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Monthly Archives: July 2010

Future Overlord

Fantasy is not fiction. It’s life in India.

After Phase I in which loads of clever kids went to the original IITs and grew up to become New India’s success stories, came Phase II in which loads of parents programmed their kids at special indoctrination camps tuition classes to become the New Indian’s successful employees. And now we’re entering Phase III where parents are building customized children to train the ever increasing vast blob of Phase II applicants.

Rejoice, parents of substandard children! Manipulating a fetus is no longer something restricted to villains in science fiction novels and Hitler. My favoritest tabloid in everty ever brings joyful tidings:

Prof Tulsi Narayan Prasad, an advocate at the Supreme Court and a serious practitioner of astro-genetics, had to fight the world around him when he proposed that the sex of a to-be-born child could be manipulated.
[…]
“It’s a science called eugenics,” Tulsi Prasad said, explaining the way his genius child was conceived. “By employing it, we can ensure that the child achieves the desired traits. As I knew what we wanted, we followed the prescription for a genius mind…I and my wife had to plan everything in the process of having the child, right from our diet to our mood to the sex itself.”

Oooo-kay. A little reminiscent of the sex scene from Rosemary’s Baby, perhaps, but genius and deals with the Devil both demand a certain amount of sacrifice.

It’s all worth it in the end:

Hailed as a child prodigy, he finished high school when he was just nine, B.Sc by the time he was 10 and M.Sc before he turned 12. “It wasn’t surprising at all as my parents had told me that I was programmed before birth to be genius. I knew I was different when I discovered that I was more fascinated by physics while the others my age were into sports and games,” he said.
[…]
“But now I have learnt the art of pretending to be ‘normal’,” he added. “I finished reading A Brief History of Time (by Stephen Hawking) when I was six. I loved it even though I didn’t understand everything there,” he said, giving glimpses of what it was like to grow up as a programmed child.

I hope all those people freaked out by Indians’ Hitler obsession are reading this. :mrgreen: Astro-Eugenics is the way real Aryans do it, baby.

PS: Hey buddy, when the revolution comes, just remember it was all fun and games! Seriously. Please don’t eat me or preserve me in a slime pod or whatever it is that advanced specimens do. Thanks!

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Posted by on July 29, 2010 in Life, News

 

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Lost MacLean: Night Watch

JOKES!

You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Pierce Brosnan loudly simulate sex in a horrendous pair of white boxer briefs while his offended colleague rides him bronco style.

Welcome to Night Watch! Or Detonator II: Night Watch. Your glimpse of what might have been Brosnan’s career if he hadn’t finally landed the British super spy gig and become The Billion Dollar Bond. It is properly horrifying.

I was really excited to watch this movie for some reason. I love Brosnan and I love Alistair MacLean – how bad could it get when they got together? And to be honest, even though Night Watch has a distinctly made-for-TV feel to it, it’s only as bad as your average Lifetime movie, which is to say it’s watchable.

But from the first moment, as a fiercely mustachioed Brosnan runs towards the camera in tight fitting pants that keep getting tighter and skinnier as the movie progresses and long-ish hair that always manages to look greasy, something is very off. Let’s face it: despite his stellar work in movies like Evelyn, The Matador or The Ghost Writer, Brosnan’s USP is his looks and his ability to wear the shit out of a tuxedo. Both of which are wanting here. In fact, by the time the movie ended I was having fond memories of his dye job from The Noble House. I don’t know who Brosnan pissed off, especially in the costume department. Or did people really dress that way in the early 90s? Thank God I was just a kid.

Anyway, the plot takes us to Amsterdam where Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” has been stolen and a forgery put in its place. Mike Graham (Brosnan) is some kind of special ops agent on the brink of burnout after losing his partner during an extraction. Sabrina Carver (Alexandra Paul) is waiting for Baywatch to make her famous as the honorary non-bimbo brunette. They have, ahem, a history. Ooooooooh.

But what is supposed to be a low-stress case of art theft investigation, a little R&R for poor psychologically fragile Mike, suddenly turns violent and confusing with the introduction of a Hong Kong-based mastermind, busy inventing the means of world domination. World domination and art theft, I guess. There are also some ominous North Koreans thrown in for good measure because, you know, North Korea – boo! are you scared yet?

If you get your rocks off watching Brosnan dressed up as a cross between an American Civil War veteran and a stereotypical errand boy for the Italian mob (and let me tell you, it takes considerable talent to take the refined Mr. Remington Steele to that pass) or you like the kind of movie where the hero slides down a steep wall, dragging his fingernails all the while, only to show up with perfectly manicured nails at the end – find a copy of this movie stat!

Meanwhile, I will pray that I never have to watch Detonator I. Or will I? :mrgreen:

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review

 

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Lost MacLean: Golden Rendezvous

Golden Rendezvous was the first Alistair MacLean novel I actually wanted to read. I’d spent a year flipping idly through the pages of The Guns of Navarone on the recommendation of a friend and had never been able to really get into it with all the other stuff lying around my room waiting to be read. But one rainy day during the summer vacation when I couldn’t think of a single other thing to do, I noticed a copy of this book lying around my grandma’s house and picked it up.

I loved it. It’s not the best of MacLean’s novels, but it’s crisp and stacked full of his trademark touches: ironic wit, manly heroes carrying the weight of the world on their broad shoulders, beautiful blondes with rich daddies and an attitude problem, villainously villainful villains who need to be taught a lesson, and lots of action. As an introduction to his work, it has a little bit of everything that MacLean has to offer and you honestly couldn’t do better.

For years, I’d heard that there was a movie version of Golden Rendezvous and I wanted to watch it. I’d seen the famous three: Where Eagles Dare, Guns of Navarone, and Ice Station Zebra, and I wanted to see all the other versions too. I should have realized that the reason those three are so famous is because they’re the only good ones.

Oh well. It’s not like I’m getting particular in my old age. So this week is all about The Lost MacLeans. Little known movies based on the novels of Alistair MacLean. Perhaps you all wished to know what I thought of Khatta Meetha (it’s crap and shame on you for even asking!), Salt (very fun – kick some more ass, girl!), or Inception (instant obsession), but this is what I’ve got instead.

***

1977’s Golden Rendezvous promises “The action of The Guns of Navarone. The suspense of Ice Station Zebra. The drama of Where Eagles Dare.”

In that spirit, we start at the cruise ship where all the action takes place: an odd-looking man with long, 70s-style, thinning blond hair is directing sailors and being busy. I’m immediately confused because in the book, these are the actions of Johnny, our hero – a solid block of handsome manliness who I’m pretty sure had all his hair.

Suddenly, a taxi comes flying across the docks and screeches to a halt so a pretty, 70s-style, young woman built like a gazelle (that is to say, kind of elongated everywhere – there is a disconcerting shot of her in profile later on, where her neck looks disturbingly like that of a turkey’s except she doesn’t have flaps of skin hanging off it) can leap out.

Johnny Unlikely (Richard Harris) calls her Mrs. Beresford (Ann Turkel). In the book, she’s most definitely a Miss and traveling with her sweetheart, millionaire parents.

I decide to stop using the book as a reference point.

So… a bunch of things happen: An old man is gambling on board the ship and winning heavily by using some complicated system he’s invented that is apparently foolproof and legal. A crew members shows up late for duty. Mrs. Beresford is very cozy with some guy called Conway whom she “loves very much” but also spends her evenings flirting with some Latin type called Tony while Conway drinks in his cabin. A cancer patient and some coffins are transferred on board right before the ship leaves. A waiter delivers meals. A woman with big peroxided hair evidently doesn’t want to be on the ship but is there anyway while her husband is kidnapped from some top-secret facility by men with accents. A terrible waiter steals a drink and goes outside to sneak a cigarette, and is promptly paid for his sins by getting his head bashed in. Johnny Unlikely sees his body getting dumped and is only saved from the same fate thanks to his colleagues.

If you’ve never read the book, then I have no idea what you will make of it all except Very Bad Things take place and Johnny fakes a leg injury after the ship is hijacked so he can wander around in the rain inflicting, we later find out, absolutely no damage whatsoever other than killing the Big Meanie’s son in a severely anti-climactic fight as well as a couple of other random baddies in assorted skirmishes. In fact, his greatest battle takes place with Mother Nature as he struggles against rain and sea to snoop on people and look thoughtful.

Somewhere along the way Harris pulls out his inner magic (jokes!) and manages to convince you he’s Johnny rather than Johnny Unlikely. And he mainly does it by randomly planting a big wet one on the attractive Mrs. Harris Beresford – although even that bit of charm doesn’t get her to give up her unnecessarily secret subplot.

Directed by Ashley Lazarus, who appears to be someone with a knack for assembling a talented cast so he can direct them into oblivion, Golden Rendezvous chooses to zig where the novel zagged and falls right into the ravine of mistakes in the middle.

The novel wasn’t merely about “Nuclear Terror”, the title chosen for Rendezvous‘s TV debut. In fact, it was about a lot of things but nuclear terror was absolutely not it. Golden Rendezvous was a fantastic conjob as well as an action-packed thriller in which superman John Carter doesn’t merely get bloody revenge for the shipmates the crooks killed, he outsmarts them out of their money and then blows them up to kingdom come – coz if that’s the way they wanted to play it, he was more than game.

The movie John Carter smashes through a few things to a potentially great Jeff Wayne soundtrack that was apparently just slapped on, bumbles the one big switcheroo and stumbles upon the way out by pure luck. Phooey.

The best part of the movie was undoubtedly the luckless Preston (Keith Baxter) whose is introduced – in one of the three scenes he is allowed to speak – by the back of his head. I forgot to mention the camera work on this movie is insane and not in a good way. Things don’t get much better for the poor fellow.

He gets shot in the stomach, is medicated with a glass of brandy, then is knocked out and locked up in isolation at the infirmary because Johnny is suspicious of him, and subsequently spends the rest of the movie saving Johnny’s and everyone else’s ass without so much as a word – all liberally interspersed with scenes in which he is randomly tossing and turning in bed or crawling about the deck on his wounded tummy. It’s like something out of Monty Python.

Too bad the rest of the movie doesn’t match up.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2010 in Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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Minus the Stripper Heels…

Okay, now she’s just fucking with us.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment

 

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Scandal by Song

Scandal by Song

There are few things I find as enjoyable as subversion. It speaks to the adolescent in me when I stumble across a thing posing as innocent and sweet as a daisy on a sunny morning only to discover it a clever ploy of hundreds of deadly carnivorous insects bent upon devouring the simple-minded bird or small animal who lands nearby to check it out.

Um. You get my drift. Translate as needed to less serial-killer terms.

In my house, a lullaby was something Talat Mehmood sang when my parents had turned out the lights and left me tucked up in bed. Alternatively, it could be Mohammad Rafi or or Hemant Kumar or Geeta Dutt and for a period of two months it was a collection of duets sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle. After a few weeks, my parents refused to let me hear it last thing at night because the songs were all pretty zippy and weren’t doing a very good job of lulling me to sleep much as I enjoyed them.

Anyway, at some point I realized Talat Mehmood wasn’t just singing, he was singing words. Word I understood. Call me dim but until then I could sing all these songs entirely by phonetics without understanding a word of it. I was that annoying toddler who’d run around the house singing some totally inappropriate song at the top of her voice, beaming with equal parts puzzlement and satisfaction at all the laughing attention my “talent” was getting me.

It took me years – this was back in the pre-Google era, if you can remember that far back, when we didn’t have awesome people like Atul just a click away – to put the different sounds of a song from Teen Deviyan together and end up with: “Aha maano kaha, ab tum ho jawan” which was a significant deviation from the way I first heard it as an admonishment to some Hawaiian woman called Ahamanokaha. My incomprehension-fueled, imaginary Dev Anand had a far more exotic career, obviously.

Anyway, when I was a little older, I realized that some of these songs my parents were blithely blasting around the house, lent themselves to certain interpretations that would have horrified my poor parents. So I wisely held my peace and have been sniggering about them ever since.

What? It comes from a place of deep love. I don’t want to ruin their favorite songs for them, after all. Besides, it never made sense that the finest poets of the Independence and post-Independence era like Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Kaifi Azmi and others (stalwarts of the Progressive Writers’ Movement for the love of God!) would be entirely content churning out sentimental verses without sneaking in a few sly references for those who were paying attention.

Of course, some of them were vocally and most emphatically not happy with film work and pursued parallel writing careers, and wrote some blazing lines of poetry for film when given the opportunity as seen by the examples of Pyaasa or Phir Subah Hogi, which Sahir set on fire with his writing.

But I’m referring to the love songs. They were far prettier and a ton more meaningful than the songs that would follow, but let’s face it – there’s a limit to the number of times you can dwell lovingly on the line of some girl’s eyebrow without wanting to play a little with the form.

You see it all the time in movies made under repressive regimes. Everything so sweet and proper or full of the right sentiment on the surface, until you deconstruct it and all of a sudden it means something else entirely.

Hindi film isn’t and wasn’t as dire as that but when you’re making movies for a nation of a certain conservatism, there are bound to be things you keep in check. Sexuality being at the top of the list. Casting the more explicit desires in the character of religious hymns was a neat trick that allowed you discuss things like the “fire in my body” without anyone batting an eyelid. Or you could go the other way and have the visuals say something at the other end of the emotional spectrum from the lyrics which say “I can’t bear this sweet sweet fire”.

The tricky vickys! Love it. Here’re just a few of my favorites:

Aaj Sajan Mohe Ang Laga Lo (Pyaasa)

(click here for better quality video with subtitles)

Let’s start with one of my absolute favorites, written by Sahir Ludhianvi with music by S.D. Burman and sung by Geeta Dutt.

A woman sings a hymn in the street about Radha’s helpless desire for Krishna. As Radha plaintively begs her lover to take her in his arms and “slake my thirst”, Gulabo, a beautiful but despised courtesan desperately in love with the poet Vijay, listens to it and her face fills with yearning. Against her will, her steps lead her to the rooftop where Vijay standing idly smoking a cigarette, oblivious both to her and the drama of the moment, his back set against her and her love.

I love everything about this song so much. Without the principals saying so much as a single word, the scene perfectly portrays Vijay’s self-absorption, his emotional poverty that he covers up with his take-no-prisoners-self-righteousness. Gulabo, however, well-accustomed to earthly passions and the dregs of humanity, is overwhelmed when a hymn speaks directly to her emotional state. It is a depth of feeling and suffering that Vijay will only begin to understand at the very end of the movie.

Jaadugar Saiyan Chhodo Mori Baiyyan (Nagin)

Written by Rajinder Krishan, with music by Hemant Kumar and sung by Lata Mangeshkar, this charming little song has a lot going on.

If I remember correctly, Nagin is about a girl from a tribe that worships snakes who falls for a young man from a tribe of snake charmers. (I could be wrong, it’s been a long while since I saw this movie.) Suggestive, wouldn’t you say?

And here, in this song, we have a very sinuous Vyjyanthimala pleading with her snake charmer boyfriend to please let her go. Every time she tries to step away from him, however, a flute joins the score and she immediately begins to dance instead.

“Sexy” is not a word that Pradeep Kumar’s most devoted fan would apply to him and Vyjyanthimala is far too studied an actor for that kind of spontaneity (remember this?), so it’s little surprise that the two leads play it without an iota of sexual tension for all the leaping and running about they do in the flora. Not that they need it with Lata Mangeshkar soulfully singing her heart out on lines like:

Jhuki-jhuki ankhiyaan dekhengi sari sakhiyaan
Dengi tana tere naam ka

All my friends will see my lowered eyes
And tease me with you name

Hm. Is that so, missy? And what exactly will you be doing to make you so shy, eh? Vyjyanthimala unleashes her usual chirpy expressions on these lines, but Lata invests them with a great deal more excitement and coyness. The actors might invite you to imagine the two of them plan on playing hop-scotch through the night, but Lata clearly has different ideas about what these two crazy kids might get up to.

Hawww!

Chhoo Lene Do Nazuk Honthon Ko (Kajal)

Written by Sahir Ludhianvi (I love him dearly, can you tell?) with music by Ravi and sung by Mohammad Rafi, here is a song that isn’t afraid to say what it means.

There were, of course, a few songs that didn’t mind coming out of the closet, as it were. Usually so the audience could shake their heads in disapproval even as they were titillated by it.

This one cracks me up every time I see it. Mainly because of Meena Kumari’s expression as he offers her a drink – the way she reacts to it, he might as well have given her a cup of poison. I don’t know if her real life alcoholism was public knowledge when she made this movie, but if it was, there is an added level of irony to the whole affair.

As for Raaj Kumar, I don’t know what he was aiming for with this performance, but if “drunken lech” was it then he did a stellar job – although Meena Kumari can wipe that look off her face; if anyone is going to get molested, it’s that poor glass. The only reason he wants her saree is so he can polish it before nomming on it.

Mohe Panghat Pe Nandlal Chhed Gayo Re (Mughal-e-Azam)

Written by Shakeel Badayuni with music by Naushad and sung by Lata Mangeshkar, this is arguably the best Ras Leela song ever shot for Hindi film.

Krishna and Radha are obviously the easiest metaphors to use for a great passion that could be as chaste and pure as the most conservative member of the audience would like or as intense and earthy as the more adventurous members would have.

But when Madhubala bites her lip and gives a naughty little smile as she sings about Krishna wringing her arm and how mad she’s at him for doing it, it’s clear that the beaming royal parents are getting a significantly different vibe from the song than their son with his sultry eyes fixed on the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen.

By the time she crosses her arms and sings about her wet clothes, Dilip Kumar looks like he needs restraints to keep him in his seat. :mrgreen: And his parents have no clue!

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2010 in Entertainment, Movies, Music, Video

 

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Is This a Joke?

You know that scene from – what was it? Bones, I think? In which some guy too shy to put up his actual pic on the dating site he invented decides instead to photoshop the profile pics of several different men to create a brand new super datable person?

I feel like that’s what happened here. You’re looking at an experiment in Kapoor making! I can only hope he’s been programmed for etiquette, not destruction.

His name is Aditya Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor is his dad, they call him Mickey at home, he does the salsa, built Appu Ghar, has a guru called Bhole Baba, directed a movie called Sambar Salsa starring Rishi Kapoor and now he’s acting in a Bollywood movie.

I’m so not making this up!

And yet! Come on! Right? Admittedly, I’m not up to speed on my Kapoor family tree (look, I have an insanely extended family of my own if I were interested in that kind of thing) but this seems… so out of the blue.

I thought my fever was over, but now I have second thoughts.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, News

 

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The Summer of My Ailment

Oh, boo! Sick days.

See you in a few when my head’s stopped spinning and my dinner stays in my tummy.

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2010 in Personal, Video

 

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