Monday, July 31, 2006

weekend parties . kamla raheja gold medal

first the all nighter saturday night at mukuls place where a small get together for ak/mj with tejas, nishesh, shweta, mukul, ranjit, sonal and me which we spent sitting in the balcony overlooking the borivili skyline drinking smooth heady irish cream made at home. in the morning we woke to tea in the same nook.

the kelwan for adheem, my baby cousin who is marrying sharon a girl from bandra was a sunday lunch at pramod mamas place. it is always a pleasure to meet sunita maushi who is here from himachal and looking as beautifu as ever. chaitra and her kid anoushka were there too and so were all the other cousins including chinmaya and anuja who showed us the powerpoint presentation they had made in honor of their mothers 50th birthday. very cute.

i must say as an aside that i was most impressed with tony- sharons father who also came for a the party. adheem is so lucky to have a future father in law with a mohawk, a punk three column beard, a huge ear ring, gold chains on his chest and innumerable gold rings on all his fingers.

anand and me ran out of the madness for a good hour in the middle to hunt for tickets to see ‘omkara’. we needed 22 tickets and naturally only two or three were available in any of the theaters we went to. instead we sat with ak and had coffee at cac before joining in the general revelry again.

also on saturday the kamla raheja gold medal jury was held for the best thesis of last year. kalpit won the medal for his strange chemical mutations on falkland road thesis- well deserved, i thought. neha sabnis and namrata got citations. no real surprises here.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

scenes from friendships . 'scenes from a marriage'

splurging on the night life in the city with ak, nish and teja at the 'vie lounge'. a lit dancefloor and wooden flooring that hangs over juhu beach. two standing nooks jut out from between the glass walls towards the sea. the ocean was wild and wind blew around our ears. it did not rain, except for a few bursts of showers- we were lucky in that way; so much better than being cooped up in the more plush but claustrophobic interior. a great night out. later - in the middle of the night sitting on the more plebian ramp nearby and singing sentimental hindi film songs loud in the gushing wind.

i sorely miss this relationship with the sea that even though i work ten minutes away from it.

earlier in the day, ak and me finally managed to pick up the gumption to enter the egyptian fortress like ‘marriot’. the location of the coffee shop is in the triple heighted lobby overlooking the landscaped lawns and fake pavilions that are placed self consciously in the courtyard. there was no way to see the sea. the detailing was tacky though the setting was grand- like they ran out of money (or imagination) in putting the place together. the food was good though.

it’s a strange time nowadays with friends. conversations are circuitous and meandering, touching upon the same themes no matter what crowd i am in. after all there are people leaving everywhere. we speak in circles and in clichés - the words actually might have meaning but end up having little resonance. familiarity means that sometimes we can sit in comfortable silences, but the impending departure means that everything that needs to be said – must be said – now! as if a ‘later’ does not exist.

paul young had this album in the 80s from which that huge hit ‘every time you say goodbye’ was taken. it was called ‘the great lost art of conversation’. i wonder what that art is.

the banal everyday conversations of the couple in ingmar bergmans ‘scenes from a marriage’ get gradually more violent as the once happy marriage breaks up but are still not able to escape from the tedium and formulas of soap opera dialogue. things are said between the couple that seem to come out of the endless cycles of truisms that every relationship is described in. this cul de sac of words and the feelings that they describe ends up being the death of the marriage, but giving the love in between them a new lease of life. as if in the non-describable space of illicit meetings, ‘love’ escapes the trappings of bourgeois ideas of marital bliss.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

'pirates of the caribbean - dead mans chest' - 'hellboy'

spending quality time with ak meant that we saw a film at pvr today- together. ‘pirates of the caribbean- dead mans chest’. ak and me had seen the first part in nearby chandan when it was released a few years back. stuffed with more of the same as before i expected to be mind numbingly entertained by the new film.. i was, and then i was again,, and then again.. and again.. until the entire film became one long action sequence with hardly anything to tell the beginning apart from the end. and since there is a third part to the series even when the end does finally arrive it leaves you nothing much to take home.. except for a few gags and a really long swordfight. i would have liked a tiny tiny outline of a plot though.

like ‘hellboy’ which i saw again, this time on tv. the plot naturally has something to do with portals leading to other worlds from where evil beings shall emerge to destroy the world unless our hero can stop them. silly – but still a plot.

if i had superpowers i think i would like to be a firestarter. i always liked the human torch until the x-men film. liz in this film was cool burning blue fire roasting everything around.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

madh party at rauts

saurabh watching

prasad, prajna and sachin (with ubaid butting in)

another madh party.. this time a goodbye.

saturday night by prasad and prajna.

the geography of these parties remains unchanged. it starts off at the road where we can never seem to find our way to the location- the dark road where every turn looks the same, the only locators being the gruesomely huge rcc luxury palaces.

once at the place the first layer is the muddy parking lot from where we can barely recognize the silhouettes of familiar bodies backlit by the tubelight in the verandah ahead.

then the dancefloor, where we dance in the rain. the two sides of the floor is where the tired groovers retreat to.. to cuddle close to each other or to ponder over lifes unanswered questions. this time these conversations were even more ‘heavy’, what with new loves emerging and the separations expected.

then there is the verandah where the party generally begins. the waiting area before the alcohol gets you out into the floor and the place where permanent watchers like dnyanesh perch nursing their drinks. this is also the bar and the djs haunt. the music is vineshs baby and he lets a song play for about three seconds before changing the speed or cutting the chorus out, much to all our frustration. the food is also piled up here with paper plates and plastic forks. the chicken biryani is dependably good.

the inside room is the last of the main layer of spaces. here piles of mattresses lie waiting for various drunken bodies to fall on them. i have not, for a long time, waited long enough to sleep on them. and this time mukul drove us home- ranjit, sonal, chitra, sachin- and sonals friend nidhi from delhi.

vinesh - the dj


mukul, chitra, aditya

Saturday, July 22, 2006

cake party . new fellows

yesterday after a visit to the borivili site amit and mayuri came home. amits mother was there too. this is almost definitely the last tiem they will be in m,y house together. a cake and sandwich party was thrown in that honour, and lots of photographs were taken. here is one.

today in the fellowship juries ateya and lubaina were chosen along with a girl called zohra to be in college for the next year. its great to have fellows in college. so much more fun to hang out with than faculty.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Thursday, July 20, 2006

moving on the highway

"make ups" . make overs

still banned but life goes on.

the jenagir jani film ‘make ups’ yesterday in college. nine minutes of loneliness and longing for escape. carefully made, zeenat aman as parveen babi, preeti jain as herself mythified and a gay typist looking for love/lust at churchgate station. "masks and make ups to find our own utopias"

and in the evening amit, the consummate metrosexual, got himself a new look for his american adventure – his ear was pierced; he considered a tattoo at al’s in bandra where a many holed boy enthusiastically showed us around. the new look also consisted of a brand new blonde mane. while he went through the complex process of hair therapies i got myself a pedicure – for the first time. a strange woman touching my feet and i was embarrassed to death in the beginning. it was not long before my foot was no longer my own. for both of us it dislodged itself from my body and we were looking at it fairly dispassionately as she scrubbed and massaged it. it must be the only way for either of us to deal with the situation.

and in the middle of of the day, a cancelled meeting left six of us in the bmc canteen eating samosas and dhoklas overlooking the two domes of vt and the bmc building through metal railings in gothic windows.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

blog ban

i cant seem to access any blogs from my mtnl line. i can only post through but cant read the post. mukul has the same problem from his hathaway line, kuntal from his computer at home and the college lines also dont allow access. nowhere in the city have i been able to get to any blogs on
i have a feeling it has something to do with the bomb blasts- a form of censorship. the only other way to read blogs is through which was a web site built by pakistani bloggers to access their sites when the pakistani government banned access to them.
can you guys read this? if so send me a comment. i want to know who else can read this.
i am seething.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

the dark side of the heart . written on the wind

'the dark side of the heart' was a hallucinatory wet dream of a pimple faced twenty something who thought that having naked women cavort in bed while bad love poetry is recited over a droning soundtrack is good cinema. the storyline as it was sketched out had a droopy central character (definitely the film makers alter ego) who plunges into relationship after relationship with women hoping to find the one woman who can ‘fly’. yes its all very magic realism avant garde, desperate to be seen as ‘cinema'- making even peter greenaways pseudofreudian psychobabble of ‘the pillow book’ seem like tarkovsky. the one reassurance is that no matter what country it is, argentina or india, most men in their twenties have similar self centered silly delusions of grandeur about their pathetic failed love affairs.

‘written on the wind’ is the second douglas sirk film that we have seen. the first being the wonderful ‘all the heaven will allow’. rock hudson plays mitch - the overperforming perfect friend of a rich mans son called kyle. nothing kyle can do can ever be as good as mitch who excels in everything, academics, manliness; he even has the advantage of being born poor. kyle ends up being the drunk dilettante because it was the one thing he can do better than mitch- until he falls in love with lauren bacall – who makes a good man out of him. things get complicated when kyle learns that he cant be a father and when his sister plants suspicions in his head regarding mitch’s intentions. naturally a melodramatic and moving end follows. beautifully shot, wonderful characterizations – everyone seemed so human- and very touching. terrific.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

dinner and lunch

last night at the chinese joint near 'pop tates' malad, with tejas the survivor, mukul and amit. lovely mad fun with wine and long island not quite iced tea. it was good to see tejas after the fright he gave us all by shamelessly coming so close to being blown up by the bomb at khar. there is a fine dust of shrapnel in his hands and his back. the doctor is giving him pills to dissolve it. gruesome it sounds. its good to spend time with amit nowadays.. just three weeks until he leaves. its been more than 5 years now that i know him.

after a long time i spent time with prajna, rupali aditya, saurabh and mukul and prasad today. we met in the design cell and then went to 'new yorkers' for vegetarian italian and mexican food. prasad insisted on having a veg biryani and rupali was full of very sleazy double entendres. mukul clicked a classic couple snap that did the blue tooth rounds around the table just before the waiter jabbed me with a fork on the wound on my finger. i screamed. but its getting better all the time.

Friday, July 14, 2006

rockstar - supernova

i don’t know how many of you watch ‘rockstar – supernova’. a brand new american idol wannabe that so desperately wants to be seen as its inverse. the resurgence of the dark against the light. while the contestants in ‘american idol’ pander to what they assume are the tastes of ‘middle america’ – clichés of love and loss sung in a bombastic fashion and/or covers of so called “classic” pop anthems by pop iconic divas of both genders, in rockstar the target audience wears dirty t-shirts leather and blue jeans.

in ‘rockstar’ a supergroup is assembled from the leftover remains of defunct rock bands who vanished even before the death of rock at the hands of teen pop and hip hop. these icons (as they are manufactured for us by being reminded every two minutes on the show by another such leftover who seems to have found a second vocation as reality tv host and a chick in designer bondage chic) lounge about, legs on top of tables in true rockstar style and pretend to evaluate the talent of a bunch of lead singer wannabes.

the contestants belt out that particular brand of music that comes from a handbook of easy-to-use rock. the right names are bandied about; the songs that are sung have now all moved from being great to being ‘legendary’ ; or come from that school of soft core ‘bryan adams with guitar and soulful eyes (and longer hair)’ brand of what passes as rock. tonic, coldplay, keane.. the goo goo dolls.. basically ballads with guitar.

legitimacy must come from what passes off as ‘authenticity’ through trite phrases declaring homilies like ‘being true to yourself’, ‘expressing oneself’, ‘finding my own voice’. angst and rebellion are displayed like calling cards during a performance, and disappear as soon as it is over to reveal eager to please teenagers in fancy dress looking for approval of their particular brand of impersonation.

since the studio audience entirely made up of groupie-like girls looks doe eyed at the men and goes all 'girl-power' at the women, they might as well be enrique inglesias and the spice girls.

at the end of it all your rock credentials end up in the number and kind of body piercing your have and not so much your much vaunted passion for the music – or even what it means for you. did i mention that hardly any one of the singers actually can sing? and those who can ham the act till it hurts. image is after all everything – this is television.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

high on spirits - 'dancer, texas. pop. 81' - 'the pillow book'

since i must celebrate the “indomitable spirit” that news channels insist exists in the city i live in (we all did go to work today) i can go back to my interminable but absolutely necessary for my own records, log of the movies i have seen.

it must be because it is the time of goodbyes. but a film like ‘dancer, texas pop. 81’ otherwise would have had hardly any effect on me. as so many people close to me for the past few years seem to be packing their bags up to go to the usa for their future studies, the story of four friends from tiny town facing difficult decisions after passing high school, rang too true. some decide to continue to live in the small town while others abandon it to head for big city life in la. the movie was able to evoke the envy, joy, sadness and hope that i see and feel with all these people leaving next month.

so much more honest and watchable that the pretentious arty mess ‘the pillow book’ that we saw today. a japanese woman in hong kong evokes the ghost of her father in all her lovers as she makes them write all over the body. kinky sex, lot of strained devices like picture in picture, slow dissolves, over performing actors and sets and lots of full frontal nudity (including ewan mcgregor- very ugly) . i assume the project proposal must have seemed very avant-garde and theoretical for the funders. sexuality, texts and sub-texts, the act of writing, language, cross cultural references ; and the worst of all the millions of references that i did not catch but suspected existed all through the film. another great example to prove that high brow theory often makes crappy art.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

serial bomb blasts

anxiety as serial bomb blasts rip apart gents first class compartments on the western railway line. some of my students were in mira road and bhayander doing a site study. i just found out that they are all safe. thank god.

the television stations are going mad as i type. between cell phone clips of bloodied shirts and reassurances from the prime ministers office, cnn-ibn actually had the time to make a title card for the new reality tv show with a music score for the right mood.

its awful. july is the bloodiest month.

Monday, July 10, 2006

ak mj

amit and mayuri in their last month in india before the two of them fly off to texas- finishing some work at amits place.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


dushmanon ke khoon se kheloonga holi...
mega star chiranjeevi

antonia and jane . the constant gardener . elektra . the fantastic four

since i cant type as well as i used to.. courtesy my hand.. and i still want to record the films i saw over the past two days- this post just for that.

antonia and jane – british buddy film about two close female friends – one frumpy and the other suave. each envies the other and talks about it to an uptight therapist. early nineties realism that would be oh-so bittersweet with its poignant human moments if it were not so drab and predictable.

the constant gardener – terrific film out of a good book. ralph fiennes breathes the courteous justin quayle diplomat in kenya as he follows the footsteps of his murdered wifes quest into the shenanigans of big business pharma in africa. and its good not only because of good politics.

elektra – the first of the two marvel comic book films. daredevil sidekick does not have enough of a personality or superpowers to hold this film together. trying to attract a young girl fan club it panders to girl power shtick that the spice girls did better. a young protégé and her older mentor.

the fantastic four - the second of the marvel superhero films.– all superhero films are only as good as the media myths that they are elaborations of. for the x-men it is the unbearable alienation of the odd in ‘straight’ society and for elektra – a silly coming of age story where a young girl ‘learns’ from her mentor as much as the older woman gains in return. naturally the x-men films rock while elektra suck. for the fantastic four the model of the drama is a daytime soap opera and therefore the film is characterized by cut out characters reciting stock lines and actors who would even be background filler in ‘the bold and the beautiful’- jessica albas’ invisible woman notwithstanding.

Friday, July 07, 2006

nail biting finished

i had my nail removed last night. the first surgery, no matter how minor on my body. the doctor asked me whether i want to keep the nail. i took it- the first artifact on a future wall of rejected body parts that i have planned for the house. but last night (and right now) was awful. for tonight i was a connoisseur of different kinds of pain. the searing heat tearing through tendons as a background upon which throb like heavy drum beats where blood still pumps beneath a non existent nail. it hurts still as i type with my one left hand still uninjured.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

dahisar river in bloom

from the flyover

the dahisar river flowing brown water down to the creek. here it is frothing madly as it races out of national park to the western express highway. further down it ducks under the twisted new flyover and past the shaivite mandapeshwar caves and the shivaji nagar slums. inside national park they have dammed the river and you can go paddle boating there if on a picnic. i intend to one of these days.

from the sky

the interpreter

another rainy day – another movie. and since we had decided on hollywood drama over foreign film artiness we saw ‘the interpreter’ with nicole kidman and sean penn caught in web of international intrigue. an imaginary african nations leader naturally is being accused of genocide when he decides to give a speech at the united nations where a failed assassination is planned to give the man credibility. an interpreter overhears a conversation regarding the plan- and naturally her life is now in danger with sean penn playing the cop who protects her. now if only it were as action packed as that storyline promises. instead we have a personal drama around the two central characters who have lost their families constantly being enlightened by strange african rituals and myths and a self-consciously serious attempt at a political drama about power. it does not work at all. if you want to make an action film do it with bruce willis and blazing guns, and if you want to make a film about the politics of africa why do it through a convoluted storyline whose central character is a gorgeous white woman who happens to be a citizen of a non existent african state currently living in new york city who ends up being the ex-girlfriend of a revolutionary leader.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

happy birthday to dad.

rainy rainy day and he walks busily from room to room in his shorts and t-shirt.
now he will suddenly fall asleep only to wake up and go out on some errand or the other.
hyper hyper dad on rainy rainy day.

sonals birthday wish here

showing you the finger

a swollen finger for the past few days - putting a proverbial spanner in my enthusiastic urge to post. the middle finger of the right hand. what you see here is my grandmothers poultice that is supposed to bring all the pus out. hopefully soon.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

in orbit in the morning - mind space by day

sunday before 'superman begins' we took a drive down the desolate streets of mindspace. high walls, mute glass facades, fake neoclassical high rises. for homes we look to forge an alliance with a greek classicism and for work we choose futuristic science fiction to stay in orbit.

to be in a mall in the morning is to catch it off guard- before the lights come on and the reflections seem limitless. the backstage workers who keep the show running are scurrying about in uniforms cleaning, mopping, scrubbing.. mingling with the half price ticket early movie watchers.

'a certain liberation . 'capote'

two very rainy days when i went to college only to find a deserted building and a few enthusiastic students. instead came back home to mukuls to watch ‘a certain liberation’ a brilliant documentary that follows a woman who lost her entire family in the bangladeshi freedom struggle. as a result of the trauma she goes mad and roams free on the streets of the village living on charity and by demanding food and money from whomever she meets. the village loves her, pities her and envies her her freedom. it is a certain kind of freedom – the freedom of being outside established norms and defining your own- and demanding that they be respected. is she too like a ghatak heroine a symbol for the country?

‘capote’ is a good film. philip seymour hoffman is very good in it. it is all very tasteful and well told. the background music is also very ‘serious hollywood’. in spite of all this against it, it still is very watchable and does not grate with the fake gravitas that makes so many oscar winning films unbearable. to make a biopic about a man through one incident in his life definitely makes it more coherent a tale rather than the ‘ray’ like mega scale. i want to read ‘in cold blood’ now.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

superman returns

there are dramas and then there are epics. the difference being that the second aim to inspire by showing us perfection the other aim to relate to our lives through representing our imperfections. the superman character is one that obviously aims to the former.

superman is virtuous, strong, brave, and honest. he belongs in a stratosphere few can aspire to. his stories are struggles against the darkness around never within. within him there is merely the helpless sadness of being in the company of a people who seem to be bent on destroying themselves by giving in to their dark sides. saving us from us, like jesus christ or any prophet.

i can never relate to a god, i am distrustful of them. superman is not my kind of hero. the new film is a perfect superman film- filled to the brim with this goodness and sadness (and that fantastic air crash scene)- the lois lane is a wash out but brandon routh is a perfect superman.. clean cut face, gentle kindly eyes and convincing with superhuman strength. it is awe inspiring and the kids in the audience were all excited and inspired - but me? give me ‘the hulk’ over the man of steel any day of the year.