Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why I would stop watching Bollywood movies one day!

I am not a cynic. I am not even a wannabe hipster or non-conformist. I am a brand conscious, loyalist movie buff, one of the many of my kind in India.

I grew up watching bollywood movies, regular Hollywood movies, dubbed Hollywood movies, subtitled Hollywood movies, Indian Sitcoms, English Sitcoms, and such. While growing up, I never had any issues with the kind of entertainment dished out by Indian movie makers; but then something happened. I grew up, and bollywood refused to.

Before writing off this argument, have a look at this:

Now if you really feel that all the movies listed above were good cinema, not just crap bombarded into so many screens that you end up watching it for the lack of options, well, I don’t think you should read ahead. I am not talking about movies that made money. I am not talking about movies that had a big banner associated to it. I am talking about a movie that made sense. I see very few of those.

Now mind you, I am not asking for a Tarantino or a Scorsese or a Spielberg here. No, that wouldn't be fair to demand because there probably won’t be enough number of people to appreciate that cinema. However, I refuse to believe that an Indian version of a Zack Snyder or a Michael Bay would be hard to find. Indian cinema lives on overstatements and extravaganza; and a little logic to it wouldn't hurt anyone.

I mean rather than watching a car fly off 30 feet in the sky just because of a knife stuck in its wheel, I’d rather like to see it transform into an Autobot and then fly 30 feet.

And what in the world do I compare to movies where 50 year old actors are romancing 20-somethings and pretending to be all young and awesome! Yes, I am talking about Jab Tak Hai Jaan. I mean, why oh why SRK would you subject your ‘were-once-fans’ to this humongous tortures?

So yes, if this is the trend, and these are the kind of movies which movie-goers really have started to appreciate, I really wouldn't blame the people who make these brainless excuses of crap. I mean, if crap sells, crap will be manufactured. However, what I can do on my end is stop this mad-hunt; stop spending my hard earned money and time on bollywood movies. Sure I will miss out that rare ‘Ship of Theseus’ or ‘Paan Singh Tomar’, but at least I won’t be subjected to another 3 hour snooze fest called ‘Chennai Express’, no sir.

P.S. – Even as I type this, I know it is too much to ask for, but if you are reading this, just think of the last good Indian movie that you saw and tell me about it via email or comment. Tell me what it made you think and why you thought it was a good idea to see that movie. It might just give me some different perspective.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why they can’t make another Breaking Bad and why they shouldn't try!

Walter White is badass. I don’t have another way to begin saying this. There was tons of speculation with regards to the season finale of the epic Breaking Bad. Since the beginning, this show has been surprising (pleasantly and shockingly) everyone. I mean, who would've thought that post-mid-life crisis struck chemistry professor from Albuquerque, New Mexico who broke bad, could throw up such an intense thriller. I suppose then that’s what the selling point of the entire premise. No one did.

(Spoilers Ahead!) From a tangential view, it is a story of a man who feels cheated by life that he was denied the life and fortune he deserved, only to be subjected to a life of wanting and misery (signified by cancer) and decides to snatch it all back and not lose the only other chance that was thrown at him. Walter White is what we call the second coming.

However, if one deeply examines, there are several layers to the story. Take his complex relationship with Jesse Pinkman. In some twisted way, Walt is protective of Jesse. At one point in the story, it looked like he might not care if he had to get rid of his Skyler, his wife of 30 years, but his allegiance to Jesse is definitely something he doesn't want to lose. Jesse Pinkman is the life Walter White would chose if he was given the option. However, Heisenberg wouldn't care for a low-riding car and an oversize jacket. The story clearly demarcates how family guy called Walt is conflicted with the power hungry Heisenberg, and yet, with every passing moment, becomes more Heisenberg, and less Walt!
Be it the cold blooded poisoning of a kid (Brock) or the meticulously planned execution of Gus Fring (his dual identity as the socially responsible Col. Sanders and the druglord aptly ending with a two-faced death); every step Walt takes is both sheer genius and pure evil out of the necessity of providing ; both for his family and his ego (He is in the Empire business – Badass!).

And that’s the reason I don’t take anything away from Walt. He is a genius. He is a family guy. He is the chemist. He is the empire. He is a murderer. He is a solicit father to Holly, Walt Jr (Flynn? What was that?) and even Jesse. He is what every one that was denied what war rightfully theirs wants to be. He is what one desires, but can seldom confess. He is HEISENBERG.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Ride, The Hill and The Panic

Bike trips have certain romanticism around them; a certain amount of aura that could possibly never be garnered around a road trip in a car or a cruise trip around an island or otherwise. I like to believe that the single largest reason for this would be that most bikers (males and females alike) feel a level of association with their bikes which is strong, almost love-like, and the elements of the motorcycle ends up being an integral part of the biker’s ego. I might be wrong, of course, but this is what I like to believe.

It might not be difficult to guess, hence, that I own a bike. I would, however, not call myself a hardcore biker. That genus of people is a much higher, much holier race. I haven’t (and possibly would never) done cross countries on my motorbike. I have never even owned a dirt-bike or an off-roader (ah, what would I not give to have one which I could actually use). Having said that, I have been riding for close to 10 years on different motorbikes, mostly for transit reasons, and I have enjoyed every single moment of it. 

I have, hence, on several occasions, planned small and long excursions on bikes but have never quite got around writing about it. This would be a first. As described in one of my previous blogs, I have a good mini-cruiser at my disposal which is capable pretty much everything I’d need to do in a city right from handling those treacherous potholes, caressing the super-curves the roads can throw at you and those occasional ego-bursts of drag races. I have always believed it is capable of handling inclines as comfortably as it handles highways. I decided to put this belief to test.

Matheran is a small (Tiniest in the world according to the state travel website) hill station near Mumbai (Close to 80 kilometers/50 miles from where I stay). It is not at a great altitude (~800m) but it is in proximity, has a clean image owing to ban on vehicles of any sort and strict anti-littering laws. The tiny landscape provides a brilliant option of hiking across the hill/forest terrain.

The Beginning: As with any short distance trip, this one was on the planning chart for way too long. After a long, long wait, the plunge was taken and on a perfect Saturday morning from Mulund. We took the much damaged Shil-Phata, Ambernath, Badlapur, Neral route. The ride mostly was pleasant with the excesses of rain as was the case with the week before. Once one reaches Neral, there is a hilly road which can be pretty steep and the ideal gear of riding moves from 4th-5th to 1st-2nd. This is a tricky deal, considering the mountain road is not long, but still happens to be really steep at some places.

The Hike: Once the hill road is over, one needs to park the bike at a privately managed parking lot at the beginning point of the hill town. The ever-paranoid me was concerned with the safety of my beloved bike in such a place; the fears were unfounded as it turns out.
Onwards, one can choose to take a horse, hike or the tiny toy train to reach Matheran station. As much as my childhood memories wanted me to take the train (which is really tiny, believe me, one of the last narrow gauge tracks in India), we adopted the more practical and fun way of hiking up. This is the point where I make reference to my Woodland shoes which never, ever fail me, and are the best companions for a bike ride, a hike, or a walk on the beach. This trek uphill is lovely, with some breathtaking valley views, some monkeys trying to snatch whatever looks remotely like food, the train puffing its way on the tiny track, and over excited teenagers screaming to make it look like they are having the most fun. Ok, I could live without the last part. 

There are some small vendors serving hikers with choicest idli-chutney and wada paos. In the event you haven’t had breakfast for beating early traffic in Mumbai, this can be your reprieve. The trek is not long, and I strongly recommend it going uphill.  

The Hill and The Point: Beautiful and quaint. This sums up everything about this place. The place has mainly volcanic red laterite based non-metalled roads. These make for good trek as long as you’re not worried about bringing home a lot of red-soil with your shoes. Being a hill, there are obviously several points from where one can have wonderful view of the valley. Most of the popular points such as Lake Charlotte, Lord’s point and One Tree Hill point are frequented by tourists. Lake Charlotte opens into a small gorge that flows into a 100 meter tall waterfall. The view and the mist are soothing.

The walk from Lake Charlotte to One Tree Hill was one of the most soothing and satisfying things I have done in recent times. There is no sound of vehicles, no hustle, no hurry, you can hear hill birds singing back to you if you whistle. If you stay on the main outside track, there is a good chance you can finish the trek in less than 2 hours. One Tree Hill point, as the name suggests, overlooks a small hill which has a solitary tree on top of it. The landscape here is such that clouds come very close to you and the wind is exceptionally fast. This was hands down the high point of the trip.

After One Tree Hill, there is a junction point where you can either take the tourist road to reach back the market area of the city, or take a longer, untouched jungle road. Being the adventurers that we are, we took the jungle road, and believe me when I say this, this road is long, and with falling darkness, it can even seem unending. I panicked at some point when I couldn’t see a human face for close to 2 hours of brisk walking. This road, however is sheer beauty. The jungles and the birds make a great company and bring you as close to nature as one can without the risk of being lost or having a guide. The trek culminates near Matheran Police station.

The People: One thing I have noticed about hill stations is that most people you will find here are very friendly. Right from the hotel staff till the kid who sold us tea and boiled corn, humility is the way of life in Matheran. In a Utopian world, I would like to see the whole world having this kind of humility and happiness; but that’s for another post.

The Return: After a long, tiring day, sleep comes easy. Next morning, after a colossal breakfast, we started our downward trek. Trains were not functioning (sigh) because of the rains and hence we trekked downhill again. This trek was as eventful as the previous one as a few daredevil monkeys took a go at my helmet assuming it to be food. They failed in their endeavors, fortunately. I found my bike safely resting in the parking lot, and I thanked my stars for the same. 

I have always known that going downhill on a bike is always much more challenging than going uphill. It is a bigger test of skill and patience than the former. The downward journey was slow and nice and thankfully it wasn’t raining. We took a break at this small shack serving tea near a gorge. The sun was smiling down and the world was good. This was the moment when I realized that I was less than 24 hours away from being in the hustle of the city life. Life has its tricky ways, doesn’t it?
Once the mountain road was over, the remaining 70 kilometers were relatively simpler, barring the occasional breaks to give my back and lower body a reprieve from the incessant riding. Just like in a work out, the pain from riding a bike is a good feeling, especially after a wonderful weekend in the hills. 

Mumbai Again: The re-entry into atmosphere was quite a ride with roads dried up and empty. The 70-odd kilometer ride with extremely bad roads for close to 20 of them was covered in little under 2 hours (which is remarkable, considering the kind of roads/traffic).
This trip shall be remembered; for the romanticism of the bike ride, the sublimity of One Tree Hill, the sheer truthfulness of my panic mode in the jungle terrain, the serenity of Lake Charlotte, the love of having deserving company, and for all the red soil I brought home.
As they rightly say, dirtier your shoes, better the journey was!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

What happens in Mumbai, well, doesn't stay in Mumbai!

It’s been long since I wrote anything, literally, in here. I am pretty ambitious that way about my writing adventures. I have a blog, a Twitter profile, a Facebook page, a couple of books I have been eternally working on (typical writer’s block, you know), and I don’t write in one single place!
So anyway, this blog post is honestly a little more than a pointless ramble. It also marks a personal landmark for me. I am about to finish 3-full-year in Mumbai (Some say it’s the city of dreams! Bet they haven’t really been in the Mumbai local or got caught in a traffic jam at Sakinaka or have had to deal with any government officials by far!)
In other news, couple of quarters back (yes, that’s right, that’s corporate-speak for 6 months) I finally got myself a ride in Mumbai. It’s a swanky bike, and I am positively in love with it. I am highly petro-sexual (a term I like to believe I invented, but to be honest I heard it somewhere else, and which means anything that burns a lot of fuel and goes from 0-60 in under 9 seconds gets me really high) and enjoy riding my bike more than most other things I do. Especially longer drives, where I get to do some of the antics on the bike (strictly non-risk taking ventures). 

In these ~6-months of riding my bike in Mumbai, I realized that riding in Mumbai is quite different that riding in any other city in India. Of course I have been on 2 wheels since 2003, which makes it around 9 years of riding experience.
How different is it to ride in Mumbai? Well, here are a few pointers, not exhaustive by any means:
  • Most times, you are riding at a speed of 0.27 kilometers per hour, and you feel liberated when you can actually move to the third gear
  • People, rather than taking a shorter route, will take the highway, even if doubles the travel distance because it reduces the time (I do it all the time!)
  • 60 cc, 75 cc, 100 cc, 125 cc, 150 cc, 200 cc, 220 cc, 250 cc, 600 cc, 1000 cc, and so on. All these two wheelers move at the same speed in Mumbai on 84.7% percent of the roads (totally reliable, not made up statistics).
  • One thing that Mumbai roads have similar to other cities of India, and I speak from experience is pedestrians and people crossing streets. This in itself can have it’s own set of pointers, believe me:
    • No one walks on the sidewalks, everyone wants to crowd the roads, because, you know, that’s how we roll
    • People crossing the streets have a sense of humor. Positively. Some of them run, literally. Some of them meander, looking to their right, when a world of traffic is coming from their left. Others, and these ones are my personal favorites, act like they are running, with all expressions, and realistic dramatic moves, while actually still maintaining the same speed while crossing a street.
  • People on the road are mostly very helpful. Believe me, this is uncommon.  I have had driving instructions on the highway from people who were also driving and these directions turned out to be spot-on, better than Google Maps.
Anyhow, what does matter is that life in Mumbai is great as usual. I was always worried about how it would b when the population doubles with the high birthrate as well as the unending rate of immigration. Roads are getting saturated, parking lots and street side parking are almost perpetually full, and I have never, ever gone 10 kilometers at a stretch without seeing congestion on one of the sides of the road. True as that maybe, Mumbai has witnessed couple of years of negative immigration rate, meaning people are actually flowing out of Mumbai, and that might help the situation!
All in all, rollicking 3 years in Mumbai (now Thane, residence wise), and hopefully a few more to go.
P.S: Did I mention that Mumbai summers are really cruel? And when they end, there is monsoon, which blocks streets because of water logging? Well that for another post, maybe. Laterz.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On My Mind

Haven't been able to write much lately. Work-Life(what's that)-imbalance actually. There have been so many things on my mind.

Work-Mind Numbing
Pressure-It literally makes my back crackle
Home-Err, where is it?
Books-See them once in a while. New genre on the block
TV-Cricket, Sad-Ass realty shows
Internet-Less of FB, More of Databases, research support
Clothes-Washed vs. unwashed
Food-Bad, Spicey, Overcooked, Tasty, Fattening
Friends-Angered, distant, drifting, close, missed, nostalgic, practical
Words-So few to suffice what is the state of my mind
State of mind-No words to explain that
Movies-Any and every, mostly shit
Poetry-Read a few, wrote none
Truth-Still believe in it
God-umm... For later maybe
Wishlist-Huge, unaffordable, and sometimes, over-ambitious
Dream-To wake up
Things-Rose coloured spectacle
Issues-Many, from traffic to future tense
Finances-Gone with the wind
Music-Transit radio, random songs, caller tunes
This post-Irrelevant, unnecessary

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Indian Premier League and the Grand Analogy

Have been pretty inactive on the blogging front lately. Sheer lack of time and laziness I must say. This is just another tiny, lazy attempt to write something about which I have got to thinking lately.

Cricket. It's not the first time I have thought about writing about this sport. Honestly, on a scale of to 1 to 10, my cricket abilities and knowledge is very close to 2, or at best 3. But I am an enthusiast nevertheless, and well, India is democratic country (last time I checked), so I can write, comment, criticize all that I want to.

It must feel weird to be English. It's like you invent something, form it, nurture it, develop it, gift it to the world, and then, you suck at it. Such is the state of English cricket and football most days. (Note: England just won the T20 World Cup, so some might not agree to the statement here, but nevertheless, T20 is hardly cricket, and England is hardly all that talented, and we all know it)

Every time I see the coveted Indian Premier League, and the abysmal amount of sixes and 200+ scores being generated on the batter's heaven grounds, I get a feeling that, whoa, this is the way cricket should be. The more the adrenaline, the better. I also feel the overall bowling standards also will improve this way, because competition always brings out the best, and this principle of modern economics works (almost) everywhere.

So here comes the analogy. For the past two years, the IPL champion teams have been contesting the Champions League T20. The top 3 of the biggest cricket league ever (i.e. The IPL) haven't been able to scratch much in the larger, much macro version of T20. These teams broadly fail to convince us that they were the same lot who zapped the score boards a few months back. This phenomenon reminded me of the English Premier League. (Now before you smart the wise-arse comment about the IPL being based on the EPL, please read on) I have seen Indian cricketers and teams perform at humungous levels in the IPL and then cutting a sorry figure at the champions trophy and the International T20s when the represent their clubs or countries at a higher level of fair competition. I can't but draw a comparison to the club players like Rooney, Ronaldo, Lampard, Torres who perform like they have no compare in present day football. They triumph the English Premier League.

So what is it that makes Rooney in Man Utd. a different person than Rooney in the England? Or for that sake any of the above players? I don't intend to criticize any of these players, Man Utd. being my favourite FC, I picked them up as an example. A similar inroad can be carved about cricket. Players like Manish Pandey, Ambati Rayudu, Robin Utthappa who mesmerized the crowds in the IPL, failed to do so on the international avenue. I am sure they are full of talent, but there has to be a catch why these players have fumbled on more than one occasions.

England football team, and English Premier league hence can be compared to the Indian cricket team and the Indian Premier league. The otherwise star studded team of England (based on the EPL performance) couldn't manage to make it big in the Football world cup and the absolutely unbeatable Indian Side (based, again, on the IPL performance) collapsed like they would give shame to a pack of cards easily.

A lame analogy many would say, but an analogy nevertheless. I fail to understand why, and how the most talented of a certain tournament fail to even register as 'watch out' players in another of the same format.

For now, I'll just wish that in another format, namely the forgotten One-Dayers, the Men in Blue make the mark and bring home the long awaited glory. As for the analogous English Football team, honestly, I don't give as much a damn.

Afterall, Cricket is what this post is about, and Football is just the analogy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I have a feeling, there is someone around,
I look to be sure, and there's noone to be found, 
It's funny to be, so very spell bound, 
Trust me I am sane, crazy I might sound.  

Technology can do, strange things to you, 
It really is just, my point of view, 
You're closer to people, in your life who are new, 
Still those who were dear, are just a few.  

Being pragmatic, I know its just a passing whim, 
I know I sound, even to myself, little dim, 
So what, can't I fall prey to the same, ol' adversary, 
Why do I believe, everything in life is contrary?  

No sermon delivered, no brain cells beleaguered, 
I have come to believe, my value system's disfigured, 
I think I need to change, have my faith transfigured, 
Lets see, they say, Time can get, everyone delivered!