Infinity in the Palm of My Hand

Monday, June 28, 2004


I was disappointed with Dev, and it wasn't because I wanted candy floss or because I wanted something jingoistic. I was disappointed because it was a lot less thought and emotion provoking than I had expected it to be.

Dev is definitely an above average movie. It deals with an important issue, asks a very important question, is brutally frank and does try to bring out the truth without allowing itself to slide into atrociousness (which can be seen in many "fact based" Bollywood movies), and I appreciate the courage, the conviction and the resourcefulness needed to do that. But is Dev a great movie, a movie that excites you, engrosses you, and a movie that stays with you, atleast for some time after it has ended? No.

Yes, the riot sequence is wonderfully depicted and along with Amtiabh Bachchan's and Om Puri's performances, is enough to make the movie worth watching. But Dev, as a movie, is crippled by its many flaws. The second half of the movie never really grips you, the pace slackens, the script becomes loose and quite a few dialogues, characterisations and sequences are too theatrical and cliched to bear any value. The arguments we hear in Dev have been said before. Now this is not really a flaw, but only as long as you are still able to emotionally and mentally involve the viewer through those arguments. Tamas, Ardha Satya, Aakrosh and Drohkaal (all Nihalani films) had, at their core, arguments which you had heard before, but they still managed to engage the viewer's heart and mind from start to finish and that is what made them great movies. But Dev is not really able to accomplish the same, and that is its main failure as a movie.

> Amit wrote: The main
> reason why movies based on real-life horrific
> incidents succeed is that people somehow like to see
> a dreamy and idealistic end, even when everybody in
> the theatre knows it is largely impractical. Dev
> doesn't give them that...

Yes, but so didn't Chandni Bar. In fact, Chandni Bar had an ending that was more on the opoosite side of the spectrum from a dreamy, idealistic ending than Dev. Dev atleast leaves you with the hope that Fardeen Khan's character will be able to bring an idealistic ending to the whole issue somewhere in the future. Chandni Bar didn't even give you that, it leaves you with the feeling that an idealistic ending was not possible at all, not even in the distant future. And Chandni Bar's climax still gripped the viewer. In Chandni Bar, even though you know Tabu's son is going to become a murderer, you are still shocked when he actually does it. In Dev, the climax does not unsettle you in any way. Why? Simply because Chandni Bar's climax was, cinematically, a lot more accomplished than Dev's climax. It was tighter and more rivetting and that is why it worked.

> Amit wrote: Fardeen Khan's
> brazen face in fact matches his initial cold-hearted
> misled youth character.

Yes, but his dialogue delivery and dramatics are shallow and unconvincing and that makes his acting pretty mediocre.

Also, Kareena's "acting" grates on the nerves, as usual.

Overall, Dev is worth watching, but not worth remembering.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

This is too short and too vague to be considered a review...

Fahrenheit 9/11 is not a great is an above average documentary, but by no means a significant piece of cinema, and definitely not deserving of the Best Film award it received at Cannes. What it is for sure is a skilled and highly strategic political propaganda piece laden with pretty effective artillery.

Moore sticks to his time tested formula of hammering a credulous audience with a continous (and hence less susceptible to argumentation) flow of facts, dealing blow after blow of piercing (but sometimes distorted) evidence with the use of some clever but contestable editing. He does bring out some new facts, but most of what he says is a rehash of what should already be known to people who've not restricted their information flow to what is spewed by Fox and CNN. Also, like most (skewed) propaganda films, this one too falls prey to a black and white oversimplification. Moore manages to reduce inherent flaws in American foreign policy over decades to a dogmatic "Bush is evil" diatribe. What also disappoints is Moore's own hypocrisy (hear the "sleeping on French linen" jab he takes at Bush). Also, laughing at Bush's stupidity has, well, become pretty boring by now...the movie hardly has any intelligent humour.

After half an hour, you can pretty much predict how the movie is going to be the rest of the way and from then on its just a matter of seeing your predictions take shape on the screen...there are no compelling revelations, no powerful punches, nothing at all that you wouldn't expect, and nothing at all that would really make you sit back and think. I came out without any change of opinion or emotion and with absolutely no food for thought. And that is why the right audience for this movie is only those who are ignorant of the ways of the Bush administration and family. Given this right audience, yes, the movie is important and despite its failings, the tremendous conviction it has in its aim and the sufficient competence it has in its content are enough to both hold the viewer's interest and make a very credible case for Bush's removal. The movie is therefore a worthy effort in this election year. But for me, it doesn't really add up to much.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Mayu revised

If Mayu was a character on Star Trek, she would be THE renegade member of
the Borg collective that sent them to their doom. How this was accomplished
was due to the fact that a glitch in her wiring reversed the standard
Borgian-socialist dictum from "From each according to her abilities and to
each according to her needs" to "Meow Meow Meow Meow Meow", which caused her
to treat all her brethren like cats. For this she was banished into the
plasma core of the ship's engine. Without her connection to the collective,
she learned to blow bubbles in the core while saying silly things to the
other radioactive creatures living there. She giggled to herself. She is
mistakenly reintroduced into the collective and teaches all how to laugh and
nap. The work ethic of the Borg, superior by universal standards,
consequently dropped to nil, and their quasi-telepathic communication system
became a mental party line for Borg jokes--Q:How many Borg does it take to
change a light bulb? A:We are Borg--light is irrelevant. The Borg patented
"You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile" became the kinkiest things
to say, and the collective thereafter only equated resistance with
voltage/current. Mayu subsequently became a Federation counsellor for
defecting Borg and deranged androids.

Friday, June 04, 2004

A Discourse on Lunch

"Lunch. I'm fond of lunch. I am, in fact, a lunch aficionado. Give me
liberty or give me lunch. Breakfast comes around too early in the day, and
dinner can interfere with one's plans for the evening, but lunch is right on
the money, the only thing it interrupts is work...A hearty lunch is
essentially for growing bodies. Beyond that, it's a many-splendored thing.
Man does not live by deals alone. Lunch is beauty. Lunch is truth. The
Rubenesque beauty of chocolate pudding soaking up cream. The truth embodied
in the Brechtian dictum, 'First feed the face.' Butter the bread, boys!
Split the elusive pea! Hop to it! Lunch justifies any morning and sedates
the worst of afternoons. I would partake. I would partake."
- Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates

Food quotes

The following are from

"A man may be a pessimistic determinist before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will's freedom after it." -Aldous Huxley

"Laughter is brightest where food is best." - Irish proverb

"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating." -Luciano Pavarotti

"We dare not trust our wit for making our house pleasant to our friends, so we buy ice cream."- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I eat merely to put food out of my mind." - N.F. Simpson

"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard

"Food is the most primitive form of comfort." - Sheilah Graham

"Enchant, stay beautiful and graceful, but do this, eat well. Bring the same consideration to the preparation of your food as you devote to your appearance. Let your dinner be a poem, like your dress."
- Charles Pierre Monselet

"All I ask of food is that it doesn't harm me." - Michael Palin

"Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water." -W.C. Fields

"If there is anything we are serious about, it is neither religion nor learning, but food." -Lin Yuntang

"When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food." -Desiderius Erasmus

"The destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they feed themselves." - Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin

"The science which feeds men is worth at least as much as the one which teaches how to kill them." -Ibid.

"Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last." -Francois Minot

"Watermelon --it's a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face. "-Enrico Caruso

"Never trust a dog to watch your food." -Some kid.

"Cooking is at once child's play and adult joy. And, cooking done with care is an act of love -Craig Clairborne

Doubles...from e...

I'm not a freak. Really. But since y'all be my partners in food (and since
I've been prattling about 'doubles' ever since Mayu understood sarcasm :),
forgive me my sins. In my insomniac pre-dawn state, I have ventured to
unearth almost all information I could about "Doubles" which is not a
Jamaican dish, but a West Indian or Trinidadian dish. And my requesting it
at the "Nice n Spicy" may have served to insult our most gracious yet
somewhat impertinent server Andrew. "You mean Trinidad is not in Jamaica?",
my ignorant request must have sounded like. But I guess he's used to such
things coming from the mouths of pretentious assholes (mouths of assholes!!
haha) like myself.

But like all things, "Doubles" has a history. That history is tied with the
diaspora of India, or the subjugation of the Indians to the British, who
were taken to far flung reaches of the Empire: Trinidad being one of them.
So, the fact that many of the Trinidadian dishes *are* Indian is lost on
most naifs who believe that it's cool to be "Trini". But the connections are
not lost to most Trinidadians; one campaign slogan in Trinidad asserts
[insert Trini accent here]: "We don't want no roti government". Nonetheless,
"Doubles" is essentially a channa sandwhich. Channa being curried chick
peas. There is also kucheela ("Exotic blend of unripened mangoes, East
Indian Spices and west Indian peppers, provides a mouth watering dimension
to any recipe").

Alas, only one place has been known to serve 'Doubles' in the GVRD: Roti
Bistro 1958 West 4th Ave. And they only serve them on the weekends; they
usually deplete their stock of the snack by 2pm on both days [Needless to
say, I will be making a pilgrimage this weekend to continue my
Caribbean-Jamaican-Tropical/Indian love-fest/feast for those interested].

And so, this story, like all stories, must come to an end, but not before
the author usually inserts some empty, sentimental generalization about
memory, the progression of history, or doing-the-right-thing [Oh, how common
kitsch is even to the cognoscienti among us!!]. I will "forgo" such
temptations and end with what could only be my version of "A River Runs
Through It" ["A Curry Dish Runs Through Me"??]:

I am haunted by food.


"Conloqui et conridere et vicissim benevole obsequi, simul leger libros dulciloquos, simul nugari et simul honestari." -
Confessions, St. Augustine, 397 A.D.

"Conversations and jokes together, mutual rendering of good services, the reading together of sweetly phrased books, the sharing of nonsense and mutual attentions."