Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hunger, thirst and Karva Chauth

Karva Chauth is undoubtedly the most 'in' and celebrated festival in the northern part of India for all married ladies.
The euphoria doubles when it comes to newly-wed brides!

Decked up like it's an early Diwali.. the young married women flock open areas and terraces of their houses to catch a glimpse of the moon.

If moon was a person, then his name would be Osama bin Laden on this day.
The moon is simply the 'most-wanted'.

But the fetish for the moon isn't all religious.
Well, let's see what the religious angle is first :
There was a mythological princess called Veeravati who had observed a fast for her husband. The deal was that she would break her fast once the moon had risen.
She was fragile and couldn't stand the rigour of not even having water through the day.
Her brothers were worried and lit a fire on a nearby hill and tricked her into believing that it was moonlight.
The lady believed, broke her fast and almost instantly received the news of her husband's death.

Now, this is only a part of the story, but it's long enough to understand the essence.

Modern Day adaptation :
Veeravati's husband had died because she broke the fast.
So the ladies observe this fast once every year to ensure that their husbands have a long life.
Now, this is a little far away from the real truth simply for the reason that Veeravati was penalized for breaking her fast without seeing the moon.. it might not mean that her husband would live longer if she observed it truthfully.
But then anyways, every adaptation has a little bit of distortion.
So giving it the benefit of doubt, moving on to the modern story...

Today's scene in my apartment complex :
Young ladies and old ladies egged on by their younger counterparts flocked the terrace of the building.
All decked up, smelling of extreme perfume and a pooja thali in their hands, they had forgotten that today they are going to worship the same husband that they had beaten black and blue yesterday.. well almost :)

The husband, forgetful of the past and gleefully smiling stands in front of his wife.
She takes the sieve out(this is again the tradition, that the wife sees the moon first through the sieve and then sees her husband through it.. whatever it means).

She sees the moon, then her husband, thanks God for marking the moon's attendance quickly and then drinks water thereby breaking the fast.
Now the husband is not needed.
Run back home.. that's where the food is waiting at the table.
Ah, bliss...
Hog, hog, hog and then just remember there is a husband angle too...
"Honey, awwww... didn't you start the dinner still?"
Husband : "Honey, how could I? U didn't allow me to"

To save myself from all this melodrama, I took an oath 4 years ago.
I have been observing the Karva Chauth fast with my wife.
On this day, I too stop eating and drinking water.
Once a year, it's worth an effort.
For me, it's more about showing solidarity to her cause.
If she can fast for my well being, why should I not for hers?

Moon, though, is my favourite target this day.
Last year, it just didn't show up.. and I was burning with acidity with all gastric acids playing foosball in my stomach.
That was when I threatened it with dire consequences if it repeated the same thing next year.
Today, my gamble paid off.
The moon like a good boy after summer vacations in school, turned up right on the dot.
I heaved a sigh of relief.
She broke her fast with water and I broke my fast with Eno.
The antacid mildly placated the acidity.
Then came the hogging time.
I hogged for 30 mins. She too did, to a lesser degree though.

We then had dessert and were smiling ear to ear with fat bellies!

Ah, Karva Chauths are fun if you want to have fun..
A modern adaptation of an ancient tale may necessarily not be boring.
The best part about it is it ends with good food!

Happy Karva Chauth 2010 everyone!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is ayone really good or bad?

Is anybody in this world really good or bad?
I have always believed its only the situation that makes them behave in the way they do.
But then if its only the circumstances then stars should be blamed for everything that goes wrong on our planet.

There is another hidden factor called demeanour.
Demeanour is something that is going to save you from situations when you have a slight upper hand in a conflict, it

will also make you victorious when you are the victim.

What the hell is demeanour now? Is it something which is genetic or cosmic? Or can it be acquired?
I am reminded of a line from the movie Rocket Singh :
"Every person has 2 qualities. One which will take him up and one that will take him down. Whichever one he takes, his life only becomes a manifestation of that path"

I recently had one such experience.
I was in Ekaterinburg,somewhere in Russian hinterland for official work.
I was lonely because I was kind of cut off from my world and my people.
The loneliness coupled with inclement weather, irritating rains and sub zero temperatures were a bone cracking deal for me.

The people from the client organization I worked with were not favourable either.
Few of them were good and amiable, but most of them were mocking birds.
The smallest hint of an issue and their scoffing smiles coupled with the 'looking down' behaviour killed me.
The lady 'second in command' on the other side was leading the way.
Now I really don't know if that person knew much about the work done, but every small pin drop was potrayed as a rocket launch failure.
Plus as an Indian, I was deprived of any decent food for four full days.
I only had cup noodles for lunch and some ready to eat stuff in the nights.
All these were not honeymoon conditions.
They were taking a toll, but I remembered that line in Rocket Singh.
There was one occassion when I had the 'second in command' firmly under my grip and I could have chosen to twist the neck of the opponent.
But I knew that would only make things worse. I resisted and the results started showing in 1 hour flat.
The other person realized the mistake on their part, but did not apologise. I wasn't complaining either. My point had been made.
I moved on.
The last day, the 'second in command' came to my desk and thanked me for whatever I had done. The other people who I thought were my opponents too came and we clicked pictures together.

The one that made my day was something like this :
When I was leaving the building finally, a nice sweet lady in her 20s maybe smiled at me and said 'Dasvidaniya, come again'.
I was zapped, I even did not know who she was.
On my way back I was thinking who she was. Suddenly it dawned upon me... I had gone to one person from the other organization to explain something. She was sitting by her side and doing her work.
Seeing that I was helping the first person, she asked me how to solve particular problem.
I did not pay much attention to her because I had gone to do something else.
But then I realized I can help her with her problem, it was a small thing. I did and left.
Then I fogot about her completely.
The last day she was near the door when she greeted me.

That was when I started thinking that nobody is bad or good.
Circumstances also don't make you bad or good.
The way you react to a situation is what forms a perception about you in the world.
Its not that Mahatma Gandhi never lost his temper, but he knew how to react at the opprtune time and that made his image in the world.

Smiling I came back from Ekaterinburg.
I had won because I won over my ego. Not because I defeated someone.
I won because I knew the other person realized his mistake and came to my desk to talk after the stalemate.

Everytime a person reacts, he is making an image of himself which will affect someone.
This may not be significant to him, but he either makes an enemy or a friend for life.

Come to think of it, you or anyone else in this world is just a chemical which has a finite life. After that you cease to exist.
In that short life, you can either choose to do whatever makes you happy or let go and be happy and make others happy as well.
Too much of righteousness at most times causes problems for the people around you.

The choice is to each individual to choose the quality which takes him up the ladder or the one that brings the ladder crashing.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Do dooni dus!

This week I thought there was no movie to catch up with.
On a busy Thursday afternoon, I just checked bookmyshow.com to find that Do dooni chaar was running to an empty theatre.
I immediately booked 2 tickets, praying that we are not disappointed.

Do dooni chaar is a story about the Duggal family which has a papa duggal, mama duggal, bhai duggal and behen duggal.
It's about a middle middle class family based in Delhi and how they go about their everyday chores.
Their mundane lives are also complicated by the lack of money through a salary that Papa Duggal earns as a modest and honest school teacher.

The kids in the movie, played by Archit Krishna and Aditi Vasudev are astonishingly refreshing and to the point.
At no point in the movie do you get the smell of a star studded movie.

The protagonist, Santosh Duggal, played by Rishi Kapoor, who himself was a superstar in the 70s and the 80s, is a lovable character which every normally brought up Indian can relate to.
If you were born in the eighties and were middle class, that's probably how your Dad would be!
Neetu Singh, playing Kusum Duggal was endearing and had a very earthy character which she did full justice to.
All through the film you would never feel that this woman has come back to face the camera after 30 years.

The real-life couple also extend their chemistry to this movie which lends it the soul of the movie.
Much of the movie can be relished only because it was Rishi and Neetu.
Their real life charisma also rubs off on the screen to recreate magic that one would not expect, atleast out of a small budget film like this!

Archit who plays the role of Sandeep Duggal is Rishi's son, a typical Delhiite, a guy lost in translation.
He loses his way in between and when he finally admits it in front of his family, unlike Indian cinema, his dad takes him out and does an uncharacteristic thing to bring him back on track.
Watch out for the scene where the dad-son talk happens on a road side thela eating paranthas.
That's as real as it gets. There is simplicity in the scene, yet it is so refreshing that the audience gets transported back in their lives, when their dad must've given them a lesson for doing something wrong.

The sister, Payal Duggal, played by Aditi Vasudev is a very well potrayed girl brought up in urban surroundings, but wanting to break away from the mould.
She is a typical bubbly, effervescent middle class girl who is a little ashamed of her dad's salary.
She has a boyfriend, Micky, who is a son of a gun.
But when the time comes to stick by her family, she very clandestinely supports her dad towards the climax.
She is definitely better of the two siblings when it came to the role.
For a debut role, it was a more than decent performance by her.

But, again I would say, that this is a movie meant and written for Rishi and Neetu.
The sheer chemistry between them is what makes this film work.
They share a lot of witty moments between themselves.

Do dooni chaar is a story about a very normal, very earthy, very middle class family who make their ends meet with a lot of difficulties.
Yet, what is endearing is the love that they share and the eighties feeling that most born at that time would be aware of.
It is not flashy. It is not preachy. It's just a light movie which touches your heart.
You will not come out heavy from the cinema theatre because there is no melodrama.
Yet, you will be refreshed because it is your story, my story and a story which millions of my countrymen would share.
It's like a mirror of your household in the eighties, which would bring a smile to your lips.

This movie is right what it was meant to be. A middle class story.
A Hrishikesh Mujherjee kind of film, which has a message but said very subtly without preaching.

Watch it for Rishi and Neetu.
Here I would make a comment and exercise my discretion and say that Neetu Singh is still as beautiful and graceful as she was when she quit acting at the age of 18.
Time has only brought more grace to her face and she managed to pull off a very middle class role with aplomb.
No wonder Ranbir's good looks come from his mom. Rishi was handsome too, but Ranbir is Neetu's son.
The mothers don't get more beautiful than this and he should be glad for that!

I would go with 3 out of 5 for this wonderful rendition of a common man's life.

Don't miss this movie. If nothing else, then Rishi and Neetu would make your weekend worthwhile.
Also, as an after note, do check out the way, Mr Duggal picks up the phone everytime and says :
"Hellooo, Santosh Duggal this side"!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Anjaana Anjaani and the deathly hallows

Do not judge a book by it's cover.

This is the cover :

This is vindicated in the case of Anjaana Anjaani because the book is like this :

Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra play Akash and Kiara. We'll come to them a little later on.. there's a lot more to despise!

The movie starts through a pathetically shot scene with Ranbir and his business partners planning to take up a loan to buy a dead company and Ranbir eventually losing out the loan of 12 millions dollars because the stock market crashes.
The scene is so tragically shot and the camera work is so shoddy that you think even Ramayana and Mahabharata shot in the 90s had better camera techniques.
There are unwanted rays of light escaping through the frame and dust spots on the camera lens which become glaring on the big screen.
What makes me wonder is how this passed the editing table.

So much for Siddharth Anand and his poor cinema.
He has directed duds in the past.. but with Anjaana Anjaani he leaps past the limits of moronity and low calibre movie making abilities that he has defined for himself.

Coming back to the opening scene, there is a friend of Ranbir Kapoor, played by a small time actor Vishal Malhotra.
Now, i don't know why but I think Vishal Malhotra should take off his shoes and hurl them at Siddharth Anand.
Both the shoes... ah yes, one by one.
The poor guy has only one scene in the movie in which he is made to act like he is some harassed bahu from the torturous Star Plus soaps.
Don't forget to check out the first scene of the movie where he accuses Ranbir of losing everything out.
There is so much melodrama in the first scene that you are thankful at the end of it that Vishal Malhotra's body didn't burst out of his uncalled for emotions.

Ranbir and Priyanka both meet for the first time on a bridge where they want to commit suicide.
Initially, when you are not in the know of things, you are intrigued by the situation, but slowly it dawns upon you that both of them lost the golden opportunity to end their lives and end the torture of the audience as well.

In a sequence of supposedly comic events which fails to strike a chord with any intelligent movie goer, they attempt suicide through childish sounding attempts many times. But each time they are not successful.
The unbelievably stupid Priyanka Chopra likens this to destiny which she thinks has other plans for them.
Sadly their destiny was Siddharth Anand and his plans for them were nothing close to grand.

Priyanka had had a cheating partner for which she was heart broken and wanted to commit suicide.
What I also fail to understand is, that this fact is brought to the audience in bits and pieces unlike Ranbir's grouse.
Priyanka's stupid story of her partner's deceit only comes through at the interval.
Now, the bonanza.. her partner was played by the lamb-looking Zayed Khan.
I have always maintained that if any of Fardeen & Zayed Khan are even a stray character in your film, then the film has to pay.
It did royally in this case too, Zayed as usual looked lost and ugly.
His pock marked & expressionless face does not evoke any sympathy either when he apologises.

Anjaana Anjaani gets so predictable and repetitively boring that at times I just felt I should doze off.
But the thought that I have to drive back home after the show kept me awake.
The dialogues are cliched and so long.. that sometimes I shot.. "Ok guys.. done.. go ahead.. next dialogue please"

The humour is so regressive and low IQ child like, it did not make me smile even once during the 2 and half hour duration of the movie.
Scenes like Ranbir and Priyanka in Atlantic ocean with Ranbir's boxers floating around will make people pee on Siddharth Anand.

Anjaana Anjaani is a movie shot in exotic locales apparently in the most picturesque locations of the US.
But my dear Siddhartha baby.. all these have been done to death zillions of times in Yashraj films when you were a kid.
The whole movie looks like an infomercial for 'Cox and Kings' or 'Raj Travels' who are publicizing their US tourist packages.

The losers, Ranbir and Priyanka are supposed to be penniless, but they visit a nightclub almost every night, wear flashy dresses & zip around the geography of US in a gas guzzling Cadillac.
Siddhartha baby must've borrowed the money from Nadiadwala uncle's grandson to pay for their free trips.

Priyanka Chopra definitely has got something wrong with her lips.
Siddhartha baby's cameraman too was obsessed with extreme closeups which did not help Priyanka either.
I know swollen upper lips are a turn on for many in this world, but Priyanka's looked bee-stung.
Plus the extreme closeups also showed that she hadn't got her upper lips done.
Now, I am not picking on her.. but if your lips cover 35 mm of the 70 mm... tongues will wag.
Piggy chops.. you gotta be present at the editing table next time.

Ranbir, the poor guy, the fall guy in this sense.. is also to be blamed.
He made the only decent attempt to salvage the movie... but he should be blamed for accepting this movie after a superlative performance in Raajneeti.
Ranbir tries hard, but one champion sailor cannot save a sinking ship, just like Sachin Tendulkar alone cannot save India.

There is one thing about Ranbir Kapoor which I did not know earlier, but gathered from the extreme closeups from this movie.
In one scene where he scares Priyanka up from her sleep, his fingernails and tips occupy 60mm of the 70mm on platter.
He also bites his nails and fingers like me. Quite an 'ewwww' habit I must say.. but I do it too... so I felt for him :)
Ranbir, the shining star.. you rocked in whatever little scope this pathetic movie could give you.

All the best and a belated happy birthday.

I would go with a 1 out of 5 for Anjaana Anjaani.
0.5 for the exponentially brilliant "Naina laggeya baarishan" and 0.5 for Ranbir showing his bitten fingernails and tips :)

PS : Don't forget to check out the coast guard persons who save the 2 losers a couple of times in this movie.
The old man looks like the dad of a meat shop owner from India.
And the writing on the boat says : "US Coast guard".

I also thank Siddharth Anand for reaffirming the faith of the world in not judging a book by its cover.
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