Saturday, August 19, 2006

A letter to Karan Johar

Hi there KJ,

Last night I finally saw your latest directorial venture Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. You were so secretive about the plot line. There were rumors floating around that it’s a remake of Silsila; someone said it’s a desi version of Closer. Of course, it wasn’t…why, its just a bad copy Falling In Love (1984) starring Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep. Now Falling In Love was such a lovely film, sweet and sentimental, packed with powerful performances not only by De Niro and Streep, but wonderful character artistes like Harvey Keitel, Dianne Wiest and Jane Kaczmarek (of Malcolm in the Middle fame). Unfortunately the movie went largely unnoticed when it was made, but watching it now, one gets a glimpse of the amazing talents both De Niro and Streep, before they started selling out to uninspiring, sleep-walking roles in mundane films. Their ability to get under the skin of the characters is incredible... so much is communicated between them in so few words! Falling In Love does not make light of the subject matter of having an affair but instead is a film about finding love itself. In keeping with that theme, the romantic feelings of the two leads are never allowed to reach their natural conclusion.

While watching Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, I was cringing every two minutes. How on earth did you manage to completely massacre the beautiful screenplay of Falling In Love and fill it with so much of inane crap? While Frank (Robert De Niro) and Molly (Meryl Streep) in Falling In Love were people caught in a predicament who you genuinely liked and rooted for, KANK’s Dev (SRK) and Maya (Rani Mukherjee) turned out to be these two obtuse, selfish and insensitive characters you feel like shaking really hard so that they snap out of their senselessness! Not only does one not feel any sympathy for these two for being trapped in their so-called “loveless” marriages, but actually start wishing that their spouses come to about their sordid affair and dump them like hot potatoes so that the movie can come to an end!

I read somewhere that you cannot even think of making a movie without SRK, Kajol and Rani. Your loyalty towards your friends is undoubtedly very touching...but can you please, please, pleeeease ask SRK to stop hamming! Poor Rani Mukherjee tried her level best to rise above the stupid character you wrote for her, but bogged down by the endless bottles of glycerin she put in eyes to generate gallons of fake tears and the hideous bustiers she wore, she couldn’t really salvage the one-dimensional Maya! And may be you can suggest to your other best friend Farah Khan to watch more MTV…her dance moves haven’t changed much in the last decade and a half!

I understand your indomitable urge to make films with a large star-cast, but then choose your “inspiration” films wisely. This movie required great character artistes, not stars in supporting roles. To give these stars screen time, you stretched the story beyond its comfort level and made it into this mammoth song and dance affair interspersed with silly comedy and tasteless digs at homosexuality!

But I’m glad that you finally gave Baby B his due. After all he did tell you that “he’d do ANYTHING” when he dropped by to have "koffee" with you. Hmmmm…wonder what you made him do for Rishi’s role?! What ever it is, I’m glad Baby B is a part of this otherwise sorry tale…watching him interact with the Big B as “Sexy Sam” so effortlessly was a treat! He’s definitely a natural…his portrayal of flamboyant but overall nice guy Rishi is so convincing that you want Maya to get out of his life because he definitely deserves better! There’ll be a serious tug of war at the award ceremonies this year between Baby B and Saif Ali Khan (Ishwar “langda” Tyagi in Omkara) for the Best Supporting Actor category, unless they give Chhote Nawab the Best Villain award!

You started the movie by portraying Preity Zinta’s Rhea as this cool, calculating, corporate ladder climbing bitch. Then you had a change of heart and made her a successful career woman (sweet nonetheless) fighting for her marriage. Then again you changed track and made her into a strong no-nonsense woman towards the climax. I guess hers was the only believable character in the whole movie. And please complement her for her sense of style, even though I personally don’t agree showing that much cleavage at work place!

BTW, why did you choose to set the movie in New York instead of Mumbai, may I ask? Is it because the upper class people in Mumbai don’t travel by local train? And your romantic couple might look incongruous standing outside Churchgate Station wearing designer garb from Manish Malhotra’s boutique? Or having cutting-chai from foothpath stalls instead of high-end Manhattan cafés serving over-priced latte? Or is it because the inspiration film was also set in New York? Anyway, I’m not complaining about your choice of locations… I love New York and your cinematographer did do a great job capturing the beauty of this fabulous city.

Just for your information dear KJ, the game that everyone in KANK kept calling football is called S-O-C-C-E-R in America. Since your characters were so obviously New Yorkers, this bit of a glitch was quite glaring!

Well, you did push the Hindi cinema envelope a bit. Goody-two-shoes characters of your previous ventures are now either black or white…I wish you had experimented a bit with grey too. Anyway, you get an E for effort from my side. But do remember next time you feel like Indianizing The Deer Hunter, SRK and Rani Mukherjee ain’t no Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep!

Yours disgruntled


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rantings in general

My life is on hold. For last six months I’ve been living out of suitcase in temporary housing, first in Hyderabad and now in Seattle. This move has affected my life in more ways than one. Let me explain. I’ve never been very fond of camping, really! Yes, I diligently attended all the NCC camps I could find back in school, not because I enjoyed them but because they allowed me to skip exams (clever, hmmm?) I travel quite a lot and camp in various hotels around the globe…but in those cases I know exactly how long I’d be camping, where I’d be going, what I’d be doing and also that I won’t have to make my bed, do laundry or cook for that period of time. This arrangement works out pretty well for me. But these last six months’ camping has left me exhausted. Not only I’m not living in my own house and I don’t have all my stuff which makes me feel so darn incomplete, but every time I need something I have to rush out and buy it, even though I might have that exact same thing locked up in a 20 feet container crossing the Atlantic at a snail’s pace!!!! My brand new house is sitting vacant while I sit here, twiddling my thumb, waiting for that damn container to show up so that I can move into my house and get on with my life!

I should really start looking for work, just to keep myself sane. But I have been procrastinating…a) because my portfolio is in that container and b) once that damn thing shows up I’ll anyway have to take sometime off to get unpacked and get the house in order. I know it’s the lamest excuse in the whole wide world…but since I’ve already waited out two and a half months, a few more weeks wouldn’t hurt, now would it?

My Liquid Yellow Mini Cooper is sitting in the shop. Apparently these cars are notorious for landing up in the shop every now and then. For whatever reason, my car had to develop a problem which the technicians have never experienced before...they are so stumped that even after taking apart the car 3 times they haven't been able to figure out the malady!!! * Gnashes teeth in frustration* So heaven knows when the car will show up!

I just got back from a cruise to Alaska. It was fun…well mostly! It was a family reunion, called by the patriarch of the family (sounds vaguely Godfather’ish, but this patriarch is a far cry from Vito Corleone) which no one could say no to. So all his children and their bitter halves boarded the super-luxurious cruise liner to be trapped with each other for the next seven days. In fact one bitter half actually paid $50 a minute (or something equally exorbitant like that) for internet connection on board so that he could vent on his blog every night! And no, he didn’t give us the blog address, the chicken! :-)

It was somewhat entertaining to see a bunch of people, who are not particularly fond of each other trying to be civil. Its really hard…people got mild cabin fever, fangs and claws came out once a in a while, but no serious injuries happened as far as I know. What was I doing, you might ask…I was hiding most of the time. There was a lovely library in ship with huge glass windows from which you could see the whales jumping once in a while and I had a couple of really nice books to read…a perfect place to hide with a tall cup of green tea.

Other times we’d go for shore excursions and we all tried our level best to avoid each other. Spouse and I went dog-sled riding on Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. It was quite amazing…after a stomach dropping helicopter ride (my first) we landed deep into this gigantic glacier where there was camp with about 200 dogs. While we were shivering in 5 layers of warm clothing and gloves and caps, the dog mushers were walking around in shorts and t-shirts. Our musher, a comely lass from Norway, took us for this once in a lifetime kinda ride through pristine white, almost surreal landscape of the glacier on a sled pulled by a dozen really frantic dogs. Pretty amazing! I wish I could share the pictures with you, but that brings me to my next reason to vent…spouse lost the camera! Yes, a lovely 8 mega-pixel digital camera brimming over with pictures of a life-time was inexplicably lost. What do I say to that? I wish whoever got it had the good heart to at least return the SD Card.

My gal pals have ditched me. By some quirky co-incidence, all of them are out of town this week, while I’m languishing here waiting for my stuff to arrive. One is in LA looking after her mom who just had a surgery, so she’s excused. Another one is in Cancun frolicking on the beach…may you get the seat next to the toilet on your flight back home! The third one is sailing somewhere around the San Juan Islands in her brand new boat…she’s too dear to me to wish anything ill…I’ll just have to guilt her into taking me out for drinks more often.

Couple of Sat’days back we went to a club in downtown Seattle, which was hosting a pre-Independence day bash. In the recent years Bollywood music has gained tremendous popularity among the club-going crowd of Seattle. In fact there is a club which devotes entire Sat’day nights to Bollywood/Bhangra which attracts major crowd, desi and firangs alike! This particular night we had to stand in line for nearly forty minutes to gain admission. The place was full, bodies were packed like sardines on the dance floor and it was easy to get it into the mood. We were having a great time, till spouse went to the bar for refills while the DJ was playing some Punjabi number. Lo and behold some guy showed up right next to me. I tried ignoring him as much as I could by slowing down and getting closer to my sis-in-law who was there on the dance floor. Out of the blue, he slapped me on my butt, grinned at me, leaned closer and said “Have fun!”, and disappeared into the crowd. I was completely flabbergasted. I left the floor in a daze to find the men, who of course wanted to beat the crap out of the fellow if only I could recognize him. But he looked like anyone in there. I kept wondering if I should have retaliated and caused another mini-stampede (read Shame for reference) or did the right thing by not making a big deal out of it. And two weeks later I’m still wondering…hmmm!

Few weeks back, following spouse’s corporate membership in the swankiest health-club in the area, I went in for a physical assessment with a personal trainer called Sebastian. He greeted me with a “Bonjour Madame” and for the next two hours I was mesmerized while he assessed my fitness. Okay, he was not particularly great looking, but that French accent was so delightful…it was pretty easy to close my eyes and pretend that he was Olivier Martinez! I smiled indulgently even when he measured my “waste to heap” ratio and declared me clinically obese. How could I not…even when he called me fat, he did it with so much flair :-)
“Help me” I said dreamily “I can’t work out. My knee is broken!!”
“In zat case you need to sweem, madame. Zat is zee best excercise for ze bad knee.”
“But I can’t swim either!”
“Don't vorry, madame! I vill teach you. I’m ze master coach. In 2 weeks’ time you vill be sweemming like ze feesh!” he declared.
Needless to say, I haven’t gone back there. I don’t trust myself around men wearing nothing but a swimming costume and French accent! :-)

That’s the current status of my life. I had this overwhelming need to vent today, which has been achieved. A few days back Ichatteralot mentioned that I sound happy and not disgruntled in general while White Magpie said that I lead a charmed life. Sure I do! :-)

Friday, August 11, 2006


Last night my 5 year old son was hatching a plot to kill me. He enlisted his dad to do the dirty work and in graphic details explained to him how to stick the knife in me! But he also asked his dad to take me elsewhere, because he doesn’t want to see blood!!! I tried to be a silent spectator of this drama as long as I could; after all I was the one who started it all.

When we were buying our cars, sonny boy expressed his desire to have a car which has a DVD player (read Mercedes Benz R500 MSRP $ 56,275…the guy has expensive taste I must say), so that he could watch Tom & Jerry in the back seat. Now, I know a lot of parents actually buy silence from their little ones by turning on the DVD player during long drives, and sometimes that silence is priceless, but I’m an old-fashioned girl…15 channels of so-called kids’ programming on TV plus countless “educational” computer games plus Gameboy is more than I can handle anyway…no kid of mine needs to be stuck to a pixilated screen in the car too! Of course the biggest reason is we can’t afford a $56k car…but try telling that to a 5 year old who thinks daddy owns the World Bank. So in my characteristic need to have the last word, I told him “over my dead body!” Little did I know that my famous last words will come back to bite me in the derrière!

So last night I watched my little baby, my bundle of joy, the light of my life, making plans to snuff me out so that he could have his daddy get him a car with a DVD player! In a flash I remembered the miserable nine months of carrying him inside me, the three day labor I went through to bring him to this world, the sleepless nights spent watching over him when he was sick, the years I spent being a stay-at-home-mom stifling my ambitions so that he gets the best attention…all mothers do that, right? That’s what motherhood is all about. You bring a child into this world, and then do your best to raise him/her right and lose yourself somewhere along the way…you stop being a person…your only identity is Mommy! But nothing in the handbook of motherhood had prepared me for this!

Of course I was told that he didn’t know what he was saying, that he has no clue what death is or the permanence of it, that as usual I’m over-reacting. But when my baby was asking his dad to put the knife in me, he looked so cold and distant. Where have I failed in raising this boy, I ask myself? Who do I blame for this…the TV? Tom & Jerry and their mindless, graphic violence? The consumer-driven world of instant gratification that we live in? Our policy to let our son have an opinion about things, treating him like person instead of a child? Are we raising a child who’s completely detached from reality?

I recall my childhood and my relationship with my mother. She was quite the Hitler…hers was a tough love and of course we were raised deprived, somewhat by design and also because she couldn’t afford to splurge. Growing up, I wished to get away, live my life on my own terms, earn enough money to be able to buy all the things I knew my mother could never afford to get me or herself for that matter…but never ever I wished her dead!

Every now and then I come across hapless moms trying to calm down hyperactive kids in malls, stores…typically the kid wants something that the mother is unwilling to get them and more than once I’ve heard a kid scream “I hate you!!! I wish you were dead!!” Such scenes would numb me to the core and I always wondered about my own reaction if my child ever said that to me. I had visions of slapping the living daylights out of him and then giving him up for foster care or something irrationally dramatic like that! But when it hit me last night, I was speechless. Was it because he didn’t throw a tantrum or scream at me, instead in the calmest manner one could expect of a 5 year old, he wished my end? Would it have been easier to deal with tantrum than the cold resolve I saw on his face?

I know the whole thing is much ado ‘bout nothing and this post is also quite meaningless. My ramblings here will be dismissed as the typical over-reaction of a drama queen! But what I’m trying here is to introspect and answer some questions about my own ability as a mother and to see if I’m fit to carry out the task that nature has entrusted me with! It hurts to fail you see!