Friday, 28 February 2014

Acid Mothers Temple

Acid Mothers Temple, that non-stop touring bunch of psychedelic gurus, announced the dates for their 2014 North American Tour today. These guys tour so much that one would think it would cut into their productivity. But it does not. Far from it, actually. They're one of the most prolific bands around. Discogs lists 76 releases from their Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO collective alone (this is the lineup that's touring this year) and even that is probably not a complete list. They also have about 10 other collectives - different incarnations of the band with varying lineups and styles of music - that have their own sets of releases.

I'm going to stick with The Melting Paraiso UFO here because that's the AMT I'm most familiar with. Their sound can be best described as psychedelic space-rock with heavy world music influences, sometimes veering into krautrock, free-jazz, and drone. With tracks that frequently stretch out into wild jams that are over 20, 30, 40 minutes long (at least one version of Pink Lady Lemonade crosses the one hour mark), this is music that is not for the casual listener. It requires one to surrender to it and to let it take you on a ride. That may sound like a lot, but trust me it's worth it. In one word, it is


I am listening to In O To ∞, their 2010 follow up to their cover of Terry Riley's In C,  for the first time as I write this and I must say I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. And while I may not be half agony, half hope like that Austen hero, and saying this record pierces my soul might seem a bit much, it is undeniably a trip and a half that demands complete attention. So -break-

Yeah, that was a most excellent album and I am wondering why it took me so long to get around to it. Quite the mix of musical styles there. I'll have to give it many more listens before I can attempt to describe it. I will say though that it ended on a surprisingly Boredoms-like note (another extraordinary Japanese band).

But stepping back in time a bit, let me tell you about an AMT album that I have more experience with - La Novia. Listening to La Novia, which is considered by many to be their definitive record, is quite a trip. It starts out as a Occitanian folk tune (go on, look it up), a meditative chant-like sing-song that briefly turns into a pastoral tune before switching to krautrock mode. But before one knows what hit one, it shapeshifts into a heady psychedelic rock beast that turns the brain into putty and then makes the most wondrous shapes out of it, briefly switching back to the original folk tune only to go crazy all over again. After nearly 40 glorious minutes, it quietly slips into soft acoustic strumming and fades away. And that's just the title track. It is followed by two more (shorter) tracks, which I'll leave you to discover for yourself.

All told though, AMT, as good as they are on record, are primarily a live band. One of the best live bands on this planet in my estimation, and you should take my word for it because I've seen more than my fair share of live shows. Be it Kawabata Makoto's masterful shredding and feedback swirling (the man is deemed a guitar god ffs) or Tsuyama Atsushi's hilarious banter which is by no means second to his bass playing (just listen to any live version of Pink Lady Lemonade where the guitar and bass essentially change roles), this is a band to be experienced live more than any other. Just remember to take ear plugs.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

I saw a movie today...

Raanjhanaa. Have mixed feelings about it. Maybe writing about it seconds after it ended isn't the best thing to do. Need to mull over it a bit. I will say though that Dhanush reinforced my admiration for his art yet again. He's always been the one Tamil actor in recent times that truly becomes the part he plays every time (that I've seen anyway). From Aadukalam to Mariyaan to Raanjhanaa now the man consistently wows me. This movie would've been worth watching if only for him, but I think it also had other things going for it. But no, not now. Perhaps later, after a rewatch.

I definitely have to rewatch if only to catch all the bits I missed thanks to trying to keep up with the lightning fast subtitling. How I wish I understood Hindi well enough to not need them.

In other news, I made rasam today (comfort food ftw) and also did something productive. By which I mean I did something for someone else. Actually came up with a good idea or two. Feels good to know my brain still works. What's even better is to be acknowledged for it.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Death makes me happy

I love Terry Pratchett. Discworld is my favouritest place in the universe to go to to cheer myself up. And Death is one of my favouritest characters ever. The most adorable character ever for sure. Yes, I said adorable. We are told that Death loves cats, but to me he seems a lot like one himself. As curious as a cat, especially about humans, and yet quite removed from their petty concerns. He sees right through people (even though he is described as being the one who is unseen) and is brutally honest, but without the least notion of hurting. A most interesting character through whose eyes (figurative, of course, since he has none in the literal sense) we get to view  the world and its mores. 

So far I've read about dozen or so Discworld novels. Mort, which is the first in the Death series, is naturally my favourite. But, I also really love the Tiffany Aching books, Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky. I think they are supposed to be young adult books, but this old child finds them immensely relatable. One trait of Tiffany's I especially identify with is her Second Thoughts - thinking about thinking about something. I catch myself doing this a lot. And when I do, I end up in the weird(er) world of Third Thoughts, and things get really confusing and tangled up really fast. But then I remember Tiffany and Discworld and all its wonderful inhabitants and all is right with the world again. 

Which makes me think now is a good time to get started on the City Watch series since Hamlet has been laid aside again thanks to the less than perfect hold I have over my faculties of late. Somehow I haven't read a single book in the Watch series so far even though I've heard that it is usually tied with the Death series in Discworld enthusiasts' estimation. That's as strong a recommendation as any for me since everyone who loves Pratchett is immediately A-ok in my eyes. 

Speaking of which, I have to tip my hat to Samyogita, whose blog post here (which has some choice quotes of and about Death) is what inspired me to blather on as I have here. Oh, and please don't let my rambling dissuade you from giving Pratchett a go (something that has sadly happened in the past). Instead read Mort and thank me later.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Harold Ramis died today (okay yesterday, technically). When I read this news (on facebook or twitter, I forget which), my reactions were as follows:

1. "Who?"
2. *google*
3. Oh shit the Ghostbusters dude!
4. :(

In my defense, I am really bad with names. It took me nearly half a year to learn the names of the 10 people I work with, and even now after over half a decade, I still sometimes can't remember the name of that one dude and have to resort to oblique references or overlong pauses hoping the other person will fill in the blank.

But back to Harold Ramis, or more specifically to Ghostbusters, since that's the only film of his I've seen. I have heard of Groundhog Day and Caddyshack, but never got around to watching either. As a matter of fact, up until a few years ago, I hadn't even seen Ghostbusters. Or Star Wars. Or Back to the Future. Yeah, I know. I have a haphazard way of going about discovering movies, music, books, and even news, for that matter, which tends to leave rather huge and shocking gaps in my knowledge.

Anyway, coming back to Ghostbusters again(!), all I knew about the movie was that it was from the 80s and I think I suspected that it was a comedy and I knew the song, of course. So, when I heard of a free midnight showing of the movie on a night when I had nothing else going on, I figured what the heck. Boy, what an experience that turned out to be! Not because the movie was so good. That I had to find out later, because at that screening, the movie was drowned out by the audience. A packed hall with a very enthusiastic audience (quite a few of whom were more than a little buzzed thanks to this theater being one of the few that serve booze) quoting along all the quotable lines in a film which is pretty much one of the most quotable movies of all time! I was more than a little lost for a whole lot of the movie. At the end of the show, if someone had come up to me asking what the movie was about, I wouldn't have been able to say anything more than "um it was a comedy about ghosts and people who bust them...maybe?"

I did pick up the DVD later and watched it quite a few times in the safety, comfort, and, more importantly, quiet of my own home. My ringtone has been a cover of the Ghostbusters song for some time now. That I love the movie to bits goes without saying. Seriously, who could actually not like it?

After writing that last line, I made the mistake of looking up the movie on IMDB and sorting reviews by "Hated It" (damn my compulsion for accuracy). Wow, there are some miserable people in this world. Fuck them.

Ghostbusters is a joyful and fun ride, and for having (co-)created it, I salute you and mourn you, Harold Ramis. And I will make it my mission to watch those other movies of yours as well. Especially looking forward to Groundhog Day.

Oh, also, Egon was always my favourite and he can collect my spores, molds and fungus anytime >_>

Monday, 24 February 2014

Disintegration Loops

Not really in any state to write much today. But I don't want to break my streak either. So a quick note and some music for today.

My mind was very restless earlier today (as it has been for the past couple of days), which when combined with a weak body that essentially left me bedridden for most of the day, was a very frustrating experience. Was trying to occupy myself by reading random things on the internet but that didn't really help. Finally I hit upon something that did - William Basinski's Disintegration Loops.

It is an ambient work that was created when Basinski was trying to transfer some old tape loops to digital and realised that they were disintegrating in the process (hence the name). Soon after he completed the project, the 9/11 attacks happened and he recorded a video of it from his rooftop and set the first of the loops as its soundtrack. So one gets to see the destruction of the twin towers juxtaposed with the slow physical destruction of the tape loops and it is mesmerising. An ode to the eventual fate of all things.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

On finding new blogs and being feverishly impulsive (quite literally)

So the Twitter experiment yielded some good results after all, though in an unexpected form. It lead me to some interesting people and their blogs, which brings me full circle in a sense since it was clicking links in certain blogs that lead me to twitter in the first place.

The most promising looking of said blogs is Baradwaj Rangan's. I was only vaguely aware of him before now as a generally respected film critic. A well deserved reputation from what I can tell so far (more on the conditional nature of this statement later). But the reason I'm excited about this particular blog is not Mr. Rangan's writing. It is in fact his reader base that is the true find. A surprisingly, nay shockingly, intelligent and articulate bunch they be. The comments section has actual civil discussions! Never in all my years on the internet have I seen this phenomenon. It goes against the grain completely.

I will admit to reading comments sections on various websites to amuse myself in general - youtube is an especially hilarious example until it gives one an headache. A seemingly favourite anecdote of Raja Sen's comes to mind about how one of his friends mentioned that they'd made enemies among the "ungrammatical" in reference to posting in the comments section of one of his reviews. That is an apt description of these spaces in general. Just add in an image of outraged denizens foaming at the mouth. That's how I picture them anyway.

The community on this particular blog, however, bucks the trend. What also delighted me was seeing that at least in two instances, the discussions in the comments deviated from the movie-related topics to go on to talking about music (general theory of music not just film music) in one case and evolutionary anthropology in the other! The latter went above my head, and so did the former to some extent, but I still couldn't stop myself from jumping in and adding my two cents. It was an old discussion so chances are no one will bother responding to it, but I still had to have my say.

In related news, I'm sick. Started with a sore throat and sniffles yesterday and went on to a full blown fever, and instead of sleeping it off like a sensible person, I decided to read all these blogs and twitter feeds and post everywhere like a trigger happy junkie. I'm being far too impulsive. In the past, I used to spend months scoping out a community before tentatively joining in. Also, thanks to the fever, I'm not thinking straight and am probably not making a whole lot of sense anywhere. I know I'm not fully comprehending what I read. Been skimming an awful lot. And that being the case, I have no business commenting. I'm probably acting like a drishti pariharam (evil-eye warding thingy) or worse.

That thought conveniently brings me to something else that was racing around my mind earlier. I think I'm combating a dangerous dichotomy in myself. One part of me wants to be brutally honest always and another worries too much about appearances. What complicates things further is that I want to want the former and detest the latter and wish it weren't so. But then again, maybe everyone faces this to some extent, on some level. See there I go again confusing myself. I need sleep.

This song aptly sums up my current state of mind, especially the lyrics "words are useless, especially sentences." Don't dismiss it because it's Madonna. It was written by Bjork and the video by Mark Romanek is pretty fitting.

Saturday, 22 February 2014


Finally caved in and created a twitter account. Mainly because I found myself checking a few people's twitter feeds obsessively multiple times a day and figured creating an account and following them would be easier than typing in their names into the address bar each time.

I thought I'd use it just for the aforementioned purpose, and to occasionally talk to myself because why would anyone follow me (none of the friends I'd feel comfortable sharing it with are on twitter afaik). But, lo and behold! not 5 minutes after I created the account and after just one "Hello world" tweet, I already had a follower. Heh. Not going to follow you back, random person, if that was your aim.

So now I have two places where I am essentially talking to myself, but I know in the back of my mind that someone could be reading what I write. Which in turn makes me self-conscious even though the whole point of writing anonymously is to free myself of that curse. Ugh.

With this blog that's not entirely true since I have been "forced" to share it with some friends. But those friends are ones whom I have no (or at any rate, very little) inhibitions with anyway. No, they're not the someone I'm referring to here. It's you. I know you're out there, random readers of my blog. My page view counter inches up slowly, but surely with every post. Unless you're just web that's a sobering thought. =/

Wait, you say, why is it so disappointing if no one reads this? Weren't you just complaining about how having readers makes you uncomfortable? Yes, and no. I do want readers. What I'm complaining about is my own, um, shyness that I find hard to overcome even under cover. Is it shyness or vanity, I wonder...

Anyway, at the end of the day, I'm glad I made this blog. I do find myself genuinely looking forward to writing every day and that's all that matters.

/random stream of consciousness post

To make up for (or perhaps match) that mess of a post, let me end with Doseone's cryptic lyrics in this cool track:

Friday, 21 February 2014

Dev D Soundtrack

Why didn't I listen to this soundtrack sooner? Can't believe I'm so late to this party. Freshest sounding Indian music I've heard in quite a long while. 2009 seems to have been quite the awesome year for music in Hindi cinema, with Dev D leading the pack, followed closely by Delhi 6 and then Kaminey.

The reason I rank Dev D higher than the other two is because of its unconventionality. While Delhi 6 and Kaminey are both excellent albums in their own rights, they are still identifiable as bollywood soundtracks. They play it safe in a sense (though admittedly not very safe in the traditional sense), which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But you've got to hand it to the people who took a chance on something different and succeeded so beautifully. 

Dev D was already on my list of films to watch, but after listening to the music, it's jumped up almost to the very top. I can tell that a lot, if not all, of this music is built around the film and is not extraneous to it. The two Dev Chanda themes/interludes are all delightful. Theme 1 is a breezy exotica piece with nice harmonies, while the other, Theme 2, has some lovely whistling and an atmosphere of innocence.  

Emosanal Attyachaar and Yahi Meri Zindagi  were the only songs I was really familiar with before today. I came across the latter on Raja Sen's blog a little while ago, and while it didn't really grab me on the first listen, it has definitely grown on me quite a lot since then and I can now agree with Mr. Sen that it is most mesmeric indeed. Dil Mein Jaagi has a similar old time (western) musical or broadway feel to it. I can see Julie Andrews singing and dancing to it. 

The brass band version of Emosanal Attyachar is the highlight of the album. Funky both in the music and the lyrics, which are easier to understand for me thanks to the liberal spattering of English (gotta love the line "bol bol why did you ditch me, whore"). And that one of the best actors in recent times, the chameleon Nawazuddin Siddiqui, appears in the video only added to the charm of this song for me. 

The rock version of Emosanal Attyachar is interesting also, but to a lesser extent. I particularly like the vocal harmonies in it, but the rock instrumentation is a bit bland and generic sounding. On a side note, I keep expecting the end of this song to transition into Soni De Nakre thanks to having watched this video one too many times (I love that sly/mischievous look on Shahid's face when the song switches).

Going to back to Dev D, Pardesi is another favourite of mine. Love how the sitar in the beginning gives way to a very phat beat and then comes back again later in the song. The very punjabi sounding vocals also fit well in this eclectic mix.

The four tracks sung by the composer Amit Trivedi himself are all quite yummy as well. Duniya is extremely funky with some fun sounding rap (should look up what they mean) and sweet breakbeats that is hard not to move to. Aankh Micholi starts off sounding like something off of the soundtrack of Brazil (brilliant film and soundtrack btw) with the xylophone bit until Amit starts singing and then turns into a club track with that xylophone ting ting coming and going. Saali Khushi is a laid back, lounge, mildly jazzy track that goes all out jazz with horns and everything before settling back into the original groove. Nayan Tarse is another lounge track fused with pysch rock in quite a surprising manner. My only complaint with it is that it needs to be longer.  

Rouding out the album are some very traditional Indian songs (Dhol Yaara Dhol, Hikknaal, Mahi Mennu), one straight up pop rock song (Ek Hulchul Si) that is my least favourite track, one nice Indian western fusion song (Paayaliya) which wouldn't be out of place in a Tabla Beat Science album and one nearly a capella track (Ranjhana) which would probably benefit from the context in the film where it is used.

I've already listened to this soundtrack four times today and foresee many many more listenings in the future. I take my music very seriously, so this is no mean feat. Bravo, Amit Trivedi!

Thursday, 20 February 2014


Somehow I never read Hamlet in its entirety. I tried once when I was in school but the language was way too difficult. So I gave up and picked up an easier book that basically described the plots of famous Shakespeare plays instead. Thus I know the story of Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet and a bunch of others without having actually read the original works. I think I did eventually manage to read at least one Shakespeare play all the way through, but for the life of me I can't remember which one it was.

Anyway, I've decided it is about time to rectify this gross oversight and got a copy of Hamlet for my kindle. The reason for choosing Hamlet first is, of course, because I want to finish it before Haider comes out. I know the movie isn't set to be released for another 8 months but I wanted to play it safe. Which, as it turns out, was a good call because I started reading two nights ago and finally managed to finish Act 1, Scene 1 only last night. I would've finished it in one night but for that long speech of Horatio's. Halfway through it my eyes glazed over and I couldn't read another word.

But I shall trudge on. After all when I read my first Sherlock Holmes book, I was just as baffled by the language and had to refer to a dictionary every sentence pretty much. And yet within the next year I had devoured every single book Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote. So too shall I conquer the mighty bard!

There will be no not to be in this case. But here's a video on To Be or Not to Be, the movie, an old favorite of mine:

Wednesday, 19 February 2014



I'm trying to buy a TV and the choices out there have been driving me mad. I finally settled on a model and add it to my cart and the bloody retailer increased the price by a cool hundred and twenty bucks. >:(

Now it's back to looking at the other models again and picking another. So frustrating.

Here's some grindcore to celebrate my annoyance - one of the best covers (as in cover songs not the album cover) ever:

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


Ran across an interesting doom metal cover (not for the faint-hearted) of a Portishead track from their self-titled album yesterday and it made me want to listen to that album again after a long time. Listened to it twice before falling asleep at the break of dawn.

Portishead was my first exposure to trip hop and it was quite a revelation to me who had up until then only listened to mainstream pop and rock with the occasional smattering of alt rock. I forget exactly how I stumbled onto it but I think Glory Box off of Dummy was the first song of theirs I heard (probably on some late night Channel V show - I was a night owl even then). And I remember distinctly this one afternoon after school when my best friend came home and I played my precious Dummy cassette (these were the days before CDs were affordable in India, especially on my meager allowance) for her, making sure to draw the curtains to darken the room first. She later agreed that darkening the room was a good call.

Portishead belongs to the night, to darkness. Listening to this music during the day just doesn't fit. Maybe that is why I love it. Darkness, and I'm not talking literally here, always seems to add an extra dimension to art that makes it more interesting, visceral and real.

Here is a deliciously creepy video for the song All Mine from the album Portishead (make sure to dim the lights to get the full effect):

Monday, 17 February 2014

Thinking Out Quietly

I often find myself thinking out loud to myself in my head. It's like there are two of me - one who feels wordlessly, and another who is constantly trying to put into words and make sense of what the former is feeling.

Why do I feel the need to do that, I wonder. Why can't I just feel and not try to describe the experience? This doesn't always happen concurrently. Sometimes I think much after the fact. But there are times when I catch myself trying to put into words my experience of something while I am still in the process. This tends to take me out of the moment and I have to have a word with myself about not distracting me.

It's like I am a reporter without a recording device who has to put things down right then and there or risk forgetting. Who am I writing these articles for anyway? Do I even glance back at them once they have been thought out quietly? I guess that's where this blog comes into play.

Here's one such thought about last night:

Driving down silent deserted roads
Watching the full moon cast a glow 
Over eerie fields of pure white snow
Calms my bones, makes me smile
And yet
I sigh

Sunday, 16 February 2014


Saw this movie today and it affected me deeply. I wanted to write about it right away but I wasn't sure I could put what I felt into words and wanted to let it simmer in my head for a bit. Now, 5 hours later, I'm still not sure I can do it justice but I don't think waiting 5 days or even 5 weeks will change that.

Her is a movie about a man (Theodore) who falls in love with a sentient operating system (Samantha). It is also a movie about relationships, about loneliness, about connection, and about being, really. A lot of it hit very close to home and maybe that's why I love it so much. That's probably also why I find it hard to write about.

But I think, even if one can't totally relate to it, there will be something in this movie that touches a cord in everyone. Its themes are universal and the excellent screenplay together with the brilliant performances of Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson make it all but impossible not to fall for this movie as hard as Theodore does for Samantha.

And speaking of those performances - god damn Scarlett is an enchantress for creating a character you can almost touch and feel with just her voice. Joaquin is no less to be applauded for his extremely vulnerable and real portrayal. For the majority of the film's little over 2 hours running time, he is the only person on screen, and never once did my connect with his character falter. Major props also to Spike Jones for writing these characters and making this story come alive.

I really can't wait to watch it again. Might even go back as soon as tomorrow (who knows how much longer it will play and I don't want to have to wait for the DVD release). As Theodore's friend Amy says in the film (a line that basically defines my philosophy in life such as it is) - "We're only here briefly, and while I'm here I want to allow myself joy. So Fuck it." And this film is a joyous experience, despite the sadness inherent in it. Or maybe because of it.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Jab We Met

The one that started it all for me. What better movie to watch and post about on Valentine's Day (well, technically it is past the 14th, but whatever).

When I first heard about this movie years ago, the name of the film prejudiced me against. I thought it must be a crappy, cheesy, grating rom-com like so many others. Don't get me wrong, I do watch such cheesy rom-coms from time to time. But I need to be in a certain frame of mind and even then I prefer it when they are not too crappy. This one, I figured, wasn't one I'd be interested in. Besides, I hardly ever watched Hindi movies aside from the time at uni when I'd watch with my roommates (bugging them to tell me what was going on every so often when they happened to be subtitle-less). So that was that.

Cut to last year when I happened to come across this movie again when I was particularly bored and in the mood for a mindless chick flick. I was captivated before I was more than a fifth of the way in. When that scene at the Hotel Decent came along, I was totally in love with this movie. By the way, who is that dude who plays the hotel keeper? He made quite an impression in just one 3 minute scene!

My favourite part of the movie is that scene where Aditya says goodbye to Geet in Manali, walks away, then turns around and smiles quietly to himself. That scene is the best depiction of unrequited love that I have seen in movies. In the second half, of course, we see the usual martyrdom aspect that movies so love to portray. But I guess that was necessary to drive the drama and at any rate it was done far more subtly than is usual (the scene where Aditya turns around after leaving Geet with Anshuman gets me every time).

Oddly enough the one scene that didn't really work for me was the climax kiss and hug. Somehow felt like there was no chemistry at all between the two when they finally got together even though they were quite crackling for the whole of the film until then. Even in the hotel room scene in Shimla there was palpable tension despite that cheesy porn music (seriously, what were the director and music director thinking? it almost completely took me out of the movie). But, I can overlook that and just dream up a better scene.

This is one movie I can watch over and over (and have too). A feel good movie that never fails me. Even when I'm in the mood to feel sad in a good sort of way. If that makes sense...

Friday, 14 February 2014

Balu Mahendra

If you read my blog post from yesterday, you'd know that I was in quite a chipper mood. Sadly, that cheerfulness wasn't to last very long. Less than an hour later I stumbled across the news that veteran filmmaker Balu Mahendra had died. It hit me surprisingly hard. I wanted to express my sadness but had not the words. So I just posted a brief message saying as much on Google+ and added a link to a playlist of his made for television short film collection, Kadhai Neram. I remember watching one or two of those back in the day but I need to watch the rest and the G+ post served a dual purpose, the second being to remind myself to watch it.

Balu Mahendra made some of the best Tamil (or actually South Indian) films I have seen - Veedu, Moondram Pirai (remade as Sadma in Hindi), Marupadiyum (remake of Arth), Rettai Vaal Kuruvi, Sathi Leelavathi. And some that I haven't but will - Sandhya Ragam, Thalaimuraigal, Kokila (Kannada), Yathra (Malayalam). He loved cinema and it showed. Both in the cinema he made and in his interviews.

He was equally good at crafting neorealistic cinema and uproarious comedy. Something not many (if any) others can achieve. Sathi Leelavathi is a perennial favourite in my family. We can (and do) quote lines from that movie to each other time and time again and laugh together. Speaking of that film, it recently occurred to me that infidelity was a theme that occurred fairly frequently in his 20-odd filmography (as director). Maybe that was due in part to his own experiences vis-à-vis the actress Shoba. When he did make a film dedicated to her after her suicide, however, the theme of the film was not infidelity. Instead it was the story of a man who falls in love with a child-woman, who is cruelly snatched away from him after a short period of bliss. The film, of course, was Moondram Pirai and quite an ode it was.

His best film, however, was Veedu - a story about ordinary people told very simply yet eloquently. A story about a single middle-class woman trying to build a home for herself and her grandfather may not sound like much, but it is immensely relatable and the treatment, performances (Archana and Chokkalinga Bhagavathar are simply superb), and music (one of Ilayaraja's best scores ever) made it a classic.

Here, then, is a scene from said film where the grandfather goes to see the construction site of the almost finished house. He takes a long bus ride alone, forgets his umbrella when getting down, trudges on in the cruel Madras heat, and then steps in (taking care to put his right foot first) and...well, see for yourself:

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Phata Poster Nikla Hero

This movie turned out to be surprisingly entertaining. I watched it more than half expecting to cringe or, at best, feel meh towards it like the last few Shahid movies I've seen. Maybe it was the low expectation that helped. Plus I'm in an easily amused sort of mood lately, so that probably helped as well. Also, I haven't seen the director, Rajkumar Santhoshi's older film Andaz Apna Apna, to which this seemed to be compared unfavourably a lot. Net result, I laughed a fair bit and enjoyed myself quite.

I did almost give up when the post interval ma sentiment section hit, but I'm glad I stuck with it. In retrospect, I can see what the director was going for with that. I do wish, however, that they'd toned down the same sentiment bit at the very end. It didn't hurt my grin too much. Turned it into a slight grimace that turned back into a grin with the last line of Vishwas to guruji.

I was also going to complain about the gratuitous muscle man shot in the climax, but on second thoughts, maybe that too fits in with the overall idea of the film.

One other false note was the romance angle. There were places where it was a little too earnest and none of the romantic songs worked for me (not counting Agal Bagal, which of course isn't a romantic song really). Thankfully, the romance went back to lighthearted territory again before too long. The look on Vishwas's face in the climax action sequence when he sees Kajal chasing the gunda was adorable. It was actually refreshing to see a heroine (even if she was a little hare brained at times) who was being active and driving the story forward rather than standing around crying and/or being pretty much pointless.

Overall, this movie is definitely worth a watch for the laughs and gags, even though post interval these are admittedly a little forced. I wouldn't call this a comedy classic by any means, but it is certainly far better than at least one other recent comedy bollywood film I've seen - Chennai Express. That movie shifted gears to turn all serious as well but it did it in earnest and was intolerable. The performances here are much better as well. I guess the only reason that film did way better than this one was because of the blind devotion to Shah Rukh Khan that even a few of my friends are guilty of. Pity really.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Com Truise - Wave 1 (EP)

I was originally thinking I'd write about Cults, tonight's opening act for Pixies. But they weren't very remarkable. I mean, they were decent but I think I would've enjoyed them more if I'd been more familiar with their material.

So instead, I've decided to post about Com Truise's new EP. Com Truise is an electronic music producer who makes really cool 80s inspired chillwave/synthpop that he calls “mid-fi synth-wave, slow-motion funk”. Whatever the tags, it is really good music. His new EP, Wave 1, is now available to stream for free on pandora (I don't recommend listening there unless you're already a user) and also on soundcloud (see below).

I started listening on pandora (god that site has gone to shit) but the stupid site only let me listen to 4 tracks before demanding that I register before listening to the rest. I really enjoyed those 4 tracks, however, and will probably getting a copy of the EP when I see Com Truise live next week (woot). Check it out:

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Un Pixie Andalou

Thinking about seeing the Pixies tomorrow and it reminded me of the last time I saw them live. It was their Dolittle 20th anniversary tour and they played that classic album in its entirety. But before beginning their set, they screened Un Chien Andalou, the Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí surrealist short film. I had heard of the film before but had never actually seen it. It was quite a trip. Like watching a dream, except none of my dreams are quite so outré. The image that stuck with me the most is the iconic scene where an eyeball being sliced is intercut with a cloud passing across the moon.

At the end of the film, the Pixies started playing tracks from Dolittle but not in the album order. Debaser, the opening track from Dolittle whose lyrics are based on Un Chien Andalou, came somewhere in the middle that night. Here it is now in a fan video edited with scenes from the film itself:

Btw, the new Pixies EPs are pretty good. Not groundbreaking but decent. I prefer EP1 over EP2. Can't say how they compare to old Pixies though since I've actually not listened to them much aside from Dolittle. Only went to see them last time because Fuck Buttons were opening the show.

Monday, 10 February 2014

The Floozies

So funk won the day and I went and saw The Floozies on Saturday night. The opening acts were decent and godawful, respectively. Seriously, the second opener who was from Detroit made me want to tear my ears out. I would have run out for the duration of his set if it weren't bloody cold outside. As it was, I betook myself to furthest corner from the stage and tried to occupy myself with reading random stuff on my phone while my innards were getting pounded by the pointlessly heavy bass.

However, The Floozies made up for it big time with a really rocking show. They're two brothers, a drummer and a producer/guitarist/frontman, who play some really cool retro sounding but still original electro-funk that's a whole lot of fun, especially live. They also brought in a guest saxophonist who I think should become a part of the band because he took the music to another level. The show was sold-out and I didn't see a single person who wasn't at least moving around a little if not straight out shaking it. It was a little disappointing to see the lack of appreciation for the drummer and the saxophonist in the second half of the set, when the music was less danceable than in the beginning. I personally enjoyed this part a lot and found it much more interesting. Not that dancing to the funkiness wasn't fun, but I like a little depth to my music. Overall, a very enjoyable show and I would definitely go see them again if I get the chance. No regrets on my choice for the evening.

Here's one of the best tracks from their newest album, which incidentally is available for free download here:

Sunday, 9 February 2014

O Saathi Re (Omkara)

Had a long day (went out in the evening and then had to work all night afterward), so am too tired to write up a more than a quick post today. I want to write about the band I saw, but I can't do them justice in a hurry. So instead, have another gorgeous song from Vishal Bhardwaj. This is one of the best, if not THE best, duet I've heard in recent times. Achingly beautiful.The translation is again courtesy my best friend K:

O Saathi Re (sung by Shreya Ghoshal and Vishal Bharadwaj, music by Vishal Bharadwaj)

O saathi re din doobe na
Aa chal din ko roke
Dhoop ke peechhe dauDen
Chhaanv chhuen na
O saathi re
O saathi re din Doobe na

O my companion/ friend, let the day not sink
Come let us stop the day
Run after the sunlight
Never touch the shade
O my friend
O my friend, let the day not sink

Thaka thaka suraj jab nadi se hokar niklega
Hari hari kaayi pe paanv baDha to fislega
Tum rok ke rakhna 
Main jaal giraaun
Tum peeTh pe lena 
Main haath lagaaun
din Doobe na

When the tired sun runs down by the river
If he steps on the green, green moss, he will slip
You stop him there, I'll throw in the net (fishing net)
You take it on your back, I'll give you my hand (to haul the net in)
The day mustn't end

Teri meri atti patti
daat se kaati katti
Re jaiyyo na 
O peehoo re
O peehoo re, na, jaiyyo na

This quarrel of yours and mine (the words atti-patti don't mean anything, but are implying a playful fight)
Biting fingers in katti
Oh don't go away
O song bird, 
O song bird, no, don't go away

(You know, like when kids fight, they say katti, and sometimes its done by biting the tip of your little finger and saying - katti, go away, i won't talk to you... but of course you only say katti to your friends.)

Kabhi kabhi yun karna 
Main Daantun aur tum Darna

Do this sometimes too - I'll scold and you get scared

Ubal pade aankhon se 
MeeThe paani ka jharna

A waterfall of sweet water spills out of your eyes
Tere kohre badan mein 
Sil jaaungi re
Jab karwat lega 
Chhil jaaungi re

I'll get sewn into your dark body
When you turn (in sleep) I will be flayed

Sang le jaaunga
I'll take you with me 

Teri meri angni mangni
Ang sang laagi sangni
Sang le jaaun 
O peehu re 

This union of ours (the words angni-mangni don't mean anything, but ang means body and mangni is engagement)
My companion is against my body 
I'll take you with me
O my songbird

O saathi re din Doobe na
Aa chal din ko roken
Dhoop ke peechhe dauDen
Chhaanv chhuen na
O saathi re

And here's the video which makes me want to watch the movie right NOW. The sequence in the beginning is so beautifully shot.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Choices Choices

After a loooong break from live music - over 8 months which is an eternity to a live music junkie like me - it's finally time to get back on the wagon, starting with this weekend. But, I'm faced with a somewhat hard decision on which of two shows to go to tomorrow night.

On the one hand, there's a local electro-funk duo that I'd never heard of before today but whose show seems like an awful lot of fun. On the other, there's a talented lo-fi shoegaze band from England whom I'm equally unfamiliar with but people whose taste I sort of respect seem to listen to a lot.

I listened to and watched some youtube videos of both and while they're both pretty good, right now I'm leaning towards the former simply because I want to go out and dance my ass off. But then again, they're a local band and although they seem to be on the cusp of becoming big, chances are I'll get to see them live again by and by. Same can't be said for the other band who might probably never come this way again.

This conundrum would have never been if I hadn't completely forgotten about band B's show being tomorrow night. Band A actually played tonight as well but I passed on it because it was too cold to go out. To think I could've easily had my cake and eaten it too. Argh.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

I'll report back tomorrow on which show I finally chose. Should be a good time either way.

Bekaraan Redux

Here's a better translation of the song Bekaraan by my brilliant friend K (Thanks dodo!):

Bekaraan hi bekaraan  (at first its "hi" then its "hai")
 aankhein bandh kijay na  
Dubne lagey hai hum 
 saans lene dijay na
Ek zara chehra udhar kijay inayat hogi
Aap ko dekh ke badi der se meri saans ruki hai

Endless, limitless 
 Are your eyes, close them please
I have begun to drown
 Let me breathe, I beg...
Oh God! 
Just turn your face a little that way, it will be a kindness
Seeing you, my breath has halted for far too long
(Lillah is an exclamation, not la ilaha illallah, the declaration that "there is no god but allah"!) 

Ek zara dekhiye toh 
 aapke paaon tale 
Kuch toh atka hai kahin, 
 Waqt se kahiye chale 
Udti udti si nazar 
 mujhko chu jaaye agar (not "aa gaye")
Ek taslim ko har baar meri aankh jhuki hai
Aap ko dekh ke badi der se meri saans ruki hai

Would that you'd look, 
 under your feet, 
perhaps some something is stuck... 
 Tell time to move on
If that breezy, flightful glance
 Touches me and brushes by
For one tasleem each time my eyes are lowered
Seeing you, my breath has halted for far too long

tasleem - said at the end of the muslim prayer - is also the greeting wishing someone peace, from where you get the "salaam", short for "assalam valaikum".  When you say salaam to someone, which is a salutation in this context, you lower your eyes.

Aankh kuch laal si hai 
 raat jaage toh nahi
Raat jab bijli gayi
 darr ke bhaagey toh nahi 
kya laga honth tale 
 jaise koi chot jale
Jaane kya sochke iss baar meri aankh jhuki hai
Aap ko dekh ke badi der se meri saans ruki hai

Your eyes are slightly red
Have you/ they been up all night?
When the lights went off at night
You didn't run away in fear, did you?
What is that under your lip
Like some burning bruise?
Who knows with what thought this time my eyes are lowered
Seeing you, I have stopped breathing for far too long

Bekaraan hai bekaraan 
Aankhein bandh kijay na
Dubne lagey hai hum 
Saans lene dijay na

Aankhein teri bekaraan (aankhein bandh kijay na)
Your eyes are endless (please close your eyes)

Aasman hi aasman (aankhein bandh kijay na)
Endless as the skies (please close your eyes)

Bekaraan hai bekaraan 
Aankhein bandh kijay na
Dubne lagey hai hum 
Saans lene dijay na

Friday, 7 February 2014

On Persuasion and Acting as a Means of Escape

I reread one of my favourite Jane Austen novels last night - Persuasion - and it struck me that it would actually make a good basis for a hindi movie. It is about two lovers who are separated for a long period and finally come back together. Sound familiar? Mausam minus the bits that made that movie tedious and overly melodramatic (in fact, when I tried to imagine who to cast in a hindi adaptation of Persuasion, Shahid and Sonam were the first names that popped into my head). There's drama here too, but of a more understated, more domestic variety.

What especially appeals to me is that the story is told from the woman's point of view. Makes it easy for one to relate and put one's self in her shoes. Which is something that almost all the books that I love coming back to time and time again have in common. A character I can empathize with and play act in my own head as I read. This, along with something I read recently about how acting a can be a means to express one's self while hiding behind a character, has me wondering what it would be like to try my hand at acting on an amateur level.

Never really considered it before since I have a bad case of stage fright and shyness in general. But, if I don't have to be myself on stage, then maybe it won't be as scary. On the contrary, it could actually be empowering.

My only previous experience with the stage was when I was in a school play ages ago. I started out being cast as one of the leads - the queen, in fact. Then was demoted to a side character with only a handful of lines, and finally ended up being asked to play one of the serving girls who fan the king, with no lines at all. And here's the kicker - I managed to mess up even that role on performance day by laughing at the jokes in the play while fanning the bloody king!

So yeah, dunno if I can actually do any better now, but I figure I'll try to give it a shot anyway. Not on a professional level, mind. Just as a hobby. Now to try and find an amateur theater club of some sort hereabouts. This could actually be fun.

Thursday, 6 February 2014


I really liked the song Bekaraan from 7 Khoon Maaf when I first heard it. As is usual with me when listening to music I paid no attention to the lyrics at all. It was just such a beautiful composition sung so soulfully by Vishal Bhardwaj that I loved it at once musically.

I got curious however, and decided to look up the meaning of the lyrics since my hindi comprehension is only somewhat passable with speech and completely non-existent with singing. Unless I pay very close attention and then I can maybe make out a word here or there. But poetry is more than the sum of its parts, of course. So, thanks to this nicely done translation by another blogger (Thanks, Kanupriya!), I can now appreciate this amazing song so much much more. And can say to the song itself, Lillah!

Update: I posted another better (imo) translation of this song here.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014


Stuck at home whilst the skies dumped over a foot of snow on us today. You are probably seeing a lot of snow in Kashmir as well. But you surely have a far far better view than me. Wish I could visit Kashmir. Someday perhaps. So many places to see and so much to do still. 

Am in a contemplative frame of mind today. Been tossing around the idea of writing a poem or piece of some sort using winter as a metaphor. A certain phrase has been stuck in my head and I want to make something of it -

lost in layers

Came to me in the shower a few days ago (shower along with the time in bed before falling asleep seem to be the most fertile times for my imagination..dunno why) and I want to write something with it as inspiration but am too scared and lazy to put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard. Now my mind is wandering again thinking about how sad it is that no one really writes handwritten notes anymore. But that's another ramble for another day. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Daft Punk

Just got done listening to their latest album, Random Access Memories, for the first time. Have mixed feelings about this one. For one, it is very un-Daft Punk-like. They wanted to explore something new, I guess, which is all well and good. But the result is such a mixed bag. Parts of it were really good, and some were alright, but others were just too cheesy. And not cheesy in a good way like some of their older music is. I'm all for retro sounding, cheesy music as long as there's also some aspect to it that takes the music forward, but I found none of that here. The cheesiness was so bad, especially in a couple of songs with very earnest sounding lyrics, I almost couldn't listen anymore.

The odd thing is this record is obviously meant to be listened to as a whole, but I don't think I will ever listen to it all the way through again. The stand out tracks for me were:

Give Life Back to Music - Recognizably Daft Punk sounding track but with live instrumentation as opposed to samples. Pretty fun and groovy overall.

Giorgio by Moroder - Absolutely loved this - highlight of the album for me for sure.

Get Lucky - It has single written all over it. Chill and danceable with a catchy hook.

Doin' It Right - Nice collab that takes the best of both worlds and makes an enjoyable whole. Panda Bear's very distinctive vocal style really works here. And speaking of Panda Bear, I highly recommend checking out his album Person Pitch, if you haven't already. One of my all time favourite chill out albums.

Contact - Most old school anthemic track on the album. Perfect closer.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Dhating Naach

Damn this dhating naach step! It looks so simple but when I try to do it I keep fucking it up. But I will persevere and master it one day! It is a fun song to dance to though.

Interesting mix of this song and Gandi Baat for the Star Guild awards performance. Couldn't really enjoy it thanks to the awful editing. Why must they ruin a good performance with stupid freeze frames and sweeping camera angles and such? It's all very well for performances by stars who can't really dance well, but a Shahid Kapoor act needs no such trickery imo. Still parts of it that they let us see did make me go wow. Just wish I could catch a live performance someday. Wonder if you will perform at IIFA this year. I know you're hosting. Either way those ticket prices are way too exorbitant. I can fly to India and back for less ffs.

Anyway, back to dhating  dhating dhating dhating dhating dhating dhating naach!

Ooh I think I see now why was messing up the step before. The bent leg is behind and the straight one is ahead. I shall try again in the morning. It will be a good way to start the day/week :)

Sunday, 2 February 2014

On bad movies and good directors

Just got done watching yet another blah movie of yours, Shahid. Third one in a row. Makes me sad, dude. You clearly have talent. But just not for choosing the right script seemingly. Maybe you should get someone else to do that for you. I dunno, man.

I am glad that you're working with Vishal Bhardwaj again. He ought to be able to get the best out of you. I still haven't seen Kaminey in full. Just clips and songs so far (I'm saving it for last with good reason). But it definitely looks like your best work. So I'm really looking forward to catching Haider on the big screen when it releases. I hope it will have a wide release so I don't have to drive too far to see it.

Also speaking of Vishal Bhardwaj, I mean to devote an entire post to him but only after I watch Kaminey and his other films. However, just based on the little I've seen (and heard! the man composes some great music as well) of his work and this one interview of his that I read, I have immense respect for him already. And I'm totally jealous of you for having access to him to pick his brains and learn from him. I hope you appreciate your good fortune in this regard.

I shall go listen to the title track from Kaminey now before I read myself to sleep. It's become a nightly ritual for me. Love love love the lyrics and the way Vishal has sung it.

Kabhi zindagi se maanga, pinjre mein chaand la do,
Kabhi laanten deke, kaha aasmaa pe taango

Side note: I say nightly but it's almost dawn. Yikes. There goes my hope that this week I will finally turn my schedule around and stop staying up all night. I should just resign myself to my natural state of night owl-itutde already.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Criterion again

I'll keep this one short and simple. Just watch:


"Kurosawa has the ability to bring things out of you that you never knew were there. It is enormously difficult work, but each picture with him is a revelation. When you see his films, you find them full realizations of ideas, of emotions, of a philosophy which surprises with its strength, even shocks with its power. You had not expected to be so moved, to find within your own self this depth of understanding."

— Toshiro Mifune on Akira Kurosawa

This quote came up on my Facebook feed today thanks to Criterion (great collection of cinema from around the world, in case you haven't heard about it). Do you like Kurosawa? What is your favourite of his films? Mine used to be Rashomon. But right at this very moment I'm leaning towards Ikiru. Still love Rashomon though and Seven Samurai too, of course, but there's just something about Ikiru that resonates with me today.

Still haven't seen any of his later works though. Should get around to doing that sometime...


Edit: This description doesn't really apply anymore (I'm still writing randomly as before but not addressing it to anyone in particular now). But I shall leaving it here for posterity as a reminder of how it all started. 

So what is this blog all about? Glad you asked.

Basically, this is going to be a blog addressed to Shahid Kapoor. Yeah, I know you'll probably never read this but still...ok, let's say pretend addressed to, if that makes you me feel better.

Also I'm calling myself shanotic. That's meant to be a play on shanatic. As in I'm not a shanatic. 

"So wait," you say, "are you then making a blog to diss me if you're not a fan?" 

Not at all. I'm just too old and not silly enough to count myself a fanatic/shanatic/whatever. No unconditional love here, I'm afraid. However, I do find you fascinating and find myself mildly obsessing over you lately. At around the same time, I took it into my head to give writing a go (for personal reasons I won't go into here and now), but I find it hard to keep a diary which no one will read. I need an audience, you see, even if it is only an imaginary one. That is where you come in.

Even though these posts/letters are purportedly addressed to you, chances are they'll say more about me than you. I do, however, mean to try and post as little as possible about myself and keep the focus on general topics, and also some related to you and your work. Hopefully, this will gain me an actual audience for this blog, by and by. And if it does do that, a word of warning to whoever reads this - this is not the place to find news/photos of Shahid Kapoor. Plenty of other places out there on the interweb to serve your needs (and mine, too ;)) in that regard. 

So, dear Shahid, prepare yourself for a lot of rambling to/at/about you. 

And before I wrap up this intro post, let me take a moment to thank you for a couple of things: 
a) for the inspiration to finally create a damn blog, however silly it might be, and 
b) for helping me better my hindi understanding skills.

I was going to say brush up my hindi in general, but I bet I will still suck at speaking it. But hey, at least I can follow it better now thanks to watching your movies and countless interviews, which has, in turn, lead me to an avenue of cinema (bollywood) that I hadn't really explored much heretofore due to the language barrier (a side note here - some specimens of said cinema appear to be quite superior to your own output, but more on that later). 

So again, thank you Shahid Kapoor (shamelessly trying a little SEO in the hopes that maybe you'll find this blog one day...a girl woman can dream, right?)