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Monthly Archives: July 2009

Bridging the North-South Divide

qgmnh

Quick Gun Murugun Bole Hadippa is a movie for Our Times. It ought to be made immediately!

“But Amrita!” you say. “Think! How could this abominable spawn of a movie based on a one-liner about a South Indian cowboy addicted to his sambar and Rani Mukherjee’s latest bout of sadistic hazing by the Chopras possibly be any good?”

Aha! But you think! Now that we live in a world wherein North Indians know that “Udipi Restaurant” is not the capital of the state of Madras Cafe and South Indians are aware that people up north have enough water to take showers, it is past time we came together as a nation and made a North-South lowe ishtory. After all, why must only Punjabis on either side of the border score all the nookie like so and so? Granted, Kamal Haasan did his romba best but that was romba years ago. It’s time for a reboot!

And Quick Gun Murugun Bole Hadippa, the exciting adventure of a swashbuckling dosa-fiend who wins the heart of a rough and tumble Punjabi cricketer by unleashing the power of sambar, would be perfect!

No longer will Southies be limp-wristed Bharatnatyam exponents lusting after scornful Northie girls – now nubile Northie girls will be doing the balle balle over the dashing technicolor cowboy of the Nilgiris. When the bad guys attack, national integration will come into its finest hour as the two take a deep breath blow them all away with the power of asafoetida. It’ll even have fashionably homoerotic undertones – and if any Mukti Morcha type person complains, then the movie can deploy the Rani-is-a-woman defense!

I foresee it becoming the new Roja – destined to be aired without fail every August 15th.

[Quick Gun Murugun & Dil Bole Hadippa]

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Posted by on July 24, 2009 in Entertainment, Fiction, Movies

 

The Nanga Panga

nude

A friend and I were going back and forth on the pros and cons of subsistence farming, comparing the POVs of the Indian farmer to the interest expressed in Western locavore circles, when I saw this article about kiddies around America running naked and freaking people out. And it fit in perfectly with a general pattern that’s struck me over the years, another one of those “everything old is new again” things, how you can put one situation in two countries and arrive at two entirely different results.

In India, of course, most toddlers seem to be clothing strictly optional although it’s not for lack of modesty or a commitment to new age body images. Like any other child on the planet, my family’s albums carry a full complement of photographs in which I’m either gloriously naked (ok, I have a diaper on) and clearly happy about it; or else I’m swaddled within an inch of my life (complete with woolly hat – in South India!) and my face is a sulky, oily, thundercloud as I sit grumpily on someone’s lap, staring up at the camera with eyes full of misery. It’s no wonder I started talking early – I probably wanted to be able to shout “Off!” everytime they came near me with those sweaters.

However, as far back as memory serves, my mother believed in clothing me from head to toe. I don’t know if this was prompted by any special feeling of modesty – knowing her, she probably just wanted to dress me up in pretty little frocks. Going shopping is a very clear, very early memory. But somewhere along the way, I remember her and my aunts telling me I needed to learn how to sit properly because I was flashing my panties all over the place.

One aunt told me the correct person to emulate when sitting down was Lady Diana, legs pressed discreetly together at all times, never crossed. “Sounds ridiuclous,” Young Amrita said, in blissful ignorance of Older Amrita’s meek submission to the rule. Another one would physically pull my legs down if I propped them up, the way I loved to do. All of them told me morning, noon and night that nice girls acted more ladylike and ladylike = no flashing panties. I ought to have grown up into Britney Spears just to show them all.

Of course, I never learned a social lesson easily when I could do it the hard way, so one fine day Ma came home with… wait for it! Bloomers! “For active little girls” apparently. I have no idea where the devil she got her hands on one, much less the half dozen she bought. Since my idea of “dressing” at the time was to stick my paw out the bathroom door and wait for Ma to put clothes in it, I even wore those things. But she didn’t give up on the lady training.

In retrospect, I think she was overcompensating for my lack of sisters. When she was my age and learning decorum, she had her elder sisters to look up to. In fact, there are times when I think my grandmother’s basic MO in raising her daughters was to raise the first two very strictly and then tell them to raise the rest of them in a similar manner. And having failed to provide me with proper feminine role models, she decided to take over the position herself… with a vengeance.

I’ve always thought her dedication to the affair was fairly wasted on me because by the time a girl enters middle school, there is a vast amount of peer pressure to act “like a grownup” which frequently means acting like a peculiarly Victorian ho. You know what I mean – on the one hand there is the need to be all girly and chaste and wouldn’t know the meaning of all those dirty things if you said them vs. the need to try out your budding sexuality. Girls who flashed their panties in seventh grade didn’t have a lot of friends, I can guarantee you that. The ones who were wearing bras, on the other hand, were very popular.

But where do we get those impulses in the first place? It has to be from our mothers/ mother figures. If we didn’t have a healthy fear of the female authority figures in our lives and what their opinion of our behavior would be, would tween girls be as teeth-jarringly, piously moralistic as they can be?

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2009 in Life, Personal

 

When Loverboys Attack!

Sigh. Watching Imraan Khan, the BabyFace Khan of ’08, trying to make his little action career happen even as debutante Shruti Haasan gives him a run for his money is making me nostalgic. For the good ol’ days when the long succession of BabyFace Khans knew the correct way to combine their milk chocolate goodness with their burning desire to kick the living daylights out of this zaalim world. After all, once age caught up with them and put a few lines on those chubby-wubby cheeks, they could always switch to kicking ass full time.

Remember these?

1. Back when Salman Khan could keep his clothes on, he knew what to do! He threw confused yet submissive pigeons at mean old daddies, hopped on and off farm machinery, and glared menacingly when swinging on a jhoola! Angrily! Till he fell down! It takes serious movie star talent to act like a three year old having a tantrum and sell it as passion. Kudos!

2. Aamir Khan did one better. He made out with Madhuri Dixit (dressed in full ’80s regalia!) in unisex jails, pried apart steel bars with the power of love, referenced myths and legends in verse, and managed to be so adorable while doing it all that he even got the police on his side. And as any young lover in India will tell you – that never happens… unless there’s a little money involved. Armed with just one song, he defeated the Establishment in all its forms – beat that, Enemies of Love!

3. For cold style points, however, no one can improve on Feroz Khan. When FK gets angry, he IGNORES HELEN! (Blasphemy! Off with his head!) He swigs the booze, he doesn’t care about the gambling, he hallucinates Mumtaaz, he breaks out in the booze sweats… and oh, yeah! he IGNORES HELEN! This, people, is clearly a man who is capable of anything!

4. Brother Sanjay, on the other hand, could never quite do the Angry Cadbury very well because… well, I don’t know. Maybe brimstone was in short supply at the Khan household. Who knows? But given the chance, he did his best by looking as angry as he could and walking off – which can’t have been too difficult, confronted as he was by a wooden-faced Babita clone drenched in bad lighting.

5. It is a generally accepted truth that Saif Ali Khan‘s reign as a BabyFace Khan was not his finest hour. In fact, he often had to shuffle off the angst part of his angst-ridden songs to his co-stars (like so). However, he is one of the few BFK’s that received the Pankaj Udhas Sulk treatment. I feel he fits in perfectly with others who’ve taken full advantage of the PUS, which allows an actor to look slightly overwrought (perhaps while knocking back glasses full of an unknown amber liquid) as the song does all the acting required.

6. As each BFK grew up, there was always another to take his place and carry the standard high. The man who screwed it all up, I feel, is Shahrukh Khan. Not only did he lack the main ingredient (baby face!) but he spent his BFK years relentlessly pursuing other men’s wives (in his debut movie, he makes off with Rishi Kapoor’s wife; in his breakout role, he tries his best to make off with Sunny Deol’s wife; and then, to top it all off, he even tried to make off with Deepak Tijori’s wife! The ignominy!) instead of nice, sweet, girls who were waiting, chastity belts firmly in place, for him to come wake them with love’s sweet song. They probably dodged a bullet, given the above, Ajooba suit and all, is what passed for a declaration of love in his BFK years.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2009 in Entertainment, Movies, Video

 

“You! Stop!”

This was going to be an entirely different post until I came across the absolutely awesome video above. I saw Jurmaana (starring Rakhee, Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Mehra) a long time ago, but for some reason (senility?) I don’t remember the very beginning of it. And that’s entirely my loss. Because that is clearly the best part.

“You! Stop!” you say; but I say, “It’s! True!”

It starts, the way so many of these began in the 70s, with some guy in blackface and perm banging away at a drum that looks suspiciously like a jazzed-up mridangam. After energetically bouncing around to an aerobics routine set to what sounds like the beginning of Mehbooba Mehbooba (I guess R.D. Burman really liked that tune) for a minute or so, he and his powder-blue suit come to a halt so he can strike a pose and say: “Hey everybody! Come on! Let’s play a musical game! Will you?”

This gets some woman in Standard Issue Floozy Wear so excited she actually has to say, “You! Stop!”

Cut to: man in a suit, freezing on command.

It’s Amitabh Bachchan! In a silver half-mask! The only one, by the way, wearing one in this bar (?) where the musical game suddenly morphs into a beauty pageant. Although, it just might be a very creepy round of Pimp Out the Bar Maid the way they play it. You can’t really tell, what with the Ring-A-Ring-O’-Roses and the spotlights. Anyway, it all ends with one lucky girl being handed a cardboard tiara with what looks like a pizza cutter glued on top. It’s so amazing that AB has to peel off his mask to better appreciate it.

“You! Stop!”

No! I loves it!

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2009 in Movies, Video

 

Where’s the Indian Baby?

baby

Apart from DangerMuff’s inexplicable fondness for Agar Tum Na Hote, a movie from the Later Kaka Makes Caca period, the review makes a very good point: what’s up with the Caucasian babies?

Ashok is really quite a sweet, normal man (so normal, in fact, that he does what every other Indian man does when his wife goes into labour: he sticks a big picture of an ugly Caucasian baby on the wall.  Seriously, this is an ongoing thing in Bollywood, I’m not making it up).

As a person born in India, and especially as one who experienced her entire boyband-music collecting, cute-poster-gifting, friendship-band-exchanging, discreet-hand-holding, Archies-card-giving, romantic teen years there – I can clear up one thing at least: there are no Indian baby posters.

Well, maybe they have them now. Since I have no hysterically joyful babydaddy to send hopping through the poster aisle to check and I’m long past the age when I’d voluntarily take a walk through the Hallmark poster section, I can’t comment on the current state of affairs. But at least ten to fifteen years ago, there were no Indian babies to be found.

The reason I suspect was threefold:

A) Indians are superstitious about their babies. If a baby is cute enough to merit a mass produced poster, then it stands to reason a lot of evil type people will either covet it for themselves or be eaten up with jealousy that their babies are so obviously inferior to The Poster Baby. Hence they will put the evil eye on The Poster Baby which will then lead The Poster Baby to die or, even worse, grow up into Non Pretty Adult. Where Pretty = Fair. (Duh!) This is why the few Indian babies that make it out to the public eye are decorated with kohl somewhere on their face.

B) The companies that sell these posters tend to be those based in Western countries, like Hallmark. They barely put out any African American or Hispanic baby posters even though there are significant numbers of both in the United States, so why on earth would they want to look into Indian babies for India? Especially when Indians like Caucasian babies because:

C) White babies are whiter. And if you look at a white baby then maybe your baby will come out fairer. Thinking positive! It saves on the fairness creams later on.

Of course, after consulting with Google, I wonder if the real reason might be:

D) Indian babies are scary! Search for images of “Indian baby” and they all seem to have four eyes, ten limbs, play with snakes, fall into wells, are dying of preventable diseases, and so on.

And yet, I could swear I’ve seen Indian babies that aren’t like that at all. Time for an Indian Anne Geddes?

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2009 in Life

 

Meera: WTH?

In my usual labyrinthine fashion, I started thinking about Gulzar’s movies last week and it ended up as a bout of Youtubing with unexpected results. On the one hand I finally sat through Lekin in full for the first time and really liked it. On the other hand, Hema Malini’s rather youthful Didi led me to her performance as the title character in Meera.

I never sat through Meera from start to finish either (when it comes to Gulzar’s movies, I find, I’m either riveted or else easily distracted. There never seems to be a happy medium – which is not a necessarily bad thing now that I think about it). Which must be why I don’t remember the music at all.

And now I wish I’d left it like that.

I’m sorry, I understand that Pandit Ravishankar obviously knows what he’s doing, Vani Jairam is a wonderful artist, and I’ve always loved Meera’s bhajans. But that accent…

I just can’t get past it. Plus (and this is rather unfair to Vani Jairam) I keep looking at Hema’s face and expect Lata Mangeshkar’s voice to emerge. Alternatively, I listen to the voice and expect Tamil.

I have a new appreciation today for M’s beef with Sadhna Sargam in Konjum Mainakkale.

 
23 Comments

Posted by on July 15, 2009 in Entertainment, Movies, Music, Video

 

Interviews Are Not For Everyone

You know, I try. I really try. Every so often I’ll read an interview that makes me think: What the hell is wrong with this moron? And then I’ll try really hard to give them the benefit of the doubt – maybe there’s some nuance I’m missing, they’re nervous, the magazine edited it wrong, I should pay more attention to the context…

It’s often an uphill task but I can usually find extenuating circumstances. But sometimes, a moron is simply being a douche. No help for it. Like Tusshar Kapoor’s interview in the July 8, 2009 issue of Filmfare, for example. (Psst! Does anyone know of a link? I fear posterity will never believe this phantasmagoria of a celebrity interview without hard proof.)

I know! I know! It’s my own fault! I brought it down on my own head. In my defense I was bored and I thought I was about to read a fluff piece on a dorky person. Who knew I was being granted an audience with a Master Douchebag? Not me.

The interview starts out innocuously enough with the usual “Who knew I, a star son whose sister is a famous producer, would end up in the movies? This is such a surprise to me!” stuff before it suddenly takes a turn for the bizarre when Kapoor admits he was rather “touched” by Ralph Fiennes’ role in The Reader. Coz this then gives the interviewer an in to say:

Speaking of being touched, what’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done in bed?

What? I swear to God.

This, of course, puts Kapoor at something of a disadvantage because he knows and we know that no matter how he spins it, the Indian version of a 16 year old chikna with a sexy illiterate auntie evokes shades of Savita Bhabhi rather than Kate Winslet (or, even worse, Shiney Ahuja rather than Fiennes). Although:

I don’t know about naughty but I can be very rough in bed. Some people like it rough. Maybe I’m not as caring as I come across in day-to-day life. I like forcing the other party into something that they don’t want to do or may not have done before. Let’s just say, just as I’m not shy in front of the camera, I’m not shy in bed either.

Yup.

This then segues into a short discussion about how he’s a boy-next-door who’s willing to strip off as long as it’s “not sensationalized” and how he’s willing to jump all over the casting couch for the right role – as long as it’s the right gender. Because, as he so penetratingly observes, with vaginas involved it’s just another way to score chicks:

Well if it’s a guy I wouldn’t. That’s too much of a compromise. If it’s a girl then you’re not just doing it for work. It’s like ek teer se do nishane (killing two birds with one stone).

At this, the interviewer asks him about playing a policeman. Don’t ask me why. I’m probably missing some sort of sexual subtext in the question and I’m too busy being grateful to examine it too deeply. So, obviously, the next question is this:

How profound…Have you ever dressed in drag?

At this point, I don’t know who I’d like to disembowel first – the interviewer or the interviewee. But fear not! Kapoor clears that up for me, right quick:

No, never. I hated the experience of dressing up like a woman in Golmaal Returns. Especially wearing those fake titties and then getting into the tight outfit. Then there was the chinky white make-up and eye tape. Hats off to the heroines who do this day in and day out. I’m really glad I’m a guy; I wouldn’t want to be a girl for even a day.

However, he goes on to say, his sister, who is an unlucky girl type person albeit of the non “chinky white make-up and eye tape” kind, and he are very well brought up and never throw things at people when they lose their temper although he’s “aggressive” and “she knows how to call a spade a spade” although she very kindly apologizes for that later on because she’s lovely like that.

This is spade.

This is spade.With the one on the left, you dig your grave. With the one on the right you play your cards. You're welcome.

Then there’s some stuff about how solo-leads are so yesterday as Rock On! has apparently proven before the interviewer comes back to his favorite subject.

If you were born again and you had a chance to be either gay or bisexual, which one would you choose?

Will nobody take this clueless child out to the garden and explain that this interview is an elaborate exercise in examining how he is such a huge Maybe Gaybe without the Maybe? Apparently not because the Jean-Paul Sartre of our generation says:

I don’t know how it is to be either. I think it’s most comfortable to be heterosexual. I can’t choose. I have a lot of gay friends; I know homosexuality is not a mental disorder; it’s a way of being. There’s just such a hue and cry about it, a gay person has to adjust in society. To avoid that hassle it’s better to be heterosexual. It’s harder for gay people. I’ll get some flak from them if this is misrepresented.

Ye gads! So simple, you stupids!

It’s like the self-edit button is jammed or something, isn’t it? Not that he need worry because the interviewer assures him:

Have no fear; we’re not into misquoting people at Filmfare. Though some other journos have speculated about your sexuality…

Curse you, Some Other Journos! Boo! Hiss! We don’t care for Some Other Journos! And to prove it, they then talk about how the media are assholes and Kapoor is above it all because he believes in himself. He loves himself so much, in fact, that he doesn’t really want to play any superheroes even, but if you twisted his arm then he’d play Batman because he likes the “comeback, underdog story”.

[Dear Batman fans: do not ask me what this means. I gave up on this shit about two questions in. XOXO!]

After he’s explained that he’s an actor who doesn’t aspire to play anyone else, he shares the fact that he is psychic has advanced intuition just like his friend Sunita Menon who is a grown woman who makes her living reading tarot cards. We are given undeniable proof of his abilities when he mysteriously divines that the interviewer is a townie with a few Parsi friends – and guess what?

The man totally is a townie and he’s half-Parsi to boot!

OMG!!! FREAKY!!!

In conclusion, he wishes all those illiterate people would stop having so many childruns who don’t go to school and thus have more childruns and so on until we’re all people and no country. Furthermore:

Q. Is fun positive?

TK. Cool. I trust you.

The End.

 
22 Comments

Posted by on July 13, 2009 in Celebrity