Golmaal Returns but disappoints

Golmaal, both the Amol Palekar as well as the recent Ajay Devgan one, is synomnymous with a laugh riot. So when a sequel to Rohit Shetty’s laugh riot Golmaal is released on Diwali, you walk in expecting to be tickled to laughter. Nah, you won’t laugh. You’ll barely manage to giggle a bit.

The story is pretty straightforward and it’s the silliest murder mystery (sans any mystery). What adorns this silly story is the interesting characters. The ever suspicious, telly soap lover Ekta (Kareena) or her Tharkee husband (Devgan) and the super awesome as dumb Lucky (Tusshar) are the pawns that make this silly story happen even. Their performances keep you glued to the madness.

The jokes are just silly at times but the actors pull the cart through. There are way too many digs at the film industry. Parody on Black returns, constant slamming Balaji, Ajay Devgan’s monologue using the titles of his films and endless references to Golmaal I are deviced by the director to ensure a laugh riot. He just about manages it but in a mediocre fashion. I found myself itching to laugh like I did with the first movie, but the movie just didn’t give me the chance to.

The digs at the film industry are way too internal and at times the joke’s just missed by the audience. For example, the protagonists’ names, Ghai and Santoshi. I was the only one who gave out a single spurt of laughter in the theatre. But by the end, I found myself giggling a lot. The comedy sort of grows on you.

I really enjoyed Tusshar’s performance. I think there are just two films that bring out the best in him. Golmaal and Golmaal Returns… So yeah, Tusshar, keep your trap shut and tolerate your sister being ridiculed.

Umm… I don’t think I have anything more to say about the film.

Watch it only if you have absolutely nothing to do and if you have a couple hundred rupees to spare. Actually donate it to charity and wait for the DVD to come. When the DVD comes contact me and I will tell you exactly which bits to watch!

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Lights, Camera, Fashion!

Madhur Bhandarkar has been known to pick a certain profession, find the unspoken truth, blow it out of proportion and make a dramatically real film about it. With his latest offering, Fashion, he underplays it.
To begin with, the film is full of gaps that leave you with a ‘why’. The characters are interesting but not convincing. In the end, you leave with a heavy feeling, but you still wonder, ‘why’.

The Story:
Predictable as the phases of the moon! Meghana (Priyanka Chopra) has her eyes set on the ramp. She arrives in Mumbai with a mediocre portfolio, a few thousand rupees and a sackful of ‘attitude’. Fashion is the story of Meghana’s rise and fall and her attempt to rise back again.

One does wonder how the Chandigarh kudi agrees to live with a guy or accept being a mistress to a wealthy man with such ease. A lot of the so called turning points are incidents added forcefully to the story to shock the audience, but the attempt falls flat on its face. Meghana’s character though is something that strikes a chord and you want to know more about her. You want to know why she goes on accepting whatever happens to happen to her. Her romantic life, her career, it all just falls into place. There is no sign of hard work or struggle as such. That, Mr. Bhandarkar, seems unreal. Towards the end, you start losing Meghana as she turns unreasonably over senstitive.

Performances:
Priyanka Chopra is amazing as Meghana. As Sneha rightly said, you hate Meghana when she’s arrogant but you also feel for her when she is down in the dumps. Priyanka carries off the role effortlessly.
Kangana Ranaut is pretentious up until she goes mental. She really has the natural talent to play up insanity.
Godse is pretty good considering this is her first film. But both Godse and Ranaut should take some diction classes.
Sameer soni has given a very natural performance without overplaying the ‘gay’ity. It almost broke my heart to see him gay but that’s just my teenage crush talking!
I am not going to say much about Arjan Bajwa because the man barely has the scope to perform.
Harsh Chaya is completely wasted!

Miscellanous frills and thrills:
The movie has a very cool feel to it. The fashion industry is depicted almost to scale. One aspect that Mr. Bhandarkar missed was the few models who make it into international beauty pageants and then become A list move stars.

I love Madhur’s portrayal of Meghna’s desire to be the ‘show-stopper’ while she’s in the sidelines. He creates the perfect grandeur of the ramp, with lights flashing, musing thumping and models strutting. Of course, I wonder why he featured in the film for a nano second and had to add the line ‘Now Madhur wants to make a film on the fashion industry also,’. The characters are fiery but many lose their spark by the time you reach the interval. Some incidents in the plot are too mechanical and could have been avoided. The last half hour of the movie drags on you with over-sensitivity, melodrama and obviously a winning moment.

Verdict: Look, it’s not a festive film. It has the Bhandarkar effect on you. It bombards you with depressing facts and hopelessness of the glamour world. It is not a masterpiece like Madhur’s ‘Chandni Bar’ or ‘Page 3’, but it’s a good film. Well researched, decently executed and well performed.

Diwali dope

The advertisements on tv, the well decorated windows of the smallest clothing shop and the multicolored display of kandeels on the road just tell me that Diwali is coming.

I love coming home to unopened gift boxes. I love it that my parents still leave them unopened till both us daughters are around. I love tearing the gift paper with an anticipation and jumping with joy at the sight of cocolates or a coffee maker (yaaaay!) I love it that me and the sister don’t fight over opening the gifts anymore. I love it that the sister’s birthday is on Laxmi Pujan and we get to eat out. I love it that we eat high calorie sweets and faral shamlessly. I love it that there still are 5 varieties of Pohe on the dining table on the first day of Diwali. I love it that I still am in charge of making coffee for everyone. I love it that we all sip coffee together (usually everyone drinks tea and I feel like a lonely coffee addict)

I love it that I get 100 bucks from my grandpop and grandmom for ovalni. I love it that I get to crack a karit (symbolic for baliraja) despite being a girl. I love it that my argument that I should get to break the karit irrespective of my gender, is proudly accepted by my pro-feminist grandparents!

I love it all but what I don’t love is the firecrackers. Back in the young days, me and the sister combined our daily quota of crackers with our neighbours and bravely lit them in our building compound. Just as we started, street kids would gather outside the gate and look at our brand new clothes, sparkling jewelry and our boxful of crackers with a glint of hope in their eyes. They hoped that the festival would make us feel kind enough to part with a fuljhari or two. They hoped even with their tattered clothes and hungry stomachs, the Diwali magic will bring light in their lives.

The thousands of rupees we spent on the crackers would feed them for a year! What right did I have to spend that kind of money to just add light to an evening of joy?

Obviously, the next thing we did was talk to our parents about this. And it was decided. No more firecrackers. Each Diwali after that, there was a newer, stronger reason to stay away from the crackers. Pollution, litter, child labour…

But I did burst crackers one Diwali. The most special Diwali ever. Me, the sister and the father took a huge box of fuljharis to an orphanage. And we spent the entire evening with the simple firecrackers and millions of smiles.

Some thrilled kids and some thrilled but too afraid to stand on their own. Some just hugged us and sang Diwali songs with us. The next year the ashram took the fuljharis but didn’t allow us to play with the kids as a matter of policy. Now, they do not accept firecrakers or food made outside.
I feel angry that because of some dufus, who gave the children spoilt food and outdated crackers, I miss out on the simplest and the most innocent joys I have ever experienced…

Salon Musings!

After much negligence, my hair demanded it be taken care of. So I found myself seated at my aunt’s lovely salon, a book in tow, getting the much needed hair treatment done.

Amongst the pedicured feet and immaculately soft hands, I felt rather country cousinish. I took a minute to see myself in the mirror. The trendy boy cut had transformed into a shoulder length fritzed out mess within a year. The face was alright but could have glowed. Little hints of dark circles could be visible (all thanks to a sleepless night spent in desperation to create a new character for a new novel).

I always thought I looked alright. I had lost a considerable amount of weight (I can never stop showing off!) I actually tried to wear pretty clothes (most of the time) and yet, these women around me with their flawless skins (before the treatments! How God how?) made me feel miserable. I suddenly felt ugly. I wanted to hide behind that magazine, tuck my uncoloured toes under the chair and disappear.

I survived. Yes, I survived a hair treatment and begged my Auntie (did I mention this cool Auntie runs her own show, a fantastic salon at an affordable price?) to cut my hair. ‘You mean trim?’ she asked as she fidgeted with another girl’s hair (which was shining like a clinic all clear ad!), looking for the perfect length.

‘Nah, real cut. Something funky, something drastic!’

So here’s the thing. I was happy being the plain jane I am until I started losing weight. Every once in a while, I feel like transforming myself, doing something drastically new with myself, so that I don’t get bored when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I like to shock myself and those around me. (Ask the brother, the sister and the best friend. They suffer a shock ever so often!)

So, I told auntie to go ahead and give my hair a nice chop. ‘You want to ask your Mom?’ she asked me.

‘Ask what?’ I was feeling small enough, this made me feel like a kid!

‘Whether its okay to cut it that short?’

‘Why??’

‘She mentioned that they are hunting for a boy. Usually, girls start growing their hair…’

I didn’t wait for her to complete. Okay, so I am looking to meet someone. What’s the length of my hair got to do with it?

‘Whoa! I don’t want permission. I am okay. Can we cut it now, please?’

She lovingly handled my tresses. I love my boyish, zero maintenance bob cut by the way. As I adored my new hair, an ‘accomplished’ woman sat down next to me.

My aunt trimmed her hair and suggested that she chop off her hair.

‘Your ends are splitting and the hair quality is pretty bad. A good hair cut will change that,’ my aunt explained.

‘Let me ask my husband you know. I can’t cut it unless he’s okay.’

I suddenly felt awesome. I felt independent and I didn’t give a tiny rat’s a*se about my non pedicured feet or the unlovely poise. I had a brain of my own, and I was living my life how I wanted it.

PS: For my argumentative Aunt. Letting your husband know you’re getting a hair cut and inviting suggestions is very very cute. Agreed. But waiting for his ‘permission’? Non-cute!

Mother?! India?!

I am a woman, I am Brahmin,I am Maharashtrian, I am Hindu, I am Indian, I am human. It doesn’t matter who I am or who you are. All that matters is if you are a human being sensitive to the world, to the good or bad, to the right or wrong. If your blood doesn’t boil when you see injustice, if your heart doesn’t cry when you see suffering around you or if your soul doesn’t itch to do something about the things falling apart, don’t read this post…
The Orissa government has finally asked the state crime branch to investigate the rape of a nun- Hindustan Times, Mumbai, 4th October 2008.
On August 25, a 29 year old Catholic nun was allegedly raped by a fanatic Hindu mob and paraded through the streets shouting Bharat mata Ki Jai- TOI, Mumbai, 4th October 2008

I am shamed, disgusted and appalled. You consider you country your mother and you think you have honored her by raping and humiliating a woman? Disgusting. What disgusts me more as a woman citizen of this country is that the police refused to help the victim and delayed investigation. It took 38 days of violence, protests and lot more for the State to decide that there was a disgusting crime committed and that the police officials who failed to protect or bring justice to the victim needed punishment.
Why did it take them so many days? Because there has to be a detailed report, a lot of letters that shuttle around and a lot of press before action can be taken. I am not convinced by Mr. Naveen Patnaiks’s assurance that the culprits will be duly punished, for obvious reasons. If he keeps his word, great but I still think it would make very little difference to this situation in the long run.

By all means punish the culprit, that is the Judiciary’s job. But who’s doing what about preventing such horrific incidents in the future? While the judicial process ensures justice to the victim, there are a couple of things that need attention. First up, these people need education to gain a certain level of maturity and understanding. They need to stop blaming the missionaries for conversion of poor Hindus. Look, your system and your relgion failed to give them their basic rights of food shelter and clothing. If they seek that and more through another religion, it’s their call. We are a secular nation and we are free to follow the religion we want. It is not our place to decide which religion is better nor is it our place to decide whether he missionaries are forcibly converting the poor against their will. If they are being forcefully converted, there needs to be positive action. Torchig missionaries and raping nuns is not the answer.
By the way, no evidence of forced conversions was found in Karnataka. NDTV is flashing that as I write this.

The poor in this country are helpless and there is a passion to seek justice. Certain religious leaders disillusion them into believing that death and violence will bring their religion/country to glory. Wrong. These guys need to be sensitised to understand that their actions cause harm and only harm. They need to understand that there is no glory brough forth by hurting or insulting any human being, religion no bar! If they dig deep into the religion, with the aid of education and ratinale, they can see for themselves that these acts are not endorsed by their ‘supreme’ religion. If there is one thing that these extremists need, its education. They need awareness and they need a lesson in human values. Can we as a country try and do that?
Look at the names that strived hard to make our nation. There are Muslim, Parsi, Hindu, Sikh names. They didn’t see themselves as the representatives of their religion. They fought with a spirit of being Indian and the strived for a united country. They hoped for an independent India, with a better tomorrow for one and all. And they believed it could be achieved. They believed in the spirit of Indianness above everything. Where is that spirit? Why can’t we forget our classifications and move forth?

Why am I writing in this tone, you might ask.I am pained by what’s happening around and even more pained by how indifferent our urban society is to the issues that hamper our growth and development… Move beyond the rise and fall of stock markets, stop obsessing over Obama and McCain and take a hard look at your country. This is YOUR country.

A friend’s update on twitter reminded me of a valuable quote from Mahatma Gandhi: You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

I am an Indian, nothing else matters…

A piece of peace please!

Mahatma Gandhi gave the world Satyagraha, a weapon sans violence. Gandhi followers speak of his dislike for violence and his ability to fight for the truth without resorting to violence. This man known as the FAther of our nation, must be disappointed with what we have made this country.

All the newspapers’ front pages are adorned with horrifying photographs of the Agartala blasts. Most also speak about the loopholes in the report prepared for the 7/11 Mumbai blasts. There is a report about the victims of the Malegaon blasts. Another report says that the death toll in the Chamunda Devi mishap has reached 150. The anti-Christian violence in Orissa has also claimed quite a few lives.

Everywhere I read about death. There is death in the name of religion, death in the and of fame, money and God knows what other reasons death uses to use as it’s accomplice. I wonder if Gandhiji, Nehru and Ambedkar foresaw this sorry state of affairs…