Wednesday, 19 December 2012

I refuse to be a victim!

So once again a brutal rape has left the country and its capital enraged. There are protest, marches and discussions in the assembly. And as I write this post I receive an e-mail which says, "Sign the petition to tell the President to stop rape NOW!"

Now, I am sure that the honorary President of India has never raped or even thought of doing something like that. So how do I tell him to stop something which he never started in the first place. I have signed many such petitions and to be honest I have never seen any change. A sign will not change the mindset of the rapist because he hasn't been a rapist all his life. It's that one moment of madness that turns him into an animal, at that very moment he forgets all the reason and logic. He forgets that the person in front of him is not just a walking talking vagina but in fact is a human. And if you keep that in mind every man is a potential rapist.

I know I will be called a feminist, a man hater for making this statement but I honestly believe that every man is a potential rapist. Some men have successfully suppressed the ferocious animal in them and some are still trying. Most of them haven't tried at all hence we hear about rapes so often. If you do not believe me try walking on a road full of men, out of 15 12 will stare at you or rather your boobs and at least 5 will walk close to you so that their hand brushes against some part of your body. And these are not uneducated, rowdy men, they are well dressed family guys working in a corporate house, raping you with just their eyes.

So how do we tell them to stop raping us? We sign petitions, hold protests, tweet incessantly about how sad this whole situation is and then we go back to our business as the news die down? No, we won't do the same old bullshit this time. This time we will decide to fight it on our own. We will carry our protection with us in a form of a sharp object. And we'll attack the oppressor where it'll hurt him the most. Yes, I mean physically.

Let's plan a direct attack where every woman protects herself. Let's stop rape. Let's refuse to be a victim!

Monday, 10 December 2012


I am writing this note sitting beside a lake in Bhandardara, a sleepy Hamlet set in the midst of Sahyadri mountains in Maharashtra. It's so quiet in here that I can hear the sound of silence, the sound of wind passing through the branches, the sound of birds, the sound of oar (chappu) cutting through the water; I can hear all that. The continuous traffic snarls and construction sounds have not made my ears insensitive yet. I can listen to the sound of life.

I am sitting here away from the busy city, away from Bombay, away from the world of chaos, the world of FB and Twitter to make sure that somebody else's thoughts do not fog my mind.

I am sitting here listening to myself, listening to the sound of crickets, listening to the silence of the night.

I am sitting here looking at the single light bulb glowing in the distance, throwing its reflection on the shimmering lake.

I am sitting here in a boat in the middle of the lake, looking at the Sun rising behind a hill.

I am sitting here looking at the village slowly waking up and rising while I do nothing

I am sitting here in a tiny village thinking, why can't we take some time out from our daily life and do nothing. No site seeing, no games, no TV and no books; just nothing.

I am sitting here, thinking, scribbling on my notepad and doing nothing.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Jaane Bhi (mat) Do Yaaro

A month and a half before the 1983s cult classic was re-released by PVR, I laid my hands over Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, the book written by Jai Arjun Singh. And, as I've said before the only thing as interesting as watching movies is to read about them. So, I bought the book to read about what went behind making this classic and I found out that Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is a labour of love, passion and a lot of madness.

As I was reading the book the re-release was announced and it only made sense that I watch it, again but this time on a bigger screen. And I am writing this post just after watching the film, the madness, the satire and the message which is still as relevant as it was back then. This post is not a review. It's about my experiences with the film clubbed with a little trivia from Jai Arjun Singh's book. I would like to thank him for writing it and taking me closer to the film I've loved and lived.

I don't exactly remember how old I was when I first watched Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, around 10-11 maybe. Not too old to understand the darkness of it but old enough to understand that there was something more behind that laughter and insanity. Growing up watching my dad's plays (he is a theatre actor and director in Gorakhpur) helped in a way to develop that kind of understanding. I remember when I watched the last scene I asked my dad if Sudhir and Vinod died. His explanation was that it's just metaphorical, to explain in one scene that "phansta common man he hai." I wasn't too convinced and was taken aback by the sinister hand movement of slitting throat. It was a direct, in your face statement telling us that this is the reality. The laughter and comedy is just a mask. Dad wanted an ending inspired by this for a play he was directing called  'Wey Hi'. As I remember the play, he managed to do that pretty well.

Then came a time when the film was watched multiple times and some of the dialogues became a part of our conversations. We still say "shant gadadhari Bheem shant" when someone is worked up or "CIA, humko bahar tak chod aiye" when we are seeing each other off. "Adharmi, paapi, bhrashtachari, durachari, bol sorry!" is our favourite line to abuse. According to Satish Kaushik who wrote the dialogues, the most loved Mahabharat scene was the easiest to write. A trip to a road-side comic vendor was all it took for them to figure out a befitting scene to conclude the madness.

Surprisingly, Kundan Shah didn't imagine the final product the way we see it now. A lot of scenes that were close to his heart were mercilessly chopped off. Reason was that it needed to be shorter than 2 hours 25 minutes to reduce the taxation. A little known fact that Anupam Kher too was a part of the film took me by surprise when I read the book. He played a mad Disco Killer and was envied by everyone for bagging the craziest role. But the whole footage was chopped off to shorten the length of the film. Sadly, there's no record of Anupam Kher's first ever film since the footage was lost. Imagine if we had that character in the movie it could've beaten Crime Master Gogo in creating that genre of villains. There are more such scenes which were edited out much to Kundan Shah and Ranjit Kapoor's (co writer) grief.

A couple of scenes were inspired from Kundan Shah's real life experiences one of them was the whole satire built around 'gutter'. In today's time of Aquaguard and Kent Water Purifier we might not understand the irony behind the dialogue, "America mein gutter ka pani alag aur peene ka pani alag" but it was and still is the reality for many people who still get drinking water as bad as the water in their sewers.

Kundan Shah is honest in accepting that Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro could've been much better but with the limitations they had it's hard to do even now what he and his team did back then. Their were a lot of patchworks to hide the continuity disasters and shooting mishaps. And still we know that a better movie in this genre has not been made again.
The madness is only enhanced by the brilliant actors who despite thinking that whatever was happening was insane kept playing along. While shooting 'Albert Pinto' scene Naseeruddin Shah thought that two people standing in the same room and talking over phone with each other was plain stupid but he still enacted the scene with full conviction. Every actor added his/her two bits in the character and made it his own. Om Puri's exaggerated Punjabi accent, dead DeMello's changing expressions according to what's happening in the scene, Pankaj Kapoor's dead pan and sinister Tarneja and to top it all Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Vaswani's innocence and buffoonery was par excellence.

A film like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro can not be made again and that is why we go and watch it in theatres 30 years after it was first released; cheering, clapping and mouthing the dialogues along the scenes, "aisi sati ki jai ho...jai ho!"

Saturday, 3 November 2012

The Bankster - Book Review

It's very complex to write a novel with one main plot woven with many sub plots. Because of this very complexity there are chances of the writer going completely wrong. Despite a strong main story the novel can crumble if the sub plots are not in sync with the main one. Somehow, this is the case with Ravi Subramanian's The Bankster which looks good in the beginning but gets too confusing trying to include or rather comment on too many issues.

Greater Boston Global Bank is a well known bank with high level of trust and ambitious employees. But the bank's reputation is threatened  when a series of murders happen. A couple of employees are killed to hide a secret that could threaten the whole world. Karan Panjabi, a banker turned journalist steps in to investigate these murders and finds out that the scam is bigger than they thought.

The story begins with the trading of blood diamond in Angola and soon drifts away to banking in Mumbai. Nothing much happens even after 1/3rd of the book is over and the author tends to get too descriptive about things as small as functioning of an iPad. These unnecessary descriptions slow the pace of the story. Jumping in and out of the main plot also causes distraction and stops the flow. Too many characters and not even a single well defined one is another reason why the book fails to impress. In an attempt to tell too many stories the writer forgets that connecting the readers to characters is also an aspect of writing. A couple of key characters remain neglected and you cringe when they turn out to be really important in the end.

There is an effort to squeeze in issues like illegal trading of blood diamond, corruption in banking, money laundering, nuclear power and arms dealing. Out of all the author does maximum justice to banking since it's his home turf.

The end is treated like those investigative TV series where the whole case is solved sitting in a room and talking on the phone. As far as the suspense is concerned it's there and have been protected well and you really want to know what happens in the end only if too many stories don't hinder the flow.

The Bankster is a mish-mash of many issues. I think it's too early to call Ravi Subramanian 'John Grisham of banking'.

Book: The Bankster
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Publisher: Rupa
Price: Rs 250
Pages: 358

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Yeh qutiyapa kyun?

For the past few days I am reading/listening about all the shit being vomited out by worthless  ministers or members of this self proclaimed Goverment called Khap. And everytime I read about it my head starts questioning...yeh kya qutiyapa hai? (yes, I am trying to replace a bad word with a more popular similar sounding word so that my post does not get censored).

I want to get inside the brains of the people who get ideas like "chowmein causes rape" or "women shouldn't be allowed mobile phones". They are God's wonderful creations and should be assessed thoroughly. But on a serious note I really want to find out their motive behind these statements. Are they so afraid of women empowerment? Women getting out of the house and demanding an equal position makes them so insecure that they use the only tool they can on them? Their penises, however small or peanut sized they are? I guess the answer to that would be a unanimous yes. So what will happen if women will stand equal to men? If they decide how the world, the society works?

I recently watched a French film and would like to quote a dialogue from it, "God created this world and wanted to share it with someone hence he created Eve. God and Eve had a son Adam. God forbade him to come close to Eve but caught them red handed one day. That day his trust from humanity ended and he abandoned them. So, woman was God's original creation, the first being. Man was just an accident." Yes, we have been hearing the twisted version of the story which men have modified to suit their needs. The need to be superior, the need to rule the world.

Now coming back to my previous question, if women decide how society will work, the world will be a much better place. Less egos, less wars and lesser problems which I am sure we'll be able to solve without much blood shed. I expect a lot of sexist jokes as comment but I am open to them.

So if the world can be a better place toh yeh qutiyapa kyun?

Monday, 22 October 2012

JFK - Book Review

According to me the biggest challenge for an investigative novelist is to keep the readers' curiosity going while sticking to the plot. 

Jhangir Kerawala's JFK starts on an interesting note with back to back murders happening on the streets of Kolkata. Two people are shot dead with the same gun but are completely unrelated to each other; Ram Prasad Yadav, an old man from UP and Manish, an honest man with a loving family and a fulfilling job. Manish's best friend Jatin gets involved in the investigation to find out the truth behind these murders. What he comes across is shocking and inhuman.

While the story in interesting it's the writing that goes haywire and loses its grip. Their are one too many twists like a Bollywood film or you can say a typical Abbas-Mastan genre. The writer tries to put in too many shocks but fails a couple of times. He begins a subplot and ends it abruptly without taking it to its proper conclusion.

The good part is the honesty of the story and the characterization. Neither there's any glitter or gloss thrown in to create a make-belief world nor the writer tries to play on the rural and poor India too much. The problem is that he tries to comment on a lot of issues and ends up making JFK a mish-mash of Hindi movies+western crime thrillers. Given that JFK is Jhangir Kerawala's debut book I hope that the next one will be better than this.

Book: JFK
Author: Jhangir Kerawala
Publisher: Westland BooksPrice: Pages: 225

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Love, Peace & Happiness: Book Review

Before starting this review I want to thank Blogadda for inspiring me to start writing book reviews. I was sold on the idea of getting free books to read and review them on my blog. Initially it was a bit of a challenge to finish the book in 7 days (one has to finish the book and post the review within 7 days) but after the first two I got used to it. Within a span of 7 months I have reviewed 4 books for Blogadda and will continue doing so.

Coming back to the review, I received a comment on my latest review of The Krishna Key. It was posted by the Author of Love, Peace & Happiness, Rituraj Verma who liked my blog and wanted me to review his creation. Quite flattered I was more than happy to do it.

Love, Peace & Happiness: What more can you want? is a compilation of 9 short stories by Rituraj Verma. The special touch to these stories comes in the form of alternate endings on the web. Every story has two or more endings on the website. While it could be tedious to go on the web every time you finish the story it is a great idea nevertheless. And, if you don't agree with those endings either post your own and they'll feature in the next print. Great way of keeping the readers engaged, isn't it?

The stories mostly revolve around the young/middle aged urbanites, their lives, struggles, dilemmas and relationships. The same characters keep moving in and out of all the stories. Writing keeps you engaged but at times is slow and drags a bit.

My personal favourites are

A high, like heaven; Story of Ashish and Sneha who are on a vacation to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. While Sneha is upset with Ashish's indifference, he is not sure if he loves Sneha and if marriage is such a good idea.

The soul mate theorist; Story of a middle aged divorcee who could not decide whether to commit to a prostitute or not.

The pursuit of perfection; A married man obsessed with the flawless beauty of an actress which drives him crazy and on the verge of killing.

These stories have a slight darker edge to them and I liked the bright as well as dark endings. If not the best among what is available, Love, Peace & Happiness is a good coffee table book and is worth a try for its novel idea.

Book: Love, Peace & Happiness: What more can you want?
Author: Rituraj Verma
Publisher: Jufic Books
Price: Rs 145
Pages: 223

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Krishna Key: Book Review

The challenge of reviewing a thriller book is to not give out the plot and still let readers know that you enjoyed it to the core. The Krishna Key is one of those books that put you through that challenge which I bravely accept.

Last month I picked up Ashwin Sanghi's Chanakya's Chants and was quite impressed by his writing style. I was keen on reading more from this author when Blogadda came out with his new book to review.

The Krishna Key starts as a thriller and murder mystery and progresses towards a more philosophical end. A young guy who grows up to believe that he is Vishnu's 10th Avatar aka Kalki Avatar commits murders in order to find Krishna's hidden secret. Does that secret exist? Does the Krishna key lead to a hidden treasure? A treasure that has the power to create or to destroy? The answers are there in the book; drawing a thin line between truth and fiction, History and mythology.

Sanghi also delves into a lot of philosophies that question what God is? Is he a super power or an energy that just changes form? The same questions trouble Archaeologist Varshney and his Historian friend Saini who along with his student Priya goes on a quest to find answers. To get to the secret he has to beat the cruel murderer Tarak Vakil and escape the sharp cop Radhika Singh.

At times the book might get a little overwhelming with the mentions of Vedas, Upnishads, shlokas and ancient mathematics. This leads to re-reading the same para a couple of times. But at the same time its fascinating to know the amount of research that has been put into the writing of this book.

The plot is multi-layered and the pace takes its natural course as you keep reading it. The Krishna Key is definitely worthy of your shelf space and is a good answer to Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code.

Book: The Krishna Key
Author: Ashwin Sanghi
Publisher: Westland
Price: Rs 250
Pages: 464

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Kitnay Aadmi Thay: Book Review

The only thing as good as watching films is reading about them.

I let loose the movie buff in me when I registered to review Kitnay Aadmi Thay on Blogadda. The 'completely useless Bollywood trivia' as the tagline says, is written by Diptakirti Chaudhury who is a salesman when he is not watching, talking or writing about films.

The book starts with a chapter focused on the opening credits right from the 70s and 80s era to the current trends. Only a keen viewing and deep research can result into a wonderful chapter like this. Rest of the book unfolds like a movie plot with chapters like '10 movies to have not been made', '11 Legendary confrontations' etc. Apart from being a list the chapters also contain some known and unknown trivia. You tend to smirk when there's a mention of your favourite film/scene in a list. I couldn't stop either when the 'football with sharbat-e-jannat glasses' scene from Andaz Apna Apna appeared in 'Beyond the boundary - 10 sports'.

There are some lists surprise you at the very end. The 'Baap of all lists' talks about all the filmy fathers and gives a one line mention to the baap of them all in the end, 'rishtey mein to hum tumhare baap hote hain...'. Even a non Amitabh Bachchan fan can feel the aura of the man and the power he has over the film-goers. Or Comissioner De Mello popping up in 'Christian Brothers'.

The 'Killer Kaun' quiz excites you and you curse yourself for not getting the answers right.

The humour stays intact and sometimes will have you in splits. Of course I do not agree with all the lists and would like to have my own additions but then the author agrees that "the book is incomplete... I can assure you its more fun this way". I had fun picking out some errors though like Sanjana and Kareena Kapoor are not cousins but aunt and neice (can give myself a little pat on the back).

But like a true blue Hindi picture 'all's well that ends well' and the book ends on a fantastic note (you have to read it to know what I am talking about).

The End I Samaapt I Khatm

Book: Kitnay Aadmi Thay
Author: Diptakirti Choudhury
Publisher: Westland
Price: Rs 275
Pages: 301

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The (not so) Amazing Spiderman

It was tough to recreate what Toby Mcguire created with Spiderman 1, 2 and 3. Still, just one successful film old Andrew Garfield took on the challenge. Expectations were built; The Amazing Spiderman in 3d, a Spiderman movie with a difference and then there was Irrfan Khan too who has recently become Hollywood's latest discovery in Bollywood and every Indian's new fav actor... especially after the super duper successful Paan Singh Tomar. Our Indian hearts were pounding with excitement to see an Indian actor as a full fledged main villain in a big budget, mainstream Hollywood flick (I am out of breath at this point).

But like all the over blown bubbles, this too burst. All the banter about 3d was just an eyewash. There were a total of 5 scenes with 3d effect and those too were computer generated scenes. Irrfan Khan had all of 3 scenes and his character was unceremoniously dropped in the middle of the film. So much for the big Hollywood dream.

The story is bad and the patchy editing makes it worse. Every time there's a hope of something big happening it's ruthlessly shattered by the bad direction and unnecessary romantic scenes. Sure, they got rid of emotionally vulnerable Mary Jane Watson and replaced her with smart Gwen. I Blinked twice and a romance between the two was already wasting time there. The story is so linear that it gets boring after a point. Looser Parker gets power, shows off a bit, wins the girl, clumsily fights the baddie and defeats him without much effort.

If the producers are planning a sequel I'd hope they come out with something extraordinary to make us forget this disaster. And those who haven't seen it yet please save yourself for The Dark Knight Rises.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Gangs of Wasseypur – Movie Review

Director: Anurag Kashyap

Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Richa Chadda, Piyush Mishra, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Huma Qureshi

Rating: Keh ke le li

Films invoke different emotions in the audience. Gangs Of Wasseypur invokes disgust with its gore and I say what’s wrong with that? It can't be kabhi khushi and kabhi gham all the time. Despite that feeling that it arises in you GoW is very commercial with all the masala intact; there's violence, there’s love, there’s sex and there’s music. And last I heard these very ingredients make a commercial film.

From the very first scene Anurag Kashyap establishes what the audience should expect and then he goes ahead and does the unexpected. It’s no fast paced thriller where people are chasing each other on horses and jeeps. It’s more of a game of chess, they all are facing each other and making their moves.

The story spans from generations when Shahid Khan, a dacoit who was ousted from Wasseypur by the Qureshi's and eventually killed by Ramadhir Singh, a coal mine owner turned politician. Shahid's son Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) grows up with a single point agenda which is to avenge his father. He starts destroying Ramadhir Singh’s (Tigmanshu Dhulia) empire and building his own and is helped by his two sidekicks Farhan (brilliantly underplayed by Piyush Mishra) and Asgar (Jameel Khan). In the process he also marries Nagma (fiery Richa Chadda) and is seduced by Durga’s (Reema Sen) sensual bare back which has more expressions than her face.

The story is a bit complex but Piyush Mishra’s narration makes it easy while you can concentrate on the characters and the dialogues. Especially when there are gems like; “Soongh ke batao mantriji nasta mein ka khaye hain?” “Joroo ka mar.” There is humour in the most horrific of scenes which will have the audience letting out a nervous laugh. A very Tarantino inspired style of film making. There are hints of inspirations from Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese too. The romantic angle of Sardar’s two sons Danish and Faizal (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) makes for funny moments in the second half especially where Faizal tries to hold Mohsina’s (Huma Qureshi) hand and gets blasted in return. Bihar, as a backdrop provides for the use of colourful language and if you don’t go all red at the mention of a cuss word you’ll enjoy it thoroughly.

Anurag has craftily incorporated music in all the bloodshed without disturbing the pace of the film. The title track ‘Teri keh ke loonga’ plays in the background in most parts. The visuals of ‘Bhoos ke dher mein rai ka daana’ might remind you of ‘kaun kisi ko baandh saka hai’ from Kaalia only difference is that it’s less heroic and more rustic. The Chutney music (contemporary fusion of genres created by Indo-Caribbean people whose ancestors were from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and the South Indian area around Madras) inspired ‘I am a hunter’ sounds great on an mp3 player but the video is a bit of a downer. The highly awaited ‘Jiya ho Bihar ke lala’ sung by Manoj Tiwari comes in the end and at a time when you won’t expect it at all. Giving too many details might ruin the fun of watching it so I’ll stay shut.

Our Sardar Khan is no hero with high moral values. He’s bad and he takes pride in it. He kills like a skilful artist and doesn’t blink while doing it. There couldn’t have been a better role for Manoj Bajpayee to come back with a bang. Tigmanshu Dhulia is controlled and plays the badass minister with an air of comfort around him. Nawazuddin has taken a back step in this one but I can’t wait for the second part to see him as the full blasted gang lord. The highlight of the acting department is Richa Chadda and over powers even Manoj Bajpayee in certain scenes. We’ve already seen a glimpse of her acting prowess in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye but she’s a powerhouse in GoW.

Gangs of Wasseypur Part I is just an entrée, the main course is yet to come.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Why Shanghai is an excellent film?

I won't say that its Dibaker Bannerjee's best work cause he created his masterpiece when he made Khosla Ka Ghosla; a film which according to me is a complete film making school in itself. But I would definitely say that Shanghai is superior than any other so called brilliant movies made this year. If you follow my blog you'll know which film I am talking about here.

Shanghai is brilliant because it is not pretentious, doesn't exaggerate and does not try to entertain people. Its predictable and still has a shock value but this shock doesn't come with a bang...its subtle. It has a slow pace but there's something new happening in every scene. Dibaker doesn't take forever to establish a character or a situation which results into a tight script. The dots are not connected for the audience. If you still don't understand what happened in the end you seriously are living in a bubble.

Performances are worth all the applauds and kudos to Dibaker for introducing us Hindi speaking janta to an actor like Prosenjit. Abhay Deol deserves multiple awards for playing a South Indian (Tam-Brahm to be precise) with such subtlety never seen before in Hindi cinema. Thank you Mr. Bannerjee for not playing on the stereotypes set by the industry. And, not to forget thanks for digging out an actor from a guy who has been used and abused as a 'serial kisser' repeatedly. Although helped by a lot of props and makeup yet Emraan Hashmi did well to show the world that he ought to be taken seriously.

Shanghai is a good lesson for Prakash Jha on how to make a realistic film on politics and for Sujoy Ghosh on how to leave certain things unsaid.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Devotion of Suspect X: Book Review


I am not a fan of crime thrillers and since I've read Dan Brown's novels I've become wary of picking one randomly. So when Blogadda announced their this week's book for review, it took me a while before signing up for it. 

The Devotion of Suspect X is a crime mystery written by the award winning author Keigo Higashino who is also the President of Mystery Writers of Japan. 

The crisp whodunit plot is like a game of Chess where two masterminds; a mathematician extraordinaire and a physicist cum unofficial detective play their moves and constantly keep outdoing each other. The writer gives clues throughout the story but its only in the end that the reader is able to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Yasuko lives a modest life with her daughter Misato in a Tokyo suburb and works in a lunch shop. She has completely let go off her past life as a nightclub hostess in order to escape her blackmailing ex husband Togashi. But her comfortable life is shattered when Togashi turns up in her apartment and ends up dead. Yasuko's neighbour Ishigami who is a mathematical genius comes to her rescue and out of his admiration for her helps her in covering up the crime. He uses is logical brain to mislead the police and asks the mother daughter to keep following his instructions.

He creates a perfect trap to deceive detective Kusanagi who is investigating the case. The hiccup in Ishigami's plan comes in the form of an old classmate and brilliant physicist Yukawa who also is a friend of the detective. Yukawa starts his personal investigation trying to solve the problem that Ishigami's mathematician mind has created.

Why does Ishigami who is devoid of all the emotions has such a devotion towards Yasuko that he goes to the extent of risking his own life? Why does he create a scenario where all the paths lead to Yasuko suspecting her of the murder? And above all, what is more difficult; to create an unsolvable problem or to solve it? The story got me asking many such questions and the answers to all of them lie in the last few pages.

The Devotion of Suspect X is a great one sitting read and did keep me interested till I flipped the last page.

Book : The Devotion Of Suspect X
Author: Keigo Higashino 
Publisher: Hachette India
Price: 350/-
Pages: 374

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Friday, 6 April 2012

Kahaani - A mother of loopholes

Now that almost everyone has seen Kahaani and sung praises for the film I can take the liberty of pointing out the loopholes in the movie. No, I am not acting like a Hollywood loving snob here whom no Hindi movie can please. I liked Kahaani because it maintains the suspense till the end, has filmed Kolkata beautifully and above all has given us Bob Biswas. But despite the good things I couldn't ignore those mistakes that stood there, in my face, asking to be noticed.

Caution: There are spoilers so please don't read if you haven't seen the film, yet.

My first issue with the movie; why is there a need to show Vidya Bagchi's history? I am sure a lot of people would agree with that. Why doesn't the movie ends with a mysterious air around her character? Sujoy Ghosh could've given clues in the movie and let the audience find out her true identity. The flashback in the end is a complete killjoy.

The ex IB chief who has trained Milan Damjee, trains Vidya just in a year or two. The Ninja like moves that she makes in the end does not look like a work of two years' training. My logic is, why did Sujoy Ghosh show Vidya as the wife of the slain IB agent. She could've been an agent who was secretly being trained by Darshan Zariwala's character. No one learns to be a spy in a year.

In the scenes where Vidya is alone in her room, why is she still sporting that fake belly? I am sure that it wasn't convenient to carry it around and the super spy wouldn't mind putting it away for a while. Sujoy should have just shot her neck up.

Rana who is with Vidya like a shadow all the time doesn't even for a moment doubts her, accepted. But suddenly at the end he has a happy realization that she was using them to get to Milan Damjee. Rana's cute face made me ignore his folly for a while but then again, a folly is a folly.

When Khan sees Arnab Bagchi's resemblance to Milan Damjee why isn't he alarmed? Why doesn't he do a background check on Vidya? After all, she would've been married to Milan. Why aren't even Milan and his people interested to know why is she carrying his photo? Probably every one is too sure that he is just a look alike.

Spies don't randomly go on a killing spree. They won't kill a person until he is completely useless. Here a mastermind like Milan and the IB chief are not interested in getting the information out. They just killed Agnes for no reason at all. Was she that big a threat?

When the current IB chief is himself involved with the terrorists why does he himself go to Zariwala's house to pursuit him to join back? I am sure he didn't want him to. It could've just been a brief conversation over the phone.

I am sure that the counter to all these points would be 'don't think too much, just watch the movie.' But if I have to leave the logic at home why should I go and watch Kahaani instead of a Housefull 2? Think about it.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Urban Shots: Book Review

They say that don't judge a book by its cover but you might hesitate to pick Urban Shots going by the cover. A pretty girl in red with sleepy eyes posing for the cover definitely repels me. The book landed in my hands courtesy when I registered for their book review program (well, who doesn't like free books?). I am generally a slow reader but the challenge was to finish the book and review it within 7 days. So my journeys from home to work and vice versa were dedicated to Urban Shots: a collection of 31 love stories by 27 authors.

Written by amateur writers and bloggers the book gives a feeling of reading a blog. All the stories talk about love and its meaning in the urban life. The stories thankfully are not tear soaked tales (except few) of boy meets girl. They are more mature here and don't always have a happy ending.

The first two stories 'Written In the Stars' by R. Chandrasekhar and 'Rishta' by Ahmed Faiyaz didn't give me any hint of love in the urban life. Rather, they focused more on the small town sensibilities.

I am not a fan of regular love stories per say so Kailash Srinivasan's a little off beat 'High Time' humored me especially because of its South Indian stereotypes. It is about a Tamil mother looking for a suitable match for her son, her bickerings, excitement of seeing the girl and inhibitions after finding out that the girl is no miss goody two shoes. '32 B' by Varsha Suman had an undertone of lust and was an entertaining read.

'Pause,Rewind,Play' by Shoma Narayanan and 'Twisted' by Lipi Mehta focus on Gay love, both in a way question the acceptance of homosexuality in India.

'Beyond reasonable Doubts' written by Sneh Thakur (who is also the editor of this book) is a mature take on extra marital affair and a couple drifting apart. Most urban couple who lead a busy life can relate to the story. The last one from the collection 'Sleepless By Night' is about a man dealing with his girlfriend's death. written by Mona Ramavat, this story is a good pick to sum up the book.

Rest of the stories didn't excite me much. The flimsy editing in few of them does disrupt your flow. If not  a great read it is a decent coffee table book and you can pick it up if you are sucker for love and wouldn't mind an occasional light reading.

Book : Urban Shots – The Love Collection
Editor : Sneh Thakur
Publisher: Grey Oak/ Westland
Price: 199/-
Pages: 226

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Bombay Duck is a Fish: Book Review

My recent liking for Indian authors took me to the 'Indian Fiction' section in Crossword. I picked up the book 'Bombay Duck is a Fish' by Kanika Dhillon hoping to read some crazy stories about the city I've lived in and experienced since past 7 years.

To wrap up the plot in few words, its the story of an aspiring filmmaker Neki Brar who comes to Mumbai; "the city of dreams" and lands a job as an assistant to a famous choreographer turned director (no prizes for guessing who she is). Despite of finding the right kick to start her career she keeps running into troubles. The book is about all that Bollywood is infamous for; bloated egos, sleaze, wicked co-workers etc. And a not-so-subtle mention of Shahrukh Khan whom she (the thin line between the author and the character is smudged here) obviously idolizes.

When we first meet our heroine Neki she is sitting on her terrace, wine bottle in hand. While contemplating suicide she flicks the pages of her diary where she has documented all the accidents of her life. As we continue we find out that our aspirant director left a lucrative job to follow her dreams but the problem here is that I didn't understand her motivation. She looks star struck from the very first day and is already kissing (or rather being kissed by) the hot supporting actor Ranbeer Khanna within the first week of her job.

As per her diary she is hated by her co-workers because of the yellow shoes that she wore on the day of her interview. Now, I know that film industry is full of shallow people but I have yet to meet people who'll judge you from your shoes, that too good shoes.

She has moved to Mumbai for the love of it but makes a fuss when a colleague (who also has a crush on her) takes her on a tour. Her life in Mumbai revolves between the studio, Ranbeer Khanna's van and Ranbeer Khanna's house, resulting in pregnancy and attempted suicide. In short, Neki looks shallow to me and never for a single moment gains my sympathy.

The film industry that Kanika has created in the book is a tale that parents tell their children to scare them off from the unimaginable path. If you are an aspirant filmmaker, film writer or actor don't let your folks lay hand on this one. However, in this hell hole where everyone is ready to bite the only people with a heart of gold are either the extras or Shahrukh Khan and the super successful director.

'Bombay Duck is a Fish' indeed but a sukkha bombil with not enough meat.

Book: Bombay Duck Is A Fish
Author: Kanika Dhillon
Publisher: Westland
Price: 195/-
Pages: 317

Friday, 2 March 2012

Paan Singh Tomar: Movie Review

this article was first published on burrp!
Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Mahie Gill, Zakir Hussain, Nawazuddin

Rating: ***

There was a time when actors like Sunil Dutt made dacoits glamorous. Their larger than life characters had a heart of gold underneath the tough bodies. The time changed and ferocious Gabbar Singh took over. The almost animal like daaku terrorized Ramgarh for the longest time. Years later Jageera in China Gate attempted a Gabbar Singh but ended up being nothing more than a mockery. Shekhar Kapoor helped shed the glam quotient with his true-to-life depiction of The Bandit Queen.

With the latest release in the same genre director Tigmanshu Dhulia (Haasil fame ) has taken Kapoor’s legacy further and told us an unheard story.

Paan Singh Tomar joined the army in the 1950s. He hailed from Chambal and according to him the dacoits are actually good people who turned rebels. In his own words, “beehad mein baagi hote hain, dacait toh Parliament mein hote hain”. Afraid of his rebellious instinct and seeing his exceptional running abilities his seniors shift him to the sports department. He runs for the country till he plans to take a voluntary retirement to take care of his kheti.

Rest of the film is a transition of an Army Subedar to a national level athlete and finally a dreaded name in the valleys of Chambal. What triggers this transition is the cunning cousin who wants to take over his land, destroys his crop and tries to kill his family. The police and the system offer no help leaving him with no choice than to take the matters in his own hands. The man who was denied the opportunity to fight in the war (because he was a sportsperson) picks up the gun for revenge.  The rebel in him who is suppressed comes out in the second half of the film. Paan Singh is no Robinhood, he kills for revenge and kidnaps for money.

The film also throws a light on the poor conditions of our national level athletes, the unsung heroes who died an unknown death.

Irrfan Khan is Tigmanshu Dhulia’s lucky charm. He was a thunderbolt in Haasil and is nothing less than that in this one. All those who have seen him grow from Banegi Apni Baat should be extremely proud. His Paan Singh Tomar commands respect and makes you sympathize with him just through his expressive eyes. Nawazuddin appears in a small role but after his critically acclaimed role in Peepli Live this one doesn’t do justice to his acting abilities.

What makes this film special is Tigmanshu Dhulia’s love for the raw appeal. He inspires you to look beneath the polished layer. His characters, locations and language are crude. He does not try to refine them for your viewing pleasure.

Paan Singh Tomar with all its shortcomings (read stretched second half, off sync dubbing, occasional dramatic dialogues) is a film that should be watched mostly for Irrfan Khan and also for its story.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Artist - Movie Review

This article was first published on burrp!

Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman
burrp! Says: ****1/2

When was the last time you watched a movie in the theatres that had the good old title cards, was black and white and silent. Let me guess, never? Book your tickets for The Artist first thing.

George Valentin is a silent movie star of the 1920s; the time when a perfect smirk and a stylish walk was enough to win over hearts. While George rules Hollywood, the talkies slowly creep in and he finds himself unfit for this new wave of cinema. He makes his own silent movie which falls flat on its face against the talking film. The sun sets on his career as he goes broke and further into oblivion. The current reigning star Peppy Miller, with whom Valentin once had a fling keeps a watch on him and tries to help him out.

In times when a film has various dimensions, making one without dialogues is a risk. But for Michel Hazanavicius, the risk is well taken and puts him instantly in the bigger league (read Oscar nomination). Despite the lack of voice and colors, the story and its treatment keep the audience thoroughly interested. The scene where Peppy seduces Valentin’s tux by putting her arm in it is imagination at its best.

The build up towards the climax keeps the audience at the edge of their seat and that is when you realize the beauty of silence. Full marks to the art director for recreating the flawless classic era. The soundtrack is continuous and in perfect sync with the emotions on screen.

Jean Dujardin is stellar as George Valentin with his mid parted hair, trimmed moustache and charming smile. It seems he has traveled in time, straight from the 20s to act in this film. His chemistry with his pet dog is funny and endearing at the same time. Berenice Bejo portrays the bubbly Peppy Miller and keeps the character true to its name.

Although there are various movies based on the rise and fall of an artist but what’s special about The Artist is its treatment making it worthy of all the acclaim.

Moneyball - Movie Review

This article was first published on burrp!

Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jonah Hill
burrp! Says: ****

Unconventional, that’s how the truth is. And when you don’t meddle with the facts you make a film like Moneyball.

Upset at Oakland A’s defeat by New York Yankees, the General Manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) tries to put together a new team. Oakland being the poorest club of all, the biggest challenge for him is the financial constraint. He hires Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), an Economics graduate from Yale who has radical ideas on how to assess players based on their statistics. Through the computer-generated analysis Beane and Brand put together a team for 2002 season.

After initial hiccups the team goes on a winning streak with 20 games in a row making a record. But unlike most of the underdog stories this one doesn’t end with a major win. Oakland A’s loses the finishing game but Beane changes the game by creating a successful team with the least resources.While it’s inspiring to see the hero winning, the realistic end keeps the film grounded.

Moneyball is based on true events and is more about the statistics of Baseball rather than the real game itself. It will keep you hooked whether or not you are a fan of the game. If Baseball is not one of your favorites relate it to any other game you like and the story will fit right in.

Six years after his acclaimed film Capote, Bennett Miller has once again churned out a masterpiece. Brad Pitt makes most of the film a one-man-show running it on his strong shoulders.

With numerous Oscar nominations (including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor) already up its sleeve, Moneyball is worth losing few bucks this weekend.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

I dare!

We all have our fears, most of us conquer theirs' while the rest just learn to live with them. I belonged to the latter group (until recently). I vowed never to as-much-as going close to taking on my biggest fear; the fear of height.

I have always been fattu when it comes to going on roller coaster rides (yes, that include Giant Wheel too). The whole point of hanging in the middle of the air scares me to death and I can feel my guts coming out through my mouth when the wheel descends. On my visit to Essel World I witnessed only 3 rides, one of them being the flimsy Bhoot Bangla or whatever they call it. Given to my plight the more adventurous sports like para-sailing and paragliding have always been a far cry while bungee jumping doesn't even stand a chance.

So, on my recent trip to Goa when the whole group decided to go for water rides I conveniently opted out of the para-sailing part. While one by one all my friends took their turn and came back beaming with joy I shivered in my seat still stuck to my decision of not trying it out. Suddenly everyone in the group decided to pump energy in me and motivate me to try it once. I declined, panicked, held my stomach but no amount of drama could deter them. While I was reasoning with them, the harness was thrust on me and I was being pulled towards the edge of the boat, dialogue from the movie Rangeela looping in my head 'life mein daring karna mangta, daring!' I shut my eyes tight and let time take its course. A minute passed, I opened my eyes and looked around. I was already in the air, sailing over the beautiful ocean, looking at the sprawling Calangute beach. That was my moment of enchantment.


I don't know whether I'll take the next step and try paragliding or sit on those crazy roller coaster rides but I can proudly say that I dared to fight my fear for once. And, it felt great.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Chaalis Chauraasi Movie Review

this review was first published on burrp!
Director: Hriday Shetty
Starring: Naseeruddin Shah, Kay Kay Menon, Atul Kulkarni, Ravi Kishan, Zakir Hussain
Burrp! says: **
Look closely at the cast of the movie. Does it attract you? Call you to the theatres? Yes! Victim no 1 is none other than me. And now I am looking for Hriday Shetty with pain in my heart and questions in my head. How can you get away with committing such a crime? How can you cast Naseeruddin Shah, Kay Kay Menon and Atul Kulkarni in an excuse for a film?
Moving on to the story, a professor turned wife-murderer turned driver (Naseeruddin Shah), a pimp (Atul Kulkarni), a drug peddler (Ravi Kishan ) and a car thief (Kay Kay Menon) hatch a plan to steal money from a gang that supplies fake currency notes. They dress up as cops, steal a police van and are headed to Kalyan for the big night when a real cop stops them. The second half is as the song suggests, ‘a crazy night, a hell of a ride.’
The script that looks good on paper turns into a disaster on screen. At certain points it reminds you of ‘Ek Chalis Ki Last Local’ but the direction isn’t as crisp and edgy. The flashbacks are craftily created to throw item numbers at an unsuspecting audience. The first one hits you within 10 minutes in to the movie and by the time the third one arrives you’ve already sunken low in your seats. However, there are some funny lines in between and for the rest of the film you are laughing because it does not make any sense at all. The climax does remind you of the crazy laugh riot ‘Pineapple Express’ only that it’s badly done. The leading men walking in slow motion like ‘Reservoir Dogs’ has been repeated till you finally scream, “Move it faster, dude!”
The director/producer tried creating a buzz by getting the 90s Pakistani popstar Hassan Jahangir to sing his then hit ‘Hawa Hawa’. My one suggestion to such creative geniuses; please let that music stay in that era. It’s good the way it is, don’t kill its essence with those stupid remixes.
Coming to the cast; the director managed to get the cream of the industry but as they say, wild cats don’t work in packs and these actors definitely are the tigers. We’d rather watch them separately in different movies than all of them getting together and making a mockery of themselves. While we loved Naseer Sir spoofing the 80s heroes in ‘Ooh la la’ (The Dirty Picture) we definitely didn’t like the site of him gyrating hips on a ‘Munni’ like number. Kay Kay plays the street smart car thief with as much ease as he plays a cop or a military person. Atul Kulkarni looks odd in funky t-shirts and dyed hair and the discomfort reflects in the performance as well. Ravi Kishan is decent and flexes his muscle too many times probably to shift focus from his jiggling belly.
To sum it up, Chalis Chaurasi is a bad product packaged well. I recommend you watch The Dirty Picture, Gulaal and Natarang back to back if the star cast of this movie lures you.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Inko (Abbas-Mustan) buddhi do bhagwan!

Film: Players
Director: Abbas-Mustan
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu, Sonam Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Bobby Deol, Sikander Kher, Omi Vaidya, Vinod Khanna
Rating: It's so bad that it's good!

I haven't realy understood their (Abbas-Mustan's) motivation behind making this movie or any other as for that matter. Let's get into the whole process;

The Burmawala Bros. have money and they have no idea what to do with it. So, they plan to make a movie. Story is not their concern at all since their are many, piled up in a video library. They take out their check list which goes like:

  • Story from a Hollywood action thriller - Check
  • Innumerable twists - Check
  • Macho hero - Check
  • A side hero who'll die - Check
  • Bipasha Basu's hot number - Check
  • A love triangle or sometimes quadrangle - Check
  • Inane dialogues - Check
  • Pritam's music - Check
  • A car chase - Check
  • A not so slick desi style dhishoom-dhishoom - Check
  • Johny Lever - Check
  • White clothes - Check
Going by these ingredients Players is a perfect film. It insults your intellect to the point that you are left with no other option but to enjoy it. The story goes like this; Charlie a CA who also is a smooth criminal steals necklaces from big stores and talks about the robberies in a most profound manner. He plans to steal the gold that's been taken to Romania from Russia in a train. He gets a team of the best players with the help of his guru Victor Dada (an old and tired Vinod Khanna). So Charlie gets a Bipasha; a motor expert who can seduce the living hell out of any thing that moves, Sikander Kher; a bomb expert who is deaf, Omi Vaidya; a prosthetic expert with the weird 3 Idiots' accent and Bobby Deol; an illusionist with broody expressions. The only player that's left is the 'best hacker of the world' Spider (Neil Nitin Mukesh) whom no one can trace. Well, not really cos he is traced by Sonam Kapoor who incidentally is Victor's daughter and an ethical hacker. They execute the robbery and are double crossed by Neil who tries to kill them all. Post interval the rest of them form a team against Spidey and take the revenge.

Now, logic doesn't play much role here. A robbery timed for 10 minutes time stretches itself to 15 good minutes. The Russian general is seduced by Bipasha and dances on 'mera joota hai japani' with his pants off. Strangely he doesn't find anything odd the next day when he wakes up from his unconsciousness. The most absurd part comes where Johny Lever, a car mechanic creates cars from the stolen gold within half an hour. If only Tata could hire a guy like that their production will increase 10 folds.

Acting department completely relies on Neil's shoulders and he impresses with his mean act. He has a potential to fill the void in Hindi films created after villians like Amrish Puri and Gulshan Grover. Abhishek Bachchan looks...well...ugly. While Bipasha looks hot even in drabs, Sonam Kapoor tries hard to match up with her. Her seduction dance for Neil Nitin looks more of a mockery. 

The film is an insult even to the masala genre. If you still want to watch it I recommend you go with cynics who would laugh at every scene and make you forget that its an 'action thriller'.


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