Monday, August 09, 2004
First things first, I admit that this idea is in its stage of infancy and may not be practically implementable at all. Nevertheless, this blog is one place where I can open my heart out without worrying too much about the jeers and laughs that the idea might garner in its wake. Okay, so there are the comments...but honestly speaking, the regular commentators on this blog are people whose criticism is valued, too...so here goes...
The seeds of this thing grew much before IIMK came in my perspective, in fact, it was sometime in college that I thought of it for the first time. I have always been itnerested in debating my (well...actually, more of the opponent's) head off and so it was that in college, when I ultimately started officially handling the affairs of our Literary Wing, I decided to make an innovation. I wanted to make the debates more interesting and popular. I had seen Parnab Mukherjee, the quiz master and Reuter journalist, moderate a debate in the previous year. Developing further on those lines, I decided that I will make the debate a team event with various rounds. There was the idea of this one round where both the teams will send one person each to the stage and there will be a one-to-one debate between them on the lines of the Presidential election debates in the USA. To liven up the proceedings (and to ensure that I am not too far off from the limelight), I decided to moderate the event and add in my juicy comments as and where applicable.
Sounds familiar??? I know it would to all those who have seen The Big Fight on NDTV moderated by Rajdeep Sardesai and they will cast doubtful aspersions on the novelty of my idea. Be that as it may, my idea goes one step further. To give the credits where they are due, I must say that this idea came about after our orientation feedback session with Prof Uday Damodaran. While discussing one of the issues raised by the students, he told us about his idea of a club or group that will invite people from other walks of life than management to come and deliver addresses to the IIMK junta....people like Arundhati Roy, Satish Gujral and so on.
For all those who are still trying to find a relation between the two ideas, let me pass on some wisdom!!! I plan to invite these people to IIMK for a big fight with the cream of the Indian youth intellegentia (read IIMK junta). These people are going to come and defend any one of their deeply held philosophies (Narmada mission or America's role in destroying WMD in the case of Arundhati Roy, for example) against one of the IIMK students (chosen based on the debating skills and research done on the particualr topic). There can be questions from the audience as well to either of the two people on the stage. This will not only make the talk more interesting, it will also give a USP to the college which, I am sure will be remembered and talked about across the colleges of India.
I know that it is all castles built in the air but I am sure that it is not impossible either. Prof. Uday has already given positive indications about providing the fundings required for such a group and the basic idea of the big fight has already been implemented (both by me in college and much after that...mark this...by NDTV). So what am I looking for???
Like minded people with the enthusiasm to make this idea turn to reality
Even an iota of support from others who prefer to stay away from this
Support, of course, from the faculty, especially those responsible for the funds
Some time from our 'revered' teachers to carry out the work
I already have some possible names for the event...
Get your arms
Readers of the blog are free to add in their own names or other ideas for the events (these can be held at a monthly or bi-monthly frequency)
Posted at 12:41 pm by Nitai
Sunday, August 08, 2004
He will loot your money
Those are the sort of lines you can expect from the latest David Dhawan offering 'Mujhse Shadi Karogi'. Starring Salman, Akshay and Priyanka together for the first time, the movie has, if anything, got its cast right. The baseline of the movie, as might have been easily guessed by the typical trailer-surfer, is that thandi hawa ka jhonka Sameer (played by who else but Sallu miyaan) and The wicked Sunny (played by Akshay Kumar) vie for the affections of The full monty enthusiast Rani (played by Priyanka Chopra).
With the panditji predicting that Sameer will have a life full of anger where he will not spare anyone who goes against his will, the mood of the story sets in. Sameer goes on to beat up kids in school (luckily, the director was not inspired by one gun-toting kid in one developed country), and calms down only when one of his now-here-now-vanished friends recites one-half of a stupid jingle (???) to him, urging Sameer to complete the other half and thus forget his anger. For all those who are convinced that counting from one to ten is the best remedy to manage your anger, this one sure takes the cake if the protagonists of our story are to be believed. Let me see if I remember the lines...it goes something like this...
Chaddar ki kameez (???)
Lohe ka pajama (wow!!!)
Bandar tera mama (cool)
Kutta tera yaar (not sure but guess, it was kutta)
Billi teri mausi (doesn't rhyme na , I know)
Aam ka achaar (why...don't ask)
Aja mere yaar(ooof...over...finally)
Going forward, Sameer is seen beating up the goons who try to molest a scantily clad Amrita Arora roaming all alone in an indoor basketball court that seemed to be located in some kind of a garage (what was she doing there, for God's sake, you ask...haven't you left your knees at home before coming to watch a David Dhawan movie, I ask). Next thing we see is that the lass goes and gets married off to some Mika-types (remember Mika, the Punjabi singer...brother of some other singer...Daler???) Gentleman (some gratitude, what?), thus breaking the heart of our hero who decides to take up a job in Goa to cool off his heels, but not before he has promised his silver haired Dadi (played by Sashikala) that he will never get angry and fight again).
In Goa, Sameer meets a mobike goon of Eagles gang (remember Josh???), played by Rajpal Yadav, an astrologer (Rajpal yadav again), a landlord who has a different ailment every day (who else but Kadar Khan playing the boring routine once too often), his to-be love interest Rani and Rani's dad Colonel (played by Amrish Puri)...all in the order named above. The characters are all interesting in the fact that they are all incapable of any intellect...all of them live life and well...just live life.
Now, this Rani has an interesting habit of keeping her balcony window open while she does a lot of things in her bedroom...The full monty, Striptease...and what not. Now, can you blame our hero for falling head over heels (literally) for the lissome lass??? All is hunky dory till our hunk decides to take his foot to his big mouth and make a mess out of the simple exercise of saying 'Marry me' (it is so simple, David, isn't it?). He gets entangled with Rani's father, the Colonel of the Portuguese war and how does he get entangled...some of these incidental encounters are extremely funny the way they are enacted by both Salman and Amrish Puri. All this starts to get a little boring, however, and just when the interest starts to wane a little, in comes Sunny...aka the evil graha Shani for our hero.
Sunny comes, he sees and he conquers. He takes full advantage of the earlier discussed foot-in-mouth situation and woos Rani and his family away from Sameer. With a lot of other entendres thrown in like Sameer battling six Sunnies (Matrix, anyone???)...Sameer's name (and hand et al) getting involved with Rani's mother (and her pallu et al)...Sameer beating up the Eagles and their declaring Sameer as the boss...The kanta laga girl making a cameo, with this cameo conveniently planted by Sunny in Sameer's bed...Sameer rubbing the guard at his enterprise (played by Satish Shah) the wrong way, not knowing that he is Rani's uncle...and many other Tom and Jerry-sque adventures that make you cry with indignation and at the same time, laugh with disgust at the very silliness of it all.
The movie's climax, though a little hasty and awkward, tries to unite the two passions of Indians, cricket and Bollywood....what with the chaste Punjabi of Kapil paaji, Bhajji Paaji and Sidhu paaji...and the huddling up of some Indian cricket team members (you can feast your eyes (???) on Parthiv, Kaif, Srinath and Irfan apart from the ones already named). What really happens in the end...who actually gets the affirmative answer to his 'Mujhse Shadi Karogi' question...is for the mvie-goer to go and see.
As for the music, it is strictly on the okay side with one or two catchy numbers...the timing of the songs could have been better and more importantly, a few songs that were not dream sequences would certainly have been appreciated.
The performances from the lead pair of Salman and Akshay are superb in their timing and on-screen chemistry. They do make a dynamic pair and the game of one-upmanship does get off really well. Amrish Puri is tops, as always, restrained as well as comic to the hilt. The Yadavs (Rajpal and Rajpal) are good, too with the astrologer yadav hogging more of the limelight that the Eagles yadav. Rest of the performances are complementary and work well towards the purpose of this movie...which the director David Dhawan has once again, and with a panache...delivered to his audience...full time entertainment without your thinking caps on...severe headache if you want to take your head along to the theatre.
Posted at 02:40 pm by Nitai
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Of rains and the subconscious
I heard somewhere that it has been raining all over the country and what with all the flood stories that the news papers invariably carry in addition to the local 'strike' news, the tidings I got from the birdie seem to be true. The point I am trying to make here is that even given the nature of rains in different parts of the country, I am sure that very few places can match up to the glory of this place on the hills, especially when its pouring like this. The misty mornings (days???) give you that happy feeling in the pit of your stomach...as if you have been looking at the tresses of some very beautiful girl...jet black hair, falling as smooth as the way clouds move in the sky...shining as bright as the snow capped mountain peaks...the never ending fall of those black stars accompanied with the music of life...a symphony that thrills and even scares you...that soothes you to sleep and accompanies you to the ultimate realisation...oh, the glory of it all...the wind, the mist, the hills and the water pouring down...will it ever end...I hope not. Let it continue for as long as it wants to, don't make it go away for it is the reason why we are here, it is a celebration of our existence, is it not?
What the rains have done for me is that they have made me think and think deep (you might have guessed that from the post's initial few lines! :-)) I have been thinking about things that I normally keep on the back burner...happy things, sad things, generally things that can be thought about, lying all cozy and warm in your thick bedsheet or sitting on a chair in your balcony watching the rain splash your feet every now and then. It was in this mood that I came across the latest post on Priya's blog where she had written some of her thoughts (is it the thinking season???) on why we are the way we are. I don't have the patience and the time (have to go for dinner to the city) to write all that down again...might as well do that some time later...in the meantime, if any one is really interested (why...why not??? :-)) in my views on the subject, they can read my comment on her blog.
Posted at 07:31 pm by Nitai
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
A pi in the face of adversity
Piscine Molitor...one of the best swimming pools in Paris
Piscine Molitor Patel...son of the small time zookeeper of Pondicherry Zoo, and one with the most astonishing survival story.
Yann Martel exceeds himself and any other writers of a similar genre as he describes 'The Life of Pi'. The book is a treatise on so many things. It delves into the rationale behind zoos, the psychology of animals, the importance of religion and faith in one's life and above all, the life of a stow-away, the things man can be compelled to do...and so much more that after reading the book, the reader is mentally exhausted because of having to take so much in. Yet, the story doesn't drag, once it has entered its flow. Admittedly, the first fifty-odd pages move slow as we are introduced to the character of Piscine but as soon as the protagonist's nemesis, Richard Parker, comes into being, the complexion of the story changes completely.
Piscine Molitor Patel has been so named because of his father's friend who has this special affection towards swimming pools in general and Piscine Molitor in particular. The way the author builds up the reason for Piscine's name is truly creative and engaging...well, not while he is building it up, but absolutely captivating when the conclusion is reached, actually prompting the reader to go back to the text once again and re-read the build up. Piscine attends the local school where his name is changed to 'Pissing' by the kids and he has to endure many a bad days because of it. Finally, when he changes school, and is asked to give his name in the first class, he boldly walks up to the black board and writes clearly: "My name is Piscine Molitor Patel, also known as Pi. Pi=3.1417". This is how Pi is born and this is how it all starts...The Life of Pi.
Pi's father does not trust Mrs. Gandhi and her iron rule and as soon as the emergency grips the nation, he starts planning to get out of the country and move to Canada with his family. The nail is driven into the coffin when Tamil Nadu Government is taken over by the center and the Patel family decides to leave for Canada by a Japanese cargo ship. The ship also carries many animals of the Pondicherry Zoo, to be sold off in Canada and America. The story, walking at a leisurely pace so far, goes into overdrive as the ship, carrying Pi and his life, sinks, leaving only five survivors. Pi is one of them and the survivors list additionally contains a Zebra, a Hyena, an Orang-Utan and Richard Parker, a Royal Bengal Tiger.
Aboard a lifeboat, the partners in peril sail forth as the ship sinks beyond hope in the middle of the Pacific, with no one to turn to...no light to shine forth. Thereafter, the story is one of trust, faith and extreme resistance to adversity that Pi shows. With the hyena making short work of the Zebra and the Orang-Utan, Pi knows that it is his turn next...nut what he doesn't know is that he also has the company of Richard Parker, the tiger, who not only finishes off the hyena as dessert but is looming as a bigger threat to Pi's survival than the ocean and its vastness.
Elements of animal psychology are explained in detail as Pi decides to tame the tiger with tricks, treats and punishments. It is a game of upmanship, of Alpha and Omega, of the greater predator trying to overwhelm the smaller. Pi sustains...but at what cost! A vegetarian believer is turned to eating raw fish, crabs, worms, human flesh and at a point, even a tiger's feces. Pi and Richard Parker survive...the survival kit on the lifeboat helping Pi to live and let Richard Parker live because a Royal Bengal Tiger is all he has for company...all he has to let his hope live. In the middle of all this adversity, Pi does not lose faith and a firm believer that he is, he keeps praying several times a day...to pass time...to let his mind be free???
Pi and Richard Parker meet many things on the way...fish and turtle that turn into their food...another blind stowaway who tries to eat up Pi but is eaten up by Richard Parker...dreams and delusions that refuse to die away...blindness and absolute famine...a carnivorous island that burns and eats up all life forms in the night...
The story concludes as Pi's lifeboat reaches the coast of Mexico. Richard Parker gets off and without as much as even a goodbye, makes his way into the forest. Pi is saved by the Mexican villages and nursed back to life after a 227 days stint on the open sea.
On the negative side, the story does get to be a bit of a drag at times, especially in the opening part where we are introduced to the life of a Zoo and its inmates, about how Pi's faith is nurtured and groomed by people he encountered in his life and who became the shapers of his destiny.
Notwithstanding the above, the book proves to be a good reading not just because it is exciting and thrilling to want to know what happened next in a survival story, but more so because it describes the game of brain vs brawn. The insights into the enterprise of Pi and his immature and risky exploitation of the animal psychology, to try and dominate a tiger are absolutely fascinating. The writing style is good..with most of the story told in first person, the reader is able to identify with the thought process of the protagonist. There are flashes of brillliance in an even otherwise good story...especially in the last part where Pi is trying to convince two Japanese officers, investigating the sinking of the Japanese ship, of his story. The disbelief of the Japanese, their external politeness and internal mistrust, the satirical tone of Pi, the new story that he tells them that is so much similar to the old one and yet so much more believable, and above all, the final report of the Japanese...all make for some very interesting reading.
This book does deserve the Booker Prize (Man Booker Prize now) and I am glad I did not make a mistake when I gifted the book to one of my very dear friends on the basis of its reputation alone.
Posted at 10:27 am by Nitai
Sunday, August 01, 2004
The play was a mess...
I must bow down to them, the play was a real torture...
Next time onwards, don't let these junkies come on stage without audition...
What a bore...
What have you made these juniors do...
If you are wondering what all the lines above mean, these were just the critical acclaim that the play 'Dhanno ki Khoj' got from the IIMK junta last night at the freshers' party.
Unfortunately, I had the temerity to write this play and direct it, too. I should have done a better job out of it...the lengthy screenplay did not help at all. There was a lot to improve on the music co-ordination too...and most of all, I could not really get the things going. The play was cancelled a number of times before it finally went on stage in all its half-baked glory. But what the heck...we had fun...and so did all the supposed critics.
The best part was when in the end, amidst chants of "1234 band karo ye atyachaar", Tateja actually came up on stage and literally dragged Amar out of the stage...poor Amar, sitting all alone on his throne, playing the blind Dhritrashtra to the hilt...sorry, buddy but even I couldn't resist the temptation...I laughed my head off at the side of the stage. It simply was hilarious and much better than any scene in the play that we could have stage managed ourselves.
Well, on a more serious note...if you ask me what I really thought of it, I will say that despite everything and anything that the people might have said, I know that my cast did a great job and I am really thankful to you, guys. With the preparation (more accurately, the lack of it), you guys stole the thunder. The nahiii of Dhritrashtra, the shaking old man's voice of Gandhi, the absolutely outrageous costumes and hilarious performances of Pushmeup and Munia, the comic villainy of Kabbar and Fasana, the boorish Aloo, the crisp Chitlar, the accented Chinton...the Hakla Khan in his stammering style, the courageous final monologue of Dasanti, the style of James Tond, the one-shot daring of Dhanno and above all, the now-so-popular act of Bajgayee...how can anyone even dare to say anything bad about my cast...and who are you to pass judgements when you did not have the guts enough to come and perform yourself. It is so easy to sit and pass judgements but it is only when you come on stage with a preparation of half-an-hour and not even a single full rehearsal with the entire cast, that you know what it takes to get up and be counted. Once again, even though I am repeating myself, I am really proud of you guys, the show rocked...
Talking about rocking, the freshers' party rocked too, well...all of it except the food. I did expect a better quality of food at Taj but then again, with all the other sidelines coming up after the drinks were on, nobody was complaining. The drinks (not for me) and dancing (I did shake a leg or two) went on till three in the wee hours of the morning and when we finally reached the hostel, half of the people were puking and the other half too tired to even puke.
So here goes, another party at IIMK, where we work hard (no doubt about it...you just need to take a look at our submissions and quiz schedule) but party even harder...
Posted at 02:26 pm by Nitai