Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bajji on the beach

Fancy some piping hot molaga bajjis? So hot that the steam rushes out into the darkness of the night the moment you bite into it? Chilli Bajjis bright red in the light of the hurricane lamp; crunchy; the taste of the light smear of masala on the chilli emerging as you reach the fleshy middle; the stem smothered in flour too; deep fried in oil boiling in a huge vat on a kerosene stove; salty, yes, but not from the sea. Molaga bajjis on the beach! Ah!
I had my fill yesterday. :)


Friday, January 12, 2007

Wah Guru! (May contain spoilers)

Allright, that's a dead give away. But then, you must call a spade a spade.

Since I watched the movie at the Apollo Hospitals charity premiere Thursday night, people have been asking me if it will be a big hit. I'm not sure. But unless you are Maniratnam, which I am not, I think it is hardly material.

Because Guru packs a decent punch, in sheer entertainment. Granted it begins slowly (though sizzlingly for Mallika Sherawat fans, which again, I am not) but picks up momentum like one of those trains that take forever to get into 100kmph. But once they get going, there's no stopping them.

Nevermind what they say, if you remove the very thin veil over the Gurukant Desai story (Abhishek Bachchan), you have Dirubhai Ambani. Guru, then, is the story of the rise of a middle class Indian to the ranks of a business tycoon, the means which he uses to get there and his justification of the same. Meanwhile, there is gentle romance, a little humour, some superlative moments, much courtroom drama, some drama outside the court, irresponsible rhetoric, excellent dileanation of character, brilliant cinematography (Rajeev Menon) and music (A.R.Rahman) that blends with the movie.

If you are going to watch the movie remember that the first half sags a bit. At times, you are even wondering what the point is. Istanbul, where the intital parts of the movie are shot, is pale. Probably deliberately so... India is where the colour is, India is where the vibrancy is and India is where Guru Kant Desai can become what he has. A technique that has been used with much success in other movies, I'm not sure it quite works here.

Clearly however, the moment that begins the movie is the scene in the running train where Aishwarya Rai bumps into Bachchan junior. The chemistry is evident right from the word go, only going on to brew more magic in subsequent scenes in the movie, portraying marital intimacy in the most subtle language. To be mentioned in particular are two scenes, one in which the couple have a friendly pummeling routine on the bed and the other, in the second half of the movie, a mature Ash and Abhishek reminiscence about their just-married days. Superlative!

Headmaster's son Guru Kant Desai builds his business brick by brick, destroying an elite competition to shambles with a carefully blended mixture of personal charisma, bribery, corruption and cheating. He climbs steadily up the ladder, building business after business, in his success, arrogating to dream for the entire nation. In that is his hubris, his downfall. It is also in Manik Das Gupta (Mithun Chakraborty), the Commie newspaper man, that Guru meets his downfall.

Ironic, given that it's Manik Das, brilliantly essayed by Mithun, and his paper, The Independent(Swatantra), that gives Guru his first big break. It is poetic justice that the man who fights against monopoly to give Guru his chance also turns back on his protege when he realises he is going down the same path. Mithun uses Madhavan, Shyam Saxena, a reporter who takes up the challenge of bringing Guru down to destabilise him. Neat performance by Madhavan, credit to director Manirathnam for not sterotyping him as a reporter, it is so easy to do so these days.

Justice, then, descends on Guru. He loses the faith of the people and suffers a stroke. The support of the masses is his adrenalin...and when that is withdrawn, when people turn against him, Guru collapses - nearly wholly. A very touching scene in the ICU follows as his twin daughters sing to him - again the touch of a classy director. Abhishek has some splendid Nayagan moments throughout the movie, but more so in his illness. I certainly think that the junior B has just been in the role of a lifetime and he has Maniratnam to thank for drawing out what must be innate, but truly well-hidden talent in him.

Significantly it is the aam junta that revive the flailing behemoth. The courtroom scene has its usual moments of humour, Roshan Seth playing the chief inquisitor. Seth has been a favourite right from the days of Bharat Ek Khoj and brief though his appearance might be, it certainly adds meat to the movie. The success of Guru, I think, is the manner in which its many well-oiled components orchestrate in harmony as one unit.

But then there is the movie's fatal flaw. A number of people who watched the movie along with me, began by enjoying the second half of the movie, but had revised their opinion by the time the movie ended. "Nice" became "O..kay." Primarily because in the crucial scene, the climax, they loose the connect that is essential between movie and audience. What snaps it off is the rhetoric that Guru uses to justify himself and his work... Can the great Indian middle class be expected to sympathise with a man who made himself a millionaire, clearly with a good measure of deceit and deception?

At the end of the day, Guru is still an entertainer, in it, are the elements of movie-making so wonderfully mixed that a discerning audience will stand up to applaud, "Wah Guru! Wah Mani!"


Ferrari Pirabhu gaaru thinks its a great movie too... Check his review.

Mysorean, however, sees differently...

Bharadwaj Rangan's conclusion...

Lakshmee is thoroughly impressed, with Gurubhai and Dhirubhai!

What Yogesh thinks, albeit in Marathi

Do let me know if you have a review... Will link up


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Of Feeling Ill

It's strange. When my throat feels as if it is being rubbed by the finest river-bed silicon, why is my mouth not tasting of sand, but of cardboard.? What is that you say... I can't hear very well, the sand seems to be in my ear too... :(

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Unfaithfully, this time every year, I'm ill. Over the last two years, at least Jay was there to share the sorrow and tissue box with. But this time, it's just me. If you are also one of those weather-change-related-allergic person, and can commiserate with me, DO, DO talk.

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Creativity is at its lowest ebb. All the sand and carboard in my system seems to be keeping inspiration away. Tch!


Monday, January 01, 2007

Kitsch, new year and a dictator

It was the most kitschy new year party ever! :) It was unbelievable, the theme was 'jungle' and the party was truly wild... the music, wilder... For the first time in my life I heard Eagles' Hotel California, playing with bhangra beats! After getting over the initial shock of an Eagles' purist, I think I quite enjoyed it! The DJ was brave, but he sure pulled it off!

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It is a fact of life that where kitsch abounds, men will try to hit on women.

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If there was one person who enjoyed the kitsch more than me, it could only be my visiting Belarussian mate, Maryna. She has had absolutely no exposure to this kind of music until three days ago. I know she loved it, it was different, but she had fun.

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Sea-lover that I am, made bold this year to dip my feet into the chill waters of a night sea. Hmmm... creeps and garbage on the Marina's sands notwithstanding, it was truly enjoyable. The smell of the sea and its spray, its rowdy waves, for me at least, is heaven.

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In the spirit of the season, Happy New YEar folks! I have a good feeling about this year... :) P'raps even a short tale! :)

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It also strikes me that if you want to turn a mass murderer, dictator, despot into a hero overnight you might want to call George Dubya Bush at his Texas ranch for advice. He's the best you can get.