Monday, March 29, 2010

Farewell

I started this blog a long time ago and I do not remember why I did that. The first few posts were emails from my college on a pressing issue at that time and here, it will always remain on the internet. I started writing on this blog because at that time, I was enamoured with writing and I had a lot to say. I still do have a lot to say but I have lost the will and energy to do that anymore. Somewhere along the way, the ebbs and flows of life, I have accepted that I cannot continue writing. Or rather, I cannot write at this point in my life. Even though I have a lot to say. I feel it is pointless and I will concentrate on what I feel is a more natural expression of myself. Even though I haven't written much on this blog for a long time and even though, I promised myself to write more this year, I think I have reached to the conclusion that this blog is over for me.
I will continue writing but for myself and maybe someday, I will share that with the world.

With that note, I will say thank you and farewell.

FIN

PS. I just realised that my grammar and punctuations have gone totally haywire. :)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Some movies I saw in the past month

Sherlock Holmes - Rewriting Holes as an action hero seems so weird and American but I guess it is an enjoyable movie if you forget all your pleasant memories of reading Doyle's character. A fairly decent plot with some nice action sequences.

Broken Embraces - The Pedro Almodóvar movie continues in the same vein as Volver. A soap opera-ish drama about a writer and his tragic love affair with the mistress of a rich, old man. A very well made film and entertaining for a little bit. And Penelope still cannot act. She should really consider some advanced acting classes that will teach her to add more dimensions to her character than to be an attractive lover/mistress. I think Pedro accepts this fact when the Mateo character casts her as the leading lady in his film (this is a film within a film) mainly because he is enamoured with her. So, Pedro, are you planning on doing an RGV? :)

An Education - It revolves around a school girl who has a whirlwind romance with a silver tongued older man who turns out to be married and she decides to go back to school and to Oxford. Some really nice performances by Alfred Molina and Rosamund Pike (who will probably will not get the credit she deserves). The film itself is so deceptively conservative that it is bourgeois.

Surrogates - Poor Sci-fi. Nothing makes sense in this movie and I am not even sure why they chose to make it. Seems like a poor allegory for the fact that people are spending more time online/playing games on the computer than sniffing the polluted air outside.

Avatar - Eye candy.

Law Abiding Citizen - Another Hollywood action film about a man who decides to take on the corrupt justice system and cure it by killing all those he considers rotten. Could have been interesting but it seemed to run out of new ways of killing people and the end was abrupt and unexpected.

There were more movies I saw on the in-flight entertainment system. I cannot seem to recall which ones I saw. I was probably half-asleep through most of them anyway. :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The iPad

It's called an iPad and "iTampons" is trending on twitter right now. Looks like an enlarged iPod touch.

Important things to note:

* It does not have an USB port or any other port other its own, which means you need to buy an _adapter_ to connect a USB device.

* Priced at $499 for the basest model which comes without 3G. With 3G, it is $630 and remember, this is AT&T. What this means is that you do not have the option to use a different service provider. For the two weeks that I have been on the AT&T network, I can tell you that it is, without a doubt, the _worst_ network I have seen anywhere. Forget about taking calls indoors anywhere. You want any voice clarity, you have to go outside! Of course, this is voice data and not 3G but I would assume that it would be just as bad. And what about other countries? So, if I take it back to India, the only way I can use the internet is to connect to a wifi network? No way I can use my USB modem? Will my USB modem even work if I buy the USB adapter and connect it to the iPad via that? I would doubt it. For $630, you can get yourselves a really good, powerful laptop that will allow you to do lots more than the iPad ever will.

* Still no flash. So, basically, if you want to watch videos online, it is either youtube or vimeo or any other html5 compliant website. No Daily Show for me. :(
Importantly, you cannot play any free flash games, ie, no FarmVille. :(

* What about battery life? Apple products have some of the worst battery life in any electronics. There is no reason why they should have such a pathetic battery life but they do and for some reason people forget that for a mobile device to be truly mobile, you shouldn't have to carry your charger every where you go.

* Lots of comparisons with Kindle. With the Kindle DX selling at $489, it was inevitable. But remember the DX comes with 3G support! So, it is competing with the iPad that is at $630! The Kindle is definitely overpriced but that will change very soon. I do not think they can sustain that price with the iPad deceptively marketing itself as something priced close to it. Kindle DX's battery life is supposed to be a week, which is impressive. Of course, Kindle is an e-book reader and is designed to be so whereas the iPad looks like it is designed to be.. actually, I have no clue as to what it is designed to be.

As a compulsive email checker on my mobile phone, I know how useful it is to have a device that allows you to surf the net but touchscreen devices are always limited and if you want to something which will involve a little bit of typing, a touchscreen device is a pain in the ass. There is no way you can type on a touchscreen as fast as a physical keyboard. Also, there is no way you can _type_ in a moving vehicle. Even a phone with a numberpad and predictive text is better for typing while in a vehicle than a touchscreen! So, yes, I am not convinced that the iPad is really worth the money. I believe a nice netbook, which is priced around $300, will do the job and much more than an iPad.

Nothing revolutionary, IMO. Just an overpriced toy.

Full disclosure: I own an iPod, which I think is a very good music player and a portable hard disk. I used a MacBook for over an year and would prefer it to a Windows laptop anyday.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Marketing

Marketing, I think, is a tricky business. Advertisements have been a standard approach to the problem of notifying potential customers about a product but over time, consumers tend to play down hype created by the ad and stop believing the claims that the ad might make about the product. Some products are needed and consumed by almost everyone, like soaps but quite a lot of technology products are not necessary and the job of the marketing folks is to get people to buy something they may not need. For example, who the hell needs an overpriced phone that looks 'beautiful'? All I want is something that I can use to call and check email on occasionally. Admittedly, the iPhone has brought better user experience to the mobile phone users and has made other phone companies sit up and fix their stupid phone softwares, but one cannot argue that paying 600 dollars for a phone is a little outrageous, unless it has superpowers.

Now, Apple is coming up with a new device. It is top secret and nobody is supposed to know about but of course, everybody seems to know that it is coming and that it is going to be a tablet PC. Quite frankly, the idea of a tablet PC is somehow beyond me. Even if it is an amazing computer, the ergonomics of the device (ie, being a touch screen device) will make it very hard to use (people are going to start going to the doctor because now they have tendinitis in their neck!). Of course, one can hope that Apple will make a revolutionary product that will actually be kind on your splenius but given the nature of the idea of netbooks itself, I would doubt that it would be possible.

So here is a product that is going to be pain in the neck, big enough to make it impossible to carry around in your pocket and will probably burn a hole in it too and how the hell do you market it?

Simple. You leak a story that Steve Jobs thinks it is the best thing after sliced bread! And one can expect all the Steve Jobs fanboys (and girls) will rush to get that overpriced slab of touchscreen goodness and help make Jobs richer than he already is. I am sure that the netbooks will disappear in a year or two and Jobs will be searching for the next shitty piece of overpriced junk to offload onto the masses. It is forseeable that one day Steve will find a market for a product that he produces everyday in his own house and call it iShit.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Back to blogging...

I just realised that it has been a while since I last blogged. A combination of work glut and laziness has worked its way into making this blog inactive. I should ideally get back to writing, which is why I vow to write a post once per week!

Here are pictures from the Fearless Karnataka protest that happened in Bangalore a while ago. They were shot on film (Kodak TMax 400) with a Nikon FM2n.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A word on slumdog.

I just came back from a dinner with a friend who had extremely strong views against the movie. I was not surprised. None of the people I interact seem to like this movie, except for my American cousin who thinks it is great. Universally derided, more so for the cluster of BAFTA and Oscar nominations that it has garnered. Does it really deserve the accolades that it has been showered with? I think the unanimous answer is no, it doesn't. Does it matter? Not to me.
The Oscars or the BAFTA have never been a good adjucator of excellence. At best, they are a judge of popularity. But considering this is one of the very few India-themed movies that make it up on the popularity charts of western world, it is bit of a concern that it peddles an unrealistic and half-baked image of India to the imagination of the world. Valid point and a lot of people have opined on this aspect.

My friend from the dinner was particularly miffed at the sudden development of American accent in all the main characters as they grew up in the movie. While the accent of Jamal could be possibly explained as something he picked up at the call centre but what about the rest?
I really think that the reason for this was quite deliberate. The Indian accent is not a very well received one in the US. Any character with an Indian accent in the American mass media is depicted negatively, quite often as a comical character. The American audience is tuned to laugh whenever they hear the Indian accent. It is very similar to how they use German accent to signify villainy.
'Heroes' is a very strong example for me. There is one recurring Indian character in the series who is supposed to have been brought up in India but speaks with an American accent. Also, when he converses with his family, he speaks to them in (accented) English and as weird it might seem, they (his father and mother) also speak English with an American accent. There are Japanese characters in the series who speak with a pronounced Japanese accent. Which is why I think the choice of the accent in the series is very calculated and deliberate. Hollywood has deemed that it cannot portray a positive, intelligent character with an Indian accent. If they do, they might lose some easy ways to get laughs. I remember making this point in the comments of some American blog that deals with issues of race but was completely ignored.
This negative connotation of the Indian accent is the reason why, in spite of the obvious and somewhat grating dissonance with reality, the grown up characters of Jamal, Latika and Jamal's brother speak with an American accent. For me, this shows that Hollywood is well aware of the stereotypes it creates and knows how well to use them. It is a Hollywood film made for the American audience, and I guess we should look at it as such. It provides no insight into India besides reiterating the conception of the country as the land of the Taj Mahal and poverty. There is a lot of injustice in this country - class, caste, religion, etc and this movie deals with none of them.

PS. Another film that can be analysed similarly is "Valkyrie". I haven't seen it but from the trailer one can see that all the guys who are depicted as plotting the assassination of Hitler have British or American accents, even though the characters are German...

UPDATE: Russell Peters makes it so obvious...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The silence

The attacks in Mumbai the last week have been unprecedented and stunning. I got an email forward from a friend with the statement purportedly sent by those responsible ("Deccan Mujahideen") which talked about justice for Indian Muslims. I think the best explanation of this nonsensical idea is conveyed by John Oliver on The Daily Show (video below).



The irony is that a sensible perspective comes from a comedy show in a distant land. Of course, Jon Stewart is an anomaly even in the US, a fact that he indirectly refers to in the beginning of this video.

Of course, I was one of the millions who watched the news channels and felt sick about the senselessness of the attacks and the people they killed. But I also had incredible trouble watching the news channels, for not only the gore that they showed but also for the narrow mindedness and stupidity of the news media. What kind of idiot will show the positions of the commandos on live television? It was outrageous! Do these guys have any braincells? Or they just so pumped up on adrenalin and are such parasites that they will do _anything_ for getting something unique aka exclusive. At that point, I turned off the TV, though I did sporadically turn it on to be up to date on the happenings.

I was also disgusted at the amount of time spent on the missing journalist. Nearly 200 people are dead but they spend so much time on this one person just because she is a journalist? Where the fuck is the 'humility' that is supposed to be 'Indian Culture'?

I just read a very sensible perspective written by Gnani Sankaran here. But people like him seem to be quite scarce. He even questions the logic behind three top cops traveling together in the same vehicle. I would actually go further and say that people like the head of the ATS should not have been moving around with terrorists on the loose. I thought it was really stupid of Mr Hemant Karkare. Brave perhaps but stupid, nonetheless.

In the midst of all this, we had Mr Advani talking about the need for stricter laws to control terrorism. If that is his solution, I wonder in which India he lives in. Stricter laws have never been a deterrent for crime anywhere in the world and least of all in India. If that were the case, dowry deaths would be non-existent by this time. Untouchability would have been a thing of the past. His unimaginative and primitive mind can only think of draconian laws that will inevitably be used to harass the minorities and the powerless. As John Oliver says in the above video, "when you're a bankrupt ideology pursuing a bankrupt strategy, the only move you've got is the dick one."

The violence is finally over but the consequences of their actions and the possibilities scare me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Shatru Buddhi Vinashaya



I am not sure how to react to this ad but I was speechless when I saw it. Can one call it racism? Perhaps not but apart from the difference in the colour of the skin (or race, in genetic terms), everything else is the same. If the depiction of the african tribes in Pirates of the Caribbean was racist, then what do we call the depiction of tribals in Indian cinema and advertisements?



India shining, indeed...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Priorities...

In mangalore, in a bus. Couple of girls walking by the roadside. Head in front of me turns. I smile. Seconds later. Old building passes by. My head turns. Seconds later, i smile again.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Witch hunt

I have an image in mind. If I were a cartoonist, I would draw it. But I am not and which is why I would have to describe it.

Consider an angry mob of people who are angry because there is a crisis and they are being asked to pay for the repairs. They are gathered around the house of the man whose bad decisions has forced the situation on them. He stands on the balcony out of their reach and says to them, "I am not a witch. I am also hit by this disaster. Look, I am being forced to sell my pricey art collection to survive".

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PS. I am not suggesting that the CEO of Lehmann Brothers it to blame for the financial crisis. Neither am I suggesting that the crisis was the doing of one man or a small group of rich men at the top, though it looks likely that they knew about the impending doom and awarded themselves the crazy bonuses last year.

For those who do not realise what I am talking about, check Sridala's blog, specifically these three posts and the comments on them.

PPS. I apologise for the extremely cliched analogy..

PPPS. An appropriate cartoon.

The next president of the United States

A long time ago, I supported this guy. At that time, he wasn't so hot but things turned around for him and he is now just an election away from the presidency.

But consider how much more fun it would be if this person became the president..



Boy, what a disaster of an interview.. She clearly has no idea what she is talking about. How delightful?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Quite simply, the worst example of patronisation and sexism by members of my alma mater.

I wonder who are these morons who vomited this awfulness.

Abi has aggregated the reactions here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A rant...

Lately, I have been noticing how, almost always, it is a white man who is the centre of any Hollywood movie. Of course, there are those that scream at you that they are about a White Man, like movie titles like "Bill" or "Good Will Hunting" or "Run fatboy, run" which makes them easier to avoid. But even movies like 'Laurel Canyon' which would pass The Bechdel Test, by the way, somehow end with placing the white man at the centre...

From now on, I would prefer to watch movies that do not do that. Which means more of Asian cinema. Not Bollywood, though.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Seppuku

Seppuku's narrative style is very similar to that of Rashoman, in that the main plot is revealed in the words of characters in the story and give different perspectives. But where Rashoman uses the differing versions of the same story, Seppuku uses different stories as witnessed by two characters.

The movie requires a little knowledge about the samurai culture. You can read the wikipedia entry on seppuku (hara-kiri) which would give you some idea of what goes on in the film. The samurai code of honour is quite well known, I guess, and it plays an important part both in their culture and in this film.

The samurais were prosperous when Japan was a basically ruled by numerous feudal lords (daimyo) and there were numerous wars and clashes in Japan where the samurais came in very handy.

The film is set in the 17th century when Japan had been more or less unified. A time of peace, as the film observes. For people whose lives depended on war, this was disastrous. Dialogues such as "But in a world of peace there is no hope" and "But in such times of peace, all was in vain" seem to be cynical on the surface but as the character played by Tatsuya Nakadai says, "But in times of peace, the honored warrior is no longer in demand."

If you think about it, all samurai films you have ever watched have had some kind of war or major conflict in the plot. And the emphasis is on the action and the samurai is dignified by being elevated to a super-human status in combat. Here you see a more human side of the samurai. You see what happens when a samurai is unemployed and poor and what choices he makes in times of crisis.

Nakadai is an amazing actor and he does justice to this role of a veteran samurai who has been through a lot and he conveys the extreme sadness and anger through his intense eyes like no one else can. He portrays a man who has lost everything and who wants a bit of revenge. Without him, this film might not have been so great. He really carries the film through with his performance and he looks every bit the weathered father as well as the skilled samurai that he plays.

But what I liked more about the film was its cinematography. Black and white film is such a beautiful medium but to use it well requires real skill and even though, the cinematographic technique is pretty traditional in this film, it is used very effectively.



But I am usually very partial to cinematography. There is no aspect of this movie that I think was less than perfect. Kobayashi's direction is, as usual, brilliant. The background score is evocative of the situation. I also liked the fact that the dialogues were pithy. Nothing in excess. Measured and just right.

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PS. Alok calls it the best samurai movie.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sickness..

I hate being sick. Perhaps, the main reason is because I was always a sick kid. I would get the Cold on the slightest pretext and would have to be doped with cetirizine and nasal drops so as to be able to function normally. This was until I got surgery done on my nose to correct my nasal septum. For the medically challenged, it might suffice to know that I was afflicted with an inherited congenitive disability (if I may call that) that needed surgery that could only be performed at an adult age.

Anyway, I was down with a viral the whole of last week and it seems like the viral is gone but since it affected my immune system, I still have a cold...

I stayed at home the whole week, resting and trying to think about what to do next. My travel plans were halted because of heavy rains in the hills and the coast. I postponed the plans for the rest of the trip to the end of september or october, perhaps. I watched a lot of crappy movies, including ones like Transporter and Lucky Number Slevin. I was really disappointed with Hellboy 2. I also watched a much talked about Korean movie, Oldboy, which though promised a lot in the beginning but just degraded into a simple, and quite implausible, revenge story. One movie that I really liked was Seppuku, featuring one of my favourite actors. I will write a review sometime later today.

Other plans include trying to shoot daily and perhaps, pick up some theme that I can do atleast once a week. Of course, this all needs a level of discipline that I have rarely displayed...

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