Posted in Travel

Notes from the Road – NCR – Week 1

  • February may be the best time to visit the Delhi area as it turned out in my case. Awesome temperature so far..
  • Pollution – There is a perpetual fog in the mornings which I have never seen in any city before. Feel bad for the unprotected residents of the area! Also read recently New Delhi indeed tops the charts in India as far as pollution goes..
  • Gurgaon has grown beyond my imagination. What used to be a small industrial town in my memory some 15 years ago now clearly is the metro hub of NCR..Have been enjoying my minimal restaurant outings so far..
  • One of the best Rajasthani meals I have ever had – At Rajdhani..For 200 odd bucks, you are treated like a ‘mehmaan’ from the moment you enter the door..The ‘meetha pan’ was the only disappointed, if I may add..
  • Week 1 will no doubt be remembered for Tendulkar’s 200 among other things. What a knock and what a shame that I just couldn’t find a minute to watch it live..Have been bombarded with highlights of his knock ever since in many TV channels..
  • Posted in Movies - General

    My name is…

    The funniest scene in the movie to me was that of a Gujarati motel owner shown wearing a T-Shirt with a caption “My name is Jitesh and I am not a Terrorist”.

    And the second funniest scene was that of the same Motel owner trying to give out a room at a $25 premium to a white couple, because Khan stayed in that room.

    And the third funniest scene was that of Khan saving the the town of Wilhelmina by traveling from LA to a hurricane imploded community by bus, whose residents couldn’t save themselves on their own (because they didn’t know where to catch the bus perhaps??) and instead found asylum in a church whose roof starts falling down exactly 2 minutes after Khan enters it, so that the required amount of KJo secret ingredient aka drama, could be liberally added.

    Now, I don’t think the moviemakers intended these scenes to be part of their humor content for their film (for which they had to heavily rely on Shah Rukh’s acting skills) and hence they, make my observation all the more noteworthy.

    The Gumpish reference to Khan’s good deeds in spite of the society’s bad deeds to him was obvious, but definitely not “in-your-face” types. Same can be told about Khan’s dancing sequences which brought oodles of memories of Kamal Hassan’s “Suvvi Suvvi” dance steps from “Swathi Muthyamu”. Of course, that was K. Vishwanath who dealt with a kind of Autism in a very native way and this is KJo who can only think of story lines that are beyond an average Indian middle class background. Even though the flashbacks of a Borivali (?) brought up Khan tried to portray his modest upbringing, to me, those sequences didn’t work and almost seemed like an afterthought.

    Mama Jane and Funny Hair Joel?? Other than the setting (like using a Georgian black community with 200 odd people and 700 odd cows, hurricane, Iraq wars martyrdom, etc.), this plot of the movie seemed totally not needed.

    But who am I to judge a movie? After all, making a movie is not that easy, especially when it involves Shah Rukh and Kajol. Yet, at the cost of sounding brood, let me state with utmost respect to the KJo brand of movies prior to MNIK, that KJo had tried to cross this divide that existed between his comfort zone and his wannabe comfort zone through MNIK.

    As his dad, I would say “Well done my boy! You have done me proud”.

    As his adulatory fan, I would say, “ that you? You totally rocked”…

    But I am neither. So I think I would just say, he failed to cross that divide. But managed not to fall down into the canyon by hanging onto a rope that is neither here nor there.

    My take on what KJo achieved through MNIK

    • He proved his critics wrong – He can make movies that don’t involve glamsham, razzle dazzle and absolute tear jerking melodrama every 20 minutes
    • He pulled off a movie where the songs played good supporting role and didn’t spin the movie out of control
    • He could make Shah Rukh act the way Ashutosh did in Swades – Underplay (Asperger’s syndrome gives the required platform, as people with this condition typically project an unemotional appearance). Many scenes that I can say, provided the lever for Shah Rukh, to come out of his own shadows. And of course, having a story line that largely rests on his shoulders, Khan does everything he could from playing a Dustin Hoffman to Tom Hanks to Kamal Hassan – all in his own style..
    • He could make Kajol do a powerful comeback by giving her an award winning scene – No I am not talking about the scene when Mandira asks Khan “Marry me?” the most unromantically romantic way..and not even the scene when she tells Khan that “Sam is dead” with absolute stillness..but I am talking about the scene when she finally cries out loud..
    • He could make a movie about terrorism by not taking sides on the sensitive religious issues

    My take on what KJo failed to achieve through MNIK

    • He couldn’t cross over to the other side with all honesty..I don’t even think he made compromises. Don’t definitely think he had to, once he set out to make a movie of this kind. I think all the twists and turns, Mama Janes and Joels, Hurricanes and Hackers, Presidential Elections and PBC correspondents are all part of the standard KJo formula, which were quite cleverly added – clever only because of the settings & backdrops, in order to satisfy the real moviemaker in him
    • Biting more than what he could chew…and choking in the process. Why deal with so many plots when he couldn’t logically conclude all of them in the fashion he wanted to..? If it had been one of those KJo movies where you expect only tears, laughs, colors, songs, colors, dances, colors, tears and colors, then these questions wouldn’t come to one’s mind. For example consider the following: There is the whole Asperger’s syndrome plot – which tries to explain the protagonist’s difficulties to lead a normal life, The Brother envy plot, the Hindu guy marrying a muslim girl plot, The whole terror plot, American neighbor plot, Black community plot, Khan doing good deeds plot, Racial crime plot, Khan wanting to meet the president plot, The romance plot, The investigative journalism plot, The Love vs Hatred plot, The …,,&*^^ plot.. get the picture? The only plot that I thought he was able to round up in a smooth way was the racial crime plot…He pretty much choked up on the rest

    MNIK – The movie

    Notwithstanding all the above highlighted negative views of the movie, I have to say that the movie was a decent fare and worth the dollar I spent. Given that this was a deviation for KJo from his regular track, I have to say, he was at least courageous enough to make a movie based on some dark issues that loom in our current times, which we have to deal with on a day to day basis.

    KJo will never be able to cross to the other side of “classy”cinema or even to “raw” cinema (Vishal Bhardwaj’s school), so unless he has a subject like this to deal with, he should go back to his comfort zone. The movie works for all of the positive views expressed above plus Shah Rukh, Kajol and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. SEL’s background score was brilliant.

    If you are in Mumbai or Maharashtra, at least to make a statement against Sena, you should buy a ticket (and not watch it if you choose not to). And I don’t have any regrets watching my first KJo movie in theaters.

    To draw inspiration from Khan’s Ammi’s famous quote from the movie, KJo now has proved he can make two kinds of films –

    1) Tearjerkers with tons of Melodrama which will make people laugh, cry, dance and envy at the lavish/foreign lifestyle of the lead characters, but will never make them remember what the main story line is..


    2) Tearjerkers with some melodrama which will make people cry, laugh and envy at the foreign lifestyle of the lead characters and also make them remember what the story line is..

    My name is Ganpy and I don’t review movies for living…

    Posted in My Music

    Turncoat Thillana

    May be I am on a musical overdrive. But what the heck!

    After some exchanges on Mohana Kalyani with one of my cousins recently, my interest to do another classical raga interpretation got reignited. (I had done a Bhoopalam based piece earlier).

    With no real idea except the basic goal of understanding & experimenting with the raga, I started fooling around in my studio. Initially some ‘Jathis’ were added. But later I thought unless I am able to do a whole hearted attempt on Jathis, of which I am no expert on, it is better to pull that out.

    So, what I got after 4 hours was a piece which is heavily based on my interpretation of Mohana Kalyani in a Thillana style improvised by me. Calling it “Turncoat Thillana” for the slightly naughty liberty that I took.″
    Posted in Movies - General

    The Last Emperor in Goa

    Ayirathil Oruvan

    A sincere attempt gone tipsy due to over indulgence on certain incidents that otherwise pose no relevance to the grand scheme of this project.  This is how I would summarize AO. For the first time, I was interested in checking out a Selvaraghavan movie in theaters. And it is largely due to the canvas he had taken on. Lots of credit to the director for his balls to try to do something this large. It is definitely a must watch on screens for the attempt and effort. The nerve of the historians and other ‘tamil culture police’ is always amusing and they always need some movie to go after. Right now it is Selva’s turn to earn their crazy wrath. It is a movie for heaven’s sake!! What do you expect? Why the double standards when they watch a Vijay or Vijaykanth movie and a movie like this? Pretty gutsy canvas and Pretty ballsy effort. Need more directors to start imagining tamil movies on this kind of a canvas – not necessarily grand & expensive, but out-of-the-box.


    Full marks to Venkat Prabhu for his self-confidence in pulling off a 2:45 movie based on 3 unknown faces who give a scoot for anything that the Tamil movie cliches would call for. Absolutely a hilarious holiday with the only sore point being too many songs. Got carried away by the family involvement and included more songs than what a light hearted comedy would need. The songs on their own are not bad..And finally, bringing out a gay storyline in a ‘mainstreamish’ funny way is again a reflection of his confidence. Premji & Jai were brilliant. Overall, a throughly enjoyable holiday and that is the best part — No pretensions whatsoever in Venkat Prabhu’s movies!

    Posted in AR Rahman, Music - General

    It comes in twos..

    Don’t remember when was the last time I really cared for the Grammy awards. Like most awards, this also has become more of shine & sheen of late. But the 52nd awards were a little different. I had to tune in. With SdM and ARR, it seems like the awards always come in twos. So, we now have a double Grammy winner!

    Congrats AR!