Thursday, March 30, 2006

TAXI NO 9211

in the early 60s a hindi movie called nau do gyarah hit the celluloid scenes.i think dev anand was in the lead role and probably the heroine was kalpana karthick or nutan,i don't was quite a boxoffice success.those days dev saheb was a sure shot.he had the midas touch.the songs were very hummable and lingered in your memory for long.

nau do gyarah hona means running away.numerologically the digits add upto four.and that has got nothing to do with vanishing.perhaps the name had something to do with Raghav Shastri(nana patekar),the taxi driver,who his wife thinks is really an insurance agent.he has hidden this fact from his wife. a dr jekyll and mr hyde. jai(john abraham),the philanderer,is about to lose all his inheritance because his father has willed it to his close associate,fed up with the son's irresponsible behaviour.the will is lying in the bank locker and that is jai's only hope.his car is not working(actually he bashed it up the previous night after a drinking session) and he is already late for the court hearing and he has to get the will from his locker and he loses the locker key in taxi no,9211 which brings him only bad luck.

milan luthria who worked as an assistant to mahesh bhatt in his early days decided to do it on his own a few years ago and came out with a cool and stylish 'kacche dhaage' followed by 'chori chori' and 'deewar'.his latest, taxi number 9211, was supposed to capture the real mumbai by shooting on location("in situ").and i think it clearly failed in this objective.

two men from opposite ends of the social spectrum meet. one is a taxi driver,the other a playboy who is about to lose his fortune.irrespective of their social status there are similarities between them.they are selfish,short-tempered and driven by social their madness they destroy each other and at the end have only their shattered egos in tact.

nana patekar dominates the film with his superb acting.john abraham is just about ok.regarding the rest,less said the better.also poor editing and cinematography very average.there were some siver linings though.priyanka chopra's cameo and sanjay dutt's voiceover narrating the story.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


honestly,i had never seen this before in my life.a bottle of pickles was put in front of me.and what i saw confused me.sometimes it is prudent to be i kept quiet all the time wondering what it was.when it was our third course,tayir saadam(curd rice),s opened the bottle and pulled out a whole bunch of small black and green round balls(more black and less green) and started eating them with curd rice and she seemed to enjoy every bit of it.very carefully,i looked at it with some trepidation and decided to follow tasted different-very hot and a very strong flavour.they are peppercorns,dark and heavy,and they grow wildly in idukki,in the western ghats in kerala.(like mahali,this is another keralite influence on tamil nadu)

no wonder,both columbus and vasco raced for this hit the jackpot,the other was totally offtrack and called the natives "indians" and their chillies red pepper.what a world of difference.

peppercorn grows in the westernghats 10 meters or more into the sky.with their feet dangerously perched on the hardened prop roots of the bamboo pole,the natives climb higher and higher till they reach their does one know that it is ripe for plucking? a red berry in the stalk.more blushing berries is good news for the native climber.he ties it firmly in his 'mundu'(dhoti) and then when the bulge in his waist is too much ,he makes the descent carefully,dumps the pickling on the ground,and then starts separating the stalk from the berries.bery berry good.idukki is the bastion of the finest pepper in the world.

i liked it.and i have it quite often these days with my favourite' tayir saadam'.like mahali pickles,one has to cultivate the taste for the blackgold.'milagu oorga'(peppercorn pickle).

it is a pickle- connoisseur's delight.

Friday, March 24, 2006


i have now seen both.the "gay cowboy" movie and the "ensemble drama".one a slowmoving,sombre,homosexual weepie.the other about a tough multiracial society coping with aftereffects of 9/11. the maximum usage of the four letter word in any english movie.182 to be exact.what does one make of it?

actually it was a taut short story by annie prolux that first appeared in the new yorker way back in 1997."how secrets that you share ultimately define real love and make it last".it is just not about two gay cowboys roaming around beautiful wyoming,grazing sheep and soaking in nature's is about cheating in marriage,and tasting the forbidden fruit.two men in love,cannot resist the pull of marriage,raise families,meet secretively on fishing trips and the old flame gets raised.

both the movies were technically well produced and the themes sensitively handled by the respective directors. hats off to ang lee and paul haggis for that. but i came out with a feeling that there was nothing astonishing or extraordinary..i have seen better movies from hollywood which have borne no oscar stamp.

i am now convinced that hollywood doesn't just get it.there is a big disconnect between what movies are really worth seeing and those that get the oscar nominations and awards. it is said that statistics don't are some to drive home my point.brokeback mountain had 8 nominations under different categories,it got 3 oscar awards,and had 27th place in box office sales.crash got the best picture award and it played to empty theatres.capote had 5 nominations including best was not even in the top 100 at the box office.memoirs of a geisha and good night good luck had 6 nominations and they had 45th and 90th place in the box wars III,harry potter and goblet of fire, war of the worlds and march of the penguins didn't feature anywhere.

i am sure the judges are an intelligent and talented lot.but they are steeped in a culture that is out of tune with reality.i undesrtand that box office revenues do not determine artisitc worth but then it has to be recognised that a combination of great art and great ideas normally turns into a blockbuster. i must say that neither of these movies really made any major impact on me. neither for great art or great ideas.perhaps i am a contrarian.i have come to the inescapble conclusion that they just don't get it right.the oscar jury.

Friday, March 17, 2006


the dignity township for senior citizens at neral(7kms from matheran) is nearing completion.hopefully most of the external work will be completed before the onset of the monsoon.the annual rainfall in matheran is about 500cm.which is very high compared to the all-india average.last year due to the very heavy rains work had to be stopped several times.we hope and pray that it will not happen so this year.we decided to have the 'gruha pravesham' havan and other religious rituals this month on an auspicious day.13th march was chosen by our family purohit.there were about 450 people who had assembled to participate in the function.the pujas were followed by lunch for the guests and village elders.about 58 cottages will be ready for occupation by end march/1st week of april.we expect most of these to be filled up before june.the administration building,the dining hall and the club house might take another 2 to 3 months for completion.phase 1 would have been completed by is s's dream coming true.

s has decided to stay there temporarily till 1st week of april.on the day of holi,i made another visit.and we decided to go up to matheran and take a look-in after many many years.matheran is about 2500 feet above sea level and is a quiet and beautiful hill station.population is only about 6000.from jumma patti which is the last rail stop, one has to walk up the hills or go on horseback or take a handpulled rickshaw.there is a toy train going right upto matheran, but currently out of order.the distance is covered in approximately one hour.the rickshaw can take only one person.we were three of us and we therefore took three rickshaws.though it was close to noon when we left we did not feel the heat at fact it was very pleasant.the rickshawallas steered the handcart with dexterity on a very kuccha boy pulled the rickshaw and another two boys pushed it from behind.we had some breathtaking view from atop and i took some pictures.we also looked up the neemrana hotels 'verandah in the forest'.they also own 'villa potti pati' at bangalore.this is the best hotel in matheran.the downhill ride was easier and by 3pm we were back in neral for a late lunch.

the evening was spent in various discussions with s and another colleague.we expect to get connectivity through reliance who are the service providers.i plan to spend most of the coming weekends in neral.i love the peace and tranquility at the dignity township.neral is 92 kms from our home at mumbai.the road is excellent and it takes only ninety minutes in the mornings when there is not much traffic and about two hours during day time.i want to make the most of it before the rains arrive.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


i have been travelling to bangaluru so often in the last one year that i decided to stop travelling businesss class and also to refrain from staying in 5star hotels.besides saving a good amount of money for my company which it can ill afford in its present juncture,i like the thrill of booking my tickets on the net in the last minute,taking a printout of the eticket and waving it to the security at the airport entrance who earlier used to look a trifle surprised when they saw this sheet of paper being waved at them instead of a regular more.they ask "e ticket"? now they give a broad smile and let you in.that is the way flying has changed in our country. courtesy air deccan,spicejet,go or even the omniprresent,omnipotent and ubiquitious indian airlines,sorry indian.and ofcourse the going- to-be behemoth jet airways.

bangalauru hotels have become frightfully expensive.windsor manor charges you upwards of tenthousand for a single night.that is if you are lucky to get accomodation.there are more rooms in demand than the supply and therefore these 5 star hotels are having a blast.i decided to stop this mindless expenditure and decided to try lower tariff hotels.i also stay at the bangalore club but then unless you book well in advance the chance of getting a room are very remote.the tariff is only rs that have neat and clean rooms,towels,bedlinen and comfortable ac sans all the five star trappings.i tried the atria several times(rs 5000) and was quite happy.this time i decided to try villa pottipati.a funny name i first thought when i read about it in an ia inflight magazine.i tore the pages and kept them with me for future reference. in my previous visit all the 15 or so rooms were full;so they said bad luck.please try in your next visit.this time i was lucky.i got "anekal" for rs 2500 basic plus 12% taxes which takes you to rs 2800.breakfast on the house,quite surroundings,courteous service,plenty of magazines to read,elegant and compact rooms,well-lit and a comfortable bed,simple dinner service,locker and tv.good bathroom with solar hot water was so hot even with the cold water tap opened full. i think i will stay there during my next visit too.besides all the above,it is only a five mintes drive from our factory at rajajinagar.

located at malleshwaram.the tambrahm bastion,the house belonged to a reddy family from the village of pottipati in andhra pradesh.i learnt that a frenchman has bought a number of these old mansions and palaces/havelis and converted them into hotels without disturbing their oldworld charm.for example,vpp has red oxide flooring,old rosewood cupboards and alcoves,huge rosewood double beds and other period furniture.a big lawn in the front where the villa boys play cricket! sreesanths and piyush chawlas have fired the interest of our youth so much that in every streetcorner you find youngsters playing cricket with a tennis or rubber ball,makedo stumps and bats made by the nomads from rajasthan.

visit and see what they have to offer.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


many of us would have read jane austen's 'pride and prejudice' in our younger days.set in 18th century britain,the story is about five sisters and a purpose-driven mother and a take-it-easy father.the mother finding that her children are of age and realising their rather weak economic condition is hell-bent on seeing her daughters married off to well-to-do guys.

no love marriage is all arranged and all for the good of everyone.but she has a problem with her second daughter who has a mind of her own.she is beautiful,wellread and can't think of marriage unless she has fallen in such nonsense for the mom.all her time is spent in showcasing her five daughters to likely suitors by taking them to balls,inviting people home etc some cases she succeeds and in some she fails.her husband is uninvolved and is clear that whatever has to happen will happen.

the question that begs is, is this story worthy of an nth adaptation as a movie.several p&p have been cinematised in the past all of them not so successfully.where does the appeal lie in the story? and why is it that every now and then some people are bitten by the bug to bring this story on celluloid? the answer to me appears to be is a masala waiting to be properly mixed and exploited.if judiciously done a fortune could be made.

the story is about one humongous family,chitchatting and giggling girls,a dominant mother and a kind lovable father.set in the old days of britain,it brings with it some oldworld charm and economically deprived people can exploit their strengths to improve their needs a strong and independent mind like that of mrs beetly and focus to achieve her objectives.

what are the plus points in this movie? of course keira knightley as elizabeth,the second precocious daughter of donald sutherland and breda beetley who are mr and mrs bennet.her beauty is a given.her acting rises to great heights.who would have imagined that a 20 year old dyslexic girl who started her career when she was 3 years of age as a child artiste and played fantastic roles in 'bend it like beckham' and 'domino' would so quickly be close to winning the oscar for her role as lizy?

she hates mr darcey when she first meets him in a ball.he is too arrogant,conceited and condescending.initially he has the same feelings.he gradually starts liking her and even proposes to her which she rejects.but then there is a change of heart and chemistry and she actually falls in love with him,when she knows him for what he truly is.

good costume designs,excellent cinematography,superb direction.all the ingredients for winning an oscar award.nominated under four categories.will p&p make it? your guess is as good as mine.oscar awards are unpredictable.i was bitterly disappointed last year when my favourite actor and most likely for the award didn't make is a gamble.let us wait and see whether the old wine is truly of period quality and importantly is lucky to stand out as a winner.just two more days to go.sunday 5th march.i will wait with bated breath.


surprising though it may seem,accompanied by a colleague,i decided to become a little adventurous for lunch yesterday.s had bought some stuff from bombay stores on pm road and she had been given a free rs 200 coupon for food at yoko's.she had promptly passed it on to me and when i was clearing the mess on my worktable yday,i found this small piece of paper and the last day for availing of this discount was 28th feb.then and there i decided to have a go at it. with a little bit of trepidation,i must admit. "gb,no lunch to be packed" and off i left for the office some time later.i had warned my accounts manager yday morning that i was going to treat him for lunch and he was pretty excited.gunbow street is very close to our office and many many years ago,shall we say 45 years ago,we lived in this area for 2 years when we first moved to mumbai.i knew the coordinates quite well and we reached the place around 1.30.

yoko's sizzlers was earlier 'star of asia',an irani joint.i had been there earlier during my days in st xavier's college for pav and maska and hot tea.they used to apply 'polsons' butter those days.the whole place had undergone a was expected.the new owner,anjum rizvi has done a good job,i must admit, pleasing indoor deco,courteous waiters,quite and peaceful place. very good ambience.the two most important things-quality and taste of food and the price.on both counts,yoko's sizzlers comes out in flying colours.

we ordered mushroom soup for my colleague,cheese and onion soup for was just the right temperature and tasted great.we moved on to vegetable sizzlers.the first time i had heard and seen sizzlers was in 1967 when an indusrtrial engineer colleague of mine took me out for lunch to the taj mahal hotel. some years back s and i went to indigo and everyone was ordering only sizzlers.the smoke and aroma was so overpowering that we decided to leave.a deja vu now.served on a hot skillet and served piping hot,it was on a bed of rice on which capsicum,potatoes,cabbage,cauliflower,carrot and peas topped up with sweet and sour sauce and fine cheese shavings.actually we had one by was a big portion.and to cool down the hot sizzlers we went for some real cold stuff.kulfis.and they were gorgeous.and we felt we should have ordered one by two for the dessert too.

and the bill came to just rs 510 less rs 200 discount and the net bill was just rs 310. add rs 50 for tips and it was a pretty good deal. we left satisfied and decided to come again when we were in a mood for sizzlers. oh,i forgot. i must say "thanks" to s for leaving that scrap paper on my table!