Monday, July 31, 2006
Sunday, July 23, 2006
(22nd floor is a blog I read religiously. And it’s latest post is a review of Kara Johar’s latest. I reproduce it verbatim)
There's some good news and some bad news.
The good news is that Karan Johar is growing up finally and thankfully, to show that he doesn't need to kill Shah Rukh Khan without giving him the girl.
The bad news is that he decides to kill Amitabh Bachchan merely eighty-three minutes into the movie. And in a film where the rest of the actors act like themselves (think Abhiskek Bachchan do a Dhai Akshar Prem Ke), we needed Amitabh till the end.
The story revolves around two married couples, Dev Saran-Maya Talwar and Rhea Saran-Rishi Talwar. Sorry, make this Dev-Rhea and Maya-Rishi. The senior partner in each one of them (Shah Rukh Khan playing Dev Saran and Rani Mukherjee playing Maya Talwar) start falling in love with each other. Then, the couples fall into a web of lies and half-truths. Reminds you of Closer? No, not quite. As here, Amitabh Bachchan saves the day, using sophisticated weapon made of corny language.
Also, in Closer, the web was spun deftly by interesting characters (a stripper using a faux name, a writer writing obituaries for a living), living a life which was dangerous, violent and malicious.
Here, we have an injured retired football player and a woman who can't bear a child running around a few trees. The woman, Maya Talwar, is as big a cliche as any in Indian cinema.
The character is symptomatic of what is wrong with the movie. Karan Johar over his last two films, is trying to find India in New York and has turned the art into an assembly line production. While on the outside, these Indians are rich, urbane and designer-clad and speak in a modern diction, they have not been able to find a modern idiom of their own. Their values stay comfortably in the 1980s. They espouse respect for hoary traditions.
Hence, while Rishi (Abhishek) has no issues in referring to his father, Samarjit Singh Talwar, as Sam, he would listen when Sam tells him, "Saccha pyaar tyaag mein vishvaas zaroor karta hai, par pati-patni ka pyaar sachai ke liye tyaaga nahin ja sakta." (While true love believes in sacrifice, a husband and wife can't sacrifice their love for truth). Thus, he would go into the bad, bad world of people being true to their emotions to save his ill-fated marriage. And, he succeeds.
Similarly, after Rhea (Preity Zinta) walks out on her husband and does a dance called "Where's the party?" with Rishi, she soon realises her folly. Not because she wonders why she is doing a dance surrounded by extras, instead of drinking her sorrows away or doing a cathartic strip dance. But because she wants her husband back, so that she can throw herself into his arms and cry.
Scene after scene unfolds in a setting borrowed from American sitcoms and end with Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi or Silsila. Where the film could have been the breakthrough "in which Karan grows up" film, it doesn't even try.Instead, what we are left with is a rehashed story which doesn't live upto its promotion. Or probably does, since Preity Zinta is appearing in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi as part of the promotion.
The music is refreshing, though. Mitwa is probably going to end up as the "Kajra Re" of this year. Plus, Arjun Rampal, in a cameo, has the best dialogue of the film, "Don't be a football of other's opinion". Watch it if you must find out how New York looks like through the eyes of Karan Johar. Watch it if you have to see a movie that everyone else will see (which will happen inevitably).
Otherwise, read the reviews and hire out a copy of Closer.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
A lot has been said Zizou's action in newspapers, websites and even blogs. The first wave of articles had disbelief coupled with a question as to what drove him to such a reaction. Theories came with the second wave. They ranged from Zizou's Algerian parentage to homo-erotic fantasies that involve mammaries. Finally came the third that carried facts. Materazzi spoke out about what he said to Zizou, accompanied by what was FIFA doing about it.
Reactions to these incidents have been varied too, depending the level of alligience to the French superstar. Some have sympathised with his fate. Others have cried foul. A few have questioned the furore. And a handful were as opinionated as this one.
"I mean sure, he had to be red-carded, no question about that. But did you see that head-butt? If you have to end your career with a head-butt, this is the perfect way to do it. It was as graceful and effective and beautiful as everything else the man has done in his entire career. Marco is a hulking six-footer and he went down like a tree. And what’s with this idiot Times correspondent going on about how Zidane’s career didn’t end on the poetic note he was hoping for? Has the man ever actually read any poetry? Or was he talking about Westlife songs? What happened with Zidane here was positively Homeric."
I am one of the last but one group. Yes, I know the nature of the insults hurled at Zizou. And I also know that football is not a game played by people wearing polo Tshirts with umpires saying 'Quiet please' in the middle of the match. This is football, a hard physical game that is supposed to test your physical as well as mental skills.
I mean, there's this other game that is played between twenty-two players in white flannels. And it's a pretty mature and civilized game at that. And even those blokes indulge in verbal chicanery to provoke opponents. It's called 'sledging' and the Australians have made a fine art out of it. Today, it's part of 'gamesmanship'.
And pulling up a player for indulging in it is plain and simple stupid. You don't headbutt if people say unpleasant things to you. Imagine Sachin walking to Shoaib and try to clobber him with his bat, because he passed a comment about Sachin's parentage. Sachin doesn't do that. He does something better. More fitting. Like clobber the next Shoaib delivery for a sixer.
Zizou did something wrong. And he knew that himself. That's why he kept quiet. That's why we only heard from his fans, his agent and his countrymen...
I frankly think it is unfair to put Materazzi on the dock because of his 'insults'! Then you are opening a can of worms. Today mental disintegration is a part of the game. It's a part of every jock's armory and hey! It works both ways. Sportmen openly taunt opposing sportsmen to destroy their concentration.
If you can't handle it, get out of the kitchen. Just like Zizou did.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Middle-class India is witnessing a sort of silent revolution these days. Albeit driven somewhat by media, middle-class Indians are opening their eyes and ears to causes that do not directly affect them. Be it the Jessica Lal case or the Mattoo murder, 'causes' are no longer the exclusive domain of jhola-carrying neo-leftists or bleeding heart NGOs. Today People Like Us are playing their part in ways that range from sending a flame-SMS to taking part in candle-light marches and some even more.
In light of that (no pun intended), Mumbaites seem to have resigned to the cause of a liveable city. In the last three days, Mumbai only experienced about 150 mm of rainfall. Compare that with about 900 mm of rainfall over a period of 24 hours on 26/7 last year. Yet, a strange panic seems to have gripped the city. Roads were submerged, complete localities were cut off from civilization, trains came to a stop, schools and colleges were declared shut, man-days were lost...yet the Mumbaite was more scared than outraged.
26/7 was an aberration, a freak show, courtesy nature. But the last three days were not. How can a modern city come to a standstill?
That the administration has failed us, has been established beyond doubt. What does not cease to amaze me is the silence of the Mumbaite? How can we take this lying down?
Or are we too selfish to react? Too immersed (intended!) in our own woes to act for redressal?
New York has 9/11. London has 7/7. Not to be left behind in the disaster lexicon, we have 26/7. Perhaps that will remain Mumbai's sole punch at big-city superstardom. As for Shanghai, Mumbai should set itself an attainable goal.