Thursday, September 29, 2005

Soaps and suds

Remix, Star One’s campus-based series, is hurtling to a close. Soon, Tia Ahuja will tell Ranvir Sisodia she loves him, Yuvi will win over Anvesha, the dreaded Pallavi will be got rid of, Raghav Dutt will stay on with his beloved students and everyone will live happily till the next season. In the meantime, this means a one-hour hole in my weekdays.

Star One is doing a really nice job of Remix, which is based on the Spanish telenova Rebeldeway. There is all that overacting of course, and the production values could surely be a little higher considering investment in sets and props is spread over a good many episodes – still, on the whole, I enjoy it enormously. They have at least a dozen main characters and manage to weave their stories in rather satisfactorily. Plus (which is big for an Indian soap these days), the series maintains an internal consistency of plot and characters. In fact, the nice thing about Star One is they do plan to end series, no matter how successful they are.

Incidentally, Jassi jaisi koi nahin was based on another Spanish series Betty La Fea, until of course, Sony gave them an extension just as the series was drawing to a close and the script writers went into a tizzy trying to conjure another year’s worth troubles for their protagonists. (Aside: apparently the music teacher they introduced a couple of months ago is now a lawyer, heh heh.) Sorry, that was involved; I was saying: what works for Hispanic cultures seems to adapt very easily to India. Still, it’d be nice to have some good original work.

Ekta Kapoor still rules Indian television, of course. It is alarming how seriously her brand of television programming has rotted the way this industry thinks. You can actually see how intimidating they find the young woman, both people who work with her and those who don't. I am amazed she holds such power, such influence. Good for her, but why the hell can't she use it to diversify her clutch of offerings - to include one detective series, or a cops-and-robbers, a legal drama, sitcoms…. If anyone can afford to experiment, it would be her. Isn't it lousy when people who can, don't?

Two series started off trying to cock a snook at the K brigade – Jassi and Yeh meri life hai. If Jassi was about an ugly-but-efficient working girl, Pooja whatsername was a Gujju middleclass girl, trying to overcome her accent and other people’s prejudices to become a filmmaker.
Both were refreshing and rather promising. Both failed to hold on to what they started with. With appalling lack of integrity the channels/producers have caved in to what they think is the ‘dominant paradigm’, with the result that they are now more loyal than the queen. The original storylines were completely derailed and we now have vampier vamps, bigger sindoors, with acid throwings and attempted murders every other day.
It’s a shame, it really is.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

On the prowl

Strongly moved to pump some money into the economy yesterday, and did a chakker of my favourite Parklane-MG Road-Paradise circuit.

Sangeet Sagar disappointed. No Raqs-e-bismil, no Megh - in fact they had nothing I wanted. Well, that happens occasionally but is too much to ask that when the man behind the counter emerges empty handed from rifling the shelves, he appear sufficiently downcast and conciliatory? Must he not hand you a notebook, ask you to jot down your request and assure you that he will call you the second your heart’s desire enters the store’s portals? This man merely hunched a shoulder and annoyed me considerably.
Nevertheless, I rewarded him with patronage – one Farida Khanum and a VCD of Gundamma Katha, the second just to round off my NTR/ANR collection.

Book Selection Centre was a better stop – just two books, though. Alexander McCall Smith’s The Sunday Philosophy Club. Shouldn’t have bought this one but I liked very much The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and one of the reviews on the blurb of this book said, ‘I would not have thought it possible that Prof McCall Smith could invent another character as wonderful as Precious Ramotswe but, in Isabel Dalhousie, he has.’ That settled it. Also curious to see how much of the No. 1… series was the author, how much Botswana, how much Precious Ramotswe.
Second book – The Complete Stories and Poems of Lewis Carroll. Early poems, acrostics, everything. Steal at Rs 195.

Another one

Purple rumped Sunbird (Nectarinia zeylonica) in my garden. You can actually see its head glisten yay yay. Notice how the leaves are in focus and the bird is not? That's my camera thinking for itself. Shall show mother these pictures to prove intent as well as blackmail her into allowing me to buy a Nikon D-70 or Canon EOS whatsit.

Monday, September 26, 2005


The birding trip to Rouriyal lake scheduled for Sunday was cancelled. Australopithecus and I are agreed it was a nasty conspiracy - it poured at 4.30 much resembling weather conditions Noah must've encountered, so trip was officially called off. Barely an hour later the sun was out, looking rather innocent. Hmph.

Rouriyal lake is beyond Charminar and Pahad-i-Shareef and I was rather hoping the lake would be full (we've had decent, decent rains this year, thank god) and that I'd be able to post a pic or two. Instead I have a few others that were lying about on my comp.

These chaps were on Radha Aunty's wall, bit hostile. Female most submissive.

Hyderabad's authorities are very fond of deer. There are at least three deer parks and this one is the smallest of them near Shameerpet. Very tame fellas - the keeper rings the bell and in they come to have lunch. Not exactly wildlife but something for us cityslickers to gawk at.

Found this insect in the garden at home - really liked the dry leaf camouflage. Don't know what it is - perhaps Kiran Katikaneni will know.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


you have gone, Ranaai
i erred, it is true
betrayed you, i admit
it was a slip
it meant nothing
but you do not understand

gone from these dwellings!
turned your back on those who love you, revere you
gone so suddenly from those who cannot live without you
left behind in these sordid rooms
where everything is just what it seems
there is no you

you cannot live with a rival so beneath your contempt
i can see that
you will not need to
i will banish her to the furthermost corners of myself
we shall not look upon her face
she will bother us no longer

we will live here, you and I
and not a shadow will fall

you have gone, Ranaai
it meant nothing
but you do not understand

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Flying Machine

The Birdwatching Society had an indoor meeting yesterday and Bio-physicist Dr Narsimha Chari came to talk to us about his research: Adapting bird flight to create a new kind of airplane that uses energy and aerodynamics more efficiently. Biomimicry of a kind, the subject is being studied in only about half a dozen laboratories in the world. 'If I had the funds, I'd bring you a prototype in three years,' Dr Chari says.

Amazingly, he's talking of solo flying machines, a personal flying car that will take you across reasonable distances. They won't be very fast - speeds are just about 150 km/hr, but think! Udan khatolas!

Dr Chari and team are writing a book about it - out in a couple of months.

this, that

Can't listen to anything that's not a qawwali these days. Nusrat, Sabri, Wadali brothers... sub-o-shaam. If I'd been 18 and stupid right this moment, I'd be packing to run away and join a Qawwali group.

On loop as I write is Rahman's Al maddath maula. A leetle cluttered towards the end, but I love love this song. Male voices raised in devotion.... oooh goosebumpy stuff.

Rahman was reportedly unhappy with the way this song was filmed in Mangal Pandey, but I couldn't see why they had it in the first place. Almost as if they found this in the bank and said, 'ok chalo, qawwali hai, ek item ho jaata.' Not good.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Nindiya aaja re aaja...

Lori special on Vividh Bharati's Chaaya Geet tonight.
How long it has been since I listened to this programme every night. In the dark, abed, snug in my razaai.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The windows

In these darkened rooms, where I spend
oppressive days, I pace to and fro
to find the windows. -- When a window
opens, it will be a consolation. --
But the windows cannot be found, or I cannot
find them. And maybe it is best that I do not find them.
Maybe the light will be a new tyranny.
Who knows what new things it will reveal.

--Constantine P Cavafy

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Salaam Namaste

Bollywood movies are brilliant timepass and I like to keep up. Most, however, aren’t worth a post-mortem so I don’t. But Footloose, cinema-companion of the past three years, has gone to foreign shores and is Bollywood-deprived. As for us, the phillum-circuit just ain’t the same. This for you, girl.


Salaam Namaste has a lot going for it – Yashraj as producers, the inevitable new director, bankable stars, a foreign location (so essential for a Class A Bollywood product these days), pleasant music and a ‘daring’ ‘story’ viz, a couple that lives together.

Set in Melbourne. Nick is a qualified architect/practising chef, Ambar is a doctor/practising radio jockey, going to be a surgeon. All very hip. They meet, spar a little, flirt a little. Five days after they’ve met, Nick, for some rather unconvincing reasons, talks Ambar into moving in with him. She does (nice, glassy sea-front house) and all is milk and honey for a while. Song: My dil goes mmm actually gives you a lilt. Very nice.

Three months later when Ambar starts making noises about “is rishte ko naam dena chahti hoon”, you know the honeymoon (for characters as well as audience) is over. Nick is anti-marriage and Ambar is pregnant (incidentally, what man ever has not reacted to ‘I’m pregnant’ with an ‘Are you sure?’) So it goes here: he reacts badly and it all (script including) goes downhill.

The relationship goes petty and rather screechy. However excusable the initial shock may have been, Nick throws himself beyond the pale by staying hostile for months, hogging the bathroom when she needs to throw up, letting her go to Lamaze classes by herself, and generally being stubbornly insensitive instead of extending some much needed TLC.

The change of heart comes about when she looks about 11 months into the pregnancy and he does too little, too late. Like escorting her to get a tub of ice cream in the middle of the night and doing one song (incidentally, Ambar is most sprightly for such a heavily pregnant woman, but let’s not quibble). Complications occur, characters embarrass themselves thoroughly (when oh when will Bollywood give up public declarations of love?) and the babies are delivered in a thoroughly ill-placed, mistimed comic scene (inspired by that Hollywood flick, I forget which) with a hysterical, inept doctor (guess who? Can’t have a release w/o him these days – no, NOT the Big B). Messy.

Saif Ali Khan and Preity Zinta are ok, I suppose – Saif certainly seems happy to be romancing this pretty woman without SRK’s ghost haunting them. Oh, Saif takes off his shirt a lot and there is flab! And then, there are ways to wear low slung jeans with underwear peeking and look cool, but that is not one of them.

One of my favourite actors, Arshad Warsi, plays Nick’s friend, and he made all the difference to the first half. Didn’t like Javed Jaffrey, but he got a couple of lines that were ticklish: ‘When in the Rome, do the Romans’. Indeed.

Final verdict: There is only one sentence to cover it all – ek baar dekh sakte.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Self Preservation 101

I wanted to say something and realised that it wasn't a terribly new thing to say - old as the hills, in fact. Since I've stumbled upon it, I'll say it anyway: Hate is a very corrosive thing. Verry. Avoid.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Pyar mein twist

What do you call a person who watches movies based on their trailers, actually believing that something cool will unfold? Sucker, that's what.