Friday, December 31, 2010

10 in '10

Its that time of the year when I scratch my head, toggle my brain lobes and come up with my list of favourite things from the year. This was difficult because - for various reasons - 2010 was not a very good year for me. My sister put it aptly when she likened the year to 'an ex-boyfriend whom you're happy to get rid off but can never forget'. 
This year's list is just a motley collection of 10 things that I loved in 2010 - in no particular order and in no particular category. Just some things I hope I never forget.

Do Dooni Chaar
The heart-warming tale about an idealistic school teacher's quest to double his wheels was also the year's most neglected film. I am yet to see it in any critic's list of the best of 2010. This is sad because it had a brilliant script, perfect art direction and wonderful acting.
And it had Neetu Singh.
In my book, it is better than Ishqiya, Peepli Live and Once Upon a Time in Mumbai (all of which are popping up in Best Film lists with amazing regularity). Watch it - if you haven't already. The film deserves it.

Love Sex Aur Dhokha
This is my Film of the Year. Period.
Written about it earlier. Watch the film. Buy the DVD (which has a lot of very cool bonus material). And wait for his next - Shanghai!

Sachin Tendulkar
In 2009's year-ender, I gushed about how Sachin gave me a birthday gift and knocked twenty years off my age. As I wrote that, I secretly wondered if he'd really pull his weight during 2010 and justify his foregone selection for the World Cup. With an ODI double-century, 2 Test double-centuries and 5 Test centuries, he is now our biggest hope to recreate Lord's 1983 in Mumbai 2011.
And in a longer tribute, he is a separate chapter in my book on the World Cup. I talk about Six (legends who have spoken about him), Seven (facts about him you probably didn't know), Eight (of his greatest innings), Nine (more records for him to break) and Ten dulkar.

Reality Shows 
Two reality shows - one old and one new (to India) - totally captured my imagination in 2010.
The old one was Indian Idol, the first version of which made me vote for a television programme for the first time and this time, the sheer quality of the participants made me hopelessly addicted to it all over again. The people who got eliminated in the initial rounds of Idol 5 are also doing playback for hit songs. The winner will probably be up for Filmfare Awards in a year or two. They were so good that I braved Anu Malik for 2 months for them!

Masterchef Australia showed us how interesting a food show can be. Without allowing us a taste, without allowing us to vote and without even happening anywhere near us, it had me drooling. As Adam and Callum competed with each other tonight trying to make 'Snow Eggs', I watched spellbound. And a little embarrassed at India's fascination with stars that made us put an ape-man as the cooking expert on Masterchef India just because he waited on tables in Bangkok.

Trivia
This year, for me, was a revival of trivia. What I just loved during my growing-up years (and wrote about here) came back to me through a variety of channels - online and offline.
It started with Brainiac - the autobiography of a man who won 74 straight rounds of USA's toughest quiz show, Jeopardy! Instead of being a narrow account of his record-setting run, it was a wonderful re-telling of the history of American trivia. I was hooked.
Then, I became a fan of Uncle John's Bathroom Readers - books of trivia that are sectionalised into one, two and multi-page articles (depending on how long you spend - ahem - on the pot). 
Finally, I am now hooked on to Mental Floss - both their site and their Twitter feed. I have bought two of their books. What's the Difference, for example, tells you the difference between Monet and Manet. I have even taken an annual subscription to their iPad magazine.
And those who are exasperated at stuff like 'Peru is the only country which can be written using only one line of the keyboard', blame him!

Screenplays
I have always marveled at the wonderfully produced screenplays of Hollywood films, with beautiful production stills, director's notes and storyboard snippets. I own so many of them - and I always missed Indian films in the same format.
2010 saw a healthy debut of the Indian screenplay - with Vidhu Vinod Chopra releasing the scripts of two of his biggest hits. Munnabhai MBBS and 3 Idiots were beautifully designed, had many unseen production photographs (including one of Aamir Khan as Hanuman, trying to solve a Rubik's Cube!) and held together by detailed interviews with the director and writer.
With Anupama Chopra soliciting suggestions on the films we would like to read scripts of, I am hopeful of seeing some of the best screenplays of Indian cinema coming out in this series. Satya, Deewaar, Sholay - slurp!

MIHYAP
May I have your attention, please? Thank you. Everybody knows I loved the book. So, I am repeating myself. Go and read the book.

Dork
It has been such a long time that I laughed out aloud reading a book. I did not expect usual suspects and standard targets like consultants, MBAs, television anchors would be made fun of in so many new ways as Sidin did in his first book. All the targets of his column & blog seemed to have become super-avatars in his novel.
And of course, Robin 'Einstein' Varghese is the super-superhero, who did not where to stop and I hope neither does the author. This is scheduled to be a trilogy  and I am looking forward to the Part 2 of Dork as much as I am looking forward to Part 2 of Ibis trilogy.

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron
This is the most predictably likable book of the year.
Written by the unpretentiously erudite Jai Arjun Singh, one of India's best loved films came to life in the cracker of a book. Moving like a comic thriller - not unlike the film itself - the book would delight fans with a treasure trove of trivia on the who's who of Indian cinema, all of whom seemed to have something to do with the making of the film.
One of my favourite books of all times is Anupama Chopra's Sholay. This book is in that zone.

Delhi Metro
And my final homage is to the wonderful organisation, which brought public transport to Delhi and completely energised my reading habit. With 22 stations to go, I have got 2 hours of uninterrupted reading time almost every working day for the last 2 months or so. Thanks to the Metro, I have gone through about 2 books a week and as a colleague pointed out, I have now diverted my petrol savings into Flipkart.
Oh well - but as my father said, reading books is never a bad thing.

To end the year on a positive note, let me put down a few lines from a classmate who writes simple, evocative poetry. I understand what he says and identify with it. Maybe, so will you.

You have mulled over the past for too long;
Yesterday’s morbid shadows have haunted
Your dreams and tainted your life’s happy song,
Till you have felt unloved and unwanted.

Get out of the dark, cast out the past too,
Put on your face that old forgotten grin:
Set out for fresh lands and discoveries new,
While you can still, strive for life to begin.


Wishing you a very happy 2011.  
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