Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Marathi serials today

I admit that I'm no connoisseur of marathi serials. I used to be.. But I'm sure that should that coveted title slip out of my grasp, I shall be none too saddened.

So don't go by the title. Frankly, I'm aware of only 3 marathi serials on air today. Unless you count that stupid one where the high testosterone husband repeatedly beats his wife, who understandably leaves him, but not so un-understandably allows the tyrant husband to woo her back, to allow this sadistic, male-chauvinistic or otherwise, lame, cycle to continue for a further 25 or so episodes. Whatever. The serials are really not my domain. My knowledge is restricted to only the ones that are viewed in my household

The first thing I noticed is the background score of these serials, which is louder and gaucher than most Megadeth songs. One notices a sharp contrast between the sound volume of the actors' dialogue-which in most cultures is considered to be the epicentre of the serial- is given secondary importance to the unholy, cacophonus racket made in the back(fore)ground.

The first of these serials is Asambhav, which is a fanciful tale of rebirth. While the woman scorned in her past life, returns with hell hath fury in the present for revenge, it is quite unclear why the other characters are reborn at all. But I must admit that this villain female does an outstanding job. My proclamation that women don't make good villains, stands void. Most of the other characters get negative-ised dreams of their past life, surrounded with the aforementioned cacophony, that WOULD have awoken the deadest of them. The characters' roles are divided into 3 broad parts.

1) either die, as part of the villain's revenge;

2) or are searching for some long-lost treasure;

3) or are making random, unfounded accusations of all the not-so-nice things happening in their life, to the villain. e.g. "mommy, I failed the maths test.. was it.. HER?.." *sound*

The exception to these role-allotments is the grandfather, whose role is, quite simply, to stretch a 2 minute line to 20 minutes by being unnecessarily verbiage and talking at a delireously slow speed. 5 minutes are alloted to other characters for revenge, treasure-hunting and accusing. Remaining 5 for commerical break.

If you ears and brain haven't been scarred already, brace yourself for the next level. The clock strikes 9 and the channel is changed to Star Pravah. The ensuing conundrum and new form of ear-drum torture is called Agnihotra. I'm not sure what that word means. I'm also unsure about the premise of this serial. I think so are my parents. But the actors of this serial are locked in a fierce battle with the background sound guys, both parties, trying furiously to outdo each other in decibel limit. They proclaim their dialogue with gusto and onerous tenor, reminding us of the simpler times when the phone had not been invented and people had to yodell down instructions to their sub-ordinates who were 20 blocks away. It is said that the sound engineers are researching new, louder sound effects. They are said to unveil one in a couple of weeks. God save the fans.

But hope still exists for old Marathi serial loyalists! If you pull yourself away from the rebirth ridiculousness of 830 to the other marathi channel, you will find a sensible and intelligent depiction of the life of Shivaji Maharaj. It is indeed very well done, sufficiently detailed and well executed by all, to keep the viewer glued. The lead fella who plays Shivaji is something else. Royal. The sets and clothes all look royal and authentic. While the serial CAN be criticised on one count, that some of the guys playing the bad Mughals have a slightly accented hindi, it would be cynical to do so, since everything else is so very well done!!

Its 930 pm, and my parents aren't done yet. There is a marathi singing competition being aired on of the channels. Mom wants me to watch it.. *sigh*.. quite enough for me though..

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Raj Stone-mighty.

Of all the many ridiculous things that we in this country do, this one thing called dagadphek, pretty much tops it all. It somehow is not a national phenomenon, but just one that is peculiar to my region. And very strongly so. It has a sort of festive fervor. Often people complain about it, having been at the receiving end of the thing, but on having a bird's eye view of the proceedings, that is, remaining conveniently isolated from it all, i found the activity almost delightfully energetic,complete with an electric atmosphere and a passion with which marathi people only WORKED, the biharis would not avail any opportunities here, let alone steal the marathi peoples'. But that is another thing. Let us not go there. I mean, wishful thinking would include it as an occupation, an educational specialisation or heck, even an Olympic sport. But ah.. to the plight of the ordinary marathi senaman, that is not gonna happen.

The basic idea of dagadphek involves throwing stones at pretty much everyone and everything and thus causing a major ruckus in the area. It is quite unstructured and requires the least amount of planning. I mean if you need to make a plan for throwing random stones at random things in a random geographical location, I think you're hitting a new low here. It is supposed to e a form of protest. I'm not quite sure whether Gandhiji, our premier protestor, would approve, but in the the words of a major protagonist of it, existing systemists are worse than your average Brit Guv. And so they throw stones. At cars, buildings and other fixed assets. What still remains unclear is where they get all the stones from. I guess we miss all the little details while engrossed in the thick of the "real action".

But as random as this activity is, the point that people are trying to drive home is remarkably simple. "We Are Not Happy". It is vaguely the same reason why a baby cries. It's nappy is wet. So is the senamens'. Another striking similarity is how both their respective nappies get wet merely at the drop of a hat. Where was I? Ah yes.. Methodology. The deviously simple idea here is to throw stones at everyone and thing that doesn't belong to the party kith and kin. If you've seen movies that deal with civil wars in African Nations, you'll be reminded of something similar. Stupid, uneducated, young, destructive and gun happy men trying to control things by creating panic. Only difference is that, guns not being freely available in our country, we are left with very Neanderthal artillery. Stones.

So this ferocious pelting is carried on by the 'sena' that seems to consist primarily of thugs, goons and immature dolts trying to make the worst of a bad situation. Sometimes, when the thing gets out of hand, or the stones get exhausted, the more innovative sort start setting the shattered remains of the fixed assets on fire. Source of this fire is, yet again, anonymous. Perhaps it is the fire in their hearts. But inflamed with rage, the anti-social congregation set buses, cars, shops and at times, people on fire. This burning of property, arson is the word i believe, is more of a pan-India phenomenon and has quite a success record. I suppose that the deathtoll being considerably higher, attention to the wet nappy is easily got.

Sounds like a well-rounded, sound system doesn't it? Well believe it or not, there IS a snag! Let us take this Bihari vs Sena example forward.

Now the Senamen spanked the uscrupulous biharis' butts and sent them back. Funnily, instead of venting the anger on the marathi manoos who led to his desecration, the biharis ran home and killed and caused a general nuisance to their own publics. The marathi protagonist gets the slammer. Not to be outdone in the above stupidity of killing own people, the marathi manoos stoned HIS people mercilessly. The rebel protagonist gets out. Bihari flame is fanned again. They burn the first bus, train and pedestrian into their cities. But the message is the same from both parties. Just like the baby. If I'm not happy, the first person I'll trouble to death will be from my OWN FAMILY. And this perfectly wraps up the comparison

Our premier protestor was right. An eye for an eye does make the world blind. Especially when you're poking your own eyes..

(I have refrained from mentioning just WHICH sena is causing the ruckus. As of today, who is the primary, proactive torch bearer of the marathi flag is still in debate).

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What I've felt.. What I've known..

Well, before i start, let me get one thing very clear. Everything said and done, Metallica has been, is and will be my favourite-est band ever. Whatever varying phases i pass through, of metal and pop, of anger and solitude, of joy and sorrow, Metallica have been and always will be there. Its one of those things that just stick for the rest of your life. Its a band that has changed my outlook towards music & widened my musical horizons and understanding, I'll always find myself listening to Wherever I May Roam while travelling, Master Of Puppets just before an exam, Nothing Else Matters when I'm feeling in love and The Unforgiven and Enter Sandman at absolutely any time of the day. James, Kirk, Lars and even Cliff and Jason. Some of the most amazing people on earth( and one in heaven, RIP)..

And in the midst of all this comes the new album, Death Magnetic.

I still haven't come to terms with the fact that Jason Newsted is well and truly out of the band and is now replaced by this Robert Trujjilo. So while I think that Death Magnetic is clearly the best album since Reload and better that Load before that, I still don't find the bass mechanics of Robert oh-sp appealing. I liked the feeling that Jason gave and which I thought held the "Metallica sound" together. Trujillo's bass still sounds like a bit of a racket.

Lars has done way better than the ridiculous snare-banging he did for St. Anger. He's put in some delightful rolls all through the album that reminds me of those good times of the late 80s where he for the first time, gave up speed drumming in favor of some drumming artistry. Although, he has retained that damned snare he used in St. Anger that echoes quite noisily.

The guitar sound has thankfully mellowed down. It seems that they finally, after 28 years, decided to give up the really heavy distortion and with it the need to palm-mute. The sound has become a lot more grunge, quite a bit like Ozzy's guitar sound. It is good to listen to Kirk's solos again(Kirk took a break in St. Anger X( ) especially the wahs in Unforgiven 3.

But the man who took the cake for me(as he often does) was James. The man i thought was dead and buried after St. Anger has resurrected himself and how! He too has mellowed down, but the force of his voice remains as strong and compellingly passionate as ever.

Death Magnetic, for me, is an absolute hit. Metallica are BACK!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Beijing Olympics '08, more than anything else, was a gross show of power. China Power. They showed the world that today they are, in and out of the sporting arena, one of the fastest, highest and strongest countries in the world. The artistic Bird's Nest stadium, the 100 medals(out of which 50 odd were gold, more than ANY other country) which were sandwiched between enchanting opening and closing ceremonies, the fireworks and the crowds all truly symbolised that China has arrived. The Dragon is wide awake and is staking its claim on the power it lost some 500 years ago. As any Liverpool fan would know that one phrase almost too well. China are "back on their f*ckin perch".

They're right there. On Cloud 8. One away from the sacrosanct, proverbial 9th. A bludgeoning, power economy and strong trade relations, a fallout of the fact that the world wants to trade with China, backed by unbeatable armed forces, and more than anything else, the patriotism and zeal of every China-man(:p) on the street and his passion and desire to put China on the 9th, ahead of the US and Europe. It all seems so perfect!

But China also stands to exemplify what a bitch internal strife can be. Ironic isn't it? In a time when every country in the world is lapping up at China's feet to have a chance of getting a slice of their pie, a faction of the homegrowns, namak khae hue's rebels against the home country?

Well I'm sure Tenzing and the Tibetans have their issues. If they say that I, living in my plush home far far away, from the misery that he and his people face every single day, haven't a bean of what his people go through, he'd probably be right. But what is more alarming about these damned rebel, separatist movements is the effect it is having in my country. I'm not one about to discount the Tibetans' troubles, but I have a good reason to believe that the current "Kashmir Liberation" nonsense derives direct inspiration from the aforementioned movement.

I think this entire Kashmir story is ridiculous from the word go. The Kashmiris never wanted to be Indian. Given their way, they'd rather be on their own. If given a choice between India and Pakistan, they were gonna choose Pakistan. But they were most certainly not gonna pick India. Yet we went there, and tried to convince that stupid irresponsible king to surrender to us or face Pakistan on his own. His people have always wanted Pakistan. But we forced them. We forced them to be a part of our country. And we tried atoning for it. We treated them with respect. We gave them protection. We fought their wars. We pumped our resources into them so that one day they would be satisfied and proudly proclaim that they are happy to be a part of India. Alas! The Beatles warned us in the 60's. "Money can't buy me love". How true! We tried bribing them. We tried cosseting to them in order to win their love. We told them how horrible Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir is and how they are much better off here. And we failed. Money couldn't buy us love. They always wanted Independence. Or in worst case scenario, Pakistan.

Frankly, I think we should give up Kashmir. As it is, it is a dead investment. The Government has pumped the hard-earned money of the average Indian into Kashmir and our defence expenditure in trying to protect Kashmir is phenomenal. Money has been lost, time has been lost but more importantly men have been lost. Killed, by Chinese, Pakistanis and so many other blood-hungry terrorists of whatever nationality. Indians from every nook and corner of the country have laid down their f*cking lives in order to protect that protesting Kashmiri's family for 61 years. And when we accidentally caught one of these rebel defaulters? We treated them with respect worthy of a king. You know what they do to rebels in China? I think China are fully aware of their population crisis and any scum not adding to their GDP is probably just stamped out like a bug. And I'm sure Pakistan too have a similarly convenient technique to get rid of traitors. All this for what? Why did we steal the bread out of an average Indian's mouth? Why did we forego expenditure we should have incurred on parts and people of the country who stick their chests out when the Anthem is played? The Kashmiris' stand remains unchanged. It was what it was 61 years ago. So if they don't give two f*cks about what India has done for them, let them have their tiny ass country where they can do whatever shit India apparently "doesn't allow" them to. If they don't care, why should we? Let them go i say. Let them build their industries. Let them find out what running a government means. Let them find out what "defense expenditure" means. Let them fight their wars. Let their men die. Let them take big loans from the IMF, World Bank and others and have their butts nailed to the wall when they don't pay up. It's been 61 years and India still hasn't been able to pay up. I wonder how long Kashmiris would take. In fact, I don't think all this will even happen. I think Pakistan and China will attack Kashmir within 2 days and then lets see if they have the balls to go against what these countries decide for them. China will probably treat them like dirt off their shoes. I say if they don't care what India are doing for them, they should get this spanking from the rest of the world so that they know how it really hurts.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

KJo immortal!

I was watching Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum the other day. Maybe for the 13th time. I dunno why, but i totally love that film! I mean everytime, every single time that K3G comes on TV, only one thought comes to my mind. Watch it!

Well, i couldn't care less about what Ram Gopal Verma thinks about Karan Johar's films. I still believe that KJo's are much easier on the brain. I've heard that RGV too can make people cry, but out of sheer trauma and frustration of having spent precious money, in these inflation-ridden times, on a sub-standard, pathetic remake of a classic in a depressing bottle green background. A sweetly dressed Kareena Kapoor with a super large ego(which I enjoy, for that matter, on any girl) is much nicer on the eye than whatever tramp that RGV procures that goes around banging every second guy on the road. Even if he is 3 times her age. That is just sick!

Maybe another day, I'll take out the time to put into harsher words what i feel about RGV's ridiculous and overwhelmingly degrading renditions of Sholay and the like, but this post is solely dedicated to K3G. :)

I mean, I'm sure of you are one of those wannabe, self-proclaimed "film-critics", who've grown up on a heady and steady diet of "sensible movies", that deal with more "serious issues" unlike the "frivolous ones", about "running behind a girl, around a tree", that bollywood churns out too regularly, you probably hated it. On the flipside, if you're the typical urban Indian, you probably cried your eyes out and screamed the worst abuses in your dictionary when that "fathead" Amitabh B. slapped the "gorgeous" better known Roshan. Well, I belong to neither extreme end, but if I were to pick one, it'd probably be the latter and say, without a fear of contradiction, that yes, I LOVED K3G.

Either KJo is a ridiculous little mumma's boy with distinguished contacts or an outrageous marketing genius. Such a movie could have worked only in India. And if it worked outside, it would with the Indian diaspora. Because if you happen to look at it objectively, what do you really have? Son1 marries wrong girl. Hothead dad kicks him out. Son1 moves to London and rebuilds life. Son2 goes and brings Son1 back. Mother cry, father cry and happy family reconciliation. All this interspersed with a few laughs and a lot(and i mean a LOT) of crying. The tagline goes, "it's all about loving your parents". It's not even relevant to the story! Just because it has parents and children, joy and sorrow, bichchadna and waapas-aana,doesn't necessarily teach you to love your parents.

But it clicks. People loved it. I, for one, will certainly watch it the 14th time. 8 years later, when a TV channel decides to broadcast it, the response is only slightly diminished. The sponsors come running and it gets primetime. People, 8 years later, "hawwww" at all the right places, cry at the right places, laugh and sing at the right places. Forget the fact that having seen the movies before, you know what's coming next. The movie is predictable from the word go. I know SRK's every dialog and the intensity of Jaya Bacchan's every sniff. And yet i love the film and will watch it the 14th time. Why?

Because advertently or inadvertently, it was and continues to be one of the biggest marketing rackets India has seen. The cliched story apart, more important are the other things KJo brings to the table. Everyone will agree to the fact that he brought the best, most iconic, fit-the-bill actors and actresses of their respective generations forward for each role. Hard to imagine a better couple than the Bacchans to act the amazing, successful couple. Forget acting, they already are an amazing and succesful enough couple! Strike one. The ideal, lovable protagonist HAD to(amd let me stress on the compulsiveness of this situation here) HAD to be SRK. And who better than Kajol to club him with? A couple that has single-handedly clicked and made films click? Strike two. And of course, the nice looking, trendy-and-modern and fresh faces to play the respective siblings to the protagonists. Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor. I guess that after Jodha Akbar and Jab We Met, we certainly cannot have that couple doing a similar role, but the time then was perfect. Just perfect. Strike three.

I guess the most distinctive part-of-body of the Indian human species(even the male) is the heart. We aren't too much about the brain, or the logic. In times of cognitive dissonance, we usually listen to the dil ki baat, however unreasonable, illogical and unfeasible. And for some reason, we like to see it on screen. We really couldn't care less for the minor technical details, but we do know when and where to start crying our eyes out. And after i saw it 13 times and critically analysed it, i found that we really dunno what business the Raichands, who are rolling in cash, in an overlarge mansion(supposedly in India) with merely 2 people living in it for most of the time, with the best of cars, helicopters and private jets, are into! How can Jaya Bacchan, armed with jewellery, sit on that mansion(supposedly in India) alone without a watchman? How can she clean that damned house with just one housemaid? In our relatively modest flat, we have 4 maids with different job descriptions. The London's MBA school where Hrithik is supposed to be studying looks more like a design school! But you know, and I know and KJo knows that no one really cares for all this rubbish once SRK starts crying. SRK's tears prevail over these little details novice directors fuss about. So quite correctly, KJo brings a good deal of varied emotions to the table.

We Indians also dream. A LOT. The poor dream of being rich. The Mittal in Kensington dreams of being richer. "183 room house? baah.. i want 209 rooms. maybe one for each day of the year. Oh and my 3 kids will want it that way too. Little Chintoo is quite fussy about it. So lets make it.. uhh.. 365 X 4 rooms". And the movie paints a dream, a vivid picture of having all the luxuries of the world on your doormat. "My son in London misses me? Well then I just hop onto my private jet and go meet him!". A palatial mansion(supposedly in India). A helicopter to go to work. Even the exiled son has a chic bungalow in London. The cute girl acts hard-to-get. The hot guy gives her competition.But after a good amount of throwing "attitude" at each other, they fall in love. They HAVE to. Father-son fight, but a happy ending nevertheless. They're all happy. All rich. All happily living in their mansion(supposedly in India). Its perfect. And I'd want to see it a 14th time as well.

Yes. KJo has segmented, targeted and positioned. And he's kicked ass.

And RGV? What about you son? :-P

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Parliament Starts with a "K" :D

Frankly, I'm not a man with a keen eye on politics. The way i see it(just as the average Indian sees it), our Parliament is the second largest congregation of ugly criminals in India(Second only to "Jails":P) It further does not help that the Indian Political Structure(as they told me in 8th/9th grade) is one of the most complicated the world has seen. Full to the brim with equally complicated politicians. But when a major party of a ruling coalition withdraws support & threats of an imminent fall of the government arise, even the most flaccid and pedestrian political viewers have got to stand up and take notice!

What a dramatic couple of weeks it has been! The Parliament, I realised, is the very reason why men do not watch K-serials. Not only is the drama real and totally intense, not only are the bitching and stabs-in-the-back more grave, but the outcome of the above forces may well alter your plans and schemes for another 5 years! Watch one, just one session of the Parliament and you'll realise how pathetic and ridiculous K-serial drama really is!

So putting it in my typical carefree and insouciant way, all this political brouhaha seems to revolve around a Nuclear-Deal being proposed by the USA. Details, I do not know, but it seems that they'll give us a fair amount of sanctions for nuclear testing and use. And apparently, its been coming for a while now. It was initiated by the BJP some 5 years ago , when they were in power. But unfortunately, they fell from power and the Congress emerged victorious with a great deal of help from the Communist brigades. Commies are secular, so they don't side with "religious-fanatic-scum" like BJP and other Saffrons. Anyway, the Congress found a golden opportunity to complete this "historic" deal and bark about it for years later. And they had 5 years to. It had to happen.

Don Vito Corleone once told his son, Sonny, "Sonny, you never go against the family. Never let an outsider know about a rift in the family". Obviously the Lefties were too high-handed to accept the Don's immortal words. They put the dirty laundry in the UPA family up for all to see. It was a deal they COULD refuse. They did not want it, for anything that comes from America is cursed, vile and spam potent enough to destroy the world. While they claimed that they deal makes no sense to the poor Indian and the benefits would not trickle down as easily as Chidambaram thought, political viewers more adept than myself commented that this hullabaloo would not happen had the deal come from China.

So after playing hide-and-seek with the Politburo for around 3 years(!), PM Manmohan Singh and the Congress puffed their chests out and said they wanted the deal. Commies said, "touch the deal and we withdraw support". A comment that Congress knew had deflated their recently puffed chests.

But last month, the "Man" in Mohan finally got up and said, "support or no support, I'm taking the deal". Indeed it was a deal he couldn't refuse. India is reeling under an energy crisis which is hindering industrial productivity, which is India's Core Competence on the global stage. More energy, like Alessandra Ambrosio, was something to be grabbed with both hands. He took the deal.

It was a move that would shock even the nonagenarian leftist. The Karats, Bardhans, Basus and other babu-moshais agreed to disagree. The Capitalism-blinded Congress had to be taught a lesson. The Red Army marched and punched their Iron Fists in the Congress' guts and yodelled, "Commies not dead!". And it was "Curtains" for the coalition. The Reds chose the Saffrons instead.

The Congress didn't want no elections given the "economic slowdown" and the "high uncontrolled rates of inflation" that the BJP is rebukingly pointing out every 3 days. They ran helter and skelter, hither and tither, from pillar to post, from a jailed MP to the undertrial one. Unlike what Einstein said," whoever could be counted, counted!". Which is where i feel the Congress lost the credibility it had managed to raise with loan-waivers, n-deals and what not. In the recent Parliament session, false accusations, lies and currency notes came thick and fast. So fast that our poor aging Speaker could no longer follow what was going on. It was like me at a thriller movie. But it kinda proved what a bitch democracy can be at times. Do one good deed and 5 bad ones to atone for it.

K serials? This is the REAL set! The REAL drama!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Can't say?

If you subscribe to any English(i'm not too aware what system the regional-language-ones follow) newspaper, on perhaps the front page, you will come across a poll question and what the respondents of the previous day's poll had to say. And the system is simple enough. Close-ended questions. No scope for any prolixity. "Yes" or "No". What piques me is the "cant' say" part.

Now frankly that "Can't say" really baffles me. I mean since it is a voluntary involvement for the people who respond to the poll. Its not compulsory to register your views. Imagine, during elections, you walk into the booth, see the names and parties of the candidates and you say,"well I'm not so sure". "Can't say". Its not as though you go to their site, check the poll page to see what question they're asking and then get trapped. "Answer bitches, or you're stuck here forever". No, its really much simpler and much more within the humanitarian rights. See the question, you agree or disagree with the point of view they present, and leave. Why should people feel the need to stay on the page, ponder long and hard upon the question, scratch their brains, and then come to the inscrutable position where they haven't a honest opinion and since they are trapped on the page until they can provide an honest opinion, what will come to the poor damsels' rescue? The "can't say" option. Do you really think that such a dire situation is possible?

The problem is, to around 3-10% respondents actually DO get stuck at this unfortunate juncture. Only the trap isn't technological. Its purely psychological. Let me explain.

You'll see it in most Indians. Most commonly in women. Indians, as a community, can't help but put their two cents in every time. We have this compulsive need to keep giving people advice, because we know that what will say will only alter their lives, and for the better. "listen to me baby..", "I know.. I'll tell you..", "Take my advice...". We have to. We just have to. And this is where the "can't say" option comes to our rescue. We have to say SOMETHING! But we don't agree, nor do we disagree! Heck! We don't even know what the hell the question means! But we gotta say something! How can the world go without knowing what we think about this question? How will the world come to realise that not only are we ignoramus nuts, but we also need to display this ignorance unabashedly?

"Can't Say"