Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Trivial Pursuit 148

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To celebrate the 2012 Olympics, the London Transport system has brought out a special ‘Olympic Legends Map’, detailing all 361 tube stations and renaming them after past and present Olympic legends. 

Starting on July 27, the Watford Junction has been renamed after 'X', Watford High Street has been rechristened after 'Y', and Bushey 
after 'Z'. 

'X', 'Y' and 'Z' are legendary sports personalities of India. 

Identify them. 

Additional Trivia : 

The list of Sports persons was drawn by sports writer Alex Trickett and sports historian David Brooks.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Trivial Pursuit 147

She was born to Dr. Ramaiah, a renowned nuclear physicist from Andhra Pradesh and Marthe, an Irish Indologist of Swiss-French origin.

She was crowned 'Miss India' in 1954 and the same year along with Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur, she was listed as one of the 10 most beautiful women in the world by 'Vogue' magazine.

She was the first choice for the role of Tonya Gromeko in the David Lean classic 'Doctor Zhivago' (1965). David Lean wanted to cast her as Tonya, a role which finally went to Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of the legendary Charlie Chaplin.

Salvador Dali's 'The Madonna Of Port Lligat'

Salvador Dali used her as a model for the 'Madonna'.

She learnt acting from French film maker Jean Renoir and Satyajit Ray wanted to make a film with her and Marlon Brando.

A smitten Raj Kapoor wanted to sign her up for four films. She was spotted by Raj Kapoor and was lined up to be a marquee name for his RK banner, as he wanted to sign her for a four film contract, only to be turned down by her for a role in a Hrishikesh Mukherjee film that went on to win the Indian Government's coveted National Award for Best Film (1961).

Later in life, she made documentary films and dubbed Hong Kong movies into English. She also worked as an editor for 'Society' magazine and translated the French playwright Eugene Ionesco.

In between, she made a film for J.R.D. Tata — on 'How To Use A Washroom in the Plane'.

She even worked as a translator for Indira Gandhi during some of her interviews.

She was listed as one of the most beautiful women in the world by 'Vogue' Magazine and remained so, till her demise in 2009.

Identify this graceful beauty.

Additional Trivia :

           Mug shot of Benito Mussolini : Arrested in 1903, in Basel, Switzerland, for vagrancy.

                                            Benito Mussolini

** Her grandfather on her mother's side, Mr. Mange, was the owner of a factory. In his time, he was the sole importer and purveyor of American threshing machines in Europe. 

A young Benito Mussolini was an employee at this factory and was fired by Mr. Mange for creating trouble (read; for banging a co-worker's hand with a red hot metal rod), much before he became a notorious dictator.

                                           Felix Yusupov


                                           Grigori Rasputin

** Her maternal grandmother's next door neighbour Prince Felix Yousoupoff (Count Yusupov), once appeared naked at their doorstep. Prince Yusupov will best be remembered by history as one of the men who killed Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin*. 

(* Rasputin was a mystic/'mad monk' who held Russia to ransom since he had convinced Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra that he could cure their son and heir Alexei, of the haemophilia that he had inherited through Queen Victoria).        

                                           Sarojini Naidu

                                Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

** On her father's side, she had an aunt called Sarojini Naidu, who once gave her chocolates to eat and told her 'Now go out to the outhouse and see Mickey Mouse'.

The Mickey Mouse turned out to be none other than Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the man the world calls Mahatma Gandhi.

"You are not Mickey Mouse !!" she said.

"No ?" Gandhiji asked.

"Your ears are big but they're not big enough."

"Is that all ?" he asked..

"And you don't have a tail'..

'So I am not Mickey Mouse,' Gandhi Ji said, "but who am I ?"

"You are Gandhiji," she said.

She put the flowers down and gave him the chocolates.

He took them and began to eat them immediately, as happy as schoolboy with a box of tuck.

Imagine Mahatma Gandhi having chocolate !!

Friday, July 20, 2012

My 10 Favourite Rajesh Khanna Songs !!


'Mere Dil Ne Tadap Ke' - Anurodh (1977)

      Lyrics : Anand Bakshi

Music : Laxmikant-Pyarelal

Singer : Kishore Kumar


'Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye' - Anand (1971)

Lyrics : Yogesh

Music : Salil Chowdhury

Singer : Mukesh


'Yeh Kya Hua, Kaise Hua, Kab Hua' - Amar Prem (1972)

Lyrics : Anand Bakshi

Music : R. D. Burman

Singer : Kishore Kumar


'Hazaar Raahein Mud Ke Dekhi' - Thodi Si Bewafai' (1980)

Lyrics : Gulzar

Music : Khayyam

Singers : Lata Mangeshkar & Kishore Kumar


'Jeevan Se Bhari Teri Aankhen' - Safar (1970)

Lyrics : Indivar

Music : Kalyanji-Anandji

Singer : Kishore Kumar


'Jab Dard Nahi Tha Seene Mein' - Anurodh (1977) 

Lyrics : Anand Bakshi

Music : Laxmikant-Pyarelal

Singer : Kishore Kumar


'Diye Jalte Hain' - Namak Haraam (1973)

Lyrics : Anand Bakshi

Music : R. D. Burman

Singer : Kishore Kumar 


'Kuch To Log Kahenge' - Amar Prem (1972)

Lyrics : Anand Bakshi

Music : R. D. Burman

Singer : Kishore Kumar


'Woh Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi' - Khamoshi (1969)

Lyrics : Gulzar

Music : Hemant Kumar

Singer : Kishore Kumar 




'Main Shayar Badnaam' - Namak Haraam (1973)

Lyrics : Anand Bakshi

Music : R. D. Burman

Singer : Kishore Kumar


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Woh Kal Bhi Paas Paas Thhe, Woh Aaj Bhi Kareeb Hain !!

Rajesh Khanna (29th December, 1942 - 18th July, 2012)




                                                                           Courtesy : Mr. Satish Acharya

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Humble Tribute to Shri Dara Singh Ji


                                                                                       Courtesy : garbagebin

                          Dara Singh Randhawa (19th November, 1928 - 12th July, 2012)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gangs of Wasseypur : "More style and less substance" !!

"Never trust the Artist, trust the Tale"  -  D.H. Lawrence

I believe that a work of Art speaks for itself and says completely different things to different people. 

Here are my views and some random thoughts on Anurag Kashyap's much talked about film "Gangs of Wasseypur" (2012).

For a film which is five hours long and projected as a two part "Epic", "Gangs Of Wasseypur's" biggest flaw lies in the fact that it does not have a story !! 

It is a film that pretends to be a hardcore revenge saga set amidst Dhanbad's Coal Mafia, but in reality, is just a series of gimmicks strung together. 

Kashyap tries to be gimmicky right from the word 'Go'. The unnecessarily stylish manner in which he presents the title credits is a big turn off. The Sanjay Gupta’esque opening credits seem imposed rather than required. For a film based and set in the interiors of rural India, I think he could've shown it in a simpler manner. 

It is a small observation, but I think it somehow gives a glimpse of what is in store for us. 

The historical archival footage as well as the 'Sepia Toned' montages of 'coal mines' shown at the beginning of the film, do manage to get the viewers charged up in anticipation of things to come. 

However, the excitement is short lived as one soon realizes that the 'Coal Mafia' backdrop is nothing but a hoax. 

As it turns out, the focus soon shifts from the 'Coal Mafia' to the world of crime and revenge.  

Sadly, what now promises to be a revenge saga, ends up being anything else but one !! 

For someone who presents himself as a thinking filmmaker, Director Anurag Kashyap shows no logic whatsoever in many happenings shown in the film. I'd like to mention a couple of  scenes here.  

The first being the one, where in her husband's absence, Sardar Khan's (Manoj Bajpai) wife Nagma (Richa Chadda) is shown cosying up to his mentor cum ally Naseer Ahmed (Piyush Mishra). Nagma’s child accidentally wakes up and sees her in bed with a man other than his father.  

The mother tries to stop the child from running away, and a guilt-ridden Naseer Ahmed (Piyush Mishra) is shown saying something like, “Jo aaj hamare beech (between him and Nagma) hote-hote reh gaya, woh uss bachche ko kabhi pataa nahi chalega..”

In another bizarre scene that follows, a regretful Naseer Ahmed 
(Piyush Mishra) is shown whiplashing himself !!

The scene would have made sense had Kashyap stuck to showing the “To Err is Human”/”Moment of Weakness” cliché or simply shown Nagma’s acceptance of her husband’s betrayal and moving on. 

However, the entire point of showing whatever Naseer Ahmed says, does not make any sense and makes the viewers flummox with confusion.   

Another point worth mentioning is the lack luster image of Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia). Initially, he is shown as a cold blooded murderer who first kills a Government employee brutally, and later arranges the murder of local goon and his employee Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat).

Some years later, the same Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia) becomes a politician. Out of the blue comes Shahid Khan’s son Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpai) and starts harassing him no end, in order to avenge his father’s killing. Strangely, instead of giving a strong reply to Sardar Khan, the once ruthless Ramadhir Singh is shown being transformed into a silent sufferer.

The entire idea seems to be thoroughly devoid of logic. A person of Ramadhir Singh’s cadre/stature would obviously resist/retaliate. Surprisingly, he is is shown doing virtually nothing. Even when one of Sardar Khan's aid slaps his son in the local Police Station, Ramadhir Singh is shown as a meek observer. 

Now here is someone, who could have easily bumped Sardar Khan off at the snap of his fingers. But all he is shown doing is presenting himself as a sorry figure throughout the film.  

After all, the film is not called ‘Revenge of Sardar Khan’. It is called ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’.  Well, on second thoughts, even ‘Revenge of Sardar Khan’ would have been misleading, as there in no revenge in the film either !! 

The film revolves more around the personal life of Sardar Khan 
(Manoj Bajpai) as it mostly focuses on his involvement with the two women in his life, his feisty wife Nagma (Richa Chadda) and the hot Bengali immigrant Durga (Reema Sen).

It is only through a series of voiceover narrations that we get a glimpse of the other happenings, including the two other gangs; Ramadhir Singh’s gang, as well as the Qureshi gang led by Sultan Qureshi 
(Pankaj Tripathi). 

The voiceover is used throughout the film more as a substitute to fill the gaps in the film’s plot, rather than as a mode to reveal characters and their perspective.

The biggest flaw of the film is that there is no logic whatsoever in the manner in which Ramadhir Singh’s character is sketched. On one hand, he is shown as a hardcore criminal-turned-'coal mafia kingpin’-turned-millionaire landlord-turned-politician, whereas on the other, he is shown as a weak and powerless person who lacks any strength or will of character. 

Without showing any aggression whatsoever, he (a sitting M.L.A.) silently suffers all the nonsense of Sardar Khan (someone who is just a mere goon). This is something completely hard to believe !! 

Here is one of your main protagonists and all you do to his character is make him look like a fool throughout the film !! For whatever was shown of him in the beginning, his character deserved a little more respect from the writers !!

You call your film “Gangs of Wasseypur” and all you show is one person (Manoj Bajpai) illogically bullying another (Tigmanshu Dhulia). When you present Dhulia’s character as a criminal turned landlord turned politician in power, then you better have some logical explanations to show him suffer without even retaliating. He virtually takes no actions and keeps tolerating insults after insults.

The scene where Sardar Khan openly challenges/threatens Ramadhir Singh by taking out a rally, is one of the most illogical scenes in the movie. Sardar Khan goes to Ramadhir Singh’s area and in front of his house, he not just criticizes him publicly, but also says unmentionables about the women in his family. And once again, Ramadhir Singh is shown doing 'NOTHING' but suffer all the humiliation silently.

To keep the viewers attention away from the illogic behind the scene, Kashyap yet again resorts to a cheap gimmick where the attention is shifted/focused more on a Mithun Da impersonator (Tarzan Dada), who is shown grooving to the tunes of the title song of ‘Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki’ (1984).

It is always good to have a strong plot and then weave a few fancy scenes/sequences around it, but it surely spells trouble when things start going the other way round. This seems to be the exact case as far as this particular movie is concerned.

There are so many loopholes in the plot that Kashyap has to resort to gimmicks like showing dancers aping Mithun da, Yashpal Sharma performing a third grade version of ‘Salaam E Ishq’ in a party, Hippies singing ‘I Am A Hunter’ in a train, repeated depictance of places like Muslim slaughter houses etc. Most of these are absurd gimmicks used throughout the film to fill the gaps in the narrative.

At times the narrative is stylish, but more often than not it is totally unexciting. To bring in that excitement, Kashyap resorts to excessive usage of offensives and vulgarity, but falls prey to predictability.  

As a world cinema aficionado, Kashyap is smart enough to know what the Indian audiences have been deprived of. He tries to be clever by encashing on the opportunity through this film. Fair enough, but the problem starts, when in his urge to deliver the same, he forgets to draw the much needed line. Self indulgence precedes over story telling, making Kashyap go completely overboard at times; be it the usage of multiple expletives throughout the film, be it the usage of raunchiness, or be it the depictance of excessive violence.

It is an obvious attempt by Kashyap to excite and provoke his followers/admirers, mostly people in the young age bracket.

Kashyap tries to be realistic throughout the film, but his intentions fall flat on most counts. People who have no idea what rural India is like, will certainly get a kick from hearing words/lines like ‘Bakaiti’, ‘Katta’, ‘Teri keh ke loonga’, etc. Youngsters, mainly those who don’t even know how the playground in their backyard looks like, forget rural India, will certainly be enthralled by all the gimmicks (including profanities, violence and vulgarity) shown in the name of Wasseypur’s milieu.

Even after watching the movie, if you don’t find things vulgar, 
then God bless your sensibilities. 

All said and done, the movie also has some plus points. Richa Chadda stands out in a male dominated film. In fact, the entire star cast has acted well but it’s Manoj Bajpai who takes the honors. He carries the film on his shoulders and I must say, it’s a treat to watch him act. Another person whom I’d like to mention is Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Although he doesn’t have much to do in the film, whatever little time he gets, he sizzles the screen with his presence. He’s one actor to watch out for.

Good actors act with their eyes and Manoj Bajpai and Nawazuddin Siddiqui are people who do it extremely well.

Some of the scenes are shot really well. The scene where Sardar Khan stabs a goon in an alley is nicely and realistically filmed.

There is deft humour at display in some scenes. The music is good but then again, some of the lyrics are sexually crude. 

The 'Gangs Of Wasseypur' series (Part I & II) are supposedly based on a true story by Zeishan Quadri. 

Before it's release, Part I was presented as a film on the 'Coal Mafia'.  It’s a pity that Kashyap could not do justice to either the 'Coal Mafia' backdrop or the 'Revenge' angle shown in the film. What promised to be a kick-ass film on the subject turned out to be a damp squib.

Similarly, Part II is also set in the locality of Wasseypur which is famous for the gang war between gangster Faheem Khan and businessman Sabir Alam. 

The second part supposedly deals with the Gangs clashing over a scrap business. I hope Kashyap doesn't turn the ‘scrap business’ into 
‘crap business’ by making a mockery of things in Part II as well.  

I would like to wind up by mentioning the fact that 
“Fancy shot-taking, does not necessarily mean good storytelling”. 

A certain Ram Gopal Varma knows best !! 
I hope Anurag Kashyap doesn’t follow suit.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Trivial Pursuit 146

What specific feature related to song picturisation, connects these three films ?

( This is a non exhaustive list and there might be more such movies. )

Aasha (1957)

Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960)

Mughal E Azam (1960)