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Rob(b)in My Heart

Rob(b)in My Heart

In The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Errol Flynn runs around a forest in green tights with his BFF who looks like he’d like nothing better than a cuddle from his comrade in arms, and falls for a girl dressed in medieval Europe’s version of the hijab. Directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, it is an enduring classic. And watching it again for the purposes of my self-declared Flynn Week made me remember why.

If you speak English, you know the story. In fact, it’s been made and remade so often, for television and film, that I was pretty sure I had Robin-fatigue. Part of the reason for this feeling, quite apart from the individual merits of the films or television shows made after the 1938 version, I realized, is because when you’re remaking an old classic, the burden is on you to find “something new” to justify the remake.

Better sets and better costumes that introduced moody lighting and did away with the famous tights. New interpretations of old characters that gave them a bit more to do than be candles to Robin’s star. Realistic styles of warfare involving a great deal of blood and screaming. A hook that announces to the audience that this is not the same old stuff that you saw in your childhood.

By that same token, however, the charm of The Adventures of Robin Hood is that it is precisely that movie you saw in your childhood… and loved very much. The sets seem made out of play dough; the costumes are hilarious; the fighting is choreographed like a slightly less graceful ballet; the story is a wafer thin concoction of action scenes culled from lore; and any true unpleasantness like blood and death are presented in a way calculated to preserve the innocence and sensibilities of the infants of an era past wherein incredible amounts of mindless, desensitizing violence wasn’t the cultural norm. And yet, it is a benchmark because, quite simply, it is fun.

I’ve lost count of how often I saw this movie as a child, or even as an adult because I never missed it if it was on TV, but it has been a few years now and this is the first time I’m writing about it. That brings the realization that my idea of what it means to be A Hero has been indelibly shaped by Flynn’s portrayal of Robin Hood.

“He’s brave and he’s reckless,” gushes Maid Marian (the very lovely Olivia de Havilland) to her nurse (the very funny Una O’Connor). “And yet, he’s gentle and kind, not brutal…”

Flynn’s Robin is indeed all these things and more besides. In fact, my deeply held belief that true heroes are wonderful men who must be a phenomenal pain to know in person stems from his portrayal of Robin in this movie. Childish me thought him exceedingly romantic – grown up, stodgy me doesn’t grudge poor Marian a lifetime of following in the wake of the fires he’s bound to start because he thought the night called for some warmth and by building the biggest bonfire he could, he’d have some fun and something pretty to look at besides. But the magic of Flynn’s Robin is that despite knowing all this, you still either want him or want to be him.

His hot-headed nobility would be insufferable if it weren’t for his humor and obvious intelligence. Of course, it helps that Flynn is also the personification of male beauty at his very prime, with a truly excellent pair of legs he puts to good use during intensely acrobatic fights that require him to run, jump, and swing around like a monkey. And then there is that cocky little grin doing a lot more damage than any of the arrows he lets loose in the movie.

Helping him along is his chemistry with co-star de Havilland. Unlike the majority of versions, in The Adventures of Robin Hood, Maid Marian is not the childhood sweetheart of Robin of Locksley. She is instead a snooty Norman ward of the King of England, very much a partisan in the on-going ethnic strife between Saxons and Normans, and doesn’t care all that much for Robin at first sight, pretty face or not.

You can’t really blame her: Robin has a taste for mouthing off to royalty in the guise of the villainous Prince John (Claude Rains), appears at parties with the carcasses of forbidden game that he dumps on the main table, a habit of jumping up on tables where food is being served, his friends are a ragtag bunch of extremely common commoners, and his main occupation is running around shooting or robbing her friends, especially her would-be beau Guy of Gisborne (Basil Rathbone). Hardly endearing behavior.

Once she adopts his cause, however, Marian is anything but a wilting flower. She gently nudges him back to the path of duty when he starts dreaming of a countryside idyll with her by his side, and plots his escape when he inevitably gets into trouble through his reckless actions. She is also the one who puts her life in danger to send him word of King Richard the Lion-Heart (Ian Hunter), who has returned to England after escaping his captors.

And in the midst of all the things that are going on – kings to be restored to thrones, villains to be defeated, fair maidens to be rescued, a kingdom to be freed from the greed of a racist tyrant – The Adventures of Robin Hood even takes a moment to comment on current affairs circa 1938. The Merry Men of Sherwood Forest, you’ll be happy to know, were decidedly non-interventionist. Oh, irony.

The Adventures of Robin Hood is one of those rare movies that delivers exactly what it says in the title: Adventure with a capital A. If you somehow passed your childhood without access to its magic, you need to rectify it today!

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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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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I Hate Luv Storys: A Listicle

<i>I Hate Luv Storys</i>: A Listicle

Punit Malhotra’s directorial debut, the Karan Johar-produced I Hate Luv Storys is an inoffensive little romcom about the inevitability of the love bug. As my attention was unfortunately caught by quite another bug in the theater (see: previous post), I thought I wouldn’t review it.  I didn’t have much to say anyway:

Jai (Imran Khan) is too cool for his name and the romantic Bollywood fare he helps produce, so he calls himself Jay and displays horrible work ethics. Apparently, the job for which he ran away from home isn’t worth putting in his 100% unless it also satisfies his intellectual snob quotient. Expect producers to beat his door down with offers in 3…2…1…

Simran (Sonam Kapoor) is that annoying girly girl whose bedroom is dedicated to her neighborhood Archies Gallery and she’s super into romantic Bollywood fare, which is convenient because she’s the art director for a collection of cliches movie called Pyar Pyar Pyar. (This is supposed to be a satire and it is – the laziest one in the history of them, basically a string of outrageously romantic scenes from various movies cobbled together verbatim so we can laugh on cue i.e. when Jay rolls his eyes.) She’s also Jay’s boss and his instant crush.

If you don’t know where this movie is going by now, you should get your noodle checked coz it’s turned into soup. It’s a frothy little number that rests on the chemistry between the lead pair who’re perfectly charming together even if their tendency is to fizzle rather than sizzle.

Whatever. It’s… pleasant? I dunno. I have a cold. Don’t bother me.

SPOILERS (?) FOLLOW

But here’re a few notes I made about people and their motivations that might be of use to you, young lovers, as you go about your modern dating ways.  It’s too late for Jay and Simran but it might still save you from years of passive aggressive dating. It is presented in the form of The Holy Listicle, the only way to understand anything in these modern times.

1. When someone is nice to you, it does not automatically follow that they are in love with you. It could be that they’re just being nice. But how can you tell? Some helpful clues:

  • He tells you he doesn’t believe in love
  • He makes horrified faces when you ask him if he’s changed his mind about that little detail
  • He is dating other women
  • He gives you romantic advice
  • You are his boss
  • You have previously shot him down when he tried to flirt and then fucked him over in front of his employer so he got the message loud and clear
  • You already have a fiance and he knows that

2. Your boyfriend is not a mind reader. If you want something different or he’s doing something wrong – Tell. Him. Yes, you too can use language for something besides gossip and tall tales. I believe you have the power!

3. Do not date co-workers. It is a path to misery.

4. If you want “magic”, I hear David Copperfield is single.

5. Judge a man by the way he treats his mom. A fucking man-child who won’t pick up the phone when his perfectly nice mother calls to check whether he’s alive is not pinging my radar as a good candidate for a successful relationship.

6. Judge a woman by her previous actions. Did she proposition you while keeping Ol’ Second Fiddle on standby? Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater! ABORT MISSION.

7. Step One of settling down with a man stupid enough to have one night stands in this day and age: ask for a medical check up. Romantic? No. Smart? Hell, yeah!

8. The correct response to a girl who tells you that she’s been pretending all along to be the person you like is not to then promise her that you’re sure you’ll love the real her. Because the real her is crazy and the reason she’s been pretending in the first place is because she knows you won’t like the real her. Put on your track shoes, brother, because the time has come to run for your life.

9. Take a happy ending where you get it. Simran didn’t and look what happened: we had to sit through another hour of pointless plotting.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2010 in Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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The Kind of Parenthood I Like

The Kind of <i>Parenthood</i> I Like

I’m easy. Tell me a show has Lauren Graham and Peter Krause in it, and I’ll at least give it a try. Even if it does sound like Brother & Sisters : Berkeley. I mean, Brothers & Sisters is a show that needs to die already, it should not be setting up a franchise, even through coincidence. Early buzz likening it to Modern Family a.k.a. Brothers & Sisters: Los Angeles, Ha Ha. wasn’t really doing it any favors where I was concerned either.

Turns out Parenthood, despite its meh-tastic title and been-there-done-that premise, is a lot better to watch than it sounds on paper. This is one of those shows where you shouldn’t read the spoilers or the episode descriptions because it will remind you of terrible moments in your family and drastically reduce your motivation to watch. (Go ahead and read my review though coz I already wrote it and you’re here so you might as well.)

Based on the movie directed by the series’ co-producer Ron Howard, Parenthood follows Team Braverman: three generations of a sprawling, squabbling, but ultimately devoted California family.

Yeah, you never heard that one before. I know.

The ensemble cast features everyone from old hands like Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia as the grandparents with a 46-year marriage in crisis to Dax Shepherd who is a pleasant surprise as the man child Crosby-the-third-sibling who has responsibility suddenly thrust upon him in the guise of the adorable love child he never knew existed (Tyree Brown). Everyone gets their moment in the sun but the characters who really take center stage, though, are the other three Braverman siblings.

Peter Krause (Sports Night, Six Feet Under, the only good part of Dirty Sexy Money – a show that, alas, was none of those things) plays the eldest Braverman. His father calls him a hero, the family’s “fixer-upper”; younger brother Crosby calls him Dudley Do Right; I call him yummy. But really, when in trouble, everyone calls Adam.

The series begins with Adam and his wife Kristina (Monica Potter) realizing that their son Max (Max Burkholder – previously sighted in another part of California as Rob Lowe’s son on the Brothers & Sisters set) has Asperger’s – a diagnosis that leaves their teenage daughter Haddie (Sarah Ramos) unsurprised. In spite of being “perfect”, her whole life has been hostage to Max’s difficult behavior.

While Adam is trying to deal with his son’s illness and trying not to ignore Haddie just because she’s the easier kid, his sister Sarah (Lauren Graham), broke and looking for a fresh start, moves back into their parents’ home with her two kids. Sarah is a more beat-up version of Graham’s beloved Lorelai Gilmore, without the scary smart kid whose big problem is choosing Yale over Harvard and deciding which cute, obscenely rich preppie to date. Alright, alright – blasphemy. I’ll say no more.

[Digression: I should note here that while the combination of Krause and Graham was what initially drew me to this series, I also found their pairing distracting. Their scenes crackle with chemistry and not of the brother-sister kind. I keep waiting for them to make out and they never do! Fanfic seems to be my only option now. That video with Maura Tierney is such an intriguing possibility.]

With a couple of attention-starved, messed-up kids (Mae Whitman and Miles Heizer), a deadbeat ex and just a high school diploma, Sarah is the Sliding Doors version of Lorelai, being constantly reminded of all her wrong choices.

One of her biggest reminders is the youngest Braverman – Julia (Erika Christensen) the ambitious corporate lawyer who is bringing up a teensy cherub (Savannah Paige Rae) with her stay at home husband Joel (Sam Jaeger) who just happens to be the pin up fantasy of all the local moms.

Just as Adam and Kristina have to deal with the complexities of raising an autistic child while simultaneously acting as the anchor of the family or fragile Sarah has to deal with being a single parent to two needy children who aren’t absolutely sure she wants them given her tendency to dissolve into tears and moan what a terrible mess she’s made of her life, Julia and Joel have to deal with the stress brought on by gender role reversal. As committed and on-point as they are with their choices, they’re constantly battling the perceptions of outsiders and what it means to be “mom”, “dad”, “man”, “woman”, etc. Especially when their daughter makes her preference for the primary care giver, i.e. Joel, clear.

Parenthood can be relentlessly on message – life is hard! especially for people with kids! – but it can also be warm and familiar when everyone comes together. Written by Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights – and it’s eerie when you see that signature hand held, slice of Americana, grit in your eye, style creep into these California scenes), this is a show about people bringing up their kids but also vice versa. It’s about how you never stop being your parents’ kid but there comes a point when you look across at that familiar face and realize that that is not just “Mom” or “Dad” but a real, live human being.

It’s about your siblings driving you crazy but you can’t handle it when someone else agrees with you. It’s about keeping secrets when you know it won’t do any good and sooner or later everyone’s going to know – in the strictest confidence, of course. It’s about jostling for attention and how it never stops. It’s about the people you call when you’re in trouble even if two seconds ago you were sure you would hate them till the day you died.

It’s about family. And it’s good.

None of you listened to me about Friday Night Lights so why don’t you check out this somewhat-happier, somewhat sunnier version?

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2010 in Entertainment, Review, Television, Video

 

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Potty Training for the Win!

Being Indian, I obviously lack the social subtleties and sense of humor required to fully appreciate Tunku Varadarajan’s examination of the Indian spelling bee champ phenomenon.

As human being, however, I am transfixed by this casual observation:

There are certain cultures–particularly Asian ones–that produce child prodigies. Relentless parents, goading their children to success at the youngest possible age, are but one explanation. These are all cultures in which, traditionally, children have begun work early, in which childhood as we know it in the West is an alien idea. Indian kids are potty-trained by two. In America, that would be regarded as precocious. Pressure is brought to bear much later on purely American children than on those kids whose parents persist in old-world child-rearing ways long after they immigrate to America.

Um, whut?

What kind of pooping monsters are y’all raising, white people? No wonder the Injuns are hunting down your wimminz with such ease.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2010 in Entertainment, Life, News, Newsmakers, Video

 

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Saying No

Saying No

Is it really that terrible not to want kids?

The earliest I remember someone saying as much to me was when my then BFF told me her cousin, who was the same age as us (maybe 11 at the time?), didn’t want kids because she wasn’t looking forward to experiencing labor.

“Have you ever heard anything more selfish?” she seethed with the intense outrage of someone yet to get her period. “What a shallow reason not to want kids. Because she doesn’t want the pain!”

I maintained a discreet silence. I hadn’t really considered the issue before but my friend seemed to have such a strong opinion on the matter, I felt I might have been derelict in my duties as a ponderous 11-year-old not to have given serious thought to the idea of procreation before this unhappy day. Worse, as I listened to her rail, I began to feel the stirrings of sympathy for the cousin – a long stretch of intense medical upheaval lay just a couple of years behind me and as I remembered all those hours of getting needles stuck in me and blood sucked out of me… I thought maybe she had a point.

I had started menstruating very early, a side effect of those medical issues I’d experienced, and once a month I found myself in bed, curled up in the fetal position around a hot water bottle, dosed on strong painkillers, as my uterus prepared itself for a baby that wasn’t going to come for a very long time, if ever. Childbirth was not endearing itself to me.

The next time somebody mentioned getting pregnant, I was 14 and it was my mother and she was expressing just how unhappy she’d be if I ended up “in a situation”. Halfway through this latest experiment in good parenting, even she realized the absurdity of telling a child under constant surveillance and a 6 p.m. curfew (more importantly, braces and thick spectacles) to practice abstinence. It’s not like I had a choice, much less the opportunity.

So not only did getting pregnant promise to end unhappily for the most sensitive part of your body, but there were conditions attached to it actually being a “happy event”. Timing was everything. Post-wedding ring, everything was roses. Put it pre-wedding ring and it might well end up on the evening news: Grisly Murder of Skank Teen, details at nine!

Then there was the old lady I met on the street who was rabidly pro-life and wanted to know how I’d feel if I found out my mother had planned to abort me. Answer: I’d be fine with it because it’s not like she wanted to abort me after I was born and she had a chance to know me. Now that would have hurt my feelings. Not to mention, the man who didn’t want kids but was only ever attracted to women who wanted kids because he felt it expressed something positive about their personality.

I don’t want kids,” I said.

“You think you don’t want kids,” he told me. “When you meet the right person, you’ll feel differently.”

The certainty in his voice ought to have bugged me but in a way, I couldn’t fault him. I’m single and when I think about having a child, the potential father figure is very much a shadow person. I hope he’ll be a good human being, of course, but the only reality in this fantasy scenario is myself. And I, personally, feel no compulsion whatsover to procreate.

I see women say all the time, “I want a child”. I do not. I don’t want to leave a little me behind in this world, I don’t want to clone myself, I don’t want to experience “the unconditional love” of a child (which, and here’s my turn to be judgmental, has to be the most selfish reason I’ve ever heard to bring another human being into this world, second only to “When my baby cries, I hear my rich baby daddy go ka-ching! ka-ching! ka-ching!“), I don’t want to leave a little mark on the genetic map of the world to announce I was here for a quick minute.

The only reason – I think – I would want a child is if I met someone so utterly fabulous and so very dear to me, that I might want our child. Perhaps that is what these women mean when they say “I want a child”. I don’t know. All I know is that it doesn’t sound like that a lot of times. And that’s fine. The best part about being a woman and wanting a child, especially in this day and age, in many parts of the world, is that this is a very real option for you. You can have a child.

I think it’s much harder to say you don’t want a child. It invites roughly the same reaction as confessing to some sort of deviance.

“You like to wear diapers when you have sex?”
“You garden in the buff?”
“You voted for Sarah Palin?”
“You think 9/11 was an inside job?”
“You don’t think Obama is a Manchurian Candidate?”
“You don’t want kids?”

The judgment is immediate and universal: what is wrong with you as a person that makes you dislike kids? First of all, I don’t see what’s wrong with not liking kids. Some people feel uncomfortable around them or are just not interested. It’s like there are cat people and dog people. But sometimes it’s not a matter of dislike. I love to cuddle babies and I like kids, especially when they’re not screaming, throwing up, sassing me or asking me to do things like play with them (basically, what I really like are very short adults). I’m very fond of quite a few, some of whom I’ve only ever seen growing up on the internet, and honestly enjoy their antics. That does not mean I want any of them. You’ll never find me on the news as a child-hungry supermarket kidnapper.

Of course, I’m Indian and single. Nobody asks me any of these questions because… well, I’m Indian and single. All the aunties are too obsessed with my approaching spinsterhood to much wonder about my thoughts on childbirth. So all I have to do, is not get married until I find someone I want to have kids with.

Done! :mrgreen:

[Image via]

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2010 in Desipundit, Life, Personal, Video

 

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Mum’s the Word

Mum’s the Word

For the Mother’s Day that falls this Khanna-o-Rama, I talked to a filmi Maa or ten on what it’s like to mother a Bollywood hero:

Waheeda Rehman (Chandini)
I hate it when people don’t appreciate my son! He’s good-looking, rich, sensitive, we have a beautiful home and he’s so ready to commit! And now some brat he met while traveling is about to run off with his fiancé. I told him to knock that tubbola’s teeth out, but in addition to all his other qualities, he’s also honorable and he says his fiancé prefers that hypothermic drunk. He can’t even walk down stairs without stumbling! I hope she enjoys knitting him endless sweaters for the rest of her life.

Nirupa Roy (Deewar)
I wish I had problems like hers. I’m a single mom from Mumbai and my two sons just can’t get along. The elder one constantly yells at the younger one who never looks him in the face and instead just stares over his shoulder. I try not to be preferential, but it’s hard when my firstborn buys me a house and a washing machine, while the second brings me his laundry and his insecurity.

Read more tales of motherly woe here.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Life, Movies

 

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