Friday, August 02, 2013

Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man (X-Files)

The all powerful, mysterious villain from The X-Files known as The Smoking Man or The Cancer Man (owing to his penchant for Morley cigarettes) is a well crafted (and well acted by William B. Davis) character. Starting from all black, the character starts showing vulnerabilities of a normal human-being as the series progresses.

The episode Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man reveals a lot about the history and character of this person whose real name till this point is only a matter of speculation. He has been a master assassin in his youthful days who was actually behind the assassination of historical figures like John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King (both well shot re-enactment sequences in sepia; written and directed even better) in past. He has been running an alternate power center about which even the presidents are not aware (I work hard each day so that no president knows that I even exist), where he reprimands J Edgar Hoover for letting Martin Luther King situation out of hand and decides to take the matter in his own hands (I will do it myself. I have too much respect for the man). What more - he may have even fixed Olympic matches (What's the matter. Don't you believe in miracles ?).

The humane part is shown when we learn that this ruthless-scheming-powerful man's secret desire is to become a successful albeit anonymous spy thrillers writer. He is inspired by Howard Hunt, the writer who exposed Watergate conspiracy (All The President's Men) and wants to write like Tom Clancy (The writer of Jack Ryan series). A particular ironic but well enacted scene is when this hard talking, domineering character bungles and bumbles like an expectant new writer while discussing his first story with a publisher on phone where is his idea of story cover is struck down. And when the story does get published, he excitedly buys the magazine from the stand and is utterly crestfallen that editor has changed the ending.

This character has been bestowed with some great hard-boiled dialogs but the dead-pan monologue which he goes on to expound immediately after this disappointment while seated beside a rag picker munching a chocolate from a trash-bin is classic stuff :

"Life is like a box of chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for. Unreturnable(sic), because all you get back is another box of chocolates. So you're stuck with this indefinable whipped mint crap that you mindlessly wolf down when there's nothing else left to eat. Sure, once in a while there's a peanut butter cup or an English toffee but they're gone too fast and taste is fleeting. So you end up with nothing but broken bits of hardened jelly and teeth-shattering nuts. If you're desperate enough to eat those, all you got left is an empty box filled with useless brown paper wrappers."

I am a fan of The X-Files not because of their main characters but because of characters like him and Deep Throat (Jerry Hadin) amongst others. They were written well and played by better actors.

Friday, July 05, 2013

The Departed

There is no better (or worse) place than a crematorium or a graveyard to hear humbled earthlings waxing their eloquent on the metaphysics of life, death and thereafter. Some of them are grim in their expression but many, in fact, can be found smiling while expounding their views.

You might see gossipers at various corners of the yard, huddled in smaller groups, with less than passing interest at the actual grief of the affected family. Some of them take time to enjoy the scenery of the river, while a few others might go and take a walk around to marvel at the greenery of the landscape.

The truth is - except for the immediate family members and some extremely close friends, there would hardly be anyone who would feel any real loss or grief for the departed person. Even though man is a social animal, he/she is also selfish and fake on most of the occasions.

I know why I was in tears, though, while I recently attended a funeral. I honestly felt sad for the family who tried their best to prolong the life of the deceased but I cried because it reminded me of a similar personal tragedy which happened more than a decade and a half years ago in my life.

But I admit, I didn't cry for the person who was being cremated. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't have. I am not much different than others, after all.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Best is The Enemy Of Good

There is this story which went around on the bizarre circumstances under which son-of-soil HD Deve Gowda was sworn as the 15th Prime Minister of India.

Representatives from all the 'secular forces' were having a meeting on the consensus candidate. Mr. Gowda too marked his valuable presence (which incidentally turned very valuable for himself) in the meeting through his patent siesta. Each of the participants was being asked the name of his/her preferred choice, but when Mr. Gowda's turn came, delta waves were already in formation, putting him at the 4th stage of sleep. At that point, Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav, a Prime Minister aspirant himself, attempted to revive him back to the meeting, by hollering out his name "Mr. Gowda, Mr. Gowda !" Seeing his futile attempts, some others too joined in the chorus.

Nobody is sure what happened next or rather why it happened. Possibly due to the abrupt sleep disruption, and causing some sleep deprivation, Gowda senior got a little disoriented and hearing a cacophony of his name, he arrived to this happy conclusion that it was his name which the gentlemen were suggesting for the coveted post. Hurriedly he said "Thank You, Sar" and to the shock of the nation, the history was made.

It is said that since then Mulayam Singh has been harbouring a deep grudge against Lalu as he believes it is the latter who thus jinxed his chances of becoming PM while Lalu is no less bemused at the thought claiming why would he do that to himself, much less to Mulayam.

Sigmund Freud postulated that dreams are the symbolic expression of frustrated desires that have been relegated to the unconscious mind. Maybe all that happened because Deve Gowda was dreaming about that and when he woke up, his dream came true but if we come back to present times, then definitely dreams of Nitish Kumar have come to a shattering end.

Sycophants around Mayawati made her believe that she can be the country PM one day and she always gushed at that wishful thought. Something similar has happened with Nitish Kumar. He was always an ambitious man which was pretty evident the way he mercilessly relegated senior and respected JD(U) leader George Fernandez in the party. His two successive victories which coincided with a leadership void and factionalism in BJP brought him an artificial self-belief that perhaps he can be the next NDA leader and future PM but the sphinx like rise of Narendra Modi has put water to all such dreams.

Unfortunately, his only hope now rests on the idea of "Third Front" which in itself has no hopes. A mercurial Mamata Banerjee is better off as a foe than a friend. An equivocal Mulayam is a person whom no-one can reliably count either as a friend or foe. In the modern world where cradles of communism and socialism like Russia and China themselves have long since succumbed to the temptations of bourgeois and have moved on to become capitalist states, the leftists have no ideology left. J Jayalalitha always keeps cards close to her chest. If "Third Front" will have JD(U), where would their arch enemy RJD go ? Clearly, "Third Front" is a non-starter.

One would wonder what benefit have these various offshoots of erstwhile Janta Dal have done for the country. They way they have divided, sub-divided like diseased amoebae, tells a lot of about their opportunistic tendencies. Here is their staggering list at the time of writing : Janta Dal(S), Janta Dal (U), Samajwadi Party, Samajwadi Janta Party (Rashtriya), Rashtriya Janta Dal, Biju Janta Dal, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Indian National Lok Dal, Samta Party (later merged with JD(U)), Lok Janshakti Party, Janta Party, and Socialist Janta Party.

While these parties ably represent the crass and corrupt political class like their other brethren do, they are far worse because the reason of the birth of such splinters is not any ideology or a revolution; it is their absolute lust for power and unfathomable greed for money. Most of their leaders are either charge sheeted criminals or proclaim offenders and some of them have even enjoyed the hospitable services of Indian prisons. They can't even boast a single statesman amongst them and all they have learned to follow and practice is the art of blackmail.

Nitish Kumar's blackmailing has failed. Unfortunately, his ambition would cost more to his state than him as it might pave way for the return of Lalu and Bihar might sink back to dark ages once again. He should perhaps read Macbeth to learn about the pitfalls of uncontrolled ambition.

"I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other."

From Macbeth (William Shakespeare)

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Raven (Edgar Allan Poe)

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Curious Case of Missing Singers

My dad had an old Murphy radio of the size of a largish attaché box which had every indications of a prized possession. My mother told me it was as old as my dad himself, yet, though it looked weathered with a tinge of sepia, this was more because of the various shades of natural brown colour it had rather than aging as it was excellently maintained in his technically gifted hands.

He also owned a sleek Sony radio-cum-tape-recorder duly smuggled from Nepal because the then lower middle class of India could not afford the import duty Indira Gandhi's regime required for Garibi Hatao of our political class. This one was primarily used for either playing Sholay dialog cassette or for enjoying Qawwali(s) he was fond of.

However, Murphy was used for pure radio pleasure. Whether it was Vividh Bharati or Radio Ceylon - there would be a childish glint in his eyes not just because of the nostalgia attached with it, but also the fact that likes of Rafi, Kishore, Lata, Hemant Kumar, Asha, Manna Dey and others made the experience well worth it. These melodious voices and together with the music would compulsorily wash away the day-end weariness from the silos and warehouses of the Food Corporation of India.

Collateral benefit, however, was happening to me. I was getting increasingly addicted to singers, music and radio. I would tune-in to radio all the time be it the morning Chitralok or its shorter evening version. I have listened to Cibaca Sangeetmala on Vividh Bharati, before that when it was Binaca Geetmala on Radio Ceylon till it finally became Colgate Cibaca Sangeetmala. I have heard many special episodes of Chitramala hosted by the likes of Raj Kapoor, Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar and others. At my college, the best use and the worst abuse of my roommate's walkie-talkie shaped transistor was done by me. Similarly, during my first year of stay in Pune, after the hard day in the office I invariably ended sleeping to the lullabisque melodies from Bela Ke Phool - the last Vividh Bharati program from the Pune studios.

Unfortunately, the song listening experience has taken a big plunge in last few years. It all started when Himesh Reshamiya started croaking his own songs thereby opening a door size of the Wagah Border for other music directors to unleash the terror of their respective vocal chords on not just the hapless ears but also on the psyche of the listeners.

As you surf through various channels, you might hear Ram Sampath trying the title song of Fukrey seemingly under the spell of acute laryngitis. Not long ago, Amit Trivedi made full use of his false vocal folds and virtually no use of his true vocal chords in the rendition of the songs of Kai Po Che. I literally had trouble even hearing some words, forget understanding. Vishal Dadlani is bearable when he is part of a chorus, but I wonder whatever possessed Ram Sampath to make him sing for Talaash. If a voice can be called constipated, it was his when he tried Jee Ley Zara. In fact, if you notice both Vishal-Shekhar can boast of flourishing alternate singing careers (if you judge by sheer count of songs they have sung) yet not having a single hummable song.

And that is the main problem. With time, melody has already gone from the music. Barring rare exceptions, poetry in cinema is almost extinct. Now, if the quality of voice goes as well, what will be there to listen and enjoy ? What will be the repeat value ? And this has almost become a racket because every music director is singing now - Pritam Chakraborty, Sajid-Wajid, Vishal Bhardwaj and God knows where would it end, or will it ?

It is not that music directors were not singing before. S.D. Burman had a unique voice but he used it sparingly like in Merey Sajan Hain Us Paar from Bandini. Hemant Kumar occasionally dabbled as a music director, but he had a haunting voice which puts you in a trance. R D Burman's voice was harsh, good for yodeling and had nice variations but he too used it sparingly and mostly for an impact. I liked the song Dhannon Ki Ankhon Mein for the brilliant movie Kitaab.

Narcissism got better of Bappi Da and Anu Malik where they started to sing most of their songs, but even though latter was an atrocious singer, Bappi Da could sing well, especially the Bangla songs. The Bambayi Nagariya from Nau Do Gyarah was sung really well. Honourable mention to the special song sung by Jatin (of Jatin-Lalit pair) - Rooth Ke Humsey Kabhi from Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander. This one is very close to my heart. A R Rehman too does that occasionally.

But these cases were more of the exceptions than rule. Now we have a whole syndicate of music-directors doing this and when we don't have these people singing their songs, we will have some other singer singing either with a nasal twang or in a husky voice. In the name of a "different" voice, every voice we are getting is different, and awful. As if actors themselves singing was not enough torture for us.

I wonder what my dad would have felt if he was around. For me, I am planning to switch to instrumentals.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Great Gatsby

"I knew it was a great mistake for a man like me to fall in love"

In one of the heart breaking moments of the movie Jay Gatsby's character confides this to Nick Caraway, the narrator, and perhaps his only friend. Gatsby is a billionaire who dubiously acquires his wealth through bootlegging and is not a perfect likeable character, but when he says, and the way he says this : every sinew of your hearts feels out for him.

I had read the book in my college, gratefully borrowed from my college's Student Activity Center library, and till date I haven't come across another book which has more flawed and deliberately dislikable characters than this one. None of us are perfect, but even when imperfect characters are honest in their love, we feel for them, just like Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With the Wind. She is absolutely mean, materialistic, ruthless - yet we love her despite all her follies.

Gatsby is not even the least like her - at least that is what the narrator tries to convince us. Set in the golden decade of roaring twenties - the Jazz Age - known for its excesses and bloom which eventually ended into the doom and gloom of The Great Depression, Nick finds him as the only one worth his willow amongst the "rotten" and "careless" crowd including his own cousin Daisy Buchanan, the love interest of Jay Gatsby.

Looking at the sheer shallowness of the people around him, he gushes to Gatsby - "They’re a rotten crowd. You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together." His absolute admiration for his new neighbour-turned-friend can be seen in the very beginning of the book as he recounts : "It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced--or seemed to face--the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey."

At one point one can't simply comprehend the amount of love and emotion Gatsby derived for the emotionally decapitated Daisy, but then you understand all when Nick eloquently articulates "There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams -- not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart."

Even Gatsby's ambition and lust to go after wealth is spurred less by his impoverished childhood but more by his indefatigable infatuation for Daisy which is explained when he abruptly fills in Nick "Her voice is full of money" during one of their conversations when latter is found searching for words while describing her cousin.

No one can be more lonely than man living alone in a luxurious mansion, but Gatsby's loneliness can be fathomed aptly in the words he describes his wild parties "You see I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad things that happened to me." The man is sad and desperate in love, but he is hopeful. Deep in his heart he knows about the futility and fatality of it, yet he is endlessly, hopelessly hopeful.

In one of the final moments of the book when he is waiting for the call from his lover, who had promised to call, who had promise to come to be with him forever and the phone rings, reader is just as hopeful as he is. But there is a difference between the newly found wealth of the impoverished class and that of the wealth bequeathed in blood and bones of the privileged class. Gatsby is an aspirant to a class which no amount of wealth and parties can buy and Daisy is a blue blood upper class damsel who can chose to stay with an egotistical, philandering ivy league husband but not for a person whom she claims she "always loved". This masterpiece faithfully depicts the shallow hypocrisy of the rich and futility of an earnest, selfless but undeserving love in the era where not having social strata was even bigger pyorrhea than now.

F. Scott Fitzgerald is a magician with words. His passages are descriptive with lyrical prose and many scenes stay with you long after you read them. Characters are well drawn out - so much so that reader believes, loves, hates, despises them but never dismisses them. Despite so many unlikable characters, Fitzgerald's himself falls short of condemning them ("Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply" or "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had"). Nick Caraway is the character through whose eyes we see the story unfolding and the characters colliding. Though he cannot be termed as an absolutely innocent bystander as he claims himself to be("Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known"), but the fact that he just observes others without really entering their world is the reason we believe his honest understandings and judgments.

Movie is less severe on the characters than the book. You actually feel little sorry for Daisy Buchanan. The wife beating, domineering, adulterous Tom is less of a snobbish bastard than he is actually in book. The other key characters like Myrtle - Tom's mistress and her cuckolded husband George Wilson are left as mere caricatures. The stress is more on Gatsby's absolute dream and efforts to get his love and his subsequent hope, angst, pain, melancholy and failure. Bryan Adam's "Everything I do, I do it for you" seemed to have been written for him.

F. Scott Fitzgerald is a hell of a writer. He describes the moments well. As tailpiece, I quote a masterpiece moment from his book which is filled with many such masterpieces for most of the other moments, and not a word is wasted. This book is a literary perfection.

"His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed like a flower and the incarnation was complete."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

As Sick As They Come

I am not a psychologist even though I tried my hand on two psychology courses in my college. Psychologists insist that the sexual predators like Phaneesh Murthy do what they do because "harassing a woman at the workplace becomes a way of asserting masculinity" or they "suffer from feelings of insufficiency or inadequacy" and may "have deep-seated insecurities."

Earlier I used to ignore all these theories as technical mumbo-jumbo but over the period of time I have begun to realize that apart from these being cases of insatiable, indefatigable lust, there is definitely some sort of deep rooted psychosis involved as well.

I have seen many individuals - both in personal and professional life who suffer from this malaise where their mind becomes a slave of their libido and their power of reasoning takes a leave. If this is backed-up with power then they act with a sense of impunity.

There is a very senior guy I know who literally ogles at women, forces female subordinates to stay late, offers them late night lift - all this with rank impunity, yet he thrives. He is a living nightmare for the girls working under him.

Another one would insist on girls to have coffee breaks with him. If they ignore, he would forcibly join them in canteen or would try to disrupt their coffee time by scheduling a meeting. He would go and sit at their desktops every one hour explaining things which they don't want to learn from him. There was a virtual revolt against this guy, yet he managed to get even bigger and bolder using his newly found power to harass even more.

Another old wise man would impress young newcomers with flowery praise. Whether the girl was from his team or another - didn't matter. Some gullible girls would get initially flattered till they found about the similar stories with other ones. Then he would be ignored, but it doesn't matter to this shameless fellow. His game is on.

This other fellow would send the Facebook requests to the girls he didn't even know. When he couldn't find them on FB, he would send the request to their corporate email id. In the meeting room, during the meetings, he would check out the pics of the girls from the corporate diary.

Then there was this absolutely sick guy, who definitely needed help. He would brazenly stare at girls, and seeing their discomfort, he would give a smirk and even intimidate them by hovering around. It didn't matter if the girl was alone or accompanied. He didn't have any fear or shame of anyone whomsoever. He actually needs medical help.

There is one such person amongst my relatives who is known for his repeated misdemeanours. He has been even reprimanded and rebuked several time but doesn't learn. He is a shame for his immediately family but they bravely bear him.

Sadly, there is a never ending list of such sick people. Most of the time, these people are ignored, not punished for their deeds, and hence indirectly encouraged. I believe they should not be just punished but also ostracized. There should be no tolerance policy against such people - both by individuals and groups.

I twice tried to get one such fellow punished on two separate occasions but the girls backed out. I, for one, never talk with such people and if I do, I am decidedly rude.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tumhey Yaad Hi Ke Na Yaad Ho



What do you call when something of this sort happens repeatedly : You help a few destitue elderly people with money, they bless you and while returning back home - you are booked for not breaking the signal or you pitch in to provide food for a hungry child and later in the day you learn the clutch plate of your vehicle is a goner. You just wish that the money you paid as fine or costs should have directly gone to the needy and everyone would have been better off.

In the end, you still call it life.

Friday, May 17, 2013

An Accident Waiting To Happen

A few seasons back when Australia was touring India for a One Day series, after every ball of the over Sreesanth would walk towards the batsman and sledge something about which Gavaskar has always jovially maintained that it is something which wouldn't be appreciated much by the batsman's mother.

He did that even for a couple of no-balls to which he has been more susceptible than his other brethren (only R Ashwins beats him there) and after a few fulltossess which were duly guided to the boundary. And when he would, if at all, take a wicket - he would run across the pitch, squat just off the way of the walking batsman and animatedly thump the ground in celebration with his bare hands while giving a dirty look at the bemused batsman.

His theatrics were similar but fell way short of tantrums shown by Andre Nel in his hey days until he found his match.

Ian Chappell too was at the commentary box - and seeing Sreesanth's actions and reactions, he remarked- "He is an accident waiting to happen." As much respect I had for Chappell's Cricketing mind, I didn't agree with him because I thought Sreesanth wouldn't survive that much in Cricket but then the Grand Indian Tamasha of IPL happened and he survived with slaps, tears and all. What I did think about him later when I saw him praying before every ball during the World Cup that his real place is not Cricket field but some mental asylum.

Not in asylum, but he is in prison now. Andre Nel must be smiling with glee while Chappell senior must be solemnly nodding an i-told-you-so.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


 Sometime in mid-eighties Doordarshan used to telecast an intriguing detective series called Satyajit Ray Presents, though I myself could watch them only during later part of that decade when they were repeated. It had a haunting title music with the sound of a ticking clock making its main theme well followed-up by equally ominous background score.

I don't have much memory of the most of the episodes, but I do remember a longish story which was shown over many episodes called Kissa Kathmandu Ka. It featured Shashi Kapoor, Utpal Dutt, Mohan Agashe and Alankar Joshi (Pallavi Joshi's brother and previously known as Master Alankar) as the main leads and the adventure, as the name suggests was set in picturesque Kathmandu with a climax around the famous Pashupati Nath temple.

I quite liked the series - not just for the story and but also thrill element it brought due to its settings. They reminded me of the taut settings of Vijay Anand movies. At that time, I just assumed that they must have been episodes directed by great Satyajit Ray and that was that.

It was much later that I came to know that they were based on a famous character (and detective series) created by Satyajit Ray himself called Feluda aka Prodosh Chandra Mitra aka Pradosh C. Mitter. By Ray's own admission, the series was inspired by Sherlock Holmes of which Ray was a huge fan himself.This series' Watson and Feluda's trusted lieutenant is his intelligent teenaged cousin Tapesh Ranjan Mitra aka Topshe. He is also the delightful voice of narrative which brings the child back out of you while reading.

The story would get published every year in one of these magazine edited by Ray - Sandesh, Sharadiya Sandesh, or Sharadiya Desh from 1965 to 1995. The intended target audience was supposed to be children but its popularity swept across the generations and was eagerly awaited by people from all ages. But since they were written in Bangla, rest of India missed out the treat. Even the movies based on these stories, directed by Satyajit Ray and his son Sandip Ray, were in Bengali. The only non-Bangla movie based on Feluda was Kissa Kathmandu Ka (based on Joto Kando Kathmandutey and directed by Sandip Ray).

However, as they say - all days never remain same, the lady luck has smiled on non-bengali fans of detective fiction. Penguin India has started publishing the English translations of these books. They come in two volumes : The Complete Adventures of Feluda Vol. 1 & Vol.2 . What more, there are comic series as well under the collection Feluda Mysteries. Likewise there are Marathi translations as well.

While I was already a fan of Ray through his only Hindi movie Shataranj Ke Khiladi, but after going through these Feluda mysteries, I have become even greater fan of this genius personality. Not only these books are first rate adventure books, these also show us the knowledge in general this writer possessed. Almost each of his stories are based in a different city yet he captures the ethos, essence of each of them beautifully in the story. In fact, the place itself becomes an important character in itself - where its locations play valuable role as the story progresses. Reader is literally transformed to these places through his description and imagery.

One thing where I could relate with him was his love for trivia. Some interesting information would be thrown at the curious reader somewhere in the beginning of the story to chew upon and later it would play an important part in solving the mystery.

However, for a series to be successful, more than plots, it is the characters who should appeal more to the readers. The most endearing feature of this series is the delightful bond of love and respect which the two cousins possess making them appear friendly real life folks. This ensured a cult following. This is the reason these books are liked by all class and age of people.

CQ, CQ, this is W9GFO. Is anybody out there? CQ, this is W9GFO. CQ, this is W9GFO here. Come back !

The above quote is from the movie Contact (1997). It only means that I am back on blogspot and hope to see you all once again.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I wish I could roll back the complete tragic events which happened in Mumbai, but even if I am given the power to do that partially, I will change the guest list at the Taj and Oberoi.

Here is it. Please pardon my perversion.

1. Raj Thackray and others from his clan.
2. Arundhati Roy.
3. Amar Singh and Mulayam Singh.
4. The complete Left Front.
5. Mayawati.
6. Lalu Prasad and his brothers-in-law.
7. Shivraj Patil, Vilas Rao Deshmukh and RR Patil.
8. Teesta Setlvad, Farukh Sheikh, Shabana Azmi and Mahesh Bhatt.
9. Nominees invited.

Please do send yours as well.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Delhi Boy

Shahrukh Khan is in trouble. He calls himself a Delhi boy, which he duly is, but Bal Thackray insists now he is not because Mumbai has given him wealth and fame. Though at the same time, he also insists that Sonia Gandhi is still an Italian, a Videshi.

Shahrukh must be disoriented by now about his existence. Myself sailing on the same damn boat. Join the notorious club. Who knows, someone might club us all.

I repeat, Bal Thackray insists since it is Mumbai and Maharashtra which has given him wealth and fame so why does he harp about being a Delhi boy.

As if, as soon as he touched Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, or shall I say Bhusawal, almost magically, someone started giving him all his wealth - to make him rich, and concurrently, someone else (or the same guy perhaps) started calling his name on AIR, to make him famous.

Applying the theory of mathematical induction (though I never came across a bigger fraudulent theory), every one making money or name in Maharashtra started doing in the same manner. Well, not every body, though. Some of them were beaten black and blue right on landing at the Kalyan & Kurla station. However, rest get it for free, by almost doing nothing.

It may also be that all the movie audience of Shahrukh Khan is from Mumbai and Maharashtra only. Rest of India and world are not counted. It is already known that he dances at the ceremonies of Netas to earn quick bucks. So this settles it.

Mahindra and Mahindra, Telco, Bajaj sell all their vehicles only in Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra. So those workers who come here and work should also pay their homage and respect for their bread and butter, and to their very existence, only to Maharashtra.

Had there been no Maharashtra, who would have created these vehicles and much worse, who would have bought them, isn't it ? Anyway it is not their work which is bringing them money. They are being paid only for the fact that they have entered Maharashtra.

It is God's will that they were born to move into Maharashtra in future. Was this not tobe, may be God would have cancelled the order. That's why, my dear Shahrukh, you ain't no Delhi boy. You were desitined to come here, and that's why you were concieved (or else it would have been someone else in your place). You are now Mee-Mumbai-Maharashtra boy.

Now let us all say in chorus - Jai Maharashtra!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Percentile

Outside Maharashtra, not many would be knowing that education ministry of the state has come up with an idea of reserving more seats (yes, one more reservation) in the colleges and junior colleges for the students passing from Maharashtra Board.

The convoluted logic is that since ICSE and CBSE are follow percentile system, students form these board have an undue advantage over the Maharashtra board students during admissions. Mercifully, someone filed a court petition and there is a deadlock in Bombay High court.

Here are my two cents on this.

True, students get marks in abundance in ICSE and CBSE, and they do follow in percentile system. However, students from Maharashtra Board, even without percentile system, get no less marks.

In fact, I remember, when I was applying for Agarwal Correspondence Studies for JEE, they had this cut-off system for the applicants. The average for PCM (Physics, Chemistry, Math) for ICSE and CBSE was 85%, while that of Maharashtra Board and Kerala Board was 92%.

Now coming to the quality of curriculum and exams.

My sister completed her Intermediate (XI-XII) from Maharashtra Board. For e.g. in English Literature, she had the chapters like Sambhaji Maharaj and poems like Abu Ben Adham in her class XI. I had studied the same poem in my class V in 1986, while she did the same in her class XI in 2001.

Apart from that, in 1993-1994, when I was doing my Intermediate (XI-XII) from ICSE, we had novel Macbeth, A collected short story book having stories from authors like Graham Greene, Jerome K Jerome, Jack London, O Henry, Roald Dahl, Ruskin Bond and standalone poem book called Panorama.

Not only this, we had the novel Julius Caesar in IX & X, and Merchant of Venice in VIII apart from other books.

Comparison to this, Maharashtra Board had just one book for English Literature, and that too very elementary. So was true for all other subjects.

In fact, my sis didn't get an admission for B.Com in Lucknow University and Awadh Girls because they said that Maharashtra Board's SSC level commerce is too elementary.

She was an average student in CBSE student till class X, and she turned out a topper from her school with Maharashtra Board.

In terms of exam as well, one would never find any repeated question in ICSE or ISC exams. In fact, I remember, my both ICSE and ISC exams were quite a revelation in terms paper setting. They were very very tricky!

Also, in Maharshtra Board class X and class XII board exams, nothing of class IX and class XI would be asked. This was not there in ICSE and ISC.

Last but least, the board and schools made sure that there was absolutely no cheating !

In fact, most of my friends and colleagues from Maharashtra Board accept this fact. They say that it is their schools which lift the students otherwise the board has failed to move on with time.

Somebody should tell this to education ministry. Hope the courts will.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Nano appears to be up for grabs and there seem to be many suitors. Chief Ministers have already started building castles and factory in the air. But at least, one can appreciate these suitors and their castles.

There are some like Shivraj Singh Chauhan of Madhya Pradesh who are busy doing Havan Pujan, while for others like Mayawati all Tatas & Birlas are rolled into one in now 1000 crore Ambedkar Park.

They don't have time or interest for even a customary press release for inviting Ratan Tata. They might not even be knowing, who knows. Not that Tata would have come.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The World Class Athelete

It was only five months back that Anju Bobby George had belittled PT Usha stating she and Milkha Singh were not world class atheletes.

The underlying suggestion was that since she had won a bronze medal in a world championship event, she automatically becomes one, though it hardly matters to her that she virtually did nothing before or after that.

Now the same self proclaimed "world class" athelete couldn't even make single valid jump in all her attempts at the Olympic.

What goes around comes around.



Monday, August 11, 2008

Oh My GO(L)D !

Yes, Bindra, you beauty, you did it! First ever individual gold by India !!!

Congratulations and Celebrations!

Next medal from whom ? Saina Nehwal ? Lets cheer!



Friday, July 04, 2008

23 Months

A Bad Hair Day


A Good Hair Day


A Bad Hair Day - Again




Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Funny Bone

If one sits down to ponder upon the funniest scenes ever written, we would have anthology of Golmaal, Chupke Chupke, Andaaz Apna Apna, Jaaney Bhi Do Yaaron apart from others where one would have laughed non-stop right from start till the end.

A few scenes would be more funny than the others. For instance in Golmaal there are three stand out ones - 1. The interview 2. Dina Pathak's dramatic escape from Mrs Srivastava to Mrs Sharma 3. The extended climax.

Chupke Chupke was no Golmaal, but it still was a very funny movie right from the concept, to casting. It began well, but just before the interval, it began to slag a little. However, if ever there were cameos used to perfection it was here. Amitabh Bachhan's Sukumar Sinha and Jaya Bhaduri's Vasudha brought a fresh life into the movie. The stand out scene ? I would say all the Corolla-Karela ones in second half, and Dharmendra-Omprakash Vishuddha Hindi Vartalaap in the first half.

It is hard to find a blemish in Andaaz Apnaa Apnaa - the best Santoshi flick along with Ghayal. I still remember myself laughing uncontrollably scene after scene, even if it was highly predictable, in the company of my friend Manish Mohan. I am not sure why wasn't the movie successful. Possibly it was the Pratibha curse. Those who have lived or are living in Lucknow would know.

There is a classy theatre called Pratibha, located at a premium location. However, it has some curse of sorts. It shows up only good movies, however some very decent movies have flopped over there! Probably the movie was ahead of its time.

Standout scene? Oh so many of them. In fact, all of them. Still, I would say - Aap Purush Nahin, Mahapurush Nain funda and the brilliant climax(Hey Amar, Is Mein To Goli Hi Nahin Hai, Salmaan-Shakti thumka fight), even as part of it was pinched from Victoria No 203.

Jaaney Bhi Do Yaaron is a satire. Not funny types to evoke laughter except perhaps the extraordinary expression of D'Mello corpse. Its an amazing landmark in Indian cinema. Kundan Shah is a rare talent unfortunately unable to cope up with changing time. Bad for us.

Talking about laugh riots, and how can we miss Govinda! My favourites are Deewana Mastana, and .. ahem .. Aankhein. Yes it was crude , cheesy and corny, but still the truth must be told. Against my wishes, I simply loved Aankhein. Especially, the rural Govinda - GauriShankar.

It was a laugh riot, and the favourite scene is undoubtedly when the girls bring Gaurishankar home instead of Bunnu. The part where he picks up the knife containing the apple was a killer. Also, Govinda's rendition of Chandramukhi was a never-before.

However, in my opinion, the funniest shot ever conceived, written, shot and acted is from Baby's Day Out when Baby Bink is burning the hell out of Joe Mantegna's reproductive system. Oh God, what expressions both from Baby and Joe. And the clincher came when Brian Haley 'extinguishes' it successfully with some nasty kicks, and proclaim proudly so.

But what about funny books or stories. We all laugh aloud when we see something funny, but only smile appreciatively when we read a similar one. Or is it that it is difficult to provoke as much as while reading ?

That day, while traveling to the office in the bus, imagine the shock of my neighbour when he saw me laughing uncontrollably while reading a story. In fact, I would have been rolling with laughter, had there been space to roll. It would only be fit to call it a 'fit' of laughter for I had to take a break from the reading in between because it was humanly impossible to read in that situation.

The short story is A Comedy In Capricorn by Morley Roberts.

I would reckon, undoubtedly, it is one of the most funniest stories ever written and even better than Road Dahl's Parson's Pleasure and O Henry's The Ransom Of Red Chief.

Unfortunately, you cannot find it at internet. There is a little known about the author, and more little about the story. However, you can find it at The Ruskin Bond Omnibus IV under the Laughter Omnibus. The book is double its worth with this story in it.

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