MSG2 – Done n Dusted!

So I’ve been meaning to write this post since Sunday, two days ago. But mostly I’ve been struggling with the decision to write it at all. You see, this post was supposed to be about my amusing and somewhat unique experience of watching MSG2, the second installment from self-proclaimed saint and human GurmeetRamRahimSinghJi Insan’s pool of film making talent. And now, after watching and enduring the movie, and having survived to tell the tale, every time I thought about writing it down, words failed me. I guess I was pressurizing myself too much into writing what I thought would be a movie review. But I now realize that there is no reason for me to bind my thoughts so, and therefore I shall only write it like the cerebral experience it was.

To be fair, I won’t deny how much I anticipated the release of this movie. Over the last few months, or rather, since being part of a crazily themed birthday party, where the birthday boy played the said ‘human’ (read insan), the movie and the god man have become a bit of an obsession. Emulating these god men / women was a real eye opener on how much fun it really was, having people gawk at you in awe (or horror) and basically dress up, dance and be showered with flowers. We took ourselves quite seriously and much preparation went into getting ourselves in character – leading to a rediscovery of MSG1 and its exquisitely composed music. While I won’t go into the details of the original soundtrack here, an honorary mention of the song ‘Daru ko Goli Maro’ (Shoot down the alcohol) is due. Quite possibly the most ‘singular’ song I have ever heard, I believe no one and no one but the ‘human’ in question can sing it in the same tune and tone. Do take a listen some time, and make sure you also have the lyrics handy for a fuller and more complete experience.

So anyway, coming back to MSG2, we were booked in advance with great last row seats in one of the first PVRs of south Delhi. We got there, bought our cola, pop and sandwiches and found our seats in the ever filling auditorium, all set for the show to begin. And what a show it was. From the ever increasing crowd that kept pouring in; to a stylish credits opening with a familiar sounding, though unidentifiable, catchy EDM* track; to the vaguest movie plot ever; to flashing beads and fabric and rhine stone studded head gear; to hair, lots of hair; to color changing tribals that needed converting from ‘animalness’ to ‘humanness’ if you please; to bad dialogue and worse character names; and to some very very second-rate VFX – I came away with a buzzing head and a complex physical, intellectual and psychological blend of experiences. I don’t exaggerate, I actually got goosebumps a few times.

The purpose of the film, as is evident from the previous one, was to – create, disseminate and propagate. And a seemingly effective means of propaganda it was, if one is go by the rapt attention with which the audience watched, cheered and clapped. Many times through the movie I would look around to get feedback on how people were responding, and was amazed to see how they watched with bated breath as the ‘human of humans’ took on tribes and army factions single-handedly. Always emerging undefeated and unscathed from these over the top long drawn conflicts,with not a single hair from his beard or updo going astray – he clearly has set the bar high for even Rajnikant.

The means to achieve this propagandized objective was a bizarre movie plot, completely lacking logic or common sense – that centered around bettering the world by converting tribals into humans – because obviously as meat eating, scantily clad, mahua drinking, dark skinned, muddy looking people, they fell very short of qualifying the civilized human index. So the ‘human of humans’, as a favour to all mankind, took it upon himself to humanize the tribals with love and affection, a few life lessons here and there, and some bizarre acts of bravery that included saving a child from a digitized elephant. But wait! The transformation was not yet complete. As the thankful tribals start dancing in his honour, he stops them mid-song and says that a proper human is one who is dressed modestly. He then orders his minions to catch the tribals and make them wear ‘tailored human’ clothes to be truly called humans. And so in an extremely weird and patronizing sequence of events, the tribals are chased, caught, nail clipped and hosed down to then emerge not only in colourful clothes but also with skin tones five times fairer than their orignal one – all while comic music plays in the background. And then ofcourse the song resumes and as the new ‘humans’ dance their clothes eveolve as well – from ghargra choli and dhoti to salwar kameez and kurta pajama to a long maxi dress and pant-shirts.

I shuddered at this particular sequence in the film for the deprecating and degrading manner in which such a perception about tribal communities was portrayed –  as unclean, unaaceptable and inferior beings. And seeing that literally 98% of the audience in that theater was poorly educated or under-sensitized and unaware about tribals and their lives, I feel they all went back home with a completely screwed up image of them. So good riddance that the film was banned in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and while the censor board did pass the film, it really shouldn’t have, for projecting the indigenous, legitimate and very equal tribal citizens of India in such a  demeaning and insensitive manner.

But as all this takes place we’re only halfway through the movie. What next one wonders? He’s sorted the tribals, what now? Ofcourse there is a bigger, badder, meaner tribal head to deal with, whose love story is yet another masterpiece. This guy is called ‘Ajgar’ – The Python, named so becasue he played with pythons as a kid. His wife ‘Chabuki’ also gets her name from a childhood habit – bullying other kids with her hunter (chabuk) and growing up to lash men who couldn’t live up to her expectations of a mate. When Ajgar confronts her at a tribal fair, she challenges him to a mahua drinking match and when he beats her at drinking a whole potful, she declares that she has found the one. And of course, we cut to a dream song sequence where this newly in love couple is dressed in very western clothes, dancing to the undecipherable singing of the all rounder ‘human of humans’ and basically all logic has taken a back seat by now.

Anyway, the rest is not of much consequence. This tribal too is brought into line, set on the right path – and while that is in process, the ‘human of humans’ also takes the opportunity to further establish his credibility by inserting information about his lineage – going as far as even depicting Maharaja Ranjit Singh as a spitting image of himself, to Guru Gobind’s armies and some such. Basically blue blood, warrior blood, and the works. There is more still, a prolonged and repetitive action scene on a man made mud hill, but it ends as expected with the final enemy, the local politician, getting kicked in the butt and all is well for humans again.

To conclude, MSG2 – supposedly a big improvement on MSG1, is essentially a B grade Hindi film at its core. And had it not been written, produced, acted, directed, sung and composed by the one man army that the ‘humanly saint’ is, it would have never seen a theater release or garnered the cult status for the likes of me. So I guess there is either a very smart marketing case study or a purely monetary one  in there that should be worth exploring, in addition to being a very interesting opportunity for psychoanalysis.

I cannot sign off without acknowledging that the movie and the associated overarching personality have been a huge source of ‘happiness’ and entertainment for me and my brethren – and if you allow your mind that freedom too, then it is sure to bring you the joy it did me 😉 Try.

*electronic dance music


Mrs Funnybones – Book review and a few thoughts

So I just finished Mrs Funnybones today. Infact, I started it this morning and proudly share that I finished it in less than 24 hours too. Which isn’t as great as it may sound, even though I had a full n busy day at work and only allowed myself to read in the metro to work, at lunch, in the metro home and after a much despised 30 minutes of exercise.

That is because at 235 pages, size 12 font, 1.5 line spacing and very broad margins, it really wasn’t something even the slowest reader would have trouble finishing in a few hours. And that makes Mrs Funnybones a perfect read for a two hour flight for an average reader like me. The book was also just the solution for a prolonged ‘reader’s block’ (yes, that is something I experience from time to time and is a perfectly valid condition) that I had been suffering from for nearly two months! And so for that I must thank Mrs Funnybones herself.

As I read this book, which is really a blip of an insight into Twinkle Khanna’s charmed life, I can’t help but have a few contradictory thoughts on how I feel about her writing. While every review I read is appreciating her self deprecating nature and her manner of presenting everything in a sarcastically light hearted way, there were several instances that made me feel that she was being quite condescending towards common folk. Maybe elitist would be the right word here. For instance she talks about an expo /trade fair that she participates in, where some other participants come and introduce themselves in bad English, and how she decides to wrap things up and get home ASAP before she needs to admit herself to a mental asylum. That just wasn’t a section of writing that agreed with me. But then maybe that’s the honesty everyone is talking about?

While I’m not trying to diss the book in anyway, I’m not sure what I really liked about it. Ofcourse, there was the surmounting curiosity about not only getting a peek into a star wife’s life but also about how she puts it across in the witty n funny ways that I was reading about everywhere. Twinkle Khanna is definitely a smart, witty, intelligent and very well read person. The book shows that and anyone who reads her columns would see that too. But there isn’t a lot of depth to remember the book by, and maybe because my world is so different from hers, as would be of most people who read it, I don’t find that connect that makes me go, oh yes!

So it got me thinking, had this book been written by a not so famous person would it still be so well received? I think maybe not, because it is that very reason that makes the idea of the book so interesting. Some of the jokes were not so original, you can predict ends of sentences; and the repeated use of the word ‘blimey’ didn’t lend to the funniness either, though I  do understand how she meant to use it at the end of every little mishap that happened on her day.

In essence what I liked was maybe her approach to life, where an irritating situation had something funny to it too. I came away with a picture of a privileged life, bustling with activity, the perks of being a star wife of a very successful actor, loads of travel and the added but natural responsibilities of raising children – which all together built this comfortable alluring world that does look ideal when there is humor and a daft joke thrown in now n then. And therefore, when Vogue calls it ‘fashionable’, I totally understand why.

the TALAASH ends here…..!

SPOILER ALERT!!!! (if you haven’t yet seen the movie, you might want to save reading this for later :))

Talaash is the kind of film that re-instates my faith in the hindi film industry, or rather in the “commercial” hindi film industry.

The credits are barely over and the first sequence of the film jolts you in your seat, pulling you into the story immediately. Aamir Khan enters the scene and so begins the unraveling of a mysterious death that seems to have no logical explanations.

Playing a hardened police man, Surjan Singh Shekhawat, Aamir Khan is delightful as the no-nonsense yet sensitive guy, with a tragic backstory. Rani Mukherjee, as his wife and the other half living their shared tragedy, underplays her character perfectly. Even though her role is not dialogue heavy, her acting is so emotive and sensitive, it is endearing. Dressed in simple sarees and minimal makeup, she blends comfortably into a policeman’s humble flat.

What I really miss in Bollywood movies is a good murder mystery, one that keeps you thinking and engaged till the very last. Talaash for me, was one such film that checked all the right boxes where story, direction, editing, acting and dialogue – were thought through and executed with detail and precision. Isn’t it obvious why Aamir Khan takes so long to make a film – the experience of watching it clearly evident when you come out of the movie hall amazed / thoughtful / surprised / delighted all at once.

Aamir Khan is undoubtedly the king of conviction, perfection and execution. His insistence on his movies / shows being produced by his own production house is what the production of his movies most often reflect. Though I wouldn’t say that’s true always, especially in the case of the recent PK.


Note: This post was written almost 3 years ago in Dec 2012. I found it sitting in my drafts folder today and decided to publish it as it was. The decision to revive the blog was rewarded with a ready piece of writing to lend me some much required encouragement and impetus. I hope to do it more justice this time. 🙂

Jab tak thi jaan………

What happens when you watch the 10:30 pm show of a movie like this ?? – – – – it ends in hysteria and headache!

But you see, I had to watch the movie, I just had to. And what it confirmed was, my absolute and accurate prediction – that it was going to be exactly as bad as it was! So yay!

But, what I have a problem with is not the underlying basic story / concept of undying love, rather how it was portrayed in the film.

I mean, what is it with movies like this that try and place its characters in a near real modern day setting and then make the same characters larger than life in a manner that one cannot even remotely relate to them….?
Take Shah Rukh Khan for example. He is 47 and plays a 25 year old for half the movie. I think even Hrithik Roshan will not be able to pass for a 25 year old anymore. So i ask WHY? Its not convincing, it doesn’t fit and it just interferes with the viewer’s movie experience. What’s the point if we have to do all the imagination!

Unless maybe you are as attentive to detail as Aamir Khan, who being as old as SRK, managed to play an engineering student with such conviction that everyone applauded the effort. I mean right from his look, to his demeanor, to his acting – – everything lent so well to the brilliant story that it was. I know, I know – AK and SRK are poles apart and have very different cinematic personalities, but, they are both still actors and the underlying premise for both remains the same, no matter what roles they do.

And its not that SRK can’t act, or can’t portray a character perfectly. Swades / Chak de India are two of his most brilliant films. But it seems like his superstar image is always overshadowing the character he plays and that really kills it.

Ok, so about the movie then. It was too predictable. There were too many signature SRK scenes (walking away with backpack especially, which seems to weigh nothing) that looked like I had seen them before.

Katrina Kaif wasn’t so bad, but that’s about it. Ofcourse, she has a fabulous wardrobe.

Anushka Sharma is overdoing her “young / tomboyish / oh i’ve been there done that / super cool dilli girl / enthusiasm pumped to the core / fallen in love and reformed” role. She should stop. Before it ends up in overkill. Also, her character is a little irritating – and I don’t understand how a 38 year old man can be interested in the 21 year old girl who has brains not enough to figure that when you jump in a lake somewhere in Ladakh, the water is bound to be icy!

Also, one would think that maybe it was high time that the movie makers got the “army” angle correct. But no, they must still use it only to portray the macho-ism of their hero. After all, woh hero hai bhai! Woh apne desh ke liye thodi lad raha tha…..woh to Sir Jesus ko challenge karne ke liye bharti hua tha.

And that brings me to my next question – usko bharti kisne kiya? The man did not know english, most likely had an interrupted education (which is why he was working multiple odd job shifts in London, else his multi millionaire girlfriend could have given him an office, was 25 when he saw Katrina Kaif and fell in love,  28 when he returned to India – – so how did he get into the army?? On the one month speed english course his girlfriend gave him??

All I ask for is a little authenticity.

Sigh….it wasn’t over until it was over…….jab tak thi jaan, jab tak thi jaan…..

Ethical failure OR Unethical Triumph!

Just when we thought that here was a show that was going to be or already was about the real issues, was honest and well researched – there is a revelation that makes the whole thing come crashing down.

Satyamev Jayate – much awaited and publicized, produced by one of the most accomplished and “perfectionist” artists in the country – everyone had huge expectations along with  a good bit of curiosity about the show.

The issues this show brought up had never been addressed at a scale such as prime time national television. Especially in the kind of Indian society where we tend to close our eyes, ears and senses towards anything adverse that does not affect us directly. We choose to ignore what happens around us until it doesn’t rattle a good night’s sleep. The sense of community that has so fast dwindled, is now being given a wake up call through this show – – that puts an issue out there and talks about facts.

I was a fan from day one of the show being aired. I thought everything the show brought up was of relevance. While many expected every episode to have a heart wrenching, tear jerking subject – there were other not so emotional but equally important subjects that were dealt with and brought up. I also agree with the format of the show that not only showed the down side of the situation or subject in question but also brought out survival and success stories that become a living example for people to emulate.

It is definitely uplifting and encouraging to see live examples of people breaking through barriers of society, health, disability, etc. I think it is commendable that the show puts in the effort to find and bring such examples from remote parts of India – many of them well accomplished but unheard of.

But, an article I read in the Outlook ( really put a dent in my opinion of the show and how highly I thought about it. Wont go into much detail as the article talks about a couple of examples and one realizes that at the end of the day its all “showbusiness”. Especially striking is the Kaushal Panwar story / interview that was shot in an empty studio without any audience – and yet you see audience reactions on the show – and this has been twice confirmed . Also the bit about Bezwada Wilson, whose weeping face I cant seem to wipe out of memory.

Reminds me of the ads that used to run before the show started, when Aamir Khan is shown talking to his team presumably that its important that the janta gets emotional and angry when they watch the show – and thinking back to those now, it translates into how much a show can be prefabricated.

Anyway – – there is a huge amount of disappointment after the knowledge of these revelations. It has sadly also marred my liking and respect for one of the most thorough and  talented people from the film fraternity – there is a sense of having been cheated.

I think it is “unethical” of him to control the show in such a manner – since it addresses the nation and actually can have a very deep and positive impact on its viewers – as I think it was having on me – but after the knowledge of how the show is edited and put forth for the larger audience, I am going to be a little wary every time AK sheds a tear and will be a little cynical every time he dispenses the “what should be done / what is the right thing” advice.

Ek Main Aur Ek Tu……Romantic Comedy well done :)

True romantic comedy that’s light and crisp. I don’t think there was a dull moment in the film and so glad that it lasted for just two hours. Cute story line with the whole parent category angle – I think one we can all relate to 😉

Imran Khan absolutely suited his part of the “tight-ass” guy who is so caught up with pleasing his parents that he has completely lost himself. He plays the part of the nervous, fumbly, stuttering guy very well. His parents, Boman Irani and Ratna Pathak Shah couldn’t have been a colder set of parents, but that completed reflected on why their son had such an identity crisis.

And Kareena Kapoor also does well as the bubbly, chirpy, girl next door who finds happiness and a light moment in everything, even if it was something like being thrown out on the street for not paying rent and spending the night in a hotel rest room cubicle. But, she reminded me too much of Geet from Jab We Met. The overly happy go lucky gal for whom no problem is too big or too much to solve – and life’s a party. I know I wish I were like that 😉

The people who played her family were fun too – especially the Dad with his typical pointers to Rahul about how to control the dog…haha….very spontaneous – good direction then 🙂

Also it was refreshing to see that the movie doesn’t have a conventional happily ever after. I think we are so used to / conditioned to seeing the movie culminating in a final love story and not a friendship story – and so that was a nice change 🙂

Why wasn’t I surprised that the music was by Amit Trivedi. Very refreshing – the songs other than the title track are very nice and soulful – esp the one that plays in the last moments of the movie…. Kar Chalna Shuru tu…. 🙂

And of course “Auntyji” was surprisingly not a cheesy number at all…..I enjoyed it so much – plus it was shot very well again..Fun!

So over all a great movie experience when you want to go for a light film – but not a senseless one – this is the Jen Aniston kind for me. A thumbs up and smile for Shakun Batra on this one…keep em coming – just don’t be repetitive 🙂