Saturday, September 27, 2008


...from the weekend before.

There were three quizzes a couple of weekends back, spread across the expanses of 14th and 15th crosses in Malleswaram. It was my first quizzing Sunday in quite a while.

The first two were solo quizzes, a format I'm not fond of. The prelims for the Solus Rex, the KQA take on the Mastermind style of quizzing was up first. The questions were pretty good (you can check them out here). I did badly, it being early in the morning, and there being an annoyingly tight time limit on it.

The next one was better, but I didn't make the finals. It was the Lone Wolf, and it was as mad as usual Udupendra quizzes. We did lunch at Kodial (which I hope to write about later), a delightful, but vegetarian South Canara food joint near Sampige Road. Lunch was more fun than the Lone Wolf, though Udupendra will take credit for both.

The last quiz of the day was Persiflage, Arul's annual inflicting of pain, under the guise of a Lit Quiz. There was a college quiz in between, before this, but I'll skip that since we were stuffing our 'one vegetarian meals' down our faces then. When Arul told me in the morning that he hadn't made the questions for the book quiz yet, I thought he was joking. He wasn't. 6 questions into the finals, he gave up on the slides and whipped out his diary and let loose. I'd say he ruined WALTO's afternoon more than anyone else's. And I'm not saying that because I was cameo-ing for MQ.

Yes, I cameo-ed for MQ. We won (yay!). Majority of the credit goes to Cherian's inspired form - he took down most of Arul's pre-1950 questions without breaking a sweat. The rest of us took care of the more recent questions, which were few and far between. I wonder if and when he'll post the questions from that. Watch this space.

And I pocketed the hefty book-coupon.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Rant Against...

...whoever owns the rights to Satyajit Ray's films.


I was looking for a box set, or even a individual DVDs of the auteur's work. Partly because I wanted to see the films I've liked, and to catch up on the few I've missed out watching. And partly because I wanted to introduce the spouse to his stuff. She'd never seen any.


Across a good number of large format stores across Chennai and Bangalore, I couldn't find a single half-decent box-set of DVDs. There are only four films I saw on the DVD format, including one three-DVD boxset which had Ghaire Baire, Agantuk and Ganoshotru (which is not really anywhere near his good movies). None of the Apu, Goopy-Bagha or Feluda movies on DVD. Or even classics like Jalsaghar, Charulata or Teen Kanya. A few of them were available on VCD, though.

I find this extremely annoying. The only way I can buy a good quality DVD version of (only some of) his movies is on Amazon, in the US or UK, by paying top dollar (or pound). I wonder why they haven't been released on DVDs (individual or sets) in his own land? It's not as if there is a small market - I'm sure they will sell steadily and continously. Moser Baer has a pretty good set of a large of number of Hitchcock releases on remastered DVD - why don't they do Ray? If rights are a barrier, why doesn't his estate or the owner of the rights do something? After all, these have been remastered and released abroad.

There's also the possibility that these are widely available in the country, except not in Chennai or Bangalore - hard to believe, but possible. The next time I'm in Kolkata...

And I'm yet to bitch about the fact that the Agantuk DVD doesn't even play on the computer. As for the picture quality - it's worse than illegal handheld camera videos of theatrical releases.

Monday, September 22, 2008

And Then I Watched...


As advertised earlier, Jaideep Verma's debut commercial film hit the theatres last Friday. We went and watched it.

Unbiased opinion: It's a reasonably good film. A bunch of well executed characters, and good attention to detail. A bit longer than I'd have liked it though (it seemed to drag a bit after the interval). Perhaps some of the actors seemed to overdo their bit. But overall, a very watchable film as well as something a modern Indian urban dweller can relate to. With a couple of messages somewhere in there too.

Jaideep wrote me saying it has been doing badly so far. I'm hoping the concept of multiplexes will keep the film running for some time, because I'm sure it'll pick up steam, once word gets around.

Watch it if you can. Spread the word if you like it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Do Watch...

...Hulla. A dear friend, Jaideep, wrote and directed it. I'm hoping it's a great movie and will do well. Here's a small advertisement for it, from the makers:


This Friday, 19th of September, will see a small Hindi film being released called Hulla.

It took 7 years for the film to come to the screen after the first draft of its script in 2001. The film has no stars, dance floors, guns, gangsters, molls, sex scenes… not even a romantic angle. It is an everyday film about middle-class everyday people.

But it has a wit and humour that hopes to compensate for everything.

If you plan on seeing it, the filmmakers specifically request you to see it by the first weekend (20th, 21st September). Otherwise, it could just be that word-of-mouth does not get a chance to build up and the film is off theatres by the next weekend.

Hulla was screened at the Osian's Cine Fan film festival (Delhi) in July. The two screenings led to several mentions in the media; short excerpts are reproduced below.

"A well-crafted and marvelously acted movie, Hulla is both entertaining and disturbing."
- The Times of India

"…clever, engaging satire."
- Outlook

"…feels tingling-ly true-to-life."
- The Hindu Business Line

"Shorn of Bollywood embellishments…"
-Sakaal Times

"A new-age middle-of-the-road delight…"

This online review on a well-known film website is the very first (and till date, only) solo review it has had.

This is the film's recently constructed official Big Pictures website.

And this is the unofficial, politically incorrect blog that has been maintained for 18 months now. The real flavour and story behind the film is here

Please forward this to whoever you think may be interested.

Thanks for your time.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Chinese English... fun. As much, if not more than, Indian English.

Here are some of the pictures - some of them are from my April trip, while the others are from the August one.

"Please Do Not Stay" is far and away my favourite. This welcoming sign is at an Olympic experience center.

If anyone can explain this one to me, I'd be grateful. It's at the check-out counter in a hotel, on the stand with the feedback forms.

It's rare to see English signs, I just clicked them when I could. The "Be Careful" sign is the most common - I'm going to do a post on only these signs the next time I visit.

And of course, if you go to English language classes, you're going to get your hands tied to a white man's. What fun.

Of course, sometimes they automate it.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More For...

...the MAdisht's Kansa Society, after this previous contribution from my end. Further, the Slimes of India in Bangalore had something about someone saying they wanted airlines without kids, but I'm too lazy to go digging up old editions of the slimes, of all things.

Yes, I'm still procrastinating with the travel photographs. I admit it, ok?


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Is it just me...

...or did someone else notice that the Calvin strip that ran on 15th August this year was this one.

Yes, I know it's a re-run, and all. But even then, what are the odds?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

This may be...

...akin to cheating, but instead of posting more adventures from MY travels, here are two links.

1. Dave Barry on his Beijing Cab Ride.

2. Pictures of Beijing Fast Food.

Both via the same website, Marginal Revolution. How much lazier can I get?

Friday, September 05, 2008

I was away...

...and now I'm back.

There was a short holiday, and stuff. I'll post pics. Soon.