Categories
cinema

BOGIE AND BACA AT THE MOVIES:VEPPAM

Baca: too much of heat don’t you think?

Bogie: what?

Baca: Never mind, have you seen the heat?

Bogie: Of course, wait a minute. Whatr do you mean heat. I live on the shores of the hottest desert in the universe.

Baca: Not that ‘heat’ dear, the movie. Michael Mann, De niro, Pacino and some banks.

Bogie: Yes Yes, now I remember. Wait a minute, what’s that gotta do with this film?

Baca: This one’s called Heat too, but only in Tamil.

Bogie: And it’s not even a remake!

Baca: You would have wanted it that way? Let’s not jump to conclusions dear, after all she is a debutante.

Bogie: and the producer voices the elder brother Balaji! He really thinks he has a powerful voice doesn’t he?

Baca: Oh, Gautam Menon I didn’t notice, but not all men are endowed with a voice like yours. He is just trying his bit

Bogie: I sense sarcasm; you haven’t heard me do my east London accent

Baca: But you don’t have an east London accent, dear.

Bogie: Nor do the people in this movie. They look to clean to be from the hut-ments.

Baca: Hmm, yes and even Nithya Menen’s voice seemed dubbed. But the film does have an interesting premise. But not new, we have seen father-son rivalry movies in the past haven’t we?

Bogie: Baca, those were the only type of movies which were made during the late seventies and through the eighties. Rajnikanth and Bacchan sr made their careers by hating their on screen dads who ends up being the smuggling king pin in the end.

Serious Movie goer 1: Now don’t talk so fast, we are the watching the film you know.

Bogie: I am Bogie, I talk fast. If I talk any slower I would be Maria Callas.

Baca: Now now dear, we are not here to pick up fights.

Bogie groans at the beginning of yet another song, Baca meanwhile uses te bright lights on the song to polish her nails.

Bogie: Oh not another song, please. Dear God and they become rich in the song. How is that?

Baca: that happens with every movie trying to impress every single person in the hall.

Bogie turning back to look at serious movie goer and asks.

Bogie: Hey kid!, You like these songs?

Serious Movie Goer: The songs are peppy, but quite distracting.

Bogie: peppy! The words people use these days, i think this movie would have worked without these songs.

Baca: Let’s just give the kid her due, it is her first film, what did you expect? Lawrence Of Arabia?

Bogie: You’re just partial because the director is a female, it is an attempt of worth but there is too much of this ‘we are showing the underbelly of the city’ mood that puts me off. Prostitutes, drugs and the whole works.

Baca: Now you don’t talk about that, just scroll down your wiki filmography.

Bogie: Now leave me outta this, I don’t think it is fashionable anymore to fall in love with a prostitute, is it?

Baca: It does move the picture farther and Karthik Kumar seems to be the best actor in the movie, too bad for him and I mean this as a compliment.

Bogie winces at the climax, the violent end was not new for him but most around him agreed it was laughable.

Baca: Could have been better

Bogie: Much better, with a story and some humor

Baca: Oh, why do you hate the movies so much?

Bogie: I don’t hate them, I have been in them.

Baca: I love you too.

Categories
fiction

News of an Abduction #5

Six

“Lime Juice” said Maran looking around those people dressed in wet raincoats sipping hot tea. It was raining and it was a dirty place, the detective was thinking about the missing boy and the dead girl. He could break into anything; he searched his mental archive as to how detectives in movies cracked cases. Only a little while later he realized that these stories were scripted by smart writers. If this case had been a screenplay, at this point some anonymous source would throw an unused matchbox with a hidden message which would ultimately end the case.

It didn’t make sense, The Mangals were not as important as they thought to have their son to be abducted, if there were any internal squabbles they weren’t anything major.

And at that moment of thought, Maran was interrupted by a mobile message. It was the message that broke the case and swept the remaining pieces under the rug.

“Mangal boy returned home, no clue on abductors. Come immediately to Mangal household.”

It was a telegraphic message from inspector Daniel. Maran quietly finished the lime juice, he should be happy but he wasn’t. It was still raining.

 

 

Categories
fiction

News of an Abduction #4

FIVE

The terrace above the state mortuary seemed like a nice picnic garden; Daniel devasaghayam inhaled the cigarette with much ease.

It was the day’s first cigarette, Maran stood in silence thinking about the girl below.

“who was she? From where did she come from?” those two questions looped his mind along with the image of the thin girl lying there calmly. There might have even been a hint of a smile, he imagined between those thinly pink lips.

‘That girl should have been in school, she ended up in a dump, hungry and dead’ he said to himself.

****

Unlike others writers who thought that smoking accentuated their string of words, E.L.Somu sat in his wooden chair cursing himself and that burning thing in his hands.

“The one reason my story this Wednesday will not be as good as the one last Wednesday is because of this” he used his other hand to point to the cheap cigarette in his left. He was saying this to a young reporter who had been asked to profile him in the ‘men yet to receive proper credit’ column. He hated such things, so did the reporter.

E.L.Somu was a rare breed, someone who taught himself to write and someone who did that with elan so much so that his weekly serial appearing in the “BEST CRIME Weekly” was a rage, it had become too bigger a number so much so that the usually not so forthcoming English press thought him worthy of print.

E.L.Somu wrote his first story in 1981, it was an 11000 words rant called ‘Give me your heart and I’ll get you his Brain’. It was nothing like anybody or anything had written. Now when serious university wallahs write pages and pages about the works of E.L.Somu they mention the audacity in ‘Give me your heart and I’ll get you his Brain’.

E.L.Somu still wrote in Best Crime, he was one of the partners and had helped found the longest running crime fiction magazine in south asia. Every Friday the paperbacks would find their way to the newspaper vendors and continued to sell like what they used to before internet came into existence.

“In spite of this entire newfound appreciation sir, there is still a section of the critics who think that your books are nothing but sex interrupted by gun shots.”

That was Imran, the features reporter for the Madras Mail. He was trying hard to be neutral in the interview and not for a moment confess with a shaking of a hand or a sheepish request for an autograph saying “Big time fan, I am”

Big time fan he was, most of his family read these paperbacks before the rest of the world. His father owned Dawn Newspaper & Magazine mart on the corner that turned to the Royapettah Clock Tower.

E.L.Somu knew this question was coming, he never had to face much of interviews in the past but whenever people came up to talk to him, sex was somewhere between the third or fourth question. The first and second would be about personal well being and the Madras Heat.

He offered Imran one more cup of coffee and smiled while he thought of an answer.

*****

The Girl now had a name, Kuyil. A police station south of Chingleput had received the distress call and the inspector there had grudgingly sifted through the missing files and found the match.

It would be the most important day of his life, dutifully the inspector along with his two constables informed the sole living relative of the girl.

It was no new story; the father had no recollection of his daughter. Drenched in locally made spirit, it took some time for Lorry Driver Kannayiram to realize that his daughter had indeed been missing. He had two other sons, both working under him. Stealing sands from the dry river bed, the daughter did not matter to him anymore. If Kannayiram had chosen to speak the truth he would have confessed selling off the girl after a deal made at the wine shop.

****

“Which book does not have sex, you tell me?” E.LSomu questioned back. It was the only response he culd come up with, the writer was proud of his sales but always had that nagging feeling in his head that the books were sold only because of the fact that lewd descriptions and people in compromising positions were well liked by the public.

“Take a look at the epics, if you want. If Ravana had not looked elsewhere, there would have been no Ramayana. Similarly the curiousness of the immature Kunti proved to be an important factor in the course of Vyasa’s epic. Life is such; it is after all a quite basic requirement for human beings”

Imran wrote them down like a fifth standard student writing down important questions for a weekly test, not that he didn’t agree with what E.L.Somu had said, but these were questions on his pad and he had to ask them.

Categories
cinema

The week that went by

Some minutes into Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara(ZNMD), to be bride Kalki Koechlin announces that her would-be Abhay Deol and his long time friends would undertake a final bachelor trip across Spain and each one of them would choose an adventure trip and that the others would oblige. For all practical purposes, that is the entire story of Zoya Akthar’s second attempt in wielding the megaphone.

If Luck by Chance was a tongue in cheek look at cinema with a cheeky title, ZNMD is a lighter look at life itself. Kabir, Arjun and Imran three friends drifted away by years reunite for a long unfulfilled wish. The class differences between them are established poignantly by the choice of wardrobe and class of travel.

Hrithik Roshan plays serious Arjun, the London Stockbroker who dreams of a laidback retirement life but only if he works hard now. Parental issues and writerly dreams haunt the funny Irfan expertly played by Farhan Akthar While Abhay Deol plays the buffer between the two and has problems on his own.

The film has very little to do with adventure sports but more about the protagonists finding out what is the best way to lead a life, the film succeeds in that attempt without being preachy. The scenes in which the boys overcome their fears are inspiringly shot.

Each of the characters has their own part to play and not one bad apple could be found in this barrel of a movie in which acting is uniformly good. Worthy of mention is Katrina Kaif whose sweet candy beauty has been used unlike before to portray a free adventure seeking spirit and Kalki as Kabir’s suddenly possessive girl friend.

The expanse and culture of Spain accentuates the sequences, as do the laugh out loud funny dinner conversations between the boys. Shankar, Eshaan and Loy deliver a solid soundtrack to Javed Akhtar’s lines.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is an interesting watch and will occupy a proud place in the lives of Zoya Akthar and crew. For never have the sounds of hugging and patting backs made more sense on screen. No, I have not seen Dil Chahta Hai.

While on the other hand Deiva Thirumagal suffers from the over involvement of everyone in the spotlight, consider me in the insensitive bracket but I find that most films dealing with the issues of disabilities are very much the same. It is similar to the underdog sports story in which we know right from the moment we look into that poster,what will happen in the end.

People not unlike us, seems a viable artistic option for directors out of filmable material and one more excuse for the lead actor to come up with an ‘award worthy’ performance. If directors are willing to take up the task of educating the public on the issue of autism, then a proper documentary seems to me at least a better option in achieving that goal.

Deiva Thirumagal begins in a hill station where Krishna played by Vikram is one of the assemblers at a chocolate factory. It is quite known that he has the intelligence level of that of a five year old, his wife dies during childbirth and thus begins the man’s battle for the custody of his child against a villainous father-in-law and a ‘I don’t know what i am doing in this picture’ Amala Paul.

The long and winding subplot involving MS Baskar, some stolen chocolates and suspicions of infidelity did not work at all, if its intention was to make us laugh and the indifference of the father (Sachin Khedekar) towards his elder daughter was quite un-fatherly even by cinematic standards.And not forget, that spark of love between lawyer and client introduced so that Anushka and Vikram can have a song together.

There is not that likeable tension and fiery debates between lawyers usually seen in films which conclude in the courtroom. Anushka Shetty is adequate as Anuradha the down on luck lawyer who takes up Krishna’s case and there is the ever dependable Nasser. Santhanam lights up some moments with what is given to him.

I was probably one of the few, who walked out of the theatre with dislike. No, I have not seen I am Sam.

Categories
Books cinema

The harry potter retrospective

On the end of Harry Potter and why it still remains an inerasable part of everyday life.

Now, it was like yesterday. I remember climbing the helical staircase of Ega theatre to watch the sorcerer’s stone. Harry Potter was a big thing even then, I was just waking up to it. Suddenly everybody seemed to talk about the boy wizard and his wizarding friends.

Now I am quite slow in the head, the present tense of the statement would also clearly indicate that the past was also true, I was slow even then. My first harry potter was the third, meaning I had picked up the book after much conversation with the toothless pirated bookseller near LIC that this indeed was the ‘first’ in a series of books.

Only later and due to the  literary knowledge of one of my friends did I come to know that I had in my hands ‘the prisoner of azkaban’ and that was not the first book. As mentioned earlier, I did see the first movie and had read the third book.

The early years of this century has been infested with harry potter fans, no I do not mean that in a pest sort of way but you have to agree there still thousands and thousands of them, it was also the time I was in school.

School largely meant doing the things others were doing, if one were to draw parallels between my life and that of harry potter then they would nothing in common. I completed reading the third book and embraced the other three books initially because of the fact that I would be included in the fan movement which debated hotly on the future of the series, picking favorite characters and presenting essays on lesser known ones. I also got to be part of cool games such as harry potter word building which required an almost scholastic knowledge of everything in Hogwarts and surrounding areas.

Suddenly everything was harry potter, my reading was limited

to enid blytons and three investigators before that and i fondly remember the latter but i must confess that harry potter must have been the first ‘propah’ work of fantasy i would have read.

In between the release of the fourth and fifth books i read the first four again and again, if it were true i was only reading them. HP Fan fiction also ruled during those days and that was also when my introduction to the internet came, and along with every savored visit to the net café came the need to read through them as well.

I tried some on my own as well, in an English examination at school. I remember getting zero as well, “it is improper and answer to the question, and not to your fantasies” was what the teacher told.

When the fifth book finally got released, it was almost built up to become a ‘read or die’ situation, my father would have nothing of it, he didn’t care what the order of the phoenix meant or what it members were up to. So I was not one of those ‘lucky’ boys and girls who stood in line or had pre-ordered, some weeks later I read the book but I remember being not so impressed when Sirius Black had been killed off to prolong the series.

From the fourth book onwards, Rowling was in a serial killer mode. I do not know if it is a result of inborn genius or some advice from the publisher, some main character had to be killed and Sirius black had been one of my favorites, that is where I truly believed that my dislike for the series began.

Until then what I had viewed as a literary roller coaster ride had transformed into a commercial giant trying to sell everything and anything it had to offer. In the years that followed fans would buy themselves unusable broomsticks and fake scars along with the usual mugs, lockets and mini figures.

There were also the fans, people who were till yesterday been members of the intelligentsia for me had become buggers of stupid lore. I had become like a communist who had lost his faith somewhere in the middle, but I didn’t become disillusioned but I had discovered Tolkien’s Lord of the rings sometime earlier and my time was spent more in Gondor and Mordor rather than in Privet Drive or the forbidden forest. Fortunately my love for LOTR has not diminished and my patronage should require a separate post.

I still saw the movies; I had given away my earlier collection of HP books and had refused to read the final book although people had screamed into my ears what would happen.

“Hey, Harry does not die in the end”

I knew something of the sort would happen anyway, a hero does not die even if he should; he doesn’t.

I wouldn’t call myself cynical of the series, but it was time to move on.  At some point the series had become an adolescent coming of age story and the innocence in magic had been replaced by carefully laid set pieces to seemingly explain characters and their motives, this is however not how hardcore potter fans see it.

The movies on the other hand manned by executives from the Warner Company have almost never failed to deliver an entertaining film, which is what the children (at that time and even now) have expected, because the target audience for HP has always been the pre-teens and for the people who are more or less Harry’s age and there is no logic in expecting a critically acclaimed or a niche film. I know of certain people who have only seen the movies and are satisfied with what they get.

Moving away from Harry Potter in this age is quite a difficult task, the branding and the commercial and peer pressure for the series is such that you can compare yourself to a prison inmate you can choose to be one among a million prisoners or join the dwindling warden population. One can easily by the wave of a hand discredit any literary merit in these books of magic, but one reflects his/her kind by doing so, but i can still hold on to my views and not irritate others by imposing my choices of literature.

One can also easily blur an initial fascination for the series, I still have an email id which says Dumbledore and that is not because I am not able to undo a selected username but in a way it represents the surroundings in which I grew up, whether I like it or not.

This is the end of Harry Potter at least on screen, and I am quite relieved for the seduction of the innocent peers will reduce considerably, nobody will ridicule you for not knowing who Mundungus Fletcher is or what the concept behind the horcrux is.

I find no guilty pleasure in reading harry potter and I am happy that I see no change in my decision in moving away, so there is no betrayal of emotions. I am happy that it all ends and I go back to my dirtied copy of the Lord of the Rings.

Afterword

The opinions stated in this article are entirely my own.