Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Its that time of the year...

Ok folks, summer is over. Winter is still slightly out of range. So, what makes me all excited? Its trailers like this! Forget about all the blockbusters that come from May to August and November-December, the real quality American cinema comes up mostly as movies that start slowly, releasing somewhere in october-november and picking up steam by word of mouth or great reviews till their appeal is irresistible by the time the Academy voters decide their choices for the oscars. Not to say that there haven't been movies targeted as major blockbusters that are great critical successes (LOTR) and won oscars (again.. ROTK/Titanic) but most of the nominations at least have been from these "small"/independent movies targeted specifically for oscar glory. Most of these movies' publicity campaigns are uncovered around this time of the year. The trailers of these movies are, if anything, even more important than the studio biggies because the target audience is small and quite discerning. So a not-so-good trailer can pretty much kill the movie even before it releases. Which really doesn't happen very often because the trailers ARE pretty good in almost all the cases. And that is why paying a visit to Apple trailers or your favorite trailers site around september is so exciting.

So, here comes the first such lets-target-some-oscar-nominations movie of the season that I have run into. George Clooney directs his second feature after the acclaimed Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and calls it Good Night, and Good Luck. Look at the trailer yourself and decide how good you think this one might be. I personally LOVE the black and white visuals as also whatever little the trailer has to say. Looks like a journalism movie a la All the President's Men to me. If the performances and the screenplay is anything like that movie, it will be a great movie! The trailer seems to suggest that we won't be disappointed at least as far as the performances are concernced. Have a look at it here.

my mp3 player is saying...

"Rohit! Achchha achchha to tum Rohit ki behen ho! "

"No, actually main...."

"Don't be silly! Rohit aur main to bahut gehre dost hain... balki dost kya, main to kahoonga vo mere bhaai jaisa hai... just one dance?"

"I'm really sorry, but no."

"Agar main tumse ye kahoon ki main tumse pyaar karta hoon.. tab bhi naheen?"

PS: don't know what's happening? Then you really need another dose of DCH. Go and see it again! :)

How not to write a Constitution's Preamble.

I have made it a habit of going off-blog for long periods of time and then coming back with nothing more than interesting links from other people's blogs (ok, maybe only from Amit Verma's India Uncut).

So, here is a hilarious post inspired by the recently proposed Iraqi constitution's preamble. Not too long a post. Take some time off to read it. Link, obviously, via India Uncut.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Water Water Everywhere....

Well, not quite.. not yet anyway. Hopefully soon enough. Deepa Mehta of Fire and 1947-Earth fame (and Bollywood Hollywood not-so-fame) is about to release her much awaited Water pretty soon. Much awaited because of quite a few reasons. For those of you who just came back from a 10 year long hitchhiking across the galaxy, the movie got more than its fair share of press when Mehta tried to shoot it in Varanasi and some hindu fundamentalists took umbrage at supposedly blasphemous nature of the movie's script and ended up vandalizing the movie's sets and stopping the shooting. The movie would've been highly anticipated even if that controversy hadn't erupted simply because Earth and 1947-Earth were pretty good movies (too slow for me at that time, but there were some good things in both of them.. not least of them A R Rahman's music), and Water is their follow up in spirit. Also, any script okayed by Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das together had to have the potential of some great performances at the very least and a great story/script too, hopefully. If that wasn't enough, Rahman went ahead and said that he liked his work on the movie so much that this is probably his only score that he'd himself give 10/10. This, after he already had gems like Roja, Bombay, Thiruda Thiruda, Pudhiya Mugham, Duet, Iruvar, Rangeela, 1947-Earth, Dil Se and Taal in his kitty. That, I need not emphasize, WAS saying something. Specially as it could not have been just a publicity gimmick because he mentioned it in an interview much before the movie even started shooting. He really must've been happy with the songs. That Mehta waited so long till she could go ahead and shoot the movie (in Colombo to avoid controversies) and never parted with the songs must say something about her conviction about making the movie in the end and also her confidence in the music. Even though the cast had to be changed to Lisa Ray, John Abraham and Seema Biswas its the same movie with the same songs (even though ARR couldn't do the background score anymore). That itself is reason enough to cheer the appearance of the first trailer online.

I must say that I'll approach the music without high expectations. First of all, the songs will most likely not be commercially successful as they aren't meant for that. Like 1947-Earth, they'll probably be absolutely brilliant gems that only a few of us will get to hear. Doesn't matter. If the songs are anything like 1947-Earth, I'd probably be absolutely delighted over next few months. As for Rahman saying that 10/10 thing, much as it excites me, I'm trying my best not to think about it a lot. Because chances are that we have had glimpses of whatever inspiration he got at that stage in many period/parallel movies he has done since then. Lagaan, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Bose, Swades and Mangal Pandey were very similar in their demand for music and almost all of them had great music. I'd be lying if I say that I'm expecting Water to surpass these albums in quality, 10/10 or not. Whatever little of the songs I can hear in the trailer seems to suggest that Water will definitely be a great addition to ARR's oeuvre, but it might not be the first album people will write about in his biography. Doesn't matter. Great is still great even though its not as great as the greatest. :)

Download and see the trailer (in Real format) from this link (you might have to scroll down a little)...

Not the greatest trailer they could've prepared surely. Absolutely bland in terms of the dialogue they chose to keep in the trailer. Bad vocals overall. But the visuals are pretty good. And the music will obviously sound much better if you listen to full songs and not just a few seconds. :)

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Zhang Ziyi!! Someone please tell the studio people not to release Memoirs of a Geisha, I don't know what I'll do if they let me anywhere near the theatres! After absorbing her stunning looks in House of Flying Daggers, here comes her first real hollywood movie (well, its an English language movie directed by Chicago's Rob Marshall and executive produced by Steven Spielberg... that should qualify it). Called Sayuri in Japan after the protagonist played by Ziyi, the movie's first trailer has hit the net and DOES SHE LOOK AMAZING!!!! Can't wait for the movie!!! It might not be a great movie in any other sense, but if the trailer is anything to go by, I probably won't notice anything else in the movie anyway. ammm.. on second thoughts, Gong Li is in there too, so probably I WILL notice her performance, if nothing else. Going by the movies that I have seen till now Gong Li is an amazing actress (but, again, even if Zhang Ziyi starts acting like Gong Li, people will still find it difficult to concentrate on her acting.. :) )

See the trailer at this link..

or just wait for the official release of the trailer on Apple or somewhere else.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Google: The Evil Edition

NYTimes has come up with an unintentionally hilarious article about Google. Based on misplaced envy, some silicon valley dudes throw mud on Google and lo and behold! we have the definitive evidence that Google is next Microsoft and that we need to save the world from its evil clutches! I tried to find out the reasons why it is being called evil. Here are some-

1. Sucked the best talent away from the market.
2. Caused an increase in the salary of skilled software engineers in the silicon valley.
3. Coming up with innovations too fast.
4. Diversifying into too many areas which doesn't leave others to do any work.

ammm... Is it just me or does it sound like Google's biggest problem is that it is simply too good? Most of the quotes there are analogous to "the neighboring shop is evil because it sells better goods at a better price and provides better customer service which takes away all the customers from other shops." I'm sorry but I really don't understand that line of thinking...

On a lighter note, how can a company that has a building number pi be evil! Come on people!!! :)

Link to the article via Slashdot.

Google finally does what everyone has been waiting for!

Google FINALLY does what everyone has been waiting for. It disappoints. After authoring a deluge of revolutionary (or at the very least, extremely good) products, we now have Google Talk - the much awaited IM application from Google. And it looks like something one of my friends might have written in his spare time. The interface is very uncluttered which can be a very good thing (and is probably one of the main reasons why Google started becoming as popular as it now is) but it is SO uncluttered that it doesn't seem to have ANYTHING at all!! I am devastated.... :(

The only hope is that they are planning to introduce a lot of features and this is the most bare beta version. But then, what was the rush to release it? I mean, come on!!! An IM without a smiley? maybe that's what I'd have enjoyed before I got used to yahoo messenger. there was a time I actually liked the bare-bones linux talk more than all the fancy yahoo messenger stuff. But not now. Specially with the often hilarious (and sometimes absolutely brilliant) yahoo audibles, I think yahoo is ages ahead of Google Talk.. and only I know how miserable I am feeling while saying that. I guess I am feeling even worse than normal because I have been using the new international audibles from yahoo for some days now and they are a riot!!! Any person understanding hindi can't help but love them. And now I get Google Talk.... sigh!

I'm sorry Google. You probably didn't realize that you have no right to dissappoint... please come up with features at the minimum rate of one per day or I'll have to consider commiting suicide. Or bomb Googleplex. Or shifting my loyalties.... Naah! I guess I'll just stick to commiting suicide.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"Supers" selected...

ICC has just announced the final squads for the super series scheduled to take place in Australia this coming october. The squads had been the subject of much speculation over last few days (well, I was speculating at any rate...). The squads are:

super test squad: Graeme Smith (capt), Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid (vc), Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis, Andrew Flintoff, Shaun Pollock, Mark Boucher, Steve Harmison, Shoaib Akhtar, Muttiah Muralitharan, Daniel Vettori.

ODI squad: Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar (vc), Jacques Kallis, Brian Lara, Kevin Pietersen, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Flintoff, Shaun Pollock (capt), Kumar Sangakkara, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Makhaya Ntini, Muttiah Muralitharan, Daniel Vettori.

pretty strong squads these. That is no surprise - these are world XI squads, after all. I am already salivating at the prospect of seeing so many individual battles over the super test. Not too excited about the ODIs though. I know that for many people the fact that there is no real "national" bias added to the contest will decrease the level of interest by a lot, I personally don't think that the level of play would be less than any normal test. Add the quality of players and it should be a cracker of a match. Not expecting anything as amazing as the current ashes, yet it'd be great.

As for the teams, I probably would've put Inzamam ahead of Sachin in the test squad for both form and fitness reasons. Also, Kumble ahead of Vettori. However, their records against Australia were probably what tilted the balance in favour of Sachin and Vettori. Not saying I personally wouldn't have wanted to see Sachin there. In fact I am very happy he is there. Gives him an opportunity to play another great innings! And what can be better than that! Just that Inzamam will probably be justified in feeling hard done by.

As for ODIs, Sehwag is probably there on the strength of his performances more than a year ago. Gayle would probably be better. Again, I'll love to see Sehwag bat (if he gets to bat, that is)! Just that Gayle should probably have been there purely going by performance.

Monday, August 22, 2005

More important than the stars!

In this age where most mainstream hollywood movies' fate is decided by the first 3 days' box-office collections, it is increasingly becoming clear that the publicity machinery is almost as important for a movie as the movie's director. What's more, as the title suggests, it is more important than the actors in many cases. A Russell Crowe can't carry a good movie like Cinderella Man to box-office success simply because the studio didn't bother to create the requisite buzz about the movie (so much so that some of my friends thought I was recommending a chick-flick to them when I was talking about Cinderella Man!) whereas Fantastic Four grosses 150 million dollars without having any established stars purely because its publicity fooled people into thinking that it is one of the big summer movies that they should not miss!

So, its not just the director but the person who cuts the teasers and the trailers for the movie who are the major influences behind most big movies. (Which makes my example of Cinderella Man slightly inconsistent. Its first trailer was very promising as I had posted long ago. I guess they just forgot to show the trailer anywhere!) If all this is true, then I guess Warner Bros can rest assured that Harry Potter - 4 has a great chance of being a blockbuster. Its teaser was ok-ish but the latest trailer is actually pretty exciting. I still think Cho Chang could've been better looking and the dragons and the merpeople could've been better visualized but overall its a pretty good trailer. That it matters little for movies like Star Wars and Harry Potter that have a huge built-in audience is another matter though. Still, I think little things like this can make the difference between a 250-million dollar blockbuster and a 350-million dollar monster-hit. Have a look at the trailer here..

Another post about other upcoming movies coming soon...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Kumars hit the blogosphere....

One of my batchmates at IITB, Pradeep Kumar Ravikumar (pkrk) happens to be a really good writer. Back in IIT, I had read some of his really funny postings on newsgroups and was quite impressed by his writing and sense of humor. Last week, during my random blog reading spree, I bumped into his blog and read a few of his recent posts. As an example, read this. And if you like it, bookmark his blog. He consistently writes as well as this post. :)

Moved to the core...

A post about 1984 riots in Delhi that I found via Amit Verma's India Uncut. Easily one of the most moving experiences I have had.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Falling back on Big-B

With not many things seeming to work in apna entertainment industry, people are going back to fundamentals. Which means going back to Amitabh Bachchan. KBC-2 just made its debut (with an IITian being the first contestant, unless I am ill-informed) on TV and two of our more exciting filmmakers have decided to remake old Bachchan classics and see if they can't make it work.

RGV is remaking Sholay (and we have already had a mock casting for this project on Vivek's Space) and the cast is slowly taking shape. Amitabh, obviously, is playing Gabbar and should do great in the role. Abhishek will probably carry off Veeru well enough. And going by the trailers of his debut movie - James - Mohit Ahlawat playing Jai will probably prove to be the jarring note in an otherwise good movie. I don't know what RGV was thinking. Or maybe its just the guys who made the trailers of James who picked up his worst moments from the movie and put them in. I hope so. Going by whatever little I have seen of him, he might very well be the worst thing to happen to bollywood since Fardeen Khan. To compensate for this error of judgement, RGV came up with the inspired casting of Mohanlal as Thakur. I don't know how RGV visualizes Thakur in this Mumbai Underworld version of Sholay, but as long as his vision is exciting, I am sure Mohanlal will fit it to a T. I can spend 10 dollars just to see the "ye haath humko de thakur" and "ye haath naheen faansi ka fanda hai Gabbar" scenes with Amitabh and Mohanlal. (Not suggesting that there will be exactly same scenes in the movie, but there must be exciting analogs planned...)

Also, in a development which shocked me initially Farhan Akhtar has decided to do a remake of Don as his follow up of the brilliant Dil Chahta Hai and pretty good Lakshya. I was expecting something more original from him. But after the initial shock had worn down I am finding myself getting excited about this project. I don't remember much of Don and never knew it was a movie worth remaking but it seems clear that Farhan is a fan of the movie (Didn't Salim-Javed script the original? I think they did...) and has done enough work on it to convince SRK to do the movie. Considering that SRK is now following the sensible Aamir formula of shooting only one movie at a time and doing only about one movie a year, that has to be a good sign. Its also nice to see SRK working outside his coterie of directors. Working with such eclectic mix as Amol Palekar, Ashutosh Gowarikar and now Farhan Akhtar can only be good for him. (Doesn't mean I am against Yashraj-Dharma-Farha Khan style of movies...). Anyway, the buzz is that Priyanka Chopra is reprising Zeenat Aman's role, Arjun Rampal is playing Pran's character, and Kareena has taken up the vamp played by Helen in the original. Isha Kopikkar is the latest to join the cast as probably the girlfriend of the original Don in the movie. Farhan is also set to keep at least two of the original songs (Khaeeke Paan Banaaras Waala and another).

Two projects definitely worth waiting for.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Suicide Club

You are a cricket lover?
You are sleeping?
or.. you are awake but not following Ashes?

I am sorry to inform you that you'll be commiting suicide today when you know what you missed...

An incredible match! An amazing series!!

Update: the match is now over. And it gave all the promised thrills till the last ball bowled. see the full scorecard here.