Saturday, November 22, 2014
I'm taking a break from blogging as I am currently very busy. Note to self: do NOT study architecture in your next life. No, seriously. The pressure's mounting up & now I barely have time to shower, let alone blog. But I will be back next month and this is by no means the end of my blogging career. I still have loads to write and I will return.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
The critical victim of this newfound cinematic intellectualism happens to be the Badshah of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan. He really is the critical victim because commercially he's doing just fine. i mean, he's the second richest actor in the world so it's not like he's struggling money-wise. It's the critical appreciation of the audience that seems to eluding him. How many times have you heard, "Shah Rukh Khan is old! What's he doing dancing with those young heroines!" or "Shah Rukh Khan only knows how to so romantic comedies" or "Shah Rukh Khan is so Bollywood" or just basic "Shah Rukh Khan sucks!"
Well, all of you SRK haters, I got news for you. You're wrong. Okay, so maybe I'm a die-hard SRK fan and wanted to marry him till I was six. But that does not mean the following justifications for Shah Rukh Khan's greatness don't stand true. Bear with me, folks, for I shall now tell you how someone goes from Jamia Milia Islamia Mass Comm student to the Badshah of Bollwood.
1. For all those who think Shah Rukh Khan only knows romance, think again. it wasn't romance that initially brought him success. It was his negative roles that endeared him to the audience and made him unforgettable. Yes, I did just use the words 'endear' and 'negative role' in one sentence because Shah Rukh Khan was capable of making that possible. He wasn't Mogambo or Badman or Gabbar. He didn't have a villanous laugh or strange costumes and he wasn't out to destroy the world. But he was evil. He was evil when he sang "Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhein" in Baazigar, he was evil when he sincerely mouthed words of affection to his lady love and later pushed her off the parapet wall, he was evil when he stuttered "K...k...k..k...Kiran." He was evil, but he did it with so much heart. Befor him, villainry was so evil, it was laughable. But once he arrived, it was so sweet, it was chilling. Shah Rukh Khan changed Bollywood villains forever, and even though his role in Don isn't as threatening as his previous work, it does show the 'bad' SRK still exists.
2. For all those who think SRK hasn't dabbled in the 'unconventional', here's a surprise: he's been doing unconventional films from the beginning of his career. He was in Hey Ram, where he played Jinnah. He was a Rajasthani ghost in Paheli. A lesser known example is Maya Memsaab, which although arguable in terms of quality, does prove an actor's willingness to take a risk. Other titles include Dil Se, My Name is Khan and Swades.The most commercially successful example, I guess, is Chak De India. because nobody could have played Kabir Khan the way he did.
3. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani was Ranbir Kapoor's 10th film. A popular daily printed a list of the first 10 films of top Bollywood actors, out of which I was surprised to find that most of SRK's first few films were commercially unsuccessful while Aamir and Salman gave bigger hits back then. However, although other actors's films were better received at the time, Shah Rukh Khan's flops are remembered today. Tell me I'm wrong if these titles are unfamiliar to you: Deewana, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Chamatkaar...
4. Now, let's talk about romance. Now, this may sound strange to you, but the truth is that no Bollywood actor can go from 'actor' to 'star' unless he can be a 'typical' romantic hero. I mean, think about it. Irfan Khan is amazing, but he's not the star that Ranbir Kapoor has become. Same with Abhay Deol, Randeep Hooda, Kaykay Menon and so on. They don't have the success that one song gives Ranbir Kapoor, because they don't know how to look deep into an actress' eyes, spread their arms wide and be recklessly in love. They're...too realistic. Our audience needs a romantic hero, regardless of how much we try to deny it.
5. Another point about the romance. Before Shah Rukh Khan, there were two kinds of romances. One, where the hero literally stalks the heroine and then she falls madly in love with him. Two, where the hero is out on a mission and romance is actually just a sub-plot anyways. Shah Rukh Khan brought a much-needed vulnerability to the genre in Indian cinema. He didn't stalk anybody; he was charming. He wasn't afraid to star in a movie in which love was the primary theme. He didn't feel the need to sing cheap songs and verged towards the poetic.
6. Last but not the least, I'm an architecture student and here's something that made me like SRK even more. In his first film, SRK had an uncredited, wordless role. He just sat on the ground, a bottle of beer in his hand, listening to rock and roll at the end-of-the-year party in a smoke-filled role. Guess what he played? An architecture student! Yes, his first film was Arundhati Roy's telefilm, In Which Annie Gives It To Those Ones, based on Arunchati's experiences at School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi. He appears in only one scene, and who knew he'd go on to become more famous than any television actor the world has ever seen?
So that's why I like Shah Rukh Khan. He has something for everyone, and if you're done being cool, you'll know it's time to give him a chance to win our hearts again.
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Have you ever had that feeling in which you desperately want to defend your favourite public personality (perhaps a writer or an author) but have held yourself back as you don't want people telling you to calm down? Have you felt personally attacked whenever someone you don't know but still like is criticized or made fun of? Has being a fan ever been harder than when haters use your fandom as a way to tease you? Don't answer. I know you have. Everyone has. And I feel it every time someone says something bad about John Green.
So today, I will unabashedly do what I have kept myself from doing for a long time. I will defend John Green all I want, and no, this is a blog and nobody gets to tell me to calm down! Defending John Green is like defending a white, fluffy rabbit. It's easy. All I need to do is enumerate some of his merits to all the ignorant haters who'd know the merits themselves if they knew how to read between the lines.
2) John Green knows how to work in a degree of mystique into his novels without wavering from mainstream. His novels are philosophical, no doubt, and have good messages embedded in them. While Looking for Alaska spoke of the transience of life and searched for answers to tons of important questions, The Fault in our Stars was about living whatever life you have left to the fullest. Paper Towns was all about the future, does the future truly exist or is it an idea created by insurance and home loan companies? Meanwhile, An Abundance of Katherines is about carving a new identity for oneself once the old one starts sliding away. however, none of these novels come across as preachy, neither do they have the Paul Coelho disease, with the oversimplified language and a story which reads like a fable. They're just like all other YA novels, but there are more layers to them when you really read them with concentration.
3) John Green does his research. The reason I could never write something like Paper Towns is because I could never learn all the different meanings of the phrase 'Paper Towns' and use them to make a story. That kind of stuff needs research. I especially liked the tidbit about 'paper towns' being fake towns that surveyors put on their maps to keep an eye on plagiarized map (no original map would ever have the same paper town on it). An Abundance of Katherines was mainly about the protagonist trying to formulate an equation to make predictions in his love life, but it's also about what it means to be a prodigy. What most of us don't know is that a prodigy and a genius are two very different things, especially Indians who basically think a genius or prodigy is basically somebody who gets into IIT! However, John Green takes us into the mind of a prodigy and tells what exactly keeps him from being a genius. A lot of crime novelists do ll kinds of research regarding criminal psychology and the world they plan to set their tales in, and John Green doesn't do that. Instead, each of his novels speaks of one thing we really need to know about but never thought to d any research on.
4) Because I would totally love to switch places with John Green! I always wanted to be a writer, but I never wanted to be J.K. Rowling or Chetan Bhagat. In spite of their success, the genres they dabbled in didn't appeal to me. However, John Green is a writer who pens stories for young adults without venturing into cheapness or fantasy. Plus, he's rich and successful and that couldn't hurt, right? So, yeah. If I could give up my architecture course and become John Grenn, I would, and that's really saying something.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
I'm not a big fan of romances. However, this book really touched me. I really cried when Rosie got pregnant and couldn't join Alex in college. I understood the conflict between her love for her daughter Katie and the desire to be her own person. Her boring job, the shoddy accommodations she shares with her daughter, her failed marriage to a compulsive cheater, her lost dreams- it all made sense to me. If the book had been written in a conventional manner (instead the author chose to write it as a series of letters), perhaps there would have been more drama. But as it is, the format that seems boring in the beginning became a joy by the end.
Alex's life as a successful doctor with two sons from two failed marriages is painful to read about. On one hand, he appears to have everything. On the other, he is empty on the inside, caught in failed marriages with women he doesn't love, a father-in-law who controls his careers and an emptiness due to Rosie's absence. I liked Alex. he's the kind of person I would like to be friends with. But at the same time I think he should have been a little braver in some parts.
On the other hand, Rosie is a brave woman. She's been tormented by fate more than most of us but she tides over her life and never loses sight of her dream. Due to her fascination for hotels, she initially wants to study hotel management in Boston where she could also be close to Alex. Her plans are thwarted by her pregnancy. After a string of miserable jobs (including one in a Paper Clip company), she finds a position at a grand hotel. This position doesn't last long, but Rosie gather the courage to be get a diploma in hotel managment, folowing which she gets a job in a hotel with an ugly manager and even uglier rooms. Finally, when she's already crossed 40 years of age, Rosie starts her own business. I cheered for her all along. Had I been in her place, i would never have had the patience to hold on to my dream and fulfil it when I'm older. of course, she does this with the help of Alex and their friendship was believable to the very end. perhaps love isn't all about heat. Perhaps it's about warmth, like in this book.
The supporting characters are a riot, especially Rosie's best friend and obese salsa-lover Ruby and her former teacher and later boss Miss Big Nose Smelly breath Casey. Her parents and sister are supportive of her through her ordeals and her brother's aloofness is somewhat understandable. I kept getting glimpses of the lives of Rosie's family members and the book wouldn't have been the same without that. There's very little mention of Alex's parents and very small descriptions of his wives (most of it is in the subtext), which is why Alex didn't seem as well-rounded a character as Rosie.
However, my favorite character is Rosie's daughter Katie. Vivacious, honest and bright, she has her own friendship-love to boast of and has the quirk and sass to rival Rosie's. She's obviosuly her mother's daughter and a book about her would be so nice. Her correspondence with Alex's wives are especially funny.
A movie version is slated to come out this year, but the trailer give me the impression that it will be modified to suit younger actors.
|Is that Rosie with Roby and Katie?|
|Rosie with Katie|
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Then there's the tragic love story of Sohni Mahiwal. The heroine Sohni, unhappily married to a man whom she despises, swims every night across the river where her beloved Mehar herds buffaloes. One night her sister-in-law replaces the earthenware pot, which she uses to keep afloat in water, with a vessel of unbaked clay, which dissolves in water and she dies in the whirling waves of the river. She could have lived happily ever after if she only had a small boat.
And then there were the floods in Mumbai. So many people stranded, so many loved ones lost. At the time, I used to live in Delhi, so the floods were just something I read about in the papers. But three years later, when I moved to Mumbai, I realized I could easily have been one of those people who lost someone close to them or spent hours or maybe even days wondering if they were okay.
I could never let the apocalypse come in the way of me and someone I love. I could never let the replacement of an earthen pot (or a mean sister-in-law) decide who I should or shouldn't be with. And I would die if I had to lose someone to nature's fury. Fact is, if I love someone I'd sail across the seven seas and walk despite the fircest storms just to be with them. it's as simple as that. If you've ever had parents, children, siblings, boyfriends/ girlfriends or even friends that you've loved with all your heart, you'll understand what I'm saying.
Being an architecture student, I try to find the answer to everything through design. I wish there was some design that could keep relationships from falling apart, but unfortunately the only design that can do that is God's design. All we can ever do is try to protect our beloved people and if possible, do it as creatively as possible. See, everyone wants to provide for and protect the people they love, but only sometimes do we have the presence of mind and the creative faculties to know what to do. Ask a man whose precious wife is sinking in depression and therefore mentally going away to a place he cannot reach. Ask parents whose children are growing apart from and soon the inevitable will happen and the children just wont need the parents anymore. Ask someone who works abroad and only gets to see his family once a year. Ask these people and they'll all tell you that they wish things could be different, they wish they could have done something to modify the existing situations so all problems can be solved. But they just don't know what to do!
And it's when you're desparate that you should start getting creative.
I'm an educated girl. If everything goes according to plan, I'll have a stable life by the time I'm 30. But can I protect my family from terrorism and violence? No. I just don't know what to do. It's strange, but people not half as educated as us sometimes know how to protect their loved ones from enemies. Take for example the the Korowai people of Papua New Guinea. They build tree houses 40 meters high to protect their children from people neighbouring headhunter tribes.
|Treehouse built by Korowai people of Papua New Guinea|
(For more, visit http://bit.ly/1epU8Uj)
Sunday, February 23, 2014
My roommates were nice, but unki condition definitely serious thi. I realized this on my first PG fun night. It started out with en exchange of ghost stories. Okay, so I made one up because I didn't want to be left out, but it wasn't the horror story narration contest that was the highlight of the night. It was the talk about relationships.
"Hey, don't you have a boyfriend?" asked Mousumi. I said no. i was utterly unattractive in high-school, kind of fat with lopsided eyebrows, and no boy would look at me. But Mousumi wasn't interested in my typical high-school outcast status story. In fact, she was shocked and said, "But everybody in this PG is engaged.”
Yep, you read that one right. They say they're engaged when they're dating in Kolkata. The minute she said this, my brain cried "SERIOUS ALERT!!" Because these girls are either really serious about their relationships or, well, unki condition bahut zyaada hi serious hai.
And then began the serious discussion about boyfriends, my first discussion of this nature.
Without any participation on my part, the discussion moved on to kissing. I know, all parents of teenaged or college-going girls reading this are probably squirming in their seats right now, but hey, weren't half of you married at my age? So, let us have our discussions in peace with no fear of your daughters getting out of hand. (And by the way, if your daughter in Miss Goody Two Shoes, I suggest you check her phone).
So anyways, there was some talk about kissing, when a girl from the next room got all serious and said, "You won't believe how naughty my friends are. They'd push me so I fall on him and then it would happen because our faces would be so close.” If you heard her, you'd think she really is sick and tired of her friends. huh! As if something like a kiss can really be that accidental. I mean, isn't there some intentional puckering involved? Then another girl from the next room said, "I had my first kiss in my class, in front of my friends.” She was very proud about it. And the first person that popped into my head was this woman:
Yep. Thank you Miss Mallika Sherawat for making kissing discussable. If you hadn't gone around doing it in all your films, the Censor Board would never have minded you, the papers would never have articles about the Censor Board minding you so people wouldn't talk about what you were doing, and therefore, they'd never say anything about what they're doing. I know that's confusing, but it's true.
(For more anti-serious baatein, visit and like the Cadbury 5Star Facebook page)