Sunday, December 30, 2012

Movie Review: Ready

So today it was a Ready Blu Ray, carrying on with my be a Salman fan crusade.

Salman, as always - brilliant. Some good action, and a lot of Salmanism, especially some nice takes on older movies. Asin was also fresh and pretty, and complimented him well.

But, unlike Wanted, the story, the screenplay and most of the comedy is loud, stretched, and over the top.

But now I do get it. If you are a Salman fan, all these other infractions can really be forgiven!

Things Do Look Big In Contacts, After All!

So I wasn't wrong. I did some googling and realized a lot of others have faced the same question as I have - why do things look bigger in contacts?

So here is what happens. With glasses used to correct near sightedness, things do start appearing smaller than they are - and after years of continuously wearing glasses, the brain actually accepts and expects objects to be smaller than they are! However, since the lens is on the eye in case of contacts, there is no such aberration. So when you wear contacts, you see objects as they are, and for the "adjusted" brain, they look much bigger. The higher your spectacle power, the more pronounced this effect is.

For me, the last 36 hours have been so amazing. People, my own hand, the TV, my cat, even the fork and spoon, the DVD, the paperbacks... things look so huge compared to what I have been used to seeing them as. Unbelievable, more so knowing that they have always been that way, and I have found them to be so much smaller!

After 1-1, 1-0

India lost the first one dayer at Chennai, failing to defend a fighting 227, after Mahi's captain's knock of 113* gave them some sort of respectability following a disastrous 29/5 in the first 10. The Indian bowlers failed to make any in roads, though Bhuvaneshwar had a dream debut scalping a wicket on the very first ball.

Hoping India can pull back the next two!

The King Khan's Sawari


Movie Review: Wanted

Ek Tha Tiger and Dabangg 2 converted me into a Salman fan, and Wanted simply pushed that to the next level. There is something so innocent and real about this guy; it's no wonder his millions of fans simply lap up everything he has to offer.

(That said, I really think Bodyguard sucked for most part)

Salman looks amazing, whether as the goonda, the IPS officer, or the shy lover. The songs are memorable, and the lead pair looks very cute together. The action scenes are awesome, a lot of toning down of the Dabanggness. And Salman's dialogues and one liners would have sent the theatre crowd hooting and clapping. I have always liked Ayesha Takia, she's an amazing actress (see Dor, for her best), and she looks very fit and pretty. Her chemistry with Salman is also great, especially in the funny scenes. Prakash Raj is fantastic as the villain, a precursor of his much appreciated role in Singham, and just like in the Devgan starrer, you almost feel sorry for him, inspite of all his evilness.

Overall, a fantastic entertainer!

Movie Review: Heroine

Had missed this in the theatres, finally caught it on DVD.

Kareena looks stunning, and puts up a very convincing performance. Arjun Rampal, Divya Dutta, Randeep Hooda, Shahana Goswami, Govind Namdeo and Ranveer Sheorey have small but well delivered roles. And while everyone looks good, some of the dialogues and screenplay look very artificial, as if the director is trying really hard to make some points, and could do with a dash of subtlety. Too much in-your-face bitching and back biting and the whole "fashion and glamour industry is full of gays" line. The story line also needed some ironing.

Heroine takes active product placement to the absolute max (oh, I forgot the Fevicol in Dabangg 2!), and many of the scenes look more like a commercial break than a part of the movie. Guess Heroine didn't need box office success to rake in the moolah.

Madhur has given us some hard hitting movies, but Heroine is not his best.

Shades, Finally

I got my first pair of shades. More than twenty years after I first got my specs, I finally managed to muster the guts to go for contacts, and with them, my first dark glasses. With my high powered lenses making larger sized frames a complete no no, and not wearing glasses not even a remote possibility, I could only salivate when I saw others flaunting their eyewear.

Now, coming to the interesting bits...

While I am yet to get used to the idea and technique of getting a foreign film into my eyes, it's really been so much easier than I imagined. No dryness or irritation, no tears, no discomfort. So, for all those out there evaluating options, go check it out for yourself. I waited too long, worried about imaginary problems. However, and maybe I am jumping the gun, I think the inconveniences - all that cleanliness, the careful storage, all the don'ts (no sleeping, no dust, no rubbing) - push the deal in favour of the chasmas!

Another very interesting experience for me - things nearby look so much bigger in contacts, than in my high powered specs. People's heads, the laptop screen, my TV, my cat - looks like everyone's got a shot of whatever it is that blew up the kids!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Air Brushed Beauty

Note 2 da kamaal

Drinking and (No) Driving

This is just a friendly reminder about drinking and driving this festive season.

I went out last night and left my car at the pub and took the bus home. I was very proud of myself this morning as I had never driven a bus before.

By the way, Tcabs ( in Pune is providing a very nice service to help all of you reach home safely after NYE (and into the new year too)! Do check them out...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cut And Paste

A blonde went to the electronics shop and angrily threw her new laptop on the desk, furious that she had been cheated.  I cannot even transfer a file from my previous laptop, she screamed.

Salesman: Madam, can you please try in front of me.

This is what she did...

1) Right clicked the mouse on the file which she wanted to transfer and selected CUT option.

2) Disconnected the mouse from that PC.

3) Took that mouse carefully and connected it to the other PC where she wanted to copy that file.

4) Right clicked the mouse and selected the PASTE option.

When she turned around, the salesman had fainted.

Life By The Beach

An early breakfast...

The ride to office...

And then a tiring day at work!

Traffic Snarls

The tourist season is on in Goa, and even while everyone is worried at the apparently low turnout this year, traffic snarls on the approach road into Panaji are a common site already. With Sunburn coming up, and a busy new year, the Parriker government is pulling out all stops to ensure a happy and safe season!

Meanwhile, the Calangute - Baga is seeing some action, finally, on road widening and removal of encroachments. One only wishes this had been taken up and completed before the season really kicked in...

Tiny Tots

Premier Padmini Fiat

Saw this beauty in Panaji the other day - we had one for 10 years, and then another one for another 7-8, before we finally succumbed to the seduction of a Maruti. Can you believe it, way back in the mid 80s, when I was barely 10, and my sister was maybe 7, my dad packed us into one of these, and along with a driver, we set off on a 15 day road trip from Goa down the West Coast all the way to Kanyakumari - covering Mangalore, Cochin, Manipal, Trivandrum, Ernakulam along the way - and then back through Madurai, Hasan and Bangalore. Amazing trip - I still have some crystal clear memories. How I wish we had video cams and other devices back then...

Inox - Memories

The Inox at Panaji is built at the site of the old Goa Medical College, many of the old buildings still majestically standing there, renovated and repurposed as the offices of the IFFI and other associated bodies.

A very attractive complex, this is a magnet for many film shootings.

Around 35 years back, this is where my sister fought a long and painful battle against a head injury when she was barely a few weeks old. I was 3, and I still remember some of those painful trips to the hospital. In the late 70s, the docs at the "old goverment hospital" did a fab job!

From The Rooftop

007 would love to ride over these... all the way to the Mandovi bridge far in the background

Captain of Ports building on the banks of the Mandovi

Movie Review: Dabangg 2

For some, a meaty script is necessary. For others, method acting is critical. For the King, it's the eternal romanticism. For Salman Khan and his countless fans, it can take as little as a belt doing the jig to guarantee a 100 crore hit. Unleash the Salman magic for a whole 2.5 hours, and a record is on the way. Love him or hate him, you cannot ignore him.

Chulbul Pandey is in Kanpur this time, taking on Bachcha Bhaiyya, the local goon turned politician and his cronies. With Arbaaz Khan as director, the movie gets a little more polished, the action more meaty. Chulbul Pandey is even more lovable than in the first installment - he looks fit and in top form in his uniform and shades, his humour and dialogues entertain without getting too loud. His dance adds more amazing routines - pulling up the pant's legs, his belt dances by itself, you get the idea.
Sonakshi delivers another meatless role, looking pretty but with nothing really to do. Prakash Raj actually disappoints and could have been used a lot better - after Singham, one thing is sure - that guy can add tremendously to the villain's character, in addition to being the punching bag. Arbaaz, and more shockingly, the "talented" Mahie Gill, perform the most ridiculous, most unnecessary "cameo" I have ever seen in a movie.

Too many songs, and while a couple including the famous-by-now Fevicol advert, are interesting, the rest simply distract.

But all said and done, Salman delivers some good entertainment - pure and wholesome, of the keep-the-brains-at-home-and-let-go type.

 Definitely worth a watch! Hell, maybe even a couple of times!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

End Of The World

The world is coming to an end tomorrow and we still don't know what is Victoria's secret, who let the dogs out, what is love and who the fcuk is Alice!!!

By the way, what's your plan for the D Day?

BJP or Congress? Who Won?

Modi won a third consecutive term in Gujarat - but actually lost two extra seats to the Congress, compared to the last election. The Congress meanwhile, wrested Himachal from the BJP.

Who will be happier tonight?

Happy In Pune

India comfortably beat England in today's T20 encounter in Pune, chasing 158 with 5 wickets and 13 balls to spare... small consolation, but one nevertheless, after a disastrous Test series. Yuvi played a dashing innings before being caught in the deep, after contributing with 3 wickets in the first innings. And Dhoni finished off in style in the company of Suresh Raina.

Interestingly, the stadium was just about 70% full, which is very surprising considering how cricket-starved this city has been when it comes to international fixtures. The stadium was chok-a-block full during every IPL match, but today, there were huge patches of empty seats except in the cheapest stands. A combination of very expensive tickets, and a below par performance by the Indians in the last few weeks definitely contributed to it.

SRK and Deepika were at the stadium, adding a special dash of glamour. SRK was seen explaining the nuances of the game to a keen Deepika... although, one wonders if she needed the lessons! :)

The stadium itself came for huge praise from the commentators, especially for the weather, the looks, and the quality - the commentators mentioning how every care was taken down to the tiniest detail, and highest quality fixtures and materials used. Sahara and Pune should be very proud!

And I missed going for the match.

Boeing 787 Problems

Boeing is having problems with the 787 Dreamliner, with 3 out of the 40 planes delivered so far currently grounded due to technical problems. For a program that is already 3 years late, this is bad news for Boeing and its customers.

Guess it will be some time before I board one!

eCommerce Bubble?

With more than 350 eCommerce companies in India at last count, one wonders - are they making any money, or are they going the way most of our malls are - glitzy stores, low footfalls, and inevitably, shutdowns.

The big ones are definitely seeing sales going up - riding the millions spent on eye-catching advertisements, huge discounts, free shipping, cash on delivery and no-questions-asked return policies. Even though it results in heavy logistical costs, options like cash on delivery and free shipping and returns have been responsible for eCommerce picking up slowly but steadily in a market like India, where plastic money or netbanking is not too common. Even though it means companies might actually be losing money on every sale, it is resulting in "habit formation", and that can only be good news for the industry.

But does eCommerce have a future in India, and if so, why?

I am bullish, and here's my theory: India's tier 2 and tier 3 cities, and the rural majority, do not have access to the glitzy malls and shopping arenas of our larger cities. But there is money, and there are aspirations, driven by much larger exposure to the world. Unlike when we were kids, we now know what is out there. And we want to buy. And if the eCommerce portals can get their distribution channels - and maybe even share them - there is a huge market out there for all the cool stuff that has hitherto been accessible only to the well-heeled tier 1 upper middle class.

One indication of the maturing of the market is that a lot of eCommerce is now focussed on apparels and life style - not just ticket bookings. Since apparels and life style products require a "touch and feel", these are some of the most difficult products to sell in an emerging eCommerce mindset. Once the population gets used to that, as it seems to be happening in India right now based on sales numbers from the biggies, it is so much easier to go ahead and expand to electronics, books and so many other such products.

Interestingly, another side effect, not so good for brick and mortar retailers, is what is called "showrooming". This is the term used to describe the situation where consumers visit showrooms, check out products (especially electronic and household stuff), get demos, do trials, and then leave, going back home to order on the Internet, from the best discount site. Unless brick and mortal retailers jack up customer service and provide serious value adds, they are soon going to have deep trouble.

Either way, consumers have everything to cheer about - but for how long?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


So Instagram has new rules of engagement now - and in case you haven't heard about it, it essentially means that they now have complete rights to your images, to use any way they can, including advertisements, without asking for your permission, and without paying you a cent.

How long before all those cool pics you uploaded of yourselves on FB turn up on your friendly neighbourhood billboard?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Another Series

Another disappointing series loss, this time most unexpectedly in India on spin-friendly pitches, when the much-vaunted Indian batting machine shut down with little more than a whimper, and our own masters of spin failed to extract any juice from the pitches, while the English spinners looked almost devilish on the same surfaces.

TV channels, and experts, have been quick to pounce on Dhoni for his uninspired leadership and communication skills (while also saying he remains the best captain for one dayers - wondering how leadership skills and communication change as per the format of the game!).

At the end of the day, if batters don't put up the runs, and the bowlers can't take 20 wickets, you cannot win a Test. You can blame the captain, but the team really needs to pull up their socks and stop finding scapegoats.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Home Tip - Water Fountain

A simple water fountain in the home can add tremendously to the ambience. The sound of the dripping water coupled with fragrance of scented candles or aroma oils, with dim lighting, will soothe and calm you, creating a spa-like atmosphere at a fraction of the cost of a spa visit. You get dozens of options today - with recycled water and very little electricity consumption.

I have Buddha bust, made of concrete, with a water container at the bottom with a tiny water pump (the sort you see in fish tanks) that pushes water up to the top of the bust. The beauty of the contraption is that you can actually adjust the "volume" of the dripping sound by regulating the amount of water in the container :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Indian Federation

Over the last several elections, it is becoming more and more clear that the federal structure of the Indian state is coming into its own, with increasingly powerful state CMs and parties dong extremely well, both at the polls as well as in governance, compared to the "national" parties. Even when you look at leaders like Modi or Goa's Parrikar, while they belong to a national party, their focus and reach is very local. (Agreed, Modi might have PM ambitions, but I doubt he will be as effective at a national level as he is in Gujarat - time will tell!)

However, our multi-party and parliamentary form of governance does not align very well with a heavily federal structure, with coalition politics generally proving extremely difficult when it comes to decision making, as we have seen with the UPA struggling in recent times on crucial policy matters. The US, which also enjoys very strong federalism, has a very different presidential form of government at the center, which makes it much easier to govern the center.

Unless the Congres or the BJP sweeps elections and is returned to parliament with a resounding majority, India might struggle as a country with its defence and economic policies, while individual states will ride on the success of their local leadership. Maybe it's time to relook at the powers of the states, and empower them further? Maybe it's also time to tighten the rules around coalition politics...?

The Windows 8 Gamble

After a few unexciting years, Microsoft has thrown down the gauntlet with a very bold move around Windows 8. A very fresh UI philosophy, lot of stress on cloud storage and social networking, and of course, availability as Windows Phone 8 in the Smartphone market signals that the desktop giant has finally got its gameplan right, and is capable of putting up an extremely strong fight against Google and Samsung. HTC has got some stunning hardware for the Windows Phone 8, and with initial reviews of the Windows 8 touch laptops being pretty positive, exciting times are ahead for consumers.

However, it's not all sorted out yet. We are already seeing problems running ASP.Net and HTML based applications on Windows 8 machines. There aren't as many native apps out there as Android and iOS users are used to seeing. And within Enterprises, if all those hundreds of apps already bought and installed do not easily upgrade, adoption will be extremely painful.

Personally, while the cloud integration is exciting, it can be another killer for Enterprises, where IT is going to have a nightmare trying to protect and prevent Enterprise stuff from getting uploaded and saved onto cloud storages, by careless users, intentionally or otherwise.

One thing is sure - it's do or die time for the once undisputable leader in desktop and personal software.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pune At Nine

Such a wonderful, beautiful, morning...

Movie Review: The Collection

The Collection has enough blood and gore and mutilated body parts to churn your stomach, and then some. There is really no story line, no thrill or suspense, just an endless orgy of violence and killings, in the guts of an abandoned building, until it numbs your senses and red becomes just another color.

Even Khiladi 786 would have been a better option.

Connecticut Shooting - Yet Another Shocking Tragedy

It's happened yet again, a shocking new incident in what is becoming an increasingly common occurence in the US. A 20 year old barging into an elementary (primary) school, loaded with guns and assault rifles, most of them legally obtained, and gunning down 26 people, including 20 innocent children in the age group 5-10.

As a parent, you worry about the safety of your kids - but when you drop your kid to school, the worst you expect is some sort of bullying or maybe a kid falling down and hurting yourself. How do you reconcile to news like these?

CNN is live from the crime scene, now more than 24 hours from the time of the shooting, talking about how the Prez is sharing the grief of the families, and fighting back tears. Police are talking about how they are collecting "good evidence", that will help them figure out the sequence of events.

But is that all really relevant?

When is the US going to address the root causes? Easy availability of assault rifles because of almost no gun control, very poor internal security (although billions are spent in racial profiling and full body scanning at airports!), and a society that is increasingly getting out of control with a very weak family system and rampant use of drugs and other substances of abuse.

Something is terribly wrong, and there doesn't seem to be any serious and real efforts at addressing that.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Foggy Morning In Mumbai

Fog or no fog, Mumbai is a beautiful city... here's a pic clicked from the Sea Link around 10 in the morning... the weather was chilly, a beautiful breeze was blowing in from the Arabian Sea... traffic was light, life was perfect.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


When we were kids, I had this big fat General Knowledge book, which was a magnet for all my cousins, because it had so many cool pictures and bits of information that helped in many a science project in school. Tinkle and Reader's Digest were two other sources of information. When I was doing engineering, my first "application" was a Foxpro database that allowed me to "search" for information, and the application returned the month and year of the magazine that contained relevant articles. Yes, it took a lot of data entry, but it was truly amazing to be able to peek into those dozens of magazines as needed.

When I studied engineering, we did not have access to Internet in Goa - the nearest VSNL node was in Mumbai, and that meant a dial up cost of Rs 20 per minute, just to access the node. Google wasn't born yet. All we had were big fat text books, an outdated library, and notes from students of the past.

In 1996, when I entered IIT B for my masters, I was exposed to the vast caverns of periodicals and journals, and suddenly information was aplenty. A typical evening saw me in the caverns, hunting for articles and reports from journals in long, dark, dewy corridors, and then photocopying them (on our own) on the library machines. I still have a big suitcase of articles and reports I used in my 18 months there.

We were still not exposed to Google, and had very limited use for the Internet.

It was here in Pune, when I joined work, that we found Google. First, it was to search for relevant articles and APIs. Over time, we got spoilt - from world times to movie shows, from pictures of our favorite actresses to crazy videos, Google became a source for everything. It was amazing how it never said no!

Over the last few months, the whole Search business has moved into personalization. Finding stuff is cool, but the real challenge now is, can you find me things that my social network is also interested in? Just Dial is banking heavily on that model, and so are the dozens of "recommendation and review" sites.

Google Goggles is another technology that is bound to make the whole experience of searching and finding information just so different, so powerful, so crazy. Imagine you walk around wearing a Google Goggle and as you look around, out pop titbits of information - you can recognize people's faces, you know what offices are in that building, you even know what ingredients were used in that dish! You watch cricket, and lo, you have all the stats you ever need in your HUD.

Yes, it is pretty scary, especially for those of us who know how it can be misused, but, wow, the way it will change how we live - truly mind blowing!

Have Feet, Will Dance: Shiamak Daavar

Just back from a 2 hour program, Winter Funk 2012, by Shiamak Daavar's Pune students and instructors at the Yashwantrao Chavan Auditorium. As usual, it was a fantastic show, over 2 dozen performances by students of all ages, social strata, sizes, and capabilities. What is amazing is how they manage to bring everyone on a common platform, giving every kid the opportunity to perform, irrespective of how "good" he is. Very clearly, you don't need to be pretty or slim or fit or rich or even talented - dance is a universal language that is accessible to all, and can be enjoyed by all - you just need the spirit! Shiamak also pulls in students who are differently-abled, and even kids from remand homes, giving them a wonderful opportunity to perform with everyone else.

I highly recommend Shiamak's dance classes for every kid. They cost a bit (not too much!), but the impact they can have on your child's development - especially in terms of growing confidence - is very impressive, and this is one investment you will never regret.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Saturday, December 08, 2012

A Rendezvous With SRK & Dippy!

Oh wow, what a day it was! Dec 5th, at Balli station in Cancona, Goa. 7 of us crazy fans braved the Goa sun from 11 am to 6 pm, to spend an amazing day with the King Khan, Deepika and Rohit Shetty, at the shooting of Chennai Express.

As Rohit's door-ke-guests, we got into the inner circle, accepted and approved by the dozens of dark blue safari-clad bouncers and personal body guards. With the best possible location, personal attention from the director and his assistant, juice and lunch with the crew, we couldn't have really asked for much more.

The King Khan arrived around 1250, his gleaming white BMW 740LI rolling to a stop, the bouncers scrambling to put a protective cordon even as the door open and the stunningly fit and handsome Shah Rukh stepped out, his aviators, black shirt and jeans-clad look flooring everyone around. The aura clearly stunning everyone into silence, SRK waved at us and passed, inches from where we were standing, spellbound. 5 mins later, shot taken, the King graced us again, this time turning back at our call, to acknowledge us in his trademark adah, before getting behind the wheel of his Beemer and leaving for his gleaming, imposing grey DC-designed vanity van a short drive away.

Rohit came by a few mins later, stopped by to chat, posed for some photos with us. He also left word with his assistant Vidhi to make sure we get to meet Deepika.

It was a long wait, as Deepika was sleeping in her vanity van. We got almost-apologetic running updates from Vidhi as Deepika got dressed and ready for the shoot. And then, suddenly, at around 230, the door of her van opened, and out she stepped, looking like an angel - tall, extremely fit, and looking stunning in her ghagra choli. Let madame finish the shot, then she will come to meet you, said the bouncers. But we had Rohit on our case. Vidhi whispered something to Deepika, and she turned course, coming straight to us! How are you, who do you want to be when you grow up, she asked my niece, taking her hand. Where have you come from? Are you all from Goa? Oh, you have come from Pune? What do you do? She spoke like Meera straight out of Cocktail - refined, confident, polite, true. While we swooned, and her bodyguards objected, she spent over 5 mins with us, signing the various pads and DVD covers we put in front of her. Photos weren't possible at the time, since she was in costume, but wait for packup, and we will click pics, she promised. Do you want to come watch shooting with me, she asked. But dumbstruck as we were, someone said no, we will wait here - and then she was gone.

We had had enough for a lifetime, but more was yet to come.

The Khan arrived for the evening shoot. How do you do, he asked my sister, who managed to mutter "good good".

It was amazing to see SRK, Deepika and Rohit on the sets - the making of Chennai Express, right in front of our eyes.

There was also enough time to go check out the King's Beemer from close quarters, and pose for pics with it.

We had just one wish left - to meet the Khan one on one, and get some autographs. Please, can you wait till packup, asked Vidhi? But we needed to catch the bus, and we were running very, very short of time. Let me try, said Vidhi, and then came back with a promise - wait 30 mins, and he will be with you, she said. He was in the middle of shots, and it was impossible for us to wait any longer.

And finally, at 615, while hundreds others pushed the cordons to try and get closer, we had to walk away from a chance to meet the King Khan.

Movie Review: Khiladi 786

The Khiladi tries to do a Dabangg, and loses it all. Himesh Reshammiya's cry-baby acts (he has also written, directed the music, produced and sung, of course), Rohit Shetty-inspired physics-defying stunts stretched to absurd proportions, ear-cringing dialogues, stale, racist jokes, generally un-listenable songs, and a lame screenplay are just some of the 786 reasons to avoid this movie.

Any redeeming points? Well, Akshay looks good, even as he pulls off stunts that even Rajni might be incapable of. Asin is decent in her Marathi mulgi role (with a generous sprinkling of Singhamism).

And yes, if you keep your mind completely receptive, and put every sensible neuron in a state of suspended animation, you might be able to laugh a couple of times.

As far as Himesh Reshammiya’s talent is concerned – he should be an inspiration to millions around the world. If he can do it, why not us?

Tale Of Two Parties (Or Should That Be Four?)

So finally the Congress pulled yet another victory from the jaws of defeat, turning the BJP's demand for a vote completely in its favour and robbing the opposition, yet again, of a chance to put them on the mat. Whatever the means used by the Congress negotiators, they played M&M against each other, turning their brinksmanship into an advantage, extorting exactly what was needed from them. With its almost hypocritical anti-FDI stand, the BJP now runs the risk of distancing itself from the urban middle class, which always looked up to the BJP as a reformist, forward thinking party. With the FDI story successfully behind it, the government will now feel emboldened to push the agenda for further reforms, just in time for the 2014 battle. With regional parties like the TMC, AAIDMK and DMK playing almost no role in FDI saga, has the BJP handed the Congress yet another timely shove?

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Agenda Aaj Tak

Was fascinating to see Arvind Kejriwal, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Ravi Shankar Prasad debate on Headlines Today in Agenda Aaj Tak today, moderated by Managing Editor Rahul Kanwal. Javed Akhtar also participated from the audience, making an impassioned request to Arvind to respect India's constitution, our judiciary, media and parliament, and not talk about killing the system that has served India so beautifully so far. Spend a week in Pakistan, he implored. You will come back and kiss this ground, Akhtar continued, asking him what his vision for the country was. Why are you giving Ambanis account numbers, he asked. Don't be a non-playing captain and just throw mud at others, a doctor in the audience pleaded. Another gentleman  questioned how he would lead a country by taking law in his own hands, like in snapping electricity connections in Delhi. Would you go ahead and shoot a murder suspect based on an accusation, he asked. And given that he couldn't keep his own flock together, how he would be able to keep the country together. And Mani Shankar and Ravishanker showed what solid politicians are all about - frankly, I am not a big fan of any politician, but today, both of them earned my respect for their clear thinking, elucidation and control. It was truly amazing. Give us a real plan for making the CBI autonomous and be constructive, said Mani Shanker. When Arvind brought up the case of a young rape victim struggling for justice, Ravishanker asked why he was tearing down our law and judiciary, instead of offerings the services of Prashant Bhushan and his other lawyers, thereby helping the girl get justice.

On another note, earlier in the morning, Anna accused Arvind of corruption and being power hungry, and said he would never vote for him.

Here is what is seriously troubling me. When a very esteemed and educated audience puts Arvind on the stand and questions him, and applauds the very politicians we love to hate, what hope do we have for the future of the anti-corruption movement?

Personally, I have been a proud citizen of this country for almost 4 decades now, and I love this country because it has given me freedom, choice, a great education and a very happy and secure life. Yes, we have corruption and a lot of other ills - but when someone assumes the role of change maker on behalf of me, and then questions every arm of the country, I have a serious concern.

If someone wanted to strengthen our judiciary, our media, our system - by following our constitution and our laws, I would support him fully. But do we want anarchy in the name of rule of the mob? No way!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Movie Review: Talaash

Talaash addresses something we all do in life. Search. A police officer grapples for answers to a suspicious accident, his wife searches for closure after the death of their son. From a better life to self respect, we all search for something that has been denied to us - sometimes, even after death.

When a movie star dies in a mysterious accident on the seedy "Seaface Road", officer Surjan Singh Shekhawat (Aamir Khan) puts his heart and soul into getting to the truth behind it. His search takes him to Mumbai's seedy red light area, pay-by-hour hotels and whorehouses, where he finds himself getting attracted to a seductive call girl named Rosy (Kareena). With his own marriage to Roshni (Rani) in trouble after the death of their young boy, Suri's constant nightouts raise uncomfortable questions for his friends and family. Is he disturbed by his child's death, is he obsessed with finding the truth behind what is increasingly looking like a preplanned murder, or is he simply having an affair?

The real star of the movie is the cinematography - right from the credits and the opening scene, the amazing capture of Mumbai's underbelly, the seedy Kamthipura and its hell holes is worth appreciation. The music is enticing and haunting, although not something you are likely to put on your playlist for too long. The screenplay is brilliant in parts, but drags towards the middle, and especially after the climax scene, when the closing credits seem to completely miss their cue.

In terms of performances, personally, I thought Aamir was very one dimensional, and many of this emotional scenes lack conviction, leading the audience to start laughing. In the SRK-Aamir battle, this is one round that always goes to the King Khan - he makes you cry, because you believe in him, even when he is hamming at his best. When Aamir tries it, you generally end up laughing or squirming in your seat. Check out the scene in which he admonishes Rani for talking to the neighbour, or the scene in which he tells Kareena he is tired,  or the final scene in which he cries for his son. He also looks unfit and fat in some scenes, and somehow the wierd moustache doesn't suit him (his boyish look in Sarfarosh as a young but tough officer rocked). He also hams in many scenes, trying to portray the troubled and angry officer.

Kareena looks absolutely delicious as the devilishly seductive Rosy. She's put on weight, and is perfect endorsement for the anti-gym lobby (along with my fav Kat and Sona)! :) She also does a fantastic job with her dialogue delivery, her demure looks and her enchanting talk absolutely mesmerizes. Rani, sans makeup, plays the perfect troubled partner in a difficult marriage, and her fight scene with Aamir shows why she is such a highly rated actress.

Raj Kumar Yadav plays a nice cameo as Suri's junior officer, and Wasseypur's Nawazuddin Siddiqui, as the sidekick of the pimp playing his own games, is also brilliant.
The story itself has a good dose of intrigue and suspense - but there isn't really anything unique in it, once you figure out the main track half way through the movie. With a suggestive sound track, flitting camera shots, and even scenes of planchets, the director actually hints at the "truth", long before the climax. So if you have been paying attention to the signals, it doesn't come as much of a surprise.
Not a bad movie, and if this was Emraan, I would go gaga (of course, you would expect a kiss with the Kapoor babe). But, coming as it is after a 3 year hiatus, I expected a lot more from AK.