Ideamarked Jan2012: Daler Mehndi Meets RajniPower On The January Funnies!

The first month of this year is over! The weather has turned, giving Mumbai a rare winter and a chance to bring out our scarves & jackets. I’ve blogged slightly less and had fewer written pieces to show. But that’s because a lot of my work has been behind the scenes. I’m really hoping these will bear fruit later this year. I’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime, here’s what I was looking at through January. Curiously, they’re all humour:
  • I’d call this “Who you are on the London tube by your sun sign”: ‘Tube Zodiac‘ (via Sensorcaine)
  • The 10 Most Common Awkward Moments On Elevators‘: A hilarious video on elevator etiquette. (via Cracked)
  • When White Guys Listen To Daler Mehndi‘: Watch the guy in yellow shorts during ‘Tunak
  • Daler Mehndi

    Image by bravesheng via Flickr

    tunak tunak tarara’. With perfect lip sync, mind! (via Youtube, link courtesy Ashwini Mishra)

  • How To Look Like Shit‘ – Put this under ‘Humour’ and under ‘Style’. Poking fun at our own worries should never go out of fashion. (via Jezebel)
  • If some of the most surfed sites were online dating profiles, what would you do with them? ‘Would You Date This Domain Name?‘ (via the ever hilarious Thought Catalog)
  • All About Rajni‘: A website that runs only when you switch off the internet! No kidding, it runs on Rajni power! (via the irrepressible Desimartini, link courtesy Jason Menezes)
  • The Tam Brahm Chart Of Progressive Food Tolerance‘: A funny look at food tolerance from the motherland. (via Tambrahm Rage, link courtesy @Suchitra Sukumar)
  • The 6 Stupidest Things We Use to Judge People We Don’t Know‘ (via Cracked)
  • I want to print & laminate this and put it up at my desk on certain days: ‘I’m Taking A Sad Day‘ (via Thought Catalog)
  • This blog got featured in the media once, with DNA carrying my ‘Bandra Is No Longer Queen Of The Suburbs’ story on their Around The Blog section.

You can catch the links as they come in and even post your own to The Idea-smithy Facebook Page.

Ideamarked Nov2011: Window Gardens, Bookstores, PS3 & Kolaveri Di

I’ve always loved November. Diwali festivities, vacations to look forward to…as I’ve gotten older, I find the end of the year packing up. The weather is crisper, even in hot & humid Mumbai. Everyone starts to let their hair down and spends more time thinking about parties, picnics & get-togethers than work. The world takes a break next month & November is all about the planning and anticipation of just that.

It’s been a packed and enjoyable November for me. I attended the NH7 festival in Pune, in its second year. A story on women bloggers featured me in a prominent way. For the few of you who remember my long-winded adventure with NovelRace, I finally managed to complete it! Whether this ever comes out or not, I can now die happy knowing that I did write a full novel. :-)

On that cheery note, here’s this month’s links. As you can see, there was a lot of link-love going around too!

  • DewarsIndia’s channel features music travelogues across India. (on Youtube, link courtesy Sangita Bhargavi)
  • Simi’s new show: India’s most botoxed, banal & brainless‘: Of course, I agree. (via FirstPost, link courtesy Lakshmi Shesadri)
  • MasterChef India: Guaranteed to cure you of any desire to cook‘: Sadly, I’m having to agree. MasterChef India has a long way to go before it can be in the same league as MasterChef Australia. (via FirstPost)
  • Window gardening for the urban-dweller longing for a touch of green – ‘Growing Organic Fruits & Vegetables at Home‘ (via Earthoholics, link courtesy Vishal Gadkari)
  • ‘Worklish’ is a way to cover up how much one doesn’t know. They why is it that we who don’t speak it, are left out in the cold?: ‘Buzzwords at office driving you crazy? 6 ways to cope‘ (via Huffington Post)
  • If your interest in astrology, tarot, dream interpretation & the predictive arts extends beyond mere curiosity, you should definitely visit Magick. The store  is currently looking for fulltime apprentices to initiate into the Wicca tradition. (via Swati Prakash)
  • If you ever wondered why the people you follow, don’t follow you back, here are some possible answers: ‘The Top 10 Reasons I Will Not Follow You On Twitter‘ (via Mashable)
  • Reviews, recipes and workshops, you have to stop by Tulleeho if you have a love of the drink.
  • India as the Indians see it – non PC humour (on Facebook, link courtesy Shweta Madan)
  • ‘5 Tips To Help You Decide How Much Of You Should Show Up On The Blog‘ (via SharingWithWriters)
  • Hail the motherland of idlis, software dreams & kitschy Kollywood songs! This month’s music craze – Kolaveri Di (via Youtube)
  • A 5-yr old post that’ll still interest Mumbai’s booklovers: ‘A Bibliophile’s Guide To Mumbai‘ (via The Idea-smithy)
  • A lovely gift from blogger to blogger – ‘It’s Not Just A Car‘ 55 word story by Manuscrypts!
  • Kitab Khana, a bookstore recommendation courtesy Anuradha Shankar.
  • A little thought on liking and love (via Slices of Time, link courtesy Rehab Chougle)
  • MICHEAL: PS3 Long Live Play‘: A fun advertisement for gamers (via Youtube, link courtesy Ashwini Mishra)

* Catch these links as they happen on The Idea-smithy Facebook Page. You can also post an interesting link of your own to the page and get featured on the Ideamarked post at the end of the month!

OverPunjification Of Pop Media Is Why My Kolaveri, Di!

A kitschy Tanglish song has caught everyone’s fancy today. Kolaveri di has practically no Tamil words except those (translated to ‘desire to murder’). Everything else is English words in that characteristic Southern accent. The song isn’t any funnier or catchier than dozens of such that Kollywood and their bretheren have been spewing out in the past few years. Remember ‘Columbus, Columbus, vittachu leave’ from Jeans? Or ‘Mustafa, Mustafa, don’t worry Mustafa‘ from Kadhal Desam? And the iconic dance-atop-bus led by Prabhu Deva to Urvasi, Urvasi, take it easy Urvasi. Why then is this song gaining meme status? Why this kolaveri, indeed?

Bollywood has been the absolute last word on Indian pop culture for the past few years at least, and woefully inadequate in providing catchy references. I don’t see any reason a movie like Dabangg achieved such cult status, other than that the audience was fed to teeth with uber-urban metrosexual stories & 3-hr commercials for star kids & their brand affiliations. A good ol’ masala potboiler with a liberal dose of ‘leave your brains at home’ had to get lapped up by the masses starved of entertainment.

Dhanush at a function in chennai

In parallel, I think there’s also been an over-Punjification of popular media. Before hitting me with a barrage of protests (and abe teri to, paneer tikkasand open letters), consider this. Punjab is just one state in a diverse country. Its language and cultural references, only a certain proportion of a heterogeneous billion. Personally, I am a little sick of references to Kapoors, Khannas and Singhanias who celebrate karva chauth, whoop Balle balle or Chak de and dance the bhangda at every festive occasion. Bollywood is admittedly run by Punjabi film-makers but I think they’ve been very narrow in their creation, considering they represent the voice of an entire nation in pop culture.

For me, Singham stood out simply because it was refreshing to hear ‘Aai shapath‘ and ‘Saatakle majha‘. Similarly Kolaveri di tickles my fancy simply because it has a guy whose name can’t possibly be Vicky Malhotra and who references something other than khanakte chudi, parandas, goris and mahis.

And here’s the song now for your listening pleasure:

Rockstar Or Ra.One?

Starved for a good story. Please, Rockstar, please, be a rockstar and don’t turn into Ra.One.

Ra.ONE Style

Adicrazy said,

Someone made a robot with all the latest technology and design, and decided that it should look like SRK? Not convincing enough. #Ra1

I replied,

Or they put him in a steel-grey body suit. Botox did the rest. #Ra1

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MOVIE-Bubble Gum: A Fun Movie To Chew On!

I’ve written a guest-review for WOGMA on the movie Bubble Gum. If you just scoffed, please do read my review. I thought so too, when I read the title and I was pleasantly surprised. The movie was the best thing about my day.

Read the review on WOGMA.

Shit, DK Bose & Delhi Belly: Are Surprises Good For The Stomach?

Over-promising and underwhelming describes much of Bollywood in the past couple of years for me. But I still hang on, regardless. There have been a few nuggets after all, the films that slipped in when you were watching out for the high rollers parade. And then there is the mystery man. The only time I remember feeling let down by him was Ghajini. But then, if the figures are to be believed, most of the country doesn’t share my opinion.

Delhi Belly is probably the next most awaited movie, what with nephew Imran Khan’s makeover from sweet-boy-next-door to hellraiser. I can’t tell if the controversial DK Bose song is just a publicity gimmick or not since the lyrics don’t make any sense to me (Papa mujhse bola, tu galti hain meri, sabun ki shakal mein, beta tu toh diklake woh jhag???). Just in case you’re the last person in the world to *not* have caught the drift, try saying the name of this song over and over again as they do in the video.

The gossip section of today’s newspaper reports that ‘a bitchy actress’ has leaked the news that a shit sample meant for the doctor gets interchanged with a box of diamonds in the movie. That made me gag for all the usual reasons including what seems like an obviously paid-for-PR attempt.

I just caught something rather unusual on the tube now. Aamir Khan walked into the middle of a blank white screen talking about the fact that his next project uses certain language (cue eyebrows raised, embarassed, shifty look). And I wondered if he was going to clarify that it wasn’t intended to offend or whether it was just referring to a certain Bengali name. Instead, the Khan proceeded to say that this film was not for children and *wait for it* people who…umm…are boring stick-in-the-muds! The three hellraisers in the video, including Imran Khan bounded into the frame, well…raising hell. The chaos ended with Aamir Khan telling them to shut the **** up.

‘SHIT HAPPENS’ flashes across the screen. Cut to a racy trailer of Delhi Belly. Gimmick or not, I am so looking forward to this movie.

Update: Suprateek tweets, correcting my impression of the lyrics, which he says are actually ‘Sabun ki shakal mein, tu toh nikla kewal jhag

MOVIE: I AM – Sensitive And Raw

I first heard of I AM from Harish Iyer (on whose life one of the stories is part-based). After that, I’ve watched this project grow from an idea into a social media venture into an honest-to-goodness film. One of (and it’s only one) I AM claims to fame is the fact that it is an entirely crowd-sourced film. The movie has over 500 producers from all over the world, people who caught the idea on their social fora/networks and decided to add their support to it.

(Please note this review has spoilers)

Another way I AM stands out is that it adds to the multiple story genre (only sporadically experimented with, by Bollywood with Dus Kahaniyan and Darna Mana Hain/Zaroori Hain). It’s not just comprised of four stories. These stories also have links to each other, no matter how tenuous in the vein of LSD (Love, Sex Aur Dhoka). The key characters in each story appear briefly in the other stories, as support characters. The format is an unusual one and itself bold, considering how the aforementioned films fared at the box office.

Which brings us to the question of whether the movie manages to retain any of that bold attitude when it comes to the subjects. That’s tricky to say, since there are after all four stories to be judged (each by a different director), not to mention a glittering star cast. Each of the four stories deals with a shift, even a crisis of identity through stories of child abuse, single motherhood, homosexuality and war refugees. As diverse as these situations may seem, they are held together by the human condition of dealing with love, loss, betrayal, death and rebirth.

The first story, I AM Afia features Nandita Das in the role of a recently deserted woman who decides to bring meaning back into her life on her own, through motherhood. While the acting was competent, I thought the story’s sensitivity came from the way the situation was laid out. Purab Kohli as the eager but awkward student donor was a refreshing surprise, being as one is used to seeing him in relatively superficial roles.

The second story, I AM Megha was what really caught my attention. After all, what’s a story about Kashmiri Pandits doing in a film about human relationship issues? To my pleasant surprise, it turned out to be the best story in the quartet. I was already impressed by Juhi Chawla’s second actress avatar in Teen Deewarein. I AM only cements my belief that a talented actress was wasted because she arrived in Bollywood about two decades too early for a role that showcased her talent. Juhi superbly brought out the tightly controlled angst, the suppressed anger of a war-displaced civilian as well as the awkward joy of an adult coming home to the place she knew as a child. Contrary to the style of her days in Bollywood, there were no histrionics, no OTT expressions or exclamations. All of this done with a tightened pair of lips and tearless, crying eyes. Manisha Koirala, (perhaps a little luckier with the roles she had a chance to essay in Bollywood) also held her own as the Muslim girl who stayed back in Kashmir even through the atrocities meted out to her family. This story underlined the idea that serious film-making need not be heavy or sluggish.

The third story, I AM Abhimanyu was the one that I really went to watch the movie for, based as it was partly on Harish’s life. I have to say I was rather disappointed. This time, it wasn’t the acting that fell short. Indeed Sanjay Suri as the tormented victim and Anurag Kashyap as his step-father portrayed their respective roles as best as could be expected. But I thought the story itself set out ambitiously, then got scared, tiptoed around the issue without ever facing it and withdrew rather ungracefully. The ending of the story was wrapped up a little too tidily, too quickly for it to seem real. Victims of child abuse struggle to face what has happened to them. Talking about it does not come easily, least of all to a parent on whom rests the expectation of protection. A death brings its own share of emotional upheaval, unwanted baggage and an entire layer of new, hard-to-deal-with feelings. Tying off that story with an emotional outburst in such a situation just seemed like a bad hat-tip to Bollywood at its worst. Possibly because of my high expectations riding on this one, I felt almost angry at the thought that I AM Abhimanyu seemed to parody rather than embody a very tangible, very horrific reality of families. In this one story, the actors saved the story from sinking into a seedy, dark mess. My most vivid memory is Sanjay Suri saying,

“He was looking for a widow. One with a small child.”

Maybe because of the emotional roller-coaster of the past three stories, I was worn out by the time we got to I AM Omar. In all fairness, I did not give it as much attention or patience as the other stories. I AM Omar must face the brunt of its placement at the very end of the movie which magnifies even the slightest of slips. Rahul Bose was probably the only one who could keep this story from bombing. My only real grouse with this story is that it was more about betrayal than gay rights. The narrative was more in the vein of a confidence trickster plot than a human interest story. Still, I guess the film-makers tried to depict something other than the standard familial opposition/ straight marriage/ childhood bullying aspects of homosexuality in India. Full marks for innovation then.

I saw the movie over two months before its release in the theater, courtesy their marketing team. At that time, I was told that some of the feedback could be used to make alterations. I haven’t seen the film in the theater after that so I don’t know if much has been changed. But I would think there wouldn’t be any modifications in major elements like plot and acting. One of the recommendations was to tone down the background music, since its volume and pace completely shattered the sensitivity and subtleness of the stories’ portrayal. I’ll hope that suggestion has been heeded since sound can really kill or create the right mood with the audience.

All in all, I’d say I AM is worth a watch, if only for how many restrictive norms it breaks. It’s hard to speak objectively about something that’s so close (based on a friend’s life), that at least tries to tackle issues most film-makers wouldn’t even talk about and does these by telling a genuine story instead of guilt-tripping the audience into watching because ‘it is about an important issue’. I’d say go watch it and judge for yourself.

I AM elsewhere on the social media: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Wikipedia

Ideamarked Apr2011: Humour, Politics & Youtube

To make up for my brevity in the past two months, I’m back with a whole bouquet of links. I’ve been accused of too much seriousness so here’s me showing you my funny side (don’t blame me if it’s not to your taste, though!). I’ve been Youtube’ing and Wikipedia’ing a lot more – nothing like these two channels for pop culture. Take a look at some of the gems I unearthed:

  • A month-long writing exercise by Caferati called CaPoWriMo: Daily prompts, peer nudging and stringent deadlines to follow!
  • To Afridi, With Love” A Pakistani journalist welcomes their cricket team back after the World Cup 2011 performance, with a letter that touched hearts on both sides of the border. (via Maati.tv)
  • Why the knowledge of punctuation is really, really, really important!: “7 Unfortunately Named Websites” (via 10DailyThings)
  • Crime, cannibalism and New York – read on an empty stomach for your daily sick-up laugh. (via OverheardInNewYork)
  • Pun-pictures and whacky filmi quizzes with whackier prizes. (via TheQuark)
  • Big Brother’s watching you! Move over George Orwell, Google’s made your worst nightmare come true! (via Wulffmorgenthalter)
  • Everyone has an opinion, a fast or at least a signature on this. Here’s the Jan Lokpal bill 2.1 that everyone’s talking about. (via Scribd, link courtesy Supreeka)
  • What would it be like to have a rapper for a roommate? Thought Catalog gives you a ready primer about different rapper-types & their homing styles.
  • Conversations with the Kabras (especially the younger ones) are anything but boring. Here’s Navin and Meetu explaining Anna Hazare (and having the situation explained back to them with the kind of wisdom only human beings of a certain age can). (via Abu-Rabad)
  • The best comic books that you aren’t reading. (via Uread)
  • Sadhu beedi, nalla swadulu beedi” – old-school advertising for Sadhu beedi (via Youtube)
  • What would a desified Spiderman be like? No, not Pavitra Prabhakar but in asal Bollywood-ishtyle, complete with kitschy dance moves, here’s Spidey doing a Dharamendra dance (via Youtube)
  • Peggy-O, a haunting Simon & Garfunkle air with its own curious story was my first gift to Music Monday. (via Youtube).
  • Karishma Kapoor’s off-the-shoulder dress with understated make-up had me drooling! This is a not-so-subtle hint to anybody who feels like demonstrating their lurrve for me! ;-) (via HighHeelConfidential)
  • A new cultural collaborative called Social Mantra addresses social commentary to media & marketing to lifestyle. I’m one of its contributors. Do drop in!

Time Travel

Channel-surfing. Wait. Stop. Backtrack.

The Time-Traveler’s Wife is on, just started on one of those channels that comes and goes. Just like the protagonist in the movie. Hmm.

Odd flashes of nostalgia. The book was a birthday gift from my parents in 2007. Birthday gifts are special. Books are special. A good book on a birthday is well…you know. It was a Friday the thirteenth (just like the day I was born) which curiously enough, always bodes well for me. My birthday (just like my boyfriend and other friends) had been hijacked by another closely-birthday’ed person whom I loathed. I spent the weekend following, curled up with the book, the rain pelting down outside the window behind me. I’ve received books for every birthday of my adult life but I think this was the most memorable one.

Flash forward two and a half years. The movie came out without much fanfare, at least in India. I spotted it in an ad, by pure chance. The only show I could find was at 11:30 p.m. Normally, I’d probably have watched this particular movie by myself. But given the timing and the opportunity that it presented, I did something different and asked a guy I’d met recently, out. It was the first of what I thought of as pleasant conversations. And this is how that story turned out. Well, then.

Snap. The screen’s gone blank. The channel’s vanished on another of the cable-operator’s mysterious whims. And just like that, The Time-Traveler vanished.

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