Saturday, 25 April 2009

Movies Seen: Pan's Labyrinth, Head On

Pan's Labyrinth

A 2006 Spanish film directed by Guillermo del Toro (the Hellboy movies).

Graphic - not a kid's movie. Doesn't have a happy ending either.

Head On

A 2004 German film directed by Fatih Akin.


Friday, 24 April 2009

Fake IPL Player Blog

Fake IPL Player blog could be a demonstration of Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point theories. It's a phenomenon that's garnered too many followers in too short a time. Here are reports from Techtree, Rediff, the Guardian, and msn.

Cricket with Balls, King Cricket and indiatimes all have a series of posts on the subject, as do numerous bloggers.

And here's the Knight Rider's response.

And the latest from Yahoo is that he/she's now vanished.


Thursday, 23 April 2009

Movies Seen Recently: Central Station, Layer Cake

Two highly recommendable movies.

Central Station (1998)

Along the lines of an emotional epic. A young boy whose mother has just died is reluctantly taken in by a middle aged woman who writes letters for illiterate people at a railway station. Written and directed by Walter Salles.

Layer Cake (2004)

A gangster film along the lines of Snatch, with the main protagonist, played by Daniel Craig, playing off various elements against each other. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Highly entertaining.


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

It could have been worse

This Saturday began well. For starters, I woke late after a late Friday night. Then I spent the morning and afternoon relaxing. The tiresome part began when I left home in the early evening to go to PV's place to catch the second IPL match, but made a detour to the office first to mail some docs to myself that I had forgotten to do on Friday.

This took longer than expected, what with traffic in Bandra being real mean. I had to walk halfway to the office just to save time. And walked back all the way to the station when I was done. Went to Dadar and found PV's place at Five Gardens quite easily, and was treated to Dhansak for dinner, along with a long walk around Five Gardens.

Returned to see the Royals get crushed badly by the Challengers. Didn't stay for the end but left, walking to Dadar station. I was surprised at how tried I was on the train ride home. I was nodding off on the train and couldn't concentrate on my book. All I wanted to do was to get home as quickly as possible and get some sleep.

My rickshaw was quick enough, but on reaching LIC colony, we saw an overturned rickshaw in the middle of the street blocking all traffic. We were the second ones on the spot. A car had stopped by on the other side and a guy had already got out and was turning the rickshaw over. I felt a bit queasy as I could see a foot jutting out from under the overturned vehicle as we got closer, and I realised it probably belonged to the rickshaw driver. I didn't know if he was crushed or dead.

By the time I got out of my rick and had walked up to the overturned rick, the guy from the car was already righting it. I walked round to the other side, where the victim lay, and noticed two things simultaneously - that there had been no passengers in the rick, and that the driver was alive and not too badly hurt. There was a bid of blood on the ground, and he did have a few ugly bruises and scrapes on the knee and arm, but he seemed O.K otherwise. He was badly shaken up though. He looked like he was in shock or something. While the guy from the other car helped him to his feet, my rickshaw driver and I moved his rick to the side of the road and helped the driver into our rickshaw. I told my driver to take the injured driver to a hospital, paid him, and walked the rest of the way home.

Had a quick shower and went to bed. Feel asleep almost a soon as my head hit the pillow. Haven't fallen asleep so quickly in ages. Haven't been this tired in ages.


Monday, 20 April 2009

Movies Seen Recently: Persepolis, Throne of Blood

Two enjoyable movies below:

Persepolis (2007)

A coming-of-age animated movie about Marjane Satrapi's early life in Iran and Europe, based on her graphic novel. Highly recommended.

Throne of Blood (1957)

Another Kurosawa film. Based on Shakespeare's Macbeth.


Saturday, 18 April 2009

Closing Day

Last day at the office yesterday - I won't be back there for almost two months. I felt a bit uncomfortable and scared yesterday before leaving - I always get nervous about stuff like this. I feel like I'm going to miss something important, or some crisis is going to crop up that I should be present to handle.

Anyway, I managed to finish a lot of last minute handover tasks, not that there were that many in the first place, which is on of the reasons I'm going on sabbatical. I then left with four other guys from the office for Janta, where we ate and drank ourselves silly.

Ah Janta, where cheap alcohol rules. Pity that I was straddled with three guys who just had to try the fancy schmancy expensive Copenhagen beer, which jacked up our bill price. Still, I used this opportunity to indulge in a little whisky tasting. Had 30 ml each of Signature, McDowell's, RC, and DSP. Nice. Real nice. And incredibly affordable.

We kept snacking simultaneously of course. Had the Chicken Crunchy (very good), Surmai Fry (just O.K for me - we make better fish at home), Prawn Chilly Fry (very good, but could do with more prawns and less chilly), and Reshmi Tikka (simply amazing). And finally ended with a Dal Khichdi and Chicken Biryani (both average). On member of our team left midway, and we watched another get quite drunk on some Smirnoff. We managed to get to the station in one piece at 12.30, me sharing a seat with the rickshaw driver on the way there.


Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Movies seen recently: Heat, The Man who knew too Much

Heat (1995)

Directed by Michael Mann. An intense violent police vs criminal film.

The Man who knew too Much (1934)

The original Hitchcock film. He remade this one 22 years later. Not as good as the remake. 


Sunday, 12 April 2009

Book Read: Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

12 dark fictional stories
from the master of Magical Realism, written over the course of 18 years, mostly about strange things happening to Latin Americans travelling abroad. Other adjectives I could use are haunting & surreal.

My favourite story would have to the the first one in the book - Bon Voyage, Mr. President - about an ambulance driver who discovers his country's deposed president in a hospital abroad, and supports him. 

I found it a bit hard to wrap my head around most of the others. Magical Realism is used very liberally in this book, whose major theme seems to be displacement.


Friday, 10 April 2009

Movies seen recently: Babel, Amores Perros

Saw a couple of movies directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and written by Guillermo Arriaga recently:

Both movies are similarly structured, with different stories and characters weaving along in a parallel manner, occasionally criss-crossing each other, with one overriding theme connecting them always. While the main theme behind Amores Perros is love, in Babel it's communication.

While the movies and their themes look good on paper, most of what I took away from the experience was the shock value brought about by their graphic content. Is the graphic content supposed to dull or enhance the movies' messages? I'm guessing enhancement, an attempt at reinforcing the movie's message.

On the other hand, lets just say I wanted to use graphic content to grab eyeballs. If I was a director, I'd want to get people's attention and enhance my movie's entertainment value, though not at the cost of the movie's quality itself, so graphic content in this movie might be just an exercise in restraint on the movie maker's part as well.


Monday, 6 April 2009

Late Night Laughs - Walking on Broken Das starring Vir Das

Went to see Vir Das's Walking on Broken Das by Ashwin Gidwani Productions last night at the St. Andrew's auditorium. A true laugh riot. The guy's routine consisted mostly of observational humour, focussing on gender differences, urban lifestyles and relationships, though he did take occasional digs at famous personalities.

As I walked through the main gates of St Andrew's college yesterday evening, the first thing I saw was the huge line at the audi ticket counter just inside to the left. It seems a lot of people indulge in last minute tension-filled ticket buying, though I can't imagine why. Why don't they just call and have the tickets home delivered, or do what I did and have a local douchebag acquaintance pick them up? Suckers! And the only tickets they got that late would probably be the Rs.500 ones, if they got any at all. I'm 300 bucks up on you, losers!

TP hadn't arrived yet, so I walked to the main stairs leading up to the first floor audi lobby. I noticed for the first time the number of dressed down women around. One of the few beneficial side effects of the Mumbai summer. But still, I haven't seen so many scantily clad women at a show before, and I've been to many shows, including ones in summer, and wasn't used to it. I began wondering why this might be. Not that I was complaining.

It took me a second or two to figure out that the reason for this occurrence and the reason for my surprise at this occurrence could be traced back to the same reason i.e almost all the shows I'd been to till date at the Andrew's audi or the NCPA had all been classical music performances, which aren't typically privy to large collections of slutty looking women. In fact, audiences at these events usually comprise old people, either gray haired or bald, constantly and excessively coughing and wheezing, and
wrapped in multiple shawls in 25 degree temperatures. This would also explain my being conditioned to seeing only fossils at theatres instead of hot women. Not that I'm complaining.

Mystery solved just in time as TP showed up just then, and we got into our usual mode of riddling and getting one up on each other. The show's beginning was announced with the toll of a bell soon after we took our seats, and I suddenly got a craving for dinner, though I know not why.

Vir Das didn't come in first though. Sorabh Pant (good enough to get his own show), followed by Vir's alter egos Ravi Darshan (one liners by a piano playing mystic) and Sara Samadhan (riddles by a granny), all did ten minute sets, with a not very funny but not too bad Power Point presentation guiding the audience in between and keeping them reasonably amused.

Vir then began his hour long observational comedy routine, starting with a few jokes about the irritating side effects of his growing fame, following this up with digs at Slumdog Millionaire, Himesh Reshammiya, pelvic thrusts, people from Bandra, man's best friend, differences between Indian men and women vis a vis dance, why we won't see an Indian James Bond, Salman Khan's boobs, then turning to relationships and life, all the while taking digs at celebrities and members of the audience, and finally ending with a song with his piano playing partner from his band Alien Chutney.

The ads promoted Walking on Broken Das as being edgy, using the phrase 'Tempers will be lost, lines will be crossed', yet it seemed the opposite - inoffensive - in my opinion. Vir kept the cursing to a minimum and didn't even go near religion or politics. A lot of his humour seemed derived from current popular media phenomena, and observations on life and love.

I kept trying to think what it must be like to be in his shoes, to face hundreds of people you can barely see, tuning your mind to pick up any audio cues that will decide your routine's direction, the fear you might feel about forgetting your next joke or where you want to take your set based on your audience's response, the constant level of alertness you have to maintain. It's not just performing, telling a bunch of jokes, it's maintaining a relationship with your audience while trying to second guess them.

I don't think I stopped laughing throughout the one and a half hour I was there. Great workout if you ask me. I was sweating with the effort, which could also be attributed to the organisers being nice enough to keep the audi hot during the act - we wouldn't want the women to cover up now, would we?


Sunday, 5 April 2009

Movies seen recently: LA Confidential, Carnages

L.A Confidential

A 1997 Curtis Hanson movie. This would have been just another typical two-unlikely-would-be-partners-team-up-to-solve-a-case, if it wasn't for Kevin Spacey being cast as the go between, the intermediary, between Russell Crowe's and Guy Pearce's almost black and white characters. Wanted to see it again as soon as I finished watching it, which is a good sign.


Reminds me of a lot of dumb Spanish & Mexican movies I've seen. A common factor connects various unrelated people and stories.

In this case, a bull is killed. It's cut up and its parts are shipped to various locations across Europe. The criss-crossing stories of the people whose lives these parts come into make up the movie.

Not worth the time spent watching it. I actually saw this last year and it was one of the reasons that led to me create a Movie Watching Guide.


Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Heavy Workload

The past two weeks have been harsh, workwise. After negligible amounts of work during Jan, Feb and half of March, the floodgates opened and left me with enough work to keep me happy and satisfied for the past two weeks, the work being end of the fiscal year stuff - like appraisals and last minute training booking. And so I've been working. Why can't it always be like this, with me feeling productive as opposed to feeling useless?

Also, today is April 1st, a date that immediately takes my mind back to a trip to Salalah that I went on during this time nine years ago. Hope to go back there someday.