Thursday, November 15, 2007


And so the media blitzkrieg reached its screaming pinnacle over the Diwali weekend.
We saw the whole circus unfold over the last few months, the two big banners striving to out-do each other in every way, the stars of both films appearing on TV shows left, right and centre, news channels eating out of their hands for savvy sound-bytes and more.

So the day came when I popped off to watch Saawariya, what with all the positive buzz over its dreamy sets, the pair of likeable young stars, the formidable Sanjay Leela Bhansali with his penchant for intense, passionate cinema, the backdrop of a classic Dostoyevsky short story and a decent music score.Oh yes, the movie seemed promising alright!

And what of the movie itself?
Well, considering that my review started off on that note, it could only mean bad news ahead.
Hence we start with delectable shots of a Venice/St Petersburg-like Old Town, rather reminiscent of Moulin Rouge incidentally, panning onward to Rani Mukherjee, desperately trying to do the role of a golden-hearted prostitute yet again (and fervently wishing she was doing a song-and-dance number with SRK instead, I bet!)
And then we have the Young Man himself, a little larger than life, cavorting with the gang of prostitutes and making them smile and all that.. the jaadu ki jhappi thing happening full-on.

And aeons and many sugary dialogues and yawns from the audience later, the young lady finally makes her appearance.
I guess that was the first sign.
The original story has this painfully shy and serious young man, who happens to help her when she's being aggressively pursued by an unsavoury character, and then they become friends, and he inevitably falls in love with her, knowing full well that she's already spoken for. And it's all about him, the depth of his feelings, the lengths he goes to help the girl get a note across to her lover, his loneliness.
That's a powerful story, just has raw, believable emotion. But here, our young man is portrayed as an extrovert, a likeable do-gooder, a romantic character so "cute", it takes away the pathos and probably just makes audiences wonder why the girl doesn't get hitched to him. Or makes you wonder why he's running after her when he could just remain happy-go-lucky and move on and find other people. Or makes you wonder why you're still in the theatre watching it, when YOU could move on :-).
So amidst all the blue-green haze of dreamy song sequences and Bollywood-y costumes and rowing boats through canals and singing in the snow, and playing football with women of ill repute, we lose track of his loneliness, his shyness, the fact that he's a friendless stranger in a strange town.
And then on, the story is quite, quite pointless, considering that Bhansali botched up the characterization of the main protagonist.
There's far too much dwelling on the female protagonist, the lovely Sonam Kapoor is made to giggle and cry with a frequency that approaches alarming proportions. There's far too much dwelling on the expendable Rani Mukherjee character, really, it's ridiculous to give a narrator so much footage, it distracts one from the main story.
Salman Khan as the mysterious lover with kohl-lined eyes is a little awkward, but passable, he doesn't hog the limelight like the over-the-top Mukherjee does. The crabby landlady character played by the feisty Zohra Sehgal is decent though, the one shining point in the rambling narrative.

This is one movie I'd have so loved to root for, with all its impeccable credentials and promise. It would have been interesting to watch Ranbir Kapoor play the serious, brooding introvert living his life for those few moments of bliss, instead of a cutesy, cloyingly sweet, larger-than-life character.
It should have ended on a wistful, poignant note, it should have been a real tribute to Dostoyevsky.
Instead, it probably has the Russian master turning in his grave, and the audience wishing it had stayed peacefully indoors for its post-Diwali siesta.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Rafa in India!

Rafa's confirmed his participation in the Chennai Open, Jan 2008!
I hope he doesn't pull out with injuries or something, considering his knee has been giving him some trouble ever since the weeks preceding the US Open.

Now the empress needs to pull out all stops and do whatever it takes to get tickets to the event.

With the number of Rafa bulletins I post on this blog, maybe I should listen to the irrepressible Arthur Dent and rename this space to La maison de Nadal or something, heh.

In the meantime, a few gleeful war-whoops in the hope that Rafa does, indeed, vamos to India, wheeeeeee!!!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Of travails and the aftermath

It's been one of those testing times again.
Slaved it out day and night at work, managed to get it done before the deadline came whooshing in, and now I feel the after-effects of it all.

Strangely listless and worn-out, with an ever-increasing desire to go and fling something
sharp at the blundering gargoyle who calls himself my boss.

Some characters are so warped! The four or five of us involved in this assignment have been slogging it out and burning the midnight oil and sacrificing weekends, and my immediate boss (who's about as senior as the other four people I worked with) has been cooling his heels and not participating an inch, when infact, HIS superiors have been highly active.
And then I get a mail from him sometime in the middle of our mountain of work, asking me to shift to a different floor!
That's right, bang i
n the midst of an important chunk of work, what with the deadline hanging over our heads like the sword of Damocles.

And now, he kicks up a big fuss over my not having shifted yet, without even asking if we'd met the deadline or if there had been any challenges along the way. Dunderheaded coconut!!! Bumbling baboon! Bashi bazouk!! (Grateful thanks to Captain Haddock for such satisfying sobriquets.)
How do people like him get to be where they are?

So I had a pow-wow with the HR lady today, and I went to the extent of telling her that I thought my boss was extremely thick-headed, had a bad memory, was inefficient and disinterested!
I suppose I can get mighty blunt when I want to, especially when I know I've nothing to lose, what with the job scene being so positive and all.
I've been meaning to take a break from work, in any case, travel around a bit, and get back to a new job after a month of rejuvenation.
It will be fun to do something like that, troop in to work after a quick vacation, throw my resignation at the hippogriff's face, and just take off, like a free bird... a phoenix soaring into the skies, without a care in the world and a song in her heart.

Yes. That's just what I shall do. Experience rainbows and deep greens, waterfalls and azure seas, craggy mountains and mossy riverbanks, for they await.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nadal's knee...

Feeling really bad over Nadal's injury, I was so looking forward to another fabulous semi-final showdown featuring Federer/Nadal/Djokovic/Davydenko at the US Open. Sniff.

Here's to the gritty champion, for having managed to eke out a victory in the first round despite that excrutiatingly painful knee injury.

Here's the full story.

Rafa rules!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Just Pottering around...

I've just GOT to share this conversation I had with a friend recently..he is absolutely brilliant at jeu de mots, carries them off with such 'pun'ache!
It was lovely to run into someone else in this vast universe who is as helplessly addicted to punning as I am...(May our tribe increase!)
And so, fellow potterers, without further ado, here's the transcript of that whacky conversation:

Monday, August 13, 2007

While we're on tennis..

Came across this gem recently:

Q: Why is a tennis game a noisy game?
A; Because each player raises a racket.

La Sharapova would like that.

In other news, Novak Djokovic wins the Montreal Masters! Quite a feat, that, defeating the World No. 3, No. 2 and No. 1, on the way to victory. Tennis has been absolutely delectable this year, now if only STAR or someone else would come up with an exclusive tennis channel.
But no, I guess that sort of star treatment is only reserved for cricket, eh?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Vamos, Rafa-aaah!

Yes! It's tennis season again!
The muscular man from Mallorca is in fine form, at the Masters in Montreal.
Looking forward to yet another epic showdown between Nadal and Federer, in the run-up to the US Open later this month.
Now I just hope Star Sports/TEN Sports/ESPN air the matches properly, instead of obsessing over cricket, as they normally do. Hmph.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Language woes

My new firm seems to take its Indian-ness rather too seriously! While I love Indian languages (and all languages in general), this whole closed-clan, "us-them" syndrome is beginning to annoy me like the dickens. It's bad enough when we're party to it at social occasions, but now I realize it has crept into the boardroom as well.

This must have been around for ages, but I was lucky to have escaped it all these years, at my previous workplace.

Here, I've been shocked to note that no-one thinks twice before starting off in their own languages even during business meetings and technical discussions. They just don't seem to care that there are participants who are completely out of the loop just because they don't speak the same regional language. This also seems to subtly reinforce the whole partisan attitude that most of us suffer from.
There's so much hypocrisy involved here; on the one hand, they like to brand themselves as multi-cultural, global organizations with an Indian core, on the other hand, they do not seem to possess that united Indian core, when they start off in their personal languages.
I even noticed this amongst some of the top executives, at business meetings with international clients!
Of course, it's not a purely Indian problem.. of course we know that the Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, French, Polish, Russian and many other countries do it too. BUT the key difference is that every Frenchman knows French, every Russian knows Russian, and so on, but in India, every Indian doesn't know Kannada, or Marathi or whatever.
There's a reason why we have an official language, even if it's colonial and non-Indian.
And in any case, the single biggest factor for India being the IT hub and all of that is Indian proficiency in English, there's no getting away from that.
So on the one hand, we tout ourselves as global people with excellent English, and at the same time, we don't bother to conform to it at our own meetings and discussions.

I really wonder why there's so much clannishness really? Does it arise out of a deep-rooted feeling of insecurity somehow?
Are we so happy being big fish in small ponds, that we'd rather exclude everyone who'd bring in enough diversity to transform that pond into an ocean?
Are we so insecure that we need to resort to such small-minded techniques to maintain our exclusivity or superiority, sacrificing basic etiquette on the altar of a warped sense of unity?

I'm truly proud of our diverse culture and our languages, and I'm really glad that there are enough people left in this country to care about their roots and their own particular cultures, so that our rich heritage doesn't die out.
But I wish we'd also be open-minded enough about other cultures, undertand the concept of India as a nation (no North-South divide, no regional biases), and develop a sense of inclusion - especially on the professional front.

And I wouldn't have to smile vaguely or tune out of workplace conversations ever again.