thousands of people dream and then give up. I have come to take for granted a lot of things I have been given in my life and am wont to forget that so many others I knew, a lot more talented, a lot more capable, will take up that dreary job in the factory, will get married, will have children and will hope to see their children achieve what they could not. And then their children would repeat the same thing, maybe move a notch higher if they are lucky, but still lead stifled lives.

Jamshedpur is actually a lot more happening than the movie portrays it to be. I had my first pizza there, way back in 1991. I grew up in a township about 80km from the place, and it used to represent a weekend of freedom when we would take a monthly trip to my aunt's place, having that fabulous south Indian breakfast at Anand restaurant in Bistupur, having lunch occasionally at Kwality, buying audio cassettes for the latest hits, buying a comic or novel at that small shop in the basement of Kamani Centre, going through the collection of Commando comics that my cousins had - Jamshedpur was almost like being in New York for someone growing in the backyard of Jharkhand.

Jamshedpur also represents the pain that preparing for JEE was the first time around (I moved to Kota after a failed first attempt, stopped living for 9 months, and cracked the exam). My Brilliant Tutorials centre was in the town and making those periodic trips to the place knowing that I would do badly in the mock tests, gradually losing all hope and confidence in my chance to get to an IIT, that perceived gateway to a life of prosperity - so many young students must go through that.

I wanted to take up Arts after Class X. Study Literature. Write. But, you see, I was good in studies. Science made more sense. But then, that's a story we have heard so often and is hardly worth talking about.

I also saw Inception this weekend. The movie will go on to become one of the most talked about movies of the year, if not of our generation. But I think Udaan is a better movie. It's about dreams we actually saw.

I love it when a film makes me go all crazy. That is what films are for.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Chicken marinated in rum and cooked in coconut milk

That's what I cooked for dinner tonight. Inspired by a Discovery Travel & Living show's episode on Caribbean food.

And it tastes beautiful. I modified the recipe a bit since I forgot to buy lemon-grass and made my own curry powder. I feel really proud, and sated tonight.

The recipe is something like this:

Take around 500 gm of boneless chicken, cut it into bite-sized pieces and add to a bowl with 2 tbsp white rum (I used Bacardi rum, not sure if that is the right one to use, but it turned out fine), 2 tbsp fresh lime juice and 2 tsp garlic paste/minced garlic. Mix the chicken pieces well with the rest of the contents.

Cover with that wrapping plastic sheet (can't recall exactly what it's called) and leave in the refrigerator for marinating for around 2 hours.

For cooking, chop one large-ish onion into fine pieces and add to 2 tbsp of heated oil. Saute on medium flame for 5 minutes or so. Add the chicken pieces and the liquid remaining in the bowl, cook till the pieces change color and turn soft.

Add 1 tbsp curry powder. Which in my case was made of cumin powder, coriander powder, a bit of turmeric, a bit of black pepper powder and some garam masala. And some salt.

Mix well, and then pour in around 150 ml of coconut milk. Cook for around 5 minutes till the chicken reaches the required softness.

Serve with steamed rice.

And fly.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Two films and a soundtrack

There are these green, very green, oasis-like days in a life pretty much dry, brown, desert-like that make you thankful for being alive.

I saw two brilliant movies today and listened to a soundtrack that just blew me away, and I just had to write here about them.

I read the Ebert review on Shutter Island immediately after the film was over and was pleased to see that he also noticed the similarity with King Kong in the first scene. The sense of foreboding as the boat approaches the island, those amazing camera shots set the piece just right. A beautiful movie. It gives me goosebumps to see that someone as feted as Scorsese still loves being a child so much. I wish I could meet him some day.

The other movie I saw today was Toy Story 3. Apart from my persistent fascination with how Pixar keeps throwing trumps every year, I also loved a very personal chord that this film touched. That feeling of leaving the familiar environs of the place you went to school at, for college, has never been portrayed better anywhere else. I miss those days badly - the luxury to waste time. Things changed so much after I left for Delhi.

But, the best part of the day was listening to the soundtrack of Udaan. This is such a mind-blowing compilation that I felt guilty for having downloaded the album off the net. I am going to buy a CD of the songs soon. And I really look forward to the film, coming out on July 16. A film with songs like these can't be worth not seeing. A film-maker with music sense like this is worth looking out for.

To repeat what I just told a friend of mine on GTalk, Amit Trivedi is the new Rahman. In fact, I almost look forward to his new tracks now more eagerly than I do Rahman's. There surely can't be a bigger compliment.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Meetha Sa Chadha Hai Bukhaar...

Does it happen to you that a song that you heard some time back hits you suddenly in as mad a rush as the Mumbai rains?

It happens to me.

Very often.

I am not an expert on the intricacies of what constitutes a great song, but I do fall in love with songs once in a while. Like people tend to fall in love with other people for no rhyme or reason.

And then I fall out of love. As people tend to do. For no rhyme and reason again.

These days I am in love, for no reason I can explain, with O Pardesi from DevD. It's a beautiful sultry song that asks me to make love with it every time I hear it. I have multiple orgasms listening to it, and I keep playing it in an infinite loop on my iPod Touch.

I don't even dare to watch the clip from the film on YouTube for I am afraid I might die of happiness.

Ok, it's been 10 minutes since I listened to the song, and I need to get back for my fix now.

Nainon mein sapne hajaar, and all that...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nihari (and Butter Chicken) in Mumbai

I had made a memorable trip to Pakistan with college friends in 2006, and during our stay in Lahore, our host had helped us do a round of some of the best eating joints in the city. One of those memorable experiences included a breakfast of hot, soft Nihari and Khameeri Roti. A decidedly heavy meal, which still makes my mouth water on occasions.

Having spent a few years in Delhi, I also had the good fortune of trying out Nihari in the Jama Masjid area, but the less than clean environs do not encourage one to make frequent trips.

So, I had been looking for a long time for a clean eating joint that serves great Nihari - a dish very likely to figure among the top contenders when shortlisting a menu for gods.

And since I am writing all this here, it must be obvious that I have finally found a place like that in Mumbai.

The Lokhandwala outlet of Jaffer Bhai's Delhi Darbar does not have a seating arrangement yet, and I had to make a long pilgrimage from my flat in Goregaon East to the place and back before I could partake of the divine food, but it was all worth the trouble in the end.

The soft, succulent piece of meat accompanied with the delicious Khameer ki Roti made the one hour of combating Mumbai's weekend traffic a small price to pay.

And the gravy! The rich, thick gravy, sprinkled with green chillies, is not for the faint-hearted. A few hours after my lunch, I was already missing its taste.

The chicken biryani - one of the better ones I have had in Mumbai - and the shahi tukda - an absolute must after a good dum biryani - added to the beauty of the meal.

If you like (love) non-veg food, not having tried the Nihari at Jaffer Bhai's is unforgivable. The chain has outlets in other parts of Mumbai as well, where they also have full-fledged restaurants.

And this was on Saturday. I was back in Lokhandwala the next day. Their butter chicken is almost as memorable.

To think I still haven't tasted their Paya (which they make only in the evenings) and Khichda and so much else.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rajneeti, and Aloo ka Bhujiya

Two things I think Rajneeti could have significantly improved upon were the editing and the dialogues.

The film felt unbearably long at times. In fact, when the interval sign came up on the screen, I could hear several people exclaim, "What, abhi interval hi hua hai!". But, one can excuse the length given the
large number of important characters and so much happening between them. The Chopras took tens of episodes to cover the stretch of Mahabharat that this film covers in around 3 hours.

The dialogue, on the other hand, can't find refuge in any such excuse. Except for some rare moments of brilliance, I felt the dialogues did not pack the punch that the situations, the characters or the film itself deserved.

But, barring these small issues, and Arjun Rampal's wooden-ness (and even that seemed less wooden here), the film was a very enjoyable experience. Thankfully, I didn't go by Raja Sen's review and went ahead with the late night booking. I feel he was unnecessarily sarcastic and critical of a film that is a great watch not only because of the deliciously cruel and human characters it is populated with, but also the fun one has in drawing parallels with the original Mahabharat. Like Bharti's first son being born out of wedlock after a night spent with someone called Bhaskar, whom she worships like a God.

Raja Sen's review made me feel if he is being paid now to write reviews making fun of films, just as Nikhat Kazmi and Taran Adarsh seem to be in the pay of Bollywood to write glowing ones.

What I like about Prakash Jha's movies is this rawness that seeps through the frames. That rawness might seem to have dulled, with an out-of-place item number, where Katrina Kaif does her patented shimmying moves (you know, those ones where her hair is untied, blown by some unseen industrial size fan, she looks down, looks at you, smiles coyly?) almost providing the nadir of the man who started off with Daamul.

The traces of that rawness that are to be found here are deeply cherished. Even though chief-ministerial candidates getting down to shootouts and vindictive baseball bat sessions might seem far-fetched, the other bits of naked greed and ambition were extremely enjoyable. Especially considering that all happens within one family. So much for the Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham brand of cinema.

Even though Kalyug remains the best Mahabharat adaptation into modern life, Rajneeti does not do a tawdry job either. Any film that is well-made, largely well-paced and well-acted, and has almost no character, like Mahabharat, and like real life, completely fault-less, ought to be encouraged.

An experience with a film like this is like eating dal, bhaat and aloo ka bhujiya. It hits the right spot, even if the bhujiya might be a little too oily or the rice slightly under-cooked. Unlike most other good Hindi films today, which might be momentarily delicious like a pizza, but not what the body truly craves for.

***Spoiler Alert***

I did hope for a while that it would be revealed at the end that Indu was responsible for the death of Prithvi and Sarah - ek teer se do nishaane, getting the seat (CM's) and the meat (Ranbir's, if you may allow the rhyming) - maybe with the help of Brij. Draupadi and Krishna finally doing what they should have all those eons ago.

Also, Prakash Jha makes a Hitchcockian (or Ghai-an, if you prefer) cameo appearance towards the end of the film. Can't recall him doing that in any of his earlier films.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mani Order

I had met Mani Ratnam during his visit to our campus at IIMC a couple of years back, and have been in touch with his team ever since. Got a chance to see his newest release today. Helped by a special invite, you might want to know, to an exclusive premiere.

Raavan has to be the most quixotic film Mani sir has ever made. I am known to be biased against Amitabh Bachchan's son and daughter-in-law, neither of whom can act to save their lives, but who manage somehow.

Till now at least.

Abhishek Bachchan outdoes himself in the film. In overacting. If Mani sir hadn't been sitting beside me I would have probably walked out 1/3rd into the film. It's an insult seeing Abhishek Bachchan get another chance to come on the screen. He is just too bad.

The rest of the film, including the regularly idiotic Aishwarya Rai, is a lot more bearable. Now I know why she would want to act with her husband in films. It just hides her inadequate talents.

Sushmita Sen must burn so much (partly responsible for her tan) every time she sees Ash hamming through another role, and bagging all decent roles.

Monday, May 24, 2010


This must be the official pushing-away-friends week.

I very often feel that I am multiple people living within me. At least two different people. And the more stupid one, the one who is probably writing this, is the more dominant one.

I told a friend, whom I always want to meet and love immensely, that I was in Bangalore over the weekend. Even though I was whiling away time on a rare free weekend in Mumbai.

I haven't replied to this girl I knew in school, who was a close friend, and whose name I have been googling for ages to get a clue on where she was, and who finally mailed me this week. The last time I corresponded with her was in 2000. Because I am not sure I want to show her who I am now.

Have been avoiding talking to a close friend from engineering because I just don't know what to talk about.

And I have been trying to pick up fights deliberately with the friend I value the most.

And I can't control any of it. I really can't.

Maybe this is an apology.

But, we are like this wonly.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


It's kind of unfortunate that I so look forward to a movie despite it having the irritating Aishwarya Rai and the even-more-irritating Abhishek Bachchan.

Of course, if I knew Tamil I would have watched the Tam version, which I am sure is going to be better.

In the meantime, listen to Beera (

Monday, April 12, 2010

Consult Focused

Please do read the post below, where I appear to be a heartless capitalist bastard, but say, and more importantly, don't say, enough to show that I might not just be one.

I just found a few interesting articles that I really wished to share here, before I forgot, and hence this abrupt increase in frequency between consecutive posts.

Vibhor mailed me this link to a series of articles written by an MIT alumnus called Keith Yost, who worked for The Boston Consulting Group in Dubai for a few months and got back to Boston a lot wiser.

He writes extremely well, and even though I feel he is being a bit too harsh on Dubai, and way too harsh on BCG, thanks in no small measure to the immediate surge of antagonistic feelings one is bound to experience when leaving a job or a posting (refer my posts on Bangalore from last year), I enjoyed reading his articles on life in Dubai and life as a consultant.

Dubai's artificiality I can vouch for, and have written about more than once earlier. There can be few places I despise more.

BCG, on the other hand, is an interesting pack of people. Would reserve my comments on it. And other similar firms, who are the easiest targets for disillusioned grads from the top colleges across the world who think of themselves in more complimentary terms than they ought to.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Leaving Vidarbha

It might be evident that suicide is one of my favorite topics. I am intrigued by the various reasons why a person would want to end his/her life. In that spirit, I have been trying to understand the Vidarbha farmer suicides, including visiting some parts of the region because of some work-related assignment recently, and I have come across some startling facts. Startling for me, at least.

Most of the farmers who are committing suicide had a much better standard of living compared to farmers in backward states like Bihar, UP and Orissa. They owned significantly large pieces of land, their families owned cell phones, they had married off their daughters in grand style.

In fact, just taking loans to hold grand marriages so that neighbors would not consider them poor was the reason for so much misery. Relying purely on cash crops - like cotton and soybean, alcoholism, sending sons to private colleges they could not afford - these are just some of the reasons I had not realized were responsible for the much-publicized deaths.

Farmers were just living beyond the means they could afford to, and many took their lives, without thinking about the wives and daughters they were leaving behind, because they could not bear to not afford those means any more. Many were expecting that the compensation their families would get from the government after their deaths would help tide over the situation.

I cannot feel any degree of support for these people. Yes, there might be genuine cases of destitution in Vidarbha, where excessive reliance on unsustainable crops or belief in the wrong kind of financial institutions might have caused farmers to hang themselves or eat pesticides, but it largely comes across as another crop of Indians stretching their feet beyond what the bed-sheet permits.

The problem is not so much from the Government's side, as many self-righteous NGOs and social reformers allege, but from within. Tackle alcoholism. Teach the farmers to live within their means. Let them know that marrying your daughter by taking unserviceable loans is not intelligent. That might help save some lives.

Only some though. The impression I also get is that the situation has reached a tipping point where men almost unanimously feel that killing themselves is a good way to handle relatively temporary difficult times. It is a scary situation when a large chunk of the population decides to give up and not fight instead.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Reading Hood

I read Sidin Vadukut's Dork recently. That and responses from some of the people who have read the books by Arnab Ray and Fake IPL Player have sort of convinced me that it might not be a great idea of asking every popular blogger to pen down a book. Writing a blog-post for laughs/comments and writing a book that, apart from other differences, people would have to pay for are two different things. One sure can be good at both, but being good at one does not certify being good at the other.

Dork was not unreadable, and really quite enjoyable in parts. But, at many points the antics seemed extremely forced and unnatural. As if the publisher had rushed Vadukut to make a submission by a deadline. All said and done, though, the book is among the better ones churned out by IIT and/or IIM grads in the last few years. Maintaining even this for a trilogy (why does every new writer have to come up with a trilogy!) might be too painful though. For the readers.

The whole premise of The GameChangers sounds like a bad idea. I have not read the book, but just rehashing stuff from the blog, very obviously to make a quick buck in the IPL season, does not a good book make.

As far as Arnab Ray's book is concerned, I have read bits of it, which bit me enough to not try reading the whole thing. I have not exactly been one of his fans, and feel that his writing is way too over-rated. He comes up with some funny stuff once in a while, the instances of which have gotten rarer over the years, maybe because of the constant pressure to amuse the many regular readers waiting thirsty for some drop of humor in their lives, no matter how dull and stretched the joke might be.

I do appreciate his ability to poke fun at all sorts of cows, holy or not, which is always a good thing in our times, when everyone has a reason or two to get offended.

So, what I have been reading instead are some very good books. Just finished Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. A plot that essentially revolves around a killer ghost being bought by a retired rock star, who then tries to find a way to save himself, his girl-friend and two dogs, driving across a stretch of America, pursued by the ghost in his own ghost truck sounds extremely corny. And I would not have tried this out if I hadn't just got done with Hill's 20th Century Ghosts - a collection of some brilliant short stories - some time back. But, if writing spooky stories can be genetically inherited, Joe Hill has the best genes possible. His dad's Stephen King.

I also recently read Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindquist, the Swedish writer who had written Let the Right One In. Just as the latter is a unique take on vampires, Handling the Undead is a curious tale of the dead coming back to life. With very little actual 'action', unlike what we would expect after having seen films like Dawn of the Dead, the book is a look at how normal people react in such a situation.

These days, I am alternating between Way to Go by Upamanyu Chatterjee and An Englishman's Cameo by Madhulika Liddle. I have liked Chatterjee's writing, even if not all his books, ever since I read the phenomenal English, August. Very often, the sum of the parts of his books ends up being less than the parts themselves. As in, there are parts that are just brilliant, and the manner in which he describes extremely mundane happenings - an FIR with the local police in the first scene of Way to Go, for instance - is something I have not seen any other Indian writer be able to do. He has this knack of observing things that we see but do not register consciously. And end up having a sense of deja vu when we read it in his books.

Way to Go has started off on an interesting note, but remains to be seen how long it can maintain that.

Madhulika Liddle's book is a murder mystery set in Shahjahan's kingdom. I am through the first 80 or so pages of the 270-odd, and the investigation by the young and handsome Muzaffar Jang is still in its early stages. He has just spent some quality time with the courtesan Mehtab Banu, and we can look forward to some good sleuthing. No idea who the Englishman is.

I would have preferred the book to be darker, more in the zone of My Name is Red, but the tone here is not un-enjoyable either. I doubt if every custom, nuance of language, geographical and structural detail in the book is authentic, but the author has made a great effort and the sheen never fades off.

Next up is Agassi's Open.

In the recent series of interviews I conducted with B-school candidates, it was painful to see that even those who would mention reading as one of their interests had not gone beyond Dan Brown and Chetan Bhagat. It was just too dull talking to them about books in most cases.

I had once read an old mail from an alumnus who had been involved with the IIMC interview process about how he and the professors felt that the young just don't seem to have any interesting interests anymore. No one has any passion. No one goes beyond the common. The same books, the same sports, the same films, everything. I can't recall the exact theme of the mail, but it was roughly about the same dullness.

It made me feel quite old, but I had the same feeling during these interviews.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I got to know a few days back that a girl I knew in my engineering college days died recently. She took her own life. I didn't know her too well. But, I knew her.

In my final final year in Delhi, I had too much time on my hands, and I had joined an NGO that worked towards creating awareness about suicide. My job there was to talk to people who contacted the NGO for help. These people were on the verge of killing themselves, but had enough will to hold on to something.

That girl I knew, and had spoken to a few times, lost that will sometime last week.

She was a very good student. Belonged to a not so well-to-do family. Parents wanted to marry her off. I felt she preferred being with women. Her marriage was fixed. I got to speak with her 4-5 times in February-March 2006. She had got married a few months after I left Delhi.
She wanted badly to escape. She finally did.

I had contacted that NGO because I needed to get some sanity in my own life. After the craziness that my last couple of years in Delhi involved, I had given up a lot of hope. Just talking to people there helped a lot. I am a fair bit suicidal myself, but I have never gone to the limit of actually getting close to dying. A few cuts, a few rat-poison induced nose bleeds are mostly enough to give me enough of a scare. But, when I felt I was going beyond these relatively harmless limits, I sought help. I recovered, thanks in no small measure to some very important friends. It was suggested that, having been through those killer times, I should talk to others in similar situations. It was very cathartic, and probably helped some other people too, in that they found someone who was not judgmental.

During those painful years, what I realized was that the worst thing you can do to a person contemplating suicide is to tell him that suicide is for cowards. It really does not help. Very often, a person thinking of taking his own life is at the absolute bottom of self-worth. Telling him that the one resolution he can think of will only make him appear even worse cannot be of help. It might appear like an attempt at simplifying something that is really a lot more complex, but just listening is a lot more helpful.

A person inherently does not want to die. It is difficult to imagine how caged one must feel to take that step. Most people also do think of what effect it might have on their loved ones - their parents, friends, everyone who came to know them. To ignore all of this, to ignore all the pain, to just give up not being there tomorrow in the scheme of things - it's not an easy decision. It is taken only when multiple calls for help are not heeded. It is taken only when everything else seems pointless.

During my association with the NGO a school girl had jumped to death from her 5th floor flat because she thought she had not done well in her Boards. I had spoken to her two days before she died. It is not a great thing knowing that there might have been a chance I could have convinced her to live.

It is still not a great thing four years down. I am sorry Sakshi.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Food, Quizzing, My Life

I'm slightly worried right now because a recent visitor to my blog from Denver, CO, came here after searching on Google for "I let my young son play with my cock". I hope he was referring to the poultry at his farmhouse.

Anyway, to each his own daddy.

As someone implied on Twitter, the hiatus has indeed been partly because of a marriage. But not mine. Was away for a cousin's marriage. That was only for 3-4 days though. Some work-related submissions, some personal work and some work-life issues were responsible too. Plus, we did a couple of quizzes for NIT Durgapur at their Tech Fest, Aarohan. But, I am back now and that should make you very happy, no?

A good amount of my time lately has gone into mock interviewing candidates for various B-schools. It's more fun than anything else that I have done lately. And I get paid for it too. Met some amazing people, both as interviewees or co-panelists.

I like it that way - meet people for a brief while, get to know about them, have a bit of good time, and then move on. No pain of being in touch, maintaining relationships, with all and sundry. If someone's really great, you can stay in contact and get together for drinks/dinner once in a while. If
really great. Everyone gets painful after some time though. The time it takes to get painful varies, that's all.

Been doing the usual stuff, watching films, reading. And cooking. My cooking skills have improved considerably over the last few weeks. But, I can't bear to cook the usual
aloo-baingan and aloo-matar. Not that cooking them is any easier than cooking Thai red curry mix vegetable, but it's just too boring to do all the pre-cooking cutting and post-cooking cleaning for something that my bai can make with her eyes shut. So, only (slightly) exotic stuff for me. I am still not confident enough to make others eat what I have cooked though.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Auto Know Better

A question that I get asked almost as often as "When are you getting married?" is "So what car are you buying?". I find both questions as unnecessary as people asking "Wassup?" or "How are you doing?". And hence merit no reply.

But, maybe a blog post.

At least the car question.

Buying a car is like having a baby. Far too many people do it just because they can.

I think most people will do this world a whole lot good if they didn't buy a car, just as many others would if they did not have a baby. They don't know how to care for one, how to treat one or how to ride one. Car, not baby.

A car is hardly aspirational anymore. Every goddamned person can afford one. And then one more. It's just another machine like a microwave or a TV meant to provide some help.

And practically speaking, especially if you are single, but even otherwise, having a car probably ends up being more a hassle than a help. In a city like Mumbai particularly, where the public modes of transportation are fairly decent, it makes a lot of sense to not add to the traffic even if you can afford to buy a car. Of course, I realize that I might be overlooking some issues like overburdened buses and trains or possible difficulty in getting a cab or rick if a lot more people decided to use them instead of personal cars.

So, I'll just talk at a personal level about my reasons. I can't imagine liking to drive in any city in India. I haven't been to all cities, but have enough experience to make that claim. Heavy traffic, road encroachments, potholed roads, no lane discipline - this is the stuff that a taxi driver's dreams might be made of, but I would rather stick to horror stories that I see on the screen than on the road.

I don't think I have the patience to engage everyday with all the frustrated drivers, pedestrians, stray dogs and other assorted creatures that inhabit our roads on my way to work or back, and still be able to work properly. I enjoy sitting back in a rickshaw or cab and looking at the hoardings or reading on my phone or watching something on my laptop.

Apart from the in-use hassles that driving on most city roads in India entails, the maintenance and servicing of a car is just too much extra work. Getting hit by someone, hitting someone yourself, arguments, insurance, being fleeced by the auto-mechanic, periodic servicing - that's so much precious time lost when I can sit in my living room drinking beer and lazying away. Just parking and then taking it out from the parking is such a headache half the times!

Plus, you are always worried of the car or some part being stolen. Or losing your keys inside. Or the tyre getting punctured at some random place where you have to change the tyre yourself.

One solution to many of these issues could be hiring a driver while you sit back comfortably in your car. Leave the dirty work to lesser mortals. Now that is one option worth exploring.

But, I am not sure I am willing to bear the costs of car loan, petrol AND driver's salary for something I don't need in the first place. If not a rick or a cab, my thumb works just fine.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

MnA Activity

So much to write about, so much lethargy that keeps me from doing it.

But one thing that always gets me excited and makes me want to write is when any of our quizzes get appreciated. Which, thankfully, happens every time we do a quiz.

Menon did a General Quiz at Instruo, the tech-fest at Bengal Engineering and Science University in Howrah on Saturday (6th). Like past MnA quizzes, this one seems to have been a success too. If accounts of Mr Menon's flamboyance are anything to go by.

MnA also came up with (part of) the questions for an internal quiz for The Boston Consulting Group last week. Adds another respectable name to our roster.

We have also done two quizzes so far for o3 Capital, an investment bank. A cricket quiz at their head-quarters in Bangalore, and a general quiz at their off-site in Bangkok. Both were appreciated a lot, and we have had invitations to do more.

And then, I am doing two quizzes for NIT Durgapur in the first week of March. There are some issues related to scheduling that need to be sorted out, but that should not be a major hiccup.

I have gloated about this far too many times earlier, but that won't keep me from doing it more. I (and we) love making and conducting quizzes, and it's great to realize every time that we do it well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Of Cutting Wrists

I am watching this film called Wristcutters: A Love Story. It's been just about 20 minutes into the film, and I am sure this is going to be one of my most favorite movies.

The basic premise is one of the most brilliant I have known this side of H2G2. People who commit suicide end up at this limbo kind of place. The male lead cuts his wrists, and ends up working at this pizza joint called Kamikaze Pizza in his afterlife, filled with daily trips to the bar, getting drunk and not doing much.

Another Russian chap, who used to live in the US, and killed himself by pouring liquor into his electric guitar during an under-appreciated rock performance, is living with his mother who took out her intravenous tube because she missed Russia, his father who hanged himself because he missed the mother, and his gay brother who did something because he probably just missed having a good shag.

I would love to stay in this place if it existed really.

We have just discovered that the girl-friend of the male lead also committed suicide. Interesting prospects arise.

While watching the film, these thoughts just came to me:

a) Would all those army men who jump into the battlefield knowing pretty much that their odds of dying are really high end up in such a place?

b) Would all those office people who lead sad, boring lives doing pointless work and dying of a heart-attack for lack of proper exercise end up there too?

c) Would all those idiots who spend their hard-earned money drinking all too much, and screwing up their liver, end up there as well?

If a film has made me think so much in just 20 minutes of its full running time of 1 hour 28 minutes 5 seconds, it must be quite something.
Or maybe not, depending on how you look at it. I should be watching the film rather than thinking so much!

Also, hadn't realized that the sight of cut wrists, if they are not yours, is not quite endearing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


After a brief period of pinkness, those feelings of chucking my job and doing something more free have resurfaced again. So, my opinion on the TV series might be more than a little biased.

I had heard of Glee, and had checked it out on Wikipedia and IMDb. But, the plot didn't excite me enough to download it. But, winning against 30 Rock, Entourage and, especially, Modern Family counts for something.

So, I downloaded the pilot. The episode's longer than most others in the genre. It even felt boring at times, and I was wondering hard how this could beat Modern Family, which has got to be the most intelligent and entertaining series you haven't seen. Assuming, you have seen Entourage and 30 Rock already.

But, by the time it closed I was a fan. I have spoken more than once about how difficult it is to get the screenplay right. To go for the long jump, but not jump too far onto the hard ground again. This series manages to do that. At least in the pilot. Have to see the rest of the season to know for sure, but if the first season is anything to go by, the HFPA didn't make a very poor decision.

The reason why it strikes close is because it is about a person who could be in accounts and earn more money, but chooses to be a high school teacher.

I am still an Entourage fan though. Even though their last season was very drab.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My Best Friend - II

Vibhor referred me to this blog. I had been thinking about how pointless it is to write here, and couldn't think of anything to write about, but this post hit me really bad. I am really missing Sheru and Heena now.

My relationship with my family, like with most other people I know, isn't exactly great. We have learned to tolerate each other, and probably share a bit more of our happiness and sadness than we would with a complete stranger, but I have increasingly grown distant from them. Apart from some close cousins, I can't bear meeting any relative. Even the communication with my parents and sister is really minimal. I find it incredible when some of my friends tell me that they call home everyday. So, when I do go home once in a while, I spend most of my time with our dogs. They understand everything. Expect nothing. Of course, since I have largely been away from home since the time these two chaps came into our family, I don't connect with them as much as I had with the earlier Heena.

Had recently read a post by Jai Arjun Singh, where he was talking about Foxie after watching Paa. Dogs really are like living with children with Progeria. From the day they come into your life, you know you will most likely outlive them. You will see them grow from these small, cute pups into sturdy adults and then gradually wither into weakness. And then they'll leave. If you have ever had an animal you loved die, you would know how maddeningly painful it is.

I have had this debate more than once with a close friend, who does not think very highly of having pets, about this 'love' that people profess for dogs, or for any other animal. Do we really love dogs, when we commit them to a life of domesticity, sort of emasculating them and preventing them from living a life of freedom, in the wild, or even around humans but fending for themselves.

I am not sure. I do make the same mistake that many others do - of confusing a dog's dependence on me for food, for taking him out for a walk, for playing with him with a ball, as his love for me. Deriving happiness from treating an animal like a kid, turning a creature into a baby that needs your care and then feeling good about providing that care - does that animal really need it? Isn't that care, that proximity, that understanding you can never share with another human being, more your need than the animal's?

As I said, I don't know. I probably do need that love more than the dog. I probably needed Heena more in my life - to sit with her and talk to (and with) her, to go on long walks with her, to feel the gratification of her telling me that she had missed me when I would come back from a trip, to help me cope with a lot of pain and confusion that growing up was - than she ever needed me or my family.

And I am willing to bear the punishment for having subjected her to a life less free than she might have had otherwise. The pain that punishment would involve, or the much greater pain I undergo every time I think about her and miss her, cannot match up to what she gave me in those 10-11 years she was around.

That is why, even though I know I will be renewing my chances of even more pain in the future by doing this, I wish I will be able to have a dog as a pet once more.

And, I hope Badal comes back. Or at least is happy wherever he is.

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