Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bombay Meri Jaan

Mumbai doesn't roll of my tongue easily, so I shall stick with Bombay. And it's my favourite place on Earth. Bombay is immense -- a living, breathing fluid mass of hope and misery. It belongs to no one and no one can belong to it. It moves too fast and too frequently to cast a shadow long enough for you to rest in. It embraces, engulfs and often embalms its millions in one endless cycle of existence and death. You can love it or loathe it but you can't own it.
If you stand at land's end, you can see its immensity. If you listen carefully, you can hear its anguish. When it rains, you can feel its fury. When you board the suburban train, you feel its feverish pulse. When you wake up in the morning, you can feel its pregnant hope. There is no place like Bombay, so breathe in its air but don't spit in its wind.

When you were young

Shake your hair girl with your ponytail
Takes me right back (when you were young)

Brian Ferry, Roxy Music and an ode to the passage of time.

PS: I can see a new line on my face today

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Slumdog glare

If our newspapers and television channels are to be believed Slumdog Millionaire is an Indian movie. They are falling over each other in anticipation of an Indian Oscar. If Slumdog is an Indian movie, Schindler's List is German and Good Morning Vietnam is, well, Vietnamese. How we love to bask in reflected glory.
Well, A.R.Rahman has a genuine shot at the Oscar and we should be proud of it. A.R has been world class for a long time and we didn't need an Oscar-nomination to tell us that. Resul Pookutty's nomination for sound mixing is even more commendable since technical brilliance has never been our strong point. But sir Slumdog is no Indian movie just as Ben Kingsley is no Indian for having played Gandhi.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Changeling times

"I like Clint Eastwood because he has only two expressions: One with the hat and one without it."
It's hard to argue with this gem from Sergio Leone who directed Eastwood in the cult Dollar trilogy. So when exactly did Eastwood transform from cowboy moth into director butterfly. Hard to tell but he is destined to go down as one of the greatest directors of all time.
I watched Changeling with as much awe as I did Mystic River. Eastwood runs this hefty dramatic masterpiece with absolute control and conviction. In lesser hands it could have been a melodramatic weepy mess but not with Eastwood. He lends the period drama a quiet dignity and immense style. And he completely destroys the myth that beautiful women cannot act. Make space in that closet Angelina, the Oscar cometh.

An Obama-sized shoe

I have been reliably informed that I am the only idiot in the world who missed Obama's swearing-in ceremony on television. I forgot, I really did. I have this rare ability to miss important things ... including your point of view.
Obama has quickly settled into George Bush's shoes (no, not the ones they gifted him in Iraq). He has already indicated that he is not averse to bombing terror camps inside Pakistan. I am happy to see him continue the Grand American tradition: When in doubt, bomb. Meanwhile, somewhere in Rawalpindi, they are making an Obama-sized shoe.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Every dog has his Globe

Movie Alert: Slumdog Millionaire

Can't make up my mind about this one. Heart-warming and colourful and Golden Globe Awards and everything else but I still can't make up my mind. As a practising Indian, living in India, I have seen too much squalor, too many squatters and Harshawardhan Nawathe winning KBC to be impressed easily. I didn't flinch when I saw Salaam Bombay back in the day, so I didn't expect Boyle's tribute to the reality-television-dream shock me.
Having said all those mean things, I must say Slumdog is an enjoyable movie. It's like watching a Hindi movie with English subtitles. Dev Patel is terrific as the Mumbai slumdog with a slight British accent and Anil Kapoor hams in English. Good fun? sure. Great? don't know.

PS: I don't encourage watching movies on pirated DVDs.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Box Office greens

My friend Sudhir has an interesting take on Hollywood's marketing machinery. Despite the tech sophistry, inventive film-making and adventurous producers, Hollywood still hasn't figured out how to make money out of crap movies. Sudhir points to how Ghajini has been raking in the big bucks despite being a tame rip-off. Interesting eh but then there is Quantum of Solace.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Playing his life

I sit on the pavement by his side, listening to the boy play. A little piece of bamboo with evenly spaced apertures transforms into a wizard's wand. He plays effortlessly and beautifully, notes and smile in perfect harmony. He hands me the flute with the quiet confidence of a master ... encouraging but not quite condescending. My smoker's lungs splutter and cough in protest but cannot cajole a legitimate note, much less a tune. I offer to buy a flute, if he would teach me something. Anything. The boy smiles a boy's smile ... honest and damning. As I walk away with a piece of bamboo, he continues playing his flute.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The man that time forgot

He coaxes a hearbeat
Vision, a cataract blur
His memory flickers like a truant light blub
Scraps of joy in a rubble of woe
He coaxes a heartbeat
How did it come to this
When did life pass him by
When did they stop caring
He coughs a hearbeat
The man, that time forgot

Epilogue: You can't keep a good man down? Ha. Lay him to rest.

Hell dorado

There is a traffic jam on the road to paradise today. So don't die, you may be re-routed to hell.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Life has a ringtone

I don't wear a watch because I can tell time on my mobile phone. I occasionally use it to call people as well. Was there life before mobile phones, Blackberries (plural?) and email? Yes, there was.
There was a time when you could not turn up for work and be left alone, a time when you bought Christmas cards and posted it in red mailboxes, when you arrived on time for meetings, when you visited family and friends and not made excuses via text. There was such a time when you had a life and it didn't have a stupid ringtone.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Monsieur Ibrahim

Isosceles movie alert: Monsieur Ibrahim (French).
Delightful movie this about the unlikely friendship between a sulky teenage Jewish boy and a charming Turkish emigre set in a seedy neighbourhood in 60s Paris. Omar Sharif, the old Turk, is still a raging talent and Pierre Boulanger is precocious. Watch it and sorry no refunds.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Wish upon a year

Hola 2009. It's the year of hope for most of the world and the year of the Ox in China. They are different aren't they, those Chinese. I will stick with the year of hope for now ... and so I have a small wish list. Things I don't want to see include Shah Rukh Khan and burning hotels but for the moment, let's stick to my wish list.

Rajanikant in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Tamil kungfu would clash with Pop Americana and it would be chaos in slow motion. What a prospect.
Bono singing the Kishore Kumar songbook. The world would finally discover Irish chai.
Absolut Bappi. A tribute to the original king of bling, a special gold dust edition.
Johnny Depp as James Bond. Bring back some cool. Angry middle aged men with sculpted abs and million-dollar frowns beating people senseless went out in the 90s with Jean Claude Van Damme.

Have a super 2009.