Not On Assignment

A journo's jottings under no deadline pressure (since Jan 1, 2010)

Archive for February 2010

Winning combination

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First girl: Hey, is it true that Orhan Pamuk and Kiran Desai are an item?
Second girl: Oh, that’s old news! I heard it long ago…
FG: Really? A Nobel screwing a Booker… and you didn’t even tell me about it?
SG: Sorry!

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Written by Raju Bist

February 26, 2010 at 6:52 pm

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A tale of two Johnnys

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Sriram Raghavan, the Stardust journalist-turned filmmaker has done a commendable job with his second feature film Johnny Gaddaar (the debut was in 2004 with Ek Hasina Thi). Not since the days of Vijay Anand and his Teesri Manzil has a director come along who can rivet you to your seat. Raghavan, who has also written the script, does not throw in a single loose scene in the suspense caper.
I will not dwell on the story for that would mean talking a bit about the superb twists and turns in the movie.
Suffice it to say that Raghavan has extracted wonderful performances from most of the cast including Neil Nitin Mukesh (the singer’s grandson), Dharmendra, Vinay Pathak, Zakir Hussain (Sarkar’s Rashid; Shardul here), Daya Shetty (of CID fame), Ashwini Khalsekar (ex-CID) and the brilliant, ever dependable character actor Govind Namdeo (as Inspector Kalyan).
And yes, watch out for Raghavan’s constant tributes to Vijay Anand’s brilliant body of work.
In an interview before the movie’s release he was asked “Why Johnny Gaddaar? Is Johnny one of the central characters?”
This is what the writer-director had replied:
”No. There is no character by that name. Actually I have always had the highest regard for Vijay Anand and this is my way of paying homage to him. I vividly remember some of his films like Jewel Thief, Guide, Teesri Manzil, etc. They are decades old but still so much fun to watch.
“His work is admirable and I simply loved Johnny Mera Naam. It suddenly struck me to incorporate a kind of a movie excerpt from Johnny Mera Naam in a particular sequence in the film, and hence the title.”
Apart from the title, there are other references like a character reading The Guide, dancing girls with Teesri Manzil-type dresses and hairstyles, a hint of the background score from Johnny Mera Naam… oh, there are many… go spot them yourself!

Written by Raju Bist

February 15, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Tradition v/s modernity

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There’s a family friend, Sameera Khan, who goes through a quaint ritual every summer she visits her folks back home in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. As soon as her long-distance train crosses the outskirts of Bombay, she wears a burqa over her Punjabi salwar-kameez. “My folks would be scandalised if they saw me not covered from head to toe in black,” she explains. On the return journey, the Bandra resident does a reverse switch – discarding the burqa and suit underneath for her fave pair of jeans and tee-shirt.
Then there’s good friend Rekha Sherigar who follows a similar practice when visiting her mom in Mangalore. Only this time, it’s a mangalsutra that makes a guest appearance!
Unlike Sameera, who wears the burqa for religious reasons, Rekha has a somewhat long-winding and explanation to offer
“I guess I don’t wear it in Bombay for no reason…or a variety of reasons… Sometimes I don’t wear it because I don’t feel like (wearing it). Sometimes because people comment on how I look too young to be married. Sometimes because it’s just something irritating around your neck in the hot summer; it’s really cumbersome. But I always wear it when I go home otherwise my mom will shout at me. She feels that it somehow reflects on her if I don’t wear it… oh, it’s very complicated…”

Written by Raju Bist

February 13, 2010 at 11:11 pm

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Revenge of the spouse

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When he was young, MN was like the protagonist of Sakharam Binder – he used to curse and beat his wife regularly. Vijay Tendulkar‘s hero brought home women abandoned by their husbands and abused them. MN went a step further. He used to bring home a different ‘lady of the night’ every night.
Now he is 75, and completely bed-ridden.
His son and daughter-in-law attend to his every minor need.
And his wife of 55 years, the one he had abused all those years?
She does not look even once in his direction!
Reminds me of the actress playing Kulbhushan Kharbanda’s wife in Manorama Six Feet Under. Throughout the film, she silently moves around in a wheelchair, tolerating his philandering and even paedophalic ways.
She reacts only once – when she hears that her husband is dying of cancer.
She lets out a long, loud laugh, one that reverberates throughout the room as three other characters, including her husband, watch her, amazed.
She revels in his new-found misery – and the audience smiles with her…

Written by Raju Bist

February 8, 2010 at 7:46 pm

King Customer

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Overheard in the railway compartment:
”No, sir, that is not the case. I am not a fraud. Please come over to my office. We will discuss everything over a cup of coffee.
”Sir it was a genuine mistake by my executive. I am in a train now so I cannot talk much. I am inviting you to my office. Please, we will sort out the issue over coffee.
”No, I was not rude to you. I was rude to my executive. I had specified to him that he should collect exactly 5,000 rupees from you. Sir, please come over for coffee.
“Yes, you are absolutely right, sir. I did offer you a discount of 600 rupees. Come to the office, we will have coffee and I will immediately ask Customer Care to give you 600 rupees.
”Please don’t say that. It was a genuine mistake. I shall explain everything over coffee. When can I expect you, Sir?”

Written by Raju Bist

February 7, 2010 at 9:51 pm

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Double-sided solution

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The Congress and the Shiv Sena were at loggerheads once again.
This time over the naming of the brand new BWSL (Bandra-Worli Sea Link). While the Congress wanted it to be named after Rajiv Gandhi, the Shiv Sena was plugging for Veer Savarkar.
The wifey had a perfect solution.
“Call it the Rajiv Gandhi Setu from the Bandra end and Veer Savarkar Marg from the Worli side.”
Touche!

Written by Raju Bist

February 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm