Monday, December 31, 2007

Best of 2007: My Opinionated Takes

Blogging Rule #32: You have to give away Best of the Year awards on your blog.
Blogging Rule #32(a): The awards have to be opinionated.

I thought of having some gyaan on movies, books and food. But then, I realised I have been out too few times this year to make any sense.
So, here I am with my list of my favourite blog posts of 2007 - in no particular order.
They are here not only because they are from my favourite blogs but I need to compile them at one place so that I can go back quickly and read them whenever I feel like!

116 Moonlit Nights: Megha's take on my favourite song is almost as beautiful as the song itself. What more can I say?

And if you think that was the definitive Bollywood post, there is one even better from a banker who - when he is not pontificating about cigarettes and existentialist angst - is a closet Bollywood buff. For all the hyperbole, excuse me please.

The Calcutta Post is from a Bong, who is not too sure if she is a ghoti or a bangal. But then her Adventures of a Bengali Bride At Her First Pujo is loaded with acute observations and deadpan humour.

My friend, Anirban, and his wife, Sujata, started their blog this year and debuted with a post on Raag Darbari. To my mind, that was a stunner because writing on Hindustani classical music accessibly is as rare as it gets and this deserves a huge audience.
And then, a couple of weeks back, he wrote An Ode to New York. Essential reading for anybody who has been exiled from Calcutta.

Nandigram would easily be the Most Searched Google Keyword from Calcutta this year. So much has been written about it that it is very difficult to make sense of the whole sordid affair. One post makes eminent sense - with just the right blend of fact and opinion.

Amitabh Bachchan has competition. Not in acting but in comebacks.
In late 2006, an Indian cricketer turned logical reasoning on its head and decided some Australian jerk was not going to decide when he was going to quit playing cricket. And while he was playing the sublime shots on field, a lot of people wished they could say "I-told-you-so".
One guy could - and came up with a magical post on a magical comeback.

Most blogs are started on a whim and most posts are written in a hurry - in an attempt of get immediate thoughts 'on air'. In this situation, it is such a pleasure to have somebody taking pains to unearth rare gems for the interested.
Dipanjan translated a Ritwik Ghatak interview - definitely the longest I have come across - and put it up. Apart from the fact that it is a very well-done translation, it is a complete travelogue across Ritwik's turbulent life and times. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

And finally, it has to be a large dose of nostalgia. Though Nilendu took off the rose-tinted glasses I use to look at the past and came up with a deadly recap of our college days. He is brutally honest and has an elephantine memory so it is rip-roaringly funny. And to protect jobs and marriages, he is not taking names. Except mine. In one episode, he calls me Vinod Kambli and in another, he accuses me of “vile, dishonest, corrupt and blatant subversion of power” in another. All three parts are required reading, nevertheless!

And I just realized that all but one of the bloggers mentioned above are Bengalis. I don’t whether that can be attributed to my partisan behaviour or general superiority of my race!

On that controversial note, let me wish all a Gr8 2008!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Phenomenon

In a major road of South Calcutta - Rashbehari Avenue - there is a very famous shop for Punjabis. Before any wrong ideas set in, let me hasten to clarify that Punjabi in Bengali is actually a kurta. The one you wear with a churidar or a dhoti. The answer as to why a kurta is called a Punjabi is hidden in etymological obscurity so I will not digress from the original objective of this post.

Well, the famous Punjabi shop is called Kimbadanti (meaning, The Phenomenon). And on the signboard, the by-line reads: Kimbadanti - Punjabi Jagater Ek Obishshoroniyo Kirti. And quite helpfully, the English translation is also noted - An Unforgettable Achievement in the Punjabi World.

Very close to Kimbadanti, one more shop has opened (presumably for quite some time now). And it calls itself Badshahi Kurta-r Opratidwandi Durbar. Literally, An Unparalleled Durbar of the Badshashi Kurta.

I was wondering that in other parts of the country, adjectives like Unparalleled and Unforgettable are usually used to describe things like Bhakra-Nangal Dam, Dhirubhai Ambani and Rohit Bal's Fall Collection.
Here, we accord the same respect to kurta boutiques!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Baby Products I Endorse: Diligent Candy's Tag

This is a belated post on a tag given by Diligent Candy on the baby products I endorse.
Gah! Since She-Who-Cannot-Be-Named-On-This-Blog is the other taggee, I guess I have become an expert by the Halo Effect. On one hand, GreatBong and Nilendu exchange notes on 1980's Zee telefilms on my blog. On the other, I am supposed to talk about baby products I use and endorse... Whatay identity crisis, I say!

Anyway, here goes...

Pigeon Wet Wipes is a dad's best friend. Evidence of any mishap - intentional or otherwise - can be literally wiped out with this wonderful invention, which is surely the most time-saving item of daily use.

As for diapers, Pampers beats Huggies hands down for no other reason but the fact that they have velcro fasteners. So, you ask? Well, for butter-fingered dads (like me) and super-acrobatic kids (like my son), getting the fasteners to fit the diaper is a game of trial-and-error. So, having a reopen-able diaper fastener ranks right up there with mobile telephones as the most momentous invention of all times!

Clothes - anything goes. And goes fine. And goes a very long way. I have yet to see an item of baby clothing which has got torn before it was outgrown.
And also because, we never bought a single piece of baby clothing. We just have millions of thoughtful friends and relatives, who have flooded us with the best brands of the world. But frankly, I am a bit of a klutz and could never make out what constitutes great baby clothing. Baby Levi's is really cool and I find it hilariously funny to see the Red Tab on a baby bum!

For the educationally inclined, books NOT made out of paper are recommended. I find that kids below two years need to sit on a page to get to the edge and turn it. Paper just cannot withstand this tensile force! So - cloth books, plastic books, squeaky books, water-resistant books, titanium-coated books are all what the doctor ordered. Again, content is not king.

Baby Einstein books are something everybody seems to be impressed by for their very 'with-it' attempt to teach colours with Impressionist paintings. I am, however, not very sure how much the kids understand these subtleties. Their TV shows are again very well-produced but may just appeal to adults better!
My son, for example, likes any book which has lots of textures. And any TV show that has rapid changes of colours and lights. That includes Tom & Jerry cartoons (now being reviled for 'excessive violence' by New Age parenting gurus), Disney shows (now being questioned for 'lack of educational content') and Bollywood music videos.
I guess all the fun stuff is getting stamped out in the hurry to win the rat race!

But the magic of Bollywood and its greatest star is there in the air - and catches everyone.
On SET Max a few nights back, as Dock Labourer No. 786 fought Peter and his goons, my son stood mesmerised. He watched unblinkingly - with an occasional gasp! During the particularly thrilling parts, he turned to see if I was watching and pulled at his own hair. At the end of it, he went and sat on the AC stabiliser. Had there been a table to put his feet on, he would have done that too.

MM forbids TV watching for infants. DC feels children below two years should not watch films. But yenna rascala... what to do?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Author Count: 2

I am slowly but surely edging into into the Celebrity Circuit.

About a month or two back, a friend published her first book of poems and that too, by the Sahitya Akademi - no less! When I met her after the Delhi launch, I was too tongue-tied to ask her even if it was the same Akademi, which awards Vikram Seth and Anita Desai every now and then. Considering that Mr Seth was also awarded for a book of poems, she is obviously in august company.

Now, another ex-colleague has published his first book. When he told me about this about a year back, I assumed that he is going the Chetan Bhagat route of lad lit and would come up with a tale of a MBA who sells soap in Bihar (which he did)! Evidently, I had underestimated him. He is actually going the Deepak Chopra way.
A self-help book for the 'Dil Chahta Hai' Generation (as he calls it) is fantastically priced and is likely to be available everywhere you would hope to find it. He is a FMCG marketer, after all!

So, I know two authors and very soon, I will be standing next to them at an art exhibition, holding a glass of white wine and talking about our long association.
Actually, I know one more celebrity who is big enough to have been attacked, her site vandalised and sent into hiding temporarily! But I cannot name her. As it is, more people come here looking for her than for me!

Where Else In the World...

… do they name lodges and eateries after famous novels and poems? (Saw Aranyak Bar & Restaurant and Hotel Ruposhi Bangla on VIP Road)

… do they question flight landing announcements with a philosophical detachment? (“Nemey ki hobey? Shei to ekgheye…”)

… do they make TV serials from hundred year old classic novels?

… do they have king size hoardings of the National Football League?

… do they play Bismillah Khan as piped music on Shatabdi Express?

Don't bother to answer. These are all rhetorical questions. I passed by The City.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bollywood Ka Boss: Coming Soon!

Bollywood Ka Boss promos are on air right now - and the show starts on 6 Jan (every Sunday). Apparently, Boman Irani is a Bollywood trivia buff in real life and the promos play on that really well. If the questions of the promos are anything to go by, then we are actually looking at a Mastermind on Bollywood!
Hurray!

Typically, Bollywood questions (whenever they appear on game shows and assorted contests) are purely knowledge-based. If you have seen Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja, then you know that the car which hit Akash Khurana was numbered 7396. If you haven't, then you don't have a hope in hell of answering this question.
Or, who was the first winner of the Filmfare Best Male Playback Singer award? Who knows? And who cares?

But if it is twisted a little bit and asked - Who is the first music director to win a Filmfare Playback award from his composed score - then the little grey cells come into play.
Think. Think. Think.
Who are the music directors who sang - RD, SD... Could it be SD for Mera saajan hain uss paar of Bandini... Could it be RD? Wait a sec, is Kishore Kumar a composer or a playback singer? Did he win any award for Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein? What the hell? Why are you going so far back? Isn't it Himesh Reshamaiyya who won it for Aashiq Banaya Aapne? Yes, it is.
And if you completed the above chain of thought in ten seconds or less, then you should have taken a stab at the show.

I was wondering on some interesting question possibilities, a lot of which cannot work out simply because there is no way to verify them.
For example, which was the Hindi movie to show the use of a mobile phone?
Haseena Maan Jayegi - which had Sunil Mittal's favourite song What is your mobile number? - did not show any use of the device, to the best of my recollection. And that film came around 1999. Of course, Deewana Mastana - with the legendary Pappu Pager and Munna Mobile - came even earlier around 1997. But no mobile usage, as far as I can recall.
Karan Johar, a director on the cutting edge of 'cool' in his movies, had no mobile phones in Kuch Kuch Hota Hain (1998) but had one in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001).
In 2000, Kaho Na Pyaar Hain launched not only Hrithik Roshan but also the humble green-backlit, black and clunky Motorola into stardom. The film actually used the mobile phone to further the plot! To my mind, this was definitely a first.
1999 also saw the release of Biwi No. 1 - which had Salman calling his home number from his mobile. I remember the movie released in June 1999, because it was the first movie I saw after joining work (in Chennai)!
So, I would put my money on Biwi No. 1 being th first movie showing use of a mobile phone - unless some one else can come up with a film released between Diwali 98 (that's when KKHH came out) and May 99.

Hai koi jawaab?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Seek and Ye Shall Find...

The technologically-challenged-me (apart from being terribly busy) is terribly kicked with a 'search keyword' functionality added to my blog. Which tells me what people are searching for as they stumble on to this blog...

The highest keyword search is Mad Momma. How come people come here when they can go to the real thing?

A random selection of the other searched keywords:

* Boy Mukherjee (Joy Mukherjee's elder son. Elder brother of Toy Mukherjee. I swear on
my Sarkar DVD that I am not kidding!)

* Horniest race (:-o)

* All movies of Divya Bharti (Hang in there. I am putting this on my to-do list.)

* Films of Rehana Sultana (It is Rehana Sultan, actually. One day I will write about the missing A of Sultan.)

* Has Shahrukh Khan got a brain tumour? (Aaarrggghhh... I hope not! In any case, how do I know?)

* Ganja party Calcutta IIM (I haven't been to one. Not in IIM, at least.)

* Yeh zindagi hai ek jua kabhi jeet bhi (Nilendu, call for you...)

* Cases of malaria in Chembur Mumbai in the month of Nov 2007 (WHAT THE FFFF...)

And the final one, which brings tears to my eyes in deference to the inquisitive spirit of the seeker...
Rape scenes of sonam in govinda's movie

I will be back. I will have to be...