Thursday, December 30, 2004

100 years of annus mirabilis

In discussions about whether time travel will ever be possible, and if so why don't we see any time travellers from future, some people cite the anachronisms which have never been satisfactorily explained or just seem too incredible to have happened when they did.

One famous example is the "Baghdad Battery" (read the article if you don't know what it is.. it is fascinating!!). Then there are the incredible ancient feats of engineering and architecture (the Pyramids, the Sphinx, the Stonehenge and the Easter Island statues).

Then there were events in history (and prehistory) that seem to just have happened. (heard of Nazca lines?) Curious incidents.. just fate maybe.. but what if they are results of future travellers "flashing" their ancestors with knowledge far ahead of their time? People like Leonardo Da Vinci and Isaac Newton did some work that was so far ahead of their times that its a wonder no one suspected them to be in touch with future generations (or maybe aliens) at that time (then again, probably most people at the time weren't quite as much into things like time travel and extra-terrestrial intelligence as people today). Newton, especially, had one incredibly fruitful period of about a year when he discovered/invented more things than probably constituted all the cumulative knowledge of human beings till then. that was probably the original annus mirabilis. Between 1665 and 1666, Newton invented techniques of calculus, formulated his laws of motion and gravity and as good as pioneered the science of optics. A year unrivalled in history for its impact on our lives.

But clearly that was much more than 100 years ago. What I wished to write about was another such period. It still doesn't rival the Newton's magic year in its impact but that might just be as it is much more recent. Probably 200 years from now we'll know that its consequences were far more far-reaching than were realized in early 21st century. I am obviously talking about Einstein's miracle year - 1905. In that period of about a year he came up with 4-5 papers that changed the way we look at nature. Special Relativity is obviously the crowning achievement that everyone knows about. But there were other papers ranging from brownian motion to photoelectric effect that were just as important in forming the foundation of a new kind of physics which was so different from the physics of previous centuries that it spawned a whole new field for JEE coaches to tackle - modern physics.

An article has appeared on which inspired me to do this posting. Read it here if you want to, though its just a lay-man explanation of Einstein's work and as such nothing new to most people who read my blog. What I found interesting was a series of cartoons in the article. pasting them here for those who don't want to go to the article and scroll around. All pics courtesy

1) Einstein enters the jungle of physics in late 1800s.

2) What didn't make sense to others was made simpler and clearer by our then-young old man.

3) And then.... God played dice.

Monday, December 27, 2004

The Indonesian Tsunami Disaster.

Most of us know about the tsunami disaster by now. In case you don't (and even if you do but don't know enough details) you can look it up here.

I had only read about tsunamis but never really heard about it in news. I guess they are much more common than this but most of the time the warning systems ensure that the damage isn't much. In places that are prone to earthquakes and tsunamis, these warning systems are present since long but who'd have thought they would hit india and sri lanka! not that we haven't experienced earthquakes before (actually we've probably seen more than our fair share. I know some people here who have NEVER experienced even moderate quakes.) but I don't think there had been any tsunami disasters in india before this. Not in the historic period at least.

Its absolutely awe-inspiring how much energy a tsunami can carry. I guess the fact that an earthquake makes a gigantic amount of land move should be just as awe-inspiring, if not more, but somehow the idea of an ocean-wave moving at 300-400 miles per hour for thousands of miles and hitting thousnads of mile long shorelines is simply inconceivable for me. think of a water tank in a cube of each side 10m long and think of the force needed to push it at the speed of 300 miles per hour. now put 200,000 such tanks in a line and you reach close to a tsunamis awesome power. considering that these numbers aren't anywhere close to megatsunamis one begins to realize the sheer power of forces of nature. (I know its probably not appropriate to think about these things as anything but evil, but reading about these things I couldn't help thinking how much energy can be obtained from such sources for our purposes if only the technology for prediction and harnessing improves. I know it sounds almost impossible as of now, but what if it can be done sometime in future! THAT feat would be just as awe-inspiring as the quakes and tsunamis themselves).

For those who are able and willing to contribute to the Indian Prime Minister's relief fund can contribute through cash/cheque, credit card, or direct bank transfer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

While I was sleeping...

The world changed. at 4am today, the world did not know that Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is scheduled to release on July 16, 2005. And now, it does.. :)

My blog runs the risk of changing into just a Harry Potter fanpage (hasn't it already?) but I can't really resist pointing out that Warner Bros. released yesterday two pix from the fourth movie. You can see them here and here. Courtesy mugglenet of course. The first is obviously the dressing-up for Yule Ball. And the second is just before the first task, in the champions' tent. (oops! did I just put in a spoiler for someone who hasn't read book 4?? well, maybe not. these two lines don't tell much, do they?)

Monday, December 20, 2004

JKR is so cool!!!!

:) she didn't make us wait till christmas!! about half an hour ago, her site was updated with 6 riddles. I was one of the first to solve them and get the message. Book 6 is complete!! and the date will be announced by the publishers within next 24 hours(ok, about 23 now). don't forget, you read it here first! :) its still not on any news sites.. :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I know my christmas gift!!!

I know that not many of my readers are big Harry Potter fans. Which means I shouldn't bore anyone with so many posts about HP. But... it also means that any news about HP that I'm giving here is not likely to be known to them already which is one strong reason in favour of making these postings.. :) so....

anyway, this is for all HP fans out there.... There is a verrry good chance that JKR is going to announce the release date of book 6 (HP and the Half Blood Prince). And what better day to do it than on christmas? So, many people believe that it would be her christmas present to her readers. Now, don't blame me if all this turns out to be wrong as neither JKR nor her publishing team have said anything of the sort. In fact, their representatives have gone so far as to say that these rumours are pure speculation. However, its not same as saying that these rumours are wrong, is it? :)

Anyway, its not as if the rumours are just plain, baseless wishful thinking. There have been several signs suggesting that book 6 should release sometime in summer 2005. (There is a case of releasing it in fall or winter to increase interest in the next movie which will release in november' 05, but summer is a much better time for readers. And even if the book release is scheduled for fall 2005, the signs for the announcement of the date are very strong right now). Some of the signs were things that JKR lets slip (willingly, I am sure) every now and then. Like her being sure that there will not be any baby-related delay in completion of book 6 and the baby being due sometime in spring 2005. Like her reading 20 chapters of the book overnight before updating her site next morning (this was sometime in october, IIRC). But all those things are still in the "speculation" zone and I probably won't have made this posting if not for the strongest sign yet which appeared today!! The welcome note on her official site has been tinkered today. It said "where I can announce I've finished book six... and no, that's not going to happen very soon." till yesterday but has been changed to "where I can announce I've finished book seven... and no, that's not going to happen very soon."!!! The least this means is that book six is no longer in the "not going to happen very soon" category. But, considering that most of us fans were already speculating about a christmas announcement this is a HUGE sign!! I only hope this doesn't turn out to be a hoax engineered by some hacker.. :(

Christmas can't come soon enough.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Newsweek's top (and bottom) 10

Newsweek has come up with its lists of 10 best and worst movies of 2004. And it made me realize that I still have to see a lot of good movies that came out this year. That has been mainly because most of them have released during last month or so and haven't reached Rochester yet. Out of the "10 best" list I have seen just 3 (Sideways, The Manchurian Candidate, and Prisoner of Azkaban) and even though all of them were good movies, I wouldn't have put them above some other movies that I saw this year. Sideways probably would have made my list but not TMC and PoA (assuming, of course, that the other seven that I haven't seen yet really DO deserve to be in the list). Kill Bill-2 would definitely have made it above these two. So would Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And maybe even The Incredibles (ok... probably not above PoA but definitely above TMC. that might just be because I have seen the original of TMC and the new version suffers in comparison). And then there was The Motorcycle Diaries, that superb spanish movie.

As for the movies I haven't seen, all of them have been on my "must watch" list for some time. The only reason I haven't seen Before Sunset (#2 on newsweek list) yet is because I havent been able to find its prequel - Before Sunrise - and I dont want to see the sequel before the prequel. Million Dollar Baby, Kinsey, and Bad Education will open at Rochester in a couple of weeks. And The Aviator is obviously going to open nationwide next weekend. So I should be done with them within another month. :) This is also true for A Very Long Engagement which finds itself on the "worst 10" list of newsweek. Maybe it IS that bad but I'd still watch it if only because of the wonderful cinematography and Audrey Tautou.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

an aborted attempt at swades' review...

here is that aborted post.... no real reason for posting it now except that I can't make myself delete it....


ok people.. here goes.. back after more than a month, and that too without any cajoling by anybody (ok, jaanu had posted some comments regarding this, but that was some days ago.. )

Over the last month, there have been many things that almost convinced me to come out of my hibernation and make another post but I successfully resisted the urge. :) Not today though!! the last straw, so to speak, is the music release of Swades. The songs were released yesterday and I now have all of them with me. A brief first-impressions review follows along with maybe some reference of those other exciting things (or maybe I'll post about them separately.. let's see...)

Last releases of ARR were Yuva/Aayidha Ezhuthu and New. That was around 6-7 months ago and most of us Rahman fans have been waiting with bated breath for the barrage of superb music that inevitably follows such silent phases as far as rahman is concerned. During this time Choreography released with one ARR composition played by Vanessa Mae but that was about the only respite we got from the insipid non-rahman songs of last 6 months (now now.. I know thats not quite right... there were some good songs too... mostly Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy albums and one Veer-Zaara that came out last week.. but one needs to say such things to show the extent of one's devotion :)) ) . Most of our time was spent speculating which one of his soon-to-be-released albums will come first. Kisna, Swades, Netaji and Rivermoon were all probable candidates but Swades beat the others to it. The downside is that it came out too close to Veer-Zaara which is obviously destined to be a blockbuster because the Yash-Chopra publicity machine will not stop at anything less than that. Even mediocre songs from that stable seem to do pretty well, and Veer-Zaara seems to be pretty good. Still, I was hopeful that Swades would be publicized well enough for the music to catch on. Alas! it doesnt look like happening. The promos were extremely dull. Lacked even a hint of the sheen that one associates with an A-class movie. I guess that might be because they wanted to get the rustic look. Still, Lagaan also had that rustic look and its promos were as exciting as they get. The only good thing about Swades promos was the music and the credits. But I don't think that goes too far in creating a buzz, at least in the early stages. So, all this means is that quite a few people might miss out on enjoying Swades' music which is really unfortunate because it really doesn't deserve this. Its pretty good actually, and I haven't even listened to all the songs enough times yet!!!


back after ages!!!

i have no idea how long I'll be able to continue it this time. But lets see... I intend to do regular posts now.. maybe shorter in length than earlier... maybe they'll be more about personal issues than general posts like earlier.. I don't know.. lets see...

right now I am listening to Kisna's songs... the music released just two days ago and I have listened to most of the songs 3-4 times and the first impression is "its good but nothing great. not a patch on Taal". maybe it will grow after a few more hearings.. There are some really good songs but there are one or two pretty ordinary songs that pull the album down. Needless to say, these ordinary songs are Darbar's. :) anyway, his "Woh Kisna Hai" and "Kaahe Ujaadi Meri Neend" are very good. and "Chilman Uthhegi Naheen" and "Aham Brahmaasmi" aren't bad either. So its not as if Darbar did poorly and ARR did great. its just some of Darbar's situational songs that are simply too ordinary.

anyway, I should post this one now. Otherwise it might end up as my last attempt at getting back to blogging. I had decided to write a review of Swades but was just able to write a brief introduction. Never got down to complete that review. I guess I'll post that incomplete review/introduction too after this.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Mogambo.......... Khush Huaa!!!

One of the most recognizable quotes in Hindi film history I'd say. Not THE most recognizable though. There are quite a few that rank higher probably. And Salim-Javed have probably penned most of them.

I remember talking to a very good friend of mine about how there doesnt seem to be any movie that both of us liked. Mr. India was the only movie that we could think of which both of us seemed to like. But the thing is that none of us had seen it recently. I guess the last time I saw it was back in 1980s. Might even be 1987, when it released. Even though I was barely 6 years old then, I remembered some parts of the movie and thought it was a pretty entertaining movie. However, one can't be too sure about these "bachpan ka impressions". So, I decided to watch it again and see if it really is as good as I thought it was. And I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a lot of scenes which I didn't really remember in a lot of detail and which were really good. And not just because of their entertainment value.. some of the scenes with the children were quite touching. I guess Shekhar Kapur is good with children. (I have noticed a correlation between good storytellers and children's movies i.e. either made for children or featuring good child characters. Spielberg comes to mind.. So do Satyajit Rai and Mani Ratnam.. not that there aren't great directors who haven't made children's movies, but I think there is at least some substance in the hypothesis).

You have to hand it to Salim-Javed though. They have penned some of the most memorable characters in hindi cinema's history. Gabbar is obviously right at the top. The angry-young Vijay, Arjun, Shaakaal the bald and then Mogambo in Mr India. Even though I personally wasn't too impressed with the cartoonish Mogambo, it was definitely intentional and was probably lapped up by the kids in the audience.

In fact the movie didn't seem too good in the beginning. The sets/costumes were pretty garish and I thought it really must've been one of those bachpan ka impressions that don't continue after you grow up. But it was only the Mogambo part (his set, costumes of his servants etc.) which seemed that way. They tried to make it very cartoon bookish with all the "Mogambo... khush huaa!! and "Hail Mogambo" stuff and the way they show him drumming on the globe at his hand rest and the "acid tank" melting the gun etc. But once the prefacial (no need to go to freshly coined!!) stuff about Mogambo and the invisibility gadget gets over and the story moves to Arun, Calendar and the kids, it really is entertainment all the way. A lot of funny stuff involves Seema (Sridevi.. I had forgotten that she can give be very funny indeed!!) and her editor. Actually probably more her editor Mr. Gaitonde (Annu Kapoor) and his telephone. Some of his hilarious scenes/quotes are:

1) wrong number. The person thinks that he has reached a vet's clinic. editor picks up and speaks : Hello!!.......arre aapki bhains ne doodh dena band kar diya to bhaai main kya karoon?
the other guy : aap kuchh to keejiye na sir?

2) Seema: Sir! main ek phone kar sakti hoon?
Editor: haan bilkul! karo karo! lekin karogi kahaan se?
Seema (confused): sir! is phone se....
Editor: kisse? isse? ye phone kahaan hai Seema, ye to radio hai! kabhi... (some lines I don't remember) ... aur kabhi mohabbat se lada gadha, mohabbat se ladi gadhi se gadhepan ki baatein kar raha hota hai.. karo karo! phone karo!

3) Seema: Sir! aap meri baat samajh naheen rahe hain!! ye jo Mr. India hai.. vo dikhaaee naheen deta!
Editor: Dikhaaee naheen deta? to kahaan rehta hai? ye aajkal apna malhotra bhi dikhaaee naheen deta.. kahaan rehta hai vo? dikhaaee de to mere paas bhejna..

4) Seema calls Mr. India to meet her editor as he doesnt believe her about the invisibility thing.. so Mr. India is sitting in the office and the editor is looks awestruck.
Mr. India: kya baat hai Editor saahab, aab thheek to hain?
Editor: Hain jee?... haan jee thheek hoon.. kamaal hai seema ek to ye dikhaaee naheen dete aur oopar se poochh rahe hain ki main thheek hoon ki naheen..

5) Mr. India: maine suna aapne seema ko naukri se nikal diya hai
Editor: Arre sir kya baat kar rahe hain aap? hamaara akhbaar to ek chhoti si family hai.. main kaise seema ko nikaal sakta hoon.. vo to bas jab isne kaha ki aap dikhaaee naheen dete to......... lekin ab jab maine aapko dekha.. mera matlab hai naheen dekha.... to... dekha na.. ki naheen dekh sakte....

Anyway, the movie is filled with such funny stuff... like..

Arun: Calendar! ek to mujhe ye samajh naheen aata ki tumhaara naam Calendar kyoun hai?
Calendar: vo mere maa-baap ko kuchh angreji mein naam rakhna tha isliye..
Arun: Calendar, agar tum roz isi tarah late uthhte rahe aur mujhe hi bachchon ka saaraa naashta banaana pada to main tumhaari salary mein se kuchh na kuchh zaroor kaat loonga..
Calendar: zaroor kaar lena.. isi bahaane salary to milegi... by god kaee maheene ho gaye salary ki shakal dekhe hue. kis color ki hoti hai?

Then the parody song about the football is a riot! Javed Akhtar has written the lyrics and they are stupendous!! The song, the picturization, the lyrics.. everything is superb!! This is one thing that I had forgotten about the movie. It was really superb!!

And there are other songs which are pretty hummable and picturized quite well too. "Zindagi ki yahi reet hai", "Karte hain hum pyaar Mr India se", "Hawa hawaii" (not a great song but some funny picturization.. remember "seene se raaz chura loon..haan chura loon..haha chura loon"?) , and the erotic to the hilt "Kaate naheen kat_te"

On the whole the funny parts of the movie stand out in one's memory but there are other scenes that are quite touching. Tina's Bomb blast scene is definitely one. The way she keeps saying "Arun bhaaya, vo kya hai? Umi.. vo kya hai?" with a bit of apprehension and a little smile just takes your heart... so do the scenes when there is no food for the kids...

Not that the movie doesn't have any flaws. In fact it is a dream movie for someone who likes to pick little plot holes/unrealistic script elements as it is overflowing with them. (And I do have a friend just like that. absolutely loves to keep speaking about the little inconsistencies while watching any movie. Amazing how can someone enjoy ANY movie when all the attention is taken by plothole hunting!) But its entertaining all the same. Definitely worth recommending to anyone who hasn't seen any bollywood movie and wants to see a "typical bollywood" movie. This is typical bollywood at its absolute best. (So is Sholay IMHO, but I guess a lot of people who don't know about bollywood will be more put off by its resemblance to Seven Samurai and Once upon a time in the west)

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

RSC and its lingo

RSC here stands for I used to be quite an avid reader of RSC (not a poster though) some time back. Then last season ended and I sort of moved away from usenet. Now, with new season around the corner (I don't consider any tournament in SL as part of apna season, specially if India doesn't perform well there ;) ) and with my qualifier over and my movie watching form still far from its best I have enough time to start browsing through RSC posts again. I don't expect many of my friends to be lukkha enough to know much about RSC postings, so I decided to make a posting about it, specifically about some interesting terms/acronyms coined by RSC junta. In no particlar order, here are some of them..

WAB: Weak Attack Bully : depending on which team you support and which batsman you hate, this can be used for any batsman who has been having a good run with bat lately. Currently it is used for Kallis a lot. Sachin has been called that in past by quite a few (some do that even now).

SOB: Second only to Bradman : started with Sachin and that oft-quoted Bradman statement. Has since become a joke of sorts. People now use "second only to" quite generously, almost always sarcastically. for example parthiv is SOG (Gilchrist), Flintoff is SOB (Botham), Agarkar is SOK (Kapil), Sehwag is SOS (Sachin) or SOG (Gavaskar), Sachin is SOW (Warne). You get the picture.

ODO: One Day International : I don't know how it began but it seems no one uses ODI or LOI on RSC.

FTB: Flat Track Bully : similar to the first one. has been used for Sachin most often. Specially when he was hitting ODO centuries in every other match in the subcontinent/sharjah.

Yuseless Singh: Yuvraj, who else? : This one had me LMAO. I guess it was coined by someone when Yuvraj was spending a nightmarish summer in England playing for Yorkshire.

Merrily-throwin': Muralidharan : Another spark of creativity from a fellow RSCian. Doesn't mean that I share his opinon of Murali. But one has to give it to this person. Merrily-throwin'!!!:)

Stuart Law: a pretty long standing joke. mostly used whenever someone asks about people's favorite cricketer or the best batsman in the world or something.

Aag! Fire!: Agarkar related : in a lot of variations. I remember seeing a lot of "AAAAAG!! AAAG!! FIRE FIRE!!" on RSC when he took 6 wickets in the adelaide test. Firekar is a common term too.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

copyright of unpublished ideas

If you are wondering why don't I have interesting postings on my blog its because there are no copyright laws for unpublished ideas. Vivek keeps stealing my thunder by somehow reading my mind and posting about whatever I am planning to post. The TOI thing was on my mind for some days and I probably WILL post about it sometime but Vivek has beaten me to it. ditto about google keywords. And that post about Indian team after the final vs SL.

Now only if he doesn't post about Mr. India for next few days...

Done with Esp1/Pds1 pathway!!

thats what I was busy with over last few days. Re-drafting of my qualifying exam written report. Have to submit it today and just finished giving finishing touches to the last figure. Its now no longer in my hands. If they want to pass me, good. If not, so be it. It'd be sad but probably nothing more than I deserve for the rotten performance in the exam. However, it'd be a pity if they allow things like my performance in the exam to affect their judgement of this report. I don't think this report deserves to be turned down. Let's see.

Anyway, bottomline is - I am back after a tiny little break.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Amon Goeth Must Not Be Named!!

My blog is changing into a Harry Potter fanpage. The amazing thing is that there's no real reason for that to happen now. I mean the sixth book is still too far in the future to be a cause for excitement. And I haven't read any of the first five recently. And its not that I liked the third movie so much that my anticipation for Goblet might've increased because of it. Still, here I am, telling the world something that most people (who care about it) already know. Ralph Fiennes is all set to play Lord Voldemort in The Goblet of Fire. I am pretty happy with this news as one of my major concerns about the next movie was that they might make Voldemort into just another comic-book villain which will probably destroy my mental image of him and hence quite a bit of reading pleasure from next two books. They might still do that (and they probably will) but I think Ralph has the potential to be the sort of Voldemort that I'd like. The sending-a-chill-down-your-spine, merciless, sarcastic-to-the-core, sinister, condescending Lord of dark things. Ralph played Amon Goeth (hence the title of the post) in that stupendous piece of art by Spielberg - Schindler's List. He was absolutely brilliant! He did pretty good in The English Patient too, but its his Amon Goeth act that makes me so sure he'd be great as Lord Voldemort.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


That's the verdict. But there's a bit of fine print to it too. It was my worst exam ever (except maybe the kannan/juvekar exam in 3rd year of IIT). Should probably celebrate that I don't need to give the exam again but how can I do that when I know I deserved to fail.

Monday, August 02, 2004

You will die!

That's one of the taglines they are using in the promos of "Vaastu Shaastra". Actually it is "This September you will die!" but that would make it less representative of my state right now. To me it reads more like "This August 3 you will die!". and if you notice the time of posting, its not far away.

Anyway, I was talking about "Vaastu Shaastra". I have seen only one trailer and for some reason I've got a feeling that it is inspired by "The Shining" - that great Kubrick movie. The same concept of a writer living in a secluded large home with his wife and child and the house being haunted. In fact there are some scenes in the trailer that seem lifted from The Shining. If it is half as good as that one, it should be worth watching. But I don't like the idea of RGV producing an "inspired" movie. Then again, he has already announced his intention of making "Sarkaar", a remake of The Godfather. So, why not The Shining too?

Thats it... if you don't see another posting in next two days, you can stop coming to this blog altogether. It won't be updated again. Unless they have internet in hell...

Saturday, July 31, 2004

happy birthday 2.....

I know I know... his birthdays are seldom happy. But I can always wish, can't I? so, here goes...

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday too yoou
happy birthday dear Harry, happy birthday toooooo yoooooou..
May the Dark Lord bless... oops!!! %$&%*^%#
core dumped

phew! That's it! I'm through with wishing Rowling's children (and she already has about 2 + j1000 of them, no less!)

no need to put that "HA HA! How very funny you are Rahul!" in the comments. I know I am not. I know I am not trying to be. In case you forgot, I have my qualifier on tuesday. Five professors will find a lot to laugh at sometime after 2 pm that day. Believe me, I'll try my best not to be funny even then, but something tells me they're going to laugh nevertheless.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Happy Birthday!!!

To the other candidate!! :p

I had never thought that one day I'll start wishing fictional characters on their birthday!! But then, a major exam does funny things to people. Something we used to call "mid/end sem effect" back in IIT... :) People used to do all sort of weird stuff in the hostel mess.. the 10pm "cheap chai" (cheap tea for my non-existent non-hindi visitors) used to bring the worst out of everyone.. PJs galore, cacophony at its worst... Ah! it used to be such fun! sigh! 

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Petals around the rose

I know there is probably no one who visits my blog and doesn't visit vivek's. Still. In case you are one such person then have a look at this post. Its about a game/puzzle. Nice one really.

warning: please don't post the solution - which I am sure you reached in record time - in comments or anywhere else for that matter. 

junta ki demand par....

actually only on Amit Gupta's demand, I am back.. :) there have been a few others who had demanded earlier but it has been so long that everyone seems to have given up on me and assumed that I am through with blogging. And they weren't very wrong. I don't think I would've come back had Amit not posted that last comment to my previous post. That showed me that people are still hopeful and I just couldn't bring myself to disappoint him. :)

Anyway, this post is just to announce that I am back.. It will probably take me some time to get my rhythm back (a la sehwag in that SL match)  because I have my qualifier on August 3 and I realized only today how close that date is. Have browsed more than 400 pages since the realization dawned on me. Problem is, even this speed is probably an order of magnitude too small for me to cover all the absolutely important stuff. Needless to say that I am not even thinking about going through more than 20-30% of it... I just hope it doesn't show in the exam although I'm afraid that that might prove too much to hope.... (which reminds me that my orkut fortune today said "don't wish extravagantly and your wishes will be fulfilled"... I think I just saw a Grim!!! :( )

Should probably go back to my book. or maybe I should wait till "Jana Gana Mana" ends... did I ever tell you people that ARR is God?

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Half blood prince!!

I haven't posted anything for ages. Not even movies update!! And yet, I couldn't stop myself (not that there was any reason to do that!! ) from posting this. For those few souls who haven't heard this yet (AND who happen to visit this page), the 6th HP book is going to be called "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince". Rowling declared this on her official site (which, by the way, is one of the best websites I've seen.. especially for any HP fan).

Go and visit the site. spend some time on it and I bet you'll find a lot of trivia that you didn't know before.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Hearing Colors, Tasting Shapes

The title is borrowed from this exciting Scientific American article. I don't know if the idea of Synesthesia is as exciting for everyone as it is for me. I understand it can be very distressing for the synesthetic person but its milder forms can be really interesting without being patently disadvantageous.

I came across this article a few days ago when I was reading about LSD (no, don't get any ideas.. it was perfectly innocuous websurfing driven by nothing more than normal scientific curiosity). I knew a little about synesthesia earlier but always thought its a permanent genetic disorder (which it is, in some cases). I didn't know that it can be induced by drugs like LSD. Anyway, I'm going off topic. Whats most interesting about the sciam article is not the induced synesthesia (where one might hear colors and taste shapes) but the clever experiments done with permanent synesthetes, specifically with people who have a condition that makes them see a particular numeral always in a related color. For example, if they see a "3" (even if typed in normal black font), they would see it in red hue. similarly, other numerals might be related to other hues. Clearly, this is not just a "cross-connection" between signals of different senses as one might expect in someone who sees red when hearing a metallic sound (with intesity of the color related to the loudness of the sound). What is special about "3"? This seems to indicate that the cross-talk happens not between signals but between the processed information. But wait!! What is even more astounding is that the "3" appears red even if the person can't see it clear enough for him to process it as a representation of number three. Confused? Read the article.

The article ends with a nice hypothesis that "creativity" is actually a manifestation of extremely mild (and universally present, though in different degrees) synesthesia. Confused again? As I said, read the article. :)

mujhe bhi india jaana hai!!!! :((

All my friends are going back to des. Not me though. :( Its been two years almost and the smell of des ki mitti is still far away. I can't go this summer as I have my qualifier in August. And I don't think I should go in december as I'd have just started work in my new lab. It would be extremely difficult to gather enough courage to ask my new advisor about it. Lets see... Speaking of India, speculations are rife that my housemate might very well be engaged - if not married - by the time he comes back from India. That would mean I might have to look for a new house and housemate very soon. :( On the other hand, it would most likely also mean more accessible good homemade food cooked by Mrs ex-housemate!! :))

getting cooler by the day....

Thats me, not the weather.. ;) Bought a car and a mobile this week. I still am not sure that getting a mobile was such a great idea though. But maybe it'll be much more useful once I start using my car (which, obviously, can't happen unless I learn how to drive and going by my first tryst it seems unlikely thats going to happen in near future!).

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Transit

So, The Transit is now past and so is all the hype surrounding it, for the time being at least. The hype didn't touch me though. And I was surprised in the beginning at my own indifference to this. I remember myself being very excited about total solar eclipses (even partial/Lunar ones), the first time I spotted a sunspot (pun unintended), meteor showers that never reached their potential, seeing jupiter and its moons, seeing saturn's rings, seeing andromeda. Basically anything related to astronomy always used to excite me. But I felt nothing about the Venus transit. It was nice to see some pics online but nothing more than any other average APOD pic. I wonder why others seemed to be so excited about this. To me it was nothing out of the ordinary. You see venus everyday, and you can see sunspots very often. At best this was a slighty larger than an ordinary sunspot. Something that people would've missed had they not known what to look for and exactly when to do it. Unlike a total (or even partial) Eclipse or a naked-eye comet.

The transit wasn't visible from most of US, but even if it were, I doubt I'd have looked at it more than once during the day. And that too would have been a casual glance at best. Reading about the early AU calculations and the history of transit watching was far more exciting than the transit itself. And yet, it seemed to be the most common topic in media for last 3-4 days. Just because something hasn't been seen by anyone alive doesn't make it exciting IMHO. A lightning stroke is much more common yet much more exciting for me. Maybe because of the randomness and unpredictability of its form.

I don't mind the hype though. It just amuses me. I don't think anyone interested in astronomy would've been REALLY interested in watching this himself. But they all played their part in hyping it. It was more about taking an opportunity to make people excited about science in general and astoromical studies in particular. Its occurances like this that keep people interested in science.

Monday, June 07, 2004

That felt good!!

In case you haven't seen the movie or the trailer yet, that is what Hermione said after punching Draco in the face in PoA. And it being the title of this post is an indication of the fact that I saw the movie last saturday.

I went with Ashu and Sapna (our friendly neighbourhood couple) to the theatre and actually made them leave home almost 40 minutes before the scheduled starting time of the movie so that we might get reasonably good seats. After all the movie had a record breaking opening day on friday; there was every reason to expect a packed theatre except that it was a 10:40 pm show. What greeted us was a completely empty hall. we were the first to enter it and promptly took the best seats (this was at about 10:15, about 25 minutes too early). Here, I would like to put on record my heartfelt gratitude to Sapna because she showed amazing control and didnt thrash me (as she is wont to do with Ashu :D ) for literally dragging them to the theatre so early.

Anyway after some trailers (Spiderman 2 and The Polar Express among them) the movie started. And within a few minutes of the beginning I had already started to feel uneasy. This was not what I had expected. It was too "jerky"... too uneven.. The flow just wasn't smooth. It probably doesn't really matter to children (almost all of whom have already read the book), but I don't see how can someone who hasn't read the book enjoy the first half. The second half, however, redeemed the movie to a large extent.


I guess Cuaron just took the shrieking shack drama and the Sirius/Buckbeak rescue as the "theme" of the book and hence spent a lot of time on that. This made most of the second half flow nicely and smoothly on the screen. Moreover, these sequences are really what make PoA such an amazing story. In my opinion it probably has the best climax among all the five books and that shows in the movie. Another good thing about the movie was the interaction between Lupin and Harry. All those scenes came out well. In fact, in one of those scenes Lupin talks about Lily and seems to have had romantic ambitions about her in their youth. He said something like "She was there for me when no one else was". This might be one of those hints to future books that Rowling was talking about. Emma Watson didn't disappoint and played the now-teenager Hermione extremely well. Her chemistry with Ron is made much more obvious here than just the awkward hug at the end of CoS.

Buckbeak's parts were done extremely well. It looks very real in most parts. and Harry's flight on Buckbeak is one of the best shot scenes in the movie. The Marauder's map is also presented extremely well. In fact one of the many ways in which the movie moves away from the book is related to the map.

Now, onto the not-so-good parts (besides the uneven nature of the first half sceenplay/editing). This was the longest among the first three books but the makers decided to make it the shortest movie! another 20-30 minutes would probably have made the movie much better from not just the perspective of the fans of the book but also of those who were unfamiliar with the story. There are some things that I'd have liked to be explained in the movie. Like the whole Crookshanks/Scabbers thing. The movie never really shows anything of the sort. They only show Hermione and Ron having a little fight (actually just a banter or sorts) regarding the cat/rat thing but nothing that anyone would remember at the end. To me this was disappointing because I thought it was one of those very brilliant foreshadowing events that Rowling plants in her books. While reading PoA you never realize that even this innocuous/unimportant looking sidetrack will be related to the main story in such a nice way. The fact that Crookshanks' being a half-kneazle and not a cat might be important in the last two books means that Cuaron has left another thing for the later directors to fit in their movies. Similarly, it was never explained who Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs were. I don't know how anyone is supposed to understand why Lupin knows so much about the map. The map's authors was another foreshadowing of what was about to happen in the shrieking shack later on. As the movie stands right now, no one will know about animagi and things like that which are likely to be very important later on. Also, people might wonder why Harry's patronus looked like a stag in the end and not before that. and why stag? Anyway, that might not be anything very important. Though I'd have liked to see that. As I said, the movie could've done all this in 15-20 minutes.

Anyway, bottomline is that the movie doesn't look good in the beginning but ends very well. Overall, its better than the first two movies though. However, that doesn't mean its great cinema.

Monday, May 31, 2004

and the movies...

As I said in a previous post, the book didn't stop me from watching some movies during this period. So, I saw "Amores Perros", "Jhankar Beats", "Lola Rennt", "Manhattan", "Life of Brian", "Toy Story", "Toy Story 2", "Hercules", "The Bicycle Thief" and "The man who knew too much". Out of these "Amores Perros", "Lola Rennt" and the two Toy Stories were very good. "Manhattan" was good too, though it was too much like "Annie Hall" without being quite as good. "Life of Brian" was like "Holy Grail", and just like Holy Grail I didnt quite like it. It was hilarious in parts but avoidable overall. I don't think I am one of "monty python" types.. Though probably holy grail is worth a re-watch. Not Life of Brian. "The Bicycle Thief" is a famous italian movie but I didnt find it quite as good as I expected. It was a good story but the movie was probably a bit too old to have anything that would've impressed me a lot. I guess its difficult to REALLY like REALLY old movies. I had similar problems with "8 and half". Of the old black and white movies (as against newer ones like "Schindler's List" and "Raging Bull") I liked "Dr. Strangelove" and "Paths of Glory" and didn't mind "Rebecca" either.

Atlas Shrugged

This was my first Ayn Rand book, and will probably remain my last. Not because I didn't like the book, but because I expect the other books to be close to as voluminous as this one was and I just dont see myself getting enough time to start reading another book as big as this. Anyway, this one was good. I don't quite agree with the extreme ideas but just the fact that she took her theories to such extremes meant that she had to be pretty imaginative in developing the plot, and THAT was the best part about the book. However, there were times when she just kept on belabouring the point ad nauseum. So much so, that some of the monologues were almost soporific because of the repetition and sheer redundance of ideas.

Also, I thought the ending was anti-climactic. Most of the first half of the book was pretty interesting however, and makes me recommend the book for anyone who likes to read books and has enough time to do it.

Back to blogging!!

Back to blogging, after a looooooong time. Junta ki demand par. :P

So, one of the main reasons why I wasn't giving my blog any attention over last 3 weeks is that I was reading "Atlas Shrugged". Normally when I start reading a book, I don't do anything else in my lukkha time. So all my websurfing, blogging etc was put on the backburner till I was able to finish the book. (by the way this rule does not apply to movie-watching :).... though the frequency decreases drastically, it does not quite go to zero)

Anyway.. here I am... back to blogging...

Friday, May 07, 2004

vivek kumar janu is now in IFS!!!

no, its not Indian Fashion Show. Though I can imagine him being there too.. :P

Janu bhaai, the same who inspired me to start this blog, the same who I keep chatting with all the time, is now Janubhaai IFS (not to be confused with that VVC creation.. this is real!)

Ranked 71 in the civil services exam, he has chosen IFS as his career. And I am SOOOOOO happy for him. I always knew he'll do something BIG. I have always been a big fan of his (and have made it official now on orkut!!

I hope this achievement of his inspires me to do at least something worthwhile in my career at some point of time. (though I fear this is not going to be the case :P)

Monday, May 03, 2004

Dream to reality!!!

look at this!!

I was absolutely stunned by this article. Seems NASA is seriously pursuing a project to make a "Space Elevator", a structure which will rise from some place at earth's equator and will go way beyond the geosynchronus orbit (~36Mm). Its still not exactly a reality but the way these people have thought about each and every aspect of the project is absolutely amazing! seems as if they are pursuing a dream and are sure to turn it into reality.

Read the full article whenever you find some time. Its superb!

And if you are as excited as I was at reading this, then you might want to go ahead and look at this report.

Friday, April 30, 2004

lukkha in lab.....

finally decided to take a break from whatever little I am used to working in my lab.. so, aaj lab mein lukkha-day manaate hue... currently on a movie-trailer watching, spam sending, india-top-20-songs listening spree...

created a yahoogroup called "urlukkhas" today for those bechara souls who are always caned for their tendency to send not-quite-useful mails to our already existing "ur_indians" group.. and suddenly the spam has increased manyfold on the original group... amazing what a little competition can do!! :)

Also, just saw latest trailer of "The Village" and the trailer of "The Terminal".. both are looking good.. Though I am sort of getting bored by the unchanging look/mood of Shyamalan's movies.. I still have to see "Signs" and "The Village" gives you are "Signs" feel yet again.. Though obviously if it is good I wouldnt mind even a bit of deja-vu. As for "The Terminal" it would probably be a nicely made comedy a la "Catch me if you can". In any case, I think Spielberg is incapable of making more than one uninteresting movie within a 10 year span (and its not yet 10 years since "AI" released).

by the way, speaking of lukkhagiri wouldn't it be nice to work close to this place so that jab bhi lukkhagiri karne ka man kare aaraam se ki jaa sake.. :P

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Broke!!! :(

At the rate as which I have been breaking things in my lab, I am sure my advisor is going to give me the pink slip very soon. :( Broke a 150 USD flask about half an hour ago. :( I dont know how to break the news - no pun intended - to him when I'll meet him tomorrow. :(

Sounds Cool!!

And now another technological innovation! something called "thermoacoustics" promises to change the way we refrigerate. Penn State, working with Unilever, has developed this technology which uses Helium and soundwaves to generate refrigeration. No harmful chemicals like CFCs. just plain old innocuous Helium that escapes into space even if there's a leakage. There's an ice cream company called Ben & Jerry's which is using (or going to use?) this system for keeping its ice creams forzen.

jitna mujhe chamka hai, it somehow separates the heat collection in expansion and compression phases of a sound wave's cycle. So, during the compression phase, the heat is released and during the expansion phase, when the gas is cooling down, the system is connected to whatever needs to be cooled. Wonder how do they do it so fast though... or is the frequency of the sound too low? i dont know.. havent read the article completely myself. You can figure it out yourself by going to this link.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I haven't yet started using my gmail account with any regularity. Mainly because it doesnt have any "new mail alert" system. I think it would be difficult for anyone to make gmail his/her primary mail account unless they introduce mail alerts.

I stumbled on some interesting news stories online. here are the links...

1. Russian site is music to the ears

2. Spintronics

3. clips of onstage stripping by Nicole Kidman at West End.

Monday, April 26, 2004

This is turning out to be an unusually intense movie-watching phase even by my standards. This weekend I watched 5 movies and started to watch another. 4 of them were in one sitting!!! "Once upon a time in the midlands" was so-so... the music was superb though... "The Clerks" was okay too.. in fact in parts it was very funny... however, the production values were tacky and performances non-existant... still, worth a dekko for some funny sequences.... "Reservoir Dogs" is pretty interesting watch... if you take away one REALLY violent scene from the movie, its has some pretty entertaining dialogue... Still, its not quite as good as Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill... The "funny" side of Tarantino isn't quite as patent as in his latter movies... Moreover, that one scene is a bit too much... Pulp also had one such sequence, which can only be called "sick"... That is where Kill Bill is so different.. it doesn't have even one scene that I can call truely violent.. it was all pretty comic-book, eye-candy, popcorn-movie stuff... so even though there are more decapitations, limb slaughter and blood floods in Kill Bill than his earlier movies combined, its still not half as violent as some scenes in them...

"Meenaxi" was a bit too abstract... or maybe a bit too simplistic... you understand most of the things that are happening, but the problem is there isn't much happening in the first place.. all the three stories are so simple that it becomes boring... though I must say it wasn't quite as "unbearable" or "unwatchable" as many people are saying... the BGM and cinematography kept me going... in fact, I had rented it mainly to watch the song picturizations... and they were nice, though not quite orginal... "Noor Un Ala" is so much like "Kehna hi Kya" that 'resemblance' would be a gross understatement... "chinnamma chilakkamma" is a like a poor attempt at copying "Humma Humma"... "ye rishta" has a "Pachchai Nirame" feel to it... and "Rang Hai" reminded me of some scenes from "kandukondain kandukondain"... "Badan Dhuaan Dhuaan" has nice choreography though.. and not unoriginal either... however, Tabu's body sort of doesnt gel well with all the dancing... she must be one of the least graceful dancers around... anyway, I wouldnt say the picturizations weren't good.. after all, the fact that some of sehwag's shots remind you of Sachin obviously implies that Sehwag looks good too... I dont think they could've chosen many better songs to try and imitate than what they did...

"China Town" was the fifth movie I saw.. A Roman Polanski movie. Its a murder mystery and a good one too... Jack Nicholson did a good job as the private investigator protagonist... I dont know if he has done too many great movies in the past or is it a coincidence that I keep watching all his good movies very frequently... I have seen three good movies now, with Jack Nicholson giving bravura performances in all of them. The other two were "One flew over the cuckoo's nest" and "The Shining".

Friday, April 23, 2004

I told my officemate about my blog today. He was very amused to learn that mostly my postings are concerened with movies, cricket and little else. He seemed to think that some thoughts about science will be in order. hmmm... so... I dont know what to think about science. :) lets think about a scientist then. aaj hi net par kuchh to Einstein ke baare mein dekh raha tha and I came across this site about Mileva. Nice little details about Einstein's wife (and more importantly his love :) ). Look it up.

So much about science ( i know i know there was zilch about science in that... still.. :) ). Lets come back to the usual movies gossip. I saw four good movies last week.. "Kill Bill-2", "Annie Hall", "Farewell My Concubine" and "Paths of Glory"..

Annie Hall was very funny. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes witty dialogue and "hatke" comedy. Its a Woody Allen movie by the way. I didnt know he makes such funny movies! Maybe this is his only good romantic comedy. But its really good. watch it!

Farewell My Concubine is a chinese film. Lavish in scale and hardhitting in impact, it will simply blow you away. It was pretty slow to start with but picked up pace (or maybe you just start caring for the characters and dont mind the slowness of the narrative any longer... I guess thats the case... it draws you in.. ). And ended superbly! The last 40-45 minutes are simply mindblowing! Those scenes themselves are worth more than the price of the rental, many times over.

Paths of Glory is a Stanley Kubrick movie. My fifth to date. (since you ask, the other four are: "Dr. Strangelove", "The Shining", "2001: A Space Oddyssey" and "A Clockwork Orange"). It was good too. Though probably its effect was somewhat dulled because I saw "Farewell My Concubine" after it. Watch it if you like war dramas. Though its more drama than war.
YOOHOO!!!! ab mai bhi geek!!! :))

thanx to Vivek, I found out that I only needed to log into my blog account to get an invite for gmail!!! :) I guess the happiness is not about getting a gmail account. Its more about getting an invitation to be a Beta tester.. :)))

Sunday, April 18, 2004

As I said in previous post, I saw "Kill Bill - 2" yesterday. here follows a concise review.

Vol 2 isn't quite like Vol 1. While Vol 1 was complete style and absolutely no story, driven primarily by stunning action, soundtrack and cinematography, vol 2 is almost completely dialogue and character driven. the whole of vol 2 doesnt have half as much violence as the bride vs crazy 88 sequence in vol 1. So, even though Vol 1 was more exciting, vol 2 isn't any less satisfying. Though it took some time to build up some speed in the narrative, once it does it becomes thoroughly enjoyable. Tarantino's writing is probably the single most outstanding feature of vol 2 as it was of Pulp Fiction. In that sense vol 2 is closer in genre to Pulp Fiction than Vol 1.

Uma Thurman gets more to do here than she did in vol 1. and she does it extremely well. her vengeful bride is as convincing as the pretty bride-to-be at the wedding chapel as also the doting "mommy" at the end. David Carradine was superb! His Bill was just the right mix of big-boss intimidation and villainous charm.

As for other things, the soundtrack isnt quite as over the top (and hence as exciting) as vol 1. But as I alluded to earlier, the enjoyable dialogue makes sure you'll love this part as well!!
Most of my friends are either busy with their studies or are just plain not interested in talking to me. :( so, as it always happens with me, all the time that I have on my hands is getting devoted to watching more and more movies.. :) I saw "Solyaris", "Once upon a time in the west", "Raging Bull", and "Mystic River" recently.. not to forget "Kill Bill - 2" that I saw yesterday. I also began reading "Atlas Shrugged". Though I dont think I'll be able to finish it anytime soon. Its difficult to find time to read anything. lets see..

Monday, March 15, 2004

three major things happened this weekend. India played an incredible match against Pakistan and Yuva/Ayidha Ezhuthu's music released... and Vivek cleared civil services' mains!! :))

First about the match. As I said, it was incredible. Incredible in the sense that almost 700 runs were scored in a ODI!! a decade ago this would've been unthinkable. In fact, in all fairness, this was unthinkable even three days ago. But going by the recent trend of extremely high scores being chased down with relative ease, it probably should've been expected. It had to happen, though probably not as soon as it did. Pitches are getting flatter than ever. Bowling all over the world is probably at its worst ever. And batsmen are scoring more heavily (and faster) by the day (either just because of the flatter wickets/bad bowling or maybe factors intrinsic to batsmen like improved fitness, more aggressive attitude etc). Its getting ridiculous even. I mean how many of us actually enjoyed this match in its entirety? Maybe just the last 10 overs. But then any match where the chasing team comes withing 5 runs of the target will have exciting last half an hour or so. The target itself is irrelevant for that. I would choose a match in England or New Zealand over such matches anyday (ok, maybe not on the sort of pitches that NZ dished out the last time we toured there.. but more typical pitches there). Its started to become a lottery now. The only thing that seems to matter is which team has more sloggers in the line up and which team's sloggers end up connecting more that the other. That said, it was a delight to watch Dravid play in this match as it has been for last 2 years or so. He came out and suddenly the quality of shots increased manyfold. Not to say that Sehwag wasn't playing exciting cricket but a silken cover drive is always preferable over a bludgeoned slap over the bowlers head. (maybe because its more likely to be reproducible against better bowling and on better pitches).

Sachin is still playing ugly. Its a pity to see him go after the bowling and missing as many as he did. Though, its amazing how he is able to maintain a great average even when he isn't quite at his best. Its his genius that allows him to do that. He might win a MoS playing the way he did yesterday, but I wont be happy. I am praying to see him get his touch back.

As for Ayidha Ezhuthu, its music was supposed to release today (March 15), and I woke up to find that the songs as already online. Though I am yet to find the hindi version online, but I guess it doesnt matter that much. listening to the songs now. They sound "arbit". very different, and hence interesting. But I am not sure different means interesting for the masses too. More so in hindi than in Tamil. I am not very sure that Yuva's music is going to do too well. definitely not as well as Dil Se. But, as always, this is just a first hearing impression. And in Rahman's case that doesnt mean anything. already one of the songs has started the secong time and I am liking it 10 times more than the first time!!! :) I guess I spoke too soon.. :) Hey Goodbye Nanba!!!! :)

Now comes the biggest news! Apne Vivek Kumar "jaanu" ab Vivek Kumar "jaanu" IAS banne waale hain.. bas interview bacha hai.. :)) abhi tak congrats bhi kar paaya kyounki mila naheen vo.. :) Congrats Vivek!!! :) TREAT!!!! :))) aur interview ke liye ATB... :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

two nice links...

Image doctoring

funny olympics
I dont know what to do. Sachin seems to be going through the sort of bad patch that seemed impossible some years ago. and Rahman seems to be coming up with a GRREAT album every other week. Only Sachin's form is keeping me from dying due to too much excitement. Boys, Ennaku 20 Unakku 18, Kangalal Kaithu Sei, Tehzeeb, Lakeer, Meenaxi and now Yuva/Ayitha Ezhuthu and Naani/New releasing within 5 days of each other!!! These two are two of the most highly anticipated albums of this year. It would be a pity if one of them doesnt get enough attention because of the other.

Yuva trailers are already out!!! and they are impressive! Abhishek Bachchan looks impressive for the first time in his career. The trailers are very well done. one 20 second promo tells you a lot about one of the main characters. Even the color in which the movies title is shown at the end is related to the character. Its bloody red for Abhishek Bachchan, vivacious blue for Vivek Oberoi, and inspirational green for Ajay Devgan. Rani and Kareena are looking good. And the background score/songs sound vibrant.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Raam raam junta...

I am back. :) after sooo many days. Meanwhile, LOTR did a clean sweep at the oscars. 11 out of 11 is incredible!!

Also, I saw a lot of movies during last 10 days. "Kill Bill Vol 1", "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", "Road to Perdition", "Fellini's 8 and half" (though couldn't finish this one), "Kal ho naa ho" (still to see the latter half), "Taxi Driver", "Pulp Fiction", and "The Last Samurai". Most of them were very good (except, of course, KHNH whose first half was enough irritating though Preity's presence makes it bearable... specially one song - "Kuchh to huaa hai, kuchh ho gaya hai" was nicely done).

Bill was an interesting movie. "Interesting" because my roomy wasnt very impressed with the movie though I myself was. I had seen "Pulp Fiction" before this and REALLY enjoyed every bit of it. And both "Reservoir Dogs" and "Jackie Brown" were pretty watchable in parts and were partially very good. So, I had very high expectations from Bill when it released. However, for some reason, I didnt get to see it then.. By the time I got a chance to see it, my enthu had been dented somewhat mainly because of less than enthusiastic response the movie generated from Neelaabh (my roomy). I thought - oh, well maybe Quentin Tarantino failed for once. However, the reviews varied from good to great with only a very small number giving it thumbs down. This, along with the fact that Vivek seemed to REALLY like the movie made sure that I was still pretty interested in the movie. So, I went to see it when it was shown in our univ. And man! was I impressed?

Neelaabh said that the movie showed that the director has mastered some elements that make movies interesting but on the whole the movie didnt impress him much. He seemed to think that the movie was too violent and that the director was continuously trying to shock the audience with gore. This didnt go down well with him. I, however, thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Its amazing that I am reluctant to call Bill a violent movie even though its a movie with much blood and violence. Everything is just so obviously over the top that its impossible to take anything seriously. In fact Quentin said that anyone who thinks that its likely that any of this could happen to anyone like a real person has to be crazy. I agree with him. :) Maybe thats why I enjoyed it so much. If someone asks me why exactly I liked the movie, I dont think I can put finger on anything very specific. The story is not the reason. It cannot be. Because it almost doesn't exist. A lot of critics have really appreciated the various hidden (and not-so-hidden) tributes that Q has included in the movie (in fact not just included.. based the movie on) but in my case that isnt the reason either. It cannot be. Because I havent seen all these classic B-movies. But, I see what they mean. Just that I dont really relate the their feeling of "this is godgiri" at watching this brilliant tribute.

So, what is it that made me enjoy this movie so much? Probably the single biggest factor is the soundtrack. Its brilliant. Its more than brilliant. Its ABSOLUTELY GODGIRI for lack of a better term. you see the first scene (which was one of the only two scenes that shocked me... and considering that anyone even remotely interested in the movie knew much before the movie released what they should expect from the first scene its amazing that the scene was still as shocking as it was) and then a slow song with probably the most appropriate lyrics ever written starts as the credits are shown. It was SUPERB!! if this isn't a perfect beginning to a movie, I dont know what is. the song "Bang Bang" by Nancy Sinatra cant probably be appreciated out of this context. I'll never know that what I would've thought of the song had I not heard it for the first time while watching the movie. Maybe I would've liked it even then, but I am sure the impact it would've made in the movie then wouldn't be as much as now. it simply blew me away. And even before the credits finished, I had begun to think that maybe Quentin hasn't failed after all.. :) This was just the beginning though. The soundtrack throughout the movie was just as good as the perfect beginning. Over the years I have come to realize that I am biased towards movies with a good soundtrack/BGM. So, its possible that a movie that has as good a soundtrack as Bill can impress me a lot even though I probably wouldn't have liked it at all with a lesser soundtrack. But I doubt it. There are other things in the movie that one cant help but enjoy. Though there aren't as many witty dialogue moments as in Pulp Fiction, but there are some moments (like the O-Ren Ishii monologue after she becomes the leader of Tokyo underworld) that are hilarious and remind one of Pulp Fiction.

But I dont think these reasons still add up to quite as much as I like the movie. thats what I meant when I said its difficult to put a finger on exactly why I enjoyed it so much. This is where reading reviews help. There are times when you have a feeling which you cant really put in words and then you read a particular part of a review and you know that this is EXACTLY how you feel. some people are way better at putting their feelings in words than I am. :) So some of the following words aren't original. But the feeling they convey is EXACTLY what I felt when I watched the movie.

I think the pleasure of watching this movie comes more from knowing that in the final analysis its just a movie. A movie like LOTR would've been a failure if it wouldn't have made us feel for its characters. If we would've still been aware of the taste of our popcorn when Frodo stumbles over the edge inside Mount Doom then Peter Jackson would've failed in what he had set out to achieve. Quentin however, very obviously, didnt want this. Bill is the ultimate "popcorn movie". You wonder at the amazing action choreography but you know its not real - you marvel more at how something is being shown than what is being shown itself. you actually love the hilarious inconsistencies because you know that the guy who made the movie did all of this on purpose. As a reviewer said its like watching a master chef making a fast-food-chain hamburger for once. Its still a hamburger, but you marvel at the way in which the taste still tells you that its different.. that its a master-chef hamburger. Another reviewer said something which was even more akin to what I thought. Its so obvious in every frame of the movie that the guy is so much in love with the various elements of movie making that he doesnt care two hoots whether anyone likes what he is doing or not. or whether it confirms to anything that it is supposed to confirm to. Its like letting a child loose inside a toy-shop and just watching him do his thing. There's a joy in watching him play with 3 toys together, or try and fiddle with some new toys he comes across. Heck! its fun even to see him break some of the toys apart! :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

posting after a long time. That too just because I want to do a b'day post. :) Even though its not yet 18 here in US, its already my bday in India.

What else? Oscars are coming close. And its becoming likelier by the day that King will get both the big awards.

Saw two movies and a documentary since last post. Khakee was ok-ish. definitely watchable due to a good first half but the second half sort of pulls it down. Amitabh was exceptionally good IMO. And Akshay's character had some good lines to speak. But the overall impact is dented seriously by some cliched dialogue, Ajay Devgan's cliched to the extent of being stupid character, Tusshar's inability to show any semblance of acting, and the three badly placed songs. I was surprised to see Prakashraj in such an inconsequential role. But then maybe he has done infinite other roles like this. My high opinion of him is mainly based on Iruvar. Someone who played Karunanidhi as incredibly convincingly as he did just doesn't look the part in a movie like Khakee. Same is the case with Atul Kulkarni. His character in Khakee just doesnt do justice to his immense talent.

Ek Haseena Thi was the other movie I saw, and it definitely was better than Khakee IMO. More gripping, less cliched, better performances overall and no stupid songs coming in the way of the narrative. Urmila was very good. She normally errs on the side of overacting but here she is near perfect. Though her character was a bit too naive to be entirely beleivable, she played it well enough. Saif did well too, specially as his was a character one doesnt expect to see him portraying.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I'm busy. That in itself is new to me but the incredible fact is that I'm not hating it. In fact I'm working reasonably hard. No real deadline to push me this hard. No nothing. And yet I'm working harder than I've ever thought possible. And I must say working hard has turned out not to be as hard as it sounds. :) Anyway, knowing myself I'm sure this wont last. In fact I'd be surprised if it lasts even a week more.

I have been so busy that I've heard "meenaxi" no more than 10-12 times since it released about a week ago. that is a ridiculously small number. Specially considering that its a superb album. If this album had released 2-3 weeks before it did I'd have completed 10-12 hearings in a single day, two at most.

Meenaxi. What can I say? Rahman is GOD. Tehzeeb was too experimental, Lakeer is a reasonably good score in what seems to be a crappy movie. I know "Rozana" will most likely not be in my favorite songs' list two years from now. Its too "noisy" for lack of a better word. But I guess I just dont like cheerleader songs. I wonder if anyone anywhere likes them. Take out the screechy cheering parts from the song and its pretty enjoyable. "Shehzaade" is similar. Take away the "bang-bang" part and it becomes a good youthful song. I wonder why Rahman has started this rap thing in his songs of late. Except for "Dating" it has never really sounded good. Also maybe in "kama kama". But it really ruined "Chori pe Chori". And now "Shehzaade". It seems its supposed to gel well with the picturization. I hope it does. "Sadiyaan" is really good though. As are "Nachley" and "Paighaam" but their originals were way better. I didnt like "offo jalta hai" one bit even though "Aiyyo Pathikitchu" was a favorite for some time.

Anyway, what started as a meenaxi rave in last paragraph turned into a Lakeer rant. :) so.. meenaxi... its absolutely fabulous!! Best of Rahman's hindi albums since "The Legend of Bhagat Singh" (exluding Saathiya most of whose songs were Alaipayuthey remakes). But even TLOBS wasn't quite as multifarious as Meenaxi. In fact it had one somewhat weak song in "pagdi sambhaal jatta". Meenaxi doesnt have ANY weak composition. Each and every song is a gem. And what's more, they are very catchy from the first hearing which is atypical of Rahman songs.

I had written the previous four paragraphs about a week ago, but didnt get time to complete the post since then. Meanwhile I have been able to hear Meenaxi many times (and not just mp3s - my CD has also arrived!! :) ), and I have no doubt that this album is one of Rahman's best original hindi albums. out of his 17 original hindi albums, I would put Dil Se, Taal, Rangeela, 1947-Earth, Vande Mataram and Meenaxi in the A+ catagory. Yes, Meenaxi is SOO good. Its a pity that it might have to go 1947-Earth way - a fabulous score in an artsy movie that not many people will watch, which means even the songs wont be famous.

I dont think I can pick my favorite song from this album as is true of all the A+ albums I mentioned above. Specially because it varies a lot over time. As of today I would give 10 points to "Rang Hai" and "Potter's Village". 9.75 to "Ye Rishta". 9.5 to "Dhuaan Dhuaan". 9 to "Do Kadam" and "Chinnamma Chilakkamma"and 8 to "Noor un Ala" and "Cyclist's Rhythm".

The Album starts with "Ye Rishta kya kehlaata hai". The song has a dream-like feel to it. Sung very well by Reena Bhardwaj, its a slowish song on the whole but the percussion makes it somewhat pacy. Its one of those songs that sound pretty ordinary the first time, so that you wonder why this song is being shown in the trailors and why is it the first song in the album, but it grows in some hearings so much that it all seems justified. Thats the reason for 9.75. By the way, it seems Rahman recorded the scratch version of this song in his kitchen in london!! Great song, good lyrics by Rahat Indori.

"Chinnamma Chilakkamma" is NOT a tamil/telugu song. Its a fusion of Sukhwindar Singh's high-pitch Chhaiyya-style northy singing and female chorus' telugu lines (I guess it must be telugu as one of the three cities the movie is based on happens to be Hyderabad). The song starts with the telugu lines and they are pretty catchy. Sukhwindar starts with his "Titli Daboch li maine" after some time and the song suddenly shifts to "Rut Aa gaee re" mode from something like "Jiya Jale" mode. On the whole the song is a light and catchy number, the sort that normally becomes famous with junta.

Though I would be disappointed if people remember this album by this song and not by Rang Hai. By the way Sukhwinder has written the lyrics himself and I have no idea what they mean. But then, I havent really thought about the lyrics yet. Maybe they are good.

"Do kadam aur sahi" would actually have been the title song had Husain not changed the title to Meenaxi. A soft (actually verrrry soft) song sung very well by Sonu Nigam. The song doesnt have any percussion and the main instrument is violin and that also leads to the "soft" and soothing feeling of the song besides Sonu's singing. Indori has done a very good job here.

"Badan Dhuaan Dhuaan" is the second song that I had heard from this movie. And it had raised my expectations manyfold. an extremely catchy song which reminds one of "Hai Rama" because of the genre and the percussion in the mukhda. but the antaras are more like "Rang De" as I mentioned in a previous post. Asha Bhosle has done a good job as always, but the star here (besides Rahman, that is) is Sivamani. He has outdone himseld in this song. Great song, though I must say that it has faded somewhat in later hearings but that might just be because of "Rang Hai" that has grown soooo much with each hearing.

"Rang Hai", as must be clear by now, is my favorite song of the album. There's a story behind this one too. it seems Tabu wasn't fit when she had to shoot for this song, but she went ahead and did it. Later she said "Its the music of the movie, its magical. It does something to me". I think I know what she meant. This song really is magical. I dont know what adjective to use except maybe "colorful". and not just because of the lyrics. its one of those songs that fill your heart with happiness for no real reason at all. Its just the way its sung (Alka Yagnik at her very best), its just the instruments, the composition, the lyrics.. its everything actually.. Listen to this song, and give it 2-3 hearings before saying "whats so special about this? its just your average hindi movie song"... beleive me, its worth it!!

"Noor Un Ala" is a qawwali penned by Husain himself. And I guess he sacrificed undestandability of lyrics in the process. I mean, you get the drift of the lyrics, but one has to look in online urdu dictionaries to really understand most words. As for the qawwali itself, its decent. Or maybe its good but hasnt grown on me yet. As of now I feel "Piya Haji Ali" and "wedding qawwali" were much better than this.

I dont think I can write much about "Cyclist's Rhythm" as I am yet to give it a good hearing and its not the sort of piece that captures you even though you aren't paying attention to it. Unlike the other instrumental piece, "Potter's Village" which is extremely good. Not among Rahman's all time best theme music pieces but superb nevertheless.

So, bottomline is, if you are reading this review, and if you aren't named Rahul Tyagi, and if you haven't yet listened to Meenaxi (I know this makes the second condition redundant) then go and do it rightaway... give it some time to sink in, and I assure you, you'll not regret you listened to my advice.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Just had a lengthy talk with Raja. Talked about hazaar things including his being God, my being mere mortal, Rahman's being God, and Iruvar & Satya being absolutely GOD movies.

Basically Iruvar and Satya are my two favorite indian movies by a LOOONG margin. Raja wanted to know that if I *have* to choose one out of these two as my favorite movie (his definition of "*have* to choose" was "if Rahman is on gunpoint..." :D ), which one would it be. So, I *had* to choose one of them. And after some thought I decided that Satya has to be it. I dont know why exactly. I mean Iruvar is Iruvar, and Satya is Satya. Comparing them in any way should actually be made punishable by law.

Anyway, Satya... I remember the first time I saw it I thought it was a great movie. just "great". And I have reason to believe that I probably use that term a bit too loosely at times. specially after first viewing of a movie. There have been movies that have lost their appeal after viewing them 3-4 times. There are some that remain as fresh as the first time (Dil Chahta Hai comes to mind) but Satya is different. It started from "great" and every subsequent viewing doubled my amazement at almost perfection of this movie. I was shocked to learn that the story sort of evolved on the sets. If that is true then all credit goes to Ramu, Apurva Asrani and Bhanodaya for making the final cut as free flowing as it was. Its amazing how every scene blends seamlessly into the next. Probably the only problem with the movie are the songs. It doesnt mean that the songs aren't good. In fact there are some true gems ("Baadalon se Kaat Kaat ke", "Geela Geela Paani" for their depth, "Sapne mein milti hai", "Goli maar bheje mein" for their lightness and "Tu mere paas bhi hai" striking a nice balance between the two), but really the movie would've been better without them. "Kallu mama" and "Baadalon se" are probably the only two songs that don't hinder the narrative's flow too badly.

The best part about the movie (in fact I say this about almost *everything* about this movie) is the developments of each and every character. I can't think of any other hindi movie (except perhaps Sholay) where you can't think of any character that doesn't leave his/her own unique impression on your mind. Its astounding that a three-hour movie can make your acquaintance with 15-20 new characters so well that you actually feel that you know each one of those characters personally. Purely going by screen time characters like Bhau, Aamod Shukla, Khandelkar, Pyaari, Bhau's bodyguard, Chandu, the long-haired accomplice of Bhiku (what was his name??), Aamod's wife, character played by Sushant, Jagga, Mule can't be called important characters. Most of them had no more than 4-5 minutes of dialogue in the movie and yet, every one of them leaves as indelible an impression as the main characters of Satya, Bhiku, Kallu Mama and Vidya. Saurabh Shukla and Anurag Kashyap's screeplay should obviously get the credit as much as the performances.

Ah! the performances! Its difficult to find many movies where so many actors did such a consistently brilliant work throughout the movie. Come to think of it, if anything, Chakravarthy's performance was probably the weakest in the movie. And this is not to say that he was bad. Just that he could've been better in some sequences.

Bhiku Mhatre has earned so many raves over the years for Manoj Bajpai that there's probably nothing I can say here that hasn't been said infinite times before. He was truely awesome! Shockingly brilliant! Saurabh Shukla's Kallu Mama couldn't have been better portrayed. Urmila, in retrospect, was adequate in a role not demanding too much. But considering that this was completely unlike anything anyone expected from her, she attracted almost as much attention as Manoj Bajpai and enhanced people's expectations from her manyfold.

However, it wasn't these performances that are the reason why I think this movie is in a different league altogether from most other movies. After all most great movies have great lead performances. Actually, it was the performance by those 4-5 minute characters that actually lifts this movie from being great to the greatest ever. Paresh Raawal is outstanding as Aamod Shukla. His Aamod is a sincere, intelligent police commissioner and Paresh looks so natural that using the word "performance" doesnt seem quite right. He probably has most of the very few cliched lines in the movie and credit should go to him that it didnt stop him from doing an outstanding job. One only has to see this movie and then Hera Pheri to realize just how versatile this guy is.

Problem with Satya is that there are simply so many great things about this movie that I can't possibly mention all of them in what was essentially meant to be *just* another blog post. Just the fact that I dont have time to start about bravura performances by Shefali, Govind Namdeo etc even though its already almost 2 days since I started typing this is mindboggling. :)

Anyway, the bottomline is that Satya is one of my two favorite movies. (how's this for a tame ending to a post? :) )

Thursday, January 29, 2004

listening to meenaxi's two songs in between my experiments. "Badan dhuaaN dhuaaN" and "Ye rishtaa kyaa kehlaataa hai". And first hearing itself is enough to say that these are superb songs! this actually is scary in a sense, because most of the time Rahman's songs dont impress in first hearing and grow slowly. I remember some songs that I liked from the first hearing but they aren't the ones that remain with you some years later. Anyway, lets see.. as of now "dhuaaN dhuaaN" is sounding REALLY good. in fact reminds one of "Rang De" but maybe thats only because of Asha Bhosle and the genre of the song. Sivamani has done great work in the song. The mood of the song remains consistently upbeat because of his beats. thats the first impression anyway, I know I'll have many different things to say in a few days time. Specially because these arent really good quality mp3s. just 56kbps :( I hope Sony makes the CDs available in US asap.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

saw some trailers of "Meenaxi". First impression is pretty good. The song in the trailer "yeh rishta kya kehlaata hai" is easy on the ears. and the background score in the other trailer was quite promising too. The cinematography was great as it always is when Santosh Sivan handles it. And then there is Tabu - she either does crappy movies or really interesting ones. This one seems interesting. As does "Maqbool". Its trailers look really good too. There's this song which goes something like "jhini jhini jhini..... jaaoon main jaaoon piyaa ki gali" - it sounds great, I have been humming it since morning. As for "Meenaxi", its music has already released but I havent yet got time to listen to it. I hope its as good as the first glimpse suggests.. "Tehzeeb" was very unusual and took a LOT of hearings to get used to.

Talking about trailers, "Eternal Sunshine of a spotless mind" has a good theatrical trailer. It has Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst and Elijah Wood. looks like a fun movie.

Also, read the epilogue of Triangle Prophecy yesterday. And it wasn't as uninteresting as I thought it would be. There's an unexpected twist (as opposed to an expected twist??) in the end. More importantly, the series has been given a fitting conclusion. There aren't many appropriate ways in which you can end a seven part story about a boy who finds out that he is a wizard in the first part and goes through infy adventures through the rest of the story. It just won't seem nice to read something like "and Harry joined $quidditch_club and married $girlfriend and lived happily ever after" or that he became an auror or anything like that. He either will have to die or something like what Barb came up with in TP.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Academy awards' nominations were announced today. King is nominated for 11 awards but that doesnt include any of the acting awards. I was expecting a supporting actor's nomination for Sean Astin. Anyway, it seems almost certain that its going to get the best picture and/or best direction awards.

For some reason, even though King is a great movie, I wasn't quite as excited after watching it as I was after Fellowship and Towers. I guess thats mainly because King has many more similarities with Towers than Towers had with Fellowship. It seems in a sense Towers part 2. Anyway, the series as whole definitely deserves at least one best film and best direction awards.

Monday, January 26, 2004

have to do hazaar things over next few days. but just found out that the epilogue of "Harry Potter and the Triangle Prophecy" has already been published on Schnoogle! so will have to find some time to read it.
Also, saw the teaser trailer of Kill Bill Vol. 2 yesterday. I havent been able to see the first part even. its coming to the campus theatre on Feb 28 though. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2004

My first post on this blog. have tried blogging before but didnt continue. Got inspired again by Vivek's blog. Lets see how many days I can do it this time.