Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Watching The International (now I didn't have great expectations, the exclamations on the VCD cover not withstanding) left me with the same old feeling that is quite effectively described by 'KLPD'. Now it wasn't bad, in fact it was downright good in parts and Clive Owen was quite convincing and looked like he took the part seriously (Naomi Watts, otoh, didn't have much to do anyway). But something about thrillers bothers one these days - can't Hollywood with its gazillions and armies of writers create a single f**king spy/detective thriller that holds your attention and actually gets your paisa vasool? The last thriller that I was impressed with was The Mist, based on a Stephen King story, with its excellent ending - even though Marcia Gay Harden's religious nut character was a bit of a caricature and the giant spiders could have been, well, better. But for the last decent spy thriller, I have to go right back to Spy Game.
It's ironical that the one 'crime thriller' I am looking forward to is Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, although judging by the trailers I've seen on YouTube, there may be a little too much action - admittedly, it's an adaption. Downey Jr. as Holmes is intriguing enough in any case.
Goin' on a binge
With not a lot going on right now (am 'between jobs'), I decided to drown myself in some good cinema (and some passable fare too, for timepass). Dev D was on my must see list, mostly because I watched Oye Lucky... a while ago and it was an orgasmic experience considering the usual stuff Bollywood trots out. There is something about watching a taut, well directed and well-acted movie in an Indian language (Dil garden garden ho jaata hai). Of course, it has everything to do with the fact that there are so few of them.
Anyhow, Dev D didn't disappoint, although I would rate Oye Lucky... a better movie overall. What I wasn't prepared for, though, was the music of Dev D. It's been a while since I downloaded (much less listened to) a full Hindi soundtrack. Actually, I've been gorging on it, much as I would a great Dylan or NIN album (not The Slip). Fantastic work by Amit Trivedi and company. For all A R Rehman's talent and reputation, I never got into any of his albums the way I've tucked into this with relish.
Great review by Manish Vij at Ultrabrown.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Wondrous little things
I often wonder if Philip K Dick didn't lose out on an immense amount of material by being an American, as opposed to being Indian. Because India is, contemporary India at any rate, grotesquely surreal if nothing else. The best thing is, one doesn't even have to rely on mind altering substances to 'bring out' the weirdness - it is right there, in your face, all the time.
Exhibit Z: Thanks to Amit Varma / India Uncut, this story about Shiney Ahuja's lawyer. You would think this lawyer would be taken to task, perhaps in a manner suggested by Mr. Varma - but I'm not sure he would be, even if I admit I have not followed the 'story' since. I also expected to see some pronouncements from Ahuja's wife in IU's WTF posts. Now, the lady might sincerely believe her husband is innocent or even that he has been framed (now that's pretty innovative!), but the evidence she presents to make her 'case' is mindnumbing - he doesn't even smoke!!! In a way, this country and society deserve (and breed) such characters, with its twisted sense of morality. No wonder the 'character' of victims of heinous crimes somehow becomes paramount.
Formula One: The Triumph of Marketing
There was a time, not long ago, when I did follow the Formula One circuit. Not that I ever really understood what it was about. And I couldn't ever sit through a complete race on TV either, but there was nevertheless a sense of awe about cars zipping around at blinding speeds (boys and their toys, huh?). The whole daredevil aspect of the sport obviously contributed to the aura.
And then there were the superstar drivers. No one personified, or so it seemed, the sport more than Ayrton Senna, in life and in death.
So even if I barely understood what a pit stop was, had never driven a car (at the time anyway) and had no idea what the likes of Martin Brundle were rambling on about in terms of strategy, I knew who Schumacher was and which teams were in contention. Being something of a sports nut, I pretty much knew all the drivers and teams, in fact.
Come March of 2005, I got to go a Grand Prix! I was quite excited, although most of my initial enthusiasm was dampened by typically fickle Melbourne weather. The speed of the cars and deafening noise left me awestruck for a little while during the qualifying sessions. Race day, however, was different. The best part of it was probably some aerial acrobatics before the race (and the presence of Narain Karthikeyan). There was even a Qantas jumbo jet that flew quite low over Albert Park. As for the race itself, it was impossible to follow it from the sidelines at the venue. You had to tune in to radio or one of several screens at the venue to find out who was in the lead. When the race was over, so was my brief dalliance with the sport.
As I pored over the sports pages today in The Telegraph (Kolkata), I glanced over two pretty substantial write-ups about the latest GP and that got me thinking once again - who in India follows Formula One? What are they fascinated by? How did television marketing manage to sell it to audiences in India (or anywhere else for that matter)? Along with the English Premier League, Formula One has been the one of two major success stories for ESPN-Star over the years, although one suspects EPL has a lot more viewership. In each case, it is a triumph of marketing. There is an obvious difference however - football is almost universally understood and the EPL has some of the best talent in the world and is a traditional spectator sport. Formula One seems to be all about glitz, glamour and slick packaging.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Why on earth is the Indian Express carrying opinion pieces from the arch imperialist / Atlanticist mouthpiece, The Economist? I read a predictable Russia/Putin bashing piece from an Economist hack a week or so ago and then noticed the banner. Wherein the said worthy repeated ad nauseam how belligerent Russia invaded South Ossetia / Georgia. Obviously, the 'Allies' couldn't have expected Russia to just whimper and do nothing about it, could they? So obviously there is a long term plan here, and their puppet Saakashvilli just did what he was supposed to, to kick off proceedings - unless he was just a fall guy.
The real question is, why is IE bending over and carrying these propaganda pieces? As it is, the media in India (at least English language outlets) faithfully publish press releases from US / Allied forces in 'AfPak', as if they were backed by incontrovertible evidence.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Death of a Commentator
Once upon a time, Alan Wilkins used to be a humorous, lovable and engaging anchor, who was so much better than umpteen other pretenders on various sports channels. However,listen to him of late and you know instantly that he has lost it. Totally.
I hope its a passing bad phase and he can rediscover himself soon. Because we would like to see him get back to his old avatar where he was a facilitator for all the expert discussions and was not trying to that job by himself. Quite honestly, he underdstands very little of tennis and is even poorer when it comes to the history of the game. At least that is what is apparent.Especially with his rampant usage of words/phrases like "history being created", "genius" and many more!
The Murray-Wawrinka match was definitely an exciting one. And one can very well appreciate Wilkins' sentiments, him being a Welsh man. However, hasnt the British-man-winning-Wimbledon romance been done to death during the last two decades? First it was Henman which to me, was a ridiculous fantasy. Now its Murray which is definitely possible. But it doesnt grant a license even to Vijay Amritraj to pronounce him as a genius after something like a routine volley. And though it comes from Vijay, I dare say its gross injustice to words like that which deserves to be used only sparingly. When you do that you are creating hype right there.
Murray's first three rounds were Kendrick, Gulbis and Troicki which he was anyway expected to win in a canter. His first "test" (if it can be termed so) was Wawrinka, a top 20; but again someone whom Murray is expected to take in straight sets. Muray can definitely go ahead and win the tournament. But the commentators could have saved the superlatives and their limited vocabulary for the expectedly difficult matches to come and for more deserving circumstances.
Another big laugh was the phrase "British No. 1" being used generously all throughout the telecast of that match. I mean does anyone know (or care) who the British No. 2 is? Except for a period when Rusedski was sane, Britain had only one tennis player anyway!For arguments sake you can drop names like Arvind Parmar. But Oh Come on now, be a sport!
Footnote: The most exciting aspect of that match, to me, was seeing Wawrinka's devastating single handed backhand and not any of Murray's strokes of "genius".