The Dark Knight Cometh…

Lots been on my mind past couple of days so haven't had the time to put down a few lines. But I felt I had to write something about the movie that is for me is THE blockbuster of the first half of ’08. I’d seen the movie on release day (18th July) itself and actually wanted to write about it right after I got home but held off keeping in mind there were many more fans of The Detective (yeah baby old school – if you’re a DC comics fan you’ll understand why I’m calling him that). And aside from my 2 readers, I didn’t want to upset anyone who hadn't caught the movie yet and possibly stumbled onto my cyber scribble page. I think almost everyone who is a fan has seen the movie within the week of release.

As a kid, my favorite superhero was Spidey – probably a lot to do with those cartoons that they used to show on Doordarshan. It was only much later when I started reading DC and Marvel comics, that I gained a deeper appreciation for the wise-cracking superhero that he is. Yeah wise-cracking! I really liked the first installment but by the third, the character had turned into a pussy. In that lag period of my childhood between superheroes I came across Batman. I don’t know why but I almost immediately liked (and for some reason) identified with the character. No! My parents weren't killed while we were returning from the theatre one evening.
Often movies tend to gloss over Superheroes especially those with a darker element to them. But not Chris Nolan. He knew exactly the way this character needed to be portrayed and boy, was this film ever so dark. Heath Ledger was outstanding in his role as The Joker. He truly captured the essence of the character – a psychotic madman who’s only motive was carnage and chaos. I’d read somewhere that he’d locked himself up in a hotel room for a month to get into the skin of the character.

Perhaps that’s why the villains in Batman were scarier than most. Base motivations like money aside, all the devastation they’d plot was only to create and instill that horrific sense of fear amongst the public at large. In some cases, the motive was almost noble – like Ra’s Al Ghul, an Eco-terrorist wanting to obliterate everyone on earth so he could create an environmentally perfect world.

Few things in this world are more painful than enduring the loss of your child but perhaps when the Ledger family sees Heath in all his glory playing one of the ultimate villains of comic-lore, they may feel heartened just a little that while their son has gone, he will never be forgotten. A memorable legacy befitting a fine performance.

I’ve put down some of my fave quotes from the movie:-

  • I use a knife because guns are too quick. Otherwise, you can't savor all the emotions. You know who people are in their last moments…
  • This town deserves a better class of criminal... and I'm gonna give it to them. Tell your men they work for me now. This is MY city.
  • Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen, We're tonight's entertainment!!!
  • You remind me of my father, I hated my father.
  • Some men are not trying to be logical. They can't be bought, bullied or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
  • Either you die a Hero.... or u live long enough to see yourself turn into a Villain...
  • See, to them you're just a freak....like me....
  • Whatever that doesn't kill you will only make you stranger. (one of my faves too. Thanx for the reminder Shutterbug)
  • Why so serious...??!!


Heath “The Joker” Ledger


Of Pune... the rains and good singers

Got back after spending the weekend at S's place on the outskirts of Pune. Its been a while since we'd gone there in the rains. You keep reading about how sweet the earth smells after it rains. This is one of two places (the other being Kerala) where I have experienced this. As I stepped out of the car, that fresh delightful mixture of gorgeous scents - the rain, the earth and the grass just assailed my senses. Heady. if I could bottle the damn thing, I'd be so rolling in the green!

Rant section - Finally!! The guys in charge of the Bombay-Pune expressway have done something right. They've got the pricing rounded off on the expressway toll. On the various trips I've taken to Pune via the expressway, the one thing that always got my goat were some of the signs put up at the toll nakas. I mean, why do you charge an absurd figure like Rs.118 or Rs.127 and then put up signs like "Coin Problem - Please tender exact change". Make it 120 or 130... any even number and then keep the relevant amount of change with you. A few bucks is hardly going to matter to people. Just save them the headache of having to rummage around in their bags, purses or dashboards. (Fyi the toll's 140/- but the annoying sign is there!)

My second rant has to do with the sheer dearth of good (maybe the word I'm looking for is honest) programming we have on Indian television. There we were chilling out and the plan was to imbibe a few glasses of white spirit and take in some entertainment on the idjit box. Specifically SaReGaMaPa on Zee TV. We were also switching between commercials to STAR Plus where the finale of Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar was going on. SaReGaMa is an eye-opener to the singing talent we have in this country. Wow! What fantastic singers. There was this Surd kid no more than 18 (looked like he was 15 tho) who had such a superb and mature singing voice. Again Wow! And the episode we were watching was the one where someone would be eliminated from the leftovers who didn't make it to the 2nd round in their first attempt the previous week. After hearing some of these voices it was hard to believe they didn't make it through the first time around.

On the other hand, Jo Jeeta... was a huge disappointment. Not in terms of the singing quality (they had Abhijeet Sawant & Rahul Vaidya in the final three), not in the matter of Mandira "look-into-my-cleavage" Bedi shouting herself hoarse while calling out the title sponsor of the show every 17.3 seconds. My main gripe - it wasn't live!!! I thought this was supposed to be a singing contest. How the hell can you lip-sync in a competition?!?!? I'm 99.99% certain that the singers did the original takes in a studio and this was what's played during the television airing of the event. They may or may not have sung live during the show but after which it was definitely overlayed with the studio takes. Now I fancy myself to have a voice and so I like to sing every so often (The beast often manifests itself during drunken karaoke). What I like just as much is to hear good singers sing live. Which is provided in spades by SaReGaMa (could do with a little less of the melodrama by the judges but thats forgivable. TRPs and all that - trust me I'm in the business) but I feel duped when I see shows like JJWS. At the end of it all, Rahul Vaidya won it. But did he actually?? I'm not denying his talent. I mean this is the guy of whom Sonu Nigam said during Indian Idol Part Un, "It's a good thing you didn't start playback earlier else I would be hard up for work". But there has to be a shadow of a doubt (at least for me) on whether his performance was the better one of the two. how can anyone prove that it was he who actually deserved it?

The pressure of singing live, the audience around you, the necessity to hit every single note the way it should be and to add "feel" to it all CANNOT be done while prancing around with the other contestants/judges/hosts/guests etc. As they hit those magical goose bumpy notes in their songs, a couple of the SaReGaMa singers looked like they were about sh*t their pants. That's the kind of intensity you need to possess while delivering one of those standing ovation type of performances. It sucks that a regular singing show has been turned into a soap of sorts.


Jaan gaye...

So I watched Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na over the weekend and all I can say is Imraan Khan is a very lucky young man. To have Aamir Khan as the guy who’s in charge of Mission Launch must be heartening at the very least.
It also helps that Imraan has decent acting chops. A great launch pad is worth squat if you have no skill/talent to back it up. He’s here to stay and if he’s smart about his projects, like his uncle, he will do extremely well in the industry. Genelia (for some reason I keep imagining her name to be genitalia and giggle… I’m a sick man) is a bright spark amongst the newer crop of actresses I’ve seen thus far. There is something quite fresh about her. I can’t quite put my finger on it but girl’s got spunk. She does however need to improve her diction if she intends to do mature roles in the future.

Ratna Pathak Shah – Just one word, Classy. The two brothers in the movie were pretty good in their parts which begs the question – why the f*%# don’t they act just as well in their solo projects?!?! Another thing that I really liked were the fresh faces and talents which made up the friends circle of the leads. Prateik Babbar was good in his role as the girl’s angst-ridden lonely artist brother. One of the best lines in the movie (the chooha wala – “No, we’re just friends”) comes from him. It took me a whole second to register the quip because I’m just not used to hearing that kind of dialogue in a Hindi movie. Good stuff.
There were a few clichéd moments in the film which I’m not sure were necessary. But like my friend Sam says, its all about establishing the character/s.
Overall a pretty good directorial debut but Abbas Tyrewala’s problem will be his next few movies. His writing talent was pretty obvious after watching Munnabhai, Main Hoon Na etc. Now he’s kinda raised the bar with this film and will need to come through bigger and better in his next effort.

On a side note – while I haven’t seen it (and have no intention to), Lovestory 2050 has been ripped to shreds by all critics. Having become friends with an upcoming actor in the recent past, I feel for the newer lot because that one Friday pretty much determines your fate in this industry. Apparently two years of work have gone into Lovestory 2050. All of it to be flushed down the toilet come release day. Of course there is no excuse if the final product is just plain bad but there is still hope for the individual actor. Case (or rather two cases) in point – Ajay Devgan and Saif Ali Khan. I can still remember that awful day when I sat there watching Veeru Devgan’s lil boy in the opening shot of the movie, zooming into the college doing a full-split astride two motorbikes. I believe I’d busted a rib that day laughing as hard as I did. And Saif Ali Khan who I thought was the gayest dude back in the day (the day being a Saturday sometime in 1993… damn! Was that 15 years ago?! Ugh I’m old). I mean not only was this guy effeminate but he sounded like someone yanked his voicebox back as he was about to hit puberty. Both these gentlemen did some fairly ordinary and some downright dreadful “films” but persistance and hard work have made them into two of the most saleable stars of today. RGV ki Aag and Race fall into the Those-we-shall-not-speak-of bracket.

Finally, AR Rahman is a freak! How does one guy keep doing this film after film?!?!! I’m a big fan of his music but over the years, there’s this perverse side of me that wants to hear him make something baaaad (I know I know… my brain is circuited in a weird way). But the genius of the man is that he continues to disappoint that side of me every time. He’s got this ability to capture the right moods and pick the right voices for any song (including his own).

To quote Wayne & Garth, “We’re not worthy!!”


Can also can, cannot also can lah!

Got back from Singapore a few days back. An impromptu trip courtesy of a friend who for some reason keeps getting tip offs on great flight fares. MK – you da man!!
First off, let me say that I wish I was born with a big blingy silver spoon. I always get struck by the need to feel the Bill-Gates-type-of-super-rich whenever I’m flying. One of my biggest peeves is walking thru Business/First Class to get to my seat. Why Pete why, you ask good reader? Coz I see the absolute comfort that these passengers are going to spend the next 5-6 hours in versus my own sad sad seat in Economy, and then I just feel like hitting someone.
See, this is a bit extreme for me, I normally wouldn’t feel like such violence. However things changed a few weeks back. I’d gone for a friend’s wedding to Dubai earlier last month. On my return trip, I was upgraded to Business Class. *sigh* Now I know what people are talking about… The seats have so much more room. My quite substantial ass was actually comfortable. The food comes in courses!! Not to mention the stewardesses (the nice looking non-Air India-aunty types) who are at your beck and call (“Extra pillow? Sure sir… More champagne, Mr. Fayth?! Comin’ right up… Blowjob? Would that be with or without the humming sir?”).

Anyway back to Singapore – its only when you go to cities (or countries in this case) like this, that you realize what a sh*thole of a city Bombay has become. Don’t get me wrong, I like my city but over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve just become used to it. If I could move to another city, and along with my clothes, pack my family and friends too, I’d be out of here in a heartbeat. In the words of the poet Atif, “Ab toh aadat si hain mujhko aise jeeney mein…"
Loved the infrastructure in Singapore. The public transportation system alone would tempt me into moving there. Imagine the same card S$15 card that enables travel in their buses and the MRT, will also feed you in case you’re hungry. That’s right! You can use the card to buy burgers at McDonalds.

The no-smoking-in-public-places thing takes some getting used to though… I especially can’t understand how you can enforce a blanket rule like that in bars and clubs. I mean come on! These are places where people come to unwind, have a drink or two or ten, be social, sing/dance a bit and generally have a good time. For smokers, its all of that along with some nicotine thrown into the mix. Now I’m quite aware that the non-smoking reader would get a bit ticked off by this. After all aren’t we messing with their health not to mention our own?? First off let me say smokers are pretty accommodating people. We know that we’re this niche, vile, will-rot-in-hell type crowd that will never find acceptance with the rest of the non-smoking world. We don’t want acceptance… just tolerance. And it doesn’t have to be at the cost of YOUR health. Just keep an area aside from the main club/bar area where we can sneak off to, have our fix and be back to enjoy the fun. Its ridiculous that we were partying at this bar located on the 71st floor of the hotel and if I wanted to catch a few drags, I’d have to go all the way to the 68th floor. Reverse discriminators!!
And before anyone can say it, we KNOW its bad for us but we do it anyway. Get a frickin’ hint – it’s a matter of choice. Its kinda similar to the whole veg vs. non-veg thing. I mean do I discriminate against my vegetarian friends?!? Sure I make fun of these people whose unfortunate taste buds will never know the joy of biting into that nice juicy piece of steak. And while they might not know what they’re missing out on but its not like I’m throwing raw animal carcasses into their faces or anything right?!

When I heard it was a "smoking room", my mind conjured up images of those chic Auschwitz-style gas chambers that you find at most movie theatres in Bombay. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that it was not. Met a few interesting people with whom some more bitching happened about the whole “Clubs & Bars are not fair to smokers” topic. Sitting across to my right was this Asian woman with a Nordic looking chap. She was smoker, he was not. He was just there to give her company AND was sympathetic to our nicotine related issues too. The cynic in me thought he’s just doing that to score with her. On the other hand, some of these firangs are a bit nutty so I gave him the benefit of doubt. Of course, the fact that he was at least 4 inches taller than me and built like a tank didn’t in any way influence me.
Also met this sweet lookin’ lass from Glasgow. We got talking and in the tradition of its-a-small-world-after-all, I came to know that she stayed in Bombay (and that too Bandra) for a while a few years ago. We had a pleasant chat about her time in Bombay, living near Shahrukh Khan’s house and rickshaw drivers shouting Mere Bhagwan (although it sounded more like Merry Bagvan from her lips :). She was kind enough to wait for me till I was done and as we walked upstairs, half my mind was caught up in how these firangs are so comfortable striking up a conversation with rank strangers. We parted ways close to where my party was sitting. We said our goodbyes as she hugged me and lightly pecked me on the cheek. Now I turn towards my table as she walks away, and in that dim light of the club I can see the shoulders shaking and hear giggles and snickers coming through from my mates.
Oh well... some people just have no class :D

After the party broke up an hour or so later, I headed off to catch a game of poker; degenerate addict that I am. I’d hooked up with this group on the internet some days before I left Bombay. Bought into the game for S$100 and away we went. Tried to stick to my regular tight aggressive style and although I took a hit in first few hands (lost about 40% of my chips) I managed to recover and make some money as well (cashed out with S$185 after tips). These guys were pretty hardcore gamblers. Prop bets and side bets were happening all over the place. They were running flops twice and thrice just like you see on High Stakes Poker. We also played a variant called Crazy Pineapple which I’ve never played before in all my poker playing years. Was a lot of fun playing a cash game even though I’m primarily a tournament player. I am hoping to go back to Singapore at the end of the year and I will definitely trying meeting up with these guys again. They were so different from my regular group which was something I found very refreshing. More degenerates like myself :D
Staggered home at 6am after having played for a little over four hours and my hosts had very kindly laid out my bed onto which I gratefully sank.

The final day of any vacation for me is always filled with mixed feelings. I had a great time in this place and I wished I could have stayed for more. On the other hand, I get back to home and various comforts, family and friends. MK was telling me she sometimes gets homesick on vacations. I never do coz I know I’m going back in whatever number of days soon enough.
We reached Changi airport around 5:30pm for our 7:10pm departure. Here’s just another reason why I LOVE Changi. Also probably why its been voted World’s Best Airport two years running. In Bombay, from entering the airport till reaching the departure lounge/duty free area took about 2 hours. In Changi – 25 minutes!!! Doesn’t get any better than that.

Did the usual booze, smokes and chocolate shopping for the folks back home. Had a decent flight back and then we landed at Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport for the nightmare to begin all over again. Baggage claim took over an hour… rude cabbie wants to go the destination his way and if we want to take a detour its going to cost us another 100 bux. It starts to rain…
Aaah Mumbai, I missed thee.
Can't wait till the end of the year.

Dāi Huǐ Er Jiàn.