Snip (2000)

This is going to be really short because I need to take a bath, like right now.

This is not the best introduction to the movie, but this is the only clip that I was able to find.

I love movies like ‘Ek Chalis ki last local’, or ‘Waisa bhi hota hain, part II’ – not straight gangster movies, but kind ‘Gangster funny’. And Snip! is probably one of the earliest such movies that I watched. (Leaving aside ‘Jaane bhi do…’, Guy Ritchie, ‘Pulp fiction’, etc.) Probably one of the earliest examples in India, so may be the movie wasn’t that good. But that is what we had, and I remember loving it. I loved ‘Everybody says I’m fine’ and I am not sure it was a great movie. They were movies that were vastly removed from what I had watched before.

Anyway, I want to watch it again, and I just can’t find any copy. No official stream or media, of course, because our media companies are idiots. No unofficial source either.

Bhojpuri (and Assamese) in Bengaluru

Someone in a whatsapp group shared this wonderful interview with Kalpana Patowary: I’ve become used to the fact that when I sing guns go off. The interview had apparently happened while Kalpana Patoway was in Bangalore for a show, a show that I had watched. So, I posted the link to twitter, Satya replied, and I suddenly remembered that I’d wanted to blog about the show, and had completely forgotten to do that. So, here.

The show was held in an amphitheater behind the main auditorium of the Ravindra Kalachestra. It had a low stage backing into the main auditorium. I was sure it would rain, but it didn’t. The crowd was a mix of families, firangs and other bohemians, and workers from construction sites all over the city. The art collective, Maraa, had apparently spent a lot of time going out and inviting the workers for the show. The start was much delayed, the workers had the finish their day’s work, before they came over.

The warm up act was a local percussion group. I have now been assured that it was actually called “Indian folk band” led by Bala. It was fun, as all percussion is. People danced, though there was more participation there from the urban non-bhojpuri section.

The first song the Kalpana Patowary sang was the Ganga one mentioned in the article. I’m sure what she said before that song was “Ganga maiya ki yaad aati hai?” The crowd took time to warm up. Towards the end people – everyone – was dancing, even to songs that I thought were about gods. There were stage invasions in the middle of songs, and a stage-hand/manger was busy trying to keep people from swarming around her or jolting the iPad on the stand which seemed to have her lyrics.

Sometime before the end, a large section of the workers had to leave – before the buses stopped plying. There was an album to be released, and the workers were asked to come up to release the album. There were people everywhere on the stage, and lots of selfies were shot. But it settled down in about ten minutes, and it was back to the songs.

Participation. There were lovely moments in the show. There was this elderly gentleman in a salwar-kameez, who passed on a note to an organizer, who passed it on to Kalpana Patowary. It was a song that he had written, and he wanted her to sing it. But he was asked to come up on the stage, and he sang it a cappella. The friend who had told me about the show later walked up to him to say that she enjoyed his singing. He said that he didn’t have much time in the city to practice.

There was another towards the end, a sharply dressed young man, who came up, took the mike and said, “You sing about the pain of the wife, whose husband is about to leave for work to a place far away. Why don’t you sing about the pain of the newly wed husband who has to leave his family and migrate for work.” To which she said, “As a woman I sing about the wife. It should be the male singer who should sing about what you said. But they don’t, perhaps I should do their job for them.”

BTW, Trilok Gutru and Kalpana Patowary had collaborated on re-imagining a bihu song, which was also featured in that show.

Doesn’t quite fit in twitter

Context (kind of): From Kottke: The end of the NASA window

I wonder whether our space exploration is about to get into maintenance mode with very little new stuff.

Which reminded me of a documentary on the Concorde I watched a long time ago. Towards the end of the documentary, one of the pilot wonders whether his grandchild would find it difficult to believe that her grandfather used to do the transatlantic crossing in half the times it takes her. Then he turns to the camera and says something like, “I don’t believe that that would happen. As a species we have never turned back. Supersonic transatlantic passenger transport would be back.”

Except that sometime we do turn back on the future.

What the spam!

Over the last few weeks, I have been getting comment spam in Japanese.

Other than the fact that the content of the comment happens to be in Japanese, these pieces are spam are pretty normal: they have a few luxury brand key words, and a few links to websites selling knock-offs.

But, I have been bugged by two other facts about these:
a) Akismet puts these in the moderation queue instead of identifying these as spam
b) They were all posted to this post on Sachin Tendulkar, the hundred hundreds and the movie 99


Acrophobia is nothing to be afraid of

I wanted to write about a few songs. But I need to be able to think some things through and I have been feeling too lazy.

Instead of that a short note about a type of dream that I keep having.

But first, you should know that I have severe acrophobia. Those viewing areas in towers with the glass floor, even looking at the pictures of those makes me queasy. It has become less acute as I have grown older, but the fear is still there. I can peep down a stairwell only by gripping the banister, or move towards the edge of the roof only if there is a parapet. However, most banisters and parapet come up to just below where I think my center of gravity is, and I keep imagining myself tipping over like a egg, over the wall.

Twice in my life, I joined a job to find myself shipped off to a corporate training camp run by ex-military personnel. They had this huge rock (I say huge but it was probably just about 10 meters tall) and we had to rappel down its side. Didn’t enjoy it one bit.

And I have claustrophobia. Well, not true claustrophobia, because phobias are irrational and there irrational about being afraid of being trapped. I mean I don’t find being in an enclosed place scary in and of itself (though I haven’t been in one in ages). It is just that I worry I might have a tough time wriggling out of spaces into which I have wriggled into. When I watch people who are spelunking wriggling into a tiny hole that they can’t imagine them wriggling out of, it nearly induces a panic attack.

But back when my age was in single digits, I liked climbing. There were trees right next to our house, and climbing the trees would get me to the horizontal wall extension that the house had right below the ventilators (no idea why, but were common; look at the one here for example). And climbing up the windows (windows had these horizontal bars) would let me climb up to the top of the almirahs and closets.

And I liked enclosed spaces. My favourite place to hide was under the bed. I would take my books and hide there. My second most favourite place to hide was in the closet. It was more comfortable, but I couldn’t read in there. There is a story from my childhood, where a person who had saved my father from drowning as a child, saved me when I hid in a tin storage trunk and accidentally locked myself in it.

Anyway, I outgrew those childish interest and no longer could fit my body in the gap between the bed and the floor. I replaced those with my rational fear of dying horribly. Anyway, it is not as bad as it was in my teens. I regularly dream of picking up mountaineering. Seeing pictures of mountains inspires me, though I haven’t yet tested whether the inspiration will survive the first brush with an actual mountain – with precipices and other dangerous features.

And I dream of living in a small house. One of my favourite channels on youtube is about small houses, and I like the idea of sleeping in a place that is one tiny flight up from the living area, with just about enough headroom so that my head doesn’t hit the roof when I sit.

(aside: I use autos for the ride to work regularly, for reasons too complicated to explain. Anyway, a lot of those autos have extra cushion in the seats – a great idea in theory. Unfortunately, the cushioning means that the headroom is just that bit lesser. The design of autos is such that they have crappy suspension and one of the structural support passes right over the passenger seat. And the the design of the Indian roads is such that many times during each journey I’d be magically transported upwards where the head can meet the structural support.)

Now, my dream. Or dreams. I regularly have dreams in the morning where I am in a cubby hole of sorts. There is no room to stand up. Even with me sitting down I have to keep my head bent forward. I am in a modern building. There is enough light. I can clearly see the exit. There is no immediate floor outside the exits. I know that this place is somewhere at least a few floors up in the building. If I were careless while getting out, I’d fall a long way down.

The only way out is through the exit, where I have to reorient myself in interesting ways to reach a ladder embedded into the wall. However, I am calm. I do not panic. I know that what I need to do is slightly difficult, but I am quietly confident about my ability to do it.

So, that is it. That is what I wanted to write about today. Sometimes this sequence is just one scene in the Lord of the Rings length epic that is my dream. At other times, like today morning, it is the entirety of dream as I remember it when I wake up.

Other things can wait

Since this doesn’t fit in twitter:

At the bus stand, a slightly sozzled man walks up to me, stares incredulously, as if he can’t believe my stupidity, and asks, “Are you leaving Kerala?”

I don’t know him from Jack O’Bedlam, but he acts like we’re old friends. Did I meet him in a Mahé bar? Not too sure, I say “I’m so sorry, but I am.” He smiles, waves sadly as he tightens his lungi which is on half mast, and says “Please come back soon again.”

From an article on eating mussels in North Kerala.

Brain dump – 1

This morning I woke up convinced that the story to tell would be about the flip that happens when you entangled – with a book, a game, a show – and your entire life stops being about your overt life and you just want it – work, study, the working day – to end so that you can pick up the meaningful part of your life where you left it last. Was recently talking to a friend’s friend whose spouse works in developing those ‘escape the room’ games, when they told me about the times when the only wish would be for the day to end so that they could go back to the game they were stuck in the middle of.

But then this flip has been used in a number of stories. For example in Hearts in Atlantis. And in a lot of gambler kind of scenarios (Mahjong/Poker). And in “Ready Player One”.

The central element of “Ready Player One” – the epic quest in a video game – has been done elsewhere. I remember a (slightly badly written) science fiction story from the late 80s (early 90s, it turns out – Piers Anthony’s “Kilobyte”), and then I think there are tons of Manga – the one I remember is “Hunter x Hunter” which had an extended arc about a “Ready Player One” style quest contest in a ‘Video Game’ called “Greed Island”.

Anyway, I liked “Ready Player One” (though it could have been better*). And the Japanese have shortlisted “Ready Player One” for Seiun Award, so some of them agree (though all those dialogues of the Japanese ‘brothers’ must have been drastically improved in translation).

* For one, it over-explains, see ‘Protocol of Science Fiction’ (and I should write about Irandam Ulagam in that context).

In the dark an idiot is as good as a hero

The war is on, as it has been for the longest time. You just haven’t had time to do anything other than fly. No one has. For eight months and a bit more, you, your crew and the dreamliner have stayed on the taxiway and the skies. Carrying people one way, and supplies the other, but all through this time, there hasn’t been the time to stop. No time to hang around, in the hanger.

Maintenance, or what passes for maintenance has been on the fly, though thankfully not during the flights. Those components that have held on with tape and prayer have been allowed to stay, thousands others have been hot swapped and replaced, and your engineer has been driven near tears.

“Captain, it cannae take it any longer”. (well, the engineer is Scottish, as all engineers should be, but I can’t do a Scottish accent even if someone paid me money.)

“Captain, the engines will burn, the generators will stop, and we will fall off the sky!”

“They’ll have to hold on. This beauty has to keep flying, or it is the end not just of us, but everyone around us.” And you pass a loving hand over the dash, that you have spent these 248 days in front of.

And then, bug kicks in, the generators stop and you fall off the sky.

Before I forget: Byomkesh

Watched Detective Byomkesh Bakshy.

  • I seem to have watched a different movie, because I liked it a lot more than other people
  • But then this was the first movie in a hall since Agent Vinod (perhaps), and first complete movie in months
  • I generally tend to whine when the source material is distorted
  • For example, I find that in most Sherlock adaptation, Holmes is completely different – more pit bull than bloodhound
  • But, I’ve been sheltered by limited exposure to original Byomkesh source material
  • On the other hand, I’ve watched the TV series and quite a few of the Bengali movies
  • If our movie awards are any good, should win a lot of technical awards – pretty stuff
  • As Baradwaj Rangan puts it, this is an origin story of sorts, and Ajit was always in Satyanweshi, so he isn’t a surprise
  • But Satyaboti? Well, at least the equation between the two was preserved
  • BTW, I’m always surprised that Satyaboti wasn’t more instrumental in the later stories