A Long Time Ago On a Darshan Door Door Away

As a double-digit kid (just because I hate the word tween) in the early 90s, my pop culture started diverging from most of my peers. The reason was that my father was an early adopter of technology…I had a computer at home when ‘Computers’ wasn’t even a subject at school (I’m talking about the BW era…Before Windows, not Black and White – the display was neon green like the Matrix); and we got cable TV in 1992 (when it had around 5 channels, I don’t really remember very clearly).

I went into all of this to make one short point. I pretty much missed out on a lot of the 90s Doordarshan experience. We still watched Chitrahaar for some time, before Philips Top 10 happened. And I did watch Chandrakanta, Alif Laila, Jungle Book and all the other Hindi dubbed anime (yes they were all Japanese) with title tracks by Gulzar and Vishal Bhardwaj (credited only as Vishal). But I had only second hand knowledge of stuff like Shaktimaan (all you need to know – Tamraj Kilvish, “Andhera Kayam Rahe” and “Sorry Shaktimaan!”), Raja Aur Rancho (all you need to know – Rancho is a monkey…or was it Raja?) and all the rest of DD Metro (all you need to know – Super Hit Muqabla).

[Totally Irrelevant Aside – While we are talking of DD shows that I only have second hand knowledge of, let us veer for a moment towards Tahkikaat. As you all know, this 13 episode whodunit starred the director of Guide, Teesri Manzil and Jewel Thief alongside the future director of Mudda – The Issue, Pappu Can’t Dance Saala and I M 24. But what you probably haven’t given any thought to, is the fact that Tehkikaat was actually written and directed by Karan Razdan. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, here’s a visual…

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He also wrote and directed the show Rajani and was married to its star Priya Tendulkar for some time. He went on to directing films as well and his filmography as director includes such gems as Hawas, Girlfriend, Souten – The Other Woman and Eight-Shani.]

In short, I knew Tara better than I knew Shanti.

tarashanti.jpg

I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

Over the course of the 90s, more and more people around me started getting cable but as I went off to college at the turn of this century (just because I hate the word noughties) I mostly forgot all about TV (with all the free internet access who needed TV?).

Therefore, I didn’t even have second hand knowledge of an amazing gem that aired on DD starting in 2002. Also, the show was a huge failure so there was hardly anyone talking about it (then or now). It ran for only 90 episodes (Wikipedia says 52 but YouTube has 91, including one special preview episode) which seems like a big deal until you take into account that Shaktimaan began 5 years before it and ended about 2 years after it (about 500 episodes or close to 10 years).

[Another Totally Irrelevant Aside – We’re not even going into the comics, animated series or merchandising opportunities that Shaktimaan generated…as far as I know, Shaktimaan was the last huge success that Doordarshan had.]

But why are we talking about Shaktimaan? What about that failure of a show that I just called a gem? I’ll get to that presently, o rhetorical device. You see after the grand success of Shaktimaan, a 40-plus Mukesh Khanna thought that he was the reason for Shaktimaan’s popularity among kids (when in fact it was completely the other way round…anybody from the cast of Mahabharat could have played Shaktimaan successfully, including Gajendra Chauhan…ok maybe not him, or that Vidur guy).

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Even she would make a great Shaktimaan, with all her rotating experience.

So of course he decided that the only thing he could do to further his career now (apart from becoming a BJP supporter) was to star as yet another superhero. And thus the Brahmand ka Yoddha (Warrior of the Universe), Aryamaan came into existence. It is a testament to the quality of the show that this real life origin story is actually more interesting than the in-universe origin story of Aryamaan…which basically boils down to good King and wife have the prophesied messiah child whose life is threatened by evil stepmom causing exile during which he is trained by great wise old man.

kiran

Played by Kiran Kumar who is only 11 years older than Mukesh Khanna.

This origin story goes on for an excruciating 20 odd 20 minute episodes, all of which open with a 3 minute opening title/song sequence followed by the same 3 minute voice over introduction to the universe accompanied by bad 3D animation of every place and organization you are likely to encounter through the entire duration of the series, even if a lot of it is not going to feature in the episode you’re currently watching. These 6 minutes remain common to every single episode, even though the intro ends with a lead in to the beginning of the first episode. So the ending of the intro doesn’t make any sense in episodes 2-90, but they had already recorded it…so. Yeah.

If only their audience was not illiterate (or hated reading), they could have used some sort of text floating off at an angle into space to provide the expositional details…like they did with the opening credits. You know, something completely original, like the show itself.

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They could have called it a scrawl or something.

It’s a show about a “young” warrior who belongs to a desert planet in a galaxy far, far away (presumably a long time ago as well), who is prophesied to bring balance to the universe. One of his companions is a supposedly adorable little droid robot who talks only in blips and bloops.

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These are the droids no one has ever looked for.

He fights against an evil syndicate that seeks to control the whole galaxy starting with gaining a trading monopoly over some sort of space mining. He is trained by a wizened old man (about 9 centuries old) called Hoshin, who believes in signs and prophecies and magic and talks in grammatically unsound sentences. He even goes to a sort of galactic assembly place that has representatives from all the planets and systems in individual pods that float up when they have to speak. And he fights using some sort of photonic sword or something.

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This image has not been created using a Facebook filter.

So it was nothing like anything the world had ever seen before.

Yeah, ok…I am only writing about Aryamaan because the Force has Awakened across the world (thought not yet in India thanks to Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani) and it is, to use a word with a very specific Indian meaning different from its actual meaning, ‘inspired’ by Star Wars. But to be completely fair to Aryamaan, it wasn’t really a straight ripoff of the Star Wars films.

Because if it had been…it would have been a much better show. Even Attack of the Clones stretched out over 90 episodes would be a much better show than what Aryamaan: Brahmaand Ka Yoddha ended up being.

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If you look closely, Kiran Kumar is crying in this scene…about what his life has come to.

After watching some 30 odd episodes of the thing on YouTube (you can watch it here if you’re into masochism), I have hit upon some of the reasons for the spectacular failure of this completely original sci-fi fantasy space opera and they fall broadly into three categories. (I have given the categories really original names, too!)

III – Revenge of the Shit

Rohit Shetty and Sanjay Leela Bhansali (I am never going to forgive you guys and your shitty films for delaying Episode VII by a week) are living proof that you can get away with making absolute, utter shit and still be a really successful filmmaker/creator. Because a lot of times, what really matters is not whether you’re making shit…but whether you give a shit about what you’re making.

If you make shit without giving a shit, the shit is going to hit the fan and come back to bite you in the ass…and then you’ll be in deep shit. I call this the Revenge of the Shit Principle™.

And boy did the people behind Aryamaan not give a shit. If you look at the finished product, it seems that everyone involved with the project (with the possible exception of Mukesh Khanna) was just phoning it in, because they were getting the money anyway. Not a single technical department on this production really had any fucks to give about the quality of work they were churning out.

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Even the costume guys didn’t give a shit that the hero looks like a blimp.

The visual effects suck more than a really promiscuous vacuum cleaner. The sets (that are mostly just matte/green screen replaced with badly made 3D models) look worse than a school project made by a 5th grader with no talent for arts and crafts.

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I. Can’t. Even.

Whenever they show stars (which is quite often, considering it’s a show set in space), it’s the same still image featuring the constellation Orion (as seen from Earth) very prominently…and for some unscientific reason they twinkle. And not like they twinkle on earth – they go out and come back into existence every half a second or so.

Plan 9 From Outer Space looks way better than what these people turned out more than 40 years later with around double the budget. [Note – To normalize the difference between a film and a show, budget here refers to approximate money spent per minute of final content.] And Plan 9 has been called the worst film of all time many times. (Mostly by people who haven’t seen Khooni Dracula.)

This would be bad enough, but compounding this problem is the fact that it was 2002, around a decade after the Great Liberalization that was retroactively put into place by Hon. Shri Narendra Modiji’s government. A lot of people now had access to cable TV (and through it, international shows) and Hollywood movies regularly played in theatres even outside the metros (including the remastered original trilogy and the prequels). When someone has already seen stuff like Mahashaktimaan, Harry Potter Aur Parasmani and Mayavi Talvaar in the theater, you can’t impress them with Mukesh Khanna holding a tubelight in front of a papier-mache background.

II – Attack of the Clichés

Clichés are not just lazy forms of storytelling…they are in fact vampiric entities from the Imaginary Realm that came into existence the day the first story was told and brought someone joy. They exist only to sap all the joy out of stories and subjugate all of humanity and doom us to a joyless existence of unoriginal, irritating stories. As such, they are the sworn enemies of everything that is good in the world.

And every cliché from the worst possible sources makes an appearance in Aryamaan. It’s like someone distilled the essence of the worst of B-grade 80s Bollywood, blended it with every problem in Indian television, sprinkled some heavy-handed mythological references and then somehow found a way to amplify all of that crap all the way up to 11.

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Sometimes all the way up to eleventy five!

Jealous evil stepmother queen; helped in her plotting by an overtly ominous minister who dabbles in medicine and magic and somehow retains his position despite being obviously evil; good king oblivious to everything except what is explicitly stated; menacing business guy who wants to control everything and doesn’t lose any deals despite being a dick to everyone; messianic child who everyone wants to kill but escapes through the machinations of a goody-two-shoes mother…let’s just stop right here, because even mentioning clichés negatively just makes them stronger and then one day they will all gather enough power to subjugate all of humanity. We have to stop that from happening.

The acting is horrible, the storytelling is awful, the pacing is glacial, the plotholes are plentiful and the characters have about as much depth as a puddle of piss on a flat surface. And then there is the language…the heavily Sanskritised Hindi that they chose to use would have only made sense if the target audience was limited to Hindi teachers and BJP spokespersons.

But the worst thing about it is that there is almost no actual action or comedy in the show. Yes, a show about a space warrior has no action…a show meant primarily for children has no comedy. The experience is kind of like if you went in to watch The Force Awakens but ended up seeing Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo.

Prem_Ratan_Dhan_Payo

Now I kind of want to watch this version.

I – The Phantom Menace

But sometimes, even when everything else is all right…there is one problem that is either invisible to everyone, or no one is willing to point out. And that problem is alone a menace to the success of the project. Aryamaan had one such Phantom Menace…Mukesh Khanna in the lead role.

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Worse than Jar Jar.

In conclusion, Aryamaan is a sad, pathetic attempt by a man in the throes of midlife crisis to try and be a hero for little kids. It is sort of, but not really a ripoff of Star Wars…but you’d be better off watching a spinoff series about the adventures of Jar Jar Binks and his Ewok sidekick than sitting through this show.

But there is one episode of this show that is sublime art. It is a tragic study of the differences between the expectations that people have from their lives and how reality turns out. It is a story of the folly of men and how all the best laid plans come to naught. It is the special preview episode that they made fully expecting that they had another Shaktimaan on their hands. Watch it with the knowledge that you never even knew that this show existed…and it will definitely be a better experience than watching Dilwale.

Of Sequels, Franchises and Gunmaster G-9

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away (from the one in which Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is set) I did a post on this blog stating that I intended to write about Surakksha (the awesome debut of the awesome Gunmaster G-9 played by the awesome Mithun Chakraborty) but that stupid #MyChoice #VogueEmpower video distracted the hell out of me.

I ended that post with a promise that the post on Surakksha would get written once I was done watching Wardat, the sequel.

It has been almost two months now, and the two of you who took me on my word and were waiting for that post would have forgotten about it by now. But now that I have reminded you again, you might actually wonder, “Does it really take two months to watch a Mithun film easily available on Youtube?”

To that I answer not at all. I watched Wardat within a week of posting that. To which the rhetorical you that I made up for the purposes of this long winded nonsensical exchange would retort “What has he really been doing for two months?”

This…

Mithun on Boat with Girls

Yes, not just this fake conversation or this article, but the entire universe had been leading up to this moment when I could use this GIF.

I wish. I could never be as cool as the Gunmaster.

I actually never got around to actually fulfilling my promise of writing about Surakksha, because I started thinking of doing a combined article on both the films but then I lost my way and started doing other things. (‘Other things’ also includes a lot of things that don’t have hyperlinks.)

So am I finally doing my promised post on the weirdly spelt Surakksha? Or is this the combined article about both the Gunmaster films?

Well, it is both…but neither.

What do I mean by that? Let’s begin…

Opening Titles of Wardat

This is the promised post on Surakksha, because I will be using GIFs from the film throughout. (Except for the one you just saw, which is from Wardat.) This is also the combined article about both the Gunmaster films, because I will be briefly talking about them. So it is both…but it is neither, because that is not what this post is going to be about.

Before I started writing, I did a quick Google for Gunmaster G-9. Because obviously Gopi Codename G-9 is the big daddy of all cult favorites among retro/B-grade Bollywood fans and a lot has been said about him already…and I didn’t want to repeat stuff.

The top page didn’t show up a lot of content…apart from the movie’s Wikipedia page there were two links to the title song on youtube, one link to download the song and one for the lyrics, one blog on Hindustantimes.com and a Podcast about the G-9 films and Guru on Beth Loves Bollywood. Going deeper revealed more blogs that had written about the films including Memsaab Story. Waitaminat! Why am I giving all these foreigner blog links when the Glorious Leader has led us all out of shame and into pride for the motherland? Where are the Indians writing about Gunmaster G-9? Well here you go.

If you clicked on those links, then you are up to date about the Gunmaster G-9 films. Everything else you need to know is in this GIF…

Gunmaster G9 Intro

If you, like a patriotic non-anti-national citizen of Bharat who hates Greenpeace, clicked on the Indian blog links I gave up there and read through that guy’s review of Wardat, you would be under the assumption that there is a third G-9 movie called Sahhas. On the surface it checks out. There’s the weird spelling with a random extra letter. It’s directed by the visionary Ravi Kant Nagaich. It stars Mithun with a totally new female lead (Rati Agnihotri). The music is Bappi Da. It even has Jagdeep as the unfunny comic sidekick to Mithun.

But as soon as the movie begins you’ll notice that this can’t be a G-9 film…because the opening credits are a totally boring montage of Bombay and not the dazzling brilliance you expect from G-9. So Sahhas comes close, but is not really the third G-9 film. Which brings me to the point if this article…where are the Indian franchises?

If one takes a look at Bollywood’s major releases over the last decade or so, we have really taken to the Hollywood penchant for sequels. In fact it is probably the defining trend of present day Bollywood alongside South remakes and original films that inexplicably feel like South remakes.

Locust Attack from Wardat

RUN! The South Remakes are attacking!

Just last year we had Dedh Ishqiya, Shaadi Ke Side Effects, Ragini MMS 2, Bhoothnath Returns, Hate Story 2 and Singham Returns. Dedh Ishqiya was probably made on a comparable budget to Ishqiya; and the Hate Story films are both B-Grade in spirit if not in budget, so not much of a difference there. But all the other sequels were definitely bigger in scale than the originals. This year, Tanu Weds Manu Returns has unquestionably become way more of a success than the first movie despite its grammatically questionable title, and ABCD2 is coming out soon (with an A-list cast, while the original had actual dancers who very few people knew).

The reason Bollywood is doing this (and why Hollywood has been doing it forever) is ease of marketing…and I think in India it has a lot to do with the rise of the multiplex (like most trends in Bollywood in this century/millennium). You see, back in the Single Screen 4 shows a day era, movie watching was a much more involved activity. You looked at those tiny posters in the newspaper, chose a film you wanted to see based on random factors like stars and hit songs and how close the theatre where it was playing was and then planned your whole day around which show you chose. Now a lot of moviegoers just turn up at the strategically placed glitzy Box Office in the mall, pick up one of those flyer thingies with all the thousand shows of the seventeen ‘now playing’ films listed on it, try to remember how many stars the Times Of India gave to which film, sometimes ask the guy behind the counter if a film is any good, and choose one conveniently timed film to watch (it is much more casual now as my favorite Film lover and least favorite filmmaker says here). Now this choice is of course made much easier if the name of the film is familiar…and you have liked what you saw before.

So the stupid people who liked the ‘comedy’ of Golmaal are much more likely to watch Golmaal Returns than something called EMI – Liya Hai To Chukana Padega, even though there’s hardly any qualitative difference between the two (I’m assuming…I haven’t seen either). So a sequel is definitely an easier sell than an original movie (and therefore a relatively safer investment in a notoriously fickle industry).

But wasn’t this true even in the age of the single screen? Well it seems like it should be so, but the releases don’t back it up. We did see some sequels out of Bollywood…the earliest example I can find (but not verify) is Hunterwali Ki Beti in 1943 which is probably a sequel to 1935’s Hunterwali…at least it features the original Hunterwali (we’ll come back to Fearless Nadia later). Then of course there were Surakksha and Wardat, the Gunmaster G-9 films and the Sridevi as Ichhadhaari Nagin films, Nagina and its sequel Nigahen. And then there was…Phir Lehraya Laal Dupatta Malmal Ka?

No. The trend really started to take off around 10 years ago with Munnabhai and Kkrish (or however the fuck that’s spelt). Anyway, getting back to the original point, sequels have been getting stronger and stronger for the last decade, but where are the franchises?

Dancer in Forest Club, Surakksha

No they’re not that way, Flashy Man. We looked.

Only the Dhoom films and the Krrish (this is how the fuck it’s spelt) trilogy have been able to go for three films so far with some sort of continuity. Then there are the Golmaal films, Raaz 1-3, the three Murders and the My Friend Ganesha series. They will soon be joined by Hera Pheri (even though the sequel sucked more than a vacuum cleaner), Hate Story (proving that sex and violence sells) and Kya Kool Hain Hum (proving that unfunny sexist raunchy “non-veg” whatsapp forward jokes also sell).

So in the world’s most prolific film industry there are only three big-ticket mainstream franchises with three films so far…and none with more (Dhoom will reportedly cross that threshold soon). On the other hand, big-ticket mainstream Hollywood is hardly anything but franchises now… the top 10 grossers of 2015 so far include Furious 7 (the seventh instalment in the franchise, if you can’t tell from the name), Avengers: Age of Ultron (part of the whole smorgasbord of movies known as the MCU), Fifty Shades of Grey (the first of at least three), Taken 3 (taking a simple premise and stretching it to incredulous limits), The Divergent Series: Insurgent (I’ve never heard of this film but it has a ‘Series’ in its name) and Mad Max: Fury Road (a reboot of a franchise with three films already).

In addition to these we’ve had The Woman In Black: Angel of Death, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, Pitch Perfect 2, Poltergeist and The Human Centipede 3. Also lined up for release this year are Insidious: Chapter 3, Jurassic World, Ted 2, Terminator Genisys, Minions, Ant-Man, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, The Transporter Refueled, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Hotel Transylvania 2, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. Phew.

Jagdeep In Surakksha

They won’t ever stop coming Jagdeep.

By now the five of you still reading this are wondering, when is he gonna get to the point. Well congratulations, you’ve lasted long enough for me to get to it. But to get there we’re gonna go back to where this whole thing started…the Gunmaster G-9 films.

Surakksha has no budget, no narrative structure, crappy special effects, not very impressive dialog, bizarre sequences, elements copied from various Bond films and elsewhere…but by God it is entertaining as hell! Because it also has insane chase sequences involving cars with parachutes, snake attacks, a shark tank, a secret diamond mine, a shadowy organization that tattoos all its minions with its evil mark, an underwater secret lair, a secret atomic weapon using some sort of diamond laser focuser that can alter weather and cause tsunamis, female henchmen (henchwomen? henchpersons?) who have numbers instead of names, a remote controlled robot zombie, a one-handed one-eyed evil scientist, gigantic goldfish/guppies and the swag of a young Mithun Chakraborty.

The randomness and the jarring narrative jumps make it seem like a fever dream and the psychedelic setting and the red lighting in half the locations just adds to that feeling. The edit is bizarre, to say the least, but there are very few moments in the film when its infectious energy doesn’t keep you hooked. And if you really think about it, the title song makes it clear that this film is not set in the real world…Bappi Da clearly and repeatedly sings “Ye jeevan, ye dooniya, saapna hai deewane ka.” (This life, this world, is a madman’s dream.)

Gunmaster G9 Dance

Artist’s Rendition of Swag

But Wardat is a whole different deal. Not really different…in fact it’s actually pretty much the same thing as Surakksha. And that is the problem with the film. It follows the ‘plot’ of Surakksha almost beat for beat (using the word beat for the haphazard awesomeness of Surakksha feels wrong, but that’s the best word we have to describe the thing I’m talking of) and in that sense doesn’t really raise the bar.

It begins better than Surakksha with mysterious locust swarms but soon goes into the same groove we’ve already seen. We have a new secretive disfigured evil scientist mastermind at the head of a shadowy organization working through a better known actor for most of the film with a bizarre sort of science-y sounding masterplan to take over the world which is ultimately foiled by G9 and his friends after some sort of song & dance based contest. No escalation, no real carrying forward of the story…and therefore, despite being pretty much the same film in tone and treatment, Wardat is a huge disappointment after Surakksha.

Mithun and Backup Dancers

Unlike this round robin that never disappoints!

And that’s why there was no third G9 film. If instead of From Russia With Love, Eon films had followed Dr. No with Dr. No Fucking Way…there wouldn’t have been a 23 film franchise and you would have known Daniel Craig as that guy from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

What began with Wardat continues to this day. There is not a single sequel made by Bollywood that is an improvement over the original film. The best sequels only just manage to achieve the same level as their progenitors. Most of them are objectively much much worse…best exemplified by Jewel Thief and Return Of Jewel Thief.

We either take the story and turn it into a caricature of itself (see Dabangg 2) or we go into next generation bullshit (Vaastav’s sequel, Nagina’s sequel, Krrish). In any case, it seems no one in India knows how to write a proper sequel. That is probably why most sequels take the Munnabhai route (using the same characters/actors, but acting like the first movie never happened) or the Bhatt Franchising Method™ (making completely unrelated movies of the same archetypal genre and giving them the same name with numerals…also known as the Saw Method).

Only Dhoom sort of bucks this trend, but it is already sort of tending towards the Bhatt Franchising Method. Because Abhishek Bachchan and Uday Chopra’s characters are the only thing keeping these films in the same continuity, and their roles in the films have gotten progressively smaller and less important with each iteration…as the villains take up more and more screen time, promotional visibility and mindspace. Were ABJr. and Uday Baba even involved in promoting Dhoom 3? Because I only remember seeing Aamir Khan and Katrina Kaif. On that note here’s a totally unrelated GIF because I just realized that there hasn’t been one for a long time…

Aruna Irani Dancing Surakksha

So, when we don’t even know how to write a passable sequel, it seems quite impossible to start thinking in terms of franchises. Well any sort of cohesive continuity franchise anyway. Because the other sort of franchise, where the name is an indication of what to expect from the film rather than a further exploration of the story you’ve seen and liked before, has always been successful…and is much easier to do. Remember when I said I’ll be bringing up Fearless Nadia again…she sort of pioneered this sort of franchise. She starred in Diamond Queen, Toofan Queen, Stunt Queen, Carnival Queen, Fighting Queen, Jungle Queen and Circus Queen; and also Hunterwali, Bambaiwali and Himmatwali. In the same vein were Akshay Kumar’s string of Khiladi films and Govinda’s No.1s.

So Murder, Raaz, Hate Story, Kya Kool Hain Hum, Golmaal, Aashiqui and Dhoom pretty much have the thriller, horror, revenge porn, dirty lame comedy, regular lame comedy, romance and heist-action genres covered. Any script that is roughly in these genres can be made a part of these franchises with zero to minimal changes. These franchises may or may not continue depending on the producers’ will and the audience’s reactions.

Then there is Krrish, which is uniquely placed right now…but when the MCU and the DC films and the other Marvel properties like X-Men and Fantastic Four are churning out films by the dozen and all of them will probably be dubbed into Hindi, Tamil and Telugu (at least) apart from releasing in English across India, it is hard to see a potential audience still existing for Krrish. There is no way Krrish’s pathetic plots can compete with even the worst of Hollywood’s superhero films (If you add all the good parts of the Krrish films and remove all the bad ones, they’re still worse than Spiderman 3 or the Amazing Spiderman movies).

Dry Humping

If Superhero movies are like sex, Krrish is Dry Humping.

The point is, we need a new franchise. Some sort of world building first film…and if that is successful, a proper plan to make it large (that preferably does not involve cheap Indian whisky). I think I am the man for this job. But nobody agrees with me yet. But one day, when I have made some headway in my filmy dreams and when they’ve forgotten what a huge disaster Agent Vinod was, the fat cats of Bollywood will listen to my idea and they will give me the money to turn it into reality.

That day…I will reboot Gunmaster G-9.

“Ye Jeevan Ye Duniya, Sapna Hai Deewane Ka.”

End Title Surakksha

My Choice(st) Abuses!

I was going to write about Surakksha, the awesome debut of the awesome Gunmaster G9 played by the awesome Mithun Chakraborty.

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But as I was about to start writing, I went online (as is my habit…I tend to spend waste some a lot of time before I get anything done) and checked my FB and Twitter feeds (while on that subject…follow me @zudeligumph yo!)…and, as usual, saw people doing what they do best online. Outrage.

What were they outraging about? Something about AAP? One of the many hashtags started by the Outrager-in-Chief Arnab and his minions at Times Now? Against one of the hashtags started by the Outrager-in-Chief Arnab and his minions at Times Now? The Beef Ban? Documentary Ban? Something else banned? Deepika Padukone’s boobs?

Nope, nope, nope and many more nopes. (Except the last one which might be a maybe.)

This time the ire and hyperbole was all around an innocuous sounding hashtag (#mychoice) and this video…

Now since this is a “trending topic” most of what can be said about this video has been said already. There are feminists calling out the video for being superficial and vacuous. Some have interpreted it as an elitist version of faux feminism removed from ground realities, reinforced by the choice of women featured in it. There have of course been those saying that Vogue should be the last people to talk about feminism in general and body image issues specifically. But of course the loudest opponents are the chauvinist men whose key takeaway from this video are the lines about premarital and extramarital sex…who have been saying stuff like “this is what is wrong with feminism” and “equality, not feminism” and “men also shouldn’t be judged for their choices”. [What they forget is that actual feminists are the first people to disagree with this video, feminism is actually about equality and that men have been doing whatever the fuck they want without any woman being able to pass judgment for centuries now.]

And of course there were a few people trying to meekly defend it…it could be a starting point for a conversation (which it certainly has become); any sort of expression against misogyny and sexism in India should be welcome; the only disagreeable “choice” mentioned in the video is “sex outside marriage”; ad hominem attacks on Deepika and Vogue do not disprove the points made in the video. [The fact that Vogue made it doesn’t render the video invalid, but it does make it questionable…it is kind of like a video promoting the idea of a Hindu Rashtra produced by the Owaisi brothers.]

This image is FAKE. Please don't kill me, nuts of either side.

This image is FAKE. Please don’t kill me, nuts of either side.

I agree with a lot of the criticism…and the counterpoints. But I vehemently object to so many people saying all these things about this video. Because you talked about it so much that you made me watch this little piece of shit. And that is two and a half minutes of my life that I will never get back. [As I write this it has more than 3.5 million views, which is around 146,000 man hours person hours wasted on this tripe already.]

If I haven’t made it clear yet, I hate the video. But my hate has nothing to do with the ideas behind it or expressed in it. I hate it because it is a bad fucking video.

It is pretentious as fuck. There is not a strand of novelty in what has been said, how it has been said or the audio-visual treatment of it all. Deepika’s voice acting is horrible (it is monotonous, without any life or sense of purpose in it). It is pretentious as fuck.

And the writing…is just wow. Very early on, we are hit with this gem of a line “To use cotton and silk to trap my soul is to believe you can halt the expansion of the universe.”

shantanu2

But that is nothing compared to the ending…

I am the tree. Not the forest. I am not the snowflake. I am the snowfall. You are the snowflake. I am the universe. Infinite in every direction.

Now that is either something written by a Teenaged Angsty Emo Poet (sing it out like the TMNT theme song, you know you want to) or something Jaden Smith tweeted.

"Unawareness Is The Only Sin, And If You Were Aware You Would Know." - Guru Jaden Ji Maharaj

“Unawareness Is The Only Sin, And If You Were Aware You Would Know.” – Guru Jaden Ji Maharaj

If this video does ‘empower’ anyone, they really needed that empowerment. For everyone else, chill out and move on. It is not worth the time and effort you’re putting into arguing about it.

And for all you smartasses beginning to point out that I have put in time and effort to argue about it right now…well that’s just #MyChoice.

P.S. The post on Surakksha will also get written. Once I’m done watching the sequel Wardat. Meanwhile, enjoy this gif from the film.

6

A List of Cusswords You Can Still (Apparently) Use in Films

You might already be acquainted; but just in case you’re not, let me introduce you to an entity that is formally known as the Central Board of Film Certification (aka CBFC). You can keep calling it that until you get to know it better…when you realize that CBFC does a lot more than just certify films as its name suggests…when you will join the ranks of the millions of friends who know it by the apt nickname ‘Censor Board’.

So the Congress/UPA appointed Pseudo-sickular Hindu-hating Leftist Libtard members of the Board were trying to live up to their ancient glorious nickname by outright denying certification to a film…

msg-messenger

Humein certificate deny karna apne aapko certificate deny karne jaisa hai!

…When the entire Cosmos (especially the ruling dispensation) came rushing to deny the denial of certification. Freedom of speech won. And the movie spawned a hashtag that trended for days on Twitter #BlockBusterMSG.

The Chairperson and a ton of members of the Censor Board resigned, which was a great thing. Because now all these anti-national pseudo-intellectual Commie bastards could be replaced with members full of Nationalistic Pride and Honor. And that is exactly what happened! How do I know? Because the new members were affiliated in some way or the other with either the BJP or one of the many members of the great Indian joint family known as the Sangh Parivar…and anyone who has anything to do with these organizations is so full of nationalistic pride and honor that they keep spilling some on their surroundings constantly.

Now that the Congress cronies who dared oppose Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insaan the Love Charging Messenger of God were gone and replaced by the True Patriots and Champions of the Nation appointed by the Messiah and his council of Apostles, the Censor Board would obviously become an exemplary institution above any possibility of reproach. Maybe we would even start calling it CBFC out of respect again.

Nope.

censor_board_words

Yes, they came out with an official list of words so bad that even films with an A certificate couldn’t use them.

Even though the notice doesn’t say so, let us assume that this list is meant to be exhaustive. So films are free to use the words not in this list!

The English list doesn’t include 4 of George Carlin’s 7 Words You Can’t Say on TV, so they’re fine – Shit, Piss, Tits and Cunt if you were curious. I’m counting Cunt on a technicality…because even though the list proscribes Fucking Cunt it doesn’t mention Cunt without the Fucking qualification, which it does in the case of Dick and Bitch.

So yeah, if you want English curses in your film to pass uncensored, replace all of them with Cunt. Or you can watch an episode of South Park and find hundreds of choice curse words not covered by this pathetic list of 13 that wastes spots on Screw and Pussy (what if the film is talking about the fastening device or a cat?). If you need more options there are many Delhi-Bombay born and raised types who could help you out. Because I am from the Heartland and therefore far more comfortable cursing in Hindi (anyway, it just doesn’t feel like a cussword unless it’s not in the language you grew up cursing in…the visceral feeling of saying Madarchod will never be matched by Motherfucker).

So here’s a list of Hindi cusses the Censor board missed out on its list (because they were too busy pleasing the Senas by including Bombay in the list…or maybe because the only cusswords they knew in Hindi are the ones they heard in Anurag Kashyap’s films) and therefore theoretically you could use in a film.

  1. Chod (I can’t believe they didn’t include this one)
  2. Betichod
  3. Phuphichod, Dadichod, Nanichod, Chachichod or other creative variations on this theme.
  4. Alternate pronunciations of Bhenchod. From the spelling they use, I gather that they don’t want the Bombay pronunciation being used. Some alternatives are – Painchod (Punjabi), Painchod (Haryanvi), Behenchod (UP/Bihar), Baanchod (Bengal) or my personal favorite variant from UP Bahinchod.
  5. Choot
  6. Lauda
  7. Gaand
  8. Tatti
  9. Tatte
  10. Jhaant
  11. Jhaantu
  12. ___________ Ke Chode (Insert any word in the blank. E.g. Angrez ke chode)
  13. Ghashti, Chinaal, Laudi
  14. Certain abusive “torms” (related to sex/when used in sexual terms) like Pelna, Marana, Phaadna, Ghusedna, Ghusana.

NOTE: The Board also proscribes “Double meaning any kind of words”, so I have used words that have only one meaning.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many more where this came from, and the kinds of permutations and combinations that a creative mind could build up out of these would take the collective intelligence of the small-brained people who create such lists, centuries to codify.

STRANGE LOVE Story

Or How I Learned to Stop Liking and Hate The Film DDLJ

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge, better known by the acronym DDLJ, was back in the news again. The almost 20 year old film (God that makes me feel old) recently completed 1000 weeks at Maratha Mandir, the cinema hall near Bombay Mumbai Central Railway Station that is known across India (or maybe the world) only because it has refused to stop showing DDLJ for close to 20 years now.

So why was this film, that is old enough to have voted for Modi in the elections if it was a person, still playing in a theatre? Publicity stunt by the producers/theatre owners? Hell nah! Because it is a cultural milestone! Because it is the definitive romantic story for the post-liberalization generation! Because it is Kareena Kapoor Khan’s (let’s start calling her KKK or K3 or something now) favorite love story of all time! Because everyone and their phupha loves the film!

DDLJ

I was an adolescent (what in today’s bullshit terminology would be called a ‘tween’) small town boy when I first saw the movie and probably really liked it. I say probably because I don’t have a very strong memory of the film beyond the fact that my sister (who was a teen at that time, and a very filmy one…that kind of runs in the family I guess) and all my cousins who were the right age (read impressionable hormonal teenagers) went totally gaga over it. So my overall impression was that it was a fucking great film, the kind that only happens once in a lifetime or some such shit.

I watched the film at least once in the theatre and at least twice or thrice on TV (at least that is how I remember it, but memory can be tricky) before I grew up. I always kind of liked it despite never being an SRK fan.

And then I grew up. I went to college. The internet happened. I developed what the Germans would call a ‘weltanshauung’ of my own. I listened to rock’n’roll. I acted in plays. I read whatever I could (does not include course material…I wasn’t reading much of that). And I saw films.

And became somewhat pretentious...

And became somewhat pretentious…

I saw The Godfather and Shawshank and Casablanca and Shinichin No Samurai and the filmography of Stanley Kubrick. I saw Bandini and Mughal-e-Azam and Deewaar and Sholay. I saw Gunda and Kanti Shah’s Angoor and Superman IV and Battlefield Earth. In short, I saw tons of films.

And then I saw DDLJ again. And it just didn’t feel right. The nostalgic value alone should have made it a lot more enjoyable after so many years…but it wasn’t so. What had happened? I had grown up.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people who are grown up and still think that DDLJ is the greatest love story ever made or that SRK is the best actor to have ever graced the silver screen or whatever the fuck it is that you think about that movie. It’s just that I started seeing things in that movie and things around me inspired by that movie that I just can’t get behind anymore. In fact…these things don’t just make me not like the movie; they make me hate it.

boohoo

There. I said it. I hate DDLJ.

Whoa whoa whoa! Hate is a strong word buddy! Are you sure you want to go there?

Yes I do, rhetorical device.

But what are the ‘things’ you mentioned that have made you hate this film that is universally loved (or at least liked) by Indians across the world?

I’m glad you asked, rhetorical device. Here is a list of 5 things that have made me hate DDLJ.

SRK’s Career

Don’t get your kachchhas in a twist; I’m not going to make any judgmental statements about SRK’s acting skills. Acting, like all art, is subjective and one person’s overplayed melodramatic nonsense is another person’s infectious energetic charm. Hell, there are even some people in this world who like Ajay Devgun’s comic acting (on a totally unrelated note, I refuse to remove that crucial ‘U’ from his surname, unless it is replaced with an ‘A’…a film’s credit roll is not a fucking tweet with a character limit you asshole! Use the vowels! And while I am talking about names that piss me off, SRK should actually be SK…because Shahrukh is a Persian name meaning ‘One with a Kingly Face’ while Shah Rukh is a stupid made up phrase which means ‘King Face’).

But it is an objective fact that SRK wouldn’t have been the megastar that he became had Yash Chopra not convinced him to do DDLJ. This is something even the self-proclaimed King Khan acknowledges. Now before the SRK fans start losing their shit, I do not grudge him his success. I’m just saying had he not become such a huge star we might have lived in a world where Ra.One, Chennai Express and Happy New Year might never have happened. Even his staunchest fans must agree that would have been a much better world to live in.

Just look at his career before DDLJ…yes there was Guddu and King Uncle. But there was also Darr and Baazigar and Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa and Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman. With great stardom comes great responsibility…to earn money for your producers. Hence a Swades or a Chak De happens only once in a while. He lost his thirst for experimentation and gave us years of a career filled with Rahuls and Rajs. And that is a loss for you more than for me, dear SRK fans.

srk pose
The Regressiveness

I don’t know if you’ve noticed it but DDLJ is regressive as fuck! It is patriarchal, parochial and pretend-modern in the worst of ways. These two writers have already covered most of what I would have written under this heading already, so I won’t waste too much time on that.

But I have one more thing to add. That morning after scene where Raj first pranks Simran into thinking she had drunken sex with him and then assiduously assures her that no such thing happened.

kalraatkyahuatha

The reason why it couldn’t have happened…because Raj knows that an Indian girl’s ‘izzat’ is very important to her. The implication being that taking advantage of a drunk white girl would have been perfectly fine for Raj, because if she got drunk she was ‘asking for it’…the only reason Simran is let off with a ‘humorous’ ‘lesson’ is that she is Indian and usually behaves within the bounds set for her by her father. The other implication being that Raj having sex would have been fine, but Simran is a girl in whom the ‘izzat’ of the family resides and hence it is not at all acceptable for her to have sex with a man not approved by her father.

If this double double standard doesn’t make you angry, you are part of the problem (and you probably don’t even realize it while you’re all over social media calling for the wrath of institutional retribution to be unleashed).

And this is just one of many instances in the film.

Karwa Chauth

When one of the reasons is Regressiveness, how can Karwa Chauth be another reason? I’ll tell you how. Because what DDLJ did with Karwa Chauth was not just glamorizing and popularizing a patently stupid belief/practice. [If you agree with me, skip this part. If you’re still reading, yes I called Karwa Chauth stupid. It is patently stupid to believe that one person staying hungry for a day will have any effect whatsoever on another person’s health. The only way your staying hungry is going to prolong your husband’s life is if you can only afford to feed one person and in that case it is lifelong commitment, not a one day festival.]

What DDLJ really did was that it successfully managed to give Karwa Chauth a “modern” makeover.

karwachauth

In a remarkable break from tradition, Simran keeps the fast without being married and subversively keeps it for her boyfriend who is not her fiancé for whom she is ostensibly observing it. But in an even more remarkable running back into tradition’s ritualistic open arms, she feigns fainting to avoid being fed by her fiancé which would have apparently been as good as being married to him (According to belief, the moon knows who fed you that first bite…if you don’t marry him now, the moon punishes you for your infidelity by turning your paramour into a werewolf or something…I don’t know. Since unmarried girls can’t technically enjoy the awesome experience of starvation, there are no rules made for that situation. No one knows how that piece of rock orbiting the earth would react if you tried to trick him).

But even worse, Raj steps up to bat for gender equality and stays hungry throughout the day in solidarity. Some might think it is a good thing. I say it is taking something stupid and making something even stupider out of it. Now every girl who wears a chooda with a bikini on her honeymoon in Thailand wants her husband to be like Raj and fast with her/for her.

The repercussions have been massive.

NRI Pandering

I don’t know if you noticed, but at some point of time in the last twenty years, big budget Bollywood stopped caring about Indians living in India and started caring massively for Indians living abroad (better known as NRIs). They invented an imaginary ‘pardes’ where most people who matter can speak Hindi/Urdu and the rest are evil bastards anyway (except for the wise old men and the women who probably have the hots for the hero…and of course all those white people dancing in the background, they’re cool too). And most of our movies now are at least partially set in this imaginary utopian chimera composed of modern Western facilities and ancient Indian morals. And it all began with…I won’t even complete this sentence.

For Not Having Tom Cruise

Most fans already know that Rani Mukherjee’s husband’s original idea was something quite different. He wanted to make a bilingual megafilm where Raj would have been Roger…played by hold your breath…Tom Cruise!!!

tcdlj

But Daddyji convinced him otherwise. This is how I imagine the conversation went…(NOTE: For best effect, read the Addy lines in a rich spoilt entitled Punjabi brat’s fake accented tone and the Daddy lines in a gruff partially garbled Punjabi uncle’s voice.)

Addy: Bauji main aisi film banaoonga ki the world will sit up and take notice. British guy falls in love with a Punjabi girl while they’re travelling over Europe. But the girl’s father is super traditional and her wedding has been fixed in childhood. So now this gora boy follows all Indian customs and learns the greatness of Indian culture to patao the khadoos Punjabi baap. End mein sab fit ho hi jaana hai! We’ll cast the biggest star Hollywood has to offer in the leading role of a Bollywood film! Tom Cruise ko le lete hain, because I have no idea of how truly insane he is yet and how awkwardly awesome it will seem in the future.

Daddy: Chal phitte muh. Apni desi kudi angrej de hath lag jaugi? Kinni besti ho jaani hai? Munde nu desi bana.

Addy: Lekin Daddy, the whole idea works only if the boy is white!

Daddy: Oye tu mujhe batayega white black? Puttar, angrej nu lega to addhi phillum te teri angreji ho jaani hai…apni audience ko kya samajh aana hai, gai ka ghanta? Munde nu wasternized bana de thoda. Paihe vi to kamaane hai.

Addy: But pops…

Daddy: O shutap. Pops di aulaad. Jaa assistant nu script de change karan waaste.

And in this manner we lost a Punjabi wedding version of Pocahontas/Dances With Wolves/Avatar where the White Man visits the Natives, falls in love with their Princess, learns their customs and practices and ends up proving himself better at being a native than the natives themselves. All hail the White Man!

What we also lost in that moment was a potential filmmaker. I like Adi’s original idea much better than what his father turned it into. (I mean no disrespect to Yash Chopra. He was a fine filmmaker, but I would rather live in a world where the last thing he did was Lamhe.) Who knows what kind of films he might have experimented with if he had been left to pursue his first project as he had envisioned. Maybe NRI films would have been a whole different genre, with many more white people in the casts and more realistic depictions of their reality. (Again I am not talking about films actually made by NRIs for NRIs, I’m talking about the shit Bollywood peddles to them.) Maybe Aditya Chopra would have been a more respectable filmmaker and not the guy who made Rab Ne Bana Di F***ing Jodi.

But maybe I am wrong. And the awesomeness of Tom Cruise romancing Kajol and convincing Amrish Puri while pretending to be Parmeet Sethi’s friend and leading on Mandira Bedi and charming the socks off Farida Jalal, Himani Shivpuri, Satish Shah, Achala Sachdev and Pooja Ruparel…wait what was I saying? Yeah, maybe DDLJ (or Balle Hoo or whatever Adi would have chosen to call it without his father’s interference helping hand) starring Tom Cruise instead of SRK would have been a huge flop…floundering between two worlds but not belonging to either one. And we would still have ended up with Rab Ne Bana Di Sh!tPi$$F***C***C@(&$***erMother***erTits Jodi.

This screenshot has more meaning by itself than the whole movie.

This screenshot has more meaning by itself than the whole movie.

And thus ends my rant on what stands as one of the most successful films of all time in Indian cinema’s history. You may go ahead, brand me a Feminazi Libtard Hater (or whatever is the current fashion on Social Media, it’s hard to keep up because I have an extremely short attention span when it comes to bullshit) and forget about whatever I said, go on enjoying DDLJ, keeping a fast for your wife/husband, hearing a mandolin play out that familiar tune whenever you see mustard fields and being in love with Raj and Simran. You’re probably a happier person than I am.

Of MOM, OMG and Other Randomness

OR

How to Not Write a Blogpost, Especially On A New Blog That Still Doesn’t Have Any Dedicated Readers, Especially When You’re Not Even Regular With Posting Shit On The Blog and Are Posting After Such A Long Time That Even People Who Have Read This Blog Before And Liked It Don’t Remember It Anymore

 

Prologue: The Psychotic Fractal

Me: Must. Write. Blogpost.

Voice in my Head (VimH): It’s been too long. You’re rusty now.

Me: Shut up! I am gonna do it!

VimH: Hahaha! Or as they say now ROFLMAOSPZQY or whatever. You can’t write shit.

Voice in the Head of the Voice in my Head (VimH2): Leave him alone! Let him write!

VimH: Where did you come from? I’m just a disembodied voice in his head! I don’t even have a head for a voice to be in!

Me: This is making less and less sense as it goes on. Let me just get on with the blogpost.

VimH2: Oooh! That’s exciting! What are you going to write about?

VimH3: That’s just stupid. How can you be excited about something you don’t even know anything about?

VimH: He has no idea what he’s going to write about. That’s why he’s inventing all these recursive voices in heads like a psychotic Mandelbrot set or something.

Me: All of you just shut up! I totally know what I am going to write about.

VimHVimH: And what exactly is that?

 

Chapter 1: The Hangal Saga Episode 1: BURN!

hangal-1

Chapter 2: MOM, Mars, Mangal, Milan and Modi

If you have been alive/logged in to FB over the last couple of days you already know that our very own Mangalyaan has entered Mars’ orbit successfully. Even the unpatriotic pseudo-sickular Khangress AAPtard Liberal Pro-Pakistan Beef-eating Nazis had to begrudgingly accept the greatness of this achievement.

But what exactly is the purpose of the Mars Orbital Mission? What is the…er…Mission?

If you believe the Wikipedia article, the mission is a “technology demonstrator” project aiming to develop the technologies required for design, planning, management, and operations of an interplanetary mission. (A rough translation of this would be: “We can send something to Mars, everybody! And we can do it f***ing cheap! So next time you want to send some shit up into space, remember us.”)

The secondary objective is to explore Mars’ surface features, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere using indigenous scientific instruments. But nobody gives a shit about the secondary objective that even sounds so boring compared to “we sent a thing to Mars everybody!”

So, mission accomplished, I guess.

But is that all we wanted? Don’t we want to somehow influence Mangal to decrease its harmful influence on our lives? Don’t we want to put some sort of pressure on that infernal red planet so that it stops dooming the marriageability of normal people by making an appearance in the wrong house in their kundlis? Of course. But we won’t say that out loud because Western scientists make fun of us when we talk about totally real not made up at all important stuff like Rahukaalam and Shani Dosh.

But how exactly do we plan to achieve this real mission of Mangalyaan?

For the answer we must turn to the man who has the answers to all the questions that face India. Der Fuhrer. Our Glorious Leader. Our Lord and Saviour, the Messiah of Bharat in this New Age.

mordor

Yes, the greatest orator that has ever lived in the history of mankind, a man who totally captivated 31% of 66.4% of the entire voting population of India with his amazing speeches, gave yet another amazing speech at the MOMentous occasion…and within it was contained the answer to this question.

“Aaj MOM ka Mangal se milan ho gaya. Aur Mangal ko MOM mil gayi.”

ISRO was actually inspired by this film.

ISRO was actually inspired by this film.

Yes. This is not a mere satellite that we have sent into Mars’ orbit. It’s a MOM (this also provides an answer to how we could reach Mars in a budget less than the film Gravity…Indian MOMs can do everything for far cheaper than you can imagine!)

Now what does a good Indian MOM do when her son starts to enter the wrong houses of people’s kundlis and wreak havoc? She berates him, cajoles him, nags him, emotionally blackmails him, leaves his house to go and live with Shashi Kapoor…does everything she can to bring her wayward son to the right path. Have no fear Mangliks, coz MOM’s got your back, now!

 

Chapter 3: Random Visual Puns From Times Bygone

 

So much better than Ranvir Singh.

So much better than Ranvir Singh.

Iska matlab samjhe Daya?

Iska matlab samjhe Daya?

Kai is algae (that green scum on the water surface) in Hindi

When it is done and Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die. Theek chhe?

When it is done and Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die. Theek chhe?

 

Chapter 4: OMG – TOI shows it’s Assholes!

 

In a distant and forgotten era, a newspaper’s website used to post numerous “photo-essays” dedicated to female celebrities and their body parts. The sole purpose of these “stories” was titillating the people who think the moral fabric of our nation has weakened and have no idea that tons of actual, full on, no holds barred porn is available free of cost on the internet.

They kept on posting these lewd, blatantly sexist and crass articles with impunity for years and not a single Facebook feminist ever said anything about it. But then out of this parochial darkness arose a ray of hope…to fight against objectification and deep-seated misogyny a true champion came forward. And her name was Deepika Padukone.

This proponent of women’s rights did not just emerge when TOI wrote “OMG: Deepika Padukone shows cleavage.” She had been silently waiting for many years to show us all how feminist she really was, but had never got the chance.

She started her career with a double role in Om Shanti Om…playing the beautiful object of the hero’s desire who dies tragically and the person the hero gets to impersonate the object of his desire in a complicated reincarnation-involving revenge drama. She played a double role in another movie, Chandni Chowk to China as two half-Chinese half-Indian twin sisters, one of whom is the beautiful object of the hero’s desire and the other is the inexplicably Chinese-er Suzy a.k.a Meow Meow.

She went on to play a variety of roles in many films including the beautiful object of the hero’s desire in Love Aaj Kal; the beautiful object of the hero’s desire in Housefull; the beautiful object of two characters’ desires and the daughter of a character in Aarakshan; the beautiful temporary object of the hero’s desire who is not suitable because she is too Western and is overlooked for a more “Desi girl” in Cocktail; and of course, the racist caricature beautiful object of the middle aged hero’s desire in Chennai Express.

Of course someone of her standing couldn’t stand by while a stupid newspaper exploited her with a blatantly exploitative headline like “OMG: Deepika Padukone shows cleavage.” So she responded on Twitter with something to the effect of “I’m a woman. I have breasts. Therefore, cleavage. What’s the big fucking deal?”

But such a subtle rebuke (which went viral and made news) wouldn’t be enough for the pig-headed assholes at TOI so she went on to write a detailed and impassioned diatribe against the systematic objectification of all women (especially celebrities) on Facebook. And that’s when she freed us all from the bonds that tied us to the bullshit served up by TOI in its greedy quest for money and power.

All hail Deepika. The voice of feminism. The destroyer of objectification.

 

Epilogue: Ganga Style?

I just did this because I wanted to. I know ‘Gangnam Style’ is ancient history by now and it is too late by far to be jumping on to this memewagon…but whatever. I couldn’t think of a more fitting end to this Blogpost.

3 Reasons Why You Don’t Appreciate Kishore Kumar As Much As You Should

Yesterday was Kishore Kumar’s 85th Birthday…and Google did what it does best and made a Doodle for this occasion.

Pictured: What Google Does Best

And of course Times of India paid tribute to Kishore by posting an article about the Google Doodle paying tribute to Kishore.

Kishore Kumar is best known as one of the greatest and most versatile singers ever to lend his voice to another person in Indian films. But he is also fondly remembered by thousands of fans like me as one of the greatest comic actors India has ever produced. He was also a director, producer, writer and music composer with some amount of success to his credit.

Imdb lists 760 films in which he has been credited as playback singer, 94 acting credits, 8 credits each for direction and music composition and 5 credits each as producer and writer. But for all of these credits and all the adulation he receives even today from Indians of all ages, I still feel he is vastly underrated and underappreciated in our country.

What?

Did I just say that Kishore Kumar is underrated and underappreciated? Bleeding Google made a doodle about him on his 85th birthday man! All of Facebook posted songs sung by him and wished him a happy birthday as if he were still around to care! In what universe is that underrated and underappreciated?

Ah well, rhetorical device, give me a chance to explain before you lose your shit. (UNRELATED NOTE: Yes, this is the ‘lose’ you should be writing when you don’t mean the opposite of ‘tight’. Because ‘loosing your shit’ would just be diarrhea.) I did not say he is unappreciated…just under, and therein lies the difference.

It is not humanly possible to appreciate this amount of win enough.

It is not humanly possible to appreciate this amount of win enough.

I say this because even though most of us agree that he was an absolutely awesome singer and an amazing comedic actor, we often fail to realize that he was in fact an unparalleled genius and one of the greatest, most epic human beings to ever grace this planet with his presence. Yes, that is the level of appreciation he should be getting…not “I love listening to Kishore Da songs” or “He was really funny in Padosan.”

Here are the reasons why I believe that Kishore Kumar was so full of WIN that you are not even beginning to do him justice by posting a “Top 10 Romantic Songs” list.

(Note: I have heard that list based articles are inexplicably more successful on the internets than articles written like normal people…that is why I am disguising something which has actual content as something which mostly does not.)

1. The Mimicry

kishore-kumar-naughty-boy

First a disclaimer – the word mimicry has an extremely bad rap in India, thanks to the lakhs of substandard comics/comedians over the ages who have done nothing but imitate stylized forms of the mannerisms of certain famous actors in the name of comedy. More often than not, it is a way to cover up extremely poorly written jokes with something familiar. But these bad examples and the baggage associated with this word in your mind should be kept aside at least for the duration of this entry.

I don’t know if you have ever noticed this, but most singers have a very distinctive voice. When you hear a Mukesh song, you instantly know it is Mukesh (and when you hear a Nitin Mukesh song you instantly know it is someone trying their darnedest to sound as close to Mukesh as possible). This is true for all playback singers…Lata always sounds like Lata, Asha sounds similar but uniquely different enough, Rafi sounds like Rafi, Sonu Nigam sounds like someone told him that he sounds like Rafi, Kumar Sanu sounds like he’s scowling all the time, Udit Narayan sounds like he’s smiling all the time, S.P. Balasubrahmanyam sounds like an awesome moustache condensed into audio form, Mika sounds like a superdrunk Daler Mehndi and Yo Yo Honey Singh sounds like someone who clearly doesn’t know how to sing.

But what does Kishore Kumar sound like?

This?

This?

This?

This?

This?

This?

Or this?

If you think all of those voices sounded alike, then you probably can’t tell the difference between Alka Yagnik and Kavita Krishnamurthy. But if you can tell the difference then go ahead and listen to Kishore lending his voice to those same actors in other songs. What you will start realizing is that while every good playback singer’s voice varies slightly depending on the tone and mood of the song, Kishore added a third factor…the actor he was singing it for.

Having a distinctive voice is a great thing for a singer to have (ask Mika, he earns more money than you can imagine just because his voice is extremely distinctive). But playback singing is more than just singing…it is voice acting, it is the act of making people believe that the song is being sung by the person they see on screen and not some other guy in a studio. That is why Mukesh sang almost all Raj Kapoor songs, Rafi sang most of Shammi Kapoor’s, Udit Narayan did Aamir Khan and SP sang Salman’s songs…their voices suited those actors. And that is why Kishore Kumar was the greatest playback singer (emphasis on playback) ever.

Just listen to that last clip again…he keeps going from Kishore Kumar singing for crazy Kishore Kumar pretending to be a girl to Kishore Kumar singing for Pran and back without any cuts or double takes. If that doesn’t blow your mind, nothing should.

2. The ‘Insanity’

Kishore_Kumar_1

There are many stories of Kishore’s extremely erratic and eccentric behavior that are almost legendary now. He had a sign outside his home saying “Beware of Kishore”…and he used it as an excuse after he bit producer director HS Rawail’s hand. Once a producer got an injunction against him to follow the director’s orders on set…he proceeded to drive all the way to Khandala after giving a driving shot because he didn’t hear the director say cut. He once came to a set wearing makeup on only half his face because he had only been given half the payment he wanted for that film. He drove away from his house and a waiting GP Sippy, who followed him all the way to Madh Island…where he refused to recognize Sippy and threatened to call the police. And the next day he turned up at Sippy’s recording session and said that he was out of town the last day. He locked up a financier visiting his house in a cupboard. He wanted to dig a trench around his bungalow, fill it with water and sail gondolas in it. He named his trees and had conversations with them. And above all, he refused to sing for Sanjay Gandhi during the emergency.

But was he certifiably insane…definitely not. His projected (and sometimes seemingly real) insanity was a mask he wore to be able to deal with ‘normal’ human beings. As he said in an interview to Pritish Nandy “I play different roles at different times…for different people. In this crazy world, only the truly sane man appears to be mad.”

The thing is that he found it extremely difficult to connect with most people and used an absurdist sarcastic style to interact with them, to maintain his own comfort. The thing is he might have been a misanthrope based on most of his experiences with life and people. The thing is that this mad clown was actually the real life protagonist of the greatest love story never told. The thing is that he felt betrayed by the world over and over again and chose to deal with it through humor. The thing is that the man might have been deeply sad and reclusive, but he never even once thought that he should talk about it seriously…to anyone.

Read that interview in full if you haven’t already. It is a paraphrasing of the whole life and worldview of Kishore Kumar. And if you look closely you will see what they mean when they say that there is a fine line between insanity and genius…and you will see Kishore Kumar somersaulting along that line and not giving any fucks about what you think.

The man’s whole public life was basically a performance. A performance on par with his insane antics in films like Half Ticket and Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi. Most people can at the most aspire to a life that leaves a lasting impression on a few generations to come…Kishore Kumar’s life was a piece of art.

3. This Film

Kishore Film Presents

Kishore Kumar in

Badhti Ka Naam Dadhi

Story, Screenplay, Lyric, Music, Produced, Directed, World Rights Controlled By Kishore Kumar

Badhti_Ka_Naam_Dadhi

This movie is so awesome and so ahead of its times that it had Bappi Da in it (in 1974!!!)…and while Kishore Da with the most magnificent beard known to mankind (at least until you watch the surprise twist ending) beats up some goons to save the heroine, Bappi Da strums a guitar and provides live background music to the fighting. This film deserves millions of fans and a cult following…and it deserves a full article, which I think I shall be writing at a future date (Coming Soon to this blog at an internets near you!). But for now, all I will say is that even if Kishore Kumar had done nothing except this film in his whole career, I would still have been a die hard fan. But of course we know that this film is just a tiny, infinitesimal part of the vast decades spanning career he had.

So here’s to the towering genius and infinitely awesome human being who deserves to be remembered all the year round and not just on his birthday.

PS: So far I believe that the Anurag Basu helmed biopic starring Ranbir is going to suck big time. I hope they prove me wrong, though.