Thursday, December 3, 2009

Of 2 states by Chetan Bhagat

Gone are the days when books were read for literary pleasure ... days when the first half of the book would be used to build a complex plot and the other half to unwind it ..... If on one scale we place 'Pride & prejudice ', that was about marriages in early 19th century in England, on the other scale we will have 2 states .. about love & marriage in early 2000s in India. There obviously is nothing common between the two except marriage and match making.

On second thought why do i even bring 'pride & prejudice ' in my review ? the answer is simple ..... the punjabi family described in the book reminds me of the Nadira bakshi & Anupam Kher of "Bride & Prejudice " ....

The talk , the food obsession , the show off , the marriage deals ... it is really impossible to wipe out those images while reading the novel.....

well anyways coming to the novel ... it is about the usual North vs south divide , the boy wooing girl family, the girl wooing boy family etc ......the story in itself is old and repetitive but the treatment is somewhat new and refreshing ala Chetan Bhagat style.... the novel resembles the script of a bollywood movie with its ups and downs and old and new humor bound together in somewhat loosely linked story chain.

somewhere, sometime we all have heard of Chennai's autowallas, pesky landlords , IIT obsession , extravagant marriages of north full of liquor and bitching aunties. Chetan Bhagat manages to ink many moments that compel a reader to recall some incident from his own life, and here lies the USP of the book. Apart from being an entertainer it has something for almost everybody.

The book suffers from usual Chetan Bhagat flaws like characters not being sketched properly, the god intervening and talking , predictable story turns and a hurried end. like a usual bollywood movie one fails to understand how Ananya the protagonist manages to gather all youngsters in marriage and in 2 mins is able to give the gyan and convert the heart of the groom. Similarly why all of a sudden Krish's father turns from a wife beating , "i give a damn" guy to sensitive father, is not at all explained. the story had lots of scope to build the father son rift and coming close , but somehow Mr Bhagat missed on it .. or may be he plans to cover it in his next novel.

Apart from the bollywoodish flaws, the novel is a great entertainer and like all his novels fast and humorous. After four novels now, Mr Bhagat is getting repetitive and now he has exhausted both his student life IIt and IIM. i somehow feel that Me Bhagat would be at literary crossroads in his minds.. weather to grow up and attempt something that would satisfy the writer in him (glimpses shown by thoughts such as the train passes thorugh agra, jhansi , gwalior, bhopal .. many states that make up India but also divide it )or stick to the beaten path of entertainers that merely titillate and would not compel any reader to look at the book twice.

To sum it all , the theme is made by Shyam Benegal or Hrishikesh Mukherji would have been a thought provoking masterpiece , made by Priyadarshan or David Dhwan would have been a laugh riot all along, a degree superior to the book . The book is like Ram Gopal Verma's interpretation of the subject , funny but with old jokes, trying to invoke sympathy and tears but it fails.

ps: why do i always recall movies while reading or talking about Chetan Bhagat ? Any guesses :)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

of remebering pyaasi ....

If National integration wanted a showcase , then it would have to look no further than the pyaasi haveli ..... a house haunted by 13 ghosts .. each a unique personality ... though most of us had been interviewed in Pune but in reality we belonged to different parts of the country .....

The story of pyaasi haveli had close linkage to Hotel we all stayed in ..... just as fate had it .... Infy by some random program had put about 30 people together in hotel Mayura (or Ashoka) i dont recall now ..... and of these 30 people there were 5 girls who obvioulsy had a seperate house hunting prgram but in the rest of the people there were 4 people who were highly active ..... Me aka deven, Lade aka Ninad, gandhi aka Prajyot and gajjan aka aditya ..... it so happened that each and every one of other 20 odd guys had attached himself to one the four and so in short we four were searching for about 20 odd people..... during the first week of house hunt we used to regularly get down at BTM and scout for houses, and exchange information on the way back to the hotel .. soon few guys got a cheap house for rent at some obscure place, away from BTM and koramangla and so we were left with about 16 odd guys ... .Gajjan found a house for 3 k in electronics city and took 3 guys with him ... that left us with 12 guys and 3 people ..... me, lade and gandi all 3 of us had ganged together and had decided to look for 2 big houses to accomodate the 12 guys luck had it we got an adverstisement about 4 flats (2 BHK each ) in BTM newly made for rent .... on seeing the place we three just fell inlove with it ... it had four small flats , 2 on ground and 2 on first floor, each one had two small room perfect for one person and a hall ...(the personl living in hall did have little privacy but had huge room for himself) the whole bleck when rented together was a bot cheaper and in 17 k we got all the four flats ....

so now all 12 of us could stay together and we named the place pyassi haveli (because we did not have drinking water there and for the first 3 days till we could arrange for drinking water can, pots etc we all used to be thirsty at home )...... so there it was 12 of us in one haveli .. .four flats ....

the lower ground floor, was occupied by Jhawar, guru and ATJ

Jhawar - the shy, demure marwari guy with charming boyish looks ...also called as VVS JHAWAR ... for his stylish batting in front of the infy feb 03 girls... there was hardly any girl in the batch who did not swear by his charms

ATJ - the gujju bhai ... his fetish for his receding hairline and body building was necesaary .. the unique style hiss and the commands of his on language were legendary ...... like all gujju bhais he is very very particular about financial detailsGuru - the guy from nagpur .... his oneliners and his ability to end any everlasting debate with 3 words were talking town of whole bangalore ..... The other flat on ground floor had 3 people ...

Rahul aka thapa - the guy from pune had love for cars and hindustan times.. he tried his best to bat well in front of gals but always beaten by jhawru ....Krishna aka daddu .... The tall, handsome and quiet guy from yavatmal ... he had outgrown his height as well as age and would always talk as mature as a 70 year old guy

Binoy aka captain ... the mallu whose song neele neele ambar par titilated mallu as well as tamil babes (his targets ) but alas he ended up as a brotherly figure for all

they were later joined by Karun gajaria - aka gajar .... the snart ... naughty and stylish guy form delhi ..... he would smell of cigarettes from top and his socks always stinked even if they were fresh ... he slowly was relegated to remove his shoes outside the haveli and stay there for one hour till smell fades away

The first flat on first floor was occupied by Mallya, Kg and gandhi

Mallya - the tullu speaking , god fearing konkani guy from mumbai would crack jokes, immitate people and was the live wire of the group ... but he was also the one who would wake up the earliest , pray , study and be clean and fresh every day
KG - kaustubh the typical puneri brahmin was the quietest and most sincere of the lot .... he was hardly noticed in the house as eother he would be sleeping or working at office

Gandhi - the playboy , had the uncanny ability to hide his mischevious tendencies under sweet smile and mature talks ... but a level deeper he was pure mischeif

The last of the fourth floor had again three guys -anand kumaran aka anna - he had only 3 obsessions in his life
1. His girlfirnd manju and getting to marry her
2. chennai his hometown where he went every weekend (also to meet manju)
3. Shakira - the big babe .....
every friday he wouldnt return home but monday morning he would present himself with fish gravy and rice for all of us

Lade the ninad .... the hyderabadi - mumbai mix guy with pink nipples was known for his husky voice and swearing tenedency ... his abuses were innovative, hillarious and enever ending ... he was the only one with camera and was always in lime light for kinky snaps taken by others and published in his name

me aka chandu aka deven ... i was the lazy, money guy who handled the finances, adeplans for outing and was always the last one to leave the haveli in morning and firstone to eneter in evening .... having stayed in north and central india i was the food guide for the whole pyaasi ....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

of Harry Potter and HBP Review

If order of phoenix was a dark , war movie ... half blood prince is teenage Chiclets set in fantasy land ..... All the harry potter fans had expected this edition to be full of dark magic as well as dark secrets being revealed...... the movie sadly lacks in fulfilling either of the two .....

To start with let us discuss what makes HBP -the book as one of the best of the series..... the book though contains very less of war and magical duels .... it makes up for it by clever use of human emotions and sketching out of characters ...... The book essentially is about the relation between the trio of harry, Ron and Hermione with others, as well as sketching the character of Voldemort ...... by the 827th page, every reader is aware of what lord Voldemort was like as a child, what he grew up to be and what are the traits that make him the darkest wizard of all times.....

The movie sadly misses this vital part of the book ... no where Voldemorts character is sketched out in detail , as the book does.... there is a small mention of Voldemort wanting to be different and collecting tropihies but that is no where translated to his horocruxes or the hiding places he chooses .... sadly also the ring (one the three deathly hollows) is ignored in the movie ...... the average viewer is left guessing , as to how did Dumbledore knew about Vodermort's horocruxes, how he had figured about the cave and even what would the other horocruxes might be .....

Now coming to the part of emotions ...... in the book, Rowling has successfully sketched the characters of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Mrs weasly,weasly twins, Rupin, Snape, Bellatrix, narcissia, Dumbledore , Nevil etc etc .... each one of the characters is set up for the role they play in the seventh edition ... it also details out the love angels of harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione ..... the movie does its bit in sketching those details out ... but in trying to stay a fast paced movie, the editor has messed up the director's vision of the movie being a love story ......

One character that is sketched as per Rowling's vision, is Draco malfoy ... malfoy who was reduced to an extra's role gets his due in the movie. the movie captures his dilemma , his arrogance of being marked a death eater, his frustration and his fear of not being able to deliver his task. Sadly though this will be the last time he gets any decent screen space for he is almost absent in the seventh book.

The movie also has quite a few deviations from the book ..... for starters.... the coffee shop girl is an addition, so is Maclaggen's advances on Hermoine ...... Its Luna who saves harry in the train compartment when malfoy knocks him out, and points out Felix Felic's to Ron, as against Tonks and Hermione respectively who do so in the book... the attack on burrow is uncalled for so is the part about Harry and Ginny's kiss in the room of requirements .... these deviations neither add any spice in the movie nor are a visual treat ...... the worst part of the movie is that it changes the ending completely ...... Harry instead of being frozen by Dumbledore , is asked by him to move to the floor below, from where he watches the whole death sequence of Dumbledore ...... this is gross absurdity for harry would never stay quiet while dumbledore is being attacked ..... and even if he does, it was very easy for him to blast the whole place, after dumbledore was killed, and kill the death eaters which he does not ....... not quite the ending we expected ..... and even worse was Dumbledore's funeral which was marked by raising of wands.....

This is not to say that the movie has nothing to offer to the audience ... it is a visual delight.... sequences like breaking of millennium bridge, slughorn's conversion to an arm chair, or inferni attacks on Harry & Dumbledore are well shot and are the one that linger on in the memory long after the movie ... the value of the movie lies in its cinematography as well as the sets (usual part of HP movies) ..... The movie is fast paced to the extent that many important characters are reduced to passing mentions ...... but that perhaps also makes the movie interesting ..... for example ... Greyback is introduced in the movie through a 5 second shot of a wanted poster...... the viewer then has to link that shot with 3 subsequent instances when he is shown in the movie...... so anyone who missed that cue will not be able to realize who greyback is ... or the viewers see dumbledore playing with tom riddle's diary just before horocrux's are mentioned.... thus it is left for viewers to deduce that the diary was also one of the horocruxes.

the whole plot of half blood prince is lost somewhere in movie and as per me could have been eliminated completely to give some more details about voldemort.

The cast as usual delivers a good performance.... Ron, slughorn, Hermoine and Lavender brown being the top pick ...... Radcliffe now looks too mature to play a 15-16 year old boy and the production movie house now needs to shoot the 7th edition pretty soon before he starts to look manly .....
Speaking of production house, some one has to ensure consistency across all the seven parts in small things like props (the stone pensive changes to a steel one in the movie, Dumbledore's wand has changed , the slytherine locket does not have a S on it, the school brooms now have leg rests which were not there in the first movie and so on ..... character's dressings have also changed a fair bit .... Ron no where sports the red sweaters that are typical of weaselys or Snape hair is less greasy from previous version.

Overall, all that you missed in the fifth part - Quidditch, Ron's antics, love and crushes, you will find in the sixth part ...... do talk someone who has read the book , after the movie .... this will ensure you get to understand what actually has happened in the sixth edition of the book and what all you have missed.......

My advice - the movie is worth a dekho for its visual appeal but please don't expect a lot of story in it ...... those who know the book by heart look out for small cues that could be used in the next part (like RAB's photo on slug's desk)

Overall rating - 3 /5

Sunday, May 10, 2009

of the gap in generation

generation gap was once the most talked about topic ... during the mid 90's we were the young guns , the teenagers , who were always telling their elders how the new generation is different ... we always believed we had the 'X' factor and somehow the elders would never understand our feelings, our issues, our pains.

Now the tables have turned on us ..... not even touching 30 and we find ourselves alienated from the new age super kids .... we just cant understand how these kids can spend so much money? Its very tough on me to see young girls wearing micro mini skirts for school uniform. Similarly young boys wearing ultra low waist almost fallen off trousers to school make me wonder how old am i? I just cant keep myself abreast of the countless gizmos and their specification which is gossip for these kids.

i dont count myself as a yuppie ..... but then i am someone who takes his parents to mall and urges them to buy branded clothes and enjoy Baskin Robins ....
Seeing people spending lavishly reminds me of the times when our pocket money was rs 5 a week, of times when One rupee was so important ... when cadbury bar was sign of good time and celebration ....
On the otherhand seeing slums on side of the road makes me wanr to spend and enjoy my life. I want my parents, my wife , my family to enjoy the luxuries the life has to offer and i can spend all my svaings for the same......

I guess somewhere i am confused .... i am stuck in between the two generations ..... in short time i have seen both sides of the coin .....

Monday, April 20, 2009

of voting in indian democracy

if there will be a contest to check desperation to vote , i will definetly be amongst the finalists. The whole process has taken more than 6 months now and still i dont have any clue where am i stuck.

It is really frustating that in my own country i dont have a right to vote. My voter ID application's status is unkown and i am shuttling between the election office and the election incharge for the ward. No one can tell me whether or not my application has been aprroved, if yes then has the card been made, if yes where it is , if no when will it be made.
Besides that the survey for electoral roll has been completed, when, i have no clue ... but for sure it was on a weekday when both me and neha were at work. No idea how to get my name on that and whom to contact.

Not only that, i dont know who are the contestants this year, they have not yet visisted my office or home to ask for our vote. there is no spam mail, sms, processions, loud speaker blaring or not even a banner informing who the contestant is , which party he/she belongs and that person needs my vote to win.

All this is really frustating... how can the whole system conspire against genuine and interested voters? I am quite sure all these obstructions are not faced by the people living in slums, for their votes can be bought for 50-100 rupees. No party is interested in talking to us for we will ask questions. We will not be happy that they want to give rice at 2 rupees per kg, but we will ask "from where will they get the money for this scheme?"

I just want to salute the tactician, the master politician who devised this plan of alienating the thinking population and concentrating mainly on saleable votes. the plan has worked so well that all the young people like us do not regard ourselevs as real india. Every person i meet and talk to has the opinion that we are not real india. real india is the person living in city slums and in villages.

My only worth to the country is the tax i pay every year , thats it. other than that the government, the politicians the country is not all worried about me. I pay the road tax but that will be used to build road near some neta's home or in his constituency during elections. I pay education cess and the SC/ST candidates, whose father is some big IAS officer or public sector employee(again due to reservations)will get subsidy in education. And i am conditoned not to ask any question by drilling one line in my head from childhood "ask not what your country has done for you, ask what you can do for the country."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Of vegetarian Vs Non-vegetarian food

Of late i have been into numerous discussion with Neha about vegetarian food ... even though i am a vegetarian but i don’t buy any single arguments given by vegetarians on why vegetarian food is good and non-veg is bad...Here is my point to point rebuttal of the same:-

1. veg food is healthier than non veg:

Most the articles that site non veg food as bad are generally written by veg fanatics who say that eating non veg increases obesity, heart ailments. They give calorie contents and other scientific facts and compare butter chicken with aaloo gobi or bhindi subzi ..... all i would say is that if this is true then Gujratis who don’t even touch non veg should be the fittest of the Indian community .... why don’t we compare fafdas , veg tikki and pakodas with staked fish? the results will surely be opposite ..... The truth is veg cuisine is as fried, oil and cholesterol full as non veg cuisine and it depends on individual recipe on how healthy or unhealthy the food is .....

I am not even going into nutrition content of individual item as none item is complete or balanced diet in itself. It takes a balanced meal to ensure all nutrients are assimilated.

2. Veg food ensure that animals are not killed and ensure sympathy towards animals.

Let us recall that it an Indian MR J.C.Basu who showed that plants like animals are living, have feelings and they can feel. There is no food in this world that can be achieved without killing or hurting any living being. (If you say fruits i will say eggs are their equivalent).
Many argue that plants have just 2 or 3 senses and animals are more developed/ higher / superior living beings thus eating animals is less sinful.
Is killing a deaf and dumb man less sinful that killing a normal man? Is killing snake ok, given that it can not hear? how can a religion differentiate between living beings based on the senses? this way hizras are less human coz they cant reproduce.......

Well senses are man's definition of being a higher living organism. I argue that plants are the only living species that create their own food from sunlight, water and minerals, that’s why they are superior beings, hence killing them is higher sin.

Plants do not depend on animals for food (well baring 1-2 species) and it is the animal kingdom (including human) that needs to eat other living beings. So let us all animals fulfill this need of ours amongst ourselves and not depend on plants for the same.

3. the environmental veggies say that rearing animals (that are culled for food) is a drain on environment.

Ahem .... what about the fact that if we all turn vegetarians the whole of the earth would not be able to provide requisite amount of fruits, veggies and other grains?
I mean where will you get the land to farm for 8 billion people?
I read some where that grains used for feeding animals reared on farms can feed 800 million people. Well good. But can it feed them for a life time? can those grains provide a balanced diet? what about the fact that the meat thus generated serves need of about another 800 Million people?
In such a regard non veggies are better as they don’t just depend on land but also on water (sea) for food and so the overall pressure on land is less.....

Let us all start eating sea food and fishes... this way land required for agriculture will reduce and 2/3rd of worlds surface can be used for food requirements of human being

4. veg food is less tamsik, does not increases sexual desire, aggression and is pure ....
Ahem ..... My dear religion fanatics .... tamsik, satvik , aggression etc is more dependent on an individual and his character rather than food he/she eats .... if that is the case then most of the vegie wives should be docile and non domineering ... a fact all their husbands can refute :)

Well what about food like onion, garlic, various veggie aphrodisiacs?

5. Non veg brings all with it diseases from poultry etc ....
Duhhh.... what about pesticides on crops? Please someone remind these veg fanatics that rotten veggies and fruits is as harmful as diseased meat!!

My take: Different food groups have different nutritional value and a balanced diet requires all the components. Some of them are abundant in non veg food and some in veg, but this does not means that other food group is deficient in these.
It is simply a matter of individual choice and let us keep it at that ......

Monday, February 9, 2009