Thursday, 30 June 2011

The devil in me is yawning - Shaitan Review

Just because I don’t watch afternoon soaps doesn’t mean I don’t have an appetite for evil. I do – which Shaitan, unfortunately, fails to satiate.
I was expecting unhinged, unhindered evil – as wanton as Dev D’s character if not worse. But what Shaitan offered was evil that played out within our comfort zone, rather than the edges of reason.
It was irritating to find every act of evil justified with a past or a purpose. The devil in me wishes Bijoy Nambiar had done the following:
• Instead of having a bunch of silly kids acting desperately, it should have been a gang of youngsters plotting premeditated acts of evil.
• Killed Tanya (Kirti Kulhari). The chilling act of betrayal became quite thanda once she came out of danger.
• Shouldn’t evil win over love if the movie is called Shaitan? Zubin, ideally, should have taken advantage of Tanya’s vulnerability. Instead, he is a man with a warm heart – and even he doesn’t die in the end. Sigh!
• There was class differences in the gang – Dash and Tanya were strugglers, while Amy and KC were born rich. Bijoy made fleeting references to the class politics but not explored it enough to make the audience feel uncomfortable.
• Amy (Kalki Koechlin) is poor Amy with a tormented past. When a large part of me was feeling sorry for her, how could I call her The Shaitan? (However, I am grateful that Bijoy let her go scot free in the end – at least there was some injustice that provoked and disturbed me.)
What I liked:
• The pace. The movie was gripping till the end
• The soundtrack – especially the Hawa Hawai remake
• Rajeev Khandelwal’s taut acting
• The novel, naughty way in which the kidnap plot was introduced – using Udaan’s Rajat Barmecha as the narrator, who crumbled the happy-undivided-family filmy formula along the way
Inside info: I was wondering what the random parallel story track of Inspector Arvind Mathur’s (Rajeev Khandelwal) failing marriage (and the painting) was all about, until VN enlightened me. It turns out to be Bijoy’s revenge against his wife Juhi Babbar who walked out on him, taking with her an expensive painting that he had invested his entire savings to buy. He clearly doesn’t seem to have got over his loss.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The politics of sympathy, and other outbursts

My pulmonologist recommends that I look at it as nasal conjunctivitis. This isn’t a medical term; it is a philosophy. It means that I must cough and wheeze without expecting any recovery for three days till the infection wears off.
My cough is not new. I get it once a year, for at least 15 years now. My pulmonologist gives it a new name each time I visit her – Sinusitis, Rhinitis, Nasal Polyps – but I know it’s the same bloody cough and it is always just as bad.
Like I said, it usually occurs once a year, but this episode is the second in four months. I am not so worried about my cough, as I am about the significant drop in sympathy.
My last illness attracted much pampering – I got sick leave easily, my boss was kind, Conscience Keeper called often to check, friends came to visit, the maid was helpful, and I got all the time to cough, rest and read books. Coming to think of it, this is how it would play out each time.
But now I have caught the infection again, much too quickly. My throat is throbbing, my tongue is white, my nose is choked – but none of my suffering is getting any attention. My pulmonologist didn’t take a blood test, not even an x-ray. My boss cold-shouldered me and reminded me of deadlines when I was on sick leave. Conscience Keeper called once from out of town, and willingly kept the phone down when I said my voice was weak. My friend said oh-no, and changed the topic. My sister laughed. Good R told me online that even my ghost is over-saturated with my cough tales. The only one I can call is K, but he would accuse me of giving him a virus that cost him a 1000 bucks.
Now I have put this lack of sympathy to the diminishing law of returns. Nothing is as profound as Economics. Not even philosophy, I tell you.


So I finally found a willing shoulder to cry on, or rather cough on (thankfully, online!) a while ago. # gave me some insights on Americans. Below are his opinions, and his opinions alone. I am not going to tell you if/ when/ and where I nod.

Me: i am trying to understand the politics of sympathy
#: ah
#: a cold or a fever doesn't garner as much sympathy as a dead pet cat or a dead pet dog would garner...
#: even worse, cold or fever would only make people loathe you...
#: as if you did it on purpose
#: so - kill your non-existent pet dog and take a sick week off
#: these guys don't take an off because they are sick...
#: worst to worst, they'll work from home
#: more important things are car repair, some house repair work like electric work... or some kitchen modeling work
Me: that works eh?
#: yup! It will not only will garner you the much needed 'sympathy'

PS:You make me think, #, you seriously do.


A choked throat and stuffed nose makes me creative. How else can I explain a creative writing assignment finally completed, a blog post (this!) and the deep observation shared below:

“I am grateful that lady’s-fingers don’t socialize with potatoes.”

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Mostly Harmless

I am not sure if and how the two are connected, but we do seem to discuss death quite often during office hours.
The other day, K and R had a lively argument over the headline of my obituary – ‘Present-Continuous’ or ‘Gone, Finally’ - which reminded me of what Conscience Keeper said about Appa: ‘Mostly Harmless’. Douglas Adams can make me smile even at the funeral of the most important man in my life. Appa was mostly harmless, if I choose to forget how he announced my life’s worst grade (12/100) to a gathering of relatives; or when he told a friend to leave one evening because he had to sleep. Appa rarely lost his temper, and nothing disturbed his peace of mind except investments, home loan interest rates and doctors. Coming to think of it, these were harmful enough.
Amma always tried to market him as a strict head of family, a ploy that never worked with me. During my journalism days, I used to get back home at midnight after evenings of work or merriment, to find Amma waiting at the gate, with a frown, high BP and the Appa-is-Very-Angry warning look. Almost always, Appa would be found snoring inside.
I always feared losing Appa. It could be because of the shock of white hair he had since I was a child (which turned black in later years thanks to curry leaves. No seriously, it did!). Or maybe because of Munshi Premchand. Now when I think of it, my anxiety was unnecessary. He lived a healthy life for 69 years of his life, never visiting a doctor – not even a dentist! He loved walking, and could comfortably walk ten kms, from MG Road to Jayanagar, until two years ago. He drew a lot, making endless sketches of Goddesses, elephants and Tamil heroines. He knew he wasn’t good, but that didn’t stop him from being vain. Anybody who came home was made to go through his latest sketches. He was quick in picking up languages – he learnt to read and write Kannada after he moved to Bangalore in 2003 – and loved to experiment with musical instruments, including a veena (stuck together with cellotape), keyboard and flutes (which he made from steel pipes).
It’s been six months since appa died. I miss him most when I am riding my bike, when my head is inside the helmet. I have started taking a bus to work.
Sometimes, I struggle to shake off the memories of his last days, when he, in denial of his spreading cancer, tried to live. But I know that to remember him like that is to do grave injustice to the happy, healthy life he led. So I try to think of his broad smile, his quiet ways and the crispy dosas and ghee-dripping Mysore Paks he made. I continue my arguments with Conscience Keeper over his resemblance to Rahul Dravid Vs Kader Khan. All these, I find, strangely comforting.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Scribble of the day: Want: A Social Gathering

The house is clean, the flowers are fresh, the fridge is full.
I HAVE to have a party tonight.