Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Name Is Khan. Yes. The Fillum...

So I watched MNIK today. After various attempts by me at diverting attention from this possibility (like organising sporadic protests against SRK, recruiting goondas from a small gang called the Shiv Sena to attack theaters or, at the very least, tear up film posters), in a wonderful shock-and-awe type attack this morning, my Ma cornered me and said, "There's a show at 1:00, then 2:30 at the other cinema. I asked everybody and no one's free. Tsk. Sigh. Oh ho." *puppy face* *sad eyes* etc. And that was that.
In spite of the blatant untruth of her statement (Really, Ma? You asked everybody? IN THE WORLD????) what choice had I? The fact of the matter is that if Ma said, "Aaj tak maine tumse kuchh nahin maanga hai, par aaj mangti hoon..," she would be right.
So off we went, just the two of us. To catch the 2:30 show if you must know. I cheered myself up on the way by playing songs from Ishqiya and Coke Studio. Also, I had only four asshole driver encounters on the road which was way below the Jammu average for a 7 km run. Hence, no road rage.
Film started at 2:40 p.m. We emerged from the hall at 5:20ish.
Let me cut to the chase. Here, in brief, is what stayed with me after:
1. MNIK is too long. A good half hour too long at least, and draggy and slow in places. I must have looked at my watch about 10 times in between. That is a sure sign the film isn't great shakes.
2. SRK didn't piss me off so much. That is not as much as I was expecting him to. (That annoying grin and perfunctory hamming per movie? Not there!) But still, weak research by the writers on Asperger's is quite apparent in him throughout.
3. Kajol pissed me off way more than I expected her to. *shriek!* *nasal* *artificial cute* *shriek!**Miss Snooty Know It All* *shriek!* You get the picture. Her character was lame and irritating to say the least. They didn't even try to make her likeable.
4. The story/plot gets weirder and more incredible as the movie drags on. The hurricane nonsense was epic. By the time we see a 20-something-year-old fake Obama at the end, I was ready to find leprechauns under my seat. Exactly. No relevance.
5. Songs: Meh. You must be kidding. Nothing to write anywhere about.
6. The Mussalman thing: Surprise, surprise! I liked how it was done. For once, a little realism in the depiction of Muslims on screen. [Erm. Except for the gold ring that SRK's character always wears... Maybe no one else noticed it, but to a Muslim (and he's quite devout in the fillum, spouting Hadith and whatnot) it's quite obvious.]
I liked the simple fact that the hijabi women were shown as they would be dressed in the States. Sonya Jehan is especially easy on the eyes. I liked that they show she wants to wear the hijab, not that she's oppressed or browbeaten into wearing it.
No nonsense misquoting or outright mockery of Islamic rituals. Just a quiet periodic reinstating of the fact that the protagonist is an Urdu-speaking Muslim brought up like most regular Urdu-speaking Muslims and you know, some habits stick with us. We all know Surahs, a little hadith, stories of the prohets, simple prayers and whatnot. We say salaam alaikum, khuda haafiz, inshaAllah all the time. It's part of our daily lives.
Don't know how it goes down with non-Muslims. You think it's too much? Let me know, please. This could be interesting.
7. Waste/Annoying characters: Quite a few, as in all KJo films.
8. The kid who played Sameer [boy, this name is getting famous] did good.
9. The background score: First let me make it very clear that I cry easily at the movies. And so, yes, I cried a lot, okay? And not because of exceptional acting or beautiful emoting or brilliant dialogues or anything. Oh, no. It was the damn soaring music swells and crescendos! I'm telling you. Give me tragic music in scenes involving mothers and kids and nine times out of ten I'll cry, whether it's actually worth it or not. Mother-child relationships shown in extreme close up is the key to waterworks. And this movie didn't even have great mother-child scenes. WTF!!! Oh, that reminds me: that SRK's ma lady- she did good too, for the few minutes she was on screen.
9. SRK-Kajol chemistry? FAIL. What chemistry? Damp as a damp squib. These two can look good together admittedly, but in MNIK? Ha ha. Nothing doing. Yes, so SRK has Asperger's and can't do emotions, but then his character is more emotive than Kajol's so what's that all about? Her role is so badly written. *rolls eyes* Seriously, much more could have been done with their relationship which, in the film, was about as exciting as lukewarm tea.
10. FTW moments: Barkha Dutt cameo (!!!), policeman doing the 'I'm watching you' fingers-to-eyes thingy (!!!!), open house terrorist recruitment in posh mosque (heheheh, this took the cake), the whole Georgia episode, the 'perfect murder' of Sameer - until emotions get the better of kid next door and he spills the beans etc etc vageira vageira vageira. So many of these gems in all KJo movies.

The movie, through all the nonsense and ridiculousness of the plot, manages to put its point across clearly I think: That police departments in the US are not big on sensitivity training. Ha ha. I jest.
No, MNIK wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be, which speaks volumes about the power of low expectations. For once I didn't feel like hitting out at a director because he made Muslims look like jerks or apologetic or defensive about everything. Also, for once I didn't feel like hitting SRK on the head. With a blunt object. Repeatedly.

And yes, in fact there ARE only two kind of peeps in the world: good and bad. It's that simple.

(I would like to mention that I do have this terrible headache ever since getting back from the cinema. And that doesn't happen when I like a fillum.)

Acting: Kajol- go back into retirement and stay there please; SRK, Jimmy Shergill, Sonya Jehan - good enough; kid Sameer, Ma - v. good; others - who cares
Story/Screenplay/Dialogues/Plot: Starts off okay and spirals down quickly into utter rubbish.
Background score: Exploitative and over the top. Damn you.
Camera work: Pretty as usual
Mussalman angle: Musslamans like me get it and are not offended by it. The question is, when SRK chucks stones at evil doctor in mosque and says, "Shaitan!", will anyone else get it? :) [Refer 'stoning the devil' ritual performed during the Hajj.]

PostScript: Movie experience made more unenjoyable by random cell phones going off around me, random people answering these cell phones and then proceeding to have conversations on them, a group of young jerks cackling every time a black person came on screen, making loud remarks during quiet scenes (one girl in particular annoying me to extremes) and general rude behaviour of the common man in cinema. Thooo!

PPS: Hilarious and brilliant MNIK reviews by The Vigil Idiot and Fake Bal Thakre. Go to!
Here's The Great Bong with his 'Making Of' version.
And here's an interesting article by Mariana Pinto, whose son actually has Asperger's.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Great Bong Book Giveaway!

Book Kumpteeshun, more like.
All of you should know that the Great Bong is none other than a chappie called Arnab...Ray.
(Got worried for a bit? You thought it was Arnab Goswami, no? No.) It is Arnab Ray who is a writer of funny things.
Here's how you can participate in the contest. Go to the competition page on GreatBong's website where you will find that you can win a copy of his (yes, his very own!) debut writing treat, known as May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss!

The rules (more details on the contest page):

1. On your blog, provide a link to:

2. Go to the comment-space of this post and post your blog’s link so the Great Bong can go and read it.


I'm tagging: Basically Blah, IyerMatter, Good Gawde, 8ate, and Simply61 to take part and spread the words.

Here are my Top 10 Hindi fillum lines, in no particular order of awesomeness.

1. -Neeche aaja, betiiiii!
-Oopar aaja, motiiii! From 'Seeta Aur Geeta'. [Hema Malini, I love you.]

2. Yeh Teja Teja kya hai, yeh Teja Teja? - From Andaaz Apna Apna [ROFL! Crime Master Gogo]

3. Ab... goli kha. *dhishkyaaooon!* - Sholay, Gabbar Singh [No explanation needed]

4. Anand marta nahin. Anand marte nahin... - Anand [*sniffle* What. A. Fillum.]

5. Bhole, maana ladki romantic aur forward hai, par hai to khandani. - Padosan. [Yaahahaahah! Kishore Da, you are something else.]

6. Aap mere liye jagi? Aap mere liye jagi kyun? - Hum Aapke Hain Kaun [Many more cringe-inducing dialogues in this classic from beginning to end]

7. Maine cheerharan ka idea drop kar diya hai. - Naseeruddin Shah in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro [Epic film, epic scene]

8. Aap police officer? Haaaaaahaha! Aap police officer nahin, foolish officer! EEESHHHH! - Golmaal [The whole movie is brilliant like this. Utpal Dutt, Amol Palekar awesomeness]

9. Daaga! Teja! Yeh karoron rupiya doosri tabaahiyon aur barbaadiyon ke kaamon mein lagaate raho. - Mr India [You HAVE to admire Mogambo's simple work ethic.]

10. Voh mein mast tel mein fry karke khaa gaya. - Hera Pheri [Babu Bhai and Chaman Jheengawala - How can you go wrong?]

So many other jewels to pass up on: Chupke Chupke, Chaalbaaz, Lamhe (Pallo!), Angoor etc.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Operation 'Relocate Ram'

That's 'ram' as in rhymes with Sam, not Ram of Ramayana fame.

Here's what ensued, in chronologically arranged pics :

Confused? Flabbergasted? Can't believe your eyes? Ha ha. Allow me to explain:
1. Latta poses with Ram #1, a ram.
2. Basheer and Bagh Singh position themselves good-naturedly on wall separating our lawn from neighbours'. They are going to 'receive and deposit' the package, viz. a ram.
3. Latta hoists Ram #1 onto shoulder in one fluid motion and prepares to hand him over to the Wall People.
4. Package (ram) is secured and comforted by Wall-Peeps. "This too shall pass," they say.

In the next unphotographed sequence, Latta jumps over in to the adjoining lawn, and receives Ram #1 in similar fluid motion as while giving. Ram #1 is let loose to eat, sleep and swing as desired unto the end of his days....

Same sequence of events follows for Ram #2, who unfortunately did not receive any footage.

Please note that none of the animals used in this stunt were injured in any way, nor were they photographed without permission. They were embarrassed, yes; they were shown dramatically what the phrase, "There's always a first time" meant; they were thoroughly nonplussed by all the hoisting-gitching.
But were they hurt, injured, put through agony and such? No. We village peeps like animals, you see. Pre- and/or post-humously.

Here's the back story.
We had brought home a couple of rams prior to Eid. They were supposed to graze and live the last few days of their lives happily munching on neighbour's grassy lawn and flowers. Said lawn even had an awning-ed wrought iron garden swing, of the kind seen in romantic Hindi fillum scenes (or at least appearing in b/g in all the rich peeps' houses). Something like this.So anyway. If the rams were in any doubt they were going to live the high life (before they were eventually brought to their heroic end as juicy kebabs-see end of post), the swing should have settled the matter.
[To pre-empt you asking, "Hey! Why should the rams feed off your neighbours' lawn and not yours?!!! WTF?", let me add that our neighbours had long months past quit Jammu and moved to Delhi, entrusting to us their gate and house keys in exchange for a solemn oath of protecting it against intruders, burglars, trespassers and natural disasters. We promised confidently on all points save the last, and they, looking at the thing reasonably, understood.
Gate keys being in our possession, we were eyewitness to the miraculously lush growth of grass and the proliferation of wild flowers in their lawn like a NatGeo documentary on the monsoons. In the absence of hours of daily gardening, Jammu lawns tend to outdo themselves and aim for jungle-like hauteur. Such was the case with this lawn. It was tooooo much. The flora had to be restricted. Enter: fauna, viz. the rams.]

Now. Herein lay the problem. Neighbour's gate keys had gone on a tour of the city in the left front pocket of our houseboy, who wasn't going to be back for a while. The rams had arrived and were anxious to get started. They smelt the berserk grass. They smelt the wildly insane flowers. The saw the huge padlock on the gate. They noticed the high wall separating our property from the neighbours'. They bleated something derisive about the "Good fences make good neighbours" ideology. In short, it was a tragic scene.
Suddenly, the indefatigable practical good sense that lies in all sons of the soil came to the fore in the person of my father, and his right and left hand men, the good lads of Breswana. These were farmer-folk, animal peeps, and more importantly, physically strong lads.

Had barbecue party a few days later on Eid. Fun. Also, delicious.

Wasn't this story interesting? Please write in to with what you think.

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That's all folks.