Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Fray - How to save a life


What an absolutely brilliant song.

From the website on this song by The Fray:

Bittersweet inspiration: The song How to Save a Life was influenced by Slade's experience working as a mentor at a camp for troubled teens. "One of the kids I was paired up with was a musician. Here I was, a protected suburbanite, and he was just 17 and had all these problems. And no one could write a manual on how to save him. ... I got a lot of e-mail about it. One kid died in a car accident, and I guess it had been the last song he downloaded from his computer. They played it at his funeral, and some of his friends got 'Save a life' tattooed on their arms. The response has been overwhelming."[link]



I can't get over the lyrics. Or the video. Watch it. Then watch all the other videos made on this song after the Fray invited fans to make their own videos for the song.

"Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life"

Friday, December 22, 2006

Salon.com's movies for the holiday season

(Update - Oops...inputs from fellow bloggers and my own enquiry indicate that these DVDs have not yet reached our shores, so for this post, these are movies to look out for in 2007!)

From Salon.com's “Beyond the Multiplex” comes their recommended movies to watch this holiday season. I browsed through the movies and I think they’re all definitely worth a watch.

1. Pan’s Labyrinth – It's called an "adult fairy tale" and a "true fairy tale". Salon.com also warns parents not to take their kids for this movie for the hols season. Incidentally the movie features a kingdom underneath a gnarled tree with a giant king toad with loads of millipedes. And yes, this is from Guillermo del Toro, whose earlier movies include Hellboy and Blade II. This is the official website of the movie which gets a high 97% rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

2. Curse of the Golden Flower – Chow Yun Fat, Gong Li. And Zhang Yimou. Oh come on now, don’t ask for more (perhaps Michelle Yeoh?). If you liked Hero and House of Flying Daggers, there’s a good chance you will like this. Like those movies, this is also a period piece and like those this will also feature some scintillating cinematography and special effects. However, both those things can also get a bit much, especially if the movie is a bit slow. Elaborate official movie website here, but be warned it gets a low TMR of 55%.

3. Perfume: The Story of a murder – Just the plot is reason enough to watch, but then there’s also the fact that it is directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run). This murder mystery is about a serial killer with an acute sense of smell who kills women to distill and bottle their essence. How do you capture smell in a movie ? Exactly. Movie’s superb website here. TMR Rating of 83%.

4. The Dead Girl – Pair this movie with Perfume above and I think you’ve got an ideal movie weekend for manic depressives. This movie, consists of five shorter mini-films all focused on, well, a dead woman. Bleak and most probably depressing. I couldn’t recognise Toni Collette in the trailer because the happy, fat underdog of Muriel’s Wedding seems to have had a real extreme makeover. Movie’s intriguing website here. TMR Rating of 67%.

5. The Tiger and the Snow – If you didn’t like the above two bleak movies, then here’s something more conventional, something more romantic. And it’s also got the bubbly Roberto Benigni of “Life is Beautiful”, who has now shifted himself from Nazi concentration camps to Iraq. I think I’ll give this a skip. No official website that I could find and no TMR Rating as yet, but they do have a page here.


Do let me know if you've seen any of these movies. I look forward to seeing them whenever they come to my friendly, neighborhood DVD-wallah.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The beauty that is the Taj

Following up from my earlier post on Fatehpur Sikri, this post is on my visit to The Taj Mahal.

It has to be the most beautiful structure I've ever seen. I wish there was a full moon night for us to see it, I can't imagine what it must have looked like.

Thankfully, or at least from whatever I saw, the ASI has managed to keep the Taj and its adjoining structures much cleaner as compared to Fatehpur Sikri.

I was completely in awe of the Taj. Everything I’d heard and read, it all seemed to fade in oblivion when I saw it. Some feelings can’t be put in words and photos can’t convey feelings. For those who’ve been there, you probably know what I’m talking about.

Here are some photos.

The Taj


A close-up of the dome


One of the two red buildings on the sides of the Taj


A parrot on one of these red buildings

After this trip to Agra, I think I may just have a thing for history after all. Even if it’s currently too small to fire up wanderlust.

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Who is Bablu ?

I don’t know. Do you ?


Whoever he was, he thought this wall was a great place to proclaim his love for Neetu (click the photo if you can't see his name). This wall, which is part of a 400-year old structure, part of Fatehpur Sikri – which was the political capital of the Mughal Empire.

Shabbash Bablu. And shabbash to all the others who’ve etched their names on that same wall.

I knew of how our heritage sites have been (are?) vandalised. I’d even read about it. But to be walking around this huge, resplendent place and to look at that wall…it disgusted me. A feeling of revulsion. Which then gave way to a feeling of failure and of shame.

To stand there and see those foreigners with their cameras, listening to their guides explaining the story of Akbar-Jodha…..looking at the beautiful structures of the Diwan-e-Aam, Diwan-e-Khaas…and at then looking at this wall proclaiming Bablu’s love for Neeta, along with God alone knows how many other such scribbling defacements. Complete shame.

Anyways, moving on...here are some other photos of this magnificent heritage site. Go there if you’ve not, because these photos can’t convey half of the beauty of these structures.

Jodhabai’s palace


Panch Mahal


Salim Chisti’s tomb


For a really good virtual tour of this place, go to the World Heritage Tour website (link via Wikipedia).

My next post with some photos of the Taj is coming up next...

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Chutti

...for about 10 days, after which regular posting shall resume. See you soon.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Economic Times - how much lower now ?

Mishti is kind enough to guest on my blog today.

He writes on the latest hoo-ha, courtesy the Slimes/Crimes Group whose publication, the Economic Times (ET), recently carried a so-called smooch between Kiran Majumdar Shaw (of Biocon) and Vasundhara Raje Scindia (Rajasthan Chief Minister) on their front page. Needless to say, that photo created the required controversy.

If that photo wasn't stupid enough, they've stooped even lower by the apoplectic fit of self-righteousness they raised in this column carried on their yellow rags today.

Over to Mishti who, also angry at the ET, has written this piece below. Comments welcome.

*****

The Times of India group every day sets lower and lower standards in journalism (if you call it that for the lack of any other more appropriate word) and never tires of its sick holier than thou attitude. One example was recently pointed out by Amelia Gentleman, a columnist at the International Herald Tribune.

The ToI group has this smartly designed logo (I must give credit where it is due - ToI groups ads and logos etc are smart; after all it is a marketing juggernaut and nothing about journalism) called " The Global Indian Takeover", which in a celebratory mood it appends to any and every article. Do not know which moron decided which article it should get appended to, but apparently last week it got appended to an article on a girl of Indian origin winning the Miss UK title (pointed out by the IHT columnist) . Someone out there is in a desperate need to have his/ her head examined.

Economic Times believes it is a financial newspaper just because it aped the colors of Financial Times many years back (called it salmon pink, I remember, although I am yet to see a salmon on my plate of that color. I have a suggestion - they should change the color to yellow). In recent times ETs budget coverage has been especially deplorable especially for the visuals that they use. It suffers from an identity crisis as it tries to ape its sister publication Bombay Times.

But I am digressing. What takes the cake is today's article "Much ado about...." on page 3 of The Economic times. This is on the picture of Rajasthan's CM and Biocon's CMD air-kissing each other, with the camera angle being such which invited a lot of comment and some called it obscene.

ET felt that the politicians and Hindi TV channels are bereft of ideas (true for once, but it forgets that it itself false into the same category) and hence, debated on what was just another picture. Fair enough. But ET with all its sagacity and wisdom, decided to devote a couple of columns to it, after having published the picture the previous day. It castigated the TV channels and the politicians for starting a debate on the photograph.

And in its holier than thou attitude, ET went on to say "At ET, we had carried the picture in good faith, without any intention of hurting the sentiments of both Ms Raje and Ms Shaw. In our wall-to-wall coverage of the World Economic Forum, this is one of the few pictures we felt deserved to be carried." Good faith, ha, ha, ha.

Will the ET editor (if there is one, because the Jain's do not believe in editorial content or freedom or how can a newspaper have two viewpoints on an editorial subject matter on the same day) please clarify why "this one is one of the few pictures" that deserved to be carried? Were they the two most important personalities gracing the occasion at WEF on that day? Did they make some major news by what they had to say on that day? I do not remember ET mentioning anything about what they said in ETs "wall to wall" coverage!

ETs stooping does not end there. It also says, "As readers of ET know, air-kissing is a common phenomenon at corporate dos and high-society parties." ETs readers are indeed a wise lot. Other poor souls who do not have the benefit of reading ET do not know such social niceties.

Unfortunately (I believe) the ABP group (erstwhile owners of Business Standard) did not show its marketing acumen with Business Standard the way they showed with The Telegraph in Kolkata and T N Ninan unfortunately never had the backing of the financial muscle power of the Bennet Coleman group. BS would have punched ET if only FDI in newspapers and journals was allowed.

Guess which votary and champion of reforms puts out editorials against FDI in newspapers? No prizes for guessing - it is the venerable publications from the ToI group, which are so keen to protect their turf. Of course, their editorials are full of righteous indignation against Bombay Club and any whiff of protectionism in any other sector. Hopefully HT in association with WSJ will launch a paper which will tell us something more about business, companies and sectors rather than tell us what kind of kissing is a common phenomena at what dos. That I must admit can be safely left to ET, Bombay Times, Mumbai Mirror and of course, the one and only Times of India.

*****