Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Revenge of the Tasteless: The Himesh Movie

Aap Ka Surroor...The Moviee...The Real Luv Story is a hit. And I was trying to understand why.

I guess this movie is a hit because it finally breaks all pretensions. No pretension to acting, no pretension to having a story, no pretension to good music, no pretension to logic - even the character is named after the leading man! This is the ultimate self referential movie. This movie is not hypocritical at all. It never even wants to rise to the level of art. IT does not care whether it should be called cinema or even have a plot. It is a WYSWYG movie in totality - a movie made by Himesh for his fans who want to watch Himesh - good, bad, or ugly.

Look at the people who feel justified by this movie. Talentless hacks with huge egos, people with quirky sartorial tastes, paedophiles who eye pubescent girls, supporters of the indiscriminate use of the Hindu mantras, autorickshawalas who dream of banging into expensive cars in rage, bald men wearing caps - all are going to be inspired by this movie, and that's a significant percentage of the population!

From the fans perspective, this is the Revenge of the Tasteless. Too long have they been looked down upon by the more articulate, the intelligent, the snobbish for their lowbrow tastes in music and idols. Too long have they suffered that inferiority complex just because they could not appreciate serious movies or Gulzar's lyrics, or classical music. This is their breakthrough. Himesh has proven to them that lowbrow is acceptable, it is prevalent, it is en vogue, and of course, it is now also desirable! Not only should people accept their stupidity, they should revel in it, be proud of it, and propagate it!

Himesh stands for everything they want to have and, for a change, possibly can have! For if a guy like Himesh can make it big, so can they. When a Hrithik or an Abhishek makes it big, their personalities, skills, physicality, pedigrees are too far above the normal person to even aspire to that level. But Himesh, if he can become a hero and a famous singer with that voice and those looks, then so can the average shopkeeper. No actor currently can claim to be so close to the average Rakesh, Kamlesh, Mahesh, or Durgesh, than Himesh!

I guess the hoi polloi has spoken. And truly, who among us doesn't have that sneaking admiration for Himesh for having pulled this audacious stunt off? Everyone thought he couldn't, but for him. And he proved everyone wrong. You have to admire that, even if you don't admire the product. Even if you lament the likely effect - more sequels, more singing, more Himesh.

Scurry for cover, all ye with taste. Your days are done.

PS: To read a great review, go to Greatbong's blog.

Cross posted on my other blog - India Cynical

Monday, June 11, 2007

Coach Conundrum

Well, it seems all Graham Ford wanted was to visit India for a couple of days and feel needed a bit; and maybe a hug as well. He has turned down the most high profile and risky job in the world of sports - coach of the Indian team!!!

Let's try and examine the possible reasons:

1. It was too hot - Truth be told, this was not exactly the ideal time to be visiting India for an interview. The weather might have convinced him that the cooler climes of Kent were vastly preferable to the boiling boondocks of Bombay.

2. He remembered Woolmer just in time - Maybe someone wanted to gift him a bottle of champagne after he was confirmed. Always a bad idea, especially since the Woolmer champagne incident. He probably began to have visions of being carried out on a subcontinental stretcher!

3. He felt bad for Emburey - As was reported, after being rejected, Emburey drowned his sorrows in drink the the hotel bar. Maybe there they met, and Emburey poured his heart out to Ford. How he needed the job, how his 8 children were going to starve otherwise, how his wife really wanted to get that natural tan in India....Ford is, by all accounts a people person. Maybe he couldn't take the guilt.

4. He saw the Indian team practice - That would demoralize the best of men, watching this team running, fielding, batting, and bowling. Can't blame him for thinking that this job would not only be Herculean, but Sisyphean as well.

5. He saw Dravid captain - That would be a deal breaker for any coach, actually, except for Greg Chappell, who was fine because he got to captain the team by proxy himself. Ford being a back room boy, might have balked at being another Daddy to Dravid.

Okay, so what now? There are a few options that BCCI would be comfortable with. These are given in order of BCCI preference:

Coach Options

Option 1: Get Ravi Shastri to coach through the TV
- This is very viable and Ravi will have no qualms doing that. After all he can run down to the pavilion and coach the team every alternate 30 mins when he is off his commentary time. BCCI already think he's a winner because he was team "manager" during the wildly successful tour of Bangladesh! And Shastri can be counted upon never to let ethics get in the way of a little coaching on the side.

Option 2: Ask Gavaskar to just appoint coach himself
- After all Gavaskar has given his opinion on everything so far. The only thing he will not do is take any responsibility himself. However, before we condemn him for that, we must remember that he has taken tremendous responsibility in criticizing whatever others have been saying or doing.

Option 3: Appoint Mohinder Amarnath coach - What a refreshing change it will be to get back to the halcyon days of cricket - where there were no computers, bowling machines, or technology to intrude on the simple pleasures of playing cricket. Mohinder will show how a team can be coached only with the help of a small Indian flag.

Option 4: Appoint John Emburey as coach - Well, we have rejected Dav Whatmore, and Ford's rejected us. That leaves only one foreigner in the fray - the lucky loser Emburey! With Gavaskar's support (bet even Gavaskar didn't see this one coming), he could well be a great stop gap coach for the next three years. Looked at it one way, he doesn't have much to lose. He can't be worse than Chappell (no one can), and expectations will be rock bottom anyway, so whatever he does will be accepted with equanimity.

Option 5 - Appoint Sandeep Patil coach - Naah, forget it. Scratch that option. He's only coached Kenya to the WC semis, and he's has coaching practice and credentials, but c'mon, a) he's Indian, and b) he's never solicited for the job either to the BCCI or to famous senior players. Who the f*** does he think he is anyway?



It seems Emburey has rejected the position as well. Maybe he wasn't comfortable accepting charity from a fellow Englishman. That kind of reduces our options a bit doesn't it? But no fear. Greatbong has the perfect solution!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Politics of "Articulate"

Poor Joe Biden has got himself into trouble by praising Barack Obama. You might well ask, how can someone get into trouble by praising another person? Well that happens in PC America. His mistake? He called Obama "articulate", and the shit hit the fan. Evidently the word is racist when used for Blacks. I didn't know that, and I bet neither did Biden, but there it is. The liberal left and the African American intelligentsia is outraged. The NYT has some astoundingly spluttering, enraged reactions...

Now this really irritates me. How does one know which word is offensive to a certain section of society? Should this just be a hit or miss? Maybe oppressed minorities all over the world should come out with a list of words and contexts in which they are offensive. And remember, even if you take care not to praise a Black person in case he/she finds it condescending, there is no guarantee that others will not. Take this quote in the same article:

"But here is a pointer. Do not use it as the primary attribute of note for a black person if you would not use it for a similarly talented, skilled or eloquent white person. Do not make it an outsized distinction for Brown University’s president, Ruth Simmons, if you would not for the University of Michigan’s president, Mary Sue Coleman. Do not make it the sole basis for your praise of the actor Forest Whitaker if it would never cross your mind to utter it about the expressive Peter O’Toole."

Hmm...okay, but what about other non-balanced contexts? Can I use the word for Mary Sue Coleman, if I don't use it for Lawrence Summers? Or will she then consider it offensive because I used it for a woman and not a man?

What if I use it for Paris Hilton instead of Susan Sarandon. Will Paris be offended because she is part of the mentally retarded minority? Hahahaha...okay the last sentence was a joke. I wonder who would call Paris Hilton articulate? Lindsey Lohan perhaps.

Anyway, coming back to the original point, it's probably time that minority stop scrutinizing each and every comment, or statement, or word through the prism of racism and just sometimes give speakers the benefit of the doubt. Remember the human vocabulary, especially English is really not enough to convey our thoughts completely ad sometimes we use words because there are no immediate alternatives in our minds. The intentions needen't be racist all the time. And neither are words. A word like "articulate" is in no way comparable to, say, the N word because "articulate" is used universally.

Let us not vilify and marginalize a word just because of perceived connotations. We have already done the same with "gay" and "come". Let's not put "articulate" in the same category.

Our vocabulary is limited as it is.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Things I Did that Make Me Cringe Now

Have you ever done something makes you cringe when you think about that now? You know, stuff that makes you go - "I can't believe I actually liked that novel!" or "How could I ever watch that movie 4 times?" No? Well I have few skeletons like that in my closet - things that makes me want to jump off a cliff in shame when I think about them now. Let's talk about a few, but please, please don't judge me... Heh

1) I used to love Yash Chopra Movies. There. I've said it. There was a time when I thought Yash Chopra was the greatest director in Bollywood. I had his filmography memorized. I loved Silsila, Kabhi Kabhi, Chandni, Lamhe, Darr, all of them. I loved the mushy romance, and the white sarees. I thought even Sridevi looked good in Chandni. I loved the songs. Arrrghhh!

I know. The malaise was deep and dangerous. I grew out of that only by the end of my graduation days. Luckily. Now I trash the films like the best of them. Yay!

2) I used to think Shah Rukh was a great actor. This started in school. I know. Simply inexcusable. But what to do? We were all such great fans of Fauji, that we wanted to see him in anything. I watched Circus avidly. I even watched Doosra Kewal. Ah, I bet you don't remember that one. And what about Idiot, based on Doestoevsky? He was there in all of them.

And then, after an expectant lull, came Deewana, his debut film! As he banged his head against the wall (literally) and croaked, "Maa, mujhe Kajal de de maaaaa..", we were transported! What an intense actor! What passion! It took us a while to realize that we would be watching variations of that scene again, and again, and some more, for the next 10 years, interspersed with the other expression, the dimpled smile.

It took Aamir Khan to teach me what acting was.

PS: But I still feel that the only movie in which SRK acted "Aamiresque" was Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, his best till date. Conversely, Aamir acted like SRK in a movie called Mela. Strictly avoid.

3) I used to like Ravi Shastri. This is simply too much, I agree. But in my defense, I was a sensitive child. I used to feel for the guy. He was booed all the time, in every match, in every venue without fail. I used to feel sorry for him. But there was no effect on him at all! Then he captained India in one match, and we won that. A 100% record. How about that? I used to argue that we missed a fine captain, much to the amusement of my uncles and other relatives. My one moment of vindication was the Champion of Champions trophy, where he bowled us to victory and got that dratted car.

As wisdom grew, and adulthood happened, and I got to hear more and more from him on ESPN etc, I realized what a disaster India had averted. I also began to more smpathetic to the wisdom of crowds. To his credit, he does not exhibit any shame at all, either when putting his hand on women's thighs on the Shaz and Waz Show, exhorting batsmen to bat fast (hahaha), defending Sachin Tendulkar come what may, or when trashing Sourav Ganguly come what may. He is, as always, a consistent idiot.

4) I thought baggy pants were cool. How I used to envy the classmate who wore the baggiest trousers while I was wearing straight cuts. Sigh. In retrospect, thank goodness for my granny's rationality, who simply refused to buy me one.

5) I supported VP Singh. This, I am truly, madly, deeply ashamed of. These were school days, when we had suddenly started thinking what with Bofors and all, Rajiv Gandhi was ruining the nation. VP Singh, the clean, uncorrupt crusader was going to be the messiah. We wore VP buttons to school, and when the elections came, I actually cast a false vote (being underage) against the Congress, just to make VP win.

We know what happened later. Mandal, Devi Lal. Unmitigated disaster. That incident shook me up so much that I have never voted again in my life, and has coloured my impressions of politicians irrevocably. Not just me. An entire generation of idealistic youngsters like me have been traumatised by their misguided support for this slimy, populist son of many fathers. VP Singh, you snake. I hope you rot in hell. And I hope you get there soon!!!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Someone asked to make blogging regularly my new year resolution. Easier said, and even more easily done - the resolution, I mean. Sticking to it is like giving up smoking - I haven't been very successful in either.

Let's see. I will be in the US for a month starting 15th. Maybe away from the vissicitudes of Bombay life, I will get more time to update my blog. Or am I consoling myself?