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a blog on 'life' and other popular four letter words...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Big, Fat, Juicy 2013 Bollywood Movie Guide!!!

***The Big, Fat, Juicy 2013 Bollywood Movie Guide!!!***

Sometimes it helps to look back to walk ahead.

A close look at the top 10 grossing movies of 2012(see list below) will reveal a glaring lack of anything called a script. So how do you make money grosser in Hindi? It’s easy –

           * Get a big name that’ll draw in the crowds
           * Release in maximum number of screens on a holiday weekend.
           * Advertise like hell so as to recover it all in the first weekend.

Simble, na?

My Bollywood trends for 2013 are:

          * The birth of the 200cr club – movies that’ll make 200cr in the first week itself – think Salman Khan’s next, D3 and Krrish3.
            * The Hollywoods - After 'Life of Pi', 'Ice Age4' and 'Spiderman' doing extremely well in India, expect more Hollywood in Bollywood this year.
          * The rise of the script - with 'Kahaani', 'Vicky Donor', 'Barfi', 'Gangs of Wassepur', 'Paan Singh', 'Love Shuv' etc last year – see more script based stories tasting champagne this year.

(please read next line with drum-rolls in mind, thank you)

So with no further ado, presenting 'Le Big Bollywood' in 2013!!!

***The Big Fat Juicy Ones***

Dhoom3 (December 25th)

Arguably the biggest movie of the year is Dhoom 3. After raising the stature of the villain in both earlier versions (OMG, Hrithik was sooo freaking awesome in D2!!), D3 comes with the thinking Khan playing the baddie. Since its Aamir’s only movie this year coupled with the marketing savvy of Yash Raj Films, expect dhamakas with Dhoom 3.

Why you should watch it – For Aamir as a baddie and the crazy marketing that’ll make you do so.

Salman’s twins

Overhead - “Salman to officially do away with script or story for his next”. But seriously, anything Salman touches is gold. Add a semblance of a story and you get the highest grosser of 2012 – 'Ek Tha Tiger'. With no script, you still get 'Dabanng 2', the second highest grosser of 2012. Salman’s next is slated to be another home production, directed by another younger brother from the Khan-daan -> Sohail Khan; which is said to be a remake of Telugu flick, Chiranjeevi’s 'Stalin'.  And of course, it’s an Eid release.  But of course.

The other Salman flick of the year is 'Kick', which is still under development.  Oh ya, Chetan Bhagat debuts as screenplay writer with this one.

Why you should watch themArrey, hamra Sallu bhai ka phillum hai!

Krrish 3(Diwali)

India’s most legitimate super hero, Krissh (screw 'Ra.One') is coming back for Bollywood’s greatest movie-going season, Diwali.  With virtually no competition (yes, no SRK this year!!!), expect a bigger Diwali for Hrithik in '13.

Why you should watch it – for some awesome FX, a pumped up Hrithik and hello it’s Diwali J

The SRK movies

As of now, SRK seems to have a quiet year ahead with only two movies expected in ’13 – ‘Chennai Express’ with hit maker Rohit Shetty and Farah Khan’s ‘Happy New Year’. SRK’s traditional Diwali releases, this time, is being hijacked by Hritik, 'Chennai Express' is expected two weeks after Eid.  Farah Khan’s vehicle may be pushed to next year too.

Why you should watch it – for SRK of course.... How can you not???

Woh hai seedhey saadhey Akshay, Akshay..

Believe it or not, the biggest grossing star of 2012 was Akshay Kumar, with 5 of his 6 films turning hits. The man who is credited with starting the winning strategy of “charge high+make masala flicks+get huge opening” has few interesting ones lined up with 'Special Chabbi's, 'Naam Hai Boss' and 'Once Upon a time in Mumbaai Again'.  And with the latter two movies opening in June, surprise, surprise - Khiladi Kumar is the biggest challenger to Salman this Eid.

Why you should watch it – ‘Special Chabbis’ for the very cool 80s look and its from the guy who gave us the awesome 'A Wednesday', ‘Boss’ for the very cool masala flick that the original was (mallu movie 'Pokkiri Raja') and 'Mumbai' for the very cool original.

***The Others***

The Sequels

2013 also sees a high number if sequels with Race 2, Murder 3, Yamla Pagla Dewaana 2, Ragini MMS 2 and Shootout at Wadala, to name the popular ones. Of the lot, I’m excited about Race 2, only for John Abraham.

The Others

Contrary to popular perception, it is Ajay Devgun and not Sallu bhai, who is the remake-specialist with almost all of Devgun's last few movies remakes of Southern hits. In 2013 again, he comes back with a telugu remake, 'Himmatwaala'. Ya, Dependable Devgun will also be seen in Prakash Jha’s multi-starrer, Satyagraha.

The new superstar Randir Kapoor’s movies for ’13 are 'Besharam' and 'Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani'. Expect some box office gold here.

yes, the text really reads "dekho, ,magar pyaar se..."

Some cool movies on my watchlist are Matru KiBijlee Ka Mandola' (for finding if it's gonna be kacha or banyaan), ABCD (for Prabhu Deva's rad moves n bad Hindi), Kai Po Che!(for finding if it's Chethan Bhagat's fourth mistake?) and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (for buffed-up-OMG!-Farhan).

More watch outs this year:

* Kamal Haasan is at it again – pioneering something! On Jan 10th , Kamal will release his magnum opus, Vishwaroopam on DTH platforms, a few hours before it hits the theatre. This is an India-first for such a big movie and lots of eyes are keenly watching Kamal’s move. 

*Considering that Bollywood is now on a remaking spree, there’s lot of original content being created down south. And a few big huge ones too - Rajini’s 'Kochadaiyaan' and Shankar’s ‘I’ will be buzz words this year. 

*The names to watch out are Deepika Padukone (gold digger!) and my real star of 2012, that marvelous man named Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

The Englissss phillums 

The 'Iron Man3' vs 'Man of Steel' battle will play out in India too. Also, with the 3D rereleases of favorites like Independence Day, Top Gun, Star Wars and more, expect more Hollywood in Bollywood this year.

So there you have it folks - 2012 was not really the year of doom (damn pesky Mayans!) – it was actually a great year for Bollywood. 

In 2013, picture abhi baakhi hai mere dost… 

Aur bhadiya bhi!   J

And like SRK and Farah Khan will saying a lot this year, here’s me wishing you lovely readers – “Happy New Year”

Check out the list of 2013 Big, Huge, Juicy, Must See Hollywood Movies (here)

2012 Movies Report Card
Top 15 Highest Grossing Films 2012

Pics, cool videos n other stuff courtesy – crazy mindless googling

Thursday, December 20, 2012


So you wanna know how to straighten hair?

Actually, it’s not hair that needs straightening - For hair, we’ve got great products in the market. Sunsilk maybe?

More than hair, it’s we, the people, who need to get straight.  Indulge me by considering a few recent happenings: 

  • Not many people know of Bhanu Athaiya, who is now affected with brain tumor.  Way back in ’83, she bagged the Oscar for Best Costume Design for Richard Attenborough's biopic Gandhi – yup, she’s India’s first Oscar winner.  Recently, she was in the news as the 86 year old now sent her Oscar back to the Academy.  "I do not trust anyone in India to keep the statuette.  If Rabindranath Tagore's Nobel medal could be stolen from Shantiniketan, what is the guarantee my trophy would be safe?  In India, no one values such things, and we lack a tradition of maintaining our heritage and things pertaining to our culture", is what she said.   Hmmm… Rabindranath Tagore's Nobel was stolen, eh???

  • TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a globally recognized set of nonprofit conferences conducted across the globe to disseminate "ideas worth spreading.”  TED has always selected speakers purely on the basis of the strength of the idea and has been successfully running across countries since ‘84.  TEDxChennai, that organizes TED conferences across India, got its license cancelled last week for “repeatedly flouting internationally followed rules by holding a press conference with sponsors, having a venue sponsor as a speaker on stage and speakers that were part of another conference.” The concerned parties has shrugged off the claims, given token excuses and moved on, never mind that their act has in a way, damaged that idea people carry in their heads of India. Ho hum.

  • The guy sitting next to you in office – could be a girl too; or could be you yourself – but he sits too late at the office so much so that your manager has made a note of it.   Managers jokingly claim that he’s seen both when they arrive and leave the office and that he should spend more time home.  But he doesn’t.  He’s told you that the reason he sits so late in office is because he doesn’t have anything to do back at his room – here at least he facebook, youtube or just browse.   And yes, if an employee sits after 8PM at the office, company policy is that he’s provided food and transportation.  He's aware that he’s screwing the work atmosphere for everyone by doing so as other people, who do have a life outside office, are unnecessarily forced to put in late hours in front of the manager. Because of him.  Oh ya, Narayana Murthy wrote about this too.  But really, who cares?

  • So another rape happened in the capital again.  And as is now the norm, social media is abuzz with messages condemning the “bastards”, suggestions of castration and nomenclature of the city as the rape capital.  People have liked, shared and commented against it.  Politicians have made the right noises.  Newspapers have sold more by providing various types of analyses. Judiciary has shifted the blame to someone else.  The Police chastised again.  Pretty soon, it would be forgotten till the cycle repeats with the next one that’ll surely come up.  So far, nobody knows what ever happened to the guwahati one and seriously, is anyone really bothered?  I mean, really bothered?  Dabangg2 releases this week.  Yippee.

As you can see, forget hair, it’s us that need to be straightened out.. But we don’t have the balls for it.  

But oh well, guess it’s easier and surer that hair will be straightened.

So let’s go straighten some curly hair.

written for the Sunsilk Straight Hair Experiment.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Banquet on the Dead Book Review

Quite a character, ain't he..?

Bottom Line
One of the better books of the season, Sharath’s book is an engaging murder mystery that proves to be a page turner.  However weak characterization and loose ends in the story prevent it from becoming a true clutter-breaker that it could have become.

second time author, Sharath Komarraju

Rs 250 || 265 pages || Westland Publishers

Writers, authors and scriptwriters should sooo see, study and analyze the Dark Knight Trilogy to learn the art of creating something that is so bloody damn freaking awesome.  

Like millions, I too am a crazy raving fan of Christopher Nolan’s Bat and one common observation about the trilogy is that many people liked the second Dark Knight movie the most (which introduced us to that awesome piece of sheer magic, also known as the Joker)   Popular media has also validated that by rating this movie higher that the other two.

Have you ever wondered why?

Well, using methodology from a writers’ workshop that I’m part of, here’s why.

The beauty of ‘The Dark Knight’ is due to the rich characterization of the main characters, esp that of the Joker. Period.

If you remember the movie (how can you not, eh? J) the story wasn't really that great; but the characterization of the Joker was so powerful and you could almost smell him - he just got inside our heads  and just creeped us out as the mass murdering, sinister and unpredictable madman.  And it was the fitting nemesis to the ideals that Batman symbolized. The clash of these larger-than-life characters was what the movie was all about, with the character of the Joker getting etched into our collective conscience with his lines, quirks and mannerisms, which further added layers and layers to his tremendous character.

The other two movies in the trilogy however focused more on the story telling rather than the characterization – understandably so, as the story had to be told- in the first, it was the story of how the Bat began and the third was focused on how the legend ends.  But that story telling was at the expense of characterization – proof being that the characters of villains of the first and third movies pale in comparison to that of the Joker.

So in conclusion, people who want to build a story should focus on two things – the actual storytelling and the characterization; the richer the latter, the more memorable the overall story is and that’s what can take a not-so-great story into the realm of the unforgettable.

Now in this light, here’s my review to second time author, Sharath Komarraju’s ‘Banquet on the Dead’:

Sharath’s book is an engaging murder mystery set inside an ancestral house in Hanamkonda, a small town somewhere near Hyderabad.  The book traces how the seemingly complicated case is eventually solved by the cop-and-reformed-criminal-duo of Inspector Nagarajan and Hamid Pasha.  Kauveramma, a wealthy matriarch with a supposedly profound love for life, was found dead in the neglected family well.  The closed case was reopened due glaring inconsistencies - the old matriarch was terrified of water, there was no water in her lungs and the other relatives (also residents) of the sprawling house stood to profit hugely from her death - the case is thus reopened.

The story telling:

A perfect murder mystery is one where there is a strong plot, strong characters, multiple suspects and most importantly, an unpredictable and satisfying end.  

Sharath’s book has most of these elements. The book starts off directly with the murder, immediately brings in the two main protagonists and then each subsequent chapter introduces us to a new suspect and his version of what had happened on the day of the murder. What adds to the thrill is that everyone has a strong motive to kill the old lady. In the end, the duo weaves everybody’s stories together, linearly peels off inaccuracies to unearth accurate clues, weeds out the relevant nuggets of information from the irrelevant, dishes out and dismisses various theories and through sound reasoning and rational deduction, connects the dots to finally reveal the killer.

The strongest part about the book is Sharath’s writing – he’s a keen observer of life and his ability to recreate scenarios in simple language is what makes the book work. There aren’t too many jargons being used and the story telling is engaging – there were times when I wanted to know what happened next and kept me hooked – Sharath’s very strong talent of articulation, sometimes captivates the reader with its sheer simplicity.

I’d say the end is good (not great though, but good yes).  It answers the big questions, even though there were a few loose ends; but nevertheless the end does have a juicy element of surprise.

What could have been improved:

*Definitely the characterization -  Hamid Pasha’s various mannerisms added dimensions to his personality but there wasn’t any depth in Nagarajan’s character.  Considering each chapter of the book was basically the introduction of a new suspect, a huge opportunity for characterization was missed. This is what made this book merely just another good-read, when powerful characterization could have catapulted this book to a whole new level. Considering that Sharath ended the story with a promise of more stories with the Nagarajan+Hamid duo,   I feel Sharath missed an opportunity here to endear these characters to the readers.

*Too many characters – Due to weak characterization, many of the characters - particularly the female characters - appeared similar and thus were confusing to tell apart.

*Loose ends - In the end, you know why the killer killed her but the motive was not specifically mentioned there.  Of course, the motive was explored earlier, a few chapters back, however I would have wished that in the end, it was repeated again right after the killer was identified so that I know conclusively that “The motive behind the killing was…”.  Again, there is a glaring loose end here which reveals itself only after you get over the genuine surprise of the end.  Also, I felt that Sharath sometimes took liberties with the reasoning and few instances of reasoning were a tad too simplistic. But like I said earlier, the writing and the end still makes it work.

*Misdirection - Misdirection in murder novels keeps the readers clued in to the guessing game.  Sharath’s story was pretty much unidirectional and I felt that ample opportunities to misdirect were unexploited.  I never really got into that mode of wondering who the killer really is; I just let the story uncover itself.

 What next:

*Sequels –  Sharath ended the book with an obvious indication that Nagarajan and Hamid will return with the next case.  With more characterization, I’m sure readers would welcome it.

*Bollywood – Considering Talaash has suddenly made murder mysteries cool again, I wouldn’t be too surprised if this story finds its way to the big screen.  I’d suggest Sharath to approach the Malayalam movie industry, which is currently showing sudden openness to fresh new ideas.  And the milieu of this story fits it too.

*Marketing – I’m not sure if Sharath has focused too much on the marketing side of this book. Like I mentioned earlier, this is definitely one of the better books that’s come into the market. But awareness levels for this book are very low.  Even Sharath’s website seems to mention only his first book. The book doesn't seem to have a great social media presence either.  Crosswords-Indiranagar didn't know of the book but once they checked, they told me it was doing decently well in sales. Also, as seen below in the pic taken at the above bookstore, there were just two copies of the book tucked away on the bottom row in a lonely corner of the store. Think marketing for this book has to be enhanced.

*Also, I felt the title of the book was a little too heavy for its own good.  Sure, after reading the book, one may be able to find meaning in the title and the cover picture - but to a first timer, I think the title and the somber cover might just put her off.

So in conclusion, I guess Sharath should study Heath Ledger’s Joker to take notes on characterization but like Nolan, he can rest a proud man for bringing about a genuine good read, in the face of the increasing crap that is coming our way in the guise of Indian fiction.

Good job, Sharath!

(You can buy the book here.)

Monday, December 3, 2012

The First Citizen

Sundar Singh sheeshe me dekhar kyun nahi muskurata hai?
Kyuki usse dress-up karna nahi aata hai....

Man, this one’s been simmering in me for a while now… guess it took a contest to get it out of me….

Thanks to Shoppers’ Stop for this one.

In a billion strong nation like ours, it’s easy to be just another face in the crowd.  This post tells you how not to.

I’m something like a born again dresser…. you know, once upon a time, I was the kind of person for whom clothes was just an added liability and sure enough, my dressing sense (or rather, the lack of) made sure everyone around me felt the same way.  In fact, once when I dropped my sister to college, a guy gave me money thinking I was a tramp.  Till about two years back, when I did some serious soul searching and literally took things out of my cupboard (and burned them and then got myself a new wardrobe)

For a good part of my earlier life, I was stuck in a dead end job in a dead end village; and opportunities came in very few with even lesser frequency.  So it was very important for me to seize whatever job interview that came my way.  And I uncovered some profound insights about image management in that sleepy village – the kind that still makes sartorial sense even today in my metro.


You probably already know that the one thing that can make or break you in life is your first impression.  And you also know already that 70% of it is created by non verbal cues, especially your dressing.  And unlike the other 30% which is usually very difficult to change, that influential 70% can be easily changed, and it’s as easy as changing your socks. And sometimes, it is all about changing your socks - to match your trousers, that is.  But more on that later in this post.

OK, first things first – you know all those literature and feel good philosophy about ‘you are what you are inside’ and all that crap about ‘inner beauty’ – well, it’s just that –absolute crap.

The truth of the matter is – Clothes make the man, and like I’ve discovered along the way, it’s accessories that make the gentleman.

Sundar Singh sheeshe me dekhar kyun nahi muskurata hai?
Kyuki usse dress-up ki 'basics' samajh nahi aata hai....

So here goes - The secret of sartorial excellence is all about the details and there are tricks that can make you into a sartorial superstar. So let's start with the basics: 

  • The basics:  The first things that people notice are the shirt and pants though it’s the shirts that are more influential than pants in forming an opinion – so you could choose to repeat pants in a day or two but take care to have a good break before repeating the same shirt.  The funda of “matching clothes” is long by-gone and today you can wear anything with anything as long as it looks good in sum total.  What to wear can be decided on skin tone, body build and occasion.  To find your skin tone – warm, cool or neutral - check the inside of your wrist: if the veins appear greenish, it indicates you have yellow undertones and thus would have a warm skin tone.  Veins that appear to be more bluish indicate a cool skin tone.  If you can't determine your skin tone, then it means you fall under neutral skin tone.  Warm skin tones should lean towards warmer and richer colors like reds, oranges, yellows and dark browns. Cooler skin tones should lean towards cooler colors like purples, greens and blues and Neutral skin tones can wear almost any color (lucky buggers! J).  In body built, just remember that what you wear must fool the eyes of the beholder: if you have a big tummy, wear something, like a big pocket square, so that the eyes get cheated to focus onto your chest rather than the tummy.  If you’re healthy, use slim fitting dress, if you’re thin, use colors and patterns.  A great tip a friend gave me for occasion based dressing is to ask yourself, “What cud I wear today to be the most overdressed guy in the room?” Helps. and when in doubt, wear black.
  • Killer tip – Iron your clothes esp the shirt collars and cuffs and remember to polish your shoes into a sooper, dooper shine.  Even if you may happen to wear not-so-remarkable clothes, a polished pair of shiny black shoes usually opens a lotta doors.  And yes, always stand tall.

Sundar Singh sheeshe me dekhar kyun nahi muskurata hai?
Kyuki ab 'basics' aata hai, lekin ye "Accessories/Waxessories" kya hai....?

  • Accessories:   Get the above 'basics' right and people will acknowledge the man; but get the right accessories right and people will never forget him.  Accessories are the magic words for the man who wants his garb to do the talking.  Accessories can be as simple as an engraved tie-pin or as is the case with my friend RCB, can be as elaborate as a mean hot car to go with your suit.J  A single piece of a well selected accessory can elevate one's overall appearance and some of the popular accessories that can make magnificent a man are sunglasses, wallets, belts, watches, caps, scarfs, cufflinks and waistcoats.  Actually, everyone's got a favorite accessory - a favorite watch, a preferred belt, a treasured gold chain - the trick is to find what works for you and then build on it.  I realized that of late, I have this thing for waistcoats and found myself wearing it almost for every occasion.  Somehow it seemed to work for me so I got myself half a dozen of 'em.  Sure, I have people giving me the 'what's-wrong-with-you' look, but after a while, you know, when people give me that look, I get this  ego boosting kick. J
  • Hot tip - A simple way to start accessorizing is to have three pairs of glasses with colored sides, the colors being ones that go with the most common ones in your wardrobe. Once you get used to the compliments that come your way (trust me, they will),  you could start trying scarfs that coordinate with both the glasses and with your wardrobe.  In time, you'll start having fun and could get into experimenting with more accessories.    

Abb bhi Sundar Singh  sheeshe me dekhar kyun nahi muskurata hai?
Kyunki sab kuch hai, lekin phir bhi kuch toh missing hai....

  • The other stuff - This is the part where I asked my friends their tips in this matter.  An old friend of mine always used to say this very cool saying - "People seldom notice your old clothes if you wear a big smile; so I fake the damn smile".  Pretty soon, the big smile became a permanent fixture to his overall attire and today, I count him as one of the sharpest dressed men I know.  A few others believe in "Eat well, sleep well and slowly you'll start to look well too."  Working out also had a lot of takers.  Another extremely fashion conscious guy I know has this weird ritual of going to South Delhi once every six months - he believes that fashion in India first comes to South Delhi and only then does it permeate the rest of the country.  He's of the opinion that the latest fashion hits Bangalore only about a year after South Delhi.  Another gave gave me the 'matching matching' gyaan - you know, shoe color should match that of the belt, socks should match the pants and that the shirt and pants should contrast.... Then there's the guy who's like the Imelda Marcos of men - the guy believes that the most important accessory for men is shoes and has over 30 pairs of shoes (for a guy, that's huge!).
  • Cool tip - Invest in a full length mirror at home - its the first and most astute step towards a life long commitment to sartorial excellence. 

SS meets another SS.. ab Sundar Singh dress-up ka First Citizen hai.. 

Shopper’s Stop – I’ve been pretty much a Shopper’s Stop shopper man for a pretty long time now and besides the usual advantages of good collection, parking space, well located, yada, yada…, I love their two very yummy clearance sales, in Jan and July.  Another thing which I've seem there is that the salesmen at SS don’t really come into your space and they seem to appear only when you want them to.  I’d also recommend their ‘First Citizen’ loyalty program for two reasons - one thing’s that you get extra discounts on your purchase (I once bought a 10K Fossil watch for 7.5k. The card gave me another 1K discount - best purchase eva!) and the other is you get access to their clearance sales two -three days in advance.  

So that's my ensemble for the festive season - a mix of the basics, loaded with accessories and topped off with tips that I picked up from along the way - of course, once your love story with clothes starts, the festivities would be a life long season. 

me n my SS accessories...

We are all born equals.  It’s up to us to tilt that balance. 

So go ahead.  Start something new. With your self.

And be the guy with the gift of the garb.

Like Sundar Singh....

Kyunki ab sheesha bhi  Sundar Singh ko dekhke muskaraatha hai!.

with my latest fetish - glasses (yes, 17 of 'em) J

Shoppers Stop(www.shoppersstop.com) brought this one out of me.  With Indiblogger. 

Follow me here and you'll find from the other posts that the preachy tone adopted in this post surprised me as well (guess sobriety does that to you!)  

If you already follow me, then let's go get ourselves some beer.