Wednesday, February 22, 2006

MNNIT, Allahabad

I will be conducting my first quiz as a semi-professional Quizmaster at Motilal Nehru Institute of Technology, Allahabad (formerly, REC Allahabad) as part of its annual Quizfest Gnosiomania 2k6.

I am conducting "Generizique - The General Quiz" and "Quiz d'affair - The Business Quiz" as part of the quizfest, which is being held from the 3rd to 5th of March.

Monday, February 13, 2006


"The mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, and to subdue it is, it seems to me, more difficult than controlling the wind."

Among my most personal moments are the solitary walks across the bridge that connects Thane and Kalwa. Amidst the hustle bustle of people and the putrid fumes emanating from vehicles, I have cultivated the ability to close my eyes and let my mind take over. In a world of organised chaos, this has been my singular retreat where I can be just me. No diversions... no obstacles... being neither friend nor foe... just I, ME, MYSELF. The solitude has seldom spoken anything and yet opened the doors of possibility.

With work-life eating my weekdays and weekends generally spent in the company of friends it has been a long time since I have indulged in this joy of isolation. The sluggishness that has crept into my walk lately has been a clear indication of a confused existence. With a feeling of despondency slowly creeping into my everyday life, for long has my heart yearned for this indulgence. But just as we disregard beggars hoping they would walk away without pricking our conscience, the walk of contemplation had been put on the back burner with the hope that this glum phase would pass off without any effort... or, casualty.

Today evening when my singular melancholia is at fever pitch, I have trudged along to the bridge hoping to find solace and inspiration from nature. I am sitting here, smelling the brine in the air, that has in the past acted as a balm to my nerves. Today the air, reeking of worldly woes, is enervating the already dispirited ME.

I peer down to catch my reflection in the murky waters. What I see is an eerie nothingness staring back with invisible eyes, castigating my past follies, mocking the drudgery of my present, raising frightening visions of an uncertain tomorrow.

I am watching the golden orange streetlights reflected across the gentle ripples of creek water when my eyes fall on firecrackers bursting into a thousand hues in distant lands as if shooting stars are cutting their way across the pitch black sky.

The rumble of trains carrying harried passengers and my heart beating in perfect rhythm. The gust of wind that lashes against the bridge shuddering the very foundations of the concrete structure, can you not blow away my worries.

You, the temple by the banks who submerge every monsoon, you emphasise the futility of God when faced with bare elements. You, the hutments that have defaced the serene surroundings, you are a metaphor for those harrowing experiences that have defiled my pure, naked soul.

As I sit here, alone, frenziedly penning down these sights, I catch sight of people watching me, possibly speculating over the presence of a Madman in their midst. My thoughts race out to you and to these immortal lines,
"In a universe of ambiguity, this kind of certainty comes only once, and never again, no matter how many lifetimes you live."
A few moments ago, I cried out your name and listened to its echo over the din of traffic. To strangle my despair with the sweetness of its sound. To etch your name against an invisible eternity. The profundity of an indivisible truth reaffirmed, I gaze at the sky yearning for raindrops to wash my tear-filled eyes...

PS: This was written yesterday during my solemn sojourn on the bridge. Verbatim. It wasn't meant to be posted on this blog, had a friend not insisted.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Nothing Great About Rang De Basanti

I wished to write this piece yesterday, but was simply unable to gather my thoughts. The post might be a bit haphazard since my mind still seems a bit confused.

Thought I was probably the last blogger in the world to watch Rang de Basanti. But, she beat me to it. Big Deal, you might say. But, with all the hoopla surrounding its release and the umpteen reviews posted on every Tom, Dick and Harry's blog, the expectations from the movie had reached a new high. The general consensus was "What? You haven't watch RDB!!!" Alright, now I have.

If a frame by frame dissection of a movie reveals infinitesimally minute loose ends, only then can it lay claim to greatness. Sadly, Rang De Basanti fails in this respect. On its surface, the movie appears seamless, without any apparent flaws and bereft of stereotypes. Scratch harder, dig deeper, scan it under a microscope and RDB gets exposed. Technically brilliant (Ah! Those sepia tones), effective characterisation backed by praiseworhy performaces, mindblowing music by A R Rahman, parallel drawn between the Bhagat Singh episode and the current happenings in the lives of the characters, etc, etc. This film has it all. Yet, it fails somewhere. Honestly, I do not know where. The je ne sais quois that constitutes great cinema is missing.

The movie attempts to tread two different paths, that of a feel-good bindaas movie a la Dil Chahta Hai and a take on social awakening a la Swades minus the preachy sermons. Unfortunately, it ends up nowhere. The insouciant humour of Akash is missing, so is the conviction of Mohan Bhargava. You neither leave your seat yelling, "paisa-vasool" nor does it chain you to your comfy multiplex seat for that extra second longer and compel you to introspect.

The first half drags on for a wee bit showcasing the carefree materialistic existence of a bunch of friends. I could find very little humour and whatever I could, found it a bit induced. And to think that the entire theatre was in splits every few seconds made me check whether my auricle was obstructing sound waves from reaching the cochlea. But, all seemed in perfect order. My only real laugh came somewhere during the second half where Mohan Agashe's character is depicted as Gen Dyer shouting orders at Jalianwala Bagh with a smirk on his face. Somehow, it seemed comical.

Where the film goes horribly wrong is in the last half-hour giving rise to a strong suspicion that the director probably got into his Aks mode. Hindi film-makers age-old obsession with a grand ending proves to be its undoing.

The transformation of the characters from self-indulgent individuals into revenge seekers gunning-for-the-Defence-Minister's-blood seemed unreal. The shift in their convictions and priorities could have been dealt with much better by employing the Bhagat Singh backdrop than through the cliched callous statements of a politician.

The means adopted by the group is, of course, open to debate. The very fact that they believe in their action made them lose my respect and whatever sympathy they had garnered. Also, in today's world where each and every move of the Govt is being tracked by media hawks, the brutal lathi charge on demonstrators and final sequence of commandoes bumping off five unarmed self-confessed non-terrorists, both in full public view, is a bit too far-fetched.

Irrespective of these flaws, the film will be a hit. As a friend of mine quipped, "The Hindi film watchers are treated to so much of mediocrity that their definition of 'Great Cinema' has plummeted."

Will the movie actually awaken the youth? Naah. What it will help popularise is the till-now-restricted-to-the-North term Behn di Taki. I prefer the good old Behnchot....

Magic Moment: The intensity in Karan's (Siddharth) eyes when he hugs Sonia (Soha) and Ajay (Madhavan) right after they get engaged. Those eyes....