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A Story By Deepak Jeswal
A Story By Deepak Jeswal

Film Review

Namastey LondonTum filmein nahin dekhti” cheekily remarks Akshay Kumar whenever he bowls over the prim and propah (well, read not really) British bred heroine with some stereotypical googly. This insouciance and ability to poke fun at one’s own self is extremely heartening and displays immense maturity and confidence on the film makers part. Perhaps the latest spate of overseas success has helped Bollywood shed its fundamentally solemn outlook while giving the most filmi movies; and now it does not take itself too seriously. And all this is paradoxically done keeping every traditional cliche neatly preserved in the script.

Years back, pfizer when Manoj Kumar directed Poorab Aur Paschim he had kept a straight preachy tone. Today, this site Vipul Shah (the director) has inverted that school-masterly intonation to a more friendly banter to present his own version of a similar story. In a crucial patriotic moment, when Akshay Kumar enlists the virtues of India, he doesn’t somberly sing “Hai preet jahan kii reet sada” but simply gives a small monologue, rounding it off saying – tongue firmly in the cheek – that if the British need to know more about the so-called land of snake-charmers they could hire a DVD of Poorab Aur Paschim! Absolutely a brilliant and funny way to put the point across!

Clearly, the film is not meant to be taken seriously, and I am sure Vipul Shah would be embarrassingly shocked if he receives an esoteric review or if someone tries to find subtle meanings and hidden sub-texts in his film. There is no need to exert your gray-cells, for that is not Shah’s purpose.

Built on the premise that you can take an Indian out of India but not the Indianness within him, the film is a light-hearted, fluffy and breezy entertainer, stacked with dollops of humor – some forced but largely genuine laughable moments.

The dialogues are wittily written, and the cinematography is all about bright colors whether in India or abroad. And yes, there’s an excellent shot of Taj Mahal (wish I were here at that time when they canned the scene!). The direction is light, fluffy and fun-tastic.

Both Akshay and Katrina suit their roles. And Katrina’s fragile beauty and the la-di-dah Brit accent charms exceedingly. Upen Patel – as Katrina’s Pakistani friend – has a small role, but is again well-cast. And Rishi Kapoor, the veteran, is absolutely and convincingly delightful! There are the two Brit stars, and thankfully, they aren’t made to speak horrendously accented Hindi – their dialogues carry Hindi subtitles (perhaps, a first in our cinema!).

Himesh Reshammiya’s music is the biggest sore point. The tunes are stale and his voice over the Dolby sound system excruciatingly hurts. Chakna and Rafta rafta could have been enjoyable numbers if he hadn’t sung them.

The film celebrates the current Indian self-assurance to take on the world, keeping all our idiosyncrasies and foibles intact, without being embarrassed or apologetic, and without any extraneous superiority-or-inferiority complex.

So, sit back, pack that pop-corn and Coke, and enjoy the film. You won’t be bored!

Overall Entertaining and Relaxing!

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A Story By Deepak Jeswal

Film Review

Namastey LondonTum filmein nahin dekhti” cheekily remarks Akshay Kumar whenever he bowls over the prim and propah (well, read not really) British bred heroine with some stereotypical googly. This insouciance and ability to poke fun at one’s own self is extremely heartening and displays immense maturity and confidence on the film makers part. Perhaps the latest spate of overseas success has helped Bollywood shed its fundamentally solemn outlook while giving the most filmi movies; and now it does not take itself too seriously. And all this is paradoxically done keeping every traditional cliche neatly preserved in the script.

Years back, pfizer when Manoj Kumar directed Poorab Aur Paschim he had kept a straight preachy tone. Today, this site Vipul Shah (the director) has inverted that school-masterly intonation to a more friendly banter to present his own version of a similar story. In a crucial patriotic moment, when Akshay Kumar enlists the virtues of India, he doesn’t somberly sing “Hai preet jahan kii reet sada” but simply gives a small monologue, rounding it off saying – tongue firmly in the cheek – that if the British need to know more about the so-called land of snake-charmers they could hire a DVD of Poorab Aur Paschim! Absolutely a brilliant and funny way to put the point across!

Clearly, the film is not meant to be taken seriously, and I am sure Vipul Shah would be embarrassingly shocked if he receives an esoteric review or if someone tries to find subtle meanings and hidden sub-texts in his film. There is no need to exert your gray-cells, for that is not Shah’s purpose.

Built on the premise that you can take an Indian out of India but not the Indianness within him, the film is a light-hearted, fluffy and breezy entertainer, stacked with dollops of humor – some forced but largely genuine laughable moments.

The dialogues are wittily written, and the cinematography is all about bright colors whether in India or abroad. And yes, there’s an excellent shot of Taj Mahal (wish I were here at that time when they canned the scene!). The direction is light, fluffy and fun-tastic.

Both Akshay and Katrina suit their roles. And Katrina’s fragile beauty and the la-di-dah Brit accent charms exceedingly. Upen Patel – as Katrina’s Pakistani friend – has a small role, but is again well-cast. And Rishi Kapoor, the veteran, is absolutely and convincingly delightful! There are the two Brit stars, and thankfully, they aren’t made to speak horrendously accented Hindi – their dialogues carry Hindi subtitles (perhaps, a first in our cinema!).

Himesh Reshammiya’s music is the biggest sore point. The tunes are stale and his voice over the Dolby sound system excruciatingly hurts. Chakna and Rafta rafta could have been enjoyable numbers if he hadn’t sung them.

The film celebrates the current Indian self-assurance to take on the world, keeping all our idiosyncrasies and foibles intact, without being embarrassed or apologetic, and without any extraneous superiority-or-inferiority complex.

So, sit back, pack that pop-corn and Coke, and enjoy the film. You won’t be bored!

Overall Entertaining and Relaxing!

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In his weekly column in a leading national daily, prosthesis eminent writer and UN diplomat Shashi Tharoor has emotionally implored the nation’s women to save the sari from possible extinction. I echo his sentiments.

Since childhood I have a strong fascination for the sari – not that I indulge in some secret and perverse pleasure in (cross) dressing in them, pestilence but it is the sari’s visual appeal which fuels the fascination. Possibly, pestilence this attraction stems from watching Sridevi cavorting in bright red and blue chiffon saris in Jaanbaaz and Mr. India respectively, during my growing up years. And then all those Yash Chopra romantic films further cemented their allure. Today, the sari has reinvented itself into a style statement, but still I find a Sushmita Sen much more enticing in Mai Hoon Na than her corporate suits in various other films. And the sari lent a unique appeal to Aishwarya Rai’s tall and skinny frame in the second half of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. In the earlier generation, Rakhee was a huge favorite, and despite having a body that most heroines today would scoff at, she was an epitome of polish and poise and possibly with the widest collection of saris.

As Tharoor almost endorses my own thoughts, “the sari is an outfit in which a lady of any size and shape look extremely elegant and graceful you could never be too fat, too short or too ungainly to look good in a sari,” he writes. “Indeed if you were stout, or bowlegged, or thick-waisted, nothing concealed those handicaps of nature better than the sari.” I second his opinion.

My mother always wore saris and she attended some top diplomatic functions in them, always a symbol of elegance and dignity. So some years back, after dad s retirement, when she found a new obsession in Punjabi salvar suits, I was visibly aghast. And I protested quite vocally. Thankfully, she still finds saris more comfortable, especially in summers and has reserved the suits only for winters, packing them off when the mercury climbs. I find her matronly, plump and extremely loving frame accentuated by the lovely Indian dress. And the same plumpness assumes a gross and ungainly expression when she wears the suit.

In my own stories I try to keep the heroine dressed in a sari. In my biggest story on this blog, The Independence Day, the heroine (Naina) wore one for a large bulk of the story, sparking off a row of comments by Anks wondering why Naina would dress so, especially since she is shown to stay in the US for a long time, and more so since she has to embark on an important mission. But that s how I had visualized the character, and frankly, during writing, much of Naina’s appeal would have been lost had she not worn a sari. In WTHMTE, the scene where Mamta rips off her pallu challenging the hero to ravage her would have impossibly lost that raw and wild energy had she been in any other attire. And then there is – forgive me for sounding a bit voyeuristic – a heightened sexiness in unfolding the layers of the sari during love-making, which simply cannot be matched by the antiseptic taking off of, for example, a suit or shirt.

If draped properly the sari gives its own character to the wearer. It is a dress where numerous permutations and combinations of designs and colors are permittable, since the visible portion is large and uninterrupted by any creases or cuts. Indeed, the pallu itself can be a strong statement if neatly pinned over the shoulder, in tight folds, it presents a no-nonsense look; if loosely draped, it imparts a careless casualness; if rounded over the back and tucked at the waist, it shows a woman ready to take on the task with single minded devotion; and – in film and story context – just a pallu hung loose and unfolded can convey the emotional blankness much more than any dialogue would!

I know I am romanticizing it all and can almost feel the ladies reading this seething and muttering harshly that I wouldn’t know the uncomfortable impracticalities involved in wearing the apparel in daily routine life. In fact, Tharoor also quotes a lady saying: “Try rushing to catch a bus in a sari, and you’ll switch to jeans the next day.” And possibly that’s why the sari is nearly fading away from everyday lives especially in the cities. I accept the arguments, and admittedly, they are logical and practical as well.

But my appeal, and Tharoor’s as well, to the modern Indian women is that please do not just relegate this beautiful dress only for celebrations and weddings; I am sure a middle way can be found where a day in a week (or a month at least) can be kept to keep the rush out, and possibly relax in a sari I am sure one day in a month wouldn’t be too tough, would it? Let it not be a rare and exotic dress in its own land.

As Tharoor ends his piece, so do I – “Perhaps its time to appeal to the women of India to save the sari from a sorry fate.”

Powered by Zoundry

A Story By Deepak Jeswal

Film Review

Namastey LondonTum filmein nahin dekhti” cheekily remarks Akshay Kumar whenever he bowls over the prim and propah (well, read not really) British bred heroine with some stereotypical googly. This insouciance and ability to poke fun at one’s own self is extremely heartening and displays immense maturity and confidence on the film makers part. Perhaps the latest spate of overseas success has helped Bollywood shed its fundamentally solemn outlook while giving the most filmi movies; and now it does not take itself too seriously. And all this is paradoxically done keeping every traditional cliche neatly preserved in the script.

Years back, pfizer when Manoj Kumar directed Poorab Aur Paschim he had kept a straight preachy tone. Today, this site Vipul Shah (the director) has inverted that school-masterly intonation to a more friendly banter to present his own version of a similar story. In a crucial patriotic moment, when Akshay Kumar enlists the virtues of India, he doesn’t somberly sing “Hai preet jahan kii reet sada” but simply gives a small monologue, rounding it off saying – tongue firmly in the cheek – that if the British need to know more about the so-called land of snake-charmers they could hire a DVD of Poorab Aur Paschim! Absolutely a brilliant and funny way to put the point across!

Clearly, the film is not meant to be taken seriously, and I am sure Vipul Shah would be embarrassingly shocked if he receives an esoteric review or if someone tries to find subtle meanings and hidden sub-texts in his film. There is no need to exert your gray-cells, for that is not Shah’s purpose.

Built on the premise that you can take an Indian out of India but not the Indianness within him, the film is a light-hearted, fluffy and breezy entertainer, stacked with dollops of humor – some forced but largely genuine laughable moments.

The dialogues are wittily written, and the cinematography is all about bright colors whether in India or abroad. And yes, there’s an excellent shot of Taj Mahal (wish I were here at that time when they canned the scene!). The direction is light, fluffy and fun-tastic.

Both Akshay and Katrina suit their roles. And Katrina’s fragile beauty and the la-di-dah Brit accent charms exceedingly. Upen Patel – as Katrina’s Pakistani friend – has a small role, but is again well-cast. And Rishi Kapoor, the veteran, is absolutely and convincingly delightful! There are the two Brit stars, and thankfully, they aren’t made to speak horrendously accented Hindi – their dialogues carry Hindi subtitles (perhaps, a first in our cinema!).

Himesh Reshammiya’s music is the biggest sore point. The tunes are stale and his voice over the Dolby sound system excruciatingly hurts. Chakna and Rafta rafta could have been enjoyable numbers if he hadn’t sung them.

The film celebrates the current Indian self-assurance to take on the world, keeping all our idiosyncrasies and foibles intact, without being embarrassed or apologetic, and without any extraneous superiority-or-inferiority complex.

So, sit back, pack that pop-corn and Coke, and enjoy the film. You won’t be bored!

Overall Entertaining and Relaxing!

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In his weekly column in a leading national daily, prosthesis eminent writer and UN diplomat Shashi Tharoor has emotionally implored the nation’s women to save the sari from possible extinction. I echo his sentiments.

Since childhood I have a strong fascination for the sari – not that I indulge in some secret and perverse pleasure in (cross) dressing in them, pestilence but it is the sari’s visual appeal which fuels the fascination. Possibly, pestilence this attraction stems from watching Sridevi cavorting in bright red and blue chiffon saris in Jaanbaaz and Mr. India respectively, during my growing up years. And then all those Yash Chopra romantic films further cemented their allure. Today, the sari has reinvented itself into a style statement, but still I find a Sushmita Sen much more enticing in Mai Hoon Na than her corporate suits in various other films. And the sari lent a unique appeal to Aishwarya Rai’s tall and skinny frame in the second half of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. In the earlier generation, Rakhee was a huge favorite, and despite having a body that most heroines today would scoff at, she was an epitome of polish and poise and possibly with the widest collection of saris.

As Tharoor almost endorses my own thoughts, “the sari is an outfit in which a lady of any size and shape look extremely elegant and graceful you could never be too fat, too short or too ungainly to look good in a sari,” he writes. “Indeed if you were stout, or bowlegged, or thick-waisted, nothing concealed those handicaps of nature better than the sari.” I second his opinion.

My mother always wore saris and she attended some top diplomatic functions in them, always a symbol of elegance and dignity. So some years back, after dad s retirement, when she found a new obsession in Punjabi salvar suits, I was visibly aghast. And I protested quite vocally. Thankfully, she still finds saris more comfortable, especially in summers and has reserved the suits only for winters, packing them off when the mercury climbs. I find her matronly, plump and extremely loving frame accentuated by the lovely Indian dress. And the same plumpness assumes a gross and ungainly expression when she wears the suit.

In my own stories I try to keep the heroine dressed in a sari. In my biggest story on this blog, The Independence Day, the heroine (Naina) wore one for a large bulk of the story, sparking off a row of comments by Anks wondering why Naina would dress so, especially since she is shown to stay in the US for a long time, and more so since she has to embark on an important mission. But that s how I had visualized the character, and frankly, during writing, much of Naina’s appeal would have been lost had she not worn a sari. In WTHMTE, the scene where Mamta rips off her pallu challenging the hero to ravage her would have impossibly lost that raw and wild energy had she been in any other attire. And then there is – forgive me for sounding a bit voyeuristic – a heightened sexiness in unfolding the layers of the sari during love-making, which simply cannot be matched by the antiseptic taking off of, for example, a suit or shirt.

If draped properly the sari gives its own character to the wearer. It is a dress where numerous permutations and combinations of designs and colors are permittable, since the visible portion is large and uninterrupted by any creases or cuts. Indeed, the pallu itself can be a strong statement if neatly pinned over the shoulder, in tight folds, it presents a no-nonsense look; if loosely draped, it imparts a careless casualness; if rounded over the back and tucked at the waist, it shows a woman ready to take on the task with single minded devotion; and – in film and story context – just a pallu hung loose and unfolded can convey the emotional blankness much more than any dialogue would!

I know I am romanticizing it all and can almost feel the ladies reading this seething and muttering harshly that I wouldn’t know the uncomfortable impracticalities involved in wearing the apparel in daily routine life. In fact, Tharoor also quotes a lady saying: “Try rushing to catch a bus in a sari, and you’ll switch to jeans the next day.” And possibly that’s why the sari is nearly fading away from everyday lives especially in the cities. I accept the arguments, and admittedly, they are logical and practical as well.

But my appeal, and Tharoor’s as well, to the modern Indian women is that please do not just relegate this beautiful dress only for celebrations and weddings; I am sure a middle way can be found where a day in a week (or a month at least) can be kept to keep the rush out, and possibly relax in a sari I am sure one day in a month wouldn’t be too tough, would it? Let it not be a rare and exotic dress in its own land.

As Tharoor ends his piece, so do I – “Perhaps its time to appeal to the women of India to save the sari from a sorry fate.”

Powered by Zoundry

Chokho Jeeman is a Marwari/Jain Restaurant, thumb on the road leading to Agra’s significant Raja-Ki-Mandi Railway Station, at Delhi Gate, next to Moon TV Network’s office.

Even though I had heard of it earlier, but I visited the place very late, only last Sunday when a friend and colleague took me there for dinner. The restaurant impressed me enough to visit it again this Saturday, and also to write this review.


Ambience
– Excellent! The place is done up with Rajasthani motifs, the brown walls plastered to give an effect of a hut, with intense red and pure white hand painted traditional designs bordering them. At regular intervals Rajasthani dolls and urns are placed to add to the effect. The tables are made of solid bamboo. In addition, they play Rajasthani folk music.

Cleanliness scores a huge point. And all places, be it the bathroom or the washbasin is neatly marked in traditional labels. The only low point is the small space a narrow sliver with two rows of tables.

Food – Delicious! The restaurant works on thaali system, and it offers three options saada thali, ghee thali and Maharaja thaali, all offering unlimited servings. Both times I visited, I ordered the bulky Maharaja thaali and they were extremely fulfilling. Maharaja thaali presents five variety of sabzis (dahi kadi, daal, aloo ki sabzi, matar-paneer and one more traditional variety, usually papad ki sabzi or gatte ki sabzi) along with raita, salad, aachaar, chutney, rice and two sweets. Of course, the rotis including missi roti, dipped liberally in ghee, are unlimited, as also refill of any of the sabzis that you wish.

The taste is wonderful and exciting, not very spicy and the generous use of ghee adds value. The quantity is truly befitting a Maharaja and often a second helping of the sabzis becomes immaterial.

Value for money– Absolutely! At INR 75 the Maharaja Thaali couldn t be better priced. And at INR 50 and 60 respectively, both the Saada Thaali and Ghee Thaali are also modestly priced.

Service – Quick and Efficient! Waiters move about effortlessly, attired in earthy Rajasthani outfits, ready to serve at the slightest gesture.

Overall – A must visit when you are next in Agraand come with an empty stomach, and prepare to skip the next meal!


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A Story By Deepak Jeswal

Film Review

Namastey LondonTum filmein nahin dekhti” cheekily remarks Akshay Kumar whenever he bowls over the prim and propah (well, read not really) British bred heroine with some stereotypical googly. This insouciance and ability to poke fun at one’s own self is extremely heartening and displays immense maturity and confidence on the film makers part. Perhaps the latest spate of overseas success has helped Bollywood shed its fundamentally solemn outlook while giving the most filmi movies; and now it does not take itself too seriously. And all this is paradoxically done keeping every traditional cliche neatly preserved in the script.

Years back, pfizer when Manoj Kumar directed Poorab Aur Paschim he had kept a straight preachy tone. Today, this site Vipul Shah (the director) has inverted that school-masterly intonation to a more friendly banter to present his own version of a similar story. In a crucial patriotic moment, when Akshay Kumar enlists the virtues of India, he doesn’t somberly sing “Hai preet jahan kii reet sada” but simply gives a small monologue, rounding it off saying – tongue firmly in the cheek – that if the British need to know more about the so-called land of snake-charmers they could hire a DVD of Poorab Aur Paschim! Absolutely a brilliant and funny way to put the point across!

Clearly, the film is not meant to be taken seriously, and I am sure Vipul Shah would be embarrassingly shocked if he receives an esoteric review or if someone tries to find subtle meanings and hidden sub-texts in his film. There is no need to exert your gray-cells, for that is not Shah’s purpose.

Built on the premise that you can take an Indian out of India but not the Indianness within him, the film is a light-hearted, fluffy and breezy entertainer, stacked with dollops of humor – some forced but largely genuine laughable moments.

The dialogues are wittily written, and the cinematography is all about bright colors whether in India or abroad. And yes, there’s an excellent shot of Taj Mahal (wish I were here at that time when they canned the scene!). The direction is light, fluffy and fun-tastic.

Both Akshay and Katrina suit their roles. And Katrina’s fragile beauty and the la-di-dah Brit accent charms exceedingly. Upen Patel – as Katrina’s Pakistani friend – has a small role, but is again well-cast. And Rishi Kapoor, the veteran, is absolutely and convincingly delightful! There are the two Brit stars, and thankfully, they aren’t made to speak horrendously accented Hindi – their dialogues carry Hindi subtitles (perhaps, a first in our cinema!).

Himesh Reshammiya’s music is the biggest sore point. The tunes are stale and his voice over the Dolby sound system excruciatingly hurts. Chakna and Rafta rafta could have been enjoyable numbers if he hadn’t sung them.

The film celebrates the current Indian self-assurance to take on the world, keeping all our idiosyncrasies and foibles intact, without being embarrassed or apologetic, and without any extraneous superiority-or-inferiority complex.

So, sit back, pack that pop-corn and Coke, and enjoy the film. You won’t be bored!

Overall Entertaining and Relaxing!

Technorati : , , , ,
Del.icio.us : , , , , ,

Powered by Zoundry

In his weekly column in a leading national daily, prosthesis eminent writer and UN diplomat Shashi Tharoor has emotionally implored the nation’s women to save the sari from possible extinction. I echo his sentiments.

Since childhood I have a strong fascination for the sari – not that I indulge in some secret and perverse pleasure in (cross) dressing in them, pestilence but it is the sari’s visual appeal which fuels the fascination. Possibly, pestilence this attraction stems from watching Sridevi cavorting in bright red and blue chiffon saris in Jaanbaaz and Mr. India respectively, during my growing up years. And then all those Yash Chopra romantic films further cemented their allure. Today, the sari has reinvented itself into a style statement, but still I find a Sushmita Sen much more enticing in Mai Hoon Na than her corporate suits in various other films. And the sari lent a unique appeal to Aishwarya Rai’s tall and skinny frame in the second half of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. In the earlier generation, Rakhee was a huge favorite, and despite having a body that most heroines today would scoff at, she was an epitome of polish and poise and possibly with the widest collection of saris.

As Tharoor almost endorses my own thoughts, “the sari is an outfit in which a lady of any size and shape look extremely elegant and graceful you could never be too fat, too short or too ungainly to look good in a sari,” he writes. “Indeed if you were stout, or bowlegged, or thick-waisted, nothing concealed those handicaps of nature better than the sari.” I second his opinion.

My mother always wore saris and she attended some top diplomatic functions in them, always a symbol of elegance and dignity. So some years back, after dad s retirement, when she found a new obsession in Punjabi salvar suits, I was visibly aghast. And I protested quite vocally. Thankfully, she still finds saris more comfortable, especially in summers and has reserved the suits only for winters, packing them off when the mercury climbs. I find her matronly, plump and extremely loving frame accentuated by the lovely Indian dress. And the same plumpness assumes a gross and ungainly expression when she wears the suit.

In my own stories I try to keep the heroine dressed in a sari. In my biggest story on this blog, The Independence Day, the heroine (Naina) wore one for a large bulk of the story, sparking off a row of comments by Anks wondering why Naina would dress so, especially since she is shown to stay in the US for a long time, and more so since she has to embark on an important mission. But that s how I had visualized the character, and frankly, during writing, much of Naina’s appeal would have been lost had she not worn a sari. In WTHMTE, the scene where Mamta rips off her pallu challenging the hero to ravage her would have impossibly lost that raw and wild energy had she been in any other attire. And then there is – forgive me for sounding a bit voyeuristic – a heightened sexiness in unfolding the layers of the sari during love-making, which simply cannot be matched by the antiseptic taking off of, for example, a suit or shirt.

If draped properly the sari gives its own character to the wearer. It is a dress where numerous permutations and combinations of designs and colors are permittable, since the visible portion is large and uninterrupted by any creases or cuts. Indeed, the pallu itself can be a strong statement if neatly pinned over the shoulder, in tight folds, it presents a no-nonsense look; if loosely draped, it imparts a careless casualness; if rounded over the back and tucked at the waist, it shows a woman ready to take on the task with single minded devotion; and – in film and story context – just a pallu hung loose and unfolded can convey the emotional blankness much more than any dialogue would!

I know I am romanticizing it all and can almost feel the ladies reading this seething and muttering harshly that I wouldn’t know the uncomfortable impracticalities involved in wearing the apparel in daily routine life. In fact, Tharoor also quotes a lady saying: “Try rushing to catch a bus in a sari, and you’ll switch to jeans the next day.” And possibly that’s why the sari is nearly fading away from everyday lives especially in the cities. I accept the arguments, and admittedly, they are logical and practical as well.

But my appeal, and Tharoor’s as well, to the modern Indian women is that please do not just relegate this beautiful dress only for celebrations and weddings; I am sure a middle way can be found where a day in a week (or a month at least) can be kept to keep the rush out, and possibly relax in a sari I am sure one day in a month wouldn’t be too tough, would it? Let it not be a rare and exotic dress in its own land.

As Tharoor ends his piece, so do I – “Perhaps its time to appeal to the women of India to save the sari from a sorry fate.”

Powered by Zoundry

Chokho Jeeman is a Marwari/Jain Restaurant, thumb on the road leading to Agra’s significant Raja-Ki-Mandi Railway Station, at Delhi Gate, next to Moon TV Network’s office.

Even though I had heard of it earlier, but I visited the place very late, only last Sunday when a friend and colleague took me there for dinner. The restaurant impressed me enough to visit it again this Saturday, and also to write this review.


Ambience
– Excellent! The place is done up with Rajasthani motifs, the brown walls plastered to give an effect of a hut, with intense red and pure white hand painted traditional designs bordering them. At regular intervals Rajasthani dolls and urns are placed to add to the effect. The tables are made of solid bamboo. In addition, they play Rajasthani folk music.

Cleanliness scores a huge point. And all places, be it the bathroom or the washbasin is neatly marked in traditional labels. The only low point is the small space a narrow sliver with two rows of tables.

Food – Delicious! The restaurant works on thaali system, and it offers three options saada thali, ghee thali and Maharaja thaali, all offering unlimited servings. Both times I visited, I ordered the bulky Maharaja thaali and they were extremely fulfilling. Maharaja thaali presents five variety of sabzis (dahi kadi, daal, aloo ki sabzi, matar-paneer and one more traditional variety, usually papad ki sabzi or gatte ki sabzi) along with raita, salad, aachaar, chutney, rice and two sweets. Of course, the rotis including missi roti, dipped liberally in ghee, are unlimited, as also refill of any of the sabzis that you wish.

The taste is wonderful and exciting, not very spicy and the generous use of ghee adds value. The quantity is truly befitting a Maharaja and often a second helping of the sabzis becomes immaterial.

Value for money– Absolutely! At INR 75 the Maharaja Thaali couldn t be better priced. And at INR 50 and 60 respectively, both the Saada Thaali and Ghee Thaali are also modestly priced.

Service – Quick and Efficient! Waiters move about effortlessly, attired in earthy Rajasthani outfits, ready to serve at the slightest gesture.

Overall – A must visit when you are next in Agraand come with an empty stomach, and prepare to skip the next meal!


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For those visiting Kathmandu, oncologist a trip to the restaurant Banchcha Ghar is a must. Housed in a building that is nearly 100 years old off the main Darbar Marg, breast Banchcha Ghar preserves the traditional Newari food in its authenticity. Newaris were the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu valley.

The must haves there are Sukuti (spicy, dried deer meat) and the wild boar dish(slices, served with an array of masalas/salt/mirchi), the preparation of which was one of the best that I ever had.

They seat you on the floor (on soft cushions) with low tables, with shoes off, obviously-on the top floor.

The highlight is a half hour cultural dance program performed by able dancers, who perform the auspicious welcome ‘tikka‘ and also serve you ‘Rakshi‘ – a home made rice-wine that is to be had in one gulp (like the Tequila shot) but served in miniature earthern ware dish. It’s an amazing concoction- it burns and invigorates! Commercial production is banned, and if the restaurants serve it, they do not charge for it. It is supposed to be purely home-made! It is 80% alcohol. You can light/burn it, and place your finger in the middle of the blue flame…I tried it- it was an unique experience! It is almost ‘spirit‘-ual !

Liquor is served, and the tables/cushions are placed comfortably all across the hall, with a strong but colorfully designed canvas roof; the girls (in tradiotional outfits) dance in the space in between…and mind you, it is very decent and sublime and absolutely customary! The dances encapsulate the colorful heritage of various backgrounds of Nepal – the Sherpas, the Gorkhas, and the Newaris etc.

The dinner is on the middle two floors on conventional tables and chairs, but served in old-fashioned thick copper plates and cups, and consists of some sumptuous local cuisines.

A spicy slice of history (on pure hearsay, no facts verified) – when the Muslims invaded the western part of the subcontinent, many Rajput ladies of that section fled to Nepal for refuge; they married the locals, but to maintain their superiority, they served their men with their foot.

I was speechless!

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A Story By Deepak Jeswal

Film Review

Namastey LondonTum filmein nahin dekhti” cheekily remarks Akshay Kumar whenever he bowls over the prim and propah (well, read not really) British bred heroine with some stereotypical googly. This insouciance and ability to poke fun at one’s own self is extremely heartening and displays immense maturity and confidence on the film makers part. Perhaps the latest spate of overseas success has helped Bollywood shed its fundamentally solemn outlook while giving the most filmi movies; and now it does not take itself too seriously. And all this is paradoxically done keeping every traditional cliche neatly preserved in the script.

Years back, pfizer when Manoj Kumar directed Poorab Aur Paschim he had kept a straight preachy tone. Today, this site Vipul Shah (the director) has inverted that school-masterly intonation to a more friendly banter to present his own version of a similar story. In a crucial patriotic moment, when Akshay Kumar enlists the virtues of India, he doesn’t somberly sing “Hai preet jahan kii reet sada” but simply gives a small monologue, rounding it off saying – tongue firmly in the cheek – that if the British need to know more about the so-called land of snake-charmers they could hire a DVD of Poorab Aur Paschim! Absolutely a brilliant and funny way to put the point across!

Clearly, the film is not meant to be taken seriously, and I am sure Vipul Shah would be embarrassingly shocked if he receives an esoteric review or if someone tries to find subtle meanings and hidden sub-texts in his film. There is no need to exert your gray-cells, for that is not Shah’s purpose.

Built on the premise that you can take an Indian out of India but not the Indianness within him, the film is a light-hearted, fluffy and breezy entertainer, stacked with dollops of humor – some forced but largely genuine laughable moments.

The dialogues are wittily written, and the cinematography is all about bright colors whether in India or abroad. And yes, there’s an excellent shot of Taj Mahal (wish I were here at that time when they canned the scene!). The direction is light, fluffy and fun-tastic.

Both Akshay and Katrina suit their roles. And Katrina’s fragile beauty and the la-di-dah Brit accent charms exceedingly. Upen Patel – as Katrina’s Pakistani friend – has a small role, but is again well-cast. And Rishi Kapoor, the veteran, is absolutely and convincingly delightful! There are the two Brit stars, and thankfully, they aren’t made to speak horrendously accented Hindi – their dialogues carry Hindi subtitles (perhaps, a first in our cinema!).

Himesh Reshammiya’s music is the biggest sore point. The tunes are stale and his voice over the Dolby sound system excruciatingly hurts. Chakna and Rafta rafta could have been enjoyable numbers if he hadn’t sung them.

The film celebrates the current Indian self-assurance to take on the world, keeping all our idiosyncrasies and foibles intact, without being embarrassed or apologetic, and without any extraneous superiority-or-inferiority complex.

So, sit back, pack that pop-corn and Coke, and enjoy the film. You won’t be bored!

Overall Entertaining and Relaxing!

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In his weekly column in a leading national daily, prosthesis eminent writer and UN diplomat Shashi Tharoor has emotionally implored the nation’s women to save the sari from possible extinction. I echo his sentiments.

Since childhood I have a strong fascination for the sari – not that I indulge in some secret and perverse pleasure in (cross) dressing in them, pestilence but it is the sari’s visual appeal which fuels the fascination. Possibly, pestilence this attraction stems from watching Sridevi cavorting in bright red and blue chiffon saris in Jaanbaaz and Mr. India respectively, during my growing up years. And then all those Yash Chopra romantic films further cemented their allure. Today, the sari has reinvented itself into a style statement, but still I find a Sushmita Sen much more enticing in Mai Hoon Na than her corporate suits in various other films. And the sari lent a unique appeal to Aishwarya Rai’s tall and skinny frame in the second half of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. In the earlier generation, Rakhee was a huge favorite, and despite having a body that most heroines today would scoff at, she was an epitome of polish and poise and possibly with the widest collection of saris.

As Tharoor almost endorses my own thoughts, “the sari is an outfit in which a lady of any size and shape look extremely elegant and graceful you could never be too fat, too short or too ungainly to look good in a sari,” he writes. “Indeed if you were stout, or bowlegged, or thick-waisted, nothing concealed those handicaps of nature better than the sari.” I second his opinion.

My mother always wore saris and she attended some top diplomatic functions in them, always a symbol of elegance and dignity. So some years back, after dad s retirement, when she found a new obsession in Punjabi salvar suits, I was visibly aghast. And I protested quite vocally. Thankfully, she still finds saris more comfortable, especially in summers and has reserved the suits only for winters, packing them off when the mercury climbs. I find her matronly, plump and extremely loving frame accentuated by the lovely Indian dress. And the same plumpness assumes a gross and ungainly expression when she wears the suit.

In my own stories I try to keep the heroine dressed in a sari. In my biggest story on this blog, The Independence Day, the heroine (Naina) wore one for a large bulk of the story, sparking off a row of comments by Anks wondering why Naina would dress so, especially since she is shown to stay in the US for a long time, and more so since she has to embark on an important mission. But that s how I had visualized the character, and frankly, during writing, much of Naina’s appeal would have been lost had she not worn a sari. In WTHMTE, the scene where Mamta rips off her pallu challenging the hero to ravage her would have impossibly lost that raw and wild energy had she been in any other attire. And then there is – forgive me for sounding a bit voyeuristic – a heightened sexiness in unfolding the layers of the sari during love-making, which simply cannot be matched by the antiseptic taking off of, for example, a suit or shirt.

If draped properly the sari gives its own character to the wearer. It is a dress where numerous permutations and combinations of designs and colors are permittable, since the visible portion is large and uninterrupted by any creases or cuts. Indeed, the pallu itself can be a strong statement if neatly pinned over the shoulder, in tight folds, it presents a no-nonsense look; if loosely draped, it imparts a careless casualness; if rounded over the back and tucked at the waist, it shows a woman ready to take on the task with single minded devotion; and – in film and story context – just a pallu hung loose and unfolded can convey the emotional blankness much more than any dialogue would!

I know I am romanticizing it all and can almost feel the ladies reading this seething and muttering harshly that I wouldn’t know the uncomfortable impracticalities involved in wearing the apparel in daily routine life. In fact, Tharoor also quotes a lady saying: “Try rushing to catch a bus in a sari, and you’ll switch to jeans the next day.” And possibly that’s why the sari is nearly fading away from everyday lives especially in the cities. I accept the arguments, and admittedly, they are logical and practical as well.

But my appeal, and Tharoor’s as well, to the modern Indian women is that please do not just relegate this beautiful dress only for celebrations and weddings; I am sure a middle way can be found where a day in a week (or a month at least) can be kept to keep the rush out, and possibly relax in a sari I am sure one day in a month wouldn’t be too tough, would it? Let it not be a rare and exotic dress in its own land.

As Tharoor ends his piece, so do I – “Perhaps its time to appeal to the women of India to save the sari from a sorry fate.”

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Chokho Jeeman is a Marwari/Jain Restaurant, thumb on the road leading to Agra’s significant Raja-Ki-Mandi Railway Station, at Delhi Gate, next to Moon TV Network’s office.

Even though I had heard of it earlier, but I visited the place very late, only last Sunday when a friend and colleague took me there for dinner. The restaurant impressed me enough to visit it again this Saturday, and also to write this review.


Ambience
– Excellent! The place is done up with Rajasthani motifs, the brown walls plastered to give an effect of a hut, with intense red and pure white hand painted traditional designs bordering them. At regular intervals Rajasthani dolls and urns are placed to add to the effect. The tables are made of solid bamboo. In addition, they play Rajasthani folk music.

Cleanliness scores a huge point. And all places, be it the bathroom or the washbasin is neatly marked in traditional labels. The only low point is the small space a narrow sliver with two rows of tables.

Food – Delicious! The restaurant works on thaali system, and it offers three options saada thali, ghee thali and Maharaja thaali, all offering unlimited servings. Both times I visited, I ordered the bulky Maharaja thaali and they were extremely fulfilling. Maharaja thaali presents five variety of sabzis (dahi kadi, daal, aloo ki sabzi, matar-paneer and one more traditional variety, usually papad ki sabzi or gatte ki sabzi) along with raita, salad, aachaar, chutney, rice and two sweets. Of course, the rotis including missi roti, dipped liberally in ghee, are unlimited, as also refill of any of the sabzis that you wish.

The taste is wonderful and exciting, not very spicy and the generous use of ghee adds value. The quantity is truly befitting a Maharaja and often a second helping of the sabzis becomes immaterial.

Value for money– Absolutely! At INR 75 the Maharaja Thaali couldn t be better priced. And at INR 50 and 60 respectively, both the Saada Thaali and Ghee Thaali are also modestly priced.

Service – Quick and Efficient! Waiters move about effortlessly, attired in earthy Rajasthani outfits, ready to serve at the slightest gesture.

Overall – A must visit when you are next in Agraand come with an empty stomach, and prepare to skip the next meal!


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For those visiting Kathmandu, oncologist a trip to the restaurant Banchcha Ghar is a must. Housed in a building that is nearly 100 years old off the main Darbar Marg, breast Banchcha Ghar preserves the traditional Newari food in its authenticity. Newaris were the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu valley.

The must haves there are Sukuti (spicy, dried deer meat) and the wild boar dish(slices, served with an array of masalas/salt/mirchi), the preparation of which was one of the best that I ever had.

They seat you on the floor (on soft cushions) with low tables, with shoes off, obviously-on the top floor.

The highlight is a half hour cultural dance program performed by able dancers, who perform the auspicious welcome ‘tikka‘ and also serve you ‘Rakshi‘ – a home made rice-wine that is to be had in one gulp (like the Tequila shot) but served in miniature earthern ware dish. It’s an amazing concoction- it burns and invigorates! Commercial production is banned, and if the restaurants serve it, they do not charge for it. It is supposed to be purely home-made! It is 80% alcohol. You can light/burn it, and place your finger in the middle of the blue flame…I tried it- it was an unique experience! It is almost ‘spirit‘-ual !

Liquor is served, and the tables/cushions are placed comfortably all across the hall, with a strong but colorfully designed canvas roof; the girls (in tradiotional outfits) dance in the space in between…and mind you, it is very decent and sublime and absolutely customary! The dances encapsulate the colorful heritage of various backgrounds of Nepal – the Sherpas, the Gorkhas, and the Newaris etc.

The dinner is on the middle two floors on conventional tables and chairs, but served in old-fashioned thick copper plates and cups, and consists of some sumptuous local cuisines.

A spicy slice of history (on pure hearsay, no facts verified) – when the Muslims invaded the western part of the subcontinent, many Rajput ladies of that section fled to Nepal for refuge; they married the locals, but to maintain their superiority, they served their men with their foot.

I was speechless!

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Shaking off lethargy, visit web and peeling off a silly internal superstition, I decided to let my hair loose today. Consequently, I found myself at my favorite bar-cum-restaurant at Thamel. The internal demons were silent, and I knew a great evening was spread ahead. I could barely conceal my excitement when I poured the refreshing chilled glass of beer.

That done, I started to look around. Now, I have a curious habit of observing people – be it at an airport or at a bar. So, wiping the foam whiskers off after an exceedingly satisfying and gratifying ‘ gulp, I eyed the motely bunch of small crowd in that mildly lit Mexican restaurant. Here is a quick snapshot – exclusive for you, honeykins:

Right next to me sat a morose phirang gentleman- hefty, cleanshaven and pallid as only a Westerner can ever be! To me he looked someone who stayed here – reason being: generally tourists come to bars/restaurants/pubs in a crowd, and this one was all alone – unless, of course, his wife had suddenly developed headache (wink wink) and he could find no other means to release his tension (more wink wink).

Seated across the floor, in a bunch of six, were a rowdy crowd – definitely Indian; and how can I be so sure, you might just wonder my sweet little chilli chicken readers, and very correctly and legitimately so. But, sweeties, let me explain – for this I have two solid reasons: a) only an Indian – that too a Punju or Baniya, specifically- can order for a ‘large Black Label’ in a voice and volume that can be heard not only by the entire floor but also by the passer-bys on the road below leaving no doubt to the premium brand they have ordered b) (and a more logical and saner explanation), Hindi might be known to the locals here, but it’s not their first language, hence when a crowd speaks in one(and also abuses in that) rest assured they are from India…more likely Delhi.

To me, this bunch seemed to stay (and work) here- this, deduced from their comfort with the way they spoke about Kathmandu. Moreover the proper ‘visitors’ to this city were largely the honeymooners or ‘casino’ crowd, and neither would be seen dead at this ‘budget tourist area’ for sure; the former (again largely Punju or Baniya) are noticeable from a distance thanks to the obnoxiously large ‘chooda‘ on the wife’s arms (plus their attempt to be so ‘hep’ at hugging each other in public thinking themselves them to be the heirs to Govinda and Karishma, dahlings); in any case, I would expect them to do something more productive at this time of the slightly chilly day than waste time in a bar, unless they were specifically of the variety that landed on my blog googling ‘what to do on wedding night’!

Next to this bunch of Indians were another anaemic phirang group- not much of an interest, except that the girl seemed to give Jassi a tough competition in ‘unsexiness’ (that is, in Jassi’s previous avatar). If any one had in passing mentioned boiled karela; at that time, huns, I would have vociferously pointed towards her!

Now, I come to this couple- seated bang opposite me, and whom I devoted a considerable time. Obviously, they were some ‘hot’ couple, and didn’t really know how to control their ‘heat’. Call me a prude or whatever, but an obsessive public display of affection always makes me tad uncomfortable (even with the beer settling down homely within me!)- and here the girl just seemed to seize any opportunity to plant a kiss on the embarrassed man at the drop of a …salsa. As for him – how to describe him – well, he looked like Kulbhushan Kharbanda landed in straight from the sets of Shaan ( if you haven’t seen this Ramesh Sippy dud, too bad for you), and the girl? Well, the girl was…to put it mildly, a picture perfect resemblance of any lady from a centerspread of a Malaysian/Singaporian porn magazine (now, now, dahlings, don’t raise that beautifully tweaked eyebrow of yours … how I know about them, is not the core point of this post, and we shall pass on this). Retrospectively, I realize that the man had a nose that was longer than the Italian geography, but, honestly sweethearts, I don’t think it really gave the girl any rights to pull at it as often as Italians make their pastas- I almost thought it will fall into the un-recognizable cocktail that he sipped with the speed of …err…Sonia Gandhi making her decision!

In between, this lady excused herself to go to the loo. Ordinary, mundane, natural- you might think, why has DJ gone crazy to mention about it even…but dahlings, the lady was gone for some twenty odd minutes!!! Yep, you read it right, and no need to wipe your eyes or glasses…twenty long minutes! Seriously, even our Kulbhushan Kharbanda guy was more than worried- hopping as if he had just seen Amitabh and Shashi Kapoor peeing on his pet alligators (again, if you haven’t seen the movie- a pity, for the joke is lost on you irretrievably) And when she returned, she just shuffled uncomfortably in her seat, pulled at the man’s nose a bit more and kissed him yet again – a hazaar naughty thoughts rampaged my poor beer drenched brain!

Sigh, I just shook my head and returned to what I was doing prior to she left – now, now cherrykins, don’t think of something naughty for me, I was just playing on the ‘Rallypro’ game on my newly acquired Nokia 3230 – a foolish attempt to better the score of my nephew so that he doesn’t he call his ‘mama’ a techno-illeterate again…come to think of, ‘mama’ is such a cute word (since I luv my dahling nephews to death, it sounds even more sweet from them), and is infinitely better than the pathetic English equivalent -‘Uncle’! Given the Indian context, I would just bury myself in the nearest pyramid (ok, make that ‘stupa’ to give cultural relevance) if they called me that – sweeties, I am not that old to be called an ‘uncle’, am I? More so, considering that one fine evening I realized that a couple of my readers here are younger to my eldest nephew! Yiipes!!

Well, with my two beers over, I paid the bill and walked off – yet nothing seemed to have changed – the girl was still pulling that man’s nose; the Indians were still ‘talking’ as Punjus can only do, and the morose man was still contemplating on his next course of action…hic

Cheers!

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(I wrote this at the airport before departure; I am reproducing this piece, order view without editing or changing the tense and sequence. I had thought I would get time in Mumbai to post it, information pills anesthetist but it was quite hectic and jam-packed, page salve hence, could not…)

I am waiting at the airport writing this post; by the time it reaches you, I would be in Mumbai, sucked irrevocably in a slush of meetings.

Hell, I always get the timing wrong- the last time I was stuck at a lengthy immigration counter, and caught the plane nearly the sameway as one catches a DTC bus at rush hours! This time, chastened, I have reached airport earlier; lo, it’s absolutely empty- had my coffee, loitered at the duty free, done my immigration, over with the security check…and still have some one hour to spare. The sequential number on my boarding pass wickedly grins that I was the first to check in.

I love traveling; but I hate packing. It has been a bane with me right from the start, and I always end up missing a vital piece everytime. I am also amazed at the abilities of some to carry miniature bags and then see them wearing business suits and heavy woolens- how did they manage to stuff them in that bonsai of a bag? I am convinced, packing is an art too, and I am no Picasso there! I am getting this queasy feeling that I have packed a blue suit, but am possibly carrying only brown socks! Shucks!

Those of who have been following the blog for the past three months regularly would know the amount of traveling that I have done- so much so, I can almost feel wings on my shoulders… and because of this, would also understand that packing this way has assumed epic epidemic proportions for me!

Though going to India, I am certainly not looking towards this trip.

Three strong reasons are: a) The itinerary mailed is way too ambitious for the short two days b) it’s a business review meet- and you all know what that means! c) The travel agent has done a major goof up on my return ticket- so will have to run around and blow off my head in front of a few to get it corrected.

A horrendously egregious voice is making some announcement at this moment in a language that I can vaguely recognize as being English once upon time- it is not even a Nepali accent…it is a Nepali trying to give an American accent in English! What a combination! And the voice? Has Sapna Awasthi actually jumped into her kuan and started making airport announcements?

The crowd is trickling in- but that is because there are three flights almost back to back for departure in the next couple of hours. Dan Brown would be pleased to see the crowd- at least five different passengers, from various backgrounds and colors, are reading Da Vinci Code. As for me, well, IBM…are you listening?

Well, there is a motely bunch of passengers in various sizes, shapes and stages of boredom here…a bald man is rapidly firing away at his dull looking wife, who seems to be in a chronic state of hair disorder; a grouchy chinky is reading Dalai Lama’s Art of Happiness- hope it does him good, its an art that he definitely requires seeing his sad face; a bearded Frenchie is chewing away at his gum (Americanised, eh?) with such vigor as if gums will be extinct tomorrow; an Indian lady shoves her way through the security guard thinking the plane would possibly leave without her (never mind, it has not even arrived as yet), and the hapless guard and her husband follow her meekly; and…YIPES….sorry to frighten you sweeties, but a local lady has started breast feeding her baby- a live Ram Teri Ganga Maili show? And, the expression on her face is not dissimilar to the blankness of Mandakini. Ok, relax you perverts, she is otherwise quite discreet, and nothing is…er…ahem… ‘seen‘ that way!

Anyways, got to go now; if the chinky sitting next to me is going to yawn every half a minute, wish he had brushed his teeth as well.

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(I wrote this at the airport before departure; I am reproducing this piece, order view without editing or changing the tense and sequence. I had thought I would get time in Mumbai to post it, information pills anesthetist but it was quite hectic and jam-packed, page salve hence, could not…)

I am waiting at the airport writing this post; by the time it reaches you, I would be in Mumbai, sucked irrevocably in a slush of meetings.

Hell, I always get the timing wrong- the last time I was stuck at a lengthy immigration counter, and caught the plane nearly the sameway as one catches a DTC bus at rush hours! This time, chastened, I have reached airport earlier; lo, it’s absolutely empty- had my coffee, loitered at the duty free, done my immigration, over with the security check…and still have some one hour to spare. The sequential number on my boarding pass wickedly grins that I was the first to check in.

I love traveling; but I hate packing. It has been a bane with me right from the start, and I always end up missing a vital piece everytime. I am also amazed at the abilities of some to carry miniature bags and then see them wearing business suits and heavy woolens- how did they manage to stuff them in that bonsai of a bag? I am convinced, packing is an art too, and I am no Picasso there! I am getting this queasy feeling that I have packed a blue suit, but am possibly carrying only brown socks! Shucks!

Those of who have been following the blog for the past three months regularly would know the amount of traveling that I have done- so much so, I can almost feel wings on my shoulders… and because of this, would also understand that packing this way has assumed epic epidemic proportions for me!

Though going to India, I am certainly not looking towards this trip.

Three strong reasons are: a) The itinerary mailed is way too ambitious for the short two days b) it’s a business review meet- and you all know what that means! c) The travel agent has done a major goof up on my return ticket- so will have to run around and blow off my head in front of a few to get it corrected.

A horrendously egregious voice is making some announcement at this moment in a language that I can vaguely recognize as being English once upon time- it is not even a Nepali accent…it is a Nepali trying to give an American accent in English! What a combination! And the voice? Has Sapna Awasthi actually jumped into her kuan and started making airport announcements?

The crowd is trickling in- but that is because there are three flights almost back to back for departure in the next couple of hours. Dan Brown would be pleased to see the crowd- at least five different passengers, from various backgrounds and colors, are reading Da Vinci Code. As for me, well, IBM…are you listening?

Well, there is a motely bunch of passengers in various sizes, shapes and stages of boredom here…a bald man is rapidly firing away at his dull looking wife, who seems to be in a chronic state of hair disorder; a grouchy chinky is reading Dalai Lama’s Art of Happiness- hope it does him good, its an art that he definitely requires seeing his sad face; a bearded Frenchie is chewing away at his gum (Americanised, eh?) with such vigor as if gums will be extinct tomorrow; an Indian lady shoves her way through the security guard thinking the plane would possibly leave without her (never mind, it has not even arrived as yet), and the hapless guard and her husband follow her meekly; and…YIPES….sorry to frighten you sweeties, but a local lady has started breast feeding her baby- a live Ram Teri Ganga Maili show? And, the expression on her face is not dissimilar to the blankness of Mandakini. Ok, relax you perverts, she is otherwise quite discreet, and nothing is…er…ahem… ‘seen‘ that way!

Anyways, got to go now; if the chinky sitting next to me is going to yawn every half a minute, wish he had brushed his teeth as well.

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Film Review

A day in the lives of Mr. Wood and Mr. Grumpy (with Ms. Hefty thrown in) is what sums up this short but fairly interesting film. Milan Luthria moves several notches upwards from Deewar and Chori Chori, pharm but does not still encompass the flourish exhibited in his debut Kachhe Dhaage. In principle Taxi 9211 is much like that film- two men from extreme strata of society meet, troche and their destines intertwine making them realize about some harsh realities of life.

The story is quite nice, and I won’t reveal it here leaving the viewers to discover it – that’s the fun of watching the film.

As a film, it is not a spectacular work – neither ostentiously esoteric nor overtly compelling. Much of the film is left back in the theaters like the thrown away pop-corn packet. There is nothing urging enough to go back to stand in ticket queues to have another look. Yet, there is nothing wrong with the film while it unspools its content on screen. In fact, time passes pretty fast in theater.

Milan Luthria is competent in building up tension – especially the chase/run sequences. The thrill is evident in majority scenes. Plus, keeping the length close to two hours was his major USP – he makes it beefy enough cutting out loose fat. Also, the script works hard on the two protagonists – character delianation, in, what is primarily an action film, is strong, yet subtle and seething.

Performances are good – and Sonali Kulkarni, playing a typical Maharashtrian housewife, is the best, followed very closely by Nana Patekar. Scenes between the two are the most interesting ones. Though Patekar retains his grumpiness, yet he manages to put in such subtle facial expressions that only a seasoned actor can portray. A small example – do watch the scene carefully when John is pushing him to drive the taxi faster. Just a small twitch on the face conveys Patekar’s fear of fast speed excellently!

John Abraham and Sameera Reddy are quite ok. But what in good heavens has Reddy done to herself – she looked stocky and overweight!

There is a small surprise packet in the end. After Sameera’s ‘heavy’ presence, this surprise comes as a breeze of fresh air.

Production is extremely slick; dialogues are pithy; music fits into the narrative (though that scream in background score jars the ears); and cinematography is A-class – shot entirely in Mumbai, it gives a remarkable collage of the city. Sanjay Dutt’s voice-over in the intial scenes gels well.

Overall: Good Timepass

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(I wrote this at the airport before departure; I am reproducing this piece, order view without editing or changing the tense and sequence. I had thought I would get time in Mumbai to post it, information pills anesthetist but it was quite hectic and jam-packed, page salve hence, could not…)

I am waiting at the airport writing this post; by the time it reaches you, I would be in Mumbai, sucked irrevocably in a slush of meetings.

Hell, I always get the timing wrong- the last time I was stuck at a lengthy immigration counter, and caught the plane nearly the sameway as one catches a DTC bus at rush hours! This time, chastened, I have reached airport earlier; lo, it’s absolutely empty- had my coffee, loitered at the duty free, done my immigration, over with the security check…and still have some one hour to spare. The sequential number on my boarding pass wickedly grins that I was the first to check in.

I love traveling; but I hate packing. It has been a bane with me right from the start, and I always end up missing a vital piece everytime. I am also amazed at the abilities of some to carry miniature bags and then see them wearing business suits and heavy woolens- how did they manage to stuff them in that bonsai of a bag? I am convinced, packing is an art too, and I am no Picasso there! I am getting this queasy feeling that I have packed a blue suit, but am possibly carrying only brown socks! Shucks!

Those of who have been following the blog for the past three months regularly would know the amount of traveling that I have done- so much so, I can almost feel wings on my shoulders… and because of this, would also understand that packing this way has assumed epic epidemic proportions for me!

Though going to India, I am certainly not looking towards this trip.

Three strong reasons are: a) The itinerary mailed is way too ambitious for the short two days b) it’s a business review meet- and you all know what that means! c) The travel agent has done a major goof up on my return ticket- so will have to run around and blow off my head in front of a few to get it corrected.

A horrendously egregious voice is making some announcement at this moment in a language that I can vaguely recognize as being English once upon time- it is not even a Nepali accent…it is a Nepali trying to give an American accent in English! What a combination! And the voice? Has Sapna Awasthi actually jumped into her kuan and started making airport announcements?

The crowd is trickling in- but that is because there are three flights almost back to back for departure in the next couple of hours. Dan Brown would be pleased to see the crowd- at least five different passengers, from various backgrounds and colors, are reading Da Vinci Code. As for me, well, IBM…are you listening?

Well, there is a motely bunch of passengers in various sizes, shapes and stages of boredom here…a bald man is rapidly firing away at his dull looking wife, who seems to be in a chronic state of hair disorder; a grouchy chinky is reading Dalai Lama’s Art of Happiness- hope it does him good, its an art that he definitely requires seeing his sad face; a bearded Frenchie is chewing away at his gum (Americanised, eh?) with such vigor as if gums will be extinct tomorrow; an Indian lady shoves her way through the security guard thinking the plane would possibly leave without her (never mind, it has not even arrived as yet), and the hapless guard and her husband follow her meekly; and…YIPES….sorry to frighten you sweeties, but a local lady has started breast feeding her baby- a live Ram Teri Ganga Maili show? And, the expression on her face is not dissimilar to the blankness of Mandakini. Ok, relax you perverts, she is otherwise quite discreet, and nothing is…er…ahem… ‘seen‘ that way!

Anyways, got to go now; if the chinky sitting next to me is going to yawn every half a minute, wish he had brushed his teeth as well.

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Film Review

A day in the lives of Mr. Wood and Mr. Grumpy (with Ms. Hefty thrown in) is what sums up this short but fairly interesting film. Milan Luthria moves several notches upwards from Deewar and Chori Chori, pharm but does not still encompass the flourish exhibited in his debut Kachhe Dhaage. In principle Taxi 9211 is much like that film- two men from extreme strata of society meet, troche and their destines intertwine making them realize about some harsh realities of life.

The story is quite nice, and I won’t reveal it here leaving the viewers to discover it – that’s the fun of watching the film.

As a film, it is not a spectacular work – neither ostentiously esoteric nor overtly compelling. Much of the film is left back in the theaters like the thrown away pop-corn packet. There is nothing urging enough to go back to stand in ticket queues to have another look. Yet, there is nothing wrong with the film while it unspools its content on screen. In fact, time passes pretty fast in theater.

Milan Luthria is competent in building up tension – especially the chase/run sequences. The thrill is evident in majority scenes. Plus, keeping the length close to two hours was his major USP – he makes it beefy enough cutting out loose fat. Also, the script works hard on the two protagonists – character delianation, in, what is primarily an action film, is strong, yet subtle and seething.

Performances are good – and Sonali Kulkarni, playing a typical Maharashtrian housewife, is the best, followed very closely by Nana Patekar. Scenes between the two are the most interesting ones. Though Patekar retains his grumpiness, yet he manages to put in such subtle facial expressions that only a seasoned actor can portray. A small example – do watch the scene carefully when John is pushing him to drive the taxi faster. Just a small twitch on the face conveys Patekar’s fear of fast speed excellently!

John Abraham and Sameera Reddy are quite ok. But what in good heavens has Reddy done to herself – she looked stocky and overweight!

There is a small surprise packet in the end. After Sameera’s ‘heavy’ presence, this surprise comes as a breeze of fresh air.

Production is extremely slick; dialogues are pithy; music fits into the narrative (though that scream in background score jars the ears); and cinematography is A-class – shot entirely in Mumbai, it gives a remarkable collage of the city. Sanjay Dutt’s voice-over in the intial scenes gels well.

Overall: Good Timepass

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Film Review

Ex-rediff staffer and writer Suparn Verma makes his directorial debut. His roster of writings includes Chhal and Karam, sales definitely not the ‘feel-good’ films. In addition, sildenafil he also has the dubious claim of scripting the insipid Janasheen. Had I known this background, information pills I would have avoided EKEH at an arm’s length. Anyways, I had the (mis)chance to watch this ‘thriller’ first day (third show) in a nearly empty theater (if this was the state on first day, only a miracle can save this film; and that miracle will not be ‘word-of-mouth’ publicity for sure!).

The film opens on similar lines as Musafir – a conman inadvertently cheats a don’s henchman; and the don gives him a few days to return his money – so what’s the common DVD source for both? Thereafter, the film takes on a path full of turns, leaving at times the audience baffled as whom to believe. In that essence, the film works. Plus, the cons are better written and executed than Bunty aur Bubli. But the end-twist is so contrived, it just does not hold water – especially in light of some events shown previously.

Suparn uses all clichés of the post-modern noir genre (Sanjay Gupta-style); quick cuts; stylish look; rhythmic songs; black humor and dark characters that have no respect for law.

Koena Mitra cannot act. Period. I have yet to come across a face this wooden. The only emotion I noticed was a look of immense smugness (of having crossed the sides) when three item girls (Rakhi Sawant, Mummait Khan and one more) come on to do ‘Ankhiyan na maar bairi’. For all hype revolving this song featuring not one but three item girls, only the song’s ‘mukhda‘ is used.

Fardeen, like the film, is good in patches. But as ever, the delight is Kay Kay – his trademark in the film ‘hey-lo’ will be a hit! I cannot understand Suparn’s obsession to re-create Janasheen‘s character Saba Ali Karim into Jahangir Khan and then have an utterly obnoxious Feroze Khan to play the part as well -yet again!!! Thankfully, his part is minor and the irritation is reigned in to a large level! The other supporting cast (Mukul Dev, Gulshan Grover, Sharad Kapoor and Rohit Roy) are adequate.

Pritam’s music is energetic; I don’t understand it, so I will refrain to comment. But pray, what made him lift Top Gun’s theme for the opening sequence?

On my part, I prefer the old Raj Kapoor and Yash Chopra style of story narration. In modern context, only Sanjay Leela Bhansali is following that tradition to the T. Perhaps I should watch the languid but delightfully narrated Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam DVD to counter the jerkiness left by EKEH.

Overall: So-so; strictly for this genre’s afficiondos; please do not take your kids along!

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(I wrote this at the airport before departure; I am reproducing this piece, order view without editing or changing the tense and sequence. I had thought I would get time in Mumbai to post it, information pills anesthetist but it was quite hectic and jam-packed, page salve hence, could not…)

I am waiting at the airport writing this post; by the time it reaches you, I would be in Mumbai, sucked irrevocably in a slush of meetings.

Hell, I always get the timing wrong- the last time I was stuck at a lengthy immigration counter, and caught the plane nearly the sameway as one catches a DTC bus at rush hours! This time, chastened, I have reached airport earlier; lo, it’s absolutely empty- had my coffee, loitered at the duty free, done my immigration, over with the security check…and still have some one hour to spare. The sequential number on my boarding pass wickedly grins that I was the first to check in.

I love traveling; but I hate packing. It has been a bane with me right from the start, and I always end up missing a vital piece everytime. I am also amazed at the abilities of some to carry miniature bags and then see them wearing business suits and heavy woolens- how did they manage to stuff them in that bonsai of a bag? I am convinced, packing is an art too, and I am no Picasso there! I am getting this queasy feeling that I have packed a blue suit, but am possibly carrying only brown socks! Shucks!

Those of who have been following the blog for the past three months regularly would know the amount of traveling that I have done- so much so, I can almost feel wings on my shoulders… and because of this, would also understand that packing this way has assumed epic epidemic proportions for me!

Though going to India, I am certainly not looking towards this trip.

Three strong reasons are: a) The itinerary mailed is way too ambitious for the short two days b) it’s a business review meet- and you all know what that means! c) The travel agent has done a major goof up on my return ticket- so will have to run around and blow off my head in front of a few to get it corrected.

A horrendously egregious voice is making some announcement at this moment in a language that I can vaguely recognize as being English once upon time- it is not even a Nepali accent…it is a Nepali trying to give an American accent in English! What a combination! And the voice? Has Sapna Awasthi actually jumped into her kuan and started making airport announcements?

The crowd is trickling in- but that is because there are three flights almost back to back for departure in the next couple of hours. Dan Brown would be pleased to see the crowd- at least five different passengers, from various backgrounds and colors, are reading Da Vinci Code. As for me, well, IBM…are you listening?

Well, there is a motely bunch of passengers in various sizes, shapes and stages of boredom here…a bald man is rapidly firing away at his dull looking wife, who seems to be in a chronic state of hair disorder; a grouchy chinky is reading Dalai Lama’s Art of Happiness- hope it does him good, its an art that he definitely requires seeing his sad face; a bearded Frenchie is chewing away at his gum (Americanised, eh?) with such vigor as if gums will be extinct tomorrow; an Indian lady shoves her way through the security guard thinking the plane would possibly leave without her (never mind, it has not even arrived as yet), and the hapless guard and her husband follow her meekly; and…YIPES….sorry to frighten you sweeties, but a local lady has started breast feeding her baby- a live Ram Teri Ganga Maili show? And, the expression on her face is not dissimilar to the blankness of Mandakini. Ok, relax you perverts, she is otherwise quite discreet, and nothing is…er…ahem… ‘seen‘ that way!

Anyways, got to go now; if the chinky sitting next to me is going to yawn every half a minute, wish he had brushed his teeth as well.

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Film Review

A day in the lives of Mr. Wood and Mr. Grumpy (with Ms. Hefty thrown in) is what sums up this short but fairly interesting film. Milan Luthria moves several notches upwards from Deewar and Chori Chori, pharm but does not still encompass the flourish exhibited in his debut Kachhe Dhaage. In principle Taxi 9211 is much like that film- two men from extreme strata of society meet, troche and their destines intertwine making them realize about some harsh realities of life.

The story is quite nice, and I won’t reveal it here leaving the viewers to discover it – that’s the fun of watching the film.

As a film, it is not a spectacular work – neither ostentiously esoteric nor overtly compelling. Much of the film is left back in the theaters like the thrown away pop-corn packet. There is nothing urging enough to go back to stand in ticket queues to have another look. Yet, there is nothing wrong with the film while it unspools its content on screen. In fact, time passes pretty fast in theater.

Milan Luthria is competent in building up tension – especially the chase/run sequences. The thrill is evident in majority scenes. Plus, keeping the length close to two hours was his major USP – he makes it beefy enough cutting out loose fat. Also, the script works hard on the two protagonists – character delianation, in, what is primarily an action film, is strong, yet subtle and seething.

Performances are good – and Sonali Kulkarni, playing a typical Maharashtrian housewife, is the best, followed very closely by Nana Patekar. Scenes between the two are the most interesting ones. Though Patekar retains his grumpiness, yet he manages to put in such subtle facial expressions that only a seasoned actor can portray. A small example – do watch the scene carefully when John is pushing him to drive the taxi faster. Just a small twitch on the face conveys Patekar’s fear of fast speed excellently!

John Abraham and Sameera Reddy are quite ok. But what in good heavens has Reddy done to herself – she looked stocky and overweight!

There is a small surprise packet in the end. After Sameera’s ‘heavy’ presence, this surprise comes as a breeze of fresh air.

Production is extremely slick; dialogues are pithy; music fits into the narrative (though that scream in background score jars the ears); and cinematography is A-class – shot entirely in Mumbai, it gives a remarkable collage of the city. Sanjay Dutt’s voice-over in the intial scenes gels well.

Overall: Good Timepass

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Film Review

Ex-rediff staffer and writer Suparn Verma makes his directorial debut. His roster of writings includes Chhal and Karam, sales definitely not the ‘feel-good’ films. In addition, sildenafil he also has the dubious claim of scripting the insipid Janasheen. Had I known this background, information pills I would have avoided EKEH at an arm’s length. Anyways, I had the (mis)chance to watch this ‘thriller’ first day (third show) in a nearly empty theater (if this was the state on first day, only a miracle can save this film; and that miracle will not be ‘word-of-mouth’ publicity for sure!).

The film opens on similar lines as Musafir – a conman inadvertently cheats a don’s henchman; and the don gives him a few days to return his money – so what’s the common DVD source for both? Thereafter, the film takes on a path full of turns, leaving at times the audience baffled as whom to believe. In that essence, the film works. Plus, the cons are better written and executed than Bunty aur Bubli. But the end-twist is so contrived, it just does not hold water – especially in light of some events shown previously.

Suparn uses all clichés of the post-modern noir genre (Sanjay Gupta-style); quick cuts; stylish look; rhythmic songs; black humor and dark characters that have no respect for law.

Koena Mitra cannot act. Period. I have yet to come across a face this wooden. The only emotion I noticed was a look of immense smugness (of having crossed the sides) when three item girls (Rakhi Sawant, Mummait Khan and one more) come on to do ‘Ankhiyan na maar bairi’. For all hype revolving this song featuring not one but three item girls, only the song’s ‘mukhda‘ is used.

Fardeen, like the film, is good in patches. But as ever, the delight is Kay Kay – his trademark in the film ‘hey-lo’ will be a hit! I cannot understand Suparn’s obsession to re-create Janasheen‘s character Saba Ali Karim into Jahangir Khan and then have an utterly obnoxious Feroze Khan to play the part as well -yet again!!! Thankfully, his part is minor and the irritation is reigned in to a large level! The other supporting cast (Mukul Dev, Gulshan Grover, Sharad Kapoor and Rohit Roy) are adequate.

Pritam’s music is energetic; I don’t understand it, so I will refrain to comment. But pray, what made him lift Top Gun’s theme for the opening sequence?

On my part, I prefer the old Raj Kapoor and Yash Chopra style of story narration. In modern context, only Sanjay Leela Bhansali is following that tradition to the T. Perhaps I should watch the languid but delightfully narrated Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam DVD to counter the jerkiness left by EKEH.

Overall: So-so; strictly for this genre’s afficiondos; please do not take your kids along!

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Film Review

You would have known ‘impulse buying’; we all indulge in it at some stage or the other. But have you heard of ‘impulse movie watching’? If no, cardiology then I take credit for creating this new marketing mantra. (Err, buy hope you do not think me to be mentally as imbalanced as the film’s hero).

I had gone for a meeting; it was near Jai Cinema. On impulse, I walked into the theater to watch Kyunki. Ever since its release, I wanted to view it. At home every one vetoed the idea. No one wanted to see a depressing film during Diwali. (I guess that has been the film’s biggest folly. People flocked to see the utterly soporific Shaadi No One, but avoided this one). And by now it is too late to salvage its fate. The hall was fifty percent empty when I saw the movie today.

Kyunki disturbed me – especially it’s ending. It came as a shocker. If I am prepared for tragic ends, I can enjoy the film in entirety better (as was the case with Tere Naam). In this one I was not, so I was left groping with the sheer magnitude of emotional disintegration in the film’s denouement. Worse, the director kept the flow cleverly hidden; it seemed to be moving towards a happy end, when it suddenly sverved its path.

Another point – a tragic finale like QSQT has a sense of finality. There is no more life there. Hence the story ends, and it is easy to swallow. But in both Tere Naam and Kyunki, life does not end. There is a trailing residue, which makes you think about the remaining character(s). It rankles and this leaves me dismally distressed.

My main reason for watching Kyunki was – hold your breath -Salman Khan. I like him quite a lot – there I have said it, phew! Now lynch me if you want to, but I stand by my view. Single-handedly Salman has built a distinct genre away from Chopra-Johar’s fluff or RGV-Sanjay Gupta grittiness or sex-flicks (three major distinctions these days). He has not worked with any major directors (even Priyadarshan is not really up there like a Yash Chopra in Bollywood power schemes); neither do they have top-notch commercial music directors (Well, Himesh came up due to his films). His are purely ‘Salman Khan’ films – and barring an odd Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha (which should have ended with Priety’s death) or Garv here and there, they have been largely good; perhaps not great cinema, but certainly enjoyable and worth money spent watching them.

And then I like Priyadarshan – I had even enjoyed his DoliSajake Rakhna, apart from his regular acclaimed works like Virasat and Hungama. So, I had an inclination that Priyadarshan-Salman Khan combination cannot go very wrong. And I was correct.

Another vital point in enjoying a film is the ‘viewing’ itself, and there I will give myself credit. Generally, a complete submission to the director’s lead is necessary. The film can make you think, or stir emotions or both with its visuals, but one should not ‘think’ in terms of what will happen next and try to outsmart the director. In that sense, Bollywood has a perfect viewer (and if imitation is the best form of flattery, then an imitator as well – wait till you read my next story ;))

Now coming to the movie per se – it definitely has flaws and loopholes (especially, medical fraternity might be concerned about the ‘treatments’ depicted, plus lots of artificiality strewn in). But its positive moments are more replesendent than the blackness of the horrible ones. A large bulk is devoted to mental asylum scenes, especially in the first half. They are entertaining, and largely light-hearted. One which I liked is that Salman sees Om Puri for the first time, he imagines him in a ‘rock-star’ get up. This makes way for a logical ‘disco’ style imagined song a few minutes later. Others like his ‘medicine swallow act’ and other outsmart the doctors evoke natural smile.

There are some subtle delianations in the bunch of mentally challenged characters, not stated but clearly visible – the ‘god-fearing’ pundit and his remark ‘yahan bhagwaan kahan hai‘ is one; the ‘affluent gang’ syndrome and pompousness and self importance associated with it is another. Of course, the package has some corny ones as well – naming them as Abdul, Michael and Pundit was a lame attempt at depicting secularism; and one joke as old as the hills needed to be chopped off at the writing stage itself!

Some motifs, like the patient no ’36’ echo through out the film. I also liked the way Dr Tanvi first ‘sees’ Anand (not eating his medicine, and then doing tomfoolery at the exercise pad); it came out very naturally, without any shenanigans.

The script is interesting. A casually thrown in point, reverberates at some other point, making you re-think on that aspect again. The ‘vegetable’ comatose patient is the best example I can offer, as also the ‘fly’ motif. Also, the entire flashback portion with Rimii Sen is cleverly done -especially her playful fibs, which also leads to her death (a take off on the childhood story about the shepherd who cried ‘wolf’ more than necessarily; when the wolf actually arrives, no one takes him seriously).

In character delianation also Priyadarshan uses subtlety. Dr Tanvi’s emotional vulnerability looks odd, but gets justified due to the climax. Even Dr Khurana’s strictness is assigned an emotionally valid reason, also making you think whether it was sort of irony to have him run a mental asylum! Every character introduced (down to the security guard) is used somewhere, and not dropped off or forgotten mid-way – which reminds me to point out that the ‘confrontation-between-Dr Khurana-and-security-guard’ piece was the most pathetic scene in the entire film. Was Priyadarshan off that day?

I feel the film required more tautness. It should have been a pithy two hour fare, retaining the top ten tender/smiling moments of first half, and the best tragic/dramatic content of the second. This I sensed from the fact that by the time flashback ended, I was waiting for the interval to come up. A viewer should not wait for that, which is why I say that more editing was required.

The film is a remake of a Malyalam film, if I am not terribly wrong. But it has light shades of the old Khamoshi (especially Dr Tanvi’s emotional attachment to patients’ portion – but that’s about it I guess because here she falls completely in love with Anand, which some found jerky, but it’s ok and quite expected- again, my point they could have reduced first half to make for this part longer). How much of One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest is present, I cannot say as I haven’t seen that classic.

Of performances, it is Salman’s show all the way. And he delivers. His ‘mad’ act is innocent, tender, child-like and endearing. His normal self is charming. In the ‘demand-for-music-in-the-ward’ scene (otherwise, quite a loud and a stretched one), he does some heavy-duty speed-faster-than-train dialogue delivery. Barring a fleeting shot, he retains his clothes (which makes his third film in a row this way – time to change clichés, I guess!).

What has Jackie Shroff done to his self? He looked very old and haggard, and the beard-get up did not help either. But he has given a straight-from-the-heart performance: no great shakes, but more than adequate! Rimii looks lovely and fits the part, though her Bengali accent showed up quite badly.

Now, here’s about my pet peeve: Kareena. Priyadarshan is a smart person. In both films (Hulchul and Kyunki), he has given her parts that are largely ‘reactive’ – hence she does not have to work too hard, and is ok. There was one scene where she could have risen from average to great (when she learns about Salman’s impending departure from the asylum) – unfortunately, on the day of the shoot she brought the entire pigsty with her, and offers viewers the biggest chunk of ham ever! Otherwise, looks-wise she looks ravishing, and sarees really suit her, and so does ‘anger’!

For a film that is emotional in content, the sound design was fantabulous. I really noticed sounds, music, echoes and thumps in their full stereophonic splendor. Generally with this theme, it’s quite flat.

The colors are bright. Cinematography is first-class. Locales are eye-candy and soothing – both in India and abroad.

Himesh Reshammaiya’s music – as Subhash K Jha put it in Filmfare – is ‘positively familiar’; and I will highlight the word ‘positively’. I don’t care much for his modern sounds or beats (as in Aashiq Banaya Aapne), but his traditional stuff is really hummable. He is doing what even Nadeem Shravan have forgotten to do – nice simple tunes with good simple orchestra. Though Kyunki’s music is below Tere Naam overall, yet it stands tall amongst today’s ‘techno-heave-ho’ stuff!

To a sum up, it might not be the best movie this year, but in my honest opinion it did not deserve to be discarded so thoughtlessly as it has been!

Overall: Watchable

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(I wrote this at the airport before departure; I am reproducing this piece, order view without editing or changing the tense and sequence. I had thought I would get time in Mumbai to post it, information pills anesthetist but it was quite hectic and jam-packed, page salve hence, could not…)

I am waiting at the airport writing this post; by the time it reaches you, I would be in Mumbai, sucked irrevocably in a slush of meetings.

Hell, I always get the timing wrong- the last time I was stuck at a lengthy immigration counter, and caught the plane nearly the sameway as one catches a DTC bus at rush hours! This time, chastened, I have reached airport earlier; lo, it’s absolutely empty- had my coffee, loitered at the duty free, done my immigration, over with the security check…and still have some one hour to spare. The sequential number on my boarding pass wickedly grins that I was the first to check in.

I love traveling; but I hate packing. It has been a bane with me right from the start, and I always end up missing a vital piece everytime. I am also amazed at the abilities of some to carry miniature bags and then see them wearing business suits and heavy woolens- how did they manage to stuff them in that bonsai of a bag? I am convinced, packing is an art too, and I am no Picasso there! I am getting this queasy feeling that I have packed a blue suit, but am possibly carrying only brown socks! Shucks!

Those of who have been following the blog for the past three months regularly would know the amount of traveling that I have done- so much so, I can almost feel wings on my shoulders… and because of this, would also understand that packing this way has assumed epic epidemic proportions for me!

Though going to India, I am certainly not looking towards this trip.

Three strong reasons are: a) The itinerary mailed is way too ambitious for the short two days b) it’s a business review meet- and you all know what that means! c) The travel agent has done a major goof up on my return ticket- so will have to run around and blow off my head in front of a few to get it corrected.

A horrendously egregious voice is making some announcement at this moment in a language that I can vaguely recognize as being English once upon time- it is not even a Nepali accent…it is a Nepali trying to give an American accent in English! What a combination! And the voice? Has Sapna Awasthi actually jumped into her kuan and started making airport announcements?

The crowd is trickling in- but that is because there are three flights almost back to back for departure in the next couple of hours. Dan Brown would be pleased to see the crowd- at least five different passengers, from various backgrounds and colors, are reading Da Vinci Code. As for me, well, IBM…are you listening?

Well, there is a motely bunch of passengers in various sizes, shapes and stages of boredom here…a bald man is rapidly firing away at his dull looking wife, who seems to be in a chronic state of hair disorder; a grouchy chinky is reading Dalai Lama’s Art of Happiness- hope it does him good, its an art that he definitely requires seeing his sad face; a bearded Frenchie is chewing away at his gum (Americanised, eh?) with such vigor as if gums will be extinct tomorrow; an Indian lady shoves her way through the security guard thinking the plane would possibly leave without her (never mind, it has not even arrived as yet), and the hapless guard and her husband follow her meekly; and…YIPES….sorry to frighten you sweeties, but a local lady has started breast feeding her baby- a live Ram Teri Ganga Maili show? And, the expression on her face is not dissimilar to the blankness of Mandakini. Ok, relax you perverts, she is otherwise quite discreet, and nothing is…er…ahem… ‘seen‘ that way!

Anyways, got to go now; if the chinky sitting next to me is going to yawn every half a minute, wish he had brushed his teeth as well.

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Film Review

A day in the lives of Mr. Wood and Mr. Grumpy (with Ms. Hefty thrown in) is what sums up this short but fairly interesting film. Milan Luthria moves several notches upwards from Deewar and Chori Chori, pharm but does not still encompass the flourish exhibited in his debut Kachhe Dhaage. In principle Taxi 9211 is much like that film- two men from extreme strata of society meet, troche and their destines intertwine making them realize about some harsh realities of life.

The story is quite nice, and I won’t reveal it here leaving the viewers to discover it – that’s the fun of watching the film.

As a film, it is not a spectacular work – neither ostentiously esoteric nor overtly compelling. Much of the film is left back in the theaters like the thrown away pop-corn packet. There is nothing urging enough to go back to stand in ticket queues to have another look. Yet, there is nothing wrong with the film while it unspools its content on screen. In fact, time passes pretty fast in theater.

Milan Luthria is competent in building up tension – especially the chase/run sequences. The thrill is evident in majority scenes. Plus, keeping the length close to two hours was his major USP – he makes it beefy enough cutting out loose fat. Also, the script works hard on the two protagonists – character delianation, in, what is primarily an action film, is strong, yet subtle and seething.

Performances are good – and Sonali Kulkarni, playing a typical Maharashtrian housewife, is the best, followed very closely by Nana Patekar. Scenes between the two are the most interesting ones. Though Patekar retains his grumpiness, yet he manages to put in such subtle facial expressions that only a seasoned actor can portray. A small example – do watch the scene carefully when John is pushing him to drive the taxi faster. Just a small twitch on the face conveys Patekar’s fear of fast speed excellently!

John Abraham and Sameera Reddy are quite ok. But what in good heavens has Reddy done to herself – she looked stocky and overweight!

There is a small surprise packet in the end. After Sameera’s ‘heavy’ presence, this surprise comes as a breeze of fresh air.

Production is extremely slick; dialogues are pithy; music fits into the narrative (though that scream in background score jars the ears); and cinematography is A-class – shot entirely in Mumbai, it gives a remarkable collage of the city. Sanjay Dutt’s voice-over in the intial scenes gels well.

Overall: Good Timepass

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Film Review

Ex-rediff staffer and writer Suparn Verma makes his directorial debut. His roster of writings includes Chhal and Karam, sales definitely not the ‘feel-good’ films. In addition, sildenafil he also has the dubious claim of scripting the insipid Janasheen. Had I known this background, information pills I would have avoided EKEH at an arm’s length. Anyways, I had the (mis)chance to watch this ‘thriller’ first day (third show) in a nearly empty theater (if this was the state on first day, only a miracle can save this film; and that miracle will not be ‘word-of-mouth’ publicity for sure!).

The film opens on similar lines as Musafir – a conman inadvertently cheats a don’s henchman; and the don gives him a few days to return his money – so what’s the common DVD source for both? Thereafter, the film takes on a path full of turns, leaving at times the audience baffled as whom to believe. In that essence, the film works. Plus, the cons are better written and executed than Bunty aur Bubli. But the end-twist is so contrived, it just does not hold water – especially in light of some events shown previously.

Suparn uses all clichés of the post-modern noir genre (Sanjay Gupta-style); quick cuts; stylish look; rhythmic songs; black humor and dark characters that have no respect for law.

Koena Mitra cannot act. Period. I have yet to come across a face this wooden. The only emotion I noticed was a look of immense smugness (of having crossed the sides) when three item girls (Rakhi Sawant, Mummait Khan and one more) come on to do ‘Ankhiyan na maar bairi’. For all hype revolving this song featuring not one but three item girls, only the song’s ‘mukhda‘ is used.

Fardeen, like the film, is good in patches. But as ever, the delight is Kay Kay – his trademark in the film ‘hey-lo’ will be a hit! I cannot understand Suparn’s obsession to re-create Janasheen‘s character Saba Ali Karim into Jahangir Khan and then have an utterly obnoxious Feroze Khan to play the part as well -yet again!!! Thankfully, his part is minor and the irritation is reigned in to a large level! The other supporting cast (Mukul Dev, Gulshan Grover, Sharad Kapoor and Rohit Roy) are adequate.

Pritam’s music is energetic; I don’t understand it, so I will refrain to comment. But pray, what made him lift Top Gun’s theme for the opening sequence?

On my part, I prefer the old Raj Kapoor and Yash Chopra style of story narration. In modern context, only Sanjay Leela Bhansali is following that tradition to the T. Perhaps I should watch the languid but delightfully narrated Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam DVD to counter the jerkiness left by EKEH.

Overall: So-so; strictly for this genre’s afficiondos; please do not take your kids along!

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Film Review

You would have known ‘impulse buying’; we all indulge in it at some stage or the other. But have you heard of ‘impulse movie watching’? If no, cardiology then I take credit for creating this new marketing mantra. (Err, buy hope you do not think me to be mentally as imbalanced as the film’s hero).

I had gone for a meeting; it was near Jai Cinema. On impulse, I walked into the theater to watch Kyunki. Ever since its release, I wanted to view it. At home every one vetoed the idea. No one wanted to see a depressing film during Diwali. (I guess that has been the film’s biggest folly. People flocked to see the utterly soporific Shaadi No One, but avoided this one). And by now it is too late to salvage its fate. The hall was fifty percent empty when I saw the movie today.

Kyunki disturbed me – especially it’s ending. It came as a shocker. If I am prepared for tragic ends, I can enjoy the film in entirety better (as was the case with Tere Naam). In this one I was not, so I was left groping with the sheer magnitude of emotional disintegration in the film’s denouement. Worse, the director kept the flow cleverly hidden; it seemed to be moving towards a happy end, when it suddenly sverved its path.

Another point – a tragic finale like QSQT has a sense of finality. There is no more life there. Hence the story ends, and it is easy to swallow. But in both Tere Naam and Kyunki, life does not end. There is a trailing residue, which makes you think about the remaining character(s). It rankles and this leaves me dismally distressed.

My main reason for watching Kyunki was – hold your breath -Salman Khan. I like him quite a lot – there I have said it, phew! Now lynch me if you want to, but I stand by my view. Single-handedly Salman has built a distinct genre away from Chopra-Johar’s fluff or RGV-Sanjay Gupta grittiness or sex-flicks (three major distinctions these days). He has not worked with any major directors (even Priyadarshan is not really up there like a Yash Chopra in Bollywood power schemes); neither do they have top-notch commercial music directors (Well, Himesh came up due to his films). His are purely ‘Salman Khan’ films – and barring an odd Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha (which should have ended with Priety’s death) or Garv here and there, they have been largely good; perhaps not great cinema, but certainly enjoyable and worth money spent watching them.

And then I like Priyadarshan – I had even enjoyed his DoliSajake Rakhna, apart from his regular acclaimed works like Virasat and Hungama. So, I had an inclination that Priyadarshan-Salman Khan combination cannot go very wrong. And I was correct.

Another vital point in enjoying a film is the ‘viewing’ itself, and there I will give myself credit. Generally, a complete submission to the director’s lead is necessary. The film can make you think, or stir emotions or both with its visuals, but one should not ‘think’ in terms of what will happen next and try to outsmart the director. In that sense, Bollywood has a perfect viewer (and if imitation is the best form of flattery, then an imitator as well – wait till you read my next story ;))

Now coming to the movie per se – it definitely has flaws and loopholes (especially, medical fraternity might be concerned about the ‘treatments’ depicted, plus lots of artificiality strewn in). But its positive moments are more replesendent than the blackness of the horrible ones. A large bulk is devoted to mental asylum scenes, especially in the first half. They are entertaining, and largely light-hearted. One which I liked is that Salman sees Om Puri for the first time, he imagines him in a ‘rock-star’ get up. This makes way for a logical ‘disco’ style imagined song a few minutes later. Others like his ‘medicine swallow act’ and other outsmart the doctors evoke natural smile.

There are some subtle delianations in the bunch of mentally challenged characters, not stated but clearly visible – the ‘god-fearing’ pundit and his remark ‘yahan bhagwaan kahan hai‘ is one; the ‘affluent gang’ syndrome and pompousness and self importance associated with it is another. Of course, the package has some corny ones as well – naming them as Abdul, Michael and Pundit was a lame attempt at depicting secularism; and one joke as old as the hills needed to be chopped off at the writing stage itself!

Some motifs, like the patient no ’36’ echo through out the film. I also liked the way Dr Tanvi first ‘sees’ Anand (not eating his medicine, and then doing tomfoolery at the exercise pad); it came out very naturally, without any shenanigans.

The script is interesting. A casually thrown in point, reverberates at some other point, making you re-think on that aspect again. The ‘vegetable’ comatose patient is the best example I can offer, as also the ‘fly’ motif. Also, the entire flashback portion with Rimii Sen is cleverly done -especially her playful fibs, which also leads to her death (a take off on the childhood story about the shepherd who cried ‘wolf’ more than necessarily; when the wolf actually arrives, no one takes him seriously).

In character delianation also Priyadarshan uses subtlety. Dr Tanvi’s emotional vulnerability looks odd, but gets justified due to the climax. Even Dr Khurana’s strictness is assigned an emotionally valid reason, also making you think whether it was sort of irony to have him run a mental asylum! Every character introduced (down to the security guard) is used somewhere, and not dropped off or forgotten mid-way – which reminds me to point out that the ‘confrontation-between-Dr Khurana-and-security-guard’ piece was the most pathetic scene in the entire film. Was Priyadarshan off that day?

I feel the film required more tautness. It should have been a pithy two hour fare, retaining the top ten tender/smiling moments of first half, and the best tragic/dramatic content of the second. This I sensed from the fact that by the time flashback ended, I was waiting for the interval to come up. A viewer should not wait for that, which is why I say that more editing was required.

The film is a remake of a Malyalam film, if I am not terribly wrong. But it has light shades of the old Khamoshi (especially Dr Tanvi’s emotional attachment to patients’ portion – but that’s about it I guess because here she falls completely in love with Anand, which some found jerky, but it’s ok and quite expected- again, my point they could have reduced first half to make for this part longer). How much of One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest is present, I cannot say as I haven’t seen that classic.

Of performances, it is Salman’s show all the way. And he delivers. His ‘mad’ act is innocent, tender, child-like and endearing. His normal self is charming. In the ‘demand-for-music-in-the-ward’ scene (otherwise, quite a loud and a stretched one), he does some heavy-duty speed-faster-than-train dialogue delivery. Barring a fleeting shot, he retains his clothes (which makes his third film in a row this way – time to change clichés, I guess!).

What has Jackie Shroff done to his self? He looked very old and haggard, and the beard-get up did not help either. But he has given a straight-from-the-heart performance: no great shakes, but more than adequate! Rimii looks lovely and fits the part, though her Bengali accent showed up quite badly.

Now, here’s about my pet peeve: Kareena. Priyadarshan is a smart person. In both films (Hulchul and Kyunki), he has given her parts that are largely ‘reactive’ – hence she does not have to work too hard, and is ok. There was one scene where she could have risen from average to great (when she learns about Salman’s impending departure from the asylum) – unfortunately, on the day of the shoot she brought the entire pigsty with her, and offers viewers the biggest chunk of ham ever! Otherwise, looks-wise she looks ravishing, and sarees really suit her, and so does ‘anger’!

For a film that is emotional in content, the sound design was fantabulous. I really noticed sounds, music, echoes and thumps in their full stereophonic splendor. Generally with this theme, it’s quite flat.

The colors are bright. Cinematography is first-class. Locales are eye-candy and soothing – both in India and abroad.

Himesh Reshammaiya’s music – as Subhash K Jha put it in Filmfare – is ‘positively familiar’; and I will highlight the word ‘positively’. I don’t care much for his modern sounds or beats (as in Aashiq Banaya Aapne), but his traditional stuff is really hummable. He is doing what even Nadeem Shravan have forgotten to do – nice simple tunes with good simple orchestra. Though Kyunki’s music is below Tere Naam overall, yet it stands tall amongst today’s ‘techno-heave-ho’ stuff!

To a sum up, it might not be the best movie this year, but in my honest opinion it did not deserve to be discarded so thoughtlessly as it has been!

Overall: Watchable

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Agra opened its doors to the second mall – the sprawling TDI Mall, viagra 100mg on Fatehabad Road, adjacent to Pacific Mall, the only other existing one in town. TDI Mall is much larger in size and will carry a variety of brands.I visited the place on its inaugural day on Sunday. Frankly, as of now it’s quite disappointing and boring since only Pantaloons and McDonalds have opened shops. The rest will take some time to come up.

I am looking forward to the opening of Rave Cinemas in its premises. I have heard good things about this multi-plex from people who have visited it in Delhi, though I haven’t had the chance to do so.

This is McDonald’s second outlet (the first is in Sadar Bazar) and also houses a drive-thru section. With the people in Agra not believing in any traffic rule or queue, or displaying any patience while standing at traffic signals, I wish the Drive-Thru all the best!

On the diametrically opposite end of the town, on the National Highway, Bikanervala opened its first outlet here. The chain has spread its wings deep into the interiors of Delhi, and is quite a nice place to visit. Hope it meets the requisite success here too!

(I wrote this at the airport before departure; I am reproducing this piece, order view without editing or changing the tense and sequence. I had thought I would get time in Mumbai to post it, information pills anesthetist but it was quite hectic and jam-packed, page salve hence, could not…)

I am waiting at the airport writing this post; by the time it reaches you, I would be in Mumbai, sucked irrevocably in a slush of meetings.

Hell, I always get the timing wrong- the last time I was stuck at a lengthy immigration counter, and caught the plane nearly the sameway as one catches a DTC bus at rush hours! This time, chastened, I have reached airport earlier; lo, it’s absolutely empty- had my coffee, loitered at the duty free, done my immigration, over with the security check…and still have some one hour to spare. The sequential number on my boarding pass wickedly grins that I was the first to check in.

I love traveling; but I hate packing. It has been a bane with me right from the start, and I always end up missing a vital piece everytime. I am also amazed at the abilities of some to carry miniature bags and then see them wearing business suits and heavy woolens- how did they manage to stuff them in that bonsai of a bag? I am convinced, packing is an art too, and I am no Picasso there! I am getting this queasy feeling that I have packed a blue suit, but am possibly carrying only brown socks! Shucks!

Those of who have been following the blog for the past three months regularly would know the amount of traveling that I have done- so much so, I can almost feel wings on my shoulders… and because of this, would also understand that packing this way has assumed epic epidemic proportions for me!

Though going to India, I am certainly not looking towards this trip.

Three strong reasons are: a) The itinerary mailed is way too ambitious for the short two days b) it’s a business review meet- and you all know what that means! c) The travel agent has done a major goof up on my return ticket- so will have to run around and blow off my head in front of a few to get it corrected.

A horrendously egregious voice is making some announcement at this moment in a language that I can vaguely recognize as being English once upon time- it is not even a Nepali accent…it is a Nepali trying to give an American accent in English! What a combination! And the voice? Has Sapna Awasthi actually jumped into her kuan and started making airport announcements?

The crowd is trickling in- but that is because there are three flights almost back to back for departure in the next couple of hours. Dan Brown would be pleased to see the crowd- at least five different passengers, from various backgrounds and colors, are reading Da Vinci Code. As for me, well, IBM…are you listening?

Well, there is a motely bunch of passengers in various sizes, shapes and stages of boredom here…a bald man is rapidly firing away at his dull looking wife, who seems to be in a chronic state of hair disorder; a grouchy chinky is reading Dalai Lama’s Art of Happiness- hope it does him good, its an art that he definitely requires seeing his sad face; a bearded Frenchie is chewing away at his gum (Americanised, eh?) with such vigor as if gums will be extinct tomorrow; an Indian lady shoves her way through the security guard thinking the plane would possibly leave without her (never mind, it has not even arrived as yet), and the hapless guard and her husband follow her meekly; and…YIPES….sorry to frighten you sweeties, but a local lady has started breast feeding her baby- a live Ram Teri Ganga Maili show? And, the expression on her face is not dissimilar to the blankness of Mandakini. Ok, relax you perverts, she is otherwise quite discreet, and nothing is…er…ahem… ‘seen‘ that way!

Anyways, got to go now; if the chinky sitting next to me is going to yawn every half a minute, wish he had brushed his teeth as well.

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Film Review

A day in the lives of Mr. Wood and Mr. Grumpy (with Ms. Hefty thrown in) is what sums up this short but fairly interesting film. Milan Luthria moves several notches upwards from Deewar and Chori Chori, pharm but does not still encompass the flourish exhibited in his debut Kachhe Dhaage. In principle Taxi 9211 is much like that film- two men from extreme strata of society meet, troche and their destines intertwine making them realize about some harsh realities of life.

The story is quite nice, and I won’t reveal it here leaving the viewers to discover it – that’s the fun of watching the film.

As a film, it is not a spectacular work – neither ostentiously esoteric nor overtly compelling. Much of the film is left back in the theaters like the thrown away pop-corn packet. There is nothing urging enough to go back to stand in ticket queues to have another look. Yet, there is nothing wrong with the film while it unspools its content on screen. In fact, time passes pretty fast in theater.

Milan Luthria is competent in building up tension – especially the chase/run sequences. The thrill is evident in majority scenes. Plus, keeping the length close to two hours was his major USP – he makes it beefy enough cutting out loose fat. Also, the script works hard on the two protagonists – character delianation, in, what is primarily an action film, is strong, yet subtle and seething.

Performances are good – and Sonali Kulkarni, playing a typical Maharashtrian housewife, is the best, followed very closely by Nana Patekar. Scenes between the two are the most interesting ones. Though Patekar retains his grumpiness, yet he manages to put in such subtle facial expressions that only a seasoned actor can portray. A small example – do watch the scene carefully when John is pushing him to drive the taxi faster. Just a small twitch on the face conveys Patekar’s fear of fast speed excellently!

John Abraham and Sameera Reddy are quite ok. But what in good heavens has Reddy done to herself – she looked stocky and overweight!

There is a small surprise packet in the end. After Sameera’s ‘heavy’ presence, this surprise comes as a breeze of fresh air.

Production is extremely slick; dialogues are pithy; music fits into the narrative (though that scream in background score jars the ears); and cinematography is A-class – shot entirely in Mumbai, it gives a remarkable collage of the city. Sanjay Dutt’s voice-over in the intial scenes gels well.

Overall: Good Timepass

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Film Review

Ex-rediff staffer and writer Suparn Verma makes his directorial debut. His roster of writings includes Chhal and Karam, sales definitely not the ‘feel-good’ films. In addition, sildenafil he also has the dubious claim of scripting the insipid Janasheen. Had I known this background, information pills I would have avoided EKEH at an arm’s length. Anyways, I had the (mis)chance to watch this ‘thriller’ first day (third show) in a nearly empty theater (if this was the state on first day, only a miracle can save this film; and that miracle will not be ‘word-of-mouth’ publicity for sure!).

The film opens on similar lines as Musafir – a conman inadvertently cheats a don’s henchman; and the don gives him a few days to return his money – so what’s the common DVD source for both? Thereafter, the film takes on a path full of turns, leaving at times the audience baffled as whom to believe. In that essence, the film works. Plus, the cons are better written and executed than Bunty aur Bubli. But the end-twist is so contrived, it just does not hold water – especially in light of some events shown previously.

Suparn uses all clichés of the post-modern noir genre (Sanjay Gupta-style); quick cuts; stylish look; rhythmic songs; black humor and dark characters that have no respect for law.

Koena Mitra cannot act. Period. I have yet to come across a face this wooden. The only emotion I noticed was a look of immense smugness (of having crossed the sides) when three item girls (Rakhi Sawant, Mummait Khan and one more) come on to do ‘Ankhiyan na maar bairi’. For all hype revolving this song featuring not one but three item girls, only the song’s ‘mukhda‘ is used.

Fardeen, like the film, is good in patches. But as ever, the delight is Kay Kay – his trademark in the film ‘hey-lo’ will be a hit! I cannot understand Suparn’s obsession to re-create Janasheen‘s character Saba Ali Karim into Jahangir Khan and then have an utterly obnoxious Feroze Khan to play the part as well -yet again!!! Thankfully, his part is minor and the irritation is reigned in to a large level! The other supporting cast (Mukul Dev, Gulshan Grover, Sharad Kapoor and Rohit Roy) are adequate.

Pritam’s music is energetic; I don’t understand it, so I will refrain to comment. But pray, what made him lift Top Gun’s theme for the opening sequence?

On my part, I prefer the old Raj Kapoor and Yash Chopra style of story narration. In modern context, only Sanjay Leela Bhansali is following that tradition to the T. Perhaps I should watch the languid but delightfully narrated Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam DVD to counter the jerkiness left by EKEH.

Overall: So-so; strictly for this genre’s afficiondos; please do not take your kids along!

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Film Review

You would have known ‘impulse buying’; we all indulge in it at some stage or the other. But have you heard of ‘impulse movie watching’? If no, cardiology then I take credit for creating this new marketing mantra. (Err, buy hope you do not think me to be mentally as imbalanced as the film’s hero).

I had gone for a meeting; it was near Jai Cinema. On impulse, I walked into the theater to watch Kyunki. Ever since its release, I wanted to view it. At home every one vetoed the idea. No one wanted to see a depressing film during Diwali. (I guess that has been the film’s biggest folly. People flocked to see the utterly soporific Shaadi No One, but avoided this one). And by now it is too late to salvage its fate. The hall was fifty percent empty when I saw the movie today.

Kyunki disturbed me – especially it’s ending. It came as a shocker. If I am prepared for tragic ends, I can enjoy the film in entirety better (as was the case with Tere Naam). In this one I was not, so I was left groping with the sheer magnitude of emotional disintegration in the film’s denouement. Worse, the director kept the flow cleverly hidden; it seemed to be moving towards a happy end, when it suddenly sverved its path.

Another point – a tragic finale like QSQT has a sense of finality. There is no more life there. Hence the story ends, and it is easy to swallow. But in both Tere Naam and Kyunki, life does not end. There is a trailing residue, which makes you think about the remaining character(s). It rankles and this leaves me dismally distressed.

My main reason for watching Kyunki was – hold your breath -Salman Khan. I like him quite a lot – there I have said it, phew! Now lynch me if you want to, but I stand by my view. Single-handedly Salman has built a distinct genre away from Chopra-Johar’s fluff or RGV-Sanjay Gupta grittiness or sex-flicks (three major distinctions these days). He has not worked with any major directors (even Priyadarshan is not really up there like a Yash Chopra in Bollywood power schemes); neither do they have top-notch commercial music directors (Well, Himesh came up due to his films). His are purely ‘Salman Khan’ films – and barring an odd Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha (which should have ended with Priety’s death) or Garv here and there, they have been largely good; perhaps not great cinema, but certainly enjoyable and worth money spent watching them.

And then I like Priyadarshan – I had even enjoyed his DoliSajake Rakhna, apart from his regular acclaimed works like Virasat and Hungama. So, I had an inclination that Priyadarshan-Salman Khan combination cannot go very wrong. And I was correct.

Another vital point in enjoying a film is the ‘viewing’ itself, and there I will give myself credit. Generally, a complete submission to the director’s lead is necessary. The film can make you think, or stir emotions or both with its visuals, but one should not ‘think’ in terms of what will happen next and try to outsmart the director. In that sense, Bollywood has a perfect viewer (and if imitation is the best form of flattery, then an imitator as well – wait till you read my next story ;))

Now coming to the movie per se – it definitely has flaws and loopholes (especially, medical fraternity might be concerned about the ‘treatments’ depicted, plus lots of artificiality strewn in). But its positive moments are more replesendent than the blackness of the horrible ones. A large bulk is devoted to mental asylum scenes, especially in the first half. They are entertaining, and largely light-hearted. One which I liked is that Salman sees Om Puri for the first time, he imagines him in a ‘rock-star’ get up. This makes way for a logical ‘disco’ style imagined song a few minutes later. Others like his ‘medicine swallow act’ and other outsmart the doctors evoke natural smile.

There are some subtle delianations in the bunch of mentally challenged characters, not stated but clearly visible – the ‘god-fearing’ pundit and his remark ‘yahan bhagwaan kahan hai‘ is one; the ‘affluent gang’ syndrome and pompousness and self importance associated with it is another. Of course, the package has some corny ones as well – naming them as Abdul, Michael and Pundit was a lame attempt at depicting secularism; and one joke as old as the hills needed to be chopped off at the writing stage itself!

Some motifs, like the patient no ’36’ echo through out the film. I also liked the way Dr Tanvi first ‘sees’ Anand (not eating his medicine, and then doing tomfoolery at the exercise pad); it came out very naturally, without any shenanigans.

The script is interesting. A casually thrown in point, reverberates at some other point, making you re-think on that aspect again. The ‘vegetable’ comatose patient is the best example I can offer, as also the ‘fly’ motif. Also, the entire flashback portion with Rimii Sen is cleverly done -especially her playful fibs, which also leads to her death (a take off on the childhood story about the shepherd who cried ‘wolf’ more than necessarily; when the wolf actually arrives, no one takes him seriously).

In character delianation also Priyadarshan uses subtlety. Dr Tanvi’s emotional vulnerability looks odd, but gets justified due to the climax. Even Dr Khurana’s strictness is assigned an emotionally valid reason, also making you think whether it was sort of irony to have him run a mental asylum! Every character introduced (down to the security guard) is used somewhere, and not dropped off or forgotten mid-way – which reminds me to point out that the ‘confrontation-between-Dr Khurana-and-security-guard’ piece was the most pathetic scene in the entire film. Was Priyadarshan off that day?

I feel the film required more tautness. It should have been a pithy two hour fare, retaining the top ten tender/smiling moments of first half, and the best tragic/dramatic content of the second. This I sensed from the fact that by the time flashback ended, I was waiting for the interval to come up. A viewer should not wait for that, which is why I say that more editing was required.

The film is a remake of a Malyalam film, if I am not terribly wrong. But it has light shades of the old Khamoshi (especially Dr Tanvi’s emotional attachment to patients’ portion – but that’s about it I guess because here she falls completely in love with Anand, which some found jerky, but it’s ok and quite expected- again, my point they could have reduced first half to make for this part longer). How much of One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest is present, I cannot say as I haven’t seen that classic.

Of performances, it is Salman’s show all the way. And he delivers. His ‘mad’ act is innocent, tender, child-like and endearing. His normal self is charming. In the ‘demand-for-music-in-the-ward’ scene (otherwise, quite a loud and a stretched one), he does some heavy-duty speed-faster-than-train dialogue delivery. Barring a fleeting shot, he retains his clothes (which makes his third film in a row this way – time to change clichés, I guess!).

What has Jackie Shroff done to his self? He looked very old and haggard, and the beard-get up did not help either. But he has given a straight-from-the-heart performance: no great shakes, but more than adequate! Rimii looks lovely and fits the part, though her Bengali accent showed up quite badly.

Now, here’s about my pet peeve: Kareena. Priyadarshan is a smart person. In both films (Hulchul and Kyunki), he has given her parts that are largely ‘reactive’ – hence she does not have to work too hard, and is ok. There was one scene where she could have risen from average to great (when she learns about Salman’s impending departure from the asylum) – unfortunately, on the day of the shoot she brought the entire pigsty with her, and offers viewers the biggest chunk of ham ever! Otherwise, looks-wise she looks ravishing, and sarees really suit her, and so does ‘anger’!

For a film that is emotional in content, the sound design was fantabulous. I really noticed sounds, music, echoes and thumps in their full stereophonic splendor. Generally with this theme, it’s quite flat.

The colors are bright. Cinematography is first-class. Locales are eye-candy and soothing – both in India and abroad.

Himesh Reshammaiya’s music – as Subhash K Jha put it in Filmfare – is ‘positively familiar’; and I will highlight the word ‘positively’. I don’t care much for his modern sounds or beats (as in Aashiq Banaya Aapne), but his traditional stuff is really hummable. He is doing what even Nadeem Shravan have forgotten to do – nice simple tunes with good simple orchestra. Though Kyunki’s music is below Tere Naam overall, yet it stands tall amongst today’s ‘techno-heave-ho’ stuff!

To a sum up, it might not be the best movie this year, but in my honest opinion it did not deserve to be discarded so thoughtlessly as it has been!

Overall: Watchable

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Agra opened its doors to the second mall – the sprawling TDI Mall, viagra 100mg on Fatehabad Road, adjacent to Pacific Mall, the only other existing one in town. TDI Mall is much larger in size and will carry a variety of brands.I visited the place on its inaugural day on Sunday. Frankly, as of now it’s quite disappointing and boring since only Pantaloons and McDonalds have opened shops. The rest will take some time to come up.

I am looking forward to the opening of Rave Cinemas in its premises. I have heard good things about this multi-plex from people who have visited it in Delhi, though I haven’t had the chance to do so.

This is McDonald’s second outlet (the first is in Sadar Bazar) and also houses a drive-thru section. With the people in Agra not believing in any traffic rule or queue, or displaying any patience while standing at traffic signals, I wish the Drive-Thru all the best!

On the diametrically opposite end of the town, on the National Highway, Bikanervala opened its first outlet here. The chain has spread its wings deep into the interiors of Delhi, and is quite a nice place to visit. Hope it meets the requisite success here too!

Just Married

Mid-week holidays are dicey. The weekend effect is missing, pills and it spoils the flow of the week. But festivals can fall anytime, arthritis and this year most of them are coming at odd times. Yesterday was Ram Navami, and we had a day off.

A friend had come over in the evening, and to kill time we visited the only happening place that I could think of -Pacific Mall (Sadar Bazar is an option, but it is closed on Tuesdays). Since there is only so much one can window shop, we decided to catch a late night show. My friend left the choice to me, and I chose Just Married a film about which I have read many bad reviews, but one that I really enjoyed. So, I just wanted to check if I was wrong somewhere.

The film seems a huge flop and what better proof could be that the ticket seller was reluctant to issue tickets, since we were the only ones asking for it and he feared that the show might be cancelled if the minimum clientele is not gathered. But we stuck on, and pestered him enough to release the tickets. By the time the show started four more people had ventured in. And that was the total attendance six people in the entire auditorium!

I loved the film the second time as well, despite it being pretty fresh in my mind. This time I concentrated on all the subtle nuances that Meghna Gulzar has built in, and once more I was bowled over by her detailing and scene structures. I had loved the dialogues the first time, but yesterday I could see their resonance at several places. I also understood the relevance of other couples they are not main stories, but in their own way they act like a chorus or a comment on the dilemma that Esha and Fardeen are facing. Meghna has built an excellent ambience which gives the effect of seeing a real honeymoon. Meghna’s inspiration is clearly the middle-class cinema forwarded by the likes of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Bhattacharya. It’s hard for me to describe, and I fear I will take up a lot of space if I start to elaborate the things that I loved in the film. This time, I didn’t mind the overtly filmi denouement even!

A review in a national daily had pissed me off considerably. The reviewer, a lady, had cruelly reduced the entire film to a disparaging one-line which went something like- the film is about whether Esha Deol’s character will have sex or not! I am shocked that a woman could even pass off such an insensitive remark. Maybe the reviewer hasn’t heard of things like emotions and feelings and non-acceptability of strangers for husbands; or probably she doesn’t mind sleeping around with the next hunk that she comes across. But as far as I know or have understood women, Esha’s problems are real. And such women still are in majority. Perhaps, the reviewer needs a strong reality check and needs to move out of her ivory tower and page-three social circle. As Fardeen says in the film, so do I want to frustratingly tell the reviewer, “It’s not about sex dammit!”

I also paid a closer attention to the lead performances and found that Esha Deol has really used her body language to full advantage; small things like nervously twisting her fingers when talking to her husband of few days, or shrivelling up whenever he is too close for comfort, go a big way to add up to a stupendous performance. Same for Fardeen Khan there is an extremely mature sensitivity in his acting, reminding him of his role in Kuchh Tum Kaho Kuchh Hum Kahein (another film that no one saw, but I loved!) I know he has received a lot of flak, but considering that he started off from something like Prem Aggan where he acted worse than a kid would do in a school-drama, it is a quantum leap, and perhaps someone who should be given his requisite due. Of course, there is always room for improvement, and at a few places I could see where they have faltered.

Plus, both Esha and Fardeen make a very good pair. Meghna has ensured they are not larger-than-life; just peep out of your window and probably Abhay and Ritika (the characters they play) are a couple right in your neighbourhood!

I am not into writing fan mails and this post is the closest that I can get to but I truly wish to thank Meghna Gulzar for making this very perceptive, insightful and understanding film!

And yes, my friend – who is not much into seeing films – enjoyed the movie!

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(I wrote this at the airport before departure; I am reproducing this piece, order view without editing or changing the tense and sequence. I had thought I would get time in Mumbai to post it, information pills anesthetist but it was quite hectic and jam-packed, page salve hence, could not…)

I am waiting at the airport writing this post; by the time it reaches you, I would be in Mumbai, sucked irrevocably in a slush of meetings.

Hell, I always get the timing wrong- the last time I was stuck at a lengthy immigration counter, and caught the plane nearly the sameway as one catches a DTC bus at rush hours! This time, chastened, I have reached airport earlier; lo, it’s absolutely empty- had my coffee, loitered at the duty free, done my immigration, over with the security check…and still have some one hour to spare. The sequential number on my boarding pass wickedly grins that I was the first to check in.

I love traveling; but I hate packing. It has been a bane with me right from the start, and I always end up missing a vital piece everytime. I am also amazed at the abilities of some to carry miniature bags and then see them wearing business suits and heavy woolens- how did they manage to stuff them in that bonsai of a bag? I am convinced, packing is an art too, and I am no Picasso there! I am getting this queasy feeling that I have packed a blue suit, but am possibly carrying only brown socks! Shucks!

Those of who have been following the blog for the past three months regularly would know the amount of traveling that I have done- so much so, I can almost feel wings on my shoulders… and because of this, would also understand that packing this way has assumed epic epidemic proportions for me!

Though going to India, I am certainly not looking towards this trip.

Three strong reasons are: a) The itinerary mailed is way too ambitious for the short two days b) it’s a business review meet- and you all know what that means! c) The travel agent has done a major goof up on my return ticket- so will have to run around and blow off my head in front of a few to get it corrected.

A horrendously egregious voice is making some announcement at this moment in a language that I can vaguely recognize as being English once upon time- it is not even a Nepali accent…it is a Nepali trying to give an American accent in English! What a combination! And the voice? Has Sapna Awasthi actually jumped into her kuan and started making airport announcements?

The crowd is trickling in- but that is because there are three flights almost back to back for departure in the next couple of hours. Dan Brown would be pleased to see the crowd- at least five different passengers, from various backgrounds and colors, are reading Da Vinci Code. As for me, well, IBM…are you listening?

Well, there is a motely bunch of passengers in various sizes, shapes and stages of boredom here…a bald man is rapidly firing away at his dull looking wife, who seems to be in a chronic state of hair disorder; a grouchy chinky is reading Dalai Lama’s Art of Happiness- hope it does him good, its an art that he definitely requires seeing his sad face; a bearded Frenchie is chewing away at his gum (Americanised, eh?) with such vigor as if gums will be extinct tomorrow; an Indian lady shoves her way through the security guard thinking the plane would possibly leave without her (never mind, it has not even arrived as yet), and the hapless guard and her husband follow her meekly; and…YIPES….sorry to frighten you sweeties, but a local lady has started breast feeding her baby- a live Ram Teri Ganga Maili show? And, the expression on her face is not dissimilar to the blankness of Mandakini. Ok, relax you perverts, she is otherwise quite discreet, and nothing is…er…ahem… ‘seen‘ that way!

Anyways, got to go now; if the chinky sitting next to me is going to yawn every half a minute, wish he had brushed his teeth as well.

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Film Review

A day in the lives of Mr. Wood and Mr. Grumpy (with Ms. Hefty thrown in) is what sums up this short but fairly interesting film. Milan Luthria moves several notches upwards from Deewar and Chori Chori, pharm but does not still encompass the flourish exhibited in his debut Kachhe Dhaage. In principle Taxi 9211 is much like that film- two men from extreme strata of society meet, troche and their destines intertwine making them realize about some harsh realities of life.

The story is quite nice, and I won’t reveal it here leaving the viewers to discover it – that’s the fun of watching the film.

As a film, it is not a spectacular work – neither ostentiously esoteric nor overtly compelling. Much of the film is left back in the theaters like the thrown away pop-corn packet. There is nothing urging enough to go back to stand in ticket queues to have another look. Yet, there is nothing wrong with the film while it unspools its content on screen. In fact, time passes pretty fast in theater.

Milan Luthria is competent in building up tension – especially the chase/run sequences. The thrill is evident in majority scenes. Plus, keeping the length close to two hours was his major USP – he makes it beefy enough cutting out loose fat. Also, the script works hard on the two protagonists – character delianation, in, what is primarily an action film, is strong, yet subtle and seething.

Performances are good – and Sonali Kulkarni, playing a typical Maharashtrian housewife, is the best, followed very closely by Nana Patekar. Scenes between the two are the most interesting ones. Though Patekar retains his grumpiness, yet he manages to put in such subtle facial expressions that only a seasoned actor can portray. A small example – do watch the scene carefully when John is pushing him to drive the taxi faster. Just a small twitch on the face conveys Patekar’s fear of fast speed excellently!

John Abraham and Sameera Reddy are quite ok. But what in good heavens has Reddy done to herself – she looked stocky and overweight!

There is a small surprise packet in the end. After Sameera’s ‘heavy’ presence, this surprise comes as a breeze of fresh air.

Production is extremely slick; dialogues are pithy; music fits into the narrative (though that scream in background score jars the ears); and cinematography is A-class – shot entirely in Mumbai, it gives a remarkable collage of the city. Sanjay Dutt’s voice-over in the intial scenes gels well.

Overall: Good Timepass

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Film Review

Ex-rediff staffer and writer Suparn Verma makes his directorial debut. His roster of writings includes Chhal and Karam, sales definitely not the ‘feel-good’ films. In addition, sildenafil he also has the dubious claim of scripting the insipid Janasheen. Had I known this background, information pills I would have avoided EKEH at an arm’s length. Anyways, I had the (mis)chance to watch this ‘thriller’ first day (third show) in a nearly empty theater (if this was the state on first day, only a miracle can save this film; and that miracle will not be ‘word-of-mouth’ publicity for sure!).

The film opens on similar lines as Musafir – a conman inadvertently cheats a don’s henchman; and the don gives him a few days to return his money – so what’s the common DVD source for both? Thereafter, the film takes on a path full of turns, leaving at times the audience baffled as whom to believe. In that essence, the film works. Plus, the cons are better written and executed than Bunty aur Bubli. But the end-twist is so contrived, it just does not hold water – especially in light of some events shown previously.

Suparn uses all clichés of the post-modern noir genre (Sanjay Gupta-style); quick cuts; stylish look; rhythmic songs; black humor and dark characters that have no respect for law.

Koena Mitra cannot act. Period. I have yet to come across a face this wooden. The only emotion I noticed was a look of immense smugness (of having crossed the sides) when three item girls (Rakhi Sawant, Mummait Khan and one more) come on to do ‘Ankhiyan na maar bairi’. For all hype revolving this song featuring not one but three item girls, only the song’s ‘mukhda‘ is used.

Fardeen, like the film, is good in patches. But as ever, the delight is Kay Kay – his trademark in the film ‘hey-lo’ will be a hit! I cannot understand Suparn’s obsession to re-create Janasheen‘s character Saba Ali Karim into Jahangir Khan and then have an utterly obnoxious Feroze Khan to play the part as well -yet again!!! Thankfully, his part is minor and the irritation is reigned in to a large level! The other supporting cast (Mukul Dev, Gulshan Grover, Sharad Kapoor and Rohit Roy) are adequate.

Pritam’s music is energetic; I don’t understand it, so I will refrain to comment. But pray, what made him lift Top Gun’s theme for the opening sequence?

On my part, I prefer the old Raj Kapoor and Yash Chopra style of story narration. In modern context, only Sanjay Leela Bhansali is following that tradition to the T. Perhaps I should watch the languid but delightfully narrated Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam DVD to counter the jerkiness left by EKEH.

Overall: So-so; strictly for this genre’s afficiondos; please do not take your kids along!

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Film Review

You would have known ‘impulse buying’; we all indulge in it at some stage or the other. But have you heard of ‘impulse movie watching’? If no, cardiology then I take credit for creating this new marketing mantra. (Err, buy hope you do not think me to be mentally as imbalanced as the film’s hero).

I had gone for a meeting; it was near Jai Cinema. On impulse, I walked into the theater to watch Kyunki. Ever since its release, I wanted to view it. At home every one vetoed the idea. No one wanted to see a depressing film during Diwali. (I guess that has been the film’s biggest folly. People flocked to see the utterly soporific Shaadi No One, but avoided this one). And by now it is too late to salvage its fate. The hall was fifty percent empty when I saw the movie today.

Kyunki disturbed me – especially it’s ending. It came as a shocker. If I am prepared for tragic ends, I can enjoy the film in entirety better (as was the case with Tere Naam). In this one I was not, so I was left groping with the sheer magnitude of emotional disintegration in the film’s denouement. Worse, the director kept the flow cleverly hidden; it seemed to be moving towards a happy end, when it suddenly sverved its path.

Another point – a tragic finale like QSQT has a sense of finality. There is no more life there. Hence the story ends, and it is easy to swallow. But in both Tere Naam and Kyunki, life does not end. There is a trailing residue, which makes you think about the remaining character(s). It rankles and this leaves me dismally distressed.

My main reason for watching Kyunki was – hold your breath -Salman Khan. I like him quite a lot – there I have said it, phew! Now lynch me if you want to, but I stand by my view. Single-handedly Salman has built a distinct genre away from Chopra-Johar’s fluff or RGV-Sanjay Gupta grittiness or sex-flicks (three major distinctions these days). He has not worked with any major directors (even Priyadarshan is not really up there like a Yash Chopra in Bollywood power schemes); neither do they have top-notch commercial music directors (Well, Himesh came up due to his films). His are purely ‘Salman Khan’ films – and barring an odd Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha (which should have ended with Priety’s death) or Garv here and there, they have been largely good; perhaps not great cinema, but certainly enjoyable and worth money spent watching them.

And then I like Priyadarshan – I had even enjoyed his DoliSajake Rakhna, apart from his regular acclaimed works like Virasat and Hungama. So, I had an inclination that Priyadarshan-Salman Khan combination cannot go very wrong. And I was correct.

Another vital point in enjoying a film is the ‘viewing’ itself, and there I will give myself credit. Generally, a complete submission to the director’s lead is necessary. The film can make you think, or stir emotions or both with its visuals, but one should not ‘think’ in terms of what will happen next and try to outsmart the director. In that sense, Bollywood has a perfect viewer (and if imitation is the best form of flattery, then an imitator as well – wait till you read my next story ;))

Now coming to the movie per se – it definitely has flaws and loopholes (especially, medical fraternity might be concerned about the ‘treatments’ depicted, plus lots of artificiality strewn in). But its positive moments are more replesendent than the blackness of the horrible ones. A large bulk is devoted to mental asylum scenes, especially in the first half. They are entertaining, and largely light-hearted. One which I liked is that Salman sees Om Puri for the first time, he imagines him in a ‘rock-star’ get up. This makes way for a logical ‘disco’ style imagined song a few minutes later. Others like his ‘medicine swallow act’ and other outsmart the doctors evoke natural smile.

There are some subtle delianations in the bunch of mentally challenged characters, not stated but clearly visible – the ‘god-fearing’ pundit and his remark ‘yahan bhagwaan kahan hai‘ is one; the ‘affluent gang’ syndrome and pompousness and self importance associated with it is another. Of course, the package has some corny ones as well – naming them as Abdul, Michael and Pundit was a lame attempt at depicting secularism; and one joke as old as the hills needed to be chopped off at the writing stage itself!

Some motifs, like the patient no ’36’ echo through out the film. I also liked the way Dr Tanvi first ‘sees’ Anand (not eating his medicine, and then doing tomfoolery at the exercise pad); it came out very naturally, without any shenanigans.

The script is interesting. A casually thrown in point, reverberates at some other point, making you re-think on that aspect again. The ‘vegetable’ comatose patient is the best example I can offer, as also the ‘fly’ motif. Also, the entire flashback portion with Rimii Sen is cleverly done -especially her playful fibs, which also leads to her death (a take off on the childhood story about the shepherd who cried ‘wolf’ more than necessarily; when the wolf actually arrives, no one takes him seriously).

In character delianation also Priyadarshan uses subtlety. Dr Tanvi’s emotional vulnerability looks odd, but gets justified due to the climax. Even Dr Khurana’s strictness is assigned an emotionally valid reason, also making you think whether it was sort of irony to have him run a mental asylum! Every character introduced (down to the security guard) is used somewhere, and not dropped off or forgotten mid-way – which reminds me to point out that the ‘confrontation-between-Dr Khurana-and-security-guard’ piece was the most pathetic scene in the entire film. Was Priyadarshan off that day?

I feel the film required more tautness. It should have been a pithy two hour fare, retaining the top ten tender/smiling moments of first half, and the best tragic/dramatic content of the second. This I sensed from the fact that by the time flashback ended, I was waiting for the interval to come up. A viewer should not wait for that, which is why I say that more editing was required.

The film is a remake of a Malyalam film, if I am not terribly wrong. But it has light shades of the old Khamoshi (especially Dr Tanvi’s emotional attachment to patients’ portion – but that’s about it I guess because here she falls completely in love with Anand, which some found jerky, but it’s ok and quite expected- again, my point they could have reduced first half to make for this part longer). How much of One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest is present, I cannot say as I haven’t seen that classic.

Of performances, it is Salman’s show all the way. And he delivers. His ‘mad’ act is innocent, tender, child-like and endearing. His normal self is charming. In the ‘demand-for-music-in-the-ward’ scene (otherwise, quite a loud and a stretched one), he does some heavy-duty speed-faster-than-train dialogue delivery. Barring a fleeting shot, he retains his clothes (which makes his third film in a row this way – time to change clichés, I guess!).

What has Jackie Shroff done to his self? He looked very old and haggard, and the beard-get up did not help either. But he has given a straight-from-the-heart performance: no great shakes, but more than adequate! Rimii looks lovely and fits the part, though her Bengali accent showed up quite badly.

Now, here’s about my pet peeve: Kareena. Priyadarshan is a smart person. In both films (Hulchul and Kyunki), he has given her parts that are largely ‘reactive’ – hence she does not have to work too hard, and is ok. There was one scene where she could have risen from average to great (when she learns about Salman’s impending departure from the asylum) – unfortunately, on the day of the shoot she brought the entire pigsty with her, and offers viewers the biggest chunk of ham ever! Otherwise, looks-wise she looks ravishing, and sarees really suit her, and so does ‘anger’!

For a film that is emotional in content, the sound design was fantabulous. I really noticed sounds, music, echoes and thumps in their full stereophonic splendor. Generally with this theme, it’s quite flat.

The colors are bright. Cinematography is first-class. Locales are eye-candy and soothing – both in India and abroad.

Himesh Reshammaiya’s music – as Subhash K Jha put it in Filmfare – is ‘positively familiar’; and I will highlight the word ‘positively’. I don’t care much for his modern sounds or beats (as in Aashiq Banaya Aapne), but his traditional stuff is really hummable. He is doing what even Nadeem Shravan have forgotten to do – nice simple tunes with good simple orchestra. Though Kyunki’s music is below Tere Naam overall, yet it stands tall amongst today’s ‘techno-heave-ho’ stuff!

To a sum up, it might not be the best movie this year, but in my honest opinion it did not deserve to be discarded so thoughtlessly as it has been!

Overall: Watchable

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Agra opened its doors to the second mall – the sprawling TDI Mall, viagra 100mg on Fatehabad Road, adjacent to Pacific Mall, the only other existing one in town. TDI Mall is much larger in size and will carry a variety of brands.I visited the place on its inaugural day on Sunday. Frankly, as of now it’s quite disappointing and boring since only Pantaloons and McDonalds have opened shops. The rest will take some time to come up.

I am looking forward to the opening of Rave Cinemas in its premises. I have heard good things about this multi-plex from people who have visited it in Delhi, though I haven’t had the chance to do so.

This is McDonald’s second outlet (the first is in Sadar Bazar) and also houses a drive-thru section. With the people in Agra not believing in any traffic rule or queue, or displaying any patience while standing at traffic signals, I wish the Drive-Thru all the best!

On the diametrically opposite end of the town, on the National Highway, Bikanervala opened its first outlet here. The chain has spread its wings deep into the interiors of Delhi, and is quite a nice place to visit. Hope it meets the requisite success here too!

Just Married

Mid-week holidays are dicey. The weekend effect is missing, pills and it spoils the flow of the week. But festivals can fall anytime, arthritis and this year most of them are coming at odd times. Yesterday was Ram Navami, and we had a day off.

A friend had come over in the evening, and to kill time we visited the only happening place that I could think of -Pacific Mall (Sadar Bazar is an option, but it is closed on Tuesdays). Since there is only so much one can window shop, we decided to catch a late night show. My friend left the choice to me, and I chose Just Married a film about which I have read many bad reviews, but one that I really enjoyed. So, I just wanted to check if I was wrong somewhere.

The film seems a huge flop and what better proof could be that the ticket seller was reluctant to issue tickets, since we were the only ones asking for it and he feared that the show might be cancelled if the minimum clientele is not gathered. But we stuck on, and pestered him enough to release the tickets. By the time the show started four more people had ventured in. And that was the total attendance six people in the entire auditorium!

I loved the film the second time as well, despite it being pretty fresh in my mind. This time I concentrated on all the subtle nuances that Meghna Gulzar has built in, and once more I was bowled over by her detailing and scene structures. I had loved the dialogues the first time, but yesterday I could see their resonance at several places. I also understood the relevance of other couples they are not main stories, but in their own way they act like a chorus or a comment on the dilemma that Esha and Fardeen are facing. Meghna has built an excellent ambience which gives the effect of seeing a real honeymoon. Meghna’s inspiration is clearly the middle-class cinema forwarded by the likes of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Bhattacharya. It’s hard for me to describe, and I fear I will take up a lot of space if I start to elaborate the things that I loved in the film. This time, I didn’t mind the overtly filmi denouement even!

A review in a national daily had pissed me off considerably. The reviewer, a lady, had cruelly reduced the entire film to a disparaging one-line which went something like- the film is about whether Esha Deol’s character will have sex or not! I am shocked that a woman could even pass off such an insensitive remark. Maybe the reviewer hasn’t heard of things like emotions and feelings and non-acceptability of strangers for husbands; or probably she doesn’t mind sleeping around with the next hunk that she comes across. But as far as I know or have understood women, Esha’s problems are real. And such women still are in majority. Perhaps, the reviewer needs a strong reality check and needs to move out of her ivory tower and page-three social circle. As Fardeen says in the film, so do I want to frustratingly tell the reviewer, “It’s not about sex dammit!”

I also paid a closer attention to the lead performances and found that Esha Deol has really used her body language to full advantage; small things like nervously twisting her fingers when talking to her husband of few days, or shrivelling up whenever he is too close for comfort, go a big way to add up to a stupendous performance. Same for Fardeen Khan there is an extremely mature sensitivity in his acting, reminding him of his role in Kuchh Tum Kaho Kuchh Hum Kahein (another film that no one saw, but I loved!) I know he has received a lot of flak, but considering that he started off from something like Prem Aggan where he acted worse than a kid would do in a school-drama, it is a quantum leap, and perhaps someone who should be given his requisite due. Of course, there is always room for improvement, and at a few places I could see where they have faltered.

Plus, both Esha and Fardeen make a very good pair. Meghna has ensured they are not larger-than-life; just peep out of your window and probably Abhay and Ritika (the characters they play) are a couple right in your neighbourhood!

I am not into writing fan mails and this post is the closest that I can get to but I truly wish to thank Meghna Gulzar for making this very perceptive, insightful and understanding film!

And yes, my friend – who is not much into seeing films – enjoyed the movie!

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Situated at the posh Sadar Bazar, therapist Jaiwal Bar is a small but great place, shop one of the few modern bars of Agra. The place has an additional soft corner for me as this was the first bar that I had immediately loved when I shifted to Agra; since then, I am a regular here, with even the waiters recognizing me.

Ambience – Handsome! The bar has a trendy decor, with a glazed glass entrance, plastered walls and elegant wooden chairs. On one corner are comfortable sofas for those who wish to relax a little more. They play good music, and there is a television set as well for the ones who want to catch cricket along with their beers.

The only hitch is the very small seating capacity, but I don’t mind that, because overall it gives a very compact and cozy atmosphere.

There is a more down-market version on the first floor, much larger in size and also with an open terrace for those who want to enjoy their drinks under the stars.

Drinks and Snacks – You can get a wide variety of beers from the mild Fosters and Kingfisher to the heavy Haywards and even something called Kingfisher Black (a beer which is actually black in color!). Also, other IMFL and Bacardi are also available.

Snacks are limited but then there all the staple ones that one would need with your drink. They offer a mixture or bhujia complimentary. Masala Peanuts is the hot favorite and tastes wonderful. Egg bhurji is another good option. Chilly chicken can be bad at times, but can be tried.

Value for money– Cent percent! It is the cheapest bar, especially considering its location and ambience. Since alcohol is at is expensive in Uttar Pradesh (as compared to Delhi), I have found having beer at the bar equivalent to having it at home. Hence, why bother to stack up your refrigerator?

Service – Delightfully Friendly! Ok, I am a regular so I always get that extra bit, but even when I wasn’t the service had been fast and impeccable. Often, the owner will chat up with his clientele, imparting it a unique friendly touch.

It is said that some of the best things come small in size, and the dictum is best suited to this bar. I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting the place, because it offers me a very relaxing, affable and laid-back experience just the kind that I need after a hard day’s work. You can often catch me here on the corner seat next to the entrance!

Overall – A decent place to catch up with your buddies and booze!

Related Readings – Chalo Ek ‘Bar’ Phir Se
The Belly Dance Bar and Restaurant

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(I wrote this at the airport before departure; I am reproducing this piece, order view without editing or changing the tense and sequence. I had thought I would get time in Mumbai to post it, information pills anesthetist but it was quite hectic and jam-packed, page salve hence, could not…)

I am waiting at the airport writing this post; by the time it reaches you, I would be in Mumbai, sucked irrevocably in a slush of meetings.

Hell, I always get the timing wrong- the last time I was stuck at a lengthy immigration counter, and caught the plane nearly the sameway as one catches a DTC bus at rush hours! This time, chastened, I have reached airport earlier; lo, it’s absolutely empty- had my coffee, loitered at the duty free, done my immigration, over with the security check…and still have some one hour to spare. The sequential number on my boarding pass wickedly grins that I was the first to check in.

I love traveling; but I hate packing. It has been a bane with me right from the start, and I always end up missing a vital piece everytime. I am also amazed at the abilities of some to carry miniature bags and then see them wearing business suits and heavy woolens- how did they manage to stuff them in that bonsai of a bag? I am convinced, packing is an art too, and I am no Picasso there! I am getting this queasy feeling that I have packed a blue suit, but am possibly carrying only brown socks! Shucks!

Those of who have been following the blog for the past three months regularly would know the amount of traveling that I have done- so much so, I can almost feel wings on my shoulders… and because of this, would also understand that packing this way has assumed epic epidemic proportions for me!

Though going to India, I am certainly not looking towards this trip.

Three strong reasons are: a) The itinerary mailed is way too ambitious for the short two days b) it’s a business review meet- and you all know what that means! c) The travel agent has done a major goof up on my return ticket- so will have to run around and blow off my head in front of a few to get it corrected.

A horrendously egregious voice is making some announcement at this moment in a language that I can vaguely recognize as being English once upon time- it is not even a Nepali accent…it is a Nepali trying to give an American accent in English! What a combination! And the voice? Has Sapna Awasthi actually jumped into her kuan and started making airport announcements?

The crowd is trickling in- but that is because there are three flights almost back to back for departure in the next couple of hours. Dan Brown would be pleased to see the crowd- at least five different passengers, from various backgrounds and colors, are reading Da Vinci Code. As for me, well, IBM…are you listening?

Well, there is a motely bunch of passengers in various sizes, shapes and stages of boredom here…a bald man is rapidly firing away at his dull looking wife, who seems to be in a chronic state of hair disorder; a grouchy chinky is reading Dalai Lama’s Art of Happiness- hope it does him good, its an art that he definitely requires seeing his sad face; a bearded Frenchie is chewing away at his gum (Americanised, eh?) with such vigor as if gums will be extinct tomorrow; an Indian lady shoves her way through the security guard thinking the plane would possibly leave without her (never mind, it has not even arrived as yet), and the hapless guard and her husband follow her meekly; and…YIPES….sorry to frighten you sweeties, but a local lady has started breast feeding her baby- a live Ram Teri Ganga Maili show? And, the expression on her face is not dissimilar to the blankness of Mandakini. Ok, relax you perverts, she is otherwise quite discreet, and nothing is…er…ahem… ‘seen‘ that way!

Anyways, got to go now; if the chinky sitting next to me is going to yawn every half a minute, wish he had brushed his teeth as well.

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Film Review

A day in the lives of Mr. Wood and Mr. Grumpy (with Ms. Hefty thrown in) is what sums up this short but fairly interesting film. Milan Luthria moves several notches upwards from Deewar and Chori Chori, pharm but does not still encompass the flourish exhibited in his debut Kachhe Dhaage. In principle Taxi 9211 is much like that film- two men from extreme strata of society meet, troche and their destines intertwine making them realize about some harsh realities of life.

The story is quite nice, and I won’t reveal it here leaving the viewers to discover it – that’s the fun of watching the film.

As a film, it is not a spectacular work – neither ostentiously esoteric nor overtly compelling. Much of the film is left back in the theaters like the thrown away pop-corn packet. There is nothing urging enough to go back to stand in ticket queues to have another look. Yet, there is nothing wrong with the film while it unspools its content on screen. In fact, time passes pretty fast in theater.

Milan Luthria is competent in building up tension – especially the chase/run sequences. The thrill is evident in majority scenes. Plus, keeping the length close to two hours was his major USP – he makes it beefy enough cutting out loose fat. Also, the script works hard on the two protagonists – character delianation, in, what is primarily an action film, is strong, yet subtle and seething.

Performances are good – and Sonali Kulkarni, playing a typical Maharashtrian housewife, is the best, followed very closely by Nana Patekar. Scenes between the two are the most interesting ones. Though Patekar retains his grumpiness, yet he manages to put in such subtle facial expressions that only a seasoned actor can portray. A small example – do watch the scene carefully when John is pushing him to drive the taxi faster. Just a small twitch on the face conveys Patekar’s fear of fast speed excellently!

John Abraham and Sameera Reddy are quite ok. But what in good heavens has Reddy done to herself – she looked stocky and overweight!

There is a small surprise packet in the end. After Sameera’s ‘heavy’ presence, this surprise comes as a breeze of fresh air.

Production is extremely slick; dialogues are pithy; music fits into the narrative (though that scream in background score jars the ears); and cinematography is A-class – shot entirely in Mumbai, it gives a remarkable collage of the city. Sanjay Dutt’s voice-over in the intial scenes gels well.

Overall: Good Timepass

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Film Review

Ex-rediff staffer and writer Suparn Verma makes his directorial debut. His roster of writings includes Chhal and Karam, sales definitely not the ‘feel-good’ films. In addition, sildenafil he also has the dubious claim of scripting the insipid Janasheen. Had I known this background, information pills I would have avoided EKEH at an arm’s length. Anyways, I had the (mis)chance to watch this ‘thriller’ first day (third show) in a nearly empty theater (if this was the state on first day, only a miracle can save this film; and that miracle will not be ‘word-of-mouth’ publicity for sure!).

The film opens on similar lines as Musafir – a conman inadvertently cheats a don’s henchman; and the don gives him a few days to return his money – so what’s the common DVD source for both? Thereafter, the film takes on a path full of turns, leaving at times the audience baffled as whom to believe. In that essence, the film works. Plus, the cons are better written and executed than Bunty aur Bubli. But the end-twist is so contrived, it just does not hold water – especially in light of some events shown previously.

Suparn uses all clichés of the post-modern noir genre (Sanjay Gupta-style); quick cuts; stylish look; rhythmic songs; black humor and dark characters that have no respect for law.

Koena Mitra cannot act. Period. I have yet to come across a face this wooden. The only emotion I noticed was a look of immense smugness (of having crossed the sides) when three item girls (Rakhi Sawant, Mummait Khan and one more) come on to do ‘Ankhiyan na maar bairi’. For all hype revolving this song featuring not one but three item girls, only the song’s ‘mukhda‘ is used.

Fardeen, like the film, is good in patches. But as ever, the delight is Kay Kay – his trademark in the film ‘hey-lo’ will be a hit! I cannot understand Suparn’s obsession to re-create Janasheen‘s character Saba Ali Karim into Jahangir Khan and then have an utterly obnoxious Feroze Khan to play the part as well -yet again!!! Thankfully, his part is minor and the irritation is reigned in to a large level! The other supporting cast (Mukul Dev, Gulshan Grover, Sharad Kapoor and Rohit Roy) are adequate.

Pritam’s music is energetic; I don’t understand it, so I will refrain to comment. But pray, what made him lift Top Gun’s theme for the opening sequence?

On my part, I prefer the old Raj Kapoor and Yash Chopra style of story narration. In modern context, only Sanjay Leela Bhansali is following that tradition to the T. Perhaps I should watch the languid but delightfully narrated Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam DVD to counter the jerkiness left by EKEH.

Overall: So-so; strictly for this genre’s afficiondos; please do not take your kids along!

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Film Review

You would have known ‘impulse buying’; we all indulge in it at some stage or the other. But have you heard of ‘impulse movie watching’? If no, cardiology then I take credit for creating this new marketing mantra. (Err, buy hope you do not think me to be mentally as imbalanced as the film’s hero).

I had gone for a meeting; it was near Jai Cinema. On impulse, I walked into the theater to watch Kyunki. Ever since its release, I wanted to view it. At home every one vetoed the idea. No one wanted to see a depressing film during Diwali. (I guess that has been the film’s biggest folly. People flocked to see the utterly soporific Shaadi No One, but avoided this one). And by now it is too late to salvage its fate. The hall was fifty percent empty when I saw the movie today.

Kyunki disturbed me – especially it’s ending. It came as a shocker. If I am prepared for tragic ends, I can enjoy the film in entirety better (as was the case with Tere Naam). In this one I was not, so I was left groping with the sheer magnitude of emotional disintegration in the film’s denouement. Worse, the director kept the flow cleverly hidden; it seemed to be moving towards a happy end, when it suddenly sverved its path.

Another point – a tragic finale like QSQT has a sense of finality. There is no more life there. Hence the story ends, and it is easy to swallow. But in both Tere Naam and Kyunki, life does not end. There is a trailing residue, which makes you think about the remaining character(s). It rankles and this leaves me dismally distressed.

My main reason for watching Kyunki was – hold your breath -Salman Khan. I like him quite a lot – there I have said it, phew! Now lynch me if you want to, but I stand by my view. Single-handedly Salman has built a distinct genre away from Chopra-Johar’s fluff or RGV-Sanjay Gupta grittiness or sex-flicks (three major distinctions these days). He has not worked with any major directors (even Priyadarshan is not really up there like a Yash Chopra in Bollywood power schemes); neither do they have top-notch commercial music directors (Well, Himesh came up due to his films). His are purely ‘Salman Khan’ films – and barring an odd Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha (which should have ended with Priety’s death) or Garv here and there, they have been largely good; perhaps not great cinema, but certainly enjoyable and worth money spent watching them.

And then I like Priyadarshan – I had even enjoyed his DoliSajake Rakhna, apart from his regular acclaimed works like Virasat and Hungama. So, I had an inclination that Priyadarshan-Salman Khan combination cannot go very wrong. And I was correct.

Another vital point in enjoying a film is the ‘viewing’ itself, and there I will give myself credit. Generally, a complete submission to the director’s lead is necessary. The film can make you think, or stir emotions or both with its visuals, but one should not ‘think’ in terms of what will happen next and try to outsmart the director. In that sense, Bollywood has a perfect viewer (and if imitation is the best form of flattery, then an imitator as well – wait till you read my next story ;))

Now coming to the movie per se – it definitely has flaws and loopholes (especially, medical fraternity might be concerned about the ‘treatments’ depicted, plus lots of artificiality strewn in). But its positive moments are more replesendent than the blackness of the horrible ones. A large bulk is devoted to mental asylum scenes, especially in the first half. They are entertaining, and largely light-hearted. One which I liked is that Salman sees Om Puri for the first time, he imagines him in a ‘rock-star’ get up. This makes way for a logical ‘disco’ style imagined song a few minutes later. Others like his ‘medicine swallow act’ and other outsmart the doctors evoke natural smile.

There are some subtle delianations in the bunch of mentally challenged characters, not stated but clearly visible – the ‘god-fearing’ pundit and his remark ‘yahan bhagwaan kahan hai‘ is one; the ‘affluent gang’ syndrome and pompousness and self importance associated with it is another. Of course, the package has some corny ones as well – naming them as Abdul, Michael and Pundit was a lame attempt at depicting secularism; and one joke as old as the hills needed to be chopped off at the writing stage itself!

Some motifs, like the patient no ’36’ echo through out the film. I also liked the way Dr Tanvi first ‘sees’ Anand (not eating his medicine, and then doing tomfoolery at the exercise pad); it came out very naturally, without any shenanigans.

The script is interesting. A casually thrown in point, reverberates at some other point, making you re-think on that aspect again. The ‘vegetable’ comatose patient is the best example I can offer, as also the ‘fly’ motif. Also, the entire flashback portion with Rimii Sen is cleverly done -especially her playful fibs, which also leads to her death (a take off on the childhood story about the shepherd who cried ‘wolf’ more than necessarily; when the wolf actually arrives, no one takes him seriously).

In character delianation also Priyadarshan uses subtlety. Dr Tanvi’s emotional vulnerability looks odd, but gets justified due to the climax. Even Dr Khurana’s strictness is assigned an emotionally valid reason, also making you think whether it was sort of irony to have him run a mental asylum! Every character introduced (down to the security guard) is used somewhere, and not dropped off or forgotten mid-way – which reminds me to point out that the ‘confrontation-between-Dr Khurana-and-security-guard’ piece was the most pathetic scene in the entire film. Was Priyadarshan off that day?

I feel the film required more tautness. It should have been a pithy two hour fare, retaining the top ten tender/smiling moments of first half, and the best tragic/dramatic content of the second. This I sensed from the fact that by the time flashback ended, I was waiting for the interval to come up. A viewer should not wait for that, which is why I say that more editing was required.

The film is a remake of a Malyalam film, if I am not terribly wrong. But it has light shades of the old Khamoshi (especially Dr Tanvi’s emotional attachment to patients’ portion – but that’s about it I guess because here she falls completely in love with Anand, which some found jerky, but it’s ok and quite expected- again, my point they could have reduced first half to make for this part longer). How much of One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest is present, I cannot say as I haven’t seen that classic.

Of performances, it is Salman’s show all the way. And he delivers. His ‘mad’ act is innocent, tender, child-like and endearing. His normal self is charming. In the ‘demand-for-music-in-the-ward’ scene (otherwise, quite a loud and a stretched one), he does some heavy-duty speed-faster-than-train dialogue delivery. Barring a fleeting shot, he retains his clothes (which makes his third film in a row this way – time to change clichés, I guess!).

What has Jackie Shroff done to his self? He looked very old and haggard, and the beard-get up did not help either. But he has given a straight-from-the-heart performance: no great shakes, but more than adequate! Rimii looks lovely and fits the part, though her Bengali accent showed up quite badly.

Now, here’s about my pet peeve: Kareena. Priyadarshan is a smart person. In both films (Hulchul and Kyunki), he has given her parts that are largely ‘reactive’ – hence she does not have to work too hard, and is ok. There was one scene where she could have risen from average to great (when she learns about Salman’s impending departure from the asylum) – unfortunately, on the day of the shoot she brought the entire pigsty with her, and offers viewers the biggest chunk of ham ever! Otherwise, looks-wise she looks ravishing, and sarees really suit her, and so does ‘anger’!

For a film that is emotional in content, the sound design was fantabulous. I really noticed sounds, music, echoes and thumps in their full stereophonic splendor. Generally with this theme, it’s quite flat.

The colors are bright. Cinematography is first-class. Locales are eye-candy and soothing – both in India and abroad.

Himesh Reshammaiya’s music – as Subhash K Jha put it in Filmfare – is ‘positively familiar’; and I will highlight the word ‘positively’. I don’t care much for his modern sounds or beats (as in Aashiq Banaya Aapne), but his traditional stuff is really hummable. He is doing what even Nadeem Shravan have forgotten to do – nice simple tunes with good simple orchestra. Though Kyunki’s music is below Tere Naam overall, yet it stands tall amongst today’s ‘techno-heave-ho’ stuff!

To a sum up, it might not be the best movie this year, but in my honest opinion it did not deserve to be discarded so thoughtlessly as it has been!

Overall: Watchable

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Agra opened its doors to the second mall – the sprawling TDI Mall, viagra 100mg on Fatehabad Road, adjacent to Pacific Mall, the only other existing one in town. TDI Mall is much larger in size and will carry a variety of brands.I visited the place on its inaugural day on Sunday. Frankly, as of now it’s quite disappointing and boring since only Pantaloons and McDonalds have opened shops. The rest will take some time to come up.

I am looking forward to the opening of Rave Cinemas in its premises. I have heard good things about this multi-plex from people who have visited it in Delhi, though I haven’t had the chance to do so.

This is McDonald’s second outlet (the first is in Sadar Bazar) and also houses a drive-thru section. With the people in Agra not believing in any traffic rule or queue, or displaying any patience while standing at traffic signals, I wish the Drive-Thru all the best!

On the diametrically opposite end of the town, on the National Highway, Bikanervala opened its first outlet here. The chain has spread its wings deep into the interiors of Delhi, and is quite a nice place to visit. Hope it meets the requisite success here too!

Just Married

Mid-week holidays are dicey. The weekend effect is missing, pills and it spoils the flow of the week. But festivals can fall anytime, arthritis and this year most of them are coming at odd times. Yesterday was Ram Navami, and we had a day off.

A friend had come over in the evening, and to kill time we visited the only happening place that I could think of -Pacific Mall (Sadar Bazar is an option, but it is closed on Tuesdays). Since there is only so much one can window shop, we decided to catch a late night show. My friend left the choice to me, and I chose Just Married a film about which I have read many bad reviews, but one that I really enjoyed. So, I just wanted to check if I was wrong somewhere.

The film seems a huge flop and what better proof could be that the ticket seller was reluctant to issue tickets, since we were the only ones asking for it and he feared that the show might be cancelled if the minimum clientele is not gathered. But we stuck on, and pestered him enough to release the tickets. By the time the show started four more people had ventured in. And that was the total attendance six people in the entire auditorium!

I loved the film the second time as well, despite it being pretty fresh in my mind. This time I concentrated on all the subtle nuances that Meghna Gulzar has built in, and once more I was bowled over by her detailing and scene structures. I had loved the dialogues the first time, but yesterday I could see their resonance at several places. I also understood the relevance of other couples they are not main stories, but in their own way they act like a chorus or a comment on the dilemma that Esha and Fardeen are facing. Meghna has built an excellent ambience which gives the effect of seeing a real honeymoon. Meghna’s inspiration is clearly the middle-class cinema forwarded by the likes of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Bhattacharya. It’s hard for me to describe, and I fear I will take up a lot of space if I start to elaborate the things that I loved in the film. This time, I didn’t mind the overtly filmi denouement even!

A review in a national daily had pissed me off considerably. The reviewer, a lady, had cruelly reduced the entire film to a disparaging one-line which went something like- the film is about whether Esha Deol’s character will have sex or not! I am shocked that a woman could even pass off such an insensitive remark. Maybe the reviewer hasn’t heard of things like emotions and feelings and non-acceptability of strangers for husbands; or probably she doesn’t mind sleeping around with the next hunk that she comes across. But as far as I know or have understood women, Esha’s problems are real. And such women still are in majority. Perhaps, the reviewer needs a strong reality check and needs to move out of her ivory tower and page-three social circle. As Fardeen says in the film, so do I want to frustratingly tell the reviewer, “It’s not about sex dammit!”

I also paid a closer attention to the lead performances and found that Esha Deol has really used her body language to full advantage; small things like nervously twisting her fingers when talking to her husband of few days, or shrivelling up whenever he is too close for comfort, go a big way to add up to a stupendous performance. Same for Fardeen Khan there is an extremely mature sensitivity in his acting, reminding him of his role in Kuchh Tum Kaho Kuchh Hum Kahein (another film that no one saw, but I loved!) I know he has received a lot of flak, but considering that he started off from something like Prem Aggan where he acted worse than a kid would do in a school-drama, it is a quantum leap, and perhaps someone who should be given his requisite due. Of course, there is always room for improvement, and at a few places I could see where they have faltered.

Plus, both Esha and Fardeen make a very good pair. Meghna has ensured they are not larger-than-life; just peep out of your window and probably Abhay and Ritika (the characters they play) are a couple right in your neighbourhood!

I am not into writing fan mails and this post is the closest that I can get to but I truly wish to thank Meghna Gulzar for making this very perceptive, insightful and understanding film!

And yes, my friend – who is not much into seeing films – enjoyed the movie!

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Situated at the posh Sadar Bazar, therapist Jaiwal Bar is a small but great place, shop one of the few modern bars of Agra. The place has an additional soft corner for me as this was the first bar that I had immediately loved when I shifted to Agra; since then, I am a regular here, with even the waiters recognizing me.

Ambience – Handsome! The bar has a trendy decor, with a glazed glass entrance, plastered walls and elegant wooden chairs. On one corner are comfortable sofas for those who wish to relax a little more. They play good music, and there is a television set as well for the ones who want to catch cricket along with their beers.

The only hitch is the very small seating capacity, but I don’t mind that, because overall it gives a very compact and cozy atmosphere.

There is a more down-market version on the first floor, much larger in size and also with an open terrace for those who want to enjoy their drinks under the stars.

Drinks and Snacks – You can get a wide variety of beers from the mild Fosters and Kingfisher to the heavy Haywards and even something called Kingfisher Black (a beer which is actually black in color!). Also, other IMFL and Bacardi are also available.

Snacks are limited but then there all the staple ones that one would need with your drink. They offer a mixture or bhujia complimentary. Masala Peanuts is the hot favorite and tastes wonderful. Egg bhurji is another good option. Chilly chicken can be bad at times, but can be tried.

Value for money– Cent percent! It is the cheapest bar, especially considering its location and ambience. Since alcohol is at is expensive in Uttar Pradesh (as compared to Delhi), I have found having beer at the bar equivalent to having it at home. Hence, why bother to stack up your refrigerator?

Service – Delightfully Friendly! Ok, I am a regular so I always get that extra bit, but even when I wasn’t the service had been fast and impeccable. Often, the owner will chat up with his clientele, imparting it a unique friendly touch.

It is said that some of the best things come small in size, and the dictum is best suited to this bar. I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting the place, because it offers me a very relaxing, affable and laid-back experience just the kind that I need after a hard day’s work. You can often catch me here on the corner seat next to the entrance!

Overall – A decent place to catch up with your buddies and booze!

Related Readings – Chalo Ek ‘Bar’ Phir Se
The Belly Dance Bar and Restaurant

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