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Archive for November, 2008

Mumbai Slum Fantasy, Terror Attack, What’s the Difference

Posted by anandrr on November 28, 2008

Just noticed that one of the links to my blog is from a post about the Mumbai Terror Attack. It’s a link generated automatically by WordPress based on the content of the blog or something. And it’s to my review of Slumdog Millionaire. Really! What could be more apropos to a story about a dead Greek millionaire in Mumbai?

rambling geek post about dead greek millionaire in mumbai


Posted in Funny, Geek Talk, wtf | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

It’s Funny Cause it’s True!

Posted by anandrr on November 28, 2008

This was going to be a flashback friday edition with a different art form: cartooning. Unfortunately I couldn’t unearth funny cartoons from when I was a little tyke, so we’ll go with just-because  Friday blogging.

Oh editorial cartoonists! What would we do without you? You’re always there to elicit a smile from me by reinforcing my peerless opinion with a humorous twist. Take for instance this by Tom Toles of the Washington Post:

© The Washington Post Company

Funny. Trenchant. Good stuff. So when I arrived in India and started reading The Hindu, I was expecting more of the same, except with a local flavour. Except, every time I turned to the op-ed page in The Hindu I would be greeted by a cartoon that was not funny. For instance you might see this, apropos of the sinking of the pirate ship:

© The Hindu

© The Hindu

Or even this, apropos of The Congress Party promising lower petrol prices just ahead of an election:

i© The Hindu/i

© The Hindu

I mean WTF? None of this shit is funny. I kept thinking there was something wrong with me. That he was being very very funny, and I was just not seeing it. As a certified member of the smile-at-New-Yorker-cartoon-pseudo-intellectual class, this was mildly insulting. I smile at cartoons that are not funny, how dare you mock me with cartoons that even I can’t smile at? Finally this morning, we had this:

© The Hindu

© The Hindu

I mean, WTF? Since when is people being shot by terrorists funny? And that too terrorists at The Gateway of India? Seriously WTF is up with this Keshav (or Surendar, depending) the cartoonist guy? Then it struck me. He’s not drawing humorous cartoons. He’s not even offering up opinion. Instead he’s finding an abstract way to represent the news. Every day, Keshav reads the news and asks himself, how can I make this newspaper more abstruse to the average reader? Why, I’ll represent the pirates as a dragon, the Indian Navy as a ship in the distance and the tail of the dragon slowly sinking into the water in a whirlpool like swirl. That will clearly demonstrate that we are winning the war on pirates. Arrrrr!

But even if I go with the abstract representation theory, I still have no fucking idea what this means. You can go squiggly eyed at as many MOMAs as you can find, but you’ll still not be adequately prepared for the awesome abstract thought of the Keshav. Let’s see the BJP  is turning into a bullet belt that is wrapped around the bomb of terror, but it thinks it is just watering a creeper?  The creeper represents the strong hold the BJP has on terror?  Is the creeper turning into an alternate wick for the bomb? And if the creeper needs support, why does the guy have a pair of shears in his hand? WTF?

em© The Hindu/em

© The Hindu

Posted in Funny, Media, Newspapers, wtf | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Seductive San Francisco I

Posted by anandrr on November 25, 2008

It was the best November day ever, unfortunately all I had was a dinky phone

It was the best November day ever, unfortunately all I had was a dinky phone

Posted in Bertie Heads to the Photo Shop, Nostalgia, Outdoor Stuff, Shutterbug, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Film Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Posted by anandrr on November 14, 2008

We got to watch Slumdog Millionaire recently, and we liked it quite a bit. It is set largely in Mumbai (some diversions to Agra), and chronicles how a little kid from Dharavi (Jamal) grew up to win it all at the desi version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and also finally reunited with the love of his life. He is not particularly interested in the money, just the girl.

By itself, that’s a very conventional story line, there are probably a hundred Bollywood movies that cover the same basic storyline: Young kid from the slums gets rich on his wits alone and also gets the girl. What makes Slumdog different is how well it works as a movie. From the first scene, it establishes that the fairy tale you’re about to see is grounded in reality: Jamal is being interrogated at a police station (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, naturally) because after all, there is no way that a “slumdog” like him could know enough to win it all in the quiz show. From there the movie begins to run. As Jamal tells us the story of his life in flashback segments, one thing is apparent: to live and make it in Mumbai is always to be running. The camera work is astounding, it brilliantly captures the frenetic pace of the movie while not forgetting to emphasize the color and variety all around it, not to mention the little ironies that surround life in India. While the boys are running the soundtrack keeps pace: A.R. Rahman scores the music and M.I.A supplies vocals (Paper Airplane and damned if I can find the other song).

All of the movie is grounded in the “real India” (and by extension the “real Mumbai”). Slums, rampaging mobs, kids picking around in huge piles of trash, an “orphanage” running a beggar business, guides ripping off foreign tourists, call centers full of young people selling the Family and Friends plan to unsuspecting foreigners and ugliest of all: the slums turning into the Hiranandani towers. It is this connection to the real India at once visceral and beautiful that sets the movie apart.

There are a couple false note in the movie: Anil Kapoor as the oily host of the Millionaire show. I can see why his character had to be dirty, but it’s unclear to me why he had to be unlikable. On the real show, he would have lasted less than a whole episode as host. The other of course is that fairy tales don’t really happen in the seamy side of Mumbai.

Also, Frieda Pinto: Beautiful!

Posted in Films, Reviews, Showbiz | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Flashback Friday: Bong Hits Edition

Posted by anandrr on November 7, 2008

We’re reminded of when we were kids and our school in which had started just that year (Go NPS!) had to come up with names for the four houses. Those were simple times with simple teachers apparently so when it came time to choose the names they went with simple Red House, Blue House, Green House and Yellow House. It was a letdown of sorts but with appropriately themed paraphernalia we were quite willing to root for our color and did it enthusiastically and vociferously. We have to believe that the theming had something to do with it, we could tell our red themed compatriots from a distance, and knew to boo when the blue fellows had their turn up at the starting line. (Today of course, NPS seems to have gotten a lot more sophisticated and has real historical names of mighty significance for its houses.) Why are we reminded of this? We’re watching the NKP Salve Trophy on the TV. It features 3 cricket teams from India, chosen by a nameless face in the sky. The teams are India Red, India Blue and India Green. So already it’s looking weak. Why not just choose the three strongest state teams? Then, the teams are chosen completely randomly, so what’s in it for me to root for one team over another? Finally, here’s the India Blue uniform:

© The Hindu

India Blue: Image © The Hindu

That’s not so bad, nice and bluey. So what does India Red look like?
India Red

India Red: Image © The Hindu

That’s right. Mostly blue. But if you’re thinking that’s bad, wait till you see India Green. Check out the guy in bright yellow:
© The Hindu

India Green (and Blue): © The Hindu

Posted in Cricket, Nostalgia, Showbiz, Sports, TV | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »