Month: October 2009

Derby and Other Things

Saw me first Derby today. The guys in red and gold versus the guys in green and maroon. At the second largest stadium in the world. Which incidentally, was almost full to capacity. Bloody AWESOME. There was me, the Redboy, the Homie-to-be, Bunts and Dandu. Bunts was feeling slightly hard done by, given that we were sitting in the Mohun Bagan section, and the chap himself happens to be a die-hard East Bengal fan. Thankfully though, apart from periodically muttering to himself, he kept himself well under control. Otherwise, instead of this post, you might very well have been reading news about us five being launched from the upper ramparts of the Salt Lake stadium.

I also realized when you go to watch an East Bengal-Mohun Bagan match, esp. at the aforestated location, and even more esp., barely a few days after Diwali, it might be advisable to wear a helmet to the stadium. You know, there are people who have nerves of iron and sinews of steel. Who can look impending doom squarely in the face, have a good laugh, and then go do a hula dance. Proper Mithun ishtyle. I though, am most certainly not one of them. When my immediate surroundings are lighted up like a bloody Christmas tree by assorted delights such as chocolate bombs and kali potkas, I don’t like it all that much. On one prize occasion, one rocket got its alignment slightly wrong, went straight up, collided with the roof, did a nifty U-turn, and landed on some poor bugger’s head in the lower tiers. Simply put, each time Mohun Bagan scored, it was a blanket signal for all pyromaniacs to let loose. Which, to be frank, was slightly off-putting.

For those interested, the final score was 5-3. In Mohun Bagan’s favour.

Had a batch reunion of sorts today. Actually, a birthday party, or make that a couple of birthday parties, but I caught up with some fifteen, sixteen of my batchmates today. At one time, and in one place. Hell, it felt like college all over again. That, and Appu’s an awesome cook. Cheese Aloo zindabad.

A long time ago, I’d read something I’d liked a lot. Then, I lost track of it. Today, I rediscovered it. Ladies and gentlemen, for your viewing pleasure, I give you the Lenski affair.

A long, long time ago, a soul singer composed a track for another group of performers. They mustn’t have liked it too much and they turned it down. So, our singer released it on his own. It languished on the singles circuit for a couple of years, and then sales suddenly picked up. It even became a bona fide Top Ten hit.  Lennon did his version a couple of years later, which again I think, did pretty well. Now, Playing for Change has come out with a video version of the track. Stand By Me.

Conversation of the Day:

Bunts : Chal Dandu, Derby dekhten hain.

Dandu : Haan, haan, kyon nahin…….arre, Cal also has horse-racing, huh.

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Ze World (And How Rahman Pulled a Fast One)

(Cross-linked from here)

A.R. ‘Oscar’ Rahman’s busy pulling fast ones these days. Just try listening to the Champions Trophy theme song. Hell, its even worse than Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo Re, and I can’t go any lower than that. Pits, absolute pits. Or perhaps, I am being just a wee bit unkind. The poor chap must’ve thought, I compose Roja and what do I get for that, zilch. I then pull out all stops for the Bombay theme, and nobody even listens to the blasted thing. Then some Brit comes along with a punk game show-cum-exploitation musical, I compose possibly the sorriest soundtrack of my life, and whaddya know, they give me a friggin Oscar. How awesome is that? Last heard, the man is composing soundtracks for low-brow Hollywood rom-coms and giving lessons on how Blue is actually pronounced Booloo.

A few days back, I had gone to the Air India office here in Cal. Pretty commonplace stuff, should have been over in a jiffy. Well, I WAS wrong. You can’t possibly fathom how singularly brilliant it is to have a vendor-consumer experience where a consumer informs the vendor about the quality and the particulars of his wares. My interactions were more or less along the following lines:

Me: Do you have XYZ??

AI: Most certainly not! What could have given you such an idea??

Me: But your website say so!!

AI: But I say not!!!

Me: (Sputters Incoherently) But can you at least go to your website and check it out for me??

AI: What’s the point??

Well, we carried on in like vein for about a good ten, fifteen minutes. At the end of that though, AI finally figured out that they actually had XYZ. Which was awesome. Sunshine and happiness all round. But then, when I asked them if I could call them up just in case I had any subsequent queries, I ran into another insurmountable infrastructural flaw:

Me: So, can I call you up if I have any queries and all??

AI: Sure, but it wouldn’t be of any use.

Me: $#@%$, WHY??

AI: Well, see the information is all stored in these computers, you see. The phone however is there in that room, all the way over there. Sorry, but no can do.

(I left. There’s only so much that a man can take.)

P.S. The papers have been going gaga over the last couple of days about how awesome it is to have an Indian win a Nobel. Well I got news, the chap’s American, and he works in Cambridge. Period. In his own words, “nationality is simply an accident of birth”. Go Venki.

P.P.S. Obama Rocks. As does the Nobel Peace Prize Committee. So how exactly did he manage to snag the Nobel in 12 days?? Check how FOX and Foreign Policy answer the same bloody question with two completely different spins. Check esp. both their last paras 🙂

The Art of Cool

Sergio Leone meets tacky WW II iconography. Throw a couple of marquee names into the mix. Have an impossibly implausible plotline. Don’t even dare to think about cutting back on the gore. Always remember that humour, like good coffee, is best served black. And most importantly, mangle up the bloody title like its nobody else’s business. Yet, or perhaps ergo, Inglourious Basterds is possibly Tarantino’s best work yet.

For when Tarantino, that purveyor of coolth extraordinaire, makes a movie, he makes cool movies, which cool peeps go and watch in theatres, and for which cool reviewers trying to illustrate how cool they are, write cool reviews extolling the director and the movie’s uber-coolness. It’s all about being cool, you know. And given how much of a philistine I am in all matters pertaining to high cool, I have usually found myself singularly incapable of truly appreciating Tarantino’s greatness.

I liked this one though. The movie has its moments for sure; a pretty strong cast, decent performances (Brad Pitt’s constipated looks notwithstanding), a riveting background score, but then again background scores were always Tarantino’s patch (case in point, Kill Bill Vol. I, The Bride vs. O-Ren Ishii, Santa Esmeralda tripping away in the background, très CULT), and a certain someone called Colonel Hans Landa.

For me, if there was any one factor which elevated this movie from being strictly middling to anything vaguely approaching the sublime, it has to be this part essayed by Christoph Waltz. Funnily enough, If Variety is to be believed, then this part was not even meant for Waltz in the first place. It was supposed to go to DiCaprio instead. Well, thank heavens it didn’t. I, for one, cannot for a moment believe, that even DiCaprio for all his cinematic virtuosity and thespian nous, could have carried off Landa. There was just one moment though which I found slightly jarring in the character portrayal of Landa. For someone that suave and smooth, the act of brutally throttling a woman did seem a tad out of place. Or perhaps, the director just wanted to show that beneath that outward veneer of sophistication and charm, there still lurked a Nazi pig.

For all that, this one’s a decent enough watch, and speaking for myself, total paisa wasool for the fifty odd bucks I spent on it.

Food tip: Panfried Momos at Tibetian Delight. Well, the place is pretty much unplottable, but if you do manage to make your way there, make sure you try out these killer momos doused liberally in ultra-spicy red sauce. It IS absolutely brilliant. They had a dish called Shyphalley as well, which (or to be a wee more precise, the description of which) sounded equally enticing, but the resto-wallahs had run out of it by the time we placed our orders! Shall try that out next time I head there 🙂

Movies, Cinema, Muck (And a Couple of Non Sequiturs)

Exhibit A: Chintuji. Had heard so many poltroons going gaga about how nice, how sweet, how cutesy it was. Well, the darned thing IS sweet. The only problem is that it is so bloody sweet it almost reaches saccharin overdose levels. Methinks the director was probably aiming for a good old fashioned Hrishikesh Mukherjee-Basu Chatterjee feel. And given the times we live in, he was probably obligated to throw in a song-and-dance routine as well. But the poor chap overshot it. By a helluva long way. Muck

Exhibit B: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. How does someone, who made such a bloody decent movie the first time round, so totally screw up the sequel?? Transformers has got to be the worst sequel I have seen. Ever. I know Bay ain’t exactly the cat’s pajamas when it comes to cinematic derring-do, but this has to be pretty special, even by his not-so-exacting standards. Or maybe, it was just Megan Fox which distracted the poor man. Utter muck.

Non Sequitur 1: Caught snatches from a trailer of a Chetan Bhagat interview on CNBC a few days back. The man was mouthing lines like “Chetan Bhagat knows what he wants”, “Bollywood shall work for Chetan Bhagat, not the other way around”. Not only does he churn out you-know-what, but he also speaks in third-person. Cult

Non Sequitur 2: MNS activists have declared war on Wake up Sid. Apparently, the movie refers to Mumbai as Bombay. Cult-er.

Non Sequitur 3: Roman Polanski raped a 13 year old. But that’s alright. ‘Coz he directed The Pianist and Chinatown, you know. (%$@#@, some more dosh here)

Non Sequitur 4: Phul Singh v. State of Haryana, AIR 1980 SC 248. Per, Krishna Iyer, J.

“A philanderer of 22, appellant Phul Singh, overpowered by sex stress in excess, hoisted himself into his cousin’s house next door, and in broad day-light, overpowered the temptingly lonely prosecutrix of twenty four, Pushpa, raped her in hurried heat and made an urgent exit having fulfilled his erotic sortie.”

(Some more extracts from the same order here.) Cult-est.