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Dogs, Whales and Men

My friend was outraged. The proud owner of two enthusiastic Great Danes, a mother-son duo, he’d looked forward to the male’s first official date. The breeder had shown up with an attractive female of acceptable pedigree in tow and they’d solemnly escorted the pair up to the terrace where the excited young male chased the puzzled female around for a bit.

Problem was, my friend’s dog was the runt of his litter. In fact, I think that’s why he got to stay behind with his mom – nobody wanted a Great Dane who was merely as tall as they were instead of one that towered over them. This made absolutely no difference to my friend and his family, of course. They loved him for who he was, not for a checklist of points in some breeder’s manual.

But when confronted with his new ladyfriend, certain truths had to be faced. He might have a delightful personality but he was simply too short for the job. The only way he was getting laid was if the girlfriend lay down out of pity… and she clearly wasn’t that kind of girl.

“We have another option,” said the breeder, conveying the sad news to my disappointed friend. “I could help him.”

What, get him a crate to stand on and hope she didn’t move?

“No, no,” said the breeder. “I can get a specimen from him. It’ll only take a minute.”

“He wanted to molest my dog!” my friend reported, aghast and ashen-faced. “The dirty motherfucker wanted to jerk my dog off! What kind of sick bastard suggests something like that? I threw him out of the house and told him never to come back!”

I don’t know what happened after that – for all I know, that particular dog now has a pack of half-breed puppies running around town, fathered on more convenient, shorter females. Or maybe they fixed it so he’s a lifelong bachelor. Who knows? But he certainly wasn’t depositing samples into some breeder’s test tube. Or whatever it is breeders use. (Silk handkerchiefs? Stockings? Flannel? Do I really want to know? No.)

I do remember thinking that it was a good thing my friend wasn’t born on a farm or a ranch with a breeding program because horses, cows and pigs get regularly touched in their no-no area by white-coated professionals in the faster, bigger, better business. But I guess knowing that artificial insemination exists is quite different from seeing it practiced on the pet you raised from its birth.

Like zoo animals. Let’s not forget zoo animals. Artificial insemination is the cornerstone of many a conservation effort carried out by modern zoos. It’s not always possible to satisfactorily matchmake between polar bears or giant pandas or komodo dragons… or orcas.

Tommy Lee’s letter about harvesting sperm from killer whales got my attention for the amount of time he spends obsessing about the method of extraction. Like, what did he expect? What would be a better way of getting sperm from a giant whale? They could:

  • Stand at the poolside and throw a big specimen jar into the water where the whale could deposit his business like a gentleman with opposable thumbs
  • Use a device made with synthetic fibers so the icky cross-species touching (of which neither is aware since the cow is dead, unless some unfortunate bovine is running around the United States without a vagina in which case, Jesus! forget the whale, let’s save that poor cow! or even worse, it’s a live cow with a cootchie full of hot water, and you know what? I’m going to stop right now. And the whale doesn’t know because… well, it’s a fucking whale. If it ever sees a cow*, it’ll eat it and ask questions later) doesn’t occur
  • Offer to pay $20, payable in Soylent Green or whatever it is that killer whales eat
  • Get them drunk
  • Advertise along the international killer whale route for volunteer orcas.

I don’t know if his problem is with Sea World keeping whales in a pool to perform tricks for children, or the whales being masturbated at all, or Tilikum in particular being treated as the “sperm bank”, or the method employed.

*Actually, the “cow” in question is, I think, a female orca. Which is fucked up in its own necrophiliac way but imagining a whale getting with the kind of cow that goes “Moo!” is even more screwy, so that’s what I’ll go for.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2010 in Celebrity, Life, News, Newsmakers, Video

 

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Rakhi Sawant for Prime Minister

Although the time on her clock reads well into the 16th minute, Rakhi Sawant is still going places – like the unfamiliar pages of Filmfare. The interview, a rare one from a magazine devoted to its upscale Not-Your-Mummyji‘s-Gossip-Rag brand, starts off with Rakhi flipping out at the sight of the Louis Vuitton outfit and Ferragamo shoes the team has arranged for her photoshoot.

Not in the way they were expecting though:

“Which godown have you picked up these chindis (rags) from? There is no red, green, blue, purple, no glitter. My fans will think I’ve become a bhikhari (beggar) if I were to wear such clothes.”

I think I’m supposed to laugh at her, but honestly, I’m laughing at the magazine because they just got served. Whatever her faults, Rakhi clearly isn’t a brand-fucker. Eventually they seem to have got her into an oversized Diesel tee, and a Just Cavalli top paired with shorts from Mango. Couldn’t make her let go of her pancake though. One look and I already know this is going to be the best interview Filmfare has landed in ages.

Sure enough, she talks a little about hosting her version of Judge Judy, which seems to be more Jerry Springer going by the promos, and then launches into talk of how she’s let Jesus take the wheel:

Being an item girl doesn’t mean I dance around all the time clad in a ghagra-choli. I am a good human being, a God-fearing girl. Before taking up any work, I take permission from Jesus. If it requires me to expose, I refuse it. Like I refused “Meethi Chhoori” and Ram Gopal Varma’s “Phoonk 2″ because I didn’t want to expose or be part of a horror film.

God hates slags! Just in case you didn’t know. Various other meditations follow: she’s come to realize she’s a heavenly alien “here on a transit visa” after she read the Bible. Other things the Bible taught her -

  • don’t be a bitch
  • pay taxes to God (10% flat rate)
  • it’s better to be God’s kid than a star kid. Who’re all miserable failures anyway (especially that loser Hrithik Roshan who needs his daddy to make him movies)
  • be nice to your mom and she will ask for less money
  • don’t have “dirty sex” with drugs and booze when all you need is Viagra – “alcohol is Satan’s mouthwash”
  • the Devil is behind all the hate that comes her way
  • she’s now a national icon on the level of Amitabh Bachchan
  • Shahrukh Khan’s decidedly un-Christian antics at awards shows is proof that the world is biased towards educated elites.

Well, really. Who could argue with any of that? My head throbs just thinking of it.

Q. What about your love life now?
A. I am madly in love. I am married. Jesus is my husband.

Just call her Fraulein Maria. Jesus is her Captain but if some nice, clean-living teetotaler with perhaps no money but definitely much piety were to cross her path, she’d marry him. Not that she really needs him because, let’s face it, Jesus is a tough act to follow.

In fact, she’s writing a show about the life of Jesus Christ – she’s got about 50 episodes written already – but not a single channel will put it on because they’re all temples of sin, devoted to carnality and destined for Hell. And furthermore, if Ekta Kapoor wants the honor of working with her on this project, which might save souls unlike her usual sinful stuff, she can just approach Rakhi herself!

After all, is God visiting Ekta in her dreams to advice her about the sins of plastic surgery? Nope! That would be Rakhi Sawant, thank you very much. Who is now much more famous than this Mallika Sherawat person (lurking sadly in the pages of this very issue, saying outdated things like: “Obama is a stud!” Yawn.) who is only known for taking her clothes off.

Q. Where do you see yourself after five years?
A. I see myself in Lok Sabha as a clean politician. Without wearing khadi, I’m doing a lot of social work. But you also need power to make a difference. However, everyone wants me nanga (nude) on screen. But I won’t wear a bikini or short dresses. I’m not dying to do films, I’m doing reality shows.

Well, of course! Why didn’t any of us see this coming? Get ready for Prime Minister Rakhi Sawant in 2020. She’ll be the one in a spaghetti strap handloom saree at the United Nations General Assembly, mediating a Middle East intervention where the Israelis and the Palestinians get to bitchslap their differences out on live camera. Eventually, she’ll step in and make peace based on the hard-won experiences of her tragic life, after which they will all dance together to the tune of a Bollywood item number.

Oh, you scoff now but you’ll remember this post one day.

In other news, if you hear blood has started pouring out of the eyes of a Virgin Mary near you, please don’t be alarmed. Just hand her a hanky. It’s not every day a woman gets Rakhi Sawant for a daughter-in-law.

 
16 Comments

Posted by on November 2, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Newsmakers, Video

 

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Rakht Charitra: Suckered Again

<i>Rakht Charitra</i>: Suckered Again

Here’s a sentence I type less and less often as the years go by: I was truly excited to watch Ram Gopal Varma’s new movie. A fictional account of the blood-soaked real life of Andhra Pradesh politician Paritala Ravi, Rakht Charitra sounded interesting and right up RGV’s alley. Gore, politics, revenge, it had to be a knock out of the RGV park.

Well, I don’t know which angel RGV decided to piss off by taking a dump in its bed, but Rakht Charitra is terrible. Not in a lights come on and you look over at your date and immediately apologize for picking this movie of all the tens available kind of way, but in a shoulders slumped in defeat as you slowly huddle into your miserable seat and sadly shake your head way.

Rakht Charitra is an orgy of all the hacky bits of filmmaking that have become the RGV hallmark of late, from mysterious/dizzying camera angles to boomingly obvious background scores to attention-destroying close ups of every other actor’s nostrils… now with the added benefit of the worst narrator ever employed by a movie. Bar none. His one direction seems to have been: “Pretend every word you speak is a breech baby to which you’re giving birth.”

And what words they are! After introducing us to the town of Anandpur, the kind of skeevy, dusty, violence-strewn place that we’ve now come to expect of our rural interiors at the cinema, our narrator helpfully informs us in his over-enunciated, weirdly accented manner that blood is the accepted way to settle things here – especially when it’s a matter of ego, women or privilege. And therefore, he continues, the history of Anandpur is a history of blood. A rakht charitra in fact! So clever.

Apparently RGV only expected idiots to come watch his movie (and yes, I feel like one now, thanks for asking!) because this distressing pattern doesn’t end after the introduction. Instead, the narrator regularly puts in an appearance to thunderously explain a scene, after which you see the scene take place.

  • “The snake is coming out of his lair!” – the villain is about to leave his house.
  • “She didn’t know this then but he had set out on a long journey.” – and our hero hops on a scooter and rushes off to his faraway, troubled homeland.
  • “His ego was hurt by X event so he asked his assistant who was behind this deed.” – three guesses what happens next.

The sad part about all of this, the reason I’m so viciously disappointed, is because there’s actually a good movie hidden somewhere in the middle of this mess, performed by actors who’re pretty good at their jobs.

I feel especially bad for Vivek Oberoi, a man on the Ben Affleck road to redemption, who turns in a what I suspect was a fine performance if only I could penetrate that cacophony of tricks RGV unloads on top of it. There was his (unintentionally) hilarious entry scene, for instance, wherein he exudes menace, riding a Bajaj scooter and opening the unoffending gate of a suburban house in a nice neighborhood so he can ask for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage. The one standout scene, before it succumbed to the everpresent trowel-full of obvious ham, comes late into the film when he stands before the pawn he’s just utilized to his best advantage, standing bathed in the golden glow of the sun, a well-barbered young man in shining white, all the better to appeal to public opinion.

I try really hard to go with the movie presented in front of me, rather than the movie I think ought to exist in its place, but every so often I come across one that is the equivalent of an old friend who greets me by slapping a dead fish in my face. It gets rather difficult to look past the fish to the friend standing beyond. I honestly feel RGV is a man with a lot of interesting, creative ideas who, in the wise words of Tim Gunn, doesn’t know how to edit. So he just sticks everything in there.

Anysmellydeadfish, the movie begins with an easily manipulated politician called Narasimha Reddy whose righteous friendship with his lower caste protege Veer Bhadra lasts all of two watered-down Scotches after it is given the evil eye by a painfully obvious manipulator called Nagamani Reddy (Kota Srinivasa Rao). The fallout results in a simmering caste war that promises to play out at the local elections, threatening to unseat the Reddys from their power base. Nagamani, with Narasimha’s blessing, then takes his grudge just that teensy envelope-pushing bit too far and assassinates Veer Bhadra.

His mantle of idealism thus falls on elder son Shankar (Sushant Singh), who carries it with grief, pride and a healthy dose of guerrilla warfare. This obviously gets him murdered in short order as well, leaving just Pratap (Vivek Oberoi) to carry out the family mission: kill all those who wronged their family and, time and energy permitting, society as a whole.

Unfortunately, once Narasimha and Nagamani have been despatched, with a modicum of elan I might add, Pratap finds his troubles aren’t over. Now Pratap is a wanted terrorist and Nagamani has left behind his infamous son Bukka (Abhimanyu Singh), who “changed the definition of vile” the ever-knowledgeable narrator informs us over a montage of said Bukka being suitably changing the definition of vile. Sigh.

Happily for Pratap, Bukka is an equal opportunity son-of-a-bitch and has succeeded in pissing off Shivaji Rao (Shatrughan Sinha), a carpet-bagging movie star turned politician, whom he hilariously scares away from Anandpur with a few well placed bombs. Outraged that he, the man who regularly beat up entire armies single-handedly on the big screen, was forced to turn tail and run offscreen, Shivaji wants to know: “How can a demon like Bukka exist in a democracy?”

“What do you mean how?” asks his befuddled assistant. “He exists therefore he is.”

I chuckled far more heartily than this little sally deserved but at a certain point, you take your joy where you can get it.

Thus, Shivaji and Pratap join forces – Pratap’s no dummy after all, and he’s powerfully attracted to Shivaji, the most Machiavellian figure he’s ever met, and his amazing ideas like keeping Pratap out of jail by turning him into a politician so he can murder all he wants while staying above the law. Oh, Nagamani, if only you and your pitiful tumblers of Scotch were alive to watch and learn, abashed, the art of skillful manipulation from a man who prefers to stroke the heads of gold tigers than rapey sons.

As the problem of Bukka is solved, with more helpful exposition from the narrator, Pratap sets about his business, cleaning town and taking names. In between all this is an honest cop (Ashwini Kalsekar) who shows up to remind you that honesty never pays, especially in an RGV movie; and various wives, widows, sisters, hookers, pillion-riders, billboard models and girlfriends, all of them sad, desperate and sinned against, except for Nandini (Radhika Apte). Pratap’s college sweetheart turned wife, she is the sort of fool who calmly listens to her beloved telling her he’s indeed a much-discussed murderer who plans to murder again and decides that’s just what she’s looking for in the father of her children. Off she goes to walk silently by his side in the forest and give meaningful looks in the background. She’ll get hers, I guess.

In the sequel! Wherein Pratap will be presented with his butcher’s bill. But apart from the little “scenes from our next movie” they tacked on to the end of this one, I have no idea what that will look like because here’s a sentence I will never use again: I am truly excited to watch Ram Gopal Varma’s new movie.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2010 in Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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Sorry for the Interruption

“As The Rama annihilled The Ravan; as The Krishna annihilled The Kansa, so we are sure, The Chavan will annihil The Chou.”

– The late owner of one of India’s most famous English dailies (the first one that popped into your head is probably the right one) in 1962, at a banquet honoring YB Chavan, the new Defence Minister.

Suresh Kalmadi isn’t even tops at screwing up his speeches. The only good thing about a massively disappointing week was this little anecdote offered as a piece of dinner conversation. Normal blogging to resume.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2010 in Newsmakers, Personal, Politics

 

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Cleanup Detail

SouthIndian mothers are all the same

When Jenny McCarthy was on Oprah recently, she had a funny story about posing for Playboy for the first time – the Bunny-to-be had just stripped down for the shoot when she noticed everybody else was struck dumb. The cause? Her hairy hoo ha.

(Honestly, the things you read on this blog! While you’re at work too, you naughty thing!)

McCarthy didn’t know this was a big deal because, well, why should she? Maybe little girls these days are logging on to the internet and learning that their vajayjays are supposed to look a certain way i.e. the way it used to look before they hit puberty (God, I hope not!) but back in the day, the only person likely to tell you what to do with your bush when growing up was your mom and she was unlikely to hold up porn stars as preferred grooming idols.

Well, those days are over. Behold, the concerned parent of the 21st century: bikini waxing her toddlers for their own good. There’s even a term for this handy service that’s ideally supposed to permanently damage follicles in just a few sessions, eradicating the need for any pesky waxing, shaving or trimming as an adult – Virgin Waxing. The “virgin” in this case apparently refers to the hair growth… you know what? Excuse me a moment while I ask of the universe:

Are you fucking kidding me?!

I admit, I’m fairly conservative when it comes to things like children and their upbringing. I don’t have any but this doesn’t stop me from having opinions all the same. It is the last remnant of my conservative childhood and I hang on to it, because nothing I’ve seen out there has really challenged it or made me even come close to changing my mind.

In the way of tweens, I wanted to get my legs waxed the moment I saw a schoolmate sashay down the hall in her short skirt at age thirteen. I had the skirt all right, but I wanted those legs. Those shiny, shiny legs that looked so very adult.

“I think I’m ready,” I told my mother as she got a manicure at our salon.

“Girls are doing it very early these days,” agreed the man who usually waxed her legs, sizing me up.

Ma looked me in the face and laughed and laughed and laughed. When she finally caught her breath, she said one word: “Chee!” And that was the end of that.

In fact, I’d graduated high school before my mother would let me wax anything at all. And when I got my eyebrows done for the first time as a special treat at age sixteen for my cousin’s wedding, it was a family affair with one of my aunties standing over the poor parlor assistant’s shoulder and loudly whispering, “Don’t cry! Remember not to cry!” as my eyes watered copiously.

Of course, being a good mother, we did have talks about personal grooming. From manicure to shaving sets, cosmetics to creams, the best part of growing up with a mother who has sisters is that there’s no dearth of advice on everything from acne treatments to what is the correct amount of toilet paper.

And we eventually talked about pubic hair – but the emphasis was always on hygiene, not sexuality. In our house, grooming wasn’t just about being attractive. It sounds very corporate sloganish but every summer my grandmother would repeatedly remind me (in case my mother wasn’t doing it enough) that good grooming is about having pride in oneself. You take care of yourself because you deserve it, not to impress other people.

“This is not the way for good girls to walk around the house before the first lamp is lit in the evening,” my grandmother would say. “You should first wash, then powder your face, put on a bindi, comb and tie your hair neatly, change into freshly pressed clothes, and then come downstairs to see the first lamp. That’s what a lady looks like.”

Deep in my rebellious phase when I refused to comb my hair and adopted a hobo style (quite an ingenious feat considering my mother was still buying my clothes), I wasn’t ready to listen. But nobody pulled me down and forcibly combed my hair, nor did anybody force me to change my clothes. At the time, I thought it a victory over the Establishment. Later, I was quite puzzled because the Establishment at our home is quite capable of breaking the backs of little guerrilla efforts like that.

It took me years before I realized that part of the lesson my grandmother and mother were trying to teach me was that self-worth is something only you can determine for yourself. If they’d forced me to look presentable according to their stringent standards, as they well could have at the time, it would only have appeased their sense of worth, their image of a family member, not mine.

I don’t even want to imagine what lesson those little girls with their permanently waxed genitalia are receiving right now.

[Thanks (?), Jan!]

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2010 in Life, Newsmakers

 

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TMI Nation

Dear People-Who-Will-Never-Read-This,

here is a helpful list of things to avoid discussing with me when next you run into me at a supermarket checkout/ bar/ restroom/ wedding/ public transport/ other public venues. Since you don’t know who I am and will never see me again, try not to bring up the following topics with anybody at all… just to be on the safe side.

Please do not tell me about -

  • the consistency of your diarrhea
  • the consistency of your kid’s diarrhea
  • the exact details, including taste and color, of your vomit
  • the boil on your bum and your deranged fantasies of what will happen if it bursts
  • the blood you discovered on your used toilet paper after examining it closely
  • your exciting holiday
  • your opinion of my clothes
  • your analysis of my hair, weight, complexion and height, and how they will fare in the marriage market
  • your thoughts on kids today
  • your terrible mother-in-law (who is standing right next to me)
  • your super cute love story
  • your hope and aspirations and why none of them have ever come true
  • how Jesus can save me from my heathen ways
  • how God will punish me for not going to the temple enough
  • what your neighbor said to you
  • what you said to your neighbor
  • what your son’s boss said about him
  • what your son said about his boss
  • what is wrong with Muslims
  • what is wrong with Christians
  • what is wrong with white people
  • what is wrong with black people
  • what is wrong with people who are not you, and perhaps, me
  • Commonwealth Games (this goes for people who know me too. I just… can’t anymore.)

Thanks!

I swear some days I feel like I’m turning into a crotchety old lady. The kind that mumbles to herself and she threateningly waves her cane at passerby. One step from homeless and warning of Armageddon on my soapbox, that’s me. You know why does that? And you know who drives me there most days? The loyal citizenry of the global TMI nation who have slowly colonized the world.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on September 27, 2010 in Life, Personal

 

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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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The English Patience

Hello. I love British shows.
Thank you. You’ve got good taste.

Currently I’m watching ——-. I’m on episode 4 already. I can’t wait for next week!
Sorry but you will have to.

What do you mean?
Well, this season is over.

Oh, I didn’t know that. Well, then I’ll just catch up with the rest of the episodes on the net or buy the DVDs or something.
That’s just it. There are no more episodes.

You mean the entire season comprises of 4 episodes?
Yes.

Huh. Well, when does the next season start?
Three years from now. Maybe.

What?
I said: The next season will air three years from now. Maybe.

Are you serious?
Of course. Why would I joke about a thing like that? But the good news is that it might stretch to six episodes if the cast and the producers can reach an agreement.

Oh, that is good news! And why wouldn’t the cast agree to a couple of extra episodes? Look at them! They seem to be having such fun.
Ah. Well, that’s not the cast that will appear in the next season.

The one three years from now? Maybe?
Yes. It will star a completely new cast.

But it’s the same show?
Duh. Obviously it’s the same show. Same concept, same location, same production. Just another cast.

I dunno. This all sounds confusing to me. I guess I’m going to wait until it all comes out on DVD and then catch it all together.
You’ll be waiting a while, won’t you?

What do you mean?
The DVDs don’t come out for another 20 years.

Shut up.
‘Struth!

But I just got the DVDs for this other British show I like.
When was it made?

Um, let me see… about 20 years – Oh.
Toldja.

But it’s the super nice anniversary edition. Four in a box.
Not bad for one season.

Ha ha. Don’t be silly. It’s four DVDs for four seasons.
Check it.

*runs to check*

Crap. It’s one episode per DVD! And there’s no commentary or making of or anything. Wait, there’s a two-minute interview in each!
Oooh, you got the fancy version! Must have been expensive.

No – yes – well…
How much did you pay for it?

It retails for 100 pounds but it was on sale so I got it for 80.
Nice.

About this British show I love…
Yes?

I think I’ll wait for the watered down American version.
Smart choice.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on September 10, 2010 in Entertainment, Television, Video

 

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C’est de la Folie

C’est de la Folie

The Charge of the Light Brigade is one of the best movies ever made about war. It is about class and the thin line that separates foolishness from bravery on the battlefield; the aloof decisions of powerful men who choose between life and death for other human beings. Extensively researched, it tells the story of one particular battle in the Crimean War, the Battle of Balaclava, later made famous by Lord Tennyson in his poem of the same title.

That movie, of course, was directed by Tony Richardson in 1968 and starred John Gielgud, Trevor Howard and Vanessa Redgrave. But this is Flynn Week, so we shall discuss the version made thirty-odd years before that, starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Patric Knowles.

If you’re the kind of person who finds Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom offensive then The Charge of the Light Brigade is definitely not for you. In fact, eating monkey brains at a dinner hosted by a manic Amrish Puri playing the head of a cracktastic Kali temple is probably the kinder depiction of the two.

Directed by Michael Curtiz, The Charge of the Light Brigade begins on the Northwest frontier of British India. A clearly know-nothing envoy of the crown is in “Suristan” to meet the cagey new ruler Osama bin Laden Surat Khan (C. Henry Gordon) and somehow convince him to remain friendly to British interests while cutting off the annual allowance with which the British government bought the cooperation of his predecessor and the tribesmen he ruled.

Captain Geoffrey Vickers (Errol Flynn), a veteran of this treacherous terrain, doesn’t really think much of the mission, the envoy or the supposedly “gentlemanly” Surat Khan who lives in an amazingly chic mausoleum with some truly fashion forward pillars in the midst of which he naps on his throne and breeds vultures that he keeps in giant birdcages right smack in the middle of his audience chamber. Coz he’s a savage, see, fancy British education or not.

With England firmly embroiled in The Great Game, rulers in sensitive and potentially hostile areas like Suristan are vitally important. Vickers isn’t all that keen on the idea but ends up saving his hide anyway when a gorgeous spotted kitty is about to make him her dinner while they’re out on safari. Surat Khan immediately pledges friendship and eternal debt to Vickers.

Meanwhile in Calcutta, Vickers’ fiancee Elsa (Olivia de Havilland) is reconsidering quite another pledge. Love being blind, she has fallen for Vickers all right – Perry Vickers (Patric Knowles), Geoffrey’s dorky little brother. Elsa’s father, predictably, doesn’t think much of a man who would make out with his brother’s fiancee, even if he thinks his elder brother is the jolliest of good fellows who’d be willing to hand the love of his life over to his younger brother, all neatly tied up in a bow. He’s much kinder to his daughter as he points out that Geoffrey is Errol freakin’ Flynn, dummy!

Turns out Elsa’s dad was on to something as Geoffrey chews his brother out when he comes clean about Elsa and him falling in love with each other. This creates a misunderstanding between the brothers, especially since weepy Miss Elsa is “a respectable lady” who can’t bring herself to hurt wee Geoffrey’s feelings even though she managed to fall in love with his brother in his absence. Oh, boo fucking hoo. Not even Olivia de Havilland can sell this selfish little drama queen to me.

Now I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking the same thing by this point – why are we spending all this time in India when the movie is about a battle fought in Ukraine?

Well… here’s the thing: when your popcorn movie is based on a poem, no matter how stirring its lines, you need to jazz it up a little. All that stuff about office politics and incompetent aristocrats running the army is all well and good, but when you’re making a movie about Errol Flynn leading a suicide charge against an enemy many times the size of his force, there better be a honking great reason for it.

The filmmakers chose the massacre of the surrendered British, including their women, children, and servants, at Kanpur (or Cawnpore as they spelled it in those days) during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 (or The First War of Independence as we learned to call it in India) as the motivational event. Except the Battle of Balaclava took place before that so they relocated the events to a fictional outpost and made savage, vulture breeding, Russki-loving Surat Khan the aggressor.

Although Vickers is sadly mistaken about how low Surat Khan’s willing to go, even the blackest of villains has their limit. He spares Vickers his life (and that of Elsa) for having once saved his own. Just as Vickers lived to regret his good deed, Surat Khan will presently repent his momentary lapse into honor when the two come face to face in the Crimea.

Apparently, when the Russians saw the incredibly outnumbered British charge the guns at Balaclava, they thought the Brit soldiers must be drunk. A French Marshal said: “It is magnificent but it is not war. It is madness.”

Curtiz takes this sentiment and runs with it. When Vickers comes to know that Surat Khan is present behind enemy lines in The Charge of the Light Brigade, he unilaterally takes the decision to change the more sensible orders handed him by his superior to avenge the deaths of the women and children Surat Khan murdered. Naturally, a spot of insubordination and horrific carnage is incidental to the whole process as befits an officer as bold, principled and courageous as Vickers.

It’s almost genius. At one stroke the movie reclaims an act of such foolhardiness that it actually worked; and sanitizes the very real revenge the British exacted for Kanpur by way of the extremely bloody suppression of the revolt, all of which took place in India instead of some faraway country and was visited on the heads of all sorts of Indians instead of just one villainous one.

It’s a little difficult to find a copy of The Charge of the Light Brigade as Warner Brothers never re-released it, owing to the production’s practice of using trip wires to bring down the horses during the battle scenes, which led to hundreds of the animals getting either killed or having to be put down. Yeah. Um. But another way of looking at it, to follow in the movie’s silver lining example, is to remember that the American government was so horrified, Congress passed the law about harming animals during shoots. Yay?

If you can look past the fact that The Charge of the Light Brigade is stolidly a product of its times, it’s a great blast from the thankfully past and includes a performance by a young David Niven, who went on to use one of Curtiz’s phrases from this movie as the title of his memoir Bring on the Empty Horses. Always worth it.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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Awesomely Insane Jeetendra

Awesomely Insane Jeetendra

While searching for material to post during Sridevipalooza week, I made a mistake – albeit a happy one. I went to Youtube to look for clips and fell down a Jeetendra-related video-hole.

I’d forgotten, for example, that the man spent a good chunk of his life dressed like Errol Flynn. The results were so astoundingly, blindingly B-movie fabulous, I just had to share! Just to scratch the surface…

10. Jaise Ko Taise

What better to start us off than a spot of homoerotic S&M? Complete with gymnastics and crotch shots!

Because you’re special.

9. Badi Mastani Meri Jawani

You know what Sholay lacked? The part where Jai and Veeru are hung over a bunch of hungry lions while Basanti and Radha dance awkwardly in harem pants with a bunch of passing African tribesmen.

What? No self-respecting African lady would be seen without a feather duster on her head, I’ll have you know!

8. Kismat Likhne Wale Par

A floating gold throne gently deposits Jeetendra and Jaya Prada (dressed in doublet and apsara costume, respectively) in the technicolor land of floating disco balls. You know things can only improve from there!

7. Chumma Chumma

Apart from the amazing lyrics (the rhyme scheme alone merits it a mention on every list), what I particularly love about this song is the expression on both their faces:

Jeetendra: But… but… that’s not Jaya Prada!
Dimple Kapadia: What the fuck am I doing? That’s right – I have two kids to bring up.
Jeetendra: I don’t understand! Those are the right clothes but that’s not her! This one looks like she actually understands what she’s saying!
Dimple Kapadia: Wave hands! Raise leg! Wave hands! Raise leg! I can dance! And I have no idea what I’m saying! See? Kiss me, you fool!
Jeetendra: Fraud! There is no kissing between Jaya Prada and me – we only have pretend sex while partially clothed! Get off me!

6. Deewana

Mithun wept.

5. Oye Sanam-a

It is a crime to choose just one song out of Hatim Tai but since I can’t embed the entire movie here, this will have to do. Sigh.

4. Daiya Re Daiya

There are some things without which you really can’t call yourself a Bollywood Hero of a certain vintage – and one of those things is the honored tradition of blackface. Or, as practiced in Bollytown, dark green face.

Omigod! Is that Jeetendra under that “tan”? I totally didn’t recognize him! What a cunning disguise! Of course, all the pelvic thrusts helped distract.

3. Maine Tum Sang

Did you ever wonder what people did before they had CGI or if they couldn’t afford special effects? Well, this is your lucky day! The answer is: they simulated running in slo-mo and took over some school’s annual day decorations. An absolutely fabulous school, of course!

These two really made the best movies!

2. Nainon Mein Sapna

I don’t care what you say – if you were in India at a certain point in the 80s, you knew this song like your mother’s lullaby. You saw it on Doordarshan on those oh-so-special Thursdays (Fridays?) when the holy half hour of Chitrahar played state-approved movie songs. You heard it on the radio at your grandmother’s house. Your cleaning lady hummed it under her breath. You knew it, no lie.

Try getting it out of your head now. Muahahaha!

1. Yeh Mera Premi

The thunderous notes that open this song herald your entry into a whole another dimension. Canary yellow wigs! A handkerchief on Leena Chandravarkar’s head! Playing card motifs! The I-got-beaned-on-the-head-till-I-drooled expressions on Jeetendra’s face! Tights! Happy skips! Extras in lockstep! Nothing beats this song!

[pic source]

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Music, Video

 

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