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My faith in humanity….

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….and its future is currently at an all-time low. As the Dictator pointed out, such faith should be pretty much non-existent in a world which consists of Twitters and Rediff message boards. But this article in The Telegraph that tries to create equal arguments for evolution and creationism, plunges moi into epic despair.

However, there is some comic value in this. Just read the comments section, especially a long, ‘reasoned’ post by one “Matt Klemp September 10, 2009 at 01:32 PM”. Just to wet your appetite:

Thirdly, whilst i am a part of the most devout christian movement in history, i fully accept that no mere human being can or ever will know for certainty whether there is a god or not until he (God) taps one on the shoulder and says well done. Do you understand? both religion/god and scientific/evolution is pure theory!!! Never has it been fact. Like the majority of court cases one must digest the available data and and make the most probable conclusion.

The whole comment reproduced below the fold, it’s just too awesome and deserves a wider read.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by BongoP'o'ndit

September 10, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Posted in Fun, LOL, Rants, Religion, Reviews

Tagged with , ,

Mamma Mia !

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The musical is fluffy, predictable and borderline chick-flick. The cynical view would be to dismiss it a silly exercise in stringing  together hits of ABBA around the barest of plots.

However, once you get past the initial 20-30 minutes dominated by cheesy teeny-bopper exuberance and  awkward chemistry among the three leading men, the movie lifts itself and there is much fun to be had. Especially with the appearance of Meryl Streep and her two friends, it is tough not to catch the infectious energy of foot-tapping, shoulder swinging numbers like Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, Voulez-Vous etc.

A word about Meryl Streep: whether dancing around in tight-fitting spandex or  soulfully crooning ‘The winner takes it all….‘ on the backdrop of the Aegean, her performance alone (not surprisingly) is worth the price of admission. Julie Walters and Christine Baranski as her friends are delightfully funny.  P ierce Brosnan can’t sing to save his life, but made it up by a put-on goofiness that indicated he was aware of the lack of singing talent. The most irritating bits were the parts played by the teenagers, but that could just be ageism catching up with me.

So overall, in spite of the occasional tackiness, watching Mamma Mia is not an altogether unpleasant way to spend a Friday evening; especially if you are a  bit liquored up and ready for a relaxing time (and if you happen to be a closet ABBA fan).

However, the best movie to be strung around ABBA songs still remains Muriel’s Wedding.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

July 14, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Khoya Khoya Chand

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Kyun ………….Khoye Khoye Chand Ki Firak Mein Talash Mein Udas Hai Dil

Kyun………..Anpne Aap Se Khafa Khafa, Zara Zara Sa Naraaz Hai Dil

(full lyrics)

….asks the Man [1] in a moment of nirvanic clarity that (to my drunken mind) could possibly be achievable only under the influence of (1) one dry sapphire martini, stirred not shaken with olives (pitted please – thank you), (2) several glasses of the finest New Zealand Pinot and Barossa Shiraz-Viognier and finally (3) couple of Oban 14-years old (the only one made available by Diageo), diluted not with ice, but only a few drops of water (all of course, paid out of someone else’s pocket). Or any combination thereof.

But who knows…..Swanand Kirkire probably did not need all that as an inspiration. And…… lyrics such as these……..touch the heart, even without the lubricating effect of alcohol ?

But this post is not about alcoholic debauchery (no matter how tempting that sounds); it is about the soundtrack for the film, Khoya Khoya Chand.

Yes I know, for those of you who are into these things, the music is about an year old. Even the film has been released, done and dusted.

But, but……Good music, like Good Wine and Scotch, finds me a bit aged (the music, wine and scotch, not me), and certainly fruitful in its enjoyment.

Shantanu Moitra recreates the lilting music of the 50/60s in the soundtrack for Khoya Khoya Chand…. – a soundtrack that will draw inevitable comparisons to his period pieces in Parineeta ; the latter perhaps comes off slightly better, but only marginally so.

Don’t expect a full-fledged review, but In Brief:

Yeh Nigahen‘ is an ‘inspired’, but well done reworking of ‘Jingle Bell Rocks‘, ‘Khusboo Saa‘ is a jazzy throwback to the seductive blurriness in-between the vamp and heroine essayed by Tanuja in ‘Raat Akeli Hai’ (Jewel Thief), ‘Chale Aayo Sainya‘ is an enjoyable thumri sung with confidence by Shreya Ghosal, and for some reason, it is the title song ‘Khoya Khoya Chand‘ (discussed above) – best enjoyed if you imagine the singer lovelorn and lost in unrequited love, and under the influence of a few pegs – that I have (possibly unreasonably) taken to heart.

The highlights however are the two slow numbers: Sonu Nigam’s ‘Oh re Paakhi‘  wrenches the soft heart, but it is Shreya Ghosal and Pranav Biswas’ rendition of ‘Sakhi Priya‘ – a song about love and longing – that really the captures the imagination and causes you to succumb to the entire soundtrack.

Sakhi Piya Jo Mein Na Dekhun
Tu Kaise Kate Aandheri Ratiyan-

Simple lyrics, yet so touchingly composed and essayed.

Follow the last link to enjoy.

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[1] Not me right now, but what male hasn’t faced such soulful listlessness, in general ?

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

May 15, 2008 at 11:49 am

Chak De Rocks

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Chak De India
employs quite a few movie cliches – the underdog, woefully unmatched sports team winning in the end, individualism versus unity, (borderline) ethnic and gender stereotypes – but still manages to be exciting. The trick is pulled off because, as Jai Arjun notes, the filmmakers resist the urge to overdo the cliches, or any kind of rampant melodrama for the matter. Even the patriotic angle is somewhat restrained. Technically, the film has to be one of the better products to come out of Bollywood – I was quite impressed by the choreography of the hockey sequences and how they showed the tactical planning by teams.

My one big complaint would be the ending, which I thought should have focused more on the women’s celebration than SRK – but it probably has something to do with his contract clause stipulating about ten minutes of screen crying time.

Overall, an entertaining experience and one that more than made up for having previously sat though the execrable Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, a film that even under the influence of half a bottle of fine Shiraz, manages to make Dhoom 2 look like a Bergman production.

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Also re-watched last night: Bachelor Party, possibly the best raunchy, non-PC and ass-kickingly hilarious slapstick comedy to be ever made (and features a very young Tom Hanks). Best line from the film:

Rudy: Let’s have a bachelor party with chicks and guns and fire trucks and hookers and drugs and booze!
Gary: Yeah! Yeah yeah! All the things that make life worth living for!

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

August 26, 2007 at 7:48 pm

Posted in Films, Reviews

An Inconvenient Truth

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Finally got around to watching this Oscar-winning documentary, which essentially features former US Vice-President Al Gore presenting a powerpoint on Global Warming – its causes, effects and possible cures. However, it is not just a dour lecture – interspersed within the data presentation are moments of droll humor and short segues into the personal life of Gore.

Given the current climate over global warming, it is difficult to view and comment on a documentary like this without a disclosure on personal political beliefs. So in that vein, let me say that I used to be a global warming skeptic – but not any more from the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of climate changes. But I do differ from most so-called environmentalist in what to do, and more importantly, how to go about tackling the issue. I believe in pragmatic approaches, rather than a preaching, and linking economic well-being to the solutions.

So coming from a slightly skeptical viewpoint, I thought An Inconvenient Truth does an exemplary job of explaining the challenge facing humankind. Gore does not revel in painting a doomsday scenario as a result of warming. Arguably he presents the information in a non-alarmist manner, even while underscoring the importance of acting quickly. He offers concrete steps to overcome the problem and even panders to my own politics towards global warming – convince people that working towards addressing climate change can have economic side benefits.

Unfortunately, while Gore appears to be genuinely passionate about this issue – his mere involvement (as a former Vice-president, presidential candidate, and prominent Democrat) might actually be undermining the issue by making it an overtly political one, rather than a scientific-economic debate. How else, would you explain the otherwise erudite Russell Roberts of Cafe Hayek, asking an inane, obfuscating question such as this one.

Suppose we discovered that the earth was cooling rather than warming due to a natural cycle. Would you encourage people to drive more and use more carbon-based energy as a way of warming the earth? (link)

That is not to say that there are no political elements in the documentary itself – Gore makes his entrance on the note and on a few occasion mentions the failed 2000 bid. And he does not shy away from taking jabs (well-deserved though) at the current administration.

Overall, no matter which side of the fence you are on – this is a documentary well worth pursuing.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

April 10, 2007 at 11:55 am

Posted in Reviews

Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd & Weekend Cocktail

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Honeymoon Travels

The ensemble comedy about five newly-wed couples on a bus trip to Goa for their honeymoon is actually enjoyable and entertaining in a Friday night chill-out kind of a way. The couples are expectedly represented through diverse groups (in more ways than on simple ethnic lines) – stereotypes abound, but I thought were used in a funny way. The Bong stereotyping, with the diminutive Bangali bhadrolok (Kay Kay Menon) along with his waiting to break-free wife (Raima Sen) actually hit home….as did the some of the issues that couple had to go through.  Kay Kay Menon really excels;  Raima Sen is hot, but can actually act a bit as well. Looks like acting genes skip a generation !

Others include a gregarious Delhi girl (Amisha Patel) who speaks plenty for everyone including her strangely reticent husband; an elderly inter-religious couple played by Bomani Irani and Shabana Azmi; the apparently perfect couple, who are in total synchrony and haven’t had a single fight for sixteen years (Minisha Lamba and Abhay Deol) ; finally, there is a recently returned NRI (Vikram Chatwal) with his, what would be called ‘unhibited’ Indian wife (Sandhya Mridul).

 There are several interesting twists and turns through the film (I wont reveal them, but spoilers abound in various reviews you will find on the net) and the director packs in lots of details, surprising for a Hindi film. But it mainly suffers from a lack of meshing the stories together. Also, at times the humor is lame, and scenes involving post-marriage elopement of one of the brides are pretty tacky (unless it was intended that way to spoof the typical running away from home scenes in Hindi films).

I particularly enjoyed the way each couple’s backstory was introduced by the voiceover of a radio jockey reading out letters on a show, followed up with old Hindi movie songs. I have always maintained that Hindi movies underutilize classic songs from the past (Hollywood does a much). Main Hoon Naa is the only film I can remember that made good situational use of old songs. Several of the original songs in the films are worth checking out too – Halke Halke, Sajnaji Vaari Vaari and Pyar Ki Yeh Kahani (in the film it is pictured on a very well executed Salsa-Tango combo dance between the perfect couple).

Eventually, Honeymoon Travels is one of those films you can decide to like or hate depending on the mind set you sit down to watch with. There is plenty that is wrong, but enough scenes that are worth a chuckle.

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Also, the weekend cocktail recommendation: I forget what this cocktail was named originally, I call it ‘The Bitter Rose‘. As you sip the drink, enjoy the sweet taste with a bittery orange finish.

Pour ingredients into a shaker with ice; shake and strain. Garnish with a twist of orange. You can change the bitter to sweet ratio by varying the Campari and Cointreau depending on taste.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 10, 2007 at 3:37 pm

New kitsch, old kitsch

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So weekend before last, we were watching Dhoom2. Normally I would not undertake such an ordeal, but the movie garnered so much negative reviews, I wondered if it might entertain in the ‘so bad – that it’s good’ kind of way. Plus, I was drunk, with friends, and posters suggested gratuitous displays of Biapasha Basu‘s legs – so I took the plunge.

Since the GreatBong has satireviewed (a word I just made up meaning reviewed in a satirical manner) the movie so there is little to review as such, but a few observations anyway:

1. Unless you are a huge fan of Hrithik Roshan, his impossibly chiseled pecs and his incredibly fluid dance movements, this movie is not an experience you want to inflict on anyone – save the worst of enemies.

2. If you do not fall under (1) and still find yourself compelled to watch, make sure that like me, you are sloshed and have plenty of friends around to appreciate your wise-cracks (also so that you can have fun watching the infamous Aish-Hrithik kiss in slo-mo, see below). Three to four martinis (with more than liberal measures of gin or vodka), more than half a bottle of wine, or few six-packs of beer (the last has the added advantage of sending you to bathroom-breaks quite often) should do it.

3. It does not bode well for a film where the best performance, relatively speaking, comes from the goofiness of Uday Chopra.

4. I had a bad case of ‘like-alitis’ (interjection of the word ‘like’ within, like, every two, like, or like, three spoken, like, words) for a couple of days after trying to mimic Aishwarya’s (Suneihri from Andheri) conversation style during the movie. Thankfully, they did not incorporate the ‘you know’ habit. Seriously, are the youths in India really trying to out-do their American counterparts in the bad-speaking department ?

Ditto question for Hrithik‘s American-urban-ghetto getup and basketball playing routine.

5. Perhaps it was the alcohol, but a few things I actually liked in the film: Bipasha Basu‘s second role as the Copacabana hot bimbo surfer Monali Bose; I thought her ‘Hi Housie-Wowsie !’ routine was a hoot; Uday Chopra imagining married life in a Baywatch slo-mo sequence was fun as well.

6. There was much anticipation for the widely talked about, litigious, and now censored-on-request-of-future-in-laws kissing scene between Aish and Hritik. Perverted as we were, the scene was paused and slow-forwarded for an in-depth analysis. My only comment is that I hope Aish pays better lip-service to Abhishek in real life.

7. The filmmakers, one assumes in all honesty, were attempting to make a slick production that combined the suaveness of Ocean’s 11/12, edge-of-seat actions of Mission Impossible and the sexiness of Bond movies. However what is served up is only a con-fused mishmash of these elements. I am not even talking about the plot-holes and physical unrealities, which are but expected and can be tolerated with suspended disbelief in action films. But it works only if the plot elements gel together into some form of a minimally cohesive storyline. In the obsessive indulgence towards spicing up the film with chic glamour (shots of Rio, the Carnival and some dance resembling salsa etc) the story is totally ignored.

8. Okay, so the last bit of rant was a tad too serious for this kind of movie. Really, if all you want to do is ogle at the hip and trendy – this is the film for you. Enough shots of Aish’s bare belly, Bipasha’s pretty much everything and Hrithik’s bulges to satisfy everyone’s cravings (you only have to put up with a misshapen, though muscular, Uday Chopra)!

In conclusion, if you go in with the right attitude (see #2), enjoyment is to be had in watching this movie – else, use it to drive out guests who stay late.

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Last weekend, we watched ‘Yaadon Ki Baraat‘, a movie last viewed on the venerable Doordarshan almost twenty years ago. For some reason, I have a good recollection of having watched this film (which I also remember was shown a week or so after another great Nasir Hussein hit, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin). At that time, I think I actually liked the movie and was rather touched by the title song Yaadon Ki Baraat and all the sappy brother’s reunited after long-time stuff.

Watching it in the present day, I realize that the film has great songs – Chura Liya Hai is arguably the most recognizable, if not outright the best melody composed in Hindi cinema – and a few interesting twists in an otherwise formulaic story (family separated but brought together by a song), but is full of unintentional hilarity and fashion disasters.

Let’s begin with the the guitar, which while ubiquitous in almost all the songs, no attempt is made by any of the actors to at least pretend they are playing the instrument. It is really jarring to hear guitar strums while the fingers over the fret are static !! Then there is the debutante Tariq Ali, prancing around the stage like a high-strung Johnny Cash, wearing a velvet jacket with heavy silver gold-embroidery and oversized sunglasses (worn mostly indoors). Oversized sunglasses also find favor with the villain, essayed by the incomparable Ajit, who also happens to wear differently sized white shoes on each feet (an important plot element) to go with his white jackets, black gloves and enormous blonde wig. Worse still, there is the immensely proportioned Neetu Singh with a friendly appearance during the song Lekar Hum Diwana Dil, stomping around the psychedelic stage in a red mini-skirt. And there is Dharmendra, trying to hide his mid-section corpulence and following the angry-when-constipated method of acting (to be fair, he did have some good performances in the early B&W movies).

In spite of all this cringe-worthy material, I noticed we were more indulgent towards Yaadon Ki Baraat than Dhoom 2, even as they share the common trait of being strong in the glamour category but ultimately weak in the acting and story departments. YKB obviously scores in the music department: somehow I don’t see Crazy Kiya Rey retaining the same zeitgeist as O Meri Soni not to mention, Chura Liya Hai. D2 is on the other hand way more sophisticated in the technical aspects and special effects (even after accounting for the obvious difference in period): wooden sliding doors (supposedly pneumatic, but obviously hand-operated) and electrical signal boxes composed of piano-type switches being replaced by hand-held electromagnets and acid releasing shoes.

Eventually my conclusion was that while Hindi films might have reached a level of technical sophistication, its still pretty much the same kitsch.

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Final note worth pointing out. In Dhoom 2, there was this really irritating trend I noticed in recent Hindi movies to deliver a dialog in English, and follow up with a Hindi translation – even for inane stuff like ‘I love you’. But Yaadon Ki Baraat had a number of short English dialogues – which, to our surprise were delivered without the subsequent Hindi translation !

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

February 23, 2007 at 5:05 pm