Sunday, October 29, 2006


s is away visiting l and i wanted to see a movie the night before diwali. i had a tough was a toss-up between 'don' and 'jaan-e-mann'.i chose the latter.a wrong decision.i couldn't sit beyond intermission.first time probably in my life when i walked away before the movie was over.was it my intolerance of the traditional bollywood fare or what i am not army of qawwals walking out of a wooden cupboard.bizareness almost like a broadway musical.and it seemed that so much money was wasted in production design.ridiculous sets and a lot of rubbish from shirish kunder,husband of farah is shirish's debut film and an example of what happens when you allow your imagination to run wild without any control.when you try to imitate hollywood without any humour and emotions you end up looking stupid.

anupam kher plays a dwarf(baun in hindi) when he is the vertically challenged lawyer and appears as a normal person when he is a restaurateur in new york.a double whammy.akshay kumar as the geek turned dapper good guy is fantastic and endearing though he hardly says anything much in the first half when he keeps on mumbling.salman is the cool dude.longhaired rock singer,immature and a charming womaniser.preity has beauty,brains and wealth.

the picture starts with agastya rao(akshay) narrating his life's story to his blonde colleague on board a spaceship.agastya is a nasa astonaut and scientist.two guys suhan kapoor and agastya (salman and akshay) love the same girl,piya goyal(preity zinta).salman the ex-husband is trying hard to make his ex-wife fall in love with akshay.just to avoid paying a huge and hefty alimony(50 lakhs).and that is the brainwave of his lawyer chachu,anupam kher.suhan's friend,philosopher and guide.piya is in new york,so they take off alongwith akshay who is keen to meet his college love piya.little does he know that she is already married to suhan.

then a collage of new york images.a terrible assault of colour and sequences which compels you to squirm in your seat.the film's director,shirish kunder, takes the credit for the dialogue,story,screenplay and what have you. wish he had shared the work with others.perhaps he could have prevented the movie from becoming a has been produced by sajid nadiadwala for rs 35 crores. and music which is by anu malik is average.and charges of plagiarism have been levelled which anu malik has denied.

my comments and review may not be complete because i did not see the second half.a reviewer said that if you can sit through the first half you will enjoy the second half.after all those initial hiccups,i couldn't wait for the film to settle down.the cashregister hasn't rung for sajid,i understand.though his initial investment of rs35 crores might have been realised,the movie is almost a flop.i am not at all surprised.

i make no 'bauns' about is jaan-e-moan.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

the inheritance of genes

she is the youngest author and woman(35) to win the man booker prize.her mother anita desai came very close to the coveted prize three times and missed it.1980,1984 and took her seven torturous years to complete the book,"the inheritance of loss".this is her second book,the first one was "hullabaloo in the lit orchard" written in 1999.the man booker prize winning book originally had 1800 pages which was cut to a sixth i.e. to 300 pages.her mother was the first person to see the manuscript.the old guard sniffed a winner.hermione lee,chairperson of the man booker judges said "the winner was chosen after a long,passionate and generous is a magnificent novel of humane breadth and wisdom,comic tenderness and powerful political acuteness".

anita desai,living in a remote tibetan settlement, advised her daughter to wear a sari for the award dinner.kiran was stressed and felt that not being used to wearing a sari,it would take a long time to wear one and even if held with safety pins it might fall.also it was completely transparent.and she couldn't risk a wardrobe malfunction.

at the award dinner,she thanked her parents.because she said she is indian.her father had reminded her to do so.she is very close to both her parents.they are separated and live their own lives.they provided a strong support system to her and goaded her to finish the book.she stayed a lot with her mother in the last stages of the book.both wrote in separate rooms and met only for coffee and meal breaks.her mother hadn't read her book until it was finished.while she was writing the prize winning book she also received support from suketu mehta and amitav ghosh."writing doesn't come from contentment and champagne.that's not where a novel comes from.writers lock themselves in their rooms ,they travel,they vanish and sometimes their lives fall apart".she lived frugally."everything i own can be fitted into two suitcases".of course, she is now richer by 93,000 us dollars.

i read excerpts of the book and i was bowled over.i hope to get hold of a paperback soon and read what has been described as some exquisite writing.she has been influenced and inspired by her mother's writings, she said.but her style is different."writing is in my blood". no doubt,kiran has inherited a lot of her genes from her mother.

Real Life into Reel Life

Woh Lamhe is supposed to be the the real life story of Mahesh Bhatt's relationship with the late actress Parveen Babi who sizzled the silver screen in the 70s.Too much of grief and tragedy leaves you feeling whether it was all really so bad for Parveen Babi.Schizophrenia and paranoia is a deadly combination no doubt.And if Parveen Babi suffered often from the twin attacks she must really have gone through hell and also caused lot of pain to herself and those around her particularly her companion Mahesh Bhatt.Did Mahesh Bhatt find it difficult to handle her,when she perhaps needed him most? Would you abandon your wife because she becomes a paranoid schizophrenic. Is it a tough question? Why did Mahesh Bhatt selectively release in the media letters that Parveen Babi had recorded on audio tapes and which she sent to him when they were in the thick of their affair in mid 70s.Isn't there a fine line between private and public life? He has turned out to be the master of washing dirty linen in public.And all this preceded the release of the movie.Was he cashing in on the dead and gone Parveen Babi.She is no more to give the public her response.

The film starts with actress Sana Azim (Kangana Raut) attempting suicide by slashing her wrists.Aditya Garewal,her saviour (Shiney Ahuja), is devastated.He has been looking out for her from the time she suddenly disappeared when they were in Goa.There are many who selfishly benefit from Sana's plight.A loutish boyfriend,an insensitive mother,greedy producers all of them hell bent on exploiting her for their narrow interests.She falls in love with a young unemployed director(Shiney Ahuja) who wants to pillion ride on her fame by casting her in his first film.In the process,he falls in love with her.He helps her during her attacks of hallucination and paronia and even takes her away to Goa to help her convalesce when the odds for recovery are heavily stacked against her. Masumi Majhika acts as Rani who haunts her and encourages her to go round the bend.And then Sana disappears.

I think Kangana has stepped into Parveen Babi's shoes with courage and conviction.Though a bit weak on diction,nonetheless she plays her role superbly.Shiney Ahuja as the charmimg filmmaker who is willing to sacrifice his career for his love plays his role very convincingly.Purab Kohli,in a supporting role, as Shiney's friend does a good job.Mohit Suri's direction is above average and the film is quite fast-paced.

Woh Lamhe(those moments)is the pathos-ridden story of a beautiful actress- charmimg and mesmerising.But when her life takes a nasty turn, she has no one with her.Heartbreaking,cruel,tragic;call it what you like,that is her fate.I wonder whether this was really her life.Thankfully, Mahesh Bhatt's trilogy-Arth,Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayee and Woh Lamhe has been completed.He has explained his side of the story.We will never know Parveen Babi's.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Mumbai Shining

I was returning from Bangalore on 16th Monday night.My flight was delayed by an hour.I landed at 11 pm and when I was on D'silva Road,Dadar,on my way home,I was amazed to see hundreds of brightly lit lanterns hanging from so many shops.

I learnt that a kandeel(lanterns) mahotsav was on at Dadar where kandeels were being sold in a price range of Rs 20- Rs 600.To suit all pockets,say those cheeky advertisements. The kandeel mahotsav offers a variety of lanterns made of paper,handmade paper,cardboard,cloth,bamboo sticks,icecream sticks etc.It is a one hundred percent eco-friendly exhibition.It was about 11.30pm.I stopped my car and had a close look at the kandeels which were hanging.It was a brilliant sight in the darkness outside.These kandeels fluttering in the breeze made a beautiful picture.A pity that I didn't have my camera with me.I would have gone on clicking.

When I got some free time five days later,it looked as if all those thousands of kandeels had all been sold.I was very disappointed.There were a few shopkeepers left with about a dozen kandeels.With great difficulty I managed to take a few pictures.

Kandeel is a desi lantern.This Divali it seems to be the rage.The handcrafted cloth kandeels in bright colours.These are embellished with mirrorwork for which Gujerat and Rajasthan are famous.And embroidery.These are mainly manufactured in Maharashtra,Gujerat,Rajasthan and Orissa.Not only do they last long,after Divali they can be used as lampshades.The Gujerat and Rajasthan ones are more stylish to look at than the traditional Maharashtrian ones.I understand that the main idea of the exhibition was to reintroduce the traditional Maharashtrian type of 'aakash kandeel' that has bamboo as its basic framework with long paper strips attached to it.There are the folding and star shaped paper lanterns too.The papers are usually red,orange,yellow and blue.The lantern prices range from Rs 60-Rs 600.Besides Dadar,these are also available at Mahim,Parel,Lalbaug and Colaba Causeway.There are regular star and diamond shaped lanterns made out of plastic,gelatin paper and thermocole.Not eco friendly at all.Cartoon shaped lanterns priced at Rs 50 sold like hot cakes.

There were lanterns made from ice-cream sticks and costing about Rs 125. They were decorated with beads,colourful laces,cloth,gold paper wrapped plastic bells and hexagonal,pentagonal or octagonal balls.There is the 'lamandiva' whicch comes with electric bulbs.The smallest lantern is called car lantern.It is priced at rs 150 and there is big demand for these kandeels from corporate houses.The frame is made out of wooden matchsticks and has handmade paper.The lantern stand is also given alongwith the lantern.The largest size of the lantern is about 6 feet and it is made using cardboard and coloured paper.This mahotsav saw celebrities from the tv and cine industries.A UK based Maharashtrian client was so impressed with the eco-friendly Aakaash Kandeels that he ordered 30 lanterns to be taken back to UK.

Aamod Shetye,the organiser of this Mahotsav has big ideas.He also plans a 'kandeel at doorstep' where people could select kandeels from catalogues and have them delivered at their doorstep.Surely,the cotton lanterns and paper lamps have lit up the market this Divali.And Mumbai is shining.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


it was an order that the trustees did not bargain for. they were cocksure that the pil filed by the affected residents did not merit high court intervention. after all, after akshardam,ayodhya and varanasi,siddhivinayak(lord ganesa) temple, is in the hitlist of terrorists. and security measures had to be taken to prevent a repeat of what happened in those temples.yes,by all means security must be reinforced for the safety of the temple and its piligrims.but does that give the license to the trustees to grab public land ostensibly for security of the temple? the high court didn't think so.

in a recent order given by the division bench of the mumbai high court,the trustees have been asked to demolish the wall by october 30. in the arguments the sv temple advocate pleaded that his clients had sought police help due to the 'threat perception' and that the bmc had given permission to the construction of the wall. the police advocate said that since bmc permission was given, the trustees went ahead with the construction for safety of the temple and the pilgrims. it transpires that the permission was only temporary and the temple authorities were expected to bring the wall down as soon as the permission expired on october 31 2006. however,bmc advocate claimed that the trustees had spent rs 6 crores on the construction of the 40 metre long wall and that they should be allowed to maintain it in the oveerall interests of security.the division bench was unrelenting.they ordered the demolition to be completed by 30th october and that due compliance be reported to the court.

this whole episode raises a few pertinent issues.if security was the prime concern,there were so many other methods available than to grab a large portion of land and build a huge wall.and how does that prevent a terrorist to get into one of the neighbouring buildings and perform his mission.and should the trustees be spending rs 6 crores for a temporary structure? the crash barrier includes a four foot high concrete wall and a three foot high metal barricade.

it is evident that the trustees placed themselves above law. they put into inconvenience hundreds of residents in the vicinity by blocking access to three important roads and to busstops and did not bother to consult them if at all they wanted some road space. they were confident that as they had the backing of the police and the bmc, no body could touch them. alas it was not so. the residents upset by this highhandedness of the trustees decided to file a pil(public interest litigation) in the mumbai high court pointing to the land grabbing and inconvenience caused to the public in the name of temple security.members of cooperarive societies living nearby are not allowed to leave or enter the premises after 10 had become dangerous for pedestrians especially senior citizens and children who had to dodge motorists.also the wall caused massive traffic disruptions on the busy veer savarkar marg."the wall is a direct encroachment on our fundamental right to movement" said the president of the prabhadevi residents' association.the advocate who represented the petitioners is neither a senior advocate or even a wellknown lawyer. but he did the job and received accolades from his clients and the public at large.

yet another instance of state government failure and judicial intervention for meting out justice.

Monday, October 23, 2006

to hang or not to hang?

goi is in a dillemma.afzal guru had been charged with attempting to murder parliamentarians when the terrorists attacked parliament on december 13 2001.on august 4 2005 the supreme court delivered its final judgement in the endorsed the view that the attack on parliament should be viewed as an act of war against the government of went on to say that the collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is meted out to the offender.though there was no direct evidencce linking afzal guru to the attack,enough circumstantial evidence pointed to afzal's collaboration with fidayeen terrorists.he has been found guilty and he faces death by hanging for the dastardly act alleged to have been committed by the terrorist group.he was set to be hanged on october 20.

the government is dithering. it has received numerous representations for reducing his sentence to life imprisonment.the jand k government has recommended that he may be pardoned.public opinion is overwhelming in kashmir.they see it as a miscarriage of justice. bjp and many others on the other hand want the government to go ahead and hang him.they feel that perpetrators of such a dastardly crime must face the death penalty.they are outraged that the government is even considering the requests from various political and non-political groups.afzal guru's family has met the president of india and has asked for clemency.the supreme court has intervened to say that the president does not have the powers to pardon such an offense on political or religious grounds

many of those who are recommending that he should not be hanged are of the view that he will become a martyr and it will in no way help the process of peace and reconciliation in the kashmir valley.he should rather be given life imprisonement.
in any case they say that civilised countries should do away with death penalty as it is a barbarious act to hang or shoot a person for his crime.

there are too many unanswered questions says arundhati roy of 'god of small things' a recent coverpage article of the latest issue of 'outlook' titled 'don't hang afzal',she says that if afzal is hanged we will never know the real people behind the crime.lashkar-e-toiba or jaish-e mohammed or someone else.she is of the view that afzal did not get a fair trial.he did not get a lawyer of choice at the sessions court where the evidence is presented and witnesses are cross examined.the trial she claims was unfair.she suggests that hanging may itself be a misdeed which will not be easily forgotten.or even forgiven.

meanwhile preparations are afoot to keep the rope and the hangman ready.buxor central jail 100 miles from patna will spin the special manila rope in the jail premises.the rope costs rs 180/ has a lot of handwork that goes into its making.first a thick thread is spun from the yarn from j-34 variety of cotton and then the thread is smoothened by soft wax. tihar jail appears to be feverishly looking out for a hangman.what happened to its own hangman is not clear.there are many who have volunteered to do the job.

so what will goi do?

it is a million dollar question.

The Monk Who Missed the Grammy

This monk has a long name.Geshe Ngawang Tashi Bapu.His name and fame has spread far and wide.Known popularly as Lama Tashi,he was born into a yak-herder's family.With a Godgiven gift.A mellifluous voice.And his solo album Tibetan Master Chants was nominated in the Best Traditional World Music category at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards this year.He is 38 years old.When he was 15 years,he joined the Bomdila monastery in Arunachal Pradesh.His forte is his 'deep voice' chant.A skill that he acquired over years of chanting the Buddhist mantras.To him a word of praise from the Dalai Lama is more treasurable than the Grammy award which he almost won.In 2000,while he was chanting, the Dalai Lama paused in front of him and said "you have a nice voice".

Lama Tashi has plans to set up a home in Arunachal Pradesh for the homeless from the royalties he will be receiving from his solo album.And that he says is closest to his heart.Surely,Lama Tashi has is heart in the right place.He chants so that his listeners may get some peace of mind.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ad Gurus Put To Shame

a bank executive at chennai was suddenly transferred to delhi and had to join duty the very next week.he wanted to sell his 17 month-old car before he left bag and baggage.he was running out of time. waiting for the next issue of classifieds in the local newspaper was out of question.he had to come up quickly with an alternative strategy.

what did he do? he simply posted two A4 size papers on the front and rear windshields of the car on which was prominently written"this car is for contact cell no --------------".

as he sped past mount road,his mobile started ringing. and it rang and rang.endlessly. "sir,how old is your car? is it single owner driven? how many kms has it done? what is your price expectation?

the owner was flooded with didn't take him much time to wrap up the deal and head for delhi.

that was an ingenious way of marketing.the ad community reacted with mixed comments.while some felt that the genuineness of the claims made by the seller by such ads are suspect,others felt that it was a different and cost-effective way of marketing a product.i think that the bank executive did a brilliant job.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

it's not iq or eq,dude. it's bq

now here is some research analysis.more than 20,000 people in america were analysed for their height,weight,age,etc to judge their beauty quotient without bringing in any level of subjectivity.also first born children were included in the study.

what does the state of research on sexual evolution say? "females can produce only so many times in their lives;whereas for men at least theoretically the possibilities are all the females in the world times the number of reproductive opportunities(those females) have". sounds complex? anyway this theory fits in with the results of the ananylsis say the london school of economics researchers.

the result is that attractive parents are 26% more likely to have a daughter than a son as their first child. it is an inexorable process resulting in women becoming more and more attractive than men. beautiful parents have more daughters than ugly parents. because you get beauty from the genes and daughters benefit from attractiveness more than sons. and that over time, women on an average are more attractive than men.

said a senior british conservative party mp," i'm sure that i've made no contribution on the attraction front.the beauty quotient lies with my wife,which is probably why we have two of both."

the golden couple of hollywood brad pitt and angelina jolie succumbed to evolutionary forces when their first child,shiloh nouvel, turned out to be a girl.there are many more beautiful people who lend weight to this theory.

Friday, October 20, 2006

bonjour blogger!

the french are known to be very passionate people.during my several visits to france i have seen and experienced this typical french emotion.they are also very egoistic and proud.and individualistic too.i was,therefore, not surprised when i read a recent market research report on blogging which ranked the french as the world's most intensive bloggers. blogging is taken 'tres serieusement'. 60% of french internet users visit a blog almost every month ahead of users of other nationalities. in june these french bloggers spent more than one hour visiting france's top-rated blog sites far ahead of americans and germans. more than 3 million internet users which is an eighth of those on line in france have created a blog. and that makes it 5% of the french population. loie is their guru. he is spreading the blogging culture. you cannot be elected president of france if you don't have a blog said a france mp.(our president abdul kalam has his own blog!)

the french authorities expect less congestion on the roads if the french give went to their feelings via the blog and not on the streets. french bloggers have long blogs,are heavily opinionated,passionately debate why they blog so much. more than half the population of 61 million are online. they have large egos and love to talk about themselves. john michel billaut an adviser on internet issues to bank paribas says that blogs are having a great impact on french society.

the single biggest promoter of french blogging is 'skylock', a radio station in paris.skyrock hosts more than 2.3 million blogs.pierre ballinger,president of skyrock says that listenership has got a boost and that 6 million$ a year is new additional revenue for companies who pay for the right to post messages on personal blogs hosted by 'skyrock'.

michel edouard leclerc,ceo of,a leading french retailer has this advice for ceos."don't be afraid of the is a way to concentrate your thoughts,test your ideas and accept criticism".

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"Perumazhakalam" in Hindi-"DOR"

yet another outstanding movie from the now famous director nagesh kukunoor of "iqbal" fame.a fantastic real-life story,the subject of the malayalam film 'perumazhakalam'.the story is "simble".two women;innocent meera(ayesha takia)and the determined zeenat(gul panag)meet on a collision course when their husbands living in saudi arabia are involved in a macabre incident.zeenat's husband has an altercation with meera's husband and meera's husband falls out of the tenth floor of the apartment.zeenat's husband is charged with murder as per shariyat law and sentenced to be hanged. the only way he can be saved is by the wife of the deceased signing her acceptance of a pardon to the accused.zeenat lives in himachal pradesh and meera in rajasthan. zeenat sets out on this journey to find meera before the end of the deadline.she is helped by bahuroopiya( a person who can perform many roles),shreyas talpade,who brilliantly provides the humour in the film.

the picture critiques age-old social beliefs and shows how when women come together they can overcome all has a feminist canvas.both ayesha takia and gul panag enact their respective roles superbly.the scene when meera receives the news of her husband's death on the cellphone,the pathos on her face and her falling from the rock on which she is standing has been taken very realistically.also her bonding with her grandmom who initially is hostile towards her.later her grandmom reveals that as a widow she was jealous of her granddaughter who was now married.but she seeks her granddaughter's pardon after meera gets widowed.and it is the grandmother who finally sees that meera escapes from their ancestral house to live a free life.her in-laws do not want her to sign a pardon for their son's murderer and want her to continue in their house like a financial difficulties,her father-in-law is prepared to barter her away for a short time to the lessee of their haveli till he gets back the haveli.

a breath of fresh air;sans makeup and the typical running around the tree songs, it is an emotional treat to watch. cinematography is excellent.dancing to kajrare,watching 'hero' in a dilapidated rural cinema hall or the last scene where gul panag offers her hand from a moving train to ayesha takia after she signs the letter of approval for pardon and how she is pulled into the train is shown in a very touching and poignant by salim-sulaiman is top class though really there are no hummable songs.

three cheers to kukunoor for this eminently watchable film "dor"(thread or rope).do go and see it.

tuk tuk ho to aisa

autorickshaws are omnipresent and ubiquitious in india.whether it is a big metropolis like mumbai or a small shanty town in far-off uttaranchal,an 'auto' as it is referred to is both a boon and a the absence of a good public transportation system like buses,trams and trains,'auto' is the next best economical mode of travel.and it also provides reasonable comfort and convenience. on these counts, it scores high marks. but when it comes to its proliferation as has happened,life can become very of the main culprits for traffic congestion and accidents in big cities are the autos.and they also cause pollution.though technology of the engines has improved and you get less polluting engines these days,there are still a large number out on the roads adding to the depletion of the ozone layer.conversion to lpg from diesel is now taking place and hopefully that would reduce its negative impact on the environment.

given this background,i was quite suprised when i read some time back that our own 'autos' have become a craze in the uk. a young srilankan-indian origin entrepreneur called ponniah has started a "tuk tuk" auto service at brighton.the demand for these autos was so much initially that he had to increase his orders on the indian company to meet the surging requirements.the travellers found them neat,comfortable,eco-friendly and a quick way of reaching their destinations at minimum cost.said an excited brighton resident,"i plan to do it again and again". so far so good.his autos run on cng and are fitted with blankets and hot water bottles. but then i also read a week back that there has been a drop in the usage due to lack of punctuality.the timings are not being maintained and there is some disillusionment with the service provider.that was disappointing and disheartening.there is going to be an official quasi-legal inquiry into its alleged inability to stick to its timetable.ponniah thinks that tuktuks have fallen prey to a dirty tricks campaign by the city's taxi drivers' union.i only hope dominic ponniah puts his house in order soon and that with its success many more brightons get replicated all over uk.

'autos' have recently hit the headlines in pune,india for one more reason.the cause is 'brangelina'.hollywood's hottest star couple, bradd pitt and angelina jolie have been shooting for a movie 'a mighty heart'at pune for almost a fortnight now. it is based on the life of slain american journalist daniel pearl.accompanied by their three children and body guards they flew to mumbai in a private jet and to pune in a non-chartered bombardier aircraft.a mercedes,a qualis and a lancer drove on the tarmac right to the aircraft and frisked them away to the 'le meridien' hotel. they have booked 6 suites at the 'le meridien' and the papparazi are having a vexing time. both the local and foreign photographers.all the tricks in the trade are being played by the bodyguards of these hollywood superstars and their three adopted children to keep them away from the prying papparazi.the local pune papers are full of stories about the goings a photographer was manhandled,how the auto in which they were travelling met with an accident and how their autorick driver "hit and ran".he was perhaps an exception.

there are honest and sincere autodrivers too.arif mohammed hussain bohri is one. a lucky man.he took the hollywood alpha couple for a spin and had a battery of shutterbugs and fans chasing him.brad pitt patted him on the back and said " very nice man,nice driver".i am reminded of the old cine-hit of actor rajnikant titled "badshah" and the the song "autokaaran,autokaaran,nalavanga routekaaran".arif was just like rajnikanth in the movie who takes his passengers by the right route and never for a ride. and the reward arif got from the hotel was rs 500! and the press interviewed him wanting to know what the golden couple spoke when they were in the auto. etc etc.

surprisingly,and i still cannot understand why,brad and jolie have decided to do most of their travelling in pune in an 'auto'.while they can be comfortably ensconsed in a mercedes or bmw.maybe they want to get a first hand impression of an indian city. to touch and feel.i wonder whether they are also having vadapav and thalipeeth. that carries with it a lot of risks for sanitised hollywoodians.they better beware.

yesterday when i was in bangalore i saw a very humorous cartoon displayed by 'amul' the butter and cheese is titled "brad butter ?" with the couple in an auto. brad having a "jolie" good snack.sadly the ad missed out the three kids!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ganapati Bappa Morya

undoubtedly,ganesha is mumbai's favourite god.boy or girl,man or woman,maharashtrian or non-maharashtrian,there is no second guessing regarding the mumbai manoos's god preferences.even non hindus-muslims,parsis,buddhists and jains join the bandwagon.the fondness for ganpati bapa,the potbellied hot favourite,reaches its crescendo on the tenth day of the ganesh chaturthi festival.eunuchs too don't want to be left out of all this happening.they have their own way of saying "we love you too" to ganesha.conceived originally by freedom fighter bal gangadhar tilak to bring together the locals to address them on the freedom movement during the british rule,the ploy has stuck on.the glue is so strong that nothing can remove the bond that has developed between man and their cosmic companion.

who after all is this superduper god? venerated so fondly.the lord of the hosts.gananam pati:,ganesha,ganesh,ganapati,pillaiyar(tamil),vinayagar(tamil),vinayakudu(telugu)are his different symbolises intellect and na,he is the personification of intellect and wisdom.and hence vedavyasa chose him to write the mahabharatha which he did after breaking off his tusk and using it to pen the epic.when asked to go allover the universe to ascertain the ultimate ruler by their parents siva and parvati,his younger brother karthikeyan(murugan)embarked on a long journey of the three worlds, while the clever ganesha circambulated his parents,parvati and siva and in a second answered their question.siva reperesents matter and parvati energy resulting in sound and light,ganesha and skanda repectively. asked to guard her privacy and not to allow anyone to enter while she was bathing,he incurred the fury of his own father siva.siva cut off his head angry over his son's refusal to allow him to enter his own the pleading of parvati to save her son's life, siva rushed out and chopped the head of the first mammal that he saw and transplanted it over his son's head. he rides on a mouse and is often represented sitting on the ground with one leg raised in the air and bent over the other.bigbellied,yellow or redgold with four arms and head of a one-tusked elephant.merchants and businessmen worship him along with lakshmi for removal of obstacles(vigna+hartara= obstacle remover) and wealth.nothing is begun without invoking him.that is his spell and bind on the hindu psyche.his devotees are referred to as ganapatya.

elephant head,single tusk,wide ears,curved trunk,pot belly,four arms,each has its individual importance and significance.ganesha is believed to have been born from the dirt over his mother's body without the intervention of her husband siva.ganesha was so besotted by his mother's beauty that he agreed to marry only if his bride would as beautiful as his mother.he remained a bachelor.this is the story in the south.while in the north, people believe that he was married to the two daughters of brahma,the creator.some of his other names are omkara,balachandra,chintamani,gajanana,ekadanta and sumukha.

this year ganesh chaturthi was on august 27 and ananthachaturthi on 6th september.the first day is the start of the festival and the last day is the final immersion or visarjan.some also immerse after one and half days,three days,five days and so on.the maximum number of immersions are kept on the last is a spectacular event when the idol is taken in procession from the pandal to the waterbody.he is loaded on a truck filled with bhaktas and preceded and followed by his devotees who dance and sing and shower gulab rejoicing all the way.

'dance ganesh' is a phenomenon that started seven years ago with a few devotees.this now sees a turnout of thousands with djs participating in the psychedelic journey. the convoy has a mobile generator,two 40 feet trailers decked with a sound system,lights,lasers,two dance floors and a dj cabin.attached to this is a mobile stage for live acts leading to a 100 meter long dance floor on the road followed by the final truck which carries the ganesha idol.the speakers are suspended to create 45,000 watts of 'flying sound' enough to cover the entire dance floor.

over the years, the traditional use of natural clay has been replaced by plaster of paris due to its lightness,cost and manoueverability.coated with chemical paints and decorated with thermocole they are a disaster as they impact the ecosystem and pollute the water in lakes,rivers and sea.some action groups have been actively campaigning for green ganeshotsavs.ecosensitive ganesha idols made out of shaada matti are painted with natural materials such as red earth and turmeric.they are ornamented with wooden beads and cloth.the idol is kept on a tray made out of arca palm leaf.after the completion of the rituals,the idols are immeresed in a bucket of water which is safely drained into one's garden.the revival of clay idols has begun. hopefully next year there will be more of them and less pollution. a school student has found an innovative way of making ecofriendly ganpatis.with the help of riverbed clay he made idols and put them out to dry.due to the rains that didn't work and so he dried them in the microwave instead.the student immeresd the clay idols on visarjan day in a bucket at home.the lump was then used to make ravana for dassera.that is ecosensitive recycling!

some feel that the festival has become a farce.the vulgarity and nefarious activities including extortion has left a blot on the city. they would rather like the festival to be celebrated in a simple and respectful manner.

also this year because of 7/11,mandals took no risks and there was heavy bandobust in almost all the big pandals.everything from pedas to coconuts were screened! wives of 72 cops whose husbands were on bandobust duty celebrated ganesh chaturthi sans their husbands and put up an all-women show in police colony,chembur.and in wadala,the dadar parsi colony residents also helped in the poojas and other rituals.shenaaz nadirshah,a senior executive in balaji telefilms has been bringing home a ganesha for the last five years. bejan daruwala(the famous astrolger,ganesha says)'s daughter sanobar,visited seven ganapatis a day during this year's ganeshotsav.she believes that it brings her luck.says bejan daruwala,"the reason he is loved is because he is a personal god whom you can bring home and tell him your thoughts because he is very comforting".shenaz bought a metal idol and the same night dreamt of the idol being decked with flowers and lighted with diya. since then she made an altar at home to keep the idol.shanaaz also visits the agiary reularly.she considers herself to be more of a spiritual person than a religious are born into a faith,she says,but the faith you follow is your choice.

then there is a ganesh mandal which is a blessing in disguise for those who have some vices. smoking,drinking or chewing gutka.people who worship here have to sign an oath to rid themselves of a vice.the person has to take water in his palm,chant 'om gan ganapathaye namaha' eleven times and then take an oath to quit his vice and then he prays to lord ganesha to give him strength to get rid of the bad habit.this year people poured in to sign up. for the last 26 years,a mandal in vashi,navi mumbai,claims to host the tallest ganesha in the city.At 12 feet,sitting atop a huge jasmine flower,ganesha weighs 600 kgs. you have crorepati ganpatis too.lalbaugcha raja mandal had its ganapati draped in 5 kgs of gold and 10 kg of silver worth about 50 lakhs.a devotee donated a maruti car! the gsb wadala ganapati has his crown,palm,legs and ears of gold.the ornaments are worth 4 to 5 crores.the 17 ft statue was decorated with 60 kgs of gold and 175 kgs of silver. a ganesha was tagged with bill no 786,a holy number for muslims.coincidentally, the president of the mandal is a muslim.he was delighted at the coincidence and said that the ganesh festival transcends faiths.and a purohit donated rs 786 to temples and dargahs and fed as many people on 07/08/06.the arabic letters of the opening phrase of the holy quaran are "bismillah al-rahman al- rahim".according to one arabic system of numerology the total of these letters is 786. reverend david heart,a theology professor at winchester university,celebrated ganesh puja in kerala wearing a dhoti. he has changed his middle name to anand krishna das from allen.he says that he is as much a hindu as a christian.he bought a ganesha idol,performed pooja for 10 days and immeresed his idol in the kerala sea.he referred to hinduism as a broad-based catholic and secular faith that allows one to interact with god without mediating forces."here everybody can have his own concept of god.nobody is pushed around".

there is a temple belonging to the third sex(eunuchs) at navi mumbai. for the last 24 years the eunuchs have been celebrating ganeshotsav.they pray for completeness of a man or a woman.and they plead with god not to make them an eunuch in their next birth.not to clash with other immersions, the eunuchs in kalyan did their visarjan on the thirteenth day.

among many other things that we export,there has been a huge demand for ganesha idols,from london,bangkok and new york.demand for small ganesha idols has become international.made out of naturally occuring clay the rush of foreign clients is unprecedented.ganesha has indeed gone global.indonesia which is an islamic country,has in its national currency(the rupiah) lord ganesha sharing space with former indonesian president ki hadjar dewantara. worshipped as sho-ten(holy god) and kangi-ten(god of joy and harmony)in japan,kuan-shi t'ien or ho tei(large bellied god of happiness) in china,he is also reverred in thailand,malaysia and cambodia.he is known as viakosha in central america and mexico where he has been discovered during excavations.

finally ganapati bappa went back.the most charming and democratic reflection of mumbai's culture was given a fond farewell by lakhs of devotees.he met the silence of the seas.'putcha varsha lavkar ya'. come soon next year.playing trumpets,cymbals,bass drums and flutes and dancing to tunes of popular bollywood numbers,youngsters and old alike continued their immersions till the early hours of the morning.they bid adieu to their favourite elephant god with tears in their eyes with a fervent prayer for an early return next year.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


I had heard of Gucci,Armani,Versace. Prada? No,I hadn't heard of it. The title of this movie baffled me. I checked with my friend r who told me about brand Prada. (Incidentally, last night I learnt that h wears Prada spectacles!) And I wondered why should a devil make a fashion statement. Not only carry a Prada handbag but also wear a Dennis Basso furcoat! Intrigued, I decided to see this movie.THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA.

The DNA carried a newsitem the same morning of how overcoats were flying off the shelves in Mumbai though there was no sight of winter anywhere around. Burberry's overcoat collection had been sold out, said Dushyant Thakker,the store manager at the Taj. And the Mango spokesperson said that international fashion trends catch up in Mumbai very fast triggered by the fall-winter collections shown in the movies. George Bernard Shaw was absolutely spot-on when he said that fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic. And we have that epidemic currrently raging in Mumbai with the noveaux riche and the upperclass competing with each other to wear a Lewin's Kelly greenwool overcoat with lepoard cowl collar and cuffs, a Gucci skirt ,a tank top, Gieuseppe Zanotti coppersnake embossed pumps and Chanel sunglasses. Why? Because Anne Hathaway wears all this.

'The Devil Wears Prada' is a faithful adaptation from the best selling novel of the same name written by Lauren Weisberger who worked as an assitant at 'Vogue', a New York fashion magazine. She exploited the experience she gained over a period of about a year working for Anna Wintour,Editor of the 'Vogue'. Sort of a revenge on the boss, it portrays something deep about powerful women and how terrifying they are. It was generally seen as a gossippy 'roman a clef' about Vogue magazine and its iconic editor.

Meryl Streep plays fashion tastemaker Miranda Priestly. Looking perfect from top to bottom requires a head turning coiffure.Her wavy white hair conveys position,determination and decisiveness and style. As editor in chief of 'Runway' magazine, Miranda has to look impeccable at all times. In one particular montage in which she keeps on tossing her purse and overcoat over the desk of Andy Sachs(Anne Hathway) her new assistant, Meryl Streep is brilliant. She had to portray an exacting,ambitious,demanding and very disciplined person.She does that with elan. In an interview to a columnist she is reported to have said that actually she can be quite lazy. "Underpreparation is sometimes good as it instils fear.If you are prepared and think you are ready,you are not ready!" Many years ago I saw her in 'Kramer vs Kramer' and 'Sophie's Choice'. Her acting was par excellence in both these films and if I remember right she got an Academy award for her acting in 'Kramer vs Kramer'.

Andy Sachs(Anne Hathaway), a fresher from college and from a small town gets the job "a million girls would die for". As the high profile Miranda Priestly's assistant this naive girl finds herself in an office reverberating with the chanting of Prad,Armani,Versace. Life in the office and ouside becomes hell for her. She has to cope with her boss's extravagant,condescending and capricious demands. She has to send the latest and not- in- stores Harry Potter to Miranda's children in Paris by private jet,serve lattes to Miranda at exactly the right temperature that she prefers,run down and stand in line at Starbucks to get her a cappucino and if she is working upto 2am deliver the drycleaning at her home. After all that Miranda excoriates Anna for not doing her job properly. She acts as a slave and a coat rack for her boss all with the hope that a recommendation from Miranda will get her a top job at a New York magazine of her choosing. At the end of it Andy realizes that the job is indeed not worth the price of her soul. Her concerned midwestern father is shocked that his daughter is in the office till 2am even though she is only an assistant.He cannot fathom as to why her boss calls her during dinner and why she has chosen to pick a job in Runway.

It is an excellent comedy,superbly directed and produced. It is a witty expose of New york's fashion scene.The chick lit is slick and targetted specifically at youthful fashion conscious feminine audience.The breezy entertainer shows wicked workplace politics at its worst. Stanly Tucci and Emily Blunt put in bright performances in supporting roles.There is a view though that Dvevil Wears Prada provides an inaccurate view of the fashion industry. Any stylish editrix would be carried away probably more by Chloe,Marni,Marc Jacobs or Rochas. Patricia Field,the savvy costume designer has done a great job,I think. But then some feel that gold chains,embroidered jackets,knee-high boots are not what editors really wear and that they are made to look like art assemblages.

Clothing maketh a man.Shall we say in this case,a woman? Clothing has a talismanic quality about it. A power that transforms a person. Wear a smart suit,put on a pair of stylish heels and you are on top of the world! Mind you,the hem of the skirt can make you or mar you.The choice is yours. It is all about dressing up, baby!