Thursday, February 20, 2014


So I finally managed to catch up on all my trailer-watching of upcoming Hindi movies, and thought I'd share some that look promising. (No, Gunday is most definitely not part of it. I was put off by the trailer and the overacting that such good actors like Ranveer and Arjun had to do to make the movie more 'gundaydaar' I suppose. And I honestly cannot stand Priyanka Chopra anymore.)

Highway - I fell head over heels in love with Imtiaz Ali after watching Socha Na Tha, which is one of my favourite movies. Then came along Jab We Met and I bowed down to this genius again who actually made Kareena Kapoor likeable to humans. Though Jab We Met was a more 'put-together' movie, there is still something endearing in the raw, unpolished Socha Na Tha, and I still love it to bits. Then came along Love Aaj Kal and I shook my head in disbelief at what a bad movie it was. And then came along Rockstar and I nearly fell off my chair, wondering what had happened to my genius. Then came along Cocktail, which he wrote but did not direct. Another terrible movie. I have to admit I had lost all faith in him till I saw the trailer of Highway. One, the unusual pairing of Randeep Hooda and Alia Bhatt caught my eye, just as Abhay Deol and Ayesha Takia in Socha Na Tha had. Two, I really do like both of them as actors. I have watched the trailer countless times and they really do seem to have gotten under the skin of their respective characters. The music is quite catchy too, and I have been playing it for Xena a lot. Now Viv also knows the songs, but the other day he did ask me a very strange question. "What does she mean 'Tu kuja, mann kuja?'", he asked. "Is the song about scratching?" "Yes," I said, "The song is about scratching. She's asking him to scratch himself and his brain to get an idea." OMG I think he believed me. He just stood there and looked at me, trying to process the nonsense I'd just spouted. Anyway, if you're really interested, 'Tu kuja, mann kuja' is Persian for 'Tu kahan, main kahan' and the song is rather interesting because the lyrics quickly jump from Persian to Hindi to Sanskrit. Another song to look out for is Sooha saaha, where Alia sings a bit. (Did you catch her on Koffee with Karan, where Karan asked her to sing a song and she sang 'Om jai jagdish harey'?? That was hilarious, but she sang really well.) She sounds a bit nasal in Sooha saha, but it's a nice song overall. I really really hope that this movie is at the very least like Socha Na Tha or Jab We Met, if not better. Watch the trailer here.

Queen - I have never been a huge fan of Kangana, but lately she's got me hooked. Did you catch this interview of hers with Anupama Chopra? Truly one of the best Bollywood interviews ever. It's blunt, it's funny, it's warm and it's the truth. And then I saw the trailer of Queen. It seems like an out and out Kangana movie, with Rajkummar Rao thrown in because no other hero would probably want a role in a movie titled 'Queen' with Kangana stealing everyone's thunder. What's with this Rajkummar Rao fella? I always thought he was a sensible guy and quite liked him in everything he's acted in, but the day I read that he's gone and changed his name from Rajkumar Yadav to Rajkummar Rao, I stopped liking him. (Yes, I judge that hard sometimes.) Did he think he'd be mistaken for one of Laloo's 737374648 kids, or did he just want to offend all Biharis (and pseudo-Biharis like me)? He says 'Yadav' is the same as 'Rao' in Haryana. Say what?! And the extra m in his first name just makes me want to scream M for murder! Anyway, enough about him. Watch the Queen trailer here.

Total Siyapaa - Ali Zafar is cute. Ali Zafar can act. Ali Zafar can sing. Yami Gautam is cute. Yami Gautam can act. And I for one am still not tired of Kirron Kher playing the punjabi mummyji for the 838273656732892th time. I'm looking forward to this realistic version of Veer-Zara, and hope it doesn't dash my hopes. I have loved Ali Zafar from the time I saw Tere Bin Laden (if you've not watched it, OMG.) and though I found Mere Brother Ki Dulhan very blah, London, Paris, New York was interesting. Watch the Total Siyapaa trailer here.

Shaadi Ke Side Effects - I'm not so sure about this one, but I sure did enjoy Pyaar ke side effects and the sequel surely has better actors. (Okay, that's three times I've used 'sure' in a sentence.) Recently, I made Viv watch it on YouTube (there's a very good print available here; we actually played it on AppleTV.) and we just laughed and laughed and laughed thorough the movie. In spite of Mallika Sherawat. My favourite dialogue from the movie was the bartender's "Excuse me, sir, ma'am has fallen down." I really really hope that the sequel is at least as funny as the prequel, if not funnier. The trailer is very relatable, especially for new parents who really don't know why their baby wouldn't stop crying, or whether a tauliya really has an ulta side. But I loved Vidya Balan's "Main chahti hoon ki tum chaho ki tum na jao." which is what "Tum jana chahte ho toh jao." really means. Really. Watch the trailer here.

And here are those that didn't make the cut - Gulaab Gang (despite the explosive combination of Juhi and Madhuri together, it didn't interest me; I'm sure it will be hit though... or at least critically acclaimed), Dhishkiyaoon (OMG yes, there's a movie by this name and it's Harman Baweja's comeback movie. SSSK is already jumping and down after her last encounter with him.), Youngistan (Jackky Bhagnani returns... as Rahul Gandhi! Uhhh... Though Neil Bhoopalam killed it as a young PM-to-be in 24, Jackky, like his name, just seems silly.), and Main tera hero (I like Varun Dhawan, but this movie just looks plain bad. And to top it, they took Nargis Fakhri Ugh.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Party pooper

So SSSK has somehow snagged an invitation to the Jai Ho success party. Her eyes are darting sharply from person to person until she spots the Khan-daan. A depressed Salman is drinking in a corner. Sohail and Arbaaz are giving him company. Malaika is standing next to them, looking annoyed.

SSSK - Hi, everyone. I'm SSSK, reporter for the Akh-bar.
Everyone (down and low) - Hiiii....
SSSK - Oh dear, what happened??
Arbaaz - We're mourning the failure of Jai Ho.
SSSK - Failure?? But this is the movie's success party!
Salman (gulps down his drink) - Arre koi samjhaao isko. Success party dete hain toh movie successful hoti hai.
SSSK - I thought movie successful hoti hai toh success party dete hain.
Salman - Sigh. Kis zamaane ki movie reporter ho yaar?
SSSK - But the movie crossed the 100-crore mark. Why would you call it a failure?
Salman - Because, you dhakkan, it did not make 100 crores in the first week. A Salman Khan movie that does not make 100 crores in the first week is a BIG FAT FAILURE. Shah Rukh's Chennai Express was a big hit. Aamir's Dhoom 3 was a bigger hit. I thought I would be the winner of 'Khan banega crorepati'! *sniffles*
Sohail - Sorry, bhai. It's my fault. I should have stuck to the original title 'Mental.' 'Jai Ho' sounds too... Aamir Khan, nahin? All your movies that have single-word English titles are hits. Wanted, Ready, Bodyguard... 'Mental' would have been perfect. And it describes your movies perfectly.
Malaika (mutters under her breath) - Sigh... What a family my hubby has. One brother is senti, and the other is mental.
Arbaaz - Well, if you'd agreed to do another Munni number in Jai Ho, maybe it would have been a bigger hit!
Malaika - Achha?? Why me?? Go to Bebo na! Ask her to do another Fevicol number. Hmmmph!
Arbaaz - You're still mad about that??
Malaika - Hmmmmph!
Salman - Stop fighting, yaar. It's nobody's fault, just mine. I shouldn't have promoted it as a 'different' movie...
SSSK - That's true, Salman. No one wants to watch a 'different' Salman movie.
Salman - And you know what the biggest tragedy is?? It's not different! It is a typical Salman movie. *bangs head on table*
SSSK - It's ok, Salman. You still have lots of movies coming up...
Sohail - Actually the next one is called 'Kick'. Single-word English title! Yahooooo! Kick kick kick!
Salman (drunk and furious) - Come, let me give you one!

Sohail runs. On his heels is Salman. On his heels is Arbaaz. On his heels is Malaika.

SSSK walks around, and suddenly spots Katrina.
SSSK - Katrina! Hiiii!
Katrina - Errr... Hi... And you are?
SSSK - I'm SSSK. We've met before, remember? At the 'Firangiyon, Hindi Seekho' competition?
Katrina (proudly) - Oh yeah, I won that one.
SSSK - So how are things?
Katrina - Great. Doom was a big hit so... life's good.
SSSK (explodes) - Doom?? DOOM???? You won that competition, you've been in the Hindi film industry for more than a decade and you still can't pronounce "DHOOM"???
Katrina (gulps) - Uhhhhhh... Sorry... I know it's 'DOOM'. Better?
SSSK - Sigh... From Boom to Doom. Bollywood is doomed all right. How did they sign you when you can't even pronounce the name of the movie right??
Katrina (bursts into tears) - I begged them, okay?? I just wanted to get all three Khans on my resume before they... you know....
Uday Chopra walks over.
Uday - Katrina! any problem?
Katrina flees, sobbing. Uday looks at SSSK, puzzled.
SSSK - We were just talking about Dhoom 3.
Aditya Chopra and Rani Mukherjee walk over to defend their khandaan ka chirag.
SSSK - So Uday, is the Dhoom series all you do? Not getting any other offers, huh?
Uday - Uhh... Err... I'm getting tons of offers, okay? But I reject them all. I'm very focused, you see. I don't want to dilute the success of my Dhoom brand...
SSSK (bursts into hysterical laughter) - You think you stand for the success of the Dhoom brand??
Uday - Why, yes! Of course!
SSSK (to Rani Mukherji) - Didi... Tera devar deewana.

The Chopra clan leaves, seething.

SSSK spots Priyanka Chopra.
SSSK - Priyanka! How are you??
Priyanka - Who are you??
SSSK - Ummm... I'm SSSK, reporter for the Akh-bar. I have a few questions for you.
Priyanka - Errr okayyy...
SSSK - I listened to your album "I'm feeling so idiotic." It's nice.
Priyanka (coldly) - It's "I'm feeling so exotic."
SSSK - Oh yes yes, exotic! But I did want to ask you how "exotic" rhymes with "tropics".
Priyanka - ....
SSSK - I mean, I can think of so many words that would have rhymed better with "exotic".
Priyanka - Oh yeah?? Like??
SSSK - Neurotic, psychotic, idiotic, chaotic, robotic, narcotic, antibiotic...
Priyanka - Ok ok fine. Bas karo! Please.
SSSK - Ok, never mind. Let's talk about something else. What do you feel about your cousin sister Parineeti? Do you think she will surpass your success?
Priyanka bursts into tears. Karisma, who's standing nearby, nods her head sympathetically.
Karisma - I understand, Priyanka. Yeh chhoti behnen...
SSSK - Karisma! Just the person I was thinking of! What do you think of Virat Kohli?
Karisma - Virat Kohli?? Why??!!
SSSK - I think you should date him.
Karisma - *You* think I should date him?? Pray why??
SSSK - Then the circle of love will be complete.
Karisma - Circle of love?! Huh??
SSSK - See, the circle goes like this. Karisma has dated Abhishek who has dated Aishwarya who has dated Salman who has dated Katrina who has dated Ranbir who has dated Deepika who has dated Ranveer who has dated Anushka who has dated Virat Kohli. So if you date Virat Kohli, the circle would be complete!
Karisma (speechless for a moment) - Were you actually invited to this party??

SSSK storms off, deeply offended.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Bright and early

So last week I had an early-morning meeting for a potential project. Okay, the meeting was not really that early in the morning, but it was in a land far far away, also known as 'the other end of the island'. I had to get up at 6 am to make it. "So what?" I hear many of you say, "I get up at 5 am every day. Including weekends." I have only one thing to say to you guys. Please make a single file and leave the bar. Ok bye. Jokes aside, I am actually not a not-morning person. Ok, that sounded confusing. I mean, I am a morning person. I don't mind an early start to the day. But by early, I mean get-up-at-7-am kind of early, and not Akshay Kumar's 'If you want me on the Koffee couch, we'll need to shoot at 6 am.' statement to KJ. Anyway, let's get back to the original topic because if I get started on Koffee with Karan, shutting me up will take a few hours.

Since I started working from home, I have stopped setting a wake-up alarm, and started relying on a very different kind of alarm clock - Xena. She's up, we're up. Because there is no alternative. If she's up and we're not, she'll do three reps of TT (toddler tandav) accompanied by four verses of "Good morning ho gaya! Wake up ho jao!" till we wake up. And since she wakes up around 7ish every morning, it works well for me. I work till about 11 pm after she's gone to sleep and manage to get my 8 hours of duty sleep.

So when I had to set at alarm for 6 am for this meeting, it was a sudden and big deal. To get ready and leave the house before Xena and Viv even woke up felt strange. I left all sorts of post-its with tips for him to get her ready for school. (Usually he's in charge of brushing her teeth and shovelling breakfast down her unwilling throat, while I get her, her bag, her snackbox and our breakfast ready). The toughest job for him that morning must have been her hair. Her tropical rainforest hair, to be precise, inherited directly from her mommy. Anyway, I left father and daughter to deal with things and quietly made my way out.

It was a loooong 2-hour journey, involving two buses and a train, and since I don't own a smartphone (by choice), I had plenty of time to reflect and people-watch. Something that I usually don't get time for. And as I watched all the half-sleepy people around me, I was reminded of the time before Xena when I was also a part of this corporate crowd, getting up early, running after the bus in my high heels trying to get the driver's attention, rushing to work, trying to look alert and professional in a super-early-morning videoconference when there was little stopping me from doing an auto-headdesk.

Another phase of my life when I had to wake up really early was when I decided to do a part-time Master's degree in a university which was, again, on the other side of the island. Far away from my home and far away from my workplace. Great. This is what I had done to my life. And it was very very hard to survive on such little sleep. I think that was partly what made me finish it in the not-recommended-at-all three semesters. I just wanted to get it over and done with so I could finally catch some sleep.

The last phase I could think of when early starts were a prerequisite were my school days. 1996-1998 in particular, when my dad was transferred to a tiny place I can only refer to as not a city, not a town, but maybe a... settlement? The local schools ended at Std X. If you wanted to study more, you had to go to the neighbouring settlement. The school bus picked me up at 5:45 am, so I had to wake up at 5 am and get ready. Because if you missed that bus, you pretty much missed school. And this nerd LOVED school. I loved it so much that I can't even remember finding the 5 am wakings-up a torture. The thrill of school and meeting friends and impressing teachers overpowered everything else. But I have to give my dad credit here who had a very strict rule - lights out at 9 pm and no exceptions. And I think that's probably what made the waking up at 5 am easier. I hope I can apply his rule successfully to Xena when she grows up and protests at her current bedtime of 8:30 pm.

The bus ride to school used to be about 2 hours long, and it was fantastic. The bus was completely dilapidated, and it rattled and jumped for most of the trip. But my friends were in there, and my best friend (why don't we have those anymore?) who got on the bus before me used to save me a seat, and we used to play antakshari (till the fateful day when some of the guys in our class threw coins at us as a joke and we didn't talk to them for a week and they had to literally come and beg us not to do that). The bus used to go through a jungle, and there was even a tribal kid who used to board the bus from a tiny hut in the jungle. I realised I had very very happy memories of the morning bus ride, and I barely remembered the waking-up-at-5-am part.

So I started thinking - what is it that makes early starts during school days seem not so bad, but a real torture when we grow up? Is it because we screw up our lifestyles so bad as adults that whatever little sleep we get becomes our life-support, and when we don't get it, we snap? Is it because in the race for other things, the most important ones get sacrificed first -- sleep, water, breakfast, etc.?

Being adult is no fun. Almost all of us have more fun and fonder memories of our childhood than our adulthood. But does that hold true anymore? Even childhood these days doesn't seem as carefree and bindaas as it used to be. Singapore is a stressful place for kids once they start going to school proper. The first national level exams, the much-dreaded PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination), are held when the kids are barely 12. And these exams will pretty much determine what they become in life. I think most of my childhood was spent up on a tree, and the first time I ever got serious about studies was for the Std X (O level) exams. That's when we were expected to stop being 'children' and 'grow up' and 'prove ourselves'. I try and imagine Xena as a 12-year-old studying seriously for the PSLE and it breaks my heart a little bit.

So here's my little wish for her. I hope she has as close a childhood to what I had, and even with the pressures and early starts, truly has a very very good time at school.