Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Gangs of Gotham

Aside from the obvious asininity of the title, what might strike you is the rather cunning portmanteau of the two movies that have been solely responsible for the Indian public's remarkable attention deficit disorder being elevated to almost Promethean proportions. Not to critique Prometheus, a movie that was directed to smithereens by one of the most talented, and hence most obdurate directors in Hollywood. Nope, we as a civilization have now moved on to bigger and better things. Let's see now, these two genre bending, mind blasting, and all round snazzy movies are about a small mining town in the hinterland of Bihar, in the far out country of India, and about a considerably larger, albeit vague town in the hinterland of God Knows Where, in a country that can only be assumed to be America by the amount of dubiously bad English, and weird accents spoken throughout.

Language, probably, is one of the last reasons why you would go to watch either movie, but Gangs of wasseypur is more than just a delightful romp through a land of sex, drugs and guns, it is in fact quite educational. Linguistically, it does for the national language(I'm assuming it's Hindi) what the Boston strangler did for door to door salesmen.Judging by the staggeringly large number of families present in the theatre with me when I watched it, they considered it to be quite educational too, and would have little trouble homeschooling their kids in the subtleties of transcendental profanity.

In short, akin to this blog post, Gangs of Wasseypur is an unapologetic, untrammeled, unbridled, no holds barred epic of nonsense. The story is useless, the lyrics of the songs are strange to say the least, the invective is catchy, but unnecessary. It is the longest film about absolute bloody nonsense that you would ever dare to watch. And it is probably the longest film about absolute bloody nonsense that you would pay some more money, and go and watch again. It is probably the longest movie that you would have on infinite loop over a lazy Sunday afternoon, over a couple of months. It's that brilliant. In terms of nonsense, there is qualitative, there is epicurean, and then there is pretentious. In no place would you find this movie aiming to over reach, to present iteslf as something other than plain old self-styled nonsense.

Now, the Dark Knight Rises(and this is the basis for this strangely titled comparative post) is something completely different(I would have written kettle of fish, but that really doesn't seem to do it justice). It is a movie so wrapped up in itself it barely seems to be able to wake up and smell the snow. I have no idea what Bane does in his spare time, but I think most of it would revolve around adjusting his face mask and pumping some iron while preening in front of a mirror. In trying to create an intelligent villain and a flawed hero, Nolan has managed to create convoluted nonsense. Most of the plans, the twists, the deviously cunning schemes of the inordinately nefarious villains are nothing more than qualitative legerdemain at best, and confusing at worst. But it pretends to be so much more. Like the title, it aims to rise beyond its limited plot and average performances to become the successful conclusion of a brilliant trilogy.

It used to be, at one point of time, the greatest putative compliment payable to Bollywood to compare its movies to those of its western cousin. That point of time, seemingly, is long past. While more people were queuing up to watch TDKR(as it is affectionately known) versus GOW, it is a completely different story for the return show.

So many people consider TDKR money well spent, its almost laughable to consider that GOW2 would be available at half the price, and twice the fun.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Reclaim your life

Now the banks have been coming in for a lot of stick lately. And most of it is their fault. Some rather puerile traders at Barclays of course, thought the key exchange rates to be their own personal playthings, and showed a scary tendency towards that most inimitable of Indian talents, jugaad. Now to put things simply, banking is not a laughing matter. In fact, banking is what put us in the sort of shit that we are in right now, today. You see, these days if you find yourself having to turn out your wallet to buy a couple of onions don't blame the Congress(opposite of progress if the posters are to be believed) blame the banks. Banks were never really meant to facilitate anything other than their own self interest, and have never done anyhting else.

The rules that impact our lives the most today therefore, are also the most arbitrary. Strangely enough, the all pervasive law of gravity is as meaningless to us as a crow lying upside down on a deserted street(I'm assuming none of us are Buddhists). The sort of people who manage to make it big these days are not the mundane theoretical physicists, but those who have discovered n even more fundamental law of the universe, How to turn a PROFIT. For these days that's all that matters. Now to most bankeres, creating a profit is almost like making money out of thin air. Even for you, the end user, it might seem so, after all, it goes against the very law of conservation of mass, (and the far subtler) law of conservation of sanity in order to create something out of absolutely nothing. Yet this is the sort of skullduggery that allows our banks, and indeed, the whole global order to flourish.

So, what is it that allows a system this arbitrary and reactionary to exist, might be a question that all but the most apathetic would only be too ready with. It is our nature, as human beings, to disagree on almost everything. For dichotomous as most issues are to us, there is very little that unites man quite like money. And since we have absolutely no idea of how to work together, money is used as a substitute for teamgeist. Make no mistake, almost all of the world's problems could be solved if currency were abolished. But to do so would mean to descend into chaos, because none of us could possibly imagine how to deal with goods and services in an era of the absence of anything to pay for them.

This post is then, not a call to reclaim your life from the materialistic money hounds that seem to have chased it down and ripped it apart. For without money, your life would have been as meaningless as the lunar cycle to the coelacanth. This post is also not about the post apocalyptic nonsense that seems to have taken hold of fantasy writers' imaginations, in which in a not too distant future there will be no money, and people would manage to fend for themselves by producing power, food and water along with disposable nappies and dinner table spoons. This post is about that age old truism that happens to be more relevant today than ever before.

Money is a good servant, but a bad master.

And banks, are probably, given these economic conditions, the worst guardians of your money imaginable.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Boom..Like that

In a city where donuts seem to be the de rigeur a la carte filler food, and the entire female population seems to get its haircuts done from the same place, it is more than a little enchanting to find a bit of humanity in every nook and cranny. Whether it is a polite food server or a desperately honest auto driver, this is a city of great potential, and very little hubris. Hyderabad, it is then, seems to be the Shangri-la that Mark Knopfler seemed to sing about.

The not least impressive thing here is the startling number of couples who manage to turn up at every late night show there is for any movie there might be. It is also not very unimpressive to note the number of BMWs driving around with apparently cavalier disregard for their status, or the state of the roads for that matter. It's amazing how everyone here seems to have a little more money to spend than for their own good, and about how IT seems to be a catchword for half of the working population(the other half seem to be shopkeepers). And as a friend of mine seemed to point out, the girls here get prettier after 12 (with absolutely no reference to the lighting of course).

So this isn't Bangalore's poor cousin is it... I seem to be asked every now and again. I would like to say no. You see, this is a city with very little ego. While Bangalore seems so full of itself it can barely stand up and walk out of the room, Hyderabad is a city filled with humility, almost as great as its heritage. It is not a city that has been handed everything on a platter. It is a city that has been built upon great sacrifice and is still faced with great struggles for its daily bread and butter. Strangely then, while it has been relegated to the ignominy of playing second fiddle to what has been unequivocally proclaimed the godliest of godly cities in this country(and no I don't mean Varanasi) it is quite different from Bangalore.

As with any city, the point is not the brick and mortar structures or the magnificent edifices that may confront you on your way to work every day. The point is made by the people who live and work here. The people are what make up the heart and soul of any city. And while the people here seem to have only two rules, namely take off your shoes while entering someone's house, and watch every movie that releases..period, there is something that the people here are not prone to. There is a scary lack of perversion here. No voyeurs, no masochists, and very little sadism.

And while this lengthy rambling post seems to have left you with very little dear reader, there is a reason why I feel it necessary to extol the virtues of this city. It is my new home, and a very pleasant home at that. While I might have had several apprehensions about this place, it seems to be..fairly...alright.

No really...it's great!!!