The Quest for the Sasta

There is one word in Hindi that has the capability to make people turn their heads, or stop and stare, and give their undying attention to the person or the text where it makes an appearance. This word makes people curious, hopeful, and excited. This excitement can lead to levels so high as to be termed as craziness or frenzy. This three letter word with two syllables is catchy and deliciously lip-smacking to pronounce.

Sasta.

The other day I was coming back from college in the metro. At one point, the word ‘sasta’ fell onto my ears. I looked up from my book to see a guy telling his friend about the jeans he bought at half price from a shop in Lajpat Nagar, because it must have been reject material from the factory and had not been exported because it did not meet up to quality standards, after which the shopkeeper had approached the factory and offered to dispose of them. Half the compartment within earshot of them was listening intently, eager to go home and tell friends and family about the discovery they made that day. In our country, a person who knows where to buy cheap and good quality merchandise is very well respected.

This word is the mantra that the entire marketing of Big Bazaar is based upon. “Isse sasta aur achha kahin nahi…” so goes their tagline. Not just this, they also have the “Sabse Saste X Din” campaigns. Also is the Wednesday bazaar, which is advertised to be the weekly oppurtunity of a lifetime.

A couple of weeks ago, my mother and I went to the Wednesday Bazaar to see what it was all about. After all, my mother had listened to the neighbouring auntyjis go on and on about the rates of the vegetables, a tale which inspires one to explore the magical land that promises happiness in the form of savings.

When we reached the place, however, we were greeted by a sight that can chill the bones of even the most seasoned shopper. The crowd in there was immense, the lines of people who waited at the checkout counter trailed around beyond where the eye could see. Steeling my mind against the boredom that awaited, I quietly followed my mother into the dark realms, which fed upon people’s greed and made them pass through endless pain before they reached their goal. But not before I had armed myself with a shopping cart.

The battle at the vegetable section was probably the hardest and costliest of them all. I guarded the cart, as my mother forayed through the baskets, looking for an opening through which she could lean in and start selecting the vegetables. People around were digging deep into the huge tub of potatoes, looking for the treasured non spoilt pieces. The scurry for plastic bags also was hard, with someone or the other tugging away the roll. Mothers forgot their children, who sat in their special seat of their carts, looking at each other, some crying. The line for getting the produce weighed, sealed and tagged was longer that the checkout counters, the men behind the weighing machines expertly weighing the vegetables, punching in the codes and applying the barcode stickers swiftly. I waited in the line as mother went around grabbing whatever she could. A man and a woman in the line beside me got into an argument over who got into the line first. The woman accused the man heatedly of pushing her aside to get in line first. The man, in turn, started demonstrating to the crowd how the woman was misusing her gender to scream for help. Nobody listened. The argument subsided and the two stayed put, muttering under their breath amidst vicious glances at each other.

I’m the person for whom shopping is limited to following around his mother in the hyper market, only because he still hasn’t got over the childish thrill of pushing around a shopping cart. But in here, there was barely enough space for moving without knocking over a stack of juice boxes, let alone go zooming down an aisle.

Waiting in the checkout line was more entertaining than the vegetables section. In the 45 minutes that we waited in line, we heard a lot of dry comments which started to get meaner, sarcastic and funnier by the minute. We also witnessed what was almost a fistfight, but remained to be a clash of egos between a harassed person who had been waiting in line and a person who cut into it. Pretty soon everybody’s attention was directed towards the exchange of extremely foul (in my mother’s opinion) insults between the two. The checkout clerks too started getting distracted due to the commotion and started mixing people’s shopping.

As we walked towards the car, completely drained by the events of the day which had turned out to be longer than usual, we discussed whether it is actually worth coming all the way here to get physically and emotionally tortured just to save money on stuff that is readily available near home with the reassuring smile of a shopkeeper who recognises you. Then we scanned the invoice. Down at the bottom of the long list was a statement that summarised our purchases for the day. Also was written the total savings that we made that day. Even though quite a few items that we had bought that day were because of a whim, or saw offers that were too good to resist, or simply because it was something new, the total amount of savings as compared to MRP was an amount that made me blink. It was actually worth the trip. Looking at the satisfied expression on my mother’s face, I knew that it wasn’t long before we were back on another fateful Wednesday, on a fresh quest for fresh produce.

Damn you, Big Bazaar.

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Sorry!

I was checking my mail one day. There was one little mail from WordPress that told me that Mr Shishir had commented on my post ‘Still waiting for the slumdog millionaire’, urging me to resume writing in my blog.

I frowned. Then suddenly I remembered that I had a blog. Oh yes, the one on WordPress.

My last post was on January 19, 2009. Which means I neglected this blog for 7 months. Let me account for these months and tell you why I havent been able to blog.

Well, here’s the excuse-

February and March – I prepared for my exams in April.

April – I gave the above mentioned exams., which went on for one and a half months (why the hell else would I prepare?)

May – The Film Producers Strike, which started in April, results in most multiplexes going empty, or showing reruns of older films.  (For some reason, I write about movies I have seen in a cinema hall only)

June – The strike ends by mid-June. But by that time, I’m off camping with cousins in Uttarakhand!

July – By this time, I have forgotten that I used to maintain a blog. Can’t think of any other reason.

August – Something I ate or drank at camp has caused me to get Hepatitis A,  which eventually led to Jaundice, because of which I was not able to blog. I have been sitting at home resting (= doing nothing while feeling absolutely fine) for three weeks now.

But that is why I should have blogged.

Anyways, I am sorry. And today, am going to watch the much awaited Kaminey (I’ll check the spelling and get back to it later).

So, see you soon, and soon after that.

Still Waiting for the Slumdog Millionaire

If there’s one thing that I like about western cinema, its the way they adapt stories in print to the screen. For instance, the adaptations of the legal thrillers of John Grisham, the Harry Potter series (or any other fantasy story), James Bond, the Dan Brown stories, Jurassic Park… and the list goes on and on. The concept of using a story that is already successful, sitting right in front of you in hardback is very common in western cinema.  Another story to join these ranks is Slumdog Millionaire.

slumdog_millionaire_1

Based on the novel ‘Q & A’ by Vikas Swarup, Slumdog Millionaire has everything that Indian cinema does not in terms of quality. Or so I am told. You see, this story is based in India, about one of the most watched game shows in India, and on top of that is also a love story. And still it has not been released in India. Ever since AR Rahman, won the Golden Globe, I have downloaded the soundtrack, read the reviews, and done everything short of attempting to watch the movie. All this because I want to give the movie the proper respect it deserves by shelling out a hundred bucks to watch it on the big screen. I have been anticipating this movie so much that I fear it will fall below my expectations once I watch it.

Well, about the movie. It is about a very young man, who despite his extremely poor and disturbed childhood, is able to answer all the questions in the game show ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ to, well, become a millionaire. But after the game, he is picked up by the police, who charge him for cheating. How could a ‘slumdog’ answer all the questions? He then goes on to explain how the answers lay in the events through his life in the slum with his brother, and their adventures.

Coming back to the Indian connection, lets start with Anil Kapoor. It seemed queer to me why Anil Kapoor had been chosen for the role when there already were Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan, people who had already proved their mettle by hosting the actual game show. But why director Danny Boyle chose Anil Kapoor is still quite a mystery. The only thing that matters is that he did his job well. Next, Irrfan Khan. I cannot remember the last English film with the least bit of an Indian connection that did not have Irrfan Khan in it. In 2007 he starred alongside Angelina Jolie, Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody in A Mighty Heart and The Darjeeling Limited. And now for the latest sensation (again) in Indian music… AR Rahman. His song ‘Jai Ho’ is being played on TV screens across the world. Personally, I also like another song titled ‘O Saya’.

There are also other Indian actors like Saurabh Shukla and Mahesh Manjrekar in the movie. The main actors, Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto, however are based in the UK.

I feel its unfair that a movie that is so close to the spirit and soul of India is being released so late. Just cant wait!

Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! : Review

Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!

Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!

The first thing that came to my mind while I watched this movie is that Abhay Deol is the best of all Deols, even if he is not from the original family. Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! is in simple words is Dibakar Banerjee’s style, i.e. it is based in Delhi, is extremely funny and realistic. And I say this even though it is Banerjee’s second film after Khosla Ka Ghosla.

Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! is a movie about Lucky Singh, the ‘matric pass’ genius born in the lower-middle class streets of Dilli whose charisma and cunning helped him to simply walk into people’s homes, pick stuff up and take it out, with not so much as a bead of sweat. He was a cat burglar, a car booster and a con man. His fascination with the living style of the rich and association with ‘bigde hue’ friends who would call him from the window shouting “Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!” soon transformed him into a handsome, soft spoken, risk taking thief.

The film follows his life as he moves from his home to escape the chaos in his family, as his father (Paresh Rawal) started living with an Auntyji. He moves to the streets so the police cant track him, and starts working for Gogi Bhai (again, Paresh Rawal). Soon his fame spreads across the Delhi underworld and he starts working for himself, once even targeting a journalist just to see his name in a newsaper. Soon, he meets Dr Handa (and again, Paresh Rawal), an honest doctor who soon recognises what Lucky really is and uses him to raise capital for a restaurant. In between all this he pursues Sonal (Neetu Chandra),  sister of colleague and dancer Dolly. Sonal is a normal Delhi chick doing BCom from DU. She resists him at first but his charm comes in handy again.

Abhay Deol carries his character satisfactorily, but the person who really has outdone himself is Paresh Rawal. Three different characters and three different personalities. You would not recognise one role from the other, from Lucky’s father (honest, loud, ashamed of his son), Gogi Bhai (Underworld gangster who later becomes a politician) to Dr Handa (educated, dignified and family man). Archana Puran Singh also is perfect as Mrs Handa.

This movie is worth watching by all, as it contains a funny moment in every nook and cranny of the film, albeit that sometimes you have to look for it. But when you do find it, it sure is rewarding. Another reason I liked it was that I could connect to it having lived in Delhi for quite some time. The way a Delhi policeman talks, the way a goonda boy acts, all minute details about Delhi have been accurately reproduced here. Some people do have problems with the morality it portarys, but what the heck, I dont care. This film entertains, and is worth keeping in a DVD.

The Ghajini Connection

Aamir's Look in Ghajini

Aamir's Look in Ghajini

Most of you may have heard about the new Aamir Khan movie, the one in which he sports a weird haircut? Yeah, the short cropped hair with bald lines shaved through. The movie is called Ghajini. And you know what, this movie is a remake of a Tamil/Telugu film from 2005, which was called (guess…?).. Ghajini.

I say this because the writer and director of this 2008 Hindi movie is the same as that of the 2005 Tamil movie. Mr A R Murugadoss doesn’t mind making the same movie all over again. BUT, the connection doesnt end here. Murugadoss got the idea of this movie from a 2000 English movie called Memento, directed by Christopher Nolan, the same guy who co-directed The Dark Knight. Memento also features Carrie-Anne Moss, who also played Trinity in the Matrix series.

Have I told you about the plot? Well, the story in all three movies is basically about a man who is suffering from a unique memory condition, because of which he has short-term memory loss. So, with the help of tattoos he makes on his body and photographs that he takes using a polaroid camera, he reminds himself time and againof his mission- to hunt down and kill the man who murdered his girlfriend.

Fascinating, isn’t it? And for a moment I thought that Murugadoss thought up this idea on his own. Nah…

Confessions of a Couch Potato: Poem

Hey… Since I am not getting much time to sit at WordPress and write, I am putting up a poem of mine which I wrote a few days ago.  An initial disclaimer: This Poem is NOT based on my life.

Well, maybe just a little.

Please do comment.

Confessions of a Couch Potato
By Akash Gupta

He sat there, watching TV
‘Cause he liked it, you see.
It made him feel full and free
It was like a constant dream.

He was there as always,
Sitting and staring at the screen.
Watching the prime minister say
How his foreign trip had been.

He sat there in the day,
Looking at the pope pray.
He sat there through the night
Watching the boxers fight.

But sometimes, during a boring infomercial
He would wonder with a sigh,
Why don’t I live in a world that’s real
And see the earth with my own eyes?

And then quickly came the answer to his mind,
An answer he did not even have to find.
Why around the world should I go
When I can do the same while watching a TV show?

And then one day did tragedy strike
While he watched a movie for the fourth time in a row,
(A movie that he evidently did like)
The TV set had to blow!

He was back on the couch the very next day
At his new computer he sat, clicking away.
Forgotten was his beloved colour TV,
Which had already become a distant memory.

So, as he rode through virtual lands
Or watched a video clip,
He knew he had the world in his hand
Not under his thumb, but his fingertips.

Rock On!: Review

Rock On!
Rock On!

When I first heard about this movie, or rather when I heard its songs, I knew it was going to be good. It is now official… Indian Cinema is changing, baby. For the good.

Four friends Aditya (Farhan Akhtar), Joe (Arjun Rampal), KD (Purab Kohli) and Rob (Luke Kenny) are part of a Rock band called Magik, and these four are ready to leave everything behind to follow their dream of becoming big. And they see their oppurtunity, in a competition held by Channel V, the prize of which is an Album Contract. They win the competition, and this is when things start going sour. The band splits, right in the middle of shooting a music video because of a fight between Aditya and Joe. Ten years later, with the main efforts of Aditya’s wife, Sakshi (Prachi Desai) the band members come together again, though Aditya had to be convinced quite a bit.

In the end, this movie is about friendship and music, mixed together in such a beautiful way that you feel the warmth seep in through you and take you away from your troubles, lift you into the sunlight and charge back the fun into you. Farhan Akhtar’s first singing stint has left all wanting for more. This guy has proved himself as an all-rounder. Though this movie reminds everybody of Dil Chahta Hai, Farhan’s directorial debut, you may be surprised to find that this film was not directed by him. This is only the second film by Abhishek Kapoor, but this is enough to look forward to more work by him. Arjun Rampal’s look and personality already put him as perfect for his role, and Kohli and Kenny also made us feel their characters. I think that using Prachi Desai was most convenient, as she has had a couple of years training in laughing and crying, which is all she does in the film, in acting in a Soap.

I would recommend this to anybody with the least interest in music, because this is the new anthem, right in the top shelf along with Chak De!, Lagaan, Rang De Basanti, and of course, Dil Chahta Hai.