Monday, February 27, 2006

Zafar Hai, Bahut Accha Hai

we were special invitees to a private screening of a documentary film called 'keepers of the flame' last saturday at the godrej theatre,n.c.p.a. zafar hai the wellknown filmmaker was commissioned by the tatas to make this documentary to commemorate the hundredth death anniversary of nusserwanji and the birth centenary of jrd. the film traces the origin and the growth of the tatas starting from nosherwanji who relocated from navsari in gujerat to the then bombay to start his career in cotton trading.the documentary tracks the lives of three generations of tatas-nosherwanji,jamshedji and jrd.

i must say i was in for some pleasant surprise.facets of the personalities of these doyens which one had not read or heard about hitherto. brilliant photography,excellent onscreen narration by the flamboyant kabir bedi,a well prepared script narrating the tata family's rise to become a top industrial group in india,their ethics and the vision of the founder came out in the most convincing manner.the pictures of the now raj bhavan at kolkata where lord curzon stayed when he was viceroy and victoria memorial made me very nostalgic.the many firsts of the tata group- empress cotton mills at nagpur,steel plant at jamshedpur,taj mahal hotel at mumbai,tata institute of science at bangalore where nobel laurate c v raman worked and air india were shown alongwith the stupendous efforts and sacrifices made by the family in the last 100 years to create world class institutions.the sacking of jrd, the first chairman of airindia, by morarji desai when he became prime minister was poignant.

both jamshedji and jrd were buried in paris the city they loved.they were passionate about india but it was an irony that they died abroad and had to be buried in foreign was an one hour documentary and we came out with pride over the achievements of this philanthropic group.their rise to eminence,their zeal to industrialise india,their love for their adopted motherland and their value system.

the movie was preceded by tea and snacks and followed by cocktails in the lawn.the weather played a bit of a spoilsport as it was very sticky.not unusual though at this time of the year in mumbai.a bit of breeze from the sea would have helped.we met many of our friends and it was good fellowship.a clear gainer was s who got some bookings and commitment for 'dignity lifestyle'.

zafar hai, bahut hi accha hai.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Mixed Doubles (3B-Breaking Bedroom Boredom)

no,it was not a mahesh bhupati and martina hingis or a sania mirza and liezel huber tennis was a movie we saw yesterday.'mixed doubles'.a satire on spousal friction.produced by rajat kapoor,it is a low budget movie and off the beaten is an a-moral tale.of sexual milon kundera, rajat deals with sex with humour and poignancy.there are many out there who suffer from a similar problem.

it is about a married couple,sunil and malti married for 10 years with a kid.the guy finds that the thought of having sex with his wife doesn't excite him any more and he learns from an office colleague that partners can be swapped.he feverishly surfs the internet and tries to meet willing couples who want to have such an arrangement.the movie is a funny sex comedy and konkona sensharma steals the show with her portrayal as the sexually frustrated husband's innocent and loving wife.she is eventually dragged into meeting a couple-rajat and koel puri but then nothing really happens.there is no sex during the swap.they return minus the adventure and back to their normal lives.

dialogues by anurag kashyap are witty and sharp.ranvir shorey as the boredom afflicted husband does a good job.small time actor vinay pathak as the office colleague who advises sunil to to try spouse swapping acts very well particularly the scene when he cries after his wife deserts him.both koel puri as the wife of rajat kapoor and rajat who form the spouse swapping couple put in natural performances.naseeruddin shah has a cameo role as the father of malti.cinematography by rafi mohammed is excellent.

does rajat kapoor convey any message? i don't think so.he has left it to the viewers to decide what they want to do with their sex lives.boredom creeping into a married life is inevitable.but then how does one counter that and keep the marriage alive and kicking? that is what married couples should contemplate upon.modern urban life puts pressure on both the husband and wife.they have their own careers and has to find an important place in their lives to keep them glued.otherwise their marriage will drift and a breakup would be on the cards. he is not even remotely suggesting spouse swapping to get over the sexual boredom.he addresses a genuine issue and the conflict when sex is no more the driving force for young couples.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Colour of Spring(Rang de Basanti)

having read several raving reviews of this movie we watched it at inox last night.we were very impressed.very good story,excellent acting by almost everyone,terrific cinematography and great music by ar rehman.three hours of entertainment.

the message in the movie is for the younger generation.the nextgen.don't just fritter away your time,in having fun-fast cars,drinking and hiphop music.our forefathers had made huge sacrifices for getting us independence from british something tangible to improve the lot of the country.don't just sit and criticise or remain a change agent.if corruption has to be removed go ahead and do something about it.

the foursome get the message and when their friend is killed in a mig crash decide to take revenge on the defence minister responsible for buying defective spareparts.they kill him.

the movie begins with an english girl coming to india to shoot a film on bhagat singh and other freedom fighters.her grandfather worked for the empire and oversaw the hanging of bharat singh.he writes all this in his diary which the granddaughter reads after many many years.and is moved so much as to decide to produce a movie on these freedomfighters.she meets her friend soha ali in india who takes her to the university campus.she sees the foursome and after meeting them decides that they will be the main actors. aamir khan acts brilliantly as dj.the direction is very cleverly done and past scenes during the uprising are juxtaposed with the present film shooting.

too early to say but could be our nomination for this year's oscar. thanks to maneka gandhi the picture that you see had to be censored.pranab mukerjee and chiefs of defence staff were shown the movie before it was commercially released.good pr work by the controversy.and the cash boxes continue to is a superhit.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Tete-e-Tete with an Ex-Fugitive

Last Friday,after lunch,I picked up the TOI to see whether there was any interesting function for the evening.I was thrilled to see in Today's Engagements a book- reading session organised by Oxford Book Stores.Why was I thrilled when so many of these keep happening? The Chief Guest for the function was going to be Gregory David Roberts.Does it ring a bell in your ears? If not, you have missed reading a literary masterpiece.'Shantaram'.Acknowledged as an international best seller, it is a gripping thriller;a novel of high adventure based on an extraordinary true story of an exfugitive's life in the slums of Mumbai and his involvement with the Mumbai underworld. Gregory David Roberts,an armed robber and heroin addict,jumped an Australian jail,travelled to India on a forged passport and hid himself in a Cuffe parade slum.He joined an underworld don and also ran a firstaid clilnic.He learnt Hindi and Marathi,spent some time in a Mumbai prison,acted in a Bollywood movie and then fought the Mujahiddeens in Afghanistan.His luck ran out when he was caught at Frankfurt aiport and deported to Australia.After serving sentence,he totally reformed himself.He established a multimedia company and is now a fulltime writer living in Melbourne.And his book 'Shantaram' is being made into a movie with the same name.I had read the book in and out and could totally relate myself to the characters.I then and there decided to attend this session.

I was 15 minutes late into the book-reading and I could identify Linbaba on the dais.That is how he is known in Mumbai.The writer of this new book is Sonia Faleiro,a journalist with Tehelka.The book titled 'The Girl' is set in Goa and is about a girl's depression and ultimate suicide.I bought a copy of the book,got it autographed by Sonia,but I am yet to read it.It is her first book and Gregory Roberts was full of praise for the girl's maiden venture.My interest was focussed on Linbaba though.After the book reading of 'The Girl' was over I went across,introduced myself to GDRoberts(Linbaba) and told him how much I enjoyed reading his monumental 933 pages of sheer literary beauty.He was overwhelmed when I said I expected to see an ugly person in him(that is how he referred to himself in the book) but then he was far from that.Tall,wellbuilt,good features and long hair flowing on both shoulders right upto his lower back.A charming smile and a very articulate person.I congratulated him on his perseverance.His manuscripts on 'Shantaram' were trashed twice by the jailors.What a fabulous memory he must be having and the courage to go through it all over again and again!We chatted for about 5 minutes on some characters in the book and about his forthcoming books and the movie 'Shantaram'.He spoke a little bit of Hindi and Marathi when I asked him whether he still remembered these languages.He loves Mumbai and it has now become his second home.

That was a close encounter with an Ex Fugitive. And I have a maha regret.I did not carry my digicamera and my 'Shantaram' copy.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The New Converts

More and more people are turning to vegetarianism.It is not a trend in India alone.It is happening all over the world.Call it the impact of Yoga, call it the call of Gurus like Deepak Chopra,BKS Iyengar,Sri Sri Ravi Shankar or Baba Ramdev. People are making fundamental changes in their eating habits.They are giving up meat and fish and turning a new leaf.The major trigger for this change is the concern over health.People are becoming more health conscious.There are more people exercising now than before.There is literally a Yoga boom.And with it comes the suggestion of having Satvik food for mental and physical wellbeing.. The virtues of eating fresh fruits and vegetables are being extoled.Calorie counting is the in-thing now.One fallout of this phenomenon is that nonvegetarian restaurants are biting the dust.

The latest casualty in Mumbai is Ovenfresh,the Italian cafe at Shivaji Park .It has gone veggie,much to the consternation of the carnivores.And what is it offering now? Vegetable Biryani,Veg Lollipop,Veg Manchurian,Pahadi Kabab and Veg Bolognaise among a plethora of veggie dishes!

Actually for the record,,the original kebab was vegetarian.When man began to eat,he ate the produce off the ground.He often grilled it to make what we now call the kebab.Though from the time of Chenghis Khan,the kebab has come to be synonymous with non-vegetarian fare, historically the kebab has been vegetarian. Now there are delicious dishes such as Veg Galouti,Veg Murtabbak etc. etc. While the former is so soft that it melts in your mouth, the latter is a stack of thin romali rotis,layered with herbal paneer and potatoes and coated with ghee and saffron. Ambrosia,India's first Aurvedic fine-dining restaurant in New Delhi serves you all these delicious dishes. Next time you are in Delhi don't miss it out.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Crocodile Dundee

Those of you who have seen the Hindi film "Salaam Namaste",would be able to recall the character who spoke in a lingo which was a combination of Hindi cowbelt and Australian outback.Whenever he had to affirm a certain proposition he would say "Ezactly", for exactly. He would say so with a certain panache. Him you call an Indian crocodile Dundee.He is a glocalised Indian who has carried the Indlish language far and wide.

When I first heard this expression,I wondered what it was.How did this name come about? I did a little bit of research and hit upon the following story.

A man who waded into a dam and wrested his dog from the jaws of a crocodile has been variously described as a "crocodile dundee" and a "silly twit". Len Stock,a dog breeder,was walking six of his dogs with his wife near Empangeni, on South Africa's east coast,when one of them named Bess went for a swim in the dam.He heard a grunt and a loud splashing and he thought maybe she had had a heart attack or got some water in her ears. She was struggling in the water and he didn't know what was happening,so he took off his sandals and waded in about waist-high.She had gone under and he grabbed at her. What he grabbed was a crocodile and it kicked Stock.He pulled and tugged to get Bess loose and finally the crocodile let go.

Stock became the "crocodile dundee".