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Monday, January 23, 2006

Rang de basanti Film Review

If you're one of those strange people who need to read the review of a movie before seeing it, even if it has great trailers, receives wide press coverage and stars Aamir select-few-movies Khan - hi there.
Now GO book your tickets before they're sold out!

Rang de basanti is the story of a group of friends coming of age and discovering their patriotic passion. The leader of the pack is, of course, Aamir as DJ. As you may guess by his nickname, he and his friends are the stereotypical Delhi-Punjus, spewing heavily accented Hindi and English and using expletives by the dozen. Being college kids, they seldom attend classes and drink lots of beer and engage in long drunken drives. (And I am not being sarcastic here - they are truly doing what you and I know we did and do!)

Change in their lives comes in the form a foreign film-maker, a young girl Sue, who casts them in her movie on Bhagat Singh. As expected, it impacts their sensibilities. But the awakening comes when a MIG 21 plane crashes, killing their friend alongwith. The change wrought in their thoughts, and the actions they take to announce their potency is the focus of the second half (also the better half) of the movie. There is a proper plot to the story - you will probably guess it as the movie progresses - but I won't spill the beans here.

There are a lot of funny short scenes along the way - helped largely by Aamir. DJ is kinda like the urban, middle-class version of Rangeela man. Humour is also extracted from the way the guys speak - but North Indians will probably not find that funny - especially as these are not-quite-perfect punju accents, or so my Delhi-trained ears tell me. Only Kiran Kher masters speech perfectly. Anyhow, by the second half of the movie everyone's speaking all right. (whether coz the actors improved their diction, or I got used to the way they spoke, can't say)

Songs are awsome. (Personally, I am delighted to see the return of Daler Mehndi in the title song)

And thankfully, dancers do not drop out of the sky without reason. Which is reason enough Rang de Basanti fits perfectly in the "different" movies genre that we've recently seen in Indian cinema. Moreover, the story-telling stands apart: it is partly first person, and partly a parallel narrative. And the filming is just beautiful - whoever did the location search for the movie did an outstanding job. Would make you want to go to the hangout places these guys had.

Rang de basanti is a movie with a serious essence - it touches sometimes subtly, sometimes stridently on many social issues, using the independence struggle as a synonym for what we need to do today. Yet, it is not your regular 'serious movie'. There is enough comedy and feel-good factor to make the evening a non-teary outing. And you will often laugh. Which takes us to what I think is the downside of the movie - it doesn't make you cry. It's a sad story of our times, and it should be touching enough to make one cry - even King Kong achieved that with me - but Rang de Basanti doesn't. For those who don't like tear-jerking movies or have OD-ed on Balaji telefilms will probably note this as a positive. But I would have liked to cry :S

Another negative: I really don't think Aamir fits into a college kid role any longer. Yes, his outstanding acting makes up for his mature face, and many would argue that without his screen presence, the movie would fall some notches. But I think the role didn't demand Aamir's look / persona. Moreover, this director - scriptwriter team could have pulled off a younger actor in Aamir's role with equal or even great aplomb. The narrative style, the social sensibilities - these are the things that work in the film for me. They would have worked with even a Vivek Oberoi, or Abhishek Bachchan.

That apart - casting is really good. The firang girl in the movie is a superb find: prepare to be shocked by her hindi. Even guest appearance guys - like Gaurav Kapoor - are well-chosen.

All in all - I would bet that this movie is going to do well and become a hit. So if you're going to book tickets, book tickets in advance.

Aamir gets married nearly every day !

If you're married
And you had a regular, Indian, traditional marriage
I'm betting you aren't planning to get married again

Coz ANYONE whose been on the stage saying 'Thank you' to a thousand guests, and smiling to a thousand guests and the photographer, and starving while he / she propped up the smile and kept up the voice, can never, ever want to do it again

According to me and Vipul, it is this shared misery of our wedding reception that has made us models of fidelity
And we are sure it is the dread of having to go through the ordeal again that keeps everyone from remarriage

Which is why, when we saw Aamir Khan yesterday at the premiere of Rang De Basanti, we felt realy sorry for him.

As he smiled and mingled around with the IAS and IPS officers (for whom this special screening had been arranged), he reminded me woefully of all the thousand weddings I'd seen. And I thought - he has to do it nearly every day! The premieres, the parties, the fans everywhere he goes... his choice is (more or less) between a never-ending marriage vs being home-jailed!

smile. Hello. smile. So glad you liked it. smile. Thank you. smile. you audience are the king. smile. you remember the dialogue! smile. Thank you. smile. Of course I remember you. smile.... amile... smile..

Wow

There's gotta be tremendous bottled-up repression inside the man.
I, in his shoes, would have killed by now.

But then, I am not in his shoes, and maybe am overestimating the impact of all the intrusion. Maybe it's all cool to him, and just a part and parcel of fame, and even a welcome, ego-boosting game.

Imagine meeting a thousand people who all know you, and claim they love you, and smile at you coyly, and speak to you adoringly, and vie for your attention, and demand that you say a few words to them, and then stand beside you for a photograph that they are going to frame... and they do this day after day after day after day after day....

hmmm
I hope Aamir's enjoying it, but the 'ad infinitum' part really makes it sound like a nightmare
Even in a single evening it becomes a nightmare
ask any Mr&Mrs



Coming up next: review of
Rang de Basanti

Friday, January 13, 2006

Pulling life from the jaws of death,... something like that

No No No
This is not about what Dravid XI have to manage to do in Pakistan. Sheeesh!

This is about what I have to do when I read the morning papers. Now I read loads of newspapers everyday, about 2 kgs at least, or so my raddiwalla tells me.

In case you're wondering why I'm spending all this money on all these papers, my answer is I am not. Coz if you're an Indian, your tax pays for half of them (Business Standard, TOI, Mid Day) and the rest are dumped free by Mumbai Mirror and DNA for the noble cause of their circulation statistics.

In case you're wondering why I'm reading all these papers, please refer to Wikipedia for Obsessive Compulsive Disorders.

In case you're wondering what anything I've written so far has anything to do with life and death and the pulling thereof, sorry, I digressed. But here goes:
reading news is mostly like reading an obituary of decent society. What usually makes the cut for news-worthiness is something appalling like murder, or something heinous like torture, or something disgusting, or something terrible, or awful, or saddening... you get my drift. Then there's the ridiculous aka Page 3 which is no news at all. The rest is boring stuff formally known as business news ;)

And everyday, therefore, I trudge my eyes to find out some damn nice story to remove the taste of death from my head.

It's a inordinately tough task to find Chicken Soup for the Soul in the papers, but I try, and sometimes I get lucky. One story that had me totally impressed was of a man named Navin who married Neha, a sex worker, in Indore. You can read it here.

Don't know how Navin and Neha met and where, but that and the ensuing events would make for a great feel-good potboiler. There's an evil sister of Neha, who along with her mother, was responsible for pulling her into prostitution. There are police chases across Nagpur and Bhopal, as the couple try to escape and get married. And finally, the sweetest part is that Navin's mom, a school teacher, is most pleased and supportive with her son's choice. What an amazing happy ending!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Report Card: Hong Kong

I had been dreading the onset of HK winters since last october. Previous experience had led me to expect a season overrun with gloomy, sunless, grey skies and over-wrought with muggy air and inspirational for suicidal tendencies. I was ready for it to arrive a trifle too early in November and then subbornly refuse to leave even past March. I Hated it.

But this year has been literally a pleasant surprise. Yesterday, and many days behind it, have been sunny enough for a tee and even a tan. Which is why I went off with friends for a day of hiking / picnic at Sai Kung. It was a beach we'd never visited before - Long Ke - and turned to be faaaaaaaaaaar more beautiful than we'd expected. Emerald green waters has see-throughness that let one spy the rocks and grains below. Marking the shore's boundary was powdery white sand that just sunk under our steps and made us wish we were carrying beachwear with us!





This hike essentially marks the last rounds I and Vipul are making of the places we love in Hong Kong. With 19 months in this country behind us and just two more days to go before we fly back, we have a last darshan agenda that we are carrying out. Our other favourites (already done) are Stanley, Shek O, and Avenue of Stars.

It is probably also time for me to do a countdown of the top-3 things about HK (in no particular order) that I'm going to miss:

The hills and hiking trails
Not that I was trekking often, but when I did, it was marked with green seas and sigh-ful beaches. And they were so accessible - some just three minutes from my place, and some half an hour of a bus ride away. The closest I'll get to doing this in Mumbai are the monsson treks, for which I'll have to get up at an ungodly pre-dawn 5am :(

Seeing my tax-dollar being spent and not wasted
HK is small, and HK is efficient, and though it taxes me much lesser than India, it gives me back much more. I've seen roads being repaired, and had Government officials help me out politely, got my tax clearances in a few hours, managed my PF through a website... it all adds up to an unbelievable convenience that my tax money is financing for me. I LOVE paying for it!

A month from now, I'm going to be subjected to the expecses of the renaming of another city and weep as 35% of my income (or more) will go into printing new letterheads, and direction signs, and all the red-tape-y things that result from a strategically inconsequential decision. And I'm going to be paying an MP oaf for attending the parliament to take an oafy decision that only increases my expenses!!! Yes, I am expecting a lot of frustration.

Peaceful traffic
Don't expect to explain this!

Of course, as I wrote in an earlier post, there are a thousand things in India that I miss in HK. And for now, I think they'll make up for all that's lacking!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Have a happy new year, and other superstitions

Every year, I try damn hard to enjoy myself on New Year's Eve. Like that Indian advertisement jungle goes "It's got to be-e-e-e-e-e-e Perfect" (what product was it, anyone remembers?).

The deal is that whatever happens on the D-Day follows you around the whole year through. So they say. And so at least it happens with me. Three years ago, I travelled out to Goa for celebrations, and as is law in Goa, had a blast for many, many hours followed by consciousness late next morning and then some beach-bumming and food hogging. That's what I did for the rest of the year too.

Then two years ago, I travelled out again, to another location but with the same regimen. And I've never travelled in my life as I did in the year that follwed: went to some new city every month, and not on work (and when it was on work, I managed to not have to do any!)- Kerela, Jaipur, Beijing, Shanghai,... The point being, this Happy New Year achievement can really work wonders, and has never failed me.

Last night was a mixed bag though. Maybe coz I was avoiding the wine (intend to have a level-headed year) or maybe coz I'm getting old (unavoidable despite all attempts). At least made a lot of money on Poker with good luck which is a welcome sign of things to come! But had a really Bad Hair Day, plus husband became bankrupt, and well, this combination foretells certain tragic movie scenes.

So currently I am on repairment mode: hair oilling, and taking over husband's finances, etc. Am also doing all the things I hope to do regularly for the rest of the year. Friends must be called, and schedules must be easy, and cooking must be avoided, and gifting must be encouraged, and for starters at least, this blog has been written.

Hope you are having a great day too. Try harder!