Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Picture of the day

"New Law:

With the high rate of attacks on women in secluded parking lots, especially during evening hours, the Minneapolis City Council has established a "Women Only" parking lot at the Mall of America. Even the parking lot attendants are exclusively female so that a comfortable and safe environment is created for patrons.

Below is the first picture available of this world-first women-only parking lot in Minnesota."

Disclaimer - The above views constitute a joke and should not be taken seriously.

Friday, March 17, 2006

It's official - Nokiaind is a fraud

Further to my earlier blogs on Nokiaind here, here, and here, note Nokia's mail to me below.

From: NokiaCare (support.services@nokia.com)
Date: Mar 15, 2006 6:19 PM
Subject: Nokia - Web site enquiry

Dear Sir,

Thank you for e-mailing Nokia Care.

In reference to your enquiry regarding Nokia phones, we wish to tell that the offer found on the website by you is not provided by Nokia. Hence, we are unable to guarantee the authenticity of the mobile phones or the accessories purchased from any third party dealer or website.

We thank you for bringing this to our attention and we have forwarded the same to the relevant department.

Also we suggest you to purchase Nokia phones or accessories from any Nokia Priority dealer. For details of Nokia Priority dealer in your location, kindly access the web link given below:


For further enquiries, please feel free to contact our Technical Support Executives at 30303838 or 1800-425-3388 between the hours of 6:00am and 12:00 midnight, seven days a week. For online support, visit "Ask Nokia" at
www.nokia.co.in. We reassure you of our continuous support.

Please help us improve our services by clicking on the following link:


Kind regards,

Manish Joshi
Nokia Care

I don't think we need any other proof, so please beware before you log on to this complete sham and fraud of a website. No wonder they say buyer beware.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

AIDS awareness films

If you're interested in and support the cause of AIDS awareness, please do view TOGJ's short films and his blog on this issue.

I strongly believe that the Indian blogosphere should link up as a community to highlight these important issues, and perhaps when/if possible even fund worthy causes. We are a large and growing community that can make a difference.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Calvin and Hobbes on War and Peace

More reasons for being a Calvin and Hobbes freak.


Comic strip from Ucomics.comPosted by Picasa

Monday, March 13, 2006

The importance of being relevant

Hollywood’s current obsession with controversial themes and indie producers is a great wake-up call for the Indian film industry. Just to recap, the best picture nominees in this year’s Oscars were Good night and good luck, Capote, Brokeback Mountain, Crash and Munich. The winner of course was Crash, a view I completely agree with. (As I’d said earlier, I loved the movie and believe that Ms. Proulx’s post-Oscar unhappiness at the verdict was, as she put it, a Sour Grapes Rant).

Closer home, many believe that the Indian Film Industry is in the midst of a transition. The three-hour-tear-jerkers are out, but no one quite knows what’s in. A “Kya Kool Hai hum” has rubbed shoulders with “Page 3”, “Black”, “Bunty aur Babli” and “Iqbal” last year. A sex comedy seems to be as popular as a movie based on the travails of a blind woman, a deaf-mute cricket-enthusiast and criminal duo. Star Power? Er… I can’t remember the lead pair of “Page 3” or “Iqbal”. 2006 has started off with “Rang de Basanti” rocking audiences (again I loved that movie, my blog is here) and I have no idea what’s going to work next.

My take is that the audience today is far more receptive to new ideas than ever before. Why? Because they’re younger and (hopefully) more aware (thanks to news channels, newspapers, blogs, word-of-mouth reviews, etc). Increasing urbanisation should spread the multiplexes across smaller towns and cities and make more movies available to wider audiences.

Isn’t it then a good time for some enterprising directors to look at tackling serious (past and present) ideas? Or, to use a cliché, the “thinking man’s movies”? Past experience isn’t encouraging with last year’s critical acclaims and commercial failures for movies like Sudhir Mishra’s brilliant “Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi” , Kabeer Kaushik’s under-rated “Sehar” and Shoojit Sircar’s sensitive “Yahan” to name a few.

One stumbling block might be a lack of backing by biggies. Contrast this with Hollywood where heavyweights like George Clooney (Syriana andGood Night and Good Luck - both official movie websites are a great read) and Steven Spielberg (with Munich ditto) have put their weight behind controversial topics probably because they believe a story must be told.

I saw “Syriana” recently and was impressed. As
The NY Times review
puts it, “Syriana is a movie that demands and rewards attention”. Of course, and as Robert Barnes (an Oscar-winning performance by George Clooney, and rightly so) puts it, “It’s complicated”. But again as the same review puts it “the mental labor of figuring out just what is going on is part of what makes the film such a rich and entertaining experience.” You can also read other reviews by The Guardian, The Observer, The New Yorker, Roger Ebert and Rotten Tomatoes.

As for Mr. Clooney’s belief in making meaningful cinema, these interviews with the BBC and The Guardian are must-reads. As is this bit he says in Syriana’s official website. “Movies, at their best, can initiate discussions……You want people to be standing around the water cooler the next day talking about it, saying 'Here’s what I agree with or here’s where they’re wrong'. We need that discussion”.

The path to serious cinema is one-less travelled. It’s as true for Hollywood as it is for India. Yet it is one as the Indian Film Industry must take. These are after all changing times. For example, wouldn’t movies on, say, the Mumbai Mill Land Case and Best Bakery Case be relevant because these are stories that must be told?

While I’m sure that there’s enough talent to develop these themes, they should not be lost for lack of backing. Producers, at least the big ones who have tasted success in the past, could take a leaf from Mr. Clooney’s book, as he says in the BBC Interview, “I've been pretty lucky. I've been able to get away with some things and do the things I wanted to do and that probably won't last for very long. As you and I both know, you don't get to keep the toys for a very long period of time. So you do it for as long as you can.”

Picture credits - IMDB, Official movie websites of the movies (links above), Eros Entertainment, indiafm.com, Amazon.com and clooneynetwork.com.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Black Friday 1993. Never forget.

Friday, 12th March 1993. Everyone in Bombay has a story for that day. Mine - A piece of paper stuck on a local train which simply read "Blood needed, please come to King George's Hospital."

Sunday, 12th March 2006. Cursory references in today's edition of TOI and HT. And that too courtesy of a bomb, which was defused yesterday at Chowpatty beach.

For the record, here are some details from S. Hussain Zaidi's authoritative and hard-hitting book "Black Friday. The True Story of the Bombay Blasts".

Blast 1 - 1.28pm - The Bombay Stock Exchange. 84 dead, 217 injured.

Blast 2 - 2.15pm - Narsi Natha Street. 5 dead, 16 injured.

Blast 3 - 2.25pm - Air India Building. 20 dead, 87 injured.

Blast 4 - 2.30pm - Lucky Petrol Pump, Dadar. 4 dead, 50 injured.

Blast 5 - 2.55pm - Century Bazaar. 113 dead, 227 inured.

Blast 6 - 3.05pm - Zaveri Bazaar. 17 dead, 57 injured.

Blast 7 - 3.13pm - Plaza Cinema, Dadar. 10 dead, 37 injured.

Blast 8 - 3.20pm - Sea Rock Hotel, Bandra. No one dead or injured.

Blast 9 - 3.25pm - Juhu Centaur Hotel. 3 injured

Blast 10 - 3.35pm - Airport Centaur Hotel. 2 killed, 8 injured.

"Subsequent police investigations revealed that 257 people were either killed or went missing in the blasts while 713 were injured."

Dawood Ibrahim, the main accused, is still at large.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Mohe rang de basanti - one more time

(Above picture credit: Kamat Research)

Watching Munshiji ki gudgudiya this weekend left me depressed about the fact that we don't seem to be particularly concerned about our own matra-bhasha. Yet at least these plays get staged. And hats off to Mr. Shah who followed up Katha Collage Part I (on Munshji) with Part II on another lost and forgotten Hindi author, Harishankar Parsai. All these plays are in pristine Hindi. Given the way my neighbours in the theatre where hushing on the meaning of a few words, I could make out that like me, they seemed to be a lost on more than one occasion. I was struggling over the difference between “aalochna” and “tiraskar”. And it didn’t make me feel good at all.

Notwithstanding my own ignorance, I think I have to admit that I’m a hard-liner. I firmly believe in Indian culture and am currently wringing my hands about the fact that we as Indians don’t seem to care much about it. Ironically enough it’s been the Westerners who seem to have appreciated it more than us, at least going by the way some of them have rushed to India for spiritual succour. And as we all know, Swami Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, ISKCON, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, etc. all have sizeable gora fan followings. That’s probably one reason why, controversies aside, I’d support a Swami Ramdeo Baba – just for the fact that he is out there rooting for yoga as an intrinsic part of our Indian culture.

I won’t get into why we’re indifferent to our own culture, but I do have this rather interesting quote from Lord Macaulay (picture credit: Gutenberg) in a speech to the British Parliament.

"I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation."

Reading that gets me into “Rang De Basanti” mode all over again (and do please remember how fluent Sue’s Hindi was – firang again!). We need to fight our indifference and wake up to the fact that our own culture seems to be falling aside on our road to progress. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should all join the RSS or tell the firangs to get the hell out. All I’m saying (wishing?) is that we need to be more aware of our own culture and of course our own history.

This will probably be a larger responsibility for the kids growing up today, when India is "shining". These kids will take everything, from the Net to mobile-phones to multi-channel TV, for granted. Will they have the interest, leave alone time, to learn – and more importantly appreciate - our culture? Or for that matter our Independence struggle ? Ah, well, at least for the latter they could watch “Rang De Basanti”. Check out the lyrics below from “Be a rebel” (Prasoon Joshi – maan gaye!). And yes, I figured out that aalochna means criticism and tiraskar means scorn.

Be A Rebel
To the mahal of the Taj,
To the Minar of Qutub,
To the Kumari of Kanya,
To the Panjim of Goa,
To the Kaancheepuram,
Zindabad Zindagood.
All have something to say.
They all have something to say

Follow me Follow me Follow me now!
Apni tho paatshala, masti ki paatshala Be A Rebel

Naa koi padne waala, Naa koi seekne wala Apni tho paatshala, masti ki paatshala

India and Pakistan
Bangladesh all in the soul
Khajuraho to Coimbatore
From the Gateway of India
Upto the Himalayas
Across the Ganga Yamuna
To Shirdi to the Red Fort
Rourkela Yeah u know
From Ajmer to Orissa.

Amar Akbar Antony.
Ram Rahim Abdullah.
Searching for a bright star.
To the corners of the Earth.
What is our (search??) worth?.
What is our destiny?

Imagine we go back in time.
Free your soul, Free your mind.
Take a look what do you find?
Be a rebel

Picture from Official RDB website

Blog-a-thon: BLANK NOISE PROJECT:Stop Eve-teasing

BLANK NOISE PROJECT: bangalore mumbai delhi: Blank Noise Presents....

Bit late on this, but please do support The Blank Noise Project's Blog-a-thon being run today. As per the site - "The project seeks to recognize eve teasing as a sexual crime and establish the issue as something that may be normal, but is unacceptable."

Eve-teasing is a sexual crime. Accept it. I don't think it's normal and it is most definitely not acceptable. From a man's perspective, it's easy to trivialise it. Even easier to say that the woman is at fault because she "dresses that way". This logic has to be killed. Dresses in what way ? Low-cut tops ? Tight blouse and jeans ? And that's supposed to be a sign to the man that she wants to be groped ? Any man who thinks along those lines should get his testicles checked. I doubt they work. Neither does his brain, but then we all know which organ works more for the eve-teaser.

Ban eve-teasing. Plain and simple. Make it a crime. And let the people implement it. See an eve-teaser, bash him up and get others to help you. Perhaps a primitive solution, but do you think the hapless victim would walk up to a police station and register a complaint ? Against who ? Try that in a crowded train or Churchgate at peak hour. The fear of God has to be instilled into anyone who thinks he can get away. He can't. Beat the hell out of him and publicly shame him so that others who see it get the message loud and clear. A deterrent can only be as effective as the degree of punishment.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Calvin and Hobbes take on Writers Block

Picture courtesy: www.ucomics.com. Calvin and Hobbes are of course the brilliant products of Mr. Bill Watterson.