Friday, December 09, 2005

Goa gets going with filmi fervour

The big stars may be missing this year but that didn't matter. With its sun, sand and sizzle, Goa is the perfect place for a film festival.

Not that I would know much. I spent most of my time huddled at the media centre buried under an onslaught of press conferences and stories. Films! What films? For the first eight days of the fest, I hadn't watched any. By the ninth day, I was sapped and headed for the India premiere of the French blockbuster Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra - a decision I will never regret.

Do catch up on this wonderful creation of Alain Chabat which features Monica Belucci as the gorgeous Cleopatra and loads of rib-tickling moments. The dubbed version of the film (in English, Hindi and other languages) hits Indian theatres around Christmas 2005.

The only other film which I managed to catch was another French flick - Cannes winner L'Enfant - a thought-provoking film which held audiences transfixed to the screen.

Of course, next year's film festival will be a different ballgame altogether now that Johnny Depp is expected to drop in for a visit.

Here are some of the 50-plus stories this tiresome PTI journalist turned in as others were busy watching films or cruising along in luxury liners or shaking a leg at PIB dos. Sigh! Even rival agency correspondent Faizal Khan got a peck on the cheeks from French supermodel Noemie Lenoir while poor yours truly got left out of all the action.

Rajnikant gets set to jive in French film

Aishwarya Rai to star in Asterix flick

Reddy for global stars to promote IFFI

Big B makes it to IFFI in a sketchbook

IFFI faces desi competition in Goa

First Indo-Italian film to roll in 2006

IFFI loses out on Satyajit Ray film

Filmmaker turns poster boy for IFFI

Italian maestro misses date with IFFI

Iranian film wins Golden Peacock

Britain draws a blank at IFFI

Dholakia stands by his film on Godhra

Taal's UK extra comes to IFFI

Italians say mama mia to Sonali

Bond in movie theatre after 25 years

Indian docu to premiere in NY

Godhra film leads to fracas at IFFI

Premieres rock the boat at IFFI

How Page 3 came about

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Get set for gastric lie-detectors

They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. And if Indian-American scientist Pankaj Pasricha has his way, one could also use a man's stomach to know if he's lying.

You can read the rest of my article here.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A bit about Blogging

Wrote an article about the perils of blogging in the wake of the Gaurav Sabnis controversy. It's a bit sketchy on details but I did talk to an IT expert on whether bloggers have any rights at all. You can take a peek at it here -

Mind what you write, bloggers! The days of carefree blogging are over. As more and more blogs get into the public domain, the danger of being sued can only increase.

You can read the rest of the article here

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Chetan Bhagat: Round Two

Author Chetan Bhagat is in town. Thousands of Indians laughed and cried over his debut novel Five Point Someone - yours truly being one of them. The book is still on bestseller lists in India even after a year of its release.

Incidentally, Bhagat's here for the release of his second novel One Night at the Call Centre. You can find out here what the author has to say about the book.

I totally agree with Jabberwock when he says that Chetan is a good storyteller. I know that ON@TCC is not the kind of literature classic that everybody buys and never reads. Instead, it's a novel for everyone - people who never ever read novels and even bibliophiles.

Like FPS, I finished Chetan's new book in a single sitting - 6 hours to be precise. Unlike his first novel, parts of which seemed to have been based on real-life experiences, ON@TCC is more-or-less fiction.

However, I do agree with critics who feel FPS is better - I guess autobiographies always come out more realistic than pure fiction. My friends are divided on the issue - some swear by FPS while others feel the second book is a much better effort.

Others have found the God part in the novel a tad problematic. This is something I can't understand, given that everything is sorted out in the epilogue.

But kudos to Chetan for portraying a typical day at the call-centre so realistically. All that research certainly paid off.

Worth a Read. Will join its predecessor on the bestseller lists.

Chetan Bhagat
Price: Rs 95, Pages: 289

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hair now, gone tomorrow Part 2

A youngster I bumped into today wanted to know the time. No problemo. But what troubled me was the word he prefixed to his request - 'Uncle, may I know the time?'

Uncle!!!!!!!!!!Woe is me! As flies to wanton boys are we to gods. They kill us for their sport.

My 20-something mind reels in despair. This ten-or-twelve something boy calling me Uncle. Is my receding hairline so apparent that I look like an uncle already. Help!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Getting up, close and personal with Madhur

Met filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar at the IHC retrospective (of his films) last week.

Quite admire the guy. Though scores of TV and print journalists individually grilled him with questions for that one Exclusive Interview - and I am sure everybody asked the same old questions - he didn't stop smiling and maintained his cool throughout.

Seems like quite a decent chap. You can read my version of the interview here.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Me blogger - me hate tech hurdles

For those who continually breathe a sigh of relief that I haven't posted for a long, long time - be warned this state of affairs will not last very long.

The virus that had overcome my computer earlier has now affected my modem so any posts on this blog would have to be done surreptitiously at the office, which is very very tough considering they just have four Internet-enabled terminals in the entire place.

Though this means my posts are gonna be sporadic and short, I will surely try my best to bombard you guys with my posts left, right and centre as soon as possible. Be prepared. Be very prepared

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Booker bagged by Irishman - but not by Barry

Alas! Sebastian Barry has lost the Booker and the 50,000 pound prize has gone instead to the other Irish writer in the fray - John Banville for The Sea. Barry was the underdog anyway but I suppose Indians would have been rooting for him after he revealed his fixation with the country.

Here's the interview with Barry -

Booker-nominated Irishman recalls Indian link
Tony Tharakan
New Delhi, Oct 7 (PTI) For Irish novelist Sebastian Barry, India used to come alive at night - with a little help from his grandfather.

Although he's never been to India, the 2005 Booker Prize-nominated author got his first glimpses of the country through bedtime stories.

"My grandfather, a major in the British army, loved Kipling but he also adored Tagore and read him to me as a child in bed. He had worked in India and carried in him memories of it that were valuable to him," Barry told PTI in an email interview.
Of all countries in the world, Barry would like to visit India the most. And for good measure, he holds Mahatma Gandhi to be the only true politician of the 20th century.

The author's childhood fascination later turned into a love of all things Indian, including its authors whom Barry ranks among the world's best.

"There is, as the whole world knows, a great line of Indian writers in English. Rohinton Mistry seems to me to an example of the pure writer," says Barry.
But isn't it surprising that since Arundhati Roy's Booker triumph in 1997 for The God of Small Things, no other Indian has managed to lay hands on the prestigious literary prize?

"Indian writing is a series of mountains, maybe it has gone higher than prizes and the like," says the 50-year-old writer who was nominated for the Booker this year.
Barry, counted among Ireland's foremost playwrights and novelists, achieved that milestone with his latest effort - A Long Long Way.

The novel tells the story of Irish teenager Willie Dunne who volunteers to serve Britain during the First World War. Like his 1995 play The Steward of Christendom, this latest novel is also seeped in a lot of Irishness and autobiographical elements.

Barry knows very well that many people never imagined he would ever achieve literary success. A slow learner, he could not read or write till the age of nine.

"I couldn't learn to read for the life of me and the London schoolmaster made me sit beside a clever girl who was to help me. When we went back to Ireland with my new English accent, I was beaten up in the schoolyard as a little English boy, so maybe suddenly I was very aware of language," he says.
"At any rate I quickly regained my old accent, and learned to read off the Catholic catechism. But I still read slowly I think," he adds.
Even though he's a prolific playwright, poet and novelist, Barry considers himself an odd sort of a writer. His writings seem to metamorphose from one genre to another.

"Usually something starts with a poem, that years later may become a play, more rarely a novel," he says.
That Barry is mainly considered a playwright even though he's been writing fiction since 1977, may have something to do with the fact that his mother Joan O'Hara is a veteran theatre actor.

Currently working on the screenplay of A Long Long Way for a film version, Barry says he was greatly struck many years ago when he read Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.

"In fact, I should think I modelled my early work on Hemingway, at least in the spirit of the undertaking," he says.
When it comes to the new-age fad of blogging, Barry feels he's too old and too scared to start now.

"I do read them though. One thing I have noticed is the astonishingly high quality of Indian literature blogs. Everyone who writes there seems to have the grasp of (literary critic and poet Matthew) Arnold and the penetration of (critic F R) Leavis," he says.
Barry prefers restoring old houses instead - a hobby he picked up after renovating the house in lives in. PTI TT

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Barry for the Booker

Interviewed Sebastian Barry for an article. Barry who? Well, for those like me who just got on to the Booker bandwagon - he's one of the two Irish authors on the Booker Prize shortlist for 2005.

Barry's A Long Long Way is about Irish soldiers fighting for Britain during the First World War. The author fills this anti-war book with poetic precision about good and evil and how the human spirit never gives up.

The novel does not contain (to the best of my knowledge) even an iota of India in it but don't let that stop you from reading it.

For Barry, among Indian writers Rohinton Mistry "seems to me to be an example of the pure writer - following his own demanding and human star."

And as to why no Indian has won the Booker since Arundhati Roy long long ago -

"Indian writing is a series of mountains, maybe it has gone higher than prizes and the like."
When it comes to blogging, Barry feels he's too old and too scared to start now.

"I do read them though. One thing I have noticed is the astonishingly high quality of Indian literature blogs. Everyone who writes there seems to have the grasp of Arnold and the penetration of Leavis."

Wonder who Barry is talking about - Maybe Amit Varma or Sepia Mutiny or even Deepak Chopra

Meanwhile, the Booker Prize has kicked up quite a frenzy with even Jabberwock putting in his bit for this grand literary slugfest.

Am waiting with bated breath for the Booker announcement (October 10) - Here's a final look at this year's nominees

The Sea - John Banville
Arthur & George - Julian Barnes
A Long Long Way - Sebastian Barry
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Accidental - Ali Smith
On Beauty - Zadie Smith

Jabberwock may be throwing in his lot behind Barnes but that doesn't stop me from wishing that the best Booker wins.

Hair now, gone tomorrow

Men with receding hair - I truly truly sympathise now. In the imaginary world where I reside for some hours each day, I have even made an Indian scientist discover a cure for baldness.

Even Javed Habib would fail at this. He cannot possibly invent hairstyles to cover up my giant forehead, an unexplored bit of which comes into view each week, nay each day. One, two, three ... hundreds of precious pearls of hair run away from the prison of my skull - never to be captured again.

Woe is me! What shall I do? How can I put a stop to this hairfall? Will I ever get married? Are there any answers?

Dude! Red FM rocks my world

No, 93.5 Red FM radio is not PAYING me to write about them on my blog. This is as each film star says on receiving an award - "truly, truly from the heart."

Who else makes my mornings bearable when I drag myself from bed at 5 am for a morning shift. Red FM.

For they play the latest, the very latest chartbusters and that too ad-free. For an hour of pure bliss. At a time when rival channels are playing 'shastriya sangeet', those of us more attuned to Bollywood and Indipop can take refuge in Red FM. My heartfelt thanks.

New blogs on blogosphere

Not that I blog that regularly but I guess I just about do okay for a journalist with "plenty of time" on his hands. But I must now welcome three of my earthly friends who have recently migrated to blogosphere. And it is my pleasant duty to introduce them -

Meet Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi A Delhi-based guy whose mind keeps moving every now and then between the two metros.

Meet Shyama For whom man is but a fool, who plays first to win and then to lose.

Meet Friendly Ghost She would most likely ask for your shoe size soon after you meet. She makes men cry but adores children.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Of Dutch memories and beer

I open my eyes and I am here - trying to write my blog with nothing new to say. What the heck? I will just go back into flashback mode.

My trip to Amsterdam in June was cool. Apart from the time a waitress at an al fresco joint bathed me in beer. Ok, so I am exaggerating a bit.

I had been sent there to cover the IIFA awards. Dining out at an al fresco cafe one night with Ms Doordarshan, Mr Telegraph, and Ms Star News, Toe Knee had no idea of what fate had in store for him. I had ordered a glass of chocomel (chocolate milk) while the others had opted for a fizzier drink.

But in true-blue filmi style, the blonde bombshell of a waitress tripped over the carpet and dumped the contents of a humongous pitcher of beer onto the my poor torso.

For the wet, dripping and stinking scribe, the apologies of the waitress did not help matters. And pray, what did fellow travellers on the flight home think of the stench emanating from Toe Knee's jacket? We'll leave you to figure that one out.

On a more serious note, it's been four months now since that heavenly four-day stay in the capital of The Netherlands but I still dream I am back again, walking around the sunny sidewalks, travelling on those beautiful trams, staring with rapt admiration at boats in the city of canals, window-shopping for miniature windmills, bumping into Mrs Shahrukh Khan (who correctly identified me as a member of the Indian paparazzi and looked the other way) and of course stocking up on Dutch chocolates. That's made me kinda hungry. Does anybody have chocolates to spare?

And those wondering who the damsel standing next to the BMW bike in the picture is - She's Paroma Ganguly from Doordarshan. Paroma and I had just come out from a seminar when we spotted this truly awesome bike outside the hall. And as Indians generally do, we persuaded bystanders to click a pic with the dream bike. We seemed to have touched the bike in the process, setting off the alarm - which explains the flickering lights in the pic. But managed to run away before the owner arrived.

The other pic - well, I was just passing by this non-descript church next to a canal. All churches in Amsterdam are huge so this one is not that great. Am standing next to a statue on the sidewalk - Have no idea who or what the statue represents. There was no self-explanatory caption either. By the way, the picture came out great but if you can't make out the statue in the picture, I blame Blogger not the pic.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Cold Factor

Life sure sucks when one has a horrible cold. Yours truly is having a first-hand experience. Have sniffed a million D-Colds and swallowed a million Vicks and Halls and you-name-it-alls but nothing seems to be working. My nose is still running and I am feeling envious of all the people enjoying a cold-free experience out there. Help...Aachoooooooooooooooooo. Wish this news report were true.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Super Sania goes down to Mighty Maria

Well, it was to be expected. There was no point getting our hopes too high. It's the scoreline I have a problem with - especially the 6-2 score in the first set. Sania actually played better than Sharapova in the first set; she had more winners too (8 compared to 7) but doublefaults and unforced errors let her down at crucial stages. The score in that set should have been something like 6-4 given that the two players seemed evenly matched.

The second set was a different ballgame altogether. The 6-1 scoreline was accurate. The now vulnerable Sania was almost whitewashed by the superior Russian and the end result was never in doubt.

Years ago one guy, commenting on Ramesh Krishnan's performance on the "big stage" lamented the lack of "killer instinct" in Indians. Sania's case might be something of the sort too. In her post-match interview, Sania says she was not a tad bit nervous but I can understand the pressures of playing the top seed on the Centre Court.

There's still time though. She's only 18. It's been a good Grand Slam circuit for Sania this year and hopefully next year will turn out better.

The good thing about the match being scheduled in the wee hours Indian Time was again - my Graveyard Shift - I could be in office and yet relax and watch the match. Had the result been different, I would have been in seventh heaven right now.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Graveyard Blues

I hate Graveyard Shifts. They make me lose my cool and cause my stomach to go grumble grumble at odd hours. My body clock goes haywire and despite all my attempts to sleep during the day, I am only able to do so in fits and starts.

The vicious cycle returns every 12 days. Horrible, isn't it? My life's come down to this - Working for four nights on the graveyard shift.

Call-centre people please don't complain that you do this all the time - You guys get double my salary!

The only good thing - I spend hours on the Net in office updating my blogs, shooting off emails to acquaintances, checking out interesting sites... which is not possible at home given that my PC has been consigned to RepairLand with no immediate plans of returning.
Ugh! Here's an ancient picture of me many many years ago when I was a teenager writing for the now defunct Zatang website.

Funny I don't have any other pic of mine on the internet yet. And have realised that if I don't want to scare prospective wives away, will have to do something about it soon.

Until then, kindly feel free to ogle at the Zzar for Pen and Paper.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

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