Friday, December 05, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
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
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...
Monday, October 20, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
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".
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.
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
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.
Posted by Madhat at 8/25/2008 01:06:00 AM
Thursday, August 21, 2008
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.
PS. Alok calls it the best samurai movie.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
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...
Posted by Madhat at 8/17/2008 11:14:00 AM
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Mostly because it is raining non-stop from Madikere onwards. Interestingly, there was not a drop of rain on the way back from Kushalnagar. It was truly frustrating to be in one of the most beautiful places in south india and not being able to whip out my camera and capture a part of what I saw.
More pictures here:
Monday, August 04, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
You will absolutely love this movie and this song...
It is really a simple story about two people, their loneliness and their friendship. And, of course, music.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
A nice mix. To my friends, it is well known that I detest fusion but it is usually fusion of Indian classical and Western classical that I hate. Mainly because it sounds discordant to me. I get these mixed reactions to the different forms of music and then when they are mixed together, I do not know which way to swing... :)
In this video, I liked the sound of the violin more than the DJ's sounds in the background and thankfully, it is in the background, giving it a nice feel overall
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
And I already miss my Macbook Pro. Well, technically, it was never mine but as along as I was in the company, it was as good as mine and I have gotten so used to the amazing interface, particularly the two fingered scroll or the two fingered right click on the touchpad. So used to it that I keep doing it on the laptop that I am working on now, which is not a MAC and which has Vista! This being my first experience with the Vista, I can honestly say, "Holy crap!". Though it is not holy, unless we find out that the Pope has endorsed the Vista as the God Machine.
The next machine that I buy will definitely be a MAC.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Oh well, here it finally is. A tryst with destiny, I guess. But one that I did not envisage would happen when I joined, though in four months I was thinking of leaving. That was over 18 months ago...
Quite frankly, my present company is perhaps the best place for a techie in Bangalore. And it was just not good enough for me.
So long, Google.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
** drool **
I have been saving up to buy a D300. With D700 on the way, I am thinking it is time to buy a lottery ticket. At $3000, it is way above my purchasing power. :`(
Monday, June 30, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Italy Vs Spain
Bah! Two hours of my life that is never coming back. I knew 10 minutes into the game that this will be either an 1-0 finish or a penalty shootout. It was the later, though I have to say that Spain was the only team that looked like it wanted to score. Typical Italian game. Defend like mad and try to hit a goal on counter.
Though I was cheering for Spain throughout the match, I supported Buffon during the penalty shootout. I think he is one of the greatest goalies ever...
Germany Vs Turkey - Germany
Russia Vs Spain - Russia
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Over the weekend, I watched a couple of movies. First was a delightful new movie that I have been waiting for quite some time - Michel Gondry's "Be kind, rewind" and the other was a shallow shell of a movie based on the premise that if you throw in a few big names, you can get away with anything and still make money, "Sarkar Raj".
First let me talk a little about Sarkar Raj. The reason I went to this movie was because me and my brother-in-law had nothing better to do on a saturday morning (my sister was writing an exam that day) and we ended up buying tickets for this movie. Firstly, I was shocked by the cost of a ticket (200 for a morning show, arguably on a weekend) and secondly, I was more shocked to see the theatre full! No wonder the multiplexes are raking in tons of money. The movie itself was ridiculous. An insane plot, bad screenplay and poor acting was just expected but what was incredible was the fact that the character who is shown in good light is one who says things like, "If he doesn't agree to my views and stands in my way, I will kill him". Intolerance seems to be the order of the day and people seem to like watching such movies about a "good man" who does not like being told he is wrong. Yikes, that was a ghastly movie and I hope the Bachchan family popularity dies a quick death. I think they are far worse than SRK, who is quite unhypocritical about what he does.
Be kind, rewind is a fun film. How can it not be with Jack Black in it? But it is also a very well written script that is a brilliant commentary on Hollywood and the movie business. The premise of the movie is absurd. Jerry, played by Jack Black, gets magnetised after a botched attempt to wreck a transformer and erases all the tapes of the video store owned by Fletcher (Danny Glover) and where Mike (Mos Def) works. After that, they have to recreate all the films that they have destroyed in order to satisfy their customers. Watch the trailer below:
The first movie that they re-shoot is Ghostbusters, which is one of the iconic film of popular cinema. They create the effects using relatively simple methods, like turning on the negative switch to make it look like night (day-for-night would perhaps have been too exotic), creating small figures and shooting them close up but making them look in the actual film. We see this happen over and over again, as they very creatively reinvent science fiction films like RoboCop, Men In Black, King Kong, 2001: A space odyssey. I would say it is a commentary on the illusionary nature of films and how visual effects can be created using simple, inexpensive methods. Camera is a tool for creating illusions, contrary to the belief that something captured by film would have be real.
I also think the film comments on the racial politics that exist in Hollywood. Since they reshoot movies already created by Hollywood, Jerry is inevitably the star of all the movies because he is the white guy and this is subtly pointed out when Mike becomes jealous of Jerry's stardom. It is a well known fact that in early Hollywood movies, asian characters were played by white guys because "asians were too asian to play asian". And in the film, the second movie that they shoot is Rush Hour 2 and Jerry plays the part of Jackie Chan.
Race does play a major part in the film since three of the four major characters are non-white and Jerry, the white guy is more of a goofy character than the 'hero', a character stereotype that is usually played by a black guy (example, pick any movie of Eddie Murphy). One of the customers of the store is a white woman who likes to see Driving Miss Daisy and later requests that movie to be sweded, ie, remade, which is a movie about how an old white lady teaches a Black man to read and write, a theme that Hollywood seems to be very fond of and something that MAD TV brilliantly parodied in this skit.
Very soon, the team of two guys is joined by Alma, an hispanic woman whose role in the movie in the movie is not just limited to being a prop. Her quick thinking and fast talking gets them out of trouble a couple of times and she has a sense of humour too. Quite unlike roles given to women in Hollywood movies. So, we have two black characters, one white guy and an hispanic woman and that's where the racial representations ends. Of course, you cannot represent every race in a movie but can it be looked as a analogy to the way the rest of the races, except for perhaps the chinese, are rarely represented in Hollywood movies anyway?
The store is a video store which is kind of archaic in this day and age. The title asks the audience to 'rewind'. Fletcher is advised by his friends to adapt to the market and give the people what they want. He then researches the 'market', particularly staking the shop(s) of what seems to be a big video rental chain and he makes a lot of observations: "limited choices, lots of copies, digital video, easily recognisable uniforms for the employees, no specific knowledge required", etc, etc. This throw back to a previous era is mirrored by another subject of the documentary they make, Fats Waller, who Fletcher claims was born in the same building as the video store. In the end, Mike with the help of the community create a documentary on Fats that they screen on the day the building gets torn down.
Film technology has evolved over the years. For a long time, VHS ruled the roost till digital video came along and then digital video improved manifold with the introduction of DVDs. Now, it is time for DVDs to die, though that it still a while away. Fats lived merrily but died an early death in a train. The video store lasts 90 minutes. For a lot of us, video seems to be an archaic technology but it lasted much, much longer than any of the digital technologies that are prevalent right now. This is quite similar to film making technologies. Celluloid is probably the oldest and still the most widely used medium of film making. But as the digital technologies get better and better, making film making cheaper, more efficient and a lot more accessible to people but it comes with its own problems - different and varying formats, lack of standards, lots of choices making it tougher to make a choice without a proper technical know-how, etc, etc. This film kind of just hints at these problems though it does not deal with it in any great detail.
The film also deals with the legal idea of 'copyright'. The films that Mike and Jerry remake literally gets crushed through legal action. There has been a lot of debate about what constitutes violation of copyright. Are creative reenactments, reediting (like the mashup I blogged about in my last post) violations of copyright? It is big debate and one that is not likely to be resolved very soon. Till then, creativity will be crushed by the movie companies citing copyright violations.
There are a lot of other things that I wanted to write about but I guess this review has already become very long and if you really are reading this line, which I doubt very much, I will let you know that I am stopping here. Watch the film and if you want to discuss more, the comments section of this post is always open...
Friday, June 20, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
It is the phase in my life that I turn to new things and learn something new. Right now, I am excited about this new technology that lets you create flash applications more or less programmatically. It is a called Flex, a technology created by Adobe and one that is really cool indeed.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
There is a flickr that I am a member of that is basically a bunch of photography enthusiasts from Bangalore who try to shoot regularly. I have been a member of this group for a few months and so far, have been on a few expeditions with them, made a few friends and have learnt a lot.
I fancy myself as a photographer but sometimes am brought to earth when I have conversations like these -
[Mom calls up]
Mom: I saw the pictures of Huliappa (my nephew).
Me [expecting appreciations of my abilities] (eagerly): and...
Mom: Ella shake aagabittaithalla? One of them is nice but the rest have been ruined...
Me [bubble bursting and too stunned to say anything]: ...
Mom: You are not taking pictures properly. You should learn from your Dad.
Me [finally something to say]: So, I was thinking of coming over next month. (I like to give them hope :)
I also fancy myself as a trekker. I like to walk and when everybody took the bicycle in the recent company offsite on an island resort, I preferred to walk all over the island carrying my camera and bag with all the accessories (I took 1500 pictures in four days and I am still in the process of processing them and uploading them to flickr). So, when Dr Vivek posted an invitation to trek to the Skandagiri peak, supposedly a two hour trek to the top on a full moon night, I thought to myself, 'why not?'. Of course, I knew that I would be the slow one but I figured I will make it because after all, it is a two hour trek... Peanuts, I thought for a walker like me... Boy, how wrong was I.
The day of the trek, I picked up the sleeping bags from Venky (another BWS member), made arrangements with BOSS who graciously offered a ride in his car. The plan was to meet at BOSS's place at 7 pm and leave for Skandagiri from his place. I got there in time and was introduced to Sreelesh and Deepa, and Megha, BOSS's wife, who were also coming with us. We met the rest of the gang (and the gang was huge - 15 people) near GKVK college near Yelahanka and had dinner in a nearby place and started off from there.
Skandagiri in a small hill near Chikkaballapura which is on the Hyderabad road. Once you reach the town, you take a left turn and follow a narrow road toward Papagni mata which is at the bottom of the hill. Dr Vivek had made arrangements for a guide and he seeked him out. I guess a guide was needed since none of us had been there before and internet had not been helpful. Kempanna, the guide, walked up to me and asked me whether I had trekked before but I had the distinct feeling that he was sizing me up and had made a judgement, perhaps the right one, about my abilities. My mental thought was, "this is not a good sign..."
The trek up the hill is quite steep and you have to literally climb rocks. The moon was full and there was no need for a torch was I was burdened by two sleeping bags in my hand, which was thankfully taken away from me. I was almost immediately left behind but I am used to trekking alone and I would have still climbed without company but Dr Vivek and later, Peevee, kept me company. It was a pretty long trek and since we could not see the top, we were always guessing where the top was and it seemed to be further and further away. I would stop to catch my breath, sit to rest my tiring limbs and then walk a bit more, which is usually how I trek. But this was a steep climb and it reminded me of the time we (me and my college friends) trekked up Chembri peak in wayanad, though that was in the daytime and when it was raining!
Midway through the trek, my legs started cramping and I slowed down even more. Thankfully, Peevee was with me and he had water that I desperately needed. But it also meant that I slowed down a lot more. I would take 5-10 steps and stop. And this went on for some time. My legs completely cramped when I came to last bit of the trek where Dr Vivek, Kempanna and Sivu were waiting for us. I sat down for a while and then I pushed on because I just wanted to be at the top and the top seemed so much closer (though this had been a recurring apparition). Dr Vivek is a seasoned trekker and did not seem to have even broken a sweat while I was there trying to push my legs to do things that they did not want to do and if they had minds, there would have been a internal revolution of the proletariat! But I finally made it and that too just in time to enjoy the bonfire that the guys started over there. It was a relief for the cold winds that was now beginning to matter since I had stopped walking. The guys pitched the tents and I finally got to rest inside.
In the morning, people in the tent left to see the sunrise but I stayed inside, too tired to go out. When I finally came out of the tent, the sun was up and the the top was covered in fog. After packing the bags, we climbed down. The climb down was far easier and there were no mishaps... After reaching the bottom, it was a relief to sit in BOSS's car and rest all the way back to Bangalore...
It was a photography trip but I hardly took any pictures. But I have no regrets. It was a fun trek, I got to meet Dr Vivek (been a fan of his work for quite some time) and got to know Peevee's age (I was surprised that he was that old) and I renewed my commitment to lose some weight. :)
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
This is what Steve Waugh wrote in his column titled "A case of cultural differences" today in The Hindu.
Indians too would be finding Australia’s aggression and desperation on the field way beyond what’s acceptable. But we play hard from the time we are youngsters in the backyard, and even our politicians go hammer and tongs at each other on television!
And this is a news item on CNN IBN...
The Indians argue that "monkey" is not racially insulting in their country. Hogg is understood to have said, "I'm looking forward to running through you bastards," and the Indians claim "bastard" is deeply offensive in their culture.
Seems like the relationship between the two teams is at rock bottom these days...
Monday, January 07, 2008
2007 was a year of new beginnings and heartbreaks for me. A lot of things happened that were partly my own creations and partly circumstantial. Some things did not work out but I have since moved on to other things that I feel are going right so far. I traveled for the first time out of India and had a wonderful time visiting new places and making new friends. I bought a DSLR, something that I has been on my wishlist for a long time and have used it quite often to my satisfaction.
It was a great travel year for me and here are the places I visited in chronological order:
Half Moon Bay:
Muir Woods and Fisherman's Wharf (San Francisco):
New York City:
Karwar (a bike trip):
Honey Valley, Coorg: