Friday, June 15, 2007

Sivaji: Review

wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwThe Emperor Strikes Back!

Despite being a hard-core Rajni fan, I am trying my best to give you an objective review.

First things first, this movie is a gift for hard core Rajni fans: dollops of humour(tons of nakkal), oodles of style, well choreographed stunt scenes and the magnetic on-screen persona that truly reminds you of the effervescence of a Billa-Ranga-Baasha-Rajni. But what it doesn't have is a story, and that's probably the weakest link in a "could-have been" very strong chain.

Sivaji is probably the first Tamil movie that has kicked up quite a frenzy in the national media. I have never ever seen a Tamil movie-release being mentioned ahead of the presidential candidate on the headlines of every major news network. The Indian media devotes time to news items with a good "stickiness" quotient in order to cash in on all those eye balls that are either hungrily waiting to lap up thalaivar or itching to make that smart-ass comment. And, only Brand Rajni allows you to do that. I am in no way slighting the A-list of technicians, director, music director and producer who have joined hands with Rajni, but I guess in the end the one person who can sustain your interest is Rajni. I think a creatively bankrupt Shankar realized this quite early into his beaten to death script of cleansing the Indian system. Although, credit is due for amplifying thalaivar's "Style" quotient to never-seen-before levels. Rajni, despite his age and the constant doubts of whether he can do it again, delivers, correction, delivers BIG TIME.

The S-U-P-E-R-S-T-A-R - R-A-J-N-I lettering appears on the screen with a new and improved BGM track from A.R. Rehman, which I thought was pretty cool. Sivaji doesn't have the characteristic "cracker" opening that you expect from a Rajni-film. It's pretty sedate where a masked Rajni is brought to the central prison. I think Shankar was trying to build-up the viewers expectation and make him anticipate how the man behind the mask is going to look like since his last release. You know, like unveiling a work of art. But, I must say that it falls flat. An understated opening is not Rajni's style and thankfully that’s the only mistake that Shankar has done while showcasing Rajni for his millions of fans. So what has made thalaivar to land in prison? That constitutes the next 140 minutes of the film.

Sivaji (Rajni), a green card holder and a software systems architect in the United States returns to Chennai to invest his savings of 200 crores for the last 20 odd years to build a foundation that provides free education and medical facilities. He is ably assisted by his young Amma-Thambi (when conventionally addressed thaimaman) Vivek. Vivek also takes the additional responsibility of getting Rajni hooked up with a girl of Rajni's tastes, surprise- surprise, a good tamil ponnu! The first half is quite mundane where the story goes through the motions. And, you know what, its like football!

First pass – Rajni and Vivek play the comic-duo act while wooing an irresistable Shriya (she has set the screen on fire in the song sequences) who works as a sales girl in a music shop. The comedy is really good when its just Rajni and Vivek, but it gets rather staid when its ensemble. Especially the sequence with Solomon Pappiah and patti mandram-fame Raja who plays Sivaji's dad. Ballelakka is quite average, nothing to write home about. Rajni's dance movements in the songs are straight out of an aerobics class. Thotta Tharani and Shankar have the Andan Kaaka hangover from Anniyan. But he more than makes up for it with the "style" song. It is shot well and I thought that will be the highlight of the film until I saw athiradee in the second half. *pure dynamite* Ok, no more digressing, back to the first half.

Second Pass – Rajni bribing all the politicians and removing all the obstacles that comes his way to build the foundation; Rajni getting shocked with the rampant corruption in the system and so on and so forth. The bar scene where M.S Bhaskar, Vivek and Rajni meet to discuss 'business' is quite funny. There is this fight sequence in the music shop where I guess the motive was to use music instruments as props and communicate subtle humor ala Jackie Chan. Bad Idea!

Third Pass – Rajni's mini showdowns with Adhiseshan (Suman) a greedy educationist who wants to stop Rajni at any cost even if it requires him to change the government 'just-like-that'. Suman is suave as the villain but I don't think he can hold a candle to Ramyakrishnan (Padayappa) or Sathyaraj (Mr. Bharath).

So the scenes in the first half unfolds just like a football match. First pass- second pass-third pass, Goal? Nope! It clearly misses the mark. Shankar is not able to present it cohesively. There are not many punch dialogues, although Vivek gets a to mouth cheeky one-liners (especially his take on the young wannabe superstar heroes). It works in parts mainly because of the comedy but does not flow seamlessly like it ought to considering the fact that Shankar is the director.

At the end of the first half Rajni is broke and is brought to the streets. Adhiseshan mocks him and encourges thalaivar to take-up begging as a profession by donating him a one rupee coin (gets the desired effect, fans start booing the villain *chuckle*, only Rajni can make people so involved). Rajni tosses the coin in the air, if its heads he is going to unleash the lion in him (singha vazhi) and if its tails poo vazhi. No prizes for guessing, singha vazhi it is! And at this point you get to hear the punch dialogue "summa adhuridhila" which you would have seen on the trailers. So that sets up the second half, how does thalaivar turn around the tables?

During the interval, I was a little worried. I was cursing Shankar and felt that Rajni should have said yes to Mudhalvan. Lot of thoughts were running through my head. The scenes before interval certainly upped the ante but it still was pretty uninspiring. Could this go the Baba-way? With a heavy heart I settled back into the seat readying myself for the worst and praying for the best.

The second half is far-fetched, illogical and one-dimensional. And that dimension is Rajni who is smoking hot. He oozes charisma in every single frame that he keeps you yearning for more. Shankar has gone over-the-top by coming up with some ridiculous and impractical ideas to cleanse the system. The issue he wants to tackle here is unaccounted black money and how it can help India to transform into a model state. Shankar, please, you are no Manmohan Singh or P. Chidambaram to dabble into "Black-Economy" for a whole 90 minutes and present your master-thesis in setting things right. Stop dumbing-down issues that are beyond you to make it palatable to the masses. Phew! Now with that said lets get back to Thalaivar. Rajni and Vivek are on a mission to bring out all the black money in the country. How they do it? Don't ask they somehow do it. Their plan is to get a 50 percent share of all the black money that bigwigs haven't disclosed. They adopt Shankar's ingenious method of converting black money to white and pump it back into their "Sivaji-Foundation" project. So all the duped politicians and other biggies including Adi seek revenge. They somehow seize Rajni's laptop that contains his financial transactions and put him in prison. Post-which there is a silly twist in the climax, which will make the purists wince. But what it does is extend the climax and bring the uber-cool mottai Rajni to the silver screen. I think Shankar saw what the lakka lakka mouthing king-Rajni could do to Chandramukhi. So he has aped the concept to heighten the tempo of the film. It works well especially the matrix style stunt scenes with mottai-boss Rajni in the climax. Rajni's mogambo-like mottai getup will make the ticket price worth it. Don't dismiss this as a fan-boy observation. This is something that needs to be seen, to be believed.

The things that work in the second half are plenty. The bajji-kadai scene where Rajni offers Adi a bajji is coool. Rajni makes a new style statement by flipping the one rupee coin sideways. The action sequence with Adi's men in the godown is brilliant. Adi's men lecture Rajni about the perils of coming solo into the villain's den. And Rajni's repartee brings the house down, " Panni-nga dhaan kootama varum *pause- dishum dishum* , Singham single-aaa dhaan varum." Rajni also does an impersonation of MGR, Sivaji and Kamal songs which is rip-roaring. Rajni imitating somebody, hmmmm he doesn't do that very often, and so it was quite novel and enticing. The picturization of the songs in the second half are brilliant. Thotta Tharani should be commended for the sets of the Sahana Pookal song. Recreating a glass model of the louvre and a spherical dome, with a desert on one side of the glass panel and a waterfall on the other is no mean feat. And the song Adhiradee is a visual treat, I think this is something that will be talked about for ages. So, like muqabla from kaadhalan, Shankar packages a mini-movie in this 4 and a half-minute song that keeps your adrenaline pumping. Bravo!

Well, net-net, I know the story is pretty lame. But who gives a flying duck for logic in a Rajni movie. I thought Shankar might for a change, but he hasn't. So its one scoop less in what could have ideally been triple scoop chocolate sundae with a cherry on the top. Anyway its summer and I am thrilled that I got my ice cream!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mere Sapno Ki Rani Kab Aayegi Thu- Part 3

This is the third part to a story that I started sometime last year. I think I have apologized enough for my inaction all these days :). Many of you would not even remember the first 2 parts, so here are the links to them, part 1 & part 2


Appan put the stand on his Hercules and was walking towards the door when he heard the gate violently creak open. A livid Appan turned around to see the postman’s son precariously perched on his dad’s cycle gasping for breath. Appan had told the boy a million times to not open the gate door by banging his cycle into it, but, to no avail.

Postman's Son: “Anna! You got a trunk call from Madras, come to the post office”

Appan: “I will be there in a minute!”

Chandru usually had the habit of calling up Appan at unearthly hours. It was easy for him as he had a phone at his home. Appan on the other hand, had to embark on a 15 minute journey to the postman’s house (which also doubled up as the post office) to receive the call. Moreover, the postman usually gave Appan cold stares. And, quite rightly so, no self respecting government employee receives calls for others at 10 in the night. But, anyway the frown usually turned into a smile when Appan gave him the customary 1 rupee at the end of the call.

However, on this occasion Appan didn’t mind the late call from Chandru. Appan walked into the post office and sat on the chair next to the phone. The normally agitated postman looked excitedly towards the phone and told him that the call was from a lady who identified herself as Visalakshi. Appan found that strange, because it was the first time Chandru’s wife was calling him. It definitely must be something important he thought. The postman pulled up another chair and sat opposite to Appan.

Postman: “Love-aa?”

Appan: "WHAT???"

The postman’s eye brows arched and he looked at the phone questioningly. Appan, understood that look, and then realized why the agitation gave way to excitement. This occurrence really had the potential to be a major talking point in the 36 houses that dotted the village tomorrow. He still vividly remembered the animated discussions and heated arguments in the village surrounding the mating of the milk man's dog with the temple priest's dog. Though the issue eventually got resolved in the panchayat, the rumour mills in the village went so overboard that the two factions resorted in spreading wild rumours about their personal lives. Appan found it particulary amusing when the holy priest accused the milkman of being too pre-occupied with the grocer's wife that he forgot to tie-up his dog. Anyway, Appan knew that he had to stamp out the issue then and there before it reached monstorous proportions. Just as Appan wanted to clear the air, the phone rang.

Appan (alarmed look, on seeing the Postman still sitting in front of him with a wicked smile): “Hello, Appan here.”

Visalakshi: “Hello Thambi, how are you?”

Appan: “ I am fine! How is Chandru?”

Appan (covers the receiver, and looks angrily at the postman who was still sitting in front of him): “ Chandru is her husband, she is married for God’s sake, can I have some privacy please!”

Visalakshi: “He is busy as always.”

Postman (with a sly look on his face, gets up from the chair): “Oh she is married, interesting, then you need all the privacy in the world!”

Appan (red-faced, removing his hand from the receiver): “So, ANNI (stressing on the word and searching for the postman who by then left the room), what’s the matter? “

Visalakshi (Surprised on being addressed Anni, that was a first!): “Oh nothing!”

Appan: “Nothing??”

Appan looked skywards and was thinking of the tales of his lecherous pursuits that will be doing the rounds in the village for a long time to come for a nothing-phone call.

Visalakshi: “Uh, actually, will it be possible for you to come to Madras tomorrow?”

Appan: “Is there any occasion?”

Visalakshi: “Yeah, sort of, Kathiresan chettiar’s daughter is a distant cousin of mine.”

Appan (in rapt attention): “Oh!”

Visalakshi: “I am sure you are aware of your impending engagement”

Appan: “Yeah I got to know about it today.”

Visalakshi: “Do you know her name?”

Appan (sheepishly): “Uh, actually no, that would have been my next question.”

Visalakshi: “You see that’s the problem. We are still old fashioned.”

Appan was waiting expectantly to hear the name…

Visalakshi: “You both are young and I thought it was important that you people get to know each other a little more before the engagement. By the way, let me tell you she is a really smart and talented girl. She can sing really well. She also paints. In fact she recently stood second in the singing competition organized by the Rotary club of Karaikudi.”

Visalakshi: “So, she is in Madras tomorrow visiting her uncle and maybe you can take her out to the Kabaleeshwarar temple. By the way, they have painted the temple you know, very tastefuly done actually.”

Appan(ears trained hard at the receiver to catch that name): “I will be there tomorrow, so what did you say her name was?”

Visalakshi (laughing): “Oh I am sorry! Silly me, I always have this habit…. “

Appan (irritated): “The name please?”

Visalakshi: “Valliammai.”

Appan: “Hmmm Valliammai”

Visalakshi: “Yeah Valliammai, so come to our house directly once you get down from the bus tomorrow thambi.”

Appan couldn't believe his luck, he was actually going to get a chance to talk to the girl he was going to get engaged to before the engagement. Through this one single act Chandru's wife has liberated the chettiar community from the time-warp that it was stuck to. She epitomized the progressive broad-mindedness of the Chettiar woman of the seventies. A smiling Appan placed the receiver and turned around to face the postman. The postman gave Appan an ugly leer.

Appan (raising his voice): “It's not what you are thinking, she is my Anni, didn’t you overhear the conversation!”

Postman (with an offended look): “Me, Overhear! Chi chi chi….moreover, you needed the privacy!”

Appan (taking out a 1 rupee coin from his pocket): “Oh please! I am going to get engaged next month to a girl called Valliammai”

Postman (shocked): “Oh the poor thing! Does Valliammai know about this?”

Appan (stuffing the 1 rupee coin in the postman’s pocket): “That’s it! I don’t have to explain all this to you .”

Postman: “You don’t have to pay me sir, your secret is safe with me, not a word I promise!”

Appan (livid): “What secret? This is the usual....Ah, nevermind !”

Appan looked at his watch, it was 10:20. He could probably make the 11 o’clock bus to Madras. Appan walked hurriedly out of the postman’s house.

Postman (walking into his bedroom): “Hey Santha, do you want to know something interesting!”

Santha (postman’s wife who is half asleep): “What could possibly be interesting in the middle of the night?”

Postman: “You know our engineer Appan na…but promise me you will not tell anyone else!”

To be continued...(two more parts)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Another apology

Firstly, I apologize for my long absence. A combination of factors prevented me from polluting the world wide web with my thoughts. The factors being

1. Relocating to a new city, Hyderabad
2. New job, where lazy me has to cope up with hyper-active boss (yeah I know a very unhealthy combination that shows strong symptoms of a bad appraisal :) )
3. Not having an internet connection at home

A lot of things to write about, more importantly, a story to complete. Please keep visiting this space :)

Friday, June 30, 2006

Lionel Missy

I (Ram) was watching the highlights of the Argentina versus Serbia group match with a school friend of mine.

Friend: "Oh look there is Aimar"

I was surprised because not many Indian women take interest in Argentina let alone Argentine football and let "one-more" alone Pablo Aimar. I was also surprised because the closest my friend ever got to a ball was bringing the "globe" from the staff-room to our geography class.

The commentators got super excited when Argentina scored the second goal of the match in what was eventually going to be a 6-0 rout. And they very well ought to because that goal was a result of 24 sublime passes. It was a treat for someone like me who has supported Diego's Argentina since Italia'90. So I naturally did a celebratory jig, however, I was once again surprised because my friend wore a disinterested look on her face.

Ram: "What's the matter?"

Friend: "Ah nothing!"

Ram: "NOTHING! What do you mean nothing ? That will probably remain the greatest goal to be scored in this Cup."

Friend (seeing if the shade of the nail polish on her left thumbnail matched the right thumbnail):"Is this one a little darker? Elle's light pink is a lot darker than Lakme's."

Ram(preventing myself from killing her): "You didn't answer my question!!!"

Friend:"Oh the goal, yeah it was good"

Ram: "Good... thats it!!!Good....what do you know about football?"

Friend: "Oh shut up! Don't you dare make any sexist comments.I know my football. Heck, you know what, in the seven-a-side college team, I was left back."

People sure change for the better when I don't see them for a couple of years. I mean, not that I am bad influence or anything but from the globe to a football, damn! She played for her bloody college while I..uh...well...all I had to show was a pot belly and a worn out couch. But there wasn't much I could do anyway. I was simply not cut out for Football or cricket or basketball or kho kho or tennikoit. Although I was an expert at analyzing the finer aspects of the game like the players, clubs, transfers, substitutions, angle of free kicks, hairstyles, weight of the ball and the grass on the pitch. During my school days I actually thought I was probably a little too you young to emulate the Romario's, Becker's and the McGrath's. And, now seeing the Messi's, Nadal's and Pathan's I think I realize I am a little too old to do something about my deficiencies.

Friend(determined to stay on topic): "Did you ever play football?"

I was jolted out of my reverie. It was as if she read my mind and moreover she looked menacing. I wasn't very good at differentiating hues of pink but my colour coding capabilities were good enough to notice that the lady's face was a flaring-bright red. It was better if I put an end to the issue now before she asked me any disconcerting questions of her own.

Ram(trying to change topics): " know sister uses Revlon...just the right shade of pink, it would even match your you wanna try?"

Friend: "You didn't answer my question."

Ram(cornered look):"Uh...yeah, I play..I used to play"

Friend: "Never saw you play in school"

Ram (a little scared): "I played with the guys in the colony"

Friend: "Oh so you never played for our school"

I needed to do something fast and thats when I used a trick that I unconsciously picked up from the males of the Pillai family. It was as though my forefathers were talking to me like the voice from heaven in B.R Chopra's Mahabarata: "Son! Whenever the woman is on the offensive, you make her realize that you are the man of the house and you do not like to get talked down to. Fear not my child, stand your ground!"

Ram: "You made your point Pinkie, I didn't play for the school or the university or the district or the state or the country, but I know to appreciate good goals"

I didn't know if that worked but Miss Pinkie reverted her attention back to her finger nails. Both of us were quiet while Argentina scored 3 more goals and peace prevailed until Lionel Messi scored the 6th goal in the 88th minute of the game. Miss Pinkie jumped with joy

Friend: "Now thats a goal...what a player, he is so cute"

Ram: "What!!! It was a good goal alright and if not for Tevez's pass it would have never been a goal"

Friend: "Tevez looks like crap and so does that baldie who scored the greatest goal of the world cup!"

Ram(sneering):"This isn't fancy dress competition and his name is Cambiasso, hey wait a minute..."

Friend: "What?"

Ram: "You only know the names of the good looking guys, don't you?"

Friend: "NOOOO, dont assume things"

Ram: "Okay whats the name of Argentina's coach?"

Friend: "Pekerman"

Ram: "Ahaa so you have a thing for older guys...the Richard Gere...Sean Connery I know why you admire Abdul Kalam so much"

Friend: " Oh just shut up Ram, don't make a fool out of yourself"

Ram: "Whats the name of their goalkeeper?"

Friend: "I dont have to answer that question to prove a point!"

Ram: "You bloody well can't. Because you don't fancy Abbondanzieri."

Friend (defeated look): "You can think whatever you want to."

Ram(clearly enjoying): "Okay all you have to do is explain what offside is in Football and I swear will do whatever you want me to do...think about it... its like a blank cheque"

Friend (thinking hard for a minute): " Stop being juvenile, I know having cerebral capabilities that matches a frog doesn't help much, but, you could atleast make an effort to act mature like other adults."

Getting compared to a Frog, definitely hurt and I was trying my best not to show it.

Voice from heaven: "Son! persistence pays don't budge an inch. Women insult you when they cannot justify themselves."

Ram: "So Miss Left Back doesn't know. Hey! did you say you were left back for your team or left back from your team"

Friend ( face pales): " I don't have to respond to ape-men like you."

I have to admit it, I felt a little proud. With one accusation I made a huge leap. (from being a frog to being an ape).

Friend: "Its the right hand side of the ground"

Ram(puzzled): "What?"

Friend (a little unsure): "Offside"

It took some time for me to make the connection. Apparently Miss Pinkie got the football "offside" confused with the cricket "offside". It had me in splits.

Ram (uncontrollable laughter): "So whats onside then?"

Friend ("I want to run away from here" look): " The left side??"

Ram (falling off the chair): "Brilliant!!!"

Sunday, June 11, 2006


"Once you get to Chennai, buy your own auto", sagely advice from an American friend who clearly didn't enjoy his tryst with the auto-man empire of Chennai. A five kilometere journey in the city could cost you around 50 rupees. A 4 rupee price hike in petrol could make autocratic drivers demand 70 rupees without batting an eyelid. Hmmm, you might ask, "What ever happened to the meter?" The auto meter is a decorative piece of instrument made by a company called PRICOL and is universally detested by the auto-seekers of Chennai. Primarily because every manufactured piece is carefully redesigned by our enterprising auto-men which makes the meter run faster than Superman.

So to sum it all up, an auto ride is one harrowing experience. To make it a little less harrowing you should probably get yourself a business law degree with a specialization in negotiation.

However, the entire exercise leads to some lighter moments. At a recent get together with some of my college buddies we were recollecting a couple of such exchanges:

SK (friend of mine in Adyar):Sir, can you come to Ashok Nagar?
Auto guy: Yes Sir.
SK: How much?
Auto guy: 150 rupees sir.
SK: Hmmm..I know Adyar is in Chennai, isn't Ashok Nagar in Chennai too?
Auto guy:!!!!
The distance between Adyar and Kilpauk is 11 kms. 8 rupees per km is considered extremely reasonable

Vivek (in Kilpauk): Can you come to Adyar?
Auto guy: 120 rupees sir
Vivek: 40 rupees
Auto guy (stops the vehicle and pulls the key out of the ignition): I have driven this auto for 8 years, and I swear on this key you will never get an auto.
Vivek: Ok, 45 rupees, last and final!
Auto guys (shakes his head): Saaaar!!!
Vivek (magnanimously): Okay 60 and no more.
Auto guy (looks skywards): Fine lets go

a couple of hours later...
Vivek: Kumar, the auto guy fleeced me man
Kumar (smiling inwardly, welcome to Chennai! bangalore boy): So how much did you pay?
Vivek: I paid 60 da
Kumar (slightly flustered): from where to where?
Vivek(in the same breath as going from the living room to the bath room): from Kilpauk to Adyar
Kumar(incredulously): What 60 rupees from Kilpauukkk to Adyaarrr?
Vivek: Is that a lot? I knew it. Didn't like the sight of the guy.
Kumar (a long journey at 12 in the night, trying to make it a little interactive):So,how long are you driving this auto?
Auto guy: 10 months sir. I am getting married next month sir. I live in Adyar kuppam sir.
Kumar(ask one question, get three answers not bad, only if my clients were that easy): brill..
Auto guy (starts off before Kumar completes): Not exactly Adyar kuppam.Actually sir, I belong to Madurai sir. You know Madurai sir, captain's hometown sir. I am voting for captain sir. Are you voting sir?
Kumar: Uh..I
Auto guy: Captain is a nice guy sir. I am not exactly from Madurai sir, I am from a place called Usilampatti sir, famous for rowdies sir.
Kumar (gulp): Oh I see.
Auto Guy: Even I was a rowdy till last year sir. We usually start off when we are 16 sir and we are in the gang till 22 sir and then they let us go our own way sir.
Kumar(fidgety, 3 more kms to home): Oh cool
Auto guy: I didn't like it sir. My brother is also in the gang I am asking him to come out of it sir. But they pay him well and he even was a part of that high profile murder a year back sir. He got 1500 rupees for it sir. You would have seen it on paper too sir.
Kumar(shitting bricks): Uhh..what..
Auto guy: I hope you dont get me wrong sir, we don't kill sir. We just make up the numbers sir. You know like in the movies. We are in the background. All murders we do are for real-estate and politics sir. We don't kill common men like you sir.
Kumar( stretching head out to see how far the apartment is): Very nice, you are considerate.
Auto guy (flashing a smile into the rear view mirror): Yes sir, that we are.

I don't know if that even sounded remotely funny. Situational humour is best when translated on screen.

Not many people get a chance to develop a personal relationship with the auto-driver to know the difficulties they face. Now, don't get me wrong here, I whole heartedly agree that 70 rupees for 5 kms is daylight robbery. But they have their own problems, paying off the RTO, paying off the cop, paying off the owner if its a rented auto, supporting their family etc.

There have been many poignant experiences with a slight undercurrent of humour. I would like to narrate one such experience. (I really know this auto guy well and so we kinduv pull each others legs very often)

Auto guy: All you officer people, you earn so much. Whats there in giving us 10 rupees more with a smile on your face.

Kumar: Let them increase my pay and I will be happy to give you the extra 10 rupees. In fact I always tell my manager about you.

Auto guy: Yeah right! I believe you. Tell me, Whats my name?

Kumar: Chinniah

Auo guy: Ah you are educated so you remember names.Ok tell me how much you make every month..10,000?

Kumar(slightly uncomfortable): Uh..a little more

Auto guy: Ok lets say 15,000. Hmmm thats a lot of money. Thats how much I make in 2 months.

Kumar(I didn't want him to make me feel guilty): I have to pay off loans you know. 6 years of fees to be precise.

Auto guy: You studied for 6 years!! Are you an engineer?

Kumar (phone starts ringing): Yes, uh... Hello...fine that would be great, I will come and pick it at 6. Thanks I appreciate it.

Auto guy (listening to me on the phone talking English): Sir, its all got to do with English no sir?

Kumar: What?

Auto guy: Everything no sir. Only if my son speaks in English, he will get a job no sir?

Kumar: Well our CM can speak only Tamil, he is doing good.

Auto guy: But his nephews, whats his name... Maran, I saw on TV sir. He was wearing suit boot and talking in English and that too with white men sir.

Kumar: Yes Chinniah, you got to make your sons study English.

Auto guy: You should thank your father sir, he made you study. You speak excellent English.In fact, better than the guy in house number 6 sir.That guy thinks he is some lord labaku or something sir.

Kumar (smiling): Yes but will you make your son study?

Auto guy: I have two sons sir, I am sending one to the corporation school and the other to the convent. I can't afford to send both to the convent. The fees is 4000 rupees a year. Atleast in corporation school they give him meals.

Kumar: Yeah, can't you take a loan?

Auto guy: How many loans can I take sir? I couldn't pay the EMI for my auto so the bank guys seized it. I am driving my brothers auto. Every day I have to hear my brother's wife berating him for letting me ride it for free when they can make 150 rupees in rent every day.My wife berates me for being spineless. Women sir...they are impossible...never marry sir!

Kumar: I am sorry Chinniah.

Auto guy: Don't be sir. Even my mother made me study sir. I didn't, I started smoking when I was 14, drinking when I was 16. I smoked grass and mixed with all the wrong people. My brother on the other hand was not as smart as me sir.But he had good friends sir, he is hardworking. He owns 5 autos sir. Even if I didnt study and talk English like you sir, I could have atleast been like him sir.

Kumar: Don't worry man, your son is going to do good.You work hard too, I always see you in the auto stand day or night.

Auto guy: I hope so sir. He is the sole reason for my existence sir, I have really mended my ways sir.I have stopped drinking sir. Every paise goes for their education.

Kumar: Thats really nice to hear. In 10 years you will own 10 autos. Your son will buy them for you.

Auto guy (laughing): I am not greedy sir, really. I know I am over charging you, its only because I really need to make that much money support my family sir, make my kids study sir.I don't want to build a bungalow sir. I even dont want 1 auto sir. I just want my family to be healthy and educate my kids sir. My mother provided me an opportunity, I want to provide them an opportunity.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Review: Fanaa- Destroyed in Love

First of all I would like to be clear on this point: Fanaa is definitely NOT a once in a lifetime experience. Second of all, this is just "my" opinion after seeing the movie. Third of all, I can confidently say that I am in the majority. So, don't get swayed by extremely biased reviews that are making the rounds on the wild wild web.

Fanaa marks the return of Kajol to the silver screen after a five year hiatus. Thats probably reason enough to bring people into the theatre. Now, when you also have the added bonus of Aamir acting opposite Kajol, I wasn't too surprised when my colleague mentioned that all the tickets for the movie this weekend were sold out on Friday.But, miraculously I was able to book my tickets online on Satyam's website, a few hours before the movie. Now don't ask me how I was able to get tickets on the day of the show. Remember, I told you its a miracle! hallelujah! a miracle that made me waste the longest 3 hours of my life. I must admit that the performances were top notch and there were a few good scenes, but, they were far flung. And, trust me, on hindsight, in a movie with a run-time of 170 minutes, a few good scenes with top notch performances doesn't make it a worthwhile trip.

Kajol plays the part of a blind Kashmiri girl Zooni Ali Baig. We are shown a blind Zooni saluting the tricolour in the first scene of the movie. However, Zooni is unsure of where the national flag is and ends up doing a flag salute while not facing the flag. And, the moment her mother pushes her in the direction of the flag, Zooni breaks into a smile. Kajol is not the kind of person who is drop dead gorgeous, but as soon as she breaks into a smile you start smiling with her.Kajol's introductory scene is truly a sight for sore eyes that have been constantly abused by skimpily clad heroines and extremely suggestive dance numbers. She is so spontaneous and so full of life, she is one of the three reasons that makes you stay till the end of the movie (will come to the other two later). Zooni's ageing and over-posessive parents, Zulfi (Rishi Kapoor) and Nafisa (Kiron Kher)are reluctant to send their daughter to Delhi along with her friends for the republic day cultural event. However, they end up giving a teary and poetic farewell to their daughter for what is supposedly a 7 day trip. These scenes are overtly saccharine that could even make a maudlin flinch.
Digression 1: At this juncture, I would like to thank my parents for sending me off on year-long trips without such emotion and melodrama.
Digression 2: I realized that if I don't cut down on food, if I don't work out and if I continue to sit on my ass day in and day out,in all probability I am bound to end up like Rishi Kapoor. Being compared to Rishi's girth is A SCARY THOUGHT indeed, but look at the bright side, on hearing this there is the possibility of people relating me to Rishi Kapoor during his "Bobby" days.

On reaching Delhi, Zooni and her gang are in the company of the chatty and charming tour guide Rehaan Qadri (Aamir Khan). Some of the interludes between Zooni's friends and Rehaan are quite funny. Predictably, the lovely lassie with a ear for shayaris gets smitten by the tour guide who just spews couplets left, right and center. Some of the couplets are good, but before you get a chance to soak it in, we have someone belting out another. In fact the shayaris, after a point get to you to so much that you will end up thinking that it was perhaps a well disguised Gulzar or Javed Akhtar reeling one after the other. The director tries to give a lyrical tilt to the love that Zooni and Rehaan have for each other. But, he fails to realize that poets in this world are sadly a minority. There is also this one irritating scene that I HAVE TO tell you of. A blind and unattended Zooni tries to cross the road herself in a bid to impress Rehaan. The girl is under the impression that boy friends and girl friends do such sensless things to impress each other. Mr. Kunal Kohli (he is the director) please put on your thinking cap before you come out with such "priceless" scenes.

Ok now back to the story. Rehaan who is also in love with Zooni is afraid to commit himself because he has some other important things that require his undivided attention. However, that doesn't stop Rehan from sleeping with Zooni. Now dont raise your eyebrows, because when you come to know about circumstance#1 which led to the intercourse, you are likely to say its a "but obvious" course of action. Hmmm, so what could make a conservative blind Muslim girl to sleep with a commitment-phobic tour guide whom she has known for a whole week- what else? the traditional bollywood rain-dance. Post rain-dance Rehaan succumbs to the blinding love of Zooni and decides to marry her. He also decides to get Zooni a fresh pair of eyes before their nikaah. Pardon me for equating eyesight to something as trivial as getting a pair of socks from shoppers stop, but thats how the scene plays out on screen

Doctor: How many times should we ask you to come for regular check-ups?
Patient: uh huh uh, what you saying doc?
Doctor: Ah nevermind we will get your retina fixed.

Patient: Dad I can see, Mom I can see

And thats not all, Zooni after her eye operation is immediately accosted by the police to identify a corpse.Its so bloody stupid. Anyway, back to the story, post operation, circumstance#2 separates Rehan and Zooni.7 years later you get to see Rehan junior because of circumstance #1. Rehan Jr. is "reason number two" that infuses some light hearted moments in an otherwise serious and slow movie fraught with emotion. Watch out for the sequence where the kid explains why he calls Rahul Dravid abba. The scene where he hands Aamir a glass of haldi milk is also rib tickling. Aamir is "reason number three" that will make you stay till the last scene plays out on screen. Aamir is extremely at ease when he plays the role of the tour guide in the first half. He is quite convincing in his second half avatar as well. I dont want to give too much of the movie, so I will just leave it at that. After watching Aamir and Kajol in scenes that they act together, you will (or atleast I) witness two actors who have completely contrasting styles and yet their on-screen chemistry is great.Kajol is an instictive actress and Aamir is quite methodical, but I guess the similarity they share is the intesity with which they act.

This movie has captured Delhi really well.The camera man should be commended because every frame is picture perfect.Barring Chaand Sifarish, I thought all the songs were pretty ordinary. There was this one horrendous song where they worked in some hindi tongue twisters ala "she sells sea shells" in to the lyrics of the song. My sympathies to the playback singers who sang it. You can go to the theatre and get destroyed, or if you are smart you can stay home and wait for the "destruction" to play out on TV.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Joke da machaan-3

This joke was narrarted by a Finance professor who was training analysts from General Electric. He wanted to explain them a seemingly complex concept through a simple joke. My cousin who was one of the trainee's remembered the joke but didn't quite remember the concept :)

So this is third in the series- following my jokes about Michael Jackson and an Australian Army Captain.

Question: If you plan to ask your brother-in-law to loan you some money, what will you get from him?

Answer: Your Sister!
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