Historical Fiction

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 🙂

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Of Pain and Nails

Yup, been quite some time since my last post. Finished Name of the Rose. (infinitely better read than Foucault’s Pendulum) Watched RDB with a couple of very old school friends and broke my toenail in the process. (clumsy oaf as I am, crashed into a flight of stairs, literally, and my nail came off, again literally. Hope I wouldn’t be needing an operation to extract the nail or I would be confined to bed for the better part of a fortnight) RDB was brilliant in general, average in parts. Methinks the last half hour was a tad too cheesy. However, the casting was superb, the colours riotous, and all-in-all, one of the best flicks I’ve caught in quite some time.

Rooting for Baghdatis

Firstly, a cracker of match coming up tommorrow, Baghdatis-Federer. Really do hope the match lasts five sets and Baghdatis doesn’t run out of steam at this last juncture. Last thing anyone would one want is yet another shutout by the Swiss champ. Go underdog go.  Secondly, Name of the Rose turns out to be a far better read than Foucault’s Pendulum and rather like a medieval version of Sherlock Holmes (the protagonist is named William of Baskervilles, take that !!) with a generous dosage of theological discussions, philosophies and epiphanies (most of which, by the way are in Latin). Thirdly, I had the best pickle I have had in a long, long time today. I’d even go as far as to say that other than my Grandma’s gobi ka achar this is the best I have ever come across. Deli-iii-cious.

Mr. Pandey, I presume

The time to roll up my sleeves and get down to some serious studying has finally come. I will be leaving for college tommorrow and will be staying in the hostel for a couple of days atleast.Hopefully, I should be able to complete the syllabus in the next two days and not have to take recourse to the path of selective study. God, I still remember that Bio exam in Class 8 when I had left one measly chapter dealing with some weird classification of some sort and around half of the bloody paper dealt with that chapter only. I barely managed to scrape through. Now, if skl was bad this place is worse. Really, anybody who ever said law skl was easy didn’t have the faintest idea what he was talking about. Deadlines upon deadlines, assignments and whatnot. Thankfully, after the VIVAs only the end-sem exams would be left which would start in roughly a month’s time.

With all the hoopla that has been surrounding The Rising and the hype that has been created around it, I just can’t help wondering about the movie and its central character. Not to indulge in a baseless excoriation of a man who has been variously hailed as the forerunner of other like-minded, hot-blooded revolutionaries such as Azad or Sukhdev, but can any individual be truly hailed as a patriot, who was galvanized into action not by any sense of a loss of a national identity, but instead of a fear of religious persecution. Would Mangal Pandey have been Mangal Pandey if the Enfield cartridges had never been introduced in the first place? Patriots are fuelled by the courage of conviction not compulsion. Mangal Pandey was compelled into action by virtue of the prevalent societal norms and consciousness which placed religiosity at a pedestal far above all others. It was the internalization of this aspect which resulted in whatever followed. Undoubtedly, Mangal Pandey was an individual who had a determinative role to play in the events of his time, but whether he did so in the capacity of a patriot or not is something, which is in my opinion still open to question.