Sunday, February 25, 2007

Khosla ka ghosla - Movie Review (Hindi, 2006)

I recently watched the movie 'Khosla ka ghosla' starring Anupam Kher and Boman Irani. A small budget movie filled with wonderful acting, effective screenplay and no frills cinematography.

The movie is very easily identifiable as the story is set in a middle class family environment. Khosla (Anupam Kher) is on the verge of retiring and has invested almost all of his life savings in a plot of land with the idea of constructing a house large enough to comfortably host his family of three children and his wife. They employ a broker to finalise the dealings and the transaction takes place smoothly without any hiccups. A couple of weeks transpire and Khosla takes along his children to visit the plot of land to plan the building layout. Only to find out that his plot of land has been taken over and is now occupied. On enquiring, he finds out that its Mr Khurana (Irani saab) who has illegally occupied his land. Khurana is a building constructor who is notorious for confiscating other's plot and making them pay to get it back. Mr Khosla, innocent enough to believe that it could be some misunderstanding, approaches Khurana with all the proper paperwork and explains that he is the legal occupant of the plot. Khurana dismisses Khosla's plea stating that he could easily produce paperwork to his benefit and cunningly proposes that Khosla pay him 15 lakhs to get back his plot of land.

Khosla turns to the legal system for help only to find out that everyone is hand-in-glove with each other and expect a cut. Totally disheartened and helpless, he decides to give up when his children step in and decide to get the plot back through hook or crook. This is where the fun begins. To reveal anything more would act as a spoiler.

The director skillfully uses the above plot line to establish a whole set of 3 dimensional characters and how they interact with each other. The script is liberally sprinkled with humour and hence never sags while effectively conveying the helplessness of the middle class especially when fighting a powerful adversary.

Anupam Kher gives an exceptional performance and is ably supported by Parveen Dabbas and Ranveer Shorey, his two sons and Boman Irani. The movie is also devoid of songs which helps and uses some pulsating music in the background.

All in all, its one gem of a movie and not to be missed.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

In defence of Shilpa Shetty

I am not a fan of big brother but the thought of Shilpa Shetty did entice me to spend some time watching the latest edition of celebrity big brother. It did start of pleasantly with everyone being a little vary of each other and maintaining their distance. While that didn't make for great television, it was acceptable.

A couple of days later, Jade and her family walked into the house. Jade Goody is a celebrity not because she is talented in any way or intelligent or charming. She is foul mouthed, was ready to take her kit off at the drop of a hat and somehow the British public found her appealing. Don't ask me how. She was a participant in an earlier edition of big Brother and that's how she was introduced to the British public. She didn't win that edition but surprisingly became more popular than the eventual winners. She came up with an autobiography, sold perfumes and did everything that a celebrity would do. She was trying really hard to maintain the image of celebrity bestowed up her by the public. One thing that has surprised me during my stay in the UK is how easy it is for someone to be labelled a celebrity here. There is virtually no emphasis placed on any talent whatsoever and it is staggering.

Inside the big brother house, Jade soon ganged up with Danielle and Jo and Shilpa was at the receiving end of their bullying tactics. I was a little surprised to see how soon Shilpa broke down. I was under the impression that people in the movie business do develop a thick skin as it is necessary to survive any criticism, backstabbing and rumours. I guess, being treated like on a pedestal in India, she wasn't prepared for the downright maliciousness that she encountered here. Having said that, she recovered soon enough and did give back as good as she got without losing her dignity or descending to the level of the bullies. It's really sad some people blame Shilpa for bringing this on herself. Yes, she did get a huge sum of money for appearing on the show. Her career wasn't going great guns in India and she was looking for alternative opportunities. She did end up winning the show and making even more money in that process. But, does that mean she needs to put up with all the rubbish she was dished out? The answer is NO and anyone who thinks to the contrary needs to get their head examined.

While it's hard to label the actions of Jade and her companions as racist, it is a clear case of bullying due to ignorance and insecurity. Jade and Danielle are clearly people with very limited IQ and its not too hard to understand the way they reacted towards Shilpa. Shilpa is intelligent, articulate, beautiful and dignified and Jade and Danielle were clearly threatened by this woman. Their frustration at their thunder being stolen by some woman from India in their own country probably resulted in the way they reacted to it. The British public rose to the occasion and their show of support for Shilpa was heart warming.

I have been living in the UK for the last 7 years and I haven't encountered any form of racism. Jade, Danielle and Jo aren't representative of the British public and it's sad that such an impression was conveyed, thanks to Big Brother and Channel 4. Yes, there is a small minority that do racially abuse people but that's the case with any country. The British government is doing a lot to curb that menace, which is more that what can be said of most other governments.

Here is a toast to Shilpa for projecting a very positive image of India and for the British public for doing the right thing when it mattered most!!!

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Why we shouldn't fight piracy of Indian movies

I was just reading with growing interest about how the Indian film industry is taking firm steps to curb and fight piracy in Indian cinema. I was a little amused at the same time. When most of the Indian movies are blatant rip-offs of any foreign movie or other regional movie from within India itself, why should the public not encourage and promote piracy of those movies?

When I first saw the promo for movie Kaante, it sounded like a cool idea about a bank heist gone wrong. Though it reminded me of reservoir dogs and a countless other movies with similar theme, I wasn't prepared for what was served on-screen. I faithfully watched the credits and titles to see what each technician has contributed. I remember seeing Sanjay Gupta's name listed under screenplay. As the movie proceeded, the story kept sounding more and more familiar. More than that, even the dialogues were translated in Hindi verbatim. What Sanjay had done was a fusion of Usual suspects and Reservoir dogs. The only bit that wasn't copied was the role of bar dancer (was she needed in movie like this???). I kept wondering how these directors get away with such blatant copying. Least that Sanjay could have done was to give credit to the original screenplay writers and directors and just list his name under the producer's category.

Other movies that I can instantly recall for plagiarism are Aawara Paagal Deewana (Whole nine yards), Deewane huey paagal (Something about Mary), Raaz (What lies beneath), Murder (Unfaithful), Salaam-E-Ishq (Portions of Love actually), Zinda (Old boy) and many more.

I paid close to 8 Pounds for watching Kaante and I ended up watching a bad version of Reservoir dogs. Will Mr.Gupta reimburse my ticket fee now that I know I have been short changed? Should I feel bad if I happen to get a pirated copy of these movies that are not original and don't give credit to the original creators? To hell with these people. I wish more lawyers in India sued directors like Sanjay Gupta or Vikram Bhatt instead of going after actors for sharing a smooch. I heard Sanjay Gupta justifying his plagiarism by saying that he was bringing International movies to Indian audiences who wouldn't otherwise be able to watch them. If that's the case, he should probably do what Quentin Tarentino or John Malkovich does. I remember John Malkovich who, on seeing the movie Terrorist, immediately acquired the rights for the movie and screened them across theaters in the USA. Similarly, Sanjay should get the rights for those movies and distribute them in India with appropriate subtitles or dub them in Indian languages. Or, if he proceeds to do a remake, credit the people involved in the original version. Until he does that, I will feel no remorse in watching the movies he dishes out without paying the price of a movie ticket and I will then proceed to criticise his movies.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Snow in Cardiff

Its been a relatively warm winter but the weather changed drastically last night. Had some snowfall (which is a rare event in Cardiff) and the above picture is a view from my bedroom window.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Happy news

Well, I have become an uncle for the second time, thanks to the efforts my brother and bhabhi put in. They have been blessed with a baby boy. Both mom and baby are doing fine. It's sad that we are all staying far apart and cannot be around for such important events. Time indeed flies. It just feels like yesterday when I was in Chicago for my first nephews first birthday. Now that little one is closing in on on four. It will be really nice if I can make a quick trip to US to see the new born but given my current visa status in the UK, it's going to be hard getting visa to go to the US. Hopefully, I will get to see my nephew in person soon.

On another note, I have finalised my travel plans to India (again!!!). I will be spending a little more than a month in Chennai and I am really looking forward to it. It would be nice to make a trip to some touristic place in Kerala like Kumarakom or Munnar and rounding it up with a visit to Kottarakara where our family deity resides and enjoys the appam that's freshly prepared everyday.. slurp slurp. Also, make a small detour and visit Madurai and the famous Meenakshi amman temple. That will be fantastic. If you guys have any suggestions for places in Kerala to visit, drop me a line. Your tips are welcome and I can use a little help in finalising my plans in India. I will be visiting Chennai during the Tamil new year's festival and it will be nice to spend time with family and friends for the festive occasion. Last time when I was in Chennai, I did enjoy helping dad out with his work at the music school. I am sure I will be spending some time at the school during this trip as well. Also, hopefully, I will escape the heatwave that will start in May. I will also be back in UK for the start of the cricket season and hopefully wont miss any of the league matches.

Last weekend I travelled to Bristol to attend the AGM for my league cricket team. Well, we do take our cricket seriously and play in all earnest. I was told that I had won the best batsman award for my performances in the second team and I finally got to lay my hands on the trophy. So chuffed to bits. Last year, during mid season, I sustained a cruciate ligament injury and had to miss most of the matches in the second half of the season. I have been going to the gym regularly to get my knee in as good a shape as possible for the forthcoming season. I hope I have put in enough work to withstand the rigours of playing cricket. I do understand getting physically fit is just a small part. The mental scar takes a lot longer to heal and that's what worries me most. Cricket net session starts tomorrow and I will find out soon how prepared I am. Wish me luck.

This week has been filled with happy events and hope it continues in the same vein!!!!!!!!!

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Seduction Style

Thanks to madmomma, I figured out what my seduction style is. I am not sure how true it is but I would like to believe what it says. :)

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Free calls to India & USA

Please note that the numbers mentioned below are no longer considered part of free minutes in the mobile network package. Please check with your local mobile network before using them.
If any of the readers visiting the blog are from the UK and using O2, they can make free calls to India & USA using the following numbers (will be counted as inclusive minutes in o2):

08707947646 - During weekdays
08445707646 - During weekends

Both the numbers are free when dialled from O2 post pay conenction. I would still advise you all to make sure that these numbers are counted in your inclusive minutes. It works fine for me. With other networks, I am not sure if non geographical numbers (as the ones listed above) are part of their inclusive minutes

The above numbers can be used to call most of the European as well as North American countries. Drop me a mail if you need more information.

Good luck.

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