Sunday, October 23, 2005

She is Coming!

The Mumbai Marathon is on Jan 15th, 2006. Registrations open on Oct 27th 2005.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

30 +

No I am not talking about the rather sad ad with jumping jack jeetu, something far more interesting from these guys I love

83 kilos of newspaper equals Ganashatru & Saturday Night Fever ?!

What does it take to buy the DVD of Ray's Ganashatru & the VCD of Saturday Night Fever ?
66.7 kilos of The Times of India & The Economic Times & 16.3 kilos of a Kannada newspaper. Now who says the TOI is good for nothing?

That is what I got from 3 hours of sorting almost a year's newspapers to fund my indulgences. Expect to post a review of the classic from Ray soon. So far I have seen Jalsagar & Pather Panchali and liked both immensely, especially the latter. May have seen a few more on DD in the days of those classics at 1 pm on Sundays, but don’t have a good enough recollection of any, including Shatranj ke Khiladi, but am firmly convinced that Ray was an enormously talented man. Pather Panchali is as good a movie as any I have seen. One of my other favourite Bengali movies is also by Ray and is called Agantuk starring Utpal Dutt, in an awesome story of human relationships. Jai Janani! (for those in the unknown, this dialogue is from the Telugu version of Kalidasa starring ANR and is the beginning of an amazing song in Sanskrit in the movie sung by the immortal Ghantasala)

Epilogue: Looks like I spoke too soon. The Ganashatru DVD didn't have subtitles! And despite my attempts at making sense of most of it, I felt like I couldn't get most of the dialogue. So I had to return the DVD and get Hemmingway's Death in the Afternoon & Hugo's Les Miserables after adding a little more money. So they are the latest members of my now overcrowded teapoy as my bookshelves can hold no more. 25/10/05 Corrected the fact that I had earlier stated Agantuk to be a Benegal movie!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Designed to Succeed

Last evening I attended a lecture cum discussion with the brilliant designer Neil Foley.
He’s an unassuming talented young man, who’s been behind some of the most innovative things that have emerged from India in recent times. He’s been behind the EDGE, the slimmest watch in the universe, the FLIP, another cool creation from TITAN, the FAST TRACK sunglasses, etc. And he seemed pleasantly surprised that I followed his work.

His name first came to my notice when he won an award at a worldwide design contest for designing a foldable bicycle. And since then he’s gone from strength to strength.

His creations span household products from this foldable chair to this awesome floor lamp.

And when he explains the thought that went into each of the creations especially the ones at TITAN which have seen great success, its like function and form are in tandem. Good engineering anyone would be proud of. And hell, forget his creations as products, even the packaging for his products is chic. This fruit bowl was designed to ensure that the user always is motivated to finish his fruit. And there are several such. I shall stop raving here and let you discover Neil’s world for yourself.

Thanks to Oxford Book Store for arranging such talks. And just 2 days ago, I got Karnad to autograph my books. Can hardly wait to see what’s coming next.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

New Members on my BookShelf, Iqbal, Barista & other things

The weekend gone by saw me visit the best Barista in India (the one in the Leela in Bangalore) twice, see Iqbal, attend the book release of the 2 volumes of Collected Plays by Girish Karnad and generally try and freak out.

Iqbal was not as good as I had hoped it would be. But the kid sister impresses. Shreyas Talpade as the protagonist is also good. The movie lacks a punch and is perhaps a trifle longer in its narration than one expected. The music by Salim - Suleiman is barely noteworthy.

The book release function was a treat as it was also meant to be a discussion on Karnad's evolution as a playwright. It was good fun being told by a critic that Bangalore's audience is almost as good as Calcutta's (with the disclaimer that she was neither Bengali nor Kannadiga)! Then there was the really fruitful discussion with Karnad on the Indian myth theme which dominates his works albeit with little known legends ex, The Fire & The Rain. Karnad also briefly discussed his life, England, NY etc during the discussion and other people like Brooks who has himself done a version of the Mahabharatha. He ended the session with a quote attributed to Robert Frost on the travails of translation - "Poetry is what gets lost in translation" (sic) since he originally wrote mostly in Kannada and then translated to English.

It was good fun for me since I am not much of a theatre person (I can count the no of plays I have been to on my hands!)
And then there were the celebs in attendance not least of which was Nandan Nilekani of Infy.

All in all, great fun

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My Mission Udaan

National Geographic Channel had this contest running to select 5 people who will get to tour Indian air bases and also fly in an IAF jet at the culmination of an amazing month and a half with the Indian Air Force. All you needed was to enter you height, weight and age, with your emailid. And 2000 out of 60000 applicants were shortlisted. I got in and was asked to turn up at the Indian Air Force Training Command Center near Hebbal by 6 am.

Now, since Hebbal is nearly 20 km from home and also since admission was by first come first served basis, I ended up waking at 4:30 am. Bangalore's parking woes struck an early morning blow as one couldn’t park on the main road in front of the entrance to the center. Hence one rushed to the nearby palace grounds to park, while a brave few left their vehicles on the main road, which would be handed over to the police according to one person who kept psyching us! Then an early morning Samaritan in the form of an auto driver gave me a free lift back to the center's entrance. He also asked if I was trying to join the airforce. I told him I was trying for a TV contest!

While I rejoined the queue, there were already several hopefuls piling up. Then we got in. My neighbours in the queue were a freelance sound engineer and a 3rd year engg student. The latter was more typical of the people who had turned up. The only people who made me forget my age were 3 gentlemen each of whom was older than my dad. Then there were people who had come all the way from places like Calicut (Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi were the 3 centres). There were loads of PYTs as well.

The 1st round of selections involved what is called the Monkey Run – running on all fours for 25m, Running Backwards for 25m, Running on one leg for 50m and then sprining back to the starting line. I had actually gone there hoping that there would have been some endurance tests, hoping to put my running experience to some use. Turns out that I was 2 years late. The Mission Everest selections had been done by the Indian Army and that had involved a lot of endurance – a 1.5 mile run, 35 pushups, etc.

Anyways I got eliminated. But I spent the rather long wait learning about the selection process for the Indian Army, the rankings (had only a vague recollection that Brigadier is senior to the Colonel, etc), life in the army, etc all from an NCC thoroughbred from Calicut who had been to the RD Parade in 2003 and that after 2 rejections. He has been wanting to join the Army since he was a kid. Good luck to him.

When I had to return home, to get to the parking lot, one auto guy who wanted to perhaps make up for the good behaviour of his brethren earlier in the day asked for 30 bucks, for a distance less than a km away!!! But then how could you enjoy Bangalore without the public buses. I just flagged one down. The driver who had this bemused expression took one cynical look at me and I asked for a drop! Maybe it was the unrelenting rain, maybe it was the expression on my face. Whatever. He did drop me right where I wanted.

Filter Coffee at home restored my enthusiasm for another fight, some other day! Keep Flying

AR Rahman Concert

Last weekend while speaking to me, my quiz team mate casually revealed he had donor passes to the ARR concert and wasn’t going since it was raining! And we were 30 mins away from the start. Eventually, I managed to convince him to change his insane decision and persist through the pouring rain for a little over 3 hours of great music spanning ARRs work in the last decade or so.

Kailash Kher, Sukhwinder Singh, Alka Yagnik, Shankar Mahadevan were all in attendance as were other stars.

The bad new first. ARRs voice live is something that you could occasionally wince at, as the man is largely untrained and his voice doesn’t have the richness that is masked with his digital mastery, but he more than makes up for it with his astounding amount of talent.

The good news - He has an amazingly strong voice much like a rock star. And he really does know how to handle an audience. He peppers the audience with other artistes and then comes back and asks whether we are enjoying the show (what you would expect the MC or RJs to ask)And he does entertain. Its only when you attend a concert of this sort (or you need to be reading Anti's blog)do you realize that ARR has been around for a while, since he first burst into mainstream Indian cinema with Roja in 1992.

ARR treated the audience to all his big hits right from Roja, Bombay, Yuva, Kisna, Lagaan, Alaipayuthey, down to Bose. There were 2 odd moments - one really jarring, the other passable. Shankar Mahadevan tried some improvisation of Humma Humma with ARR set to a classic beat before the two plunged into the expected rendition of the popular song. Remo was sorely missed. Then came the Chaiyya Chaiyya by someone whose name I didn't quite make an effort to find out. She was bad, atleast to my ear. So Sapna Awasthi may still be in demand when you want to hear the original. Madhurshree (?) managed to deliver a fine performance with the Kabhi Neem Neem song and a couple of others. I was unfamiliar with her and was quite pleasantly surprised. Shankar Mahadevan tried improvising on a couple of occasions and had genuine fun with Rahman. ARR also got someone from his Bombay Dreams project to deliver a song from the production. Sukhwinder Singh tried in vain to get the crowd going to his antics, but didn’t quite pull it off. When he stuck to his music, he was good. And for some vague reason changed clothes more than once! But the toast of the day must be raised to Sivamani who rocked. He had this 15-20 min solo to himself and he played what is known dapangutu beats, then some folk drums, then some western style percussion with one hand and African beats with the other and both set to a fast pace. And when one of the RJs thanked all people on stage, Sivamani interrupted him to remind him of the man who sets up his drums. And that must be some some task as there were atleast 50 different objects on stage. Sivamani alone made my day. He is gifted and his performance showed that.

One couldn’t really ask for more after so much music. The closure was along expected lines with Vande Mataram bringing the concert to a fitting closure under driving rain.

Sting, Mark Knopfler, Gypsy Kings, ARR, ab kya?