Thursday, March 12, 2015

Aamir Khan is NOT a pretentious prick

Aamir Khan has apologized for hurting people’s sentiments with PK. Is that something you would expect a pretentious prick to do? No. Only a cynical person would say that perhaps he finally watched his own film. Completely. Properly. An ever more cynical person would say that now that he’s done earning all the crores, he milking it for some more. Is there no room for non-cynical thought in today’s world? Pretentious prick it seems!

Aamir Khan is a publicity hound they say. But is it really his fault that the media report on what colour underwear he’s wearing today? Fault him for wearing underwear, if you will. But then so do you. Does that make you a pretentious prick? No sir.

Do you know Aamir Khan became vegan today? That means no meat, not even dairy products. He drinks his tea now with soy milk. Do you know what ultimateness level of sacrifice this is? On a level of 1-to-Sonia Gandhi, that’s like a 12. And you dare call Aamir Khan a pretentious prick? I dare you to drink tea with soy milk. I double dare you.

Despite what nature has done to him, Aamir Khan still loves nature. And you? You who call him a pretentious prick, insult a garden lizard. How do you know what the IQ of a garden lizard is? Who’s a pretentious prick now?

And you know what? Aamir Khan – who you call a pretentious prick – watches a documentary about the advantages of becoming vegan and the perils and ill-effects of meat eating etc and internalized it so much he became a vegan. Aamir Khan is much too humble to say this, but I can bet you that if Mr. Perfectionist watches a well-made documentary about polluting power plants and internalized the imperative for renewable energy, he would become an eco-friendly windmill. If he chose to that is.

On a side note, Chethan Bhagat is not the Rakhi Sawant of Indian literature. He is the Charles Dickens of India. You obviously haven’t heard of where the anointment happened. So please stop your hectoring and cloaking your ignorance in what passes for supposedly funny. If you want to be funny, call Rakhi Sawant the Chethan Bhagat of Indian filmdom.

Do you know who invented dyslexia in India? Aamir Khan! With Like Stars on Earth (IMDB rating 8.5).
Do you know what’s the only reason Narmada Bachao Andolan is brought up today? Aamir Khan! He bachao-d the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
Do you know Aamir Khan has the same number of English Premier League medals as Steven Gerrard? Of course not! That’s because Aamir Khan is humble. He does not trumpet his achievements. That makes him – and I say this again – humble. Not a pretentious prick as you call him, or rather want him to be.
I could go on, but if you haven’t realized the unfairness and injustice in calling Aamir Khan a pretentious prick by now, you never will.

In fact, you know what? You should be thankful to Aamir Khan. For keeping his halo switched off at all times. Else you would be burnt, like Kamadeva burnt by Shiva’s third eye. Is such thoughtfulness a trait of someone who is supposedly a pretentious prick? Huh? Huh?

So stop it with all the name calling. And being judgmental. You are just jealous that you cannot be like Aamir Khan. You cannot be, no matter how hard you try. Especially if you are above 5’6” in height.

Remember this. Pretentiousness is a state. Of mind. Like poverty. Aamir Khan lives in Maharashtra.

EDIT: in case you've not read the original blog post that said that Aamir Khan is such a pretentious prick:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kannada remakes can (usually) be deceiving: Not quite a review of Drishya

At first my father was apprehensive about coming to watch Drishya. So was I for that matter. The usual Kannada standards applied, so I’m not surprised. Even when it comes to remakes, Kannada filmmakers have a way of trying to go overboard in ‘Kannada-fying’ films, adding masala and unnecessary frills to suit what they think is ‘local taste’, not to mention cheapass songs and innuendo. And with Drishya having Ravichandran in it, an item number wouldn’t have been out of place, script and character be damned.

But he turned receptive to the idea when I told him that it’s a remake of the Malayalam film, Drishyam. And because he hold them in high regard and is a fan of, he gave in. So off we went, the full family, to watch Drishya, still not without a sprinkling of trepidation of what to expect. But we were most pleasantly surprised. Drishya turned out to be quite a faithful adaptation of Drishyam. In fact, some minor elements were even improved upon. Giving Sadhu Kokila’s character a slightly different spin & background worked as well. And in my opinion, Achyut Kumar’s depiction of the corrupt constable is a shade better than Kalabhavan Shajon’s. Definitely deserves a big pat on the back. Ilayaraja’s music and background score just added that extra touch. Equally nice was Shivaji Prabhu’s portrayal of the IG’s husband. The actress playing the IG by the way, is the same in Kannada as well.

And of course, Ravichandran. Apart from a passing catch-it-if-you-will mention of ‘anjadagandu’ and ‘premaloka’, he seems to have made peace with the reality that he isn’t the crazy star anymore, and instead should be an actor. Not close to Mohanlal of course, but an appreciable and effective effort nonetheless. All in all, a recommended watch. And if you like me, would like to watch Kannada movies with full family but usually don’t find any that that you could take your parents to, this would be it. Tell them it’s a Mohanlal movie, like I did. Usually seals the deal.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The deja vu during Gozilla was Gamera

As a Kaiju movie fan, I liked the new Godzilla, but I kept getting this feeling of déjà vu. So I went back to the one movie it most reminded me of, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995), and sure enough there it was. Or rather, there they were. Many instances of ‘inspiration’. Or perhaps it was Gareth Edwards’ way of paying tribute. Nothing takes away from the fun that Godzilla was, because perhaps there’s nothing much really to be read into except fodder for kaiju fanboys.

#1: The reason the kaijus woke up. Due to the change in the environment, especially radioactive material.

#2: The principle of ‘balance’. For every MUTO, there is a Gojira. For every Gyaos, Gamera was created.

#3: The most tenuous similarity of all from the scratching-the-bottom department – the use of flares to illuminate Gamera. Used to good effect in Godzilla.

#4: The Kaiju diving into the sea and disappearing. The last shot is almost replicated almost the same (excepting the couple of frames with humans in Gamera).

I have a feeling if I watch Godzilla again, I’ll find more such instances, but the rips are still a sometime away. Till then, that’s all folks.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Being called ‘Hitler’ is perhaps the best compliment a leader could get in India today

No one will admit it in public. It’s a question of political correctness after all. How can you forget the gas chambers??? But then in an era of fleeting superficiality and skin deep strong beliefs, that’s a just a minor detail to be ignored. That’s where people come from when Hitler comparisons are denied in public. But the truth lies between this show of political correctness and the ground realities. Because if Rahul Gandhi does persist in comparing Modi to Hitler, it could prove to be unproductive to the extent of making people see Modi in a new, positive light. Yes, Positive. Because when you look at the big picture, Hitler in India isn’t a hate figure, a demonised person, a villain. Actually the truth is just the opposite. And here’s why I think so.

To put things in context look at the situation prevailing in India today. Lack of a strong leadership, and an Indian’s search for the same. A rising sense of (misplaced) nationalism, jingoistic in its nature. It is exactly here that Hitler, in the opinion of many people, scores, especially youngsters. And that’s all people know, or want to know. Here was a man who loved his country, a patriot, a strong leader who made his nation strong again. A disciplined man with leadership qualities to be admired.
And we Indians have always been prone to ‘hero worship’ be it sportsmen or politicians, and especially of military leaders. And Hitler fits all these very many moulds quite nicely. And the little matter of the belief that Hitler was a man who solved problems, and just got things done. A man who brought order to chaos, who replaced shame & anger with pride. Just this much is reason enough. But wait, there’s more.

All that above is just the state-of-play today. But what of yesterday? How does our past history affect how we perceive Hitler today?
Again, our history once again reinforces the fact that Hitler was a good man. It’s a fact that today’s youth hero worships Bhagat Singh and Subhas Chandra Bose more than MK Gandhi. And remember, it was Hitler to whom Netaji turned to in the fight for Indian Independence. That makes Hitler India’s friend, even if it is – as it was – because he was the ‘enemy’s enemy’. So if Netaji admired Hitler, he can’t be all that bad. Many people still haven’t forgiven Gandhi for siding with the oppressor, Britain during the wars. For people who’ve read Indian history or rather know of all the theories and little trickles that went into making the larger whole, there is a strong and persistent view that had Hitler not weakened the British Empire through WW2, the British would have never voluntarily left India. This view finds its logical end in posts and books that proclaim that Hitler, not Gandhi, should be given credit for the independence of India. As an aside, when you have the time, also look up Savitri Devi, popularly known as Hitler’s priestess and how Hitler was for a while considered an avatar of Vishnu.

Back to the present and thousands of copies of Mein Kampf get sold every month at bookstores across the country. At last count there were at least a dozen editions that I know of, and there’s a new one every few months. It’s still a best seller in India. How would you account for this? The book’s literary merit? No. It is a rambling book, and a difficult read. I don’t think all those thousands of people who bought the book have ever finished the book. They only bought it not so much because they wanted to know more about Hitler but more as a token of their love for the man.

I could go on. About the restaurants that bear Hitler’s name. About how the whole ‘Hitler was racist’ doesn’t cut ice in private here, in India where we are as rascist as they come. About the movie(s) on Hitler. But as with the rest of the post, I will keep it brief and just enough to give you an idea of why I think that if someone is compared to Hitler, it may work in his favour. Why Adolf Hitler for all that he may be to the western world isn’t in India (necessarily) an evil man – but a hero, a role model, political correctness notwithstanding. I hope I’ve made enough sense to give you some food for thought.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why are military hotels called ‘Military Hotels’?

Military Hotel. You know, the places where you get all the Ragi Mudde and Chops. The donne biryanis and spare parts. Basically and almost exclusively non veg fare is what defines a Military Hotel, or Miltry Hotel as people call them. Actually the full and proper nomenclature is ‘Hindu Military Hotel’. But what’s with the military connection? I’ve had a lot of people ask me that, and am putting it down here so next time I can just mail a link to this post instead of subjecting them to my voice and wild gesticulations.
Now all this here below is what I’ve learned from my uncle and corroborated by relatives and a few people of the previous generation. That’s the only citation you’ll ever get if you ask. If you have heard of an alternative explanation or anything to add on, I would love to hear it. Anyways.
One logical explanation I’ve seen do the rounds is that they’re called Military Hotels because they’re run by ex-servicemen. Logical, plausible, but not quite right. The actual reason, as I’ve been told, is that back in the ye olde days, and I’m talking about the early post-independence years and up to the early 60s, the only non-vegetarian hotels and messes existing had cooks who were non-Hindu, mostly Muslim. So Hindus who were from non-vegetarian households would eat at home. But when it came to eating out, it was more or less a non-option for reasons stated above. This was a problem compounded for Hindus who were supposedly (or rather born) vegetarian but had acquired a taste for non-veg, because without the option of eating out they had to make do only with the occasional invitation to a friend’s house or say, a stray beegra oota. Remember also, these were times when towns were smaller than they are now and everyone more or less knew everybody else and his family.
Enter the military hotels to fill this gap for both kinds of people. Any hotel that called itself a Hindu Military Hotel (to use the complete & original terminology; though the word ‘Hindu’ has since been become redundant due to association of one with the other and due to changing times) was clearly suggesting, nay announcing three things:
• That it is a non-vegetarian hotel
• That the cooks are Hindus, and…
• No beef.
But still, why ‘Military’? Apparently the general perception amongst the people at that time was that everyone in the forces, the military HAD to eat non-veg irrespective of who he was or what his background and choice of food was. So ostensibly many of these places popped up to cater to the non-vegetarian food needs of soldiers on leave and ex-servicemen who had to have their meat but who couldn’t cook at home, or eat at hotels with non-Hindu cooks. Yep. It’s quite as simple as that. But the reasons are not so simple, but sort of make sense once you keep in mind the social mores of the time that food joints started calling themselves ‘Military Hotels’.
So there you go. Enough food for thought I guess, for now. Bon appetite!!

Thursday, March 06, 2014

NOT an open letter, but a heartfelt plea to Mr. Nandan Nilekani

Dear Mr. Nandan Nilekani,
It’s all become very creepy, very stalker-y now. It isn’t even funny any longer. You stare at me from hoardings all over the place on the roads I take, your face grins at me from all the webpages I visit, you smile at me from all over my FB timeline through your sponsored posts. If Big Brother was to be given a face today, I would give it yours. Though you’re not into surveillance and tracking (one hopes). The only thing left is for me to look in the mirror and see your face there also (Though that would an improvement on this mug of mine, still I don’t want it to happen). Sir, even Mr. Shahrukh Khan didn't try to stuff promote a bad product down our collective throats this much when he was hardselling promoting Ra.One. And that's saying a lot, wouldn't you agree? Surely that's not a record you want to hold.

Fine sir, I yield, I yield! I WILL VOTE FOR YOU! And you only. You can trust me on that because I am from Bangalore South constituency from where you are planning to be Congress candidate. Happy now? But in return sir, I only ask one simple thing. Can you now please stop spamming us now? Please.

Yours in agony and spam,
T. Gautham Shenoy
Registered Voter with Voter ID (who will now vote for you now)
Bangalore South Constituency,

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love, love everywhere, but not a Lover to love - The Auto Raja special

A collection of some of the finest love advice and aphorisms from Bangalore’s very own Love Gurus.
Love cannot be seen it is true [but] Lover can you not see [?]
[Once] Love is found, Lover [also] will you not get [?]
udigiru love andre
nail polish thara thilkondire
udugaru love andre
pranakintha echgi thilkonthare
(If) girls think of love as nail polish *wah wah*
boys value love more than life itself
Shi So Beutiful
I Don’t Like It
The charms of modern girls’ luck-u…
…can change a boy’s destiny (and come unstuck-u)

from mother….LIFE
from lover….DEATH

Waste it [a rose] not on the hair of a girl who knows not the value of love,
Use it instead to adorn the tomb of the boy who gave their life for love…..
if you don’t get what you love; love what you get’
but a true, more correct literal translation in English would be:
Rather than being a slave to the one you choose,
Be the king and rule over the heart that chose you
To never see you again, my heart into stone I turned,
Now that the stone hath become a rock in the end
From which I could sculpt your beauteous visage I see within,
How can forget you oh my beloved, my friend?! 
and finally a (dis)honourable mention....

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The very best (read funny) "questions" from the #AskCarrick Q&A

So it all started harmlessly with this tweet on 3rd Feb:
#mufc's official match programme United Review is interviewing Michael Carrick. Tweet us your questions for the midfielder with #AskCarrick.
But what Man Utd and Michael Carrick hadn't factored in when they asked for this Twitter Q&A was the sheer bad timing of it all. Just a day after the defeat to Stoke City. More than the trolls from Arsenal, City and Chelsea who were waiting to pounce on this, Man Utd fans took it upon themselves to vent, and boy did they get things off their chest. But to their credit, they did it in the funniest way possible, by trolling not just him, but the whole team. So here, goes the best #AskCarrick tweets (so far)

Of course, this was a Q&A about Carrick, so there was enough about Carrick himself, with a special focus on his uncanny ability to pass the ball back to the goal keeper.
#askcarrick in what game was your most memorable pass back to your keeper?
If a ball leaves your boot travelling at 30km per hour at 3 pm on saturday, how long does it take to reach De Gea? #AskCarrick
AskCarrick Would Moyes consider putting DeGea upfront, so that you can pass the ball theright way? #LFC

#askcarrick have you tried wearing your kit backwards to see if it will help you pass the ball forward?
#AskCarrick If you had a penalty to win the game, who would you pass it to?
#AskCarrick How do you do that trick where you disappear in big games?
#AskCarrick If you had the chance to join Sunderland, Do you think @ManUtd would sell you to a rival?

Of course, the match against Stoke - and his part in it thereof, where the first goal was due to a deflection off him - just HAD to be mentioned!
#askcarrick hi have you ever thought of turning your back on United like you did on Charlie Adam’s free kick
Why didn't you block the freekick by your balls? #AskCarrick

But the best (again, read funny) 'questions' were reserved for teammate, the fan favourite - Tom 'sideways'Cleverley  - and the rest of the Manchester United (non)players
#AskCarrick How many of your teammates have signed the Cleverley petition? Be honest
#AskCarrick if you could drop one player from the team how would you tell Cleverley?
Do you die a little inside when you're looking for someone to pass to and Tom Cleverley is to your left  #AskCarrick
#AskCarrick Do you get depressed when you see Tom Cleverley's name on the team sheet and realize you're gonna have to play with 10 men?
#AskCarrick on a scale of Tom Cleverley to 10, how bad is Ashley Young?
Do you ever look at Young, Cleverly, Smalling, Welbeck & question the point of living? #AskCarrick
#askcarrick if someone held a gun to your head &asked do you want to to play with Cleverly orFellaini....would you be buried or cremated??

And of course, the Juan and only decent signing we've made this season - Mata too made the cut, drawing a lot of 'sympathy'
How many times has Mata tried to make a run for it since signing? #AskCarrick
#AskCarrick in the team hotel in Stoke, could you hear Mata crying himself to sleep?
So there you go. In the end, and it is fitting to end this with a tweet from @HEYsenses who summed it all up by tweeting '#AskCarrick hashtag must be the second worst decision
taken by @ManUtd after appointing Moyes as a manager #mufc'
and before I forget, a special HT to fellow Utd fan Jithamithra Raghavendrachar for bringing this hashtag to my notice. much LOL was had.

Monday, December 09, 2013

For a small-town boy with no exposure to western philosophy, he opened the doors to this new animal called existentialism. My later love for Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and all the various philosophies had their beginning with that one book – The Outsider. And thus began a path of discovery and self-discovery.
My continuing love for the occult, the esoteric arts and magik, began all those years ago, when as a impressionable young man, I discovered Aleister Crowley, Blavatsky, Gurdjieff and Jung, all and more which were contained in that one book – The Occult. Thus began a lasting fascination and exploration of all these arcane subjects.

Pseudohistory, alternate history and lost civilisation, whole new world, or rather completely lost worlds were laid open by that one book – From Atlantis to the Sphinx. All the tomes and books I have read and own today on the subject are a direct result of the spark provided by that one book. And all written by that one man, the ‘Angry Young Men’ – Colin Wilson.

I couldn’t even begin to list out the other books of his which provided further direction to my reading habits and to subjects I could delve into deeper. From sex crimes and criminal histories to de Sade and sci-fi, horror and alternate realities. Yes, I have read much better books on each of these topics, but for a newbie these provided interesting enough to know further. And for that, Colin Wilson, thank you. And…
…to the only writer who has a shelf all his own in my library, R.I.P.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Immaculate Inception

Father sends his only Son to Earth knowing fully well that he will become greater than the Father and become a God himself. A son whose birth was unlike anything his world had witnessed. An unnatural birth. When we first see him as a grown man, it’s a baptism by fire, but a trial by water. A Son who truly comes into his own when he 33 years old, having risen from humble origins. Welcome to the Church of Superman. Our father, who art in Krypton. Hallowed be thy kryptonian USB drive.
Could they get any more blatant with the whole Jesus thing? Why? The only thing they didn't say was 'Lamb of Zod'. Bleh.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

An Iconic Post

Iconic. Has there ever been a more iconic word in the history of the iconic English language? Or any language in the history of this iconic planet? An iconic adjective that elevates everything to exalted iconic status, including the iconic commode you sit on in the morning. I bet you didn’t know yours is an iconic commode! Well, now you do. Because it is. Just like McDonalds’ iconic burgers, Bangalore’s iconic potholes, DLF’s iconic apartments, Poonam Pandey’s iconic beauty or my colleague’s iconic declaration today, ‘I will just take a leak and join the meeting’. And therein lies the secret of the iconic status that ‘iconic’ enjoys. Every iconic report in every iconic newspaper, journal, blog or site worth its iconic salt is iconically compelled to use it. It’s like an iconically divine mandate [Editor’s note: This is iconic tautology]. To make everything iconic. And it works. Just imagine if the iconic Marcel Proust had actually titled his iconic book ‘Remembrance of Things Iconic’? Can you imagine how many more people would’ve actually read it? Or how much more iconic Julius Caesar’s statement would’ve been if he’d just said, “Iconic. Iconic. Iconic.” instead of that iconic Latin gibberish.

Look at the title of this post. Was there ever a more iconic post? On a more iconic blog?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sluts, bitches and whores…is it just me or are they everywhere?

Exhibit A:
“She aint nothing a girl you've ever seen before,
nothing you can compare to your neighborhood whore
I'm trying to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful
Damn! you's a sexy bitch, a sexy bitch
Damn! you's a sexy bitch…”
– Sexy Bitch by David Guetta

Akon does not want to be disrespectful, but he is ok with calling her a ‘bitch’. And suddenly calling a woman a Bitch becomes acceptable. It is a respectable term. Look around you, words like Slut, Bitch, Ho (as a stand in for Whore) abound in all the songs that are becoming hits. Google ‘superman that ho’ from Soulja Boy’s ‘Crank That’ and you will see.

Exhibit B:
There’s a television commercial doing the rounds nowadays. A women in a bus is getting eve teased by a creepy looking man, there is physical contact bordering on molestation. She looks bothered but not unduly, as the voice over tells her that it’s nothing that can’t be forgotten or set right with a nice hot shower. Victim of harassment? Eve teased? Buy Racold water heaters.

A while ago, there were hoardings all over the place for a range of office watches for women that proudly declared ‘From 9 to 5, you can stare at my brains’. Titan Watches – If a woman is wearing them, you can stare at her bosom, but only after 5pm mind you.

What I am getting at here is based on the basic premise that the words we use – and their connotations and denotations – our language, shapes our thoughts, influences our actions and shapes our reality. A whore is a woman who sleeps with a man for money. A slut is a promiscuous or a disreputable woman of loose morals. A bitch used to be a female dog. Not tell me if you would want your sisters, wife, girlfriend to be referred to as such. Ladies? Are you ok with being called a ho, a slut? Just because you are a girl. And these are terms that – if we don’t stop now – will become synonyms for girl. Am I being extreme here? (or as they say ‘old fashioned fuddy duddy’?) Perhaps, but I was brought up in a home where I was taught that such words are not just disrespectful but demeaning. I was taught by my teachers to respect women and these extreme terms are to be used only when required and only in extreme cases, if at all. Not as terms of endearment or as a compliment to girls.

What I am also getting at is that our seemingly innocuous, commonplace portrayals of women are shaping a society where women are being shown as someone who is ok with things like eve teasing. It is this slippery slope that leads to people saying ridiculous things like ‘she was dressed provocatively’ or as I read in an article where a policemen said, ‘she had gone to a party with boys and was drinking, so she had it coming’. Now people who think like this are weak minded morons and stupid dickheads, yes. But these are exactly the kind of people we are surrounded by is it not? Do they not outnumber by their sheer numerical strength? The solution is not the ridiculously absurd ‘girls should not go out at night’ or ‘girls should dress properly’. Heck, girls should be allowed to go wherever they please, dressed in whatever they are comfortable with. It’s the people who need to be told it’s perfectly ok if girls do that, and that it’s none of their business. But what about that person given to eve teasing who’s been shown – many times, on television, loudly – that the woman looks quite fine with it. You may counter this by saying, ‘shouldn’t girls be allowed to listen to whatever they want, just like they have the freedom to wear whatever they like?’. Not quite, the difference being that when you listen to, enjoy and share a song that denigrates women, you are in fact condoning and/or encouraging and endorsing the objectification of women. Extreme example, it’s tantamount to sharing a rape video and heartily endorsing it. But when women wear a dress, all they are saying is ‘I like this dress and I am comfortable in it’. And it’s not just about women I talk here, even the men. Who either come up with such stupid commercials or make such songs. After a while, watching women dance to and sing-along to Crank That stopped being funny and I’ve made it a point to tell women around me when it plays if they are ok with it, and they’ve all said no and deleted it from their playlists.

I contend that it’s not just the rapists who are treating women as sex objects. It’s our songs, our advertising, our films too that portray them as such. And each of us who enjoys and shares these songs encourages such objectification. We who buy these brands endorse such lines of thinking are equally culpable. Yes, it’s the artists right to express himself in whatever way he feels like, but that doesn’t mean we have to endorse it. It has to stop sometime, somewhere. A line needs to be drawn. Voices need to be raised. People need to be told. But sadly we live in an era where if someone gets into the lyrics of the song instead of just grooving to its catchy hooks and tells people is called a wet blanket, a bore, one who thinks too much. But I think, correct me if I am wrong, such small things, each in isolation, build up – in kind, and in degree and in number – to a mindset that subconsciously objectifies women, is ok with the degradation in their treatment and borders on condoning or explaining heinous acts. Quick to politically correct outrage, but just as quick to forget.

It is one thing to ensure that there swift and harsh punishment for rapists. That matters hugely. I wholeheartedly recommend castration. But we also need to look at things that are at first glance inconsequential, but lie at the root of such issues. We need to treat the symptoms and not just the disease. Companies and advertising agencies that condone things like eve teasing and/or objectify women need to be taken to task just as harshly. Songs that demean women should never be played on radio, in public and should be boycotted by listeners. It is equally important that in our daily lives, our conversations and words, we take corrective measures before our children are born into an age where my daughter’s friends call her a ho in public. I pray that I would have brought up right enough for her slap the guy who calls her that….and walk out of the club should the DJ play songs about bitches and whores.

Perhaps all of what I have written is more applicable in an urban set up, not in places where Khap Panchayats blame chowmein for rapes. But look at the statistics, it’s the urban metros and large cities where rapes are just as common. And even one single rape is a tragedy, not a statistic. And as someone who lives in a city that I think currently ranks second in terms of reported rapes, these are my thoughts.

PS: If you didn’t wince when you read the first part of this post’s title or didn’t feel even a little offended, ask yourself ‘why’. If you were, then good. All is not lost yet eh.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A wonderful 'magical' read...

The last time I read a non-china mieville book that won as many awards as Jo Walton’s Among Others was Paolo Bacigalupi’s Wind-up Girl which ended its course winning more awards than Among Others’ current tally. That’s probably as much as you can speak about the two in the same breath – as Among Others was (imho) as much a pleasure to read as Wind-up Girl was underwhelming.

And not just because Am
ong Others is an ode to classic SF (and fandom) and the love of books, as it a fabulous bildungsroman (I am a sucker for those). The first person epistolary narrative style just adds to the charm of this book. Now, is this narrator – a 16 year old girl who's just lost her twin, sees fairies, does magic, creates a karass all her own, and is running away from her evil (witch) mother – an unreliable narrator or not? Could go both ways depending on who is reading. When I first heard about the book it was posited as an anti-thesis to Harry Potter because the protagonist was a girl who knew magic and went to a regular, non-magic boarding school. But Among Others turned out to be so much more.

Magic is what you make of it; the closest the ‘magic’ in this book comes to is perhaps the ‘magic’ in Bridge to Terabithia. So in that sense, it is only ‘science fiction’ if you want it to be, and ‘fantasy’ if you say so.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Sherlock Vs. Holmes

Did we need another ‘contemporary’ riff on Sherlock Holmes? Maybe yes (always!). Perhaps not. But looks like America surely did. Or rather, American network television did. If only to set it in NYC. What am I referring to? Elementary, my dear reader. Elementary – The new TV series from CBS.

Of course, Sherlock Holmes in a contemporary setting is nothing new. Or call it a pastiche if you will. And I’m not that much of a purist Sherlockian to not enjoy say, The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes, or even a Sherlock Holmes Vs. Dracula. But those are the one that defer to the canonical Holmes as created by AC Doyle. Like BBC’s Sherlock for instance. But not Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, which was quite the fun movie(s) but the fact that two lead characters were called Holmes and Watson were just incidental. They could’ve been called Tom & Jerry and it would matter not a whit to the movie (or rather the franchise).
Coming to Elementary. Call it a case of bad timing but the comparison was bound to happen. With Sherlock. Who’s suave, cold, impersonal, impatient. Complemented well by a Watson we find oh-so-familiar. Written well. Enough and more nods to Doyle’s canon. Change the names of the two lead characters to Tom & Jerry and it would still be great Sherlockiana with all its clever details. No, not just great Shelockiana, but a very enjoyable television series with great acting, good plotting, writing and setting. It has all the influences of many new-ish British TV series, but Sherlock is beyond a shadow of doubt, Holmes. Now that’s how you bring Sherlock Holmes into the 21st century, post-twitter era. And yes, he lives at 221B Baker Street.

And what do we have with Elementary? A recovering drug addict with father issues and looked after by Papa’s money. Who has thrust upon him (not literally, not yet), a sober companion arranged for by Papa to ensure bad son doesn’t stray again. A companion called Joan Watson. No, that’s not a spelling mistake. Watson is a woman. And a masterstroke. Unfortunately this hasn’t gone much further than that, because it’s played by Lucy Liu with all of her repertoire of two-and-a-half expressions, with her half-pursed-lips-and-furrowed-eyebrows look being one of them. One can only wonder at all the opportunities that will be lost in making Watson a woman, if the pilot is anything to go by. And considering this is American primetime television, which has the uncanny ability to ruin a good thing with its ability to turn anything into practically a soap opera, this has all the hallmarks of going down that road. Case in point, House MD, Big Bang Theory, in recent times. One could be forgiven for thinking that the only reason they made Watson a woman was to have a will-leave-you-begging-for-more season finale where Holmes and Watson kiss.

Elementary feels and flows more like CSI or even like Monk for that matter. Again, change the names of the two main characters to Tom & Jerry, and it would still not change things much. No, that fleeting, forcible inserted reference to Holmes as an apiarist doesn’t count. Nah.

The very fact that I can't think of anything complementary or given my biases, contemptuous to write about Holmes in Elementary just tells me how generic a character he is. Typical, cookie-cutter new york detective types. The only remark I could make here is how fabulously unremarkable the character is.

That said, will I stop watching Elementary? No. I am a sucker for crime and detective yarns. I guess I will watch it till it officially turns into a soap opera or Lucy Liu’s irritating expressions get too much to take. But I’ve heard there’s a Seven Percent Solution for that too. And Sherlock Season 3 couldn’t come too soon!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Killing two birds with one book

Remember the first Ice Age movie? It was an animated movie, so naturally it was billed as ‘entertaining fare for children’. And enjoy they did, going by my nephews and nieces or children of friends. But you know who enjoyed the film more? The people who used to be children till a decade or more ago, and some who are children still, albeit with beards, moustaches, wives and credit card debts. So while Ice Age was great fun for the child in us – and I don’t mean this in the sense of being pregnant – it was great pun for the adults that we supposedly are. Adults in terms of having read enough, gone through life, watched enough movies than the average bear cub. The puns (taekwon-dodo!) , the contextual insinuations, the absurdness of dodos preparing for the ice age with just three melons (melons, as in the fruit, you dutty bugger). See what I mean. It takes an adult to get that joke. You can’t expect a 10-14 year old to get all of that. But that’s not to say they didn’t enjoy Ice Age. That’s where we ‘adults’ have an advantage – we used to be children once.

The same is the case with certain books. Conveniently billed ‘Young Adult’ fiction. But like not all books – in my highly subjective opinion - can be truly enjoyed by adults as well (and this coming from me, who still reads Three Investigators still). So assuming you’re looking for a fun read that takes you back to the ‘good fun’ days of adventurous adolescence, but one that also offers the ‘adult’ in you a second layer of fun and added reading pleasure (and if you wish, one that you can deconstruct, look at it from a societal perspective, etc. etc.), here’s a short random list from theBekku, of ‘young adult' books.
All of these books fall under the same category as say, The Hobbit, which was primarily for children but can be enjoyed by adults (unlike LOTR which was the opposite). And yes, Ice Age. This list is by no means exhaustive, by any measure. These are just the book’s I like enough personally to recommend. If there are any I’ve missed, or you think I should read, do a good turn and let me know in the comments section. And because fantasy, adventure, a sense of newness, discovery and wonder is according to me one of the chief emotions of young adult-hood, this list tilts more towards fantasy and plausible alternative worlds and situations rather than books like say, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

Now, you’re either the kind of person who will take my word for it (for reasons known best to you) or the kind who will still Google the title/author and look it up on wikipedia/ amazon/ good reads. Thusly, this list is not accompanied by any descriptions or gushing praise, all I can say is that if you’re a reader you won’t regret the time you spend within these books. Get ready for subterranean cities, other worlds and other mothers, competitions, rumbling mobile metropolises, magic and fun.

China Mieville – Un Lun Dun
Ursula LeGuin – The Earthsea quartet (• A Wizard Of Earthsea • The Tombs of Atuan • The Farthest Shore • Tehanu)
Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials trilogy (• The Golden Compass • The Subtle Knife • The Amber Spyglass)
Neil Gaiman – Coraline
Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
Philip Reeve – The Mortal Engines quartet (• Mortal Engines • Predator's Gold • Infernal Devices • A Darkling Plain
Jeanne DuPrau – Book of Ember quartet (• City of Ember • The People of Sparks • The Prophet of Yonwood • The Diamond of Darkhold)
Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games trilogy (• The Hunger Games • Catching Fire • Mockingjay)
Norton Juster – The Phantom Tollbooth

There you go. Will add more in a while or a bit, whichever is earlier.
And here’s how you kill two birds with one book.
Gift your son/daughter/nephew/niece any of the above (or all), and introduce them to new worlds of wonder and come across as a great father/father/uncle/aunt and when the brats are done with it, quietly borrow and read it. Or the other way ‘round. Also recommended for adults who want to buy it solely for themselves, for the children they are ;)