Monday, January 26, 2009

Movie Review: Ghajini

Lot has been said about this movie. Here is an excellent statistical analysis of the same.
It has many graphs, but this one caught my attention.

I had the pleasure of seeing this movie during my bus-ride from Pune to Mumbai in the Volvo Bus. After that experience, i have extended the graph as below.

If you have seen the movie and liked it, do others a favor; dye your hair blonde call yourself britney!

In the presence of Greatness

Pandit Birju Maharaj (72) and Ustad Zakir Hussain (57) are two living legends who performed together 12 years ago. Since then, there have been a lot of people who have unsuccessfully tried to get them together.

Deepak Vaze of Anant Vaze Sangeet Vidyalaya was successful in getting them together.
One of my relatives, was one of the main donors of this program and also part of the organizing committee.We were lucky enough to watch these legends together from close quarters . To top that ,we also got a chance to meet Pandit Birju Maharaj personally.

Pt Birju Maharaj (2nd from Left)

He loves kids

Pt Birju Maharaj (centre), Shasavati (near his feet) . She has been training under him for 40 years.

Ustad Zakir Hussain starts the show.

Pandit Birju Maharaj makes his appearance.


Madhuri Dixit, who has trained under Pt. Birji Maharaj graced the occasion

Sashavati performs as the multi-talented Pt Bhirju Maharaj performs on the tabla

and now on the Harmonium giving vocals to one of his own compositions. Truly a genius.

We were all mesmirized by the jugalbandi and spellbound by the performance. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Why Did BigB Slam Slumdog Millionaire ?

The much hyped Golden Globe winning Slumdog Millionaire was slammed by none other than Bollywood's most iconic personality Big B.(who claims never to have worked in movies showing reality because  again, he claims knows the crowds want fantasy not the reality) for showing Mumbai's seamier side.

Here are the actual reasons why he has slammed the movie :

1. Big B was the original host of Kaun Banega Crorepati (Desi version of Who wants to be millionaire?). Anil Kapoor who plays a similar host for a similar game show in the movie not only does a good job of emulating Big B but also does a better job of mocking the contestant. He almost matches the panache of Big B, but eventually breaks into a Lakhan-style tapori dance. Big B was mortified by the dance and felt he would danced better. He felt the role should have come to him as he would given a natural feel.

2. Big B, although an icon amongst generations in India has never been offered  any role beyond a beggar in any Hollywood movie. Even an unknown actor like Gaurav Chopra has done a cameo role in the Oscar Nominated movie Blood Diamond. Given the fact the movie does have a duplicate playing the role of Big B himself. Big B felt that atleast if not KBC host, he should have surely been offered this role where a kid covered full in shit runs into a crowd to touch the great bollywood legend and take his autograph.

3. Slumdog shows the plight of poverty and poverty in the slums of Mumbai. Big B has no problem with that really! The scene that has really ticked him off is the one where a car parked in a slum of Agra ( in Uttar Pradesh, his home state, where he used to own land by claiming to be a farmer) is robbed of its essentials like tyres, head lights amongst other things and driver calls the kid a robber, essentially calling all "such" people a robber.
Firstly as per Big B, there is no slum in UP and certainly given the fact it is the most progressive state, there are surely no robbers. "UP men hai dam, jurm hai kam" remember the ad?

Lately, Big B has reportedly said that he had been misquoted by the media again. My guess is that the only purpose of his blog is to say something which is borderline controversial. Knowing the Indian media, the borderline controversy would become real news(read controversy) and then Big B's next blog will say he was "misquoted" which will be another headline . Shit Happens!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Book Reviews: Tigers, Lexus and more

The White Tiger: Arvind Adiga's first novel which landed him with the Booker Prize. Now i am not judge of the whether he deserves it or not nor am i judge of the novel's literary quotient. One thing for sure, its a hell of a novel. The novel portray's the dark side of India shining. It shows how people trapped in this "darkness" or "chicken coop" remain there forever; accept fate as it is. But this novel is more than that, its a story of those few "White Tigers" , who dream of the "light"; who want to move out of this "chicken coop" and eventually do breakout of it. That what makes this an interesting read. The unlikely rise of a entrepreneur, from being a normal taxi-driver in Delhi to owning an fleet of cars and running a taxi agency in Bangalore.
The style of writing is lucid and the pace is fast. The author describes the grim darkness very neatly, potraying the truth.
A lot of people have been turned off by this novel or say that its showing India in bad light; the reason they say so is because they haven't seen the "darkness" or witnessed someone fight out of this "darkness".
I won't go into the details of the story etc. Find out about it yourself.

The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Thoman Friedman's second book; a prequel to the world famous "The World is Flat" set in the pre-9/11 era. I picked up this book couple of times earlier, got bored; found it irrelevant and never went beyond a couple of chapters.
I picked this book again with an aim to finish it. The book suddenly turned out to be quite interesting, and very relevant in today's economic turmoil (Nope, doesn't give any insight into Raju's Books though) . This book tells us about how the foundation stones of current crisis were laid. Not only that it even predicts such a downturn as a possibility. If you want to know about Globalization; its roots; how it all began, then this is surely a good read. The stories and incidents that the author narrates are very interesting and fun to read. It talks about the pros, and cons of Globalization. Mostly pros though. Why some countries/people are against it or are even angry because of it. How most people in developing countries misunderstand "Globalization" for "Americanization" How companies/countries are adapting to it and so on. Sometimes though the book gets repetitive and boring; though overall the style of writing and his interactions with people world over make it worth a read.
Why the name, one might ask? The Lexus, Toyota's luxury brand denotes one end of the world where Globalization has been accepted while the Olive Tree represents the other extreme where people are fighting for gaining control over others' olive trees and protecting their own; where globalization treated as new word for US imperialism.

Q and A: Vikas Swarup, an Indian Diplomat's first novel. The story of an ordinary waiter who wins a million dollars on a KBC type quiz show. The producers think its a fraud. How can a waiter know the answers to tough General Knowledge questions. He says he just knows those answers. Not by luck, not by guessing. He just knew those answers. How did he know this answers, well thats what the book about. His life story; his experiences and his encounter with various type of people from which he came to know the answers to the GK questions. The book has similar undertones as the White Tiger about Dark India. What makes the book different is that ; although the certain description of people and places are life like, overall its pure fiction with twists and turns and a stunning ending. Yes, fit to be made into an movie.
The movie is already made. This book inspired the multi-award winning "Slumdog Millionaire" movie. The book again is fast paced and the style of writing easy. The author has focused on the characters and their emotions and less on the surrounding and the situation, making it a quick read.
Incase you are looking for some action on a lazy Sunday afternoon; chuck the TV and pick up this thriller.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another pic from the trek

This is another great pic . Thats a Superman T-shirt inside.

Caption: Superman who needs to have a bath, needs to be shown directions to the treadmill and also some training from Frankflin Air hostess training institute.

Courtesy: Image: Pallavi, Caption: Chirag,Hemanth

Monday, January 12, 2009

National Himalayan Winter Trekking Expedition (Reaching Dalhousie)

We were part of the "National Himalayan Winter Trekking Expedition" starting at Dalhousie organized by Youth Hostel Association. Name sounds fancy? Well only the name does.
More on that later though.

There is a great saying, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Duh! Isn't it obvious?
But my first step was actually in the reverse direction i.e cancelling the trek as Leena fell sick. Hence she had to drop off the trek. Our original plan was to do the trek and bring in the new year in Himachal itself. But instead, i cut my trip short and decided to return after the trek while Leena took rest at her mother's place at Nasik.

I met the Gang (i.e Varun, Arun, Amit and Uttaran) at the New Delhi Railway Station.

Yeah, all of them are smiling(seems more like they are doped). Uttaran seems fit for the Center Shock Commercial. He is losing hair but claims to be in denial. He trying all sorts of Hair styles; wants to do a "Bucket List" of his hair before them falling. What does the hair think?
"I just want to fall off before freaking people out!"

Anyways, now we had a whole day to kill in Delhi. The train to Pathankot was in the night. So First Stop, was Karim's in Old Delhi near Jama Masjid. We took a tonga ride. tonga - horse driven cart for the uninitiated.

Oh wait! What about the after-effects of a 36+ hrs train journey from Bangalore to Delhi ?

Uttaran, the self proclaimed foodie and also the person who claims to have lived in Delhi for 4+ years gave the orders.
The food looks tasty and obviously unhealthy.

All satiated after the meal

Now, after the meal "normal" people would do some sight-seeing in Delhi. We headed to Connaught Place. Stood outside a cinema hall comtemplating whether to watch the [cough]horror[cough] movie, "Rab Ne Baani Di Jodi". I wished "Rab" would "rub" some wisdom into us. And guess what? Next Stop, TGIF !! Yayee, an overpriced pub. Now thats something you don't find in Bangalore.

Uttaran with his rusty knowledge then directed us to another pub which supposedly played decent rock music. The rock music playing club was now a sports bar with all TVs all over the place showing anything but the current "Test Match between Ind and Eng" and playing Disco songs with the singer going "OOww!" every now and then.
The rates were high, the happy hours freebies were quite sad. Hence after half-an-hour of free water and AC, we coolly walked out.

Next stop Barista!! Obviously. If you want have the best coffee its Delhi dude, not Bangalore!
After Ozzy and Arun showed off their out of tune guitar skills, Uttaran his writing-random-numbers-in-empty-boxes appearing-to-solve-sudoko skills and Varun his just-sit-and-stare-in-the-sky skills, we finally headed to Old Delhi Station.
Once the train started chugging along, I got to know Varun's entrepreneurial ventures during his college days which still funds his overexpensive wardrobe. We discussed everything under the sun including office gossip, emacs v/s vim and so on.
We reached foggy Pathankot next day morning. If you want to know, Pathankot is a dusty and dirty litttle town (just like any other town i guess) with a strong military presence.

We had breakfast (lovely parathas) and headed down to the bus stop.

Yeah, i know we look like two shady guys trying to sell dope to school kids. Alright, i don't but Varun surely does. and yes we seemed on a high.

After 4 hrs of travel, we reached Dalhousie. Dalhousie is a town with a old-world charm slowly giving way to tourism and everything that comes with it (tourists, garbage etc). Our base camp was just a 5 min walk from the bus stand. It had a building with beds to sleep, hot water to have bath, mobile charging points and also had free wifi access. Sadly we all work for a company where no one can afford a mobile with wifi capabilites.

Wait a sec! Building? Beds? Hot water? I thought this was a trek! and also wheres the snow?? I was roaming around in a half sleeves T-shirt . Was it winter, really?

Yeah, Coming back to the title "National Himalayan Winter Trekking Expedition" . Himalayan snow! Winter no way. Trek? Wait and watch, things are going to get worse.

We got ourselves registered, dumped the luggage, cleaned up (in all sense) and headed down market place for some shopping. Rest of the gang, sans Anna reached the camp at night. We had our first encounter with a mountain goat a.k.a God father.

and then next day, we had another encounter with another [cough] mountain goat [cough] whose toothbrush had been used to clean everything except his teeth.

Take A closer look at the brush.

We had a early morning exercise where the leader caught Uttaran faking his exercise (You can fake that too) and called him a 60-year old man and also an insult to Bangalore in pure Kannada.
Then we headed to
Panch Pula(Bhagat Singh's Uncle's memorial...yayee) for our acclimatization walk.
The great Anna, joined us for the acclimatization walk and complained. " Its not cold, lame trek, comparisons to Sar Pass and so on". I got to hear this till i found a cure, more on that later though.

We mostly walked on the road. What kind of acclimatization walk was this? I later realized, it was actually to get acclimatized to walk on the road with heavy shoes, heavy jacket and heavy bag because this is what we did exactly on the first day of the actual trek.

Yeah so no trek, just a hike for the first day atleast.

You can have a look at the Trek Pics
Stay tuned for part 2 .

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Three pics from the trek!

Here are 3 pics that at best describe my antics during the trek. A blog is surely in order. But for now..

Collecting Garbage.

Collecting Money.

Don't ask what i am doing to Hemanth.

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