Monday, August 21, 2006

Good-bye and Goodnight

I stayed up till 4am this morning, to watch Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. Arrrgghh!! I am totally bleary eyed now and a bigger fool than I was last night, when friends warned me not to sacrifice a good night's sleep to see ShahRukh divorce Priety to marry Rani. KANK is 3.5 hours, boring, dull and lacks something that I really cannot pin point at (atleast not now, when I am so disgusted)

Shahrukh, please grow up. You are nearing the end of your career. I agree, that you are have had more box office success than nearly any actor in Bollywood history (is he really the most successful in terms of box office collections?) but we need a break. Ten years after DDLJ, you are still acting the same way. When I saw you in Swadesh, I thought you might have changed, but I suppose box office obligations drove you to revert back to the same school of acting.

Dev (played by ShahRukh) is the failed footballer who turns to coaching after an accident cripples him forever. Rhea (Priety Zinta) is his ambitious wife, who is a go getter and a winner. Maya ( Rani Mukherjee) is a simpleton at heart married to party organiser and (hence) party amimal Rishi ( Abhishekh Bachchan - don't I love that guy!). Now, put the four in a churning pot and watch the concoction brewing into a Bollywood masala mix.

Dev thinks his wife is too ambitious to have a happy family. Maya thinks her husband is too engrossed with himself to care about her and so, Dev and Maya fall in love with each other. Thereby hangs a tale. Now, the pathetic part of the plot is that, Rhea (Dev's wife) is ambitious, but makes real effort to look after her family and be with them whenever she can. Rhea's character is not painted in black, but had shades of grey. It really throws the same question that Abhimaan with the Big B and Jaya Bachchan posed before society nearly 30 years ago, with so much more subtlety. What's wrong if the wife is more successful than the husband???? Why is it that a husband can get away with long working hours under the guise that he is doing all this for his family while the same does not hold for the wife? In the story, Rhea works extra hard so that she can buy the best for her son and provide him with all the comforts in life. What's so wrong with that????

On the other end, we have Maya who thinks that she has not been able to connect to husband, Rishi. Agreed, that the fellow is a party animal, but it does not justify a failed marriage. Fellow shows his love for his wife all the time, and tries to keep her happy day in and day out. Infact, Rhea has the weakest character, but the most screen presence in the movie and it has puzzled me to no end. Why on Earth does she think she cannot connect to her husband. He is after all, not the indifferent phlegmatic man who does not have any interest in his wife!!! To the contrary, Rishi does his best to keep Rhea happy, but she is the one who seems to be indifferent.

Now, even as I am trying to figure out why Dev and Maya think that their respective marriages are failing, we come to the part of the movie where they spend time with each other and fall in love. Falling in love is the prerogative of Hindi cinema and therefore, I dare not question it, though Rishi's father Sam (Big B - more on that later) does offer by way of explanation that two people trapped under similar circumstances will bond closer. I agree with that. When R, M and I did not study for our DBMS paper and decided to 'co-operate' during the exam - we bonded very well during those three hours. The rest they say is not called Essential Repeat.

So, then I do accept that just because they have both had rocky marriages, they bond while discussing their problems and realise that they would be happy if they spent the rest of their lives with each other. After this it gets tough. You see Dev and Maya meeting secretly and doing what tantamounts to cheating on their respective spouses. You are supposed to empathise with that. At the same time, you have not exactly been taught to consider Rhea or Rishi as villains, so you are totally dazed, because you do not know what is right and what is wrong. There! got it. What's missing in KANK is a message. This movie was supposed to be some path breaking movie in Bollywood, but it does not leave any definite message. You come out of the movie wondering who was right and who wasn't. As for myself, when I sat through 3 hours of this mammoth movie and switched off my laptop when there were 30 minutes still remaining, I thought the only message worth remembering was that it was no use losing sleep over KANK. Yawn!

PS - Big B - wasted - as some kindof a compulsive sex maniac, who yet mourns the loss of his wife. I respect that guy too much to accept him in a role like this.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


There is something I have come to realise. When you desperately want something, you usually get it. Somebody told me that in this country, when people misplaced buttons in their shirts, they usually threw away the shirt because, nobody sold loose buttons or needle and thread. It worried me a lot, because I am so used to mending things that the thought of throwing away a perfectly sound dress was giving me sleepless nights. Then one day, I discovered an entire section devoted only to needles, threads and buttons in the supermarket and my fears were dispelled.

A week ago, I managed to lose the buckle of my handbag. Again, going by popular perception, I was under the impression that I would have to throw away an absolutely new leather bag, just because one buckle was missing. Today, I found yet another section in the supermarket devoted solely to buckles for strapping up bags. Funny, I never noticed it before in all these days.

This supermarket is like Harry Potter's wishing room. You only need to wish for something and you will find an entire section devoted to your needs - someplace that you probably passed by a thousand times before but never gave as much as a glance. For the past one month, I had been dumped with a lamp shade that cost me a lot of money, but was not required. I had been wondering what to do about it, when somebody told me that I could return it without any hassles. I managed to find a returns section also in the supermarket also. As a senior told me, this country is a desert and the supermarket is your oasis. You better make sure that you know your way through this place blindfolded. I'm trying to...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Biriyani Blues

Last Saturday, we set out on what is increasingly becoming our fornightly trips in search of our roots. We went on one of those long drives, where we are always on the lookout for anyplace that smells and spells I-N-D-I-A from a mile's distance. As a result of our enthusiastic ventures, one 'Bombay Bazaar' is flourishing. Whoelse I wonder would shop for Britannia 50-50 biscuits, Maggi Hot and Sweet Tomato Sauce and Haldiram's khatta mithaa mixture and end up spending $200 everytime? The store owner - one sharp businessman with enough acumen has been quick to spot our weakness. So, he never fails to gift us DVDs (surely copied from other pirated DVDs judging by the poor quality) of the latest Hindi movies and always tempts us with sample 'Frooti' bottles. This way, he ensures, that we keep going back to the same place, even though prudence tells us that if we travel further down to a slightly known place called Chicago, Maggi Noodles will cost less than $7 ( I believe it costs Rs.9 in India and that $1 = Rs.46 now) and that a plate of Biriyani will cost not $11 but $3.

Anyway, fools will rush in and so did we when we soptted something that looked like a restaurant and called itself 'India Darbar'. Deprived of biriyani, this place seemed like manna from heaven when we found Mutton/Chicken and vegetable biriyani on the menu. We immediately ordered enough to feed a family of four for a week. When the goras in the next table sniffed and wept because of the spice in the food, we satisfied ourselves, that we were in the right place. Somebody got a chicken sizzler and our appetite soared. Politeness was all that stood between us and the kitchen door. Then somebody walked towards our table carrying food...

The rest they say is called anti-climax. What lay on my plate was rice and mutton gently sauted in meat masala. Gone was the Basmati rice without which biriyani is indispensible. Gone was saffron and even the smell of rose water that I detest so much in biriyani was missing. We could not eat it. I still remember some people weeping out of shock. We ordered tandoori chicken and given that our expectations had sunk to a new low now, it was quite good. We drowned dinner then, with some decent chicken curry and peas pulao (that's what they called it, but it was actually rice with some green peas thrown in for effect) and naan (I suspect it was a pre-cooked naan, but it was edible)

Nearly $80 the poorer but still not wiser perhaps, we left for home. Our initial mission from which we strayed so much was to find a place where we could get Halal meat. This we did not get. Seems to me, there is sufficient reason therefore, so set out again next weekend for another place from where we can hope to get a whiff of India!!!