Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year BBQ

Chicken, duck, emu, kada, lamb, chonak, bangda, pomfret, prawns, calamari, crabs and for the veggies, paneer and mushrooms... On the charcoal grill...

All are invited :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Anna Question

Just 200-300 people have reportedly turned up at the fast at the MMRDA ground on Day 2 of Anna's fast, compared to the 100,000 expected by Team Anna. In contrast, Delhi had seen 40000-50000 supporters each day...
What happened?

People got tired of the "campaign" by Team Anna? Thought it looked more like a circus..?

Lost faith in Team Anna?

Too busy at work? Mumbai versus Delhi issue?

Want to give the Parliament a chance?

Whatever the reasons, I think it's sad that Team Anna and the country lost a great chance to press the advantage when they had the upper hand... a classic example of not knowing when enough was enough.

The Lokpal Debate

Politics may be dirty, but it's definitely intriguing! See what's happening on the Lokpal Bill... the way the politicians are playing Anna, the way the politicians are playing this amazing battle of wits...

The government, which enjoys a simple majority in the Lok Sabha, got the Lokpal Bill passed, but couldn't get it Constitutional Status, which requires 2/3rd majority. This gives the government (read Congress) a way to say, hey, we did all we could, it's the BJP which spoilt the party by refusing to give it support...

Tomorrow, the bill goes to the Rajya Sabha, where it gets really interesting! And really puts the BJP in a spot... if they reject the bill, it's clear that the BJP was against the bill and "not serious" about fighting corruption. On the other hand, if they support the government and pass the bill...

On the other hand, the BJP is talking about rejecting the bill because it's not strong enough. Other parties are fighting for various amendments... from quotas in the Lokpal to whether the CBI should be in or out, whether the PM should be in or out...

And meanwhile, Anna is fighting a lonely battle at the MMRDA ground in Mumbai... sidelined, and ignored, a victim of his team's misguided intentions, and a missed chance to build on the awesome support his anti-graft movement had garnered.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Don 2 3 in 3

Another "record" for me - 3 shows of the same movie, on 3 consecutive days. And before you snigger, trust me, I have very valid reasons :) (why am I even justifying it to you? :))

Anyway, watching a movie multiple times really allows you to appreciate subtleties and tie up lose ends. Also, makes you appreciate the difference between 2D (the first 2 times) and 3D (the third time)... while some of the action is fun in 3D (especially when SRK does his really cool dance moves), in general, if you wanna appreciate good action, stick to 2D. Action in 3D is typically in-your-face and blurred, and wasn't as much fun...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Star World

Master Chef -> White Collar -> Big Bang Theory

How am I supposed to work at night?

Fire On The Expressway

Saw a pretty bad accident on the way back from Mumbai yesterday... a Scorpio (looked lke that) caught fire just before the mega Lonavla tunnel, and the flames quickly caught the underbrush and leapt up the slopes to the road above.

By the time fire tenders came to douse the flames (and they came pretty quick!), the jeep had been reduced to an unrecognizable smouldering heap of charred metal.

Thankfully, looks like no lives were lost, the occupants (looked like a lovely extended family in two vehicles on a Christmas weekend trip) got out before any one got harmed.

Secret Santa

Had a Secret Santa event in the team today - every one got together earlier this week, picked lots to decide who they will be the Secret Santa for - and today, we all got together to open the gifts. Was an amazing team bonding activity... and a lot of fun!

Some things remain the same, no matter how old you get!

Movie Review: Don 2

The King is Back, and he's back with a vengeance. Step aside Idiots and Chulbul Pandeys, aur dekho kaun aaya, yeh hai Don!

While I am still wiping the drool off my jaw, here's a quick review of possibly the best ever action flick from Bollywood, India's own Mission Impossible meets James Bond, and then some.

Don 2 kicks off with a sensational entry by Don in the jungles of Thailand, where a Ramboisque SRK escapes mayhem and murder to surface, quite inexplicably, surrenders before his nemesis, Roma the cop (Priyanka Chopra). The move starts making sense when Don escapes with Vardhan (Boman Irani), and puts in motion his adrenelim pumping, thrill-a-min action plan to rob the currency plates from the Deutsche Central Bank. Any more of the story will be blasphemy... but over the next 2 hours, the Don catches hold of you, and doesn't let go, even for a second. The story is beautifully laid out, the pieces of a complex jigsaw that falls into place, then bursts apart just to come together in another superb mosaic. The twists throw you around, surprising you and thrilling you at every corner, and when you have think you have figured it all out, it twists some more! From Thailand to Malaysia, Zurich to Berlin, the screen enthralls you with stunning visuals, dramatic action sequences, and some of the best executed car chase sequences in movie history.

Shah Rukh's portrayal of Don is stunning... smart, arrogant, wild and always in cold control, always thinking ahead of his enemies, witty and humorous, as lovable as evil can ever be. He falls in love with Roma... or does he really? It's clear Roma cannot hold him off much longer! Is he just using her as part of his game plan? Hard to tell with Don, right? SRk also delivers some superb action - jumping off a skyscraper in a way only he can, playing demolition derby with Roma through the streets of Berlin, some super hand to hand combat. And the dialogues, the wit, the humour, the evil. Brilliant. Carried out in a way only the King could have.

And SRK looks stunning. From the Jack Sparrow look in the jungles of Thailand, the pony tailed prisoner in Malaysia, the suited and smart Don in Berlin, and finally, the biker at the end of the movie... SRK rules the screen like few other men have in movie history.

Priyanka is good too, looks hot, and pulls off some great action. But hey, who was really looking?

Some special moments to relish, over and over again...

SRK's entry in the boat
The prison break sequence
The car chase in Berlin
The moment of truth after the charity event
The jump from the skyscraper
The "Don" song sequence - watch the smoke dancing to his motions, the shadows, the dance moves
The standoff sequence with SRK, Roma, Vardhan and the other baddies
SRK on the bike at the end - simply drool
The seconds just before the credits roll at the end of the movie - don't misss it!

And every freaking frame with SRK on it!

Watched it with 23 other folks from office in a packed theatre at 400 pm... looking to catch it at least another half a dozen times!

When are you gonna catch it?

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Been following Masterchef Australia and now Masterchef USA quite closely this season, and I have been truly amazed by the techniques, the ingredients, the presentation, the creativity displayed by the "amateurs" on the show. Completely changed the way I looked at food...

...and then I had the disappointment of watching Masterchef India. It's as if we can't think beyond chicken and parathas, beyond the same old spices, the same rice pulao and tikka. Presentation has no place in our food, and cooking techniques are limited to chopping vegetables and using the gas.

Really? Is Indian cooking that limited? :(

Movie Review: Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team is hot on the heels of an international terrorist trying to grab hold of Russia's nuclear arsenal, when the Kremlin is bombed in spectacular fashion, forcing the IMF to be shut down and all official support pulled out. On their own, chasing the bad guys to Dubai, and then to India, Ethan and his team race against time (and gravity) to save the world from a deadly nuclear attack.

Some of the stunts are spectacular (especially the Burj Dubai sequence) and Tom looks his part, but the movie is 30-45 min too long, and you might tend to doze off, especially in the afternoon shows.

Shot for a bit in Mumbai, with most of the shooting actually done in a "foren" location - vintage cars placed on the road, along with sarees and turbans, and a couple of scenes of people jaywalking and crossing the road, as a frustrated Ethan waits in his car to pass...

Disappointing to see Anil Kapoor allowing himself to be Hollywood's joker, prancing around as a leechy old man, acting the fool and getting slapped on his cheek. And if that was not bad enough, he walks around preening like a peacock, showing off his Hollywood achievements. Please, Anil, we loved you for what you were in Bollywood... let it stay at that.

Overall, not terrible, not great... and with Don 2 only releasing next Friday, you still have some time in case you really wanna catch it.

Movie Review: The Guard

A rude, lazy, take-it-easy Irish policeman (Brendan Gleeson) teams up with a no-nonsense FBI agent (Don Cheadle) to track a gang of international drug runners. The movie's OK.. if you wanna get a peek into the Irish way of life and Brendan's excellent portrayal of the policeman's role. Otherwise, avoidable.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Movie Review: Fright Night

Another vampire story. A funnily evil looking Colin Farell. A stunningly good looking and very interestingly named Imogen Poots. And a completely ridiculous, meaningless, pointless movie.

Avoid. Unless you really wanna watch it for Imogen.

Or, if you want to know 101 ways to handle vampires. For example, vampires cannot come inside your home unless you invite them in. But they can come in abandoned homes. Yes, really.

Movie Review: Catch .44

Bruce Willis is brilliant in his extremely short essay. Robert Whitakar reminds you of Criminal Minds - Suspect Behaviour. And the 3 girls are eye candy, and not bad, actually. The story is presented in an interesting fashion. But not really something you choose to watch if you have any other options...

What is it about? Doesn't matter...

Just Like Crab

A few months back, I had blogged about a really bad experience in one of Pune's better restaurants, which served us Just Like Crab in crab soup. Just for the uninitiated, Just Like Crab is actually made out of fish and artificial flavours, and made to taste like crab - but is not crab. It comes as fillets, multi layered and pinkish. And yes, it can fool most if finely chopped and used along with some egg drop. But not crab-crazy Goans like me!

Today, Aundh's Seasons hotel served me the same in their Oriental restaurant, and that was pretty sad, because it is one of my favourite local hangouts for dinner with pretty decent food and service. If that was not bad enough, they actually served those "ready to fry" crab claws! I mean, come on!

Really disappointing...

How do you find out if you are really being served crab or Just Like Crab? Look at the crab meat - after ignoring the very thin fabric-like egg drop. If it looks anything like "regular" shaped - straight cuts, thin strips - you have been had!


With Don 2 around the corner (yayyy!!), Donisms have already started making their way around...

In the washroom: "Don kabhi koi saboot nahi chhodta. Please flush!"


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Don't Disturb Me, I'm Studying...

Exams fast approaching, so much to study!

Bad Times

Jagjit, Shammi, Dev Anand, Steve Jobs, Mario, Socrates, Bhupen... really a bad time to be a celebrity!

Movie Review: Last Night

Set in New York City, Last Night is the story of a married couple and the choices they face when they are apart for one fateful night. Joanna (the stunningly pretty Keira Knightley) and Michael (Sam Worthington) share a happy relationship, until one night at an office party, Joanna meets Laura (Eva Mendes), Michael's new office colleague, and senses an under current of attraction between them. When Michael leaves the next day with Laura on a business trip, Joanna runs into her old flame Alex (Guillaume Canet). As the night progresses, Lady Temptation is at her seductive best. Will they give in, or will they come back to each other? Ultimately, what is the right choice?

Great performances, the chemistry between Joanna-Michael, Joanna-Alex and Michael-Laura is so beautifully developed through the night...

Keira puts in one of her most brilliant performances - under stated, subtle, and bloody convincing! And way above the rest.

Movie Review: Columbiana

A young woman, after witnessing her parents' murder as a child in Bogota, grows up to be a stone-cold assassin, bent on taking revenge on her tormentors, no matter what the price. With her sexy looks and hard core action, Columbia-style, Zoe Saldana might just give Lara Croft tough competition!

Australia's Dog Fence

Do you know what is Australia's most dangerous animal? The dingo (a wild dog). So dangerous is it to livestock, that Australia built a fence around one quarter of the continent to keep them out! At 5600 km, it is the worlds's longest unbroken fence and is two and a half times the length of the Great Wall of China!

The fence was built in the early 1900s to keep wild dogs out of South-Eastern Australia, which has a lot of sheep. Cattle, which are less vulnerable to dogs, are reared mostly in the west.

If you think that's crazy, hear this: One of Australia's serving PMs, Harold Holt, died by drowning on a beach while swimming!

That continent never ceases to amaze me!

Patna's Singham

Shivdeep Waman Lande, ex SP (City), Patna - a 2006 batch IPS officer from Maharashtra, has earned the love and respect of Bihar during his short 10 month tenure in Patna, before his transfer to Araria, an 8 hour journey from Patna. Lovingly referred to as Patna's own Dabangg Chulbul Pandey at times and Singham at others, Shivdeep runs a charity foundation in Akola, and donates 60%-70% of his pay to the Sanghatan which organizes mass marriages for poor girls, and runs a hostel and coaching classes for the worst-off. In tight fitting khakis that show off his muscle, with glares perched on his eyes, Shivdeep was very popular with girls he protected from eve-teasers, personally taking pesky calls on their behalf, rounding up flashy bikes during festivals, and visiting colleges to make sure there was no hanky panky.

Reel life isn't so unreal after all!

Return of the Annaconda

Anna and his team were back in Delhi today, speqing venom at the government and threatening a lot of things. While no one condones corruption, and even fewer love politicians, I feel sad that rather than "Support Anna", it's the Annaconda jokes making the rounds now.

A real opportunity squandered in petty ego trips and misguided actions.

Mario Miranda RIP

Goa's much loved cartoonist Mario Miranda passed away in his sleep in his native Loutolim, around 40 km from Panaji, today.

Known for his unique style of drawings, his amazing caricatures of "Goans", and his ability to pack so much action and adventure in every sketch, Mario's drawings were almost staple to us as kids, since they used to adorn all the Balbharati text books we had in school.

Architect Gerard da Cunha has put together a huge archive of Mario's work for a single book- 'Mario de Miranda', published by Architecture Autonomous and Art India. It has over 2000 images of Mario's work and is highly recommended to all.

Goa has lost one of its most loved sons. RIP.

Anyone seen that ad with the 2 kids dressed and acting like adults? Amazing, amazing ad...

What you ordering now?
MP3 player
Aur kuch faulty nikla toh? pe, aaah haah, no chance! Aur agar hua bhi toh, replace kar denge
Awessome... what's going to be your first song?
Ringa  Ringa Roses
That's a classic!

Lol, truly well made!

Movie Review: Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl

Another of those one time watches... with it's pluses and many minuses.
Ricky is an accomplished con man who picks on vulnerable girls (his current score is 31) to loot them of their money (and even if they fall in love with him, he doesn't take advantage of them!) - posing as a guy with huge ancestral property and selling it off to the girl's builder father (victim #1, Parineeti Chopra as the quintessential Punjabi koodi Dimple from Delhi), promising to deliver high quality zari worked cloth (victim #2, Aditi Sharma as the shy and quiet Saira from Lucknow), and selling a fake Hussain to a large corporate (victim #3, Dipannita Sharma as the sauve Raina from Mumbai)...

When the three girls get together, they track him in Goa, and decide to hit back with a con of their own - using the very sexy and persuasive Ishika (Anushka Sharma), who poses as multi-millionnaire NRI's daughter Ishika Patel, looking to invest millions in a chain of restaurants. The plan is to hook him, seduce him to invest money in Ishika's "venture", and recover the money.

Things turn interesting when Ishika falls for him.. but is it yet another master con? Will Ishika's love turn him, or will Ishika and Ricky double con the 3 girls?

Ranveer Singh carries over from Band Baaja, and show a lot of abs, but I am not his biggest fan. Anushka is already getting typecast, but looks great, and has one of the boldest bikini scenes by any Bollywood A list actress, looking smouldering hot! Dipannita and Aditi are good, but the surprise package is Parineeti (heard she's Piggy Chop's cousin..). She has some of the best dialogues, and her Punjabi koodi act is very genuine and endearing.

Not a bad option for the weekend...

Movie Review: Desi Boyz

In recession-hit London, John and Akshay play the role of two friends, one a recently-fired MBA and the other a non-starter struggling with odd jobs, who take to being male escorts (through Sanjay Dutt's agency) to make ends meet. When John's fiancee (Deepika) finds his videos on YouTube, and walks off, John camps his silly trailer in her front garden and tries to win her back with the help of her father, Anupam, who loves sharing a beer with his future son in law. Akshay, meanwhile, needs to show the social services department that he is capable of earning money honorably in order to win back custody of his nephew, and goes back to finish his education (in 4 months), where he meets his college sweetheart (Chitrangda) who is now his Professor...

A weak storyline, poor execution and a lifeless soundtrack. Yet, for some light moments, and the pleasure of oggling at John, Akshay, Deepika and Chitrangda, depending on your preferences, Desi Boyz is not a bad one time watch. Sanjay Dutt is relegated to an extra, so is Anupam Kher, but Akshay puts in a much improved performance compared to some of his recent outings. And oh yes, Chitrangda scores easily over Deepika.. looking like smoking and smouldering lava. Unfortunately, she only makes an appearance in the second half.. talk about not exploiting your assets!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Hail The Nawab!

Virendra Sehwag. 219 off 149, 25 4s, 7 6s.
India reached 418, beating the Windies by 153 to take unassailable 3-1 lead in the the 5 match series.

As a consequence, Sachin has the very "poor" record of having scored the slowest 200 in one days :)

Shiamak Davar's Winter Funk

Attended Sanam's performance at Shiamak Davar's Winter Funk at the Ganesh Kala Krida Manch today - the annual "gathering" of the Shiamak Davar dance students (Pune centers).. a beautiful 3 hour program where dance brings everyone together, irrespective of social strata, religion, built and money! Amazing platform for every kid to perform in front of literally thousands of parents and friends. The SDIPA also gives an opportunity for the underpriviledged and the differently-abled to share the stage, which is a beautiful gesture. With a rich medley of Hindi and English songs, pop and film, lovely costumes, the instructors themselves participating with such passion and energy... Dance is such a wonderful way to channelize energies of the youth..

Very commendable! And highly recommended for all kids.. and adults, for that matter!

Will upload some pics as soon as I find the energy to get off my bum and download the videos from the camcorder...

Movie Review: Reunion

Three estranged brothers and their sister (Amy Smart in a role so tiny, you might miss it if you blink too much) meet after years at their dad's funeral. They have been left a huge inheritance - 3M USD apiece - but there's a catch. The three brothers first need to run a family business together for 2 years and be successful at it, in order to earn the paycheck.

Forced together, the three end up in Mexico on the trail of a kidnapped billionnaire, looking to find him and earn some much needed cash for their business venture... and get sucked up in a whirlpool of  gangland violence that can cost them their lives, true Western style!

Will the three be able to work together, will they be able to trust each other? Will they earn their millions?

A heart warming story, some of the scenes between the brothers are truly memorable. Do watch it...

Movie Review: The Lincoln Lawyer

In this excellent courtroom thriller, Matthew McConaughey stars as a smart defense lawyer Mike Haller, who makes his money defending the worst of the criminals by exploiting the loopholes in the law and pulling his connections and contacts. When he is hired to defend a rich spoilt brat (Ryan Phillippe) against charges of rape and attempted murder, he has no idea that the web of deceit and intrigue will quickly engulf him, and his family. His only chance is to think ahead of his opponent and lose to win!

Matt is fantastic, the screenplay and dialogues engrossing, the pace quick - all in all, a real entertainer.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Animal Criminal

Authorities in Pakistan's Punjab province have recently "arrested" a monkey for crossing the border with India. Instead of getting a number though, he has been named Bobby.
Last year, police in India detained a pigeon and kept it under armed guard after it was caught on an alleged spying mission for Pakistan.

Last heard, both the monkey and the pigeon were looking forward to join politics.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Movie Review: Breaking Dawn (Twilight 4)

20 mins of marriage, 40 mins of honeymoon, 40 mins of pregnancy, 20 mins of death, and then 30 seconds as a vampire. That's what happens to Bella, and that's all there is to it.

Twilight 1 was all wow, and Twilight 2 added some more wow, Twilight 3 got a little boring with the wow rubbing off.. but hey, at least you had enough wows when Bella came on screen, and she came often. Sadly, Twilight 4 is more yucks, eeks and yawn, and definitely no wow. Unless you count the couple of times you get to oggle at Bella in her Victoria's Secrets as she prances around begging to be made love to. Even more disastrously, no matter how much she tries to wow you in the first half, things get really ugly when she's pregnant in the second half, and that image of a dying, stricken, and very sick Bella is what you carry out of the theatre.

There is none of the beautiful dad-daughter relationship, none of the fights that made you stare wide eyed, none of the smiles and laughter and the cute romance.
Vampires were dangerous, but also a lot of fun. Now, Vampires are back to being disgusting blood drenched, blood sucking creatures. And Bella, it's tough thinking about her because her ghotly images scare the hell out of you.

For me, the Twilight has passed into night.

That Was Yummy!