Posts filed under ‘Life Around’

Jessica Loaded!

Our movies have always been a reflection of our society and times. But it is rare for a filmmaker to tread the path of bringing a real life incident verbatim on to celluloid. It is fraught with risk of lacking enough punch and turning into a documentary or being over-dramatized by twisting facts beyond recognition, both of which are likely to shatter its box-office hopes.

I’m not a huge fan of the massive publicity campaign these days, where few weeks before a film’s release, the stars descend on all possible TV shows, even making inroads into our daily saas-bahu sagas. This is exactly what the team of “No One Killed Jessica” was at in the last month. The hype was enormous but except for the talented Rani and underrated Vidya as lead actors, there didn’t seem to be enough to get me excited about the film; even the director was unheard of and most likely one more of our exponentially-growing crop of debutant directors. With these thoughts running in my head, I had barely any expectations from the film as I walked into the hall.

But director Raj Kumar Gupta proved me enormously wrong. He not only had a good story to tell, he also ensured that everything from the screenplay to the performances to the music and editing fell right into place to make it a riveting experience for the audience.

Thanks to media’s coverage over the years, Jessica’s tragedy has become a sort of urban legend in the new millennium India, which put a huge responsibility on the filmmaker to ensure that he didn’t make a mockery of the subject. The initial disclaimer before the start of the film sets the tone and the beginning credits set against images of Delhi on a newspaper with the boisterous “Dilli” track playing in the background indicate that an ingenious presentation lies ahead.

NOKJ is a conscious attempt at realism. The story is the central character and there is no place for redundant romantic inclinations for the lead characters. In fact, while one lead character cries hoarse at not having a boyfriend; the other has no time for them (though the random romp on bed in between work is not ruled out!) This has ensured an uncluttered screenplay with the focus strongly on the subject. Even the songs are more of background scores, which don’t hinder the pace of the narrative and match the feel of the film.

The performances are top notch. Rani as the new age journalist, who is unabashed in her language and mannerism, and will fight to the T for justice, is impeccable in her character. Her aggression as Meira is the hallmark of the film and will be remembered as one of her finest performances. So goes for Vidya as well. As the anguished sister Sabrina, she delivers the finer nuances of her character with a rare sensitivity. She is fragile and unyielding at the same time. And she brings out the contrast of her character alongside Jessica’s and Meira’s very effectively. She almost wins my vote for the better performance, even though her character is restrained and subtle. Even the rest of the cast has been carefully chosen and lend a real look to the story. A special mention for the Page 3 restaurateur, who with her “I’m not sure” alibi, encapsulates the escapist mentality of the urban elite.
The dialogues are also straight from the urban lingo. Some lines ring true and strike a chord. Though, I was a little taken aback at hearing the non-“beeped” invectives being liberally mouthed by the characters. I’m not sure if this “creative freedom” was really required this far to lend authenticity to the characters.

It would have been easy for such a grim topic to turn into a melancholic tale of justice denied. But again the director, through the use of flashbacks and parallel narrative, efficiently takes the viewer on crests and troughs of his story. No patch is too dull and indeed, many scenes, especially the sting operations, are peppered with satire and humour and make you laugh without being slapstick.

NOKJ gives a strong social message on the lines of RDB and LRMB, and calls for an awakening of today’s generation to stand up against the wrongs of our political class and judiciary. I’m not sure if such films can radically change the face of society but they are surely required for each of us to sit up and take notice of the times we are living in.

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January 9, 2011 at 6:10 pm Leave a comment

SMS Freak!

How many of us would spend 15-20 minutes in composing an SMS? Well, call me a freak, but I do!

This Diwali, much like other festivals, I gave the fancy forwards I’d received a miss and decided to give a personal touch by keying in my wishes, replete with special symbols. It turned out to be a futile (and heartbreaking at that) exercise as none of the 35-40 recipients got any text, just a blank SMS (atleast that’s what the 5 people, who were kind enough to inform me, had to say). And this when I thought, I had learnt my lessons from the past…

When I first got this mobile phone with multilingual capability, I was pretty excited that now I could type SMS in my national language. So when I woke on this cold Lohri morning, I thought it was a good option to stay in the warmth of my quilt and type my Lohri greetings in Hindi. It turned out to be quite a workout for my fingers and revision of Hindi “varnamala” (alphabets).

For instance, to arrive at ‘m’ as in मेरे (“mere”), I had to mentally recite “प फ ब भ म” and try a couple of numbers to know that it was not 6 (keypad prominently displayed MNO for help), but number 8 that I had to press 5 times! At the end of a good half an hour, I was pleased with the results. I had managed to amalgamate Hindi and Punjabi into a couple of lines that seemed to fit into 160 characters.

It didn’t take too long before my pride came crashing down as people replied back saying they received just boxes or absolutely no text as SMS. The monthly bill later revealed that Airtel considered the Hindi alphabets more than 160 characters even though hardly anyone was able to read anything of it! From that moment on, I decided to give Devnagari script a miss for Short Messaging Service.

Special occasions apart, I put in some effort for even my everyday SMS. For one, I don’t like SMS short-hand; which means you is ‘you’ and not ‘u’, see is ‘see’ and not ‘c’. And it just doesn’t at “See you at 6.” I find it difficult to end the SMS in a short single line even if it sufficient to convey the message. Brevity be damned, it just doesn’t seem “paisa-vasool” to me!

The underlying thought is – when I’m being charged the full amount for 20 characters as for 160, I might as well go on and add another 100 to ask about the weather or communicate more details. End result – most of my SMS-es are in the range of 150-160 characters.

So a “c u at 6” would, for me, turn out as 

“Hi, woke up just now. Hope the day’s going well. See you around 6 pm today. Is it possible for you to pick 1 litre of toned milk on the way to my place? :)”

Of course there are exceptions, but they too revolve around the 160 rule. I might give the ‘you’ a miss if I see my SMS is getting into 162 characters. So I would go back and adopt the ‘u’ even if it means a minute more and a li’l more exercise for my fingers.

Scoorge McDuck would be so proud of me!

November 20, 2007 at 11:14 am 5 comments

Alles Gut {All is Good}

In a new country where you get the chance to experience a different lifestyle and assimilate new ideas, I had so much to write about my short stay here. I even kept jotting things on & off, but could not shape them into something “postable”. Now that I am already returning, I thought it would be better to chronicle half-baked thoughts than lose them completely, so am posting one of the whatever state post I had started writing…

The past month in Germany has been quite a pleasant one and as has been apparent from the past few experiences I shared, I like the place & whatever it brought with it. However, a single puny incident is enough to make you long for home – that is the power of India.

Shops in Bonn close at 8:00 PM, and I don’t need to add “sharp” here. And to top it all, the whole market place is closed (save for some eateries) on Sundays as well as holidays. So for someone in IT, it might just mean, you never find a shop open except on a Saturday. Not that I can’t plan to leave office early, but there are days when you simply lose track of time or forget the fact that you have such deadlines to live with. Today was one such day…

Though I left office early, I was with some colleagues & spent some time gadding about before arriving at the station some 20 minutes before 8. The train was due in some 7 minutes; it would take 6 minutes to reach my destination station and 4 minutes more in walking to this superstore. Don’t be surprised… this is how your mind starts functioning when you spend some time in Germany – I’ve starting planning & calculating down to the very minute! I knew already, it was a losing battle, but decided to give it a shot by running to the store, laptop in tow, as soon as I got down from the train.

I was surely at the store before 8 PM, a couple of minutes to spare, and saw this lady ushering out another woman and her daughter out of the door. Of course, they had been able to shop as was evident from the shopping bags they carried. Off the track, but another inconvenience in shopping at these stores is you need to carry your own shopping bags or buy one from the counter! I have had to buy the bags on most instances, as I forget to carry them and the only time I acted money-wise, I regretted it all the way home while literally doing the balancing act.

Anyway, back to my story, I peeped in to see there were still some customers inside and tried to make my way inside. The store lady persistently kept closing the door indicating that I could not enter now.

I frowned.

I smiled.

And gently requested “Zwei Minuten, pleaseee!” {Two minutes, please}

The lady retaliated with a bigger smile and said “Nein.” {NO}, before pushing the door shut.

I was hurt & turned back home; it was no use trying further.

Funnily, my initial thought was if I had used “Bitte” {German for please} in place of its English counterpart, she would have relented. But then I knew this was wishful thinking, Germans are ruthless when it comes to time.

When all these days I have been all praise for the punctuality of transportation services & other things in general, I wonder what made me so bitter this time. There have been multiple instances when I have rushed to reach just in time for a bus/train and even missed it on a couple of occasions.

Maybe, sometimes, you miss the litheness back home – where everything can be twisted, turned and made-to-work when it wouldn’t have under “normal” circumstances.

December 6, 2006 at 9:24 pm 9 comments

Win-Win-Win-Win!

Picture this…

It’s a hot summer evening & you are travelling by bus – long distance travel, when you wished you had carried something to eat & drink for the long hours ahead. To your relief, the bus halts & you see the door open with a guy, carrying 3-4 bottles of “packaged drinking water” to sell, trying to get in. However, he & others of his brigade are forbidden to enter the bus by the conductor, who thinks this will delay departure of the bus (or maybe is it just his whim?). The guy fumes & leaves the bottles still in tow.

You see another hawker from the window but the bus’ window pane would not budge to open & before you can shout, he has left to sell his wares to the next bus. You curse the heat & as the bus drives on, you try and take a short nap. Just then an altercation between the bus conductor & a fellow passenger stirs you out of slumber. You realize the conductor does not have sufficient change (chillar) to hand back to the passenger buying the ticket & both are holding the other at fault for not carrying change. Just another day, you think & sigh…

Now, picture this same setting but the proceedings quite different this time…

The guy selling water bottles climbs the bus & palavers the conductor into something which culminates in this guy jingling out 1-2 Rupee coins totalling to 50 Rupees to the conductor who promptly hands over a Rs. 50 note back to him while allowing him passage into the bus to sell his wares. What a wonderful jugaad, I mused as I bought the water bottle from this guy. And yes, needless to say the conductor was only happy the dole out the change, from his now heavy-with-coins bag, to passengers.

Idealists would term it as a sort of bribery, however I would tend to see it as an interesting arrangement where all these 4 parties stood to gain… A classic case of ingenuity at work as a result of which multiple parties benefitted.

July 6, 2006 at 9:56 am 5 comments


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