Thursday, July 31, 2008

Death of Voice of India

When my brother told me that Ishmeet is dead, I did not know who he was. I’m not too much into TV, at least not into any of these reality shows. I used to watch Sa Re Ga Ma, once upon a time, but that was during good old days when there was only one such show which was a quality show nurturing budding talents. Right from Sonu Nigam to Shreya Ghosal – many singers owe their stardom to this show. But now, I’m not too sure.

Nevertheless, the next question I asked was, who Ishmeet? He said - the winner of Voice of India! Even though I did not know who he was, I could not help logging on to Rediff, and find out what happened.

Then I vaguely remembered having seen him passingly during channel surfing. I have been reading about his tragic death in different journals and online communities, but frankly it sounds too bad too be true. Look at this person, who must have had several dreams, after winning the reality show and winning lots of deals as a result. How many dreams his family might have had for his son, and in any case, losing a young son is a blow to any family – emotionally, psychologically as well as financially.

Somehow it does not sound true or justified that somebody who worked his way towards victory, beating all the odds and competition from several talents from across India, should be taken away by fate in such an inconsequential accident. Famous people don’t die like that, do they?

The Spreading Tentacles of Terror

It was shocking to hear about bomb blasts in Bangalore, and then in Ahmedabad. It was even more frightening to learn that about 20 live bombs were detected in the diamond city, Surat. Where are we heading to? What are we living on? I was in Mumbai when the devastating bomb blasts happened in Mumbai 2 years back. Luckily, I was at home, but several of our fellow office people, were not so lucky. Staying amid such error, the first thing which struck was, who was lucky and who was not. We were scared to find out if any of our known people were stuck in that mishap!

I remember, practically, all the channels had some or the other eye-witnesses giving exclusive details of the terrorists who kept the bombs in the trains, but after listening to those accounts and their re-runs and re-re-runs, nothing really came out of it. At least, I’m not aware if we did nab anybody for the Mumbai tragedy. In fact, what ever comes out of such devastating incidents? At least, the common man is not aware. I agree, it must be very difficult to hunt a needle out of a haystack but there must be a way, similar to the sources through which they find out about the bombs in the first place. Our Intelligence Agencies must find out a way, to make us feel safer in our homes.

Today, it is scary how the terror has spread across the country. We are not safe any more. Even if we go out to enjoy, there is always a fear at the back of our minds. Where do we go from here? How does one deal with it? Shall we go back to our small towns and villages to live in peace, and quit chasing bigger dreams? May be putting up CCTV cameras as in US, can be of some help in such situations. In fact, we will be able to address a lot of crimes which happen on public places, through such cameras.

When nothing happens, nothing happens; and you tend to put all this in back-burner. Forget about it and move on with life. But what really hurts is the people who suffer in all these, the people who had been unfortunate to be at wrong place when the terror strikes; and definitely it is not easy for their families to forget such incidences for a long, long time.

Pyaar Ke Side Effects

I saw Pyaar Ke Side Effects for the nth time yesterday. This movie never fails to amuse me. All through the movie, I and my hubby were giving each other side-glances with unspoken I know. I must say that the script writer has done an amazing job in understanding the typical behaviour of a girl and a boy. We had so many occasions when we felt they were talking about us, and I’m sure everyone feels the same way.

When Rahul Bose’s sister says “ladkon ko to obvious cheezen dikhti hi nahi hain”, I could not agree less. Whether it is about a wet towel lying on the bed, or the newspaper strewn all over the sofa or the lid of the oil can left open – these are all typical behaviour of a guy. I don’t know if they secretly taught to do all these.

My hubby also got opportunity to get back at me when Rahul Bose and Mallika go shopping after their engagement; one of the side effects was - aapko suddenly dher sari shopping karni padegi, un cheezon ki jiski aapko kabhi zaroorat mehsoos nahi hui. Ab mujhe kya pata ki is colour ke walls ke sath us colour ke curtains ke saath kaise lagenge! Well, been there, done that. Guys just don’t have imagination. If you will do everything and then understand how it will look, then what’s the point? You need to visualize!

The opening scene was hilarious too. Rahul Bose says that women always ask questions like do you love me or how much you love me right in the middle of a critical match. Well, my opinion is guys don’t like to talk about these things much, while girls do. Guys think if you love someone, you love someone; you don’t need to say it again and again. But women do like expression of feelings more, and it does feel like a mere match is more important for your guy than you. It reminds me of a hilarious joke which somebody forwarded to me:

Her Diary

Today night, I thought he was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a cafe to have some coffee.

I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment. Conversation wasn't flowing so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk, he agreed but he kept quiet and absent.

I asked him what was wrong - he said, "Nothing."

I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said it had nothing to do with me and not to worry.

On the way home I told him that I loved him, he simply smiled and kept driving. I can't explain his behavior; I don't know why he didn't say, "I love u, too."

When we got home I felt as if I had lost him, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He just sat there and watched TV.; he seemed distant and absent.

Finally I decided to go to bed. About 10 minutes later he came to bed.I decided that I could not take it anymore, so I decided to confront him with the situation but he had fallen asleep. I started crying and cried until I too fell asleep.

I don't know what to do. I'm almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else.My life is a disaster.

His Diary

Today India lost the cricket match against Bangladesh. Damn it!

Need I say more?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuning in to the Idiot Box

I saw 2 episodes of Khatron ke Khiladi on the new channel Colors. After reading so much about the reality behind Reality shows, I still have my doubts whether the stunts shown are for real. Everyday there is some natak on each and every show. Come on, suddenly everyone started showing their tantrums and arguing on camera.

Coming back to the show, yesterday they showed girls putting their hands in three jars containing some kind of earth worms, cockroaches and frogs respectively. They had to find keys in each jar to open three locks. I had been particularly impressed by Yana Gupta so far considering she did not even wince so far in any of the stunts, whether going up the ladder to as high as 12 floors and moving across the building on an extremely narrow support; or to let 5 crabs hover around her head. She did show hesitation in putting her hand in the jars containing cockroaches, etc, but over all she was commendable.

I read somewhere that Nethra has won this season, but I don’t know how true is that. Anyways, the reality shows are not so alluring any more. There are so many of them and you don’t know which one to watch and all of them have the same TV actors either dancing or enacting something or performing some stunt. Come on, we already get a huge dose of these people in daily soap. Who wants to see them again in rest of the time.

So that is why I choose to watch Star World or Zee Café or any of the English movie channels. I found that they are running Who’s the Boss? on Zee Café. So if I’m home early, I catch up with this childhood favourite on Zee Café. Then it is one hour of FRIENDS - first half hour on Star World then on Zee Café. I really don’t know why I keep watching them when I have seen all of them at least a million times.

Moving on to something completely unrelated. I am shocked to learn that Mahesh Bhatt wants to re-make Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahi with Himesh Reshammiya. I am aghast. I loved that movie. Also, read somewhere that Aamir is planning to produce the re-make of Andaz Apna Apna with Salman Khan. I am game for any Aamir movie. I trust his creative sensibilities. He cannot not make a good movie.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How to find a Good Book to Read

I love books – the joy of owning them, the freedom to hold them whenever I want – is exhilarating. Of course, only a book lover can understand this. It is a wonderful feeling. Yesterday I counted the books I have right now. I own more than a 100 books right now, and I’m not counting those stacked in boxes, which I have already read. They are a healthy mix of chick lit, travelogues, autobiographies, general fiction, books on creative writing, grammar, general non-fiction and humour.

Adding more books to my proud possession is my favourite pastime. I will share a few things which I do to find about interesting books:

I skim through the Book Review pages of Magazines and Newspapers to find out if anything appeals to me. Some of the magazines I refer are Business World (look at the last pages), Business Today (last pages) and Femina for Books recommendations. While as far as newspaper goes, Times of India also carries book reviews, though The Hindu has some wonderful reviews. You can also check out New York Times.

Just go to Google and type the genre you are interested in like Books Chick lit or Top 100 books or Best Books 2008 or recommend read women. These key words, most of the times, lead you to sites where interesting books on the genre of your choice would be listed. You just need to select one of the links, pick up book names and again go to Google. Type Book Review name of the book. I have found numerous interesting books as well as several interesting book sites through this exercise.

All online book shopping sites show Related Books or Bestsellers or Customers who bought this book also bought. These links will lead you to some interesting books which you might not even heard of. The problem with Bookshops as well as popular review sites is that you will find the same books everywhere. So whether you go to Crossword or Landmark or Odyssey, you would see Three mistakes of my life or The Secret or Unaccustomed Earth. But believe me there is a world of interesting books out there which cannot be accommodated in the limited space of a bookshop. That is when online shopping comes handy.

Online shopping for books can be quite economical too. There are a couple of site which I have tried myself:
I have found Indiaplaza the cheapest, even after adding shipping charges. Rediff, Flipkart and FirstandSecond have free shipping. But sometimes you don’t get a book at one place, then you can go to the other site. I compare prices at all the sites and then place the order. Now I have completely stopped buying off the racks because you cannot compare prices that way.

It is sad that Amazon does not really have services in India, since it has practically all books which I have ever searched for. I think it is high time Amazon starts it’s services for India. But you can trust Amazon to read Reviews and find similar books to what you have liked. There’s Barnes and Noble as well to read about interesting books. I also chanced upon Powells while looking for book reviews. It is an interesting site for reading reviews.

Google is an amazing tool through which, if you put the right key words, you can get exactly what you want. For example, I wanted to search some good books on creative writing. If you put good books creative writing, it will lead you to shopping sites or paid sites, which will be linked as good books creative writing. Here you need to do a little thinking. If you are an experienced writer and writing a column on creative writing, you would also mention some good books on creative writing for reference. So you would definitely write words “recommend” “books” “creative writing” or “refer” “books” “creative writing” or “additional” “studies” “creative writing”. Trust me, there is everything on internet. If you can think of the right words, you will reach your destination.

You may also try Online Book Clubs like Shelfari to learn about new books. I have never used that personally but it can come handy. I am not really into Award winning books because most of the times I do not understand such books like I tried reading Life of Pi but left it mid-way. If I don’t like it, I don’t like it; even if it is an award winning book. Who cares!

Several times you would like to explore certain subjects like I wanted to read about Mahabharata. It never convinced me that Mahabharata would be so black & white as was shown on TV. There are enough complex characters to make it an interesting subject. So my research led me to some wonderful books like Yajnaseni by Pratibha Ray (originally in Oriya), Rethinking the Mahabharata by Alf Hiltebeitel, Yuganta by Irawati Karve, Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari and The Book of Yudhisthir, a translation by Sujit Mukherjee of Mahabharater Katha by Buddhadeva Bose.

Create your Wishlist. Personally, I have created my Wishlist and keep adding interesting books to the list. I have made folders of different genres and subjects. I save the book names, not as names, but I rather save the image of the book cover. That way after several days I will be able to recollect about the book. I also make wish lists on all the sites mentioned above. But I do that only after comparing prices. So that later on when I decide to buy a book, I just need to go to the Wish list and buy it straightaway.

I hope I have made your life a little easier. Believe it or not, there is actually a book named So many books, So Little Time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pappu can't dance! Nobody’s compaining!

After being hounded by Aamir Khan and Imraan Khan on all Channels, and every possible , even the Rakhi Sawant show, there was enough excitement around “Jaane Tu Ya Jane Na”. We were supposed to go last Sunday itself but it is running houseful everywhere. Even this Sunday, after much exercise, we finally got the tickets at City Pride, Kothrud. But anyways, it was all worth it. I loved it.

Yeah, the story was clichéd but Abbas Tyrewala did handle it very beautifully. Imraan Khan is good and almost effortless. Genelia looks very refreshing and effervescent. I think she is very lucky. The way she has been presented in this film, you do not seem to realize that you have seen her quite a few times before. Surprisingly, that she just had another release called “Mere Baap Pehle Aap”, which I am sure was an innocuous movie, there is no baggage of the fate of that movie on this one.

The much talked about song “Pappu can’t dance sala” could have been not there, it does not have any story implications on the movie; and same goes for the other popular song “Kabhi Kabhi Aditi”. But they are there and we don’t mind it. When Aamir Khan is endorsing the movie whole hog, and to top it all when he found value in producing this movie, then it is certificate enough for movie buffs like me to watch this movie.

The Critics have given good ratings to the movie, although they have cribbed as usual on a couple of illogical things or “how this can happen” twists in the tale. But we have been OK with several twists millions of times for the sake of the movie, so just let’s leave it at that.

Everything said and done, obviously, this will appeal more to the younger audience but it is good fun for the entire family as well.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Deja Vu

When I was in school, Star Plus used to be an English channel and it used to run and re-run episodes of Small Wonder. I wonder, where has it gone these days. They do not show that endearing serial any more. I also remember all the other old serial re-runs which used to come on Star Plus every morning—I Dream of Jeannie, Who’s the Boss? (I caught one of the episodes on TV recently), Dennis the Menace (I have some really funny memories while watching this serial with my mum and brother), the Nanny, and several more. Those were old times. In fact, I always think that sometimes when there is a song or a movie or a serial is the background of any of the important moments of your life or related to some way with the numerous memories of your life, it always creates a déjà vu when you listen to that song, or watch that movie or serial again.

That takes me to another phenomenon called Time Machine. The other day I and my hubby were discussing about what really is a Time Machine? If there is any truth in the theory that there are similar Universe like our’s parallel to our Universe which are moving in different time zones, then this is Time machine! My hubby said, if you can move faster than the speed of light, you can experience Time Machine hear and now! But my argument is that even if that happens, you would not be able to meet you as in 50 years ago or 50 years forward. But of you are able to go to a parallel Universe which is in the Time Zone of 59 years ago, then you will be able to see how you were 50 years back!

I don’t know how many of you get this feeling - sometimes when I am saying something, I feel that I have already said the exact thing, in an exact way in the exact setting; a kind of déjà vu. I think somehow this is also related to this logic of parallel world. I must have said the same thing in the other world at exactly same time, same place. Sounds interesting and creepy at the same time.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

An evening with “Koffee with Karan”

Yesterday I caught Shabana Azmi and Shobha De on Koffee with Karan. I found both women very eloquent and articulate. It was quite impressive the way they answered all Karan’s questions without treading onto any controversial zone. It was really commendable. As long as their works goes, let us begin with Karan Johar. I think he needs to look beyond Shahrukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Priety Zinta, Kajol and Amitabh Bachchan. He admitted that he does not like being called a candy floss director, but the reality is that is what he is. Why does not he takes a chance and ventures into something fresh for the audience, why do rona-dhona which anyways Ekta Kapoor shows everyday on TV. Give us a break. I have never liked any of his movies. They have been absolutely illogical and over-the-top. I don’t know what everyone sees in those movies. He did a messy job of Infidelity in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (it was so forgettable that I forgot even the name of the movie and had to dig out from Google). He did a weird thing in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, when the friends marry in the end. Besides, Kal Ho Na Ho was weirdest movie in which the hero pushes his girl-friend towards another guy after finding out that he has some incurable disease; and the girl-friend happily does so.

I have always loved Shabana Azmi’s acting; she is completely natural and effortless in all her movies. My all time favourite movie is Arth, no doubt. She comes across as an intellectual and compassionate human being.
I absolutely hate Shobha De. She can call herself a “Social Commentator” but she should not be accredited for any contribution to Literature. She writes absolute crap. If we had to read such crap, we would buy sleazy stuff off the roads; why should they be given space in respectable book shops. Besides, I vaguely remember one of her books is now part of one of the Universities abroad! If she started the tabloid culture, then she did a great job there; but I do not acknowledge her as an author or even a columnist. All her columns are similar crappy material. Nevertheless, I do admit that she looks gorgeous for a 60 year old!

Kahaani Hamare Mahabharat Ki

I don’t know whether Ekta Kapoor is going to do justice to Mahabharata in her version of the greatest epic of all times, but it sure has instigated a deep curiosity in me. I happened to see one episode of Kahani hamare Mahabharat ki. Frankly, it looked like our friends from saas-bahu serials doing role plays in some Roman drama. You feel that suddenly these characters would wake up and get back to their daily groove of rona-dhona. Let us just leave this new serial at this and move on at the real story – the Mahabharata.

I have always been intrigued by the characters of Mahabharata. Although no-doubt B.R.Chopra’s version is the most we understood about this epic, but it really is about interpretation. I never really believed that Bhishma had to lie on the pointed heads of the arrows, so dramatically put up, during his last days. I never really could come to terms with Draupadi having five husbands. I mean, kings having hundreds of queens is casually accepted and expected by now, but a queen having five husbands is unheard of before or after Draupadi. I never could understand why she was led to this, and why she allowed others and herself to go through this.

I have ordered a book called Yajnaseni by Pratibha Ray, which is about Draupadi. Originally written in Oriya, this book throws some light on the persona of this complicated queen in a very complicated relationship.

Yesterday I read an Article on whether Draupadi was actually disrobed in the Dice hall of Hastinapur. I must say, it was disturbing to read, but comforting that the Article concludes that she was not intentionally disrobed but it was the result of being dragged. The most harrowing fact is that despite having endured the blot of being called a woman of five husbands, alas, none of the husbands stood up to her when she needed them.
There are a couple of more books which are worth reading on similar subjects: Yuganta by Irawati Karve and Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari.