No life-altering philosophies. No depressing stories. No war crimes or injured puppy pictures. This is where you come at the end of a long day to smile and relax. So sit back, order a refreshing drink and share a laugh with me, your bartender for the evening.
And always remember that age-old, fluorescent green rule of life : An appletini a day keeps the doctor away.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book review : Once Upon the tracks of Mumbai

Book: Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai
Author: Rishi Vohra
Pages: 266 pages
Cost: Rs.175
Publisher: Jaico Books (2012)

The first thing that crossed my mind when I saw the title of this book was the 2010 gangster movie from Bollywood 'Once Upon a Time in Mumbai'. That movie had its moments of romance while also being dark and portraying flawed characters. In that one aspect, I find a similarity between the two - which is a good thing. 
Having gotten used to college themed love stories for a few years now as far as Indian literature is concerned, I was glad to move away from it and see Indian authors moving beyond the typical chocolate boy heroes which you and I have encountered in so many Bollywood films.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Young at Heart : My entry for the Get Published contest

I would base my love story at that point of life where it matters the most to everyone, irrespective of society, caste or creed. That is, the topic of first love. My story is based in a high school classroom and depicts the awkwardness of first love and the selflessness of that emotion. No matter what we face in life later on, our first love remains one of the most cherished memories of our lives.

This story is inspired from experiences of my own childhood. It follows 48 memorable hours in the life of a shy, timid guy struggling to express his feelings for the classmate he loves. In the end, he has to resort to some very secretive methods to get the message across. Back in those days, 'getting the girl' wasn't our moment of triumph. Seeing her happy was. And I know that , somewhere, in all of us, that same shy guy still exists when it comes to admitting our feelings for the girl we love.

Even today, that memory of first love remains dear to many a heart. That simple fact fills me with hope. It  reminds me that generations may pass - we may get overflooded with social networks and gadgets - but, in the end, the feeling of love, still emanates from the heart.

Extract :
Vineeta sat on her bed, staring at the flowers she'd snuck up into her room after school. She stared at the note again, trying to figure out who her mystery valentine was. Dhanya and Namitha felt it had to be either Harish or Ravi. They'd gone to the boys directly but both had denied it. That joker Karthik had directly admitted to doing it but a few simple questions were enough to identify that he was bluffing as usual. She read the words again, trying to decipher a new meaning behind each word. She looked up and caught her reflection in the mirror. 

She was smiling. And yes, Namitha was right. She was blushing so much she looked like a strawberry milk shake. She couldn't stop smiling all the way back from school even after she'd gotten down from the bus. Her first Valentine's gift had made her the envy of all her friends, but more importantly, she loved how it made her feel. 

This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs fromYashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.

P.S. Click here to help my story get shortlisted for the contest.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Best of : Mohanlal

Cop. Rowdy. Lover. Cad. Don. Common man. Bullock-cart Driver. Casino owner. Killer. Dancer. Doctor. Mental patient. Awaiting the death penalty. Alzheimers. Bed-ridden. Carnatic singer.

In real life : Actor. Singer. Producer. Padma Shri. Superstar. Icon. Lieutanant Colonel. Six Kerala State Film Awards for Best Actor. Four National Film Awards. Over 300 films. 

Mohanlal Vishwanathan Nair. 

Unlike a Bollywood superstars 'Top movies' list, while making a list for stars of Malayalam cinema ( especially one from the golden era of storytelling ), it's tougher to formulate that list. If I were to make a list of the Top 10 Mohanlal movies worth watching, invariably movies showcasing his acting talent would be overshadowed by movies which provided great comic relief or storylines. So, keeping that in mind, I will attempt to combine both worlds - giving you a list that showcases both the star's acting abilities as well as some of his most loved movies.

I'm limiting the total list to a meagre 30 movies ( "BLASPHEMY !" I know. ) So it's upto you guys to tell me which ones you would have added to the list if you had the choice.  

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The best of : Denzel Washington

There really shouldn't be a need to describe Denzel Washington. 

Easily one of Hollywood's most talented and successful actors, he rises above most of the modern era stars simply because of the intensity which he brings to the role. A  controversy-free celebrity and religious man ( who wanted to be a preacher ) , he has been a deserving winner of both the Golden Globe and the Academy Award twice. More importantly, he doesn't stick to a specific genre - he is as much at ease playing real-life characters as he is in thrillers, romance or even playing the occasional bad guy. Good cop, bad cop, crook, teacher, preacher, paraplegic, slave, saviour - he has done it all.

Before starting off with our list, here are a few trivia questions on Denzel Washington. The answers are provided at the end.
1. Which Mira Nair directed film is essentially an interracial love story between Denzel Washington and an Indian girl ?
2. For which movie did Denzel Washington get his first Academy Award ?
3. What was the name of the first film directed by Denzel Washington ?

So what are the movies of Denzel Washington that you need to get your hands on ?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The best of : Phil Collins

I won't lie to you. It was so much fun making this list.

When I think of Phil Collin's songs, the first image in my mind is of a jeweller carefully examining a diamond and then nodding happily. Yes. This is the real deal. This is what a great voice and wonderful music put together feels like. 

Across three decades of songs, he has had umpteen Billboard Number Ones besides taking home the Grammys and even an Academy Award. In addition to singing, he was also the drummer for his band Genesis with the equally talented Peter Gabriel.

For me, the true talent of a singer is visible not just in his music videos and albums, but especially in his live performances and that's where I rate Phil Collins so highly.. there is no need for fireworks or dancers - more importantly, the voice is just as pristine in concert as it is on the album - something not many modern day 'artists/superstars' can boast of.

I had to trim quite a few chart-toppers before making my own Top 10 list. The fact that most of these songs alone are better than some of the 'modern day top 10 countdown' songs tells you how spoilt for choice I was.

Worthy contenders :
Take Me Home,     Two Hearts     Easy Lover,     
Son of Man,    Two Worlds,     Sussudio,
True colours,     Dance into the light.

Get your headphones ready. Because coming up : Iiiiiiiit's The Top 10 Phil Collin songs : 
( Spoiler alert : Another day in Paradise isn't gonna win it )

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An Angel in Demon's clothing

You all have obviously heard of Tom Cruise, right ? Johnny Depp ? Justin Bieber (ugh) ?
Sure. Big names. Famous guys. Superstars.
Now, tell me, who is Ron Perlman ?
No idea. Don't worry, I'll give you a photograph too.

Still, no idea, right ? 
If I asked you to name even one movie or Tv show where you've seen him, you wouldn't be able to. Probably seen him somewhere but definitely didn't even know his name till just now. Well, if for nothing else, remember him from now onwards for this one sweet act of his.

There is an organization in USA called the Make-A-Wish foundation which receives thousands of letters from dying and suffering kids about what they would like to do, given the chance. But when one young cancer patient requested to meet his idol, the foundation found themselves in a spot of bother.

You see, the problem was that the kid didn't want to meet an actor or a sportsman or musician. He wanted to meet a specific superhero from his comics and movie world. As if that wasn't enough, this wasn't just your normal everyday superhero either. There was neither a simple mask nor a fun suit to wear. It wasn't as though the kid wanted Batman or Superman who just needed a costume and hairgel. 
This boy wanted the 'demon with a heart of gold'.

Friday, October 19, 2012

10 Movie soundtracks of the 90s that Bollywood can be proud of

Bartender's warning : This post is best read with ear-phones plugged in.

Though I was born in the 80's, I am essentially a 'kid of the 90s'. They were the formative years of my life and as any teen will tell you - the movies of that age tend to hold a special place in our hearts. That being said, the 90's weren't a particularly great period in Bollywood - till '93, our country's biggest box office grosser was a movie involving 2 Govindas, 2 Chunkey Pandeys, 2 Kader Khans and a monkey ( though some dearly wished there were more of the latter and less of the former. )

Like the movies, the music soundtracks too were generally formulaic. Yet, there were a few diamonds that emerged from the rubble. These were albums that were instant hits when they arrived and now, even decades later, have weathered the test of time pretty well. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

10 Hollywood movies that were better than the book

I'm usually the first one to say that the book is always better than the movie. Yet while thinking of the converse, I was quite surprised to find that there were so many instances coming to mind where infact, the movie was superior to the book. It felt like a nice topic to discuss with fellow movie-and-book fans.

First up, movies that I felt were at par with the book :  
These are basically a list of movies that did justice to the original book, in my opinion.

Omen                                                   Bladerunner 
A Time to Kill                                     The Godfather 
A walk to remember                              Stand by me
One flew over the Cuckoo's nest               Atonement 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo              Mystic River 
The Help                                    The English Patient 
Big Fish                                    Catch Me if you Can 
Fight Club                                          Runaway Jury
To kill a Mockingbird                                        Jaws
Primal Fear                                Gone with the Wind

Now that we've seen the runner-ups, let's head onto the main event : 
10 movies that were better than the book.

10. A Beautiful Mind
Credit goes to : Ron Howard ( director ) and Akiva Goldsman ( screenplay )
Frankly, the book is annoying and unengaging. It is depressing, it is harrowing and it delves too deep into jargon that isn't frankly relevant. The movie starring Russell Crowe atleast attempts to put on a hint of mystery, intrigue and more importantly hope to the real life story of delusional schizophrenic John Nash, who would eventually beat the odds and get a Nobel Laureate. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Book review : The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi

For those who are fans of Indian fiction, the name Ashwin Sanghi needs no introduction. In a country that's lost in a hundred variations of chick-literature and college romances since the start of this decade, his works stand out for being genuinely well-researched thrillers combining fact and fiction. He has been often described by readers as 'the Indian Dan Brown' which should be high praise... but I'll come to that point later.

Overview :

"Five thousand years ago, there came to earth a magical being called Krishna, who brought about innumerable miracles for the good of mankind. Humanity despaired of its fate if the Blue God were to die but was reassured that he would return in a fresh avatar when needed in the eventual Dark Age—the Kaliyug.
In modern times, a poor little rich boy grows up believing that he is that final avatar. Only, he is a serial killer.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

India's Ideal Next Presidential Candidates are...

Everyone keeps telling me that there is no worthy contender for the title of the next President of India. We have a population of over a billion and yet, we can't seem to find one person competent enough to sit on the fabled throne of India. 
The thing is, I humbly disagree with the opinions of these pessimists. I say, you're just looking in the wrong direction. The problem is you're looking at people sitting in that funny building called the Parliament. Instead, broaden your horizons, cast your net wider, look beyond the obvious... well, you get the picture.

Here's my top 5 candidates who I think would make a swell President for the nation. 

05. Poonam Pandey

  • Pros :
    • Just by promising to undo her undies, she got eleven okay-to-average players to win a World Cup. Can you imagine what she can get a nation to do for her ? ( I meant, besides the obvious ! You naughty boy ! )
    • Unlike other politicians, she did keep her political promise and reveal her true self.
    • Highly motivational. Has proven that having no talents is not a burden. Has also proven that less is indeed more. Even motivated cross border undressing by getting our Pakistani diplomat Veena Malik to do the same. 
  • Cons : 
    • Has some major competition coming up. Even before she could hitch her skirt back up after supporting Kolkata Knight Riders, there's news of another starlet-to-be called Rozyln following her tactics, to show support for her rvial political party, Chennai Super Kings. This could become a trend soon, diluting her USP.
    • The day Sunny Leone behen ji joins politics, Poonam is in trouble. Sorry, but it's just that Sunny Leone is oh-so-much-more motivational to most Indians.
  • Janata ki Adalat : 
    • It's all fine and good as long as they don't motivate any of the present chief ministers ( especially of the states they support ) to join them in doing the full monty. Shudder !

Monday, May 14, 2012

Book review : The Devotion of Suspect X

I love murder mysteries and thrillers where you have to guess who the real villian is. I grew up on James Patterson, Jeffrey Deaver, Micheal Conolly, James Conolly, Harlen Coben and many more modern day masters of the genre. Having said that, THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X is, uncharacteristically, neither a murder mystery, nor an action adventure. And yet, it is so much more.

Friday, May 04, 2012

So you think you know art ?

Well, this is really a followup to this post in Godyears where I've put up pictures of paintings and asked people to guess how much you would pay to buy them... If you haven't done it yet, please go there and add in your opinions before coming back here to find out the true worth.

Without further adieu, I give you the answers.

1. Le Bassin aux Nympheas / The water lily pond by Claude Monet sold for Rs 416 crores.

 2. Garcon a la Pipe / Boy with a Pipe by Pablo Picasso sold for Rs 541.32 crores.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

French Rules !

I love the French. I love their language ( which I can speak not a word of ), the charm of their movies, their aura of mystique, the way they bring romance into anything, be it their cooking, their art or just getting the morning newspaper.
Oh, wait. I'm sorry. Did I say romance ? Uh... well, I'm partly right, i guess.

I came across this article recently.
For those of you who don't want to bother clicking the link, I'll try to provide the highlights in brief.

  • Dominique Strauss-Kahn is the former head of the International Monetary Fund.
  • He was widely tipped to be the next French President before he got caught in sexual assault charges with a hotel maid in USA in 2011.
  • He's appearing in court against charges that he uses $800-a-night escorts.
  • The reply of this 63 year young man to charges that since there were so many and so young women engaging in sex with him, how could he not know they were 'women of the night' ? 
    • a) There were only six... It's normal to have sex with 6 girls at a time.
    •  b) Most of the women I have sex with have the same age difference.
    • c) I could not have known they were prostitutes when I met them because they were all naked at the time.

Sigh.. his wife must be so proud of him. Her prize bull has still got it in him... and he's obviously ready to share it with every gal in town. Six at a time, no less. No wonder it's called French Kiss. Though technically, I think it ought to be called 'French Smack my fanny'. It's funny because more than a decade ago, Clinton was famously telling ( lying to ) us that he "did not have sex with that woman" while Monica Lewinsky was showing off her cigar skills. 
( Ironically, you have to give her credit - atleast she didn't do anything injurious to health - like SMOKE THEM !! ). 

But I think I understand the moral of this story. You need to have strong leaders who RISE TO THE OCCASION if you're going to be a World superpower, isn't it ? Which sadly brings us to the true reason of why we are never gonna be a superpower. I mean, do you seriously see yourself waking up one morning, opening the newspaper and reading about our President Pratibha Patel mouthing these words - "It's normal to have sex with six men at a time. I didn't know they were gigolos. They were just waiting at my jacuzzi in the Rashtrapati Bhavan naked." 

Nope. Ain't never gonna happen. Which means only one thing.

Manmohan Singh's gonna have to be the man who saves our ancient Kamasutra heritage from that French show-off. Who knows ? Maybe this is his true calling in life. He may not speak much ( or at all ), but by the way he's been working out recently ( see picture ), he is obviously our hunky stud muffin politician who's gonna show Strauss and the others how he likes his aloo parotta buttered.   

Viva le Sardar !!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Superstar Criterion...

Who's da man of the modern era of Bollywood ? Since the 90's, the typical answer to this one has always been one of the three Khans. Sure, you had the ageless one ( Anil ) and the Greek God in a wheelchair ( Hrithik ), but by default, it always comes down to the Trinity of Khans - the Adonis, the romantic and the perfectionist

The thing is : everyone judges them by yardsticks like best acting perfomance, number of hits  and salary. And that's not fair since the first two are subjective and the last one is just dependent on the producer's whimsy. So, I've decided to use a criteria that every guy who has ever passed through puberty ( sorry, Beiber, not your time yet... try again in 2020 ) will agree with. Yes, Ladies and gentlemen, we are indeed applying the MIWAKASHB gene test.

What is the MIWAKASHB gene test, you ask ? 
Blistering barnacles, how could you forget your history lessons, men ? For the MIWAKASHB test, passed on by the ancient Mayan civilisation, has a strong influence throughout the course of mankind. It was what drove Theseus to ride his Hummer bareback and take Helen, what made Caesar turn his jetski towards Cleopatra's Egyptian shores and yes, what made Elvis want to be more than just another Presley. 

The "Man, I WannA Kiss A Super HOT BABE"  is an ancient gene that passes on to a newborn child, via the Y chromosome, thus affecting only the male child. It lies dormant throughout childhood in most cases and then activates itself once puberty hits. Thus, irrespective of whether the child is born in Somalia, Australia and yes, even India, he is equipped with the power of the MIWAKASHB gene. 

In certain cases, such as direct visualization of a picture of Kim Kardashian, the gene may become activated at an even younger age group, before puberty hits ( Again, Beiber and Beiber loving guys are the exception to this dictum... sorry, it's the rule of the ancient Mayans.They specifically mention him. ) 
In effect, It is this gene that gives all boys hope that when they grow up, they will end up marrying a super hot babe... or just get to kiss a lot of super-hot babes.

Now, to be objective, only kisses that are documented onscreen will be allowed in this test. Having a steady girlfriend for years doesn't count as we know that all Bollywood actors just go running around trees and performing synchronized dances with dozens of extras whenever they get close to a girl.

In 3rd place, we have Salman Khan with ...well, nothing. Oh well, he makes up for it with a fine bevy of girlfriends to whom he can send love notes via that geriatric pigeon of Maine Pyaar Kiya.

In 2nd place, well, what a shocker ? A dozen NRI films later and SRK still hasn't gotten to first base. Hmmm.. I don't think we can include the pictures of him kissing those Filmfare trophies in here. ( Insert joke about man kissing 12 inch black rod here. )

And in 1st place, yeeeah !! The perfectionist, Aamir Khan makes a monkey out of his competition with a fine MIWAKASHB score of 4. 
(Final Score : 04 - the Kapoor sisters, Twinkle Khanna and Alice Patten )

 And for that, he gets awarded the .... oh wait, hang on a second. There's a last minute entry. Who could it be. That scraggly fellow there ? Really ? A newcomer taking on the Holy Bollywood Trinity ? 

Let's see what the score is for the dark horse of the race, a Mr Emraaan something something...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The appletini begins...

There are millions of sites chronicling every day events of the world. There are umpteen news channels that bring you live news feeds as they happen. They are all undoubtedly brilliant. They are all invariably depressing. And that just makes us all the more pissed off at the cosmic injustice of it all.

Well, this is not one going to be one of those brilliant blogs.

This blog is exclusively for those of you who want to relax at the end of a long day. Here, we sit back and talk about stuff that we prefer to talk about - be it funny events of the day, pictures, movies, books or music.

Rather than cribbing about a world gone sour, let's enjoy what the universe does right. I'll be your bartender for the day, lifting your spirits ( pun unintended ) with everything that keeps you smiling and nothing that matters at all.

Cheers to a new beginning.