Lazy Shorts: Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Dobaara!

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Yes, Ekta kapoor makes mistakes too. For those of us who thought that after some Gangaajal-induced eye opening, which opened her eyes to the path of sanity and creativity, she would be one of the new faces of intelligence and kickarse, this film is a huge disappointment. Like they say, never trust a woman with a bad dressing sense. Like you should never trust a man who cannot lech. If they are unable to perform the ONE thing they are biologically wired to do perfectly…

Akshay is the big dick. Imraan is his pet dick. While both of them are fucking around, they meet Sonakshi – the flower power from Kashmir. And then begins the grueling two-hour journey from dosti to ishq and mohabbat with oodles of hawas. Finally, tired of cockblocking each other, they fight it out – like mards. Whomever the lady falls and weeps over, begs to stop, wipes blood off with her dupatta, wins. Throw in unnecessary songs in dreams and chawls, sidekicks, sex jokes, and item numbers and you have an old concoction for headache in a new bottle – dobaara!.

Wait a minute. Was this not supposed to be a film on Dawood Ibrahim, by the way? Was it not supposed to be a gangster film, by the way? Was it not supposed to be much much much bigger than a simple love triangle, by the way?

Akshay is still in Rowdy mode. Which is not a good mode to be stuck in. Sonakshi is bleh. Imraan has proven again and again in every scene he has that he cannot act. The script is pointless. The cinematography average. The editing most inadequate – the whole film should have been chopped off, right? The music is forgettable.

And to top all this bullcrap, read this from the film’s Wikipedia page:

“Hollywood Actor Al Pacino, showed his appreciation for the film and stated that the promos and the posters have had him reminiscing about his Godfather times. Incidentally Pacino’s business associate, Barry Navidi showed him the theatrical trailer where Akshay Kumar’s appearance, who plays the role of a fictitious don in the film brought back memories and experiences from the 1972 film. Al Pacino portrayed the role of Michael Corleone, son of Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando)…”

Now isn’t that the icing on this dung heap?

Milan Luthria, what is wrong with you?

Ode to an Express Train

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Lend me your ears, good sirs and dames, I am still bubbling with glee,

With littlest shame, moi confesses, Chennai Express I did see!

It was a Saturday afternoon, with a sneaky pour of rain,

With Aru (the Lenswielder) and Sud (the Stud) chattering along,

We walked up Chandan’s lane.

 

Oh my! Maa Tara! What a madding crowd was everywhere!

Fresh off Eid, spending their Eidi, in their fanciest affair!

The ticket counter was clogged and hassled, much to many’s woe,

We comfortably lounged with coffee and tramped in last,

Thanks to Book My Show.

 

The film is a simple tale of love and loss and ashes,

Of cars and blasts, goons and drunks, gun barrels and knife gashes.

40-year old Rahul is going to Goa for Grandpop’s final goodbye,

He ditches it all; flees, fights, and fake marries,

At Meenamma’s every romantic sigh.

 

She is surely a visual delight,

If Meenamma darling worked harder, she could be an actress of might.

Rahul – it saddens me much to say this – is an unnecessary bore,

He hardly gets a laugh, a tear, or a shudder,

In humour, fights, or resplendent gore!

 

The tale is not much, not new, most naught,

But the dialogues have been well wrought.

And laugh you will, a lot, throughout, never will you stop,

Barring the end, a hideous brawl that it is,

You will chickle and guggle till you drop!

 

The colours are bright, and deep, and swell,

The camera, I guess, was wielded well.

The scissors also did make appropriate snaps,

A rollicking first half – and even in the second,

There weren’t any cursed gaps.

 

The minstrels who doth make the well-crafted tunes,

Who did adeptly conduct the singers’ croons,

Should have their hands well shaken, and be patted on the back.

For every Titli and Thalaiva who says one-two-three-four,

From Kashmir to Kanyakumari I will be ready-steady-PO! (on loop plays track)

 

But mistake me not, Rohit Anna still sucks,

His cars still fly, and to his skill I give no fucks.

But yes, he knows, how to entertain the light-headed  mass,

And those, who after a boiling week of work,

Would give heavy intellectual ships* a pass.

 

So, get on the train baby for a hearty laugh,

Don’t leave your mind at home; happily pick on every gaffe.

But I will tell you this (even though the thought makes me sadly groan) –

In a big budget SRK movie opening on a festive weekend,

The stars are Kathakali masks and that gorgeous Padukone!

 

*Referring to Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus, the beacon of intellectual parallel cinema in India today. In my opinion, a film that preaches way too much and tries a little too hard. But, also a film that is light years more superior that Chennai Express.

Sharing the Same Plate: Finding the Beautiful Secret between India and Pakistan

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I was indeed intrigued and delighted when I came across this brilliant piece of information. The two countries, torn apart by too many reasons-prejudices-excuses can still find one very strong common ground. I have spent considerable time researching on this subject and nothing makes me happier than finding out what I have.

But, this post must not be misinterpreted as weak or sympathizing. Let us be objective enough in saying that both the countries have been wronged. Also, let us be objective enough to say that both the countries have not always played fair. Who is to be blamed is a fool’s debate we have been debating on for the last seven odd decades.

My love for Musalmans and Islam is no secret in my social circles (This is not the appropriate article to discuss why I have such immense love, warmth, kinship, and respect for Islam). What makes the culture of the faith more endearing and heartwarming to me is the diligence and dedication shown towards food – something akin to Bengalis (here, one should just try to guess how much I must love a Bengali Muslim!). The sheer lavishness of a spread, the scientific use of spices, the tedious but almost grandmotherly long hours spent for certain preparations, make the cuisine (various regions of the world) an interesting culinary experience altogether. For those like me, who literally survive on kebabs-gosht-biryani-shawarma, there is no turning back.

I belong to no faith in particular, but my stomach is definitely Muslim!

So, let me introduce Muhajir cuisine to you. And the funny thing is that, most of the dishes will require no introduction at all. ‘Muhajir’ is a word used for migrants or immigrants, in this case, into Pakistan from India post partition. The seat of Muhajir cuisine is Karachi, the city most refugees settled in or had families in – bringing their Indian ladles and palates along with them. These families chose to cling on to their old established habits and tastes, adding a wide variety of snacks, side dishes, and main courses to the Pakistani spread. The Muhajir way of cooking spread far and wide today, is an as distinct and individual personality as the Ghoti (West Bengal) and Bangal (East Bengal) traditions of cooking in West Bengal. I am a proud hybrid by the way – my Mum is a Bangal and Dad a Ghoti. I enjoy the best of both. Another extremely surprising feature of Muhajir cuisine is that, many preparations from the Middle East were brought into Pakistan by the migrants, and certain delicacies that had died out (gone out of fashion) were revived by the prodigal sons.

The Mughal and Indo-Iranian influences have played the pivotal role in shaping Muhajir cuisine, not to forget the Nizami cuisine of Hyderabad, having tastes varying from mild to spicy and often stressing on the importance of aroma. In comparison to native Pakistani dishes which also have Baluchistani influences, Muhajir cuisine tends to use stronger spices and flavors along with more tender treatments of meat. The North-west frontier stresses on meat being slightly tough and chewy, stuffed with filling (often cheese, butter, cream, and nuts), and generally grilled to a slight-less-than-well-done. Muhajir cuisine introduced the concept of ‘galawati’ or melt-in-your-mouth with reference to meat/chicken cooking. ‘Galawati’ of course, has Lucknawi and Awadhi roots. The food of Muhajirs is renowned for its cultural fusion, due to Muhajirs hailing from a number of ethnic backgrounds (Muslims resided in every part of India, not to forget that India had Muslim rulers almost everywhere before the British arrived). As a result, Bengali, Bihari, Lucknawi/Awadhi, and Nizami cuisines collaboratively imposed an influence on the kitchen.

With a little help from various sources online, I could put together a rough idea of the dishes that form an integral part of Pakistan today, and belong to Muhajir cuisine.

Eid specialties like the haleem, nihari, and siri paya travelled over to Pakistan with the migrants, mostly from Hyderabad. I have spoken at length about Hyderabadi haleem in a previous post. The nihari, a popular dish in Pakistan, is prepared the Muhajir way. While the tradition of cooking nihari had existed earlier, the spice combination used today has travelled from Delhi.

The migrants brought in a wide variety of tikkas and kebabs, which went ahead to completely displace the more typical preparations of the region. Boti kebabs and chicken tikkas began finding more takers than the Baluchistani sajji (whole chicken grilled underground). Lamb and chicken tikkas, sheekh and reshmi kebabs were being prepared using Muhajir recipes – the ‘galawati’ style obviously being a new found guiding light for the chefs of the region. Interesting kebab varieties like the Bihari kebab (which has vanished from Indian menus) are extremely popular in Pakistan even today. The bun kebab is nothing more than the humble sheekh-pao of Mumbai – another piece of Md. Ali road-Vakola-Byculla staying alive in the heart of Pakistan.

Read this from Hassan Sharique Altamash’s blog:

Growing up in a small town in Bihar and then travelling to different corners of India, I realized that the special kebab was limited to my home state of Bihar. The tasty kebab is not popular elsewhere. I got a chance to come to United States. And to my surprise, many of the desi restaurants were offering a special cuisine called Bihari Kebab. The Bihari Kebabs are famous in USA, but not in India.

Doing some more research, I found out that these kebabs are famous in Pakistan. As these kebabs were brought to Pakistan by the immigrant Biharis, it became known as the Bihari Kebab. And most of the Pakistani restaurants in the United States offer these kebabs. In the US, there is even a restaurant called Bihari Kebab in Ontario!

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Kadhai chicken, dal gosht (called dalcha in Pakistan), murgh musallam, kofta and qorma preparations, stuffed parathas, kulchas, and roomali rotis form the basis of Muhajir cuisine in Pakistan. Rice preparations are akin to Hyderabadi and Awadhi biryani and pulao. The rezala and pasinda preparations travelled all the way from Awadh and Amritsar.  Here are three kinds of breads that are rarely found in India these days but are still extremely popular in Pakistan:

Bakarkhani Roti – Bakarkhani is made by kneading together flour, ghee, cardamom, sugar, and salt with water. The dough is then flattened. The bread is made by stretching a sheet of dough repeatedly and interleaving with ghee, molasses, saffron water, and poppy seeds before baking on a tandoor. It finds its origins in today’s Bangladesh.

Taftan – Similar to Bakarkhani but avoids the sugar content. Origins lie in Uttar Pradesh.

Sheermal – A variation of the Taftan in which the dough is kneaded with milk instead of water. Sheermal finds its roots in Lucknow and Hyderabad.

Quirky fish recipes also travelled to Pakistan. The most surprising import was the shawarma, an Arab snack, which first came to India and then trickled into Pakistan. The homely Gujarati kadhi is another surprise. Pakistani variations supposedly have fish and egg in them and are served with naan!

Most of the dessert and snack items have travelled to Pakistan with the Muhajirs. The humble samosa and chaats and kachoris owe their allegiance to the narrow Delhi alleys. The dosa…well, where on earth will you not find a dosa?

I will not get into whether the partition was necessary or not. Neither will I break into a rant about loving Musalmans and the disgusting Hindu fundamentalism and minority politics reigning in this country today. I will only say this – For the common Indian, the way to our hearts is through a hearty meal. So remember, the next time you think of saying anything anti-Pakistan at your dinner table, one man in Karachi is eating the same meal that you do. His wife cooks the same dinner with the same amount of love and attention as yours. His children protest on seeing their veggies just like yours do.

Dal-roti-chawal is beyond religion, borders, and bank balances. This Eid, celebrate food.

Eid Mubarak to you and your family!

From,

The Lazy Critic

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Photo courtesy: Google images

Lazy Shorts: An Adam Sandler Disaster and the Longest Google Ad

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Grown Ups 2

The film opens with a wild stag going on a hit-and-pee on every member in Adam Sandler’s family (just back in Connecticut from Hollywood, gearing up for the last day of school. Old friends catch up. Disaster ensues. Salma Hayek squeezes her boobs together for an even deeper rack show. That’s all folks!) and ends with a fight which features the whole cast. The grown ups engage in intelligent conversations and healthy outdoor activity (which include rolling on streets in a tyre, burpsnarting, and skinny dipping) while the women hover around gay fitness instructors, looking pretty. There is puke and pee (human and stag) and poop and farts and burps and black jokes and whatnots.

It is a disgusting and puke-inducing waste of time. Don’t watch it. I am here to give you good advice. Take it. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

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The Internship

I thought this film would be fun (two out-of-job mid-aged salesmen enroll themselves for a summer internship programme as nooglers with Google. Generation and gizmo gap with the youngsters. Finally wisdom and experience shines the brightest), but it was one big fat bore fest. A good film on paper – yawn on screen. Imagine this: Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn could not make me laugh. That is how bad the film is.

Also, Google – you really need this long an ad to say that you are bloody-frickin’-awesome? Tsk tsk, I thought you were cooler.

 

These two films add two words to our vocabulary though:

  1. Burpsnarting – When you burp, sneeze, and fart one after the other. A very difficult art of bodily gaseous emissions I have been told.
  2. Nooglers – Those who work at Google are called ‘Googlers’. New Googlers are Nooglers.

 

So bloody creative, ain’t it?

Diary Of A Journalist: Mira In The 70s

I stumbled upon this blog randomly yesterday and was pleasantly surprised by the treasure trove of anecdotes and snippets it carries from the 70s and 80s. The author, I reckon, was a journalist and activist back then, and I must say that she was quite the firebrand. Mirra’s blog includes details of India’s first sex survey, a feature on cabaret girls in the 70s, a feminist protest against a Rajesh Khanna film, her article on Rape laws in Blitz – everything reeking of retro, stylish, and that languid-cool quotient those years had. While the writing might not be top notch, I definitely enjoyed shuffling through her memories. The post I am including, in true Lazy Critic spirit, talks of the first youth festival of India – often referred to as the ‘Indian Woodstock’ by that generation. I searched through Flickr for some relevant photographs and also found a review of the best albums produced back then! The facet of India that this article and photographs show is surprisingly much more ‘modern’ than what we see around us today.

So here goes: My toast to a Lazy Critic from decades back! Mirra, I have been trying hard to reach you but in vain. If you or any of your friends and family come across this blog, let’s connect.

Note: I have reproduced the article from Mirra’s blog with minor proof-reading only. Almost no grammatical changes have been made. No factual changes have been made either. Quotes and statements are as in original.

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The Sneha Yatra Youth Festival (Malavli) – The Indian Woodstock, 1971

It was the cold night breeze, the mountains all around, the green living trees, the feel of the earth and grass beneath cement weary feet. Like Dylan sings, ‘because the wind is high it blows my mind.’ And the wind was blowing even higher, even cooler, cleaner, and stronger at the Sneha Yatra at Malavli, the three-day youth festival that everyone had been waiting for.

Anyone who came looking for a Woodstock, a rock-beat whack-out and a pseudo imitation of the West were most disappointed. It was simply the first time in India that youth – mainly from Bombay, Poona, Delhi, Goa, Calcutta, Madras, Bangalore, Nagpur, Surat, and Hyderabad came together for the three-day youth festival at Sneha Yatra, Malavli – 80 miles into the Ghats from Bombay. They came mainly for the atmosphere – three days to be just what you feel like with thousands others like yourself. To be among 2,000 people of your own age is quite an experience.

It was holiday time and so everybody – working people and students – could make it there. It was the time for festivals – Diwali of lights, New Year of happiness, Bhai Tikka for brothers, and Ramzan Eid to start eating regularly again.  Ramzan Eid – especially famous for the moon that night, an iota of a silver lining in a semi-circle curve.  Everyone knew – it was just in the air – that it was a time to feel together.

Surprisingly, there were many girls, about 1,000 out of a total of 4,000 that came at some time or the other to Malavli. There was Anita, in bell bottoms who came blazing in behind a zooped up motorbike; there was a teacher of social work with three students, who had come to sleep on a blanket under a zillion stars.

The guys present were of all shapes and kinds – straight, squares, intellectuals, pseudos, movie makers, writers, advertising men  (unavoidable), engineers, school dropouts, music bugs, and radicals. Foreigners were present in a larger dose than usual – for once, it was them adding colour and spice to a purely local happening.

Yes, there was music, music of all kinds, to immerse yourself, to forget oneself, to feel together.

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First, the unforgettable cold. The days were warm, what with the sun out. At 5.30, the sun started its daily trip down behind the mountains, blazing red. With the skies becoming a deep blue and the first wishing star appearing, one started to feel the nip. Out came the sweaters, the blankets, and music was in the air. Twos and threes huddled under blankets to keep themselves warm.

There were the beat-rock-acid groups: Country Funk Revival, Atomic Forest, Twilight Zone and Brief Encounter. More people, Savages (all from Bombay), Windfall, Inventions of Mothers, Odyssey (from Poona), Human Bondage from Delhi (without lead Suresh who was sick), Mara from Bangalore, and High Noon, way up from Calcutta. Impromptu groups also sprang up.

As promised, there were other types of music. Soloists, mainly in the folk style were Ronnie Mistry (who will be on Polydor soon), Sharon Prabhakar (how deep and beautiful she sounded outdoors), Ajit Singh and Remo Fernandez (“Bye Bye Mr. American Pie” was great), Siddharth from Pondicherry, and Ganga Waters.

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And there was the classical Indian music.

It was for the first time since the Delhi JS Musical that classical musicians played in an atmosphere like this. I’m sure the audience had been into classical music at some time or the other, but it was the first time it was being presented to them as part of “the scene.” Sure, there were two or three rowdy groups that shouted and made things embarrassing and annoying. But for most of the people it was the most enjoyable part of the show. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (sarod) with Latif Ahmen on the tabla was the undisputed hits. Latif played a tabla solo, and then Amjad began Malkauns. When he put down his sarod to walk off-stage, there were waves of screams “We want Amjad!” Sighs of relief swept as he came back and got into a Bengali folk song – its galloping rhythm had everyone clapping to one of the most beautiful, lyrical tunes there is. Raga Bhairavi followed as the final touch.

Others in the classical scene were: Mohammad Rashid Khan and Mohammad Sayeed Khan who sang lyrics of Tansen. The lyrics were difficult to understand, but they were wonderful melodies. Panna Mehta played ragas on the guitar, Kumari Mangala (a student of Vilayat Khan) played the sitar, and there was Shri Shekhar (sarod) and Ashok Bellare (santoor) with Uday Raikar accompanying on the tabla. The highlight came when the person next to me could stay still any longer. The jugalbandi (duet) was getting faster and faster. He just had to get up, and start dancing. It was just great.

All musicians, for the love of music and youth, played free. There were discussions during the day, led by Prof. Raman from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Prem Shankar Jha (assistant editor of Times), Kabir Bedi, and Vasant Deshmukh, (a noted Marathi writer). The apathy that exists among us today was a central theme in all discussions. This was not planned, it just happened.

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“It just is, because we don’t care to do something for ourselves.”

“Why not?” Asked Jha.

Kabir was questioning the students, “why don’t you as individuals get involved…do something to change the wrongs that affect your own individual lives?”

The reasons were the usual ones – security, we won’t get jobs, no effect, we will be branded… The most vocal, most angry, most anxious to do something were those who had not been affluent in their lives. The wrongs of the system hit them harder and they were more engaged in the conversation. Editors of the Bombay University paper, ‘The Movement’, suggested that students send letters to them to gather strength around a particular issue, so that they can question the authorities. It is nothing more than a scratch, he said, but it is a start in the direction. Only when we begin to get a sense of identity, a sense of belonging to something that is here and now, a sense of what one is capable of, only then will we begin infusing social responsibility.

Here we were brought together by the music, by the atmosphere of feeling together. It was just a start in the search for an identity.