Friday, September 28, 2007

Its dancing time again

Just half an hour into the season premiere and I think "Jhalak Dikhlaja" (JD) has just wiped the floor with "Nach Baliye 3" (NB3's) backside. Unless JD messes up big time from here, I think there's no reason for me to tune into NB3 any more. Here's why I prefer JD.

Big judges. Last year it was Shilpa Shetty (in the pre-Big Brother days of course), Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Farah Khan. That was always going to be a tough act to follow, but they've almost matched it with Jeetendra, Urmila and Shiamak. These three, purely in terms of star value, just smoke that random lot in NB3 (Isha K, David Dhawan and Vaibhavi Merchant).

I think in the last one year, all of us viewers have gotten used to gushing judges overflowing and OD-ing and that one judge who just has to get rude if only to wipe the smile off everyone, just for impact. Like today's NB3 episode where all three judges ganged up on the first couple (I forget their names but yes, they were bad), called their performance pathetic, predictable, lazy, etc. etc. Only for the same three judges to all but run in tears to the next couple who - get this - forgot their steps mid-way through their performance. So, whose worse? A couple who danced bad or a couple who forgot their steps?

Big participants. See, the thing that connects me to these kinda shows is to see celebs struggling to do something. And they have to struggle harder than us ordinary janta on the Indian Idols and Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, etc. Ten left feet, for sure. JD has twelve diverse couples which include host Mini Mathur, Mir Ranjan Negi, Cyrus Broacha, Sonali Kulkarni, Aadesh Srivastav and a whole load of others. They might not be top-tier celebs, but they're just a very lively lot of people, most of whom I've neither seen acting or dancing. Reminds me last year of pro chef Sanjiv Kapoor and maverick director Mahesh Manjrekar who almost made it to the end. Those were the kind of people who make you tune in, if only to see what they're going to do next or because you're rooting for them as the underdogs.

And NB3? We have item girls Rakhi Sawant and Kashmira Shah (cashing in quite obviously to their rivalry on Big Bosss which was ironically aired on Sony TV - the channel airing JD), ohh-Lolita Shakti Kapoor and an entire truck-load of TV actors and actresses. Sorry, I can't quite identify with this lot, maybe because I know that almost all of them have some experience on the big screen or small screen. Maybe I'm not being fair but whatever.

The hosts on both shows are equally good and bad. While last year winner Husain (on NB3) looks comfortable (and experienced what with his recent Indian Idol stint), his wife Tina is just plain bad. Over at JD, last-year winner Mona Singh - her first time hosting a show, I think - is quite warm and enthu and almost seems a natural, while Rohit Roy should stick to flop movies.

Now, here's the thing. Star Plus (the channel that airs NB3) obviously knew they have a relatively weak line-up. So how do they compensate for that? Pitch the show as "Ye nach nahi aasaan." Oh ya. Read that to mean loads of drama, loads of "turns and twists", bucket-loads of tears on stage, judges being extra rude, etc. Recall that in the first season of NB, participating couple Varun and Rajeshwari had literally stopped midway in a crucial round, saying they - get this - blanked out. In season two, last year they had a round where fellow participants had to vote to bump off a pair off the show. Oh, and also watch out for scoops and scandals on sets to reach newspapers to keep interest in the show alive (although I think even JD might indulge in that).

Like I'd said last year, we all love underdogs. We root for them, sympathise for them, laugh, cry and enjoy with them. And of course, vote for them. We mock their falls, and wish for their recoveries. They have to slog for our love and bear with our fickle affections.

Right now, I don't feel a thing for anyone at NB3. While JD...whoa..hang on, what's this? Sudha Chandran dancing on Naughty, Naughty? Yep, aye gori, jara nach ki dikha, jara thumka laga. Now, we're talking, now we're dancing.

Baliye can keep nach-ing where they are, because I'm going to see more of the Jhalak I just saw.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Simpson and Greenspan

O. J. Simpson in conversation with Alan Greenspan.
Greenspan: The first draft of my book actually had a lot of steamy sex scenes in it, but my publisher was afraid they wouldn’t stock it at Wal-Mart.

Simpson: Don’t get me started on publishers. Have you seen my book’s cover? They made the “If ” in the title so small it looks like the title is “I Did It.” I mean, talk about exploitative. It’s like if Herman Melville’s publisher printed “Moby” in tiny letters so that people would think the book was called “Dick.”

Oh I kid that alleged killer and that alleged creator of the sub-prime crisis. Go read another hilarious S&M at the New Yorker.

Monday, September 17, 2007

One September sky

Or just another scene from the city. Just one this time.

I think Bombay reveals itself in these brief glimpses. You have to see it to know it. And they're always around. Like this one.

Around 6.30pm. You know, the time when nowadays, the clouds and the sun and the sky seem to come together in a riot of colors. September skies. I'm not kidding you. Check out the skies during sunset in September and they will be different than other months. The kinda skies that make you want to halt everything and marvel at the beauty that one sunset can be. Like an entire ritual on its own.

But this is Bombay. Life zooms you by.

So, I was halted at a signal, on Marine Drive. And I see this young lad cross the road before me. Shirt out, something held in his left hand. He bends and with his right hand reaches for the footpath. Gently touches it, then touches his hand to his forehead, his lips and his heart.

He strides forward on to the footpath and in a single movement his left hand unfurls and out comes one of those lighted yo-yos. The kind kids like (or do they any more?), the kind that make a line of light when you flip, toss and pull it. You know the kind you see people selling on Juhu, Chowpatty. On Marine Drive.

That's it.

He's selling these yo-yos. Or whatever they're called in Bambaiya.

That's him. Beginning his working day at 6.30pm on Marine Drive. A place he regards as his source of income. Something holy. He seeks blessings from it, says a quick prayer before beginning his day. You know, maathe pe lagaa ke.

Quite like the broker entering the stock market. Everyday. They do the same thing. Before they climb the stairs, they first touch the ground to their forehead and then begin their working day. Or the coolie at Dadar platform. Or...well, this is Bombay, I'm sure you've seen them. Business is religion. This is Bombay.

And Bombay treats its people the same.

That traffic signal where I saw this lad, had share-a-cabs and buses loaded with people returning from Nariman Point to Churchgate. And it had loads of cars with people. All going back after a day's work in the city. Earning a living. All of us in the same journey.

Just like this one lad, whose day would probably end at midnight.

All of us are one in our pursuit in the city. That fresh, clean-shaven, suited, booted lad who walks out of Bombay Airport, armed with his degrees and an acceptance letter for a high-paying job at foreign bank. He might not touch the ground and then his forehead when he walks off the airport. But he's in the city for the same reason as the lad above. I see both of them as one.

Just as I see the wealthy seth and the top-ranking CEO. All of them, they're the same as this guy selling these yo-yos. Or whatever he calls them. We're all the same, aren't we? In the pursuit of wealth, happiness, sadness, money...or whatever you call them.

Yes, Bombay is lived in these flashes. In these moments. Did you catch one?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Three months to go

But still...

Here's my movie of the year 2007.



Magnificent. You've either seen it or..well. "Ye le Preeti, dekha de woh launde ko" and "Acha hai, apne desh mein hi swaagat kar rahe hain aap" were among my favourite lines. I'd love anything that Jaideep Sahni's written but he went one level up with this. I'm looking forward to seeing it again - if only for those superb Delhi shots.

I seriously doubt anything in the coming three months will come even a mile close to this one movie. And here I count OD master Bhansali's "Saawariya" and Farha Khan's "Om Shanti Om". Promos for both movies are already out, i.e. two months before launch (same day - Nov 9th). They might be blockbuster stuff, but honestly, just for pure fun, spirit and emotion, Chak De towers.

I also have my song of the year.

I thought "Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd." was probably among the most under-rated movies in recent times. I enjoy "Vaari vaari" simply because it sounds so fresh every time I hear it, unlike any of the chart-busters this year. The picturisation of the song was brilliant and probably adds to the overall experience. I'm a fan of K. K. Menon and as you'd see above he was just mad, mad, mad in this song.

And before I go - Amit Paul for Indian Idol.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Heard at a pub

Scene: Hard Rock Cafe, Lower Parel Mumbai, 7.15pm. The place is understandably empty, 'cept for a bored group of Phoenix/Kamla/Raghuvanshi/Mills exec-types who were told that Boney M was performing live that night (not..dude).

With half hour to kill, yours truly enters this hoo-ha joint for the first time, that one kind gent I know said he would give his temporal lobe for (oh I kid him, but he does lurve the place with a Dharmendra-esque passion).

Int. Me, trying to get attention of waiters.

Waiter 1 - demonstrating various aasanas for nose-digging while tilted near the cash counter

Waiter 2 - staring vacantly in no particular direction

Waiter 3, 4, 5 and 6 - In unison break loudly into "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" (oh ok, it was some Lynyrd Skynyrd song). I was told this is the style.

Waiter 7 - occupied with above said group of P/K/R m.execs

Pretty young types at the door - discussing shades of Maybelline

After much gesticulations on my part....

Waiter 8 - "Yes sir"

Me - "A Budweiser please"

(with bored look) "We don't have Budweiser"

"Ok, Heineken"

(with testy look) "We don't have Heineken"

(with 'huh' look) "Huh?"

"Sir, we don't keep Budweiser or Heineken"

"Ok, what have you got?"

(with where-do-these-guys-come-from-look) "Fosters and Corona"

"Fosters then"

Said sequence till Waiter 8 repeats all over again when I ask for the bill.

Bill is paid, sans tip. Thanks very much.

Quick notes to self -
1. Big brand doesn't mean anything

2. "Hard Rock" as a music genre can be interpreted to include only flop rock songs of the past and played-to-death rock anthems

3. The audience of 35-45yr old execs is an important one. They are rich and more importantly, they can be serviced solely with an iPod shuffle on a constant loop of 10 songs (so no DJ required)

4. Above said iPod loop should include "Brown Girl in the rain", "Rasputin", "Smoke on the water" and end up by giving these young-at-heart lads the chance to sing "whoa oh oh oh oh Sweet child o' mine, whoa oh oh oooohh sweet love of mine" while inebriatedly leaving the bar.

Oh yes, I'm not going there again.

For a saner, rant-free view, please read earlier posts by Sakshi here and Rashmi here.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Heard at the airport

Scene, today noon at the airport exit.

So, this guy selling those India maps is doing his thing. Approaches two young, American tourist lads waiting for their hotel car to pick them up.

"Sir, map sir, you want map sir?"

"Dude, I'm not even from India"

"Sir, map sir, you want map of India sir?"

"You heard of America man?"

"Sir America sir, yes I know America sir"

"Yeah? Well, you know who I am? I'm George Bush"

"Sir, if you are George Bush, sir, I am Bill Clinton sir"

Tourist lads jaws drop while map guy walks away, game, set and match.