Saturday, November 29, 2008
While fear and uncertainty gripped Bombay earlier this week, here's how two of the city's luminaries shared their fears and dread in their own words...
Excerpts from Amitabh Bachchan's blog:
"As an Indian, I need to live in my own land, on my own soil with dignity and without fear. And I need an assurance on that.
I am ashamed to say this and not afraid to share this now with the rest of the cyber world, that last night, as the events of the terror attack unfolded in front of me I did something for the first time and one that I had hoped never ever to be in a situation to do.
Before retiring for the night, I pulled out my licensed .32 revolver, loaded it and put it under my pillow. For a very disturbed sleep."
Posted on: November 27, 2008 - 11:06 pm
Excerpts From Aamir Khan's blog:
"I dread to think of how various political parties are now going to try and use this tragedy to further their political careers. At least now they should learn to not divide people and instead become responsible leaders. An incident such as this really exposes how ill-equipped we are as a society as far as proper leaders go. We desperately need young, dynamic, honest, intelligent and upright leaders, who actually care for the country.
SHOCKED, HEARTBROKEN, HELPLESS, ANGRY.
Gabbar Singh! Are you listening?
Posted by Indian Roller at 8:13 PM
Slumdog Millionaire (2008), co-directed by Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandon, fails to extricate itself from its own self-created "filmic ghetto" of stereotype and poor choices. Focusing on the story of Jamal Malik ( Dev Patel), a love-struck kid determined to shed his violent and tragic upbringing in Bombay slums, Slumdog Millionaire is a well-intentioned but ultimately failed attempt at social commentary. Running 2 hours and ten minutes, the film is rife with stereotypes, cliches and bromides that would make any Bombay-wallah cringe in dispair. Jamal's love interest is Latika (Freida Pinto), a hapless orphan whose presence offers nothing but predictability from her first appearance on screen.
Both Patel and Pinto struggle painstakingly through maudlin and fatuos lines of love, anticipation, and honour. Indeed the narrative, nothing short of hackneyed Bollywood-masala, forces this viewer to wonder why the filmmakers didn't just throw in a few song-and-dance numbers since they had the famed music director, A.R. Rahman, in their company.
The most jarring element of the film, however, lies in what amounts to an unfortunate decision by the filmmakers to ignore an integral component of Mumbai life - its language. Not only Jamal, but hoodlums, thugs, and minor characters speak an immaculate English, barring one Hindi expletive (matherchod - motherfucker). In fact, the language of the slums in Mumbai, Bambaiya Hindi, is a mix of Urdu, Hindi, and Marathi. If the filmmakers really wanted to speak to the needs of the people of Mumbai, they should have tried to stay true to these roots instead of trying to pander to a global audience. Pinto and several members of the Indian cast are obviously uncomfortable with the nuances of their feelings rendered in the English dialogue and they often mumble their lines in incoherent little sentences as if reading a teleprompter on their co-actors' eyes. Indeed, because many of the exchanges between Jamal and Latika are barely audible, the filmmakers should have redone entire conversations in ADR.
The uneven storytelling is not aided by the Dutch angles which seem more ostentatious than helpful to the construction of the film. The pretentiously hip music does not adequately convey the grim conditions of some of the worst slums in India. Foreigners became cardboard cutouts created for comic effect, while antagonists are instantly familiar because they are either wife-beaters or are swearing at women with foul language. Even veteran Bollywood star, Anil Kapoor, portrays Prem Kumar, the host of, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" with a healthy dose of histrionics and insincerity. The problems with language continue as Kapoor mumbles part of his lines in Hindi, an act which leaves the non-Hindi speaking audience clueless because the lines are not always followed by subtitles in English. Perhaps the only redeeming element of this mediocre and forgettable film is the soundtrack, which offers some innovative and entertaining lyrics.
One is left to wonder why such a problematic film received so many positive reviews from Hollywood-media critics. Is there an element of the "noble savage" in the way that Hollywood critics relax the standards for filmmakers who touch on South Asian themes or are they just being safe and politically correct in not identifying sloppy filmmaking for what it is? Do Hollywood movie critics have double standards for Hollywood-based films as compared to foreign films?
Slumdog Millionaire is a dog in Danny Boyle's oeuvre and barely deserves a B-movie grade. Prem Kumar's million-dollar question in the eponymous show to Jamal should have been: "Will this dud-of-a-movie pass the critics' muster...Are you sure?...Or would you like to go 50/50?"
Posted by Indian Roller at 2:08 AM
Thursday, November 27, 2008
From the Diaries of ILLE : Itinerant Little Leprechaun Erin
If the massacre of Native Americans and the betrayal of their trust was part of the "manifest destiny" and the grand plan for annexation of their land was biblical prophecy, how did the lowly turkey get caught in the fray?
Posted by Indian Roller at 7:03 PM
Saturday, November 22, 2008
"Boys...time to load up on Omega-3's!"
According to the world-renowned exponent of global trends and New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, we inhabit a hot, flat, and crowded world where clean water will be a scarce commodity. And he isn't talking about a Roman bathhouse. In any event, one of the consequences of the flattening of the world is the creation of an environment in which products could be competitively produced in any corner of the world. This should lead to a fiercely competitive market of vendors, thereby pushing prices down of most commodities and benefiting the average Joe (even Joe the Plumber).
But one commodity appears to resist that trend and has become a major bugaboo in the overarching theories of Mr. Friedman. But that commodity also happens to be the might samosa, the staple snack of more than a billion people on this earth. The global disparity in the price of the samosa has flummoxed many Wall Street gurus and continues to be a bete noire of economic theorists who are painstakingly trying to fit the earth into a One World/One Theory paradigm.
At a tea stall in Calcutta, the samosa may cost you Rs. 2 (about 4 U.S. cents), at a posh hotel in Bombay it may set you back Rs. 60 ($1.25) and at the Gaylord's in San Francisco the sumptuous snack is roughly, $2.50 each. But as we all await a globally flat price of, maybe, 4 cents a samosa, a hawker in Sonepur, India, bucked the flattening trend by charging a Dutch couple the princely sum of Rs. 2,500 ($40) per samosa.
According to a BBC report by Amarnath Tewary in Patna, "The young hawker insisted in broken English that the samosas were specially made of Indian herbs and had aphrodisiac qualities, local official Paritosh Kumar Das told the BBC. "
Read the full report here:
Tourists in India in samosa shock
It appears that samosas laced with herbs and aphrodisiacs are worth their weight in gold. There might be rumours that Keith Richards is seeking to trade his Rolex for samosas laced with other uplifting substances.
Posted by Indian Roller at 6:44 PM
Saturday, November 15, 2008
"Monitor size matters, Quigley. This way I don't have to see YOU."
While the American media has been busy excoriating Sarah Palin for her gaffes in grammer, her sentence constructions have vindicated those of us who cannot claim English as our first language or mother tongue. Palin has freed us from some of those ghastly regimens of "proper" English and overthrown the shackles of colonial, linguistic hegemony. First it was the gansta rappers who freed us from the taboo of dangling prepositions with their diction. Now, Palin comes in with an unbridled, dumb-as-you-wanna-be version of the language that had been regimented to exclusivity by linguists and grammar-nazi's in the same manner that the Catholic priests guard the rights to holy communion.
Conjunction, hell...what's your function? Why can't the Verb agree to disagree with the Subject? What's the tension between the past, the present, and present perfect? Why can't we just speak Palinese...Apparently, 26 per cent of the Republican conservative base had no trouble understanding her. Imagine that -- a base of supporters who believe that we should return to the sanctity of a 2000-year-old book to live our daily lives and yet they rejected the rigid syntax of a 1000-year-old language, English, by accepting Palinese. We're on to something -- a new language, a new vernacular, a new way, a new day. Viva Palinese!
Case in point...start your day with this:
Two gems of Palinese from Sarah Palin in an interview with Katie Couric, CBS News, Oct. 1, 2008. Notice that you get the gist of it without wallowing in the messy details...It's the gestalt, baby!
"As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border." --Sarah Palin, explaining why Alaska's proximity to Russia gives her foreign policy experience, interview with CBS's Katie Couric, Sept. 24, 2008
"Well, let's see. There's ― of course in the great history of America there have been rulings that there's never going to be absolute consensus by every American, and there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So, you know, going through the history of America, there would be others but ―" --Sarah Palin, asked by Katie Couric to name a Supreme Court decision she disagreed with other than Roe vs. Wade.
Coming Soon to Amazon:
"Better Grammar? You betcha!" by Sarah Palin
Posted by Indian Roller at 1:44 PM
Friday, November 7, 2008
Following the frenzied week of the elections in the U.S., The Indian Roller caught up with Itinerantl L'l Leprechaun Erin, aka ILLE, who returned to Los Angeles from a whirlwind trip of North Carolina, where the state voted in favour of a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1976.
ILLE was in West Los Angeles to grant the Indian Roller a short interview on the political aftermath of this week's election:
Indian Roller (IR): Were you able to vote in this election?
ILLE: No, Leprechauns and other mythical creatures are barred from the voting process. But, not being able to vote allows me to observe this election as a neutral, non-partisan representative of the American people.
IR: Could you share some of your observations?
ILLE: Well, it's hard to put in words anything that the media hasn't already said. But I should like to add that the election of an African-American is the absolute denouement of the history of civil rights in this country and a direct salute to diversity of the American people...Obama's father is African and his mother, an American...so, he deserves the moniker, African-American.
IR: Let's talk about California...Many political pundits claim that it is the harbinger of controversial issues in U.S. politics? Do you agree?
ILLE: As far as the issues in California go, Prop. 4 and Prop. 8 were the two Bible-thumping issues and it was interesting to note that the same Latino and African-American demographics that voted for Obama might have voted Yes on Prop. 8 to deny the right of marriage to same-sex couples. Prop 4 was an anti-abortion measure couched as a family-friendly proposition with strong Bible-inspired verbiage.
IR: So, are you opposed to Bible-inspired propositions?
ILLE: If you look at the chequered history of religion and affairs of the state in the U.S., you will find that the Bible was used to justify slavery...the Bible was quoted to ban inter-racial marriages until California overturned the ban in 1948...and the Bible was often used to justify subjugation of women and deny them suffrage. During various times, for various causes, the Bible has been used by various religious groups as a Weapon of Mass Discrimination...the Bible is a WMD.
IR: Are you saying that the Bible is being used to deny civil rights to U.S. citizens?
ILLE: It's interesting to note that a large proportion of the African-American community in California voted to create a historic milestone in the struggle for civil rights by electing Obama to the Presidency. The Rev. Martin Luther King lived and died fighting for the rights of every dis-enfranchised American citizen. He fought the religious and social bigotry and the biblical justification of slavery. I'm not certain, then, that I understand why some African-Americans voted to ban same-sex marriage based on their faith in the Bible. A "No" vote on same-sex marriage is an attack against civil rights...there's no denying that.
IR: So what do you recommend?
ILLE: Well I see a two-part, long-term solution to the malaise of the mixing of church and state. First, the Government should withhold the tax-exempt status of all churches that choose to engage in the political affairs of the state. Second, I propose an Education programme to empower people to think for themselves and not be waylaid by wanton interpretations of social laws that are derived from ancient dogmas, ideologies, books, and fairy tales that have little relevance to our modern-day lives. If people could think for themselves and engage in their own spiritual quests, we wouldn't need these religious institutions that thrive by controlling your mind and by telling you where to donate your money... and how to vote. It's because people have allowed themselves to become the sheep and have become addicted to rote passages that give them simple fables of hate and love --
IR: Any final words?
ILLE: I think it was Mark Twain, one of America's foremost writers, who said: "A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows. "
Posted by Indian Roller at 11:31 PM