Monthly Archives: June 2007

R.I.P Studio 60

On Thursday the 28th of June 2007, Aaron Sorkin’s season long, nationally televised therapy session finally came to an end. You might know it better as Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

Some people can write about themselves with a sense of humor. They can portray their loves and hates as something more than caricatures. They are able to allow portraiture to turn into characterization i.e. set their own feelings about the real life models aside and allow the characters in the story at hand enough room to develop into ‘actual’ people. Sorkin, an immensely talented writer who created stand out series like The West Wing, is apparently not one of them. Or maybe he just needed some catharsis and decided he might as well get paid for it.

This was Studio 60‘s premise: The fictional Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is a show much like Saturday Night Live except it’s located in L.A. and airs on Friday nights. Created and run by a legendary producer named Wes Mendel, S60 hits a snag when the aging Mendel, frustrated by the increasing erosion of his creative control, grabs a mike and goes on a Network-style rant on air. Crisis! Mendel is immediately fired but the show is still struggling to reach its former glory. This is when talented producer-director Daniel Tripp and supremely talented writer Matthew Albie (both Mendel protégées) are forced by circumstances (cocaine and loyalty) to return to the TV show that they’d left in a huff more than five years ago. Drama ensues.

Or rather, this is where drama should have ensued. What we got instead was an hour long fictionalized glimpse into the Inner World of Aaron Sorkin (Albie as played by Matthew Perry) and best friend and collaborator Thomas Schlamme (Tripp as played by Bradley Whitford).

For those of you not in the know, here’s the basic skinny: Sorkin, recovering drug addict and successful playwright/screenplay writer (A Few Good Men, The American President, etc) co-created and co-produced The West Wing. Despite frequent allegations of liberal bias (leading some to dub the series The Left Wing), Sorkin, a lifelong Democrat, is one of the most lauded and awarded writers of our generation.

After four phenomenally successful and eventful seasons on the TWW, he and Schlamme resigned from the show because of differences with the production company. This left producer John Wells (ER, Third Watch) in charge of the remaining three seasons, which couldn’t reach the heights achieved by the first four even though they were still recognized for their quality.

TWW is also where Sorkin, divorced with one daughter, began dating Kristin Chenoweth, who has often professed her Christian faith in public and once went on Pat Robertson’s The 700 Club to promote her album although she apparently later regretted it as she says her views do not match the extreme kind espoused by people such as Robertson and Jerry Falwell. She and Sorkin broke up after he left the show and she began dating Wells.

Sorkin didn’t return to television until last year when NBC (the network which aired TWW) snapped up rights to Studio 60. It was one of the shows that was supposed to drag the struggling network out of the doldrums it was then experiencing.

Now here’s how this translates to the world of the show: Matt Albie is an award-winning, recovering drug addict and lifelong Democrat who felt compelled to resign his position as head writer and executive producer of Studio 60 five years ago because he felt his creative freedom was being compromised. He was dating the openly Christian Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson), star of Studio 60, who once went on The 700 Club to promote an album although she later regretted it because her views don’t match those of Robertson. Hayes also began dating Albie’s writing rival, the somewhat under-talented Luke Scott. Five years later, he returns to work on the show when it is experiencing a ratings slide and internal chaos.

I like Aaron Sorkin. At least, I like his work. I was a huge, huge fan of TWW and will be to my dying day, bias or no bias. I like his work even if he thinks all bloggers are cat-owning, pajama clad losers with short sight, no personal hygiene and no friends. I like his work even if the characterization of Hayes was the rottenest thing to do to an ex.

Studio 60, though? I don’t like so much.

It’s not just that the show was about people who did comedy sketches every week for a living and yet Studio 60 couldn’t deliver a chuckle if you held a gun to its head. It’s not that Paulson is a fine actress and I’m sad I feel like throwing things at the TV every time she shows up on screen (“Let me teach you how to pray” – WTF?!).

It’s not that Sorkin writes about the Midwest like it’s on another planet (apparently they’ve never heard the names Abbott and Costello in the wilds of Ohio) or that he manages to make every second character into an asshole. Not even the awesomeness that is DL Hughley, for example, could make me like the jerk-ness that is Simon Stiles, the character he plays on Studio 60.

It’s not his portrayal of women – although I wanted to crack a head or two when Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet) who was introduced to us as a tough, smartass businesswoman who can more than hold her own in the cutthroat world of TV, turned into an insecure mass of nerves the moment some skinny blonde got hired. Granted she was pregnant and had hit a rough patch at the office when said blonde was hired but come on! The woman McDeere was supposed to be would have scalped skinny blonde bloody and still make time for lunch, fetus or no fetus.

It’s not even his well-established practice of building up the most interesting romantic relationships ever and then either ignoring them or, perhaps worse, delving into them and making the viewer hate it. Like, loathe it. He did it all the time to Rob Lowe’s Sam Seaborn in TWW. I won’t even touch the whole Josh-Donna thing.

No, the thing that really turned me off (although all the above definitely contributed) was watching Sorkin write episodes week after week about how wonderful Albie is.

Albie is brilliant. Albie is patriotic. Albie knows his pop culture. Albie is smart. Albie is funny. Albie is sexy. Albie dates Pussycat Dolls – er, well, to continue… Albie is not a bigot. Albie is loyal. Albie is well educated. Albie is self aware. Albie is so darn wonderful, he’s like a drug you can never kick. Just ask Harriet Hayes.

Even if Sorkin is writing Albie as the guy he’d like to be or something but that’s… words fail me. Disturbing? Creepy? Holy Mother of God, what was he thinking?!

Still, I’m going to take three positive things away from me:

  • Steven Weber as Jack Rudolph – my new crush! Give him a show NBC. I’ll watch.
  • I want to adopt Nate Corddry.
  • Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry should always work together.


Posted by on June 30, 2007 in Entertainment, News, Review, Television, Video


Chris Benoit, Mitt Romney, Isaiah Washington

From TMZ

This is not a blog that is World Wrestling Entertainment friendly. For that matter, this is not a blog that is WWE unfriendly. This is more a blog that is WWE indifferent. Not for me the oohing and aahing over the wrestlers and their huge, bulked up bodies. I thought The Rock was funny in The Scorpion King (although I couldn’t help but wish he’d come up with some other catchphrase coz I had a friend who’d use it in season and out season and that shit is majorly annoying) and that’s about the only time I’ve ever bothered to think of the WWE.

Which explains why I had never heard the name Chris Benoit until earlier this week.

However, this blog definitely cherishes warm feelings for little children. Not enough to have them, at least not yet, but enough to feel a bit depressed when it sees pics like the one above.

At every turn this story becomes more disturbing, both as facts are revealed and in the manner in which Benoit is being portrayed. Some news accounts of this murder/suicide include the claim that Benoit was a devoted family man, ignoring the fact that his now-dead wife had filed for divorce on the grounds that Benoit engaged in “cruel treatment,” and made the claims that 240-pound Benoit was violent and had destroyed furniture during his rages. There are indications that Benoit’s seven-year-old son had needle marks from human growth hormone injections. Benoit was involved in the Internet-based steroid and human growth hormone scandal being investigated from Albany, New York and was best buddies with Eddie Guerrero, who died from steroid-induced heart failure in 2005. Anabolic steroids have been found in the Benoit house as a result of the post-murder/suicide investigation. Benoit’s wife’s wrists and feet had been bound and there were signs of struggle. How much worse can it get?

Read More

Well, for starters, little Daniel was suffering from a form of autism, something that had apparently lately become a bone of contention between Chris and his wife Nancy. And the doctor who prescribed (legal) steroids for Benoit has “a history of shady practices” according to TMZ.

From Pappillons

Another person whom I found disturbing this week was Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Now while this blog isn’t all that inclined the Republican way, it does like pets. Especially doggies like the beautiful puppies featured above. Here’s the story of Seamus, the Romney family Irish setter:

Before beginning the drive, Mitt Romney put Seamus, the family’s hulking Irish setter, in a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon’s roof rack. He’d built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog.

[Soon a] brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who’d been riding on the roof in the wind for hours.

…Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway. It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.

Emotion-free crisis management? Really? And that’s not all. When called on his treatment of the family pet, Romney told reporters that he thought it was all a giant PETA conspiracy: Seamus had in fact enjoyed being hauled down a highway on a roof carrier because he loved “fresh air”.

Well, in that case, since Romney’s kids are all grown up and too big to fit into a dog carrier, how about he strap one of his grandkids into one of those (with a windshield to provide comfort) and then take a twelve hour drive down a highway? When the kid craps itself, he can hose it down and continue. I mean, don’t the Romney kids like fresh air? And it’s not like that’s dangerous or anything. Is it?

For the record, here’s what PETA had to say:

Thinking of the wind, the weather, the speed, the vulnerability, the isolation on the roof, it is commonsense that any dog who’s under extreme stress might show that stress by losing control of his bowels: that alone should have been sufficient indication that the dog was, basically, being tortured.

Gee, thanks, Romney. Now you’re making me agree with PETA. Awesome. Anyway, this seems to have sparked a lot of attention – just a different kind from the one the authors of the original article were expecting. Welcome to campaigning in the 21st century folks.

From Komotv

And then, of course, there is Isaiah Washington. Remember how I wrote that he had been fired from Grey’s Anatomy and I couldn’t help but feel bad about that because he was such a fine actor and I loved his character and yadda yadda? Yeah, I got over that.

I was over it the moment he started telling people how TR Knight was the guy who should have been fired. Why? Well, because he didn’t say it to TR’s face and he thinks TR used the incident to gain publicity. Yeah, Isaiah. TR outed himself to the public and put his career with a smash hit TV show in jeopardy just to get some publicity. Because the 20+ million viewers who watched the show were obviously not enough.

And I’m sure Isaiah wouldn’t have the least problem working with someone who called him ‘nigger’ as long as they did it when he wasn’t in the room. Sure, I believe that. Uh-huh.

But wait, that was last week. Isaiah’s on a roll and has more to say this week. Much more:

“Patrick and I had a philosophical disagreement that got out of hand and that I regret a great deal,” Washington says. “I said a lot of negative things that were never reported, but there was one word that caught everyone’s attention, particularly someone who wasn’t even in the room with us. It was a fight between two men that shouldn’t have happened. But someone heard the booming voice of a black man and got really scared and that was the beginning of the end for me.

“If a black man can’t get forgiveness in this country, when so many other people like Robert Downey Jr. and the governor of California get second and third chances … I think that says a lot about race and this country where we stand.

“Growing up in the South, I wasn’t exposed to as many different lifestyles and personalities as I could have been. And that’s always a problem, because the more you’re exposed, clearly the more you know and understand,” Washington says. “My mother had several cross-dressing friends who she sometimes referred to with names I’d never use, but she didn’t know any better. There was no hate, just lack of awareness.”

Okay, here’s the thing, Isaiah. You’re not living in the South anymore. You’re living in L.A. and have been for many years. And you knew what the deal was with the term you used.

I come from India and I didn’t even know black people much less gay people growing up. I have idiot friends who think it’s cool to refer to each other as “nigga” and frequently use the N-word in connection to black people. Those same friends use the F word to refer to gay people. They don’t feel any particular hate either. They’re not organizing lynch mobs. But they use it all the same.

Guess what? I don’t feel inclined to join them. Not even when I’m angry. I once used the term “fairy” as a joke and while nobody said anything to me about it, I’m still eaten up with guilt over it. You know why? Coz it was wrong of me to say it.

And you know what else? I don’t think it ever entered my head to blame someone else for what I said. I could have and with far more cause than you now that I think about it, but here’s the thing: I said it. And I knew that it was wrong when I did. It’s that simple.



Posted by on June 29, 2007 in Celebrity, Entertainment, News, Politics


Himesh is Burqa Man

Time Magazine

When budding Pakistani filmmaker Omar Ali Khan set out to make his country’s first slasher epic, Zibahkhana (Slaughterhouse/Hell’s Ground), the scariest things he could think to include was a maniac dressed in a burqa and the call to prayer emanating from the local mosque.

Over the border in India, Himesh Reshammiya (music director, budding megastar and a great many other superlatives as well) was probably struck by the sheer unexplored genius of such a concept because his latest stunt is as Burqa Man at the dargah in Ajmer.

Apparently The Himesh is so super duper famous that he fears the public’s boori nazar and thus decided to take a page out of co-star Mallika Sherawat’s book: he donned a burqa to enter the shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hassan Chishti.

From BBCThe Himesh says he went there to pray for his forthcoming (June 29) movie, Aap Ka Surroor – The Moviee – The Real Luv Storyyy… ok, sorry, it’s ‘story’ with a single ‘y’. I just like symmetry. And like Sherawat he feared for his izzat if he went out in public as himself so he decided to go undercover. Or something like that.

I think this is all part of the The Himesh’s plan to conquer the world. He’s already made a killing in the songs-for-Emraan Hashmi market but now he’s got his eyes set on the big screen as well.

Hell, I’ll watch. And why not? It features songs like the one below.

I think that clip represent the power of The Himesh very well. He’s so awesome that he can not only get Mallika Sherawat to shake her booty to Mehbooba Mehbooba (alongside guys holding rifles outside a casino no less!) but he can also get the venerable Asha Bhonsle to sing it, feud or no feud.

In fact, The Himesh is so bursting over with talent and good looks that he can’t just exist on this dimension alone. He’s on the lookout for other worlds to conquer. Mars and Jupiter turned him down (they’ll be sorry!) but the cartoons told him to Bring It On!

Here’s The Himesh shooting hearts out of the back of his head while he romances the hottest chick in the room even as other (male) dopey toons battle ninja spiders and destroy pinball machines:

Himesh Reshammiya – kicking manga ass! Well… not really, but whatever.

[Originally published, in altered form, at DesiDabba]


Posted by on June 28, 2007 in Celebrity, Entertainment, News, Video


Brazilian Ad Attack

Mena Suvari in American Beauty

Above is the classic image of Mena Suvari from the movie American Beauty. This and other famous photographs are the ‘inspiration’ behind a new ad campaign for Fit Light, a Brazilian brand of yogurt, as portrayed below:

Ad One

Personally, I don’t find the photos by themselves to be as outrageous as some others on the net are making them out to be. This is probably because I don’t find so-called “big” women to be automatically unsexy or an affront to my eyes. While overweight is never a healthy position to find yourself in, some women are just naturally big boned just like some men are. And the desire to look like fishsticks on legs is hardly universal. Don’t get me wrong – girls are still growing up with eating disorders but it’s hardly a tragedy to be well endowed in this age of Beyonce.

Marilyn Monroe

Neither does the use of female sexuality (or partial nudity for that matter) bother me – especially when it’s done as beautifully as these ads are and when the campaign makes a direct connection between the product (in this case yogurt) and being sexy.

Ad Two

I don’t even find the idea that eating yogurt will make you thin and therefore sexy all that shocking. I guess I should but these ad guys in Brazil were hardly the first to come up with the concept. I distinctly remember this American ad for a brand I can’t remember offhand (I don’t eat yogurt) which was all about a woman who wanted to get into a bikini in the summer and went on a yogurt diet, which was ultimately a resounding success. I don’t think it raised so much as a ripple in the blogosphere.

Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct

No, the problem here is the tagline. To wit: Forget about it. Men’s preference will never change. Fit Light Yogurt.

Oh-No-They-Didn’t! Except, of course, they totally did. So that’s one hand in the reverse sexism pie, the other fathoms deep in the insecurity dish. Nice.

Ad Three

Strangely though, most of the noise seems to be coming from the American side. Brazilians, as seen by the comments here, seem to be largely taken by surprise. I guess that’s only fitting given the amount of time devoted to gaining a positive body image in America.

The buzz, negative or positive, is something dear to any ad agency’s itty bitty little heart. Now if only they could make it move a bit more south and into the country where those ads will actually run.

[Source: the excellent AdBlog]


Posted by on June 27, 2007 in Entertainment, Life


8 Random Facts

Yesterday The Piker tagged me – it’s called Eight Random Facts You Really Don’t Care to Know But Listen Anyway Beeyotch – no, it’s called “Eight Random Facts” and it’s pretty cute… especially when it’s up on someone else’s blog. Bonus points when it’s someone you actually like to read. So here’re the rules:

1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
3. At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
4. If you fail to do this within eight hours, you will not reach Third Series or attain your most precious goals for at least two more lifetimes.

My sick headache yesterday pretty much guaranteed that that last rule would come bite me in the ass but I’ll do the tag anyhoo coz I’m lovely like that (shut up – I can hear you thinking unkind thoughts). So here goes:

1. I read a lot. How much is a lot? On average I read about 5 new books a week plus assorted magazines, comics and various web-related content. And yes, my eyesight is really poor. Anybody done Lasik? I’m thinking of having it done.

2. You know how kids watch certain movies over and over and over again? My childhood obsession was The Sound of Music. To this day nobody in my family can bear to watch it. Except me. I’d still watch it any day.

3. I take an inordinately loooooong time in the shower. It’s not like I do anything out of the ordinary in there (heh!) but man, I got to speed things up some.

4. I never bought clothes for myself until I turned 18 and went to college.

5. I talk in my sleep. Sometimes I’ll even answer questions… as long as you don’t mind answers in gibberish.

6. My mom and I share a nickname – in different languages.

7. I HATE curd. This is because when I was a toddler something called an itchworm (I believe its name says it all) crawled onto my ayah, which was pretty unfortunate. Even worse though, she was holding me and I think pretty soon I was bawling my head off – the only cure for the itch was to apparently dunk me in kilos of curd. I don’t know how much of this is an actual memory but I can still smell my mom and her sisters rubbing the yucky stuff all over me. Blech. These days I’ll tolerate it to be placed on the table and even use it in my cooking but I still hate looking at it, much less smelling it. And I’m not too fond of worms either. 😡

8. Apart from Russell Peters, Eddie Izzard is my favorite comedian:

Okay, now comes the fun part where I choose 8 victims tag-ees. I choose DG, Dee, Kishmish, Ana, Jawahara, The Itinerant Indian, Amit and Tanay. Have fun guys! 😀

Tags Answered:

Ana gives a false alarm on Boney M

Tanay explains the excellent photos on his blog

Amit is a window shopper

Jawahara watches the Lifetime network

Kishore has a terrible memory


Posted by on June 26, 2007 in Personal, Video


Vote for the Taj Mahal

India Folder

If you’ve ever lived near a world-famous tourist destination, then perhaps you can understand how I feel about the Taj Mahal.

On the one hand, it’s one of my favorite places ever; on the other, it was something of a chore. It was a Sight Not To Be Missed and so we never did – over and over and over again. I must have paid my respects to the long dead emperor and his empress at least a dozen times before my father tactfully began booking tour guides for any out-of-towner guest we had staying with us, which was all the time.

But that came much, much later when I was a teenager and my father had finally surrendered heart and soul to his workaholic genes. In the beginning, things were different:

I couldn’t have been more than four or five years old when Ma and Daddy took me to see the Taj for the first time. Our family had just moved back to Delhi and my parents had always adored it. What I remember of that outing is not so much the building, but the build up to it.

I didn’t know what a ‘Taj’ was and frankly, I didn’t really care. What I did know was that I loved a road trip and when you travel with my parents, a trip to the supermarket is a major occasion that requires all sorts of preparation, so the proposed journey to the Taj, situated hours away in Agra, was deeply thrilling.

This was our routine:

The day before the scheduled visit (we never made/make “long distance” spontaneous trips – I don’t think my dad’s nervous system can handle it), my mother would start telling us what to eat and what not to eat. She didn’t want any car sickness or runny tummies on the trip, thank you very much.

Then she’d tell us when to go to bed. Which was anytime after seven o’clock. When we’d protest, she’d roll her eyes expressively and say, “We have to get up early tomorrow so we can be on time!”

This was true. Unless we wanted our father to die of aggravation we’d have to be out of the house by seven in the morning. Ostensibly, this was so that we could beat the heat. But in retrospect, I seem to remember that we never deviated from this schedule even in the dead of winter so I have my doubts.

Of course, when the time came, Ma would be lolling in bed the same as us while my dad ran around like a chicken with its head off yelling at us to get dressed stat, but that’s another story.

We’d have just enough time to brush our teeth, maybe jump into the shower, swallow a couple of sips of tea/milk and then be on our way. We’d (Ma, my brother and I) always forget something or the other and that would provide my father with much satisfaction.

He NEVER forgot anything. No matter what, he’d take his two bottles of water (one hot, one cold, both filtered then boiled), his wallet, his reading glasses, a newspaper to hand to my mother in case the sun got too hot, etc.

Our inferiority in the planning department thus established, we’d stop at this restaurant on the way for breakfast. I can’t remember the name of it but it served some of the best soft scrambled eggs ever. We always stopped there. Always. My dad had been stopping there since the day he first went to the Taj in the 1950s. Eggs eaten early in the morning always make me sick, but those never did.

Finally, a couple of hours later, we’d reach the big sandstone edifice that guards the first glimpse of the Taj.

They say you never forget your first glimpse of it. I must be the exception because I really can’t remember anything about it. What comes to my mind when I think of the Taj are other things: memories gathered through the years of my childhood.

The feel of the marble blistering my feet in the heat of the summer; the smell of the incense wafting up from that mysterious underground crypt that I was always too chicken to enter; the smooth time worn edges of vicious gouges made by desperately greedy knives.

The glittering white of the marble under a wintry noonday sun; the sound of my bare feet slap-slap-slapping against the floor; twirling round and round inside the main chamber until I fell down dizzy, then watching the room flow around me like magic until my scandalized mother rushed over, pulled me up and spanked me for the twin crimes of drawing attention to myself and lying down on the ‘dirty floor where God only knows how many feet have trampled today’.

My mom can be such a downer.

Then there’s the fort at Fatehpur Sikri: my father telling me the story of its birth; the tour of Shahjehan’s relatively tiny, claustrophobic bedroom; resting my little elbow in a darkened hollow patch on the window sill, which, legend has it, was worn there by the emperor’s own elbow as he stared out at the magnificent tomb of his wife.

The scary kung-foo monkeys that roamed with complete impunity over the fort, aiming karate kicks at offending tourists; an uncle jumping some three feet into the air and to side to escape a vicious monkey kick; carefully touristy pictures shot with cringe-inducing 80s hair and attendant unfortunate fashion. And of course, gorging myself on freshly made angoori pedas – I’m glad I never got to see them actually make the stuff.

Things have changed. I hate to be one of those people who sit around and say, “Well, back in my day…” but it’s hard not to when I think of the last time I went there, which must have been about eight years ago.

The crowd was about fifty times larger than I remembered – and given that I was there in the middle of summer, that really took me by surprise. But that’s not a bad thing in and of itself. The Taj deserves every one of those visitors. It belongs to all of us, not just Indians but people around the world. A vision such as that can never be completely owned by one entity, we can at best be its guardians.

But the tragedy is that, like with all other great institutions in India, the people in charge of the Taj seemed to have no idea what to do with it.

Outside the ticket counter, the lines stretched on and on with people just milling about for the most part. Every so often some guy would walk up and mutter something about how he had a ticket to sell and maybe we should buy it because the line was sure to move at a snail’s pace and we might just be standing there for the next few hours.

There were separate lines for Indians and non-Indians (read white folks) and the non-Indians had to pay through their nose to get in. While I understand the logic of the exchange rate, I have to wonder how an Indian would react if he went to, say, Disneyworld and was told he’d have to pay roughly five times more than the Americans. There’s also the fact that a lot of the western tourists in India are of the backpacker variety rather than the affluent repeat-visitor variety (but that’s a whole another rant) and the last thing you want is for some Joe Schmo to get out his laptop and write a damning review that says, “Hey the Taj was great but I got robbed on the ticket.”

Inside the main chamber, they were charging visitors an extra amount to enter the underground crypt. Even here, sharp eyed men in dusty clothes tried to make a quick buck. The ticket taker watched the whole thing with supreme indifference.

Of course it is entirely possible that things had always been like this. That one time when I saw the downside of the Taj experience was the only time I’d ever gone there as my own person rather than my father’s daughter so perhaps I just grew up with a false impression of the whole process.

But the fact remains that for all our talk of how well we treat our guests, we still have a lot to learn about the tourism business. Forget the non Indian traveler, I don’t know what kind of challenges a trip to the Taj would present to a non-Hindi speaker. In the 21st century there are so many ways to maximize the tourist experience – is it too much to ask that we make a bit of effort and join the global effort to better appreciate our heritage while it still exists?

And yet, in the middle of all this ineptitude and avarice and fears of environmental damage, the Taj Mahal remains the Taj Mahal – serene and blinding in all her glory, the way she’s stood even when she lay mostly forgotten. A testament to man’s mastery over time and tribulation.

Vote for her here. Time runs out on 7. 7. 07.

Note: DesiGirl, appalled by the Indian government’s apathy to the Seven Wonders of the World campaign, started a “nontag” on the Taj Mahal i.e. those who’d like to blog on the subject are more than welcome to take it up. (No pressure… except you’re a rotten piece of scum if you don’t! 😛 ) Here’s what she has to say.


Posted by on June 24, 2007 in Life, News, Personal


Mard (1985)

Manmohan Desai’s Mard isn’t quite Amitabh Bachchan’s worst movie (*cough*Ajooba*cough*) but it comes pretty darn close. And yet, this is probably one of my favorite movies, mainly because of one single sequence.

Mard PosterStarring Amitabh Bachchan, Amrita Singh, Prem Chopra, Dara Singh, and Bachchan mainstay Nirupa Roy, Mard is your quintessential Gothic romance, Bolly-fied 1980s style.

There is a young(ish) man who lives under the dastardly bootheel of a tyrant, unaware that he is in fact the long-lost, betrayed heir to the miserable land in which he’s just about eking out a living as a second class citizen. Eventually he falls in love with the tyrant’s daughter and after many trials and tribulations, he frees his enslaved/tortured parents and his people, reclaims his land and lives happily ever after with his bride. The End.

Because this is a Desai movie, however, there are obviously other touches of 80s masala: a horse called Badal that can outrun a convertible, a dog called Moti that is billed as the Wonder Dog, etc. But the reason I love this movie is the complex relationship between the lead pair: Bachchan and Singh.

Bollywood doesn’t believe in contemplating its navel and the last time someone (Jessica Hines) tried to write a no-holds barred biography of Bachchan, he threatened to sue, so credible information about the cinematic process in Hindi filmdom is severely restricted and erratic. Hence I have no idea if the filmmakers knew what they were up to or whether the whole thing just grew out of the 80s trend of Reformed Bitch as Heroine – but the fact is Singh’s turn as the rich “white” chick who falls in love with the lowly brownie is at once bizarre and deeply fascinating.

She dresses in cowboy boots, frilly off-the-shoulder dresses and wields a riding whip as a fashion accessory. At one moment she’s in full Victorian get up, the next she’s in a skimpy swimsuit getting a massage on the top of the palace (don’t look at me – I didn’t write it). To top it all off, her evil Daddy dearest – the Grand Poobah of those parts – is called Dr. Harry and is supported by other “white” guys dressed in vaguely British uniforms.

The initial clash of wills (involving a whip – see clip below) leads her to have him trussed up and selected for some exquisitely painful whipping from her own lily white hands. When he refuses to scream in pain, she orders salt to be rubbed into his wounds. Oooh!

Well, next thing you know, he’s broken out of his chains and he grabs her, gets on a horse and heads for the salt mines! Don’t ask me where they came from – they’re the good part!

So… salt mines. And as they ride hell for leather, the vicious vegetation of the kingdom administers a whipping of its own to the delectably bared shoulders of the bitchy princess. At the end of a long hard ride, Bachchan flings her onto a pile of salt, then jumps on top of her and rubs her thoroughly all over with it. It’s been a while since I saw the movie, but this is approximately how it goes:

“There!” he pants, his hand running all over her as she writhes underneath him. “Did that hurt? Did that hurt?!”

“No,” she breathes, staring deep into his eyes. “I loved it!”

They exchange a Look of Great Meaning. Then his eyes fall bashfully from hers and she smiles a little smile of “Gotcha!”

Ladies and gentlemen, how can you not love Mard? Watch it. That one scene alone is thoroughly worth it.

[From Take Two Vol. 2. See more at Desicritics]


Posted by on June 22, 2007 in Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video