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Tag Archives: i ask questions

Prizes to be Won, etc

I feel like I really try to keep my mind open to new information – if not for anything else, then because it gives me something to write about – but every so often, the universe will lob a nugget my way that totally takes me aback. A recent example emerged in the weeks of hoopla and controversy surrounding the release of Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Freedom, when I learned that men apparently don’t read books written by women.

Call me oblivious, but it had never occurred to me that gender played a role in determining readership. But this too makes sense statistically, since women read more books than men and as male authors continue to appear on bestseller lists, it’s a fair bet that women like myself must not mind reading books written by men.

Perhaps it’s also because I’m an Indian and I grew up in an environment where everyone read Enid Blyton when they were little, graduating to Alistair MacLean and Agatha Christie in their teens and hiding beat-up, much-shared Sidney Sheldon novels in their schoolbags when they got a little older. Content was king, the way I remember it, not the gender of the person who wrote it. I guess I do live in a bubble of my own as my mother has often observed. And I’m getting on a bit in years as my mirror now observes. Who knows what the crazy kids do nowadays. Look at J.K. Rowling, for god’s sake!

Anyhoo, all this is an elaborate setup to announce to you, dear readers, that Women’s Web is running a “My Favorite Female” competition. Now I know what you’re thinking and I just want to say, chee-chee!

Okay, cheap laughs aside, this is the deal:

Pick any female character from a novel, that made you sit up, that made you go wow, that made you laugh or cry, that got you angry, that got you thinking, that made you fall in love – in short, a character that made you feel, ‘I wish I had written that!’ Tell us what you liked about this character in a blog post. Your entry must be dated between 12th Oct and 22nd Oct, 2010.

Click here for more information on rules, prizes, word length, submission, etc. I know there are those of you here who don’t blog and they have a submission option for you too. Or I’ll host your entry as a guest post for you if you’re especially shy. Bottomline is that I can think of at least a few of you lovely people from the comment pool who ought to give this a shot. Men included.

I think this is a conversation I’d like to see, don’t you? In the light of this post, I think I’ll write about my favorite female character written by a man.

[Plus: The Female Character Flowchart & A. S. Byatt Interview]

 
8 Comments

Posted by on October 14, 2010 in Books, Life, News, Personal

 

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Bling Slave

You know what I don’t get about jewelry? The fact that they are really just flimsier, more expensive, shiny restraints. Unless you’re male, in which case they’re flimsier, more expensive, shiny armor. Just look at them:

The chains for men are thicker, broader and more flat. Bracelets are made of chain links or they’re plaque-shaped. Rings are wider. It brings to mind chainmail, steel cuffs and brass knuckles. Cufflinks (the very name is suggestive) resemble arrow heads, nails or bullets.

Meanwhile, women wear bangles and bracelets that channel handcuffs. Link those anklets with a chain and you might as well be in leg restraints and shuffling around jail. Collars around the neck. Noserings that have cows mooing in envy.

Even the more outre items suggest an end to liberty. Grills, for example. Those awful metal and gem-laden horror shows that people shove in their mouths like they’re suffering from retainer-loss. You’re creating a prison in your mouth. For lots of nasty little germs, probably.

Then there are the materials used to fashion jewelry like amber: you’re carrying the corpse of some long dead bug trapped in resin. And how about wire sculpture? They could probably build a cage for a hamster just as easily as whatever is wrapped around your neck. A really nice cage. On the other side of the scale, I know people are crazy about platinum but what is the inherent message of a wedding ring fashioned from it? At least gold is pliable, gives off a soft glow and an accepted global commodity.

What I’m most unreasonable about, however, are necklaces. I don’t know why I hate them so much. I love them on other people and will exclaim over them as much as the next woman when confronted with a pretty piece. The moment I clasp one around my neck, however, it’s panic-city. Maybe I was hanged in a past life or something, but I can’t have things touching my neck.

Sigh. This is why I can’t have nice things.

 
23 Comments

Posted by on October 6, 2010 in Personal

 

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Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort

There are people out there who need to medicate their obsessive selves. And then there are folks who manage to exert a bit of control over their compulsions – I choose to channel it into tight spirals of in-depth immersion to burn the subject down to manageable levels. Whenever this happens to me, which is more often than it ought, I describe it as having fallen into a wormhole and I hope to come out the other side.

My wormhole for the past week or so has been Mahesh Babu. It’s sort of mystifying – I saw Pokiri a while back and I was perfectly fine putting it out of my mind. Then I saw Athadu on Cinema Chaat’s recommendation and it was hello-madness-my-old-friend time again.

However, while the rules of the wormhole dictate that I must ceaselessly hunt down and devour every last bit of everything connected to the central subject, it does not demand I lobotomize myself in the process. In the present case of Mahesh Babu, for instance, I was perfectly able to understand that the man has oodles of that mysterious-yet-all-important It factor that marks a charismatic star, while recognizing that half the stuff I was watching (particularly the early movies although the fairly-recent, pseudo-scifi, pedotastic-by-inference, all around weird fantasy Naani co-starring Ameesha Patel was pretty terrible too) was almost irredeemably bad.

There’s Takkari Donga, for instance: apparently an homage to father Krishna’s groundbreaking portrayal of a cowboy in Telugu cinema, it stars Mahesh as a Wild West robber full of derring do who intentionally courts unnecessary trouble, hoping his notoriety would lead him to his father’s murder. In the process, he’s stalked by a skimpily-clad (at one point, completely unclad) Bipasha Basu and carts around a half-naked (at one point, completely naked… you get the picture) Lisa Ray who keeps trying to get his pants off so she can check if he’s The One she’s supposed to marry. There’s also a mine right out of an Indiana Jones movie where diamonds grow like crystals inside stalagmites and an adorable little puppy whom he heroically saves from certain death – I mean, I can’t recommend this movie enough except for the times when I’m strongly warning you against it.

So I was really happy to see Sainikudu. All your questions answered here:

Q. What is Sainikudu?
A. A Telugu movie starring Mahesh Babu. Duh.

Q. Okay, smarty pants. What’s it about?
A. In flood-ravaged Andhra Pradesh, government corruption is destroying the lives of the poor. So a group of university students, led by Siddhartha (Mahesh Babu) decide to do something about it.

Q. Oh dear. That kind of stuff never works out, does it?
A. For reals. They get framed as terrorists by evil villain Pappu Yadav (Irrfan Khan) and his brother-in-law Mondi Naani (Prakash Raj) when they try to field a student as a candidate against him in the upcoming elections.

Q. That’s a very not-nice thing to do.
A. It is a properly villainous thing to do! Especially when Pappu wins the election and ends up as the Home Minister.

Q. Set a thief to catch a thief, so to speak!
A. Right! Except he doesn’t want to catch any, he just wants to fix it so he doesn’t get caught! The students say nix to that and kidnap Pappu’s bride Varalakshmi (Trisha Krishnan) under his nose on their wedding day and hold her hostage in exchange for Pappu completing his election promises.

Q. How does that work out?
A. For Siddhartha? Probably better if Varalakshmi hadn’t been the bride. For the viewer? Fabulously! The way it does when the heroine isn’t just your random naive village belle – but a deeply romantic, naive village belle, convinced (rather understandably, if she watches Telugu blockbusters where such threats fly around like confetti) the world is full of rapists, and hilariously overconfident about her fighting-capabilities. I was prepared to find her completely annoying, but she was absolutely charming – even Siddhartha thought so and she was either trying to get him killed, lecturing him about her purity, or questioning his manhood.

Q. Good stuff!
A. You bet. And a lot of it depends on Mahesh’s ability to just be silent. There aren’t a lot of actors who can resist the impulse to “do something” (at the 7.00 mark) when the camera is on them, but he can. You could argue that it’s a lack of ability, but having seen his earlier movies, I think it’s a sign of evolution. He also goes a little darker in this movie, doing stuff that is distinctly un-hero-like (albeit in a dream), has what appears to be a drinking problem, and thinks nothing of using dead children as party table centerpieces. Very affecting! But then, I like my action stars strong, angry and silent, which is probably why I don’t much care for it when he starts singing and dancing.

Q. You didn’t like the music of Sainikudu?
A. This was actually an exception – I liked the soundtrack. In fact, I was thinking about it when reading Beth’s CurrySmugglers interview: it’s unusual for me to really love film music in a language I don’t understand because lyrics matter a great deal to me, but either Harris Jayraj’s score was really that good or else the subtitles managed to work well enough for me to like it. Probably a combination of the two.

Q. The subtitles were good?
A. Well, I’m sure I missed a great deal of the wordplay and stuff – in fact, I’m pretty sure I did because there were certain segues that were distinctly odd – but going by various comments around the net, I’m better off that way because the original seems to have really pissed people off.

Q. Why is that?
A. I dunno. Maybe they didn’t like the political bits? They seemed pretty dire in a recycled way. Or maybe there wasn’t enough of it? Who knows! Personally, I thought it flirted with the borderline where I was just able to restrain my fast-forward finger.

Q. But you still had a good time watching it?
A. A bowl of Maggi noodles (original Masala please – none of this “new and improved”, “healthy” jiggery pokery), a bottle of wine and this movie? Totally my Sunday.

Q. That’s disgusting.
A. Sez you. Viva la revolucion!

 
16 Comments

Posted by on September 19, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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What Ho, Man Ho

“The first time I had sex,” he said, “it was so amazing we had to do it again! But I only had one condom on me, so I decided to reuse it. That didn’t go well.”

The problem with dating when you’re a mere child is that you don’t know it’s perfectly acceptable to stop your boyfriend right in his tracks and say: Gross! Nast! Shut it! etc. Instead, I listened to the whole thing in icked-out silence that didn’t deter him one bit and then proceeded to take out the full virulence of my feelings by passive aggressively mocking him about it, time without end. That, by the way, didn’t go well either.

Now why, you might wonder as I often have, would he tell me this story? Were we exchanging horror stories, first time faux pas, etc? No. As far as I remember, this was an anecdote that presented itself completely without context in the middle of a coffee shop. Polite cappuccino conversation for the 21st century.

In retrospect, I feel a bit of regret at having unleashed the full weight of my Mean Girl skills on him for this strange foray into intimacy – not because he wasn’t asking for it, but because age has made me realize that he was simply indulging in a strange-yet-common phenomenon of Indian dating:

Boy: Girl, I really like you.
Girl: *giggle*
Boy: In fact *blushes* I lub you.
Girl: I wuv you too! *starry eyes*
Boy: So. Did I ever tell you about this other girl I loved?
Girl: Er.
Boy: Okay! Let me describe her and our relationship in extreme detail.
Girl: o_O

Sometimes you don’t even have to be dating. You could simply be flirting. And all of a sudden you’re listening to some guy you met five minutes ago recount the tawdry nitty-gritties of his encounter with his neighbor, the widow, the girl he met at the club, his senior in high school, the highly inventive list is quite long.

What is. UP. with that?

I mean, what is the thinking there? Ha-ha, I told my guy friends about this totally fictional woman who can’t keep her hands off me and it went over really well; now let me repeat the story to this non-fictional girl expressing interest so she’ll… what? Be impressed? “Woo! I’m dating a certified manwhore!” Gratified? “Awww! This slut could have had any old auntie in his neighborhood but he chose me instead.” Awed? “Oooh! His DNA is like a substitute for Viagra.”

I must be missing some essential chip of Indian womanhood because I’ve only ever had two reactions to these stories: skepticism and “eww”. I need a bottle of wine and a degree of friendship to even care, much less participate in this game. “Oh, you’re jealous!” cooed one person with some delight when I mentioned that maybe he should save his war stories for some other time.

Uh, no. I don’t expect the men I find attractive to have lived their lives wrapped in protective plastic sheeting, waiting for that mystical One like a human-sized touch-me-not and I don’t know why any reasonable man would expect that of me. I know it works for some people (hey there, freakazoids! happy you screwed up the curve for the rest of us? hmmm?) but the very thought of ending up married to the first boy who ever asked me out makes me shudder – and not just because I’ve seen his Facebook page.

I just don’t understand why I must be regaled with tales of sexual prowess when I haven’t even hinted at anything resembling interest. Everybody has these stories, of course. Girls and boys. Some of them flattering, some of them cringe-worthy, all of them kind of hilarious in hindsight with the right company at the right time.

So the next time you feel the need to share, remember what your mother taught you and speak when you’re spoken to. Take it from a girl: The Excellent Adventures of Little You is not the icebreaker you imagine it to be.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on September 16, 2010 in Life, Personal

 

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Running Away

You chose to run away.

Everyday you came back home and unpacked that invisible satchel. In that corner went the regrets, the other one was crowded with complaints. Scattered all around you were the remnants of your failures; the true monsters under the bed, waiting to surprise you unwary.

You said nothing. Everybody asked you where you’d been – how was the day – what did you do – who did you talk to and what about? They meant it kindly, unaware that you lived in a world all your own that they could never enter. “Nowhere,” you said. “It doesn’t matter,” you said. “Nothing,” you said.

All day you listened to other people talk. A smile for them, automatic and correct. A nod in agreement, handshake for goodbye, wave for hello, frown for concern, shrug to pass the buck. Questions to signify interest. Cloaks of invisibility are neither rare nor fantastic – you know them as quite ordinary gestures.

One day, you told yourself, you would leave all that behind. The secrets, the lies, the safe silences that left you unsure of your words when you finally let them form in your mouth. The questions, the codes, the stock answers that became transparent bricks of the wall around you.

Then why, now, do you feel abandoned this day? The chains have been cut, it is a liberation, you know. The ropes have been sawn through, you were set adrift, you feel.

A bird in the sky or a lion on the plains – neither; you are you. Solitary magnificence is for other creatures. Human beings live tethered. In yourself alone are you free.

Free to run.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on September 9, 2010 in Life

 

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Answering for Lamhe

Answering for <i>Lamhe</i>

Sridevipalooza is long over and not even a hangover remains, but that doesn’t mean I can’t chip in at this late date. Here I am, anyway, whether you want me or not – and I come bearing Lamhe.

Yash Chopra’s favorite child that fell flat on its face during the race to the top of the box office at the mega-hurdle called “incest”, Lamhe is the movie that endeared Chopra to an entire generation of tender-hearted young girl children who’ve remained his die-hard base ever since. Nearly two decades after its release, Lamhe is the Chopra movie most likely to be called a “cult-favorite” or “overlooked masterpiece”.

As an unapologetic member of that cult which deems this movie its favorite (although, to be fair, I belong to a number of such cults so I’m probably not the fervent convert of quoteworthy fame), I have to say it is a gross exaggeration to call this movie a masterpiece. Overlooked, yes. Masterpiece, no.

Lamhe is actually the beginning of Yash Chopra Lite, the expression of a gentle sentimentality that would eventually devolve into the hollow shell of Dil To Pagal Hai (which recycled a number of this film’s lesser ideas) and the overwrought Veer Zaara. Conversely, though, Lamhe is thus the best of these movies and it shows its quality – in its performances like Anil Kapoor’s earnest confession at the climax or Anupam Kher telling his best friend off; in scenes like the one in which Pallavi’s husband gently informs her about Viren’s feelings and advises her to continue her friendship with him or when Anita first recognizes that Viren and Pooja aren’t exactly platonic.

In case you’re one of the few who haven’t seen this movie, here’re some things you should know:

Q. Is Lamhe really about incest?
A. Nooooooooooooo! It’s about this guy(Viren) who falls for the daughter (Pooja) of his first True Love (Pallavi).

Q. That doesn’t sound too bad. What’s up with the incest thing then?
A. Nasty imaginations at work! Okay, so Viren became Pooja’s guardian after Pallavi died in childbirth and she looks exactly like her mom. You know, the one he’s never stopped obsessing over. But! The thing to remember is that he never laid eyes on Pooja for those 18 crucial years when she was growing up into her mother’s double and all the day-to-day raising was done by his old nurse (Dai Jaan). Besides, she‘s the one who chases him, the hussy!

Q. Hmm.
A. Quite.

Q. So it’s like a Bollywood Lolita?
A. More like this awful thing but with 100% less rape and 100% more awesomeness like this:

Q. Moving on, what does Lamhe mean?
A. It means Moments. You see, Viren spends his whole adult life hoarding the few moments he spent in Pallavi’s dazzling presence and Pooja threatens to do the same with the few moments she spent in Viren’s considerably less dazzling presence, and then Viren realizes that all the dazzling moments he spent with Pallavi have been supplanted by Pooja’s dazzling presence. Razzle dazzle!

Q. You know, I don’t think I like the sound of Viren and Pooja.
A. On paper, you’d be right! Viren is a sentimental idiot who needs a good shake and a swift kick up his ass while Pooja is a total pile on with daddy issues that absolutely nobody is interested in addressing. But when Anil Kapoor and Sridevi play these two fuckwits, they’re impossibly aww-worthy.

Q. OMG is this the movie with the clean shaven Anil Kapoor?
A. Yes! It is how you differentiate between the callow youth who fell in love with Pallavi-who-looked-straight-through-him (Moochless!) and the fuddy duddy who falls for the fun and energetic Pooja-who-idolizes-him-even-though-he-ignores-her (Mooch!).

Q. How many times does he slap his co-star in this?
A. Just once but he makes it count!

Q. Who else is in this movie?
A. There’s Waheeda Rehman who is a total darling. Anupam Kher is great, especially if you didn’t know that this was going to be the character he plays in every single YRF movie from then on. Deepak Malhotra as Pallavi’s husband and Pooja’s father is hilariously wooden. And then there’s Dippy Sagoo as Anita the woman-who-ought-to-have-known-better-than-to-spend-years-mooning-over-a-wet-blanket. I’m very sad Dippy Sagoo’s career never took off. Too bad, Dippy Sagoo!

Q. Should I watch this?
A. Do you like happy endings, older men, spunky young women, Sridevi and Anil Kapoor? Lata Mangeshkar warbling in the background and warm woolens in England? Then this is the movie for you! Otherwise, not so much.

Q. You really like this movie, don’t you?
A. Do not judge me.

 
26 Comments

Posted by on September 1, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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Minus the Stripper Heels…

Okay, now she’s just fucking with us.

 
13 Comments

Posted by on July 23, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment

 

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