Sunday, July 09, 2006

Rang de basanti

This is a recalled version of my post on Rang de basanti, which I deleted while trying to figure out how editing posts works. I went to see RDB with great expectations because I'd liked Rakesh Mehra's Aks and RDB's promos. The movie left me angry and rueful because I knew the songs, settings and dialogues would hit bullseye at the box office. The youth angst, ennui and restlessness was a slick, clever repetition of Aakash and pals' college life in Dil Chahta Hai, and the brotherhood of the gang reminded me of goody joint family soaps where we-are-one-come-what-may. The film was cleverly packaged with witticisms, patriotic jingoism, a 'national' cast (i.e. 2 people from the South :)) AND a white woman's passion to recreate colonial India's revolutionary struggle (we are so cool even the Brits are interested in us!).

Rang de basanti's strongest message is the exact opposite of what the film claims. The crux of the film- ONE fighter pilot's death (defending us aginst the Pakis!), and Delhi's well-clad middle class is out to protest. RDB consciously distances itself from the really political issues- gender inequality, food insecurity (rememebr the recent starvation deaths?) thousands whose land is being snatched from under their fingernails. No, these things expose the underbelly of the nation too much (and after all India is rising and shining and glittering).

The film uses the most staid of rallying points- patriotic jingoism in fighter pilots and war planes. And the culprits- corrupt politicians. The problem is them, not us; it lies out there. Reminded me of the World Bank looking down its nose at developing countries, saying 'tch tch' and waving its anti-corruption wand.

Rang de basanti plays it so safe, it's a laugh. And then Rakesh Mehra and Aamir Khan find their calls for compensation to Narmada oustees met with howls of protest. It shouldn't have surprised them. People did exactly what they did in RDB- defend the interests of the middle class.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Jessica Lall and Shayan Munshi

In the about-to-release Ahista Ahista Shayan Munshi (who debuted in Jhankaar Beats) dumps the girlfriend he's eloped with outside the marriage court. The perfect role for a guy who ditched the prosecuting lawyers in the Jessica Lall murder case. Shayan Munshi was standing right next to Jessica Lall when she was shot and was a prime witness for Manu Sharma's conviction. At the crucial recent hearing the guy actually pleaded that his original statement had been taken in Hindi which he doesn't know well, and what he really meant to say was that he didn't really know if the shooter was Manu....
Die Shayan. Since your Hindi is so bad, we won't let you act in Bollywood movies.

Saw Aida, a musical at the Muny, St. Louis' annual open-air summer feature. They dedicated it to the first African-American woman to compose for Broadway and the original choreographer-director of Aida.

Anyhow, during the intermission Francesca said St. Louis was yellow.
I said it was brown too.
And then we saw it was more silver than anything.

We were talking about the colour of people's hair.

I managed to delete my wonderful, anger-filled Rang de basanti posting while editing other posts.... waaaaaah! And I think silbil and sudophish's comments got deleted as well.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Book tag

The first book I remember reading: 'Aldaar Kosey'- the cute Kazhak rebel who played pranks on the Tsar's soldiers and always always got the better of them. Raduga Publishers, Connaught Place. lovely thick paper and hardback.

The book that my mom asked me NOT to read and I read: Arthur Hailey's Hotel. I was 10 and I read it anyway.

Book I associate most with love, for whatever reason: Jake by Daphne DuMaurier, no one knows of it but after reading it I HAD to meet Jake and had to know how she knew him, coz of course it was a real person.

Book that should have never finished: Some of Henry Green.

Book I am so embarrassed about liking: Enid Blyton's books.

Book I am so embarrassed about not liking: Amit Chaudhuri.Ok he's a great Indian writer and all that, but I thought he was boring.

One day I will pucca read: Jhumpa Lahiri's Namesake (and I did)

The most erotic book I have read: Most things by Sidney Sheldon : ).

I could't sleep for nights after reading: Manto- It blew me that an Indian writer, a Muslim writer in the '30s and '40s talked cuttingly and brilliantly about sex, violence, class wars, riots and religious conflict. silbil remembers the stories better than i do, there's also the poem 'jelly' by him.

I can never finish reading, though have tried many times: Freidman's 'The World is Flat'. The book proclaims that India and China are the next investment hotspots and outsourcing can only be good good good for the US (coz then Freidman et al can write about how the world's becoming flat). Ask the small ppl who are losing their jobs, and look beyond the internet technology- India and China are not sinks for cheap techie labor.

I bought recently: Amitav Ghosh's latest and Surajmukhi andhere ke (Chugtai?)

My wish list (3 books allowed):
Namesake (!)
Manto in Hindi- want to own his works

and sudophish and silbil are tagged