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The importance of being irreverent

DELHI BELLY

 This article might or might not contain spoilers, buy what is there to spoil anyway? It also contains a trailer, which is not safe for children but wont cause any deaths.So long.

If Ashutosh Gowariker had directed Delhi Belly, it would have been a sad tale about three youths struggling in the capital. The critics would have lauded it; they might have even packaged it to the Oscars. We are happy no such thing happened.

There is no dearth of serious movies in the country, even the ones which are intended to humor us do not help us in stretching any facial muscles and then comes Delhi Belly, and behind the screen of Tarantinoishness it is a truly funny movie. So true to its core that it raises the long criticized toilet humor and expletives (not forced) to a higher level.

Humor is a product of intelligence, whatever type it may be in and the reservation that only a certain type of humor should be encouraged is curbing creative thought.

Delhi Belly is a path breaker in many ways, in an age where comedy is stuck in semantics and the antiques of Akshay Kumar. The driving force of the movie is the peculiar reactions to time tested situations; take for example the love revenge rant by Vir Das. A typical sad situation in other movies becomes the laugh out loud ‘Ja Chudail’ in writer Akshat Verma’s hands.

For people who haven’t yet rushed to the theatres Delhi Belly begins unceremoniously in New Delhi airport with a smuggling racket, then involves three unassuming and wayward youths played by Imran Khan, comedian Vir Das and the funnier Kunal Roy Kapoor. Vijay Raaz makes the maximum use of his semi-erudite gang lord, the dress, the way he holds the mobile phone and how calmly he shows his irritation. Raaz’s Somayajulu is one of best villains in recent times. Worthy of mention is also the footloose journalist played by Poorna Jaggananthan.

It is time we made such movies, not compromising on talent just because it causes displeasure to the Sunday movie going family. It pays to be irreverent sometimes, you might burn some bridges back home but there is this undeniable possibility that you might find a whole new world.

And to top it all, there is Aamir Khan the producer who appears as a hybrid of the disco dancer and the gun toting crusader who gyrates with a smile to a psychedelic number; an antithesis to all the movies he has done before. Delhi Belly is an instantly likeable film; don’t please narrow it down to a ‘cult classic’. Hell breaking loose has never been funnier on screen.

AFTERWORD

An edited version of this article was submitted for a national news magazine, however it did not appear for obvious reasons.

The following trailer makes more sense than all that has been written above.

Delhi Belly : the trailer

Categories
fiction

News of an Abduction #3

FOUR

“Too wordy” said Maran as the video finished playing at the Mangal household. “Too wordy, but not lacking in emotional quotient; if by chance the abductor has a sudden change of heart you can attribute your success to the video”

Mr. Mangal was on the phone, a silver flip model now out of date, just like the Mangal family. For someone who had started out on a high note with jewelry but somewhere something happened and this branch of the family took to real estate. The best they could do was this two storey stuffy house on CIT nagar 2nd street. Now, that is where a small contingent of policemen was stationed. Ramesh Mangal was not the only child; there had been an elder brother. Elder enough to accompany daddy Mangal on business trips, but not elder enough to share responsibility. If this was a royal establishment, the press would have dubbed him ‘prince in waiting’.

Waiting he was on the mauve colored extra fluffy sofa set, looking up when Maran had said enough to make senior Mangal to cut short the phone call. The mother however was in no talking mood, she was crying.

Daniel tried to improve police-public relations by bringing the family to form an incomplete circle, Maran stood in the middle as always.

“Now, it’s been more than a day. We on our end are doing all we can and we have been asked to do more than what we should normally due to your husband’s contacts in the government” Maran said looking at the tear wiping and nose blowing mother. Even at this vulnerable moment, Daniel thought Maran should have avoided the wit, so did everybody else.

“Normally, there is a ransom note or call. Nothing has arrived, even the video seems ineffective. I fear…” he waited for an opportune moment but none came so he continued.

“I fear…these people want more than your money”

The only lady in the room understood what Maran was choking on, it was undeniable that young ramesh mangal could have been killed.

*****

Officer Selvam had to have some tea before swallowing what he had seen. From the garbage mound, he constrained his eyesight to focus on a tea shop some yards away.

Selvam had immediately called for backup and being part of the force told him that it would take more or less another hour; the dead were not an emergency.

He looked at the squatting man, a brown street dog probably of royal descent but bastardized through the ages lay curled near him, in a protective sort of manner and ears at the ready. Thirumalai was a garbage monger close to the age of seventy. But the poor do not count their days and since when he can remember he had been a collector of glass wares in this dump behind the Government teacher training institute and he had never found a dead little girl, never.

Sipping the tea, selvam felt nothing. The usual smell of the tea was missing or his nose had gone numb to the smell of the filth. He did not care, this was bad. “Dead little girls are not a good omen” he said with creepiness, the tea master in his green towel could say nothing but agree.

“Long before this place was allocated for garbage, there was a temple, someone told me” said the squatting man.

“A minor temple, not built in stone or wood but sand. I don’t know what happened to it, if we see through this dump we might find it”

Selvam maintained a sarcastic silence and turned to the tea master, who was listening to the squatting man.

“He doesn’t speak much, this man” the tea master said pointing to thirumalai. “But when he does he speaks the truth”

**

Not far away, in the house of Mangals the telephone bell rang. Tension prevailed for a few moments, but the house breathed when they found out it was a girl.

Categories
fiction

NEWS OF AN ABDUCTION #2

THREE

A video loaded as Maran emptied the coffee cup, an irritated constable sat at the screen, the local inspector sat in silence cap by his side with one hand on balding head.

“Why did they have to go public?” the inspector asked around. The remainder of the khaki population in the small Saidapet station kept up the silence; it had been almost a day since young Ramesh had gone missing. Still not a word had gone into the file, now the video had turned up and someone from HQ had seen it and alerted Maran and the police station.

Maran liked to think of himself as some kind of guardian angel, but what others thought of themselves rarely reflected in others minds, perhaps he still had a standing after the break through in the bomb scare case that originated from North Madras and went up to the Sansad Bhavan, that had  brought him some press even from Delhi. But hardly the poster boy image of the Madras Police, he had of himself. For superiors and colleagues he was the self destructive and striving, stinking mostly and grudgingly indispensable detective. For his juniors, he was someone who smiled at everyone, known and unknown and at all times of the day.

 

 

The video was a public call out for help, it showed a mother in tears and a grim and serious father in the background appealing to the public, to report any findings of the boy; they also held up one of his recent pictures and descriptions of his school uniform. The final catch was however in the statement that father said out quite loudly even if the recording equipment was adequate, that was the only thing he said and that was the amount of money the family was willing to pay. There was no mention of the police, the inspector still had his hand on head in mock shame.

“It is not something we should worry about, unless of course the boy has been kidnapped” Maran said, he had expected more or less the same thing when briefed about a new video.

“Don’t you see sir, they have no faith in us; they want to find the boy themselves, let us all take leave and go vacation then” retorted the inspector, if it had been some other detective standing there, the addresser would have suspended for insubordination.

“It’s been 24 hours, Daniel naturally they would be worried and no ransom note yet, we will have to put a man at their place to regulate the response calls” Maran said, he suddenly observed that he was the only one in the room in colored suits; it had been a while since he wore the uniform. Lucky, he said to himself.

 

Not far from the police station, someone had not been quite lucky. In a mountainous garbage dump, a dog found a girl. A dead girl, aged twelve.

 

 

 

 

Categories
fiction

News Of An Abduction

 One

The black rubber shoes made the brown stagnated rain water to cause a flash, the shoes moved slowly and lazily. Their movement indicated a lack of interest to return home especially after tiring but intense football game.

It wasn’t exactly a ninety minute game but for twelve year old Ramesh it was exhausting but the need to play more still persisted, wiping previously unnoticed sweat the boy stepped into that small street the smell of which accentuated due the slow dripping of heavy rain drops which were just beginning to reach the earth.

The street wouldn’t be preferred otherwise, if only it had not offered a cut in time to reach the rows of bungalows that stood on the far side, barely visible from Ramesh’s school.

Unknown to the boy, a van waited in silence. The occupants closely watched the footwork of the boy lost in thoughts about the football game, it was not his fault  even an adult would have failed at noticing the van in that weather. It looked perfect for a long spell of rain, and perfect for the kidnapping of the school boy.

 Two

Detective Inspector Maran stretched his legs in his medium sized living room; he called it the ‘TV’ room because the only thing he did there was to watch television.

It was a couples program, the one where the anchor goes around in a much neglected theme park and asked creepy couples, their opinions on love and their favorite movie. The short interview was often followed by the latest hit song which somehow also happened to be the favorite song of the suddenly bashful girl.

Maran chuckled, all channels had such a show on select evenings and he missed them not. He liked them; he especially liked to look at the expressions of lovers coming into the open; the boy seemingly brave and open and the girl still under the shadow of fear from her household.

According to Maran, the show acted as a tool to bring young lovers into the open, he secretly wished that the channels would do a follow up on the couples and whatever happened once their parents got to know. From experience he knew, or he thought he knew the sons and daughters came from not so liberal families. He chuckled even more, the things people do for love.

The mobile phone on the ornamental teapoy which looked alien to the surroundings came to life.

Read Part Two

Categories
cinema

Green Lantern

GREEN-WASH

Ok, now some amount of recollection was required as to what was the first scene from Green Lantern. It was an introduction to the cosmos according to the comics of course. First there are the guardians, typicial brain coming out of head aliens sitting on high, sorry very high seats with superman’s cape stitched to the bottom of the universe. The guardians are responsible for everything that happens in the universe except of course the guarding part which they silently gave it to the corps in green.

There are some idiosyncrasies that need to be addressed with respect to Super hero movies, like for example, how is it that English is spoken throughout the universe? Aliens portrayed in the film, highly evolved and cerebral all speak English just like the terrorists in a Vijaykanth film who are versed in Tamil.

Next to the abstract things, I have never understood the exact meaning of abstract maybe it is one of those words which people use now and again, like metaphysics and existential. One shall never know what these things mean, the comics are (ok not all, most) are based on the simple set piece of good vs evil.

In Martin Campbell’s Green Lantern, the good vs evil is morphed into not so better sounding ‘will vs fear’. The power of the Green Lantern corps are entirely based on the will of the universe, umm then if there is the will of the universe why do we need the guardians?

Anyway, Ryan Reynolds stars as Jet pilot Hal Jordan, like every other super hero he must overcome his past. I like that phrase ‘he must overcome his past’ that generally means the hero had seen his parents being shot, like Bruce Wayne. But then that is reason why he became a vigilante in the first place: to remove the scum from the streets of Gotham.

We cannot also elevate Green Lantern to a planet-hopping Batman, because he seems have this ambiguity thrust upon him. Everybody complains about Hal Jordan, but on what issues is something I have not been able to zero in on. His father’s death seems to have a permanent scar on his life, but it isn’t as driving as to him becoming a super hero all of a sudden.

Elsewhere, a fear gobbling monster called Parallax is threatening the end of the world. The ‘this is the end of the world’ situation seeds the heroism in our Hal Jordan who becomes part of the Green Lantern corps and how he tackles the situation forms the rest of the film. Yes, and before I forget, there this the irritatingly beautiful Blake Lively as aviation mogul in waiting Carol Ferris and predictably becomes the love interest. A sudden shimmer in a under drawn character, and the usual geeky computer expert cum confidant and the mad scientist also playing the second villain when bored.

Apart from what I thought was formulaic, there are certain moments which stand out. For example the sequence when Green Lantern first flies, that always seems to work. The moment where someone learns that he can fly, even though it is something that has been repeated it always seems to work for me when they come up saying ‘whoa, I can fly!!! Yeah!”  Also is the undercurrent of sarcastic wit coming from Ryan Reynolds.

I have not read the Green Lantern comics and my views are based on what I have seen in the film, maybe followers of the comic might appreciate the film better and help me understand it. When I walked out of the theatre I felt that the film itself had some problems on liking itself, everybody wants to like Hal Jordan but at the same time for some unknown reason everybody stays away. It is indeed tough to completely like something that has problems with itself, just like that friend in high school whose only weaponry were self pity and self pity alone, and yet you have no option but to sit next to him.

I am as undecided as the film itself.