Aug 30, 2008

Behr e Tanhai main..

... ay jaan e bahaar, larzaa hai.

The Genius of Zardari.

I recently spotted a banner stating:
"Asif Zardari ki zahanat ko salaam."
Meaning, salute to the brilliance of Asif Zardari.

Hard to believe, but it was meant in total and complete earnest. How do I know that? A 'minjanib' (translated: from) postscript was added alongwith the green, red, black colors of the Pakistan's People's Party.

I laughed, of course. Which self-respecting Pakistani wouldn't.

However, as I was to read the following article later, it was foolish of me to do so. That banner had a hell lot of meaning to it. As it turns out, how Mr. Zardari has orchestrated the future of Pakistan. This is a must-read article for anyone who gives a damn.

So writes Karamatullah K. Ghori, and I quote:

A cynic could be pardoned for saying there’s never a dull moment in the ‘land of the pure.’ But the pace of political flux in Pakistan is, simply, much too mind-boggling even for the most jaded of pundits and crystal ball-gazers.Give the credit where it’s due. Asif Zardari has kept to his arcane game of breaking promises like chattels. This 21st century incarnation of Chanakya’s mantra of rajnit ( statecraft) — deceit, deception and duplicity — and Machiavelli’s guiding light of how the prince must take his subjects on a merry-go-round as long as he could, is a new phenomenon, even to the deeply duplicitous feudal culture of Pakistan. So Zardari has kept the whole nation of 165 million people spell-bound and literally on a wild goose chase.

The parting of the ways between Nawaz and Zardari had been on the cards from the moment they sat down together in Murree, or Bhurban, last March to ink the first of nearly half a dozen ‘agreements’ and pledges for the restoration of judges. The house of cards they had assembled had to collapse because the bigger partner never had the intent of following through on its commitment.

Zardari’s reservations on account of some of the judges doomed the agreement even before the ink could dry on it. The PPP supremo, elevated to the pedestal of his party’s kingmaker, didn’t want Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, in particular, to return to the bench of the apex court for a variety of reasons, mostly those focused on his past, present and future.

The burden of steering the coalition to a safe landing from the shoals had all along been on Nawaz, the minor of the two partners. He had taken a moral high ground on the issue of the judiciary’s sanctity from the moment he returned home from years of forced exile. His party won the election in Punjab largely on what it hawked as the moral imperative of restoring the top judiciary to its pre-November 3 position. Even if he wanted to resile from that moral plateau he couldn’t, because that would have doomed his future prospects for good.

The alliance with the PPP was also crucial to the fulfilment of Nawaz Sharif’s other high priority of getting rid of his arch nemesis, Musharraf. He knew that he couldn’t topple Musharraf from his perch without Zardari getting on board the juggernaut to breach his ( Musharraf’s) ramparts. The uneasy relationship, in that sense, was symbiotic, which kept it going for a while.Zardari may not have been as keen as Nawaz, initially, to kick Musharraf out of the presidency. There was a nexus of interests, no doubt, between Musharraf and him on several key issues, the most prominent of which riveted on Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. The vocal and prying judge was a pariah in both their books; for sheer survival, the two of them were on the same page on this key demand of not only Nawaz but of the Pakistani people, en masse, to bring Chaudhry back to where he was on November 3.

But Zardari, in the meantime, had moved ahead of both Nawaz and Musharraf. His Machiavellian horse sense had guided him to make his own incursions into Musharraf’s erstwhile sanctum in Washington, the ultimate equaliser in Pakistan’s political dispensations. His team of court confidants at home, and one tribune positioned in the embassy in Washington, got him the audience that he had been seeking. The power brokers in ‘the capital of the world’ were finally convinced that Musharraf had become a liability and that there was a new asset available to run Pakistan according to their blueprint of priorities. Musharraf’s fate was sealed and delivered.

Musharraf’s glue, which had kept the two unnatural allies orbiting meaninglessly in the same sphere, becoming unstuck ordained the unravelling of the alliance. It didn’t take long to fall apart. There couldn’t be a different denouement than that for the two principal contenders to political power in Pakistan.

Putting the two in the balance, in terms of who gained how much and who lost what, Nawaz may still end up with a better deal, though not in the immediate sense of time. Taking a morally superior position and abiding by principles is not what Machiavelli would approve of. But Nawaz has secured Punjab on his side and the way the chemistry of the federation works — with Punjab being the prime element — it doesn’t need a political scientist’s brilliance and acumen to foresee the future.

Zardari, no doubt, is the prime beneficiary in the immediate sense. He has, in one stroke hit Musharraf’s ball out of the ballpark and got the presidency all but stitched for himself. Could anyone, in their wildest dream, have foreseen this cataclysmic change of fortunes, even a year ago? Could any of the jaded political soothsayers have perceived a man as universally reviled in Pakistan as Zardari in the hot seat of Musharraf?

However, Zardari’s victory carries the risk of proving pyrrhic in the long term, perhaps less for him than to the beguiled nation of mostly mute spectators. The first damage, incalculable at this stage, is almost certain to be caused to the federation’s moorings.

The strange spectacle of the provincial leaderships of the three smaller provinces of the federation — Sindh, the NWFP and Balochistan — handing down ringing endorsements to Zardari as president smacks of three vs. one: Punjab against the rest of the federation. Where would this drawing of the battle lines take Pakistan to? It doesn’t bode well for the health of the federation, if not, exactly, threatening its unity.The second quantum of damage, which can be sniffed even at this early stage of the fray, is the spirit of the constitution of Pakistan, if not its letter, being mauled in the ongoing shenanigans to have Zardari elected as president. It defies common sense that the kingmaker should also double up as the king.

The office of the president, rightly being touted by Zardari’s partisans and apologists as the symbol of federation’s cohesiveness, demands, in spirit again, that whoever succeeds to it must stay away from politics and be non-partisan. Musharraf failed this litmus test, miserably, and so will Zardari. He will not be — none can imagine him as such — another Chaudhry Fazle Ilahi, who dwarfed against Bhutto. He would assert himself in everything, ride roughshod with impunity and flaunt his authority with gusto, especially with a meek and obliging PM like Gilani ready to do all his bidding and kowtowing to his commands without so much as a squeak of demur.

And all those hankering to balance the current power inequality between the president and the parliament could kiss goodbye to 58-2(B) being removed from the constitution. In fact, the way the Nawaz-Zardari entente cordiale is fraying, the spark for a real flare-up between the two parties they respectively lead would, in all probability, come much sooner than expected over this very issue: PML (N) seeking to undo the blighted provision that arms the president with doomsday powers, and the PPP minions resisting this demand in order to keep their man overly empowered. This could be more than a catalyst for confrontation between them.

But while Zardari as president may be fractious and divisive for the nation, the power brokers engineering this deal are happy at their stroke of genius, in their convoluted sense. In Zardari they have found another prince of darkness, a la Musharraf, eager and anxious to be their frontline soldier — albeit in civvies — in the war against terror. That’s what they expect of any and all Pakistani leaders, damn the rest of the nation’s priorities, pressures and concerns.

Washington has good reason to feel comfortable with Pakistan under Zardari doing more of the same that Musharraf had been doing, in fact do it with more exuberance and élan. The single minded devotion and commitment of the civilian government, led by the PPP, to the strategy of force in Bajaur, Swat and other flashpoints in Pakistan is ample evidence of the new recruits to the war on terror doing their master’s bidding with flawless commitment.

Any body doubting the shape and contours of the new game of power politics in Pakistan need only read the lead editorials in the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, both leading exponents of the establishment elite on both sides of the Anglo-American camaraderie of interest, appearing on the same day, August 26. Both the editorials have lambasted Nawaz Sharif for not giving top billing to the terrorist threat and being lackluster about it. Both have expressed satisfaction that he’s not in power and heaved a sigh of relief at his being out of reckoning at the power centre. Need any more clues as to where Zardari is steering his newly- won fiefdom in Pakistan?


Aug 28, 2008

"Bachna Ae Haseeno"

There were only two good things about this movie.

Ranbir Kapoor and his acting. He's charming and refreshing. He's learning the ropes of being a chocolate-hero and so far he's doing pretty good!

Okay, so technically that's just one thing but that's the best I could do. I frankly don't know if this movie did any business whatsoever but it's plotless, themeless and seamless. How am I supposed to be interested in a roguish Don Juan who breaks hearts in half of the movie and tries to mend them in the other half? Originality, hello?

Stellar-casting can only take you so far. Deepika needs to understand some of that philosophy too. Looks can only be a bidding factor until you're in a masala movie like Om Shanti Om. When it comes to at least some amount of acting, she needs to see some movies without women-drenched-in-makeup. Maybe Shabana Azmi or Smita Patel flicks will do her good.

Minisha Lamba is actually not half bad, even though Bipasha certainly is forgetful, as all item-girls are. The Italian model sequence has 'we-needed-pretty-sights-apart-from-Basu' written all over it, so good for those who want to see Italy and Bipasha.

The direction is sloppy, though the dialogs aren't. Ranbir is going to make it big. All he needs is another couple of box-office hits and a critically acclaimed pack of films and he's set to elbow Hrithik and Abhishek out.

So all in all, basically just another Ranbir flick.

Wisdom from across the Atlantic.

Barack Obama's running mate offers words of wisdom.

"Terror is a tactic," Joe Biden says. "Terror is not a philosophy."

Gwynne Dyer adds that it is a mantra that everybody in US politics should be required to chant each morning before work, even if it is slightly inaccurate. Terror is actually an emotion. Terrorism however is a tactic - a political tool or technique, more precisely - that can be used in support of a variety of causes. It is as misleading to declare war on terrorism as it would be declare war on propaganda.

One flew over the President House.

There is absolutely no doubt that Pakistan is in the hands of the insane.

I'm not joking. I wish I was, but I'm not.

According to the Daily Dawn of the day, Asif Ali Zardari, PPP-poster dude, was examined by British and American psychologists during his imprisonment. Psychologists chiefly diagnosed him as a patient of dementia, post-traumatic stress disoder and major depressive disorder. The prognosis was bleak since he was not expected to recover any time in the year or so (this was stated in 2007).

Well, what does psychology know hai na?

So what if a guy's insane. He can still be president of our country. On humanistic grounds.

Bah, Americans think they're open-minded. Bah, I say. We're a hundred years ahead of them. They're still contending on whether a woman should be President. They're still struggling with issues of Black men to be President. A gay man to be President.

We're way ahead of them. We've got the certifiably insane as Presidential candidates.

You can't beat that, no sirree.

Our High Commissioner has been reported to state that Mr. Zardari is fine now and was 'impressed' on how Zardari dealt with the trauma of his wife's loss.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say he was counting pretty little birdies in the air.

"Singh is King"

Singh is King is by any definition a masala movie, all set to spice your weekend family outing. Akshaye Kumar, in my opinion, is one of the most under-rated actors of Bollywood, rolls in plenty of laughter with his natural Punjabi good looks and good humor, calling morning cereal as "Doodh and chewera" and quips thus, when Katrina shows him a nice, tiny halter top for her to buy, "Bachay toh aik saal baad hongey, abhi se shopping kar rahi ho?". Om Puri is the other villager who accompanies him to Australia where Sardar-gang-mafia head "Lucky Singh" is blowing everyone to bits. Enter "Happy Singh" (Kumar) to bring the don back to his parents in Punjab where they cry and pine for him.

It's got everything, in good quantity and quality, that we look for in an entertainer. A beautiful, tastily dressed heroine, corny-yet-laugh-out-loud humor and a centre star who has the capability to carry off nonsense drama as well as thrilling action sequences, such as jumping from two lifts to an escalator. Bravo.

But. I've decided I'm not going to write about how beautiful Katrina looked, how Akshaye Kumar is akin to wine (getting more and more productive and fruitful as he grows older), how Neha Dhupia's wardrobe was breathtakingly classy and how Bollywood will continue to rule hearts even if the hero is a rooster-chasing villager to a gang-mafia-king.

I'm going to talk about the magic of CINEMA.

Jokes that are ordinarily quite unfunny will seem hilarious. Women who might sound sheepishly American will look adorable. Dance numbers that would on any other occasion leave you wondering what they were doing smack in the middle of a fight-sequence, will make you jig a bit in your seat.

That's all part of the magic. That's all part of the enigma we call the silver screen.

In the past given years, cinema has declined in Pakistan due to various reasons. Bad filmmaking being the topmost one. And then there's evergreen Saima who refuses to move a day beyond 16, who also, according to my friend, if jumps in a sarsoon ka khet, they won't have sarsoon for years.

Then there's Shaan. The terribly misplaced soul. I'd like to see him as Brando. And he insists on dressing up as Maula Jatt.

Too many people have had too many debates about this issue: why not the revival of Pakistani cinema? There are factions of society that refute it as much as they possibly can, considering cinema the work of Satan and the core cause of the downfall of any civilization. I'm guessing they're forgetting corruption, bhatta, cheating, bribery, adultery, rape, prostitution, child-molestors, robbers, dacoits as their top contenders. Ah, well.

Then there are factions who are remotely interested in it as a business proposition, watching it fare with the masses. Now that they see people are duly bored with cable television and Star Plus (fingers-crossed), it's time they seek other methods of entertainment. Cinema seems to be the next best thing and I can see the tide turning. Singh is King was sold out, advance booking, on Sunday afternoon. That's why I had to go see it today.

And then there are suicide bombers. But they haven't spared hospitals, mosques and army cantonments either, so cinemas don't have much of a fighting chance against those odds.

I can't say with much assurance that I'll like Meera shaking her groove-thang on a big screen where I saw Katrina batting her beautiful eyes at a man 20 years her senior, but I can definitely say that if they produce more movies like Khuda Ke Liye, I'll definitely go watch.

Aug 27, 2008

And the Premio goes to...

Relax. I'm not handing out cars. I'm not a President. Not yet, anyway.

This is a very happy moment for me though. If I had cars (even toy ones) I'd hand them out because I'm all teary-eyed and sniffly.

I have been awarded with the Brilliante Weblog for the very first time, and I must say, friendly as the process may sound, I just about feel like winning American Idol (aren't you glad I didn't say Pakistani Sangeet Icon?) ...

So thank you, Mampi, for awarding me with the Brilliante Awards for, as she puts it,

For her simplicity, for the fire inside her that is wrapped up in tradition and yet is so effective.

Aww. High praise indeed. No matter how cynical we are, we can always find it in ourselves to blush a teeny tiny bit.

I would like to thank, on this auspicious occasion, the following:

  1. Blogspot. You sound funny (like something with a flu) but you've done a great service to humanity.
  2. My unreal capacity to write about almost anything.
  3. Farigh time. Really, if you want to write a blog, you need to be free enough to type it, hope that electricity doesn't go to hell as soon as you were about to hit publish and drive you insane.
  4. Worldcall Telecom. For working enough to help me blog. How many precious blog posts have been lost to their 'upgrading' I can only venture a ballpark: about a million.
  5. Ali, for leaving me alone enough to think. It's like Dad says to him, "Beta, you've never written anything in your life. Please try to leave alone someone who has."
  6. And to all my regular readers. Sitemeter loves you!

So the rules of this award are fairly simple and are as follows,

  1. The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogosphere.
  2. When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back.
  3. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
  4. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliante Weblog.’
  5. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).
  6. And then we pass it on!

The seven blogs I award are:

Barooq, for being the next Borges or James Joyce. Whichever comes first.

Hira, for being the next Prime Minister for Pakistan.

Z, for being true to Microsoft. I don't know if it qualifies for an award, but loyalty is always praiseworthy in my book.

Hufsa, for her candid and life-is-wonderful kinda tone. You're a real sweetheart.

Saadat, for the topsy turvy and a very cool template.

1980, for writing things that hit home so very much sometimes. There's something very familiar-sounding about her writing.

Madnas, for her out-of-this-world skill with the pen.

So yahoo, everyone! Enjoy the afterparty!

Aug 26, 2008

Everybody Loves Zardari.

Okay, Hira and I are still not over the shock of someone, who has been charged with a plethora of corruption cases, being nominated for the next Presidential candidate. But maybe that's just us, you know, the parhe likhe jaahil who don't know how politics work.

So we try to absorb this piece of news and we keep trying to understand how this works.

BB comes and becomes popular immediately because she's the daughter of an immensely popular leader. She commits follies that are to be expected from any ol' political heir and then decides to marry a guy who looks like this:

Really. Even if character or wealth is something to go by, she could've done better. Why didn't she meet someone at those yuppie colleges she went to? And marry a prince of some unknown island? It's pleasant enough food for thought what that could've saved the country from in the oncoming years.

But no.

She had to marry a guy who looks like this:

So okay. Love is blind or whatever. Or the political imperatives to marry him were especially crucial to the prices of gas and electricity and flour in Pakistan in the year 2008.

But how is it that this fellow is claiming that people have never believed that he was corrupt? Not for one second? Does the word corruption mean anything to him at all or does it fail to lose all sensibility ... the impact of it in the global politics fail to have any semblance of logic?

Currently, it is estimated, that Mr. Asif Ali Zardari has more than 900 million pounds or 1.8 billion US dollars or even more. His estates range from Phase VIII DHA to Virgin Islands and that's just scratching the surface.

What this country refuses to understand and accept is that we are consistently letting idiots, corrupt politicians, militant crusaders and fundamentalist agendas ruin any chance of peace and quiet that may come our way.


PLEASE make me believe I have something to hope for in this nation.

Hira and I are terribly desperate here. Please.


I seem to have begun with a fascination of black stone rings.

Morbid? No not really. That black is morbid is nothing than an old wives tale to me. I'd wear it on my wedding if I wasn't such a fraidy-cat of all the people I'd shock.

There's something terribly bewitching about them, these black stones.

Ali, from his first salary, has bought me a black-stoned ring (not the one in the picture, though), apparently what you call a black zircon set in silver. Reminds me of Diana's engagement ring, though that was a sapphire.

I'm such a sucker for jewelry. Which is sad, because I had never in a million years thought I'd be.

But of late, I've found myself ogling ornate jewelry shoppes, especially designer outlets, which smirk at me. They say, "Oh come to look at us, have you? Do you have any idea how much we cost?"

Especially diamonds. I don't know about them being my best friend, but they're definitely on to me. Their sparkle is like an allure I can't resist and if they're in white gold, you might as well expect me to start weeping.

It's odd. How could rational people act this way? Reminds me of that ayah in the Quran. We've instilled in men the love of gold and land and sons.

Amen, that you have, Allah Miyan, that you have.

Aug 25, 2008

Reasons why House rocks.

House: "Do you notice how all the self-sacrificing women in history; Joan of Arc, Mother Theresa, can't think of any others; they all die alone. The men, on the other hand, get so much fuzz, it's crazy."

House: "There's an evolutionary imperative why we give a crap about our family and friends. And there's an evolutionary imperative why we don't give a crap about anybody else. If we loved all people indiscriminately, we couldn't function."

House: "Lies are like children: they're hard work, but it's worth it because the future depends on them."

House: "Gifts allow us to demonstrate exactly how little we know about a person. And nothing pisses a person off more than being shoved into the wrong pigeonhole."

House: "You can have all the faith you want in spirits, and the afterlife, and heaven and hell, but when it comes to this world, don't be an idiot. Cause you can tell me you put your faith in God to put you through the day, but when it comes time to cross the road, I know you look both ways."

House: "Why would you support someone who screws up?"
Cameron: "Because I'm not insanely insecure. And because I can actually trust in another human being, and I am not an angry, misanthropic son of a bitch."
House: "I'm sorry, you said you weren't angry."

Cuddy: "You know, there are other ways to manage pain."
House: "Like what, laughter? Meditation? Got a guy who can fix my third chakra?"

House: "I've been alienating people since I was three."

Aug 24, 2008

And then I clenched my jaw.

I want to be whole again.

Got my finger on the trigger
But I don't know who to trust
I look into your eyes
There's just devils and dust

We're a long, long way from home Bob
Home's a long, long way from us
Feel the dirty winds blowin'
Devils and dust

I got God on my side
I'm just trying to survive
But if what you do to survive
Kills the things you love

Fear is a powerful thing
It can turn your heart black you can trust
It'll take your God-filled soul
Fill it with devils and dust

Well I dreamed of you last night
In a field of blood and stone
Blood began to dry
And a smell began to rise

Well I dreamed of you last night Mom
In a field of mud and bone
And your blood began to dry
The smell began to rise

Got God on our side
We're just trying to survive
But if what you do to survive
Kills the things you love

Fear is a powerful thing
It'll turn your heart black you can trust
It'll take your God-filled soul
Fill it with devils and dust
It'll take your God-filled soul
Fill it with devils and dust

Now every woman and every man
They wanna take your right to stand
Find the love with God wills
The faith that He commands

I've got my finger on the trigger
Tonight faith just ain't enough
And I look inside my heart
There's just devils and dust

But I've got God on my side
And I'm just trying to survive
But if what you do to survive
Kills the things you love

Fear is a dangerous thing
It'll turn your heart black you can trust
It'll take your God-filled soul
Fill it with devils and dust
It'll take your God-filled soul
Fill it with devils and dust

Maybe if I repeat it often enough, it'll happen.

Aug 22, 2008

"A Streetcar Named Desire"

This is probably one of the finest movies of all time. Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh have outdone their capabilities. Vivien Leigh is especially to be lauded (and already has been, with her Academy Award) for her complex and extremely realistic depiction of the near-mad Blanche DuBois.

Marlon Brando on the other hand proves that it is possible to look like a jock and act like a pro. Although his "Stellaaaaa!"s kept reminding me of Raymond's daughter's rendition of it in Everybody Loves Raymond, when she and Frank are watching Brando movies (knowing Frank, you'd see why he loves the guy), I couldn't help but notice how flawlessly he executed the role of a macho stereotype of the 1950s. They can hit a woman and at the same time call her 'honey'. What's worse is the women can go silly putty as soon as they are on the letter 'h'.

The conflicted Blanch DuBois (White Words in French, as Blanch ostentatiously informs a smitten and befooled Mitch) is of course the center of the play but it is important to note how the rest of the characters hold the story together. The dialogs are also exquisite enough to keep the windmills of the mind running and discovering with each fabrication that Blanch produces, a new layer to the character of a delusional, adding to the twists and turns in the impacts she is creating in the lives of her sister's parasitic marriage. Towards the end when we see Stella walking away from Stanley (Brando) with her baby in her hand saying that she would never return to him. But somehow it doesn't seem to be quite as convincing. Women who are victims of abuse tend to develop either a self-blaming or a fruitless patterns of dealing with their abusive husbands, fathers, brothers or sons. Even if they realize what amount of injustice is done to her, she does not have the courage to walk out or walk away. If she does, there's a big chance she'll return to the same home soon enough.

As for Blanch, her diagnosis is simple enough. She is somewhat a nymphomaniac afflicted by delusions of grandeur that are clearly evident in her mannerisms and fancies and reminisces of the past. Vivien Leigh gives a final touch to that forged delicacy through batting eyelashes at the right time - not to mention the writer's talent when he introduces the rhinestone tiara.

Thus the film is not only symbolically well-integrated but is clearly filled with overt images of mental and interpersonal conflict.

Definitely, I repeat, one of the best movies of all time.

Aug 20, 2008

From a Gollum within.

You know how that bumper sticker on FB goes: I had a life but facebook ate it?

Well mine is officially devoured.

Thanks to my friend R, who'd been trying to get me hooked for ages (oh had I but known what a precious addiction was waiting for me all along), I am now completely and totally useless.

Welcome to Scrabulous. If you are a language enthusiast or simply competitive or even borderline obsessive compulsive, you will forget all your sorrows on this board.

Bid me farewell, o' sad, pathetic world. I have found a well to drown in.

Aug 19, 2008

The end of an era.

Pakistani politics are just about to be turned into a play. "Kionke General bhi Kabhi Sadr tha".

That's how Star-Plussy we've gotten. Governments coming back from the dead (literally), external control and influence (I hear you, Uncle Sam), evil (come on now, really?) dictators bidding their goodbyes and saving graces, inflation being the key factor of all the masses that will finally bring us to a grand finale of this drama we call democracy ... we're all set.

In what can only be called a charade of musical chairs, another dictator finishes his long line of policies that were undemocratic and in a lot of ways, insipid to the future of the nation. Nevertheless, as the popular opinion goes, Pakistanis have a knack of being apathetic and listening to the loud, whip-bearing, tongue-lashing ones.

Let's face it. We don't like democracy, no matter how badly America wants us to like it. Pakistanis are more interested in getting their electricity and phone bills under their tiny (thanks to the currency devaluation, getting tinier by the minute) budgets. We will not take affirmative actions because Pakistanis have an enduring historical pattern of listening to the unjustified voice of the times.

We thought we'd be saved when democracy was said to return. We thought we'd be back on the groove track when we elected a democratic Prime Minister (who has the oddest sense of repartee, I imagine). We thought we were on our way.

Ah, Pakistanis. Where do we draw the line to irrational hope?

And here we are again. Celebrating.

Over what exactly?

In the nine given years of President Musharraf's regime, in the six months of the democratic government, in the past 24 hours of a President stepping down.. how have Pakistanis reacted?

We have sat, shocked as always, as the dramatic developments of the stage that is the National Assembly, the script that is the Constitution and the actors which keep having plastic surgeries. Masked puppets dancing at the same tune. Corruption, lalalalalala, corruption.

This man who has just stepped down is no different. I have no sympathies for a head of the state stupid enough to sack a Chief Justice (even though it was constitutional), impose emergency for no apparent reason, make a mess out of a mosque issue and basically be stuck between a rock and a hard place for what seemed like a perpetual period of time.

I don't know about the future, but I do know this. Pakistanis need more than just a change of players. What happened today was not the end. We've only seen a bit of the tumult that is to follow in the next tidal waves of episodes.

Who needs soap operas when you've got a state to dramatize.

Aug 16, 2008

I hate insomnia.

I hate staying up the night.

I hate not being able to sleep.

I hate this helplessness that makes me stare at the walls like some sort of crazy schizophrenic.

Is it odd that there are parts of Septimus that I can relate myself to?

I hate this helplessness it is driving me nuts.

I finished movies, began reading, watched television for hours on end and still couldn't sleep. I spent the entire day sleeping and the entire night staying up. And the worst part is even when stay up during the day I cannot sleep for more than three hours during the night.

I'm having the craziest nightmares. Or daymares, anyway. I relived every awful memory of the past few months.

I thought dreams were a way to ... disguise your anxieties ... not show em exactly as what you are afraid of.

Exactly what you are trying to forget in the first place..

I hate insomnia. I hate it. I'm going nuts.

Everyone has been sleeping - Exploding Dog.

Aug 13, 2008

When will pigs fly?

I realize I don't get chauvinists.

I don't get them just like I don't get a zit on my nose on the day I want to look remotely presentable. Like I don't get hysteria and like I don't get cheating.

Interviewing candidates for admissions in the fall semester gave me a sound opportunity to see how much I don't get them however. They're like a freak of nature. Sometimes they're so unbelievably stupid, it gets you thinking if human beings are really all that cracked up to be.

I asked a young man what his opinion was on women. He said he respected them. Then I asked him if he would be willing to be a stay-at-home dad if his wife wanted to travel the world for her job. He said, "No."

When I asked him why, he replied, "Because she is my wife."

Me: "So?"

Chauvinist number 1: "So I will not let her. I will not allow her."

Me: "Being your wife makes her your slave?"

My eyebrows were raised. If he passed this question, he'd get recommended.


Bad answer. Jerk.

The next guy gets it right between the eyes.

"So tell me," I ask, "would you marry a rape victim?"

"Yeah I would."

I brighten.

"If I'm already married, then yeah, I'd marry her."

The one guy who said he'd be willing to be a stay-at-home dad was the guy who said he was smart enough to know what people wanted to hear him say.

I recommended him for his sheer smart-aleckness. He'd get to be in places in the next ten years.

A fellow colleague on the panel was having the time of his life enjoying the conversations. After each candidate left almost puking with nerves, he would turn to me and say,

"You're really enjoying this aren't you?"

"Only so much. When they say they own their wives, it just makes me want to hammer their puny brains into mush."

"You can't blame 'em, you know."

"And why not?"

"It's what our culture and society has taught them since they were little kids. At 18 or 19 they won't have enough sense to come out of the rain let alone fight stereotypical thinking. You are being too optimistic to expect a rational 18-year-old."

"I was rational when I was 18."

"You can't expect everyone to be the way you are. The normal population thinks women should stay at home and be owned by the men while the man earns."

"I think they are better care-takers too. I'd probably want myself to stay at home to take care of my kids rather than go flying about neglecting my own home. Women are mothers for a reason. But that certainly doesn't mean they don't have the freedom of choice and that definitely doesn't mean men own them like chattle."

The day ended with our last interviewee being a frightened young woman smiling sheepishly and blushing uncontrollably.

"So," my colleague asked, "if your husband forbids you to work after you complete your BBA and your MBA, what are you going to do?"

"I'll quit."

After she left, Mr. D turned to me and began laughing, "I told you, beta. I was hoping a girl would come and prove my point. It's not just men. We're all sexists."

Are we all sexists?


Chauvinism is a strange concept to me because I don't call myself a feminist, a radical feminist or even any kind of -ist. I just feel equality is something that shouldn't be as awesome as a flight to the moon for the species who are growing to live out of caves into feats of architecture that can boggle the mind. When I see educated, intelligent, capable young men and women, seasoned, experienced old uncles and aunties and likeable, loveable people acting as primitive chauvinists I wonder if it's really that far along that we've come.

Sometimes I feel society breeds these vamps we hear stories of. Vamps who destroy houses and eat their young.

Religion plays a strong role in shaping our stereotypical behaviors and so does the heritage a land bears. Pakistanis have a strong reason to believe that their religion has taught them to be sexist and patriarchal. It is convenient enough to forget that Islam actually gave rights to women when it came instead of stripping them from them. Today feminists like to talk about a woman's signature as a witness and her dress code as a barbaric exploitation of women's rights in Islam. I ask them if they'd ever heard of the Prophet SAW's treatment towards Hazrat Ayesha RA when he would ask her if she needed her for anything before he would offer his midnightly prayers. How he handled his wife's anger. Today if a Muslim wants to show just how Muslim and a follower of Islam he is, he does it by proving what a strict check he keeps on his wife, how he doesn't allow her to say a single word in his presence, how he may even slap her soundly if she dares argue and recently got to hear this from someone I wasn't expecting it at all.. "It's really the best if women don't get educated."

I mean, please don't blame me for wanting to hate everything around me right now because people close to me who are capable, intelligent, sensible and usually logical have started to believe that women are the scum of the universe.

A woman should be seen and not heard. A woman must not say or do anything to offend her male counterpart. A woman must take in the butt of all the anger, the flawed logic and a man has the power and the capability to rip her heart out and feed it to the wolves to teach her a lesson. A woman bears lesser intelligence than the man because she is too emotional (if anyone quotes Islam here, I'll be the first to count the number of ahadeeth which have been proven authentic just because a woman .. and a young one at that ... has narrated them, viz, Hazrat Ayesha). A woman is a lesser mortal, a weaker mortal (try waxing your neck and push a kid out of yourself). She must take in all the unfairness with a smile. She must not speak of how life affects her and how must she bear what she does. She must not complain. Because if she does, she is irritating. If she doesn't do what she is supposed to do her grading goes one step down the phylogenetic scale of intelligence. A woman must never think of herself as a more capable person, no. She must control her outbursts, keep her emotions in check, and stop speaking when her anger gets the better of her.

So I'll shut up. Before I really piss people off.

Aug 12, 2008

Medha Ishq.

Gandhiyan, median khool na mahi....
hin te gayen aan see see gandhiyan
My love, open my knots for me
these hundereds of knot i am tied in

Atak jhatak wak ankhiyan aryan
ate pe giyan yaanm khiirriyan gandhiyan
My eyes are fixated towards atak jhtak
and here I have these knots which cant be untied

Akhii rro roo matam karan nit yaad aawan tediaan gandiyan
yar fareed oo soohgan hoowayan jera naal mahi de gandiyan
My eyes mourn whenever I remember your knots my love
Yar fareed, those who are tied in knots with there love, only those become sohagan

Karachi Valiye - Rabbi Shergill.

Je aunda maen kadey hor
Agar main kiss aur waqt aata
Ki mulaqat hundi
kia mulakat hooti
Je hunda maen changa chor
agar main acha choor hota
Ki jumme-raat hundi
kia jumme-e-rat hooti
Je aunda jhoothh maenu kehna
Agar mujhe jhoot bolna aata
Tan vi ki parda eh si rehna
kia yeh parda rehta
Hijaban vali
Hijab wali
Karachi Valie
Karachi wali
Kujh khali tere andar si
Kuch khala tumharay andar tha
'Te shayad mere vi
aur shayed meray bhi
Ik paase khahishan si kharhian
Aik taraf khawahishain ( Desires) kharri thii
'Te dujey haddan si
doosri taraf haddod
Ni haddan terian si nerhe meri door
Ni ( Oye) tumhari hadain kareeb thiin aur meri door
Ki karda maen si majboor
Kia karta main tha majboor
Mijajan valie
Mazaj wali
Karachi valie
Thhande sahan valie
thanday sansoon wali
Rukhe valan valie
Rukhay baloon wali
Thorha kasoor si mera
Thora kasoor tha mera
Thorha si tera kasoor
Thora tumhara bhi tha kasoor
Par dasso dil uthey kiven jit sakdai
Lekin bataoo wahan dil kaisey jeet saktay hain
Jithey rehndian ne mattan vadhoo
jahan aqal ziada important hoo
Tun tukdi si rakhdi si bujhdi si machdi di
tum takti thi, rakhti thi, bujhti thi, jalti thi
Jhakdi si kardi si gallan
hitchkhichati thi aur batain kati thi
Munhon dilon hor
Moonh se kuch aur, dil se kuch aur.
Maen takda si rah, kadey takda si daa
Main rasta daikhta tha, mooka dekhta tha
Kadey farhda si banh teri

kabhi bazoo pakatrta tha tumhara
Aakhar maen si chor
aakhir main choor tha

Asan lai ik sann kurhey
Main ne naqab zani kar li hai
Vehna kinna chir khaloni eyn
dekho kitni dair kari hooti hai
Vaddi kandhan valie
oonchi dewaroon wali

Aug 10, 2008

"Kung Fu Panda"

You know it's a good movie when you start forgetting about the socio-cultural implications and start believing what the characters are trying to involve you in. Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie and Jackie Chan star in such an animated picture from Dreamworks, their dream-big, do-big blockbuster of the year, Kung Fu Panda.

Po is the Panda son of a restaurant-owning duck, in a Chinese valley where his ultimate dream is to become the 'awesome' Kung Fu 'dragon warrior'. But don't we all know that flabby bellies and cookie-love don't produce warriors that can move faster than light and swing sharper than a sword. Destiny however has great things in store for this dumpling-seeking ball of fur that breaks all previous records of heroic stereotypes.

Ogres, pandas, I'm really looking forward to what Dreamworks designs next as their unlikely hero. Now that I can safely say that I very much enjoyed this animated adventure, I am pleased to see audiences giving warm receptions to this redefining old schemas and images of what a hero should or should not be.

A definite thumbs up and mustn't forget a big-fat-Panda kudos to Jack Black for the relatable, believable Po.

What do you believe about communication?

As the requirement of a communication course that I will be teaching in the fall at the university, I have had the opportunity to peruse through a book that really is turning out to be a very interesting read. Here are a couple of things which I think might be very interesting to the general reader as well:

Respond to each of the following statements with T if you believe the statement is usually true and F if you believe the statement is usually false.

  1. Good communicators are born, not made.
  2. The more a couple communicates, the better their relationship will be.
  3. Unlike effective speaking, effective listening cannot be taught.
  4. Opening lines such as “How are you?” or “Fine weather today” or “Have you got a light?” serve no really useful communication purpose.
  5. When two people are in a close relationship for a long period of time, one should not have to communicate his or her needs and wants, the other person should know what they are.
  6. When verbal and non-verbal messages contradict each other, people believe the verbal message.
  7. Complete openness should be the goal of any meaningful personal relationship.
  8. When there is interpersonal conflict, each person should aim to win even at the expense of the other person.
  9. Like good communicators, leaders are born, not made.
  10. Fear of speaking in public is detrimental and must be eliminated.

And what do you know. All above ten statements are false.

What Kind of Love?

Instead of all the crazy Facebooking quizzes, this one actually is made and designed by experts. This scale is adapted from “What Kind of Lover Are You?” from “A Relationship: Specific Version of the Love Attitudes Scale” by C. Hendrick and S. Hendrick, from the Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 1990, Vol. 5. Printed in “Human Communication” by Joseph Devito, Seventh Edition, Addison Wesley Longman Publishers Inc.

The Types of Love:

Loving, of course, means very different things to different people. To illustrate this important concept, take the self-test "What Kind of Lover Are You?"


Respond to each of the following statements with T (if you believe the statement to be generally accurate representation of your attitudes about love) or F (if you believe the statement does not adequately represent your attitudes about love).

1. My lover and I have the right physical 'chemistry' between us.
2. I feel that my lover and I were meant for each other.
3. My lover and I really understand each other.
4. My lover fits my ideal standards of beauty/handsomeness.
5. I try to keep my lover a little uncertain about my commitment to him/her.
6. I believe that what my lover doesn't know about me won't hurt him either.
7. My lover would get upset if he/she knew of some of the things I've done with other people.
8. When my lover gets too dependent on me, I want to back off a little.
9. To be genuine, our love first required caring fro a while.
10. I expect to always be friends with my lover.
11. Our love is really a deep friendship, not a mysterious, mystical emotion.
12. Our love is the most satisfying because it developed from a good friendship.
13. In choosing my lover, I believe that it was best to love someone with a similar background.
14. A main consideration in choosing my lover was how he/she would reflect on my family.
15. An important factor in choosing a partner is whether or not he/she would be a good parent.
16. One consideration in choosing my lover was how he/she would reflect on my career.
17. When things aren’t right with my lover and me, my stomach gets upset.
18. Sometimes I get so excited about being in love with my lover that I can’t sleep.
19. When my lover doesn’t pay attention to me I feel sick all over.
20. I cannot relax if I suspect that my lover is with someone else.
21. I try to always help my lover through difficult times.
22. I would rather suffer myself than let my lover suffer.
23. When my lover gets angry with me, I still love him/her fully and unconditionally.
24. I would endure all things for the sake of my lover.

Check your answers:

If you have agreed to statements through 1-4, you have a strong Eros love component.
If you have said false to statements through 1-4, you have a weak Eros love component.
5-8 refer to Ludus Love,
9-12 refer to Storge Love,
13-16 refer to Pragma Love,
17-20 refer to Manic Love, and
21-24 refer to Agapic Love.

The True answers represent your agreement and False answers represent your disagreement to the various kinds of love present.

1. Eros: Beauty and Sensuality.
Erotic love focuses on beauty and physical attractiveness, sometimes to the exclusion of qualities you might consider more important and more lasting. The erotic lover has an idealized image of beauty that is unattainable in reality. Consequently, the erotic lover often feels unfulfilled. In defense of Eros, however, it should be noted that both male and female Eros lovers have the highest levels of reward and satisfaction when compared with all other types of lovers (Morrow, Clark and Brock, 1995).

2. Ludus: Entertainment and Excitement
Ludus love is often seen as fun, a game to be played. To the ludic lover, love is not to be taken too seriously; emotions are to be held in check lest they get out of hand and make trouble. Passions never rise to the point at which they cannot be controlled and consciously aware of the need to manage love rather than to allow it to control him or her. The ludic lover is manipulative and the extent of one's ludic tendencies has been found to correlate with the use of verbal sexual coercion (Sarwer, Kalichman, Johnson, Early et al 1993). Ludic-oriented sexually coercive men also experience less happiness, friendship and trust in their relationships than do non-coercive men (Kalichman, Sarwer, Johnson & Ali, 1993). Ludic lover tendencies in women are likewise related to dissatisfaction with life (Yancy & Berglass, 1991).

3. Storge Love: Peaceful and Slow.
Like ludus love, storge love lacks passion and intensity. Storgic lovers do not set out to find lovers but to establish a companion-like relationship with someone they known and with whom they can share interests and activities. Storgic love develops over a period of time rather than in one mad burst of passion. Sex in storgic relationships comes late, and when it comes it assumes no great significance. Storgic love is sometimes difficult to separate from friendships; it is often characterized by the same qualities that characterize friendship: mutual caring, compassion, respect and concern for the other person.

4. Pragma: Practical and Traditional.
The pragma lover is practical and wants compatibility and a relationship in which important needs and desires will be satisfied. In its extreme, pragma may be seen it eh person who writes down the qualities wanted in a mate and actively goes about seeking someone who matches up. The pragma lover is concerned with the social qualifications of a potential mate even more than personal qualities; family and background are extremely important to the pragma lover, who relies not so much on feelings as on logic. The pragma lover views love as a necessity - or as a useful relationship - that makes the rest of the life easier. The pragma lover therefore asks such questions about the potential mate as, "Will this person earn a good living?" "Can this person cook?" "Will this person help me advance in my career?"

5. Manic Love: Elation and Depression.
The quality of mania that separates it from other types of love is the extremes of its highs and lows, its ups and downs. The manic lover loves intensely and at the same time worries intensely about and fears the loss of love. With little provocation, for example, the manic lover may experience extreme jealousy. Manic lover is obsessive; he/she has to possess the beloved completely - in all ways at all times. In return, manic lover wishes to be possessed, to be loved intensely. It seems almost as if the manic lover is driven to these extremes by some outside force or perhaps by some inner obsession that cannot be controlled.

6. Agape: Compassionate and Self-less
Agape (uh-GAH-pay) is a compassionate, egoless, self-giving love. Agape is non-rational and non-discriminative. It creates value and virtue through love rather than bestowing love on that which is valuable and virtuous. The agapic lover loves even when people with whom he or she has no close ties. This lover loves the stranger on the road, and the fact that they will probably never meet again has nothing to do with it. Jesus, Buddha, and Gandhi practiced and preached this unqualified love. Agape is a spiritual love, offered without concern for personal reward or gain. That agapic lover loves without expecting that the love will be returned or reciprocated. For women, agape love is the only love style positively related to their own life satisfaction (Yancy and Berglass, 1991).

Aug 8, 2008

The Tale of Her.

What drove him absolutely insane and absolutely in love was her dramatic and erratic sense of things. She could be could hate and love the same people, in the same moment, in the same sentence, and completely tolerate the giant schism that produced her high laughs and frank confessions.

But that was long before he found himself asking her "Why don't you try to be more like me," and she had giggled, frivolously; he looked at her in surprise, almost gagging, as the small bite of chicken dangled from his lower lip. She took the chicken and solemnly ate it, continuing to giggle. This was her way of telling him not to choke at her frivolous giggles. Because if he did, she was going to do something slightly more revolting than what made him laugh in the first place.

Men don't like to be intimidated, her friends warned her. But had she ever listened? She never did, she proudly announced, because it made her a symbol of their obedience and another brick in the wall. "Musicians don't have real lives," they'd quip lightly and she'd laugh them off again. She didn't like arguing anyway.

She wasn't damaged or disturbed, he thought ruefully. Her family was happy, her academic record was pretty straight and she'd stood her ground to peer pressure when every one wanted her to smoke. So she wasn't insane then, no. But to her moodswings, her violent outbursts, her pandemonic releases of emotional expression were getting a bit much for him to handle. He could not understand her, could not bring himself to, especially when their little boy was not even in grade school yet.

They had always wanted a little boy who would be his heir. His heir to his beetle-black eyes and thick lashes. But that was when they were in college, desperately in love, pathetically infatuated with each other. That's when she wore her hair down, just for him. He drove a motorbike around campus, driving her to the dhaba. When she clasped his shoulders, she felt like a heroine, a mad, bad heroine running away from the clutches of her evil stepsisters and driving into the sunset atop her shiny chariot.

Their romance ended with her moodswings. Doctors kept trying to diagnose her, they kept looking for answers. Answers that they were sure would cure her. But she didn't want a cure. She wanted to paint.

"The best ones," she murmured dreamily to him, her dress messy and her hair dried up with the colors of the rainbow, "are when I'm terribly angry or terribly sad. Isn't that weird?"

No, it wasn't weird, it wasn't weird, it wasn't weird. He wanted to shout or scream or let her know that it wasn't weird, it was just her bipolarity that was driving her to these artistic screams, didn't you hear the doctor saying that could also be an issue? Didn't you hear him? Don't you hear me?

But he never shouted. He never yelled. His first childhood memory was of a formidable distant relative giving him a sound beating over shouting at the top of his voice on a funeral. Yelling, rationalized the adult, was the defense we use when we want to be little children.

So the adult, the adult that kept shouting himself hoarse to his wife in his hidden inside world, made sure his wife never realized that their marriage was falling apart.

He made sure of it until he knew it had to be said. If not then - then when?

She was asleep that night after that long haul, that long haul of a day that began with her sobs and ended in her screams. He sent Faraz to his grandparents. "We're having a bad day," was all he had to say to her mother. Or sometimes it would be needless for those words to be spoken between the two. If he called at an early enough hour and began the conversation with, "Are you home, Aunty?" her mother knew exactly what was coming and was conditioned to reply, "Haan, haan, you don't worry".

She lay asleep. It was two and he was wiping off her nosebleed. His own jaw hurt. He kept gritting his teeth to un-feel the pain of the silver platter that came flying to his maxilla when she was ranting about "the miserable excuse" that was her life. He began whispering,

"The first time I saw you I knew you were the most amazing creature I'd seen. You were about to tell me to move my car and I'd have moved my coronary artery if you'd asked with that husky tone of yours. What times those were? .. That was when you knew who I was. That was when you called me by my name even when you were angry - and now you call me that 'bastard' who shares space with you in your home and doesn't let you live ..

"You are - perfect, Reddy, you are perfect. When you see the looking-glass, do you see my Reddy? Where has Reddy gone? Somewhere you have drowned your soul in your paint and your bleeds. Do you see him? That picture right there when we went to that park and I snapped that picture of you and Faraz and he was so happy? Look, Reddy, look how happy he is. Look how he's looking at his Mamma. Look at him, Reddy. This is our son. And this is our house. And it has everything but us. Everything but our dreams."

She stirred.

"How could you do this, Reddy. How could my Reddy leave me, I refuse to believe it. I know she still exists, somewhere in your paintings, in your bleeds, in your son. But she is too far beyond me to reach. She is out of my hands."

His voice began to raise.

"I want you to give her back to me. Give her back to me before I snatch her from you. I need her to help me love Faraz and build this house. You have to give her back to me."

He looked at her calm, static features.

"If you don't give her back to me, I will take her back. I cannot go on without you, Reddy. I want you back."

He got up and left the room. Her face was shining now.

His ears kept ringing of the words he'd said. The truth that had escaped him. The truth that it was unlivable, living with the monster Reddy had bred inside her, the uncontrollable Reddy, the freak Reddy, the unlivable Reddy. That he had forgotten, fallen weak, had been unable to love her for what she had turned into. She was unlovable, unlivable, unforgivable.

He kept gritting his teeth, kept clenching and unclenching the cloth with her blood on it. The night passed and he took a glass of milk with her favorite toast to her room where she lay on the bed, still asleep, still calm, still static.

Reddy. He smiled. My Reddy.

Here, he softly touched her shoulder. Her fingers were cold. The note was simple.

"Because you wanted me back and I was gone. I love you. Faraz must never know."

His jaw began to throb. Her mouth had fallen open a little. His heart was beating when hers wasn't. That sentence struck him like a neon sign which he wanted to shut off only it kept blinking like a big red and blue neon sign in the middle of the night on the highway. She's dead. No. I've killed her. He got up so suddenly the glass of milk spread on the bed, spilling a little over her face. Her smooth, dark face and those white spots of milk. Her mouth slightly open and some drop of blood maybe on the corner of her lower lip. Reddy is gone. I have killed her. His screams began to transcend his body, his soul, his room and his apartment. He sat back and touched the small of her lip and began to shudder. He got up again and grasped tightly the small bottle of pills she had taken inside her. My fault. This is my fault. I left her alone. I left my Reddy trapped here alone.

She did what he was afraid of. She had done what he had secretly prayed for but never expected. She had done what she had promised.

Aug 4, 2008

"Kismat Konnection"

Aziz Mirza is a Bollywood asset. His movies are always on a different parallel compared to the rest of the mindless plots-with-dance-numbers. "Yes Boss", "Raju Ban Gya Gentleman" "Chalte Chalte" etc have been memorable movies indeed. Though Kismat Konnection lacks the same elements the aforementioned movies, being far too bubbly and a little cheesy for the likes of an increasingly cynical audience of the day, it still proves to be a good watch. Two point five hours still is a lot longer than necessary in my book to see Shahid Kapoor struggling with fate, but hey. At least the good part is, I don't have to see mindless life-and-death dialogs between the guy and the girl and Imran Hashmi smashing glass so he can steal the ring his latest crush wants. Blakh thoo.

It's hard for me to ever like Vidhya Balan. She seems to be trying for the whole Kajol-naturale, which I'm afraid is just not cutting through. Amongst all the actresses I do see right now, Rani Mukherjee tops my list. I don't quite project whether Rani would've been a better choice for "Priya" (honestly, why does it always have to be Priya and Raj Malhotra?) in particular, but I definitely feel some other actress could've done a better job. Even Kareena Kapoor - but whoops. That's a definite faux pas.

Shahid Kapoor is a natural. Especially when he's being the regular guy who can throw fits when he's angry. People need to understand even heroes have temper issues. Unlike Shah Rukh Khan who can always manage to grin soppily or give an emotional speech when it's time for due irritation.

All in all, definitely something you could watch over the weekend, even with all the needless hip-hop beats and the happy-ever-after ending.

"The Dark Knight"

You'll see, I'll show you, that when the chips are down, these uh... civilized people, they'll eat each other.
The much awaited movie of 2008, especially after the death of critically acclaimed Heath Ledger, arrives and exceeds expectations of reviewers, box offices and most of all, non-Batman fans. Fantasy and comic-book fiction hardly have the appeal for audiences that prefer movies with a little zest and oomph. But turns out, every once in a while, there comes the movie that blends carefully fantasy, action, class and creativity.

Christopher Nolan has already been praised of his initial work of Batman Begins and with The Dark Knight he has simply proven once again that his filmmaking talents are a force to be reckoned with. Corny old city of Gotham and cliched villains such as Two-Face and The Joker are now characters with depth and study. Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker deserves all the critical applause that it is receiving. Acting as Batman's trusty nemesis, he turns an intolerable villain into a feat of art, depicting the ravings of a madman, his paranoid schizophrenia and the unquenchable thirst for chaos.

Christian Bale deserves no less credit. His conflicted cape and plastic suit, he delivers a great role, a greatly admirable performance. Gyllenhaal is forgetful enough and Gary Oldman makes superb acting look like a piece of cake. What disappointed me a little was Aaron Eckhart who looked a little steely and a little too predictable in his role as Harvey Dent. But I guess it was because Bale and Ledger had already set a bar high enough for this movie to be a treat to all movie goers.

I'm expecting a posthumous Oscar for Ledger; no doubt he'll be the favorite for the award owing to his mysterious death and a career that had only just taken off. Unfortunately in more ways than one, this year he certainly went down Hollywood history.

You truly are incorruptible, aren't you? You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won't kill you because - you're just too much fun. I think we're destined to do this forever.

Aug 3, 2008

Want-to-see List.

Following is the agenda in the coming weeks. I'm about to turn into an even more of a die-hard Meryl Streep fan than I was before.

  1. Mamma Mia! (2008) .... Donna
  2. Rendition (2007) .... Corrine Whitman
  3. Evening (2007) .... Lila Ross
  4. A Prairie Home Companion (2006) .... Yolanda Johnson
  5. The Hours (2002) .... Clarissa Vaughan
  6. Adaptation. (2002) .... Susan Orlean
  7. Music of the Heart (1999) .... Roberta Guaspari
  8. Chrysanthemum (1999) .... Narrator
  9. One True Thing (1998) .... Kate Gulden
  10. Dancing at Lughnasa (1998) .... Kate 'Kit' Mundy
  11. Marvin's Room (1996) .... Lee
  12. Before and After (1996) .... Dr. Carolyn Ryan
  13. The Bridges of Madison County (1995) .... Francesca Johnson
  14. The River Wild (1994) .... Gail Hartman
  15. Defending Your Life (1991) .... Julia
  16. Postcards from the Edge (1990) .... Suzanne Vale
  17. She-Devil (1989) .... Mary Fisher
  18. Out of Africa (1985) .... Karen Blixen
  19. Plenty (1985) .... Susan Traherne
  20. Falling in Love (1984) .... Molly Gilmore
  21. Silkwood (1983) .... Karen Silkwood
  22. Sophie's Choice (1982) .... Sophie Zawistowski
  23. Still of the Night (1982) .... Brooke Reynolds
  24. Alice at the Palace (1982) (TV) .... Alice
  25. The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981) .... Sarah / Anna
  26. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) .... Joanna Kramer
  27. The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979) .... Karen Traynor

Mera praa.

He'll drive you nuts and make you love him because of it.

He's on his way, I've said that before, but what I understand now is that it doesn't matter what ways God carves out for him; what matters is that he's freakin awesome.

So this is a big day. I'm admitting that instead of the awesome freak you can be with humming "Staying Alive" on the same pitch as BeeGees and forwarding Indian movies at the speed of light just so you can see what's at the end ...

... you really are ... freakin awesome.

Thanks, Z.

Had a great time with you today. :)

Aug 1, 2008

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"

Darker, surlier and creepier. Goodbye, Chris Columbus, I will not miss you!

Hello, David Yates! Bring on the ugly childhood, traumatic memories of the past, the boy who lived and the boy who grew up to be You-Know-Who.

And of course. The Boy Who Grew Up to be the Half Blood Prince.

Fans, enjoy. Non-fans, make an exception and anticipate this one. I guarantee you this will be worth the wait.

November 21, 2008.

T minus 113 days.