Saturday, 9 February 2013

Special

One question that gets thrown up a lot is can Bollywood hope to compete with its infinitely more illustrious bigger brother Hollywood n its own terms. Yes not by making movies with budgets to rival the GDPs of some African nations, or by making dramas on boxing an ballet, but by making the same sort of masala fare that we have been dished out since the turn of the century(and last century as well). Can we create movies that are brilliant, and yet, uniquely Indian.

This would appear to be a moot question to many. Most would readily point out that we have in fact spent most of our lives seeing our fledgling movie industry copying its plots from some lesser known(and sometimes even better known) movies abroad. And the buck doesn't stop there, of course, not content with merely copying the storyline, some directors would even copy scenes and dialogues from the original. But hey, we don't complain. As a self critical antagonist in the (surprisingly) hit movie Gangs of Wasseypur remarked...Jab Tak Bollywood rahega...tab tak log chutiye bante rahenge (or reasonably audacious equivalent). Bollywood has always based itself of the smoke and mirrors stuff. Designed to sell movies, not make cinema.

Which is why there are many proclaiming that we are now entering the new age of Indian cinema. The sort of age where even a no holds barred gangland epic like Gangs of Wasseypur can open to a packed house and receive rave reviews. Original Indian cinema, which was previously relegated to the sidelines of mainstream public consciousness, has now emerged to grab the spotlight for itself. We now have the likes of a Dev D, a creative modern day interpretation of an extant classic garnering profits. We now have the likes of a biopic of a track and field specialist recouping its budget. Things look good for Indian cinema.

Except that those movies aren't really Indian cinema. The sort of production value  they have is still dwarfed by some of the more mindless films that sell blatantly due to star casts, and the sort of audience they enthrall is still limited to the urban working class. And the only reason why there is now a market for these movies is not because the movies are being made better or grander, but because the audience for such movies is growing at a rapid rate. As the bulk of India moves from being a bucolic farming class of people to an erudite technocratic service provider, the entertainment it consumes would naturally reflect in its shift.

Which is why Special 26 deserves a special mention. The movie seems to be typical Bollywood caper fare at first. Staid dialogues delivered in steadfast monotone, a pretty decent star cast, a sharp storyline punctuated by a song or two, a beautiful heroine in distress and so on. The only difference is, its not. Not staid, and yet, make no mistake this sort of movie is the bastion of Indian mainstream cinema. The difference is that Special 26 is not only based on real events, it aspires to lend a very intelligent plot to those real events. You see, Special 26 aspires to be the Ocean's Eleven of Bollywood. And yet, not quite. All the trappings of a traditional movie, with a sucker-punch thrown right at the end. A film that can be compared to its Hollywood counterpart not based on its storyline or even its cast, but on the sort of heights it aims to reach.

Movies like Gangs.. would always be made by rebels or by creatives. It is only now that mainstream is responding in kind, by evolving.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Free Energy..for Everyone!

"In any isolated system, one cannot create new energy"
-First Law of Thermodynamics, Universally Renowned as being quite Legit

Now the concept of Perpetual Motion machines have persisted in the putative imagination of so many millions of us that college textbooks seem to have taken a singular dislike to the very concept, seeking to eradicate it through pointed proofs and demonstrable physical theorems. These college textbooks, (we had one by an author called P.K Nag) are apparently not taken very seriously. As a species, human beings are a particularly imaginative lot, and the(very bored college) guy who coined the phrase Necessity is the mother of Invention will probably attest to this fact. Yet amongst our species there have persisted seriously hardy and possibly meretricious fallacies called ideas. And seemingly resistant parasites that these ideas are, we tend to persist with them even after the most ignominious proofs to the contrary have been presented to us. These ideas tend to be rather sine qua non in their nature, and have often known to be spontaneously combustible as well.

Which is why a possibly fraudulent inventor seeking the Holy Grail of all Physics Scams should start off by ringing alarm bells in your head. The Perpetual Motion Machine(of types 1 and 2, creatively monogrammed as PMM1/2) has been conclusively disproved by Thermodynamics in general, and the experience of scammed theoretical physicians in particular. Yet Muammer Yildiz continues to persist with the idea, now having invented a motor which runs on neodymium magnets alone. He has submitted his claim to the world now to dissect, and the world has responded quite readily, by fragmenting his machine, and running over it with a fine tooth comb. They found nothing amiss, but keep in mind that in most scams of this nature nothing is found to be amiss until the proverbial shit hits the fan. Think the Pilmington man.

For those whose memories need to be refreshed.. a long Reader's Digest article on the Pilmington man was what clued me in. And this was over a decade ago, so I'm guessing the scam was even before then. The Pilmington man was long considered to be the missing link between man and monkey..led to a new genus of humankind..and in general some mindless euphoria. That's before the Man was in fact discovered to be a monkey, carefully merged with a human skull.

Proof enough that the scientific establishment is as gullible to false advertising as we are. The claims need only be too good to be true, and the premise larger than life for investors to throw money at it. We now live in a world wherre venture capital is easier to hunt down than your neighbours missing cat, and while this has given rise to some truly breathtaking ventures, it has also resulted in some of the most harebrained schemes raising enough money for the erstwhile proprietor of those schemes to take a trip to the moon and back.

Strangely enough, this theme has attracted more loonies to it than moths to a candle. It all started with the Charles Redheffer scam in 1813, and has continued to this century. This in itself is probably why Muammer Yildiz is probably onto something. As a scam this is essentially a dead rubber, with no investor with any basic knowledge of physics(and I'm told its compulsory education these days) would dare to invest in. Recent demonstrations in Turkey have led to his contraption being disassembled into ever decreasing pieces, and kept running for ever increasing times. However, the acid test iwill take place over the course of next month, when the motor will be kept running for over 30 days, under constant observation by a team of renowed professors.

We could all hope to flush the Laws of Thermodynamics(and those fat college textbooks) down the toilet now, couldn't we?  But if this magnetic motor were in fact to become reality all sorts of possibilities could come into effect, cars that dont need petrol to run, fans that dont need electricity, you name it, the energy conundrum would be cracked wide open.

Is it a scam? We will know 30 days from now. Part of me fervently hopes not. Muammer Yildiz and his enduring reputation would also fervently hope not. The whole world would also hope not. But we can only wait and watch now.